News Feed 20120421

Financial Crisis
» Albania: Economy Growing, But 60% Population Suffering
» “Stand Your Ground” Law Not Invalidated by Zimmerman Shooting
» Chamber of Commerce — Change Agent Since 1912
» Cook Stoves and Climate Change
» Dershowitz Comments on the Zimmerman Case
» Gunman Who ‘Stalked Couples at Motels and Forced Them to Have Sex’ Is Caught… After Showing Up at Court Over Traffic Violation
» Muslim Students Celebrate Culture at Tate [Plaza]
» Obama’s Counterterrorism Chief Praises NYPD Operation That Targeted N.J. Mosques
» Prostitutes Involved in Secret Service Sex Scandal ‘May Have Been Underage’ As Senator Demands Investigation Into Involvement of Obama’s White House Staff
» South Florida’s Muslim Bashing
» What is Earth Day?: Earth Day and Agenda 21
Europe and the EU
» France: Bayrou: We Need a Technical Government Like Monti
» French Muslims ‘Likely to Vote for Far Left’
» Germany and Islam: Koran Study
» Italian Beer Getting Just Desserts at Home and Abroad
» Italy: Venetian ‘Gutenberg’ Hands Down Tradition
» Italy: Ducati to be Sold to Audi, Owners Confirm
» Italy: More Italian Readers Gather News From Internet
» Italy: N. League’s Bossi Did Not Know of Maroni Dossier
» Italy: Prosecutors Seize 350, 000 Euro From Northern League Notary
» Something Smells Funny? Gorgonzola Popularity Spawns Bogus-Zola
» UK Cab Company Boss Claims Cyclists Deserve to Die
» UK: Langley Green Church Converts to New Mosque
» UK: Muslim ‘Cultural Sensitivity’ Runs Amok
» UK: The ‘Omnishambles’ And the Power of Political Language
» UKIP Doesn’t Have a Grassroots and Has to Fight to Keep the Loonies Out. Wavering Tories Should be Careful
» Vatican and Breakaway SSPX Seek Common Ground
» We Can’t Reform the European Court of Human Rights, So Let’s End This Nonsense
» Serbia: Roma People’s Position Improves
Mediterranean Union
» EU Project Offers Training to 1,200 Journalists
North Africa
» Algeria: Woman in Surgery Clinic, Dies After Kidney “Stolen”
Israel and the Palestinians
» Jewish Studies Center, Soon Gay Rabbis in Israel
Middle East
» Bahrain Grand Prix: Protesters Block Roads as Teargas Fired
» Islam’s Sacred Geography
» Kuwait: Blasphemer Injured, MPs Demand Probe — Assailant Charged With Attempted Murder
» Kuwait: Islamists Propose Morality Police
» Qatar: Soccer Meets Politics at Doha’s Mohammed Abdul Wahhab Mosque
» Saudi Arabia: Narrowing Islam-West Cultural Gap
» ENI, ENEL Start Joint Production of Gas in Siberia
South Asia
» Bollywood Star Kidnapped and Beheaded by Two Colleagues
» ‘Enforced Disappearances’ Haunt Bangladesh
» For India’s Central Government, The Enrica Lexie Was in International Waters
» Indian Attorney Supports Italy’s Claim in Shooting Case
» India: Hindu Radicals Use the Law to Persecute Christians in Andhra Pradesh
» Indonesia: Latest Attack Damages Mosque in W. Java
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Cameroon: Army Deployed Against Poachers
» Gabon/OIC: Information Ministers From OIC Member States Issue a Final Communique at the End of the 9th Icim
» Nigeria: R-E-V-E-A-L-E-D! How Boko Haram Import Arms From Apapa Wharf, Borno
Latin America
» Wal-Mart Hushed Up Vast Mexico Bribery Case After Top-Level Struggle
» Greece: Reception Centre to Open in Next Few Days
» UK: Illegal Immigrant Raped Young Woman Three Years After Judge Ordered Him to be Deported the 33-Year-Old Raped the Woman Twice and Battered Her So Severely She Had 17 Injuries
Culture Wars
» Irish Government TD (Member of Parliament) Blames ‘Fornication’ For Unwanted Pregnancies
» Why Hate Speech Should Not be Banned

Financial Crisis

Albania: Economy Growing, But 60% Population Suffering

(ANSAmed) — TRIESTE, APRIL 18 — The economic crisis has affected the majority of families in Albania, with 60% of Albanians saying that they have noticed a “significant” effect on the progress of the economy, compared to an average of 50% in south-eastern Europe.

The figures are included in the ‘Transition Report 2011’, by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which presented the document on Albania in the capital Tirana today. The event was held at the House of Culture and was organised by the EBRD office in Tirana and the Central European Initiative (CEI), in collaboration with the Italian embassy.

The report states that suffering amid the economic crisis is felt despite the fact that Albania’s economy is growing, and is due to rise by 1.2% in 2012, the EBRD says. Since 1992, the CEI Fund at the EBRD has supported 27 technical assistance projects, worth a total of 6 million euros, in the energy, transport, agriculture and institutional development sectors.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]


“Stand Your Ground” Law Not Invalidated by Zimmerman Shooting

Suppose some leftwing activists told you that you should not use guns because you have no right to protect yourself from a murderous criminal? If you’re like most right-thinking people, you would be outraged. Yet, liberals are using the shooting of Trayvon Martin as an excuse to say exactly that. They want to use the Martin case to repeal “stand your ground” laws.

A provision of Castle Doctrine legislation, “stand your ground” laws state that you don’t have to retreat from an attacker, that you can stay on your home or neighborhood premises and fight to defend yourself. That law replaced “duty to retreat” laws, which stated you must run away from your would-be murderer, so you do not kill him.

Leftists use the Martin case to urge repeal of “Stand your ground” laws which implies a revival of “retreat” laws. “Retreating” from your would-be murderer means not being able to use your gun to protect yourself. That, in turn, negates the right of self-defense. One example, of how liberals are arguing the “retreat” viewpoint is ex-President Bill Clinton.

That, of course, represents the false claim long made by liberals. It’s false because a lack of police training and the mere possession of a gun do not transform conscientious citizens into cold-blooded murderers. Lacking such training, civilians have their commonsense and deeply ingrained conscience that prevents them from becoming murderers. In fact, the data on shooting incidents between citizens and criminals shows that gun-owning citizens have thwarted crimes, protected themselves and protected their families from burglars. There are even cases where concealed carry permit-holders saved the lives of cops who were about to be murdered by thugs. So, time and again we see law-abiding gun owners continue being law-abiding. They don’t become the crazed murderers that dumb liberals say they will become.

Clinton’s concern about “Stand Your Ground” law “encouraging” murders reflects a poor understanding of that law. That law does not encourage murders. It protects self-defense killings. “Stand your ground” law enables a law-abiding gun owner to use a gun in his own self-defense—and protects him from being unjustly prosecuted for doing so. If you commit murder, “Stand” laws wont protect you from incarceration.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Chamber of Commerce — Change Agent Since 1912

In the 1930s and 1940s the Chamber of Commerce blanket organizations went for planning in a big way. Control of supply and demand was seen as the answer to “problems” of unequal distribution. Unequal distribution was seen as the main cause of war. The quotes that follow are but a few examples of plans for change proposed by the U. S. and International Chambers of Commerce.

“America thus far has trusted to rugged individualism, but now that rugged individualism is selling below par, America is beginning to think more realistically. Men like John Dewey, Charles A. Beard, and Stuart Chase are spreading the idea of planning. Mr. Swope of the General Electric Company has widely publicized his plan to organize the various industries in national units under government supervision. According to Mr. Swope’s plan, industries employing over fifty men and failing to come into the plan within three years would be compelled to do so.

“The United States Chamber of Commerce has conducted a national referendum on a programme and, as a result, the Board of Directors has voted in favour of a national voluntary economic council. The Chamber would modify the anti-trust laws so as to legalise combinations that could control supply in relation to normal demand. Government tribunals are called for, with power to control production in certain natural resources, such as coal, oil, lumber, and copper. The plan also includes private and voluntary unemployment insurance. The plan of the Chamber of Commerce is interesting, as showing the growing recognition of the need for planning. Excepting the Russian system, the ‘New Deal’ is the world’s largest effort at planning.”[1]

In 1933 the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was a leading promoter toward restoring diplomatic relations with Russia:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Cook Stoves and Climate Change

The United States was in the platinum donor category with $5 million dollars, the Department of Energy, EPA, the Department of State were in the gold donor category with $1-5 million each, along with socialist European nations such as economically troubled Spain and Ireland, the World Bank, and many UN affiliates.

The Department of Energy awarded “Clean Biomass Cookstove Technologies” grants of $100,000 and $750,000 at a time when our country could ill-afford it, unemployment was at an all time high, taxpayers were unhappy, and the administration was demanding that we reduce our consumption of energy.

According to Washington Post, the U.S. has pledged $105 million in the last two years toward the project and Hollywood provided a spokesperson, Julia Roberts. Replacing cook stoves with “clean cook stoves” with chimneys would help 100 million households by 2020.

The “science” provided under the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves consisted of two articles, one published in Le Monde by Bertrand d’Armagnac on November 13, 2011, and another published in Bloomberg by Jonathan Alter on November 24, 2011.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Dershowitz Comments on the Zimmerman Case

To begin with, George Zimmerman, accused of 2nd degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, may have been at least partially vindicated by a photograph which shows the back of Zimmerman’s head badly injured and bleeding.


Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School stated upon release of the arrest affidavit that it was “so thin that it won’t make it past a judge on a second degree murder charge … everything in the affidavit is completely consistent with a defense of self-defense.”

After the release of the photo, however, Dershowitz went much further, telling Breitbart News that if the prosecutors did have the photo and didn’t mention it in the affidavit, that would constitute a “grave ethical violation,” since affidavits are supposed to contain “all relevant information.”

Dershowitz continued, “An affidavit that willfully misstates undisputed evidence known to the prosecution is not only unethical but borders on perjury because an affidavit swears to tell not only the truth, but the whole truth, and suppressing an important part of the whole truth is a lie.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Gunman Who ‘Stalked Couples at Motels and Forced Them to Have Sex’ Is Caught… After Showing Up at Court Over Traffic Violation

A man who police believe has been following couples into several New Jersey hotels, forcing them to have sex with one another before he sexually assaulting the women has finally been caught.

Rasheed Powell, 36, has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault.

Police believe Powell targeted at least six couples that were checking into hotels along Routes 1&9 and were able to catch him when he arrived at court for a traffic violation.

‘Powell is clearly a sexual predator who acted quickly and viciously,’ Union County First Assistant Prosecutor Albert Cernadas Jr said to the Star-Ledger.

Powell would allegedly target couples as they walked toward their rooms.

When they entered the room, he would force his way inside and, at gunpoint, order the man and woman to perform sexual acts on one another as he watched, police said.

He would then lock the man in the bathroom so he could sexually assault the woman, authorities claim.

Powell stalked the Swan and Benedict motels in Linden, NJ, and the Royal Motel in Elizabeth, NJ, beginning his attacks on weekend nights in early March and continuing until last weekend, police said…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Muslim Students Celebrate Culture at Tate [Plaza]

The Muslim Culture Fest brought students together Thursday in the Tate Plaza. The all-day event was hosted by the Muslim Student Association, and aimed to educate students about the religion and its diverse culture. “A lot of times people will stop by and say they’ve learned things they never knew, so being a part of that is really great,” said Umarah Ali, a junior from Augusta and president of MSA.

The first culture fest since 2010, this year was different in that many more countries, including China and Italy, were represented in the informational posters and food. “This year we really want to broaden the culture and show that the religion goes beyond just a few countries,” Ali said. “People don’t realize they come from all over the world.” MSA also wants the event to show students a different part of Islam.”It spreads the message of Islam, the real one that the media doesn’t portray — the peaceful side,” said Rafah Zaigham, a junior from Athens.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Obama’s Counterterrorism Chief Praises NYPD Operation That Targeted N.J. Mosques

President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser praised the New York Police Department’s work on Friday, saying the agency has struck an appropriate balance between keeping people safe and protecting their rights. “It’s not a trade-off between our security and our freedoms and our rights as citizens,” John Brennan said in an appearance at NYPD headquarters. “I believe that the balance that we strike has been an appropriate one. We want to make sure that we’re able to optimize our security at the same time we optimize those freedoms that we hold and cherish so deeply.”

The comments from the top counterterrorism official in the White House following months of debate over an NYPD domestic intelligence operation that placed Muslim businesses, student groups and mosques, including one in Paterson and several in Newark, under surveillance. The Associated Press revealed the details of the program in a series of articles that won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting earlier this week.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Prostitutes Involved in Secret Service Sex Scandal ‘May Have Been Underage’ As Senator Demands Investigation Into Involvement of Obama’s White House Staff

The prostitutes involved in the Secret Service scandal that cost six agents their jobs may have been underage, according to a new report.

A Colombian government official told a newspaper group that investigators from the Colombian attorney general’s office have questioned employees of the hotel in question, and the taxi driver who drove home the woman who triggered the scandal, to find out more.

The U.S. agents and military personnel involved could face criminal charges if is proven that they had sex with girls under the age of 18.

When Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee, was asked if any of the men had done so, he said neither he nor Mr Sullivan could be certain.

‘In the case of the 11 agents, the primary determination is you can’t determine to charge or not charge somebody until you know whether a crime is committed,’ he said, according to The Daily Beast.

‘Under U.S. law, if any of these women are under 18—I can tell you we do not know and Director Sullivan does not have actual contact/picture matched up to verify that as far as I know. When he does, I would expect a call, because that would be a relief to many of us to not have on top of everything else.’

Issa stressed that it was a crime to sleep with minors abroad — although there is no suggestion that any of the men who have been named did.

‘U.S. laws passed in 2003 and 2006 were designed to prevent sex vacations causing harm to underage women,’ the Republican Representative added. ‘We have to respect some things, but going internationally anywhere to have sex acts underage is prohibited under U.S. law.’

It comes as a senior Republican, Senator Charles Grassley, urged the investigation to extend to presidential staff who were preparing for Barack Obama’s visit.

Also on Friday, Mr Obama received a personal briefing on the state of the investigation from Mark Sullivan, director of the Secret Service.

Mr Grassley urged investigators to check hotel records for White House advance staff and communications personnel who were in Cartagena for the Summit of the Americas.

In a letter to Mr Sullivan and the inspector general at the Homeland Security Department, Mr Grassley asked whether hotel records for the White House staffers had been pulled as part of the investigations.

He wrote: ‘Have records for overnight guests for those entities been pulled as part of the investigation? If not, why not?’

Additionally Mr Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked whether rooms were shared by Secret Service, the communications agency and the presidential advance staff.

After three agents resigned on Friday, the number of men forced out by the scandal rose to six.

Five more are suspended during the investigation, while one man has been cleared of serious misconduct but could still face disciplinary action.

Mr Sullivan visited the White House late on Friday to brief Mr Obama in the Oval Office.

Meanwhile, the lawyer of the two ousted Secret Service supervisors David Chaney and Greg Stokes said that President Barack Obama’s safety was never at risk and criticized leaks of internal government investigations in the case, signaling their strategy for an upcoming legal defense.

Lawrence Berger said he could not comment on the woman’s claims about being paid for sex, but added: ‘I don’t think anything she has said is material to any of the issues I am pressing with my clients.

‘Nothing that has been reported in the press in any way negatively or adversely impacted the mission of that agency or the safety of the president of the United States.’

The scandal came to light when a 24-year-old high-end escort fought with an agent who slept with her at a Colombian hotel but then refused to hand over the $800 they had agreed upon…

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

South Florida’s Muslim Bashing

by Shabbir Motorwala

Last year U.S. Rep. Peter King of New York had a congressional hearing on “Radical Muslims in America.” One of the issues debated most during that hearing was assimilation of Muslim youth in American society. What is assimilation, exactly? How is assimilation defined? One positive that emerged from the hearing was that Minnesota law enforcement officials praised the Muslim community’s outreach as well as cooperation with law enforcement. Locally, U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer and John Gillies of the FBI praised the outreach by local Muslim organizations going so far as to specifically mention that the outreach by the Coalition of South Florida Muslim Organizations (COSMOS) should be a model for the entire country.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

What is Earth Day?: Earth Day and Agenda 21

Officially, Earth Day, correctly termed “International Mother Earth Day” was established in 2009 by the UN’s General Assembly under Resolution A/RES/63/278 and the “International Mother Earth Day promotes a view of the Earth as the entity that sustains all living things found in nature. Inclusiveness is at the heart of International Mother Earth Day; fostering shared responsibilities to rebuild our troubled relationship with nature is a cause that is uniting people around the world.” (Wikipedia)

The true origins of Earth Day date much further back in history, perhaps to the flower children generation of the 1960s. At the 1969 counterculture music festival at Woodstock, near Bethel, NY, some 500,000 city dwellers congregated for a three-day event. It was a giant love-in of music and “nature.”


Now, the UN has found a new goal in Agenda 21 with its symbolic Mother Earth Day (MED), set for April 22nd. While nature slowly re-awakens from its winter slumber, the MED will mostly be celebrated by the flower children left over from the sixties and by the new socialistic-inclined cadre of Agenda 21 proponents. Agenda 21 intends to de-carbonize and to de-industrialize the world to conditions prevailing in the 1800’s, preferably under an UN mandate of world governance. The numerous Agenda 21 goals include the elimination of individuals’ right to property.

April 22nd also happens to be Vladimir Lenin’s birthday — perhaps not coincidentally — as noted by Alan Caruba in a recent post. Comrade’s Lenin promise of “Peace, Bread, and Land” was the initial stage of the collectivization of agriculture as later finalized by Josef Stalin. A more recent example of the collectivization of agriculture was under Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

France: Bayrou: We Need a Technical Government Like Monti

(AGI) Rome — Francois Bayrou said the road to a new government in France is the one drawn out by Mario Monti in Italy. The centrist presidential candidate explained to MoDem: “In France we could have a selected government like yours and for me it is a very interesting experience because it is a technical government of national unity.” “In Italy,” he added, “the three big forces have said ‘we must work together to get out of this situation’ and have put their trust in Monti who must take the necessary decisions. But it is a government that has political support. There is political agreement, even if implicitly. In France, we might decide something similar during the elections.

There is a dangerous bipolarisation that reinforces the weight of the extremists. The right is put under pressure by the extreme right and the left by the far left. The only political force that resists the extremists is the one that I represent before the French people. Neither the left nor the right can get us out of this by themselves.” .

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

French Muslims ‘Likely to Vote for Far Left’

Al Jazeera speaks to M’hammed Henniche about the reaction of France’s Muslims to politicians’ preoccupation with Islam.

Le Raincy, France — Throughout the duration of the campaign for France’s presidency, one issue has come up over and over again.

Islam, and whether it has a place in French society, has been a favourite issue of the two right wing candidates, the National Front’s Marine Le Pen and Nicolas Sarkozyof the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). Al Jazeera’s Yasmine Ryan spoke with M’hammed Henniche, head of the Union of Muslim Associations of Seine-Saint-Denis (UAM 93) [Fr], about how all the negative attention had affected Muslim voters in the run up to the first round of voting — to be held on Sunday, April 22.

Yasmine Ryan: Why do you think there has been so much focus on Muslims during the campaign, even before the shootings in Toulouse carried out by Mohamed Merah?

M’hammed Henniche: The problem is that for nearly two years, we [French Muslims] have really been at the centre of the French political conversation. The headlines in all the newspapers for the past two years have been “Muslims, Muslims, Muslims”. It’s difficult to understand why this is the case in France, when there hadn’t been any attacks, there hasn’t been any “French September 11”. The constant television debates on the full veil [the burka or chador] lasted a year. Then they passed the law, and we said: “Fine, even if we do not agree with it, let’s just move on.” Then they said we should not build mosques with minarets, and we said: “That’s fine, we will build mosques without minarets.” Then they continued, saying Muslims were praying in the streets, as if we even want to pray in the streets. That created lots of problems and they passed a law banning praying in the streets.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Germany and Islam: Koran Study

Some Germans worry about the distribution of free Korans

THE Gideons in Germany give away 2,000 Bibles a day and nobody complains. The Koran is another matter. A group called the True Religion has handed out 300,000 copies, many from “information stands” in shopping areas. All told, it wants to give away 25m in German-speaking Europe. Intelligence agencies are alarmed; politicians have condemned the plan. The printing firm has even cancelled its contract. “The public pressure was too great,” it explained.

The problem, critics say, is not the gift but the giver. The True Religion espouses Salafism, a fundamentalist branch of Islam. Its leader is Ibrahim Abu Nagie, a Palestinian-born, Cologne-based preacher with intolerant views and a knack for getting others to embrace them. The Cologne prosecutor wanted to try him for inciting violence against Christians and Jews but could prove nothing worse than predictions that they would end in hell. The case was dropped in January.


The True Religion is seen as a propaganda-based “political” Salafist group, not a violent “jihadist” one. But even the political variant can inspire violence. Arid Uka, who murdered two American soldiers last year, had internet contacts to groups similar to Mr Abu Nagie’s. When the Koran row broke, supporters of its distribution posted a video cursing critical journalists as “apes and pigs”. Fundamentalists are delighted by the shift in attention away from their ideas to their rights. “Where is religious freedom? Where is your democracy?” demands a spokesman in a video posted on the True Religion website. Pro-NRW, an anti-Islam party that is standing in the state election taking place on May 13th, wants to display caricatures of Islam near mosques. That could win the Salafists even more recruits than handing out any number of free Korans.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Italian Beer Getting Just Desserts at Home and Abroad

Big brands winning fans overseas, craft-beer scene thriving

(ANSA) — Rome, April 18 — Italians are not famed for being a nation of great beer makers or drinkers. But Italy’s brewers have developed a proud tradition of producing fine beers over the last 200 years which is finally getting its just desserts at home and abroad. If you had asked people what their favourite Italian drink was a few years ago, for example, the most popular tipples would have been a drop of Chianti or Barolo, or perhaps a tot of a spirit like grappa or amaretto. Nowadays, the answer is increasingly likely to be an ice-cold glass of a beer such as Peroni, Nastro Azzurro or Moretti. On the home front, Italy’s rich variety of crisp, refreshing pale lagers is even starting to rival wine as the nation’s most popular accompaniment when Italians dine out.

Indeed, beer is neck-and-neck with wine as the favourite choice to go with dinner at weekends, according to Italian beer-producers’ association Assobirra. And around two-thirds of that beer is made in Italy, says Assobirra, whose members produce 98% of the nation’s brews. The international success story is impressive too.

Spearheaded by Peroni, which was taken over by London-based brewing giant SABMiller in 2005, Italian beer exports have doubled over the last five years. “For over a century our light lager with a relatively low alcoholic content has accompanied the Italians and this type of beer continues to be the most popular with them,” said Assobirra Director Filippo Terzaghi. “But we are pleased to see that Italian beer is increasingly becoming synonymous with lager abroad too. “Our companies export over 1.7 million hectolitres a year, twice as much as five years ago, and it’s being appreciated more and more in nations with great beer traditions — Great Britain, France and the Netherlands in Europe and countries like the United States, Australia and South Africa further afield. “We hope this trend can continue”. Foreigners are probably most familiar with brands such as Peroni and Nastro Azzurro, which belong to the same group, and Moretti with its distinctive label featuring a mustachioed Alpine gent in a hat. They are all smooth, well-balanced drinks, but there are plenty of other fine ones to enjoy. Menabrea, produced at the northern town of Biella in Piedmont, is one of the best with its distinctive, slightly sour aftertaste that has helped win it a host of international prizes. Another top northern beer is Forst Premium, a zestful brew that its producers from the mostly German-speaking South Tyrol near Austria promise “offers a sense of freshness and joie de vivre”. Other great lagers include Trieste’s Theresianer Premium, Sardinian brew Ichnusa and Friuli-Venezia Giulia’s Castello. All the aforementioned beers are pale lagers, but Italy also produces a big range of dark ‘red’ lagers that have a stronger, more bitter flavor and higher alcoholic content.

Examples include Moretti’s La Rossa, which has a caramelised flavour and the aroma of roasted malt, and Forst’s Sixtus. Italy has a thriving microbrewery scene for those seeking something different too. Good Italian craft beers include Almond 22, whose flavor is enriched by honey and spices, the Baladin company’s Isaac and its punch-packing Elixir, and the herb-hinted Admiral, one of the highlights of the range served by the 32 Via dei Birra brewery. Views of beer are changing so much that some Italian chefs are encouraging Italians to drink it with more dishes than its traditional food partner here — pizza. “I often recommend a lager for cold, more delicate dishes, especially when it’s hot,” said Sandra Salerno, a personal chef and foodblogger. “It can stand up to being paired with salami, Parmesan and other rich cheeses. “I tell the skeptics to try it with artichokes, squid and shrimp and then see what they think”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Venetian ‘Gutenberg’ Hands Down Tradition

Gianni Basso fashions handmade prints using methods of past

(ANSA) — Venice, April 17 — Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei are appearing together, albeit not in a new Hollywood film. The movie stars are just two of the elite clients whose business cards adorn the Venice shop window of master printer Gianni Basso, the man who fashions handmade prints using the methods and instruments of the Gutenberg era. “I simply don’t like modern electric printers,” he tells ANSA. “They have no soul. To make prints by hands is poetry”.

Perhaps such is the quality that attracted clients like the late Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky and contemporary author Danielle Steele. Basso’s presses and plates are pre-industrial, recalling the 16th century when Aldus Manutius copied numerous works from the Greek and Latin secular canon to type for the first time in history, turning Venice into one of Europe’s great renaissance printing capitals. When he was just 15, Basso studied his craft on the Venetian island of San Lazzaro, known for its printing heritage and the ancient library where Lord Byron studied Armenian in 1816. Thirty years ago, Basso recuperated several presses from the island and elsewhere in Venice and brought them to their current location in the historic Calle del Fumo, or “Alley of Smoke,” a reference to a string of workshops that still line the walkway. In today’s era of mass information, Basso says his clients are interested in the personal, handmade touch he instills in his craft work, something he says is lacking in xerox copies and digital prints. Despite a global recession, and the ever-increasing trend to mechanize and reduce cost, Basso says business is booming. “I don’t even advertise. The quality of my work is what keeps people coming,” he says as he pulls down a series of 35 incised plates from the first printed edition of Pinocchio. The exquisite renderings of Geppetto and Jiminy Cricket, dating to 1880, catch the eye of four visitors who promptly insist on purchasing a series of Pinocchio prints. Basso’s antique workshop on the north side of Venice is charmingly quaint at 30 square meters, barely large enough for his six printers, himself, and his 25-year-old son Stefano, who until two years ago was studying to become a marine biologist. “I liked coming into my father’s shop more than the sea,” he says as he organizes the inverse typeset on his workbench.

“Printing seems to be in my blood,” he adds with a grin. “The poetry continues”. Gianni and Stefano Basso are located at 5306 Calle del Fumo, Venice 30121, Italy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Ducati to be Sold to Audi, Owners Confirm

Iconic motorcycle company reported to go for 860 million euros

(ANSA) — Rome, April 18 — The investment fund that controls Ducati confirmed Wednesday that it has reached a deal to sell the Italian motorcycle company to German automobile-maker Audi. Media reports said that Audi and its parent company Volkswagen had agreed to pay 860 million euros to buy the Bologna-based brand from the outgoing owners Investindustrial. “Ducati is known worldwide as a premium brand among motorcycle manufacturers and has a long tradition of building sporty motorcycle,” Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler said in a statement.

“It has great expertise in high-performance engines and lightweight construction, and is one of the world’s most profitable motorcycle manufacturers. That makes Ducati an excellent fit for Audi”.

The motorcycle company was founded by Adriano and Marcello Ducati in Bologna in 1926. It initially built parts for radios and did not move into the two-wheeler market until 1949.

Ducati, who are sometimes seen at motorcycling’s equivalent of Ferrari, employs 1,100 people and sold some 42,000 motorcycles in 2011, generating revenue of around 480 million euros.

Its elite range of machines includes cruisers, supermotos, adventure bikes, naked bikes and superbikes.

The deal makes Ducati Audi’s third Italian operation after it acquired legendary sports carmaker Lamborghini and design enterprise ItalDesign.

Ducati’s sexy image is boosted by its race division, which competes in the MotoGP championship and Superbike World Championship. The team has won the Superbike manufacturers’ championship 17 times and the pilots’ title 14 times.

Ducati won the 2007 MotoGP world title with Australian Casey Stoner but they are struggling in the class at the moment despite the arrival of Italy’s nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi last season.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: More Italian Readers Gather News From Internet

Daily papers suffering losses in earnings and advertising

(ANSA) — Rome, April 18 — Online news readership shot up 50% between 2009-2011, said a report by the Italian newspaper publishers association FIEG on Wednesday.

In 2011, six million readers preferred to glean their news from papers’ Web editions as compared to four million in 2009.

Daily newspapers still garner 22 million readers, while weekly magazines tally in at 33 million, but dailies suffered a 2.2% drop in earnings and 5.7% drop in advertising.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: N. League’s Bossi Did Not Know of Maroni Dossier

(AGI) Alessandria — Northern League leader Umberto Bossi, when asked if he know of the dossier on Moroni, answered “no”.

Bossi, having just arrived in Alessandria for an electoral appointment added, “If they had asked me before they would have finished sooner, because I knew that Maroni had the boat. I knew where he had it too, he had it in Sicily.” And to those who asked him if he thought there were dossiers on other persons Bossi responded, “I don’t think so. I hope not. I hope the film comes to an end. This is a bad movie, but it is a movie.” “I don’t know,” was Bossi’s answer this evening to the question of whether he would run again for the leadership of the Northern League. “The Federal Council has expelled him. I don’t want to comment.” .

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

Italy: Prosecutors Seize 350, 000 Euro From Northern League Notary

(AGI) Milan — Prosecutors investigating electoral funds have reportedly seized 350,000 euro from Northern League’s the notary in Rovigo. According to reports, the amount seized is part of a 1.2 million euro investment made in Cyprus by the consultant Paolo Scala, also under investigation with the party’s former treasurer Francesco Belsito and entrepreneur Stefano Bonnet. Of that sum, only 850,000 euro were allegedly brought back to Italy. In the meantie, this afternoon prosecutor Paolo Filippini questioned Northern League representative Pierluigi Stiffoni.

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

Something Smells Funny? Gorgonzola Popularity Spawns Bogus-Zola

As Gorgonzola exports begin to boom, formaggio fraudsters try to get a cut of the action with fake versions of the cheese. One trick is to give the imitation variety a name that has a familiar ring.

All over Europe, the whiff of Gorgonzola is getting stronger and stronger. Thanks to aggressive advertisement campaigns featuring top chefs, sales of the zesty, blue and green-marbled cheese are rising fast. For instance, sales in Poland have increased 82% over the past year…

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

UK Cab Company Boss Claims Cyclists Deserve to Die

(AGI) London- UK cab firm boss John Griffin claims cyclists deserve to die. The head of Addison Lee, which has a team of 3,500 drivers, made this inflammatory statement less than 2 weeks before the election for London’s mayor, which will be held on May 3. Mr Griffin has it in for cyclists because, according to him, they are irresponsible and feel that they are above the highway code. His words triggered a heated controversy; last year alone, 16 cyclists were killed in London.

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

UK: Langley Green Church Converts to New Mosque

A MUSLIM group has purchased a church — which has now become a mosque.

The building in Langley Drive, Langley Green was used by the Elim Pentecostal Church. It was sold to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, with the church moving services to Ifield. The building’s new residents are already using it for prayers — and an open day is being held, as part of plans to make the mosque as welcoming as possible to the whole of the local community. Ahsan Ahmedi said the association took steps to avoid any ill feeling over the change of use. He said: “One of the conditions we asked was it was put in writing that the church was happy for us to use the building as a mosque. Christianity is the main religion in England and it is very important for us not to hurt other people’s religious feelings.”

Simon Newham, team rector of the Ifield parish, said it was not unusual for churches in Crawley to be multi-faith centres. He said: “St Leonard’s in Langley Green is used as a multi-faith centre and we as a parish are involved in an inter-faith group. “There has been a lot of work between religious groups in Crawley for some time. It allows for various cultures and faiths to live together and work together.

“Because we come into contact with different groups we have developed an understanding of differences and similarities.”

Because the building itself is fairly modern there is very little which needs to be done to change it from a church to a mosque. Some subtle adjustments will be made such as new carpets. The church has been paid for by the 150 members of Crawley’s Ahmadiyya community. The open day will be held on May 2 and invites are being sent to neighbours of the new mosque. There will be an exhibition on the day about Islam and the Ahmadiyya faith, a reformist movement founded in India near the end of the 19th century.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim ‘Cultural Sensitivity’ Runs Amok

by Soeren Kern

The largest university in London plans to impose a ban on the sale of alcohol on campus to accommodate the “cultural sensitivity” of its Muslim students. London Metropolitan University’s Vice Chancellor, Malcolm Gillies, says it would be unwise to “cling” to a “nostalgic” view where the vast majority wants alcohol to be available. Instead, he says that he believes the university should take account of diverging views, namely those of Muslims, who now comprise 20% of the university’s 30,000 students. “Many of our students do come from backgrounds where they actually look on drinking as a negative. We therefore need to rethink how we cater for that 21st-century balance,” Gillies declared in an interview. “What we don’t want is the tyranny of a majority view,” he added.

Gillies’ proposals to re-engineer social life on campus have, not surprisingly, generated a mostly negative response from students, many of whom say a ban on alcohol smacks of politically correct pandering run amok. Muslims, too, are unhappy with Gillies. Far from thanking him for his multicultural activism, Muslims say they are “offended” by his “generalizing about their beliefs.” To be sure, London Metropolitan University is not the first institution in Britain to bend over backwards to avoid “offending” Muslims. In fact, hardly a day goes by in which Britons are not surrendering some aspect of their culture and traditions — not to mention their rights of free speech and free expression — in order to make Britain safe for Islam.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: The ‘Omnishambles’ And the Power of Political Language

by Allan Massie

“Omnishambles”, appropriated from “The Thick of It” by Ed Miliband to describe the Government, is not a bad word, if a bastard one. Not that anyone cares much about that these days, when there are fewer classically educated pedants about. (They used to deplore television — the word, not the thing, though doubtless that too — because it was a hybrid: tele being Greek, vision Latin.) Omnishambles is a hybrid too, and the words “shambles” has come to mean simply a mess or muddle, and has more or less lost its more vivid meaning of a fleshmarket, slaughterhouse, or place of carnage. But omnishambles is OK. It says neatly what most of us think of most governments. The only wonder is that Ed Miliband dares to use it, thus inviting the suggestion that he should look in the mirror.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UKIP Doesn’t Have a Grassroots and Has to Fight to Keep the Loonies Out. Wavering Tories Should be Careful

by Damian Thompson

The United Kingdom Independence Party is so obsessed with race, immigration and Islam that it might as well merge with the BNP. That’s the opinion of a professor at the London School of Economics. No surprise there, you’re probably thinking. The LSE, like the rest of London University, is crawling with Left-wing dons who suck up to radical Muslims. Of course they hate Ukip, which this week edged into third place in the opinion polls. But hang on a moment. The LSE professor I’m quoting actually founded Ukip. Alan Sked is an expert on the 19th-century Habsburg empire; in 1991 he set up a new party, then called the Anti-Federalist League, as a Eurosceptic alternative to the muddled Tories. It fielded candidates in the 1992 general election and as a result may have cost Chris Patten his seat, a historic achievement by any standards. To cut a long story short, Sked fell out with Ukip after the 1997 election, saying that he’d created a Right-wing monster. He’s stuck to that line ever since. The stuff about Ukip merging with the BNP (“which it increasingly resembles”) comes from a letter to The Times in 2010.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Vatican and Breakaway SSPX Seek Common Ground

By Peter Wensierski in Rome

The Vatican may be close to a deal with the breakaway Society of St. Pius X.

For decades, the ultra-conservative Society of St. Pius X has been on the outside of the Catholic Church and looking in. Now, with Pope Benedict XVI intent on healing the schism, the group — known as SSPX — has written a letter that could pave the way for an agreement.

For the pope’s 85th birthday on Monday, his own brother showed up in Rome empty handed. But the brothers of the controversial Catholic splinter group Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) were more generous. They sent a letter — and its contents may be the greatest gift yet to the papacy of Benedict XVI. The pope has long wanted to heal the schism with the SSPX and bring the conservative followers of the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre back into the fold. That hope may now become reality.

The Catholic traditionalist Lefebvre founded the SSPX in 1969 in answer to the reforms pushed through by the Second Vatican Council, also known as Vatican II, earlier that decade. The group has grown to include tens of thousands of followers and hundreds of priests — a “painful wound in the body of the church,” Benedict XVI has said.

Even when SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson made global headlines in 2009 by publicly denying the Holocaust, the pope remained steadfast. Indeed, talks between the Vatican and the SSPX continued a short time later once Williamson, a native of Great Britain, had been marginalized. Now, it looks as though an agreement may be imminent.

Not everyone in the church is likely to be pleased by such a rapprochement. Liberal and left-leaning Catholics have long been opposed to the idea of allowing the SSPX back into the fold, granting them the right to once again consecrate priests and letting them celebrate mass according to the old rites. The Bishops’ Conference of France is likely to protest as well. But the German pope Josef Ratzinger is determined.

Utmost Discretion

The friendly letter from the SSPX to Benedict XVI arrived at the Vatican during Easter. In the Vatican’s Secretariat of State — the source of several documents that were leaked in recent months in the so-called “Vatileaks” scandal — has classified the SSPX letter as secret and the issue is being handled with the utmost discretion. It is only to be made public following the pope’s birthday celebrations.

Sources say that the letter is currently being analyzed. Not everyone within the Secretariat is supportive of Benedict’s desire to reunite with the SSPX. Currently, talks with the St. Pius brothers are focused on several outstanding details as well as the timing of the pending agreement.

Following lengthy negotiations between the Catholic Church and the SSPX regarding a possible reunification, the Vatican had requested a response by Sunday. Specifically, the SSPX was to rethink its strict opposition to the Second Vatican Council — which began 50 years ago this year — as well as “several doctrinal principles and criteria relating to the interpretation of the Catholic doctrine.”

Cardinal William Levada, in his position as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had communicated the ultimatum to SSPX leader Bishop Bernard Fellay during talks at the Vatican and asked him to once again reexamine its positions.

The new letter is significant in that it seeks to tone down the conflict. Points of disagreement are no longer to be seen in terms of who is “more Catholic” than the other. The letter makes clear that conflicting positions on Vatican II is “not decisive” for the future of the Catholic Church. In short, the Society of St. Pius X is no longer demanding that the Vatican II reforms be repealed…

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

We Can’t Reform the European Court of Human Rights, So Let’s End This Nonsense

by Charles Moore

The interminable Abu Qatada affair proves Britain needs to bring home the rule of law.

Yes, there is even a European Convention on the Calculation of Time Limits. And yes, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, acting on poor advice from government lawyers, appears to have misunderstood it. The Convention was drawn up in 1972 by the Council of Europe “to achieve a greater unity between its members, in particular by the adoption of common rules”. It defines the dies a quo and dies ad quem — the start and end of any time-limit. Forty years on, it would seem that the desired unity has still not been achieved, so instead we got the dies irae. Mrs May and her team believed they had pulled off a parliamentary coup on Tuesday — when, she thought, the dies ad quem had passed — by saying she was going to deport Abu Qatada without any more appeals to Strasbourg. Piqued, Strasbourg seems to have hurried to tell Abu Qatada’s lawyers that they did, in fact, have time. His appeal was duly lodged on Wednesday night.

As Mrs May implicitly admitted, the whole thing was a piece of nonsense anyway, since the end of the time-limit would not have meant that all appeals to Strasbourg were automatically ruled out. She was really only looking for good political theatre, and she got it. But on Thursday, it was replayed as farce. All of which makes Westminster-watchers gleeful. What does this say, they ask, about her judgment, about Home Office official competence, dingy legal advisers and an accident-prone Coalition? All such questions are reasonable or, at least, inevitable.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]


Serbia: Roma People’s Position Improves

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, APRIL 20 — The position of the Roma people in Serbia has improved thanks to the Decade of Roma Inclusion, it was said Friday at the opening of a three-day congress of the World Roma Organization — Romanipen.

“The position of the Roma people in Serbia has significantly improved during the Decade of Roma Inclusion, but I am confident that many members of the Roma population have reasons to be dissatisfied,” said Slavica Denic, the state secretary in the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, Public Administration and Local Self-Government.

The members of the Roma population can be dissatisfied bearing in mind that there are still unhygienic settlements in Serbia, that few children go to kindergartens and that quite few Roma people are employed, Denic said at the congress held at the Serbian parliament building. However, Serbia can be proud of the improvement in the field of education. Since 2003 the country got more than 1,000 Roma graduates, she underlined.

Denic qualified the congress as important, since it brought together representatives of 25 countries with the aim to exchange experience and find solutions jointly.

President of the World Roma Organization Jovan Damjanovic said that the Decade of Roma Inclusion “has yielded results” in Serbia.

“We have to get to grips with problems and bring about an intellectual Roma revolution,” Damjanovic said. He underlined that there are 12 to 15 million Roma people in Europe, but that they do not have any status.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

EU Project Offers Training to 1,200 Journalists

‘Media Neighbourhood’ targets 17 neighbouring countries

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, APRIL 17 — The European Commission has officially launched a project aiming to offer world-class training to over 1,200 journalists across 17 EU neighbouring countries and territories over the next three years.

According to the Enpi website (, ‘Media Neighbourhood’ is implemented by BBC Media Action, which is leading a consortium of international media organisations to deliver journalism training and networking activities. “This — Alice Morrison, Team Leader for Media Neighbourhood said — is a broad and ambitious project. We’ll be offering the opportunity for world-class training to a diverse group of journalists and editors across an enormous geographical area. It is a chance to really make a difference by boosting skills, especially in the areas of media independence and online media”.

A particular focus will be given to freedom of expression and its role in countries engaged in the process of democratisation.

The project has a budget of 4.5 million euros and the consortium delivering it is BBC Media Action, IREX Europe, Fondation AFP, L’Orient-Le Jour, CFI, French Televisions Group, LDK and the Media Development Center. The focus countries are: Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, the Russian Federation, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Woman in Surgery Clinic, Dies After Kidney “Stolen”

Aged 47, dies after serious infection

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, APRIL 17 — A woman admitted to a private clinic for the removal of her gall bladder is said to have had a “kidney” stolen and died a few hours later in a hospital in Oran after her condition worsened. The extraordinary story has been reported in the online edition of the newspaper Le Temps d’Algérie. The 47-year old woman had been admitted to the private clinic in the City to have her gall bladder removed. Her condition gradually deteriorated following the operation and it was decided that she would be transferred to the department of nephrology and urology at the hospital in Oran, where she immediately underwent emergency treatment, which proved unsuccessful.

When doctors at the hospital realised that a kidney had been stolen from the woman (or removed without her knowledge, as an inquiry will now be asked to show), a report was sent to the chief prosecutor of Oran, who was told by relatives of the victim, still in shock at the news of the “theft” of the organ, that the woman had gone to the clinic to have her gall bladder removed after a series of routine tests. The inquiry will not shed light on the incident and, above all, show how the woman’s kidney was “stolen”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Jewish Studies Center, Soon Gay Rabbis in Israel

Stir in Jerusalem among orthodox rabbis

(ANSA) — JERUSALEM, APRIL 20 — A well-known institute for Jewish studies (the Schechter Institute in Jerusalem) established yesterday that homosexual and lesbian students will be allowed to follow studies as early as next year. The decision has immediately caused a controversy.

The innovating current of Judaism, with a strong spirit of modernisation, has much influence in the U.S. but not so much in Israel.

And yet the decision — supported by 17 votes and just one abstention — has found a large group of followers in Jerusalem, where the orthodox establishment continues to see homosexuality as a “repulsive” phenomenon that has to be fought. The orthodox current also opposes the appointment of female rabbis.

Newspaper Haaretz, which carries this story on its front page, specifies that the innovators in Israel agree with the choices that were made years ago by the U.S. branch of Judaism. The two currents, the newspaper continues, were about to break apart, but now the rift seems to be healed. “This is an important development for ‘halacha’ (orthodoxy)” rabbi Mauricio Belter, president of the Council of innovating rabbis in Israel, told the newspaper. “We have all been created in the image of the Lord, and therefore we are all equal.” The religious press expects that these new developments will widen the gap in Israel between Jews that support modernisation (most of them from the U.S. and South America)and the more orthodox rabbinate in Jerusalem.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Bahrain Grand Prix: Protesters Block Roads as Teargas Fired

Anti-government protesters in Bahrain flooded a main highway in a march stretching for miles and security forces fired tear gas in breakaway clashes as the country’s leaders struggle to contain opposition anger ahead of the Grand Prix.

The government allowed the massive Friday demonstration in an apparent bid to avoid the hit-and-run street battles that are the hallmark of the Gulf nation’s 14-month uprising — and an embarrassing spectacle for Bahrain’s Western-backed rulers as F1 teams prepare for Sunday’s race. But violence flared as small groups in the march peeled away from the route to challenge riot police, who answered with volleys of tear gas and stun grenades. Some protesters sought refuge in a shopping mall and nearby shops about 12 miles north of the Formula One track, where practice runs took place and Bahrain’s crown prince vowed the country’s premier international event would go ahead. Last year, a wave of anti-government protests by the island’s Shiite majority and a crackdown by the Sunni rulers forced organisers to cancel the 2011 Bahrain GP.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Islam’s Sacred Geography

by Talmiz Ahmad

A lavishly illustrated coffee table book combines high standards of scholarship to produce the most valuable compendium on the Hajj

Every principal world religion has pilgrimage as a significant tenet. This pilgrimage is central to the “sacred geography” of the faith and provides an opportunity to the believer to traverse this physical space and seek to interact directly with the Divine. Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, attracts a few million Muslims every year from all over the world to the town of Mecca, about 70 kilometres from the port city of Jeddah on the Red Sea.

Hajj can be approached in terms of its complex history; the belief system that is its motive force; the journeys that have been undertaken by pilgrims over the last 1,500 years from different parts of the world, and the arrangements made for the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who congregate at the same time in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. All these aspects are presented in the book in some detail.

The book begins with an excellent introduction by the distinguished scholar of religion and Islam, Karen Armstrong. She looks at the place of pilgrimage in different religious traditions and points out that all pilgrimages are made up of arcane rituals that have a unique symbolic value for the believer even as they seem “hopelessly archaic” to the outsider. A study of the Hajj, she concludes, will enable us not only to learn about Islam but also “to explore untravelled regions within ourselves”.



Editor: Venetia Porter

Publisher: Lustre (Roli Books)

Pages: 288

Price: Rs 2,975

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Kuwait: Blasphemer Injured, MPs Demand Probe — Assailant Charged With Attempted Murder

KUWAIT: A prisoner who attacked his cell mate who is jailed for blasphemy now faces attempted murder charges after being referred to the Public Prosecution Department for further actionto be taken, according to news reports received yesterday .

Hamad Al-Naqqi, who has been charges with posting offensive remarks against Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) on Twitter suffered minor injuries on Thursday afternoon after he was attacked with a sharp object. According to a security source, a dispute arose between Al-Naqqi and his attacker when the former refused to join inmates for Al-Asr (afternoon) prayers. The attacker reportedly stabbed him three times before other inmates and security officers stepped in to break up the fight. Al-Naqqi was treated for minor wounds which did not require hospitalization. Meanwhile, the attacker, who was heard repeating the word ‘infidel,’ according to the source, was placed in solitary confinement.

The suspect confirmed the attack during interrogation, saying that he was provoked by the ‘insults’ Al-Naqqi spewed against him during their dispute. He remains in custody pending further action,reported Al-Jarida.

The Ministry of Interior confirmed the incident in a statement released late Thursday. They noted that ‘necessary legal measures’ were taken against the attacker. In the meantime, Al-Naqqi’s attorney Khalid Al-Shatti told Al-Qabas that authorities from the Central Jail refused to meet his client following the attack.

According to a security source, the attacker’s name was present in the list among those benefiting from Amiri amnesty. According to its terms, his original seven year jail term was commuted to three and a half years, adding that the recent incident will surely cost him the amnesty, reported Al-Qabas.

Meanwhile, three Shiite MPs commented on the incident by holding the ministry responsible for the inmate’s safety, and demanded that a complete investigation be held into the case. “The Ministry of Interior should held accountable for the provocation and attempted murder of Hamad Al-Naqqi,” said MP Adnan Al-Mutawa’a . He insisted the fight was not spontaneous. Meanwhile, MP Saleh Ashour demanded that efforts be made to maintain Al-Naqqi’s safety as well as an investigate the reasons behind “why he was placed in the same cell as high risk prisoners,”

In the meantime, MP Abdulhameed Dashty claimed to be in possession of evidence to prove that senior ministry official Khalid Al-Dayeen was responsible issuing orders to transfer Al-Naqqi to the Central Jail “using his connections with extremist MPs,” reported Al-Watan.

           — Hat tip: R [Return to headlines]

Kuwait: Islamists Propose Morality Police

KUWAIT: Six Islamist MPs yesterday submitted a draft law calling for the establishment of a special committee that exclusively deals with public morality crimes. It also calls for a special police force to handle such crimes.

The bill, submitted by MPs Mohammad Hayef, Jamaan Al-Harbash, Osama Al-Munawer, Mohammad Al-Hatlani and Bader Al-Dahoom, proposes setting up a ‘Morality Crime Public Prosecution Department’ under the jurisdiction of an Attorney General to deal with felonies and misdemeanors related to committing public immorality.

It also stipulates the establishment of a special Ministry of Interior (MoI) police department to take legal measures to prevent crimes of public immorality. The department will be headed by a lieutenant-general, who will assisted by a number of officers and policemen, according to the draft law. The bill will be reviewed by National Assembly committees before being put up for voting.

In the explanatory note, the lawmakers said the bill aims at unifying authorities investigating all public morality crimes. Presently, serious morality crimes and felonies are investigated by the public prosecution department while minor crimes are investigated by the Ministry of Interior investigation department. Unifying investigations into these crimes under the public prosecution department is in line with modern legislation, which authorize the public prosecution department to investigate all types of violations.

The lawmakers said the draft law also aims at creating a special department in the MoI to be fully devoted to combating public morality crimes. The bill does not define public morality crimes or name them.

MP Harbash, head of the National Assembly educational committee, said yesterday it has carried out all necessary amendments to the law calling to establish the Jaber University of Technology. The law for the university was approved by the Assembly about two weeks ago in the first reading, but the second and final vote was postponed until the amendments are carried out. The law stipulates the establishment of the Sheikh Jaber University for Science and Technology to specialize in technology.

Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah said yesterday that all questions about the foreign transfers issue have been answered, and that the parliamentary investigation committee will be provided with all of the necessary documents. Opposition MPs accused former Prime Minister, Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, of transferring millions of dinars of public funds into his private overseas bank accounts.

           — Hat tip: RR [Return to headlines]

Qatar: Soccer Meets Politics at Doha’s Mohammed Abdul Wahhab Mosque

Qatar’s increasing engagement in European soccer and international sport is just one leg in the small Gulf State’s high-risk attempts to position itself as a global player ‘on the right side of history’, James M. Dorsey writes in his analysis on the Gulf State’s growing influence in international sport.

A multi-domed, sand-coloured, architectural marvel, Doha’s newest and biggest mosque, symbolizes both Qatar’s bold storm into the 21st century and the pitfalls that that march entails. It’s not the mosque itself that raises eyebrows but its naming after an 18th century warrior priest, Sheikh Mohammed Abdul Wahhab, the founder of Islam’s most puritan sect. Ironically, the mosque owes its naming to the debate Qatar’s winning of the right to host the 2022 World Cup has sparked. It is a debate that goes to the heart of the energy-rich Gulf state’s identity and the place its ruler, Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, wants to carve out for his tiny city-state.

The World Cup constitutes a centrepiece of a strategy that seeks to reshape the identity of the world’s only state outside of Saudi Arabia that adheres to Wahhabism, one of Islam’s most austere and restrictive interpretations of Islam; position Qatar as a global player capable of punching above its weight; create opportunities to leverage its enormous wealth in a bid to reduce its reliance on the export of one commodity; and enhance its security by establishing mutually beneficial relations with friend and foe and ensuring that it is at the cutting edge of history.

The sports leg of Qatar’s broader, high-risk geo-political, economic and media strategy — involving the creation of a world class airline, Qatar Airways; Al Jazeera as a cutting edge global broadcaster; a far more liberal interpretation of Wahhabism than that of Saudi Arabia and support for many of the popular uprisings sweeping the Middle East and North Africa — is emerging as a driver of imminent restructuring of the region’s soccer landscape as well as of social change.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Narrowing Islam-West Cultural Gap

The two-day seminar, to be organized by the Ministry of Higher Education in collaboration with the King Abdul Aziz University, is another major step in support of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s call to promote interfaith and intercultural dialogues as a means to establish world peace.

The discussions on the first day of the seminar today will focus on Arab and Islamic studies at French and European universities. The topic will cover the extent of Arab and Islamic cultures being taught in the universities and institutes of higher learning. It will also discuss intellectual and historical achievements that led to conflicting viewpoints on understanding Arab and Islamic cultures and the emergence of contemporary concepts that did away with the Orientalist approach to understand the Islamic culture.

Another of the seminar’s major topic of discussion is the role of translation in bringing Islamic and Arab thought to Europe. The topic aims to discuss the role of translation in enabling scientific and intellectual contacts between the West and the Arab Islamic East. The topic will also be discussed from the perspective of exchange of knowledge between civilizations. It will also shed light on the important stages of development of the translation movement down the centuries between the two civilizations on the one hand and the intellectual and scientific motivations that led to vast accomplishments in translation on the other. The session will also explore the role played by translation in bringing about close relations and constructive exchange of ideas between the two civilizations, or, to the contrary, the growth of misunderstanding and the clash between the two civilizations.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]


ENI, ENEL Start Joint Production of Gas in Siberia

First time ever for fuels, electricity groups

(ANSA) — Rome, April 20 — Italian fuels giant Eni and electricity group Enel have started producing natural gas for the first time in their history, at a field in Siberia.

The Samburskoye arctic field, more than 3,000 km from Moscow, is in the autonomous district of Yamals-Nenets, the world’s biggest gas-production area.

Eni and Enel have sizeable stakes in an Italian-Russian consortium.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Bollywood Star Kidnapped and Beheaded by Two Colleagues

(AGI) London — A tragic end for 26-year-old Bollywood star Meenakshi Thapar, who has been kidnapped, killed and beheaded by two actors who wanted to ask her family for 1.5 million rupee (22,000 Euro) ransom. According to the Daily Telegraph, the young woman was convinced by her two colleagues, 36-year-old Amit Jaiswal and his lover Preeti Surin to join them on a trip to Gorakhpur, a small town along the border between India and Nepal. Here the girl was kidnapped and shut in a hotel room. The victm’s mother managed to put together 60,000 rupees, but the sum was considered insufficient by the kidnappers. The two lovers strangled the girl, then beheaded her, and departed leaving the body and the head in two different places of the small town.

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

‘Enforced Disappearances’ Haunt Bangladesh

Over a few horrifying hours one night last December Sabira Islam went from dancing with her husband at a party to frantically searching the streets of Dhaka after he had been abducted. His body was found on the outskirts of the Bangladeshi capital early the next morning — he had been strangled. Nazmul Islam was a local leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and his wife is convinced his death was politically motivated. But she says she has lost her faith in Bangladeshi justice: “On the night when my husband was abducted, I went to the police and pleaded with them to find him. But no-one helped us. Even two months after… we don’t have any clue regarding his murder,” Mrs Islam says.

Nazmul Islam’s murder was not an isolated incident. Human rights groups say it is just one of a growing number of “enforced disappearances and secret killings” in Bangladesh. Almost four months on and the anger over disappearances is intensifying in Bangladesh. The main opposition has called for a countrywide strike on Sunday to protest against the disappearance of a senior leader in Dhaka a few days ago.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

For India’s Central Government, The Enrica Lexie Was in International Waters

A Kerala High Court lawyer confirms that the Indian government has submitted a note to the Supreme Court saying that Kerala state police did not have the authority to stop the oil tanker or arrest the Italian marines. In his response, Kerala’s Chief Minister said, “We took every action after consulting the central government. The incident took place inside our territory. We have all rights to take action.”

Kochi (AsiaNews) — Italian oil tanker Enrica Lexie was not in Indian territorial waters at the time of the incident that claimed the lives of two Indian fishermen, the Indian government said in a note submitted to the Supreme Court of India. Kerala High Court lawyer Vincent Panikulangara confirmed the report to AsiaNews.

In its submission, Indian authorities explained that Kerala police did not have authority over the Italian oil tanker, or jurisdiction to investigate the incident.

In his response, Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy, said, “We took every action after consulting the central government. The incident took place inside our territory. We have all rights to take action.”

For the lawyer, “The whole affair comes down to one factor, namely location, where was the ship was when the fishermen were killed?”

“If the Supreme Court accepts the central government’s argument, the marines will not have to face a trial under our law,” he told AsiaNews. “However, we will know more about it only later.”

In the meantime, Italian authorities and the families of the dead fishermen reached an out-of-court settlement. Italy will pay 10 million rupees for each victim (€ 145,000, US$ 190,000).

“This financial agreement is not the ‘right thing to do,’ but is part of the legal process,” Panikulangara explained. “Only civil cases launched by a victim’s next of kin, like in this case, can be settled out of court.” (GM)

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

Indian Attorney Supports Italy’s Claim in Shooting Case

‘Police lacked authority in international waters’

(ANSA) — New Delhi, April 20 — An Indian state attorney on Friday said police in southern India did not have proper jurisdiction to block an Italian tanker after the shooting deaths of two Indian fishermen, allegedly by two Italian marines on anti-pirate watch aboard the vessel.

“It did not have the authority because the incident occurred in international waters,” said the attorney arguing at the Indian supreme court in New Delhi. The argument supports the position of Italy, which claims it should have jurisdiction for the case, not India, as the incident took place aboard an Italian vessel in international waters.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone have been at the centre of a diplomatic row between the countries since being detained in February after an incident that took place while they were guarding the Enrica Lexie tanker. The pair are being held in a special section of a jail in the city of Thiruvananthapuram.

The Italian government also believes that, regardless of who has jurisdiction, the marines should be exempt from prosecution in India as they were military personnel working on an anti-piracy mission.

Italy has said the marines fired warning shots from the Enrica Lexie after coming under attack from pirates.

It said they followed the proper international procedures for dealing with pirate attacks, which are frequent in the Indian Ocean.

The Indian authorities, on the other hand, said the marines failed to show sufficient “restraint” by opening fire after mistaking the fishermen for pirates.

Indian ballistic experts said earlier this month that the bullets recovered from the bodies of fishermen are compatible with Beretta rifles confiscated from the Enrica Lexie.

Italy has said it would like another ballistics test. photo: Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

India: Hindu Radicals Use the Law to Persecute Christians in Andhra Pradesh

The Indian state does not have any anti-conversion law, but enforces three ordinances that ban non-Hindus from proselytising near Hindu temples. A Pentecostal clergyman could go to jail because of calendars found in his possession. Meanwhile, a court convicts 11 Christians on forced conversion charges that date back to 2007.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — Even without anti-conversion laws, ultranationalist Hindus have a legal tool to persecute Christians, said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), namely the Worship or Prayer (Prohibition) Ordinance of 2007, which empowers the State to prohibit propagation of other religions in particular places of worship or prayer than the religion traditionally practiced there. Recently, a group of activists from the Rashtriya Sawayamsevak Sangh (RSS) used it to demand the arrest of Rev Ahron, a Pentecostal pastor accused of trying to convert Hindus near the Hindu temple in the city of Dharmapuri.

On Monday, the clergyman was visiting the city to meet Kople Easwar, a member of the state’s legislative assembly. As he waited for his friend, a group of Hindu radicals saw him and the pocket calendars he carried.

After attacking him, they forced him to hand over the calendars and dragged him to a police station, where they filed a complaint against him on the basis of Government Order 746, which bans propaganda by other religions near the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams temple and 19 other Hindu temples across the country.

For the GCIC president, these ordinance and orders “violate rights protected by the Indian constitution.” For this reason, the “chief minister of Andhra Pradesh should change them.”

On a related story, a local court convicted 11 Christians from the village of Kyatamballi on the basis of these rules on charges of forced conversions that go back to 2007.

Two of the accused received a 20-month sentence and 5,000-rupees (US$ 100) fine. The other nine were given a 12-month sentence and a 2,000-rupee fine (US$ 45) each. (NC)

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

Indonesia: Latest Attack Damages Mosque in W. Java

A crowd of around 150 people from various Islamic organizations, including local residents, reportedly vandalized on Friday the only mosque left for Ahmadiyah followers in Singaparna, Tasikmalaya, still used to hold their prayers. The attack was reported to have taken place around 10 a.m. Ahmadis Enda Juanda said the situation was tense from around 9 a.m. as the crowd began to assemble and some began wearing white and green robes. “They shouted and yelled, but only at the start, before they eventually started throwing rocks, shattering glass windows, and breaking into the mosque,” Enda told The Jakarta Post by phone. Enda was inside the mosque with fellow Ahmadis Didi, while around 25 others were watching the attack from outside the mosque. He said the crowd burned carpets and praying mats. He fled with Didi when the attackers tried to chase them. “I knew I had to save my life. I’m sure there is nothing wrong with my faith,” said Enda.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Cameroon: Army Deployed Against Poachers

(AGI) Yaounde’ — The Cameroon government deployed the army against the poachers hunting in the Bouba Ndjida National Park.

Some 120 soldiers will be added to the park rangers interdicting the entrance of poacher illegally crossing from bordering Sudan and Chad. The troop deployment is part of a plan — which includes better water and vegetation management — to protect the elephants and avoid their migration toward non protected areas.

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

Gabon/OIC: Information Ministers From OIC Member States Issue a Final Communique at the End of the 9th Icim

LIBREVILLE (Gabon),29 Jumad Al-Awwal/20 April (IINA)-Concluding the 9th session of the Islamic Conference of Information Ministers (ICIM) Friday in Libreville, Gabon, the Ministers or their representatives from 57 member States of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC),issued the following final communiqué:

I. At the kind invitation of the Republic of Gabon, the 9th Session of the Islamic Conference of Information Ministers (ICIM) under the theme “Information Technologies in the Service of Peace and Development” was held in Libreville, Republic of Gabon on 19 and 20 April, 2012 under the distinguished patronage of H. E. Ali Bongo ONDIMBA, President of the Republic of Gabon.


VII) The Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, delivered a statement which he started by expressing profound gratitude to the Republic of Gabon and the wise leadership of His Excellency President Ali Bango Andimbam who continued on the path of his late father El Haji Omar Bango in the fields of development, reform and progress which has made the Republic of Gabon a modern and prosperous country. He lauded the efforts of the Republic of Gabon in making excellent arrangements for the 9th Session of the ICIM. The Secretary General stressed the continuous support of the OIC for the question of Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Shareef which is a top priority for the OIC. He condemned the judaization of the city of Al-Quds, the construction of Israeli settlements and the continued unjust blockade of the Gaza Strip which flout all international laws. The Secretary General touched upon the issue of Islamophobia which fuelled by misconceptions about Islam and Muslims and incites hatred and discrimination against them on religious and ethnic grounds. He emphasized the initiatives of the OIC and the UN in this regard. He underscored the need to come out with innovative ideas for the restructuring the International Islamic News Agency (IINA) and the Islamic Broadcasting Union (IBU) which represent OIC’s media arm. On the other hand, the Secretary General insisted on the need to attach special importance to the African continent from the media, commending the proposals made to the session in this regard. The Secretary General called upon the Member States to support the different other draft resolutions submitted to the session for consideration.


XIV) The Conference noted the utmost importance of the recommendation made by the Kingdom of Morocco on Countering Defamation of Religions and called on OIC Member States to support tabling the proposal at the UN so that a draft recommendation could be adopted calling on all States to respect the image of religions in all the various media and not to cause prejudice to religious symbols and sanctuaries, in demonstration of Islamic solidarity.


XVI) The Conference discussed and lauded the proposal submitted by the OIC General Secretariat upon the request of the Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) on the adoption of the “Draft Course in Training Journalists to Counter Stereotypes about Islam and Muslims in Western Media”. It called upon the Member States to implement the course in coordination with the OIC General Secretariat and ISESCO.


XX) The ICIM praised the efforts exerted by the OIC Secretary General and the close coordination with the authorities concerned in the Republic of Gabon in order to ensure that the conference is held under the best conditions possible, which in turn ensured its anticipated success to further serve joint Islamic media action.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Nigeria: R-E-V-E-A-L-E-D! How Boko Haram Import Arms From Apapa Wharf, Borno

DETERMINED to consolidate and perpetrate their reigns of terror in the northern states of the country against all known security apparatus put in place by the federal government, members of the Islamic fundamentalist sect otherwise known as Boko Haram, now move their arms and ammunition from one state to another in petrol tankers. Crime Guard authoritatively scooped that the group also uses designated mosques as their armory. According to sources, most of the sect’s weapons entered the country through the Apapa Wharf and the northern borders of Chad, Mali and Niger Republic and are evacuated into tankers with the alleged assistance of some members of the authorized security agents at these borders suspected to be members of the group.

Camels to the rescue

The tankers would normally sail through all checkpoints until they get to their destination where the contents are again evacuated into designated mosques. Camels are said to be equally used in this movement of arms and ammunition. Sources said a curious policeman attached to Wuronu Division in Borno state stopped some of these beasts of burden normally loaded with grains coming into the country through these northern borders only to discover l54 ammunition and two AK 47 Assault riffles carefully hidden in babaringa of two members of the sect escorting the camels. Both the animals and the sect members were arrested and have been transferred to the Force headquarters, Abuja for further investigation.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Latin America

Wal-Mart Hushed Up Vast Mexico Bribery Case After Top-Level Struggle

An investigation by The New York Times examines a vast bribery case by Wal-Mart in Mexico and describes a prolonged struggle within the company that pitted its much publicized commitment to the highest moral and ethical standards against its relentless pursuit of growth.

Wal-Mart became aware of the situation in Mexico from a former executive, who explained how the company’s Mexican division had orchestrated a campaign of bribery to win market dominance. But instead of deciding to expand an internal investigation, Wal-Mart’s leaders decided to shut it down.

[Return to headlines]


Greece: Reception Centre to Open in Next Few Days

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 20 — The first Greek reception centre for illegal immigrants will open in the next few days in the area of Amigdalesa in the outskirts of Athens. The Greek minister for citizens’ protection Michalis Chrisochoidis gave the news at the end of a meeting with the Finnish interior minister Paivi Rasanen and Ilkka Laitinen, Executive director of Frontex, the European agency for border control. A memorandum between Greece and Frontex was signed during the meeting which signals the cooperation between both parts and the support from the EU with regards to border control in Greece.

“The first reception centre” said Chrisochoidis “will be able to host about 1,000 people. Their transfer will be initiated at the start of next week.” The centre in Amigdalesa is situated nearby the Greek police officers’ school. “We want to prove there’s no risk involved for anyone and that we all have to support this effort in order to solve the problems which arise from immigration” the minister concluded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: Illegal Immigrant Raped Young Woman Three Years After Judge Ordered Him to be Deported the 33-Year-Old Raped the Woman Twice and Battered Her So Severely She Had 17 Injuries

The Home Office came under fire yesterday when it emerged an illegal immigrant brutally raped a young woman — three years after a judge ordered him to be deported.

Abdikarim Abbas Abdisamad, 33, originally from Somalia, befriended a 24-year-old woman in a nightclub claiming he had just lost his job and was penniless.

The victim took pity on Abdisamad and invited him to her home where he raped her twice and battered her so severely she suffered 17 separate injuries.

He was jailed for ten years after being convicted of rape at Coventry Crown Court on Monday.

But during the hearing, it emerged Abdisamad was already a convicted criminal and a judge had ordered his deportation in 2009 when he was jailed for six months for grievous bodily harm.

But he was allowed to remain in Britain because of his immigration status and civil war in his home country of Somalia.

Now bungling Home Office officials are working to finally deport him.

Alp Mehmet, vice-chairman of Migration Watch, said: ‘Anyone who doesn’t have the right to be here who has been told to get out should leave and leave quickly.

‘In essence I would say that those who have no right to be here and who have been sentenced for horrific crimes should go quickly.

‘Unfortunately we do have to abide by certain agreements. We should do rather more to change the attitudes and rules and regulations that prevent some people being deported.

‘I think there are far too many obstacles put in our way that need to be removed.’

Abdisamad, who gave the court an address in London, was in the country on a working visa.

The Home Office say that to deport a criminal, certain criteria needed to be met and in Abdisamad’s case that had not happened.

But they refused to reveal what part of his immigration status prevented his removal.

A spokesman said: ‘We always seek to remove foreign offenders convicted of a serious crime once they have been punished.

‘That is why we removed more than 4,500 of them last year.

‘Removal can be a challenging process and we have to operate within the law.’

Abdisamad’s rape victim suffered a broken cheekbone and several deep cuts — requiring stitches after the attack.

He was arrested in October after police used items left in his victim’s home in Coventry to trace him to a location in London.

Det Con Sunita Sharma, from Coventry Public Protection Unit, said: ‘To see this man be given such a long custodial sentence is extremely satisfying for both his victim and those of us who have investigated the case and supported her throughout.

‘The young lady thought he was a genuine guy, down on his luck and unaware of what fate lay in store.

‘She has been left afraid to stay in her own home and unable to trust her own judgement or any man again.

‘I hope this sentence offers some relief to the victim, and we admire her courage in speaking up to bring her attacker to justice.’

Abdisamad, who admitted one count of rape but was found not guilty of another, was also put on the sex offender’s register for life.

A count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm was ordered to lie on file.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Irish Government TD (Member of Parliament) Blames ‘Fornication’ For Unwanted Pregnancies

‘Unwanted pregnancies caused by fornication’

A Government TD has blamed “fornication” as the single biggest cause of unwanted pregnancies and questioned what damage the sale of condoms has done to society.

Mayo TD Michelle Mulherin’s comments came as she and coalition colleagues voted down a private members bill to allow abortion in Ireland to save the life of the expectant mother.

The constituency colleague of Enda Kenny shocked observers as she claimed women did not own their own sexuality in the same manner that men did. She raised questions about whether the legalising of homosexuality had been damaging to society.

Ms Mulherin stood over her comments last night and said she had received massive response, both positive and negative.

The proposed bill brought by Independent TDs to offer abortion in limited cases to avert risk to pregnant women’s lives was defeated by 111 to 20 votes.

Ms Mulherin said the legislation could not just be passed because of “sad stories” about women who had procedures. She welcomed the chance to speak on “a very sensitive issue, particularly for women because women do not own their own personal physical integrity and sexuality in the same manner that men do”.

She said she was against abortion in any form.

Ms Mulherin went further and questioned what changes to society had arisen from the legalising of the sale of condoms and their sale from vending machines.

“Moreover, how destructive was that change, if at all, given these were foundations of our religious beliefs in the past? Homosexuality is yet another example of this,” she said.

“Abortion as murder, and therefore sin, which is the religious argument, is no more sinful from a scriptural point of view than all other sins we do not legislate against, such as greed, hate, and fornication; the latter — fornication — being probably the single most likely cause of unwanted pregnancies in this country.”

When contacted last night, the first-time TD stood over her remarks: “I was basically asking has that been destructive or has it not. How has society brought us to this point?”

She said her speech was about opening debate about abortion and sexuality.

“I don’t have a problem about the legalising of homosexuality. I’m putting the questions out there.”

Socialist Party TD Clare Daly had launched the bill this week, saying the State had failed to legislate for the X court case in 1992, where judges ruled abortion was legal where a pregnancy posed a real and substantial risk to a woman’s life.

It was a “ludicrous suggestion” that passing the bill would “open the floodgates” and lead to abortion on demand, Ms Daly claimed.

Coalition partners Labour and Fine Gael voted it down, saying ministers would await the outcome of an expert group. Fianna Fáil also opposed the bill while a number of Independents refrained from voting. Rebel Labour party member and TD Patrick Nulty voted in favour of the bill.

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

Why Hate Speech Should Not be Banned

by Kenan Malik

I gave an interview last year to Peter Molnar for a book on the regulation of hate speech that he was editing with Michael Herz. The book comes out of a series of conferences and seminars organised by New York’s Cardozo School of Law and the Central European University in Budapest. (I presented a paper at a seminar in Budapest). Other contributors include Jeremy Waldron, Ronald Dworkin, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Nadine Strossen and Bhikhu Parekh. The book is finally published this month under the pithy title of The Content and Context of Hate Speech: Rethinking Regulation and Responses . And here is the interview.

Molnar: Would you characterize some speech as ‘hate speech’, and do you think that it is possible to provide a reliable legal definition of ‘hate speech’?

Kenan Malik: I am not sure that ‘hate speech’ is a particularly useful concept. Much is said and written, of course, that is designed to promote hatred. But it makes little sense to lump it all together in a single category, especially when hatred is such a contested concept.

In a sense, hate speech restriction has become a means not of addressing specific issues about intimidation or incitement, but of enforcing general social regulation. This is why if you look at hate speech laws across the world, there is no consistency about what constitutes hate speech. Britain bans abusive, insulting, and threatening speech. Denmark and Canada ban speech that is insulting and degrading. India and Israel ban speech that hurts religious feelings and incites racial and religious hatred. In Holland, it is a criminal offense deliberately to insult a particular group. Australia prohibits speech that offends, insults, humiliates, or intimidates individuals or groups. Germany bans speech that violates the dignity of, or maliciously degrades or defames, a group. And so on. In each case, the law defines hate speech in a different way.

One response might be to say: Let us define hate speech much more tightly. I think, however, that the problem runs much deeper. Hate speech restriction is a means not of tackling bigotry but of rebranding certain, often obnoxious, ideas or arguments as immoral. It is a way of making certain ideas illegitimate without bothering politically to challenge them. And that is dangerous.


PM: What do you think about proposals for restricting defamation of religion?

KM: It is as idiotic to imagine that one could defame religion as it is to imagine that one could defame politics or literature. Or that the Bible or the Qur’an should not be criticized or ridiculed in the same way as one might criticize or ridicule The Communist Manifesto or On the Origin of Species or Dante’s Inferno.

A religion is, in part, a set of beliefs — about the world, its origins, and humanity’s place in it — and a set of values that supposedly derive from those beliefs. Those beliefs and values should be treated no differently to any other sets of beliefs, and values that derive from them. I can be hateful of conservatism or communism. It should be open to me to be equally hateful of Islam and Christianity.

Proponents of religious defamation laws suggest that religion is not just a set of beliefs but an identity, and an exceptionally deeply felt one at that. It is true that religions often form deep-seated identities. But, then, so do many other beliefs. Communists were often wedded to their ideas even unto death. Many racists have an almost visceral attachment to their beliefs. Should I indulge them because their views are so deeply held? And while I do not see my humanism as an identity with a big ‘I’, I would challenge any Christian or Muslim to demonstrate that my beliefs are less deeply held than theirs.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]