News Feed 20101113

Financial Crisis
» Bernanke’s Worst Nightmare: Ron Paul New Fed Overseer
» Ireland Has Been Betrayed by Its EU ‘Friends’
» Ireland ‘In Preliminary Talks With EU on Bailout’
» It’s Not the “Great Recession”. It’s the Great Bank Robbery
» Leading Chinese Credit Rating Agency Downgrades USA Government Bonds
» Paul Craig Roberts: Phantom Jobs
» Syria: Youth Unemployment Situation Worsens
» Why World Leaders Smacked Down Obama at G20 Summit
» 8 House Races Still Undecided
» America’s Clearest and Present Danger
» CAIR Tells Muslims How to Limit TSA Inspection
» Corrupt MSM Will Reap What it Has Sown
» Dupage Proposal Would Ban New Neighborhood Churches
» Expert: Past 10 Days Have Been Worst of President Obama’s ‘Political Life’
» How to Restore States’ Sovereignty
» How the West is Being Lost
» Muslim Group Advises Women Wearing Hijabs to Allow TSA ‘Enhanced Pat Downs’ Only on Head and Neck Area
» Tax Records Belie CAIR Spokesman’s Claim
Europe and the EU
» Autobiography of Danish Mohammed Cartoonist Goes on Sale
» Britain’s Top Soldier Says Al-Qaeda Cannot be Beaten
» Christopher Hitchens: ‘You Have to Choose Your Future Regrets’
» Germany: French Police Deployed at Anti-Nuclear Protests
» Germany Considers Loosening Arms Export Controls
» Germany: Jewish Doctor Refuses to Operate on Nazi Patient
» Italian Aids Vaccine ‘Working’
» Italy: Pompeii to Get Foundation After Gladiator School Collapse
» Italy: Most of Pompeii Site ‘At Risk of Collapse’
» Italy: House of the Vestal Virgins to Reopen After 26 Years
» The Indictment of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff
» UK: Disgusting Islamophobia: Woolas Smears MPACUK With Fake ‘Death Threat’ Leaflet [4 May 2010]
» UK: Election 2010 Success: Four Zionists Taken Out by MPACUK
» UK: MPACUK CEO Zulfi Bukhari: Election Wrap Up [7 May 2010]
» UK: Muslim Tactical Voting Brings UK Election Success [11 May 2010]
» UK: MPACUK Criticises Woolas Appointment [5 October 2008]
» UK: Muslim Fanatics: We’d Burn More Poppies
» UK: Muslim Group Plans Remembrance Sunday Protest
» UK: Oldham Pitt Street Mosque: Phil Woolas’s ‘Religous’ Thugs
» UK: Rolling Election Views From You — the Public! [7 May 2010]
» UK: The JC and the Phil Woolas Affair
» UK: The Sun Finds Poppy Thugs
» UK: Woolas Should Go Quietly
» Vatican: Envoys Set to Travel to Ireland for Abuse Probe
» Kosovo: Seven Indicted for Human Organs Trafficking
North Africa
» Egypt Raises Sinai Alert Level Over Gaza-Bound Terror Squad
» Egyptian Security Attempts to Stop Construction of Church
Israel and the Palestinians
» Barack Obama: The Most Anti-Israel President!
» Column One: Addressing Our Homegrown Enemies
» Six Years Ago, Yasir Arafat Died; Today His Legacy Still Prevails: No to Peace, No to Compromise
Middle East
» De Varthema’s Journey in Mecca of the 16th Century
» Fundamentally Freund: Why is Obama Arming Israel’s Enemies?
» Into the Iraqi Night
» Saudi Arabia: ‘Mecca Metro’ Ready for Pilgrims
» UAE: Nuclear Power in Dubai’s Future
» Yemen: The War on Terror and a Deadly Game of Cat and Mouse
South Asia
» Afghanistan: Taliban Insurgents in Attack on NATO Base
» Are Religious Fasts-Unto-Death Suicide?
» Coup in Pakistan ‘A Real Possibility’
» Malaysia: Boy Caned for Bringing Pork to School
» Repeal Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law
Far East
» Disney World in Which Chinese Children ‘Toil for 76 Hours a Week’
Australia — Pacific
» Indian Websites Do Your Homework for $2
» UK: Muslims Vow to Unseat Zionists [8 April 2010]
Culture Wars
» The Feminist Politics of Islamic Misogyny

Financial Crisis

Bernanke’s Worst Nightmare: Ron Paul New Fed Overseer

Promises to change House committee’s focus from commemorative coins to monetary policy

NEW YORK ( — Ben Bernanke has had his hands full since his first day on the job as Federal Reserve chairman nearly five years ago. It’s about to get even tougher.

His harshest critic on Capitol Hill, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, is about to become one of his overseers.

With the Republicans coming to power, Paul, who would like to abolish the Fed and the nation’s current monetary system, will become the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy.

If you’ve never heard of the committee before, you’re not alone. But Paul promises you’ll be hearing a lot more from it.

Paul doesn’t think he’ll be able to move his proposal to eliminate the Fed, or to allow Americans to use gold instead of paper money as currency. But he said he does intend to use his new position as “a mini-bully pulpit” to criticize Fed policy and call more attention to what he sees as its negative consequences. And he’s confident that American voters are ready to delve into those monetary policy questions.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Ireland Has Been Betrayed by Its EU ‘Friends’

The country is now effectively bust — its brutal cuts will have been in vain, says Jeremy Warner.

When politics and economics collide, it is often said, the economics always ends up winning. The curiosity of the euro is that it has managed to defy this otherwise universally applicable rule; the politics somehow continues to triumph over the single currency’s self-evidently flawed economics.

For how much longer can this continue? Events in the bond markets this week make it more or less inevitable that Ireland is going to have to follow Greece in seeking support from the European Union’s new bailout fund. Unlike Greece, Ireland is fully funded through to the middle of next year, so there is no immediate danger of a liquidity crisis. All the same, markets aren’t waiting around to find out: some kind of denouement seems to be fast approaching.

Yields on Irish government debt have rocketed to their highest level since the launch of the euro, threatening to wipe out virtually all the benefit that Ireland has derived from the eurozone’s low interest rate environment.

[Return to headlines]

Ireland ‘In Preliminary Talks With EU on Bailout’

The Republic of Ireland is in preliminary talks with EU officials for financial support, the BBC has learned.

It is now no longer a matter of whether but when the Irish government formally approaches the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) for a bailout, correspondents say.

The provisional estimate for EFSF loans is believed to lie between 60bn and 80bn euros ($82-110bn; £51-68bn).

Dublin says there are no talks on an application for emergency EU funding.

A spokesman for Ireland’s department of finance said the country was funded until the middle of 2011, the public-service RTE broadcaster reported.

RTE had earlier said talks had been held on how a bail-out might happen in a theoretical worst-case scenario.

The European Commission would not formally comment on the matter.

Eurozone officials told the Reuters news agency on Friday that discussions were under way, with one saying that it was “very likely” Ireland would receive financial assistance.

The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, said on Saturday that it had not been asked for aid.


           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

It’s Not the “Great Recession”. It’s the Great Bank Robbery

In case it’s not crystal clear, this isn’t the “Great Recession”.

It’s really the Great Bank Robbery.

First, there was the threat of martial law if the $700 Billion Tarp bailout wasn’t passed. Specifically, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson warned Congress that there would be martial law unless the Tarp bailouts were approved.


As I wrote in March 2009:

The bailout money is just going to line the pockets of the wealthy, instead of helping to stabilize the economy or even the companies receiving the bailouts:

  • Bailout money is being used to subsidize companies run by horrible business men, allowing the bankers to receive fat bonuses, to redecorate their offices, and to buy gold toilets and prostitutes
  • A lot of the bailout money is going to the failing companies’ shareholders
  • Indeed, a leading progressive economist says that the true purpose of the bank rescue plans is “a massive redistribution of wealth to the bank shareholders and their top executives”
  • The Treasury Department encouraged banks to use the bailout money to buy their competitors, and pushed through an amendment to the tax laws which rewards mergers in the banking industry (this has caused a lot of companies to bite off more than they can chew, destabilizing the acquiring companies)

And as the New York Times notes, “Tens of billions of [bailout] dollars have merely passed through A.I.G. to its derivatives trading partners”.


In other words, through a little game-playing by the Fed, taxpayer money is going straight into the pockets of investors in AIG’s credit default swaps and is not even really stabilizing AIG.


But certainly quantitative easing is helping the little guy?

Unfortunately, QE only helps the big banks and giant corporations, and the small number of investors who hold most of the stock. See this, this, this, this and this.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Leading Chinese Credit Rating Agency Downgrades USA Government Bonds

One of China’s leading credit rating agencies has downgraded United States of America government debt in response to what it sees as deliberate devaluation of the dollar by quantitative easing and other means.

If China, now the second biggest economy in the world, stops buying US government bonds this could have a very negative effect on the global recovery. The Dagong Global Credit Rating Company analysis is highly critical of American attempts to borrow their way out of debt. It criticises competitive currency devaluation and predicts a “long-term recession”.

Dagong Global Credit says: “In order to rescue the national crisis, the US government resorted to the extreme economic policy of depreciating the U.S. dollar at all costs and this fully exposes the deep-rooted problem in the development and the management model of national economy.

“It would be difficult for the U.S. to find the correct path to revive the US economy should the US government fail to understand the source of the credit crunch and the development law of a modern credit economy, and stick to the mindset of traditional economic management model, which indicates that the US economic and social development will enter a long-term recession phase.”

The analysis concludes: “The potential overall crisis in the world resulting from the US dollar depreciation will increase the uncertainty of the U.S. economic recovery. Under the circumstances that none of the economic factors influencing the U.S. economy has turned better explicitly it is possible that the US will continue to expand the use of its loose monetary policy, damaging the interests the creditors.

“Therefore, given the current situation, the United States may face much unpredictable risks in solvency in the coming one to two years. Accordingly, Dagong assigns negative outlook on both local and foreign currency sovereign credit ratings of the United States.”

[Return to headlines]

Paul Craig Roberts: Phantom Jobs

If we cannot trust what the government tells us about weapons of mass destruction, terrorist events, and the reasons for its wars and bailouts, can we trust the government’s statement last Friday that the US economy gained 151,000 payroll jobs during October?

Apparently not. After examining the government’s report, statistician John Williams ( reported that the jobs were “phantom jobs” created by “concurrent seasonal factor adjustments.” In other words, the 151,000 jobs cannot be found in the unadjusted underlying data. The jobs were the product of seasonal adjustments concocted by the BLS.

As usual, the financial press did no investigation and simply reported the number handed to the media by the government.

The relevant information, the information that you need to know, is that the level of payroll employment today is below the level of 10 years ago. A smaller number of Americans are employed right now than were employed a decade ago.

Think about what that means. We have had a decade of work force growth from youngsters reaching working age and from immigration, legal and illegal, but there are fewer jobs available to accommodate a decade of work force entrants than before the decade began.

During two years from December 2007 — December 2009, the US economy lost 8,363,000 jobs, according to the payroll jobs data. As of October 2010, payroll jobs purportedly have increased by 874,000, an insufficient amount to keep up with labor force growth. However, John Williams reports that 874,000 is an overestimate of jobs as a result of the faulty “birth-death model,” which overestimates new business start-ups during recessions and underestimates business failures. Williams says that the next benchmark revision due out next February will show a reduction in current employment by almost 600,000 jobs. This assumes, of course, that the BLS does not gimmick the benchmark revision. If Williams is correct, it is more evidence that the hyped recovery is non-existent.

Discounting the war production shutdown at the end of World War II, which was not a recession in the usual sense, Williams reports that “the current annual decline [in employment] remains the worst since the Great Depression, and should deepen further.”

In short, there is no employment data, and none in the works, unless gimmicked, that supports the recovery myth. The US rate of unemployment, if measured according to the methodology used in 1980, is 22.5%. Even the government’s broader measure of unemployment stands at 17%. The 9.6% reported rate is a concocted measure that does not include discouraged workers who have been unable to find a job after 6 months and workers who who want full time jobs but can only find part-time work.

Another fact that is seldom, if ever, reported, is that the payroll jobs data reports the number of jobs, not the number of people with jobs. Some people hold two jobs; thus, the payroll report does not give the number of employed people.

The BLS household survey measures the number of people with jobs. The same October that reported 151,000 new payroll jobs reported, according to the household survey, a loss of 330,000 jobs.

The American working class has been destroyed. The American middle class is in its final stages of destruction. Soon the bottom rungs of the rich themselves will be destroyed.

The entire way through this process the government will lie and the media will lie.

The United States of America has become the country of the Big Lie. Those who facilitate government and corporate lies are well rewarded, but anyone who tells any truth or expresses an impermissible opinion is excoriated and driven away.

But we “have freedom and democracy.” We are the virtuous, indispensable nation, the salt of the earth, the light unto the world.

[Return to headlines]

Syria: Youth Unemployment Situation Worsens

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 12 — The lack of job opportunities and highly qualified personnel needed in the private sector have worsened the unemployment problems that young people in Syria are facing. The conditions for many jobs are seen as unfair, forcing the majority of people to turn to the public sector, according to the website of satellite network Al Arabiyya, which cited data from the statistics office. Eighty-one percent of university graduates, according to official data, wait for four years before getting their first job. This percentage drops to 61% for young people with secondary school diplomas or for those who have taken a professional training course. “The state absorbs about 30-40% of the 250,000 graduates,” commented economic researcher Samir Sefan, who added that the rest look for work in the private sector, which is not growing and which cannot create sufficient job opportunities. The Syrian population, according to a report from the Planning Agency, increased between 1991 and 2008 by 50%. During the same period the percentage of workers in the total eligible working population dropped during the same period from 46.6% to 44.8%. The average employment percentage for the younger segment of the population from ages 15-24 declined from 30.8% of the total workforce in 2001 to 20.4% in 2008. “The main interest for young Syrians is finding a job that can guarantee their future,” according to Bilal Urabi, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Damascus. Finding employment, he continued, is a very difficult task according to young people. As soon as a help wanted add comes out, you immediately find a long line of unemployed people applying. “The high rate of youth unemployment is due,” continued Bilal Urabi, “to demographic growth and an inadequate education system, which does not provide youngsters with the qualities that the private sector demands.” “When we are studying at university,” commented Lama, who recently graduated with a degree in journalism and who works for a small magazine, “we are very optimistic, but after graduating disappointment comes quickly because our qualifications are not sufficient to obtain a job.” The problem, added Lama, is that many of us do not have the necessary “drive to obtain a job”. The majority of young people who are not qualified prefer to work in the public sector because it is seen as safer and more stable than the private sector. “Due to the absence of trade unions in the private sector, employers act at times like ‘father-bosses’ and force us,” concluded Lama, “to work more than 12 hours per day for very low wages.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Why World Leaders Smacked Down Obama at G20 Summit

Fresh from his self-described shellacking in this month’s midterm elections, President Obama has gotten pretty much the same treatment from foreign leaders as he has made his way through Asia this week.

Leaders at the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Seoul, South Korea — China and Germany topping the list — made it clear that they feel freer than ever to stand up to the United States on global economic issues. And South Korea refused to bow to Obama administration demands for reworking a US-Korea free-trade agreement dating from the Bush administration, putting off conclusion of the trade pact until at least next year.


But perhaps nothing played a bigger role in lining up international opposition to Obama than the Federal Reserve’s action last week — pumping $600 billion in new money into the economy. The world saw that move as devaluing the dollar to make American products cheaper, rather than as an effort to stimulate US economic growth.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


8 House Races Still Undecided

Republicans gained at least 59 House seats in last week’s election, but they are positioned to win more. While Democratic incumbents hold leads in three of the still-contested races, they trail in five others, with thousands of ballots still to be counted.

Here is POLITICO’s list of undecided races…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

America’s Clearest and Present Danger

Communists eat their own in pursuit of any means to an end. Stalin is the classic example, killing 50 million people under his control through purges, starvation, and any other means to his ends.

George Will stated in a recent writing the opinion that Obama is a spent volcano. The evidence is legion and growing. His swaggering and lecturing foreign leaders is mocked and now routinely rebuffed. His domestic policies ridiculed and reviled. His control of congress crippled. His only remaining usefulness to Soros is that of a rear guard continuation of sowing seeds of diversity within the American populace. Here too his effectiveness is shown by polls to be dwindling precipitously.

Obama has served several functions consistent with ‘Soros’ strategy, the quotation marks indicating that the strategy is a group effort. Their activities represent the classic model of first destabilizing a target government as a prelude to crushing it.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

CAIR Tells Muslims How to Limit TSA Inspection

‘They SHOULD NOT subject you to a full-body or partial-body pat-down’

An Islamic group that was named an unindicted co-conspirator in a terror-funding case is telling Muslim women how to instruct Transportation Security Administration agents at airport checkpoints.

The advisory by the Council on American-Islamic Relations comes amid controversial new requirements set by the TSA for passengers traveling by air either to submit to a nude full-body scan or have a full pat-down that includes private parts of the body.

Now, according to CAIR, those procedures may be for others but not necessarily for Muslim woman.

“If you opt out of the full-image body scanner, you have the right to request that the manual search be conducted in private,” CAIR said on its website. “It is your right to be screened by an officer of the same gender. The TSA states in its Head-to-Toe Screening Policies: ‘It is TSA’s policy that passengers should be screened by an officer of the same gender in a professional, respectful manner.’“

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Corrupt MSM Will Reap What it Has Sown

John Ziegler’s film Media Malpractice — How Obama Got Elected

John Ziegler’s film Media Malpractice — How Obama Got Elected is finally getting the attention it deserves, mainly through the Internet blogosphere. The film exposes the morally bankrupt mainstream media (MSM) for the shameful role it played in having Barack Obama elected as U.S. President.

Many of the contributors to Canada Free Press have been warning for several years that the MSM in both the United States and Canada have abandoned any pretense of unbiased reporting in favor of political activism and propaganda.

What Media Malpractice does is tie it all together in a neat package using the MSM’s own words and images to expose them for what they are, namely liars, duplicitous cowards and ridicule to destroy their victims, ostensibly under the guise of news coverage. If I still worked in that industry I would be profoundly ashamed and embarrassed to call myself a journalist at any level.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Dupage Proposal Would Ban New Neighborhood Churches

Neighbors of a house on Army Trail Road where people come to pray together several times daily want to know why that’s being allowed.

The practice violates DuPage County zoning regulations, but enforcement of the code is on hold while the Islamic Center of the Western Suburbs completes a lengthy permitting process to use the site near West Chicago, now zoned for residential use, as a worship center.

“They are attempting to come out from underneath the violation through the zoning process,” said Paul Hoss, a county planner.

Jackie Sitkiewicz and her husband Ray have a driveway that adjoins the center’s western access point. The couple, who have blocked off their property with plastic cones and railroad ties, are incensed that the five-times-daily prayer continues.

“I’m 64 years old. I have never experienced anything like this in my life,” Jackie said. “When we were told not to do something, we didn’t do it.”

The case has assorted parallels to the Irshad Learning Center, which was proposed for property on 75th Street just east of the Naperville border. After county officials earlier this year turned down the center’s request for a conditional use permit to open an Islamic prayer site and school, they were named in a complaint alleging infringement of constitutional freedom. The 18 County Board and Zoning Board of Appeals members targeted in the suit are awaiting a court ruling on their request to have the case dismissed.

Restricting districts

The county also is taking steps to fend off future struggles between religious organizations and homeowners who don’t want them practicing their faith next door. Designed to encompass places of assembly in general, the proposed zoning code changes face considerable opposition from those who contend they would deny the faithful their right to religious freedom.

The ZBA on Monday will continue hearing what people have to say about the prohibition of group gathering sites in residential areas of unincorporated DuPage. County staff say the proposed modifications would keep intensive uses from taxing the neighborhoods’ finite street, sewer and water networks. Opponents who have spoken up at the two hearing sessions held so far say it would be at odds with a long tradition of religious places comprising a pillar of community life.

According to the Rev. Tim Casey, pastor of the church near Bartlett where the ICWS meets for larger gatherings, the proposal provides no “wiggle room” — for example, sites fronting on busy thoroughfares, that formerly were sleepy country lanes.

Does one size fit all?

The Rev. Linda Tossey, pastor at Community Baptist Church in Warrenville, said some kinds of worship spaces are distinctly well-suited to neighborhoods. Her church hosts a variety of weekday programs, and some participants and congregation members walk to the property. She agrees with the assertion that “mega church” buildings and large synagogues and mosques are better located in nonresidential areas near major roads.

“If this goes into effect, then are we saying there is only one type of church or place of worship that you can build?” Tossey said. “Merely by doing that, you are, by government regulations, really restricting when and where churches may be.”

There’s nothing new about houses of worship operating in people’s backyards. DuPage County has 79 assembly places outside of municipal boundaries, 90 percent of them situated in neighborhoods.

At least a half-dozen churches sit within a mile of the Irshad site, all of them abutting residential areas. A woman who lives on Tranquility Lane, adjacent to The Church in Naperville, said the facility doesn’t detract from her family’s quality of life. The former home has been used as a church since 1989.

“Honestly, it was six or eight months (after we moved in) before I even realized it was a church,” said the resident, who preferred not to have her name published. She added that neither of the much-larger churches that are also nearby creates a problem with noise, traffic or other crowd-driven factors, either.

Tony Michelassi, the County Board member who heads the Development Committee, said work is under way to modify the proposal so it accommodates issues that have been raised in the hearings — including the difference in the infrastructure requirements for a large church relative to a small one.

Islamic undertones

To some who have followed the controversy, apprehension of Islam is a significant issue.

“Certainly I have a concern that it is related to that,” said Tossey, whose church is hosting a four-session seminar designed to better familiarize participants with Islam.

Woodridge resident Tasneem Osmani was more openly critical of the county proposal.

“In essence, the county is banning Islamic groups from practicing in the county,” he said.

But according to the Naperville attorney representing the ICWS, at least part of the problem is that religious spaces aren’t homes.

“There’s an inherent conflict between residential and institutional uses,” said Kevin Gallaher of Nyberg & Cassioppi, who has worked with assorted religious groups seeking to locate in unincorporated areas. “I think it’s more the unknown, because to be honest, once the religious uses have moved in, it seems that everyone has been able to get along just fine.”

The neighbors of the Army Trail location appear disinclined to extend an olive branch just yet. Several of them last week grilled traffic engineer Javier Milan, hired by the ICWS, over his report that no more than seven cars at a time were seen on the site in his seven visits to the location. The project wouldn’t worsen travel on nearby roads, Milan said.

Nearby resident and project opponent Paul Ciolino queried Milan about his other studies, which have included work done for another Muslim organization hoping to locate in the county.

“Do you have a new stream of business dealing with Islamic centers exclusively?” Ciolino said.

Seeking proper fit

Some of those watching the county zoning process believe there’s a better way to accommodate the assorted concerns. Faiyaz Hussain, spokesman for a task force reviewing the proposal on behalf of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, said he doesn’t see “discriminatory animus” as an underlying factor in the proposal. More consideration needs to be given to the different forms a house of worship can take.

“They’re taking a very blunt sledgehammer approach to solve a problem that really needs a more surgical strike,” Hussain said.

Local attorney Mark Sargis, a member of the Wheaton Planning and Zoning Board, has represented opponents of church zoning requests as well as applicants. He cautioned during the ZBA’s hearing against adopting a blanket provision countering the long-standing trend of neighborhood churches.

“Is there a problem that needs to be fixed?” he said. “And if there is a problem, how can it be addressed in the least burdensome way?”

Michelassi also sees the logic in taking a look at honing the zoning to make its impact more precise.

“The task that really lies before the county now is to take all the public comments that have been brought forward and bring them into a policy,” he said, declining to discuss the specifics of the discussions so far. “There’s going to be a lot more work done on this.”

Committee discussions begun more than two years ago recognized that finding a solution would not be a simple matter.

“We won’t be trying to make a one-size-fits-all solution that is perhaps too far-reaching,” said committee member and District 4 County Board member Debra Olson in May 2009.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

Expert: Past 10 Days Have Been Worst of President Obama’s ‘Political Life’

WASHINGTON — President Obama is coming home from his overseas trip pretty much empty-handed.

After watching his party take a beating in the midterm elections, Obama wasn’t able to secure even a symbolic victory on a trip that was expected to give him plenty of opportunities to claim a win.

“This certainly was the worst 10 days of his political life,” said Baruch College political scientist Doug Muzzio. “Given that he’s not going to be able to get any domestic achievements with the Republicans in control of the House … if he doesn’t do it in foreign policy that’s a big problem for him.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

How to Restore States’ Sovereignty

“What’s Harry Reid done for us lately?”

That question was posed in one of the informal voter opinion sessions in Nevada hosted by Fox News during the recent election cycle. The constitutional response would be: U.S. senators are not supposed to represent the citizens of the state.

When the First Continental Congress was convened via a resolution of the Congress of the Confederation, one of the first issues discussed on May 29, 1787, was the balance of power for a newly created federal government:


The framers of the Constitution wisely understood the absolute necessity of ensuring we the people would have the right to vote for our representative in Congress, and at the same time because they all jealously guarded freedom and liberty, the states must also have equal representation. We the people would have the ability to remove via the ballot box miscreants and scoundrels, while the state legislatures could recall their U.S. senators who acted against the best interests of their states.

The Senate was supposed to be a sort of check and balance, but that disappeared when U.S. senators began to be voted into office by special interests and mobs demanding more from the people’s treasury. The absolute right of the states to equal representation was wiped out when the 17th Amendment was declared ratified April 8, 1913.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

How the West is Being Lost

Wall Street financial scammer Bernie Madoff’s success stemmed from preying upon people’s trust, coupled with the naïve cooperation of federal regulators who failed to see what was coming. But Madoff’s scam pales in comparison to one being pulled off against unsuspecting Americans with the naïve cooperation of a President similarly disposed. The recent firing of NPR analyst Juan Williams is but one more telltale sign that the scam is working.

Formed in Egypt during the 1920s, the Muslim Brotherhood is an extremist Islamic group. Among its most revered thinkers is the martyr Sayyid Qutb who called for worldwide rejection of Western values before his 1966 execution. Ever since, his writings have radicalized Islamic thought, including that of al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.

A 2007 criminal investigation into organizers of a charitable Islamic organization’s terrorist funding links yielded evidence of the Brotherhood’s strategy for implementing Sharia law in the US through gradual erosion of the Constitution. Ironically, this evidence was found in the residence of an unindicted co-conspirator in Virginia—home to many of our Constitution’s framers.

The evidence included the “Ikhwan,” a 1991 document describing the Brotherhood’s work in America as “a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” Called the “civilianization-jihadist process,” it requires a “mastery of the art of ‘coalitions,’ the art of ‘absorption’ and the principles of ‘cooperation.’“ Audiotape evidence emphasized deception.

The Brotherhood’s mandate is to establish a global caliphate, governed under Sharia. The proposed infrastructure for doing this in the US is via a complex network of benign Muslim organizations, the missions of which are to spread militant propaganda and to raise money. One such group—also an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2007 case—is the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

CAIR has proven to be a political correctness (PC) gunslinger, quickly raising the issue to silence any criticism of Islam. After the interview in which NPR’s Juan Williams, obviously still traumatized by 9/11, expressed a personal uneasiness about seeing Muslims on airplanes, CAIR immediately demanded that action be taken against him for “inflammatory comments”—for which he was fired. CAIR’s linkage to the violent Muslim Brotherhood makes its demand about Williams’ comment the ultimate hypocrisy.


           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Muslim Group Advises Women Wearing Hijabs to Allow TSA ‘Enhanced Pat Downs’ Only on Head and Neck Area

CAIR said Muslims who object to full-body scans for religious reasons should know their rights if they are required to undergo a pat-down, including asking for the procedure to be done in a private place. In addition, CAIR offered a “special recommendation” for Muslim women who wear a hijab, telling them they should tell the TSA officer that they may be searched only around the head and neck.

In the “special recommendations for Muslim women who wear hijab,” it states: “Before you are patted down, you should remind the TSA officer that they are only supposed to pat down the area in question, in this scenario, your head and neck. They SHOULD NOT subject you to a full-body or partial-body pat-down.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Tax Records Belie CAIR Spokesman’s Claim

In a heated exchange over the Juan Williams-NPR flap, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly cornered a senior Council on American-Islamic Relations official into making what appears to be a false statement about the embattled group’s financial dealings.

Kelly asked CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper if his Washington-based Muslim nonprofit organization, an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator recently cut off from FBI outreach, gives money to NPR.

The question was relevant, because, as WND reported, CAIR just days earlier had fired off a letter to NPR urging action against Williams, who it employed as a radio show host. Williams, also a Fox News political analyst, recently confessed on the air that since the 9/11 hijackings, flying with conspicuously Muslim passengers on commercial flights has made him nervous. CAIR was widely credited with pressuring NPR to fire Williams from his radio job for spreading “Islamophobia.”

“Does CAIR contribute to NPR?” Kelly asked Hooper.

“No, we don’t contribute to anybody,” Hooper replied, suggesting CAIR does not donate funds even to Islamic nonprofits and charities.

But tax records tell a different story.

The Holy Land Foundation, recently busted as the main fundraising arm for Hamas in America, commingled funds and assets with CAIR to a degree previously unreported, raising new alarms in the wake of Holy Land’s 2008 conviction on terror money-laundering charges.

As Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism has already revealed, Holy Land provided at least $5,000 in revenues to CAIR as it was starting up operations in the 1990s. CAIR, in turn, solicited funds for the Holy Land Foundation.

After 9/11, as rescue workers were still pulling bodies from Ground Zero, CAIR fooled visitors to its website into contributing to the charitable front by telling them their donations would benefit World Trade Center victims — including New York firefighters. The link it posted actually took contributors to the home page for the Holy Land Foundation — a charitable front for Palestinian terrorists.

Federal tax records also show CAIR’s chapters have donated money directly to the illegal charity. For example, CAIR’s regional office in Northern California sent at least $500 to Holy Land’s post office box in Richardson, Texas, in 1999. Signing off on the transaction was none other than Omar Ahmad, then chairman of CAIR National.

All this is well known, however, at least among jihad watchers.

What has not been reported is that CAIR’s national organization in late 1995 contributed at least $40,000 to a Holy Land subsidiary that also was raided and shut down after 9/11, according to never-before-seen tax records uncovered by investigative journalist and terrorism analyst Paul Sperry, co-author of “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America.”

The item is revealed on a balance sheet attached to the original corporation franchise-tax return that CAIR filed the following year with the District of Columbia. The subsidiary — InfoCom Corp. — fronted as a Web-hosting firm, and shared officers and funds with Holy Land. In fact, InfoCom was located across the street from Holy Land’s headquarters in Richardson, Texas.

The company was run by convicted terrorist and CAIR-Texas founding director Ghassan Elashi. InfoCom itself was convicted on charges of terror money-laundering in 2004. At least $250,000 in investment capital was funneled through InfoCom by senior Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook, who was designated a terrorist in 1995 and had his accounts frozen. The FBI says he “financed terrorist activities.”


           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Autobiography of Danish Mohammed Cartoonist Goes on Sale

The autobiography of the Danish cartoonist who sparked Muslim outrage by depicting the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb for a turban was quickly whisked off shelves by book buyers when it went on sale Friday.

In Denmark’s western town of Aarhus, the autobiography of Kurt Westergaard had already sold out and book stores there were “desperate” for more copies, John Lykkegaard, the author and publisher of the book, said Friday evening.

Book shop owners “visited me today to get more copies so I even handed out those that were meant for the press conference in Copenhagen on Monday,” he told AFP.

The book entitled “The Man Behind the Line” details the life of 75-year-old Westergaard, and also features a republished version of his controversial drawing that has earned him numerous death threats and assassination attempts.

Westergaard’s cartoon depicting Mohammed with a bomb-like turban with a lit fuse was one of a dozen first published in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in 2005 that caused violent and in some cases deadly protests the following year.

And the controversy has not gone away.

This past January a Somali man broke into Westergaard’s home and allegedly threatened to kill him with an axe and a knife.

In September a man was arrested after what appeared to be a letter bomb destined for the Jyllands-Posten went off prematurely, causing a small blast in a central Copenhagen hotel. Only the bomber was injured.

Suspected attack plotters against the newspaper have also been arrested in Norway and the United States over the past year.

Westergaard, who recently described Islam as a “reactionary religion” but said he would “stand up for people having the right to practice this religion,” has insisted on the importance of his cartoon in the defence of freedom of expression.

According to the back-cover of his autobiography, the book aims to tell the story of the cartoonist’s life, “and why he cannot give up his fight for freedom of expression.”

The offending drawing figures inside the book, while the cover is adorned with the last caricature Westergaard published in Jyllands-Posten before retiring in June.

That drawing features Westergaard riding a scraggy horse and carrying an oversized fountain pen and notebook, being pursued by a donkey carrying a weight with the words “freedom of expression” scrolled across it, topped with a live bomb and menacing clouds with the crescent moon of Islam lurking above.

Six thousand copies had been printed for the Friday release, although a technical problem meant Copenhagen shops did not receive the books on time Friday.

Lykkegaard nonetheless said 10,000 more copies would probably need to be printed early next week.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Britain’s Top Soldier Says Al-Qaeda Cannot be Beaten

He said defeating Islamist militancy was “unnecessary and would never be achieved”.

However, he argued that it could be “contained” to allow Britons to lead secure lives.

Gen Richards, 58, said the threat posed by “al-Qaeda and its affiliates” meant Britain’s national security would be at risk for at least 30 years. The general, who will tomorrow lay a wreath at the Cenotaph in Whitehall in memory of Britain’s war dead, said the West’s war against what he described as a “pernicious ideology” had parallels with the fight against Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, the general disclosed that Prince William was unlikely to serve in Afghanistan but suggested that his brother Harry, training to be an Apache helicopter pilot, could return to front-line duty in Helmand province.

He said the British military and the Government had been “guilty of not fully understanding what was at stake” in Afghanistan and admitted that the Afghan people were beginning to “tire” of Nato’s inability to deliver on its promises.

However, he said the sacrifice being made by the Armed Forces in Afghanistan, where 343 soldiers have been killed since 2001, “has been worth it”. Progress was being made and Nato was “in the right parish”. He said: “Don’t give up folks, it’s all to play for.”

The general also dismissed suggestions that troops badly injured fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan would ever be “forced” to leave the Armed Forces, but said most of those seriously wounded wanted to leave to begin new careers.

He rejected claims by former senior Royal Navy chiefs who said scrapping the aircraft carrier Ark Royal and the Harrier force would jeopardise the security of the Falkland Islands. But it is the general’s assertion that victory against militant Islam cannot be achieved that is likely to prove most contentious.

The general said: “In conventional war, defeat and victory is very clear cut and is symbolised by troops marching into another nation’s capital. First of all you have to ask: do we need to defeat it [Islamist militancy] in the sense of a clear cut victory? I would argue that it is unnecessary and would never be achieved.

“But can we contain it to the point that our lives and our children’s lives are led securely? I think we can.”

He also said the real weapon in the war against al-Qaeda was the use of “upstream prevention” as well as “education and democracy”. The problems that gave rise to militant Islamism were unlikely to be solved soon, he added.

On the issue of future wars, the general said he could see no case for military intervention in other countries “at the moment” but added that he would be “barmy to say that one day we wouldn’t be back in that position”.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Christopher Hitchens: ‘You Have to Choose Your Future Regrets’

Hitchens genuinely believes radical or jihadist Islam to be an existential threat to civilisation. First because it is a pronounced enemy of free speech and social liberty and has succeeded in intimidating and silencing civilians across “an extraordinary number of countries in Europe” and the rest of the world. And second, he says, “because it has potential access to weapons of mass destruction.” In the end, he argues, there are no pain-free options. You have to choose which future regret you’re going to have.

“I was at a Hezbollah rally in Beirut about two and a half years ago,” he says. “Very striking. Everyone should go. But of the many things that impressed me about it, having the mushroom cloud as the party flag in an election campaign was the main one. You wouldn’t want to look back and think, I wish I’d noticed that being run up. Now I can give you all the reasons that it’s bombast on their part. Still, I know which regret I’d rather have.”

There appear to be two main criticisms of this stance. Either people think he’s a bonkers Islamophobe — though many who do were content enough to leave Muslims to their bloody fate in Bosnia — or they believe such antagonistic talk only serves to create the problem it seeks to prevent. Hitchens is contemptuous of the former, but scathing of the latter. He says that those who tell him to tread more softly believe that the price of not doing so is more violence. “Oh I see, so you’re always aware when you’re contesting the holders of this view of the threat that lies behind it? Would you care for their opinions if it wasn’t for that? Or are you telling me you’d be reading their stuff just for the sheer pleasure of it. I don’t think so. If you say that this looks like war, you’re accused of liking it. Not true. Demonstrably not true.”

Demonstrably? Certainly he can sound like he enjoys the conflict. He has said that he experienced “a feeling of exhilaration” while watching the World Trade Centre collapse on 11 September. “Here we are then,” he later recalled thinking, “in a war to the finish between everything I love and everything I hate. Fine. We will win and they will lose.”

He says the exhilaration was born of a sudden if overdue sense of clarity.

“What I felt is that we’d been suffering from all this for some time. And yet people’s main interest seemed to be in ignoring it or denying it, or if they were politicians or soldiers, running away from it: abandoning Somalia, leaving Afghanistan to rot, trying to subsume Islamism into multiculturalism. I thought: until yesterday, they knew they were at war, and we didn’t. And now we do: of course that’s exhilarating. It was the feeling that the somnambulance was over. Of course it turned out to be a very brief wake-up call, followed by a very long nap: ‘Turned over in bed briefly. It’s 8.59? No, it can’t possibly be!’“

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Germany: French Police Deployed at Anti-Nuclear Protests

A row has broken out over the use of French police officers in Germany during last week’s demonstrations against the nuclear waste transport to Gorleben. Meanwhile northern ports cities could refuse to let new waste transports through.

Opposition politicians have criticised the French policing operation as illegal, while Lower Saxony police and politicians were not informed by their federal colleagues, according to Saturday’s Berliner Zeitung.

A note from the Lower Saxony state Interior Ministry seen by the paper says the police force in the state, “was also not aware during the operation that French officers conducted operational duties in uniform and with equipment.”

The activities of the French officers only became apparent after photos merged of the elite unit CRS officers ‘taking action’ against protestors in Wendland, the paper said.

Lower Saxony police managers had no idea of the French officers’ presence, nor of how many there were operating in the area. The paper said that 17 photos show people wearing the French unit’s uniform, “obviously taking steps against demonstrators.”

The operation was being led by the federal police, the paper said, while the French police attaché, who was supposed to be overseeing his countrymen’s actions, lost contact with at least one officer during the operation.

The federal Interior Ministry has admitted the deployment of the CRS officers, with a spokesman saying they were only on site as observers. He said the photos showed the French officers helping the German federal police in an emergency situation. Opposition politicians in Berlin said this was not a credible explanation.

Meanwhile the greens in Hamburg’s state government coalition have said they would refuse permission for a nuclear waste transport heading for Russia to go through the port there.

“We are determined to use all possibilities to prevent the transport and transfer of nuclear waste en route to Russia via Hamburg harbour,” said Jens Kerstan, parliamentary party chairman of the Hamburg greens, GAL, which rules Hamburg in coalition with the conservative Christian Democratic Union.

Kerstan said he would be checking whether the contract with Russia was legally valid and whether a final decision had been made on the route the transport would take from the Westphalia temporary storage facility in Ahaus.

The 18 containers of radioactive waste originated at the East German nuclear research facility in Rossendorf near Dresden, and is planned to end up at the Russian nuclear centre in Majak, in the southern Urals. This has not yet been approved by the German authorities, which are planning to make a safety inspection there.

Environmentalists say a route is being planned from Ahaus to Hamburg via the Autobahn 1, through Lower Saxony and past towns such as Osnabrück, Wildeshausen and Buchholz.

The Bremen state government decided on Thursday to not allow any further nuclear transports to pass its port, while the city of Lübeck decided to ban such transports back in 1990.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany Considers Loosening Arms Export Controls

“Eurofighter,” “Leopard,” Submarine Class 214: Germany is the third largest weapons exporter in the world, despite restrictive guidelines. Now the federal government wants to make arms sales abroad even easier to make up for defense budget cuts at home.

It all started with the French. Years ago, the Defense Ministry in Paris presented an official plan promoting arms exports. The German response? Self-imposed limits. Arms exports should be “restrictive,” according to the “Federal Arms Exports Guidelines” from the year 2000.

The situation hasn’t changed much since. In a recent issue of the financial magazine Wirtschaftswoche, an unnammed head of a German weapons manufacturer complained about the French: “We are the ragamuffins here, and they are the heroes.”

That, though, will soon come to an end.

A recent report from the commission studying the structure of the German military, led by Frank-Jürgen Weise, the head of the Federal Labor Agency, states that the German defense industry will “depend more than before on their exports and civilian use of their products.” The commission forwarded a recommendation to Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU) for the “alignment of national arms exports guidelines to European standards.”

“Export, Export, Export”

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, a member of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), is alarmed. For 11 years, she was Germany’s development minister and sat on the so-called “Federal Security Council,” a group which decided on what weapons exports to allow, and to where. Wieczorek-Zeul told SPIEGEL ONLINE, that she fears “those who are now talking about aligning with EU partners only want to find a way around Germany’s restrictive arms exports laws.” For her, the coalition agreement between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) only has one goal in its chapter on arms, and that is: “Export, Export, Export.”

The coalition agreement reads: “We are committed to current arms export regulations and will continue to advocate the harmonization of arms export directives within the EU. We actively support fair competition in Europe.” The idea is to remove bureacratic red tape and speed up administrative procedures.

Elke Hoff, the defense policy spokeswoman for the FDP fraction in German parliament, finds many similarities between the recommendations of the Weise commission and the proposals included in the German government’s coalition agreement. They are so sensible, she said, that they could have “almost come directly out of our coalition agreement.”

Hoff can’t comprehend why her opponents are so agitated. “If we weren’t interested in selling German armaments to friendly nations, then we could shut down our defense industry right away, “ she says. “But we want to hold on to the jobs.” In all, about 80,000 German workers are employed in the defense industry, and another 10,000 jobs are tied to subcontractors.

Trade unions in Germany are estimating that Defense Minister Guttenberg seeks to cut the German military’s procurement budget by some €9 billion in coming years. Last Wednesday, in the Bavarian town of Manching, more than 2,000 employees of the defense company Cassidian (a division of the EADS Corporation) demonstrated against proposed cuts to the defense budget. A representative from the union IG Metall warned that the cuts could result in 10,000 lost jobs in Germany.

Are arms exports to provide a way out of this dilemma?

Florian Hahn, a defense expert from the Christian Social Union (CSU) — the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats — says, “because the domestic market will shrink due to the military reforms, we must actively support arms exports. Other nations are ahead of us on this.”

In India, for example, he says much too little is being done to advertise the “Eurofighter,” the European designed-and-built fighter plane. The Indians are currently interested in buying 126 fighter jets, a contract worth more than €10 billion. The European plane manufacturer EADS is competing with the Americans, Russians, French and Swedish for the contract. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle offered assurances during his visit to India in October that Germany has the “best and most reliable technology.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany: Jewish Doctor Refuses to Operate on Nazi Patient

A Jewish doctor in the North Rhine-Westphalian city of Paderborn has reportedly walked out of a surgery after discovering a Nazi tattoo on the arm of a patient.

A 36-year-old man needing an operation was tattooed with the image of the Reichsadler, or Imperial Eagle, perched upon a swastika, daily Bild reported on Friday.

The patient’s 46-year-old doctor said he could not reconcile proceeding with the surgery with his conscience, the paper reported.

“I will not operate on your husband,” the doctor told the man’s wife. “I’m Jewish.”

The doctor then had another physician finish the procedure, Bild reported.

Since the end of World War II the public display of Nazi party symbols, such as the swastika, have been forbidden in Germany, and carries punishment of up to three years in prison. The eagle, which was a German national symbol long before the Third Reich, is now called the Bundesadler.

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

Italian Aids Vaccine ‘Working’

Research chief Ensoli ‘thrilled’ by results

(ANSA) — Rome, November 12 — A ground-breaking Italian AIDS vaccine appears to be working, researchers said Friday.

“We have seen the vaccine reach parts where drugs cannot go,” said lead researcher Barabara Ensoli of the Higher Health Institute (ISS).

It was “thrilling” to see the results, which have been published in the Plos One journal, she said.

“The vaccine seems to bring the immune system back into kilter”. Testing is currently at the second stage and should be completed “with another 160 patients,” Ensoli said.

“Even so, we decided to publish now because we have achieved statistically significant results very quickly,” said the researcher, who has been working on the vaccine for 10 years.

Ensoli noted that 48 weeks after the vaccine was given to the volunteers, “their parameters are still improving and it appears we have managed to stop the damage”.

ISS Chair Enrico Garaci said the results “corroborate our efforts” and “confirm our model of research, from the lab bench to the patient’s bed”.

He made an appeal to private and public bodies for funding to complete the current round of tests.

The second stage of testing began in late 2008 in ten centres across Italy with 128 HIV-positive people between the ages of 18 and 55, both men and women.

In 2006 Ensoli ended the first phase of research and reported that her AIDS vaccine had passed its initial tests with flying colours.

She said all the Italian volunteers had shown a “100% response to the vaccine by producing specific antibodies”.

Ensoli’s vaccine is considered ground-breaking because it adopts a new approach to fighting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Traditional vaccines seek to bolster the immune system, the aim being to boost the body’s ability to fight off the disease.

This approach, however, has been relatively unsuccessful against HIV, a virus good at mutating and reviving itself.

Ensoli’s ‘tat-protein’ vaccine, on the other hand, attempts to block the spread of the infection and prevent the reproduction of infected cells.

Ensoli believes the HIV virus needs tat-proteins to be able to take root and spread.

By targeting tat-proteins her treatment might be effective against all strains of HIV.

Results from studies of the vaccine on laboratory animals have shown the treatment could be a vital step forward in the fight against AIDS.

The vaccine — described by eminent oncologist and former health minister Umberto Veronesi as “intelligent” — received the green light for human testing in 2003.

Ensoli’s technique is not without its critics, however.

In August 2007 the American magazine Science reported that Ensoli had filed a suit against prominent immunologist Ferdinando Auiti accusing him of slander and seeking to tarnish her reputation.

Aiuti, Science wrote, had repeatedly cited “critical errors” in the first experimental stages of Ensoli’s vaccine.

Aiuti said he was “surprised” about the suit, adding that he had “nothing personal” against Ensoli and that he had not changed his opinion on her experimental vaccine.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Pompeii to Get Foundation After Gladiator School Collapse

Culture minister rejects calls to resign

(ANSA) — Rome, November 10 — The government is to set up a new foundation for Pompeii after the weekend collapse of its famous Gladiator School, Culture Minister Sandro Bondi said Wednesday.

Rejecting calls that he should resign over the incident, Bondi claimed he had done a “good job” on Pompeii in appointing special officials for its upkeep.

“The collapse of one building can’t wipe out the work we have done over the past two years”.

But he acknowledged more needed to be done and announced a new foundation where the culture ministry would work with experts to better use the money that comes from millions of visitors.

“The problem is in the management, not in resources,” he told parliament, saying the ancient site brought an average of more than 50 million euros ($70 million) a year. “We need management that uses the resources better”.

“Therefore, the ministry is drafting guidelines for a Pompeii Foundation; the superintendents and culture minister managers must work together”.

The new body, Bondi said, would “assess the state of decay” all over the ancient city and decide what action to take. Work would resume on five Pompeii houses including the famous Villa of the Mysteries “in the next few days”, he said, denying reports that two other houses were damaged when the Gladiator School came down on Saturday morning.

The reports were a sign of “groundless alarm”, Bondi said. The centre-left opposition was not impressed by the minister’s report and the two main groups, the Democratic Party and Italy of Values (IdV), announced a no-confidence motion aimed at bringing him down.

“Bondi has done more damage than Vesuvius,” the IdV claimed.


The collapse of the school earned headlines worldwide and rekindled claims the 2,000-year-old site is not being properly protected.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano called the incident a “disgrace” for Italy.

Institutions and art experts worldwide said the conservation of the UNESCO World Heritage site was not being adequately funded.

British author Robert Harris, author of the 2003 global bestseller ‘Pompeii’, published a plea in Rome daily La Repubblica asking for more to be done.

Harris said he was “not surprised” at the collapse and argued that the right of visitors to see the site’s wonders should be balanced with conservation needs.

“We are faced with a paradox: the more people visit Pompeii, the more Pompeii is destroyed”.

In his report, Bondi said that water infiltration from heavy rains dealt a killer blow to the school, which was precarious because a 1950 restoration “wrongly” put reinforced concrete on the roof, making it “inevitable” that it would buckle under the weight.

The minister reaffirmed his confidence that famous frescoes giving insights into gladiators’ lives may have survived the crash.

Polemics about looting, stray dogs and structural decay have dogged Pompeii in recent years and the government appointed a special commissioner who has been credited with solving some of these problems since 2008.

Every year over two million people visit Pompeii, which was smothered in lava and ash by the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Most of Pompeii Site ‘At Risk of Collapse’

Naples, 9 Nov. (AKI) — Almost three-quarters of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii was ‘at risk’ of collapse and 40 percent of its buildings in need of highly urgent restoration work, according to a 2005 report cited on Tuesday by Naples daily Il Mattino.

Seven out of ten of Pompeii’s ancient buildings were in danger of collapse and only thirty percent were in good condition, while forty percent were crumbling, according the 2005 report, Il Mattino said.

The report surfaced after the collapse on Saturday of one of the most archaeologically important houses in Pompeii, the 2,000-year-old House of the Gladiators during heavy rains.

The collapse of the celebrated structure shocked the world and prompted calls for Italian culture minister Sandro Bondi’s resignation. Pompeii is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bondi was due to report Wednesday to the Italian parliament on the disaster. The building is thought to have been used by combatants to train or relax before entering the nearby amphitheatre.

Bondi has said he believes the damage was caused by faulty restoration in the 1950s and by the recent heavy rains.

The 2005 report on Pompeii, located near Naples in southern Italy, was commissioned by its former superintendent Pietro Giovanni Guzzo and carried out by a team of archaeologists and architects.

Pompeii is the largest archaeological site in the world. It received 2.2 million visitors in the first 10 months of 2010, according to Antonio Varone, director of excavations at the site.

Police have sealed off the area around the collapsed building and an investigation is underway. Archaeologists are assessing the current state of the site and police have been searching the Pompeii Archaelogical Superindendency offices for any relevant documents, according to Il Mattino.

It was not clear what action was taken to safeguard buildings at Pompeii after the 2005 report. In January this year, a wall surrounding the nearby House of the Chaste Lovers collapsed amid heavy rains.

Work was reportedly done on the roof of the 2,000-year-old House of the Gladiators in 2007. The structure was rebuilt in the 1950s after it was flattened in World War II bombing raids.

Critics say Pompeii and dozens of other ancient Italian sites risk damage or destruction because of mismanagement and a lack of maintenance, in part owing to culture funding cuts.

A volcanic eruption in 79 AD buried Pompeii under 6 metres of volcanic ash, preserving much of the city. The archaelogical site extends over 76 hectares.

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

Italy: House of the Vestal Virgins to Reopen After 26 Years

Rome, 10 Nov.(AKI) — The House of the Vestal Virgins located in the Roman Forum is set to reopen to visitors after undergoing 26 years of work. The six Vestal virgins were responsible for making sure the flame in the House was never extinguished.

“After 26 years of restoration a monumental temple will be given back to the city of Rome,” said Italian undersecretary of culture Francesco Giro in a statement on Wednesday.

Only female priests resided at the House. The complex, which contained three ponds within its courtyard, was the home to six females of noble blood who were chosen when they were between 3 and 10 years of age. Only after 30 years of service could they be released from their duties, at which time they were free to marry.

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

The Indictment of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff

Referring to the Austrian penal code’s § 283, sections 1 and 2, the Public Prosecutor in Vienna has presented Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff (ESW) with a Strafantag (indictment) for having publicly “gegen eine inösterreich gesetzlich anerkannte Kirchen und Religionsgesellschaft, den Islam gehetzt” (i.e. for having “publicly incited hatred against a legally recognized church and religious community — Islam”).

The indictment consists of a number of quotes transcribed from two lectures given by ESW in October and November 2009. There are altogether eight hours of tape.

I have not reviewed the tapes and therefore cannot vouch for the accuracy of the quotes adduced by the Public Prosecutor. Nor do I know whether these quotes are a fair summation of what ESW was attempting to convey.

Interestingly, no particular statement quoted by the Public Prosecutor is singled out as especially punishable, and one must therefore assume that the Public Prosecutor considers every statement quoted (some 8000 words) to be criminal under Austrian law.

This is very strange as the quotes fall into several categories including:

1) Renderings of Islamic canonical teachings in the Koran and the Hadith 2) Sociological observations on Muslim behaviour inspired by or consistent with Islamic canonical teachings 3) Moral observations or value judgments on Islamic canonical teachings 4) Interpretations of Islamic canonical teachings and their social and political consequences 5) Observations on differences between Islamic and Christian teachings

It is important to stress that nothing in the quotes indicates that ESW advocates violence, repression or discrimination against Muslims.

Generally speaking, it must be noted that ESW’s statements are well founded in the very texts that orthodox Muslims, including ulema, consider infallible and beyond discussion or interpretation. Her statements are overwhelmingly supported by empirical data and by a vast body of scholarly work by both Muslim and non-Muslim authorities.

It is, e.g., a fact that all contemporary Muslim terrorists and advocates of jihad defend their political programme and actions with reference to Islamic canonical teachings. One would therefore assume that it is well within ESW’s right of free speech to point to the very connections between Islamic teachings and Muslim behaviour that are stressed by an overwhelming number of Muslim authorities and which they consider laudable and mandated by Allah.


           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

UK: Disgusting Islamophobia: Woolas Smears MPACUK With Fake ‘Death Threat’ Leaflet [4 May 2010]

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas has decided to play very dirty in a last ditch attempt to hold onto his seat in the Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency. He has attempted to smear MPACUK by accusing them of being responsible for supposed death threats against him. This is a complete fabrication and he is using this to gain sympathy amongst his electorate.

What is even more dirty is that he has produced an eight-page, newspaper-style leaflet which only aims to breed fear within his constituency [This can be viewed here: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Pages 4+5, Page 6, Page 7, Page 8]. The leaflet includes outrageous claims against Elwyn Watkins the PPC for the Lib Dems and accuses MPACUK as being an extremist organisation. This material is very cunningly put together, using images of Al-Muhajirun, an organisation MPACUK has regularly opposed, when talking about MPACUK’s campaign in the constituency.

Now here’s the shocking thing : he has produced 45,000 of these leaflets and is distributing them only to the predominantly white areas of the constituency. Racial tensions between whites and Asians in Oldham have always been very fragile, what with the history of race riots that recently blighted the city. What Phil Woolas has done is stoked these racial tensions once again. We can even go as far as to say that this leaflet that he has produced and distributed could be considered as an incitement to racial hatred.

Phil Woolas has stooped so low, but we ask ourselves : did we expect anything less from such a sly and conniving man?

This two-faced politician has prided himself on his immigration policy, pushing for ID cards and tighter border controls on one hand, yet on the other, over his eight-year reign, it has been claimed by some of the Muslims we met who supported him, that he has been responsible for securing over 4,000 Visa applications in his constituency. This fact is corroborated by his supporters from the ethnic minorities and they cite this as the reason why they will put a cross against his name on election day.

Further evidence of the dirty game at play was demonstrated when a member of our team was threatened by a Labour supporter to: “switch that off before I ram it down your throat” directed at our cameraman during a peaceful leafleting session outside a Mosque on Friday 30th April 2010. Video footage of this incident has been kept as evidence in case it is required by the police. Furthermore on Saturday 1st May 2010, MPACUK’s peaceful campaigners had to endure a tirade of verbal abuse, sexist remarks and even threats of violence. At one point, one Muslim supporter shockingly threatened two Muslim sisters by stating, “Get out of here before I burn you”. An incident that has been reported to the police.

MPACUK has been campaigning peacefully in Oldham for the past few weeks . We as an organisation believe that the only way for Muslims to channel their frustration at the status-quo is through becoming politically active. Lobbying against politicians that support illegal invasions which kill innocents abroad, lobbying against politicians that have an anti-Islam agenda, lobbying against politicians that support the erosion of one’s civil rights in this country.

The leaflet that we produced stated publicly available facts about Phil Woolas’ voting record in Parliament . The leaflet can be viewed here. One thing we must make absolutely clear is that any literature produced or distributed by MPACUK always clearly displays our official branding. If it does not then it has nothing to do with our organisation. If any one has an objection to anything other than that which is distributed by MPACUK they should contact the people distributing it and not MPACUK.

It is obvious that Woolas is afraid that his past track record will come back to bite him and this last throw of the dice is a desperate attempt to hold onto his seat.

[JP: note date of post two days prior to UK General Election on 6 May 2010.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Election 2010 Success: Four Zionists Taken Out by MPACUK

MPACUK have taken another scalp — this time of the infamous electoral cheat and, ironically, the former Minister for Race Relations, Phil Woolas. For all those Muslims who think you can’t make a change, here’s proof you can. For all those Muslims who think democracy doesn’t work, here’s proof it does. For all those Muslims who said Woolas would never lose, here’s proof he did. And for all those Muslims who joined us in the fight and thought we had lost, here’s proof that we won.

We targeted six Zionist, pro-War and Islamophobic MP’s in the 2010 general election. Here’s a list of our scalps:

1. Labour — Clare Ward — Watford. OUT

2. Labour — Andrew Dismore — Hendon. OUT

3. Labour — Terry Rooney — Bradford. OUT

4. Labour — Phil Woolas — Oldham. OUT

The two that got away:

1. Labour — Mike Gapes — Ilford. Target: 2015 Election

2. Khalid Mahmood -Birmingham. Target: 2015 Election

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: MPACUK CEO Zulfi Bukhari: Election Wrap Up [7 May 2010] picked their targets about 3 years ago. We knew each area we wanted to target and we built teams in each town. The strategy MPACUK have adopted is creating swing voters through knowledgeable empowerment, an informed Ummah that will then make an informed choice. Simple. A choice no longer based on part loyalty or the old politics of ‘back home’, but a choice made on policy, ideology and aspirations.

We weren’t unchallenged in our mission to create an informed Muslim electorate. We faced the tribal braderi system with its local boss-hoggs who love their Labour Zionist MP’s more then the life of a Palestinian child. MP’s like Woolas, Gapes, Dismore and McShane who tried to intimidate us by using crude stereotypes by name-calling us ‘Muslim extremists’ because we had political differences. They failed. If anything it motivated us more to expose their vile, bigoted hatred.

There was the background noise of the Community Security Trust (a Jewish, pro-Israeli militant group) which had gone to the police and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, amongst others, and whinged about MPACUK being anti-Semitic. We ignored it, as did the Police, and carried on. A elephant doesn’t stop for a fly. MPACUK were challenged by an uneducated Ummah which was apathetic to voting and those who were political were of the HT-mindset which eschewed voting in favour of doing nothing, if anything more poisonous to the Ummah than the above three.

MPACUK have a strategy, and that strategy worked in Watford, Hendon and Bradford, and that is to destroy the loyal Muslim Labour block vote and empower enough of them to swing an election. Loyal strongholds are now going to be fought over. If Labour want them back, they need to talk about issues that concern their politicised communities. The movement is happening.

In Oldham, Phil Woolas was stunned to see his majority reduced to a paltry 103. His racist and Islamophobic leaflet didn’t save him — the loyal chawalas did. But how long can they continue to save Woolas now that his Islamophobic agenda has been exposed? Watford lost a Minister in Claire Ward, a bright young aspiring MP who could one day lead the party, but now due to her lack of foresight is unemployed. MPACUK empowered enough of the Muslims to vote differently so that it made a difference to the outcome.

No doubt some will cry but Richard Harrington is an open Zionist and he won for the Tories. Shouting from the sidelines is easy. If those Muslim detractors had joined the Lib Dem campaign rather then comment on MPACUK maybe he wouldn’t have won. And to our Zionist detractors, the moment he shows he is an Israel-first MP and targets his Muslim community like Woolas or Dismore, we will focus on getting him out as well. MPACUK predict he will be a one-term Tory.

MPACUK took out Terry Rooney in Bradford. MPACUK took out Dismore MP in Hendon, and MPACUK are continuing to build the defence of the Ummah. And lastly, a private note to Khalid Mahmood and Mike Gapes: we haven’t finished with you yet. You’re one election away from having a sustained swing away from Labour, and when it does, our efforts will push it over the edge.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Tactical Voting Brings UK Election Success [11 May 2010]


Muslims Vote against Pro-Zionists and Islamophobes

Writing for The Jewish Chronicle in the same month, Martin Bright reported that “openly anti-Zionist” Muslim organisation, the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK), had launched an election campaign where it said it would “target MPs and candidates known to support Israel and those they have identified as ‘Islamophobic’“. Among those targeted was Oldham’s Labour MP and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas, as well as Hendon’s Labour MP and “arch-Zionist” Andrew Dismore.

MPACUK, which claims to “oppose the racist political ideology of Zionism and aim[s] to counter the influence of the Zionist lobby”, says its aim is in “reviving the fard (obligation) of jihad…struggle for justice in the way of Allah”, in order to “empower Muslims to fulfil this Islamic obligation through intelligent political action to protect the Ummah [Muslim community]”.

Following what it called ‘Operation Muslim Vote 2’, the organisation subsequently boasted that its campaign efforts helped to take its “biggest scalp” by removing Labour’s “war monger” Claire Ward; defeat “a leading member of Labour Friends of Israel… who backed the Iraq war and has a long record of Islamophobia” Dismore by 106 votes; and Bradford East’s “Pro-Israeli MP” Terry Rooney.

Although it failed to remove Woolas, the group said that despite “103 Muslim votes that saved him from being booted out” MPACUK had “destroyed Woolas’ majority”.

Such was the level of strategic political planning that Muslims even dared to vote against their very own fellow faithful MPs (or faithless, as the case may be) if they failed to live up to their community’s expectations. This was no better and more defiantly demonstrated than by MPACUK who also campaigned against Perry Barr’s MP Khalid Mahmood for apparently taking the Muslim vote for granted.

Among the grievances expressed against Mahmood was his decision to vote against a public inquiry in to the invasion of Iraq and an arms embargo on Israel; while supporting ID cards, an extension of the detention period terror suspects could be held without charge to 90 days, racial profiling at airports and the war in Afghanistan

In the end, Dr Hellyer was correct in forecasting: “One way or another, this will be a new era for Britain, and a new era for its Muslim community — for better or for worse”.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: MPACUK Criticises Woolas Appointment [5 October 2008]

Muslim groups expressed anger last night after a Labour politician who has been at the centre of a series of race controversies was made Immigration Minister. Phil Woolas, previously an Environment Minister, was handed the brief despite infuriating the Pakistani community earlier this year by warning they were fuelling birth defects by inter-marrying. He also caused anger following the Oldham race riots by calling for “the reality of anti-white racism” to be acknowledged. Last night, the Muslim Public Affairs Committee condemned his appointment. A spokesman said: “Phil Woolas has a track record of insensitive, inappropriate outbursts that have verged on Islamophobia. He is a Minister clearly out of his depth. We will monitor his work for any more signs of his all too obvious antipathy towards British Muslims.”

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Fanatics: We’d Burn More Poppies

THREE Muslim protesters who burned a giant poppy during the Armistice Day silence in London were last night unrepentant about the sickening incident which sparked nationwide revulsion.

The Daily Express was inundated with calls from angry readers over the incident in Kensington.

The men, all in their 20s, said they would happily burn poppies again and will not stop campaigning until Sharia law is implemented in the UK.

Describing themselves as the British-born children of moderate Muslim immigrants, all three said they are students of the Islamic preacher Omar Bakri who is holed up in the Lebanon after fleeing Britain. They are also students of radical Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary.

The trio — Asad Ullah, Abu Yahya, and Abu Hifzudeen — said they had turned to radical Islam.

They were not willing to rev eal their occupations, but all said that they were university educated and in full-time employment. Ullah, founder of Muslims Against Crusades, said he would be fired if his emp loyers found out about his radical views.

“I used to work for the London Underground, but then MI5 found out and I was sacked,” he said.

Ullah said his parents were from a “colonised Islamic state”. They had come to Britain and had been reduced “to pieces of dirt”. He added that his views started hardening when he was just 13.

“We are revolutionaries, but do not practise violence,” he said. “We believe there are ways to bring about our goals other than violence.”

Yahya, an office administrator, said he studied under firebrand imams and claimed he was “on a journey to find the meaning of life”.

Hifzudeen would only say that he was “employed”. He was from a “well off” moderate family and turned to a stricter form of Islam around 2005.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Group Plans Remembrance Sunday Protest

A group that protested Remembrance Day celebrations in England have vowed to demonstrate again Sunday.

The organization, Muslims Against Crusades (MAC), said it will fill two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. on Remembrance Sunday “with an unrelenting condemnation of the British Armed Forces.”

Remembrance Sunday is held on the second weekend in November in the United Kingdom. It is marked my ceremonies at local memorials as well as two minutes of silence at 11 a.m.

The same group burned a large model of a poppy and chanted during a moment of silence during Armistice Day ceremonies on Thursday.

Protesters chanted, “British soldiers burn in hell,” and held signs saying, “Islam will dominate” and, “Our dead are in paradise, your dead are in hell.”

The Remembrance Day protest, near Hyde Park, involved 50 members of the group, the Daily Mail newspaper reported. Another 50 counter-demonstrators were also there. The two groups were separated by police.

The MAC website includes a countdown to Sunday’s demonstration. It also advertises a message will be posted to the site at 11 a.m. GMT and will tell British citizens “what we have to say about your government and in particular, your army.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

UK: Oldham Pitt Street Mosque: Phil Woolas’s ‘Religous’ Thugs

With the Phil Woolas election fraud case rocking the political sphere across the country, we take a look back at those bitterly cold days of April and May, this year, when the MPACUK team was out in full flow campaigning against the disgraced politician. We approached mosques across Oldham to inform them and their congregations about how vile a politician Phil Woolas was.

One particular mosque where we faced aggressive opposition, was Pitt Street Mosque in Glodwick. This mosque was well known for its uncompromising support for all things Labour, to such an extent that they brown-nosed Woolas into attending a meeting there. This mosque, that asks it congregation to bow their heads to Allah, bowed its own to the liar, Phil Woolas.

We leafleted outside this mosque after one Jummah (Friday prayer) and were astounded by the reaction we got from some of the worshippers leaving the mosque. We were there peacefully distributing leaflets against an Islamophobic MP, to educate the congregation about the need to vote tactically, to oust someone that hates their religion. Out came the die-hard Labour lackeys in support of Woolas, arguing the “good” that he has done for the community. They didn’t mention the harm he was doing, by sending incendiary leaflets to the white only areas, aiming to make the “white vote angry.”

These people didn’t care, these people knew about the leaflets and still supported Woolas. While MPACUK were threatened, bullied and pushed around, they allowed the Labour machine to demonise the very community they represented, and these traitors then had the gall to denounce MPACUK as extremist. The sell out scum. One worshipper even threatened an MPACUK member with violence. These people bleed Labour and are clueless about the dynamics of politics and the conduct of politicians during political campaigns, in order to secure votes they will say and do just about anything.

This is to the sell-out Muslims of Pitt Street Mosque in Oldham. We told you so. Your beloved Woolas, that you so vehemently defended, has now been stripped of his position, and for what? His hatred for you and your religion. If ever there was a love-hate relationship, it was this. And now your lies and your hypocrisy have been exposed we want you to know that the time for traitors and hypocrites is over. If you will not represent your community you will be held to account by your community.

[JP note: It would probably require a full-blown Royal Commission on Integration to sort out this unholy mess — but the problem would appear to have the capacity to challenge even the most venerable sages, I fear. A good place for a putative Royal Commission to start would be to determine why liberal UK has abandoned equality before the law in favour of non-functioning and unworkable racial shibboleths.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Rolling Election Views From You — the Public! [7 May 2010]

Please post your views on the elections today, anything from who you think will win to who you voted for. We hope to carry comments from Muslims all over the country so they can keep in touch throughout the day on what others are doing.

MPACUK too will update you, with our thoughts as polling starts and the results come through.

Let us pray that those who voted ethically to stop oppression around the world and to stop Islamophobia right here in the UK, get the candidates they deserve.

Look out for seats where MPACUK and activists fought an ethical voting campaign to remove MP’s who in our opinion are highly dubious voting record — these are:

Ilford South (Mike Gapes MP)

Birmingham (Khalid Mahmood MP)

Bradford (Terry Rooney MP)

Oldham (Phil Wool-ass MP)

Hendon (Dismore MP)

Watford (Claire Ward MP)

Rotherham (Denis MacShane MP) — local activists contacted us wanting to do something here.

Ethical Voting campaigns run by Muslims not linked to MPACUK were:

Ilford North: Campaign aimed at removing (Lee Scott Conservative MP) — Muslim activist group unknown

Bethnal Green & Bow: (Galloway departing and is being targetted by Abjol Miah a well known Muslim activist and Respect party member who is backed by Muslim activists from the group IFE.)

Birmingham Sparkbrook (Salma Yaqoob fighting for this seat as a Respect party member and is also backed by Muslim activists — group/activists unknown.)

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: The JC and the Phil Woolas Affair

A key section of evidence in the court case which saw a Labour MP stripped of his job focused on a JC report of pre-election attacks on Israel. At the specially convened election court last week, the former Immigration Minister Phil Woolas was found guilty of lying about his opponent on campaign leaflets. The court ruled that Mr Woolas had stirred racial tensions in the Oldham and Saddleworth constituency, which he won by just 103 votes. He has been removed from Parliament and thrown out of the Labour Party following the judgment.

The High Court rejected Mr Woolas’ request for a judicial review. During the hearing Mr Justice Teare and Mr Justice Griffiths Williams considered statements made by Mr Woolas and his opponent Elwyn Watki ns concerning arms sales to Israel. In March, Mr Woolas wrote to LibDem leader Nick Clegg, questioning his party’s views on the matter after Mr Watkins had written to Muslim supporters condemning Israel’s “disproportionate use of force” during the Gaza conflict.

The hearing studied the JC’s report of the men’s clashes. The final judgment stated: “When the Respondent [Mr Woolas] raised the question during the campaign, the Petitioner [Mr Watkins] made clear in his own website and in his interview with the Jewish Chronicle in early March 2010, that arms should not be sold to either side in the conflict.

“It is therefore clear that…the Petitioner had not attempted to woo the extremist vote by calling for arms sales to Israel to be stopped but not arms sales to Palestine.”

The judges were surprised Mr Woolas and his agent had been unaware of the JC report and would have expected his campaign team to have read the story to learn of Mr Watkins’ views. Mr Watkins was quoted in the story saying: “Woolas is trying to portray this as me being antisemitic. I’m not antisemitic at all. He has taken something and tried to make it something it’s not.

“It’s not an anti-Israel thing. I would not sell rockets to Hamas either. I was following the party line. I would equally condemn Hamas, Hizbollah or whoever targets civilians.”

Mr Woolas is attempting to persuade the Court of Appeal to grant a judicial review.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: The Sun Finds Poppy Thugs

FANATICAL Muslims behind the burning of a giant poppy in an Armistice Day outrage are unmasked today by The Sun.

The hate-filled extremists whipped up a 40-strong mob who screamed insults about Britain’s war dead during the nation’s two-minute silence on Thursday.

They head Muslims Against Crusades — formed after the radical group Islam4UK was banned — and want Sharia law imposed in the UK.

Pony-tailed leader Abu Assadullah masterminds the organisation’s sick demos from a website where he spouts bile supporting al-Qaeda. He shares the name of a dead chief of the terror network linked to the 2008 Mumbai massacre, and posts video diatribes on MAC’s YouTube channel.

Sidekick Abu Ubaidah helped organise Thursday’s rally, near the Royal Albert Hall, central London, and was seen holding placards reading “British soldiers burn in hell” and “Afghanistan: The graveyard of empires”.

He was wearing the distinctive black and white headscarf he donned for a vile video rant four days earlier, drumming up support for the anti-Britain event. In that, Ubaidah accused our brave boys of being “serial killers” who were “killing, torturing and raping Muslims”.

He called on followers to hold a two-minute silence to honour terrorist Roshonara Choudhry, 21, who was jailed for life this month for stabbing Labour MP Stephen Timms in a failed murder attempt.

Zealot Abu Rahin Aziz, 28, was also seen at Thursday’s protest, hurling abuse against our soldiers.

Former workmates told how Aziz used be a credit control operator at cable firm NTL and would hound female Asian workmates for wearing Western clothing. One said: “There were four or five Muslims who would hang around in a group. He was one.

“If the Asian women dressed in a Western way they would pressure them to try and get them to wear traditional Islam clothes. He always wore traditional white robes.

“When I saw the picture in The Sun, I instantly recognised him.

“This protest he was part of was absolutely disgraceful.”

Aziz, fined £525 in June for driving without insurance, remained defiant yesterday about his role in the Remembrance Day rally when confronted by The Sun.

He said: “It was a peaceful demonstration. To us the poppy represents the killing of women and children in Afghanistan and Iraq by British soldiers.”

Muslims Against Crusades follows the same agenda as banned groups al-Muhajiroun and Islam4UK, which were fronted by notorious firebrand Anjem Choudary.

He has claimed the men behind MAC as his “students”. The group protested in Barking, East London, in June and called for Muslims to burn the Stars and Stripes outside the US embassy on the anniversary of 9/11. Islam4UK was outlawed in January after threatening to protest in Wootton Bassett, the Wiltshire town through which dead British soldiers are transported after being brought back from Afghanistan.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

UK: Woolas Should Go Quietly

There’s more bad news for Phil Woolas today. The high court has rejected his request for a judicial review of the election court ruling, saying he should instead appeal against the ruling. Despite this, Woolas’s legal team is reportedly planning to make a fresh application for judicial review. But any victory (and the odds are against it) would be decidedly pyrrhic. Woolas’s political reputation is already shot and Harriet Harman has confirmed that he is not welcome in the Labour Party, even if he overturns the court ruling. In order to salvage some dignity, Woolas should s urely drop all legal proceedings and apologise to the Liberal Democrats, Labour and his constituents.

Meanwhile, as I feared, Woolas has attracted a growing number of Labour apologists. “Hung out to dry” was the cliché of choice for the Labour MP Graham Stringer and Peter Watt, the party’s former general secretary. With remarkable understatement, Watt describes Woolas’s leaflets as “controversial, to say the least”. He cannot bring himself to condemn an election campaign that deliberately sought to whip up racial and religious tensions for political gain.

As for Stringer, echoing those who have warned (employing another cliché) that the Woolas judgment “opens a can of worms”, he describes Woolas’s removal as a “dangerous precedent”. Those who adopt this line are either ignorant of the court’s ruling, or are misrepresenting it.

Here is the full wording of the law (Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983) that Woolas brea ched:

(1) A person who, or any director of any body or association corporate which –

(a) before or during an election,

(b) for the purpose of affecting the return of any candidate at the election, makes or publishes any false statement of fact in relation to the candidate’s personal character or conduct shall be guilty of an illegal practice, unless he can show that he had reasonable grounds for believing, and did believe, that statement to be true.

As Mike Smithson points out, the court judgment was based entirely on the false claims Woolas made about his Lib Dem opponent, not his policy statements. Thus, those such as Robert Halfon MP and Tory Radio, who suggest that parties could now be hauled up over misleading manifestos, or that Labour MPs could be punished for the party’s cancer leaflets, could not be more wrong. But what does it say about our political culture that a court judgment that should deter candidates from lying about their opponents is condemned as a “dangerous precedent”?

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Vatican: Envoys Set to Travel to Ireland for Abuse Probe

Vatican, 12 Nov.(AKI) — The Vatican aims to send high-ranking Church officials to overwhelmingly Catholic Ireland “by Easter” on a mission to investigate whether its efforts to help victims of sexual abuse by clergy is having any effect.

The trip “has the goal of verifying the effectiveness of the present process used in responding to cases of abuse and of the current forms of assistance provided to victims,” the Vatican said in a statement on Friday.

An Irish government compensation board has paid out more than 800 million euros to 13,000 people who were abused while in church-run institutions as children. Many of the cases date back decades.

The statement said the Vatican’s own investigation will not interfere with probes conducted by local magistrates and and an Irish parliamentary commission.

The trip will be completed “if possible” by Easter and conducted by English Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Toronto Archbishop Christopher Collins and Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast.

Following the revelations of Irish abuse , Pope Benedict XVI in an historic letter on 20 March expressed “shame and remorse” to victims and their families for “sinful and criminal” acts committed by members of the clergy in Ireland.

The letter came after thousands of allegations that child abuse by Catholic clergy had been covered up emerged in several European countries, including Benedict’s native Germany, where it raised questions as to the pope’s own involvement in concealing abuse while he was archbishop of Munich and subsequently as head of the Vatican body responsible for disciplining priests.

The Irish pastoral visit is particularly sensitive. The scandal has had massive ramifications after two government reports uncovered widespread sex abuse in schools and seminaries and evidence Catholic authorities covered this up for decades.

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


Kosovo: Seven Indicted for Human Organs Trafficking

Pristina, 12 Oct. (AKI) — A European Union prosecutor in Pristina has indicted seven individuals for human organs trafficking and illegal transplant, an official confirmed on Friday. The suspects include a Turk and an Israeli as well as five Kosovans.

Karin Limdal, a spokesperson for the European mission in Kosovo (EULEX), told Adnkronos International (AKI) the case has been turned over to Pristina district court, but couldn’t comment on it “until the indictment was read out in court”.

Limdal said she expected some action to be taken by the end of this month.

“Before that, the prosecutors decided not to go public,” she told AKI.

The Associated Press (AP) reported from Pristina it has seen the indictment, signed by EU prosecutor Jonathan Ratel, charging five Kosovo nationals, one Turk and one Israeli as suspects in international organ trafficking network.

AP reported none of the suspects was in custody, but Limdal said she couldn’t comment on their whereabouts.

According to the indictment, “the organized criminal group trafficked people into Kosovo for the purpose of removing “human organs for their transplant to other persons”.

It said the investigation found that some 20 foreign nationals “were recruited with false promises of payments” in 2008.

According to the indictment, the victims came from Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey and lived in “extreme poverty or acute financial distress”. It was not clear whether they got paid for their organs, the indictment said.

Among the seven indictees is Ilir Rrecaj, a former senior health ministry official who was sacked in early stages of the investigation, and Pristina surgeon Lutfi Dervishi, whose son owned the “Medicus” clinic in Pristina where transplants were allegedly carried out. The clinic has since been closed down.

Dervishi, along with Turkish doctor Yusuf Sonmez and an Israeli citizen, Moshe Harel, who are wanted by Interpol, are listed as leaders of the criminal group.

Former prosecutor of the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Carla del Ponte, had claimed that during the ethnic Albanian rebellion in the 1990s, the Kosovo Liberation Army was transporting Serb civilians to Albania where their organs were removed for transplant and the victims were left to die.

Kosovo and Albanian authorities have rejected these charges, ascribing them to “Serbian propaganda”.

The EU deployed its 2,500-strong police and judicial mission in Kosovo in December 2008 to help local authorities after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February that year.

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

North Africa

Egypt Raises Sinai Alert Level Over Gaza-Bound Terror Squad

Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula have been put on high alert over the hunt after an Army of Isalm terror squad which is believed to have infiltrated the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported on Saturday.

The report comes mere days after Egypt reportedly rounded up a cell of over 25 people suspected of being part of a radical Islamic group that planned to attack Israeli tourists visiting the Sinai peninsula.

In recent months Egyptian forces have made dozens of arrests and uncovered large caches of arms apparently destined for terrorist activities against Israelis.

In its report on Saturday, Ma’an claimed that Egyptian security forces were searching for a group of seven Army of Islam militants who may have already infiltrated into the coastal enclave, and who may be linked to a recent rocket attack on Eialt and Aqaba believed to have been launched from the Sinai.

The raised alert comes a little over a week after Israel claimed responsibility for the assassination of a top-ranking Army of Islam militant in the Strip.

On Thursday, Time Magazine reported that Egyptian intelligence had aided Israel’s hit on the terror strongman, as a result of its desire to damage Hezbollah’s efforts in the Sinai Peninsula.

Mohammed Nimnim, 37, a senior member of the Army of Islam was killed when his car exploded outside a police station in Gaza City.

Israel initially refused to comment on the attack but the Israel Defense Forces later confirmed it had carried out a joint operation with the Shin Bet security service.

The IDF spokeswoman referred to Nimnim as a “ticking bomb”, saying he was part of an al Qaida-linked group that was planning attacks on Israeli and U.S. targets in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Egyptian Security Attempts to Stop Construction of Church

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — Thousands of Copts staged a sit-in inside and outside the Church of the St. Mary in Talbiya, in the Pyramids area, since the morning of November 11, to protest the storming of the church premises by dozens of security forces to stop construction work and demolish stairs and toilets inside the church, despite the church having obtained the necessary permits.

As soon as news of the arrival of security forces at the church became known, hundreds of Copts arrived to congregate. The angry protesters vowed to remain in the church, having heard that security is waiting for them to leave the premises so as to come back and seal it off. They said they are adamant that this is their church and no one is going to stop them from praying there. “Even if President Mubarak himself comes, the church building will go on,” said Mansour el-Sharkawy in the interview. “They are just finding excuses to put their foot in, then start demolishing the church.”

More than one million Copts live in the Talbiya area, without a single church to serve them, having to travel for miles every Sunday with their children to the nearest church. The protesters pointed out that the area is full of mosques without licenses, but when it comes to the Copts, they toil for years to obtain a permit for a church, then security comes out with some sort of excuse to stop them from praying there.

The standoff started on Thursday morning, when the Omrania local authorities committee came under the pretext of completing the papers for the construction works and found that builders were building a second staircase, as well as toilets, which they considered to be in violation of the permit granted. “It was the Civil Defense authorities who asked the church to erect a second staircase to relieve congestion inside the church in case of emergencies and the necessary permit amendments were made,” said Shehata, adding that “if a fire broke out, how do you get hundreds of people out of church with just one staircase, and if women and children want to use the toilets, where should they go?”

After the local authorities left the church, five priests and the contractor went to the local authorities to solve the problem, but were unsuccessful. After their return, security forces arrived with their vehicles.

According to Shehata they were in church when the security forces arrived in huge numbers, to force them to stop construction. “As a means of intimidation, the forces tried to break the church door down, arrest the builders and take away the children as young as seven years old who were present at church. One of the children, a 7 year-old girl named Marina, was terrorized by officers and their rifles. She sobbed and begged one officer, saying “I beg of you uncle, let us live, We don’t want to die, for God’s sake.” A ten-year-old Coptic boy, a nephew of the church contractor, was on his way to church, but was detained and asked by security to get into their car. He was later released.

“They wanted to get the women out of the building, so that they can arrest the builders and church youth who were helping them,” Shehata said. “They are just finding excuses to prevent the building of the church; but the builders are still working and nothing will stop them.” Land for the church was bought over 20 years ago, but the necessary permit to build the Church was granted only six years ago, but it was stopped by the security authorities. This year President Mubarak was approached and he granted another decree to build the church.

“I would like to know what wrong have we committed, we are just asking for our rights to have a place of worship,” said Shehata to Coptic activist Miriam Ragey. “The moment the Muslims saw the Church domes being built, they went mad,” she added.

It was said that when Muslims learned of the construction of the church, they started dumping rubbish on the land to be used for the church.

On September 15, 2010, an Islamic Jihadist Forum called Islamic Atahadi (Challenge) Network, which is said to be an affiliate of Al-Qaida, published on its website under the title “Images of the Church under construction in the Pyramids and how to demolish it, in retaliation for Camelia.” Camelia is the priest’s wife, falsely rumored by Muslims to have converted to Islam and subsequently “abducted” by the Coptic Church (AINA 9-18-2010).

The Forum told its members showing photos of the church’s construction and instructions on how to demolish the St. Mary’s Church in Talbiya, Pyramids: “An easy and affordable way for the demolition of the church before its completion, no need for demonstrations, no need for the use of weapons or explosives, you only need to introduce certain quantities of sugar, yes normal sugar.” They went on to explain how to introduce reasonable quantities of sugar inside the forms prepared for pouring the columns, “Because sugar affects concrete and cancels the chemical reaction which makes the sand and gravel hold together with the cement.” They advised in their the step by step instructions that timing was very important in the process; the best time being immediately before pouring the roof” (link).

On the morning of November 12 it was reported that security prevented the entry of bricks and sand to the Church site. The congregation, who were still guarding the church, said they got threats published on the Internet, that their girls will be abducted, and to keep them indoors. Priests at St. Mary’s Church refused to make any statements, in order to avoid a clash with security and on the instructions of Bishop Theodosius of Giza, who is expected to return from Germany this evening, to resolve the Church crisis.

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Barack Obama: The Most Anti-Israel President!

With his remarks in Jakarta, Indonesia, President Obama made history once again. Sadly, it’s a most unenviable title. I believe he is the most anti-Israel President in U.S. history.

In going to Jakarta, Indonesia, to launch his latest attack, he literally went to the ends of the earth to give voice to his displeasure. He emphasized his opposition to the policies of the elected government of Israel.

He used his Jakarta platform to complain about Israel building apartments for her growing population. Where? In Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.

To make matters even worse, Jakarta is a city no Israeli is allowed to enter! The symbolism of saying what he said in the country and city where he said it is simply atrocious.

He was in Indonesia less than 24 hours. If he had to make such a one-sided and unfair pronouncement, couldn’t he at least have waited until he got to South Korea? Touting Indonesia’s great tolerance is offensive. Indonesians love everybody, except the Israelis, of course, and except Catholic school girls who get beheaded on their way to school.

What could he have been thinking in traveling to his boyhood home — in what is widely described as the largest Muslim country in the world — and sharply criticizing Israel? It’s as if he is determined to take an unfriendly stance and to reinforce it with his own biography: This place was a second home to me, and I am telling you, Israel, to knock it off! Those were not his actual words, but how else can we interpret his bizarre sense of time and place?

President Obama’s foreign policy puts much greater emphasis on the UN as a world body. He has changed previous policy by bowing to the UN’s horrendous Human Rights Council. This is a body that contains Russia, China, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia — those paragons of human rights. It is to this body that the Obama administration finds it necessary to “report.” The reports we have submitted essentially apologize to these brutal despots at the UN for not fully implementing more of the Obama legislative agenda at home.


           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Column One: Addressing Our Homegrown Enemies

This week we learned that Nazareth is an al-Qaida hub. Sheikh Nazem Abu Salim Sahfe, the Israeli imam of the Shihab al-Din mosque in the city, was indicted on Sunday for promoting and recruiting for global jihad and calling on his followers to harm non-Muslims.

Among the other plots born of Sahfe’s sermons was the murder of cab driver Yefim Weinstein last November. Sahfe’s followers also plotted to assassinate Pope Benedict XVI during his trip to Israel last year. They torched Christian tour buses. They abducted and stabbed a pizza delivery man. Two of his disciples were arrested in Kenya en route to joining the al-Qaida forces in Somalia.

With his indictment, Sahfe joins a growing list of jihadists born and bred in Israel and in free societies around the world who have rejected their societies and embraced the cause of Islamic global domination. The most prominent member of this group among US citizens today is the American-born al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki.

US authorities describe Awlaki as the world’s most dangerous man. His jihadist track record is staggering. It seems that there has been no major attack in the US or Britain — including the September 11 attacks and the July 7 attacks in London — in which Awlaki has not played a role.

Sahfe and Awlaki, like nearly all the prominent jihadists in the West, are men of privilege. Their personal histories are a refutation of the popular Western tale that jihad is born of frustration, poverty and ignorance. Both men, like almost every prominent Western jihadist, are university graduates.

So, too, their stories belie the Western fantasy that adherence to the cause of jihad is spawned by poverty. These men and their colleagues are the sons of wealthy or of comfortable middle class families. They have never known privation.

Armed with their material comforts, university degrees and native knowledge of the ways of democracy and the habits of freedom, these men chose to become jihadists. They chose submission to Islam over liberal democratic rights because that is what they prefer. They are idealists.

This means that all the standard Western pabulums about the need to expand welfare benefits for Muslims or abstain from enforcing the laws against their communities, or to give mosques immunity from surveillance and closure, or to seek to co-opt jihadist leaders by treating them like credible Muslim voices, are wrong and counterproductive. These programs do not neutralize their supremacist intentions or actions. They embolden the Western Islamic supremacists by signaling to them that they are winning. Their Western societies are no match for them.


           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Six Years Ago, Yasir Arafat Died; Today His Legacy Still Prevails: No to Peace, No to Compromise

By Barry Rubin

Six years ago, on November 11, 2004, Yasir Arafat died. On that occasion, former President Bill Clinton explained why he wouldn’t attend Arafat’s funeral: “I regret that in 2000 he missed the opportunity to bring [Palestine] into being….” Not Israel, but Arafat did so.

Today, the Arafat era’s lessons have been largely swept under the rug: his persistent mendacity, use of terrorism, cynical exploitation of an “underdog” posture to garner sympathy, and unfailing devotion to the dream of wiping Israel off the map. The placing of that last priority over creating a Palestinian state is why there is none today. Not Israeli policy, not settlements, but the preference for total victory over compromise.

At Arafat’s funeral, one of his lieutenants, Saeb Arikat, proclaimed: “Give him the honor he deserves!” Let it be so.

As the editorial in the London Times put it, he was the man who “threw away the best chance in a generation for an honorable settlement to the Middle East conflict.” In the New Yorker, David Remnick accurately wrote, “Rarely has a leader blundered more and left more ruin in his wake.”

Yet, too, perhaps, as never before in modern history, have so many relentlessly airbrushed away a leader’s career of faults and crimes. What was especially remarkable in so much of the coverage and discussion was the virtual erasure of a career in terrorism which had spanned forty years. There were no scenes of past carnage shown; no survivors or relatives of his victims interviewed. In political terms, his dedication to the elimination of another state and people, consistent use of terrorism, and rejection of peace were thrown down the memory hole of history.

The timeline for Arafat’s life prepared by both the BBC and the Associated Press omit any mention of terrorist attacks and skip the fatal year 2000 altogether. In its timeline the Associated Press only invokes the word terrorism to claim that Arafat had “renounced” it in 1988, though this had not prevented the PLO from committing scores of attacks-usually with Arafat’s blessing-thereafter.

Arabs, who knew him and his history better, were more critical. An article surveying Arab reaction in Cairo’s al-Ahram newspaper concluded that most Arab officials’ private reaction was one of “relief.” They said he had been an obstacle to achieving peace “largely for the sake of his own glory” and called him a man “too self-centered to really care about the misfortunes of his own people.” Not a single interviewee expressed a word of sorrow.

At the time of Arafat’s death his people still did not have a state, a functioning economy, or the most elementary security after following his leadership for thirty-five years. Much of that situation remains the same today.

Yet Arafat’s narrative had largely triumphed, certainly in persuading those who wanted to believe it that the movement he shaped and created was noble and sympathetic, a victim of other’s treatment rather than of its own policies…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin [Return to headlines]

Middle East

De Varthema’s Journey in Mecca of the 16th Century

(ANSAmed) — ROME- “We must now correct those who say that the body of Mohammed is raised into the air in Mecca. I say that this not the truth. I have seem his tomb in this city of Medina”. To today’s reader, such statements seem obvious, but to the erudite readership of the 16th century, hungry for exotic accounts, the words of the Bolognese writer Ludovico de Varthema must have seemed revolutionary. Indeed, this was the first time that anyone, a Christian to boot, had revealed the real whereabouts of the tomb of Mohammed. So the body of the Prophet was not, as was believed at the time, kept in an iron sarcophagus suspended in the air with giant magnets.

This anecdote is one of the many recounted in “The travels of Ludovico de Varthema in Egypt, Syria, Arabia Deserta and Arabia Felix, in Persia, India and Ethiopia”, the diaries published for the first time on Rome in 1510 at the request of Giulio II (and dedicated to the Duchess of Tagliacozzo, Agnese di Montefeltro, who would later become the owner of the only manuscript), and which became a bestseller at the time, as a result of being translated into Latin, Spanish, French, Flemish, and later around 50 others.

Skira is presenting the book in Milan in the next few days, in Milan, to mark the opening of the exhibition at Palazzo Reale entitled “Al Fann, the art of Islamic civilisastion”, which features 350 priceless pieces from the collection of the Kuwaiti Sheikhs Al-Sabah.

In “Voyage to Mecca” (Skira, 15 euros, p. 128), there is a presentation of the books that the Bolognese traveller (1470-1517) dedicated to the first part of his trip — the journey towards the Middle East — which he undertook dressing as a mamluk as he travelled with a convoy to Cairo, Beirut, Tripoli, Aleppo, Damascus, Mecca, Medina, Jeddah, until he reached Aden, where his Christian identity was discovered.

An attentive and sharp-witted observer, de Varthema — of whom little is known, according to the Franco Cardini’s preface to the work, because many such boasts were made at the time — was fascinated by pilgrimage rites, by crowds filling the squares, by the richness of markets packed with products from faraway lands. His account also feature stories of his sentimental and sexual adventures.

“He was the first to go to Mecca and write about it on his return,” Eileen Romano, the curator of the Milanese publisher’s new Art Stories series, tells ANSAmed. “The Church did not allow Christians to travel to these places”. It is uncertain whether this courageous sixteenth century traveller converted “because he denies such a thing in his account”. “One thing is for sure, though, and this is that, like today, one needed to be Muslim in order to enter the holy sites of Islam, and this makes the testimony of de Varthema even more precious”. The descriptions regarding the lives of pilgrims to Mecca and the moment of prayer around the Ka’ba are equally rare for the time.

In the six years that eventually saw him arrive in India, the Bolognese adventurer managed to pass himself off, depending on the requirements of different situations, as a doctor, a merchant and an expert in weaponry, showing an invention and sharpness that he never tired of showing off.

After the explosion of the “de Varthema phenomenon”, between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, his accounts were re-edited a number of times. In Italy, the Skira curator concludes, the diaries were republished in 1929 and again later in 1991. De Varthema’s accounts will be available in bookshops from the middle of November to mark five hundred years since they were first published. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Fundamentally Freund: Why is Obama Arming Israel’s Enemies?

For someone who insists his administration is a friend of Israel, Barack Obama sure has a funny way of showing it. Last month, in a move that raised plenty of eyebrows, the US announced that it is planning a new round of arms sales to Saudi Arabia — to the tune of $60 billion.

Under the proposed arrangement, the Saudis will be getting some of America’s finest military hardware, including F-15 fighter-bombers, Blackhawk and Apache helicopters, laser-guided bombs, advanced radar systems, and Harpoon and Sidewinder missiles. That’s more than enough firepower to make another round of Rambo sequels.

Indeed, this is by far the largest arms deal in American history, and it will significantly improve the desert kingdom’s military potential.

As Joshua Teitelbaum, principal research fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, put it: “There is no doubt that the package represents a considerable improvement in the offensive capability of the Saudi armed forces.”

Just consider the following: Between 1950 and 2006, the US sold some $60 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia. Now, in one fell swoop, Obama plans to offer Riyadh a package equal to all those decades of military sales.

This, of course, is the same Saudi Arabia that refuses to recognize Israel, has served as a source of funding and manpower for militant Islamic fundamentalism, and ruthlessly represses any semblance of human rights for its own citizens.

But the Saudis aren’t the only dubious characters to benefit from Obama’s military marketing plan. In the past week, the Obama administration has notified Congress of three additional arms deals with Gulf Arab states, all of which are unfriendly toward the Jewish state. These include the sale of $5 billion worth of Apache helicopters to that bastion of freedom and democracy known as the United Arab Emirates, as well as a pact to send tactical missile systems to Bahrain.

And since the summer, Washington has also moved ahead with the proposed sale of aircraft and Patriot missiles to Kuwait, and $3.5 billion worth of F-16s to Oman.

This is all on top of the $13 billion in arms sales to Arab countries that Obama approved during his first year in office.

WHAT IS going on here? Why is Obama so busy arming Israel’s enemies? The ostensible reason is growing fears about the power of Iran and the threat that it poses to the region.


           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Into the Iraqi Night

The redefinition of Al Qaeda as “Pre-Islamic Pagans”

Good news. Apparently there is no such thing as Muslim terrorism after all, because Al Qaeda have been redefined as “Pre-Islamic Pagans”. Lisa Graas, who has been providing extensive coverage of the murder of Christians in Iraq, picked up on this bizarre claim by Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki.

The redefinition of Al Qaeda as “Pre-Islamic Pagans” is surreal to most Westerners, but this kind of constant editing and re-editing of history has become commonplace in the Muslim world. If Muslims can insist that Abraham and King David were Muslims and that Jesus was a Palestinian, it’s a hop and a skip to claiming that Bin Laden’s followers are somehow pre-Islamic.

This kind of reasoning isn’t completely random. Maliki is a member of the Dawa Party, which is noted for its convoluted path to promoting an Islamic state. Getting a Fatwa against fellow Muslims is tricky. But by defining Al Qaeda as pagans, suddenly there’s Koranic permission to kill them.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: ‘Mecca Metro’ Ready for Pilgrims

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, NOVEMBER 12 — Worshipers can say goodbye to being stuck in lines and traffic jams for hours in cars or on foot, risking car accidents and getting trampled. Starting on November 15, the date marking the beginning of pilgrimages to Mecca, pilgrims will be able to travel from one holy site to another using the metro. The Al Mashaar Al Muqadassah, or “the metro of the Holy site”, whose name has already been changed to the more streamlined ‘Mecca metro’, will lighten traffic around the main Muslim holy sites by at least 30,000 vehicles, estimates the Saudi Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs, Habin bin Mustafa Zain Al Abdeen, and is considered one of the most important projects in the country in the public transport sector. When the metro operates at full capacity in 2011, it will have twenty 12-car trains holding about 3,000 passengers, but this year, warned officials, it will run at 35% capacity, with 10 trains doing the route in about 7 minutes, transporting about 72,000 pilgrims each trip.

The route will start in Mina, the arid valley where worshipers gather in prayer, then will travel to Mount Arafat, where Mohammed made his final sermon before his death and where the sacrifice of a ram takes place to commemorate Abraham, and then heads to Muzdalifah, the final stop of the pilgrimage. The idea of a metro to relieve some of the congestion from the Muslim holy sites in order to make them safer materialised three years ago when during Hajj, the pilgrimage that every Muslim is required to take at least once in their lifetime, 23 pilgrims died when two buses crashed. This was the last of a long series of incidents over the years, which have taken thousands of lives. Originally designed as a monorail, the Mecca Metro was built with conventional tracks and will be part of a more extensive railway network whose construction is already underway. Initially, it will be connected to the Haramain Railway, a 500km tract designed for pilgrims travelling between Mecca and Medina, the two most sacred cities for Islam, and later to the Gulf network. The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman — have independently begun to build national railway networks, which, once completed, will be interconnected throughout the region. The nearly 8 billion euro project then aims to extend to Jordan and Syria, eventually reaching Europe via Turkey. The Mecca Metro, built by a Chinese railway company, with contributions also made by European businesses and with an investment of over 1.3 billion euros, will make use of automatic driverless trains. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UAE: Nuclear Power in Dubai’s Future

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI , NOVEMBER 11 — Twenty per cent of Dubai’s energy needs will be met in the future by nuclear power, said Said Mohammad Al-Tayer, vice president of the High Council for Energy. An additional 20% will instead be guaranteed by coal-fired plants, which will satisfy 49% of the emirate’s energy requirements by 2020. “The study has almost been completed,” said Al Tayer, quoted by the daily paper Gulf News, refering to the strategic energy plan which carries out short, medium and long-term assessments. The study, however, does not set down a timeline for the building of nuclear power plants. Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has already assigned the contract for the building of four plants to a South Korean enterprise and identified the location in which they will be built: in the extreme south-west of the emirate, on the border with Saudi Arabia in a desert area. Committed to an energy plan which is ever less dependent on oil, by 2020 the UAE is expected to be able to ensure the production of 40,000 MW to meet growing demand. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Yemen: The War on Terror and a Deadly Game of Cat and Mouse

Sheikh Ahmed Shuraif certainly has the tools for the job the Americans and British want him to do. Kalashnikov rifles litter the floor of the spacious lounge where he and his men gather in the afternoon to chew qat, Yemenis’ favourite narcotic leaf. And this is just his town house in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. Out in the province of Marib, where he commands one of Yemen’s most important tribes, he is reputed to have the country’s largest private army, including tanks.

Since Marib is one of the main homes of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Sheikh Ahmed should be a useful ally in the war on terror, his men the very people the West hopes will turn on the terrorists in their midst. Unfortunately, he says, it is not as simple as that. “In our religion we are against what al-Qaeda does,” he says, smiling gently and thoughtfully from his couch in the middle of the room. “What they are doing is very bad. It’s not in Islam at all.”

His sons, one a provincial deputy governor, and some of his followers line the cushions set against the walls around him, nodding and hanging on his every word. “But who is al-Qaeda, and who is not? Even they don’t know themselves sometimes. How can we tell? In our tribal custom, if someone comes among us we have to protect them. If we discover later they are al-Qaeda, we cannot turn them in. We would no longer accept him, but we would not give him to the government.”

The hunt for al-Qaeda in Yemen, and its spiritual mentor, Anwar al-Awlaki, has become the latest spectator sport of a security-obsessed world. If the battle raging in Afghanistan and Pakistan is a bloody teenage computer game, with militants taking on western infantry with mines, and being struck in turn by drone-fired missiles, the war in Yemen is more cerebral.

Scientifically minded al-Qaeda recruits invent devilish ways of smuggling bombs out of the hills and into the homes of their enemies — odourless explosives in Fedex packages, youthful assassins with bombs hidden in their private parts. Those taking them on have to plan equally cleverly. The war is as much psychological as physical. Al-Qaeda’s new strategy is to set the West on edge rather than destroy manifestations of its power, as in 9/11. It wants to undermine our self-confidence and credibility with its potential recruits.

Aerial attacks by drones, as in Afghanistan, along with the inevitable “collateral damage”, could play into al-Qaeda’s hands. The government has put Awlaki on trial in absentia since al-Qaeda sent two parcel bombs two weeks ago via courier to America, which were intercepted in Dubai and England before they could explode. It has also launched raids with the overt purpose of seizing or killing al-Qaeda’s local leader, Nasser al-Nuhayshi, and his number two, the former Guantanamo inmate Said al-Shehri, without success.


           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Taliban Insurgents in Attack on NATO Base

Taliban militants have attacked a Nato military outpost near the airport in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.

The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said the attack on its forward operating base in Nangahar province lasted two hours.

Eight militants, one of whom was wearing a suicide belt, died. The Taliban said it was behind the assault.

Later, two policemen and six civilians were killed by a bomb on a motorbike in Kunduz province, local officials said.

Another 18 people were wounded in the attack on a crowded market, which appeared to target a local militia leader in Emam Sehab district.

In a separate incident in southern Afghanistan, Isaf reported that three Nato soldiers were killed in an insurgent attack.

No further details were given about the incident, including the nationalities of those killed.

‘Showered with bullets’ The attack near Jalalabad’s airport began at about 0530 (0100 GMT) on Saturday, the second time in six months that the area has been targeted.

Witnesses said they heard explosions and saw smoke rising in the area.

An Isaf statement said that Forward Operating Base Behsud “received small arms fire from an unknown number of insurgents”.

It said the assault was repelled by Isaf and Afghan troops, who sustained no casualties. Helicopters were also called in.

Afterwards, a nearby residential district was showered with bullets, witnesses said, and a number of bodies were seen lying on the ground.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said 14 suicide bombers had been involved.

“They entered the airport. Some of them have blown themselves up,” he was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

Isaf said four of the attackers were dressed in Afghan army uniforms.

The attacks come a day after a suicide car bomber struck a convoy of Isaf troops in Kabul. The explosives were detonated before the car reached the convoy, killing one Afghan civilian.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Are Religious Fasts-Unto-Death Suicide?

Three members of a Muslim family recently died and 10 others were hospitalised in a critical condition during a 40-day-fast at a 14th century Sufi saint’s dargah in Ajmer, Rajasthan.

The fast was undertaken at the behest of a senior family member who claimed he was acting under the “orders” of the saint who appeared in his dreams and prescribed the ‘Chilla Kashi’ ritual to ward off black magic.

The Ajmer tragedy could perhaps be explained away as a stray instance of irrational misinterpretation of an imagined cult diktat. In contrast, the ongoing debate over Santhara — the ritualised fast-unto-death practiced sometimes in the Jain community — has ended up with the Rajasthan high court.

After failing to get the police to prevent Keila Devi Hirawat of Jaipur from killing herself through Santhara, Nikhil Soni, a human rights activist, filed a writ petition against the practice. Calling it “a social evil” that should be considered “suicide” under Indian law, the petition in effect demands that practitioners of Santhara should be prosecuted under section 309 of the IPC for attempted suicide and its supporters charged with abetting a crime.

If the court finally agrees with Soni’s contentions and outlaws Santhara, the decision would seriously dent the religious sensitivities of nearly six million practising Jains, for whom the centuries-old ritual holds a pride of place among their sacred traditions. Its apologists — including PC Jain, a retired high court judge — argue that Santhara cannot be characterised as “suicide” when a person relinquishes food and drink voluntarily after calm introspection with an intent to cleanse oneself of karmic encumbrances.


           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Coup in Pakistan ‘A Real Possibility’

Western countries would like to negotiate with the Taliban, but Pakistan would rather they didn’t. US terrorism expert Bruce Riedel spoke with SPIEGEL ONLINE about just how explosive the situation currently is in Pakistan and how much influence al-Qaida still has.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Riedel, there is increasing talk of trying to negotiate with the Taliban in Afghanistan in order to achieve a political settlement. How can this be achieved?

Bruce Riedel: We are all war weary, we are all looking for a way out, we would all like a political solution. The question is: Is the Taliban capable of the kind of process of compromise and negotiation that we want? And can it be separated from al-Qaida? There is every reason to test those propositions, and we have nothing to lose by testing them. But we also have to be honest with ourselves. The odds are good that the answer is no and that the ties between the two are too strong at the operational and ideological level. In the US last year, we had an attempted attack on the Metro system in New York City which was al-Qaida sponsored but in which the terrorists had been given to al-Qaida by the Afghan Taliban. So in this sense they were involved in recruiting for a terrorist attack on America. That suggests it is going to be very, very hard to break up this connection.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Officially ,the Afghan Taliban regularly insist that they are not interested in international terrorism and would instead like to establish good neighborly relations with Afghanistan’s neighbors. Does this mean the Afghan Taliban is not as monolithic as it claims to be?

Riedel: The Afghan Taliban is composed of several networks and it is not clear how monolithic even these networks are within themselves. But there is a broader phenomenon going on inside all the militant groups based in Pakistan, which is a radicalization. The idea of global Jihad is becoming more and more popular at the grassroots level. Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, who traditionally had a domestic agenda, are increasingly buying into the idea of globalized terrorism.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: One possible negotiating partner within the Afghan Taliban would be Mullah Baradar, who made it known he was ready to discuss the idea of holding talks. But he was arrested by Pakistan. Was this an attempt by Pakistan to stop negotiations altogether?

Riedel: That is in fact another dimension of this complicated problem. Pakistan does not want direct negotiations between the Afghan Taliban and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai or between the Afghan Taliban and the West. It wants to control the process so as to ensure it gets its preferred outcome, which is a satellite state next to Pakistan. When Mullah Baradar started to talk about talks, the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI) had him arrested. He is, from what I understand, under some sort of friendly house arrest now. But he is being used by the ISI as a signal to the other Taliban to prevent them from taking independent action.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Pakistan’s interests in Afghanistan may very well be legitimate, but they become less important when Pakistan itself is becoming instable…

Riedel: Pakistan today is already in the midst of a small scale civil war. Last year 25,000 Pakistanis were killed or wounded in terrorism-related violence, and that’s just civilians. That’s three times the number of civilians killed or wounded in Afghanistan in the same year. It is a very fragile, very volatile and very combustible country right now. In many ways it is the strategic prize in this whole equation. What happens in Afghanistan will have huge ramifications for what happens in Pakistan. A jihadist victory in Afghanistan would have enormous reverberations and could even signal a take over by jihadist forces in Pakistan.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Some people believe a jihadist takeover is already more likely in Pakistan than in Afghanistan…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Malaysia: Boy Caned for Bringing Pork to School

MALAYSIA’S parliament this week debated whether or not it was right for teachers to cane a 10-year-old boy for bringing pork to school.

The Malaysia Star reported the argument centered on whether the boy, who was caned 10 times across the hand for eating a home-cooked meal of fried rice with pork, is Muslim or Christian. If the boy was Christian he would not have broken any rules by eating pig products.

Angela Jabing said her son Basil was disciplined for eating a non-Halal meal. She is a Christian and her husband, Beginda Minda, has denied being a Muslim.

The Star reported that a decree issued by the National Fatwa Council means that if either parent is Muslim the child must be Muslim.

“I admit I was a Muslim before. But in 1999, I changed my religion. Now I am a non-Muslim,” Beginda said.

The government is now investigating whether Beginda is a Muslim or non-Muslim.

“Only after this can conclusions be drawn on why his son was caned,” said government minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Repeal Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law

Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother of five, is the first woman to have been convicted under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy law. But numerous Christians like her and others have been victims of it, either because they have made a comment which has been construed as critical of the prophet of Islam or as a way of settling property and business disputes. Now she has become the first person to be sentenced to death under it.

Did she blaspheme Muhammad? It seems more likely that she angered her tormentors in a theological discussion about the relative merits of Christianity and Islam. Such debates take place all the time among adherents of different faiths. Whichever it may have been, the law has created intolerable injustice for often powerless people and quite unacceptable restrictions on freedom of speech to which the state of Pakistan is committed.

In undivided India, the British had laws which were meant to prevent incitement to religious hatred (yes, that is where this approach was first tried). The penalties, however, were generally moderate and proportional to the offences. Increasing Islamisation in Pakistan has made these laws more and more draconian. Thus there is now a mandatory life sentence for desecrating the Qur’an and a mandatory death sentence for blaspheming the prophet.

We need to know urgently from our Muslim friends whether these laws are really Islamic. The different formal schools of medieval sharia were unanimous that anyone who insults the prophet is to be put to death and differ only about the method of execution. It is this unanimity which has led the federal shariat court to rule that the death penalty is mandatory and left the judges with little discretion in particular cases.

Against this, the Qur’an only threatens those who insult God as the prophet with a curse and a humiliating punishment in this life and the next. It is claimed sometimes that the execution of poets, such as Ka’ab ibn al-Ashraf, for insulting the prophet is a precedent for executing blasphemers. On the other hand, it is said that they were put to death not for blaspheming but for sedition. The Hadith also tells us that while some were punished, others were freely pardoned by Muhammad himself. The question is, which of these attitudes is to prevail in Muslim nations and communities today?

It may be that a country like Pakistan needs laws to prevent religiously aggravated hatred discrimination. Such laws would be very different from the present ones and would protect religious minorities equally with Muslims.

How can Asia Bibi and others be saved from the gallows? The blasphemy law is a bad law enacted under pressure from extremists who threaten violence if the government does anything to lessen its impact or to ameliorate the lot of those who have fallen victim to it. A bad law will always come back to haunt us and that is why our ultimate aim must be its repeal.

Pakistan is a signatory to international agreements which prohibit cruel and degrading punishment. It is time for it to honour its commitments and to stand up to extremist purveyors of hate, if it is to have a respected place in the family of nations. The international community, the UN, the Commonwealth and the EU must do everything they can to make sure this vulnerable woman does not suffer the extreme penalty and that others, like her, are not subjected to months and even years of harassment, imprisonment and anxiety as they await a final verdict on their cases.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Far East

Disney World in Which Chinese Children ‘Toil for 76 Hours a Week’

To Western children, Disney is a fairytale world of talking mice, princesses and dragons. To Chinese children, it sometimes means working from 8am to 10pm, handling chemicals without protection, being chastised for failing to hit production targets, and eating food laden with cockroaches.

Staff at two factories making Disney toys for Westerners employed children between the ages of 14 and 16 in breach of local labour laws and the entertainment giant’s own code of conduct, according to a report by China Labour Watch (CLW), a US NGO.

Along with their adult colleagues, the children worked 12-hour days in “unacceptable conditions”, the 25-page document says. One factory was making Winnie the Pooh and Piglet toys and the other was making Disney dolls and stamps. They also made goods for other companies.

CLW said it launched the undercover investigation because problems had been found at factories producing Disney-branded goods in the past. In 1996, another NGO, the US National Labour Committee, found abuses at suppliers in Haiti in a report called The US in Haiti: How to get Rich on 11c an Hour.

Last year, CLW found breaches of working hours, wage and contract laws at a factory in Guangdong that was producing Disney gifts after a 17-year-old worker, Liu Pan, was crushed to death in machinery. CLW claimed the factory was hiring workers as young as 13. To uncover current conditions, CLW randomly selected two plants making Disney-branded merchandise, sent in undercover investigators and interviewed staff.

According to the report, working hours were excessively long: two four-hour stints daily between Monday and Saturday were typically followed by another four hours of compulsory overtime in the evenings, adding up to 76 hours a week. The children also worked these hours, up to 330 a month, including 150 of forced overtime, it said, adding they sometimes worked seven days in a row.

Workers were supplied with gloves for handling hazardous chemicals but allegedly did not wear them because it made their work rate too slow. As a result, some of them had developed skin rashes, while for some, layers of skin were “falling off”.

Staff complained they found it difficult to resign, and could do so only at set times, leaving with less pay than they were owed. There were “harsh and unreasonable” discipline practices, and dormitories — housing typically 12 workers each — were said to be dirty and smelly. Daily food at one of the factories consisted of two vegetable dishes and one meat meal. The report said: “In all of the meat dishes, one can only see two small pieces of meat or fish. Regardless of what kind of food or oil it is cooked in, workers often detect food additives, hair or cockroaches.”

Although members of staff were allowed to join a trade union, they were not aware it existed and were not members. There was no safety training, no fire drills and “fire hazards existed”, the report said. After deductions for accommodation, meals and drinking water, one factory paid 1,100 yuan (£103) a month — about three yuan an hour.

CLW said: “The investigations showed the old problems with Disney remain: child labourers are still hired in factories, and labour conditions are still unacceptable.” It called on Disney to publish details of its supplying factories and open them up for some independent inspections.

[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Indian Websites Do Your Homework for $2

Australian high school and university students are outsourcing their homework to sweatshops in India, Pakistan and Egypt which provide English essays and maths papers for as little as $2.

Websites such as canadian, realassignment and dissertation offer fixed-price tariffs or auction-style services where students put work out to tender and workers, mostly graduates from India and Pakistan, bid to take on the projects, News Ltd newspapers say.

Schools are powerless to stop cheaters using the outsourcing services because custom-made work cannot usually be detected by plagiarism software.

Matt Barrie, founder of, a website designed to put small businesses in touch with affordable labour in emerging economies, says homework assignments are frequently submitted to his site.

“We get them all the time,” he said. “As a lecturer myself, I really don’t approve, but kids will be kids — they will always find a way to cheat.

“There are students in India who will give answers for just a few dollars and I have seen maths questions answered for $2 a go.”

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]


UK: Muslims Vow to Unseat Zionists [8 April 2010]

The Muslim organisation that claimed responsibility for unseating “pro-war, pro-Israel” Labour MP Lorna Fitzsimons from her Rochdale constituency at the last election has launched its campaign for the 2010 election. The Muslim Public Affairs Committee, which has an openly anti-Zionist agenda, has said it will target MPs and candidates known to support Israel and those they have identified as “Islamophobic”. It claims that 82 constituencies now have a Muslim population larger than the incumbent’s majority.

MPAC will concentrate its resources on the Oldham seat of Immigration Minister Phil Woolas, who recently raised concerns about the prevalence of marriage between cousins in the Muslim community. “Muslim voters can no longer be taken for grant ed by Labour, as a new politicised generation are becoming swing voters who demand action, on issues from Palestine to anti-terror laws,” said Rukiya Dadhiwala, MPAC’s campaign co-ordinator.

The organisation has also warned Muslim voters in Hendon to vote for anyone but sitting Labour MPAndrew Dismore, who is considered an arch-Zionist. It claims 2,000 leaflets attacking the Labour candidate were distributed outside Hendon mosque at Friday prayers. However, his opponents, Conservative Matthew Offord and Lib Dem Matthew Harris are also both strong supporters of Israel. “They may be Zionists, but they are not as bad as he is,” said spokesman Tahir Shah.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

The Feminist Politics of Islamic Misogyny

Studying honor killings is not the same as sensationalizing them — but Columbia University professor Lila Abu-Lughod disagrees. Moreover, she believes that indigenous Arab and Muslim behavior, including honor-related violence, is best understood as a consequence of Western colonialism — perhaps even of “Islamophobia.”

On October 25, 2010, at the American University of Beirut, Abu-Lughod admonished feminists who sensationalize honor killings, a position which, in her opinion, represents “simplistic, civilizational thinking.” She “warned that an obsessive focus on the so-called honor crime may have negative repercussions” and that “people should be wary of classifying certain acts as a distinctive form of violence against women.” (Her remarks are summarized in a press release published by the university. According to the university, the article on which the speech is based will be published early next year in Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies.)

Abu-Lughod opposed the “concept of clear-cut divisions between cultures, which she viewed as a form of imprisoning rural and immigrant communities,” and suggested that focusing on “honor crimes” allowed “scholars and activists to ignore important contexts for violence against women: social tensions; political conflicts; forms of racial, class, and ethnic discrimination; religious movements; government policing and surveillance; and military intervention.”

What kind of feminism does Abu-Lughod represent? She is a post-colonial, postmodern, cultural relativist, a professor of anthropology and women’s and gender studies who does not believe in universal standards of human rights. However, her allegedly feminist work primarily serves the cause of one nationalism only — Palestinian — and of one tradition only — Islam/Islamism. […]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]