Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120114

»Allen West on the Marines Incident: ‘Shut Your Mouth, War is Hell’
»Emerson: Obama Pass on Radical Islam Hurts
»Interpol: ‘Butt Slasher’ Suspect Arrested in Peru
»Obama Czar Proposed Ban on “Conpiracy Theorizing”
»Scientists: UN Soldiers Brought Deadly Superbug to Americas
»SOPA: What if Google, Facebook and Twitter Went Offline in Protest?
Europe and the EU
»Italy: Cruise Ship Costa Concordia: Search for Missing
»Redefining Islam for the 21st Century
»UK: ‘I Think I’ve Blown My Acting Career’: First Black Heathcliff Facing Prison After Racially Abused Pregnant Lover
»UK: A Teacher’s Leg Was Shattered and Her Kneecap Broken in a Classroom Attack by a 10-Year-Old Pupil.
»UK: Hundreds Protest Plan for New Sunderland Mosque
»UK: Harry’s Place Supports Terrorism
»UK: MCB Newsletter — Issue 9
»UK: Man Jailed With Friends for Starting Mosque Fire
»UK: Man Injured in London EDL Disturbance
»UK: New Accrington Police Station Could be Built by Proposed Mosque
»UK: Predator In Sex Case Jailed
»Kosovo Turns Blind Eye to Illegal Mosques
North Africa
»Tunisia: Foreign Secretary [UK] Comments on Tunisia — One Year on From Ben Ali’s Departure
Middle East
»Cameron’s Visit to Saudi Undermines William Hague’s Call for Islamic Democracy in the Middle East
»Iraq Civilians Killed and Injured in Basra Explosion
»The Hyprocrisy of Cameron’s Saudi Trip
»U.S. Warns Israel on Strike
»William Hague: “Freedom is Still Flowering in the Arab Spring”
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Nigeria: Moslems Sue for Peace
Latin America
»Mexico Drug War Deaths Over Five Years Now Total 47,515
»So What’s Changed in Two Years? Staggering Pictures Show How Haiti is Still a Shattered Wreck (Despite Billions in Aid Donations)
Culture Wars
»Judge: NJ Church Illegally Banned Gay Ceremony


Allen West on the Marines Incident: ‘Shut Your Mouth, War is Hell’

“I have sat back and assessed the incident with the video of our Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. I do not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu. Neither do I recall media outrage and condemnation of our Blackwater security contractors being killed, their bodies burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah.

“All these over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks need to chill. Does anyone remember the two Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were beheaded and gutted in Iraq?

“The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter.

“As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Emerson: Obama Pass on Radical Islam Hurts

By: Henry J. Reske and John Bachman

President Barack Obama refusal to admit that America’s real enemy isn’t al-Qaida but radical Islam legitimizes groups that believe there is a conspiracy against Muslims, leading terrorism and national security expert Steve Emerson tells Newsmax.TV.

Emerson charged that Obama had taken the easy path by identifying al-Qaida and not confronting the larger issue.

“Mr. Obama, before he was president and as president, only says that al-Qaida is the enemy that’s it,” the Newsmax contributor said. “Al-Qaida isn’t the enemy. Al-Qaida is a subset of the enemy. Radical Islam is the enemy and they won’t admit that. There’s a big issue here.

“What they’re doing is essentially legitimizing the whole spectrum of Muslim Brotherhood groups that dominate the radical world that believe that there is a conspiracy against Islam. … This delusional notion that somehow the West is involved in a war against Islam since 1095 the year of the first Crusades.”

Emerson noted that while al-Qaida remains a major threat overseas, it has not been involved in the majority of attempted attacks in the United States, something the administration refuses to acknowledge.

“There’s been an exponential growth in the number of individual attacks — planned attacks — not orchestrated by al-Qaida or any group, but people who are what they call lone wolves or radicalized, whatever,” he said. “The real bottom line is that al-Qaida is really no longer the major issue in terms of … the United States. Seventy percent of all planned Islamic attacks in the last 5 years have not been orchestrated by a-Qaida. And yet this administration won’t utter the term radical Islam. It says the only problem’s al-Qaida.”

Emerson rejected arguments by some in the Islamic community that many of the threats should not be taken seriously and that the perpetrators are troubled individuals.

“It’s funny,” he said. “If the United States does something like four soldiers urinate on Taliban corpses, it’s exemplary of the entire U.S. military by these same Islamic leaders,” he said. “But if a militant Muslim terrorist plans an attack here, somehow he’s deranged and not motivated by radical Islam. These people are apologists.”

“When you say Muslim pushback, pushback is by the Muslim Brotherhood front groups’ infrastructure in the United States. They dominate 99 percent of the leadership here, unfortunately. So they disenfranchise a lot of moderates. Unfortunately, as is the case overseas, they’ve got the money, the organization, they were here first in 1963, set up organizational front groups, grew all around the country, and now they under the cover of being Islamic civil rights groups like CAIR: the Council on American Islamic Relations.”

On other issues, Emerson said:…

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Interpol: ‘Butt Slasher’ Suspect Arrested in Peru

WASHINGTON — Interpol says the man suspected of slashing women’s behinds while they were shopping in Fairfax County stores has been captured in Peru.

An Interpol official in Peru tells WTOP Johnny Pimentel, 40, was arrested Friday in a Lima mall. He was arrested by Peruvian police by request of Fairfax County police. He is currently being held there.

Fairfax County Police say they do not have the details of the arrest.

“The work isn’t over, though, since this is one step in a process that will likely take considerable time to complete,” says police spokesperson Mary Ann Jennings.

Police say there is a lot of paperwork involved, so the extradition process could take some time, and include working closely with federal and international authorities.

Fairfax County police learned that Pimental had fled to Peru, where he is originally from, in late December.

Peruvian media widely reported that Pimental had returned to his native country.

Nine slashings were reported between February and July of 2011 at malls and shopping centers in the county, including Fair Oaks Mall and Tysons Corner Center. Police believe he used a box cutter or something like it.

There were no serious injuries reported in the attacks.

Police have still not established a motive for the attacks.

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo[Return to headlines]

Obama Czar Proposed Ban on “Conpiracy Theorizing”

Just prior to his appointment as President Obama’s so-called regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein wrote a lengthy academic paper suggesting the government should “infiltrate” social network websites, chat rooms and message boards.

Such “cognitive infiltration,” Sunstein argued, should be used to enforce a U.S. government ban on “conspiracy theorizing.”

Sunstein defined a conspiracy theory as “an effort to explain some event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.”

Some “conspiracy theories” recommended for ban by Sunstein include:

“The theory of global warming is a deliberate fraud.”

“The view that the Central Intelligence Agency was responsible for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.”

“The 1996 crash of TWA flight 800 was caused by a U.S. military missile.”

“The Trilateral Commission is responsible for important movements of the international economy.”

“That Martin Luther King Jr. was killed by federal agents.”

“The moon landing was staged and never actually occurred.”

Sunstein allowed that “some conspiracy theories, under our definition, have turned out to be true.”

He continued: “The Watergate hotel room used by Democratic National Committee was, in fact, bugged by Republican officials, operating at the behest of the White House. In the 1950s, the CIA did, in fact, administer LSD and related drugs under Project MKULTRA, in an effort to investigate the possibility of ‘mind control.’

Sunstein: Ban ‘right wing’ rumors

Sunstein’s paper is not the first time he has advocated banning the free flow of information.

In his 2009 book, “On Rumors,” Sunstein argued websites should be obliged to remove “false rumors” while libel laws should be altered to make it easier to sue for spreading such “rumors.”

In the book, Sunstein cited as a primary example of “absurd” and “hateful” remarks, reports by “right-wing websites” alleging an association between President Obama and Weatherman terrorist William Ayers.

He also singled out radio talker Sean Hannity for “attacking” Obama regarding the president’s “alleged associations.”

Ayers became a name in the 2008 presidential campaign when it was disclosed he worked closely with Obama for years. Obama also was said to have launched his political career at a 1995 fundraiser in Ayers’ apartment.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Scientists: UN Soldiers Brought Deadly Superbug to Americas

Compelling new scientific evidence suggests United Nations peacekeepers have carried a virulent strain of cholera — a super bug — into the Western Hemisphere for the first time.

The vicious form of cholera has already killed 7,000 people in Haiti, where it surfaced in a remote village in October 2010. Leading researchers from Harvard Medical School and elsewhere told ABC News that, despite UN denials, there is now a mountain of evidence suggesting the strain originated in Nepal, and was carried to Haiti by Nepalese soldiers who came to Haiti to serve as UN peacekeepers after the earthquake that ravaged the country on Jan. 12, 2010 — two years ago today. Haiti had never seen a case of cholera until the arrival of the peacekeepers, who allegedly failed to maintain sanitary conditions at their base.

“What scares me is that the strain from South Asia has been recognized as more virulent, more capable of causing severe disease, and more transmissible,” said John Mekalanos, who chairs the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School. “These strains are nasty. So far there has been no secondary outbreak. But Haiti now represents a foothold for a particularly dangerous variety of this deadly disease.”

More than 500,000 Haitians have been infected, and Mekalanos said a handful of victims who contracted cholera in Haiti have now turned up in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and in Boston, Miami and New York, but only in isolated cases.

How cholera landed in Haiti has been a politically charged topic for more than a year now, with the United Nations repeatedly refusing to acknowledge any role in the outbreak despite mounting evidence that international peacekeepers were the most likely culprits. The UN has already faced hostility from Haitians who believe peacekeeping troops have abused local residents without consequence. They now face legal action from relatives of victims who have petitioned the UN for restitution. And the cholera charge could further hamper the UN’s ability to work effectively there, two years after the country was hobbled by the earthquake.

Over the summer, Assistant Secretary General Anthony Banbury told ABC News that the UN sincerely wanted to know if it played a part in the outbreak, but independent efforts to answer that question had not succeeded. He said the disease could have just as easily been carried by a backpacker or civilian aid worker.

Banbury said the UN, through both its peacekeeping mission and its civilian organizations “are working very hard … to combat the spread of the disease and bring assistance to the people. And that’s what’s important now.”

“The scientists say it can’t be determined for certainty where it came from,” Banbury said. “So we don’t know if it was the U.N. troops or not. That’s the bottom line.”

A UN spokeswoman repeated the answer when asked again last week: “The [scientists] determined it was not possible to be conclusive about how cholera was introduced into Haiti,” said the UN’s Anayansi Lopez.

Scientists Trace Cholera Superbug to UN Peacekeepers

But ABC News has interviewed several top scientists involved in researching the origins of the cholera outbreak, and each expressed little doubt that the UN troop was responsible. The reason: A genetic analysis of the strain found in Haiti matches identically the one involved in an outbreak in Nepal in August and September of 2010; The Nepalese peacekeeping troops deployed for Haiti at precisely that time; Two weeks before the outbreak, Haitians had reported sanitary breakdowns at the Nepalese encampment set along a tributary to the Artibonite River, about 60 miles north of the capital Port Au Prince. The next month, the earliest cases of cholera surfaced in the same remote area, from Haitians who had been drinking and bathing in the river.

“The scientific debate on the origin of cholera in Haiti existed, but it has been resolved by the accumulation of evidence that unfortunately leave no doubt about the implication of the Nepalese contingent of the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti,” said French epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux, whose research on the outbreak was published by a U.S. Centers for Disease Control journal.

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo[Return to headlines]

SOPA: What if Google, Facebook and Twitter Went Offline in Protest?

Companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Paypal, Yahoo! and Wikipedia are said to be discussing a coordinated blackout of services to demonstrate the potential effect SOPA would have on the Internet, something already being called a “nuclear option” of protesting. The rumors surrounding the potential blackout were only strengthened by Markham Erickson, executive director of trade association Net

According to Erickson, the companies are well aware of how serious an act such a blackout would be:

This type of thing doesn’t happen because companies typically don’t want to put their users in that position. The difference is that these bills so fundamentally change the way the Internet works. People need to understand the effect this special-interest legislation will have on those who use the Internet.

The idea of an Internet blackout should seem familiar to anyone who’s been paying attention to the debate so far. In addition to a blackout already carried out by Mozilla, hacking group Anonymous proposed the same thing a couple of weeks ago, suggesting that sites replace their front pages with a statement protesting SOPA. That suggestion itself came a week after Jimmy Wales had asked Wikipedia users about the possibility of blacking out that site in protest of the bill.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Italy: Cruise Ship Costa Concordia: Search for Missing

Emergency teams in Italy are racing to rescue those missing after a cruise ship ran aground off the country’s west coast with about 4,000 people on board.

Coast guard vessels are combing the waters around the Costa Concordia, which is lying on its side. Divers are searching its submerged decks.

There were scenes of panic as it began listing on Friday. Most people reached land by lifeboats but some swam ashore.

Three people are confirmed dead. About 70 are said to be unaccounted for.

However, local official Giuseppe Linardi told reporters that some of those listed as missing may still be housed in private homes on the small island of Giglio — where those rescued reached land.

A large gash can be seen in the hull of the luxury liner as it lies on its side, about 200m from Giglio.

Italian, German, French and British nationals were among the 3,200 passengers on board. There were also 1,000 crew.

Some passengers were rescued by lifeboat, helicopters plucked to safety some who were trapped on the ship, and others jumped from the ship into the cold sea.

Some of the survivors are suffering from shock. About 40 people are being treated in hospital.

Coast guard captain Cosimo Nicastro told Italian TV that divers had carried out an extensive search of the waters near the vessel and found no bodies.

But he added that there still might be some “in the belly of the ship”.

‘Delayed drill’

The Costa Concordia had sailed from Civitavecchia near Rome on Friday morning for a Mediterranean cruise when it hit rocks off Giglio late that evening.

Passenger Luciano Castro told Ansa news agency: “We heard a loud noise while we were at dinner as if the keel of the ship hit something.”

Eyewitness accounts

“The ship started taking in water through the hole and began tilting.”

Some passengers told the Associated Press news agency that the crew had failed to give instructions on how to evacuate the ship.

An evacuation drill was scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

“It was so unorganised, our evacuation drill was scheduled for 17:00 (16:00 GMT),” Melissa Goduti, 28, from the US told AP. “We had joked what if something had happened today.”

Passenger Mara Parmegiani told Italian media there were “scenes of panic”.

“We were very scared and freezing because it happened while we were at dinner so everyone was in evening wear.

“We definitely didn’t have time to get anything else. They gave us blankets but there weren’t enough,” she said.

Several passengers compared the accident to the film Titanic, about the sinking of the giant ocean liner in April 1912 which claimed more than 1,500 lives.

“I can easily understand the comparisons to the film, how it must have been on the Titanic, or in a fiction film,” passenger Francesca Sinatra said.


Some “tens” of British passengers are believed to have been on board, said the UK Foreign Office, which has sent a team to the area.

Rescued passengers were initially accommodated in hotels, schools and a church on Giglio.

[Return to headlines]

Redefining Islam for the 21st Century

Progressive activists in the ‘critical Muslim’ movement are growing in strength and number

When I last logged into Facebook, I was delighted to see a surge of posters featuring a Muslim woman with the tagline “Occupy the mosque”. This does not mean I support the physical occupation of prayer spaces across the UK (especially not when people are praying), but because I believe in dismantling the status quo — a status quo that many British Muslims, especially women, have had to pay a bitter price for. A series of declarations were listed above the poster, including “Women have an Islamic right to hold leadership positions and as members of the board of directors and management committees”, and “Women have an Islamic right to be full participants in all congregational activities.”

As trivial as these rights may sound to the average secular ear, a fast-growing group of Muslim activists have proved their determination to fight for every single one. Campaigning sentiments are slowly spreading beyond the realm of private whinges, and into community centres and Twitter feeds. It goes without saying that progressive activists are still met with stiff resistance, which extends to threats and intimidation in some cases. Kalsoom Bashir, of Muslim women’s consultancy Inspire, related that extremist films were published about her on YouTube after the Guardian documented her struggle for women’s empowerment.

What is new about these critical voices is their level of organisation, and their willingness to collaborate with diverse groups. A prime example is the coalition of religious and non-religious groups who organised a counter-protest against the poppy-burners of Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) on Remembrance Day 2011 (MAC was banned the night before, rendering the counter-protest unnecessary, but that is a moot point). This week I attended the launch of the Muslim Institute’s new quarterly, Critical Muslim, which promises to usher in a new era of organised critical thought on issues relating to Islam and Muslims. Crucially, this criticism is constructive rather than personal. It is underpinned by values such as truth, justice, compassion and wisdom — values that are both Qur’anic and secular. At the very least, contributors share a deep concern about the problems that 21st-century Muslims find ourselves mired in. There is often dissatisfaction with the lack of nuance and insight in traditional religious leaders’ responses, but this is accompanied by a keen awareness of the numerous agendas that often hijack this discussion. While it would be too crude to label them all as “Islamophobic”, many external hijackers do not necessarily have the best interests of Muslims at heart. Social media interactions have the advantage of making these respective intentions clear, sifting the sincere people from the obscurantists.

This brings me to another unique feature of the critical Muslim movement: we are taking control of our own destiny, without allowing external forces to dictate the terms. For example, the recent “Happy Christmas 4ALL” Facebook campaign was an organic response to the frustration of seeing “Muslims ban Christmas” fabrications in the press. It turned into a celebration of the diverse ways in which people of all faiths and none mark the season. One Muslim friend even shared a picture of her Christmas tree, with a twist — it was festooned with the “Ninety-nine Names of Allah”. Actions like these are a testament to the values of the critical Muslim movement. Let us hope that journals like Critical Muslim further entrench open-mindedness, humility and mutual respect.

[JP note: Anything appearing in the Islamic-terrorism-supporting Guardian is suspect from the start. And festooning a Christmas tree with the names of Allah is highly distasteful.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘I Think I’ve Blown My Acting Career’: First Black Heathcliff Facing Prison After Racially Abused Pregnant Lover

He was plucked from the dole queue and thrust into the spotlight to play the first black Heathcliff in the latest film version of Wuthering Heights.

But instead of putting his troubled past behind him, 24-year-old former drug dealer James Howson is again facing a spell behind bars.

Just months after rubbing shoulders with Hollywood stars at the Venice Film Festival, the brooding actor appeared in court on Thursday, admitting he racially abused his terrified former lover and the mother of his three-month-old daughter during a four-month campaign of harassment.

On one occasion, when they refused to let him in to see his daughter, he yelled racist abuse at them. ‘I will smash your head against the wall and there will be no baby .?.?. you ****ing P*** bitches,’ he said.

He also sent text messages to his ex-girlfriend which read: ‘You little P*** slut. If I catch you I’m going to kill you.’

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: A Teacher’s Leg Was Shattered and Her Kneecap Broken in a Classroom Attack by a 10-Year-Old Pupil.

Diane Whitehead, 53, had to have surgery to pin her leg back together after she was karate kicked by the out-of-control boy.

She could be off work for more than a year recovering from her injuries.

Shockingly, it is the second time Mrs Whitehead has been attacked — two years ago she suffered two broken ribs in an assault by another pupil.

Last night union bosses called for more protection for teachers after a rise in the number of assaults in the classroom in recent years.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Hundreds Protest Plan for New Sunderland Mosque

HUNDREDS of objections have been filed against controversial plans for a new mosque.The move by an Islamic centre to submit a planning application for the place of worship has prompted a flood of complaints. Sunderland City Council has already agreed to sell the disused vehicle depot in St Mark’s Road, Millfield, which is hoped to provide a replacement for the “illegal” mosque operating further up the road. Many residents are furious at the plans, with one claiming Millfield will “end up being Mosquefield” and the council has received 623 letters of objection and a petition bearing 1,462 signatures. Lib Dem councillor Paul Dixon, who has been working with the objectors, said the residents had fought a “clean campaign” and stressed their objections were not based on racism or Islamophobia. “All credit has to go to the residents on this, and it’s been a difficult time for them to get all the objections in,” he said. “People are concerned about noise, traffic and parking. There’s also the impact on the character of the area.”

Coun Dixon said the mosque, which would include a new frontage with two domed columns, would be out of keeping with the 1900s artisan cottages in the area. He said prayer times — which can take place in the early hours of the morning — were also a concern. He added: “It’s next to a nursing home. I understand the residents and manager have objected and is near a lot of elderly people’s homes.” The councillor said residents had “taken stick from all sides”, including extreme right-wing groups and people at the council. He said Millfield was a multi-ethnic, multi-faith area and the mosque plans risks “upsetting the balance”. The proposals include 20 parking spaces, separate male and female entrances and prayer areas, a library and social services facilities, washing and toilet facilities and a body preparation area.

The application was submitted by Mazhar Mahmood on behalf of the Pakistani Islamic Centre. The Echo was unable to contact anyone from the group. So far, there have been three letters in favour of the development. One supporter, Ahmed Salim, said the new mosque would allow a multicultural society to flourish, and provide services lacking in the area.

Christine Spoor, who lives off Hylton Street, said there were already three mosques in the area, including the present centre in St Mark’s Road, which is operating without planning permission. “It will end up being mosquefield, not Millfield,” she said. Ms Spoor said she was concerned about noise, parking and traffic — particularly highway safety — and fears mosque parking could open the floodgates for illegal parking by passengers using the Metro station. She said: “I understand there’s going to be a morgue there. You can’t predict when someone is going to pass away, so they will want to have access at all times.”

Steven Helens, 43, from Regal Road, vice-chairman of the Millfield Residents’ Association, said: “This development is too big for such a small residential area. There are already issues with parking and noise from the existing mosque in Millfield.” Paul Carr, 36, a sports science student at Sunderland University, lives with wife Helen, 37, and children Hannah, five, and Adam, 10, in Earl Street. He is concerned about noise and highway issues, and the fact he feels the mosque will not fit with the residential area. Mr Carr said the council had been looking at introducing traffic-calming measures, but he understood these had been put on hold in light of the application. He said: “Does that mean the mosque is more important than my kids’ safety? That’s what I’m taking it as.” A spokesman for Sunderland City Council said: “As with all planning applications, interested parties have the opportunity and have been making their representations. This application for change of use of a vehicle storage depot at St Mark’s Road to provide a place of worship will be considered in due course. Details are available at”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Harry’s Place Supports Terrorism

Harry’s Place is a Zionist blog that specialises in witch-hunting politically engaged Muslims, and supporters of the Palestinian cause generally, by portraying them as supporters of violent extremism. Yet last week one of HP’s main contributors, Gene Zitver, posted a piece on the murder of Iranian scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan which concluded approvingly: “Assuming it is the Mossad, their ability to operate like this in the heart of an enemy country is impressive, to say the least.” Yesterday Zitver sneered that in Iran “nuclear science appears to be a notably unsafe profession” and provided a link to his previous post. It’s not difficult to imagine what the response of Zitver and his colleagues would be if Iran’s intelligence service were targeting Israeli nuclear scientists for assassination. Harry’s Place would be furiously denouncing these acts of terrorism and condemning anyone who tried to justify the killings as a terrorist sympathiser. Of course, we’ve come to expect double standards from Harry’s Place. They have loudly called for Raed Salah to be expelled from the UK, claiming that he is an antisemite, but enthusiastically applauded an invitation to the anti-Muslim racist Benny Morris to address a meeting at the London School of Economics. Even so, I was taken aback by Zitver’s open expression of admiration for the terrorist killing of civilians. Hopefully, next time Harry’s Place tries to witch-hunt an individual or organisation from the Muslim community as an extremist supporter of terrorist violence, this will be dismissed as the hypocritical c*** that it plainly is.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: MCB Newsletter — Issue 9

The latest Issue of Network MCB is out! To find out the latest, you can download a copy here: Network Issue 9

Network Highlights:

  • Highlights from the MCB Eid Reception and the Hajj vaccination project
  • An insight into a briefing event on Prevent
  • A full page feature on the Young Muslim Beacon Awards 2011
  • Welcoming MCB’s New Affiliates

And much, much more…!

To pick up your free copy and subscribe to Network MCB, please email:

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Man Jailed With Friends for Starting Mosque Fire

A BROADFIELD man has been jailed for three years after he and two friends set fire to a mosque. James Everley and his accomplices stole paraffin from a petrol station and then headed to Haywards Heath Mosque. Once there they smashed a window, threw the accelerant inside, started the blaze and fled. Everley, 20, of Broadwood Rise, Josh Morris, 20, of Sussex Road, Haywards Heath, and James Smith, 20, of St Andrew’s Road, Burgess Hill, were sentenced at Hove Crown Court last Thursday. All three had pleaded guilty to theft of the paraffin, a public order offence and arson. They were all jailed for three years. The blaze was started at about 2.10am on Sunday, February 13, last year.

At an earlier hearing, prosecutor Dawn Walmsley said: “The defendants went into a petrol station and stole cannisters of paraffin before heading to the mosque. A window was smashed and an accelerant was thrown inside, which started a fire on a very expensive religious carpet. The person staying at the mosque overnight, to prepare for morning prayer, was awoken by the smoke alarm and managed to put out the fire with a bucket of water. This fire could have developed into a very serious incident with fatal consequences. The group were later stopped by police nearby smelling of petrol.”

After the trio were jailed, Chief Inspector Jon Hull said: “The mosque was occupied at the time this fire was started and it could have had devastating consequences if it hadn’t been put out quickly. Thankfully only damage was caused to the building. Everyone who lives, works or visits Sussex has a right to go about their lives without becoming the victim of a hate crime because of their disability, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Man Injured in London EDL Disturbance

A man was taken to hospital and 15 people were arrested after a fight involving the English Defence League in east London, police say.

Police were called to reports of an assault in Whitechapel Road on Saturday afternoon when EDL supporters travelled to the area after a gathering in Barking.

The fight led to a larger disturbance, at one point involving several hundred people, and bottles were thrown.

All those arrested have been released.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the incident began at about 17:00 GMT when there were calls about a “large fight” in the area, which is near to the East London Mosque.

An ambulance was called to assist the injured man and he was taken to hospital. His injuries were said to be not life-threatening.

The police spokesman said passers-by became involved in the disturbance and some bottles were thrown.

Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, said she visited the area after she became aware of police being called.

‘Increased presence’

She said: “I was out visiting constituents when I saw the police cars.

“As far as I could see, the police were doing their job. There were a lot of young people around but the police are very adept at handling these situations.

“What I am saying to people is not to rise to the provocation.

“The police have reassured me that they will have an increased presence in the area.”

Police said the 15 people were arrested to prevent a breach of the peace.

[Return to headlines]

UK: New Accrington Police Station Could be Built by Proposed Mosque

A NEW police station in Accrington could be built on land next to a proposed £4million mosque. Lancashire Police are keen to move from its current Grade-II listed Accrington Road building which is costing the force money to maintain. A £1.5million move to a new building was put on hold last year pending the organisational reviews into frontline policing.

Then provisional plans to rent a property called Castle House adjacent to the existing site were submitted to the council. It is on police owned land and was formerly the road policing unit. Lancashire Police Authority was told that plan would be ‘cost neutral’. Now an alternative option has been added to the equation, with Hyndburn Council saying the police have made inquiries about land between Steiner Street, Portland Street and Frederick Street, off Hyndburn Road in west Accrington.

Part of the land is earmarked for a mosque for 2,500 worshippers. The police station would be built next door to it. Central ward Coun Allah Dad said: “This land was reserved for a mosque. The committee and the community still want it there and there is a demand and a need for it. It was promised in 2009, the funding is there, but there have been delays. I think this is down to a lack of communication and a change in council control. We are waiting for an agreement to be put in place and I’m going to try and make sure it happens. We have only just found about the possible plans for a police station. People don’t want it there and we will campaign strongly against this. We are not against a police station, just the location. This land is reserved for the mosque.” Chief Insp Julian Platt said the site was one of a number of different location being considered. He said: “We are looking for the most suitable site which allows us to best serve the communities of Hyndburn.” A final decision will be made by Lancashire Police Authority.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Predator In Sex Case Jailed

A “PREDATORY” man “saw no harm” in sexually assaulting a teenager from a different ethnic background, a court was told.

Abdul Mehri, aged 25, attacked the girl because he did not think it would transgress his religious beliefs, Bolton Crown Court heard yesterday.

And sending him to prison for six months Judge Steven Everett said: “It is clear to me you were prepared to lie through your back teeth to prevent the jury from rightly convicting you.

The court heard that the offence committed by Mehri would not normally result in a jail sentence. However, Mehri was described as being both predatory and opportunistic.

Judge Everett added: “You saw your victim as an easy target and a way to fulfill your sexual needs without transgressing your religious beliefs. That is patently obvious to me.

“This was arrogant behaviour of someone who believed that if she made a complaint that no-one would believe her. The message must go out to you and others like you that if you take advantage of young women in this way you will go to prison.”

The judge also recommended that Mehri, of Tildsley Street, Daubhill, should be deported to Afghanistan, where he is originally from. He moved to this country in 2005.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


Kosovo Turns Blind Eye to Illegal Mosques

By Besiana Xharra

An illegal construction boom that has carpeted Kosovo’s cities and villages with unlicensed buildings is not confined to homes and shops. A survey of Kosovo municipalities by Balkan Insight has revealed that more than 100 mosques have been built without planning permission in the past ten years. To date, action has been taken against just one illegal mosque and local authorities told Balkan Insight they are hesitant about committing themselves to removing such buildings in the future. The Islamic Community of Kosovo, BIK, through various funding channels, has been reconstructing 113 war-damaged mosques, as well building as 155 new places of worship, since 1999. An investigation by Balkan Insight can reveal that almost all have been erected illegally. “We have repaired or rebuilt 113 of those [mosques] 218 destroyed during the war,” says Sabri Bajgora of the BIK. “Besides those, we have also built another 155 news mosques by the end of 2010, and are currently building another 20.” Balkan Insight has researched the situation in Kosovo’s seven largest municipalities: Pristina, Prizren, Urosevac/Ferizaj, Pec/Peja, Djakovica/Gjakova, Gnjilane/Gjilan and Mitrovica. Each town or city hall acknowledged that illegal mosques have been erected under their jurisdiction, especially in rural areas, though some refused to provide exact figures.

Prizren is fabled for its ancient Ottoman architecture, but is now becoming better known for its skyline of garish illegal minarets that have been springing up since 1999. The city council told Balkan Insight that that 70 per cent of the mosques in the city had no planning permission. Kosovo’s Islamic community said Prizren is home to the highest number of mosques in the country, 77. If the municipal figures are accurate, this would put the number of illegal mosques in Prizren at 54. Director of urban planning Sadik Paçarizi said: “Of all religious objects, such as Catholic or Orthodox churches, mosques are those that violate the law most. About 70 per cent of mosques in the municipality have no building permit.” He added that a plan had been drawn up to knock down the illegal mosques but had been shelved pending a resolution of the broader problems of illegal builds in the city.

Gjilan mayor Qemajl Mustafa admits that in his municipality almost all mosques built since the war lack building permits. But he said that since he became mayor in 2007 the situation had improved. “From the time I became mayor, this phenomenon has stopped because we have made an agreement with BIK on this issue,” he said. “Now they apply for permits before starting to build any new mosque,” Mustafa added.He confirmed that no illegally built mosque had been destroyed, however.

In the western city of Gjakova, not a single illegal mosque has been tackled since the end of the 1999 conflict. “The reason I didn’t want to destroy any of these illegal buildings is because such buildings are considered sacred and of benefit to citizens,” Gjakova mayor Pal Lekaj said. The director of urban planning in Peja, Gazmend Muhaxhirim, said he had no figures about illegal constructions but admitted that some mosques had been built without permits. “Some illegal mosques were built since the war but recently builders have started to seek permission from the municipality,” he said. “At the moment we are already dealing with several such applications.” Officials at Ferizaj and Mitrovica declined to comment on the issue.

Pristina municipality told Balkan Insight that it had destroyed one unplanned mosque four years ago while it was still under construction. Despite this action, another illegal mosque was rebuilt on the same site. Muhamet Gashi, acting director of inspections, said that given the city’s overall problems with illegal construction, mosques were not a priority. “We have no plans right now to destroy any illegal mosques as we are awaiting approval of a law on how to handle illegal buildings, and then all illegal buildings, together with mosques, will be reviewed,” Gashi said. “Pristina municipality has given permission for the restoration of mosques, but not for new ones,” he added.The issue is particular sensitive in Pristina as the Islamic community this year has protested about the municipality’s failure to find what they consider a suitable spot for a new city-centre mosque. They complain that their situation is markedly different to that of the city’s small Catholic community. The city hall offered them a prime location for a new cathedral, which opened last year. Muhamet Gashi said that the municipality had already issued the BIK a permit to build on a large plot on the edge of the city centre.

But the BIK has so far rejected this. “The issue has stalled. We don’t have any other places to offer, so we haven’t made any further progress,” said Gashi. Sabri Bajgora said their demands for a city-centre location had nothing to do with the position of the new cathedral; it was a question of ease of access. “The site [offered] near the PTK [Post and Telecommunications] is not good because it is a small site and is not in the centre,” he said. “The best place to build a big mosque remains near Pristina University, in front of the Albanology Institute. This is the best place but we haven’t agreed yet with municipality. We are now waiting for another answer from them, but until now nothing has happened.”

Behxhet Shala, director of the Council for Human Rights, says the reason why Kosovo mayors have not tackled illegal mosques is that it could be construed as an attack on religious freedom. He added that the skeletal Orthodox church in the park surrounding Pristina University has also not been touched since construction began in the mid-1990s. “If that illegal church had been destroyed immediately after the [1999] war, it would have set an example for other illegal buildings and for the BIK too,” Shala said. “Now it is difficult to deal with them.” According to him, however, this issue must be addressed at some point.Sabri Bajgora of the BIK admits that mosques have been built without planning permission. “To be honest, mostly in villages, some mosques are built without permission from municipalities. But no mosque is built without our permission,” he said. Bahri Sejdiu, head of the BIK for Pristina, also admits that most mosques in the city centre have no building permit, but blames the municipality for the omission. “Most Pristina mosques have been built without permission because the municipality sits on such requests for months,” Sejdiu said.

This article is funded under the BICCED project, supported by the Swiss Cultural Programme.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Tunisia: Foreign Secretary [UK] Comments on Tunisia — One Year on From Ben Ali’s Departure

Speaking ahead of the anniversary of the fall of the Ben Ali regime, Foreign Secretary William Hague gave a statement. The Foreign Secretary said:

“The events in Tunisia culminating on 14 January 2011 with the departure of President Ben Ali marked the beginning of a new era for the Middle East and North Africa, and showed that the desire for freedom can overcome entrenched and repressive regimes. What happened in Tunisia inspired millions of people across the region to demand freedom for themselves and accountability from their governments. In the past year Tunisia has made impressive progress: introducing greater openness, holding free and fair elections and forming an inclusive coalition government. The UK will continue to support Tunisia’s transition and the crucial work now under way to entrench freedoms and build accountable institutions”.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Cameron’s Visit to Saudi Undermines William Hague’s Call for Islamic Democracy in the Middle East

David Cameron’s first Prime Ministerial visit to Saudi Arabia today will not be helped by the news that a Shia protestor has been killed in eastern Saudi Arabia’s Qatif region, in a demonstration calling for the release of Shia political prisoners in the country. His visit also comes at a time when MPs on the Committee on Arms Export Controls demand to know why the Government has continued to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, “given there was some unrest”. Whilst bilateral trade between the UK and Saudi Arabia (worth £15 billion) will be discussed, so too will be human rights and “regional and international issues of common interest” (as reported by the official Saudi SPA news agency). The situation in Syria and manoeuvres by Iran in the Persian Gulf will inevitably top the agenda.

However, it is an opinion piece in the Times today by William Hague, which is the domestic springboard for today’s visit. Hague’s comments state the obvious — but it remains to be seen whether it is well or ill-timed for Cameron to raise the issues of human rights and democracy (albeit in different contexts) with the Saudi royal family. Hague admits that despite it not being ideal that “legitimate concerns” exist since “parties drawing their inspiration from Islam” in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya have done “better at the polls” than their secular counterparts, the democratic choices made by the people should be accepted. He continues:

“We must respect these choices while upholding our own principles of human rights and freedom and urging the highest standards. Trying to pick winners would fatally undermine faith in our intentions and our support for democracy. In standing up for the right of peoples to choose their own representatives at the ballot box, we have to accept their choices and work with the governments they elect.”

It is therefore disconcerting that David Cameron will be discussing the democratic future of Syria and the ousting of President Assad when the Saudis have not only been involved in the crushing of dissent in Bahrain (sending 1,000 troops), but also in their own eastern province. Saudi promises of reform, perhaps comparable to Assad’s, have hardly met expectations either. It exposes him to the charge of hypocrisy — and, most crucially, such a stance compromises the diplomatic successes of the Foreign Office under William Hague (and there have been many). Perhaps Cameron’s diplomatic plan is a passive one: for dialogue to continue with the Saudis, as it did with Mubarak and to some extent Gaddafi, in the hope of the regime fading in due course without an active demand of change and democracy. Meanwhile, the rewards of a Saudi relationship can also be reaped. This approach, although perhaps morally objectionable, has its political rewards. The Saudis, who were the first to issue a strong statement condemning the violent crackdown in Syria by regime forces, did so in the full knowledge of their own hypocrisy. As the Guardian’s Brian Whitaker remarked at the time:

“King Abdullah has shown no inclination towards the “quick and comprehensive reforms” that he is now urging upon Syria; Saudi Arabia has nothing to teach Syria about democracy, and protest demonstrations in the kingdom are totally banned. So the king’s message to Syria betrays more than a little irony.”

Both friendliness towards the Saudis, and an understanding given to Bahrain (unlike other Arab states), foreign policy contrasts Hague’s message of “human rights and freedom and urging the highest standards”. He did after all write today:

“Trying to pick winners would fatally undermine faith in our intentions and our support for democracy”.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Iraq Civilians Killed and Injured in Basra Explosion

A suicide bombing using an explosives belt left a number of civilians, including women and children, among killed and wounded western Al Basra, a police source announced on Saturday. “A suicide bomber blew up himself, this morning, targeting civilians heading to Al Khotwa mosque, western Al Basra,” the source told Alsumarianews adding that the explosion led to the death and injury of an undetermined number of civilians including women and children. “Ambulance cars rushed to the incident site and transported wounded to a nearby hospital for treatment and corpses to the department of forensic medicine,” the source declared on condition of anonymity adding that a security force cordoned off the region and blocked all roads leading to it, the source told Alsumaria. Al Khotwa Mosque, situated near Al Basra city on the eastern entrance of Al Zubair District center, was the second mosque built following Al Masjid Al Nabawi in the city of Medina, and the first one to be built outside KSA. Imam Ali Bin Abi Taleb prayed, during Al Jamal battle in 36 AH, at Al Khotwa mosque which bears a significant importance for Shiites who mass up by thousands in the mosque on religious occasions.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

The Hyprocrisy of Cameron’s Saudi Trip

A year ago, Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled Tunisia for Saudi Arabia, thus ushering in the Salafi Spring. No doubt now bored out of his mind, this once stubbornly secular leader is said to have caught religion of the deranged Wahhabi variety propagated by his oil-rich hosts. In turn, the Saudis are preparing to welcome Rachid Ghannouchi — the notoriously humble leader of the even more notoriously moderate Ennahda that now controls Tunisia’s parliament — on a state visit. This week Ghannouchi has been heaping praise on the Persian Gulf monarchies, doing us all the favour of revealing where his true sympathies lie when it comes to issues like religious moderation and its love affair with democracy. Tomorrow in Tunisia, where I happen to be, celebrations for the Jasmine Revolution’s anniversary include an invitation list of what can only be described as a Rogues’ Gallery of Arab despots, including Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. Al-Thani, like Ben Ali, seems to have come over all Wahhabi, having renamed his tiny island’s main mosque after none other than Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the eighteenth-century ‘reformist’ bigot who perhaps did more than anyone else in Islamic history to ensure the Enlightenment never made it to large swathes of the Arab world.

If all this were not depressing enough, David Cameron is choosing to spend the anniversary of the Salafi Spring not in Tunisia but Saudi Arabia, taking time from his own busy schedule of promoting democracy throughout the Middle East by meeting with Prince Naif. Cameron’s goal: to strengthen Britain’s ties with its main trading partner. In a sideshow to the official welcoming party, Naif’s security forces gunned down peaceful Shia protestors in the Eastern Province, killing at least one. It was the British, we should recall, who funded Ibn Saud, the founder of the Wahhabi kingdom — even sending the RAF to bomb his enemies. The idea, of course, was to make Saudi Arabia dependent on his British paymasters. That worked for a while. But the stinking hypocrisy engulfing Cameron’s trip shows that it’s now the Saudis who have the bankrupt British firmly over a barrel.

Consider William Hague’s announcement in today’s Times that the UK will support the Islamic governments elected in the wake of the Arab Spring on account of them representing the will of the people. ‘It is true that parties drawing their inspiration from Islam have done better at the polls than secular parties and there are legitimate concerns about what this will mean,’ he explained. Leaving aside his lack of concern at the barbaric nature of the House of Saud’s rule, the irony is that the Islamists triumphed in elections in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt for a reason that Cameron can be sure to avoid discussing as purposefully as he will the shooting incident in the Eastern Province: the Islamist parties, like Britain’s economy, are bankrolled by the Wahhabis.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

U.S. Warns Israel on Strike

Officials Lobby Against Attack on Iran as Military Leaders Bolster Defenses

WASHINGTON—U.S. defense leaders are increasingly concerned that Israel is preparing to take military action against Iran, over U.S. objections, and have stepped up contingency planning to safeguard U.S. facilities in the region in case of a conflict.

.President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top officials have delivered a string of private messages to Israeli leaders warning about the dire consequences of a strike. The U.S. wants Israel to give more time for the effects of sanctions and other measures intended to force Iran to abandon its perceived efforts to build nuclear weapons.

Stepping up the pressure, Mr. Obama spoke by telephone on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet with Israeli military officials in Tel Aviv next week.

The high-stakes planning and diplomacy comes as U.S. officials warn Tehran, including through what administration officials described Friday as direct messages to Iran’s leaders, against provocative actions.

..Tehran has warned that it could retaliate to tightened sanctions by blocking oil trade through the Strait of Hormuz. On Thursday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed to punish the perpetrators of the assassination—blamed by Iran on the U.S. and Israel—of an Iranian scientist involved in the nuclear program.

The U.S. denied the charge and condemned the attack. Israel hasn’t commented…

[Return to headlines]

William Hague: “Freedom is Still Flowering in the Arab Spring”

Marking the first anniversary of the Arab Spring, Foreign Secretary William Hague has written about developments in an article published today.

Some are already writing the obituary of the Arab awakening. They point to bloodshed in Syria, clashes in Egypt and attacks on religious minorities as evidence that the revolutions have lost their way.Electoral success by parties rooted in Islam has led some to fear that change may be for the worse. But to say that Arab Spring has turned into cold winter is wrong. Such pessimism misses the extraordinary opportunities that popular demand for freedom and dignity bring, and could lead us to disengage at a time when we need to redouble our diplomatic and long-term support to the region. The Arab Spring was always going to be a long process, not an instant fix. It was bound to take different forms in each country. The staging of genuine elections in countries that have been denied them for decades is significant. But it is what happens after elections that will determine success or failure.

The new governments in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya face enormous challenges as well as sky-high expectations from their people. Having paid a high price for their revolutions, they expect tangible improvements in daily life. As Eastern Europe after 1989 showed, this takes time. One year on, we must steel ourselves for setbacks and crises, such as we see in Syria today, but there will also be great progress in other parts of the region. This is the new reality. But being realistic does not mean losing faith. Far from it: greater freedom and democracy in the Middle East is an idea whose time has come. It holds the greatest prospect for the enlargement of human freedom and dignity since the end of the Cold War.

On the positive side, Tunisia has its first democratically elected parliament since the 1950s, with 24 per cent of the seats held by women. Morocco has held free elections under a new constitution that, for the first time in its history, means a prime minister from the party that won most votes, rather than one picked by the King. Turnout in the first phase of Egypt’s elections was above 60 per cent, compared with 23 per cent in the 2005 elections under the Mubarak regime. Libya has a new government after more than 40 years of dictatorship. Positive reform is under way in Jordan, and Yemen has agreed a political transition negotiated by the increasingly influential Gulf Co-operation Council. Bahrain has begun to take steps to implement the conclusions of its commission of inquiry into the violence last year, although the need for full implementation remains.

We are seeing governments required to be more responsive to the demands of their people. Principles that underpin democracy are beginning to take greater hold, such as the need for popular consent, the right to seek redress, to be protected against arbitrary punishment and to have space for freedom of expression. We have also seen a groundbreaking shift in the willingness of members of the Arab League to show leadership in confronting crises in their midst. These are trends that must be supported. It is in our national interest to see stable and open societies emerge across the Middle East over time.

It is true that parties drawing their inspiration from Islam have done better at the polls than secular parties and there are legitimate concerns about what this will mean. Their success is partly a legacy of the refusal of governments to allow the development of meaningful opposition parties in the past. It may also be part of a tendency to vote for groups believed to have done the most to oppose dictatorship and corruption and to offer basic welfare. Either way, we must respect these choices while upholding our own principles of human rights and freedom and urging the highest standards. Trying to pick winners would fatally undermine faith in our intentions and our support for democracy. In standing up for the right of peoples to choose their own representatives at the ballot box, we have to accept their choices and work with the governments they elect.

Again it will not be easy. But these parties will be under pressure to stick by their pledges to share power and chart a moderate course. The scale of the economic problems they face is monumental. They will have to seek coalition partners and to reassure international investors if they are to meet the expectations of their people. We cannot guarantee that they will take this path, but if they do not they risk angering people who can easily turn to the streets. The true test of these governments will be how they act in office and, ultimately, whether they are prepared to surrender power if rejected at the ballot box and will make a commitment to non-violence. This makes our engagement with them all the more important.

Our most immediate challenge is in Syria, where the killing of more than 5,000 people, combined with horrific accounts of torture and oppression, risk plunging that country into civil war. All our efforts are devoted to strengthening the hand of the Arab League as it attempts to broker an end to the violence, maintaining economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime, supporting the emerging opposition, and pressing for a UN Security Council response as well as the departure of President Assad. A more stable and free Middle East will be the work of generations. We cannot dictate choices and each country has a right to find its own way. We respect the concern for stability, but will always argue that no change — or change at a snail’s pace — can no longer ensure it. We will also be adamant that the erosion of women’s rights would be fundamentally wrong and that attacks on Christian communities are unacceptable.

We will work with all governments in the region committed to reform and will invest time and resources in strengthening civil society: we are already supporting 47 projects in nine countries in the region that support the building blocks of democracy including media freedom, voter education and transparency. We will deepen our Arab Partnership Initiative and our Gulf Dialogue, as well as working for bold support from the EU, World Bank and IMF. We will continue to try with our allies to push forward the stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. And we will resist the efforts of those such as elements of the Iranian regime that back bloodshed and repression in Syria and beyond. Now is not the time to lose faith in the Arab awakening — but to show the same boldness in our thinking as the people of the region have shown in their actions.”

This piece first appeared in The Times newspaper.

[JP note: William Hague is the quintessentially optimistic, Muslim Brotherhood sock-puppet.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria: Moslems Sue for Peace

Imams all over the country urge peace and stability

During the Friday Juma’at prayers held all over the country, various Moslem clerics around Nigeria prayed for the resolution of the ongoing fuel subsidy removal crisis in the country and also urged citizens to live in peace. Despite the strike which was in its fifth day, Bauchi State witnessed massive turnout of Moslems who worshipped peacefully at the Bauchi Central Mosque, as well as at Gwallaga and Kano Road Mosques. The Chief Imam of the Kano Road Mosque, Alhaji Mohammed Isa, preached on the need for Nigerians to refrain from demeaning leaders, adding, that “a people get the kind of leadership it deserves”. He enjoined Muslims to put their trust in God, and attributed the travails of the nation to the handiwork of individuals. “Our over reliance on man has led us to blaming all woes on him. The only way to wipe away our tears is to pray and seek God’s forgiveness in the situation we find ourselves today.”

Security personnel were deployed to various mosques in the city to forestall any breach of the peace. In Sokoto State, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar prayed at the Sultan Bello Juma’at Mosque, while the state governor, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko, prayed at the Sultan Muhammadu Maccido Juma’at Mosque. In Benin, Edo State, the Chief Imam of Benin Central Mosque, Abdulfatai Enabulele, in his sermon urged the worshippers to continue to live in peace and to put their trust in Allah. In Yola, the situation was the same, as thousands of Moslems performed the Friday prayers peacefully across the state capital and environs. Most of the sermons preached in the various mosques centred on the need for peaceful co-existence among the people of the state. There were also special prayers for peace and prosperity of the state and the nation. At the Yola Central Mosque, the Chief Imam, Ahmadu Bobboi, urged Moslems to live peacefully with one another. “Islam prohibits killing of innocent lives, as well as teaches its followers to live and interact peacefully with their neighbours,” Bobboi said. In Ibadan, attendance in various Mosques was low compared to the past. The Chief Imam of the Ring Road mosque, Alhaji Fadhil Siyanbola, prayed for a peaceful end to the nationwide strike.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Mexico Drug War Deaths Over Five Years Now Total 47,515

On Wednesday, Mexico’s Federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) released figures showing that 12,903 people had been killed in drug-related violence during the first nine months of 2011.

It was the first time official statistics had been released since January 2011 and came in response to a series of freedom of information requests over several months.

The PGR said that the 11% rise was “a significant decrease” on previous years.

In 2009-2010, murders jumped 70%; 2008-2009 saw a 63% rise and there was a 110% jump in 2007-2008.

But with the 2011 figures running just until September, the overall number of murders could be some 16,000.

The PGR said that the violence was concentrated in a quarter of Mexico’s states.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

So What’s Changed in Two Years? Staggering Pictures Show How Haiti is Still a Shattered Wreck (Despite Billions in Aid Donations)

Two years after a devastating earthquake, Haiti is struggling to rebuild its ravaged buildings and hundreds of thousands of victims remain homeless.

The 7.0 magnitude quake on January 12, 2010, lasted only a few seconds but killed around 300,000 people and left more than 1.5million without homes.

Since then, however, reconstruction has been painfully slow, with squalid tent camps housing more than a half a million people in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Judge: NJ Church Illegally Banned Gay Ceremony

A New Jersey judge says the Methodist Church violated a state law in refusing to allow a same-sex ceremony on its property in 2007.

On Thursday, Administrative Law Judge Solomon Metzger said the decision made by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association violated New Jersey’s discrimination laws.

Metzger ruled the pavilion area where the couple wanted to hold the ceremony is a public space and is advertised as a wedding venue without any religious pre-conditions.

The church argued that the pavilion was an extension of its wedding ministry, an argument that the judge rejected.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]