Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20120918

Financial Crisis
»Widening Gap Between Rich and Poor in Germany
»Catholics Then, Muslims Now
»Iranian Regime Loses to Legal Project in Federal District Court
»No One Should be Fooled by the Myth of Obama
»Obama’s Foreign Policy Fraud Has Come Undone
»‘Scream’ To Go on View at MoMA
»‘They’re Killing us Because We’re Infidels’
»This Video Could Kill Mitt Romney’s Chances of Becoming President. Is it Too Late to Draft Rick Santorum?
»US Scientists to Use Chinese Moon Lander for Space Research
Europe and the EU
»French Newspaper Will Publish Muhammad Cartoons
»French Muslims “Dismayed” Over Upcoming Muhammad Cartoons
»German Muslims Split Over Film’s Screening
»Meet the World’s First Transhumanist Politician
»Murdoch’s News Corp Possible Bidder for Italian La7 Network
»Populist Provocation Germany Mulls Ban on Showing Hate Film
»‘Postpone EU-Israel Trade Accord Vote’, Say Socialist MEPs
»‘Racy’ Cartoons of Mohammed Published in French
»Scottish Leaders Under Pressure on EU Status
»The Louvre Inaugurates Islamic Arts Building
»True Antidote to Fanaticism in Islam Itself, Hollande
»UK: Conservatives Expect Barack Obama Re-Election in US
»UK: Family in Court Over Violent Bethnal Green Exorcism
»UK: Hyndburn Mosque Plans Hit Land Hitch
»UK: Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie — Review
»UK: Rushdie Releases Memoirs as Anti-Islam Film Protests Rage
»UK: Shops Accused of Selling Illegal ‘Bush Meat’ At London Market
»UK: Top Authors Denounce $500,000 New Bounty on Rushdie
»UK: Where Charity Begins
North Africa
»Algeria: 22% of Population Still Illiterate
»Anti-Islam Film: Egypt Indicts Nine Emigrated Copts
»Egypt: Cleric Issues Fatwa Against ‘Innocence of Muslims’ Cast, Crew
»Egypt Wants 7 Coptic Christians and Pastor Jones on Trial
»Egypt to Try 7 Copts, US Pastor Over Prophet Film
»Libya: New Book Reveals Gaddafi’s Hunger for Sexual Slaves
»Seven US-Resident Egyptians Charged Over ‘Innocence’ Movie
Israel and the Palestinians
»PNA: EU Commissione: 100 Mln Extra Funds for Palestinians
»Will Israel Stay Zionist?
»Zahhar: Gaza More Secure Than West Bank
Middle East
»Concern Over ‘Qaeda Ideology’ In Protests — Sleeping Cells Have Awakened
»Iran Deploys Russian-Made Submarine in Gulf
»Iran: Bounty on Salman Rushdie Increased to $3.3 Million
»Lebanon: Fatwa Issued Against ‘Innocence of Muslims’ Film Producer
»Syria’s Assad to Purge Top Sunni Armed Forces Officials
»Syrian Rebels Put $25 Million Bounty on President’s Head
»The Truth About Muhammad and Aisha
»Turkey’s Towering Ambition
»Russia Claims to Have Found Huge Diamond Deposit in Field
»A Letter From a Scared Actress
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Suicide Attack: Anti-Islam Film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ Sparks Deadly Violence Yet Again
»Afghanistan: Suicide Bomber Hits Foreigners on Kabul Bus
»‘Blasphemous’ Film Protests in Thailand and Indonesia
»NATO Scales Back Joint Operations With Afghan Forces
»NATO Afghan Decision: Philip Hammond Urged to Address MPs
»Newsweek’s ‘Muslim Rage’: A Sickening Piece of Shock Journalism That Cheapens a Once Great Magazine
»Troops Out! Pressure Grows to Stop Wasting Lives in Afghanistan
»US Suspends Most Joint Operations With Afghan Forces
Far East
»Chinese General: Prepare for Combat
»Chinese Ships Sail Into Waters Near Disputed Islands
»Oil Reserves at Heart of Japan-China Island Dispute
Australia — Pacific
»Girls Are Not Free to Speak Out in Islamic Countries
»Retrial Granted for Afghan Refugee Who Killed His Wife After Complaining She Was Too Australian
»The Anti-Muslim MP Not Allowed to Visit Australia
»What Do You Want to Know About Islam?
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Boko Haram Terrorists Kill Nigerian State Attorney General
»Boat Carrying 139 Immigrants Stopped Off Tunisian Coast
»Looking Back at Salman Rushdie’s the Satanic Verses

Financial Crisis

Widening Gap Between Rich and Poor in Germany

Economic inequality is increasing in Germany as the country’s rich benefit disproportionally more from rising wealth, a new report has found. Worrying, too are dwindling state assets and public properties.

In the past 20 years, private net worth has more than doubled: from 4.6 trillion euros ($6 trillion) in 1992 to approximately 10 trillion euros in 2012, according to an article published by the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Tuesday.

The newspaper quoted from a draft of the “German Poverty and Wealth Report,” compiled by the Labor Ministry and scheduled to be published soon.

The report has found that Germany’s super rich have become continuously more so over the past two decades.

In 1998, 45 percent of Germany’s total wealth was owned by the wealthiest 10 percent, the report found. Ten years later, the number had risen to 53 percent.

By comparison, the bottom half of German households control a mere 1 percent of all wealth.

Moreover, income inequality is worsening, according to the report. Though salaries of the rich have increased steadily over the years, because of inflation a loss of real income has been observed in the bottom 40 percent of full-time workers.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Catholics Then, Muslims Now

by Doug Saunders

THE short, crude anti-Muslim video that sparked a wave of violent protests across the Middle East did not emerge from an obscure pocket of extremism; it is the latest in a string of anti-Muslim outbursts in the United States. In August, a mosque was burned down in Missouri and an acid bomb was thrown at an Islamic school in Illinois. The video’s backers are part of a movement that has used the insecurity of the post-9/11 years to sow unfounded fears of a Muslim plot to take over the West. Their message has spread from the obscurity of the Internet and the far right to the best seller lists, the mainstream media and Congress. For the first time in decades, it has become acceptable in some circles to declare that a specific religious minority can’t be trusted…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Iranian Regime Loses to Legal Project in Federal District Court

by Sam Nunberg

PHILADELPHIA, September 14, 2012 — Federal District Court Judge John B. Bates for the District of Columbia yesterday granted summary judgment for Seid Hassan Daieolesian, editor of the English Iranian Lobby website “In Search of Truth: Reports on Mullahs’s lobby in US,” the defendant in a defamation suit brought by Trita Parsi and the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). Judge Bates also ordered sanctions against Parsi for failure to comply with the discovery phase of the litigation. The Legal Project coordinated and financed the defense of Mr. Dai; Sidley Austin LLP represented him pro bono.

Trita Parsi sued Seid Hassan Daieolesian for defamation in April, 2008 after Mr. Dai’s investigative reporting exposed Parsi’s and NIAC’s deep and incontrovertible ties to high-level agents of the Iranian regime. The suit went through 53 months of litigation that included 24 months of discovery and over 30 court motions. These ultimately confirmed the accuracy of Mr. Dai’s investigative reports.

The case reached national prominence when Parsi’s e-mails (produced during discovery) not only confirmed his ties to the mullahs but also that he has delivered lectures to the CIA, briefed Secretary Hilary Clinton and visited the Obama White House starting in 2009. As recently as this past July, he was hosted by Senior Adviser to the President Valerie Jarrett…

[Return to headlines]

No One Should be Fooled by the Myth of Obama

The President has ridden his luck for too long, says one conservative commentator: his failures can’t be ignored

by Roger Kimball

Are you insane?” That was one of the questions the American blogger Sarah Hoyt asked when contemplating the cataract of doom and gloom issuing from the conservative blogosphere following the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, a week ago. (For the record, she also asked: “Have you gone completely out of your minds? Do you want to lose? And do you understand fully what a loss would mean?”) Many conservative commentators, eyeing the (predictably evanescent) bounce in the polls Obama enjoyed after the convention, concluded that the game was up. Romney was now certain to lose, Obama could get on with the task of (as he put it in 2008) “fundamentally transforming” America into a quasi-socialist redoubt where half the populace voted for a living, and conservatives would have to sit by idly while American businesses were regulated to feebleness and personal liberty (except, of course, the liberty to have an abortion at any time up until shortly after delivery) was eroded in the name of equality.

Back in 2008, many commentators, including me, had invoked the Wizard of Oz when discussing Barack Obama. Who was this international man of mystery? His college and graduate school records were sealed, as was his attorney client record. He’d written two autobiographies — correction, two autobiographies had been published over his name: who actually wrote them continues to be a matter of speculation — but who was this man being presented to the American people for the top job? What had he actually done? Go back and watch that 2008 Democratic Convention in Nuremberg — or maybe it was Denver; it just seemed like Nuremberg: the Greek columns, the weeping, nearly hysterical crowd, the man who promised to make the oceans recede and “heal” the earth basked in a nimbus of adulation and inevitability. It was an extraordinary performance. The great and wonderful Oz would have appreciated the artifice. Oz had been a lowly purveyor of nostrums who managed to gull a needy populace into accepting him as a potent miracle worker. And Obama?

This is the embarrassing part. His administration has presented the world with an unrelieved litany of failure. Except, of course, for the moment when he parachuted into that compound in Pakistan and single-handedly took out Osama bin Laden. He’s been shy about claiming credit for that exploit, but we should give credit where credit is due. Obama has also taken more vacations and played more golf than any other President. The other day, just after the US envoy to Libya and three other diplomats were murdered in Benghazi, the President decamped to Las Vegas for a fundraiser, thus demonstrating the sort of steely leadership that has become a signature of his administration.

The failures? Sure, there have been a few. But can anyone really blame Obama? The American debt clock ticked past $16 trillion as the Democratic Convention convened but you understand, don’t you, that what Governor Mitch Daniels called the new red menace of debt is really the fault of George W Bush? Obama came to office promising to halve the annual deficit in his first term. It stubbornly hovers around $1.5 trillion but that too is the fault of Dubya, or possibly it’s the Wicked Witch of the East. Ditto the unemployment figure. “Give me $800 billion,” said Obama on assuming office, “and we’ll have unemployment down to 5.6 per cent by July 2012.” Official unemployment is 8.3 percent, while so-called “U6” unemployment, which counts the unhappy folks who have just given up looking for work, is nearly 15 per cent. All told, we’re talking about 23 million munchkins out of work, Dorothy, and the sense of malaise is deep and spreading.

“It’s the economy, stupid.” Remember that? The Clinton strategist James Carville was right. And note that “the economy” is not just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s like Aristotle’s notion of happiness: not the explicit goal of our endeavours but a natural by-product of virtuous activity energetically pursued. Its motor is the creation, not the redistribution, of wealth, though, as John F Kennedy (or one of his speechwriters) observed, a rising tide lifts all boats. What matters to leaders such as Barack Obama is not the dynamics of a rising tide but that all boats be on the same level — except, of course, for the vessels of Oz and his minions: they circle the bay like those flying monkeys, keeping order, deploying the IRS to investigate large donors to the other side, and so on.

As Alexis de Tocqueville saw, inherent in democracy is a tension between the demand for equality, on the one hand, and the demand for freedom, on the other. A healthy democracy balances those contending claims, nurturing equality while protecting freedom. How, as former mayor Ed Koch liked to ask, are we doing? Currently, nearly half of those who file tax returns pay no income tax: that’s zero, nada, nothing. The top one per cent of filers pay 40 per cent, the top five per cent pay nearly 60 per cent. Obama’s favourite word (after “me”) is “fairness.” Is that fair?

I think Obama is right: this election presents Americans with two fundamentally different visions of how their country will be governed. One features the carnivalesque Oz-like pipings of dependency. The other returns us to Kansas, where people make their livings unencumbered by the court protocol that a culture of entitlement requires. That’s the choice. There are a lot of people on the receiving end of government largesse in America these days. I forget who it was who said that a democracy can work well until the day people realise that, when one party becomes the party of the state, they can vote themselves other people’s money. Has that day come in America? Maybe. But remember the American elections of 2010. That “shellacking,” as Obama put it, should give the party of freedom hope. I continue to believe Romney will not only win but win big.

Roger Kimball is editor and publisher of The New Criterion

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Foreign Policy Fraud Has Come Undone

by Daniel Greenfield

The mass riots and attacks on embassies do not mark the moment when Obama’s foreign policy imploded. That happened a long time ago. What these attacks actually represent is the moment when the compliant media were no longer able to continue hiding that failure in bottom drawers and back pages…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

‘Scream’ To Go on View at MoMA

Edvard Munch’s 1895 version of “The Scream” — which became the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction when it brought nearly $120 million at Sotheby’s in May — will go on view at the Museum of Modern Art, courtesy of its new mystery owner, for six months, starting on Oct. 24.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our visitors to see something that is otherwise hard to see,” Glenn D. Lowry, the museum’s director, said in a telephone interview.

Munch made four versions of “The Scream” — an image that has become a universal symbol of angst and existential dread — from 1893 to 1910. Three are in Norwegian museums and have not traveled for years. This one, a pastel on board, is the only “Scream” still in private hands and the only one in the United States; it has never before been shown publicly in New York, officials at MoMA say.

Depicting a hairless figure on a bridge under a brilliant yellow-orange sky, the composition was originally conceived by Munch as part of his “Frieze of Life” series, which explores themes of love, angst and death. “Some people call it the Mona Lisa of Modern art,” Mr. Lowry said.

This version, the most colorful of the four, has a frame painted by the artist with a poem describing a walk at sunset (“I felt a whiff of melancholy — I stood/Still, deathly tired”) that inspired the work. (It is also unique among the “Screams” for its background figure turning to look out onto the cityscape.)

The New York financier Leon Black is said to have been the buyer of the pastel at Sotheby’s, but nobody — including Mr. Black himself, officials at Sotheby’s or Mr. Lowry — would confirm that he was the one lending the painting to MoMA.

Mr. Black is a member of MoMA’s board, however (as well as of the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art). He is also one of this country’s foremost collectors, having amassed a world-class art collection that includes paintings by Manet, Cézanne and Degas; drawings by Raphael, Daumier and van Gogh; and sculptures by Brancusi, Gauguin and Degas.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘They’re Killing us Because We’re Infidels’

by Diana West

Paul Sperry rakes the Pentagon response to jihad inside the wire — more “sensitivity” training — in the New York Post this week (must have been Prince Talal’s day off).

Top officials believe culturally offensive behavior is the motivation behind the killings, so it’s stepped up Islamic sensitivity training for our troops.

“Top officials” should be relieved of duty, ASAP. They have lost their minds if they ever had any. Or, to be more accurate, they have adopted, internalized the Islamic mindset to a point beyond apology and beyond reason. Reality check: Normal, mainstream Afghan culture includes child rape, pederasty, “seven-day shit suits,” cruelty to animals, enslavement of women, and death to apostates, just to hit some highlights. Such institutional depravity, however, is the New Normal to the ideological zealots in charge. They don’t see it, and can’t imagine the effect of it on Western troops, even when their own internal reports flag such native practices as dog torture as “stressors” that lead to “serious social altercations” between US and Afghan soldiers. These and other resounding features of culture clash are officially hushed up lest the irreconcilable differences between Islam and the West become openly acknowledged, and the bankruptcy of the past decade of nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan becomes the open national scandal that it should and must become.

Thus, our generals burble on about nose-blowing and shoe bottoms, announcing that deviations from the Islamic way of nose-blowing and handling shoe bottoms (“cultural affronts”) are motivations for murder. (This is the same Islamic mind-set that informs the White House and media position that the Mohammed video is “causing” the Islamic attacks on US embassies.)

Sperry’s op-ed continues:…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

This Video Could Kill Mitt Romney’s Chances of Becoming President. Is it Too Late to Draft Rick Santorum?

by Tim Stanley

Mother Jones has got its hands on a video that could kill Mitt Romney’s chances of being elected president. It’s from a fundraiser earlier this year, and the transcript of Romney’s speech is as follows:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what… These are people who pay no income tax. … [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

The Romney campaign refuses to comment, but the Obama White House has taken time out from the Middle East crisis to say this


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

US Scientists to Use Chinese Moon Lander for Space Research

A cooperative deal has been inked between a U.S. group and China to use that country’s moon lander to conduct astronomical imaging from the lunar surface.

The International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) of Kamuela, Hawaii has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Beijing-based National Astronomical Observatories (NAOC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. A signing ceremony took place in Kamuela on Sept. 4.

The deal is the first such U.S.-China collaboration centered on using China’s Chang’e-3 moon lander now being readied for launch next year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

French Newspaper Will Publish Muhammad Cartoons

(AGI) Paris, 18 Sep — While the Muslim world is in an uproar over the Islamophobic film on Muhammad, the French weekly satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo announced that it will publish new cartoons depicting the prophet. When the Danish newspaper Jillanden Posten published cartoons of Muhammad in 2006 violence erupted throughout the Islamic world.

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

French Muslims “Dismayed” Over Upcoming Muhammad Cartoons

(AGI) Paris- The French Council of the Muslim Faith is “dismayed” by news of upcoming cartoons of Muhammad by a French newspaper. The weekly satirical paper Charlie Hebdo announced that it will publish “offensive cartoons” of Muhammad on Wednesday.

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

German Muslims Split Over Film’s Screening

Opinion among Muslims groups in Germany is divided over whether public screenings of a US-made anti-Islam film should be prohibited. “The Innocence of Muslims” is at the center of violent protests around the world.

Two leading Muslim groups joined a growing number of voices on Monday to demand that the film is banned in Germany. Their call comes after the right-wing extremist group Pro Deutschland announced that it hoped to show the film in a public venue.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Meet the World’s First Transhumanist Politician

It’s not necessarily a negative thing for us to become less human, says transhumanist politician Giuseppe Vatinno

What is transhumanism?

Transhumanism is a philosophical doctrine that aims to continuously improve humanity. It promotes science and technology but with people at its centre. Ultimately, it aims to free humanity from its biological limitations, overcoming natural evolution to make us more than human.

How does transhumanism improve humanity?

It does this through the development of technologies that boost health and fight ageing and disease, by replacing lost or defective body parts and by improving the internet, communication technologies and artificial intelligence.

Is there a danger that transhumanism could actually make us less human?

Becoming less human is not necessarily a negative thing, because it could mean we are less subject to the whims of nature, such as illness or climate extremes. A beautiful sunset is positive, but the black death that struck Europe in the 14th century was not. We want to retain the positive aspects of nature and reduce the negative ones.

But could we become cyborgs?

This is more the realm of science fiction. But we are already taking steps in that direction. Look at Oscar Pistorius, the sprinter with two prosthetic limbs. He is able to beat able-bodied competitors.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Murdoch’s News Corp Possible Bidder for Italian La7 Network

Popular broadcaster Mentana says could be ‘good match’

(ANSA) — Rome, September 18 — The possibility of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp as a new bidder in the running for the purchase of La7, Italy’s fourth and smallest commercial TV channel, could be a “good match,” Enrico Mentana, director of La7’s news program said on Tuesday. “They are a serious group with an impressive dossier that knows about television. I see no reason why it wouldn’t be a good match,” Mentana said.

La7 network is up for sale because of debt-trimming by parent Telecom Italia, the largest telecommunications company in Italy.

Popular prime-time news host Mentana boosted the channel’s ratings when he joined La7 after being sacked as news chief of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Canale 5 (owned by Mediaset) in 2004.

Mentana expressed doubts that he would remain with La7 if Mediaset, one of the possible bidders, purchased the channel.

“Mediaset is a market player, not Hitler. But I would leave for problems I personally have had in the past with Mediaset management,” Mentana said.

Al Jazeera, Sky Italia, Discovery Channel and Espresso publishing group, which owns liberal Italian daily La Repubblica, have also expressed interest in the purchase.

“I am not doing DNA exams on possible buyers, but I don’t see conflicts of interest with Espresso, whose owner does not have political aspirations or show signs of interfering with the tone of the news (by injecting bias)…unlike Berlusconi,” Mentana said referring to Carlo De Benedetti, Espresso group’s owner and Silvio Berlusconi’s traditional rival.

Analysts say that La7′s market value increased because of its moderate, balanced approach to news reporting specialized in accurate, wider-ranging information programs. photo: Enrico Mentana

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Populist Provocation Germany Mulls Ban on Showing Hate Film

A populist group in Germany wants to publicly show the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims,” which is stoking a violent backlash across the Muslim world. Officials are reviewing whether they could ban the action, sparking a delicate debate over free speech and public order.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘Postpone EU-Israel Trade Accord Vote’, Say Socialist MEPs

Not in line with EU Israel policy

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 18 — A group of Socialist-Democratic (SD) MEPS have asked for a European Parliament vote on a new EU-Israel trade agreement to be postponed for two years, because it is not in line with the European Union’s (EU) foreign policy on Israel. SD MEPs say that a protocol in the accord could give an unfair advantage to Israeli products, regardless of their origin in Israel or the Territories, and that it contrasts with the EU’s stance on what it has more than once called, ‘illegal Israeli settlements.’ This follows an initial go-ahead by the Trade Committee of the European Parliament.

“Today’s vote”, said MEP Vital Moreira, “is not in line with EU foreign policy. Bolstering the partnership between the EU and Israel at this time would undermine EU condemnation of Israeli politics with regards to the Palestinians, in particular, Gaza blockades.” “Since Israel’s political course hasn’t changed”, continued Moreira, “we have requested a two year postponement of the final decision on the accord”. Vice-president of the European Parliament Social-Democrats, Veronique de Keyser, asked that “products from the occupied Territories are not allowed to be considered ‘commercially legal’ or to be included in the accord”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

‘Racy’ Cartoons of Mohammed Published in French

No to excesses, PM says. Paris Grand Mosque appeals for calm

(ANSAmed) — Paris — Cartoons of the prophet Mohammed were published in the French satyrical weekly Charlie Hebdo on Tuesday, sparking fears that the images will foment the latest outbreak of anti-Western tensions in the Middle East and elsewhere when it hits newstands on Wednesday.

The drawings, which according to French daily Le Figaro portray the founder of Islam in “racy” positions, do not appear on the front page. Police have been stationed outside the publication’s headquarters, which was firebombed last November after its decision to name a special edition “Charia Hebdo”, with Mohammed listed as the “editor-in-chief”.

French Premier Jean-Marc Ayrault upholds “freedom of expression, but disapproves of any excess and appeals to everyone’s spirit of responsibility”, the ministry made known in a note on Tuesday. The rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, issued “an appeal for calm”. Charb, who is Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief, is not worried about the possible consequences of the publication, he told I-tele TV.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Scottish Leaders Under Pressure on EU Status

The Scottish government is facing renewed pressure to reveal legal advice on whether it would remain in the EU if the country votes to leave the United Kingdom.

An urgent hearing of the Court of Session in Edinburgh will take place on Thursday (20 September), with Scotland’s information commissioner Rosemary Agnew demanding the urgent two-day meeting to confirm that the ruling nationalist administration should release any legal advice on EU membership prospects.

The question of Scotland’s EU membership is vital to the nationalists who are keen to retain unfettered access to the single market as well as an opt-out from joining the euro.

The government has consistently argued that Scotland’s EU status would not be affected by independence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Louvre Inaugurates Islamic Arts Building

Designed by Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, 17 SEPT — 20 years after the opening of the Pyramid at Paris’ Louvre museum, French President Francois Hollande will inaugurate a second building in the museum dedicated to Islamic art, Tuesday.

Commissioned in 2002 by former President Jacques Chirac and designed by architects Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti, the building, which cost 98.5 million euro and covers an area of 2,500 meters square, will host more than 3,000 objects of Islamic civilization. Among the objects on show, all of which come from Louvre collections and the Museum of Decorative Art, are carpets, ceramics and jewelry — displayed in chronological order from the seventh through to the nineteenth century, and a 12 metre tall reconstructed Ottoman wall. Sitting in the Louvre’s Visconti Courtyard — the only one available for the project, the building is on two levels, one of which is underground. “It is a modern building, developed in the underground space, which fits exactly with the tour of the Louvre”, Bellini tells ANSA. Bellini compares the building to a ‘floating device’, or a jewel set in the 18th Century courtyard of the Louvre. Equally, “the corrugated, translucent structure” — covered by a grid of gold and silver coloured metal, “could resemble a cloud, a sail blowing in the wind, or the wing of a dragonfly”. “It seems suspended in the air thanks to a perimetre of invisible windows which reveal the blue sky and the rest of the Louvre. In addition the floor has many openings which give a sense of continuity to the two exhibition floors”, explains Bellini.

The idea of creating a department devoted to Islamic Art was an ‘intelligent” one, says Bellini, particularly in times of international tension between religion and civility. “It is a gesture of understanding, exchange, acceptance and integration”, he said. Henry Loirette, president of the Louvre describes the new wing as “a decisive step in the architectural history of the building and the museum” which represents “the will to go forward. “ The inauguration is to include a series of events, lectures and screenings.

Guests include director Abbas Kiarostami, writer Orhan Pamuk and the artist Walid Raad.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

True Antidote to Fanaticism in Islam Itself, Hollande

At opening of Louvre’s new Islamic Arts wing

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, SEPTEMBER 18 — “The best weapons to fight so-called Islamic fanaticism are to be found within Islam itself”, French President Francois Hollande said at the opening of the Louvre’s new Islamic Arts wing on Tuesday.

The new wing was designed by architects Mario Bellini, from Milan, and Rudy Ricciotti, from Marseilles.

“The honor of Islamic civilizations is to be more ancient, more vital and more tolerant than those who today abusively claim to be speaking in their name”, Hollande said. “They are the exact opposite of the obscurantism that annihilates Islam’s principles and destroys its values, bringing violence and hate”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Conservatives Expect Barack Obama Re-Election in US

Tories admire president’s call for patience and believe British public receptive to hard long-term message from incumbents

Downing Street officials are preparing for what they expect will be victory for Barack Obama in the US presidential election in November and defeat for Mitt Romney, the Republican challenger, who is a natural Tory ally. Conservatives made strenuous efforts in the spring to build up their Republican links, including a meeting between the chancellor, George Osborne, and Paul Ryan, now Romney’s vice-presidential candidate. But they believe there is a strong personal relationship between Obama and David Cameron that dwarfs any political differences…

[JP note: They pretend they’re Tories and we pretend to clap.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Family in Court Over Violent Bethnal Green Exorcism

A woman was whipped with a walking stick during a brutal exorcism organised by members of her own family, a court heard. Asma Hussain was tied to a bed and covered with holy water after relations became convinced she was possessed by a demon, the jury was told. Her husband Ahmed, 60, summoned the local Muslim preacher to carry out the ceremony and encouraged him to hit his wife harder, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard. Mrs Hussain’s back was described as “one massive bruise” and she also suffered injuries to her face and hands.

Ahmed Hussain, his son Mohammed, 28, daughter Salma, 22, daughter-in-law Halima Khatun, 28, and son-in-law Mohammed Azia, 21, are on trial accused of false imprisonment and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. They are said to have believed “black magic” had been cast on their victim. “It appears that members of Asma Hussain’s family believed that she was possessed by demons,” said prosecutor Babatunde Alabi. “As a result of this belief, it is alleged that they kept her captive in her own home, tying her to a bed in the living room. They also arranged for an imam to carry out an exorcism on her. During the course of the exorcism, she was held down, had water poured all over her and was beaten with a cane. For some unknown reason, it appears the defendants thought that Asma was possessed by a demon. They claimed her behaviour had changed and that her condition had deteriorated over a matter of weeks so they decided to deal with the matter by spiritual means.”

The exorcism, at the family home in Bethnal Green, is said to have been instigated by Ahmed Hussain last January. The attack continued into the early hours of the morning, the court heard. The previous day, Ahmed and Mohammed Hussain are said to have brought the imam to the home of another daughter, Shahana Hussain, where Asma had stayed overnight, telling her someone had put ‘black magic’ on her. On the day of the exorcism, Shahana Hussain became concerned after visiting her mother to find a relative removing a tie from her leg, it was said. She had bruising on her face and was crying and appeared to be distressed. Shahana later called police who attended the property with paramedics, to be told by Mohammed Hussain that his mother was possessed and in need of an exorcism, the court heard. “In the ambulance, a full assessment was carried out. When Asma’s top was lifted up, it was discovered her back was one massive bruise,” said the prosecutor. Ahmed Hussain, of Poplar, Mohammed Kayes Hussain, of Aldgate, Salma Hussain, Aziz, and Khatun, all of Shadwell, all deny assault occasioning actual bodily harm and false imprisonment. The trial continues.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Hyndburn Mosque Plans Hit Land Hitch

TALKS on a major new mosque have hit a stalemate over the ownership of land. Plans for landscaped gardens surrouding a mosque along the gateway into Accrington initially gained council backing when first raised in 2009. A Hyndburn Council meeting found the option to be the best available, if it was combined with a community centre. Now, however, religious leaders and the council are said to have hit a roadblock on whether the council-owned land, at Steiner Street, should be made available freehold or leasehold…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie — Review

The humiliations, the parties, the failures of analysis — Pankaj Mishra on Salman Rushdie’s memoir

Politics and literature,” Salman Rushdie wrote in 1984, in what now seems an innocent time, “do mix, are inextricably mixed, and that … mixture has consequences.” Criticising George Orwell for having advocated political quietism to writers, Rushdie asserted that “we are all irradiated by history, we are radioactive with history and politics” and that, “in this world without quiet corners, there can be no easy escapes from history, from hullabaloo, from terrible, unquiet fuss.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Rushdie Releases Memoirs as Anti-Islam Film Protests Rage

LONDON — As violent protests over a US-made film rock the Muslim world, Salman Rushdie publishes his account Tuesday of the decade he spent in hiding while under a fatwa for his book “The Satanic Verses”. With at least 19 people killed in a week of furious protests over the film, Rushdie’s candid memoir of the years spent on the run after he too was accused of mocking Islam, entitled “Joseph Anton”, has an added resonance. “A book which was critical of Islam would be difficult to be published now,” the Indian-born writer, 65, told BBC television in an interview broadcast Monday. “There’s a lot of fear and nervousness around.”


[JP note: Good timing.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Shops Accused of Selling Illegal ‘Bush Meat’ At London Market

An undercover investigation has revealed a shocking trade in illegal “bush meat” at a London market. Grasscutter rats and “smokies” of charred sheep skin — both delicacies in West Africa — are being sold under the counter at a number of butchers at the Ridley Road market in Dalston, the BBC found. Secret filming revealed that six butchers and food stores were allegedly prepared to sell large quantities of meat that breaks food safety laws. West African and environmental health sources told the BBC the market was known for illicit meat. But a Freedom of Information request to Hackney council revealed that the last time its enforcement officers visited premises about illegal meat was in 2009.

Paul Povey, a member of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, said: “I am just so shocked. It’s all illegal and hasn’t undergone health control, hasn’t been inspected and may well be contaminated.” The BBC filmed butchers prepared to sell smokies, which are made by using a blow torch on the skin of a sheep or goat to give it a charred flavour. The practice is outlawed under UK and European food laws for reasons of public safety and animal welfare.

Dr Yunes Ramadan Teinaz, a chartered environmental health practitioner, said: “Behind the illicit trade in smokies are criminals who don’t observe the law and are just after financial gain. It is disgusting and outrageous that the local authorities don’t take action and remove this meat from the human food chain.” One Hackney butcher sold the BBC researcher some of the illicit meat and said: “Don’t tell anyone, otherwise there will be trouble.” Two African food stores were selling the grasscutter rats, described as having been imported from Ghana. There is no suggestion that every butcher in Ridley Road was prepared to deal in illegal meat.

Confronted with BBC London’s evidence, Islam Halal Meat, Punjab Halal Meat and Fish and Dalston Butchers denied they were selling illegal meat. The manageress of food store Great Expectations, which allegedly sold two Ghanaian rats to the BBC researcher, said: “I don’t sell rats, I never sell rats, I don’t sell rats. I don’t have any rats, why you come to video me?” The manageress of Adom Trading also denied selling bush meat. “What you are saying is a lie, a 100 per cent lie, I don’t sell rats,” she said…

[JP note: ‘We have no rats,’ said Ali Basharat ruefully.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Top Authors Denounce $500,000 New Bounty on Rushdie

Iranian foundation raises reward for execution of dormant 1989 fatwa, citing anti-Mohamed film

Best-selling authors rallied to support Sir Salman Rushdie last night over the announcement by an Iranian religious foundation that it was raising its bounty for his murder. Sir Salman is in New York where he is promoting the publication of a memoir chronicling his time living under a fatwa imposed by the late Ayatollah Khomeini over his novel, The Satanic Verses. The tour has been overshadowed by a declaration from religious leader Hassan Sanei, head of the semi-official 15 Khordad Foundation, that he was adding another $500,000 to the hardline group’s existing reward of $2.8m for killing the novelist. It raised the bounty in protest at the online film The Innocence of Muslims which has sparked violent outrage in parts of the Islamic world. “Surely if the sentence of the Imam [Khomeini] had been carried out, the later insults in the form of caricatures, articles and the making of movies would not have occurred,” Ayatollah Sanei said. The British Government called for urgent action against the foundation…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Where Charity Begins

As Britain’s foreign aid budget soars, we are entitled to know precisely where our money is going

One reshuffled minister who has no need to worry about her departmental budget is Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary. Despite an age of austerity that is requiring cuts across the public sector, the department’s budget will rise by 37 per cent during this parliament. The people of this country, who are already generous with their voluntary contributions to charities abroad, will donate an extra £300 on average per household through their taxes. The aim is for Britain to increase aid spending to the UN target of 0.7 per cent of GDP, even as output falls and disposable income declines.

This controversial policy is justified by the Coalition on the grounds that the poorest people in the world should not have to suffer for the economic downturn in the wealthier West. This is a laudable attitude, albeit one that is easier to adopt with other people’s money. But the taxpayer must be certain of one thing above all — that it is being spent wisely and efficiently. We are assured that it no longer ends up in the Swiss bank accounts of Third World despots; and yet, as The Sunday Telegraph disclosed at the weekend, substantial sums are paid out in consultancy fees that clearly never get anywhere near an impoverished village or a starving child.

Lord Ashcroft, who was made a government adviser in the reshuffle, has written to Miss Greening urging her to “turn off the golden taps and stop flooding the developing world with our money”. In view of the commitments consistently given by David Cameron, this is not going to happen. So it is gratifying to learn that Miss Greening — an accountant by profession — is going through the aid budget line by line to ensure value for money is forthcoming. This is the least the country can expect. We are entitled to know precisely where our money is going and to whom.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: 22% of Population Still Illiterate

Significant results since independence

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, SEPTEMBER 14 — Six million Algerians out of a population of 37 million are illiterate, a little over 22 %, according to the most recent official data on literacy on which authorities have significantly invested since the country’s independence 50 years ago.

Though six million are a lot, statistics show that school attendance in among six to 12-year-olds is 93%. Seven percent of children don’t go to school for a variety of reasons including a ‘reduced physical capacities’( 12%), a category embracing a number of issues.

School is often abandoned in rural areas where some parents force their children to work in the fields, especially girls.

Security also plays a role in some areas, where Islamic terrorists operate as parents fear for their children’s safety, along with transport problems in the country’s vast rural regions.

According to experts with Algerian association IQRAA, which studies education, if the country will continue to invest as it has in past decades continuing to consider instruction a top priority, illiteracy will fall by 10 percentage points by 2018 to 12%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Anti-Islam Film: Egypt Indicts Nine Emigrated Copts

Including director, producer. Copt gets 6 years for FB cartoon

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, SEPTEMBER 18 — Egypt’s attorney general has indicted nine Coptic citizens who emigrated to the US on charges stemming from the production of the film that triggered protests throughout the Islamic world, Egyptian media reported on Tuesday.

The charges against director Elia Bassili, alleged producer Maurice Sadek and seven other people include attacking the Prophet Mohammed, fomenting religious hatred, and attempting to dismember the country.

Also on Tuesday, an appeals court in Sohag, in Upper Egypt, sentenced Beshoy el Beheri, a Copt, to six years in prison for publishing cartoons deemed to be degrading to the Prophet Mohammed and to President Mohamed Morsi on his Facebook page in August of last year. Beheri had denied the charges, claiming he was not the owner of that Facebook account.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Cleric Issues Fatwa Against ‘Innocence of Muslims’ Cast, Crew

WASHINGTON: A Salafist cleric in Egypt is calling for the deaths of all those involved in the making of an anti-Muslim film that has outraged the Islamic world, SITE Intelligence Group said on Monday. In a statement, the terrorism monitoring service said Ahmad Fouad Ashoush issued his fatwa, or religious edict, against the cast and crew of “ Innocence of Muslims” via jihadist internet forums over the weekend…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Egypt Wants 7 Coptic Christians and Pastor Jones on Trial

(AGI) Cairo, 18 Sept- Egyptian judges are charging seven Coptic Christians living abroad, including the producer of the Islamophobic film “Innocence of Muslims” Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and his friend Morris Sadek, and the US pastor behind “Burn a Koran Day”, Terry Jones, with the crime of insulting Islam. Egyptian authorities stated that the accused risk the death penalty and have asked for their extradition to Egypt.

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

Egypt to Try 7 Copts, US Pastor Over Prophet Film

Egypt’s general prosecutor has issued arrest warrants for seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor and referred them to trial on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that has sparked riots across the Muslim world.

The prosecutor’s office says the seven men and one woman, all of whom are believed to be outside of Egypt, are charged with harming national unity, insulting and publicly attacking Islam and spreading false information. The office says they could face the death penalty.

A statement from the prosecutor on Tuesday says Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian Copt living in southern California and believed to be behind the film, is among those charged. So is Florida-based Pastor Terry Jones, who has said he was contacted by the filmmaker to promote the video.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Libya: New Book Reveals Gaddafi’s Hunger for Sexual Slaves

Dictator preyed on 100s of adolescents, French journalist writes

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, SEPTEMBER 18 — Bab-al-Azizia was not just Muammar Gaddafi’s citadel in the heart of Tripoli, nor just the emblem of a decades-long dictatorship. It was also, according to a new book by French journalist Annick Cojean, one of Dante’s circles of hell, reserved for the victims of the Colonel’s voracious sexual appetites.

Titled The Prey, the book tells the stories of girls like Soraya, 25, who spent five years at Bab-al-Azizia. At 15, she was noticed by the Colonel’s personal bodyguards in a Sirte high school. Within a few hours, she was torn from family and school and taken to Gaddafi’s court at Tripoli. Here, she says, she was made to wear revealing clothes, to smoke, drink alcohol, and take cocaine. This was a fate common to adolescents of both genders during the Gaddafi regime, Cojean says in her book. The dictator’s vast network of flesh peddlers, all of them eager to ingratiate themselves with the Colonel, included diplomats, employees, members of his protocol, and the military, Cojean writes.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Seven US-Resident Egyptians Charged Over ‘Innocence’ Movie

(AGI) — Cairo, 18 Sep — Egyptian prosecutors have opened proceedings against Coptic Egyptian citizens involved in the making of the Innocence of Muslims. Charges of “insulting the Islamic religion and its Prophet” and of “inciting sectarian conflict” are being pressed against seven US-resident Egyptians, namely Morris Sadek, Adel Riad, Nabil Bissada, Esmat Zaklama, Elia Bassily, Ihab Yaacoub and Jack Atallah.

Prosecution is yet to set a trial date.

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

Israel and the Palestinians

PNA: EU Commissione: 100 Mln Extra Funds for Palestinians

Money for water, supporting refugees and part of West Bank

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 17 — The European Commission today announced new funding of 100 million euros for the Palestinians in the areas of water and sanitation and supporting refugees, as well as a package of support to Area C (the part of the West Bank under direct Israeli occupation), among other things.

“The decision — EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Fule said — shows our commitment to help the people of Palestine in the areas which are vital to their everyday lives, such as water, public services and infrastructure. It also shows our determination to do all we can to support Palestinian refugees living outside the OPT— providing them with an education and access to essential healthcare and social services”. The EU is the largest donor to the Palestinian territories. The funding announced today brings the EU’s aid for 2012 to a total of 200 million euros, to which a further 100 million euros of 2011 credits to be spent in 2012 should be added.

The new funding will specifically go towards improving the access, the quality of water and solid waste management in Gaza, as well as working with other donors on land-fill and sanitary solid-waste disposal. Additional funding for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNWRA) will provide support on education, health, relief and social services for Palestine refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Will Israel Stay Zionist?

by Paul Goodman

To Israel and Palestine…

I hope the Palestinian developer we met near Ramallah was a Muslim, because this would add an extra dimension to the story I’m about to tell. He is helping to construct a city — the first purpose-built one in part of what I hope will become the state of Palestine — called Rawabi. His Israeli suppliers must sometimes transport their goods to the fledgling city by lorry. A small road through which these big vehicles travel borders a vineyard owned by a local priest who the developer must thus — in his own word — “schmooze”. I am taken by the idea of a Muslim developer with Jewish business partners charming a Christian priest in Yiddish.

This tale of civic ambition eased by ethnic co-operation is a by-product of my first visit to Israel and Palestine, courtesy of BICOM. Rawabi is situated where the respective crossroads from Nablus to Ramallah and from Tel Aviv to Amman meet. The country throws up political, economic and cultural highways and byways, and there are many to take. Some are internal: the social protests that saw 300,000 people take to the streets last summer, the dotty destructiveness of its electoral system (pure proportional representation plus no parliamentary constituencies), the jaw-dropping success of its high-tech industries. And some are external: the possibility of Syria’s collapse spilling into Israel, the new Salafist terror presence in the Sinai — a danger to Egypt and Israel alike — and, above all, the probability of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities that could ignite a regional conflict and destabilise the world’s economy…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Zahhar: Gaza More Secure Than West Bank

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Seven years after Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip, several things have changed both at the political and the economic level, Hamas official Mahmoud Zahhar said Friday.

Speaking to Ma’an, Zahhar asserted that “Gaza is free of occupation, and contiguity with the outside world is easier as visitors from all over the world visited the coastal enclave.”

He added that one year after the disengagement local and parliamentary elections took place in 2006. “Fatah turned against the outcome of elections, a siege has been imposed and the former Egyptian regime practiced certain policies including closure of the Rafah crossing.”

Despite all of that, he said, the economic situation has improved noticeably and the Gaza Strip became self-reliant in several aspects because lands in former Israeli settlements were planted. “We are self-dependent in several aspects except petroleum and electricity.”

Asked to comment on the protests in the West Bank against the deteriorating economic conditions, Zahhar said that was a natural result of economic reliance on the United States and Israel who completely control the Palestinian economy…

           — Hat tip: ES[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Concern Over ‘Qaeda Ideology’ In Protests — Sleeping Cells Have Awakened

KUWAIT: Senior state officials have expressed concern about the emergence of extremist views during the recent protest outside the US embassy against a movie offending Islam and the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Speaking to Al- Qabas on the condition of anonymity, the sources said that “the appearance of Al-Qaeda’s ideologies, mottos and banners” during the demonstration could be an indication that “sleeping cells that have awakened”. And while the officials said that the offenses displayed by the movie are “unacceptable”, they indicated that the protest expressed during the gathering “reflected an extremist and violent ideology”, wondering at the same time if “certain people are seeking to make use of this issue to achieve certain gains”.

The sources further called authorities to launches immediate efforts to “prosecute individuals behind potential sleeping cells before they can make use of the instability created by the situation of the political scene”. “The threat is not posed by the gathering of nearly 300 people, but by the emergence of Al- Qaeda’s ideology”, the sources said. Meanwhile, three people, identified as two Kuwaiti citizens and one stateless resident, were sent to the Criminal Investigations General Department after being arrested by Hawally police over an attempt to raid the American embassy. According to a source familiar with the investigations, the three have already indicated that their actions were motivated by their attempts to “express their outrage” against the movie. In the meantime, Islamist MP Mohammad Hayef and a number of religious leaders have urged the public to avoid attending any gathering in protest against the movie “unless after verifying its goals”, and called organizers to bear full responsibility for what takes place during the demonstrations.

“Boycotting the company that produced and promotes the movie can help prevent any attempt to attack Islamic sanctities”, said a member of the annulled 2012 parliament Dr Obaid Al-Wasmi. Meanwhile, fellow member Ammar Al-Ajmi urged the Kuwaiti government to “summon the US ambassador and express the stern rejection of the Kuwaiti people and Muslims worldwide” for the movie. Al-Ajmi also called for “making sure that any person who commits a similar crime is trailed and punished” to send send a clear message to the US government that their stance allowed fools to offend Muslims’ beliefs”. Meanwhile, 2012 parliament member Badr Al-Dahoum criticized the “We are all Osama” chants heard during the protest in front of the US embassy, while fellow member Faisal Al-Yahya argued that “spreading Mohammad’s(PBUH) message of justice and ethics” is the best way to defend the Prophet (PBUH). MP Adnan Al-Abdulsamad said in the meantime that “the repeated offenses against Islam and the Prophet (PBUH) justify unifying efforts to address the real dangers threatening them”.

Also, 2012 parliament member Mohammad Al-Dallal called the Kuwait Lawyers Association to “coordinate with lawyers unions in Muslim countries around the world in order to take legal actions against any party that offends the Prophet (PBUH). Al-Dallal also called for establishing a fund supervised by the International Islamic Charitable Organization “to defend and spread the message of Mohammad (PBUH)”. Meanwhile, another 2012 parliament member Dr Ahmad Al-Azmi demanded “a firm step to demand an apology from the United States and actions against the movie’s producers”.

           — Hat tip: RR[Return to headlines]

Iran Deploys Russian-Made Submarine in Gulf

Tehran has deployed one of its Russian-made submarines in the Persian Gulf, just days after the United States and more than two dozen allies began naval exercises nearby, Iranian state television reported Tuesday.

The Taregh-1 joined the Iranian fleet in the southern port of Bandar Abbas after it was overhauled earlier this year, according to the TV report. It’s one of three Russian Kilo class submarines that Iran obtained in the early 1990s.

In May, Iran redeployed another Russian-made submarine after repairs.

The report also showed the launch of what was said to be the partially completed hull of a destroyer, the Sahand, which the TV said is expected to be ready in the near future.

Both launches came under the command of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters. He said Iran has no intention of invading other countries.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iran: Bounty on Salman Rushdie Increased to $3.3 Million

Iran will pursue makers of anti-Islam film: vice-presidenthor

DUBAI — Iran’s government will “track down” those responsible for making an amateurish film clip mocking the Prophet Mohammad, a senior official said, Iranian media reported on Monday. The video made in California and posted on YouTube portrayed the Prophet Mohammad as a womaniser and a fool. It has ignited a week of violent protests across the Muslim world. “The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran condemns … this inappropriate and offensive action,” First Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said, according to the Mehr news agency. “Certainly it will search for, track, and pursue this guilty person who … has insulted 1.5 billion Muslims in the world.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Fatwa Issued Against ‘Innocence of Muslims’ Film Producer

Hizbollah warned of “very dangerous” global repercussions if an anti-Islam film is released in its entirety, as a fatwa was issued against the film’s producer who has gone into hiding with his family…

[JP note: There’s that F word again: there are probably more fatwas flying around than you could shake a hairy koran at!]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Syria’s Assad to Purge Top Sunni Armed Forces Officials

(AGI) — Rome, 18 Sep — Italy-Syria Observatory sources claim Syria’s Assad is preparing to purge Sunnis from the armed forces. With ties to Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood, the Iraqi sources quoted by the Observatory say that in efforts to rein in revolts Syrian president has set up an elite Alawi force.

Planning to remove top Sunni armed forces officials from their posts by close of year, Assad is also claimed to have already pressed ahead with the purge within the air force and missiles departments.

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

Syrian Rebels Put $25 Million Bounty on President’s Head

(AGI) — Rome, Sept. 18 — Syrian rebels have put a $25 million reward on the head of President Bashar al Assad, “dead or alive.” The reward offer came from the commander of the Free Syrian Army, who did not wish to reveal his name, the online edition of the Israeli newspaper “Hareetz” reports.

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

The Truth About Muhammad and Aisha

by Myriam Francois-Cerrah

Innocence of Muslims repeated the claim Muhammad was a paedophile, but the story is more complex and interesting than that

Writing about Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, the Orientalist scholar W Montgomery Watt wrote: “Of all the world’s great men, none has been so much maligned as Muhammad.” His quote seems all the more poignant in light of the Islamophobic film Innocence of Muslims, which has sparked riots from Yemen to Libya and which, among other slanders, depicts Muhammad as a paedophile. This claim is a recurring one among critics of Islam, so its foundation deserves close scrutiny…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkey’s Towering Ambition

by Hugh Eakin

In March 1548, having brought the Ottoman Empire to the height of its power, Suleiman the Magnificent decided to build a mosque in Istanbul. “At that time,” an anonymous chronicler explains,

His Highness the world-ruling sultan realized the impermanence of the base world and the necessity to leave behind a monument so as to be commemorated till the end of time…Following the devout path of former sultans, he ordered the construction of a matchless mosque complex for his own noble self.

In late May of this year, Recep Tayyip Erdogan—Turkey’s powerful prime minister, a devout Muslim, and the self-styled leader of the new Middle East—announced that he would be erecting his own grand mosque above the Bosphorus. It will be more prominent than Suleiman’s. The chosen site—the Büyük Çamlica Tepesi, or Big Çamlica Hill, overlooking the city’s Asian shore—is 268 meters above sea level; it is easily the most conspicuous point of land in greater metropolitan Istanbul. (A favorite look-out spot, it is here that the protagonist in Namik Kemal’s late Ottoman novel Awakening (1876) begins a tragic love affair with a woman of loose morals.)


The larger irony is that in calling for a huge new mosque in the tradition of Sinan, Erdogan may be missing the more fundamental lesson of the Ottoman architect’s work. As Bruno Taut, the German architect who emigrated to Turkey to flee the Nazis, argued, Sinan was himself a proto-modernist whose ability to create extraordinary beauty from novel engineering had more in common with twentieth-century German functionalism than earlier Islamic architecture. Rather than imitating his predecessors’ designs, he continuously sought out new and more subtle ways to surpass them. Sinan aimed to be more elegant than his Byzantine and Ottoman forebears; Erdogan, it seems, just wants to be taller.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Russia Claims to Have Found Huge Diamond Deposit in Field

Russian scientists are claiming that a gigantic deposit of industrial diamonds found in a huge Siberian meteorite crater during Soviet times could revolutionize industry.

The Siberian branch of Russian Academy of Sciences said that the Popigai crater in eastern Siberia contains “many trillions of carats” of so-called “impact diamonds” — good for technological purposes, not for jewelry, and far exceeding the currently known global deposits of conventional diamonds.

Nikolai Pokhilenko, the head of the Geological and Mineralogical Institute in Novosibirsk, told RIA Novosti news agency Monday that the diamonds include other molecular forms of carbon. He said they could be twice as hard as conventional diamonds and therefore have superlative industrial qualities.

He said the minerals could lead to a “revolution” in various industries. “But they can’t upset a diamond market because it is shaped by diamonds for jewelry purposes.”

The deposit was discovered by Soviet scientists in the 1970s, but was left unexplored as the Soviet leadership opted for producing synthetic diamonds for industrial use. The deposit remained classified until after the Soviet collapse.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


A Letter From a Scared Actress

A few years ago, a message came in to this website on the FAQ line from a young actress from Georgia (the one from the former USSR, not the State with Atlanta in it) called Anna Gurji. She sent a link to her webpage and to films she had made in Georgia, and told me she was a fan, and if she ever came to the US, she would want to be in something of mine…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Suicide Attack: Anti-Islam Film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ Sparks Deadly Violence Yet Again

Early Tuesday morning, in a blatant Afghanistan suicide attack, a 22-year-old female belonging to the militant terrorist group Hezbi-Islami (who have ties to the Taliban) drove a car filled with 600 lbs. of explosives purposefully into an oncoming mini-bus, containing between eight to ten “foreigners,” on the highway leading to Kabul National Airport while simultaneously igniting her munitions load via her suicide vest…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Afghanistan: Suicide Bomber Hits Foreigners on Kabul Bus

Up to 12 people are reported to have been killed in a suicide bomb attack on a minibus carrying foreigners near the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Eight South Africans were killed in the attack which took place on a major road leading to the international airport. Afghan insurgent group Hezb-e-Islami has claimed responsibility for the blast, which it says was in response to a recent anti-Islam video. It comes as Nato says it will restrict operations with Afghan forces from now. A South African foreign affairs ministry spokesman told the AFP news agency the eight victims worked for a private aviation company. “We have identified those who have been killed, but we cannot release their names until we have notified their next of kin,” Nelson Kgwete, a spokesman for South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Co-operation told the BBC. “This is the first time that we’ve had South Africans killed in such a manner in the region.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

‘Blasphemous’ Film Protests in Thailand and Indonesia

(AGI) Bangkok — About 200 people protested the “blasphemous” American film about the Prophet Mohammed in front of the U.S.

consulate in Medan, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Some of the demonstrators set fire to American flags. About 500 Muslims, including women and children, protested in front of the U.S. embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. The demonstrators were accompanied by 200 police officers and went ahead without incident.

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

NATO Scales Back Joint Operations With Afghan Forces

Nato-led forces are scaling back joint operations with Afghan forces after a spate of “insider attacks” in which Afghan recruits turned their weapons on Western allies, officers said on Tuesday.

The move marked a setback for the coalition’s war strategy, as the planned withdrawal of Western troops hinges on training and advising Afghan forces to take over security by the end of 2014. Under the new order, most joint patrols and advisory work with Afghan troops will only be conducted at the battalion level and above, while co-operation with smaller units will have to be “evaluated on a case-by-case basis and approved by RC (regional) commanders”, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement. As the so-called “green-on-blue” attacks have grown, US commanders have gradually acknowledged the assaults pose a serious threat to the war effort and have struggled to stem the problem. The commander of US and Nato troops in Afghanistan, General John Allen, “has directed all operational commanders to review force protection and tactical activities in the light of the current circumstances,” a US military officer in Washington said in an email. “This guidance was given at the recommendation of, and in conjunction with, key Afghan leaders,” said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

NATO Afghan Decision: Philip Hammond Urged to Address MPs

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond is facing calls to make a statement to MPs on Nato’s decision to scale down joint patrols with Afghan forces.

Two British soldiers were killed at the weekend, in one of a series of attacks by “rogue” Afghan troops. Nato’s change of strategy comes a day after Mr Hammond insisted such attacks would not “derail” its operations. Labour MP Denis MacShane urged Mr Hammond to make a second statement, updating the Commons on the situation. Sergeant Gareth Thursby and Private Thomas Wroe, both of 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, were shot dead on Saturday by a rogue Afghan soldier who turned on them after faking injury…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Newsweek’s ‘Muslim Rage’: A Sickening Piece of Shock Journalism That Cheapens a Once Great Magazine

by Rob Crilly

As angry protests spread through the Muslim world, I knew where to head. The Red Mosque is only a five minute drive from my home in Islamabad and protests were planned for the end of Friday prayers. Pakistan has a reputation for extremism and the mosque was once the scene of a bloody showdown with security forces that ended with hundreds dead and injured. If there was to be trouble, it would be there. By the time I arrived the crowd had already peaked at about 30. There were rabble rousers to be sure, but on a nice September afternoon most of the worshippers watched from a distance, bought an ice cream and headed home to their families.

None of that matters to Tina Brown and her increasingly threadbare magazine Newsweek. Sensational covers now seem to be the only way to keep selling the magazine, whether it’s declaring Obama to be the first gay president or a recycled picture of asparagus spears and a juicy pair of lips to tease customers into parting with their change. This week hits the Islamaphobia button and looks like it has come straight from a storyboard laid out by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the fraudster behind Innocence of Muslims. Two men — bearded and therefore we must assume Muslims — grab at each other in a terrifying portrait of anger, headlined “Muslim Rage”. The close-cropped image is a masterpiece of its kind, robbing the subjects of context. It could be a picture of two men who have just watched their football team go behind. It could be a funeral. It might be a crowd of 5 rather than 5000. None of that matters. Instead we are expected to think one thing: They are coming for us…

[JP note: They are indeed.]

[Reader comment by bundamba on 18 September 2012 at about 11 am.]

There is no room for islam in any democracy.

[Reader comment by Simon Norwich on 18 September 2012 at about 1015 am.]

Rob Crilly, I look forward to you visiting the 12 families of those blown up by the suicide bomber in Afghanistan today as a protest against the anti-Muslim film, the 3000 families bereaved after 9/11, the 50 families bereaved after 7/7, and the millions of women who had the misfortune to be born in the Islamic world and so forced to live their whole lives in subservience (boy, you sure have a lot of time on your hands!) and telling them that there’s no such thing as “Muslim Rage”. And you’d better hurry in any case, because there are thousands more women throughout the Islamic world who will soon be killed for “dishonouring” their families.

Of course not all “Muslims” seek to kill or physically abuse other people, but Islam generates a mindset that provokes vast numbers of Muslims to do abhorant things and to have no respect for freedom and democracy. As for the majority who keep themselves to themselves — that’s exactly what they do! They are still so affected by the mindset of Islam (or the “rage” of the extremeists) that they fail to stamp out the dangerous behaviour of the extremists. There is nothing like the total unequivocal condemnation of the extremists that would be the case in non-Muslim countries and communities.

[Reader comment by spencerisright on 18 September 2012 at about 1015 am.]

Am I reading the guardian or the telegraph? Get rid of this fool before we see him on the internet in an orange suit. (Sorry)

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Troops Out! Pressure Grows to Stop Wasting Lives in Afghanistan

‘Green on blue’ killings are last straw for politicians who agree British lives are being sacrificed needlessly

CRACKS are growing in the cross-party consensus on the war in Afghanistan because of the increasing number of British soldiers being killed by the Afghan recruits they are meant to train. The Daily Mail today leads the charge with its report of the murder of Private Tom Wroe, 18, and Sgt Gareth Thursby, 29, a father of two, by an Afghan security recruit under the headline: ‘How many more wasted lives?’


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

US Suspends Most Joint Operations With Afghan Forces

The U.S. military has suspended the bulk of joint field operations with Afghan troops amid a wave of so-called insider attacks and concern about protests over an anti-Islam film.

Fox News has learned that while U.S. troops are still patrolling, as are the Afghans, the two sides are not running operations together for the time being without special approval.

Until now, U.S. and NATO troops routinely conducted operations with their Afghan counterparts. But under the new order, such operations will now require the approval of a regional commander. Fox News was told the step is a temporary measure.

The move comes after Afghan police on Sunday killed four American soldiers, and a gunman in an Afghan militia uniform shot dead two British soldiers a day earlier. It also comes in the wake of the week-long wave of protests across the Muslim world over an anti-Islam film.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force put out a statement stressing that ISAF took “some prudent, but temporary, measures to reduce our profile and vulnerability to civil disturbances or insider attacks” in response to the protests.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Chinese General: Prepare for Combat

Top Chinese general in unusual move tells troops to ready for combat with Japan

By Bill Gertz

China’s most powerful military leader, in an usual public statement, last week ordered military forces to prepare for combat, as Chinese warships deployed to waters near disputed islands and anti-Japan protests throughout the country turned violent.

Protests against the Japanese government’s purchase of three privately held islands in the Senkakus chain led to mass street protests, the burning of Japanese flags, and attacks on Japanese businesses and cars in several cities. Some carried signs that read “Kill all Japanese,” and “Fight to the Death” over disputed islands. One sign urged China to threaten a nuclear strike against Japan.

Gen. Xu Caihou, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, considered the most senior military political commissar, said Friday that military forces should be “prepared for any possible military combat,” state run Xinhua news agency reported.

Heightened tensions over the Senkakus come as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in China Monday.

Panetta, in comments made in Japan shortly before traveling to China, said, “We are concerned by the demonstrations, and we are concerned by the conflict that is taking place over the Senkaku islands.”

“The message I have tried to convey is we have to urge calm and restraint on all sides,” he said, noting any “provocation” could produce a “blow up.”

Panetta repeated the U.S. position that it is neutral in the dispute over Japan’s Senkaku islands, a small chain of islets located south of Okinawa and north of Taiwan. But he also reaffirmed the U.S. defense commitment to Japan, a treaty ally…

           — Hat tip: DS[Return to headlines]

Chinese Ships Sail Into Waters Near Disputed Islands

Chinese ships have entered waters surrounding the disputed islands. Media have also reported a flotilla of about 1,000 Chinese fishing boats en route to the area and further anti-Japan protests in China.

The Chinese government dispatched ships to the disputed island chain on Tuesday after learning that Japanese activists had briefly occupied one of the islands. The two activists left a small boat offshore and swam to the island before returning home.

“The unlawful landing of the Japanese right-wingers on the Chinese territory of the Diaoyu islands was a gravely provocative action violating Chinese territorial sovereignty,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement. Japan refers to the islands as Senkaku.

Last week, Japan announced that it had completed the purchase of the islands from Japanese private owners.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in China for unrelated meetings, called for restraint. A strong ally of Japan, the United States has not taken sides in the dispute.

“We reserve the right to take further action, although we hope to settle the issue through peaceful negotiation,” state media quoted Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie as saying after he met with Panetta on Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Oil Reserves at Heart of Japan-China Island Dispute

It all comes down to black gold. Anti-Japan protests erupted in at least 100 Chinese cities on Tuesday, as anger over a struggle for control of oil and gas in the East China Sea turned violent, and increased the tension between the countries.

The focal point is a dispute over a remote island chain known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, lying east of China and south-west of Japan (see map). The US handed them to Japan after the second world war, but China says that it has a prior claim. Japan recently purchased several of the islands back from a private Japanese owner, and their nationalisation has ratcheted up anger in China.

“There is potential oil and gas,” says Pui-Kwan Tse of the US Geological Survey. It’s not clear how much is there, or whether it would be economical to drill for it.

However, the East China Sea is rich in oil and gas reserves, many of which have only been discovered in recent decades. China and Japan are both eager to stake a claim: China’s energy demand is growing rapidly, and Japan’s reserves are limited.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Girls Are Not Free to Speak Out in Islamic Countries

I AM so disheartened to read that an eight-year-old Muslim girl living in Australia has such a strong desire for jihad and to live under sharia law.

I wonder if she understands that her right to speak to men, or to be educated, or to live in the freedom she experiences here in Australia, would not exist under extremist Muslim laws. If she lived in certain Middle East countries and was unfortunate enough to be raped, she could be stoned to death. What have we done, in our compassionate embrace of multiculturalism, to deserve this lack of respect for our own culture?

Daphne Thompson, Middle Ridge, Qld


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Retrial Granted for Afghan Refugee Who Killed His Wife After Complaining She Was Too Australian

AN Afghan refugee who killed his wife after complaining she had become “too Australia” has been granted a retrial.

Soltan Ahmad Azizi was jailed for a minimum of 17 1/2 years in 2010 after he strangled Marzieh Rahimi with her veil at the couple’s Hampton Park home in 2007.

The mother-of five was killed in front of the couple’s three-month-old toddler and baby, 22 months.

Azizi allegedly admitted killing his wife and even called the police afterwards, telling them, ‘You can handcuff me now.”

But in calling for an appeal, lawyers for Azizi argued jurors in the original trial were subject to inadmissible or prejudicial evidence.

They claimed alleged statements by Ms Rahimi about previous physical, psychological and emotional abouse by Azizi were not relevant and should have been excluded.

The trial heard Ms Rahimi had complained that her husband had been violent since the first night of their marriage and she wanted a divorce.

It was also claimed Ms Rahimi, 33, had told social workers her husband had branded her a slave with no rights.

The court heard Azizi believed he could dominate his wife and at times had locked her out of their Hampton Park home.

Just days before killing her, he had complained to his sister-in-law in a phone call that his wife was not docile enough and had become “too Australian”.

The jury was told Azizi told police he didn’t plan to kill Ms Rahimi.

He allegedly said he punched her, then “choked her with her veil”; he then rang 000, telling the operator, “I killed my wife . . . come see. You come. My kids are only little.”

Azizi pleaded not guilty to murder, with his lawyers claiming he had not intended to kill his wife.

But a jury found him guilty of murder.

In seeking an appeal, lawyers also argued the jury was not left to decide an alternative verdict of defensive homicide, a law intended to shield battered women from murder convictions.

The law carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail; the maximum for murder is life imprisonment.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

The Anti-Muslim MP Not Allowed to Visit Australia

by Paul Sheehan

My hands are tied. This, in essence, is the response that Chris Bowen, the Minister for Immigration, has given to questions in Parliament this week about why he granted a visa to an Islamic fundamentalist, Taji Mustafa, who spoke over the weekend at a conference organised by Hizb ut-Tahrir, a group notorious for religious intolerance, disdain for Western values and sympathy for jihad.

“Hizb ut-Tahrir has not been proscribed in Australia and nor has it been proscribed in the United States or the United Kingdom,” Bowen told Parliament on Monday. “This entry permit was issued in accordance with the normal procedures for British nationals.”

So Taji Mustafa came, spoke, and, by unfortunate coexistence, the weekend was marked by a violent demonstration by a group of rabidly anti-Western Islamic fundamentalists in Sydney.

What nobody knew was that at the same time, the minister had been sitting on a visa application by a member of the Dutch parliament who is an outspoken opponent of Islamic fundamentalism in the Netherlands and Belgium.


More than three weeks ago, the Dutch MP, Geert Wilders, applied for a visa to visit Australia. Visa applications by his support group of police and staff were granted within three days. Wilders is still waiting. He applied in August.

Wilders is scheduled to give two speeches in Australia in October. Because of his parliamentary obligations, if Bowen continues to sit on the application Wilders will have to cancel the trip. That may be Bowen’s intent.

Wilders has already paid a high price for his willingness to confront religious fundamentalism in his own country. He lives under 24-hour police protection. He has had numerous threats on his life.

Being a prominent critic of Islamic fundamentalism is highly dangerous in the Netherlands, which has a large Muslim population. The most conspicuous critics of Muslim extremism in Holland, prior to Wilders, were a film director, Theo Van Gogh and another member of the Dutch parliament, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Both were subject to numerous death threats. Van Gogh was stabbed to death on a street in Amsterdam. Hirsi Ali was subjected to several assassination attempts. She was forced to live in secret locations. She left the country permanently and now lives in the United States.

Now Wilders, by condemning Muslim extremism, is himself condemned to live with menace, which proves his point…

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

What Do You Want to Know About Islam?

A low-budget film about Islam that has been dubbed highly offensive by some and ridiculous by others has sparked a wave of protests around the world since last Tuesday. Over the weekend, anger spread to the West, with violence erupting in Sydney and London. Six police were injured in the Sydney clashes and several protesters arrested, sending Australia’s Muslim leaders into damage control and prompting them to to call for calm…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Boko Haram Terrorists Kill Nigerian State Attorney General

(AGI) Abuja — The attorney general for Nigeria’s Borno State, Zanna Malam Gana, was murdered by Boko Haram terrorists on Monday, hours after the shooting death of two of the group’s leaders. Boko Haram is an Islamic terror group linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI). The Nigerian government confirmed that a group shot Gana in his hometown of Bama, an isolated sub-Saharan center, which is about 100 km from Borno’s state capital of Maiduguri. On receving the news, the state’s governor, Kashim Shettima, left the federal capital of Abuja, where he had gone to receive a prize in journalism and returned home. The former director of Nigeria’s prison system, Ibrahim Jarma, and his bodyguard were murdered by two terrorists on Monday night at the entrance of a mosque in the city of Azare in northeastern Bauchi State. Another person was wounded.

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


Boat Carrying 139 Immigrants Stopped Off Tunisian Coast

(AGI) Tunis — A boat carrying 139 immigrants to Italy has been stopped by the Coast Guard off the Tunisian coast according to the local TAP news agency which emphasized that most of those on board came from southern Tunisia. The vessel was stopped off the Island of Djerba. On September 7th another vessel carrying over 100 Tunisians sunk off the island of Lampedusa and only 56 people were saved.

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


Looking Back at Salman Rushdie’s the Satanic Verses

Writers, broadcasters, friends and publishing insiders recall what it was like to be caught up in the most controversial story in recent literary history, The Satanic Verses and the ensuing fatwa against its author, as Salman Rushdie prepares to bring out his eagerly awaited memoir

Geoffrey Robertson QC

Defended Salman Rushdie in the blasphemy case brought against The Satanic Verses

On Valentine’s Day 1989, the dying Ayatollah Khomeini launched the mother of all prosecutions against Salman Rushdie. As with the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland, his fatwa was a case of sentence first and trial later. Rushdie’s difficulties brought many of his north London friends into a closer and warmer contact with officers of the Special Branch than they might ever have thought likely. It was not long before a private prosecutor tried to issue a summons against the author of The Satanic Verses to attend, at the Old Bailey, his trial for blasphemous libel. The magistrate refused, so the prosecutor appealed to the High Court, where 13 Muslim barristers attempted to get the book banned, but their action forced them to draft an indictment against Rushdie and his publishers specifying with legal precision the way in which the novel had blasphemed.

Their efforts convinced me that The Satanic Verses is not blasphemous. The book is the fictional story of two men, infused with Islam but confused by the temptations of the west. The first survives by returning to his roots. The other, Gibreel, poleaxed by his spiritual need to believe in God and his intellectual inability to return to the faith, finally kills himself. The plot, in short, is not an advertisement for apostasy. Our opponents could in the end only allege six blasphemies in the book, and each one was based either on a misreading or on theological error:

God is described in the book as “The Destroyer of Man”. As He is similarly described in the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation, especially of men who are unbelievers or enemies of the Jews.

The book contains criticisms of the prophet Abraham for his conduct towards Hagar and Ismael, their son. Abraham deserves criticism and is not seen as without fault in Islamic, Christian or Jewish traditions.

Rushdie refers to Muhammad as “Mahoud”. He called him variously “a conjuror”, “a magician” and a “false prophet”. Rushdie does nothing of the sort. These descriptions come from the mouth of a drunken apostate, a character with whom neither author nor reader has sympathy.

The book grossly insults the wives of the Prophet by having whores use their names. This is the point. The wives are expressly said to be chaste, and the adoption of their names by whores in a brothel symbolises the perversion and decadence into which the city had fallen before it surrendered to Islam.

The book vilifies the close companions of the Prophet, calling them “bums from Persia” and “clowns”, whereas the Qur’an treats them as men of righteousness. These phrases are used by a depraved hack poet, hired to pen propaganda against the Prophet. They do not represent the author’s beliefs.

The book criticises the teachings of Islam for containing too many rules and seeking to control every aspect of everyday life. Characters in the book do make such criticisms, but they cannot amount to blasphemy because they do not vilify God or the Prophet.

The case had one very satisfying result: the Home Office announced it would not allow further blasphemy prosecutions, declaring “how inappropriate our legal mechanisms are for dealing with matters of faith and individual belief … the strength of their own belief is the best armour against mockers and blasphemers”. Amen to that (Pussy Riot prosecutors please note). The crime of blasphemy has now been abolished, although this wretched legacy of English law still permits courtroom persecutions in Pakistan and some other countries of the Commonwealth.

Although Rushdie remains alive and well after nearly 24 years, spare a thought for the families of those who did not get away from this theocratic regime: the 162 democrats and dissidents assassinated in Europe; the thousands of atheist and Marxist prisoners murdered in prison; the green movement protesters and their lawyers (15 so far) who have been sentenced to long prison terms for being their lawyers. Had the world devised a way to bring this regime to justice for devising the Rushdie fatwa, we would not now have to worry about what it will do with nuclear weapons…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Anonymous said...

@ Catholics Then, Muslims Now.

Still playing the victim?

The reason people distrust islam, not muslims as individuals, is the long record of very bad deeds islam have on its shoulder.

Change that and repent and "We" might change our view on islam.

Thats the deal. Take it or leave it.