News Feed 20120612

Financial Crisis
» Asian Markets Drop After Euphoria Over Spain Cools and Fears for Italy and Greece Emerge
» Europe Unprepared as Euro Crisis Deepens
» Eurozone Worrying U.S., Possible Spread to Italy
» Greece: Ferry Companies Sound Alarm, Closing in 3 Months
» Greece: Lack of Medicine, Tourism and Car Sales Slump
» Italy: Household Spending Plunges, -2.4% in 12 Month
» Italy: Funding Shortfall Threatens Regional Trains
» Italy: Rome Moves Into Crosshairs After Spain
» Italy: Waning Hope Over Spain Bailout Upsets Italian Markets
» ‘Less Than Three Months’: IMF Head Warns Time Running Out for Euro Zone
» Monti Critcises Austrian Minister for ‘Inappropriate’ Comments
» Monti Dismisses Claim That Indebted Italy May Need Bailout
» No Reason to Delay Eurozone Fund Ratification: Slovak PM
» Spain: EU Rescues Banks, Not Country, Krugman
» Top Global Accounting Firm: US Debt Crisis ‘Bigger Than You Think’
» Troika to Supervise Loan to Spanish Banks, Almunia
 
USA
» Aiding a Convert to the Counter-Jihad Cause: Eric Allen Bell
» Are You Overhydrated?
» Boy Band Jihad: Mega Pop Star Pimping Islam on Your Daughters
» Commander Says Navy Sending Most Advanced Ships and Planes to Pacific
» Sharia Charade
» US Holding ‘Hundreds’ of Meetings With Jihad-Linked Group
 
Canada
» Canadian Muslims Volunteered to Feed Needy
» Quebec Braces Itself for a Summer of Unrest
 
Europe and the EU
» British Mosques to Host Ramadan Iftars During Olympics
» Dutch Press Review Tuesday 12 June 2012
» Euro 2012: I Want to be an England Fan and a Muslim. Why’s That So Hard?
» France: Family of Toulouse Gunman Merah Sue Over His Death
» Gordon Ramsay: ‘I Can’t Believe How Easy Life is in British Prisons’
» Hungarian Muslims Rally Around Hurt UAE Chess Official
» UK: Anarchy in the UK
» UK: Be Truly Conservative and the Votes Will Come
» UK: BNP Child Sex Protests Outside Burnley Court
» UK: Charity Sock Puppetry: How Government Lobbies Itself for More Government, And We Pay
» UK: July 21 Failed Suicide Bombers Fight Conviction
» UK: Muslim Council Re-Elects Leader, Promotes Female Quotas
» UK: Thousands of Troops Lose Jobs Today in Biggest Redundancy Cull for Decades
» Worldwide Counter-Jihad Alliance to Launch With Stockholm Demonstration on August 4
 
Balkans
» Macedonia: New Mosque Causes Ethnic Rift in Southwest
 
North Africa
» Algeria: Middle Class Rush to Snatch Up Homes in Spain
» Egypt’s Fourth Pyramid
» Tunisia: Salafis Attack Cities, 86 Arrested
» Tunis: Salafis Run Wild, Soldiers Guard Presidential Palace
» Tunisian Authorities Arrest Dozens of Hardliners
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» UK: Anti-Israel Activists Target Queen Over Jubilee Diamond
» US Ousts Israel From Counterterrorism Forum
 
Middle East
» Iran: Grand Ayatollah Golpaygani: Wahhabis Betrays All Religions
» Saudi Clerics Use Social Media to Funnel Funds to Syria Rebels
» Seven Countries Exempted From Sanctions Against Iran, USA
» Syrian Christians in the War Between Fundamentalists and Secularists, Sunnis and Shiites
» Turkey: Fundamentalists Forbid Girl in Shorts to Board Bus
» Turkey: Erdogan Approves Kurdish Instruction in Schools
» Turkey to Introduce Elective Kurdish Lessons
» UAE: Dubai Police Officers Cleared of Inmate’s Torture Death
» With Eye on Turkey, Israel Debates Armenia Deaths
 
Russia
» Thousands of Russians Protest Against President Putin
 
Caucasus
» ‘Normal’ Shooting Resumes in Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict
 
South Asia
» Bangladesh Sends Back Muslims Fleeing Myanmar
» Burma Sectarian Violence Continues Despite State of Emergency
» India and Pakistan Reopen Talks Over World’s Highest Battlefield
» Indonesia: West Java: Tasikmalaya Authorities Impose Sharia Law and Compulsory Veil
» Indonesia: Hated Aussies Now Loved
» Indonesia: Twenty Churches Face Demolition
» Malaysia: Respect Sensitivities of Muslims, Bar Council Told
» Myanmar: State of Emergency to Stop Buddhist-Muslim Clashes
» Pakistan: DG Khan Rape Case: Three Policemen Remanded
 
Far East
» China’s Wuhan City Covered in Mysterious Haze
» ‘Crouching Tiger’ Actress Zhang Ziyi Sues Over Prostitution Reports
» EU Says Deal With China Key to Fight Fake Wine
 
Australia — Pacific
» Coroner Rules Dingo Really Did Take Australian Baby in 1980
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Nigeria: Al-Qaeda Blames Germany for Engineer’s Death
 
Latin America
» Argentine Protesters Burn British Flag
» Mexican Cartel Hides Millions in Horse Races, U.S. Alleges
 
Immigration
» Danish Presidency in Firing Line Over Schengen Decision
» Israel: Iron Fist Against African Immigrants and Refugees
» Italy: Egyptian Boat With Dozens of Illegal Migrants
 
Culture Wars
» Intersex People in EU: Ashamed and Invisible
» Morocco: Thousands of Gay Tourists Due in Casablanca
» The Media’s Double Standard for Muslims
» Turkey: Supreme Court: Prison for ‘Unnatural’ Video Sex
» UK: Gay Laws ‘To Halt Church Weddings’, Warn Religious Leaders
» UK: It Can’t Just be on the Students: The University and Unions Must Act

Financial Crisis


Asian Markets Drop After Euphoria Over Spain Cools and Fears for Italy and Greece Emerge

Stock markets drop to almost 1%. Lack of commitment on growth. For China aid to Spain contain short-term crisis, but no safeguard to stability. On 17 June, Greece votes for or against the euro.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) — The Asian markets have opened almost all dropping 1%, after the mild euphoria of yesterday, in the hope that the loans of 100 billion euros to Spain would mark a beginning of solution to European debt.

But yesterday, the Spanish treasury bonds rose by 6.5% and Italy’s 10 year bonds went to 6.032%.

Today, the Nikkei fell below 1%, that of Shanghai and Hong Kong by 0.8, 0.9 Seoul. All shares of companies that trade with Europe declined about 2%.

The fears of analysts is that the European crisis will continue to spread and that the Union is doing much to lend money to banks, but little for growth. Yesterday stock markets in the U.S. and Europe also took hits.

Adding to uncertainty is the June 17 vote in Greece, after inconclusive election last May 6, unable to produce a government to direct the country under an austerity regime following the dictates of the EU. The next Greek elections seem to be characterized by the decision of whether to stay in or exit from the euro.

China, which Europe has recently asked for financial support, but to no avail, said that the EU’s move to aid Spain serves to curb the crisis in the short term, but more decisive steps are needed to protect a more continuous stability .

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



Europe Unprepared as Euro Crisis Deepens

The weekend announcement that Spanish banks would be bailed out briefly drove up markets around the world. But optimism was short lived. The euro crisis is rapidly intensifying and Europe is not prepared.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Eurozone Worrying U.S., Possible Spread to Italy

Too big a challenge for Monti? WSJ. Huge problems, NYT

(ANSAmed) — NEW YORK — The eurozone crisis worrying the United States. The White house has welcomed the bailout of Spanish banks and the support the EU has promised to Madrid. But despite these interventions, concern is rising over the possibility of the crisis spreading to Italy. And of a leader who is considered to be credible and capable, Italian Premier Mario Monti, having to throw in the towel. Will Italy be the next to fall?, the New York Times wonders. The newspaper speaks of “probably insurmountable challenges” even for professor Monti, who is also dealing with “the resistance to change that characterises Italian society and politics.” It is no coincident, the prestigious New York daily underlines, that all reforms launched by the technocrat government are still on halt in Parliament, blocked by hard opposition to painful but necessary measures. “It is not clear yet if Monti will be able to keep Italy from becoming the next domino to fall”. The general fear is, that the 100 billion euros promised to Spain to rescue its banking system will not be enough, and that the fever will spread to Italy, making it the next to ask the international community for help, Bloomberg BusinessWeek underlines as well. The analysis made by the Wall Street Journal is on the same line. The Journal stresses that the challenges Italy is facing are probably “too many for a man alone, even if that man is Mister Monti”. According to the Wall Street Journal, the next crucial step is the upcoming election in Greece, which the newspaper calls the “main threat” to the future of the eurozone and beyond. The situation will be assessed at the next G20 meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, on June 18 and 19. In this meeting, Europe will be asked to take more concrete measures during the summit of EU state and government leaders by the end of June. Ahead of this crucial summit, U.S. President Barack Obama is “in close contact with the European capitals,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney, who repeated that “it is no mystery what we must do to deal with the enormous challenges we are facing and to revive the economy and unemployment: we must act at once. We know where the weak spots are.” The message is aimed once again at Europe, but also at the Congress, which Obama has accused of blocking his reforms meant to boost the re-launch. From an electoral viewpoint, the general feeling in the U.S. is that the Obama administration is at risk. If the eurozone crisis deepens and even economies considered to be too big to fail start to collapse, the global consequences are beyond imagination. And the chances that the first Afro-American president in the U.S. history will be re-elected would fall to almost zero.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Greece: Ferry Companies Sound Alarm, Closing in 3 Months

Fewer passengers and rising management costs cause crisis

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — High fuel and maintenance prices, together with a sharp decline in the number of passengers has brought the Greek ferry companies to their knees (those that manage the connections to and from the islands). The companies have announced that they may have to keep their ferries in port as of September. Their revenues have fallen by an average of 15% compared with the year before, while the outlook for this year is another 10% decline, much too optimistic according to many. The warning was issued again — the first time was in April, when nobody seemed to listen — by the Greek newspaper Kathimerini.

Leaders in the sector have pointed out that fuel prices have risen by 56.8% for normal ferries and by 63% for high-speed ships over the past two years. The price of a tonne of diesel used as fuel by traditional boats is currently 594 euros, against 480 last year and 380 two years ago. High-speed ships pay a much higher price: 783 euros per tonne, against 675 in 2011 and 480 in 2010. “Due to the sharp increase in fuel prices and their cost, representing 55-60% of a ship’s daily expenses, the future of ferry operators is not at all bright,” said the head of the association of ferry companies (SEEN), who preferred to remain anonymous. “I am afraid,” this source added, “that without the help of the government, who could change regulations allowing us to cut other costs like labour costs, very few ferries will still be in service in the Aegean Sea, not enough to cover the most elementary marine transport requirements of the country.” The running costs of a ferry on a connection to the Cyclades will rise, according to the source, by at least two million euros this year because of rising fuel prices. That means 16.7% more vehicles and 100,000 more passengers must be transported to compensate for this increase. An operator of a ferry on the Piraeus-Crete line would need 110,000 more passengers and a 37.7% increase in the number of transported vehicles to compensate for the 2.6 million euros paid extra for fuel. “One way of levelling the losses caused by the expensive fuel is to increase tariffs. But each time we have done that, like on the connections to Myconos, Samos and Icaria, we saw our revenues drop,” the source admitted. Now the companies are looking for other ways to reduce costs, like reducing the speed of traditional ferries (lowering fuel consumption) or the number of journeys per week. Or uniting several routes: “to make a journey profitable, the ship must reach at least 70% of its capacity. But this happens only in summer and during some holiday periods,” the SEEN expert concluded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Greece: Lack of Medicine, Tourism and Car Sales Slump

Country in deep recession seven days before election

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 11 — With only 7 days until the “elections of fear”, so-called because their outcome will decide whether or not Greece remains in the eurozone, and by extension, whether the country will be saved or face disaster, the country continues to be engulfed by a crisis that is becoming ever more profound and alarming, and one that risks becoming irreversible.

People are continuing to queue outside chemists in search of medicine that is impossible to find, while tourism sector workers are in a state of desperation, with the economic crisis and political uncertainty in the country causing a 50% dive in boat bookings compared to last year and hotel reservations down between 30 and 50% (depending on the destination) in the aftermath of the inconclusive elections of May 6. Since then, there have been a number of cancellations at 5-star hotels, while hoteliers in Athens have registered a net fall in bookings of 35%.

The latest sign of the dramatic situation is a figure that, on the surface, appears positive. Chaotic traffic on the streets of Athens has improved in recent months, while the average journey speed has increased by 11%. This is not, however, because Athenians have suddenly become more respectful of the highway code, but rather because the use of cars has dropped by 30% due to the rise in fuel costs, with the use of public transport down by the same amount.

The main reasons for the drop in the use of private cars are the rise in petrol prices (now at around 1.80 euros per litre) and the increase in other added costs such as circulation tax, insurance and maintenance, all factors that are aggravated by the rise in unemployment and cuts to wages and pensions. Growing unemployment has caused a fall in the number of people using cars or public transport to travel to and from work, while reduced economic might means that trips during free time have also become less frequent.

In the meantime, the drop in the use of public transport has means lower revenue. The company that manages the underground, electric railway (ISAP) and trams in Athens has announced that its turnover has fallen by 19%. The fall has also been caused by the increasing number of passengers who do not pay for tickets, either because they have no money or because they believe the price (1.40 euros) to be excessive.

On the precarious public health front, meanwhile, progress should be around the corner after five associations of Greek chemists sent a joint letter to Horst Reichenbach, the head of the European Commission’s taskforce for Greece, asking for an urgent financial injection of 1.5 billion euros for the Greek health service organisation (EOPYY), which would allow the body to tackle its financial obligations towards chemists, many of which are refusing to provide drugs on credit or at discounted prices. After the serious problems caused in recent days by the refusal of chemists to provide drugs for patients who enjoy EOPYY health insurance, a group that covers the majority of Greeks, expensive medicine for the treatment of serious illnesses should now be available in chemists in public hospitals across the country and in those managed by EOPYY.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Household Spending Plunges, -2.4% in 12 Month

Durable goods -11.8%; seeking to save even on food, clothes

(ANSAmed) — ROME — In the first quarter of 2012 Italian household spending dropped by 2.4% compared with the first quarter of 2012 and by 1% on the previous quarter, according to the Italian national statistics institute. Italian households are trying to save money in all areas, and durable goods have seen a double-digit decline (-11.8%). The latter include cars, furnishings, and appliances. Also dropping, however, are even non-durable goods (-2.3% in one year) and the reference point is above all that of food, though corners are also being cut on medicines, detergents, and personal care products, among other things. Over the past year Italian families have also purchases fewer services: -0.2%.(

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Funding Shortfall Threatens Regional Trains

‘Only thing we can do is stop service,’ says CEO

(ANSA) — Rome, June 11 — Italy’s regional train services may grind to a halt next year unless central and local government bodies come up with the necessary funding, the CEO of the Italian rail company warned Monday.

“In 2013, unless the budget is met, we just won’t have any regional service,” said Ferrovie dello Stato managing director Mauro Moretti. “I don’t know what the (transport) authority plans to do but the only thing we can do is to interrupt service.

“We’ll be reported to the courts, we’ll see how it turns out”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Rome Moves Into Crosshairs After Spain

Rome, 11 June (AKI/Bloomberg) — The 100 billion-euro rescue for Spain’s banks moves Italy to the frontline of Europe’s debt crisis, putting pressure on Mario Monti’s unelected government to avoid succumbing to a market rout.

“The scrutiny of Italy is high and certainly will not dissipate after the deal with Spain,” Nicola Marinelli, who oversees $153 million at Glendevon King Asset Management in London, said in an interview. “This bailout does not mean that Italy will be under attack, but it means that investors will pay attention to every bit of information before deciding to buy or to sell Italian bonds.”

Italy has more than 2 trillion euros of debt, more as a share of its economy than any advanced economy after Greece and Japan. The Treasury has to sell more than 35 billion of bonds and bills per month — more than the annual output of each of the three smallest euro members, Cyprus, Estonia and Malta.

Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said on 9 June that he would request as much as 100 billion euros in emergency loans from the euro area to shore up a banking system hobbled by more than 180 billion euros of bad assets. Mounting concern about the state of Spain’s banks and public finances drove the country’s borrowing costs to near euro-era records last month, dragging up Italian rates in the process.

Contagion Threat

“The problem for Italy is that where Spain goes, there’s always the perception that Italy could follow,” Nicholas Spiro, managing director at Spiro Sovereign Strategy in London said in an interview. ‘‘There is insufficient differentiation within the financial markets. It is clear as the light of day and has been that Spain’s fundamentals are a lot direr than Italy’s. That hasn’t stopped Italy suffering from Spanish contagion.’’

Italy is on track to bring its budget deficit within the European Union limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product this year and the country is already running a surplus before interest payments, meaning its debt will soon peak at about 120 percent of GDP. The jobless rate is less than half of Spain’s 24 percent, and Italy didn’t suffer a real estate bust, leaving its banks healthy by southern European standards. The budget deficit at 3.9 percent of GDP last year, is less than half that of Spain.

Debt Load

To be sure, a total debt more than twice Spain’s gives investors pause, especially in a country where economic growth has lagged the EU average for more than a decade. The euro region’s third-biggest economy, Italy is set to contract 1.7 percent this year, more than the 1.6 percent in Spain, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates.

Diminished Interest

Debt agency head Maria Cannata last week said that fewer foreign investors were turning up at Italian auctions in recent months and that the country could still finance at yields as high as 8 percent.

The exodus of foreign buyers has left the Treasury more dependent on Italian banks, which in turn have been among the biggest borrowers in the European Central Bank’s three-year lending operations. Italy returns to markets before Spain does, selling as much 6.5 billion euros of treasury bills on 13 June, followed by a bond auction the next day.

“If Italy has a problem with accessing the markets because investors lose confidence in the Italian ability to do the right thing, the ECB will be drawn into the fire,” said Thomas Mayer, an economic adviser to Deutsche Bank AG, in a telephone interview. “That could pose a potentially lethal threat to European monetary union.”

Would-Be Savior

Given the size of Italy’s debt, only the ECB has the firepower to rescue the country and yet deploying that ammunition — through buying back bonds or making more long-term loans — may prove unacceptable to Germany and its allies in northern Europe, Mayer said.

“The ECB will probably have to restart buying bonds but there will be a lot of sellers into that of people who are worried that Spain is the next Greece and Italy the next Spain,” said Lex Van Dam, who manages $500 million at Hampstead Capital LLC in London.

There may be little Italy can do on its own to protect itself. Monti, appointed by the president to succeed Silvio Berlusconi in November when Italy’s 10-year yield exceeded 7 percent, has implemented 20 billion euros of austerity measures, overhauled the pensions system and revamped the county’s labor markets and service industries.

Monti’s efforts helped shave more than 200 basis points off the 10-year yield by February, before the turmoil in Greece and Spain’s banking woes began driving up rates. Now with final passage of some of his reforms bogging down in parliament, Monti is pressing European allies to pivot from austerity to pro- growth policies.

“Mr. Monti seems to be infinitely more concerned about what’s going on abroad than what’s going on in parliament,” Spiro said. “Understandably so, because Italy has not been a master of its own fate for a long time. He’s perfectly aware that in order to fix Italy, they have to fix the euro zone.”

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



Italy: Waning Hope Over Spain Bailout Upsets Italian Markets

Spread up to 470, bourse down 2.79%, worst in Europe

(ANSA) — Milan, June 11 — Waning hopes over a Spanish bailout deal sent the Milan bourse down and vaulted the spread and the yield in debt-laden Italy on Monday. The spread between Italian and German 10-year bonds flew up to 470 points as optimism fizzled that the weekend’s bailout deal for Spanish banks would stem the euro crisis.

The FTSE MIB index took a 2.79% hit to close down at 13,070 points, making it the worst-performing market across Europe Monday. Pundits said markets were skeptical about exactly how the up-to-100-billion-euro bailout in Spain would be implemented. The yield, another key gauge of market sentiment, rose to 6%. Yields approaching 7% are regarded as unsustainable in the long term, experts say.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



‘Less Than Three Months’: IMF Head Warns Time Running Out for Euro Zone

As the focus of the euro crisis shifts to Italy, IMF head Christine Lagarde has warned that European leaders have less than three months to save the euro. Meanwhile top economist Nouriel Roubini has called on Berlin to drop its obsession with austerity, proposing that the German government give every household a 1,000 euro voucher to spend on a vacation in Southern Europe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Monti Critcises Austrian Minister for ‘Inappropriate’ Comments

Italian PM Mario Monti Tuesday hit back at comments by Austrian finance minister Maria Fekter that Italy might have to get a bailout. “It is totally inappropriate for ministers to comment issues referred to other (EU) countries, and as such I won’t comment her comments,” he said, reports Dow Jones.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Monti Dismisses Claim That Indebted Italy May Need Bailout

Brussels, 12 June (AKI) — As Italy’s borrowing costs spiked on Tuesday, the country’s prime minister Mario Monti furiously rejected comments from Austria’s finance minister that Rome may follow Spain and require a financial rescue.

Monti described Austrian finance minister Maria Fekter’s assessment of Italy — the eurozones’ third largest economy — as “completely inappropriate”.

Fekter said that Italy, which has approved austerity measures to tackle its massive public debt of over 1.95 trillion euros, “will also need support, given the high rates it pays to refinance on markets.”

Fekter later backtracked, telling reporters there were “no indications” that Italy would apply for EU-backed aid.

But eurozone officials also called Fekter’s remarks deeply unhelpful.

The comments heightened investor fears that the 30-month-long European debt crisis is far from over despite a deal by eurozone finance ministers on Saturday to lend Spain up to 100 billion euros to recapitalise its banks.

Italian and Spanish government 10-year bond yields rose further above the critical 6 percent level as the Spanish bank bailout failed to ease fears about Madrid’s solvency.

Yields on Italy’s 10-year bonds reached their highest levels since 31 January, standing at 6.16 percent by mid-morning. Meanwhile the spread, or premium demanded by investors for Italian bonds over Germany’s benchmark securities, soared to 483 points from an opening level of 468.8.

Borrowing costs in Spain climbed to their highest level in about 8 months on Tuesday.

While Italy’s banks are in a stronger position than their Spanish counterparts, the country continues to be mired in recession with the economy predicted to shrink by 1.7 per cent this year according to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates.

Italy’s economy will continue shrinking until the end of 2013, according to OECD.

A fresh test of investor confidence in Italy is expected on Thursday when the treasury is expected to offer up to 4.5 billion euros of fixed-rate bonds at its regular mid-month auction.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Tuesday called on European leaders to make this month’s EU summit a turning point in the handling of the eurozone debt crisis amid fears that default-threatened Greece could leave the single currency.

Napolitano also urged Italy’s political parties to back Monti’s financial reforms and suggested they should stop grumbling about unpopular measures. These include higher taxes, spending cuts and making people retire later.

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



No Reason to Delay Eurozone Fund Ratification: Slovak PM

(BRATISLAVA) — Slovakia is ready to ratify the eurozone’s new rescue fund and push ahead with its own fiscal consolidation, the Slovak premier said after Tuesday talks with the EU president.

“There’s no reason to put off the ratification of the permanent fund,” newly-elected leftist Prime Minister Rober Fico said after meeting EU President Herman Van Rompuy.

“We have to show we are responsible and can do our homework,” added Fico, whose leftist Smer-SD party commands a sound majority of 83 seats in the 150-member parliament.

Slovak parliament is set to discuss the European Stability Mechanism fund at a session starting June 19.

Van Rompuy said he welcomed “the commitment of the Slovak government to swiftly complete the ratification process”.

The ESM, created to ease market pressure on indebted eurozone nations like Greece and prevent the contagion across the eurozone, will be launched in July and run in parallel with the EFSF temporary fund for one year.

A relatively poor ex-communist nation of 5.4 million, Slovakia is due to contribute 659.2 million euros (868.5 million dollars) to the ESM over five years.

After it joined the EU in 2004 and the eurozone in 2009, Slovakia grew by 3.3 percent last year.

Its central bank said Tuesday it expected growth of 2.5 percent for this year, which would likely make the country the eurozone’s top performer.

Fico added his government was determined to pursue fiscal consolidation with a goal of slashing the public deficit to 4.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012 from 4.8 percent in 2011, and to less than 3.0 percent mandated by the EU in 2013.

“That’s a pledge we honour and will achieve,” Fico said.

Van Rompuy praised Slovakia for adopting the stance “not because Europe’s asking for it but because it’s in the interest of the Slovak people.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Spain: EU Rescues Banks, Not Country, Krugman

Planned bailout no solution for Spain

(ANSAmed) — MADRID — “Yet again the economy slides, unemployment soars, banks get into trouble, governments rush to the rescue — but somehow it’s only the banks that get rescued, not the unemployed.” This statement was made by Paul Krugman, U.S. winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize for the Economy, in an opinion article in the New York Times, cited today by El Pais.

The article regards the bailout of the Spanish banking system with 100 billion euros, agreed by the Euro Group and Spain.

According to the economist, the bailout is necessary, but is “not the solution Spain needs. “There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this latest bailout (although a lot depends on the details). What’s striking, is that even as European leaders were putting together this rescue, they were signaling strongly that they have no intention of changing the policies that have left almost a quarter of Spain’s workers — and more than half its young people — jobless.” Krugman complains that the European authorities “are always ready to spring into action to defend the banks, but otherwise completely unwilling to admit that its policies are failing the people the economy is supposed to serve.” He also reproaches the European Central Bank for refusing to lower interest rates.

“Unemployment in the euro area has soared,” Krugman writes, “and all indications are that the Continent is entering a new recession. Meanwhile, inflation is slowing, and market expectations of future inflation have plunged. By any of the usual rules of monetary policy, the situation calls for aggressive rate cuts. But the central bank won’t move.” The economist heavily criticises the eurozone’s paralysis and concludes: “it’s becoming increasingly clear that it will take utter catastrophe to get any real policy action that goes beyond bank bailouts. But don’t despair: at the rate things are going, especially in Europe, utter catastrophe may be just around the corner.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Top Global Accounting Firm: US Debt Crisis ‘Bigger Than You Think’

What is the real cost of the U.S. government’s nearly $16 trillion debt? “The debt crisis is likely bigger than you think,” a new report issued last week by Deloitte, one of the world’s largest accounting firms, concluded.

That’s because interest payments add a whole new level of fiscal pain to the country’s debt problem. Interest payments on the national debt alone, it noted, are expected to total some $4.2 trillion over the next decade.

And that number could fluctuate depending on rates.

The lead author of the Deloitte study, director Bill Eggers, stressed the way that U.S. government debt could quickly spiral out of control if investors become less willing to lend more money.

“If interest rates go up by simply 3 percent over the next decade, the additional cost to the Treasury, just for interest payments, would equal the peak combined cost of the wars in both Afghanistan in Iraq,” he said.

So what could $4.2 trillion buy instead?

Deloitte, an accounting and consulting firm that often audits government finances, says it’s enough to do any of the following:

  • build 80,000 miles of highways
  • pay tuition for every science/math/engineering college degree in the country
  • triple U.S. government general R&D funding
  • build six international space stations
  • offset 80 percent of global warming pollution in the atmosphere as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The report notes that the $4.2 trillion could also be given back in the form of tax cuts.

Not all economists are on board with the implications of the study.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Troika to Supervise Loan to Spanish Banks, Almunia

‘Deal will include conditions’, not only for financial system

(ANSAmed) — MADRID — There will “obviously be conditions connected” to the bailout of Spanish banks, because “people don’t give away money for nothing, they want to know what it will be used for.” This statement was made today by the vice president of the European Commission and EU competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, in a radio interview with Cadena Ser. Other than the Rajoy government, which has insisted on the idea that the 100 billion euros in bailout will only include conditions for the banking system, Almunia pointed out that the funds will be bound to the Stability Pact. “I don’t only mean that the loan has to be paid back, but also other types of conditions, we’ll have to see which ones,” said the EC vice president. Almunia specified that the aid itself will not be registered as deficit but as debt, while the interests will add to the public deficit. He confirmed that the loan to Spain will be supervised by the IMF, ECB and EC troika. However, the International Monetary Fund will not participate as co-financer, as it did in the cases of Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

USA


Aiding a Convert to the Counter-Jihad Cause: Eric Allen Bell

It is always encouraging to see a convert to the counter-Jihad movement who once opposed you. That is the case of Eric Allen Bell, a California based documentarian who became an ‘item ‘in the midst of the Islam Center of Murfreesboro (ICM) mega-mosque controversy to confront many opponents, only to have undergone a remarkable epiphany and seen the light. Bob Smietana of The Tennessean, a staunch defender of the ICM, profiled Bell’s journey to what we believe is the right side of the controversy. In a Tennessean article published Saturday, “Murfreesboro mosque supporter switches sides, says Islam is a ‘threat’ “, Smietana noted: Back then, he was making a movie called Not Welcome, which depicted mosque critics as Southern Christian bigots. Now he says the mosque is part of a plot to destroy America. He says the mosque is “built on a foundation of lies” in a recent op-ed piece at the anti-Islam site JihadWatch.com. “I want to communicate that the biggest threat to human rights is Islam,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. Mosque supporters say they feel betrayed by Bell. They even wonder if he was a fraud or has been paid off by anti-Muslim groups. Give Bell credit, in his Front PageMagazine article he gave attribution to the investigative team whose inputs we composed in the ICM background investigation Power Point presentation ultimately used by Liz Coker before a meeting of the Rutherford County Public Safety Committee in late September 2010. Below is the FPM article published by Bell. So Bell is not only a convert to the cause, but a mensch for touting the sources who created the evidence of the Hamas links to the ICM Mosque board.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]



Are You Overhydrated?

You’ve heard it since you were a kid, from your parents to your gym teacher: Drink two liters (or eight glasses) of water every day. Lately, though, researchers have been questioning the tried-and-true water rule, and in fact, believe even health-minded individuals could be drinking too much H2O.

“There’s no scientific method behind those numbers,” says exercise physiologist Stacy Sims, Ph.D., a hydration researcher at Stanford University. “And the recommendation doesn’t take into account gender, environment, altitude, fitness level-factors that could affect fluid intake needs.” (Pick up Drink This, Not That! to discover the healthiest, tastiest drinks in the world.)

In fact, there’s a lot of marketing behind popular hydration recommendations, Sims says-with potentially dangerous consequences. “Drinking too much fluid can lead to hyponatremia, which is when sodium in blood becomes too diluted,” Sims says.

Symptoms include confusion, headaches, nausea and bloating-stuff that’s easily confused with dehydration. In severe cases, hyponatremia can lead to seizures, organ failure and even death.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Boy Band Jihad: Mega Pop Star Pimping Islam on Your Daughters

by Debbie Schlussel

Jihad is sneaking into American girls’ favorite pop band. If you have young daughters, then you know that the boy band, “One Direction,” is all the rage to young girls around the world, especially in the United States. As big, if not bigger than Justin Bieber. Recently, President Obama’s daughter, Malia, was photographed attending their Washington, DC-area concert. And screaming tween and teen girls greet them all over America. But, even if you’ve heard of the band, you probably don’t know that one of its members, Zayn Malik, is pimping Islam on your kids. That’s in addition to his Arabic tattoos and frequent donning of the keffiyeh, the official garb of Islamic terrorism.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Commander Says Navy Sending Most Advanced Ships and Planes to Pacific

The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said Monday the Navy will be sending its most advanced vessels and aircraft to the Asia-Pacific region as it builds up its presence by assigning most of its fleet there. Adm. Cecil Haney said a policy recently outlined by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to deploy 60 percent of the Navy’s ships fleet to the Pacific by 2020 is about capabilities as well as quantity.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Sharia Charade

by Steve Chapman

The bogus threat of Islamic law in the U.S.

In the 19th century, Catholicism was regarded by many people in this country as thoroughly incompatible with Americanism. They saw it as a hostile foreign element that would subvert democracy. Today, a majority of the justices on the Supreme Court are Catholic, and they are taken to be as American as Mountain Dew. We’ve come a long way in religious tolerance. Or maybe not. The belief that Catholics are irredeemably alien and disloyal has given way to the fear that Muslims pose a mortal threat to our way of life. That distrust is behind a push in state legislatures to forbid courts from applying Islamic Shariah law in any case. Arizona, Tennessee, Louisiana and Oklahoma have passed these bans, though the Oklahoma law was ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



US Holding ‘Hundreds’ of Meetings With Jihad-Linked Group

President Barack Obama’s deputies are reportedly holding “hundreds” of closed-door meetings with a jihad-linked lobbying group.

President Barack Obama’s deputies are holding “hundreds” of closed-door meetings with a jihad-linked lobbying group that is widely derided by critics as a U.S. arm of the theocratic Muslim Brotherhood, The Daily Caller reported. George Selim, the White House’s new director for community partnerships, which was formed in January to ensure cooperation by law enforcement and social service agencies with Muslim identity groups in the United States, admitted that the U.S. is, in fact, holding meetings with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Canada


Canadian Muslims Volunteered to Feed Needy

EDMONTON (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — In an effort to break stereotypes about Islam, dozens of Canadian Muslims in the western city of Edmonton have volunteered to prepare free meals for the city’s poor residents. “It’s a human obligation,” Ahmed Ali, one of the volunteers, told CBC News. “We all might succumb to this type of situation, so it’s good to give back.” Dozens of Muslim volunteers gathered at the Hope Mission on Sunday, June 10, to prepare meals for the needy people in Edmonton. For the whole day, they managed to prepare and hand out 800 roast beef dinners. The meal has been a tradition in Edmonton for a decade. Some of the Muslim volunteers saw the event as a way to repay their community which helped them one day. Ali was one of those Muslims who know the challenges many inner-city people face. As a child, Ali’s family emigrated from Somalia, first moving to Italy and before arriving in Canada 12 years ago. When they were still finding their feet in their new home, Ali says his family often relied on charities and organizations for food. “I know what it feels and how it means to get a hearty meal from someone who isn’t related to you.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Quebec Braces Itself for a Summer of Unrest

Quebec’s longest ever period of student unrest threatens to continue throughout the summer. What originally began as a student protest about tuition fee rises has now become a full-blown social and political movement.

Quebec’s leaders have warned protesters that their continued acts of civil disobedience are threatening the economy of the predominantly francophone province, which is already one of the most indebted regions in Canada. The warnings come as pictures circulate of police pepper-spraying students within meters of pubs and clubs packed with well-heeled Formula One Grand Prix visitors.

Canada’s growing protest movement has been dubbed the “Maple Spring,” a reference to the recent spate of uprisings in Arab countries. It all began back in February, when Quebec’s provincial government declared its intention to raise tuition fees by 75 percent over a five year period. The students voted to go on strike, despite the fact that even under the proposed plans, their tuition fees would still remain among the lowest in North America. The students pinned small squares of red felt to their clothing to symbolize being “carrement dans le rouge” or “squarely in the red,” an allusion to growing student debt.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


British Mosques to Host Ramadan Iftars During Olympics

As London gets busy to host the Olympics in August, mosques across the country are gearing up for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan — which this year coincides with the Games. Officials and Muslim organizations launched the Iftar 2012 program in London to welcome the thousands of athletes and visitors who will flood the British capital for the sporting event. Participating mosques will serve Iftars or evening meals to break the fast to visitors, welcome athletes to their premises and celebrate the event with non-Muslims.

British hockey star Darren Cheesman, a Muslim convert, displayed his sporting skills to local scouts at the event. “The fact that you will never have a Ramadan, and Olympics, in London, at the same time, ever again. It’s a great way to use something that the whole country is going to be focused on, and saying: ‘Hold on, there’s another big event going on this month — Ramadan,” Cheesman said.

[…]

[JP note: One more reason to boycott the London Games.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Dutch Press Review Tuesday 12 June 2012

[…]

The Sharia question

The front page of de Volkskrant is all about Russian President Putin’s “repression” of the opposition. However, the paper devotes almost all of pages two and three to fighting between Muslim extremists and police in Brussels last Friday — and to the fallout of the incident in the Netherlands.

The trouble in the Belgian capital between “a few dozen Muslims” and the police was apparently “stirred up” by the small radical group, Sharia4Belgium. Its Dutch branch, Sharia4Holland, was recently in the news for violently disrupting a debate in the Netherlands.

Friday’s incident in Brussels culminated in two policemen being stabbed by a French Muslim extremist, according to de Volkskrant. It says local residents, many of them immigrants, are sick of both the negative publicity afforded by the incident and of Sharia4Belguim.

De Volkskrant also reports on calls for a Sharia Council to be set up in the Netherlands. It would “advise on Muslim family matters”.

One supporter of the idea explains that, without a ruling from this kind of council, it is more or less impossible for women married under Islamic law to get a divorce without the consent of the man. Although it wouldn’t officially be a Sharia court, a women’s group tells de Volkskrant that creating the council would “institutionalise the inequality of women”. The paper points out that a majority of MPs are against setting up a Sharia Council.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Euro 2012: I Want to be an England Fan and a Muslim. Why’s That So Hard?

by Nooruddean Choudry

England football fans dressing up as Christian knights from the Crusades doesn’t endear Muslims to the cause

As England play their first games of Euro 2012, I’d like to be an England fan. But even though I’m English, it’s hard. For a start, as a British Muslim, I am unsettled by the sight of England supporters dressed as Christian knights and jovially waving Crusader shields at the European championships in Poland and Ukraine. Footage of last night’s cagey opener with France was interspersed with close-ups of young men dressed in the armour of Knights Templar hordes. There’s an irony in the fact that images of Polish supporters chanting antisemitic slogans and giving Nazi salutes have been met with such deserved outrage, but to brandish a sword and recall the brutal and bloody invasion of Muslim lands is portrayed as harmless banter.

[…]

[JP note: It is not clear why Choudry would wish to be an England fan apart from to sow discord.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



France: Family of Toulouse Gunman Merah Sue Over His Death

The family of the man who murdered four people outside a Jewish school in Toulouse in March has begun legal action, alleging that the gunman was murdered. Mohammed Merah, who killed seven people during his shooting spree in France, died after a 32-hour stand-off with police in an apartment in Toulouse. Two officers were wounded during the exchange of fire. But despite the fact that he admitted to the murders before his death, his family is claiming that his demise was “murder with aggravating circumstances”. Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, one of the lawyers representing the Merah family, suggested on Monday that they believed the police unit who handled the raid should have done more to capture the gunman alive. “You have 300 or 400 over-armed people, and one guy alone in his apartment, closed in,” said Ms Coutant-Peyre, who previously represented the Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal. The family’s lawyers also said that they had videos in which Merah protested his innocence, and other “serious evidence” to support the case.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Gordon Ramsay: ‘I Can’t Believe How Easy Life is in British Prisons’

Gordon Ramsay, the chef, has criticised the level of comfort provided in Britain’s prisons after teaching inmates to cook for a new television series.

Ramsay, 45, said he was astounded when he discovered convicted criminals were given five meal choices every night and constant access to television, video games and gym facilities.

The restaurateur visited London’s Brixton Prison to film Behind Bars, a Channel 4 show in which he teaches 12 inmates to cook and sell their Bad Boys’ Bakery produce to businesses on the outside.

However, he said he was disappointed with the prisoners’ lack of work ethic, claiming the lax regime inside gave them no incentive to toil over a stove.

“What I wasn’t prepared for was how easy it was for them in there. I was astounded at the comfort zone they carve out for themselves,” Ramsay told The Guardian’s Weekend magazine.

“Five meal choices a night — that was the one I really struggled with. I just thought it was a bit of a joke, to be honest, coupled with the 24-hour television, Xbox, DVDs, gym.

“We can’t watch television until four o’clock in the morning. I’d like to have a gym seven days a week, by the way.”

He added that seeing how soft the regime behind bars was made him feel “angry” and “quite embarrassed”.

“I thought we were a nation of grafters, I thought we had the spirit of working harder than anyone.

“Yeah, and why would they want to come and bust their — — for 10 hours a day when it was easy for them to do nothing? I find that hard to come to terms with.”

He said he was flabbergasted by the quality of the equipment provided for inmates to cook with, adding: “Even a professional chef on the outside doesn’t just walk into a kitchen that good.”

The chef also disclosed that the project posed unique security challenges due to the use of knives in the kitchen as well the reaction of prisoners with “impulse control issues” when confronted by his trademark boisterous manner and language.

It was disclosed that filming for the programme was eventually cut short amid concerns that Ramsay’s visits to the wings were causing too much disruption.

However, the inmates’ business is beginning to take off with 11 branches of Caffé Nero in London now stocking their cakes and wraps.

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]



Hungarian Muslims Rally Around Hurt UAE Chess Official

Hungarian Muslims would like an Emirati chess official who was pummelled by thugs to see more of their country — but this time, the good side.

They have invited Saud Al Marzooqi to recuperate at a spa on the banks of Laka Balaton, and would also like him to take in the “beauty places” of two Hungarian villages. On June 1 on the streets of the city of Szeged, Mr Al Marzooqi was run over by a car, kicked and beaten unconscious by three men whom he has described as police officers who thought he was an illegal immigrant.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Anarchy in the UK

by Mark Tapson

Amid the pomp and ceremony of England’s recent Diamond Jubilee, marking sixty years of the Queen’s reign, a grim truth was being glossed over: England is gradually capitulating to the law of the jungle. Last month, nine Muslim men were convicted for organized sex crimes ranging from rape to sex trafficking over more than two decades of sexual violence against underage white girls in the north of England. The gang passed the victims around to have sex with several men a day, several times a week in houses, cars, taxis and kebab shops. One thirteen-year-old was forced to have sex with twenty men in one night. The kicker is that authorities had evidence of it as far back as 1991 and could have prevented years of abuse to dozens of young girls. But complaints to the police and social workers were ignored.

[…]

Churchill once promised that the English people would fight on the beaches and the landing grounds, in the fields and in the streets, and in the hills, and would never surrender. I believe the average patriotic Brit-on-the-street can still be counted on for that. But increasingly, he is concluding that that might require embracing his own tribal mind. As Harris says,

If there is a tribe that hates me because they see me as a member of an enemy tribe, then my only hope of security lies in standing firmly with my own tribe.

England is not alone in this. The return to the ways of the jungle is evident throughout Europe. And as Thomas Sowell puts it in his essay “Learning from Britain’s Moral Rot, America’s “own politically correct elites are pointing us in the same direction.” Those elites are instilling in American youth the emasculating lie that defending yourself or others against bullying is no different from bullying itself; it is considered a case of two wrongs not making a right. A generation of Americans is being conditioned not to stand up for themselves or to defend the helpless, but to appeal to a mediating (preferably international) authority for peaceful resolution.

Our “tribal” enemies operate under no such self-restraint, and don’t respect authority or peaceful resolution. Unless England, and by extension America and the rest of the West, embrace what Lee Harris calls our own “enlightened tribalism,” and begin defending our culture as ferociously as our enemies are striving to destroy it, then we will witness the crash of civilization in our lifetime.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Be Truly Conservative and the Votes Will Come

by Philip Johnston

With its robust new policies, has the Tory party got over its fear of being portrayed as heartless?

It has been an encouraging few days for those of us fed up with seeing the criminally inclined, the feckless and the work-shy given special treatment in our society. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has said that human rights laws will no longer be a barrier to the deportation of foreign offenders. Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, has announced that 120,000 problem families whose children cause a large proportion of trouble on the streets and in schools will not be allowed to blame their upbringing for their misbehaviour. And Chris Grayling, the Employment Minister, has told welfare claimants that if they fail to turn up to two job interviews they will be forced to work for nothing. That’s more like it: the firm smack of a proper Conservative government. And when you add in the heightened possibility of a referendum on EU membership hinted at by George Osborne at the weekend, then things really are looking up. So why do the words “I’ll believe it when I see it” instantly form in my mind? Only Michael Gove’s pledge to reintroduce traditional teaching methods like the times tables into schools has an air of credibility about it.

[…]

[Reader comment by mcleod on 12 June 2012 at about 8am.]

There is a huge silent majority that are desperate for the abuses in the benefits and immigration system to be outlawed. Slashing benefits further and stopping immigration for all but those who have something to give the country, not take from it, will appeal greatly to all hard working tax payers. They will then give the conservatives another term to continue clearing the mountain of debt and moral mess left by labour.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: BNP Child Sex Protests Outside Burnley Court

FAR right activists have been campaigning outside Burnley Crown Court ahead of a child sex grooming case. Leaflets with the message “fight grooming gangs” were handed out by the BNP protesters who had gathered outside the court building at 10am. Mohammed Imran Amjad (25), of Halifax Road; Haroon Mahmood (21), of John Street; Mohammed Suleman Farooq (22), of Berry Street; Omar Mazafer (21), of Halifax Road; Mohammed Zeeshan Amjad (24), of Halifax Road, Brierfield and Shiraz Afzal (25), of Mansfield Crescent, all of Brierfield, are accused of various sex offences against a girl who was aged 14 at the time. The offences are alleged to have happened between January 1st and September 30th, 2010, at an address in Sackville Street, Brierfield. The trial is expected to last four weeks.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Charity Sock Puppetry: How Government Lobbies Itself for More Government, And We Pay

by Ed West

When I look back at this current era one of my generic memories will be waking up to the Today programme to hear the latest dire warnings about Government cuts — child poverty, starvation, suicide, plague of frogs, that sort of thing. It’s strange, because I don’t recall Radio 4 giving much airtime to groups such as the Taxpayers’ Alliance when Government spending went out of control a few years ago. And this would be maddening enough were it not for the fact that, nine times out of 10, the charity quoted on the Today programme attacking government policy is heavily funded by taxpayers and would be directly affected by the policy in question. This is the subject of a new IEA paper by Christopher Snowdon, Sock Puppets: How the Government Lobbies Itself and Why, which paints a depressing picture of how the Blair government corrupted charity.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: July 21 Failed Suicide Bombers Fight Conviction

Three of the July 21 failed suicide bombers are using the European Court of Human Rights to try and overturn their convictions, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Lawyers for Muktar Ibrahim, Ramzi Mohammed and Yassin Omar are arguing the terrorists had an unfair trial because evidence from initial interviews should not have been used.

They have also claimed access to lawyers after their arrest was unfairly delayed. An attempt to overturn their convictions on similar grounds was thrown out by the Court of Appeal in 2008 but the case has now been taken to Strasbourg. If the European judges were to accept their argument they could rule their human rights were breached and their conviction unsafe. The three, along with Hussain Osman, are serving at least 40 years after attempting to blow themselves up on the London transport network just two weeks after the 7/7 atrocity in 2005, when four successful bombers killed 52 people on three Tube trains and a bus.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Muslim Council Re-Elects Leader, Promotes Female Quotas

  • Secretary General to be directly elected from 2014 onwards
  • 20% minimum quota of women for top decision-making body

The Muslim Council (MCB) has re-elected its key officials for another two-year term, at its annual general meeting held in London yesterday. National and zonal representatives were also elected. Farooq Murad, the returning Secretary General, was joined by Dr Shuja Shafi, also re-elected as Deputy Secretary General, and Harun Khan as Treasurer once more. The several hundred delegates at the London Muslim Centre in Whitechapel also decided to impose a minimum 20% quota for women on the MCB’s key decision-making body, its Central Working Committee (CWC). And in a change sure to enhance the Council’s democracy, future Secretary Generals will have to be directly-elected by all MCB delegates.

Confident community

Speaking to the packed assembly, Murad said: “Looking ahead, I see before us many opportunities to grow as a confident and emerging Muslim community, and for the MCB as an organisation working on behalf of that community.” However, he said that both the MCB and wider Muslim community needed to listen far more intently to Muslim youth, and that the MCB would be working on a series of measures including educational bursaries and business support in the near future. This was reinforced by a specially-convened session at the AGM where radical ideas for youth participation were offered by young civil society activists, including the vice-presidents of the National Union of Students and the Federation of Student Islamic Societies.

He also said that more must be done to bring women forward into Islamic institutions, as he spoke about the importance of promoting ‘family’, including tackling forced marriage and resisting calls to change the legal definition of marriage. The MCB would be working hard to lobby and re-engage with Government and other political forces, fighting for the rights of Muslims as well as campaigning on specific issues, like detainees-without-charge Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan.

Fighting hate

With the spectre of Islamophobia and hate groups like EDL on the horizon, Murad said that the MCB would be standing firm with a coalition of like-minded groups, fighting to prevent the country slipping into the spectre of the intolerant past. “It is time we listen to the voices of sanity, not hate,” he concluded. The constitutional changes to the MCB come after a two-year review, led by its outgoing Election Commissioner, Judge Khurshid Drabu CBE, whom Murad praised widely.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Thousands of Troops Lose Jobs Today in Biggest Redundancy Cull for Decades

Two thousand servicemen who have served their country for at least six years will be told that they have lost their jobs today.

At 9am this morning thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen from across the country will be ordered to appear before their commanding officers and handed their redundancy letters. The biggest redundancy of service personnel for two decades will see a cull of mid-ranking officers who have gained the most operational experience in a generation with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Officers starting their advanced course at the Joint Services Command and Staff College in Shrivenham said they were waiting the news with “great trepidation” last night. “We have all been on near constant operations for almost a decade but some of us know it’s going to be good bye tomorrow without much gratitude or respect for all we and our families have gone through,” said one officer. “You can imagine the state of moral.” The axing of 4,100 troops from all three Services comes as the Armed Forces reduces from 180,000 to 150,000 over the next five years as part of cost-saving defence cuts. But Andrew Robathan, the Defence Minister, said: the MOD would “retain the capabilities that our Armed Forces require in order to meet the challenges of the future”.

[…]

[Reader comment by wattys123 on 12 June 2012 at about 10 am.]

cutting the troops, whilst still allowing over 50,000 Bangladeshis and Pakistanis to arrive through marriage to go straight into a lifetime of benefits.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Worldwide Counter-Jihad Alliance to Launch With Stockholm Demonstration on August 4

NEW YORK, June 12, 2012 — /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The first worldwide counter-jihad initiative will begin August 4 with the First Annual Global Counter Jihad rally in Stockholm,Sweden. Representatives from Stop Islamization of Nations (SION), Stop Islamization of America(SIOA), Stop Islamisation of Europe (SIOE), the English Defence League (EDL), and allied groups will speak.

The Global Counter Jihad rally will feature the president of SION and executive director of SIOA,Pamela Geller, as well as SION Vice President and SIOA associate director Robert Spencer. Also speaking will be the EDL’s Tommy Robinson, SIOE’s Anders Gravers, and other worldwide leaders from official Stop Islamization and Defence League groups.

“The conference,” said Geller in a statement, “heralds the launch of a worldwide counter jihad alliance.. Freedom fighters from Europe and America, as well as India, Israel, and other areas threatened by jihad, will at last be working together and forming a common defense of freedom and human rights.”

Stockholm was chosen for the Global Counter Jihad rally because of the actions of an Iraqi-born Swedish citizen, Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, who travelled to central Stockholm on December 11, 2010 in order to commit mass murder in revenge for Sweden’s “silence” over cartoons of Islam’s founder and the presence of Swedish troops in Afghanistan. Al-Abdaly succeeded only in killing himself, but his jihad plot is particularly noteworthy because he turned to jihad violence and hatred in England, at the Luton Islamic Centre…

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Balkans


Macedonia: New Mosque Causes Ethnic Rift in Southwest

A village mosque that is to be built in Lazec, near Bitola, in southwestern Macedonia, has been creating tension for years in the ethnically mixed village, where 120 Macedonians and 80 Albanians live. The two groups cannot agree on the location of the new mosque. Lazec Macedonians said the original planned location that the Islamic community wants to build coincide with the foundations of the St George Orthodox Church. Tensions further escalated after the municipality council of Bitola decided to approve the mosque at the village entrance. Macedonians from Lazec said that they are not against the construction of religious buildings, but they oppose the planned location.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Algeria: Middle Class Rush to Snatch Up Homes in Spain

Lawyers, doctors, and engineers buying flats in Alicante

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 12 — It seems like ages ago since everyone in Europe used to look with thinly-veiled envy at Spain and its real estate market, where a bit of cement and a few plans were all that was necessary for anything to be sold when the project was still only on paper.

That market used to be eyed also by many North Africans, for whom southern Europe and Spain in particular have always held a special charm. However, it used to be simply a dream for them, given the speed and the prices at which the homes, villas, apartments, etc used to be sold in Spain. The aspiring buyers on the other side of the Mediterranean could only watch in envy.

However, the economic crisis which has befallen Spain has now made it possible for that dream to become reality.

And so it is that one of the “martyr” cities of the Spanish real-estate crisis, Alicante, is getting back a bit of its breath thanks to the many Algerians who now, thanks to savings put away through the years, are now able to strike deals, cash in hand. They are not only billionaires (a category difficult to pinpoint in Algeria, given that most of the real money comes from state-owned entities, such as in the energy sector), but professionals such as lawyers, doctors, engineers, architects, and entrepreneurs are taking a look (often virtually, over the net) at potential property to be bought and then making their offer.

Moral of the story: according to those working in the real-estate sector in Alicante, by now most of the clients buying property come from the other shores of the Mediterranean, and especially Algeria. Alicante is a port-city which lies in southeastern Spain, basically opposite Algeria, and offers a very pleasant climate. Should climate be the only reason for interest in Alicante, then for sure there are a large number of towns all over Spain which meets those specifications. However, it is only this town in particular which can currently offer the best deals, given that whoever turns up with 100,000 euros can even purchase an apartment with a pool.

Not bad at all, we could say…What is certain is that the typical Algerian client has been analysed by real-estate agents, who have created a profile: between 40 and 55 years of age, polite and serious, he is someone who doesn’t create problems with payments (cash, as we said) and doesn’t mind too much whether the flat he buys happens to be on the sixth or seventh floor of a building without a lift. The important thing is that it be close to the sea, because the homes or villas bought are used only in the holiday months.

In reality, there is a problem, in that Algerian law strictly prohibits (violations leading to heavy fines) the export of currency, leading to many rigorous checks. Of course, every system has its flaws, and in trying to get around them it seems that Algerians are masters of the art. This is, quips the website TSA, an open secret.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Egypt’s Fourth Pyramid

by Idris Tawfiq

Cairo’s mosque madrassa of Sultan Hassan is truly awesome. Sometimes referred to as “Egypt’s fourth pyramid,” the mosque is enormous. With a total area of 10,200 square metres and a vast courtyard of 1000 square metres, it is the largest mediaeval monument in the Islamic world and is truly a masterpiece of early Mamluke architecture. Its dome is twenty-eight metres high and the first of its two minarets is the tallest in Islamic Cairo.

[…]

[JP note: If the Salafists have their wicked way it could well become Egypt’s sole pyramid.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Tunisia: Salafis Attack Cities, 86 Arrested

Police stations looted, union and party HQs set on fire

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS — Salafis have gone on the rampage in many Tunisian cities, with the destruction of property and the setting on fire of police stations, party and union headquarters and even a lorry transporting alcoholic beverages. The rioting started over the night in Tunis and then spread to many other cities in the country (such as Sousse and Jendouba), which saw extremely violent episodes fostered by hundreds of Salafis. In some situations the police were forced to shoot into the air in the attempt to quell the rioting, such as in the Ettahir municipality, where in this way they managed to prevent a group of policemen from being attacked by hundreds of Salafis armed with clubs and stones. The extremists’ protest began in the northern outskirts of the capital and especially in Marsa, where the gallery of art is located which — through its exhibition of works held to be immoral by Salafis — sparked their reaction. From Marsa the rioting spread to the southern suburbs to the edges of Carthage, where the presidential palace is located, under military guard the entire night.

In Sousse this morning, the Salafis used incendiary bombs to attack the main building of the Fine Arts Institute, and it was by pure chance that the staff already at work managed to escape the flames. In Jendouba a number of headquarters of non-religious parties were set aflame, as was the headquarters of a union, the Regional Labour Union. The police station was laid to waste, as were a number of shops selling electronic devices. According to the initial statements from the Interior Ministry reported by Reuters, 86 people have been arrested so far.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Tunis: Salafis Run Wild, Soldiers Guard Presidential Palace

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 12 — The Carthage presidential palace was guarded the entire night by soldiers while clashes were underway between Salafis and the police in the Marsa area.

Carthage and Marsa are only a few kilometres away from each other and, over the night, concerns arose that the Salafis might move towards the presidential palace to continue their acts of destruction.

In Marsa, one of the most well-known areas of Tunis and where many foreigners reside, the attacks by the Salafis were halted by youths from the area who formed a human chain, thereby stopping them from laying waste to buildings and businesses. The Salafis, after having destroyed a number of works of art in an art gallery that they held to be immoral, directed their anger at the Marsa police post — attacking and sacking it. For security reasons the police ordered the evacuation of the Plug, one of the most popular bars in Marsa. The area youth, through word of mouth via the internet and text messaging, urged the population to stay indoors, especially women.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Tunisian Authorities Arrest Dozens of Hardliners

Police in Tunisia have arrested 86 Salafists for committing sabotage and arson. The violence reflects the deep deep divides in the country over the role of religion in society.

Tunisian police detained 86 people in Tunis on Tuesday in a clampdown on Salafi Islamists who rioted overnight in protest to an art exhibition. The Salafis claimed that the art was offensive to Islam. It was not known whether there had been any injuries in the confrontation.

“The fact that the violence erupted in several places at the same time makes us think that it was organised,” said ministry spokesman Khaled Tarrouche, adding that an investigation was underway.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


UK: Anti-Israel Activists Target Queen Over Jubilee Diamond

Supporters of a boycott of Israel have issued a call to Queen Elizabeth II, asking the monarch to divest herself of her “blood diamond”. Activists from the Boycott Israel Network want the Queen to take action on the Steinmetz Forevermark Jubilee Diamond, put on display by DeBeers in the Tower of London to mark the monarch’s 60 years on the throne, because of the company’s support for Israeli soldiers. The 35.60 carat pink diamond is not one that falls under the general understanding of a blood diamond, a term which covers stones traded to finance rebel movements or their allies aimed at undermining legitimate governments. According to the company’s website, Steinmetz, which has offices in Tel Aviv, supports the Tzabar Unit of the IDF’s Givati Brigade via the charitable foundation of Agnes and Beny Steinmetz.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



US Ousts Israel From Counterterrorism Forum

The US blocked Israel’s participation in the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s, due to fierce objections from Turkey.

The United States blocked Israel’s participation in the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s (GCTF) first meeting in Istanbul on Friday, despite Israel’s having one of the most extensive counterterrorism experiences in the world. Israel was excluded from the meeting due to fierce objections by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a Washington-based source told Globes news. According the State Department’s website, the GCTF, which was established in September 2011, aims at “strengthening the global counterterrorism (CT) architecture in a manner that complements and reinforces the CT work of existing multilateral bodies.” Twenty-nine countries are participating in the GCTF, ten of which are Arab and/or Muslim countries.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Iran: Grand Ayatollah Golpaygani: Wahhabis Betrays All Religions

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — Top Iranian religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpaygani, slammed Wahhabis for misrepresenting Islam as a violent religion, saying that the fake faith is treacherous to all religions. Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpaygani, warned against those who misrepresent Islam as the religion of violence, calling that an important issue for the Muslim world. He referred to Wahhabis’ violent measures in some countries and said, “Wahhabis project an inaccurate picture of Islam to the world, with what they have done in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and recently in Bahrain and Syria.” Adding, “It is to the point that in some countries Muslims are scared of being accused of terrorism if they reveal their Islamic beliefs.” Top religious figure warned against the insecurity which might prevail if Wahhabis continue their crimes and said, “Those who introduce Islam as the religion of terror and violence are in fact betraying all religions.” A professor at Qom Seminary said the civilization and modern civilized world recognizes Wahhabis as a violent and rejects their methods demanding, “What is the justification behind demolition of historical Islamic monuments when the whole world values historical and cultural inheritances?”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Saudi Clerics Use Social Media to Funnel Funds to Syria Rebels

Jon Schanzer, VP for Research and Steven Miller, a Research Associate at the Washington, DC-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies have their latest report on how Jihadis are using social media to raise funds for Syrian rebels via al Qaeda-linked terrorist conduits. Schanzer and Miller recently authored the monograph Facebook Fatwa: Saudi Clerics, Wahhabi Islam & Social Media (FDD Press 2012).After the Syrian regime recently massacred over 100 civilians in Houla, a group of well-known Saudi clerics, launched an online campaign to raise funds for the Free Syrian Army. Saad al-Bureik, Salman al-Odah, and Muhammad al-Arefe—who have a combined 3 million followers on Twitter—called for Assad’s death, and are now urging their followers to donate to the cause. None of this would be particularly bad (especially considering Washington continues to sit on the fence), except that one of the conduits for the Saudi donations is the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society of Kuwait, which was designated by the United States (2008) and the United Nations (2002) as a terrorist entity for arming and financing al Qaeda. The group’s involvement is particularly alarming in light of reports that al Qaeda’s presence among the Syrian rebels is growing fast. The campaign to support the FSA extends well beyond the borders of Saudi Arabia. The clerics, via social media, are encouraging international deposits to bank accounts in Kuwait, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Qatar, Bahrain, and Jordan. The accounts even extend outside of the Middle East, including in Switzerland, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The fact that the clerics are channeling money to a group so closely associated with al Qaeda is an obvious red flag. Additionally, the mere influence of Saudi cash—and the Wahhabi doctrine attached to it—heightens the risk that the conflict in Syria will become more sectarian in nature.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]



Seven Countries Exempted From Sanctions Against Iran, USA

(AGI) Washington — The Usa excluded seven countries form the oil sanctions against Iran, as announced by Us Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who explained the seven countries are India, Malaya, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan. The new sanctions will penalize the financial institutions making business with Iranian banks. In March some of the Eu countries and Japan had been exempted.

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



Syrian Christians in the War Between Fundamentalists and Secularists, Sunnis and Shiites

Al Qabas, Kuwait’s daily newspaper, reports the arrival in Syria of jihadists from Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Pakistan. Among them many are under 18 years of age. Turkey serves as a transit point for weapons and people. A war of fundamentalism against the Alawite Shia and Sunni fundamentalism against the secularism of the Assad dictatorship. The distrust of Christians. The ambiguous West.

Beirut (AsiaNews) — Al-Qabas, the Kuwaiti Arabic-language newspaper, yesterday published an article stating that dozens of Kuwaitis have crossed the Syrian-Turkish border to fight in the jihad alongside the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the ‘armed opposition against the regime of Bashar el Assad.

According to sources close to these groups that have arrived in Syria, the offices of the FSA and other jihadists welcome militants from Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Pakistan, provide them with Syrian identity documents, should they be captured by the regular army, and ask about their to leave their real identity documents to the Turkish border.

The FSA gave them weapons, after verifying that they have followed a military training in their countries of origin. Then, they send them into different regions of Syria, wherever necessary, to fight against the regular army. The FSA has also sent back a number of jihadists to their countries because they were under 18 years of age.

For its part, Jordan has arrested two Salafi militants who were trying to get into Syria, also to fight alongside the Islamists.

Meanwhile, the Directorate of Fatwas [in Kuwait], at the Ministry of Waqfs, has issued a fatwa (Islamic legal decision) allowing to anticipate the zakat (obligatory Islamic alms) prior to the original date to refugees and Syria’s needy.

My comment

I would like to point out some important details:

o The information comes from an independent newspaper in Kuwait, whose director, Mohammed Jassem al-Sager has received the International Press Freedom Award, for his fight for human rights. He was also a member of national assembly of Kuwait and President of the Arab parliament. He is anything but an ally of the Syrian regime.

o 2. In theArabic text jihâd, means exclusively the armed struggle against the Syrian regime. Many times the term qitâl returns, which means “war”, “fight to the death” (the verb qatala means “kill”).

o 3. The fighters are trained — in their own countries or elsewhere — before being engaged in jihad. Among them are the children, the FSA does not accept them, showing a sense of responsibility.

o 4. No shortage of small arms. They are stored in Turkey near the Syrian border.

o 5. Turkey contributes to the fight against the Syrian regime not as combatants, but by allowing the passage and the organization.

o 6. All these form an alliance of militant Sunni Islamists. The Syrian regime is governed by Alawites (an offshoot of Shiism): So now the fight is between Shiites and Sunnis. In addition, since Syria’s regime is secular, the opposition gathers anti-secularists, who are Sunni Wahhabis and Salafis.

o 7. This explains the distrust of Christians towards the opposition to the regime. The opposition, which initially was against the dictatorship, torture, injustice and human rights, little by little, has changed to a radical Islamist trend (Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi) to eventually become a struggle between two Muslim tendencies: Sunni and Shia. Between two evils — a secular Baathist dictatorship and the Wahhabi religious dictatorship) Christians prefer the first, which they already know and with whom they have lived for a long time.

o 8. The only real solution would be to renounce all dictatorship (secular or religious) and the building of a democratic and liberal state. Unfortunately, in the Arab world, this dream has been realized only in a modest way in Lebanon, perhaps because of the substantial presence of Christians, more prepared for this evolution.

o 9. At present, it seems that Syria is unable to achieve that vision. On the other hand, the West, which could have had a positive role, in previous conflicts (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya) has not given an example of fairness and democracy, but rather of following national interests under the guise of democracy.

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



Turkey: Fundamentalists Forbid Girl in Shorts to Board Bus

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JUNE 12 — A new incident of religious intolerance has taken place in Istanbul where a girl accused she was prohibited from boarding a bus by a group of fundamentalist Islamists because she was dressed with shorts and a t-shirt and did not have her head covered by a veil.

Evrensel newspaper reports that Yagmur Yilmaz, 21 years old, said that just as every day she had wanted to get the bus for Fatih, in the centre of Istanbul, at the Edirnekapi stop, but that she had been blocked by about fifteen fundamentalists, men and women, dressed with turbans and burqas. “They prohibited me from getting on, telling me I couldn’t enter.” One woman said that if I had entered they would all have found themselves “in a situation of sin” while another man shouted at her “shame on you!”. Yagmur also pointed out that on the bus there were other people, other women without a veil, but that “nobody reacted”.

“I was in sweatpants and a t-shirt, but nobody should have reacted like that even if I had been wearing a miniskirt” the girl protested: “it was an awful aggression which should never have taken place.” According to the progress opposition and the lay associations, there is a “rampant Islamisation” going on in Turkey under the government of nationalist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Turkey: Erdogan Approves Kurdish Instruction in Schools

Soldier and Turkish guard killed in clashes with PKK

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JUNE 12 — Turkey’s nationalistic Islamic prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has today announced that the Kurdish language will soon be allowed in the country’s schools. In speaking in front of the parliamentary group of his party AKP, reported the private TV station NTV, Erdogan therefore confirmed the press leaks seen over the past few days.

Newspapers say that six hours of optional instruction in the Kurdish language will be provided for beginning in the next school year. The government’s decision is, according to several analysts, part of a number of “cultural” gestures of opening up to the Kurdish issue that the Ankara government intends to make in its attempt to find a solution to the crisis of Turkish Kurdistan, where tension has been growing unabatedly for the past several weeks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Turkey to Introduce Elective Kurdish Lessons

Turkey on Tuesday announced plans to introduce elective Kurdish language instruction in schools, a step aimed at easing tension that Kurdish minority activists argued didn’t go far enough.

Kurdish politicians and activists have been aggressively promoting official use of Kurdish in recent years as part of their growing demands for regional autonomy — a goal shared by rebels whose fight has killed tens of thousands of people so far.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has long realized that it can’t end the conflict through military measures alone, and has already allowed for Kurdish-language institutes and private Kurdish courses, as well as Kurdish language television broadcasts.

Erdogan on Tuesday said his government would allow elective Kurdish-language lessons in lower-level education along with some other languages and dialects.

“For example, if enough students come together, Kurdish can be taken as an elective lesson, it will be taught and it will be learned,” Erdogan told his lawmakers in Parliament. “This is a historic step.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



UAE: Dubai Police Officers Cleared of Inmate’s Torture Death

DUBAI // Thirteen Dubai Police officers were today cleared of torturing a prison inmate to death during an interrogation two years ago.

However, the Dubai Criminal Court found five of the thirteen officers guilty of unlawfully detaining the prisoner and two other men during a murder investigation and sentenced them each to one month in prison. The officers — a lieutenant colonel, six lieutenants and six lower-ranking officers — were charged with torture and unlawful detention as well as abuse of power, excessive use of force during interrogation, forgery and giving a false statement.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



With Eye on Turkey, Israel Debates Armenia Deaths

The Israeli parliament has begun a debate over whether to recognize the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I as genocide. Such a move would enrage Turkey and further strain the already tense ties between the two countries.

For years, Israel has refrained from commenting on the matter for fear of angering Turkey, which until recently was its closest ally in the Muslim world. But as ties have frayed under the Islamic-oriented rule of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Israel appears to be changing course.

Parliament speaker Reuven Rivlin denied that Tuesday’s debate was related to deteriorating ties with Turkey. In a radio interview, he said there is no intent to provoke, only to remember. It was unclear if there would be a vote Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Russia


Thousands of Russians Protest Against President Putin

Organizers say around 50,000 Russians have turned out to a protest against the rule of President Vladimir Putin. Police put the number at a fraction of that figure. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Moscow for a major protest against the rule of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The demonstration is the first since President Putin signed into law last week new regulations that increased the fines for failing to comply with Russia’s strict rules on organizing and taking part in protests by as much as 150 percent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Caucasus


‘Normal’ Shooting Resumes in Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict

The string of recent killings in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict is nothing unusual, EU diplomats in the region say. Armenia last week accused Azerbaijan of killing four of its soldiers in cross border raids.

Azerbaijan says Armenia killed five of its men in a similar operation. Its media on Monday (11 June) said there is still “intense shooting” from Armenian positions against Azerbaijani targets. The reports are hard to verify because there are no outside monitors in the 20-year-old war over Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

South Asia


Bangladesh Sends Back Muslims Fleeing Myanmar

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Bangladesh says it has sent back 11 boats packed with about 500 Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in neighboring Myanmar. A government official in Cox’s Bazar district, Mohammad Jainul Bari says border forces have been asked by the central government to not allow any refugees from Myanmar to enter the country. Bari says at least 500 people aboard 11 wooden boats have tried to enter Bangladesh over the past three days. Riots between Buddhists and minority Muslims have left at least 12 people dead in Myanmar’s Rakhine state since Friday. The United Nations’ refugee agency estimates 800,000 Rohingya live in mountainous Rakhine state. Thousands attempt to flee every year to Bangladesh, Malaysia and elsewhere in the region, trying to escape a life of abuse.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Burma Sectarian Violence Continues Despite State of Emergency

Gunshots rang out and residents fled burning homes on Tuesday as security forces in western Burma struggled to contain deadly ethnic and religious violence that has displaced thousands of people.

The conflict pitting ethnic Rakhine Buddhists against Rohingya Muslims has left at least a dozen civilians dead and hundreds of homes charred since it began in coastal Rakhine state on Friday. President Thein Sein has declared a state of emergency and deployed army troops to restore stability, warning that the unrest could threaten the fragile nation’s recent democratic reforms as it emerges from half a century of military rule. On Tuesday in the regional capital, Sittwe, police fired live rounds into the air to disperse a group of Rohingyas who could be seen burning homes in one neighbourhood. An Associated Press photographer saw hordes of people running to escape. Police fired skyward again in another neighbourhood to separate hundreds-strong mobs wielding sticks and stones.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



India and Pakistan Reopen Talks Over World’s Highest Battlefield

The Siachen Glacier — ‘the highest battlefield in the world’ — has been a source of dispute between Pakistan and India for decades. All previous rounds of talks between the nuclear-armed rivals have ended in stalemate.

As fresh talks between the nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India kick off, there is tension in the air.

Ahead of the talks — the 13th round since 2005 — the news magazine India Today asked whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could “give away what the army had already won.”

Over and over again, Singh has said he wants to turn Siachen into a glacier of peace. However, although the magazine points out that while an agreement with Pakistan would represent a great achievement for the prime minister it would be at a great cost. Most of the population does not want to return any of the land it won in 1984.

In Pakistan, emotions are also running high. When an avalanche killed 139 Pakistani troops in early April, Pakistan’s army chief of staff General Ashfaq Kayani said the glacier should be demilitarized.

After so many failed rounds of talks, many are hoping for a breakthrough this time.

Indian political analyst Amitabh Mattoo is not too optimistic, however. “Relations have relaxed somewhat since Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s recent visit to Delhi and his visit to a Sufi shrine in Ajmer. Dialogue has calmed down. But, if there is one subject that symbolizes the deeply rooted mistrust between the neighbors, it is Siachen.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Indonesia: West Java: Tasikmalaya Authorities Impose Sharia Law and Compulsory Veil

The objective is to strengthen moral and traditional values. The “morals police “ that does not refer to the Islamic courts, but to civil justice. Jakarta politician: “unconstitutional and discriminatory.” Protests of women: the veil is not a “matter of state” but a personal choice.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Activists and members of civil society in different parts of Indonesia have strongly criticized the proposal of the authority of the District of Tasikmalaya (West Java) to introduce norms inspired by sharia, or Islamic law, by mid-July ahead of the start of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and prayer. The obligations will be the imposition of the veil for all women — foreign and local, and non-Muslim — better known in the archipelago as the jilbab.

The officials of the municipalities also plan to form a local “moral police”, called to ensure compliance with the rules laid down in Islamic law and trials in courts against anyone who breaks the rules. However, the authority considers the application of Sharia law will not be the same as in the province of Aceh. The “moral police”, in fact, will not report the culprits to the Islamic courts, but to civil courts which will issue fines or penalties.

Since 2009 the municipality of Tasikmalaya has been discussing the introduction of Islamic law, among the reasons for the choice, according to the Mayor Syarif Hidayat, the fact that the city is an overwhelming Muslim majority. The rules will also govern the conduct of life of unmarried men and women, including a norm banning women from leaving the house alone. All of this, the promoters feel, aims to minimize behavior that is “contrary to morality” such as premarital sex among adolescents and adults.

After weeks of controversy and confrontation, the mayor Syarif Hidayat has broken his silence to deny the hypothesis of a strict application of Islamic law. What we want to “impose” warned the official, only “local rules” which aim to promote “social and moral values” according to the dictates of Islam and local traditions of Tasikmalaya.

“I do hope — said Hidayat — that the city of Tasikmalaya will be freed from all kinds of misleading conduct, which disadvantages everybody”. And that he will not force “non-Muslims” to practice specific Islamic morals, but there are some “customs” that all are equally bound to respect.

Meanwhile, the proposal has sparked controversy and criticism. In Jakarta Eva Kusuma Sundari, a national politician strongly condemns the plan, saying that the laws inspired by sharia are “unconstitutional and discriminatory.” Even in the same Tasikmalaya dozens of Muslim women protested vigorously, pointing out that the imposition of the veil “is not a matter of state” but a personal choice.

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



Indonesia: Hated Aussies Now Loved

AUSTRALIA has gone from the second most hated country among Indonesians to the second most loved, according to annual surveys by the State Islamic University in Jakarta.

In 2006 Australia was behind only the US as the nation most hated by Indonesians, mainly because of its troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and perceived hypocrisy over its support for Israel, said Dr Makruf Jamhari, the university’s deputy rector. But the 2011 survey showed that Australia was behind only Saudi Arabia as the most loved foreign nation. Dr Jamhari said a perceived change in Australian attitudes to Muslims had helped, but the most important factor was an AusAid program under which more than 2000 pesantren (Islamic schools) had been built.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Indonesia: Twenty Churches Face Demolition

Jakarta, 12 June (AKI/Jakarta Post) — Twenty churches in Indonesia’s Aceh province have been closed down and are likely to be demolished by the local administration.

A lower house lawmaker Eva K. Sundari said her human rights commission received complaints about the forced closure of 20 churches from the United North Sumatra Alliance on Monday.

The core of the problem is the contradictory regulations between the 2007 gubernatorial decree on the guidance of the construction of houses of worship and the 2006 joint ministerial decree governing the construction of houses of worship.

“Under the ministerial decree, a house of worship can only be built if it has secured the approval of 90 worshipers while the gubernatorial decree requires the approval of 150 worshippers,” Eva said Tuesday.

The ministerial decree also requires the approval of 60 local residents of different faiths.

Worse still, Eva said, was a local edict that forbade Muslims from approving the construction of houses of worship other than mosques, which made it impossible for the churches to fulfill the requirements.

Not only have new churches been forced to close but also the Pakpak Dairi Protestant Church, which was established in 1932, is likely to be demolished, she said.

“Guidance from the home minister is needed so that the local consultative forum and the police can be fair and neutral for all citizens and not bow down to intolerant groups,” she said.

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



Malaysia: Respect Sensitivities of Muslims, Bar Council Told

MELAKA, June 11 (Bernama) — Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom today reminded Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee to respect the sensitivities of Muslims by not interfering in Islamic religious affairs. “The issues of Islam are too sensitive to be discussed by the non-Muslims and this is a common understanding among the multi-racial and multi-religious people in Malaysia.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Myanmar: State of Emergency to Stop Buddhist-Muslim Clashes

More than a week ago a Buddhist woman was raped. A number of Muslims were killed because they were suspected of being the perpetrators of the crime. Since then at least 500 homes have been torched and destroyed. Fear is growing that the violence might affect the country’s struggling democracy. Rakhine state is the point of origin for oil and gas pipelines stretching to Yunnan.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) — President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency in western Rakhine state to stop violence between Buddhists and Muslims. For the president, if tensions continue, the country’s steps towards democracy could be jeopardised.

Violence broke out about a week ago when a Buddhist woman was raped and killed. An angry crowd blamed Muslims and attacked a bus carrying Muslim passengers, killing ten.

This weekend, at least 500 houses and other buildings have been razed as the unrest spread with mob and revenge attacks. One report said 5,000 people have been made homeless.

The Rakhine state capital Sittwe is under tight security. But in Yangon, Buddhists protested demanding justice for the violence (pictured). In the previous days, Muslims had protested.

Sittwe is an important trading hub and the point of origin for oil and gas pipelines being built by China National Petroleum Corp that stretch to Yunnan province.

At the same time, the area is home to minority Muslims, including Roihingya, who are viewed as “illegal” immigrants from Bangladesh. In a tragic twist of fate, in Bangladesh, the Roihingya are seen as illegal immigrants from Myanmar.

With its 135 or more ethnic groups, Myanmar has always had difficulties in having them live together. In the past, the country’s military junta used an iron fist against the more rebellious of them.

Yesterday’s state of emergency is the first exceptional measure taken by Thein Sein, who became president more than a year ago and has been trying to move the country from a military dictatorship to a limited democracy.

Muslims are 4 per cent in a population of 60 million. Rohingya number 750,000 according to UN figures, mostly in Rakhine state.

Another million or so are divided between Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia.

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



Pakistan: DG Khan Rape Case: Three Policemen Remanded

MULTAN: A court on Monday remanded three border policemen accused of raping five young women and filming the attack, officials said.

The women, aged 15 to 21, said they were taken from a picnic resort to a police station in the town of Dera Ghazi Khan where they were raped. “The court remanded the three policemen into custody until June 14,” said Tariq Basra, of the Border Military Police. “We are waiting for the medical report to ascertain whether (an) allegation of rape is true or false,” Basra told AFP. The alleged attack, which the women said was filmed by the officers, according to investigators, took place last Thursday. After the women went to the police, the accused took refuge with tribal elders, who handed them back to police late on Sunday, said district administrator, Iftikhar Ali Sahu. The court also refused to allow the girls to return to their parents, saying that they are instead in the custody of administration officials. These girls will be produced before the court again on Tuesday enabling the judge to verify the identity of the parents, guardians,” Basra told AFP.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Far East


China’s Wuhan City Covered in Mysterious Haze

Young and old residents of the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan were advised to stay indoors on Monday after a thick haze blanketed the city of nine million people, official media said.

Described by residents as opaque with yellowish and greenish tinges, the fug descended suddenly in the morning, prompting people to rush to put on face masks, witnesses told AFP.

The official Xinhua news agency quoted the environmental protection department of Hubei province saying in a statement: “Children, the elderly and people with heart or respiratory diseases are advised to stay indoors.”

Xinhua said straw burning was the cause and denied there had been any industrial accidents in or near Wuhan, after Internet rumours suggested there had been an explosion at a chemical complex northeast of the city.

“I looked out of the window of my office and I could not believe my eyes,” said resident Li Yunzhong. “At first I thought it was going to rain. In 31 years in Wuhan I have never known anything like it. We are very worried because we do not know what it is.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



‘Crouching Tiger’ Actress Zhang Ziyi Sues Over Prostitution Reports

Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi sued a Hong Kong newspaper after it claimed she earned millions of dollars from having sex with top Communist Party leaders. The Apple Daily alleged that the star of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Memoirs of a Geisha” slept with disgraced Chinese leader Bo Xilai at least 10 times between 2007 and 2011.

The report, repeating allegations on U.S.-based news website Boxun.com, claimed she negotiated similar deals with several other powerful men, including Bo’s close friend Xu Ming, a billionaire tycoon who Chinese authorities are investigating for alleged corruption.

The newspaper alleged she earned around $110 million from prostituting herself. The 33-year-old denied the claims, branding them “completely untrue” and demanding an apology.

Zhang filed a lawsuit against the Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s biggest newspaper, and its sister publication Next Magazine, describing the reports as “seriously defamatory” and “false,” AFP reported.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



EU Says Deal With China Key to Fight Fake Wine

(BEIJING) — The EU commissioner for agriculture said Tuesday an agreement with Beijing to battle counterfeits would likely be signed in September, adding the deal was key for the region’s wine and spirit sector.

“I think that in September we will be able to sign a protocol of cooperation on the fight against counterfeiting,” Dacian Ciolos told reporters on a trip to Beijing.

“This is important especially for our wines and spirits. It’s our most important part of exports (of agricultural products) from Europe to the Chinese market.”

China is home to the biggest market of counterfeits — including wine — in the world, and despite repeated government pledges to root out fake goods, these are still widely available throughout the country.

This illegal market has had a significant impact on European winemakers, including on French vintages — and particularly Bordeaux wineries that have a good reputation in China.

Exports of European wine and spirits to China come to more than one billion euros ($1.2 billion) annually, and it is estimated that counterfeiting causes some hundreds of millions of euros in losses.

Counterfeit bottles of Bordeaux’s Chateau Lafite wine — hugely popular in China where it embodies French tradition and sophistication — are particularly rife. According to Romain Vandevoorde, a wine importer in Beijing, “there is more Lafite 1982 in China than was produced in France”.

On Tuesday, Chang Xiaocun, an official at China’s commerce ministry, said authorities in Shanghai had recently seized more than 4,000 fakes bottles of Chateau Lafite.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific


Coroner Rules Dingo Really Did Take Australian Baby in 1980

Settling a notorious 1980 case that split the nation and led to a mistaken murder conviction, an Australian coroner ruled Tuesday that a dingo took a baby from a campsite in the Outback, just as her mother said from the beginning.

The eyes of Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton and her ex-husband, Michael Chamberlain, welled with tears as the findings of the fourth inquest into the disappearance of their 9-week-old daughter, Azaria, were announced in court. Lindy Chamberlain served more than three years in prison for the baby’s death, but was later cleared and has always maintained that a wild dog took her.

“We’re relieved and delighted to come to the end of this saga,” a tearful but smiling Chamberlain-Creighton told reporters outside the court in the northern city of Darwin.

Azaria disappeared from a campsite near Ayers Rock, the red monolith in the Australian desert now known by its Aboriginal name Uluru. The case became famous internationally through the 1988 movie “A Cry in the Dark.”

Many Australians initially did not believe that a dingo was strong enough to take away the baby. Public opinion swayed harshly against the couple; some even spat on Chamberlain-Creighton and howled like dingoes outside her house.

No similar dingo attack had been documented at the time, but in recent years the wild dogs have been blamed for three fatal attacks on children. Few doubt the couple’s story today.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Nigeria: Al-Qaeda Blames Germany for Engineer’s Death

Lagos, 12 June (AKI) — Al-Qaeda in North Africa blamed Germany for a botched blitz in May that killed a German hostage held in Nigeria, according to United States-based SITE monitoring service, which tracks jihadi websites.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said Germany gave its okay to the raid which resulted in the stabbing death of the engineer.

Raupach was kidnapped on 26 January in the northern Nigerian city Kano following a major terrorist attack there that killed at least 185 people.

The AQIM statement said Germany had given Nigeria the “green light” for the military operation “at a time when the militants were willing to peacefully settle the issue” if their demands were met. The group did not explicitly claim responsibility for the abduction and killing.

“We say to the family of the German citizen Edgar Fritz Raupach, the blood of your son hangs from the neck of your government,” AQIM said, according to a SITE translation of the statement.

AQIM grew out of the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, and has its roots in an Islamist militia involved in Algeria’s civil war in the 1990s that cost between 150,000 and 200,000 lives. In recent years it has expanded its activities to include Mali, Niger and Mauritania and is considered by experts to be the most active Al-Qaeda offshoot.

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

Latin America


Argentine Protesters Burn British Flag

A small group of protesters burned a British flag outside the headquarters of Argentina’s oil company, saying YPF SA should stop using tankers that fly flags from the Commonwealth.

Before it was expropriated from Spain’s Repsol oil company, YPF used the Stela Polaris, which flies a Bermudan flag, to carry oil from Patagonian ports. Liliana Fadul, a congressional deputy from the Tierra del Fuego province that nominally includes the Falkland Islands, says YPF is now violating regulations designed to thwart offshore oil and gas exploration in contested waters around the Falklands, which Argentina claims as the Malvinas. The protest was organised by Quebracho, a leftist group involved in a series of anti-British rallies during this year’s 30th anniversary of Argentina’s occupation of the islands.

A veteran of the 1982 war burned a replica of the British Union Jack and joined other protesters in presenting demands to YPF officials.

In response, the company said it has no plans to continue using British-flagged ships to transport its energy. “YPF only made an exception this one time, buying from a British ship to guarantee the supply of oil and gas in Tierra del Fuego against the coming winter,” the YPF statement said.

Also on Monday, Argentine Defense Minister Arturo Puricelli unveiled a plaque in the capital praising Argentina’s “heroes of the Malvinas” and noting that President Cristina Kirchner has declared June 10 to be the “Day of Affirmation of the Argentine Rights over the Malvinas.”

On June 10, 1829, Puricelli noted, Luis Vernet was named the country’s first “political and military commander” of the islands. Vernet later returned to Buenos Aires, leaving behind a small settlement that was taken over by British forces in 1833. Britain has held the islands ever since, with the exception of Argentina’s 74-day occupation in 1982.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Mexican Cartel Hides Millions in Horse Races, U.S. Alleges

A top drug ring enforcer’s brother, taken into custody Tuesday, was behind a horse breeding organization in the United States that officials say laundered millions of dollars.

[Return to headlines]

Immigration


Danish Presidency in Firing Line Over Schengen Decision

Furious members of the European Parliament have threatened to cut relations with the Danish EU presidency following a decision by member states to exclude parliament from having a say on how rules in the Union’s borderless area are applied.

“Since the evening of June 7, the Danish Presidency is no longer a credible interlocutor,” said French centre-right MEP Joseph Daul, who chairs the parliament’s largest group the EPP, on Tuesday (12 June).

“From now to June 30 at midnight, we shall address ourselves exclusively either to the European Council or informally to the next Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus,” said Daul.

Member states on 7 June rejected a European Commission proposal that would have lifted evaluation of the Schengen area from the current peer-to-peer review up to EU-level supervision.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Israel: Iron Fist Against African Immigrants and Refugees

Interior Minister (SHAS) wants their mass expulsion

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JUNE 11 — Israel is beginning to adopt an iron fist against African immigrants without residence permits in the country. Thousands of Africans stayed at home today as “Operation Go Back Home” began in the streets of a number of Israeli towns, the Red Sea tourist resort of Eilat in particular. The new policy, which has been ordered by the Interior Minister Eli Yishai (from the Orthodox SHAS party), will see the gradual expulsion of tens of thousands of Africans who have entered Israel illegally after crossing the Egyptian Sinai.

On Friday, an Israeli court approved the expulsion of the South Sudanese community, which numbers around 1,500 people across Israel. “In future, I hope that we will also be able to expel the Eritreans and the Sudanese,” Yishai said. There are at least 35,000 Eritreans in the country and 15,000 Sudanese. “We want to defend the Jewish and Zionist nature of Israel,” Yishai added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Italy: Egyptian Boat With Dozens of Illegal Migrants

Rome, 12 June (AKI) — An Egyptian fishing vessel smuggling 60 migrants has been intercepted by Italian police off the southern coast of Sicily.

The fishing boat was transported to the port of Pozzallo in Ragusa province. Fifteen minors were among the passengers.

Italy is a common destination for boats transporting migrants from North Africa.

Tens-of-thousands of migrants reached Italy by boat from North Africa amid last years popular uprisings in much of the Arab world.

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

Culture Wars


Intersex People in EU: Ashamed and Invisible

Mainstream society in Europe is slowly coming to understand sexual minorities — lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. But intersex people in the EU live largely in the dark.

“There is very little knowledge about intersex people … It is a part of our society that is entirely hidden,” Silvan Agius, a researcher at the Brussels-based NGO Ilga-Europe and co-author of a new study on the subject, told EUobserver.

The study — requested by the European Commission and released on Monday (11 June) — reflects that obscurity. “It remains unclear whether intersex people are covered by the existing EU anti-discrimination legal framework mainly because EU legislation is silent on the issue,” it says.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Morocco: Thousands of Gay Tourists Due in Casablanca

Rabat, 11 June (AKI) — The expected arrival Monday of over 2,000 gay tourists in the coastal city of Casablanca has sparked controversy in the Muslim country, daily al-Khabar reported.

A total of 2,100 gays from various countries were expected to visit Casablanca’s imposing King Hassan II mosque, which stands on a promontory overlooking the sea.

The gays are on a package tour that will also take in the ancient Moroccan city of Marrakesh, the paper said.

The package tour began in Spain’s northeastern coastal city of Barcelona and ends in the eastern coastal city of Valencia.

Although homosexuality is prohibited under Islam, Morocco is one of the few Arab countries that has an association for gay people and a gay magazine.

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



The Media’s Double Standard for Muslims

by Robert Spencer

The MSM is as paternalistic and condescending as any old colonial occupier ever was.

The mainstream media claims to be multicultural, respecting all cultures equally, but actually holds Muslims and the Islamic world to a standard so low that it would have brought a furious blush to the cheeks of the most dyed-in-the-wool White Man’s Burden-carrier in the old British Raj. Case in point: have you heard about the London vicar who said that if a newborn baby is not an Anglican, “the devil inserts his index finger into the anus of the newborn, who thus becomes a passive homosexual”? Of course, no vicar ever said such a thing; it was actually the London-based Shi’ite cleric Yasser Habib, who said on his Fadak TV satellite channel on May 24 that at birth, “if the newborn is not one of our Shiites, the devil inserts his index finger into the anus of the newborn, who thus becomes a passive homosexual.” If a Christian minister really had said such a thing, the outcry would be immediate, indignant, and international; but the world will little note nor long remember the statements of Yasser Habib. A Muslim cleric saying hateful things about those not within his fold? Go back to sleep.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Turkey: Supreme Court: Prison for ‘Unnatural’ Video Sex

Category includes gay, oral, anal sex, rape & necrophilia

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JUNE 11 — As the Turkish press reports today, the Supreme Appeal Court in Ankara has ruled as “unnatural” any acts of gay sex, oral, anal or group sex — including that of the sado-masochistic sort — and sex with animals or with corpses. According to daily paper Vatan, in a new ruling, the High Court has provided for the imprisonment of any persons in possession of videos displaying scenes of oral or anal sex, on the basis of Article 262/2 of the Turkish criminal code. Punishments foreseen for representing “unnatural” vary from one to four years in prison. As Hurriyet points out, in a previous ruling, the court had defined pornographic videos of gay or group sex as having “unnatural” contents. In this latest statement, the supreme court said that a six-month sentence imposed by a provincial court for the selling of pornographic videos with oral or anal sex content had been too lenient because such content is “unnatural”. The new ruling comes at a time that voices are being raised in Turkey’s lay communities against the ‘rampant’ Islamification of the country after ten years of rule by Islamic-nationalist premier Recep tayyip Erdogan.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



UK: Gay Laws ‘To Halt Church Weddings’, Warn Religious Leaders

Churches will have to stop holding all weddings if they are forced to approve ceremonies for gay couples, religious leaders are warning.

The Church of England claims proposed reforms to allow same-sex marriages are not legally sound. It insists it will be unable to resist any challenge under European Human Rights laws to proposals excluding religious venues from having to hold gay weddings. This would make it ‘impossible’ for the Church of England to go on conducting any services on behalf of the state, it says. But gay rights groups say the church is making misleading claims about the gay marriage proposals. Campaigner Peter Tatchell said: ‘They will have no impact on faith organisations or places of worship.’ The church’s stance is set out in its response to government consultation. Ministers insist only civil venues will have to conduct gay weddings.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: It Can’t Just be on the Students: The University and Unions Must Act

This Wednesday, hate preacher Yusuf Chambers will be addressing students at the University of York at the invitation of the Islamic Society. Only last year, there was a backlash on campus after the invitation of anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynist hate preachers. How can such hatred rear its ugly head again? Any student response is troubled by an impermanence to its victories. A long term solution requires the efforts of the University’s ‘civil society’: the faculty, student union, student societies, the welfare office, inter alia, all need to put as much effort into fighting hatred as extremist groups put into spreading it.

Democracy is a very useful tool for Islamist groups. Just as tolerance can give freedom to intolerence; so too can democracy offer ammunition to anti-democratic groups. Harry’s Place readers are well aware of the manner in which anti-Western ideologues work to exploit and manipulate democratic institutions and ideas — employing everything from British libel law to international arrest warrants. The academic Richard Landes describes the perpetrators as ‘demopaths’: people who use democratic language and invoke human rights only when it serves their interests. The most lethal demopaths, Landes notes, use democratic rights to destroy democracy.

[…]

[Reader comment by Evan on 11 June 2012 at 5:52 pm.]

These hate-preachers are mainstream. They’ve large and devoted followings. That’s the reality. Who’s going to deal with this? No one because everyone is scared out of their wits.

And when you’re scared out of your wits, codes of conduct mean squat

[Reader comment by Steve James on 11 June 2012 at 6:51 pm.]

“I’d be interested to know why the LGBT and Women’s Officer didn’t oppose these speakers having a platform at the University.” Maybe they were scared to.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

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