Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20111216

Financial Crisis
»Europe’s Seven Deadly Sins (1/2)
»Europe’s Seven Deadly Sins (2/2)
»European Markets Slip Into Red After Downgrades for Barclays, Goldman and Four More Global Banking Giants
»IMF Chief Warns of 1930s-Style Depression
»IMF Chief Warns of New Great Depression
»Italy: Monti Says Will Fight Lobbies
»Major European Banks Downgraded by Fitch
»Spain Appears to be a Safer Bet for Investors Than Italy
»Sweden Able to Lend 100bn Kroner to IMF to Solve Euro Crisis
»Barry Bonds Avoids Prison Time for Giving Evasive Testimony
»Good Luck, Newt Gingrich. You’ll Need it
»Hey, Stop This Dangerous Candidate! He’s Told the Truth!
»Let’s Face it: It’s the Radical Right, Not Islam, That is the Greatest Threat to the American Way
»U.S. Mosques: Repositories of Muslim Brotherhood Literature and Preachers
Europe and the EU
»Belgium: Grenade Attack Outside Courthouse Linked to Sentence in Honor Killing Case
»Burned for Spoiling Beer: Germany Rehabilitates Its Persecuted ‘Witches’
»Christopher Hitchens, Prolific Columnist, Is Dead at 62
»France: ‘Islam Compatible With Democracy’ — Juppé
»Independent Scotland May Turn to the Nordic Nations
»Italy Braces for Gales and Snowfalls in North
»Italy: Cabinet Approves Measures to Reduce Prison Overcrowding
»Netherlands: Catholic Abuse Scandal: Bishops Filled With Shame and Sorrow
»Norway: Labour Party Looks to Slash Oslo Immigrant Dominance
»Pope Benedict XVI Supports Teacher Accused of Showing Graphic Images of Apocalypse
»Report Reveals Internet Divide Across EU
»Report Finds Thousands of Abuse Cases in Dutch Catholic Church
»Swedish Mosque Starts ‘Halal’ Dating Site
»UK: Attack on Rhea Page
»UK: Do Books “Prime People for Terrorism”?
»UK: East London Mosque: Have a Happy Extremist Christmas
»UK: Home Office Responds on EDL Threat
»UK: Minehead Middle School Pupils’ Muslim Visit
»UK: Terrorists’ Favourite Bookseller Guilty
»UK: Time to Resign, Aidan Burley
»Bosnia: Serb Leader Says Muslim ‘Arrogance’ To Blame for Stalemate
North Africa
»Egypt: Where Did Nick Kristof Get the Idea That the Muslim Brotherhood is Moderate?
»France Flatters Islamists: Islam, Democracy Not Incompatible
»Frustration Threatens to Unleash Second Libyan Revolution
»Italy: Friendship Treaty With Libya Reactivated
Israel and the Palestinians
»Caroline Glick: Violent Rioters and Media Goons
»Iceland Formally Recognizes Palestinian State
Middle East
»Diana West: Iraq Hawks Leave a Door Open That Should be Slammed Shut
»Did Iran Capture US Drone by Hacking Its GPS Signal?
»Internet: Turkey: 57% of Population Don’t Use the Web, Study
»Saudi Arabia Executes 73rd Victim of Sharia Laws
»UAE: Zayed University Offers Master’s in Islamic Endowment
»EU Companies at Risk of ‘Raiders’ In Ukraine
»Radioactive Material Seized at Moscow Airport
»Russia Officially Admitted to WTO
»State-Sanctioned Theft: A Paradise for Car Thieves in Ukraine
South Asia
»Taliban Murder British Doctor Who Saved 2,000 Afghans
Far East
»Inside Wukan: The Chinese Village That Fought Back
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Nigeria: Muslim Lawyers Want Sharia Law in Southern States
»South Africa’s ANC to Help Robert Mugabe Retain Power
Culture Wars
»Would Muslims Praying in the Halls be Suspended?
»Democracy May Depend on the Ignorant

Financial Crisis

Europe’s Seven Deadly Sins (1/2)

Die Zeit, Hamburg

The politicians of Europe love to flourish the flag of Community togetherness. But in their day-to-day politicking they give the lie to their supposed virtues. Die Zeit has compiled a cheat-sheet of national egotisms that are harming the Community…

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

Europe’s Seven Deadly Sins (2/2)

Die Zeit, Hamburg

The politicians of Europe love to flourish the flag of Community togetherness. But in their day-to-day politicking they give the lie to their supposed virtues. The second part of Die Zeit’s list of national egotisms that are harming the Community…

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

European Markets Slip Into Red After Downgrades for Barclays, Goldman and Four More Global Banking Giants

European markets slipped into the red this afternoon as traders digested a downgrade for six global banking giants, including Barclays.

The FTSE 100 had spent the whole day trading in positive territory before finally succumbing to persistent fears surrounding the debt crisis, and closing 13.5 points down to 5,387.3.

Credit agency Fitch dropped Barclays from an ‘AA—’ rating to an ‘A’, while US giants Goldman Sachs and Bank of America were also downgraded.

The German and French markets closed 0.5-0.8 per cent down after Fitch also cut its ratings for France’s BNP Paribas, Germany’s Deutsche Bank and Switzerland’s Credit Suisse.

The mass downgrade heightened fears of a new credit crunch as the global banking system struggles to deal with massive levels of debt.

Nevertheless, Barclays shares were unruffled by the news and closed 2.1p up at 171.6p.

Fitch said the banks were ‘particularly sensitive to the increased challenges the financial markets face’. It added that the downgrades reflected challenges faced by the sector as a whole.

The wider market took the downgrades in its stride for most of the day, but the FTSE 100 index 13.5 points ahead at 5,387.3.

London shares were helped by positive sentiment in the U.S. and Asia overnight after a fall in U.S. unemployment, a stronger-than-expected rise in regional factory activity and better-than-forecast results from FedEx Corp.

‘There’s a growing sentiment that the European Central Bank is doing quite a good job and is ready to buy more bonds if needed, preventing stocks from a complete meltdown,’ said David Thebault, head of quantitative sales trading at Global Equities.

‘But at the same time, we have this sword of Damocles of rating downgrades waiting to happen, so it’s hard to go long.’

Standard & Poor’s recently warned that it could next week downgrade some or all of the 15 eurozone countries it has on review…

[Return to headlines]

IMF Chief Warns of 1930s-Style Depression

IMF head Christine Lagarde, speaking in Washington, said the world economic outlook is “quite gloomy” and warned that failure to act collectively could lead to a 1930s-style slump.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

IMF Chief Warns of New Great Depression

International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde has warned the Great Depression of the 1930s may repeat itself unless the EU pulls together and gets foreign help. Fresh unemployment statistics added to the gloom by highlighting the social cost of austerity. “If the international community does not work together, the risk from an economic point of view is that of retraction, rising protectionism, isolation. This is exactly the description of what happened in the Thirties and what followed is not something we are looking forward to,” Lagarde said in a speech delivered to the US State Department on Thursday (15 December).

She said eurozone countries “obviously” need to make “adjustments” in order to overcome the debt crisis, but also appealed to non-European donors, just one day after the US Federal Reserve said it had no plans in contributing to a eurozone bail-out.

“It is really that Gordian Knot that needs to be cracked, that needs to be addressed as collectively as possible, starting with those at the centre but with the support of the international community probably channelled through the IMF,” Lagarde said, in reference to a pledge by all EU leaders except Britain to boost their contribution to the IMF by a total of €200 billion and also look for non-EU aid.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Monti Says Will Fight Lobbies

‘Now for growth,’ says PM as austerity package nears approval

(ANSA) — Rome, December 15 — Premier Mario Monti said Thursday he would fight corporate lobbies after being criticised for removing moves to free up pharmacies and taxis from an austerity bill being pushed through parliament.

“I am determined,” the former EU commissioner said, also denying claims the package unfairly targets the tax-paying middle class who have been hit by previous cuts.

“It’s not true that the usual suspects will pay. New suspects will pay,” said Monti, who insisted that Italy would be “much worse off” without the 30-billion-euro package aimed at restoring market confidence in Italy’s ability to pay down its huge debt.

Monti said the government would move onto growth-boosting measures after the austerity bill is passed by a confidence vote on Friday. He was echoed by Industry Minister Corrado Passera who said “we will do almost everything we had in mind” to stoke growth in the eurozone’s worst-performing economy.

Monti was appointed last month at the head of an emergency technocratic executive tasked with easing the debt crisis that has pushed Italian bond yields to levels at which other countries have sought bailouts.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Major European Banks Downgraded by Fitch

US ratings agency Fitch has lowered the credit ratings for some of Europe’s — and the world’s — biggest banks including Germany’s Deutsche Bank. Fitch points “to the increased challenges the financial markets.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain Appears to be a Safer Bet for Investors Than Italy

While investors warm up to Spain, they remain cool to Italy. On Thursday, Spain sold twice as many bonds than planned, paying two percentage points less to borrow than Italy a day earlier.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden Able to Lend 100bn Kroner to IMF to Solve Euro Crisis

Swedish Riksbank governor Stefan Ingves said Thursday Sweden is able to lend up to 100 bn Swedish kroner (€11bn) to the IMF to help solve the euro crisis. The Riksbank is now set to draft proposals for the parliament for it to make a final decision on the sum.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Barry Bonds Avoids Prison Time for Giving Evasive Testimony

Barry Bonds, baseball’s home run champion, avoided a prison term Friday when Judge Susan Illston sentenced him to 30 days of house arrest, 2 years of probation, 250 hours of community service with youth groups and a $4,000 fine for providing evasive testimony to a federal grand jury eight years ago.

Bonds’s lawyer told the judge that there would be an appeal and that Bonds would not admit guilt.

Bonds was convicted April 13 by a jury that listened to three weeks of often-graphic testimony about his suspected use of performance-enhancing drugs. It found him guilty on one of the four counts in the case, agreeing that he had obstructed justice by giving evasive answers to a grand jury in 2003 when asked if his former personal trainer Greg Anderson had ever injected him.

[Return to headlines]

Good Luck, Newt Gingrich. You’ll Need it

by Emanuele Ottolenghi

President Newt Gingrich will not be inclined to favour the demands of an invented people, as he defined the Palestinians in recent remarks. President Mitt Romney will make Israel his first foreign trip and President Barack Obama had a big Chanucah dinner. Every four years, this ritual repeats itself — Republicans think Jews may be persuaded to vote for their candidate and go out of their way to prove their credentials. Democrats know Jews will vote for their candidate but still go out of their way lest there will be significant defections.

There are reasons why, when all is said and done, Jews have historically voted for the Democratic party. These were eloquently dissected in a recent book by Norman Podhoretz, Why are Jews liberals? It stands to no reason that US Jews, who tend to be upper-middle income, family-oriented and pro-Israel, should lean so overwhelmingly towards the left wing of the Democratic party. And yet they do.

Jews have voted consistently for Democratic candidates when US non-Jews with comparable socio-economic backgrounds swung to Republicans and, even in years of sweeping Republican triumphs, like in Ronald Reagan’s 1984 landslide, Jewish defection from the Democrats was relatively low. This year, Republicans think it will go differently. And it may well do. After all, even as younger Jews are less sanguine about Israel than their parents and grandparents, disaffection with Obama’s foreign policy is high. So is disaffection with the economy. Equally troubling for many Jews is the slide of the left wing of the Democratic Party in the direction of European progressives — which can be best characterised as “Israel is always wrong” — especially on US campuses. Besides, while many younger Jews have become lukewarm towards Israel, the growing Orthodox community is swinging the Jewish vote to the right, and as they continue to grow and non-Orthodox US Jews continue to diminish through assimilation and Jewish illiteracy, the balance within the Jewish community will become gradually more favourable to Republicans. That is why Republicans, whose historic insularity from Israel and Jewish concerns is by now largely a thing of the past, think they have a chance.

Except that they are wrong.

Convincing a mostly liberal Jewish electorate to vote Republican is harder than changing the course of the earth around the sun — because even those among them who still care about Israel think that being Jewish is the equivalent of subscribing to progressive social causes and continue to rank the defence of reproductive rights and the crusade for gay marriage as more important than the Israel issue. Which is why all Obama had to do was organise a party and light a candle.

Emanuele Ottolenghi is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Hey, Stop This Dangerous Candidate! He’s Told the Truth!

US presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich (whose Lazarus-like trajectory to the Republican nomination I flagged up here a month ago) has recently demonstrated yet again Melanie’s First Rule of Modern Political Discourse — the more obvious the truth that you utter, the more explosive and abusive the reaction. For Gingrich said the Palestinian Arabs were ‘an invented people’ — and the world promptly started hurling execrations at him, as if such a statement proved beyond doubt that Gingrich was indeed a dangerously extreme individual who, when it came to political positioning, was just off the graph altogether. So just what did he say? This:

‘ “Remember, there was no Palestine as a state — (it was) part of the Ottoman Empire. I think we have an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs and historically part of the Arab community and they had the chance to go many places…” ‘

But of course, he is absolutely correct. As Elder of Ziyon pointed out, the Arabs who lived in Palestine were a disconnected bunch of tribes who had nothing in common with each other except that they were Arabs. They never were, are not and never will be a Palestinian people (the claim that they are now just because they say they are is risible and would be dismissed out of hand if applied to any other self-defined grouping). There is not and never has been any ‘Palestinian’ Arab culture, language, religion or national identity separate from that of the wider Arab nation. ‘Palestinianism’ was invented solely to destroy Israel. The one and only characteristic of this spurious ‘national’ identity is the aim of destroying another — authentic — national identity.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Let’s Face it: It’s the Radical Right, Not Islam, That is the Greatest Threat to the American Way

Projection is the name of the game.

They often use soft namesakes like “family” and “freedom” to give the impression of docility, and they inundate their websites and blogs with American flags and eagles to give the impression that they are the tried and true patriotic Americans who are best poised to speak for the majority.

They are not the majority, but they are not less than 1 percent either. They are in the millions, have access to billions of dollars, and have sufficiently organized at both the grassroots level and onas well as the internet in recent years to start to flex some muscle. (It is often stated that if fascism were to ever come to America, it would be wrapped in the US flag and bearing a cross.)

There is a ray of light. More Americans are beginning to wake up to the Islamophobia disease and the attempts at divergence from the real threat to our freedoms and democracy…

           — Hat tip: Van Grungy[Return to headlines]

U.S. Mosques: Repositories of Muslim Brotherhood Literature and Preachers

Study Shows U.S. Mosques Are Repositories of Muslim Brotherhood Literature and Preachers

Washington, D.C., December 14, 2011 - Perspectives on Terrorism, recently released a comprehensive study on violence-advocating texts in American mosques titled Sharia Adherence Mosque Survey: Correlations between Sharia Adherence and Violent Dogma in U.S. Mosques. The Shariah Adherence Mosque Survey found that 80% of U.S. mosques provide their worshippers with jihad-style literature promoting the use of violence against non-believers and that the imams in those mosques expressly promote that literature.

The study also found that when a mosque imam or its worshippers were “sharia-adherent,” as measured by certain behaviors in conformity with Islamic law, the mosque was more likely to provide this violent literature and the imam was more likely to promote it. Perspectives on Terrorism is a scholarly, peer-reviewed international journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative (TRI), a global initiative that seeks to support the international community of terrorism researchers and scholars through the facilitation of collaborative projects and cooperative initiatives. TRI was established in 2007 by scholars from several disciplines in order to provide the global research community with a common tool than can empower them and extend the impact of each participant’s research activities.

The research originally was published in the summer 2011 edition of Middle East Quarterly (MEQ) under the title Shari’a and Violence in American Mosques. The Middle East Quarterly is an academic, peer-reviewed journal which specializes on Middle East regional issues. Due to the ground-breaking nature of the study, which brings a rigorous empirical methodology to the question of home-grown jihadists, MEQ granted permission to Perspectives on Terrorism to publish a more extensive analysis of the study’s conception, methodology, and results. The new publication includes additional material, charts and graphs.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Belgium: Grenade Attack Outside Courthouse Linked to Sentence in Honor Killing Case

Not many details as of yet, but the Telegraph notes a link to an honor killing case that could indicate that this was yet another act of violence by Misunderstanders of the Religion of Peace. “Belgium grenade attack leaves at least two dead,” from the Telegraph, December 13 (thanks to Mick):

At least one person was killed and up to 47 others wounded Tuesday when up to four grenades exploded outside the main courthouse in the eastern Belgian city of Liege.

The attack took place around noon on Saint-Lambert square, home to the town’s courthouse and located near a busy Christmas market, Belga news agency said.

A two-year-old child is reportedly fighting for life in hospital. Six other victims are said to be gravely injured.

One of two or more assailants threw stun grenades into the courthouse while another was hurled at a bus shelter, RTL-TV1 said.

Shots were fired across the square by gunmen posted on the rooftop of a bakery shop, with further shots heard later from across town…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Burned for Spoiling Beer: Germany Rehabilitates Its Persecuted ‘Witches’

Tortured and burned at the stake by the tens of thousands, Germany’s alleged witches have been largely forgotten. But thanks to efforts by a small group of activists, a number of German cities have begun absolving women, men and children who were wrongly accused of causing plagues, storms and bad harvests.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Christopher Hitchens, Prolific Columnist, Is Dead at 62

Christopher Hitchens, a slashing polemicist in the tradition of Thomas Paine and George Orwell who trained his sights on targets as various as Henry Kissinger, the British monarchy and Mother Teresa, wrote a best-seller attacking religious belief, and dismayed his former comrades on the left by enthusiastically supporting the American-led war in Iraq, died Thursday at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He was 62.

The cause was pneumonia, a complication of esophageal cancer, said the magazine Vanity Fair, which announced the death. In recent days Mr. Hitchens had stopped treatment and entered hospice care at the Houston hospital. He learned he had cancer while on a publicity tour in 2010 for his memoir, “Hitch-22,” and began writing and, on television, speaking about his illness frequently.

“In whatever kind of a ‘race’ life may be, I have very abruptly become a finalist,” Mr. Hitchens wrote in Vanity Fair, for which he was a contributing editor.

[Return to headlines]

France: ‘Islam Compatible With Democracy’ — Juppé

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé argued on Thursday that Islam and democracy are not incompatible, insisting that the Arab Spring, which has already toppled three dictators, should open the way to political pluralism.

“I refuse to accept the idea that Islam and democracy are incompatible and that the Arab people only have a choice between dictatorship and fundamentalism,” Juppé told hundreds of students at the University of Tripoli. “It has been our desire to establish contacts and dialogue with all the actors of the Arab Spring, without exception, on the condition that they respect the rules of the democratic game, principal among which are the renunciation of violence, the rights of men and women, and respect for minorities. “We cannot refuse to people who have been so long condemned to silence the right to express their choices.

In Tunisia, the first Arab country to overthrow its dictatorship, the Islamist Ennahda party came out on top in October parliamentary elections. Islamists are also taking the lead in polls now underway in Egypt and gaining prominence in Libya. On Wednesday, during a press conference with Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib, Juppé declared that it was up to the Libyan people to “build democracy as they see fit” following the overthrow of strongman Moamer Kadhafi.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Independent Scotland May Turn to the Nordic Nations

Northern nation looks to its neighbours for inspiration and effective social welfare model

Existing on the fringes of a fragile union, they fish, harvest energy from the sea, air and ground, and call their children ‘bairns’ — the Scots seem to have a lot in common with Scandinavians. And yet their recent history has seen them develop a fractious relationship with England to the south, rather than with their one-time colonisers from the north and east.

And their gaze may be starting to shift. Last week the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) revealed that if Scotland gained full independence from the United Kingdom, they would look to their Nordic neighbours for “partnerships, trade and key defence relationships, rather than continuing to focus on Western Europe and the Commonwealth, as the UK does now”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy Braces for Gales and Snowfalls in North

Winds up to 100km forecast in Liguria

(ANSA) — Rome, December 15 — Italy is bracing for strong winds, heavy rain and snowfalls in the Alps in the first bout of severe winter weather on Friday.

In the northwest region of Liguria, the Civil Protection Department has warned people to avoid activities on the water and near the coast as high seas and winds up to 100 km per hour are expected in some areas.

Authorities have also issued a weather alert in Tuscany amid forecasts of heavy rain, gale-force winds and stormy seas there from midnight Thursday to midday Saturday.

Up to 50 cm of snow is expected to fall in the Alps at a height above 800 to 1000 metres, while snowfalls are also expected at lower altitudes in Abruzzo and Molise.

A weather warning has also been issued in the Campania region surrounding Naples urging maritime officials and boat captains to exercise great caution in commercial ports and tourist areas.

More than 20 people were killed in incidents of extreme weather in Italy in November and many were in the northwestern region of Liguria.

The region’s Cinque Terre coastal area, which is popular with Italian and international tourists, was particularly hard hit and is slowly pulling itself back together after the heavy rain and flooding.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Cabinet Approves Measures to Reduce Prison Overcrowding

(AGI) Rome — The cabinet has approved a package of measures to combat the overcrowding of prisons. These include the possible extension of house arrest. It also approved measures for criminal and civil trials, which were on the agenda.

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

Netherlands: Catholic Abuse Scandal: Bishops Filled With Shame and Sorrow

The findings of the Deetman commission on the sexual abuse of minors within the Catholic church are shaming and shocking, bishops said on Friday.

In a statement, Catholic bishops and officials united in the Conference of Dutch religious orders, said they are ‘shocked’ by the findings of the committee and ‘filled with shame and sorrow’.

‘The perpetrators are not the only ones to blame. Church authorities who did not act correctly… share this blame,’ the statement said.

In the future, the church will take ‘all measures provided for under church and civil law when there is any suspicion of sexual abuse’ and the public prosecutor will be notified, the statement said.

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

Norway: Labour Party Looks to Slash Oslo Immigrant Dominance

Leading Labour Party politicians in Oslo believe voters have too much influence in the city and are calling for changes to the country’s election laws after immigrant candidates snagged eleven of the party’s 20 seats on the City Council.

Among those backing legislative change is Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, who sits on the board of a local Labour committee that wants parties to be able to present voters with a list of 15 hand-picked candidates.

In accordance with current rules, the party populated its list with ten names in this autumn’s city elections

This left voters with plenty of scope to select their own preferred candidates, enabling seven politicians with immigrant backgrounds to sail into winning positions after managing to secure enough personal votes for a seat.

“We’ve now got three representatives from Somalia and Somaliland. That’s in excess of what one might expect,” party veteran Rune Gerhardsen told newspaper VG.

Gerhardsen stressed that his desire for a rule change did not stem from any sense of dissatisfaction with the current councillors, but he did argue there was a need for greater balance.

“Comparatively small pressure groups can make relatively large gains when they apply enough resources. Ethnic groups have shown themselves to be good at mobilizing,” he said.

Abid Raja from the Liberal Party (Venstre) said he found the comments alarming.

“What he says about his own party colleagues with Somali backgrounds is way beneath his dignity,” Raja told news agency NTB.

“Instead of increasing the number of set candidates we should be going in the opposite direction and getting rid of it altogether.”

Raja pointed out that ethnic Norwegian candidates had also harvested their fair share of personal votes, with Rune Gerhardsen himself the main beneficiary. Of the Labour Party’s candidates, Gerhardsen and Libe Rieber-Mohn attracted the highest number of personal votes, followed by Abdullah Alsabeehg.

The 25-year-old Alsabeehg, whose family came to Norway as political refugees from Bahrain when he was very young, denied his election success had stemmed from a recruitment campaign targeting voters of the same ethnic background as himself.

Instead, he attributed his large personal vote haul to the backing he received from the Labour Party’s youth wing (AUF).

“I was the AUF’s youth candidate in the election and was supported by young people of various ethnic backgrounds from around the city,” he told NTB.

“I think it’s wrong to make a distinction between minority politicians and other politicians. Nobody uses the term minority footballer to describe Moa or Carew,” he added.

Among representatives of Norway’s other main parties, there was no support for the idea of lengthening pre-populated electoral lists.

“I can see that the Labour Party’s City Council group in Oslo is skewed, both from an ethnic and geographical perspective, but that just shows that party democracy is more or less dead within the Labour Party beyond the group of active immigrants,” said Conservative Party (Høyre) MP Per-Kristian Foss to

“That’s a problem for Oslo’s Labour Party; I don’t think parliament should change the election law,” he added.

Anders Anundsen from the Progress Party said Labour would be better advised to move in the exact opposite direction, a view supported by the Centre Party’s Per Olaf Lundteigen.

“Trust in politicians and political parties is dropping. That means voters should be given more of a say as to who gets elected in parliamentary, county, and municipal elections,” he told

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

Pope Benedict XVI Supports Teacher Accused of Showing Graphic Images of Apocalypse

An Italian religious studies teacher has been suspended for depicting the Apocalypse so vividly that it shocked an elementary school girl to tears. The teacher wrote to the Pope, who has sent her an encouraging response

Pope Benedict XVI has offered his support and blessing to an Italian elementary school teacher who was suspended for showing graphic images of the apocalypse to her students, leaving some in tears.

Cristina Vai, a religious studies teacher at Bombicci school in Bologna, gave a lesson to her mostly six-year-old students on the struggle between good and evil, showing graphic images of violent fights between angels and the devil, and God’s punishments.

The parents of a pupil complained with the school director that her daughter had been shocked by that lesson, and Vai was subsequently suspended. The veteran teacher called for help from the very top. “At the end of November, I wrote to the Pope, to tell him my situation and to thank him for his heroic battle against the current nihilist Zeitgeist,” she said.

A few days ago, she received an answer. In a letter from Peter Brian Wells, Assessor of the General Affairs of Vatican Secretary of State, the Pope is quoted giving his blessing to the teacher, and expressing his support for a profession “executed with commitment and dedication.” Benedict does not specifically cite the controversy, but thanks Vai for her “faithful gesture and for the sentiments that have inspired you. He prays for a constant generous commitment to shape a young generation of Christians.”

Fabio Garagnani, a member of the Italian parliament, who has backed the teacher from the beginning of the matter, said that now she should be reinstated in her job. “I hope that this letter from the Pope will finally clear that the teacher is in in perfect accordance with Catholic orthodoxy.” He said.

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

Report Reveals Internet Divide Across EU

A new report says that almost a quarter of the European Union’s 500 million citizens have never used the Internet and that there is a widening gulf between the web-friendly north of Europe and the poorer south and east.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Report Finds Thousands of Abuse Cases in Dutch Catholic Church

Thousands of children suffered sexual abuse in Dutch Catholic institutions, and church officials failed to adequately address the abuse or help the victims, according to the results of a long-awaited investigation.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swedish Mosque Starts ‘Halal’ Dating Site

There are not enough places in Sweden for young Muslims to find a partner, according to the Gothenburg Mosque, which has started a net dating site for “halal” dating. “The mosque is not just a place for prayer, it is also a social place and the mosque is here for dealing with problems in society. One of these is that it is hard to find a partner,” Abu Mahmoud, the man behind the dating site, told Sveriges Radio (SR).

The service isn’t new per se, as young Muslim Stockholmers in need of a partner could previously browse a folder, located in the entrance to the mosque on Södermalm, in the south of the city. “We’ve already been doing this, but not digitally. We did it in paper form at the entrance, so the idea isn’t completely new,” said Andallah Salah, deputy head of the Islamic Association in Stockholm to SR.

However, the folder has been taken away, as it was impossible to make sure that those who read the contact details were serious in their endeavours to find a partner. But Salah told SR that the interest in getting help finding a suitable partner is still significant. The new dating service in Gothenburg will not feature pictures or bios. Instead contacts will be made through a website managed by Abu Mahmoud and his wife.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Attack on Rhea Page

It is unusual for the Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO) to comment on individual judgements made by our courts system. However, if the story carried by sections of the media is fully and accurately reported, the FMO is deeply concerned about the way in which the perpetrators have linked their actions to a lax moment in their understanding of their faith. The FMO deplores in the strongest terms, the case of four Somali girls attacking support worker Rhea Page in which they were found guilty and handed suspended sentences.

Federation PR Officer Suleman Nagdi, said, “We condemn violence of any kind, especially mindless acts such as this, when a gang set upon a defenceless victim who herself works to support some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in society. Alcohol is strictly prohibited in Islam and so the alcohol fuelled behaviour of these girls is a total contradiction to the teachings of Islam. The behaviour exhibited by the guilty parties has no relation to the behaviour of the general Muslim or Somali community who have worked hard and continue to do so to integrate into British society to make an invaluable contribution to the success of our nation. Drunken, yobbish and violent behaviour has no place in our society and our thoughts go out to Rhea Page who we hope makes a quick recovery so that she can continue the excellent work she is doing for the good of humanity. I echo her sentiments about the final judgement passed on the case. I would also like to acknowledge the role of the police in this case”.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Do Books “Prime People for Terrorism”?

This week’s terrorism conviction has serious implications for freedoms of speech and thought in modern Britain.

In August 1966, Egyptian Islamist thinker and writer Sayyid Qutb was convicted in Cairo of conspiring against the state. The evidence used to incriminate him consisted primarily of extracts from his book Milestones, a treatise on Islamic governance written by Qutb during a previous stint in prison. For Egyptian President Nasser, the ideas contained in Milestones were as threatening to his position as the birth of Moses was to the Pharaoh thousands of years earlier. Nasser ‘s solution to his dilemma was little different from that of the Pharaoh. Kill the ideological revolution in its infancy. Qutb was executed in prison on 29 August 1966. All known copies of the book were confiscated and burned by military order, and anyone found in possession of it was prosecuted for treason.

Almost half a century later, on Tuesday 13 December 2011, British Muslim Ahmed Faraz was sentenced to three years in prison in London after being convicted of disseminating a number of books which were deemed to be terrorist publications and thereby “glorifying” and “priming people” for terrorism (despite, as the judge conceded, having had no role in any specific terror plots). One of those books is Qutb’s Milestones — which is considered by some to be one of the core texts of the modern Islamist movement and the ideological inspiration for Al Qaeda. In a trial which lasted over two months, jurors had the entirety of Qutb’s thoughts and ideas, as expressed in his book, read out to them to decide whether or not such ideas are permissible in 21st century Britain. They concluded that they were not and Milestones has now been deemed a “terrorist publication” and effectively banned in Britain.

Milestones is also published by Penguin Books, who previously found themselves in the dock in 1960 (around the same time that Qutb was writing Milestones) after publishing Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the last case of its kind until now. However, the CPS case was that the Milestones special edition published and sold by Faraz contained a number of appendices intended specifically to promote extremist ideology. Yet these appendices consisted of a series of articles about Qutb by contemporary thinkers and writers and a syllabus of three books taught by Hassan al-Banna, the founding ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is on the verge of being democratically-elected in post-Mubarak Egypt.

Other books Faraz was selling which are now also effectively banned include those of Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian scholar who became one of the leaders of the jihad in Afghanistan against Soviet occupation, as well as a teacher and mentor to Osama Bin Laden. Ironically, Azzam’s Defence of Muslim Lands and Join the Caravan were ideological and theological texts that were heavily promoted in the Western and Muslim worlds to encourage young Muslims to join the Western-backed jihad against the Soviet Union . Until very recently, both books were readily available to purchase from mainstream booksellers, Amazon and Waterstones, yet neither company seems to have been threatened with prosecution.

Whatever your view of Qutb or Azzam’s works, the Faraz case has extremely serious implications for freedoms of speech and thought in modern Britain . In the land of Shakespeare and Wordsworth where more books are published every year than in any other country in the world, books could now be banned and ideas prohibited. Yet a core free speech principle is that the best way to defeat ideas is to debate and discuss them, not prohibit or criminalise them. Perhaps it is for this reason that Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf — the ideological inspiration for the most violent political movement of the 20th century — remains available in bookstores and libraries today. It is probably the same reason that the prosecution’s expert witness, US-based terrorism analyst Bruce Hoffman, admitted under cross-examination that none of the books would have been banned in the United States under the first amendment of its constitution.

Many will argue that since Faraz was also convicted of possessing information likely to be of use to a person committing or preparing for an act of terrorism (including military training videos and bomb-making instructions), the books ought to be viewed through this prism. The reality is that over the course of three years, the police seized and examined 19 computers, 25 hard drives, 15,000 books, over 9,000 DVDs and videos and millions of documents, all of which belonged to a busy bookstore. Out of these, they could only find four documents which the jury concluded fell afoul of this specific law and which it could not even be proven had ever been read by Faraz.

The case also has wider implications for political debate inside the British Muslim community. To believe or to even discuss an Islamic mode of governance, the political union of Muslim countries in a caliphate and issues related to military jihad and foreign conflicts seem to have become synonymous with “glorifying” terrorism. Now that the dissemination of books which promote and advocate such ideas is being criminalised, the logical next step may be to try and ban the ultimate source of all Islamic political thought — the Qur’an itself — as Dutch politician Geert Wilders once proposed. (For those who may accuse this writer of scaremongering, journalist Yvonne Ridley was met with the same incredulity five years ago when she announced to thousands of Muslims that the government would try and ban Milestones.) In Nasser’s Egypt , thousands of copies of Milestones were destroyed and burned by the state. In 21st-century Britain , will all of us who possess copies of it now have to burn them ourselves or risk being arrested and prosecuted for possessing “un-British” books and glorifying terrorism?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: East London Mosque: Have a Happy Extremist Christmas

Christmas is always a busy time down at this blog’s favourite hub of moderation’n’tolerance, the East London Mosque, controlled by the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe. The punters have to be saved from what Mahera Ruby, the head of the IFE’s women’s section, called the “pagan myth of Santa Claus.” What’s that, Mahera? You mean Santa doesn’t really exist?

Tonight, there’s a special treat (strictly gender-segregated, of course) to get the non-festive season underway. It’s the final round of the “Battle of the Isocs,” a quiz for university Islamic societies, former stamping-grounds of so many of our finest young terrorists. Among the celebrity guests (see above) is a certain Haitham al-Haddad, a big favourite at the East London Mosque. One of his previous appearances there was at an event to pronounce music a “social ill.” Haitham has also described music as a “prohibited and fake message of love and peace.” Let’s hope there aren’t any questions about last year’s Christmas Number One, shall we? If Christmas without music sounds a bit dull, the East London Mosque has the answer. On Christmas Eve, there is a meeting about “the greatest prophet” with the IFE activist and one of Hamas’s most fervent fans, Junaid Ahmed. Then on Boxing Day the mosque hosts another event with another terrorist apologist, Zahir Mahmood. You’ve already missed, alas, the East London Mosque meeting last week about the rehabilitation of young offenders with Azad Ali, the IFE’s community affairs co-ordinator. Azad knows a bit about causing offence himself — he’s justified the killing of British troops…

[JP note: Where would be for laughs without the paraligion Islam and the pseudoprophet Mohammad? Probably headless. And what does the joke, pantomime-horse outfit, The Council of Imams and Rabbis of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation have to say about the East London Mosque and the London Muslim Centre? Nada, zilch, didley-squat … It’s behind you!]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Home Office Responds on EDL Threat

The Home Office has written to an umbrella group representing a range of Jewish communal and religious groups in response to statements distancing themselves from the methods and aims of the English Defence League. Earlier this year the leaders of the United Synagogue, Reform, Liberal and Masorti communities, as well as the Board of Deputies and the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ congregation, highlighted their opposition to the EDL’s tactics and called on the far right organisation to refrain from using Jewish and Israelis symbols in its campaigns. Under the umbrella of the Council of Imams and Rabbis of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation, they rejected in particular the EDL’s “efforts to incite hatred and antagonism in our society”, its attempts to “foment violence” and “drive a wedge between the Jewish community and our Muslim neighbours”. They attempted to draw a line under the EDL’s efforts to attract Jewish membership, which reached a peak with a rally “to oppose Islamic fascism” outside the Israeli embassy last year where EDL members waved Israeli flags. The EDL has a “Jewish Division”, but it has been beset by infighting and is understood to have only a handful of Jewish members.

James Brokenshire, the Home Office Minister responsible for policy regarding the EDL, has now sent a letter of response to Mehri Niknam, director of the Council of Imams and Rabbis. “We welcome your positive action to counter the divisive influence and minimise the impact of EDL activity,” he said. “As a government our position is clear, we will not tolerate groups like the EDL who spread hate, seek to divide us and deliberately raise community fears and tensions.” He said the government would continue to condemn the EDL’s views and actions when necessary and work with police and local agencies. Mr Brokenshire added that the government trusted local agencies to “put in place suitable local measures to counter the influence and minimise the impact of EDL activity. “We stand ready to provide advice and support where it is requested.”

[JP note: When it comes to the threat from Islam, the Home Office is nowhere to be seen.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Minehead Middle School Pupils’ Muslim Visit

MINEHEAD Middle School pupils have been learning about the importance of racial tolerance. The year eight group have been studying a topic called Islam and the Media as part of their Humanities class, which involves looking at common stereotypes and misjudgements made about religious people in the press and trying to dissuade youngsters from accepting religious intolerance. Their study was rounded off by a visit from representatives of the Islamic Awareness Education Program (IAEP). The Muslim visitors came into classes to spend time with the children and held workshops in the school hall. Sheila McBride, head of Humanities and Citizenships, said: “We’re trying to promote the fact that not all Muslims are terrorists. Some of the children looked at Muslims before and thought that’s what they were and they’ve now come away knowing that’s not the case. They asked the IAEP visitors some really good questions during the workshops and I’m very pleased with them.”

[JP note: For more on the IAEP see here ]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Terrorists’ Favourite Bookseller Guilty

A Muslim radical has been sentenced to three years in jail for running an operation to publish extremist texts and violent DVDs and distribute them around the world with the aim of “priming” terrorists for action.

Material produced and distributed by Ahmed Faraz ended up in the hands of almost every major terrorist in Britain. His customers included Mohammed Sidique Khan, the leader of the July 7 bomb plot, and members of the trans-Atlantic airline gang, who quoted from his texts in their suicide videos. His books were found among the belongings of Habib Ahmed, a key al-Qaeda lieutenant from Manchester, and Andrew Ibrahim, who planned to blow up a shopping centre in Bristol. Among a series of raids on the bookshop was one in 2007 as part of an investigation into a plot to kidnap and behead a Muslim solider. Faraz was released without charge. The shop, Maktabah al-Ansar [library of the faithful], in Sparkhill, Birmingham, was originally founded by Moazzam Begg, who was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 after fleeing from Afghanistan during the fall of the Taliban and held in Guantanamo Bay.

Det Chief Supt Kenny Bell , head of the West Midlands counter-terrorism unit, said the trial was “about the defendant’s role in the mass distribution of material, which had been added to and manipulated, in order to prime would-be terrorists to commit violent acts.” He said some items contained explicit instructions on how to make explosive devises and how to kidnap people and added: “The content of some of the material that formed part of the investigation was so graphic we could not show it to the jury.” Max Hill QC, prosecuting, had told the jury at Kingston Crown Court in south west London, the material sold by Faraz “represents steps along the road to radicalisation of Muslims to engage in violent terrorist attacks around the world, including the UK.”

Faraz, 32, was born and bred in Birmingham to parents originally from Pakistan. He left school with A-levels in law, business studies and computer science and then worked in administrative positions for the car manufacturer Rover, the stock broker Charles Schwab and British Gas. He became involved with the bookshop at the age of 23, editing texts and producing DVDs. The following year he started studying for a degree in applied theology at Birmingham University, followed by a PGCE qualification to work as a religious studies teacher. At Maktabah, Faraz wrote his own forward to a book called “Milestones” by Sayyid Qutb, one of the leading influences on al-Qaeda, circulated books by Abdullah Azzam, mentor to Osama bin Laden, and produced and distributed a slick DVD called “21st Century Crusaders.”

Two of Azzam’s books were among a stash of radical material handed to a friend for safekeeping by Hasina Patel, wife of Mohammed Sidique Khan, the day after the July 7 attacks.

Videos discovered by police at Faraz’s home featured graphic images of murder, bomb attacks, shootings and 81 beheadings along with an al-Qaeda manual and instructional videos on how to make bombs and fire rocket propelled grenades. The Maktabah website received nearly 20m hits from 460,000 obsessive users, more than a third of whom lived in the US.

Faraz made profits of at least £62,000 and employed a number of salesmen, sending unsolicited copies of his books to Islamic shops around the country. Financial records showed that he had distributed his wares to bookshops including the al-Furqan bookshop at East London Mosque and another in Manchester. Faraz had even tried to sell his books on Amazon and had sent his products to countries including Egypt, India, Australia and South Africa. Faraz made no comment in police interviews and did not give evidence in his defence.

In a prepared statement, he said he considered his work “an instance of the freedom of speech and expression that he considered to be central to a free and open society.” Faraz was charged with a total of 30 counts of possessing and disseminating terrorist publications between April 13 2006 and January 26 2010. He was found guilty on 11 counts and not guilty on four counts. The judge directed that he should be found not guilty of a further eight counts and seven counts were left on file. The judge, Mr Justice Calvert-Smith, told him: “Maktabah was the only known commercial operation selling this wide ranging jihadist literature. “It’s no surprise that your books were found on the shelves of many of those convicted of serious terrorist offences — including the leader of the plot that resulted in the deaths of 52 people in London on 7/7. It was grossly irresponsible to publish them in the way they were designed to appeal, not to academics, but to young people, and young people who had recently converted to Islam or become more religiously inclined as they got older. These books did glorify terrorism, the killing and injuring of civilians and implied, either by silence or otherwise, approval of such atrocities as the 9/11 or 7/7 attacks. How any publisher of books and other media could diseminate this material after 9/11 and, in the case of Mile Stones, a few months after 7/7 and 21/7 is beyond me. I detect no sign of remorse and acceptance from you that you have in fact gone beyond the limits.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Time to Resign, Aidan Burley

Sixty years on from the end of the Second World War, Britain’s role in the defeat of Nazism still dominates our national character. The evocation by some of the Churchillian “bulldog” spirit in the aftermath of David Cameron’s Eurozone veto demonstrates how powerful such historical imagery remains. The timing of the Mail on Sunday’s revelations about the Nazi-themed stag night attended by Conservative MP Aidan Burley could not have been more embarrassing for the Prime Minister. Aidan Burley has amplified his apology and emphasised that he now knows he should have walked away from someone dressed as an SS officer. Most decent people do not have such friends. But Mr Burley remained at a restaurant table as his tablemates cheered the names of Himmler and Eichmann, two men directly responsible for the Holocaust. He raised no objection to a toast to the Third Reich. And then he paid the bill.

Astonishingly, this man still holds a government post as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Transport Secretary Justine Greening. As Mr Burley now recognises, his actions will be particularly repellent to Britain’s Jews. But this is not just a Jewish issue. The Tory MP for Cannock Chase chose to participate in a celebration of this country’s historic enemies. In France, which suffered the humiliation of occupation by the Nazis, such treachery is a criminal offence. Mr Burley is clearly a very silly man. He has disgraced his country and his party. His apology shows he is deeply ashamed. He should save the Prime Minister further embarrassment and resign as PPS to Ms Greening.

But this is the second week in a row the JC has reported a UK politician apologising to the Jewish community. Last week it was Labour Paul Flynn atoning for comments he had made about the alleged “dual loyalty” of the UK’s first Jewish ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould. The most worrying aspect of this whole business is how unshockable people are. The Paul Flynn story made barely a ripple in the national media and not a single frontline Conservative politician has come forward to condemn Mr Burley’s actions. The incident was not mentioned at this week’s Conservative Friends of Israel business lunch. It is not just Mr Flynn and Mr Burley who should be ashamed.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Bosnia: Serb Leader Says Muslim ‘Arrogance’ To Blame for Stalemate

Belgrade, 16 Dec. (AKI) — Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said on Friday Bosnia was falling apart, blaming the inability for the country to form a government on majority Muslim “arrogance” and what he considers their attempts to subjugate the other two ethnic groups, Serbs and Croats.

“Bosnia is in the phase of disintegration and no one can help it,” Dodik said in an interview with Belgrade daily Blic. “Political arrogance of Bosnian Muslims towards Serbs and Croats is so evident that no one serious believes in Bosnia’s survival,” Dodik said.

Almost a year and a half since last parliamentary elections, the country still doesn’t have federal government and no solution was in sight despite the pressure from the international community.

Dodik blamed the stalemate on Muslim political leaders, accusing them of undermining the Dayton peace accord which ended 1992-1995 war. According to the agreement, Bosnia was divided into two entities, a Muslim-Croat federation and a Serb entity Republika Srpska of which Dodik is president.

The accord treats Muslims, Serbs and Croats as three equal, constituent groups. But Croats have complaint of being discriminated and of feeling like “sub-tenants” in their own home, demanding their own entity.

The international community, which still supervises peace in Bosnia 16 years after the war, opposes Bosnia’s partitioning, but Dodik said the process was irreversible. Asked how long it may take, he said it depended on the circumstances.

“A plant, as an organic tissue, disintegrates rapidly,” Dodik said. “But if you have a political monster like Bosnia, it may take some time,” he concluded.

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

North Africa

Egypt: Where Did Nick Kristof Get the Idea That the Muslim Brotherhood is Moderate?

by Eric Trager

Alexandria, Egypt-Parliamentarians’ offices typically feature self-flattering photos and patriotic paraphernalia, so I was taken aback by the décor of recently elected Muslim Brotherhood MP Saber Abouel Fotouh’s Alexandria headquarters. The walls were mostly blank, except for a tremendous banner commemorating a protest that the Muslim Brotherhood had sponsored outside the local “Zionist consulate,” complete with an image of a burning Israeli flag. (The demonstration took place following an August 18 incident along the Egyptian-Israeli border, in which Israel responded to a cross-border attack in Eilat that resulted in the deaths of eight Israelis by inadvertently killing six Egyptian soldiers when it chased the attackers back into the Sinai.) When I asked Abouel Fotouh whether it was appropriate for a future parliamentary leader to display a neighbor’s flag in flames, he got rather defensive. “We burned [the Israeli flag] for our soldiers and for Gaza, and we will burn it again and again if they infiltrate anything in the region,” he said.

As the ascendant Muslim Brotherhood tries to project itself as a responsible actor, including by hosting credulous New York Times columnist Nick Kristof for a home-cooked meal, it is important to recall these kinds of statements. Over the past two weeks, I have interviewed seven Brotherhood parliamentarians-to-be. Far from being moderate, these future leaders share a commitment to theocratic rule, complete with a limited view of civil liberties and an unmistakable antipathy for the West. The Brotherhood’s theocratic vision presents itself in a number of forms. At the most basic level, the organization’s future parliamentarians insist that all law should be drawn exclusively from the sharia-and they are convinced that this is a goal shared by nearly all Egyptians. “Most political streams in Egypt-liberals, socialists, nationalists, and Islamists — demand that sharia be the main source of legislation,” Saad al-Husseini, the Brotherhood’s top candidate on a Gharbiya electoral list and a member of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Office, told me. A number of Brotherhood MPs-to-be even claimed that Egypt’s Christian community was pro-sharia. “The Christians are Egyptians, and true Egyptians will take the sharia‘s side, and not the side of the French,” said recently elected Alexandria MP al-Mohammadi al-Sayyid.

To be sure, the Brotherhood, unlike Egypt’s Salafists, does not intend to legislate based on a literal interpretation of the sharia. It claims instead to be guided by pragmatic interpretations of the sharia‘s true aims-or “maqasid,” as this principle known in the field of Islamic jurisprudence. But no matter how generously one interprets the sharia, certain prohibitions are unavoidable-and the Brotherhood’s parliamentarians vow to push those prohibitions into law. Policy-wise, the most important Qur’anic prohibition that the Brotherhood wants to implement is the ban on interest-based banking. The platform of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party explicitly speaks of “fighting” usury, though the Brotherhood MPs-to-be that I interviewed tried to soft-pedal this language a bit. “We won’t ban [interest-based banking],” said Alexandria MP Sobhi Saleh. “But we will aim to decrease the interest rate to zero through economic growth.” Initially, the MPs said that the Brotherhood would simply broaden Islamic banking options and “let the people choose what they want.” But this gradualism will likely be challenged by the Salafists, who support implementing interest-free banking more rapidly. It hard to imagine the Brotherhood bucking them on this very basic Islamic issue.

Two other Qur’anic principles that the Brotherhood intends to implement are those banning alcohol and calling for modesty in women’s dress. Thus, Brotherhood political leader Saad el-Katatny, who previously chaired the organization’s parliamentary bloc, declared in August that Egypt “should not allow beach tourism,” railing against the bikinis and alcohol consumption that drive Egypt’s Red Sea tourism. Some of the Brotherhood’s future parliamentarians expressed support for these ideas. “Sharia controls our morals and we have a religious community here,” said Ali Fath al-Bab, a former MP who is now running for the Shura Council, Egypt’s upper parliamentary body. “Our rules and constitution should come from our tradition to express our religion.” Others, however, offered a compromise of sorts. “Are tourists coming just for beaches and alcohol?” Essam Mukhtar, who was recently elected in northern Cairo, asked me. Some are, I responded. “Then we can make private beaches here,” he said. Most of the Brotherhood MPs-to-be that I interviewed expressed their hope, however, that Egyptian tourism might be refocused towards hosting conferences and “medical tourism,” meaning visits to Egypt’s therapeutic natural spas.

Yet perhaps the most telling indicator of the Brotherhood’s theocratic outlook were the future parliamentarians’ comments on whether they would permit those who do not believe in the sharia to criticize or challenge it. The answer was, without exception, no. “It’s not allowed for Christians to come and say that the sharia is wrong,” said Abouel Fotouh. “They are not specialists.” Mukhtar agreed. “There is no ultimate freedom, because your freedom ends at the freedom of other people,” he told me. “And if I humiliate things that you respect, I violate your freedom.” When I told Mukhtar about a video that a friend had sent me depicting Salafists calling for holy war against the Jews, he laughed and suddenly transformed into a civil libertarian. “People are free to say what they want,” he said. He proceeded to rant against Israel.

But the Brotherhood’s antipathy isn’t reserved only for Israel. When I asked Saleh, who has been spoken of as a potential candidate for parliamentary chair, for his views on 9/11, the fast-talking lawyer suddenly got very serious. “I’m still not convinced [of the official story],” he said. “Crashing into the 100th floor does not turn a building into ash.” When he proceeded to cite unnamed “American scholars” to substantiate his views, I told him that Americans would find this offensive. “Does it make Americans angry that I read reports that came from them?” he asked. “I will have [these studies] with me when I go to America. … I will tell them that these are your [explanations], not mine.” Indeed, Saleh intends to preach 9/11 revisionism on his first trip to America. Perhaps he’ll do it at a home-cooked meal hosted by Nick Kristof.

Eric Trager is the Ira Weiner Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

France Flatters Islamists: Islam, Democracy Not Incompatible

Juppe argues Islam, democracy are not incompatible, insists Arab Spring should open way to political pluralism.

TRIPOLI — French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe argued on Thursday that Islam and democracy are not incompatible, insisting that the Arab Spring, which has already toppled three dictators, should open the way to political pluralism. “I refuse to accept the idea that Islam and democracy are incompatible and that the Arab people only have a choice between dictatorship and fundamentalism,” Juppe told hundreds of students at the University of Tripoli. “It has been our desire to establish contacts and dialogue with all the actors of the Arab Spring, without exception, on the condition that they respect the rules of the democratic game, principal among which are the renunciation of violence, the rights of men and women, and respect for minorities,” he added. “We cannot refuse to people who have been so long condemned to silence the right to express their choices”, Juppe said. In Tunisia, the first Arab country to overthrow its dictatorship, the Islamist Ennahda party came out on top in October parliamentary elections. Islamists are also taking the lead in polls now underway in Egypt and gaining prominence in Libya. On Wednesday, during a press conference with Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib, Juppe declared that it was up to the Libyan people to “build democracy as they see fit” following the overthrow of strongman Moamer Gathafi.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Frustration Threatens to Unleash Second Libyan Revolution

Growing frustration over the slow pace of reforms and a lack of transparency in the new Libyan government could push the war-scarred North African nation toward a second revolution, less than two months since the first.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Friendship Treaty With Libya Reactivated

‘Focus on new Libya’s priorities’ Monti tells Jalil

(ANSA) — Rome, December 15 — Italy and Libya on Thursday agreed to reactivate a friendship treaty that was interrupted by the war against late strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

The decision was announced by Premier Mario Monti after talks in Rome with the leader of Libya’s Transitional National Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil.

Monti, who said he would visit Italy’s former colony “in mid-January”, stressed the move would help both countries “focus on the priorities of the new Libya” after the demise of Gaddafi, who was caught and executed by rebels on October 20. The treaty was signed by Gaddafi and then Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi in 2008.

Under the treaty, Italy agreed to pay colonial reparations of $5 billion over 20 years, including the construction of a coastal highway, while Libya pledged to help stop migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

Now that it has been reactivated, Italy will be able to fully re-open its oil and gas pipelines and Libya will pursue wide financial interests in Italy, helped by assets that had been frozen during the war.

“We agreed to reactivate the friendship treaty in the interests of both countries,” said Jalil, thanking Italy for raising the amount of unlocked assets from 230 to 600 million euros.

He said Libya’s oil and gas industry was now operating at 70% of its prewar capacity.

“I want to thank Italian firms and in particular (energy giant) Eni who decided to return to work beside Libyans despite the dangers,” Jalil said. Monti vowed to speed the full unfreezing of assets, saying Italy was “ready to assure immediate assistance on security, infrastructure and energy so that the (Libyan) people can benefit”.

Unlocked funds would also be used to help Italian firms recoup credits and regain certification for work in the north African country, the Italian premier said.

Jalil said a chunk of the assets would be used to free up such credits, “provided these credits are real and legitimate”. “We will work towards full transparency”, he said. Meanwhile, Italy’s biggest bank Unicredit noted that the treaty reactivation would enable Libya’s central bank, which holds a 4.99% stake in it, to underwrite its upcoming 7.5-billion-euro rights issue.

“The Libyan people is finally crowning its aspirations to democracy and freedom,” Monti told reporters, noting that Libya will elect a constituent assembly in a few months’ time.

“Italy intends to continue to assist Libya as it has done since the start of the revolution,” he said, adding that Libyans could come to Italy for professional training and medical treatment.

Jalil also thanked “Berlusconi, the foreign and defence ministers and the army chief of staff who supported the revolution from the start”.

Italy provided key air bases for the Nato-led Libya campaign as well as fighter-bombers that ran hundreds of sorties during the war.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: Violent Rioters and Media Goons

On Monday night, hooligans identified with the national religious camp staged three unlawful, and in at least one case violent, protests against the IDF.

First, several dozen people surrounded by hundreds of reporters pretended to set up a new settlement along the border with Jordan. Their aim was to protest Jordan’s opposition to repairing the Mugrabi Bridge through which Jews and Christians alight to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The second and third protests’ declared aim was to prevent the IDF from carrying out orders to destroy Ramat Gilad, a small enclave of homes in Samaria located on land owned by rancher Moshe Zar and named for his son Gilad who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 2001…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Iceland Formally Recognizes Palestinian State

One of the first Western countries to do so

(ANSAmed) — REYKJAVIK, decemeber 15 — Iceland has announced the formal recognition of the Palestinian State, becoming one of the first European countries to do so. “Today I present you the declaration of independence of the Palestine, in accordance with the will of the Icelandic parliament”, said foreign minister Ossur Skarphedinsson addressing his Palestinian colleague Riyad al Maliki. On november 29, the Icelandic parliament approved a resolution presented by the foreign minister authorizing the government to recognize the Palestinian state.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Diana West: Iraq Hawks Leave a Door Open That Should be Slammed Shut

I wish I could find the perfect label for the depths of denial and the heights of delusion manifested in Frederick and Kimberly Kagan’s latest declarations on Iraq, published this week in The Washington Post as “opinion.”

Even as our troops withdraw after eight fruitless years, the husband-wife team still sees “American core interests” in Iraq, including “ensuring that Iraq contributes to the security of the Middle East, rather than undermining it through state collapse, civil war or the establishment of a sectarian dictatorship.”

Is that all? Ensuring that Iraq doesn’t collapse, enter civil war or establish a sectarian dictatorship requires an indefinite occupation on a colossal scale (why?) or the total transformation of Iraqi Man (read: Muslim Man), which is the Frankensteinian basis of “winning hearts and minds,” the cornerstone of counterinsurgency theory (COIN).

In another epoch, armies of Christian missionaries might have been the force of choice to rework Islamic culture to such an end; then again, Western nations haven’t fared so well in such endeavors. (Remember the Crusades.) COIN-inspired nation-building is the contemporary, secular alternative. Its adherents burn with a blind zeal that admits no cultural difference between the West and Islam, that sees most arrogantly a universal appeal in their own Judeo-Christian-derived values.

The only stumbling block between COIN values and Islamic acceptance, as COIN elites see it, is PR. The sales pitch. Take off those protective, ballistic glasses, soldier. Eat parasite-ridden goat and wreck your digestive system maybe forever, grunt. Smile. Get to know the people. Walk those roads (bang) and see that those wells and bridges are built, those mosques mended, those tribal conflicts settled, and don’t call in fire support when a “kinetic” incident occurs or the “population” will think you don’t trust them. And whatever you do, don’t forget the payola…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Did Iran Capture US Drone by Hacking Its GPS Signal?

How did Iran manage to capture a US robotic surveillance plane, which looks remarkably undamaged in an Iranian video? The US initially claimed the drone went astray over Afghanistan and blamed a malfunction, but Iran said it had brought the craft down 200 kilometres inside its border earlier this month.

Now the Christian Science Monitor reports that Iran jammed GPS signals and fooled the drone into landing at an Iranian base. “The GPS navigation is the weakest point,” an unnamed Iranian engineer analysing the captured drone told a Monitor correspondent inside Iran. “By putting noise [jamming] on the communications, you force the bird into autopilot. This is where the bird loses its brain.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Internet: Turkey: 57% of Population Don’t Use the Web, Study

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, DECEMBER 15 — In Turkey the 57% of the population do not use the internet at all while the 42% deems it harmful and the section of society using it the least is the electorate of the Islamic-rooted party AKP. According to a survey titled “Use of the Internet and Social Media” made from the Konda research company and reported by Bianet online. Considering political parties, supporters of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) use the internet the most while the electorate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is using it the least. The increase of internet users supporting the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) was assessed a “striking” result.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia Executes 73rd Victim of Sharia Laws

In Saudi Arabia, Sharia court sentenced a woman accused of engaging in witchcraft to beheading by a sword. There are some unpleasant details: before dying, the “witch”, apparently, suffered as the beheading was performed gradually, in three steps. Thus, she became the 73rd person executed this year in the country living under Sharia.

The Kingdom authorities do not always provide accurate information on the number of women executed in Saudi Arabia. However, from time to time the details in this regard come out. For example, shortly before the “witch” was sentenced, by the verdict of the Sharia court an Indonesian woman was executed who killed her employer that tried to force her to have sex. In October, the sentence was carried out against a Saudi woman who killed her husband. In Saudi kingdom death sentence is given to rapists, murderers and drug traffickers. The execution is usually carried out through severing heads with a sword.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UAE: Zayed University Offers Master’s in Islamic Endowment

ABU DHABI — Zayed University has launched the world’s first master’s programme in charitable endowments, the centuries-old Islamic form of philanthropy. As the university launched its Institute for Islamic Higher Studies yesterday, religious and education officials said the degree was timely, as misconceptions were dogging Islamic transactions and procedures.

“People nowadays think that an endowment is only for building mosques,” said Dr Nasr Aref, the executive director for the institute. “It is whenever a social foundation creates an infrastructure that is not part of what a country’s government does. The West took the concept of endowments from us centuries ago but we are 1,000 years behind them in terms of developing and executing it.”

An endowment is the dedication of an asset’s profits towards charity, such as building schools, hospitals or shelters. “The first university in the world, which was created in the Muslim world, was from an endowment … and the first university built in the West, Oxford University, was also from an endowment,” Dr Aref said. Other examples of endowments from Islamic civilisation include building shelters for women who escape abusive husbands, and shelters for lost dogs and injured birds. The institute provides four programmes of study: Islamic economy, endowments, contemporary Islamic studies and managing resources. It has already accepted 130 students, which officials say is more than they expected. That number includes 20 students in the endowment programme.

The grand mufti of Egypt, Ali Jumaa, who attended yesterday’s launch, said Muslims should stop blaming others for the distorted image of Islam and return to the days of glory through knowledge and education. “There are some who have certain interests and want to damage the image of Islam and Muslims,” the grand mufti said. “This is their own matter. But we have to start with ourselves.” He said launching more master’s programmes in practical subjects such as Islamic economy would certainly help to clear up misconceptions.

There have been talks between the institute and Al Azhar University in Egypt about expanding cooperation. “Zayed University is a prestigious university and so is Al Azhar, so we encourage their co-operation,” the grand mufti said.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and the president of Zayed University, said that with the global media providing misconceptions, people have become doubtful about the teachings of Islam. “So this institute is a leading message … in providing clear explanations and for development and to enable the Islamic ummah to take a status that is worthy of it,” Sheikh Nahyan said. Maha Al Sayigh, 27, is from Saudi Arabia but decided to enrol at Zayed University after moving to the UAE for family reasons. “It is interesting to study in a new place, especially since the Emirates is famous for its universities,” Ms Al Sayigh said.

[JP note: Shelters for lost dogs and injured birds? I find that difficult to believe.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


EU Companies at Risk of ‘Raiders’ In Ukraine

The top story on Ukraine these days is the jailing of former leader Yulia Tymoshenko. But businessmen and diplomats have also warned that investing in the country is becoming more dangerous due to state-sanctioned ‘corporate raiding’. Raiding is a form of hostile take-over in which someone bribes or blackmails courts to enforce a bogus claim against a profitable business.

It can involve a van-full of balaclava-wearing men breaking into your office one morning to tell you that you are no longer the owner. In extreme cases it can involve people shooting at your staff. Most victims are small-and-medium-sized Ukrainian firms in the agricultural sector. But big foreign companies are not immune.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Radioactive Material Seized at Moscow Airport

Russian customs officials have seized a stash of radioactive metal from the luggage of a passenger bound for Iran. Prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into the incident.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Russia Officially Admitted to WTO

(AGI) Geneva — Russia has officially been admitted to the World Trade Organization after 18 years of difficult negotiations.

Russia is therefore the 154th member state and this country’s admission required more time than that of any other country.

Moscow now has 6 months to ratify its entry in the WTO and will become a full member 30 days after completing this procedure ..

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

State-Sanctioned Theft: A Paradise for Car Thieves in Ukraine

In Ukraine, the government is allowed to sell or use cars that have been stolen in other countries. The law creates the perfect conditions for organized gangs who steal luxury cars to order in Western Europe. There are even allegations that the Ukrainian justice minister’s official car was illegally appropriated in Germany.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Taliban Murder British Doctor Who Saved 2,000 Afghans

A British doctor shot dead by the Taliban was part of a humanitarian mission that had helped 2,000 Afghans, an inquest heard yesterday. Dr Karen Woo was executed alongside nine other aid workers after they tried to cross a mountain river in August last year.

The 36-year-old, who was due to get married a fortnight later, suffered ‘catastrophic’ injuries from two gunshot wounds in the attack. Shortly before her death she had helped to save the life of a baby boy who was struggling to breathe. Her team had been halfway through a 120-mile, three-week expedition in the northern Nuristan Province when they were ambushed.…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Inside Wukan: The Chinese Village That Fought Back

For the first time on record, the Chinese Communist party has lost all control, with the population of 20,000 in this southern fishing village now in open revolt. The last of Wukan’s dozen party officials fled on Monday after thousands of people blocked armed police from retaking the village, standing firm against tear gas and water cannons. Since then, the police have retreated to a roadblock, some three miles away, in order to prevent food and water from entering, and villagers from leaving. Wukan’s fishing fleet, its main source of income, has also been stopped from leaving harbour.

The plan appears to be to lay siege to Wukan and choke a rebellion which began three months ago when an angry mob, incensed at having the village’s land sold off, rampaged through the streets and overturned cars. Although China suffers an estimated 180,000 “mass incidents” a year, it is unheard of for the Party to sound a retreat.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria: Muslim Lawyers Want Sharia Law in Southern States

A group, Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria (MULAN) rose from their 5th annual general conference in Kaduna State, declaring that they will ensure that the introduction of Sharia legal system in the southern states as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution. The group said this against the backdrop that it concerns the determination of Islamic personal laws as it relates to marriage, divorce and inheritance. The lawyers also called for an end to the trial of the former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, demanding that the judicial process be accelerated to end his long travail and persecution. In a communiuque at the end of the conference in Kaduna, MULAN said it would collaborate with the National Assembly to abrogate all discriminatory provisions in the constitution of Nigeria that tends to strengthen the settler/indigene dichotomy that has precipitated many crises in various parts of the country. The communiqué signed by the National President of the body, Alhaji Tajudeen Oladoja, the body also urged the Federal Government not to hesitate to invoke its power under the constitution by declaring a state of emergency in any state of the federation plagued by ethno-religious crisis.

The group decried the alleged constant breach of the fundamental rights of Muslims across the country with impunity under the pretence of National security. The association said: “It has become a routine exercise for security agencies to arrest, detained and harangued, intimidate and torture Muslims, especially those who wear long beards in the name of curbing the Boko haram menace” and called on the security agencies not to be partisan when discharging their duties.” They also called on security agents to respect the fundamental right of Nigerians and to desist from indiscriminate arrest and torture based on facial outlook and or dressing in the name of stemming the tide of ethno-religious crises in Nigeria. The body also called on the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to license non-interest banking for interested Nigerians, irrespective of their religious persuasions and not to be discouraged by critics of the ideal.

They also accused state government in the country especially those in the north of paying lip service to the formalisation of the Almajiri educational system thereby increasing the level of illiteracy in Nigeria, particularly in the north. They also accused states in the southern parts of the country of failing to recognize the rights of Muslims to have their disputes adjudicated on the principles of sharia as enshrined in the constitution of the country and congratulate the National Assembly for criminalizing same-sex marriage. They asked the government not to add to the hardship already existing in the country by removing fuel subsidy, asking the government to forget about the idea in the interest of the ordinary Nigerians.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Africa’s ANC to Help Robert Mugabe Retain Power

Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the MDC, has written to regional leaders in protest at plans by South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), to help President Robert Mugabe remain in power.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Would Muslims Praying in the Halls be Suspended?

Tebow has made headlines for the move, a display of his devotion to his Christian faith. The students were not suspended for bringing religion into the school, but instead for clogging the hallway.

Carney said that she supported the administration’s efforts to maintain a safe environment and was surprised that the incident has received this much attention. Since the news broke, Carney said she has been receiving hate mail from people charging that the suspension is due to religious prejudice.

“It’s very unsettling,” she told on Thursday. “It’s a shame that people out there are so ready to judge when they weren’t there to see what happened.”

Reports said that the students had been Tebowing all week, starting Monday. It was meant to be a joke, only paying homage to one of pro football’s newest stars. But other students started joining in and administrators claimed it had become a disturbance. District officials reportedly told the students that the celebration was making it unsafe for students walking the hall in between classes.

The incident saw about 40 students engaging in the popular Tebowing. Only the four students, all athletes, were suspended. Caroll told Prep Rally that the administration told them “that our Tebowing was blocking the halls and could potentially cause a riot, because they were growing in number and if the wrong kid gets pushed a brawl could ensue.”

           — Hat tip: Van Grungy[Return to headlines]


Democracy May Depend on the Ignorant

Ignorance can be bliss, but it seems it can also promote democracy. Strongly opinionated members can determine a group’s consensus decision, even when they make up only a small minority. New research of animal behavior shows, however, that adding ignorant or uninformed members to the group can counteract the minority’s powerful influence and promote a more democratic outcome.

Researchers used several computer models to investigate the decision-making process in various animal groups when a majority wants to travel in one direction and a minority wants to go in another. When the strength of the two packs’ preferences was equal, the group was much more likely to follow the majority. But when the minority had stronger feelings than the rest of the group about its direction, it was able to control the decision.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]