Monday, September 01, 2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/1/2008

Buckets of Urine, Slingshots, Anti-Bus Weapons Seized in Raid on Anti-RNC Protesters
Europe and the EU
Eiffel Tower’s Lights Are to Go Out
Ombudsman Sues Firm Over Muslim Woman’s Firing
UK: Abu Qatada Meets With Convicted Egyptian Extremist While on Bail [PDF]
Middle East
Dubai Jails Women for ‘Lesbian Acts’ on Beach
French Lawyers Offer Support for “Messenger of Allah Unites Us” Lawsuit Against Danish Cartoonist- Paper
Iran’s Foreign Policy and Drive Toward Nuclear Weapons
Sub-Saharan Africa
Nigerian Man to Divorce 82 of His 86 Wives
Latin America
Iran and Bolivia Are Natural Allies: Ahmadinejad
EU Court Ruling Threatens Denmark’s Immigration Policy
Audiard’s Un Prophète Starts Shoot
The OIC Secretary General Received the Russian Ambassador

Thanks to Barry Rubin, Cimmerian, Jewish Odysseus, TB, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Details are below the fold.
- - - - - - - - -

Buckets of Urine, Slingshots, Anti-Bus Weapons Seized in Raid on Anti-RNC Protesters

Ramsey County sheriff’s deputies found weapons and devices to disable buses — among other items — in searches in the Twin Cities last night and today.

Authorities said the items came from “key members of the RNC Welcoming Committee,” a self-described anarchist group.

Five people have been arrested and four properties have been searched, according to the sheriff’s office.

At 8 a.m. today, the sheriff’s office executed search warrants at three Minneapolis homes — 2301 23rd Ave. S., 3500 Harriet Ave. and 3240 17th Ave. S. The FBI, Minneapolis police and the Hennepin County sheriff’s office assisted them.

“The ‘Welcoming Committee’ is a criminal enterprise made up of 35 anarchists who are intent on committing criminal acts

Police document

Warrant for Minneapolis raid before and during the Republican National Convention,” said Sheriff Bob Fletcher in a statement. “These acts include tactics to blockade and disable delegate buses, breaching venue security and injuring police officers. They have recruited assistance in their criminal conspiracy from other anarchists groups throughout the country. Through their plans and actions they have exhibited a blatant disregard for the law and the safety of others.”

The statement said the items found in the searches included:

  • Materials to create “sleeping dragons” (PVC pipe, chicken wire, duct tape), which is when protesters lock themselves together
  • Large amounts of urine, including three to five gallon buckets of urine
  • Wrist rockets (high-powered slingshots)
  • A machete, hatchet and several throwing knives
  • a gas mask and filter
  • Empty glass bottles
  • Rags
  • Flammable liquids
  • Homemade caltrops (devises used to disable buses in roads)
  • Metal pipes
  • Axes
  • Bolt cutters
  • Sledge hammers
  • Rapelling equipment
  • Kryptonite locks
  • Empty plastic buckets cut and made into shields
  • Material for protective padding
  • An Army helmet.

The five people being held at the Hennepin County jail are under arrest on suspicion of conspiracy to riot, conspiracy to commit civil disorder and conspiracy to damage property.

           — Hat tip: Jewish Odysseus[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Eiffel Tower’s Lights Are to Go Out

The Eiffel tower is to lose its sparkle as thousands of its twinkling light bulbs are cut in a new green initiative, it has emerged.

The decision is part of a plan to make the Eiffel tower and other monuments more environmentally friendly. Photo: Paul Grover The French capital’s top landmark first donned its “diamond dress” of flash bulbs to mark the new millennium, but they were kept on due to popular demand.

Since January 1, 2000, every hour after dusk, the 20,000 bulbs twinkle brilliantly for ten minutes in what has become a tourist hit.

But starting next month, Sete, the company subcontracted by Paris to run the tower, has decided to half the time the bulbs are on, cutting illumination from 400 to 200 hours per year.

“It’s above all a symbolic decision, as the cost savings are not enormous”, said the tourism deputy of Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë.

“But in terms of image, it shows that we are putting sustainable development into practice”, Jean-Bertrand Bros told the Journal du Dimanche.

[Return to headlines]

Ombudsman Sues Firm Over Muslim Woman’s Firing

Sweden’s ombudsman for ethnic discrimination (DO) has sued a cleaning company after it dismissed a Muslim woman for not dressing appropriately on the job.

In a suit filed with the Labour Court, the ombudsman is demanding the company pay 120,000 kronor ($18,500) in damages.

The woman was hired in October 2007 to work as a cleaner for the company, which is based in Anderstorp in southern Sweden.

But after working for only a few days, the woman was let go.

The company claimed she was fired because her choice of clothing, a long skirt, made it impossible for her to continue with the job.

According to the company, working as a cleaner requires that one wear long pants.

The woman said she was not informed about the clothing regulations and that she wore the skirt because of her religion.

According to Eva Hagström, a lawyer from the ombudsman’s office, the incident is just one of many in which Muslim women are discriminated against on account of their clothing.

“These women encounter problems in both their professional life and in connection with everyday activities. It’s an ongoing discrimination which shuts these women out and that is something we can’t accept,” she said in a statement.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

UK: Abu Qatada Meets With Convicted Egyptian Extremist While on Bail [PDF]

On Saturday, the Daily Mail published a photograph of Abu Qatada and another man who it described as a “friend”. The Centre for Social Cohesion has identified the man as Yasser al-Sirri, a former member of Egypt’s Islamic Jihad group who has been convicted in Egypt and sentenced to death in absentia for his part in a 1993 car bomb attack.

The Daily Mail reported that Qatada was in conversation with al-Sirri “who then appeared to relay Qatada’s words via his mobile to another person”. As part of his bail conditions, Abu Qatada — a Jordanian preacher sometimes described as “bin Laden’s spiritual ambassador in Europe” — is under 22-hour curfew and is banned from making calls on a mobile telephone, banned from leading prayers or giving religious advice, and cannot make any statements which he believes will be published. He is also prohibited from contacting around 20 Islamic extremists (including Osama bin Laden) whose names are listed as part of the bail conditions.

Even though al-Sirri’s name is not on this list, Abu Qatada’s meeting with him — and the apparent relaying of messages to others through al-Sirri’s mobile phone — raises serious questions about the nature of Abu Qatada’s bail conditions and the degree to which they are being enforced. This is particularly true in light of al-Sirri’s past contact with a variety of extremists reportedly ranging from Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s number two, to UK-based extremists such as Omar Bakri and Abu Hamza.

Background: Yasser al-Sirri

Yasser al-Sirri was born in Suez, Egypt, in 1962. In the 1980s, he became involved in extreme Islamic politics before joining an Egyptian group called Islamic Jihad, which aimed to violently overthrow Egypt’s government and replace it with an Islamic state. In 1991, Ayman al-Zawahiri took control of the group which then carried out a series of violent attacks, including assassination attempts against several government officials.

In 1993 the group attempted to assassinate Atef Sedki, the then-Prime Minister, using a car-bomb. The attack, carried out outside an all-girl’s school, failed but killed a young girl. Al-Sirri, who had left Egypt for Sudan the previous year, admits he was involved with the group at the time but says he took no direct part in the operation. In 1996, he told the Guardian that he was innocent of the attack but also said that Egyptians had a right to “revolt” against the government: “There has to be rule by sharia [Koranic law] and the people must decide. If they can’t do that through elections, they must obviously revolt against the government. As for my presence in Britain, I came here in good faith and it is incumbent on me not to break its laws.” [The Guardian: 19 January 1996]

In 1994, he was sentenced to death in absentia by an Egyptian court for his role in the attack. In 1998, al-Sirri left Egypt for Yemen where he worked in the country’s Education Ministry. In 1993, he left Yemen and travelled to Sudan, where Osama bin Laden was then based. According to the US journalist Lawrence Wright, al-Sirri met al-Zawahiri there. In 1994, he arrived in the UK — but was detained soon afterwards under immigration laws, after entering the country under a false passport.

Since al-Sirri arrived in the UK, Egypt has repeatedly requested his extradition and has always been turned down. Once in London, al-Sirri denied that he was still working with Islamic Jihad. Despite this, The Guardian reported that Islamic Jihad’s press release had been faxed from al-Sirri’s telephone number [The Guardian: 19 January 1996]. In 1999, he was arrested by British anti-terrorism officers but was later released.

In October 2001, al-Sirri was arrested and charged with conspiring to murder Ahmed Shah Masssoud, the Afghan leader who was killed by two Arab suicide bombers just before the 11 September attacks. Al-Sirri was accused of providing the two bombers with fake identification which enabled them to gain access to Massoud. Al-Sirri was later cleared of all charges with the judge describing him as “an innocent fall guy”.

During his time in the UK, al-Sirri has worked closely with many leading Islamic extremists. In October 2000, al-Sirri and Abu Hamza took part in a demonstration outside the Egyptian embassy. In October 2001, al-Sirri’s organisation, The Islamic Observation Centre, reportedly issued a statement from Mohammed Atef, al-Qaeda’s military commander — before it was reported anywhere else. In 2002, al-Sirri took part in a conference which also featured Omar Bakri, Abu Hamza and Muhammad al-Massari, a Saudi dissident. On 20 May 2005, he and Omar Bakri held a protest outside the US embassy to demonstrate against allegations that US soldiers had flushed a Quran down a toilet. On 3 February 2006, al-Sirri — together with Anjem Choudary — led the demonstration against the Jyllands-Posten cartoons of Muhammad outside the Danish embassy in London.

CSC conclusion:

Although al-Sirri has never been convicted in a UK court there is ample evidence to suggest that he has been involved in radical Islamic movements since at least the early 1990s. During this time, he has been closely associated with leading extremists both in the UK and abroad. That Abu Qatada is allowed to freely meet with such an individual — and to apparently use him to pass on messages — indicates serious flaws in Abu Qatada’s bail conditions.

           — Hat tip: Cimmerian[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Dubai Jails Women for ‘Lesbian Acts’ on Beach

Two foreign women have been jailed for a month for kissing and fondling each other and engaging in “indecent acts” on a public beach in Dubai, the media reported on Sunday.

The Dubai Court of Appeal upheld the one-month jail sentence handed down by a lower court to the women, a 30-year-old Lebanese national and a 36-year-old Bulgarian who both pleaded not guilty, the UAE’s 7Days newspaper said.

Prosecutors had charged the women with kissing, groping each other and “indecent acts in public,” the paper said, adding that this was the first case of its kind in the United Arab Emirates.

According to police reports, the two women were seen being intimate with each other on Al Mamzar public beach between the emirates of Sharjah and Dubai in April.

Witnesses told the paper that: “the Lebanese woman was lying on top of the Bulgarian and the two were cuddling and kissing each other in front of us.”

One witness admited to calling the police “because it was indecent especially as there were some families around,” 7Days reported.

The two women will be deported after serving their sentences.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

French Lawyers Offer Support for “Messenger of Allah Unites Us” Lawsuit Against Danish Cartoonist- Paper

AMMAN — A group of French lawyers are currently studying the possibility of filing a lawsuit against Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard in support of the “Messenger of Allah Unites Us” campaign, a Jordanian newspaper reported today.

The English Daily Jordan Times said Osama Bitar, a lawyer with the campaign, said on Saturday that French lawyers have expressed their support for the campaign and its lawsuit against Westergaard, who drew inflammatory caricatures seen as insulting to the Prophet Mohammad.

“The lawyers are studying the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the cartoonist in accordance with French and international law such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Bitar, who returned from a weeklong visit to Paris on Friday, told the newspaper.

The French lawyers in question said they are also considering contacting colleagues in other European countries to support the campaign and file separate lawsuits against Westergaard, according to Bitar.

“The idea of European lawyers joining us in the campaign and supporting our efforts is tremendous. We are defending Islam in a civilised way and are trying to hold those responsible for the caricatures accountable according to the law,” Bitar stressed.

The 73-year-old Danish cartoonist said last week he will not appear before a court in Amman even if he receives an official notification, citing “hate remarks” by campaign organisers and insisting that he only was “doing his job.”

Westergaard was subpoenaed by the Amman prosecutor general in early June along with several Danish journalists and editors involved in the republication of the caricatures, which spurred worldwide protests among Muslims.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Iran’s Foreign Policy and Drive Toward Nuclear Weapons

Panel Discussion

On May 22, 2008, the U.S. Department of State’s International Information Programs in Washington D.C., the Public Affairs Office at the U.S. Embassy in Israel, and the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center jointly held an international videoconference seminar focusing on Iranian foreign policy and the country’s drive toward nuclear weapons.

Brief biographies of the participants can be found at the end of the article. This seminar is part of the GLORIA Center’s Experts Forum series.

Menashe Amir: We are facing an Iranian president with limited abilities in dealing with the country’s problems and with limited support.

There have been big expectations in Iran based on the fact that the price of oil has risen to over $120 a barrel and Iran gained more than $80 billion during the last 12 months. It was assumed that this money would solve some of Iran’s radical economic problems, but it hasn’t. Inflation is serious—around 30 percent—though the official numbers say about 13 percent. Social gaps in the country are widening. Dissatisfaction is general.

If we speak about the functioning of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government, we see that he has changed many of his ministers in the last three years. This is happening because Ahmadinejad belongs to a very narrow group. There are many in Iran who say his declarations about wiping Israel off the map and his grandiose claims about Iranian nuclear achievements have severely damaged Iranian interests. Today it looks as if he has less chance to be re-elected as the next president of Iran.

A central question in Iran regarding the working relations between the president and the leader, Ayatollah Khamene’i, is whether the two are cooperating or competing against each other, and who is the main leader? Another question is about the role of the Revolutionary Guards, a group which is close to Ahmadinejad…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigerian Man to Divorce 82 of His 86 Wives

A Nigerian religious leader has accepted an Islamic decree ordering him to divorce all but four of his 86 wives. reports that 84-year-old Mohammadu Bello Abubakar was ordered by the emir of Bida to comply with the decree. Divorcing all but four of his spouses has saved Abubakar from a death sentence. He must divorce all 82 women within two days.

According to BBC News, Mr Bello Abubakar was originally sentenced to death by Jamatu Nasril Islam, one of Nigeria’s top Islamic bodies, for the crime of having more than four wives. He had challenged Islamic scholars, arguing that there was no punishment stated in the Koran for having more than four wives.

The sentence was lifted when Mr Abubakar eventually agreed to comply with the decree but he was then threatened with eviction from his home.

BBC reports that Abubakar, a former teacher and Islamic preacher, lives in Niger State with his wives and at least 170 children. Niger is one of the Muslim majority states to have reintroduced Sharia punishments since the turn of the century. Although several people have been sentenced to death for adultery by Sharia courts, none of these sentences have been carried out to date.

           — Hat tip: Cimmerian[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Iran and Bolivia Are Natural Allies: Ahmadinejad

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Bolivia’s visiting left-wing President Evo Morales on Monday their two nations are natural allies and would boost energy ties, state media reported.

“The two revolutionary nations and the governments of Iran and Bolivia are natural allies and will boost their relations in the fields of commerce, industry, agriculture, gas, oil and politics,” he told Morales on the first day of a two-day trip to Tehran.

“We are striding on a common path towards a brighter future and will remain by each other’s side and supportive of one another under any circumstances,” he said, quoted by the state-run television news website.

The website also quoted Morales, whose country sits on South America’s second largest gas reserves, as saying he supports Ahmadinejad.

“I support and praise Mr Ahmadinejad’s stance against imperialism and defending the rights of the Iranian people,” he said.” I also hail Iranian progress in industry and agriculture.”

Morales, who in 2006 became the first indigenous leader of Bolivia, left La Paz on Friday on a trip to reinforce new diplomatic ties with Tehran.

Energy-rich La Paz and Tehran established relations in September 2007 when Ahmadinejad made an official trip to Bolivia to sign trade and energy accords. Their growing ties have raised concerns in Washington.

In La Paz, Ahmadinejad and Morales signed a joint statement recognizing “the rights of developing nations to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”

The United States and its European allies fear that Iran is seeking to build an atomic bomb under the guise of its civilian nuclear programme, a charge that Tehran vehemently denies.

Within Latin America, Bolivia has aligned itself with Venezuela and Cuba, and rejects U.S. influence in the region.

At the time of the La Paz visit, Iran’s top Latin America diplomat, Safar Ali Eslamian, denied his country was forming an anti-U.S. bloc with Venezuela and Bolivia, two countries that support Tehran’s nuclear programme.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


EU Court Ruling Threatens Denmark’s Immigration Policy

(COPENHAGEN) — A ruling by the European Court of Justice may sound the death knell for Denmark’s restrictive immigration policy by forcing it to ease family reunification rules, and could trigger a government crisis down the road.

The July 25 ruling by the EU’s highest legal body stipulated that under a 2004 European Union directive on free circulation of people within the bloc, EU members may not refuse entry or right of residence to non-EU spouses and family.

This means a Danish citizen can bring his or her spouse to Denmark even if the spouse is a failed asylum seeker or previously resided illegally in the EU.

The ruling has gone largely unnoticed in the rest of the bloc, but has sparked a fiery debate in Denmark, where strict immigration laws block family reunification for non-EU citizens residing in the Scandinavian country illegally and in cases where one of the spouses is under the age of 24.

“The Danish government strongly disagrees with this ruling” which undermines its family reunification policy, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.

“Denmark determines its own immigration policy and it remains unchanged,” he stressed. “The government will not tolerate having its family reunification rules hijacked,” he added.

He called the EU court ruling “unreasonable”, and has formally expressed his opposition to the European Commission. He is trying to persuade several other member states that share his point of view, among them Britain, Germany and Italy, to have it changed.

The ruling is “in stark contrast to the efforts to combat illegal immigration in the EU,” he said.

Strict immigration policy is a cornerstone of Denmark’s Liberal-Conservative minority government, which has retained power since 2001 thanks to the informal support of its far-right ally, the Danish People’s Party (DPP).

Its immigration legislation, broadly supported by Danes, is among the most restrictive in Europe.

The strict rules have led to a sharp drop in the number of people who have immigrated to Denmark as part of family reunifications, from about 13,000 in 2001 to 4,500 in 2007.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Audiard’s Un Prophète Starts Shoot

Filming began a week ago on the fifth feature by multi award-winning director Jacques Audiard. Un prophète will recount the criminal rise of a young French-Arab boy who joins the Corsican mafia. Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif, Reda Kateb, Jean-Marc Michelangeli, Hichem Yacoubi, Gilles Cohen, Antoine Basler, Guillaume Verdier and Leila Bekhti will star.

Winner of a César for Best Feature Debut in 1994 with See How They Fall, Best Screenplay at Cannes 1996 with A Self-Made Hero, Audiard notched up nine nominations at the 2001 Césars (along with the title of Best Actress) with Read My Lips [trailer] before going on to pick up a BAFTA for Best Non-English Language Film and eight Césars in 2006 (including Best Film and Best Director) for The Beat That My Heart Skipped.

Fine-tuned by the director and Thomas Bidegain, Un prophète — based on an original screenplay by Abdel Raouf Dafri and Nicolas Peufaillit — tells the story of 18 year-old Malik El Djebena (Rahim). Malik, illiterate and sentenced to six years in prison, falls under the bad influence of a group of Corsican prisoners. With each mafia mission, Malik toughens up to eventually win the confidence of “boss” César Luciani (Arestrup). Very quickly and discretely, Malik develops his own drug trafficking ring. However, this dangerous double play makes him the godfather of a new mafia, signing up to a special insurance policy that makes donations to mosques but becoming an Arab hero on his release from prison.

Produced by Why Not Productions with Chic Films, Un prophète will shoot for 15 weeks, mainly in the Paris region (Gennevilliers), as well as Marseille, the Var and the Vaucluse.

UGC will release the film domestically in the second half of 2009, while Celluloïd Dreams will manage international sales.

           — Hat tip: Cimmerian[Return to headlines]

The OIC Secretary General Received the Russian Ambassador

The Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu received in his office today ,Sunday 31 August 2008 Dr. Victor Koudriavtsev , the Russian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Prof Ihsanoglu commended the excellent relations between the OIC and the Russian Federation as an Observer to the OIC, and in particular, the recent decision by Moscow to appoint a Permanent Representative to the OIC in order to enhance relations with the OIC and the Muslim World.

On his part, the Russian envoy stressed his country’s willingness and readiness to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the various fields of interest

The meeting reviewed the latest developments in the Caucasus and stressed the need for a peaceful solution of the conflict.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


babs said...

I saw the head of the Minn Green party this Am on C-Span. He claimed the urine was "grey water" from the kitchen sink being saved to flush the toilets in order to save water. He also claimed the "sling shots" were bicycle tubes on hand because Green Party members ride bicycles to save energy and therefore had extra bicycle tubes on hand.
Hopefully, the police will sort this out.

Robert said...

Traditional family values alive and well in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A Pakistani lawmaker defended a decision by northwestern tribesmen to bury five women alive because they wanted to choose their own husbands, telling stunned members of Parliament to spare him their outrage.

“These are centuries-old traditions, and I will continue to defend them,” Israr Ullah Zehri, who represents Baluchistan province, told The Associated Press Saturday.

“Only those who indulge in immoral acts should be afraid.”

The women, three of whom were teenagers, were first shot and then thrown into a ditch.

They were still breathing as mud was shoveled over their bodies, according to media reports, which said their only “crime” was that they wished to marry men of their own choosing.

Zehri told a packed and stunned Parliament on Friday that Baluch tribal traditions helped stop obscenity and then asked fellow lawmakers to stop making such a fuss about it.