Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120404

Financial Crisis
»‘This is a Dignified End Before I Have to Start Scrounging Food From the Trash’: Desperate Man, 77, Shoots Himself Dead Outside Greek Parliament During Rush Hour
»County Moves to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Public Notice in Mosque Case
»Muslim Brotherhood Officials Aim to Promote Moderate Image in Washington Visit
»Muslim Voters Could Swing Election, Report Finds
»Obama’s Timidity Risks the World’s Security
»Respect the Hoodie and the Headscarf
»Stakelbeck on Terror Show: The Battle for Our Minds
»Students Angry Over Pricey Courses Pepper-Sprayed
»UCLA Honors Sharia Apologist Khaled Abou El Fadl
Europe and the EU
»British ‘Extremists Caught Carrying Al Qaeda Manual 44 Ways to Support Jihad Were Fundraising for Somali Terrorists’
»France Arrests 10 Suspected Islamists in Fresh Raids
»French Police Swoop on More Suspected Islamists
»Germany: Hitler: A Short Biography [Book Review]
»Germany: We’re Good Europeans Yet They All Hate Us
»Norway Killer — ‘Insane’ Diagnosis “Worse Than Death”
»UK: ‘Child Sex Victims Were Prostitutes With Enough Business Acumen to Win the Apprentice’, Man at Centre of Sex Gang Trial Tells Court
»UK: British Muslims Transcending Differences
»UK: Blackburn Woman Jailed for Posing as PC on Facebook
»UK: Croydon Mosque Unveils Extension Plans for London Road Site
»UK: Conservatives Will Not Win Election Without More Focus on Minority Voters, Says Baroness Warsi
»UK: George’s Tongue-Lashing: Third Wife (And Mother of His New Baby) Says They’re Still Wed, Then His Mother-in-Law Warns He’ll Only Marry Someone Else Next Year
»UK: Leaders Who Lead to Surrender
»UK: No One Saw it Coming
»UK: Why the Odds Are Against a Tory Majority
Israel and the Palestinians
»We Salute Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi
Middle East
»In the Shadow of the Sword by Tom Holland: Review
»Iran: Grand Ayatollah Nour: “Islamic Rules Are Based on Fairness”
South Asia
»India: Mamata Doles Out Sops to Muslims
»India: Muslims Hail HC Ruling
»Malaysia: Don’t Cross Religious Boundary: Raja Nazrin
»Muslims in Kazakhstan Indignant at Vodka Makers Inclusion of “Allah” On Liquor Bottles
Far East
»Can China Makes Its Cuisine — and Finance — Friendly to Muslims?
Australia — Pacific
»Police Say Bendigo Mother Raped 14 Times
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Ghana: NDC Advised to Show Respect to Muslims and the Islamic Religion
»Somalia Theatre Bombing Kills Top Sports Officials

Financial Crisis

‘This is a Dignified End Before I Have to Start Scrounging Food From the Trash’: Desperate Man, 77, Shoots Himself Dead Outside Greek Parliament During Rush Hour

A cash-strapped Greek pensioner shot and killed himself outside parliament in Athens today after saying he refused to scrounge for food in the rubbish.

The public suicide by the 77-year-old retired pharmacist quickly triggered an outpouring of sympathy in a country where one in five is jobless and a sense of national humiliation has accompanied successive rounds of salary and pension cuts.

After becoming desperate at his financial plight, the Greek pensioner is said to have put a handgun to his head in the busy central Athens square before declaring, ‘So I won’t leave debts for my children’, and pulling the trigger.

Just hours after the death, an impromptu shrine with candles, flowers and hand-written notes protesting the crisis sprung up in the central Syntagma square where the suicide occurred. Dozens of bystanders gathered to pay their respects.

One note nailed to a tree said ‘Enough is enough’, while another asked ‘Who will be the next victim?’.

The ‘Indignant’ protesters, who have turned out in the thousands against austerity measures imposed by foreign lenders in exchange for bailout loans, said they planned a march later on Wednesday.

‘This is a human tragedy,’ government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis said as politicians in parliament decried the death.

Acts of suicide have been instrumental in the past in provoking popular protest. A Tunisian vegetable seller triggered the start of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ by setting himself on fire in December 2010.

‘When dignified people like him are brought to this state, somebody must answer for it.’

Witnesses said the man put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger after yelling out: ‘I have debts, I can’t stand this anymore.’

Another passerby told Greek television the man said ‘I don’t want to leave my debts to my children.’

A suicide note found in his coat pocket blamed politicians and financial troubles for driving him to take his life, police said.

The government had ‘annihilated any hope for my survival and I could not get any justice. I cannot find any other form of struggle except a dignified end before I have to start scrounging for food from the trash”,’ the note said.

The president of the pharmacists’ union in the broader Attica region, Costas Lourantos, said he recalled meeting the man several years ago and was struck by his dignified manner.

‘When dignified people like him are brought to this state, somebody must answer for it,’ said Lourantos.

‘There is a moral instigator to this crime — which is the government that has brought people to such despair.’

Shortly after news of the man’s death, Lourantos says he received an anonymous call from a pharmacist saying she would be next to follow suit.

‘I am now frantically looking to find out who it was so we can stop her,’ Lourantos said.

The busy square, through which thousands pass by during the morning commute hours when the suicide occurred, was cordoned off while the body was taken away.

Greece is stumbling through its worst post-World War Two economic crisis as austerity measures demanded by foreign lenders in exchange for financial aid push the country into its fifth year of recession.

Suicide rates in Greece have dramatically increased in the past three years as the country struggles to cope with economic hardship.

According to the Greek Ministry of Citizen Protection, suicides increased by 22.5 per cent to 622 in 2010.

The government last year said suicides had increased 40 percent over the previous two years as the worsening crisis drives ordinary Greeks to despair.

With financial hardship fast becoming an unavoidable facet of life for many, some Greeks said the pharmacist’s public suicide would not be the last.

‘This is the point to which they’ve brought us. Do they really expect a pensioner to live on 300 euros?’ asked 54-year old Maria Parashou, who rushed to the square to pay her respects after reading about the suicide.

‘They’ve cut our salaries, they’ve humiliated us. I have one daughter who is unemployed and my husband has lost half of his income, but I won’t allow myself to lose hope.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


County Moves to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Public Notice in Mosque Case

Mosque case set for April 25-26

MURFREESBORO — The plaintiffs accusing the Rutherford County government of failing to provide sufficient public notice before approving a mosque will first have to defend a motion to dismiss their case. The county attorney’s office recently filed a motion asking Chancellor Robert Corlew III to make a summary judgment to end the case rather than to proceed with an open meeting trial scheduled for April 25 and 26. Corlew will hear arguments about whether to proceed with the trial during a hearing scheduled at 1 p.m. April 19. The county contends that it provided sufficient public meeting notice through legal advertising and government web posting before the county Regional Planning Commission approved plans on May 24, 2010, for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro to build a bigger place of worship of 52,960 of square feet.

“This court, in its order denying the temporary injunction, has already ruled that Islam is a religion,” the county’s most recent motion states. “Pursuant to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, Article I & 3 of the Tennessee Constitution, and the Tennessee Religious Freedom Act, Rutherford County could not provide greater notice to the public based on the Islamic faith, or alleged affiliations, of applicant than is typically provided to any other applicant, religious and unreligious alike. Hence, since the typical notice provided by Rutherford County is, as a matter of law, sufficient, notice in this case was sufficient.”

In a case dating back to September 2010, Corlew so far has ruled the plaintiffs cannot stop the ICM from building a bigger place of worship, and that the congregation has property rights to build a new mosque on Veals Road off Bradyville Pike southeast of Murfreesboro city limits. Corlew, though, has questioned the county’s advertisement in The Murfreesboro Post was sufficient. Plaintiffs’ attorney Joe Brandon of Murfreesboro contends that the county’s motion to dismiss the case has no merit. “We are filing a response in the next couple of days to the county’s motion for summary judgment,” Brandon said during a Tuesday phone interview. “We will be able to show in our response fraud and deceit upon the court. We in no capacity believe the court will grant the county’s motion. The chancellor has already told these plaintiffs that they are entitled to their day in court and we expect our day in court.”

The ICM continues to build its new home to replace a small one on the back side of an office at 862 Middle Tennessee Blvd.

Phase I is supposed to be about 12,000 square feet, and the builder reported last fall he expected it to be done by this summer.

- Scott Broden, 615-278-5158

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Muslim Brotherhood Officials Aim to Promote Moderate Image in Washington Visit

Members of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood began a week-long charm offensive in Washington on Tuesday, meeting with White House officials, policy experts and others to counter persistent fears about the group’s emergence as the country’s most powerful political force. The revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak has rapidly transformed the Brotherhood from an opposition group that had been formally banned into a political juggernaut controlling nearly half the seats in Egypt’s newly elected parliament. With its rise, however, have come concerns from Egypt’s secularists as well as U.S. officials that the Islamist group could remake the country, threatening the rights of women and religious minorities. Such fears were only exacerbated by the Brotherhood’s recent decision to field a candidate in upcoming presidential elections, despite previous pledges that it would not do so.

In meeting with U.S. officials, Brotherhood representatives were expected to depict the organization as a moderate and socially conscious movement pursuing power in the interest of Egyptians at large. “We represent a moderate, centrist Muslim viewpoint. The priorities for us are mainly economic, political — preserving the revolution ideals of social justice, education, security for the people,” Sondos Asem, a member of the delegation, said Tuesday in an interview with reporters and editors of The Washington Post.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Muslim Voters Could Swing Election, Report Finds

(CNN) — The number of Muslims in the United States is tiny — less than one in 100 Americans — but their votes could sway the results of the presidential election in November, a new study says. That’s because they are concentrated in a number of key swing states, says Farid Senzai, the author of the report. Take Florida, for example, the state that famously swung the 2000 presidential election for George W. Bush over Al Gore. Bush won by 537 votes — while a get-out-the-vote phone bank contacted 23,000 Muslims in one day during elections in 2008 and 2010, the report says. Nauman Abbasi — the head of Emerge USA, which ran the phone bank — says efforts like his will increase Muslim voter turnout. There are about 1.2 million registered Muslim voters in the United States, according to the study, “Engaging American Muslims.” More religious Muslims and those more involved in their mosques are more likely to vote, it found. The biggest Muslim populations are in New York and California, which are unlikely to be battleground states in November. But the next largest numbers of Muslim voters are found in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Virginia, all of which could be key battlegrounds between President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent.

Florida and Ohio, two states that have been decided by razor-thin margins in recent years, also have enough Muslim voters to make a difference to the final result, the report says.

Of course, many other, larger constituencies, from Hispanics to women to the unemployed to political independents, could also claim to be the key ingredient in a winning coalition.

And Muslim voters have much the same concerns as the population at large, with domestic issues and the economy dominating, the study says. Most Muslims voted for Bush in 2000, Democratic Sen. John Kerry in 2004 and Obama in 2008. They are more likely than the population as a whole to approve of Obama’s performance now, the study found. The report comes from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a Washington think tank focusing on Muslim issues. It is based largely on earlier data from sources including Gallup, Zogby International and the Pew Research Center.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Timidity Risks the World’s Security

by John Bolton

Barack Obama’s Stakhanovite efforts to transform America’s economy and society into something akin to European-style social democracy are undergoing considerable analysis and debate, especially as the 2012 campaign steams towards November. Most presidential re-election contests are referenda on the incumbent, and this year will be no exception, despite Obama’s obvious strategy to focus on almost anything but his actual record. His “spread the wealth around” slogan, industrial policy that showers favourites with subsidies and loan guarantees, turning major car manufacturers over to union ownership, and taxing the rich as if they were miscreants, all resemble the paradigm of most current or aspiring European Union members.

But Obama’s driving ideology, whether he wins or loses on November 6, has already had enormous implications for the US role in the world and the very structure of the international order. By reducing not only the visibility of America’s global presence, but also its military capabilities, and by shifting the federal budget even further from national security to social welfare programmes, Obama has also sought to transform the United States into Europe. Of course, the obvious question is what happens once Washington’s protective shield is diminished to the point of feebleness. It was one thing for European and other industrial democracies to be free riders under the sheltering US nuclear umbrella, its strong naval forces, and its essentially global force projection capabilities. But when the only superpower doffs its cape and Lycra uniform, packs them up in the telephone booth, and becomes just another mild-mannered suit, who will then shield those free riders, not to mention a much weakened United States itself?

Obama sees American strength as provocative. He believes its nuclear arsenal is excessive, and hence worthy of reduction, without fearing in any way that shredding the nuclear deterrent might actually have profoundly deleterious consequences not only on US national security, but on security and stability in the world as a whole. He sees his presidency causing “the tide of war” to recede in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, just as his tenure will mark “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow”. Dramatic reductions in military budgets, and the consequent devastating reductions in force levels, capabilities and weapons systems, apparently do not trouble him even slightly.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Respect the Hoodie and the Headscarf

by Hesham Hassaballa

In the Name of the Compassionate and Infinitely Merciful Precious Beloved

It is quite easy to get overwhelmed by your personal predicaments and problems, whether on an individual or communal basis. As a Muslim community, there are almost daily reports of attacks on mosques, a proliferation of anti-Islam seminars and speakers, and most recently, the horrible news about the beating death of an Iraqi-Muslim woman in her own home. It is quite easy to think that no other minority group has got it this bad. Then I heard about the brutal killing of Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch captain. Even though Shaima Al Awadi’s death occurred after Martin’s, in the aftermath of the Martin murder, I came to realize the extent to which young black males across our country are being advised on how to conduct themselves to avoid being killed. It truly took me aback.

The easy response would be to say, “But for the grace of God, there go I,” and move on and not think about it. Yes, indeed, that would be easy to do. But, it wouldn’t be the right thing to do. The correct response to these murders is to say: “I am Trayvon Martin;” “I am Shaima Al Awadi.” The correct response would be to say: “Trayvon Martin is my son,” and “Shaima Al Awadi is my sister.” Indeed, the response to Trayvon’s killing has been nationwide outrage, condemnation, and protest. Sadly, the response to Mrs. Alawadi’s equally tragic murder has been deafening silence. These are not just personal tragedies of individual families and communities in opposite ends of our country. Both murders should be in the forefront of our nation’s collective mind, for both may very well be the result of hatred and division.

Yes, the racism and hatred against African-Americans has predated that of American Muslims by centuries. In fact, many of those African Americans to whom such hatred and racism were directed were themselves Muslim. Yes, those American Muslims who are immigrants or children of immigrants, like me, are very much indebted to scores of African-Americans who stood up and shed their blood on the streets of this country to fight for their civil rights. That is why I say, “I am Trayvon Martin.” And, given that my late daughter would have turned 16 this year, I say, “Trayvon Martin is my son,” as well. But, America needs to also see that Shaima Al Awadi is her sister; Shaima Al Awadi is her daughter; Shaima Al Awadi is her mother. If hatred is ultimately the cause of her death, it is no less tragic, no less outrageous, and no less horrific. There is too much at stake for us to continue to allow such hatred to gnaw at our fabric as a nation and a people. There is too much at stake for us to let this sort of hatred to continue unabated.

Already, people across the nation are wearing “hoodies,” the same type of hooded sweatshirt that young Trayvon wore the night he was killed. I wish that people would also wear a headscarf as well: It is also a head covering, and it also may have contributed to the death of Shaima Al Awadi. In both cases, the investigations are ongoing. In both cases, evidence is there that indicates an underlying racial, ethnic, or even religious hatred that motivated the crimes. And if it is confirmed that hatred was the motive in both cases, then the entire nation should be offended. Just as we should all be saying, “I am Trayvon Martin and Shaima Al Awadi,” we must start to say and begin to work for: “No more Trayvon Martins and no more Shaima Al Awadis.” The future of our harmony as a people is at stake.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck on Terror Show: The Battle for Our Minds

On this week’s episode of the Stakelbeck on Terror show, author Michael Widlanski joins us to discuss his new book, Battle For Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat.

Widlanski says our government decision makers, the mainstream media and even our intelligence community are misleading the American people about the nature of the Islamic jihadist threat.

He descibes how they’re doing it, why they’re doing it and why it is so dangerous for America’s national security.

Click the link above to watch.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

Students Angry Over Pricey Courses Pepper-Sprayed

“Police at a California college pepper-sprayed as many as 30 demonstrators after students angry over a plan to offer high-priced courses tried to push their way into a trustees meeting, authorities said.

“Let us in, let us in,” protesters shouted on video posted online Tuesday. “No cuts, no fees, education should be free.”

Santa Monica College students were angry because only a handful were allowed into the meeting and, when their request to move the meeting to a larger venue was denied, they began to enter the room, said David Steinman, an environmental advocate.”

[Note from Egghead: Note that the students are using the Obama re-election talking point that higher education should be free — most especially for minorities and illegals!]

           — Hat tip: Egghead[Return to headlines]

UCLA Honors Sharia Apologist Khaled Abou El Fadl

by Cinnamon Stillwell and Judith Greblya

Academic self-congratulation reached new heights at the University of California, Los Angeles on March 21, 2012, with “An Event Honoring Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl.” Abou El Fadl-Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor in Islamic Law and chair of the Islamic Studies Interdepartmental Program at UCLA-was feted by the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies, the UCLA School of Law Journal of Near Eastern and Islamic Law, the UCLA School of Law Muslim Law Students Association, and the UCLA School of Law Critical Race Studies Program. Eighty students, professors, and community members gathered to commemorate “the world’s leading authority on Islamic law and Islam, and the prominent scholar in the field of human rights,” according to the event description. In reality, Fadl is an apologist for radical Islam who routinely denies valid concerns over the human rights abuses inherent to Sharia (Islamic) law while charging its critics with “Islamophobia.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

British ‘Extremists Caught Carrying Al Qaeda Manual 44 Ways to Support Jihad Were Fundraising for Somali Terrorists’

Two mean appeared at Westminster Magistrates court yesterday on charges relating to trying to fund terror groups in Somalia.

Cops swooped on the London home of father-of-three Mohammed Shabir Ali, 24, and his twin brother, Mohammed Shafiq Ali, where they discovered a copy of ‘44 Ways to Support Jihad’ by the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

The pair stand accused of raising cash in the UK to send to their brother Mohammed Shamim who it is believed travelled to Somalia in 2008 to carry out martyrdom atrocities.

Neither brother indicated pleas to the charges of possessing an article for use in terrorism and intending to assist another to commit acts of terrorism between August 20th, 2008, and June 21st last year.

The identical twins, both with shaven heads and small goatee beards, appeared at separate hearings at Westminster Magistrates court.

They were arrested last June when police seized the materials from their home in Stepney, but both were released without charge.

Counter terrorism cops, who had been examining the material, swooped at their home two days ago and arrested them.

Prosecutor Louise Gray said that they believed Ali and his brother had been discussing sending cash to their brother in Somalia that they raised through a ‘Dawah’ religious stall.

During Shabir Ali’s hearing she said that in 2008 Mohammed Shamim travelled with Tufaul Ahmed and Mohammad Jahangit to the Emirates, Nairobi and then Dubai where it is feared they travelled on to Somalia. Their return tickets have never been used.’

Ms Gray said: ‘It is believed he has gone to Somalia and is participating with insurgents out there.’

Unemployed Shabir Ali, who has three children — aged four, two and 18 months and lives with his wife and his mother, spoke only to confirm his name and address. He was supported at court by his wife and other family members, one of whom saluted him as he walked in.

Shafik Ali, who spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth, and was supported at court by his pregnant wife and her friend, along with two other supporters.

Mr Mian, who represents both men, argued that, when deciding on bail, the Judge should “stand back from the hysteria surrounding the phrase ‘terrorism’.

He said Shafik’s 19-year-old wife is two and a half months pregnant and need of his support as she has none from her own family.

He also said his clients were not accused of committing any further offences after they were released without charge followin the arrests in June.

But District Judge Caroline Tubbs remanded the pair in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on 20 April.

A Scotland Yard spokesman confirmed a 21 year old woman, and a 30 year old man remain in custody in relation to the offences and have not yet been charged.

           — Hat tip: MS[Return to headlines]

France Arrests 10 Suspected Islamists in Fresh Raids

Paris (CNN) — Ten suspected Islamists were arrested in fresh raids across France on Wednesday morning as the country widens a clampdown on suspected extremists in the wake of a deadly shooting spree last month, the interior ministry said.

Meanwhile, 13 alleged radicals arrested Friday were placed under formal investigation for “criminal conspiracy in connection with a terrorist enterprise,” and possession and transportation of weapons, officials said.

The formal warning is a point in the French legal system that comes after an arrest and before formal charges are filed.

Nine of the 13 have been jailed, including Forsane Alizza leader Mohamed Achamlane.

The other four were released Tuesday but remain “under judicial control,” according to Achamlane’s lawyer Philippe Missamou.

On Tuesday, a French prosecutor said the detained radical Muslims were preparing for holy war.

Forsane Alizza and Achamlane were “calling for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in France and calling for the implementation of Sharia law and inciting Muslims in France to unite for the preparation of a civil war,” Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said.

The group was reportedly linked to Mohammed Merah, who was accused of killing seven people in the south of France in March before police killed him after a 32-hour siege of his apartment in the southwestern city of Toulouse.

Molins said the investigation into Forsane Alizza began in October 2011, and the arrests were not connected to Merah’s rampage.

Achamlane “united around him a number of individuals who for several months had undergone physical training and received religious indoctrination in order to commit violent acts on French territory,” Molins told reporters Tuesday.

The radical leader was “known for his anti-Semitic stance and condemned for publicly violating French penal code,” the prosecutor said.

Members of his group held “discussions during a meeting held in Lyon in September 2011 about a plan to kidnap a judge based in Lyon,” he said.

But a lawyer for Achamlane rejected the accusations against his client, saying the arrests were related to France’s upcoming presidential election.

“These are statements that are not supported by any material facts. This affair is purely electioneering and politically motivated, that is all,” Philippe Missamou said on CNN affiliate BFM-TV.

Another of his lawyers, Benoit Poquet, released a statement denying any kidnapping plot.

Presidential contender Francois Hollande was asked by French radio station RTL Wednesday if he felt the rash of arrests was linked to the upcoming elections but declined to be drawn on the matter.

The Socialist candidate expressed some surprise, however, that the arrests were being carried out now, after the terror attack by Merah.

“I’m not questioning at all what is being done,” Hollande told RTL. “I’m simply saying that we should, or could, perhaps have done more sooner.”

The interior ministry announced Monday it had deported two Muslims and plans to expel three more.

A statement by Interior Minister Claude Gueant said the moves were part of “an acceleration of the deportation procedures of foreign Islamic radicals.”

An Islamic militant from Algeria who was involved in 1994 attacks in Marrakech, Morocco, was sent to his home country Monday, the statement said. In addition, a Malian imam was returned to his home country for sermons that promoted anti-Semitism and rejection of the West, it said.

Deportation proceedings also have started or are planned against three others: an imam of Saudi nationality, a militant Islamist from Tunisia and an imam from Turkey, the statement said.

Weapons ‘easily’ available in France It cited provisions in the law governing aliens and political asylum, saying the statutes “allow this type of decision with regards to the ‘urgent need for state security or public safety’ or ‘conduct likely to harm the fundamental interests of the state.’“

According to the statement, other expulsions will occur soon.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is running for re-election, said the raids were intended to “deny the entry of certain people to France” who did not share the country’s values.

“It’s not just linked to Toulouse. It’s all over the country. It’s in connection with a form of radical Islam, and it’s in agreement with the law,” he said.

Sarkozy suggested then that more raids would follow, saying, “There will be other operations that will continue and that will allow us to expel from our national territory a certain number of people who have no reason to be here.”

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

French Police Swoop on More Suspected Islamists

PARIS (Reuters) — Police arrested 10 suspected Islamist militants in dawn raids across France on Wednesday after a shooting spree by an al Qaeda-inspired gunman prompted President Nicolas Sarkozy to order a security clampdown, just ahead of an April 22 election.

The DCRI domestic intelligence service, supported by elite police commandos, carried out arrests in the southern cities of Marseille and Valence, two smaller towns in the southwest, and in the northeastern town of Roubaix, a police source said.

Interior Minister Claude Gueant pledged there would be no respite in France’s pursuit of militants.

“The pressure on radical Islam and the threats it represents will not stop,” he said.

The raids, which followed Friday’s arrest of 19 suspects, came 13 days after police snipers shot dead 23-year-old gunman Mohamed Merah, who had killed three Jewish school children, a rabbi and three soldiers in a spate of attacks around Toulouse.

“Those arrested have a similar profile to Mohamed Merah,” a local police source said. “They are isolated individuals who are self-radicalized.”

He said the suspects were tracked on Islamist forums expressing extreme views and were preparing to travel to areas including Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Sahel belt of West Africa to wage jihad (holy war). Some of those arrested had already visited these areas, the source said.

Sarkozy, who faces an uphill task to win re-election in an April-May two-round vote, has vowed to root out any form of militancy following Merah’s killing spree.

Television channels showed images of the early morning raids, with police taking suspects away handcuffed and with their faces covered. Officials also confiscated bags.

Some French media had been tipped off about the raids and police did not cordon off the areas ensuring mass coverage.

Sarkozy Rising

The Toulouse killings lifted domestic security up the political agenda 2-1/2 weeks before the April 22 first-round vote and may have improved Sarkozy’s odds against Socialist Francois Hollande, who he trails in polls for the May 6 runoff.

Sarkozy, a former hardline interior minister, has been accused by some opponents of capitalizing on the Islamist threat for electoral purposes even though only 20 percent of voters consider it their main concern, surveys show.

Centrist election candidate Francois Bayrou accused the government of using the situation for its own political ends.

“It’s fine that the state fulfills its responsibility by controlling and banning gatherings or suspected groups,” he told i-Tele television. “But I find it surprising that it takes place in front of journalists who have been asked to come.”

Speaking on RTL radio, Hollande declined to be drawn on whether he thought the raids were politically driven.

“If there are suspicions and risks, then they must be acted upon,” Hollande said. “But why do it after a terrorist act? I am not questioning what is being done, but maybe we could have done more before,” he said.

Thirteen of the 19 people arrested last Friday are alleged to have links to radical French Islamist group Forsane Alizza (Knights of Pride). They are being investigated on suspicion of terrorism, the Paris public prosecutor said on Tuesday.

Wednesday’s raids were not directly linked to either those arrests or the Merah attacks, the source said.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Germany: Hitler: A Short Biography [Book Review]

by Richard J Evans

It’s hard to think why a publishing house that once had a respected history list agreed to produce this travesty of a biography.

Hitler: a Short Biography

A N Wilson

Harper Press, 224pp, £7.99

Following the success of his Booker Prize-longlisted novel Winnie and Wolf, a fictional account of the relationship between Hitler and the British-born wife of Siegfried Wagner, the composer’s son, A N Wilson has decided to publish a short biography of the German dictator. As writers of historical fiction do, he read a handful of English-language biographies and histories for his novel (he doesn’t appear to understand German) but he has added little or no further reading for this biography. What might do as background research for a novel won’t do as preparation for a serious work of history. Nor does he seem to have thought very hard or taken much care over what little reading he has done.


It’s hard to think why a publishing house that once had a respected history list agreed to produce this travesty of a biography. Perhaps the combination of a well-known author and a marketable subject was too tempting for cynical executives to resist. Novelists (notably Mann) and literary scholars (such as J P Stern) have sometimes managed to use a novel angle of approach to say something new and provocative about Hitler, the Nazis and the German people. However, there is no evidence of that here, neither in the stale, unoriginal material, nor in the banal and cliché-ridden historical judgements, nor in the lame, tired narrative style; just evidence of the repellent arrogance of a man who thinks that because he’s a celebrated novelist, he can write a book about Hitler that people should read, even though he’s put very little work into writing it and even less thought.

Richard J Evans is the author of “The Third Reich at War” (Penguin, £12.99)

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Germany: We’re Good Europeans Yet They All Hate Us

by Christopher Caldwell

Once again, Europe has a country at its centre that is too big for its neighbours. Merely by keeping on its best behaviour, Germany has managed to reawaken the historic “German problem”. It has succeeded its way into a crisis. Ever since Greece’s finances became a matter of public concern just over two years ago, Germany has been regaining its status as the leading power in Europe. It subjected itself almost a decade ago to a painful reform of its welfare state and a freeze in real wages that has made it as competitive an exporter as any country in the world, including China.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Norway Killer — ‘Insane’ Diagnosis “Worse Than Death”

OSLO (Reuters) — A far-right militant who killed 77 people in Norway last year will use his trial to challenge a diagnosis that he is criminally insane, something that would be “worse than death”, excerpts of a letter he wrote showed on Wednesday.

The trial of Anders Behring Breivik, who gunned down 69 at a Labour Party youth camp after detonating a car bomb in central Oslo that killed eight, starts in Oslo on April 16.

In November two court-appointed psychiatrists deemed the 33-year-old was psychotic and paranoid schizophrenic at the time of the attacks, which would normally mean he could not be sentenced to prison.


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Global Emerging Markets: A Promising FutureRequest FREE CopyIn a 38-page letter he wrote in jail and sent to various Norwegian media — of which extracts were published in the daily VG on Wednesday — Breivik said that being deemed criminally insane was unbearable to him.

“I must admit this is the worst thing that could have happened to me as it is the ultimate humiliation,” he wrote.

“To send a political activist to a mental hospital is more sadistic and evil than to kill him! It is a fate worse than death.”

Breivik has said he committed the attacks on July 22 last year to protect Norway from multiculturalism. They were the worst outbreak of violence there since the end of World War Two.

“I knew of course what was right and what was wrong, but I acted instinctively,” Breivik wrote in the letter.

He criticised the two psychiatrists, Torgeir Husby and Synne Soerheim, as unable to be objective.

“Husby said on several occasions that what I had done was bestial and I got the impression from him that he saw me as a wild animal that had to be locked in and drugged at whatever cost.”

“Has an event that has traumatised a nation also traumatised Husby and Soerheim to such an extent that they must be regarded as having a conflict of interest? Can two court-appointed psychiatrists that are so emotionally affected by July 22 mean that they are not able to be objective?”

After a public outcry following the publication of the first psychiatric report, the judges in the case have asked for another evaluation of Breivik’s mental health by different experts. That is due to be published on Tuesday.

Breivik will stand trial, in a case expected to last ten weeks, regardless of the psychiatrists’ assessments.

If his judges rule at the end of the trial that he is psychotic he is likely to be placed in a high-security psychiatric unit. If not, he would face up to 21 years in prison but could be held longer if deemed too dangerous to be released.

Breivik’s lawyer has said he would call defence witnesses to show his client was not criminally insane but held views shared by others.

Among those witnesses are Mullah Krekar, the Kurdish founder of Islamist group Ansar al-Islam, who was recently jailed in Norway for making death threats, and “Fjordman”, a Norwegian right-wing blogger whom Oslo police say was a major intellectual influence on Breivik’s.

Fjordman, whose real name is Peder Jensen, has denied having any links with Breivik.

           — Hat tip: The EDL[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Child Sex Victims Were Prostitutes With Enough Business Acumen to Win the Apprentice’, Man at Centre of Sex Gang Trial Tells Court

A man at the centre of a child sexual exploitation trial today accused some of his alleged victims of being ‘prostitutes’ with enough business acumen to ‘win The Apprentice’.

Eleven men are on trial at Liverpool Crown Court charged with conspiring to engage children in sexual activity.

Today the first of the defendants took to the witness box to deny the charges, which he dismissed as ‘lies’ and ‘rubbish’.

He also accused one girl of being a racist who believed ‘whites were a superior race’.

The 59-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted having a prolonged sexual relationship with one girl who is alleged to have conspired with the men to exploit other young girls.

But he said he believed she was 18 and was a prostitute.

When asked about the alleged victims in the case the man said: ‘They were clever girls. They had a business empire which extended to Leeds, Nelson, Bradford.

‘If they went on to Sugar’s programme they would probably win The Apprentice. They did very well.’

The defendant, who is balding and was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, shocked the court when asked a question about how one of the victims could describe his naked body.

He quickly stood up and took off his light blue sweat shirt to reveal his naked torso.

He said: ‘She would have seen this,’ referring to his hairy body and back, which he claims she did not tell the police about.

The man then threw a clump of chest hair on the floor and said: ‘I only have to walk past someone to leave hairs on them.’

He told the court that one girl in particular used to cause problems and ‘corrupted’ the other girls who would hang around in a large group.

‘She never used to hide the fact that white was superior to any other race.

‘The other girls were much much better…she sort of infected them, corrupted them as well.’

The man described the girl as a ‘bone in a kebab’ and added: ‘I can smell a pig and I can smell abuse when it’s being thrown at me.’

He also said of the alleged victim: ‘Anybody who wanted to try to have sex with (her), they would have sex with her.

‘I have never had sex with her. There’s a price on her.

‘Anybody who pays has sex with her.’

The court heard that the man was separated from his wife in 2000 and had grown-up children.

He told the court he had ‘needs’, which is why he had a relationship with one of the girls connected to the case.

When asked if he had been involved in a conspiracy he responded: ‘It’s all white lies.’

He then accused the police of arresting the wrong people and added: ‘Shame on the police.’

He accused them of letting an ‘illegal immigrant get away’, adding: ‘For all I know he could have been al Qaeda’.

Eleven men are on trial charged with conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with children under the age of 16. The prosecution say they plied girls as young as 13 with drink and drugs so they could “pass them around” and use them for sex.

Five girls from broken homes are said to have been ‘shared’ by Kabeer Hassan, Abdul Aziz, Abdul Rauf, Mohammed Sajid, Adil Khan, Abdul Qayyum, Mohammed Amin, Qamar Shahzad, Liaquat Shah, Hamid Safi and a 59-year-old man who cannot be named for legal reasons.

All deny the charges and are all from the Rochdale and Oldham areas of Greater Manchester.

The trial continues.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: British Muslims Transcending Differences

LONDON: Can love really bring people together, crossing boundaries and breaking down barriers? It sounds like the stuff of fairy tales and movies, but recently in a little corner of London that’s exactly what happened. In a trendy Indian restaurant that used to be a pub, people of different faiths and backgrounds got together for a meal to celebrate that crazy little thing called love. The event was organized by the Islamic Society of Britain in partnership with the Christian Muslim Forum to launch the start of the 19th Islam Awareness Week, which ran from March 12-18, 2012. Every year for the past 19 years, Islam Awareness Week has been an opportunity for people across Great Britain to meet, eat, listen and understand each other better. Organizers of the week pick a theme that is of common interest to people of all faiths, such as looking after our neighbors, celebrating the best of Britain or remembering our common heritage. This year the theme was all about love. At the launch event in London, Jewish, Christian and Muslim speakers explained the centrality of love in their religious teachings. In the Jewish tradition, the world stands on three things: Torah (law), (worship) and Gemilut chasadim (acts of loving kindness). Jesus taught his followers to love God and your neighbour as yourself. In Islam, love is at the heart of the religion, it is the basis of one’s relationship with God and the bedrock of relationships with other human beings and all God has created.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Blackburn Woman Jailed for Posing as PC on Facebook

JAILED Sahrish Idris set up a fake Facebook page A WOMAN took on the identity of a police officer she knew to send abusive and racist e-mails on Facebook.

Sahrish Idris, of Blackburn, targeted PC Zoe Brown by using a Facebook account set up in her name.

She also posted messages from another police officer, PC Michelle Moffat, during her campaign of harassment.

One message allegedly sent by the officer referred to Idris as a “P*** bitch” and threatened to arrest her.

Blackburn Magistrates Court heard that PC Moffat could have been sacked if it had been believed she was the real author of the message.

Idris, of Cedar Street, was known to the two officers individually as they had been involved in incidents when she had run away from home as a teenager.

The 20-year-old was jailed for 12 weeks after she pleaded guilty to harassing PC Brown and harassing PC Michelle Moffat by sending a Facebook friend request from a false account, sending messages from the same account, sending an abusive e-mail and making a false allegation about her to her supervisor.

She was also ordered to serve a further eight weeks for being in breach of a suspended prison sentence and made the subject of a three year restraining order stopping her from having contact with either officer.

Catherine Allan, prosecuting, said there had been a number of messages on the bogus account which was eventually closed by Facebook.

One of the messages included the racist slur allegedly made by PC Moffat.

“PC Moffat did not send that message,” said Miss Allan.

“The two officers bumped into each other one day and PC Moffat mentioned the Facebook account. It soon became apparent PC Brown did not have an account.

“As a result of the defendant’s action PC Moffat was worried about her job and PC Brown was concerned because she felt Idris had accessed her private life.”

Angela Rossi, defending, said Idris mistakenly believed she had been sent a racist message by one of the officers.

“She accepts she responded inappropriately and while she didn’t set up the Facebook account she was involved,” said Miss Rossi.

“She is now aware of the implications there could have been for the officers involved.”

Sentencing Idris District Judge Peter Ward said the messages purporting to come from one or other of the officers were totally bogus.

“The nature of the messages was such that if they had been believed the officers would have been at risk of losing their jobs,” he said.

           — Hat tip: The EDL[Return to headlines]

UK: Croydon Mosque Unveils Extension Plans for London Road Site

CROYDON Mosque and Islamic Centre has unveiled expansion plans for a “green” four-storey extension, to be used as a women and children’s centre. The plan for the centre’s site in Dunheved Road includes an 18-metre minaret to in front of the mosque in London Road. The steel structure that already standson the site will be pulled down, due to changes in the building’s design. While the main purpose of the extension is to provide a new prayer area for women, the ground floor will offer a wheelchair accessible wudu washing area for men.

The new building will also increase the mosque’s capacity from about 3,700 to 4,000, reflecting the growth of Croydon’s Muslim community since the centre was built in the 1980s.

Members of the mosque have donated around £500,000 to fund the project.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Conservatives Will Not Win Election Without More Focus on Minority Voters, Says Baroness Warsi

The Conservatives will not win the next election unless they appeal more to black and Asian voters, Baroness Warsi, the party’s co-chairman, has warned.

The peer’s intervention comes after George Galloway swept to victory as the new MP in Bradford West by courting Muslim voters, overturning four decades of Labour control over the seat. According the New Statesman, Baroness Warsi told a meeting of MPs: “[U]nless and until campaigning with BME [black and minority-ethnic] communities is institutionalised and embedded in every aspect of what we do as a political party, we cannot win an overall majority in 2015.” Baroness Warsi, the party’s most senior Muslim, has also recently expressed worries that religious voters are being alienated by a tide of “militant secularisation”. She warned that religion is being “sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere”.

The Conservative Party has been facing calls to replace Baroness Warsi and her co-chairman Lord Feldman with a senior MP, following the “cash-for-access” scandal involving the party’s fundraising operations. Baroness Warsi had no involvement in the incident, in which Peter Cruddas, the party’s co-treasurer, was filmed boasting that big donors could have dinner in Downing Street and influence policy. However, senior Conservatives are understood to want a firmer, more experienced pair of hands at the top of the party than the current co-chairmen, who are relatively new peers.

[JP note: Why vote Tory when you can have the real McCoy in Labour?]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: George’s Tongue-Lashing: Third Wife (And Mother of His New Baby) Says They’re Still Wed, Then His Mother-in-Law Warns He’ll Only Marry Someone Else Next Year

George Galloway’s fourth marriage was off to a rocky start yesterday — after his third wife declared he was still wed to her.

In a bitter verbal assault, Rima Husseini, who gave birth to their second son only four months ago, hit out at the 57-year-old politician’s ‘morals’.

The Lebanese researcher said: ‘We are still married under Islamic law. There is a misconception you can have up to four wives in Islam — but it’s just not true in the 21st century.

‘It may have been the case hundreds of years ago as a way of looking after women in the villages who had lost their husbands, but it doesn’t exist now.

‘It’s just a stupid, man-made thing in some Arab countries. It’s not true. Under Islamic law we remain married.’

The Respect MP’s third wife, speaking outside the West London home she shares with their two young children, added: ‘Under English law, he hasn’t done anything illegal. But morally, it’s a different story.

I have been asking for a divorce, but he has been refusing me one for months. To this day he refuses to grant me a divorce.

‘He came this morning to pick up his son and we spoke.’

Mr Galloway also received ‘both barrels’ from Miss Husseini’s mother.

She said her daughter was ‘better off’ without the newly-elected MP for Bradford West, after it was revealed he had married for a fourth time.

The politician showed no remorse yesterday as he winked and boasted about being ‘up all night’ with his latest bride — 27 year-old Dutch-Indonesian Putri Gayatri Pertiwi.

The Mail revealed yesterday how Mr Galloway flew to Amsterdam hours after winning the Bradford West by-election and then married Miss Pertiwi in a Dutch hotel on Saturday.

Few details of the service have been revealed.

Yesterday he posed for pictures outside his £1.4million home in Streatham, South London, alongside his research consultant fourth wife, who is 30 years his junior.

However, just four months ago Miss Husseini, 41, who also worked as his researcher, gave birth to their second son Faris.

The couple had married in a Muslim ceremony in 2007 and have an older son called Zein, aged four.

Yesterday Miss Husseini’s Lebanese family branded the MP a womaniser and claimed his latest union might not last very long.

Her mother Maha said: ‘Next year he will have another wife.’

Referring to all the publicity about his marriages, she added that at least they would know about his past.

Speaking about how her daughter might feel, she said: ‘Ask yourself if you would be angry. Maybe she is better off like that.’

She went on: ‘Rima is only bothered about the children. Of course he sees the children I think. I don’t ask her a lot.’

In the past, father of three Mr Galloway, a Roman Catholic, has claimed that he speaks to his children and grandchildren ‘every day’.

Yesterday morning Mr Galloway mischievously claimed he had been ‘up all night’ — but picking candidates for Bradford city council elections. ‘I was heavily involved, and was up until 2.45am precisely,’ he explained.

He then winked and added: ‘By the Grace of God I am — to coin a phrase — indefatigable.’

Mr Galloway caused outrage in 1994, three years after the Gulf War, when he met Saddam Hussein and was filmed telling the dictator that he praised his ‘strength, courage and indefatigability.’

Yesterday, Mr Galloway — nicknamed Gorgeous George — was less than forthcoming when asked to discuss the attributes of his fourth wife.

He told reporters: ‘Why would I want to discuss my personal life?’ before adding that he would ‘stand here all day and talk politics’.

Miss Pertiwi — a Muslim anthropologist and child rights specialist — studied cultural anthropology at the University of Utrecht before taking a Master’s degree at Amsterdam University.

On one of her blogs she revealed that her parents emigrated to the Netherlands at a young age from Indonesia and had three children.

Between 1979 and 1999 Mr Galloway was married to his former teenage sweetheart, Elaine Fyffe. The couple separated in 1987 but did not divorce for 12 years.

The politician took Dr Amineh Abu-Zayyad, a Palestinian scientist, as a second wife in a Muslim ceremony in 1994.

A year after his divorce from Miss Fyffe in 1999, he married Dr Abu-Zayyad in a civil ceremony in Lambeth.

In 2009 Dr Abu-Zayyad obtained an uncontested divorce citing unreasonable behaviour.

Mr Galloway then married his third wife Rima in a Muslim ceremony in 2007.

           — Hat tip: CJ[Return to headlines]

UK: Leaders Who Lead to Surrender

by Melanie Phillips

Readers of the Jerusalem Post have doubtless been bemused by a rumbling controversy over whether or not the Anglo-Jewish leadership comprises what Isi Leibler derided as “trembling Israelites”. Leibler suggested that both the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council were in denial over the UK’s dramatic upsurge in anti-Israel feeling. In particular, they understated the threat of Muslim antisemitism and jihadism, and continuously issued statements warning of the dangers of Islamophobia which paled beside the violence and threats levelled against Jews. Leibler was accused of misrepresenting the situation. What happened to Brooke Goldstein, however, suggests he is nearer to the truth. Leeds JSoc invited Goldstein, a US lawyer who fights Islamic extremism and defends Israel, to deliver a talk at about the stifling of free speech on the Middle East. The JSoc then abruptly cancelled her talk — on the grounds that it would jeopardise community relations and endanger the welfare of Leeds students.

Why was Goldstein considered a menace? Apparently because she is a supporter of the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, had linked to an article about him on a website called Gates of Vienna, and a member of her staff had blogged about a film entitled The Third Jihad. Such reasoning shows how deeply political correctness has warped the judgment of these students. Wilders has been demonised because he stands resolutely against the Islamist aim of conquering the west — and because he thinks the Koran incites hatred and violence against Jews and “infidels”. Does Leeds JSoc not think this incitement endangers Jewish students? Gates of Vienna is an anti-Islamist site that has provided a platform for some ultra-nationalists. Goldstein says her organisation merely linked to one article. This tars her as a dangerous extremist? As for The Third Jihad, I know this is an important film — narrated by a Muslim — which charts the nature and extent of Islamist aggression and the inroads this has been allowed to make in the west. Yet this film has been smeared by the usual combination of Islamists and their western apologists.

I have a particular interest in this smear because I, too, am interviewed in this film. I, too, could thus be pilloried as an “anti-Muslim extremist” — and I’m afraid to say there are members of the UK Jewish community who already do that. This derives from the confusion among much of the leadership, which seems to believe that to identify the threat from Islamic religious extremism is “Islamophobic”. Indeed, a number of communal worthies wrote to the JC attacking it for “criticising and embarrassing” Leeds JSoc instead of “supporting” and “thanking” it. Thanking it for what? For its “resolve” in repudiating the principle of free speech on campus? For “improving Jewish student life” by smearing those who fight Islamic religious fascism, thus effectively whitewashing the virulent Jew-hatred pouring out of the Muslim world? For “acting in the best interests of their members” by turning on a lawyer who would help them defend themselves against anti-Jewish attacks? The fact that this morally bankrupt act by Leeds JSoc has been supported by UJS and so many in Jewish leadership suggests that these leaders don’t understand who are the true friends of the Jews. “Trembling Israelites” isn’t the half of it. These Anglos are not so much “trembling” as leading the surrender to the enemies of the Jews — and thus indirectly encouraging them to redouble their attacks. British Jews should indeed be trembling at being thus abandoned by those who speak in their name.

Melanie Phillips is a Daily Mail columnist

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: No One Saw it Coming

by Salma Yaqoob

What does Galloway’s victory tell us about British politics?

Anybody wanting to follow the Bradford West result unfold was forced to rely on Twitter as journalists and politicians alike were caught unawares by the political earthquake about to take place. But Respect supporters on the ground had been predicting for the last fortnight that a shock was in the air. And for one simple reason; people are disillusioned with austerity and war, they are disillusioned with being taken for granted, and when presented with positive coherent political alternatives, they respond with enthusiasm.

Bradford is mired in unemployment and stagnation. Its voters don’t think they are “in it together” with the Tories and their millionaire donors. Quite the opposite. Respect’s solution on the doorstep was to argue that we need investment not cuts in order to re-energise our economy and create the growth to deliver jobs. This is not some loony-left pipe dream; it is the experience of the American economy where old fashioned Keynesian intervention is driving down unemployment while discredited Thatcherite neo-liberalism drives it up here. When the voters of Bradford West heard that argument put confidently and coherently, albeit with an eloquence that only George Galloway can summon, they responded warmly to it. Surely that is the real lesson for Ed Milliband to draw from this result.

The other lesson is that huge numbers of people are disillusioned with British politicans sending our troops to occupy other people’s countries. When George said that the two soldiers killed by their Afghan comrade had “died in vain”, he spoke for many people in Bradford and beyond whose views on the war are rarely if ever reflected by mainstream politicians.

Finally, the Respect vote is a call for change to the ossified political structure in Bradford. People are tired of being taken for granted. The Guardianwas the only paper to pick up on the specific way that frustration expresses itself within the Muslim community where the Labour party have for generations relied on and reinforced the corrupting influence of “Braderi” — clan networks — that so disfigures South Asian politics. The fact that Respect won in every ward in the constituency, and won by a massive 10,000 majority, testifies that that disillusionment goes way beyond the Muslim community. In the predominately white, middle-class ward of Clayton approximately 900 votes were cast for Respect compared to 40 for Labour. The resounding mandate also testifies to the unifying message of Respect which addressed the roots of disillusionment and challenges the scourges of neglect and scapegoating.

For me, the most exciting and inspiring aspect of the election was the sight of hundreds of young people and women throwing themselves into the political process. They were galvanised by a man who stands by his principles and tells it straight. A wave became a tsunami, very quickly overwhelming anything that has gone before. People poured out into the streets to exclaim support: an unusual sight in politics where canvassers usually try to cajole some interest. Very large numbers of voters in Bradford West clearly like George Galloway’s distinctive message and style. They are not alone.

Salma Yaqoob is the leader of the Respect Party

[Reader comment by RSS (not verified) on Wednesday, 4 April 2012 at 06:57.]

George Galloway talked a great deal about Iraq, Palestine and Kashmir: forced marriage and the disappearance of many a young Bradford girl never got a mention. Galloway insulted Labour’s candidate saying he wasn’t a true Muslim and implied he drank beer; most in Bradford do!! I would just like to ask George what as Iraq, Palestine and Kashmir have to with youth unemployment in Bradford? Many are either delusional or stark raving mad if they honestly think George Galloway would be elected outside his usual confines. I will agree: most are crying out for an alternative to Labour and the Tories, but most aren’t crying out for Galloway and the Religious lunatic fringe which this political opportunist represents. Respect is a Jihadist front. The awful truth is most outside Bradford just associate Bradford West for been the locality many of the 7/7 bombers spent an awful lot of time.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Why the Odds Are Against a Tory Majority

by Mehdi Hasan

Despite losing at the last election, Labour continues to have the bigger pool of potential voters.

Whisper it quietly, but the Tories won’t win the next election. I say this not because of George Osborne’s slashing of taxes on his rich chums — a move described by David Cameron’s former speechwriter as “a basic blunder that sends a missile into six years of Tory modernisation” — nor because of the fallout from the “cash-for-Cameron” debacle. I say it because, despite what the Tory-supporting press might have us believe, this isn’t a Conservative country. Listen to the verdict of Tim Montgomerie, the plain-speaking editor of the ConservativeHome website. “Four numbers should haunt every Tory: 31 per cent, 32 per cent, 32 per cent and 36 per cent — the percentages of the vote that the party won at the last four elections,” he wrote on 20 March, noting how there “may be a Conservative prime minister but the Tory brand remains weak”. It has been 20 years since the Tories last won a Commons majority and, despite losing at the last election, Labour continues to have the bigger pool of potential voters. A recent YouGov poll found that only 30 per cent of the public says it would “never” vote Labour compared to 42 per cent for the Conservatives. The Tory brand isn’t just “weak”, it’s toxic.


Amusingly, someone who has greater confidence in Miliband’s electoral prospects than most shadow cabinet ministers is Michael Ashcroft, the Tories’ former deputy chairman. “Expanding the Conservative voting coalition to the point where it will elect a majority Conservative government is a strategic challenge for Mr Cameron,” Ashcroft observed last May, adding: “First, he must hold together those who voted in 2010 . . . Just as important, he must attract new voters in substantial numbers.” But where will these voters come from? The three key groups that Cameron failed to charm in 2010 — public-sector workers, Scots and ethnic minorities — will, after five painful years of austerity, have even fewer reasons to vote Conservative in 2015. I’m told the PM is desperate to hire a new adviser on “BME” issues; the Tory chair, Sayeeda Warsi, can’t win over black and minority-ethnic voters on her own.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

We Salute Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi

Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradawi is undoubtedly one of the most knowledgeable living Muslim religious scholars in the world today. He is the author of dozens of books on all aspects of Sharia and Islamic thinking and philosophy. At 85, he continues to enrich the world with his brilliance, sagacity and thoughtfulness. His televised weekly show “Asharia wal-Haia” is a real gem and food for thought for both the educated and commoners as well as for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Dr. Qaradawi, who has long been imprisoned, persecuted and harassed by tyrannical Arab regimes, including the regimes of Gamal Abdul Nasser, Anwar al-Sadat and especially Husni Mubarak, played a vital and pivotal role in inspiring the Arab Spring. He continues to issue inspiring calls to Muslim people struggling for freedom, dignity and democracy in various parts of the world.

In recent weeks, the Sheikh has been under fire from several quarters, including, the French government, some Shiite and pro-Iranian circles, a United Arab Emirates security chief and the Wakf minister of the Palestinian autonomous authority. The Sheikh, like all of us mortals, is not infallible. He doesn’t claim to be infallible or perfect. However, there is no iota of doubt that he stands on a higher moral ground, especially when compared to his critics, whose main credentials range from ignorance to mendacity. Let us begin with the recent tirade launched against the Sheikh by the Palestinian Authority’s minister of Wakf and Islamic affairs who called the Sheikh during a Friday sermon “divisive and sowing discord.”

The verbal abuse against al-Qaradawi came after the eminent scholar issued a fatwa or edict ruling that it is not permissible for non-Palestinian Muslims to visit occupied Jerusalem lest such visits contribute to normalizing relations between Israel and the Muslim world.

Qaradawi argued that “why should we have Muslims from all over the world visit Jerusalem when Palestinian Muslims living in the vicinity of al-Aqsa mosque in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are barred from accessing the holy city by the Israeli occupation authorities. The Sheikh argued that “we should not break the psychological barriers between Muslims and the Zionist entity. They are our enemies and we shouldn’t normalize relations with them.” The Sheikh’s words are axiomatically veracious because, in the final analysis, recurrent visits by Muslims to a Jerusalem that is thoroughly fettered by the Israeli occupation and raped by it would have a definitive normalizing effect. The visit might, at least subconsciously, convince some visiting Muslims, especially from faraway Muslim countries, that the situation is not that intolerable and that a certain modus vivendi with Israel could be preferable to an all-out Muslim effort to liberate the city from the Zionist-Jewish stranglehold.

Jerusalem and Palestine will not be helped, let alone liberated, by a few thousand disoriented Muslim tourists who would spend a few hours in the holy city watching the first Qibla of Islam being raped, molested and moaning of pain. Besides, these so-called tourists would soon return to Tel Aviv to slowly experience life in the only true democracy in the Middle East, not knowing that every town, village or Kibbutz they encounter while traveling through “Israel” was established on the ruins of an Arab town, village or hamlet. I am not opposed to communication between individuals and nations. But Israel is not a normal nation. It has never been a normal nation. The truth of the matter is that Israel is a crime against humanity. It was founded on the basis of ethnic cleansing, mass murder and lies. It massacred our people, destroyed our homes and villages, and then expelled millions to the four winds. Muslims must never ever normalize relations with an entity as such. We must not commit fornication with our Muslim honor and dignity by kissing the hands of our tormentors and grave-diggers.

Yes, Palestine is occupied by Zionist Jews who have amassed an overwhelming power and have at their beck and call power nations, such as the United States. But so what? Where is the Roman Empire, where is the British Empire? Where is Napoleon Bonaparte? Where is the Soviet Union? Where is Adolph Hitler? I have no doubt that Israel is an artificial entity that won’t be able to withstand the test of history. It is an entity that is bereft of justice, morality and humanity. It is a brat, as ugly as the objective historical circumstances that gave birth to it. It will have to go; it will go.

As to the unrelenting campaign of vilification, insinuation and smear by some pro-Iranian circles against Sheikh Qaradawi for siding with the victims of oppression, tyranny and sectarianism in countries such as Syria, there is no doubt that the Iranian attitude is indefensible, morally scandalous and decidedly un-Islamic to say the least. What is Qaradawi, who consistently supported a constructive Sunni-Shiite dialogue based on mutual respect and Islamic authenticity, supposed to do when he, like hundreds of millions of Muslims and non-Muslims around the world, watch thousands of children and civilians being mercilessly killed by a Nazi-like regime in order to keep his sect in power? Is he supposed to pretend that the massacres are happening on a different planet? Is he supposed to consign his honesty and rectitude to indefinite dormancy or hibernation?

Qaradawi, like many Sunni Muslims, supported Iran during confrontations with the West. He is not making a favor to Iran for doing so; he is only doing his religious Muslim duty.

But Iran and her mainly sectarian allies and supporters are going too far. Because a Yazid who is nominally Shiite is no lesser evil than a Sunni Yazid. A genocide doesn’t become benign when it is perpetrated by Shiites. More to the point, some Shiite circles are effectively justifying the abominable sectarian genocide in Syria by invoking the Palestinian struggle. Well, since when the just Palestinian cause justified murderous repression of Arab people by their regimes? We Palestinians refuse to see our cause being manipulated this way. We reject repression and mass murder in Palestine’s name.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

In the Shadow of the Sword by Tom Holland: Review

by Michael Scott

Tom Holland’s ‘In the Shadow of the Sword’ is an ambitious attempt to unearth the roots of Islam

Readers may be familiar with the fundamental changes that took place in the Roman world as it converted from paganism to Christianity in the fourth century, and as its emperors sought to govern, through the turbulent times of the fifth to seventh centuries, as Christian rulers. This is the stuff of late antiquity as it would be recognised in any classics or history university department. It is, as Tom Holland points out in the opening pages of his latest book, a period of fundamental importance for the shape of our world, as it is the era in which religious monotheism, rather than political kingdom, comes to dominate history.

In that context, Holland focuses on the birth of Islam through the prophet Mohammed in Mecca and Medina (modern-day Saudi Arabia) during the course of the seventh century, as it is told to us by one of Mohammed’s biographers, Ibn Hisham, in the ninth century. The faith of Islam, as Holland points out, is centred on the study and strict observation of both the divine revelations to Mohammed (the Koran), and how Mohammed acted during his lifetime (the Hadith and the Sunna). Yet, echoing what many (mostly non-Muslim) scholars have queried before, Holland points to the historical problem of the evidence: before 800AD, almost 200 years after Mohammed’s death in 632AD, the only “traces we possess” for the development of Islam “are either the barest shreds of shreds, or else the delusory shimmering of mirages”. The task Holland sets himself is to ask what can be done about that gap. His answer is to approach it from the opposite direction: to approach the origins of Islam from its recent past, from the world of fifth to seventh century late antiquity. “Is it possible,” he asks, “that Islam, far from originating outside the mainstream of ancient civilisation, was in truth a religion in the grand tradition of Judaism and Christianity — one bred of the very marrow of late antiquity?”

Holland examines late antiquity not as an age of decline and fall, but of energy and inventiveness, setting the Arab world and Mohammed’s life in the context of the changing geographies, cultures and priorities of the empires of Rome around the Mediterranean, the Sassanians to the East, and the religious and cultural melting-pot of the “Holy Land”, which connected them. Holland identifies key events, places, ideas and decisions within the Persian and Roman systems which may have impacted upon the Arab world, and, in turn, on the birthplace of Islam in Mecca and Medina. In so doing, Holland argues for the forging of Islam in the political and military instability and opportunity of a world convulsed by a changing balance of power. The process, he continues, ensured that, by the ninth century, “a version of Islam’s beginnings that gave no scope for anyone to rule as a Deputy of God”, and in turn no room “for acknowledging the momentous role in the forging of Islam by countless others”, had gained acceptance, the continued presence of which, inevitably, makes Holland’s thesis difficult reading for an Islamic audience.

Focusing on the wider context to unpick key moments in history is a classic Holland approach, echoing, for example, his study of the fifth century BC Persian invasion of Greece in Persian Fire (2005), which explored the context and prior history of the Persian and Greek worlds. Such an approach is now in vogue, because it demands that the historian break the often stifling disciplinary boundaries that have traditionally governed the study of worlds which knew no such boundaries. This is a handsome volume, tackling an important question from a novel perspective, backed by useful notes and written in an accessible and fluid style. But, as I am sure Holland would accept, in part because of the charged nature of the material and issues on which it dwells, and in part because of the vast developments and arenas it attempts to encompass, it is also bound to encounter the full spectrum of critical reaction.

In the Shadow of the Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World

Tom Holland

Little, Brown, £25, 526pp

[Reader comment by bigdaniel on 3 April 2012 at 10:34 am.]

Well it certainly sounds like a rather more robust and honest approach compared to the rather saccharine and partial approaches we are usually offered by popular Western writers on the topic of the origins of Islam. Of course, if The Koran is supposed to be the unchanging Word of Allah as conveyed to Mohammed, then it would be impossible for many Muslims to take on board an approach which suggests rather more prolonged and diverse origins for Islam.?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Iran: Grand Ayatollah Nour: “Islamic Rules Are Based on Fairness”

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — “Islamic rules and instructions are based on fairness and justice,” said the Iranian Grand Ayatollah Hussein Nouri Hamedani. In visit with Head of the Islamic Azad Univerity, Farhad Daneshjou, the grand Ayatollah clarified the role and place of education in the religion of Islam. “Islam eschews Muslims to be ignorant and underscores the role of science in the society,” said the senior cleric. Qom seminary instructor underlined, “It is incumbent upon each of us to diagnose the needs of society and make all-out effort for obviating them.” Ayatollah Nouri Hamedani touted efforts made during these years by authorities of the university stating that Azad University trained deserved people and citizen for the society. “At this time lessons taught at universities are based on secularism, but the officials responsible in this realm should take the cognizance of Islamic teachings and Islamized lessons and units covered at universities and other educational milieu,” said the grand Ayatollah. The Islamic scholar underlined that the hows and whats of the educational programmed should be adapted with Islamic school and believes.

[JP note: gibberish.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Mamata Doles Out Sops to Muslims

KOLKATA — Raising the pitch for next year’s panchayat elections in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday announced pro-minority sops including a monthly honorarium for mosque imams. “The government wants to give a monthly honorarium of Rs2,500 to imams of the state which will be paid through the state Wakf Board. “For the purpose a special task force comprising government officials and imams from the city and districts will be constituted which will make the necessary recommendations for the implementation of the scheme,” Banerjee said here during a meet with the religious leaders. Banerjee also said “homeless, landless imams” will now be given the benefits under her pet project “Nijo Bhumi Nijo Griha (Own Land, Own House)”. “There are more than 30,000 imams in Bengal and a large percentage of them do not have a house or land. If they want and if their religious laws permit, then they can avail the benefits under the Nijo Bhumi Nijo Griha’ scheme and get 3 cottahs of land to build house. The government will also provide for the construction expenditure,” she added. She reiterated her government stand of providing reservation to the Muslims.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

India: Muslims Hail HC Ruling

HYDERABAD: Muslims across the city welcomed the high court judgment in favour of the state Wakf Board in the Manikonda land case on Tuesday. Jubilation was not limited to the Haj House which houses the Wakf Board. Activists involved in the protection of wakf land described the judgment as a ‘landmark decision’, one which proved that the judiciary is ‘secular, powerful and independent’. The Wakf Board is anticipating moves of the opposition and will take a decision based on reactions to the judgment.

One of the petitioners of the case, Mahboob Alam Khan said that the HC judgment could well mark the end of the politicians’ influence on the Wakf Board. “The decision is historic and has set a precedent. The bench reinforced the decision that a wakf property will always remain a wakf property and that its nature cannot be altered. We have taken steps to file a caveat in case the opposition decides to approach the Supreme Court,” he said. Khan traces the mismanagement of wakf lands to the tenure of Chandrababu Naidu and says that irregularities gained momentum during Y S Rajasekhara Reddy’s reign as chief minister. Many honest officers were frequently transferred according to the whims and fancies of the politicians. The Hazrath Hussain Shah Wali wakf land was deemed a gazetted property by the government itself, he added.

Zaheeruddin Ali Khan, managing editor, The Siasat daily observed, “This is just the beginning of the recovery of wakf properties. The judgment has given us the drive to fight more legal battles to win back our land. The judiciary has discharged its duty well and has given Muslims the hope that the law is with them.” Khan added that he is prepared to fight the case if it is taken to the Supreme Court. A watchdog committee comprising lawyers, bureaucrats and activists has been formed to monitor and fight legal battles against landsharks, he said. “The brokering of lands by means of dubious deals will soon come to an end,” he hoped.

Rajya Sabha MP Aziz Pasha noted that Hazrat Hussain Shah Wali Dargah property had become a symbol of mishandling of wakf land across the country. “Indeed, the judgment has made us happy but there are many more battles to win. The select committee of Parliament has made recommendations for managing wakf land better. Most importantly, it has suggested that if any board member is found to have grabbed wakf land, he should be promptly dismissed from the board. Also a deterrent punishment of two years should be awarded to such member,” he said. Further, Indira Gandhi in 1975 had ordered the government to return wakf land but this has been put in cold storage. He noted that instead of having a board, a commissionerate having judicial powers should be set up. “This way, wakf land like endowments land can be taken back from encroachers,” he added.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Malaysia: Don’t Cross Religious Boundary: Raja Nazrin

IPOH, April 3 (Bernama) — The Regent of Perak, Raja Dr Nazrin Shah has reminded the people not to cross the religion boundary as it can spark the country’s worst tragedy. “Don’t lit religious fire as it can burn you up and destroy the state,” he said when opening the State Assembly session at Bangunan Perak Darul Ridzuan here today. He said of late, non-Muslims have crossed religion boundary by challenging Islamic matters via statements that made fun of Islamic laws and the faith of Muslims. “Advice to Muslims on their faith and sharia law by Islamic scholars is being questioned and debated openly by non-Muslims. “This has crossed the religion border. The etiquette of respecting and non-interfering in the affairs of other religions must be adhered.”

Islam’s position is contained in the Federal Constitution and should not not be taken literally but interpreted in a holistic manner and linked with other relevant provisions to ensure that the real purpose of these provisions is not manipulated to deny the rights of Muslims. Raja Nazrin said, “Islam is a protected religion with special and absolute status in the constitution. The provisions and privileges enshrined in the constitution don’t make Muslims proud and arrogant towards those of other religions. “Muslim leaders don’t justify this by being extreme, discriminatory, insulting and offensive of other religions or destroy the houses of worship of non-Muslims.” The Regent of Perak said the majority of Muslims in this country were educated to understand the meaning of religion and the sanctity of God. “Because of this, Muslims avoid making comments, open criticism and don’t interfere in the practices and rituals of other religions,” he added.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Muslims in Kazakhstan Indignant at Vodka Makers Inclusion of “Allah” On Liquor Bottles

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Muslims in the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan are up in arms at a vodka producer for including the word “Allah” on its liquor bottles. Privately owned Channel 31 cited Bekzat Boranbaiuly, head imam at a mosque in the city of Semey, as saying the vodka maker should seek forgiveness for the blasphemous use of the sentence “The Power of Allah Suffices for All.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

Can China Makes Its Cuisine — and Finance — Friendly to Muslims?

China’s legendary cuisine has been a secret weapon to winning many an investment. But when a major ingredient of the culinary experience is pork, hospitality can only go so far when it comes to entertaining Muslim businessmen from countries like Indonesia and the Gulf’s emirates. How the Chinese have been able to adjust can be seen in Hong Kong, the international trade port that many of these business people go through on their way to mainland China. Take a look at the Islamic Centre Canteen, just a few floors above the Wan Chai mosque. Wrapped up in the savory, little dumplings the canteen serves is the quintessential Hong Kong culinary experience, sans the pork. That kind of accommodation for Islamic dietary rules is growing, along with business prospects from the Muslim world.

In 2010, there were only 14 certified halal restaurants and markets in Hong Kong, advertised by visitor centers. In the past year alone, however, the number has almost tripled. Muslim community leaders have intimated that the Hong Kong government has collaborated with Islamic clergy to lure prospective Muslim guests with dining options. The Hong Kong Tourism Board reports that in recent years, the number of Middle Eastern visitors to the region has grown by as much as 20% annually.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Police Say Bendigo Mother Raped 14 Times

POLICE allege a Bendigo mother of two was subjected to repeated sexual assault at the hands of six youths who dragged her into a laundry and took turns raping her, a court has heard.

Mohammed Elnour, 19, Akoak Manon, 19, and Mohammed Zaoli, 22, all appeared in the Bendigo Magistrates Court yesterday charged with a long list of sex offences stemming from the alleged gang rape in January last year.

All three men are contesting the charges and the first day of a committal hearing began yesterday.

The court heard Manon and Zaoli both faced 17 charges, including 14 counts of rape and single counts of indecent assault, unlawful assault and false imprisonment.

Elnour also faces these 17 charges as well as charges of using a carriage service to harass and harassing a witness. Police allege Elnour contacted the complainant five days after the alleged rape.

In court yesterday, footage taken on the night of the alleged attack — retrieved from Zaoliâ€(tm)s phone — was shown to Magistrate Richard Wright.

The sound was muffled, the recorded voices were mostly unintelligible, but at times a womanâ€(tm)s voice could be heard saying “no” and “stop”.

Prosecuting Alex Albert said the footage showed part of the incident in the complainantâ€(tm)s home, including Zaoli “grabbing” at her, the incident from which the charges of indecent assault and unlawful assault arose.

Informant Detective Senior Constable Chris Reed tendered photographs of the defendants taken by police at the complainantâ€(tm)s house shortly after the incident allegedly took place.

Senior Detective Reed said six men, three under 18, were arrested soon after.

Running through the charges yesterday, Mr Albert explained that each count of rape related to one of the six youths assaulting the complainant while the other five “acted in concert or aided and abetted” the attack.

He detailed 14 separate charges of digital and penile rape committed by the men.

Mr Albert said that at times the youths pinned the complainant against the wall while another raped her.

After the first two incidents, Mr Albert said the woman checked on her two children, asleep in the house, before coming back to the kitchen and being attacked again.

He said the charge of false imprisonment came when the complainant was dragged from the kitchen.

“Zaoli dragged her from the kitchen into the laundry and she was not allowed to leave,” Mr Albert said.

“All the men were involved in that.”

The court was told the woman was allegedly raped a further 10 times in the laundry.

Family of the complainant became emotional as the charges were read out, trying to hold back tears as they sat in the gallery.

In front of them the three defendants remained impassive.

After all the charges were read out, the complainant gave evidence to a closed court via video link.

The committal continues in the Bendigo Magistrates Court today.

           — Hat tip: Salome[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ghana: NDC Advised to Show Respect to Muslims and the Islamic Religion

The Nasara group of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the Upper East Region on Monday condemned recent castigations and attacks on Islam and Muslims by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the media. At a press conference addressed by Alhaji Abubakari Mohammed, Regional Nasara Co-ordinator in Bolgatanga, the group also condemned Mutala Ibrahim, NDC Parliamentary Candidate for Nanton in the Northern region for questioning the choice of Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and his commitment to Islam. Alhaji Mohammed said Mr Mutala Ibrahims’s statement was shameful, careless and an affront to Northerners and the Islamic religion, asking him what authority he had as a Muslim to judge his colleague and called on him to withdraw and apologise to Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and the Muslim Community. He said every political administration in the country gave recognition to all religious groupings including Muslims but the NDC had failed because they never believed in the abilities and capabilities of Muslims and therefore the NDC dropped Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, a Muslim who was chosen as running mate to then candidate John Atta Mills in 2004.

Alhaji Mohammed said it was time for the NDC to live with the reality that the NPP had chosen Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, a northerner and a Muslim for that matter to be a running mate to Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo -Addo, Flagbearer of the NPP. “We have been keeping our cool hoping that the NDC would come to the reality that Muslims and for that matter Islam deserved respect and dignity just like any other religion” he said. He said Fiifi Kwetey’s report revealed by Wiki leaks indicated that no Muslim will ever become a president of Ghana and Mr Sam Pee Yarley on Radio Gold also made statements to the effect that Nima, a predominantly Muslim community was near the Jubilee House built by the NPP government and so President Mills would not move into it, this according Alhaji Mohammed, went to confirm the disrespect the NDC had for Muslims.

On behalf of the Nasara group, Alhaji Mohammed thanked the NPP for maintaining the tradition of north-south and Christian-Muslim balance since the time of Alhaji Aliu Mahama as Vice President during the NPP regime. The Group also thanked Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for the confidence reposed in Dr Bawumia and for the honour done the Muslim community, and prayed for a peaceful electioneering year.**

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Somalia Theatre Bombing Kills Top Sports Officials

The head of Somalia’s Olympic committee and its football chief are among eight people killed in a bomb attack on a high-profile event in Mogadishu.

Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali survived the blast unhurt after it struck the newly re-opened national theatre in the capital, Mogadishu.

Militants from the al-Shabab group say they carried out the bombing.

African Union peacekeepers said the “despicable” attack would not deter peace efforts in Somalia.

The President of the Somali Olympic Committee, Aden Yabarow Wiish, and the Somali Football Federation chief, Said Mohamed Nur, were both killed. They were among a group of dignitaries who had gathered to mark the first anniversary of the launch of Somalia’s national television station.

Sepp Blatter, president of football’s governing body Fifa, said he was shocked at the deaths of the sport officials.

“I knew both men personally and can only say good things about their endless efforts to promote sport and football in their country,” he said in a statement. “They will be sorely missed.”

Three Somali television journalists were also wounded in the blast, sources told the BBC Somali Service.

The theatre had closed in the early 1990s as Somalia descended into civil war and was only reopened last month, amid a new period of relative optimism.

‘Unimaginable’ scene

Police and hospital sources told BBC News in Mogadishu that eight people had been killed.

Also speaking to the BBC, the prime minister said a woman suicide attacker had carried out the attack.

The prime minister was addressing the crowd of about 300 high-profile guests gathered to celebrate a year since the government-owned TV station took to the air — meant to be yet another milestone in Somalia’s slow return to peace.

But scenes of chaos ensued when a blast ripped through seats. The rescue effort was haphazard and some wounded journalists say they were left to organise their own lifts to hospital.

Police say initial investigations point to a female suicide bomber as being behind the explosion, but the Islamist group al-Shabab said it had planted a device at the theatre ahead of the event, which was announced on television on Tuesday night.

All guests were thoroughly frisked as they entered the theatre, so suspicions are growing that it may have been an inside job. It has also prompted people to question why officials would publicise the event when the government is unable to guarantee security — even for its own prime minister.

Condemning al-Shabab, he said it was in the group’s nature to “kill innocent people” and described the attacks as “the last breaths of a dying horse”.

Abdullahi Yussuf Abdurahiman, 22, survived the explosion. He told BBC News: “I saw mutilated bodies, shoes on the ground, bloody mobile phones and chairs cut in half by the force of the blast.

“A lot of people were being carried out and there were dead people on the floor. It was unimaginable. Then everyone was running away.”

Soldiers started shooting after the blast, witnesses said.

In a statement al-Shabab said it was behind the bombing but referred to a planted device rather than a suicide bomber.

“The Mujahideen successfully planted the explosives before the gathering,” it said on Twitter.

Al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters news agency: “We were behind the theatre blast. We targeted the infidel ministers and legislators, and they were the casualties of today.”

The explosion comes as the UN-backed government seeks to show it has re-established control of the city since al-Shabab was forced out in August.

However, al-Shabab has continued to attack the capital with bombs and mortars.

Last week, African Union (AU) troops said they had seized control of territory on the outskirts of Mogadishu which, they said, had allowed the Islamist fighters to launch their frequent attacks on the city.

Appeal for information

Brigadier General Audace Nduwumunsi, deputy commander of the AU mission said the peacekeepers stood firmly with the Somali government.

“Yet again the terrorists’ methods show that they are enemies of peace and are foreign to Somali culture,” he said.

“By their attack they are trying to derail the hopes and dreams of the Somali people but they will fail.”

He encouraged people in Mogadishu to come forward with any information about possible further attacks.

[Return to headlines]


Anonymous said...

Re : UK No One Saw It Coming - Reader Comment

Living as I do in Bradford I am used to badly researched remarks being made about Bradford. The 'reader comment' regarding the 7/7 bombers and Bradford West is factually incorrect and idiotic. The 7/7 bombers originated from Beeston, South Leeds and Dewsbury (both locations are approx 10 miles from Bradford West).

Things are tough enough in Bradford with a Labour controlled City Council which grovels to the Muslim leadership and a Police Force which does not carry out it's statutory duties without an ill informed person trying to link us with the 7/7 bombers.

Ivan Winters
Great Horton

kloutlichter said...

Salma Yaqoob is talking out of her behind.They won Bradford west on an anti -war message not because most muslims were thinking 'our boys'died in vain,but because muslims dont want to see fighting in muslims lands,and because Galloway is a muslim talking about muslim Topics.For god's sake to mention Kashmir is clearly designed to 'curry' favour.What the hell has Kashmir got to do with british politic at the moment.It has everything to do with family links within that community no doubt.
Out of the 900 people who voted in the middle class area how many were muslim?Do people believe that rich pakistani's dont live in nice area's.That proves nothing.Do they really believe that a whole swathe of white middle class or rich people are going to vote for that scumbag.Get real.Out of those that did most will be wondering what they have done when they saw Galloway held aloft in Islamabad....oh! sorry I mean in Bradford west.
Every political comment since are making excuses.Muslims voted for a musliim on Muslim topics.Those whites who did are no doubt enthralled by Galloways admittedly excellent debateing skills.