Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/16/2008

Mosque Official Claims Perjury
‘Radical Islam’ Video Angers South Florida Muslims
Swiss Envoy Warns of Anti-American Sentiment
Al-Qaeda Suspect Appeals to Canadian Voters for Help
Europe and the EU
26 Arrested After Knife Fight on Madrid Train
Ban Eating in Public During Ramadan [Translated by VH]
Belgium: Three Children Go on Graveyard Rampage
Britain Adopts Shari’a
German Priest Gets Police Protection for Insulting Pope
Greengrocer Was ‘Stabbed to Death in Row Over 40p Orange’
Islamic Extremists Threaten Denmark With Poison
It’s Official — England is the Most Crowded Country in Europe, Thanks to Immigration
Shootout Continues in Copenhagen
Terror Funded by Money From Denmark
Top Dutch Policeman Spied for Moroccan Secret Service
US Embassy Helps With Södertälje Youth Integration Efforts
Why Ireland Voted No
Bosnia: UN Tribunal Sentences Former Muslim Commander to Three Years
EU-Serbia: No Agreement Between the 27, SAA Remains Frozen
North Africa
Morocco: Fatwa for Marriage at Nine, Theologian Insists
Israel and the Palestinians
Defining Identity, the Dilemma Facing Arabs in Israel
The Myth of Al-Aqsa
US Agrees to Sell Israel Bunker-Busters
Middle East
Azerbaijan-Turkey-Israel Relations: the Energy Factor
Middle East: Kuwait Living in Fear of Nuclear Iran, Says Expert
Mideast: PM Warns of ‘Madness’
Syria’s Religious Tolerance Belies Critics
Turkish Prime Minister: “Islamophobia” a “Crime Against Humanity”
South Asia
Indonesia: Anti-Porn Bill May Threaten Tourism, Say Officials
Karnataka: 20 Churches Attacked, Christians Accuse Police of Inaction
Sub-Saharan Africa
French Troops Storm Yacht to Free Hostages From Somali Pirates
German Shipowner Paid Ransom to Somali Pirates
Immigration: Spain, 25,000 Arrested in 19 Months
Culture Wars
College Bans ‘Christmas’ and ‘Easter’ From Calendar for Fear of Offending Ethnic Students
Bin Laden’s Son Promotes Peace at 9/11 Iftar
Energy: Tunisia-France Sign Agreement on Nuclear Energy
OIC Terms Suicidal Attacks Un-Islamic

Thanks to Abu Elvis, Barry Rubin, C. Cantoni, Dymphna, Fjordman, Holger Danske, Insubria, JD, JS, Srdja Trifkovic, TB, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Details are below the fold.
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Mosque Official Claims Perjury

Attorneys for a former top official charged with embezzling money from the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., claimed in a court filing Monday that the prosecution’s star witness committed perjury.

Farzad Darui is charged with stealing more than $435,000 from the Saudi-financed mosque during his time as business manager there. His first trial ended in a mistrial earlier this year when a jury could not reach a verdict. A date has not been set for a retrial.

The key witness against Mr. Darui is the center’s director, Abdullah M. Khouj.

Defense attorney Victoria Toensing argued in her filing that Mr. Khouj is so unreliable that the charges against Mr. Darui should be dropped. In one case, she wrote in the motion, Mr. Khouj accused Mr. Darui of stealing specific checks from the Saudi Embassy, only to have those checks end up in Mr. Khouj’s account…

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske[Return to headlines]

Obsession: Radical Misinformation and the War Against Islam

We as Americans have been deceived.

Numerous organizations have formed and have been working together under the banner of “Education” to spread the “warning” that you need to “Wake Up” and to fear “Radical Islam”, and it’s war against the west.

No one tool has been used more often than the film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War against the West”. This video has been shown in government buildings during business hours while employees were earning our tax dollars. Many Universities have held public viewings for students. Exposing our youth to half truths and verified lies. Many religious centers have adopted the film as an instructional material on Islam!

So what’s the problem? People from all walks of life have been subjected to this film which is nothing more than a concentrated dose of fear designed to strike fear deep into the hearts of Americans, and to provoke the question “Does Islam really teach this”?.

The Facts are simple, this video contains within it numerous verified false claims and obvious errors. Some easy examples are the incorrect translations of Arabic documents to English, mislabeling Arabic television with Iranian or Persian television, events and scenarios placed out of context, as well as testimony given by self proclaimed reformed terrorist’s. My question is, how did they get into America to do the interview? I thought we had a terrorist watch list! If indeed these men have committed acts of terror, and are currently living or residing in the United States they need to be brought in on charges for crimes against humanity. If all it takes is to say “sorry, I wont kill anyone else anymore”, then we should all get a pass on the crimes we commit. However, this is reality, and the truth is, these men are deceiving you.

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske[Return to headlines]

‘Radical Islam’ Video Angers South Florida Muslims

A controversial DVD distributed to millions of Americans during the past week through direct mail and newspapers, including The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, has angered many Muslims in South Florida.

Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West was packaged as an advertising insert in 70 newspapers, including The Sun Sentinel and The Palm Beach Post. The Clarion Fund, a nonprofit organization that promotes ‘‘national security through education,’’ sent the hour long preview of the documentary to 28 million households, many in election swing states such as Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Readers of The St. Petersburg Times, The Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville and The News-Press of Fort Myers also received the DVDs.

The DVD includes montages of terrorist training camps and suicide bombers paired with narration by commentators such as Daniel Pipes, founder of the conservative Middle East Forum think tank. Many of the film’s pundits are known for controversial views on Islam. In one part of the DVD, clips of Muslim children being recruited as suicide bombers are interspersed with images of Nazis.

‘‘My cellphone has been ringing off the hook . . . We feel that it’s going to incite more hate and bigotry against our community,’’ said Altaf Ali, Florida chapter director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The DVD does not do enough to differentiate between terrorists and mainstream Muslims, he said.

A Clarion Fund representative disagreed…

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske[Return to headlines]

Swiss Envoy Warns of Anti-American Sentiment

Switzerland’s ambassador to Washington, Urs Ziswiler, says he is concerned by the anti-American attitude of the Swiss.

He told swissinfo after a Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce meeting in Lugano that there was a trend to simplify the realities of the United States.

Ziswiler said he did not expect any great changes for Switzerland after the US presidential election, adding that despite a few minor problems with Washington, Switzerland enjoyed an “excellent” reputation there.

swissinfo: You have criticised anti-Americanism shown by the Swiss on several occasions. How could the election of either Barack Obama or John McCain change this mindset?

Urs Ziswiler: This anti-Americanism worries me. Reducing the facts to the equation: The US = George W. Bush = Irak does not correspond to the American reality.

The future president will have to change this cliché, otherwise the country is not going to get very far. Europeans expect this change from Obama more than from his rival McCain. But let’s wait and be surprised…

A week in US political life is a very long time and two months are almost an eternity. McCain’s nomination of Sarah Palin as his running mate or the government takeover of home loans companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are proof of that.

swissinfo: While we’re on the subject of the economy, what upsets can we expect after the election?

U.Z.: In terms of the economy none of the candidates in the race to the White House is in a position to make any great change. We know that Obama wants a strengthening of the role of the state and therefore an increase in fiscal pressure, contrary to McCain. The fact remains that it was a Republican administration that made the spectacular decision regarding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And it’s important to remember that.

We shouldn’t therefore expect any major upsets when the winner has taken over power. Whether it is Obama or McCain, it will change nothing. The economic health of the country is the result of a situation and events that neither candidate has had an influence on. Even if in the short term the Swiss economy could take advantage of the election of the senator from Arizona [McCain] that positive effect would not last very long.

" Switzerland’s reputation is and remains excellent in the US. "

Ambassador Urs Ziswiler

swissinfo: The media coverage on the losses at Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS, has abated somewhat. What feelings are there today about Switzerland as a financial centre?

U.Z.: Switzerland’s reputation is and remains excellent in the US. We should not forget that the losses at UBS were followed in particular by a certain elite. And only the specialised newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times spoke about them.

We should note that the story was hardly mentioned by CNN or FOXnews and therefore the average American doesn’t even know about them. But it is true that this kind of episode doesn’t help us preserve the perception of a country that is dependable and predictable for the players in the finance world.

swissinfo: In Europe, Obama has benefited from a more favourable media coverage than his rival. How do you explain this difference in treatment?

U.Z.: That can be explained no doubt by the fact that for a large section of the population the Democrat [candidate] epitomizes change. But you have to beware. People risk being disappointed and frustrated. Even Obama will not be able to accelerate reforms and fulfil the expectations, which are from both sides of the Atlantic and in particular from Switzerland.

If Obama were to be elected — but it’s far too early to say — change will take time. Let’s not forget that Congress is very powerful in the American system and both candidates will have to submit to this reality and work with the two chambers.

swissinfo: In your capacity as ambassador, don’t you have the feeling that the aura surrounding Switzerland is almost impossible to destroy?

U.Z.: There is no guarantee that it will last forever. Nevertheless our political and economic relations in particular are indeed excellent. The fact that the US asked Switzerland to represent its interests in Iran and Cuba illustrates the amount of confidence they place in us.

But there are setbacks, such as with UBS or other episodes. But on the whole, these events are rather well accepted.

You have to note that Switzerland is one of the main investors in the US. Nearly 500 Swiss companies have created more than half a million jobs there. In that sense, Switzerland is, if I dare say it, a real heavyweight in the US.

swissinfo: You mentioned Iran a moment ago. How do you think the work of Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey is judged by the American authorities?

U.Z.: To be honest, the Americans were not delighted by Calmy-Rey’s visit to Iran. And that has nothing to do with the so-called “veil” affair [Calmy-Rey wore a veil in her meeting with the Iranian president]. As Switzerland represents US interests, they wanted to know whether this visit was compatible with our mandate.

In the meantime, things have improved and our mandate has been confirmed.

swissinfo-interview: Nicole della Pietra in Lugano

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Al-Qaeda Suspect Appeals to Canadian Voters for Help

A Sudanese-born Canadian Muslim accused of Al-Qaeda ties appealed to Canadian voters through his lawyer and rights groups on Tuesday to help him return home to Montreal from a six-year exile in Sudan.

“The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling on the government to immediately repatriate Canadian citizen Abousfian Abdelrazik,” said CAIR-CAN spokesman Ihsaan Gardee, echoed by Amnesty International.

“The Canadian Muslim community, in particular, is watching the development of this case with great concern,” he said, noting it was “eerily similar” to the recent ordeals of four other Canadians wrongly detained and tortured abroad.

Gardee also urged voters to press candidates in an October 14 election to campaign for Abdelrazik’s prompt return to Canada. He is currently holed up at the Canadian embassy in Khartoum having said he fears for his safety.

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

26 Arrested After Knife Fight on Madrid Train

MADRID — Twenty-six people, among them 14 juveniles, have been arrested following a knife fight aboard a commuter train near Madrid early Sunday morning.

The violent scuffle broke out at around 6.30am as the train neared the Puente Alcocer station on its way to the southern suburb of Mosteles.

According to witnesses, a group of Latin American youths got into an argument with two young Romanian men who were accompanied by two Peruvian girls. The two Romanians were injured, along with a third unidentified person.

Police said that in addition to the Romanians, 17 of those arrested are Colombian, six Ecuadorian, and one Bolivian.

Officers seized three knives, two of which were half a metre in length, as well as a telescopic baton. Three individuals had been wounded, including the two Romanian men.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Ban Eating in Public During Ramadan [Translated by VH]

Non-Muslims should not eat and drink in public during Ramadan, according to a large majority of Muslims in Arab countries. Almost all Muslims surveyed follow Ramadan.

This comes out of a analysis by Maktoob Research in Dubai, Arab media reported. Certainly 62 percent of the Muslims don’t want to be confronted with eating and drinking non-Muslims during the Islamic fasting month.


Approximately 52 percent even said they would like all restaurants to close at daytime out of respect for Ramadan.

Maktoob questioned 6,128 adult Muslims scattered across the Arab world in August, the month preceding Ramadan. The aim of the research was to map the social impact of Ramadan.


An overwhelming majority of those polled, 96 percent, say to adhere to the strict rules during the Ramadan. Only 4 percent say not to join it.

During Ramadan, which in most countries this year began on September 1, from sunrise to sunset one should not eat, drink and smoke. Also sex in daytime is prohibited. Curses and slander are also not allowed.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Belgium: Three Children Go on Graveyard Rampage

Three children under the age of 10 went on a rampage in a graveyard Saturday afternoon in Essene at Flemish Brabant. According to local police spokesman Roland Hollevoet, the children aged seven and eight wrecked havoc in the cemetery of Essene and did some considerable damage to 143 graves. “Some of the graves were completely turned over. Things were broken off, photographs were ruined and flowers thrown away,” says Hollevoet. “Some of the tombstones of people who died during the war were destroyed. Crosses were pulled off some of the newer graves as well.” One child was detained by the police Saturday evening and questioned. He apparently confessed to the act. The two other children were detained later. All three children said they “were bored”. People who want to file a complaint for the desecration of a family member can do so on Monday. It is not yet clear what charges will be brought against the three children.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Britain Adopts Shari’a

by Srdja Trifkovic

British papers are reporting that shari’a law has been officially adopted in Britain, with shari’a courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases, notably including wife beating. Gordon Brown’s Labour government “has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.” Particularly alarming is the fact that Islamic rulings are now enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court. Previously such rulings could not be enforced by the British state.

Shari’a courts with these powers have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester with the network’s headquarters in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, with two more courts planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh. A visibly pleased Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, whose Muslim Arbitration Tribunal runs the courts, explains that he had taken advantage of a clause in the British Arbitration Act of 1996, which classifies sharia courts as “arbitration tribunals” whose rulings are binding in law once both parties in a dispute agree to accept its authority. It goes without saying that battered Muslim wives and disinherited Muslim daughters will “freely choose” the authority of shari’a courts rather than face various unpleasant and potentially fatal consequences of not conforming to the “community’s” rules and preferences.

What this means in practice was evident from a recent inheritance dispute in the Midlands, when the Nuneaton shari’a court divided the estate of a Muslim father between three daughters and two sons. The “judges” gave the sons twice as much as the daughters—perfectly in accordance with sharia, of course, but contrary to any regular British court, which would have given the daughters equal shares. In six cases of domestic violence quoted by Siddiqi, the “judges” ordered the husbands to take “anger management” classes and “mentoring from community elders” (such as imams and shari’a judges). In each case, the battered women subsequently withdrew the complaints and the police stopped their investigations. It should be noted that under normal British law those six cases could have been prosecuted as criminal, rather than “family” cases.

UNDERSTANDING SHARI’A—Muslim activists point out that allegedly simiral Jewish family courts (Bet Din) and Catholic marriage tribunals have existed in Britain for many years, but there is a major difference: such courts explicitly claim jurisdiction only over their believers, whereas according to orthodox Islamic teaching shari’a is the only legitimate law in the world, with universal jurisdiction over Muslims and non-Muslims alike. To a devout Muslim the incorporation of shari’a into British law is by no means the end of the affair. It is merely a major milestone on the road that cannot stop short of subjecting all Britons, regardless of faith, to the stricutres of Allah’s commandment and Muhammad’s example.

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

Copenhagen Becomes Search Zone

The recent slew of shootings has led police to institute a stop and search zone for the entire city

In an effort to curb the rash of shooting episodes that have occurred in recent weeks, Copenhagen Police has placed the entire city under a search zone, reports Berlingske Tidende newspaper.

The search zone was instituted at 19:00 Monday evening, with the city putting many more officers on the street to conduct body searches on anyone suspected of carrying a weapon.

‘We received information Monday evening about groups beginning to gather just outside the former search zone boundaries — some wearing bulletproof vests,’ said Copenhagen Police’s Jakob Kristensen.

Until Monday evening, search zones had been created in squatter colony Christiania and in designated areas of the inner city and the Nørrebro district.

Police have not indicated how long the current citywide search zone will be in effect.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Danish Prime Minister Visits Troops in Afghanistan

COPENHAGEN, Denmark: Denmark’s prime minister made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan on Monday to visit Danish troops in the strife-ridden southern Helmand province.

In an interview with Denmark’s TV2 News, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he had visited a Danish military camp and spoken to soldiers who are part of the NATO-led force in Afghanistan.

“The soldiers told me that they really appreciate it that I came all the way out here,” Fogh Rasmussen said. “It is a dangerous mission, and they deserve our support.”

Denmark has about 700 troops serving in the NATO force. Sixteen Danish soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2002.

“They have not given their lives in vain because what we also can see is that a growing part of the area has been liberated from the Taliban, and ordinary Afghans can now live an ordinary life there,” Fogh Rasmussen said.

The prime minister’s office declined to give details about his visit, citing security concerns.

Denmark has been threatened on Islamist Web sites because of the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in Danish newspapers.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

German Priest Gets Police Protection for Insulting Pope

Poor old protestant pastor Clemens Bittlinger. He is a gentle-voiced man of the cloth with a guitar, who sings faith based songs. But now he has to sing them under police protection.

Well, priests with guitars and tambourines might make you want to dose your own cuppa with strychnine, but Pastor Bittlinger is himself getting death threats. And no, it’s not because he has offended Islam, or made some allegedly blasphemous remark about the Prophet Mohammed. Instead, the subject of his song that has caused such offence is Pope Benedikt, and the threats that have got the police concerned come from Catholics.

The song’s title is ‘Oh man, Benedikt, a walk with the Pope’, and asks “two or three questions because there’s a lot I don’t understand”.

“Why do you revile other Christians?” its lyrics ask. “Why are you openly looking for a fight, saying: Yours is not a church…. You ban condoms, even for the poor of this world. So you encourage the spread of AIDS even if you do not like it. Meanwhile you abandon limbo for babies who haven’t been baptised. Did you seriously believe that the Lord had something like that in the first place?”

Bittlinger has been on stage for 25 years without raising much hell. But this time, his song has prompted a healthy dose of fire and brimstone from Catholics.

The hate mail has poured in, apparently.

“You dirty protestant pig, I shit on you and your dirty songs,” read one note.

“When a newspaper prints a Mohammed cartoon, entire cities burn,” read another. “But when the Holy Father is ridiculed in blasphemy, we are supposed to just accept that? No, not like that Mr. Bittlinger — you will surely receive the justice you deserve.”

I suppose it was inevitable that while the vast majority of Christians condemned the outpourings of violence after the Mohammed cartoon polemic, some found such determination to respond to perceived offence something to admire…

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Greengrocer Was ‘Stabbed to Death in Row Over 40p Orange’

It began as a petty confrontation over an orange. But it ended with the brutal murder of shopkeeper Khalil Naseri, a court has heard.

Delroy Brown, 39, who allegedly tried to steal the 40p fruit, is accused of returning two days later to avenge his ‘public humiliation’.

‘Even in an age when human life to some people is described of little value, this is a case of a young man who was murdered because of a row about a piece of fruit,’ Peter Kyte, QC, told jurors at the Old Bailey.

The court heard the tragedy unfolded at the greengrocer’s shop in Brixton, South London, on January 10 this year.

Brown took an orange from the fruit display in the street and began to peel it with a knife, the court heard. ‘He appeared unwilling to pay for that orange,’ Mr Kyte told the court.

‘Khalil Naseri challenged him to pay for the orange and a disagreement ensued in which shop workers from the greengrocer and possibly from other neighbouring shops became involved.’

The court heard Brown, a former minicab driver, may have been hit with a broom in the altercation.

Enraged, he grabbed a hammer from the back of his car which was parked nearby, the court heard.

‘He threatened to hit Khalil Naseri. Witnesses describe the defendant as almost hysterical and very aggressive,’ Mr Kyte said.

‘He is alleged to say, “I’m going to kill you, I’m going to take your head off with a hammer”.

‘The incident was defused, but as he drove away this defendant was clearly still in a fury.

‘He was heard to say, “I will return. This is not over, I’m coming back for you”, or, “I’m coming back for your blood”.

‘Chilling threats in view of what happened a couple of evenings later,’ Mr Kyte said.

The court heard a group of five men carrying metal bars later returned to the shop but police arrived and they were scared away.

But on Saturday, January 12, three black men approached the shop as Mr Naseri and two assistants were taking the fruit and vegetables back into the shop. They had their backs to the street as they worked.

The two assistants were hit over the head with what may have been baseball bats, the court heard.

Then a man wearing a hood followed Mr Naseri into the shop and stabbed him, the court was told.

Mr Kyte told the court a witness had seen the man stab Mr Naseri in the chest.

The witness said the knifeman ‘was one and the same’ as the man who tried to steal the orange, Mr Kyte said.

When police arrested Brown at his home on January 14 he had an unusual black hooded top with a distinctive logo — allegedly seen on CCTV after the attack — in his washing machine, the court was told.

He accepted that he had an argument over the fruit but claimed a variety of alibis including jump starting a friend’s car at the time of the attack.

Brown, of Kennington, South London, denies murder and one count of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm between January 10 and January 13 this year.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Islamic Extremists Threaten Denmark With Poison

An American terror watchdog group has warned Denmark about an extremist internet site that discusses poisoning the country’s water supplies

An Islamic extremist group has discussed on its website how to poison Denmark’s water supplies in retaliation for Jyllands-Posten newspaper’s publication of the Mohammed drawings.

Detailed plans of how the deed can be carried out appeared on extremist group al-ekhlaa’s homepage in August, according to American terror watch organisation Jamestown Foundation. In addition, discussions of committing terror actions — especially against Denmark and the UK — have been ongoing in the website’s forum.

Intelligence agency PET was informed of the situation and said they are keeping an eye on it. Jamestown Foundation indicated the website is a primary gathering place for al-Qaeda followers.

PET has not increased the terror threat level since receiving the new information. The al-ekhlaa website has changed its address since the threats were placed on it.

           — Hat tip: JS[Return to headlines]

Islamic Radicals Recruiting in French Jails, Suburbs

Islamic radicals are using France’s jails and its immigrant-heavy suburbs to hunt for new recruits, Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie warned in an interview published on Thursday. “French prisons are a favoured recruitment pool for radical Islamists,” Alliot-Marie told Le Figaro. Alliot-Marie said she had urged her European Union counterparts to draw up a common handbook on Islamism in European jails, to help prison staff “detect and prevent this type of recruitment.” The minister said French would-be Islamist fighters “are travelling today to the Afghan-Pakistani border to receive teaching and training,” adding that “certainly more than a dozen” people had made the journey.

“Our services have established this fact and it has been confirmed by several European and extra-European intelligence agencies,” she said. “Some sensitive neighbourhoods in our suburbs also remain choice targets for Salafist activists,” who were sending youths for training in hardline madrassas in Yemen, Pakistan or Egypt, she said. Alliot-Marie also said the Maghreb branch of Al-Qaeda, formerly known as the Algerian Salafist group GSPC, remained a threat to French interests across North Africa. She said 89 Islamist activists were arrested in France in 2007 and another 55 since the start of this year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Minister Proposes a Registry for Imams and Mosques

An Italian minister has proposed a register of imams in Italy in order to control the construction of mosques and a referendum to integrate new places or worship in a social and urban context. Andrea Ronchi, European Affairs Minister, and member of the rightist National Alliance party, proposed the move on Tuesday in what he called a bid to improve interreligious dialogue. Ronchi also wants to restart dialogue between Muslims and institutions such as the state-backed Islamic Council or Consulta per l’Islam. However, Ronchi said he did not want Italy’s largest Muslim group, the Union of Islamic Communities of Italy (UCOII) to take part in the initiative, calling them “the real exponents of non-dialogue”. “We do not speak to those who deny the existence of Israel,” he said. Ronchi announced his proposal after meeting the vice-president of the Italian Islamic Religious Community (COREIS), Yahya Pallavicini. Ronchi said that there should be no limit to the existence of mosques in Italy but they should be managed in a transparent manner and included in a national register. “We need to put a stop to mosques being hurriedly built, without the consensus of the community. We need to match them with the reality of the place,” said Ronchi. The initiative has already been carried out by COREIS, which has trained 20 Italian-speaking imams. Italy’s rightist Northern League, allied to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi wants to limit the growth of Islam and block the construction of mosques through strict new regulations.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

It’s Official — England is the Most Crowded Country in Europe, Thanks to Immigration

England has become the most crowded major country in Europe, official figures show.

The number of people crammed in has overtaken those in Holland, long the most densely-populated major nation on the continent.

A count released to MPs showed England now has 395 people per square kilometre.

Crowding has increased because of high immigration into England while the Dutch population has fallen or remained steady.

Population growth: Official figures show England has overtaken the Netherlands to become the most crowded country in Europe

Last night MPs who are campaigning for ‘balanced migration’ said the figures were a milestone in the immigration debate.

Beyond Europe, England’s population density is among the highest in the world. Of countries with a population of at least 10million, England ranks third in density after Bangladesh (1,045 per sq km) and South Korea (498 per sq km).

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Shootout Continues in Copenhagen

Shooting spree in apparent gang shootout involving immigrants and Hell’s Angels continues unabated.

Two men narrowly escaped being hit last night when between 15 and 20 shots were fired in the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen in what appears to be a turf war between immigrant gangs and the Hell’s Angels biker organization.

The two men were sitting on a bench when bursts of fire were shot through a passageway leading to Jægersborggade street.


Deputy Chief Superintendant Poul B. Hansen of the Copenhagen Police said the shots were in all probability ‘a hefty signal to bikers’ who hang out nearby and run the cannabis trade in the area.

Shots were fired from 50 metres in what Hansen said was close to attempted homicide if attackers had actually seen the two men on the bench.

Several cars were hit by the shots and impact marks were found in a wall in Jægersborggade street.


Police detained six young immigrants on Monday evening although it was unclear whether the detentions had anything to do with attacks against biker hangouts over the past week or so.

Three were arrested in northwestern Copenhagen and three others were detained around Blågårds Plads square in Nørrebro. A loaded pistol was found under the passenger seat of the car in which the first three were detained.

“It is too early to say whether the six people can be connected to any of the shootings. Initially they are to be charged with the illegal possession of weapons,” the police spokesman said.

Three attacks

Police were called out three times during the night as a result of street shootings. No-one was hit during the attacks. Around midnight a car was also set alight in front of a Hell’s Angels clubhouse on Lindegreens Allé.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Riksdag Opening Met With FRA-Law Protests

Several hundred demonstrators marched from Sergels Torg in central Stockholm to the steps of the Riksdag on Tuesday to protest Sweden’s surveillance law.

The march was scheduled to coincide with the opening of the new Riksdag session during which the measure, which gives expanded telecommunications monitoring powers to Sweden’s National Defence Radio Establishment (Försvarets Radioanstalt — FRA).

Banners held aloft during the march included messages such as “Centre-right No to the FRA-law”, “Stop the FRA-law now!”, and “Do you want it like Soviet times?”.

The protest also featured speeches from a number of prominent opponents of the law, including Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) Riksdag member Birgitta Ohlsson.

“Tear it up, start over, and set up a parliamentary committee,” she said in her speech.

The Riksdag’s new session otherwise began as tradition dictates, on the third Tuesday in September, with gathering and roll call of Riksdag members.

The opening ceremonies will officially begin at 2pm in the main chamber with invited guests joining a rendition of the King’s Song, a tune paying tribute to Sweden’s monarchy.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt will then give his inaugural address to members and the Speaker of the Riksdag in which he presents the government’s priorities for the coming year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Terror Funded by Money From Denmark

A new report indicates that some of the money sent annually out of the country goes to militant groups such as Al-Qaeda

Individuals and organisations in Denmark are sending money abroad to fund terror groups, according to a new report from the Danish intelligence service’s Centre for Terror Analysis.

The report states that foreigners living in Denmark send an estimated 10 billion kroner to their native countries each year. And while most of that money is used toward perfectly legal activities, some goes to militant groups and terror organisations, including Al-Qaeda.

‘On many occasions, individuals with limited reported income have been apprehended on their way out of Denmark with large sums of cash,’ states the report.

But authorities cannot always prove the money will be used illegally, however, because the networks often use intermediaries as carriers for the exchanges. CTA indicates these intermediaries can be individuals or organisations — some of which claim to be conducting humanitarian work in a foreign country.

In addition, CTA believes individuals working for such organisations may unknowingly be used as carriers of money for terror or militant groups.

The CTA report also found that money for these groups is often first sent to a secondary country before reaching its ultimate destination.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Top Dutch Policeman Spied for Moroccan Secret Service

A policeman in the Rotterdam police corps has been unmasked as a spy for the Moroccan intelligence service. He led a project that was training immigrant youngsters as airport workers. TV current affairs programme NOVA discovered that the man of Moroccan origin had already been sacked last spring. Although the police confirmed that the man was dismissed for “serious dereliction of duty,” the Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) decided not to prosecute him. The case has been hushed up by criminal investigation authorities and politicians, according to NOVA. The officer, Re Lemhaouli, had a leading post. He was the initiator of Project Maxima, named after Princess Maxima. The project trained 57 Moroccan problem youngsters as ground personnel for Rotterdam Airport.

Princess Maxima, the wife of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, was ambassador of the project and Lemhaouli was allowed to sit next to her during the presentation of the project on 1 February. Vice-Premier Andre Rouvoet praised Lemhaouli in a speech. “The participants in this project who are receiving their diploma today were a few weeks ago still considered as ‘deprived youngsters.’ Education not completed, no work experience and in some cases, also a criminal record,” said Rouvoet. According to NOVA, the Dutch AIVD secret service discovered last spring following a tipoff that Lemhaouli was a spy for the Moroccan secret service. What information he passed on NOVA was unable to discover. The Dutch authorities are refusing to give any information whatever about the case. The programme suggests that the OM did not prosecute him because this could generate negative publicity about the ‘multicultural society’. NOVA also said the case may have led to the replacement of diplomats at the Moroccan embassy in The Hague.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Inflation Climbs to 4.7% — But the Real Rise in the Cost of Living is 25%

Soaring prices have left millions of us seriously thinking about emigrating, researchers say.

New figures show that overall inflation has risen to 4.7 per cent this year but when only everyday goods are taken into account the rise in the cost of living is far higher, it has been revealed.

The cost of shopping basket essentials is rising 25 per cent a year, MailOnline’s Cost Of Living Index for September shows.

And as the bills grow, many families are investigating cheaper foreign destinations, a separate survey found.

Record numbers are leaving the UK to settle abroad. In the 12 months to June, 406,000 left to live overseas — the highest level since records began.

Australia, Spain, America, New Zealand and France are among the most popular destinations.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

US Embassy Helps With Södertälje Youth Integration Efforts

The US embassy in Sweden has announced a unique partnership with the city of Södertälje to help the city’s young people learn more about opportunities for work and study in the United States.

Södertälje’s mayor Anders Lago gained notoriety earlier in the year following an address to the US Congress in which he explained the challenges his city faces in integration the thousands of Iraqi refugees that have settled there in recent years.

Back in April US Ambassador Michael Wood traveled to Södertälje to meet with Lago and members of the Iraqi community and learn more about what the US government could do to help.

“We recognize that Södertälje has done a great deal for Iraqi refugees and we wanted to help with the integration efforts there,” said US embassy spokesperson Robert Hilton told The Local.

The outcome of the meetings was the suggestion of holding what Hilton calls an “Opportunity Fair” for young people in Södertälje to help them learn more about the various options available to them for working and studying in the United States.

“Our feeling is that going to the United States is something that many young Swedes do, almost like a rite of passage,” said Hilton.

“Our hope is that the experience can them help someone along in the careers or studies when they return.”

The October 16th gathering, scheduled to coincide with the opening of Södertälje’s new city hall, will feature presentations and informational material from about a dozen organizations in the business of arranging work and educational exchange experiences in the United States.

There will also be a session on the practicalities of traveling to the US, including scholarship opportunities and visa application procedures.

Hilton stressed that the event is by no means meant only for members of the Iraqi refugee community, but is open to anyone interested in US-destined exchange programs.

“We wanted to do what we could to share information about these opportunities with a wider audience,” he said.

Södertälje’s mayor estimates the event could attract as many as 400 participants.

While Hilton admits that the embassy has undertaken efforts previously to promote opportunities for young Swedes to work and study across the Atlantic, it’s rare to have such close cooperation with a particular city.

“It’s the first time that I’m aware of there has been such a concentrated effort between and embassy and a locality,” he said.

Plans are also underway to arrange a follow up event in the spring of 2009 which would feature representatives from the US business community.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Why Ireland Voted No

THE Irish government today published the fruits of an expensive, painstaking research project aimed at identifying why voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum in June. It is to the government’s credit that the full study—conducted by a commercial polling firm—has been made public. The foreign minister, Micheál Martin, also has a stab at sounding objective about both yes and no voters, and what we now know about them. The biggest reason for voting no was a lack of information about the treaty, he notes. One third of all voters thought the treaty would have introduced conscription into a European army. The young voted no in large numbers, he conceded when unveiling the research, and “ there were also differences between socio-economic groups”.

All of this is very tactfully put, but it takes a politician down a very slippery slope indeed. Dig into the data of the research, and hotbeds of no voting include the poor, the less educated, young people and women. A third of voters bought into warnings from no campaigners that the treaty would weaken Ireland’s laws against abortion, the study notes. Focus groups revealed that many people worried about Ireland losing its full-time right to an EU commissioner because they wrongly thought that would mean Ireland had no other form of voice in the EU structure. One focus group of women who abstained in the referendum found that many could not name the main political parties in Ireland. The well-educated and affluent, especially those who could answer general knowledge questions about the EU (how many countries are in it, whether Switzerland is a member, that sort of thing) were much more likely to vote yes. And so on.

Where does this research lead you, though? These people vote in general elections, too. As this blogger said in a column at the time of the no vote, if Ireland still maintained a 19th century electoral roll, limited to older men of property, the treaty would have romped home. But is that where Irish politicians want to go with this argument?

           — Hat tip: Abu Elvis[Return to headlines]


Bosnia: UN Tribunal Sentences Former Muslim Commander to Three Years

The Hague, 15 Sept. (AKI) — Former Bosnian Muslim Army commander Rasim Delic was sentenced on Monday by the UN’s Hague-based Yugoslav war crimes tribunal to three years in jail for crimes against Serb prisoners.

Delic was held responsible for crimes committed by mujahadeen fighters from Islamic countries that fought under his command to help local Muslims in Bosnia’s bloody 1992-1995 civil war.

But two judges, Flavia Latanzzi and Frederick Harhoff, found him guilty only for brutal treatment of Serb prisoners, while the presiding judge, Bakone Moloto, argued that Delic’s responsibility for the alleged crimes had not been proven.

Delic was the head of the general staff of the Bosnian Army from 1993 to 1995 and was charged with chain of responsibility command.

During that period the “El Mujaheed” unit committed several crimes, killing over 70 Serb and Croatian prisoners of war.

Some of the prisoners were beheaded and their heads were shown to other prisoners.

But the court ruled Delic couldn’t have known about the murders and therefore could not have prevented them.

Delic surrendered to the tribunal in 2005 and pleaded not guilty. He was later released pending trial but has served 445 days in detention which will be deducted from his jail term.

The verdict was likely to steer another storm of protests from Bosnian Serbs and Croats, who claim the Hague tribunal is a political court. The tribunal freed earlier this year two other Muslim commanders, Naser Oric and Sefer Halilovic for lack of evidence.

The president of the Bosnian Serb association of war prisoners, Nedeljko Mitrovic, said the verdict was proof that the tribunal is a biased court which doesn’t work from the evidence before it, but favours Muslims.

Another Bosnian Serb official, Branislav Dukic, said Serb victims of the war were treated by the tribunal as mere “collateral damage.”

Since it was founded by the United Nations Security Council in 1993, the tribunal has indicted 161 individuals, mostly Serbs, for crimes committed during the 1990s Balkan wars.

Close to sixty people have been sentenced so far to over one thousand years in jail.

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

EU-Serbia: No Agreement Between the 27, SAA Remains Frozen

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 15 — The Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between the EU and Serbia, signed last April but still not enforced, remains frozen. “The EU presidency and the majority of the member states support the opening of the European prospective for Belgrade, but there are some who oppose it and so far there is no common position,” French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said at the end of the Council, referring to the Dutch veto that blocks the discussions between the 27 member states. “We believe that Serbia must become part of the EU, but we must convince everybody of that,” Kouchner said recalling that upon invitation of the French presidency, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, presented to the ministers the cooperation between Serbia and the ICTY in a failed attempt to overcome the Netherlands’ reserves. EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, is optimistic and believes that the 27 will reach an agreement in the upcoming Council in October. “On Serbia, there is a constructive debate and I’m certain that in October we will have the necessary conditions to unfreeze the SAA,” he told the news conference. After reiterating the support of the Commission for the unfreezing of the agreement with Belgrade, Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, explained that “it is necessary to compensate Serbia for the fundamental step it made with the arrest of Karadzic”. Rehn also called upon the Serbian government to “apply the points envisaged in the SAA even in a unilateral way”. According to the commissioner, “if Serbia starts applying what is envisaged by the agreement with the EU, this would create a good curriculum that could help the country obtaining a status of candidate state in 2009”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Eni: FT, Plans for Nuclear Plants in Middle East

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 9 — Eni, like Total, is considering the construction of nuclear power stations in Middle East countries, also in order to obtain better terms in oil and gas agreements, Financial Times reported, citing Enìs CEO, Paolo Scaroni. Total and Eni are planning to bring nuclear energy to the Middle East in a controversial change in an industry which has been driven out of the biggest oil and gas deposits, the financial daily wrote. Total will be a kind of pioneer: through helping in the construction of nuclear plants the French company wants to win access to oil reserves in countries with which its has long time relations. According to Financial Times, Scaroni is planning to follow Total’s lead and Egypt and Algeria are the possible candidates. According to the newspaper, Scaroni said that Eni would suggest nuclear energy as an alternative to gas in electricity production to countries which need gas for other uses on the domestic market or for sales abroad. Therefore, according to Scaroni, it is logical to tell them that “we build nuclear plants and you keep the gas”. The CEO of the Italian oil giant then admitted that for Eni it would be more difficult to go in this direction than it would be for Total, despite the openings of the Berlusconi government to the nuclear, but added that “for us it is difficult but not impossible”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Morocco: Fatwa for Marriage at Nine, Theologian Insists

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 15 — Moroccan theologian Sheikh Mohamed Ben Abderrahman Al-Maghraoui, who believes that the Muslim girls can get married as early as nine, insists on his opinion despite the controversy triggered in the country lately. He reiterated his statement yesterday on his website maghrawi.net, Middle East Online reported today. The marriage of nine-year-old girls is not forbidden because according to the Prophet Mohammed’s sayings, Mohammed “married Aisha when she was only seven-years-old and he consummated his union when she was nine”, says the founder of a religious association based in Marrakech. “Those who criticise me, like the press or Moroccan television as well as the lawyers who filed the complaint against me, are part of a secular attack against the Islamic nation and its theologians,” he said. Earlier this month, Rabat-based lawyer Mourad Bekkouri filed a complaint against Sheikh Maghraoui and his fatwa, which he said damages children’s human rights, and the family and criminal code. His views were backed by the left-wing newspaper Al Ittihad Al Ichtiraki, which claimed that “vicious theologians are today capable of putting religion in the service of paedophilia”. The Moroccan law sanctions that the minimum age to wed is 18 years and in case of a marriage of teenagers (not children) the consent of the parents and a judge is necessary. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Defining Identity, the Dilemma Facing Arabs in Israel

Anna Mahjar-Barducci

Nowadays what does being an Arab actually mean? It doesn’t define a nationality. Maybe it defines an ethnicity, but it is not enough to provide an identity or a deep sense of belonging to a people. Furthermore, the term “Arab-Israeli” defines a minority in Israel, one not even fully integrated into Israeli society. Israelis often refer to Arab-Israelis as “the sector” (Migzar) as well, which doesn’t help the community to feel part of a society. Let alone clarify its own identity. The Arab world, in contrast, refers to Arab-Israelis as “Palestinians of 1948” or as “Palestinians of the interior,” meaning that Israel represents the interior of Palestine. But even this terminology doesn’t lead to clear outcomes…

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

Lebanon Refugee Camp Inspires Palestinian Rap

Teenage rappers Yassim Kassem and Mohammed Turek have no qualms about upsetting politicians or clerics when they sing of inter-Palestinian violence and the daily hardship of life in the refugee camps.

They call themselves I-Voice — Invincible Voice — and are among a number of rap groups to have emerged from impoverished Palestinian camps in Lebanon and from the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

Turek, 18, and Kassem, 19, really rocked the boat with a song called “Inkilab” (Revolution) which criticized inter-Palestinian fighting and divisions and the way various factions are handling the Palestinian cause.

“We got told by many (political parties) to stop and sort of got threatened about singing one song in particular,” said Kassem about Inkilab. “We just said ‘yes’ and kept on singing it.”

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

The Myth of Al-Aqsa

Holiness of Jerusalem to Islam has always been politically motivated

When the Prophet Mohammad established Islam, he introduced a minimum of innovations. He employed the hallowed personages, historic legends and sacred sites of Judaism and Christianity, and even paganism, by Islamizing them. Thus, according to Islam, Abraham was the first Muslim and Jesus and St. John (the sons of Miriam, sister of Moses and Aron) were prophets and guardians of the second heaven. Many Biblical legends (“asatir al-awwalin”,) which were familiar to the pagan Arabs before the dawn of Islam, underwent an Islamic conversion, and the Koran as well as the Hadith (the Islamic oral tradition), are replete with them.

Islamization was practiced on places as well as persons: Mecca and the holy stone — al-Ka’bah — were holy sites of the pre-Islamic pagan Arabs. The Umayyad Mosque in Damascus and the Great Mosque of Istanbul were erected on the sites of Christian-Byzantine churches — two of the better known examples of how Islam treats sanctuaries of other faiths.

Jerusalem, too, underwent the process of Islamization: at first Muhammad attempted to convince the Jews near Medina to join his young community, and, by way of persuasion, established the direction of prayer (kiblah) to be to the north, towards Jerusalem, in keeping with Jewish practice; but after he failed in this attempt he turned against the Jews, killed many of them, and directed the kiblah southward, towards Mecca.

Muhammad’s abandonment of Jerusalem explains the fact that this city is not mentioned even once in the Koran. After Palestine was occupied by the Muslims, its capital was Ramlah, 30 miles to the west of Jerusalem, signifying that Jerusalem meant nothing to them.

           — Hat tip: JS[Return to headlines]

US Agrees to Sell Israel Bunker-Busters

Jerusalem- The U.S. has agreed to sell 1,000 buster-bunker bombs to Israel — a deal that could significantly improve Israel’s ability to strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Military experts say an Israeli strike would require bombs that could blast through underground bunkers where some of the Iranian nuclear facilities are located. Last week, the U.S. Defense Department notified Congress that it has agreed to sell Israel small diameter bombs that are capable of doing that.

It wasn’t clear from the defense department’s announcement when the bombs would be delivered.

Israel and the United States do no believe Iran’s assertion that its nuclear program is to produce energy, not weapons. Israel hopes Iran can be induced through sanctions and diplomacy to scale back its nuclear ambitions, but has not ruled out a military strike.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Azerbaijan-Turkey-Israel Relations: the Energy Factor

Alexander Murinson

With the conclusion of the Cold War, the trilateral axis (Israel-Turkey-Azerbaijan) in the expanded Middle East emerged. The issue of energy security as a component of this relationship has remained largely unexplored. First, this article elucidates the transformation of the concept of security in the post-Cold War period. It then places the hydrocarbon-rich Caspian region in the context of the energy security needs of energy-poor Turkey and Israel. The importance of transportation routes from the Caspian for the Jewish state are highlighted, and the potential of Caspian petrochemicals for cooperation in energy field between Israel, Turkey Israel are explored.


The emergence of the Israel, Turkey, and Azerbaijan entente of the 1990s not only reflected the new geopolitical realities of the post-Cold War era, but also heightened awareness of the depletion of primary resources and fresh water, and new environmental challenges confronted each of these countries. Even though a number of scholars have drawn attention to the emergence of the trilateral axis (Azerbaijan-Turkey-Israel) in the post-Cold War era, the issue of energy security as a component of this relationship remains largely unexplored.[1] In light of increased competition for access to secure energy sources in recent decades and in the foreseeable future, the impact of energy security on foreign policy requires special attention. This article explores how the growing importance of energy security contributed to the formation of the strategic axis between Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Israel.[2] In order to reflect adequately this complexity in the post Cold War period, the conceptualization of security needs to be extended beyond only military security. This newly expanded concept includes energy security, environmental, and water security.


With the end of the Cold War, there was a paradigmatic shift in concepts of security due not only to geopolitical changes(in light of the fall of the Communist system) but also to exhaustion of—or increased competition for—secure energy resources, environmental and biospheric changes, new ideological threats, as well as the threat of WMD proliferation and their use against population centers. This has had a direct effect on the relationship among Turkey, Israel, and the newly-independent Azerbaijani republic. One of the developments resulting from this global shift was the emergence of the Turkish-Israeli axis in the Middle East, which after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 involved a newly established Muslim state, the Republic of Azerbaijan.

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Gulf: Former Iran Diplomat, Tehran Has Spy Network in Area

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, SEPTEMBER 15 — Secret Iranian cells ready to take action to destabilise the region are present in all Arab countries in the Gulf area, as part of a broad network of infiltrators and collaborators activated by Tehran after 1979, Adel Al Assadi, a former Iranian diplomat that lives in Sweden, said in an interview with Gulf News daily. “I could not provide numbers and plans because I applied for political asylum in 2001 and I have not been to Iran since then,” said Assadi, a former general consul with the functions of an ambassador to UAE. “But I confirm that Iran has intelligence presence in the countries members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),” he repeated in response to Kuwaiti allegations regarding the presence of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on its territory. According to Assadi, two kinds of spies are present in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE and Oman, the six members of the oil-rich GCC: a group of collaborators was trained to gather information, “a practice accepted also in diplomacy”, while a second group of infiltrators was prepared to undermine the monarchies in the Gulf with actions aimed at causing disorder and social destabilisation. “I believe that Tehran has enough manpower to destabilise the region. And this is bad news,” Al Assadi said. “The good news is that Arab governments have become better informed of the Iranian plans,” he said. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Iran: Controversial Film a Hit at Toronto Festival

Rome, 16 Sept. (AKI) — An Iranian feature film that tells the story of a woman being stoned to death has made headlines at the Toronto Film Festival and provoked an angry response from Iranian authorities.

The film, entitled ‘The Stoning of Soraya M.’ by Iranian-American director Sirous Norasteh, was shown at the festival which ended last Saturday.

The film tells the real-life story of Soraya, an 18-year-old woman and mother stoned to death in 1984 for alleged sexual infidelity in western Iran.

The film has been described by Iran’s state news agency Irna as another “Hollywood operation to damage the image of the Islamic Republic.”

“(It’s) a film that serves the warmongering strategy of George W. Bush,” said Iran’s semi-official news agency Fars.

The story of the film says that Soraya’s husband Ali no longer wants to be with her after they had four children together, and that he wants to marry a 14-year-old girl.

Ali cannot afford two wives, so he demands a divorce from Soraya, who refuses for economic reasons. Instead, Ali conspires with the local mullah to frame Soraya for infidelity.

The story is told by her aunt, Zahra, played by Iranian expatriate and Oscar-nominated actress Shohre Aghadashlou.

The film is based on a book published in Paris in 1994 by Franco-Iranian journalist Fereydoun Sahebjam.

Fereydoun is played in the film by Jim Caveziel, who acted in Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ.

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

Middle East: Kuwait Living in Fear of Nuclear Iran, Says Expert

Kuwait City, 16 Sept. (AKI) — Kuwait is afraid that Iran has secret plans to produce nuclear arms at the Bushehr nuclear reactor in the country’s southwest and elsewhere in the country, according to the head of a leading think-tank.

Sami Al-Faraj, president of the Kuwait Centre for Strategic Studies, told Adnkronos International (AKI) on Tuesday that the country “was living in fear” about Tehran’s nuclear plans.

He said Kuwaitis also had serious concerns about the potential impact of a radiation leak or an earthquake in the area surrounding the Bushehr nuclear plant, which is only 200 kilometres from Kuwait.

“We would be the first city to be hit as a result of the impact if anything goes wrong at Bushehr,” Al-Faraj told AKI.

“People say that there is no need for us to to suffer from Bushehr. The greater problem is that something will go wrong. We are under threat. The situation is dangerous”

“We have 17 monitoring stations and all these stations have extra equipment for monitoring radiation.Unless this problem is dealt with scientifically, we will remain in danger.”

Media reports on Monday claimed that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reportedly has a secret plan to accelerate nuclear arms production by simulating a breakdown at the nuclear reactor of Bushehr.

According to a memorandum circulated among intelligence services and cited in the Italian daily, La Stampa, the plan was developed after Israeli defence forces struck a suspected nuclear facility in northern Syria in September 2007.

Al-Faraj said many people in Kuwait were preoccupied by the threat from Iran.

“Iran today is intervening in the affairs of Arab nations next to us — Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine,” he said.

“So we always ask the rhetorical question, ‘Imagine if Iran were to be a nuclear power, what would Iran do.’

“If it is a conventional power and intervening in nations and trying to change the loyalties of Arab states, like Kuwait, Saudia Arabia and Bahrain, can we imagine what Iraq could do if it possessed a nuclear weapon.

“We cannot even imagine and we cannot imagine the international community letting Iran get away with this.”

Al-Faraj said the other threat was conflict between Iran and Israel if a nuclear Iran does not materialise and Kuwait is caught in a crossfire.

“We would be in the middle of two nations exchanging missiles,” he said. “I am giving you a doomsday scenario but we cannot live without expecting a worst case scenario.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday said that Iran was continuing to defy United Nations’ demands to halt its uranium enrichment programme.

In its latest report it called on Tehran to provide greater access to investigators.

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

Mideast: PM Warns of ‘Madness’

Berlusconi concerned about threats to Israel

(ANSA) — Paris, September 16 — Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi indirectly described anti-Israeli comments by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as ‘‘madness’’ while addressing a Jewish association in Paris on Tuesday. ‘‘We must all be extremely wary of the madness of those who say, even if only for domestic political reasons, that Israel must be wiped off the world map,’’ Berlusconi said, in reference to comments made by Ahmadinejad last October. ‘‘We don’t believe such things are real, but there has already been a certain gentleman who initially seemed to be a democrat but who went on to do what he did,’’ he said, referring to Hitler. Berlusconi made his comments after receiving a prize from Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner on behalf of the Keren Hayesod Association, the central fundraising organisation for Israel, in recognition of his work in support of Israel and world peace. In his acceptance speech, the premier said he had long been pushing for Israel to join the European Union as ‘‘a state that belongs to the West in terms of its values, culture and democracy’’. He went on to mention his proposal to create a so-called Marshall Plan to relaunch the Palestinian economy and his offer of Erice in Sicily as a venue for a Middle East peace conference, saying ‘‘any free Western man would do as I have done’’. ‘‘I’ve always been, I would say naturally, a friend of Israel,’’ the premier added. ‘‘In my childhood I had Jewish friends who I loved and who loved me back. Then I visited Auschwitz and in that moment I felt Israeli too’’. The prime minister also met French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday, with immigration on the agenda. Photo: Silvio Berlusconi.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Ramadan Behaviour Revealed in New Survey

Dubai: Seventy per cent of UAE Muslim residents tend to have iftar with close family members during Ramadan, revealed a study that surveyed people in the Arab world on the social aspects of fasting.

Eighty-six per cent of those surveyed tend to observe iftar with their fasting as Ramadan is seen as a good opportunity for family gatherings with an overwhelming 96 per cent of Muslim Arabs observing the fasting month.

The Maktoob Research conducted during the month of August, just prior to the beginning of Ramadan, canvassed the opinions of 6,128 adult Muslims from across the Arab world.

“Seventy-one per cent believe the month allows them to feel a sense of solidarity and brotherhood with fellow Muslims,” a report of the survey stated.

“However, as restaurants and hotels region-wide tout their special Ramadan iftar and suhur promotions, a big majority (67 per cent) also feel that Ram-adan is becoming a bit too commercial.”

Among the results revealed is a 62 per cent view that non-Muslims living in Arab countries should not eat or drink in public during Ramadan, while 52 per cent believe that all restaurants should be closed during the day — even to non-Muslims — to respect the observance of Ramadan.

The social impact showed that 74 per cent of respondents spend their free time reading the Quran during Ramadan.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabian Cleric Issues Fatwa Against Mickey Mouse

A Saudi Arabian cleric has issued a fatwa against Mickey Mouse, saying the much loved Disney character must die.

Sheikh Muhammad Munajid claimed that Mickey is “one of Satan’s soldiers” and that he makes everything he touches impure.

According to The Telegraph, The cleric, a former diplomat at the Saudi embassy in Washington DC, said that under Sharia, both household mice and their cartoon counterparts must be killed during a religious affairs programme broadcast on al-Majd TV, an Arab television network.

The cleric did admit though that Mickey Mouse did have a bright side, saying that “Mickey Mouse has become an awesome character, even though according to Islamic law, Mickey Mouse should be killed in all cases

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Syria’s Religious Tolerance Belies Critics

By Andrew England in Ma’aloula

In the streets of Ma’aloula, a Syrian village carved into the mountainside, young men and women hold hands and dance into the night as they celebrate a Christian festival that traces its roots back to the fourth century.

A church bell tolls, battling to be heard above a barrage of fireworks. Amid the gunpowder, the occasional whiff of Arak, the aniseed flavoured spirit popular in the Levant, rises through the air as thousands gather for the festival of the Holy Cross.

           — Hat tip: JS[Return to headlines]

Turkish Prime Minister: “Islamophobia” a “Crime Against Humanity”

In a sign of his simmering anger about what he sees as baseless accusations against Islam in the West, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, has called on the international community to declare the enmity against Islam a “crime against humanity”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Indonesia: Anti-Porn Bill May Threaten Tourism, Say Officials

Denpasar, 16 Sept. (AKI/The Jakarta Post) — An anti-pornography bill which is before the Indonesian Parliament may hurt tourism on the island of Bali, some officials have claimed.

The bill, currently in draft form in the House of Representatives, defines pornography as acts that incite sexual desire.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country and militant Islamic groups have taken a strong stance against pornography and prostitution in the country since the fall of former President Suharto in 1998.

The controversial legislation defines pornography as sexual materials in the form of drawings, sketches, illustrations, photographs, text, sound, moving pictures, animation, cartoons, poetry, conversations or any other form of communicative messages.

But some say the legislation could go as far as jailing people for kissing in public.

Experts see the bill as contentious, because traditional dress in Bali and the sparse clothing and swimwear worn by tourists, could be viewed as pornographic under the legislation.

“The island’s tourism will clearly suffer should the house pass the bill,” said Ngurah Wijaya, head of the Bali Tourism Board.

He said the board, an independent private organisation comprising nine organisations on the island, was not as concerned with potential commercial losses as with the possible cultural degradation stemming from the bill.

“This country has hundreds of cultural values. It would be boring to equalise all these cultures under a single definition,” Wijaya said.

Gede Nurjaya, head of the Bali Tourism Agency, said the passage of the bill would put Bali’s tourism industry under threat of a possible violent conflict.

He expressed concern there would be clashes with parties who had vested interests in the passing of the bill.

In 2006, when the bill was first proposed, a hard-line Islamic group called the Indonesian Mujahidin Council (MMI) issued a legal summons to then governor Made Dewa Beratha, a vocal opponent of the bill, following the latter’s threat to secede from Indonesia if the bill was passed.

The meeting never took place but in a series of interviews MMI official Fauzan Al Anshori said, “How about if we just blow it all up?” a clear reference to the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings that killed more than 230 people, most of whom were foreigners.

Nurjaya said the island’s tourism industry would suffer immensely if a violent conflict took place.

“In that case, I really don’t know what we can do,” he said.

Proponents of the bill claim the draft does not aim to regulate culture or dress codes, but simply to define pornography in pursuance of a more “civilised” country.

Bagus Sudibya, a tourism expert, acknowledged the moral stance behind the bill’s inception, but warned against hidden agendas in the process to pass it into law.

Bagus said the bill should focus on defining explicit pornography designed to arouse sexual desire or exploit women, and not condemn artwork depicting nudity.

“Many of Bali’s trademark attractions are in close connection with its arts, which occasionally depicts women in the nude,” he said.

Last Friday, an Indonesian Islamic party, the Prosperous Justice Party said the anti-pornography bill could be a “Ramadan present” for Muslims.

The draft bill has been before the Parliament for three years and there is speculation that it may be passed in a few weeks.

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

Karnataka: 20 Churches Attacked, Christians Accuse Police of Inaction

by Nirmala Carvalho

Young Hindu fundamentalists attack an enclosed convent. Police knew in advance that attacks would take place. Hindu radicals pledge more violence in other states of the Union.

Mangalore (AsiaNews) — Some 20 churches were vandalised in Mangalore, Udupi, Chikmalagur, and in other districts of Karnataka (south-western India). They include the monastery of the Sisters of St-Clare in Milagres. Christians have accused the police of doing nothing to prevent attacks by Hindu radicals, clashing with law enforcement officers yesterday.

Indian authorities imposed a curfew and banned all gatherings after clashing with Christians angered by the attacks and a large crowd of protesting Hindu fundamentalists.

Hindu demonstrators were still able to destroy all they could find inside the Church of St-Sebastian in Permannur, including windows and furniture.

Christians demonstrated against the police, which intervened, arresting tens of people.

Yesterday morning groups from the Sangh Parivar, an umbrella organisation that includes Hindu paramilitary groups, attacked Catholic and Protestant churches as well as temples belonging to the Jehovah’s Witnesses and some Evangelical groups.

In various districts and locations attacks seem to have been planned.

A group of youth from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) went inside the chapel of Adoration Monastery in Milagres and destroyed all they could find.

The monastery is run by the Sisters of St-Clare (Poor Clares).

In a quick succession they desecrated the tabernacle and the Eucharist, the monstrance, a crucifix, the oil lamps, the vases on the altar and a few statues of saints.

Eye witnesses in the chapel said they were armed with big stones and heavy sticks. Some of the faithful tried to stop them but were beaten and are now in hospital.

Similar attacks took place in Belthangady, Kodaikal, Chikmangalore, Udupi, Koloor, Chickmangalore, Kundapur, Karkal, Koppa, Balehanoor and Moodbidri.

Mangalore Police Superintendent N Sateesh Kumar admitted the police had information that some pro-Hindu organisations were planning to attack Christian places of worship in the district. Never the less, he did nothing to prevent them.

“If the police knew about this in advance and still could not prevent the attacks, then we have no hope,” said Fr Henry Sequeira, chancellor of the diocese of Mangalore.

Yesterday frustration led many Christians to publicly express their mistrust in the police (see photo). Despite the curfew they gathered in places that were attacked and three stones at police who tried to break up their gatherings.

In Milagres hundreds of Christians got together to defend their churches. Some of the faithful, including a nun, who tried to get to the church for Sunday Evening Mass were beaten by police, which used tear gas to disperse the Christian crowd.

Police arrested five young members of the Hindu fundamentalist group Bajrang Dal, who were behind the attack against the Poor Clares.

Mahendra Kumar, one of the leaders of Hindu militant youth organisation, denied that his group attacked any Catholic church, saying that they only attacked prayer halls belonging to the New Life Evangelical sect. He added that more attacks were planned.

The new wave of violence began in Orissa where a radical Hindu leader was killed by Maoists rebels. However the Sangh Parivar blamed the Christian community for the death as part of its campaign to drive Christians out of India and stop what it calls forced conversions of Hindus to Christianity. Eventually violence spread from Orissa to other states like Madya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka.

The All India Christian Council, an umbrella organisation that represents all of India’s Christian organisations, issued an appeal in which it expressed its fear that there “may be many more [attacks] in other states, including the national capital New Delhi” as well as in “states ruled by Congress”.

For many observers all these attacks are politically significant. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is backing the Sangh Parivar’s anti-Christian campaigns.

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

More Anti-Christian Violence in Orissa; School Attacked in Kerala

by Nirmala Carvalho

A Christian has been killed and dozens of homes have been burned. Police are clashing with Hindu militants. The tension is spreading in Kerala, and remains high in Karnataka, where the government is accused of conniving with the fundamentalists.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — The anti-Christian violence that began in Orissa three weeks ago has still not died down; instead, it is spreading into Kerala. The situation also remains tense in Karnataka.

In Orissa, weeks after the first violence and after days of curfew and a state of emergency, last night in the district of Kandhamal, the epicenter of the anti-Christian violence, a crowd of more than 500 Hindus attacked a police station and burned a number of vehicles. One policeman was killed. The attack seems to have been a retaliation against the police, who in recent days opened fire on militant Hindus in Krutamgarh, to stop them from burning homes belonging to Christians.

But the violence against the faithful continues. Fr Dibyasingh Parichha, spokesman for the diocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, tells AsiaNews that “on September 14, in the village of Makabali, twelve homes belonging to Christians were burned, plus one in Debari and one in Murudikupuda. Yesterday, near Raikia, a Christian was killed”.

The wave of anti-Christian violence is spreading to other parts of India.

[Return to headlines]

War Erupts Over Anti-Pornography Law in Indonesia

The country’s political landscape is divided between those who want the law to be enacted in order to “moralize” customs, and those who denounce the destruction of “a pluralist society” and the introduction of sharia. Also at risk is the tourism industry, hampered by the strict observance of Islamic precepts.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — An intrusion into the private lives of citizens, and an open violation of the freedom of expression, of plurality of customs and traditions in the country, aimed only at transforming Indonesian into an Arab colony ruled by sharia law. A genuine public protest has been raised by the law against pornography — better known as the Undang-undang Pornografi, and under consideration in congress — which, if it were enacted, would eliminate “different expressions and cultures”, as human rights activists, representatives of civil society, women’s groups, and leading artistic and cultural figures all claim.

For decades, Indonesia’s tradition has been characterized by multiculturalism, boasting more than 40 ethnic groups and 200 dialects; it is enriched by diverse forms of culture and religious practice. The introduction of strict pornography laws, intended to protect young people from immoral content and lewd behavior, risks being transformed into blanket condemnation of the country’s varied composition. It would also seriously harm the tourism industry, especially in Bali and in other places heavily visited by foreigners, attracted by the beaches and night spots. Even a bikini, if the law were approved, would violate the rigid laws and would be subject to punishment.

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world, and in the past it has seen episodes of tension and violence with a religious background. It has even been the the theater of deadly Islamic terrorist attacks, especially the one in 2002 on the island of Bali. Nonetheless, it boasts a great diversity of cultural traditions, which would also be wiped out by a rigid observance of Islamic precepts, transforming the country according to the model of Saudi Arabia, where fundamental freedoms are denied in the name of “morality” and of respect “for Islam”.

Actors, artists, painters, human rights activists, and women’s groups are asking that the law on pornography be rejected. They are calling upon lawmakers to take provisions against the spread of pornographic material, including DVDs, television broadcasts, and magazines, but denounce the attempt at “government interference in the private lives of citizens”. “Don’t import the Arab spirit into pluralist Indonesia”, warns Gunawan Muhammad, a practicing Muslim, who recalls how in Saudi Arabia, women must “wear the veil and cover themselves from head to toe” in the name of a generic defense of their integrity from “sex abuse or rape”. “What would happen”, asks Gunawan Muhammad, “on the 17,000 islands that make up our country, each one with its own cultural specificity and particular religious tradition?”. “It would be absurd”, he continues, “to ask a woman in Papua to cover her chest or wear a bra”. And certain artistic and literary expressions would also violate the ban, like the artistic nude, which has nothing to do with pornography.

Indonesia’s political world remains deeply divided over the approval of the controversial law: the nationalist front, parties of Christian inspiration, Golkar, and the democrats oppose its introduction; Muslim groups and the traditionalist and conservative Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) are loudly asking for its approval, according to their long-standing “campaign for the moralization of customs”. In an interview with local media, PKS leader Mahfud Siddiq called the introduction of the law against pornography a “gift” for Ramadan, to bring “greater moral rigor” to the country.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

French Troops Storm Yacht to Free Hostages From Somali Pirates

France dispatched elite commandos to free two French hostages under cover of night, then called on other nations to join in taking decisive action against Somali pirates disrupting commerce and aid operations off the East African coast.

French troops wearing night-vision goggles killed one pirate, captured six others and pulled the French Polynesian couple to safety in an overnight operation described by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a triumphant press conference.

He pressed other countries to follow his nation’s example and take on the pirates instead of negotiating.

           — Hat tip: Dymphna[Return to headlines]

German Shipowner Paid Ransom to Somali Pirates

For weeks, heavily armed Somalis held a German ship and its crew captive until the owner paid millions to secure their release. The ransom will enable the pirates to buy more weapons and boats. The owner says it’s time the military stepped in to protect shipping in the Gulf of Aden.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Immigration: Spain, 25,000 Arrested in 19 Months

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, SEPTEMBER 15 — The fight against human trafficking in Spain has registered figures that demonstrate the dimensions of the phenomenon: some 25,000 people have been arrested by the police in less than a year and a half, between January 1, 2007 and July 31, 2008, for crimes related to entrance of illegal immigrants in the country. An average 45 people daily were arrested on charges of human trafficking, according to data by the national police, reported today by El Pais daily. Most of those detained for relations to human trafficking organisations are accused of sexual exploitation, fraud and forgery. The latest police operation, on Friday in Bilbao, in the Basque country, was carried out against an organisation accused of swindling immigrants out of 120,000 euro. The persons arrested include a Spanish lawyer whose license was suspended in May for a previous fraud sentence. In exchange for the advance payment of between 1,200 euro and 1,500 euro, the organisation promised residence and work permits and family reunion practices which later were not granted to the illegal immigrants. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

College Bans ‘Christmas’ and ‘Easter’ From Calendar for Fear of Offending Ethnic Students

A college has renamed the traditional Christmas and Easter breaks in a bid to avoid offending students from other religions.

The college’s new calendar shows that both of the traditional holiday periods have now been re-branded as ‘end of term breaks’.

Critics have complained that the decision by Yorkshire Coast College is nothing more than ‘political correctness’.

Tory MP Robert Goodwill said: ‘I have heard that some people refer to the Christmas period as the Winterval, which is worse. This is absolutely barmy.

‘We are a Christian country and, to be honest, religious tolerance in this country is about respecting other people’s religious beliefs.’

‘We live in a country where there is a mutual respect for religious beliefs.

‘School terms are traditionally separated by Christmas and Easter and they should be referred to as such.

‘They are petrified that they offend the minority but what they are doing is offending the majority.

‘It’s political correctness gone mad and I am disappointed that it’s from an edict from Ofsted.’

The college, based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire offers a range of courses concentrating on training for ‘life skills’ such as Engineering, Motor Vehicle Training and IT.

The college insists that the decision is in line with Ofsted guidelines and has been made to ‘increase inclusion and diversity’.

It circulates the internal year planner annually to 150 teaching staff and up to 50 other workers to inform them of important dates such as term times and training days.

A spokeswoman for the college said: ‘Every school and college, wherever located, is responsible for educating its learners who will live and work in a country which is diverse in terms of cultures, religions or beliefs, ethnicities and social backgrounds.

‘All employees at Yorkshire Coast College are encouraged to closely follow guidelines set out by Ofsted for the promotion of equality and diversity.

‘We constantly review the ways in which we communicate, to ensure that we do not discriminate, and part of those reviews means that we have stopped referring to the Christmas Break and Easter Break and we now have End of Term Break.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Bin Laden’s Son Promotes Peace at 9/11 Iftar

At the end of a sandy track in the shadow of some of Egypt’s lesser-known pyramids, Osama bin Laden’s son Omar broke the Ramazan fast on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the name of world peace.

Here, in the desert a few miles outside of Cairo, is where Saudi-born Osama’s fourth son Omar, 27, and his English wife Zaina have decided to set up a desert farm, a halfway point between their respective homelands.But having invited a Bedouin tent-full of guests to join their sunset “iftar”, Zaina, 52, confesses they hadn’t realised the date was September 11 — seven years since the 2001 attacks on the US, claimed by her father-in-law. “They thought about having a minute’s silence but instead they asked me to say some words for peace in the world,” says Suzanne, a friend. “And Omar will be the first to sign the scroll of peace,” a petition she hopes will draw a million signatures. Omar signs the scroll, but tonight there will be no quotes about his father’s whereabouts or anything else beyond his new, placid realm of a few hundred square metres of sandy land at the foot of the Abu Sir pyramids. The couple are wearing traditional Arab gowns for the occasion, relaxed in the middle of a parade of Arab stallions, two cages of guinea fowl and a sitting, grumbling camel.

The fourth of 11 children from his father’s first wife and one of reportedly 19 fathered by the world’s most wanted man, Omar bears a remarkable resemblance to his father. He and Zaina recently set up the “Al-Mirage” horse ranch after Britain rejected Omar’s application to move there with Zaina — formerly known as Jane Felix-Browne — because his presence might cause “considerable public concern.” Beleaguered by the press since their marriage last year, the couple have now decided to invite a few Cairo-based journalists to their two-storey cream-coloured ranch — to break the fast and admire the horses, but no interviews. For the record, Omar said recently that he hasn’t spoken to his father since 2000, after he left an Al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan because he didn’t want to be involved in killing civilians. He said of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States that “I don’t think 9/11 was right personally, but it happened.” He condemns the killing of any innocent person.

They guide their small group of guests to the mausoleum at the pyramids of Abu Sir — “the site of the forgotten kings of the 5th Dynasty” — but will only go on the record about one thing: horses. “I was born with horses, we had them everywhere we went with my father,” Omar says, expounding on the subtleties of breeding. “You have to make sure you get the right cross, it’s like with humans, otherwise you make a mistake.” Despite media attention at the time, Omar and Zaina have frozen plans made earlier this year for a horse race across North Africa to promote peace “because of logistical problems.”

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Energy: Tunisia-France Sign Agreement on Nuclear Energy

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, AUGUST 27 — A twenty-year cooperation agreement in the sector of nuclear energy was signed between Tunisia and France. The main objective is the implementation of a project directed mainly to electric energy production and desalination of the sea water. The possibilities for application in the field of medicine, industry and agriculture are not excluded. The signing of the agreement follows a meeting of a joint committee, in the framework of the guarantee system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), of which Tunisia is a member. The impetus to the studying of the possibilities of atomic energy use in Tunisia was given by President Ben Ali in November 2006. The electric energy production is currently related to the natural gas exploitation which Tunisia imports with a significant expenditure aggravated by continuous rises. Considering that the local electric energy demand is increasing continuously, it is estimated that the demand will be 30 billion kilowatt hours in 2020. For that reason, if by this date Tunisia is able to have a nuclear power plant with power of 7,000 megawatts directed to the electricity production, the experts estimate savings of $50 billion in the period 2020-2035. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

OIC Terms Suicidal Attacks Un-Islamic

ISLAMABAD, Sep 16 (APP): Assistant Secretary General of Organisation of Islamic Conference, (OIC) Kemal Izat Mufti Tuesday strongly condemned the suicide attacks and hooliganism against the humanity and termed it “against the holy spirit of Islam”.

He stated this while addressing a press conference, flanked by Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Sardar Ateeq Ahmad Khan after a detailed visit to Azad Kashmir.

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske[Return to headlines]