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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
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 Friday, 12, 2010.
Friday, 12 November 2010
Melik Kaylan: Goodbye To Iraq's Christians

Note that Melik Kaylan does not explain why it was that Saddam Hussein was the protector of Iraq's Christians, in the sense that under his iron fist no such attacks could take place, nor does he explain the similar role of the Assady dynasty in Syria. But in both cases Ba'athism was camouflage for two despotisms: one that of Alawites (constituting 12% of the population in Syria, and not regarded by the majority Sunni Muslims as real Muslims), the other that of Sunni Arabs (constituting less than 20% of the population in Iraq, where Saddam Hussein had to worry most about the Shi'a Arabs). In both cases the cowed and permanently fearful Christians posed no threat; it is Christians who supplied household guards to the Assad family, and household staff (cooks, waiters, laundresses, maids, drivers) to Saddam Hussein - and that same staff was inherited by the Americans in the Green Zone. Did no one notice, or think to ask why? 

Melik Kaylan observes the destruction of the Christian community of Iraq and asks why Bush and company did not understand what was to come? But he himself fails to enlighten readers as to why it was inevitable, and what was going on in Iraq (and Syria) in the name of Ba'athism, fails to explain what it was that allowed non-Muslims to survive, to be protected, because it happened to serve the interests of the local despots.

He should write one more article, setting that out, though apparently that article won't be appearing at Forbes. And, too, it would require more about the insecurity of non-Muslims under Muslim rule that he is willing, or able, to discuss.

Here's his valdedictory piece: 

 Goodbye To Iraq's Christians - And To Me
Nov. 11 2010
Iraqi police officers carry posters of Iraq's ...

Image via Wikipedia

This is my last outing for Forbes as a weekly opinion columnist.* With Nouri Al-Maliki visiting Tehran and George Bush visiting the chat shows, I decided to devote the column to Iraq.

Most of my reporting in Iraq took place between 2005 and 2008 at the height of bloodshed. I spent a good deal of time in the Baghdad neighborhood of Karrada where an Islamic death-squad recently massacred 46 Christian worshippers at their Cathedral. Now they've been targeted again with bombings in their residential streets, al-Sinaa street being one where I used to dodge through town to visit friends now and again. Meanwhile, George Bush does the round of chat shows touting his memoirs. Since his invasion - and he a devout Christian - almost half the 800,000 of Iraq's ancient community of Christians have fled the country. Here is a useful BBC report with an itemized list of the brutal targeted assassinations they have suffered.

One of the killers shot a pregnant woman to death as she pleaded for mercy. Another, killed a bishop then killed another prelate saying, in response to his pleas, "what did you expect?". Members of the congregation noted that the attackers spoke 'classical Arabic' not demotic Iraqi - a strong indication that they were foreigners possibly even non-Arabs who had been taught Arabic by Islamic purists and trained with prepared responses to any emotional appeals by victims. Since 2003, Iraq has become a dar-el-harb zone where global jihadis go to prosecute their fantasies of martyrdom as the sword arm reincarnate of Islam's early warrior days. Sunni Iraqis who joined the 'Sons of Iraq' movement to resist them did so because they saw that these necrolators cared not a whit for the survival of locals. Mesopotamian Syriac Christians are emphatically locals: they descend directly from the earliest of churches founded by Jesus's apostles. They speak a variant of the Aramaic that Jesus spoke. In fact, they are the ethnic descendants of the ancient Assyrians from 2000 B.C.. This much is not open to argument: under Saddam they were better off. Under Mr. Bush's liberated Iraq they may cease to exist after thousands of years. That is saying something, one measure of the enormity his incompetence let loose. George Bush may want to consider their plight in a footnote to the paperback edition of his book.

I do not wish to be dogmatic on this subject. Freeing Iraqis from Saddam's tortures, ushering in democracy to the region, these were noble causes - in the abstract. But whatever the lofty intentions, Iraqis on the ground live with the reality of what Mr.Bush has accidentally wrought. Extreme incompetence becomes a tragic de facto policy. He may as well have intended the horrors. He'd seen - we had all seen - full dress rehearsals of liberated ethnic strife in Bosnia and the Caucasus not a decade before. But perhaps he couldn't see those places from his Central Texas terrace. Why on earth would he have thought the Middle East any easier? We keep hearing that he has launched 'a process'. Ye Gods, what a trope. And what a splendid advertisement for democracy he has fashioned. Think especially of the effect on those huddled masses stifling under the yoke of nearby brutal regimes - how much easier it now is to keep the populace quiet in the name of stability. That neither Messrs Bush or Rumsfeld intended any of this should be cold comfort to us as it is to the locals. Lack of foresight equals egregious incompetence in war. You'd better have a fully gamed scenario of worst-case options. Mr.Rumsfeld's famous dictum that "you go to war with the army that you have not the army that you wish to have" never made any sense. That notion is nothing other than what it sounds like: an excuse for incompetence.

Chris Hitchens, writing in his column this week for Slate,  argues the pro-war case eloquently. He reminds readers of Saddam's genocide of the Marsh Arabs and Kurds, the invasion of Kuwait, the suppression of opinion, the tortures and mass graves, while pointing out that Iraqis now regularly petition parlaiment. They sue to withhold pay from the non-existent government. They voice their discontents on chat shows and the like. His is the process-launching argument. To do him justice, Hitch also bemoans the barbarism of sectarian politics now at large in the country. Anyone expressing unvetted opinion under Saddam invited torture. In the free state of Iraq, to borrow V.S.Naipaul's ironic title for places 'freed' by socialist dogma, you are just as likely to get killed by sectarian gangs.

I do not say 'incompetence' lightly. You do not occupy a country without first securing borders and access to armaments and locking in a massive propaganda machine to win over the locals. They don't need to teach that in Warfare 101, but surely they do. The Bushies somehow overlooked those (and many other) basics. As Dr.Ahmad Chalabi tells anyone who will listen, no one had planned for a longterm administrative occupation by the allies. There was no legal authorization for that. Iraqis were supposed to govern Iraqis while elections were planned. Instead, US forces turned into foreign occupiers and their Iraqi allies had to draw on sectarian loyalties to legitimize themselves. In the end, the US handed over power to Iraqi politicians anyway, in a situation so unstable they all grovel off to Tehran, as Maliki is currently doing, in order to keep power. So the Bushies also accidentally empowered Iran. Meanwhile, while we bled a trillion dollars Russia invaded Georgia and the Taliban insurgency gained force. Perhaps incompetence is too light a term, especially if you remember the over 4000 American dead and 30,000 wounded - as we surely must above all on this Veteran's Day.

For the Hitch camp of process-launchers, there's a quick but oft-forgotten rebuttal. They always cite the pre-embargo era horrors for their purposes but everywhere I went in Iraq, local folks spoke of Saddam's last years as a strangely blessed if impoverished time. His regime gradually lost grip from lack of resources. The Kurds, marsh Arabs, Turkmen and Christians began to do their own thing. Certainly, he was up to no good. He invited Zarqawi to undergo treatment at Iraqi hospitals. He allowed massive outside Sunni funding to build huge mosques. But he was clutching at straws. If you want to talk about a process, that was the time: Iraqis began to form civil society groups independently, of artists, musicians, filmmakers and the like. This I know from interviews I conducted for the Wall Street Journal on cultural topics. Saddam sat on his ever-shrinking island and his departure, along with his family and regime hangers-on, looked inexorable. A negotiated departure. How eventual and with what awful interludes, we can only surmise but we have seen the alternative.

When did we start accepting that democracy must involve a scalding, blood-drenched process? Revolution: that was a Marxist-Leninist notion, remember? "You have to break eggs to make an omelet" said Stalin. The US has become so besotted with its own revitalizing metaphors of overthrowing elites, purging Washington, freeing everything from markets to mortgages to mineral resources to the internet, that we behave like righteous apostles of natural forces around the world. This neo-Rousseau-esque mania - lift the lid and let freedom reign - doesn't work everywhere everytime. The sexual revolution anyone? We have to stop electing dimwits who only know to act on infantile slogans, especially if we intend them to shape the wider world. Ask the Iraqi Christians what they think of our noble intentions after surviving 4000 years without our help. So, as the last thought in my last column, let me urge Americans to think of good government rather than size of government, competents not ideologues, technocrats not populists, conservatism as restraint not revolution and to pick worldly leaders over charming primitives. As a conservative you can divide the world broadly into the elder Bush and the younger Bush. I always preferred the elder.

Posted on 11/12/2010 5:49 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 12 November 2010
Selig Harrison On Continued American Coddling Of Pakistan's Military

From The Los Angeles Times: 

Pakistan divides U.S. and India

Washington should stop providing Islamabad with weaponry that can be used against India and take a realistic view of the reasons for Indian-Pakistani tensions.

November 08, 2010|By Selig S. Harrison

" Obama Mission: Billions to Pakistan, Billions From India" - This screaming headline in the Times of India ahead of President Obama's visit to New Delhi explains why a quiet crisis is developing in what seems, on the surface, to be an increasingly promising relationship between the world's two largest democracies.

Calling for a strategic partnership, Washington has pressed New Delhi to buy $11 billion in U.S. fighter aircraft and to sign defense agreements permitting U.S. military aircraft to refuel at Indian airfields and for U.S. naval vessels to dock in Indian ports. But New Delhi responds that the United States can hardly be a strategic partner if it continues to build up the military capabilities of a hostile Pakistan that sponsors Islamist terrorists dedicated to India's destruction.

The Obama visit this weekend will no doubt strengthen growing cooperation between the United States and India in trade, investment and high technology that contrasts strikingly with the mutual suspicions of the Cold War decades. Promising plans explored at recent G-20 meetings for a new global currency exchange rate regime were also on the agenda.

But the full potential of U.S.-Indian cooperation, including naval cooperation in the face of an increasingly ambitious China, will not be realized until Washington stops providing Islamabad with weaponry that can be used against India and takes a realistic view of the reasons for Indian-Pakistani tensions.

Since 9/11, the U.S. has showered $13.5 billion in military hardware on Islamabad, and it pledged another $2 billion last month. The Pentagon justifies this buildup in the name of combating terrorism. But the big-ticket items have all strengthened Pakistani air and naval capabilities needed for potential combat with India, not for counterinsurgency mountain warfare against the Taliban.

For example, post-2001 U.S. military aid has more than doubled Pakistan's fleet of nuclear-capable F-16 fighter jets, equipping them with state-of-the-art missiles and laser-guided bombs, and has tripled the number of its anti-submarine helicopters and anti-ship missiles. Before 2001, Pakistan had 200 TOW antitank missiles, crucial in plains warfare with India but of little use in mountain warfare against tribal jihadis. Now it has 5,250.

The message from Islamabad is that Pakistan's "insecurity" in the face of Indian power explains why it aids the Taliban in Afghanistan, and that a settlement over the disputed Kashmir region would lead Pakistan to abandon support for Islamist forces. Bob Woodward's book, "Obama's Wars," shows in detail that the U.S. intelligence community has accepted this argument uncritically and that it has impressed the president.

But the reason Pakistan supports the Taliban is that it wants to counter Indian influence in Afghanistan with its own surrogates. This objective would not be altered by a Kashmir settlement. More important, the underlying reason for Pakistan's feelings of insecurity is that it is an artificial entity hastily patched together by the British Raj in the 1947 partition.

The Muslim League movement that campaigned in then-undivided India to create Pakistan had limited mass support in the areas that were to constitute the new state. Recent historical studies have conclusively established that Pakistan came into being primarily because league leaders had agreed to give Britain military bases there, while India's Jawaharlal Nehru had declared his intention to pursue a nonaligned foreign policy.

No state had ever combined the four incompatible ethnic regions that make up Pakistan today, encompassing the dominant Punjabi and large Baluchi, Pashtun and Sindhi minorities, each with their own ancestral territory. The minorities had fought throughout history to resist domination by the Punjabi, but it was a Punjabi-dominated army that took over the new state.

The U.S. has held Pakistan together for the last half-century by pouring billions in military aid into a series of military dictatorships, initially in return for intelligence-monitoring facilities to spy on Soviet missile sites, later for helping to aid the Afghan resistance and, since 2001, to compensate for cooperation in the "war on terror."

The army has become a bloated behemoth that dominates Pakistani politics and fans tensions with India to justify the huge defense budgets that underlie its privileged position in Pakistani society. Apart from their dominant position in real estate, current and retired generals run army-linked business conglomerates with net assets totaling $38 billion.

Civilian political leaders have consistently faced opposition from the army in their efforts to reduce tension between India and Pakistan. This was especially true in the case of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who secretly negotiated conventional arms control measures in 1989 with Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi that were snuffed out when discovered by the army. In 1999, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wanted to de-escalate the crisis resulting from the army's invasion of Kargil in Kashmir, and this was one of the factors that led to his ouster by Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Now President Asif Ali Zardari has made clear that he would like to pick up where Bhutto, his late wife, left off.

Zardari is often dismissed as a corrupt playboy incapable of governing, and he has indeed been a weak administrator. But he has demonstrated surprising courage and consistency in seeking to downgrade the Kashmir issue and to jump-start trade with India as the key to easing Indian-Pakistani tensions.

Significantly, it was in the weeks preceding the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack that Zardari first went public with his peace overtures. Dismissing the threat of an Indian attack, he declared that the Muslim insurgents fighting Indian rule in Kashmir were "terrorists." Then, two days before the Mumbai attack, he said, "I can assure you Pakistan will not use nuclear weapons first against India."

This reversed Pakistan's policy of deliberate ambiguity on the first use of nuclear weapons and outraged military leaders. Was this the last straw for the army? Was the Mumbai attack instigated by Islamist hard-liners to wreck Zardari's peace campaign, as one of his closest advisors suggested to me? In any case, the army has largely succeeded in silencing him.

To demonstrate sensitivity to Indian concerns about Pakistan, Obama should make clear that the United States accepts the findings of an Indian intelligence probe of the Mumbai attack. The inquiry showed that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) supported the attack by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba. The director of Obama's own initial review of his Afghanistan policy, Bruce Riedel, who has had access to the Indian report, concluded that it "reinforces the sense that Pakistan is riding a jihadist Frankenstein." Given the level of detail in the Indian probe, he declared, there appears to be "no question that the ISI had a role in Mumbai." Acknowledging that the ISI is behind Pakistani-based Islamist efforts to destabilize and dismember India is the necessary first step for the United States to demonstrate that it is serious about a true partnership with New Delhi.

Selig Harrison is director of the Asia program at the Center for International Policy and a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.


Selig Harrison understates the total aid to Pakistan since 9/11/2001. If one includes economic aid, debt relief, and military aid hidden in the larger Pentagon budget that is, nonetheless, related to Pakistan, a figure more than twice that of the 13.5 billiion he lists would be arrived at. And he identifies the Pakistani civilian leadership as worthyy of support and trust, but Mrs. Bhutto can be seen on YouTube calling for "Jihad, Jihad, Jihad" against India in Kashmir, and Zardari and Sharif, both famously corrupt, are not to be subjected to instant makeovers simply because they are not as sinister in their military maneuvers as are all of Pakistan's generals, including those the Americans  see or saw as more "trustworthy" than the others -- Musharraf, and now Kayani.

In other words, his skepticism about Pakistan does not go far enough. The Jihad against India is not a project of the military alone. It reflects the sentiments of the primitive Muslimi masses. It is defended by the plummy-voiced anglophone Pakistani diplomats -- so presentable, withal -- who make the case in Washington and London. It's a national project, not a militay one. There should be no aid to Pakistan. Its four constituent parts should be allowed to make war on each other, and Baluchistan, in particular, would if it were to obtain independence would be both self-sufficient, and  possibly be a threat, as well, in the part of Baluchistan that is forcibly part of Iran, to the Islamic Republic of Iran. And that would be a good thing.

Posted on 11/12/2010 6:04 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 12 November 2010
A Musical Interlude: Four Or Five Times (Lucky Millinder Orch., voc. Sister Rosetta Tharpe)

Before Rosetta Tharpe became Sister Rosetta Tharpe: 

Listen here.

Posted on 11/12/2010 6:17 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 12 November 2010
Just shoot me

Rod Liddle is feeling past it:

[T]here comes a point in your life where you start to think autumn leaves are untidy and that someone should clear them up.

Over my dead body.

Posted on 11/12/2010 7:00 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 12 November 2010
How Many Of Those Who Have Squandered So Much Because They Refuse To Grasp The Nature Of Islam Similarly Deny That Their "Fitness To Practice Is Impaired"?

Nurse 'was playing computer games while diabetic patient died'

By Daily Mail Reporter
12th November 2010

Playing games: a hearing heard that Natascha Hobbs spent most of her shift on the nursing station computer

Playing games: a hearing heard that Natascha Hobbs spent most of her shift on the nursing station computer

A nurse failed to notice a patient had been dead 'for some time' because she was playing online computer games, a hearing was told on Thursday.

Natascha Hobbs, 39, had been asked to pay 'particular attention' to the diabetic man during her night shift because he had previously been hypoglycemic.

But she did not check his blood sugar level once and instead sat at the nurses' station computer throughout her shift, playing the spelling puzzle game Bookworm.

Hobbs had been the sole nurse responsible for 15 patients on the Worcestershire Royal Hospital's specialist gastroenterology Avon 2 ward.

Staff discovered the man, known as Patient A, dead in his bed the following morning and found his body was cold and already showing the blueish blotches of livor mortis on his face.

A colleague raised the alarm at around 4.15am on February 27 2008 after checking if Hobbs had been carrying out the blood sugar tests, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.

The patient had last been seen alive at 11.30pm by a healthcare assistant.

Hannah Kinch, for the NMC, said: 'She found him dead, and he apparently had been for some time'.

Hobbs, who had worked at the hospital since January 2006, retrospectively added a blood sugar reading to his records the following day, claiming she had tested him at 11.30pm.

She later admitted altering the records but claimed she had carried out the test and had forgotten to record the reading.  She also admitted failing to check the blood sugar of another diabetic, Patient B, on the same night.

Ms Kinch said Hobbs had been playing computer games 'for a considerable time of her shift'.

'She was certainly doing that at 2.30am and was in the same position at her computer at 3.30am,' she said.

She added that Hobbs had earlier ignored a request by another nurse for help in finding medical equipment for a different patient.


Hobbs, from Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire, admits failing to monitor Patient A and B's blood sugar levels; failing to observe Patient A's death 'for some time'; playing computer games at the nursing station outside of her breaks; and retrospectively changing Patient A's records.

She denies that her fitness to practise is impaired.

Posted on 11/12/2010 7:11 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 12 November 2010
Touche pas à mon Islam

From Riposte Laïque, with thanks to regular reader Paul:

Posted on 11/12/2010 3:43 PM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 12 November 2010
Hate preacher goes on the run after life sentence for financing al Qaeda

Preacher of hate Omar Bakri said today he will never give himself up as he went on the run after being sentenced to life in prison. The Muslim cleric told the London Evening Standard he will stay in hiding for as long as he can as he has "no intention to bow down" to the British Government.

Bakri, 52, who was thrown out of the UK five years ago, had been charged with fund-raising for al Qaeda in Lebanon. The sentence by a military court in the Middle East country, which he claimed was imposed because of pressure from Britain, was issued in his absence after he failed to turn up for a hearing. He is now on the run from Lebanese authorities and said he has been given just over a fortnight to hand himself in - but added that he did not believe in "man-made laws".

The radical cleric, who has been linked with terrorist activity in Britain, spoke on his mobile phone from a secret location in the north of Lebanon.

"I have been told I have 15 days to appeal the length of my life sentence," he said. "How much lower can a life sentence get? I will never give myself up. I will not appear in any man-made court and hand myself to the authorities. I am on the run and I intend to stay in hiding as long as I can. If they find me they find me but I will never give them the satisfaction of walking into court."

Bakri headed hardline Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir before running radical group Al-Muhajiroun until its disbandment in 2004.

Two days after the 9/11 attacks, he told a newspaper: "When I first heard about them there was some initial delight. I received a phone call and said, Oh, wow, the United States has come under attack'. It was exciting."

Posted on 11/12/2010 7:42 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 12 November 2010
Murfreesboro Chancery Court Hearing Resumes

The following AP report on the Murfreesboro Chancery Court Hearing released yesterday has made many of the major papers this morning. The New York Times had a slanted redacted version in this morning's edition under Regional Roundup in the National edition. This Breitbart news version captured all of the AP report. I wonder how Steve Emerson and Ray Locker of The investigative Project  on Terrorism (IPT) would respond to the characterization of the alleged disclaimer about board member Mosaad Rawash. The author of this AP report didn't get Rawash's last name correct nor delve into what IPT and others like Liz Coker have testified about the contents of the Rawash My Space connections to terror group Hamas. Notice how the author leaps to the conclusion that "Islam is on trial," while the hearing endeavored to zero in on Sharia Islamic law and the defects in public notice and handling and possible malfeasance in how the Planning Commission and County Commission handled the conditional use permit for the early burial on the construction site for the expanded ICM. The AP report author gives credit to the generous record accumulated from non-experts on Sharia by Chancellor Corlew, but notes that in the end he can rule on what he deems the applicable information and the law. The AP writer  notes that Frank Gaffney does consider Sharia a threat - the byline of the Center for Security Policy "Team B" report now making the rounds of press briefings.   

This report comes as the hearing is winding down to a possible conclusion early next week, after reconvening today.
The New York Times short report in today's edition ends with County Counsel Cope's remark: "this is a circus."
Doubtless, even when this hearing is over and Chancellor Corlew rules narrowly, the record of this Hearing will be the opening bow shot of the Sharia Islamic law debate nationally. It should not be lost that next Tuesday a hearing will be held in an Oklahoma Federal Court on a Temporary Restraining Order based on a CAIR  pleading against the popular Amendment to the State Constitution banning judges from adopting Sharia rulings.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) - Islam is suddenly on trial in a booming Nashville suburb, where opponents of a new mosque have spent six days in court trying to link it to what they claim is a conspiracy to take over America by imposing restrictive religious rule.

The hearing is supposed to be about whether Rutherford County officials violated Tennessee's open meetings law when they approved the mosque's site plan. Instead, plaintiff's attorney Joe Brandon Jr. has used it as a forum to question whether the world's second-biggest faith even qualifies as a religion, and to push a theory that American Muslims want to replace the Constitution with extremist Islamic law.

"Do you want to know about a direct connection between the Islamic Center and Shariah law, a.k.a. terrorism?" Brandon asked one witness in a typical line of questioning.

Brandon has repeatedly conflated a moderate version of Shariah with its most extreme manifestations, suggesting that all Muslims must adhere to those interpretations.

At one point, he asked whether Rutherford County Commissioner Gary Farley supported hanging a whip in his house as a warning to his wife and then beating her with it, something Brandon claimed was part of "Shariah religion."

The commissioner protested that he would never beat his wife.

County attorney Jim Cope objected to the question, saying, "This is a circus."

The rhetoric has conjured up comparisons to another culture clash that played out in a Tennessee courtroom a hundred miles and nearly a century away from Murfreesboro, a college city of 100,000 that is among the fastest-growing communities in the country. In 1925, the world watched as evolution came under attack at the Scopes monkey trial in Dayton, Tenn.

Chancellor Robert Corlew has consistently given the plaintiffs leeway to present testimony by nonexperts and documents that they cannot prove are legitimate, saying he reserves the right to strike things from the record later.

Corlew, who holds an elected office, has given little explanation for why he has allowed the testimony to stray so far afield.

Since it is not a jury trial, the judge can ultimately disregard anything he deems irrelevant. Several attorneys suggested he may want the plaintiffs, three residents who object to how the mosque came about, to feel they were able to have their say.

That could explain why Corlew has allowed Brandon to repeatedly question witnesses about whether Islam is a legitimate religion-even after the Department of Justice stepped in with a brief stating that it was.

When Farley, the commissioner, told Brandon the federal government defined Islam as a religion, Brandon responded, "Are you one of those people who believes everything the government says? Are you aware the government once said it was OK to own slaves?"

Other faiths have risen to the defense of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. The newly formed Interfaith Coalition on Mosques, which is composed of prominent Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and Southern Baptists and other Protestants, has filed a brief in the case.

It's good for the mosque's opponents to get their day in court-testimony is to resume Friday-said the Rev. Joel Hunter, an evanglical megachurch pastor and coalition member.

But it's "really out there" to question whether Islam is a religion, said Hunter, who leads a Longwood, Fla., congregation called Northland, A Church Distributed.

Seeking to prove that the mosque has terrorist leanings, witnesses have pointed out that board member Mosaad Rowash previously had pro-Hamas postings on his MySpace page, something the mosque's leaders have not denied. The U.S. government considers Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic political party with an armed wing that has attacked Israel, a terrorist organization.

The political views of Rowash-who hasn't been called to testify and hasn't commented publicly-and other board members are "totally irrelevant," said Deborah Lauter, the director of civil rights for the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, which sponsors the interfaith coalition.

If all of the members of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro were public cheerleaders for Hamas, it would still be illegal to discriminate against them because the First Amendment protects freedom of worship, she said.

Even the group that provided the information on Rowash, the Washington-based Investigative Project on Terrorism, doesn't claim that the MySpace postings prove anything about the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro or its members.

Managing director Ray Locker said the Washington group provided the information about Rowash to a Tennessee resident who sent an inquiry about the mosque. He said how such information is used is beyond his group's control.

"We don't consider all Muslims to be terrorists," he said. "The vast majority of American Muslims just want to worship freely, just like members of other religions."

That wasn't the message of witness Frank Gaffney, the president and founder of the Washington-based Center for Security Policy and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration.

While acknowledging he was not an expert on Shariah law, Gaffney testified that Shariah, and by extension the new mosque, poses a threat to America.

Shariah isn't really law, at least not law as a universally recognized, codified body of rules and rights, the way Americans have come to know it. Shariah is a set of core principles that most Muslims recognize as well as a series of rulings from religious scholars.

It's some of those rulings, such as stoning a woman to death for committing adultery, that many non-Muslim Americans find reprehensible. But many Muslims, in America and around the world, are equally horrified by them, said Mohammad Fadel, an assistant professor of law at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and an expert on Islamic law.

The mosque project has had problems outside court as well. A sign at the construction site was spray-painted with the words "Not Welcome" and torn in half, and federal investigators have offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in what they say was the arson of a dump truck on the grounds.

Hunter, the Florida pastor, said he studied American history in college and knows that what is happening to Muslims today has happened to other groups in the past.

"Every minority-and Islam is very much a minority in this country right now-has had to struggle for equal rights," he said. "Islam is facing that now and we will not rest until they have equal rights with other religions."

Posted on 11/12/2010 8:33 AM by Jerry Gordon
Friday, 12 November 2010
Ask Imam

A real question from Ask Imam:

Assalamualaikum, can you please confirm if eating crow is really halaal, as you've mentioned in fatwa# 18321?

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

Due to the various species of crow, the fuqahaa have divided them up into three categories:

a) Crows that eat carrion only

b) Crows that eat crop, grains etc. only (no meat)

c) Crows that eat some of both

Category (a) is haraam to eat, while categories (b) and (c) are both permissible.

Add a pinch of salt to taste, and bake in a pie.

Posted on 11/12/2010 10:36 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 12 November 2010
Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn't've fallen in love with?


Posted on 11/12/2010 4:45 PM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 12 November 2010

From Technorati:

Just you wait, Henry Higgins, just you wait.

Posted on 11/12/2010 5:07 PM by Mary Jackson

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