Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120402

Financial Crisis
»Bundestag’s Rights Could Threaten Euro Rescue
»EU Hoping for IMF Boost After Firewall Increase
»Eurozone Unemployment Hits Record as Debt Crisis Bites
»Eurozone Unemployment Spikes to Record as Austerity Bites
»IMF Chief Welcomes Eurozone Firewall Increase
»Investors Expect Another Bond Swap in Greece
»Irish Citizens Boycott Austerity Tax
»Irish PM Kicks Off Treaty Referendum Campaign
»Opposition Party Warning: EU Fiscal Pact May Breach German Constitution
»Return to Dutch Guilder Costly, Says Report
»Sarkozy Set to Announce €115bn in Cuts
»Spain Unveils €27bn in Budget Cuts
»Frank Gaffney: The Truth or Taqiyya?
»Gunned Down in Their Classroom: Horror as Seven Are Shot Dead After Nursing Student Opens Fire During Lesson at California Religious School
»Islamic Week Kicks Off Monday in Student Center
Europe and the EU
»EU Accession a Priority for Ukraine: Yanukovych
»Exhibition Documents Architectural Evolution of Mosques
»France Expels Five Islamist Radicals
»German Opposition Condemns Swiss Tax Arrest Warrant
»Italy: “Mosques Springing Up Like Mushrooms”
»Jailed Mullah to be Norway Gunman Witness
»Kiev-Berlin Negotiations: Ukraine May Release Tymoshenko for Care in Germany
»Lawyer: Norwegian Who Killed 77 to Call Islamist, Anti-Muslim Extremists to Testify
»Mullah Krekar on Witness List for Norway Gunman
»Robert Spencer Interviews Nicolai Sennels: “Muslims Are Taught to be Aggressive, Insecure, Irresponsible and Intolerant”
»Sweden: Malmö Mayor’s Remarks ‘Wrong’: Party Head
»Sweden: Man Held for Setting His Wife on Fire
»‘Switzerland Has a Lot of Explaining to Do’
»Switzerland: ‘We Need Border Checks to Combat Crime’
»Toulouse Father: ‘My Son Was Liquidated’
»UK: A Lethal Game-Changer for British Politics?
»UK: Emma Thompson Backs Israel Boycott for Shakespeare Festival
»UK: George Galloway and Ken Livingstone Show That the Left Has Given in to Sectarianism
»UK: George Galloway’s Victory is the Last Thing Britain Needs
»UK: Scenes From a London Hatefest
»UK: The Tories Must Return to True Blue Values to Survive
»UK: The 100-Year War Against Football Fans’ Freedom of Speech
»UK: What Else Tory MPs Say About David Cameron and His Leadership
»Ukraine Allows Ex-Premier to Leave Prison for Medical Care
»US Holocaust Legislation: German National Railway Fears Flood of Lawsuits
»‘We Need to Invest in a European Identity’
Middle East
»Forget Cornish Pasties. Forget Jerry Cans. It’s More Likely Than Not That Israel Will Strike Iran
»German-Turkish Trade Relations Are Gaining Momentum
»Iraq: Man Whose WMD Lies Led to 100,000 Deaths Confesses All
»Syria: Jihadists Declare Holy War Against Assad Regime
»UAE: Death Gets Cheaper in the UAE
South Asia
»Suu Kyi’s Party Wins Decisive Victory in Myanmar by-Election
»Wives, Daughters of Osama Bin Laden Jailed in Pakistan
Far East
»Hong Kong Protesters Reject Beijing-Friendly Leader
»North Korea’s Leader Was No Whizz at Swiss School
Australia — Pacific
»9,000 Burial Plots for Muslims and Jews
»Burqa-Clad Men Prompt Anger in Sydney
»The Terrorist Australia Doesn’t Want
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Kenya Church Blast Leaves One Dead
»Mali: Neighbours Set to Close All Borders
»Mali: Islamists Push for Sharia Law in Northern Mali
»Mali: Ancient Islam Site Attacked by Tuaregs
»Nigeria: Christian Blood on Obama’s Hands
»Greece to Complete Anti-Migrant Wall ‘Very Shortly’
»Obama to Relax Rules for Illegal Immigrants to Become Citizens
»In the Shadow of the Sword, By Tom Holland [Book Review]

Financial Crisis

Bundestag’s Rights Could Threaten Euro Rescue

The German parliament has secured far-reaching rights to decide on the actions of the euro rescue fund. But several German politicians are warning that the Bundestag’s determination to have its say could threaten efforts to save the euro, by hindering the fund’s ability to act quickly.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Hoping for IMF Boost After Firewall Increase

COPENHAGEN — EU ministers are hopeful their decision to raise the combined ceiling of two eurozone bail-out funds to €700 billion will be enough to secure an increase in contributions from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). A two-day meeting of EU finance ministers in Copenhagen ended on Saturday (31 March) with renewed appeals to foreign countries to step up their contributions to the IMF war chest.

“It’s important to ensure the IMF has sufficient resources to play its systemic role in the global economy,” Danish economy minister Margrethe Vestager told a press conference after the meeting. She said the decision by eurozone ministers “is very important in this respect. What we are hoping for is an agreement in Washington” later this month when the IMF board is to decide on an increase in its own lending capacity.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Eurozone Unemployment Hits Record as Debt Crisis Bites

(BRUSSELS) — Eurozone unemployment jumped to an all-time high in February, hitting southern nations the hardest as the social toll from the debt crisis grips the 17-nation bloc, official figures showed Monday.

The jobless rate rose for the 10th consecutive month and at 10.8 percent set a 15-year record for the single currency area, according to the Eurostat data agency.

Eurozone leaders have vowed to pursue growth and jobs strategies to fend off a looming recession but they insist that unpopular budget cuts and structural reforms must continue in order to restore market confidence after two years of crisis.

In another sign that recession is gripping the region, a key survey showed that manufacturing activity dropped to a three-month low in March, with the “malaise” spreading to top economies Germany and France.

“It looks odds-on that Eurozone GDP contracted again in the first quarter of 2012 after a drop of 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter of 2011, thereby moving into recession,” said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight.

“The prospects for the second quarter of 2012 currently hardly look rosy,” he said, adding that unemployment also appears “odds-on” to top 11 percent in 2012.

Eurostat estimated that more than 17.1 million men and women were out of work in February, 162,000 more than a month earlier and 1.48 million more than a year ago.

The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate also rose to a record in the wider, 27-nation European Union, hitting 10.2 percent in February compared to 10.1 percent the previous month.

An estimated 24.55 million people were unemployed in the EU, an increase of 1.87 million from February 2011.

“Soaring unemployment is clearly adding to the pressure on household incomes from aggressive fiscal tightening in the region’s periphery,” said Jennifer McKeown, senior European economist at Capital Economics research firm.

“But even in Germany, survey measures of hiring point to a downturn to come and with inflation remaining stubbornly high throughout the eurozone, there is very little hope of a consumer recovery,” McKeown said.

The unemployment rate rose in 18 EU states and fell in eight compared to a year ago. It remained stable in Romania.

Spain remained the worst affected, with the highest rate at 23.6 percent, followed by bailed-out Greece at 21 percent, Portugal at 15 percent and Ireland at 14.7 percent. Italy hit a record 9.3 percent.

Highlighting the North-South divide, the states with the lowest rates were Austria on 4.2 percent, the Netherlands 4.9 percent, Luxembourg 5.2 percent and Germany 5.7 percent.

Unemployment is highest among young people, with data showing one in five persons under 25 looking for work in the eurozone, mainly in southern nations. One in two young Spaniards or Greeks are unemployed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Eurozone Unemployment Spikes to Record as Austerity Bites

Unemployment in the 17-nation currency area has reached its highest level since the introduction of the euro in 1999, as debt-wracked governments cut spending. With it grows the likelihood of recession in the EU. Unemployment in the eurozone rose to 10.8 percent in February, the highest level in 15 years, the EU’s statistics office Eurostat announced Monday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

IMF Chief Welcomes Eurozone Firewall Increase

International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Lagarde has welcomed the increase of eurozone’s firewall to €700 billion, saying it “will support the IMF’s efforts to increase its available resources for the benefit of all our members.” The IMF had insisted for months on the need to boost the eurozone bail-out funds.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Investors Expect Another Bond Swap in Greece

Following the first economic haircut, Greece is expecting improvements in its debt situation. However, some investors remain skeptical.

In early March, after months of talks, Greek authorities negotiated a debt swap with private investors. One of the participants in the discussion was Hans Humes, president of Greylock Capital Management, an investment firm that specializes in emerging markets and distressed assets. He described the mood as similar to “a family falling-out at the dinner table,” although “a bit more formal.”

A lot was at stake for Humes, as 10 percent of Greylock’s investments had been poured into Greek bonds. This is yet another in a series of debt restructuring programs that the firm has contributed to in the last 20 years — it also provided its assistance in Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador, Yugoslavia, Russia and the Philippines.

The problems in those countries were similar to those currently affecting Greece.

“When a country can no longer carry its debts and when it can’t find a way to get hold of new money, then the investors have no choice but to look for a solution,” said Humes, pointing out that, from an investor’s perspective, breaking negotiations with Greece and demanding a full payback of the debt would be “completely irrational.”

“The alternative is the collapse of their economy, and then they won’t be able to pay us any money for 20 years.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Irish Citizens Boycott Austerity Tax

BRUSSELS — Almost half of Irish people have refused to pay a household tax imposed as part of promised savings measures, while government pressure to secure the levy risks further angering an austerity-weary public.

By a Saturday (31 March) midnight deadline, around 805,000 of the country’s 1.6 million registered households had paid the tax, which has been subject to a high-profile boycott campaign.

The Irish government agreed to introduce it in 2012 as part of a deal with the EU and the International Monetary Fund — from which it secured an €85 billion loan in 2010. But it has been unpopular from the very beginning for its across-the-board nature: the same levy is applied both to rich and poor households.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Irish PM Kicks Off Treaty Referendum Campaign

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on Sunday started the government’s campaign in favour of the fiscal discipline treaty ahead of the 31 May referendum. “We have a brilliant opportunity to say to the world that Ireland believes in the future of the euro,” said Kenny.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Opposition Party Warning: EU Fiscal Pact May Breach German Constitution

Germany’s opposition Left Party says the fiscal pact agreed by 25 of the EU’s 27 members may breach the constitution because — the party argues — it can never be rescinded. Legal experts are divided. But Germany’s top court may be called on to settle the issue, and to rule on Europe’s future yet again.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Return to Dutch Guilder Costly, Says Report

Leaving the euro and re-introducing the guilder in the Netherlands would cost €4,500 per year per citizen, according to research carried out for the pro-EU D66 party. Early last month, the country’s far-right PVV party had presented results of a similar study, indicating that such a move would be beneficial.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sarkozy Set to Announce €115bn in Cuts

French President Sarkozy is set to announce €115bn in cuts when he unveils his electoral programme at the end of the week, Le Figaro reports. To get a balanced budget in 2016, Sarkozy, a candidate in the 22 April elections, plans €75bn in spending cuts and raising €40bn through taxes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain Unveils €27bn in Budget Cuts

The Spanish government will cut €27 billion from the 2012 budget as part of EU-required efforts to bring the deficit down to 5.3% of GDP, despite record unemployment and the economy shrinking by one percent. Deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the nation is in an “extreme situation.”

This message has been removed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Frank Gaffney: The Truth or Taqiyya?

One of the most important challenges we face as a free people is understanding the true nature of — and threat posed by — a totalitarian, supremacist Islamic doctrine its adherents call shariah. So, it would seem to be good news that a $3 million public education campaign is being launched nationwide to “clarify” what shariah is.

The question is: Will this campaign be truthful and helpful, or will it amount to an exercise in what is not only permissible under shariah, but obligatory: lying for the faith, or taqiyya in Arabic?

Unfortunately, since the sponsor of this initiative is one of the most virulent Muslim Brotherhood fronts in the United States, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the shariah tour will assuredly be all taqiyya, all the time. As we are seeing in Egypt at the moment, the Brotherhood is fully prepared to lie about its repressive agenda until it is too late for its opponents to resist…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

Gunned Down in Their Classroom: Horror as Seven Are Shot Dead After Nursing Student Opens Fire During Lesson at California Religious School

Police surrounded a Christian university in search of a gunman who reportedly opened fire on Monday morning and killed seven people.

The suspect was caught in the parking lot of a shopping centre mall miles away from the Korean Christian school in Oakland, California.

The shooter, named by police as 43-year-old One L. Goh, apparently stood up in the middle of a nursing class at Oikos University, ordered classmates to line up against the wall and opened fire.

A bystander saw a woman ran out of the building saying that her right arm had been shot.

The victim said that the shooter — a former student — was in her nursing class when he stood up in the middle of class and shot another student point blank in the chest before spraying the room with bullets.

The bystander, Angie Johnson, stayed with the woman until she received medical attention.

‘She said he looked crazy all the time but they never knew how far he would go,’ Ms Johnson said the victim told her.

Police spokesman Cynthia Perkins said seven people were dead. She did not release any other details about the victims.

Five people were believed to have been killed at the scene, while two of the five wounded later died at hospital.

One student, 19-year-old Dawinder Kaur, told her brother she was in her nursing class when a former student who had been absent from the class for months told them all to line up against the wall.

After he revealed he had a gun the students started to run away, and Ms Kaur said she was shot in the arm when she tried to help her friend.

‘She told me that a guy went crazy and she got shot,’ her brother Paul Singh told the Oakland Tribune.

‘She was running, she was crying, she was bleeding. It was wrong.’

The suspect was detained at a Safeway supermarket about three miles from the university, about an hour after the shooting.

A security guard at the supermarket approached the man because he was acting suspiciously, KGO-TV reported. The man told the guard that he needed to talk to police because he shot people, and the guard called authorities.

Lisa Resler said she was buying fruit at Safeway with her 4-year-old daughter when she saw the man she later learned was the suspect walk toward the store exit.

‘He was just in the store looking like somebody who was going to pick a deli sandwich up or something,’ she said.

When she left the store, she said, she saw him standing on the sidewalk next to two police cars. She said she saw an officer kick his legs apart and pat him down for weapons but said they didn’t appear to find anything.

The officers then placed him in handcuffs.

‘He didn’t look like he had a sign of relief on him. He didn’t look like he had much of any emotion on his face,’ she said. ‘From what I could see he was completely cooperative with police. He wasn’t saying a word.’

Television news footage showed officers surrounding the building in search of the suspect, described as a Korean man in his 40s with a heavy build and wearing khaki clothing.

At 12.13pm local time, the Oakland police department Tweeted that the suspect was in custody.

‘Possible suspect in custody. No imminent public safety threat appears to exist in immediate area,’ the tweet said.

The footage also showed wounded people being carried out of the building, and more gurneys were being brought in.

Four people were taken by ambulance to the emergency room while others were treated on the scene.

Founder and head of school Pastor Jong Kim said that the shooter had been a nursing student at Oikos but no longer is.

Mr Kim would not say if the man had been expelled or dropped out of the nursing programme.

He guessed that there were about 30 or so gunshots and said that he stayed in his office during the shooting.

Myung Soon Ma, the school’s secretary, said she could not provide any details about what happened at the small private school, which serves the Korean community with courses from theology to Asian medicine.

‘I feel really sad, so I cannot talk right now,’ she said, speaking from her home.

Deborah Lee, who was in an English language class, said she heard five to six gunshots at first. ‘The teacher said, “Run”, and we run,’ she said.

‘I was OK, because I know God protects me. I’m not afraid of him.’

The deadliest school shooting in U.S. history was the Virginia Tech massacre on April 16, 2007. Mentally ill student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people before shooting himself in a campus rampage.

Another notorious killing was that at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, when 10 students as young as 15 as well as two members of staff were shot by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold at the Denver school.

More recently, graduate student Steven Kazmierczak killed five at Northern Illinois University, his alma mater, on February 14, 2008, then turned the gun on himself.

The 2006 shooting at the Amish West Nickel Mines School attracted national attention after relatives of the five young girls killed by Charles Roberts publicly forgave the killer and sent condolences to his family.

An earlier example of a deadly campus massacre came in 1966, when student and former Marine Charles Whitman killed 16 at the University of Texas at Austin, mostly by shooting from a 28th-floor balcony.

Another bystander saw a woman running away from the scene.

‘One of the people who was inside the building, she was saying there is a crazy guy inside,’ witness Brian Snow told KGO-TV.

‘She did say someone got shot in the chest right next to her before she got taken off in an ambulance.’

One man heard the shootings and saw one of the victims running from the scene.

‘I just heard more gunshots. A lady came out running and she had blood on her arm, but I didn’t know how bad the wound was,’ said Brian Snow, who was at a credit union near the school the at the time of the shooting.

‘She was just trying to make sure everyone was safe and took off her jacket and she had a big old hole in her arm,’ he told KGO Radio.

According to its website, Oikos University offers studies in theology, music, nursing and Asian medicine with the hopes of educating ‘emerging Christian leaders’.

The school’s website says it ‘was established specifically to serve the community of Northern California in general and San Francisco and Oakland areas in particular’.

California political figures expressed their condolences at the horrific events.

Governor Jerry Brown said: ‘The tragic loss of life at Oikos University today is shocking and sad.

‘Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families and friends and the entire community affected by this senseless act of violence.’

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer added: ‘I am praying for a full and speedy recovery for all those injured in today’s shooting.’

And Jean Quan, Mayor of Oakland, called the killing a ‘terrible tragedy’, but praised police for their response to the incident.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Islamic Week Kicks Off Monday in Student Center

Marshall University’s Interfaith will have Islamic week Monday through Thursday in the Memorial Student Center. Shaheed Elhamdani, sophomore chemistry and political science major from Huntington, said Islamic week is there to help students understand the religion with elections coming up. “Especially with the growing political atmosphere right now and the way things are, people are uncertain about what it is,” Elhamdani said. “They don’t understand the concept behind it and what we believe. Islamic Week is our way of reaching out.” Ammar Haffar, senior biomedical sciences major from Scott Depot, W.Va., and president of Interfaith, said a table will be set up where people can receive information about Islam from 11 a.m. through 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the student center. Haffar said there will be a lecture “Unveiling Sharia” where Interfaith will discuss Sharia law and politics from 6 p.m. through 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Shawkey Dining Room at the student center. He said Sharia is Islamic law that came from the Quran and teachings of the Prophet Muhammed. “Sharia law has been a hot topic that was heavily discussed at the beginning of the election season, especially by the Republican candidates, and there has been a bill circulating around at least half the states on banning it,” Haffar said. “The purpose behind this is to explain what Sharia is and discuss its role in current political discourse.”

Haffar said there will be an “Islam Question and Answer Session” where people can ask questions to Islamic students about the religion from 6 p.m. through 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the BE-5 Multi-Purpose Room in the basement of the student center.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

EU Accession a Priority for Ukraine: Yanukovych

(WARSAW) — Accession to the European Union remains a priority for Ukraine, the country’s President Viktor Yanukovych said Monday, three days after initialing an association agreement with the 27-member bloc.

“Ukraine’s integration into the European political, economic and judicial space, in other words its accession to the EU, is our priority,” Yanukovych said in an interview published by the Polish daily DGP.

He said his country was “ready to proceed without delay to the phase of signing and ratifying the agreement” but regretted that the text did not comprise “a clear perspective of accession.”

Yanukovych said the EU should also ease visa requirements for Ukrainians, given the “progress in the introduction of reforms and European standards” in his country.

“The establishment of a free trade zone should be accompanied by aid for a modernisation of the Ukrainian economy,” he added.

Friday, the EU initialed an association agreement with Ukraine after months of tensions over the jailing of ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

The agreement, which includes an ambitious trade component, is part of EU efforts to keep the former Soviet state from straying too far into Russia’s sphere of influence.

But the actual signing of the pact is unlikely to happen for months, or before Ukraine’s legislative elections in October, as the EU remains concerned over Tymoshenko’s fate and the state of democracy in the country.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Exhibition Documents Architectural Evolution of Mosques

Islamic places of worship often cause controversy: Take the construction of Cologne’s grand mosque or the ban on minarets in Switzerland. A new exhibition in Germany covers the architectural evolution of mosques.

Mustafa Pinarci from the Turkish-Islamic Diyanet Culture Association proudly presents the interior of a mosque during construction to a small group of visitors in Esslingen. The group has many questions: Who finances the building of the mosque? Why is there a separate floor for women to pray on?

The mosque guide shows the visitors a list of sponsors and explains that the construction work is also financed through voluntary contributions. The members of the group — particularly the women — react with astonishment when the guide explains that Muslim women prefer not to pray in the presence of men. “Women could be disturbed by looks from men as they pray in various positions,” said Pinarci.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France Expels Five Islamist Radicals

France has expelled two Islamic radicals and is planning to deport three more as part of a crackdown announced after a gunman killed seven people, officials said on Monday.

An Algerian radical and a Malian imam were sent back to their home countries on Monday, while a Saudi imam, a Turkish imam and a Tunisian radical were also subject to expulsion orders, the interior ministry said in a statement. The statement said that the imams had made anti-Semitic statements in their sermons, called for Muslims to reject Western values, and said women should wear the full-face veil. It said the Saudi imam was currently out of France but would be refused entry should he try to return. French police arrested 19 people in a crackdown on suspected Islamist networks in dawn raids on Friday as President Nicolas Sarkozy made the battle against extremism a keynote of his re-election campaign.

Some of the arrests were made in Toulouse, where extremist gunman Mohamed Merah was shot dead by police last month after a series of cold-blooded shootings that left seven dead, including three Jewish children. Merah, branded a “monster” by French leaders after his killing spree, died in a hail of police bullets after a 32-hour siege on his Toulouse flat.

France last week banned four Muslim preachers from entering the country for a conference of the Union of Islamic Organisations in France (UOIF), citing their “calls for hatred and violence”.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

German Opposition Condemns Swiss Tax Arrest Warrant

German opposition politicians have blasted plans by the Swiss federal prosecutor to file charges against German tax officials for obtaining lists of accounts belonging to possible tax-evaders.

Members of the Social Democrats (SPD) voiced outrage at the Swiss arrest warrant for three civil servants alleged to have bought the data belonging to the bank Credit Suisse.

The Swiss federal prosecutor’s office said on Saturday it had sought legal assistance from German authorities in an investigation into the theft of the information.

“When dictators and mass murderers have been forced out of their homelands, they have often put their stolen assets in Switzerland,” Joachim Poss, deputy SPD parliamentary leader told the German daily newspaper Die Welt. Poss added that Switzerland should “criminalize” those people instead.

The SPD parliamentary whip Thomas Opperman told the mass-circulation daily Bild that the inspectors — who had been trying to root out the accounts of potential tax evaders — should receive a government honor rather than be arrested. “They have upheld the rule of law by fighting money laundering and tax evasion,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: “Mosques Springing Up Like Mushrooms”

by Soeren Kern

Donors are using alternative channels to ensure that their donations escape the control of the regular financial system.

More than 250 mosques across Italy have reached an agreement to create a new umbrella organization, the Italian Islamic Confederation (CII). The CII will be controlled by Morocco, and will compete with an existing Muslim umbrella organization, the Union of Islamic Communities and Organizations in Italy (UCOII). The UCOII, which is estimated to control 60% of the mosques in Italy, is closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood. Since its founding in 1990, the UCOII has used its virtual monopoly over the mosques in Italy to spread its Islamist ideology over the 1.5 million Muslims in the country. The UCOII has also worked to become the main interlocutor between the Muslim community and the Italian state. But the Italian government has ruled out reaching an agreement with the UCOII because of its links to the Muslim Brotherhood. “There can be no accords with those like the UCOII, who de facto deny the existence of the state of Israel and hold ambiguous positions on terrorism at the national and local level,” according to Andrea Ronchi, Italy’s former Minister for Community Policy.

After it came to light that the majority of the mosques in Italy are controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni called for a moratorium on the building of new mosques until a new national law could be written to regulate the phenomenon. According to Manes Bernardini, a politician with the Northern League in Bologna, “Mosques are springing up like mushrooms, and mayors can do nothing about it because there is no national law to regulate the proliferation of these structures.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Jailed Mullah to be Norway Gunman Witness

The lawyer for Norwegian confessed killer Anders Behring Breivik says he will call right-wing extremists and Islamists, including a radical jailed mullah, as witnesses in support of his client at this month’s trial.

Defence lawyer Geir Lippestad said the idea of calling extremists such as Mullah Krekar, who founded the radical Iraqi Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam and has been sentenced to five years in prison for making death threats, was important to show that his client was not criminally insane.

An expert evaluation determined late last year that Behring Breivik was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, but the 33-year-old far-right extremist who has confessed to killing 77 people in twin attacks last July insists he is sane.

The far-right Norwegian blogger “Fjordman”, one of Behring Breivik’s mentors, will also be called to the witness stand, Lippestad said, stressing though that the defence does not intend to enable a free-flow of “political propaganda”, as his client appears to wish. “Calling witnesses from extremists milieus is important because we think that the psychiatric experts perhaps do not have the necessary knowledge” to distinguish ideological extremism from a psychiatric disorder, he said.

The defence will place a special emphasis on calling medical and psychiatric witnesses who are likely to testify that Behring Breivik is of sound mind, Lippestad said. The psychiatric experts’ conclusion last year, which if confirmed would entail that the confessed killer is locked up in a psychiatric institution instead of prison, caused outcry in Norway and an Oslo court ordered a second evaluation by two new experts, who will present their findings on April 10.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Kiev-Berlin Negotiations: Ukraine May Release Tymoshenko for Care in Germany

Ukraine may be prepared to release Yulia Tymoshenko, the imprisoned former prime minister, for urgently needed medical care in Berlin. The country’s current president, Viktor Yanukovych, is interested in defusing international pressure, but some in his party are refusing to back down.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Lawyer: Norwegian Who Killed 77 to Call Islamist, Anti-Muslim Extremists to Testify

OSLO, Norway — A lawyer for the Norwegian who confessed to killing 77 people says the defense will call both a Muslim cleric and an anti-Islamic blogger to the stand to refute claims that his client is insane. Geir Lippestad, who represents Anders Behring Breivik, wants their testimony to show there are others who share Breivik’s world view.

Lippestad told public broadcaster NRK on Monday “we wish to call witnesses from both right-wing extremist and Islamist environments.” Lippestad said witnesses would include Mullah Krekar, a radical Iraqi cleric jailed in Norway for making death threats, and a prominent anti-Islamic blogger known as Fjordman. Breivik denies criminal guilt for the July 22 attacks, saying they were part of an anti-Muslim revolution. His trial starts April 16.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Mullah Krekar on Witness List for Norway Gunman

An Islamic extremist implicated in the murder of an Australian cameraman in Iraq could be called to give evidence in the trial of Norwegian gunman Anders Behring Breivik.

Breivik’s lawyer says he will call a number of right-wing extremists and Islamists, including the jailed radical Mullah Krekar, as witnesses in support of his client at this month’s trial.

Defence attorney Geir Lippestad says the idea of calling extremists like Krekar, who founded the radical Iraqi Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam and has been sentenced to five years in prison for making death threats, is important to show that his client is not criminally insane.

An expert evaluation determined late last year that Breivik was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, but the 33-year-old far-right extremist who has confessed to killing 77 people in twin attacks last July insists he is sane.

“We have to determine if the experts who evaluated Breivik mistakenly blew off his ideas and opinions, especially about an ongoing war (between Islam and the West), as paranoid hallucinations and a psychosis,” Mr Lippestad said.

“The question is to know if there are in fact groups, even small ones, in Norway who agree (with his premise). That could be important when it comes to the question of legal responsibility.”

Breivik, who has claimed to be on a crusade against multiculturalism and the “Muslim invasion” of Europe, wants to be declared of sane mind, according to his lawyers, so as not to damage the political message presented in his 1,500-page manifesto published online shortly before the July 22 attacks.

During the trial, which will begin on April 16, the defence attorneys will therefore, upon their client’s request, try to prove that he is sane even though their success would entail that he be locked away in prison instead of a psychiatric institution.

On Monday, Mr Lippestad refused to reveal the “30 to 40” names on the list of witnesses the defence plans to call, but he confirmed that Mullah Krekar was on it…

           — Hat tip: Frontinus[Return to headlines]

Robert Spencer Interviews Nicolai Sennels: “Muslims Are Taught to be Aggressive, Insecure, Irresponsible and Intolerant”

Nicolai Sennels regularly contributes to Jihad Watch, with articles on psychology and translations of Scandinavian and German news. To help you get to know Sennels better, we decided to do an interview.

Nicolai Sennels (born 1976) is a Danish psychologist. His first appearances in the Danish media concerned his unorthodox therapy methods that he developed as the only psychologist at Sønderbro, the youth prison (see here, here, here, here and here). He taught the young prisoners about mindfulness meditation and developed a special program on anger management. Sennels also developed a psychotherapeutic method that focused on teaching criminals with a low understanding of emotions and empathy how to take responsibility for their own behavior. In 2008, the prisoners of Sønderbro voted the facility as the best prison in Denmark. The leader of Social Services in the Copenhagen municipality concluded that this was due to the work of Nicolai Sennels (Amagerbladet, November 3, 2008).

At a conference on immigrant crime in 2008, arranged by the Copenhagen municipality, Sennels said that one should not use the term “criminal immigrants,” but “criminal Muslims,” since the majority of criminal immigrants have Muslim backgrounds. Seven out of ten inmates in the Danish youth prisons have immigrant backgrounds, and almost all of them are Muslims. Sennels was threatened that if he were to discuss his experiences, he would risk losing his job. This story developed into a national debate on the freedom of speech and became a widely discussed topic in the Danish media (please see here and here), and the Minister of Integration joined the discussion.

Sennels decided to publish a book on his experiences, Among Criminal Muslims. A Psychologist’s Experiences from the Copenhagen Municipality, which was well received in both the official Psychologists Union’s magazine and the newspapers. He found himself a new appointment at the Danish Ministry of Defense, and now once again he works as a psychologist for children and teenagers.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Malmö Mayor’s Remarks ‘Wrong’: Party Head

Social Democrat head Stefan Löfven called recent “anti-Semitic” comments by Malmö mayor Ilmar Reepalu “wrong” following what Jewish leaders called a “constructive” meeting to discuss the issue on Monday.

“The comments were wrong, but I still have total confidence in him,” Löfven told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

Sweden’s Jewish leaders called the meeting “constructive”, but emphasized they still lack confidence in Malmö mayor Ilmar Reepalu following his recent “anti-Semitic” remarks.

“It was a very constructive meeting,” Lena Posner Körösi, chair of the Jewish Community in Stockholm (Judiska församlingen i Stockholm) told the TT news agency following the talks, which were called in the wake of comments labeled as “anti-Semitic” by Sweden’s Jewish leaders.

Following the meeting, which was held on Monday at Social Democrat headquarters in Stockholm, Löfven and Posner Körösi emerged together and addressed reporters.

“We’ve now had a meeting between the Social Democrat party leadership and the Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities (Judiska centralrådet i Sverige — JC) and discussed the situation in Malmö and respect for the rights of different minorities,” said Löfven, according to the TT news agency.

“We’ve made it very clear that we are committed to our values and the ideology of people’s equal value and religious freedom. I understand and respect the Jewish community’s concern when they view these comments as an insult to these rights.”

While Löfven expressed his continued confidence in Reepalu, he admitted that the Malmö mayor’s comments were regrettable.

“I want to improve dialogue with the Jewish community in Malmö for which Ilmar Reepalu has a great deal of responsibility,” he said.

“I have confidence in him, but it’s clear that the statements he’s made haven’t been good and I’ve been very clear that it’s unfortunately that they were viewed as anything other than what the party stands for.”

At the centre of the controversy were comments by Reepalu suggesting there were “strong ties” between the Jewish community in Malmö and the Sweden Democrats, a political party with a clear anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim line which has its roots in Sweden’s neo-Nazi movement.

According to Reepalu, “Sweden Democrats have infiltrated the Jewish community in order to push their hate of Muslims”.

He later admitted he had “no basis” for the claims, but the comments had already sparked an angry reaction from the Jewish community, prompting a letter to Löfven from the Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities (Judiska centralrådet i Sverige — JC) demanding action.

While Posner Körösi was pleased with the meeting, she said the onus is now on Reepalu to show he can live up to the Social Democratic values emphasized by Löfven during the meeting.

“Now it remains for Ilmar Reepalu to prove it by his words and actions. Today I don’t have any confidence in him,” she said.

Reepalu on Monday said he planned to contact the Jewish community in Malmö to try to figure out how his comments became misconstrued.

He admitted he doesn’t always express himself that well, but remained emphatic in rejecting claims that he was anit-Semitic.

“Anti-Semitism is the worst form or racism that humanity has ever experienced,” Reepalu told TT.

He said he’s never held the views ascribed to him regarding alleged alliance between the Jewish community in Malmö and the far-right Sweden Democrats.

“My criticism when it comes to the meeting in the Jewish community was directed against the Sweden Democrats and their way of assigning Muslims with collective guilt, not against the Jewish community.”

           — Hat tip: Freedom Fighter[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Man Held for Setting His Wife on Fire

A man in Malmö in southern Sweden is suspected of having set his wife on fire following a domestic dispute stemming from her request for a divorce.

The 38-year-old woman received serious burns in the incident, but her injuries are reportedly not life threatening.

“She has injuries from her midsection and upward and on the entire front of her body…both her her torso and arms. But her face is in pretty good shape,” police spokesperson Peter Martin told the local Skånska Dagbladet newspaper.

According to Martin, investigators believe the woman was drenched in a flammable liquid which was then ignited by her 53-year-old husband.

“The woman wanted a divorce but the man didn’t. He was said to be very controlling,” police spokesperson Anders Lindell told the Expressen newspaper.

The couple’s two children were also present in the apartment at the time, but were unharmed in the incident and have since been taken in by neighbours.

Police received a call shortly after noon on Sunday about a disturbance in a flat in the city’s Rosengård district.

A short time later, emergency services received a call about a fire at the same address.

When fire crews arrived they were met by a woman who had fled out of the apartment. Her clothes had been burned and she was taken by ambulance to Skåne University Hospital in Malmö.

“We heard there was a fire in the building, but when we got there we only found a little smoke in the apartment. A woman whose clothes had been burned ran out of the flat,” emergency services commander Mats Steer told Expressen.

The 53-year-old husband who was still in the apartment was overpowered by police and apprehended on suspicions of attempted murder with an alternative charge of aggravated assault.

The man was placed in arrest later in the evening and interrogated about the incident and denies committing any crime.

Another man was also taken to the police station for questioning, but only as a witness.

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]

‘Switzerland Has a Lot of Explaining to Do’

Swiss arrest warrants issued over the weekend for German tax inspectors have sparked heated debate in Berlin over the ongoing tax evasion conflict with Bern. German commentators on Monday discuss how renewed tensions could endanger a preventative deal between the two nations.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: ‘We Need Border Checks to Combat Crime’

A top Swiss security official has called for the country to reintroduce border checks in a bid to combat a spike in burglaries committed by organized foreign crime gangs.

Jacqueline de Quattro, head of canton Vaud’s security department, believes emergency measures are required after cantons bordering France experienced a 30-percent rise in burglaries last year, newspaper 20 Minutes reported.

A prominent member of the liberal Free Democratic Party, de Quattro said the spiralling crime figures gave Switzerland a legitimate reason to unilaterally sidestep the Schengen agreement and check the identities of people entering the country.

“We need the tools to send out a deterrent signal to criminals,” de Quattro said. “If we do nothing, we risk cross-border crime spreading to the north.” Schengen has opened up Switzerland’s borders, allowing a much freer flow of traffic in and out of the country.

De Quattro’s comments come after the publication last week of official crime statistics showing what has been referred to as an “explosion” of cross-border crime, particularly in cantons Vaud and Geneva.

Switzerland is attractive to criminals not only because of its wealth, but also because the punishments for certain crimes are less severe than in France, news website reported.

The number of car thefts rose by as much as 45 percent in some areas, and overall crime committed by foreigners increased 10 percent on the previous year’s figures. The police are dealing with three main groups of foreign offenders, Francois Schmutz, head of the Geneva police, told Swissinfo.

The first are gangs from Romania and the Balkans; the second, Roma groups who live between Milan and Paris and are thought to be responsible for a whole spate of burglaries; and finally, North Africans living illegally in Geneva. “We need an exception rule which would allow us to conduct systematic border controls,” Swiss People’s Party National Councillor, Heinz Brand, told 20 Minutes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Toulouse Father: ‘My Son Was Liquidated’

The lawyer for the father of the man police shot dead in Toulouse claims to have video proof that Mohamed Merah was needlessly killed. In an interview with Le Parisien newspaper, Zahia Mokhtari said she had seen the videos and they proved the police did not want to capture Merah alive. “What I saw on these videos is proof that Mohamed Merah was manipulated,” she said. “I will be presenting this proof to the French judicial authorities.”

Merah was shot by the elite RAID unit of the French police on March 22nd after he was cornered in a Toulouse apartment block. Merah was the chief suspect in the murder of three school children and a teacher at a Jewish school in the town, as well as the deaths of three French soldiers.

“They didn’t want him alive,” said the lawyer. “What I’ve seen shows there was a deception and we need to show the truth.” In the two videos, Merah is alleged to tell police “I’m innocent, why do you want to kill me, I’ve done nothing wrong.”

Mokhtari said she will be in Paris this week to join forces with a French lawyer to launch legal action. She said the videos were given to her by people “at the heart of events” who wanted to “get the truth out.”

The RAID unit has insisted that it gave Merah every chance to come out alive. “If an assault was launched, it was by Merah,” said the chief of the unit, Amaury de Hauteclocque. 23-year-old Merah was killed after a 32 hour siege in the apartment block where he was tracked down after the seven killings which took place over three days on March 11th, 15th and 19th.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: A Lethal Game-Changer for British Politics?

by Melanie Phillips

The general response to George Galloway’s sensational victory in the Bradford West by-election has missed the point by a mile. Comment has concentrated on the undoubtedly stunning defeat for Labour, and has ascribed Galloway’s victory to widespread disaffection with mainstream political parties. This is certainly part of the story — strikingly, a significant section of the Tory vote appears to have gone to Galloway — but it is not the key factor behind this torrid triumph of a discredited demagogue. For this rested principally on something that commentators are too blinkered or politically correct to mention. Galloway won because young Bradford Muslims turned out for him in droves. They did not vote for him because he was promising them better public services. They did not vote for him, indeed, on account of any British domestic issues. They did so because he tailored his message to appeal to their religious passions and prejudices about conflicts abroad. Specifically, he campaigned against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and for the Palestinians, declaring that his victory would help satisfy voters’ ‘duty’ to care about such grievances.

Most commentators have dismissed this victory as a shocking one-off with no further significance than an upset by an entertaining maverick. Not so. For with Galloway’s election, religious extremism has become for the first time a potential game-changer in British politics. The point being so resolutely ignored is that Galloway ran on an Islamist religious ticket. It wasn’t simply that he was pandering to Islamist foreign policy obsessions. He made explicit references to Islam throughout his campaign. ‘All praise to Allah!’ he saluted his victory through a loud-hailer — having previously told a public meeting that if people didn’t vote for him, Allah would want to know why. Indeed, declaring in one address that ‘God knows who is a Muslim’, he implied that he was even more of a true adherent of that faith than Labour’s Muslim candidate who, he suggested without a shred of evidence, drank alcohol whereas he himself had never touched the stuff. Pinch yourself — a British politician using the inflammatory rhetoric and professions of Islamic piety more commonly heard in Iran or Saudi Arabia. Just as such religious hucksterism inflames millions of followers in the Islamic world, so certain unscrupulous British politicians have now realised they too can tap into the same well of irrational hatred to deliver them electoral victory.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Emma Thompson Backs Israel Boycott for Shakespeare Festival

British Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson has added her name to a list of high-profile figures in the arts world calling on the Globe Theatre to cancel its invitation to an Israeli company to next month’s Cultural Olympiad event. Israel’s national theatre company, Habima, was invited to stage one of 37 Shakespeare plays in foreign languages as part of the Globe to Globe festival. Habima will perform The Merchant of Venice, while during the six-week festival the Ramallah-based Ashtar Theatre will put on an Arabic version of Richard II.

The invitation to the Israeli company had already raised concerns of disruption in the manner of the anti-Israel protests during the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s Proms performance last year. In January activists from Boycott From Within, formed by Israelis who back the boycott movement, urged Globe directors to stop the performance. The Globe said “active exclusion was a profoundly problematic stance to take”.

Now 37 people have signed a letter calling for Israel to be removed from the roster, including the prominent Jewish anti-Israel activists Miriam Margolyes, David Aukin, Jonathan Miller and Mike Leigh. Also on the list is the star of the play Jerusalem, Mark Rylance. Writing that Habima should be boycotted because it had performed in Israeli settlements, the signatories said: “By inviting Habima, Shakespeare’s Globe is undermining the conscientious Israeli actors and playwrights who have refused to break international law.”

The signatories said they had no problem with the Globe including a Hebrew — language performance. “But by inviting Habima, the Globe is associating itself with policies of exclusion practised by the Israeli state and endorsed by its national theatre company,” they said. “We ask the Globe to withdraw the invitation so that the festival is not complicit with human rights violations and the illegal colonisation of occupied land.” The writers added that “Inclusiveness” is a core value of arts policy in Britain, and we support it.”

Earlier this year the Globe said Habima was “the most well-known and respected Hebrew-language theatre company in the world” and so “a natural choice to any programmer wishing to host a dramatic production in Hebrew”. “They are committed, publicly, to providing an ongoing arena for sensible dialogue between Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians.” The letter provoked a response from Professor Geoffrey Alderman, who said: “The activities of the Habima theatre company in connection with the Israeli communities that live in these areas is therefore entirely legitimate.” Speaking to the JC last year, Rut Tonn of the Habima Theatre said it was a blessing that Israelis and Palestinians could take part. “We are always looking for collaborations which will help with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: George Galloway and Ken Livingstone Show That the Left Has Given in to Sectarianism

by Graeme Archer


The modern successful Left-wing politician seeks election through a machinery that should give nightmares to anyone who’s ever pondered the importance of “one nation”. A vicious, divisive sectarianism is… I was going to say “waiting in the wings”, but after Galloway’s victory, that would seem out of date. Those to whom Galloway’s theologically imbued demagoguery gives succour, it should now be clear, are completely immune to metropolitan sneering at his feline antics on Big Brother. The mainstream needs more than to laugh at such people, or deploy colour-coded candidates in a patronising nod towards “authenticity”. Conservatives must show that they are on the side of shopkeepers and their customers, rather than the oligarchs of big business. Fish suppers, if you like; not kitchen ones. Because Galloway isn’t unique. In London, Livingstone imitates George’s unapologetic appeal to sectarianism, in a campaign that must, by now, have cured all but the most delusional Labour supporter of residual eye-scales. “Jews are rich, so they won’t vote for me” is a morally repugnant tone to attach to a mayoral election, but would you be willing to bet that it will fail? The politics of liberal tolerance are being tested against the arithmetic of electoral calculus; arithmetic is winning. It always will, in the absence of a solid Tory counter-appeal to the majority.

So Osborne’s miscalculations and Downing Street’s impression of a Carry On film matter. We can’t trust the Left to fight modern sectarianism: it is their last hope of winning a majority. The Conservatives need rapidly to rediscover why those of us who aren’t toffs support them through thick and thin; it’s got nothing to do with the colour of a cabinet minister’s skin, or with whom he or she sleeps. It’s got everything to do with One Nation — in its proper sense, not as a code for anti-Thatcherite hand-wringing. Cut the taxes of the people who fear for their jobs, Chancellor, because a Tory Chancellor who increases the taxes on people who work is an aristocratic Emperor, quickly seen to be wearing no clothes. The politician in London who benefits from the recent Tory own-goals isn’t called Boris Johnson: and the fight — Boris’s fight — against communal sectarianism is too important to lose.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: George Galloway’s Victory is the Last Thing Britain Needs

by Abhijit Pandya

Galloway’s victory is a vindication for, above all people, Enoch Powell. Powell warned of the dangers that mass immigration would have. Ted Heath failed to listen, what we have is Galloway- a product of classic third world, unassimilated, rabble-rousing, engineering of election results. Galloway’s victory shows that we now have our ghettos. We have segregation. We have a divided land with the consequences of not assimilating failed third-world backward cultures within us. These are growing and multiplying generation after generation. Respect has a future, and provided the Islamic population continues to grow at its present rate, and is not fully assimilated, it is an Islamist one. Be warned.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Scenes From a London Hatefest

Have a look at the scene at last Friday’s “Global march to Jerusalem” demonstration in London. “From the river to the sea” calls for Israel’s annihilation. A Hezbollah flag (it wasn’t the only one). The Neturei Karta freak show. “Zionism, terrorism”. This is what deranged Israel hated looks like.


It seems Labour can’t even be bothered to answer criticism of such behaviour anymore.

I have written three times to Ed Miliband and other party leaders in a personal capacity. In July, I expressed my concern about my MP’s jaunt to Beirut [i.e. Corbyn], for Viva Palestina’s Summer University, alongside Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled, and Azzam Tamimi, who has spoken of his desire to become a suicide bomber. No response. I emailed expressing my alarm at Ken’s backing for Rahman. No response. And having been invited to a fundraising night for Ken at the “Shadow Lounge”, I wrote that he should spend less time there and more time working out how large his cheque to HMRC should be. No response.

And who is the man to Corbyn’s right in the photograph above? Labour MP Andy Slaughter. The man Labour thinks should be this country’s Justice Minister.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Tories Must Return to True Blue Values to Survive

by Leo McKinstry

THE Tories seem to be in meltdown. As ministers lurch from one crisis to another, the Prime Minister is mired in a deepening scandal over party funding. On too many fronts, the Conservative-led Government appears to be incompetent, sleazy, out of touch and divisive, precisely the cocktail of negative characteristics that brought down John Major’s administration in 1997. David Cameron can take no comfort from last week’s by- election result in Bradford West, where maverick Left- winger George Galloway achieved a sensational land- slide victory in one of Labour’s northern heartlands. The out- come was a humiliation for Labour leader ed Miliband, plunging his vapid leadership into yet more turmoil. But the Tories did just as badly with their share of the vote dropping by 22.78 per cent, fractionally more than Labour’s decline.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The 100-Year War Against Football Fans’ Freedom of Speech

by Brendan O’Neill

Last week, Nick Hawkins, the man in charge of prosecuting football fans for the Crown Prosecution Service, gave a lecture titled “Crossing the line: when sport becomes a crime”. It might have been better titled “Blurring the line”, since, like all of today’s intolerant snobbish football-watchers, Hawkins collapsed the age-old, Enlightened distinction between words and actions and argued that football fans’ chanting — mere speech — is potentially a criminal offence. According to Hawkins, fans “cross the line”, and potentially commit a crime, when they indulge in “inappropriate crowd behaviour [and] chanting”. “I would strongly urge clubs to stop their fans singing some of their more choice chants”, he said, before proposing that the FA have the power to deduct points from football clubs, thus causing them to plummet in their league tables, if they fail to police and correct their fans’ speech. He also suggested making clubs “play games behind closed doors” — that is, with no fans at all in attendance — if they don’t get shot of lewd chanting.

Clearly, Hawkins is not satisfied with the reams of public-order legislation which already limit what fans can shout, or with the fact that many clubs now employ stewards who wear headcams to capture fans saying untoward things. No, he wants even stiffer penalties to be imposed on fans whose speech doesn’t measure up to what you might hear around an Islington dinner table. In no other area of public life would such stringent proposals to restrict speech be tolerated. Imagine if ushers at the opera wore headcams to film audience members who jeered at a particularly poor aria. Or if a public official suggested that certain novels — really racy ones — should only be made available to certain people, “behind closed doors”. There would be outrage. Liberty and PEN would go mad. But football fans? They don’t matter. Any assault on their freedom of speech is okay. They have become the lab rats for new forms of censoriousness.

It isn’t hard to work out why things uttered in football stadiums are treated as fundamentally different to all other forms of speech, so much so that special laws are needed to curb and potentially punish them. It’s because football fans, those largely working-class blokes, are viewed as more volatile and suggestible than other sections of society, as something closer to attack dogs than rational human beings. Indeed, a writer for the Evening Standard recently likened fans to “Pavlov’s foaming dogs” — that is, they hear a hateful chant and they act on it. Where middle-class theatregoers can be trusted to watch a foul or violent play and not try to re-enact it afterwards, and where erudite literature-consumers can be trusted to work out that an edgy novel about mass murder is just fiction and not an invitation to kill, apparently football fans must be prevented from hearing offensive chanting because they lack the mental skills needed to distinguish between vile words and real, everyday life. A person’s attitude towards free speech often reveals a great deal about his attitude towards Other People — and the clamour to restrict what can be chanted in football stadiums shows that many in officialdom and the commentariat view fans almost as animalistic, as incapable of hearing weird words without taking them to heart and going mental.

Some of the warriors against football fans’ uncouthness claim that the really offensive chanting we hear today is a relatively new phenomenon and is ruining the Beautiful Game. And all they want to do is make football a pleasant sport once more. So the Guardian’s resident railer against working-class shouting says “extremist” chants are a “late-1960s bolt-on to football”. It is unlikely, says the Guardian, that the fans of the 1950s, “in their caps and overcoats” (back when the working classes were decent!), would have chanted really obnoxious stuff. Perhaps. And yet even back then, when fans were the salt of the earth (ugh), there were campaigns to clean up their speech. There always have been.

As pointed out in an interesting collection of essays called The Roots of Football Hooliganism, “Complaints about the language used at football matches regularly surfaced in the British press in the 1890s and early 1900s”. Usually the focus was on swearing. Indeed, just as today’s FA, in an attempt to appease the middle-class loathers of lewd chanting, promises to try to stamp out offensive speech, so in 1901 the FA said it was “determined… to stop the use of foul language on the part of spectators at football matches”. Newspapers frequently published scandalised news reports about the “verbal misconduct” of working-class football fans, with one complaining that “bad language prevents a decent-minded man enjoying the game and prevents a lady attending”. So, in fact, even when fans merely swore rather than sang properly offensive songs, even when they wore “caps and overcoats” rather than sporting naked, tattooed bellies, still there was a war on their vulgar speech in the name of protecting the sensitives of “decent-minded men”. And so it is today. The socially aware commentators and campaigners who present their efforts to stamp out offensive chanting merely as an attempt to “clean up footie” are in fact the latest footsoldiers in a 100-year war on working-class fans’ colourful language. To use a bit of terrace lingo, if you don’t like what is said at football matches, then **** off somewhere else.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: What Else Tory MPs Say About David Cameron and His Leadership

by Benedict Brogan

James Kirkup and Holly Watt have set the proverbial heather alight with their splash today on the four recommendations being put to David Cameron by members of the ‘22 Executive for sorting out the current difficulties of the Coalition’s Tory end. When I last looked it had clocked up more than 1300 comments. I’ve had a succession of telephone calls from MPs wanting to bash my ear about what’s wrong — or what’s not wrong. Downing Street is stressing Mr Cameron’s willingness to listen to his colleagues about anything that concerns them. He will pay particular attention to demands for a broader set of voices on the ministerial benches — code for a reshuffle — and it might be worth putting a small wager on a ministerial overhaul at the end of the session in May, though my money remains on the autumn or not at all this year. The business about the party chairman — or chairmen — has been noted too. A reorganisation of No10 is less likely I reckon, but only because Dave likes it as it is, ie in his image. As for the Chancellor, he would argue with good reason that the closeness of their relationship is one of the big pluses of the Government, and he has no reason to risk it.

For the sake of completeness, here’s a flavour of what other MPs are telling me.

  • The 1922 Committee is no longer representative of the parliamentary party, because members of the new intake in particular seldom attend. The executive in turn attracts criticism from loyalists because, they say, it is packed with mavericks and eccentrics.
  • A considerable majority of Conservative MPs — some say the vast majority — see no reason to question either Mr Cameron’s leadership or his policies.
  • If anything, Downing Street communicates too much, crowding the inboxes of MPs with briefing and notes to guide what they tell their constituents.
  • There is no money: the economic fundamentals have not changed, the Government has no room to manoeuvre.
  • The Coalition is doing God’s work — or words to that effect — on welfare, education and deficit reduction.
  • If this is a crisis, it is one of temporary hysteria encouraged by a small number of malcontents that in no way reflects the reality, namely that Mr Cameron’s authority is not in doubt.

Of course, that’s the situation within the parliamentary party, a strange tempermental beast at the best of times. Trouble is, it’s the voters who matter, and the overnight polls show how confidence in Mr Cameron’s leadership has plummeted following last week’s fiasco. And even those MPs who support Mr Cameron voice frustration at the way George Osborne got the presentation of the granny tax so wrong last week. As Iain Martin pointed out today, MPs have spotted that Mr Cameron is already on the downward glidepath to the end of his leadership, and that very quickly the election that will decide it will be upon us.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Ukraine Allows Ex-Premier to Leave Prison for Medical Care

Ukraine’s prosecutor general has given jailed opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko permission to get outside medical care for a back condition. Germany is in talks with Ukraine for her to get that care in Berlin.

Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka said on Monday that Tymoshenko could get care from “a specialized medical facility” outside the Kharkiv penitentiary where she is being held, because she could not get adequate treatment there.

The former premier and rival to President Viktor Yanukovych was sentenced in October 2011 to seven years in prison for abusing her power as prime minister during negotiations with Russia over a natural gas supply contract. Tymoshenko said the trial was an attempt to silence the opposition.

It was expected the 51-year-old would be treated at a Ukrainian hospital, however, the German government confirmed it is in talks to have Tymoshenko brought to Berlin.

“We … hope that the talks with the government of Ukraine make medical treatment (in Germany) possible,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert in Berlin on Monday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

US Holocaust Legislation: German National Railway Fears Flood of Lawsuits

Germany’s national railway, Deutsche Bahn, has hired a law firm and PR agency in the United States to prepare for legislation being considered by Congress that would allow Holocaust survivors to sue European railway companies for damages in American courts. Deutsche Bahn fears victims could sue for millions if the legislation passes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘We Need to Invest in a European Identity’

BRUSSELS — The European Parliament is trying to cultivate a “European identity,” with top officials saying that it is the only way to ensure a lasting union between member states. “National systems have very much invested in constructing their own identity,” Klaus Welle, the secretary general of the European Parliament told an audience at the Centre for European Policy Studies, a think-tank, on Thursday (29 March).

“If we want to build a lasting union of solidarity we also need to invest in European identity. We need to understand history as European history and not just as compilation of national histories.” Referring to his native Germany, Welle noted that people speak of the country as if it has existed forever. But the modern German state was created in 1871. Before that there was the German Confederation, which also included Prussia and Austria.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Forget Cornish Pasties. Forget Jerry Cans. It’s More Likely Than Not That Israel Will Strike Iran

by Bruce Anderson

Volatile is a word often used by political commentators and indeed political scientists. Latinate and polysyllabic, it sounds thoughtful, academic. The plain English translation was supplied by Harold Wilson: “A week is a long time in politics”. Weeks have rarely come more volatile than the past few days. Let us start with Mr Galloway. He invoked God so often that one is forced to an inescapable conclusion. The House of Commons now has its first Hizbollah MP (the word means party of God). So will the Almighty acquire more adherents? That will depend on the political demography of other Northern cities. There may be more Bradford Wests ripe for exploitation. On one point, however, Ed Miliband can feel safe. It is extremely unlikely that the catsuit man will realise his fantasy of spreading his message to the white working class. There is not much appeal in a programme of no alcohol, sweets for Saddam Hussein and an extreme reluctance to condemn Islamic terrorism.

But we should not draw comfort from that. The only way of mitigating racial tensions in this country is integration on the basis of mutual respect. The Bradford result does nothing to assist that. So Tories tempted to gloat over Labour’s defeat should think again — and get ready to act. If they but knew it, a lot of the Muslims who voted for the wrong sort of respect last Thursday have much in common with the Tory party. They believe in family values and hard work. There should be no problem in persuading them of the need for an economic recovery based on sound public finances. Although there are difficulties over Iraq and Afghanistan, Tories should take those issues head on, not forgetting to mention Kosovo. The removal of Saddam and the Taleban not only offered the prospect of democracy. It also sowed the seeds of the Arab Spring. Why should other Muslims not enjoy the freedom to vote, as in Bradford?I am not saying that this would be an easy case to make, but there is nothing to be gained by apologising. We should treat Muslims with proper respect by arguing vehemently when we disagree. Labour have always been good at patronising coloured immigrants and assuming that it can count on their votes. When there are declarations of independence, Labour politicians do not know how to respond. Their demoralisation should be the Tories’ opportunity. The party’s core message should be: “We know that you have minds of your own”.


That leads to a final point, which is even more important than Cornish pasties. Over the last week, I have spoken to three people who both realistic and well-informed on matters pertaining to the Muddle East. In the past, they have proved reliable. They all think it more likely than not that the Israelis will take military action against Iran before the US elections.

So if you have stashed away the odd jerry-can, it might still prove useful…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

German-Turkish Trade Relations Are Gaining Momentum

In the past 10 years, Turkey has become an important trade partner for Germany. Export figures have balloned by around 400 percent in the the past decade. But new statistics suggest it’s far from a one-way street.

Turkey has successfully defended its place among the 20 most important trade partners for Germany despite ongoing political tensions over Ankara’s bid to join the European Union.

Over the past 10 years, German exports to Turkey have risen almost four times, the Wiesbaden-based National Statistics Office (Destatis) said on Monday. German imports from Turkey doubled between 2001 and 2011.

In 2011 alone, German exports to Turkey amounted to 20.1 billion euros ($26.8 billion), with imports totaling 11.7 billion euros over the same period. The German trade surplus therefore reached 8.4 billion euros.

Turkey last year took 15th place among the recipients of German exports, which totaled 1,060 billion euros worldwide.

Vehicles and auto parts made up the bulk of German to Turkey exports last year and reached a volume of 5.1 billion euros, followed by engineering tools and machinery as well as chemical products.

Turkey for its part was able to export textiles worth 3.2 billion euros to Germany, followed by specialized machine tools.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iraq: Man Whose WMD Lies Led to 100,000 Deaths Confesses All

Defector tells how US officials ‘sexed up’ his fictions to make the case for 2003 invasion

A man whose lies helped to make the case for invading Iraq — starting a nine-year war costing more than 100,000 lives and hundreds of billions of pounds — will come clean in his first British television interview tomorrow.

“Curveball”, the Iraqi defector who fabricated claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, smiles as he confirms how he made the whole thing up. It was a confidence trick that changed the course of history, with Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi’s lies used to justify the Iraq war.

He tries to defend his actions: “My main purpose was to topple the tyrant in Iraq because the longer this dictator remains in power, the more the Iraqi people will suffer from this regime’s oppression.”

The chemical engineer claimed to have overseen the building of a mobile biological laboratory when he sought political asylum in Germany in 1999. His lies were presented as “facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence” by Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, when making the case for war at the UN Security Council in February 2003.

But Mr Janabi, speaking in a two-part series, Modern Spies, starting tomorrow on BBC2, says none of it was true. When it is put to him “we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie”, he simply replies: “Yes.”

US officials “sexed up” Mr Janabi’s drawings of mobile biological weapons labs to make them more presentable, admits Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, General Powell’s former chief of staff. “I brought the White House team in to do the graphics,” he says, adding how “intelligence was being worked to fit around the policy”.

As for his former boss: “I don’t see any way on this earth that Secretary Powell doesn’t feel almost a rage about Curveball and the way he was used in regards to that intelligence.”…

[Return to headlines]

Syria: Jihadists Declare Holy War Against Assad Regime

Abu Rami hails from Lebanon, but his heart is in Syria these days. The 40-year-old is one of hundreds of Arabs who are fighting against the Assad regime at the side of Syrian insurgents. Many of these volunteer fighters are veterans of the Iraq war, who have now brought their holy war to Syria.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UAE: Death Gets Cheaper in the UAE

New crematorium cuts costs, but shipping expat bodies home remains expensive.

The government of Abu Dhabi has altered regulations that appear to encourage the use of a new emirate-funded crematorium over burial or repatriation of non-Muslim expatriates.

The cost of funerals has been steadily increasing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with coffin prices nearly doubling this year alone. The families and friends of many expatriate workers who die in the UAE are also finding that the cost of shipping the bodies back to their home country is expensive because of the paperwork involved. But now steps have been taken that authorities say would ease the misery of mourners by reducing the red tape and permits required and funding the cremation of dead bodies in a modern crematorium built in Al Ain in Abu Dhabi. “They have spent a great deal of money on this facility and it is a state-of-the-art building,” Don Fox, the chief executive of the Al-Foah Funeral Services in Abu Dhabi, told The Media Line. “No expense has been spared and it gives an aura of serenity and peacefulness to all of the people who have been here.” The facility was built on the orders of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and furnaces were lit up for the first time in mid January. Orders were also given to eliminate a police clearance certificate for natural deaths and other permits that can reportedly save up to 1,000 dirhams ($272).

The UAE, a Gulf confederation of seven mini-states, has an enormous number of foreign residents. Of the 8.3 million people living in the UAE in 2012, 7.31 million of them (88.5%) are expats, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Foreigner workers began arriving in the Gulf nearly half a century ago when the discovery of oil kicked off a massive infrastructure construction drive. Europeans and Asians, as well as citizens from other Arab countries, have helped turn Abu Dhabi and Dubai from sleepy villages into international trade and financial centers and tourism destinations. Gulf nations are heavily reliant on expatriates to do everything from pouring concrete to running locally-based multinational corporations. But earlier this year, Forbes magazine reported the UAE, was an “expat unfriendly” country. Until the crematorium was built, expats who passed away would either be boxed up in an expensive coffin to be shipped back to their native lands for burial or interred locally. The local options for non-Muslims were old, run down and poorly tended cemeteries. “This prompted the government to do something and they provided this marvelous facility,” Fox said, adding that the facility included a multi-faith church that seats 400 people and was easily accessible from all of the UAE. Flowers and other special requests, such as live transmission of funeral services or recorded on DVD, have also become available.

In Dubai, only caskets sold by the Al-Shindagha Trading Company are approved for transporting the deceased abroad. But that company nearly doubled the price of the coffins from 1,200 dirhams to 2,300. The National, a local daily, reported that the Dubai Health Authority is now trying to bring down the price because poor people struggle to ship the bodies of their loved ones home. “The cost of transporting a body to a country like India comes to more than 5,000 dirhams with the new rates. It would be good news if the prices are brought down,” C.P. Matthew, the founder of Valley of Love voluntary organization, was quoted as saying. Fox of Al-Foah Funeral Services confirmed that the price of caskets had doubled. He said that according to international standards of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM), a coffin is even required for cremation. He said some of the coffins they used were custom made, but many were shipped in bulk from abroad. “Most of them are from China, which seems to be conducting a very thriving business,” Fox said. Fox said the cost of cremation is considerably less than getting buried back at home. Some 2,500 human remains are estimated to be repatriated from Abu Dhabi and Al Ain annually. “To have somebody cremated here would be approximately a third of the cost of being repatriated back to their country,” he said. “The reason it’s cheaper so much is because the actual cremation in Al Ain is free. This is paid for by the UAE government.”

In a further move to ease the burial process the health authorities and police agreed that a “no objection certificate” would be required for any natural deaths, but only if buried locally or cremated. “One had to have a letter from the police department to release the body for burial or repatriation. Now for burial or cremation in the UAE that is not required if the person dies a natural death,” Fox said. “This eases things up considerably here and makes the procedure a lot faster.” Despite the moves that will likely channel more business to the crematorium, public awareness among expats in the UAE is still low. Opened since mid-January, Fox expects business to pick up once their website becomes active. Ninety-nine percent of the public in the UAE are not aware that this facility is available yet,” Fox said, adding that visits by the ambassadors of the U.S., European countries and word of mouth would also help business. “When that website comes up there is going to be quite a publicity campaign for the benefit of all the populace.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Suu Kyi’s Party Wins Decisive Victory in Myanmar by-Election

After her release from years of house arrest just 17 months ago, democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi has secured a seat in Myanmar’s parliament. Her NLD party won all of the seats that it contested.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Wives, Daughters of Osama Bin Laden Jailed in Pakistan

A Pakistani court has convicted five close relatives of deceased al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden for illegally staying in the country. They were sentenced to 45 days in prison, fined, and will subsequently be deported.

Osama Bin Laden’s three widows and two of his daughters were convicted of illegally entering and staying in Pakistan on Monday. They received sentences of 45 days in prison — with 31 of those already served during their trial — fined 10,000 rupees ($110, 75 euros), and will face deportation to their home countries when released.

Despite being formally arrested on March 3 ahead of their trial, the five women had been in detention since last May when the al Qaeda leader was killed by US commandos at a compound in the town of Abbottabad.

The women’s lawyer, Amir Khalil, said that the fines had been paid on the spot and that the family’s younger children would travel with them when they left Paksitan. Khalil also said that his clients did not plan to appeal the ruling.

Two of the wives are Saudi Arabian, one hails from Yemen. Khalil said authorities in Yemen had already approved the defendants’ return, though he was still negotiating with Saudi Arabia, which stripped Bin Laden of his citizenship in 1994.

Once out of Pakistan, the women might reveal more information about how Bin Laden was able to evade capture and detection for years in Pakistan. No evidence has been found suggesting that Pakistani authorities knew where Bin Laden was, but doubts remain given that he lived so close to some sensitive military sites.

Washington hunted Bin Laden for almost a decade after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Hong Kong Protesters Reject Beijing-Friendly Leader

Hong Kong’s leader-in-waiting, Leung Chun-ying, faces broad questions of legitimacy because of his close ties to Beijing. Thousands of protesters have now called for his resignation and for universal suffrage.

Thousands of people protested in the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday against last week’s selection of the semi-autonomous city’s new leader, a property consultant with close ties to the mainland government in Beijing.

Organizers said about 15,000 people took part in the demonstration, which was the first against the new leader since his selection, while police put the figure at around 5,300. Protesters chanted slogans like “One person, one vote” and “Leung step down.”

Leung Chun-ying, a 57-year-old millionaire, won 689 votes in the 1,200-seat committee that chooses Hong Kong’s chief executive. The committee is full of loyalists to the Communist government in Beijing.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Korea’s Leader Was No Whizz at Swiss School

North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong-Un, who was schooled in Switzerland, obtained poor grades in school and was often absent, according to a Swiss newspaper report. Kim, who is 29, was absent for 75 days in his first year at the International School of Bern, according to Le Matin Dimanche, while in his second year, he missed 105 days of classes.

The boy, who was registered under the pseudonym Un Pak, was sometimes in school only in the afternoons, said the newspaper, quoting an unnamed former classmate. Not surprisingly then, Kim failed natural sciences with 3.5 out of 6, and obtained a just minimum passing score of 4 for mathematics, culture and society and German.

Even in English, where he was placed in an advanced class before being downgraded to an average one, he obtained the minimum pass grade. Only in music and technical studies did he obtain 5.

This was despite the fact that Kim, who was born January 8th, 1983, was in a class of children mostly born in 1985 due to his poor level of German — the main language used in the Swiss capital Bern. Kim took over the reins of the hermetic country after his father Kim Jong-Il’s death on December 17th, 2011.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

9,000 Burial Plots for Muslims and Jews

Thousands more burial plots will be made available in Sydney, after it looked like the Muslim community would run out of space for their dead in just six months. The NSW government on Monday announced the allotment of 6000 additional burial plots for Muslims and 3000 for the Jewish community at Rookwood Necropolis in Sydney to address the space shortages. Approximately 350 Muslim burials occur each year at Rookwood, and community leader Ahmad Kamaledine said there were only enough spaces to accommodate burials for the next six months. “For us as a Muslim community … the news is overwhelming. In six months’ (time) we had nowhere to go,” he told reporters at NSW Parliament House. Mr Kamaledine said he’d been working to secure burial plots for the past 12 years. The Muslim community will receive half of the land at Lot 10 in the NSW government-owned Rookwood Necropolis, accommodating 6000 people in double-depth plots. The other half of Lot 10 will be used for 3000 single Jewish burial plots which will be protected in perpetuity, under Jewish requirements.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Burqa-Clad Men Prompt Anger in Sydney

Ugly scenes erupted between a group of burqa-clad protesters and a Muslim man outside NSW State Parliament in Sydney today.

A group of men dressed in the veiled female garb as a publicity stunt to try and get the outfit banned.

Members of the group Faceless ventured into a Sydney CBD courthouse, pub and bank without drawing much reaction, but faced a stronger backlash later outside parliament.

“It’s got no place in Australia — it’s a front to a civilised country like Australia,” Faceless member Nicholas Folkes said of the burqa.

Nine News filmed a man outraged by the protesters, shouting in their faces and pulling off their veils.

“That’s what I think of you,” the man said after spitting on the ground.

The argument became more heated when a man connected to Faceless referred to the prophet Mohammed as “a rat”.

No one will be charged over the stunt.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

The Terrorist Australia Doesn’t Want

The Australian Federal Police did not pursue the extradition of an Islamic extremist over the murder of an Australian cameraman in Iraq, the ABC can reveal. A diplomatic cable dated 2009 and leaked to WikiLeaks suggests there were “no obstacles” to such an extradition request being approved. Paul Moran, a freelance cameraman, was killed in a suicide attack while on assignment for the ABC in 2003. Iraqi terrorist group Ansar al Islam claimed responsibility for the attack. The group’s founder, Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, also known as Mullah Krekar, openly taunted the Australian Government to come and get him. But no-one did. In 2007 the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent broadcast Norwegian Jihad: An investigation of Mullah Krekar. An AFP spokesman has told Foreign Correspondent that officials considered launching a probe into the case. “The evaluation of evidence was considered against a possible offence under section 115 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Harming Australians),” he said. “In this case, there was insufficient information available to justify an investigation and as a result the AFP determined not to investigate the matter.” But there is no indication of how the AFP reached this conclusion.

Australia’s most experienced international war crimes prosecutor, Graham Blewitt, has slammed the decision as “a lot of crock, a fob-off”. Mr Blewitt was deputy chief prosecutor at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal from 1994 to 2004 and also headed the Australian Nazi War Crimes Unit in the early 1990s. He says the AFP “has a policy of not touching anything to do with terrorism or war crimes with a 10-foot pole”. They don’t want to do it. Too expensive,” he said. “Their argument that it’s difficult to pursue witnesses and evidence overseas is a load of ****.” Mr Blewitt has accused the Federal Government of lacking the political will to pursue suspects as “there are no votes in war crimes, they walk away from it”.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenya Church Blast Leaves One Dead

At least one person has been killed and some 18 injured in bomb attacks in and near to the Kenyan city of Mombasa. The blasts are the latest in a string of attacks since the country sent troops into neighboring Somalia.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Mali: Neighbours Set to Close All Borders

All borders into landlocked Mali could be closed and its central bank starved of cash as the country’s neighbours attempted to force the controlling junta to restore democracy after the coup.

West Africa’s leaders met on Monday night to plot strategies on how to strong-arm Mali’s new governors into standing down and bringing back the ousted president. Chief among the options is to close borders and cut off capital to the national bank in Bamako. That would leave the country’s 15 million citizens, many of them facing the threat of famine as drought continues, struggling to find food, fuel and cash to buy medicines or keep businesses running. As the crisis in the West African country intensified on Monday, France and Belgium followed Britain’s lead in ordering its citizens to leave as soon as possible. Islamist militants fighting alongside Tuareg forces in the north planted their black flag in the centre of the ancient city of Timbuktu after it fell to the advancing rebels on Sunday night.

France, Mali’s former colonial ruler, ruled out sending troops to help resolve the crisis. But Alain Juppe, the foreign minister in Paris, said on Monday that he would “relay” the needs of Mali’s neighbours to the United Nations Security Council. Rebels in Mali’s Sahara regions have taken the opportunity of the confusion following last month’s coup to seize control of almost all territory in the north. There are fears that the rebels, initially mostly Tuaregs demanding self-determination, are now being overtaken by Islamist factions aiming to forge a new rule according to a strict interpretation of Islam. Captain Amadou Sanogo, the coup leader, took power because he said that the government of Amadou Toure, the deposed president, was doing little to beat back the rebels. But since the March 21 coup, the rebels have taken more and more territory. Their spokesman said yesterday that they did not intend to advance on Bamako, the capital, but would cement their control over newly-captured areas. They would prove hard to dislodge and would demand representation in the national parliament once the crisis passed, one diplomat in Bamako said.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Mali: Islamists Push for Sharia Law in Northern Mali

by Bate Felix

BAMAKO, April 2 (Reuters) — Islamists moved to impose sharia law in northern Mali after helping Tuareg separatists seize key towns, ransacking bars and banning Western-style clothes and music, residents said on Monday. A lightning 72-hour advance by rebels over the weekend, which exploited the chaotic aftermath of a military coup in the distant capital, is the latest threat to stability in West Africa, whose leaders met for crisis talks in Senegal. Coup leaders agreed on Sunday to prepare to hand power back to civilians after neighbouring states threatened to shut the land-locked country’s borders. Residents in the ancient trading post of Timbuktu said local Ansar Dine Islamists, who alongside Tuareg separatists seized the town on Sunday, had declared they were in control of the former Saharan tourist draw and would impose Islamic law. A Reuters reporter in the northern city of Gao, seized by rebels on Saturday, said Islamists there were ransacking bars and hotels serving alcohol. In Kidal, the third main town of the region, one resident told Reuters music had been barred from radio stations and Western-style clothes had been banned.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Mali: Ancient Islam Site Attacked by Tuaregs

AGADEZ, NIGER Booms from rocket launchers and automatic gunfire crackled around Mali’s fabled town of Timbuktu over the weekend. Known as an ancient seat of Islamic learning, for its 700-year-old mud mosque and, more recently, as host of the musical Festival in the Desert that attracted the Irish group U2’s lead singer Paul Hewson (Bono) in January, many are shocked at the attacks. On Sunday, nomadic Tuaregs who descended from the people who first created Timbuktu in the 11th century and seized it from invaders in 1434, attacked the city in their fight to create a homeland for the Sahara’s blue-turbanned nomads. Their assault deepens a political crisis sparked March 21 when mutinous soldiers seized power in the capital. The Tuaregs have rebelled before, but never have they succeeded in taking Timbuktu or the major northern centres of Kidal and Gao, which fell Friday and Saturday as demoralized government troops retreated.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Christian Blood on Obama’s Hands

Drops in a tidal wave of death that is sweeping toward us: We must not forget Boko Haram, the murdered Christians of Africa, the murdered Jews of Tolouse or the murdered Hindus of Karachi.

On Christmas Day of last year, Muslim terrorists set off bombs in churches across Nigeria. It was one of the worst attacks by Boko Haram, which is determined to continue its reign of terror until the country is ruled by Muslim law. Christian pastors have been beheaded by Boko Haram and a spokesman for the group has openly stated that their interim goal is “to eradicate Christians from certain parts of the country.”

The Boko Haram death toll has surpassed a thousand in only a few years. It has killed 250 people this year alone. It draws inspiration from the Taliban, has links to Al-Qaeda, and has carried out numerous sophisticated attacks, including multiple car bombings.

That leaves one question. Why hasn’t Boko Haram been designated a terrorist organization? it has killed more people than some of the organizations on the list and it is dedicated to ethnic cleansing, something that we decided was unacceptable when it came to Muslims. Shouldn’t it then be equally unacceptable when it is being done by Muslims to Christians?

Apparently not. Johnnie Carson, Obama’s Chicago-born man in Africa, and the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs at subcommittee hearings chaired by Senator Coons, dismissed the idea of designating Boko Haram a terrorist organization and claimed falsely, that despite Boko Haram’s repeated statements about its goals and its very name, that this conflict was not driven by religion, but by social inequities.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Greece to Complete Anti-Migrant Wall ‘Very Shortly’

BRUSSELS — Greece has said it will quickly finish construction of a controversial wall designed to keep out migrants, claiming that the thousands of people coming into the country each year threaten “social peace.” “The construction will begin very shortly and will also be completely very shortly,” the country’s citizen protection minister Micalis Chrisochoidis said during a visit to Brussels on Monday (2 April).

The three-metre-high barrier is to block a 12.5km-long strip of land between Turkey and Greece. The rest of the border between the two countries is formed by the Evros river. Athens says almost 130,000 immigrants entered Greece via the land crossing last year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Obama to Relax Rules for Illegal Immigrants to Become Citizens

On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security will post for public comment an administrative change intended to reduce the time illegal immigrants would have to spend away from their families while applying for legal status, officials said. The current system requires the applicant to first leave the U.S. to seek a legal visa, but under the proposed change illegal immigrants could claim the time apart from a spouse, child or parent would create “extreme hardship” and allow them to remain in the U.S. as they begin the process.

Once approved, the person would be required to briefly leave the country to pick up the legal visa abroad.

Currently, families are often separated for several months as they await resolution of their applications. The change could reduce that time apart to one week in some cases, officials said. The White House hopes the new procedures could be in place by the end of the year.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


In the Shadow of the Sword, By Tom Holland [Book Review]

This is a book of extraordinary richness. I found myself amused, diverted and enchanted by turn. For Tom Holland has an enviable gift for summoning up the colour, the individuals and animation of the past, without sacrificing factual integrity. He writes with a contagious conviction that history is not only a fascinating tale in itself but is a well-honed instrument with which we can understand our neighbours and our own times, maybe even ourselves. He is also a divertingly inventive writer with a wicked wit — there’s something of both Gibbon and Tom Wolfe in his writing. Thus Theoderic… “for all the sheen of his classical education… had been given to murdering courtiers with his own hands, and sporting a moustache.” I also relished the description of a shaman “vomiting up revelations”.

He possesses a falcon eye for detail, whether it’s the royal Sassanian battle flag as it advances north towards its doom into the steppes of Central Asia, or the reported vision of the Avar Khan who knew Constantinople would survive his assault after he saw its walls defended by the Virgin Mary “a woman alone in decorous dress”, or how Rabbinical scholars recommended anointing the scalp with the blood of a dead rooster as a cure against migraine. We catch a glimpse of a workaholic Byzantine Emperor burning the midnight oil in the recesses of his administrative palace just as we witness the repulsive retching death spasms suffered by the victims of the 6th-century bubonic plague. But Holland can also do the far horizons in a few telling brush strokes, skillfully colouring in our mental map of ‘barbarian Western Europe’ with Ostrogoths, Vandals, Franks and Visigoths.

The ostensible subject at the heart of In the Shadow of the Sword is the sudden and totally unexpected rise of the Arab Empire of the Caliphate in the seventh century. Holland charts its emergence out of the two Empires that preceded it: the Byzantine Empire of the eastern Mediterranean and the Sassanian Empire of Persia and Mesopatamia. To disentangle the nature of these two very particular states, Holland looks back over the centuries to identify their different spiritual legacies and political dynamics. But the core of the narrative starts in 480 AD and takes us on a roller-coaster of an adventure, ending with the mutually assured destruction of each others territory by Heraclius and Khusrow, which allows for the sudden emergence of an Arab Empire in around 650 AD. Over the next hundred years the Caliphate expands its dominions, indulges in civil war and gradually defines itself around a new culture. Holland’s end date is around 750 AD — with the failure of the last great Arab attempt to storm Constantinople, the fall of the Ummayad dynasty (centred on Damascus) and the emergence of the Abbasid Caliphs of Baghdad. This is an understandable end-date for another reason, for this is when paper replaced parchment and when the first great Arab chronicles were penned, not to mention the vast corpus of Hadith sayings and Koranic exegesis by a new class of literate Muslim jurists.

But running like a stream of molten lava beneath the narrative of Holland’s history is an even more intriguing story. This is a history of the history as it were, telling how the warrior-dominated Empires of Antiquity were transformed into the first monotheistic states; how the old inclusive conquest states, with their comparatively simple desire for submission and tribute were replaced by states which imposed systems of total belief and demanded exclusive loyalty. As Holland reveals this was a slow, incremental achievement by literate and inventive clerics, teachers and jurists. On the one hand they are heroes, proving to the world that the pen is mightier than the sword, building a world dominated by passionate beliefs, schools, hospices and hospitals (rather than theatres, fora and amphitheatres) but they are also the villains, the crabby, jealous, legalistic men who forge prisons from the bricks of religion. We observe the Eastern Roman Empire morphing itself into Byzantium, first with the closure of the last pagan temples and schools of philosophy, then with a slow tightening of the definitions of Christian Orthodoxy, which will progressively condemn Jews and Samaritans before advancing to exclude the so-called Arian, Monophysite or Nestorian churches. In the same period the Talmudic schools of Mesopotamia create modern Judaism and Sassanian Iran becomes the homeland of a national, priest-ridden Zoroastrian orthodoxy. Many of its rituals, the habit of five daily prayers, of an obsessive dental hygiene and intolerance of dissent (which led to the martyrdom of such a God-loving individual as the prophet Mani) will be grafted into early Islam. This is wonderful, hard-hitting analysis, elegantly tied into the unfolding narrative of events, with each religious establishment exposed in all its glory and treacherous realpolitik.

Holland has also set himself a third task, as judge of the traditional Muslim narrative. He explains that the traditional story of Islamic origins and the life of the Prophet was only written down a hundred years after the events occurred, and was edited by writers whose primary motivation was theological, and who needed to ground their own political and legal innovations by creating retrospective case history. This is true enough, and as he also demonstrates this happened all over the ancient world, but the craft of the historian is to surely sift and winnow, not to throw the baby out with the bath-water. But instead of interpreting the traditions, Holland follows the brilliant, challenging ideas that Patricia Crone threw into the goldfish bowl of Islamic scholarship a few decades ago to stir things. In essence the full deconstructionist interpretation of nascent Islam denies the existence of pre-Islamic Mecca, tries to divide the Prophet Muhammad into two characters (along the obvious fault line of the different tone of the revelations from Mecca and Medina) and imagines early Islam as a Jewish-Christian heresy aspiring to conquer the Holy Land. They also tend to site non-Muslim sources in preference to anything that can be seen to have been composed in Abbasid Baghdad. But interestingly enough, Holland’s vivid selection of non-Muslim texts all prove broadly supportive of the traditional narrative of events — even the most remarkable chance find of them all, a humble receipt for sheep paid over to a very early Arab military detachment operating in Egypt.

Despite this, Holland keeps rigidly to the deconstructionist interpretation, indeed pushes out the boundaries with some rather wild suggestions, such as placing the original homeland of Islam in a base-camp on the desert borders of Palestine, not to mention the creation of Mecca by an Ummayyad Caliph. I was intrigued to read these suggestions, but ultimately unconvinced. Take the issue of Mecca as an example. We know that the ritual actions of the Meccan Haj are pagan in origin, and can usefully be compared to the survival of other pagan rituals in this period, such as at Harran. No-one interested in creating a brand new, pure Islamic cult centre in the middle of the Arabian desert would have instituted ritual actions connected with the annual commemoration of the death and rebirth of the great Goddess! And of course the geographical location of Mecca allows us to understand the many Ethiopian and Red Sea influences that have been discerned in the language of the Koran. Even with these slight flaws In the Shadow of the Sword remains a spell-bindingly brilliant multiple portrait of the triumph of monotheism in the ancient world.

Barnaby Rogerson’s latest book is ‘The Heirs Of The Prophet Muhammad: And The Roots Of The Sunni-Shia Schism’

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Anonymous said...

Re: WMD lies: He could be lying now. Maybe they are in Syria. Why believe a liar?