Gates of Vienna News Feed 8/11/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 8/11/2009A Muslim gang in Bangladesh is reportedly extorting money from the Hindu community. Given that Bangladesh is a majority Muslim country, this looks to me like a standard call for paying the jizyah.

In other news, as a part of the effort to make Britain less dependent on imported food, the country’s environment minister has called on consumers to ignore the “sell by” dates on packaged food.

Thanks to AA, Barry Rubin, C. Cantoni, Gaia, heroyalwhyness, JD, Sean O’Brian, TB, The Frozen North, TV, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
EU State Aid to Banks is One Third of GDP
The Second Wave of the Depression: Hyperinflation Likely
Americans’ Justified Outrage
Craigslist Ads Recruiting ‘Obamacare’ Lobbyists
Dad Threatened After Blasting Congressman
Demolition Man: Building the Anti-America
Dig This: Media Actually Probed Other Candidates
Expert: Watch Loyalty, Not Certificate of Birth Cites Obama’s References to Islam, Denial of America’s Christianity
Governors Oppose DoD Emergency Powers
Liberty-Loving Citizens vs. Obama’s Autocrats
NYPD Reaches Out to Muslim Community Ahead of Holiday
NYPD Reaches Out to Muslim Community Ahead of Ramadan
Obama Law Tab Up to $1.4 Mil
Obama Administration Says: Hooray for Jihad
‘Pain Ray’ First Commercial Sale Looms
Unmistakable Evil
US Panel Sees Racial Bias in Healthcare Bill
Why Obama’s Miscalculated Deceptions Will Backfire
Yawn Leads to Jail Time for Ill. Courtroom Spectator
Europe and the EU
As Goes the West So Goes NATO
Ex-Nazi Officer Guilty in WWII Massacre in Italy
Geneva: North African Gangs Target Saudi Tourists
German Green Party Defends ‘Racist’ Campaign Poster
Germany: CDU Touts Internet Crime Watch
Greenpeace Dumps Boulders in Anti-Trawling Move
Ireland: Digger Raiders Smash Into Aldi Store But Flee Empty-Handed
Italy: Media Barred as Berlusconi Arrives in Sardinia
Netherlands: Woman Stabbed to Death in Amsterdam
Netherlands: Wilders Wants to Know Latest Baby Names
Sweden: Roma Still Face Discrimination
Swedish Police Officer Disciplined for ‘Negro’ Email
UK: ‘Ignore Best Before Labels’, Says Minister
UK: Anti-Semitic Mudslinging of the Worst Kind
UK: Anger at Pakistani Pipe Band Ban
UK: Big Brother Britain Has More CCTV Cameras Than China
UK: Car Dealer Was Driving at Twice the Speed Limit in Road Race When He Killed Mother-of-Three in Hit and Run
UK: Chinese Tourist ‘Raped’ After Being Offered Free Bed for the Night From Man on ‘Couchsurfing’ Website
UK: Diplomat’s Nanny Lifts Lid on Modern Slavery
UK: Government to Savage: You Can’t Think That!
UK: Mass Brawl Between Right-Wing Group and Anti-Fascists as Race Riots Spill Onto Streets of Birmingham
UK: Strategy to Tackle Extremists to Focus on White Racists
Bosnia: Tunisian Terrorist to be Deported
Kosovo: Islamists Block Web Site for Reporting Muslim Terrorism in America
North Africa
Abduction and Forced Islamization of Christian Coptic Girls Continues in Egypt
Bars, Discos Steadily Closing in Algeria as Islamic Rules Tighten
Israel and the Palestinians
American Government Website ‘Ignores Jews’
Palestinian Sues UK Comedian for “Bruno” Slur
Middle East
Iran Leaders Pave Way for Messianic ‘Mahdi’
Iran: Senior Official Slams ‘Western Meddling’
Iran: Jailers Raped Men and Women, Iranian Opposition Leader Says
Islam’s Mahdi: Bringer of Peace or War?
Kuwait “Foils US Army Base Plot”
Rebels Battle Yemeni Army Near Saudi Border Post
Yemen Welcomes Cleric Expelled From US
South Asia
Ex-Nepal PM Urges Anti-US Unity
India: US, Canada Issue Travel Alerts Urging High Level of Vigilance
Indonesia: Yudhoyono Warns That Terrorists Are Planning More Attacks
Jihadis Thrice Attacked Pakistan Nuclear Sites
Muslim Gang Extorting Money From Minority Hindus in Bangladesh
Pakistan: Some 20 Million Christians to Mark ‘Black Day’ Against Persecution in Pakistan
Scrap Blasphemy Laws Which Bring Shame on Islam and Pakistan, Muslim Scholar Says
Australia — Pacific
Passenger Takes Long Knives Through Airport Security
Sub-Saharan Africa
Aid Workers “Released in Somalia”
Eritrea Rebuffs “Smear Campaign”
Latin America
Chavez Urges Military to be Prepared for Conflict
Foes Warn Chavez Seeks Indoctrination in Schools
Christopher Caldwell’s Reflection on the Revolution in Europe: Now He Tells US?
Culture Wars
Fox & Friends Video Discusses “What’s in a Word?”
Global Warming Battle: Thar She Blows!
If You Convert You Die
Sun Exposure Cancer Warnings ‘Lead to Vitamin D Deficiencies’
Swine Flu: ‘Tamiflu Harm Outweighs Benefits for Children’

Financial Crisis

EU State Aid to Banks is One Third of GDP

The EU’s main regulator has approved state aid to banks worth almost a third of the 27-member bloc’s GDP — twice as much as predicted earlier, with the highest rescue funds in Ireland and with none paid out in several states of central and eastern Europe.

According to a review published by the European Commission on Monday (10 August), between last October and mid-July 2009, the EU’s executive approved guarantee measures designed to boost lenders’ confidence worth €2.9 trillion and capital injections for struggling banks which amounted to €313 billion.

The reaction, seen in Europe and beyond, came last autumn as the world got to grips with the worst financial and economic crisis since the 1930s.

According to the principles agreed by EU leaders, the state aid was to restore financial stability and resume credit flows in economy but without unbalancing state budgets or damaging the functioning of the bloc’s internal market.

Based on these principles, Brussels filed a set of rules which the commission followed when approving national state aid schemes.

In its June report, Brussels predicted that public aid to the banking sector would cost Europe up to 16.5 percent of GDP while the current figures suggest that several member states might have undermined future public finances in their attempt to save the banks.

“This implies increasing explicit future public debt levels or implicit future debt levels. However, it is too early to judge whether thus far the response of governments to the crisis has been disproportionate,” the study said.

For most banks in individual countries, a six month period, initially set as the duration of the aid schemes has ended and it is up to the commission to decide which schemes are eligible for extensions for “reasons of financial stability.”

There are deep differences among the member states and the level of their state intervention.

Ireland, one of the EU countries most hit by the financial clampdown, received a green light from Brussels for aid representing 231.8 percent of its GDP and banks have taken up almost the whole package.

In contrast, nine states — Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia — have not applied for permission to use public funds for such purposes.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

The Second Wave of the Depression: Hyperinflation Likely

We need to recall that the value of a modern currency is not determined inside the country, but rather on the international foreign exchange markets. This is where the fatal vulnerability of the US dollar is located. In the ruined form of the Bretton Woods system which has prevailed for almost 40 years since Nixon’s colossal historical vandalism of August 15, 1971, the US has emerged as the only country with a permanent license to finance imports by simply printing more of its own currency and sending those banknotes overseas. Every other country has to manufacture and export something that others want to buy in order to earn the necessary foreign exchange to pay for its own imports. The US license to print has made this country the buyer of last resort and the dumping ground for the unsold junk of the world, leading in the process to high permanent unemployment here. There are many signs that this inherently unworkable arrangement has now reached the breaking point.

[Return to headlines]


Americans’ Justified Outrage

President Obama claims, “Nobody is going to be forcing you to make a set of decisions on end of life care based on some bureaucratic law in Washington.” That is a specious and intentionally misleading statement because there is a marked difference between “a law” and “a policy.” If his proposed universal health care reform bill (or as it is now being called, health insurance reform) is passed, there will be dictatorial end of life policies set in place — and he knows it.

Time and again he has shown a ready willingness to change words and phrases in order to obfuscate and create a diversional target. By relabeling “universal health care reform,” which will without question be a massive reinvention of health care, to “health care insurance reform” two things happen. The first is the health insurance companies become the enemy. The other is that it focuses attention on the health insurance industry while he and Congress attempt to pass their bill. It is a deplorable trick of politicians, and specifically liberal politicians, to create verbiage that results in the mollification of voter wrath.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Craigslist Ads Recruiting ‘Obamacare’ Lobbyists

‘Help pass Obama’s health care reform! Earn $325-$550 per week!’

Amid accusations of insurance companies and the Republican Party deploying “Astroturf mobs” of health reform opponents, help wanted ads are appearing on Craigslist that offer to pay citizens between $9 and $16 an hour to lobby for the passage of Obama’s health care.

The ads are being posted by the Fund for the Public Interest, which describes itself as “a national nonprofit organization working to increase the visibility, membership and political power of the nation’s leading environmental and progressive groups.”

[Comments from JD: Watch for the meda to portray these people as “spontaneous”.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Dad Threatened After Blasting Congressman

Wanted assurance Obamacare would care for handicapped son

An irate Michigan father worried over what Obamacare would do to his handicapped adult son reports he was threatened after trying to get a direct answer from Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., and has a warning of his own for those who made the threats.

“I will use every means available to me, lethal force if necessary, to protect [my son] and my wife. My wife is terrified,” Mike Sola told Fox News today.


Then he said that “thugs” already have located his home and delivered a threat, although he did not detail its contents. He said it had been reported to police.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Demolition Man: Building the Anti-America

Barack Obama is proving himself to be a destructive nihilist with capitalism, the Constitution, the Rule of Law, and the traditional American experience in his crosshairs.

In today’s American culture there are other sorts of nihilism. Pop culture nihilists much more common, comprising a virtual demographic segment of self-satisfied know-nothings. Destructive nihilists are rarer, but more fearsome. They believe western civilization is so corrupt that wholesale destruction is the only solution.


The Cloward/Piven Strategy is an example of destructive nihilism at work in America. Under the sanctimonious banner of supposedly helping the downtrodden, the end goal of Cloward/Piven is to bankrupt the government into oblivion through unsustainable demands so that a better America can be created. The upcoming Health Care legislation must be viewed through the lens of Cloward/Piven.


So adroit is Obama in the art of destructive nihilism he cunningly stretches ethical boundaries by using our good manners against us. After meeting with Jim Owens, CEO of Caterpillar, Obama went straight to the stage and publicly misquoted him. What’s a guy to do? Contradict the President of the United States of America right there on the podium? Such behavior is beyond Chicago politics; this is raw authoritarian power of Alinsky/Luciferian tactics honed to an art form.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Dig This: Media Actually Probed Other Candidates

Divulged personal documents on arrests, surgeries, colleges

In the last 18 years, highly personal information has been published about presidential candidates, including divorce and alimony details, drunk driving arrest records, college grades, urinalysis results, prostate cancer surgery — even details about George W. Bush’s hemorrhoid troubles.

The media have dredged up medical, military, college and detailed records for Republican and Democratic Party candidates in at least the last five elections. Candidates were subject to intense scrutiny of their health conditions, academic performance and military careers.

However, while such private information about other candidates was divulged, more than 440,000 concerned citizens still have yet to see President Obama present his elusive “long-form” birth certificate and several other documents that remain unreleased or otherwise blocked from the public eye.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Expert: Watch Loyalty, Not Certificate of Birth Cites Obama’s References to Islam, Denial of America’s Christianity

Multiple legal battles have been raging over access to the president’s original long-form birth certificate, which presumably would answer questions about his birthplace, parents and other issues. But even releasing the document would not resolve the problem, some have argued, because of various laws in effect at the time he was born.

Hawaii at the time, for example, issued birth certificates to babies not born in the state. And besides the birth document, WND has reported that other documents still not released by Obama includes kindergarten records, Punahou school records, Occidental College records, Columbia University records, Columbia thesis, Harvard Law School records, Harvard Law Review articles, scholarly articles from the University of Chicago, passport, medical records, files from his years as an Illinois state senator, Illinois State Bar Association records, any baptism records and his adoption records.

Titus told WND that the conventional wisdom is that a natural born citizen is someone born within the geographic limits of the nation. But that’s why he said it is necessary to look further, into loyalties and attitudes.


“Regardless of why people may want to see the vault copy, what’s been requested is a primary document that is materially more detailed than what Obama has thus far provided,” he said.

Harnden said some people are pursuing such information to try to prove Obama is foreign.

But there are other reasons.

“We now know that [Obama’s] life story is chock full of fiction. Typical and disturbing, to take just one example, is the entirely fabricated account in “Dreams From my Father” of Obama’s first job after college,” he wrote.

Harden quotes from Obama’s book how he describes himself as a “financial writer,” where he would, “coming out of an interview with Japanese financiers or German bond traders … catch my reflection in the elevator doors — see myself in a suit and tie, a briefcase in my hand — and for a split second I would imagine myself as a captain of industry.”

In reality, Harnden wrote, Obama was a “junior copyeditor.”

“What’s unnerving about this is that it is so gratuitous. It would have made no difference to anyone curious about Obama’s life that he, like most of us, took a ho-hum entry-level job to establish himself. But Obama lies about the small things, the inconsequential things, just as he does about the important ones — depending on what he is trying to accomplish at any given time,” he writes.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Governors Oppose DoD Emergency Powers

A bipartisan pair of governors is opposing a new Defense Department proposal to handle natural and terrorism-related disasters, contending that a murky chain of command could lead to more problems than solutions.

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (R), chairman of the National Governors Association, and Vice Chairman Gov. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia penned a letter opposing the Pentagon proposal, which they said would hinder a state’s effort to respond to a disaster.

Current law gives governors control over National Guard forces in their own states as well as any Guard units and Defense Department personnel imported from other states.

The letter comes as the Pentagon proposes a legislative fix that would give the secretary of Defense the authority to assist in response to domestic disasters and, consequently, control over units stationed in an affected state.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Liberty-Loving Citizens vs. Obama’s Autocrats

The hubris, arrogance and deceit of President Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership are breathtaking. In their maniacal frenzy to assume control over every aspect of our lives through socialized medicine, they are behaving like the thuggish autocrats they have proved themselves to be.

The jig is up on their designs, evidenced by the very contents of the health bill they’re promoting. As increasing public awareness has translated into increasing grass-roots opposition to the bill, the Democrats have ratcheted up their bullying tactics and deceit.

Our self-styled bipartisan president is telling his critics to shut up, while his partners in crime, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues, are calling them un-American and Nazis.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

NYPD Reaches Out to Muslim Community Ahead of Holiday

In an annual pre-Ramadan meeting, city police officers, religious leaders and community members gathered Monday to discuss steps to ensure a safe holiday.

The NYPD says more foot patrols, special patrol cars, increased presence at mosques and greater communication with the Muslim community will all be in place.

“Across the police department we continue our work to familiarize all our police officers with the Islamic faith,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. “We do this with the help of special training videos to mosques and meetings such as this one.”

“Commissioner Kelly did a good job to keep it a tradition, a relationship between the police department and the Muslim community,” said Ahmed Jamil of the Muslim American Society of Queens. “We encourage this. And it has to be developed a little bit more. But it’s a good start.”

Kelly also eased concerns of profiling saying they are not monitoring any communities, including Muslim communities.

Ramadan starts next Friday.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

NYPD Reaches Out to Muslim Community Ahead of Ramadan

NEW YORK, NY August 11, 2009 —The NYPD is preparing for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan by keeping the lines of communication open with the Muslim community, including some of its own officers. WNYC’s Bob Hennelly has more.

REPORTER: This year, as in years past, the NYPD is offering the City’s Muslim congregations additional support and protection during their month-long period of fasting and prayer.

Detective Ahmed Nasser leads the NYPD’s Muslim Officers Association. He says the additional training non-Muslim officers get, can help them establish a better relationship with the neighborhoods they patrol.

NASSER: We tell officers that you have to be mindful that when you enter a house of worship, Muslims do kneel and bow and put their head on the floor, so it is required that you remove your shoes out of respect.

REPORTER: The NYPD held a seminar with Muslim community leaders yesterday, to discuss security during Ramadan, which is August 22nd through September 19th. For WNYC I am Bob Hennelly.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

Obama Law Tab Up to $1.4 Mil

‘Grassroots army’ contributions being used to crush eligibility lawsuits?

President Obama may be using his political action committee funds to stomp out eligibility lawsuits brought by Americans, as he has paid more than $1.35 million to his top lawyer since the election.

Obama for America, Obama’s 2008 political campaign, merged with the Democratic National Committee in January and is now known as Organizing for America. The grassroots army that some refer to as “Obama 2.0” is still collecting financial contributions.

Federal Election Commission records for “Obama for America” show that the lobby organization has paid international law firm Perkins Coie exactly $1,352,378.95 since the 2008 election.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Administration Says: Hooray for Jihad

by Barry Rubin

I’m beginning to understand the Obama administration strategy, at least in its initial phase, as a “bridge too far” approach. That expression came after the heroic Allied operation at Arnheim in World War Two, when what seemed a clever idea—to capture a key bridge far ahead of the existing Allied lines—turned into a military disaster.

For example, take Obama’s Cairo speech. He didn’t just try to build good relations with Muslims but to whitewash the history and practices of Islamic polities and peoples completely. Or he doesn’t just try to engage Iran but to do so by removing all criticisms of the regime and most of his potential leverage over it. (Yes, I know that movement toward increased sanctions is supposed to be happening but the Obama administration has been taking its time and, to use another expression: Too little, too late.)

This reflection is generated by a major speech just given by John O. Brennan, Obama’s top counterterrorism advisor. He declares the “war on terrorism” is over and redefines it as a war on al-Qa’ida and its partners.

Much argumentation is adduced to justify this alteration and some of it is certainly persuasive. But there are two extraordinarily important points that go unnecessarily too far and may be extremely damaging in the future…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin [Return to headlines]

‘Pain Ray’ First Commercial Sale Looms

The military isn’t about to deploy its pain ray to the battlefield. But someone in the commercial sector is about to own one. We don’t know who. The sale is mentioned in a presentation by Raytheon, who built the microwave weapon for the Defense Department.

The so-called “Active Denial System” works by heating the outer surface of the target’s skin using millimeter waves — short wavelength microwaves. The effect is painful, but generally harmless, and forces the target to get out of the beam. Recently, it’s been proposed as a possible defense against pirates; last month, Raytheon gave a presentation on Active Denial at a NATO workshop on anti-pirate equipment and technologies.


But we don’t know who it’s being sold to.

“Raytheon’s non-lethal Silent Guardian system has attracted widespread interest, but it would be premature for us to discuss any sales until contracts are signed.” a Raytheon spokesperson told Danger Room.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Unmistakable Evil

We’ve gotten a glimpse behind the curtain of the Obama administration’s agenda, and what we’ve seen is unmistakably evil.

See for yourself. A glimpse behind “Cash for Clunkers” reveals not only car crushing that takes affordable used vehicles off the market for those who don’t want the debt of a new car, but, more importantly, it was also a government computer grab.

As Glenn Beck exposed, look at what happened to car dealers who agreed to participate. It turned their computers and every file on them over to the government:

This application provides access to the DoT CARS system. When logged on to the CARS system, your computer is considered a Federal computer system and is the property of the U.S. Government.

Any or all uses of this system and all files on this system may be intercepted, monitored, recorded, copied, audited, inspected, and disclosed to authorized CARS.DoT, and law enforcement officials of other agencies, both domestic and foreign.

So “the U.S. Government” owns every file on your computer and they are free to intercept, monitor, record, copy, audit, inspect and disclose everything you have to law enforcement — even to “foreign officials” who will apparently have the new authority to monitor you.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

US Panel Sees Racial Bias in Healthcare Bill

Washington, Aug.11 : The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has labeled some provisions in the House health care bill as being racially discriminatory, and has said hat it will ask President Barack Obama and the Congress to rewrite those sections, as it could be a factor in awarding billions in contracts, scholarships and grants.

The commission also fears the programs, which are designed to improve health care in underserved areas, will not be effective.

‘These programs are unlikely to reduce healthcare disparities among racial and ethic groups,’ according to the draft letter obtained by The Washington Times.

‘A growing body of evidence indicates that increasing access to high-quality physicians — whatever their racial or ethnic ancestry — is the best way to mitigate such disparities,’ the draft letter adds.

The draft letter also cites testimony from Dr. Amitabh Chandra of Harvard University who said the idea that expanding the number of minority physicians and providing ‘cultural competence training’ will bridge the health status gap is ‘grounded in hope more than science.’

The commission approved the draft language by a vote of 4-2, with two abstentions.

The Leadership Council on Civil Rights, a civil rights coalition of nearly 200 national groups, however, accused the commission of overstepping its bounds and becoming too political. It said the commission was attempting to squash equal-opportunity programs.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

Why Obama’s Miscalculated Deceptions Will Backfire

President Barack Obama, his staff and administration, are all in danger of making the worst political mistake of their lives. They seem unable or unwilling to recognize the damage it will cause. And this reality may be America’s brightest reason for genuine hope and change.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Yawn Leads to Jail Time for Ill. Courtroom Spectator

CHICAGO — Clifton Williams arrived at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet, Ill., and sat in the fourth-floor courtroom where his cousin was pleading guilty to a felony drug charge. As Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak handed down the cousin’s sentence — two years’ probation — Williams, 33, stretched and let out a very ill-timed yawn.

Williams’ sentence? Six months in jail — the maximum penalty for criminal contempt without a jury trial. He man was locked up July 23 and will serve at least 21 days.

“I was flabbergasted because I didn’t realize a judge could do that,” said Williams’ father, Clifton Williams Sr. “It seems to me like a yawn is an involuntary action.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

As Goes the West So Goes NATO

by Soeren Kern

NATO has always been more than just a traditional military alliance because it has always been about more than just traditional military security. When the Atlantic Alliance was established 60 years ago, its founding vision involved more than just the defence of Europe and America against the Soviet Union. It was much bigger and far more compelling than that. NATO’s original raison d’être was nothing less than the defence of Western civilization against Eastern tyranny.

If anything, the ensuing decades of the Cold War clarified and crystallized the political and intellectual division between the West and the East. And NATO evolved from its origins as a defensive alliance to become part of an offensive vanguard that sought to spread the ideals of Western civilization, such as political freedom and democratic capitalism, to other parts of the world. The issue of enlarging NATO, for example, came to epitomize the larger question of establishing the borders of Western civilization.

But somewhere along the way, the West stopped believing in the idea of Western civilization.

           — Hat tip: AA [Return to headlines]

Ex-Nazi Officer Guilty in WWII Massacre in Italy

Gino Massetti was only 15 when Nazi troops rounded him up with 10 other Italian civilians and forced them into a barn in Tuscany before blowing it up _ a massacre carried out in revenge after partisans killed two soldiers.

Though Massetti, the lone survivor, couldn’t identify who ordered the slaughter, former Wehrmacht Lt. Josef Scheungraber was convicted Tuesday of murder based on circumstantial evidence that put him at the scene as the ranking officer. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Scheungraber’s lawyer, Klaus Goebel, said he would appeal what he called “a scandalous verdict.” The 90-year-old Scheungraber declined to comment.

Though witnesses in such cases are rare and memories have faded over more than six decades since World War II, the case underscores that it is still possible to win a conviction against Nazi war criminals, experts say.

“Even old age cannot protect one from prosecution,” Norbert Frei, a historian at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, told Bayerischen Rundfunk radio.

An American attorney who served as the U.S. Justice Department’s lead lawyer in the 2002 case against John Demjanjuk said the verdict has important implications for the German trial of the retired autoworker accused of being a guard at the Sobibor concentration camp.

“It’s going to be a similar body of evidence that is used against Demjanjuk, and the fact that you have a conviction in this case is a very promising sign for the Demjanjuk prosecution,” Jonathan Drimmer, now in private practice, said by telephone from his Washington office.

The 89-year-old Demjanjuk, charged as an accessory to the murder of 27,900 people at Sobibor, was deported from the U.S. in May after losing all appeals there. The same court where Scheungraber was convicted had not decided when Demjanjuk might go on trial.

The Demjanjuk case is another where there are no known direct living witnesses, and prosecutors are relying on historical documents in their attempt to prove he served as a guard at the death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

In its ruling, the Munich state court ruled that Scheungraber’s men exacted vengeance against the population of Falzano di Cortona, near the Italian town of Arezzo, after local partisans killed two German soldiers in June 1944.

“It was about revenge,” said Judge Manfred Goetzl.

Scheungraber, who was a 25-year-old in command of a company of engineers at the time, maintained he was not in Falzano di Cortona when the killings happened, but was overseeing reconstruction of a nearby bridge. However, the court said evidence presented over the last 11 months showed Scheungraber “was the only officer present to give the order.”

The court said he had ordered two of his men on a mission, and sent his driver to look for them when they did not return. When they were found dead, Scheungraber organized their burial; pictures showing him there were presented at the trial.

“The accused, who felt personally responsible for the deaths of two of his comrades, wanted to counter the fear, the hate and the helplessness of the soldiers, who expected protective measures on one hand, and revenge on the other,” the court said in its ruling.

Scheungraber drew several deep breaths after his conviction was announced and listened to the judge’s explanation with his eyes closed.

“The past caught up with the defendant,” prosecutor Hans-Joachim Lutz said. “He will have to atone for his guilt.”

Scheungraber was acquitted of ordering soldiers to shoot to death three Italian men and one woman before the massacre in the barn; the court said it could not be proven that he gave the order.

During the trial, Massetti described how he was rounded up with the others and herded into the barn.

“I heard a scream, and that was it then. They were all dead,” Massetti testified.

Just before the barn was blown up, Massetti recalled, he saw a man he assumed was an officer arrive on a motorcycle and give what appeared to be an order. Massetti could not describe the officer and didn’t understand what he said.

Massetti said it was down to luck that he survived. He was partly shielded from the blast after a heavy beam and a man fell on top of him.

A former work colleague also testified that he remembered Scheungraber saying in the 1970s that he couldn’t visit Italy because of what happened during the war, which involved “shooting a dozen men and blowing them into the air.”

The witness, Eugen Schuh, testified he did not remember Scheungraber saying he had given the order, but said the defendant told the story “as if it were his decision.”

If there is reasonable doubt in a case, German courts are supposed to rule for the defendant. Stephen Klemp _ a researcher for the Simon Wiesenthal Center _ said in past decades, even cases with seemingly stronger evidence tended to go in the defendants’ favor.

He said the Scheungraber verdict was a “good sign” for future cases.

“I would not have been surprised if he would have been acquitted … but maybe the times are changing for Nazi war criminals in Germany now,” he said.

Drimmer pointed out, meanwhile, that American courts have been much more willing to convict on circumstantial evidence, and suggested the attitude was starting to spread across the Atlantic.

He also said in historical cases _ especially involving wartime experiences where someone catches a glimpse of someone involved in an atrocity _ witness accounts are generally unreliable.

“These are going to be recollections that, 60 years after the fact, it’s going to be hard to put a lot of credibility into for a criminal charge,” Drimmer said.

Following the verdict, court spokeswoman Margarete Noetzel said Scheungraber would not go to prison until the appeals process is finished. That could take months.

A few relatives of Scheungraber’s victims attended the judgment and expressed satisfaction with the outcome.

“This was a very important verdict for our family,” said Angiola Lescai, 60, whose grandfather was killed in the barn. “We view this as a very beautiful gesture of reconciliation.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

Geneva: North African Gangs Target Saudi Tourists

The information was not made public earlier, as part of regular police communique’s about attacks, and until today, 11 August, most of the information about the incident has surfaced via Saudi cable channel Al-Arabiya, which gave lengthy play this weekend to the story. It reportedly gave the impression that Gulf state citizens in Geneva are at the mercy of gangs from North Africa, the Balkans and the Caucasus. (GenevaLunch)


A violent attack on a Saudi tourist in Geneva risks damaging the city’s image as a safe destination for Middle East visitors, warns Geneva’s tourism director.

The assault was reported last weekend on the Saudi television channel Al-Arabiya, the second-biggest Arab station after Al-Jazeera. Despite being the top Swiss destination for visitors from the Gulf States, Geneva’s market share is under pressure.

After initially denying any knowledge of the assault, on Monday the Geneva cantonal police confirmed that a 48-year-old tourist from Saudi Arabia had been found unconscious with “very serious” head wounds on July 16. He had been struck from behind with an iron bar near the main station. An investigation has been opened.

According to the Saudi consulate, the tourist was discovered at Geneva University Hospital, where he remained in a coma for ten days. It claims the police only took the case seriously when the diplomatic mission and the tourist’s family provided proof that money had been taken from his account using a stolen credit card.

The affair was covered by Al-Arabiya, which has ten million potential viewers, in a lengthy news story that also described an increase in assaults and presented Geneva as a dangerous city for Saudi tourists.

“This incident could have a very negative impact on Geneva’s image in the Gulf States,” François Bryand, director of Geneva Tourism, told “It’s clear that it’s one attack on one tourist, but it’s one too many.”

The tourist office has written to the cantonal government to express its concern about the rise in insecurity and the potential harm to Geneva’s image. It has also informed the Swiss ambassador in Saudi Arabia.

According to the Tribune de Genève newspaper, the minister in charge of the police, Laurent Moutinot, has written to the Saudi consulate to organise a meeting to discuss the matter.

The consulate criticises what it views as the authorities’ failure to deal with the rising number of thefts and muggings and general harassment of Saudi tourists in Geneva.

Over the past two years the Pâquis quarter, squeezed between Lake Geneva and the train station, has grown increasingly hazardous, attracting numerous hardcore petty criminals from North Africa who prey on tourists and passers-by near the lake.

Between 2003 and 2007 the number of cases of street theft involving tricks more than trebled and between 2000 and 2007 pickpocketing doubled, according to the cantonal police.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

German Green Party Defends ‘Racist’ Campaign Poster

A German campaign poster featuring the buttocks of a black woman is stirring controversy. Some local people in the western town of Kaarst, where the Green Party put up the poster, have called it racist and tasteless.

A German election campaign poster featuring the naked buttocks of a black woman being squeezed by the hands of a white woman under the slogan “The Only Reason to Vote Black” has provoked accusations of racism.

The poster put up by the environmental Greens party in the western town of Kaarst contains a play on words: “Black” in German party politics refers to the color colloquially used to describe Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party. Other major parties are described as red, yellow and, of course, green.

The poster is meant to highlight the Greens’ support for same-sex partnerships, said the local head of the Greens, Christian Gaumitz, according to the daily Rheinische Post. “We only put up a small number of these posters. The response has been very big, but the majority of people share our understanding of the subject: that it’s provocative, but not tasteless.”

Locals have complained that the poster is racist and tasteless, according to media reports.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

Germany: CDU Touts Internet Crime Watch

Leading conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) want to institute stronger control over internet use and conduct police surveillance to prevent crime, daily Rheinische Post reported on Tuesday.

“We need more undercover investigators that seek out criminal schemes with internet patrols,” Wolfgang Bosbach, deputy leader of the CDU parliamentary group, told the paper.

According to Bosbach, despite its fantastic variety the internet is a “source for criminality, terrorism, and quite a lot of smut,” and the next government should provide more personnel and technology for criminal investigators and prosecutors.

However, the new efforts would not be a “censorship agency,” Bosbach stressed.

Instead, he said it would aim to make the legal standards of the internet world reflect those of the real world.

“The internet is not a lawless space,” Günter Krings, legal advisor for the parliamentary group of the CDU and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), told the paper.

Requiring an “internet identification card” used to track web surfers is one of the rumoured measured that the CDU could try to take.

In recent weeks German Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen, also a Christian Democrat, said she supported a behaviour code for online social networks. She also played a key role in pushing through voluntary censorship by German internet service providers of websites peddling child pornography earlier this summer.

But Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries, from grand coalition partner party the centre-left Social Democratic Party, told the paper she rejected stronger rules for the internet.

“The legal situation is clear: What is forbidden offline is also forbidden online,” she said, adding that did support an international debate on the future of the internet because national laws have boundaries.

A voluntary “type of worldwide Good Internet code” could be helpful, she said.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

Greenpeace Dumps Boulders in Anti-Trawling Move

Greenpeace boats sailed on Monday (10 August) into Swedish waters and began dumping 180 two-three tonne granite rocks on the seabed to prevent fishermen from using bottom trawling in areas under European Union protection.

The area in Kattegat, between Denmark and Sweden, is mainly used by Danish fishermen but is listed under the EU’s Habitat Directive because of its unique and rich sea life.

Local authorities in Sweden would like to stop bottom trawling in the area, but the decision falls with EU authorities, which have allowed the practice despite the habitat register.

“Today it is nearly impossible for the responsible authorities in EU member states — in Sweden, the County Administrative Boards — to regulate fisheries which take place in areas designated as marine protected areas,” said Greenpeace in Sweden in a briefing.

Local fishermen tried on Monday to block the port of Varberg, where a large cargo ship loaded with tonnes of Greenpeace’ granite blocks headed out to sea.

The head of regional fishermen’s association Hallandsfiskarna, Viking Bengtsson, declared at an earlier hearing that the placement of stones was “unnecessary,” but agreed that reformed fisheries management is needed in the region.

The Danish minister responsible for fisheries, Eva Kjer Hansen, said the NGO’s action was “unacceptable vigilantism” and called on her Swedish colleague to stop Greenpeace.

“It is for the authorities to decide where it is authorised to fish and were it is not authorised. The Greenpeace move is pure vigilantism, imposing losses of fishing opportunities on law-abiding Danish fishermen,” Mrs Kjer Hansen said in a statement.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

Ireland: Digger Raiders Smash Into Aldi Store But Flee Empty-Handed

RAM-RAIDERS have struck again, despite a special garda operation to counter thieves who have been using diggers and JCBs to carry out robberies.

The thieves smashed into an Aldi store in Carlow town early yesterday but fled the scene after realising there was no cash on the premises.

But their modus operandi was all too familiar to gardai, who have been dealing with a spate of ATM robberies across the east of the country in recent months.

Gardai are trying to establish if yesterday’s incident is linked in any way to the ATM thefts.


Gardai in Carlow are appealing for information from anyone who may have noticed suspicious activity in the Graiguecullen area of the town at about 4am yesterday.

An unknown number of thieves used a digger and caused significant damage to the roof of the property.

“We’re waiting on a report to see how much damage was caused. It’s at an early stage but we’re doing inquiries in the area,” said a garda spokesperson.

The men fled the scene shortly after the break-in, probably when they realised that there was no cash present.

It is believed that because of regular money transits from the German-owned discount store, significant amounts of cash would never be kept on-site when the Aldi branch is unoccupied.

Last month senior gardai convened special meetings with bank chiefs to discuss ways of dealing with the ram-raid problem.


They said they were considering the use of GPS tracking devices to pinpoint the location of stolen ATMs and employing a dye which would destroy notes inside the cash machine if it was opened illegally.

And officers confirmed that they had placed surveillance on suspected key members of up to three gangs involved in at least seven ATM thefts and other ram-raids on garages and shops.

The Irish Payment Services Organisation, an umbrella body for payment services to financial institutions, is reviewing security and operations at ATMs.

The most recent robbery occurred in Enniscorthy almost three weeks ago, when raiders got away with a significant amount of money in a cash machine after using a digger, on-site because of renovation works, to break into a service station.

Also in July, an unsuccessful attempt was made to remove an ATM from an Ulster Bank branch in Clones, Co Monaghan, using a digger which was taken in Kells, Co Meath.

Over stg£80,000 (€93,165) was taken in an ATM at a supermarket in Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh, with three men subsequently arrested, while gardai are still searching for a gang who stole over €100,000 from a cash machine at the Bank of Ireland in Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny, in June.

Other incidents occurred in the Mother Hubbard’s truckstop in Moyvalley, Co Kildare, in June, and at a convenience store in Kilcoole, Co Wicklow, last October. However, the problem is not only an Irish one, suggesting the use of JCBs may gaining in popularity among criminals.

Last weekend, in Scotland, a gang smashed a 25-tonne digger into a bank and stole an ATM. They drove off with the whole machine and an unknown amount of cash.

[Return to headlines]

Italy: Media Barred as Berlusconi Arrives in Sardinia

(AKI) — Tight security arrangements barred media and photographers from Olbia airport on Monday, where Italy’s scandal-plagued prime minister Silvio Berlusconi arrived for a family holiday in Sardina. Berlusconi is expected to stay at nearby Villa Certosa on the Costa Smeralda until Saturday.

Security at his vast villa has been increased since Sardinian paparazzo Antonello Zappadu snapped 5,000 pictures of guests there from 2006 to 2009. Spanish daily El Pais in June published some of the photos including topless young women and a nude man, believed to be former Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolanek, cavorting at the villa.

Berlusconi obtained a court injunction banning the publication in Italy of the pictures and police seized 700 of the photos. But Zappadu claims to have many more “politically embarrassing” photos.

Italian police last week detained four photographers for questioning after they were spotted by military police helicopters near Villa Certosa. Police removed the photographers’ memory cards from their cameras but said they were blank.

Berluconi, 72, who owns a business empire including media, advertising and construction, has been dogged by sexual allegations which have led to the collapse of his marriage with former actress Veronica Lario.

A 42-year-old prostitute at the centre of the allegations, Patrizia D’Addario, claims she slept with Berlusconi last November and taped and photographed their encounter.

Last week, Berlusconi was reported to be receiving treatment for stress at his home in Arcore near the northern city of Milan.

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

Netherlands: Woman Stabbed to Death in Amsterdam

The 33-year-old owner of a creche in Amsterdam who died after being stabbed in the car park outside her work on Monday evening has been named as Arzu Cakmakci-Erbas, reports the Telegraaf.

The attack happened at 6.40pm after the woman, who has not been named, had locked up the Moeders Schoot childcare centre in the Geuzeveld district of the city and was going to her car, according to media reports.

The woman died in hospital.

The creche remained closed on Tuesday but staff were present to inform parents about what had happened.

According to a number of parents, Cakmakci-Erbas had a Turkish background, was married and had a number of children herself, reports the Telegraaf. .

Police said on Tuesday morning that the man who carried out the attack has not yet been found. The motive for the attack is unknown, said police, who are appealing for witnesses.

A local woman who had picked up her son from the creche shortly before the stabbing told the press ‘She was a very nice woman. There has never been a problem in the three years my son has been here [at the creche].’

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Wilders Wants to Know Latest Baby Names

Islamization in the cradle

In an attempt to show that he is fighting hard the islamization of the Netherlands, Geert Wilders wants the ranking of the most popular baby names names in Holland.

The Dutch government received a request from the Freedom Party yesterday to disclose the most popular names chosen for babies in four major cities in Netherlands. Mr. Wilders claims that the top seven at the present in Brussels are: Mohammed, Adam, Rayan, Ayoub, Mehdi, Amine and Hamza.

This is the evidence according to Wilders and the PVV of the rapid increase of number of Muslims in Europe. The party refers to the British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, which last weekend reported that in 2050 one fifth of the 27 EU countries’ population will be Muslim.

According to Wilders the only solution is a hard one: the Dutch government ought to limit immigration from Muslim countries.

The latest children’s names throughout the Netherlands that the PVV wants to information about are easy to find. The Social Insurance, which pays the children benefits has the information: the national top boys’ names are: Daan, Sem, Ruben, Lars, Thomas, Lucas. For girls, Emma, Sophie, Julia, Lieke, Lisa. Lotte.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Roma Still Face Discrimination

Roma in Sweden, one of the country’s five official minorities, are still facing discrimination in their everyday lives. While especially young Roma are proud of their origin, many other Roma suffer from what they call ‘silent discrimination’ in Sweden, a new study shows.

In a signed article published in daily Svenska Dagbladet Maria Leissner, head of the Delegation for Issues Concerning Roma, and Per Nilsson, head of the National Board for Youth Affairs, point out that the new study criticises Swedish authorities for knowing too little about the Roma.

The two writers demand the authorities do more for ensuring education both for and about the Roma minority in schools.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Swedish Police Officer Disciplined for ‘Negro’ Email

A police inspector in Landskrona in southern Sweden has been reported to the National Swedish Police Disciplinary Board (Rikspolisstyrelsens Personalansvarsnämnd) for describing a suspect as a “negro in a green military jacket”.

The incident dates back to February 1st 2009 when a woman reported that she had been robbed in Landskrona by two men.

In the course of the police investigation, a police inspector since 2000 with the Skåne force and at the time group leader of Landskrona local police, sent an email in which she used the term “neger” (negro).

“On the whiteboard in the incident room there is a picture of a negro in a green military jacket,” the inspector wrote according to the report.

The inspector has explained in her defence that she used the word “negro” as it was the term used by the woman who reported the robbery. The initial report of the incident however describes the suspect as “dark-skinned”.

The photo was of a young man and was taken in connection with a second reported robbery. The inspector explained that she sent the email, received by around 30 colleagues, to point out that there could be a link between the two incidents.

“Who has taken the picture? Who is it? In a robbery on Sunday one of the attackers was a negro dressed in a green military jacket,” the inspector wrote.

The Skåne police authority has now passed on the report to the National Police Disciplinary Board with the recommendation that the inspector be served with a warning.

The police authority writes that the offence is considered to be of a serious nature.

The authority underlines that “light-skinned”, “ruddy/red-faced”, “slightly dark-skinned”, “dark-skinned” and “very dark-skinned” are the official appropriate terms for describing skin colour.

The inspector claims that she was not aware of the official guidelines at the time and points out that in her report of the robbery incident she used the term in quotation marks.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Ignore Best Before Labels’, Says Minister

Hilary Benn, the environment minister, said people should ignore “best before” labels and decide for themselves if food is still good to eat.

Mr Benn called for a more sensible approach to food safety as part of a wider drive to cut waste and make Britain less dependent on imported food.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Anti-Semitic Mudslinging of the Worst Kind

Where is the evidence to support charges against the Tories’ new ally, asks Stephen Pollard.

There are few things more despicable than anti-Semitism, but here’s one of them: using a false charge of anti-Semitism for political gain. Yet it seems there are few depths to which some will not sink in their desperation to damage David Cameron.

Last month, the Tories’ new European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament elected its first leader, Michal Kaminski, an MEP from Poland’s Law and Justice Party. Mr Kaminski is a mainstream, centre-Right politician who would, were he British, fit naturally into the Atlanticist, free-market wing of the Conservative Party. As the first MEP from Eastern Europe to lead a group in the parliament he is, in many ways, a beacon: a man who was brought up under Communism but who hero-worships Thatcher and Reagan, and a living representation of the freedom brought by the collapse of Communism.

But no sooner had he been elected, than allegations started to be spread, suggesting that he was an anti-Semite. A Tory MEP, Edward McMillan-Scott, justified his decision to stand against Mr Kaminski for the parliament’s vice-presidency (for which he was expelled from his party) by accusing him of having “fascist links” and saying he “symbolised the rise of disguised extremism in Europe”. A New Statesman writer then collected a series of slurs, which were taken up by Denis MacShane MP, the former Europe Minister and now the chairman of the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism. Mr Kaminski was, wrote Mr MacShane, guilty of “Jew-baiting”.

As editor of the Jewish Chronicle, and Mr MacShane’s predecessor at the EISCA, I am more alive than most to anti-Semitism. But there is simply no evidence that Mr Kaminski is an anti-Semite, only a series of politically motivated assertions. The main accusation is that Mr Kaminski “tried to cover up one of the worst anti-Jewish atrocities in wartime Europe”, as Mr McMillan-Scott put it, referring to the 1941 Jedwabne massacre in which a group of Poles murdered their Jewish countrymen. He continued: “In 2001, the then president of Poland organised a national apology, but Kaminski opposed it.”

The intention is clear: to accuse Mr Kaminski of sympathising with the murderers. But this is a grotesque distortion. Mr Kaminski’s argument was that apologising for the collective guilt of Poles let the individual murderers off the hook. Far from trying to cover up the massacre, he was using the president’s apology to make a wider point: that the massacre was not committed by “the Poles” against “the Jews”, but was a vile crime committed by specific individuals against their fellow nationals. If veterans of the Communist era were into apologies, he said, they should apologise for something for which they were responsible, such as the regime’s anti-Semitic campaign of 1968.

A further accusation is that, in an interview, he said that he would apologise only if someone “from the Jewish side” apologised for what “the Jews” did during the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland from 1939 to 1941. Mr Kaminski flatly denies this, and no one has produced a shred of evidence to contradict him.

The other specific claim is that Mr Kaminski was a member of the National Rebirth of Poland, as it is now known. Certainly, that organisation is now anti-Semitic and neo-Fascist. But when he joined it, as a 15 year-old, Poland was under Communist rule, and the Narodowe Odrodzenie Polski was a magnet for many anti-communists as one of the few Polish nationalist groups. Experts say that the group was not anti-Semitic back when Mr Kaminski was a member. And even if it had been, are politicians to be judged on their behaviour as 15 year-olds? Is John Bercow still to be held accountable for the views of the Monday Club?

None of the supposed evidence sticks — but that is because there is another story altogether going on here. Mr McMillan-Scott is a euro-enthusiast, who sought to undermine his own party’s position from the very moment David Cameron announced his intention to pull out of the federalist European People’s Party. To those whose loyalty is, above all else, to a European federation, the new grouping is beyond the pale.

I know myself the tactics that such people use. I worked in Brussels for seven years from 2001. Early on, I condemned the banning of the Belgian far-Right party, the Vlaams Blok, which had a number of elected officials. I argued that, repellent as the party was, democracy meant that it had a right to exist and seek election. From then on, almost any view I expressed on Belgian politics was met with the lie that I was a Vlaams Blok supporter.

Far from being an anti-Semite, Mr Kaminski is about as pro-Israeli an MEP as exists. Ironically, it is Mr McMillan-Scott who has repeatedly called for Israel to engage with Hamas — an organisation which is committed by charter to the destruction of Israel. Yes, the resurgence of anti-Semitism is a serious and worrying issue — but to use it to further your political ends is mudslinging of the most disgusting kind.

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]

UK: Anger at Pakistani Pipe Band Ban

The UK Border Agency has been accused of embarrassing Scotland by refusing entry visas for a Pakistani business delegation and pipe band.

About 30 members of Lahore Pipe Band will be unable to compete in the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow.

A trade delegation from the city, which is twinned with Glasgow, has also been refused visas.

Hanzala Malik, executive member for Glasgow City Council’s international affairs, said the move was “ludicrous”.

It is understood the UK Border Agency turned down visa applications for almost all of those applying for visits to Glasgow from three Pakistani groups.

The Scottish Government expressed concern about the situation.

The majority of the members of the Lahore Pipe Band, who have taken part in the World Pipe Band Championships for the past four years, were refused entry.

A delegation of business people and officials from Lahore was also turned down.

Visa applications were also rejected from members of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Lahore District Government, who had been due to arrive in Glasgow for trade meetings.

Mr Malik, who represents the Hillhead ward, said the decisions had damaged Scotland’s reputation and Glasgow had lost out on valuable income.

“The situation is ludicrous and the applications being approved or turned down are simply not consistent,” he said.

“The city has lost out on important meetings and income as a result of this error.”

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

UK: Big Brother Britain Has More CCTV Cameras Than China

Britain has one and a half times as many surveillance cameras as communist China, despite having a fraction of its population, shocking figures revealed yesterday.

There are 4.2million closed circuit TV cameras here, one per every 14 people.

But in police state China, which has a population of 1.3billion, there are just 2.75million cameras, the equivalent of one for every 472,000 of its citizens.

Simon Davies from pressure group Privacy International said the astonishing statistic highlighted Britain’s ‘worrying obsession’ with surveillance.

‘Britain has established itself as the model state that the Chinese authorities would love to have,’ he said.

‘As far as surveillance goes, Britain has created the blueprint for the 21st century non-democratic regime.

‘It was not intended but it has certainly been the consequence.’

It is estimated that Britain has 20 per cent of cameras globally and that each person in the country is caught on camera an average of 300 times daily.

The Chinese Government revealed the number of cameras it has as it announced plans to expand CCTV surveillance.

It began widespread installation of cameras in 2003 to bolster its system of extreme state control which hails back to the dark days of Chairman Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution.

The government also deploys millions of security personnel, which include uniformed, official security guards who work along side police, patrolling the streets and others who bug phones, scour the internet for sensitive material and block international TV news bulletins.

China’s Public Security Ministry said in the news release that its cameras are the most visible components of police surveillance and notification systems installed around the country.

Most of the cameras are in urban areas, with 265,000 in the capital Beijing alone, but the government said it plans to expand the use of security cameras in the countryside.

It said the increase would ‘put the safety of the broad masses of the people first and foremost.’

It also intends to combine surveillance cameras with new face recognition software, which has raised concerns about how the equipment will be used. It is not clear how many surveillance cameras in China use such software.

Figures released today showed that in Britain the number of Big Brother snooping missions by police, town halls and other public bodies has soared by 44 per cent in two years.

One request is made every minute for officials to spy on someone’s phone records or email accounts.

Last year there were 504,073 new cases — an average of 1,381 a day. It is the equivalent of one adult in 78 coming under state-sanctioned surveillance under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

UK: Car Dealer Was Driving at Twice the Speed Limit in Road Race When He Killed Mother-of-Three in Hit and Run

A car dealer who killed a ‘hard working mother of three’ in a hit and run was branded callous and despicable by the judge who jailed him.

Atif Faiz was driving at twice the speed limit in a road race with another car, when he knocked down Amanda Bailey on a clear, cold winter night, Burnley Crown Court heard.

Rafhan Sarwar, one of the three passengers, described his friend’s ‘stupid heavy driving’ as ‘red lining every gear’, prosecutor Timothy Brennand told the court.

Mr Brennand said the Astra was six seconds behind another car, and that both were going at a ‘grossly excessive speed’.

He said: ‘Witnesses described the vehicles as accelerating hard. One pedestrian had to take evasive action to avoid being hit.’

The other driver of the car managed to drive in front of Faiz, and sped past Ms Bailey, 33.

But the Morrisons supermarket shop assistant — who was on maternity leave — thought it was safe to cross and was half-way over the street when Faiz bore down on her at 60mph.

She was hit on Leeds Road, Nelson, Lancashire, at 11.50pm on February 11 this year and died shortly afterwards.

Mr Brennand said: ‘There’s some evidence the car attempted to swerve just before the incident but whatever evasive action was taken was too little, too late.’

Faiz and his companions failed to call an ambulance or stop at the scene, he said.

Mr Brennand said that ‘none of them demonstrated any humanity or compassion’ and branded their flight from the scene and subsequent silence during police questioning as ‘shameful’.

The court heard that passenger Mohammed Tehseen Zaman, 19, confessed to two friends that he had been involved in a hit and run.

Another one of the passengers, Mohammed Zaheer Rashid, returned to the scene to find out what the police knew.

Mr Brennand said the group were returning from Huddersfield, where they had bought a car for Mohammed Tehseen Zaman’s father.

He said Ms Bailey, whose daughters are aged 11 months, three and 13, was well-liked.

Mr Brennand said: ‘She was well known, well respected, a hard working mother-of-three.’

Faiz, who has a six-week old child, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

The 23-year-old, of Leeds Road, Nelson, was jailed for three years. He also received a consecutive four-month sentence for assaulting a man in July last year.

Zaman, also of Leeds Road, was sentenced to 16 months in a young offenders’ institution after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice.

Judge Beverley Lunt told Faiz: ‘Any human being who could treat another so callously can only be described as despicable.’

She added: ‘If you have any conscience, you should be haunted every day of your life by what you have done and the hurt you have caused.’

Mohammed Zaheer Rashid, 24, of Burns Street, and Rafhan Sarwar, 19, of Charles Street, both Nelson, who pleaded not guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, were discharged by Judge Lunt.

She told them: ‘You acted dishonourably in this case and will have to live with the shame and with everyone knowing you acted with no honour for the rest of your lives.’

Ms Bailey’s mother, Joan Smith, 53, who is raising her daughter’s children, criticised the sentence.

Speaking outside court, she said: ‘Three years for a life is not justice. I’m really disgusted.

‘I feel sorry for them (the defendants) because if I put myself in their position I think I’d be frightened and panic but I’d never have left the body in the road, I wouldn’t do that to a dog or a cat so I wouldn’t do it to a human being.’

Detective Inspector Pete Broome, from Lancashire Police’s major investigation team, said: ‘Faiz’s actions that night led to the death of a young woman who had so much to live for.

‘His actions have not only left three young children without a mother, but a mother and father without their much loved daughter.

‘This case highlights the stupidity of reckless, break-neck speeding, which played a huge part in this tragic incident. The terrible consequences of this collision should serve as a strong warning to people not to do this.’

Elizabeth Reed, division crown prosecutor for Burnley, said: ‘This case serves as a reminder of the terrible consequences of driving in such a reckless way that other people’s lives are endangered.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

UK: Chinese Tourist ‘Raped’ After Being Offered Free Bed for the Night From Man on ‘Couchsurfing’ Website

A woman of 29 was raped by a man who offered her free accommodation through a website aimed at helping travellers, a court has heard.

She arranged to stay with Abdelali Nachet through after using the site to stay with strangers across Europe without any problems.

But her brief stay in Leeds turned into a nightmare, it was alleged.

Nachet, 34, took her back to his flat, threatened to kill her and raped her twice during a ‘degrading and humiliating’ ordeal that lasted throughout the night.

Prosecutor Simon Phillips said the woman tried to escape but tripped up in the hall and Nachet told her: ‘If you try to run away I will kill you and after that I will kill myself.’

He added: ‘She felt in very real and genuine fear that she was at risk of being murdered by this defendant.

‘She submitted, she never consented. He was aware of this but was persistent. He went on and on for a long time.’

The woman from Hong Kong had recently completed a trip to Italy and Spain using the same worldwide hospitality website which enables travellers to fix up free accommodation with volunteers offering themselves as hosts.

She had also used it in France and had stayed with another single man in Birmingham without incident.

More…Pictured: The woman killed in double murder as police quiz girl, 15, and 41-year-old man

Mr Phillips said: ‘This site enables travellers to find free accommodation with like-minded individuals, people interested in travelling, people who want to meet new people, interested in hosting people overseas, showing them some hospitality and perhaps showing them the area where they live.

‘It’s a recognised forum for finding accommodation. There is nothing disreputable about it.’

The woman wanted to visit Leeds and emailed Nachet, a Moroccan, after spotting his entry on the website. Nachet said on his site profile he worked in marketing and would

offer Moroccan hospitality and show visitors a ‘good time’.

Volunteer host: The unnamed woman arranged to stay with Nachet through after using the site to stay with strangers across Europe

She travelled from Birmingham by bus on March 5 and was met by Nachet at around 6pm, Leeds Crown Court heard.

He took her for a drink in a cafe and they then made a meal together at his two-bedroom city flat.

Afterwards she asked to use the internet to make her next booking. He was playing music and began dancing.

He asked her to join him and when she said she was not good at dancing, he said he would show her.

Mr Phillips said he held her and began to get very close. She did not like it and said she had to get back on the internet.

Later the woman was getting ready to go to bed and Nachet knocked on the door and offered to show her some family photographs, the court heard.

To be polite she agreed and followed him into the bedroom. The light was suddenly turned off and he allegedly attacked her.

Nachet allegedly made the woman have a bath after the rapes to get rid of incriminating forensic evidence.

Mr Phillips said the morning after Nachet did some vacuuming before leaving the flat with the woman.

She got on a bus back to the West Midlands and alerted police after telling a male friend she had met on what had happened.

The jury heard the night after the alleged rape, two women and a man Nachet had met on the same website had travelled to Leeds to stay at his flat.

Mr Phillips said Nachet started dancing with one of the women and tried to touch her breasts.

Nachet denies two counts of rape and one of sexual assault. When arrested he

claimed she consented.

The jury watched a recorded police interview in which the woman gave a graphic account of the sex attack speaking through a translator.

She said she trusted the couchsurfing website and thought it was a ‘reliable’ tool for travellers.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

UK: Diplomat’s Nanny Lifts Lid on Modern Slavery

A woman who claimed she was beaten and sexually assaulted by a diplomat and his royal wife, who brought her to London, has spoken of her fear of reprisals.

The 23-year-old, who has been granted refugee status, is owed more than £20,000 following an employment tribunal order, but has been unable to get justice as the couple have returned home.

The woman said she had been treated as little more than a slave after having been promised paid work as a nanny, a room in the couple’s magnificent house and days off to enjoy London. Instead, she alleged, they violently beat her, sexually assaulted her and locked her away to work 19-hour days for no pay.

The couple, whose identity is known to the IoS, cannot be named as the victim fears reprisals. She said that they had had her followed after she escaped from their home last year, and have subjected her and her family to death threats.

[Comments from JD: No mention of country of origin of the couple.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Government to Savage: You Can’t Think That!

United Kingdom tells talk radio icon to ‘repudiate’ views

The government in the United Kingdom has dispatched a letter to talk radio icon Michael Savage that he must “repudiate” the views the government has attributed to him before he even can be considered for removal from a banned-in-Britain government list.

“It was emphasized that the onus is on your client to publicly renounce the statements which formed the basis of the decision to exclude him,” said a recent letter from the Litigation and Employment Group at the Treasury Solicitor’s Department in London.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Mass Brawl Between Right-Wing Group and Anti-Fascists as Race Riots Spill Onto Streets of Birmingham

Down on his knees as his attackers’ feet fly in, this man’s face was left a bloodied mess.

It was just one of the sickening scenes photographed when a riot erupted in a city centre after Right-wing protesters clashed with anti-fascist demonstrators.

Bottles, sticks and banners were thrown as police in riot gear struggled to stop the skirmishes in Birmingham. In all, 35 people were arrested — mainly for disorder.

Police knew both demonstrations were planned and let them go ahead as a sign of ‘a healthy democracy’.

Witness Gary Nichols said: ‘It started off with a group of white guys who were chanting, “England, England”. I thought they were just football fans, but then a larger group of black and Asian people turned up and it all kicked off. You had people burning the Union flag. People were being kicked, some weren’t anything to do with the protests.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Strategy to Tackle Extremists to Focus on White Racists

Britain’s central strategy for combating extremism is being shaken up to focus on white racist groups as well as radical Muslims.

Shahid Malik, the communities minister, said that the “Prevent” strategy is being reformed and partially renamed to avoid alienating British Muslims.

Prevent was launched in 2006 as part of the Government’s four “Ps” anti-terror agenda — Prevent, Pursue, Protect and Prepare.

It aims to combat extremism by promoting “community cohesion” among all sections of society, but is widely seen as focusing predominantly on British Muslims.

Scotland Yard warned last month that such groups could be planning a terrorist “spectacular” to stoke up racial tensions amid the economic downturn.

The Met’s counter-terrorism command has increased the number of officers in a special unit monitoring Right-wing extremists because of the threat.

Mr Malik said: “We are broadening our approach to involve all communities in developing shared values to strengthen cohesion.

“This includes putting a renewed focus on resisting right-wing, racist extremism, based on strengthening communities to help keep everyone safe.”

Mr Malik said that aspects of the Government’s approach to extremism have alienated some British Muslims.

He told Sky News: “You speak to any Muslim on the street anywhere in this country and they will say they are as opposed as you and I are to extremism, to terrorism, but the frustration is that they are constantly linked with terrorism as a community as a whole.”

He went on: “It is not just about the Muslim, it is actually about everybody in our society having a role to play and we cannot dismiss or underestimate the threat from the far right.

“There are white areas which are severely neglected. What we want to do is engage in those white communities to make sure that they are listened to, they feel they are respected, they are part of our community and in that sense they don’t feel there is some unfairness in how government operates, in how public authorities operate.”

“What we want to do is to liberate and to empower Muslims, and people who live in white neighbourhoods as well, to stand up to extremist voices. They are in all communities; it is not just a problem of one religion.”

In 2007, the Government launched “Preventing Violent Extremism,” an action plan for Muslim communities.

Mr Malik yesterday said that the title had offended some Muslims and would no longer be used.

“The label preventing violent extremism for the funding is said to be a problem because it’s said to stigmatise and perhaps criminalise a whole community, in this case the Muslim community,” he said. “That’s not something we seek to do, that label has now disappeared.”

Mr Malik spoke after a think tank said that the Prevent strategy focuses too much on Islamic fanatics.

The Prevent strategy is alienating the Muslim community and should be widened to tackle all extremists, including the Far Right, according to the New Local Government Network. (NLGN)

Its report, Reassessing Prevent, highlights the recent election of two BNP representatives to the European Parliament as well as 55 local councillors around the country “underlines the fact that racial hatred and extremist ideology is not limited to any one faith or community”.

Anna Turley, author of the report, said: “While Islamist extremism remains a very serious threat to our security, this kind of extremism is not the only threat to the stability and security of our communities.”

           — Hat tip: The Frozen North [Return to headlines]


Bosnia: Tunisian Terrorist to be Deported

Sarajevo, 10 August (AKI) — A Tunisian terrorist Karray Kamel bin Ali, known as Abu Hamza, who was arrested by Bosnian police on Friday night, will be deported when he completes his jail term, local media reported on Monday.

Hamza, 43, has been serving a four year jail term for assault in central Bosnian city of Zenica. He was previously convicted for terrorist activities in Tunisia.

He was granted a one week leave in July, but failed to return to prison on 27 July.

Bosnian police and Interpol issued a warrant for his arrest and he was apprehended by police on Friday.

Sarajevo daily Dnevni avaz quoted officials as saying he would be deported from the country after serving the rest of his term.

“It’s very unlikely that he will be granted any more leave before serving his term,” director of Zenica jail Nihad Spahic was quoted as saying.

The police said Hamza was aided by his common law wife and three Bosnian men, who were arrested.

Hamza was among thousands of mujahadeen who came from Islamic countries to fight with local Muslims during Bosnia’s 1992-1995 civil war.

Many have remained in the country, married local women and obtained Bosnian citizenship.

Bosnian authorities have revoked the citizenship of several hundred people, after reports that some former mujahadeen were indoctrinating young people with radical Islam and even operating terrorist training camps.

Dnevni avaz said Hamza would be deported to his home country when his jail term ends next year.

Hamza was sentenced to 12 years in prison in Tunisia for terrorist activities and has already served a seven-year sentence in Bosnia for murder and racketeering.

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

Kosovo: Islamists Block Web Site for Reporting Muslim Terrorism in America

The editor of a Kosovo newspaper says he suspects that Islamist radicals attacked the paper’s Web site because it reported on the trial of a Kosovo Albanian accused in the U.S. of plotting terrorist acts.

Berat Buzhala says the Web site of the daily Express was blocked for ten hours early Tuesday and hackers left a warning to “stop ridiculing” Islam. Buzhala says the incident has been reported to the authorities.

Express covered the trial of Hysen Sherifi, 24, a member of a group of seven terrorism suspects led by Daniel Patrick Boyd. Sherifi was the only non-U.S. citizen among the accused, who were arrested in North Carolina on suspicion of military style training and gearing up for a “violent jihad.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Abduction and Forced Islamization of Christian Coptic Girls Continues in Egypt

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — The systematic abduction and forced Islamization of Coptic minor girls in Egypt is a frequent, dangerous and a rapidly escalating phenomenon, The problem was brought to light by the Coptic Pope Shenouda III as far back as December 17th, 1976, when he protested during a conference held in Alexandria that “there is pressure being practiced to convert Coptic girls to embrace Islam and marry them under terror to Muslim husbands” and demanded that the abducted girls be brought back to their families.

Dr. Waheed Ala, renowned Coptic activist and researcher at the Observatory of Religions in Switzerland, believes that the issue of abducted Coptic girls forms the most complex problem in the relations between Christians and Muslims of Egypt — especially because abductions are done in cooperation between Saudi-funded associations and the Egyptian State Security.

These frequent abduction cases are reported by Coptic human rights advocacies but rarely by the main stream media, and when, they are mostly portrayed as ‘an elopement of a loving teen couple.’

Another recent victim of abduction is 15-year old Marian Bishay, who went out on July 15, 2009 to get dinner for her mother and young brothers from a local restaurant, 50 meters away from where she lives in Omrania, Giza, but failed to return home. The local police succumbed to pressure and issued a missing person report after initially refusing.

The Bishay family, whose father works in Kuwait, reported the matter to Free Copts advocacy in Cairo, asking for support. According to activist Osama Eid “the police just shrugged their shoulders and said there is nothing we can do, you search — which we actually did.”

When the abducted girl’s father, Amir Bishay, returned from Kuwait due to the incident, the police refused to issue another report under the pretext that they investigated the initial report with no results. The police also released three suspects who worked at that same restaurant.

“We had to participate with Marian’s family in their search” said Osama Eid. “We found out that the owner of the restaurant and one of his co-workers, who were under suspicion, disappeared when they knew that the matter was becoming serious, as the rest of the Bishay family came to Giza from Upper Egypt.”

Being unsuccessful in filing another report with the police, father Amir Bishay filed a complaint with the Attorney-General against three of the owners of the “Momen” restaurant in Omrania. He accused them of abducting his minor daughter.

According to Free Copts, the Bishay family intend to protest through a sit-in at the Coptic Dioceses of Giza, objecting to the failure and neglect of state security with regards to Marian’s case. “Especially because at the same time a Muslim girl was abducted by a registered criminal and was returned within three days, while the fate of Marian is still unknown,” says Eid.

The family has received conflicting reports of Marian’s whereabouts; some reports said she was raped and forced to convert to Islam, while others said that she was kept in Alexandria against her will.

Commenting on this case, renowned attorney Ramsis El Naggar said that according to Article 271, the abduction of a minor is punishable by 15 years imprisonment, and the penalty is increased if it was combined with rape.

‘It is strange that the State agencies abide by silence and protect the criminals who kidnap the girls, and that they put pressure on us so that we do not even call for the State to play its role in protecting its citizens,” said Dr. Waheed Ala, “We have noticed that when the kidnapped girl is a Muslim, the security agencies get active and work hard and arrest the kidnappers who then face trials and get imprisoned, but this does not happen when the kidnapped girl is a Coptic Christian. This is especially true because in the majority of cases, the State Security is the one who masterminds the kidnapping plans.”

In another case of abduction of a Christian Coptic girl, Mamdouh Nakhlah, attorney and President of “Al Kalema” human rights organization said that his Center, had received a plea for help from the brother of minor Reda Botros Samaan who disappeared on July 22, 2009 on her way to sit for her exams, in Dayrout, Assuit. Nakhla had to complain to the Minister of Interior on July 24 as the police refused to issued a report.

“After state security investigated, it was found out that although she was a minor, she converted to Islam,” said attorney Nakhlah. He explained that it is not allowed to entice a minor to change her religion, even of her own free will. “A minor does not have full power of consent, and his/her will is not considered in matters such as travel, marriage, banking, so it should not be taken in matter of changing of one’s religion, which is the most significant than the rest. A child follows his parent’s religion until he comes of age, then he/she has the right to change freely without being under the tutelage of anyone.”

Reports of tens of cases of kidnappings of minor girls from Christian families takes place every year, with very little, if any, success in getting them back to their families, and not one single person accused of abduction of Coptic girls has been brought to justice.

Reports on the disappearances in July 2009 which were reported to Coptic advocacies brought no positive news. The whereabouts of Irene Hanna Labib (AINA 7-18-2009), Amira Morgan and Ingy Basta (AINA 7-30-2009) is still unknown, despite their families efforts in locating them.

After years of denial, Dr. Mustafa Al-Fiqee, member in the Parliament and the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament, raised the issue of kidnapped Coptic girls in his article in the semi-official Al-Ahram newspaper “The Era Dialogue….All in One” published on January 7, 2008, in which he confessed that there are dozens of cases of “kidnapped minor girls from some Christian families.”

“The most important point in Dr. Mustafa Al-Feqee’s declaration is that he emphasized, without any doubt, that what the Copts of Egypt — both at home and in the Diaspora — say about the kidnapping of minor Christian girls is the truth.” commented Dr. Waheed Ala. “It is not lies, and it is not done to tarnish Egypt’s reputation. They simply demand that the State addresses this dangerous phenomenon. What tarnish the reputation of Egypt are the agencies of the Interior Ministry, with all their various specializations; the complicity of Al-Azhar, and the incitement and financing from Saudi Arabia.”

[Return to headlines]

Bars, Discos Steadily Closing in Algeria as Islamic Rules Tighten

ALGIERS, ALGERIA — All through the 1990s, when Islamic militants waged a ferocious war on the Algerian state and nightlife died in the city that once called itself “The Paris of Africa,” the Hanani bar and restaurant stayed open. It was “an act of resistance,” says owner Achour Ait Oussaid.

Yet today, at a time when the bloodshed has ebbed, local authorities have shuttered the hole-in-the-wall bar. “This same state has done what the Islamists never managed to do,” Ait Oussaid said, standing amid abandoned tables and empty shelves gathering dust.

At least 40 bars, restaurants and nightclubs have been closed in the past year around Algiers alone, according to local media. The government insists that the closures are strictly a matter of safety and hygiene, but suspicion is widespread that Muslim conservative pressure is to blame.

Ait Oussaid, a Muslim like almost all of Algeria’s 32 million people, contends that officials caved in to a petition circulated in his seaside neighborhood of La Perouse demanding that the Muslim prohibition of alcohol be enforced.

Many see this as one of a series of measures the government is taking in Algiers and other cities to soothe Muslim sensitivities and isolate the militants who still carry out bombings and assassinations.

The North African country has a history of tolerance and secular-leaning government, but its nightlife has gone through several ups and downs.

When it was a French colony it boasted countless classy nightclubs and restaurants. The fun went on in the early years of independence in the 1960s, lost its flair when doctrinaire socialists ran the country, made an exuberant comeback, and then was devastated by the so-called “Black Decade” of Islamic violence and government countermeasures that left up to 200,000 dead.

The fighting erupted in 1992 when the army canceled elections that Islamic candidates were expected to win. In the ensuing years, bars, nightclubs and anything else the militants deemed Western could be targeted.

Ait Oussaid says he defied death threats to keep Hanani open. “For me, it was an act of resistance, a way to defend the Algerian state,” he said.

Youcef Kerdache, a construction entrepreneur who still drops by Hanani for old times sake, calls the bar a victim of “the ostentatious Islamization of Algerian society.”

Mohamed El Kebir, Algiers’ regional governor, declined to comment for this report, but speaking to the French-language Liberte newspaper, he said safety regulations are the only consideration, not “religion or other pressures.”

Still, other signs point to increasing enforcement of a stricter, more visible version of Islam. Several workers were prosecuted last fall for smoking in public during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Groups of Algerian Muslims have recently been put on trial for converting to Christianity.

Censorship of sexual content on national TV has become stricter, and although women aren’t officially obligated to cover their heads, students at provincial universities complain of being pressured to wear head scarves.

While the affluent elite can unwind at Algiers’ costly private clubs or international hotels, the closures appear to be hitting lower-income neighborhoods hardest.

In the Boumerdes province next to Algiers, Gov. Brahim Merad has pledged not to approve a single liquor license. “Even better; I won’t miss a single opportunity to close the existing establishments,” the French-language El Watan newspaper quoted him as saying in June.

Rundown Boumerdes remains one of Algeria’s most violent areas, with several killings and roadside bombings a week on average, blamed on Al-Qaida-linked militants.

The program of “national reconciliation” put forward by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in 2005 is widely credited with ending the worst of the civil strife. But Rachid Tlemcani, a political science professor at Algiers University says: “We’re witnessing the slow growth and triumph of Islamism through society.”

Conservatives, he charged, “are nibbling at Algerian values, and authorities are following suit.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

American Government Website ‘Ignores Jews’

‘It’s as if U.S. is totally denying the existence of Israel’

TEL AVIV — The website for the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem ignores Jews and the state of Israel while providing news and services geared primarily toward Arabs and Palestinians, a pro-Israel group has charged.

“This disclosure is almost beyond belief,” stated Harvey Schwartz, chairman of American Israeli Action Coalition. “It is as if the United States is totally denying the existence of Israel or Israelis. We do not believe that this is in accordance with the will of the American people.”

The Coalition sent around blast e-mails pointing out the consulate website maintains an Arabic section but not a Hebrew one and that almost the entire website is dedicated to helping the Palestinian cause.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Palestinian Sues UK Comedian for “Bruno” Slur

A Palestinian man who previously vowed to sue British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen for presenting him as a “terrorist” in his hit movie Bruno has put his words to action and on Monday filed a lawsuit.

Ayman Abu Aita told Al Arabiya he was swindled when Cohen pretended to be a German journalist filming a documentary about Palestine.

Aita filed a lawsuit demanding that the scene in which he appears is removed because it stereotypes an entire people and that the movie is censored.

“This scene is not only about me. It concerns the entire Palestinian people. I also demand compensation because he insulted us.”

“I met him at Everest Hotel in Beit Jala,” Aita told Al Arabiya. “I asked the crew about the movie and they told me it aims at communicating the Palestinian cause to youths around the world. I trusted them and Cohen interviewed me for two hours and a half.”

Aita added Cohen’s questions were “normal” and did not indicate any foul play. However at the end of the interview Aita was taken by surprise when Cohen asks to be kidnapped.

During his interview with Abu Aita, Cohen asks to be kidnapped and suggests he and his colleagues shave their beards because “your king Osama looks like some king of dirty wizard or a homeless Santa,” referring to Osama Bin Laden.

“I told him that we are a civilized people and not terrorists,” Aita replied.

Aita decided to sue Cohen after a scene in the movie portrayed him as a leader of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, one Palestinian faction group. Cohen also said he has been coordinating with the CIA for three years to meet this “terrorist.”


Cohen’s films have generated a string of lawsuits from unwitting victims hoodwinked by the comedian.

But Aita also accused Cohen of propagating lies, claiming that Aita was armed and accompanied by armed men and that they met in a deserted place.

“If I had been armed, this would have been obvious in the interview. I had only two men with me, one was American and the other is a journalist, and we met in a well-known hotel,” Aita said.

But what revealed Cohen’s lies, said Aita, was the fact that Cohen missed an important fact, mainly that it was impossible for Aita to be an Islamist “terrorist” supporting al-Qaeda since he was Christian.

“He did not know that I am Christian” Aita clarified.

Aita, who comes from the town of Beit Sahour east of Bethlehem, spent around nine years in Israeli jails on charges of affiliation to Fatah. His house was demolished in the 1980s and he is now a political activist.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iran Leaders Pave Way for Messianic ‘Mahdi’

5th annual confab brings together politics, religion, apocalyptic endtimes visions

Iran last week held a multi-day conference, bringing together politicians, mullahs, students — Shiite and Sunni alike — to plot what can be done on this earthly plane to hasten the coming of the anointed one, a messianic, endtimes personage known as the Mahdi.

It wasn’t a conference covered by the western press.


While some involved in Mahdism see the figure as a peace-loving global world leader, others within the movement reveal another side.

Last year, for instance, Ali Larijani, the chairman and speaker of the Iranian Parliament quoted Imam Muhammad Baqir, a famous Muslim scholar, as saying, “there must be bloodshed and jihad to establish Imam Mahdi’s rule.” Ayatollah Ibrahim al Amini, professor at the Religious Learning Center at Qom affirms Larijani when he states, “The Mahdi will offer the religion of Islam to the Jews and Christians; if they accept it they will be spared, otherwise they will be killed.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Iran: Senior Official Slams ‘Western Meddling’

Tehran, 10 August (AKI) — A top Iranian official on Monday accused western nations of “meddling” in Iran’s internal affairs for criticising the mass trial of moderates accused of spying after unrest since the disputed presidential polls. Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi also accused the West of trying to overthrow Iran’s clerical system of government.

“Do we interfere in other countries’ state matters? Why should they interfere in ours? Iran will strongly resist such meddling,” Qashqavi told a weekly news conference.

“Why don’t they (the West) leave us and our people alone?”

Qashqavi criticised the UK in particular for allegedly harbouring key “terrorists” including members of the opposition Monarchy Organization of Iran.

Hundreds of moderates and opposition supporters were arrested during weeks of street protests following Iran’s 12 June election, which defeated opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi and others allege were rigged to ensure the re-election of hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

A hundred people are facing trial on various charges, including conspiracy, rioting and vandalism allegedly committed during the protests.

Mousavi and Iran’s former reformist president Mohammad Khatami have denounced the hearings, which began at the start of August.

The former head of Khatami’s presidential office, Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Ali Abtahi, and renowned reformist journalist Mohammad Atrianfar, were among 20 reformists arraigned at the hearings.

A Frenchwoman and two Iranians working for the British embassy and the French embassy in Tehran have been charged with spying and assisting a western plot to overthrow Iran’s clerical rulers.

Qashqavi said comments by Frenchwoman Clotilde Reiss and two Iranians working for the French and British embassies proved foreign intervention in Iran’s affairs. He denied confessions made by Reiss and British employee Hossein Rassam were made under duress.

Qashqavi reiterated that Tehran has no plan to cut its relations with countries that have tried to “interfere” with Iran’s post-election events, particularly Britain.

But he said that other options, including expelling diplomats, could be put on the table.

Qashqavi also hit back at an “illegal and surprising” statement by the European Union’s Swedish presidency calling for an immediate release of the British and French embassy employees.

The Swedish EU presidency said also said actions against one EU countries or citizen were considered an act against the entire 27-nation bloc.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Sunday urged the judiciary to put on trial Mousavi and another defeated presidential candidate, Mehdi Karoubi, and Khatami for orchestrating protests after the June poll.

Karoubi has alleged that some women and men detained in post-election protests had been “savagely raped” in jail.

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

Iran: Jailers Raped Men and Women, Iranian Opposition Leader Says

Mehdi Karroubi says detained anti-government protests were brutally raped. Victims are said to suffer physical and psychological damage. He has called on Ayatollah Rafsanjani to consult Supreme Leader Khamenei for an in-depth investigation.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Jailers raped men and women involved in anti-government protest with such savagery that they have suffered “serious physical and mental damage.” Opposition leader and presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi made the allegation in a letter to ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in which he demanded an investigation..

Karroubi, one of two pro-reform candidates defeated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the disputed June 12 presidential election, said senior officials had informed him of the “shameful behaviour” that took place in prison.

Noting that both male and female detainees were raped, he called on Mr Rafsanjani to consult the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei about the allegations.

As a result of protests that followed the presidential elections, Iranian authorities arrested more than 200 people, many of whom are still in jail.

“Detained girls have been sexually assaulted with . . . brutality”, Karroubi lamented.

“Young men in detention were also sexually assaulted in such a way that some are now suffering from depression and other physical and psychological problems,” he added.

“Even if one account is true, it would be a tragedy for the Islamic Republic . . . and it would whitewash the sins of many dictatorships, including that of the deposed Shah,” Karroubi said.

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

Islam’s Mahdi: Bringer of Peace or War?

Imagine for a moment, if you would, that each year the American president, vice president, Congress and the Senate gathered together to strategize with Christian leaders to discuss how to “introduce Jesus Christ to the world and pave the way for his return.” As surreal as this may sound, this is in effect what happens each year in Iran. But instead of paving the way for Jesus, the Iranians are paving the way for both the Islamic “Mahdi” and Jesus.

When the newly elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stood before the U.N. General Assembly in 2005, very few in attendance understood what he was talking about when he prayed for the soon return of his messiah figure known as the “Mahdi.” Four years later, many in the world media are still in the dark concerning who or what the Mahdi is.

Last week, the leaders of Iran held their Fifth Annual Conference on Mahdism Doctrine…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Kuwait “Foils US Army Base Plot”

Kuwaiti officials say they have arrested six members of a “terrorist network”, linked to al-Qaeda, who were planning to attack a US military base.

An interior ministry statement said that all six Kuwaitis had confessed to the crimes after they were arrested.

The statement said they had also planned to bomb the headquarters of Kuwait’s internal security agency.

It mentioned other “important facilities” in the oil-rich emirate, but gave no further details.

“The state security has uncovered a terrorist network following al-Qaeda, and includes six (Kuwaiti) citizens who have planned to carry out a plan to bomb Arifjan Camp, the state security building and other important facilities,” the ministry said.

Al-Arabiya television said the group was plotting the attack for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts on about 20 August.

Camp Arifjan, a vast, purpose-built $200m (£120m) camp south of Kuwait City, is the main US base in Kuwait.

The heavily protected camp houses 15,000 US soldiers and is used as a logistics base for troops serving in Iraq.

Previous attacks against Americans in Kuwait include an incident in October 2002, when two Kuwaitis opened fire on US Marines, killing one.

The following year, a civil servant killed an American contractor and severely wounded another when he ambushed their car near a US army camp.

Six Kuwaitis and stateless Arabs were sentenced to life in prison in 2007 for planning attacks on US troops and Kuwaiti security personnel.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

Rebels Battle Yemeni Army Near Saudi Border Post

Shiite rebels battled Yemeni government troops Tuesday near a key border crossing with Saudi Arabia in a widening conflict that threatens to further destabilize this key U.S. ally in the battle against al-Qaida.

The latest round of fighting is a major escalation in the five-year-old rebellion in northern Saada province, which pits Shiite Muslims against a Sunni-led government. The province borders predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia.

The new threat from the northern rebels comes as the impoverished Arabian peninsula country is already battling a separate uprising to the south and a resurgent al-Qaida. The Yemeni government has little authority in the mountainous areas outside the major cities.

The stability of Yemen, the ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden, is a key concern for both Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Saudi fears the conflict could make the kingdom’s own disgruntled Shiite tribes directly across the border more restive.

But Ali Seif Hassan, executive director of Political Development Forum in San’a, said Saudi Arabia also sees the Shiite rebel movement as a buffer against the growth of al-Qaida militants.

In January, Sunni militants announced the creation of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a merger between the terror network’s Yemeni and Saudi branches. Over the past year, al-Qaida has been blamed for a string of attacks, including an assault on the U.S. Embassy in San’a and two suicide bombings targeting South Koreans.

The conflict between Shiite rebels and Yemen’s Sunni-led government has added significance for many Arab countries who are worried about the rising influence of Shiite Iran in the Middle East.

Shiites in Yemen complain the government ignores their needs and has allowed Wahhabis _ people adhering to a strict version of Sunni Islam found in neighboring Saudi Arabia _ too strong of a voice in the country. The Wahhabis gained influence after helping the Yemeni government win the 1994 civil war with the secessionist south.

Over the past few weeks, local officials and rebels say the rebels have taken control of more of Saada province from government forces. Last week, they seized a key army post near Saada’s provincial capital on a strategic highway linking the capital San’a with Saudi Arabia after 12 hours of intense combat. They have also taken control of several more towns.

On Tuesday, local officials said the rebels seized key army posts near Al-Malahidh crossing, some 13 miles (20 kilometers) south of the Saudi border. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

A rebel spokesman confirmed the fighting but said the rebels don’t intend to seize the border post. Mohammed Abdel-Salam told The Associated Press by telephone from Saada that the rebels are only fighting for improved living conditions and to push the Yemeni army from the province.

“We will continue the fight until the army is withdrawn from the province,” he said. “We are only defending ourselves.”

A representative of the UN’s refugee agency said Tuesday the organization had seen an increase of people in recent days fleeing the Malahidh area.

The government has not commented on the claims of rebel advances. But on Monday President Ali Abdullah Saleh described the rebels’ offensive as “criminal acts and violations” and urged residents of Saada to resist.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

Yemen Welcomes Cleric Expelled From US

Yemen staged a warm welcome on Tuesday for an ailing Muslim cleric expelled from the United States after originally being sentenced to 75 years in jail for supporting terrorism.

Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad returned home after a U.S. federal judge on Friday ordered his deportation, along with his assistant and bodyguard Mohammed Zayed.

Three Yemeni government ministers, including the foreign, justice and human rights ministers, as well as tribal chiefs and political leaders were on hand at Sanaa airport to greet the men, an AFP correspondent said.

The ailing 61-year-old, who according to his American lawyer is dying from various ailments including cirrhosis, made no public comments after his arrival and was immediately taken to hospital for medical tests, relatives said.

“This is a big day,” one of them said on condition of anonymity.

The former imam of Sanaa’s main mosque, Moayad was arrested with Zayed in Frankfurt, Germany in 2003, and subsequently the pair were extradited to the United States where they were tried on charges of supporting terrorism.

At the time of their arrest, then U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said that Moayad admitted giving al-Qaeda terror network chief Osama bin Laden $20 million dollars before the Sept. 11 2001 attacks on the United States.

But the defense team insisted that the claim was tainted by the main informant’s lack of credibility, with one of the U.S. lawyers, William Goodman, saying the U.S. government tried to “entrap” Moayad.

In 2005 the pair were found guilty of supporting terrorism, and Moayad was sentenced to 75 years in jail, while his assistant received an equally lengthy prison term.

In October a U.S. court of appeal overturned Moayad and Zayed’s convictions, stating that the judge in the 2005 case allowed evidence during the trial that tainted the jury against the defendants.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Ex-Nepal PM Urges Anti-US Unity

Former Nepalese Prime Minister Prachanda says Asian countries should develop a unified security strategy to combat US influence in South Asia.

In an interview with the BBC, he said India, China and Nepal should work together to counter American power.

The Maoist, who was a rebel leader before becoming prime minister, was speaking during a visit to Britain.

Prachanda resigned in May over the Nepalese president’s decision to reinstate the army chief he had sacked.

Speaking at the Nepalese embassy in London, Prachanda said the emerging Asian economies should rely less on the West, especially the United States.

He said being the sole super power, the US was trying to have a greater influence in Asia, but India and China should come together to provide security and prosperity to their people.

New constitution

Prachanda, who became prime minister in 2008, said Delhi was wrong to think that he was closer to communist China than to India.

He said he wanted a good relationship with both neighbouring countries.

Prachanda acknowledged that India supported the dialogue between his Maoists and other political parties, after the Nepalese King Gyandendra assumed direct power in 2005.

But then, he said, Delhi lost its warmth towards the Maoists when historic elections resulted in him becoming prime minister.

On the domestic front, he said his party was striving to change the basic structure of Nepal through the Constituent Assembly, which would authorise a new constitution for Nepal.

He rejected any possibility of the restoration of monarchy, which was abolished in May 2008 after 240 years.

He said that over 90% of people were opposed to it.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

India: US, Canada Issue Travel Alerts Urging High Level of Vigilance

New Delhi, Aug. 11: The US and Canada have issued travel alerts to its citizens visiting India, warning them of possible terrorist attacks and urging to maintain a high level of vigilance ahead of the Independence Day.

‘American citizens are advised to be alert to the continued possibility of terrorist attacks. There is a continuing threat from terrorism throughout India and the upcoming series of major holidays could provide terrorist groups an opportunity or pretext to stage an attack,’ a travel alert on the US Embassy website said.

Meanwhile, Canadian officials have urged their citizens to avoid crowded places, and to take appropriate steps to increase their personal security.

‘Canadians travelling to India should be particularly vigilant in the lead up to and on days of national significance, as militants have used such occasions to mount attacks in the past,’ a travel alert on the Canadian Embassy website said.

‘In the lead up to Independence Day, the Indian government has increased security throughout the country, particularly in the cities of Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad,’ it added.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Yudhoyono Warns That Terrorists Are Planning More Attacks

The Indonesian president’s residence tops terrorists’ target list. Police sources say that Malaysian terrorist Noordin is “still alive and on the run”. More is now known about the recent attacks against Jakarta hotels.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — For President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who spoke to a hundreds of lawmakers from his party in his private residence in Cikeas (Bogor Regency), the nation must be ready to “face new terrorist attacks” by Muslim terrorists “inspired by the famous Malaysian terrorist Noordin Moh Top”. More and more, the announcement of his death is raising more doubts than certainties.

President Yudhoyono’s remarks come at a time of whirling rumours about the real fate of Muslim terrorist Noordin, who was allegedly killed in a police raid last Saturday in Temanggung, about 80 kilometres from Semarang, the capital of Central Java.

Noordin is blamed for a number of terrorist actions: the 2003 attack against the Marriot Hotel in Jakarta, the 2004 attack against the Australian Embassy, a number of attacks involving restaurants in Bali in 2005, as well as attacks against two hotels in the Indonesian capital last 17 July.

Sources in the Indonesian police claim that the body thought to be that of Noordin Moh Top is in fact that of Ibrohim (aka Boim), the florist from the Marriot Hotel who vanished after the 17 July bomb attack. An anonymous police source said that “Noordin is still alive and on the run.”

Rumours over the Malaysian terrorist’s fate began as a result of statements made by two suspects a few hours before the latest police raid was carried out.

A Security Ministry official, anti-terror desk Chief Inspector Ansyaad Mbai, warned that Noordin might still be alive. But for him the “main concern is the fact that [Noordin] Top’s influence is deeply rooted in his cell group.”

In the meantime more is now known about the July’s attacks against the Marriot and Ritz-Carlton hotels.

An 18-year-old, Dani Dwi Permana, and a 28-year-old, Ikhwan Maulana, are said to have participate in the attacks.

Both were recruited by Saefuddin Jaelani, a Muslim leader in Bogor Regency, whose is currently being hunted by Indonesian secret services.

According to police investigation, a number of suicide bombers are ready to strike across Indonesia.

Last week a police operation in Jatiasih (Bekasi Regency) netted three “candidates” for suicide attacks.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is among the possible objectives of the terrorists. His residence is on top of their list of sensitive targets.

According to the latest theories, Boim the florist was planning to turn himself into a “lethal weapon” and blow himself up with 500 kilograms of explosive material at the president’s residence.

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

Jihadis Thrice Attacked Pakistan Nuclear Sites

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s nuclear facilities have already been attacked at least thrice by its home-grown extremists and terrorists in little reported incidents over the last two years, even as the world remains divided over the safety and security of the nuclear weapons in the troubled country, according to western analysts.

The incidents, tracked by Shaun Gregory, a professor at Bradford University in UK, include an attack on the nuclear missile storage facility at Sargodha on November 1, 2007, an attack on Pakistan’s nuclear airbase at Kamra by a suicide bomber on December 10, 2007, and perhaps most significantly the August 20, 2008 attack when Pakistani Taliban suicide bombers blew up several entry points to one of the armament complexes at the Wah cantonment, considered one of Pakistan’s main nuclear weapons assembly.

These attacks have occurred even as Pakistan has taken several steps to secure and fortify its nuclear weapons against potential attacks, particularly by the United States and India, says Gregory.

In fact, the attacks have received so little attention that Peter Bergen, the eminent terrorism expert who reviewed Gregory’s paper first published in West Point’s Counter Terrorism Center Sentinel, said “he (Gregory) points out something that was news to me (and shouldn’t have been) which is that a series of attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons facilities have already happened.”

Pakistan insists that its nuclear weapons are fully secured and there is no chance of them falling into the hands of the extremists or terrorists.

But Gregory, while detailing the steps Islamabad has taken to protect them against Indian and US attacks, asks if the geographical location of Pakistan’s principle nuclear weapons infrastructure, which is mainly in areas dominated by al-Qaida and Taliban, makes it more vulnerable to internal attacks.

Gregory points out that when Pakistan was developing its nuclear weapons infrastructure in the 1970s and 1980s, its principal concern was the risk that India would overrun its nuclear weapons facilities in an armored offensive if the facilities were placed close to the long Pakistan-India border.

As a result, Pakistan, with a few exceptions, chose to locate much of its nuclear weapons infrastructure to the north and west of the country and to the region around Islamabad and Rawalpindi — sites such as Wah, Fatehjang, Golra Sharif, Kahuta, Sihala, Isa Khel Charma, Tarwanah, and Taxila. The concern, however, is that most of Pakistan’s nuclear sites are close to or even within areas dominated by Pakistani Taliban militants and home to al-Qaida.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

Muslim Gang Extorting Money From Minority Hindus in Bangladesh

When a family failed to pay up, the criminals began abducting young Hindu women to get families to pay a ransom for them. Now a Muslim gang member is threatening to marry a young Hindu woman without her consent. Human rights activist calls on the government to intervene.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) — Some 20 Hindu families from the villages of Kalibari, Kajir Hat and Keramotia, in the sub-district of Sonagaji, southern Bangladesh, have become the victims of extortions and blackmail by members of the local Muslim majority, this according to representatives of the local Hindu minority. They complain that young Hindu women are being abducted to extort money from their families.

Initially Jafar, Yunus, Saiful, Ripon, and other Muslims set up a criminal gang. Their first deed was to demand 45,000 taka (US$ 650) from the family of Nitia Das, in Kalibari.

When other Hindus resisted attempts to extort money, the gang began persecuting Hindu families in the area’s villages.

They abducted one young woman, demanding a ransom of 50,000 taka (US$ 725) for her release.

In a second case a family had to pay 25,000 taka (just over US$ 360) to get the release of the young woman involved.

A local Hindu, Boloram Das, who is related to the second kidnap victim, said that more threats have been made against local Hindus.

One of the gang members, Yunus, is now threatening to marry a young Hindu woman against her will and that of her family.

“Neither villagers nor police are willing to help us,” he lamented. In addition, “at least 20 Hindu families from the area are unable to go home.”

Human rights activist Dipal Barua said that attacks against minorities are very much on the rise in Bangladesh.

Strongly condemning violence, he called on the government to “take proper actions against the extortionists as soon as possible.”

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

Pakistan: Some 20 Million Christians to Mark ‘Black Day’ Against Persecution in Pakistan

Activists, minority lawmakers and religious leaders are united in peaceful protest against the country’s blasphemy laws. This is their response to fundamentalist attacks and their way to get the Pakistan government to repeal the laws. Amnesty International backs the fight for minority rights in Pakistan.

Lahore (AsiaNews) — Today is a ‘black day’, a day of protest for some 20 million Christians in Pakistan and around the world who want the country’s blasphemy laws repealed for being a virtual “constitutional genocide”. The event will include a number of actions promoted by religious leaders and activists across the country as a way to respond to attacks by fundamentalists.

As part of this Nazir S Bhatti, president of the Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC), launched an appeal to the US government and the European Union to press upon the Pakistani government the need to repeal the blasphemy law and ensure the peace and safety of the country’s Christian community. For him today is not ‘Minority Day’ as announced by the government but a “black day’ to mark anti-Christian violence.

For Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the Catholic Church’s National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), a number of additional initiatives are planned over the next few days, involving a variety of Christian groups as well as activists and leading members of civil society.

Today for instance minority lawmakers and administrators will attend prayer meetings and religious functions.

Tomorrow evening all Christian denominations will take part in a memorial Mass in Lahore’s Naulakha Church to honour the victims of the Gojra massacre.

On 18 August civil society groups will hold a protest in Lahore against religious extremism and the blasphemy laws.

The NCJP is planning a seminar on ‘Extremism and the Law’ for tomorrow and has launched a signature campaign to repeal the blasphemy laws.

In a recent statement Amnesty International has expressed its support for Pakistani Christians.

In its press release the human rights organisation called on the authorities in Islamabad to “to take meaningful action to protect religious minorities which have increasingly been the target of religiously-motivated attacks and persecution.”

“To this end,” the statement said, “the Pakistan government should introduce a comprehensive education programme, at all levels of society, which promotes equality and respect for the diversity of beliefs in Pakistan”.

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

Scrap Blasphemy Laws Which Bring Shame on Islam and Pakistan, Muslim Scholar Says

Prof Asghar Ali Engineer expresses all his heartfelt sorrow for the violence Christians have endured in Pakistan. He promises to do battle to defend them, starting with the repeal of the blasphemy laws, which have been used for a variety of reasons to perpetrate “juridical murders”.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) —Blasphemy laws should be scrapped as early as possible. It brings a bad name to Islam and shame on Pakistan, this according to Asghar Ali Engineer, an Indian Muslim scholar and Islam expert. In an interview with AsiaNews he expresses full solidarity with the Christian communities victimised by recent violence in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

The infamous blasphemy laws, which impose the death penalty on anyone who offends the Qur’an and the prophet Muhammad, were introduced in Pakistan in the 1980s when the country was ruled by then military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq. Ever since, they have been to perpetrate endless violence against Christians and members of other religions.

Charges, often false and motivated by sordid reasons, have led to scandals and driven enraged mobs to take justice into their own hands. People arrested under the law on the basis of charges of just one witness are in danger of police violence and torture. As a result of mob pressure, egged on by local mullahs, several judges have imposed the death penalty without a shred of evidence.

There have been three blasphemy cases recently. In Koriyan and Gojra a number of Christians were slaughtered on false accusations (see Fareed Khan, “ Eight Christians burned alive in Punjab,” AsiaNews, 2 August 2009); in Muridke, a factory owner and two other people were killed in similar circumstances; in Sanghar a woman came close to dying after a merchant laid charges against her for not repaying her debts in time.

In an editorial published on 13 June 2003 in the Pakistani daily Dawn, Professor Engineer wrote:

“To date, almost all cases registered under the iniquitous Blasphemy Laws have proved to be false and concocted out of malice, mischief, or misunderstanding. The trials have been unfair; defence lawyers have been harassed; trial courts have been under religious pressure or threat; the judgements of courts against those accused have been arbitrary, whimsical, biased, or based on mere conjecture or on the flimsiest foundation: naked and transparent injustice in the name of Islam, the sentences of death have been virtual juridical murders.”

Since 1986 when they were adopted, the blasphemy laws have been the cause of death of 25 people. According to some sources, about a thousand people have been charged with blasphemy in the same period.

Professor Asghar Ali Engineer, what can you say about the latest anti-Christian violence in Punjab?

I condemn the gruesome attack on the Christians in Pakistan in the strongest terms. This attack on them is largely due to the failure of the government and the administrative machinery to protect the minority Christian population. Most of the perpetrators of this heinous crime against the innocent vulnerable Christian community belong to the party of Nawaz Sharief1 and this is a shame on Pakistan.

Churches are attacked in Iraq, Christians are attacked in Pakistan . . . . Don’t you think that violence against Christians in Muslim countries is up?

No, it is not a question about the Muslim world but one about the increasing menace of extremists in every country, like the case of India too, where Christians and Muslims are being targeted by extremists and fundamentalists groups.

What do you think about the Blasphemy Law?

The Blasphemy Law should be scrapped as early as possible. It was introduced by General Zia ul-Haq for his own political gains. However, once it was introduced no other government dared to remove it, not even General Musharraf with his progressive ideas. I had written about this Blasphemy Law long ago when it was introduced.

What message can you send Christians who live in Muslim countries?

There are Christians living in many Muslim countries. Occasionally there are tensions and perhaps minor incidents but such heinous attacks against Christians (as in Pakistan) do not occur. To the Christian spiritual leaders of Pakistan I offer my deepest condolences. My sympathies are with them. I assure them that I will support them in any forum, and I stand with the suffering people in this hour of peril

Let us talk about ‘reciprocity’. The Christian world has often sought brotherhood and dialogue with the Muslim world. Can Muslims share this attitude?

Reciprocity is important and constructive dialogue must continue even in the face of such barbaric violence.

[1] Nawaz Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Some suspect that blasphemy charges were made and Christians in Gojra slaughtered by members of this party to force Christians to flee and improve the party’s electoral prospects.

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

Australia — Pacific

Passenger Takes Long Knives Through Airport Security

BARRY Padgett couldn’t believe it when he absent-mindedly took three long, sharp cutting knives in his carry-on luggage bag and managed to get through airport security.

The 59-year-old from Labrador, on the Gold Coast, was flying home last Sunday on a Virgin Blue flight from Melbourne to Coolangatta Airport when he claims he “forgot” to check in his bags containing the sharp weapons.

Without thinking he put his carry-on bag through the airport’s security scanners at Tullamarine Airport and successfully got through the tight checkpoint before realising he should have checked in the dangerous knives.

“I was tired, I was travelling from Melbourne and went through the security at the airport with three knives in my bag,” he said.

“One knife had a 20cm blade, there was an 18cm Chinese or Japanese-style knife, and a filleting knife, they are all very sharp.

“It wasn’t until I went through security that I realised I shouldn’t have the knives with me.”

Mr Padgett, who works in the catering industry at V8 Supercar events across Australia, said it was extremely “concerning” he was able to get such sharp weapons through the tight security checks at Australian airports.

“The person working at security was probably as tired as I was,” he said.

“But I think there is a duty the public should know this is happening.

“I could have taken those knives on board and that’s a concern. I couldn’t believe afterwards that I got them through.”

Mr Padgett checked in his carry-on bag containing the knives before boarding the flight.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Aid Workers “Released in Somalia”

Four European aid workers and two Kenyan pilots kidnapped nine months ago in Somalia have been released, French aid group Action Against Hunger says.

The group was taken captive from an airstrip in the central town of Dhusa-Mareb last November.

“Apparently all are in good health, they’ll have medical check-ups,” Action Against Hunger said in a statement.

Somalia is nominally ruled by a UN-backed government but Islamist insurgents control large areas.

Those freed include two French women, one Bulgarian woman and a Belgian man.

Action Against Hunger said the Kenyan pilots worked for the carrier Air Traffic.

Somalia’s National Security Minister Abdullahi Mohamed Ali said they were released after the intervention of “government officials, businessmen, clan elders and religious leaders”.

“As far as we know, no ransom was paid,” he told the Associated Press news agency.

Aid workers are being increasingly targeted in Somalia and many non-governmental organisations have reduced their operations in the country which has been without an effective central government since 1991.

It is estimated that about a third of Somalia’s population is dependent on food aid.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

Eritrea Rebuffs “Smear Campaign”

Eritrea has strongly denied allegations that it supports Islamist insurgents in neighbouring Somalia.

Salih Omar Abdu, its ambassador to Kenya, says the accusations, repeatedly made by the US and the African Union, are a “smear campaign”.

He says Eritrea is in favour of a united Somalia whose government represents all of its people.

Somalia is nominally ruled by a UN-backed government but insurgents control large parts of the country.

Last week US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on a visit to Africa, warned that the US would “take action” against Eritrea if it continued to support the militants.

She said Eritrea was destabilising Somalia and its actions were “unacceptable”.

Moral obligation

But in an interview with the BBC’s Network Africa programme, Mr Abdu dismissed the claims.

“This is a smear campaign against Eritrea under the pretext that Eritrea supplies arms, ammunitions and finances [to insurgents],” he said.

“But unfortunately this is not the case and Eritrea does not tolerate being an instrument to any country or any government.”

He said his country had a “moral and legal obligation to support the Somalis”, but had no right to “bring or establish a government for the Somalis”.

“We believe in a united Somalia. Not like our neighbours who want to sub-divide it into cantons. Let the Somalis solve their problems themselves.”

Analysts say several militant groups operated from Eritrea after being ousted from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, when Ethiopian troops entered Somalia in 2006.

The main insurgent group is al-Shabab, which is extending its influence in the south of the country.

About 250,000 Somalis have fled their homes in fighting between militants and government forces over the past three months.

There are growing fears that Somalia — which has been without an effective central government since 1991 — risks becoming a haven for terrorists.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

Latin America

Chavez Urges Military to be Prepared for Conflict

President Hugo Chavez told his military on Sunday to be prepared for a possible confrontation with Colombia, warning that Bogota’s plans to increase the U.S. military presence at its bases poses a threat to Venezuela.

Chavez has issued near daily warnings that Washington could use bases in Colombia to destabilize the region since learning of negotiations to lease seven Colombian military bases to the United States.

“The threat against us is growing,” Chavez said. “I call on the people and the armed forces, let’s go, ready for combat!”

The former paratroop commander said Colombian soldiers were recently spotted crossing the porous 1,400-mile border that separates the two countries and suggested that Colombia may have been trying to provoke Venezuela’s military.

“They crossed the Orinoco River in a boat and entered Venezuelan territory,” Chavez said. “When our troops arrived, they’d already left.”

Chavez said Venezuela’s foreign ministry would file a formal complaint and warned Colombia that “Venezuela’s military will respond if there’s an attack against Venezuela.”

Chavez said he would attend this week’s summit of the Union of South American Nations in Quito, Ecuador, to urge his Latin American allies to pressure Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to reconsider plans to increase the U.S. military presence.

“We cannot ignore this threat,” Chavez said during his weekly radio and television program, Hello President.

Chavez also halted shipments of subsidized fuel to Colombia, saying Venezuela should not be sending cheap gasoline to an antagonistic neighbor.

“Let them buy it at the real price. How are we going to favor Uribe’s government in this manner?” he said.

Colombian officials say Venezuela has no reason to be concerned, and that the U.S. forces would help fight drug trafficking. The proposed 10-year agreement, they claim, would not push the number of American troops and civilian military contractors beyond 1,400 — the maximum currently permitted by U.S. law.

Tensions between the neighboring South American nations also have been heightened over Colombia’s disclosure that three Swedish-made anti-tank weapons [AT-4 rocket launchers with serial numbers that connect them to the Venezuelan army] found at a rebel camp last year had been purchased by Venezuela’s military.

Chavez has accused Colombia of acting irresponsibly in its accusation that the anti-tank rocket launchers sold to Venezuela in 1988 were obtained by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Sweden confirmed the weapons were originally sold to Venezuela’s military.

Chavez denies aiding the FARC. He claims the United States is using Colombia as part of a broader plan to portray him as a supporter of terrorist groups to provide justification for U.S. military intervention in Venezuela.

Chavez said Sunday that diplomatic relations with Uribe’s government “remain frozen” even though he ordered Venezuela’s ambassador to return to Colombia more than a week after he was recalled.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

Foes Warn Chavez Seeks Indoctrination in Schools

Hundreds protested outside Venezuela’s legislature Tuesday against an education bill that they charge will open the way for President Hugo Chavez’s government to indoctrinate children with socialist ideology.

Some 1,000 people chanted “Don’t mess with my kids!” and urged members of the predominantly pro-Chavez National Assembly to reconsider the proposed legislation. The bill, which would affect both state and private schools, is expected to receive final approval in the coming weeks.

Under the bill, teaching would be based on “the Bolivarian Doctrine” _ a term used by Chavez to describe his socialist political movement named after 19th century independence hero Simon Bolivar.

The legislation would also give state-funded neighborhood-based assemblies _ called “communal councils” _ a key role in the “administration, maintenance, evaluation and supervision” of schools in their communities.

“I don’t want anyone to impose what my kids learn in school,” said one protester, William Jimenez, a 51-year-old lawyer.

Maria Briceno de Queipo, president of the congressional committee that drafted the bill, denies the government intends to indoctrinate children or copy the education model of communist-governed Cuba.

She said Venezuela’s schools must be overhauled to ensure equal opportunities and to teach children the need for increased social responsibility in a country sharply split along class lines.

A new model is needed that “breaks with values emphasizing individualism and mercantilism,” De Queipo said, defending the bill’s emphasis on “principles of sovereignty and self-determination” along with “commitment to social transformation processes.”

The bill would broaden the government’s control over 8,000 private schools by forcing them to adopt curriculums used in the country’s 27,000 public schools and setting limits on the fees charged, said Edgar Bazan, president of the Teachers Association of Venezuela, in a telephone interview before the protest.

The teachers association, which represents about 55,000 teachers nationwide, university organizations and opposition groups are planning more demonstrations demanding that lawmakers shelve the bill.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]


Christopher Caldwell’s Reflection on the Revolution in Europe: Now He Tells US?

Christopher Caldwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West is an important and surprising book.

Granted, readers won’t see much that’s new. In essence, Caldwell’s Reflections is a Brimelovian vindication of Enoch Powell, the brilliant Tory who warned against immigration in a prescient (and thus notorious) 1968 speech that began “The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils”.

Caldwell points out in his opening pages (which you can read here):

“Although at the time Powell’s demographic projections were much snickered at, they have turned out not just roughly accurate but as close to perfectly accurate as it is possible for any such projections to be: In his Rotary Club speech, [November 16 1968] Powell shocked his audience by stating that the nonwhite population of Britain, barely over a million at the time, would rise to 4.5 million by 2002. (According to the national census, the actual “ethnic minority” population of Britain in 2001 was 4,635,296.)”


In his book, however, Caldwell adds this memorable dictum in reply to Sarkozy’s Continental innocence about America’s experience:

“One moves swiftly and imperceptibly from a world in which affirmative action can’t be ended because its beneficiaries are too weak to a world in which it can’t be ended because its beneficiaries are too strong.”

(I suspect that when Sen. Lindsey Graham decided to vote for Sonia Sotomayor, he was saying something like this to himself, just less elegantly.)


Unexpectedly, Caldwell takes the arrogant bluster of European intellectuals and patiently and quietly extracts the simple silly-mindedness at its heart:

“Bizarrely, as immigration began to change Europe at its economic and cultural core, the political vocabulary remained the same as when immigration had been a fringe phenomenon. People kept talking about restaurants.”

He points out the endless contradictions of the cult of tolerance:

“The policing of tolerance had no inbuilt limits and no obvious logic. Why was ‘ethnic pride’ a virtue and ‘nationalism’ a sickness? Why was an identity like ‘Sinti/Roma’ legitimate but an identity like ‘white’ out of bounds? Why had it suddenly become criminal to ask questions today that it was considered a citizen’s duty to ask ten years ago?”

And yet, as the Danish Cartoon Riots of 2006 showed, the absurdity of Europe’s ever-growing restrictions on freedom of speech about immigration—both legalistic (what Caldwell calls “the criminalization of opinion”) and vigilante (enforced by young Muslim thugs)—aren’t funny. As Caldwell explains, “Immigration exacts a steep price in freedom”:

“A new, uncompromising ideology was advancing under cover of its own ridiculousness—not as the Big Lie of legend, perhaps, but as something similarly ominous that might be called the Big Joke.”

Caldwell is extremely good at disentangling the ideological evolutions—the “He who says A, must say B” thought processes—that got Europe into its Muslim mess.

“The Holocaust has in recent decades been the cornerstone of the European moral order. … Under the pressure of mass immigration, however, post-Holocaust repentance became a template for regulating the affairs of any minority that could plausibly present itself as seriously aggrieved. … Once on the continent, Muslims took up a privileged position in any public debate on minority rights: they, too, were ‘victims.’“

This, of course, is an unmistakable echo of VDARE.COM Editor Peter Brimelow’s opening to his much-denounced book Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster back in 1995:

“There is a sense in which current immigration policy is Adolf Hitler’s posthumous revenge on America. The U.S. political elite emerged from the war passionately concerned to cleanse itself from all taints of racism or xenophobia. Eventually, it enacted the epochal Immigration Act (technically, the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments) of 1965.

“And this, quite accidentally, triggered a renewed mass immigration, so huge and so systematically different from anything that had gone before as to transform—and ultimately, perhaps, even to destroy—the one unquestioned victor of World War II: the American nation, as it had evolved by the middle of the 20th century.

“Today, U.S. government policy is literally dissolving the people and electing a new one. You can be for this or you can be against it. But the fact is undeniable.”

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Fox & Friends Video Discusses “What’s in a Word?”

Language police target school textbooks


Steve Doocy: Last week we showed you words that liberal groups want banned from kids textbooks because they were gender based. But you won’t believe the words they have a problem with now. Joining us right now is Fox News Contributor, Tucker Carlson joins us from Washington. Good Morning to you, Tucker.

Tucker Carlson: Good Morning Steve. You ever notice how certain words are fine and then out of the blue, they’re verboten. They’re not allowed to use them. They’re offensive? How does that happen? Who decides?

The people who write text books are behind this by and large. The committees that get together and decide which words are politically correct and which, politically incorrect determine the words the rest of us can use. And it’s amazing the words that are now considered offensive.

“Poor”, for instance is considered offensive. Now, off the table, can’t use it. “People living below the poverty line” . To call people ‘poor’, Steve, is wrong.

Steve Doocy: So if you can’t use the word poor, you’re supposed to say “living in poverty” or “living below the poverty line”, but “Poor” is verboten.

Tucker Carlson: That’s exactly right. As is “Homeless”. “People without homes” is now the preferred term. “Deaf”, also out. “People who can’t hear”. Deaf is an offensive word. Don’t call a person ‘deaf’, Steve.

Steve Doocy: “Minority”?

Tucker Carlson: “Minority” is absolutely WRONG! I can’t believe you would use that word! “Historically underrepresented groups”. You are the most insensitive morning show host I’ve talked to today.

Steve Doocy: Listen, I have two teenagers at home but now I can’t call them that.

Tucker Carlson: (laughing) No, you can’t. Of course, you can’t say ‘teenager’. It’s prejorative. “Adolescents” is the term.

Steve Doocy: Ok, I have two teenagers and one “Able-bodied” twenty-two year old.

Tucker Carlson: Oh, come on now! I think you know, “able-bodied” is over the top discriminatory. You’re wrong. “Person who is non-disabled” is now the term we must use.

“American”, by the way, you may consider yourself one. No longer. Because that’s (American/Americans) geographically chauvenistic. “American/Americans”, NO! “People of the United States” or “Persons of the United States”. That would describe you. It’s very hard to convince people that their political points of view are wrong. It’s much easier to sell propaganda to your children. And thats what the people who write text books are doing. They’re aiming at your kids, making the sale with them, not even bothering with you.

Steve Doocy: I wish you were kidding, but I know you are not pulling our leg. They are trying to scrub those words out of the text books. Thank you sir, for joining us live today.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]


Global Warming Battle: Thar She Blows!

Climate madness drives scientists to ‘geo-engineer’ planet

Scientists propelled by the willingness of governments to spend billions on global warming hysteria are proposing various fantastic schemes under the theme of making money while “saving the planet,” Jerome Corsi’s Red Alert reports.

Cloud ships

“Cloud ships,” a plan Corsi calls “one of the most preposterous of the schemes yet proposed,” are now being worked on by rival groups of U.S. and U.K. scientists, according to the Telegraph in London.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

If You Convert You Die

By: Nonie Darwish

Very few people in the West know what is going on inside the Muslim world and what it portends for them. The fact is that through the dominant media, such as CNN, Americans are subjected to much of the same misinformation with regard to Islam that I grew up with inside the Muslim world. The result is that Americans are in the dark attempting to formulate their strategy of how to defend themselves against the threat of terror, domestic jihad and Sharia. While Americans get ridiculed for being “Islamophobes,” the Muslim world itself is undergoing a huge and painful awakening.

For instance, a prominent Egyptian lawyer and women’s rights activist, Nagla Al Imam, recently announced her conversion to Christianity in Cairo, Egypt. The announcement brought shock waves in and beyond Egypt. This is perhaps the first case ever of its kind, where a Muslim woman, who is also a Sharia expert, has openly challenged Islamic apostasy laws from within the Muslim world.

Ms. Al Imam’s incredible courage was on display in an internet chat room, where she announced that she is not afraid, will stand up for the human rights of apostates and refuses to leave her homeland, Egypt. This was immediately followed by attacks and calls (‘fatwas’) for death of the 36 year-old graduate of Al Azhar Islamic University.

Egyptian media not only reported the threat but also participated in the attacks. Ms. Al Imam was literally entrapped by a TV station ‘Al Mihwar’ with the pretext of inviting her for an interview. Upon arrival to the TV studio she was told the show she was to appear on was cancelled. She was then taken forcibly to a room where she was held against her will for hours inside the studio. She was assaulted, threatened and insulted by several people. She was able to escape, and went to her internet chat room telling the world what happened and said she will demand protection from the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Such action is common not only against apostates but anyone who deviates from the dictates of Islam or demands reform…

           — Hat tip: AA [Return to headlines]

Sun Exposure Cancer Warnings ‘Lead to Vitamin D Deficiencies’

Public health warnings about skin cancer have led to a rise in Vitamin D deficiency through lack of sunlight, according to a controversial study into the effects of ultraviolet exposure.

Vitamin D is produced by the body in response to exposure from ultraviolet radiation from natural sunlight. It helps protect against cancer and is also thought to be important in helping to prevent bone disease such as osteoporosis, as well as autoimmune diseases, asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Swine Flu: ‘Tamiflu Harm Outweighs Benefits for Children’

Children should not be given the anti-viral drug Tamiflu for swine flu because its harms outweigh any benefits, Oxford researchers have said.


Their study found that Tamiflu caused vomiting in some children, which can lead to dehydration and complications.


Dr Carl Henegan, a GP and expert from the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, said the current policy of giving Tamiflu for mild illness was an “inappropriate strategy”.

He added: “The downside of the harms outweigh the one-day reduction in symptomatic benefits.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]