- Study: Media Covered Up Rev. Wright’s Extremism
- Shut Up, They Complained
- Islamist Forum Member Proposes Poisoning Water Systems of Major European Cities
- Swedish Surveillance Law ‘Breaks EU Rules’
- Uproar at Plan to Hold Inquests in Secret
- Italy: Anti-Terror Probe Looks at Pirelli “Factory Plot”
- “Superb Metaphor”: European Parliament Ceiling Collapses
- Dutch Advisory Body Urges Ban on Snack Bars Near Schools
- Switzerland Defends Anti-Racism Stance
- Libya: Nurses, Enquiry Opened in Paris on Torture Charges
- US Rejects Israeli Request to Attack Iran: Report
- Saudi Cleric Muhammad Al-Munajid Slams the Beijing Olympics
- Al-Qa’eda in Iraq Alienated by Cucumber Laws and Brutality
- Indonesian Priest Kidnapped, Severely Beaten
- Man Threatens Embassy With Sword
- Terror Probe Opened on Alleged Air China Threat
Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Gaia, Insubria, TB, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Details are below the fold.
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Pakistan: Terror Suspect Should be Tried at Home, Says Govt
Washington, 13 August (AKI) — Pakistan has asked the United States to hand over a female terror suspect for repatriation so she can stand trial at home.
The Pakistani Embassy in Washington formally asked the State Department for the repatriation of Aafia Siddiqui.
Siddiqui, a 36-year-old nuclear scientist, has been charged in a New York district court with attempting to kill US troops sent to arrest her in Afghanistan last month.
“She should be given a fair trial in the US or handed over to Pakistan where she would be tried for any offence that she may have committed,” an embassy official told Adnkronos International (AKI).
Siddiqui is also accused of links to al-Qaeda. She was reported to have been shot during her arrest and her lawyers say she has not received medical attention while in custody.
“It has become a very serious case in Pakistan. We have made an official request to the State Department.”
The Pakistan Embassy has also asked for the repatriation of the three children of the Pakistani woman if media reports are confirmed that they are in US custody.
“There are reports that the three children are in US custody. We have requested that they be handed over and sent to their relatives.”
The embassy said public sentiment was running high in Pakistan over the case because Siddiqui disappeared five years ago.
An embassy official visited Siddiqui in the Brooklyn detention centre where she is being held and expressed concern about her condition.
“She was very weak and traumatised and unable to speak,” the embassy spokesman told AKI.
The embassy has also urged US authorities to ensure that Siddiqui does not have to go through any humiliation or degradation under the pretext of body searches before and after any visits by her attorneys.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani has assigned a diplomat in New York to stay in contact over the issue.
Siddiqui went missing in 2003 with her three children after leaving her Karachi home on the way to the airport.
Siddiqui appeared in court in New York on 5 August accused of assaulting and attempting to kill US personnel sent to take custody of her in Afghanistan last month.
But there has been no explanation of her whereabouts since March 2003.
Human rights activists including retired squadron leader Khalid Khawaja believe Siddiqui has been the victim of a conspiracy by intelligence agencies.
“Americans have done what is generally done in the rogue police states where people are detained under false charges,” Khawaja told AKI last week.
The embassy official said he had no information about any involvement of Pakistani intelligence in Siddiqui’s disappearance.
Siddiqui is expected to appear in court again to face a bond application hearing on 3 September.
— Hat tip: C. Cantoni
Study: Media Covered Up Rev. Wright’s Extremism
The three major network news outlets “censored and manipulated” Barack Obama’s longtime pastor Jeremiah Wright’s sound bites to cover up his extremism, a new study by the Media Research Center charges.
In a report scheduled for release Wednesday, the MRC states: “Rev. Wright’s noxious recorded sermons suggesting that America deserved 9/11 and that the federal government created AIDS as a tool of black genocide were widely viewed on YouTube and discussed on talk radio and cable TV. But what about the network news shows, the programs most watched by the least politically involved viewers?…
“A Media Research Center study of ABC, CBS, and NBC news broadcasts from the formal announcement of the Obama campaign on February 10, 2007 through July 15 reveals that a viewer watching only broadcast TV news would have received a much more limited (and even censored) version of Wright’s sermons.”
— Hat tip: Fjordman
Shut Up, They Complained
“Ezra Levant’s big mouth saved Ezra Levant.”
So said one long-time admirer last week, when Levant finally won — sort of — what many are calling “Canada’s first blasphemy case in 80 years.”
“Sort of” because Levant still faces 17 additional legal battles ostensibly related to his re-publication of the Danish Mohammed cartoons in 2006.
— Hat tip: TB
Islamist Forum Member Proposes Poisoning Water Systems of Major European Cities
On August 9, 2008 a member of the Islamist forum Al-Boraq proposed poisoning the water systems of major European cities. The forum member began his message by reminding “monotheists [i.e. Muslims] who yearn to support the Prophet” that Ramadan is coming, and explained that poisoning the water systems of major European cities is just one of many options — some of them “more powerful and more damaging” — but that his posting is meant to “prompt the mind [to generate] innovative [ideas].”
— Hat tip: TB
Swedish Surveillance Law ‘Breaks EU Rules’
A lawyer at the European University Institute in Florence has reported Sweden’s new surveillance law to the European Commission.
Lawyer Robin Lööf believes the law — which allows the National Defence Radio Establishment (Försvarets Radioanstalt — FRA) to intercept all calls, emails and phone text messages crossing Swedish borders — to be in clear breach of fundamental rights governing the movement of goods and services in the European Union.
Lööf told Sweriges Radio that if a lawyer who happened to be in another EU country wanted to represent someone in Sweden, then their communication could no longer be considered confidential.
“The FRA surveillance law is discriminatory in relation to EU law”, he said.
Lööf’s view was supported by Ulf Bernitz, a professor in European Community law. He believes that this aspect of the new FRA legislation may have been forgotten when it was approved by the Swedish parliament.
— Hat tip: TB
Uproar at Plan to Hold Inquests in Secret
Inquests that are deemed a risk to national security by the Government would be held in secret in future under proposed powers to come before the House of Lords this autumn.
The provisions, under a clause in the Counter-Terrorism Bill, allow the Home Secretary to stop a jury being summoned, replace the coroner with a government appointee and bar the public from inquests if it is deemed to be in the public interest.
It could be applied to inquests similar to those into the deaths of the weapons inspector David Kelly, “friendly-fire” military casualties or Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed. In future, inquests similar to that into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, which is due to start next month with 44 police officers giving evidence anonymously, could also be subject to the secrecy clause.
Lawyers, opposition MPs and pressure groups have told The Times that the move represents a fundamental breach of the right to a public inquiry into a death — a centuries-old mainstay of British justice.
They said that a full-scale campaign is being prepared to block the provision, which granted the Home Secretary unprecedented powers to intervene in the workings of the judiciary.
The measure, Section 63 of the Bill, passed through the House of Commons in July without fanfare as debate raged over the headline power for the 42-day detention of terror suspects.
— Hat tip: Gaia
Italy: Anti-Terror Probe Looks at Pirelli “Factory Plot”
Turin, 13 August (AKI) — An anti-terror probe has begun in Italy after police uncovered detailed architectural plans for tyre-maker Pirelli’s plant in Turin, the Italian daily, La Stampa, reported on Wednesday
Anti-terror investigators from Turin and Genoa are investigating the possibility of a plot after Italian tax police raided an encampment inside highway tunnel being used by the homeless.
Local residents told police they saw a ‘suspicious’ individual wearing Arab clothing and a long black beard entering and leaving the tunnel.
However, police found no-one at the encampment when they carried out the raid, just household objects such as razors, shaving cream and foodstuffs.
Pirelli Tyre is part of the multinational Pirelli conglomerate. and claims to be the world’s fifth largest operator in the tyre market.
In 2006, Pirelli Tyre generated revenues of around 3.94 billion euros.
Pirelli’s Settimo Torinese plant outside Turin is at the centre of a 150 million euro reorganisation.
— Hat tip: C. Cantoni
Islam: Muslim Intellectuals, Government Has to Study Accord
(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 13 — Enough for the praise of Newsweek, now Berlusconi has to study, among the other problems, also the necessity of an accord with the Islamic community. Thus Ahmad Gianpiero Vincenzo, president of the Italian Muslim Intellectuals, enters the debate following the article in Newsweek on the first 100 days of the Government. We are pleased to learn that the prestigious magazine has given a positive assessment to the recent development of the Italian political situation,” Vincenzo said, however, “as suggested by the US weekly, many initiatives are yet to be undertaken in order to tackle the uneasiness in the country,” he observes. “As the holy month of Ramadan is coming closer, we invite Prime Minister Berlusconi to launch a process which could lead to a vast accord with the Islamic community,” he added. “We are certain that such initiative could give very important results for the definition of the legal status of Muslim and for the solution of the problem with the control over the mosques in Italy and in general with regard to the actions against the Islamic fundamentalism.” (ANSAmed).
— Hat tip: Insubria
“Superb Metaphor”: European Parliament Ceiling Collapses
Although languishing in the middle of summer holidays, there was some activity in the European Parliament in Strasbourg last week when part of the ceiling of the main plenary room collapsed. Last Thursday (7 August), the ceiling of the main hemicycle where up to 785 euro-deputies from the 27 member states assemble to vote on EU laws partially caved in two takes.
The website www.strastv.com distributed photos of the collapsed ceiling on Monday. French news agency AFP reported that the first part came crashing down around 18.00 CET and another part followed just over four hours later at 22.36 CET.
There were no injuries as the room was empty at the time although a large number of seats have been damaged.
Readers of French newspaper Liberation were generally amused by the event. Reacting to the news, one said it was a “bad omen for Europe”, another called it a “superb metaphor” while a third said it was “sign for a move to Brussels” tapping into the years-long debate about scrapping the monthly trek from the Belgian capital to Alsatian city, a 350km trip involving MEPs, armies of assistants, a generous scattering of lobbyists and truck-loads of documents.
The reason for the incident is not known with no extraordinary weather incidents reported on that day. During the holidays, the Strasbourg parliament, which is used 12 times a year by MEPs, gets visitor groups. The last plenary session was in mid July and the next one will take place at the beginning of September.
— Hat tip: VH
Dutch Advisory Body Urges Ban on Snack Bars Near Schools
The Dutch government’s nutritional advice agency has recommended city governments to ban the building of snack bars and fast-food restaurants around schools in an effort to combat obesity in young people, Radio Netherlands reported Tuesday.
Worried about the fast increase in the number of Dutch people with overweight problems, the Netherlands Nutrition Center said Dutch municipalities should stop the growth of fast-food restaurants in neighborhoods with an abundance of such outlets.
The center said that the U.S. city of Los Angeles has forbidden entrepreneurs from opening up fast-food restaurants in the south of the city where a lot of fast-food outlets are concentrated and where many more residents are obese than the national average.
Dutch hospitals are already treating thousands of children for obesity, and this is only a fraction of the almost 600,000 Dutch children thought to be obese, the center said. There have even been reports of morbid obesity in two and three-year-olds, it added.
— Hat tip: VH
Switzerland Defends Anti-Racism Stance
Switzerland has been defending its race relations record before a United Nations committee in Geneva on Monday.
Summing up, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said there was room for improvement but the Swiss were motivated and taking the issue seriously. However anti-racism campaigners criticised a lack of progress.
Switzerland was one of eight countries presenting its progress report on efforts to implement the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Switzerland’s anti-racism record has been under the spotlight recently. During the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review in May 2008 the Swiss had to answer numerous questions about the “xenophobic climate” in Switzerland, “incitements to racial hatred by certain political parties” and “racist posters”.
The UN special rapporteur on racism, Doudou Diène, also levelled tough criticism at Switzerland in a 2007 report for what he said were “discriminatory tendencies”.
In its presentation on Monday the Swiss delegation was asked to justify its current anti-racism stance, answering questions such as whether the federal structure was an obstacle to implementation of the convention.
Swiss officials admitted that certain foreigners faced a “hostile” environment but felt the situation was “comparatively good”, citing lower extreme-right violence and an increase in race-related legal cases.
In his preliminary concluding remarks, Pierre-Richard Prosper, the UN special rapporteur said Switzerland had made progress since 2002, in particular in the field of criminal law and police training, but “could do better”.
In particular, the committee was looking for “top-down” leadership from the Swiss government to help change mindsets and for it to be a “champion for this cause”, he said.
— Hat tip: Insubria
Mauritania: Al Qaeda Calls for Holy War, Islamic Government
(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, AUGUST 12 — The North African wing of al Qaeda called on a website for a holy war in Mauritania to form an Islamic government after the August 6 coup. “Raise the banner of jihad and let us bleed and have our limbs severed until we bring back a caliphate styled along the lines of The Prophet’s way,” leader of the al Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb, Abu Mus’ab Abd el-Wadoud, wrote in a statement posted on the Internet, in which he accuses the authors of the coup of having received the green light from the “infidel states, America, France and Israel”. Deposed President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi was considered an ally of the United States in the fight against al Qaeda. Also, military chief who led the coup, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, right upon seizing power declared he would hunt down the Islamic militants, but the United States condemned the coup calling for the restoration of the legitimate government. In December, al Qaeda killed in Mauritania four French tourists and several soldiers, causing the cancellation of the annual Dakar Rally, and for some time it has been conducting a bloody campaign to destabilise the governments of the North African countries and establish Islamic states. (ANSAmed).
— Hat tip: Insubria
Libya: Nurses, Enquiry Opened in Paris on Torture Charges
(ANSAmed) — PARIS, AUGUST 12 — A preliminary enquiry was opened in Paris following the reports of “tortures with barbaric acts” and “violence” carried out by “representatives of the public authority”, presented by the Bulgarian doctor of Palestinian origin, Ashraf Joumaa al-Hajouj, detained for eight years in Libya, together with five Bulgarian nurses and released on July 24, 2007, it was reported today by judiciary sources. The enquiry will be carried out by judges Philippe Jourdan and Yves Madre. The doctor had pressed charges in France in December 2007, represented by the Association “Lawyers without Borders France”, against Libyan Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, five policemen and a Libyan doctor because he was “tortured for a long time with electric shocks, dogs, deprived of sleep and sexually assaulted”. The doctor also pressed charges against Libya in January 2008, before the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva. Hajouj, 39, and the five Bulgarian nurses, who spent more than eight years in the Libyan prisons, say that they were tortured to obtain confessions, because they were accused of injecting with the HIV virus 438 Libyan children, of whom 56 died. Sentenced at first to the death penalty, later on commuted to life imprisonment in 2007, they were finally extradited and pardoned by the Bulgarian President on their arrival in Sofia on July 24, 2007. (ANSAmed).
— Hat tip: Insubria
Mauritanian Coup Was Backed by West: Qaeda
Al-Qaeda said in an Internet statement on Tuesday that coup plotters in Mauritania were most likely backed by the West and urged the Mauritanian people “to prepare for war.”
“It is most likely that those who made the recent military coup in Mauritanian would not take a step if it did not receive the approval of the infidels of America, France and Israel,” said the statement.
The statement by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was signed by the group’s leader Abu Musab Abdul Wudud and dated August 10.
— Hat tip: TB
Bahrain: Students Visit Israeli Embassy in USA, Polemics
(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, AUGUST 11 — The visit of a group of students from Bahrain to the Embassy of Israel in Washington raised harsh criticism on the small oil-rich island, daily Gulf News announced, explaining that Anti-Zionism Society will present a parliamentary interrogation with regards to the Minister of Education who has allowed the visit. “The visit was a violation of the parliament’s order to ban any kind of relationship with Israel after a meeting between the Minister of Foreign Affairs and his Israeli counterpart last year,” Secretary General of the Anti-Zionism Society, Abdullah Malek, said, requiring that the incident is discussed at the re-opening of the works of the Advisory Council in October. Despite the position of anti-normalisation expressed by Bahrain, the emirate maintains trade relations with the Jewish state under the pressure of the USA. Besides, a small Jewish community of some 50 people lives in Bahrain’s territory, which has always had a political importance with a parliamentary representation. Huda Nunu, a Bahraini Hebrew woman was appointed Ambassador to Washington last month and her family was entrusted the task to launch a campaign for the return of Bahraini Jewish who escaped after the Arab-Israeli conflict from 1948. (ANSAmed).
— Hat tip: Insubria
Mideast: Binational State With Israel Not Excluded, PNA
(ANSAmed) — RAMALLAH (WEST BANK), AUGUST 11 — Ahmed Qurie, the chief of the Palestinian negotiators with Israel, said yesterday that PNA might demand the setting up of a binational state with Israel if its leaders persist in not accepting the proposed borders for a new independent state. In a meeting behind closed doors with exponents of Fatah, the faction led by President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), held in Ramallah in the West Bank, Qurie explained that the two-state formula can be accepted only if Israel withdraws from all the occupied territories. ‘‘The Palestinian leadership is working for a state which is comprised within the borders of 1967’’, Qurie stated, referring to the territories occupied by the Jewish state in the Six Days’ War of that year. ‘‘If Israel continues to oppose this solution, the Palestinian leadership will ask for its people a single binational state’’, he added. Israel has always opposed a similar solution, stating that the absorption of millions of Palestinians might compromise its characteristics as a state with Jewish majority. (ANSAmed).
— Hat tip: Insubria
US Rejects Israeli Request to Attack Iran: Report
The United States has turned down Israeli requests for military hardware to help it prepare for a possible attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, a frontpage report in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said on Wednesday.
The unsourced report said the Americans had warned Israel against carrying out any such attack and had refused to supply offensive military hardware. Instead they had offered to improve the Jewish state’s defenses against surface-to-surface missiles.
Interviewed on Israeli Army Radio, Defense Minister Ehud Barak did not deny the Haaretz story, but refused to discuss it. “It would not be right to talk about these things,” Barak said.
The West accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies this and says its nuclear programme is only to generate electricity. It has vowed to retaliate against Israel and the United States if attacked.
Israel, which is believed to have the Middle East’s only atomic arsenal, says a nuclear-armed Iran could threaten its existence.
The Haaretz report, by one of its senior columnists, did not specify what weapons systems Israel had requested. It said Washington had told Israel its aircraft would be denied permission to use Iraqi airspace to reach Iran.
Barak said Iran was a “threat to the whole world order, and there are many actions to be made in the realm of intelligence and preventive measures”.
He said the United States “does not see an action against Iran as the right thing to do at the moment”, but shared Israel’s view that “no option should be removed from the table”.
The United States said last week that Iran, by ignoring demands that it halt sensitive nuclear activities, had left the U.N. Security Council no choice but to increase sanctions.
— Hat tip: TB
Saudi Cleric Muhammad Al-Munajid Slams the Beijing Olympics
Nothing Makes Satan Happier Than the “Bikini” Olympics
(MEMRI video clip)
— Hat tip: TB
Iranian Officials’ Remarks ‘Insulting to Whole World’
Saudi Shura Council members and political analysts have denounced the recent statements made by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mohammadi casting doubt on the legitimacy of some Gulf governments and traditional systems.
In statements to Gulf News they also slammed the statement of the Commander of the Land Forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Brigadier Mohammad Jafar Asdi, in which he said that the first step to be taken by Iran if attacked is to cut the oil supply and hit oil refineries in the region.
Dr Mohammad Al Zulfa, member of the Shura Council, described the statements made by the two Iranian officials as insulting not only to the GCC region but to the entire world.
He added Iran had been displaying a hostile policy against GCC countries and it underestimated the abilities of these countries and ignored their right to build up international coalitions. He said throughout the history of its diplomatic ties with the GCC countries, there was no single example of an Iranian tendency to build good neighbouring relations based on equality with any of these countries. […]
Saudi political analyst Sa’ad Abdullah Al Ahmari said that Iran has never been interested in the stability of the Gulf region.
— Hat tip: VH
Dubai: Bin Laden’s Brother Presents Maxi-Bridge With Yemen
(ANSAmed) — LONDON, AUGUST 13 — Sheikh Tarek bin Laden, the brother of the most wanted terrorist on the planet, Osama bin Laden, has presented his plan for the construction of the longest suspended bridge in the world, which would connect Africa and Asia and two new cities, one in Yemen and one in Djibouti. The project, named Al Noor, will cost USD 200 billion and involves US companies of the security and defence sectors, it was reported by British newspaper Independent. The bridge will be 28.9 km long, according to the reports, and will extend over the Bab al-Mandib (“the door of tears”) Strait, connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. In bin Laden’s project, the two cities at the end of the bridge will be envied by the whole world: the best hospitals, the best schools, universities at international level and futuristic sports structures. A huge number of immigrant workers will be needed to build them: it will take 850,000 people only to build the new city on the coast of Djibouti. The entire population of Djibouti is 800,000 people. Tarek bin Laden has presented his Pharaonic project at the hotel Kempinsky Palace in Djibouti, surrounded by government officers of the African state and representatives from U.S. security sector companies, without sparing comparisons with the Pyramids, the Garden of Eden and the Great Wall of China. He deemed the project “a hope for humanity”. The manager of the company Al Noor, Mohamed Ahmed al Ahmed, echoed his words: “Once people were dreaming of living in America, soon they will hope and pray to live in Djibouti”. According to Ahmed (already employed by a big US military contractor, DynCorp), the bridge will allow the outburst of trade “from Dakar to Beijing”, forgetting that the main connection between Djibouti and the rest of Africa is a 90 year-old railway, which takes two days to cover some 450 km to Addis Ababa, the closest city. According to the Independent, L3 Communication, a US company closely linked to the Bush’s administration, specialised in what is defined as “global solutions for security and engineering”, is among the companies which would manage the entire project. It is one of the major US defence contractors and its managers include former US armed forces officers and Republican businessmen. (ANSAmed).
— Hat tip: Insubria
Al-Qa’eda in Iraq Alienated by Cucumber Laws and Brutality
Al-Qa’eda is losing support in Iraq because of a brutal crackdown on activities it regards as un-Islamic — including women buying cucumbers.
Besides the terrible killings inflicted by the fanatics on those who refuse to pledge allegiance to them, Al-Qa’eda has lost credibility for enforcing a series of rules imposing their way of thought on the most mundane aspects of everyday life.
They include a ban on women buying suggestively-shaped vegetables, according to one tribal leader in the western province of Anbar.
Sheikh Hameed al-Hayyes, a Sunni elder, told Reuters: “They even killed female goats because their private parts were not covered and their tails were pointed upward, which they said was haram.
“They regarded the cucumber as male and tomato as female. Women were not allowed to buy cucumbers, only men.”
Other farcical stipulations include an edict not to buy or sell ice-cream, because it did not exist in the time of the Prophet, while hair salons and shops selling cosmetics have also been bombed.
Most seriously, Sheikh al-Hayyes said: “I saw them slaughter a nine-year old boy like a sheep because his family didn’t pledge allegiance to them.”
Such tactics have triggered a backlash among Sunnis, whom Al-Q’aeda had claimed to be protecting, the sheikh and military leaders said.
Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Albers, an American intelligence officer, told the news agency: “Al-Qa’eda’s very heavy-handed killing of civilians backfired on them. The Sunnis just wouldn’t stand for it any more.
“The self-described protectors of the Sunni community now kill more Iraqi Sunnis than anyone else.”
‘Piles and Piles of Evidence’ That Pakistan is Responsible for Insurgency
In a SPIEGEL interview, Amrullah Saleh — the head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan’s domestic intelligence agency — discusses Pakistan’s role in the Taliban insurgency and recent terror attacks against German soldiers.
— Hat tip: TB
Indonesian Priest Kidnapped, Severely Beaten
Fr Susetyo was taken from his home and beaten by unknown assailants. He is known for his activity in interreligious dialogue, frowned on by radical Muslims. At the hospital, he has been visited by the younger brother of former president Wahid.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Last night, Fr Benny Susetyo, secretary of the interreligious commission of the Indonesian bishops’ conference, was kidnapped and severely beaten. At least three people forcibly removed him from his home in Bintaro, in southern Jakarta, took away his cell phone, and beat him.
He is now recovering at Pondok Indah hospital in Jakarta, where he has been visited by other human rights activists, like Solahudin Wahid, a promoter of interreligious dialogue and the younger brother of former president Abdurrahman Wahid.
The police of Kebayoran Lama say that “we have not conducted any investigation, as there has not been any crime reported to us”. It is the first time in a long time that a Catholic priest has been kidnapped and beaten.
Fr Susetyo is also an active member of the Alliance for Nation and Religious Freedom, a group disliked by radical Muslims for its position on the problem of the Ahmadiyya (an Islamic minority group often persecuted by other Muslims).
Fr Ismartono, who is also active in religious dialogue, did not want to release any comment. He nonetheless noted that “the incident took place suddenly and very quickly. Benny had just regained consciousness when he learned he was at Pondok Indah”.
— Hat tip: C. Cantoni
Man Threatens Embassy With Sword
A Japanese right-wing activist has been arrested for brandishing a traditional sword outside the US embassy to protest over North Korea policy.
Takashi Kuninobu, 36, who identified himself as a member of a right-wing group, swung the sword with a 42-centimetre blade in front of the embassy in downtown Tokyo, police said.
As riot police tried to take him into custody, he threw a bottle containing a letter “to send a protest to the US president”, a police spokesman said. The bottle did not reach the embassy building and no one was injured, he said.
“The United States is trying to remove North Korea from the list of terror-sponsoring nations, leaving the abduction issue behind,” a Tokyo police spokesman quoted the letter as saying. The US is moving to take North Korea off its terror blacklist, opening the way for the communist state to receive US aid, as part of a denuclearisation deal.
Tokyo had opposed the US move due to a dispute with North Korea over its abductions of Japanese people in the 1970s and 1980s to train its spies — an issue that strikes an emotional chord in Japan.
However, the US kept North Korea on the blacklist yesterday, the earliest date when it could be removed, as it is yet to verify Pyongyang’s long-delayed declaration of its nuclear programs.
— Hat tip: VH
House Approves Creation of National Commission on Muslim Filipinos
The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading the bill that seeks the creation of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos. In a supplement effort for the complete integration of Muslim Filipinos into the mainstream development, the Lower House has approved the elevation of the Office of Muslim Affairs (OMA) to the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos under House Bill 4253.
“Muslim Filipinos, our brothers, have the right to plot their destiny within the framework of the Philippine Constitution,” Speaker Prospero Nograles said after the House transmittal to the Senate of the proposed measure. “It is our constitutional duty to ensure the rights and well-being of our Muslim brothers,” he added.
HB 4253 creates the Commission that will absorb the duties and functions of the existing OMA and will remain under the Office of the President. Under the bill, the Commission is mandated to establish the criteria for allocating additional resources for education, economic and cultural development programs.
It also has the function of advising the President in the formulation, coordination, implementation and monitoring of policies, plans, programs and projects affecting Muslim Filipino communities. It would also act as the primary government agency through which Muslim Filipinos can seek government assistance and redress, and serve as medium through which such assistance may be extended to Muslim Filipinos.
It must also monitor and evaluate the performance of all existing policies and development programs of the government that seek to strengthen and uplift the socio-economic conditions of Muslim Filipinos and identify areas that need government intervention and support.
The measure was sponsored in plenary jointly by the House committees on Muslim Affairs, Government Reorganization, and Appropriations chaired by Balindong, Fabian and Lagman, respectively.
— Hat tip: VH
Terror Probe Opened on Alleged Air China Threat
A French judicial official says an anti-terrorism unit is investigating an unsigned letter received by Air China’s Paris headquarters threatening reprisals if China does not free jailed Muslims.
A judicial official says the letter — written in English and unsigned — was received Friday, the opening day of the Olympic Games being hosted by China. The official is not authorized to discuss investigations and customarily speaks to reporters on condition of anonymity.
The official said Tuesday the letter threatens reprisals if China does not free Muslim prisoners but does not provide further information on the letter or the threat. A surge in violence in the mainly Muslim far western Xinjiang region coincides with the Olympics.
— Hat tip: VH
Cambodia Genocide Tribunal Indicts Khmer Rouge Prison Chief
Cambodia’s genocide tribunal formally indicted a former prison chief of the country’s notorious [Communist] Khmer Rouge on Tuesday, paving the way for a historic trial. The U.N.-assisted tribunal said in a statement Tuesday that its investigating judges issued the indictment upon ending their investigation of Kaing Guek Eav — also known as Duch — whose Phnom Penh prison was used as a torture center.
Duch, charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes, is the first suspect to be indicted by the tribunal. He and four other former senior members of the Khmer Rouge, who held power in the late 1970s, were taken into custody last year.
The radical policies of the communist group are considered responsible for the deaths of some 1.7 million people from starvation, disease, overwork and execution. No senior member of the group has ever stood trial for the atrocities.
The tribunal’s announcement marks another “important moment in the history of the court,” said Peter Foster, a spokesman for the U.N..-assisted tribunal. He said the indictment sets the stage for the first trial of the tribunal, which began its work in early 2006. No date has yet been set for a trial, but tribunal officials have previously said it was expected to begin in late September.
Duch, 66, headed S-21 prison, the Khmer Rouge’s largest torture facility, which used to be a school and is now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. About 16,000 men, women and children are believed to have been held there. Only 14 are thought to have survived.
The other four suspects being held by the tribunal are former top lieutenants of late Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, who died in 1998. They are former head of state Khieu Samphan, former chief ideologist Nuon Chea, ex-Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, and his wife Ieng Thirith, who served as the Khmer Rouge social affairs minister.
They also face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.
— Hat tip: VH