Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20111125

Financial Crisis
»Belgian PM Urges Ordinary Folk to Spend Savings on Bonds
»France, Germany Know Italy’s Fall Would End Euro, Says Monti
»Italy Debt Collapse Would End Euro: Merkel, Sarkozy
»Italy Sides With Germany Against Eurobonds
»Italy: Debt Sale Cost Surges to 14-Year High
»Merkel’s Nein is Wrecking the EU
»A Muslim Thanksgiving Blessing
»Chicago Hospital Ends Lockdown After Shooting
»New Jersey Father Suspected of Murdering Daughter, Son-in-Law in Pakistan ‘Honor Killing’
»Obama Omits Mention of God in Thanksgiving Speech, Shock
»Shootings, Pepper-Spray Attack Mar Wal-Mart Black Friday Sales
»Friday Prayers Return at Valley Park
»Jailed Imam ‘Using Family’ To Control Mosque
Europe and the EU
»Cyprus: Russian Navy Nears Gas Drilling Zone
»France: L’Oreal Heiress Bettencourt Eur108m Short on Tax Payments
»French Hotels to Get Chinese Twist
»Germany: Gigantic Baby ‘Jihad’ Born in Berlin
»Habermas, the Last European: A Philosopher’s Mission to Save the EU
»Iceland: Villagers Prepare for Katla Eruption
»Italy: Monti ‘Left’ Trilateral, Bilderberg and Goldman
»MetaMaus by Art Spiegelman — Review
»Scotland: Local Objections Fail to Halt Plans for New Mosque in Kirkcaldy
»Sweden: Naked Man in ‘Pot-Fuelled’ Train Sex Attack
»UK: ‘Would Someone About to Commit Extremism Seek Advice From CAB [Citizens Advice Bureau]?’ Asks Cambridge Muslim Council
»UK: ‘Peace Walk’ In Aylesbury Scheduled for Busy Shopping Day
»UK: Birkby Man, Vajid Ali, Avoids Jail After After Relgiously Aggravated Attack on Sisters
»UK: Blair and Boris Praise Faiths Unity
»UK: Community Rift Over Undercover Police in Mosques
»UK: Jailed for Attempted Rape at University of Essex
»UK: Open Day is Success [Sheffield Islamic Centre]
»UK: Security Minister Insists Govt Will Continue With Current Prevent Strategy Targeting Muslims
»UK: Teenager Gang-Raped After Being Abducted by Group of Asian Men
»UK: Tens of Thousands of Hardened Criminals Spared Jail
»Youssef Ali, The Great Scholar of Qur’an
»Croatia: Three Former Policemen on Trial for Crimes Against Serb Civilians
North Africa
»Cairo Rally: One Day We’ll Kill All Jews
»Egypt: Thousands in Tahrir, Including Elbaradei
»Egypt: Military: Leaving Power Means Betraying People
»Egyptian Revolution Relaunched: Live Updates of ‘Martyrs’ Friday’
»Journalists Sexually Assaulted Covering Egypt Unrest
»Morocco: Voting in Rabat’s Medina, ‘Backing Islamists’
»Tunisia: Woman Wearing Veil Serving in Police
Israel and the Palestinians
»New World War Has Begun, Says New Jewish Group Head
Middle East
»Caroline Glick: Calling Things by Their Proper Names
»Fatal Gunfight at Saudi Funeral
»Iran: Press Union Launched Against West’s ‘Cultural Onslaught’
»World Can’t Do Without Iran Oil: Tehran Official
South Asia
»Bangladesh Begins Trial of Islamist for War Crimes
Australia — Pacific
»Bukhari House Mosque Proposed
Sub-Saharan Africa
»African Muslim Leaders Denounce Identification of Violence With Islam
»Two French Geologists Kidnapped in Mali on Niger Border
»Two French Nationals Kidnapped in Mali
Latin America
»Trinidad & Tobago: Muslim Academics Among 12 Arrested
»Trinidad & Tobago: Central Muslims Protest ‘Branding’
»Belgium’s Right Wing Calls on Turks to Return
»EU a Closed Door for Refugees
Culture Wars
»Norway: Church Official Supports School Segregation
»Arabist Snobs
»Terrorist War, Islamist Peace
»UN Extreme Weather Report Triggers Storm of Protest
»Will We Ever See Solar Powered Cars on the Road?

Financial Crisis

Belgian PM Urges Ordinary Folk to Spend Savings on Bonds

Belgian acting Prime Minister Leterme has on national radio appealed to ordinary folk to buy more government bonds than usual in a regular ‘citizens’ auction.’ “Given the difficulties on the financial markets, we want to increasingly appeal to Belgian savings to finance the debt,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France, Germany Know Italy’s Fall Would End Euro, Says Monti

Cabinet studied how to set, pass reform package ASAP

(see related stories on site) (ANSA) — Rome, November 25 — France and Germany have faith in new Premier Mario Monti and are supporting his emergency technocrat government’s efforts to steer Italy out of its debt crisis as they know the price of failure would be the end of the euro, Monti told a cabinet meeting here on Friday.

The former European commissioner reported to his ministers a day after after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy for the first time since he replaced Silvio Berlsconi as premier.

“Sarkozy and Merkel expressed full confidence in Premier Monti and his government and reiterated their support for Italy, saying they were aware that Italy’s collapse would inevitably lead to the end of the euro, provoking a stall in the process of European integration with unpredictable consequences,” a government statement said. Respected economist Monti said he had told the leaders that Italy still aimed to balance its budget by 2013 with the help of a clear programme of “fair but incisive” structural reforms.

He said the outline of the reforms he gave to Merkel and Sarkozy was based on a speech he gave in the Italian Senate last week, after coming under fire from some quarters for unveiling details of the programme at the meeting that he had allegedly not presented at home.

The statement added that the cabinet had “started the debate on finding the operative path to take to draft a package of measures to adopt as soon as possible”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy Debt Collapse Would End Euro: Merkel, Sarkozy

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have said a debt collapse in Italy would be “the end of the euro,” Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti’s press office said Friday. At a mini-summit with Monti in Strasbourg on Thursday, Merkel and Sarkozy “said they were aware that a collapse of Italy would inevitably be the end of the euro,” the press office said in a statement after a cabinet meeting.

Such a catastrophe would “stall the process of European integration with unpredictable consequences,” it said. Monti said that “Italy has recently demonstrated significant progress in terms of fiscal consolidation, while the commitment to make this consolidation sustainable will be implemented rapidly with measures to boost growth. “Sarkozy and Merkel expressed their full confidence” in Monti, it added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy Sides With Germany Against Eurobonds

At Italy’s first invitation for an audience before the Franco-German duo that powers European decision-making, Prime Minister Mario Monti made it clear that he backs the German position on eurobonds. Meanwhile, little advanced at the meeting of the EU triumvirate, with Germany refusing to discuss whether the European Central Bank (ECB) should intervene more robustly to defend the eurozone.

“The commission made a lot of proposals yesterday about budget discipline and we largely agree on that,” Monti told reporters in Strasbourg after meeting with French leader Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, explaining that such a move chips away at policy competition between states. “I just think that eurobonds, or stability bonds, whatever you want to call them, produce a leveling of the different competitive situations which are expressed via interest rates, which gives the wrong signal, as different interest rates are an indication of where work still needs to be done.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Debt Sale Cost Surges to 14-Year High

Rome, 25 Nov. (AKI) — Italy had to pay investors record rates of interest for lending the eurozone’s second most indebted country 8 billion euros in bonds.

The amount of interest Italy will pay for Friday’s sale of six month Treasury bills was 6.504 percent, up from 3.535 percent during the last auction that took place on 26 October and the highest since August 1997.

The rate surged as perceived risk that Italy could fail to make due on its debt payments rose amid a European debt crisis that forced Silvio Berlusconi to step down from his job as prime minister, prompting the country’s president to appoint an emergency government led by former European Union commissioner Mario Monti.

Berlusconi’s ouster follows similar those of leaders from Spain, Greece, Portugal and Ireland whose jobs were lost to what many say is the worst economic crisis to hit Europe since the end of World War Two.

Now it’s up to Monti and his government of so-called technocrat to usher in a range of painful labour market, pension, political and tax reforms that will likely raise the hackles of of the world’s eighth richest country, but with the aim of cutting its 1.9 trillion-euro mountain of debt, regaining investor confidence and even securing the future of the euro currency.

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

Merkel’s Nein is Wrecking the EU

Die Tageszeitung, Berlin

Alone against all, the Chancellor says ‘No’ to a supporting mandate for the ECB and ‘No’ to common euro bonds. In Germany too, more and more experts are warning that her firm stance on discipline and rules is plunging the eurozone into chaos.

Eric Bonse

The carrot and the stick: that’s one way of summing up the European Commission’s proposals to resolve the debt crisis. The carrots are common bonds with the same interest rates for all euro countries — the so-called Euro Bonds; that is, liabilities pooled among the member states.

The stick: tighter controls and tougher sanctions on those who break the rules on debt. With this programme, one would think, Commission President Barroso could score points with Merkel in Berlin.

Far from it. Although the Eurobonds have been spontaneously rechristened “stability bonds” for the occasion, and despite the fact that the sweet carrots will be served up only when the bitter medicine of austerity has been swallowed, from Berlin there only comes back a dull No.

Even the debate over Eurobonds is “inappropriate,” believes Merkel, who commissioned the feasibility study into the bonds herself. The debate is coming at just the right time. In the meanwhile, the markets have begun attacking not only over-indebted countries, but countries like Austria and the Netherlands as well. Protecting these important partners is also in Germany’s interest.

Many will say Germany is to blame

But for Merkel, only discipline and obedience matter. The Iron Chancellor seems to be ignoring the fact that more and more economists are convinced that the crisis can be overcome only with both common bond purchases and backing from the ECB…

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


A Muslim Thanksgiving Blessing

by Pamela K. Taylor

Praise be to Allah who has blessed us with companionship, with family and food. Allah’s whose blessings upon us cannot be be measured, and to whom we turn in humble gratitude on this day when people far and near gather to remember His blessings on our ancestors and ask for His sustained blessings upon us, their decendents, for surely He is the Sustainer, the Generous, the Compassionate, the Loving. And to Him do we entrust all our affairs. Amen.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Chicago Hospital Ends Lockdown After Shooting

Chicago (CNN) — Police continued searching Friday for the suspect in a fatal shooting at a Chicago medical center.

A man killed his girlfriend in a hospital parking garage, prompting a lockdown for much of the night, CNN affiliate WLS reported.

“He was last seen in the hospital on the second floor. Avoid the area,” the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center said on its website early Friday.

Following two searches, including a search of every room in the hospital, university officials resumed normal operations at the hospital around 5 a.m., WLS reported.

The suspect is a hospital employee, WLS reported, citing police…

[Return to headlines]

New Jersey Father Suspected of Murdering Daughter, Son-in-Law in Pakistan ‘Honor Killing’

GUJRAT, Pakistan — A New Jersey resident whose daughter and son-in-law were gunned down while on a trip to Pakistan was named as the chief suspect in their deaths.

Muzaffar Hussain is suspected of murdering his New York native daughter Uzma Naurin, 30, and her husband, Saif Rehman, 31, in an “honor killing,” the Daily Mail reported.

Naurin and Rehman were shot dead Nov. 1 when their car was ambushed near the northeastern Pakistan city of Gujrat. The car’s driver and several other passengers were uninjured.

The couple — who were living in Scotland but planning to relocate to the US — were in Pakistan to attend a family wedding which Hussain was also attending. Hussain has since returned to his home in Jersey City, N.J.

Pakistani police spokesman Nasir Butt said that the 58-year-old cab driver is being treated as the chief suspect in the case.

Members of Naurin’s family were unhappy about her marriage to Rehman, a friend of the couple told the newspaper. Naurin was married previously, but her first husband committed suicide. Naurin subsequently refused to enter an arranged second marriage with her dead husband’s brother.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Obama Omits Mention of God in Thanksgiving Speech, Shock

(AGI) Washington — Perhaps due to the crisis,or worries for upcoming elections, Obama omitted thanking God of the Pilgrim Fatrhers. Foxnews was the first to report it and Twitter highlighted the “shocking” oimission, encouraged by Republicans who launched the headline on Rupert Murdoch’s TV channel, “Obama leaves out God from his Thanksgiving message.” .

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

Shootings, Pepper-Spray Attack Mar Wal-Mart Black Friday Sales

As shoppers converged on retailers around the country looking for Black Friday deals, authorities reported scattered problems.

In Porter Ranch, a woman pepper sprayed customers at a Wal-Mart in what authorities say was a deliberate attempt to get more “door buster” merchandise. In San Leandro, a Wal-Mart shopper walking to his car was shot and wounded in a suspected robbery early Friday.

Another shooting was reported at a parking lot next to a Wal-Mart in South Carolina, also a suspected robbery attempt. Officials told WMBF-TV they believe the robbery was tied to Black Friday.

At Porter Ranch, 20 customers, including children, were hurt in the 10:10 p.m. incident, officials said. Shoppers complained of minor skin and eye irritation and sore throats.

“This was customer-versus-customer ‘shopping rage,’“ said Los Angeles Police Lt. Abel Parga.

The woman used the spray in more than one area of the Wal-Mart “to gain preferred access to a variety of locations in the store,” said Los Angeles Fire Capt. James Carson.

“She was competitive shopping,” he said.

Police are searching for the woman but said they’ve had trouble getting a clear description of her…

[Return to headlines]


Friday Prayers Return at Valley Park

High school students — not a religious leader from outside — now lead the weekly Muslim prayers at Toronto’s Valley Park Middle School, a change the school hopes will ease objections to the 30-minute service. Three male students from nearby Marc Garneau Collegiate began leading Friday afternoon prayers earlier this month rather than an imam from the nearby mosque, because some critics had complained about an outside religious leader conducting worship at school during the school day. In a bid to address those concerns, school officials brainstormed this summer with leaders of the large Muslim community in Thorncliffe Park, near Don Mills Rd. and Overlea Blvd., and agreed that student-run prayers s eemed a solution, said Valley Park principal Nick Stefanoff. Many Toronto high schools have long allowed students to run Friday prayers on-site, but Valley Park had allowed an imam, partly because its oldest students are only in Grade 8.

But with Marc Garneau Collegiate across the street, Valley Park turned to their students for help. “We wanted to address concerns without changing the religious accommodation we provide,” said Stefanoff, whose school started allowing the prayer service three years ago as a way to stop losing as many as 400 students every Friday to worship at a local mosque. Many believe the Qur’an requires followers to pray together at a certain time on Friday afternoon, so Valley Park lets students use the cafeteria after lunch. I think it’s a good idea because it cuts down on travel time and it’s safer for younger students to stay at the school,” said Hamzah Khoda, 16, a Grade 11 student who helps the student leaders who conduct the service.

So far the students have led only one service since they resumed for the winter, which drew some 300 Valley Park students. Stefanoff noted they “were actually pretty quiet and orderly.” Khoda said the prayers begin with a sermon in Arabic from a book provided by the local mosque. He said the student leader wears a robe and female students sit behind their male classmates — a point that drew fire this summer for violating gender equity. Jim Spyropoulos, superintendent of inclusive schools for the Toronto District School Board, said it is not up to schools to judge the beliefs of a religion, but they are compelled by law to accommodate students’ religious needs, whether it is a Jewish student’s need to stay home to observe high holidays, a Jehovah’s Witness’s objection to standing for the national anthem, or a Muslim student’s need to pray during a school day, unlike other religions whose day of worship falls on weekends. “These are highly personal matters that a re very important to many students, and we’re compelled to live up to our legal duty to accommodate them,” said Spryropoulos. He noted that Christian holidays such as Christmas and Good Friday are enshrined in law as statutory holidays. Several religious groups have supported accommodating Friday prayers in school, including the Ontario Multifaith Council and the Hindu Federation. Other groups, such as the Canadian Muslim Congress and a group called Canadian Hindu Advocacy have opposed it.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Jailed Imam ‘Using Family’ To Control Mosque

Elders plan demonstration to demand takeover by elected board of directors

A Muslim cleric deported from Canada in 2007 is still pulling the strings at a Montreal mosque from his U.S. prison cell, some congregation members charge. Some senior members at the Association Coranique de Montréal, which runs the Al Qods mosque on Bélanger St. E., are planning a demonstration on Friday at 12: 30 p.m. Said Jaziri has been in detention in San Diego since January, when the U.S. Border Patrol nabbed him trying to sneak over the Mexican border in the trunk of a car. But the congregation members say that hasn’t stopped the controversial imam from keeping a tight rein on the Rosemont mosque and community centre he founded in 2000. They are demanding that Jaziri’s wife, two brothers and brother-in-law step aside and turn over the reins to an elected board of directors.

Members of the mosque, popular with the city’s North African communities, have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, but have no say in how the money is spent, said Mohamed Khouadri, one of a group of four elders contesting Jaziri’s control. Khouadri declined to disclose how much he has donated personally because he said Muslims are forbidden to show off their generosity. However, he did say the 500 to 700 worshippers who gather regularly for Friday prayers have dug deep into their pockets over the years. “He collected a lot of money from people,” said Khouadri, who estimated annual contributions were in the hundreds of thousands. “It’s enormous,” he said.

The congregation members say Jaziri has invested in real estate, including a $700,000 building on Pie IX Blvd. and land in St. Eustache. “He has thrown contributors’ money out the window,” Khouadri said. Triki Abdelkader, another member, said Jaziri promised to provide written financial accounts to congregation members, but never did so. He said the Tunisian-born Jaziri developed a devoted following among fellow immigrants from North Africa, but that over time his outspoken comments began to alienate some people.

“He became out of control,” Abdelkader said. Jaziri gained notoriety for inciting demonstrations against caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, for calling homosexuality a sin in a television interview, and for bragging about his ability to convert Canadian women to Islam.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Cyprus: Russian Navy Nears Gas Drilling Zone

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, NOVEMBER 25 — The Russian “Admiral Kuznetsov” class aircraft carrier is currently off the coast of Malta and heading for eastern Mediterranean from their base in the Barents Sea. As daily Famagusta Gazette reports, the Russian navy and Israeli military will hold joint exercises next week close to Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone. The exercises are slated to begin on the 28th November and last a week.

Commentators say that Russia is determined to send the message that they have invested interests in the region and will secure them. It is understood that the aircraft carrier is carrying 24-fixed wing planes and a number of helicopters. It has also been reported in the press that the Russian navy may request to use port facilities at Limassol. The radio report also claimed that three Russian destroyers are currently anchored off the Syrian coast. Russia’s naval supply and maintenance site near Syria’s Mediterranean port of Tartus will be modernized to accommodate heavy warships after 2012, the Russian Navy chief said earlier this week. “Tartus will be developed as a naval base. The first stage of development and modernization will be completed in 2012,” Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky said, adding it could then serve as a base for guided-missile cruisers and even aircraft carriers. The Soviet-era facility is operated under a 1971 agreement by Russian personnel.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

France: L’Oreal Heiress Bettencourt Eur108m Short on Tax Payments

(AGI) Paris — The taxman’s axe comes down on L’Oreal’s Liliane Bettencourt, compounding the heiress recent woes. According to French revenue office Ms Bettencourt owes 108m euro in unpaid tax, of which 78m due between 2004 and 2010. Fiscal inspectors are also demanding a further 30m euro in tax adjustments relating to 2006-2009 incomes.

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

French Hotels to Get Chinese Twist

A chain of French hotels is going all out to welcome Chinese visitors by adapting its menus and TV channels and giving its employees the necessary language skills. From January 1st, 15 hotels in the Campanile chain will offer ravioli, soup and rice for breakfast, as well as the traditional croissant and butter for those willing to sample the local cuisine, reported daily newspaper Le Parisien.

In the rooms, green tea will be available as well as Chinese TV stations. Information will be directly translated into mandarin and telephone assistance will also be available in the guests’ own language. The 15 hotels chosen will be in the cities most visited by Chinese tourists. There will be eight in Paris, three in Lyon and one each in Nice, Marseille, Bordeaux and Aix-en-Provence. The Campanile group has a total of 320 hotels across France.

The initiative is the result of a deal between the owner of Campanile, the Louvre Hotels Group, and Jin Jiang, a tourism company in China.

According to the hotel chain, they are keen to corner the market in a new type of Chinese traveller. “We want to attract the new Chinese clients who are increasingly travelling alone rather than as part of a group, as before,” said Camille Sassi, communications director for the Louvre Hotels Group.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Gigantic Baby ‘Jihad’ Born in Berlin

Doctors were left astounded after a gigantic baby set a new record for Germany’s heaviest-ever naturally born newborn Friday. The boy was named Jihad. The 6-kilogramme (13-pound) boy was born at Berlin’s Charité hospital to a 40-year-old, 240-kilogramme (528-pound) woman who also had gestational diabetes and most likely a metabolic disorder, according to doctors.

Women suffering from untreated gestational diabetes — when a pregnant woman who doesn’t previously suffer from diabetes has excessively high blood sugar — tend to produce particularly overweight babies. Such newborns are often delivered via caesarean section because they can suffer from oxygen deficiency or shoulder dislocations during birth. But in this case the mother opted for a vaginal birth, which lasted seven hours and luckily went off without a hitch.

“She insisted on a vaginal birth despite the very high risk,” said Wolfgang Henrich, the chief doctor at Charité’s obstetrics clinic. “We usually advise mothers carrying a child with an estimated weight of more than 4.5 kilos to opt for a caesarean section to avoid complications.” The boy will join nine brothers and four sisters — four of which had birth weights of more than five kilograms. The woman claimed she didn’t know of her diabetes, but doctors believe she was aware and ate too much sweet food.

A normal birth weight is about 3.5 kilos. Babies over four kilos — about one in ten in Germany — are generally considered to be overweight and run higher risks of diabetes and obesity later in life.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Habermas, the Last European: A Philosopher’s Mission to Save the EU

Jürgen Habermas has had enough. The philosopher is doing all he can these days to call attention to what he sees as the demise of the European ideal. He hopes he can help save it — from inept politicians and the dark forces of the market.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iceland: Villagers Prepare for Katla Eruption

Residents in the village Vik, close to one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes, were on Friday (October 14) preparing themselves for the eruption of the fierce Katla volcano. Increased seismic activity over the last few years and a recent increase in earthquakes have led scientists to query whether an eruption was imminent.

Pilot Reynir Ragnarsson who often flies over the glacier which houses Katla, said he guessed an eruption would take place in the next few months. “I am afraid that Katla is preparing to erupt. The heat under the volcano is clearly rising — there are more cauldrons under the glacier and more earthquakes. So I am afraid it is preparing to erupt,” Ragnarsson said.

Some scientists say that flights over Katla suggested that the most likely cause of the recent small earthquake was melt-water pouring down into a heated crevasse and not a sign of the volcanic giant re-awakening.

In the village of Vik, emergency plans have been drawn up. Ragnarsson said the people were aware of the dangers and were prepared. The plan is to evacuate the low-lying houses and move further uphill. “It is expected that it will be known within hours if there will be danger of flooding from melting water — then people would be safe to go back to their houses. It is mainly at first when it’s dangerous when it is not known how big the flood will be and which direction it will take — if it reaches Vik,” he said.

Katla, which is one of the island’s most active volcanos, last erupted in 1918, flooding huge areas with the melting water from glaciers. Its current resting time is the longest in history.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Monti ‘Left’ Trilateral, Bilderberg and Goldman

(AGI) Rome — Mario Monti left all his professional assignments as soon as he entered Palazzo Chigi. He suspended himself from his assignment as President of the Bocconi University and left his office as European President of the Trilateral Commission.

Moreover, he is no longer member of the steering committee at Bilderberg nor international advisor at Goldman Sachs .

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

MetaMaus by Art Spiegelman — Review

One early spread in MetaMaus shows a collage of the rejection letters its author, Art Spiegelman, received when he was seeking publication for Maus, a book-length comic strip about his parents’ sufferings in the Holocaust. The reputable publishers’ repertoire of buck-passing, supercilious reproof and pained sense of personal affront at being asked to take on what is patently unacceptable (“I wanted very much to want to do the book”) is here in all its scurrying diversity, and most richly enjoyable it is too, when you consider what happened when Maus did find a publisher. It sold in millions all over the world, won a Pulitzer Prize and made its author the most famous strip cartoonist on the planet. Now the story of Spiegelman’s Polish-Jewish parents, Anja and Vladek, has become one of the privileged testimonies of the genre, like Primo Levi’s If This Is a Man or the diaries of Anne Frank, raised above other voices and speaking representatively for millions, both dead and surviving. For many young people especially, Maus is all they know of the persecutions and death camps. Twenty-eight years after the rejections rained in, Spiegelman, who understands everything about graphics, has laid out his spread as a cold buffet of revenge, with all the sorrowing editors’ names and signatures in plain sight.

The present book is a book about the making of Maus. It comes with a DVD of The Complete Maus, where you can click on each page and hear, if you can bear to, the voice of the now-dead Vladek deposing to his son. It’s a series of interviews with the author set among archival visual material such as sketches, layouts, documentary photographs and the comic art of Spiegelman’s influences, all presented with the idea of answering what troubleshooting manuals call “frequently asked questions”. Why mice? Why comics? Why the Holocaust? These were at the bottom of the publishers’ anxieties: how could they justify an account that showed Jews as mice, Germans as cats and Poles as pigs? Was this not to mock and trivialise? How could Spiegelman have the temerity, also, to set his parents’ story within a contemporary framework concerning himself? His conversations with Vladek bleed in and out of a present where the author, himself a character in the story, has to negotiate his mother’s suicide and his fraught relationship with his father, now a frankly impossible, distrustful, querulous and miserly old thing living in Rego Park, New York; and all the time overwhelmed with a sense of how puny these misfortunes seem when compared to what happened to his parents.

To some, this smudged the purity of the survivors’ tale. But readers immediately saw that this narrative complexity was what raised Maus to the level of greatness, just as they saw that the animal personae were perfect metaphors for the reductive dehumanisation of Hitler’s world order. Spiegelman is a person of intellectual gifts and gives articulate, sympathetic and thoughtful answers to all these questions. He is also someone who thinks in comics, or graphic narratives; so that to read (and look at) his analysis of his own masterpiece is to receive an education in this neglected art. In Britain we have very little sense of cartoons as a medium for the serious or profound, and consistently underestimate our own cartoon geniuses like Raymond Briggs, Ronald Searle or Posy Simmonds. Spiegelman’s dissection of the formal elements of his work is therefore particularly enlightening.

Now we can see how some of the most affecting episodes in Maus achieve their power through manip ulation of the page space and the comic-book “grid”. As, for instance, when the squares of the grid begin to fall down the page as a shower of old, square, white-bordered photographs of the family, floating onto one another like autumn leaves. “ALL what is left, it’s the photos,” says Vladek. No other medium can do this.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Scotland: Local Objections Fail to Halt Plans for New Mosque in Kirkcaldy

Controversial plans for a mosque in Kirkcaldy have been given the go-ahead.

The proposed replacement Fife Islamic Centre will be created on land to the north of Cumbrae Terrace and to the west of Hendry Road, in spite of some stern opposition from councillors and the local community.

Twenty-one objections, including a 240-signature petition, were submitted to Fife Council. Most cited increased traffic and a loss of green space as reasons the development should be refused.

However, these were noted but overruled by members of the Kirkcaldy area committee on Wednesday.

A previous incarnation of the development was refused by the same committee in March 2009 but the applicants appealed, prompting the Scottish Government reporter to overturn the committee’s decision and grant permission (link).

The revised proposals involve the construction of a split-level two- and three-storey building with a central dome and four corner minarets which will be used as an Islamic centre on the sloping grass area at the site.

The site has also been moved slightly to accommodate the planned new roundabout serving Chapel Level and Hendry Road, with the mosque expected to take access from Hendry Road once the road network is improved.

The current access from Cumbrae Terrace is also expected to be closed off to try to alleviate the traffic concerns.

Councillor Neil Crooks said he was unhappy at the supposed “democratic deficit” between the wishes of locals and the views of the reporter, referring to the application’s history, but welcomed proposed changes to access.

Mr Crooks said: “We’re going to have to make the best of a bad job with regards to access and egress from the site.”…

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Naked Man in ‘Pot-Fuelled’ Train Sex Attack

9 A 30-year-old man from western Sweden has been detained after he stripped down naked and started asking people to have sex with him before attacking a female passenger and a conductor on a train traveling in central Sweden.

The incident occurred last Saturday on a train travelling from Gothenburg to Örebro in central Sweden, the Göteborgs-Posten (GP) newspaper reported.

According to police, the man smoked marijuana somewhere between Herrljunga and Skövde, after which he began behaving erratically.

“He got high during the trip, he threatened and assaulted a conductor and he assaulted a woman,” police spokesperson Lars Johansson told the paper.

After the initial assault, the man then took off all his clothes and began roaming through the train asking people if they wanted to have sex with him.

“He asked if we wanted to have sex, but I politely declined,” one passenger told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

Eventually, the man tried to force a woman to perform oral sex on him.

According to Johansson, the man also threatened to kill everyone who left the train.

When the train stopped in Skövde, most of the passengers nevertheless evacuated. When police arrived they found the 30-year-old alone on the train talking to a woman he had trapped in the corner.

When police attempted to apprehend the men, he resisted, forcing them to use pepper spray.

On Tuesday, he was ordered held on remand by the Skaraborg District Court on suspicion of assault, attempted rape, and threatening behaviour.

The 30-year-old has submitted a blood test to confirm whether or not he was under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident.

“But it’s quite likely he was under the influence of something. This sort of behaviour isn’t normal,” a prosecutor told local news website Skö

Police have interviewed several witnesses in the case and prosecutors are expected to file charges no later than December 6th, according to GP.

           — Hat tip: RR[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Would Someone About to Commit Extremism Seek Advice From CAB [Citizens Advice Bureau]?’ Asks Cambridge Muslim Council

The Cambridge Muslim Council (CMC) has questioned whether a grant to the city council to prevent terrorism was spent wisely.

The previous Government gave £20 million to local authorities as part of the Prevent Strategy — ‘to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism’ — in the wake of the July 7 London bombings. Cambridge received £138,000. Mirza Baig, vice-chairman of CMC, fears the city council has wasted an opportunity, as much of the allocation will do little to counter extremism — the aim of the funding. Cllr Tim Bick, executive councillor for community development and health, argued the Prevent grant was intended for “influencing conditions in the community on which violent extremism could feed” which, he believes, the grants will achieve. He said a “wide section of people including the police” were consulted and supported using the funds to build community cohesion.

Mr Baig said some of the grants may indirectly address the key objective, but large amounts had gone to areas that will have little impact on preventing extremism. He cited the £31,925 for a sports development project — social, sports and arts activities for children and young people — £20,625 of which would pay for two part-time staff. “Our main objection was, why pay people when there are volunteers?” said Mr Baig. “That money could be used to keep the scheme going for far longer. And it would mean young volunteers from within the community getting involved in the project.” Cllr Bick said the part-time community development workers would identify volunteers to run the project when their employment ended.

Other Prevent grants include £5,000 for the Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum (CECF) for ‘young people from a range of communities to undertake interviews, media training and outreach sessions’, £20,000 for the Asia Mela, part of the city’s Big Weekend, as well as a proposed £15,000 for the Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB).

Mr Baig said organisations like the CECF (he is a member) reach people who are already integrated, and the same was true of the Asia Mela. He agreed the Mela was good for Cambridge, but said it should have been funded from the council pot not Prevent fund, as it would have done little to prevent extremism. “When you have a serious problem where young people are being targeted by extremists, it is more important we concentrate on them,” he said. “The Asia Mela would not attract that particular group — vulnerable young Muslims. “While the Mela has helped build some bridges in the Asian community, it was funded at the expense of a very serious cause.”

As for the CAB grant Mr Mirza asked: “Do you really think someone who is going to commit an act of extremism will go to CAB for advice? How naive is that?” But Mr Bick argued the CAB funding was to ensure Muslims, like everyone else, had access to means of righting wrongs and dealing with grievances effectively which he said would “minimise the risk of disaffection”. He said the council’s priorities were to involve young people in positive activities, increase the confidence level of Muslims with mainstream agencies and avoid social isolation within the Muslim community. He said: “In going about this we wanted to involve the Muslim community. We’ve tried to achieve as much as we could through projects that they came forward with. But cohesion does not come from only one side, so we have also looked for help wherever there is particular expertise and a track record of success. And it’d be a positive result if the Muslim community gets closer to mainstream organisations like th e CAB, the YMCA or the city council, which have something to offer everyone, including Muslims. The Asian Mela was one of our projects to improve understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims. It aimed to build pride and a visible stake in the city.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Peace Walk’ In Aylesbury Scheduled for Busy Shopping Day

HUNDREDS of people are expected to take part in Aylesbury’s second multi-faith walk on Saturday, which is part of efforts to bring the town closer together. The walk takes place on a busy Saturday lunchtime to increase the event’s ‘visibility’ and walkers will proudly parade between places of worship such as St Mary’s Church and the mosque in Havelock Street.

It has been organised by the group Learning Together, Living in Harmony’ which promotes tolerance and understanding across Aylesbury. Assistant secretary J acqueline Russell said: “I’m a practising Christian but I think it is very important that we reach out to other faiths and live together in peace and harmony and respect our differences. I think it is very beautiful that we can all walk together from diverse backgrounds. The first time we tried this was last year and we got a few cheers from passers-by. To see the Imam chatting away to two Irish Catholic women, it was just lovely to see. We are hoping it is going to become an annual event.”

Imam of Aylesbury Mosque, Syed Ali Jawad, said: “It’s a good thing that the whole community can take part in, to get to know each others values, religions and beliefs. There is a lot of confusion about Islam, it is something some people know little about. Such as women’s rights for example, women play a very big role in the leadership of the community. It is often the first time they have met someone in my position. Afterwards they have come down and visited the mosque. “Our mosque is always open to all and I am more than happy to give them a tour.” Former Aylesbury Mayor and current race equalities officer and councillor Ranjula Takodra is taking part in the walk again this year. She said: “It is a very important event.”It is really nice to get members of the different communities and faith groups together. Walking together and to meet each other, it is a fantastic idea.” Those wishing to take part are asked to meet outside Aylesbury Crown Court at the bottom of Market Square at 11.45am on Saturday. Everyone in the town is invited to get involved. The group Learning Together, Living in Harmony meets every six weeks to plan conferences and events.

[JP note: I would add ‘Peace walk’ to Ed West’s list of ten things that should be banned before smoking. In fact, I would ban use of the word ‘peace’ altogether — it causes too much confusion while a war is going on.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Birkby Man, Vajid Ali, Avoids Jail After After Relgiously Aggravated Attack on Sisters

AN angry brother carried out a religiously aggravated attack on his sister’s non-Muslim boyfriend. But Vajid Ali has avoided an immediate prison sentence for the attack, which left Rolf Fantom with a wound to his head. Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday that 24-year-old Amreen Bibi was so worried she had sought the advice of the police before she revealed her previously secret relationship with 30-year-old Rolf Fantom to her parents. Prosecutor Dave Mackay said the couple were planning to move in together with a view to getting married, so in August they decided to tell Miss Bibi’s Birkby family. They took Mr Fantom’s sister with them while another male friend followed in order to keep an eye out for trouble.

But Miss Bibi’s parents became extremely upset during the conversation outside their home in Bay Hall Common Road, Birkby. When her younger brother Vajid Ali turned up he wanted to know who Mr Fantom was. Prosecutor Mr Mackay said: “He confirmed that he was Miss Bibi’s boyfriend. The defendant then produced an extendable baton which he flicked out and struck Mr Fantom once on the head. That blow caused a large cut.”

Mr Fantom, Miss Bibi and his sister all got back into the Suzuki Swift vehicle to leave, but Ali struck the driver’s window with the baton, causing it smash. He hit Mr Fantom on the shoulder as they tried to leave. Mr Fantom managed to drive away, but he was bleeding so heavily that his sister took over and he was taken to hospital where he had 12 stitches put in the wound to his head. Mr Mackay said: “Mr Fantom has been left with a scar but it is in the hairline. Both he and Miss Bibi have been worried about the repercussions and it has affected their work lives.”

Ali, who has been living at a bail hostel in Hull, admitted charges of religiously aggravated wounding and damaging property. Barrister Timothy Stead for the 22-year-old said his parents were desperately upset and crying when he arrived at the house. “In no way seeking to justify what he did, this was a highly distressing situation for him not least because of what it was doing to his parents,” said Mr Stead. The court heard that Ali had told his barrister: “If I see him now I will probably apologise. She has made her decision. She has to get on with her life.” Judge Peter Benson said it was a difficult case involving a man arming himself before going to what he knew would be a fraught situation and causing a significant injury. But he said Ali was of previous good character, had pleaded guilty and was remorseful. Judge Benson told Ali that he had acted in an irresponsible and wicked fashion, but he was persuaded to suspend his 12-month jail term for two years. Ali will also have to do 240 hours unpaid work for the community.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Blair and Boris Praise Faiths Unity

Boris Johnson and Tony Blair have lauded the interfaith aspect of Mitzvah Day. Mitzvah Day marks the start of the national Interfaith Week and Mr Blair praised the notion of “Jews working with Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Baha’is to go out into their communities to help clean up the area”. Mr Johnson said such co-operation was a “fantastic example of what can happen when people put in a little time and a little thought into doing something for others”. One of the activities run by Alyth Synagogue in Golders Green was a brunch for refugees and asylum seekers. Organised by the shul’s head of social justice, Nikki Levitan, it featured children’s activities, as well as hosting the Habonim Dror Refugee Bike project, which restores old bikes for refugees. “In the 1930s, our community held brunches for German-Jewish refugees,” Rabbi Mark Goldsmith pointed out. “We want this to be something that carries on.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Community Rift Over Undercover Police in Mosques

Relations between the Muslim community and Greater Manchester Police are being strained after officers infiltrated mosques. Some Islamic groups have told the BBC Asian Network that they are angry about undercover tactics used in recent counter terror operations. Police deny relations with the community have deteriorated. The North West Counter Terrorism Unit carried out an investigation which involved officers posing as Muslims. They attended prayer meetings and services at a dozen unnamed mosques in Manchester after they befriended four Muslim men for more than a year. Three of the men, Munir Farooqi, 54, Israr Malik, 24, and Matthew Newton, 29, were convicted of terrorism charges in September. Another man was acquitted. The court heard Farooqi, a former Taliban fighter, had tried to recruit the undercover policemen to go to Afghanistan to fight British soldiers.

Malik and Newton worked alongside Farooqi at his bookstall. Farooqi was given four life sentences, Newton was jailed for six years and Malik was given an indeterminate sentence and told he would serve at least five years. But the covert nature of the operation has led to tensions between Greater Manchester Police and its Islamic advisory group. Yasmin Dar, a member of the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Mosques and Community Forum, said: “It’s alarming, you’ve got one community that is being targeted. “I’ve not heard of any cases of undercover officers going into churches or synagogues, so why a particular faith? Relations with the police have hit rock bottom. It’s created a lot of mistrust with the police.”

Another Forum member Rabnawaz Akbar said: “Mosques are a special place for Muslims and when people were told that this had happened they just felt betrayed. It’s left a scar on the good relations that had been built over the years.” Ms Dar said t his issue, coupled with the police decision to apply to confiscate the home where Farooqi’s family live led to all 15 members of the forum walking out of a meeting with the police earlier this month. At the meeting they had called on the Chief Constable Peter Fahy to reconsider the decision to apply to court for a forfeiture order. The Muslim Safety Forum, a national organisation which advises the police on issues concerning British Muslims, says the way in which counter terror investigations are carried out must change.

However, Professor Eric Grove, from the Centre for International Security and War Studies at the University of Salford, believes that undercover investigations are necessary, including possible conversions to Islam. “I don’t think there’s much alternative to the current tactics, in the current circumstances. Human intelligence infiltrating the society from which terrorists, sadly, do come, is a necessary part of any counter terrorism campaign. If people are converting for this, you can see why imams find this difficult and unwelcome, but on the other hand it’s probably inevitable.”

Imam Habib-ur-Rehman, of the Madina Mosque in Levenshulme, says that he feels insulted by the fact that non-Muslims pretended to be part of the faith. He said: “We will never welcome such people who record our messages secretly, not such undercover activities, definitely not. We will never support them.” Members of the Islamic communities were angered when they heard that police officers had posed as Muslims, he said. He explained that things could have got out of hand had people started to protest on the streets.

“We were disappointed and angry but at the same time we remained peaceful, we tried to remain law abiding — an angry person can do anything.”

The Muslim Safety Forum (MSF) represents more than 30 Islamic organisations including the Muslim Council of Britain, Muslim Parliament, Federation of Stude nt Islamic Societies, and mosques. It offers advice to the Metropolitan Police and Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) on Islamic issues. Its counter terrorism spokesman Shamiul Joarder argues Muslims are already taking the lead in the fight against extremism. “We’ve seen it through Finsbury Park Mosque — it was the Muslims who took out Abu Hamza.” He says the authorities need the support of the Muslim community in order to counter terrorist activity effectively. “The police haven’t managed to foster positive relationships with the Muslim community, otherwise they could use these channels to get the information they need. This kind of infiltration is not the way forward.”

Greater Manchester Police declined to give an interview but issued a statement. It said: “There was simply no other way for this terror network to be uncovered other than the use of undercover officers, and the police were praised by the judge. “We also do not agree with the view that relations with the Muslim community are at an all-time low — that does not reflect the numerous consultations, forums and public meetings we have had with members of the community since the convictions. “We accept the forfeiture order is an emotive one and has engendered strong feelings, but the response we had to the convictions themselves was very positive.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Jailed for Attempted Rape at University of Essex

A man has been jailed for five years for the attempted rape of a woman at a university.

Soban Ikram, 23, from Colchester, was found guilty of the attack on the University of Essex campus in Colchester.

The teenage woman was assaulted behind a lecture

“When his own turn came to give evidence, his account was littered with fabrication and he even accused the police of using bullying tactics during his interview, which was plainly false.”

Ikram, who was convicted of two counts of attempted rape, was also placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register indefinitely.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Open Day is Success [Sheffield Islamic Centre]

PuPILS and the public learned much more about Islam when Sheffield’s most prominent mosque held an open day. Over 150 visitors were welcomed at the Sheffield Islamic Centre on Wolseley Road in Heeley as part of a National Interfaith Week. Among the visitors were 50 students from Ecclesfield School who attended as part of their religious education studies. Madina Masjid Trust committee secretary Waheed Akhtar said the aim was to allow people to find out more about Islam and to counter the negative perceptions which some people had. He said: “We invite people to pop in, there is no pressure and they can enjoy a tour of the building. We answer everyone’s questions about Islam both here in Sheffield and in the Uk and they usually find it most useful. People in the area see us from the outside but this is a chance to see wha t happens on the inside.” The mosque has held a series of open days and in three years has welcomed more than 5,000 visitors.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Security Minister Insists Govt Will Continue With Current Prevent Strategy Targeting Muslims

In an exclusive interview with Parliamentary Under Secretary for Crime and Security at the Home Office, James Brokenshire, Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed J Versi, discussed a variety of issues, in particular the Coalition Government’s Prevent Extremism strategy which has been expanded to include non-violent extremism.

Ahmed J Versi: Why do you think Prevent Violent Extremism strategy has been expanded to include non-violent extremism, considering that it hasn’t got much support in the Muslim and non-Muslim communities?

James Peter Brokenshire: As you know the new Government came in and looked at the counter terrorism strategy the new Contest Terrorism Strategy deliberately changes in its emphasis in terms of looking at all potential terrorist threats, so not just Islamists al-Qa’ida but very much residual Ireland terrorism including extreme right-wing terrorism and all of the different potential threats that we have as a country. So we think that it is important that part of the strategy has a Preventative aspect to it to stop people going down a path that leads to terrorism and therefore the focus on having Prevent, to be able to stop that, to look at perhaps the ideology, the themes that lie behind why someone is taking terrorist action or is considering moving down a path of being involved in terrorism. That’s why it is, still very important to have that aspect and that angle and why the new strategy did continue to have Prevent contained within it but focussed in a different way, res pecting the fact that it is about preventing terrorism rather than seeking to have a broader, you know confusing it with integration and some other community issues which is where the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) rightly takes the lead on community cohesion and ensuring that we have communities that are happy and solid communities. Therefore the work that we are doing in Prevent is very much focused about preventing terrorism, and that is rightly so in the way that this is being recalibrated and the process that is being taken.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Teenager Gang-Raped After Being Abducted by Group of Asian Men

A teenager was the victim of a horrific gang-rape after she was ordered into a car and taken to a house where she was brutally attacked.

The 18-year-old had been walking through a busy residential area when two black cars pulled up alongside her.

The driver of one of the cars then threatened her and told her to get into the car.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Tens of Thousands of Hardened Criminals Spared Jail

Tens of thousands of hardened criminals escaped jail last year — despite having more than 15 previous convictions.

Figures released by the Ministry of Justice reveal that serial offenders accounted for more than a third of the 294,000 cases ending in convictions in the adult courts last year.

Yet barely a third of those with more than 15 previous convictions were jailed. Of the 103,175 cases involving serial offenders just over 36,000 resulted in immediate custody.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Youssef Ali, The Great Scholar of Qur’an

When Khan Bahadur Yousuf Ali retired from the police force, he never knew that his son Abdullah will take his name and the fame to the four corners of the world. He raised Abdullah well and arranged for his good education. Abdullah memorized the whole Holy Qur’an and was entitled as Hafiz. Later he was sent to England for higher education. He studied English language and literature at several European universities including Cambridge and Leeds. He secured M. A. then L.L.M. then he faired I.C.S.

His main interest was in the Qur’anic sciences. For this purpose he studied many Tafseer written by early scholars. He attained fluency in speaking and writing Arabic language. When he gained mastery on both English and Arabic languages he decided to get the best fruit of his knowledge. At the mature age of 60 years he embarked on the great project of translation of Holy Qur’an. This was the first attempt by a born Muslim in history. He coined the historic sentence in his preface that “We should Islamize the English language. “ This proved well when many other Muslim scholars produced large Islamic literature in English during the last century. He began his translation work in 1934 and completed it in 1938 with more than 6000 thoroughly studied footnotes, producing the marvelous title of “The Holy Qur’an: Text, Translation and Commentary.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Croatia: Three Former Policemen on Trial for Crimes Against Serb Civilians

Zagreb, 24 Nov. (AKI) — Three former policemen went on trial in a Zagreb court on Thursday for crimes allegedly committed during military operation “Storm” which crushed Serb rebellion in August 1995.

Frano Drljo, Bozidar Krajina and Igor Beneta have been charged with killing at least six elderly Serbs in the village of Grubori in southwest Croatia in an operation carried out on August 25 and 26 1995 in which many Serb villages were destroyed.

Croatian forces in the operation “Storm” liberated a part of the country which had been under the control of Serb rebels, who opposed Croatia’s secession from the former Yugoslavia.

Some 200,000 Serbs fled the country, finding refuge in Serbia and, according to Croatian human rights organization Helsinki Committee, 410 civilians were killed and many villages burned down.

The United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in April this year sentenced two Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina and Ivan Markac to 24 and 18 years in jail respectively for crimes committed in the operation “Storm”.

Appearing in court on Thursday Drljo and Krajina pleaded not guilty, while Beneta is on the run and is being tried in absentia.

In a related development, Croatian state prosecutor has indicted five former policemen for allegedly torturing and raping Serb prisoners in a detention camp Kerestinec, near Zagreb, during 1991-1995 war.

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

North Africa

Cairo Rally: One Day We’ll Kill All Jews

Muslim Brotherhood holds venomous anti-Israel rally in Cairo mosque Friday; Islamic activists chant: Tel Aviv, judgment day has come

Arab hate: A Muslim Brotherhood rally in Cairo’s most prominent mosque Friday turned into a venomous anti-Israel protest, with attendants vowing to “one day kill all Jews.”

Some 5,000 people joined the rally, called to promote the “battle against Jerusalem’s Judaization.” The event coincided with the anniversary of the United Nations’ partition plan in 1947, which called for the establishment of a Jewish state.

However, most worshippers who prayed at the mosque Friday quickly left it before the Muslim Brotherhood’s rally got underway. A group spokesman urged attendants to remain for the protest, asking them not to create a bad impression for the media by leaving.

‘Treacherous Jews’

Speakers at the event delivered impassioned, hateful speeches against Israel, slamming the “Zionist occupiers” and the “treacherous Jews.” Upon leaving the rally, worshippers were given small flags, with Egypt’s flag on one side and the Palestinian flag on the other, as well as maps of Jerusalem’s Old City detailing where “Zionists are aiming to change Jerusalem’s Muslim character.”

Propaganda material ahead of Egypt’s parliamentary elections was also handed out at the site…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Thousands in Tahrir, Including Elbaradei

Huge protest dubbed “Friday of the Last Chance”

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, NOVEMBER 25 — Egyptian presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei has joined the tens of thousands of protestors in Tahrir Square for the Friday prayer in honour of the victims of the clashes over the past few days. The huge demonstration called for today has been entitled the “Friday of the Last Chance” in reference to the last chance for a large demonstration before the parliamentary elections, which the military council said yesterday would be held as scheduled on Monday. While the square is getting ready for the latest show of force, the military council has not yet officially confirmed the news released yesterday by a number of Egyptian media sources, which said that the military had tasked former prime minister Kamal El Ganzouri with forming a national unity government. As soon as his name began to spread in the square yesterday evening, it was rejected due to his being a representative of the old regime and in any case too old. El Ganzouri is 78.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Military: Leaving Power Means Betraying People

Calm in Tahrir ahead of tomorrow’s protest

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, NOVEMBER 24 — The military currently ruling Egypt says that leaving power, as has been demanded of them by the occupants of Tahrir Square, means “betraying the mandate received by the people” when they replaced the ousted President, Hosni Mubarak. This is according to two senior officials from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), who appeared at a press conference this afternoon in which they talked about the parliamentary elections that will begin on November 28. The armed forces today apologized for the deaths during recent clashes, promising an investigation into the events.

“If we were to give up leadership of the country, it would mean knocking down the last pillar holding up the state,” said General Mamdouh Shaheen, who was representing the SCAF. Reacting to the repeated requests of protesters in Tahrir Square, General Mokhtar Al-Mullah began by saying that “the groups who sing in Tahrir Square do not represent the country”. However, after several observations by journalists, he corrected his comments, saying “even if they are not the whole of Egypt, thee opinion of those protesters should be respected, considering that our principles include that the right of all citizens to protest must be guaranteed”. On the subject of elections, the president of the High Electoral Judiciary Commission, Abdel Moaaz, said that judges were ready to carry out the role of election supervisors as “they are the ones protecting justice in Egypt”. Speaking on behalf of the Interior Ministry, General Sayd Osman said that 55 parties had signed up to take part, with some of them grouped together in three large coalitions: the “Egyptian Block”, which features traditional left-wing and liberal parties; the “Revolutionary Council”, which includes the organisation of young people from the January 25 movement, and “Freedom and Justice”, which groups together the parties connected to the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which are also known as the “Islamic Alliance”.

Meanwhile, the situation in the symbolic centre of the Egyptian revolution has been calm throughout the day. Last night, the revolutionary movements and police reached a truce to put an end to the violence that has left more than 35 people dead since Saturday. Protesters have also said that they are planning a huge demonstration tomorrow, the last Friday before the beginning of parliamentary elections.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egyptian Revolution Relaunched: Live Updates of ‘Martyrs’ Friday’

A blow-by-blow account of Friday protests across Egypt, calling for a swift transfer of power from military rule to a civilian government after a week of bloody clashes

12:15 Marches are planned to converge on Tahrir from several locations across Cairo today after Friday prayers. Six will arrive from Imbaba, Omraneya, Haram, Zamalek, Mostafa Mahmoud in Mohandiseen, Qasr El-Aini.

12:00 The Friday sermon has begun in Tahrir Square. It is once again being delivered by Sheikh Mazhar Shaheen, dubbed the “Imam of the Revolution,” as he has been the go to Tahrir preacher since the 18-day uprising. Shaeen states: “The people demand the realisation of the revolution.” He congratulates the protesters for not giving up on their goals and persevering for the past ten months following the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak in February. The preacher also stresses that protesters should not take an anti-army stance. Rather they should direct their anger at the ruling SCAF. He also echoes calls for a national salvation government to administer the transitional period. Shaheen calls on Tahrir Square to announce a revolutionary government today. Sheikh Shaheen admonishes the ruling SCAF for ignoring protesters and their demands. Instead the military council talks to political parties alone. He demands that Egyptian state-TV give the revolutionaries their own channel in which only revolutionaries appear. He also demands the swift end of the military trials of civilians and calls on the gathered protesters to take an oath to protect their revolution.

11:30 People are preparing for prayers.

11:15 Potential presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei is on his way to Tahrir Square to join the million-man march. ElBaradei wrote on his twitter account that he will take part in Friday prayer and the funeral prayers for the 41 who were killed during last week’s clashes. Mohamed ElBaradei tweets: On my way to Tahrir to pay my respects to the martyrs. Their sacrifice will not be in vain. Together we shall prevail

11:00 Demonstrators are holding the images of those martyred during last week’s clashes and chanting against Tantawi and Mubarak. What’s more, there is an Islamist presence despite official boycotts by the Muslim Brotherhood, according to Ahram Online’s reporter in the square. Tahrir’s protesters have refused to allow any podiums to be erected in the square, insisting that podiums have often been used by various political forces to hijack the political will of the revolution.

10:30 Tens of thousands of protesters have been arriving in Tahrir Square since the early morning as “Martyrs’ Friday” kicks off. The already high turnout indicates that today’s protester turnout will exceed that of Tuesday’s successful million-man march. This is despite a call by the Muslim Brotherhood for an alternative million-man march in defence of Arab Jerusalem’s Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s most holy shrines. The Brotherhood’s march is to rally before the Azhar Mosque, but it is not yet known whether they have any intention of marching towards Tahrir. Today the protesters are demanding that the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forced (SCAF) — along with its head, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi — hand over executive power to a civilian authority. They are also calling for the formation of a civilian presidential counc il or a “national salvation” government with full executive powers to administer the transitional period.

Other demands include the immediate release of arrested activists, an end to military trials for civilians, a speedy investigation into the bloody events at Maspero and Tahrir, the prosecution of anyone involved in killing protesters and a radical restructuring of the interior ministry. Today’s demonstration follows a week of deadly clashes between protesters and security forces in which the latter bombarded Tahrir and its surrounding streets with its arsenal of teargas, rubber bullets and buckshot, leaving at least 41 dead and several thousand injured.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Journalists Sexually Assaulted Covering Egypt Unrest

Two female foreign journalists, including one working for French TV channel France 3, described harrowing sexual assaults carried out by crowds or police as they tried to cover demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy said she was sexually assaulted by police during hours under detention after taking part in protests on the sprawling square that has become a landmark of the Arab Spring.

“Besides beating me, the dogs of (central security forces) subjected me to the worst sexual assault ever,” Eltahawy said on her Twitter account. “5 or 6 surrounded me, groped and prodded my breasts, grabbed my genital area and I lost count how many hands tried to get into my trousers,” she said. “My left arm and right hand are broken (according) to x-rays,” she said, posting pictures of herself in casts.

Earlier Eltahawy, an award-winning journalist and public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues based in New York, tweeted that she had been released after having been beaten and arrested in the interior ministry building. Later, a French journalist working for public television channel France 3, said she had been violently beaten and sexually assaulted while covering the protests.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Morocco: Voting in Rabat’s Medina, ‘Backing Islamists’

High abstention rate feared

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, NOVEMBER 25 — AT 10:30 a.m. there was a small number of voters coming and going at the Tawhibe elementary school, which houses one of the five voting stations in Rabat’s Medina for the parliamentary elections. Women of all ages are seen, some wearing headscarves and other not, some with their children in tow and an elderly man who after voting handed his open ballot to the wrong people. In the classroom, amid the benches and the blackboard, are photos of King Mohammed VI, posters on French spelling, a transparent ballot box through which one can easily see who people have just voted for. In Section 33 there is a bit of confusion: the president, Dhamani Driss says that as of 10:20 a.m. 62 voters out of the 521 registered to do so had voted.

According to representatives of the list there were only 52, more women (28) than men (24). One of the representatives, while representing another one of the numerous lists, does not hide the fact that he backs the moderate Islamic Justice and Development Party (PJD), seen as one of the front runners. “There is a movement in the Arab world, you know,” ANSA was told by Hilal Oidrhiri Mostafa, “going in this direction. In Tunisia and Libya we still don’t know, but that is the way the situation is headed in Egypt, Yemen and Syria. In the PJD there are very highly educated men, and even Europeans and Americans want them to win to change the Arab world.” The PJD “is against secularity, of course, but not like in Saudi Arabia or Iran. That is something else altogether.” On the issue of whether women’s rights will be guaranteed, Hilal said that “this we do not know. We’ll see”.

Having a university degree in linguistics, he works as a tailor.

“I earn 500 dirham (about 50 euros) a week. Does this seem enough with three children to provide for?”, he said in reference to the work that many of the thirty parties on the list promised. “In any case,” he concluded, “33 parties are too many. Too much money is spent, while 4-5 would be enough.” Among the list representatives is a 20-year-old female student in her second year of Arab law, with head uncovered and far from the men’s bench. She seems to feel a bit out of place, and a male “colleague” responded in her stead that “we are here only because they pay us to do so, between 150 and 300 dirhams (15-30 euros) depending on the party. PAM (a party with links to the king, part of the G8 Coalition for Democracy) is the one that pays the most.” And while Morocco is staking everything on the turnout, outside life goes on like any other Friday of prayer. In the streets there are no election posters, and few — like the caretaker of the hotel we are staying in — seems to remember that today is election day.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Woman Wearing Veil Serving in Police

A complete “first”, press underlines

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, NOVEMBER 25 — A Tunisian policewoman has carried out her professional duties wearing a hijab underneath the regulation police beret. The woman was photographed outside the Interior Ministry, on Tunis’s central Bourguiba Avenue, the main thoroughfare in the centre of the city. The French-language newspaper Le Quotidien reports today that reactions from passers-by were varying, but all were respectful of what it called a “first, which did not leave people indifferent”. Some believe the episode to be linked to the election success of the Islamic Ennahda party. According to the Business News website, “the political and urban landscape in Tunisia is changing”, while policewoman’s bosses “did not object, as the uniform has been respected”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

New World War Has Begun, Says New Jewish Group Head

Euro-Asian Jewish Congress’s Vadim Shulman: Radical Islam is at war with Europe, Israel.

“World War III has begun,” according to the newly elected president of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) Vadim Shulman. The affluent businessman who holds Israeli, Ukrainian and Russian citizenship was voted in unanimously to helm the Jewish advocacy group by its General Council in Jerusalem on Thursday. During the meeting, a documentary he co-created called The Mosque of Notre Dame of Paris was screened. The film shows images of 9/11, the Beslan school terror attack and Hamas militants spliced with interviews of commentators speaking alarmingly about the peril of radical Islam. One of the animations in the film shows the spires of the famous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris replaced with minarets, another has a mosque built on the site of the former World Trade Center in New York City.

“The European countries are shaken by radicalism — not Islam the religion — and it is distorting countries,” Shulman told the council via satellite afterward. Shulman, who could not attend in person because he was observing the shiva mourning period for his mother, said the opening of Europe’s borders to immigrants resulted in it being forced to “abandon its traditions of thousands of years.” Vladimir Sinelnikov, the documentary’s co-creator, also spoke about the dystopia depicted in the film. “It was important that Shulman parti cipate,” said Vladimir Sinelnikov. He was not only a pocket but a coauthor and his heart is aching what is happening in the world today.”

The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress is an affiliate of the World Jewish Congress. Billionaire Alexander Machkevitch, who officially stepped down earlier this month, founded the body 10 years ago. After the meeting EAJC Secretary General Michael Chlenov distanced the organization from the movie screened at its council’s meeting. “We should distinguish between the EAJC and the movie,” he said. “One is the work of the head and another of the heart. What was demonstrated is the latter.” He added: “If you ask me, WWIII has not broken out, but the potential is there.”

Earlier in the day Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent a letter welcoming members of the EAJC to Jerusalem. “I’ve been impressed by the congress’s bolstering of Jewish identity among Jewish communities in Eastern Europe and Asia,” the Prime Minister’s Office said. “You’ve managed to tie these communities to Israel in a praise worthy manner.” Shulman was unanimously elected by the delegates from the FSU. His only opposing candidate, Vladimir Herzberg, a retired physicist from Beersheba who has launched several unsuccessful bids to head the Jewish organizations, received no votes. “To me, democracy is incompatible with money,” Herzberg told the council. “I didn’t pay anything to take part in these elections and even had I paid anything I wouldn’t get anything. If I were the best president I would do a better job.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Caroline Glick: Calling Things by Their Proper Names

Next month, America’s long campaign in Iraq will come to an end with the departure of the last US forces from the country.

Amazingly, the approaching withdrawal date has fomented little discussion in the US. Few have weighed in on the likely consequences of President Barack Obama’s decision to withdraw on the US’s hard won gains in that country.

After some six thousand Americans gave their lives in the struggle for Iraq and hundreds of billions of dollars were spent on the war, it is quite amazing that its conclusion is being met with disinterested yawns…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Fatal Gunfight at Saudi Funeral

Saudi Arabia today blamed a “foreign country” for sparking violence which has left four dead since the weekend.

Two people died today when bullets were fired at a funeral for a victim of the earlier violence. Saudi’s Interior Ministry said a gunfight broke out during protests by Shia Muslims in the eastern city of Qatif against the policies of the country’s Sunni rulers. Saudi Shias complain of systematic discrimination. Security forces claim they have been battling with groups of “unknown criminals” which the ministry today accused of working for another government — an apparent allegation that Iran was involved. The ministry claimed mobs were exchanging gunfire with police at security checkpoints and from inside houses and in alleys. Saudi Arabia has escaped the popular protests that have swept four Arab heads of state from power this year after offering a major package of incentives to its citizens. But small-scale protests have taken place in the Eastern Province, the centre of Saudi Arabia ‘s oil production facilities, where most of the kingdom’s Shia Muslims live. Egypt’s military rulers apologised today for the deaths of dozens of pro-democracy protesters and vowed to prosecute those responsible. It is the latest attempt to appease the tens of thousands who have taken to the streets demanding that the generals step down and allow democratic elections. Muslim clerics have negotiated a truce after five days of fierce street battles that have left nearly 40 dead.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Iran: Press Union Launched Against West’s ‘Cultural Onslaught’

A Press Union of Islamic World has been launched in Tehran to unite Muslim media against the ‘cultural onslaught’ from the West. The launch was made by Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Mohammad Hosseini in presence of journalists from 40 countries on October 29. Hosseini said that the Western media aimed at “creating division” and expressed hope the Press Union will “thwart the monopoly” of the Western news agencies. “Establishment of the Union will make the world understand better about Islam, and the voice of the Islamic world would be heard and be taken seriously,” Iran’s Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Mohammad Ja’far Mohammadzadeh, also said. The aim of preventing the Western onslaught includes publishing information on Islamic culture, cooperation and exchange of information and training journalists. Endorsing the launch late r that afternoon, Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stressed to the participants of the Press Union on the impartiality in news dissemination. President Ahmadinejad described the creation of the Union an effective step in media affairs and said that the media have an important role in shaping the character of individuals and societies as well as relations between nations. “Observing honesty and justice are the most important elements of news dissemination,” he told journalists from the 40 countries, which included The Muslim News Editor, Ahmed J Versi. They should have a “fair judgment even concerning enemies’ news and do not have right to be careless, dishonest and cruel,” he said.

Speaking in the presence of the President, Versi told the participants about his experience of working in journalism for the last 30 years, which included monitoring the way the British media and Western news agencies report on Islam, Muslims and Muslim countries. “What I have found is that the Western media has been biased long before the terrorist attacks in the USA on September 11 2001. “However, anti Islam and anti Muslim reporting increased considerably since then,” he said. The Muslim News Editor said that every media has its “own biases and agendas.” Within these biases, the Western media give generally balance reporting, except when it comes to reporting on Islam, Muslims and Muslim countries, they are “not as objective or balanced.” “They are generally Islamophobic in their reporting. It is worse when there is a terrorist attack, even if the terrorist attack has been perpe trated by a non Muslim,” he argued, citing the recent massacres carried out by a non-Muslim Norwegian in Oslo, when the media still tried to blame the killing of 77 people on a Muslim. “One British newspaper, even after it became known that he was a Norwegian, argued that he must be a convert to Islam,” he added. “When it comes to those Muslim countries which don’t have good relations with the West like Iran, the reporting is hostile and not balanced. When it comes to reporting about Israel and Palestine, most Western media take a pro-Israel line,” Versi told other journalists. “That is one of the main reason, for example, why we began publishing The Muslim News newspaper in the UK in February 1989. “We found that our voices were not heard in the media and reported mainly negative stories about British Muslims. There were hardly any positive stories of Muslims or their contributions to British society.”

He said that there was a need for an alternative voice, alternative news sources in the face of the biased news. However, he added that such alternative news sources will carry a huge responsibility to ensure it is accurate, objective and be “able to speak truth to power.” It is an enormous project to overcome the many challenges and required huge manpower and financial resources to be sustainable and viable. In a media driven age, Versi said the market is very competitive and it was very important to journalists to be “professional and be allowed freedom of expression and be a free and independent media to be credible.” He argued that the Union should also collaborate with the non-Muslim Western journalists and media institutions as there were many who are objective, understand the concerns of Muslims and write balanced reporting.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

World Can’t Do Without Iran Oil: Tehran Official

Iran’s oil and gas reserves are so vast they cannot be excluded from the world market as France is urging the West to do, Mehr news agency Friday quoted the National Iranian Oil Company head as saying. “Iran possesses massive oil and gas reserves… Thus ignoring Iran in oil and gas exchange will not be acceptable (by the international community),” said Ahmad Qalebani, who is also a deputy oil minister.

France’s announcement that it would soon stop importing oil from Iran was hollow, he added. “The National Iranian Oil Company does not export any crude oil to France that could be subject to sanctions,” he said. France on Thursday said it would stop buying Iranian oil. The foreign ministry said the move would be organised “in liaison with the European partners.”

France has called on other Western nations to put in place an embargo on Iran’s oil exports. According to the US Energy Information Agency, France imports the equivalent of 49,000 barrels of Iranian crude per day, a tiny fraction of Iran’s oil exports.

France’s move followed coordinated announcements by the United States, Britain and Canada on Monday saying they were slapping additional unilateral sanctions on Iran’s financial sector. The United States and Canada also unveiled extra sanctions targeting Iran’s petrochemical and oil and gas sectors. The United States already has no dealings with Iranian energy companies.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Bangladesh Begins Trial of Islamist for War Crimes

Armed group was said to be primarily engaged in genocide, murder, rape, arson, abduction and torture of civilians, mostly the minority Hindu community.

Some 40 years after the end of Bangladesh’s war of independence, trials began Monday of those suspected of committing war crimes during the conflict. Most of those charged are Islamist suspected of acting as henchmen of Pakistani army.

Delawar Hossain Sayedee, a Jamaat-e-Islami executive council member, is the first suspect to be face the court. He has been charged with 20 counts of war crimes.

Prosecutor Syed Rezaur Rahman began on Sunday reading 88 pages of a statement about the charges against Sayedee compiled by the International Crimes Tribunal.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Bukhari House Mosque Proposed

MUSLIMS planning a mosque in South Granville are linked to a group that has courted controversy for its extremist views. The Bukhari House Association, associated with Sheikh Feiz Mohammad a preacher denounced by mainstream Muslims for his extremist teachings has applied to build a mosque and education centre at an industrial site on Ferndell St. The association’s plans said the site would cater to a maximum of 500 people, although this capacity would only be reached on Fridays at noon. The application said of its plans: “The mosque serves as a place where Muslims can come together for Salat (prayer) as well as a centre for information, education, and dispute settlement . . . the mosque welcomes male and females to prayer.” The mosque would be open seven days each week and hold five daily prayer meetings. Bukhari House also runs an Islamic book store in Auburn that has been cited in the national press for controversial hardline material. Parramatta Council is accepting residents’ feedback on the plans as part of the development application procedure.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

African Muslim Leaders Denounce Identification of Violence With Islam

African Muslim leaders meeting in Ýstanbul have denounced the identification of violence with Muslims and Islam, stressing that Islam is a religion of peace, love and brotherhood and that associating it with terrorism cannot be accepted. Religious leaders from African countries came together in Ýstanbul on Thursday for the second Summit Meeting for Religious Leaders of Muslim Countries and Communities of the African Continent under the auspices of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs. Mehmet Görmez, the head of Directorate of Religious Affairs, said the image of Africa as seen through the history of colonization, the slave trade, internal wars and helplessness in general, hides the cultural and spiritual richness of the people of the continent. He said Africa should be referred to by its contributions to humanity in the fields of science and thought and that this is the reality of Africa. “In order to resolve the main problems of the continent and to provide the world with better relations with African societies, common efforts should be made by humanity in the direction of changing an incorrect image being disseminated,” he said as he read the final declaration of the summit.

The statement said it must be the top priority of everyone with a good conscience to stop the bloodshed between brothers and to reach a healthy solution to precarious circumstances experienced particularly in North African countries, the Middle East, the Arab world as well as the rest of the world, referring to the Arab Spring that has brought down at least three Arab leaders so far. In this process, he said the world is facing famine and drought on one hand and disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and floods on the other hand.

According to the declaration, conflicts and internal wars continuing in various regions of Africa and attacks directly targeting directly the innocent, mosques and prayer rooms, holy locations and historical artwork is actually a crime against humanity. Görmez said the greatest wish of Muslim leaders in Africa is an end to the conflicts and wars in these regions.

The declaration also urged that all kinds of religious, sectarian and ideological fanaticism that prevent humanitarian aid from reaching Africa be censured and assistance be extended to Africa in combating such problems such as famine, poverty, scarcity, racism, malignant diseases, unequal access to education and limitations on the freedom of belief. Muslim leaders seemed to be referring to Somalia, where militant group al-Shabaab controls most of country except for the capital of Mogadishu and has expelled aid groups despite raging famine in the country. The final declaration also urged the establishment of radio and TV stations in the countries of Africa for the purpose of broadcasting education and cultural information regarding Islam. The statement explained that such services would contribute to the education of Muslims on the continent and would raise awareness of incorrect religious and cultural practices.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Two French Geologists Kidnapped in Mali on Niger Border

(AGI) Bamako — An armed gang has kidnapped two French geologists in Mali, on the border with Niger. According to the authorities, a group of seven armed men took the two from their hotel in the village of Hombori and headed north. This kidnapping takes to six the total of French hostages held in the Sahel region.

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

Two French Nationals Kidnapped in Mali

A gang kidnapped two French nationals at gunpoint from their hotel in the Malian desert on Thursday, local security sources said, the latest in a string of abductions of foreigners in the troubled region. The two geologists were seized from their hotel in the eastern village of Hombori near the border with Niger, in an assault bearing the hallmark of Al-Qaeda linked Islamist militants.

A Hombori municipality source said seven armed men entered the hotel at about 1am (0100 GMT) on Thursday and made off with their hostages to the north of the country, a hotbed of Al-Qaeda militants. Later on French radio the Frenchmen’s driver described the abduction. “They (kidnappers) were armed to the teeth. They quickly attacked the guards and then they came towards me pointing their guns, their Kalashnikovs,” the driver identified only as Mamadou told radio station Europe 1. “They attacked me, then they broke down the door of the hotel to get inside” and seized the Frenchmen, he said.

In Paris, French foreign minister Alain Juppé confirmed that the men had been taken “in circumstances that were not yet clear”. The Frenchmen “had not bothered to alert the embassy or consulate” in Mali’s capital Bamako to their presence, a French diplomatic source added. The latest kidnap brings to six the number of French hostages in the Sahel area, with the group known as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) still holding four nationals abducted in Niger in September 2010.

Northern Mali is home to a number of AQIM bases used to launch attacks and kidnappings in the Sahel region on the southern side of the Sahara that includes parts of Mali, Algeria, Niger and Mauritania. The two geologists were employed by a cement works in the region owned by the Malian firm Mande Construction Immobiliere and funded by the World Bank, according to a diplomatic source. They were seized a day after a former French military official involved in efforts to free the hostages in Niger was shot and wounded in the shoulder.

An Italian and two Spaniards kidnapped in Algeria in October are also believed to be held by AQIM, although the group has not claimed responsibility.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Trinidad & Tobago: Muslim Academics Among 12 Arrested

Twelve people are being held in police custody in connection with an alleged assassination attempt of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and three of her Cabinet Ministers — Attorney General Anand Ramlogan; Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal and Local Government Minister Chandresh Sharma. The suspects were arrested at different times between Monday and yesterday by police and Defence Force officers. The men were reportedly being transferred among police stations in north Trinidad, including Belmont, Woodbrook, Tunapuna, Barataria and the Central Police Station, St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain. Among the men is the son of a deceased contractor of east Trinidad. A 48-year-old man of Diego Martin, with links in Guyana, reportedly was arrested by officers of the Special Branch officers as his home on Wednesday night. The man is said to have been a former member of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen and involved in the 1990 attempted coup. He also was found not gu ilty of a double murder which occurred at a popular nightspot in west Trinidad, several years ago. Two former soldiers, both dishonourably discharged from the Defence Force a few years ago, were arrested during police raids at their home on Tuesday night. Two Muslim academics, of Princes Town, also were said to be arrested by police. The men are said to have studied in Saudi Arabia and spent time in the Middle East. A police sergeant, with over 25 years’ experience, was also arrested while on duty at a police station in Port-of-Spain.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Trinidad & Tobago: Central Muslims Protest ‘Branding’

Muslims in central Trinidad say they are being branded as terrorists after reports surfaced that an Islamic organisation in the area is linked to an alleged assassination plot involving Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and other Cabinet Ministers. At the Masjid-ul-Muttaqeen mosque, Munroe Road, Cunupia, Maulana Sheraz Ali said more than 15 Muslim organisations were directly affected by the report. “Since 9/11 the Muslim community has faced a lot of pressure and now we have become immune to the stigma,” Ali said. Saying he was not disputing the validity of the assassination plot, Ali explained: “I really feel the authorities could have narrowed it down a little more. “They leave everybody, who is Muslim, open for all kinds of suspicion. They should have been more precise instead of labelling everybody. There are so much Muslim groups in Central who are affected by this.” Ali added that while filling fuel at a service station yesterday, the pump attendant told him that Muslims were being treated unfairly. He added: “Everybody is looking at us as criminals but we have nothing to do with the threat on the Prime Minister. I am sure they would not have treated other religious groups like that.” Meanwhile, head of the Montrose Muslim Association, Imam Hamza Mohammad, said he too experienced stereotyping yesterday. He said: “This will leave people to wonder if we are involved. Muslims will become targets now and fingers will be pointed at us. It is a bad image for Muslims. “While driving through the streets people were saying ‘all you want to assassinate the Prime Minister, boy.’ It really is unfortunate.” Mohammad also said he believed the plot was a hoax, geared at continuing the state of emergency. The imam added he already had bought goods for a night- time flea market for Christmas and if the state of emergency continued, then his business would be affected. Other major Muslim organisations opera ting in central Trinidad are the ASJA Masjid, Longdenville Muslim Group, Enterprise Community Majid, Warrenville Jama Mosque, Tabligh Jamad, Kelly Village Islamic Centre, the Islamic Missionsaries Guild, St Helena, and the Darul Uloom.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Belgium’s Right Wing Calls on Turks to Return

Belgium’s right-wing conservatives are campaigning to fund the return of Turkish migrants living in the city of Ghent to Turkey with the ironic slogan “Emirdagin sana ihtiyaci var” (Emirdag needs you). The Vlaams Belang party’s campaign attempts to convince the Turks in Ghent, many of whom were from the city of Emirdag in the Afyonkarahisar province of Turkey, to return to their hometown. “There are a lot of Turks who are not happy here,” Johan Deckmyn, Vlaams Belang parliamentary member, told Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. “You cannot tell these people to return if you do not have an initiative for them.”

He said their campaign addressed Turks who could not adapt to Belgian culture and those who wanted to return to Turkey even though they had emigrated. Pointing to many failed government projects such as the attempt to send funds to African nations, Deckmyn said funds could be used for their project instead. The Turkish community in Ghent called the project racist, but Deckmyn denied the claims: “I am not a racist. I am not anti-Turk. I just want to live in a country that is still my country.” The parliamentary member complained the Turkish population in Ghent was making the city “Turkish.”

“Some parts of Ghent are becoming Turkish. My native neighborhood is becoming Turkish. I don’t recognize it anymore,” Deckmyn said about the change of shop names in the city. “I’m sure Turks would not like to have Swedish quarters in Ankara.” The campaign used Turkey’s economic growth as a reason for Turks to return to Turkey. Deckmyn said the party was against Turkey’s membership to the European Union although they welcomed economic relations between the two parties.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU a Closed Door for Refugees

Dagens Nyheter, 21 November 2011

“Most EU countries reject refugees,” writes Dagens Nyheter in a report on member state policies on asylum seekers. Ten countries take in 90% of the 100,000 asylum seekers who knock on the doors of the EU every year, notes the Swedish daily.

And as the European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström points out in the columns of the newspaper, that means that the other 17 member states should be making greater efforts, and that we are nowhere near the the harmonisation of asylum policy the Commission aimed to establish by 2012.

According to an expert quoted by the daily, the economic crisis has proved to be a further obstacle to harmonisation: certain countries with more “open” policies fear that they will be obliged to take on more applications, while others, like Greece, have simply refused to welcome any further asylum seekers. Then, he adds, there is a third group of countries like Finland and the Netherlands, where the influence of right-wing populist parties has reduced the number of applications that are accepted.

The Commissioner is critical of Greece, which was the point of entry into the EU for 80,000 people over the last two years, and where “conditions for refugees fall short of what is humanly acceptable.” This observation is borne out by a feature report on the Tychero refugee centre, which is close to the Turkish border.

In order to establish a fairer system for distributing the burden of welcoming asylum seekers, Cecilia Malmström is proposing, along with other measures, to provide temporary assistance to countries with the highest in-flows of migrants. Her proposals will be on the agenda for discussion at the EU’s 13-December Council of Ministers meeting.

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

Culture Wars

Norway: Church Official Supports School Segregation

A former Christian Democratic Party member of Oslo’s education committee has said he supports the segregation of “non-whites” from Norwegians in the capital’s schools. Oslo’s new church warden, Robert Wright, said it was wrong of Oslo’s current education committee to reverse Bjerke school’s decision to put immigrants in separate classes. On Thursday, the school announced it would correct “a mistake” it made when it put minorities from local city neighbourhoods into different classes than ethnic Norwegians.

“In my view it was a big mistake by the city schools committee to stop the grouping of pupils by ethnic background,” Wright told newspaper Dagsavisen. Wright, whose son attends the city’s Stovner school, said: “I see how the white pupils are disappearing.”

He said many ethnic Norwegian parents were upset by the large numbers of visible minorities at Bjerke and other schools. He wrote a letter of support to Bjerke school staff after the segregation case went public. He also slammed city education commissioner Torger Ødegaard, who he accused of failing to recognize that many pupils with immigrant backgrounds were uninterested in integrating.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Arabist Snobs

Is knowledge of Arabic necessary to write about Arabs or make policy toward them? Yes, sniff some of those who have learned the language, known as Arabists.

Antony T. Sullivan, for example, pulls rank in the journal Historically Speaking. Critiquing an article, “The Military Roots of Islam,” by two non-Arabists, George Nafziger and Mark Walton, he writes: “As one who believes that foreign language competence and accurate rendition of foreign words and concepts into English are important,” — note Sullivan’s puffed-up sense of self — “I must confess to considerable disappointment in the article.” And what devastating mistake did those authors make to undermine their thesis? Did they misunderstand jihad (Islamic holy war)? No, something much worse:

Most egregiously, the authors refer more than once to the Muslim direction of prayer as the qilbah. This is incorrect: Nafziger and Walton have reversed the second and third consonants of the Arabic word (root: qaaf-baa-laam). The correct word is qibla (accent on the first syllable), and in English that word is most commonly written with the spelling indicated. The system of transliteration recommended by the International Journal of Middle East Studies, the leading American scholarly journal in the field, holds that there is no reason to add an ‘h’ to the final letter (taa marbuuta) of such words as qibla.

Sullivan concludes on an even more pompous note: “It is unfortunate that those who do not have a firm command of Arabic opt to write on topics that demand linguistic competence. But this is unfortunately all too common in the times in which we live.

But Nafziger-Walton correctly understand that war is “the principal process by which Islam spread throughout the world,” while Sullivan, despite his intimacy with taa marbuutas, propagates Islamist misinformation (“terrorism and Jihad are not identical twins but historic enemies”). His error fits a larger Arabist deceit, hiding the true meaning of jihad and pretending that it means self improvement rather than offensive warfare.

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Terrorist War, Islamist Peace

Obama ignores the nonviolent extremists

The United States is winning the war on terrorism. Unfortunately, Islamic extremists are winning the peace. A CBS News poll released last week revealed that just as many Americans think the United States and its allies are winning the war against terrorism as think the terrorists are winning — 42 percent in both cases.

It is hard to see how the coalition could be losing. Al Qaeda and other Islamic terror groups are mere shadows of what they were 10 years ago. The United States has maintained the initiative and kept the bad guys on the run. Where they used to have a global network to raise money, recruit, train and deploy terrorists on deadly missions against western interests, now their network is in ruins and they have to spend most of their time worrying about how to stay alive. The death of Osama bin Laden demonstrated that even their most important leaders are not safe from American justice…

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

UN Extreme Weather Report Triggers Storm of Protest

In mid-November, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a special report on extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, floods and heat waves. But its emphasis on the uncertainty of its predictions has enraged scientists and activists alike, just days before the UN Climage Change Conference in Durban.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Will We Ever See Solar Powered Cars on the Road?

by Tom Murphy

If you like the sun, and you like cars, then I’m guessing you’d love to have a solar-powered car, right? This trick works well for chocolate and peanut butter, but not so well for garlic bread and strawberries. So how compatible are cars with solar energy? Do we relish the combination or spit it out? Let’s throw the two together, mix with math, and see what happens.

What Are Our Options?

Short of some solar-to-liquid-fuel breakthrough—which I dearly hope can be realized, and described near the end of a recent post—we’re talking electric cars here. This is great, since electric drive trains can be marvellously efficient (ballpark 85—90%), and immediately permit the clever scheme of regenerative braking.

Obviously there is a battery involved as a power broker, and this battery can be charged (at perhaps 90% efficiency) via:

  • on-board internal combustion engine fueled by gasoline or equivalent;
  • utility electricity;
  • a fixed solar installation;
  • on-board solar panels.

Only the final two options constitute what I am calling a solar-powered car, ignoring the caveat that hydro, wind, and even fossil fuels are ultimately forms of solar energy. The last item on the list is the dream situation: no reliance on external factors other than weather. This suits the independent American spirit nicely. And clearly it’s possible because there is an annual race across the Australian desert for 100% on-board solar powered cars. Do such successful demonstrations today mean that widespread use of solar cars is just around the corner?


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