Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120128

Financial Crisis
»Fitch Downgrades Italy, Spain and Three Other Euro-Countries
»Greece Scathing on German Budget ‘Takeover’ Plan
»Italy: Government Passes Simplification Package
»Profligate Spanish Regions Face EU Greek-Style EU Intervention
»Spain: Unemployment Hits Record High of Over Five Million at End of 2011
»World Finance Leaders Demand Quick Action From EU on Debt
»Calling it Sharia Shouldn’t Make it Scary — Op-Ed
»Enemies of the States [John Esposito Interview]
»Fearing Muslim-Americans
»GOP Establishment Mobilizes Against Newt Gingrich
»Jewish Man Charged With Anti-Semitic Threats
»Little Change in Public’s Response to ‘Capitalism, ‘ ‘Socialism’
»Motive of Shooter Who Targeted Military Sites is Unclear
»The Third Jihad, Adelson, And Gingrich
»Utah Muslims and Jews to Feast on Food, Friendship
»Woman Finds Life’s Work in Writings of Islamic Scholar
Europe and the EU
»Austria: German Held at Elite Ball Protest ‘Had Explosives’
»Austria: Bank Robbers Caught on Facebook
»Austria: Increasing Visitor Numbers at Schönbrunn Zoo
»Berlin Goes Nuts Over Rare Palm Fruit
»Berlin: EU Should Manage Greek Budget
»Death Threats for Singer of Burqa Song
»EU: Inquiry Into Alitalia, Air France and Delta Joint Venture
»France:16-Year-Old Pupil Held Over Teacher Stabbing
»Greece: Brussels: Aid Given to Cereal Sector Illegal
»Greece: MPs Reject Deregulation of Pharmacy Working Hours
»Japanese Restaurants Now Serve Halal
»Spain Seeks Fresh Gibraltar Discussions With Britain
»Sweden: Man Disciplined for Comparing Baby to Saddam Hussein
»Sweden: Two Men Shot in Malmö
»UK: Doreen Lawrence Attacks Government Over Racism
»UK: Disgraced Tower Hamlets Councillor Shelina Akhtar Refuses to Step Down
»UK: MP Jeremy Corbyn: My Demo Days
»UK: Man Admits Sending ‘Somali Three’ Terror Funding
»Young Men Who Reject Britain to Join Jihad
North Africa
»Egypt: Why Islamists Are Not Like Christian Democrats
»Libya: Torture: MSF Suspends Activities in Misrata
»Over 3000 Muslims Attack Christian Homes and Shops in Egypt, 3 Injured
Israel and the Palestinians
»Same Message, Different Mufti: The Rhetoric of the 1940s in 2012
Middle East
»Arab Spring Becoming Christian Winter
»Iran Oil Boss Cautious on Impact of EU Embargo
»‘Islam is Islam, And That’s It’
»Saudi Arabia: Man Demands Wife’s Death for Killing Daughter
»Stuxnet Trumps Monster USAF Bunker Buster Bombs
»Syria: A Family’s Struggle in Latakia
»Turkey Has Highest Conviction Rate in EU Court
South Asia
»Pakistan: Fazlur Rehman Vows to Make Pakistan Islamic Welfare State
Far East
»Alien Hybrid or Starchild Discovered in China?
»North Korea Threatens to Punish Mobile-Phone Users as ‘War Criminals’
Australia — Pacific
»Open Door at Adelaide’s Mosques
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Nigeria: Boko Haram to Continue Attacks for Sharia: Report
»Nigeria: Gunmen Set 15 Traders Ablaze in Nigeria
»Kosovo: 9 Charged With Clandestine Migrant Trafficking
»Sex Predator Who Murdered His Wife in Czech Republic Allowed Into UK to Carry Out Knifepoint Rape and String of Attacks
Culture Wars
»Australia: Thousands of Parents Illegally Home Schooling
»Don’t Legalise Gay Marriage, Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu Warns David Cameron
»Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice
»UK: Vilified for Telling the Truth: The Christian GP Whose Life Was Made Hell After He Questioned the Legalise Drugs Campaign
»NASA to Discuss Discoveries of Material From Beyond Solar System on Tuesday
»Resistant Bacteria: Antibiotics Prove Powerless as Super-Germs Spread
»Worst Form of Human Trafficking

Financial Crisis

Fitch Downgrades Italy, Spain and Three Other Euro-Countries

Fitch on Friday joined Standard&Poor’s in downgrading Italy, Spain, Belgium, Slovenia and Cyprus, but kept France’s triple A rating. The agency didn’t rule out a disorderly Greek default, nor a break-up of the eurozone, but said both are unlikely. The euro-crisis will only end when the economy recovers, it added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece Scathing on German Budget ‘Takeover’ Plan

(ATHENS) — A Greek government minister on Saturday poured scorn on reported calls by Germany for Athens to surrender control of its budget, as Greece said it was close to a deal with its private creditors. Greek Education Minister and former EU commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou rejected the notion as “the product of a sick imagination”.

Amid this latest controversy, senior Greek politicians and private creditors said they were close to reaching an agreement on writing down Greek debt to avert a looming default. The idea that Greece might cede control over its budget was contained in a German submission to its eurozone partners revealed late on Friday by the Financial Times.

Under the radical German plan, a commissioner appointed by the other eurozone finance ministers would be able to veto budget decisions made by the Greek government.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Government Passes Simplification Package

‘Less cost, hassle and time to do business’ says De Vincenti

(ANSA) — Rome, January 27 — The government on Friday approved a package that aims to simplify regulations and spur development. “It aims to reduce the cost, the hassle, and the time it takes to do business,” said Economic Development Undersecretary Claudio De Vincenti. The decree, which passed after nearly six hours of cabinet meetings, also intends to remove red tape in various sectors of society. According to the measure, immigrants will have an easier time obtaining work permits, more fees can be paid electronically, and processing data and records will become more centralized.

The package is the latest in the emergency government’s efforts to combat the country’s economic crisis. Last week, Premier Mario Monti’s cabinet passed a liberalization package aimed at freeing up the market to more competition as a means to stimulate growth. Monti’s government has also approved a 30-billion-euro austerity package of tax increases and spending cuts to help put Italy’s public finances in order.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Profligate Spanish Regions Face EU Greek-Style EU Intervention

Cabinet approves draft Budget Stability and Fiscal Sustainability Law

Spain’s central government warned regional authorities that it will intervene in their financial affairs if they fail to meet deficit targets, much as Europe is doing with Greece. Friday’s cabinet meeting approved the draft Budget Stability and Fiscal Sustainability Law, which elaborates on the principle of budget stability encoded in Article 135 of the Constitution.

This is not the first time that the Popular Party (PP) government, in power since December, threatens the regions with direct action in a bid to ease market concerns about Spain’s ability to contain its budget deficit, which was eight percent of GDP at the end of 2011. The 2012 target is 4.4 percent. Treasury Minister Cristóbal Montoro said sanctions for offending regions included a fine of up to 0.2 percent of the regional budget.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: Unemployment Hits Record High of Over Five Million at End of 2011

Spain cries out for labor reform as jobless rate climbs to almost 23 percent

Spain’s jobless rate hit its highest level in 16 years in the last quarter of the year when the economy contracted again as the number of people out of work climbed above five million for the first time ever, more than a fifth of the working population.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

World Finance Leaders Demand Quick Action From EU on Debt

(DAVOS) — Frustrated political and economic world leaders bashed the eurozone on Saturday for dragging its feet over its debt crisis, piling pressure on Brussels just ahead of a key EU summit. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, speaking through a video link to the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, branded the eurozone the “major source of risks for the global economy.” “Within the eurozone there should be major steps to alleviate the concerns of the international community and the markets,” he said. “We ardently wish for the stabilisation of economies and finances in Europe.”

His views were shared by other Asian leaders and by the heads of major international financial institutions. “I’ve never been as scared as now,” said Donald Tsang, Hong Kong’s chief executive, whose four decades in public service spanned through other serious economic downturns such as the 1997 Asian financial crisis. “You need decisive action, you need overkill. You need to inspire confidence,” Tsang told Europe.

“That confidence must come from decisive action of governments working together and doing it quickly,” he added, complaining that delays had already cost billions in unnecessarily mounting debt. “Two months ago in Greece you can do with 20 percent haircut. Now even 50 percent is not easy, maybe 70 percent is needed. So do it quickly. You need resolution and you need decisiveness.”

While previous crises, including Asia’s, were largely contained within regions, the current inter-connected economic system carries a significant wider risk of contagion.

Japanese Economics Minister Motohisa Furukawa said: “With this in mind, we expect that Europe does its utmost to manage the challenges to establish a firewall to calm down the markets.” The Japanese minister also sought to distinguish Japan’s high debt from that which is engulfing Europe, stressing that it was financed mainly domestically. Therefore, “we don’t think that this structure will cause an immediate crisis,” he said, acknowledging nevertheless that tackling the country’s debt is a “pressing challenge.”

Canadian central banker and head of the international bank regulator the FSB Mark Carney said Europe not only has to take quick action but also take the right decision. “Get it right when you do something, do it right,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Calling it Sharia Shouldn’t Make it Scary — Op-Ed

by Jon Pahl

What’s so scary about sharia, or Islamic legal principles? According to a recent decision from a US Federal Appellate Court — one level below the Supreme Court — not much. The recent decision of the 10th Circuit Court effectively blocks implementation of Oklahoma Law 755, also called the “Save Our State” measure. Law 755 was passed as a constitutional amendment by 70 per cent of Oklahoma voters in November 2010. Along with prohibiting courts from using “international law”, it also expressly “forbids courts from considering or using Sharia Law”. Similar laws have passed in Tennessee and Louisiana and comparable bills are pending in at least 20 states.

The 10th Circuit Court received the case after US District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange decided in favour of Muneer Awad, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma, who had sued to block the law. He claimed Law 755 violated his rights to religious freedom, which are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The three-judge panel that issued the ruling against Law 755 did so largely for procedural reasons, claiming Awad had grounds to raise First Amendment issues. Law 755, they agreed, expressly condemned only one religion, Islam, thus violating the establishment clause of the US Constitution, which dictates that the government cannot favour one religion. Finally, the judges also suggested there was little reason for Law 755. Supporters of Law 755 admitted “they did not know of even a single instance where an Oklahoma court had applied Sharia law”.

This issue’s salience here in the United States is symbolic, it isn’t really about law. While the term “sharia” sounds scary to lots of Americans, the irony is that many who think they are opposed to sharia would be only too happy to support many of its general claims. For instance, those who claim to mistrust it would often love to have Americans (and perhaps especially lawyers and judges) pay more attention to the Ten Commandments — a kind of reasoning encouraged by sharia.

Decades ago, Princeton University professor Edward S. Corwin published a still-used short book entitled The “Higher Law” Background of American Constitutional Law, which should be assigned reading for anybody wary of sharia. According to Corwin, American constitutional law was founded not only upon Enlightenment philosophical notions, but also upon theological affirmations. In fact, he suggested, American jurisprudence rested on a deep ethic that was quite congenial to transcendent “higher” reasoning. At root, sharia asserts this fact. This was what the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, was trying to say in 2008 when he opined in a BBC interview that “there are perfectly proper ways the law of the land pays respect to custom and community; that’s already there.”

As Williams discovered, much of the furore over his comments has focused on issues prone to sensationalism. Different customs have developed in Western democracies and Muslim majority countries regarding property (especially borrowing and lending) and family life (especially monogamy and divorce). But these contrasts could just as easily be applied to England and the United States a century ago and England and the United States today. Divorce laws in particular have changed dramatically. In the vast majority of cases, there is no conflict between Islamic legal principles and the jurisprudence of English common law or American constitutional law. One reason for this is that the “higher law” backgrounds of the different traditions in fact share an Abrahamic ethic: the social covenant to command the good and prohibit the evil. As expressed in A Common Word, a consensus document between Muslim and Christian religious leaders, Muslims share two basic ethical principles with Jews and Christians: love God and love your neighbour — as well as other core values.

US courts have the responsibility to uphold constitutional rights. Other scholars and professionals have responsibilities to educate the public and dispel myths about sharia. For example, the American Bar Association recently sponsored a webinar entitled “Dispelling the Sharia Threat Myth”. And Muslim scholars have been offering clarifications, among them “Dispelling Myths about Sharia” by Imam Mustapha Elturk. According to Elturk, sharia is a set of principles that guides Muslims to secure five “protections”: faith, life, family, property, and intellect. In this sense sharia is analogous to the “higher law” background of American Constitutional law. The challenge is in the application. After all, consider the debate in Western tradition about how to apply the commandment “Thou shalt not kill.”

Sharia is bound to resurface in the 2012 US presidential campaign. The way to move forward is to point out demagogues and allay fears of those concerned. The debate over sharia might even help us define a clearer role for religious reasoning in public life. In short, it might help us find common ground.

Jon Pahl, Ph.D. is Professor of the History of Christianity in North American and Director of MA Programs at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia

[JP note: The longer you look at sharia, the scarier it becomes — particularly for dhimmis.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Enemies of the States [John Esposito Interview]

INTERVIEW: When New Yorker John Esposito left behind a Capuchin Franciscan monastery and its vow of celibacy, his next move was almost as controversial: addressing Islamophobia in the US. He tells LARA MARLOWE why Islam is not the enemy

WHEN JOHN ESPOSITO was growing up in New York, he spent the better part of a decade in a Capuchin Franciscan monastery. “I wanted to be ordained but I didn’t see myself spending my entire life in a religious order,” he says. “I missed my family. I had always been attracted to women. I was normal.” About the time Esposito gave up on the priesthood, he found himself in a crowded lift in his mother’s apartment building in Brooklyn. An elderly neighbour asked why he’d left. “I just blurted out, ‘SEX,’ “ says Esposito, laughing. “I married a brilliant blonde the following year.”

Now 71, Esposito has nonetheless fulfilled a lifelong vocation involving a subject that is arguably as controversial as sex: Islam. He brings the sense of humour and directness he demonstrated in that lift in Brooklyn to his work as professor of religion, international affairs and Islamic studies at Georgetown University, and founding director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at the university. The author of more than 35 books, Esposito is also editor-in-chief of at least five Oxford reference works on Islam, including The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World. He was one of the first to warn of what he calls the “social cancer” of Islamophobia, which he compares to anti-Semitism in the US in the 1990s.

Post-9/11, with the help of the Gallup organisation and American-Muslim scholar Dalia Mogahed, he spent six years asking Muslims in 35 countries what they thought about politics and Islam and published the results in the 2008 book Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think . Next Thursday, Esposito will deliver the annual Chester Beatty Lecture in Dublin on The Arab Spring and the Future of Muslim-West Relations . He will argue that, as Jews and Christians came together in the wake of the Holocaust to emphasise their common Judeo-Christian heritage, the West must now adopt “the broader Abrahamic vision that recognises the integral place of the descendants of Abraham, Hagar and Ismail — Muslims — as co-equal citizens and believers”.

The Arab Spring, the series of revolts against dictators that began in Tunisia in December 2010, then spread to Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain and Syria, occurred despite, not because of, western policies. Esposito condemns “the falsity of commonly held stereotypes” that for decades led us to ask, in almost racist fashion: Is Islam compatible with democracy and modernity? Is there something about the religion of Islam and Arab culture that accounts for the kind of regimes they have? As Esposito points out, most Arab dictatorships were propped up by the West. “We bought into those regimes’ logic, which was: we are the only game in town, and any and all opposition are potentially extremists,” he says.

Esposito has argued for years that “Islam is not the enemy; religious extremism is”. Yet the West consistently failed to distinguish between Islamic extremists and moderates. The point was driven home by Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry’s recent reference to the Turkish government as “what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists”. The equation of Muslims with theocracy and the practise of terrorism was all the more egregious because Esposito’s work provided reliable data showing the majority of Muslims want democracy and reject theocracy. They stressed the importance of Islam in their personal lives, and wanted to see it expressed in their society, not unlike the way Americans expect to see “Christian values” manifest in the US.

Most Muslims say they want Sharia to be a source of law, but not the source. The Muslim Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice party won 45 per cent of the seats in Egyptian parliamentary elections, are not talking about implementing Sharia, Esposito says. The Gallup Report on Egypt from Tahrir to Transition says 69 per cent of Egyptians think religious authorities should be limited to an advisory role.

Authoritarian rule, not Islam, was the main impediment to development and stability in the Muslim world, Esposito says. “Concern over the role of Islamists in emerging governments has obscured the more potent potential threat to democratisation from entrenched militaries, security forces and bureaucratic elites,” he says. He advises the US and other western governments to “stand back” and to concentrate on educational, technological and economic — not military — assistance.

Esposito travelled to Tunisia, Egypt and Qatar this month and was struck by the fear of intervention. “The feeling was that we would try to do what we did in Iraq, where we wanted to parachute [the Shia politician Ahmad] Chalabi in. In Egypt, there’s a general belief that France supported a very secular group, which wound up doing worst in the elections.” After sending mixed signals during the Egyptian revolution, US president Barack Obama’s administration has in recent weeks said it will accept the results of elections. For the first time, high-ranking US officials visited Egyptian Islamists.

The Egyptian military postponed presidential elections from last autumn until next June, and anxiety remains high that the military, which has unsuccessfully sought immunity from prosecution, will not relinquish power. “They wanted to be above the constitution, and certainly above civilian government,” Esposito says. “The military have been complicit in violence against people. They’ve tried to bring charges for treason against 39 NGOs, including some of Egypt’s most reputable human-rights organisations, and they’ve sought to provoke conflict between Coptic Christians and Muslims. It’s the old Mubarak strategy of ‘divide and rule’ to legitimate a security state.”

If a Republican wins the White House in November, US acceptance of Islamist participation in inchoate Arab democracies could be threatened. With the exception of Ron Paul, all Republican candidates have made alarmist statements about the “Islamic threat”. In 2005, Mitt Romney, the frontrunner, suggested wire-tapping mosques, a proposal he still defends. Rick Santorum has made what Esposito calls “ignorant, bigoted statements”. Newt Gingrich opposed building an Islamic centre near Ground Zero in Manhattan, comparing its planners to Nazis wanting to demonstrate outside the Holocaust Museum. A victory by such candidates “would be a disaster”, says Esposito. Is the Republican party an Islamophobic party? “It’s the party that opposes immigration, and therefore of Islamophobia; not the entire party, but a significant number.” Unlike Europe, where new anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim parties sprang up “and only recently bled over into the mainstream”, in the US, “it has always been within our mainstream party”.

As documented in Fear, Inc: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America , published last August by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think-tank, Islamophobia and unconditional support for Israel often go hand-in-hand. Esposito cites the powerful conjunction of the evangelical Christian Zionist movement and the neoconservatives during the Bush administration. “George W Bush visited a mosque and distinguished between mainstream Islam and extremists,” Esposito says, “but his administration played upon the fear factor. They used the threat of terrorism every time it was useful to them, and it took off.” Esposito recalls a conversation with a leading US Middle East expert in the late 1980s. “The dirty little secret,” the man told him, “is that we are people who are supposed to say what we think, but when it comes to Israel and Palestine, the environment is such that you cannot.”

Since 9/11, groups with innocuous-sounding names such as Campus Watch and Front Page have compiled lists naming Esposito and other academics and journalists who dare to break the omertà surrounding criticism of Israel. “They characterise people whose policies they disagree with as anti-Israel and supporters of terrorism,” he says. “When hundreds of academics across the country, including prominent Jewish professors, signed up supporting not what we said but our right to say it, they created ‘dossiers’ on them too.”

There have been attempts — for example, against Joseph Massad at Columbia University — to prevent academics who criticise Israel from gaining tenure. Intimidation has been most effective in Congress. In the 1980s, representative Paul Findley and senator Charles Percy were voted out of office after falling foul of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “And the lobby made it clear they were defeated,” says Esposito. “It is no secret that there are members of Congress who want a balanced approach but feel they can’t get re-elected.”

When former president Jimmy Carter published a book about the injustice done to the Palestinians, he was asked if he was afraid. “He said, smiling, ‘I have secret-service protection and I’m not running for re-election’,” Esposito recalls. Can the West establish amicable relations with the Muslim world if the Israeli-Palestinian problem is not solved? “Absolutely not. You’d have to be an idiot to say so. But the other side, including some pro-Israel think tanks in Washington, claims people exaggerate, that Muslims in other parts of the world don’t care about it.”

Obama, Esposito says, “punted completely” on the Israeli-Palestinian question. In the last presidential campaign, “Obama was afraid. His people didn’t want him photographed with Arab women who covered their heads. Obama to this day has not visited a mosque in the US.”

Polls have shown at times that up to one-third of Americans believed Obama was a Muslim, which helps explain why he is so afraid to confront Islamophobia. Esposito was “a strong supporter” of Obama and will vote for him again. “But he made a big mistake in his policy on the Middle East and Muslims. He made great speeches in Ankara and Cairo. The problem is, when you set out a vision, you have to walk the way you talk. Otherwise it’s better not to say anything.”

In Cairo, in June 2009, “Obama talked very strongly, as an American president should, about Israel’s security,” Esposito says. “But he also spoke empathetically about Palestinians and the occupation. He made a strong statement on the settlements and indicated that his position was non-negotiable.” But, overwhelmed with domestic problems and anticipating elections, Obama caved on the settlements, failed to condemn Israel for killing nine Turks in the Gaza flotilla raid and aligned himself with prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu on the question of Palestinian membership in the UN.

Some believe Obama would give the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a second try if re-elected. “The president would have to prove that he is totally prepared to rearticulate a vision and do everything under the sun to deliver it,” says Esposito. “He would have to do what no other American president has ever done, say: ‘We are going to respond with the same criteria to Israel that we do to the Palestinians.’ When the military overreact and commit acts of violence and terrorism, we will call a spade a spade. It would be disastrous for American interests if he backed down again.”

But before the November election, Iran could be Obama’s biggest headache. Four Iranian nuclear scientists have been murdered in two years — by Israel and the CIA, Iran says. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened to attack a US aircraft carrier and close the Strait of Hormuz. Some Israelis and Americans advocate a pre-emptive strike to thwart Iran’s nuclear programme. “I’m uncomfortable with Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric,” says Esposito. “But the person I’m more concerned about is Netanyahu, because his track record is that he not only says but he does. Look what the Israelis did in Ramallah, in Gaza, in Lebanon, at the disproportionate number of [Arab] deaths.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Fearing Muslim-Americans

by Joe Myers and Ibrahim Thompson

A representative from Mooresville-based Lowe’s Inc. recently met with representatives of North Carolina’s Muslim community to discuss Lowe’s decision to pull ads from The Learning Channel TV show “All-American Muslim.” The show had drawn the ire of the Florida Family Association, which claimed the show was propaganda designed to “counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Shariah law.” The Florida Family Association was upset because the show “profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks.”

Since 9/11, Muslims in this country feel like they are living under a cloud of suspicion. Too many Americans fear American Muslims, terrorism and an Islamic overthrow of our society. Do those fears make sense? Islamophobia boils down to negative stereotyping: taking a perceived attribute of a subgroup and extending it to the entire group. It’s not logical, but it is what people tend to do. It is why we bullied German-Americans during World War I and put Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II. We’re familiar with this kind of bias here at home, with the vestiges of our past racial biases still apparent in our own community.

In the case of Muslim-Americans, violent acts perpetrated by an extraordinarily small minority of Muslims — extremists primarily from foreign countries — are used to vilify Islam and all Muslims. People are fearful of Muslim-American citizens who had nothing to do with the violence and who in most cases are highly critical of terrorism. That’s lazy thinking on our part. And it’s unfair. Some non-Muslims point to verses in the Quran that call for violence against non-believers, they see the highly visible violent acts committed by some Muslims, and they conclude that Islam is an inherently violent faith. Yet Jewish and Christian scripture also has horribly violent passages, and Jewish and Christian people have committed terrible acts of violence, too. People are too quick to say other people’s faiths are violent. But if you speak to Muslims, Christians, Jews and atheists, all will tell you their own faiths (and non-faiths) do not promote violence.

Do people of any of these religions consider the violent passages of their Scripture a guide to their behavior today? Some Muslims may use an extremist interpretation of the Quran to justify violence, but they claim the violence they commit is only a reaction to violence that we have committed. They point to our past support for dictators in Arab countries, the mistreatment and killing of Palestinian families, and Western-imposed sanctions reported to have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children. Most Muslim-Americans do not support violent acts taken in the name of Islam; they advocate the same type of peaceful approach supported by those Christian and Jewish Americans who believe the violent military actions we undertake in the name of promoting peace are wrong, too. For us to allow our perceptions of the extremists to fuel ill will toward our peaceful Muslim-American neighbors is misguided.

People claim there is an effort to impose Shariah Law in America. The meaning of Shariah, which is “a way of life,” includes modesty in dress and charitable giving. This way of life is familiar to religious people of many faiths, including Judaism and Christianity. Many Muslims believe that American society — our democracy — is more in keeping with Islamic Shariah than any other society, just as many Jews and Christians believe that our society is the one most closely aligned with their religious laws and principles. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf describes how Islam is compatible with basic American principles of democracy and freedom of religion in his book, “What’s Right with Islam: Is What’s Right With America.”

Let’s try hard not to fall victim to prejudice. To understand other people, their faith and their beliefs, we need to talk to them. The Florida Family Association is probably not the best source for learning about Muslim people and their beliefs; a TV show about real Muslim families is a much better source. We can learn about Muslims — ordinary folks — closer to home, as well. Interfaith dialog, as we have at the Winston-Salem Interfaith Group, helps promote appreciation of the beauty of other people’s faith, the similarities of how we are all taught to treat others and the richness of the diversity of our differences.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

GOP Establishment Mobilizes Against Newt Gingrich

As Newt Gingrich’s momentum seems to be slipping in the days leading up to the Florida primary, Republican politicians and conservative pundits have launched attacks against the former House speaker. Recent polls in Florida show Mitt Romney back ahead, which is in part because of an anti-Gingrich avalanche raining down from members of his own party.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Jewish Man Charged With Anti-Semitic Threats

The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force on Monday arrested a man in connection with a series of anti-Semitic threats and vandalism in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Police charged David Haddad, 56, of Manhattan, with aggravated harassment as a hate crime.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Little Change in Public’s Response to ‘Capitalism, ‘ ‘Socialism’

A Political Rhetoric Test

The recent Occupy Wall Street protests have focused public attention on what organizers see as the excesses of America’s free market system, but perceptions of capitalism — and even of socialism — have changed little since early 2010 despite the recent tumult.

The American public’s take on capitalism remains mixed, with just slightly more saying they have a positive (50%) than a negative (40%) reaction to the term. That’s largely unchanged from a 52% to 37% balance of opinion in April 2010.

Socialism is a negative for most Americans, but certainly not all. Six-in-ten (60%) say they have a negative reaction to the word; 31% have a positive reaction. Those numbers are little changed from when the question was last asked in April 2010.

Read the full report for more details on the survey as well as public perceptions about “Libertarian,” “Liberal” and “Conservative.”

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Motive of Shooter Who Targeted Military Sites is Unclear

Yonathan Melaku was sneaking through Fort Myer and Arlington National Cemetery, his backpack filled with plastic bags of ammonium nitrate, a notebook containing jihadist messages, and a can of black spray paint. The 23-year-old former Marine was heading to the graves of the nation’s most recent heroes, aiming to desecrate the stones with Arabic statements and leave handfuls of explosive material nearby as a message.

Before police foiled the plan in June, the vandalism was to be Melaku’s sixth attack, months after he went on a mysterious shooting spree that targeted the Pentagon, the National Museum of the Marine Corps and two other military buildings in Northern Virginia. A video found after Melaku’s arrest showed him wearing a black mask and shooting a 9mm handgun out of his Acura’s passenger window as he drove along Interstate 95, shouting “Allahu Akbar!”

Authorities and Melaku’s defense attorney said no one knows for sure what led Melaku — a naturalized U.S. citizen from Ethi­o­pia, local high school graduate and former Marine Corps Reservist — down that path or what message he was trying to send.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

The Third Jihad, Adelson, And Gingrich

by Sarah Posner

Thanks to the Brennan Center’s freedom of information request, we now know that the NYPD not only showed the anti-Muslim film The Third Jihad to officers, but showed it on a continuous loop. Muslim groups are calling for the resignation of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who gave an interview to the film, and his spokesperson, Paul Browne, who first said the filmmakers used footage of Kelly without his knowledge, and later changed his story to admit that he had recommended Kelly participate in the film. The NYPD showed its trainees a film designed to make them believe that ordinary American Muslims are part of a secret treasonous plot against America.

Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul funding the super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich, also supported an earlier effort the Clarion Fund, which produced The Third Jihad, the film Obsession. Gal Beckerman of the Forward wrote earlier this week about Adelson’s toxic impact on the GOP primary:

But the greater concern is that because of his influence on Gingrich, Adelson has turned the Republican contest into a competition of extreme rhetoric, in which there is no room for compromise or diplomacy, and the only answer to any international problem is unmitigated toughness. No one wants to be outflanked by the right when it comes to foreign policy (no one, I should say, besides Ron Paul) and so Gingrich’s apparent parroting of Adelson’s hardline attitudes about Israel — and, I should add, Iran — means that the whole tone of the race is affected.

Adelson, and the Clarion Fund, have influenced Gingrich on Islamophobia, too. Gingrich produced his own, largely derivative, anti-Muslim film that draws on many of the same conspiracy theories and falsehoods as The Third Jihad. Gingrich’s film was produced by Citizens United (which brought us the Supreme Court case that permits unlimited funding by Adelson and his wife, Miriam). The Third Jihad - which, remember, the NYPD was showing to officers undergoing counterterrorism training — focuses on an ominous depiction of a fifth column of Muslims who seek to bring down America from within. It relied on the discredited conspiracy theory that a single memorandum by a low-level Muslim Brotherhood member proves that mainstream Muslim groups in the United States are engaged in a secret plot to subvert the Constitution and install a theocracy governed by shari’ah law.

Gingrich’s film uses the same star used in The Third Jihad to promote that claim, Zuhdi Jasser, who was also the chief witness in Rep. Peter King’s hearings on “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community:”

Unlike more wild-eyed anti-Muslim agitators like Frank Gaffney (with whom Jasser has collaborated) and Pamela Geller, Jasser comes across as calm, sober and professional. He gained notoriety in 2008, with the release of the Clarion Fund film The Third Jihad, which claimed that a fifth column of Muslim extremists have infiltrated America with the intent of establishing a theocratic state. The star of the film, Jasser helped promote the claim that has ricocheted all over the right-that a single document written by a lone Muslim Brotherhood member in the early 1990s proves that American Muslim charities and advocacy groups are part of a plot to subvert the Constitution and America and install an Islamic theocracy.

More recently, Jasser made an appearance in Newt Gingrich’s 2010 documentary, America At Risk: The War With No Name, produced by Citizens United, the conservative group whose efforts to air its anti-Hillary Clinton documentary led to the Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited corporate money in campaigns. The release of the film roughly coincided with the Geller-created hysteria over Park51, as well as with Gingrich’s own calls to ban Sharia, warning of “a comprehensive political, economic and religious movement that seeks to impose sharia-Islamic law-upon all aspects of global society.” The film is notably anti-Obama.

As I noted in my earlier post on last night’s debate, Gingrich had the gall to complain about “an increasingly aggressive war against religion and in particular against Christianity in this country.”


CLARIFICATION: This post originally said that Adelson funded the Clarion Fund; this was based on a Times piece from earlier this week which reported that the Clarion Fund’s Obsession project “attracted support from” Adelson. It did not, however report that Adelson directly financed Clarion. I’ve clarified the wording to say that Adelson supported the Clarion Fund (h/t Ali Gharib).

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Utah Muslims and Jews to Feast on Food, Friendship

Muslim and Jewish chefs will work side by side next week to whip up a religious-themed feast as a symbol of mutual friendship and awareness. There will be matzo, signifying the hurried Jewish flight from Egypt, and chana chaat, traditionally eaten to break the daily fasts of Islam’s Ramadan. Add to that honey cake, served during Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and halva, a nut-butter sweet used in Muslim and Jewish cuisines. The event, “Cooking Together,” is co-sponsored by the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake and Congregation Kol Ami as an effort to build bridges of understanding. It is part of February’s Interfaith Month, which features many religious gatherings and events. “There is so much controversy that gets built up between people, especially these two groups,” says Kol Ami Rabbi Ilana Schwartzman. “We want to mitigate that by bringing people together at their basic level, which is their need to eat. It’s a way to recognize our common humanity.”


[JP note: Sounds highly distasteful.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Woman Finds Life’s Work in Writings of Islamic Scholar

The sudden death of a dear friend in 1964 launched Louisville native Gray Henry, then a college student, onto what became a lifelong and worldwide quest for spiritual truth. It took her from the hippie circles of New York to a pilgrimage across North Africa in quest of shrines and saints to the academic scenes of Cairo and Cambridge, England. It involved encounters with some of the past century’s most prominent religious scholars and leaders. In the process she has published hundreds of texts on mysticism and other themes in the world’s major religions, first in England and then from her Mockingbird Valley home, where she returned to live in the 1990s.

Now approaching 70, a mother of two and grandmother of three, Henry is feeling anew the press of mortality. She is at work on a project she acknowledges is consuming the remaining productive years of her life, even shelving a long-delayed doctoral research. Her publishing foundation, Fons Vitae, is producing translations of a 40-volume work by a medieval Islamic scholar, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali.

Reproducing nearly millennium-old writings — even for a figure as towering in Islamic history as his near-contemporary Thomas Aquinas was in Christian history — may seem like an obscure academic exercise. But Henry’s urgency comes from her conviction that Ghazali and his work, “The Revival of the Religious Sciences,” holds powerful relevance to the modern Muslim world as an antidote to the lure of terrorism. She’s not just preparing the translations but also illustrated versions of his works to make them accessible to children as young as 5 — and to their parents as they read with them. “I’m racing against my own death right now to get this finished,” Henry said. “I was born to do this.”

The story of Henry’s work is being told in a new documentary produced by her lifelong friend, Eleanor Bingham Miller, titled “Transmissions.”Miller is a producer of previous documentaries on topics ranging from the Ku Klux Klan to Kentucky Derby-winning jockeys. The “Transmissions” title reflects Henry’s work in making the general public aware of what would otherwise be obscure spiritual texts and traditions from around the world. Henry “has a very profound influence on everyone she contacts,” Miller said.

Henry, a descendant of Kentucky pioneers, was born to Alvan Read Henry, a prominent local architect, and Virginia Gray Henry. Henry, a lifelong Episcopalian, grew up interested in religion but was plunged into a deeper search by tragedy in 1964. While she was attending Sarah Lawrence College in New York State, Henry was developing a close friendship with Jonathan Bingham — Eleanor’s brother and son of the then-publisher of The Courier-Journal, Barry Bingham Sr. Then came word of Jonathan’s death by accidental electrocution in 1964.

“I really wondered, is he just gone, or is he somewhere else?” she recalled. “Were it not for his departure, I would never have found (such spiritual questions) so urgent.”

She studied Hinduism and other religious studies at Sarah Lawrence under renowned comparative-religion scholar Joseph Campbell. She also encountered Ghazali’s works, which introduced her to Sufism, or Islamic mysticism. In the late 1960s, Henry and her first husband, Venezuelan filmmaker Fyodor Ivan Gouverneur, set off for North Africa, traveling across the desert in a Citroen van, seeking and finding ascetics who were revered in their local villages for their humility and piety. She gave birth to the first of their two children at a Bedouin village in Libya. The couple then settled in Cairo, where she studied Islam and Arabic, and later moved to Cambridge, where she began graduate studies involving art and religion and began publishing Islamic texts.

As her first marriage ended, Henry returned to Kentucky to tend to her aging parents, who died in the 1990s. She began teaching religion at local colleges, helped arrange a visit of the Dalai Lama to Kentucky and volunteered at a Bosnian refugee camp; she’s still haunted by memories of the atrocities suffered by victims she met. Back in Louisville, she launched Fons Vitae. Her basement shelves are filled with publications ranging from classics in Buddhism and Sufism to scholarship on the interfaith works of Kentucky author-monk Thomas Merton.

The goal of publishing the works of Ghazali is to help Muslims recover a powerful voice from their own heritage to counter the extremists who she says are imposters for claiming the mantle of Islam. “Here I am watching, as we all have in the last 10 years, the whole hell with Sept. 11 and all these horrible clerics that are going around to villages preaching this kind of literal nonsense,” she said. Ghazali, she said, countered a rigid mind-set with an appeal to mystical spirituality. “Whoever thinks that the unveiling of truth depends on precisely formulated proofs has indeed straitened (squeezed) the broad mercy of God,” Ghazali wrote in a typical phrase.

Ghazali, born in 1058, rose from humble origins to the top of Baghdad’s prestigious Islamic academy. But he eventually recognized he loved being praised for his brilliance — while empty spiritually. “I was on the brink of a crumbling bank,” he later wrote. Ghazali wandered the Middle East for years, absorbing the lesson from Sufi masters that true knowledge leads to “a heart empty of all save God.” Henry said Ghazali’s work lends itself well to children’s lessons because he himself made spiritual lessons accessible with colorful metaphors. For example, he described each person as facing a choice of whether to feed the noble or the vicious wolf within one’s self; he warned that barking dogs of envy and greed scare away the angels from the heart.

Henry said that writing and editing for the project will require her to stay at her desk for the next decade. She credits her husband, Neville Blakemore, with encouraging and helping her with typesetting and other work. Henry is far from alone in seeking Ghazali’s relevance. Ghazali is an “antidote to so much of what we’re seeing out there,” Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, a co-founder of Zaytuna College, an Islamic school in Berkely, Calif., said at a recent gathering of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Kentucky. Yusuf, a scholarly consultant to the publishing project, said Ghazali “hated sectarianism because he felt the sectarian mind was a provincial mind. … The imbalance on this planet is from the lack of people of stillness.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Austria: German Held at Elite Ball Protest ‘Had Explosives’

A German man arrested while protesting against a right-wing elite student society ball in Vienna was carrying explosives, police said. Around 2,500 people demonstrated against the Burschenschaft Ball, often dubbed, “an international gathering of right-wing extremists,” in central Vienna on Friday.

They managed to delay the beginning of the ball slightly, but were kept away from the opulent Hofburg Palace by police. Of the 20 people arrested at the demonstration, “One was German, who was found to be carrying explosives,” said a Vienna police spokesman although no further details were released.

The cream of European far-right politics attended the ball, including Marine Le Pen, head of the French National Front party, and members of the Belgian Vlaams Belang and Schwedendemokrat parties, Austrian paper Der Standard reported.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Austria: Bank Robbers Caught on Facebook

Two Italian thieves have been caught thanks to Facebook. One of the men who robbed a bank in Graz in October 2011 was recognised in photos on the social network site as he was wearing the same clothes that he appeared in in his most recent thieving spree.

The duo who made off with more than 620,000 Euros in a series of bank robberies were arrested in L’Aquila and Padua in Italy and they are now awaiting transfer to Austria. The pair have become known for their casual manner during the robberies and in particular for not wearing any sort of face cover. The unmasked thieves have even been dubbed the “Gentlemen robbers”. Since 2007 the thieves have carried out up to nine bank robberies in Vienna, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Salzburg and Graz, flying back to their homes in Italy after committing each crime.

The 63-year-old, who is thought to have been the main culprit responsible for the series of bank robberies in Austria, was spotted on Facebook by an investigator who noticed that he wore the same clothing as seen in the CCTV footage from the Raiffeisen bank in Graz.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Austria: Increasing Visitor Numbers at Schönbrunn Zoo

Schönnbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria attracted around 2.4 Million visitors in 2011, an increase of 5 per cent on the previous year. This increase in popularity of the world’s oldest zoo has also been mirrored in the increase in sales of annual passes, also up by almost 5 per cent at 112,000.

“The animals in the zoo are ambassadors for their threatened relatives in the wild. Our aim is to inspire as many people in the world as possible with the animals and to create awareness for nature and species protection,” explained zoo director Dagmar Schratter.

“The Schönbrunn Zoo is an important figurehead of Austrian tourism and our strongest brand. Through our ambitious development programme we are making a visit to the zoo more attractive and create the opportunity for further successes,” said Minister for Tourism and Economics Reinhold Mitterlehner. “The new award for the best zoo in Europe was also a real incentive for visitors, especially tourists. We had an annual average of 30 per cent tourist visits for the first time,” said Schratter.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Berlin Goes Nuts Over Rare Palm Fruit

In 2010, Berlin’s Botanical Garden received a rare and precious gift from the Seychelles: a nut from the Coco de Mer palm, prized around the world for centuries. Now that they’ve managed to sprout the fickle fruit, joy is matched with jitters as botanists in the chilly city strive to keep the tropical wonder alive.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Berlin: EU Should Manage Greek Budget

Germany wants the EU to take control of the Greek budget as the eurozone loses patience with Greece’s reform efforts, officials said on Saturday as Athens categorically dismissed the idea. “There are discussions and proposals in the heart of the eurozone, including one from Germany” to “reinforce control over programmes and measures already in place,” a European source said.

The source was confirming a report in the British Financial Times newspaper, that Germany’s plan was for a commissioner appointed by the other eurozone finance ministers to be able to veto budget decisions made by the Greek government. The report came as Greek officials were in talks with private creditors on a major debt write-down to avoid a looming default, and ahead of a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on Monday focused on a new fiscal pact.

“Budget consolidation has to be put under a strict steering and control system,” the Financial Times quoted the proposal as saying, adding that it had been circulated by Germany on Friday to officials from other eurozone countries. “Given the disappointing compliance so far, Greece has to accept shifting budgetary sovereignty to the European level for a certain period of time.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Death Threats for Singer of Burqa Song

Dutch satirist Johan Vlemmix has decided not to perform his latest hit Do the Burqa onstage following death threats.

The song, a carnival parody to the music of Van McCoy’s Do the Hustle, is a huge success on YouTube, so much so that the video provider has switched off the comments facility. Too many people were posting angry reactions saying that they had been insulted.

The images show a woman wearing a T-shirt which can be instantly converted into a burqa, be it one that does not cover the breasts…

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

EU: Inquiry Into Alitalia, Air France and Delta Joint Venture

Antitrust to check if competition rules have been broken

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JANUARY 27 — The EU Antitrust has opened an investigation into the joint venture formed by Air France-KLM, Alitalia and Delta, to check whether it has broken European competition rules, the European Commission reports.

The Antitrust wants to see whether the alliance between the three airlines “has had an impact on the interests of passengers flying between the EU and the USA,” in particular on ticket prices in the absence of mutual competition. Today the Commission also closed another inquiry into an agreement closed by eight SkyTeam members: Aeromexico, Air France, Alitalia, Continental Airlines, Czech Airlines, Delta, KLM and Korean Air Lines. In 2009 and 2010, Air France-KLM, Alitalia and Delta, three members of the SkyTeam alliance, closed a deal on the creation of a transatlantic company for EU-North America routes. Based on this deal, the airlines have coordinated their transatlantic activities regarding capacity, schedules, prices and revenues. Moreover, they have shared losses and profits booked on transatlantic flights. That form of partnership is the closest form of cooperation between SkyTeam partners and is aimed at aligning commercial offers.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

France:16-Year-Old Pupil Held Over Teacher Stabbing

A 16-year-old boy was being questioned by police on Thursday evening over the stabbing of a school teacher in the town of Provins, south-west of Paris. The male teacher was attacked ten days ago just as the bell had sounded for lunch. He was stabbed in the back by a masked assailant who then fled. He was taken to hospital but his injuries were not life threatening.

Around 40 fellow teachers stopped work that day in a show of solidarity for their injured colleague. The attack led to a reinforcement of security at the 1000-pupil school, with security guards posted at the gates. Le Parisien newspaper reported on Friday that the 16-year-old is a pupil at the school. He has denied responsibility for the attack.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece: Brussels: Aid Given to Cereal Sector Illegal

Athens must recover subsidies that are against EU rules

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JANUARY 26 — Aid allocated by Greece to the cereal sector in 2008 is against EU rules, according to the European Commission, which has ruled today against the 150 million euros in loans given by unions to farming cooperatives with state guarantees, as well as subsidies for interest matured as part of the loans. The aid was aimed at providing financial support to cereal producers, following over-production in 2008 and the subsequent fall in prices. The European Commission opened an investigation into the issue at the end of 2010, after a preliminary inquiry had raised doubts over the conformity of the measures with EU law. The formal investigation then established the incompatibility of the aid with the European internal market, with Greece as a result now forced to recover the illegally allocated money from the beneficiaries.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: MPs Reject Deregulation of Pharmacy Working Hours

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JANUARY 25 — Greek Parliament late on Tuesday voted against an article on the deregulation of pharmacies’ working hours that was contained in an omnibus bill introduced by the finance ministry, as Athens News reported. “The article 29 is rejected,” said Parliament speaker Evangelos Argiris early on Wednesday, after 152 MPs out of 253 voted against the reform or abstained. Only 101 MPs voted in favour of the article. Forty Pasok MPs were among those who opposed the article. Commenting the outcome of the vote, government sources stressed that they expected the outcome and said it was “clear” that pharmacy representatives have a strong influence on the MPs. They said the government would reintroduce a new legislative initiative on the working hours issue.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Japanese Restaurants Now Serve Halal

People of mixed blood are less demanding, than people of pure blood. This seems to be the gist of the above paragraph. Big companies have an easier and cheaper job selling to the “métissés”, the mixed races, who don’t know or care what they are, than to a Frenchman, for example, who is very demanding.

In short, mixing races on a massive scale results in a dumbing-down of the population and a boon to the international corporations.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain Seeks Fresh Gibraltar Discussions With Britain

Popular Party keen to reinitiate bilteral talks with London

Spain’s foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, has sent his British colleague a letter reminding him of both countries’ commitment to seek a negotiated solution to the question of Gibraltar. The letter, said diplomatic sources, makes reference to the 1984 Brussels Process, a negotiation between Spain and Britain in which Gibraltar had a voice but no vote. That process was interrupted in 2002, when Gibraltarians rejected in a referendum a preliminary agreement on co-sovereignty reached between London and Madrid.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Man Disciplined for Comparing Baby to Saddam Hussein

A worker at the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) who told a family of Iraqi asylum seekers that their newborn baby looked like Saddam Hussein will not lose his job over the incident, the agency’s disciplinary committee has ruled.

The man, who has worked at the agency for more than 30 years, was under investigation not only for the insulting comparison, but also for physically assaulting a female colleague and making derogatory remarks about a woman wearing a headscarf.

After a colleague of his assisted a veil-wearing woman, the man went up and asked his co-worker, “How does it feel to talk to ‘one of those’?”

When his shocked colleague reported his remarks to the disciplinary committee, he responded by deliberately pushing her twice, to onlooking co-workers’ surprise.

The comparison of the baby to the former Iraqi dictator came during an interview conducted last year between the employee and an asylum seeking couple fromIraq who brought their newborn infant along to the meeting.

“Who do you think he looks like?” one of the proud parents asked the Migration Board employee.

“Saddam Hussein,” the man replied.

According to the man himself, this comment was intended as a joke.

However, the report filed showed that the man’s supervisor has had numerous conversations with him since 2007 about his behaviour toward colleagues and asylum seekers.

The Migration Board’s disciplinary committee has now ruled that the man is to keep his job, despite these incidents.

However, he is to be transferred to another department, and punished with a loss of wages.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Two Men Shot in Malmö

Two men were shot in central Malmö on the night between Friday and Saturday. The men, both in their twenties, were taken to hospital with bullet wounds that aren’t life threatening. A suspect was arrested by police nearby shortly after the incident.

All three men are known to have criminal ties.

According to Marie Keismar, officer on duty with the Skåne police, it’s still too early to say whether the shooting has any connection with other, unresolved, shootings and violent acts that have rattled Malmö recently.

It’s also unclear what caused the shooting, which occurred near the intersection of Södergatan and Baltzargatan.

“We know very little about what’s happened. I also don’t know whether the crime will be classified as attempted murder, attempted manslaughter, or aggravated assault,” said Keismar to news agency TT.

Because of a party at night club Slagthuset, several police officers were already in the area when the shooting occurred at 3.30am.

“We were able to run over to the suspect and arrest him,” explained Keismar.

She was unwilling to comment on whether a weapon had been found, or what type of weapon the suspect may have used.

On Saturday morning, police investigators were working to scour both the crime scene and the suspect’s escape route, hoping to find some evidence.

“It’s pretty extensive work,” said Keismar.

The suspect was interrogated on Saturday morning, but police have not revealed whether he’s made any confessions.

Keismar wouldn’t comment on what type of criminal ties the two wounded men and the suspect have.

“I don’t want to get in to that. But we know who they are,” she said.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

UK: Doreen Lawrence Attacks Government Over Racism

The mother of Stephen Lawrence has criticised the coalition government for not doing enough to fight racism. Doreen Lawrence, whose 18-year-old son was murdered in Eltham, south London, in 1993, told the Guardian she had “not heard them talk about race.” Earlier this month David Norris, 35, and Gary Dobson, 36, were jailed for 14 and 15 years respectively for murder. Mrs Lawrence told the newspaper: “People take their lead from the government.”

She told the Guardian: “If the prime minister said ‘This is what I’d like to see happen in our society’ …people will try to work towards that. At the moment I’m not sure exactly what they are doing around race.” Mrs Lawrence also criticised the government for not sending her a letter after the trial “in recognition of what has been denied for so long”. Stephen Lawrence’s brother Stuart tells the paper: “David Cameron has not sent my mum a letter saying sorry it has taken so long. It shows the stance of the Conservative government. I don’t think they care at all.”

Mrs Lawrence, 59, has three grandchildren and she said spending time with them dulled the pain of her son’s loss a little and added: “You can’t think about doom and gloom. You can’t forget so you try to do things, put things in place, to lessen the pain.” But she said she was angry about the way society still treats people of African and Afro-Caribbean origin. To get on “You have to be better than your [white] contemporaries by three or four times,” she claimed. “Even if you have the qualifications, if their name doesn’t sound English enough then they don’t get an interview, and if they do manage to get an interview they don’t get the job,” she added.

Mrs Lawrence told the Guardian that schools, colleges and the media must do more to tell positive stories, rather than dwelling on negative ones. A Downing Street spokesman said: “The prime minister has spoken on a number of occasions of his admiration for Doreen Lawrence. “He recently paid tribute to Mrs Lawrence and her family for the great bravery they have shown and he believes that their tireless fight for justice has helped to change the country for the better. He also recently made clear that he believes that although things have changed for the better, there is still a problem with racism in this country and more work to be done to tackle it.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Disgraced Tower Hamlets Councillor Shelina Akhtar Refuses to Step Down

The disgraced Tower Hamlets councillor who admitted in court dishonestly claiming housing and council tax benefit continues to defy calls for her resignation.

Cllr Shelina Akhtar didn’t turn up for last night’s key council meeting-but sent apologies instead. Mayor Lutfur Rahman had been the latest to call for her to step down, after demands from both the Labour Group leader and Tory Group leader for her to go. She pleaded guilty on January 9 to three charges of failing to notify a change of circumstance and continued claiming benefits and will be sentenced on February 6. Akhtar won her seat on the council in 2010, representing Spitalfields for Labour, but then defected to become an independent working alongside Mayor Rahman. The mayor said earlier this month that council procedures had to be followed and the authority was waiting for the outcome of the court sentencing before deciding any further steps.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: MP Jeremy Corbyn: My Demo Days

JEREMY Corbyn revealed this week that before he became an MP he had helped to organise demonstrations in the mid-70s against the extreme party, the National Front. “They stopped them in their tracks because they knew how much opposition there was,” the Islington North Labour MP told a packed hall at Finsbury Park Mosque on Wednesday evening.

He said the NF had been “politically destroyed but that had not been the end of them. They had returned in the form of the BNP and the English Defence League.” He accused these parties of attempting to turn our communities into a “monocultural and miserable place”. The meeting was organised by the Unite Against Fascism group.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Man Admits Sending ‘Somali Three’ Terror Funding

A Londoner who was caught with numerous jihadist videos has admitted sending cash to Somalia for terror training. Shabaaz Hussain, 28, from Stepney, east London, confessed to seven counts of fundraising for terrorists at Woolwich Crown Court. He admitted sending nearly £9,000 so three British men — Muhammed Jahangir, Tufual Ahmed and Mohammed Shahim — could be trained in east Africa. The court heart it meant the “Somali Three” could be fed and clothed there.

Police secretly recorded conversations Hussain had with an associate in a car, before recovering “vast quantities” of extremist materials in his home, the court heard. It took police two days to process all the extremist material, which included CDs, DVDs and documents.

The hoard included 26 speeches by extremist preacher Abu Hamza, the court heard. Sarah Whitehouse, prosecuting, told the judge: “The prosecution case is that in a period between April 2010 and September 2010 this defendant transferred funds to three associates who were engaged in terrorist activities in Somalia. “The total amount transferred was just over 14,000 US dollars (£8,900) during that period of time. There are a large number of foreign fighters in Somalia who are fighting for an emirate of Islam.” The court heard the home Hussain shared with his parents and brothers also contained a video of Osama bin Laden berating the US, and jihadist manifestos.

Ms Whitehouse said of the four: “Their aims are to implement Sharia law in the UK and to convert all non-Muslims.” Imran Khan, defending, said his client was a “quiet young man” of good character. He argued Hussein should receive a lighter sentence because the funds were not aimed at a specific act of terrorism. Judge Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said the amount transferred to Somalia was similar to the sum bombers spent carrying out the 7/7 attacks, which cost about £10,000. Adjourning sentencing to 9 March at Kingston Crown Court, the judge said: “I don’t think in a case as serious as this that I can embark on the sentence today.” Hussain denied four counts of providing funds for terrorism and engaging in the preparation of terrorism, which the prosecution said will remain on file.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Young Men Who Reject Britain to Join Jihad

Anger at British military action in Muslim countries is driving scores of young Somali men who were brought up in the UK to join al-Shabaab, the Islamist insurgency in Somalia.

In an interview conducted by e-mail, a British-Somali man from North London, going by the name Abu Anwar al-Muhajir, told The Times that he was willing to die fighting a holy war in Somalia and hoped to return to Britain “with a band of Mujahidin fighters”.

It offers a rare insight into why so many young British-Somali men leave the West to fight for a terrorist organisation in a country they barely know.

David Cameron will host an international summit in London next month focusing on Somalia, a country he recently described as “a failed state that directly threatens British interests” through kidnapping, piracy and the radicalisation of young Britons..

British intelligence chiefs have long warned of the threat that al-Shabaab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, poses to this country. In 2010, Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, said: “It’s only a matter of time before we see terrorism on our streets inspired by those who are today fighting alongside al-Shabaab.”

Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, said last month: “There are probably more British passport holders engaged in terrorist training in Somalia than in any other country in the world.”…

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Why Islamists Are Not Like Christian Democrats

A week ago, Ikhwanweb, the official English-language website of the Muslim Brotherhood, featured the translation of an article by Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. It’s easy to see why the Muslim Brothers would like what Westerwelle wrote, because he urged his readers to carefully distinguish between moderate and fundamentalist Islamist forces, arguing:

The decisive issue for us has to be the attitude of Islamic political parties towards democracy. Are these Islamic democratic parties, in the sense in which the European political spectrum naturally includes Christian democratic parties? I am confident that an Islamic orientation can be linked with democratic convictions, that Islam can be compatible with democracy.

Unfortunately, there is little justification for viewing the Brotherhood as the Muslim equivalent of Europe’s Christian Democrats.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Libya: Torture: MSF Suspends Activities in Misrata

Yesterday UN exposed thousands of illegal prisons

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Doctors Without Borders (MSF-Médecins Sans Frontières) announced the suspension of its activities in Misrata, Libya, “since detainees are being tortured and denied urgent medical care”. Yesterday the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights exposed that thousands of prisoners are kept in illegal prisons all over the country.

According to an MSF statement, “since August 2011, MSF doctors were increasingly confronted with patients who suffered injuries caused by torture during interrogation sessions. The interrogations were held outside the detention centres”. In total, MSF treated “115 people who had torture-related wounds and reported all the cases to the relevant authorities in Misrata “. Since January, “several of the patients returned to interrogation centres have even been tortured again”. “Some officials have sought to exploit and obstruct MSF’s medical work,” said MSF General Director Christopher Stokes. “Patients were brought to us in the middle of interrogation for medical care, in order to make them fit for further interrogation. This is unacceptable. Our role is to provide medical care to war casualties and sick detainees, not to repeatedly treat the same patients between torture sessions.” Yesterday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay exposed before the Security Council “lack of control by central authorities, which generates an environment favouring torture and abuse” and stressed it was urgent that all Libya’s detention centres be brought under control of the NTC government. The exact number of prisoners is unknown: Libya’s ambassador Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham stated that there are 8,000 people in prison only in Tripoli. Among them, there are civilians, women and children.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Over 3000 Muslims Attack Christian Homes and Shops in Egypt, 3 Injured

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — A mob of over 3000 Muslims attacked Copts in the village of Kobry-el-Sharbat (el-Ameriya), Alexandria this afternoon. Coptic homes and shops were looted before being set ablaze. Two Copts and a Muslim were injured. The violence started after a rumor was spread that a Coptic man had an allegedly intimate photo of a Muslim woman on his mobile phone. The Coptic man, Mourad Samy Guirgis, surrendered to the police this morning morning for his protection.

According to eyewitnesses, the perpetrators were bearded men in white gowns. “They were Salafists, and some of were from the Muslim Brotherhood,” according to one witness. It was reported that terrorized women and children who lost their homes were in the streets without any place to go..

According to Father Boktor Nashed from St. George’s Church in el-Nahdah, a meeting between Muslim and Christian representatives was supposed to take place in the evening in Kobry-el-Sharbat. But, by 3 P.M. a Muslim mob looted and torched the home of Mourad Samy Guirgis, as well as the home of his family and three homes of Coptic neighbors. A number of Coptic-owned shops and businesses were also looted and torched. “We contacted security forces, but they arrived very, very late,” Said Father Nashad. The fire brigade was prevented from going into the village by the Muslims and the fires were left to burn themselves out. “Those who lost their home, left the village,” said Father Nashed.

Coptic activist Mariam Ragy, who was covering the violence in Kobry-el-Sharbat , said it took the army 1 hour to drive 2 kilometers to the village. “This happens every time. They wait outside the village until the Muslims have had enough violence, then they appear.” She said that she spoke to many Copts from the village this evening who said that although their homes were not attacked, Muslims stood in the street asking them to come to their homes to hide. “They believed that this was a new trick to make them leave, so that Muslims would loot and torch their homes while they were away,” said Ragy.

The Gov of Alexandria visited al-Nahda, near Kobry-el-Sharbat, this evening and told elYoum 7 newspaper that the two Copts and one Muslim who were injured were transported to hospital. He said that the family of the Muslim girl whose image was on the Copt’s mobile phone wanted revenge from the Coptic man. They broke into his home and torched a furniture factory located in the same building.

Joseph Malak, a lawyer for the Coptic Church in Alexandria, said it is too early to count injuries to Copts or losses to their property.

Mr. Mina Girguis, of the Maspero Youth Union in Alexandria, said that “collective punishment of Copts for someone else’s mistake, which is yet to be determined, is completely unacceptable.” He believes that the reason for this violence is fabricated, and the military is behind it. “They are trying to divert the attention from the second revolution which is taking place now.”

Father Nashed denied that Islamists were present, only ordinary village Muslims, and could not give an explanation as why people who have lived together amicably for years could commit such violence. “Maybe because of lack of security, they think that they can do as they please.”

He said that the nearly 65 Coptic families were ordered to stay indoors and not to open their shops and businesses tomorrow. He added that security forces did not arrest any of the perpetrators, “on the contrary, they were begging the mob to go home.”

By midnight the violence had subsided.

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Same Message, Different Mufti: The Rhetoric of the 1940s in 2012

When Sheik Muhammad Hussein, the mufti of Jerusalem, who is the Palestinian Authority’s senior religious official, recently recited a traditional Islamic text urging Muslims to “fight and kill the Jews” during a ceremony celebrating the 47th anniversary of Fatah’s establishment, he unintentionally revealed how little the messages of Palestinian religious leaders have changed since the days of another Palestinian mufti by the name of Husseini.

This deplorable rhetorical continuity also serves as a timely reminder that words are usually spoken to inspire deeds. Palestinians, eagerly echoed by many of their world-wide supporters, like to claim that they had no part whatsoever in the Holocaust, and that they should indeed be seen as indirect victims of the Jews who fled Europe. This “narrative,” which seems particularly popular among Germany’s progressive elites, requires that the historical record of Amin Al-Husseini — the predecessor of the current Palestinian mufti — is ignored. While both muftis call for killing the Jews, Husseini sought and seized the opportunity to contribute to the Nazi’s genocidal undertaking to kill as many Jews as possible.

In a review of a book by Klaus Gensicke about Husseini’s collaboration with the Nazis, John Rosenthal emphasized that the mufti did not only collaborate with the Nazis by contributing to propaganda activities aimed at Arab speakers and by organizing the Muslim SS division “Handzar” in Bosnia:

Indeed, perhaps the most shocking finding of Gensicke’s research concerns the repeated efforts of the mufti after 1943 to ensure that no European Jews should elude the camps […] Thus, for example, Bulgarian plans to permit some 4,000 Jewish children and 500 adult companions to immigrate to Palestine provoked a letter from the mufti to the Bulgarian foreign minister, pleading for the operation to be stopped. In the letter, dated May 6, 1943, Husseini invoked a “Jewish danger for the whole world and especially for the countries where Jews live.” […]

One week later, the mufti sent additional “protest letters” to both the Italian and German Foreign Ministries, appealing for them to intervene in the matter. The German Foreign Ministry promptly sent off a cable to the German ambassador in Sofia stressing “the common German-Arab interest in preventing the rescue operation.” Indeed, according to the post-War recollections of a Foreign Ministry official, “The Mufti turned up all over the place making protests: in the Minister’s office, in the waiting room of the Deputy Minister and in other sections: for example, Interior, the Press Office, the Broadcast service, and also the SS.” “The Mufti was a sworn enemy of the Jews,” the official concluded, “and he made no secret of the fact that he would have preferred to see them all killed.” […]

In late June, both the Romanian and Hungarian Foreign Ministers would be recipients of similar appeals from the mufti. The Romanian government had been planning to allow some 75,000 to 80,000 Jews to immigrate to the Middle East, and Hungary — which had become a refuge for Jews escaping persecution elsewhere in Europe — was reportedly preparing to allow some 900 Jewish children and their parents to immigrate as well. The mufti repeated his counsel that the Jews should be sent rather to Poland, where they could be kept under “active surveillance.” “It is especially monstrous,” Gensicke concludes, “that el-Husseini objected to even those few cases in which the National Socialists were prepared, for whatever reasons, to permit Jews to emigrate. . . . For him, only deportation to Poland was acceptable, since he knew fully well that there would be no escape for the Jews from there.”

Inevitably, some people will be inclined to argue that Husseini was only defending the national interest of the Palestinian Arabs when he tried to prevent any Jewish emigration from Europe. But as Gensicke has shown, Husseini was convinced that there was a “Jewish danger for the whole world and especially for the countries where Jews live,” and in May 1943, he also expressed this view in a letter.

Soon after Husseini had written these words, Arab regimes proceeded to demonstrate that they shared this view. The Arab League drafted Nuremberg-style laws designed to disenfranchise and dispossess Jews, and Arab states began to encourage the ethnic cleansing of the ancient Jewish communities that had existed for millenia all over the Middle East. Hundreds of thousands of the Jews who had to flee from Arab countries found refuge in the fledgling Jewish state that the Arabs vowed, and tried, to wipe out. Back then, the motives may have been rooted in Arab nationalism, but as the recent remarks by the Palestinian mufti illustrate, there is a long and — according to the mufti, “noble” — tradition of Jew-hatred in Islam that up to this day is regularly invoked to present the Arab and Palestinian refusal to accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state as part of a fight against Jews that is an integral component of Muslim identity. Nazi-like rhetoric about Jews is nowadays mostly expressed in Arabic and Farsi, and just like 70 years ago, there is widespread reluctance to confront this rhetoric and face the fact that it is meant as incitement to deadly deeds.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Arab Spring Becoming Christian Winter

“The god of Muhammad, in accordance with the Qur’an, is a god of cruelty and deception. Could the real God be such a god with such a description? Or such cruelty?” (From Author Mohammad Al Ghazoli, in his book “Christ, Muhammad and I”)

The Western World’s optimism over the “Arab Spring” is fading. It is becoming increasingly clear that Islam, not democracy, will be the winner. And in the effected countries, it is rapidly turning into a “Christian Winter.”

The West seems to be helpless in the face of this new Muslim determination to conquer the world for Allah. Muslims claim, and rightly so, that the West has become decadent, with no beliefs worth defending.

[Return to headlines]

Iran Oil Boss Cautious on Impact of EU Embargo

(TEHRAN) — The National Iranian Oil Company has no firm projection of the impact on world crude prices of a looming EU embargo on Iranian exports, its managing director said in comments published on Saturday. Ahmad Qalebani told the government newspaper Iran that the size of any hike in prices would depend on the European Union’s success in finding alternative output to make up for Iranian deliveries lost to the market.

“One cannot have an accurate prediction of prices, but it seems that in the future we will witness 120 to 150 dollars a barrel,” Qalebani said. He said the reason that EU foreign ministers had decided on Monday to give the bloc’s existing purchasers of Iranian oil until July 1 to find alternative suppliers was to try to minimise the impact on prices.

“The reason for this six-month postponement is to buy time — they want to use this opportunity to pass the peak winter season and find a suitable replacement for Iranian oil,” he said. “If the Europeans successfully achieve it, then there won’t be any price hike. But if they don’t, then certainly there will be price hikes.”

Iran’s Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said in late December that EU and other Western sanctions against its exports could see prices soar to $200 per barrel. In New York on Friday, benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in March closed at $99.56 a barrel. London’s main contract, Brent North Sea crude for March, finished the week at $111.46 a barrel.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘Islam is Islam, And That’s It’

The Arab Spring was not hijacked

By Andrew C. McCarthy

The tumult indelibly dubbed “the Arab Spring” in the West, by the credulous and the calculating alike, is easier to understand once you grasp two basics. First, the most important fact in the Arab world — as well as in Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other neighboring non-Arab territories — is Islam. It is not poverty, illiteracy, or the lack of modern democratic institutions. These, like anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, and an insular propensity to buy into conspiracy theories featuring infidel villains, are effects of Islam’s regional hegemony and supremacist tendency, not causes of it. One need not be led to that which pervades the air one breathes.

The second fact is that Islam constitutes a distinct civilization. It is not merely an exotic splash on the gorgeous global mosaic with a few embarrassing cultural eccentricities; it is an entirely different way of looking at the world. We struggle with this truth, which defies our end-of-history smugness. Enthralled by diversity for its own sake, we have lost the capacity to comprehend a civilization whose idea of diversity is coercing diverse peoples into obedience to its evolution-resistant norms.

So we set about remaking Islam in our own progressive image: the noble, fundamentally tolerant Religion of Peace. We miniaturize the elements of the ummah (the notional global Muslim community) that refuse to go along with the program: They are assigned labels that scream “fringe!” — Islamist, fundamentalist, Salafist, Wahhabist, radical, jihadist, extremist, militant, or, of course, “conservative” Muslims adhering to “political Islam.”

We consequently pretend that Muslims who accurately invoke Islamic scripture in the course of forcibly imposing the dictates of classical sharia — the Islamic legal and political system — are engaged in “anti-Islamic activity,” as Britain’s former home secretary Jacqui Smith memorably put it. When the ongoing Islamization campaign is advanced by violence, as inevitably happens, we absurdly insist that this aggression cannot have been ideologically driven, that surely some American policy or Israeli act of self-defense is to blame, as if these could possibly provide rationales for the murderous jihad waged by Boko Haram Muslims against Nigerian Christians and by Egyptian Muslims against the Copts, the persecution of the Ahmadi sect by Indonesian and Pakistani Muslims, or the internecine killing in Iraq of Sunnis by Shiites and vice versa — a tradition nearly as old as Islam itself — which has been predictably renewed upon the recent departure of American troops.

The main lesson of the Arab Spring ought to be that this remaking of Islam has happened only in our own minds, for our own consumption. The Muslims of the Middle East take no note of our reimagining of Islam, being, in the main, either hostile toward or oblivious to Western overtures. Muslims do not measure themselves against Western perceptions, although the shrewdest among them take note of our eagerly accommodating attitude when determining what tactics will best advance the cause.

That cause is nothing less than Islamic dominance.

‘The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism,” wrote Samuel Huntington. “It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture.” Not convinced merely in the passive sense of assuming that they will triumph in the end, Muslim leaders are galvanized by what they take to be a divinely ordained mission of proselytism — and proselytism not limited to spiritual principles, but encompassing an all-purpose societal code prescribing rules for everything from warfare and finance to social interaction and personal hygiene. Historian Andrew Bostom notes that in the World War I era, even as the Ottoman Empire collapsed and Ataturk symbolically extinguished the caliphate, C. Snouck Hurgronje, then the West’s leading scholar of Islam, marveled that Muslims remained broadly confident in what he called the “idea of universal conquest.” In Islam’s darkest hour, this conviction remained “a central point of union against the unfaithful.” It looms more powerful in today’s Islamic ascendancy…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Man Demands Wife’s Death for Killing Daughter

Mom used large screw wrench to kill her 7-year-old daughter

A Saudi man is demanding the execution of his wife after she murdered her seven-year-old daughter with a large screw wrench at their house in the Gulf kingdom, a newspaper reported on Saturday. Bandar Al Khadidi said the execution of his wife under Sharia rule (Islamic law) would ensure permanent protection of his remaining three children, who were at school when their sister was murdered by the mother. “Applying Shariah on my wife is the best solution for what she has done…this will also ensure permanent protection for my remaining children,” he told the Saudi Arabic language daily Al-Hayat.

He said his 28-year-old wife had never stopped beating up their daughter Shumoukh without any reason, adding that he had warned her many times. He also asked her family to intervene but its efforts failed. “I work as a taxi driver and I make sure that I sleep besides my children every night…all of them have told me about their fear of their mother…she has planted fear in their hearts and threatened them against telling me anything about her bad treatment of them…that is why they have never told me about my wife’s violence towards Shumoukh,” he said. Khadidi dismissed reports that his wife could be suffering from mental problems, adding that she had never seen a psychiatrist in her life.

Saudi newspapers said this week the mother used a screw wrench to murder her daughter after she refused to do exercise prescribed by her doctor treating her hand fracture caused by the mother two months earlier. The woman from the western Saudi town of Taif told police that she was infuriated by her daughter’s disobedience and started to hit her with the wrench despite her screams. The lean girl, whose father was out at that time, fled to her relatives but her mother chased her despite her heavy bleeding. Her relatives called on ambulance, which rushed the battered girl to hospital but doctors said she was already dead. Forensic doctors who examined her said most of the child’s body had traumas, scratches and bruises but that she died after receiving a heavy wrench blow on the back of her head.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Stuxnet Trumps Monster USAF Bunker Buster Bombs


The official said some Pentagon war planners believe conventional bombs won’t be effective against Fordow and that a tactical nuclear weapon may be the only military option if the goal is to destroy the facility. “Once things go into the mountain, then really you have to have something that takes the mountain off,” the official said.


What we have now is a patent dud with the use of the monster conventional MOP against hardened deep underground Iranian nuclear facilities.

That is where some out of the box thinking is needed into use of available advanced cyber-warfare and non-conventional nuclear options to counter these hardened deep underground Iranian and North Korean nuclear facilities.

There is more in the Stuxnet tool kit that may prove to be disabling than previous thought. Witness this Christian Science Monitor report, “Stuxnet cyber weapon looks to be one on a production line, researchers say”:

Stuxnet, the first military-grade cyber weapon known to the world, has been called a digital missile and a cyber-Hiroshima bomb. But it was not a one-shot blast, new research shows. Rather, Stuxnet is part of a bigger cyber weapons system — a software platform, or framework — that can modify already- operational malicious software, researchers at two leading antivirus companies told the Monitor.

The platform appears to be able to fire and reload — again and again — to recalibrate for different targets and to bolt on different payloads, but with minimal added cost and effort, say researchers at Kaspersky Labs and at Symantec.

The evidence to date is that Stuxnet and its variants have disrupted Iran’s nuclear program and infected tens of thousands of computer controlled industrial and power infrastructure applications in Iran to the frustration of the Islamic Republic’s technocrats.

That should not lost on the US and certainly not Israel, whose cybertech prowess is world class. Its fabled Unit 8200 may have been involved with the development of Stuxnet Duqu and a whole class of more powerful cyber weapons, yet to be unveiled.

The US supplied bunker busters that the IAF may have will not do the job, however Stuxnet on steroids just might. And if that fails there is always the last resort, an EMP attack on Iran, that Israel is capable of launching. A targeted low-yield EMP attack against Iran could fry hundreds of thousands of computer control motherboards disrupting nuclear and oil development permanently. And if you think that Iran wouldn’t try that on us, think again. They have done ship-launched Scud missile tests in the Caspian Sea, prefiguring a scenario of such a launch from offshore of the US. See our August 2011 NER article, “The Iranian Missile Threat.”


[Return to headlines]

Syria: A Family’s Struggle in Latakia

Syria’s middle class is starting to feel the pinch of rising prices and fuel shortages while their personal safety continues to be in question.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkey Has Highest Conviction Rate in EU Court

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JANUARY 27 — Turkey was the county with the highest number of European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) convictions in 2011, the third year in a row as Today’s Zaman reports. ECHR head Nicolas Bratza said at a press briefing on Thursday that Turkey topped the list of countries that violated the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) with 159 cases.

Russia followed Turkey with 121 cases and Ukraine with 105.

According to Bratza, Greece (69), Romania (58) and Poland (54) all violated at least one article of the convention. Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland recently said during a meeting that there are currently 16,000 ongoing cases against Turkey, making it the country against which the second-highest number of cases have been filed. The Turkish government claims it has made substantial progress in improving the human rights situation in the country. Justice Minister Sedat Ergin recently said in a conference that a series of reforms had been adopted to prevent human rights violations in the past few years, adding that similar legal amendments will continue to improve the situation. In its 2010 report, the Strasbourg-based court again listed Turkey as the country most often found to be in violation of the convention. The highest number of judgments finding at least one violation of the ECHR concern cases from Turkey (228), followed by Russia (204), Romania (135), Ukraine (107) and Poland (87). In 2009, Turkey also topped the list in terms of violations of ECHR articles. The ECHR, drafted in 1950, places Turkey under the jurisdiction of the ECtHR. In 1987, Turkey accepted the right of individuals to file applications with the ECtHR to apply individually to the ECtHR and in 1990 recognized the compulsory jurisdiction of the court. However, Turkey has still not ratified some of the protocols of the convention despite having signed them.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Pakistan: Fazlur Rehman Vows to Make Pakistan Islamic Welfare State

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Chief Fazlur Rehman has vowed to make Pakistan an ‘Islamic Welfare State’, claiming that his party would sweep the elections if the establishment stopped meddling in politics. While addressing a huge-crowd in the Islam Zindabad’ rally in Karachi on Friday, he observed, “Why are institutions not accepting that they have failed? The nation is still a beggar and the institutions should accept their failure. US supremacy in Pakistani foreign policy is not acceptable. Implementation of Sharia through guns is not the right way.”

In his hard-hitting address, the JUI-F chief said that the people had always criticised his party for not getting enough votes in elections but they did not know that the establishment did not let the party to come in power. Fixing his guns on security establishment, he claimed that 60% of the budget was spent on defence while the poor were facing malnourishment. Pakistan came into being as an Islamic welfare state but it was transformed into a security state, he added. Fazl stated that institutions were in a state of denial and were not accepting that they had failed in ensuring good governance in the country. In his view, those who did not implement the recommendations of the Islamic Ideology Council are bigger criminals than the armed outfits. He maintained that if there was independent foreign policy in Pakistan, the country would not be facing the current situation. Pakistan had beard losses of $70 billion dollars in the war on terror but had only received $4 billion in return, he added.

While referring to the alleged compacts with the United States made by former president Pervez Musharraf, the JUI-F leader asserted, “No ruler has the right to commit via verbal agreement to any other country.” He categorically rejected the impression that his party was in favor of the forceful implementation of Sharia. He opined that the seminaries are not breeding extremism saying that religious elements were being forced into war on terror. He commented, “The religious factions are being push to war. Those who are getting an education in madrassas are not extremists but liberals. We are not the enemy of negotiations but it should be done on an equal basis,”

Fazl stated that the ties between the US and Pakistan should not be of slave and master, urging the relations based on sameness.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

Alien Hybrid or Starchild Discovered in China?

A boy has stunned medics with his ability to see in pitch black with eyes that glow in the dark.

Doctors have studied Nong Youhui’s amazing eyesight since his dad took him to hospital in Dahua, southern China, concerned over his bright blue eyes.

Dad Ling said: “They told me he would grow out of it and that his eyes would stop glowing and turn black like most Chinese people but they never did.”

Medical tests conducted in complete darkness show Youhui can read perfectly without any light and sees as clearly as most people do during the day.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

North Korea Threatens to Punish Mobile-Phone Users as ‘War Criminals’

North Korea has warned that any of its citizens caught trying to defect to China or using mobile phones during the 100-day mourning period for Kim Jong-il will be branded as “war criminals” and punished accordingly.

There are reports from within the isolated state that food supplies are again dwindling and that there has been an increase in the number of people attempting to cross the border into China. Many of those that do manage to cross the frontier eventually manage to reach South Korea, where an estimated 23,000 defectors have now settled.

The Workers’ Party has issued the stern warning in an effort to deter more from attempting the already perilous journey, apparently in an effort to ensure the stability of the new regime of Kim Jong-un, who took over from his father, according to Good Friends, a South Korean relief group.

People who are caught attempting to flee the poverty and political oppression in the North, as well as those detained in China and sent back over the border, usually end up in the North’s network of hard labour camps, human rights groups have reported, while repeat offenders can expect to be executed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Open Door at Adelaide’s Mosques

ADELAIDE’S mosques will open their doors to the public for the first time in two family-friendly open days this weekend.

Islamic Society of South Australia treasurer Ahmed Zreika said the open days at Gilles Plains and Park Holme were a fantastic opportunity for the public to socialise with Muslims and ask them questions about their culture, lifestyle and faith. “This year, we are pleased to welcome the wider Adelaide community to our first official open day,” he said. “We are confident that this initiative will provide the Adelaide community with a greater insight into Islam and contribute towards building a sense of understanding and harmony within the community.” Mr Zreika said it was a great opportunity to show off their new mosques to the public and through guided tours explain the significance of the buildings and the religious practices conducted inside.

The events include a free barbecue, children’s entertainment and a free information pack about Islam. Mr Zreika said the events gave the Islamic community the opportunity to dispel stereotypes. “We are hoping to build bridges between the Muslim community and non-Muslim community in South Australia because most non-Muslim people have been fed propaganda against Islam and Muslims and so now we are opening our hearts and mosques,” he said. “We are asking people to come inside the mosques and chat with the muslims and you will find that muslim people love Australian people. We are human beings and we have a different faith — we respect your faith and we just ask you to respect ours.”

There will be question and answer forums with Sheikh Yehya Safi from New South Wales today, and Mufti Ibrahim Abu Muhammad tomorrow. “We are expecting lots of hard questions and they are willing to answer all questions about anything regarding our religion,” Mr Zreika said. The Gilles Plains mosque on Wandana Ave is open today 11am-4pm. The Park Holme mosque on Marion Rd is open tomorrow 11am-4pm.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria: Boko Haram to Continue Attacks for Sharia: Report

LONDON (Reuters) — Islamist sect Boko Haram, whose attacks have killed hundreds in Nigeria, will continue its campaign until the country is ruled by sharia law, a senior member was quoted as saying by a British newspaper on Saturday. “We will consider negotiation only when we have brought the government to their knees,” Boko Haram spokesman Abu Qaqa told the Guardian. “Once we see that things are being done according to the dictates of Allah, and our members are released (from prison), we will only put aside our arms — but we will not lay them down. You don’t put down your arms in Islam, you only put them aside.”

Boko Haram’s attacks have become more sophisticated and deadly in recent weeks. A series of gun and bomb attacks killed 186 people in Nigeria’s second city of Kano last Friday. Gunmen suspected of being members of the group attacked a police sstation in Kano state on Friday, police and witnesses said, leading to more than an hour of running gunbattles. Qaqa said the group’s members were spiritual followers of al Qaeda, and said they had met senior figures in the network during visits to Saudia Arabia. The Guardian said that for most of the interview Abu Qaqa used a modulator to disguise his voice, but local journalists confirmed that his undisguised voice matched recordings of previous interviews.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Gunmen Set 15 Traders Ablaze in Nigeria

KANO (Nigeria) Fears of new violence hung over Muslims at Friday prayers in the Nigerian city of Kano after Islamists who killed at least 185 people there a week ago threatened to strike again even as gunmen killed 15 traders and set their bodies ablaze in northern Zamfara state. “People were apprehensive about what might happen in the mosque today,” said Musa Danbirni, 58, after attending prayers in the upmarket Nassarawa area of Nigeria’s second city. The purported head of the Islamist sect Boko Haram said in an Internet message that he ordered the gun and bomb attacks that rocked Kano last Friday, the deadliest ever assault attributed to the shadowy group. “We were responsible,” said Shekau in the audio message posted on YouTube. “I ordered it and I will give that order again and again.” The authenticity of the Hausa language message could not be independently verified but the photo appeared to match others said to be of the Boko Haram leader.

In the northern state Zamfara, gunmen have killed 15 village traders returning from a market at night and set their bodies ablaze, state police commissioner Tambrai Yabo said. “Gunmen, suspected to be armed robbers, attacked some local traders on their way back from a market in neighbouring Katsina state late Thursday,” Yabo said. “The armed robbers waylaid the traders travelling back in an open truck and opened fire on them. They then loaded the truck with 14 bodies and burnt them,” said Yabo, adding that a 15th victim had died in hospital. Villagers said around 100 robbers came out of the bush and forced the truck to stop. The attack ocurred near a village that is close to the town of Birnin Magaji in Zamfara state, which borders Niger. Zamfara is 350km west of Kano city.

A fresh blast hit Kano on Thursday after gunmen stormed a police post two days earlier, putting resident on edge in the mainly Muslim city, which had previously escaped the worst of Boko Haram’s violence. “Honestly I went to the mosque in fear,” said Isa Bello, 58, after leaving prayers in the same mosque. Nigeria’s Vice-President Namadi Sambo denied that religious tensions were fuelling the Boko Haram menace in the country. Meanwhile, a US expatriate worker who was kidnapped by Nigerian gunmen in the Niger Delta region on January 20 has been released, his embassy and police said. “I can confirm that he’s been released, but I can’t provide any other details at the time,” said Melissa Ford, spokeswoman at the US embassy in Nigeria. Gunmen, not immediately linked to Boko Haram, kidnapped a German engineer working with Nigerian construction company Dantata and Sawoe on Thursday, said Kano police spokesman Magaji Majia.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Kosovo: 9 Charged With Clandestine Migrant Trafficking

(ANSAmed) — PRISTINA, JANUARY 27 — The EULEX (European mission in Kosovo) police force and local authorities have discovered and dismantled an organised crime group involved in the trafficking of clandestine migrants. Nine individuals have been charged. It was found that the clandestine migrants intending to leave Kosovo were forced to pay between 1,500 and 3,000 euros, for which they received false passports to go to a number of different European countries. Those charged are: Bekim Nikci, Nisret Bici, Berat Bici, Agim Berisa, Azem Bitici, Mehti Blaca, Sefedin Bezeraj, Arben Preci, and Zenun Zejnulahu.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sex Predator Who Murdered His Wife in Czech Republic Allowed Into UK to Carry Out Knifepoint Rape and String of Attacks

A Czech killer was allowed to slip into Britain to carry out a series of sex attacks including a knifepoint rape.

Until they caught Kajus Scuka, police did not even realise the 48-year-old was in the country.

By then he had attacked three women and ambushed and raped a fourth while she was walking her dog.

Sentencing Scuka to a minimum of 12 years yesterday, Judge Peter Kelson highlighted security flaws that had allowed a dangerous criminal to travel freely across the European Union.

Only a week ago, Lady Justice Hallett questioned whether serious offenders were allowed to simply ‘walk into the country’ after Victor Akulic, a 44-year-old child rapist from Lithuania, was convicted of raping a woman in Kent.

Judge Kelson said Scuka, who served 11 years for murdering his wife, also had convictions in his homeland for gross indecency, indecent assault and a brutal axe attack on a woman.

‘It seems to me the case that even with your convictions for murder and assaults you were free to enjoy the same freedom of movement as any other European citizen,’ he added.

Scuka arrived unchecked in the UK in 2009 after the biggest single EU expansion in its history allowed Eastern Europeans from eight former Soviet Bloc countries unfettered access to the UK labour market.

Under the legislation, individuals can be denied entry and placed on a ‘watch list’ of criminals and terror suspects, but only if their country of origin tells UK border authorities they are dangerous.

Despite his previous convictions Scuka, who stabbed his wife to death when she discovered he was cheating on her, appeared on no such list.

His case will almost certainly heap further pressure on the Home Office to tighten checks on EU arrivals.

Sheffield Crown Court was told that just months after arriving here Scuka committed the first of his sex attacks.

In March 2010, he indecently assaulted a woman as she pushed her two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter in a pram in Sheffield Lane Top.

The second attack came a month later when Scuka asked a 23-year-old for directions before throwing her to the ground and saying in broken English: ‘I give you 30 quid.’

Two hours later Scuka raped his third victim on playing fields. Scuka pushed her to the ground and ripped off her clothes before raping her, said prosecutor Mike Smith…

Read more:

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Australia: Thousands of Parents Illegally Home Schooling

As a new school year begins, more than 50,000 Australian children will be home-schooled and in most cases, their parents are doing it illegally.

It is compulsory to send children between the ages of six and 16 to school, or register them for home schooling, but more parents are opting out of the traditional school system and keeping their children at home.

However, thousands of parents across the country are not registered and that means they potentially face prosecution.

Governments have been reluctant to take legal action, but in a landmark case last October, Bob Osmark from the Home Schooling Association of Queensland was prosecuted for not registering with the Home Education Unit to home school his 13-year-old daughter.

Mr Osmark had home-schooled his nine children.

He was charged under the Queensland Education Act that says parents have to enrol children of compulsory school age in a school, or register them for home schooling.

Mr Osmark was found guilty and fined $300 plus costs.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Don’t Legalise Gay Marriage, Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu Warns David Cameron

Marriage must remain a union between a man and a woman, says the Archbishop of York, and David Cameron will be acting like a “dictator” if he allows homosexual couples to wed.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Dr John Sentamu, the second most senior cleric in the Church of England, tells ministers they should not overrule the Bible and tradition by allowing same-sex marriage.

The Government will open a consultation on the issue in March and the Prime Minister has indicated that he wants it to be a defining part of his premiership. But the Archbishop says it is not the role of the state to redefine marriage, threatening a new row between the Church and state just days after bishops in the House of Lords led a successful rebellion over plans to cap benefits.

“Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” says Dr Sentamu. “I don’t think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can’t just [change it] overnight, no matter how powerful you are.

“We’ve seen dictators do it in different contexts and I don’t want to redefine very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time and then overnight the state believes it could go in a particular way.

“It’s almost like somebody telling you that the Church, whose job is to worship God [will be] an arm of the Armed Forces. They must take arms and fight. You’re completely changing tradition.”…

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice

There’s no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.

The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience.

Social conservatives were defined as people who agreed with a laundry list of statements such as “Family life suffers if mum is working full-time,” and “Schools should teach children to obey authority.” Attitudes toward other races were captured by measuring agreement with statements such as “I wouldn’t mind working with people from other races.” (These questions measured overt prejudiced attitudes, but most people, no matter how egalitarian, do hold unconscious racial biases; Hodson’s work can’t speak to this “underground” racism.)

As suspected, low intelligence in childhood corresponded with racism in adulthood. But the factor that explained the relationship between these two variables was political: When researchers included social conservatism in the analysis, those ideologies accounted for much of the link between brains and bias.

People with lower cognitive abilities also had less contact with people of other races.

“This finding is consistent with recent research demonstrating that intergroup contact is mentally challenging and cognitively draining, and consistent with findings that contact reduces prejudice,” said Hodson, who along with his colleagues published these results online Jan. 5 in the journal Psychological Science.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Vilified for Telling the Truth: The Christian GP Whose Life Was Made Hell After He Questioned the Legalise Drugs Campaign

Dr Hans-Christian Raabe is a man of gentle demeanour and firm principle who cares deeply about his patients in the deprived area of Manchester where he works as a GP. Indeed, he chose to serve a community where unemployment is high, drug problems endemic and gang warfare rife because he wanted to make a difference.

‘I wanted to care for people in areas of most need, so I opted to work in a disadvantaged community with a high prevalence of social problems,’ he says. ‘And at the root of many of these problems are drugs.’

‘Every day I see the devastation substance abuse causes to individuals, families and communities. I see huge numbers of patients whose lives — whether directly or indirectly — have been ruined by the misuse of drugs.’

As a result of this first-hand experience — and because he felt a public-spirited compulsion to help tackle a national crisis — Dr Raabe volunteered for an unpaid post on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).

However, he had barely taken up the three-year voluntary position as a Government adviser when a witch hunt against him began.

Disseminated by internet, the campaign swiftly gathered speed. Then the Home Office weighed in: in February 2011, Dr Raabe was dismissed before he had even had a chance to attend an ACMD meeting. He was given no right of appeal.

What happened? Had he committed a crime so heinous that no amount of self-justification could exonerate him? Actually, he had not. Dr Raabe, 47, was merely guilty of holding unfashionably uncompromising anti-drugs views — namely that legalising drugs merely normalises their usage, and that we should instead try to create a drug-free society by focusing on drug prevention.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]


NASA to Discuss Discoveries of Material From Beyond Solar System on Tuesday

Scientists will announce new findings about material from beyond the solar system at a NASA press conference next Tuesday (Jan. 31). The researchers will also discuss discoveries about the boundary region that separates our solar system from interstellar space and protects us from fast-moving particles called galactic cosmic rays, researchers said. The results were obtained after analyzing data gathered by NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft, which is studying the edge of the solar system from an orbit about 200,000 miles (322,000 kilometers) above Earth.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Resistant Bacteria: Antibiotics Prove Powerless as Super-Germs Spread

Antibiotics were once the wonder drug. Now, however, an increasing number of highly resistant — and deadly — bacteria are spreading around the world. The killer bugs often originate in factory farms, where animals are treated whether they are sick or not.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Worst Form of Human Trafficking

(WASHINGTON, January 17, 2012 ) The U.S. Department of States recently reported 9000 children missing in Uganda over the last four years. Traffickers transport children both inside Uganda and to other countries for use in ritual sacrifices.

ABC news reported a horrific story of a father killing his 17 month old son to sell his head for ritual sacrifice. The father said he wanted money to set up a business fixing bicycles, so he and his friend beheaded his infant son and sold his head to a wealthy businessman for $2000. According to the report, the businessman believed that the head of the child would bring him more wealth.

In other cases, exploiters traffic children to countries like the UK for blood ritual.

the recent economic development in Uganda is the cause behind increasing number of child sacrifice in the country. Pastor Peter Sewakiryaga, the founder of the Kyampisi Childcare Ministries church, told the BBC :

Child sacrifice has risen because people have become lovers of money. They want to get richer.

“They have a belief that when you sacrifice a child you get wealth, and there are people who are willing to buy these children for a price. So they have become a commodity of exchange, child sacrifice has become a commercial business.”

Jubilee Campaign, a UK based organization, criticized the Ugandan government for its failure to fight the crime. In its report, the Jubilee Campaign says that Ugandan authorities fail to investigate hundreds of ritual murder cases because of corruption and lack of resources.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]