Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120407

Financial Crisis
»“Not in Labor Force” At New All Time High
»Portugal on Track But Problems Elsewhere a Threat: IMF
»Democrats Responsible for Black Culture of Anger
»Florida Pastor at Dearborn Protest: ‘Islam Has One Goal — That is World Domination’
»Fox News Hires Supporter of Jeremiah Wright and Derrick Bell
»Hundreds Pack Public Hearing on Proposed Mosque in Norwalk
»Muslim Brotherhood’s $1.5 Billion Holy Week Windfall
»NBC Fires Producer in Flap Over Manipulated 911 Call in Trayvon Martin Case
»Photos: U.S. Army Domestic Quick Reaction Force Riot Control Training
»Subsidized and Expensive Solar Energy Bites the Dust Again
»Task Force Searches for North Tulsa ‘Random Shooter’
Europe and the EU
»Brussels Public Transport Halted After Fatal Staff Attack
»France: Conference for Muslims Underway Amid French Security
»France: Toulouse Killer Was No Lone Wolf
»Malmö: Hatred of Jews in a Swedish City
»The ‘Islamic Art’ Hoax
»Turkey Will Not be Deterred From EU Bid: Minister
»UK to Propose Laws Allowing the Monitoring of E-Mail and Visited Websites
»UK: “The Number One Driver of Not Voting Conservative is Not Being White”
»UK: And After We’ve Left the EU …
»UK: Disgrace of PC in Drunken Race Rant: Scotland Yard’s Racism Crisis Deepens as Vile Abuse of Asian Shop Manager is Revealed
»UK: It’s Time to End the Tory War on Multiculturalism (Reprise)
»UK: Ken Livingstone, George Galloway and Britian’s Drift to the Politics of Race
»UK: Leicestershire Councillor Facing Probe Over Message Criticising Muslims
»UK: MPs: We Speak Up for Israel — and Get Death Threats
»UK: Playing the Faith Card is a Risky Game
»UK: Sentenced to Death for Being Old: The NHS Denies Life-Saving Treatment to the Elderly, As One Man’s Chilling Story Reveals
»UK: Tory Cabinet Ministers Ordered to Attend Eid and Diwali Festivals to Appeal to Asian Voters
North Africa
»Tunisia: Should the World Trust Islamists?
South Asia
»Airborne Prayers Problem Solved for Tech-Savvy Muslims
»Avalanche Buries 130 Pakistani Soldiers in Kashmir on ‘World’s Highest Battlefield’ Near Indian Border
Far East
»Fukushima Reactor 4: Life on Planet Earth in the Balance
Sub-Saharan Africa
»British Embassy Staff Withdrawn From Mali as Islamic Insurgents Declare Independence
»Nigeria: Sharia: Amputee Seeks N20,000 to Revive Chicken Trade
»Triumphant Tuareg Rebels Fall Out Over Al-Qaeda’s Jihad in Mali
Culture Wars
»A Society That Persecutes Christ is Heading for Terrible Trouble
»Melinda Gates: Worrying About Population Control “Has Led to Much Suffering and Death”
»UK: Baa Baa Little Sheep: How Private School Abandoned Nursery Rhyme’s Lyrics for Easter Show Sparking Political Correctness Accusations
»How Muslims View Easter
»In the Shadow of the Sword by Tom Holland — Review
»Interview: Tom Holland on the Origins of Islam

Financial Crisis

“Not in Labor Force” At New All Time High

March NFP big miss at just 120K. Unemployment rate declines from 8.3% to 8.2%. Futures slide, for at least a few minutes before the NEW QE TM rumor starts spreading. The household survey actually posted a decline in March from 142,065 to 142,034. Considering Birth Death added 90K to the NSA number, the actual number was almost unchanged. And as always, as we predicted when Goldman hiked its NFP forecast yesterday from 175K to 200K saying “if Goldman’s recent predictive track record is any indication, tomorrow’s NFP will be a disaster”, Goldie once again skewers everyone. Finally, Joe LaVorgna’s +250,000 forecast was just 100% off… as usual.

The unemployment rate drops to 8.2% for one simple reason: the number of people not in the labor force is back to all time highs: 87,897,000.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Portugal on Track But Problems Elsewhere a Threat: IMF

Bailed-out Portugal is on track to meet its debt-rescue targets but faces “formidable challenges,” the International Monetary Fund said Thursday, warning that the EU might have to stand by promises of more support. The country faces a tough task to get into strong enough shape to borrow the funds it needs by returning to the bond market next year, the IMF said.

“Programme implementation remains solid but formidable challenges remain,” an IMF staff paper released a day after the fund, the lender of last resort, approved a 5.17-billion-euro ($6.79 billion) installment of rescue funds.

IMF officials in Washington said after a regular joint review that Portugal was making “good progress” on its economic programme under a 78-billion-euro EU-IMF rescue agreed last November.

The IMF staff review Thursday echoed that finding but also highlighted the difficulties and risks ahead, in particular an aggravation of the debt crisis in other eurozone countries which could knock Portugal off track.

It said Portugal was generally implementing its programme as planned and fiscal and trade deficits were narrowing. “However, the recession will likely deepen in the short term and unemployment, already higher than envisaged under the programme, is likely to rise further in the coming months,” it warned. The economy is now set to shrink by 3.25 percent this year.

The IMF staff report said the government would have to work hard to ensure it cuts spending and raises tax revenue while undertaking reforms to boost growth in order to restore its access to private debt markets. But it warned that even if Lisbon did so, problems elsewhere could hurt.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Democrats Responsible for Black Culture of Anger

Black twenty-year-old male Danielle Simpson with two black associates were interrupted by 84 year old Geraldine Davidson while in the process of burglarizing her home. They duct taped her mouth, bound her hands and legs and threw the white former school teacher and church organist into the trunk of her own car. Ms Davidson was severely brutalized before the trio eventually tied a rope attached to a cinder block around her legs and threw her, still alive, into the river.

Brutal crimes are not unique.

But, here is what makes this case remarkable. For seven hours, Simpson rode around in Ms Davidson’s car stopping for fast food and opening the truck to show off his victim to his black friends. Due to fingerprints left on the car, detectives estimate that around ten people viewed Ms Davidson in the trunk.

Incredibly, not one person called the police or lobbied to set the poor elderly woman free. What could possibly harden these black youths to such an extent?

Perhaps one of the detective investigating the case nailed it when he described the black criminals and their friends as part of a “culture of anger.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Florida Pastor at Dearborn Protest: ‘Islam Has One Goal — That is World Domination’

Speaking today in front of the biggest mosque in Michigan, the Florida pastor known for burning the Quran blasted Islam and called upon Americans to take back their country.

“Islam has one goal — that is world domination,” said Terry Jones, wearing sunglasses, jeans and a faded black-leather jacket. “It’s time to stand up.”

Holding signs in English and Arabic that read “I Will Not Submit,” about 20 supporters cheered as Jones and his assistant spoke outside the Islamic Center of America, a Dearborn mosque that sits off Ford Road. Framed by the mosque’s minarets, Jones said he’s concerned that the growth of the Muslim population in metro Detroit and the U.S. will lead to the oppression of non-Muslims.

“Muslims, no matter they go around the world … they push their agenda on the society,” said Jones. “We must take back America.”

The mosque was placed on lockdown Saturday afternoon, with about 30 police cars from Detroit, Dearborn, Wayne County and Michigan surrounding the complex, which also includes several churches. Traffic in and out was prevented, disappointing some worshippers who were not aware of Jones’ rally and couldn’t access the mosque. During the anti-Muslim rally, an electronic billboard with the Islamic Center read: “Happy Easter.”

About 500 feet from Jones was a group of counter-protesters, some of whom were with an activist organization, By Any Means Necessary (BAMN). Police prevented them from approaching the grassy area in front of the mosque where Jones spoke. Muslim leaders had urged people not to attend the counter-protest. Unlike Jones’ last two visits to Dearborn, this one was uneventful with no arrests and no street clashes.

Jones said during his talk that he’s also concerned about the free speech rights of Americans. Over the past year, Jones has battled the City of Dearborn for the right to speak in front of the mosque. Last year, a Dearborn judge threw him briefly in jail and ordered him to stay away from the mosque for three years. That decision was later overturned by a Detroit judge.

Last month, the city asked Jones to sign a legal agreement before protesting. Jones then filed a lawsuit, prompting a Detroit federal judge to rule Thursday in his favor. Jones was represented for free in his battles with the city by the Ann Arbor-based Thomas More Law Center, a conservative Christian group established by Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan.

During the talk, some supporters of Jones made derogatory remarks and jokes about Muslims. When Jones criticized Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson during his speech, one supporter blurted out: “Throw ‘em in the pit with the Muslims.”

After the rally, supporters of Jones posed for photos in front of the mosque.

A crew from Real Catholic TV, a media outlet based in Ferndale that’s owned by a member of Opus Dei, was at the rally. Its host, Michael Voris, said he supports Jones’ right to free speech and some of his views. Jones, who was a pastor in Germany, said Europe is increasingly under the sway of Islamic law.

“There are whole sections of London ruled by sharia law,” Voris said. “I think there’s the potential to happen in the U.S. what has happened — and is happening — in Europe.”

Tim Voss, 64, of Wayne, said he came Saturday to support Jones because “sharia law is the most dangerous thing. We can’t have it in this country.”

Down the road, counter-protester Laura Dennis, 38, of Detroit, held up a sign that read: “God Loves Us All.”

Speaking about Jones, Dennis said: “This guy’s just a hate monger, no different from the Klan or a Nazi.”

[Return to headlines]

Fox News Hires Supporter of Jeremiah Wright and Derrick Bell

Fox News is once again moving to the left, hoping to avoid left-wing attacks on its news operations and commentators. But the move risks alienating conservative viewers. The current controversy involves new Fox News contributor Santita Jackson, who lists the notorious Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr., as being among her personal “activities and interests” on her Facebook page.

Wright, who was Obama’s pastor for 20 years and baptized Obama’s children, became a major controversial figure during the 2008 presidential campaign when it became known that he blamed the 9/11 terrorist attacks on American foreign policy and claimed the U.S. manufactured the AIDS virus to kill black people.

The link on the Santita Jackson page, which promotes matters of personal interest to Ms. Jackson and other things she likes to do, directs people to Wright’s official home page.

But her taste for racial and divisive politics has taken on added significance in view of a blog post from 2010, in which Jackson praised New York University law professor Derrick Bell, who has recently become known as “Obama’s Beloved Law Professor” at because of videos showing the President embracing him. J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Department lawyer, wrote, “Both Obama and Bell demanded that Harvard hire professors on the basis of race. Obama and other students rallied to Bell’s side after Bell quit teaching in an attempt to force Harvard to implement race-based hiring policies.”

He added, “The Obama-Bell connection is the latest in a pattern of Barack Obama’s associations with individuals who promoted a racially divisive America.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Hundreds Pack Public Hearing on Proposed Mosque in Norwalk

NORWALK — Several hundred people packed Norwalk Concert Hall on Wednesday for a public hearing on Al Madany Islamic Center of Norwalk’s proposed mosque for 127 Fillow St.

Many wore buttons reading ‘Keep 127 Fillow Street Residential.’ Others wore t-shirts reading ‘All Faiths Can Co-Exist Peacefully Support the Mosque in Norwalk.’ Joseph Santo, Norwalk Zoning Commission chairman, told all those present at the beginning of the hearing that the commission would not vote on the plan Wednesday night — and would continue the public hearing if it went to 11 p.m. “We will not be voting tonight. If we don’t finish (the hearing) tonight … we’re going to close the hearing around that time … and continue it next Wednesday, April 11,” Santo said. “The application will probably be sent back to committee. We’ll discuss it in committee and then put together a resolution (regarding the application).” Santo said the Zoning Commission has 65 days from the beginning of the public hearing Wednesday night to approve or reject the proposed plan.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Muslim Brotherhood’s $1.5 Billion Holy Week Windfall

On the same day that Hagmann and Hagmann Report radio host and senior Canada Free Press (CFP) columnist Doug Hagmann confirmed that the Muslim Brotherhood was having their friendly little tete-a-tete with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Brotherhood left with a booty of USD 1.5 billion in foreign aid.

“Washington, April 5, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)—The White House defended the decision to release USD 1.5 billion in foreign aid to Egypt, on Thursday, following meetings between U.S. officials and lawmakers and representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood in Washington.”

In his Wednesday CFP report, Hagmann, who described the “Origins of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) as having been founded in Egypt on 30 April, 2011 by the Muslim Brotherhood, “which is the ideological forefather of al Qaeda and Hamas, supporter of Sharia Law, and an advocate of terrorism against Israel and the West”, named names:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

NBC Fires Producer in Flap Over Manipulated 911 Call in Trayvon Martin Case

NBC News has fired the producer it deemed most responsible for the airing of a selectively edited 911 call placed by George Zimmerman the night he killed Trayvon Martin.

Sources at NBC who asked not to be identified confirmed a New York Times story saying that a Miami-based producer was fired Thursday, though the sources refused to identify the former employee.

The offending segment aired on NBC’s Today show March 27 but went widely unnoticed until it was highlighted by conservative outlets such as the Media Research Center and

[Return to headlines]

Photos: U.S. Army Domestic Quick Reaction Force Riot Control Training

The following photos are from March and February of this year and were taken at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. The first four photos from March depict riot control training for a “domestic quick reaction force” that would aid in civil disturbances. The second set of photos from February depict the 67th Military Police Company that typically mans the area’s Regional Correctional Facility attempting to quell riots among “restless prison inmates” that have created a disturbance. The photos are similar to a collection from May 2010 that depict several National Guard units from different parts of the U.S. quelling protesters in mock communities holding signs that say “Food Now”. A description of one of the events was posted to Facebook by the U.S. Army’s 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment:

The Soldiers in a closed formation bang their batons in cadence against their shields as an angry mob approaches.

“When I initially picked up my shield, the thought of the movie 300 was the first thing that came to mind,” said Spc. Kyle Wilhelmi.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Subsidized and Expensive Solar Energy Bites the Dust Again

Solar Trust of America, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Delaware courts—the ninth solar energy company to bite the dust—adding to the previous list of BrightSource, Beacon Power, Ener1, Evergreen Solar, Fiskar, Solyndra, Sunpower, and Spectrawatt.

Solar Trust of America, which listed assets between $1 to $10 million and liabilities between $10 and $50 million, was unable to meet the Department of Energy loan guarantee deadline. The $2.1 billion loan guarantee was “the largest amount ever offered to a solar project.” (The Washington Examiner)


Spiegel Online reported that even Q-Cells, the biggest solar cell manufacturer in Germany and the world, has filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, with a record loss of $1.1 billion in 2011. In Bitterfeld-Wolfen, 2,200 workers have lost their jobs. Q-Cell’s share price was 9 cents.

Q-Cell blamed competition from China, management issues, and solar energy subsidies. When the government subsidies dried up, Q-Cell was not able to compete in a real market as their product was expensive to make. Production prices have fallen in China by 30 to 40 percent, much faster than other companies could scale down their costs, especially when relying on government subsidies.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Task Force Searches for North Tulsa ‘Random Shooter’

TULSA, Oklahoma — Tulsa Chief of Police Chuck Jordan and other city leaders spoke at a news conference Saturday afternoon to discuss the fatal shootings that took place in Tulsa overnight Friday.

Standing at a podium at the police station, Jordan said to the shooter, who is still at-large, “We’re coming for you.”

Jordan said the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office will combine to form “Operation Random Shooter.”

Thirty investigators will be a part of the task force dedicated solely to tracking down the shooter, Jordan said.

He stressed the task force needs help from the community, because tracking down a “lone wolf suspect” who acted alone can be a challenge.

“But we are up to that challenge,” he said.

“We are all of one mindset, to find this person, arrest them and put them behind bars, and anyone that’s associated with them,” Mayor Dewey Bartlett said at the briefing.

Police call the string of mysterious shootings unprecedented and are urging caution. The random attacks left three people dead and two injured, all within a 5-mile radius. The victims range in age from 31 to 54.

There’s little information known about the suspect. Chief Jordan said one of the surviving victims was able to tell them that a white man in an older model white truck approached him then shot him.

All of the victims are black, and since the only suspect description is a white man, many are left wondering if this is a hate crime.

Related Story: Tulsa Police Identify Victims In ‘Unprecedented’ Shooting Spree

“It’s a very logical theory, but there’s no evidence at the time to support it,” Jordan said.

“There’s been no racial slurs. We haven’t arrested anybody yet. It’s just not time for us to say that. Right now, I’m more worried about three of my citizens being murdered.”

Jordan said there are substantial commonalities in the shootings, which led police to believe they are related. He cited the time frame, the geographic area and other ballistic evidence, which lead to one person.

The gun appears to be a small caliber, Jordan said, but the OSBI will conduct further testing next week.

“We’ll do whatever it takes to bring the shooter to justice,” Jordan said.

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Brussels Public Transport Halted After Fatal Staff Attack

The public transport authority in Brussels halted all buses, trams and metro trains in the Belgian capital Saturday after a controller was “beaten to death” following a traffic accident.

Spokeswoman Francoise Ledune said the controller, aged 56, was taken to hospital, where he later died.

Ledune said the controller was attacked after he was called to the scene of an accident between a bus and a private car early Saturday.

She said he was hit on the head by a friend of the car driver.

Brussels prosecutor Bruno Bulthe, deploring the “gratuitous violence”, said later the suspected assailant had been arrested.

Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo called in a statement for a swift trial and “the severest punishment” for whoever was responsible.

“Violence has no place in our society, one of whose fundamental principles is mutual respect,” he said.

Interior Minister Joelle Milquet said he would propose measures to improve security on public transport at a cabinet meeting later this month.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

France: Conference for Muslims Underway Amid French Security

Hundreds of Muslims began a four day Islamic congress in Paris on Friday, as fears grew of a religious backlash following the Toulouse killings. More than 200 organisations from all over France are taking part in the four-day event which comes just weeks after Al Qaeda-inspired gunman Mohamed Merah shot dead seven people.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

France: Toulouse Killer Was No Lone Wolf

by Jason Burke

As ever, as the dust settles, the facts become clearer. In the case of Mohamed Merah, the killer of three Jewish children, a rabbi and three soldiers in France earlier this month, the questions have become sharper too. Though local authorities have been praised for their handling of the bloody dénoument of Merah’s short-lived terrorist career, many doubts remain. How many other Merahs might there be? Is this a French problem or a Europe-wide threat? What can security agencies do to make communities safer? The first point to make is that France has no particular vulnerability to extremist violence, despite the often noisy debate in the country over issues such as overt displays of religious faith in public institutions and the large Muslim population. Indeed, not only has France avoided any significant mass-casualty attacks of the types seen in Spain and Britain in 2004 and 2005 respectively, but it has produced proportionately fewer of the militant volunteers than other European countries in the late 1990s and the decade following the 9/11 attacks.

That there is now a structurally high level of antisemitism, which often translates into violence, is undeniable. That conservative strands of Islam have made significant inroads in recent years is also without doubt. Yet France’s numerous and varied Muslim communities have not shown the levels of radicalisation seen elsewhere. When they look at the Continent, British secret services are currently most concerned about Germany. But this is cold comfort. Mohammed Merah, juvenile delinquent and mechanic, was, after all, from Toulouse. That he existed at all indicates how ubiquitous the threat is, particularly to Jews, from Lisbon to Tallinn.

Another apparently worrying element is that Merah was not a true “lone wolf”, an independent operator with no connections to anyone else. Though the extent of any training or radicalisation while in Pakistan or Afghanistan is unclear — and may simply be his own fantasy — it is clear that Merah was plugged into extremist networks in and around his home town. Terrorism is, at least in terms of its mechanics if not morals, a social activity like any other, and there has been no case yet of a militant being entirely divorced from some kind of group dynamic which has at the very least encouraged him to think he were doing something that someone would regard as praiseworthy. Merah’s brother has reportedly told the police that he was “proud” of his sibling’s actions. The reactions of the various other low-level activists with whom Merah was in contact are unknown but can easily be guessed.

But the “networked” nature of modern militancy holds out the best chance for stopping such attacks. A genuine “lone wolf” would be almost impossible to detect.

The French security services have done a decent job over the past 15 years of keeping the Jewish community safe. They will now be examining how Merah was allowed to amass a potent arsenal, escape detection and kill. In the UK in recent years, their counterparts have been able to identify many potential attackers through working closely with local police and local communities. This approach, long sniffed-at in France, where a more coercive model has been favoured, has been of critical importance in tracing out the crucial small networks. Coupled with enhanced powers and more resources, the threat has been mitigated, if not eradicated, in the UK. The British have learned much from the French over recent years. Now the cross-channel flow of expertise should be reversed.

Jason Burke is the author of ‘Al Qaeda: the true story of radical Islam’ and, most recently, ‘The 9/11 Wars’

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Malmö: Hatred of Jews in a Swedish City

By Paulina Neuding

Rabbi Shneur Kesselman is used to running. When I asked him about the most serious anti-Semitic attack he has been victim of in his Swedish home town of Malmö, he recalled an incident when a car began backing into him and his wife as they were crossing the street.

How close was he when he stopped? I asked.

“I don’t know, we ran,” he said.

Another incident: The rabbi was walking to morning service at Malmö’s Orthodox synagogue, when a car stopped and the driver asked him aggressively to come closer. It was early Saturday morning and the streets around them were empty. When Kesselman started to walk away, the car turned and began to pursue him.

Again Rabbi Kesselman found himself running through the streets of Malmö. “I have never been so frightened,” he told me.

Anti-Semitic hate crimes are on the rise in Sweden, and as in France and Great Britain, the violence and harassment is increasingly a consequence of immigration from the Muslim world. And just as in other parts of Western Europe, there is no reciprocity between the two groups: the war in Gaza caused a sharp rise in anti- Semitic hate crime, while there were no reports of Jewish attacks on Muslims.

In the capital of Stockholm, such imported anti-Semitism has not yet provoked any dramatic changes in Jewish life — mainly because of the segregated nature of the city. Immigrants dominate housing projects in the suburbs, while most Jewish activity is downtown. Stockholm’s only kosher store, its main synagogue and the Jewish cultural center are located in Stockholm’s business quarters.

In Malmö it is different. In 2004 the most common name for baby boys in the city was Mohammed, and among 15-year-olds, ethnic Swedes are now in minority.

Unlike in Stockholm, these demographic changes are immediately reflected in city life, and for Malmö’s 1,500 Jews, life has changed considerably. It is telling that the city’s Jews don’t use slogans or carry signs during their recurring demonstrations against anti-Semitism; they simply wear kippahs and Stars of David. It has become a manifestation in itself to walk through town as a Jew.

According to the Malmö police, hate crimes in the city range from anti-Semitic remarks (a crime according to Swedish penal law) to violent assault. In late 2008, a peaceful Jewish demonstration was run off the main square by an aggressive mob of immigrants of Arab origin…

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

The ‘Islamic Art’ Hoax

Talking about Islamic art is rather like talking about the art of the Khanates. The Imperial Kingdom of Genghis Khan was the largest contiguous empire on earth. But just because different lands and cultures were conquered by Genghis Khan doesn’t mean that there is a significance to grouping their art. The sphere of power of the Muslim Empire stretched from the borders of China and the Indian subcontinent across Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Sicily, and the Iberian Peninsula, and on to the Pyrenees. There needs to be a further rationale for calling art collections from lands conquered or subdued by the forces of Islam “Islamic Art.”

Then why all the impetus, which started in earnest some almost a decade ago, for all the “Islamic Art” openings at prestigious museums, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Victoria and Albert Museum in England? The creation of departments of Islamic art at prestigious universities and museums? The support of prestigious foundations like Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art? It is political correctness.

The idea is that the kinder, gentler artistic side of Islam needs to be promoted to disabuse the hopelessly bigoted perception, held by various troglodyte crypto-neo-cons, that Islam is an aggressive, imperialist, expansionist, and repressive “religion.” But even at the start of the “Islamic Art” movement there were, as we shall see, art critics who doubted that Islam provided the inspiration or the continuity for collections of art from lands under Muslim control. The push to credit Islam for so-called “Islamic Art” is beginning to look as feeble as the Obama administration’s mandate to the National Aeronautic and Space Administration to showcase the Arab contributions to space exploration.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkey Will Not be Deterred From EU Bid: Minister

Turkey’s minister for European affairs insisted Thursday that Europeans would not deter his country from its decades-long bid to join the EU despite the obstacles on its path. “No country faces as many impediments, as many challenges and difficulties as my country” in its bid for EU membership, Egemen Bagis said in Bucharest, citing, among others, visa requirements and a slow negotiation process.

“Those politicians around Europe who think that by making these difficulties they can make Turkey go away are dead wrong,” Bagis said at a conference on Turkey and the EU in the Romanian capital. “We are here. Every country that has ever started its negotiations, at the end finished its negotiations, so will Turkey, we will not be the first exception,” he said in English.

Turks are “known to be very patient”, he said, recalling that Ankara first applied to join the European bloc in 1959 and had to wait until 2005 to begin formal accession negotiations.

The talks have stalled over problems relating to EU member Cyprus, whose northern third was invaded and occupied by Turkey in 1974 and countries such as Austria, France and Germany are reluctant to grant full membership.

Romania’s minister of European affairs Leonard Orban said he hoped this attitude would change. “It is absolutely evident from a strategic and security point of view that Turkey’s full accession to the EU represents a fundamental interest to us,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK to Propose Laws Allowing the Monitoring of E-Mail and Visited Websites

We’ve seen in the past months a variety of laws aiming to monitor and censor the internet. The UK (aka Oceania to George Orwell readers) is taking a step further by proposing laws allowing the monitoring of emails, phone calls, text messages and even visited websites in real time. These laws are not a long-term project; they are to be brought in “as soon as parliamentary time allows”. As usual, these big-brotherish laws are justified with noble causes such as “fighting terrorists” but the reality is that the right to privacy of the entire population is being revoked. Furthermore, the definition of “terrorist” has been so distorted in recent years that it will probably end up meaning “someone with an opinion about something” in the near future.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: “The Number One Driver of Not Voting Conservative is Not Being White”

by Tim Montgomerie

The title of this blog was an observation reportedly made by Andrew Cooper — the PM’s polling and strategy adviser — at a recent meeting of Tory MPs. A major survey by the TNS-BMRB polling organisation for the Runnymede Trust (PDF) found that just 16% of Britain’s ethnic minority population were Conservative voters at the last election. That compared to 37% among white Britons. Members of the Indian community were most likely to back the Tories (at about 25%). The least likely were black Britons. Under one-in-ten Caribbean and African Britons are Tory voters. The Lib Dems didn’t do much better than the Conservatives and worse among Indian voters. Labour is the dominant political party among Black and Minority Ethnic communities — winning 68% of all of its votes.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: And After We’ve Left the EU …

by Daniel Hannan

I think I’ve decided what to do when I put myself out of a job as an MEP. The next big task, once we’re safely out of the EU, will be to repair the Anglosphere: the community of free English-speaking democracies. I have written a piece about it in that superb newspaper The Australian. I’ve recently visited a number of Anglosphere countries to plug the message: Ireland, the US, Australia, Canada. The past two centuries have been dominated by the English-speaking peoples and, though we’ve made our share of mistakes, we can also be proud of the way we have spread our values: personal liberty, parliamentary supremacy, the rule of law, free trade, property rights. It’s because of these things that Bermuda isn’t Haiti, that South Africa isn’t the Democratic Republic of Congo, that Hong Kong isn’t China. We surely shouldn’t be ending it all with an indifferent shrug. Rage, rage against the dying of the light!


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Disgrace of PC in Drunken Race Rant: Scotland Yard’s Racism Crisis Deepens as Vile Abuse of Asian Shop Manager is Revealed

The racism crisis engulfing Scotland Yard took a dramatic turn last night as an officer was exposed for abusing an Asian takeaway manager.

In an appalling drunken outburst, PC Philip Juhasz, 31, told the Pakistani to ‘go back to your f****** country’. The disgraced officer faces the sack for gross misconduct after being convicted of a racially aggravated public order offence.

But the case raises serious questions about the determination of police to stamp out all traces of racism among their ranks.

Senior black officers in the Metropolitan police said warnings about growing prejudice have been falling on deaf ears for almost a decade.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: It’s Time to End the Tory War on Multiculturalism (Reprise)

by Paul Goodman

Gavin Barwell wrote on this site last year that Lord Tebbit’s cricket test should be torn up:

“I would love our Prime Minister, who has done so much to transform perceptions of the Conservative Party for the better, to give a speech doing to Norman Tebbit’s cricket test what he did to the Margaret Thatcher’s “There’s no such thing as society” quote. Yes, it is important to have loyalty to this country but your roots are important too.”

I have put it a different way: it’s time to end the Tory war on multiculturalism:

“First, because the word…means so many things to so many people, as now to be almost meaningless. Second, because it isn’t helping the Party win votes…Third, because the M-word has become a dissipation of energies better focused “like a laser beam” on the struggle against extremism and the ideology that underpins it.”

And set out some key facts separately:

“Migrants and their descendants are on the whole less likely to vote Conservative than the rest of the population. In 2010, the Tories…won only 16 per cent of the ethnic minority vote. The proportion of such voters was under one in ten in 2001. By 2050 ethnic minorities will make up a fifth of the population.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Ken Livingstone, George Galloway and Britian’s Drift to the Politics of Race

by Damian Thompson

I’m loving this Ken Livingstone tax malarkey. The panic in his campaign team is funny enough, but for true comedy you have to read the tweets of his admirers. There’s a high-profile Leftie blogger called Sunny Hundal, normally puritanical on questions of tax, who is performing spectacular contortions on Twitter to defend his hero’s fiscal ingenuity. Do take a look.

Anyway, I was wondering whether there was anything Ken could do to swing the mayoral election his way if it were held tomorrow. And I could only come up with one idea: go cap in hand to Lutfur Rahman to make sure he gets out the Tower Hamlets vote.

Rahman was elected mayor of that borough in 2010 and is a mighty voice in the local Bangladeshi Muslim community. He’s an independent, having been ditched by Labour, which accused him of supporting Islamic extremists. George Galloway’s Respect Party backed him, though. And so did Ken Livingstone. Were Rahman to return the favour and deliver a bloc vote for Labour, that might just enable the old boy to fulfil his promise to turn London into a “beacon of Islam”. And, talking of beacons of Islam, I don’t see George Galloway being dislodged at the next election. He beat Labour in Bradford West by 10,000 votes. Never before has a by-election been won on the back of a manifesto attuned to radical Islamic sensibilities. But let’s not get too hung up on “Islamification”. It’s an illustration rather than the cause of changes in electoral demography — changes that have wrong-footed both Labour and the Tories.

Telegraph blogger Ed West, a specialist in the politics of immigration, reckons we should look at the way the American electorate has realigned itself. There’s no major Islamic presence in the US — but parts of the country have been profoundly changed by immigration. The increasingly solid Democrat vote in urban America isn’t produced by hopey-changey cosmopolitans: as New York Times columnist Ross Douthat points out, at its core lie Hispanics who have been bought off with “very explicit and specific promises of special legal treatment (in hiring, government contracting, college admissions, immigration policy, etc) based on their ethno-racial background”. The problem for the Democrats is that white males have abandoned the party — not because they’re racist, but because they feel excluded from what Douthat calls the “race-based spoils system” operated by the progressive elite.

Does that sound familiar? Ken Livingstone was the first British politician to set up such a system. Thirty years on, nearly all ethnic minorities in London back Labour. That’s a mixed blessing for the party, though. Labour now faces the same dilemma as the Democrats: the more it subsidises its emerging ethnic vote, the more it drives traditional supporters towards the opposition. Multicultural special pleading persuaded working-class voters to back Boris in 2008. You might think that’s good news for the Tories. David Cameron doesn’t. He hates the (very real) prospect of the Conservatives becoming the “white” party. Everything he says sounds as if it’s designed to alienate the working classes. Instead, he sucks up to progressive opinion-formers who will never vote Conservative. Nor will the ethnic groups he patronises. So he’s stuffed, too. I can’t feel sympathy for either party. Neither had the courage or the common sense to oppose mass immigration. As a result, Britain will soon — for the first time — suffer the fate of countless foreign countries and have to build its policies around religious and ethnic enclaves.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Leicestershire Councillor Facing Probe Over Message Criticising Muslims

A Leicestershire county councillor is being investigated after distributing a leaflet which criticised Muslims. Earlier this year, Graham Partner — who quit the BNP to sit as an independent — sent out a New Year message to voters in his Coalville division. It featured part of an article from a national newspaper which said victimhood “comes easily” to followers of Islam. The article added: “Every terrorist atrocity, every blood- soaked massacre is justified by reference to imagined grievances. But the greatest persecutors of other faiths are Muslim, themselves. The response from the Western church leaders is deafening silence, afraid to accept that their ideological paradise of multi-cultural, multi-faith, left-wing society is nothing more than a fantasy.”

Two county councillors and two parish councillors lodged a complaint, and the county council’s standards board is now investigating. Conservative Peter Lewis, said: “The leaflet certainly cocked a snook at the county’s equality and human rights policies, and as it was issued in his role as a county councillor, it reflected badly, in my view, on the council.

“It certainly seemed to me designed not to build bridges or foster tolerance but to stir up and fire division and hatred around the same period as the EDL march (which took place in Leicester in February). Mr Partner has resigned from the BNP but has clearly retained its combative posture.” Coun Partner said the complaints were politically motivated, and insisted the leaflet was well-received by people living in his ward. He also said the message was not penned by him, but copied from and attributed to Daily Express columnist Leo McKinstry.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: MPs: We Speak Up for Israel — and Get Death Threats

MPs who have spoken in support of Israel have been forced to limit the information they make available to constituents and take other security precautions after being sent death threats or abusive messages by post, by phone or online, a JC investigation has revealed. Two years after Labour’s Stephen Timms was stabbed by a radicalised student, security remains a key concern, especially for MPs who are vocal about controversial topics such as Israel — and suffer threats as a consequence. Two weeks ago Conservative MP John Howell was forced to seek police protection after becoming the target of a campaign by pro-Palestinians. Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, has been dealing with death threats for a decade. The problem has worsened in recent years and she now receives emails as well as letters.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Playing the Faith Card is a Risky Game

This is something I’ve never said before, but I so agree with George Galloway. His stunning by-election victory last week was the Bradford Spring.

And that’s what worries me and I know for sure it concerns people on all sides of the political divide.

A Labour MP confided in me this week that she was concerned at the possibility of ‘white v brown’ or ‘white v black’ election tensions becoming the norm in Britain.

With Mr Galloway’s victory — made more astonishing by his words of praise for Saddam Hussein and Syria’s President Assad, who must have killed hundreds of thousands of Muslims between them — another problem is looming.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Sentenced to Death for Being Old: The NHS Denies Life-Saving Treatment to the Elderly, As One Man’s Chilling Story Reveals

When Kenneth Warden was diagnosed with terminal bladder cancer, his hospital consultant sent him home to die, ruling that at 78 he was too old to treat.

Even the palliative surgery or chemotherapy that could have eased his distressing symptoms were declared off-limits because of his age.

His distraught daughter Michele Halligan accepted the sad prognosis but was determined her father would spend his last months in comfort. So she paid for him to seen privately by a second doctor to discover what could be done to ease his symptoms.

Thanks to her tenacity, Kenneth got the drugs and surgery he needed — and as a result his cancer was actually cured. Four years on, he is a sprightly 82-year-old who works out at the gym, drives a sports car and competes in a rowing team.

‘You could call his recovery amazing,’ says Michele, 51. ‘It is certainly a gift. But the fact is that he was written off because of his age. He was left to suffer so much, and so unnecessarily.’

Sadly, Kenneth’s story is symptomatic of a dreadful truth. According to shocking new research by Macmillan Cancer Support, every year many thousands of older people are routinely denied life-saving NHS treatments because their doctors write them off as too old to treat.

It is often left to close family members to fight for their rights. But although it is now British law that patients must never be discriminated against on the basis of age, such battles often prove futile.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Tory Cabinet Ministers Ordered to Attend Eid and Diwali Festivals to Appeal to Asian Voters

Tory Cabinet ministers have been ordered to attend Diwali and Eid festivals with Hindu and Muslim voters after being warned they can’t win the next election without increasing the number of Asian voters they attract. George Galloway’s victory in the Bradford West by-election has convinced Conservative high command that they need to do more to reach ethnic minority voters. Ministers and MPs are being quietly told that they need to ‘show their faces’ regularly at ethnic minority and religious festivals over the next three years, rather than simply turning up at election time. The Tories are set to copy a strategy, pioneered by the Conservative Party in Canada, where ministers are expected to report which ethnic minority events they have attended each month. David Cameron’s polling guru Andrew Cooper has identified more than 30 urban seats, with big black and ethnic minority populations, that need to be won to secure a Tory majority in 2015. Mr Cooper has told ministers that polling data shows that while ethnic minority voters most closely associated themselves with Conservative values like the importance of family and law order, they still vote Labour by a majority of 70 to 30.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Tunisia: Should the World Trust Islamists?

by David Rohde

Newly powerful groups in Egypt and Tunisia cannot afford to become Hamas-like international pariahs, but they should be watched closely.

TUNIS — Like it or not, this is the year of the Islamist. Fourteen months after popular uprisings toppled dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, Islamist political parties — religiously conservative groups that oppose the use of violence — have swept interim elections, started rewriting constitutions and become the odds-on favorites to win general elections. Western hopes that more liberal parties would fare well have been dashed. Secular Arab groups are divided, perceived as elitist or enjoy tepid popular support.

But instead of the political process moving forward, a toxic political dynamic is emerging. Aggressive tactics by hardline Muslims generally known as Salafists are sowing division. Moderate Islamists are moving cautiously, speaking vaguely and trying to hold their diverse political parties together. And some Arab liberals are painting dark conspiracy theories.

Ahmed Ounaies, a pro-Western Tunisian politician who briefly served as foreign minister in the country’s post-revolutionary government, said that he no long trusted Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia’s moderate Islamist party. Echoing other secular Tunisians, he said some purportedly moderate Muslim leaders are, in fact, aligned with hardliners.

“We believe that Mr. Ghannouchi is a Salafist,” Ouanies said in an interview. “He is a real supporter of those groups.”

Months after gaining power, moderate Islamists find themselves walking a political tightrope. They are trying to show their supporters that they are different from the corrupt, pro-Western regimes they replaced. They are trying to persuade Western investors and tourists to trust them, return and help revive flagging economies. And they are trying to counter hardline Salafists who threaten to steal some of their conservative support.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Airborne Prayers Problem Solved for Tech-Savvy Muslims

SINGAPORE — As a frequent flier and devout Muslim, businessman Abdalhamid Evans always comes up against the same challenge in the air: when to say his prayers. Muslims are required to pray five times a day at certain hours, but this schedule becomes complicated when crossing various time zones at thousands of metres above sea level. “I usually don’t pray when I am in a plane,” said Evans, the London-based founder of a website that provides information on the global halal, or Islam-compliant, industry. But lately I have been thinking that it is probably better to do them in the air than make them up on arrival,” he told AFP. The problem may be solved for travellers such as Evans thanks to an innovation called the Air Travel Prayer Time Calculator, developed by Singapore-based Crescentrating, a firm that gives halal ratings to hotels and other travel-related establishments. Launched earlier this month, the online tool takes data such as prayer times in the country of origin, the destination city and in countries on the flight path and uses an algorithm to plot exact prayer hours during a flight.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Avalanche Buries 130 Pakistani Soldiers in Kashmir on ‘World’s Highest Battlefield’ Near Indian Border

A race against time is under way to save to save 130 Pakistani soldiers buried today in an avalanche on the ‘world’s highest battlefield’.

The incident happened early this morning on the Siachen Glacier, a Himalayan region close to India where thousands of Pakistani and Indian troops are based.

A security official said snow engulfed a battalion headquarters in the Gayari district.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Far East

Fukushima Reactor 4: Life on Planet Earth in the Balance

Diplomat Akio Matsumura is warning that the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan may ultimately turn into an event capable of extinguishing all life on Earth.

Matsumura posted a startling entry on his blog following a statement made by Japan’s former ambassador to Switzerland, Mitsuhei Murata, on the situation at Fukushima.


He then said the 11,138 spent fuel assemblies stored at the Fukushima plant contain “134 million curies is Cesium-137 — roughly 85 times the amount of Cs-137 released at the Chernobyl accident as estimated by the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

British Embassy Staff Withdrawn From Mali as Islamic Insurgents Declare Independence

Staff were today being withdrawn from the British Embassy in troubled Mali in the wake of the military coup, as insurgent Islamic fundamentalists declared it an independent nation.

The Foreign Office said the temporary measure would limit the UK’s ability to help Britons who chose to remain in the Saharan state against official advice.

As British nationals fled the desert nation, Tuareg rebels, who seized control of the country’s north in the chaotic aftermath of the coup, today declared independence for what they called the Azawad nation.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Sharia: Amputee Seeks N20,000 to Revive Chicken Trade

Gusau-The second and last person so far to be amputated for stealing under the Islamic legal system in Zamfara State, Mallam Lawali Isa, has said he needs N20,000 to start his chicken-selling business. Isa, who was amputated 11 years ago, on May 3, 2001, at Gumi General Hospital, Zamfara State, during the adminstration of Senator Sani Yerima, was spoted at a local market in Gumi where he spoke to Vanguard. He admitted that although he stole three sets of bicycles from a shop in the state, his amputation was political. He said: “At that time, the then governor, Alhaji Sani Yerima, introduced Sharia, and all of us agreed to its implementation. They preached that whoever stole would have his hand amputated. Unfortunately for me, I became a victim having stolen sets of brand new bicycles. I was arrested and arraigned at the Sharia Court after investigation. But, at the Gusau Prison, where I was kept in custody before the amputation, human rights groups were always visiting and fighting that I should not be amputated. ‘They told me they will stand by me and that I should resist the amputation. I was equally under pressure from the then Zamfara State Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Alhaji Ibrahim Wakala, now the state Deputy Governor and Malam Aliyu Sani Jangebe, the then head of the anti-corruption commission. They all preached to me when they visited, after the human rights group had left and told me I should accept the will of Allah if I know that I am a true Muslim. They quoted some verses from the Holy Koran and tried to convince me on why I had to be amputated and concluded by saying, however, I was free to follow whoever I liked if I would not listen to them. By that time, I had never set my eyes on the person called Governor Yerima. Yes, I broke into somebody’s shop and took some bicycles. It was nine units of bicycles packed three sets of three packets. I had successfully sold two sets; it was in the process of selling the last set that I was apprehended”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Triumphant Tuareg Rebels Fall Out Over Al-Qaeda’s Jihad in Mali

The rebels, armed with weapons stolen from Muammar Gaddafi’s formidable arsenal, took over an area of the Sahara as big as France in an astonishing 72 hours, taking advantage of the chaotic aftermath of an army coup.

Few of the people they promised to free waited to find out what freedom would be like. Instead, an estimated 250,000 people left their homes, terrified families fleeing with their children and possessions. Many told tales of looting and rape by rebels who now control a vast area in the heart of Africa.

Foreign governments were left scrambling to find out exactly who the rebels were, amid fears that a base for al-Qaeda will now be set up in the Sahara similar to ones in lawless parts of Pakistan and Somalia.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

A Society That Persecutes Christ is Heading for Terrible Trouble

by Charles Moore

Politicians in the West — and atheists — ignore at their peril the benefits and power of organised religion.

This week before Easter, I chanced upon the following two quotations. The first says: “Not for 2,000 years has it been possible for society to exclude or eliminate Christ from its social or political life without a terrible social or political consequence.” The second says: “Religion taught by a prophet or by a preacher of the truth is the only foundation on which to build a great and powerful empire.” The first is by Margaret Thatcher, opening her foreword to a book called Christianity and Conservatism, which appeared in 1990. The second appears in Tom Holland’s outstanding new book In the Shadow of the Sword (Little, Brown), which traces the rise of Islam from the ruins of the Roman and Persian empires. It comes from Ibn Khaldun, the great Muslim historian and political counsellor of the 14th century.

The grocer’s daughter from Grantham and the sage from Tunis seem, despite their differences of faith and time, to be saying something comparable. I found myself asking a simple question about both statements: are they, factually, right? Note that neither is insisting — though they probably believe that it is — that what the religious leader preaches is necessarily true. Note, too, that neither is saying that a religion, let alone a religious organisation such as a church, should hold political power. But what they are saying is something like the message of the parable of the house built on rock and the house built on sand. They have seen a good bit of how the world works: they recommend building on rock.

Both remarks would probably not be made by secular public figures in the West today. Mrs Thatcher’s words were written only 22 years ago, when she was still prime minister, but her successors — though all four of them have been highly favourable to Christianity — would shy away from the toughness of her claim. They prefer to confine themselves to saying nice things about Jesus (He had “incomparable compassion, generosity, grace, humility and love”, said David Cameron this week), rather than to suggest that anything bad might happen if His teaching is ignored. As for old Mr Khaldun, well, we’re not supposed to be in favour of great and powerful empires anyway, so let’s not go there.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Melinda Gates: Worrying About Population Control “Has Led to Much Suffering and Death”

In a twisted exercise in deceiving semantics Co-chair and trustee of the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation Melinda Gates attempted to counter the growing criticism in regards to the Foundation’s efforts in the Third World. During a speech she gave at the TEDx Change in Berlin yesterday, the wife of Microsoft founder and “philanthropist” Bill Gates characterised all criticism of the Foundation’s adventures in the third world as dangerous, especially the charge that the foundation is actively but covertly involved in population control. Gates described the charge as so dangerous in fact, that the criticism”has led to much suffering and death.”


Speaking of “code” at a 2006 gathering of top globalists devoted to the “family planning agenda” under the umbrella-name “Demographic Dynamics and Socio-Economic Development”, professor of Medical Demography at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, John Cleland, admitted to the fact that they should cease using coded language when communicating to the general public. The gathering was attended by the usual suspects. Representatives were present of the United Nations Population Fund, the International Planned Parenthood Foundation, the European Commission, the World Bank and, last but not least, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“No more shrouding our statements in code.”, the professor said. “Because code just confuses people.”, the professor said (page 33 in the document).

Cleland went on to say: “It does this cause no service at all to continue to shroud family planning in the obfuscating phrase “sexual and reproductive health”. People don’t really know what it means. If we mean family planning or contraception, we must say it. If we are worried about population growth, we must say it. We must use proper, straightforward language. I am fed up with the political correctness that daren’t say the name population stabilization, hardly dares to mention family planning or contraception out of fear that somebody is going to get offended. It is pathetic!”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Baa Baa Little Sheep: How Private School Abandoned Nursery Rhyme’s Lyrics for Easter Show Sparking Political Correctness Accusations

Quite what the little boy who lives down the lane would make of it is open to conjecture.

But parents at one school made their feelings plain when they heard their children reciting ‘Baa Baa Little Sheep’.

They accused the £2,700-a-term Park Hill primary school of changing the words from ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ for the sake of political correctness.


Andrea Craig, a councillor whose son sang in the show, tweeted: ‘At my son’s Easter concert I saw a song called Baa Baa Little Sheep which I assumed was new. Not so — not allowed black. Really?’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


How Muslims View Easter

by Rollo Romig

Jesus didn’t die on the cross. He was born of a virgin, but he isn’t the son of God. He did not redeem the sins of humankind. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and raised the dead. He spoke complete sentences even as an infant in the cradle, announcing to his mother, Mary, that God had granted him the scripture and made him a prophet. Jesus is neither almighty nor eternal. Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is a Muslim. This is the Jesus of the Koran. Ninety-three of its verses refer to him-more than any other prophet save Muhammad-and the Koranic account of Jesus’ life harmonizes with the Gospels in more particulars than even many Muslims realize. My wife is a Muslim with years of madrassa education behind her, but when I mentioned Jesus’ virgin birth to her she was skeptical. “Does the Koran really say that?” she asked. I started to look it up, but five seconds later she waved me off. “Don’t bother,” she said, “I found it on Wikipedia.” And so it was written.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

In the Shadow of the Sword by Tom Holland — Review

by Anthony Sattin

The life of Muhammad and the rise of Islam are boldly re-examined in this brilliantly provocative history

In 706AD the caliph al-Walid decided to commission a building as a centrepiece for his new capital, Damascus. Only 74 years had passed since the death of the prophet Muhammad; the Arabs’ new empire was still in the making, and there was no such thing as imperial Islamic architecture. The caliph found inspiration for his mosque in both Christian and pagan temple architecture. And while he built it on the site of one of the greatest of all Roman temples, demolishing the Christian church that stood inside the precincts, he incorporated many of the Roman stones, as well as the tomb of John the Baptist. For decoration, he brought Byzantine craftsmen over to piece together the vast gold mosaics.

The idea of borrowing is untroubling in architecture — we expect to see continuity and evolution in buildings. But the idea that religions evolve out of one another is more disturbing. Christians have choked on the notion that many of their rituals were borrowed from pagan rites. And heaven help the historian who dares to suggest that Islam might be a product of earlier religions and not, as the faithful insist, a revelation direct from God. Tom Holland has done exactly this in his brilliantly provocative new book — and we must hope that heaven is smiling on him now.


The Qur’an anticipated the day of Holland’s coming (or someone very like him). Sura 25 instructs Muslims to counter the claim that “these are fables of the ancients which he has got someone to write down for him” with the insistence that it was “revealed by Him Who knows every secret”. For believers, these words are proof enough of the veracity of the Qur’an. Some have gone further and used them as justification for intellectual, legal and physical attacks on people who claim otherwise. The lives of some people who have dared to question the historicity of the prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an have been ruined, even ended. We must hope that Holland is spared their wrath and that his excellent book will be lauded, as it should be, for doing what the best sort of books can do — examining holy cows.

Anthony Sattin’s A Winter on the Nile and Lifting the Veil are both out in paperback

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Interview: Tom Holland on the Origins of Islam

by Daisy Dunn

In the fifth century BC Herodotus of Halicarnassus set out a history of hostilities between the Greeks and the Persians. For all his quirky non-sequiturs (Ethiopians’ skin is black, so must be their semen…) he fulfilled his not-so-modest objective to immortalize the deeds of Greeks and non-Greeks alike, in particular, the reason they warred against one another. Tom Holland (who is, incidentally, in the process of translating Herodotus’ Histories) evokes more than a little of this spirit in his new book, In the Shadow of the Sword, an intrepid history of the evolution of the Arab Empire.

From Rubicon to Persian Fire and Millennium Holland has hurtled through ancient history like a runaway horse on a hippodrome. The new book, which has taken five years to complete, was apparently just the next, inevitable hurdle, ‘There was an obvious gap, having written about the Persian Empire and about the transformation from the Roman world to the Medieval world in Europe, to look at what had happened in the East — the collapse of the Persian Empire there, the truncation of the Roman Empire, and to treat the coming of Islam as the falling of the Roman Empire in the East, I thought, would be an interesting take.’ He suggests in his book that Islam’s evolution and final construction as an orthodoxy was part of a long process; that, far from springing up in isolation, it developed out of a melting pot of cultures — the kind of pot that subsequently shattered into a pile of glue-repellent shards, ‘It’s become very fashionable to speak about Abrahamic faiths, and historically it’s tended to be Muslims who’ve been keen on that idea because it gets them into the Judeo-Christian private members’ club, but I think that if you try to look at where Islam might have come from as part of an evolutionary process, and you set aside the notion that it somehow evolved spontaneously in the middle of the desert, it’s actually clear that it’s very much part of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and that all these religions are really products of the same cultural milieu.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]