These are all the Blogs posted on Saturday, 28, 2009.
Saturday, 28 March 2009
Special investigation: The horrifying campaign of abuse, lies and threats that ruined the career of a headteacher - and her school
Last week in the High Court, Surrey County Council was ordered to pay headmistress Erica Connor more than £400,000 compensation for having failed to support her. It is only now the full background to her case can be revealed.
Using statements of evidence and interviews, it is possible to piece together the extraordinary story of the downfall of New Monument school.
If there is one overriding lesson, it is that officialdom, anxious to maintain political correctness, will often kowtow to radical Islam - even if it does not reflect the wishes of the wider Muslim community.
New Monument is a maintained community school - state-run, with no religious affiliation. Mrs Connor arrived in 1994 and became headmistress four years later. Some 80 per cent of her pupils were Muslim, many with parents illiterate in English. Half were on the special needs register.
But under Mrs Connor the school showed the second most improved SATs results in the country. In 2001, she was invited to Downing Street in recognition of this.
However, these achievements began to unravel in February 2003 when Paul Martin was appointed as a governor - even though he did not have any children at the school.
Mr Martin, 57, who ran a clothes shop in the town, (so now we know. But what sort of clothes? Abayas and hijabs?) is a white Muslim convert (as is his Austrian-born wife) and, at the time, headed the education committee at the mosque. Look at his face, he's cold and fanatical. Photo from Daily Mail.
Within months he proposed that Sofia Syed, another Muslim, join the school's board. Mumtaz Saleem, 41, was also recruited as a Local Education Authority (LEA) nominated governor. Martin and Saleem and, to a much lesser extent, Syed, were to be the architects of the disaster which followed.
Mr Martin wrote to the headmistress alleging that a Muslim teacher and governor called Rosie Mir had said to him: 'I tell the children to throw the Koran away.'
He claimed she said that the holy book should be read only when the children were older and could understand it. He also alleged she said pupils were told they must leave their culture at home and become 'nice little English children'.
Mr Martin went on to make an equally explosive allegation against another female staff member. He said Stephanie Roche had asked: 'Why do they (children) have to go to the mosque? They can't even read English. It's so pointless.'
Mrs Connor took the precaution of informing the LEA's director of education, warning that the situation was becoming 'extremely difficult'.
Tellingly, for the first time, she also used the phrase 'hidden agenda' in connection with Mr Martin's behaviour. She said she heard from parents that proposals had been mooted for New Monument to become an Islamic school.
The LEA remained silent. But Mr Martin made himself busy, complaining to the authority that he felt 'traumatised' and bullied by the other governors.
A memorandum was duly produced by an LEA official, in which the following observation was made about Martin: 'He takes everything literally and ... one wonders if he does not have a hidden agenda. He is very active in the local mosque and has the potential to do harm to the school's reputation.'
On June 9, 2004, another governors' meeting took place. Again, Mr Martin and Mr Saleem harangued the headmistress on the need for a closer relationship between Islam and the school.
Eventually, Mrs Connor walked out, 'clearly upset' by the aggressive questioning.
Afterwards, one of the governors wrote complaining to the chair of governors, Mark Tackley-Goodman, about Mr Saleem's hostile attitude and his 'highly insulting' observation
Mr Tackley-Goodman . . . emailed an LEA official to complain about Mr Martin and Mr Saleem, adding: 'I believe the time is well overdue for the LEA to step in and investigate.'
But the LEA was not prepared to defend its staff. In fact, one of the senior LEA officials expressed the view that Mr Martin was 'quite reasonable' and not a trouble-maker . . :'
Mrs Connor told the officer that parents were reporting meetings in the community that were organised to, in her words, 'get me out'. She was also upset by an extraordinary ' cultural awareness' training session that had been organised by Mrs Syed for the school's staff.
The session trainers produced a special diagram setting out ideal Islamic attitudes in contrast to perceived English values - which contained things such as drinking, drug-taking and extra-marital affairs.
Once again, the chairman of governors asked the LEA to step in. This time the authority agreed to conduct a review.
Such was the atmosphere, that the Muslim teacher Ms Mir said Mr Martin's allegations had made her ' emotionally ill' and had driven her to question-her choice of career. In November-the LEA review delivered its report, having conducted 58 interviews, including one with the imam of the mosque.
It found there was 'no evidence of deliberate racism or religious bias within the governing body or the school staff'. It added: 'The head teacher has established a strong and enthusiastic team of staff who are committed to doing their best for pupils.'
But the strain caused by Martin and Saleem's provocative behaviour was beginning to tell. The clerk to the governors quit.
In her resignation letter she said: 'The last few meetings have been monopolised by Paul Martin and Mumtaz [Saleem] ... An inordinate amount of time (was) spent on discussions concerning the mosque/school relationship.'
Mr Tackley-Goodman, the chairman of the governors, went on the counter-attack yet again. In early 2005 he wrote to the LEA saying: 'The LEA are now casting those who have tried to resolve the anti-Christian and anti-secular antics of a small group of individuals, as the parties at fault.'
In May, mediation between the warring factions took place. Two days later the governing body voted to remove Mr Martin. Mrs Connor, the head, said that after that meeting Mr Saleem shouted at her that they were going to get her. If she thought she would 'get away with this' she was wrong.
As part of routine changes among the governors, Mr Tackley-Goodman stepped aside as chairman, though he continued to play an active role on the board.
June 14 was to prove a disastrous day for the school. There was another explosive meeting, during which Mr Tackley-Goodman claimed to have been threatened by Mr Saleem. He said Saleem also made a 'scandalous allegation of racism' against the headmistress.
The same day, Mr Martin delivered his coup de grace - a complaint to the LEA that the school was, to use that dread phrase, institutionally racist.
Among his criticisms was that while the cover of a school document showed seven children, only one of whom was brown-skinned.
That afternoon, outside the school gates, rumours circulated of the existence of a petition of no confidence in the headmistress. Graffiti offensive to Mrs Connor was daubed on school walls.
That same evening, senior LEA officers were advised by the grandly-titled County Council Complaints Management and the Equalities Coordinator that they should launch an independent investigation into the complaints against the school and its headmistress. If not, they faced 'the risk of a referral to the Commission of Racial Equality'.
The following day the rumoured petition appeared. It was headed with the words: 'We the undersigned, parents of children at New Monument School, no longer have confidence in Erica Connor to educate our children in a way that respects and values our faith, culture and heritage.'
Attached to the petition were two pages describing the headmistress as 'racist and Islamophobic'. She had, the petition alleged, transferred resources from 'brown Muslim children to white special needs children'. Scandalously, the document also drew attention to her part- Jewish background.
Presiding over the High Court case, Deputy Judge John Leighton Williams would later observe this petition was 'a highly offensive document, itself racist'. Yet here it was, being distributed in the playground and to local homes. Mrs Connor said some parents told her they had been intimidated into signing it, and apologised to her.
But by now there was real fear among school staff. Police issued them with personal attack alarms and advised them not to stay at school after 3pm. On one occasion, Mrs Connor said she had been surrounded by youths after leaving the school, but an ex-pupil intervened to help her. She said the experience was 'very threatening'.
Mrs Connor was now not only fearful for her safety, but deeply demoralised.
One LEA-appointed consultant warned the authority the staff as a body were 'deeply offended to be called racist.' The consultant added: 'There is a real atmosphere of fear and suspicion ... Everyone is careful of what they say and who they speak to. This seems to be permeating into the classroom.'
Yet astonishingly, far from supporting the headmistress and her loyal staff, the authority assured Mr Martin they were setting up an investigation into his concerns. Two people would conduct it, one of them from a Muslim background, as he had demanded.
Mr Tackley-Goodman tried one last time to get the LEA engaged.
He told the authority: 'The school has time and time again been held up as a model of racial and cultural integration and I would like to believe the LEA will now take positive action to reinforce these messages in the community.
'Unfortunately I fear that so-called political correctness will prevent a fair-minded and balanced approach.'
A 'joint communication' purportedly from 'Woking Asian/Muslim organisations' suggested in schools where there is 'not a majority, but a significant Muslim presence' there should be changes. These included an act of collective Islamic worship, recruitment of Islamic teachers, 'adjustment of the National Curriculum', facilities for Friday prayers and a staff dress code.
The final straw came when the LEA report into allegations of racism was delivered. Investigators admitted they could not 'find sufficient evidence to uphold the complaint of racism by the school or the local authority'.
But it added: 'We believe the headmistress, along with some other governors, indirectly displayed Islamophobia through ignorance and fear of losing control.'
Indirect Islamophobia? Delivering his verdict last week, Judge Williams was scathing. He said: 'I have to say that many of the views they (the investigators) have expressed are not views I would have reached on the evidence before me.'
At the time, Mrs Connor was simply 'horrified' - and 28 of her staff signed a letter to the LEA damning the report. They said they felt 'let down' by the authority.
On September 21, 2005, the deputy head teacher was certified unfit for work due to stress. Six days later Mrs Connor followed suit. Neither has been back to New Monument. Mrs Connor has not taught again.
The school's subsequent Ofsted report stated, thanks to plunging morale among teachers, 'standards are low and pupils' achievement inadequate'.
Mr Martin still lives in the area, but is no longer involved with the school. He declined to speak to the Mail. Mr Saleem has moved out of the area and could not be contacted. Nor could Mrs Syed.
Their legacy, though, is only too apparent. New Monument, once a beacon for community cohesion and educational excellence, has been sacrificed on the altar of religious bigotry.
Posted on 03/28/2009 4:20 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 28 March 2009
Bushfire disaster could have been a 'forest jihad'
The Melbourne Herald Sun has an article about the recent forest fires in Australia which caused a terrible loss of life and homes, and the continuing possibility that some of those fires started deliberately may have been incidents of "Forest Jihad"
Queensland academic Dr Mervyn Bendle said police had been too hasty in dismissing a possible link, despite a stream of chatter on terrorist websites urging supporters to conduct a pyro-terror attack
In a 6000-word essay in the latest conservative journal National Observer, Dr Bendle argues terrorist experts overseas are investigating deliberately-lit forest fires in Israel, Spain, Greece and Estonia.
Dr Bendle writes that the bushfire disaster happened just days after Abdul Nacer Benbrika and six others were sentenced for being members of a terrorist organisation.
Weeks earlier, the Israeli army had bombed the Gaza strip.
When claims of a possible terrorist involvement in the Victorian fires were initially raised, police dismissed the suggestion. They said the Muslim community donated blood to the Red Cross, and the Preston mosque sent material to fire victims.
But Dr Bendle said the statement was issued while many of the fires were still out of control.
"Some of the fires had not even broken out, among them many that were successfully lit," he said.
"Access to many of the fire crime scenes was not possible, well before the final death toll had been estimated and certainly well before any significant investigations could be undertaken to actually determine the causes of the fires and the identities of the arsonists."
The full essay is here.
Posted on 03/28/2009 6:40 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 28 March 2009
Brother Tariq Still Unwelcome in U.S.
From the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report:
U.S media has been reporting on the Obama administration decision to continue the Bush-era decision to bar Muslim Brotherhood leader Tariq Ramadan from entering the U.S. According to a Reuters report:
A lawyer arguing on behalf of the Obama administration on Tuesday echoed Bush administration policies to back a decision to deny one of Europe’s leading Muslim intellectuals entry to the United States. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Jones told a U.S. federal appeals court panel that they should uphold a decision to bar Swiss Muslim Tariq Ramadan, an Oxford University professor and a vocal critic of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, from entering the United States. Civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, had hoped Tuesday’s arguments would see a reversal of Bush administration policies that they argue exclude foreign scholars from visiting the United States due to their political beliefs. Consular decisions are not subject to litigation,” Jones told the three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, broadly arguing the courts have no power to examine visa denials. The ACLU argued against a judge’s ruling in late 2007 that upheld Ramadan’s ban….” During arguments, Jones said if the courts questioned a consular officer’s decision to bar Ramadan, then that would leave the U.S. government in a “quagmire” with others seeking such reversals.When questioned how high up the chain of command Ramadan’s case had been considered by the new Obama administration, Jones only said it was “upwards in the State Department.”
As a previous post reported, the U.S. revoked Ramadan’s visas several times since 2004, initially giving no reasons but later saying it was based on a provision of the Patriot Act, and eventually stating that he supported terrorism based on 1,670 Swiss Francs ($1,946) the gave to the Swiss Association de Secours Palestinien (ASP) , an organization designated as terrorist by U.S for its support of Hamas. Although Ramadan made the donations before the group was designated. a U.S. District Court judge has ruled that the government had shown that it excluded Ramadan for legitimate reasons, stating that the law requires Ramadan to provide “clear and convincing evidence” that he no knowledge of ASP’s illegal activities.
Ramadan is an extremely important figure within the Global Muslim Brotherhood network, perhaps best described as an independent power base with sufficient stature as the son of Said Ramadan, and the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood to challenge positions taken by important Brotherhood leaders. His statements and writings have been extensively analyzed and he has been accused by critics of promoting anti-Semitism and fundamentalism, albeit by subtle means. On the other hand, his supporters promote him as as example of an Islamic reformer who is in the forefront of developing a “Euro Islam.”
Posted on 03/28/2009 8:52 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 28 March 2009
Glitches and clitches
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown would be advised to embrace the nickname “one-eyed Scottish idiot”. There are so many worse things he could be called, and Jeremy Clarkson’s childish insult renders Brown harmless. In truth he is dangerous – dangerous and dull.
Gordon Brown is dishonest, profligate, totalitarian, dictatorial and supremely arrogant. He is a coward too, dictating only to those who, like Geert Wilders, will not fight back with violence. On his economic misrule I have little to add to Daniel Hannan’s excoriation in this video clip. Hannan fails to mention – three minutes was not long enough – Brown’s craven appeasement of Muslims and profound ignorance of the dangers of Islam.
Brown’s dullness, mistaken for prudence and wisdom, masks his failings as a politician and a human being. Here is an example, from an interview in this week’s Spectator:
The most important thing in a year like 2009 — we tend to think of the financial crisis that we’re going through as an event. It is, in fact, the process of global change — a global financial system, global flows of people, global flows of capital, global sourcing of goods. And any nation faced with a bewildering amount of change — opportunity, yes, but also insecurity — needs a sense of national purpose. People need to feel that the country that they’re living in has a clear idea of what it’s becoming and what it needs to become for the future.
These are not the clichés of management speak that you can laugh at, nor are they the hilarious “clitches” of the linguistically inept. Brown’s language is too dull even to be funny. His words suck the air out of the room, leaving the reader depressed rather than angry.
Is Gordon Brown the worst Prime Minister the UK has ever had?
Posted on 03/28/2009 8:41 AM by Mary Jackson
Saturday, 28 March 2009
The beaconicities have been going out all over England, assuming the recent jargon-busting initiative (oops!) has worked. The Local Government Association's list of 200 problemasticities has just cascaded all over the Spectator's Dot Wordsworth, and she is nonplussed:
My husband shook his head in a sorrowful, dismissive fashion and said: ‘You’ve lived a very sheltered life.’ All I had done was to ask what cascading meant in the sense that the Local Government Association wanted to ban. Anyone would have thought I’d asked him the meaning of rimming or some such word with which if one lacked familiarity it would be better not to make an acquaintance.
Is that the Pacific Rim or the General Rim?
I had been perusing the LGA’s list of 200 items of jargon we should do without. Some are dreary management-speak: blue-skies thinking, challenge (meaning ‘problem’), or synergies. Some are politicians’ clichés: menu of options, revenue stream, going forward. But some I simply could not fathom. These include conditionality, coterminosity, place shaping, and cascading. These words have meanings but no apparent applicability to the contexts in which they are used.
I came across a publication from the Institute of Local Government Studies called ‘Strategic Service Partnership and Boundary-Spanning Behaviour: A Study of Multiple, Cascading Policy Windows’. It was ‘a thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of Doctor of Philiosphy’ [sic]. I trust this was attained.
Cascading policy windows sound dangerous, all spurting jets and broken glass. But the only meaning of cascading (apart from the literal) that had caught the eye of the OED by 1989 was a metaphor used to describe relegation of old buses by stages to successively less exacting uses.
I know that jargon can be everyday language for those engaged in specialised tasks. To a wheelwright, the nave, felloes, strakes and box are current coin. But wheelwrights do not impose council tax and use it to print impenetrable ideology.
I am not alone in boggling at the lexicon of socio-management. One example of fashionable bureaucratic cliché at the moment, across the piece, died before birth as a metaphor. Despite its popularity, it is often misinterpreted as a figure from skiing — across the piste. Oddly enough it replaces an equally obscure metaphor, also from America, across the board, which has nothing to do with chess, but comes from combination betting on horse races, where the odds would be displayed on a board.
I wish the LGA luck, but I fear they will have no more success in weaning bureaucrats on to sensible language than parents have had in persuading teenagers not to wear their jeans hanging round their thighs.
Posted on 03/28/2009 9:00 AM by Mary Jackson
Saturday, 28 March 2009
What if there's nothing new?
For the second time this week I'm going to quote Ecclesiastes. It's probably another sign of grumpiness. I've already "remembered my Creator" now I'm past "the days of my youth", and now I'm going to quote the old chestnut (well, there are no new chestnuts): "There is nothing new under the Sun." Let's have the full quotation, while we're about it:
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
This is true of human nature, but it's rubbish when it comes to technology. What about the i-Phone? That's pretty new, isn't it? And the Wii? Got you there, Mr Preacher Man. All such gadgets may be vanity and vexation of spirit, but they are new.
But suppose there really isn't anything new? The Spectator's Rory Sutherland ponders on this, being too old to Remember his Creator and too young to die:
The strangest thing happened to me the other day. I went into a branch of PC World and found nothing to buy.
I have left PC World empty-handed before, but only through an act of will. Occasionally I would steel myself not to buy anything before I went in, treating the trip as a test of my resolve, rather as Gandhi shared his bed with young women to test his self-control. This time it was different. I simply could not see anything left to want.
Usually, we technophiles are obsessed with what’s coming next. Faster, smaller, lighter, thinner. Yet, for all our neophilia, the fact remains that to enjoy 95 per cent of the benefits of the technological revolution you need own no more than the following: 1) a fairly basic mobile phone with a dependable battery and tolerably large keys; 2) a half-decent wifi-enabled laptop; 3) a home broadband connection; 4) some kind of digital television along with a painless means of recording it; 5) a simple digital camera; 6) sat-nav; 7) a credit card.
If you already have number seven you can probably buy the other six for around £1,000.
I might add the iPod or the Wii to this list. And, in a few years’ time I shall surely be adding the electronic book. But that may be all. Which raises an interesting possibility — what if there is no ‘next big thing’? Progress is uneven, after all. In the 120-year history of the car, the momentous advances all happened fairly early on: for all the refinements of the last 80 years, the gap between travelling on foot and riding in a Model-T Ford is far wider than the gap between the Model-T Ford and a modern saloon.
Posted on 03/28/2009 11:30 AM by Mary Jackson
Saturday, 28 March 2009
A Judgment That Should Be Enforced
The personnel of the American Embassy in Teheran who were held, in an act of intolerable androlepsy, by Iranian "revolutionaries," were prevented from winning money damages by the intervention of the American government. That same American government has in other, similar cases prevented the recovery either by its own citizens who have been seized and held themselves, or by the relatives of those have been killed, by Arab or Iranian terrorists, aided by Arab states or by Iran. Again and again cases are tried, judgments are reached, sums demanded are upheld, and then the American government manages to prevent, on national security grounds, or some other grounds, the executing of the judgment. This makes no sense. It is important for the state backers of terrorists to be punished, and since no moral punishment is possible, the only thing that counts is to take away their money. Iran's assets in this country were impounded at the time the Shah's government fell. Arab governments, and institutions, also have money and property that can be seized for the purposes of pyaing a judgment. It's a useful tool. It will have effect. It should be used, and the government should not be working against the just demands of its own citizens, and continuing to protect Muslim states that promote terrorist acts.
One does not know if the American government will step in to prevent the judgment just reached in the latest case from being executed, and twhether it will yet again take the side of Hezbollah, as it has, in similar cases, already taken the side of Hamas, and the PLO, and the Islamic Republic of iran.
Here's the case:
US judge orders Iran to pay $25M for Hamas killing
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge on Friday ordered Iran to pay $25 million plus interest to the family of Israeli soldier Nachshon Wachsman, who was kidnapped and executed by Hamas in 1994.
Wachsman was a 19-year-old U.S. citizen and corporal in the Israeli Defense Forces when he was taken by four members of Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the United States. His abduction damaged Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations at the time, as he pleaded on videotape for his life.
Wachsman's mother and six brothers filed the lawsuit in 2006 against Iran and its ministry of information and security, saying Tehran was responsible for the death because it provided training and support to Hamas. Iran has refused to respond to the lawsuit, resulting in a default judgment in favor of Wachsman's family.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina awarded $5 million to Wachsman's mother and $2.5 million to each brother for their emotional distress, and $5 million to Wachsman's estate for his potential lost earnings and the pain and suffering he endured for six days while he was held hostage before being executed. The court also ruled that Iran should pay 6 percent annual interest from the date of Wachsman's murder nearly 15 years ago.
It's unclear if the family will get any of the money, said Michael Jacobson, a former senior adviser in the Treasury Department's office of terrorism and financial intelligence.
"It's been historically pretty difficult to collect against those types of cases," said Jacobson, now a senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. But he noted that the courts could seize any assets of Iranian entities in the United States to help pay a judgment.
Wachsman was abducted by four members of Hamas on October 9, 1994, as he waited on the side of a public street near the central Israeli city of Lod for a ride to visit a friend. The kidnappers wore black hats and yarmulkes as disguises that allowed them to lure Wachsman into their rented van, which had Israeli license plates.
The abductors blindfolded and bound Wachsman, then took him to a safe house in Bir Nabala, an Arab village just north of Jerusalem, where they videotaped him with his identification card and Israeli army-issued M-16 rifle. They demanded the release of the jailed Hamas leader and 200 other Muslim fundamentalist prisoners by Oct. 14, 1994, in exchange for Wachsman's life.
On video, Wachsman urged Israel to meet the kidnappers' demands. "If not, they will kill me," he said. "I ask you to do all you can so I get out of here alive."
The kidnapping increased tensions between Israel and Palestine, with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin cutting off peace negotiations and telling Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat that he was holding him personally responsible for the soldier's safe return.
Israeli security forces captured one of the abductors, who told them where Wachsman was being held. An Israeli commando unit raided the safe house shortly before the deadline on Oct. 14, and as they attempted to blow down heavily fortified doors with explosives, the kidnappers shot Wachsman. An Israeli soldier and all three remaining kidnappers were killed in an ensuing fire fight.
The court found that several of the Hamas members instrumental in Wachsman's abduction and execution either received terrorist training by Iran's Revolutionary Guard or were related to those who received the training.
"The financial support, tactical training and political direction that Iran provided to Hamas proximately caused the abduction and execution of Nachshon," Urbina concluded.
Wachsman was born in Jerusalem, but was a citizen of the United States. His mother is a U.S. citizen who moved from New York City to Israel in the late 1960s, and his brothers are all dual citizens of the United States and Israel.
The court says it can issue a ruling against Iran from Washington for several reasons, including that this case involves a hostage taking of a U.S. citizen; that the plaintiffs are U.S. citizens; and that similar conduct by U.S. agents within the United States could be subject to a similar lawsuit.
The Wachsman family details in court filings how they have struggled with his violent and public death, with his mother diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and on medication and one brother having attempted suicide three times in his grief.
The family also presented evidence that Wachsman, six months out of high school at the time of his death, planned to become a doctor one day. That led to a $3 million judgment for his lost earnings alone."
Posted on 03/28/2009 12:23 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 28 March 2009
A Musical Interlude: Night And Day (Carroll Gibbons Orch., voc. Al Bowlly)
Posted on 03/28/2009 12:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 28 March 2009
Bishop of Rochester to resign a decade early
This is a test of my faith, as to how much I trust in God that He will call Bishop Michael to do His work in the right place, which is not necessarily the place I would put him. I was hoping for him to succeed to one of the English archbishoprics in the fullness of time. If he is called to work abroad with persecuted Christians then I must pray for the right senior clergyman to now speak up in Britain.
From The Times
One of the Church of England's most outspoken bishops has announced that he is to resign a decade early to devote the rest of his life to work with Christians in Islamic areas.
The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the Church's only Asian bishop, who is just 59 and could have stayed at Rochester until his 70th birthday, intends to use his expertise as an Islamic scholar to work in Pakistan where he was born and in the Middle East to build bridges between Christians and Muslims.
A conservative evangelical, he will step down in September after nearly 15 years in the diocese.
Dr Michael Nazir-Ali was one of the favourites to succeed Dr George Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury. Opposition from some in Britain's Muslim community is thought to have been one factor that cost him the job.
In February last year he was placed under police protection after he and his family received death threats over his claim that parts of Britain had become “no-go areas” for non-Muslims.
The diocese said this morning: "Bishop Michael is hoping to work with a number of church leaders from areas where the church is under pressure, particularly in minority situations, who have asked him to assist them with education and training for their particular situation. Details of this arrangement are still being worked out."
In February he criticised "secularist agendas which marginalise all faith but seem especially hostile to Christianity."
He said: "The long withdrawing roar of the sea of faith seems to be getting louder: nurses cannot pray, the Creed cannot be recited at Christian services for fear of offending non-believers, Christian marriage counsellors are removed because they believe in Christian marriage and Christian adoption agencies cannot be publicly funded because they believe that children are best brought up in a family with a mother and father to look after them and provide appropriate role-models for their personal development and relationships."
Damian Thomson shares my regret that we lose him locally.
This is terrible news, because it means that the Anglican and Catholic Churches in this country will no longer have a single bishop who grasps the extent of the threat of Islam to civil society.
I used to disapprove of Bishop Nazir-Ali on various grounds. Never have I been more wrong. He is the only incumbent bishop who not only understands the true incompatibility of Sharia law with our ancient common law, but also follows in great detail the incremental changes to the public sector in order to accommodate Islamic religious demands.
Last year, he briefed me on the issue of Sharia-compliant financial products. I could have been listening to an investment banker, so intricate was his analysis of this fast-growing sector. It's no coincidence that the only Church of England bishop who understands the full implications of domestic Sharia is also the only one properly alarmed by it. Nor is it surprising that he finds it impossible to exercise his office under the leadership of an Archbishop of Canterbury who, shamefully, wishes to afford greater state recognition to Sharia.
. . . the Muslim Council of Britain will be pleased, that's for sure.
Wherever he is called to serve we should pray for him. His work will be valuable.
Posted on 03/28/2009 1:59 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 28 March 2009
Morocco Breaks Relations With Iran For Spreading Shi'ism
Posted on 03/28/2009 9:05 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 28 March 2009
The Shi'a Government Turns On The Sunnis In Iraq
From the LA Times:
Sons of Iraq leader Adel Mashadani arrested in Baghdad
Clashes break out after Mashadani is detained. The Sons of Iraq, considered a Sunni militia by Baghdad, helped the U.S. turn the tide against Al Qaeda in Iraq, but recently has been marginalized.
By Ned Parker and Usama Redha
March 28, 2009
Reporting from Baghdad — Iraqi forces arrested a Sunni paramilitary leader in Baghdad on Saturday, security officials said, in the latest sign of the marginalizing of the movement of former insurgents who helped turn the tide against Al Qaeda in Iraq.
Adel Mashadani, the head of the Sons of Iraq paramilitary group in the eastern Baghdad neighborhood of Fadhil, was detained by Iraqi military forces on suspicion of involvement in sectarian killings, police said.
Soon after his arrest, Mashadani's supporters clashed with the Iraqi security forces, and one policeman and three civilians were killed, police said. Mashadani's supporters also abducted an Iraqi lieutenant colonel and five Iraqi soldiers and promised to release them in exchange for their leader, the police said.
The U.S. military did not respond to requests for comment about the arrest.
Mashadani is a controversial figure who has often made inflammatory remarks about the Shiite-led Iraqi government, accusing its officials of links to Iran. But his arrest marked the potential silencing of another significant Sunni fighter and could poison his supporters' relations with the Americans, who had relied on them to control the poverty-stricken area of narrow streets and alleys where extremists once held sway.
"Those Americans betrayed us after we fought Al Qaeda," said Khalid Qaisi, one of Mashadani's deputies in Fadhil. "We warn the Americans that they should release Adel al Mashadani -- if they don't, Baghdad . . . will not like the situation."
In recent months, the Sons of Iraq movement has been hobbled by assassinations, arrests and the flight of others abroad fearing arrest. The Iraqi government has moved to disband the group, which they viewed as a Sunni militia hostile to the country's Shiite majority. The government has pledged to integrate the nearly 100,000 fighters into the Iraqi security forces and other jobs, but so far the process has moved slowly.
"If the process of integrating . . . members into the state security services and other institutions is frustrated, as it looks very much it will be, then this will leave a huge opportunity for Al Qaeda in Iraq, which has been down but never out, to get back into the game," said Joost Hiltermann, the deputy director of the Middle East program at the International Crisis Group think tank.
The Iraqi government took over the group's payroll from the Americans in November, but for the last month it has failed to pay the fighters in Baghdad. The U.S. military has described the failure as a bureaucratic glitch that the Iraqi government was fixing.
Although his government has gone after some Sunni fighters, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has also reached out to other Sons of Iraq leaders. At least one prominent leader has started advising the prime minister in an informal capacity, while others endorsed some of Maliki's candidates in January's provincial council elections.
Posted on 03/28/2009 9:18 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 28 March 2009
Shi'a-Sunni Clashes In Bahrain
See the NY Times story here. The rupture in diplomatic relations between Morocco and Iran -- because of Shi'a proselytizing among Moroccans and other North Africans, and the claim of Iran to three islands -- Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, Musa -- also claimed by the United Arab Emirates, and finally, the claim recently by an Iranian offiicial that Bahrain constituted the tenth province of Iran, are not mentioned in the article. But the condition of the Shi'a, who are discontent, and who constitute 70% of the population of Bahrain,at least is made clear.
Posted on 03/28/2009 10:05 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 28 March 2009
France Outlaws Aiding Illegal Immigrants
France forbids residents from aiding illegal immigrants
March 27, 2009
PARIS – It wasn't yet 8 a.m. when police knocked on Monique Pouille's door, searched her home and took her away – all because she recharged cellphones for illegal migrants.
FILE 2002 /The Associated Press
A refugee loads up
on food outside Calais City Hall. Humanitarian groups are planning to protest the law that forbids residents to aid illegal residents.
The 59-year-old volunteer with several groups in the Calais region of northern France was put behind bars and interrogated for three hours.
The French government forbids aiding illegal migrants and sets quotas for arrests of those who do as it tries to control growing clandestine immigration. This year's target: 5,000 arrests.
Authorities contend the measure is aimed at those who profit from those in France illegally. Humanitarian associations and others point to a concerted effort to harass volunteers who provide a lifeline, or a simple kindness, to illegal immigrants.
The Immigration Ministry, created when President Nicolas Sarkozy took office in 2007, proudly makes public its yearly expulsion quota – the 2008 goal of 26,000 expulsions went far beyond to 29,796 – but, until now, there had been no talk of quotas for those who help those in the country illegally.
Humanitarian associations plan demonstrations in major cities April 8. A measure to modify the wording of the article on assistance is to be debated April 30.
"In France today there is a real climate of intimidation against those who help" illegal immigrants, said Catherine Coutelle, a Socialist lawmaker behind the bid to modify the law.
Up to 1,800 migrants hoping to sneak into Britain in trucks can be found in the Calais region. Volunteers try to ease their suffering.
"We feel that volunteers are being surveyed, tracked" to discourage working with illegal immigrants, said the Rev. Jean-Pierre Boutoille, a Catholic priest who has long helped migrants in Calais.
At the southern end of France, in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille, police descended on an Emmaus community Feb. 17 in search of illegal immigrants, a day after the arrest of one man without papers who had been given lodging there. An official from the organization was held for questioning, but no charges were filed.
Posted on 03/28/2009 10:30 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 28 March 2009
A Musical Interlude: If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight (McKinney's Cotton Pickers, voc. George Thomas)
Posted on 03/28/2009 11:19 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald