Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20111122

Financial Crisis
»Asia: World Bank: Asian Economies to Slow Down Because of Europe Crisis
»Broken America: The Country of Limited Possibilities
»Cardinal Bertone: Markets Totally Self-Referential
»EU Confident in New Italian Government
»EU: Analysts See 10% Jump in European Profits
»Flawed Role Model: Germany’s Finances Not as Sound as Believed
»Italy: Kissinger’s Favorite Communist Paves Way for Monti
»Merkel: States Not Respecting Budgets to Lose Sovereignty
»More Deadlock as US ‘Super Committee’ Fails to Agree on Deficit Deal
»Switzerland: Rich Cast Nervous Eye at Inheritance Tax Plan
»Top Belgian Mediator Offers to Quit Over Budget Stalemate
»Christ at the Checkpoint 2012, Dr Jim West and Pro-Nazi Theology
»Jews, Muslims Feed Jersey Hungry
»Mosque Seeks to Help Meet Community Needs
»NASA Probe to Search for Pluto’s Hidden Ocean
»Obama Pardons 5, Commutes 1 Sentence for Convictions Ranging From Selling Drugs to Gambling
»Pelosi Bashes Catholics: “They Have This Conscience Thing”
Europe and the EU
»Berlin Won’t Collect Tax From WWII Victims
»Britain and Turkey: A New Special Relationship
»Brussels: The New Capital of Eurabia
»Deutsche Bahn Hopes DNA Will Curb Metal Theft
»Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Result Queried
»Ireland: Mayor Refuses to Represent Black Africans
»Italy: Di Pietro Sees Fiat Statement as Goodbye to Italy
»Socialist Red: After Spain Disappeared From EU Map
»Sorry Mr Gul, But Turkey Won’t be Joining the EU Any Time Soon
»UK: Croydon Sees Number of Rape Cases Rise by Almost 40 Per Cent.
»UK: Lutfur Rahman Ally in Court Over Election ‘Smears’
»UK: MCB Holds Inspiring Eid Reception in Whitehall
»UK: Three Asian Peers Given Lengthy Bans From Parliament After Wrongly Claiming Almost £200,000 in Expenses Are at the Centre of an Extraordinary Legal Battle Over Whether They Were Targeted Because of Their Race.
»Bosnia: Eight Muslims Arrested for Crimes Against Serbs and Croats
»Kosovo Serbs Apply En Masse for Russian Citizenship
North Africa
»Arab Spring? This is Turning Into the Winter of Islamic Jihad
»Battered by Protests, Egypt’s Military Promises to Speed Transition to Civilian Rule
»Libyan NTC Appoints Transitional Govt’s Main Ministers
»Protesters Call for Mass Rally as Egypt’s Cabinet Offers Resignation
»Secret Video Shows Egyptian Police, Security Staging Attack on Copts
Middle East
»An Ultimatum: Arab League Fed Up With Syrian Violence
»Arab Spring: Europe Calls for Safeguard of Christians
»EU to Slap Sanctions on 200 Iranian Firms, People: Diplomats
»Free Press on Trial in EU Aspirant Turkey
»Iran: Qur’anic Curtsey in Interfaith Dialogue
»Italy Supports US Sanctions on Iran, EU to Follow
»Qatar Opens Doors to Pork
»Western Powers Serve Up Fresh Sanctions Against Iran
»Yemen: ‘Dozens Killed’ During Assault on Govt Barracks
»Fiat to Entrust Distribution in Russia to Chrysler
»Russian Patriarch Awarded Order of Sheikh ul-Islam
South Asia
»India: Christian Leaders for the Release of Kashmiri Pastor Arrested for Forced Conversions
»Indonesia: Saudis Ship Back Remains of Migrant Worker
»Intolerance Grows in the Maldives
»Pak Blocks ‘Christ’ From SMSs, To Review Decision
»Pakistan: Police Force to be Sensitized on Gender Lines for Better Output: Fehmida
Australia — Pacific
»Australia: Feisty Author to Change Face of Islam
»New Zealand: History Made: Louis Farrakhan, Detroit
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Chinese Medicine Driving Rhinos to Extinction
»Italy: Napolitano Urges Citizenship for Children of Immigrants
Culture Wars
»Homosexuals Threaten and Vandalize Churches Standing for Biblical Truth
»To Promote Diversity, Schools Should Make Students Sit Together

Financial Crisis

Asia: World Bank: Asian Economies to Slow Down Because of Europe Crisis

Growth in East Asia should slow to 7.8 per cent (against 8.2 this year). For China, growth will drop to 8.4 per cent from 9.1. Declining foreign demand comes with lower lending by foreign banks. East Asia is told to focus on domestic or regional markets. China feels the first signs of its bursting real estate bubble.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) — East Asian economies are destined for lower growth due to a slump in demand in Europe and the United States, this according to the semiannual report by the World Bank (WB) released yesterday. Developing East Asia, which excludes Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and India, will see its expansion moderate to 7.8 per cent in 2012 from 8.2 percent this year. The forecast for China remains upbeat with the country headed for a soft landing as demand shrinks and the real estate market experiences a correction.

For Bert Hofman, WB chief economist for East Asia and Pacific region, lower demand in Europe and the United States are not the only factor for the slowdown. Natural disasters, like Thailand’s floods, and higher bank capitalisation explain the slower pace of growth.

Malaysia in particular could be vulnerable if European banks suddenly curtail lending as it has loans from European banks worth more than 25 per cent of its GDP, the report said.

To offset the slowdown, emerging economies should offer fiscal stimuli and boost domestic and regional markets, the WB said.

China’s economy should grow by 8.4 per cent next year against 9.1 this year, the WB report said. The picture for the Asian juggernaut is thus positive. Domestic consumption should remain strong. Chinese banks should be able to withstand any shock. And even the real estate bubble could be managed with fiscal incentives and the normalisation of the country’s monetary policies.

However, news from China is less reassuring. For most analysts, it is only a matter of time before the country’s real estate bubble bursts, with some predicting prices dropping between 15 and 30 per cent in the next six to nine months.

According to Xinhua, a growing number of government-sponsored land auctions in Jinan, Nanjing and Chengdu have seen land lots either unsold or sold at the minimum prices.

Many small and medium size businesses are going under or relocating abroad because of the credit squeeze. Earnings and salaries are bound to disappear or delocalise.

The government also appears steadfast in its tight credit policy even if property prices were to drop by 50 per cent.

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

Broken America: The Country of Limited Possibilities

The failure of the bipartisan supercommittee to reach agreement on spending cuts shows the extent of the gridlock in Washington. The country’s politicians seem unable to tackle America’s pressing problems. As the election campaign begins in earnest, there is little hope of compromise.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Cardinal Bertone: Markets Totally Self-Referential

(AGI) Vatican City — The economic crisis “underscores the unsustainability of a totally self-referential market”. This is what the Holy See Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said while speaking this morning at meeting on new evangelization organized at the Vatican by the European Council of Bishops’ Conferences. According to Cardinal Bertone, the current daunting situation “raises new questions on the responsability and the ethics of financial processes and urgently submists us a fundamental moral question about our destiny, our dignity and the spirtual call of the human person”.

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

EU Confident in New Italian Government

‘With right politics’, Italy can overcome challenges, says Rehn

(ANSA) — Rome, November 22 — The European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn, said Tuesday he was confident that Italy could overcome its economic challenges as Italian Premier Mario Monti was to make his first official visit to Brussels since stepping into office. “With the right politics, Italy can overcome the present lack of faith in the markets,” he said.

The commissioner added that the Italian economy would continue to undergo monitoring “in the coming months” to ensure the implementation of reforms designed to boost economic growth and cut the country’s massive 1.9-trillion-euro debt.

“The new premier has even indicated his intention to go above and beyond in some important areas,” said Rehn. “Some important measures have already been met”. Monti, who also holds the economy portfolio and spent the weekend reviewing data on the country’s finances, stepped in to lead an emergency government of non-political experts tasked with implementing EU-mandated reforms after Silvio Berlusconi quit as premier.

He was to meet with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels on Tuesday.

On Thursday he will have talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Strasbourg.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

EU: Analysts See 10% Jump in European Profits

London, 21 Nov. (AKI/Bloomberg) — As Europe’s debt crisis raises the risk of a recession, companies in the region show no signs of slowing with earnings growth poised to top their U.S. rivals.

Net income for companies in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index will rise by 10.5 percent in 2012 after increasing 11 percent this year, led by carmakers such as Porsche SE and retailers including Burberry Group Plc (BRBY), according to more than 12,000 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The gauge is headed for four straight years of income growth exceeding 10 percent, the longest streak since 1998, data show.

Bulls say the 16 percent tumble in European stocks since December has created bargains because profit growth will exceed the 10.1 percent estimated for U.S. companies, even though the economy in the 17-nation euro zone is expanding at one-third the pace, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Bears have no confidence in the earnings forecasts when sovereign borrowing costs are reaching records on concern Greece may default.

“Companies are in a lot healthier position going into a downturn than in 2008,” said Luke Stellini, who helps oversee $636 billion at Invesco Ltd. in Henley-on-Thames, England. “The debate is how north the recession in Europe may spread, but I’d argue that equity valuations take account of most scenarios already.”

International demand will help push net income up more than 10 percent next year at mining companies, retailers and builders, analysts say. As much as 54 percent of sales in the Stoxx 600 comes from outside Europe, according to data compiled by Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc. (RBS) Earnings in the Stoxx Banks Index may gain 23 percent in 2012, the data show.

Fourth Year

Analysts’ predictions for 2012 imply a fourth year of growth topping the 8 percent average since 1981, data from Bank of America Corp. (BAC)’s Merrill Lynch division show. The forecast for this year’s expansion in Stoxx 600 earnings has dropped to 11 percent from 21 percent in January. Projections for 2012 fell 3.5 percent in October, the most since March 2009.

The Stoxx 600 lost 2.3 percent to 226.74 at 8:50 a.m. in London. The European gauge slid 3.7 percent to 232.17 last week as government bond yields rose. The index ended last week at 9.2 times 2012 profit forecasts, compared with a median of 10.3 times over the past five years, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index in the U.S. slipped 3.8 percent to 1,215.65, bringing its ratio to 11.1 times 2012 estimates.

“European markets are a mess and there is a debt crisis, but if you look at specific companies, they are doing fine,” Herbert Perus, who helps oversee about $36 billion as head of global equities at Raiffeisen Capital Management in Vienna, said in a phone interview. “No one believes in it at the moment, but I don’t think it is unrealistic that earnings will grow again.”

Greek Contagion

Yields on Greek two-year notes climbed to a record 115.49 percent last week while borrowing costs in Spain and Italy rose to euro-area records this month as the debt crisis spread. Economists have lowered projections for the euro zone’s 2012 GDP growth to 0.7 percent from 1.8 percent in January, according to the median estimate of 21 respondents in a Bloomberg survey. U.S. GDP is poised to expand 2.2 percent.

Greece and Portugal will contract this year, according to European Commission forecasts. A report on services and manufacturing in the region on Nov. 4 showed output decreased more than initially estimated in October.

2008 Crisis

GDP in the euro zone declined from the third quarter of 2008 through the second quarter of 2009, the only recession since European Union data began in 1995. Earnings tumbled 57 percent in 2008 amid the financial crisis that peaked with the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in September of that year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Profits retreated an average 31 percent in four contractions since 1980, data from Bloomberg and Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America show.

“Politicians have missed their opportunity to prevent a European credit crunch,” said Azad Zangana, a London-based economist at Schroders Plc, which oversees $345 billion. “Many euro-zone banks are already on life support. We are now forecasting a serious recession in the euro-zone in 2012, which is also likely to result in recessions in the wider European region.”

German investor confidence fell to a three-year low, a report on Nov. 15 showed. Retail sales in the region decreased 0.7 percent in September, more than economists predicted, data released Nov. 7 show. The European Union’s statistics office said Nov. 14 industrial production slipped the most in 2 1/2 years in September.

Earnings Sources

“This highlights how much of an effect the sovereign debt crisis has had on corporate confidence and capital expenditures,” said James Butterfill, who helps oversee $63 billion as global equity strategist at Coutts & Co. in London. “It is difficult to see where earnings growth will come from.”

Profit fell 11 percent on average between 1991 and 1993, Merrill Lynch data show, after the U.S. savings-and-loan crisis curbed global growth. Profits declined 27 percent in 1981 as rising interest rates shrunk the U.S. economy.

Companies see no such reversal in 2012. Anglo American Plc (AAL), the London-based mining company that analysts expect will boost earnings by 15 percent next year, has dropped 29 percent in 2011. Chief Executive Officer Cynthia Carroll said Sept. 29 her industry has a “very, very solid” outlook as China expands.

Cheapest Carmaker

Carroll spent $5.1 billion in cash on Nov. 4 to buy the Oppenheimer family’s 40 percent stake in De Beers, the world’s largest diamond miner. Anglo American trades at 6.13 times next year’s estimated earnings, near the lowest since the bull market started in March 2009.

Porsche is the fourth-cheapest stock among 49 car and auto parts companies in the MSCI World Index after falling to 4.9 times 2012 estimates, about half its valuation at the start of the year. The company said Oct. 28 nine-month profit at its carmaking unit rose 25 percent on demand for the Cayenne sport- utility vehicle.

Porsche expects sales to reach a record in 2012, a person with knowledge of the matter said Oct. 13. Porsche in Stuttgart, Germany may boost profit by 46 percent next year, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Burberry, the U.K.’s largest luxury-goods maker, said Nov. 15 it can weather Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis by focusing on wealthy clients in cities such as New York and Hong Kong. The 155-year-old maker of leather bags and trench coats gets more than half of sales in 25 “very strong” city markets with high net-worth individuals and tourists, Chief Executive Officer Angela Ahrendts said on a conference call that day.

Edmund Shing, a strategist at Barclays Plc in London, says stocks have fallen too far. Profits growth may be in “the mid- single digits” next year, he said.

“We don’t believe it is time to throw in the towel and abandon the European equities ship,” said Shing. “Weather-worn and creaking though it may be.”

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

Flawed Role Model: Germany’s Finances Not as Sound as Believed

The German government likes to pride itself on its solid finances and claim the country is a safe haven for investors. But Germany’s budget management is not nearly as exemplary as it would have people believe, and the national debt is way over the EU’s limit. In some respects, Italy’s finances are in much better shape.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Kissinger’s Favorite Communist Paves Way for Monti

Rome, 22 Nov. (AKI/Bloomberg) — Italy’s new government, headed by former European Union Commissioner Mario Monti, has an unlikely supporter in President Giorgio Napolitano, an ex-communist who once praised the Soviet Union for crushing the 1956 reformist movement in Hungary.

Napolitano, whose post is usually ceremonial, earlier this month emerged as the key Italian contact for foreign leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy as Italian bond spreads widened to a record during a deepening debt and political crisis.

As Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s majority unraveled amid plummeting investor confidence, Napolitano, 86, sounded out Italy’s political and business elites to build a consensus on the country’s future. Berlusconi resigned Nov. 12 and Monti was sworn in four days later.

“The president took on this role because we gave the impression in the last two months that there was neither a government nor an opposition to talk to,” Mario Baldassarri, a former Berlusconi ally who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said in an interview. “We’ve never had the spread at 570 basis points, so in the face of a situation without precedent, the president has behaved in an unprecedented way.”

Backing Confindustria

Napolitano, who was part of the anti-Fascist resistance and helped publish Marxist writings during World War II, in July of this year backed a call by employers’ lobby Confindustria to make economic growth a pillar of policy alongside fiscal rigor. That kind of pragmatism led former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to once call the Italian politician “my favorite communist,” Napolitano told Corriere della Sera in a 2001 interview.

On Nov. 13, four days after the yield on Italy’s benchmark 10-year bond surged to 7.25 percent, the highest close since the euro’s introduction in 1999, Napolitano called on all those “concerned about the nation’s fate” to avoid “a precipitous recourse” to early elections.

Italy’s priority must be to reassure investors as it seeks to refinance “about 200 billion euros in Treasury debt maturing through April” of next year, the president said in a nationwide address after consulting with parties on a new government. The 10-year yield was 6.67 percent as of 9 a.m. in Rome, up one basis point from yesterday.

Market Economy

The president’s journey from Communist Party member to defender of his country’s market economy “must be put into the context of the anti-Fascist resistance and postwar Italy,” said Riccardo Barbieri, chief European economist at Mizuho International Plc in London. Napolitano was “the leading figure in the reformist wing of the Italian Communist Party and a believer in a transition to a social-democratic position.”

The son of a Naples attorney, Napolitano joined the Communist party, or PCI, in 1945. After Warsaw Pact soldiers crushed the 1956 anti-Soviet uprising in Hungary, killing some 3,000 people, Napolitano defended Moscow, claiming the crackdown not only halted a “counter-revolution, but contributed to world peace,” according to a 2006 article in Corriere della Sera.

In 1969, Napolitano helped lead a partial break by western Europe’s largest communist party away from Kremlin hardliners, as the Italians criticized Moscow’s decision to put down the Czech Prague Spring movement the year before. Napolitano helped pen his party’s statement of “profound disagreement” over the invasion, while still expressing solidarity with the Soviet Union, according to Victor Zaslavsky, a historian at LUISS University in Rome who died in 2009.

Seeking Options

More than 40 years later Napolitano, who’s been president since 2006, again found himself seeking a “third way” for Italian politics. As Berlusconi’s majority crumbled and investors dumped the country’s debt, the president began seeking new options amid a worsening sovereign crisis.

His support of the Confindustria economic position, a tacit criticism of then-Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti’s austerity- only approach, came as he stepped up talks with powerbrokers like opposition leader Pierferdinando Casini, Confindustria head Emma Marcegaglia, then-Bank of Italy Governor Mario Draghi and Romano Prodi, a former European Commission president.

“Faced with a crisis of confidence in Italy, it was quite evident that Berlusconi was the problem and a solution had to be found,” said Giacomo Vaciago, a professor at Milan’s Catholic University and an adviser to previous Italian governments.

‘Common Cause’

Monti, who had pushed the idea of pairing “growth with rigor” in a series of columns in Corriere, cited Napolitano in four of the articles, ending his Aug. 14 op-ed piece by quoting the president’s appeal for Italians to join “a common cause” for the good of their country.

“Monti’s new government is partly the president’s government,” Francesco Rutelli, a former Rome mayor and prime ministerial candidate for the center-left, said Nov. 16. “Some of us began thinking a few years ago that this would be the only solution to Berlusconi’s two-decade reign.”

Berlusconi, who entered politics in 1994, often rails against communists, saying they’re still a threat to the country two decades after the Soviet Union collapsed. While Berlusconi has always had publicly cordial ties with Napolitano, he’s made no secret of his opinion of the former PCI member, saying in October 2009 that “you know which side he’s on.”

“The history of communism, with more than 100 million killed, is not behind us,” Berlusconi said in an address in Milan on Feb. 26. “They’ve transformed themselves into the Labour Party in Great Britain and the Social Democrats in Germany, while here at home they’re still communists. And that’s why I’m in politics.”

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

Merkel: States Not Respecting Budgets to Lose Sovereignty

(AGI) Berlin — German Chancellor Angela Merkel,who believes that amending European treaties is the only way to restore market confidence, has said that European states not respecting their budgets are set to lose part of their national sovereignty. Merkel reiterated that should the euro collapse, Europe will fall, and thus it is necessary to move quickly to change the treaties. She added that should such change prove difficult at a European level, then action will have to be taken within the eurozone .

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

More Deadlock as US ‘Super Committee’ Fails to Agree on Deficit Deal

A bipartisan committee has failed to reach a compromise on measures designed to reduce the US budget deficit. The outcome means automatic cuts are now set to take effect.

The US debt ceiling will not be raised without budget cuts. That was the conclusion of a deal in August, when, at the last minute, the US managed to avert default on its debt payments. Since it was impossible to agree so abruptly on what should be cut, a bipartisan party committee seemed like the best solution. As a result President Barack Obama and a panel of congressmen from both sides of the political spectrum established the so-called super committee.

Made up of six Republicans and six Democrats, the super committee was given the task of making $1.2 trillion (887 billion euros) of budget cuts over the next 10 years. If they failed to reach agreement by this Wednesday evening, automatic cuts outlined in the bill would come into effect from 2013. Those cuts are likely to affect the Department of defense, which has largely been protected up until now. A number of social programs and public authorities will also be forced to slash spending.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Rich Cast Nervous Eye at Inheritance Tax Plan

A proposal to stiffen the inheritance and gift tax laws in Switzerland has sent many wealthy residents running to their accountants for advice.

The people’s initiative, backed by a coalition of left leaning parties, aims a broadside at the assets of multi-millionaires by insisting that they relinquish a fifth of their wealth when it is passed on to the next generation.

The expected SFr3 billion ($3.27 billion) in extra tax revenues would help plug a growing hole in the state pension fund, supporters say. Critics have argued that the adoption of such measures would drive rich individuals and families away from Switzerland, denying cantons much needed sources of income.

At present, the federal authorities do not impose central inheritance or gift taxes if people choose to hand their assets on to others.

All cantons, besides Schwyz, charge varying amounts for passing wealth to the next generation. Most cantons also apply a charge for financial gifts — with varying limits — while the owner of the assets is still alive.

Tackling inequality

But in both cases, most cantons exempt spouses and direct descendants from the tax. Beneficiaries who are not direct descendants, on the other hand, could face a bill of around 50 per cent of the assets they receive.

The initiative wants to harmonise the taxes by charging a national 20 per cent rate on inheritances worth more than SFr2 million ($2.18 million) and gifts of more than SFr20,000 per year.

The Social Democrat party says the changes — if voted in by the public — would bring order to a chaotic system. Furthermore, the measures would bring more equality to Switzerland by ensuring that the rich do not go on becoming richer at the expense of others, the party argues.

“The richest one per cent of taxpayers possess the same wealth as the other 99 per cent,” the Social Democrats stated in its campaign literature. “Since in Switzerland the largest fortunes can be passed on untaxed, this concentration of wealth becomes more pronounced.”

“An inheritance tax on the largest fortunes would counteract this socially harmful development.”…

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

Top Belgian Mediator Offers to Quit Over Budget Stalemate

Inter-party bickering has kept Belgium from forming a new government for 17 months and the country’s interim government is at a loss. It’s not the first time mediator Elio Di Rupo has offered his resignation.

The head negotiator tasked with ending Belgium’s 17-month political stalemate offered his resignation Monday after talks on the 2012 budget ground to a halt.

Elio Di Rupo, leader of the Francophone Socialists, has failed to lead a six-party coalition of Dutch and French-speaking Socialists, Liberals and Christian Democrats to agreement on budget cuts that would save 11.3 billion euros ($15.2 billion) in order to bring the country’s deficit below 2.8 percent of gross domestic product, in compliance with European Union rules.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Christ at the Checkpoint 2012, Dr Jim West and Pro-Nazi Theology

Meet Dr Jim West, Adjunct Professor of Biblical Studies at the Quartz Hill School of Theology and Pastor of Petros Baptist Church, Petros, Tennessee:

He is supportive of the Christ at the Checkpoint 2012 conference, which is likely to be full of antisemitism, racism and replacement theology. He is also a fan of Stephen Sizer.

Christ at the Checkpoint 2012 will be hosted by Bethlehem Bible College. Raed Salah supporters Stephen Sizer and Ben White are due to speak there. Sizer is listed as an organiser.

Bethle hem Bible College has a worrying track record on antisemitism. They sent lecturer Alex Awad to represent the college, and share a platform with Hitler-admirer and Holocaust denier Frederick Tobin in Indonesia. Stephen Sizer also attended this conference in Indonesia, as did Iranian Holocaust denier and Faurisson admirer Jawad Shabarf.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Jews, Muslims Feed Jersey Hungry

SOMERSET — Muslims and Jews have joined hands to feed the hungry in New Jersey and New York as part of efforts made to promote greater understanding between the two major faiths in the US. “Each Jew and each Muslim is obligated to help those most in need,” said Walter Ruby of the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, New Brunswick Patch reported on Monday, November 21. The Sunday’s project was co-sponsored by Muslims Against Hunger Project, Rutgers University Shalom-Salaam, and the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

The event started on the morning at the kitchen of the Muslim Foundation Inc. Mosque in Somerset. Joining hands, Muslims and Jews cooperated in a friendly atmosphere to prepare 350 meals for homeless folks in New York and New Jersey. Volunteers, either adults or students from Rutgers University, prepared tandoori chicken, rice pilaf, salad, vegetables and fruit. Halal, kosher and vegetarian option of chickpea salad was also prepared, as well as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Zamir Hassan, founder of the Muslims Against Hunger Project said about 100 meals would be taken to a shelter in Basking Ridge, while another 150 would be taken to Manhattan, where they would be handed out to homeless on the street. Ruby said the group planned to visit 53rd St. and Lexington Ave. in New York, a spot where many homeless people congregate. Though there are no official figures, America is believed to be home to nearly eight million Muslims. A 2010 report of the North American Jewish Data Bank puts the number of Jews in the US at around 6.5 million.


Along with feeding the hungry, Muslim and Jewish volunteers found the event a good opportunity to build bridges between the two communities. “We thought community service was a great way to go about it,” Marshal Anjum, 26, of Shalom-Salaam, a Muslim and Jewish student organization at Rutgers University, said. The event was part of a larger “Weekend of Twinning,” held from Nov. 18 through 20. The purpose of the weekend is to facilitate events between Muslim and Jewish people to promote greater understanding and community between the two, according to Ruby of the New York-ba sed Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

According to a release from Muslims Against Hunger, more than 125 events are being held around the world as part of the Weekend of Twinning. Interfaith ties between American Muslim and Jewish leaders have a history of successes. Sponsored by The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, a New York-based nonprofit organization, the “Twinning Mosques and Synagogues” initiative aims to promote ethnic harmony and build inter-group grassroots ties.

Since the initiative began in 2008, the Twinning Mosques and Synagogues brought together 50 Jewish and 50 Muslim congregations across the United States and Canada at one-on-one programs. A group of high-profile Muslim and Jewish organizations participate in the initiative, including the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the World Jewish Congress (WJC), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims (CAJM).

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Mosque Seeks to Help Meet Community Needs

DURHAM — Inside the small, shiny kitchen at Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center, Doretha Hamidullah lops red and green pepper strips, preparing them for the vegetarian chili warming in a large pot under the stove’s blue flames. Hamidullah is one of about 10 women at the mosque who arrive here early every third Saturday of the month to cook a free community meal. The Muslim sisters maneuver around one another to chop onions for the green beans, brown ground turkey for the chili and sprinkle garlic salt on the slices of white grocery store bread smeared in butter.

Shortly before noon the women dish the food into hundreds of take-out boxes. Mosque members and other volunteers then transport the home-cooked food to Durham community centers such as senior citiz ens facilities and the Genesis House, a transitional housing facility on North Queen Street. In addition, 30 to 50 people who are registered with partner social service agencies walk into the mosque to pick up meals, and anyone in the community can visit the mosque from noon to 2 p.m. to eat a meal at one of the tables in the mosque community center. Wadeeah Beyah, who is part of the Saturday-morning cooking team, said that the community meals help Ar-Razzaq bridge the gap between the community and its ailments. “It goes back to basic living,” she said. “Treat others as you like to be treated. You are your brother’s keeper.”

The women at the Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center — and occasionally the men (“My brothers can cook,” insists fellow meal-preparer Baheejah Rasheed) — cook the monthly feasts according to Islamic dietary laws. Common menu items include rice pilaf and stewed chicken, baked yams, white rice and classic sweets called bean pies. The women substitute chicken a nd turkey for pork, which Muslims do not eat. Head cook Ruth Mitchiner fiddles with large bottles of spices on a rack near the stove, she talks about the eggplant she can transform into a dish that tastes like meatloaf.

The women have aspirations to publish a cookbook of their creations. But their early morning labors in the kitchen extend beyond a trove of memorized recipes that one day may find their way to paper. For the members of Ar-Razzaq, which literally means “Mosque of the Provider” in Arabic, preparing food for the community is a tangible ways to meet community need and to show Islam’s aim. “Really at the end of the day it’s [Islam] about working with society and helping humanity,” Imam Greg Rashad said. “That’s what we are trying to do.”

The Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center is the oldest mosque, also known as a masjid, in North Carolina. The Nation of Islam purchased the building — previously functioning as a ballroom — in the early 1970s to become a Nation of Islam center for Durham residents. The Nation of Islam is an Islamic movement composed mainly of black American Muslims. However, when Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad died in 1975, his son, Warith Deen Muhammad, moved away from some of his father’s Nation of Islam beliefs — including his father’s views on black separatism — and attempted to align the group more with mainstream Islam. Today, Ar-Razzaq considers itself part of the legacy of Warith Deen Muhammad’s movement rather than the re-instituted Nation of Islam movement led by Louis Farrakhan.

On Saturday, it was Khadijah Muhammad-Jones’ first time back at Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center after many years of exploring Islam elsewhere. She said that the former Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad was a pious man and his message to black Muslims was to uplift them during a certain time in history. Rashad said that Elijah Muhammad’s son, Warith Deen Muhammad, ushered in a new vision for black Muslims that moved t hem back to mainstream Islam but also inspired them to engage in the global community. “You can’t be a separatist today and expect to get anything done,” Rashad said. “We have to link to one another in order to become contributors to humanity.” Muhammed-Jones said she was happy to return to Ar-Razzaq because of its intentional focus on mainstream Islam and its desire to embrace the community. On Saturday she sat quietly at a table with a large pan of bread slices before her. She carefully buttered the slices before returning them to the tray. The meal she was helping to prepare was a metaphor for Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center’s message about Islam to the community. “It’s not just for black people, but for all people,” she said. “Islam is for all people.”

At a Glance

Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center Community Meals

When: The third Saturday of every month from noon to 2 p.m.

Where: Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center, 1009 West Chapel Hill Street, Durham, NC 27701

Meal includes a main dish, a side item, bread, dessert and a drink. All meals are free and open to the public.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

NASA Probe to Search for Pluto’s Hidden Ocean

When NASA’s New Horizons cruises by Pluto in 2015, the images it captures could help astronomers determine if an ocean is hiding under the frigid surface, opening the door to new possibilities for liquid water to exist on other bodies in the solar system. New research has not only concluded such an ocean is likely, but also has highlighted features the spacecraft could identify that could help confirm an ocean’s existence.

Pluto’s outer surface is composed of a thin shell of nitrogen ice, covering a shell of water ice. Planetary scientists Guillaume Robuchon and Francis Nimmo, both of the University of California at Santa Cruz, wanted to find out whether or not an ocean could exist underneath this icy shell, and what visible signs such an ocean might produce on the surface. The pair modeled the thermal evolution of the dwarf planet and studied the behavior of the shell to see how the surface would be affected by the presence of an ocean below.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Obama Pardons 5, Commutes 1 Sentence for Convictions Ranging From Selling Drugs to Gambling

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Monday pardoned five people convicted of charges ranging from intent to distribute marijuana to running an illegal gambling business.

And he issued his first commutation, ordering the release of a woman next month after serving 10 years on a 22-year sentence for cocaine distribution.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Pelosi Bashes Catholics: “They Have This Conscience Thing”

This time, Pelosi is upset that the nation’s Catholic bishops are protesting a potential Obama administration decision forcing insurance companies to cover birth control, contraception and drugs that could cause abortions. They say certain religious groups may not be exempt from providing the insurance, which would violate their moral and religious views.

Pelosi says the position is akin to having hospitals “say to a woman, ‘I’m sorry you could die’ if you don’t get an abortion,” she told the Washington Post.

“Those who dispute that characterization “may not like the language,’’ she said, “but the truth is what I said. I’m a devout Catholic and I honor my faith and love it … but they have this conscience thing” that the Post said Pelosi “insists put women at physical risk, although Catholic providers strongly disagree.”

Pelosi also defended controversial remarks she made about a bill to prevent Obamacare from funding abortions, where she claimed Republicans “want women to die on the floor.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Berlin Won’t Collect Tax From WWII Victims

Germany moved Monday to reassure Belgium that people who suffered forced labour at the hands of the Nazis would not have to pay tax on their compensation, after a row between Berlin and Brussels.

Finance ministry spokesman Martin Kotthaus told a regular news conference in Berlin that a law was due to be passed on Friday which would retroactively make this compensation non-taxable.

“This problem no longer exists, or at least will no longer exist very soon,” Kotthaus told reporters.

The victims of forced labour during World War II were compensated by a one-off payment that was not subject to tax, added the spokesman.

However, some forced workers also received a pension to compensate them for pension money they would otherwise have received.

This had been considered taxable until now, but the law to be passed on Friday would change that, Kotthaus said.

A row broke out over the weekend, when Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders vowed to tackle Berlin over “morally indefensible” tax demands German officials had issued to Belgian survivors of the forced labour programme.

Several dozen former victims had complained of receiving the letters, according to reports in the Belgian press, demanding tax on pensions paid out since 2005, sometimes amounting to several hundred euros.

Thousands of Belgians were among the 13 million people conscripted into the Nazis’ forced labour programme. It was only in recent years that Germany finally compensated them.

Germany’s EVZ Foundation set up in 2000 to handle compensation payments for surviving victims of the programme wound up in 2007. It had paid out €4.4 billion ($5.9 billion) to 1.66 million people in nearly 100 countries.

Kotthaus said that the tax issue had affected 25,000 people and was not confined to Belgium.

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

Britain and Turkey: A New Special Relationship

The case for a strong bilateral partnership between Britain and Turkey has never been stronger, writes William Hague.

Last year within three months of becoming Prime Minister, David Cameron arrived in Ankara. When asked “Why Turkey?” and, “Why so soon?” he said: because Turkey is vital for our economy, vital for our security and vital for our politics and our diplomacy. Turkey is one of the world’s fastest growing economies. A young, energetic and entrepreneurial workforce — over half the population is under 29 years old — is an integral part of the success story. Analysts predict that Turkey will be one of the world’s top ten economies by 2050. As we recover from the current economic crisis, the case for a strong bilateral partnership between Britain and Turkey has never been stronger.

This week’s State Visit to the UK by Turkey’s President, Abdullah Gul, reminds us that Turkey is a country that is developing a new role and new links for itself, within and beyond existing structures and alliances. The UK and Turkey have a strong relationship across the range of foreign policy and security issues. Over the last 18 months we have laid firm foundations for that relationship through an ambitious Strategic Partnership which prompted the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to say that relations with the UK had entered a “golden age.” Indeed they have.

Since the Partnership was signed, we have established a UK-Turkey CEO Forum, composed of around 25 of the most senior business figures from our two countries to discuss the strategic issues that will deliver profitable business for the future. This week’s State Visit provides a platform for forging deeper commercial partnerships. By the end of this year, trade is expected to reach £9 billion, representing a 40% increase since 2009. British companies concerned about falling demand for their products should extend their reach now to Turkey. Many, such as Vodafone, Diageo and Tesco are already doing so. Turkey is vital for our security: we work together as NATO allies across the world. In Afghanistan, we share the same objectives. Turkish troops and diplomacy are making vital contributions towards the creation of a more secure future, most recently with the valuable discussions at the Istanbul Conference on regional support for Afghanistan. Closer to home, in the Western Balkans we are working together to secure the gains made in the last 16 years to bring stability to the region.

Our counter-terrorism experts met in London last week to discuss how we can strengthen cooperation in countering radicalisation and tackling the scourge of PKK terrorism. Turkey also shares our concerns on immigration. We have developed a number of joint projects to stem the flow of illegal migrants entering the EU from central and southern Asia.

Turkey’s important role in the Middle East and North Africa region is clear. Many of those who have taken to the streets during the Arab Spring for a more just, representative form of government have, in Turkey, a very successful example of modern democracy in a largely Muslim country. I’m struck by the contrast between the anxiety in some quarters about the EU’s future role in the world, and the self-confident approach Turkey has taken in recent months to driving forward internationa l collaboration on issues ranging from Afghanistan to Somalia. On Syria, Turkey has played an important role, pressing the regime to stop the violence and engaging with international partners, particularly the Arab League, to intensify wider pressure on Assad.

It’s clear that the UK and our fellow Member States in the EU will have to contend with rapid change and uncertainty in our neighbourhood, across north Africa to central Asia, in the coming years. Few countries are better placed to influence events in this vital region than Turkey. We already benefit from this. My Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, is making active and astute contributions on issues at the heart of the EU’s foreign policy agenda. Since the launch of EU accession negotiations in 2005, Turkey has taken important strides towards meeting EU standards on human rights, democracy and governance. Turkey has abolished the death penalty, introduced a zero-tolerance approach to torture, improved rights for women and minority groups and, most recently, taken steps to compensate religious foundations. There is still some way to go, but the Turkish Government has committed itself to further progress through a new constitution that will meet the aspirations and demands of a modern democracy and truly represent the interests of all citizens of Turkey. And we want to encourage our Turkish friends to do even more.

And we want to send a message of a full support for energetic Turkish negotiations with the EU. It is deeply disappointing that these have been grindingly slow. If they continue with the same tempo the risk is that Turkish public opinion, traditionally in favour of entry into the EU, will turn against it and an historic opportunity will have been spurned. This is in no-one’s interest. I call on Turkey to keep its patience and determination to join the EU, and also on our EU partners to keeping working towards a goal that is in our common interests.

Economic uncertainty within the EU and political uncertainty on the continent’s southern and eastern borders should be pulling the EU and Turkey together, not pushing them apart. Turkish accession would bring fresh energy to the Single Market. Europe’s influence overseas needs the leverage that a successful democracy in a largely Muslim country would bring. Together, as I believe this week’s State Visit will demonstrate, the UK and Turkey can help chart a safe course through the current global political and economic storm.

[Reader comment by Roger Hicks on 22 November 2011 at 09:47am.]

Britain and Turkey: two countries with expanding Muslim populations who are obviously made for each other . . .

The Turks can probably teach Britain a thing or two about how to deal with recalcitrant indigenous populations, Turkey’s Kurds and Britain’s loathsome and rightly despised Whites (the only good white man/woman is one who loathes (or better s till, denies) his own race).

Obviously, the first thing Britain needs to do is reduce its white population to a minority, as the Kurds already are in Turkey. Britain is making good progress in this regard, which it will be proudly showing off to the world at the 2012 Olympics, with all the main parties firmly committed (although, for some obscure reason they don’t actually mention it in their manifestos) to putting an end to white majority rule within the next 50 years or so (… ).

[JP note: The Palmerston/Disraeli doctrine of Ottoman appeasement alive and well whatever the cost. Perhaps the Conservative Party really is as stupid as the many who think it so.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Brussels: The New Capital of Eurabia

Muslims now make up one-quarter of the population of Brussels, according to a new book published by the Catholic University of Leuven, the top French-language university in Belgium. In real terms, the number of Muslims in Brussels — where half of the number of Muslims in Belgium currently live — — has reached 300,000, which means that the self-styled “Capital of Europe” is now the most Islamic city in Europe. In practical terms, Islam mobilizes more people in Brussels than do the Roman Catholic Church, political parties or even trade unions, according to “The Iris and the Crescent,” a book that is the product of more than one year of field research and was released to the public on November 18.

The book’s author, the sociologist Felice Dassetto, predicts that Muslims will comprise the majority of the population of Brussels by 2030.

In Belgium as a whole, Muslims comprise roughly 6% of the total population, one of the highest rates in Europe. This number is expected to rise to more than 10% by 2020.

According to Dassetto, Islam is becoming increasingly visible in Brussels: there are more and more mosques and minarets, more veiled women and more Muslim organizations.

The book also warns that ultraconservative elements within Islam are increasingly gaining ground in Brussels. Of the many strands of Islam represented in Brussels, Salafism is apparently far and away the most popular. Salafism, the highly conservative pan-Islamic movement, seeks, among other objectives, to unite the Muslim world under the leadership of a single Caliph, or ruler, who would govern based on Islamic Sharia law.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Deutsche Bahn Hopes DNA Will Curb Metal Theft

Deutsche Bahn is spraying so-called “artificial DNA” on its tracks, as well as overhead wires and other metallic surfaces thieves might try to steal and sell later on the black market. According to Susanne Kufeld, a corporate security administrator for the company, several hundred kilometres of track in North Rhine-Westphalia and eastern Germany have already been marked with the substance.

The substance leaves markings on thieves’ hands and clothing that can be seen under ultraviolet light, making it easier for police to identify them when caught. It also makes metal more difficult to sell because it’s easy for buyers to determine if it’s stolen. “It makes it easier for us to recognise tools, offenders and stolen heavy metals,” said Jörg Schulz, head of the Federal Police’s Leipzig division.

As commodity prices have surged in recent years, metal thieves have become more brazen, causing Deutsche Bahn a loss of €10 million in 2010 alone. In first nine months of this year, thefts in eastern areas such as Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia more than doubled compared to the same time period last year. Nationwide, thefts have doubled, according to the Bahn.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Result Queried

Subatomic particles called neutrinos cannot move faster than the speed of light, according to a new report. The findings challenge a result reported in September that, if true, would undermine a century of physics. The team at the INFN-Gran Sasso laboratory in Italy said they had measured faster-than-light speeds in neutrinos sent from Cern, 730km away. Now a different team at the same lab reports findings that, they say, cast doubt on that surprising result.

The Icarus team at the Icarus experiment says that because the neutrinos sent from Cern do not appear to lose energy on their journey, they must not have exceeded the speed of light along the way. The idea that nothing can move faster than the speed of light is a central tenet in modern physics, forming among many other things a critical part of Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity.

Critics have suggested from the start that the experiment by the Opera collaboration, who published the first striking results, must be flawed in some way.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Ireland: Mayor Refuses to Represent Black Africans

The Mayor of Naas, Co Kildare has said he will no longer represent those of African origin in the town.

Speaking to KFM, Darren Scully said he would refer any black African seeking assistance from him to another of his council colleagues.

“I have been met with aggressiveness and bad manners,” he said.

“I have also been met with the race card, with people saying ‘Oh yeah, you will help white people, but you don’t help black people’.

“So after a while I made a decision that I was just not going to take on representations from black Africans, that I would be very courteous to them and I would pass on their query to other public representatives.

“Everything I do as a councillor is for the general good…It saddens me that people would call me a racist, because I’m not.”

In a statement released this afternoon, the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party said the views expressed by Councillor Scully do not reflect those of Fine Gael, adding that the party is ‘inclusive’ and committed to trying to build a country that caters for all.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Di Pietro Sees Fiat Statement as Goodbye to Italy

(AGI) Rome -A joint statement issued by the president of the IDV Antonio Di Pietro and the party’s Labour and Welfare director Maurizio Zipponi, states that FIAT’s annulment of all union agreements, amounts to the company effectively leaving the country. “By cancelling all trade-union agreements, FIAT is closing a circle, effectively announcing that the company is leaving Italy, using workers as the scapegoat. Employees are accused of being incapable of manufacturing innovative cars with a high added value and of selling them on the market.” ..

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

Socialist Red: After Spain Disappeared From EU Map

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS — They were the driving force behind the construction of Europe, but Socialists are now at risk of disappearing from the geopolitical map of the European Union, which has not been as lacking in red since the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957, when none of the six signatories were Socialists. Left-wing surveys show that the wind could change throughout Europe. The crisis is said to work against ruling governments. Some analysts say that this is the reason for the “pro-Europe shift” and anti-nuclear stance of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. But while market pressure has led to the advent of technocrats, by definition without political stripe, in Italy and Greece, where Berlusconi and Papandreou have been replaced by Monti and Papademos, it is the Spanish left that has experienced the electoral shift. Socialists returned to power in Denmark on September 15, with a clear victory for the Social Democrat, Helle Thorning-Schmidt in the country’s parliamentary elections. But it was a more popular triumph for Mariano Rajoy, who won an absolute majority in Madrid’s “Cortes Generales”.

As a result, 21 of the EU’s 27 member states now have centre-right governments. There are 17 European People’s Party (EPP) governments, the European party of the Franco-German Merkel-Sarkozy “directorate” (but also part of the “political family” that connects the Italian parties PDL, UDC and FLI, as well as Udeur, SVP, ALI and PID), and four liberal democrat and conservative governments. Of the countries subject to EU aid, Enda Kenny in Ireland and Pedro Passos Coelho in Portugal lead “people’s blue” executives. But the political leaders of Luxembourg, Malta, Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, Ireland, Belgium, Hungary, Slovakia, Finland, Portugal and Spain all belong to the PPE. Denmark, Borut Pahor’s Slovenia and Werner Faymann’s Austria remain Socialist. Only for Faymann is leadership (relatively) steady. Then comes Cyprus, where Dimitris Christofias succeeded in bringing a Communist party (AKEL) to government in 2008, a unique feat in Europe, 29 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

While the Socialist force now disappears from the EU map, it was its driving force for decades. The Party of European Socialists (PES) was the first party of the European Parliament from 1979 until 1999, when on June 13, the EPP won the European elections and overtook their rivals while Socialists expansion was at its apex across the continent. With Chirac’s France, Schroeder’s Germany, Blair’s Britain and D’Alema’s Italy, some 13 out of the 15 EU countries of the period were “red”. Only Spain under Aznar and Luxembourg under the “eternal” Jean-Claude Juncker (a Christian Democrat and president of the Eurogroup, who has been in power since 1995) brought a shade of blue to the map. Today, as well as the 17 EPP governments, supported further by the ruling far-right in Finland and Hungary, two countries (Netherlands and Estonia) are governed by Liberal Democrats and two others (Britain under David Cameron and the Czech Republic under Petr Necas) are in conservative hands. But four non-EU countries retain left-wing governments, with the Labour party in power in Norway, and Social Democrat governments in Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sorry Mr Gul, But Turkey Won’t be Joining the EU Any Time Soon

It’s not going to happen. That’s what everyone says who knows anything about the subject that we’re going to be hearing quite a bit about this week: Turkey’s membership of the EU. I’ve heard it from someone who works for William Hague, from a political editor, from a diplomat. Which makes this week’s state visit by the Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, on his three-day state visit to Britain seem pretty well beside the point. The British government is right behind Turkey’s bid for EU membership, no country more so. David Cameron and William Hague have if anything been even more effusive in their support than Tony Blair and Jack Straw before them — the duo who managed to ensure that Turkey became officially a candidate nation for EU membership. But get the back office boys talking and this is what they’ll tell you: France will veto it. The French have mooted the idea of a referendum on Turkey joining, which is tantamount to saying they’ll say no, by a huge ma rgin — and Germany won’t wear it. At least not while Angela Merkel’s alive. (During a visit to Croatia recently, she hinted strongly that after its accession, that would be the end of EU expansion for the time being.) So why is the British government so much in favour? And why shouldn’t it be?

To answer the first one first, favouring Turkey’s membership of the EU has an awful lot to recommend it for a government which has engaged in conflict in Islamic countries. It’s a cheap way of showing you’re pro-Islamic or, rather, pro-moderate Islam, even if you backed the US in Afghanistan. The gist of that argument, as expressed by the Prime Minister repeatedly, is that Turkey is a moderate Islamic country and we want to encourage moderate Islam as opposed to the other sort. So, you get brownie points for being positive about Muslims in Europe, which obviously plays well with your own constituency here. And that argument holds despite disturbing evidence that Turkey’s moderation in terms of Islam isn’t by any means a given, including under Mr Gul’s Islamist AKP, Justice and Development party. A poll conducted this summer by Istanbul’s Bahçeþehir university suggested that 48 per cent of Turks wouldn’t want a Christian as a neighbour; more than half wouldn’t want Jews. Added to which, there is no doubt that Turkey is strategically important; it’s a player in the Syrian conflict and has exercised real influence there recently. Its economy is growing, though before we get too excited about the growth rate of 6.6 per cent, we would do well to remember that Ireland’s was seven per cent during the boom years — which were followed by the crash.

But the argument against Turkish membership isn’t that it’s Islamic, it’s that it’s not European. Three per cent of its land mass is on the European side of the Bosphorus, which means that 97 per cent of it is geographically in Asia. That’s an awful lot of Asia getting into Europe on the back of Turkey’s European tail. And unless you’re someone like Denis MacShane, the former Europe minister, who thinks geography is neither here nor there when it comes to EU membership, that’s the decisive consideration. If you’re keen on including countries with large or majority Muslim populations in the EU, by the way, there are some bona fide states which are squarely in Europe and have a large percentage of Muslims, chiefly Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia. Get them into Europe if you like. I did raise this issue when a Turkish government delegation was at Chatham House; one woman responded that these things were fluid and Turkey could qualify by dint of its former imperial reach. By that logi c, Britain should be a member of the Arab League.

The other argument, to my mind decisive, is Turkey’s size. Just now its population is 76 million, and it could reach 97 million, according to the UN, by 2050. Just let those numbers sink in. EU membership means the citizens of member states have the right to work and live anywhere within the EU. In other words, 76 million people could gravitate anywhere they liked within the EU, including Britain, within seven years of joining. There is a Turkish community of about half a million people here, including Turkish Cypriots; naturally people gravitate towards countries where they can live with others from the same culture. The effect on Germany would be catastrophic, obviously, which doesn’t seem to worry the Brits a jot, but the influx of an unknown number of Turks here would have a profoundly destabilising effect. There’s already a petition before parliament, which got 120,000 signatures, arguing that the population shouldn’t be allowed to reach 70 million as a consequence of im migration: well you can kiss goodbye to that aspiration if you include in the EU a country potentially larger than Germany.

Of course Turkey’s a strategically and economically important country. It just doesn’t belong in the EU, which doesn’t preclude giving it something like a first-cousin status within the European Economic Area in terms of trade. But the arguments against aren’t enough to dent the extraordinary coalition behind its accession: everyone from the Telegraph to the Tablet, from Boris Johnson to Harriet Harman. What they’ve all got in common as I say, is a commitment to looking good in terms of outreach to Islam — with the honourable exception of Mr Johnson who may be influenced by his Turkish forebears. But so far as the government is concerned, they’ve got their fingers crossed behind their backs even while they’re talking loudest about really wanting Turkey in, not out. They know it’s safe to talk, because so long as there’s a chance the issue will be put to the French people, it hasn’t a prayer. Which makes, I’d say, their position that much worse: not just wrong but hypocritical .

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Croydon Sees Number of Rape Cases Rise by Almost 40 Per Cent.

Rape cases have soared by almost 40 per cent compared with this time last year figure show, while serious violent crimes on Croydon were up more than 15 per cent before the August riots.

Figures discussed at a Croydon Cabinet meeting taken from April through to mid-June showed serious violence was up 15.2 per cent compared with the period in 2010.

Coun Stuart Collins said: “In terms of crime, one of the problems is the complete lack of sport development and the diversion factor in improving young people away from being involved in crime.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Lutfur Rahman Ally in Court Over Election ‘Smears’

A man called Shah Yousuf appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday, facing two criminal charges over an edition of his now defunct “newspaper,” London Bangla, which was published in Tower Hamlets the week before last year’s Mayoral election. The election was between the Labour candidate, Helal Abbas, and Lutfur Rahman, a man expelled from Labour for his links with an Islamic extremist group, the IFE. Over eleven pages of the London Bangla, Abbas was eviscerated as racist, corrupt and an enemy of Islam, a man who practised “Grand Theft Auto politics,” had perpetrated an “obnoxious…slander” against the imam of Mecca, had “initiated a physical attack” on his political rivals and was a “wife-beater.”

Lutfur, meanwhile, was described, apparently without irony, as the candidate of “honesty, courage and truth.” In another article, a leading IFE activist, Abjol Miah, described him as someone who would “stand up for the poor, the weak and the vulnerable.” A week after this hit the streets, Lutfur was elected mayor. Yousuf is now in the dock on two charges under the Representation of the People Act, namely that he “did publish a false statement before an election in relation to the personal character and conduct of Helal Abbas…for the purpose of affecting the return of [another] candidate” and that he failed to include a printer’s imprint. These are criminal offences. Yousuf has pleaded not guilty and the case will come to trial in April.

This could be extremely awkward for Lutfur. The chief coordinator of his election campaign, Bodrul Islam, has stated that the London Bangla was “embedded with the mayor’s camp.How do I know this, I was campaigning with them. I am willing to give names and witnesses if there are disputes. The infamous wife-beating report of Abbas was known to the mayor’s camp, which included me, one week in advance.” Will Lutfur be called as a witness in the case? Should he also be charged? Incidentally, four months after the election Lutfur, apparently unbothered about the allegations hanging over Yousuf, handed the London Bangla almost £1000 of taxpayers’ money. And since London Bangla folded under the pressure of events, Lutfur’s council has been promoting its successor, the East End News — also edited by Yousuf, and also with a rather strange editorial agenda. Its lead story concerned an alleged epidemic of dogging — no, make that potential dogging — in a local park. This delightful publication was distrib uted from a stand in the Tower Hamlets Town Hall foyer.

The London Bangla is normally printed in small quantities and handed out at mosques. But for the election issue, tens of thousands of copies were printed and then distributed door-to-door throughout the borough. Who paid for that, I wonder?

Let’s hope the court case answers those questions. And as Ted Jeory has pointed out, it could be awkward for that other man of honesty, courage and truth, Ken Livingstone, too. Ken campaigned for Luftur, against Labour — after the smears had emerged — and has been doing his utmost to have Lutfur readmitted to the Labour Party, despite the slow-motion car crash his mayoralty has become. Ken, too, has benefited from the help of the IFE. The trial will come just a month before Ken faces his own re-election bid as mayor of London.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: MCB Holds Inspiring Eid Reception in Whitehall

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) held a reception on 16th November 2011 to mark the Muslim festival of Eid and the conclusion of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Guests comprising of community leaders, Imams, members of London’s diplomatic community, interfaith leaders, businessmen and leaders from civil society and the academic world all gathered at 61 Whitehall for an engaging event.

MCB Secretary General Farooq Murad in his welcome said the messages of Eid and Hajj are inspirational and relevant for us today. Qualities of self-discipline and sacrifice enable and guide us to live proactively for our cherished values of justice, fairness and compassion. They provide inspiration for us at MCB to work for dialogue, mutual respect and common good. He was followed by the Rt Hon Sadiq Khan MP, Shadow Lor d Chancellor, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, who commended the MCB spirit of ‘working for the common good’ of society as a whole and also noted the particular challenge facing the community in this period of economic crisis and mounting unemployment — a large number of the unemployed were young, while a significant proportion of Muslims were under 25. Former MCB Secretary General Sir Iqbal Sacranie welcomed the returning pilgrims and noted the importance of retaining an official British Hajj Delegation to provide advice and support to British citizens during their stay in Saudi Arabia. He highlighted the work MCB had done to initiate this idea. Dr Shuja Shafi, deputy Secretary General of the MCB provided a briefing on the services to the community that had been provided by the MCB working with a range of partners to facilitate meningococcal (ACWY) vaccination clinics convenient to pilgrims and reduce the overall cost of this vaccination for pilgrims travelling for Ha jj and Umrah.

Guests included the High Commissioner for Pakistan and senior diplomats from Brunei, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Libya, Morocco and the USA. Distinguished interfaith leaders present included Brij Mohan Gupta (President, National Council of Hindu Temples), Professor Dr David Katz (Board of Deputies of the British Jews), Ramesh Pattni (Chair , Interfaith Committee of the Hindu Forum of Britain), and Philip Rosenberg (London Faith Forum). Baroness Meral-Hussein Ece (Commissioner , Equality and Human Rights Commission) and Professor Maleiha Malik (Kings College London) also attended.

Final words of the evening were from Maulana Shahid Raza, a senior religious leader of the Muslim community and chair of the Mosques & Imams Advisory Board, of which the MCB is a founding member. He reminded the audience of the Abrahamic message that values family ties and hospitality. He also noted his own feeling of ‘ownership’ for the MCB and commended its efforts to bring together diverse Muslim organisations under one umbrella: “My greetings and thanks goes to those who have organised this wonderful evening for all — Eid Mubarak”.

The evening was sponsored by The Co-operative Pharmacy, which has worked with the MCB in administering vaccinations for Hajj pilgrims.

[JP note: It would be good to see the British Freedom party boycott companies such as The Co-operative Pharmacy which sponsor events by extremist and socially-divisive organisations working against the common good.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Three Asian Peers Given Lengthy Bans From Parliament After Wrongly Claiming Almost £200,000 in Expenses Are at the Centre of an Extraordinary Legal Battle Over Whether They Were Targeted Because of Their Race.

The sanctions against Lady Uddin, Lord Paul, and Lord Bhatia were the most draconian against misbehaving peers in 300 years.

But now Labour peer Lord Ali has hired leading human rights lawyer Imran Khan to review the damning judgment on the peers by the Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee.

He said: ‘Something is not right about the way these three peers were treated. There were at least 12 members of the House of Lords who were accused of abusing their second home allowances. Yet only these three were singled out to be disciplined. Look at them.

‘All three are Asian. It does not look right. This process was flawed. At one point, when Lady Uddin was before the sub-committee she was reduced to tears by the questioning.

‘She excused herself, and went to the lavatory, but within three minutes they were bashing on the door demanding she come out.’

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


Bosnia: Eight Muslims Arrested for Crimes Against Serbs and Croats

Sarajevo, 22 Nov (AKI) — Eight Bosnian Muslims were arrested on Tuesday and charged with crimes against Serbs and Croats allegedly committed during Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war, state prosecutor’s office said.

Mustafa Djelilovic, Fadil Covic, Mirsad Sabic, Nezir Kazic, Becir Hujic, Halid Covic, Serif Mesanovic and Nermin Kalember are suspected of having committed war crimes against Serb and Croat civilians and war prisoners in three detention camps near Bosnian capital Sarajevo, the prosecution said.

According to the indictment, a great number of civilians and war prisoners were illegally detained and subject to “inhuman treatment, torture and forced labour” and were deprived the right to just trial.

The United Nations War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has indicted 161 individuals, mostly Serbs, for crimes allegedly committed in the war that followed the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

More than sixty have been sentenced to over one thousand years in jail. As the tribunal is planning to end work by 2014, the remaining cases have been turned over to local courts.

Serbian and Croatian authorities have complained that Bosnian courts have been prosecuting mostly Serbs and Croats, while sparing majority Muslims.

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

Kosovo Serbs Apply En Masse for Russian Citizenship

Thousands of Kosovo Serbs have applied for Russian citizenship. This has raised eyebrows in the Russian parliament in particular, but their chances of being granted Russian citizenship remain unclear.

In his blog last Friday, the chairman of the Russian parliament’s standing committee on foreign affairs, Konstantin Kossatchov, described it as “a key development in the history of Europe.” The Russian foreign ministry has confirmed that thousands of Kosovo Serbs have applied for Russian citizenship. The reason: They fear for their safety. The word out of Moscow was that the applications were being “checked carefully.”

Kossatchov doesn’t believe that these Kosovo Serbs actually want to emigrate to Russia. He sees it as “a political action,” as a cry for help from “desperate people, who have been left in the lurch by the local authorities, Belgrade and Brussels.” Kossatchov sees this as confirmation that Russia’s position on the Kosovo question was the right one. Moscow strongly criticized Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence in 2008 and still has not recognized it as an independent state.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Arab Spring? This is Turning Into the Winter of Islamic Jihad

The Arab Spring is rapidly turning into a winter of chaos and oppression. As protests grip the Egyptian capital of Cairo, and Islamic fundamentalists gain in confidence there and elsewhere across the region, the hopes of Western leaders for a new era of democracy across the Middle East have been exposed as hopelessly naïve. For far from paving the way for freedom and pluralism, the uprisings have led only to more intolerance, authoritarianism and division. The sense of darkening crisis in Egypt this week is a disturbing example of this trend.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Battered by Protests, Egypt’s Military Promises to Speed Transition to Civilian Rule

The ruling military council in Egypt agreed on Tuesday to name a new civilian cabinet, led by a “technocrat” prime minister rather than a politician, and to speed up the transition to civilian rule, with a new constitution and a presidential election no later than June 2012, rather than on an open-ended timetable stretching into 2013 or later.

The agreement came after the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces met with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups in a session that was boycotted by most other political parties. Under the agreement, the first round of elections for a national assembly is to go ahead as scheduled on Monday, a major goal of the brotherhood, which stands to win a large share of the seats.

The deal may prove popular among the public, where concern for a return to stability runs high. But it is unlikely to satisfy the huge crowds of protestors who have gathered in Tahrir Square for days, demanding that the military council immediately surrender more of its power to a new civilian government. It leaves the civilian government reporting to the military — effectively a continuation of what amounts to martial law in civilian clothes — until June.

[Return to headlines]

Libyan NTC Appoints Transitional Govt’s Main Ministers

(AGI) Tripoli — Libya’s NTC has appointed the transitional government’s main ministers. According to an NTC spokesman, the Abdel Rahim a-Kib government will feature Zintan military leader Osama Al-Juwali as defence minister, Cyrenaica diplomat Ashour bin Hayal as foreign minister, Hassan Ziglam as finance minister, and former ENI manager Abdulrahman Ben Yazza as oil minister.

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

Protesters Call for Mass Rally as Egypt’s Cabinet Offers Resignation

With dozens dead in clashes with police — and just one week until elections — Egypt’s military-appointed civilian government has offered to resign. Protesters say it’s not enough and have called for a mass rally.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Secret Video Shows Egyptian Police, Security Staging Attack on Copts

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — Millions of people world-wide have seen videos of Egyptian Army trucks chasing and crushing Christian protesters under their wheels during the events of the Maspero Massacre on October 9, which claimed the lives of 27 and injured 329 Christians (AINA 10-10-2011).

The ruling military council has denied that military forces used live ammunition against the Maspero protesters, or that personnel intentionally used armored vehicles to run over civilians. After blaming the Copts for using firearms, they later changed their story and put the blame on “unidentified” civilians who infiltrated the demonstrations, targeting both the peaceful protesters and the military police to cause a rift between the military council and the people. In all of its statements the military has cleared the army of any wrong-doings.

Evidence during the Maspero Massacre have now emerged which exposes the military police and state central security of committing other grave abuses against the Copts. “These are war crimes,” says Dr. Emad Gad, a scholar at Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies, “and Field Marshal Tantawi is responsible for it. He who issued this order should be prosecuted.”

Video evidence has emerged proving that the so-called “unidentified” civilian element, or “thugs” as they are sometimes called and who are increasingly implicated in crimes by the authorities to shift the blame away from themselves, worked together with the military police and central security during the Maspero massacre. Although the assailants in the footage were careful not to be caught on camera, Muslim activist Galal Mohannad was on his way to Maspero when he stumbled on the evidence and secretly taped it on his phone, risking his life in the process. He passed through this road with its inspection points because he is a Muslim. On YouTube he titled it “Bloody Sunday, thugs, police and army — one hand.”

Coptic activist Mark Ebeid said that “thugs are either security personnel in civilian clothes, or ex-prisoners on the security and police’s list of dangerous criminals and they hire them to kill or do any dirty work for them, or radical Muslims, who are only to eager to oblige the police and satisfy their desire to kill Christians.”

Renowned TV commentator Bilal Fadl of the independent Tahrir TV aired this footage of how the thugs were intercepting Copts in the streets and how on orders of the security they even went into the Hilton hotel and dragged Copts out. He also commented on how they were waiting for the Coptic demonstrators to arrive to attack them (video).

Details of another Maspero incident were given in an article written by well-known journalist and TV personality Yosry Foda. The article was titled the “Egyptian Schindler,” an analogy of the German businessman Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. According to a Muslim owner of a company based in Maspero at the site of the Coptic massacre, he struggled to walk past the wounded, the dead and the human remains that filled the entrance of the company’s building and the narrow corridor leading to the stairs.. When he went up to his office, he saw the look of horror among the workers and on the faces of some forty Copts, including a priest, who had sought shelter there.. The staff told him of how the military police, armed with machine guns, broke into the company’s headquarters in search of Copts. The Christians were hidden in the restrooms. Some Muslim employees in the company gave their ID cards to the Christians to hide their true identity.

The man and his staff spent the first night guarding the Copts who were hidden in the restrooms. From time to time the military police came for a surprise inspection, sometimes alone and sometimes accompanied by people in plain clothes.

The man periodically visited the Copts and provided them with food and drink. They began to formulate a plan to sneak out of the building using the rear entrance, in twos and threes, and a cover story should they be stopped in the street. Some Christians agreed to say they were on their way to early morning prayers at the mosque. This continued for about forty-eight hours, during which the man succeeded in secretly bringing out all Copts safely except the pastor. Despite repeated attempts the pastor refused to change his religious attire..

After describing this incident in his article, Fouda addressed the ruling the Supreme Council of the armed forces: “tell us that members of the military police have lost their nerve amid the chaos and committed a mistake. Tell us, when they ran over their brothers, they did not believe that this is ‘halal’ [lawful]. Tell us that the heirs of the state security when they looked at the religion on the ID they were deceived, misguided, corrupt. You simply must tell us you made a mistake, this is more honorable for you, us and the whole country.”

The military police stormed the Maspero headquarters of the independent News Channel 25 and Al-Hurra TV, which were airing the clashes live and were forced off air (video showing the storming of both stations). The military police told the staff they were looking for Copts, which is evident in this footage.

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

Middle East

An Ultimatum: Arab League Fed Up With Syrian Violence

Eight months after the deadly uprising began in Syria, the country seems to be reaching a turning point. The Arab League, previously an obstacle to change, is now pushing for an end to the Assad regime. The Emir of Qatar is spearheading the movement.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Arab Spring: Europe Calls for Safeguard of Christians

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, NOVEMBER 22 — Eight hundred thousand refugees from Iraq in the wake of the violence following the downfall of Saddam Hussein, dozens of victims among the Copt demonstrators in Egypt following the ousting of president Mubarak. Christians are paying a heavy price under the turbulence that is shaking the Arab world, where there is a risk of nurturing a climate in which Islamic fundamentalism will thrive. This risk has been the subject of a discussion during a conference held in Beirut between Euro-MPs and representatives of the Eastern Churches, which has been promoted by the Euro-Parliament and the Episcopal Conference of European Bishops.

From Italy’s Democratic Party, and Deputy Speaker of the Euro-Parliament, Gianni Pittella warned how “Freedom of worship and of thought is the foundation of all freedoms and it is a value that has to be recognised if we are not to run the risk that the Arab Spring leads to a winter in which dictatorships are replaced by religious despotism”.

Mr Pittella was among a grop of Italian Euro-MPs present at the meeting: alongside him was Mario Mauro, head of the PDL group within Europe’s PPE. Together, Mssrs Pittella and Mauro are founders of Meseuro, a centre for foundations linked to the South Coastal area of the Mediterranean.

In Mr Mauro’s view, “The real problem today is that in many countries of the Middle East, there is the tendency to identify Christians as Westerners, as being apart from local culture.

This conception is utterly false, as these communities are deeply rooted in their countries: it is a conception that is deliberately being promoted by a certain kind of Islamic fundamentalist. Striking at the Christian communities means hitting out at civil co-habitation itself”.

The most dramatic case is represented by Iraq. In this country, which numbered 1.5 million Christians at the time of the Saddam Hussein regime, where the Deputy Prime Minister, Tareq Aziz, was a Christian, violence against this community has reached ‘man-hunt’ levels,”Mr Mauro declared. On October 31 2010, an attack on the Cyriac Catholic cathedral in Baghdad, attributed to Al Qaeda, killed 46 people. But, as Mr Mauro underlined, “Very few people are aware of how in the days after the attack, those who had survived were hunted down in their own homes, or that in some areas such as Kirkuk or Mosul, the kidnapping, torturing and killing of Christians are commonplace. Images of these atrocities are filmed and shown to victims’ families to terrorise them an persuade them to leave”.

So it is no surprise that there is widespread concern among the Christians of Syria, who comprise 5% of the population and many of whom have fled from Iraq. There is the worry that a turn to fundamentalism could occur following the overthrow of the secular regime of President Bashar al Assad.

The Patriarch of the Maronite Catholics of Lebanon, Bechara Rai, recently gave voice to these fears. Mr Pittella continued: “We are extremely concerned about Syria”. However, fears about an unclear future do not lead to requests that dictatorships be protected against the Arab Spring. Rather, there is a call for safeguarding of the Christian minorities, and in general for a respecting of “religious freedom” which should apply to all creeds and which the Euro-Parliament itself has defined in one of its Resolutions as “the foundation of all other freedoms”.

‘As Mr Mauro pointed out ‘A crucial point for assessing the direction things are taking will be the discussions about what kind of constitutions should be approved in Tunisia and in Egypt”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

EU to Slap Sanctions on 200 Iranian Firms, People: Diplomats

The European Union is eyeing sanctions on some 200 Iranian firms and individuals as Western nations tighten the screws on Tehran over its contested nuclear programme, diplomatic sources said Tuesday. “More than 200 names are to be added to a list” of Iranians already targeted by a visa ban and businesses facing an asset freeze which would be announced by EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on December 1, the sources said.

One EU diplomat said members of the 27-nation bloc were also debating whether to also target “new areas and industry sectors”, which could include oil, but that no decision had been taken as yet. One target could be the Tejarat Bank, one of the remaining channels of payment in Europe, which has subsidiaries in Britain, Germany and France as wekk as in China, the Emirated and Tajikistan.

Asked whether EU nations were split over such options, the source said “they are not divided over sanctions on entities and individuals.” The discussions take place as the United States, Britain and Canada this week slapped new sanctions on Iran because of a report by the UN atomic energy watchdog strongly suggesting Tehran was researching nuclear weapons.

The sanctions pressure Iran’s financial sector, with the United States and Britain invoking anti-terrorist laws to target Iran’s central bank and other financial institutions. Canada is halting “virtually all transactions” with the Islamic republic while France has said it too was “in favour of new unprecedented sanctions” and called for an embargo against Iran’s most vital export: oil.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Free Press on Trial in EU Aspirant Turkey

The trial of 11 journalists — including Turkey’s “last investigative reporter” — begins on Tuesday (22 November) in a country which says it wants to join the EU. Nedim Sener, Ahmet Sik and nine other journalists will face the court after spending six months in pre-trial detention on charges they support Ergenekon — an alleged conspiracy against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan named after a fairy tale palace.

If convicted, they will join the 63 newspaper men and women who are already in prison or the 50 journalists who live under threat of prison due to suspended sentences. The trial comes one month after Turkey arrested Ragip Zarakolu, an eminent intellectual and free speech campaigner, on charges that he collaborates with an illegal Kurdish movement, the KCK. It also comes the same day the government launches a Chinese-style Internet filter designed to block access to thousands of websites containing pornography or Kurdish “separatist propaganda.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iran: Qur’anic Curtsey in Interfaith Dialogue

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — Iranian academic figure referred to the features of a Qur’anic curtsey in dialogue and warned against widespread Islamophobia and cultural confrontations against Muslim sanctities. Hojjt-ol-Islam Seyyed Abolhassan Navvab, Iranian cleric and head of Religions and Denominations University of Qom explained the status of morality and Qur’anic Curtsey in Interfaith Dialogue and warned against the efforts of Western countries to wage cultural confrontations against Islamic sanctities. Attending Muslim-Christianity interfaith dialogue participated by elites from Iran and Kuwait, Iranian cleric said, “Once Qur’an is recognized as a divine book by all religions and if we base Qur’anic principles in didalogue, many of problems in would be solved.”

“Qur’anic curtsey recommends us not to suppose ourselves in a higher or even balanced position as others in a dialogue,” said hojjat-ol-Islam Navvab and added called for maintaining Qur’anic curtsey features for an interfaith dialogue. He referred to verses of Qur’an and said, “Qur’an interdicts us to talk without proof and I think that is the same about holy Bible.” He expressed regret over cultural crusade against the Prophet of Islam and Islamic sanctities in Western countries and said that it is a mission for the scientific and religious elites to stop such vulgar moves. This religious figure also referred to the high status of Jesus Christ (AS) and Mary (AS) in Islam and among Iranian Muslims and said, “There has been no disrespect towards a Prophet and that is due to our Qur’anic curtsey Iranians grow up with,” calling for moves to stop a new cultural war.

Dr Zahir al-Mahmid, Director General of Kuwait Islam-Christianity Council in this meeting praised Iran’s proposal for “Dialogue among Civi lizations” back in 2001 as the beginning point for various interfaith dialogues in different countries. He hailed the status of peace in Islamic and Christian teachings and said both Islam and Christianity are common in their respect of peace and it is the duty of the followers in both religions to support the oppressed nations like Palestinians. He proposed some practical measures for Islam-Christianity dialogue including foundation of an Islam-Christianity Cooperation Council. The first summit on interfaith dialogue between Islamic Republic of Iran and Kuwait was held in the Organization of Culture and Islamic Communications headquarter in the Iranian capital Tehran.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Italy Supports US Sanctions on Iran, EU to Follow

(AGI) Rome — “Italy supports with full conviction the plan for economic sanctions on Iran announced by the US administration”, Italy’s new Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said today at the G8-BMENA ministerial meeting in Kuwait City. Terzi added:”The sanctions are not against the Iranian people. Their aim is to lead the authorities in Teheran into a form of effective collaboration with the IAEA to clear any doubts over the true nature of their nuclear programme.” .

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

Qatar Opens Doors to Pork

(ANSA) — DOHA, NOVEMBER 22 — Qatar has legalised pork sales in the Emirate, Doha news reports today. An employee working for the Qatar Distribution Company has said that sales of pork products started a few days ago, but that the local press had not paid much attention to the fact. Qatar is a conservative Muslim country that strictly limits alcohol sales and has so far always banned pork from the country, because both are forbidden by Koranic law. The Qatar Distribution Company is the only shop to sell pork in Doha, already selling alcoholic beverages for personal use to non-Muslim foreigners holding a license, which is issued only to foreigners who earn more than a certain minimum wage. Citizens of Qatar have started a discussion on the issue on the website ‘Qatar Living’. “Really? What is next? The legalisation of abortion in Qatar?”, one person comments on the website. “They should not sell it, it only brings more foreigners to Qatar,” another person writes. Despite the disagreement of the local community, the shop is reported to be crowded by foreigners in Doha, who represent more than 80% of the country’s inhabitants. “Eight sausages cost 28 riyals, that is expensive, but it least it is for sale. I think everything will be sold out tomorrow, everyone is buying!” another comment made on Qatar Living reads.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Western Powers Serve Up Fresh Sanctions Against Iran

The United States, Britain, Canada and France have turned up the heat on Iran over allegations it tested nuclear warhead designs. But Russia has condemned the move.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Yemen: ‘Dozens Killed’ During Assault on Govt Barracks

Sanaa, 21 Nov. (AKI) — Dozens of people were killed Monday during an anti-government assault on a Republican Guard barracks north of the capital Sanaa, a local government official told news agency Xinhua.

The head of the Republican Guard brigade in Nahm, 70 kilometers north of the capital, was able to escape but militants captured dozens of soldiers, the report said.

The government forces’ warplanes were carrying out intense raids on the occupied barracks, while the tribal militiamen responded with anti-air weapons they seized from the base, the source told Xinhua.

About 400 soldiers were seized by the tribesmen, who also took over the weapons at the site in Arhab, Yemeni news website Mareb Press reported.

Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh has is combatting a separatist movement, Al-Qaeda militants and an anti-government protest movement that started in January.

Nehm has seen periodic battles between restive tribes and government forces.

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


Fiat to Entrust Distribution in Russia to Chrysler

(AGI) Moscow — After the failure of its partnership with Sollers, FIAT is looking to Chrysler for distribution in Russia, according to the economic daily newspaper RBC Daily.

The newspaper reported that as from January, FIAT will entrust to its local Chrysler subsidiary, Chrysler Rus, the sale of its light vehicles and vans. In September FIAT had announced the group intended to reorganize its network of 107 dealerships in Russia and sell is own cars without using the Russian company Sollers that in February declined a joint venture with FIAT .

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

Russian Patriarch Awarded Order of Sheikh ul-Islam

The chairman of the Caucasus Muslims’ Department, Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazade, has attended the Russian patriarch’s birthday celebrations.

On behalf of the Muslims of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus, the sheikh awarded Patriarch Kirill the Order of the Sheikh ul-Islam for his personal contribution to the development of interreligious and interethnic dialogue, the strengthening of cultural ties in the CIS and worldwide, cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Caucasus Muslims Department and the deepening of friendly relations between the peoples of Russia and Azerbaijan. The sheikh had a one-to-one meeting with the patriarch and another meeting involving the two sides’ delegations. Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Russia, Polad Bulbuloglu, read a letter of congratulations to the patriarch on his 65th birthday from Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Patriarch Kirill thanked the Azerbaijani leader for the birthday wishes. The patriarch noted that Ilham Aliyev always gave priority to religious issues: “I am pleased with this development of the existing fraternal relations between the two countries,” he said.< BR>

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Christian Leaders for the Release of Kashmiri Pastor Arrested for Forced Conversions

Rev. Channa Mani Khanna is in prison for having baptized seven Muslims. Sajan K George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC): “We must stop the Talibanisation of the only Indian state with a Muslim majority.” Anglican Bishop P.K. Samantha Roy, of the Diocese of Amritsar, “he officiated valid baptisms, he has not done anything illegal.”

Srinagal (AsiaNews) — “The Rev. CM Khanna and seven Muslim converts to Christianity were exercising their constitutional rights to religious freedom and freedom of choice, they have done nothing illegal. “ So says Sajan K George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), commenting on the arrest of Channa Mani Khanna, Anglican pastor of All Saints Church in Kashmir, accused by the Grand Mufti of the region of having forced the conversion of young Muslims in exchange for money. For the Anglican bishop P.K. Samantha Roy, of the Diocese of Amritsar, “the way the police have arrested the pastor is humiliating. Rev. Khanna has never acted in secret. We ask the government of Kashmir for justice. The Anglican Church will seek a legal redress for our innocent pastor. “

A few days before his arrest, on 19 November, the Grand Mufti Bashir-ud-Din had called the Rev. Khanna before a sharia court, to answer charges of forced conversion. On 17 November, the Grand Mufti had then written a letter to the pastor, in which he stated: “Having failed in what I had asked, we will be forced to take action under Shari’a.” In addition to Rev. Khanna, the police also arrested the seven Muslim that he baptized, beating them to obtain a confession against the pastor.

Msgr. Roy said he had discussed what happened in the Islamic court with the pastor: “The interrogation went on for four hours. When we spoke, the Reverend was serene and calm, not afraid because he was sure of his innocence and that he had not committed any violation of canon law or civil law. The baptisms he officiated are valid. “

“The request to appear before a Shariah court — said Sajan George — is alarming. We must stop the Talibanisation of the only Indian state with a Muslim majority. India is a secular country with a secular constitution, which states without exception, and demands respect for the principles of equality among citizens of the republic. “

The state of Kashmir has no anti-conversion laws: the police arrested the pastor according to art. 153A (people who promote disharmony, enmity or hatred based on religion, race, residence, language or caste) and 295A (people who offend the religious feelings of any class, with deliberate and malicious acts).

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

Indonesia: Saudis Ship Back Remains of Migrant Worker

Jakarta 21 November(AKI/Jakarta Post) — The government of Saudi Arabia has repatriated the remains of another Indonesian migrant worker back home to Sukabumi, West Java, after months of unclear delays.

The worker, Lina Kurniawati, was reported to have died earlier this year.

“We barely had a chance to communicate with her while she was alive. Now we have to live with the fact that she will be no longer with us anymore,” Udin, Lina’s father, said on Sunday.

Lina was last reported to have worked for a family in Al-Ghasim for two years. However, the family rarely granted her permission to communicate with her own family during that time.

Lina’s family were given Rp 75 million, or around 6,200 euros, in compensation for the loss.

Lina’s death adds to a long list of Indonesian migrant workers who have died abroad for various reasons.

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

Intolerance Grows in the Maldives

By Sudha Ramachandran

BANGALORE — The rising tide of religious intolerance in the Maldives is threatening the country’s young democracy.

Monuments donated by Pakistan and Sri Lanka were vandalized last week as they were seen to be “idolatrous” and “irreligious”.

Member-countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) donated monuments to mark the just-concluded 17th summit of the regional grouping that the Maldives hosted.

The monument gifted by Pakistan consisted of an image of its founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, and also featured figures, some of them drawn from seals belonging to the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. Historians have argued that these figures of animals and human beings point to early religion. The Sri Lankan monument was of a lion, the country’s national symbol.

On the eve of the unveiling of the Pakistan monument, a mob reportedly led by the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), the party of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, toppled the bust of Jinnah. A day later, the monument was set ablaze and the bust stolen. The Sri Lankan monument was found doused in oil with the face of the lion cut off…

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

Pak Blocks ‘Christ’ From SMSs, To Review Decision

Mangalore: The Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA), which had included ‘Jesus Christ’ in the list of words banned in SMSs “in the interest of the glory of Islam” , has agreed to review the decision after Mumbai-based Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) mailed in its objection. The PTA, under a 1996 law that prevents sending “false, fabricated, indecent or obscene” information through the telecom system, had directed cellphone companies to block the “offending” words. In a Nov 14 letter, PTA director general (services) Muhammad Talib Doger states that free speech can be restricted in the interest of Islam.

CSF’s general secretary Joseph Dias told TOI the Forum wrote to the Pakistani ambassador in India as well as to the US and international human rights organizations with its objections . “Christians in Pakistan cannot protest. We, as their brethren, did this,” Dias said. He said the ban raised concerns about basic freedoms like freedom of expression and religion in Pakistan. “If such an action was taken by a non-Islamic or secular nation, singularly naming a God of any other faith, there would have been a furore.” The CSF, in emails to the PTA chairman and the Pakistani communications minister , asked for the exclusion of ‘Jesus Christ’ from the list of banned words, calling it a violation of a basic human right. The PTA responded, saying the list was “tentative and under review” . A communication to Dias from Ahmed Shamim Pirzada, director (consumer protection directorate), PTA, states: “The list forwarded to Cellular Mobile Telephony Operators (CMTOs) is t entative and under review. PTA has asked CMTOs for their suggestions as well. Your point is considered and rectified in the revised list.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Police Force to be Sensitized on Gender Lines for Better Output: Fehmida

Islamabad-Gender friendly approach is essential to collectively address the rising trends of extremism, bigatory and police force must be sensitized on gender lines for better efficiency of overall law enforcing mechanism. It was stated by Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza here on Monday at the inaugural ceremony of 2nd International Islamic Women Police conference. German Ambassador Dr Michael Koch, Director General National Police Bureau (NPB) Dr Waseem Kausar, Heinrich Jurgen Schilling Country Director GIZ (German Agency for International Cooperation) & Dr Khola Iram Principal Advisor Gender Responsive Policing (GRP) Project GIZ were also present on the occasion. International delegates from more than 15 countries, officials from different embassies , government officials, UN & other International Organization’s representatives, women police officers from more than 10 Islamic countries have also come to participate in this four-day conference.

Speaker NA Dr Fehmida Mirza said that role of women in peace-building and security can not be overemphasized. United Nations, he said, had launched global efforts since August 2009 to recruit more female police officers into national police services, setting a goal of 20 per cent by 2014. The Muslim World, naturally can not remain oblivious to all such developments and our societies are in the dire need of such reforms, she said adding that gender-friendly approach is also essential to collectively address the rising trend of extremism and bigatory in our respective countries.

Speaker NA said Islam does not believe in segregating people but calls for their integration with also stress on the message of harmony, women freedom to work for the benefit of human society and expects form every righteous man and women to establish a just order in Allah’s land to ensure peace and prosperity. She said that Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto embarked upon the idea of setting up independent Women Police Stations across Pakistan during her second stint as Prime Minister in 1994. As a true leader, she knew it well that the ideals of women’s empowerment would but remain a mere dream if they were not provided with a viable mechanism for women’s security and safety through guaranteed access to speedy justice. She also stressed to sensitize police force on gender lines for better efficiency and greater output of overall law enforcing mechanism in Pakistan.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Australia: Feisty Author to Change Face of Islam

AN enthusiastic crowd visited Berkelouw Books at Dee Why today for the appearance of Arwa El Masri. She was speaking about her debut book Tea With Arwa and was joined at event by her famous rugby league husband Hazem. Berkelouw’s Louise Hislop said the event was organised in an attempt to break down barriers between the Muslim and Australian cultures. She described the presentation as clear and full of humour. “A young, intelligent, fiesty woman is needed to change the face of Islam in Australia,” she said. Mrs Hislop said Arwa started by talking about coming to Manly as a child for days at the beach. “This led into talking about swimming with the veil,” Mrs Hislop said. One of the ticket holders was North Curl Curl’s Robyn Latimer, who is married to an Arab-Australian. “I could relate to the stories she told about people’s prejudice,” she said. “People fear what they don’t know.”

[JP note: People also fear what they do know.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

New Zealand: History Made: Louis Farrakhan, Detroit

Te Kupu and Upper Hutt Posse travelled to Detroit in October 1990 at the invitation of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.

I first heard of Nation of Islam when I read the autobiography of Malcolm X back in 1983, although I had a memory from Muhammad Ali fights and him being around these guys in black suits — but “Black Muslims” was more the terminology then. I grew up in Upper Hutt and there was a lot of racism there, and to hear the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X speak so forcefully and say, ‘The white man’s the devil’ and all this shit, it’s like, wow. The connection was their struggle against an oppressive system that is, to this day, race-based. In 1985, I saw a Foreign Correspondent programme, and it had Louis Farrakhan speaking on there, and I was like, ‘Hah!’ He was speaking to a massive audience at Madison Square Garden, and I thought, ‘Wow — the Black Muslims are going strong’.

After that, Public Enemy came out and talked about Farrakhan, and I thought, ‘Oh right — it’s all hooked in there’. When people heard Public Enemy talk about the Nation of Islam, it was like, ‘Who’s Farrakhan?’ In 1990, Rasul Muhammad, a son of the founder of the Nation of Islam Elijah Muhammad, visited here to get amongst Maori people. The Posse did a gig at The Gluepot, and Rasul saw us perform there. He came backstage and said, ‘I want you to come to Detroit and share your music, meet Louis Farrakhan and just get it on with the Nation of Islam — will you come?’, and I was just like, ‘Yeah — we’re coming!’

We did another gig at The Gluepot and Hinewehi Mohi and Moana and the Moahunters supported us and played for free, and Willie Jackson became our tour manager for the trip.

We were scheduled to play a gig on Saviour’s Day, which is an event the Nation of Islam has. We performed, but the main event was Farrakhan speaking. The news media said there were 20,000 people there, so this was a very big, important movement that was going on among black people in the USA, but no one hears about it. It was just wonderful to be there, especially as guests of the Nation of Islam. Flava Flav performed and so did Doug E. Fresh, and we got up there and did our set. It was cool to be in Detroit in that day and age — we were definitely the first rap group out of here to perform in somewhere like Detroit.

What: Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, Flava Flav, Doug E. Fresh and Upper Hutt Posse perform at the 60th anniversary of The Nation of Islam

Where: Cobo Conference/Exhibition Center, Joe Louis Arena in Detroit

When: Saviours’ Day, October 1990

*Upper Hutt Posse’s new album Declaration of Resistance is out now on Kia Kaha.

Upper Hutt Posse Declaration of Resistance Tour

Friday 25 November — Woody’s Bar, Auckland

Saturday 26 November — Khuja Lounge, Auckland

Friday 2 December — The Delta, Ngaruawahia

Saturday 3 December — The Commercial Hotel, Whakatane

Friday 9 December — Old Skool Bar, Palmerston North

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Chinese Medicine Driving Rhinos to Extinction

Biologists and game park officials in South Africa say that rhinos are being slaughtered at the rate of one each day, and that most of these animals are killed to feed a demand for traditional Chinese medicines and cures.

It’s not just rhinos that face this threat. Throughout Asia, the penises, claws and bones of various animals — including tigers, rhinos, and bears — are sold in folk medicine shops to cure everything from arthritis to asthma, impotence to cancer. Some people believe that tiger bones and claws can cure a variety of maladies, including back pain, arthritis and fatigue.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Italy: Napolitano Urges Citizenship for Children of Immigrants

‘Denying it is true folly,’ president says

(ANSA) — Rome, November 22 — Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Tuesday reiterated a call for reforms of the country’s citizenship law to grant citizenship to children born in Italy of immigrant parents.

“I hope that parliament can address the issue of citizenship for children born to foreign immigrants in Italy,” Napolitano told reporters at the presidential Quirinale palace.

“Denying it (citizenship) is true folly, an absurdity,” said the president, who has on several occasions highlighted the contribution immigrants make to Italian society.

Meeting some new citizens including soccer star Mario Balotelli at the palace last week, Napolitano said the main reform should concern minors and young people in the country. “They are not yet fully Italian citizens but they are citizens in their daily lives, in their feelings and identity,” he said.

“They give us vital energy”.

According to Napolitano, Italians widely shared the view that children born in Italy of immigrant parents should get citizenship.

At present migrants and their children acquire citizenship after 10 years of residence in Italy.

In many other countries, being born there is enough to become a citizen.

Recognising the important role immigrants play in the national economy, Napolitano said on November 15 that without their contribution it would be difficult for the country to pay off its debts.

The president observed that there was a lot of political support for the idea.

House Speaker Gianfranco Fini has been campaigning for years for such a law change, and to give immigrants the vote.

Centre-left parties, currently the minority in parliament, are in favour of such moves but the centre right and the regionalist Northern League are not. On Tuesday Napolitano did not say whether the issue should be one of the priorities of Mario Monti’s new government, which is aiming to pass austerity measures and growth-boosting reforms to get Italy out of its debt crisis. photo: Napolitano meeting children of immigrants at Quirinale on November 15

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Homosexuals Threaten and Vandalize Churches Standing for Biblical Truth

Church of Christian Liberty in Arlington Heights, Illinois was host to a banquet planned by Americans for Truth about Homosexuality in which they were honoring Dr Scott Lively, author of The Pink Swastika and pro-family activist. The intent of the banquet was to uncover the agenda used by homosexuals to get their sinful lifestyle accepted by society.

On the evening of the banquet, security cameras at the school run by the church, caught vandals hurling more chunks of concrete through the entryway doors of the school. Scrawled on one of the pieces of concrete was the message:

Another piece of concrete carried a note attached which read:

At 4:12am the next morning, the first threatening call came into the church with subsequent calls following over the next few hours:

There were more messages left on the church’s voice mail, but they were so vulgar and profane that the report I read would not reprint them.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

To Promote Diversity, Schools Should Make Students Sit Together

This month’s Teacher Diversity Matters report by the Center for American Progress has added to the growing belief that a racially diverse student body and faculty have positive effects on various educational outcomes for students. Children need to learn how to adapt and interact within a diverse environment. They benefit from broad perspectives and new opinions.

A more pressing concern for policymakers and teachers alike is how to effectively capture and channel the positive influences from diversity?

How? One serious hindrance to performance for certain groups of individuals, from women to minorities, is what social psychologists like Harvard’s Claude Steele deem the stereotype threat: a quantifiable devaluation in performance of some task due to pressure from the belief that others have prejudged us

By encouraging young, multi-ethnic students to sit together every day, to team them up, to have assigned seating at lunch, and give them joint projects, this generation of teachers may potentially issue a fatal blow to the threat before it has materialized as an actual and long-lasting hindrance to performance.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]