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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
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The Impact of Islam
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Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
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edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky

These are all the Blogs posted on Thursday, 1, 2012.
Thursday, 1 November 2012
Muslims In India Getting in Everywhere By Pretending to Be What They Ain't

Many Hindu Indians are - very rightly, given the long and terrible record of Muslim depredations in India, beginning with the invasion of Sind in the 8th century and continuing in an unremitting catalogue of horrors from that date until British rule began to be imposed in the 18th century, and given the frequent aggressiveness and criminal activity of their expanding Muslim minority, and the multiple murderous jihad terror raids that have taken place in Indian cities in recent years - wary of having anything much to do with Muslims.  In particular, very sensibly, they are wary of hiring Muslims.  

And so, cue a Radio Australia report [first spotted by the redoubtable sheikyermami] which clearly expects us to be filled with sympathy for the poor persecuted Muslims who - poor things!-  pose as Hindus in order to get jobs with Hindu employers.  Unfortunately: anyone who has read the chapters on jihad in India, in Andrew Bostom's anthology 'The Legacy of Jihad', and who has read V S Naipaul's 'Among the Believers', the chapter on Pakistan entitled 'Killing History', and is aware of the work of K S Lal on the mass-murders and mass enslavements of Hindus in India by Muslim invaders and imperial occupiers, or of Sita Ram Goel's long, long list of Hindu shrines that were destroyed by Muslims ( a list, simply giving names and locations, that I am told runs to some three fat volumes on very thin paper), will be more likely to feel a shiver of empathy for the Hindu employers who think they are hiring fellow Hindus but are instead being tricked into hiring Muslims.  Muslims who may well be following the advice of one of Mohammed's 'companions', as admiringly described in the Sahih al-Bukhari, v 7, p. 102, that 'Abu Al-Darda' said, "(Verily) we smile for some people, while our hearts curse (those same people)."  Muslims who know well that their 'prophet' Mohammed said, "War is deceit" [Al Bukhari, Vol 4, Book 52, numbers 267, 268, 269.) -  CM

'Indian Muslims pose as Hindus to get jobs'.

'Muslims in India are adopting Hindu identities to avoid discrimination'.

'She ducks into a toilet stall on the platform and re-emerges a few moments later, transformed in a sari with vermilion powder on her forehead, and red and white conch bangles on her wrists - the symbols of a traditional, married Hindu woman.

'Ms Begum is one of a number of India's 150 million Muslims who adopt Hindu identities to avoid discrimination in the workplace.

"For the whole day I shall maintain this Hindu appearance.  My name is Laxmi, you know it's also the name of the Hindu goddess", she says.

"Before leaving home I took off my armband on which 'Allah' is embossed and put on whatever a Hindu woman usually wears.  I live in a Muslim village.  Villagers will feel bad to see me with the symbols of a Hindu woman".

'Ms Begum says she tried unsuccessfully to find a job for many years before deciding to hide her Muslim identity.

Question: were there not Muslim employers - or naive and trusting Christian employers - willing to hire her?  Why was it a job in a Hindu establishment, or nothing? - CM

'Posing as a Hindu woman, she got her current job as an ayah (nursemaid) in a private hospital.

I have to say that I find the thought of a Muslim woman - who is not known to be Muslim - in the position of absolute trust represented by that kind of work,  is deeply disturbing, when one bears in mind the depth of hatred toward Hindus qua Hindus that one sees routinely displayed by Muslim commenters on internet forums.  All those helpless little non-Muslim babies, entirely at her disposal,  should she ever decide to translate inward hatred - the hatred that every Muslim, obeying the guiding principle of al-wala wa al-baraa, loyalty and enmity, is supposed to harbour toward every non-Muslim - into action. - CM

"Recently my hospital asked me to look for some girls to work there, but they asked me not to bring any Muslim candidate for the interview.  If by chance they get to know that I am Muslim, I am sure I will be fired."

'Secret recruitment policies'

'Muslims who adopt fake Hindu identities mostly work in menial jobs in sectors where identity documents are not usually sought.

'Barin Ghosh managed a domestic help and ayah supply agency in Kolkata until recently and says many recruitment agencies help Muslims find jobs by introducing them as Hindus.

And thus the Muslims infiltrate hospitals, and hotels, and the residences of well-to-do non-Muslims, where their opportunities for sabotage both small or great, should they decide to Go Jihad, and their opportunities for sharing inside information with - or directly assisting the access of - other Muslims who may wish to emulate the jihad raid on Mumbai, are virtually infinite. - CM

"Almost 95 percent of the clients in my agency were Hindu and while seeking domestic helps, as much as 80 percent of the Hindu clients informed us that they would not employ any Muslims", Mr Ghosh says.

They were merely being prudent. - CM

"Muslims being poorer (and why is that? in the case of Muslims, poverty has a great deal to do with the deadening effect of Islam upon the intellect and the will to work - CM) more than half of the jobseekers coming to our agency were from this minority community.  Sometimes we introduced Muslim jobseekers as Hindus to our Hindu clients and they got the jobs.

One day, sooner or later, this kind of thing is going to blow up in Mr Ghosh's face.  Nastily. For it may well involve large amounts of plastic explosive, or poisons, or bioweapons, made use of by one of those poor little Muslims he got in somewhere by passing them off as Hindu, who claimed he or she only wanted a job, but was really seeking access to a soft Hindu target, in order to wage Jihad. - CM

"I am sure many placement agencies on mutual interest maintain such secret policies to help Muslims get jobs."

Fools. - CM

'Anti-Muslim Bias'

'Muslims make up 13 percent of India's population and are the country's largest minority.

'However, community leaders have long alleged that an anti-Muslim bias exists in different levels of society.

Wherever they are, Muslims always claim that they are persecuted, that they are oppressed, that people don't like them, that people are looking at them funny. - CM

'In 2005, the government appointed the Sachar Commission to investigate suggestions that Muslims were disadvantaged in social, economic and educational terms.

Will we ever see Muslim Pakistan, or Muslim Egypt, or Muslim Bangladesh, or any other Muslim-dominated country with a non-Muslim minority population, setting up such a commission to investigate Muslim discrimination against non-Muslims? - CM

'It concluded that the socioeconomic condition of most Muslims was worse than that of the dalits, or 'untouchables', the lowest of the Hindu castes.

This sounds eerily like the bizarre Muslim claim, within Western Europe, that Muslims are 'the new Jews'. In Europe they squawk and whine - 'we are suffering, we are suffering like the Jews!'.  In India, they claim, 'We are worse off than the Dalits!'  Me,I have the suspicion that inshallah fatalism, and a general contempt for hard work and for infidel learning, combined with a boundless sense of entitlement, may account for the way that Muslim populations everywhere - whether in Singapore, or China, or India, or in western Europe - tend to lag behind everybody else. - CM

'Ayesha Pervez, a minority rights activist, says widespread workplace discrimination means Muslims are unable to upgrade their standard of living.

So she says.  But if we are going to talk about workplace discrimination, let's just look at majority-Muslim Pakistan, shall we, and have a little chat about how the Muslims there treat the Hindus and the Christians, eh?  Now that's discrimination on a scale and at a level of intensity and viciousness that - I would hazard the guess - simply dwarfs anything that is being done to Muslims (Muslims who because of the dar al Harb/ dar al Islam dichotomy and the teaching of deceit and the teachng of hatred toward all Infidels, are rightly suspect) in India.  Maybe that should be the subject of Radio Australia's next investigation: the treatment of Hindus and Christians and Sikhs in Islamic Pakistan, and the treatment of Hindus, Christians and Buddhists in Islamic Bangladesh. Oh, and we could do a companion program on Muslim treatment of Christian Copts in Egypt.  That would be illuminating: it would show that two ethnically and linguistically different Muslim populations, half a world apart, are basically identical in the type and intensity and sheer petty nastiness  of the oppression they inflict on their non-Muslim minorities. - CM

"It's not just in the unorganised sector where Muslim jobseekers face the hurdle of discrimination.  Even in the government sector, anti-Muslim discriminatory processes are thriving", she says.

"In West Bengal, where Muslims constitute 27 percent of the population (due largely to the hegira, the immigration jihad, the flood of illegal Muslim immigrants pouring over the border from the impoverished dump that is heavily-Islamised Bangladesh - CM), their representation in government jobs is as low as four percent.  Muslim participation is also extremely low in the private sector."

Sounds as though, for the moment, Hindu commonsense and the precautionary principle are putting a bit of an obstacle in the path of the demographic jihad which has, otherwise, been going swimmingly. - CM

'Muslims as untouchables'.

And now cue a thoroughly-dhimmi professor, who doesn't seem to know much about his country's history. - CM

'According to Prsenjit Biswas, a professor of philosophy at the North Eastern Hill University in Bangalore, many Hindus count Muslims as untouchables.

'He says that is at the root of the anti-Muslim discrimination in India.

Really?  I would have thought it was still-living memory of the bloodbath that took place in 1947 and the memory of much more recent events, such as the Mumbai train bombings - by Muslims - and the assault on hotels in Mumbai in 2008 - by Muslims - and the attempt - by Muslims - to attack the Parliament of India in Delhi. Besides innumerable other smaller acts of aggression. And the habit that Muslims have, of rioting in the streets and burning and smashing things (as recently, in Assam). And the deep folk memory of the misery of centuries of being enslaved and robbed and mass-murdered by Muslims, from the 8th to the 18th century; surely that persists, in some quarters. - CM

"The anti-Muslim bias arises out of caste Hindu mindset of untouchability that considers Muslims as lesser than even the untouchables", he says.

And does this man know that Muslims regard him (like all other non-Muslims) as a najis kuffar, a filthy unbeliever, 'the vilest of beings', as unclean as urine and faeces, or as the dogs that Muslims despise? - CM

"The specific reason in eastern India is the deep-seated fear that the proximity of Muslims in the interior household will not only pollute the household but would bring in bad omen."

Bad omen, indeed.   Here is a Muslim 'preacher' in the UK, who was recorded giving his fellow Muslims advice about how to harm the najis kuffar all around them:

 'Abu Hamza's video call to arms'.

Excerpt: "The first phase is called the Shawkat al Nekaya.  It is called the needle of bleeding the enemy.  Like you imagine yo have one small knife and you have a big animal in front of you...You have to stab him here and there until he bleeds to death...This is the first stage of Jihad, destruction of the enemies of Allah."..."we ask Muslims to...bleed the enemies of Allah anywhere, by any means.  You can't do it by nuclear weapon, you have to do it by kitchen knife...You can't do it by chemical weapons, you have to do it by mice poison."  END.  

And can one be sure, if one hires a Muslim cook or kitchen hand or kitchen maid, that he or she will not have had their head filled with murderous ideas like that?  That one day, they may not add rat poison to the soup?

One might call to mind this recent news report from Israel:

A Muslim who had done construction work on a Jewish family's home came back months later with two of his cronies and, using the key that his contractor had been trustingly given, and burgled that same home...and, for good measure, poisoned food and drink in the household.  As reported here:

"Police later found that most of the drinks and staple food items in the Lerners' kitchen had been laced with highly toxic pesticides.".  If Hindu fears of spiritual pollution cause them to refrain from hiring Muslims to work in their homes, those fears may protect them from being physically poisoned. -  CM

'Prof Biswas says although discriminating against Muslims is illegal (in an India whose current governing authorities and intelligentsia are heavily dhimmified - CM) it is almost impossible for those affected to provide proof.

"So, they are forced to bear with this repressive system - in many cases, by disgusing themselves as Hindus, in attempt to seek work and live as equals in the society".

Prof Biswas needs to read Mark Durie's book 'The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom', and find out how Muslims, once they achieve numerical and/ or political dominance, have always treated - and still have every intention of treating - non-Muslims over whom they have power.  Muslims have never, wherever they had the upper hand, treated non-Muslims as equals; have, indeed, viewed and treated them as untermenschen.  And he might also see, if he studied up on the extent to which deception is sanctioned by Islam, that the elaborate and plausible sob stories purveyed to him by Muslims claiming victimhood and crying 'persecution', may not all necessarily be true; and that the Muslim reasons for getting themselves into employment in Hindu households and institutions, may not always simply be about getting work to make ends meet, but may be downright sinister, approximating more to the reasons of a fifth columnist and saboteur, an enemy agent, a foot-soldier and advance scout of the Army of Islam. - CM


Posted on 11/01/2012 12:41 AM by Christina McIntosh
Thursday, 1 November 2012
Driven to Death

The other day I hailed a taxi in London and was delighted to find that the driver was playing Beethoven to himself. I was also pleased that he was a Turk: a Turk who had mastered the Knowledge! Could there be a better instance of successful integration than that?

Usually, though, taxi drivers play pop music. How they stick it ten hours a day I can’t imagine: it jangles my nerves almost at once and renders me desperate. If I were driving a vehicle with it, I might even crash deliberately to get away from it.

When I arrived in Amsterdam recently I took a taxi to my hotel. Over the radio came this uplifting and heartfelt lyric: ‘I’ve had a shit day and I’ve had enough’ (having gone through airport security I knew exactly how the singer felt). The following day, in the taxi on the way back, there came another lyric over the airwaves: ‘I know what I want, and I want it now.’

Could it be, I wondered, there was what some people might call a dialectical relationship between knowing what you want and wanting it now, on the one hand, and having a shit day on the other? That dwelling on your desires and regarding them as imperative was a sovereign path to dissatisfaction?

I was reminded of the advertising slogan for the launch of a new credit card, Access: Access takes the waiting out of wanting.

I was insensibly led, then, by an association of ideas and a chain of reasoning, to the causes of our current economic crisis. For is it not the case that one of those causes is that, on a gargantuan scale, we took the waiting out of wanting? Not only consumer credit but government deficit spending, largely to underwrite a standard of living that we did not go to the trouble of having earned, is at the root of our financial difficulties. The demand that our desires should be satisfied immediately, before we can pay for them, is a sure way eventually to have a shit day, just as drinking too much leads to a hangover.

One of the qualities of art is that it should raise or suggest the deeper questions of human existence. The lyrics in the Amsterdam taxi certainly did that: but it does not follow, of course, that they are therefore art.  

First published in Salisbury Review.

Posted on 11/01/2012 5:46 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Thursday, 1 November 2012
Two Thirds of New Jobs Go To Immigrants

From the Center for Immigration Studies:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 1, 2012) – A new analysis of government data by the Center for Immigration Studies shows that two-thirds of the net increase in employment since President Obama took office has gone to immigrant workers, primarily legal immigrants. Although total immigration has fallen in recent years, legal immigration remains very high. While economists debate the extent to which immigrants displace natives, the new data makes clear that a general labor shortage does not exist. This analysis calls into question the wisdom of bringing in more than one million new legal immigrants each year. The complete study can be found at:

Steve Camarota, the Center’s Director of Research, points out, "It is extraordinary that most of the employment growth in the last four years has gone to foreign-born workers. But what is even more extraordinary is that the issue has not even come up during the presidential election."

Among the findings of this analysis:

  • Since President Obama took office 67% of employment growth has gone to immigrants (legal and illegal).
  • There were 1.94 million more immigrants (legal and illegal) working in the 3rd quarter of 2012 than at the start of 2009, when the president took office. This compares to a 938,000 increase for the native-born over the same time period.
  • Most of the growth in immigrant employment went to newly arrived immigrants, rather than immigrants already in the country. Some 1.6 million new immigrant workers have arrived from abroad since the start of 2009 – we estimate 70 to 90 percent entered legally.
  • Immigrants made employment gains across the labor market. In occupations where immigrant gains were the largest, there were 2.2 million unemployed natives.
  • A large share of employment growth was already going to immigrants well before the president took office. However, he has taken steps to increase the level of job competition from foreign-born workers.

    • He offered work authorization to an estimated 2 million illegal immigrants who arrived in the country before age 16 – nearly 200,000 of whom have applied so far.
    • When auditing employers who hire illegal workers the administration, as a matter of policy, does not detain the illegal workers, allowing them to seek other employment.
    • The administration called on the Supreme Court in 2010 to strike down Arizona’s law requiring employers to verify the legal status of new workers.

  • Natives have done better in the labor market recently. From the 3rd quarter of 2011 to the 3rd quarter of 2012, two-thirds of employment growth went to native-born workers.
  • Despite recent improvements, in the third quarter of 2012 there was a huge number of working-age (18 to 65) native-born Americans not employed:

    • 7.6 million with less than a high school education (18 to 65)
    • 18.1 million with only a high school education (18 to 65)
    • 15.8 million with some college (18 to 65)
    • 9.2 million college graduates (18 to 65)

  • Some people who are not working do not wish to work. However, the broad measure of unemployment that includes those who’ve given up looking for a job, shows a dismal picture for adult natives (18+) in the third quarter of 2012:

    • 30.8% for high school dropouts
    • 18.1% for those only a high school education
    • 13.8% for those with some college
    • 8% for all college graduates, 13% for college graduates under age 30.

  • While significantly more immigrants are presently working, their unemployment rate remains high and the share of working age adults (18-65) holding a job has only slightly improved since the president took office.
Discussion: The net increase in employment over the president’s term is 938,000 for the native-born and 1.94 million for immigrants. Of course, many jobs are created and lost each month, and many workers change jobs each month. But, by examining the number of people working, this report measures the net effect of the churn in employment. Like the outcome of day spent at a casino, it is the end result of losses and gains that matter. And that is what this study reports.

To be sure, the president inherited an immigration system that allows a million permanent immigrants and several hundred thousand guest workers to be admitted each year. But neither President Obama nor Congress has been willing to modify this system. And while there is no question that the labor market was deteriorating before the president took office, as discussed above he has taken a number of steps that have actually increased job competition for native-born workers.

Economists debate the extent of job competition between immigrants and natives. Research by the Federal Reserve Board, the National Bureau Economic Research, and others finds that immigration does displace natives. But there is not a consensus among economists. What we can say is that in occupations where immigrants made the largest gains, there are currently millions of unemployed native-born Americans. The newest data also shows an enormous number of working-age native-born Americans not employed across the labor market. Given these findings, it is unfortunate that both presidential candidates have chosen not to even discuss possible job competition between immigrants and natives.

Data Source: Data for the report comes from the “household survey” (also called the Current Population Survey or CPS). The CPS, the nation’s primary source of information on the labor force, asks respondents about their socio-demographic characteristics such as race, education level, citizenship and year of arrival in the United States.

Posted on 11/01/2012 7:36 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 1 November 2012
The Corrections 1

Frustratingly, some writers on Islam are almost there, but not quite. Go on, go on. Take that small step and turn it into a giant leap. (Ooops, forgot this isn't cliché corner.) Failing that, they need correcting, even if the article is five years old.

David Quinn in the Irish Independent, with thanks to Christina for spotting this and for guiding my red pen:

THE other day when he was asked to react to the attempted car-bomb attacks on London, the city's mayor, Ken Livingstone, called for tolerance.

Fair enough, you might say. But at whom was his call for tolerance directed? You are probably thinking, if you are a logical sort, that the call must have been directed at the fanatics who had come within an ace of killing and maiming possibly hundreds of people. But you would be mistaken.

Instead Ken directed his call at his fellow, non-Muslim, Englishmen. He said that in the past Jews, the Irish and gays had been persecuted in England and now it was the turn of Muslims. Ken is obviously the sort of fellow who, had he been mayor of London during the blitz, would have been blaming the Treaty of Versailles and not Hitler for the bombs raining down on his city.

The War on Terror, if that term can still be used, is revealing strange ideological fissures in Western societies. I came across these fissures in person last September when I took part in about eight radio discussions in the days after Pope Benedict had quoted the Byzantine emperor who had less-than-flattering things to say about Islam.

The line-up on those shows was me playing my usual role as the Catholic commentator, a Muslim representative, and frequently a representative of what I suppose we'll have to call the secular left.

On almost every one of these shows the secular left representative did his or her best to impersonate Ken Livingstone. First there was the usual ritualistic condemnation of the extremists, but this was then followed by a much more detailed discussion of why we are to blame for whatever Muslims extremists do to us.

To all intents and purposes this placed the secular leftist firmly on the side of the Muslim representative, several of whom had decidedly alarming ideas. At least one was a supporter of suicide bombings, sorry, 'martyrdom operations'. Another was in favour of the imposition of Sharia law in Ireland should the opportunity ever arise.

On yet another show the secular leftist thought it would be a very good idea if Muslims living in the West were allowed to live by Sharia law. Then there was the caller, a self-declared gay, who said the Pope deserved whatever he got because the Pope 'hates' homosexuals.

See what I mean about those "strange ideological fissures"? Essentially you had the guardians of tolerance siding with people who would crush homosexuals under walls if they could, and who would turn women into property given half a chance. And why this horrid sympathy? It is because the secular left's hatred of Western civilisation, and certainly Christianity, America and Israel, is such that they will side with anyone, no matter how unsavoury, who shares that hatred.

Needless to say, all of this is grist to the mill of those fanatics who would love to inflict a 9/11 on the West every day of the week. They tell us our civilisation is hateful and they hear an answering echo from the left who have decided that Muslims are a victim group whose acts of violence are simply proof of their victim status.

In The Irish Times the other day we had Vincent Browne calling for the West to give into virtually all of the demands of al-Qa'ida, Hamas , Hizbollah , the Iranians, and I suppose the Taliban as well. He imagines that if America pulled the plug on the Saudi royal family, if Turkey is allowed into the EU, if Israel returns to its pre-1967 borders, and if the West generally stops interfering in the affairs of Muslims countries, then all will be well. But he is dead wrong.

If all these things happen, Muslim rage would continue to burn because Browne, like the left in general, misdiagnoses the real cause of that rage. It is not Western foreign policy, although this undoubtedly adds fuel to the fire, the real cause is the terrible political, economic and social immobility of much of the Muslim world Islam.

Cut out the middleman. Islam is the proximate cause.

Even if Western foreign policy changes along the lines desired by a Vincent Browne or a Ken Livingstone, the root causes of Muslim rage and violence will remain much as they are, and so will the underlying realities of those countries. For example, the choice facing a Palestinian living on the West Bank or the Gaza Strip will still be either the fundamentalism of Hamas or the terrible corruption and authoritarianism of Fatah.

The choice facing a citizen of Saudi Arabia will still be the theocracy of the Saudi Royal Family or the even worse theocracy of al-Qa'ida and Osama bin Laden . The choice facing an Egyptian will remain the dictatorship of the present government or the theocracy of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Until such time as the political, economic and social choices available to Muslims, especially in the Arab world, increases, all Muslims jettison Islam so long will Muslim anger burn and not all the self-loathing of the Western intelligentsia will change that fact one iota.

Why use fifteen words when four will do -- and four are true?

Posted on 11/01/2012 10:02 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 1 November 2012
The Corrections 2

Rupert Shortt's Telegraph piece on the persecution of Christians has so far garnered 1,349 comments. Readers care about Christians even if the mainstream media seems only to care about Muslims. It is a good peace on the whole, but I had to use my red pen towards the end:

Imagine the unspeakable fury that would erupt across the Islamic world if a Christian-led government in Khartoum had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese Muslims over the past 30 years. Or if Christian gunmen were firebombing mosques in Iraq during Friday prayers. Or if Muslim girls in Indonesia had been abducted and beheaded on their way to school, because of their faith.

Such horrors are barely thinkable, of course. But they have all occurred in reverse, with Christians falling victim to Islamist aggression. Only two days ago, a suicide bomber crashed a jeep laden with explosives into a packed Catholic church in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 100. The tragedy bore the imprint of numerous similar attacks by Boko Haram (which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful”), an exceptionally bloodthirsty militant group.

Other notable trouble spots include Egypt, where 600,000 Copts – more than the entire population of Manchester – have emigrated since the 1980s in the face of harassment or outright oppression.

Why is such a huge scourge chronically under-reported in the West? One result of this oversight is that the often inflated sense of victimhood felt by many Muslims has festered unchallenged. Take the fallout of last month’s protests around the world against the American film about the Prophet Mohammed. While most of the debate centred on the rule of law and the limits of free speech, almost nothing was said about how much more routinely Islamists insult Christians, almost always getting away with their provocations scot-free.

Innocence of Muslims, the production that spurred all the outrage, has been rightly dismissed as contemptible trash. What, though, of a website such as “Guardians of the Faith”, run by Salafist extremists in Cairo? Among many posts, it has carried an article entitled “Why Muslims are superior to Copts”. “Being a Muslim girl whose role models are the wives of the Prophet, who were required to wear the hijab, is better than being a Christian girl, whose role models are whores,” it declares. “Being a Muslim who fights to defend his honour and his faith is better than being a Christian who steals, rapes, and kills children.” Hateful messages breed hateful acts. Is it any surprise that mobs have set fire to one church after another across Egypt in recent years?

The deeper truth masked by all the ranting – and, it should be added, by the blinkers of many Western secularists – is that Christians are targeted in greater numbers than any other faith group on earth. About 200 million church members (10 per cent of the global total) face discrimination or persecution: it just isn’t fashionable to say so. In 2010, I set out to write a chronicle of anti-Christian persecution on several continents. Published in my book, Christianophobia, the results of my research are even more disquieting than I expected.

Abu Hamza, the 7/7 ringleader Mohammad Sidique Khan and other totemic figures were allowed to practise their religion openly in Britain, yet there is scarcely a single country from Morocco to Pakistan in which Christians are fully free to worship without restriction. Muslims who convert to Christianity or other faiths in most of these societies face harsh penalties. There is now a high risk that the Churches will all but vanish from their biblical heartlands in the Middle East.

The suffering is no less acute elsewhere. Before East Timor gained independence from Indonesia, 100,000 Catholic non-combatants were killed by agents of the Suharto government between the 1970s and the 1990s. And a few months ago, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, officially announced that “it is necessary to destroy all the churches” on the Arabian Peninsula.

One reason why Western audiences hear so little about faith-based victimisation in the Muslim world is straightforward: young Christians in Europe and America do not become “radicalised”, and persecuted Christians tend not to respond with terrorist violence. This forbearance should of course be a source of pride in many respects, and would be an unqualified good if properly acknowledged. But it counts for much less in a climate where most of what is considered newsworthy has to involve tub-thumping or outright violence.


[F]aith is like fire, to cite an analogy used by the Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks. It warms; but it can also burn. Along or near the 10th parallel north of the equator, between Nigeria and Indonesia and the Philippines, religious fervour and political unrest are reinforcing each other. This point should be granted even if one accepts religion’s status as an immense – perhaps the preeminent – source of social capital in existence.

On the positive side, faith-based conviction has mobilised millions to oppose authoritarian regimes, inaugurate democratic transitions, support human rights and relieve human suffering. In the 20th century, religious movements helped end colonial rule and usher in democracy in Latin America, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

The challenge, then, at once simple and substantial, is to promote the peaceful messages at the heart of the world’s major non-Islamic  faiths, while neutralising perversions of the core teachings. But first, the challenge is to neutralise Islam, which has no such peaceful messages at its core, and perhaps to promote  so-called "perversions" of Islam, which do.

Nothing I have said should be interpreted as encouraging a holier-than-thou attitude among Christians. Large parts of the Christian world were saturated with unsurpassed violence 70 or 100 years ago; and a British man, Thomas Aikenhead, was executed for blasphemy as recently as the turn of the 18th century. Innocence of Muslims was produced by a convicted criminal with a Coptic background. [So what? M. J.]

Exceptions aside, however, Christians generally have become more tolerant and self-critical over the past half-century, reminting crucial aspects of Jesus’s message in the process. (For instance, it is worth noting that Pope John Paul II and the leaders of almost all other major Churches were vehemently opposed to the Iraq war.)

Given Despite Christianity’s evolution, there are no grounds for thinking that Islam may change, too. Points of contact between the two traditions are at least as significant as are as nothing comapred with the differences. When they are true to their guiding principles, both faiths insist Christianity alone insists on the sanctity of the person as a seeker of God. From this should follow a recognition of religious liberty as the first of human rights. Self-interest need not be erased from an apparently high-minded equation. Freedom of belief is the canary in the coalmine for liberty in general, and thus for the flourishing of a society.

It is vital to pursue these medium- and longer-term ambitions. They are critical to world peace. But promoting inter-faith ties should not displace attempts to tell the truth about the current plight of Christians – and to take action against a major injustice.

Marks out of ten: on Christianity 9; on Islam, 3.

Posted on 11/01/2012 10:20 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 1 November 2012
Romney’s Strategy not Obama’s doctrine will advance Freedom in the Middle East

As Governor Romney and President Obama continue to debate foreign policy and national security, voters would be wise to evaluate the “Obama Doctrine” against the current combustible state of affairs that it has led to in the Greater Middle East. In less than four years, the Obama administration’s policies have transformed the region into a powder keg with a hairpin detonator that could be set off by the slightest diplomatic misstep, engulfing the region and the world in war. And, as if an economy on the brink wasn’t daunting enough, the current administration’s feckless diplomacy in the Arab world have begotten a near-impossible foreign policy conundrum that Mitt Romney will be forced to attend to from the moment he is sworn in as the forty-fifth President of the United States.

In order to help voters see clearly where unfolding events in the region are headed, I have summarized the salient facts and provided a brief analysis below.

President Obama’s denial of various forms of Islamist radicalism have amplified the jihadist threat and altered American foreign policy in the Middle East. In his Cairo speech in 2009, Mr. Obama affirmed the misperception that America had been on the wrong side in wars “against the Muslim World” by announcing his new expiative approach to US foreign policy in the Arab world. Since then his and the State Department’s actions in the region have been characterized by retreat, abandonment of civil democratic reform movements, and partnership with Islamist movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. The administration’s freedom-antagonistic policies coupled with a desire to find common-ground with the Iranian regime, have effectively quashed hopes for true democratic reform while Obama remains in the White House. The Obama doctrine has dangerously impacted US national security.

Barack Obama’s ill-advised pre-election commitment to bilateral negotiations with the Ayatollahs was put to the test in June 2009 when millions of mostly young Iranians took to the streets of Tehran in what almost became an “Iranian Spring.” With the Iranian regime teetering on the brink of collapse, the administration turned a deaf ear to demonstrators’ cries for America’s help as evidenced by the President’s silence on their plight and stubborn insistence on seeking understanding with the Khomeinist regime. But instead of obtaining concessions on Iran’s nukes, the Ayatollahs multiplied Uranium enrichment efforts and produced large numbers of long range missiles to deliver Apocalypse to Israel and the “Great Satan.” Hoping keep his grandiose illusion of US-Iranian nuclear talks alive, Obama imposed belated, near-symbolic economic sanctions on Iran with predictable negligible effect. In return, the Iranian regime expanded their destabilizing efforts in the Middle East, inciting Shia in Eastern Arabia, Bahrain and North Yemen to penetrate legitimate social movements and overthrow their US-friendly Governments.

Mitt Romney’s position on Iran is radically different and infinitely more sensible than Barack Obama’s. Sanctions should be tightened and all-encompassing to force the regime abandon its nuclear ambitions, not induce negotiations toward a partial solution. Furthermore, Governor Romney’s policy on Iran would include partnering with the forces of civil democratic reform in their efforts to replace the current extremist regime once and for all.

Obama’s miscalculation on Iran led to other regional catastrophes. As soon as the administration withdrew American forces from Iraq abruptly in December of 2011, Iranian influence penetrated Iraq. By not supporting Iran’s popular movement, Obama left Iran unrestrained. By failing to reach an agreement with Iraq before US withdrawal, Obama allowed Iran to infiltrate its neighbor, further threatening Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and reaching Syria’s borders. Romney would have contained the Iranian regime first, and then consolidated a pro-Western Government in Iraq.

Similar strategic mistakes were made by the administration on the Arab Spring as a consequence of its misguided apology doctrine. Instead of working with the initial forces of change in Egypt—youth, women, middle class, workers and minorities—the Administration chose to partner exclusively with the Muslim Brotherhood. Obama’s team and the Islamists worked to put the Brotherhood and their Salafi allies in power, first by sidelining the secular reformers with the help of the army, then the army with the help of secular youth, before they rose to power and marginalized all other players. Under Morsi, Egypt is quickly morphing into an Islamist state, threatening the Camp David Accords, as well as seculars, women, and Copts. A similar scenario unfolded in Tunisia where Washington partnered with the Islamist Nahda at the expense of seculars, women, and reformers. Romney would pursue partnership with civil societies, particularly with women and seculars, and tie US financial aid to performance by governments.

In Libya, the Obama Administration again sought partnership with the Islamists and neglected working with government and secular groups to disarm the militias and after Gadhafi’s downfall, sowed the seeds of al Qaeda’s growth, and opened a path for attacks against US targets, the most recent being a terrorist attack in Benghazi that killed the US ambassador and embassy staffers. A Romney Administration would first seek the disarming of the militias and, above all, provide better security for American lives in installations where Jihadists operate.

Barack Obama’s worst and most dramatic failure has obviously been in Syria. One-year late to respond, Obama’s team was unable to create a coalition to bring down Assad. Out of Iraq by 2012, the US was unable to encircle Assad and prevent Iranian support from getting to the brutal regime. Thirty thousand civilians were massacred while the US administration was incapable of obtaining a UN resolution for action against Assad, despite its being called a “reset button” with Moscow. By being two years tardy, the administration has allowed the massacre in Syria to proceed. Iran is now connected to Assad in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and has reached the sea by land. Furthermore, al Qaeda is now operating in Syria and Iraq.

After Osama bin Laden was killed, the Obama Administration began claiming that al Qaeda was in decline, a claim proven false as AQ jihadists continue to conquer villages and towns in Yemen, fight in Somalia, are back in the Levant from Lebanon to Iraq, operating in the Sahel and Libya, with allies in Nigeria, and having established a solid base in northern Mali. Osama is dead, but al Qaeda is alive and flourishing.

With the growth of jihadism and radical Islamism, the secular forces of the Arab Spring are being pushed back. More dramatically Christian and other ethnic minorities across the region, in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Algeria and in Sudan, are under attack. Everywhere in the region reformers, women and minorities are suppressed and pushed back, while the Islamists and jihadists up and running and expanding their reach. Iran is arming and genocide is looming from Syria to Sudan.

The Obama policies in the Middle East led to the rise of radicals and weakening of civil societies. A Romney alternative for the region is a must, not only on the basis of human rights and democracy, but also regarding US national security and the security of its allies.


Dr Walid Phares is senior advisor on Foreign Policy and National Security to Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and a co-chair of the Romney Working Group on the Middle East and North Africa MENA. He is the author of the Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East the only book that predicted the Arab Spring before it begins

Posted on 11/01/2012 12:42 PM by Walid Phares
Thursday, 1 November 2012
Morsi, Antisemite And Loyal Muslim Brother Of The Muslim Brotherhood

Anti-Semitism Virulent in Egypt

Muslim Brotherhood-backed president Mohamed Morsi steps up anti-Israel, anti-Jewish rhetoric

By Adam Kredo

A rising tide of anti-Semitism in Egypt has stoked concerns among Americans and Israelis that extremism will guide Cairo’s foreign policy under the Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi.

Prominent Egyptian political figures, religious clerics, and even Morsi himself have joined in calling to destroy Israel in recent weeks. Yet President Barack Obama’s administration and other Western nations have remained silent in an effort to avoid friction with Cairo’s new ruling class.

The White House’s repeated failure to condemn this blatant anti-Semitism is causing worry among Jewish leaders and Israeli officials alike.

“It’s very, very troubling that our government has remained silent on the issue as far as I can tell,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Washington Free Beacon. “It’s deeply disturbing and requires pressure and statements from the U.S. government and others.”

Egyptian anti-Semitism is nothing new, others observed.

However, the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power has amplified the hate, leaving many observers concerned that anti-Jewish prejudice will fuel the government’s policies towards Israel and even America. 

“The real problem is that a cynical government that used anti-Semitism as a tool may have been replaced by an ideological government in which anti-Semitism is deep and serious,” said Elliott Abrams, a former top National Security Council staffer in the administration of George W. Bush. “The Israelis are right to worry.”

Anti-Semitism is more “visible nowadays” following former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s “replacement by the Muslim Brotherhood,” Abrams explained. 

While Mubarak may have “put some limits” on public displays of anti-Semitism, “those limits are now off,” Abrams warned.

And with the U.S. still pumping billions of dollars in aid into Egypt, some are beginning to wonder if the investment is paying off.

Cairo, they say, has become increasingly hostile to the West and has all but abandoned its once-critical role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The latest anti-Semitic exhibition comes from child preacher Ibrahim Adham who recently took to Egyptian television to call for Israel’s destruction and deem “martyrdom” a “religious duty.”

“Martyrdom on the path to Allah is a religious duty,” Adham said last week on Egypt’s Al-Rahma television station, according to a translation of his remarks by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

“Oh Allah, destroy Israel,” prays Adham as an older cleric looks on approvingly.

Experts said that Adham’s comments, while shocking, represent the norm.

“This kind of anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli, and anti-Christian approach was not born with the Muslim Brotherhood,” said one Arab affairs analyst who was not authorized to speak on record. “This racist TV channel was operating during Mubarak’s years.”

“What changed,” the source added, “is that these people are now represented in the Egyptian government and parliament.”

Calls to destroy Israel have become mainstays in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Egypt despite speculation that leaders would moderate their rhetoric once in power.

“They are today the most dangerous anti-Semitic organization around, period,” said Cooper, whose organization has pleaded for the Obama administration to take a firm stance against the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Egypt.

“Everyone can understand that the U.S. wants to make sure it has some leverage” in Morsi’s Egypt, he said, “but our view is that it would be disastrous for the U.S. or any Western country to give a wink and a nod to this overt Jew hatred because nothing good can come from it.”

Even Morsi has come under scrutiny for apparently condoning a Muslim cleric’s call for Israel’s destruction.

Cleric Futouh Abd Al-Nabi Mansour prayed for Allah to “destroy the Jews and their supporters” during a recent sermon.

Morsi, who was in attendance, appeared to mouth “Amen” following Al-Nabi’s pronouncement, according to video posted by MEMRI.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) quickly denounced Morsi.

“The drumbeat of anti-Semitism in the ‘new’ Egypt is growing louder and reverberating further under President Morsi, and we are increasingly concerned about the continuing expressions of hatred for Jews and Israel in Egyptian society, and President Morsi’s silence in the face of most of these public expressions of hate,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement.

Cooper and Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s founder, called the episode “a slap in the face” to Americans and Jews.

“This is a slap in the face to America as Egypt’s President Morsi pockets billions in U.S. aid and says Amen to principles that are repugnant to all Americans,” the duo said in a statement.

The organization has even called for Obama to completely cut ties with the Muslim Brotherhood due to its rampant anti-Semitism.

Obama had offered to meet personally with Morsi but the powwow was cancelled after Egyptian rioters stormed the U.S. consulate in Cairo in September.

Morsi’s commitment to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has also been questioned.

During his speech before the United Nations in September, Morsi was expected to support a longstanding peace proposal that would recognize Israel’s right to exist. 

However, he nixed the endorsement when he finally delivered his remarks, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) recently noted.

Morsi instead threw his support behind the Palestinians and endorsed their efforts to establish an independent state outside of the negotiating process with Israel.

“I call for a peace that would establish an independent Palestinian state—sovereign Palestinian state, a peace that would achieve the security and stability long sought by the people of the region,” Morsi said, according to a transcript posted by JTA. “On the same basis, I assure you of Egypt’s full support to any course of action Palestine decides to follow in the United Nations.”

This type of rhetoric could become par for the course, insiders say.

“They mean business, and Morsi made it very clear in his speech at the UNGA, when he couldn’t even pronounce the word ‘Israel,’” said the Arab affairs specialist.

“We are facing something that is far from being a marginal phenomenon in the Egyptian society, and with the country now being controlled by people that spent most of their lives listening to this kind of messages from their spiritual leaders, we are going to see more and more of this,” the source added.

Posted on 11/01/2012 1:10 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 1 November 2012
Palestinian Pietà

Mother places suicide belt on her child:

"I will put it on you
and you will go to your death,"

on Fatah-Lebanon Facebook page

by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

The Facebook page for Fatah in Lebanon has posted this picture of a mother dressing her young son with a suicide belt. Palestinian Media Watch has documented the ongoing glorification of violence and Martyrdom by the PA. This picture was posted on the Fatah site together with an imaginary conversation between the son who is being sent to his death and the mother encouraging it. "Why me and not you?" the child innocently asks his mother, who answers that she will continue to have more children "for the sake of Palestine":

"My mother dressed me in a strange belt (i.e., a suicide belt).
I asked her: 'What is this, mother?'
She said: 'I will put it on you and you will go to your death!'
I said to her: 'Mother, what have I done that you want me to die?'
She shed a tear that hurt my heart and said: 'The homeland needs you, son. Go and blow up the sons of Zion.'
I said to her: 'Why me and not you?'
She said: 'I will stay in order to give birth to more children for the sake of Palestine.'
I kissed her hand and said to her: 'Keep it up, mother, for you and for Palestine I will kill the impure and the damned.'"
[Fatah-Lebanon's Facebook page,
posted Sept. 3, 2012, accessed Oct. 28, 2012]

The Facebook page states that it is "the official page of Fatah's Information and Culture Commission in Lebanon," and is linked to from the official website of the Fatah Information and Culture Commission (

The PA-funded educational magazine for children, Zayzafuna, published an essay earlier this year written by an 11 year-old lauding death as a Martyr:

"How do you know that you're a Palestinian?"
by Asil Khaled, 5th grade student - El-Bireh
"If you know that you were born with a death sentence, and if you go to your death without caring - then you're a Palestinian!
If your song is the song of Martyrdom (Shahada), and death, for you, is birth - then you're a Palestinian!
If you love death, and you say the Shahada [declaration] (i.e., the Islamic creed: "There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is Allah's messenger.") aloud - then you're a Palestinian!
If you've ever felt that you're an exploding body and that your soul will long one day to be a knight for the homeland - then you're a Palestinian!
If the stone is your weapon against oppression, and if those who hate [you] criticize your struggle - then you're a Palestinian!
If you have saturated the tree of the homeland with your free blood, with love, and have offered the remnants of your bodily parts as a bridge for those who are yet to come - then you're a Palestinian!
If you have shattered the chains, and carried the key to the house from which [your] grandparents were expelled - then you're a Palestinian!
If your wedding (i.e., a Martyr's funeral in Islamic tradition is a wedding to 72 Maidens of Paradise) was amidst a hail of bullets between the shoulders of friends [who carried your body], against the sound of tears mingled with joy (i.e., of achieving Martyrdom) and the searing pain of separation- then you're a Palestinian, and you're full of pride at being a Palestinian."
[Zayzafuna, Jan. 2012]

Click for more information on Zayzafuna.

During the years of the Palestinian Authority terror campaign (the Intifada, 2000 - 2005), Palestinian Media Watch documented that the PA actively promoted Martyrdom (Shahada) as an ideal that children should strive for. Music videos for children indoctrinating them to see Martyrdom as "sweet" were broadcast hundreds of times on PA TV. In recent years, Martyrdom for children continues to be glorified by the PA in contexts for children but with lesser frequency.

The following are two examples of encouraging children to seek death as Martyrs for Allah, and one example of two girls embracing this ideal:

This video, designed to offset a child's natural fear of death, portrays Martyrdom as both heroic and tranquil. The film's hero, a teenager, leaves a farewell letter describing the death he is seeking as pleasurable:
"Don't be sad my dear [father], and don't cry over my parting.
My dear father, for my country, I sacrificed myself.
With determination and desire, I will keep my promise.
How sweet is Martyrdom (Shahada), when I am embraced by you, my land!
How sweet is Martyrdom (Shahada), when I am embraced by you, my land!
My beloved, my mother, most dear to me,
be joyous over my blood, don't cry for me."
[PA TV (Fatah), broadcast hundreds of times from 2001-2004]
Click to view

Muhammad Al-Dura (a boy who was killed in a televised crossfire) calls other children to follow him to a joyous child-Martyr Paradise. Al-Dura runs on the beach with his kite, and even goes to an amusement park:
Text on screen: "I am waving to you, not in parting, but to say follow me. By Muhammad Al-Dura."
Al-Dura: "How sweet is the fragrance of the martyrs. How sweet is the fragrance of the earth, its thirst quenched by the gush of blood flowing from the youthful body. How sweet is the fragrance of the earth. The boy cried: 'Oh father, till we meet, till we meet, father, till we meet, I will go with no fear and without crying. How sweet is the fragrance of the martyrs. I will go, father, to my place in heaven. How sweet is the fragrance of the martyrs. Oh father, till we meet, till we meet, Oh father, till we meet.'"
[PA TV (Fatah), hundreds of times, 2001-2008]
Click to view

Host: "You described Martyrdom (Shahada) as something beautiful. Do you think it is beautiful?"
Walla, age 11: "Martyrdom (Shahada) is a very, very beautiful thing. Everyone yearns for Shahada. What could be sweeter than going to paradise?"
Host: "What is better, peace and full rights for the Palestinian people, or Shahada?"
Walla: "Shahada. I will achieve my rights after becoming a Shahida (Martyr)."
Host: "Ok, Yussra, would you agree with that?"
Yussra, age 11: "Of course, Shahada is sweet. We don't want this world, we want the Afterlife. We benefit not from this life, but from the Afterlife."
Host: "Do you actually love death?"
Yussra: "Death is not Shahada."
Host: "No, I mean the absence after death. "
Yussra: "No child loves death. The children of Palestine adopted the concept that Shahada is very good. Every Palestinian child, say someone aged 12, says: 'Oh Lord, I would like to become a Shahid.'"
Host: "We've got a call, Sabrine from Ramallah."
Sabrine (on telephone): "Ayyat Al-Akhras (suicide bomber who murdered two people and injured 22 in Jerusalem in 2002) was 17 when she blew herself up -
Host: "Sabrine, are you for it or against it?"
Sabrine (on telephone): "Of course I support blowing up, it is our right."
Host: "Sabrine, now, is it natural that Ayyat Al-Akhras blows herself up?"
Sabrine (on telephone): "Of course it's natural."
[PA TV (Fatah), June 9, 2002]

Posted on 11/01/2012 2:27 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 1 November 2012
A Musical Interlude: Round, But Not About, Sandy

My Handy Man  (Ethel Waters)

Mandy (Eddie Cantor)

Candy Man (Roy Orbison)

Posted on 11/01/2012 3:14 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 1 November 2012
What's New On The Libyan Rialto

Gunmen occupy Libyan parliament

Security members meet spokesmen representing ex-revolutionary militia groups in front of the General National Congress building in Tripoli, November 1
Hundreds of ex-revolutionaries have turned up at the Congress building

Dozens of gunmen have occupied Libya's parliament to register their anger over the formation of the new government.

The militiamen are demanding some of the ministers be removed because they have links to the late Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

At least a dozen trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns are lining the main road to the parliament.

Libya held a peaceful election in July and finally agreed the composition of a government on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Ali Zidan gained the support of the National Congress for his choice of ministers.

His list included liberal figures and Islamists in an attempt to forge a coalition acceptable to all parties.

But negotiations were disrupted by protests earlier this week.

And late on Wednesday gunmen broke through security and occupied the Congress building.

'Gaddafi ties'

The BBC's Rana Jawad, in Tripoli, says some of the gunmen are dressed in scruffy army fatigues and others in civilian clothes.

She says some are from the western city of Misrata and others are from Tripoli, and few are willing to talk to the media.

The street where the Congress lies appears to be in a world of its own.

The usual mix of official security units charged with its guard are not there. In their place are armed men who are offering us water one minute, and asking us to leave a moment later. Some of the men are busily pushing back photographers and journalists.

An aged man seated behind his anti-aircraft gun on the back of a truck appears less agitated and fiery than the others. He says: "We just want a real democracy. This new government is not a government, and Tripoli isn't even properly represented in it."

"Some of them have had long ties with Gaddafi, we don't want them," a militiaman dressed in civilian clothes told the BBC.

Presidential guards are stationed in the Congress complex and have been ordered not to fight with the men.

The militiamen are believed to be in talks with politicians to resolve the stand-off.

Despite largely peaceful elections in July, Libya's transition continues to be affected by instability.

Reining in the different militia and trying to integrate them into a single national army will be one of the biggest challenges for any new government, analysts say.

The new government has representatives from the two most prominent blocs in Congress - the Alliance of National Forces led by liberal former Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, and the Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Construction Party.

Mr Zidan said he had tried to strike a balance between Libya's different regions in making the appointments.

According to his list, the defence and interior ministries would be headed by ministers from the eastern city of Benghazi, considered to be the cradle of last year's revolution that ended Gaddafi's rule.

Two women are also among the ministers proposed by Mr Zidan.

Posted on 11/01/2012 3:52 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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