Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120720

Financial Crisis
»15 Arrested in Spain After Massive Protests
»Italy: ‘Real’ Taxation Rate at 55 Percent Due to Black Economy Say Retailers
»Italy: Govt Set to Dissolve 64 Provincial Governments
»“Batman” Shooting: Warner Brothers Releases Statement
»Batman Shooting: Bloomberg Urges Gun Control After Colorado Attack
»Becket Fund Publishes Open Letter Defending Murfreesboro Islamic Center
»Democrats’ Ideal Voter: Illegal Alien: Convicted Felon
»Fort Hood Report Shows FBI Missteps
»Gunman Wearing Gas Mask Shoots 14 People Dead at Screening of the Dark Knight Rises
»Huma Abedin and the Muslim Brotherhood: Bachmann vs. McCain
»Mass Shooting at Batman Screening in Denver Suburb, Aurora, Colorado
»Michele Bachmann vs. Huma Abedin: ‘The Ramadan Conspiracy’
»Morgan Freeman Gives 1 Million to Re-Elect Obama
»Republicans Must Speak Out Against Attacks on Our Muslim Fellow Citizens
»Twin Cities Area Mosques Encourage Non-Muslims to Take Part in Traditional Ramadan Meals
Europe and the EU
»Anti-Israel Bomber in Bulgaria Was Released From Gitmo Thanks to Left
»Is Europe’s Fault Line Religious or Linguistic?
»Italy: Ally Investigated for Extorting Money From Berlusconi
»Mega-Mosques: “Building a French Islam”
»Ramadan: In France a 350 Million Euro Business
»Spain: A Half Million Muslims Begin Ramadan
»There’s a Place for Euro-Heretics Too
»UK: Advice on Hand for Healthy Fasting During Ramadan
»UK: British Muslims Usher in the Holy Month of Ramadan
»UK: Freak Pavement Explosions Have Injured at Least Seven People in London
»UK: Ramadan Mubarak 2012 C.E. / 1433 Hijri
»UK: Teenager Shouts ‘Allah is Great’ In Arabic as He Tries to Grab the Olympic Flame From Hands of Terrified Torch Bearer
»Kosovo: President Vows to Tame Northern Serb Municipalities
Israel and the Palestinians
»Mahmoud Abbas Thanks Italy for Helping the Palestinians
»Pregnant Woman Named Among Israelis Killed in Bulgaria
Middle East
»Deadliest Day in Syria as Army Makes Gains in Damascus
»Israel Threatens a ‘Heavy Price’ For Iran After Deadly Bulgaria Bus Bomb
»Syrian Army Shells Mosque, Killing 7 — Activists
South Asia
»India: Growing Religious Intolerance Against Christians
»Pakistan: British Government to Match Fund Donations to Charity Appeal for Schools in Kashmir
»Ramadan’s Start Marred by Bomb Blasts in Thailand
»Two Killed in Southern Thailand as Ramadan Starts
»Muslims Prepare for Toughest Ramadan in Over Three Decades

Financial Crisis

15 Arrested in Spain After Massive Protests

Police say 15 people were arrested and 39 people injured overnight in central Madrid after tens of thousands of people took part in a demonstration to protest the conservative government’s latest austerity package. Police fired rubber bullets to disperse groups of protesters in streets in and around the Spanish Parliament building. The protesters set fire to garbage containers and threw cans and other objects at the police.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘Real’ Taxation Rate at 55 Percent Due to Black Economy Say Retailers

Rome, 19 July (AKI) — Italian citizens are shouldering the heaviest ‘real’ tax burden in the world at 55 percent of earnings amid the highest tax evasion rates of any country, retail association Confcommercio said Thursday.

Italy’s black economy amounts to 17.5 percent gross domestic product, driving up the ‘real’ taxation rate for law-abiding citizens to 55 percent, far higher than the 45.2 percent rate cited by official figures, Confcommercio said in a report.

“This drastically weighs down investment and consumption,” said Confcommercio president Carlo Sangalli.

Italy’s already high taxes have been raised further by the technocrat administration of premier Mario Monti appointed last November to get Italy’s massive public debt under control.

Consumers will spend around 38 billion euros less as a result of value-added tax increases between 2011 and 2014 and gross domestic product per capita will fall back to 1999 levels, Sangalli warned.

Italy’s notoriously inefficient justice system, a perception that the quality of public services are is “not worth” the taxes levied on citizens, and bureaucratic tax regulations contribute to widespread evasion, the report concludes.

The president of Italy’s Banking Association said last week taxation levels had reached “unsustainable” levels for households in the recession-hit country.

After Italy, Denmark had the second highest real tax burden at 48.6 percent, followed by France (48.2 percent) and Sweden (48 percent), the report said.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Italy: Govt Set to Dissolve 64 Provincial Governments

Cabinet ‘saves’ 43 authorities

(ANSA) — Rome, July 20 — The government is set to dissolve 64 of Italy’s 107 provincial governments, assigning their functions to regional authorities as part of efforts by Premier Mario Monti’s administration to save public money.

The Cabinet on Friday decided to ‘save’ 43 provincial authories, including 10 in the areas surrounding big Italian cities, government sources said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


“Batman” Shooting: Warner Brothers Releases Statement

After a shooting in a Colorado theater killed at least a dozen people and injured more than 50 during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” Warner Brothers, the studio that produced the film, issued a statement on Friday: “Warner Bros. is deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Batman Shooting: Bloomberg Urges Gun Control After Colorado Attack

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is calling on President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to respond to the mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., by detailing their plans to improve gun control.

In his weekly WOR Radio appearance Friday, Bloomberg said that “soothing words are nice.” But he said it’s time to hear the presidential candidates “stand up and tell us what they’re going to do about it.”

Bloomberg heads up a coalition of American mayors who support tighter gun control. The group has lobbied for stronger enforcement of existing laws meant to prevent criminals and the mentally ill from buying weapons.

Bloomberg says the attack in a suburban Denver movie theater is a reminder that gun violence isn’t just an inner-city, big-city phenomenon.

At least 12 people were killed and at least 50 people wounded in Friday morning’s shooting at the theater.

Federal law enforcement officials say the suspect in Friday’s shooting is James Holmes, a 24-year-old American.

Officials believe Holmes was wearing a gas mask and set off an unknown gas in the theater. Holmes is in police custody, and the FBI says there is no indication that the incident is tied to any terrorist groups.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Becket Fund Publishes Open Letter Defending Murfreesboro Islamic Center

No congregation should have its right of religious liberty curtailed solely because some of its neighbors disapprove of its religious beliefs.

In 2010, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro sought to build a new mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where they could worship God in peace on their own property. Although it made every effort to reach out to its neighbors in friendship, the congregation was subjected to a campaign of protest and violence, including vandalism, a bomb threat, and even arson.

This campaign of violence was accompanied by a legal campaign in which the congregation’s opponents claimed that the Muslim religion — one of the world’s largest — was not really a religion, but a political movement seeking to impose “sharia” on the United States. As a result of the legal battle, a local judge has issued a ruling forbidding the congregation from entering its newly completed building. After years of following both the letter and the spirit of the law, the congregation is again seeking permission to use its building — this time in the hope that it will be permitted to do so before the start of Ramadan.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Democrats’ Ideal Voter: Illegal Alien: Convicted Felon

Before taking the oath of office, Barack Obama vowed to fundamentally transform the United States. He has certainly done so. For example, Obama has:

  • destroyed the job market;
  • sent billions of taxpayer dollars to Wall Street, companies overseas, his campaign contributors and public sector unions;
  • forced the passage of a wildly unpopular national health care law on a purely partisan vote;
  • come out for gay marriage;
  • refused to enforce laws on illegal immigration;
  • eliminated the work requirement for welfare.

How can a country that elected Ronald Reagan have Obama tied in the polls with Mitt Romney?

The answer is: It’s not the same country.

Similarly, when two successful, attractive multimillionaire women in California can’t beat a geriatric leftist like Jerry Brown or an old prune like Barbara Boxer, that’s not the same state that elected Ronald Reagan twice, either.

The same process that has already destroyed California is working its way through the entire country.

While conservatives have been formulating carefully constructed arguments, liberals have been playing a long-term game to change the demographics of America to get an electorate more to their liking.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Fort Hood Report Shows FBI Missteps

The nearly 20 often-rambling emails that an Army psychiatrist sent to Yemeni terror leader Anwar al-Awlaki painted a confusing picture. In some he was a believer intent on supporting terrorists and intrigued with the idea of U.S. soldiers killing comrades in the name of Islam. In others he was a man looking for help finding an appropriate wife. In the end, they weren’t enough for the FBI to identify Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan as a terrorist threat or, as it would turn out, as a man who now stands accused of the shooting spree at Fort Hood that killed 13 and wounded 23 others in November 2009.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Gunman Wearing Gas Mask Shoots 14 People Dead at Screening of the Dark Knight Rises

At least fourteen people have been killed in a gun attack at a midnight screening of the latest Batman movie, US police said today. Police in Aurora, Colorado, have confirmed a shooting at the cinema, and said one suspected gunman was taken into custody. Up to 50 people are feared injured. Police spokeswoman Cassidee Carlson says “the scene is still very active and we have little information for release at this time”. Swedish Medical Centre spokeswoman Nicole Williams said two people injured at the cinema in the Denver suburb arrived at the hospital in critical condition. Local radio said a gunman in a gas mask opened fire at the cinema and set off a smoke or tear gas canister. Reporter Brenda Stuart said movie-goers thought the attack was part of the film at first. She told Sky News: “A lot of people thought the gunshots were part of the movie.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Huma Abedin and the Muslim Brotherhood: Bachmann vs. McCain

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is at the center of a firestorm over her request that the State, Homeland Security, Defense and Justice Departments, investigate potential “policies and activities that appear to be the result of influence operations conducted by individuals and organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.” This is an entirely legitimate call, as Bachmann abundantly illustrated in a 16-page letter to Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), laying out the reasons for her concerns. Yet even Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who should know better, has upbraided Bachmann, criticizing her for including Hillary Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, among those she noted for having Brotherhood ties.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Mass Shooting at Batman Screening in Denver Suburb, Aurora, Colorado

A gas mask-wearing gunman opened fire early Friday at a suburban Denver movie theater, leaving at least 14 people dead and 50 others injured, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said.

The violent and chaotic scene erupted about 12:30 a.m. local time as a gunman stood at the front of one of the Century 16 theaters at the Aurora Mall where the latest Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” was playing, police said.

“Witnesses tell us he released some sort of canister. They heard a hissing sound and some gas emerged and the gunman opened fire,” Oates said at a news conference.

Police, ambulances and emergency crews swarmed on the scene after frantic calls started flooding the 911 switchboard, officials said.

Officers found the gunman near a car behind the theater.

“A gas mask, rifle, handgun at least one additional weapon (were) found inside” he said. CBS News senior correspondent John Miller reported one of the weapons was an AK-47 assault rifle.

The suspect was taken into custody, but no name was released. Oates said there’s no evidence of any other attackers. There was also no immediate word of any motive. Federal law enforcement officials are being briefed on the attack, but at this point, there is no indication it is terrorism-related, Miller reports.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Michele Bachmann vs. Huma Abedin: ‘The Ramadan Conspiracy’

By Arsalan Iftikhar

In the warped universe where this American currently resides, there remains only one heroic person brave enough to save our beloved United States from secretly being taken over by a falafel-eating, Mecca-praying and Ramadan-fasting cabal of sinister Muslims duplicitously bent upon imposing Islamic sharia law upon our golden shores. Nope, the hero of this story is not Jason Bourne. Her name is actually Michele Bachmann.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Morgan Freeman Gives 1 Million to Re-Elect Obama

(AGI) Washington — The Oscar-winning Morgan Freeman left a check for 1 million dollars to support Barack Obama’ re-election effort. The actor, 75, contributed that amount to the pro-Obama Super Pac ‘Priorities USA Action’. “President Obama has done a remarkable job in terrible circumstances. I for one am proud to lend my voice — and support — to those who defend him”, Freeman said.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Republicans Must Speak Out Against Attacks on Our Muslim Fellow Citizens

by Tom Rogan

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Solemn Law. Words that too many Republicans are ignoring. On June 13th, a number of Republican members of the House, led by Michele Bachmann, sent letters to various federal agencies, asking them to conduct internal investigations toward preventing a supposed Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy against the United States. Yesterday, on the floor of the Senate, John McCain spoke out against an attack on the dignity of an aide to Secretary of State Clinton who was targeted in Bachmann’s letter to the State Department. As McCain put it, “When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation, and we all grow poorer because of it.” Senator McCain is right. This attack was unjustified (based on a report written by a wacko), immoral and symptomatic of a casual and idiotic anti-Islamic sentiment that has crept into Republican dialogue.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Twin Cities Area Mosques Encourage Non-Muslims to Take Part in Traditional Ramadan Meals

Ramadan begins today after sundown. And as part of the month-long holy event for Muslims, Twin Cities area mosques and Islamic centers plan to host a series of Ramadan dinners welcoming their non-Muslim neighbors. People of all faiths are invited to the traditional Ramadan fast-breaking meals known as iftars. The Minnesota Council of Churches — which has been involved in interfaith programming for more than two decades — is also helping organize the meals. “Last year more than 350 guests attended an Iftar during Ramadan. We hope this year will be even bigger”, said Gail Anderson, a director with the Council of Churches, in a released statement. “We hope that people who have never had an opportunity to visit a mosque before will come join us for dinner at a mosque in their neighborhood.” Ramadan is the month on the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunup to sundown. The fast is performed to learn discipline, self-restraint and generosity.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Anti-Israel Bomber in Bulgaria Was Released From Gitmo Thanks to Left

Leftists who hate Israel can rejoice; their efforts at securing the release of a Gitmo detainee and their subsequent lionizing of him allowed him to murder five Israelis in the bombing Wednesday in Burgas, Bulgarian. The bomber has been identified as Mehdi Ghezali, who was detained at Gitmo Bay in Cuba from 2002 to 2004.

According to Wikileaks documents, Ghazali was “uncooperative, unforthcoming and deceptive during interrogations.” His father had met with Abdolrahman Barzanjee, an Al Qaeda associate and possible Ansar Al-Islam coordinator for Europe (Ansar Al-Islam is a group of Sunni Muslims trying to turn Iraq into an Islamist state), and Ghazali was friends with a Swedish operative who was a close associate of Abu Zubadayah, a high-ranking official with Al Qaeda. Ghazali, who was a Swedish citizen, was visited by members of the Swedish government frequently while he was in custody at Gitmo, and the Swedish media played up his incarceration. While Ghezali was detained at Gitmo, he was featured in the documentary Gitmo — The New Rules of War, a film that savaged Guantanamo Bay detention camp by film directors Erik Gandini and Tarik Saleh.


[JP note: See also this where US and Swedish officials deny reports that the Bulgarian bomber is an ex-Gitmo detainee ]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Is Europe’s Fault Line Religious or Linguistic?

by Ed West

Is Catholicism to blame for the euro disaster? Many people have speculated on the religious fault line that runs through Europe between its Protestant north and Catholic south, including me, and how it’s mainly the latter who are in desperate trouble. There’s a piece on the BBC website which looks at Germany’s Protestant instincts and the impact it has on its attitudes to money. Chris Bowlby asks: “But could Protestant and Catholic leaders have deep-seated instincts that lead them to pull the eurozone in different directions, until it breaks?”

Certainly the table of debt risk shows that Catholic countries are way ahead in terms of financial trouble, behind only Orthodox Greece, its runaway debt leader. And if you look at an expanded list, one sees that Cyprus, the eurozone’s only other Orthodox state, is in third place behind Catholic Portugal.

Another way of looking at this is through the Corruption Perception Index, which both reflects cultural attitudes to money, and affects finance and politics. Of the nine traditionally Christian countries in the top 10, five are majority Protestant and four are overwhelmingly Protestant; the tenth, Singapore, was a former colony of a Protestant power. The least corrupt Catholic country is Luxembourg, at 11, which is a less a state than a bank with an off-licence attached.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Italy: Ally Investigated for Extorting Money From Berlusconi

Palermo, 18 July (AKI) — Marcello Dell’Utri, a former top aide to Silvio Berlusconi’s is being probed by Palermo magistrates for allegedly extorting money from Italy’s former prime minister, judicial sources said Wednesday.

The billionaire media-magnate was summoned by Palermo prosecutors for questioning about the case on Monday but Berlusconi failed to show up, claiming he could not attend as he was hosting a economics conference.

Berlusconi’s daughter Marina has also reportedly been called up by Palermo prosecutors for questioning as an”informed witness”.

Prosecutors are keen to quiz Berlusconi on expenditure he made on Dell’Utri’s behalf including 21 million euros for a villa Lake Como worth nine million euros and “interest-free loans” to Dell’Utri.

Dell’Utri, a conservative senator is set to have a retrial after receiving a seven-year jail sentence for abetting the mafia.

Italy’s top appeals court in March ordered the retrial, saying he had not received a fair trial.

But in its explanation of the decision to order a retrial, the Court of Cassation said there was evidence that Dell’Utri had acted as intermediary with the mafia for Berlusconi, handing it “substantial sums” of so-called protection money.

Dell’Utri co-founded with Berlusconi the Forza Italia party in 1993, which later merged with the far-right National Alliance to become the People of Freedom.

The son of late mafia member and mayor of Palermo, Vito Cianciamino, Massimo Ciancimino, in 2010 testified in open court that Forza Italia resulted from a deal with the Sicilian mafia.

Dell’Utri had direct dealings with jailed Sicilian boss Bernardo Provenzano and was involved in secret negotiations with the Sicilian mob after it murdered a top anti-mafia judge in 1992, Ciancimino claimed.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Mega-Mosques: “Building a French Islam”

by Soeren Kern

The Socialist government in France has inaugurated a new mega-mosque in Paris as a first step towards “progressively building a French Islam.” The new mosque, located in the northern Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise, is not only vast in its dimensions (photo here), but is also highly visible and symbolic: its towering minaret, which has purposely been designed to change the suburb’s skyline by being taller than any church steeple in the neighborhood, is supposed to become the “new symbol of Islam in France.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Ramadan: In France a 350 Million Euro Business

Family budgets +30%, supermarkets woo Muslims

(ANSAmed) — Paris, July 20 — Ramadan began Friday morning in France, but many supermarkets began wooing Muslim customers days ago. In the month of fasting, France’s Muslims — a community of roughly five million people — spend the most in food products. According to a study by Paris-based ethnic market study firm Solis, Ramadan represents a 350 million euro business for major retail stores in France. During the month of Ramadan, a family that respects dawn-to-dusk fasting — broken with a generous evening feast — spends on average 30% more than in any other month of the year. All “halal” products — food that is permitted under Muslim code — sell better. Meat, dairy products, dates, and middle-eastern pastries fly off store shelves, as do grains, chocolate bars and fruit juices — for their sugar content. In addition, the percentage of observant French Muslims is on the rise. French polling firm IFOP found that 71% of Muslims in France observe Ramadan compared to 60% in 1989. The Ramadan business is concentrated in big cities with large Muslim communities, like Paris, Lyons and Marseilles, where food companies seek to seduce through advertisig, new products and special deals. A sign in the halal department of French supermarket chain Carrefour reads “Ramadan special — Discover a thousand and one flavors”.

The Casino group, the first to create a house halal brand — “Wassila” — distributed six million flyers and catalogues for Ramadan this year, and introduced 23 new halal products, like pizza, sandwiches and pre-cooked products. For the first time the market leader in halal cold cuts, Isla Delice, invested in a national television ad.

“Our objective is to wish a good Ramadan to our customers.

In terms of image for us, it is important to be present in this period” Casino’s managing director Jean-Daniel Hertzog told reporters. The company is growing by 8% to 10% per year.

“Ramadan is the best moment for supermarkets to test new ranges of halal products, communicating on their festive character more than religious. For them the stakes are high.

It’s about recovering millions of people who generally prefer to do their shopping in small neighborhood shops,” anthropologist Florence Bergaurd-Blackler of the University Aix-Marseille told Le Figaro.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: A Half Million Muslims Begin Ramadan

(ANSAmed) — Rome, July 20 — More than a half million Muslims living in Spain on Friday begin Ramadan, which again this year occurs during summer’s high temperatures.

The religious period requires fasting from sunrise to sunset which, coupled with the hot summer, can be difficult for many.

In statements to the media, the director of Granada’s mosque, Ahmed Bermejo, has noted that children, the elderly, women who are pregnant or breast feeding, are all exempt from fasting for health reasons.

Muslin religious leaders living in Spain have been discussing the exceptions to fasting for faithful Muslims — especially workers whose jobs involve intense physical exertion as well as people with diabetes.

In such cases, a highly restricted diet during Spain’s high temperatures — which hit above 38 degrees C in the south of the country — must be followed under strict control of a doctor.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

There’s a Place for Euro-Heretics Too

De Groene Amsterdammer Amsterdam

MEPs and public servants in Brussels are frequently stereotyped as members of a “religion”. This is because they live in a blanket pro-European environment, writes a Dutch journalist. But different voices are now being heard.

Philip Ebels

Derk-Jan Eppink is a heretic. The conservative Member of the European Parliament does not believe in the basic principle of European integration, that of “ever closer union between the peoples of Europe”, as laid down in the treaties since 1957.

Eppink — a Dutchman holding a seat for a Belgian party — is one of the most outspoken critics. “Everyone who comes here is expected to support that view,” he says. Those that do not, are non-believers — “heretics” — and are treated like pariahs. “We are given dirty looks as soon as we start to speak. The federalists leave the room or start to talk to each other. We are also given less speaking time. Daniel Cohn-Bendit [co-president of the Green EU parliamentary group], often exceeds the allotted time and there is no intervention. If we do that the gavel comes down.”

The comparison with religion is only slightly exaggerated. Brussels is another world, where many people are zealously committed to the happy tidings of a united Europe. A world where the mention of any other belief — in a purely economic union or, God forbid, in no union at all — is set aside as dark primitivism.

This is particularly the case in the European Parliament, Eppink’s arena. The majority are definitely more pro-European than party members at home. They are always in favour of, never against the transfer of more power. Right now they are first in line to argue in favour of the introduction of eurobonds and other community measures to solve the crisis.

“Brussels changes you”

This can undoubtedly be explained by the fact that the more Europhile among them are inclined to move to Brussels. Part of the explanation is also found in the fact that the less Europhile among them tend to convert as time goes by. “They go native,” in the words of a high-ranking public servant. Eppink: “Brussels changes you, as if you have been touched by the hand of God.”…

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

UK: Advice on Hand for Healthy Fasting During Ramadan

Muslim residents in the borough are being advised about healthy fasting during Ramadan, which is expected to start in the UK on Friday 20 July 2012 for one lunar month. Dr Chris Duffy, Clinical Chairman, NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group said: “During the holy month of Ramadan, your diet should not differ very much from your normal diet and should be as simple as possible. “If you follow a well balanced diet, fasting can be good for your health and it can also help you kick some of those bad habits, like smoking for example. There are many different types of free support available from the NHS to help you quit smoking including your local NHS stop smoking service.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: British Muslims Usher in the Holy Month of Ramadan

For 30 days, Muslims will observe fast from dawn until dusk

  • Muslims will focus on spirituality and good works for all
  • British Muslim charities set to raise record amounts for poor

The Muslim Council (MCB) would like to extend its warmest wishes to all for a blessed and spiritual Ramadan. From tomorrow*, many British Muslims will welcome in the holy month of Ramadan. For the next 30 days, they will be joined by Muslims from all over the world, who will not eat or drink from dawn to dusk. Ramadan also coincides with the London 2012 Olympics, and many Muslims will be extending the virtues of good works and compassion to the celebrations.

Spiritual roots

Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed, and many Muslims focus their time to develop the qualities of ‘God-consciousness’, compassion and discipline. Mosques around the country will be full of worshippers, particularly during (extra) night prayers.

Remembering the poor

As many Muslims abstain from food and drink for long hours, they remember those who cannot afford to feed themselves. British Muslim charities affiliated to the Muslim Council will attempt to raise record amounts for the poor and needy around the world.


Ramadan is a wonderful time to become active in reaching out through acts of charity and service. It is through selfless acts of devotion and giving in charity that one attains closeness to God. Many mosques will be opening their doors to the public and inviting in neighbours, regardless of faith, to join them in evening meals to break the fast. In this regard, the Muslim Council is facilitating ‘Iftar with a star’ events across London where affiliated mosques and community centres will hold iftar events inviting many athletes to come and join. Youth will be invited for these events to inspire and encourage them to get active and get more involved.

It is also delighted to support the ‘Citizen’s Iftar’ and the Ramadan Festival, which are fantastic initiatives to bring people of all faiths and communities together in the spirit of giving.

“Sharing and inviting is truly the best way to counter ignorance and hatred, fear and misrepresentation,” said Farooq Murad, secretary general of the Muslim Council. “And as Ramadan is about neighbourliness, we must use this holy month to remember those most at need here in the UK.”

Staying Healthy

As Ramadan now falls in summer months, those fasting will have to do so for 18 hours. This year, the Muslim Council has also set out many practical guidelines on health and well-being during Ramadan. It is important that whilst Muslims observe the fast, health is not ignored. The Council has issued a ‘Ramadan Health Fact Sheet’ that has been circulated to chaplains across hospitals in the UK, as well as a guidance document on ‘What to consider when processing, preparing and serving food in the holy month of Ramadan’ to all MCB affiliates as well as mosques in the UK. The MCB will also be publishing a document highlighting the health risks and important information for diabetic people wishing to fast this Ramadan. Please visit for more information.

To find out more about Ramadan and events taking place in your area, please visit

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Freak Pavement Explosions Have Injured at Least Seven People in London

Justin Davenport, Crime Editor

A series of pavement explosions has injured at least seven pedestrians in London in recent months, the Standard can reveal today. One pensioner is now suing a power supply company after he was left seriously injured by an explosion under a manhole in a London street. Details of his case have emerged just weeks after a woman pedestrian suffered 20 per cent burns in a similar freak explosion in Edgware Road. Colin Wingate, 75, was left in a wheelchair for nearly three months after the blast blew out a manhole cover he was standing on while chatting to friends. He contacted the Standard after reading in the paper of the ordeal of the pedestrians in Edgware Road.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Ramadan Mubarak 2012 C.E. / 1433 Hijri

The Muslim Council of Britain extends its wishes to all for a peaceful and blessed month of Ramadan.

For the next 29 to 30 days, Muslims will fast from sunrise to sunset, offering prayers and gratitude to God. This blessed month emphasises the importance of spiritual devotion and undertaking good deeds: being truthful, just and caring. In this month the Qur’an was revealed, and at this time Muslims are encouraged to increase their acts of charity.

This site offers facts, figures and features on how British Muslims mark this blessed month, which culminates in the festival Eid al-Fitr.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Teenager Shouts ‘Allah is Great’ In Arabic as He Tries to Grab the Olympic Flame From Hands of Terrified Torch Bearer

A 17-year-old shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ — Arabic for ‘God is Great’ — as he unsuccessfully tried to grab the Olympic torch during a stretch of the flame’s route through Maidstone towards Redhill.

Broadcast live on the BBC, the youth lunged from the crowd to try to take the torch from the hands of its bearer Anna Skora, but was swiftly bundled away by officers. In one video posted to YouTube he can be seen waiting behind a car and as Ms Skora gets closer he lunges towards the torch.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Kosovo: President Vows to Tame Northern Serb Municipalities

Brussels, 18 July (AKI) — Kosovo president Atifete Jahjaga said on Wednesday she was determined to bring three Serb-majority municipalities in northern Kosovo under Pristina’s rule in the near future.

After talks with president of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy in Brussels, Jahjaga said it would help abolish the “parallel structures” Belgrade still operates in the Serb populated north and wipe out “criminal networks”.

Serbia is seeking to join the 27-member bloc and Jahjaga said she hoped it will “normalise and establish good neighbourly relations with the Republic of Kosovo,” as the EU requires, saying this would aid regional peace and stability

Belgrade and minority Kosovo Serbs oppose Kosovo’s independence declared by majority Albanians in 2008 and Pristina has little control over Serb populated north.

Under European Union pressure Belgrade and Pristina have reached agreements on joint border crossings, regional representation and several other issues, but Jahjaga said she wasn’t satisfied with the implementation of the accords.

Pristina has blamed the situation in the north on “criminal networks” which allegedly operate in the area and oppose Pristina rule.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Mahmoud Abbas Thanks Italy for Helping the Palestinians

(AGI) Rome — Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas thanked Italy for the effort it has made in support of his people. Abbas was speaking at a meeting at the Quirinale presidential palace with the president Giorgio Napolitano. “I want to thank the government and people of Italy for everything they are doing to help the Palestinian people,” said the leader of the Palestinian National Authority. Abbas recalled the many visits by Italian public figures, including that of Napolitano to Bethlehem last year, and the most recent by prime minister Mario Monti to Ramallah.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Pregnant Woman Named Among Israelis Killed in Bulgaria

Funerals are to be held for the five Israeli tourists who were killed when their bus exploded at a Bulgarian airport. The bodies of the victims have been flown to Israel. Among the dead was Kochava Shriki, a 42-year-old from Rishon Letzion, who was travelling with her husband when they discovered they were expecting a child. Four other men Amir Menashe and Itzik Kolangi, both 28, and Maor Harush, 24, and Elior Price, 25, were also named as victims, along with the Bulgarian coach driver. Thirty-three people who were wounded in the blast, which Israel has blamed Iran for, were also flown back to Israel to receive further treatment.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel would “pursue the attackers and extract a heavy price from those who sent them”. He added: “We will continue fighting Iranian terror, we will act against it with great force.” According to a US official who spoke to the Associated Press, the terrorist — who was also killed in the explosion at Burgas — was part of a Hizbollah cell. In Bulgaria, Prosecutor Kalina Chapkanova said their investigations had revealed that the alleged bomber was refused a car when he tried to rent it earlier that week, because the rental agency owner thought his licence was suspicious. The man is understood to have been carrying a Michigan driving licence, which FBI agents said was a fake.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Deadliest Day in Syria as Army Makes Gains in Damascus

Syrian activists say 310 people were killed across the country on Thursday in what was the single deadliest day of fighting since the beginning of the revolt against President Bashar Assad’s regime.

The fighting continued early on Friday, with at least three people were killed when Syrian army helicopters fired rockets at the southeastern Damascus neighbourhood of Saida Zeinab, opposition activists said. “One rocket hit a three story building. I got through to my relatives in Saida Zainab and could hear the sound of the bombardment on the phone,” Reem, one of the activists, told Reuters by telephone from Damascus. The civil war escalated dramatically in the past week as rebels closed in on the capital Damascus and launched their most serious blow yet on Assad’s inner circle, killing three top aides in an assassination.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel Threatens a ‘Heavy Price’ For Iran After Deadly Bulgaria Bus Bomb

Mr Netanyahu went out of his way to link the attack with Tehran’s nuclear ambitions

Israel yesterday fuelled fears of a further escalation in the already high tensions with Iran by promising to “exact a heavy price” from the perpetrators of the suicide bombing which killed seven people in Bulgaria, which it blamed unequivocally on Hezbollah. As Bulgarian officials said the suspected bomber in the attack on Wednesday that killed five Israeli holidaymakers was a lanky, long-haired man in a baseball cap and T-shirt, carrying a fake American driving licence, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said it had been carried out by “Hezbollah, the long arm of Iran.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Syrian Army Shells Mosque, Killing 7 — Activists

AMMAN, July 19 (Reuters) — At least seven civilians were killed on Thursday when the Syrian army shelled a mosque packed with worshippers in the city of Deir al-Zor, scene of heavy fighting between troops and rebels, activists said. “Shells hit the Fardos mosque in al-Jubeileh neighbourhood at evening prayers, the last before Ramadan. The mosque was packed. Around 20 people were pulled from the rubble with missing limbs and bad wounds. The number of dead will likely rise,” Abu al-Tayeb al-Deiri, one of the activists, told Reuters from the desert city 430 km (270 miles) northeast of Damascus.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Growing Religious Intolerance Against Christians

In Karnataka, a Pentecostal pastor was beaten by Hindu ultra-nationalists and detained for forced conversions. In Maharashtra, Hindu activists attacked the tribal Christians. A church under construction in Haryana destroyed. All on the same day.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — Three new anti-Christian attacks in three different States testify to “the sad increase of religious intolerance” in India. This is the opinion of Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), given the episodes of violence committed by Hindu ultra-nationalists in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Haryana, which all occurred on July 15 last.

The most serious incident happened in the village of Sainagara (Karnataka). Rev. Nathaniel Shubas, pastor of Immanuel Pentecostal Prayer Hall, held a prayer service, attended by about twenty people. During the sermon, witnesses say they saw a man enter, record what the pastor was saying, and leave shortly after. Within ten minutes, this person came back accompanied by more than 20 activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bajrang Dal, groups that constitute the “armed wing” of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, the Hindu ultra-nationalist party). These began to beat and insult Rev. Shubas, and then dragged him for over a kilometer to the Vidyanagara police station. They accused him of practicing forced conversions of Hindus to Christianity. The officers arrested the man on the basis of art. 295A (“Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs “).

The second episode of violence occurred in the tribal village of Thavalpada (Maharashtra). About ten Hindus attacked 50 Christians, who were singing devotional songs. The attackers were led by Eknath Jhugare, local BJP leader. Unlike Karnataka, this time the police arrested the attackers.

Also on July 15, in Dabar Patli village (Sirsa district, Haryana) Hindus demolished a Pentecostal Church under construction, the Messiah Samiti, arguing that most of the villagers were opposed to its construction.

For Sajan George, it is evident that the “ultra-nationalist Hindu groups feel increasingly free to attack the Christians in their places of prayer even during services. The growing political protection they enjoy is of great concern.”

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: British Government to Match Fund Donations to Charity Appeal for Schools in Kashmir

The READ Foundation, a UK based Muslim charity, has secured match funding from the British Government to give poor children in Kashmir a better education. Working in partnership with the Islam Channel, READ Foundation — a registered charity in the UK — will be raising funds to benefit needy children at schools in Kashmir, Pakistan this Ramadhan. The appeal will have an extra boost as the British Government has committed to match all public donations to the Adopt a School appeal raised through the telethon on the TV channel on 8 August, and other events the charity will hold.

Speaking about the initiative Jahangeer Akhtar, the UK Director of READ Foundation said: ‘We have a real opportunity to improve the education of poor children in rural Pakistan. Many of these children are studying in dire conditions. The money we raise will provide schools with classroom furniture, equipment and books, giving almost 11,000 children at READ schools a better quality of education, and opening up places for 1,000 more children. It will also offer the schools essentials such as toilets and clean water supplies. ‘The commitment from the Government to match fund all donations means that the public have the opportunity to help make an even bigger difference to the lives and futures of almost 12,000 school children.’

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said: ‘Education is the key to lifting people, especially girls, out of poverty, and to empowering them to help themselves. By matching pound for pound all public donations to READ’s Adopt a School Campaign, the British government will double the impact they have on improving the quality of education for some of the poorest children in Pakistan, helping secure a brighter future for them.’

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Ramadan’s Start Marred by Bomb Blasts in Thailand

Millions of Muslims began fasting Friday at the start of the holy month of Ramadan in Indonesia and Thailand, where the somber occasion was marred by two bomb blasts that killed one person and injured seven, officials said. The Muhammadiyah group, Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organization, told its 30 million followers that Ramadan starts Friday. The government, however, declared the official start as Saturday when most of the remaining 190 million Indonesians will begin the annual dawn-to-dusk fasting for a month. Muslims in the Buddhist dominated Thailand also began Ramadan on Friday, while Malaysia, Bangladesh and India will start Saturday or Sunday.

Ramadan is celebrated by Muslims around the world. It is a period devoted to dawn-to-dusk fasting, prayers and good deeds. The holy month culminates with the three-day holiday of Eid al-Fitr. Muslims believe God revealed the first verses of their holy book, the Quran, to the Prophet Muhammad during Ramadan, the start of which is determined by the sighting of the new moon. The Muslim lunar calendar moves back through the seasons, so Ramadan starts 11 days earlier each year under the Western calendar.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Two Killed in Southern Thailand as Ramadan Starts

Two civilians were killed and four wounded in bomb and shooting attacks in southern Thailand, a military spokesman said Friday, as the region marked the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. A 25-year-old male security guard was shot dead by gunmen in Pattani province on Thursday morning, while a 39-year-old man was killed later in a roadside bomb attack in neighbouring Yala, which also left one person with shrapnel injuries. A car bomb ripped through a shopping street early Friday in the small town of Sungai Kolok, in the southernmost province of Narathiwat which borders Malaysia, wounding three people and destroying several shops. “Three people were wounded but none is serious,” Colonel Pramote Prom-in, army spokesman for the volatile region, told AFP. The explosives had been packed inside pick-up truck parked on the street and triggered as people gathered at a morning market, he added. Authorities had warned that militants were likely to attempt a large-scale attack ahead of Ramadan.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Muslims Prepare for Toughest Ramadan in Over Three Decades

Muslims from Morocco to Afghanistan are steeling themselves for the toughest Ramadan in more than three decades. No food or drink, not even a sip of water, for 14 hours a day during the hottest time of the year. The test of self-restraint is made only harder by daily power cuts in some parts of the Muslim world such as Iraq, Pakistan and tiny Gaza.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]