- Transatlantic Musings on Warlike Sweden
- Haider to Run for Chancellor in Austria
- Muslims Looking for Land to Set Up Cemetery Near Helsinki
- Immigration: Yemen, New Measures to Prevent Flows From Africa
- Questions for Brigitte Gabriel
- Saudi Arabia: Woman Detained for Driving
- Immigration: New Landings, 12,500 in Lampedusa in 8 Months
- Immigration: 158 Victims in July, Fortress Europe
In a week when Russia went to war with Georgia, David Bartal reflects on a time when Sweden was more belligerent than benevolent:
Sweden’s bellicose King Karl XII, who ruled this country from 1697 to 1718, was surrounded on Tuesday by thousands of hip-hop kids from the suburbs, who packed the public square dedicated to his memory in the centre of Stockholm.
On most days, a bronze statue of this king reigns in lonely majesty in Kungsträdgården, a pigeon on his head. One of his arms points the way towards Russia on the opposite side of the Baltic Sea.
During his tenure on the throne, King Karl XII took up arms against Peter the Great of Russia, leading an assault against Moscow. He is the chap who also defeated Denmark, Norway and Poland. The Swedish Army met its nemesis at the pivotal Battle of Poltava, where Karl was wounded; he eventually fled south to the Ottoman empire.
Karl found refuge in Bender, located in Turkey. It was somehow appropriate therefore to see the bronze statue of this king virtually surrounded earlier this week by throngs of second-generation Swedes taking part in a four-day youth festival, many of whom come from immigrant families with roots in Turkey.
If one lives in a blessed country like Sweden, which has enjoyed continuous peace for over 200 years, it is tempting to imagine we are part of a happy and privileged continent where war is an aberration and an anachronism. Of course, that is just a fantasy with no basis in history or geography.
National identity seems to me an artificial construction, a means to unite a tribe or nation to achieve goals we cannot reach individually. Goals like building roads and bridges, running hospitals and slaughtering our neighbours.
This week, when tens of thousands of Europeans fled across yet another border for the umpteenth time in modern history, I briefly felt a silly desire to play that old John Lennon tune “Imagine” about the dream of a more peaceful world. Yes, why don’t we bury all those lovely national flags—even the bright and cheerful Swedish blue and gold banner—and find other ways to amuse ourselves.
— Hat tip: TB
Haider to Run for Chancellor in Austria
Far-right populist Jörg Haider has been named a candidate for chancellor in upcoming September elections. It’s a return to national politics for a man whose presence in Austria’s government once moved the EU to impose sanctions on Vienna.
Jörg Haider — possibly Austria’s best-known politician, apart from Arnold Schwarzenegger — has been selected as a candidate for chancellor of Austria by a small far-right party he co-founded in 2005. The Alliance for the Future of Austria (Bündnis Zukunft Österreich, or BZÖ), put an end to rumors on Thursday and confirmed his candidacy in the national election on September 28.
He has no chance of actually winning as chancellor, but Haider said running was his “patriotic duty.” At the same time he promised to continue as governor of the province of Carinthia, in southern Austria, rather than serve in the federal parliament. The contradictory comments gave a clue to his strategy and roused the sarcasm of his critics.
Haider has been a reliably outrageous voice in Austrian politics for years. During a 1991 campaign he criticized the ruling party, saying “in the Third Reich at least they had orderly policies of job-creation, which is something your government hasn’t quite managed. Someone at least has to say that.”…
— Hat tip: Insubria
Muslims Looking for Land to Set Up Cemetery Near Helsinki
The Finnish Islamic Council (SINE) is currently looking for a location in the Uusumaa region for a Muslim cemetery.
The aim is to set up a burial ground which could accommodate all deceased Muslims in the area. If necessary, Muslims from other parts of Finland could also be buried there.
“The aim is to find a larger area as a long-term solution”, says Pia Jardi, head of the council’s cemetery committee.
Currently the burial of Muslims has been organised in different ways in the various municipalities in Uusimaa. Some Lutheran parishes have reserved rows of graves for Muslims in their community.
The best situation is in Helsinki, where the Helsinki Lutheran parishes granted a full block of the burial ground for Muslim graves a year ago in the summer. Now 18 people have been buried in the area with a capacity for 202 graves, each of which will accommodate two coffins.
“Burial legislation requires that we indicate a grave plot for Helsinki residents”, says Risto Lehto of the Helsinki Lutheran parishes.
There is a separate Islamic cemetery in Hietaniemi, which is reserved for the Tatar community.
Many Muslims in Finland want a cemetery of their own, which would make it easier to plan graves according to Muslim specifications, and to bury bodies as soon as possible after death, as required by Islam.
The Islamic Council has sent enquiries about a cemetery to 16 municipalities and cities.
In addition to Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen, a number of local authorities in Uusimaa and East Uusimaa are included, as well as the city of Hämeenlinna.
The primary aim is to find a parcel of land that has already been approved for use as a cemetery, which would considerably speed up the process. Another option is to get planning permission in an area not zoned for cemetery use.
Tuusula has said that it has no space available for such a graveyard. Helsinki also suspects that it might not be able to find enough appropriate land within the city limits. SINE is waiting for other responses from other local authorities.
Pia Jardi notes that Finland’s Muslim population is younger than the Finnish population at large. “Ten years from now the situation will be more acute”, she estimates.
— Hat tip: LN
Immigration: Yemen, New Measures to Prevent Flows From Africa
(ANSAmed) — SANA’A, AUGUST 14 — Yemen’s Interior minister has prepared a new plan to help the security forces manage the flow of refugees from Africa to the country, Yemeni agency Saba reported. The plan, which will become operational as of September 1, 2008, aims at preventing the arrival of African refugees in Yemeni territorial waters. Collaboration with international organisations and neighbouring countries is also planned. Yemen hosts many African refugees who try to flee poverty and wars in their home countries, and reach the coasts with boats which try to escape controls. Some drown because those who drive the boats force them to continue by swimming or because the boats capsize. In the past years the number of migrants rose to the point of creating economic problems, according to the Yemeni authorities. (ANSAmed).
— Hat tip: Insubria
Questions for Brigitte Gabriel
As a Lebanese-Christian immigrant who spent her girlhood amid the bloody devastation of the Lebanese civil war, you have lately emerged as one of the most vehement critics of radical Islam in this country. Are you concerned that your new book, “They Must Be Stopped,” will feed animosity toward Muslims?
I do not think I am feeding animosity. I am bringing an issue to light. I disapprove of any religion that calls for the killing of other people. If Christianity called for that, I would condemn it.
What about all the moderate Muslims who represent our hope for the future? Why don’t you write about them?
The moderate Muslims at this point are truly irrelevant. I grew up in the Paris of the Middle East, and because we refused to read the writing on the wall, we lost our country to Hezbollah and the radicals who are now controlling it.
In your new book, you write about the Muslim presence in America and bemoan the rise of Islamic day schools and jihad summer camp. Is there really such a thing?
Yes. Instead of taking lessons on swimming and gymnastics, the kids are listening to speakers give lectures titled “Preparation for Death” and “The Life in the Grave.”
You also lament the public foot baths that have been installed at the University of Michigan and elsewhere to accommodate Muslim students.
I lived in the Middle East for the first 24 years of my life. Never once did I see any foot-washing basins in airports or public buildings. So why are they pushing them down the throats of Americans?…
— Hat tip: Steen
Saudi Arabia: Woman Detained for Driving
Qatif, 12 August (AKI) — Saudi religious police have arrested a woman in the region of Qatif in eastern Saudi Arabia for driving a car.
The 47-year-old woman was spotted by agents from the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice after other men reported the woman, said Saudi daily Okaz.
The woman was later released after her family posted bail, and will now be put on trial.
There is no law in Saudi Arabia that prevents women from driving. However, fatwas or religious edicts, have been issued by Wahhabi scholars saying it is sinful for women to drive.
Conservatives argue that if women were allowed to drive, this would lead to women being able to mix freely with men, to corruption and the destruction of family values.
Saudi women have been continually pushing to be allowed to drive, and have asked the government to make reviewing the ban a priority.
On 23 September, a group of civil rights activists will formally demand that the government reinstate women’s right to drive. The date also marks Saudi Arabia’s independence day.
In 1991, a group of 47 women activists challenged the ban by driving through the centre of the Saudi capital Riyadh in protest. They were arrested by the religious police but later released. However, some were then suspended from their university jobs for one or two years as punishment.
— Hat tip: C. Cantoni
Immigration: New Landings, 12,500 in Lampedusa in 8 Months
(ANSAmed) — PALERMO, AUGUST 5 — The landings of illegal immigrants on the Sicilian coasts continue, in Pozzallo (Ragusa) and in Lampedusa (Agrigento), where the mayor, Bernardino De Rubeis, points the finger against the military who help the migrants in the Strait of Sicily: “They are becoming drivers of the criminal organisations.” There are two landings in Pozzallo: a total 28 people, including two women, presumably Somali, were stopped yesterday morning near the port by the customs officers of the Palermo naval operational section. The migrants, abroad a reinforced plastic boat, which stranded on the promenade, in Raganzino, were led to a first refugee centre in the village. A little after that another 57 immigrants came, including eight women, one of whom pregnant. They were travelling on a 11-metre damaged rubber boat and were salvaged by two patrol boats of the harbour office 40 miles off Sicily’s southeastern coast. The illegal immigrants were led to the port while the rubber boat sank. The migrants were taken to the municipal gym, given the fact that the refugee centre in the customs office was full. A total 63 people, including ten women, landed in Lampedusa, helped by a patrol boat of the Coast Guard. It could be one of the two group spotted the day before yesterday in the Strait of Sicily directed to the island. With this arrival the first refugee centre of the island exceeded the limits of capacity. The illegal immigrants hosted in the structure are a total 973; including 47 minors and 98 women. According to a report of the Financial Police, some 12,500 immigrants have landed in Lampedusa since January. The landings were 290 and 3,000 immigrants arrived in the past ten days. It was in Lampedusa that the Financial Police has opened a new operational control centre with the task to coordinate the operations to fight illegal immigration; it is the second one in Sicily after the one already operational in Trapani. (ANSAmed).
— Hat tip: Insubria
Immigration: 158 Victims in July, Fortress Europe
(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 14 — A total 158 dead at the doors of Europe, of whom 48 in the Sicilian Channel only, 13 children and two pregnant women drowned along the Mediterranean routes, 38 missing between Algeria and Sardinia. This is the tragic toll of the month of July 2008, drafted by the Observatory on immigration victims Fortress Europe. Between Libya, Italy, Malta the confirmed victims were at least 48, while on the routes between Morocco and the Spanish coast 30 people drowned, and a further 18 immigrants died off the coasts of the Canary Islands. These are some of the figures mentioned in a research which shows how the immigration victims’ phenomenon does not seem destined to stop, but registered instead even an increase. In the first six months of 2008, the arrivals on the Italian coasts tripled, also because of the stricter policy of the Spanish government, which already in 2007 had caused a decrease in arrivals, shifting the routes towards Italy and Greece. Fortress Europe has also dedicated an extensive reportage to the detention conditions of African refugees in Turkey, condemning through several testimonies the inhuman treatment applied by the authorities of the country which is candidate to access the EU. (ANSAmed).
— Hat tip: Insubria