ZANZIBAR, Tanzania (CDN) - Radical Islamists are suspected in the demolition of two church buildings on Tanzania's semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar on Sunday (Nov. 21), as members of the congregations have since received death threats from Muslims. The latest in a string of violent acts aimed at frightening away Christians in the Muslim-dominated region, the destruction on the island off the coast of East Africahas raised fears that Muslim extremists could go to any length to limit the spread of Christianity, church leaders said.
"One Muslim was heard saying, 'We have cleansed our area by destroying the two churches, and now we are on our mission to kill individual members of these two churches - we shall not allow the church to be built again,'" said one church member who requested anonymityEAGT Pastor Michael Maganga and TAG Pastor Dickson Kaganga said they were fearful about the future of the church in Masingini. Pastors in Zanzibar have scheduled a meeting on Saturday (Nov. 27) to discuss how to cope with the destruction of the two buildings, said the chairman of the Pastors Fellowship in Zanzibar, Bishop Leonard Masasa of EAGT church.
Muslim extremists in Zanzibar, in concert with local government officials, have long limited the ability of Christians to obtain land for erecting worship buildings. In some cases they have destroyed existing buildings and put up mosques in their place.
Frustrated at obtaining government help to apprehend criminals, church leaders said they have little hope that the perpetrators of Monday's attacks will ever be caught. In most cases the government sides with the attackers, delaying investigation out of fear of upsetting the majority Muslim population that opposes the spread of Christianity.
In 2009, officials in Mwanyanya-Mtoni colluded with area Muslims to erect a mosque in place of a planned church building of the EAGZ, Pastor Paulo Kamole Masegi said. Pastor Masegi had purchased land in April 2007 for a church building in Mwanyanya-Mtoni, and by November of that year he had built a house that served as a temporary worship center, he said. Soon area Muslim residents objected. In August 2009, local Muslims began to build a mosque just three feet away from the church plot. In November 2009, Pastor Masegi began building a permanent church structure. Angry Muslims invaded the compound and destroyed the structure's foundation, the pastor said.
Church leaders reported the destruction to police, who took no action - and also refused to release the crime report, so that the case could not go to court, Pastor Masegi said. Meantime, construction of the mosque was completed in December 2009. The planned church building's fate appeared to have been sealed earlier this year when Western District Commissioner Ali Mohammed Ali notified Pastor Masegi that he had no right to hold worship in a house.
The Zanzibar archipelago united with Tanganyika to form the present day Tanzania in 1964. The 1964 merger left island Muslims uneasy about Christianity, seeing it as a means by which mainland Tanzania might dominate them, and tensions have persisted.
A radical Muslim who led the banned group al-Muhajiroun is to be handed his own programme on Channel 4 amid claims that Islamists have been allowed to monopolise the broadcaster's coverageAnjem Choudary, who was also involved with the banned group Islam4UK which planned a protest march through Wootton Bassett, will have free reign to give his views during an edition of the channel's daily opinion slot, known as 4thought.tv.
The counter-terrorism think-tank Quilliam has written to David Abraham, the Channel 4 chief executive, to complain about airtime already given to radical Muslims during the series.The format of the short programme allows guest presenters to give their views unchallenged.Talal Rajab, from Quilliam, said: "Given the profoundly negative impact that al-Muhajiroun and Islam4UK have had on the social cohesion of the UK, it is highly inappropriate for a mainstream public broadcaster to be providing such a popular platform for their fanatical views.
"Moreover, al-Muhajiroun was banned by the British government because of its links to individuals who had committed acts of Islamist-inspired terrorism. We therefore urge Channel 4 to reconsider airing Anjem Choudary's film, and to aspire to feature a more representative and moderate portrayal of Islam in all future programming."
Choudary, who has described the 9/11 bombers "magnificent martyrs", will say in his programme to be broadcast on Dec 5 that British Muslims are "persecuted".
The letter from Quilliam to Channel 4 said: "While freedom of speech is important and Anjem Choudary and his followers undoubtedly have the right to put forward their repugnant views, we find it inexplicable that they should be allowed to monopolise such an important strand of Channel 4's programming at the expense of other British Muslims who are overwhelmingly tolerant and good-natured people."
Choudary told The Sunday Telegraph: "Quilliam are sycophants on the British Government payroll, and it is in their own interest to criticise people like ourselves who are calling for sharia and being normal Muslims".
Of the two I trust Choudhary more, in that his is open and up front jihad, not the smiling stealth variety. The more he says, the more aware the British public become of what sharia will really mean for them.
British Royalty attend Mosque named after late Anti-Semitic UAE leader
View these photos from the U.K. Daily Mail of British Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip attending the Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi during a ceremonial trip to the UAE. There is the Queen decked out in ridiculously looking Shariah-compliant attire visting the Sheik Zayed Mosque. Its all about the money, oil and cross cultural exchanges, isn't it, eh? The late Sheik Zayed of the UAE was a notorious anti-Semite. Back in 2003 to 2004, courageous Harvard Divinity School (HDS) graduate student Rachel Fish demanded and got HDS with the blessing of former Harvard university President Lawrence Summers, to return a $2.5 million grant to the Zayed Foundation. Read thisfrom Tom Gross about the Zayed grant episode at Harvard circa 2002-2003. This British royalty visit to the UAE looks like one giant step for dhimmitude in Londonistan to many of us.
Modest Queen covers her head and goes barefoot to the mosque in Abu Dhabi
Shoeless and wearing a beekeeper-style shawl and hat, the Queen walked across the world's largest carpet last night as she met Islamic students in Abu Dhabi at the start of her five-day state visit to the Gulf.
No sooner had the Queen and Prince Philip stepped off their chartered British Airways flight from London than they were taken straight to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the country's largest.
The floor of its main prayer hall is covered in a 35-ton carpet which took 1,200 Iranian women two years to stitch by hand.
State visit: The Queen emerges from the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi having removed her footwear as a mark of respect
Toeing the line: The Queen padded around in stockinged feet. Her last trip to the Emirates was in 1979
In keeping with tradition, the Queen removed her shoes before entering and padded in in stockinged feet.
While other female members of the party wore a traditional 'abaya' or full-length cloak over their clothes and a 'sheela' or scarf, the Queen wore a gold brocade coat embroidered with Swarovski crystals over her matching dress, both designed by her dresser, Angela Kelly.
She tied a gold lame shawl over her pillbox hat to cover her hair.
Spectacular: The Sheikh Zayed Mosque which had a Royal visit today on the first leg of a five-day tour of the Middle East
Not only was the Queen the first visiting head of state to visit the mosque but it is seen as hugely symbolic here that the Supreme Governor of the Church of England should visit a place that, despite its young age, is a national shrine.
Before entering the main chamber, the Queen paid her respects at the tomb of Sheikh Zayed, founding father of the United Arab Emirates.
This visit, her first in 31 years, is designed to underline a renewed spirit of co-operation between the UAE and Britain's Coalition Government. The Queen will be accompanied throughout by the Foreign Secretary, William Hague.
In an unusual departure from convention, the royal couple are also being accompanied by the Duke of York in his capacity as a trade ambassador for Britain.
Royal visit: Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and Prince Andrew arrive at the mosque
Arriving in Abu Dhabi last night, Prince Andrew gave his first - very warm - public thoughts on Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding.
'I think this is the most wonderful piece of news that the UK has had for a long time... I'm aware that the United Kingdom has taken Kate to their heart, I think that's absolutely wonderful news,' said the Duke, who also married in Westminster Abbey, to Sarah Ferguson in 1986.
'I think a spring wedding will be absolutely fantastic. I understand it's going to take place over a bank holiday weekend so it's another excuse for a good party and I think it's wonderful news - it's absolutely great.'
State visit: Foreign Secretary William Hague and his wife Ffion (left) arrive at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque before the Queen
Stunning mosque: Mr Hague and his wife are shown round
Commenting on the importance of the Queen's trip, which will also include a two-day state visit to neighbouring Oman, Andrew said: 'I think you have to look back to the fact this is a long-standing relationship between the UAE and the United Kingdom which reaches back over 40 years when the UAE was a protectorate.
'A lot of work has gone on in the intervening period. Since the new Government came in there's been an increased level of concern for this particular region in terms of investment, in terms of business opportunities.
'This has been reciprocated by the UAE and other countries in the region.
Her Majesty: The Queen sported a beekeeper-style shawl and hat
Making anentrance: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, arrive at the mosque
'The Queen's visit here is extremely important not only for the relationship between the UK and UAE... but also for the wider region.'
The Queen last visited the Emirates in 1979 when she was a guest of the founding father and former president of the UAE Sheikh Zayed.
Abu Dhabi is one of the more prominent members of the UAE, a collection of seven emirates that united in 1971 after gaining full independence from the UK.
Time to reflect: Emirati Minister of StateReem al-Hashemi (centre) and a cultural guide talk with the Queen as Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan chats with Prince Andrew
Like many of its neighbours it has prospered during the last 50 years from the wealth created by oil reserves.
It has an impressive skyline of skyscrapers and is a modern state that is home to around 100,000 Britons while many Emiratis see Britain as 'the eighth emirate' because of their ties with the UK.
As part of her visit, the Queen also officially launched a British-designed project to build a new national museum in the United Arab Emirates.
Ceremony: The Queen unveils the plaque of the Sheikh Zayed National Museum with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai ruler and UAE prime minister
Procession: The royal entourage at the ceremony to mark the unveiling of the new museum on Saadiyat Island off Abu Dhabi
She unveiled the design today for the new Sheik Zayed National Museum on Saadiyat Island off Abu Dhabi.
The project is designed by British architects and backed by the British Museum.
The museum will be part of a cultural complex that will include branches of the Guggenheim and Louvre museums.
Signing: Prince Philip signs a memorandum of understanding between Cambridge University Judge Business School and the University of the UAE for Teaching and Research in the Further Development of Abu Dhabi with Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak
Time for tea? The Queen and ruler of Dubai at the Emirates Palace
Violence All Over The Place Accompany Egypt's Pretend Elections
Son of Egypt election candidate 'stabbed to death'
(AFP) - 4 hours ago
CAIRO - The son of an independent candidate in Egypt's parliamentary election was stabbed to death on the eve of the vote as he was putting up posters of his father in Cairo, relatives and a medic said Sunday.
Two men attacked Omar Sayyed Sayyed, 24, on Saturday night in the Matariya district of the capital and stabbed him to death, family members said.
A security official said police had arrested both attackers who had confessed to killing Sayyed.
He insisted they had committed the murder because Sayyed was flirting with the sister of one of them.
But the relatives of the dead man denied this, saying the attack was politically motivated and that it occurred while Sayyed was putting up posters.
Sayyed's father, Sayyed Sayyed Mohammed, is an independent candidate in Sunday's parliamentary poll.
The Swiss have voted to tighten regulations on the deportation of criminal foreigners.
Projections issued by the gfs.bern polling institute showed 53 per cent voting in favour of a rightwing initiative. The initiative also appeared to have won the backing of a majority of cantons.
Turnout was higher than usual - at 52 per cent - a sign of how controversial were the issues being voted on.
In a complex nationwide vote on Sunday, the electorate were faced with a choice between a hardline option and a compromise version; or approving or rejecting both proposals.
The rightwing People's Party initiative called for the automatic expulsion of convicted non-Swiss offenders whereas an alternative option by parliament opted for a case-by-case examination and additional integration measures.
Parliament's counter-proposal was rejected by 53 per cent of voters, the projections showed.
The initiative called for the automatic deportation of foreign criminals whose crimes fall within a list of around ten offences, including cheating social security benefits. The catalogue of offences is to be completed by parliament. But the proposal denies judges any judicial discretion over deportation.
Controversial black sheep posters proved to be a very successful campaign instrument three years ago when the rightwing party collected more 210,000 signatures for the vote and paved the way for its best result in parliamentary elections.
The counter-proposal, promoted by centre-right parties and the government, sought to introduce the deportation of foreign criminals serving at least two years in prison.
The authorities argued in favour of retaining a case-by-case examination to ensure that Swiss legislation was in line with constitutional rights and international treaties. They also proposed introducing measures to boost the integration of foreigners.
The counter-proposal was said to take into account the personal situation of the offender, considering for instance whether they were a second or third generation immigrant without Swiss nationality.
Under current law about 750 foreigners are expelled from Switzerland every year. However, there are regional differences and courts are free to order deportation as an additional punishment. [tens or even hundreds of thousands need to be expelled from Switzerland, and many more from other Western countries, and not only because those expelled have broken the law, but even when they have not done so, if they are rightly understood to constitute a permanent threat to the legal and political institutions, and cultural coherence, of Switzerland and the rest of the imperilled decadent so-far-crazily complacent Western world]
The Juggernaut That Cannot, Apparently, Be Stopped Or Even Slowed Down
From The Australian, Nov. 29, 2010
No hope for climate talks, says Britain's chief scientist John Beddington
BRITAIN'S chief scientist has dismissed hopes for a deal at the UN climate change conference starting today in Cancun, Mexico.
And, says John Beddington, people should start preparing for a warmer world.
Beddington told The Sunday Times there was "very little chance of reaching a comprehensive agreement in Cancun" and it was unwise to think the UN would achieve its target of limiting global temperature rises to 2C.
"We have to focus on adaptation to climate change," he said. "It would be very unwise to think that the 2C goal will happen."
Sir John warned that Britain and Europe could not continue to take action on emissions alone without putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage.
But a former UN climate chief believes a "coalition of the willing" among the major economies can break the deadlock.
Yvo de Boer told The Times that countries willing to cut emissions should not wait for the US to act but join forces with like-minded nations, and said Europe and China were already discussing linking their emissions trading schemes.
"There is no need for us to sit and wait until the very last person has agreed. Groups of countries coming together and beginning to act is a fantastic way of moving the process forward," he said.
The Dutchman, who resigned in July as executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said the US had fallen behind China in enacting its pledge on emissions. "China is further in actually translating its commitment into national policy," he said.
Climate scientists say the world has already warmed by about 0.7C since pre-industrial times. The Cancun talks, which will last for two weeks with an estimated 10,000 participants, are aimed at achieving an agreement that will limit further rises to no more than 1.3C.
That would mean reducing annual carbon dioxide emissions to the equivalent of 22 billion tonnes by 2050 -- compared with 56 billion tonnes emitted now.
Michael Grubb, a member of the British government's advisory body on emissions, endorsed the idea of a coalition. "In carbon terms, this would be a coalition of the progressive world. In addition to Europe, we would need China or India plus Brazil or South Africa and either South Korea or Japan," he said.
"There has to be some glue to hold the coalition together. The glue would have to involve some form of co-operation on carbon pricing, trade and financial measures."
Sir John stressed the wider global context. "It's not just climate change," he said. "There is also a demographic boom, with world population rising by 70 million a year. We have got major issues with food security interacting with climate change.
"Extreme weather events, such as the fires in Russia and floods in Pakistan, could become more frequent. And we have rising and more wealthy populations. All these things are interrelated and you ignore any of them at your peril."
Irritating as he is, you can't fault Choudary's logic. Compared with "Ed" Husain of Quilliam or Tariq Ramadan, he is lucid and articulate. This is because he is speaking the truth, even if the truth is based on a lie. If you accept, as all Muslims must, that the Koran is the word of God for all time, and Mohammed the perfect man, then everything Choudary says must follow. Quilliam, Ramadan and other stealth jihadists are annoyed because Islam's cover is being blown. Watch this debate:
Russia's Islamist rebels mull new "state" language
Reuters - Militants waging an Islamist insurgency in Russia's mainly Muslim North Caucasus region region proposed using either Arabic or a Turkic language as a lingua franca for their affairs.The insurgency leader, Chechen rebel Doku Umarov, suggested earlier this month that a "state" language be formed for the self-styled Caucasus Emirate, a grouping of Muslim republics including Chechnya and Dagestan that want to quit Russia.
The proposal came from "the growing discussion among the mujahideen Muslims of the Caucasus Emirate in regard to its state institutions ... and other important aspects of state building," unofficial Islamist site kavkazcenter.com reported.
To switch to Arabic would highlight what analysts say is the insurgency's dependence on intellectual and financial patronage from the Middle East and from Islamist groups like al Qaeda. Arabic, the voice of the Koran, was proposed due to its status as "the language of Islam," while a Turkic group language was suggested due to the historical and linguistic links of dozens of languages spoken in the North Caucasus.
Last week a member of the Caucasus Emirate, Abu Zaid, posted a long appeal on kavkazcenter.com in favor of Arabic as a state language for the Caucasus Emirate, calling it "the international language of jihad (holy war)."
At dusk last Friday, four Taliban mortars crashed to the ground near the district center in Miri, a small town in eastern Ghazni province where a U.S. Army company is based. Shrapnel from one of the blasts injured two children in a residential area, a 12-year-old girl and one-year-old boy, who later died of his injuries. It was the second time in as many months that militants had killed local civilians, and U.S. forces were not going to let it be forgotten.
Within two hours of the attack, a message was drafted by the battalion's "information operations" team to be broadcast by its new on-base radio station. In the cramped confines of a steel shipping container-turned-studio, Karimullah, the Afghan announcer, broke the news that both children were taken to an area hospital by American soldiers "for the best possible care, but the little boy was too badly hurt. The insurgents," he lamented, "continue to harm their fellow Afghans and kill your children needlessly."
Words are now weapons in the fight for Afghan hearts and minds - but they must be deployed faster than ever to be effective. In recent years, the Taliban-led insurgency has evolved a vast propaganda machine with a full range of tools to spread their message. The once anti-media movement now operates websites featuring updated battlefield reports; it also mass-produces DVDs with raw video of attacks against coalition forces. Meanwhile, the Taliban's regional spokesmen communicate with domestic and foreign press in real time via cell phone. (See what R&R is like at the Kandahar airfield.)
But no medium is as powerful as radio in this poor, largely illiterate country with limited access to TV and the internet. On both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border, Taliban-sponsored FM stations drive home the insurgents' messaging campaign, with the threat of physical punishment or worse reserved for those who don't tune in. Mobile clandestine radio stations and portable transmitters enable militants to tap and commandeer local airwaves almost at will. (See the fallout from a civilian casualty in rural Afghanistan.)
Recognizing the Taliban's head-start on this critical front, NATO military officials have ramped up the spin cycle in the Afghan backcountry. Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, recently issued operational guidelines stressing that the "information war" must be fought aggressively to ensure insurgent propaganda is not just promptly challenged but also beaten to the punch. "Turn our enemies' extremist ideologies, oppressive practices and indiscriminate violence against them. Hang their barbaric actions like millstones around their necks," the guidelines say. "Be first with the truth."
So when a battalion of the U.S. Army's 101st airborne division arrived in Ghazni province's hostile moonscape late this summer to build a base from scratch, they brought radio equipment and DJ Karimullah. Trained at a radio station in his native Khost province, the 25-year-old has worked on the U.S. payroll in three of the country's perennial hot spots: Khost, Paktika and now Ghazni, where Radio Andar 96.7 was launched in August. From a makeshift studio that has a mattress for a chair, he and his partner, Faruq, are on the air from 7 in the morning until 10 at night, seven days a week, broadcasting a mix of pro-government news briefs, Koranic recitations, Hindi pop songs and, when he's in the mood to spice things up, a bit of Michael Jackson. With a modest $500-a-month salary, he says it's the dynamic platform that sustains him. "In Afghanistan radio is a kind of power," he beams with wide-eyed enthusiasm. "Everybody knows me."
Each day at work, Karimullah wears a baseball cap and shiny brown pleather jacket over his customary shalwar kameez tunic. And while he relishes the small degree of fame, he insists that educating fellow Afghans to embrace their country is what drives him. Much of his time on-air deals with themes of basic civic awareness, such as "The Afghan Constitution" or "Who is President Karzai?" He also offers a kind of traffic update: practical advice on what places to avoid because of heavy fighting. Listeners, for the time being, can reach him with questions and concerns via text messages which he addresses on air. But he has plans for a call-in show that will focus on more culturally sensitive issues, such as women's rights. He'll have to be careful, too. His attention to women's concerns have already drawn several death threats, making it impossible for him to travel "outside the wire."
Yet given the insurgency's long-standing chokehold over areas like Ghazni, old fears are proving difficult to shake. A day after the errant Taliban mortars claimed two innocent casualties, soldiers stationed in Miri went to assess the damage in a nearby neighborhood. According to Lieut. Philip Divinski, most people had already heard the Taliban was responsible from word-of-mouth or the radio. They could also assume as much, based on the previous militant mortar attack in October that killed two people and injured at least 10 more in the bazaar. Despite the deadly reprise, he was struck at how indifference exceeded anger among the victims' families and friends. "Sadly, it seems people have gotten used to this kind of thing," says the officer. "They understand who's at fault, but they're just too afraid to turn against them."
So, the hope in the first paragraph that the incident would not be forgotten is gone by the final paragraph, and it is admitted that sadly the incident will be forgotten. When coalition troops accidentally kill civilians, there are throngs of enraged Muslims marching in protest, burning U.S. flags, calling for the punishment of those responsible. When Taliban jihadis accidentally or purposefully kill civilians. there is only indifference, and the U.S. military leadership is confused and stumped by the inconsistent response. Why don't Muslims treat the kufir invaders by the same standard as for the devoutly-Muslim Taliban defenders? Will more frequent broadcasts solve this dilemma? Stronger radio signals? A zippier delivery style by their spokesperson?
Lieut. Philip Divinski is certain that the Afghan people share our disdain for the Taliban and all that they stand for. The Afghan people surely want to get rid of the Taliban and sharia, but they are simply afraid of the few extremists who have twisted Islam into something it's not. The evidence for this belief is unfortunately not mentioned, but nine years after 9/11, it is treated as a self-evident axiom.
The native Taliban have only the resources of one of the poorest nations at their disposal, but their message is overshadowing that of one of the most powerful and richest nations. The Taliban are building mobile radio transmission towers, running DVD production studios, delivering direct-mail messages to the doorsteps of each house in their area of control. All this is being funded by ... whom, exactly?
The simple fact is that the Taliban represent mainstream Islam. The reason that the Afghan people are fertile ground for the Taliban message is that the Taliban are merely stating long-held Islamic belief, with over a millenium of mainstream Islamic exegesis to back it up.
Broadcasting a confusing message to the Afghan people that they should give up Islamic belief (such as misogyny, pedophilia, slavery, and paternalism) while also promoting Islam as the Noble Religion of Peace will not change many minds. That same money, spent within the U.S. to inform U.S. citizens about the teachings of Islam could change quite a few minds. It could educate a great many people, and lead those people to demand policies that would actually increase the safety of U.S. citizens.
This is a brain-dead campaign, with no discernible realistic goals. The Afghan campaign is running on auto-pilot, we're going through the motions of a Vietnam-style counter-insurgency program without stopping to consider who or what we're fighting against, or for.
In computer science, we might refer to this as a "zombie process," that is running unseen in the background, uncontrolled, consuming resources, but with no beneficial output. Unchecked, a "zombie process" can eventually cause the host machine to run out of resources and crash.
Failure rates for immigrants writing citizenship tests have soared since the spring when tougher questions and revamped rules made it harder for newcomers to become Canadian.
A group of 61 new Canadians take the oath of citizenship during a ceremony held as part of 2009 Canada Day celebrations in Vancouver.(Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
The new test, introduced March 15, was based on a bulked-up citizenship guide released a year ago to give immigrants a richer picture of Canada's history, culture, law and politics.
The 63-page guide, Discover Canada, replaced a slimmer volume dating from 1995 that had fewer facts to memorize. The failure rate for the old citizenship test, with questions drawn from the smaller guide, ranged between four and eight per cent.
Failure rates for the new test rocketed to about 30 per cent when it was introduced - prompting officials to revise the rules to avoid clogging the system with thousands of would-be Canadians who, because they had flunked, often had to plead their cases before busy citizenship judges.
A reworked test introduced Oct. 14 is helping to cut the national failure rate to about 20 per cent, still far higher than historic levels and making the exam-hall experience much more nerve-racking for newcomers.
Hundred of documents outlining the bumpy introduction of the new tests were obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.
The old and new tests both have 20 multiple-choice questions and a 30-minute time limit. Only those citizenship wannabes aged 18 to 54 years are required to write the test, which is available in French and English.
But the pass mark for the test introduced March 15 was set at 75 per cent, meaning at least 15 of the 20 answers had to be correct. That compares with just 60 per cent, or 12 right answers, for the old exam.
The impact of the new standards was dramatic: shocked officials at testing centres across the country reported massive failure rates in the first sittings.
"I couldn't believe it, it's the highest fail rate I have ever seen here," one Toronto-area official reported by email to headquarters.
1-in-3 failure rate in Etobicoke
An internal survey of 35 testing centres across Canada, carried out between April 19 and June 24, suggested an average of one in four people were flunking. At some centres - such as the busy Etobicoke office in Toronto - it was one in three.
People who failed the old test were automatically referred to a citizenship judge. In 2008-2009, for example, 9,500 applicants who blew the test had to spend up to an hour with a judge to argue they were still worthy of citizenship.
Worried that the tougher tests could swamp the system, officials decided that applicants who flunked would be allowed to rewrite. In the revamped test introduced Oct. 14, the department further eased the rules by eliminating a long-standing policy requiring correct answers to a few mandatory questions.
"We anticipate that the pass rate will settle in the 80 per cent to 85 per cent range, which would indicate that the test is not too easy or too difficult," said department spokeswoman Karen Shadd.
She added that the test questions are being shuffled more often to help end what the department believes was rampant cheating under the old system.
"In the past, with the old test, some people would buy the answers from unofficial sources," Shadd said in an email. "After paying for the answers, they would memorize them in order to pass the test. This accounted, in part, for a much higher pass rate."
She declined to provide an example of the test but said typical questions are either fact-based - "Name two Canadian symbols" - or conceptual, such as, "What is the meaning of the Remembrance Day poppy?" Sample questions are included in Discover Canada.
Education level a factor: officials
The internal survey of 35 testing centres in late spring found the Etobicoke office in Toronto had the highest failure rate at 34.9 per cent, followed closely by Surrey, B.C. (33.7); Winnipeg (31.5); Scarborough in eastern Toronto (31.3); and Niagara Falls, Ont. (30.4).
Officials declined to speculate on why these were the worst performers, but said education levels rather than mother tongue appear to be a big factor.
Citizenship and Immigration administers about 150,000 citizenship tests each year. The current 75 per cent pass mark is the same as in Australia and the United Kingdom, but higher than the 60 per cent set by the United States.
Shadd would not say how the new tests have increased the department's workload, only that "there were times of heavier than normal workloads during the most intensive monitoring phase when we initially implemented the new test."
It didn't get nearly as much play as it should have, but Obama's June 2009 meeting with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah ended with the monarch flying into a tirade and more or less telling the President to get a grip. This was the Riyadh meeting that Obama took on his way to his insulting and failed Cairo Speech, the better to prepare himself by visiting "the place where Islam began." The sit-down was such a disaster that Dennis Ross was hurriedly brought into the White House and given a broader role, yielding the impression that the President wanted a Middle East adviser who kind of understood something about the Middle East - and didn't think he had one.
There were two theories on why the meeting went so badly.
On one side you had typical left-leaning foreign policy experts, the ones who had been advising Obama from the beginning and who now needed to explain why things turned out the opposite of how they predicted. Their approach to the Middle East is grounded in the two dogmas of anti-Israel foreign policy sophistication: (a) linkage, according to which Middle East pathologies are a result of the unresolved Arab/Israeli conflict rather than vice versa and (b) "if only Israel would...," according to which the Arab/Israel conflict could be resolved were Israel to offer more concessions. They had promised that an "even-handed approach" to the Middle East that "put daylight" between the US and Israel would lead to Israeli gestures, at which point Arab regimes would reciprocate. Nothing of the sort came out of the Riyadh meeting. Instead of admitting that they had somehow gotten Saudi priorities or intentions wrong, that crowd doubled down and insisted that the Saudis cared so much about the Palestinians that Obama needed to put even more pressure on Israel to bring around Arab countries.
On the other side you had Middle East experts like Dan Diker, who insisted on One Jerusalem Radio's Omri Ceren Show that the Saudis gave Obama a bruising lecture on what they actually care about, and it wasn't the Palestinians. Under this theory King Abdullah expected to talk about militarily confronting Iran, and he couldn't believe it when Obama kept reciting bromides about the earth-shattering importance of the Israeli/Arab conflict and his enthusiasm for solving it. That was a regular public topic between the two - Obama's first talk with Abdullah focused on Gaza and the President later emphasized his abiding support for Saudi Arabia's "Israel Has To Commit Suicide" plan - but the King kind of thought he was dealing with a serious person who could separate spectacle from policy. Instead he got the equivalent of an International Relations graduate student enamored with pseudo-sophisticated "insights" he'd gleaned from Arab media outlets. Ergo, meltdown.
So two theories about happened at the Obama/Abdullah meeting. One theory says that the Saudis were literally screaming their heads off about Iran, the implication being that experts who describe overarching anti-Israel outrage are more manufacturing it than commenting on it. It's not that Arab leaders don't care about the Israeli/Arab conflict, or that they wouldn't want to see a Palestinian state, or that they won't pay lip service to linkage. It's just that they really, really care about stopping Iran by any means necessary - something that foreign policy experts who obsess over Israel's ostensibly central regional role can't have be true, lest their insistence that a Palestinian state is a necessary prerequisite to action on Iran seem more like personal fantasy than objective analysis.
The other theory insists that pro-Palestinian outrage does in fact drive Arab foreign policy, the flip side being that the tales of anti-Iran freakout are overblown neocon myths. See Walt for the neocon-specific stuff, and here's Arab media expert Marc Lynch bringing his expertise to bear on Arab desire to confront Iran:
The hostility to Iran in various Arab circles should not lead anyone to believe that Arabs would support an attack on Iran by the U.S. or Israel, however. While Arab leaders would certainly like Iranian influence checked, they generally strongly oppose military action which could expose them to retaliation.
That kind of expert insight got imported directly into the journalistic cottage industry that underplays Iran's destabilizing role in the Middle East. Picking up on that exact Lynch article, anti-Israel journalist Philip Weiss built an entire post titled "Actually, Arab leaders don't want a strike on Iran." An even more elaborate version appeared in The Nation from contributing editor and Islam expert Robert Dreyfuss, helpfully contextualized to Saudi Arabia:
For Saudi Arabia the worst thing that could happen would be a war between the United States and Iran or, alternately, an Israeli attack on Iran... It would raise the specter of Iranian retaliatory attacks against Saudi Arabia and its oil fields. So, as much as Saudi Arabia doesn't want Iran to acquire a nuclear bomb, it will do anything it can to avoid a military showdown involving Iran.
10. (S) The King, Foreign Minister, Prince Muqrin, and Prince Nayif all agreed that the Kingdom needs to cooperate with the US on resisting and rolling back Iranian influence and subversion in Iraq. The King was particularly adamant on this point, and it was echoed by the senior princes as well. Al-Jubeir recalled the King's frequent exhortations to the US to attack Iran and so put an end to its nuclear weapons program. "He told you to cut off the head of the snake," he recalled to the Charge', adding that working with the US to roll back Iranian influence in Iraq is a strategic priority for the King and his government.
4.(C) IRAN: King Hamad pointed to Iran as the source of much of the trouble in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He argued forcefully for taking action to terminate their nuclear program, by whatever means necessary. "That program must be stopped," he said. "The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it." King Hamad added that in light of these regional developments, Bahrain was working to strengthen GCC coordination and its relations with allies and international organizations.
Either Walt, Mearsheimer, Lynch, Chas Freeman, and their ilk don't know much about the Middle East, or they're ignoring what they do know in order to push their own foreign policy wishful thinking as objective analysis. Which is fine - everyone gets to have an agenda - but now can we at least dispense with the aggravating hagiographies to their vaunted neutrality and expertise? Because apparently their wrongheaded assumptions are influencing policymakers, and - predictably - that's not going well.
A Good Start, As Swiss Voters Decide That Foreigners Convicted Of Crimes Will Be Deported
From The Washington Post:
Swiss voters approve measure to deport foreigners convicted of crimes
By Edward Cody
November 28, 2010
PARIS - Switzerland voted in a referendum Sunday to automatically expel foreigners convicted of crimes ranging from murder to false claims for unemployment insurance.
The measure, which was approved by 53 percent of those voting, highlighted a growing unease with the number of immigrants in Western Europe who arrive from poor countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East to take advantage of the continent's peace, prosperity and generous social protections [and, as Muslims, to undo the Infidel lands from within]
The European Union's border patrol force, Frontex, earlier this month deployed international armed guards along a stretch of the Greek-Turkish border that had become a major entry point for illegal Afghan, Iraqi, Iranian and North African immigrants. But the richest European countries already have large populations of legal and illegal immigrants, more than 20 percent in Switzerland's case.
In another signal of the souring atmosphere, France, host to a large immigrant population that has helped give it Western Europe's largest Muslim community, toughened its laws recently to make it easier to expel illegal arrivals and strip French nationality from recently naturalized citizens convicted of killing a policeman or government official.
Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the E.U.'s executive commission in Brussels, warned Saturday that Europe is facing a "populist surge" in reaction to the influx of foreigners, who often are blamed - justly or unjustly - for rising crime rates and growing burdens on social benefits such as health insurance and education.
"I see societies that have a great tradition of openness and democracy where a nationalist, chauvinist, xenophobic, sometimes even a very, very aggressive populism surge is swelling," he added in an interview with the French radio station Europe 1. "Populism is the manipulation of fears with irrational arguments, but it works sometimes."
Barroso, who is Portuguese, did not single out Switzerland, which does not belong to the European Union. But the Swiss referendum was closely watched in the E.U., which has a number of agreements with Bern on the treatment of immigrants.
The referendum was held on an initiative from the ultranationalist Swiss People's Party, which also sponsored a vote last year that banned the construction of minarets beside mosques. Both proposals were opposed by elected officials in the federal government in Bern but were endorsed by a majority of those voting in the binding referendums.
The context of the referendum was clearly indicated by posters used by the Swiss People's Party to encourage a favorable vote. One showed a man wearing a beard and asked, "Faruk B. is a murderer. Should he be allowed to become a Swiss citizen?"
Under the terms of the referendum, the government is required to expel foreigners convicted of serious crimes after they complete their jail terms and to forbid them from returning for as long as 20 years.
Mohamed Mohamud, The Would-Be Bomber In Oregon Was Deeply Affected By His Parents Divorce
But when he became upset, he did what Mohammad "Mike" Hawash did when he became, similarly, at loose ends about the meaninglessness of American life, and re-discovered what for him was that Old-Time Religiion, Islam, and did what many millions of Muslims -- for Muslims too, just like us, can become melancholic, depressed, unhappy with their lot, but unlike us, they have a prefabricated grid, or rather prism, through which to view the Universe and which allows them to always and everywhere Blame The Infidel.
So it hardly matters that the would-be mass murderer in Portland may or may not have had some difficulty adjusting to life. All immigrants do, and so, for that matter, do those of us who are not immigrants.
In a piece posted years ago, about Moussaoui, the man who was apparently missing on September 11, 2001 and would if participating have caused the Muslim novemdectet to become an even twenty:
Fitzgerald: Mitigating Moussaoui
The list of mitigating circumstances that apparently resulted in Moussaoui receiving a life sentence instead of the death penalty reads like a parody of everything that is most sentimental and silly in modern psychiatry (Karl Kraus: "Psychiatry is the disease for which it is supposed to be the cure").
What the prosecution should have done, but apparently felt it could not do, or possibly simply did not ever even think of doing, was to preempt both the "insanity" and the "on account of he's deprived" excuses, and set out clearly why Moussaoui did what he did with clear and uninhibited discussion of that book he was clutching -- the Qur'an -- and with the Qur'an, the Hadith. And with the Hadith, the figure of Muhammad, uswa hasana and al-insan al-kamil.
Did the psychiatrist Dr. Vogelsang (one more Upper-West-Side name out of Lillian Ross's comical period-piece "Vertical and Horizontal") give any sign of having studied the belief-system of Islam, without which no conceivable judgment can be made about the sanity, or lack of it, of a devout Muslim such as Moussaoui?
Why didn't the Prosecution rebut the argument of the defense lawyer that Moussaoui is "crazy" because of his wretched childhood, etc. by pointing out that a large number of other people -- such as Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawihiri and Mohammed Atta -- were children of great privilege in the case of the first two, and middle-class in the case of the third, and that furthermore studies of terrorists had found them to be far above average, in their societies, in the amount of education they had received, and in the degree of their economic wellbeing?
Lay it all out. Explain that yes, Moussaoui, like a few billion other people, may have had a "deprived" childhood. Yes, he was quick to sense any slight, and yes, he was quick to resent his treatment at the hands of Infidels, because, as a Muslim (one who grew to be more and more faithful and observant) he knew that Muslims should be on top -- not equal, but on top. Infidels lording it over him, or other Muslims, in France, were contra naturam, against the natural and just and right order of things, islamically speaking. The prosecutors should have explained that Moussaoui viewed the world through the prism of Islam, and the texts he read, the society he inhabited (both real, and virtual), taught him to blame, always and everywhere, Infidels.
Eventually this is going to have to be done. Eventually this is going to be unavoidable, if the United States and other Infidel countries are going to continue to use the criminal justice system as it is, and to continue to rely on untrained and inexpert juries who are the products of their age -- with all its sentimentality about mitigating circumstances because, you see, the blame for your behavior can always, always, be found in some part of your background, so that blame can be passed onto one's upbringing, say.
But this misses the point. There are always people who have had unhappy childhoods, unhappy adolescences, unhappy adulthoods. As noted many times before, we who are Infidels may lose status, a job, a spouse, a girlfriend or boyfriend, or suffer setbacks or perceived slights. Did not Moussaoui think he was entitled to more than he received? Yet his inshallah-fatalism prevented him from simply working hard and doing what he could to overcome, as his brother did, that same background. Why? The answer is that he took Islam far more seriously, was far more of a deep believer, than his brother.
Infidels have a thousand things to blame. They can blame their parents -- just as many on that Infidel jury wanted to blame, for Moussaoui, his treatment by his parents. They can blame their aggressive or unpleasant siblings, their ungrateful children, the System, Racism, The Man, Amerikkka, Kapitalism, Fate, the stars, their cholesterol level, their serotonin level, anything and everything at all -- even, just perhaps, themselves. But Muslim Believers have one thing to blame always at the ready. And to the extent that one takes that belief-system seriously, it is likely that one will, viewing the universe through the grid, the prism, of Islam, blame the Infidel. And that is exactly what Moussaoui did.
Unless this is going to be understood by the usual "experts" -- including those complacent psychiatrists who appear not to have thought it necessary for them to study the doctrines of Islam and what might follow and has naturally followed from them (starting with the perceived behavior of Muslims conducting Jihad over 1350 years, wherever they were able to conduct it because of local conditions or circumstances) -- then there will be more miscarriages, with justice stillborn, the result of those thanatotropic bromides and thalidomides, sentimentality and ignorance.
And what do we conclude? We have two possible conclusions:
1) Moussaoui was and is simply following the tenets of Islam faithfully, and putting into practice the requirement that at least some Muslims must engage in Jihad (in order that others may, temporarily, be relieved of the duty).
2) Moussaoui became depressed, as so many of us do, all over the Infidel world as well, but in the case of Muslims, the problem is that that depression, or any kind of emotional setback, can lead to blaming the Infidel. Viewing the universe through the prism of Islam makes one almost automatically ready to blame that Infidel, and to seek revenge.
Those are the two possible explanations.
And either one has immense implications for the Muslim presence all over Europe and North America. For the sake of the legal and social order and the physical wellbeing of the resident Infidels who created those societies and have no desire to see them islamized, these implications need to be faced.
For "Moussaoui" read "Mohamed Mohamud" and perform a bare minimum of mutatis-mutandissing, and there you have it.