Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/5/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/5/2009Binghamton, New York is in the news again today: a man named Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani has been charged with stabbing a Binghamton University professor to death. The suspect’s roommates say that he often engaged in confrontational behavior and “acted like a terrorist”. There’s no indication that Binghamton’s proximity to Islamberg, the national headquarters of Jamaat ul-Fuqra, has any connection with this tragic incident.

In other news, a new study shows that Al Qaeda kills on average eight times as many Muslims as it does infidels.

Thanks to Andy Bostom, C. Cantoni, Esther, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, KGS, Nilk, Sean O’Brian, SS, Steen, TB, Vlad Tepes, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
Italian Families Hit Hard by Recession
American Muslims Fear for European Counterparts
Binghamton University Killing: Apartment-Mates Say Man Accused of Killing Professor Was Confrontational and ‘Acted Like a Terrorist’
Court Records Confirm West Covina Man Provided Information to FBI
Ex-Muslim’s College Speech Disrupted by Arson
Sikh Sues Indiana Airport Bus Company for Discrimination
Suspect Named in Fatal Stabbing of Binghamton University Professor
Funding for Leftist Group to be Cut
Ottawa: Arrest Made in Jewelry Robbery
Europe and the EU
Burning of a Witch in Upper Austria Prevented at the Last Moment
Copenhagen Summit: Denmark Rushes in Laws to Stop Carbon Trading Scam
Europe’s Rabbis Fear to be Next After Minaret Ban
Finland: Lisbon Treaty Won’t Affect Åland Islands
Germany: Westerwelle Defends Swiss After Minaret Ban
Greece: Athens Set for Anniversary of Fatal Police Shooting
Ireland: Muslim Community Aids Flood Victims
Italy: Berlusconi Denies Rift With Fini
Italy: PM ‘Put Country in Our Hands’, Says Mafia Turncoat
Italy: Senate Committee Bars Request to Arrest ‘Mafia-Linked’ Minister
Italy: Racist Abuse Against Balotelli Feared at Inter-Juve Tie
Italy: Hitman Claims Berlusconi Involved in 1993 Bombing Campaign
Italy: Saharawi: Naples Hangs Photo of Activist for Her Release
London Climate Change March Draws 20,000
Swiss Ban on Minarets Was a Vote for Tolerance and Inclusion
Switzerland: Minaret Ban Makes Word of the Year
Why the Swiss Were Right to Prohibit Construction of Minarets
North Africa
Egypt: Al Aswany; Baradei Poses Real Problem for Regime
Egypt: Al Ahram Daily to Elbaradei, Illusions of a Pensioner
Ex-IAEA Head El Baradei Mulls Egypt Presidential Bid
Minarets: Egypt’s NCHR, Shortcoming in Tolerance
Minarets: Egyptian Press Very Critical Again
Spain: Morocco: Haidar Will Have Passport After Apology
Women Learn Self-Defence to Fight Back Against Harassment in Cairo
Israel and the Palestinians
Expert Calls for Law Against Foreign Political Intervention
Middle East
Ex-UN Inspector Condemns Bush, Blair on Iraq
Homosexuals in the Arab world? The West and the Orientalism of Sexuality
Iran Urges Bern Not to Enforce Minaret Ban
Turkey: Approved Kurdish Language Classes at Universities
Turkey: Iranian Atheist Risks Death Penalty if Repatriated
Turks to Obama: ‘You Broke it, You Fix it’
South Asia
Afghanistan: NATO to Send 7,000 More Troops
Bin Laden ‘Seen in Afghanistan in Early 2009’
Italy to Send 1,000 More Troops and Rethink Afghan Strategy
Far East
4 US Teens Held for Attempted Murder in Japan: Media
Australia — Pacific
Bashing Suspect Steps Up to Law
UK Should Open Borders to Climate Refugees, Says Bangladeshi Minister
Al-Qaida Kills Eight Times More Muslims Than Non-Muslims
Environmentalism as Religion (1)
Environmentalism as Religion (2)
From Communism as “The 20th Century Islam, “ to “Islam as the 21st Century Communism?”
Intimidation Then Normalization

Financial Crisis

Italian Families Hit Hard by Recession

One in three households struggle to make ends meet

(ANSA) — Rome, December 4 — The global recession has taken a heavy toll on Italian families according to an annual survey released Friday by socioeconomic think-tank Censis.

One in three households polled in the study reported dipping into their savings, skipping bills and borrowing money to make ends meet.

Over half of Italian families this year earned less than 15,000 euros, while less than 2.2% declared more than 70,000.

Over one million families live so far beneath the poverty line, they cannot afford to feed themselves properly.

Around 763,000 jobs were lost this year between people fired, placed on temporary suspension, employed by enterprises which shut down or whose temporary contracts were not renewed. The majority of those finding themselves without work were men, 56.4%, while 42% had worked in industry, 27.1% in the transformation sector, 15.1% in construction, 14.5% in retail and 9.1% in the services sector. National statistics bureau Istat reported last week that Italy’s unemployment rate in October rose to 8% of the labor force, its highest since November 2004, with the number of unemployed surpassing the two- million mark for the first time since March 2004.

Despite the rise in unemployment, Censis said Italy had weathered the crisis better than other countries. In the first six months of the year, compared to the same period in 2008, employment in Italy fell by 1.6%, compared to 7.2% in Spain and 2% in Britain. Helping to contrast the trend of closing Italian businesses were an increasing number of small enterprises run by immigrants.

In the first six months of the year, the number of small businesses operated by immigrants rose 2.4%, which now account for 6% of the total.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]


American Muslims Fear for European Counterparts

Switzerland’s decision to ban minarets has sparked outrage by Muslim-Americans who have called the vote “xenophobic and bigoted”.

The Swiss minaret ban, agreed by voters on Sunday, heightens a general concern by Muslims in the United States about the challenges faced by Muslims living in Europe.

“Our fear is that the ban is going to further alienate a growing population of Muslims in Europe,” said Faiza Ali of The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a leading Muslim-American group.

Ali cited other examples of challenges faced by European Muslims, including French resistance to burkas worn by some Muslim women, and opposition in parts of Europe to Turkish membership in the European Union.

CAIR has called on President Barack Obama to denounce the minaret ban, stating that America’s silence would send a negative message to the Muslim world.

“The president has made an effort to reach out to Muslims outside of the United States to build up a relationship that was tarnished during the Bush era,” Ali said. “We want him to continue those efforts and speak out against the ban.”

At the same time, Ali said her group is against efforts to boycott Swiss products and services, believing that civic engagement is more fruitful.

Chorus of disapproval

Besides national papers, such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, a number of local newspapers have also denounced the decision. The New York Daily News, called the Swiss vote “utterly idiotic” adding that “passing laws that target Muslims for being Muslims is not part of any clash of civilizations, it is a failure of one”.

The Salt Lake Tribune also condemned the ban, calling the Swiss People’s Party “embarrassing” and adding that Swiss Muslims are forced to keep a low profile “so as not to excite the many people in the country who hate and fear them”.

The popular blogger Andrew Sullivan said the ban does nothing to address the issue of integration of Muslim immigrants and is a way to “provoke religious hostility and intolerance and thereby further radicalise Swiss Muslims”.

The Anti-Defamation League, a human rights organization, issued a statement urging the Swiss government to be “vigilant in its defense of religious freedom”.

“Those who initiated the anti-minaret campaign could try to further erode religious freedom through similar means,” the statement said.

The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy said in a statement that the decision is of “great concern”, calling it part of a “disturbing trend in significant parts of Europe to restrict the religious freedom and self-expression of religious and ethnic minorities, notably of Muslims”.

At the same time the group credited the Swiss government for its stance against the proposal.


While opposition to the ban is strong, some conservative groups believe it is long overdue and hope the US. will draw lessons from the Swiss vote.

“Americans have been wondering when the Europeans will wake up and capture their own heritage,” Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, told

Muslims must be welcomed into European countries, he said, on the condition that they agree to assimilate and abide by the norms of democracy.

Like many supporters of the ban, Donahue believes that allowing minarets would encourage the growth of an unwelcome ideology and support the Islamic legal system known as Shariah, which he calls “anti-democratic”.

To Donahue, the Swiss decision is a good model for America, where he believes Muslims are treated preferentially. “The United States goes overboard to show Muslims how tolerant they are,” he said.

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

Binghamton University Killing: Apartment-Mates Say Man Accused of Killing Professor Was Confrontational and ‘Acted Like a Terrorist’

The two apartment-mates of the man charged with stabbing a Binghamton University professor to death on Friday said Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani was confrontational, argumentative and “acted like a terrorist.”

The three men lived together for the past three weeks in a first-floor unit on Main Street in Binghamton. The men were brought together by a landlord, who rented a vacant room to Al-Zahrani, a 46-year-old Saudi national who was working on his doctorate at BU.

Souleyman Sukho, a Senegalese doctoral student at BU, said during the three weeks the men lived together, Al-Zahrani “came at me with a knife.”

“He asked me if I was afraid of dying,” Sukho said. “Then he went into his room. I told him, ‘don’t ask me the question if you don’t want to hear my answer.’

“He behaved like a terrorist,” Sukho said. “He would open his door and would be screaming on the phone.”

Binghamton University killing: 46-year-old grad student charged in professor’s death

Sukho said he didn’t understand what Al-Zahrani was screaming about because he was speaking in a language Sukho didn’t understand. “He claimed he was persecuted.”

The other roommate, Luis Pena, a 22-year-old master’s degree student at BU, said he tried to mitigate the tension between Al-Zahrani and Sukho, but he, too, was concerned about Al-Zahrani’s actions.

“He would be sitting here on the sofa and just blurt out, ‘I just feel like destroying the world,”‘ Pena said. “He would just make weird remarks.

“He comes off calm (but) he could flip in a second,” Pena said.

Sukho and Pena said they didn’t hear Al-Zahrani make any references to Richard T. Antoun, 77, the Binghamton University anthropology professor emeritus who was stabbed to death Friday inside Science Building I on the Vestal campus.

Police spent nearly 18 hours at the apartment between Friday and Saturday, speaking to the roommates and searching for clues.

           — Hat tip: SS [Return to headlines]

Court Records Confirm West Covina Man Provided Information to FBI

Court records made public on Friday indicate a one-time West Covina man provided “very, very valuable information” to the FBI during an operation he says consisted of spying on mosques.

Craig Monteilh said he spied on nearly a dozen mosques from July 2006 and October 2007 on the FBI’s behalf, posing as a Muslim convert and using the alias Farouk al-Aziz.

“This information finally confirms what I’ve been stating all along, that I’m a high-level, highly-trained FBI informant,” Monteilh said. “And that this information was sealed because the FBI did not want this record to go public. They wanted it sealed because the operation I was involved in was for the most part illegal.”

           — Hat tip: Esther [Return to headlines]

Ex-Muslim’s College Speech Disrupted by Arson

Nonie Darwish’s previous appearances canceled by Columbia, Princeton

Author Nonie Darwish, whose new book warns of the advance of Islamic law in the West, completed a scheduled speech at Boston University but not without the interruption of an apparent arson in a nearby restroom.

Darwish, whose recently scheduled addresses at both Columbia and Princeton were canceled following Islamic opposition, said the students who arranged her Boston University appearance this week believe the fire was an attempt to hinder her message.

“I am still in shock,” she said in an e-mail to supporters. “Fifteen minutes before I was to speak at Boston University a fire was set on purpose in a bathroom near the room I was to speak at.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sikh Sues Indiana Airport Bus Company for Discrimination

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A Sikh man sued an Atlanta-based company that provides shuttlebus service at Indianapolis International Airport, claiming it denied him a job as a driver because of his beard and turban, which he said his faith requires.

Indirjit Singh, of Greenwood, sued Air Serv Corp. in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis on Tuesday for an unspecified sum of money, claiming Air Serv did not hire him for a $9.90 per hour job he applied for in late 2007 because his beard and turban violate company guidelines for shuttle bus drivers.

           — Hat tip: Esther [Return to headlines]

Suspect Named in Fatal Stabbing of Binghamton University Professor

VESTAL — Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani has been charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Binghamton University Professor Richard T. Antoun.

Al-Zahrani, 46, was taken to the Broome County Jail at 1:30 a.m. Satruday, said Broome County Sheriff’s Sgt. Paul Carlson. He was arraigned in Town of Vestal court Saturday morning.

According to the Binghamton University Web site, Al-Zahrani is a cultural anthropology graduate student working on his dissertation. Al-Zahrani, of Main Street, Binghamton, was charged by Binghamton University Police.

The fatal stabbing Friday of longtime Binghamton University anthropology professor Antoun has left the community with more questions than answers, again.

Antoun, 77, of Vestal, died at Wilson Regional Medical Center in Johnson City, where he was rushed following an attack against him inside BU’s Science 1 building..

According to police radio transmissions, Antoun was stabbed four times with a 6-inch kitchen blade while he was inside a campus office.

Professors who were in the building at the time said Antoun was stabbed by a graduate student. However, the university would not confirm the name of the suspect or release a possible motive.

University officials said there was no danger to students or others on the Vestal campus, but urged the community Friday afternoon to stay clear of the Science I building, which was to remain closed until noon Saturday. At 2:20 p.m. Friday, many students who registered their cell phones with the university received a text that read: “At 1:41 p.m., University Police responded for a reported stabbing in S-I. Suspect in custody. Police investigating. Stay clear of Science I.”

It was unclear Friday night when the suspect would be formally charged…

           — Hat tip: SS [Return to headlines]


Funding for Leftist Group to be Cut

The Conservative government is set to slash millions of dollars in funding to Alternatives, a Montreal-based nongovernmental organization associated with a number of left-leaning causes and which has been critical of Canada’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan.

Alternatives was founded in 1994 “to foster social justice, participatory democracy and equal relations between North and South,” according to its 2007-08 annual report.

The report shows that it received $2.4-million from the Canadian International Development Agency and a further $1.4-million from other federal departments.


Alternatives runs a number of programs, in Canada and abroad, including environmental, communications, peace promotion and “social justice” programs.

Ottawa is understood to be particularly unhappy about an education camp the NGO organized in August 2008. The event, at Saint-Alphonse de Rodriguez in Quebec, featured “500 motivated militants” invited from countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, “Palestine” and Venezuela.

Sources said the government is also concerned that Alternatives’ board includes supporters of Hezbollah and Hamas, such as Ali Mallah, vice-president of the Canadian Arab Federation.


Tom Quiggin, who has 20 years’ experience in the Canadian intelligence community and is now a board advisor for Global Brief magazine, said he has noted an increasing convergence between the hard left and supporters of organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, which have been declared terrorist organizations by the Canadian government.

[Comments from JD: See article for more details]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Ottawa: Arrest Made in Jewelry Robbery

“I don’t remember anything after the call that came at 8 p.m.,” Natalie Galipeau said about the night she was nearly killed by a stranger. Almost four months later, police say they have the man who did it.

Galipeau, 31, was trying to sell a sapphire and diamond bracelet for $1,250 online when she was contacted by a man who said he was interested in purchasing it.

They eventually agreed to meet at Galipeau’s home on Plainhill Dr. in the city’s east end.

She walked outside with the bracelet at about 9 p.m. on Aug. 18 while her husband and daughter remained inside.

Her next memory is of waking up in a hospital bed days later with them at her bedside.

Police said Galipeau had been viciously attacked and then dragged by the suspect’s car for about half the length of a football field before ending up on the street in a pool of her own blood. She had suffered multiple skull fractures and was put into an induced coma for three days because of swelling in her brain.

She also had three teeth knocked out and had to have surgery on one of her eye sockets.

The pain never leaves her.

“Sometimes I cry from the headaches,” she said. “It’s taken a long time after the hospital to even get this far.”

Galipeau is also suffering from short-term memory loss.

An appointment with a neurologist is the next step of many still to be taken.

But for one day, at least, good news.

“We’re very happy and relieved,” she said after being told of the arrest. “It made my little girl smile a lot.”

Galipeau, her husband Louie and seven-year-old daughter never gave up hope the police would get their man.

“The police were always confident and they told me they would never let it die no matter how long it took,” she said.

Police called Thursday to say they were interviewing someone. Then Friday the call they were all waiting for came.

“I’m surprised it happened so quickly after they said they were talking to someone,” she said.

Yonis Awais Hassan, 18, of Ottawa is charged with two counts of robbery, two counts of conspiracy, theft, aggravated assault, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and failing to remain at the scene of an accident in connection with this case and two other robberies.

Police are looking for an accomplice.

Galipeau said if Hassan is the person who did this to her, her husband is happy about one thing.

“He’s happy he’s 18 and not a young offender,” she said.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Burning of a Witch in Upper Austria Prevented at the Last Moment

The organiser of a traditional festival in the south of Upper Austria had the devilish idea to “burn a witch” to spice up his event. At the last moment disgusted citizens and residents were able to prevent such an outrageous spectacle.

The “burning of a witch” during the event was even advertised on placards and posters. 400 years ago many women were killed that way in the name of the church. Those crimes count to one of the darkest chapters in Austrian history. A female author who lives in the region startled the general public and confirmed that such kind of activities have nothing to do with customs, but rather with abuse.

           — Hat tip: Esther [Return to headlines]

Copenhagen Summit: Denmark Rushes in Laws to Stop Carbon Trading Scam

Europe’s flagship carbon trading scheme suffered a blow today as the Danish government was forced to rush an emergency law through parliament to clamp down on a virulent form of VAT fraud.

On the eve of the Copenhagen climate talks, which will attract world attention to emissions trading schemes, police and tax investigators across Europe are believed to be investigating hundreds of millions of euros worth of fraud involving carbon quotas originating in Denmark.

Since British, French and Dutch governments took similar action in the summer, much of the “carousel” fraud involving carbon credits moved to Denmark, where registration of carbon quotas for the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is easy and a VAT rate of 25% makes the fraud attractive to international criminals.

Experts said today that Copenhagen had long been an accident waiting to happen in terms of carousel fraud.

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

Europe’s Rabbis Fear to be Next After Minaret Ban

The Conference of European Rabbis condemned the outcome of last Sunday’s Swiss referendum in a resolution passed during their two-day meeting, International Relations Director Philip Carmel told Reuters on Thursday.

“We don’t have a situation of the extreme right in Europe attacking Jews because they are content to attack Muslims,” he said. “But the Swiss example is classic: it’s not just Muslims who are going to be targeted by the extreme right.”

Swiss voters approved a ban on building new minarets in a referendum, defying the government and parliament which had rejected the right-wing initiative as violating the Swiss constitution, freedom of religion and a cherished tradition of tolerance.

Speaking after the conference ended, Carmel said any movement towards xenophobia or extreme nationalist sentiment was “bad for Jews”, adding: “The growth of the far right legitimizes xenophobic opinion.”

The Conference, which represents over 800 rabbis in more than 40 countries, was concerned that Jews might be the next targets of a rise in right-wing sentiment aroused by the minaret ban, he said.

The rabbis met in Moscow at the historic Choral Synagogue, scene of protests by Jews during the Soviet years when so many KGB agents stood inside that worshippers preferred to meet on the street outside. The building has been restored.

Rabbis said they were delighted by the revival of Jewish life in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, where their faith was relentlessly persecuted, leading to an exodus of tens of thousands.

They said the growth of Muslim extremism in western Europe’s capitals was making life difficult for Jewish communities there.

Jonasan Abraham, a London rabbi, said it was “tragic to think that it’s safer now to walk the streets of Moscow as a Jew than in many Western European capitals where you feel hostility.”

In some European cities, Jews were living under tight security at schools and synagogues because of the threat from Islamic fundamentalists, the rabbis said.

“You can’t talk about the Holocaust in certain classrooms because the Muslim children will stand and complain about why it is being discussed,” Carmel said.

The rabbis called for European governments to combat extremism by making a commitment not to engage in dialogue with fundamentalist organizations and their representatives.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Finland: Lisbon Treaty Won’t Affect Åland Islands

The Lisbon Treaty will not have an effect on the autonomy of the Åland Islands. Finland informed the EU on Thursday in Brussels that the Swedish-speaking province, which has been a demilitarised zone since 1921, would not be subject to the guidelines of the treaty.

The Finnish government negotiated extensively with leaders from the province concerning the effects of the Lisbon treaty.

The Åland Islands are a self-governing province of Finland. They are also exempt from the EU’s VAT rules, allowing for the sale of tax-free items on ferries travelling between Finland and Sweden

           — Hat tip: KGS [Return to headlines]

Germany: Westerwelle Defends Swiss After Minaret Ban

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Saturday that it was wrong to consider Switzerland a nation of bigots after its vote in favour of a ban on building new mosque minarets.

“As much as I — just like the Swiss government — regret the outcome, it’s wrong to come to the conclusion that Switzerland is an intolerant or undemocratic country because of this vote,” he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Switzerland was one of the world’s oldest democracies and was founded on tolerance, Westerwelle said, however, he admitted he would have campaigned for a different result.

In a referendum in Switzerland last weekend, 57 percent of voters approved a right-wing motion to ban future construction of minarets, a decision that was met with an international backlash and charges of religious prejudice against Muslims.

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

Greece: Athens Set for Anniversary of Fatal Police Shooting

More than 6,000 police will be on the streets of Athens this weekend as the city marks the first anniversary of the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old boy.

The teenager’s death at the hands of police in December last year sparked Greece’s worst riots in decades.

In the run-up to the anniversary, dozens of schools and university campuses have been occupied by students preparing to mark the uprising.

Greece’s government says it will have a zero tolerance policy towards violence.

“We want to send a clear message, we won’t tolerate a repeat of the violence and terror scene in central Athens, we won’t hand Athens to vandals,” said Citizen Protection Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis.

Memorial service

Family and friends of teenager Alexandros Grigoropoulos will hold a memorial service on Sunday to mark a year since his killing.

They have appealed for calm, but posters have appeared in the capital saying: “We won’t forget, we won’t forgive.”

Police said they expect about 150 foreign anarchists to arrive this weekend from Italy, France and other European countries.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has acknowledged that the weekend is a “crucial moment” for his new socialist government and for the nation.

“All of us, citizens, political leaders, parties, students representatives, we must protect Athens,” he said.

Shop owners in the Greek capital are braced for trouble although some believe it will not be as bad as last year.

“Like all other shops on this street, we have put [up] steel shutters,” said Athens music store manager George Stouraitis.

“But I don’t think anything major will happen this year because the government is still young.”

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

Ireland: Muslim Community Aids Flood Victims

The Irish Muslim community has announced it is to conduct a nationwide collection at the State’s mosques in aid of those affected by the recent floods.

According to Mohammed al Kabour, who is organising the campaign, the Irish Muslim flood relief committee met the Irish Red Cross last week, and it was agreed to run its fundraising in conjunction with the Irish Red Cross appeal, which is seeking to raise €1 million.

Collections at two mosques have already taken place over the past two Fridays, and the nationwide collection will take place this Friday. Mosques involved in the collection with include those in Clonskeagh, Co Dublin; Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo; and Cork and Galway.

Volunteers are also collecting in various points in Dublin today, including Temple Bar, Grafton Street, and Camden Street.

“The aim of the appeal is to give back to Irish society itself. The Red Cross has been very generous in helping after earthquakes in places such as Indonesia and Pakistan, and we feel it’s time to give back,” Mr al Kabour said.

“With the recession, attitudes have hardened toward immigrants, and its important to show the contribution they can make,” Mr al Kabour added.

Last week, the Irish Red Cross estimated it has raised over €300,000 so far for its flood relief operations

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

Italy: Berlusconi Denies Rift With Fini

Press says premier fuming over off-the-cuff remarks

(ANSA) — Rome, December 3 — Premier Silvio Berlusconi dismissed reports on Thursday that he and House Speaker Gianfranco Fini were ready to part company after his ally was caught saying the premier acts like “an absolute monarch”.

Fini made what he believed were private, off-the-cuff remarks to a prosecutor during a public meeting in November not knowing that his microphone was already switched on.

The recording was dug up and published by Rome left-leaning daily La Repubblica on Tuesday, causing a storm within the majority People of Freedom (PdL) party and prompting Il Giornale, a paper owned by Berlusconi’s brother, to call for Fini’s resignation as Speaker.

Berlusconi told reporters he was not “in competition” with Fini and denied reports by some dailies, including Il Giornale, that he no longer wanted “to see” the speaker.

“I’m upset that the press continues to publish things that not only I haven’t said but that I haven’t even thought of”.

Fini’s private remarks included comments on leaked allegations by a Mafia turncoat and state witness which linked the premier to Cosa Nostra bombs in 1993, saying they were “a real atom bomb”. Hours after the remarks were published, Fini called a television talk show, making clear that he thought “Berlusconi has nothing to do with the Mafia”.

But he did not renege comments about Berlusconi’s autocratic style and stressed that though the premier has a right to continue governing because of the wide popular mandate he was given in the 2008 general elections he must also “respect parliament and the judiciary bodies”.

Fini has increasingly distanced himself from Berlusconi since being elected Speaker and he has irked key PdL ally, the Northern League, with his liberal-minded stance on immigration and voting rights for immigrants.

The Northern League is a strong supporter of Italy’s recent push-back immigration policy agreed with Libya, while Fini has stressed the importance of respecting asylum rights and proposed citizenship for legal immigrants.

Northern League leader Umberto Bossi has accused Fini of being “crazy”.

The speaker and his loyalists have in turn taken issue with the premier’s regular weekly consultations with Bossi, saying that the League leader was seeing Berlusconi more than his own party allies.

Nevertheless, one of Fini’s closest aides, the deputy House Whip for the PdL, Italo Bocchini, has said that Fini and Berlusconi would not part ways because over the last 15 years they had “changed the political scene in Italy”.

Berlusconi and Fini have been close allies since 1994, when the media magnate decided to step into politics, although Fini once formed a separate election alliance that did not win over voters.

Earlier this year Fini officially merged his National Alliance party with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia to form the PdL.

Fini, however, has repeatedly voiced displeasure with the way the PdL is run, calling for more democracy, and complaining that the premier is caving in to Bossi and the Northern League on a number of issues.

More than 50 ex-AN members of the PdL recently wrote a public letter to Berlusconi proposing a “permanent consultation pact” between the two PdL co-founders to prevent the party “short-circuiting” and fling open policy debate to all sides.

Fini has also come under repeated fire from Il Giornale and two months ago he decided to sue its editor, Vittorio Feltri.

Feltri has penned a number of front-page editorials, accusing Fini of “betraying” the PdL, of playing “comrade” to win support among centre left MPs for his political ambitions, warning him to change tack or leave.

The premier has said he has no control over Feltri and has no prior information on the editorials.

In a scathing editorial on Thursday, Feltri said his doubts over Fini’s loyalty had been confirmed and urged Berlusconi to “dump him”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: PM ‘Put Country in Our Hands’, Says Mafia Turncoat

Turin, 4 Dec. (AKI) — Sicilian mafia turncoat Gabriele Spatuzza told an Italian court on Friday that prime minister Silvio Berlusconi had made a political deal with the Mafia in the 1990s. The convicted hitman said on Friday that Berlusconi had “put the country in our hands”.

Spatuzza was giving evidence during an appeal in the northern city of Turin by Italian senator and Berlusconi ally, Marcello Dell’Utri, who is seeking to overturn convictions for mafia links.

The Turin court was hearing evidence in relation to Dell’Utri’s appeal over a number of crimes including mafia association.

Spatuzza told the Turin court how he was told by his mafia boss Giuseppe Graviano that Berlusconi had made a political deal with the organised crime group in the early 1990s that would provide “benefits” to the mafia.

Spatuzza has previously said Graviano disclosed the information in a conversation in a bar Graviano owned in the upscale Via Veneto district in Rome.

A few months later, Berlusconi entered politics and won his first term as prime minister of Italy.

Referring to a conversation with Graviano, Spatuzza said: “He told me ‘We got what we wanted. Not like those four socialists who had received votes in 1988 and 1989 and then waged a war against us.’“

“Thanks to the seriousness of these people, they put the country in our hands,” said Spatuzza who is serving a life sentence for several murders.

Spatuzza gave evidence from behind a screen in the courtroom, surrounded by heavy security.

Berlusconi has consistently rejected Spatuzza’s claims that he and Dell’Utri were linked to a Cosa Nostra bombing campaign in 1993.

On Friday the premier’s spokesman said Spatuzza’s comments were revenge for the premier’s fight against organised crime.

“It is completely logical the mafia would use its members to make statements against the prime minister of a government that has acted in a determined and concrete way against organised crime,” Berlusconi’s spokesman Paolo Bonaiuti said in a statement.

Dell’Utri, a senator for the premier’s People of Freedom party, agreed.

“The mafia is doing everything possible to make the Berlusconi government fall, because it is the government that has done the most to combat Cosa Nostra (the Sicilian mafia),” Dell’Utri said during a break in the court of appeal.

As opponents of the premier were planning a nationwide protest at the weekend, James Walston, from the American University of Rome questioned whether Spatuzza’s testimony would provoke Berlusconi’s resignation.

“It is not going to be the fall of Berlusconi because his people have planned the campaign very well even if a few days ago the newspapers were flagging this possibility,” Walston told Adnkronos International (AKI).

“It also wasn’t a surprise in public opinion when it happened, because these things have been going around for 18 years or so.”

Walston, an expert on Italian politics and international relations, also warned that testimony from so-called ‘pentiti’ or mafia turncoats, must be carefully examined.

“Whatever campaign strategy Berlusconi and his people have been exercising, testimony from turncoats has to be taken very carefully, especially if they are mafia people in Italy,” said Walston adding that unless evidence is provided, it is highly unlikely the premier will politically suffer.

“Unless this evidence has some sort of corroboration, it is not enough to convict Berlusconi.

“He is not going to fall, and the judges know this very well. Prosecutors have to be able to show beyond reasonable doubt that Berlusconi and Dell’Utri were involved in order to convict them, otherwise they will be either acquitted fully or acquitted for lack of enough evidence.”

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

Italy: Senate Committee Bars Request to Arrest ‘Mafia-Linked’ Minister

Rome, 25 Nov. (AKI) — An Italian Senate on Wednesday rejected a request by Naples prosecutors to arrest junior government minister Nicola Cosentino for alleged links with the local mafia or Camorra. According to Italian media, the committee voted 11 against and six in favour of the arrest, while one committee member abstained.

The committee was made up of MPs from the ruling coalition and opposition parties.

Cosentino (photo) is the deputy secretary for economy and finance and regional coordinator of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s ruling People of Freedom party (PdL).

The 50-year-old MP is accused of doing business with the infamous Casalese clan of the Camorra over the illegal disposal of rubbish in the Naples area.

The accusations against Cosentino have been made by several Camorra turncoats and family members.

The Senate committee’s decision to oppose Cosentino’s arrest needs to be approved next month by the lower house of parliament, where the ruling coalition has a sizeable majority.

High profile former prosecutor and opposition Italy of Values party leader Antonio Di Pietro called the decision to reject Cosentino’s arrest “shameful”.

“The acquittal of the Right Hon. Cosentino is shameful for all Italians. Today, we have turned the umpteenth dark page in the history of Italian democracy,” he said.

“Italy’s political class has let itself off the hook again. This shows what our party has been saying for a long time — most politicians in the current parliament do not believe everyone is equal under the law.”

Berlusconi has so far stood by Cosentino and said he should continue with his plan to run for governor of the Campania region surrounding Naples in elections due next year.

Cosentino has rejected calls for his resignation has accused one of the prosecutors investigating him, Giuseppe Narducci, of taking part in a pro-opposition rally in 2007 in Italy’s Molise region.

Cosentino claims he is the victim of a “barbarous and uncivil” campaign to discredit him.

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

Italy: Racist Abuse Against Balotelli Feared at Inter-Juve Tie

One of the highlights of the Italian football season is in danger of being overshadowed by a row over racist abuse against one of Italy’s young stars.

The clash in Turin between Juventus and league leaders Inter Milan should be a match to relish.

But much of the attention will be on how the home fans greet one man, the young Inter player Mario Balotelli.

The black striker, who is an Italian citizen, has become a target of racist abuse wherever he plays.

Balotelli has become a hate figure for a hard core of Juventus fans, not just because he poses a threat to their club’s stuttering hopes of winning the Italian championship, but because he is black.

Balotelli was born in Sicily to Ghanaian immigrant parents, but they gave him up for adoption to an Italian family when he was three.

He is an Italian citizen, has already represented Italy at Under-21 level, and is being tipped for a place soon in the senior national squad.

But none of this carries any weight with his tormentors.

“There’s no such thing as an Italian negro” — they chanted at one match recently — “you’ll always be an African”.

Balotelli’s club captain says he will ask the referee to abandon Saturday evening’s match if there is any repeat of the abuse.

What is certain is that Mario Balotelli has touched a raw nerve.

He symbolises a vision of a new, multicultural and diverse Italy.

The incessant abuse shows just how far the country still is from reaching that point.

As one leading commentator put it, the racists represent Italy’s past and Balotelli its future.

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

Italy: Hitman Claims Berlusconi Involved in 1993 Bombing Campaign

REUTERS — A jailed hitman told an Italian court on Friday that a mobster convicted for a 1993 Mafia bombing campaign had told him that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was connected to the Cosa Nostra.

The “pentito” or mobster-turned-witness Gaspare Spatuzza told a court in Turin that a Mafia clan leader later jailed for the bombings had named Berlusconi, a media mogul who had not yet entered politics at the time, in connection with the bombings.

Berlusconi is not formally linked to the case which is part of an appeal against conviction on Mafia charges by one of his political and business associates. The premier has dismissed earlier evidence from Spatuzza to prosecutors as “unfounded”.

Spatuzza was being heard in open court for the first time as part of an appeal by Berlusconi ally Marcello Dell’Utri against his conviction for association with the Mafia.

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

Italy: Saharawi: Naples Hangs Photo of Activist for Her Release

(ANSAmed) — NAPLES, DECEMBER 3 — A poster showing a photo of Aminatou Haidar, measuring six metres by three, has been hung from the balcony of the Naples’s town council room demanding the release of Haidar, the honorary citizen of Naples and militant of the struggle for self-determination of the Saharawi population who was illegally arrested and deported to the Canary Islands. Over the past few days Naples mayor Rosa Jervolino had announced the initiative, which is flanked by the diplomatic efforts of the Campania regional government to ensure humane treatment to the honorary citizen of Naples, and most especially a rapid resolution to end the hunger strike that Aminatou began on the day she was arrested. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

London Climate Change March Draws 20,000

Around 20,000 people joined a climate change march in central London on Saturday calling for world leaders to agree a deal to protect the environment at their summit in Copenhagen, which advertisers have cleverly dubbed “Hopenhagen” to call people to the issue.

The protest was organized by a coalition of green groups and charities calling for action to prevent global temperatures rising more than two degrees centigrade, seen by many scientists as the threshold for dangerous climate change.

The marchers, many wearing blue clothes and face paint, made their way towards the Houses of Parliament chanting slogans and blowing whistles, bearing placards saying “Climate Justice Now” and “Climate Change: The End Is Nigh.”

The Stop Climate Chaos protest was attended by Energy Secretary Ed Miliband, who said Britain would push for a far-reaching pact at the Copenhagen meeting starting next week.

“We want the most ambitious deal we can get at the climate change talks,” he told BBC television from the march.

“We are taking to Copenhagen not just the commitment to reduce our emissions by 34 percent by 2020, but a commitment to do more … We want to use our willingness to do more to push other countries — the United States, China, Australia, Japan, everyone — to be part of an ambitious agreement.”

Climate change hitting now

Miliband said plans announced by Britain’s Meteorological Office on Saturday to release data from hundreds of weather stations around the world would rebut climate change deniers.

Global warming skeptics say leaked emails from a British climate research institute show scientists colluded to make global warming data look more convincing.

“(The Met Office) are going to release the data so that those skeptics who say there is something to hide have no place to go,” Miliband said.

He said scientists were “in no doubt about the science of climate change that it is man-made and it is happening.”

Barbara Stocking, chief executive of charity Oxfam, said leaders in Copenhagen had to agree financing for the poorest countries so they could deal with environmental changes already affecting them.

“What we hear from all poor people around the world is: the seasons have changed, we don’t know when to plant,” she told BBC television. “For poor people, climate change is not something in the future, climate change is hitting them now.”

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Swiss Ban on Minarets Was a Vote for Tolerance and Inclusion

The Swiss vote highlights the debate on Islam as a set of political and collectivist ideas, not a rejection of Muslims.

By Ayaan Hirsi Ali

WASHINGTON — The recent Swiss referendum that bans construction of minarets has caused controversy across the world. There are two ways to interpret the vote. First, as a rejection of political Islam, not a rejection of Muslims. In this sense it was a vote for tolerance and inclusion, which political Islam rejects. Second, the vote was a revelation of the big gap between how the Swiss people and the Swiss elite judge political Islam.


What if the Swiss voters were asked in a referendum to ban the building of an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles as a symbol of the belief of a small minority? Or imagine a referendum on building towers topped with a hammer and sickle — another symbol dear to the hearts of a very small minority in Switzerland.

Political ideas have symbols: A swastika, a hammer and sickle, a minaret, a crescent with a star in the middle (usually on top of a minaret) all represent a collectivist political theory of supremacy by one group over all others.

On controversial issues, the Swiss listen to debate, read newspapers, and otherwise investigate when they make up their minds for a vote.

What Europeans are finding out about Islam as they investigate is that it is more than just a religion. Islam offers not only a spiritual framework for dealing with such human questions as birth, death, and what ought to come after this world; it prescribes a way of life.

Islam is an idea about how society should be organized: the individual’s relationship to the state; that the relationship between men and women; rules for the interaction between believers and unbelievers; how to enforce such rules; and why a government under Islam is better than a government founded on other ideas. These political ideas of Islam have their symbols: the minaret, the crescent; the head scarf, and the sword.

The minaret is a symbol of Islamist supremacy, a token of domination that came to symbolize Islamic conquest. It was introduced decades after the founding of Islam…

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Minaret Ban Makes Word of the Year

“Minarettverbot” — German for “minaret ban” — prevailed over some 2,000 other entries as word of the year for 2009 in German-speaking Switzerland.

The word had the potential to establish itself as a typically Swiss word like “muesli” (cereal), the seven-member jury said on Thursday.

The taboo word of the year is “Ventilklausel”, which describes the regulation of entry and migration of people from the European Union into Switzerland.

The word of the year has been chosen since 2003. The jury is headed by Hannes Hug, a radio personality, and made up of journalists from German-speaking Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

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

Why the Swiss Were Right to Prohibit Construction of Minarets

Islam, unlike Christianity, has a political dimension that the West must reject.

by Hege Storhaug

The European media are crowded with editorials condemning the Swiss for voting to prohibit the construction of any more minarets in their country. Here in Norway, the newspaper Dagsavisen went furthest of all, devoting its entire front page on Monday to a comparison of the entire nation of Switzerland with Nazi brownshirts. The front-page illustration did not admit to misinterpretation: the Swiss were Nazis, period.

Virtually all of the media went on autopilot in their abuse of the Swiss. What is at issue is the supposedly “sacred” freedom of religion, which has become an icon especially among left-wing intellectuals and the European niceness industry as a whole. But hold it for one second: As far as I’ve noticed, no major commentator or intellectual who has blasted Switzerland for this plebiscite has taken into account Islam’s political content. Can anyone in my own country of Norway, for example, point to a single — I repeat, a single — Muslim congregation within our borders that is secular? That is, a single congregation that rejects sharia and Islam’s political ambitions?

In any event, thanks to the Swiss minaret vote, Islam and Christianity are yet again being brought together in a forced marriage. A minaret, we keep being told, is just like a church spire. Nothing new there: When it comes to Islam, the editorialists, columnists, and talking heads simply can’t or won’t face reality. These “decent” people are appalled by the Swiss people’s rejection of minarets — period. Yes, I’ll be the first to admit that the case is a disagreeable one — but if so, it’s because Islam is itself disagreeable. To put it bluntly, a mosque with minarets is not the equivalent of a church with a spire. Why? Because Europe’s churches have no political agenda, and because they aren’t obsessed with the painstaking study of ancient “divine” laws that are consistently placed above secular law.

It is precisely this disagreeable aspect of Islam, in contrast with Christianity, that I think we would profit by discussing openly and honestly. Because if I could be sure that a Muslim congregation (with or without its own minaret, even though the minaret adds an extra dose of religio-political power) was founded on the same freedom-based values as, say, the Norwegian state church, and that any “struggle” involving that community was limited to arguments about things like same-sex marriage and whether Muhammed was born of a virgin, they could build as many minarets in my neighborhood as they wanted — because in that case Islam would not represent a challenge to Norwegian liberty and democracy. But unfortunately Islam does represent a challenge. Therefore I pose this challenge to the elite of my country: Of the over 100 Muslim congregations in Norway, name one that will forever fight tooth and nail against sharia and for a secular Norway. If such a faith community exists, it’s doing a very good job of keeping itself hidden.

What the people of Switzerland have understood is that Islam, in its fundamentals, does have political ambitions. By contrast, elsewhere in Europe — and certainly here in Norway — the media have been almost entirely silent about the real-world conditions that help to explain the Swiss vote to begin with. Switzerland already had three mosques with minarets. Then the Turkish cultural association in the town of Olten bought a lot outside of town and applied for permission to build a mosque with minarets. It thereupon emerged that the association’s ideological lodestar was the ultranationalist Alparslan Türkes, founder of the racist National Movement Party and the paramilitary group “The Gray Wolves,” which was responsible for several assassination attempts in Turkey and elsewhere. As several observers have noticed, the ties between totalitarian ideologies such as Nazism, fascism, and Islamism (i.e., political Islam) are intimate. It is not surprising, then, that this so­-called “cultural association” is infected by extremism…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Al Aswany; Baradei Poses Real Problem for Regime

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, DECEMBER 4 — “El Baradei is the most serious opposition candidate — if he should stand in a presidential election he would create real problems for the regime”. This is the conviction of Egyptian writer Alaa Al Aswany, author of the best seller “The Yacoubian Building” and one of the intellectuals most committed to seeing reform in the direction of democratising the country. Mohamed ElBaradei would be a problem for the regime, he told ANSAmed, “because he is a figure of international dimensions and has proven his ability to act competently and with efficiency. And the regime can’t just treat him as it has others: it would be very problematic to arrest and torture him or to fabricate judicial cases against him”. The former general director of the International Atomic Energy Agency “is a figure of high credibility in Egypt and abroad, who has had very tricky but also very prestigious international offices, and I think that every Egyptian is proud of him. And what he says about the necessary conditions for the race for the presidency is absolutely just”. Al Aswani also feels sure that the popular consent would extend to other possible opposition candidates such as the Moslem Brotherhood, whose importance, he stresses, is overestimated in the West, not being able to count on , in his opinion, more than 400 thousand supporters. As for the harsh editorial which appeared in Al Ahram against El Baradei, “this is a state-run newspaper staffed by public sector employees, following the state’s instructions,” he said. He has a similar assessment of the person tipped as an alternative candidate in the same editorial, Egypt’s ambassador to London, Mohamed Shaker: he too is a state employee, who has already been forwarded to counter ElBaradei,” Al Aswany points out, “when they both stood to head the IAEA. This is the game that the regime has long been playing, creating political figures” in order to disturb the formation of a real opposition. But Baradei “has been very clear in spelling out the conditions under which he would stand, now he has to drum up popular support, but I am sure that the people will give it to him” . As for Hosni Mubarak’s son, Gamal, who has for some time been mooted as the official successor to his father, even though his candidacy has never been made official, “I have nothing personal against him,” the writer, who is also a promoter of the new movement against hereditary power structures in Egypt, “but pressure has to be applied to this regime to allow the people to choose their own president”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Egypt: Al Ahram Daily to Elbaradei, Illusions of a Pensioner

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, DECEMBER 4 — Elbaradei lays down conditions “that are already present in the country” is the response of an article in the government daily Al Ahram, with the headline “Dr. Baradei and his post-retirement illusions!”, to the statements of the former secretary-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). After his mandate in Vienna, he announced that he wants to succeed Egyptian President Mubarak, laying down a series of conditions to protect the transparency of the election and to reform the Constitution. “It seems that his absence from Egypt for more than 27 years” writes the editor in chief of the newspaper, Oussama Saraya, “has distanced him from Egypt. In the meantime Egypt has changed substantially, including constitutional changes which have opened its doors to competition and freedom”. “It should be clear (to Dr Baradei and for the other candidates for such an important position — as he called it himself)” the article continues, “that everybody has to respect the current constitution and its conditions,” and not the conditions of an “invented” constitution, in which he “wants to impose his will or the will of foreigners who want to dominate Egypt’s future”. “Respect for the current Constitution” the article adds, “guarantees that only people who deserve it and who are aware of the country’s domestic and foreign problems, not only nuclear disarmament, will be appointed as president. Candidates should be Egyptian and should not have a double nationality as in the case of Baradei, who has had the Swedish nationality for several years. If he wants to work for Egypt’s prosperity, as he claims, he shouldn’t rely on the readings and elaborate analyses of powers that are hostile to Egypt, which try to spread anarchy and chaos and interfere with our domestic affairs…. Dr. Baradei wants to cause problems for Egypt and its political regime”. “What I want to say to Baradei” the chief editor concludes, “is calm down and don’t take advantage of Egypt’s freedom to damage the country, as many others have done”. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Ex-IAEA Head El Baradei Mulls Egypt Presidential Bid

Former UN nuclear watchdog head Mohamed ElBaradei has said he might run for Egypt’s presidency, if the elections are democratic.

His comments were met with heavy criticism in the pro-government press, which backs President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s leader for the past 28 years.

Polls are due in 2011, and some opposition parties have called on Mr ElBaradei to stand.

Mr ElBaradei said he might run if there were “guarantees of fairness”.

The 67-year-old Egyptian ended his 12-year term as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency at the end of November.

President Mubarak has not yet said whether he will seek a sixth term.

There has been speculation that his son, Gamal, is being groomed to succeed him.

Opposition and civil society groups have long complained that the authorities have used emergency laws and the security forces to curb political freedoms.

The largest opposition party, the religious Muslim Brotherhood, is banned and its candidates have to stand as independents.

‘Ensure transparency’

In a statement published in the Egyptian media, Mr ElBaradei called for changes to current laws which make it difficult for independent candidates to stand for the presidency.

Elections must be “under the full supervision of the judiciary… and in the presence of international observers from the United Nations… to ensure transparency,” he said.

Support for a presidential bid by Mr ElBaradei has come from members of the liberal Wafd party, and the pro-democracy Kifaya movement.

However, pro-government newspapers have described Mr ElBaradei as out of touch with the reality of Egypt, and lacking in political experience.

A recent conference of the ruling NDP party failed to shed much light on the succession issue.

President Mubarak steered clear of any future role his son might have, but he made a reference to the party’s younger members, saying they had developed a clear vision for the future of Egypt.

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

Minarets: Egypt’s NCHR, Shortcoming in Tolerance

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, DECEMBER 3 — Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) has discussed the ramifications of a Swiss referendum to ban the building of minarets in the European country. Council chairman Boutros Boutros Ghali will send a letter to the United Nations Human Rights Council chief and the the Swiss government warning them that the referendum results imply that there is a serious lacking in the culture of tolerance and acceptance of the other, according to a press release by the NCHR today reported by MENA. At its meeting yesterday evening the national council reviewed its agenda for the month of December which features arrangements for international and regional conferences to be hosted by Egypt, such as the first Permanent Arab-African Forum for Dialogue on Democracy and Human Rights (December 7-9) which is to be attended by a galaxy of international public figures including Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie chief Abdou Diouf and Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova. Talks also covered preparations for the second regional conference on exchange of Arab expertize in legislation development and the international conference of ombudsman offices. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Minarets: Egyptian Press Very Critical Again

(ANSAmed) — ROME, DECEMBER 2 — The Swiss referendum against the construction of new minarets remains in the spotlight of the Egyptian press which is once again extremely critical of the peoples decision. Al Ahram quotes the Sheikh of al Azar who says the ban on minarets incites hatred and contradicts religious freedom. The Swiss ambassador to Cairo acknowledges his governments fears of an increase in the number of Muslims. El Masri al Yom headlines on the fact that the UN is examining the legitimacy of the referendum. Asharq states that for the Swiss Foreign Minister, the ban on minarets puts the country’s security in danger. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spain: Morocco: Haidar Will Have Passport After Apology

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, DECEMBER 2 — The consul of Morocco to the Canary Islands, Abderraham Leibek, ensured today that Aminatou Haidar, the Saharawi activist that has been on hunger strike for the last 18 days, will have a new Moroccan passport in a half hour if he apologises to King Mohamed VI and recognises his Moroccan nationality. He must ask for the king’s pardon if he wants a new passport, the consul said, quoted by the agency Europa Press. Leibeck assured that he did not believe the hunger strike was real and Stressed that Western Sahara is already Moroccan and that no one can put pressure on Morocco regarding its sovereignty. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Women Learn Self-Defence to Fight Back Against Harassment in Cairo

Cairo — The grunts and groans of women stop several men in their tracks and send them jostling for a better glimpse at the window. Inside is a group of people who could not be less pleased to see them: a self-defence class for Egyptian women.

“Your body language has to be strong,” Mary Elsouyem, the teacher, says. “The moment they start trouble, you send a harsh message letting them know that their behaviour is not acceptable.”

Her class, which meets once a week in the upper-class Cairo neighbourhood of Maadi, is one of dozens that has been started across Cairo. Eight other women were learning with The Times: five wore veils, one was a Coptic Christian, another was three months pregnant. All the women said that they faced harassment daily.

“I thought it was so normal for us to take this abuse. We’ve let the men get away with it for too long,” Sarai Khella, 23, who was brought up in central Cairo, said. For years she kept her head down while men hissed and catcalled on the street.

           — Hat tip: Esther [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Expert Calls for Law Against Foreign Political Intervention

( The influential anti-Zionist organizations in Israel are funded by European Union member states, a researcher for the Institute for Zionist Strategy told Arutz Sheva. The researcher, Adi Arbel, said that European states achieve their aim of influencing Israeli policies by funding groups like Peace Now, Adallah, Yesh Din and B’Tselem.

Arbel said that it was time to legislate laws that would fight this phenomenon. “In the United States there is a law called the ‘Foreign Agent Registration Act’,” he explained. “Organizations that receive funds from foreign governments have to work in complete transparency and publish proper disclosure regarding every position paper or research that they publish, and say who funded it. The purpose is very clear — to have laws here in Israel, too, that will make it mandatory to have the same transparency as in the US and that will show everyone where the money to these groups comes from.”

Arbel said he was convinced that if this legislation passes, those countries would cease transferring funds to Israeli leftist groups. “These countries find it convenient to work secretly through those non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It is their indirect way of influencing what goes on in Israel. If those EU countries are exposed, they will stop transferring contributions.”

The NGOs in question cause Israel great damage, he went on to say. “We saw that they take their information outside. They took out information to the Durban racism conference which made declarations against Israel, and they sent information to Judge Goldstone, who based his report on them.”

Arbel said that the anti-Zionist groups have been exerting political pressure to try and prevent the information about their funding: “We organized a conference with Minister Michael Eitan and we invited those groups to come to the discussions. In response, they wrote a joint letter asking leftist MKs not to participate in the conference. That is why MK Daniel Ben Simon from Labor did not come and other MKs from Meretz also were missing. They want to silence us and this is strange, considering the fact that these are organizations that represent democracy.”

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

Middle East

Ex-UN Inspector Condemns Bush, Blair on Iraq

Hans Blix, who led the U.N. weapons inspection team in the run-up to the 2003 invasion, told the Daily Mail that the then U.S. and British leaders had “misled themselves and then they misled the public” about the reason for the conflict.

The presence of weapons of mass destruction was the main justification for the U.S.-led war in the absence of explicit U.N. approval, but Blix’s team found nothing in the run-up to the invasion, nor were such weapons found afterwards.

They were convinced they had their witch in front of them, and they searched for the evidence and believed it without critical examination,” the 81-year-old told the newspaper.

“I’m not saying they acted in bad faith, they exercised very bad judgment. A modicum of critical thinking would have made them skeptical,” Blix added.

“When you start a war which cost thousands of lives you should be more certain than they were.”

Blix said he warned Blair not to invade, saying: “It would prove paradoxical and absurd if 250,000 troops were to invade Iraq and find very little.”

He added that if Britain had been committed to seeking U.N. approval for the invasion in the form of a Security Council resolution, “they could have slowed the military build-up … but that wasn’t the case”.

“They eventually had so much military in the Gulf that they felt they had to invade,” Blix said.

The last of Britain’s combat troops withdrew from Iraq earlier this year, but an official inquiry into the conflict launched last month has renewed questions about why Blair took the country to war and why.

Blix accused Blair of ‘legal tap-dancing’ by claiming that existing U.N. resolutions gave the green light for war.

“The war, in my view, was illegal, yes. The British knew the evidence (of weapons) was thin, and they should have remembered that before they started shooting,” he said.

When asked whether he believed Blair could be tried for war crimes, Blix said: “Well, yes, maybe so. Well, we’ll see. It’s not very likely to happen.”

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Homosexuals in the Arab world? The West and the Orientalism of Sexuality

Joseph Massad (Columbia University) talks to Ernesto Pagano

Homosexuals in the Arab world? They have been “invented” by the West. In his book Desiring Arabs, Joseph Massad, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin and an associate professor at Columbia University, attempts to follow the process through which the gay movement, born in the USA, has resulted in and tried to impose a homosexual identity on those Arabs who entertain relations with people of their own sex. A process that according to Massad, follows the tracks of western imperialism.

Massad’s viewpoint has infuriated a number of gay organisations, which have accused him of homophobia. His ideas however go well-beyond ideological slogans and he takes into account the complexity of social and economic transformations that have taken place in the West and that, in turn, have influenced the East’s intellectual framework. A number of critics have seen in his work the continuation, in the field of sexuality, of the ideas expressed by Edward Said in his famous Orientalism. This is an Orientalism of sexuality.

Can one say that homosexuals did not exist in the Islamic Arab world before the creation of the gay movement?

We can say that homosexuals did not exist in Europe before the medical and juridical discourses of the second half of the nineteenth century invented them as subjects of medical and juridical intervention, and before capital created relations of production that made possible the development of new residential and migratory activities, and new kinship configurations within and without the biological family that led to the development of forms of sexual intimacy that would be linked to identity and community.

How does the gay movement fit into this process?

The mainly US gay movement (of which Western European movements were mere subsidiary copies), that sought the further institutionalization of gay and lesbian identities and rights, emerged as an outcome of a century during which sexuality more generally had become institutionalized as a major axis through which society can be normalized (as heterosexual), which in turn necessitated a deviant other (the homosexual).

What happened instead in other societies?

Outside the United States and Western Europe, no such developments occurred in medicine or law. While different societies had different forms of social (and sometime, juridical) sanctions to penalize sexual practices that fall outside the purview of the socially acceptable, they did not identify the practitioners of these forms of sex with the sexual act itself, nor did the practitioners form social groups that identified themselves on the basis of their sexual acts.

How do these two universes come into contact?

Colonial and globalized capital, while generating new forms of sexual intimacy and new sexual identities across the globe, have not always generated them in the same way as it did in the US or Western Europe.


Not in ways that are easily mappable onto the American and West European homo-hetero binary. Desiring Arabs charts the way through which social Darwinism, culturalism, civilizational thinking, Orientalism, western colonial medicine, and colonial law influenced Arab intellectuals since the nineteenth century on how they should think through sexual matters and their centrality to what Europe insisted were civilizational questions…

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Iran Urges Bern Not to Enforce Minaret Ban

TEHRAN — Iran warned Switzerland on Saturday of “consequences” over a referendum banning the building of new mosque minarets and urged Bern not to enforce the ban, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The vote went “against the prestige of a country which claims to be an advocate of democracy and human rights,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told Swiss counterpart Micheline Calmy-Rey in a telephone call, quoted by IRNA.

Mottaki said last week’s referendum would “damage Switzerland?s image as a pioneer of respecting human rights among Muslims’ public opinion.”

“Values such as tolerance, dialogue and respecting others’ religions should never be put to referendum,” he argued, warning Switzerland of the “consequences” of anti-Islamic acts, IRNA reported.

The foreign minister hoped the Bern government would soon “take necessary steps and find a constitutional way to prevent imposition of the ban.”

           — Hat tip: Esther [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Approved Kurdish Language Classes at Universities

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, DECEMBER 2 — The Turkish government has approved a plan to open the country’s first Kurdish-language department at a university, as part of its efforts to reconcile with the Kurdish population. The Cabinet’s decision about the new university department was published in the Official Gazette on Tuesday in another step toward recognizing the once-banned Kurdish language. According to Anatolia news agency, Mardin Artuklu University in Mardin will be the first university to integrate Kurdish language studies in its curriculum. Kurds largely welcome the government’s overtures to try to end the Kurdish conflict, which has killed tens of thousands of people as Turkish armed forces clashed with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, in Turkey’s Southeast. Small scale violence continued Tuesday. For the third day in a row, stone-throwing Kurdish demonstrators clashed with police across the nation in the wake of last week’s anniversary of the PKKs founding in 1978. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Iranian Atheist Risks Death Penalty if Repatriated

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 30 — Turkish authorities will be announcing their decision in the coming days over whether or not to repatriate an Iranian citizen who — having escaped from her country after publicly declaring she was an atheist — could be sentenced to death for apostasy if sent back. Negar Azizmoradi, Iranian leader of the controversial International Raelian Movement, was arrested just over a week ago in Istanbul on her arrival in the city with an “irregular” passport, and since then has been held in a refugee centre in the Turkish metropolis. Raelians are part of a sect founded in 1974 by the former sports journalist Claude Vorilhon, 63, as known as Rael. His followers believe that human beings were created on Earth by extraterrestrials with biogenetical engineering, and therefore consider themselves to be atheist and support human cloning, which they believe to be the key to eternal life. Appeals to help the thirty-something Iranian woman have been launched by both the Raelian movement and Iranian refugee groups abroad. In them, Turkish authorities have been asked to release the woman — who reportedly has caught a lung infection in jail — and allow her to go to a European country.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turks to Obama: ‘You Broke it, You Fix it’

Pedestrians in central Istanbul are fuming as a surge in anti-Obama sentiment envelopes the public opinion after the US president’s request for Turkey to send more combat troops into Afghanistan. ‘We have shed enough tears for our dead soldiers. Let him send his own soldiers,’ says one university student in Besiktas

The message from the man on the street is clear about U.S. President Barack Obama’s request for Turkish soldiers to take on combat duties in Afghanistan: You broke it, you fix it.

Most people who spoke to the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in Istanbul’s central Besiktas district said they believe Turkey has no business sending its soldiers into combat in Afghanistan. Some, however, looked positively upon a peacekeeping role for Turkish troops there.

“What is our soldiers’ business in Afghanistan? Let us handle our own security first,” said 53-year-old shop owner Muzaffer Harmandar.

“When [a conflict] happens in eastern [Turkey], then they should send troops, too. Let him send his own soldiers,” said 20-year-old university student Büsra Ertekin, who added that a vote in Parliament should be required to send troops.

A retired civil servant, 52-year-old Nebahat Sarisözen, said she is absolutely against sending troops. “Now it’s Afghanistan. Let [Obama] send his own soldiers,” she said.

Although most of the people’s first reaction was along the lines of, “You broke it, you fix it,” the majority of them also expressed their belief that intervening in another country’s affairs causes more trouble. “If [countries] go on to get involve in others’ business, [trouble] would not end,” said Harmandar.

“Look at Iraq,” said another craftsmen, 42-year-old Veysel Alp, who added that the United States should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. “Things go worse when [foreign] forces go.”

A 19-year-old student, Murat Bulgan, also said he is against any power’s intervention into another country. He was also skeptical about whether a Turkish peacekeeping force in Afghanistan would face conflict. “I hope they do not see combat,” he said.

Not all the people were as skeptical as Bulgan. “If nothing is going to happen to our soldiers, they can go,” said Alp, immediately adding that Turkish soldiers have no business in combat.

“Sending troops to regions without conflict might be OK, as Afghanistan is a nearby country,” said Ertekin. “If something happens there, it would affect us too.”

Some also believe, however, that the Turkish peacekeeping force has stayed too long in Afghanistan. “They should come back. Let them go there, train other [troops] and come back,” said Sarisözen.

A retired teacher, 57-year-old Nevin Soysal, asked what the benefit would be if Turkey sends peacekeeping troops. “Even we have some benefit, it is not right,” she said.

Obama did not deserve Nobel

In general, people’s thoughts about Obama were not positive. “He did not deserve that prize,” said Soysal, referring to the Nobel Peace Prize that the U.S. president recently received. “I could not grasp the function of Obama. I could not see him as a president.”

Bulgan said he had never expected any good from Obama, even from the beginning, and so he was not disappointed with the U.S. president’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan.

Ertekin, on the other hand, said she found Obama to be “double-faced.” “He broke his promise,” she said, referring to his election campaign promise to stop war.

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

South Asia

Afghanistan: NATO to Send 7,000 More Troops

Brussels, 4 Dec. (AKI) — NATO members will send at least 7,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan next year, NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Friday. The decision to send extra reinforcements was made after a pledge earlier this week by US president Barack Obama to send 30,000 extra troops to battle the worsening Taliban-led insurgency.

“At least 25 countries will send more forces to the mission in 2010,” Rasmussen told reporters.

The US has called on allies among the 43 nations with troops in Afghanistan to send about 10,000 extra soldiers.

Rasmussen announced the 7,000 extra troops at the end of a meeting in Brussels with representatives of all the 44 countries contributing to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Twenty-eight NATO member countries attended the meeting.

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton described the response from the NATO allies as “positive”.

But some major allies including France and Germany have not yet indicated whether they will send more troops.

Italy will send an extra 1,000 soldiers and increase the number of paramilitary Carabinieri police to 200.

This will bring its total contingent deployed in Afghanistan to around 4,000, Italy’s foreign minister Franco Frattini said in Brussels on Friday.

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

Bin Laden ‘Seen in Afghanistan in Early 2009’

A Taliban detainee in Pakistan claims to have information about Osama Bin Laden’s whereabouts in January or February of this year.

His claims cannot be verified, but a leading American expert says his account should be investigated.

The detainee claims to have met Osama Bin Laden numerous times before 9/11.

He claims that in January or February he met a trusted contact who had seen Bin Laden about 15 to 20 days earlier in Afghanistan.

“In 2009, in January or February I met this friend of mine. He said he had come from meeting Sheikh Osama, and he could arrange for me to meet him,” he said.

“He helps al-Qaeda people coming from other countries to get to the sheikh, so he can advise them on whatever they are planning for Europe or other places.

“The sheikh doesn’t stay in any one place. That guy came from Ghazni, so I think that’s where the sheikh was.”

The province of Ghazni in eastern Afghanistan has an increasingly strong Taliban presence.

Large parts of the province are no-go areas for coalition and Afghan forces.

He says he declined the invitation to travel to meet Bin Laden because he was afraid of compromising his security, if he was captured by the police or the army.

“If I had met him, the first question they would have asked would be where have you met him, and I would have had more problems and it would have created problems for them [al-Qaeda].”


The detainee claims that Bin Laden is well, though there has been speculation for years that he was in poor health.

“What my associate told me was that he is fresh, and doing well,” he said.

He also claims the al-Qaeda leader is still active, training instructors who in turn train others.

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

Italy to Send 1,000 More Troops and Rethink Afghan Strategy

America’s attitude has changed. Italy now participant in joint operation instead of mere agent

ROME — Minister La Russa, will Italy send 1,500 more soldiers to Afghanistan?

“I don’t know where that number came from. I can say that it is a hypothesis, a maximum figure which we are not going to attain”.

So what will Italy’s actual contribution be?

“Final agreement on numbers will come in the next few days at a meeting between our foreign minister, Franco Frattini, and the American secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. But we’re below that figure”.

Can we say that reinforcements will total 1,000 troops?

“Let’s say yes”.

Sending a thousand extra troops will mean substantial costs.

“Yes, but there are other missions we can shift resources from. I’ve drawn up a readjustment plan. When [economy minister Giulio — Ed.] Tremonti saw it, he said it was perfect”.

And where are you going to get the extra men from?

“About 1,000 soldiers will be coming home from Kosovo during 2010. And we’ll get at least 200 from Lebanon. But it’s not the odd hundred soldiers that are important. The crucial thing is the new strategy. Till now, the Americans thought that areas had to be made safe before starting reconstruction. Now they’ve come round to the view that both operations should be carried out in parallel. Which is what the Italians have always done, delivering security and benefits at the same time. We agree with the plan and the American attitude has changed. We are no longer mere agents; we are co-participants in a joint operation.

What’s the time scale for sending reinforcements?

“There will be only minor adjustments in the first half of 2010. We can say that the bulk of the increase will come in the second half of the year. The Senate has just approved funding for the mission for the last two months of this year in an almost unanimous vote. The IDV [Italy of Values] abstained only in order to distance itself from the PD [Democratic Party]. In January, we’ll be voting on funding for six months and for a further six months in June. And that will include funding for the extra troops”.

Can you tell us how the decision to send reinforcements to the mountains of Afghanistan was reached?

“As a result of several meetings. First, Berlusconi’s meeting with Obama. Then I went to Washington, where I met the US defense secretary Robert Gates, who told me what Obama had in mind. I talked this over with President Napolitano at the last meeting of the supreme defence council. But the meeting at which numbers started to be bandied around was the one a few days ago with NATO secretary general Rasmussen, when he visited Rome”.

Was he the one who asked for 1,500 more soldiers?

“No. He said that within the NATO framework, he was looking for a contribution of at least 5,000 troops from Europe. It’s a question of sharing out this number among several countries”.

Except France, which said no.

“France is thinking it over. I think it will contribute. Currently, we have 2,500 troops in Afghanistan. There are three battle groups at Herat, which we are looking to increase to four, to enable a step change in operational activities”.

What do you mean?

“So far, control has been implemented by Afghan regiments accompanied by small units of Italians. Action has to be on the basis of equality: 500 Afghans and 500 Italians to ensure complete control of the territory, to police areas that have been made safe to prevent insurgents from taking them back”.

This assumes the Afghans are capable of handling major tasks.

“They have to take over their own country. Currently, the entire responsibility is on Karzai’s shoulders. He has to enable the creation of a solid Afghan army and a well-trained police force. We have sent 60 Carabinieri to train Afghani police officers. We have made another 140 available to bring the total to 200 but we are unable to send them because Karzai can’t find enough men to train or anywhere to train them”.

Karzai hasn’t been up the job so far.

“I don’t know whether anyone else would have done better in his place. I don’t want to make judgements. Of course, now it’s up to him to put in place a serious campaign against corruption and opium production. We Italians have always been reluctant to take part in the destruction of poppy crops. The Americans and British did the job but it’s wrong-headed. For centuries, the farmers have been making a living from the crop and if you destroy it, you become their enemy. The Afghans should be doing it. It’s Karzai’s duty”.

Obama hopes so. He wants the Afghans to be able to look after themselves so that he can start bringing troops home.

“This is the surge phase. The aim is to settle things quickly and prepare a gradual pull-out over the next two or three years. A small international contingent might stay in place for a further ten or 15 years, as in the Balkans. But in a pacified situation”.

English translation by Giles Watson

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Far East

4 US Teens Held for Attempted Murder in Japan: Media

AFP — Japanese police Saturday arrested four children of US military personnel on suspicion of attempted murder after a woman crashed her moped when it hit a rope that was stretched across the road, reports said.

The 23-year-old suffered a fractured skull after being thrown from her bike near western Tokyo’s US Yokota Air Base on August 13.

The woman later told police she saw four foreigners shortly before the incident, according to local media.

           — Hat tip: Esther [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Bashing Suspect Steps Up to Law

A MAN has been charged 13 months after US marine Lance-Corporal Brian Lee was bashed into a coma while on recreation leave in Kings Cross.

Detectives said the case remained open and have renewed an appeal for information from the public for information on the identity of a second man allegedly involved in the night assault.

The appeal came after Ali Bazzi, 42, of Arncliffe, was charged by Kings Cross detectives on Wednesday with recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm upon Lance-Corporal Lee on October 13 last year.

The 25-year-old marine was on shore leave in Sydney while his vessel, USS Peleliu, was in port at the Royal Australian Navy’s Garden Island base.

The ship was returning to the US marines who had served in Iraq.

Mr Bazzi, who went to Kings Cross police station with a lawyer and three friends, was charged after being questioned by detectives. He was released on bail and is expected to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on January 26.

Police would not comment on how they came to identify Mr Bazzi as one of two men who allegedly assaulted Lance-Corporal Lee, who is still recuperating from head injuries at Camp Pendleton in California.

Police said Lance-Corporal Lee was assaulted at 2am by two men who jumped from a silver 2000 Mitsubishi Magna as he was walking in an intoxicated state near the intersection of Roslyn Street and Barncleuth Lane.

One man punched him on the side of the face, causing him to fall backwards and hit his head on the road. The attackers then fled in the car.

The head injury put the marine into a nine-day coma.

In April Lance-Corporal Lee recorded an emotional appeal from Camp Pendleton. It was made public by Kings Cross police seeking information from the public that would lead to the arrest of his attackers.

“I had been enjoying a night out on the town in Sydney after being granted liberty from the USS Peleliu and to end up the victim of an assault and fighting for life in hospital is distressing,” he said.

“This attack has taken its toll on me personally, not only leaving me with serious injuries but significantly affecting my career. I still have not returned to full duties with the US Marines.”

He said he battled amnesia, and the attack had also affected his wife and nine-month-old son.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]


UK Should Open Borders to Climate Refugees, Says Bangladeshi Minister

Up to 20 million Bangladeshis may be forced to leave the country in the next 40 years because of climate change, one of the country’s most senior politicians has said. Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, Bangladesh’s finance minister, called on Britain and other wealthy countries to accept millions of displaced people.

In a clear signal to the US and Europe that developing countries are not prepared to accept a weak deal at next week’s Copenhagen climate summit, Abdul Muhith said Bangladesh wanted hosts for managed migration as people began to abandon flooded and storm-damaged coastal areas.

“Twenty million people could be displaced [in Bangladesh] by the middle of the century,” Abdul Muhith told the Guardian. “We are asking all our development partners to honour the natural right of persons to migrate. We can’t accommodate all these people — this is already the densest [populated] country in the world,” he said.

He called on the UN to redefine international law to give climate refugees the same protection as people fleeing political repression. “The convention on refugees could be revised to protect people. It’s been through other revisions, so this should be possible,” he said.

Tens of thousands of people in Bangladesh and other low-lying areas of Asia are leaving their communities as their homes and land become inundated. But this is the first time that a senior politician from a developing country has openly proposed that those countries considered responsible for climate change should take physical responsibility for the refugees created.


Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, said the Bangladeshi migration proposal should be taken seriously. “This is clearly a warning signal from Bangladesh and similar countries to the developed countries. And I think it has to be taken very seriously. If you accept that those countries that have really not been responsible for causing the problem, and have a legitimate basis for help from the developed countries, then one form of help would certainly be facilitation of immigration from these countries to the developed world,” he said.

“If you had 30 or 40 million migrating to other parts of the world, that’s a sizable problem for which we have to prepare. And if it requires changes to immigration laws and facilitating people settling down and working in the developed countries, then I suppose this will require legislative action in the developed world,” he said.

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


Al-Qaida Kills Eight Times More Muslims Than Non-Muslims

Few would deny that Muslims too are victims of Islamist terror. But a new study by the Combating Terrorism Center in the US has shown that an overwhelming majority of al-Qaida victims are, in fact, co-religionists.

In the battle against unbelievers, can one also kill Muslims? Even the terror network al-Qaida is troubled by this question.


But even as such apologetic communique’s from al-Qaida show the terror network stylizing itself as a defender of the true faith wrestling with religious concepts, they also make it look as though any dead Muslims are regretful but isolated cases. The facts, though, tell a different story.

Between 2004 and 2008, for example, al-Qaida claimed responsibility for 313 attacks, resulting in the deaths of 3,010 people. And even though these attacks include terrorist incidents in the West — in Madrid in 2004 and in London in 2005 — only 12 percent of those killed (371 deaths) were Westerners.

           — Hat tip: Esther [Return to headlines]

Environmentalism as Religion (1)

GK Chesterton remarked that when people ceased to believe in God they would believe in anything. In this post Christian society it would seem that many people have adopted the new religion of Gaia worship. The hysteria with which Ward preaches his faith would be amusing were it not for the alarming and sad truth that so many politicians (our very own dyngerous Dyve included) are also worshipers in this pagan cult.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Environmentalism as Religion (2)

Professor Clive Hamilton, now the Greens’ candidate for the Victorian seat vacated by former Treasurer Peter Costello, wins for blind persistence. Observe. Hamilton complains: “The Right has jettisoned science in favour of deeper beliefs.” But this same Hamilton preaches: “So I think where we’re going is to begin to see a Gaian earth in its ecological, cybernetic way, infused with some notion of mind or soul or chi, which will transform our attitudes to it away from an instrumentalist one, towards an attitude of greater reverence.” Again. Hamilton complains: “Climate change is the most important arena for the long-running culture war of the neo-conservatives. In pursuit of their goals they have tapped into primitive fears.”

But this same Hamilton preaches: “I cannot see any alternative to ramping up the fear factor.” This week he showed what he meant, claiming if “climate deniers” won, then “hundreds of millions of mostly impoverished people … would die”. This made these “deniers” — he named me — not just “more dangerous” than Holocaust deniers, but over time “more iniquitous” and “morally worse”. If fact, he threatens a “suspension of democratic processes” to deal with such opposition. So give that man the prize … while we’re still allowed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

From Communism as “The 20th Century Islam, “ to “Islam as the 21st Century Communism?”

By Andrew Bostom

Jules Monnerot’s, 1949 “Sociologie du Communisme,” was translated into English and published as “Sociology and Psychology of Communism,” by The Beacon Press, Boston, in 1953. Monnerot elaborated at length upon a brief, but remarkably prescient observation by Bertrand Russell, published already in 1920, which compared emerging Bolshevism to Islam. Russell had noted in his “The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism,” (London, 1920), pp. 5, 114-115:

“Bolshevism combines the characteristics of the French Revolution with those of the rise of Islam… Those who accept Bolshevism become impervious to scientific evidence, and commit intellectual suicide. Even if all the doctrines of Bolshevism were true, this would still be the case, since no unbiased examination of them is tolerated…Among religions, Bolshevism is to be reckoned with Mohammedanism [Islam] rather than with Christianity and Buddhism. Christianity and Buddhism are primarily personal religions, with mystical doctrines and a love of contemplation. Mohammedanism and Bolshevism are practical, social, unspiritual, concerned to win the empire of this world.”

Monnerot made very explicit connections between pre-modern Islamic and 20th century Communist totalitarianism. The title of his first chapter dubbed Communism as “The Twentieth Century Islam”. He elucidates these two primary shared characteristics of Islam and Communism: “conversion”—followed by subversion—from within, and the fusion of “religion” and state. But Monnerot’s brilliant, remarkably compendious analysis in chapter 1 also introduces the modern Western reader to apposite examples from Islam’s enduring Legacy of Jihad [1]—Mahmud of Ghazni, Togrul Beg, Alp Arslan, the Fatimids of Egypt, the Shiite Persian Safavids, and even the ostensibly “pacific, benevolent” Sufis [2]. Here are extracts from pp. 15, 18-20, of the first chapter:

“[p.15]: …There is a resemblance between the use made of Marxism by the present masters of the totalitarian world and the conversion of nomadic barbarians…such as the Turkish mercenaries Mahmud of Ghazna [Ghazni; modern Afghanistan], [and the Turcomen of Asia Minor] Togrul Beg, and Alp Arslan to the universal religion[s] of the civilization[s] they threatened, namely…Islam…Like Stalin’s Marxism, their conversion gave them the pretext for disrupting civilization from within [emphasis in original]; as converst they were able to attack in the name of the true Faith the very societies which had brought the Faith to them. In the same way the Marxist chiefs of totalitarian Russia attack Western society from within, attempting to destroy the social structure of European countries for the sake of the socialism to which these countries themselves gave birth.”

[pp. 18-20]: “Communism takes the field both as a secular religion [emphasis in original] and as a universal State [emphasis in original]; it is therefore…comparable to Islam…Soviet Russia (to use the name it gives itself, although it is a misdescription of the regime) is not the first empire in which the temporal and public power goes hand in hand with a shadowy power which works outside the imperial frontiers to undermine the social structure of neighboring States. The Islamic East affords several examples of a like duality and duplicity. The Egyptian Fatimids, and later the Persian Safavids, were the animators and propagators, from the heart of their own States, of an active and organizing legend, an historical myth, calculated to make fanatics and obtain their total devotion, designed to create in neighboring States an underworld of ruthless gangsters. The eponymous ancestor of the Safavids was a saint from whom they magically derived the religious authority in whose name they operated. They were Shi’is of Arabian origin, and the militant order they founded was dedicated to propaganda and ‘nucleation’ throughout the whole of Persia and Asia Minor. It recruited ‘militants’ and ‘adherents’ and ‘sympathizers’. These were the Sufis. [emphasis added] As rulers, their sympathies were recognized by other sovereigns in the same way that Stalin, head of the State, is recognized by other heads of States, and rightly, as the leader of world communism. This merging of religion and politics was a major characteristic of the Islamic world in its victorious period. It allowed the head of a State to operate beyond his own frontiers in the capacity of the commander of the faithful (Amir-al-muminin); and in this way a Caliph was able to count upon docile instruments, or captive souls, wherever there were men who recognized his authority. The territorial frontiers which seemed to remove some of his subjects from his jurisdiction were nothing more than material obstacles; armed force might compel him to feign respect for the frontier, but propaganda and subterranean warfare could continue no less actively beyond it.

Religions of this kind acknowledge no frontiers. Soviet Russia is merely the geographical center from which communist influence radiates; it is an ‘Islam’ on the march, and it regards its frontiers at any given moment as purely provisional and temporary. Communism, like victorious Islam, makes no distinction between politics and religion…To an educated European or American, unless he is himself a communist, it appears that communists are religious fanatics in the service of an expansionist empire which is striving for world dominion. But communists see it differently: for them communism is what ought to be, and the whole of history, the whole past of humanity, takes its meaning from this future event…Communism is a faith, and it has in Russia a sort of fatherland; but such a fatherland cannot be a country like any other. Russia is to communism what the Abbasid empire was to Islam. Communism…is a religious sect of world conquerors for whom Russia is simply the strongpoint from which the attack is launched.”

Monnerot returns briefly to Islam’s paradigmatic fusion of religion and state in chapter 12, entitled, “Twentieth Century Absolutism,” invoking [on p. 219] another relevant historical example—the Ottoman empire, and its brutal jihad enslavement and forced conversion to Islam of subjected Christian children for the slave soldier devshirme-janissary system [1]…

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom [Return to headlines]

Intimidation Then Normalization

What is the difference between Marxism, Communism, and Socialism? These days, not much. In the beginning the main difference was disagreement on how to achieve their common goal of complete control of a Nation’s people, resources and wealth.

The ideologies melded over the years and even though the movement for world domination suffered many setbacks, Communism did not die with the fall of the Berlin wall and the rending of the iron curtain.The word Communism became so unpopular the name changed to Socialism, then Liberalism, then to Progressive. They have even been somewhat open about what they are doing, the Communist goals for the United States were entered into the Congressional record in June, 1963. They stopped using bombs and tanks to conquer and pillage, their formula now is, I. I. D. I. N. Infiltrate, Indoctrinate, Demoralize, Intimidate then follows Normalization. Infiltration started in the U.S. in earnest in the late 1940’s. Indoctrination began in earnest in the 1960’s. A KGB agent, Yuri Bezmenov who defected in 1970 and taped an interview (video and partial transcript embedded here:)

America In Peril

Yuri Bezmenov said in 1984 that the Indoctrination and Demoralization of America was complete.

[Comments from JD: See article for link to video. You can also find interviews with Yuri on Youtube.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

One thought on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/5/2009

  1. “In other news, a new study shows that Al Qaeda kills on average eight times as many Muslims as it does infidels.” Oh what a surprise.

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