This weekend the United Arab Emirates (UAE) designated al Qaeda, Islamic State, Islamic Relief and Muslim Brotherhood (MB) affiliates as terrorist organizations. Among the latter were American MB groups, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society (MAS). CAIR postures itself as a Muslim civil rights group. The MAS has concentrated on controlling Mosques with Imams holding extremists views such as the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC). ISBCC mosques nurtured several convicted jihadist terrorists including surviving Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarneav . The current Imam at the ISBCC, Suhaib Webb, a former Oklahoma prison convert to Islam was the Imam at the Islamic Center of Greater Oklahoma City (ICGOC). Another prison convert to Islam, Alton Nolen aka Jah’Keem Yisrael, attended the ICGOC before his horrific beheaded a fellow woman employee at a Moore, Oklahoma food processing company. See our NER article, Oklahoma Beheading Raises Questions about Prison Conversions and American Muslim Leadership.
What is interesting about the UAE move is that many of the MB affiliates in America have been funded by wealthy individuals from the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia.
The United Arab Emirates' (UAE) cabinet approved a comprehensive list of 83 designated terrorist organizations Saturday, the WAM Emirates News Agency reports. The list includes various al-Qaeda affiliates and the Islamic State.
The UAE action follows a decision last spring to follow Saudi Arabia's decision to label the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. CAIR officials previously traveled to the UAE on fundraising missions, State Department records obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism show.
Buzz Feedreported reaching out to CAIR in Washington, DC and got this response:
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling on the United Arab Emirates to delist it as a terrorist group. The Muslim American Society also said it was “shocked” by the move and would seek U.S. government assistance.
The CAIR statement released yesterday disavowed any terrorist connections:
We are seeking clarification from the government of the United Arab Emirates about this shocking and bizarre report. There is absolutely no factual basis for the inclusion of CAIR and other American and European civil rights and advocacy groups on this list.
Like the rest of the mainstream institutions representing the American Muslim community, CAIR’s advocacy model is the antithesis of the narrative of violent extremists.
We call on the United Arab Emirates cabinet to review this list and remove organizations such as CAIR, the Muslim American Society and other civil society organizations that peacefully promote civil and democratic rights and that oppose terrorism whenever it occurs, wherever it occurs and whoever carries it out.
An earlier BuzzFeedNews story noted CAIR’s inclusion among unindicted co-conspirators in the 2008 Federal Dallas Holy Land Foundation trial:
CAIR is a well-known American Muslim advocacy group, based in Washington. The FBI listed it as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 trial of the Holy Land Foundation, which was later convicted of giving millions of dollars to Hamas. A federal judge later ruled that the government should not have included CAIR, which was never charged with a crime, in the list of unindicted co-conspirators.
Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s communications director, said the designation was “news to me” when asked by BuzzFeed News for comment this morning.
Au contraire, BuzzFeed, says the IPT:
FBI policy since 2008 has prohibited communicating with CAIR outside of criminal investigations. That decision was based on evidence in a terror-financing prosecution in Dallas which placed CAIR and its founders in a Muslim Brotherhood Hamas support network called the Palestine Committee. "[U]ntil we can resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and HAMAS, the FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner," Assistant FBI Director Richard Powers wrote in 2009.
The Muslim American Society (MAS) also serves as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in America. A 2004 Chicago Tribunestory describes how MAS was formed as the Brotherhood's U.S. arm after a debate about whether to stay underground. In 2012 testimony, Abdurahman Alamoudi, once the most politically influential Islamist activist in the country, said the connection between MAS and the Brotherhood was well known in Islamist circles.
We note that convicted federal felon Alamoudi and exiled anti-Semitic and anti-American Egyptian MB preacher, Yusuf al Qaradawi living in Qatar, were both trustees of the ISBCC.
We wonder how the US State Department will handle this hot potato? Will they endeavor to avoid following the lead of the UAE designating MB affiliates in the US as terrorist organizations?
At least least two Frenchmen are suspected of being among the Islamic State terrorists who appeared in the Islamic State's latest sickening filmed murder video, it emerged today.
It follows reports that British killers - including a young medical student from Cardiff - and a German were among those seen brutally beheading a number of Syrian soldiers in a video that also appears to show the severed head of American hostage Peter Kassig.
France's intelligence services this morning said they believe another of those who appear in the footage is Abou Abdallah Al Faransi - a 22 year old from Normandy, born Maxime Hauchard.
There were also claims about a second Frenchman in the video, but no names have yet emerged.
Hauchard was interviewed by French news channel BFM TV in July and said he was a convert to Islam who wanted to wage jihad in Syria.
Referring to the western department of France, Jean-Charles Brisard, a terrorism expert, told BFM TV today: 'We are almost certain that this is Maximus, a young resident of the Eure, who calls himself Abou Abdallah Al Faransi.
'We've had it confirmed from his fellow combatants in Syria, but also several of his relatives have recognised him.'
Mr Brisard said Hauchard was born into a Christian family in Normandy, and became a Muslim aged 17.
'This was after becoming the victim of propaganda on the internet,' said Mr Brisard. 'It was a slow process he went through. This indicates that someone is extremely radicalised. He has strong convictions.'
There were also claims about a second Frenchman in the video, but no names have yet been offered.
Mr Brisard said: 'Effectively two Frenchmen have been cited, but I don't know about the second one personally. There's a very strong presumption that there's one, or two French.'
This morning France's top security official said Hauchard is believed to be among the killers in the video, adding that there are 'strong indications' to believe that is the case.
Cazeneuve said authorities are analyzing the video and have been investigating Hauchard
French citizens make up the largest contingent of European jihadi fighters who have joined extremists in Syria and Iraq.
Last night it emerged that a UK medical student was suspected of being a member of the killing squad that murdered 17 hostages.
The father of Nasser Muthana said the 20-year-old appeared to be among 16 jihadists who were filmed beheading Syrian soldiers in the desert.
The sickening video that was on YouTube for an hour yesterday morning also shows the decapitated body of Mr Kassig, a 26-year-old American aid worker.
The Daily Mail has a full description of the video. It was definitely the most professionally produced IS video I've seen. They used at least two cameras for the beheadings.
The monitoring of the charities was disclosed in a Freedom of Information Act request by Claystone, a London-based think-tank specialising in Muslim issues. The commission said that the charities had been tagged under “radicalisation and extremism”, a code introduced three months after Mr Shawcross’s arrival in 2012.
The think-tank’s report, Muslim Charities: A Suspect Sector, shows that of the 44 new publicly identified inquiries begun after January 1, 2013, 17 involved Muslim-related charities.
They were being investigated for a range of concerns. Muslim Aid, which has a budget of £26 million, was being examined over “non-compliance in two field offices”.
David Walker, of the commission’s investigations and enforcement division, said: “A charity’s activities can only be in pursuit of lawful charitable purposes. Concerns about a charity involved in promoting, supporting or giving a platform to inappropriate radical and extremist views would call into question whether what it was doing was lawful.”
You might have supposed that trust in the medical profession would have risen as medicine became more effective at warding off death and disease, but you would have been mistaken. In fact, precisely the reverse has happened throughout the western world, but particularly in the United States. Half a century ago, nearly three quarters of Americans had confidence in the medical profession qua profession; now only about a third do so.
According to international surveys reported in an article in a recent New England Journal of Medicine, Americans are among the most mistrustful of doctors of any western people. Asked whether, all things considered, doctors in their country could be trusted, 58 percent of Americans answered in the affirmative; by contrast, 83 percent of the Swiss answered positively. Positive answers were returned by 79, 78, and 76 percent of the Danish, Dutch and British respectively. Americans were 24th of 29 nations polled in their trust of doctors. Furthermore, just fewer than half of Americans in the lowest third of the income range thought that doctors in general could be trusted, and younger Americans were also less likely to trust their doctors than older ones.
Curiously enough, though, Americans were among the most satisfied of nations with their last encounter with their doctor. Only the Swiss and Danes were more satisfied than they, and then not by very much (64, 61 and 56 percent respectively). In other countries, then, people were more likely to trust doctors in general than be satisfied by their last visit to the doctor; in America, it was about the same proportion.
What, if anything, does this mean?
Opinion polls are notoriously unreliable even as reflections of opinion, let alone as predictors of behavior. The same question phrased differently can produce a very different or opposite answer; the same words mean different things to different people. But let us forget these quibbles, and take the results of the surveys at face value, and assume that people everywhere understood the questions asked in the same way.
Were the 58 percent of Americans who trusted doctors in general almost exactly the same people as the 56 percent who were satisfied with their last visit to their doctor? If so, did they judge the whole of the profession by their last personal experience of it? Clearly the Swiss did not, because nearly a fifth of them trusted doctors in general despite being unsatisfied by their last personal contact with their doctor. This might speak of a largeness of mind that recognises that personal experience is not an infallible guide to the reality of things, or it might mean that the Swiss are respectful of authority despite bad experience of it. The almost exact correspondence of the percentage of trustful and satisfied Americans might mean that they are completely egotistical, or completely rational, in their judgments.
One of the more interesting results of the surveys cited was that even the poorest third of Americans were, at 48 percent, relatively satisfied with their latest contact with doctors, as high a proportion as Swedes as a whole.
Satisfaction may be the end of all human activity, but is it a good guide to the actual efficacy of a health care system? Not long ago there was a survey by the Commonwealth Fund into the health care systems of the world, and – according to its measurements – the British, with their National Health Service, were the most satisfied people in the western world. It was curious, however, that while the British system scored best on all subjective measures, it measured worst, or near worst, on all objective ones except one (the results of diabetic care). Is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so?
The Islamic State militant known as Jihadi John has threatened to bring slaughter to the streets of Britain and the West in a new video announcing the murder of an American aid worker.
The 15-minute-long film was released hours after unconfirmed reports Jihadi John, who is now one of the world’s most wanted men, had been wounded last week in a US air strike. It was not immediately clear when it was filmed.
The militant, who speaks in a London accent, says: “To Obama, the dog of Rome. Today we are slaughtering the soldiers of Bashar and tomorrow we will be slaughtering your soldiers and with Allah’s permission we will break this final and last crusade and the Islamic State will soon, like your puppet David Cameron said, begin to slaughter your people on your streets.”
Prof Peter Neumann of King’s College Centre for Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence, said he now expected to see more attacks such as the shooting of a soldier who had been guarding Canada’s national war memorial in Ottawa.
He said: “Three weeks ago their spokesman came out with a statement saying attack them wherever you find them. Before they had said come to the Islamic State, we are building the Caliphate, if you agree with us, and you are like minded, then you should come to us.”
Jihadi John, the Briton who beheaded two British and two American hostages held by Islamic State terrorists, has been injured in a US-led air strike, according to reports received by the Foreign Office.
The masked ‘executioner’ with a London accent is believed to have narrowly escaped death when he attended a summit of the group’s leaders in an Iraqi town close to the Syrian border last Saturday.
The meeting was targeted by American and Iraqi jets.
‘We are aware of reports that this individual [Jihadi John] has been injured, and we are looking into them,’ a Foreign Office spokesman told The Mail on Sunday.
This newspaper has received an independent account of how Jihadi John was injured and rushed to hospital after a devastating air strike in Al Qaim, in Anbar Province, Western Iraq.
The Foreign Office spokesman added: ‘We have a number of sources of information coming in.
‘The incident occurred last weekend, and so we have received the reports in the last few days. We don’t have any representation inside Syria, and so it is difficult to confirm these reports.’
GERMAN philosopher Immanuel Kant thought it was wrong to tell a lie under any circumstance.
Even if a murderer asked you the way to his victim he said you should tell him the truth.
He allowed no exception.
Thank goodness this is not what most people believe let alone how they act.
Recent research has shown that most people in Britain lie 10 times a week.
I think they must have been lying to the researchers: it must be more like ten times a day or even an hour.
The most common lies the researchers found were about what things cost.
Wives lie to their husbands about the cost of clothes and husbands about the cost of their little toys.
When I buy second-hand books I make sure the seller rubs out the price before I leave the shop.
The sellers tell me they do this for many of their customers, who are mostly men.
Of course there are different kinds of lies and some of them can be very destructive.
But if we and everyone else told the truth all the time, the whole truth and nothing but the truth what an intolerable life we should have.
We should end up killing each other.
It would be kill or be killed.
We lie by our actions and omissions almost as much by words, especially in these times of perpetual electronic contact.
When we don’t answer the phone knowing exactly who it is who is calling we are already preparing an untruthful excuse in our minds for future such as that the phone was switched off or that we were in a meeting and couldn’t answer.
Nothing is worse than someone who, when you ask him how he is, gives you a detailed report about his health.
We ask not for information, for example on the state of his bowel movements, but to be polite.
Always to tell the truth is to be intolerably literal-minded.
Can I come to dinner this evening?
Yes I can in the sense that there is nothing to stop me but I don’t feel like it.
I would find it a bore or it is too far to go or I don’t care for the other guests or the person who invited me is an abominably bad cook but I don’t want to say any of these things so I invent what Oscar Wilde called “a subsequent engagement”.
To tell the truth would be hurtful for the person who has invited us and means us well – sometimes, that is.
Only a brute tells (or someone as naïve as Kant) the truth all the time.
The British used to be very good, perhaps the world champions, at the socially adept lie.
In the 1950s there was a little French book titled English Life that explained to French people who thought they understood English that expressions like, “We much meet again soon” really meant, “I hope never under any circumstances to clap eyes on you again.” Likewise, “Lovely to see you again” meant, “Oh God, not you. What a bore!”
Lies were to English social life what oil is to machines.
When someone is very proud of something, for example a hat or other piece of clothing, only the very closest of friends can say how awful it really looks, how the colours clash, the fit is wrong and so forth.
When someone gives you something to eat and asks if it suits you, you do not reply as a food critic might saying that the meat is overdone, dry as the Sahara and tough as leather, or that there is far too much salt and it is virtually inedible.
In my time I have eaten some terrible meals at the table of hospitable people and I have always disguised my displeasure.
The possibility of telling lies is what gives social life its consuming interest.
If everybody said exactly what he meant and what he meant corresponded perfectly to what he believed to be the truth such life would be dull indeed.
The truth should often be approached crabwise – sideways rather than head-on.
As TS Eliot said, human kind cannot stand very much reality.
Without lies there could be no gossip and then where would be? Bored stiff.
This is not to say that the truth ought never to be told in a straightforward way.
Sometimes beating about the bush or telling an untruth that the listener wants to hear is harmful.
You can fail to tell the truth not out of kindness but out of malice or cowardice because you want them to take the wrong decision or you do not want to be the bearer of bad news.
And we have no infallible guide as to when it is right to tell untruths.
For example doctors are enjoined always to tell the truth to patients and of course they should have a bias in favour of telling the truth.
But people are not all the same and some react very badly to the truth. To insist upon the truth will sometimes do no good: truth telling then becomes a kind of sadism.
It is the doctor’s job to make a judgment and where there is judgment there is the possibility of error but infallible rules also lead to error, probably of a worse kind.
Perhaps the lies that are most destructive are those that we tell ourselves.
We tell ourselves lies even as we are lying to others.
I remember my fury as a child when my lies were not believed.
I persuaded myself that an injustice was being done me but at the same time a little voice in my head annoyingly whispered that this was nonsense that I was telling lies not only to others but to myself.
If you tell yourself lies often enough you come to believe them.
The important thing is not always to tell the truth but to be able to recognise it in yourself and others.
Turkish President Erdogan at Latin American Muslim Leader Summit Istanbul 11-16-14
In a book, The Dark Knight by Harvey Dent, there is an exchange between a criminal, Tejeda and a judge that defines moral choice: you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. President Erdogan, an elected dictator and avowed Muslim Brotherhood supporter has made that choice given his record of human rights abuses of his own people in Turkey and tacit support for Salafist barbarians like the Islamic State, formerly ISIS. Attacks by members of the Turkish Youth Union on US sailors on shore leave, captured on video, in Istanbul with red paint and plastic bags this past week left an indelible impression of how he despises NATO allies. Will those attackers who shouted “Yankees go home”, “pay the price” as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu sought to soften the attack at a G-20 press conference in Australia.
To top that incident we had Erdogan’s resurrection of a hoary fabrication in a Summit with Latin American Clerics in Istanbul this weekend. His assertion was that Muslims discovered America centuries before Columbus. That was based on a literary reference from Columbus' chronicle of his voyages that he thought a formation on a mountain in Cuba looked like a Mosque. Erdogan used that fraudulent claim to endorese his earlier suggestion that he might condone building a Mosque in Communist Cuba. It also gave him leave to castigate a former ally now an avowed enemy, Sheikh Fehtulleh Gulen in exile in Pennsylvania with his globe girlding network of schools. Pennsylvania,. Erdogan said, “Islam is being abused by Those who use Quran for their own interests, by Those who open schools abroad.” A BBC report on his latest agit-propaganda “Muslims found Americas before Columbus says Turkey's Erdogan”, boosting his anti-West and anti-US agenda noted:
Mr. Erdogan also said "Muslim sailors arrived in America in 1178".
He said he was willing to build a mosque at the site Columbus identified.
The Turkish president - whose AK Party is rooted in political Islam - gave no further evidence to back up his theory, instead stating: "Contacts between Latin America and Islam date back to the 12th Century."
Columbus is widely believed to have discovered the Americas in 1492, while trying to find a new route to India.
But in a disputed article published in 1996, historian Youssef Mroueh said Columbus' entry was proof that Muslims had reached the Americas first and that "the religion of Islam was widespread".
However many scholars believe the reference is metaphorical, describing an aspect of the mountain that resembled part of a mosque.
No Islamic structures have been found in America that pre-date Columbus.
Mroueh is a Muslim author, historian of science and radiation control physicist at the Center for Biological & Computational Learning and CSAIL (MIT)
Mroueh’s fiction was published in an article in 1996 on what he claimed was the 1,000th anniversary of the Muslim discovery of the Americas, His fiction keeps turning up like the proverbial bad penny in publications that American school children have and are using like the Arab World Studies Notebook. See our post about the conflict in Newton, Massachusetts raised by Dr. Charles Jacobs andAmerica for Peace and Tolerance concerning the use of flagrantly proselytizing Muslim and pro-Palestinian materials. Americans would call Turkish President Erdogan his remarks about Muslims discovering America pure hokum; others might call it by its rightful name, taqiyya, for Islamic religiously inspired dissimilitude, lying for his god Allah.
Eight years ago in 2006, Mroueh’s and the Arab World Studies Notebook claims that Muslims had discovered America came up short. An article by Deborah Fachner in History News Network of George Mason University eviscerating the fiction, “Did Muslims Visit America Before Columbus?”
Note these excerpts from Fachner’s HNN investigation:
Mroueh cited an Australian archeologist, Dr. Barry Fell, a marine biologist who claimed to find extensive archeological evidence of a significant Muslim presence in the New World in his book, Saga America. Fell drew parallels between West African peoples and Native Americans in the southwest, including cultural and linguistic similarities, and the existence of Islamic petroglyphs in the southwestern region. In particular, Fell mentioned a carving that he believed was done centuries before Columbus that states in Arabic: “Yasus bin Maria” (Jesus son of Mary), a phrase commonly found in the Koran.
Fell’s claims though have been ridiculed by professional archaeologists. They were enraged by his claims, deriding not only his findings, but his inflexible and rigid presentation of them, without the usual caution that characterizes academic pronouncements. Fell’s methods came into question, as detractors noted: “His claims for scientific rigour might hold for marine biology, but when it comes to archaeological interpretation, he ignored the usual rules of evidence.” (Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Cult and Fringe)
Other claims have been similarly criticized. In 2002 the Middle East Policy Council published the Arab World Studies Notebook, a teacher’s guide to understanding and teaching students about Arab culture. The text claims that Arab explorers came to America in advance of Columbus, marrying Algonquin Indians whose descendants eventually became tribal chiefs with names like Adbul-Rahim and Abdallah Ibn Malik. The Notebook and its editor, Audrey Shabbas, came under intense fire for failing to provide corroborating evidence. According to the Washington Times, Shabbas and the Council were slow to respond to concerns from various sources. Peter DiGangi, director of Canada’s Algonquin Nation Secretariat calls her claims “outlandish” and says that “nothing in the tribe’s written or oral history supports them.”
Another critique came from William Bennetta, professional editor and President of the Textbook League. Bennetta referred to the text’s “flights of pseudo historical fakery.” Among other issues, he called the Notebook to task for offering no support for its claim that the Americas were seemingly full of Muslims and Muslim descendants when Columbus arrived. He noted that the Notebook does not even name the English explorers who supposedly found the Algonquin chiefs. Bennetta wrote to Shabbas to inquire about some of the unsubstantiated claims in the Notebook, and while he received a reply, “she didn’t send me [Bennetta] any citation. She made some evasive claims about some published ‘works’.”
In an article featured at David Horowitz's frontpagemag.com in 2004, David Yeagley, adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma, called the Notebook “intellectual genocide on American Indians,” noting that the authors “simply created an Indian story to suit the purposes of the advocacy group, and published it in a school text manual as fact.” Yeagley believed that Shabbas and the other authors were simply trying to gain acceptance for Arabs, further integrating them into American culture by making them ‘native.’ Shabbas also came under fire from the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, which published a report called “The Stealth Curriculum: Manipulating America’s History Teachers.” The report was critical of many sources that are used by history teachers, noting that sometimes there is no way to ascertain the accuracy of materials provided for teachers. In particular, the report referred to the Notebook as “propaganda.”
Turkish President Erdogan is conveying pure hokum, ‘meaningless nonsense’ claiming that Muslims discovered America in 1178 and not alleged crypto Jew Columbus in 1492. But if anyone deserves credit for discovering America we have archeological proof that Norseman Leif Ericksson may have discovered America half a millennia earlier around 1000 C.E. given the settlement uncovered at L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of the island of Newfoundland.
The elections, thankfully, are finally over, but America’s search for security and prosperity continues to center on ordinary politics and raw commerce. This ongoing focus is perilous and misconceived. Recalling the ineffably core origins of American philosophy, what we should really be asking these days is the broadly antecedent question: “How can we make the souls of our citizens better?”
To be sure, this is not a scientific question. There is no convincing way in which we could possibly include the concept of “soul” in any meaningfully testable hypotheses or theories. Nonetheless, thinkers from Plato to Freud have understood that science can have substantial intellectual limits, and that sometimes we truly need to look at our problems from the inside.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the Jesuit philosopher, inquired, in The Phenomenon of Man: “Has science ever troubled to look at the world other than from without?” This not a silly or superficial question. Earlier, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American Transcendentalist, had written wisely in The Over-Soul: “Even the most exact calculator has no prescience that something incalculable may not balk the next moment.” Moreover, he continued later on in the same classic essay: “Before the revelations of the soul, Time, Space, and Nature shrink away.”
That’s quite a claim. What, precisely, do these “phenomenological” insights suggest about elections and consumerism in the present American Commonwealth? To begin, no matter how much we may claim to teach our children diligently about “democracy” and “freedom,” this nation, whatever its recurrent electoral judgments on individual responsibility, remains mired in imitation. More to the point, whenever we begin our annual excursions to Thanksgiving, all Americans are aggressively reminded of this country’s most emphatically soulless mantra.
“You are what you buy.”
This almost sacred American axiom is reassuringly simple. It’s not complicated. Above all, it signals that every sham can have a patina, that gloss should be taken as truth, and that any discernible seriousness of thought, at least when it is detached from tangible considerations of material profit, is of no conceivably estimable value.
Ultimately, we Americans will need to learn an altogether different mantra. As a composite, we should finally come to understand, every society is basically the sum total of individual souls seeking redemption. For this nation, moreover, the favored path to any such redemption has remained narrowly fashioned by cliché, and announced only in chorus.
Where there dominates a palpable fear of standing apart from prevailing social judgments (social networking?), there can remain no consoling tolerance for intellectual courage, or, as corollary, for any reflective soulfulness. In such circumstances, as in our own present-day American society, this fear quickly transforms citizens into consumers.
Black Friday at the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue, New York City, 2011by JoeInQueens.
CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
While still citizens, our “education” starts early. From the primary grades onward, each and every American is made to understand that conformance and “fitting in” are the reciprocally core components of individual success. Now, the grievously distressing results of such learning are very easy to see, not just in politics, but also in companies, communities, and families.
Above all, these results exhibit a debilitating fusion of democratic politics with an incessant materialism. Or, as once clarified by Emerson himself: “The reliance on Property, including the reliance on governments which protect it, is the want of self-reliance.”
Nonetheless, “We the people” cannot be fooled all of the time. We already know that nation, society, and economy are endangered not only by war, terrorism, and inequality, but also by a steadily deepening ocean of scientifically incalculable loneliness. For us, let us be candid, elections make little core difference.
For us, as Americans, happiness remains painfully elusive. In essence, no matter how hard we may try to discover or rediscover some tiny hints of joy in the world, and some connecting evidence of progress in politics, we still can’t manage to shake loose a gathering sense of paralyzing futility.
Tangibly, of course, some things are getting better. Stock prices have been rising. The economy — “macro,” at least — is improving.
Still, the immutably primal edifice of American prosperity, driven at its deepest levels by our most overwhelming personal insecurities, remains based upon a viscerally mindless dedication to consumption. Ground down daily by the glibly rehearsed babble of politicians and their media interpreters, we the people are no longer motivated by any credible search for dignity or social harmony, but by the dutifully revered buying expectations of patently crude economics.
Can anything be done to escape this hovering pendulum of our own mad clockwork? To answer, we must consider the pertinent facts.
These unflattering facts, moreover, are pretty much irrefutable. For the most part, we Americans now live shamelessly at the lowest common intellectual denominator. Cocooned in this generally ignored societal arithmetic, our proliferating universities are becoming expensive training schools, promising jobs, but less and less of a real education. Openly “branding” themselves in the unappetizing manner of fast food companies and underarm deodorants, these vaunted institutions of higher education correspondingly instruct each student that learning is just a commodity. Commodities, in turn, learns each student, exist solely for profit, for gainful exchange in the ever-widening marketplace.
Optimally, our students exist at the university in order, ultimately, to be bought and sold. Memorize, regurgitate, and “fit in” the ritualized mold, instructs the college. Then, all be praised, all will make money, and all will be well. But all is not well.
In these times, faced with potentially existential threats from Iran, North Korea, and many other conspicuously volatile places, we prefer to distract ourselves from inconvenient truths with the immense clamor of imitative mass society. Obligingly, America now imposes upon its already-breathless people the grotesque cadence of a vast and over-burdened machine. Predictably, the most likely outcome of this rhythmically calculated delirium will be a thoroughly exhausted country, one that is neither democratic, nor free.
Ironically, we Americans inhabit the one society that could have been different. Once, it seems, we still had a unique opportunity to nudge each single individual to become more than a crowd. Once, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the quintessential American philosopher, had described us as a unique people, one motivated by industry and “self-reliance,” and not by anxiety, fear, and a hideously relentless trembling.
America, Emerson had urged, needed to favor “plain living” and “high thinking.” What he likely feared most was a society wherein individual citizens would “measure their esteem of each other by what each has, and not by what each is.”
No distinctly American philosophy could possibly have been more systematically disregarded. Soon, even if we can somehow avoid the unprecedented paroxysms of nuclear war and nuclear terrorism, the swaying of the American ship will become unsustainable. Then, finally, we will be able to make out and understand the phantoms of other once-great ships of state.
Laden with silver and gold, these other vanished “vessels” are already long forgotten. Then, too, we will learn that those starkly overwhelming perils that once sent the works of Homer, Goethe, Milton, and Shakespeare to join the works of more easily forgotten poets are no longer unimaginable. They are already here, in the newspapers.
In spite of our proudly heroic claim to be a nation of “rugged individuals,” it is actually the delirious mass or crowd that shapes us, as a people, as Americans. Look about. Our unbalanced society absolutely bristles with demeaning hucksterism, humiliating allusions, choreographed violence, and utterly endless political equivocations. Surely, we ought finally to assert, there must be something more to this country than its fundamentally meaningless elections, its stupefying music, its growing tastelessness, and its all-too willing surrender to near-epidemic patterns of mob-directed consumption.
In an 1897 essay titled “On Being Human,” Woodrow Wilson asked plaintively about the authenticity of America. “Is it even open to us,” inquired Wilson, “to choose to be genuine?” This earlier American president had answered “yes,” but only if we would first refuse to stoop so cowardly before corruption, venality, and political double-talk. Otherwise, Wilson had already understood, our entire society would be left bloodless, a skeleton, dead with that rusty death of machinery, more unsightly even than the death of an individual person.
“The crowd,” observed the 19th century Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard, “is untruth.” Today, following recent elections, and approaching another Thanksgiving, America’s democracy continues to flounder upon a cravenly obsequious and still soulless crowd. Before this can change, we Americans will first need to acknowledge that our institutionalized political, social, and economic world has been constructed precariously upon ashes, and that more substantially secure human foundations now require us to regain a dignified identity, as “self-reliant” individual persons, and as thinking public citizens.
Kassig threatened by Jihadi John last month. Source: AP
The Islamic State terror group has claimed to have beheaded American hostage Peter Kassig, an aid worker and former Army Ranger, in a graphic new video.
In the nearly 16-minute video uploaded to social networks on Sunday, a black-clad militant with his face concealed stands before a severed head that he claims is that of the U.S. aid worker. The video also showed what appeared to be the mass beheading of several captured Syrian soldiers, but did not show the beheading of the person identified as Kassig.
Sky News reported that the man featured in the video spoke in English with a British accent. The Associated Press reported that his voice had been distorted to make him harder to identify. It was not immediately clear whether he was the same militant who has appeared in other beheading videos and has been referred to as "Jihadi John" in accounts given by former hostages of their captivity.
The video identifies the militant's location as Dabiq, a small town in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo, near the Turkish border.
Kassig formed the aid organization Special Emergency Response and Assistance, or SERA, in Turkey to provide aid and assistance to Syrian refugees. He began delivering food and medical supplies to Syrian refugee camps in 2012 and is also a trained medical assistant who provided trauma care to injured Syrian civilians and helped train 150 civilians in providing medical aid.
After he appeared in the video, Kassig's parents released a statement claiming that Kassig had converted to Islam while in captivity and taken the name Abdul Rahman.
The release of the video comes approximately a week after Syrian friends of Kassig called for the hostage's release, also saying that he had converted to Islam and was trying to help those afflicted by the country's three-year-old civil war.
One of the friends, Amjad al-Moghrabi, told reporters in the northern Lebanon city of Tripoli: "We are demanding the Islamic State to release him, if they know Islam. He is a Muslim and has not participated in what his country is doing." He was referring to airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
Dr. Ahmad Obeid, a friend of Kassig said "our demand is to release him and to return to his family because as a person he helped us and we should ask for mercy for him."
"He is unfortunately detained so we are calling for his freedom because he supported our cause and we cannot leave him and let them hurt him," Obeid said.
"Our cause?" Possibly the Free Syrian Army, but it's unclear.
A pagan came to Rabbi Hillel saying that he would convert to Judaism if Hillel could teach him the whole of the Torah in the time he could stand on one foot. Hillel replied, “What is hateful to yourself, do not do to your fellow man. That is the whole Torah; the rest is just commentary. Go and study it.”
Once again the Speaker’s Action Group under the direction of Shirley Anne Haber, Executive Director, Miles Smit and a network of dedicated volunteers and co-sponsors (such as B’nai Brith) has brought us a remarkable documentary film, Body and Soul, by Gloria Greenfield. Shown at a cinema in North York, Toronto, on November 12, tickets sold out days in advance and the theater was packed.
Greenfield was on hand to take questions from the audience, which were varied and thoughtful. A reception for the audience was held after the film. There was much enthusiastic discussion and DVD copies of the film sold like hotcakes. I went home that same evening and spent many hours late into the night, thinking about the film, what it showed and what it means to me. Here are my thoughts.
It is now commonly understood that we are living in an “ahistorical period.” This does not mean that history has stopped. It means that among a growing number of college educated North Americans, it is no longer expected that an educated person must have a grasp of world history, or Western history, or American history, or the history of the ancient world, which produced that blueprint for American independence and democracy, the Old Testament. This phenomenon has been well documented and can be explored through the many publications of the Boston based National Association of Scholars (NAS).
And so people now get their history from Hollywood films, TV, magazines, newspapers and the blogosphere, from John Stewart or the Colbert Report. They become filled with pseudo history, as landfills are filled with garbage. This has allowed a disciplined and dedicated coalition of Cultural Marxists and radical Islamicists to take advantage of America’s newly minted historical amnesia. Their self-declared enemy is the Jewish people and, any supporter of the State of Israel.
Instead of empirical history based on primary sources and archaeology, these self congratulatory, self anointed, revolutionary elites now provide the masses with a new narrative, one that denies that there is an organic relationship between the Bible and English speaking democracies. At the same time, this new narrative also denies that the Jewish people have any legitimate historical, cultural, religious or political connection to the land of Israel. On the one hand the goal of this new narrative is designed to, in the eyes of the average American, destroy the legitimacy of the modern State of Israel and on the other hand, to create an invented history for an invented people, the Arabs of the Land of Israel and what is now called Jordan (Mandated Eastern Palestine).
One American Jewish filmmaker who has woken up to this problem is Bostonian, Gloria Greenfield. Recognizing that a new generation of North Americans under thirty have been relentlessly indoctrinated with this new anti-Israel historical narrative, she has put together a documentary that demonstrates the continuous Jewish tie to the land of Israel for the last three thousand years.
Greenfield has told the almost entire story of the people of Israel through filmed interviews with a collection of world experts. Each one of them has published acclaimed books and articles on all and every issue that touches upon the unbroken relationship between the Jewish people and the land of Israel.
It is a tough job, and she was given just over an hour to do it. This essay is a summary outline of what she presents, with some of my own thoughts and reactions. It is not a film review where I tell you what I like or do not like. This short review essay (short in the 1960s, pre Twitter era, definition) is no substitute for the fine visuals and roster of experts that are featured in her film.
But, if it can motivate any of its readers to see the film, or even better, get their college uneducated children to see it, then I have done my duty. If then having seen the film, they start reading works by Victor Davis Hanson, Ruth Wisse, Yoram Hazony, Jonathan Sarna, Shmuel Trigano or any of the many other experts and scholars that are featured in the film, I will take all my friends out for dinner to a very expensive restaurant.
The terrorist group Islamic State (Isis) has announced that it plans to mint its own money to be used across its self-declared caliphate. In a statement on Wednesday the group said that the new currency would remove it from the “tyrannical financial system imposed on Muslims”.
The announcement came as Isis also released a 17-minute message purporting to come from its leader, Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, who had been thought to have been killed or injured in a recent airstrike.In the message he says: “Be assured, O Muslims, for your State is good and in the best condition. Its march will not stop and it will continue to expand. Soon, the Jews and Crusaders will be forced to come down to the ground and send their ground forces to their deaths and destruction.”
It is the currency, however, that will be seen as an effort on the part of Isis to regain the initiative after several battlefield losses.
Pictures released of the coin designs show the words "Islamic State" and "a caliphate following the model of the Prophet (Mohammed)" engraved on one side, as well as the value and weight of the coin. On the other side of the coins various symbols are used. A world map appears on the gold five-dinar coin, while the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem where the Prophet prayed is detailed on the silver 10-dirham. The copper coins portray the crescent moon and three palm trees, which are also significant symbols in Islam.
Unlike the modern form of the dinar, used today in some Muslim countries, the Islamic dinar would, like the ancient dinar, be made of pure gold and silver. It currently remains unclear, however, as to how IS intend to obtain the precious metals to make the coins. Experts believe IS is financed predominantly through crude oil sales, ransoms for kidnappings and the extortion of local populations under IS control.
A British surgeon who was due to stand trial for assault has fled the country and become a senior leader of the Taliban in Pakistan. Mirza Tariq Ali, 39, who practised in the NHS, evaded the UK authorities despite having his passport taken from him while awaiting trial at the Old Bailey.
He resurfaced last week in a recruitment video for a Taliban splinter group, urging foreign jihadists to join him.The doctor has become a mouthpiece for the terrorist organisation and under a new name — Dr Abu Obaidah Al-Islamabadi — has begun publishing an English-language jihadist magazine online, aimed at recruiting Muslim youths from the West.
Ali, who lived in Walthamstow, east London, (I cease to be surprised at what is happening in my old home) arrived in Britain in 2004, having previously been a doctor in the Pakistan army. He worked shifts as a locum surgeon in London and Cambridge, having trained at a London teaching hospital.
Police and security services are now facing embarrassing questions over how he was able to flee. The surgeon is one of a growing number of known extremists who have skipped bail or surveillance to wage “holy war” abroad.
In the case of Ali, he had been held twice by police and in November last year was briefly imprisoned for breaching his bail before evading the Metropolitan Police and MI5 and travelling abroad. He slipped out of Britain in an attempt to travel to Syria to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), according to his video, while awaiting his trial at the Old Bailey on a violent disorder charge.
He was sentenced in his absence in June this year to 15 months in jail.
Ali was charged with violent disorder last year after taking part in a demonstration calling for jihad in Syria, organised by the banned extremist group al-Muhajiroun. He was seen hitting a bystander repeatedly with the pole from a placard.
Ali was rearrested for breaking his bail conditions by taking part in two more extremist rallies. He was ordered to surrender his passport before a trial set for May. Instead of going to court, he fled the country.
In the Taliban video, Ali says that he was detained in Croatia and deported to Pakistan rather than being sent back to Britain to serve a prison sentence. It is unclear why he was in Croatia. He describes his comfortable life in Britain before leaving to join Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaatul Ahrar (TTPJA), a faction of the Pakistani Taliban. Speaking in Urdu and English, Ali says he studied surgery from 2004 while also preaching Islam. He says that while trying to join Isil, he was arrested somewhere on the way and jailed in Croatia. After his release from Croatia, Ali says he was deported to Pakistan where “after some difficulties” he has now joined the TTPJA.
Ali was last month struck off the medical register after a hearing in Central London.
On November 14, 1914, during the First World War, the Ottoman Caliph, in accordance with Turkey's alliance with Germany, issued a call to jihad to the Muslims in the Caucasus region to rise up against the Russians and aid Enver Pasha's offensive. It failed, and so the Turks found a scapegoat in the Christian Armenians.
I doubt seriously whether the National Cathedral's leadership was aware of this.
The National Post will next week generously serialize excerpts from my just published book, Rise to Greatness, The History of Canada From the Vikings to the Present, (Random House Canada). Its editors have asked me to explain why I wrote the book, and I hope readers will indulge this explanation. When I was in school, the explorers (Jacques Cartier, Samuel de Champlain, La Salle, La Verendrye, and some of the soldiers and traders such as Frontenac and d’Iberville), were presented as adventurous people. Their stories were compelling and it was relatively easy to remember some of their exploits.
But the history of Canada was mainly a recitation of a sequence of dates of events, and there was not much interpretation or glamorization of the events, nor much effort to connect them sequentially in a causal way. The milestones of Canadian history just happened, as if as flukes: As the U.S. Civil War ended and that country emerged with the largest army and greatest generals in the world and looked somewhat covetously at Canada again, as they had in the War of 1812, the British colonial office threw the settlements strung along the northern side of the U.S. border together and called them a country, as the best chance of keeping Canada out of the hands of the Americans. There is some truth to this muddling-through history of Canada, but it is not the whole, nor even, in my opinion, the principal part of the story.
The British policy of remaining aloof from the main continental European powers, assisting now some and now others to assure that no country became durably predominant in Europe, originated with Henry VIII’s great minister, Cardinal Wolsey. The British defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 ended the apparent leadership of Europe by Spain. Cardinal Richelieu, the great sponsor of Samuel de Champlain, founder of Quebec, expanded France and asserted an absolute monarchy (1624-1642), and made France the continent’s leading power through Louis XIV, the French Revolution and Napoleon. Canada, and the fighting in and around it, were a factor in these wars and the resolutions of them, from before Richelieu almost to the mid-18th century, but Canadian histories have rarely situated this country in that international context.
Canadians were in an ambiguous condition for most of their history as an ostensibly autonomous country, but dependent first on the British for protection from the United States, and then somewhat overwhelmed by the proximity of their powerful neighbour. The difficulty Canada faced after the War of 1812, which was entirely provoked by Britain’s high-handed abuse of its naval superiority over the United States, but which was mainly fought in the approaches to Montreal and what is now Toronto, was that Canadians had to extract their autonomy and then their full independence from the British, but not in a way that irritated the British to the point of conceding Canada to the United States in exchange for some other consideration.
From Waterloo, in 1815, Britain was both the leading power in Europe and the holder of the balancing scales of the continental powers. This became steadily more complicated as Russia, Prussia, Italy and Japan joined the ranks of the Great Powers between 1700 and 1870. The defeat of the insurrection and abolition of slavery in the United States Civil War in 1865 made that country a great power in the world, but one that had renounced any interest outside the Americas in the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, and evinced none for many years.
Yet from its own Revolution almost to the First World War, the United States had an intermittent interest in taking Canada. The dramatic events of 1871, when Bismarck defeated France, annexed Alsace and Lorraine and united Germany under Prussia, meant that Germany became, instantly, an immense rival to Great Britain. A military power clearly stronger than France, and an industrial power at least as great as Britain, was going to make it much more difficult for the British to continue to assure inconclusive squabbling and competing among the continental powers while the British took what they wanted on the other continents by virtue of their unchallengeable naval superiority.
The rivalry with Germany intensified in the later 19th century, especially after Germany began an ambitious naval building program. This required Britain to placate all the Great Powers that were not allied to Germany, including the United States, as well as to be more appreciative of the people and resources available to the British in their Empire. At the Washington Conference over the then vexatious issue of fisheries in 1871, John A. Macdonald, the prime minister of the new Confederation of Canada but considered by the Americans to be merely a colonial official in the British Empire, had to fight his way past the condescensions of the Americans and the irresistible impulse of the British to concede the U.S. whatever it wanted, as long as Canada paid for it. The same problem was evident in the Alaska Boundary dispute 40 years later, when Sir Wilfrid Laurier found himself trying to assert himself against both the Americans and the British.
The tortuous history of Canada has been that it had to start as a French country or it would have been subsumed into the British colonies to the South, and it had to become British-ruled once New France was self-sufficient, because France could not maintain it in the face of British naval superiority. The British American colonies had to cease to be British, driving British loyalists into Canada, to give the British an incentive to protect the British and French Canadians from the Americans. The French and English Canadians had to work it out between themselves so they could jointly winkle self-government from Britain while retaining British protection from the Americans. And even after the First World War, where Canada’s performance was sufficiently significant that the British and the Americans had to accept Canadian independence as a substantial country, British colonial attitudes perished slowly. Canadian self-consciousness opposite the over-powering intimacy of the mighty United States also took decades of agonizing progress until Canada could come together into a coherent nationality. This process was of course complicated by the independent aspirations of Quebec nationalists.
Canada’s emergence was thus always gradual and subtle and never lent itself to ringing phrases and stirring anthems. But a great country resulted and the apparently unheroic nature of its development made it even more heroic. It isn’t hard to stir people up with “Give me liberty or give me death!” but responsible government, confederation, and the Notwithstanding Clause are a challenge.
To my knowledge, the history of Canada has never been explained before as the inexorable progress from utter obscurity to being one of the 10 or 12 most important countries in the world, not by a series of flukes, though many developments were fortuitous, but by the determined belief of successive leaders, starting with Champlain, that something unique and distinguished should be built in the northern half of this continent. From Champlain’s grand vision of New France to Carleton’s enlightened quest for a bi-cultural British colonial state, to the Baldwin-LaFontaine-Hincks establishment of an autonomous state affiliated to Britain, to the Macdonald-Cartier-Brown creation of what remains history’s only trans-continental, bicultural, parliamentary confederation, and to the present, a magic thread of pragmatic, adaptable determination has created a country that is now important to the world. It need no longer just tug respectfully at the trouser-leg of the Americans or British, though that impulse persists, and it need not be hobbled by a priggish and hidebound official clerisy, though to some degree, it still is.
It was determined in 1920 that Canada should open its own ministry in Washington. It took seven years to do it, though three quarters of the activity of the British embassy in Washington was Canadian affairs. That mentality, though much diminished, lingers yet. I don’t think Canadian history has ever been presented in this perspective, its development tied to European and Anglo-American relations, and the complexities of international events skilfully navigated by the statesmen who built the country. That was my reason for writing about what is, contrary to what most of us were implicitly brought up to believe in our schools, an interesting story.
KHANKE, Iraq — The 15-year-old girl, crying and terrified, refused to release her grip on her sister’s hand. Days earlier, Islamic State fighters had torn the girls from their family, and now were trying to split them up and distribute them as spoils of war.
The jihadist who had selected the 15-year-old as his prize pressed a pistol to her head, promising to pull the trigger. But it was only when the man put a knife to her 19-year-old sister’s neck that she finally relented, taking her next step in a dark odyssey of abduction and abuse at the hands of the Islamic State.
Her other sister is just 12. She and the 19-year-old continue to be held by these monsters along with thousands of others. Continue reading Kirk Semple's article in the NYTImes.
The picture of Muslims praying inside the Episcopal National Cathedral in Washington yesterday. I was unable to attach this to my comment on Rebecca's post here. A lady who objected was escorted out of the church.
The picture is from the Guardian website. Of those comments not deleted for failing to abide by "community standards" many (not all) talk sense. The Guardian comments section has been joined by some sensible people in the last year who are taking argument and education to the useful idiots.
Eg:- * After this nice gesture of religious tolerance are Christians or Jews going to be invited to pray in a mosque? *Why don't we make that happen?
*In a word, no.
and:- How incredibly naive of the church to have even thought this would bring understanding. The very word Islam means submit. You really think a Islamist doesn't understand that. Foolishly planned and executed
An exclusive hotel has banned alcohol and pork after being taken over by a Middle Eastern businessman who wants to run it ‘in accordance with Sharia law’. The strict Islamic policy was imposed without warning this week at London’s Bermondsey Square Hotel – where the bar and grill was previously run by Masterchef judge Gregg Wallace.
Staff said the new rules were swiftly implemented on Tuesday on the orders of the new Muslim owner, forcing waiters to tell disgruntled guests that much of the menu was no longer available.
Diners were denied dishes that used only traces of alcohol – such as beer-battered fish, a pudding with ‘drunken cherries’ and rum ice cream. Drinkers were offered only non-alcoholic beer and elderflower cordial. Forced to improvise, chefs are now trying to source chicken and beef sausages instead of pork varieties for breakfast and have replaced the popular hog roast with rabbit terrine.
The £220-a-night hotel is believed to be one of the first in the country to introduce the strict Muslim policy but staff say the changes have caused business to plummet, with many reservations cancelled. Several fear for their jobs unless the hotel – previously voted the UK’s trendiest place to stay and where Gordon Ramsay once filmed a show – is marketed for a different clientele.
An IT consultant, who has been a regular at the hotel, said: ‘A group of us were meant to be meeting in the bar and they said: “We can’t serve alcohol any more.” When I contacted the manager to ask why, he told me that the new owner wanted it to be a Sharia law hotel. Under Sharia law, you can’t make a profit from alcohol.’ The guest said he would no longer book the hotel in future, adding: ‘They’ve got to be careful. It’s been quiet and this is almost the death knell.’
On community website london-se1, a poster called Drgreenmark2 said customers were ‘kicking off’, adding: ‘Who on earth believes a “dry” hotel and restaurant is going to work in central London, never mind Bermondsey square? This is not Saudi Arabia!’
Gavin Smith posted: ‘I’m a teetotaller but think the no alcohol and no pork policy is too prescriptive. What next? Are guests in the linked hotel going to be asked to provide marriage certificates if they want a double room? Are same-sex couples going to be refused entry?’ As one of the comments said, at another small hotel family this led to a vicious prosecution which finished off the elderly Christian owners.
The change was so swift that the hotel’s website and menus have not yet been updated and the venue still bills itself as the place to stay for ‘party people, foodies and fashionistas’.
Menus for the GB Bar and Grill still offer full English breakfast with sweetcure streaky bacon and Cumberland sausage, and roast pork belly with black pudding. The restaurant boasts of ‘signature British dishes’ but even the children’s option of sausage and chips will now have to be changed to meet the new policy. The hotel website also continues to boast of champagne receptions, its ‘inviting cocktail bar’ and is illustrated with pictures of guests drinking beer.
Customers calling to make reservations are warned they will not be allowed to order beer, wine or spirits because the hotel is under ‘new management’. However, they can buy alcohol from outside and drink it in their rooms.
Several staff at the hotel did not know the new owner’s identity and had been told only that he was from the Middle East. Some were puzzled by the new policy at such short notice as the hotel does not have a significant Muslim clientele and the food is not halal.
Nearby restaurants said they saw a surge in business when customers walked out of the hotel’s grill on Tuesday. The Village East Brasserie said it had 12 extra diners who specifically asked: ‘Do you serve alcohol because the hotel we are staying in doesn’t?’
The hotel was also the setting for Channel 4’s Hotel GB in 2012 when Gordon Ramsay, Mary Portas and Gok Wan competed to run the venue for charity. It was voted the trendiest in the UK by TripAdvisor in 2010 and rock stars are among those who have sampled its 80 designer bedrooms, which include loft rooms overlooking London’s skyline.
Robert Holland of Bespoke Hotels, which has operated the hotel since it opened in 2009, said decisions were made to change ‘some elements of the business . . . These are in the best interests of the future of the hotel,’ he said. ‘We always have, and continue to, welcome guests of all shapes, sizes and denomination.’
Kano, Nigeria: - Boko Haram has seized the north-eastern Nigerian town of Chibok, from where 276 girls were kidnapped more than six months ago and which the government vowed to secure after the mass abduction. The April 14 kidnapping in the impoverished town in southern Borno state brought unprecedented global attention to the armed Islamist group's brutal five-year uprising.
Heads of state and top celebrities joined a viral social media campaign calling for the rescue of the seized, mostly Christian, schoolgirls, 219 of whom are still being held.
But the violence in the north-east has intensified since, with Boko Haram reportedly seizing more than two dozen towns and Nigeria's security forces reportedly absent in many areas. The military was not immediately available to comment on the developments in Chibok. But given the town's symbolic significance, its fall will likely raise fresh doubt about Nigeria's ability to handle the Boko Haram threat.
"Chibok was taken by Boko Haram. They are in control," said Enoch Mark, a Christian pastor whose daughter and niece are among the hostages being held.
Mr Mark and the senator for southern Borno, Ali Ndume, said the militants attacked on Thursday, destroying communications masts and forcing residents to flee. Mr Ndume said that he had received calls from fleeing residents about the attack that the town "was now under their [Boko Haram] control".
In a series of phone calls to AFP in recent months, Chibok elders stressed that security had continued to deteriorate, despite the promises made by the government.
Carpets have been arrayed diagonally in the transept, to the side of the sanctuary, so that worshipers can face in the direction of Mecca without seeing crosses or Christian icons. (Photo: J. Socolovsky / VOA)
Prayer carpets were laid out under the soaring arches of the Washington National Cathedral early Friday for an unprecedented Muslim worship service in one of the best known churches in the United States.
Reverend Gina Campbell welcomed worshippers, declaring the Washington National Cathedral "a place of prayer for all people."
"Let us stretch our hearts and let us seek to deepen mercy for we worship the same God," she told the men and women sitting separately in rows, on the floor before her.
In the sermon, or Khutba, Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool praised religious freedom in America and lashed out against extremism, specifically mentioning Islamic militants who have slaughtered Christians in the Middle East.
"If we do not stop them at the monasteries, they will make their way to the mosques," he said.
Church leaders and their Muslim partners say they hope the Friday Jumaa prayers will send a message of interfaith brotherhood that counters extremists’ use of religion to justify hatred and strife.
The idea came to the cathedral's director of religious liturgy, Rev. Gina Campbell, and South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, who is a Muslim, when they organized an interfaith memorial service for Nelson Mandela last year.
The carpets have been arrayed diagonally in the transept, to the side of the sanctuary, so that worshipers can face in the direction of Mecca without seeing crosses or Christian icons. Muslims are not supposed to pray in view of sacred symbols alien to their faith.
Ambassador Rasool said the service is meant to be both a symbol for America's three million Muslims to feel welcomed in its predominantly Christian society, as well as for Muslims in countries where they are the majority, to show hospitality to people of minority faiths.
Despite its name, the Washington National Cathedral is not an official U.S. government church, which is prohibited by the Constitution. However, the Episcopal church, which is funded by private donations, does possess important symbolic value and regularly hosts official events, such as presidential inaugurations and funerals.
White widow Samantha Lewthwaite is 'alive and well' and living in southern Somalia with her jihadist husband, a wanted al-Qaeda suspect who calls himself Marco Costa, Kenyan sources said today.
In a forged Mozambican passport obtained by MailOnline his picture clearly identifies him as Fahmi Jamal Salim who has been on the run from Kenyan police since he shot and killed two police officers in Nairobi in 2011. Lewthwaite and Salim also appear in a 'selfie' taken at their home. Police are using these and pictures of their two children in a countrywide manhunt for the couple.
Counter-terrorism sources in Kenya revealed their updated profile of Lewthwaite in response to claims from a Moscow news agency earlier this week that she had been killed by sniper fire while fighting with a Ukrainian volunteer battalion against pro-Russian rebels.
Kenyan intelligence authorities are demanding to see Lewthwaite's body and say they refuse to believe she has been part of any militia outside East Africa.
A senior source said: 'We believe we currently have an accurate profile of Lewthwaite's life and location. She has been linked to other jihad suspects in the past but we now know that she is in a stable marriage with Salim and has two young children with him. They pose a major threat to security, working at a high level in the al-Shabaab terror group and planning bombing raids in Somalia and Kenya in retaliation for Kenya sending troops to Somalia to defeat al-Shabaab.'
By marrying Salim Samantha Lewthwaite has joined a family steeped in Muslim extremism and the jihad. A comprehensive file seen by MailOnine reveals that Lewthwaite, 30, married Salim in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2008 after meeting him through a Muslim hate cleric, Abdullah Al-Faisal, she regularly visited in Long Lartin Prison, Worcestershire, following the death of her first husband Germaine Lindsay.
Al-Faisal has admitted that Lewthwaite asked him to find 'a young handsome devout Muslim ' to marry. It now emerges that Lewthwaite had met and married Salim, through the cleric al- Faisal, in Johannesburg in 2008. They had false South African identities and both worked in the city while planning their jihadist activities. Salim ran a medical supplies business while Lewthwaite was an accountant for a Halal pie-making factory. She gave birth to two children in a Johannesburg clinic, completing their family of four, including Lindsay's son and daughter.
They are now believed to be living in the Lower Shebelle area of southern Somalia, an al-Shabaab stronghold , travelling by dhow – an Arab fishing boat – to reach their counterpart jihadists in Mombasa – or crossing the porous Kenyan border by vehicle at Kiungi town.
Lewthwaite home-schools her four children and has written in her diaries of her hope they will become jihadists. The secretive local al-Shabaab community takes care of the children while their parents are away on visits to networks in Kenya.
Lewthwaite is considered an important banker/logistician for al-Shabaab. Until recently she was a devoted follower of Ahmed Abdi Godane, the al-Shabaab founder and spiritual leader who announced alliance to al-Qaeda in June 2011. Godane was the mastermind behind the shocking armed raid on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall in October 2013, describing his militia's 67 murders there as 'an epic battle written in blood by my fighters to change the course of history'.
A source told MailOnline: 'We have been tracking Lewthwaite and Salim for four years now and we know a great deal about them. But they are living within the protection of an extremely dangerous al-Shabaab community and all we can do is wait for them to make a fatal mistake. If we are able to arrest them we will be proud to produce a show trial exposing their trail of murder and destruction throughout Kenya and Somalia'.