Monday, January 25, 2010

Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/25/2010

Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/25/2010A twelve-year-old Christian girl employed as a domestic servant in Lahore was tortured, raped, and killed by her Muslim employer.

Meanwhile, in North Korea the populace is gradually being introduced to the idea that the third son of Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il will be the dictator’s successor.

In other news, an eighth person has died of anthrax in Scotland. All the victims so far have been heroin addicts, and the disease is thought to have been spread through heroin contaminated with anthrax spores.

Thanks to 4symbols, Barry Rubin, C. Cantoni, CSP, ICLA, Insubria, JD, KGS, Sean O’Brian, Steen, TB, TV, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
Zombies That Ate America
Chuck Norris: State of the Union Grade: ‘F’
Frank Gaffney: Stop START
Massachusetts Vote Seen as Armenian Punishment for Obama
Obama to Skip Jury Duty in Chicago Suburbs
Obama Said “Big Difference” Between ‘10 and ‘94 is “Me”
Oregon Governor Candidate Would Create ‘Bank of Oregon’
Passengers Tackle ‘Unruly’ New York Man on United Airlines Flight After He Knocked on Cockpit Door
Ralph Peters: Fort Hood Massacre Report Gutless and Shameful
Europe and the EU
Author Martin Amis Calls for Euthanasia Booths in UK’s Street Corners to Prevent a ‘Silver Tsunami’
Eighth Scots Anthrax Drug Death
Ireland: Petition: Let’s Challenge the New Blasphemy Law That Denies Us Our Fundamental Human Rights
Italy: Mafia ‘Boss of Bosses’ Aide Given 30 Year Jail Term
Spain: Cinema Recovers After 4 Years of Crisis
Spain Champions Turkish Membership in EU ‘Family’
Swede Gives Millions to German Anti-Islam Party
The ‘Dishonorable’ German Girls
UK: British Businessmen ‘Tricked’ Into Hungary Jail
UK: Blackburn Rovers Star El Hadji Diouf’s Gold Cadillac
UK: EDL: ‘We’re Here Because We Want Our Country Back’
Serbia: Minister, Regular Army Service Will Stop Next Year
North Africa
Egypt Keeps on Working for Palestinians, Mubarak
Libya: Two Reformist Newspapers Suspended
Non-Muslims Enjoy Religious Freedom in Morocco
Tunisia: Water Reserves in Large Dams Increase
Tunisia: Military Service for Graduates in P.A. Offices
Israel and the Palestinians
Hugo Chavez May Join Gaza Flotilla
Israel — Palestine: Netanyahu Claims Parts of the West Bank “For Eternity”
The Obama Administration Learns the Basic Lesson on the Israel-Palestinian Issue
U.S., Israel Misleading Public on Status of Talks?
Middle East
Celebrated Iraq War Veteran’s View of the Gaza Conflict
Council of Europe: Assembly Elects 1st Turkish President
Ihsanoglu Calls for the Establishment of the OIC Peace and Security Council
Iraq — Iran: Shadow of Tehran and Washington Hangs Over Iraqi Elections
Iraq: Saddam’s Cousin ‘Chemical Ali’ Executed
U.N. Seeks to Drop Some Taliban From Terror List
Yemen Rebel Offers to Leave Saudi Arabia
South Asia
Berlin Reluctant to Follow American Lead on Afghanistan
India: Over 300 Leading Indian Industrialists Bring Christian Values to Economy
Indonesia: President Launches Third Album
Pakistan: Lahore: 12-Year-Old Christian Domestic Worker Killed by Muslim Employer
UN Climate Chief Rajendra Pachauri ‘Got Grants Through Bogus Claims’
Far East
Heir to the Dear Leader Appears From the Shadows
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sudan Shoe-Thrower ‘Targets President Omar Al-Bashir’
Latin America
Haiti: Italian Civil Protection Chief Attacks US Aid Effort
US Supreme Court Rules in Favour of Noriega Extradition
France: 1 Out of 3 Marriages is Mixed, Mass Phenomenon
France: 94 Kurdish Immigrants Freed in Corsica
Hungary: Afghans Top Illegal Migration List, Says Police Expert
Ireland: Ahern Tells EU Partners Residency Laws Must be Reviewed
Italy: President Attacks Mafia After Immigrant Riot
Lybia: Entry Visas for EU-Citizens Restricted, Source Says
Poll Shows Aussies Want Immigration Capped
Spain: 7,600 Offenders Deported in 2009
How Taqiyya Alters Islam’s Rules of War

Financial Crisis

Zombies That Ate America

There is no doubt that the system is going to break down. This is not because is based on fraud and pretense — although it is — but because it happens to be completely unsustainable. That $145 billion in banking industry salaries and bonuses is not only equal to one percent of GDP; it is also equal to 14 percent of all the post-tax corporate profits in America, according to the BEA’s most recent report. Unless the plan is to convert the nation into a gigantic version of the Cayman Islands, where financial services and tourism make up the entire economy, this increasingly bizarre economic structure cannot possibly survive regardless of what Obama, the Senate, the House or the Federal Reserve attempt to do.

Obama’s embrace of Paul Volcker’s plan to limit proprietary trading by financial firms is a good start, as is the idea of preventing banks from reaching a size where they are deemed too big to fail. But it is only start, and it is by no means enough to even begin solving the economic problem created by the short-sighted greed and arrogance of the zombie bankers. An easier and more effective way would be to end what Karl Denninger of the Market Ticker describes as “mark to fantasy.” The only reason the banks are able to pretend they have made massive profits, the only reason they are able to pretend that they are solvent at all, is because they are allowed to claim artificially high valuations on the assets they are holding.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Chuck Norris: State of the Union Grade: ‘F’

Remember when Washington powerbrokers, as well as mainstream media like CNN and MSNBC, gave little press to the tea-party rallies? Remember when they mocked cross-country town-hall meetings last summer as pockets of resistance and labeled us patriots, constitutionalists and independents as extremists or radicals who had little sway?

That has all changed with the election of Republican Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate seat long held by the late Ted Kennedy. Whether you agree with him or not, Brown’s election was a real turning point in our country. It truly is a repudiation of all that Washington is fighting for and forcing like a ramrod down our country’s throat. It serves as a reminder that patriots can indeed rally across the country and change the flow of Washington.

But does Washington get it? President Obama?

For a moment, I thought they might (how temporarily naïve or overly optimistic of me). But then I listened to President Obama being interviewed by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos the morning after the Massachusetts election. The president’s exact words were: “And here’s my assessment of not just the vote in Massachusetts, but the mood around the country. The same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office. People are angry, and they’re frustrated. Not just because of what’s happened in the last year or two years, but what’s happened over the last eight years.”

Wrong, Mr. President. What swept Scott Brown into office was a national disdain for what your administration is doing and has done to our country. It’s no longer an anger or frustration with Bush’s presidency, but yours. It’s not what’s happened in the preceding eight years, but the past year since you’ve become president. (Are you really still blaming President Bush?)

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Frank Gaffney: Stop START

Any day now, President Obama is expected to unveil a new nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia. This so-called Strategic Arms Reduction (START) follow-on treaty will be ballyhooed as an important step towards the realization of Mr. Obama’s goal of a nuclear weapons-free world. As things stand now, however, that step seems unlikely to be approved by the Senate — let alone translate into an end to nuclear proliferation and the dangers associated with it.

There is no small irony that the prospects for the START follow-on treaty were made worse recently by four men who arguably have done more than any others to lend credence to the notion that a nuclear-free planet would be desirable and realizable: Former Republican secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, Bill Clinton’s former Pentagon chief, Bill Perry, and the former Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sam Nunn…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

Massachusetts Vote Seen as Armenian Punishment for Obama

Many Armenian-Americans voted against U.S. President Barack Obama’s candidate in Tuesday’s election for a key Senate seat in Massachusetts, in an effort to punish the Democratic president.

They accuse Obama of breaking his pledge to acknowledge what they call the “Armenian genocide.”

The Massachusetts seat was vacated by the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy, whom Armenians see as a legendary supporter of their cause. In the Jan. 19 special election to replace Kennedy, the Republican candidate, Scott Brown, comfortably defeated his Democratic rival Martha Coakley, upsetting Obama’s plans to obtain a key 60-40 filibuster-proof Democratic majority in the Senate.

Now the math is a 59-to-41 Democratic majority, under which the Republicans, with their 41 senators, can block Democrat-led legislations.

Ironically, Coakley was the closer candidate to Armenian-Americans, supporting Washington’s recognition of World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as “genocide.” But many Massachusetts Armenians still voted for Brown, whose views on Armenian-related matters remain largely unknown.

Massachusetts, along with the largest states of California and New York, is one of the places where Armenian-Americans have the strongest influence on local politics.

Referendum on Obama?

In a Jan. 14 statement issued for the Massachusetts Armenians, Coakley said that one of her major objectives would be “to support efforts to make the recognition of the Armenian genocide a reality.” The Armenian National Committee, or ANC, of Massachusetts, an Armenian lobbying group, said it welcomed Coakley’s remarks, but the group’s statement was a rather weak one.

So why did the Massachusetts Armenians decline to staunchly back Coakley in the election in this New England state with strong Democratic traditions, and long-standing links to the Kennedy family? The answer is that this was not a matter about Coakley or Brown, but about Obama.

In line with the dropping popularity figures for Obama seen in public-opinion polls, most Massachusetts Americans pulled back their support from the president after what they viewed as a disappointing first year on the job. The Armenians had their own additional reasons.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama at least twice publicly pledged to recognize the last century’s Armenian killings as “genocide.” But he reversed his position last year, and instead strongly supported a reconciliation process between Turkey and Armenia.

Top objective

For most Armenian-Americans, winning formal U.S. “genocide recognition” remains their top objective, and throughout last year, many groups representing them accused Obama of breaking his promises. Some Armenian-Americans went as far as saying that the U.S. president had betrayed the Armenians.

Although the ANC of Massachusetts welcomed Coakley’s Armenian-related remarks, group co-chair Ara Nazarian said Armenian-Americans were hesitant about whether or not to support her.

“The Armenian-American community is understandably hesitant about supporting a candidate after the inexcusable manner in which President Obama and his administration broke his long-standing campaign promise to properly acknowledge the Armenian genocide,” Nazarian said in the Armenian Weekly on Jan. 16.

“Why did so many Massachusetts Armenians, including myself, vote for the Republican U.S. Senate candidate, Scott Brown? Because, we are primarily frustrated with President Obama breaking his pledge to acknowledge the Armenian genocide, and the White House decreasing U.S. aid to Armenia,” another Armenian-American, Berge Jololian, said Jan. 19 on the newspaper’s blog. “Our votes will deprive Obama and his Democratic Party the critical 60 votes in the Senate.”

Critically important congressional elections will be held in November. If the U.S. Armenians’ disappointment with Obama remains in place, many may move toward Republican candidates in those polls as well.

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

Obama to Skip Jury Duty in Chicago Suburbs

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — A White House official says President Barack Obama will be skipping jury duty after being summoned in Illinois.

The administration official confirmed to The Associated Press on Sunday that the president alerted the court weeks ago that he won’t be able to make it. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak publicly.

Obama was summoned for jury duty at the Bridgeview courthouse in suburban Chicago starting Monday. The summons had arrived at the Obama home on Chicago’s South Side.

With his first State of the Union speech set for Wednesday, Obama has a busy week ahead.

The president is a graduate of Harvard Law School and a former professor at the University of Chicago Law School.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Obama Said “Big Difference” Between ‘10 and ‘94 is “Me”

Rep. Marion Berry’s parting shot, published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette [no link, subscription only] offers a warning to moderate Democrats and border state moderates — warning of a midterm bloodbath comparable to the 54-seat D-to-R swing in 1994.

But the jaw-dropper is Berry’s claim that President Obama personally dismissed any comparison between Democrats now and under Bill Clinton 16 years ago — by saying his personal popularity would bail everybody out.

[Return to headlines]

Oregon Governor Candidate Would Create ‘Bank of Oregon’

The state of Oregon should have its own bank so taxpayer dollars could help fund local businesses instead of boosting the profits of big multinational banks, says Bill Bradbury, Democratic candidate for governor and former secretary of state.

Bradbury announced his proposal today in Portland as part of his plan to find jobs for more Oregonians. The state bank, modeled on one in North Dakota, would form the cornerstone of his jobs proposal, he said.

“It’s time to make Oregon’s money work for Oregonians,” Bradbury said. Small businesses are hurting because banks are squeezing off credit necessary for growth.

[Return to headlines]

Passengers Tackle ‘Unruly’ New York Man on United Airlines Flight After He Knocked on Cockpit Door

Quick-thinking passengers tackled a suspicious New York man on a Las Vegas-bound flight, springing into action after the disorderly rider rapped on the cockpit door.

“When I saw him knock on the pilot’s door, I knew something was wrong, so I jumped from my chair and ran to the front,” passenger Sergei Sandou, 42, of Las Vegas, said Sunday.

Sandou, along with six other passengers, restrained the man until the D.C.-Las Vegas flight made an emergency landing in Denver just after 5 p.m. Saturday.

“Everyone was panicked. Everyone was scared,” said Sandou, who runs a production company.

“In this situation, you don’t have time to think. You do what you can. You just try to do your best.”

The passenger, who has not been charged or identified except for his home state, was arrested by authorities who met United Airlines’ Flight 223.

The passenger was interviewed by the FBI and released from custody to undergo a medical evaluation, FBI spokeswoman Kathleen Wright said.

“There are no indications that this is anything other than an unruly passenger,” Wright said.

[Return to headlines]

Ralph Peters: Fort Hood Massacre Report Gutless and Shameful

There are two basic problems with the grotesque non-report on the Islamist- terror massacre at Fort Hood (released by the Defense Department yesterday):

* It’s not about what happened at Fort Hood.

* It avoids entirely the issue of why it happened.

Rarely in the course of human events has a report issued by any government agency been so cowardly and delusional. It’s so inept, it doesn’t even rise to cover-up level.

“Protecting the Force: Lessons From Fort Hood” never mentions Islamist terror. Its 86 mind-numbing pages treat “the alleged perpetrator,” Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, as just another workplace shooter (guess they’re still looking for the pickup truck with the gun rack).

The report is so politically correct that its authors don’t even realize the extent of their political correctness — they’re body-and-soul creatures of the PC culture that murdered 12 soldiers and one Army civilian.

Reading the report, you get the feeling that, jeepers, things actually went pretty darned well down at Fort Hood. Commanders, first responders and everybody but the latest “American Idol” contestants come in for high praise.

The teensy bit of specific criticism is reserved for the “military medical officer supervisors” in Maj. Hasan’s chain of command at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. As if the problem started and ended there.

Unquestionably, the officers who let Hasan slide, despite his well-known wackiness and hatred of America, bear plenty of blame. But this disgraceful pretense of a report never asks why they didn’t stop Hasan’s career in its tracks.

The answer is straightforward: Hasan’s superiors feared — correctly — that any attempt to call attention to his radicalism or to prevent his promotion would backfire on them, destroying their careers, not his.

Hasan was a protected-species minority. Under the PC tyranny of today’s armed services, no non-minority officer was going to take him on.

This is a military that imposes rules of engagement that protect our enemies and kill our own troops and that court-martials heroic SEALs to appease a terrorist. Ain’t many colonels willing to hammer the Army’s sole Palestinian-American psychiatrist.

Of course, there’s no mention of political correctness by the panel. Instead, the report settles for blinding flashes of the obvious, such as “We believe a gap exists in providing information to the right people.” Gee, really? Well, that explains everything. Money well spent!

Or “Department of Defense force protection policies are not optimized for countering internal threats.” Of course not: You can’t stop an internal threat you refuse to recognize.

The panel’s recommendations? Wow. “Develop a risk-assessment tool for commanders.” Now that’s going to stop Islamist terrorists in their tracks.

The Fort Hood massacre didn’t reflect an intelligence failure. The intelligence was there, in gigabytes. This was a leadership failure and an ethical failure, at every level. Nobody wanted to know what Hasan was up to. But you won’t learn that from this play-pretend report.

The sole interesting finding flashes by quickly: Behind some timid wording on pages 13 and 14, a daring soul managed to insert the observation that we aren’t currently able to keep violence-oriented religious extremists from becoming chaplains. (Of course, they’re probably referring to those darned Baptists . . .)

To be fair, there’s a separate, classified report on Maj. Hasan himself. But it’s too sensitive for the American people to see. Does it even hint he was a self-appointed Islamist terrorist committing jihad? I’ll bet it focuses on his “personal problems.”

In the end, the report contents itself with pretending that the accountability problem was isolated within the military medical community at Walter Reed. It wasn’t, and it isn’t. Murderous political correctness is pervasive in our military. The medical staff at Walter Reed is just where the results began to manifest themselves in Hasan’s case.

Once again, the higher-ups blame the worker bees who were victims of the policy the higher-ups inflicted on them. This report’s spinelessness is itself an indictment of our military’s failed moral and ethical leadership.

We agonize over civilian casualties in a war zone but rush to whitewash the slaughter of our own troops on our own soil. Conduct unbecoming.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Author Martin Amis Calls for Euthanasia Booths in UK’s Street Corners to Prevent a ‘Silver Tsunami’

Euthanasia ‘booths’ should be established on street corners for pensioners to end their lives with ‘a martini and a medal’, novelist Martin Amis said yesterday.

Britain is facing a demographic timebomb as its ageing population places an impossible burden on society, the controversial writer claimed.

Anti-euthanasia campaigners reacted with horror to the suggestion of euthanasia booths for pensioners and called Amis’s idea ‘repugnant and offensive’.

The 60-year-old novelist predicted Britain could be engulfed by a ‘civil war’ between the old and young if it did not tackle its ageing population.

‘How is society going to support this silver tsunami?’ he asked in an interview with the Sunday Times.

‘There’ll be a population of demented very old people, like an invasion of terrible immigrants, stinking out the restaurants and cafes and shops.

‘I can imagine a sort of civil war between the old and the young in ten or 15 years’ time.’

Amis, a grandfather, added: ‘There should be a booth on every corner where you could get a martini and a medal.’

[Return to headlines]

Eighth Scots Anthrax Drug Death

An eighth drug addict has died after being infected with anthrax, health officials have confirmed.

Another patient, also a drug user, was confirmed to be infected with the bacteria after using what is believed to be a contaminated batch of heroin.

Both new cases occurred in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

The region has seen the highest infection rate and also the most deaths since the outbreak of the infection in December.

The health board has now seen nine confirmed cases of anthrax and five deaths.

Cutting agent

In total, eight people have now died out of 17 confirmed cases during the outbreak across six NHS boards.

Anthrax is a deadly bacterial infection which occurs mostly in animals in Asia and Africa.

Humans are seldom infected and it is extremely rare for anthrax to be spread from person to person.

A Health Protection Scotland spokesman said the outbreak was “ongoing” among heroin users.

Symptoms of infection include swelling, redness, abscesses or ulcers on skin where the needle has entered, often with septicaemia.

An investigation by health boards, the procurator fiscal and Strathclyde Police is trying to identify the source of the anthrax.

One possibility is that contaminated heroin, or a contaminated agent used to cut the drug, is to blame.

           — Hat tip: 4symbols[Return to headlines]

Ireland: Petition: Let’s Challenge the New Blasphemy Law That Denies Us Our Fundamental Human Rights

As of 1st January 2010 the Irish government brought into force a new blasphemy law, punishable by a fine of up to 25,000 euro. Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern justified this irrational action by arguing that while immigration has brought a growing diversity of religious faiths to Ireland, the 1936 constitution extended the protection of beliefs only to Christians. (Guardian Online) This new blasphemy law goes against our civil rights and denies us the gift of freedom of speech. Let’s make a stand now and show our support for a secular, modern and equal republic.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Italy: Mafia ‘Boss of Bosses’ Aide Given 30 Year Jail Term

Palermo, 22 Jan. (AKI) — A Palermo court on Friday sentenced jailed Sicilian mafia ‘boss of bosses’ Bernardo Provenzano’s right-hand man, Salvatore Lo Piccolo, to 30 years in prison for mafia association. The court handed Lo Piccolo’s son Sandro the same jail term in a landmark trial of 17 mafia defendants.

The Lo Piccolos had featured on a list of Italy’s 30 ‘most wanted’ men and were among 13 mafia defendants sentenced to a total of 141 years in jail in the so-called ‘goodbye protection racket’ trial.

During the trial, anti-mafia associations, and the Palermo province and city council for the first time collectively acted as plaintiffs with 15 alleged victims of the Sicilian mafia’s extortion racket.

Four other defendants were acquitted in the trial, including two businessmen who had been accused of having paid the mafia ‘protection’ money and failing to report the extortionists to police.

The court awarded a total 760,000 euros in damages to anti-mafia associations, the city council and province of Palermo.

The sentences were passed by four judges after 80 hours of deliberations.

The Addiopizzo (Goodbye protection racket) association has announced it will not act as a plaintiff in future mafia and extortion trials if victims fail to report the extortionists.

Salvatore Lo Piccolo and Sandro Lo Piccolo were arrested in November 2007 as they attended a mafia ‘summit’ in a villa outside Palermo.

Prosecutors used evidence found in hand-written notes or ‘pizzini’ left at the villa to convict them.

They followed the conviction of 50 suspects for mafia association in a mass trial in Sicily last year.

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

Spain: Cinema Recovers After 4 Years of Crisis

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JANUARY 22 — After spending four years out in the desert, Spanish cinema has gone back to being optimistic thanks to the final balance of 2009, a year which saw a 9% increase in takings and a growth of 2.8% in audience numbers compared to 2008. According to a study by the consulting company Nielsen EDI, presented by the Federation of Spanish Cinema (FECE), 110 million Spaniards visited the country’s 4,000 cinema screens in 2009, compared to the 107 million in the previous year, guaranteeing takings of 675 million euros. This is the best data since 2004 when 144 million attendances were registered with takings of 191.6 million euros. “We are optimistic because, despite the crisis and internet piracy, we were able to maintain our market share”: Juan Ramon Gomez Fabra, president of FECE, which groups some 3,000 screens, can’t hide his enthusiasm. But, is it just a mirage or a definite end to the freefall? El Pais asks today. According to Daniel Monzon, the director of Celda 221, “the biggest cinematographic surprise of the year was the box office phenomenon. What is certain is that people go to the cinema when they’re really interested in seeing that one film. You have to motivate audiences again in order to get that back to the big screen.” Other things that have definitely contributed to the recovery of the cinematographic industry in Spain last season, according to people who work in the industry, was a varied and high-quality offer, alongside the success of 3D, with films like Up and Avatar, championing at the box office. Distributors and cinema owners highlight the response of the mass audience to the offer of films in 3D, extremely competitive with the cost of a ticket at 10 euros, compared to the 7.50 euros of 2D films, which has created hope in the future of the sector. In total, seventeen 3D films were shown in Spain in 2009, bringing some 6 million viewers to the cinema, with 50 million in takings, according to the FECE report, which has preannounced the official balance sheet to be presented in the next few days by the Ministry of Culture. The champion of takings in 2009 was the mega production Agora, by Alejandro Amebanar, watched by 3 million people, with 21 million euros taken at the box office, followed by Planet 51 and Celda 211. Good figures in the cinematographic market were found in most European countries; only Italy, together with Ireland and Finland, recorded a drop in presences at the cinema. However, Spain’s good performance in 2009 is not enough to sweep away the black clouds lurking on the horizon that have been signalled by cinema managers. These include the illegal competition of digital piracy and the cinema law in Catalonia, which obligates the dubbing or subtitling in Catalan of 50% of prints in distribution, about which the top distributors are already preparing for battle. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain Champions Turkish Membership in EU ‘Family’

The Spanish EU presidency has strongly advocated Turkey’s entry into the union, but most Europeans would say No if asked in a referendum.

“Turkey is part of the European family of nations. It’s better to have it inside the EU than to leave it standing before the door,” Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said in an interview with German paper Die Welt on Sunday (23 January).

The minister, a former EU special envoy to the Middle East, endorsed Turkish accession on strategic grounds.

“Turkish diplomacy is very well connected in the Middle East and Central Asia where it is taking on an important mediating role. Turkey is also an important partner in the dialogue of civilisations between East and West,” he said.

“This is our challenge in dealing with the Islamic world: We must show that interfaces exist between Muslim societies and between universal values, which are represented by the EU, that co-existence and consensus are possible.”

Spain has promised to try and open four more negotiating chapters in Turkish-EU accession talks during its six-month EU chairmanship.

The talks began in 2005 but just 12 out of 35 chapters have been opened so far due, in part, to opposition by EU member Cyprus, which is locked in conflict with Turkey over the northern part of the island.

Speaking in a separate interview in Austria’s Die Presse newspaper, also on Sunday, Turkey’s chief EU negotiator, Egemen Bagis, sprinkled sarcasm on the Cyprus problem.

Turkey is keen to help the union access Caspian Sea gas supplies but “Unfortunately [it] cannot open the energy chapter with the EU because of a beautiful island in the Mediterranean Sea,” he said.

Mr Bagis said that Turkey aims to put in place the full gamut of EU legislation — the acquis communautaire — by 2013, and gave short shrift to Turkey-scepticism within the union.

“The days of 1683 lie far behind us. We haven’t had any kind of diplomatic difficulties in the past 300 years,” he said in reference to the Battle of Vienna in 1683, when a coalition of European countries defeated the army of the Ottoman Empire.

Germany and Austria are among the two most staunchly anti-Turkish accession countries in the EU.

Germany’s new centre-right and liberal government has said that it stands by its EU-level agreement to hold open-ended talks with Turkey. But the CSU party, a member of the governing coalition, wants a “privileged partnership” instead of full accession.

The Austrian government has said that it would call a national referendum before letting Turkey in.

A new survey of opinion in five EU countries by the Bogazici University in Istanbul and the Granada University and Autonomous University of Madrid in Spain, cited by AFP, shows that 64 percent of people in France and 62 percent of Germans would say No to Turkey if a referendum was held.

The No vote was weaker in the UK, on 46 percent. Poland and Spain would vote Yes by 54 percent and 53 percent, respectively.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Swede Gives Millions to German Anti-Islam Party

Swedish far-right businessman Patrik Brinkmann has announced he will pour €5 million ($7.1 million) into the coffers of Pro NRW, an anti-Islam populist party based in Cologne, Germany

In a Sunday report aired on Germany’s public broadcaster WDR, Brinkmann said he fears Germany is becoming “too foreign” and that Sharia law will be introduced in the country.

“However, there are no, or very few, politicians who take this seriously,” Brinkmann said.

“That’s why I believe that a new right wing (in Germany) can not only succeed, but in five or ten years be as large as the FPÖ in Austria or the SVP in Switzerland,” he added, referring to Austria’s Freedom Party and the Swiss People’s Party, two far-right groups which have enjoyed a certain amount of electoral success.

The millionaire, who reportedly already has ties to Germany’s extreme-right NPD and DVU parties, will finance a building for Pro NRW to be used as an anti-Islam centre.

Burkhard Freier, the deputy head of the North Rhine-Westphalian branch of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Verfassungsschutz, considers Pro NRW and a related group, Pro Köln (Pro Cologne), dangerous organizations.

However, he added that Pro NRW’s membership roll is so small, around 300, that it does not have much of an influence in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state.

“That’s why they play up every new member, every property purchase and every event as big as they can on the internet so they can give their own adherents the feeling that ‘we are somebody’,” Freier said.

In 2004, Brinkmann founded the Continent Europe Foundation (Kontinent Europa Stiftelse — KES) in Sweden, a group seeking to establish a “greater European civilization” that will include Russia.

Brinkmann later caused a stir in 2008 when it was revealed he had purchased a €3.3-million villa in the Berlin suburbs, prompting fears on the part of German authorities that the home would become a base for neo-Nazi activities.

German intelligence agents view Patrik Brinkmann as a leading figure among right-wing extremists around the world.

Although Brinkmann said at the time that the purchase was “purely private”, in 2009 a statement by the foundation conformed that Brinkmann would relocate to Berlin “by 2010 at the latest” to build a “Europe-wide Internationale of nationalists”.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

The ‘Dishonorable’ German Girls

The Forgotten Persecution of Women in World War II

Concentration camp surviver Maria K. in Ravensbrück: K. and other survivors say the humiliation from other residents of their towns continued for years.

Hitler’s Gestapo arrested thousands of women for admitting they had affairs with foreign forced laborers in Germany, despite many confessions being false and made under duress. Men were often executed and women sent to concentration camps for the crime of “racial defilement.” Some continued to suffer the consequences long after the end of the war.

On Sept. 19, 1941, Maria K. signed the record of her interrogation. In her written statement to the police detective, the 14-year-old girl confessed that she had “shared the bed of Polish national Florian Sp. and also had sexual relations with him.”

The incident allegedly took place on a Saturday evening in July. She had tended the cows during the day, and that evening she and her 18-year-old friend Hedwig invited the two Polish men to join them.

According to her signed statement, they kissed, and then the four of them went to the bedroom, Hedwig with Josef G. and she with Florian. Once in the bedroom, the Polish man removed her panties. They had slex three times that evening and twice in the next few days, once after lunch, behind a bush in a nearby field. This is the account given in her signed confession.

Maria K., who is 82 today, covers her face with her hands when she talks about the “confession” that changed her life forever and led to the death of the two young men. She is ashamed, even though the Gestapo detective concocted the statement and beat her into signing it. This is her story today, and other documents support its veracity.

Gisela Schwarze, a historian from the western German city of Münster, has spent years investigating cases like hers, digging through the files of special courts in cities like Dortmund, Bielefeld and Kiel. She uncovered Maria K.’s story in a local archive. It unfolded in Asbeck, a village with a wartime population of 850 in the western Münsterland region.

‘Racial Defilement’

As a result of her research, Schwarze discovered a group of victims of the Nazi regime that has been neglected to this day. It consists of the women and girls who government officials accused of having sexual relations with foreign forced laborers. Some of the romantic relationships did exist, while others were made up, but the punishment was almost always extreme. The women were sent to concentration camps by the thousands, while the men were usually executed.

“Fellow Germans who engage in sexual relations with male or female civil workers of the Polish nationality, commit other immoral acts or engage in love affairs shall be arrested immediately,” Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, ordered in 1940.

The crime the Nazi lawyers had constructed was called “racial defilement.” At first, it only applied to relationships between Jews and non-Jews, but the racist construct was later expanded to include Slavs.

Prisoners of war and deported civilians were forced to work in factories and in fields, where they came into contact with local residents, many of them women. The men were fighting on the front. But informers prepared to denounce wrongdoers were everywhere — neighbors, co-workers and teachers — contributing to a hellish atmosphere of racial hatred and bigotry.

Maria K., the third youngest of 11 siblings, was orphaned as a child. An older brother took in the siblings, but he was eventually drafted into the German army, and his 27-year-old wife was left to care for the children on her own. To help her out, the landlord sent Florian Sp., a young Polish forced laborer, whom the children quickly came to trust.

‘Necessary Welfare Measures’

The comfortable relationship between the Polish worker and the family was viewed with suspicion in the village. Maria was arrested, and during her interrogation the Gestapo officer hit her in the face and told her to admit that she had had sex with the Pole. The helpless and naïve girl signed the confession, which only marked the beginning of her worst ordeals. In October 1941, the Gestapo in Münster submitted a request to “initiate the necessary welfare measures” against Maria, who was now classified as a “dishonorable German girl.”

She was placed in various reformatories and was eventually taken to a place that the SS had set up to house young female delinquents: the “Uckermark Youth Protection Camp,” a subcamp of the Ravensbrück concentration camp.

She was given a prisoner number, 290, and from then on she no longer had a name. She suffered beatings, whippings, hunger and acts of humiliation. She was released in the fall of 1944 and taken to a preparatory school for children’s nurses near Berlin. At the end of 1945, she managed to return to Asbeck by traveling through occupied Germany. The two Polish forced laborers had already been hung in Asbeck on August 28, 1942. The cause of death listed on their death certificates was “unknown.”

The people who carried most of these executions remained unpunished after the war, and in 1963 the Münster public prosecutor’s office closed its investigations into the cases. But the humiliations continued for Maria K. During church services, villagers berated her as a “Pole’s whore” and “Pole lover.” Many women who had survived the Nazi persecution were treated in much the same way.

A few weeks ago, Maria K. and historian Schwarze traveled to the Uckermark camp together, where a memorial, a stone wrapped in strips of iron, stands today. Maria K. scattered a handful of earth at the site, which she had collected in the forest where the two young Poles were killed.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

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

UK: British Businessmen ‘Tricked’ Into Hungary Jail

Two bedraggled fir trees, still wreathed in tinsel and pathetic decorations, grace the kerb opposite the remand block of Unit 3, Budapest prison, in a dreary suburb of the Hungarian capital.

Each day, relatives and friends of inmates gather there to shout messages, send elaborate hand signals and curse or bless the figures at the distant windows. The inmates include two British businessmen: Michael Turner, 27, from Corfe Castle, Dorset, and Jason McGoldrick, 37, from Plymouth. They stand accused of defrauding 134 customers of a total of £18,000 in a Budapest time-share scheme that went wrong six years ago.

The sums owed to individual creditors are small, but the cumulative effect led Hungarian prosecutors to issue European arrest warrants for the two men last August. On 2 November, they voluntarily flew to Budapest, expecting to appear in court. Instead, they were handcuffed and thrown into jail.


Lawyers for the two say the Hungarian authorities misled Westminster magistrates’ court into granting extradition, by giving the impression that the prosecution case was ready, and that they were going to Hungary to stand trial.

The European arrest warrant (EAW) was conceived in the shocked atmosphere after the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York on 11 September, 2001. In Britain, it came into force in 2004.

Designed to fast-track suspects of serious crime and terrorism to face trial, critics say it is being used instead for comparatively minor cases, bypassing traditional safeguards, and leaving citizens of one country at the mercy of criminal procedures in another. More than 9,000 EAWs were issued Europe-wide in 2007.

“The warrant is an ill-thought-out, ill-considered and inappropriate piece of law, and now needs to be looked at again,” said Lord Dartmouth, a member of the European parliament for south-west England for Ukip. He visited Budapest last week to express his concerns to the authorities.

“I was treated with exemplary courtesy… but that is hardly the point,” he said after a visit to the prison. “They were extradited on the basis that they were going to be prosecuted, and in fact what is happening is that the … authorities are gathering evidence.”

The Hungarian side deny the British complaint that they misused the extradition procedure: “Hungarian law is in complete harmony with the framework proposal of the European commission governing the issuing of the European arrest warrant,” said Gabriella Skoda, a spokeswoman for the metropolitan prosecutor’s office in Budapest. “In Hungary, you can issue a European arrest warrant at the investigation stage, without charges being issued by the prosecution.”

According to article 1, paragraph 1 of the framework decision of the European commission, warrants should be issued “for the purposes of conducting a criminal prosecution or executing a custodial sentence or detention order”.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

UK: Blackburn Rovers Star El Hadji Diouf’s Gold Cadillac

Blackburn Rovers star El Hadji Diouf was out and about in his Cadillac in Manchester yesterday. And in a garish shade of metallic gold, the huge vehicle must have been a competitor for the title of ‘most tasteless car’.

But it has some strong competition — from Diouf’s other vehicles.

He also owns a £420,000 chrome Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.

Diouf’s other haul of cars include a customised white Range Rover, a Lincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade, a car David Beckham also has in his possession.

Judging by his ‘rude boy’ dress sense and his taste for life in the fast lane, perhaps he is vying to be the next presenter on MTV’s Pimp My Ride.

[Return to headlines]

UK: EDL: ‘We’re Here Because We Want Our Country Back’

DOUBLE-DECKER buses started arriving at Wetherspoons in Hanley city centre shortly after noon.

The passengers shouted “England, England, England” and “EDL, EDL, EDL”. Two were arrested within seconds of them getting off the bus.

“I’m English ‘til I die, English ‘til I die,” was the next song, one of many chanted by the protesters throughout the afternoon.

They had come from all over England, and from Wales and Scotland.

Many wore EDL tops with their respective ‘division’ — the name of town where they come from — printed on the back. Dozens had placards, banners and flags.

By 12.30pm, as the buses continued to ferry EDL members from Stoke station, the songs became less about England and more about their feelings towards Muslim extremists.

These included “Muslim bombers off our streets” and “No surrender to the Taliban”.

One banner stated, ‘One Nation, One Law, NO to Sharia Law in the UK’.

Although many had travelled from the other side of the country, the Potteries was well represented.

Adam Daniels, aged 23, from Tunstall, said: “We want equal opportunities. They seem to get housing before us.”

Daniel Lucas, aged 28, from Ball Green, said: “I have come for a peaceful protest. The door should be shut to this country because it is full. We are a minority in our own community.”

Forty-two-year-old John Sanders, an HGV driver who travelled from Bristol, said: “I am here because Islam is taking over the country.”

Former Stoke-on-Trent city councillor Jenny Holdcroft, aged 60, from Biddulph, said: “People have to come out and be strong and stand together because if not, we are going to lose this country.”

At 2pm the EDL, and others who had gathered, made their way from Wetherspoons to Albion Street, opposite Argos. They went right up to the line of police who were on duty to stop them clashing with rival protesters from UAF (Unite Against Fascism) who marched from Shelton to Hanley Town Hall.

There was no way through but at 2.39pm the EDL crowd made a surge to try to break the police line. A few officers had their helmets taken from their heads. These were thrown back through the crowd to cheers.

EDL organisers tried to persuade the mob to come back and listen to speakers. But their loud speaker system was poor and ineffective.

Several people hurled bottles and other missiles towards police. Some men jumped on the top of a bus stop outside Argos while two youths could be seen showing off with a police helmet on the top of the arcade roof. There was another surge towards the officers when they went to arrest those youths.

Shane Davis, a 20-year-old railway worker from Penkhull, said: “It is my first EDL protest. We are not racist, we are against anybody who wants to bomb us.”

Lines of police stopped the mob walking down Percy Street and into the city centre. Thugs tried to tip over a yellow police van, brought in from Warwickshire, and one hooligan jumped on the bonnet and repeatedly kicked the windscreen until it smashed.

Staffordshire University student Kieran Hulme, aged 30, from Newcastle, said: “I am an EDL supporter. I just think it is a shame a minority of people have spoiled it for the rest of us. There are some people intent on trouble.”

At about 4pm the EDL organisers did their best to stop the mob running riot by encouraging them to board their buses back to the train station or make their way home.

“You are going to get us banned. The EDL do not want trouble,” said a spokesman over a loud speaker.

Paul Walker, spokesman for EDL Stoke-on-Trent, said he was upset by the trouble. He said: “EDL members have been antagonised by the police. We are not racist, not bigots, not Nazis, we are shocked how we have been portrayed.”

Andy Rumley, an EDL supporter from Reading, got caught up in the demonstration when trouble flared between the EDL and the police opposite Argos.

Andy, aged 44, who came to Stoke-on-Trent on a coach, was struck on the head with a brick and required hospital treatment.

He said: “This is the first demonstration I’ve been to but I was just sticking up for what I believe in.”

Dan Johnson, area manager for Wetherspoons, said although the atmosphere was lively, there wasn’t any trouble with the EDL supporters.

He said: “We worked closely with the police to make sure the situation was under control. We did not have any choice in the matter. The EDL told us that they would be coming to the pub before the demonstration and we had to deal with that.”

           — Hat tip: ICLA[Return to headlines]


Serbia: Minister, Regular Army Service Will Stop Next Year

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, JANUARY 25 — Serbian Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac has announced that regular army service will be abolished and professionalization of the Serbian Army will be completed next year, reports Tanjug news agency. “I believe that this time next year, the president (of Serbia will be in a position to suspend the regular army service based on a report that we will submit,” Minister Sutanovac said. He underscored that he will together with his team do everything to complete the process of professionalization of the army, adding that the process of hiring professionals requires certain period of time. “We wasted the years 2005, 2006 and a part of 2007. I believe that with an adequate media, government and local self-government support we will finally be able to complete the work. When I say finally, I imply abolishment of the regular army service and army professionalization,” underscored Sutanovac.(ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt Keeps on Working for Palestinians, Mubarak

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, JANUARY 25 — President Mubarak said Egypt would continue its efforts for the sake of the Palestinian problem despite wrangles, controversies and attempts to insult and harm his country. Egypt will maintain its efforts for the sake of the Palestinian cause, the cause of peace, the Arab regional order and inter-Arab relations for real reconciliation that supports the Arab identity and the common interests of the Arab world, he said in an interview to Police Magazine, Mena reports. “However, Egypt will always remain the focus of any action and a top priority, because this is our top priority and our top responsibility,” the president said. Although Egypt never ceased its efforts to bring peace, Israel has been procrastinating and as long as it acts this way, the region will remain unstable, he added. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Two Reformist Newspapers Suspended

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI, JANUARY 25 — Two Libyan newspapers publicly known in the country as “reformist” announced in their Saturday 23 January issue to have been forced to suspend publication. The two newspapers — Oea and Curina, both connected with Seif Al Islam, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son — belong to the publishing group Al Ghad, which noted that it had “been subjected to strong pressure” by the state-owned printing company as well as a number of Libyan leaders. Oea is well-known for publishing inquiries into delicate subjects in Libya, where the press is entirely pro-governmental. Over the past few months, Oea has published news stories on: justice and reform of the justice system, human rights, illegal immigration and corruption connected with human trafficking. Two Oea journalists contacted this morning by ANSA — who spoke on condition of anonymity — said that the newspaper had been suspended “for reasons connected with the printer and the paper”, and ensured that the editorial offices are operational and that all journalists were at work as normal, while waiting to find out when the newspaper would open again. The editor-in-chief of the newspapers, Mahmoud Bussefi, declined to comment, and according to the two journalists, has not yet called a meeting of the editorial staff to explain what had happened. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Non-Muslims Enjoy Religious Freedom in Morocco

Government protects rights of religious minorities within tolerant Morocco’s borders.

Many people wonder what relevance shari’a — Islamic principles — has in the modern world. In Morocco it has influenced national laws, especially the civil code and family law, primarily in a positive sense. Coupled with the country’s tradition of tolerance and openness, this has provided the Moroccan government with a foundation for protecting the rights of religious minorities within its borders.

King Mohammed VI, who ascended to the throne in 1999, made a strategic decision to introduce democratic reforms and restructure the legal system so that Morocco can move toward becoming an inclusive, multi-religious society, one which better adheres to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which is partly dedicated to progress on religious freedom.

This decision resulted in the adoption of an official agenda known as the “Reformation of [the] Religious Field” in 2004 by the King, who then delegated carrying out this reform to the Minister of Endowment and Islamic Affairs, Ahmed Tawfik.

The goal of this new policy was expressed in the King’s address to the nation on July 31, 2009 in which he distinguished between Islam and politics.

An exception is made, however, for his own role as both the head of state and Commander of Faithful, a religious title inherited from the earlier days of Islam and which makes the Moroccan king the eminent representative for both Muslims and religious minorities living in Morocco. Accordingly, Articles 6 and 19 of the Constitution state that the King’s role is to protect the Muslim identity of the Moroccan people, while respecting the rights of religious minorities.

Morocco has a long tradition of religious freedom, evident by its longstanding Jewish community. Today, this community exists alongside a nascent Christian one. Continuing his efforts to affirm the value of a pluralistic society, King Mohammed VI encouraged those of all faiths in Morocco to draw on this tradition at a September 2009 conference called “Seeking Enlightened Islam: the Golden Age of Monotheism”.

Precise information on the religious makeup of Morocco is difficult to find, but according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Muslims represent nearly 99 per cent of the population. Estimates put Christians at under one per cent and Jews at about 0.2 per cent. Most of the Christians are Europeans or Sub-Saharan African students working and living in big cities like Casablanca, Rabat and Marrakech. Analysts estimate that about 5,000 Moroccans have converted to Christianity in the past five years, due to evangelical Christians’ increased proselytising and their outreach to the young and the poor.

However, there is no official Moroccan data on this issue since the government does not gather data on religious affiliation in its census.

In accordance with Article 18 of the UDHR, which states that everyone has the right to publicly practice their religion, Morocco has 10 functional synagogues and 16 churches in which Jews and Christians can publicly practice their faith without any interference. Hindus and Buddhists also have holy shrines in Rabat and Casablanca.

The law protects these religious spaces from violence. Most importantly, laws allowing freedom of expression and assembly, as well as the ability to worship both privately and publicly, are clearly stated in the Constitution and the Penal Code, both of which were written shortly after Morocco’s independence in 1956.

Morocco’s approximately 3,000 Shi’ites generally assemble freely, and have established organisations like the Organisation of Moroccan Shi’ites, Attawassoul Association in the city of al Housseima, Al Inbiaat Association in Tangier, and Al Ghadir Association in Meknes. Nor have they experienced any problems with holding their rituals publicly.

And for many years, Jews have been practicing their faith safely in synagogues and during regular pilgrimages to local Jewish saints’ shrines all over Morocco. The Christian community has established churches, schools, hospitals and orphanages without interference from the government.

The Catholic Archbishop of Rabat, Vincent Landel, says: “Muslims and Christians coexist and live in peace and fraternity.”

Although active proselytising to Muslims is illegal — a law based on Islamic principles — Archbishop Landel notes that Christians in the country can practice their faith freely. Furthermore, interfaith marriage is allowed, though only for Muslim men: Muslim women’s future spouses are expected to convert to Islam before marriage.

The government tries to maintain and promote positive attitudes regarding religious freedom. It is this peaceful co-existence between religious communities that Morocco hopes to perpetuate in order to be a positive example to the rest of the Muslim world.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Water Reserves in Large Dams Increase

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JANUARY 25 — Water reserves in Tunisia’s large dams, as of January 22, totalled 1.474 billion cubic metres (70% of their maximum capacity), compared to 1.233 billion cubic metres on the same date last year, reports the Agricultural, Water Resources, and Fishing Ministry. The ministry also released data on olive production for the 2008-2009 season, reporting about 160,000 tonnes. This included about 142,300 tonnes were exported, and the figure took 5,600 tonnes of bottled olive oil into account. Total olive production was worth 537 million dinars (about 277 million euros). Olive oil exports this year, which began in November, totalled about 19,000 tonnes on January 19. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Military Service for Graduates in P.A. Offices

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JANUARY 25 — The government of Tunisia will submit a law to parliament allowing young diplomats and university graduates to carry out their military service working in various public administration offices. The news came from the Arabic language newspaper Assabah Al Ousboui, specifying that the initiative has the aim of reducing unemployment which hovers at around 13-14% of the workforce. For a period that varies from 2 to 3 years, young workers will be able to work in public offices according to their specialisation, receiving a monthly salary and having access to professional experience. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Hugo Chavez May Join Gaza Flotilla

( Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez may join one of the next “humanitarian” flotilla headed for Gaza. Lebanese newspaper As-Safir reported Monday that the aid convoy “Lifeline 4” will leave for Gaza after the British parliamentary elections in May, and will have Chavez on deck, along with well known anti-apartheid activists from South Africa.

The newspaper quotes Kevin Ovenden, an aide to anti-Israel MP George Galloway, as saying that in two months’ time, even before the next Lifeline convoy sets off, several other aid ships will leave Mediterranean ports for Gaza.

The ships will set off for Gaza in March, in a convoy initiated by a Hamas terror activist who received political asylum in Britain. The man, Muhammad Sualha, stated in a pro-Hizbullah website that the convoy will include six or seven ships that will depart from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus simultaneously.

“This time we want a direct confrontation with the Zionist enemy,” he explained. Sualha was a propaganda liaison for Hamas in Judea, Samaria and Gaza in the 90s.

The Lifeline 3 convoy reached Gaza January 6 after long delays, organized violence and clashes with Egyptian security forces. A Hamas-sponsored riot in support of the convoy culminated in the fatal shooting of an Egyptian border guard by a Hamas sniper. Galloway and other members of the convoy were deported from Egypt and the Egyptian government declared that the British MP was no longer welcome in the country. No similar convoys would be allowed to pass through Egypt in the future, Egypt said.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Israel — Palestine: Netanyahu Claims Parts of the West Bank “For Eternity”

The visit of Prime Minister to Maleeh Adumim and Gush Etzion a few hours from the meeting with U.S. special envoy for the Middle East. The non-freezing of settlements is an obstacle to dialogue with the Palestinians. Under international law Israel has no right to take possession of space in the Occupied Territories.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) — In a visit to two Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that they will be part of Israel “for eternity”. His words have angered the Palestinians, endangering the United States’ attempts to find ways to resume dialogue between the two peoples.

Netanyahu went to visit two settlements of Maaleh Adumim and Gush Etzion yesterday, east and south of Jerusalem. Planting a tree in the first settlement — where there are 30 thousand Israelis — he said: “Our message is clear: We are planting here, we will stay here, we will build here. This place will be an inseparable part of Israel for eternity”.

The statements by the premier fall within hours of the conclusion of the visit of George Mitchell, U.S. special envoy for the Middle East, who is trying to reopen the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The obstacle to the resumption of dialogue lies in the fact that Israel must live up to previous commitments to freeze Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories.

Nabil Abu Rdeneh, linked to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has condemned the words of Netanyahu as “an unacceptable act that destroys all the efforts exerted by Senator Mitchell to bring the parties to the negotiating table.”

Mitchell, who last week was in Israel, is now in Jordan. In Amman, he reaffirmed that the purpose of the United States is to build a Palestinian state living in peace next to Israel.

Maaleh Adumim is one of the most important Jewish settlements in territories occupied by Israel in 1967. According to international law, an occupying power can not seize land from the occupied country. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, captured during the Six Day War of ‘67, now live almost 500 thousand settlers: 280 thousand in the West Bank and 190 thousand in the eastern part of Jerusalem. According to data from the Israeli organization Peace Now, since 2001 the Israeli population in the West Bank grew by 5-6%.

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

The Obama Administration Learns the Basic Lesson on the Israel-Palestinian Issue

by Barry Rubin

In contrast to its refusal to change course on Iran, the Obama administration has learned something about Israel-Palestinian peacemaking, conclusions clearly expressed in the government’s new talking points.

First, President Barack Obama stated recently that his administration had overestimated its ability to get the two sides into meaningful peace talks. Blaming both parties equally, Obama said the problem is that neither Israel nor the Palestinians were ready to take the bold steps necessary to succeed.

This is a recognition of reality and about the best that could be expected. Of course, it maintains a determined evenhandedness, failing to hint at the easily demonstrable fact that it was the Palestinians who were not interested in making any compromises, even refusing to come to the table at all. But evenhandedness is welcome from an administration that originally seemed set to become the most anti-Israel presidency in history.

The new perspective, at least its public version, does not note the administration’s own responsibility in raising Palestinian expectations that Washington would abandon Israel and give them everything they wanted. Two key points here were the administration’s early bashing of Israel combined with the silly obsession about freezing construction on settlements. The Obama administration also has repeatedly told the Palestinians that they “deserve” a state with no indication that they would have to earn it.

But as I said, this is the best to be expected.

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

U.S., Israel Misleading Public on Status of Talks?

Negotiations carve up Jewish state, relinquish strategic territories

Are the Israeli and U.S. governments misleading the public about the status of talks aimed at creating a Palestinian state?

The Israelis and Palestinians have political reasons for minimizing any breakthroughs in confidential talks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintains a government coalition with nationalist parties that may bolt if they become aware of negotiations aimed at relinquishing strategic territory. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas could lose face if he is seen talking to Israel before the Jewish state gives in to his demand to halt all Jewish construction in eastern sections of Jerusalem in line with a similar 10-month freeze imposed by Netanyahu in the West Bank.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Celebrated Iraq War Veteran’s View of the Gaza Conflict

A year ago the Israeli army was readying itself to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, after a three-week campaign which led to accusations of war crimes. The Israelis said they launched their assault because they could no longer tolerate the indiscriminate rocket attacks which were being launched on Israel from inside Gaza. One year on, celebrated Gulf War veteran Colonel Tim Collins travelled to Gaza for a soldier’s view of the conflict.

Broadcast on Tuesday 19 January 2010.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Council of Europe: Assembly Elects 1st Turkish President

(ANSAmed) — STRASBOURG — Mevlut Cavusoglu was elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly at the Council of Europe today. He is the first Turkish member to take the position since Turkey became a member of the pan-European organisation in 1949. “I am the first President of the Parliamentary Assembly born east of Vienna. For the last 60 years the Presidents have come from just ten countries,” Cavusoglu said, during his first meeting with the press as new President of the Assembly. Mevlut Cavusoglu says that his presidency “will help Turkey to reach European standards and gain access to the European Union”. In this matter Cavusoglu stressed that “Turkey has done a lot, but not all that it needs to, but also pointed out that the European Union should encourage the process and not set up barriers”. Asked what advice he would give Ankara to facilitate the membership procedure for the EU, Cavusoglu replied that the current Constitution is one of the obstacles. Born in Alanya on February 5 1968, Cavusoglu studied in America and England. In 2001 he was one of the founders of the party of Erdogan, and has been a member of the Turkish delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly at the Council of Europe since 2003. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Ihsanoglu Calls for the Establishment of the OIC Peace and Security Council

The Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, called the Member States to establish a department for peace and security within the OIC General Secretariat, an OIC Peace and Security Council and to activate the Islamic Court of Justice for the resolution of conflicts among Islamic countries.

He also called for the setting up of a collective mechanism with the objective of protecting and maintaining Member States’ collective peace.

Ihsanoglu expressed his regret that the Muslim world’s region is most besieged by conflict and instability. He stated that despite such a situation, there still is no collective outfit dedicated to the resolution of conflicts or the preservation of security and stability in the Muslim world, which has allowed others from outside the region to intervene to fill that gap according to their self-interests. He insisted, at the same time, on the need to set right for the Islamic world to take things in hand and be the main responsible for the resolution of its conflicts and the preservation of its security and stability.

Ihsanoglu said that the OIC General Secretariat, inspired by the stipulations of the OIC Charter and the Ten-Year Programme of Action, has made a number of important preemptive initiatives aimed at ensuring reconciliation and resolving and managing conflicts among OIC Member States. He also expressed his conviction that conflict prevention and peace-building require proper handling and management of the roots of the conflicts, not simply offering temporary tranquilizers which do not hold sway in the face of persistent differences. In this regard, he stated that OIC’s approach has been rooted in the in-depth management of internal conflicts and the resolution of these underpinning causes which manifest themselves in different forms such as political grievances, social injustice, economic lag and absence of good governance.

Such were the remarks of the Secretary General in his address to the Meeting of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on the future role of the OIC in the maintenance of security, peace-keeping and conflict resolution in the Member States, held at the OIC headquarters in Jeddah on 23-24 January 2010.

In the same vein, the Secretary General commended the contribution of the OIC General Secretariat to the resolution of conflicts through different international contact groups on Somalia, Darfur and the disruptions witnessed in Guinea. He also lauded OIC’s effective support to the recently set up UN Peace-Building Committee and the symbolic financial contribution it made in expression of its real interest in resolving conflicts and establishing peace and as a consolidation of partnership and cooperation in this area with the United Nations, the African Union and the League of Arab States.

Ihsanoglu added that the OIC General Secretariat has been, and still is, an active mediator in various conflicts such as in Palestine and Iraq, the issue of Sothern Philippines, Thailand, and Jammu and Kashmir, having designated special representatives for the Secretary General to follow up these conflicts at close quarters and in an effective and direct manner. He emphasized that OIC’s interest in the subject of collective peace and security is not a matter of mere intellectual luxury. It is rather deeply anchored in the social and political reality in Islamic world states, calling for the use of all possible means to firmly manage conflicts and crises and to preserve peace and security.

The Secretary General expressed his satisfaction for the valuable experience acquired by many Member States in the area of peace preservation and conflict resolution as a result of their participation in the UN peace-keeping forces. Their experience here will be of great benefit if the Member States manage to set up peace-keeping forces to operate under the banner of the OIC. In this context, the Secretary General announced that the UN Department of Political Affairs has agreed with the OIC General Secretariat to explore ways and means to help build up the capacity of the mediation units in both institutions in the area of preventive diplomacy and mediation.

Ihsanoglu concluded his speech by calling for the organization of an Explorative Forum to be comprised of international authoritative experts and Muslim learned figures to examine the OIC’s prospective role in the area of peace and security preservation, and invited the delegates of the Member States to offer insights in this sphere in preparation for a comprehensive report to be submitted to the Council of Foreign Ministers.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Iraq — Iran: Shadow of Tehran and Washington Hangs Over Iraqi Elections

The elections held on 7 March. Al-Maliki approved the exclusion of 511 candidates linked to the Ba’ath Party. Among those excluded are Sunni, Shiite moderates and members of non-confessional parties. Tension between President Talabani (a Kurd) and Premier (Shia).

Baghdad (AsiaNews) — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s visit last weekend to Baghdad had only one goal to calm the troubled waters of Iraqi politics ahead of general elections on March 7. Meanwhile Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (Shia) and President Jalal Talabani (Kurdish) are engaged in a tug of war over the exclusion of 511 candidates for alleged ties to Saddam’s Ba’ath party.

Talabani has asked the Supreme Court to rule on the legality of the Commission of Justice and accountability, the department that decided the exclusion of hundreds of candidates from the polls. The measure was then ratified by the Electoral Commission and supported by the premier. Talabani it seems acted under pressure from Washington, worried that the exclusion of other secular Shiites and Sunnis from the vote may rekindle violence between the two ethnic groups in a few months after the planned withdrawal of US troops. According to the Arab press, moreover, the United States would have asked Baghdad to delay the implementation of measures of de-Baathification until after the election. For his part, Maliki has said that he will not tolerate outside interference in the elections.

And if some see Washington moving the Iraqi president’s hand, others see Tehran’s behind the verdict the director of the Commission of Justice and accountability. He is none other than the chief of the old Supreme Commission for De-Baathification, Ahmed Chalabi: creator of the de-ba’atification and former ally of the Pentagon, played a key role in the invasion in Iraq, but today is considered an agent in the pay of Iran. The Executive Director, however, is Ali Faisal al-Lami: he spent a year in U.S. custody, because believed involved in an attack on government buildings in Sadr City that killed two Americans. Both are presenting themselves for election on 7 March with the Iraqi National Alliance, which groups the majority of Shiite forces. The Commission ensures that the names on the backlist are people who have been part of the political or military regime of Saddam Hussein. Most penalized candidates are Arab Sunnis, whose sense of exclusion is growing day by day, and those of secular and nationalist figures such as the members of the alliance of former premier Iyad Allawi. Biden’s visit over the weekend in Baghdad, the third since the withdrawal of U.S. troops from cities in June, had as its aim the search for a compromise between the parties. For now, Obama’s deputy said he was confident that Iraqis will be able to “overcome these differences in a political process.” He assured that Washington will not interfere in the electoral process, but expressed concern that the clash over the blacklist of candidates may have negative repercussions on the credibility of the general election. Already before the Biden’s visit, rumors had spread that U.S. officials have warned the Iraqi government of the possibility that the United States and international community will not recognize the outcome of the March elections, if the exclusion of 511 candidates is confirmed.

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

Iraq: Saddam’s Cousin ‘Chemical Ali’ Executed

Baghdad, 25 Jan. (AKI) — Ali Hassan al-Majid, a former Iraqi official known as Chemical Ali, has been executed by hanging, the government announced on Monday. A cousin of late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, he earned his nickname for ordering the use of poison gas against the Kurds.

“Today, justice was meted out to the criminal, Chemical Ali. The martyrs of the mass graves can rest in peace at last,” Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh, told Adnkronos International (AKI).

An enforcer in Saddam’s government, Al-Majidwas this month was sentenced to death for ordering the poison gas gas attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja, northern Iraq in 1988. The attack killed 5,000 Kurds, mostly women and children.

He had earlier received three death sentences for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Last March, he was sentenced to death, along with others, for the 1999 killings of Shia Muslims in the Sadr City district of Baghdad.

In December 2008 he also received a death sentence for his role in crushing a Shia revolt after the 1991 Gulf War.

Majid was in June 2007 sentenced to hang for his role in a military campaign against ethnic Kurds, codenamed Anfal, which lasted from February to August of 1988.

News of Al-Majid’s hanging came shortly after three coordinated suicide car bombs struck in central Baghdad, killing over 30 people and injuring over 70. It was not immediately clear whether the attacks were linked to al-Majid’s execution.

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

U.N. Seeks to Drop Some Taliban From Terror List


KABUL, Afghanistan — The leader of the United Nations mission here called on Afghan officials to seek the removal of at least some senior Taliban leaders from the United Nations’ list of terrorists, as a first step toward opening direct negotiations with the insurgent group.

In an interview, Kai Eide, the United Nations special representative, also implored the American military to speed its review of the roughly 750 detainees in its military prisons here — another principal grievance of Taliban leaders. Until recently, the Americans were holding those prisoners at a makeshift detention center at Bagram Air Base and refusing to release their names.

Together, Mr. Eide said he hoped that the two steps would eventually open the way to face-to-face talks between Afghan officials and Taliban leaders, many of whom are hiding in Pakistan. The two sides have been at an impasse for years over almost every fundamental issue, including the issue of talking itself.

“If you want relevant results, then you have to talk to the relevant person in authority,” Mr. Eide said. “I think the time has come to do it.”

In recent days, Afghan and American officials have signaled their willingness to take some steps that might ultimately lead to direct negotiations, including striking the names of some Taliban leaders from the terrorist list, as Mr. Eide is suggesting.

The remarks by Mr. Eide were the latest in a series of Afghan and Western efforts to engage the Taliban movement with diplomatic and political means, even as a new American-led military effort was under way here.

American, Afghan and NATO leaders are also preparing to start an ambitious program to persuade rank-and-file Taliban fighters to give up in exchange for schooling and jobs. That plan, expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, will be the focus of an international conference this week in London.

The plan aims at the bottom of the Taliban hierarchy — the foot soldiers who are widely perceived as mostly poor, illiterate, and susceptible to promises of money and jobs. In 2007 and 2008, a similar effort unfolded in Iraq, where some 30,000 members of the country’s Sunni minority — many of them former insurgents — were put on the American payroll. Partly as a result, violence there plummeted.

Mr. Eide, who will leave his post in March, said that such efforts at reintegration would be useful but not enough. While some rank-and-file Taliban soldiers might be fighting for economic reasons, he said, the motives of most were more complex. The Taliban’s leaders exert more control over the foot soldiers than they are given credit for, he said.

“I don’t believe it’s as simple as saying that these are people who are unemployed, and if we find them employment they will go our way,” Mr. Eide said. “Reintegration by itself is not enough.”

In the past, talks between the Afghan government and the insurgents have foundered on a few core issues. Afghan leaders have demanded that the Taliban forswear violence and their association with Al Qaeda before talks can begin. For their part, the Taliban have demanded that the Americans and other foreign forces leave the country first.

But some Taliban leaders have indicated that they might be willing to engage in some sort of discussions if their names were stricken from the United Nations’ so-called “black list.” The list contains the names of 144 Taliban leaders, including Mullah Mohammad Omar, the movement’s leader, as well as 257 from Al Qaeda. Under United Nations Resolution 1267, governments are obliged to freeze the bank accounts of those on the list and to prevent them from traveling.

Some Taliban leaders say the black list prevents them from entering into negotiations — if they show their face, they say, they would be arrested.

“This would allow the Taliban to appear in public,” said Arsalan Rahmani, a former deputy minister with the Taliban who now lives in the Afghan capital, Kabul. “It would allow the possibility of starting negotiations in a third country.”

Mr. Eide said he did not believe that senior Taliban leaders like Mullah Omar should be removed from the list. It was Mullah Omar, after all, who provided sanctuary to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, which launched the Sept. 11 attacks.

But some second-tier Taliban should be taken from the list, he said. Those leaders are not necessarily associated with terrorist acts but might be able to speak for the movement, he said, and might be willing to reciprocate a good-will gesture.

The request to strike any Taliban names from the United Nations list would have to made by the Afghan government. In the past, Afghan officials have indicated that they might be willing to take some names off — even that of Mullah Omar. But they have kept details and their ultimate intentions under wraps.

Last week, the American envoy to the region signaled some willingness to allow the names of some Taliban to be taken off the list as long as they are not senior commanders responsible for atrocities or associated with Al Qaeda.

“A lot of the names don’t mean much to me,” Richard C. Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, said last week in Kabul. “Some of the people on the list are dead, some shouldn’t be on the list and some are among the most dangerous people in the world.

“I would be all in favor of looking at the list on a case-by-case basis to see if there are people on the list who are on the list by mistake and should be removed, or in fact are dead,” he said.

Mr. Holbrooke showed no willingness to ease up on the leaders of the insurgency, including Mullah Omar and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of the Islamic Party, a group fighting the government and the Americans. “I can’t imagine what would justify such an action at this time,” he said, “and I don’t know anyone who is suggesting that.”

As for the Taliban prisoners, American officials say that they imposed a more rigorous review process several months ago, and that they are examining the case of each detainee. This month, after years of keeping the names of detainees secret, the American military released the names of 645 detainees being held in the main detention center outside of Kabul.

Since September, when the new review process was imposed, the Americans have reviewed the cases of 576 detainees, and 66 of those have been released, Col. Stephen Clutter, a United States military spokesman, said. A review of all 645 detainees will be completed by the end of March, he added. Mr. Eide said he hoped it would go further.

“There needs to be a more comprehensive review of the list that has now been published,” Mr. Eide said.

Still, for all of that, it wasn’t clear Sunday just how the Taliban would respond — or if it would at all.

“I don’t know what they will do,” Mr. Rahmani said.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Yemen Rebel Offers to Leave Saudi Arabia

The leader of the Houthi rebels in northern Yemen has offered to withdraw their remaining fighters from neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

The rebels crossed the border and took control of a mountainous region in November last year.

Earlier in January, the Saudi military said they had driven the rebels across the border, but the rebels denied this.

Rebel leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, has now said they will withdraw to prevent further civilian casualties.

Appearing in an audio message posted to the Houthi rebels’ website, Mr Houthi called the move “an initiative”.

“If the Saudi regime maintains its aggression after this initiative, it would be showing that its intention is not to defend its territory, but to invade our borders,” he said.

He threatened “open war” on “many fronts” if the Saudis did not allow the Houthis to return to Yemen.

Minority sect

Last week Mr Houthi appeared in a video apparently showing him unharmed after Yemeni officials claimed he had been killed.

Houthi forces entered Saudi Arabia in November after making several accusations that the government in Riyadh was aiding the Yemeni government in their campaign against the rebels.

Fighting between members of the minority Shia Zaidi sect and the state has occurred sporadically since 2004.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Berlin Reluctant to Follow American Lead on Afghanistan

The German government hopes to discuss a new approach to Afghanistan at Thursday’s conference in London. But the Americans see the strategy as already fixed. If Berlin adopts the new counterinsurgency methods, more German troops are likely to die — making the operation even more unpopular back home. By SPIEGEL Staff

Important issues were being discussed on that afternoon in Abu Dhabi, including democracy in Afghanistan, security and reconstruction. But while the delegates in the conference room were discussing the fate of a nation, Richard Holbrooke was taking a nap. Holbrooke didn’t emerge from his room until the afternoon’s discussion was over. Feeling refreshed after his sleep, he was ready to discuss important issues once again.

Holbrooke, the US government’s special envoy for Afghanistan, was in Abu Dhabi with representatives of 40 other countries to prepare for the major Afghanistan conference that will take place in London this Thursday. The German government saw Abu Dhabi as an important step on the road to London. Holbrooke apparently felt that his nap was more important.

At the conference, the Germans plan to discuss the new US strategy for the mission in Afghanistan. Holbrooke, however, takes a different view of the matter. The strategy for Afghanistan is already set, he said in Abu Dhabi, explaining that the purpose of the London meeting is to “implement” it.

Holbrooke’s behavior creates the impression that this week is almost a complete waste of time for the Germans. The center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) will decide on its Afghanistan strategy on Monday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrives in Berlin on Tuesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel will issue an official statement on Afghanistan on Wednesday, and the conference in London takes place on Thursday. This is a lot of effort for a country that will be expected to simply accept something that has already been decided.


In recent months, the Germans have regarded the London conference as a key milestone in terms of the country’s Afghanistan policy. They believed that the purpose of the conference was to decide on a future strategy for the country. But now the German government threatens to be relegated to a position similar to the one it held at the United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen, where it was expected to participate in the talks but exerted little influence on the major issues. German politicians had been excited about the idea that their country could wield influence as a “medium-sized power,” but the concept seems absurd now. Just as China shaped the course of the climate summit, so America dominates the debate on Afghanistan.

The weeks leading up to the London conference were also deeply humiliating for the Germans, and not just because of the arrogance of someone like Richard Holbrooke. The Americans decided to deploy an initial contingent of 2,500 soldiers to northern Afghanistan, and perhaps to even double that number in the future. It was a vote of no confidence in the Germans, who are responsible for the north, and the message was clear: You can’t get it done, so move aside and let us take over.

“We have an enemy that wants to kill us,” Mohammed Omar, the governor of Kunduz province, recently told the German news agency DPA, referring to the Taliban. He added, in a reference to the Germans and Americans respectively, “our friends observe that and don’t rescue us. Now we have to ask our other friends to rescue us.”

American General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of the NATO-led troops in Afghanistan, told the German tabloid Bild last week that the insurgents are trying to create a situation that is “dangerous enough that the security forces stay in their bases, stay in their armored vehicles and don’t interact with the people.” This is a precise description of the behavior of the German military, the Bundeswehr, in the Kunduz region, and it makes the soldiers, in McChrystal’s words, “irrelevant.”

A Cowardly Nation

Germany has acquired the reputation of a discredited nation, a nation incapable of waging war, a cowardly nation. It is an accusation that has been around for a long time. It was apparent when the Germans refused to take part in the first and second Iraq wars. It was apparent when the Germans requested a region that was guaranteed to be safe during the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Somalia. And it was apparent when the Germans took responsibility for what was then the relatively safe northern part of Afghanistan. Now the north is no longer safe, and the Germans are seen as too cowardly to take on the Taliban.

It is largely an unfair accusation. After the horrors of World War II, the Germans had to take an extremely cautious approach to the subject of war. For the Germans, unlike their current allies, military traditions are severely tainted by historical events. But now, almost 65 years after the end of the war, Germans are grappling with the question of how and when a democratic Germany should wage war.

Until now, the Germans had expected Afghanistan to be a clean mission in support of a worthy cause, with no bloodshed involved. Germany can now forget about that idea, after Colonel Georg Klein used fabricated information to order an air strike on two tanker trucks which killed up to 142 people, including civilians, on Sept. 4, 2009. It is no longer possible to separate the worthy cause from bloodshed.

‘Eat, Drink and Die with the Afghans’

The strategy with which the Americans now hope to bring peace to Afghanistan after 30 years of war is called COIN, an acronym for counterinsurgency. Troops housed in barracks on the outskirts of Kabul are learning what it takes to implement the new strategy. Between the ruins of Taj Beg Palace and the crumbling remains of Darul Aman Palace, once built to house the country’s parliament, the Americans have established a small base for their COIN Academy.

“We have to eat, drink and die with the Afghans,” says a colonel with a clipped military haircut, a US Army trainer. In his classes, soldiers learn that their primary goal is to protect the civilian population.

To reinforce this message, US Marines, unaccompanied by tanks and not wearing bulletproof vests, march through contested areas together with Afghan soldiers, living side-by-side with the Afghans in local villages and sometimes spending the night in goat stalls.

The Bundeswehr has lost this contact with the local population in the past few years. After several attacks in 2006, then-Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung ordered that German soldiers could only leave their bases in armored vehicles. Since then, German commanders have made sure that when their soldiers went on patrol, it would only be in large convoys. In their heavy flak jackets, helmets and protective goggles, the Germans look more like menacing creatures from Mars than friendly visitors ready to drink tea with the locals. This image is precisely what McChrystal meant with his critical remarks…

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

India: Over 300 Leading Indian Industrialists Bring Christian Values to Economy

First international meeting of Christian professionals and industrials ends today in Mumbai. The goal to make the Christian community in India leaders of an economic development attentive to human needs. In the footsteps of the last encyclical of the pope.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — More than 300 business people attended the first international meeting of Christian industrialists and professionals that concludes today in Mumbai. The two day meeting was organized by the International Christian Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) and Dimension, a group of Christian professionals and managers active in coordinating the various business realities of the Christian community in India.

“A new beginning is leading our community to face the challenges of today and grow as an economic reality —says Freddie Mendonca co-founder of Dimension — we Christians live a sheltered life protected by the Church, schools and parishes. We work hard and we have an education, but we are not prepared to do business and build relationships”. “Dimension — he adds — has created a platform between the various Christian entrepreneurs to guide them to act according to human values, but also to make them aware of their Christian identity.”

According to Mendonca, the Christian community has a duty to act within the Indian economy to bring the principles of Christianity to the business world. “Christ was not against wealth and the business world — he says — but He did not admit an immoral or unethical use of money.” He urges all employers to use the teachings of Caritas in Veritate by Benedict XVI as a guide to operate in a moral and ethical way in today’s world devoid of values.

The meeting was also attended by Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai. “Today — said the cardinal — relationships are very important. The press, internet and television tell us that we need to be in contact with others to grow and participate in what is happening in the world … I pray that we can help with your work in building the kingdom of God. “

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

Indonesia: President Launches Third Album

Jakarta, 25 Jan. (AKI/Jakarta Post) — Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has released his third album with nine songs which he composed himself. Entitled, ‘Kuyakin Sampai di Sana’ , ( I’m Sure I Will Arrive There), the album was released after two previous albums produced by the president in the past three years.

Like his previous albums, Yudhoyono collaborates with popular local musicians who present songs on the latest album, which was released on Sunday ..

Popular musicians who collaborated with the president include the top male artist at the 2009 MTV Indonesia Music Awards, Vidi Aldiano, and the winner of Indonesian Idol’s first season, Joy Tobing.

“In my struggle to serve the country, sometimes during my leisure time, I express my feelings in the form of arts,” the president said in a preface on the album.

“It is through these works of arts I hope to convey my inner feelings to the wider communities, to the children of Indonesia.”

Yudhoyono said that the album contained songs from various genres, and that the lyrics represented his beliefs and commitment to reaching the ideals.

“These songs were inspired by a belief that no one can change the destiny of a nation but the children of the nation itself,” he said.

The president, a former army general, also writes poetry.

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

Pakistan: Lahore: 12-Year-Old Christian Domestic Worker Killed by Muslim Employer

The girl worked in the household of a rich local lawyer, where she was subjected to physical, psychological and sexual abuse. Her death has outraged the Christian community, which is calling for justice. A human rights activist says 99 per cent of female Christian domestics work for Muslims and are often subject to violence and abuse.

Lahore (AsiaNews/Agencies) — A 12-year-old Christian girl died on Friday as a result of physical violence inflicted by her employer, a rich and powerful Muslim lawyer in Lahore. The case has led to protests by the Christian community, which demonstrated before the provincial assembly of Punjab in Lahore. The authorities are trying to appease people and have pledged that justice shall be done. Pakistani President Zardari has also promised to pay compensation to the family.

A Protestant NGO, Sharing Life Ministry Life (SLMP), reported the case of Shazia Bashir, 12, who was employed for the past eight months as a domestic worker in the household of Chaudhry Muhammad Naeem, a lawyer and former president of the Lahore Bar Association.

Local Christians say that during that period the girl was the victim of constant harassment, and that she was raped and tortured before she was killed.

SLMP chief coordinator Sohail Johnson said the girl worked under constant stress and experienced emotional and psychological trauma. She was also denied the agreed salary (Rs 1,000 or about US$ 12 per month).

Shazia “would get insults whenever she raised the subject of payment,” the Christian activist said.

Three days before her death, her employer tortured her, he noted. Afterwards, he tried to have her treated at his home without informing the parents of her health situation. In the end, the medical care she did get proved inadequate and she had to go to Lahore’s Meo Hospital.

“Shazia’s parents were not allowed to meet her. They did not know what she was going through,” said Razia Bibi, the girl’s 44-year-old uncle.

Shazia died last Friday from her injuries.

Sohail Johnson said that her body showed signs of torture with at least 12 marks of injury. “Shazia was admitted to the hospital with a broken jaw,” he said.

Initially, Chaudhry Muhammad Naeem’s family tried to pay off Shazia’s parents with Rs 20,000 (US$ 250) to stop them from filing a case against them. Eventually they fled, but were arrested yesterday under pressure from the federal government.

On Saturday, Christians demonstrated in front of the Punjab Provincial Assembly.

The Lahore Bar Association has instead sided with the powerful Muslim lawyer.

Local Christians have expressed scepticism about the impartiality and efficacy of the police investigation; however, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said that outside interference would not be tolerated and that justice would be done.

Sohail Johnson (pictured with the girl’s body) said that 99 per cent of Christian girls from poor families are hired by wealthy Muslims, and are often physically, psychologically and sexually abused.

“In some cases, their employers marry them off to Muslim servants, and forcibly convert them to Islam,” he said.

“These vulnerable Christian girls do not have any state protection. We urge the government to ensure protection of these disadvantaged girls,” the SLMP coordinator said.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has promised Rs 500,000 (US$ 6,000) in compensation to the girl’s family and urged the Punjab government to provide financial help as well. The money is expected to cover the cost of Shazia Bashir’s funeral, which is scheduled for today in Lahore.

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

UN Climate Chief Rajendra Pachauri ‘Got Grants Through Bogus Claims’

The chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has used bogus claims that Himalayan glaciers were melting to win grants worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Rajendra Pachauri’s Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), based in New Delhi, was awarded up to £310,000 by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the lion’s share of a £2.5m EU grant funded by European taxpayers.

It means that EU taxpayers are funding research into a scientific claim about glaciers that any ice researcher should immediately recognise as bogus. The revelation comes just a week after The Sunday Times highlighted serious scientific flaws in the IPCC’s 2007 benchmark report on the likely impacts of global warming.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Far East

Heir to the Dear Leader Appears From the Shadows

Through astrology, hints and allusions in the state media, North Koreans are being softened up to accept Kim Jong-il’s successor — his third son.

[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Sudan Shoe-Thrower ‘Targets President Omar Al-Bashir’

A man has thrown a shoe at Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during a public meeting, according to witnesses.

He missed his intended target, but witnesses said he was immediately arrested by security staff in Khartoum.

The president’s office denied the shoe incident but said officers detained a man trying to give a note to Mr Bashir.

Throwing shoes is hugely insulting in Arab culture — former US President George W Bush had shoes hurled at him during a visit to Iraq in 2008.

No reason was given for the reported attack on Mr Bashir, who is wanted on an international arrest warrant for alleged war crimes committed during in Sudan’s Darfur region.

He is seeking re-election in April — the country’s first multi-party polls since 1986. Tensions are rising ahead of the election, especially.

One eye-witness told Reuters news agency: “The man was close to the podium and threw the shoe but it didn’t reach him.”

Witnesses told the agency the man was smartly dressed, aged in his 40s or 50s and said nothing during the incident.

“He seemed calm, even after he was arrested,” said another witness.

Presidential spokesman Emad Sidahmed told Reuters the man “just wanted to give the president a note … but was intercepted by the security”.

The witnesses said they had been attending a conference on strategic planning in Khartoum’s Friendship Hall.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Haiti: Italian Civil Protection Chief Attacks US Aid Effort

Port-au-Prince, 25 Jan.(AKI) — The head of Italy’s civil protection agency, Guido Bertolaso, has launched a scathing attack on the US emergency aid efforts in Haiti. Guido Bertolaso said rescue efforts were disorganised and there was more emphasis on military mobilisation than on emergency relief.

“They confuse the management of an emergency with military intervention,” he told Italian state television Rai Tre on Sunday during a visit to the quake-devastated country.

The Haitian government said more than 111,000 people were killed in 12 January quake, which registered 7.0 in magnitude, but there are fears the number of victims could be even higher.

Hundreds of thousands have been left homeless by the worst earthquake to strike the island in 200 years.

The US military led efforts to transport food and other supplies to victims immediately after the earthquake.

American soldiers were among the first to be deployed in the country and were working with international aid agencies to coordinate the emergency response.

“It’s a vanity fair, a parade of national flags,” Bertolaso said. “Instead of helping those caught under the rubble and searching for survivors with dogs, those who arrive first put up a poster with the name of their organisation and pose in front of the TV cameras.”

Members of the US military have refitted the Port-au-Prince airport while American army and navy divers were repairing facilities in the port of the capital late last week.

As rescue teams began winding down their search for survivors at the weekend, a young man was pulled alive from the ruins of a hotel after 11 days under the rubble.

In April 2009 Bertolaso led rescue efforts in the central Italy city of L’Aquila and surrounding areas when a 6.3 magnitude earthquake devastated the region, killing 300 people and leaving thousands of others homeless.

International search teams in Haiti have rescued at least 132 people since the quake struck, the United Nations said at the weekend.

More than 600,000 people have also been left homeless in and around the capital of Port-au-Prince, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

A US telethon hosted by Hollywood actor George Clooney entitled “Hope for Haiti Now” has so far raised more than 57 million dollars in aid. The telethon aired live in around 60 countries.

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

US Supreme Court Rules in Favour of Noriega Extradition

The US Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from Panama’s ex-leader Manuel Noriega against his extradition to France on money laundering charges.

Noriega wanted to be sent back to his country after completing a drug sentence at a jail in Florida.

In April, a US court ruled the former dictator could be extradited to France.

The US convicted Noriega of laundering illicit drugs money in 1990 and he was sentenced to 30 years, later reduced to 17 years for good behaviour.

France convicted him in his absence in 1999 for laundering money through French banks, though it says he will be granted a new trial.

His lawyers had argued international law required he be returned to Panama.

As a former prisoner of war following the US invasion of Panama in 1989, they said, the Geneva Conventions precluded his extradition to a third country.

He also faces a 20-year sentence at home imposed by a Panamanian court in his absence for ordering the murder in 1985 of Hugo Spadafora, a prominent opponent.

Noriega, who is in his 70s, led Panama in the mid- to late 1980s and was a key American ally in the region before being captured by invading US forces.

He has remained in US custody ever since the completion of his 17-year US prison term, pending his appeal against extradition.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]


France: 1 Out of 3 Marriages is Mixed, Mass Phenomenon

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JANUARY 21 — In France 27% of marriages is mixed: in 2009 the Ministry of Immigration reported 84,000 such marriages. Of these 35,500 were celebrated in France and 48,500 abroad, for example those of French citizens of foreign origin who returned to the country of their parents to get married. France Prioux of INED, the French institute of demographic research, explained that This is a mass phenomenon, but we must not forget that an increasing number of French are choosing civil unions instead of marriage. It is instead natural for foreigners to prefer getting married abroad to be able to live in France with their partner and therefore are more represented in official unions”. The increase of mixed marriages in France still remains a fact, mostly favoured by unions made abroad and by the increase of people who travel and move about for work or pleasure. According to INED these unions often mix tradition with immigration strategy. Only 25% of mixed marriages is between Europeans. Half concerns French/African or French/Maghrebi. A recent survey by the IFOP research institute revealed that in 1984 more than 50% of the Frenc people did not favour their children marrying someone of Arab origin. Today this percentage has dropped to 27%. Demographer Jean-Luc Richard commented that “Approximately 35% of the Arab people marry with French people of long descent”.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

France: 94 Kurdish Immigrants Freed in Corsica

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JANUARY 25 — The Kurdish immigrants who arrived in Corsica and were locked up in a reception centre by the French authorities have been released by order of the Magistrates for Freedom. The decision was made in consideration of the “absence of any legal frame whatsoever” to justify their detention. 94 out of the 123 who arrived on a beach close to Bonifacio last Wednesday in as yet unclear circumstances were released yesterday evening. They said that they had come from Syria, and immediately after the decree for their deportation came from the French authorities, they announced that they had presented an appeal. Minister for Immigration, Eric Besson, said that all the illegal immigrants who had been released “will sleep in two sites managed in partnership with the Red Cross”. An investigation into the arrival of the 123 Kurds has been opened, leading to inquiries into a Russian merchant ship over the weekend. Demands for asylum made by the immigrants will be considered “using the usual procedure: when there is an emergency, the protection of people takes priority over the rigorous application of the law”, explained Besson. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Hungary: Afghans Top Illegal Migration List, Says Police Expert

Budapest, January 24 (MTI) — Trends in illegal migration have been changing recently, with the highest number of border violators arriving from Afghanistan instead of Kosovo, the head of the Gyor-Moson-Sopron County (NW Hungary) border police said on Sunday.

Ukrainians and Moldavians setting out to work illegally in Italy, Spain or Portugal have recently tended to travel through Slovenia instead of Hungary, said Csaba Borsa.

The lifting of the European Union visa requirement in several Balkan countries in mid-December has not affected statistics so far. However, human smugglers have recently started taking five or six-member groups from the Serbian or Romanian border to Vienna, Borsa said.

There is a special migration path for Afghans through Greece where an estimated 200,000 of them are currently making preparations to set out to Western Europe. Afghans usually pay 10,000-12,000 dollars to human smugglers for the journey and usually travel individually. In the case of Kosovans, they often travel with the entire family and they are charged 4,000-5,000 euros per person.

Hegyeshalom continues to be the most popular border crossing for illegal immigrants, followed by Sopron. There has recently been an increasing number of border violators using trains instead of hiding in lorries or travelling by taxi, Borsa said.

Police initiated proceedings against illegal immigrants from 52 countries last year, he added.

The local regional daily recently reported that Gyor-Moson-Soron County police caught 494 or nearly twice as many illegal immigrants last year than in the year before and the number of proceedings against human smugglers nearly tripled to 52.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Ireland: Ahern Tells EU Partners Residency Laws Must be Reviewed

THE GOVERNMENT has told its European partners that EU residency laws need to be reviewed to combat the growing number of “sham marriages” between EU citizens and third country nationals.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern published new statistics yesterday showing 384 applications for residency made by Pakistani nationals in 2009 were based on marriages to Latvian nationals.

A further 50 residency applications were based on Pakistani’s marrying Polish nationals and 47 on Pakistani’s marrying Estonians.

“There is a growing evidence of abuse of EU immigration laws and Ireland’s experience is that the love affair between Pakistan and Baltic states shows no signs of abating,” Mr Ahern told his EU counterparts at a weekend meeting of EU justice ministers in Toledo, Spain.

He said in general the Pakistani spouses tend to be students or former students with no immigration permission. He said there was also a problem with failed Nigerian asylum seekers making residency applications based on “sham marriages” to EU citizens.

Some 69 out of the 238 applications for residency made by Nigerians in 2009 were based on marriage to a British citizen, 24 on marriage to a German citizen and 22 on marriage to a Polish citizen.

“We estimate that 30 per cent of all our applications for recognition under the EU directive on freedom of movement and residency involve persons who were illegally present in Ireland or on a temporary or limited permission when making their applications,” said Mr Ahern.

The Government has been lobbying its European partners for reform of the EU directive on free movement since it lost the Metock case at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in 2008.

This test case was taken by four married couples living in Ireland who faced deportation. In each case the four EU citizens married asylum seekers, whose request for leave to remain in the Republic was subsequently rejected by the Minister for Justice. The Government argued unsuccessfully that it should be allowed to deport non-EU spouses who had not lived in another EU state prior to arriving in Ireland, to combat “marriages of convenience”.

The ECJ found in favour of the applicants seeking leave to remain.

Siobhán O’Donoghue, director of the Migrant Rights Centre, said there was a danger the Minister’s comments on “sham marriages” would throw an “air of suspicion” on legitimate marriages.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Italy: President Attacks Mafia After Immigrant Riot

Rosarno, 21 Jan. (AKI) — Italian president Giorgio Napolitano on Thursday called for greater resources to fight the mafia when he travelled to the southern town of Rosarno, site of some of the country’s worst violence between residents and immigrants. Napolitano said the region of Calabria surrounding the town was on “the front line” in the fight against the local mafia, or ‘Ndrangheta.

“If the ‘Ndrangheta in Calabria is blocking development, it is the main enemy of the future and denies citizens their freedom with threats, blackmail and needs,” Napolitano said.

“It is clear that Calabria is the front line in the fight against organised crime. And all state institutions must be on the front line with Calabria.”

Napolitano said it was up to the government to support the integration of migrants and fight the mafia which has been blamed for exploiting foreign workers and provoking the violent clashes that erupted earlier this month.

More than 1,100 immigrants — mostly African farm workers — were transferred from Rosarno to other parts of Italy after the clashes that injured dozens of residents and immigrants. At least five people were hospitalised with injuries.

The violence was reportedly provoked after two immigrants were wounded in a shooting by unidentified gunmen.

“There was an explosion of intolerance that demonstrated the worst of what has accumulated in the souls of Italians and immigrants,” Napolitano said during his visit to Rosarno.

The violence drew international condemnation from Pope Benedict XVI, the United Nations and members of the European Union as well as human rights groups.

“There must be law and order to govern the immigration and avoid violence such as what happened in Rosarno,” Napolitano said.

“Local governments must work for the integration of immigrants and the state has to supply sufficient resources in favour of immigrants and against organised crime,” he said.

Napolitano praised efforts to combat criminal organisations in the region.

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

Lybia: Entry Visas for EU-Citizens Restricted, Source Says

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI, JANUARY 21 — In reaction to visa restrictions imposed by Europe on entry visas for those intending to visit the Schengen Area, Libya is planning to restrict the number of visas it issues to European business travellers. The news comes from a ‘highly-placed’ Libyan source who has asked not to be named. “The Passport and Nationality and Foreigner-related Affairs Service is to tighten its requirements for the issuing of visas to visiting businesspersons and company heads from Europe who are working in Libya as well as to for citizens of certain European countries,” the source said, adding that these measures are to be carried through by Libya “starting over the coming days” and that they constitute a reaction to European policies limiting the concession of visas to Libyan citizens wishing to visit the Schengen area. Once inside a member country of the Schengen area, travellers are free to travel within all its member states. Restrictions on the issuing of Schengen area visas to Libyan citizens have been in place since November and have already been met with protests from the country’s authorities, accusing Europe of “systematic and planned solidarity with Switzerland in the diplomatic row between Tripoli and Berne which has followed the brief detention in Geneva last July of Hannibal Gheddafi, son of the Libyan leader, and his pregnant wife Alina on accusations of maltreating. Shortly after this incident, tow Swiss businesspersons were arrested in Libya on accusations of breaching the country’s immigration laws and carrying out their business affairs without the proper authorisation. The two are still wanted for trial in Libya and have sought refuge with the Swiss embassy in Tripoli.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Poll Shows Aussies Want Immigration Capped

AUSTRALIANS are spooked by record high immigration and also believe the country is increasingly racist, according to an exclusive Sunday Mail poll by Galaxy.

Two-thirds of respondents — 66 per cent — think the Federal Government should cap immigration rates.

Of these, 72 per cent of Australians polled favour an immigration cap, while 55 per cent of those who live here but do not consider themselves Australian also favoured an immigration cap.

Leading immigration expert Dr Bob Birrell said the figures show “the tide is turning”.

“It’s a significant finding because it suggests public discussion of congestion and house prices may be beginning to bite,” Dr Birrell said yesterday.


Dr Birrell said the economic shock of the global financial crisis, increasing house prices and continuing controversy over illegal immigration would have played a part in changing opinions.

He also pointed to the fact that only 55 per cent of non-Australians were in favour of an immigration cap, compared to 72 per cent of locally-born Australians.

Dr Birrell said Australian-born people took a more negative view of immigration, because they did not like their culture threatened by change.

“(Many people) like things the way they were when they came into this world. Some see it as a threat to their inherited culture,” he said.

More than half the respondents felt Australia had changed for the worse in the past 20 years.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Spain: 7,600 Offenders Deported in 2009

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JANUARY 25 — In 2009, Spain intensified its action against repeat offending illegal immigrants, deporting 7,591 foreigners (over 2,000 more than in 2008), believed to be responsible for 26,214 crimes, with an average of three crimes per capita. The repatriations, informed sources in the Interior Ministry in a statement, were carried out by BEDEX, a special department with the task of verifying whether immigrants who have committed crimes have a legal residency permit, and if they do not, of beginning the repatriation process, set up by the Spanish government in January of last year. Of the near 7,600 repatriations, 2,022 took place directly from prisons — with a 54% increase on 2008 — and mainly involved foreigners who are repeat offenders, who at the end of their sentence or while out on parole, continued to have an illegal status or were being held in preventative detention for a crime; in these cases the law allows to replace the sentence with deportation. In 2009 over 900 prisoners with pending cases were repatriated by means of this procedure. According to article 89 of the penal code, approved in 2003 by the Aznar government, sentences of less than 6 years imprisonment can be replaced by deportation, except for when a judge or court, after consulting with the public prosecutor, decides in extraordinary circumstances and with motivation, that the nature of the crime warrants for the sentence to be served in Spain. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


How Taqiyya Alters Islam’s Rules of War

Defeating Jihadist Terrorism

by Raymond Ibrahim

Middle East Quarterly

Islam must seem a paradoxical religion to non-Muslims. On the one hand, it is constantly being portrayed as the religion of peace; on the other, its adherents are responsible for the majority of terror attacks around the world. Apologists for Islam emphasize that it is a faith built upon high ethical standards; others stress that it is a religion of the law. Islam’s dual notions of truth and falsehood further reveal its paradoxical nature: While the Qur’an is against believers deceiving other believers —for “surely God guides not him who is prodigal and a liar”[1]— deception directed at non-Muslims, generally known in Arabic as taqiyya, also has Qur’anic support and falls within the legal category of things that are permissible for Muslims.

Muslim deception can be viewed as a slightly less than noble means to the glorious end of Islamic hegemony under Shari’a, which is seen as good for both Muslims and non-Muslims. In this sense, lying in the service of altruism is permissible. In a recent example, Muslim cleric Mahmoud al-Masri publicly recounted a story where a Muslim lied and misled a Jew into converting to Islam, calling it a “beautiful trick.”

Taqiyya offers two basic uses. The better known revolves around dissembling over one’s religious identity when in fear of persecution. Such has been the historical usage of taqiyya among Shi’i communities whenever and wherever their Sunni rivals have outnumbered and thus threatened them. Conversely, Sunni Muslims, far from suffering persecution have, whenever capability allowed, waged jihad against the realm of unbelief; and it is here that they have deployed taqiyya —not as dissimulation but as active deceit. In fact, deceit, which is doctrinally grounded in Islam, is often depicted as being equal —sometimes superior— to other universal military virtues, such as courage, fortitude, or self-sacrifice.

Yet if Muslims are exhorted to be truthful, how can deceit not only be prevalent but have divine sanction? What exactly is taqiyya? How is it justified by scholars and those who make use of it? How does it fit into a broader conception of Islam’s code of ethics, especially in relation to the non-Muslim? More to the point, what ramifications does the doctrine of taqiyya have for all interaction between Muslims and non-Muslims?…

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]


Zenster said...

Ralph Peters: Fort Hood Massacre Report Gutless and Shameful.

The report is so politically correct that its authors don’t even realize the extent of their political correctness — they’re body-and-soul creatures of the PC culture that murdered 12 soldiers and one Army civilian. [Emphasis added]

How interesting to finally see some equivalency being drawn between the terrorists themselves and their Politically Correct fellow travelers.

Israel — Palestine: Netanyahu Claims Parts of the West Bank “For Eternity”

In a visit to two Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that they will be part of Israel “for eternity”.

This is the real "Land for Peace" program. For every Israeli killed, 100 hectares is absorbed into the Israeli nation NEVER to be returned. For every wounded Israeli, 75 hectares. For every rocket, 50 hectares.

Perhaps when the Palestinians are crowded onto a last postage stamp sized piece of land they will finally comprehend the error of their ways.

Iraq: Saddam’s Cousin ‘Chemical Ali’ Executed.

Ali Hassan al-Majid, a former Iraqi official known as Chemical Ali, has been executed by hanging, the government announced on Monday.

Proof that some people cannot possibly die slowly enough.

How Taqiyya Alters Islam’s Rules of War.

In fact, deceit, which is doctrinally grounded in Islam, is often depicted as being equal —sometimes superior— to other universal military virtues, such as courage, fortitude, or self-sacrifice.

Which is why "Muslim integrity" will always remain an oxymoron.

Unknown said...

"The non-freezing of settlements is an obstacle to dialogue with the Palestinians. Under international law Israel has no right to take possession of space in the Occupied Territories."

that is not correct. under international law no power beyond the Mandate of Palestine can decide any borders within the Mandate. That international law is still binding and is recognized by the U.N. and by the U.S. in separate agreements.

please don't further the fiction that bigots are pushing to justify terrorism. The attitude is that if they say something enough then the reality changes because they get their opponents to repeat the claim. don't let our killers do that.