News Feed 20111011

Financial Crisis
» Europe’s Attention Shifts to Its Ailing Banks
» Eurozone Crisis: How Germany Hopes to Convert the Greeks
» Graham Summers Weekly Market Forecast (Dexia Now… Who’s Next? Edition)
» Greece: CB Activates Rescue Fund to Save Proton Bank
» Greece: Ministry Occupations Continue in Athens
» Marc Faber to America: “Listen You Lazy Bugger, You Need to Tighten Your Belts, You Need to Work More for Lower Salaries”
» Portugal: Brussels Forms Team for Use Assistance Funds
» John Nampion vs. His Sharia-Compliant Teenage Son
» ‘Leaders’ Who Fail the Awlaki Test
» NYC: Islamic Friday Prayer at Wall Street!
» Pastor Jeffress’s Comments: Rick Perry’s ‘Rev. Wright’ Moment
» Stakelbeck: Muslim Brotherhood Gaining Foothold in U.S. Govt.?
» U.S. Accuses Iranians of Plotting to Kill Saudi Envoy
Europe and the EU
» Berlusconi Passes Development Decree to Romani
» Chewing Gum Helps Swedish Students Learn
» Chocoholics Run Lower Risk of Stroke: Study
» Cyprus: A Political Crisis Out of Control, Press
» Cyprus: Much More Gas Found Offshore Than Expected, Radio
» Finland’s First Terrorism Case Expands to Include Finnish Citizen
» France and Germany to Propose Changes to EU Treaties
» France: Over 200 Strikes to Hit Transport and Schools
» Germany: New Incendiary Device Found on Train Tracks
» ‘I Only Started Crying Later’: Norway’s Prime Minister Discusses the Utøya Massacre
» Italian Blogger Puts UK Defence Secretary in Frame
» Italy: Lombardy Councillor Questioned by Prosecutors in Monza
» Italy: Riots Between University Students in Naples, Two Injured
» Liberals Skewer SVP Criminal Deportation Plan
» Norway Killing Film Slammed
» Portugal: Boss of Madeira in Narrow Victory
» Radical Islam Has Settled Into Ireland
» Ratification Hangs in Balance: Europe Tensely Awaits Euro Vote in Slovakia
» Rich Brits Plot Escape to France
» Romania: Crooked Judges in Corruption Scandal
» Spain: Lavazza Deal With Areas for Opening of 14 Cafes
» UK: Another Adherent to Radical Islam Welcomed by the Guardian
» UK: Guardian Appoints Engage Employee as Stand in Religious Affairs Columnist
» UK: Muslim Youth Projects to be Awarded With a Special Posthumous Award for Birmingham Riot Victims
» Bosnia: Radical Tunisian Muslim Deported as ‘Security Threat’
» EU: Serbia: Commission to Approve Candidate Status Soon
» Sweden Blames Albanians for Anti-Albanian Hatred
North Africa
» Caroline Glick: The Forgotten Christians of the East
» Christians in Peril
» Coptic Church Condemns Attack, Muslims Pelt Funeral Procession With Bricks
» Egypt: Giza Bishop: No Law or Justice
» Egypt: Anti-Copt Violence, Consequence of 30 Years of Bad Policies, Said Catholic Priest
» Egypt Protests: Government Faces Accusations of Deliberately Encouraging Sectarian Hatred
» Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood, ‘Wrong Time’ For Copt Protests
» Morrocans Mosque Imams Protest Tight Government Controls on Preaching
» Tunisia: Elections: Tension Sky-High in the Country
Israel and the Palestinians
» Israel Demolishes Mosque in Jordan Valley
» Israeli Prisons Are Worse Than Auschwitzes of the Nazis, Says PA
» Israel to Release 1,000 Palestinian Prisoners Including Marwan Barghouti
» Netanyahu Announces Deal to Free Shalit
» ‘Occupation Forces Trying to Change Historical Sites’
Middle East
» Feeding the Masses: German Firm to Assess Catering Project for Mecca Pilgrims
» Hatred of Arabs Deeply Rooted in Persians, Says Iranian Intellectual
» Saudi Arabia: Arab Brutality in the Name of Islam
» Saudi Arabia: Riyadh: Colombian Footballer Arrested Over Tattoo of Christ’s Face
South Asia
» Indonesia: The Islamic Hardcore
» Indonesia: Java Church Reports Local Officials for Disrupting Religious Freedom
» Not a Single Christian Church Left in Afghanistan
Australia — Pacific
» First Carbon Bill Passes Lower House
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Nigeria: Soldier, Other Die as Explosions Rock Maiduguri
» Somalia: Special Forces Free Crew of Pirated Cargo Ship
» Netherlands: PvdA Blames Immigration on Rightwing Parties
» UK: Immigrants Must Pass Test on British History, Says David Cameron
Culture Wars
» UK: Creationism Attack Under UK Muslim Fire
» 7 Population Milestones for 7 Billion People
» A Muslim Life of Brian? No Way, Says Python
» New Map of Saturn Moon Titan Reveals Surprisingly Earth-Like Features
» Three-Way Race to Reach Lost Antarctic Lakes
» World’s Largest Virus Proves Giants Came From Cells

Financial Crisis

Europe’s Attention Shifts to Its Ailing Banks

Sovereign bonds were once considered among the safest of all investments. Yet with Greece teetering and several more euro-zone countries on the watch list, the Continent’s banks are in trouble. The European Union is struggling to come up with an antidote. By SPIEGEL Staff

The mood was decidedly somber last Thursday as Jean-Claude Trichet put in his last appearance as the president of the European Central Bank (ECB) following a meeting of the institution’s governing council. There was no farewell gift and no bouquet of flowers — only a few words of praise from Jens Weidmann, the president of Germany’s central bank, the Bundesbank.

Trichet briefly acknowledged that he was “deeply moved” by the tribute from his German colleague. Then the Frenchman, who will be replaced by Italy’s Mario Draghi at the end of this month as the head of Europe’s currency watchdog, turned to the latest casualty of the euro crisis. The banks.

Three years after the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank in September 2008, the crisis is heading toward a new peak. The banks no longer trust each other and, during the past week, prices of insurance policies to protect investors in the event that credit institutions go bankrupt have soared to the highest levels ever observed. Only the central banks are considered safe havens and are flooded with money from financial institutions.

Even US President Barack Obama is anxiously watching as events unfold in Europe. He recently stated publicly that the events transpiring on the other side of the Atlantic currently represent the greatest threat to the American economy. “You must act fast,” he told the Europeans, adding that there needs to be a “very clear, concrete plan of action that is sufficient to the task.”

Back in 2008, the threat came from America. At the time, the US government allowed Lehman Brothers to go bankrupt — and unleashed a financial tsunami that drove large parts of the global economy into a recession and cost millions of jobs.

Extremely Precarious Situation

Now, it has become apparent that the danger from the heart of the financial world has not yet been eliminated. This time, though, it is emanating from Europe. With leading politicians and economists saying that the cash-strapped Greeks will soon require substantial debt relief, Europe’s financial institutions find themselves in an extremely precarious situation.

Many banks still hold billions of euros in government bonds from Greece and other debt-stricken European countries. If these securities tumble in value, the institutions involved could face bankruptcy themselves. In the financial sector there is a growing fear of a chain reaction — and of a second meltdown in the banking sector. The supply of money to business and industry could soon dry up, sparking a new credit crunch.

As a precautionary measure, ECB President Trichet has turned on the money pump again. Over the coming months, the banks will have access to virtually unlimited liquidity from the ECB.

Furthermore, European heads of government are debating a new radical program. It has become apparent that a number of European banks will have to be nationalized and plans call for the money to finance this move to come, at least in part, from the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), the temporary euro backstop fund.

It was only in early September that Christine Lagarde, as the new head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), was heavily criticized after she suggested that European banks would need some €200 billion ($267 billion) in additional capital. Now though, following a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and World Bank President Robert Zoellick last week in Berlin to discuss the banking crisis, it is clear that everyone agree on the gravity of the situation…

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

Eurozone Crisis: How Germany Hopes to Convert the Greeks

Les Echos, Paris

An activist demonstrating outside the HQ of the Greek Federation of German Industries in Berlin during a meeting at which Angela Merkel and Georges Papandreou attended, September 27, 2011.


Once the Troika had finished its discussions with the government of Greek PM Georges Papandreou regarding new adjustment measures, the German Economy Minister popped down to Athens to suggest to Greece that it change economic models — to more closely resemble the German one.

Karl de Meyer

It was close to 11pm on October 6 when Philipp Rösler, German Economy Minister escaped from his Vouliagmeni hotel to take a few steps on the nearby beach. The night was balmy, quiet. A slight breeze wafted the scent of pine and the sound of lounge music from a cocktail bar. The spreading sea evoked Homeric epics; the plots hatched by the gods on Mount Olympus; the heroes of Sophocles; and the allegories of Plato.

It was hard to believe that Greece was on the brink of disaster, that without a green light from the Troika (IMF, ECB and EU Commission), Athens could default as of next month; or that Europe has been divided for the past eighteen months over how to contain a crisis that threatens to destroy the euro. Yet that was the case. On the eve of Philipp Rösler’s arrival, another general strike against the drastic austerity measures adopted by the Papandreou government paralysed the country.

Energise the Greek economy

While the German minister, surrounded by bodyguards, allowed himself a few minutes’ walk, Greeks disguised as Hitler were demonstrating in front of the German Embassy in Athens. After four years of recession, next year, unemployment is forecast at 20%, according to economists.

If Philipp Rösler came to Athens, it was not to commune with eternity but to offer Germany’s help, as Greece’s primary trading partner. Trade flows total €8 billion per year. To get out of the quagmire — it has long been clear in Berlin — Athens must do more than purge its public finances. It must also be helped to regain a competitive edge. In short, it must change its economic model. Preferably to adopt one that is more…Germanic.

Philipp Rösler led a delegation of some 70 bankers and business leaders who were expected to bring ideas, advice and capital. The visit should be seen as complementary to the work of the EU Commission task force, chaired by another German, Horst Reichenbach, established in July to energise the Greek economy.

Solar power

The visit was taken seriously and Philipp Rösler met with the PM, himself on Friday. He also met with his counterpart, the Greek Economy Minister as well as the Energy Minister. It’s in this field that the German government sees the greatest opportunities, particularly regarding photovoltaic energy.

With an average of over 300 days of sunshine per year, Greece has enormous potential which it has, until now, under-exploited. It currently has a capacity for 350MW compared with some 20GW produced in Germany. “The country has an interesting guaranteed price system, better even than in Germany, but the problem is that investors don’t know how it might change,” explains Dirk Janssen, an expert lawyer from Watson, Farley & Williams.

Athens has now fixed a goal of installing up to 10GW on its soil. Called the Helios project, it aims to export this green electricity — perhaps to Germany. Berlin decided, in June, to shut down its nuclear plants in the next ten years and needs to readjust its energy mix to compensate. Chancellor Angela Merkel, herself, last week said that it made sense to produce solar energy where the most optimal conditions prevail…

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

Graham Summers Weekly Market Forecast (Dexia Now… Who’s Next? Edition)

Things are getting truly desperate in Europe. I’d like to show just how bad they are by way of example: the Belgian bank Dexia, which is now in the process of being nationalized. For starters, Dexia had 566 billion euros in debt and 19 billion euros in equity as of the end of 2010. Right off the bat, that’s a leverage ratio of 29 to 1. Lehman Brothers was leveraged at 30 to 1 when it collapsed. Now consider that Belgium’s entire GDP is just 348 billion euros. Dexia has 566 billion euros in assets. Of this 352 billion are loans. Put another way, Dexia’s loan portfolio alone is larger than its home country’s entire economy.


Suffice to say, Europe’s banking system is in far FAR worse shape than anyone over there is admitting. The stress tests were complete and total fiction. And the market is starting to figure this out.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

Greece: CB Activates Rescue Fund to Save Proton Bank

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, OCTOBER 10 — Greece’s Central Bank said on Monday it activated a bank rescue fund to save Proton Bank, effectively nationalising the small lender that is under investigation for possible violation of the country’s money-laundering laws. Greece and its international lenders have set up a capital support backstop, the Financial Stability Fund (FSF), as a safety net for banks that need to recapitalise but cannot raise funds in the market and to prevent systemic risk.

“After recommendation by the Bank of Greece, the Finance Ministry proceeded to apply to Proton Bank a new law about the restoration of banks,” the Bank of Greece said in a statement as daily Financial Mirror reports. The Bank of Greece said Proton was split into a “good bank” where all of its private sector, government deposits and sound assets were transferred. The good bank will have the FSF backstop as its sole shareholder and retain the trade name Proton. “The ‘good bank’ is well capitalised, with a capital adequacy ratio that is well above the regulatory threshold. It has access to euro-system liquidity through the Bank of Greece,” the Central Bank said. The Central Bank added the licence of the old Proton Bank was withdrawn and it was put into liquidation. The proceeds of the liquidation will be used to cover the claims of third parties. Proton shareholders will rank as last claimants. “The new bank, free of the deficiencies of the previous bank, is financially sound and will continue normally its operations,” the Bank of Greece said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Ministry Occupations Continue in Athens

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, OCTOBER 11 — Employees continue to occupy government offices in the Greek capital in protest against the austerity measures brought in by Prime Minister George Papandreou. Today will see the General State Accounting offices occupied as well as those of the Pensions Department, the Aspropirgos refineries — where about 300 workers have occupied the plant — and the Agriculture Bank. As concerns ministries, today the Interior, Labour and Development ones are all under occupation.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

Marc Faber to America: “Listen You Lazy Bugger, You Need to Tighten Your Belts, You Need to Work More for Lower Salaries”

“I will tell you what the US needs. The US needs a Lee Kwan Yew who stands in front of the US and tells them, listen you lazy bugger, now you have to tighten your belts, you have to save more, work more for lower salaries and only through that will we get out of the current dilemma that essentially prevents the economy from growing.”

No money printing, no extensive protests, no excuses. Of course, this would have to accompany a global overhaul of the system, something Zero Hedge has been advocating since day one, as it is impossible to reform this broken system from within: “The problem i have with the investment universe is that i find it difficult to envision how the US and western Europe can return to healthy sustainable growth without a complete purge of the financial system and some type of catalyst. Something that restores some measure of social cohesion among people; it could be hyperinflation, a complete credit market collapse, widespread sovereign defaults, civil strife, major military confrontation.”

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

Portugal: Brussels Forms Team for Use Assistance Funds

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, OCTOBER 10 — As requested by the Portuguese government, the European Commission has created a support structure for Portugal, aimed at a better use of Community funds in support of the Economic and Financial Assistance programme that is implemented in Portugal. Brussels reports that the structure will consist of a small team of experts which will provide technical assistance to the Portuguese authorities in reprogramming and reprioritising Community funds in a way which mutually reinforces the objectives of the Programme agreed with Troika as well as the growth perspectives of Portugal. The team will be led by Herve’ Carre’, former general director of Eurostat. Portugal. This initiative is part of the overall Commission support to the countries under assistance.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]


John Nampion vs. His Sharia-Compliant Teenage Son

Hey Dad — you know about the Moors, right?

Sure, Nick, I’ve heard of them. Read a little about them in school.

Then you probably know they created the most advanced civilization in the history of the world. Muslims. Muslims, Dad.

Please sit back, relax, and enjoy the following Sharia-compliant video, the current fad in dhimmified classrooms across the country:


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

‘Leaders’ Who Fail the Awlaki Test

Muslim groups that refused to cheer

The just assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki was a defining moment for American Muslims. We should have been leading the cheers — but instead many of our self-appointed “spokesmen” squandered their bandwidth. This one is personal. As one of us, Awlaki’s extreme form of Islamism swayed many Muslims to hate America and the West. Worse — in flagrant defiance of the central tenets of our Islam — he taught many Muslims to diminish the value of human life. Yet where most Americans saw a traitor who turned on his nation in order to fight our sons and daughters on the battlefield, too many American Islamic groups were steeped in denial.

The Dar al-Hijra mosque in northern Virginia, Awlaki’s last stomping ground before leaving the US, issued statements defending his pre-2002 interfaith work and insinuating that it was torture in Yemeni prisons that radicalized Awlaki. And while the Council on American-Islamic Relations “repudiated Awlaki’s incitement to violence,” it also “urged inquiry into the constitutional issues raised by the assassination.”

What does it matter that Awlaki was once a US citizen? Neither by our Constitution nor by Islam am I ashamed to rejoice in his death. The groups taking this shameful approach, along with the Muslim Public Affairs Council, blame supposed Islamophobia for any anti-Islamic sentiment in the United States. Yet their own hair-splitting is guaranteed to help sour American opinion on Islam and Muslims. Awlaki left the United States and declared war against our nation. He hid behind our faith, exploited our nation’s freedoms, radicalized other Muslims and sent them to die for him. Every Muslim should be asking ourselves publicly and unapologetically — when do we believe Awlaki actually became a threat? That will separate Muslims who are part of the problem from those who are part of the solution.

In their releases, CAIR and MPAC pointedly note that he left the US before turning violent — as if violence was his only problem. He did not spontaneously combust into a militant: The insidious, hate-filled Islamism he embraced while still in America provided ample fertile soil for his further radicalization. Where were the litany of contrite Muslim leaders demanding a public discussion within our mosques and organizations about the signs and ideologies they missed in Awlaki? Muslims should be the most furious Americans with what radicals like Awlaki have done. His tapes and CDs filled Islamic sites and stores in the past two decades. We need to publicly unravel his hateful ideas from our Islam. Only then will Americans understand how vital our role is as American Muslims.

Let others fret over constitutional nuances. Let us as American Muslims take a strident stand against everything for which Awlaki stood. Yes, our government should have revoked his citizenship. Yes, we should have formally declared war on al Qaeda. Yes, we might have tried Awlaki in absentia, but the evidence may have been too sensitive and we did not. But none of that takes away the righteousness of killing Awlaki. As an American Muslim, I sleep better at night knowing that the monster is dead and will no longer be a threat to our Muslim children.

Yet so-called “Muslim leaders” react to his killing by suggesting that our government will now feel free to assassinate Muslim citizens at will. This is absurd and obscene. Just who does it help to plant such baseless fears among our fellow Muslims? We desperately need high-profile organizations entrenched in Americanism and ready to take on Islamism and its agents in the public square. Our faith demands just such a counter-jihad.

M. Zuhdi Jasser is the founder and president of the Phoenix-based American Islamic Forum for Democracy and a founding member of the American Islamic Leadership Coalition (

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

NYC: Islamic Friday Prayer at Wall Street!

Recently I posted video footage of Muslims praying in the street at NYCâ€(tm)s 26Th Annual Muslim Day Parade. Of course that was not enough for NYâ€(tm)s Islamic community. They see America is in a state of weakness because of the politically correct disease, and will continue to push their religion in our faces. This upcoming event is another Islamic display of power, and let me make this clear. Muslims do not care what infidels want, they stand with Islam above all! It is time the rest of the country comes to terms with this, and demands an end to all Muslim immigration.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

Pastor Jeffress’s Comments: Rick Perry’s ‘Rev. Wright’ Moment

If Gov. Rick Perry retains any hope of being president he will denounce the Rev. Robert Jeffress as a bigot in no uncertain words. He should do it before the debate Tuesday night.

It’s not enough that Perry’s spokesman said the governor didn’t share Jeffress’s view that Mormonism is a cult. After the way Jeffress unloaded, both in his introduction of Perry at the Values Voters Summit and afterword in remarks to the press, the public needs to hear from the candidate himself.

Jeffress, senior pastor of the 10,000 member First Baptist Church of Dallas, said publicly and boldly some evangelicals have been saying privately. Polling shows that more than 20 percent of Republicans say they would not vote for a Mormon for president and Jeffress told them they were right: “I think Romney is a good moral person but those of us who are born-again followers of Christ should prefer a competent Christian….Between a Rick Perry and a Mitt Romney I believe evangelicals need to go with Rick Perry.” Later, speaking with reporters after Perry’s address, he was more direct: “Mormonism is not Christianity. It’s not politically correct to say, but Mormonism is a cult.”

Jeffress did allow that Romney was “a fine family person.” But “it is only faith in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone that qualifies you as a Christian.” And presumably as a president as well “Do we want a candidate who is a good moral person, or one who is a born-again follower of the Lord Jesus Christ?” he asked. (Can’t you be both?) “In Rick Perry we have a candidate who is a committed follower of Christ.”

Listen to Jeffress’s views on some other religions: “Islam is an oppressive religion. Here is the deep dark secret…it promotes pedophilia, sex with children. For Christians, the worst thing about Islam is that it is a false religion that leads people away from God to spend an eternity in hell. And I believe that as Christians and conservatives it’s time to take off the gloves and to tell people the truth about this evil, evil religion.”

There’s more. “Homosexuality is an abomination to God. …Islam is wrong, it is a heresy from the pit of hell; Mormonism is wrong, it is a heresy from the pit of hell; Judaism, you can’t be saved being a Jew. You know who said that, by the way. All three of the greatest Jews in the New Testament: Peter, Paul and Jesus. They all said, Judaism won’t do. It’s faith in Jesus Christ.”

This guy is one sermon away from burning the Koran.

It’s not that Perry — who reportedly approved Jeffress as his introducer — was not aware of his views. In August, Perry hosted “The Response,” a huge prayer gathering in which Jeffress was a partner. Another partner was the Rev. C. Peter Wagner of “The New Apostolic Reformation, who told Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air this past week that a tsunami struck Japan because the emperor of Japan had sex with the sun goddess, a power of darkness belonging to the Kingdom of Satan. “The Sun Goddess wants natural disasters to come to Japan,” he said. “Sometimes the hand of God, which is more powerful will prevent them and when he decides to prevent them and when he doesn’t is far beyond anything we can predict.”

If people can be judged by whom they associate with, then Perry is in deep trouble. Candidate Barack Obama realized this in 2008 when he denounced the controversial words of his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. It was one of the finest moments of his campaign. It’s time for Perry to “take off the gloves” and really sock it to Jeffress. You can’t have a president tolerating this kind of hate speech, much less consorting with those who spew it.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck: Muslim Brotherhood Gaining Foothold in U.S. Govt.?

The Muslim Brotherhood is not only powerful in the Middle East.

My latest piece for CBN News examines how the Brotherhood’s American fronts are gaining access to the halls of power in Washington, D.C. as well.

Click on the link above to watch.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck [Return to headlines]

U.S. Accuses Iranians of Plotting to Kill Saudi Envoy

Federal authorities foiled a plot by men linked to the Iranian government to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States and to bomb the embassies of Saudi Arabia and Israel in Washington, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a news conference on Tuesday.

The men accused of plotting the attacks were Manssor Arbab Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri, according to court documents filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York. Both men are originally from Iran, Reuters reported.

There is “no basis to believe that any other co-conspirators are present in the U.S.,” Mr. Holder said.

He said the men were connected to the secretive Quds Force, a division of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps that has carried out operations in other countries. He said that money in support of the plot had been transferred through a bank in New York, but that the men had not yet obtained any explosives.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Berlusconi Passes Development Decree to Romani

Stalemate over Bank of Italy. Amato emerges as possible new governor. Ministers press Berlusconi to choose

ROME — One of those in attendance called it a “mind-boggling” meeting at which next to nothing was decided and nearly everything was postponed as usual. There was no agreement on the Bank of Italy. In a move many see as disingenuous, the task of drafting the development decree was taken from economy ministry and assigned to the plucky Paolo Romani, who now faces an uphill struggle “littered with traps left by Tremonti”, as government sources put it.

In two hours of conversation, headlines and declarations of intent, Silvio Berlusconi put economic development minister Paolo Romani in the driving seat for the journey towards a decree it is hoped will give the Italian economy a shot in the arm and the markets a signal. Many, however, see the move as inconclusive and merely tactical. “In a few days’ time, Tremonti will be asked to lend a hand again, Bank of Italy permitting”, is one minister’s take.

Discussions at Palazzo Grazioli also covered a blanket amnesty. The PM is reported to be weighing up the impact on public opinion, and what revenue an amnesty could generate. In the past few hours, the idea seems to have become more concrete. Whatever the case, the Bank of Italy governorship is the sticking point, or one of them. Umberto Bossi, like Mr Tremonti, wants Vittorio Grilli but Mr Berlusconi insists that he cannot upset Mario Draghi and Giorgio Napolitano. The PM prefers to discuss a trio of candidates, including Lorenzo Bini Smaghi and Fabrizio Sacomanni. Mr Berlusconi is worried that he might have to go back to Europe without a decision “and Sarkozy is waiting to tell me that we cannot keep our pledges”…

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Chewing Gum Helps Swedish Students Learn

Students at elementary school Parkskolan in Älvsbyn, a small town in northern Sweden, chew gum in class, supported by studies that show gum chewing increases concentration and study results. The National Union of Teachers in Sweden (Lärarnas riksförbund) are not impressed, however, and call the decision to allow classroom chewing “offensive” to teachers, according to a report in newspaper Aftonbladet. The school allows chewing gum in certain middle school classrooms, and the permit is dependent on both students’ and parents’ approval. Only sugar-free gum is permitted. The school claims the gum improves students’ performance in school.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

Chocoholics Run Lower Risk of Stroke: Study

A fondness for chocolate doesn’t have to be all bad, according to new Swedish research which has shown that the more chocolate consumed, the lower the risk of suffering a stroke. Women who indulge run a significantly lower risk of a stroke than those who refrain, according to the new study carried out by the unit of nutritional epidemiology at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute and published in the American College of Cardiology medical journal. “Regular consumption of moderate amounts of chocolate can protect against the onset of a stroke,” said researcher Susanna Larsson to Upsala Nya Tidning.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

Cyprus: A Political Crisis Out of Control, Press

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, OCTOBER 10 — The political life in the Republic of Cyprus seems to be out of control, as following the ambivalent report of the Police on the Mari blast, the confrontation between the Government and the political parties on the political responsibilities of Communist president Dimitris Christofias is pushed to extremes. This is, at least, what all the Greek-Cypriots newspapers are writing (excepting Aravghi — ‘Dawn’ -, mouthpiece of the Communist party Akel). The Police report contained a reference to the Commander and Deputy Commander of the Mari Naval Base Ioannides and Lambrou (both dead in the blast), who were reportedly blamed for the death of people in the explosion. DISY (center-right) President Nikos Anastasiades, as daily Famagusta Gazette reports, spoke of “brainless leaders, conspirators, sick minds and blustering people who do not take up their responsibilities and who do not resign.” EDEK (Social-Democrat) President and President of the House Yiannakis Omirou spoke about “a despicable and insulting report”. DIKO (right) Vice President Nicolas Papadopoulos said that “what is being attempted is to disorient and mislead public opinion” while EVROCO (European Party right) claims that “a dishonest attempt is being made to save the President”. Meanwhile, the leaders of the two main opposition parties, DISY and DIKO, met today to discuss coordinating their action in the aftermath of the Polyviou report. A spokesman said a proposal for the formation of a national salvation government put forward by DIKO would be at the centre of discussions. The spokesman added the party’s proposals have also been sent to all other parties. He said DISY was the first of the recipients to respond and request talks on the proposals. The spokesman said that internal unity will only be restored by the President resigning his post.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Cyprus: Much More Gas Found Offshore Than Expected, Radio

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, OCTOBER 11 — Drilling from the Homer Ferrington oil exploration rig of the Texan company Noble Energy has discovered gas off the southern coast of Cyprus, and the field seems to contain 30-40% more than had been predicted, government sources have been quoted by Cypriot radio as saying. Cypriot president Dmitris Christofias will be going to the platform on Thursday to take part in a brief ceremony, added the broadcasters.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

Finland’s First Terrorism Case Expands to Include Finnish Citizen

Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) says it now suspects four individuals of engaging in the recruitment and financing of terrorists through the Somali militant group al-Shabab.

NBI inspector Jaakko Christensen says all four suspects are Somalis, though the newest suspect also has Finnish citizenship.

Police say some of the suspects are currently out of the country.

Last Friday police released from custody a 28-year-old woman suspect in the case. She was, however, placed under a travel ban. A new suspect was apprehended in the case on the same day. A 34-year-old male suspect still remains under lock and key.

Police have been investigating the case since last spring. Officials have until December 15 to formally charge the suspects.

           — Hat tip: KGS [Return to headlines]

France and Germany to Propose Changes to EU Treaties

(AGI) Berlin — France and Germany have agreed to propose “important changes” to EU treaties. It was announced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after talks on the eurozone debt crisis in Berlin. Merkel said “the goal is to have closer and more binding cooperation of eurozone countries” to avoid overspending.

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

France: Over 200 Strikes to Hit Transport and Schools

Commuters, train passengers and school pupils can expect problems on Tuesday as five unions call strikes across the country to protest against government cuts. School pupils have also promised to join the action with demonstrations outside schools in Paris and some other cities. Metro and fast RER trains in the capital will suffer some delays, particularly on metro lines 5, 7, 9 and on the busy lines A and B of the RER. Line A hopes to have three trains in four running while line B will have its service cut in half during morning and evening rush hour.

High-speed TGV trains will be disrupted with three out of four trains running on average across the network. François Chérèque, head of the CFDT union, told Canal Plus on Monday that unions wanted to “send the government a message.” “We want to say that it is particularly unjust that salaried employees are being made to pay.” President Sarkozy’s government announced plans in August to find €12 billion ($16.4 billion) of savings as part of the government’s plan to cut the budget deficit to 5.7 percent of gross domestic product in 2011, eventually reaching the European Union target of 3 percent by 2013.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

Germany: New Incendiary Device Found on Train Tracks

Another incendiary device was found on train tracks in Berlin on Tuesday, in what may be the latest round in a series of arson attacks on German railways by suspected leftists extremists. On Monday, a device knocked out signals on the busy rail route from Berlin to Hamburg, causing hours of delays as high-speed trains had to be diverted. An extreme leftist group later claimed responsibility in emails to news agencies and on an online forum used by extremists. It wrote it was protesting German involvement in Afghanistan and called for US soldier Bradley Manning, charged with leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, to be released. The so-called “Hekla reception committee” warned of more attacks, saying it wished to see life in Berlin disrupted. That same day, police also said they foiled an attempted attack in a tunnel near Berlin’s main train station after staff stumbled upon suspicious objects described as incendiary agents similar to those used in the arson attack. Police officers defused the devices.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

‘I Only Started Crying Later’: Norway’s Prime Minister Discusses the Utøya Massacre

SPIEGEL: You constantly repeated one phrase in particular: “Norway will respond to this attack with more democracy, more openness …

Stoltenberg: … but not with naiveté!”

SPIEGEL: But didn’t you underestimate the danger emanating from the anti-Islamic scene in your country?

Stoltenberg: We were aware of the fact that we have a potential for violence from the anti-Islamic just as much as from the Islamist camp. Right, left, Christian and Muslim terror groups have much more in common than they do with the democratic part of society. In these cases, the political motive is only secondary. We knew that these circles existed. Incidentally, we in Norway have already experienced politically motivated crimes, such as those committed by neo-Nazis. We’ve had racially motivated murders and an attack on a May 1 demonstration. So, if anything, we’re familiar with right-wing terrorism.

SPIEGEL: Still, immigration is a rather new phenomenon in Norway. Do you believe your country’s large anti-Islamic scene arose under this impression?

SPIEGEL: Wasn’t it also consistent with Norwegian political correctness to remain silent about the problems of a multicultural society?

Stoltenberg: No. That is a myth that some here want to create: that it’s supposedly illegal or unacceptable in Norway to have different opinions on immigration. I completely accept that there are parties with less liberal views on immigration than others.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

Italian Blogger Puts UK Defence Secretary in Frame

Key video shows Liam Fox at international meetings with friend posing as adviser

MILAN — An Italian blogger has deepened the clouds over Liam Fox, whose position as Britain’s defence secretary is on the line following awkward revelations about the role of a younger friend. A story that appeared in the Guardian in August led to an inquiry into allegations that Dr Fox repeatedly allowed his former flatmate and best man Adam Werritty, 34, to visit the defence ministry — on 14 occasions over 16 months, claim the opposition — and to take part in international meetings where he was introduced as an “adviser” although he had no official status. Dr Fox is scheduled to speak to Parliament on Monday to clear up doubts that his behaviour might have jeopardised national security or breached the ministerial code. One of the meetings under examination by the inquiry took place in December 2010 in London with Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa. It was filmed by a local television station and the footage was discovered online by Rome-based journalist Filippo Sensi, who writes a satirical blog on communications and politics called Nomfup (an abbreviation of “not my f***ing problem). The film proves that the defence secretary’s friend Adam Werritty was present at the meeting, which Dr Fox had denied. Inevitably, the story ended up on the front page of the Observer, the Guardian’s sister Sunday paper.

ITALIAN BLOGGER — The report says: “The footage was handed to the Observer by Italian blogger Nomfup. Three separate sources have seen the footage and confirmed that they believe Werritty appears in the footage”. Nomfup has posted another video of a meeting with the Sri Lankan president at which Mr Werritty is alleged to have been present. The footage dates from 2009, before Dr Fox became defence secretary. “We found the footage by sifting through sources on the web and the British media contacted us to publish it”, Filippo Sensi told the Corriere over the telephone. “There was no tip-off and no secrecy. We found both videos on YouTube. All we did was put one and one together”, Mr Sensi explained. “Perhaps these videos will be able to help people make their minds up about whether the defence secretary is telling the truth”.

DUBAI — But it’s not just the Nomfup videos that are putting Dr Fox in the firing line…

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Italy: Lombardy Councillor Questioned by Prosecutors in Monza

(AGI) Milan — Lombardy regional councillor Penati said he was questioned by prosecutors in Monza today and told them all he knows. “As I requested, today I have been questioned by the prosecutors in Monza who are investigating my case. I answered all their questions providing a detailed account of my relations with both my co-defendants and, above all, the entrepreneurs who accused me”, Filippo Penati said in a statement released after his 8-and-a-half hour long meeting with the prosecutors. “I told them what I know and I think I made an important contribution to help the judicial bodies that will continue the investigation” Penati added.

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

Italy: Riots Between University Students in Naples, Two Injured

(AGI) Naples — Two people injured and three reported to police after the riots between left and right wing students in Naples.

Apparently, according to the police, this morning about 30 Casapound (right-wing) members gathered outside the law faculty of the “Federico II” university in Via Porta di Massa, handing out leaflets informing about the students’ right to study and upholding a banner bearing the wording “The University is free” and the symbol of Blocco Studentesco, a Fascism-inspired student movement.

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

Liberals Skewer SVP Criminal Deportation Plan

A legal study commissioned by Switzerland’s liberal FDP has found that the country risks a destabilizing confrontation with the EU if it approves a Swiss People’s Party (SVP) proposal to deport foreign criminals. Conducted by the University of Freiburg, the research leaves no room for doubt: the SVP’s initiative would land Switzerland in hot water with the EU. Any breach of the principle of freedom of movement for EU citizens would cause Brussels to enact a ‘guillotine clause’, effectively cancelling Switzerland’s bilateral agreements with the union.

“Those bilateral agreements have brought us prosperity and a lot of jobs while allowing us to keep our independence,” said Free Democratic Party (FDP) president Fulvio Pelli on Monday during the presentation of the study in Bern. The FDP strongly opposes the initiative, which calls for the automatic deportation of foreign nationals found guilty of a crime in Switzerland. If passed, the new law would infringe some of the EU’s basic principles, such as discrimination based on nationality, argued Julia Hänni, the law professor who led the study. According to the FDP, any such law would be viewed as a hostile move by the EU, which could take advantage of the situation by pushing Switzerland on other sensitive issues.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

Norway Killing Film Slammed

THE trailer for a low-budget film based on the Norway massacre and showing young people screaming and running away from a gunman has sparked outcry from survivors of July’s mass killing.

A 70-second movie trailer for a film titled Utoya Island — due for release in 2012 — has appeared on YouTube to widespread criticism.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

Portugal: Boss of Madeira in Narrow Victory

Diário de Notícias, 10 October 2011

The master of Madeira obtains “his narrowest victory.” For the first time, reports Diário de Notícias, Alberto João Jardim, who has ruled the island since 1978, failed to gain an absolute majority of votes, but managed to preserve a majority of seats in the autonomous region’s parliament — a condition that he himself had imposed for not tendering his resignation.

The vote was closely followed in Portugal, both because the popular and populist Jardim is a controversial figure, and because Madeira’s financial situation is viewed as a cause for concern. Over the last few months, a debt of 6 billion euros, which Jardim had kept secret from the public until last summer, has added to pressure on Portugal. As the weekly Visão recently remarked, “Today, Madeira is for Portugal what Greece is for Europe.” However, “it remains to be seen if Portugal will adopt deal with Madeira, in the same way that Finland dealt with Greece”: by imposing conditions in return for aid.

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

Radical Islam Has Settled Into Ireland

by Valentina Colombo

Last August the Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service refused to approve an entry visa for Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Egyptian cleric who is the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and the one of the most prominent sheikhs of the Arab satellite TV, al-Jazeera. In his books, al-Qaradawi has defended suicide bombings not as terrorism but as legal “resistance”; advocated the death penalty for homosexuals and apostates, and condemned secular Arab countries as unbelievers.

Irish Immigration officials seem to have blocked his entry after al-Qaradawi on the grounds of his description of suicide-bombings to Israelis as “martyrdom in the name of God.” The Irish ban follows similar ones in the United States and the United Kingdom. Until Egyptian President Hosni Mubabrak’s last February, he was banned from entering Egypt as well.

The problem is that al-Qaradawi is also the head of the European Council of Fatwa and Research (ECFR), founded in March 1997, and based on Roebuck Road, 19, Clonskeagh, Dublin — leading the Irish decision to look at the very least naïve.

As stated in the official website of the Council, its main objectives are: “approaching and bringing together scholars who live in Europe and trying to unify their legal opinions regarding the most important legal issues; issuing fatwas that meet the collective needs of Muslims in Europe, solving problems and regulating their interaction with the European community, all within the rules and objectives of the sharia; publish studies and research to resolve the legal issues that arise in Europe in order to achieve the objectives of the sharia and the interests of all people.”

In a nutshell, Sharia Law had already come to Europe but nobody seemed to have realized it.

The Council was founded on the initiative of the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE), ideologically linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. You only need to look at the list of its members and you will find that its president is Yusuf al-Qaradawi; and that one of its most prominent members, Rached al-Ghannouchi — the leader of the Tunisian party al Nahdha, linked to the Muslim Brotherhood — has spared no attacks against Israel and against liberal intellectuals. The deputy president is Faisal Mawlawi, who, in 2004 on the site said that, “martyrdom operations are totally different from suicide which is forbidden. Anyone who dies in such missions as a martyr, God bless him … I invite every Palestinian not to hesitate in carrying out such operations .”

The Council also seems given to issuing fatwas, or religious edicts, not yet available in English on its website. Although fatwas have, in general, a universal but non-coercive value for Muslims, in the field of Islamic extremism, it is clear that whoever goes to a mufti with a question will then follow his advice. The first fatwa is about the permissibility of a Muslim to live permanently in a non-Islamic country. The fatwa reads as follows: “Our opinion is that a Muslim should never live among non-Muslims if it compromises his Islamic identity, unless you have no other choice. So if a Muslim lives in a place where his life, religion and those for which it is responsible are in danger then he must migrate […]”. The non-Islamic territory is presumably Europe. Fatwa four concerns the punishment for those who commit the crime of apostasy, and notes that the penalty is not always death, which should only be applied when the Muslim who has abandoned Islam announces it publicly and criticises his former religion.

At present the website of the European Council for Fatwa and Research is only available in its Arabic version, and none of its members is European. It looks more like an Islamic “government” in Europe. What is most worrisome is that in Europe an Islamic legal institution has been issuing fatwas for a long time without respecting universal ethical values — foremost the sanctity of life — and which considers European institutions as mere tools to be used to win the power. It is high time that Europe in general, and Ireland in particular, start banning not only some clerics from entering it, as Ireland did, but also the institutions and associations linked to the same people not only dangerous for Europeans but also for the majority of Muslims living in Europe who may not wish to be radicalized.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Ratification Hangs in Balance: Europe Tensely Awaits Euro Vote in Slovakia

Slovakia is expected to vote on the expansion of the euro rescue fund on Tuesday. The debate preceeding the vote has been a divisive one. And the parliament’s support for the reform is anything but a given. So what would happen if lawmakers in Bratislava block the measure?

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

Rich Brits Plot Escape to France

More wealthy Britons are planning to flee what they believe to be an over-taxed and crime-ridden UK, with France the most favoured destination, according to a survey published by British bank Lloyds TSB. The survey, published on Monday, found that 17 percent of those with more than £250,000 ($391,025) in savings and investments wanted to move abroad in the next two years, up from 14 percent six months earlier.

The most popular destination for the rich exiles was France (21 percent), followed by Spain (15 percent) and the US (11 percent). Three-quarters of those questioned (73 percent) thought that crime was a bigger problem in Britain than other developed countries. “Sadly, it seems August’s riots, tax increases and a rising cost of living have cast a pall over life in the UK for some wealthy people,” said Nicholas Boys-Smith, managing director of Lloyds TSB International Wealth in a statement.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

Romania: Crooked Judges in Corruption Scandal

România libera, 10 October 2011

The Romanian justice system has been rocked by yet another scandal, announces România libera in a report bearing the headline: “Rotten system. 11 supreme court judges charged with corruption.” On 7 October, the National Anti-corruption Directorate opened an investigation of 11 High Court of Justice and Cassation magistrates suspected of having received presents and other favours from Florin Chiriac, a Romanian business man living in France, who has been implicated in a number of cases currently before the courts, explains the Bucharest daily, which adds that three other judges are now the subject of a preliminary investigation.

“It is an area of corruption which has caused immense damage to the country in the form of biased verdicts that have already cost the [state] budget several billion euros,” notes the România libera editorial, “and which is the subject of regular complaints from the EU and the United States.” As a result of corruption and a lack of professionalism in the judiciary, “businesses are choosing to open operations in other countries,” complains the newspaper, which adds that Romania “is a country where you cannot die innocent if you do not pay bribes to the judiciary.”

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

Spain: Lavazza Deal With Areas for Opening of 14 Cafes

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 10 — The concession catering group Areas and the Italian company Lavazza have signed a strategic agreement to supply coffee and open cafes in Spain. Sources at the Spanish company quoted today by the media say that the deal means that Lavazza will be the sole supplier of cafes managed by Areas in Spain, with both groups due to invest 4 million euros between now and 2012 to open 14 bars bearing the Caffe’ di Roma and Lavazza Espression brand in Areas outlets. The collaboration between the two companies began in 2010, when Areas opened a Caffe’ di Roma in Madrid’s Barajas airport. The deal will see Lavazza supply Areas with one thousand tonnes of coffee in 2012.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: Another Adherent to Radical Islam Welcomed by the Guardian

Riazatt Butt, CiF’s Religious Affairs correspondent, pens a weekly column called “Divine Dispatches” in the Belief Section of CiF, which represents a round-up of sorts on religious news in the UK and around the world. While the latest edition of the column, on Oct. 6th, curiously omitted any mention that the following day would be Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, even more worth noting is the fact that filling in for Butt this week was Nadiya Takolia of iEngage.

Who is iEngage? Well, they claim to help empower and encourage British Muslims within local communities to be more actively involved in British media and politics. However, iEngage’s idea of politically empowering Muslims has a very narrow and decidedly illiberal focus. Indeed, the group puts a significant amount of energy into opposing moderate and liberal Muslims, while defending radical Islamist organisations.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Guardian Appoints Engage Employee as Stand in Religious Affairs Columnist

Last week, the Guardian’s Divine Dispatches: A Religion Round Up was written, not by their Religious Affairs correspondent, Riazatt Butt, but by Nadiya Takolia. Takiolia appears generally to be writing for the Guardian, so I wonder if she has been given an internship. Nadiya Takolia works for Engage. Engage (or “iEngage”) is an NGO which attacks Muslim liberals while defending hate preachers and Islamist political parties and institutions, while attack the police for arresting terrorist suspects.

Engage was set up, in part, to be the secretariat of an All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia. It lost the APPG gig following a highly critical independent report by the sociologist Chris Allen, commissioned by the APPG itself.

Under normal circumstances, it would be absolutely unthinkable for the Guardian to accept a column from an employee of an organisation which attacks Muslim liberals. Still less would the Guardian ordinarily allow such a person to deputise for their Religious Affairs correspondent. However, these are not normal circumstances. Because Engage is linked closely to Islamist politics — one of its founders is Mohammed Ali Harrath, of the Tunisian An Nadha party — different rules apply.

Unsurprisingly, the column leads with a link to Islamophobia Watch: a website run by former Workers Revolutionary Party activist, Bob Pitt: which similarly attacks Muslim liberals while defending hate preachers and Islamist political parties and institutions. The column also discusses polygamous marriages, which Takolia tells us:

“are legal but strictly regulated by Islamic law (for example, a man must get the permission of previous wives, must support them all financially and must treat them all equally)”

The Left, progressive politics in general, is a club. Membership of the club is determined, not so much by what you believe, but who will vouch for you. Because the Guardian has, institutionally, decided that Islamist politics are part of the great progressive Left tradition, it is natural that an employee of an Islamist institution which attacks Muslim liberals should be asked to edit its religion column. This may appear incongruous to you or me, but for such an appointment to raise eyebrows at the Guardian, it would have to conclude that Islamist politics is inimical to liberalism, and that Islamists oppose their values.

The nature of the Left’s alliances is what shapes its dynamics. Once it has made those partnerships, absolutely nothing will shake them. To abandon its alliances would mean that it was wrong to have made them in the first place. To criticise an ally’s conduct is implicitly to criticise others who still treat them as an ally. As a result, many of those with doubts about such alliances, working in progressive institutions, regarding themselves as part of the Left, will keep quiet about their doubts. Others will conclude that any criticism of their Islamist allies must be “Right wing” and probably also racist.

So, for example, when the true nature of CagePrisoners’ Salafi Jihadi politics became know, thanks to Gita Sahgal, Amnesty simply rejected all criticism, and carried on working jointly with the organisation. Gita Sahgal became a hate figure for part of the Left. Similarly, when Engage’s true nature was uncovered, its supporters — Jack Straw, Stephen Timms, Simon Hughes and Sadiq Khan — rode to its rescue. It was really only following Chris Allen’s devastating report that they took a step back. However, you can be sure that, in time, they’ll return to their open support of the organisation. Just wait and see.

This is not an issue which can be won by argument. The problem is institutional in nature.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Youth Projects to be Awarded With a Special Posthumous Award for Birmingham Riot Victims

On the evening of Tuesday 11th October, winners of this year’s coveted Young Muslim Beacon Awards 2011 will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Palace of Westminster.

The Young Muslim Beacon Awards, a project of the Youth Affairs Committee of the Muslim Council of Britain, is designed to recognise the very best of projects and organisations working in our communities to help improve the lives of young Muslims locally, regionally and nationally. Only three projects will be awarded for their outstanding work with young Muslims; one award per category.

The awards ceremony will be jointly hosted by the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain Mr Farooq Murad and Lord Sheikh of Cornhill with Chief Guest, The Speaker of the House of Commons The Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP presenting the awards. The attendees include parliamentarians, Ambassadors and High Commissioners, young Muslims, civic, community and religious leaders from across the country. The event is sponsored by Al Muntada Trust, a leading charity in serving communities in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The three judges deciding the winners after an open nomination process, were Farooq Murad (Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain), Neil Jameson (Executive Director of London Citizens) and James Cathcart (CEO of the British Youth Council). The ceremony will also honour Haroon Jahan, Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir for Model Citizenship; three young Muslims who paid the ultimate sacrifice standing up to defend and protect their community from looters during riots in Birmingham, in August 2011. The special awards will be received on the night by Abdul Quddos, eldest brother of Abdul Musavir and Shazad Ali and Tariq Jahan, father of Haroon Jahan.

Speaking before the awards ceremony, Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the MCB said: “We will witness the best of those working in our towns and cities, making a difference to lives of young people in our country. We will also be honouring three young Muslims who tragically lost their lives defending property during riots which engulfed much of the country. Their sacrifice must not be in vain and we must strengthen our bonds as people from the bottom up. That’s why these awards are so important in recognising the important work of local projects and organisations working — often voluntary — helping to build a better Britain for all”.

For more information visit:

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]


Bosnia: Radical Tunisian Muslim Deported as ‘Security Threat’

Sarajevo, 10 Oct. (AKI) — A radical Tunisian Muslim, Karray Kamel Bin Ali, also known as Abu Hamza, was repatriated Monday after Bosnian authorities judged him a “threat to national security”, local media reported.

Bin Ali has been banned from re-entering Bosnia for five years, Bosnian officials said.

A former ‘mujahadeen’ who came to Bosnia during its bloody 1992-1995 war to fight on the side of local Muslims, he had served time in prison in the central city of Zenica.

Since April he had been held in a detention centre near Sarajevo, fighting extradition.

Thousands of mujahadeen came from Islamic countries to fight on the side of local Muslims during Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war. Many married local women, got Bosnian citizenship and remained in the country after the war.

But according to western intelligence sources, they have indoctrinated local youths with radical Islam and have recruited and trained operatives linked to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Local authorities have described these activities as a threat to national security and have stripped several hundred former mujahadeen of their Bosnian citizenship.

Many are awaiting extradition amid protests by Bosnian human rights organisations.

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

EU: Serbia: Commission to Approve Candidate Status Soon

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, OCTOBER 10 — The European Commission will next Wednesday give the green light for Serbia to be given the status of candidate country for European accession. In terms of the opening of talks, the likeliest scenario is for Brussels to implement a new check on the progress being made by Belgrade in six months.If the assessment is positive, the EU could agree to talks beginning before the summer of 2012. A number of diplomatic sources in Brussels believe this to be the most probable outcome, on the eve of the publication of annual reports by the European Commission on countries concerned by the enlargement of the EU. Brussels will recognise “that Serbia has made significant progress in the last year, starting with the arrest of the two remaining men hunted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic,” sources say. In its yearly report, Brussels mist give a balanced account of the progress made by Belgrade in terms of reforms for European integration, based on criteria demanded by the EU, and not considering the resolution of the Kosovo issue as a pre-condition. The proposal by the European Commission, which will be studied next Wednesday by the board of EU Commissioners, will then be reviewed by member states at the next EU Council meeting in December, if it proves to be in favour of giving Serbia the status of candidate country, During his recent visit to Belgrade, the French Minister for European Affairs, Jean Leonetti, did not hide the fact that Germany is showing greater concern than France. Both London and Berlin want to see steps forward taken with Kosovo before Serbia is granted candidate country status.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sweden Blames Albanians for Anti-Albanian Hatred

Swedish FM Bildt at an EU meeting in Luxembourg Monday blamed lawlessness and anti-Albanian hatred in north Kosovo on Albanian authorities in Pristina, contrary to Germany and Nato, which pin the situation on Belgrade. “Authorities in Pristina have failed to gain the confidence of people in north Kosovo,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Caroline Glick: The Forgotten Christians of the East

On Sunday night, Egyptian Copts staged what was supposed to be a peaceful vigil at Egypt’s state television headquarters in Cairo. The 1,000 Christians represented the ancient Christian community of some 8 million whose presence in Egypt predates the establishment of Islam by several centuries. They gathered in Cairo to protest the recent burning of two churches by Islamic mobs and the rapid escalation of state-supported violent attacks on Christians by Muslim groups since the overthrow of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in February.

According to Coptic sources, the protesters Sunday night were beset by Islamic attackers who were rapidly backed up by military forces. Between 19 and 40 Copts were killed by soldiers and Muslim attackers. They were run over by military vehicles, beaten, shot and dragged through the streets of Cairo…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick [Return to headlines]

Christians in Peril

Egypt’s failure to protect the Copts reflects the situation for Christians throughout the Middle East.

The violent clashes in Egypt that have resulted in at least 24 deaths have highlighted the deepening plight of the country’s Coptic Christians. The Copts, who constitute about 10 per cent of Egypt’s 85 million-strong population, have been subjected to a continuous campaign of sectarian attacks since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak last February. Islamist militants linked to Egypt’s Salafist sect have been blamed for orchestrating the campaign of violence that has resulted in the destruction of several Coptic churches and led to hundreds of Coptic worshippers being killed or injured.

At a time when Christians throughout the Middle East find themselves increasingly under attack from radical Islamic groups, the failure of Egypt’s interim government to afford the Copts adequate protection does not bode well for the country’s future political development. The elections which are due to commence next month to elect a new parliament and president are supposed to herald a new beginning for a nation whose political institutions have been stifled by decades of authoritarian rule. But the prospects of Egypt developing into a modern, democratic state will be severely undermined if its Christian population feels too intimidated to participate in the electoral process. It is therefore very much in the interests of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the body responsible for steering Egypt to democracy, to offer the Copts the protection they deserve.

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, won plaudits this week for his robust condemnation of the “mindless and godless” violence that has brought misery to large swathes of Zimbabwe, not least the Christian community. This might also be a good moment for him and other world leaders to highlight the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

[Reader comment by sean mark at 09:28 am on 11 October 2011]

Christians are under attack in Europe too, and not just by muslims but by people who wish to eradicate every last bit of christian history and heritage. Be it Thomas the Tank engine or AD/BC or wearing a cross at work or talking about being a christian or displaying Christian CDs in a Christian cafe or having the right who uses your business (If you are christian B & B owners) or Happy Christmas becoming Seasons greetings or Christmas becoming Winterval and muslim mayors trying to ban Santa Clauses from town centres, the list goes on…

How far away are we from Chrstians being slaughtered by the state? That would depend on how long it takes for demographic Jihad to be achieved.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Coptic Church Condemns Attack, Muslims Pelt Funeral Procession With Bricks

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — The Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt issued a statement on October 10, expressing horror at the events of yesterday in Maspero, where 24 Copts were killed and over 200 and wounded. The church stressed that the Christian faith rejects violence. The church blasted the government for failing to find solutions to “problems that occur repeatedly and go unpunished.” The Church demanded from all Copts to fast continuously for three days starting tomorrow “in order to have peace in Egypt.”

Some interpreted this demand, which the church has made only three times in its long history, as a way to implore “God’s help for the Copts,” commented Coptic activist and writer Nader Shoukry.

In Cairo, thousands of Copts marched to attend the funeral of the victims of what they termed the “October 9 Military Massacre.” They congregated in front of the Coptic hospital where most of the dead and injured were transported, and which was attacked the night before by Muslims, who hurled bricks and Molotov Cocktails at the victims’ families.

A funeral service presided by Pope Shenouda III was held for the Copts killed in Maspero, at 11 AM at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Abbasiya, Cairo, and was attended by over 10,000 Copts. The funeral was for five Copts only, as the rest of the victims are awaiting for autopsies, on the advice of Coptic lawyers. “This is to safeguard the rights of the dead,” said attorney Dr. Ehab Ramzy, “otherwise the families could lose their case. We need proof.”

After the funeral, while still inside the Cathedral, the enraged Copts chanted “down with the junta rule and down with Tantawi.”

According to priests and Coptic lawyers who were present at the Coptic Hospital, where the victims were brought, the death certificates issued by the authorities were misleading and did not reflect the true cause of death, which might let the assailants get away with the crime. Certificates showed the cause of death as being “stab wounds” and “cardiac arrest caused by fear.”

The families insisted on having the autopsies done, which were carried out on 17 bodies lying in the Coptic hospital. Independent doctors observed those who came from the Public Morgue to carry out the autopsies.

Dr. Maged Lewis, a director at the Forensic Medicine Institute, commented that he had never seen corpses in this deplorable state before. “Bodies were mashed and bones were crushed; many had fractures and laceration of the intestines; while in others, death was caused by gun shots.”

Eyewitnesses reported the army disposed of nine bodies by throwing them in the Nile. Two bodies remain unidentified, making the number of killed uncertain.

After midnight today, friends and relatives of the dead, carried the 17 caskets from the Coptic hospital to St. Mark’s Cathedral for the second funeral service. Near Ghamra bridge, bricks were hurled at the cortege, but the procession carried on to the Cathedral.

The caskets were taken to St. Mary’s Church in “October 6” district, where they laid beside the 12 Copts who died in Embaba, defending their Church against Salafist attacks on May 7, 2011 (AINA 5-8-2011).

On their way back after the burial ,the mourners were attacked by armed thugs who blocked the way and hurled Molotov cocktails at them; gun shots were heard. They sought shelter and called the army emergency phone line for help, they waited until the morning but no one came.

The Coptic Church considers people who lost their lives on account of being Christian as “martyrs” and they will be buried together in a collective grave.

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Giza Bishop: No Law or Justice

(ANSAmed) — VATICAN CITY, OCTOBER 10 — “Christians ask only to be able to live peacefully in their country. I must also say that, along with Christian demonstrators, there were also Muslims demanding the right of Christians to live in peace and not to see their churches burned down or destroyed”. If the police “had taken up a position against those who destroyed the churches, we would not have reached this situation”. These are some of the comments made by the Catholic Bishop of Giza, Antonios Aziz Mina, who has been speaking to Radio Vaticana.

“Sadly, these criminals who destroyed the church were not confronted by any authority forbidding them from carrying out such an act or bring them to justice,” the Bishop said. “When they attacked the church and destroyed it, the government and the army attempted to bring peace to both sides and to rebuild the church with army funds. But this is not the solution! Things must be done according to the law: those who do wrong pay the price”.

For Christians in Egypt, Monsignor Aziz Mina added, “more than fear, there are concerns for the future: we do not know where we will go, because if we go on like this, there is no law, no justice. While the first element of a stable state is that of being able to live under the umbrella of law”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Anti-Copt Violence, Consequence of 30 Years of Bad Policies, Said Catholic Priest

The military is incapable of dealing with the situation. Egyptian Catholic Church spokesman appeals to Western government to prevent the country’s implosion and a drift towards fundamentalism.

Cairo (AsiaNews) — “Clashes between Coptic demonstrators and soldiers yesterday are the consequence of 30 years of policies based on repression and security. without laws favourable to society and education, tensions will continue to rise,” said Fr Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church. In an interview with AsiaNews, he called on Western nations to prevent Egypt from imploding.

For the clergyman, Egypt’s military is doing nothing to find a solution to the conflict pitting Copts against Muslims, which is largely a function of vague laws on religious buildings. “In small villages, there are many fundamentalists, and the rivalry with Christians is very strong,” Fr Greiche said. “De facto, there is no law regulating the construction of places of worship, and whatever little that does exist complicates matters. Everyone wants to apply them as they wish.”

Today, the ruling military Supreme Council is holding an emergency meeting to shed light on what led to yesterday’s violence, which left 36 people dead and 220 wounded.

In urging the population to remain calm, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf warned that Egypt was in “danger”. In his view, a conspiracy is trying to bring chaos to the country.

However, the “military are still acting like policemen,” Fr Greiche said. Sharaf’s words say nothing about how to solve the problem. “Like under Mubarak, rulers care only about keeping people quiet. Egyptians however are afraid about the future and fear that no one may be able to resolve the situation,” he added.

Unless people receive an education centred on coexistence and the common good, the Arab spring will prove useless. “In the past,” the priest explained, “no one cared about training young people in how to put into practice social policies. They all thought about their own careers. Few changes came from abroad.”

In addition to the social tensions between Christians and Muslims that have long plagued Egyptian society, now there is fear that the country might drift towards fundamentalism if the Muslim Brotherhood wins in November’s elections.

“Copts’ demonstration will not stop,” Fr Greiche noted. “They want to show everyone that they are an important minority and that they cannot be kept out of the new Egypt’s political life.”

Lastly, the priest has a plea for the international community, which is doing nothing tangible to help Arab countries, except to confirm existing economic agreements signed with the old regimes.

“Europe and Western nations are afraid of intervening,” he said. “They respect the will of the existing government, but that is stupid. The world has become a small village. Instability in the Middle East and anti-Christian hatred can easily spread to Europe. No country is immune from this danger.” (S.C.)

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

Egypt Protests: Government Faces Accusations of Deliberately Encouraging Sectarian Hatred

Egypt’s military leaders are under intense international pressure to explain the deaths of more than 20 Christian protesters after the army was accused of deliberately fostering sectarian hatred to disguise a power grab.

Video footage and independent testimony that emerged on Monday called into question army claims that its soldiers acted in self-defence when they killed 26 protesters, the vast majority of them Christian Copts, in central Cairo on Sunday evening. Although Coptic protesters threw stones at soldiers during the confrontation, a number of witnesses, many of them Muslim, claimed that the army’s response was either wholly unwarranted or grotesquely disproportionate. A number of the dead were crushed to death by an armoured car that ploughed into a group of protesters as they sang hymns and held aloft the Cross, according to several accounts that were given additional credence by the condition of several corpses in a Coptic mortuary.

The soldiers were also accused of opening fire at the protesters, prompting accusations that orders had been given to kill without discrimination. Coptic leaders yesterday called on their followers to observe a three-day fast, but in many parts of Egypt’s Christian community, mourning has already given way to anger. Senior clergymen pointed to the fact that the army had worked in tandem with a rabble of plainclothes men of unknown provenance to attack Christian protesters as evidence of a plot against the religious minority.

“We are accusing the army and the police who used vagabonds, a rabble force of street fighters, to attack the demonstrators,” Fr Rafic Greiche, official spokesman for the Catholic Church in Egypt said in a statement said to the charity Aid to the Church in Need. “They were armed with swords, sticks and stones — some of them had rifles it seems. They did not have to use force. It was a peaceful demonstration.” Copts who participated in the protests claimed that the amy was deliberately trying to demonise the community as violent agitators in order to provide justification for remaining in power. “This is not about Muslim-Christian hatred, it is about the army trying to start a civil conflict for its own reasons, and we all know what those reasons are,” said a protester who would only give her name as Mariam.

Claims that the army was trying to discredit Egypt’s Copts, which account for ten per cent of the country’s 80 million people, were given weight by state television’s coverage of the protests. News readers put out appeals for “honest Egyptians” to rush to the scene of the violence to protect the soldiers against Christian “mobs”, while soldiers were shown denouncing the Copts as “sons of dogs”. Observers suggested that the army could be trying to deflect growing anger from the military leadership towards the Christian minority, which has long suffered from persecution and violent attacks by Islamist radicals.

The violence came amid accusations that Egypt’s generals, who took charge after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in February, are deliberately delaying the country’s transition to a civilian democracy. They have unveiled plans that effectively postpone presidential elections, which the opposition wants held next April, until the end of next year or early 2013. The repeated delays have convinced a growing number in the protest movement behind Mr Mubarak’s downfall that they have swapped the rule of a tyrant for an incipient military dictatorship. Increasingly, calls for the army’s overthrow are being heard on the streets, increasing the pressure on the generals to deflect public anger towards other targets such as the Christians.

Western politicians denounced Sunday’s violence as unacceptable. “It’s very important that the Egyptian authorities reaffirm freedom of worship in Egypt,” William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said. But, although it called for an investigation, Egypt’s interim civilian administration chose to employ the tactics of the Mubarak regime by blaming the violence on a “foreign” plot designed to cause the “fall and fragmentation of the state”. Opposition leaders, while choosing not to lay the blame for the clashes on the army, warned that a repeat of Sunday’s violence could have catastrophic consequences for Egypt. “This is a huge crisis that could end in a civil clash,” said Amr Moussa, a leading contender for the presidency. “An immediate investigation committee must be formed with immediate results.” Although there was no repeat of Sunday’s violence, Christian protests were reported in a number of Egyptian cities and towns on Monday.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood, ‘Wrong Time’ For Copt Protests

(ANSAmed) — ROME — In a statement released yesterday reported by the Egyptian online press, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (in the photo the Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie) criticised protests by Coptic Christians on Sunday night which ended in a bloodbath in Cairo, saying that “it was the wrong time” to protest. The statement went on to urge Christians to wait for the elections scheduled for November to produce “an elected civilian government”. While denouncing that “internal and external” forces are trying to cause the revolution to fail, the powerful group stated that “legitimate demands have their channels, methods and timeframes” and that “the entire Egyptian population has demands, not just the Copts”.

Therefore “it was the wrong time to make these demands”. The Muslim Brotherhood added: we have “a transitional government and the general circumstances are not ‘normal’, therefore good sense calls for patience”. The “injustices” denounced by Copts should be attributed “to the toppled regime” of Hosni Mubarak, and they “affect Muslims, too”. The brotherhood urged Christians to wait for elections, scheduled to take place on November 28, and for the installations of an “elected civilian government”. Regarding the elections, they also underlined that no one should be allowed to postpone “free elections in Egypt”. Legal again after 50 years (they were banned during the presidency of Gamal Abdel Nasser), the Muslim Brotherhood founded the ‘Freedom and Justice Party’ and aims to win half of the 498 seats in the People’s Assembly, the Lower House of Egyptian Parliament.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

Morrocans Mosque Imams Protest Tight Government Controls on Preaching

RABAT, Morocco — Dozens of preachers from mosques across Morocco protested Monday in the capital over tight controls on their preaching, the first time such a demonstration has been allowed to go forward. The small protest was significant because Morocco keeps a very close watch on the nation’s mosques to guard against extremist thought like that of al-Qaida. Imams are given prepared sermons to read during weekly Friday prayers and are not permitted to deviate from the text.

Police attempted to disperse the protest in front of the parliament, tussling with the imams and briefly detaining three of them. The protest of around 50 imams dressed in traditional long robes and skull caps was eventually allowed to proceed away from the parliament on Rabat’s main boulevard. “The imams of the mosques demand freedom, dignity, justice and their full rights,” said one of the banners held by the protesters. Protests by imams are unprecedented in this North African kingdom, where King Mohammed VI is the final arbiter on all matters of religion in the country.

Imams attempted to protest in June and were quickly attacked and dispersed by police, shocking many in this country of 32 million. “We want liberty and dignity,” said Ait Lashgar Hussein, a preacher for the last 28 years in the city of Marrakech. “I am just demanding my rights.” Many of the imams say they have been threatened and intimidated by police since the June attempted demonstration. The imams said their demands included higher salaries, permission to give their own sermons and to be consulted on matters of religion and law.

The king’s preeminent role in religious affairs is enshrined in the new constitution and is seen as a bulwark against the extremist thought found elsewhere in North Africa. The protesters also carried a Moroccan flag and pictures of the king to show their support. They blamed the minister of religious affairs for their dissatisfaction.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Elections: Tension Sky-High in the Country

(ANSAmed) — Tension is giving way to fear in Tunisia, where demonstrations and protests are being held daily, where the most trifling of motives can lead to an outpouring that spreads fear of the return of the days of the “revolution”, when those who risked their lives to demand passionately the end of the dictatorship found themselves in close proximity with those who even then were writing demands in the blank ink of religious hatred and animated by the simple possibility of stealing. Sunday’s clashes between young fundamentalists and police were triggered by the broadcast of the film “Persepolis”, the Iranian manifesto of democracy and reform, on Nessma TV, which, in order to ensure its full comprehension by a local audience, had the film dubbed in Tunisian dialect. This proved too much for members of Ettahrir, a party that has been banned for its declared desire to turn Tunisia into an Islamic state and even a caliphate.

The explosion of violence had a religious edge, but also a social one, as when the “barbus” were forced to retreat by police charges from a university campus to the entrance of a mosque, they were joined by a groups of youths from a nearby working-class area of the city, who threw rocks at police, causing the latter to find themselves under fire from both sides.

So with religious demands on one side, and those of people demanding a social renaissance on the other, in the middle is a state that seems not to know how to respond other than with force. But the Tunisia of recent days, which is edging closer to the vote for the Constituent Assembly, is a tinderbox on other fronts too. One example is the rejection of the niqab in universities supported by secular students, and attempts by fundamentalists to oppose the stance with force and threats.

There is also the fear that the vote and the potential tensions between parties could bring the return to the streets of the “casseurs”, the thousands of youths who laid waste to the city in January, looting and sacking. Evidence of these fears is apparent in the supermarkets, where shelves are beginning to empty, with water and long-lasting milk the main elements being hoarded by customers. When bottles and milk cartons run out, physical clashes even break out, or, when customers are acting together, there are protests against the supermarkets, whose managers find themselves in great danger, as occurred in a Carrefour store in La Fayette. The government is moving to rectify the situation (50 million litres of mineral water are due to arrive from Italy) but little can be done against collective hysteria.

The situation is also significantly influenced by the war in Libya, where lorries are heading, paradoxically, laden with water and milk, which are being sold across the border like gold dust, and as a result gradually disappearing from Tunisia.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Israel Demolishes Mosque in Jordan Valley

West Bank, (Pal Telegraph)-Israeli occupation forces early Tuesday demolished a mosque for the third time in the area of Khirbet Irza in Wadi El-Maleh, north of the Jordan Valley.

According to head of Wadi Al-Maleh village council, Aref Daraghma, more than five Israeli troops accompanied by military bulldozer demolished today at morning a 60-square-meter mosque built by Palestinian residents. He pointed out that Israeli authorities issued a demolition order to the mosque for the third time under the pretext of being built in a prohibited area. It is noteworthy that Israel used to demolish Muslims’ mosques in the occupied West Bank as part of its unfair plan that aims to annex the area to its settlements.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Israeli Prisons Are Worse Than Auschwitzes of the Nazis, Says PA

A Palestinian Authority deputy minister has accused Israel of having worse prison conditions than “the Auschwitzes of the Nazis.” Ziad Abu Ein belittled the Holocaust by using the term “the Auschwitzes” three times in two sentences during his PA TV interview.

The PA as policy repeatedly compares Israel to the Nazis, and continuously reiterates the libel that Israel performs medical experiments and tortures Palestinian prisoners. Palestinian Media Watch reported in May that the PA accused Israel of doing Mengele-like experiments on imprisoned Palestinians. (See this and additional examples below.)

The following is PA Deputy Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Ziad Abu Ein’s statement that Israeli prisons were worse than “the Auschwitzes of the Nazis”:

“Israel forgets that we are now in the 21st century and that the conditions of our Palestinian prisoners are worse than the Auschwitzes of the Nazis, where Jewish detainees were held. If we return to the pictures of the Auschwitzes, how [Jews] were on beds and so on in the Auschwitzes — in our case, the beds were only introduced in the 1990s, and it was [only] a metal bed.”

[PA TV (Fatah), Oct. 6, 2011]

Contrary to this accusation, a released Palestinian prisoner stated last year that the prisoners in Israeli prisons “lack nothing,” and the official PA daily likewise described in detail how Palestinian prisoners are allowed to study while serving time, reporting that “prisoners in occupation prisons complete university studies and obtain MA and Ph.D. degrees.” (See full texts below.)

           — Hat tip: J-PD [Return to headlines]

Israel to Release 1,000 Palestinian Prisoners Including Marwan Barghouti

Deal will reportedly include release of most notorious Palestinian terrorists, including former head of the Fatah Tanzim Marwan Barghouti; 450 prisoners would be freed as Shalit would be released in 1st phase while remaining 550 would be freed upon Shalit’s return home

           — Hat tip: KGS [Return to headlines]

Netanyahu Announces Deal to Free Shalit

JERUSALEM — Israel and Hamas have reached a tentative agreement on a proposal to exchange Palestinian prisoners for an Israeli soldier held captive for more than five years, both sides said Tuesday. The Israeli cabinet was meeting in emergency session to discuss it.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who summoned all 29 Cabinet ministers to vote on the agreement concerning the fate of the captive soldier, Staff. Sgt. Gilad Shalit, went on Israeli television beforehand to announce it, a sign that he was confident of Cabinet approval.

“If all goes according to plan, Gilad will be returning to Israel in the coming days,” Mr. Netanyahu said.

[Return to headlines]

‘Occupation Forces Trying to Change Historical Sites’

MUSCAT The holy shrines of Palestine, particularly the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of Rock, are part of the faith of Muslims wherever they live on earth, according to Sheikh Yousef A’dees Isamiel Al Shaikh, Chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council of the Sharia Judiciary of Palestine. The occupation forces are trying to change the historical facts through excavations at these sites, he said in his lecture on ‘Excavation under the foundations of the Al Aqsa Mosque’, at the Grand Mosque, on Monday. He appreciated the support from Oman for the Palestinian cause and said he met ministers and senior officials in Muscat to express Palestine’s gratitude to the Omani leadership.

Yousef A’dees, who is also acting supreme judge of Palestine, said Palestinians in Israeli prison were challenging the occupation and making great sacrifices for liberation of Palestine, which includes Al Aqsa Mosque. He said Palestinians are confident that one day the occupation would be defeated. He said Palestine faced conspiracies, beginning with the policies of Britain which led to the recognition of Israel. He said the Palestinians are struggling against the occupation and for recognition of their state. He said the occupation forces changed many Islamic and historic places in Al Quds city and renamed them, and built walls to separate Palestinians from basic facilities of hospitals, schools and colleges. Palestine and Al Quds in particular are targets of the aggression against civilisation and history, he added. He called upon the international community to look into the Palestinian cause not just as a cause of people of the land. Al Aqsa belongs to the Islamic faith and every effort to liberate it from Jewish and Zionist forces has the support of all Muslims, wherever they live, he added.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Feeding the Masses: German Firm to Assess Catering Project for Mecca Pilgrims

This is one bid that could spice up anyone’s portfolio. The German service provider Dussmann has signed a multi-million euro contract with a Saudi Arabian company to examine the feasibility of a new catering facility for religious pilgrims in the desert state.

It’s uncharted territory for the Dussmann Group, a company that has in the past limited itself to less exotic endeavors like building sanitation, providing security or the administration of retirement homes. Having finalized a consulting contract with the Saudi company Hijaz Catering Co. Ltd., the Germans have been asked to conduct a “feasibility study” on the planning, construction and operation of a new production facility to provide meals for religious pilgrims to the Muslim holy city of Mecca and bolster Hijaz’s foothold in the catering business.

Named after the region in the Saudi kingdom that is home to the two holiest cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina, Hijaz gets a lot of its business from the millions of pilgrims that flock to the Gulf state every year. Known as the hajj, the annual pilgrimage must be made by every able-bodied Muslim at least once in their lifetime. Traveling thousands of miles in some cases, pilgrims from around 138 countries circle the great stone monument, the Kaaba, seven times during their visit to Mecca’s Grand Mosque. The Hijaz caterers have been providing Mecca’s devout visitors with halal cuisine, or meals prepared according to Islamic law, for nearly a century. They supply malls, schools and hospitals, restaurants and private parties. Now they are looking to expand.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

Hatred of Arabs Deeply Rooted in Persians, Says Iranian Intellectual

The relationship between Arabs and Persians has always been a source of controversy, not only owing to the contemporary power struggle in the region, but also because of a long history of rivalry that formed an integral part of the national psyche of both people. Iranian intellectual Sadek Zibakalam provides deep insight into the different levels of this enduring animosity. “I think the majority of Iranians of all types hate Arabs, and I believe they hate us, too,” Sadek Zibakalam, who is also a professor at the University of Tehran, said in an interview with the Iranian weekly Sobh Azade.

Zibakalam said there is a link between racism and a lack of education, and pointed out that this is the case in Europe, where people who express hatred against Jews or Muslims or foreigners are mostly uneducated. However, the situation tends to be different in Iran. “The phenomenon of hating Arabs is very common among intellectuals in Iran,” he said. He added that religious people also frequently express their resentment of Arabs, which usually comes in the form of curses directed at Sunnis.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Arab Brutality in the Name of Islam

Last Friday eight Bangladeshis were beheaded at the (In) Justice square of Riyadh for their alleged killing of an Egyptian and looting a ware house. Amnesty international claims that the Egyptian was killed during a clash between those eight Bangladeshi construction workers and another group of people, and that the clash started when the Bengali workers tried to stop the other group from robbing electrical wires from the construction site. Any of the above two versions of that fateful day could be right.

The brutal Friday beheading was carried out according to the Shariah law of Arab kingdom but the accused Bangladeshis were denied the right of their defense. Ironically, this same Shariah law has been seen to be flexible in case of allegations against US, UK or Canadian citizens, in which case such capital offences are usually settled with blood money, connection or diplomacy. Many such reported and recorded incidents prove that the so-called Shariah law is not exercised in a neutral manner and is quite susceptible to nepotism. In the name of Islam the Saudi royal elite enjoys this kind of cannibalism even in the 21st century, while the rest of the world turns a blind eye to it. This also explains why the wave of Arab Spring has not been able to hit the (In) Justice square of Riyadh.

Such human slaughtering can be seen replicated by Islamic radicals in other countries. When the western society is shifting from capital to humane punishment, the Muslim holy land continues with its biased justice system that denies the poor their right to legal defense. Conservative Muslim elites of Arab justify this primitive behavior as a necessary deterrence against rampant crime. But statistics in Arab countries show no decline in the rate of crimes; and all this while citizens of rich countries easily circumvent the Arab law by means of wealth and influence. Any interpretation of the Shariah law that presents itself as biased and capitalist must be challenged as a crime against humanity.

The weakness of Bangladeshi diplomats has once again been exposed for they failed to defend the case of their eight beheaded countrymen. The ambassador should be asked to clarify this failure. Almost two million workers are earning remittance for Bangladesh with their hard work in Arab countries. Our embassy is there to look after the welfare of our workers. If they fail to perform, then why should we sign their salary cheques with the blood of eight ordinary citizens of Bangladesh?

Riyadh has appeared hostile towards Dhaka ever since the liberation war of ‘71. It only recognized Dhaka after the killing of Bangabandhu, and has been providing refuge to our war criminals till date. UAE is known to sponsor Moududi and Wahabi radicals in Bangladesh, only so that it can retain its free-port crown. In these countries themselves, domestic violence against women is kept hidden under the garb of male chauvinistic interpretation of religion. Workers from poor countries are treated as slaves, while female migrant workers are often abused by the rich natives. The sanctity of Arab land has been repeatedly abused by its feudal rulers and their crimes against humanity have come to over-shadow the glory of Islam. They are nothing but a bunch of exploiters who run private harems, but try to teach ethics to the world by beheading the poor.

Which Islam would approve of such uncouth discrimination between a rich Canadian and eight poor Bangladeshis? Beheading poor people publicly and releasing rich people secretly, portrays double standards even in the practice of religion. That too in a country of the Holy Kaaba, where Muslims from across the world go for Hajj. This is the very state that earns millions from religious pilgrimages every year.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Riyadh: Colombian Footballer Arrested Over Tattoo of Christ’s Face

Juan Pablo Pino was detained by religious police, for wearing a sleeveless shirt in a mall that revealed a tattoo of Jesus on his arm. He palys in the An-Nasr team. His coach before the game:”I can not make the sign of the cross, they would kill me.”

Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) — On Oct. 7 Saudi Arabia’s religious police arrested a Colombian soccer player in a shopping mall in the capital because it had a tattoo with the face of Christ on his arm. Juan Pablo Pino, 24, who plays in the An-Nasr (victory) team was wearing a sleeveless shirt while walking with his young pregnant wife in a shopping mall in Riyadh.

The tattoo on his left shoulder led to the insults of some local Muslims, and the incident attracted the attention of the so-called “police for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice,” who stopped the couple. According to local newspapers, the agents “put the player and his wife in a car and took them to the police station.” Soon after, they contacted the leaders of the football club. “Pino and his wife were handed over to them” ..

Immediately afterwards the football club released a statement, attributed to the player, where Juan Pablo Pino expressed his “deep sadness” over the incident and certified that it was not his intention to violate the laws of the country. The communiqué adds that the player was in the mall “to buy Muslim clothes for his wife, so that she can go out in public dressed in a respectful manner.” The player’s wife, however, according to a report in the newspaper “As-Sharq” is distressed, and she and her husband would want them to leave Saudi Arabia. The newspaper said that the club has asked the coach, the Argentine Gustavo Costas, and Juan Pablo Pino, trying to convince her to change her mind.

In September El Comercio, a newspaper in Lima, published an interview with Gustavo Costas about his new life (previously he coached the team Alianza Lim). In Lima he made the sign of the cross before every game, and wore a rosary around his neck. “Now I can not do this in public, I do it in the locker room. If I made the sign of the cross, they would kill me, stone me, “said Costas. Last year, the Romanian player Mirel Radoi, from the club Al-Hilal (the crescent) kissed the cross tattoo on his arm after scoring a goal. The episode scandalised Muslims.

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

South Asia

Indonesia: The Islamic Hardcore

October 11, 2011: The government is under growing pressure to ban Hizbut Tahrir, a half century old organization dedicated to creating a global Islamic dictatorship. Banned in most Middle Eastern countries, Hizbut Tahrir has avoided that in most other countries by avoiding violence. Instead, Hizbut Tahrir concentrates on recruiting and demonstrations. But Hizbut Tahrir believes in terrorism and armed rebellion eventually, and that’s what got Indonesian officials concerned.

Hizbut Tahrir is but one of the largest of several Islamic groups resisting change. There are growing demonstrations against shopping malls (in part because these put existing merchants out of business) and karaoke bars (because men and women party together.) This sort of thing is worst in Aceh. Despite years of effort, only one (of 33) provinces (Aceh) has adopted Sharia (Islamic) law. This has resulted in teams of men acting as lifestyle police, and looking for couples displaying affection, or women who are not covered up, or men who are drinking or gambling in Aceh. Sharia is more of a hassle for women than men, and was instituted mainly to deal with corruption. But the usual suspects were able to bribe the Sharia judges as easily as their predecessors. So the only victims are people caught kissing in public, or women wearing tight jeans, and no scarf on their heads. This has further discredited Islamic conservatives, and those who advocate Islamic terrorism as a tool for positive change. But as part of the peace deal with determined Aceh rebels, Sharia is the law in Aceh, and Islamic conservatives are becoming more active enforcing the rules on Moslems and non-Moslems (who are not supposed to be subject to these rules.)

Islamic radicals tried to gain public enthusiasm for Sharia by claiming that Islamic law would deal with corruption and the spread of AIDs. But most voters are not impressed, and still see Islamic radicals as, for the most part, a source of Islamic terrorism. This kind of violence is very unpopular with most Indonesians, and that makes it very difficult for Islamic terrorists to recruit, much less operate, in the country. Those who have fled to Malaysia and the Philippines have found equally toxic conditions. But the core Islamic radicals will not stop. Islam has long tolerated these radicals, and that’s part of the problem.

An example of this can be seen in the Maluku Islands. The government is being criticized for doing nothing about police reluctance to crack down on Islamic militant violence in the Malukus. Violence here is not just religious, but also ethnic. The Melanesians of Maluku are largely Christian, while the Malay migrants from other parts of Indonesians are Moslem. Islamic radicals gain a little more traction in the Maluku islands, because it gives the local Malays another weapon in their efforts to dominate the Melanesians (who the Malays tend to look down on as a bunch of savages). Religious violence is often not just about religion. The police are mainly Malay and Moslem, and they tend to take sides.

October 10, 2011: In Papua, hundreds of local mine employees clashed with police. One of the miners was shot dead and five others wounded. The strikers are local Melanesians (culturally very different from the Malays who comprise most of the country’s population). The gold/copper mine is the largest in the country and the single largest source of revenue for the government. The miners want a large (ten times or more) wage increase (to $17.50-$43 an hour). But most of the miners also want independence for Papua (the western half of New Guinea Island.) About 90 percent of the 12,000 miners are on strike and the violence was mainly about strikers preventing management from bringing in new workers.

October 8, 2011: Police announced the arrest of five men responsible for an April 15 suicide bombing of a mosque used by police and a September 25 attack on a church. Those arrested are members of JAT (Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid) an Islamic radical group founded three years ago by jailed (for terrorism) cleric Abu Bakar Bashir. Those arrested are accused of planning new attacks.

October 3, 2011: Police arrested a suspected Islamic terrorist, and accused him of participating in the bombing of a church last month.

September 29, 2011: The Islamic suicide bomber who attacked a church on the 25th, belonged to JAT.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Java Church Reports Local Officials for Disrupting Religious Freedom

Bogor, 11 Oct. (AKI/Jakarta) — Representatives from a Protestant church on Java have reported local officials to police for allegedly attempting to remove worshippers holding a Sunday service in a Bogor street.

“So far we have questioned five witnesses,” Bogor Police crimes division chief Iman Imanudin said.

The chief of Bogor Public Order Office Bambang Budiyanto hit back and reported the Taman Yasmin Indonesian Protestant Church to police after he was allegedly hit from behind during Sunday’s operation.

Pope Benedict XVI last Friday appealed for religious freedom and tolerance for minority Christians in Indonesia, where Muslim extremists have carried out attacks on churches, opposed their construction and tried to shut them down.

Muslims form 86.1 percent of the population , protestants 5.7 percent, Roman Catholic 3 percent, Hindus 1.8 and other religions 3.4 percent of the population in the ethnically diverse nation of 245.6 million people, according to the last census in 2000.

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

Not a Single Christian Church Left in Afghanistan

There is not a single, public Christian church left in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. State Department. This reflects the state of religious freedom in that country ten years after the United States first invaded it and overthrew its Islamist Taliban regime. In the intervening decade, U.S. taxpayers have spent $440 billion to support Afghanistan’s new government and more than 1,700 U.S. military personnel have died serving in that country. The last public Christian church in Afghanistan was razed in March 2010.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

First Carbon Bill Passes Lower House

THE federal government’s carbon pricing package has passed its first hurdle to becoming law.

The lower house held an initial vote on the Clean Energy Future Bill 2011 plus 17 associated bills today evening.

Labor won the vote 74-73.

The government was supported on the carbon tax legislation by Australian Greens MP Adam Bandt and independents Rob Oakeshott, Andrew Wilkie and Tony Windsor.

The four also voted with Labor on the steel bill, alongside Queensland independent Bob Katter.

The House of Representatives will now consider amendments to the 19 bills.

These include amendments proposed by the government, the coalition and West Australian Nationals MP Tony Crook.

A final lower house vote on the bills will be held tomorrow morning.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria: Soldier, Other Die as Explosions Rock Maiduguri

AT least two persons were killed yesterday after two bombs exploded in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. The bombs were allegedly detonated by suspected members of the Boko Haram sect. One of the explosions which occurred near the After-Hour Market killed a soldier, according to the spokesman to the Joint Military Task Force (JTF), Victor Ebhaleme.

A civilian also died at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), a mortuary attendant claimed. Another blast about 16 kilometres away had Sunday afternoon injured one person and destroyed a patrol vehicle parked in front of a Mosque, Ebhaleme said. The JTF spokesman said two other soldiers were injured during yesterday’s explosion. A witness, who did not identify himself for fear of reprisals, alleged the military burned down several shops at the market after accusing traders of allowing the Boko Haram members to hide bombs in their stalls. Ebhaleme said some residents had been “harbouring suspects”, but he denied the claims that the shops were torched by soldiers.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Somalia: Special Forces Free Crew of Pirated Cargo Ship

Rome, 11 Oct. (AKI) — British and American special forces on Tuesday stormed an Italian-registered cargo ship one day after it was seized by pirates off the Somali coast, freeing the 23 hostages and arresting eleven pirates.

Armed pirates on Monday hjijacked the Montecristo 1,000 kilometres off the Somali coast along with its crew which included people from Italy, Ukraine and India.

The crew was uninjured during Monday’s hijacking and the subsequent rescue after locking itself in a panic room, according to the Italian foreign ministry.

“The crew is free and safe after finding refuge in an armoured area of the vessel,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that the Nato-coordinated rescue was directed by Italian admiral Gualtiero Mattesi.

The ship was carrying seven Italians, six Ukranians and 10 Indians.

The Montecristo was transporting scrap iron to Vietnam on a journey that began on 20 September in Liverpool, England, according to ship owner, Livorno, Italy-based D’Alessio Group.

Earlier Tuesday, Italian defence minister Ignazio La Russa said that armed troops could be deployed on vessels to deter pirates. The cost would be reimbursed by the ship owners, he said.

Piracy is a leading source of revenue in war-torn Somalia.

The United Nations estimates the annual cost of piracy in the Indian Ocean at between 5 billion and 7 billion dollars.

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


Netherlands: PvdA Blames Immigration on Rightwing Parties

THE HAGUE, 12/10/11 — The mass immigration of Turks and Moroccans was the result of rightwing policy, and it is also the rightwing parties that are now responsible an influx of badly-integrated East Europeans, declares Labour (PvdA) MP Martijn van Dam.

“Fifty years after the wave of ‘guest-workers’, a flood of East Europeans is currently underway. Contrary to what people came to believe, the migration wave of the 1960s was not leftwing but actually rightwing policy,” Van Dam wrote yesterday in an opinion article in De Volkskrant newspaper.

“Fifty years later, the rightwing shows it has learned nothing. Once again, the right wants to encourage immigration on the underside of the labour market, without wanting to invest in integration. It is shocking how history repeats itself.”

In recent years, the Party for Freedom (PVV) has succeeded in blaming the socialists for the immigration of the 1960s, says the PvdA MP. “For too long, leftwing politicians like myself have left these allegations uncontested. We found a discussion on whose ‘fault’ it is that people are living here extremely tasteless. That we should not have done. If you leave allegations uncontested, people take them to be true. But they are not true. Large-scale immigration was and is the consequence of rightwing policy.”

Van Dam is concerned about the inflow of East Europeans in the Netherlands. “In five years time, 200,000 to 300,000 came here. In The Hague, more East Europeans than Moroccans are already living there.” According to Van Dam, parties like the conservatives (VVD) and Christian democrats (CDA) nonetheless want “open borders again and generous allocations of work permits to Bulgarians and Romanians.”

“Being cautious with immigration and working hard on integration, with respect and decency regarding the people concerned: If we do not do this, then we will again be stuck with a gigantic integration problem in thirty years’ time.”

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

UK: Immigrants Must Pass Test on British History, Says David Cameron

Migrants wanting British citizenship must finally learn about the country’s proud history after David Cameron yesterday pledged to close a farcical loophole.

The so-called Citizenship Test will now include questions on topics such as Winston Churchill, the Magna Carta and the English Civil War for the first time in six years, while questions on the EU and migrant worker rights will be binned. It came as the Prime Minister urged the public to “shop an illegal immigrant” by alerting Crimestoppers to those they suspect of being in the country unlawfully. He said it was time to “reclaim our borders and send illegal immigrants home”. In a wide-ranging speech on immigration, Mr Cameron also vowed to make it easier for registrars to stop suspected bogus marriages and a crack down on health tourists who run up huge NHS bills then leave the UK without paying.

The Citizenship Test was introduced in 2005 to ensure migrants who wanted to become Britons had sufficient knowledge of the country they were settling in. But it faced criticism from the outset because despite candidates being asked to read a chapter on the country’s history they were told they would not be tested on it. Instead they were quizzed on topics such as the make-up of the European Union, how to claim benefits and even how to buy a round in a pub. But in a speech in London yesterday, Mr Cameron said citizenship should be a “big deal” and promised to change the test.

“There’s a whole chapter in the Citizenship handbook on British history but incredibly there are no questions on British history in the actual test. Instead you’ll find questions on the roles and powers of the main institutions of Europe and the benefits system within the UK. So we are going to revise the whole test and put British history and culture at the heart of it.” It means future candidates will be tested on the Roman Conquest, Boadicea, the Norman Conquest, Magna Carta and King John, the Wars of Roses, Elizabeth 1, English Civil War, the Battle of Britain, Churchill and how we ‘encouraged a national spirit of resistance in UK’ in World War Two. They are likely to replace questions on the EU, the operation of the single market and its administration by member states and EU citizens and their work and travel rights and restrictions.

Mr Cameron also pledged more action on tracking down illegal immigrants and called on the public to play their part. “I want everyone in the country to help,” he said, “Including by reporting suspected illegal immigrants to our Border Agency through the Crimestoppers phone line or through the Border Agency website. Together we will reclaim our borders and send illegal immigrants home.”

In other moves, migrants who marry a Briton will still have to wait five years for settlements rights, instead of the current two. And there will be an end to the “ridiculous situation where a registrar who knows a marriage is a sham still has to perform the ceremony”. In a related move, the Home Office yesterday announced health tourists who have failed to pay debts of £1,000 or more will be banned from entering or staying in the UK. It is estimated around 3,600 people a year incur such a bill and an investigation by The Daily Telegraph last month suggested the total outstanding could be as high as £60 million.

In his speech, Mr Cameron also signalled that forcing someone to marry against their will could become a criminal offence. He said he was making it illegal to breach an order issued by the courts to prevent a forced marriage and has asked Home Secretary Theresa May to consult on whether the practice should be criminalised. And the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has been asked to consider whether the minimum level of financial support for those sponsoring someone arriving on a family visa should be higher than £20,000 and whether a “bond” from migrants could be demanded in some cases. However, Labour accused Mr Cameron of dropping plans trailed just this weekend that companies could be required to public list of foreign employees. Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, said: “Another week, another rewritten speech from the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister can’t even keep his pledges overnight and ill thought out promises like this erode trust in the Government’s approach to immigration. “

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

UK: Creationism Attack Under UK Muslim Fire

LONDON — Muslim groups in Britain have sharply criticized an atheist professor who attacked Muslim faith schools for teaching creationsim for their students. “Faith schools are by and large established to enforce the religious teachings of our lives, and the theory of creation is one of the cornerstones of our faith,” Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra, from the Muslim Council of Britain, told the BBC.

“To expect faith schools not to teach this kind of religious teaching is unreasonable, but I also think it is important for faith schools to teach science to children as well so they are aware of modern day findings and can use the information to ask further questions and strengthen their faith. I don’t believe any religious teaching prevents people from being creative and independent in their thinking.”

The uproar erupted after atheist professor Richard Dawkins attacked Muslim faith schools for filling children’s head with “alien rubbish” of creationism. In the Times Educational Supplement (TES), the Oxford author said they had a “pernicious influence” that is “utterly deplorable” on the minds of young people. “Occasionally, my colleagues lecturing in universities lament having undergraduate students walk out of their classes when they talk about evolution — this is almost entirely Muslims,” Dawkins said.

“So I think there’s a very, very pernicious influence that is lasting up to the university years. That must be coming from certain schools,” the author of The God Delusion, emeritus fellow of New College and evolutionary biologist, added. But Naomi Phillips, from the British Humanist Association, hit back at the atheist professor, saying that creationism is taught not only in Muslim but Christian schools too. There are a number of problems that go throughout faith schools but I wouldn’t say it’s just Muslim schools, it’s also Christian schools too,” Phillips said.

Over the past few years, the numbers of non-believers have been noticeably increasing in Europe and US. A 2005 survey published in Encyclopedia Britannica put non-believers at about 11.9 percent of the world’s population. An official European Union survey recently said that 18 percent of the bloc’s population do not believe in God. The Washington Post reported in September that atheist movements were growing across Europe, lobbying hard for political clout and airtime.

Impressive Results

Criticizing Dawkins’ theories about Muslim faith schools, British Muslims said those schools have managed to achieve impressive results in both math and science. “The results of Muslim faith schools in England in maths and science show a strong compatibility between the Muslim faith and scientific learning,” an MCB spokesman told the BBC. The chairman of Muslims4UK, Inayat Bunglawala, said it was “important faith groups came to terms with evolution” and taught it in a fair manner. “I don’t think students growing up today are served well by being taught this way by religious leaders. “It’s symbolic and it makes no sense to take it so literally — it will only serve to undermine the faith of students when the two schools of thought could be understood side by side.”

Britain has a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.0 million Muslims, mainly of Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian origin. About 7,000 state schools in the UK are faith schools — roughly one in three of the total — educating 1.7 million pupils. Of the 590 faith-based secondary schools five are Jewish, two Muslim and one Sikh — the rest are Church of England, Roman Catholic and other Christian faiths. Last April 2011, Darul Uloom Islamic College boys’ school drew praise for its excellence in combining religious and secular studies while helping develop its students’ basic knowledge, skills and attitudes from the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted). Earlier in November 2010, Tauheedul Islam Girls’ School was ranked as “outstanding” by the Ofsted, which oversees state and independent schools and colleges.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]


7 Population Milestones for 7 Billion People

This year marks the seventh “billion-person” milestone in the planet’s history. On or around Oct. 31, 2011, the world’s 7 billionth person will be born, the United Nation estimates.Even more staggering is that of the 7 billion people on Earth, about 1.4 billion of them will be old enough to have observed the arrivals of the 6 billionth, 5 billionth, 4 billionth and 3 billionth people in the world. About 42.5 million people could have blown the party horn for the birth of the 2 billionth baby. Yes, population has risen very quickly over the last century. Demographers do expect a decline in the population growth rate, but absolute numbers will continue to rise, likely hitting 9 billion by 2050.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

A Muslim Life of Brian? No Way, Says Python

COMEDIAN Terry Jones has admitted that he and his Monty Python colleagues would be “frightened” and “think twice” before poking fun at Muslims in today’s politically correct climate.

Asked if he would make a satirical film about Muslims now, he replied, “Probably not — looking at Salman Rushdie. I suppose people would be frightened. “I think it’s whipped up by the arms industry. I read an in-house magazine called Weapons Today before the Gulf War and the editorial was headlined, ‘Thank God for Saddam’ and went on to say that since perestroika we have an enemy no one can complain about. “So in future we look for Islam to replace communism.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

New Map of Saturn Moon Titan Reveals Surprisingly Earth-Like Features

After meticulously stitching together images that were gathered over six years by a NASA spacecraft in orbit around Saturn, astronomers have created a global map of the surface of Titan, the ringed planet’s largest moon, and it features some surprisingly Earth-like geological features. An international team of astronomers, led by the University of Nantes in France, created the striking mosaic of Titan’s surface using infrared images taken by the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) aboard NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The global map and animations were presented Tuesday (Oct. 4) at the European Planetary Science Congress and the American Astronomical Society’s Division of Planetary Science in Nantes, France.

Titan is the only moon known to be cloaked in a dense atmosphere, which is composed mainly of nitrogen. It also has clouds of methane and ethane, and ongoing research has presented increasing evidence for methane rain on the large, frigid moon. Since Titan is veiled in an opaque atmosphere, its surface is difficult to study with visible light cameras, and only a few specific infrared wavelengths can penetrate the haze. Cassini’s infrared instruments and radar signals provide an intriguing glimpse down to the surface of the frozen body, which, as the new global map reveals, has some interesting Earth-like features.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

Three-Way Race to Reach Lost Antarctic Lakes

Antarctic researchers are set to make first contact with long-lost lakes deep beneath the continent’s ice — closely followed by second and third contact. Three expeditions will attempt to enter the hidden lakes over the next two years, in search of unknown kinds of life that have evolved in isolation. The projects could also determine if or when the west Antarctic ice sheet will collapse — one of the worst-case scenarios in future climate change. Over the next few months a team from the British Antarctic Survey, based in Cambridge, UK, and other institutions will set up drilling equipment on the ice above Lake Ellsworth. They will return late next year to drill into the lake. Ellsworth is buried under 3 kilometres of ice, in what was once a fjord.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

World’s Largest Virus Proves Giants Came From Cells

The discovery of a megavirus virus is confirmation that giant viruses descended from complex cells that became simpler. Since the discovery of the first giant virus, mimivirus, in 2003, researchers have debated how they evolved. Unlike conventional viruses, mimivirus carries many genes thought to be unique to cellular life, suggesting that it evolved from a cell. But it could also have stolen those genes from cells that it infected. The new giant virus, dubbed megavirus, is 7 per cent larger than mimivirus. It was found by Jean-Michel Claverie of the Structural and Genomic Information Laboratory in Marseille, France. It is a distant relative of mimivirus, sharing all its cell-like genes. Claverie says this is “definitive proof” of a cellular ancestor.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt [Return to headlines]

One thought on “News Feed 20111011

  1. “This guy is one sermon away from burning the Koran.”

    …which would be blasphemy under Sharia Law…

    …and we mustn’t harm the Satanic verses…

    Of course, it’s OK if Muslims burn churches – and the non-Muslims in them – because the non-Muslims are NOT Sharia compliant!

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