Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20111024

Financial Crisis
»Berlusconi Pressed by European Leaders
»Berlusconi: EU Cannot Give Lessons to Partners
»EU Eyes Norway ‘Oil Fund’ Rescue: Swedish PM
»EU Summits ‘Won’t Rescue Euro, Will Only Buy Time’
»Finland: Constitutional Law Committee Chairman Johannes Koskinen Says Government Made Unprecedented Mistake on EFSF
»France Stares Into the Euro-Crisis Chasm
»Holy See Supports Tax on International Financial Dealings
»Italy: Lega Nord’s Reguzzoni: No to Pension Reform & Property Tax
»Italy: Berlusconi Holds Emergency Cabinet Meeting
»Moody’s Puts Negative Outlook on Russia Banking System
»More Than One in Five People in Spain Live Below Poverty Line
»Rescue Plan Details: Euro Backstop to be Leveraged to One Trillion Euros
»Russia: Dvorkovich Joins Prophets of Economic Gloom
»Sarkozy ‘Sick’ of Cameron’s EU Interference: Reports
»Sarkozy Tells Cameron to ‘Shut Up’ on Eurozone
»Troika Says Greek Crisis is Worse Than Expected
»Van Rompuy: “Europe to Create a Bazooka to Fight Speculation”
»Construction Begins on Mosque, Center at Sugarcreek, Twp.
»Hannity Hosts Anti-Muslim Hate Group Leader to Analyze Event
»Meet Mitt Romney’s Radical, Right-Wing, Sharia-Phobe Foreign Policy Advisor
»Old American Theory is ‘Speared’
»Professor Plans Trip to Mecca
»Canada Warns EU to Not Rank Oil Sands as Dirty Energy
»Islamic Lender’s Troubles Put Homeowners in Limbo
Europe and the EU
»“A Look at Islam” Is Published in Germany
»Belgium:16-Year-Old Burglar Stabbed to Death
»Belgium: Spielberg ‘Brings Tintin Home’ Hollywood-Style
»British PM Seeks to Head Off Rebellion Over EU Vote
»Down With This Cult of Not-So-Merrie England
»Italy: Mt. Etna Stages a Spectacular Eruption
»Italy: Integrity of High-Speed Rail Building Site Fencing Ensured
»Moving to the Center: Right-Wing Populist Support Drops in Swiss Vote
»Norway: Oslo Rocked by Wave of Rapes
»Norway: Coffee in Oslo
»Spain: 3/4 of Spaniards Agree ‘Indignados Right to Protest’
»Suspected Russian Spies Arrested in Germany
»Sweden Threat Level Remains Elevated: Säpo
»Swiss Cabinet Jostling Begins as Far-Right Dips
»The 147 Companies That Control Everything
»UK: EDL Leader, Tommy Robinson Appears on BBC Radio West Midlands
»UK: Labour Councillor Discusses the EDL on BBC Radio West Midlands
»UK: Massive Changes at Abuse Mosque
»UK: The Five Most Potent Arguments Against the EU
»UK: When Islamophobes Fall Out
North Africa
»Al Qaeda Blamed for Abduction of Spanish Aid Workers in Algeria
»Frattini Calls on Libya to Respect Religious Freedom
»Islamists Take Lead in Tunisian Poll
»Libya: Tribes and Democracy: Libya’s Difficult Future
»Libya: Dozens of Dead Gaddafi Supporters Found, ‘May Have Been Executed’
»Libya: Mufti: ‘Gaddafi an Infidel, No Islamic Funeral
»Libya: Frattini: Worried at Non-Moderate Islam Infiltrations
»Libya: Hope and Anxiety Go Hand in Hand in Tripoli
»Libya: Sharia Frightens West, Muftis Feud Over Gaddafi Grave
»Libya: The Arab Spring May Yet Turn to Chilly Winter
»Russia Demands Inquiry Into Moammar Gadhafi’s Death
»Sharia Law Surprise for Secular-Minded Libyans
»Spanish and Italian Aid Workers Kidnapped in Tindouf, Western Sahara
»Tunisia Tastes Democracy: Early Results Point to Victory for the Islamists
»Tunisia: Ennahdha Heads for Victory, Seeking Allies
»Tunisia’s Powerful Party: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Israel and the Palestinians
»Rare Muslim Manuscripts Go on Display at Israel’s National Library
»This Was No Prisoner Exchange
Middle East
»Google Earth Reveals Ancient Stories
»Iran: Qom to Host “Islam and Orthodox Christianity” Conference
»Qatar: Doha to Host Islamic Sciences Academy Meet
»Saudi Arabi: We Are Recruiting for Al-Imam Mohammad Ibn Saudi Islamic University
»Stakelbeck: October 23rd a Turning Point for New Caliphate?
»Yemen Tribesmen Kidnap Russian Doctor: Hospital Official
South Asia
»Thailand: Bangkok Gets Set for Advancing Floods
»Thailand: Jihadist Gunmen Dressed as Women Kill Seven
Far East
»Society Falls Victim to China’s ‘One Child Policy’
Australia — Pacific
»Muslim Organisation MyPeace to Show Commercials Espousing Islamic Values During Top Rating TV Shows
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Somalian Shebaab Blamed for Bomb in Kenya Disco, 14 Injured
»Britons Demand Immigration Restrictions
»New York to Become Sanctuary City for Illegal Aliens
Culture Wars
»Who Are the Real Racists: Teachers Who Treat Black and White Children Equally, Or Lefties Who Complain It?
»Dark Matter Gets Darker: New Measurements Confound Scientists
»Giant Amoebas Discovered in Deepest Ocean Trench
»Mastodon Fossil Throws Up Questions Over ‘Rapid’ Extinction
»Skeptical Research Effort Confirms Global Warming, Again
»Tiny Toilers: Precision-Controlled Microbots Show They Could Take on Industrial-Scale Jobs (Video)

Financial Crisis

Berlusconi Pressed by European Leaders

Brussels, 24 Oct. (AKI/Bloomberg) — Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was put on the defensive at a crisis summit over the nation’s finances and appointments at the European Central Bank.

Before the leaders convened Sunday in Brussels, Berlusconi held face-to-face talks with European Union president Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission president Jose Barroso and then with German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

“I never flunked” an exam in my life, Berlusconi told reporters when asked if he was concerned over the push to cut Italy’s debt load, the biggest in Europe as a percentage of economic output after Greece. The premier added that he is thinking about a reform of the pension system and that new measures will be discussed at a cabinet meeting on Monday.

The demand for discipline underscored European leaders’ concern of the vulnerability of Italy, whose debt totals more than $2 trillion, accounting for almost 120 percent of its gross domestic product.

The jousting over Italy’s economy, which Berlusconi called solid, came as the billionaire sought to placate Sarkozy over the refusal of Lorenzo Bini Smaghi to quit his post on the Executive Board of the Frankfurt-based central bank.

Sarkozy backed Italy’s Mario Draghi to replace France’s Jean-Claude Trichet as head of the ECB with the understanding that the Florence-born Bini Smaghi would quit and make way for a French candidate for the board. Berlusconi passed over Bini Smaghi last week as Draghi’s replacement at the Bank of Italy.

“I’m sure that Bini Smaghi will realize that he cannot be the casus belli of a relationship that is worsening between us and France and that he will quit by the end of the year, as it was agreed,” Berlusconi told reporters.

“What should I do, should I kill him?” the 75-year-old Berlusconi said he told Sarkozy.

Berlusconi, who was caught on a wiretap published in a newspaper last month insulting Merkel, said he had a “long” conversation with the German leader about government finances at a meeting of European conservative leaders on the eve of the summit. Asked whether she was convinced by budget cuts Italy has taken, Berlusconi said: “I think so.”

Merkel called the meeting yesterday a “conversation among friends” with the leader of “a great and important partner for the euro area.”

The Italian government passed a 54 billion-euro package of spending cuts and tax increases in August to convince the ECB to purchase Italian bonds after the nation’s borrowing costs surged to euro-era records. The plan aims to balance the budget by 2013.

“Confidence won’t result merely from a firewall,” Merkel said. “Italy has great economic strength, but Italy does also have a very high level of debt and that has to be reduced in a credible way in the years ahead.”

Asked if he has confidence in the capacity of Italy to carry out economic reforms, Sarkozy said he had confidence in the country.

“Let’s trust the sense of responsibility of the Italian authorities as a whole,” Sarkozy said at a press conference. He declined to answer a follow-up question about whether he had confidence in Berlusconi, allowing Merkel to speak instead.

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

Berlusconi: EU Cannot Give Lessons to Partners

(AGI) Rome — In a note, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said, “No one is the European Union can nominate themselves and speak in the name of elected governments and the European people. No one is capable of giving lessons to their partners. On the other hand, the entire Italian governing class, if it wants to be considered thus, should unite in an effort to develop the necessary structural reforms on which the government has taken decisions and will take new decisions of great importance.” .

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

EU Eyes Norway ‘Oil Fund’ Rescue: Swedish PM

Norway’s gigantic 3-trillion-kroner ($541-billion) sovereign pension fund could come to the rescue of debt-riddled European economies if an idea aired by Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt gains ground.

Speaking on the sidelines of an EU summit meeting on Sunday, Reinfeldt said Norway’s fund and China’s financial resources were among the topics being talked about at ongoing meetings in Brussels. But the Swedish leader also stressed that the idea remained very much hypothetical for the moment. “It’s not what we’re discussing now. That’ll have to be the next step,” newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad quoted him as saying.

The hope in Europe is that the vast Norwegian fund might help supplement the EU’s own €440-billion rescue fund. But the fear in Norway is that merely owning debt won’t come with enough guarantees for future generations. Europe’s troubled finance markets have already taken a toll on the fund, which is heavily invested in the continent’s stocks and bonds.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Summits ‘Won’t Rescue Euro, Will Only Buy Time’

The EU crisis meetings now underway will at best buy time for the bloc to start tackling its debt problems in earnest. The euro needs fiscal union to survive in the long term — but how will leaders ever forge such a union if they can’t even agree on the most urgent firefighting measures, German commentators ask?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Finland: Constitutional Law Committee Chairman Johannes Koskinen Says Government Made Unprecedented Mistake on EFSF

Expert testimony also spread erroneous information to Parliament

Johannes Koskinen (SDP), the chairman of the Constitutional Law Committee of the Finnish Parliament, says that the government made an unprecedented mistake in legislation concerning Finnish liability for bailout loans granted to eurozone countries in financial crisis.

The committee discussed the matter on Friday after it came out that interest on the loans granted by the European Financial Stability Facility EFSF could double Finland’s liability.

Parliament had been under the understanding that Finland would be liable only for the principal of the loan — nearly EUR 14 billion.

Koskinen says that it is likely that the government will have to revise its bill on Finnish guarantees in the euro crisis. He sees the mistake as extremely embarrassing for the government.

“The limit that was agreed on the national level does not correspond with the treaty. It is likely that a new government proposal will be needed”, Koskinen says.

In addition to the error in the text of the law, some of the MPs on the Constitutional Law Committee are upset about erroneous information that the committee was given when the EFSF was discussed in the committee on December.

The committee asked the financial markets section of the Ministry of Finance for a written statement after it did not get the answers that it wanted during hearings that were held.

According to the statement, Finland’s liability would not exceed EUR 13.97 billion even in the worst case. The Finance Ministry did not mention the interest at all, and the text of the law and its preamble also give the impression that liability would be limited to EUR 13.97 billion. However, in the EFSF framework agreement Finland is committed to liability for interest.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

France Stares Into the Euro-Crisis Chasm

Falling productivity, a stagnating economy and growing debt: France’s economic health leaves plenty of room for improvement. Markets have begun to notice and the country threatens to become mired in the ongoing European debt crisis.

When it comes to French economic competitiveness, Guy Maugis has a front row seat. The 58-year-old is president of the German-French Chamber of Commerce and head of Bosch France. Some 8,400 people work in the French subsidiary of the German electronics giant and Bosch France long enjoyed a cost advantage over its parent company. “But we’ve completely lost it in the last 10 years,” says Maugis.

Maugis’ observations are reflected in the data as well: The French economy is losing its competitive edge. Productivity has declined dramatically and the balance of trade is chronically negative.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Holy See Supports Tax on International Financial Dealings

(AGI) Vatican City — The Holy See supports the proposal of an international tax on financial dealings. It should be made, according to a document the Papal Justice and Peace Council issued today, through fair rates, but modulated, with costs proportioned to the complexity of operations, especially of those carried out on the ‘secondary’ market. “Such a taxation — according to the note — would be very useful to promote global and sustainable development according to principles of social justice and solidarity; and could contribute to establish a world reserve to support the economies of the countries hit by crisis and to the regeneration of their monetary and financial systems” .

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

Italy: Lega Nord’s Reguzzoni: No to Pension Reform & Property Tax

(AGI) Rome — “The Lega (Nord) is against the pension reform and property tax”. The statement was made by Marco Reguzzoni, the House Lega NordGroup Leader, during a telephone conversation with Maurizio Belpietro. “We’ll attend the cabinet meeting and see what happens — Reguzzoni said — the Lega proposes incentives for mothers willing to accept part-time jobs in the Public Administration”.

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

Italy: Berlusconi Holds Emergency Cabinet Meeting

Under EU pressure, premier calls to raise retirement age

(ANSA) — Rome, October 24 — Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi called an emergency cabinet meeting Monday following explicit demands from France and Germany to boost growth and slash its debt.

Berlusconi proposed new reforms to the pension system in the wake of tough talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy insisting Italy take more strident measures to restore the trust of investors.

Previous initiatives to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67 have been blocked by the Northern League party, a vital part in Berlusconi’s coalition government.

“The League has always been against the idea of changing the pension age,” said the House whip for the Northern League Marco Reguzzoni. “We’ve proposed our alternatives and we’ll discuss them in the House”.

The move to raise the age for retirement benefits is supported across the eurozone and by the Bank of Italy, but pushing the measure has exposed weaknesses in Berlusconi’s government that has been plagued by internal divisions and allegedly distracted by scandals involving the premier and several other ministers.

Italy’s deadline to propose new budget cuts and growth initiatives is Wednesday, when all 27 EU countries will meet at another summit to discuss the spread of the crisis.

On Monday, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert confirmed his country’s “great faith” in the way Italy is handling the crisis.

“Now we need to wait and see what political proposals Rome can implement in the coming days,” he said.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said on Monday that Italy was already working on ways to boost economic growth and address EU concerns.

“Brussels is encouraging us, and its important to take that encouragement seriously given that it is in the best interest of young generations and of our country,” he said.

Italy last month approved a 54-billion euro austerity package aimed at balancing the budget in 2013 that convinced the European Central Bank to buy the nation’s bonds and reduce the risk of it being drawn into a Greece-style crisis.

But some experts fear the measures will slow an already sluggish economy even further.

Arriving at the summit on Friday, the head of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde said the IMF was ready to do “everything needed to help the eurozone find a solution to the crisis”.

David Riley, managing director of the Fitch ratings agency, which downgraded Italy and Spain two weeks ago, said he believed that Italy was solvent but ran the risk of illiquidity.

Berlusconi also met with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano Monday to address mounting concerns by EU leaders.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Moody’s Puts Negative Outlook on Russia Banking System

Moody’s changed its outlook of the Russian banking system to negative from stable due to a weak global recovery and market volatility that has helped cause a jump in investor capital flight. The global rating agency also said Russian growth in 2012 would slow to 2.8 percent of gross domestic product, from 3.8 percent growth estimated for 2011.

“Global financial market volatility, reduced access to wholesale funding, continued capital flight and downward pressure on the rouble, have already led to a liquidity squeeze in the Russian banking system,” said Moody’s vice-president Eugene Tarzimanov. Russia earlier this month reported a capital flight of $49.3 billion through the end of September — three times the $16 billion recorded one year ago.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

More Than One in Five People in Spain Live Below Poverty Line

The percentage of Spaniards living below the poverty line increased by a full percentage point last year from 2009 to 21.8 percent as the ongoing economic crisis left over a quarter of the population out of a job, according to a survey released Thursday by the National Statistics Institute.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Rescue Plan Details: Euro Backstop to be Leveraged to One Trillion Euros

Chancellor Angela Merkel has provided German party heads some details of the planned euro rescue package set for approval by European leaders on Wednesday. They include a Greek debt cut of up to 60 percent and leveraging the bailout fund to one trillion euros. The measures will be put to a full vote in German parliament on Wednesday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told German lawmakers that the financial strength of the euro rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, is to be leveraged to €1 trillion ($1.39 billion), and that a Greek debt cut of up to 60 percent is planned, opposition leaders said on Monday.

The type of leveraging planned remains unclear, with a number of versions being discussed. It emerged earlier on Monday that the controversial measure to increase the firepower of the €440 billion rescue fund will be put to a full votein the German parliament on Wednesday, rather than just a vote by the budget committee as initially planned.

Given the intense public debate on boosting the EFSF, Merkel’s center-right coalition decided to seek a broader mandate than just budget committee approval.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Russia: Dvorkovich Joins Prophets of Economic Gloom

As European leaders scrambled to solve the continent’s sovereign debt crisis Sunday, presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich joined the ranks of those predicting that the world is facing a long period of slow economic growth.

The forecast aligns Dvorkovich — who has said he would like to serve in a cabinet if President Dmitry Medvedev becomes prime minister in 2012 — with other top Russian figures who have predicted a bleak future for the economy, including former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin.

To expect international growth of 3 to 4 percent was “pointless,” Dvorkovich told a conference held by Alfa Bank on Friday. Two percent growth for at least five to seven years was more realistic, he said.

A global slowdown would hit demand for Russian goods, particularly hydrocarbon and metal exports. But it is not just the economy that would suffer. A $1 drop in the price of oil results in a 55 billion ruble ($1.8 billion) fall in government revenue, acting Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said earlier this month.

“If nothing serious is done, (there will be) a low growth rate for the Russian economy,” Dvorkovich said. “Of course, this will manifest itself in all indexes — budget policies, budget expenditure, all those indicators that are connected with social development and everything linked with the financial sector.”

Gross domestic product plunged 7.8 percent in 2009 but grew 4 percent last year. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said last week that the country could expect growth of more than 4 percent in 2011.

Speaking at the same event, Deputy Economic Development Minister Stanislav Voskresensky said the basic prognosis for Russian growth was 3 to 4 percent. But, he added, the ministry had conducted stress tests that showed if oil averaged $80 a barrel, growth would be 2.5 percent. If oil were at $60 a barrel, he said, growth would be 1.4 to 2 percent.

The current price of Urals crude, the benchmark for Russian oil, is $109.83. Dvorkovich is not the only high-level member of the Kremlin establishment to believe the global economy is set to stagnate. Two days before his departure from the Finance Ministry on Sept. 26, Kudrin made a similar prediction. “We’re in for a lost decade,” he said. “It’s already clearer that growth rates will be low and the fight to keep growth from dying out will take many years. Most likely, about five to 10 years.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sarkozy ‘Sick’ of Cameron’s EU Interference: Reports

French President Nicolas Sarkozy launched a scathing attack on British Prime Minister David Cameron at Sunday’s EU summit, saying he was “sick of him telling us what to do,” Britain’s press reported. During talks in Brussels to resolve the eurozone debt crisis, the French leader accused Cameron of “interfering in our meetings”, British newspapers The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph reported, citing diplomatic sources.

“We’re sick of you criticising us and telling us what to do,” Sarkozy reportedly told Cameron. “You say you hate the euro, you didn’t want to join and now you want to interfere in our meetings,” he added. Another newspapers, The Times, also reported that a row had erupted, but did not give exact details. Cameron later warned that countries outside the eurozone risked being frozen out amid efforts for a pooled response to the crisis crippling the 17-nation single currency bloc.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sarkozy Tells Cameron to ‘Shut Up’ on Eurozone

Tensions between Paris and London flared up on Sunday (23 October) amid crisis talks on the eurozone, as President Nicolas Sarkozy of France hit out at British criticisms of the single currency. “You have lost a good opportunity to shut up,” the Guardian, a UK paper, reports the French leader as telling UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

“We are sick of you criticising us and telling us what to do. You say you hate the euro and now you want to interfere in our meetings.” The row centred on concerns by the UK leader that decisions taken solely by the eurozone members would have impact on the single market shared by all 27 euro and non-euro using members of the European Union.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Troika Says Greek Crisis is Worse Than Expected

According to a report from the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, EU leaders need to reorganize Greece’s financial rescue measures to stop a downward spiral.

The collective report from the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), known as the troika, which was first shown to EU finance ministers and has now been revealed to the heads of state, reveals a true tragedy.

Greece will need further financial assistance from the international community for another 10 years before the country can start raising money again on the financial markets. Originally, Greece was supposed to be back on track by 2013. The troika estimates that the financial needs of Greece in the next decade will be in the region of 252 billion euros ($351 billion). That’s in addition to the 110 billion euro bailout that has mostly been distributed since its approval in 2010.

In July, European leaders approved a second bailout of 109 billion euros. Around half of that amount is being covered by private creditors. Toc achieve this, private and state-owned banks are set to forfeit around 21 percent of the money they are owed from government bonds.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Van Rompuy: “Europe to Create a Bazooka to Fight Speculation”

Belgium’s Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council, has told the VRT that the present Euro crisis is not only about saving Greece and the exact role of the EFSF. It is of vital importance to put a stop to speculation on the financial markets, he explained. For that purpose, the EFSF should be able to serve as a kind of bazooka to fire back if the financial markets should target new countries.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Construction Begins on Mosque, Center at Sugarcreek, Twp.

The Islamic Society of Greater Dayton announced that construction has begun on the group’s new mosque/family community center on South Alpha Bellbrook Road between Stutsman and Carpenter roads. Thus far:

  • The excavation of the basement is complete.
  • The excavation of the retention pond has begun.
  • Footer excavation was scheduled to begin Saturday.
  • Waste management areas have been marked off.
  • Construction trailer/office was delivered and set up on site.

Digging on the site began Oct. 13, and the progress can be seen on three YouTube videos posted on by several different individuals. Cara Tilford, Sugarcreek Twp. planner/zoning official, said the society received all its required building permits and is moving ahead on construction as approved in its 2008 township zoning commission approval, with a 19,000-square-foot building, half the size of the one originally planned. “They are respecting their neighbors’ properties and making sure their concerns are addressed,” she said. Society officials could not be reached for comment.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Hannity Hosts Anti-Muslim Hate Group Leader to Analyze Event

On the Friday edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity invited Pamela Geller, head of the anti-Muslim group Stop the Islamization of America, to discuss events in Libya and the Middle East. The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies Geller’s organization as an anti-Muslim “hate group,” and Geller herself has an extensive history of hate speech and extremist rhetoric — both of which she brought to her Hannity appearance.

Geller engaged in her usual anti-Muslim ranting, declaring that Sharia law “discriminates against women and non-Muslims, it restricts the freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.” After being asked by Hannity how many Muslims are radicalized, Geller replied, “I don’t think they’re radical, I think they’re devout.” She seemed to think Moammar Gadhafi had been doing just fine as Libya’s leader: “I think we have to question why we went into Libya. Libya had, after the Bush doctrine, abandoned their unconventional weapons, abandoned their WMD, was selling oil to us, less than the Saudi Arabians. I mean, why did we go into Libya then? Why didn’t we go after the real devil?”

That “devil,” apparently, is Iran. Geller declared that Iran was “the only site of the real Arab revolution,” with protesting women in “lipstick, high heels, lipstick, and hijab.” (Most residents of Iran are ethnic Persians, not Arabs.) She then outrageously asserted that President Obama “did nothing, he mowed them down in the street.” Hannity, meanwhile, joined in the extremist spirit, phrasing the question of how the United States works with the post-Mubarak government in Egypt as, “How you do think with evil people? What do you say, ‘Please be nice? Pretty please? Sugar on top?’ “ Hannity then said, “You know what I would do if I was President Obama? I would join with Israel and knock out Iranian nuclear sites tomorrow.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Meet Mitt Romney’s Radical, Right-Wing, Sharia-Phobe Foreign Policy Advisor

Robert Kagan. Eliot Cohen. Michael Hayden. Dov Zakheim. Michael Chertoff. Skim through the names of Mitt Romney’s recently foreign policy team, and you will be struck by the high level of experience, erudition, and pragmatism across the list. Indeed, since Romney announced his advisors on October 6, he has won praise for a foreign policy group that is unusually large and uncommonly strong. But one name sticks out: Walid Phares, a Lebanese Christian academic who has come under fire from Muslim advocacy groups and academics alike since his inclusion on Romney’s team. Muslim groups are decrying Phares’s close involvement with right-wing Christian militia groups during the Lebanese civil war. Academics note his relatively sparse credentials. But both complaints beg an obvious question: Just who is Walid Phares, and why would the risk-averse Romney add an obscure and controversial pundit to his star-studded foreign policy team?

A fog of conflicting rumors surrounds Phares’s role in the brutally violent Lebanese civil war that took place nearly three decades ago. Phares denies any involvement. Indeed, his spokesman recently told Politico that his client was a victim of confusion with “another man of the same name.” But Elias Muhanna-a visiting fellow at the Stanford University Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law and author of a highly esteemed blog about Lebanese politics, Qifa Nabki-assured me it is an established fact that “during the civil war [Romney advisor] Phares was involved with the Lebanese Forces. He held a high ranking position in their executive council.”

Today the Lebanese Forces is a mainstream political party that holds eight seats in the country’s parliament; three decades ago, however, it was a radical right-wing Maronite Christian militia and a major participant in the Lebanese civil war. The militia, like some other parties to the vicious war, fought for ethnic domination and occasionally targeted civilians for massacre. Phares himself is not accused of war crimes, but as part of the group’s senior leadership, he did help set the Lebanese Forces’s aims and strategy.

After the war, Phares emigrated to the U.S. and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Miami. In 2006, he was made a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Today, he holds a teaching post at the National Defense University. He also provides frequent comment on the Middle East for Fox News and Secure Freedom Radio, anti-Sharia activist Frank Gaffney’s popular right-wing radio show. Then, on October 6, Phares was named co-chair of Romney’s Middle East working group, as well as a Special Advisor.

According to his resume, Phares is now a conservative scholar of terrorism. But Stanford terrorism expert Martha Crenshaw told me that the name did not ring a bell. “He’s not in the mainstream as an academic,” she said. “I’m not familiar with his work on terrorism.” Nor is Phares widely respected in the conservative foreign policy establishment. “It’s interesting that while Romney’s other foreign policy advisors are highly esteemed, Phares is not a well-known commentator on Middle Eastern affairs,” Muhanna noted. “I’m more confused than anything else, given what I know about the types of initiatives Phares has been involved in,” Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security told me. “When you have a lot of credible scholars and practitioners within the Republican Party, why would you select as co-chair of your policy committee someone who is widely viewed as an extremist?”

Many foreign policy experts with whom I spoke, but who refused to comment on the record, told me they thought Phares’s selection was simply a vetting error by the Romney campaign. But Matt Duss at the liberal Center for American Progress had an alternative explanation. In his view, the Phares selection may be a dog-whistle to a particular group of conservatives that Romney has, until now, hardly attempted to court: anti-Sharia zealots, who happen to enjoy a strong base of support in Iowa. While the anti-Sharia crowd cares little for impeccable credentials or decades-old foreign conflicts, it cares a great deal about the threat of Sharia law. By tapping Phares, Romney could get in the good graces of this group and inoculate himself against the possibility of being labeled “soft on Sharia.”

This theory dovetails well with Phares’ research interests, as well as the intellectual company he keeps; his signature issue is warning against secret Muslim groups aiming to establish Sharia in the United States. “It is absolutely constitutional and moral that citizens reject Sharia as a legal system that takes away their rights,” he told Fred Grandy of WMAL Washington, D.C. last year-a message he has repeated many times. And this February, when Iowa Republican Representative Steve King held congressional hearings on the dangers of Sharia law, Phares was named as an expert witness. He never testified, however, as King withdrew the invitation following complaints from Muslim groups.

In hiring Phares, a senior presidential campaign staffer explained to me, Romney may very well be learning from the mistakes of Tim Pawlenty, who was widely reported to have a “Sharia Problem” with hard-core conservative activists in Iowa. “Tim Pawlenty caught a great deal of grief for a period of time from the right, thanks to Dick Morris’s book, which raised the Sharia mortgage debacle,” the staffer told me. “The worry was that Morris’ assertions, even though false, might have an effect on future conservative Iowa caucus-goers.” The staffer was referring to Morris’ 2008 book, Catastrophe,which attacked Pawlenty for “sponsoring a Sharia-compliant program to help Muslims buy homes without violating their religious prohibition against paying interest.” Pawlenty issued multiple denials, insisting he had no knowledge of the Minnesota program, and even called Morris “absolutely crazy” and “offensive.” But the damage had been done.

Pawlenty’s stumble, however, may be Romney’s gain. By enlisting Walid Phares, a card-carrying Sharia-phobe and close associate of Gaffney, Romney might be signaling that he has learned from the Iowa troubles of his one time rival and current endorser. If Romney earns a surprising victory or second-place finish in the state, he might have the Republican presidential nomination sewn up by the end of January. Whether electing to receive counsel from an ex-official of a radical, right-wing militia and current ally of the hard-core, anti-Sharia community plays well with independent voters next November-well, that’s another story.

Jarad Vary is an intern at The New Republic.

[JP note: Finally, a word I can identify with — Sharia-phobe.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Old American Theory is ‘Speared’

New dates for a mastodon bone pierced by a projectile point confirm that it is 13,800 years old. The bone, discovered in the 1970s in Washington State, contradicts the “Clovis-first model,” which suggests that humans first crossed into the Americas from Siberia some 13,000 years ago. “Humans clearly had a role in these extinctions and by the time the Clovis technology turns up at 13,000 years ago — that’s the end. They finished them off,” said Michael Waters of Texas A&M University.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Professor Plans Trip to Mecca

A UA professor is about to embark on a journey, and she said she has a 50 percent chance of returning alive.From Oct. 26 till Nov. 11, Nehad Shawky, an Arabic professor, will complete the Hajj, a command of the five pillars of Islam, which means, “to go visiting a place.” In Islam, this means going to Mecca. Shawky spoke about her upcoming expedition to a group of audience members in Gorgas Library on Oct. 20. “I want to go there to control myself, to manage anger,” she said. “This trip is how to really accept God’s will without protesting.”

Shawky said she’s already begun her lessons. Two weeks before taking off, everything was stolen from her house. She said the value of the goods was two million pounds — about $3.1 million USD. Over the past years, Shawky’s prepared for this trip, saving up and getting her house in order. “You cannot borrow the money,” she said. “You are not to have any debts. If anything in the house needs the money, you are not to go to the Hajj.”

Before making the trip, she must get in a state of Ihram. This means a specific cleansing as well as donning the pilgrim’s veil and white dress. Afterwards, she will verbally declare her intention to perform Hajj, reciting the Talbiyah. She has covered the small bases, like buying a backpack, slippers and other necessities. Waving a decorated hand, she stopped to explain the henna her friend drew as another means of preparation. Shawky said this mark of happiness and joy also combats diabetes, blood pressure, bacteria and arthritis.

Once she’s declared her intention, there are certain prohibitions. She must not clip her nails, cover her head, wear perfume, or have sex.

“You have to leave it for a while,” she said. “Even if you have the drive, well, forget it.” Shawky said the Hajj is a form of Jihaad, which means fighting the bad things within you, something many have come to misunderstand. “Who said fight in God had to be in the war?” she said. “Fight the wrongs within yourself. Like, you lie, you forget your prayers, whatever.”

She said the media has misrepresented Islam. It forbids disrespect of other religions, leading many to consider it the religion of tolerance. “Unless you really admit them, you are not a Muslim,” she said.Pilgrims enter Mecca from one of five entry points, depending on the location they come from. They must also offer an animal sacrifice, which Shawky plans to purchase. Completing the pillar is a dangerous expedition, claiming between 300 and 3,000 martyrs each year, she said.

Her own sister almost joined the statistics years ago after being trampled during the ritual. She stayed in intensive care for three years, Shawky said. Normally a 21-day excursion, Shawky is taking the 16 day express Hajj to avoid putting pressure on her substitute at UA. One of her students, Stephanie Himmond, a sophomore majoring in economics, said she learned a lot by attending. “I didn’t know that many people were there,” she said.

Awareness was part of Fran O’neal’s, the director of the International Honors Program, goals. O’neal said UA is trying to offer students intercultural experiences without having to leave campus. “I try to act as a contact person or ‘First Friend’ to many of our international faculty,” she said. One of the attendees was one of Shawky’s first friends. Shawky was introduced to Karen McGlothin as a houseguest. “When she first came, she had no place to stay,” McGlothin said.

Shawky stayed with McGlothin and her husband for a few days, and they’ve since remained good friends. McGlothin said the presentation has her interested in learning more.

Confident that future generations won’t ever miss out on learning more about the Hajj, Shawky said she never fears Mecca’s destruction. “Not a chance,” she said. “The pigeons that fly over don’t even spoil it.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Canada Warns EU to Not Rank Oil Sands as Dirty Energy

(OTTAWA) — Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver on Monday decried a European Union proposal to rank Canadian oil sands as a more polluting fuel than conventional oil. In a letter to European Union Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger, the minister said the proposed the proposed Fuel Quality Directive is not backed by science, would violate the Union’s trade obligations, and put at risk the West’s energy security.

“Canada will not hesitate to defend its interests,” Oliver wrote. Canada does not export crude oil from its oil sands to Europe, but government and industry officials fear tagging the supply as “dirty” could set a precedent for other markets. “Any policies that impede the free flow of global oil supplies are detrimental to our collective energy security,” Oliver wrote.

“Implementation of the current FQD proposal could have significant and unintended consequences to the world oil supply to the extent it introduces discriminatory and non-science based impediments to global energy markets.” Furthermore, he said there is no credible environmental basis for treating oil sands crude separately from other sources of crude oil. “Heavy crude is heavy crude,” he wrote.

Oil sands are deposits of heavy oil, or bitumen, found in sand and clay. While conventional crude oil is pumped from the ground, the sticky oil must be extracted from underneath the region’s coniferous forest, separated from the sand and water, then upgraded and refined. Environmentalists say exploiting the unconventional oil sands of Alberta requires energy that produces a large volume of greenhouse gas. The Canadian minister’s rebuke comes only days after Canada and the European Union concluded a ninth round of free trade talks. A trade pact is expected in 2012.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Islamic Lender’s Troubles Put Homeowners in Limbo

Dozens of Muslim homeowners are complaining that they have been left in limbo by a disintegrating “sharia-compliant” mortgage arrangement, putting a focus on the emergence of parallel banking systems in Canada. Some Muslims believe that sharia, or Islamic law, bans interest-bearing bank arrangements because they are considered akin to usury, and a small industry of middlemen has sprouted up to address those concerns.

Toronto’s UM Financial, an Islamic lender backed by a credit union, was put into receivership this month by an Ontario Superior Court order. This has left more than 170 Muslim homeowners with questions such as: Who controls their properties? How much money do they still owe? To whom do they pay the money? How will this accord with religious principles? “What … is going on? That’s where we are right now,” local Muslim leader Mohammad Robert Heft said at a meeting of more than 75 homeowners in a Scarborough strip mall on Saturday.

While there was consensus at the meeting that no one risked losing their homes, little else seemed clear. “It’s such a mess. There are 160 of us in the same boat,” said Mr. Heft, as he was elected head of a steering committee. “This has implications for the image of Islam,” he added, advising that he and other UM Financial clients had to conduct themselves “honourably” to avoid more messy public fallout.

UM Financial had effectively served as a buffer between Muslim homeowners and Credit One, a credit union. The deal was that UM Financial would help its Muslim clients buy their homes and be paid in monthly payments — including service premiums — over long periods of time. The arrangement lasted six years but unravelled as the credit union and UM Financial went to court in a dispute over money. The management of the portfolio has been passed to a receiver, Grant Thorton LLP, which says it is reviewing matters.

Some critics suggest such practices amount to mortgage by another name. Another critique is that they invite abuse of “the poorest sections of homeowners in the Muslim world, who have been told, ‘If you deal with banks that deal with interest, you will go to hell,’“ said Tarek Fatah, a liberal Toronto Muslim who points out what he regards as fundamentalist practices. Other observers say Canada needs to figure out a way to better regulate sharia financing models, given the brisk demand. “It’s going to grow,” said Walid Hejazi of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, which now offers courses in Islamic finance. “In the U.S., it’s doing well, in the U.K. it’s doing well, but in Canada it’s lagging.”

Prof. Hejazi said various levels of Canadian governments, as well as big banks, are studying Islamic finance models — up to $1-trillion of “excess liquidity” in the Gulf states could be translated into some foreign direct investment one day. There are also discussions, he added, about whether Toronto should seek to become a North American hub of Islamic banking. “If you get more players you get more transparency.”

UM Financial circulated a statement on Oct. 12, which said “it is true that UM Financial Inc. has ceased operations,” but the overarching company, and CEO Omar Kalair, “continue with business as usual.” The statement added that “the UM Group” continues to run separately incorporated credit card, real-estate investment, and financial-advisory arms, among other business lines. Mr. Kalair last night said he can’t comment on the specific business issues, but he stressed that the Islamic financing model is still solid. “A majority of people still want to stay with it. There is a market demand for these products.” The court order on receivership “does not affect the homeowners’ rights or obligations,” said Michael Creber, a partner at Grant Thorton. No one should be at should be at risk of losing their homes as long as they continue making monthly payments, he explained.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

“A Look at Islam” Is Published in Germany

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — Latest book on Islam is published in Germany to provide more aspects of the religion for the German speaking world. “A Look at Islam” is the name of the latest book on Islam authored by Parviz Zamurad Yabiua. This book covers a wide range of Islamic topics related to different aspects of the divine religion. Aspects discussed in this book cover religious laws (Sharia) to social issues are covered. The book, in 246 pages, discusses some ideological issues as well as the duties of the Muslims towards the people, the society they are living in.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Belgium:16-Year-Old Burglar Stabbed to Death

A 16-year-old youth who broke into a house with a view to opening a safe has been stabbed to death. The incident happened in the Antwerp suburb of Borgerhout.

The burglar obliged the property’s owner to open his safe. The owner then managed to take hold of a knife and stabbed the burglar. The 16-year-old, who was not acting alone, managed to flee with his accomplices, but succumbed to his injuries a little further along. The youngster who was killed is of Moroccan extraction. The resident is an elderly Fleming.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Belgium: Spielberg ‘Brings Tintin Home’ Hollywood-Style

Belgium rolled out the red carpet for Tintin, its most celebrated son, as Steven Spielberg offered a Hollywood-style premiere of his blockbuster-to-be to enthusiastic crowds in the comic book hero’s home city. “It is a great honour for us to bring Tintin home,” Spielberg told a news conference. “It was important to me. Brussels is his birthplace. Tintin is coming back.”

Fans swamped the city centre as airborne acrobats danced dangling from wires across giant scenes from the Tintin albums, and a parade of vintage cars, as portrayed by author Herge in albums set in the 1940s, cranked into town. Posters of the intrepid boy reporter with the quiff and funny pants plastered the city, and Alain Chantrenne, owner of a polished 1949 Buick, said “it’s wonderful to see an American interested in a hero from Belgium.”

Co-produced by “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson, who will direct two sequels to Spielberg’s “Tintin”, the movie 30 years in the making is billed in the director’s own words as a kind of “Indiana Jones for kids.” “I discovered Tintin in my thirties,” Spielberg said. “Unfortunately, these books never came to America. We didn’t have access to these books. I became an instant fan.” “Hopefully, if the movie is popular in America, the books will be perhaps published. It will be a great thing.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

British PM Seeks to Head Off Rebellion Over EU Vote

(LONDON) — Prime Minister David Cameron sought to head off a major rebellion within his party over Europe on Monday, urging lawmakers not to act “rashly and prematurely” and to reject a referendum on Britain’s membership. Cameron said he sympathised with eurosceptics in his Conservative Party who wanted a new relationship with Brussels, but said now was not the time when all efforts should be focused on resolving the eurozone debt crisis. “Our national interest is to be in the EU,” he told the House of Commons.

Between 60 and 100 of the party’s 305 members of parliament are expected to defy the Tory leader’s orders and back a motion calling for a referendum on membership, in the first serious challenge to Cameron’s 18-month premiership.

Defeat for the government in the vote Monday is unlikely, because the Liberal Democrats — the Conservatives’ euro-friendly junior coalition partners — and the main opposition Labour Party are both expected to vote with the government. But the rebellion is politically significant, particularly as polls suggest it has public support. A YouGov survey for the Sunday Times this weekend found 66 percent of Britons back a referendum on European Union membership.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Down With This Cult of Not-So-Merrie England

by Charles Moore

Charles Moore sees Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth at the Apollo Theatre.

If no one much had seen Jerusalem, I would have been enthusiastically urging them to do so. Indeed, I still do so. The tragic-comic power and physical vitality of Mark Rylance’s central performance are more than enough to set the play well above the average. But Jerusalem, just returned to the stage for a West End run, has now become a cult. On the night I went, large parts of the audience gave it a standing ovation, cheering almost as if they were political supporters after a piece of mass oratory. What is this about?

Rylance’s character, Johnny “Rooster” Byron (funny how the name “Rooster” is a signifier of outcast, crazy wisdom: see also the film True Grit) talks in wonderful, fantastical riffs. One of them is about how all Byron boys are born with teeth, wearing a cloak and capable of speech. Johnny claims that, after being born, he asked: “What is this dark place, mother?” “It is England, my boy,” she answers.

The play is about the condition of England. The curtain is made out of the flag of St George and the action takes place on St George’s Day. The battered old caravan in a Wiltshire wood that is Rooster’s home has a railway sign saying “Waterloo” stuck to it. And of course the play’s title derives from that mystical effusion of William Blake in which he asks a series of questions (“And did those feet…?”) about what may once have happened in England, to all of which the sober, truthful, unimaginative answer is “No”.

The modern England conjured up by Jez Butterworth, the playwright, is dark because it is unfree, and has forgotten its essence. An estate of executive homes threatens Rooster’s sylvan idyll. Health-and-safety, the police and Kennet and Avon District Council are all closing in on him. Even the St George’s Day fair in the village of Flintock has become tame compared with the good old days recalled by Rooster’s younger associate, Ginger (Mackenzie Crook), when punters queued up to pay a small sum to kick a leading citizen in the testicles “all for charity”.

Against this culture of compliance and high-visibility yellow jackets, Rooster and his band of outlaws — under-age girls, drug-abusers, benefit-swindlers and an elderly professor who is crazed by grief and inclined, conveniently, to quote learned stuff about the legend of St George and the merry month of May (though it’s April) — hold out. Rooster is Robin Hood or Wayland the Smith or the Lord of Misrule. In him is concentrated the essence of Old England before eviction orders and mains drainage. He is damaged and threatened, strong and supernatural, in equal parts. He is defeated, yet victorious.

In their standing ovation, the audience is identifying with Rooster, and this is where the fans of the play and, to a lesser extent, the play itself, begin to irritate. You can bet with reasonable certainty that if these cheering theatregoers actually had Rooster and his rout living at the bottom of their gardens, they would be organising petitions against them. It would be the Wiltshire version of Dale Farm. As soon as Rooster’s pikey way of life moved beyond wearing hats at jaunty angles and keeping hens under the caravan to playing loud music in the middle of the night, trading illegal substances and chucking empty beer cans about, they would have the law on to him. And who, to be honest, could blame them? People who welcome gipsies on to their property tend only to be those with extremely long drives.

If the English love of freedom now amounts to no more than yobbish rebellions concocted in the pub after lots of vodka and Red Bull, then it has became a pretty poor thing. One detects, beneath all the profanities now compulsory in any drama that purports to describe “gritty” reality, a vision of English life as sentimental as those early-Victorian pictures of Merrie England some time in the Middle Ages when apple-cheeked totty danced round maypoles.

To be fair, the play, unlike the fans, seems aware of this danger. As it develops (at too great a length), it becomes more sombre. It makes clear that Rooster, despite being a mad, witty fellow, is also a loser, a cheat, a loner. His little son, who shows up, by an uncomfortable plot device, at the worst moment, seems to fear him rather than admire him. There is no suggestion that the man tells the truth about anything. The worst bits of the play are those in which Rooster delivers speeches about the spirit of England. The best bits — and there are many — are when it leaves off preaching and wanders into the realm of the imagination. I know nothing about Butterworth’s method of composition, but he would seem to combine a lot of time spent in rural pubs with a feel for Shakespeare for which Rylance himself, for 10 years the artistic director of the Globe Theatre, is also famous.

An aspect of the genius of Shakespeare is his reluctance to make a Point with a capital P. His bosky scenes, which appear in several plays, are comic, antic, poetic, not political. Butterworth’s rude mechanicals are at their best when they follow this tradition. There is a marvellous bit when Rooster tells the story of his conversation with a 90-foot giant who told him he built Stonehenge. There is a less marvellous bit, at the end, when he tries to drum up the giants to save his version of England. Personally, I am a bit of a sucker for Puck, and the magic of “oak, ash and thorn”, but you have only to try to grasp this magic for it to vanish away.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Italy: Mt. Etna Stages a Spectacular Eruption

(AGI) Catania — A spectacular eruption is going on the Mount Etna volcano. It is the seventeenth time this year since the new south-eastern crater started being active. At 8,30 p.m. local time lava flows as high as hundreds of meters could be seen from the Ionic coast. According to the italian national institute of geophysics and volcanology, the crater’s activity started forty minutes earlier, when the ash cloud was carried by a moderate wind. The ash cloud caused the airport in Catania to close.

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

Italy: Integrity of High-Speed Rail Building Site Fencing Ensured

(AGI) Turin — The integrity of the net fencing at the building site of the high-speed rail link in Val di Susa has been ensured. The high number of police officers guarding the site deterred protesters from even trying to get near the fencing.

It was announced by the police in Turin referring to today’s demonstrations against the TAV high-speed rail link in Val di Susa. In a statement, the police explained that the goal of ensuring the integrity of the fencing was achieved “thanks to the professionalism shown by the personnel of the various law enforcement agencies involved, and the public security strategy adopted to discourage any illegal and violent acts”.

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

Moving to the Center: Right-Wing Populist Support Drops in Swiss Vote

For the first time in decades, support in Switzerland for the right-wing populist SVP party has declined. But with a splintering of the center, that doesn’t mean the party’s anti-immigration message will be any less prominent. Indeed, the next referendum is already on the horizon.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway: Oslo Rocked by Wave of Rapes

Norway’s capital Oslo has seen a sharp increase in cases of outdoor rape, with the number of attacks in 2011 already double the total for the previous year, according to figures compiled by newspaper Aftenposten. Police in Oslo registered 24 such cases in 2010 compared to 48 so far this year, Aftenposten said.

Opposition politicians are again raising the alarm and making connections to “the porno generation”. An alert has been put out for a “non-Western-looking” suspect after the most recent attack. “It can not be denied that many of the culprits have an ethnic background with a critical view of women,” Conservative party justice critic Andre Oktay Dahl told TV2. “We need more visible policing,” he said.

He called for a force of “volunteer police like has been done in Canada”. Others have called for the introduction of a specialized vice squad. One of Saturday night’s two assaults happened just metres from the pristine palace residence of Norway’s royal family.

TV images of the crime scene of Oslo’s 48th sexual assault of the year showed forensic experts in white coveralls working against the backdrop of the Royal Palace. A 20-year-old woman was attacked by two men after leaving the company of friends to walk home through Slottsparken palace park. One of her two assailants was described as “dark-skinned and round in the face”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway: Coffee in Oslo

Now Oslo is to coffee what San Sebastian or Copenhagen is to food: it’s where you go to get your mind blown. Make it to Tim Wendelboe, or to Java Espressobar & Kaffeforretning or Mocca Kaffebar & Brenneri (both are from Robert Thoresen, the first World Barista Champion and the owner of Kaffa), and you will find yourself at one of the great coffee shops in the world. The drink to order is sort kaffe, which means “black coffee.” The selections change often, so ask what’s brewing best that day, and never ask for milk or sugar. Take a seat, let it cool a little, and enjoy how elegant a coffee can taste. The talent at the top of the Oslo coffee scene is so dazzling it throws off the curve.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: 3/4 of Spaniards Agree ‘Indignados Right to Protest’

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 24 — Three out of four Spaniards consider that the ‘indignados’ taking part in the demonstrations called by the May 15 movement (15-M) are basically right to do so. And for more than eight out of ten of the nation’s population, (81%), the true governors of the world are not its nations but its markets. This is the result of a survey conducted by Metroscopia, which appears in today’s edition of El Pais.

Following the world-wide mobilisation of October 15, which saw tens of thousands of protesters on the streets of Madrid, Spain’s ‘indignados’ are continuing to attract much more sympathy (54% of those interviewed), than rejection (27%), while 73% of Spaniards consider that they are basically in the right. Although just 20% of the interviewed say that they have taken part in any of the demonstrations called by the 15-M movement, 63% think that the protests should go on. The survey also reveals that the ‘indignados’ protests could influence the outcome of the general elections of November 20: while 73% say it will not affect the way they intend to vote, 30% of Socialist voters and 12% of those voting PP say that it will.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Suspected Russian Spies Arrested in Germany

Special police units in Germany have arrested two suspected spies who are believed to have been active for 20 years. The married couple are said to have worked for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.

The KGB was remodeled after the fall of the communist regime as the Federal Security Service (FSB). Unlike the FSB, the SVR deals in international — and often industrial — espionage. The man in this case is a mechanical engineer who is said to have worked for a supplier of spare parts for cars and spied on the company.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden Threat Level Remains Elevated: Säpo

Swedish security service Säpo has chosen to keep the terror threat level in Sweden elevated due to the increased mention of the country on terrorist-inspired web pages. In October 2010 Säpo upgraded the terror threat against Sweden for the first time in the country’s history from grade 2 (low threat) to 3 (heightened threat) on a 5-grade scale. At the time, Säpo head Anders Danielsson said that the threat was “specific but not immediate”.

A year later, he revealed to daily Dagens Nyheter (DN) that the threat against Sweden from last year was centred on a specific person, who it was feared would try to strike against Sweden. This person has since been detained for another crime and is no longer a threat to the country. “A year ago we had a concrete threat which made us upgrade the threat level. This particular threat has subsequently been eliminated. We have contributed to the presumptive offender being held accountable for another crime committed,” Danielsson told DN.

Despite this, Säpo is not prepared to lower the current alert. “This is because the Counter-Terrorism Co-operative Council (Nationellt centrum för terrorhotbedömning) has registered that Sweden occurs more often on al-Qaeda-inspired web pages. Lars Vilks is one of the reasons, as is Sweden’s presence in Aghanistan,” Danielsson told the newspaper.

In September, Säpo apprehended four people in Gothenburg, on suspicion of preparing a terrorist attack on an art gallery exhibition which Vilks was reportedly going to visit.

Vilks has been under threat since his drawings of the prophet Muhammad, published in a Swedish newspaper, caused a wave of condemnation from Muslims worldwide. The four were believed to have ties to Somali fundamentalist movement al- Shabaab.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swiss Cabinet Jostling Begins as Far-Right Dips

Swiss political parties on Monday began haggling for seats in the next cabinet, after an election that saw major parties including the far-right SVP lose ground to smaller and moderate parties like the Green Liberals.

“We will not make any concessions” in the battle for cabinet seats, said Toni Brunner, SVP chairman, even though his party’s share of votes fell from 28.9 percent to 25.9 percent. “We are still the biggest party as we were previously,” he noted.

Since the 1950s, the seven ministerial posts have been allotted to the country’s four biggest political parties — two seats each for the centre-right Liberals, Christian Democrats and the Socialists, with the remaining seat going to the SVP.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The 147 Companies That Control Everything

Three systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have taken a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide and analyzed all 43,060 transnational corporations and share ownerships linking them. They built a model of who owns what and what their revenues are and mapped the whole edifice of economic power.

They discovered that global corporate control has a distinct bow-tie shape, with a dominant core of 147 firms radiating out from the middle. Each of these 147 own interlocking stakes of one another and together they control 40% of the wealth in the network. A total of 737 control 80% of it all. The top 20 are at the bottom of the post. This is, say the paper’s authors, the first map of the structure of global corporate control.


NOTE: go to link for URL to The New Scientist

[Return to headlines]

UK: EDL Leader, Tommy Robinson Appears on BBC Radio West Midlands

Having just interviewed Waseem Zaffar, Labour Councillor for Lozells & East Handsworth ward, Birmingham, about his letter to the Home Secretary, Teresa May, requesting that the EDL demonstration, planned for Birmingham on Saturday 29th October be banned, Adrian Goldberg then spoke to Tommy Robinson, leader of the English Defence League to hear his side of the story.

Why Are the EDL Protesting in Birmingham Again?

Adrian Goldberg asked Tommy Robinson to explain what he plans to do in Victoria Square next week and why he is doing it? “We’re doing it…there’s a list of reasons, where do I start?” “There’s constant problems coming from the Birmingham area, I talk to Brummies on regular occasions about what’s happening within their communities.” Mr Robinson said with enthusiasm. “We’ve seen undercover mosque programmes, constantly, anytime it goes to Birmingham. You’ve seen the Madrasa schools, where it’s a ticking time bomb. What’s being taught in these Islamic Madrasa schools, across the country — it’s homophobic, it’s anti-Semitic, it’s anti-democratic and it’s anti-British and a whole generation are being turned against us. As we’ve seen they can’t even walk on the same side of the street as us.”

“So what is homophobic, anti-Semitic and anti-British?” Mr Goldberg enquired. “Their views on…you had a preacher at Birmingham University, come over to Birmingham University last year. He is on record as saying, that, when he is talking about adultery and homosexuality, that it is a public crime, it deserves a public punishment. Adultery is punishable by death, a slow and painful death by stoning — and he’s talking at Birmingham University!” Mr Robinson said.

Mr Goldberg responded: “That is a preacher (I’m not aware of this — but, I’m not disputing that it happened, I just don’t know) that’s a preacher that came to Birmingham, who is not of the Birmingham Muslim community.”

“You’ve just had six local Muslims arrested again.” Mr Robinson added. Mr Goldberg didn’t think that they should be commenting on people that had not yet been convicted, in keeping with the finest British tradition and that would ensure that they could carry on the conversation without being taken off the airwaves. Tommy agreed. Mr Goldberg asked whether Tommy believed that as a whole the Muslim community of Birmingham were homophobic, anti-Semitic and anti-British.

“No, I believe that if they are following the teachings of the Quran, then yeah, it’s homophobic, yes it’s anti-Semitic. Do not take Jews or Christians as your friends. It promotes death for homosexuals. It promotes a lot of hatred. There is so much hatred coming out of it. Kill the disbelievers wherever you find them. Strike fear into the heart of the disbeliever. All these things”

Mr Robinson went on: “But don’t get me wrong, I’ve grown up in Luton, in a multi-cultural town. Some of the best people I’ve met growing up are Muslim. Yeah? I know there’s great Muslims. No one needs to win that argument with me. What I’m saying is there is a serious problem with certain ideologies of Islam, that is happening across our country. Birmingham is being hit big with it. A lot of people are worried with what’s happening in their communities. The Islamists controlling their communities.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir

Mr Robinson continued: “You’ve got Hizb ut-Tahrir, constantly, one of the most extremist organisations in the world, they’re banned in most other European countries, constantly having rallies and marches, etc and seminars in Birmingham. “ I don’t know about that, I thought Hizb ut-Tahrir were actually banned in the UK as well Tommy?

Mr Robinson corrected Mr Goldberg: “No they’re not. No they’re not. They’re not banned. David Cameron keeps promising to ban them, but as we see it’s all talk every time with our politicians. And we don’t see anything like local Muslim MPs, like your man who was just on the radio. We don’t see him coming out calling for them to be banned, when they have their rallies, they have their marches! Mr Goldberg said that he was not aware of any Hizb ut-Tahrir rally or march in Birmingham at any point.

Anjem Choudary

Mr Goldberg mentioned a story ran on BBC West Midlands about Anjem Choudary, who he said represents what most people would regard as an extremist Muslim ideology.

Anjem Choudary believes that ultimately, homosexuality is a sin against god and should be treated, certainly in an Islamic state, with the harshest penalties. “When Anjem Choudary and some of his supporters gathered in Birmingham, in places like Sparkbrook and in Alum Rock, a group of local Muslim leaders got together the local Muslim community and very politely, but very firmly, they said to Anjem Choudary, we don’t want you here. You do not represent the views of Muslims in Birmingham. You will stir up trouble in our community and we don’t want you. That was the local Muslim community, standing strong, turning away extremists within their midst. That surely, is more representative of the Muslim community in Birmingham than the kind of image you’re propagating I would suggest.” Mr Goldberg put to Mr Robinson.

“OK. But when they do that, when they do that, you class them as ‘standing strong’ and ‘heroic moderates’ I guess. But when we stand against Anjem Choudary a lot of people want to class us as extremists. We do exactly what you just said in our communities. Just because we are non-Muslim, we completely go against what he said.” Tommy reminded Mr Goldberg why they originally came to Birmingham:

“We came to Birmingham because Anjem Choudary held an Islamic road show in Birmingham city centre, with hundreds of Muslims and had a big banner that read Jesus was a Muslim and they converted an 11 year old child, called Sean, without his parents, who was shopping in the city centre with his friends, they got him up on stage and they converted him, in the middle of Birmingham city centre to Islam. Now, the local Islamic community response to that was what? It was nothing! We come to Birmingham to try and highlight this issue, we came to Birmingham with placards that read ‘Muslim — no problem’, Extremist Muslim — big problem.”

Mr Goldberg said that he had seen a flag, amongst his followers at least, with his own eyes saying ‘Allah is a paedo’ (God is a paedophile). Mr Goldberg said he saw painted banners saying that. Mr Robinson said that he hadn’t seen any such painted banner, saying that people were shouting that. Mr Robinson admitted: “There is a lot of anger. There is a lot of frustration. Now, we’re trying to channel that anger, harness it and direct it in the right route. Which is peacefully protesting. If you look at how our demonstrations have gone since 2009. You can’t expect purity from an organisation that’s six months old, but we’re two years old now. Our demonstrations are peaceful now. We have a right to come to Birmingham. We have the right to highlight it and I am in no doubt at all that local Islamic youth will come out and attack us, as they do wherever we go in the country. That’s what happens. That’s what happened in Birmingham last time and when you see…and we are condemned straight away for it. And there is a lot of frustration. There’s a lot of anger and at times it will boil over. People are angry. People are angry at what’s happening to their country. Islamist control is destroying our communities and that’s what you’re seeing on the street.”

Coming Back to Birmingham

Finally, Mr Goldberg asked Mr Robinson: “When you last came to Birmingham, the EDL, because of the violence; and I accept that you would argue that you didn’t cause the violence, although I did see EDL supporters, also throwing bottles into the street, on New Street — there was violence on both sides that I witnessed. But you said that you would not come back to Birmingham. West Midlands Police said that you were no longer welcome in Birmingham. Why are you coming back?”

“Because nothing has changed in Birmingham. No one is listening. It’s not like we’ve any confidence that West Midlands Police force or local councillors are going to address the problems. They are not addressing them. They are pretending that they are not there. The black community and the white community in Birmingham are treated with iron fists. The Islamic community are treated with kid gloves and that’s just the way it is. And it’s not on, You can’t have a two-tier policing system. There can be no master race. And I’m sorry, but there is a master race in certain areas of this country and it’s Islam!”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Labour Councillor Discusses the EDL on BBC Radio West Midlands

On 22nd October, Adrian Goldberg Interviewed Waseem Zaffar on BBC Radio West Midlands. Waseem Zaffar, had written to the Home Secretary Teresa May, on October 10th, asking that the EDL demonstration planned for Saturday, October 29th in Birmingham be banned. The full letter can be viewed on Mr Zaffar’s website. He was concerned that if the event is allowed to go ahead it will incite racial tensions and stretch police resources.

About Waseem Zaffar

Waseem Zaffar is the Labour Councillor for Lozells & East Handsworth Ward, Birmingham. According to his Linkedin profile page, Mr Zaffar currently works as a Management Consultant at Villa Business Centre and is a member of the ‘Proud Owner of a Jaguar Group’.

In his blogspot entry of 14 January 2009, Mr Zaffar reports that “In recent weeks, I have in my position of National Co-ordinator for Young Muslim Friends for Labour been assisting the Birmingham Erdington Member of Parliament Sion Simon MP (also Minister for Further Education) in recruiting new members and supporters into the Labour Party. A very successful initial meeting took place on George Road where a number of Muslims committed to support SIon Simon and the Erdington Labour Party as well as a dozen or so joining the Labour Party on the day as fully paid members.”

According to his blogger page he was appointed youngest Justice of (the) Peace in the West Midlands in December 2008.

Allegation of Inciting Racial Hatred

Adrian Goldberg began by asking Waseem Zaffar: “We’ve had EDL demos in Birmingham before and in the West Midlands. They’re an organisation who are surely, entitled, in a free society, to have a demonstration and express their point of view?”

“Adrian, I am very proud of our stance in terms of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, but this clearly is not that. This is inciting racial hatred. We clearly saw in September 2009 the problems that EDL demonstrating in, and marching through Birmingham city centre caused. There was absolute carnage. There was (were) fights breaking out between young Asian youths and white British people. It clearly isn’t what Birmingham is all about.

“We’ve had, you know, six years (ago) today, in the neighbourhood that I’ve lived all my life, and the ward that I represent today, we had the race riots in Lozells. We had a young man, Isiah Young-Sam, who was stabbed to death, a totally innocent bystander, on his way home, after a day’s work, stabbed to death because of…”

“Nothing to do with the EDL it should be said!” Mr Goldberg interrupted. “No, nothing to do with the EDL,” Mr Zaffar admitted, “but clearly what racial hatred can do to our city and that is a clear example of what happened. He was stabbed to death because of the colour of his skin, nothing else. We don’t need another Isiah Young-Sam murdered to death, here in Birmingham — and we saw the fights break out in 2009. We saw the issues. God forbid if this demonstration or march, whatever they’re planning, is allowed to go ahead, next Saturday. Imagine if somebody, if there was a loss of life as a result of that, what would the government be saying?” Mr Zaffar continued: “The leadership shown by our Local Authority has been dismal. They need to come up now and protest and campaign against this.”

Democratic Right to Protest

“Waseem, I was in Birmingham city centre the last time the EDL were here and I’ve mentioned on air before, that after that the EDL pledged that they would not visit Birmingham again and West Midlands Police said that they weren’t welcome. However, they’re exercising their democratic right to come back. On that occasion the EDL supporters were penned into a pub in Birmingham city centre. I had to duck, as did many people, a hail of bricks and stones that were being thrown, not by EDL supporters, but by Asian youth!”

“Adrian, I appreciate what you’re saying. And I’m not doubting that took place. I am also discouraging anybody from going into Birmingham city centre to campaign against the EDL. First of all we don’t need to give them that sort of credence, we don’t need to bite into the bait that they’re offering.”

Mr Zaffar commented that although he agrees with a lot of what Unite Against Fascism (UAF) do, he doesn’t agree with their strategy to counter demonstrate in Birmingham.

Mr Zaffar went on: “I know that there was a meeting at the central mosque yesterday and they’re looking at having an event to celebrate Birmingham at the same time as this. I don’t think we need to do that. I think we need to let the police….if this march is to go ahead — or demonstration whatever they’re planning, we need to let the police deal with it. We don’t need to create a scene, where we get young Asian youths or young people campaigning against EDL going into the city centre and them themselves are creating violence. We don’t need any form of action that took place in 2009.”

Freedom of Speech

Mr Goldberg asked: “But Waseem, Waseem, we say, don’t we, that we believe in free speech? Now, free speech is only meaningful if it allows people whose views we vehemently disagree with, are allowed to express them. If we don’t have that then we don’t have free speech, do we?” “Adrian, this is no different to extremist groups, who are based on Islam (and Islamity doesn’t mean this), but, based on Islam they were preaching hatred and they were banned by the government. We’re clearly not. And I don’t see… this is no different. I think the government needs to take a serious look at the intentions of the EDL.

“They come on the radio, they come on the TV and they put their PR people up and they have, you know, a nice face, smiling, talking about positive stuff and the fact that Muslims, what Muslims have done to their country, but, realistically when they are on the streets, they are a bunch of thugs who just want to create violence, based on racial profiles, which is absolutely ridiculous and that is not what this country is all about. “

Mr Goldberg responded: “Waseem, we have laws in this country, if people incite racial hatred, for example, or indeed if they incite religious hatred, then they can be arrested and charged and if any EDL member or supporter does that, next Saturday in Birmingham, I would hope that you and I can trust West Midlands police, to arrest anybody who is guilty or suspected of those crimes. But if there are people who are supporters and members of the EDL who just want to peacefully exercise their right to protest against what they regard as extreme Islam, again I come back to the point that free speech dictates, surely that we have to allow them to do that, otherwise it ain’t free speech!”

“Adrian, there’s not been many peaceful protests, demonstrations, marches by this EDL where ever they have gone up and down the country it has all been about creating violence.”

Mr Goldberg asked if the violence is because of the EDL or groups like UAF who insist on turning out in numbers and when they can, confront them. But, the other argument, on the other hand is UAF will say that they go out to peacefully protest against the views of EDL.” Mr Zaffar responded. “I think we have a non-winner here and I think the government needs to step in. We don’t need people campaigning, protesting against people’s racial beliefs. I know and you well know that Muslims in Birmingham play a huge role in our society, economically and socially and we’ve not had, you know, any issues or significant issues around with the Muslim community. “

Mr Zaffar congratulated West Midlands Police on their tackling terrorism work in Birmingham. “By and large the Muslim community in Birmingham is a fantastic community, doing a lot of positive work and what the EDL will do will create/incite racial hatred in the city.” Mr Zaffar reiterated again that he doesn’t believe the strategy of the UAF is appropriate. If the march goes ahead, let the police deal with the EDL. Let the police deal with these thugs who, want to create carnage in our city. Mr Zaffar discouraged people from going to the Victoria Square section of the city centre on Saturday.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Massive Changes at Abuse Mosque

But town’s MP is concerned at claims that checks on staff were paid for by council

Religious leaders say “massive changes” have been introduced at a mosque where a teacher was caught on camera hitting children. Coun Abid Hussain, who is the senior vice-president of the Keighley Markazi Jamia Mosque Committee, claims mosque leaders have worked extensively with police, parents and council chiefs to improve practices since the abuse was exposed.

It comes after 60-year-old Sabir Hussain, of Spencer Street, Keighley, admitted four counts of assault at Bradford Magistrates’ Court on Thursday. Coun Hussain said the mosque has worked hard to regain the trust of parents in the wake of the incident. He said: “The changes in the mosque have been really fantastic. “All the teachers have been through teacher training courses and Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks. They have been taught how to work with children and how to educate them. The mosque is now very professional. Our teachers are very educated and speak English, Arabic and Urdu.”

Sabir Hussain was filmed hitting children at the madrassa, in Emily Street, in an undercover documentary shown on Channel 4. The abuse is believed to have been committed last December. Keighley MP Kris Hopkins said he believed CRB checks carried out on staff after the abuse was exposed were paid for by Bradford Council — although the Council would not confirm the details. He said: “I understand that Bradford Council bore all of the costs associated with CRB checks at the mosque and that is not acceptable.The mosque raised significant amounts of money during Ramadan and it should use these funds to pay for such costs rather than depend on the public purse.”

Ward councillor Khadim Hussain (Lab, Keighley Central) hit back and said it was a small amount of money to safeguard children in future. He branded Mr Hopkins comments “irresponsible”.

He said: “We need to balance the benefits against the short-term cost. Do we want to put children in danger or stop madrassas teaching altogether? Vital education is being provided by these institutions. “They can play a key role in raising the attainment levels in Bradford and we need to provide teachers with fundamental training so we don’t hit the headlines with this kind of allegation again.” A Bradford Council spokesman said it would not be appropriate to comment until the end of the case against Sabir Hussain. He is due to be sentenced on November 23.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Five Most Potent Arguments Against the EU

by Tim Montgomerie

On Thursday morning I sought your help in identifying the best arguments to deploy in arguing against Britain’s membership of the EU. One of the most important lessons of the No2AV campaign was to follow the research when fighting a campaign and not the establishment wisdom. We may think that a lack of democracy in the EU should be centre stage in the EU debate. Some might argue that the increasing UK contribution to the EU budget will most sway voters. Frankly it doesn’t matter what we think. What matters is public opinion. Which issues are really most likely to shift public opinion?

am very grateful to Jon Gaunt and the VoteUKOutOfEU campaign for allowing us to test the potency of 18 arguments in favour of leaving the EU. This is not conclusive research. These are the arguments that most appeal to all voters. In terms of devising a campaign you’d want to identify swing voters and poll and focus group them. Nonetheless, this poll offers important clues to the issues that Eurosceptics should be most keen to deploy.

The question we asked was this:

“The below are a number of arguments people have made against Britain’s membership of the EU. Which, if any, of the following do you think are the best arguments against Britain’s membership of the EU? (Please select up to three).”

The top five answers were:

1. 34% say Open borders with the EU that mean the British Parliament cannot control immigration
2. 24% say We joined a common market but the EU has become a political project with too much power in the hands of bureaucrats
3. 24% say Britain pays a lot more into the EU than it gets out
4. 17% say The sense that Britain plays by the rules and implements EU laws but other EU countries do not
5. 17% say EU waste and corruption


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: When Islamophobes Fall Out

The recent spat between Paul Goodman and Douglas Murray […] has attracted some attention, including coverage by Hugh Muir in the Guardian Diary. For those who haven’t followed this dispute, the initial cause of the conflict was a difference of opinion over gay marriage, which Goodman opposes and Murray strongly supports (making this one of those rare occasions where I agree with Murray). A bizarre exchange of insults ensued, with Murray accusing Goodman of conniving with homophobes in the Muslim community in order to block the right of lesbian and gay couples to marry, while Goodman claimed that by refusing to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples Murray was opening the door to “multiple sharia marriages”.

At the same time, in an attempt to deflect Murray’s charge that he is an anti-gay bigot, Goodman struck a not exactly convincing pose as an opponent of Islamophobia and accused Murray of bigotry against Muslims. Specifically he sought to discredit Murray by quoting from the latter’s notorious “What are we to do about Islam?” speech at the 2006 Pim Fortuyn Memorial Conference, in which Murray demanded:

Why is it that time and again the liberal West is crumpling before the violence, intimidation and thuggery of Islam? … It is late in the day, but Europe still has time to turn around the demographic time-bomb which will soon see a number of our largest cities fall to Muslim majorities. It has to. All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop… Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board: Europe must look like a less attractive proposition.

Murray posted an article at ConservativeHome last weekend in which he claimed to have disowned that speech long ago. The text, which had originally been published on the Social Affairs Unit website, was “de-published at my request some years back”, Murray stated. He continued: “The simple fact about it is that the phrases that Goodman complains of are not opinions that I hold. I realised some years ago how poorly expressed the speech in question was, had it removed from the website and forbade further requests to publish it because it does not reflect my opinions.”

As Goodman pointed out in a lengthy reply at ConservativeHome earlier this week, this is in fact the first self-criticism we have ever heard from Murray in connection with his speech to the Pim Fortuyn Memorial Conference. Only a year ago Murray was still belligerently defending the content of that speech and denouncing an unnamed Tory MP — Goodman himself, it now turns out — who had approached him on behalf of the party leadership before the last general election and asked him to repudiate the outrageous anti-Muslim sentiments he had expressed at the 2006 conference. “I refused to change my opinions”, Murray stated emphatically. As a result of this refusal, Goodman claims, at his instigation the Tory leadership severed relations with Murray and cold-shouldered the Centre for Social Cohesion, of which Murray was director.

However, as Murray notes in his reply to Goodman, this hasn’t prevented the Tory leadership from relying heavily on the CSC’s arguments and research in various government reports. As for Goodman’s supposed concern about countering Murray’s negative political influence, there is no sign that he has raised any objection to the Henry Jackson Society serving as the secretariat to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Homeland Security, despite the fact that the HJS merged with the CSC earlier this year and Murray is one of its associate directors. Evidently Goodman doesn’t see it as problematic that a man who has advocated the collective punishment of Muslim communities should be linked to a parliamentary group that seeks to influence government policy on counter-terrorism.

Nevertheless, Goodman’s critique of Murray has been well received in some quarters. Cristina Odone applauded Goodman’s stand in posts at the Free Faith website — “Douglas Murray and his brand of anti-Muslim thinking must not destroy tolerant Britain” — and on her Telegraph blog — “Why Paul Goodman is right (and brave) to take on Douglas Murray’s Muslim-bashing”. A couple of our own contacts have also expressed a positive opinion of Goodman’s attack on Murray. I’m afraid I can’t share that view. It’s to our advantage when leading Islamophobes fall out with each other, of course, but that’s not an argument in favour of taking sides between them. Murray himself condemned Ed Husain’s support for state spying on Muslim communities, but that was hardly grounds for regarding the CSC as a progressive alternative to Quilliam.

The fact is that Douglas Murray’s extremist views have long been a source of embarrassment to other prominent figures in the Islamophobia industry, who are worried that their own rather more sophisticated approach to anti-Muslim witch-hunting will be undermined unless they dissociate themselves from him. Quilliam’s James Brandon, for example, attacked Murray in an article for Comment is Free back in 2009. In his previous job at the CSC, Brandon complained, he had faced “a constant struggle to ‘de-radicalise’ Murray and to ensure that the centre’s output targeted only Islamists — and not Muslims as a whole”. Murray’s central failing, according to Brandon, was his failure to “distinguish Islam from Islamism”.

This is the same charge that Goodman lays against Murray. “The struggle against Islamist extremism demands the separation of Islam, a complex religion, from Islamism, a political ideology”, he writes. “It also requires … the acknowledgment that while the ideology is a threat to Muslim and non-Muslim alike, the religion is not.” Of course, from Goodman’s standpoint, the term “Islamist extremism” is tautological — he has never, to our knowledge, recognised any tendency within Islamism that is not extremist.

Goodman doesn’t necessarily have a problem with politically engaged Muslims — so long as they engage in the right politics. On that basis, he has expressed support for fringe groups within British Islam such as Quilliam, Centri and Minhaj-ul-Quran. But Muslim organisations that oppose the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq or support the Palestinian resistance are condemned by Goodman as Islamist extremists. Goodman therefore differs from Murray in that the latter regards the entire Muslim community as a potential threat, whereas Goodman holds that the threat comes from mainstream Muslim organisations who are involved in political activities of which he disapproves.

In line with this approach, last year Goodman declared his support for Khalid Mahmood’s disgraceful attack on the North London Central Mosque in Finsbury Park, based upon the entirely false allegation that the “Christmas Day bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had attended a lecture by Anwar al-Awlaki at the mosque. Goodman conducted an extended campaign against the 2010 Global Peace and Unity event (see here, here and here), which culminated in the Tory party leadership banning Baroness Warsi from speaking at the GPU. “The aim of the organisers is to exploit politicians by using their presence to gain muscle, influence and credibility among British Muslims”, Goodman declared. “Politicians shouldn’t play their game.” He also waged a struggle to remove ENGAGE as the secretariat to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia, wrongly accusing them of being an extremist organisation (although, as we have seen, Goodman has no apparent objection to the Henry Jackson Society serving as the secretariat to the APPG on Homeland Security).

This mindlessly hostile approach to political Islam, all proponents of which are viewed as dangerous extremists, has unfortunately become common currency within the Tory Party, as was demonstrated by David Cameron’s speech at the Munich Security Conference in February, in which he stated:

We have got to get to the root of the problem, and we need to be absolutely clear on where the origins of where these terrorist attacks lie. That is the existence of an ideology, Islamist extremism. We should be equally clear what we mean by this term, and we must distinguish it from Islam. Islam is a religion observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people. Islamist extremism is a political ideology supported by a minority. At the furthest end are those who back terrorism to promote their ultimate goal: an entire Islamist realm, governed by an interpretation of Sharia. Move along the spectrum, and you find people who may reject violence, but who accept various parts of the extremist worldview, including real hostility towards Western democracy and liberal values. It is vital that we make this distinction between religion on the one hand, and political ideology on the other.

In Cameron’s defence, it could be argued that he is unfamiliar with the complexities of political Islam and therefore relies for advice on others, including Paul Goodman. But then Goodman doesn’t know much about Islamism either. Douglas Murray suggests that after Goodman’s election in 2001 as MP for Wycombe, a constituency with a large Muslim community, he “took it upon himself to read a lot of material very fast on Islamic and Islamist theology”. Murray draws the ludicrous conclusion that this has led Goodman to sympathise with Islamism. In reality, Goodman’s lack of any in-depth knowledge of political Islam has led him to parrot the usual right-wing cliche’s on the subject.

It is notable that Goodman’s attacks on “Islamist extremists” rarely involve any independent research but uncritically repeat accusations made by others. His attack on the North London Central Mosque was derived from a blog post by James Forsyth at the Spectator, and his witch-hunts of the GPU and ENGAGE were based on articles by Andrew Gilligan.

Goodman’s ignorance is underlined by the elementary errors that fill his articles. His call for an investigation into the NLCM was based on a garbled Canadian radio report claiming that Anwar al-Awlaki had spoken at the mosque “in the fall of 2006 or 2007”, a period during which Awlaki was in prison in Yemen. In a reference to his role in ousting ENGAGE as secretariat to the APPG on Islamophobia, Goodman boasts about “stopping the Muslim Brotherhood and the Jamaat-e-Islami from infiltrating Parliament” — when, as ENGAGE point out, they have no affiliation to either of those organisations.

In an article on the Muslim Brotherhood published at ConservativeHome in January this year, Goodman referred to Tariq Ramadan as “Brotherhood aristocracy”, whereas Ramadan has made it clear that he has no organisational links with that movement and has developed his own interpretation of Islam outside its ideological framework. In the same article Goodman revealed the extent of his political understanding of Islamist politics in Egypt by informing his readers that “Brotherhood members sit in its parliament as independents”, when in fact the Brotherhood won a single seat in the 2010 Assembly elections which they refused to take up in protest at massive vote-rigging by the Mubarak regime.

Goodman’s article was headed “Ministers mustn’t be talked into backing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (or anywhere else)”. In justification of his argument that the British government shouldn’t give any support to the main democratic opposition movement against Mubarak, Goodman insisted that mass-based organisations like the Brotherhood are fundamentally no different from terrorist groupuscules inspired by Osama bin Laden. “Al Qaeda and the Brotherhood aren’t separated by a firewall in ideological terms”, he asserted. “Rather, they’re like different rooms that are linked none the less by a common corridor.”

Since Goodman wrote this the Mubarak regime has fallen and parliamentary elections are scheduled next month from which the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party will almost certainly emerge as the strongest political force in Egypt, with a substantial role in government. Tomorrow elections will be held in Tunisia and the Ennahda party, which also derives from the Ikhwan tradition, looks set top the poll. The Libyan Islamic Movement and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood will undoubtedly play a prominent part in the transition to democracy in Libya. Everywhere across the Arab world, in fact, where dictatorships fall, Islamist political parties will almost invariably emerge as contenders for power, demonstrating that they possess a significant base of popular support.

If the British government attempts to address this process on the basis of Paul Goodman’s crude and ignorant analysis of Islamism, and treats these parties as though they are part of the same movement as Al-Qaeda, it will not only end up looking very stupid but also seriously damage its chances of exercising any future influence in the region.

Unsurprisingly, the government has been forced to reassess its one-sided attitude towards political Islam, at least with regard to developments in North Africa and the Middle East. Interviewed on the Andrew Marr Show last Sunday, foreign secretary William Hague was asked if he was worried that “Islamist extremist elements” might come to the fore in Libya following the fall of Gaddafi. Hague replied: “This term ‘Islamist’, it covers a vast range of views. And there are people who could be described as Islamists who are in favour of what one might describe as being a moderate Muslim country. There are others who are what we would call extremists.”

This distinction is certainly the beginning of wisdom. But the recognition that not all Islamists are dangerous extremists must surely be applied across the board. Otherwise the government will find itself in the ridiculous position of denouncing reformist Islamists in Britain as co-thinkers of Al-Qaeda and refusing to engage in dialogue and co-operation with them, while at the same time attempting to establish friendly relations with reformist Islamists abroad on the basis that they are legitimate participants in the political process. If the government is to resolve this contradiction between foreign and domestic policy towards political Islam, it will have to reject the advice not only of Douglas Murray but of Paul Goodman too.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Al Qaeda Blamed for Abduction of Spanish Aid Workers in Algeria

The Polisario, the ruling party organization of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, has accused Al Qaeda of the Saturday night abduction of three aid workers in the Rabouni refugee camp, near the city of Tindouf in Algeria. Two of the abducted are Spanish — Ainhoa Fernández de Rincón from Madrid, and Enric Gonyalons Sureda from Mallorca. Both were working at the Western Saharan refugee camp for Spanish NGOs. The third aid worker is Italian.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Frattini Calls on Libya to Respect Religious Freedom

(AGI) Rome — Franco Frattini warned that the introduction of Sharia law in Libya should not compromise religious freedom.

The foreign minister was speaking in response to the NTC announcement of the introduction of Sharia in post-Gaddafi Libya. “The thing that counts is that Sharia allows for freedom, freedom of religion, and freedom to build Christian churches,” said the minister, on the sidelines of a conference at the Chamber of Deputies. “You must respect the internal decisions of these countries as long as they don’t run against fundamental human rights,” added Frattini.

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

Islamists Take Lead in Tunisian Poll

Early results from polling stations in Tunisia put the Islamist Ennahda Party in the lead in many constituencies today.

Electoral officials are counting votes in landmark elections that saw more than 90% of registered voters cast ballots.

Official results are not expected until later today or tomorrow.

Boubker Bethabet, secretary general of the country’s election commission, said more than 90% of the 4.1 million registered voters participated.

Radio Mosaique FM posted results from polling stations around the country, with many showing a commanding lead for Ennahda.

Tunisians voted yesterday to elect a constituent assembly in the first elections emerging from the uprisings around the Middle East known as the Arab Spring.

           — Hat tip: PJ[Return to headlines]

Libya: Tribes and Democracy: Libya’s Difficult Future

Yesterday the proclamation of liberation, Jalil claims sharia as the basis for the New Libya. The ambiguities of the constitution: it promises religious freedom to non-Muslims, but affirms sharia as the source of all laws. The unity of the state is likely to crumble because of the 3000 and more tribes, local interests clash with international stakes.

Rome (AsiaNews) — A crowd of about one million yesterday celebrated the proclamation of the liberation of Libya in Benghazi, where the revolt against Gaddafi began. The leader of the National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdul Jalil, has asked all Libyans to be “one flesh, one nation. We have become brothers like never before”. Abdul Jalil, who had bowed with devotion to God before making his speech, also explained that the new Libya has as its foundation in sharia: the interests of the banks will be limited and the limit on the number of wives that a Libya can marry will be removed.

Meanwhile, the controversy over the summary execution of the Rais continues to rage. An autopsy has confirmed that Gaddafi was killed by a blow to the head. Moreover the revolutionaries of Misurata remain divided, between those who want to keep the body of the former dictator exposed and the Sirte tribe that wants to bury its “martyr.”

The next steps for the future of the new Libya include the elections for a National Conference which in turn will choose an interim government and a Constitutional Commission for the new constitution within eight months. The text will be submitted to referendum, and if it passes, a general election within a further six months. But there are already problems on the horizon: first, how to integrate the various tribes, and then how to disarm the armed groups who led the revolution, as well as the coexistence of modernity and Sharia.

AsiaNews sought the opinion of Prof. Francesco Zannini, Islamologist at the Pontifical Institute of Arabic studies in Rome, on the future prospects of the country.

The shocking images of the physical end of Geddafi regime, is putting a black shadow over the future of possible new democracy in Libya, where the claim for justice, democracy and human rights seem to be mixed with local and international interest over a petrol blessed and rich country.

Here, in fact, the industrialization and the urbanization promoted by Geddafi, has not fully limited of the ancient tribal tradition, their social and family structure which also linked with the Sufi orders that have not only great influence on the society but have played also, in several occasions, an important political role.

The authoritarian position of Geddafi has established a sort of Muslim socialism where both Islam and socialist principles have been twisted for the sake of power. His political control, however, based on a sort of deal both with the tribal groups and with the urbanized population seems not to had been put under full control some areas like the Cyrenaica where the revolt started and where Islamic fundamentalist groups, which seemed to have been banned from the country, showed their small but significant presence.

At this point, the weakness of Geddafi political power which was not taken with a real democratic consensus but by the way of a populist self-made leadership, emerged leaving no room for dialogue and consequently resorted into violence. During the uprisings the unwillingness of Geddafi to accept the people’s demands and the consequent the outbreak of brutal fighting led to foreign intervention in a sort of war, where interest for petrol resources, tribal conflicts, immigration issue and internal tensions within the opposition government made the whole revolt uncertain. In fact, we should not forget that the military success of the rebels’ government in the struggle against the Geddafi has been more the fruit of foreign intervention than of the strength of the local troops and the final decision on the sort of the rebels government seem still to be in the hand of the 2,335 tribes in Libya and their pledging allegiance, particularly in a moment when tension seem to emerge among rebels.

The fact that Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council was compelled by the events to dismiss the executive committee, after the assassination of the army commander General Abdel-Fatah Younes, is another sign of confusion in the rebel’s leadership. This will make more uncertain and complicate their further steps in a post- Geddafi era and put a question mark on the whole democratic process. The text itself of the new Libyan Constitution draft seems to show some problems.

In fact, in its Article 1, if from one side spells out the desire for democracy which has been at the base of the uprising: “Libya is an independent Democratic state, the people are the source of authority” and it is clearly stated that “The state shall guarantee for non-Moslems the freedom of practicing religious rights and shall guarantees respect for their system of personal status”, on the other side the “Draft” contains the typical contradiction present in most of the Arab constitutions, as evidenced by statement present in the same article, which states: “Islam is the Religion of the State and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia)”. It is then not clear what will be the real “the source of authority” and this reference to sharî’a will certainly limit the call for a modern secularized society, a full realization of equality among citizen and full implementation of human rights and will certainly hamper a full democratic evolution of the country that for most of the western observers has seen as one of the main characteristics of the Arab uprisings.

There is also the question of the capacity of a population that for years has not have not seen an election to choose properly those who are going to represent them in the National Congress. It is a new challenge that will show how the Libyan people will be able to go on in the path toward democracy, free from tribal alliances, religious pressures and private interests. Though it is true that secular and liberal elements are part of what we can certainly call a “Libyan Revolution”, which is clearly different from the rest of the uprisings that characterized the so called “Arab Spring”, is not yet clear whether the free Libya will be able to capitalize on the early principles of the people’s revolt or leave to the local factions and tribal element as well as local and international political interests, the future of the country.

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

Libya: Dozens of Dead Gaddafi Supporters Found, ‘May Have Been Executed’

Sirte, 24 Oct. (AKI) -At least 53 supporters of Muammar Gaddafi whose bodies were found in a hotel in Sirte are believed to have been executed by anti-Gaddafi fighters, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

The bodies were found in the abandoned Mahari Hotel in a neighbourhood of Sirte under control by transitional government fighters prior to the city’s fall on 20 October, the New York-based organisation said in a statement posted on its website.

“We found 53 decomposing bodies, apparently Gaddafi supporters, at an abandoned hotel in Sirte, and some had their hands bound behind their backs when they were shot,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, who investigated the killings. “This requires the immediate attention of the Libyan authorities to investigate what happened and hold accountable those responsible.”

The around the hotel had been in rebel hands since the beginning of October, the statement said.

“The bodies were clustered together, apparently where they had been killed, on the grass in the sea-view garden of the hotel,” Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch called on Libyan authorities to investigate the deaths.

Ousted dictator Gaddafi on Thursday was captured and killed in Sirte, his hometown that fell into anti-Gaddafi fighters’ hands on the same day signalling the end of an eight-month civil war.

The National Transitional Council, Libya’s anti-Gaddafi leadership, on Sunday officially declared Libya “liberated” after around 42 years of totalitarian rule.

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

Libya: Mufti: ‘Gaddafi an Infidel, No Islamic Funeral

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 24 — The Grand Mufti of Libya, Assadiq al-Ghiriani, has stated that Colonel Gaddafi was an “infidel” and for this reason “prayers should not be spoken over his body” in mosques, as is foreseen by Islamic funeral rites, the website of Egyptian daily Al Ahram reports.

According to the Mufti, it is, however, possible to bury the former dictator in a Muslim cemetery, but his body should be washed by family members only: “the only people who can pray for his soul”. In the view of the Grand Mufti, the mortal remains of Colonel Gaddafi should be buried in an unknown place, in order to avoid fomenting divisions between Libyans by “making his tomb a place of pilgrimage”.

But a different line of thought dominates at Cairo’s Ad Alzhar: it is “overdone” to call Mohammar Gaddafi an atheist and so he should be granted a burial according to Muslim rites in a normal cemetery. It should be “God who judges him,” said Abdel Moeti Bayoumi, of the Research Academy of Al Azhar, the most important theological centre of the Sunni creed.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Frattini: Worried at Non-Moderate Islam Infiltrations

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 24 — “We are worried that there may be infiltrations of non-moderate Islam. As a result, with Italy having done a lot for Libya, we ask that the basis of Sharia law does not make exceptions to fundamental rights such as freedom of religion, and the freedom to open churches”. So said Italian Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, speaking during the presentation of the book “The Spirit of Assisi”, organised in Rome by the Community of Sant’Egidio.

“A guarantee for this would be a guarantee that the revolutionary spring has been a success,” the Foreign Minister added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Hope and Anxiety Go Hand in Hand in Tripoli

With the war over and the official announcement of Libya’s liberation, the country is looking ahead, albeit with a shade of uncertainty. For the people on the streets all that matters is that Gadhafi’s rule is over.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Libya: Sharia Frightens West, Muftis Feud Over Gaddafi Grave

Post-Gaddafi Libya is taking on the complexion of militant Islam. After yesterday’s comments by the president of the National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdel Jalil, who spoke of the need to strengthen Sharia, the Grand Mufti of Libya, Assadiq al-Ghiriani, has called Colonel Gaddafi an “infidel”, adding that “prayers should not be said over his corpse” in Mosques, as is foreseen as part of Islamic funeral rites. While Western capitals express fears and reservations over Jalil’s words, Cairo’s prestigious Al Azhar theological centre criticised Libya’s Mufti, saying that only Allah can judge the former Libyan leader, who retains the right to be buried according to Islamic ritual.

Italy’s Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, is among those who have expressed fears at the new Libya’s potential Islamist shift. Frattini said that he hoped that the future Libyan government would be able to respect the freedom of faith and of conscience. “What counts is that Sharia (as the basis of the Libyan constitution) leaves freedoms, freedom of religion, freedom to build Christian churches, as is occurring in Egypt and Tunisia”. His views were echoed by French and EU representatives.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Libya: The Arab Spring May Yet Turn to Chilly Winter

by Peter Oborne

We may not like the consequences of elections in North Africa — but we must not repeat the mistakes of the past.

The extra-judicial execution of Colonel Gaddafi has been greeted with international elation, and understandably so. There was very little to be said in favour of that gnarled torturer and war criminal. Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron, who masterminded the campaign against him, have some excuse to take the view that with the killing of Gaddafi, and today’s elections in Tunisia, the Arab Spring appears to be entering a hopeful stage.

But in truth, they have more reason to be fearful. Last week, I accompanied the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, on a tour of North Africa. The mood in Libya was understandably buoyant — yet it was another destination on our itinerary that provided a hideous warning about what might happen next. This coming December marks the 20th anniversary of the Algerian Spring, when free elections seemed to bring an end to a long period of ugly dictatorship. Yet those elections did not lead to the liberal democratic nirvana envisaged by Cameron and Sarkozy today. On the contrary, they were followed by a decade of hideously barbaric civil war, in which more than 160,000 Algerians died and the most unspeakable atrocities were perpetrated by all sides in the conflict.

Even today, Algeria has not recovered. As a society, it is suffering from a kind of post-traumatic stress syndrome. The streets are empty at night — a legacy of the curfew imposed during the civil war years — the country is a police state and al-Qaeda has established its North African headquarters in the ungovernable south. As the Arab Spring embarks on its next stage, it is essential to ask: what went wrong in Algeria? This question is all the more urgent because the similarities between what happened then and what is happening in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya today are alarmingly close.

Back in 1991, Algeria was suffering from mass unemployment, social discontent and riots in the streets. Eventually, the president, Chadli Bendjedid, felt obliged to call an election. What followed was a fantastically hopeful period for the country. Opposition parties mobilised and, after a lively and what is widely accepted to have been a free and fair election, the Islamic Salvation Front emerged victorious.

It was at this stage that the army intervened, strongly backed by France, the former colonial power, and the CIA. The generals declared a state of emergency, cancelled future elections, and curtailed free speech and the right to public assembly. The effects were utterly catastrophic. We now face a wave of elections all across North Africa — today in Tunisia, next month in Egypt, and in eight months’ time in Libya. It is, of course, possible that these will be won by the secular liberal parties beloved of the West. But that is unlikely. In today’s vote in Tunisia, for example, the Islamic group Ennahda is set to emerge as the largest party. That outcome will be especially unwelcome for France, which continues to regard Tunisia as part of its sphere of influence more than 50 years after the country gained its theoretical independence.

In Egypt, meanwhile, a quiet military coup, tacitly supported by the United States, has put the brakes on the move to democracy. Elections that were originally meant to be held last month have been delayed: they are now planned for next month. At some point, however, they must happen — and when they do, there is no question that the Muslim Brotherhood will emerge as a dominant force. My guess is that, at some stage, a version of Islamic law is likely to be imposed across Egypt.

Let us now consider the case of Libya. It is impossible to predict the course of events now that Gaddafi has fallen, and there will be many powerful voices in the new transitional government that indeed reflect the secular, liberal views of Western democracy. But it is perfectly possible that Abdel Hakim Belhaj, the rebel commander who claims to have been tortured by the CIA in secret jails (allegedly with British complicity), will emerge as a powerful force. His and his supporters’ presence within the rebel movement is almost certainly the reason that al-Qaeda has failed to establish a presence in Tripoli over recent weeks — but his Islamist backers, or other, similar factions, may well form alliances that take Libya in a direction that is profoundly distasteful to Britain, France and the United States of America.

What should we do? The answer, I believe, is that we must leave well alone. At this delicate stage, it is essential to bear in mind that several competing narratives are available to explain the trajectory of the Arab Spring. The narrative most favoured in the West explains events in terms of the victory of freedom and democracy over a series of ugly autocratic regimes. This narrative is true as far as it goes — but it is sadly incomplete. Those autocratic regimes were, without exception, created or sponsored by the West. President Ben Ali in Tunisia, President Mubarak in Egypt, and even Colonel Gaddafi in Libya all had their connections to Western democracies. Their security forces were often trained by us; their torturers collaborated with us; and our corporations did very profitable business with them.

This is why there is a terrifying paradox at work this weekend. The Arab Spring has certainly been a victory of freedom and decency against barbarity and repression. But it has also been, in a very fundamental way, something completely different: a revolt against Western post-colonial domination. We have consistently preferred to ignore or forget this central point, but the revolutionary leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya are extremely conscious of this uncomfortable truth.

That is why it is so very important that this weekend, we reflect very carefully on the Algerian calamity. If we move once again to suppress national movements across North Africa, we will not simply risk plunging the region into chaos and brutal civil war, we may even achieve something even more dangerous and self-destructive: we may enfranchise and justify al-Qaeda. Thus far, the Arab Spring has represented a total defeat for the ugly ideology of violent nihilism preached by bin Laden and his successors. That is because this year’s events have shown that change for the better can be achieved peacefully, through democratic means. If we step in now to block that democratic change — however unpalatable its consequences may be for us — the Arab Spring may turn almost overnight into a long and dark Arab winter.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Russia Demands Inquiry Into Moammar Gadhafi’s Death

Russia has demanded an investigation into Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s violent death, while politicians of various stripes have described Gadhafi as a hero and his government as an “exemplary model” destroyed by the United States.

At the United Nations, Russia called for an end to a no-fly zone over Libya that allowed NATO forces to weaken Gadhafi — and possibly play a direct role in his death.

Mystery shrouds Gadhafi’s death in his hometown of Sirte, but autopsy results showed Sunday that he had died of a bullet wound to the head. It was unclear whether he suffered the fatal injury before or after his capture by anti-Gadhafi soldiers on Thursday. Channel One state television showed grueling footage of a captured Gadhafi covered in blood and crying, “Have mercy” in Arabic, on its 9 p.m. news on Friday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sharia Law Surprise for Secular-Minded Libyans

Mary Fitzgerald, Foreign Affairs Correspondent

ANALYSIS: The role of Islam could prove to be a contentious issue in the new Libya

LIBYA’S INTERIM authorities formally declared liberation yesterday with soaring speeches that praised their revolution’s victory over tyranny, paid tribute to the fallen and offered clues as to what kind of state might emerge from the ashes of Muammar Gadafy’s idiosyncratic rule. The long-awaited declaration, made in front of tens of thousands of jubilant Libyans gathered in Benghazi, the eastern city where the uprising against Gadafy began in February, came more than two months after Tripoli fell to revolutionary forces, allowing them to seized control of most of the country.

It ushers in a process agreed by the interim body known as the National Transitional Council which will see the NTC move its headquarters from Benghazi to Tripoli and form a transitional government within 30 days. A 200-member national assembly is to be elected within 240 days, and this will appoint a prime minister a month later who will then nominate a cabinet. The national assembly will also be given deadlines to oversee the drafting of a new constitution — none existed under Gadafy — and the holding of parliamentary and presidential elections.

Already the process of forming a united and representative government promises to be fraught. With Gadafy dead, the fissures that always existed within the revolution, whether along regional or tribal lines or between Islamists and secular liberals, threaten to widen. Even the fact that liberation was declared in Benghazi, rather than Tripoli, points to friction between leadership figures in the two cities — many of the NTC’s members, especially those from eastern Libya, have remained in Benghazi, the second-biggest city.

The question of who did what, whether during the war of the last eight months or during the four decades Gadafy was in power, will also determine much in the new order.

On Saturday, the de facto prime minister Mahmoud Jibril said progress would hinge on two things. “First what kind of resolve the NTC will show in the next few days, and the other thing depends mainly on the Libyan people — whether they differentiate between the past and the future,” he said. “I am counting on them to look ahead and remember the kind of agony they went through in the last 42 years.” Jibril also warned that Libya needed to swiftly find another source of income because the country had already consumed 62 per cent of its oil under Gadafy.

Those seeking hints as to what the new Libya may look like seized on particular sections of NTC head Mustafa Abdel Jalil’s speech in Benghazi yesterday, in which he went into some detail about the place of Islam in the post-Gadafy scenario. “This revolution was blessed by God to achieve victory,” Jalil, who is considered devout but moderate, told the crowd. “And we must go on the right path.” Libya, he said, would be a state where Sharia law would be the “fundamental source” of legislation and any existing legislation that contradicted Islamic principles would be immediately annulled.

It was not the first time Jalil had made such statements, and many other Arab countries have similar constitutional provisions, but Libyans of a more liberal bent may have baulked at what came next. The new state “will not disallow polygamy” Jalil said, and charging interest will be forbidden. Some Libyans point out that polygamy was practised discreetly under Gadafy, while others interpreted Jalil’s remarks as a practical measure to address the issue of the thousands of women left widowed during the war. These declarations, though met with cheers from the crowd, will have raised eyebrows among more secular-minded Libyans who would prefer to have such matters decided through a democratic process rather than presented almost as a fait accompli at such an early stage.

The Islamist tint to Jalil’s speech could be interpreted in different ways: it may have been an attempt to undercut the influence of more hardline elements while Libya finds its feet after Gadafy, or a bid to keep the grassroots on board as one of North Africa’s most conservative societies enters what will be a challenging period. Either way, it shows that questions over what role Islam should play promise to be among the most pressing in the new Libya.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Spanish and Italian Aid Workers Kidnapped in Tindouf, Western Sahara

TWO Spanish and one Italian aid worker have been kidnapped in the disputed Western Sahara territory whilst working in a refugee camp. Ainhoa Fernández de Rincón, a member of the Friends of the Saharan People’s Association in Extremadura, and Enric Gonvalons from the charity Mundobat, have been abducted along with Italian volunteer Rosella Urru, according to the Ministry of Information for the Democratic Arab Republic of the Sahara.

They say the kidnappers came up from Mali and entered the refugee camp in Tindouf, on the Algerian border, and held up the Foreign Reception Headquarters before disappearing with the man and two women in an all-terrain vehicle. Vigilance has been stepped up to ensure the safety of other aid workers in the area.

Every year, hundreds of children from Tindouf travel to Spain to spend their summer holidays with foster families, as part of a long-running project organised by the Friends of the Sahara People’s Association. The foster families then have the chance to travel back to Tindouf in October to reunite with their charges and find out more about how they live.


           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tunisia Tastes Democracy: Early Results Point to Victory for the Islamists

Official results won’t be revealed until Tuesday, but preliminary indications are that the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party may be celebrating a decisive victory in Tunisia’s first democratic election. Some 90 percent of the country’s registered voters cast their ballots.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Ennahdha Heads for Victory, Seeking Allies

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, OCTOBER 24 — Everything has gone as forecast, or nearly. Vote-counting in the election for Tunisia’s Constitutional Assembly is revealing a large turn-out for Ennahdha, in line with predictions on the eve of the vote. But the point to understand is how large the margin of victory is going to be for the sectarian party, which is hoping for an out-and-out majority, but looks unlikely to get one. So the waiting game continues to find out whether the Dove — which is the symbol Rached Gannouchi chose for his party, will win outright (highly unlikely) or whether (very likely) it will stand in need of a running partner to bring it to power.

Working in Ennahdha’s favour — apart from the strong Islamic flavour of the party’s ideology — had been its decision to take to the field early and equip itself with a grass roots organisation which has enabled its voice to be heard everywhere in the country. Yesterday’s vote will be an expression of the balance between aspirations and effort made, and at the moment it looks like the former may not be fully fulfilled by the outcome. But a majority — even if not an absolute one — should be achieved and Gannouchi will be preparing to sit down at the negotiation table.

With whom, will be is a question of numbers: not just those of his party, but of those attained by his opponents. From these Mr Gannouchi will have to select a partner in dialogue, one that will have to be prepared to compromise on some of the (social) pledges in its electoral manifesto, while promising to do the same in the economic field. Although official data have not yet arrived, our virtual victor is accompanied by some clear losers and the other parties, beginning with Ennahdha’s principle opponents from the PDP (which has already ceded victory to Gannouchi) to Ettakatol will be needing to understand what failed to click for them.

There remains the very high probability that Tunisia’s route to its Constitutional Assembly will pass though a coalition, which will also guide the country to the crucial general elections of 2012, granted that the parties manage to keep within these time lines. Amidst all of this, the secular part of Tunisia’s population, who had firm support across most of the country’s media (from newspapers to radio and television and on-line sites), stand numbly awaiting official confirmation of the outcome of the vote and asking itself too late — with the stable doors of the polling stations now shut behind them — whether it wouldn’t have been better to opt for a grand anti-Ennahdha — if not anti-Islamic — alliance.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia’s Powerful Party: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Analysis: Ennahda seeks “moderate” Shari’a state, but members have history of violence, current platform raises questions about role of Islam.

Western media routinely describe Tunisia’s Ennahda party as “moderately Islamist.” The once-banned movement’s own past, however, reveals a tendency to violence, and its current platform raises serious questions about the role of Islam in arguably the Arab world’s most secular state. Ennahda, or “Renaissance” has its roots in the Islamist university groups that proliferated in the Muslim world’s universities following the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The party was officially founded in 1989, two years into the 14-year reign of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Two years later Ben Ali banned the party, and over the course of his term jailed tens of thousands of its leaders. Ennahda was legalized in January of this year, following Ben Ali’s ouster in a month-long popular revolt. One thousand supporters welcomed back the party’s founder and leader, 70-yearold Rachid Ghannouchi, on his return to Tunis from European exile in January. The Islamist party now appears set to take a majority, or at least a plurality, in the Arab world’s first post-revolutionary elections. Ballots were held Sunday and results are expected the following day. Ennahda presents itself to outsiders as nonviolent, but the movement’s members have been implicated in both incitement and violent actions against Tunisian and foreign targets.

The party supported the 1979 embassy takeover in Iran, and evidence suggests it was responsible for bombing four tourist hotels in the 1980s. In 1991 its operatives attacked the headquarters of Ben Ali’s party, killing one person and throwing acid in the faces of several others, and that same year Ghannouchi called for attacks on US interests in the Middle East in response to America’s invasion of Iraq in the Gulf War.

Ennahda’s founding ideology was largely shaped by that of Sayyid Qutb, a leading ideologue of the grandfather of all Islamist groups, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Ennahda still maintains ties with the Brotherhood, but the Tunisian party prefers to compare itself with another political model: Turkey’s ruling AK party, which though religious in its founding and nature, has stopped short of calling for the imposition of Shari’a. In an interview this month, however, Ghannouchi said he supports a “moderate” form of Shari’a that would combine “democracy, which is a Western product, with Islam, which is our own heritage.”

“Shari’a is not something that is alien or strange to our societies… For example, in Britain we have Islamic finance and Islamic banking, and Islamic family law can be applied for marriage and divorce,” he said. “We don’t see Shari’a interfering in people’s private lives or in their freedom to wear what they want. Personal freedom is very important for us.”

An opinion poll conducted in March found Ennahda enjoyed the support of 29 percent of Tunisians, far ahead of its closest rival, the secular Progressive Democratic Party, at 12%.

Tunisia is arguably the most gender- equal country in the Arab world and one of the only Arab states with a large non-religious community. During the era of Ben Ali, and his predecessor, Habib Bourguiba, Tunisia was the first Arab country to allow women to vote, and later banned polygamy, legalized abortion and made marriage condition on female consent. Since Ben Ali’s ouster, however, Tunisian secularists have pointed to a disconcerting trend toward xenophobia and religious extremism.

In February, footage uploaded to YouTube showed hundreds of protesters converged on Tunis’ Grand Synagogue after Friday prayers shouting “Allahu akbar” and “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!” Khaybar was a Jewish oasis in Arabia conquered by the Muslims in the seventh century. Jews were forced to pay tribute and later expelled. Tunisia’s Jewish population — more than 100,000 in 1948 — is now less than 2,000.

In July, a draft constitution compiled by the country’s interim authorities included a clause banning normalization with Israel. Some constitutional committee members from secularist parties called to remove the clause, but Ennahda — along with Arab nationalist and extreme left factions — supported its inclusion. This month, police used tear gas to disperse thousands protesting an animated film, Persepolis, they deemed blasphemous. The film shows an Iranian girl’s coming of age story after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and angered Islamists for its representation of God and its protagonist’s supposedly un-Islamic lifestyle. The house of the owner of the station that broadcast the film was later firebombed. It was unclear whether the assailants belonged to Ennahda or even more extreme Salafi Islamist groups.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Rare Muslim Manuscripts Go on Display at Israel’s National Library

Among the texts to be displayed as part of a special series on the history of Islam, are two Korans from the ninth century, just 200 years or so after the writing of the first Koran.

The National Library in Jerusalem is to begin displaying old Muslim religious texts from its collections, including some that are quite rare. Among the texts to be displayed as part of a special series on the history of Islam, are also two Korans from the ninth century, just 200 years or so after the writing of the first Koran. In addition, the public will be able to view three Korans from the 11th and 12th centuries that come from Antalya, Andalusia and Persia. Most of the manuscripts are part of the collection of the Jewish scholar Abraham Shalom Yehuda. Upon his death, Shalom Yehuda, a prominent early 20th century Islamic studies researcher, donated his collection to the National Library. The collection includes 1,184 old manuscripts, of which around 100 are Korans, and is deemed one of the Western world’s most important collections of ancient Muslim manuscripts.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

This Was No Prisoner Exchange

I have been watching on TV the drama unfold in Israel and Gaza as the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released after five years in Hamas captivity in exchange for the release from Israeli prisons of more than 1000 Arab terrorists.

The first pictures of him in a brief interview on Egyptian TV were unsettling, even if not surprising: painfully thin, pale and with deeply sunken eyes, he looked very different from the smiling 19 year-old that became the iconic image of the campaign to secure his release.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Google Earth Reveals Ancient Stories

Well, how about Google Earth instead? Like a friendly genie, that modern technology has started answering archeologist’s wishes with its worldwide catalog of satellite views of the Earth. A pair of studies in the Journal of Archaelogical Science this year suggest these views are revealing a vast and ancient story, one only starting to emerge from the fabled desert of Arabia.

“(W)e are on the brink of an explosion of knowledge,” writes archeologist David Kennedy of University of Western Australia in Perth, in a report in the current edition of the journal. Aerial photography and satellite images from Syria to Yemen are, “revealing hundreds of thousands of collapsed structures, often barely (19 to 30 inches) in height and virtually invisible at ground level,” he writes.

Most often seen in the vast lava-rock fields called “harrat” and the 251,000-square mile Rub’al Khali desert of Saudi Arabia, the structures take their names from their appearance from the air- “wheel” homes, “pendant”-shaped cairns, “keyhole” tombs and “kites” animal-pen traps. They are, Kennedy says, “opening up for re-interpretation the hugely inhospitable interior of Arabia which is proving to be the unexpected location of extensive human activity 2,000 (or more) years ago.”

Who were the “Old Men of the Desert”, as the Bedouin called the builders of these structures in 1927, when first asked about them by a Royal Air Force flight lieutenant named Maitland. Maitland published a report in a journal Antiquity, noting “hill fortresses” and other structures in the desert east of the Dead Sea spotted on the air mail route from Cairo to Damascus.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iran: Qom to Host “Islam and Orthodox Christianity” Conference

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — The Al-Mustafa International University plans to organize a conference on “Islam and Orthodox Christianity” in Qom. Hojat-ol-Islam Ezzeddin Rezanejad, scientific secretary of the conference said it would be held this Wednesday, October 26, at Imam Khomeini Higher Education Center in the holy city. Speaking at a press conference, he said a number of scholars from Iran and Georgia will present papers and deliver speeches at the conference.

Identity and culture; dialogue and exchange of ideas among religions; role of religion and sceince in social issues; and the institution of family and the society are among the topics to be discussed at the event, Hojat-ol-Islam Rezanejad pointed out. “40papers have been submitted to the secretariat of the conference, 4 of which will be selected and awarded.”

The University of Religions and Denominations, the Islamic Wisdom Assembly, Saint Andrea University of Georgia and the Caucasus International University will cooperate in organization of the conference. The next edition of the conference is set to be held in Georgia early next year.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Qatar: Doha to Host Islamic Sciences Academy Meet

DOHA (Qatar), 24 Dhul Qadah/22 Oct (IINA) — Doha is hosting the 18th Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS) Conference under the theme “The Islamic World and the West: Rebuilding Bridges through Science and Technology.” The three-day event aims at discussing the impact of the current events in the Islamic World and ascertain how they interact with the S&T scene. It also intends to address a number of recurring questions on the History of Islamic Science and Science and Spirituality besides issues that are at the science/politics interface including nuclear energy, biotechnology and nanotechnology and to develop an OIC-wide approach on how such issue may be addressed.

Participants will as well review ways to bridge the divide between the Islamic World and the West, and the particular role that academies of sciences can play in such an endeavour, IAS Secretary-General Dr. Munif Zoubi told Qatar News Agency. He praised Qatar’s hosting of this year’s event, saying this stems from the role being played by Qatar in holding a dialogue on the international level and its great experience in organising a number of important and successful conferences.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabi: We Are Recruiting for Al-Imam Mohammad Ibn Saudi Islamic University

Here is some background information on Al-Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University

Year established:
City: Riyadh
Province Population: 5,458,273
P.O. Box: 5701
Postal Code: 11432
Phone +966-1-2580000
Fax +966-1-2590273
Campuses: Riyadh, Al Ahsa, Shaqraa, Al Kharj, Japan, Indonesia and Djibouti
Enrollment & Calendar
Total Enrollment: 37,401
Total Staff: 2,848
Academic Calendar: Continuous
Al-Imam University Objectives are:
The university is a Sharia and cultural institution run according to Sharia (The Islamic Law); Carrying out the academic policies and providing undergraduate and postgraduate studies; Upgrading the scientific researches through writing, translation, and publishing

Serving the community within its competence.

University History

Teaching Sharia knowledge prevailed most regions in Saudi Arabia before opening up government-run schools and Sharia institutes. It was conducted at mosques and houses of ulema (scholars), who taught a lot of judges. His eminence Sheikh Mohammad Ibrahim Al-Sheikh — May Allah have mercy upon him- and his brothers played a major role in disseminating knowledge of Sharia in Riyadh and the neighboring areas.

With the start of the overall Sharia knowledge rise in 1370 H (1949 G) and thanks to turnout by the youth to learn Sharia knowledge, the administration-led King Abdulaziz — May Allah have mercy upon him — opened up Riyadh Sharia Institute. The King assigned Sheikh Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Sheikh, Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia by-then, to run the institute. It was the first foundation of Sharia institutes in various regions of the kingdom.

In 1951, college of Sharia was open in Riyadh, and in 1952, the college of Arabic language was also open. Then, a series of Sharia institutes were opened under the umbrella of the General Presidency of Sharia Colleges and Institutes.

On September 10th 1974, a royal decree No. 50/m — based upon the cabinet resolution No. 1100 on September 4th 1974 — was issued to approve the policy of Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University. As such it is deemed a higher academic institution, comprising the higher institutes, colleges, and Sharia institutes in Saudi Arabia. Since the university was established, it has been enlarging continually. It comprises 11 colleges, five of which are in Riyadh and six are out of Riyadh in regions of Al Qassim, Al Ahsa, and Al Madinah Al Monawarah, in addition to the southern region. Also, it comprises two institutes in Riyadh: one for Jurisdiction and one for teaching Arabic language for non-Arabic native speakers. It comprises six institutes abroad for teaching Islamic, Arabic knowledge in United Arab Emirates, Mauritania, Djibouti, Indonesia, USA, and Japan, in addition to sixty Sharia institutes kingdom-wide.

Thanks to the grand expansion of the university, the second five-year plan was approved to establish a university city. The project site was selected to be north of Riyadh city. Late King Fahd bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, laid down the foundation stone of the project on January 5th, 1982. The university has been carrying it out.

Al-Imam University Web Portal

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck: October 23rd a Turning Point for New Caliphate?

Yesterday marked a potentially monumental day in the Middle East, and for all the wrong reasons. I believe the region took a big step towards a renewed Caliphate.

You can read my analysis at the link above.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

Yemen Tribesmen Kidnap Russian Doctor: Hospital Official

Tribesmen in Yemen’s east kidnapped a Russian doctor on Monday to pressure authorities to release detainees belonging to their tribe, the head of a hospital the captive works for told AFP. “The Russian doctor Wahid Rof who works for us was kidnapped by Al-Awamra tribe in an area between Shabwa and Marib” provinces, said Riad Salem, head of Al-Shifa hospital in Shabwa.

Salem said that “armed tribesmen intercepted a taxi carrying Wahid as he was heading to Sanaa, forced him to leave the car and took him to an unknown location.” “We are now contacting Al-Awamra tribe since the doctor works for us,” after Yemeni authorities failed to respond when informed of the kidnap, said Salem. In March tribesmen in southern Yemen kidnapped a Russian doctor who was also working in a hospital in the Shabwa town of Ataq.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Thailand: Bangkok Gets Set for Advancing Floods

The Thai authorities have issued more flood warnings as Bangkok residents braced themselves in some areas for water of up to one meter deep. Most of Thailand’s tourist destinations remain unaffected.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Thailand: Jihadist Gunmen Dressed as Women Kill Seven

Suspected Muslim insurgents have killed at least seven people in back-to-back shooting and bomb attacks in Thailand’s troubled south, police said Monday. On Sunday evening an unknown number of gunmen dressed as women, travelling in three pick-up trucks, opened fire on a checkpoint in the main town of Narathiwat province killing two rangers. Shortly afterwards a bomb exploded at a nearby supermarket, followed by a second bomb at another supermarket about 300 metres (yards) away, causing fires that spread through shophouses and took three hours to extinguish.

Police said they found two charred bodies of the male owner and a female teacher in the first shop, while a young boy and his parents were found dead in the second. Another seven people suffered burns in the attacks, which happened within the space of half an hour — the latest in a series of increasingly brazen attacks by the shadowy militants. Thailand’s southernmost provinces have been plagued by more than eight years of conflict that has claimed the lives of more than 4,800 people, both Muslims and Buddhists.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Society Falls Victim to China’s ‘One Child Policy’

Since 30 years, China has been pursuing its “One child policy” aggressively to get its population under control. This policy, however, spells great problems for Chinese society.

Zhou Xiaozheng of Renmin University has also appealed to his state to do away with the one-child law. It has negative consequences for society and leads to an ageing population. Adolescents could get increasingly egoistic, he believes: “Many single children develop a lack of social competence when they grow up without siblings and are showered with the love of their parents and grandparents instead.” For Zhou, this law is an emergency measure from a bygone era of politics. Now, it is time to adjust the policy to changing circumstances.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Muslim Organisation MyPeace to Show Commercials Espousing Islamic Values During Top Rating TV Shows

THE Muslim organisation behind the provocative “Jesus is a Prophet of Islam” billboards will begin screening a TV commercial espousing Islamic values during some of our most watched programs.

The commercial, believed to be the first to promote Islam on national television, features several excerpts from the Koran to show that Muslims share similar values to Christians.

The commercial will begin screening in Sydney from Friday on Channel 7 and Channel 9 during Sunrise and Today and mid-afternoon news bulletins, and for at least the next six weeks.

The commercial is the brainchild of MyPeace, the same organisation that erected the “Jesus is a Prophet of Islam” billboards across Sydney. Founder Diaa Mohamed said the commercial was aimed at addressing some of the misconceptions about Islam.

“We thought it best to, for lack of a better term, hijack Islam back and show you what Islam is really about,” Mr Mohamed said.

“It’s designed to show the Australian public Islamic values … and to show that the Australian values are very similar.”

“They are values that our holy book, the holy Quran, teaches us to live by and they are values that any common, basic human should live by.”

The television commercial was produced at the same time as the billboards, which were criticized by a Catholic Bishop as “provocative and and offensive”.

“It will interesting to see how it will be received,” he said.

“I think the feedback will be one of surprise but very welcoming at the same time.”

The advertisement was fully funded by private donors from Australia, he said.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Somalian Shebaab Blamed for Bomb in Kenya Disco, 14 Injured

(AGI)Nairobi -The casualty toll of a hand-grenade launched into a Nairobi disco iast night is of at least 14 injured, 6 seriously. An unidentified suspect launched a hand-grenade into the disco and then ran away. Investigators link the bombing directly to the “threats” expressed in the last few days by Somalian ultra-Islamic militia ‘al-Shebaab al-Mujaheddin’, the bridgehead of ‘al-Qaeda’ in the Horn of Africa.

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


Britons Demand Immigration Restrictions

With public discontent growing over the burgeoning number of foreigners flooding into their country, many Britons are expecting their government to restrict immigration, and require immigrants to speak English before being allowed into their nation. A virtual tidal wave of immigrants is swamping the United Kingdom with new arrivals. Although the Conservative Party under the leadership of Prime Minister David Cameron has decried the influx of foreigners — both legal and illegal — into the UK, the current ruling party has found that it is much easier to describe the problem than to solve it. An article by Soeren Kern for Hudson New York (“Britain Launches Crackdown on Illegal Immigration”) details the daunting scope of the flood of migrants that has resulted from the disastrous policies of the former, Labour government:

“Upon taking office in May 2010, Cameron’s coalition government pledged to reduce net migration from around 200,000 to the “tens of thousands” by 2015. In an effort to bring the immigration numbers down, the government in November 2010 announced a cap of 21,700 skilled workers from outside the European Union who are allowed to work in Britain.

One-and-a-half years later, the British government has been unable to reduce immigration in any meaningful way. In fact, immigration is still on the rise. The number of foreigners coming to Britain surged by a massive 21 percent during 2010, according to data released in August 2011 by Britain’s Office for National Statistics.

Official figures show that a total of 575,000 people moved to Britain in 2010, the equivalent of one every minute. A legacy of the British Labour Party’s open-door policy, this was the second-highest annual figure since 1991. The Office for National Statistics also said that the number of people granted settlement — the first step to full citizenship — in Britain also reached a record 241,000 in 2010. A total of 195,000 were granted British citizenship, down from the record high of 204,000 in 2009, but more than double the level of a decade ago.

The number of people applying for asylum also fell last year but has started to rise again, with 4,800 applications between April and June, mainly from Pakistan and Libya.”

Clearly, the continuation of such a pattern of immigration will fundamentally change the entire character of the country if left unchecked, flooding labor markets with workers desperate for jobs in an already-flagging economy, and placing a further burden on a system of socialized medicine and other benefits often stressed to the breaking point. And, given the large number of immigrants from Muslim countries, such immigration is already proving to be a threat to the rule of law in the UK. In June 2009, the Daily Mail documented the rapid spread of Sharia courts in the UK:

“At least 85 Islamic sharia courts are operating in Britain, a study claimed yesterday. The astonishing figure is 17 times higher than previously accepted… However, they operate behind doors that are closed to independent observers and their decisions are likely to be unfair to women and backed by intimidation, a report by independent think-tank Civitas said.”

The pernicious influence of Sharia courts is simply one more aspect of the detrimental influence of mass immigration. At present, however, Prime Minister Cameron is focusing primarily on the negative effects which immigrants are having on the economy of the United Kingdom. Thus, as noted in an October 19 article for the Washington Times, Britain’s economy is in grave difficulty, at the same time that the immigration rate has skyrocketed to an unsustainable level:

“Britain recently experienced its worst recession in more than 60 years. Gross domestic product fell by more than 6 percent from the first quarter of 2008 to the third quarter of 2009.

A report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies said tax increases and spending cuts to welfare and public services also have sent living standards plummeting. The report found that the middle class will suffer the biggest drop in average incomes in 35 years, taking their salaries back to 2003-04 levels. It also noted that poverty is forecast to rise by about 600,000 children and 800,000 working-age adults. Britain has the third-largest population of foreign-born citizens in Europe. More than 4 million people in Britain were born abroad, 6.6 percent of the population of 63 million. They include people born abroad to British nationals.”

With only Germany and Spain enduring immigration burdens greater than that experienced in the UK, the plight of all three nations becomes clear. As reported previously for The New American, the burgeoning Turkish population in Germany has already reached the point where the Turkish Prime Minister has publicly instructed Turks living in Germany to refuse assimilation. And Spain recently found its credit downgraded again, for the third time in three years. In short, both Germany and Spain are paying a similar cost, both economically and culturally, to that which is being endured in the United Kingdom.

Neither the cultural nor economic impact of the current tidal wave of immigration can leave the UK untouched. Although efforts to mediate the flow of immigrants can ameliorate some of the most detrimental effects of immigration, such efforts must be implemented soon. Modest efforts, such as Prime Minister Cameron’s call (in the words of The Washington Times) for immigrants to “learn English before they are eligible for welfare” seem almost laughably too little, too late.

According to The Washington Times article, a poll by the Migration Observatory at Oxford University found that 69 percent of respondents want immigration reduced — a number which is quite consistent with long-held views by citizens of the UK. The influence of the Islamic beliefs of many of the new immigrants is already undermining the fundamental aspects of British society, including the institution of marriage. When the Prime Minister has to promise a “crack down” to bring an end to coerced marriages, the nation has drifted a long way. In the words of the Hudson New York article:

‘Aside from proposing tighter immigration laws, Cameron also vowed to crack down on forced and bogus marriages, methods many Muslim immigrants use to illegally settle family members in Britain. Cameron said he would work to make it a criminal offense in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to force a person to marry against his or her will. He described the practice of forced marriage as “little more than slavery.”‘

For the sake of British civilization, an immediate reform of immigration is necessary. Whether the Conservatives will have the fortitude to accomplish such a reform remains to be seen.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

New York to Become Sanctuary City for Illegal Aliens

The New York City Council is close to passing a city ordinance that will drastically hamper the activities of the Homeland Security Department’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to federal law enforcement officers and a non-profit public interest group’s latest report..

The ordinance will limit ICE agents in their role of identifying and removing illegal aliens from the city’s correctional system. If and when the ordinance is passed, New York will join a small list of large cities, including San Francisco, Washington, DC, Chicago, and San Jose, that deliberately obstruct ICE’s operations.

“Usually, Obama’s minions are more interested in harassing and denigrating states and cities that attempt to enforce immigration laws,” said former NYPD detective and security firm owner Sidney Franes. “But they turn a blind eye to those who obstruct justice in the name of ‘sanctuary’ for criminal aliens.”

- Key findings of the ICE report

Three-quarters of all foreign-born arrests in the entire state of New York occur in New York City (NYC). In 2008, the latest year for which data are available, local officers arrested 52,827 immigrants in NYC.

For at least 20 years, NYC has had official policies impeding the enforcement of federal immigration laws. City policies prevent ICE agents from receiving notification of arrested aliens before their release from police custody.

In September 2009, NYC’s Department of Correction adopted, and has since maintained, particularly obstructive policies and procedures for immigration officers and agents attempting to access criminal alien inmates housed in its detention facilities. Jail staff are required to follow procedures that actively encourage aliens to refuse to speak with ICE agents.

Since the implementation of these procedures, the number of aliens charged with immigration violations at the city’s main detention facility has been cut nearly in half.

Notwithstanding its lack of cooperation, NYC has garnered millions of dollars each year in federal SCAAP (State Criminal Alien Assistance Program) funds since the inception of this program to reimburse jurisdictions for the costs of incarcerating illegal aliens criminals…

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Who Are the Real Racists: Teachers Who Treat Black and White Children Equally, Or Lefties Who Complain It?

by Katharine Birbalsingh

In the 1970s and 1980s, Britain was a pretty racist place. Black children were constantly held back in the school system, the police stopped young black men for no reason and white gangs would terrorise black families. While Britain has come a long way from those days, racism is still alive and kicking. As I alluded to in my speech at last year’s Conservative Party conference, black children are undermined by the British school system because we expect too little of them.

This doesn’t mean that all teachers are racist, by any means. In fact, racism in the way that so many imagine it to exist in schools — white teachers punishing black children disproportionately, or black children all being put into bottom sets when they are bright enough to be in top sets — hardly exists at all, in my experience. The racism that does exist is that black children are treated differently to white ones. Incidentally, this doesn’t just happen to black kids. It also happens to the white working class or to anyone with some silly label, like anger management problems or ADHD. And it isn’t the ordinary teacher who is at fault. It is the senior management teams who refuse to ensure that the school rules should apply equally and fairly to all.

White middle-class Johnny doesn’t hand in his homework and he is punished for it. The next time, having learned from the experience, he makes sure it gets done. Meanwhile, black working-class Annie doesn’t hand in her homework, but because it is assumed that things are tougher for her, that she may not have a quiet room in which to do her work, or her father drinks a lot, or she simply lives on an estate, or simply because she is black, teacher turns a blind eye. Or, more often, teacher punishes her but then is somehow undermined by the systems of the school so that when teacher needs the deputy’s support, the support is nowhere to be found because the deputy understands that this child is ‘special’.

Of course, anyone insisting that all children should be held to the same high standards is demonised: they have no feelings; they don’t care about the working class; they are unable to be flexible in their approach. In the recent case of Toby Young’s new free school, even worse accusations are made: the decision his head made to send a boy home for not adhering to the school’s uniform rules somehow makes Toby Young a racist. All over Twitter, Young is being branded a racist. What for? For backing his head’s decision to insist that a black boy be held to the same standards as everyone else. Apparently, according to all those who are anti-academy, anti-free school, anti-Michael Gove and anti-progress, if you’re a black boy, the rules that apply to everyone else shouldn’t apply to you.

The boy was sent home for having an inappropriate haircut. The issue isn’t whether you, the reader, find this haircut appropriate or not. You may very well think the haircut is just fine. And when you run your own school, you will ensure that your school rules permit such haircuts. But at the West London Free School, haircuts that are below a grade 3 are not allowed. And frankly, as a parent, if you disagree with this rule, then you need to choose another school for your child. This boy’s mother chose the WLFS for her child, knowing full well what the rules were, and then had the audacity to go back on the agreement she made with the school when her child first started there in September. As the head of WLFS said, he looks forward to the day when a head simply implementing the school’s rules is not cause for a national press story.

Little does this mother know how much of a pawn she is for the Leftist white establishment, so desperate are they to throw stones at Toby Young. Suddenly he is a racist when all he and his head are doing is refusing to lower their standards for a black boy. Shame on all those white people tweeting about Toby being a racist. Anyone who has done so should take a good look at themselves. The real racism lies with them. And as prejudice always does, it blinds so badly that they don’t even know it.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Dark Matter Gets Darker: New Measurements Confound Scientists

New measurements of tiny galaxies contradict scientists’ best model of dark matter, further complicating the already mysterious picture of the stuff that is thought to make up 98 percent of all matter in the universe. Dark matter, the invisible material thought to permeate the universe, can only be indirectly detected through its gravitational pull on the normal matter that makes up stars and planets. Despite not knowing exactly what dark matter is, scientists have gradually built up a good model to describe its behavior. The model envisions dark matter made up of cold, slow-moving exotic particles that clump together because of gravity.

This “cold dark matter” model has done remarkably well describing how dark matter behaves in most situations. However, it breaks down when applied to mini “dwarf galaxies,” where dark matter appears more spread out than it should be, according to the theory. In a new study, researchers calculated the mass distribution of two dwarf galaxies using a new method that did not rely on any dark matter theories. The scientists studied the Fornax and Sculptor galaxies, which orbit the Milky Way. However, their measurements still contradict cold dark matter theory, further entrenching the problem.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Giant Amoebas Discovered in Deepest Ocean Trench

Gigantic amoebas have been found in the Mariana Trench, the deepest region on Earth. During a July 2011 voyage to the Pacific Ocean chasm, researchers with Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and National Geographic engineers deployed untethered landers, called dropcams, equipped with digital video and lights to explore the largely mysterious region of the deep sea. The team documented the deepest known existence of xenophyophores, single-celled animals exclusively found in deep-sea environments. Xenophyophores are noteworthy for their size, with individual cells often exceeding 4 inches (10 centimeters), their extreme abundance on the seafloor and their role as hosts for a variety of organisms.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Mastodon Fossil Throws Up Questions Over ‘Rapid’ Extinction

A bone tool embedded in a mastodon rib suggests humans were hunting big game earlier than thought.

About 13,800 years ago, a mastodon in North America met a somewhat ironic end. It died at the hands of humans wielding a bone projectile made from the skeleton of another mastodon. A study of the remains of this unfortunate trunk-bearing beast adds weight to the theory that the downfall of the megafauna may have been more gradual than previously proposed.

The skeleton of the mastodon (Mammut americanum) was excavated from the Manis site in Washington state in the late 1970s. Initial examinations found cut marks on the bones, and a projectile point made of bone was embedded in one of the mastodon’s ribs. This mastodon had been hunted.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Skeptical Research Effort Confirms Global Warming, Again

An independent effort to review temperature data finds strong evidence of climate change, consistent with other scientific results

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tiny Toilers: Precision-Controlled Microbots Show They Could Take on Industrial-Scale Jobs (Video)

Magnetically levitated microbots, some the size of a pinhead, demonstrate construction skills on the small scale

A pioneering research institute that introduced the computer world to the mouse, hypertext and networks is now setting its sights a bit lower. A team of engineers at SRI International, a nonprofit contract research and development lab in Menlo Park, Calif., has harnessed simple, magnetically levitated microbots to build structures and perform other sophisticated tasks at small size scales.

Many such floating microbots could be made to work in concert, something like mechanical ant colonies, to construct objects and carry out many other useful applications, says Ron Pelrine, chief scientist at SRI’s Robotics, Engineering Research and Development Division. He suggests, for example, that they would be suited for micro-assembly jobs in plants that fabricate micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) chips or rapid prototyping of novel structures with embedded electronics such as sensors and portable diagnostic devices. They might also do small-scale tasks in biological and medical fields such as cell printing or forming complex tissue-growth media.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]