- Radical Islamist to Appear at Democrat Convention ‘Interfaith Service’
- “Germany’s Progress”
- Roche Rejects EU Commissioner ‘Speculation’
- Lisbon Vote Result is Not Hampering EU, Report Suggests
- The Karadzic Capture and Serbia’s Return to Power
- Is There a Place for Islam in Mikhael Saakashvili’s Christian Georgia?
- Australian Troops Capture Taliban Leader
- Thousands of Christians Take to the Street Against Application of Islamic Law
- Eight Dead After Wave of Bombings in China’s Xinjiang
- Philippine Troops Attack Muslim Terrorists Occupying Towns
- Religious Freedom Lost on Vietnam
- Australia Ramadan Quiz
- At Lambeth, Cardinal Kasper Calls for Another Newman
Thanks to Aeneas, C. Cantoni, Insubria, JF, Michael Benge, Nilk, no2liberals, Rolf Krake, TB, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Details are below the fold.
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Radical Islamist to Appear at Democrat Convention ‘Interfaith Service’
For the first time at a Democratic National Convention, a public interfaith service of Christians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists will help kick off the event at 2 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Wells Fargo Theater inside the Colorado Convention Center.
Included in the service: Bishop Charles Blake, presiding prelate of the Church of God in Christ, Inc., and pastor of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ; Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America; social activity Sister Helen Prejean and Rabbi Tzvi Weinreb, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union.
At a CNN-sponsored “town hall” forum in October 2001, Mattson — with a straight face — claimed that the radical, Saudi-sponsored form of Islam known as Wahhabism was akin to the Protestant movement in Christianity. Wahhabism “really was analogous to the European protestant reformation,” she explained.
— Hat tip: no2liberals
Italy’s Top Cardinal Slams Anti-Islam MP
ROME — Italy’s top Cardinal has denounced a far-right lawmaker for making anti-Islam statements in a church planned to host interfaith prayers in the northern city of Genoa.
“(I express) total disapproval (of Italian and Euro MP Mario Borghezio’s vow to) defend Christianity against profanation by Islam,” Angelo Bagnasco, the Bishop of Genoa and President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, told Italian daily Corriere della Sera on Saturday, August 9, reported Agence France Presse (AFP).
During a rally on Friday to protest plans by the city council to hold interfaith prayers in the church, a former hospital of the Knights of Malta in the 13th century, Borghezio burst into the church, accompanied by dozens of people waving the Northern League’s flag.
The far-right MP then swore to “continue the fight of the Knights of the Order of Malta to defend Christianity.”
Bishop Bagnasco said that MP has violated the sanctity of the church.
“(The church is) solely a place for prayer and worship.”
— Hat tip: TB
“Second and third generation Muslim immigrants have a different approach to Western society than the previous one. They perceive themselves as an integral part of it”. PD Dr. Dietrich Reetz — from the Zentrum Moderner Orient ZMO in Berlin, coordinator for the project entitled “ Muslims in Europe and Their Societies of Origin in Asia and Africa”, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the program “The social sciences in the social dialogue”. The programme studies the current relationship between European societies and their diverse Muslim communities, groups and organizations as well as the social-religious traditions introduced by the new German citizens of Muslim faith.
— Hat tip: Insubria
Roche Rejects EU Commissioner ‘Speculation’
The Government has rejected press reports that Ireland would have to share an EU Commissioner with Britain under a French plan as “speculation”.
Minister for European Affairs Dick Roche said no such proposal had been made. “The speculation that the position regarding the new Commission composition is under discussion is just that — speculation,” he said.
The minister noted a statement from the French Foreign Ministry that European media reports about the future composition of the Commission were “without foundation”.
Mr Roche said the Nice Treaty provided for a Commission of fewer than the number of Member States and a decision would have to be made on that matter by unanimity.
“What this does illustrate is the very difficult position that will apply when it comes to appointing the EU Commission that takes office from 2009.
“The reality is that under the Nice Treaty, under which we are operating at the moment, the Commission must be reduced to less than 27 when it takes office late next year,” said Mr Roche, adding that the method for doing so has yet to be determined.
He accused No campaigners in the Lisbon Treaty referendum debate of having “misled the Irish people” when they claimed rejection of the treaty would protect Ireland’s Commissioner.
— Hat tip: TB
Lisbon Vote Result is Not Hampering EU, Report Suggests
BELGIUM: THE DEMISE of the Lisbon Treaty would not be a catastrophe as Europe is working fairly well under the existing EU treaties, a report published yesterday suggests.
But Europeans would be better off with the treaty because it reforms how the union manages its justice and foreign policy, according to the paper from London-based think tank, the Centre for European Reform.
The paper says the EU is continuing the process of European integration and achieving results by building intergovernmental bodies at EU level such as Eurojust, the European Defence Agency, and the intelligence-gathering body, the Situation Centre.
New EU laws such as the European arrest and evidence warrants, the emissions-trading scheme and the liberalisation of energy markets, together with practical co-operation on problems such as the Iranian nuclear issue, are further proof the union is working fairly well, it argues.
But the paper’s author, Charles Grant, a veteran observer of the EU, argues that most governments want to save the treaty because it would provide key reforms in the fields of justice and of foreign affairs and provide national parliaments with more say over European decision-making. “It would reform the currently dreadful arrangements for managing the EU’s common foreign policy. The switch to majority voting on justice and home affairs would improve the quality of decisions in that area,” it says.
The paper sets out three scenarios to save the Lisbon Treaty. Under the first scenario the Government agrees to hold a second referendum on the treaty and wins it, enabling Lisbon to enter into force. To help the Government win the vote EU leaders would scrap the planned reform of the commission so the Irish “do not lose their person in Brussels” and offer reassurances on tax, abortion and neutrality.
The second scenario envisages Taoiseach Brian Cowen telling the EU that Ireland will not hold a second referendum. The paper notes the French presidency and other governments would put Ireland under huge pressure to try to ratify the treaty but ultimately the rest of Europe would have to respect Mr Cowen’s decision and “bury the treaty”.
But it argues EU leaders would then try and salvage the few parts of the treaty that can be implemented without ratification, such as removing the national veto over decision-making in the justice field and setting up an external action service to represent the union abroad.
— Hat tip: TB
The Karadzic Capture and Serbia’s Return to Power
The dramatic arrest of former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic, hiding as a bushy-bearded spiritual guru in Novi Beograd, will no doubt inspire a Hollywood film in the not-too-distant future. And it has already inspired a lot of pathos and hyperbole, with one foot similarly in the door of fiction (Madeleine Albright accusing Karadzic of complicity in the deaths of hundreds of thousands in Bosnia, when actually just under one hundred thousand on all sides died in the war). And Iran’s government, its broadsides usually shunned or ridiculed in the West, gets self-satisfied airtime, with the IHT not questioning its declared limited ‘political and logistical support’ role in the 1992-95 war.
This was all too predictable, as was CNN and the like scrambling, in the immediate aftermath of the arrest, to get the usual cast of Balkan ‘good guy’ characters in front of the cameras, such as former Bosnian Muslim UN envoy Mo Sacirbey and the chairman of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, Haris Silajdzic. Their gushingly effusive castigation, always reserved for those caught on the losing side of history, trumped facts, such as Karadzic’s documented attempts to keep the peace (pointed out by Nebojsa Malic) and the unsettling truth that it was the late Bosnian President, Alija Izetbegovic who more than any single person was responsible for stoking the conflict in Bosnia- and promoting a radical Islamist ideology in it (as pointed out by former NSA Balkans expert John Schindler in his compelling book Unholy Terror: Bosnia, Al-Qa’ida, and the Rise of Global Jihad).
But these are all details, in some way irrelevant too. After the media cycles predictably play out, nothing will have changed in terms of the collective memory of recent history. What is important, however, is how Serbia will benefit from the handover of Karadzic — and possibly soon Ratko Mladic — in its return to power as the major regional player. And so, while the Bosnian Muslims are expressing their satisfaction at the arrest, they — and Kosovo’s Albanians — are also very uneasy about what the removal of Serbia’s last international shackles means for their own political agendas…
— Hat tip: C. Cantoni
Kurdish Prime Minister Barzani in Kirkuk to Promote “Peace and Harmony”
The head of the government of Kurdistan has met with religious leaders and political representatives of the city. Archbishop Sako says he hopes that peace may not be mere “talk”, but may become the concrete element on which to “rebuild society”. Tension eases after violence of recent weeks.
Kirkuk (AsiaNews) — It was supposed to be a visit to promote “peace and harmony”, when Massoud al Barzani, head of the government of Kurdistan, visited the contested province of Kirkuk yesterday. The Kurdish prime minister first met with the city council and mayor of Kirkuk, and then met with the political leaders and Muslim religious authorities, together with all of the Christian clergy, led by Chaldean archbishop Louis Sako. At the end of the talks, he met with numerous Kurdish, Arab, and Turkmen dignitaries, a sign of the intention of all the ethnicities and religious faiths to participate in a common effort for true peace. But some disappointment remains nonetheless over the lack of participation on the part of some of the Arab tribes and Turkmen parties, which boycotted the event.
Despite the few defections, Archbishop Sako is careful to emphasize “the extreme importance” of yesterday’s summit, during which “al Barzani wished to issue an open message for dialogue, promoting fraternity and looking to the good of the population”.
In the name of the united local community, the archbishop of Kirkuk greeted the head of Kurdistan’s government, emphasizing that the visit and message of peace “serve to reassure the people” that in recent weeks have seen a rise in episodes of violence. “The meeting”, Archbishop Sako stresses to AsiaNews, “helps to eliminate barriers, and is the point of departure for a search for a common solution”. The prelate also expresses his hope that the call to peace “may not remain mere empty talk”, but that through the work of all, it may become a concrete reality: “The work of all is needed, beginning with the politicians called to put it into practice through daily effort”, Archbishop Sako adds. He recalls that the people are not divided, but desire without exception “peace and coexistence”, and this is the mission that the leaders must be able to realize. The ruling majority must “listen to the opinion of all”, and take on an attitude that “promotes shared responsibility. The country has been ruined, and it is up to all of us to rebuild it: through a united effort, we can do it”, Archbishop Sako concludes.
The archbishop’s words were welcomed by Massoud al Barzani, who at the end of his visit to the city promised to “do my best” to bring Kirkuk back to life, and emphasized that “if errors have been committed in the past”, there will be efforts in the future to “correct these through the work of all”.
The population responded favorably to the visit of the Kurdish leader, whose message contributed to easing the tension that had been created in recent weeks following terrorist attacks and the request of the governing majority to annex Kirkuk to Kurdistan.
The northern city, at the center of an area extremely rich in petroleum, is claimed by Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen, and is among the reasons why the provincial elections scheduled for October have been delayed. A proposal by the UN, presented in parliament on Wednesday, suggested moving the vote in the contested province to next year, in order to allow the elections in the rest of the country to come to a common solution for Kirkuk. But the parliamentarians rejected it. (DS)
— Hat tip: Insubria
Man Sets Himself Alight in Anti-China Protest
A man doused himself with gasoline and set himself alight during a protest Friday by ethnic Uighurs outside the Chinese Embassy in Turkey. Other demonstrators jumped on the man and quickly extinguished the flames with a blanket, according to an Associated Press photographer who was at the scene. He was also sprayed with a fire extinguisher.
The man, identified by the local Uighur association as 35-year-old Mehmet Dursun Uygurturkoglu, was rushed to a hospital where he was being treated for second-degree burns to his head, neck and arms. A doctor at Ankara’s Numune hospital said his injuries were not life-threatening.
The man was among several hundred Uighur demonstrators protesting human rights violations in China just before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing. The group was chanting anti-China slogans when Uygurturkoglu, his T-shirt doused with gasoline and his back on fire, rushed to the forefront, shouting: “Long live Turkistan!”
The Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim minority that has had tense relations with the Chinese, live mainly in the rugged and mineral-rich western region of Xinjiang, China.
Uighurs are related to Turks, and Turkey is home to a Uighur community.
— Hat tip: VH
Is There a Place for Islam in Mikhael Saakashvili’s Christian Georgia?
By Bayram BALCI in Tbilisi, Batumi, Marneuli, Pankisi
Translated by Sophie LANCASTER, Cristina PROIETTI and Victoria BRYAN
Whatever their denomination, Georgian Muslims are finding it harder and harder to recognise the new national ideology, put into place by the Saakashvili regime. Over the coming years, their lack of identification with a State which has clearly affirmed its attachment to Christian values is likely to weaken further the understanding between the strongly Muslim provinces and districts and the capital, which has already had problems establishing itself. A three-part investigation
First part: Should Islam in Georgia fear being marginalised?
At the centre of the new national ideology in Georgia, whether in Tbilisi, in the Kvemo Kartli region, where the majority of the population is Shiite Azeri, and in Ajaria, despite the ‘Christianisation’ which has taken place since independence, the Georgian Church has existed alongside a Georgian variant of Islam that has been present in the country since the start of the Muslim Conquest.
The day after his accession to power, Georgian President Mikhael Saakashvili adopted a new national flag, clearly demonstrating the commitment of the political regime to Christian values. The Five Crosses (of King David) on this new flag are there to signify that the country wants to resume links with its Christian past and that it wants to put Christian spirituality in the centre of its national construction. The crucial role of the Church in the history of Georgia, which was one of the first States to adopt Christianity as an official religion after Armenia, explains for the most part why, after 70 years of militant atheism under the USSR, and since its independence, the State has reintroduced Christianity. In the 19th century, after all did not the Georgian nationalists centre themselves round the motto “Language, fatherland and (Christian) faith”?
— Hat tip: Rolf Krake
Australian Troops Capture Taliban Leader
AUSTRALIAN special forces have caught a Taliban leader behind a host of bomb attacks in Afghanistan’s Oruzgan province, potentially dealing a blow to future terrorist assaults.
The Defence Department today revealed that the elite Australian troops last week captured Mullah Bari Ghul, whom coalition forces believe was a key figure behind extremist operations in the province.
Details of the capture were not immediately available.
Defence described Bari Ghul as a key figure in providing equipment, money and foreign fighters to extremist operations in Oruzgan province.
They also believe him to be involved in coordinating the actions of individual insurgent cells.
Defence spokesman Brigadier Brian Dawson said his capture was likely to have an immediate disruptive impact on extremists operating in the province.
“The loss of the one person who knew what was currently underway, what was planned for the future and had the contacts to gain further support is a significant blow to the Taliban extremists command and control in the province,’’ Brigadier Dawson said.
According to Defence, Bari Ghul carried out the role of a “shadow governor’’, responsible for authorising bomb attacks across the province.
“Extremist cells in Afghanistan operate in small isolated groups and only a few key individuals have any sense of the overall provincial insurgency plan,’’ Brigadier Dawson said.
He suggested that Bari Ghul could be ultimately responsible for the roadside blasts which killed Signaller Sean McCarthy last month and Trooper David Pearce last October.
“Mullah Bari Ghul was directly responsible for the importation of componentry, the provision of specialists in the construction of IEDs and authorising their emplacement across the province,’’ Brigadier Dawson said.
“He was also ultimately responsible for the July 13 suicide bomber attack in the Deh Rawood bazaar that killed 21 Afghans and injured a further 12 (people).’’
Bari Ghul has been transported to Tarin Kowt, the capital of the province, and is being held in a Dutch detention facility.
— Hat tip: Aeneas
Thousands of Christians Take to the Street Against Application of Islamic Law
In the Indonesian Papua, Christians are opposing the possible introduction of sharia. The provincial government is reassuring them, but many doubts remain.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) — More than 3,500 Christians have protested in Jayapura, the capital of Indonesian Papua, against the introduction of sharia, Islamic law, in the region.
The demonstration of a few days ago was organized by the Indonesian Christian Communication Forum, and took place to the cry of “Papua Pancasila, yes. Papua Syariat Islam, no!”. Pancasila, literally “the five basic pillars”, is the official ideology of the state founded on modern democratic principles like freedom of expression and of religion. Recently in Jakarta there has been talk of introducing sharia in Indonesia. The Christians of the province object that Papua enjoys special legal autonomy, which would prevent the introduction of such law without local approval.
The demonstrators went to the offices of the provincial government, where Tedjo Suprato (who is standing in for the governor Barnabas Suebu, a Catholic, in Mexico on official business) reassured them that Islamic law will not be adopted in Papua.
45 Christian leaders of Jayapura took part in the demonstration, criticizing the implementation of the special legislative autonomy granted to the region seven years ago, which — as pastor Richard Paay said — “has not brought any significant improvement to our lives”, or eliminated the serious poverty of the indigenous peoples. One placard read: Regional Autonomy Law: A blessing or a disaster?
“For seven years”, Paay continued, “local people who mostly live in poverty have heard about trillions of rupiah (to be distributed to them), but many Papuans still die due to poor sanitation. Where does the money go?”.
Indonesian Papua is rich in natural resources and raw materials, like oil and gold. The central government is discussing the possibility of transferring people from highly populated areas, like the island of Java, to Papua. But these are majority Islamic areas, and it is feared that the arrival of this population could alter the current religious situation of the island.
— Hat tip: C. Cantoni & JF
Eight Dead After Wave of Bombings in China’s Xinjiang
Seven bombers and a security guard were left dead after several bombings that targeted police and government offices in Kuqa county, in China’s remote Xinjiang region early today. Police shot three bombers dead and four more killed themselves after an attack at 2:30 a.m., the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported. Two police officers and two civilians were injured.
Domestic terror groups, including separatists in Xinjiang, pose one of the greatest threats to this month’s Beijing Olympics, China’s government says. Olympics security has been taken seriously since 11 Israeli athletes were killed by a terrorist group during the 1972 Munich Games.
Five bombers found hiding under a market counter at 8:20 a.m. tossed home-made explosives at police before two were shot dead and three others “blasted themselves,” Xinhua reported, citing the regional government. Two other bombers died at the scene of an attack on a police base.
At least 12 bombings took place this morning, targeting government and police offices, using devices made of bent pipe and gas canisters and tanks, the news agency said. Attackers hurled bombs from a taxi and also used a three- wheeled vehicle to transport an explosive device into the yard of a police station. The county was sealed off as authorities investigated.
Separatists “may want to ride onto the platform of the Olympics to showcase their activities,’’ said Wei. “Their aim is to split up the motherland — such activities are not allowed in any country.’’
China’s army, which says it’s on its highest state of military alert in three decades to guard against Olympics terrorism, counts the East Turkistan Islamic Movement in Xinjiang as the biggest threat. The Bush administration declared the group a terrorist organization in 2002.
Olympic security preparations in Beijing included installing missile launchers around facilities to fend off air attacks.
— Hat tip: VH
Philippine Troops Attack Muslim Terrorists Occupying Towns
The Philippine military says it has launched an attack on Muslim rebels who defied a Friday deadline to pull out from several southern Christian villages. Officials say troops and rebels have been exchanging gun and artillery fire on Sunday.
Police Senior Superintendent Casimiro Medes says at least two soldiers were wounded by snipers of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the village in Pikit, one of three farming townships of North Cotabato province still occupied by the rebels.
The military says several hundred guerrillas have continued to occupy townships after the government’s Friday ultimatum to withdraw, but that they are considered bandits and “lost command.”
— Hat tip: VH
Religious Freedom Lost on Vietnam
By Michael Benge
In direct contravention of President Bush’s policy of promoting religious freedom abroad, the State Department has established a foreign policy toward Vietnam promoting that communist government’s control of churches. This is the same government that murdered over a million of their own people after the communist takeover of South Vietnam in 1975.
In the 1980s, the phrase “Coke Bottle Diplomacy” was coined to describe US policy put forth by our best and brightest of that time, whereby trade and American investment would bring communist China into the civilized world and change that country’s long history of human rights abuses and repression of religion and democracy. The policy never worked and has only resulted in a huge trade deficit, US dollars funding a huge military buildup, poisoned products, and untold number — tens of thousands — of Tibetans and Chinese killed and imprisoned in slave labor camps.
The Bush administration has resuscitated this failed policy of Coke Bottle Diplomacy and is applying it to Vietnam, and in 2007, the US accumulated trade deficit was $10.6 billion. Recently, dozens of democracy activists, journalists, cyber-dissidents and Christian and other religious leaders have been arrested and imprisoned by the Vietnamese communists. Congressional leaders and human-rights groups have charged Hanoi with “unbridled human-rights abuses,” the “worst wave of oppression in 20 years.” Some in Congress have accused the Administration of worshiping at the “Alter of Trade” while turning a blind eye toward religious persecution and human rights abuses in Vietnam.
— Hat tip: Michael Benge
Australia Ramadan Quiz
WIN A BRAND NEW LAPTOP AND ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF TAFSEER IBN KATHEER
Just answer 60 Questions over 20 days!
This years Ramadan quiz will start on the 3rd of September inshallah.
REGISTER NOW at newsletter.qldmuslims.org.au/quiz
1st Prize — brand new laptop & 10 Volume English translation of Tafseer ibn Katheer.
2nd prize —Colour laser Printer & 10 Volume English translation of Tafseer ibn Katheer.
3rd prize — 10 Volume English translation of tafseer ibn Katheer.
* Quiz is open to all Australian Muslims over 6 yrs of age.
* 1 entry from each address only.
— Hat tip: Nilk
At Lambeth, Cardinal Kasper Calls for Another Newman
ROMA, July 31, 2008 — The Lambeth Conference, the meeting held once every ten years among the bishops of the Anglican Communion from all over the world, heard yesterday from Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the pontifical council for promoting Christian unity.
The complete text of his address is presented further below. Kasper highlighted the growing distance between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, especially since some of the Anglican provinces began ordaining women to the priesthood in 1974, and to the episcopate beginning in 1989.
Another reason for the estrangement emphasized by Kasper concerns the authorization to bless homosexual unions, and the ordination as bishops of persons in same-sex relationships.
But apart from relations with the Church of Rome, these decisions have created dramatic divisions above all within the Anglican Communion itself. The strongest opposition comes from the developing world, especially from Africa. Of the 44 provinces that make up the Anglican Communion — Kasper noted — 28 ordain women to the priesthood, and 17 allow the ordination of women to the episcopate as well. The others do not. Each province decides for itself, and opposes those that decide differently. To such an extent that — in Kasper’s words — “we now need to take account of the decision of a significant number of Anglican bishops not to attend this Lambeth Conference.”
The fragmentation within the Anglican Communion is so serious that Casper asks:
“In such a scenario, […] who will our dialogue partner be? Should we, and how can we, appropriately and honestly engage in conversations also with those who share Catholic perspectives on the points currently in dispute, and who disagree with some developments within the Anglican Communion or particular Anglican provinces?”
In effect, those in the Anglican Communion who do not accept the ordination of women and the legitimization of homosexuality often enter the Catholic Church.
But the attraction to Catholicism is also of a more general nature. It has to do with an overall understanding of the Church and of Christian tradition since apostolic times until today, which some see as being more faithfully realized in the Catholic Church…
— Hat tip: Insubria