Monday, 31 October 2011
Swedish court bans niqab-wearing women

From the Swedish edition of The Local

Three women wearing head scarves completely shielding their faces were denied entry to a Gothenburg courtroom on Friday during the remand hearing of one of the suspects in the Röda Sten murder plot case.

”I am responsible for order in this court room and I feel I can't achieve that if I am unable to see the faces of the people present,” said district court judge Stefan Wikmark to Swedish TV4.

The three women were stopped as they were trying to enter the courtroom for the remand hearing 26-year-old Abdi Aziz Mahamud who is under suspicion for plotting the murder of Swedish artist Lars Vilks at an art exhibition in Gothenburg in September.  All three women were wearing niqabs covering them from head to toe.

One of the guards at the Gothenburg District Court prevented them from stepping into the court room, referring to the ban on face coverings, according to TV4's affiliate in Gothenburg.

The decision to refuse the women from entering the court room while wearing their traditional garb was taken by Wikmark during the remand negotiations.

At Friday's hearing the court ruled that Aziz Mahamud should remain in custody, pending trial.

Posted on 10/31/2011 5:37 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 31 October 2011
Tunisia's Jews 'discouraged' after Islamic party win

Some Jews are trying to be optimistic but the signs are not good. From AFP

LA GOULETTE, Tunisia — Gilles Jacob Lellouche, a member of Tunisia's small Jewish minority, shrugs as he contemplates the future under a government run by the Islamic party that swept the country's first free polls.

"We will wait and see," he said about fears that minority freedoms may be under threat. "The people have spoken, and they have chosen that (Islamist Ennahda) party," he told AFP. His left index finger still sports the mark of pride of Tunisians who voted in Sunday's historic polls -- a fading blue ink stain.

The businessman takes comfort in the fact that the Islamist party did not obtain an outright majority. "Tunisians are not ready to open the doors to a new dictatorship having just left behind another. But we have to be vigilant," he said.

Tunisia has one of the Arab world's largest Jewish minorities, estimated at 1,500 people out of a total population of more than 10 million. According to Dar el Dekra (House of Memory, in Arabic), an organisation for the preservation of the Jewish heritage in Tunisia, their presence dates back 2,000 years -- mainly on the island of Djerba in the Gulf of Gabes. They numbered in the tens of thousands until World War II, after which many left for Israel, established as a state in 1948, and France, the colonial power until 1956.

But in March, two months after the toppling of dictator Zine el Abidine Ben whom the West regarded as a bastion against Islamisation, a group of Muslim men assailed Jews outside the Tunis synagogue, the biggest among only a handful in the country. "Begone the Jews, the army of Mohammed is back!" they shouted.

The interim government condemned the attacks. The following month, the Israeli government made funding available to help Tunisian Jews move to Israel, citing "the worsening of ... society's attitude toward the Jewish community" since Ben Ali's ouster.

The rabbi of Tunis, Hain Bitan, told AFP: "We have lived here for hundreds of years, we have created a good life together. We are not afraid."

"The Jews are our friends," a Tunisian shopowner told AFP while giving directions to a Jewish old-age home in La Goulette, which is protected by police guards. . . Not all shared her (one elderly lady resident in the Jewish old age home) calm.

"Even the Arabs are worried," said a 30-something kosher butcher in the capital Tunis, who declined to give his name. "There is fear that Islam will be imposed ... women forced to walk around veiled. If there is even the slightest danger, the Jews will leave. We all have family elsewhere, in France, in Europe," said the butcher, wearing a Jewish skullcap and a full beard, sitting outside his small shop across the street from the synagogue -- just a few hundred metres from a large mosque. "My passport is ready, and I have set aside money for a ticket,"

Posted on 10/31/2011 4:01 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 31 October 2011
And How Many Would Meet With Your Approval? No More Than A Few Thousand.

World population hits 7 billion on Oct. 31, or thereabouts

Los Angeles Times -
Though it's impossible to say exactly when it will happen, demographers have chosen the date to mark the milestone. Humanity remains on a steep growth curve.


Posted on 10/31/2011 12:16 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 October 2011
Pre-Med Student Hoping To Work At Mayo Clinic Dies In Somalia

From The New York Times:

American Identified as Bomber in Attack on African Union in Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia — The voice in the recording sounds unmistakably familiar — the tenor, the colloquialisms — a boy who grew up in America.

The recording was a suicide message, posted online on Sunday by an Islamist militia aligned with Al Qaeda. The voice was said to be that of Abdisalan Hussein Ali, 22, who was born in Somalia but spent his formative years in Minneapolis.

His life appeared to have come full circle here on Saturday, when he is said to have blown himself up in an attack on African Union troops in Mogadishu. He would be the third American known to become a suicide bomber for Somalia’s Shabab rebels.

The Shabab said that Mr. Ali was one of two suicide bombers in the attack, which the militant group said killed scores of peacekeepers. The African Union has confirmed that it suffered casualties, but has not disclosed the number.

But as the Shabab have lost power and support in Somalia in recent months, the battle has turned into a war of words as much as weapons, and the claim of an American suicide bomber packs a powerful punch.

Omar Jamal, a Somali diplomat at the United Nations, said that Mr. Ali was one of the bombers. Mr. Ali’s friends and family listened to the recording, Mr. Jamal said, “and they all say that it is him.”

A spokesman for the American Embassy in Nairobi said the United States had “seen reports” that one of the bombers was an American citizen, and was investigating them.

Mr. Ali was known by the F.B.I. to be one of an estimated 30 Americans who have joined the Shabab, at least 20 of whom came from the Somali community in Minneapolis.

He had been an ambitious pre-med student at the University of Minnesota, hoping for an internship at the Mayo Clinic, before he disappeared in 2008. The audio recording, in which the speaker exhorts Westerners to join the fight, appears to reflect those qualities.

“Don’t just sit around, you know, and be, you know, a couch potato and just like, just chill all day,” the voice on the recording says. “Today jihad is what is most important. It’s not important that you become a doctor, or some sort of engineer.”

For Mr. Ali, life began in war and seems to have ended that way. He was only a few months old when his family fled the strife in Somalia in a makeshift boat, landing first at a Kenyan refugee camp, his mother told The New York Times in a 2009 interview. The family, with 12 children, arrived in Seattle in 2000 and then moved to Minneapolis.

Minneapolis has embraced generations of refugees from around the world, and Mr. Ali’s high school, Thomas Alva Edison High in northeast Minneapolis, calls itself an “International World School,” offering open houses to prospective students in Spanish; Hmong, which is spoken in Southeast Asia; and Somali.

During high school, he sold sneakers out of his locker to make money to help support his family. He lifted weights, and his friends called him “Bullethead.” He was elected president of the school’s Somali Student Association, and he later became a caseworker at a prestigious law firm. At the University of Minnesota, he majored in chemistry and held a part-time job as a security guard at the management school there.

“He was a highly motivated kid,” said a fellow student, an upperclassman who became his mentor. “He wanted to change lives.”

Why and when he turned to Islamic militancy is unclear.

A friend of Mr. Ali’s, who attended middle school and then college with him, said they were part of a tight-knit group of Somali-Americans who grew up together and would talk about Somalia and debate politics.

“There was a desire in all of us, that our parents always talk about, the great Somalia,” the friend said, who did not want to be identified for fear of being questioned by the F.B.I. Mr. Ali was not her first Somali friend to join the Shabab, she said, nor the first to die as a member of the group.

She described Mr. Ali as “very outgoing.”

“We used to call him a womanizer,” she said. “He was always in with the ladies. But then all that changed.”

In Arabic class, he started sitting in the back, not talking to anyone. “But then again, you’re not going to look at him and say his personality changed, he’s going to get radical and leave the country,” she said. “In college that’s when you find out who you are, so I didn’t think much of it then.”

One night in 2008, he was wrongly accused of robbing a Subway sandwich shop on campus. Friends said the experience left a mark on him long after the charges were dropped.

In November 2008, he disappeared, along with two other Somali-Americans. “For an unknown reason the family thinks that” Mr. Ali “may have got on a plane and went somewhere,” a Minneapolis Police Department missing persons report says.

The Shabab, which controlled most of southern Somalia by the end of last year but have since lost ground, have posted videos on YouTube aimed at encouraging young Somali-Americans to come here. Many have heeded the call.

In October 2008, Shirwa Ahmed, also from Minneapolis, blew himself up in one of a string of Shabab attacks in northern Somalia. In May of this year, Farah Mohamed Beledi, 27, of St. Paul, tried to attack a government checkpoint in Mogadishu but was killed by African Union troops before he could detonate his explosives.

Another American, from Washington State, was reported to have been part of a suicide squad that attacked an African Union base in Mogadishu in 2009, killing more than 15 peacekeepers, but his identity has not been confirmed. And this month, two Somali-American women from Minnesota were convicted of aiding the Shabab.

However, many Somali-Americans have returned, not to fight, but to help rebuild the country, including the current prime minister and his predecessor.

Speaking of Saturday’s suicide attack, the weak American-backed transitional government expressed sorrow over what it said was not just a loss of life, but of a vital human resource.

“It’s tragic, because we were hoping for this young man to come back and take part in the rebuilding of the country,” said Suldan A. Farahsed, a government spokesman. “We needed young people like that.”

Mr. Ali kept in touch with his old life back in the United States by telephone and Facebook. His Facebook page shows him wearing a skullcap and wielding a baseball bat.

The friend says that Mr. Ali and a mutual friend last exchanged Facebook messages three weeks ago, but that the mutual friend stopped contacting Mr. Ali because “he said things that made her uncomfortable.”

Two years ago, he told a friend in Minneapolis that he would never attack the United States.

“Why would I do that?” the friend recalled Mr. Ali saying. “My mom could be walking down the street.”

Posted on 10/30/2011 11:32 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 October 2011
Yochanan Visser: The West In A State Of Denial


West in state of denial

Western irrationally in respect to Middle East a recipe for tyranny and war
Yochanan Visser

In her book “The World Turned Upside Down” British journalist Melanie Philips wrote the following:

“When truth and justice are being turned upside down the outcome is tyranny and war."

The book describes how in today's world, reason and truth have totally been replaced by irrationality and lies. The theme of Phillips' book is more relevant than ever, especially where it comes to the current crisis in the Middle East.

The way the world community deals with the Palestinian UN bid to obtain a state without a peace agreement with Israel is only one of the prime examples of Phillip’s theme, but there are many more.

Let's take for example the way the Lebanese Maronite patriarch Bechara Rai was treated recently, when he issued a warning about the eventual demise of the regime of the Syrian dictator el-Assad.

Rai warned that Assad’s fall could lead to more bloodshed and a civil war in Syria. That scenario is understandably of great concern for the Syrian-Christian community, as Christians have become the first victims of the upheaval that has taken place in countries like Iraq and Egypt.

Rai's warning, which clearly wasn't intended to defend Assad, resulted in an angry statement by the French minister of foreign affairs. The US government however, went a step further and cancelled all appointments between government officials and Rai during his visit to the United States.

The crisis in Egypt exploded some weeks ago when Copts took to the streets and demanded an end to Muslim violence, which has significantly increased since Mubarak's fall. The demonstrations were violently suppressed by the Egyptian army, leaving scores of Copts dead.


In a reaction, the Obama administration typically issued an even-handed statement in which it hilariously urged the Copts to “restrain” themselves.

While in Berlin recently, Missing Peace Researcher Sharon Shaked interviewed a Coptic woman who lives in Cairo. The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, warned of the upcoming elections and what will happen after them.


Copts, army clash in Cairo (Photo: AFP)
Copts, army clash in Cairo (Photo: AFP)


She also described the current situation of the Copts in Egypt. She spoke of increasing attacks against the Coptic community and an increasing atmosphere of Islamism which is also seen in the more religious style of clothing on the streets of Cairo.

In addition she said that some 100,000 Copts have left the country since the beginning of the recent revolution and that it is not safe for Copts to stay there. Her statements indicate a possible repeat of the events in which the Jewish Egyptian community was obliterated during the first years of the state of Israel and the Six Day War in 1967.

Other evidence of the state of denial with which Western politicians view current events in the Middle East was given by the foreign affairs editor of Pajamas Media, Professor Barry Rubin. He published an article about the Libyan visit by US senators McCain, Dirk, Graham and Marco Rubio. The four senators later wrote an op-ed about their visit that was published in the Wall Street Journal.

In the article they pretended that everything was all right in Libya. They even called the situation "a testament to the commitment of the Transitional National Council (TNC) to democracy, transparency and the rule of law."


Law and order in Libya? (Photo: EPA)
Law and order in Libya? (Photo: EPA)


They wrote their article at a moment when a bloody civil war was still raging with multiple cases of torture and execution of prisoners reported. The capture of Gaddafi last week and his subsequent execution contradicts the senators' rosy picture about democracy and the rule of law on every account.

Rubin compared the senators to naïve tourists. After all, the countless eyewitness reports regarding the real situation in Libya show that peace and democracy are largely still a pipedream.

A third example of the Western tendency to deny reality in the Middle East occurred during the recent OSCE conference which took place in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The Dutch MP and Middle East expert, Wim Kortenhoeven, delivered a speech at the conference in which he warned against Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s Middle East policies.


Kortenhoeven’s accurate description of the Turkish policy towards Cyprus, Israel and the crisis in the Middle East was ridiculed by his fellow MPs from the Dutch Christian Democratic Party and was met by wall-to-wall dismissal by other participants in the conference.


In an e-mail to Missing Peace Kortenhoeven later wrote that members of the Dutch delegation even applauded when the Turkish delegation accused Israel of war crimes.


This incident, which was reported by the Israeli press, was completely ignored by the Dutch media.


The most recent example of the Western state of denial about the direction the Middle East is heading is the reaction to the results of the Tunisian election.


The New York Times even used the word "moderate" to describe the winning Islamist Ennahda party. As if Ennahda is not an ordinary branch of the Muslim Brotherhood led by an extremist who was denied entry into the United States.


Islamic party fans in Tunisia (Photo: EPA)
Islamic party fans in Tunisia (Photo: EPA)


Sheikh Rachid Ghannouchi is a staunch supporter of the Iranian Islamic revolution and has ties with Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad. He is also known for his repeated calls for the destruction of Israel and for war against the US.


Honest approach needed

Back to Melanie Philips’ "World upside down." She wrote that the Mideast conflict will only be solved when the free world starts using a realistic and honest approach towards the aggressors and the real victim.


As long as this kind of reason is missing, the chances of war will only increase. The same applies to the Western approach regarding the Arab “Spring”.


As long as the West keeps denying the facts on the ground and will not take convincing action to secure the processes towards democracy in the Middle East, this "spring" will turn into a "winter" comparable to the Cold War and the tyranny and fascism the world experienced during the Second World War.


The writer is the director of Missing Peace

Posted on 10/30/2011 10:59 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 October 2011
New Al-Shabab message urges terrorist attacks against Canada

From the National Post

TORONTO — The al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab released an audiotape Sunday it said was a message from a Somali-American suicide bomber who struck an African Union base in Mogadishu this weekend, killing 10.

The English-language message specifically called for terrorist attacks in Canada and said it was a duty for Muslims to fight for Islam, urging listeners not to “just sit around and be a couch potato and just chill all day.”

The message appears to be the latest attempt by Al-Shabab to incite Western youths. Canadian authorities are investigating as many as 20 Canadians who are suspected of having joined the Islamist extremist group.

On March 29, police arrested a man at Pearson airport as he was allegedly leaving Canada to join Al-Shabab. Mohamed Hassan Hersi, 25, faces two terrorism-related charges but was released on bail.

A prominent Somali-Canadian leader told a U.S. congressional committee in Washington earlier this year that Canada was not doing enough to tackle the poisonous ideology of extremists.Canada outlawed Al-Shabab last year due to concerns it was recruiting young Somali-Canadians. In one high-profile case, six youths left Toronto in 2009. An extremist website later reported one of them, a University of Toronto student, had been killed in battle.

Posted on 10/30/2011 6:02 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 30 October 2011
A Cinematic Musical Interlude: Stormy Weather (Lena Horne)

Watch, and listen to, Lena Horne right here.

Posted on 10/30/2011 5:08 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 October 2011
Banana in Sodomy Case

Speaking of sodomy, as we were, and of bananas, as were weren't ...


Posted on 10/30/2011 4:56 PM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 30 October 2011
In Libya, Retribution And Rivalries and Old Hatreds Have Their Expected Effect

From Reuters:

Cycle of revenge hangs over Libya's fragile peace

Sun, Oct 30 2011

By Maria Golovnina

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya is plunging into a cycle of tribal violence and retribution which, if left unchecked, could undermine the authority of its new leaders, spur new forms of insurgency and throw the country back into chaos.

More than a week after the death of Muammar Gaddafi, anger is on the boil again with what many Libyans see as the inability of the interim government to rein in its brigades and stop a wave of revenge attacks.

Retribution is a byproduct of wars the world over, but Libya is awash with guns and still roamed by gangs of Gaddafi loyalists, meaning that an orgy of revenge could easily shatter its fragile peace and derail attempts to rebuild.

Analysts say the only way to avert the scenario is to win people's hearts and minds by disarming regional militias, providing strong guarantees of security, and moving tribal disputes into a legal sphere.

Easier said than done.

As post-Gaddafi euphoria fades, trouble already appears to be brewing in parts of Libya where disgruntled and armed civilians are growing increasingly suspicious of the National Transitional Council and its ability to bring law and order.

"I've seen a lot of revolutions. This is not a revolution, this is chaos," said Ali Mohamed, a 57-year-old former soldier in Gaddafi's army.

"It's all about personal acts of revenge. If there is no stability and security, people will turn against the council."

Observers say that, for now, Gaddafi loyalists have no hope of reinstalling the dictator's regime, with his armed forces crushed and most of his family either in exile or dead.

Yet in many cities in Libya's central and western parts -- which, unlike the more rebellious east, have been in Gaddafi's fold until recently -- the atmosphere is bitter.

In one town 120 km (75 miles) southwest of Tripoli, locals said several people had been killed in the past week in raids by former rebel brigades from other tribes seeking revenge against men they believed had fought on Gaddafi's side.

Southeast of Tripoli, in the former Gaddafi stronghold of Bani Walid, tribesmen from the powerful Warfalla tribe said their men were already trying to organise themselves into an insurgent movement.

In Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has urged the NTC to investigate dozens of decaying bodies discovered shortly after he was killed.

On Sunday, the rights group accused militias from the coastal city of Misrata of "terrorising" displaced residents of the nearby town of Tawarga, in retribution for the townspeople's alleged collaboration in atrocities committed by Gaddafi forces.

"Revenge against the people from Tawarga, whatever the accusations against them, undermines the goal of the Libyan revolution," said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East and North Africa director.

These early signs may be part of the inevitable chaos that follows the end of any conflict. Yet they are adding fuel to pro-Gaddafi feelings at a time when people are waiting for the NTC to show signs of strong leadership.

"With so many different and potentially destabilising actors emerging, the NTC's challenge of bringing about security is immense," Henry Wilkinson, associate director of the Janusian risk advisory group, wrote in a report.

"There is ... a clear risk that unless the NTC can make tangible progress, a cycle of instability may take hold."

The NTC has ordered its forces to refrain from looting and revenge attacks, and has played down any risks of insurgency.

"We are in complete harmony. ... If there has been anything outside the law, there will be an investigation," said Deputy Defence Minister Fawzi Abu Katif.

"We have been following some (pro-Gaddafi) groups. We are working ... to discover how big they are. But after Gaddafi's death most of them have been dissolved. The death of Gaddafi changes everything. We don't think they constitute any threat."


The cycle of retribution appears already to have started. The town of al Jemel, a scattering of sandy homes in the palm-studded desert southwest of Tripoli, is one example.

Residents said brigades from faraway Misrata had appeared at their doorstep a week ago, breaking into people's homes and looking for Gaddafi loyalists.

Dozens of young men have disappeared and four have been killed in detention, said Al Koni Salem Mohammed, the uncle of one of those killed.

Speaking at a mourning ceremony on the edge of town, he shook with grief as he showed the death certificate listing "electric shocks" as a cause of death. He said the body had been dumped outside the detention centre with its tongue and genitals cut off.

"After all this, our children and the children of our children will never be with this revolution," he said, bursting into tears and shaking his fist, as other men in traditional dress sat in the shade of a tent set up for the mourning period.

"If this does not stop there will be a reaction. Any build-up of pressure leads to an explosion ... There is a lot of anger. Doesn't the government have an army to handle this?"

Another man, Hussein Silian, said his son had also been detained and killed by brigades because he had served in Gaddafi's army, adding there should have been a trial.

"There is nowhere we can go," he said. "I wish someone could disarm these gangs, they are turning into criminals."

Worryingly, the fault lines are tribal.

In this town, locals blamed men from Misrata, whereas in Bani Walid, tribesmen singled out brigades from Zawiya as the ones behind revenge attacks.

In places like Bani Walid, where undefeated Gaddafi forces still launch attacks on NTC positions, commanders are worried about the rise of a new insurgency.

"Gaddafi forces are not fighting, they are escaping," said Omar al Mukhtar, commander of anti-Gaddafi forces in northern Bani Walid. "But we are concerned they are regrouping again in the north of Mali and could strike again."

In a sign that Gaddafi loyalists are reorganising, about 100 people from Libya's southern desert demonstrated in Tripoli on Saturday, saying their villages were under constant attack from pro-Gaddafi mercenaries.

"They are the men of Gaddafi and they are attacking villages, killing people, stealing cars," said Mohammed Hassan, from the town of Mausq where Gaddafi's fugitive son Saif al-Islam was last believed to be hiding. "They don't recognise the new flag."


Although Gaddafi is dead, for many people he is still a rallying point, his importance in their eyes now reinforced by his status as a "martyr".

Examples abound. In al Jemel, men mourning their dead quietly recited the motto of Gaddafi's rule: "Allah, Muammar, Libya, nothing else."

A pro-Gaddafi website declared this week: "We promise you, martyred leader, that we will follow your path."

In Bani Walid, entire neighbourhoods were covered with graffiti praising the deposed leader.

With NATO planning to end its Libya operations this week, global powers are concerned that these early bouts of violence could develop into a full-blown insurgency, and will be watching the NTC's actions closely over coming weeks.

Libya has never had a functioning political system, with Gaddafi's Green Book of personal political ramblings serving as a de facto constitution, and with legal matters often settled through tribal negotiations rather than court.

Bringing order will be hard. From dusty outposts such as al Jemel, the central authority appears distant, making the NTC's task of enforcing a new political system all the more daunting.

Analysts believe disarming regional militias and setting up

a fully-fledged national army -- including trained servicemen from the previous regime -- are key to avoiding unrest and protecting oil installations against sabotage.

"We are building our army, and the revolutionaries will be guarding borders and oil and water installations," said the defence ministry's Katif.

"The army is right now empty of soldiers. ... Now we are building a new army with the principles of the revolution."

Posted on 10/30/2011 4:50 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 October 2011

Chippy self-made men used to boast of having attended the "University of Life" -- as if academic and practical ability were mutually exclusive. Now that the world and his wife can go to university, or "Uni" as we must call it, the boundary is blurring between those institutions and life at its most mundane. Specifically, universities are turning into supermarkets. From The Spectator:

In fact this cartoon is quaintly reassuring: its author has at least heard of Cambridge's small but perfectly formed  Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic department, and assumes the reader has too. Peter Jones's  article in the same magazine is more realistic in its reflection of today's Uni-Marts.

Though I retired early from Newcastle University in 1997, I have access to the university library as an associate member and use it fairly regularly. The staff and porters are excellent, and the classical section still serves my humble purposes well enough. But for how much longer?

It was over Christmas 2007 that the culture began to change, and the library to go the way of the rest of the university. Management ‘rebranded’ it, and in January 2008 one walked in to find something called ‘YourSpace’, which offered students places where they could (i) work in comfort, (ii) work with friends, or (iii) chat.

I was not aware that the purpose of a university library was to act as a social networking area, but this move fitted into a wider trend.


A few years later, TV screens sprang up throughout the building. They informed us of the weather, how to contact victim support, where we could get help if we were in financial difficulties, that all the computers were working and we must carry our smartcard at all times — all quite irrelevant to the work of a library. Then management put up a notice informing users that the library strove constantly to ‘deliver excellent customer service’, ‘embrace teamwork’, ‘celebrate success and share praise’ (I am not joking). When management tries to ingratiate itself, you know you are in trouble. Occasionally I asked staff and porters what praise they had shared that day. They fell about laughing.

Soon after that, signs were put up announcing that we would no longer take books out and return them, but visit ‘CHECK-IN’ and ‘CHECK-OUT’, apparently because foreign students did not understand ‘take out’ and ‘return’. Staff told me they understood check-in and check-out even less. And last year came what I assumed was the nadir. At the start of the academic year, a table was placed at the entrance to the library covered with notepads, pens, sweets and ‘gonks’. I enquired what they were for. ‘To show the friendly face of the library’ was the answer.

The place, when busy, now often feels like a cross between an airport, Disney World, a social services drop-in centre and a primary school. Management no longer sees it as a centre of learning, a place set apart to provide the student with resources for study and research, but rather as a transient, exploitable ‘space’, an extension of the full-on uni experience, with added books, to be moulded to whatever ‘lifestyle’ the management thinks students find attractive or will demand. But the worst was yet to come.

This summer, management started removing books. The reasoning was explained in a loop heralding ‘Phase 1 of the great transformation’ that played endlessly on a TV at the library exit: ‘Welcome back to your refurbished Robinson Library. You asked, we listened... We have moved loads of shelving to make room for more study spaces. We’ve shifted crate-loads of the less-used stock to provide more light, more room and a more comfortable space to study in. And created a greater variety of study areas. Choose the one that best suits your work-style!’ And the final picture — empty chairs with the words ‘Now that Phase 1 is all done, we are just waiting for you to fill the empty spaces!’ Phase 2, it promises for 2012, will continue this noble mission.

If we thought gonk-world was a one-off, this nauseating hymn of self-praise removed all doubt. Forget, if you can, the paradox that a library should create more space by removing books. Instead, ask ‘which books?’ The answer laid bare the full extent of the management’s trahison des clercs: it was celebrating its triumph in removing, from arts and sciences alike, the complete runs of virtually all the academic journals, the central research tool for academics in the humanities and the goal of all committed students. And management was actually boasting about it! They should be grovelling in shame.


I have no doubt that in a few years’ time students will demand ‘music’ in the library, and management, striving constantly to ‘deliver excellent customer service’, will provide it, ‘to suit your work-style’. And doubtless ‘share the praise’. Even very good students — and there are plenty of those — will find it impossible to get £27,000 worth of anything resembling serious education out of such a ‘uni experience’.

Posted on 10/30/2011 9:10 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 30 October 2011
Serbia arrests 17 over US embassy attack

From Sky News Australia

Serbian police have arrested 17 people on suspicion of links to an Islamic extremist who opened fire on the US embassy in Sarajevo.

'Police detained 17 persons suspected of being members of the radical Wahhabi movement and having close links with Mevlid Jasarevic,' the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

The suspected radical Islamist Jasarevic, a Serbian national from Novi Pazar, was wounded and arrested after opening fire on Friday on the US embassy in Sarajevo. A police guard was wounded in the attack. Among those arrested, 12 were from three towns in Sandzak with large Muslim communities. One was a Bosnian citizen. Police searched about 18 locations and seized as many computers, 1800 CDs, about 50 SMS cards, a video camera, audio and video tapes as well as books and other literature advocating ideas of the movement, the statement said.

'Police will determine whether there is a need to detain more people,' Serbian police chief Milorad Veljovic said.

In Bosnia, police and prosecutors also launched a search, the Minister of Security Sadik Ahmetovic told reporters. Bosnia's public prosecutor Dubravko Campara said the probe would be conducted in cooperation with Serbian authorities and the US embassy in Sarajevo. Jasarevic, hospitalised after being shot by police, will be detained once he is released from Sarajevo hospital 'in a day or two', Campara said.

Posted on 10/30/2011 4:28 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 30 October 2011
Maher: Gadhafi sodomy video suggests homosexuality has become sexuality in Islamic culture

Bill Maher is no Islamic scholar, or even a Pat Condell, but he does dare to criticize Islamic cultures.  Of course, Michelle Goldberg and Cornel West are quick to steer the conversation away from Islam and towards tu quoque and patriarchy.  But this conversation, in a nationwide forum, could not have taken place even a couple of years ago.  From the Daily Caller:

Posted on 10/30/2011 12:13 AM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Saturday, 29 October 2011
Score-settling after Libya's war casts shadow

By Karin Laub for AP:

TAWERGHA, Libya (AP) — This town once loyal to Moammar Gadhafi is no more: its 25,000 residents have fled, fearing retribution from vengeful victors from the neighboring city of Misrata who have burned and ransacked homes, crossed out Tawergha's name on road signs and vowed not to let anyone return.

Tawergha, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Misrata, is just one casualty of score-settling following Libya's 8-month civil war that ended with Gadhafi's Oct. 20 capture and death.

The country's interim leaders have appealed for restraint, but seem unable to control revolutionary forces whose recent vigilante acts, including the suspected killing of Gadhafi while in custody, have begun to tarnish their heroic image abroad.

American guards at Guantanamo dared touch detainees' Qur'ans with their filthy kuffar hands, and deadly riots broke out all over Dar al-Islam.  Libyans beat, torture, rape, and execute Gadhaffi, videotaping the festivities, and this has "begun to tarnish their heroic image abroad".  It seems a tad asymmetrical, but then Muslims are never held responsible for their own actions.

A Western diplomat said Libya's new leaders need to come out more strongly against the culture of revenge, and hold the former fighters accountable for their actions.

Failure to resolve such conflicts and bring regime supporters, including in the badly damaged loyalist towns of Sirte and Bani Walid, into the fold could destabilize Libya and hamper the attempted transition to democracy, the diplomat warned, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive subject matter.

However, people in Misrata, which was heavily damaged during the war, are in no mood for reconciliation. The port city of 300,000 rose up early against Gadhafi and came under a weekslong siege by Gadhafi fighters, many from Tawergha which served as a staging ground for the loyalists. Nearly 1,300 Misrata residents were killed and thousands wounded in the fighting, city officials say.

Misrata officials have accused the Tawerghans, some of them descendants of African slaves, of particular brutality during the war, including alleged acts of rape and looting. During the siege, Gadhafi fighters sniped at residents from roof tops and shelled the city indiscriminately.

All of which is almost surely true.  And of course the "rebels" from Misrata committed just as many atrocities, but since they won the war (with the help of the EU and US), there will be no reciprocal investigation.

Ibrahim Beitelmal, spokesman for Misrata's military council, said he believes Tawergha should be wiped off the map, but that the final decision is up to the national leadership. "If it was my decision, I would want to see Tawergha gone. It should not exist," said Beitelmal, whose 19-year-old son was killed in the fighting on Tripoli Street.

Misrata fighters captured Tawergha in mid-August, just days before the fall of the capital Tripoli dealt a fatal blow to the Gadhafi regime and forced the dictator into hiding in his hometown of Sirte.

Most of Tawergha's residents fled as the Misrata brigades approached, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Human Rights Watch said in a report Sunday that more than 100 civilians stayed in their homes, but that the militias quickly forced them out.

For the past two months, Tawergha has been a ghost town, with access roads blocked by earthen mounds and other obstacles. Road signs pointing to Tawergha have been painted over. Misrata brigades have scribbled slogans on the walls of abandoned homes.

"The Tawergha are the rats of Gadhafi," read graffiti on one facade, using Gadhafi's derogatory name for his opponents. The fallen regime had tried to ensure Tawergha's loyalty with promises of jobs and investment, and while some of the homes there were ramshackle, the town also boasted a modern school, medical clinic and rows of new apartment buildings.

A tour of Tawergha on Friday showed widespread vandalism. The school, clinic, small shops and modern apartments had been ransacked, with some rooms burned and contents of closets strewn on the ground.

Human Rights Watch said its team saw militias and individuals from Misrata set 12 homes on fire during a three-day period in early October. On Oct. 25, the team saw trucks drive out of Tawergha with furniture and carpets that had apparently been looted, and that Misrata fighters who claimed to be guarding the town did not intervene.

Two Misrata fighters driving through Tawergha on Friday said the town's residents are no longer welcome. "They will have to find a different place and build houses there," said 22-year-old Naji Akhlaf, standing outside a small grocery that had been largely emptied out, with cartons of juice strewn across the entrance.

"This is the best solution so we can relax and get on with our lives," he said.

No-one in the West has criticised this forced exodus, and no-one will.  Israel will be severely reprimanded however for building houses for Israelis in Israeli territory.

Tawerghans also lived in other parts of Libya, including in Misrata where a rundown apartment complex that once housed hundreds of them is to be razed. City officials say the complex is also home to non-Tawerghans and is being torn down because it's unsanitary and unsafe. Tawerghans have fled those apartments and their neighbors said they won't allow them back.

Human Rights Watch, citing interviews with dozens of Tawerghans, said they gave credible accounts of arbitrary arrests and beatings of detainees by Misrata militias, including descriptions of two deaths in custody.

About 10,000 Tawerghans have reached two camps on the outskirts of the eastern city of Benghazi, until recently the seat of the National Transitional Council, and U.N. officials say that number is growing. Thousands more have sought refuge near Tripoli, Tarhouna and in remote areas of the south.

An NTC-funded aid group, LibAid, is providing food and other supplies to some of the displaced, said Mohammed el-Sweii, an official in the group. El-Sweii said guards have been stationed at the camps to prevent acts of revenge.

A similar conflict has been brewing between the town of Zintan in Libya's western mountain range and the nomadic Mushashya tribe which settled nearby after being awarded land by Gadhafi several decades ago.

The Mushashya sided with the dictator in the civil war and fled their homes with retreating Gadhafi forces in the summer. Zintan officials said at the time they would not let the Mushashya return to their homes which, as in Tawergha, had been ransacked and in some cases burned. The U.N. said some 8,700 Mushashya have been reported displaced.

Aid officials believe it's unlikely the Tawergha and Mushashya will be able to return home anytime soon because emotions are still running high.

Tens of thousands who fled Bani Walid and Sirte, the two last Gadhafi bastions to fight the revolutionary forces during the war, likely stand a better chance, once their towns have been rendered habitable again. The two towns are home to the Warfala, Libya's largest tribe with some 1 million members, or one-sixth of the population.

Many former rebels are also Warfala and the sheer size of the tribe would likely protect its members against retribution.

Libya's interim leader, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, has called for restraint, specifically mentioning the Misrata-Tawergha and Zintan-Mushashya conflicts in a news conference earlier this month. He promised that those guilty of abuses during the war would eventually be punished by the authorities, though it's unclear how quickly a justice system could be set up.

"Taking the lives of people in an illegal manner will set back our revolution," he warned at the time. "The law should be the decisive factor and ... we must believe God [erratum: "Allah"] will dispense justice in the appropriate manner."

Posted on 10/29/2011 11:38 PM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Saturday, 29 October 2011
Saudi prince backs cleric's bounty offer for Israeli soldier

This story shows that: One, the deal to release Gilad Shalit for over 1,000 violent jihadis will only guarantee the kidnapping of more Gilad Shalits, and two, our trusted Saudi friends are not our friends and not to be trusted.  By Ali Abdelatti and Sami Abouti for Reuters:

DUBAI (Reuters) - A member of the Saudi royal family has pledged $900,000 to a bounty offered by a prominent cleric to any Palestinian who kidnaps an Israeli soldier, according to comments aired on a private TV station Saturday.
Prince Khaled bin Talal, a brother of Saudi billionnaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, told Daleel television over the phone that he decided to contribute to Awad al-Qarni's bounty after the Saudi cleric received death threats for offering $100,000 to capture an Israeli soldier.
"Dr Awad al-Qarni said he was offering $100,000 to only take a prisoner but they responded by offering $1 million to kill Awad al-Qarni," Prince Khaled said, according to a recording of the call published on Daleel's website.
"I tell Dr. Awad al-Qarni, 'I will be in solidarity with you and pay the remaining $900,000 to take an Israeli soldier prisoner so that other prisoners can be freed,'" he added.
Qarni said on his Facebook page this week that he made the offer in response to a similar reward promised by an Israeli family for anyone who catches the person who killed one of its members in 1998, following a prisoner exchange agreement earlier this month of more than 1,000 Palestinians for the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

So, the offer to kidnap a soldier standing at a bus stop is morally equivalent to an offer to catch a murderer?  Only to those who are morally adrift, morally corrupt, morally vacuous.
Qarni is well known in Saudi Arabia for his outspoken views but is not part of the official clerical establishment.
From this, we're supposed to infer that the Saudi official clerical establishment is moderate and tolerant in comparison.  It is not.


Posted on 10/29/2011 11:15 PM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Saturday, 29 October 2011
Al-Maliki Furious With Sunnis For Wanting More Autonomy

From the Miami Herald:

Iraq's al-Maliki lashes out at Sunni province seeking autonomy

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Saturday lashed out at politicians seeking regional status for the mostly Sunni Salahuddin province, charging that they were seeking a "safe house for Baathists," the banned party of the late dictator Saddam Hussein.

Al-Maliki spoke two days after the provincial council in Tikrit, Hussein's birthplace, voted 20-0, with eight members not present, to declare Salahuddin a region of Iraq. The province, north of Baghdad, would be only the second designated region in Iraq, after Kurdistan, but other Sunni provinces may follow suit.

Officials said the vote was intended to boost the province's share of federal revenues and to protest the domination of al-Maliki's Shiite-led central government. Critics say it will weaken the fabric of the multi-ethnic Iraqi state, for under the Iraqi constitution, a declared region takes control over its own internal security.

Salahuddin officials said the timing of the vote was spurred by the recent firing of more than 100 professors at Tikrit University for alleged Baath Party connections, and by a nationwide roundup of Baathists in the course of this week.

Al-Maliki told the semi-official Iraqiya TV that Salahuddin doesn't have the right to declare autonomy but has to follow the constitutional procedure of submitting a request to the Council of Ministers, which he heads, and the Iraqi national parliament, as well as other steps.

In actual fact, article 119 of the Iraqi constitution requires only that a referendum be held in a province following a request for regional status by one-third of the members of the provincial council, or one-tenth of the population.

Al-Maliki, who reportedly had a shouting match with Saleh Mutlak, his Sunni deputy, earlier this week over the issue of declaring regions, Saturday cast the provincial council's move as Baathist-instigated. "The Baathists want to make Salahuddin province a safe house for them, but it will not happen because of the awareness of the people of Salahuddin," he told Iraqiya.

The acting head of the Salahuddin council, Sabhan Mulla Chyad, rejected al-Maliki's assertions and said the national parliament plays no role in a province's move to regional status. The outcome depends solely on the results of the referendum, set up by the Independent High Electoral Commission, said Chyad, who voiced confidence that regional status will revive the province's fortunes.

"If anyone saw the demonstrations and celebrations of the residents of the cities in Salahuddin province, he would be sure the decision of the provincial council to change the province into a region will be approved," Chyad said. As for becoming a safe house for Baathists, Chyad told McClatchy: "The people would not allow such a thing to happen."

Al-Maliki's political opponents said the arrests of members of the disbanded Baath Party, which ruled Iraq for more than four decades, were illegal and done mostly without any judicial approval.

Al-Maliki told Iraqiya that 615 Baathists, mostly from the central and southern provinces, had been arrested and that Iraqi security forces had followed all required legal procedures, including obtaining warrants of arrest. Al-Maliki said there was a great deal of information and evidence linking those arrested to activities that threatened the safety and security of the state.

"We should differentiate between the Baathists who work in the governmental establishments, harmonized with the political process and fought terror, and the Saddamist Baathists who cooperate with al-Qaida and work to collapse the political process," al-Maliki said.


Posted on 10/29/2011 9:09 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 29 October 2011
A Musical Interlude: What's The Use? (Chester Gaylord)

Listen here.

Posted on 10/29/2011 8:16 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 29 October 2011
Amir Taheri: The Extreme Violence Of Muslim Upheavals

From alasharqalawsat:

In politics a mistake is worse than a crime


Amir Taheri was born in Ahvaz, southwest Iran, and educated in Tehran, London and Paris. He was Executive Editor-in-Chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran (1972-79). In 1980-84, he was Middle East Editor for the Sunday Times. In 1984-92, he served as member of the Executive Board of the International Press Institute (IPI). Between 1980 and 2004, he was a contributor to the International Herald Tribune. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the New York Times, the London Times, the French magazine Politique Internationale, and the German weekly Focus. Between 1989 and 2005, he was editorial writer for the German daily Die Welt. Taheri has published 11 books, some of which have been translated into 20 languages. He has been a columnist for Asharq Alawsat since 1987. Taheri's latest book "The Persian Night" is published by Encounter Books in London and New York.
Previous Articles
Iran: Candidacy of non-candidates for a non-election
Lebanon: As Syria retreats, Iran advances
Russia wants a share in post-Assad Syria
Palestine: A Cause or a State?
Iran and Syria: Different but the same
Tehran: The Imamate and its illusions
In Iran: An electoral charade heats up
Ten years later: 9/11 and the freedom agenda
The Mullahs’ fear of tsunami
Libya: Pandora's box or coffer of jewels?

I know that by saying this I could be accused of sentimentalism or worse. However, watching the video of Muammar Gaddafi’s final moments, I was struck by a sense of unease. I own no television and seldom watch the box. So, I might have escaped the disturbing footage. Unfortunately, I had to see it because the BBC wanted to interview me about the colonel’s end.[did he also see the sodomizing with what appears to be a bayonet?]

But, why the unease?

Never a fan of the colonel, I was among the first to discover the fraudulent nature of the persona he projected. (My first article criticising him appeared in October 1970.) Whenever I interviewed him, the encounter was anything but friendly. I was also among the first to support the Libyan uprising.

Nevertheless, seeing Gaddafi treated like a wounded dog, and shot, even though with a golden gun, made me uncomfortable. [it was the mob delight in his torture, not the simple gunshot at the end, that Taheri should have mentioned]

As those images darkened my mood, other images, this time photos in newspapers and magazines, from a more distant past came to haunt me.

Some showed corpses of lofty leaders who met sordid ends. Others were mug shots of the mighty crushed by the wheel of fortune.

Since all the images were those of Muslim rulers, it seemed as if Gaddafi’s fate, far from exceptional, followed a pattern established by decades of political violence.

There was the portrait of Nuqrachi Pasha, Egypt’s Prime Minister, murdered by the Muslim Brotherhood, along that of Imam Yahya of Yemen, another victim of the “brothers.”

On one page of the memory album were mug shots of Hosni al-Za’im, Syria’s first military dictator followed by that of Sami Hannawi, the man who had him murdered before being murdered in his turn.

On another page, Abdullah bin Hussein, the founding emir of Transjordan, murdered in a mosque.

The albums and there are the mutilated corpses of Iraq’s young King Faisal and his uncle Abdul-Ilah along that of Prime Minister Nuri Said. And, what about the shattered corpse of Abdul Karim Qassem, the man who ordered the massacre? Next, we have the charred body of Abdul-Salam Arif al-Jumaili, the man responsible for Qassem’s murder.

The next images belong to Ibrahim al-Hamdi and Ahmad Al-Ghishmi two Yemeni presidents murdered in succession.

And, who could forget images of Anwar Sadat, the man who gave Egypt its only half-victory in 2000 years, or that of Algerian President Muhammad Boudiaf, gunned down like a prey in hunting season?

Back to Iraq, possibly the Arab country most stricken by violence, there is the image of Saddam Hussein, hung and left to dry.

The gallery of horror pictures is not confined to Arab lands.

Here is Turkey’s Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, dangling from the gallows. On the next page, is the bullet-ridden corpse of Amir Abbas Hoveyda, Iran’s longest serving Prime Minister. Then we have the charred corpses of Muhammad-Ali Rajai, the second President of the Islamic Republic, and his Prime Minister Muhammad-Javad Bahonar.

Next is the body of Hafiz-Allah Amin, Afghanistan’s Communist president, turned into a sieve with gunshots. At the crescendo of horror we have the corpse, emasculated and cut into pieces, of Muhammad Najib-Allah, the last Communist President of Afghanistan.

In this macabre picture gallery we also find the hanged body of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s Prime Minister followed by that of the man who ordered the hanging General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, who met his death when his aircraft exploded in mid-air.

The photographic morgue does not tell the whole story of politics in the Muslim world. Another chapter is filled with the narrative of exile: in the so-called Muslim world you are in power one day and in exile the next.

We see the Shah of Iran, driven out of home, knocking on every door for admission, and dying in Cairo, a broken man. More fortunate exiles could be found in Parisian cafes or Wimbledon villas, plotting a problematic return home.

Obviously, our pictorial morgue is full of both good and bad men, and , in some cases, monsters. Some of the victims deserved their fate, others did not. In every case, the end was an arbitrary one, defying reason, logic and a law, elements without which there is no civilisation.

The question is: couldn’t we find other mechanisms for change? [there is another question: what is it about Muslim peoples that makes them so aggressive and so violent, so hyserical and so conspiracy-ridden and so and not just when it is a case of ridding themselves of this or that ruler?]

Traditionally, the most frequently used methods were the poison administered by the harem favourite or the dagger driven deep by the assassin. Ottoman Sultans and Safavid Shahs had a habit of blinding their brothers to protect themselves, and seldom succeeded.

Gaddafi recognised no mechanism for change and allowed none to be shaped. When his choice was narrowed down to death or exile, he mocked the first and believed the second would remain available to the 11th hour. He was wrong on both counts.

Senegal’s President Abdullahi Wade and South African President Jacob Zuma tried to promote a transition under which the colonel would step aside and allow the formation of a transitional government including at least one of his sons. The self-styled “Supreme Guide” would have none of that.

Even a quick glance at the map of the so-called Muslim World shows that the most stable countries are the ones with established mechanisms for change. It is impossible to envisage a human society where the desire for change is absent at all times. Wise leaders try to turn change into their ally, lest it become their foe and, in the final analysis, their executioner.

Some like Syria’s Bashar al-Assad , Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Salih , Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir and Iran’s Ali Khamenehi refuse to understand that simple fact of political life.

Their refusal is worse than a crime; it is a mistake.


As noted above, the larger question is why are Muslim peoples so aggressive and so violent? The answer should  be clear, to all non-Muslims, but apparently not to those who still must defend Islam: that is, the Qur'an and Hadith and Sira are full of violence. Muhammad was a warrior, who took part in 78 military campaigns, 77 of them aggressive wars without any justification. Think of his raid on the inoffensive Jewish farmers of the Khaybar Oasis, returning from their fields, and completely unaware of Muhammad and his men, who came because Muhammad wanted their property, wanted their women. Look at all  the violence and aggression in the Hadith.

And look at the list that Amir Taheri provides. He does not tell you the whole story of what happened when some of these people were killed. He does not tell you how Colonel Qassem's body was shown on television. He does not tell you about how the skulls of Prince Feisal and his uncle Abdullah were kicked about Baghdad. He does not tell you that "strongman" Nuri es-Said was caught trying to escape, dressed as a woman, was killed, and then his naked corpse dragged behind a car through the streets of Baghdad, to the great delight of populace, who hit the corpse and proceeded to mutilate it in other ways.

Nor is Amir Taheri's list  complete. Think of the assassination, in 1960, of Jordan's Prime Minister Hazza Barakat Al-Majali. He was blown up by a bomb, along with eleven other people. . Or think of the assassination, at a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo in 1971, of Al-Majali's successor as Jordanian Prime Minister, Wasfi al-Tal, who was killed by four Black September assassins on the order of Yassir Arafat (revenging himself on King Hussein for suppressing the "Palestinians" in Jordan); one of his killers bent down to lap up his blood.

Think of how Saddam Hussein, scarcely in power, held a meeting of all of Iraq's political figures, possibly even a meeting of its Parliament, and with occasionaly crocodile tears flowing, read out a list of "traitors" who, as their names were called, were seized by armed men who took them from the room to their deaths -- and still Saddam, wiping the tears from his face, read another name, and another, and another. 

Think of the hanging of  Mahmoud Muhammad Taha, n the Sudan, not because he had lifted a finger against anyone, but merely because he wanted somehow to reform Islam.

Taheri, of course, is talking only about political leaders. Think about the violence of everyday life. Think of the pogroms against Jews, in Yemen, in Libya, in Iraq, in Syria, everywhere in the Muslim lands, until there were hardly any Jews left anywhere in those lands. Think about the pogroms against Christians, in present-day Iraq (without their protector, Saddam Hussein), in Egypt (when Hassan Al-Banna, Tariq Ramadan's grandfather, whipped up Cairene crowds against them, back in 1941), or when many others belong to his Muslim Brotherood whipped people up against the Copts, as has been happening steadily over many years, and perhaps most dramatically since the "freedom" of the "Arab Spring" has allowed Muslims in Egypt to behave not as the naive Copts had hoped, but as the realistic Copts had feared. 

Think of the attacks on Christians, the charges of blasphemy, the rape and murder -- by educated Pakistanis, by lawyers -- of Christian servant-girls, think of the seizure of Christian property, think of the daily cruelty and violence against Christians all over Pakistan. And as for the Hindus, and in Bangladesh the Hindus and the few remaining Buddhists -- you know what their lives are like.

Aggression. Violence. Crulety. Lies, Nonsense. Every kind of conspiracy theory. Every kind of craziness that makes even those who see through it end up, even as dissidents, sometimes slightly off themselves.

That's Islam.

Amin Taheri can't quite say that. He can't quite come to that conclusion. But we, who have no ties of filial piety, no need to defend it in any way, can see it for what it is, and find the source of all of its ills in the texts themselves -- Qur'an, Hadith, Sira -- and the atmospherics created in societies, and minds, suffused with Islam.


Posted on 10/29/2011 7:02 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 29 October 2011
Three Australian soldiers killed, seven wounded in Afghanistan shooting

From The Australian

THE Defence Department has confirmed that three Australian soldiers have been killed and seven others wounded by a rogue Afghan soldier in the volatile south of Afghanistan. The department says an Afghan interpreter was also killed in the incident.

The Australian soldiers wounded are being treated at ISAF medical facilities.

General Abdul Hameed, commander of 205 Atal corps in the south, said an Afghan soldier with three years' experience had carried out the shooting."At around 8.30 this morning, an ANA soldier named Darwish who had been serving as an ANA soldier for the past three years opened fire on a group of Australian military officers, killing three of them," said Hameed. "The attacker was also gunned down by ISAF soldiers."

Fears of infiltration within the Afghan army ranks have risen as Western backers fund and train a huge expansion of the fledgling national force ahead of the withdrawal of all foreign combat forces scheduled for 2014.

When will they stop describing these Afghans as 'rogue'? They are not abberations - they are jihadists, and that is their normal condition.

Posted on 10/29/2011 5:26 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 29 October 2011
You wait an age for a feoffee then two come along at once.

Hugh said here that "The appearance of "feoffee" in a news item in a small-town American paper has made my day. Perhaps it will make yours"  I hope this makes his week. Seen in Old Bridlington Yorkshire last week.

No one knows for sure what the Three Bs of the town arms stand for. One suggestion heard some years ago was that it refered to a number of illegal immigrants entering through the harbour at night and stood for their route; Bangladesh - Bridlington - Bradford but the arms are much older as is discussed here. 

The building upon which the Lords Feoffees of the Manor had spent so much attention was opposite the Bayle Gate, a few minutes away from the mediavael Priory church but not a similarly ancient and venerable structure. It was however a very fine example of its type, well appointed with hot water and soap, a spotlessly clean, ladies public lavatory. 

Posted on 10/29/2011 4:59 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 29 October 2011
In Germany, Government Officials Serve As Apologists For Islam; It's Not Working

From RT:

Multikulti breeds distrust in Germany

28 October, 2011

The German government's attempts to unite different religious groups seem to be turning sour. Introducing lessons on Islam in schools was meant to help integrate the country's three million Muslims. But the policy is having some undesired effects.

­The Germany authorities say Islam spreads a message of peace and have introduced lessons about the religion in schools.

“You will not find a phrase or sentence of Koran which tells pupils you have to persecute members of other religions,” says Ulrich Seiser from the Education ministry.

However, elsewhere, there have been allegations of teachers preaching a message of hate.  

“Christians who go to discos, drink alcohol and have a boyfriend perform evil deeds. ‘Christians and Jews!’, says Allah, ‘Believe in the Koran before it destroys your faces,’” schoolchildren are told in one school.  

And Muslims themselves admit that the classes have done little to soothe ethnic tensions.

“The relations between officials and Islamic communities are not so good,” said Burhan Kesici, head of the Council for the Islamic Republic of Germany.

Fears that Muslim youths are trying to spread Islamic sharia law across Europe, whipped up by anti-Muslim campaigners, have not helped relations. 

Sharia is a code of conduct in Arab states whose punishments can include amputation and stoning.

“They teach them that they are a superior class of people, with more rights than the non-believers, and the non-believers can be treated like pigs. Young Muslims think German law cannot be higher than Allah’s law,  therefore they must install the sharia everywhere,” said Dr Karl Schmidt from the Pax Europa Citizens’ Movement.

Barino was born to Christian parents, but he has converted to Islam. Every Muslim here must swap German laws for sharia, he says, and chop off hands, stone adulterers, flog homosexuals.

Germany's multicultural education policy appears to be going awry. Muslim students are being radicalized by their lessons in Islam. The move by the authorities is well-meaning, but may instead be creating a generation of extremists who detest the West.

In Frankfurt, almost half the residents are foreign. Anti-immigration parties are seeing a surge in popularity. The Free Voters group is getting elected with this message for Muslims: “Integrate, or leave our country.”

“More and more young men and women born in Germany go to the extremists,” said Wolfgang Huebner, chairman of Free Voters.

And though the government’s efforts were meant to help integrate Germany's three million Muslims, experts say the country is fragmenting into pro- and anti-Islam camps.


Posted on 10/29/2011 4:37 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 29 October 2011
French court cancels permit for Marseille mega-mosque

From AFP MARSEILLE — A French court Thursday cancelled a construction permit for a mega-mosque in the southern city of Marseille that had been touted as a potential symbol of Islam's growing place in France.

The city's administrative tribunal ruled the project, which had already been under suspension for 18 months, would have to be cancelled because of failures to meet urban-planning requirements.

It raised particular concerns over the project's failure to finalise a deal for a 450-place parking lot and to reassure planners that the mosque would fit with the urban environment.

The tribunal noted "a lack of graphical material permitting the evaluation of the project's integration with neighbouring buildings, its visual impact and the treatment of access points and land."

The 22-million-euro ($31-million) project would have seen the Grand Mosque, boasting a minaret soaring 25-metres (82-feet) high and room for up to 7,000 worshippers, built in the city's northern Saint-Louis area.

Originally scheduled to open next year, it would have also hosted a Koranic school, library, restaurant and tea room.

Muslim leaders in the Mediterranean city had hailed the approval of the project as a key step in recognising the importance of Marseille's large Muslim community.

"It's the culmination of a long struggle for the people who live and work here, and who simply wanted for this project to fit in harmony with the neighbourhood's economic and social fabric," said Pierre Metras, a local butcher who led the neighbourhood campaign against the mosque.

Posted on 10/29/2011 3:33 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 29 October 2011
MP Mike Freer threatened at mosque surgery

From the BBC,  the Press Association and the Hendon and Finchley Times

The Finchley and Golders Green MP, a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel, said there was a vocal demonstration outside the mosque as he began his surgery, but then a second group of people arrived and forced their way inside.

Mr Freer, a member of Conservative Friends of Israel, said he was called a "Jewish homosexual pig". He was escorted by staff at the mosque to a locked part of the building until assistance arrived and described the incident as "uncomfortable".

The trouble began after messages on the Muslims Against Crusades website urged supporters to target him. It warned the attack on Mr Timms should serve as a "piercing reminder" to politicians that "their presence is no longer welcome in any Muslim area". The message also stated that "as a member of the Conservative Party", Mr Freer had "the blood of thousands of Muslims on his hands".

But it was only when he was made aware of the website's reference to the attack on East Ham MP Mr Timms that he realised the potential danger. "Had I seen the website beforehand, I suspect it might have been a bit more worrying," the MP said.

Mr Freer said he wanted the Home Secretary to closely monitor the actions of Muslims Against Crusades and subject them to the "full force of the law".

He said: "The difficulty is with this group is it's the third incarnation of other groups. Every time it gets banned, it just renames. What I'm saying is the Home Office needs to be continuing to monitor this group and as soon as they overstep the mark then the full force of the law should come down on them."

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "Officers attended North Finchley Mosque at 4.10pm on Friday after a disturbance by protesters inside the building. There were no arrests."

Posted on 10/29/2011 2:26 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 29 October 2011
Suicide Bombings in Afghanistan

NYTimes: KABUL, Afghanistan — At least 13 American soldiers were among more than 20 people killed when a Taliban suicide car bomber attacked an armored NATO shuttle bus in Kabul on Saturday, a Western military official confirmed.

It was the worst loss of life among American troops in the capital in several years.

The attack on the bus, known as a Rhino because of its heavy armor, took place in front of the American University on a route often traveled by military trainers from NATO bases in downtown Kabul to the Kabul Military Training Center. At least eight civilians were reported among the dead, including three Afghan police officers and two children.

A military dog was also killed, the military official said.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, claimed responsibility, saying that a suicide bomber named Abdul Rahman Hazarbos drove a truck with 1,500 pounds of explosives into a bus carrying foreign military trainers, killing all aboard. He claimed 25 NATO soldiers were killed in all.

In addition, three Australian NATO soldiers were killed on Saturday by an Afghan soldier who turned his weapon on them, Afghan officials said.

LATimes: And in a third incident in Eastern Afghanistan, a female suicide bomber wearing a burqa tried to enter a government building. She was killed, according to local news reports, when guards became suspicious of her behavior and opened fire, prompting her to detonate her explosives.

In other news, seeing that Afghanistan and Iraq are pretty much a bust for business opportunities (remember the trade show that was going to be held in Baghdad right after the invasion?) European and American businesses (especially contractors and security companies) are queuing up in Libya.

Posted on 10/29/2011 8:20 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 29 October 2011
O'Keefe's New Video: Journalism 101 at the NYTimes

James O'Keefe (whom you will remember for his brilliant ACORN undercover videos) captures Jay Rosen, and Clay Shirky explaining to a classroom how the most biased left-wing journalism operates and survives.


Posted on 10/29/2011 7:20 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 29 October 2011
Muslim Armies in Indonesia (as also in Egypt) Crush Non-Muslim Protesters...Will Anyone Intervene on Behalf of Those Non-Muslim Civilians?

From Australia's ABC, Hamish Fizsimmons reporting.

'Video shows aftermath of Papua crackdown'.

'The ABC has obtained exclusive video which reportedly shows the aftermath of a deadly crackdown by Indonesian troops who attacked an independence rally in the restive province of West Papua.

It's a bit of a switch to have a majority non-Muslim region within a Muslim-dominated state being called 'restive'.  Usually those 'restive' areas are majority-Muslim suburbs, provinces or regions within majority-nonMuslim states. - CM

'Six people died

'Died'.  No, they were killed. Murdered.  They - unarmed civilian protesters - were ither shot or beaten to death by the Muslim soldiers and/ or police. - CM

'and many more were injured after troops and police broke up the meeting of the Third Papuan People's Congress in the province's capital Jayapura on October 19.

'Security forces moved in after the meeting, which was attended by thousands of people, declared independence from Jakarta and decided to elect its own government.

The vast majority of those attending would be at least nominally Christian; others would be secular, and others would be practitioners of Papuan traditional animist beliefs.  If Christians - who are generally inclined to put up with whatever government they have - felt it necessary to go so far as to declare independence, one wonders just what the Indonesian Muslim colonial rulers have been doing in recent years, to drive their non-Muslim subjects beyond the point of patient endurance. - CM

'Among the forces involved  in breaking up the meeting were Australian-trained elite anti-terrorist troops.

Memo to non-Muslim states.  Never give or sell weapons or military training to Muslim entities or states.  Those weapons and that training will always be used in acts of aggression against non-Muslims - whether the next-door neighbours, or non-Muslim minorities within the Muslim state, or even - sooner or later - the foolish non-Muslim who has supplied the arms and the training.  The equipment with which the Egyptian Muslim army killed Copts in Cairo, was probably supplied by the USA, or bought with US 'aid' money. - CM

'ABC1's Lateline has obtained exclusive pictures claiming to be of the aftermath of the rally, which show a car covered in bullet holes and motorbikes and scooters abandoned by the side of the road.

'The Indonesian government says police fired warning shots to disperse the crowd and made many arrests.

'But six people were found dead after the rally, reportedly from bullet wounds, and six more have been charged with treason.

'The Indonesian government says there were deaths, but not at the site of the Congress, and says the victims' wounds were not gunshot wounds but were caused by a sharp weapon.

Gun or sword, what does it matter? In any case, O Muslim government of Indonesia, I do not believe you, because I know all about the habit that Muslims and Muslim entities have, of lying through their teeth, blaming the victims, and so on.  And I know what Muslims tend to do to non-Muslim minorities who refuse to stay in their allah-ordained position of inferiority to Muslims, under Muslim rule, and dare to claim civil and social equality or, worse, try to free themselves of Muslim rule (and Indonesia's seizure of West Papua was not much more 'legal' than Turkey's seizure of most of Cyprus). - CM

'Those who witnessed the violence want the international community to intervene.

Now that is interesting, in light of the enthusiasm with which said 'community' intervened in Libya to assist Muslim rebels (and given the much earlier precedent of intervention to 'save' the Albanian Muslims in the province of Kosovo, and to assist the Bosnian Muslims vis a vis the Serbs.  Are you listening, President Obama? Question: will anyone be quite as eager to intervene to rescue non-Muslims who desire to secede from a Muslim entity? -  CM

'John Baransano, a Protestant minister in Jayapura who was at the rally,s ays international help is needed.

If a Protestant clergyman feels impelled to say something like that, I suspect that there may be much, much more going on - and much, much more that has already happened in other places - than we are seeing from this attack on one independence rally. - CM

"I call on the churches around the world to care about this.  I'm calling for an intervention for us because today's events show that we need a transitional government and this needs to happen to help the people of Papua", he said.  "We are now in a dangerous situation and we're calling for a UN intervention to help us".

Makes me wonder what 'sermons' are being 'preached' in the mosques of the Muslim colonists who have settled in West Papua, right now. - CM

'He said he saw people being shot and beaten and others herded into trucks.

"I saw with my own eyes people who were bleeding. They had been hit.  We saw how they were terribly harassed", he said.

"They were forced into a truck and ordered to sit down so they wouldn't be seen by others.  But if we were up higher, we could see what had been done to them."

'Anglican minister Peter Woods lived in Indonesia for many years and is dedicated to helping West Papuans achieve independence.

He lived in Indonesia for many years.  Perhaps he knows how a Muslim society treats non-Muslims, and in particular, Christians; knows that things are not good for the non-Muslim Papuans, and are likely to only grow worse in the foreseeable future, as more and more Muslims move into West Papua, and the push for more and more sharia - which means ever more severe discrimination against and repression of non-Muslims  - continues among Indonesian Muslims. - CM

'He was in Jayapura during the Congress and filmed interviews with many of the independence movement's leaders.

'He said the security forces waited until independence was declared at the meeting.

I keep wondering what can have driven the West Papuans to take that step of publicly breaking with the Indonesian state. - CM

"The army, the special police, the Brimob [Mobile Brigade], the Densus 88, which had been along the road for the last three days in various barracks and positioning areas, they all moved in and started firing", he said.

'The Densus 88 unit is Indonesia's elite anti-terror squad and is funded and trained by Australia and the United States.

'Elite anti-terror squad'. Which has just been used to violently crush a peaceful rally of unarmed non-Muslims who had dared to state that they wished to secede from a Muslim-dominated colonial state which has done them little good and much harm over the past 58 years since it seized their province after a distinctly shonky referendum. - CM

'The Australian Government says the training for the Indonesian armed forces emphasises human rights awareness, accountability, and respect for the rule of law, including in Papua, and that it does not train Indonesia's military to counter separatist groups.

If you give someone weapons and military training, they are then free to use it however they may choose.  And as for 'human rights awareness, accountability, and respect for the rule of law'...Don't make me laugh.  In what part of the Muslim world can you honestly say that any one of those three principles is to be seen consistently being practised?   It's pretty much a waste of time to try to teach human rights awareness to practising Muslims whose Quran, in Surah 48: 29, states openly that "Muhammad is Allah's Apostle.  Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers, but merciful to one another".  The Quran and other Islamic texts inculcate an attitude of hostility, contempt and aggression toward all non-Muslims, whether Jews, Christians, or polytheists (and the native animists of Melanesian Papua would be classified as polytheists, to be given the choice of conversion or death).  A central guiding principle of Islam is al-walaa wa' al-baraa, 'loyalty and enmity': loyalty to Muslims only, and enmity - preferably expressed in action - toward non-Muslims.  And the only law that Muslims are supposed to respect is sharia, the law of Islam...sharia, which prescribes that non-Muslims must be converted, or subjugated, or killed.  Indonesia is not, on paper, governed by sharia; but the assumption that the non-Muslims should know their place and be made to keep their (very subordinate) place vis a vis Muslims, still suffuses the society.  The behaviour of the Muslim Indonesian army in East Timor during the period of occupation there, until they were forced out in 1999, was identical with that of every Muslim force that has ever set out to exploit, to crush and indeed to terrorise and annihilate a subject non-Muslim population.  - CM

'But Greens Senator Richard Di Natale wants military training halted.

I agree.  It is suicidal folly for Infidels to make any Muslim army better-equipped and more efficient at killing people. - CM

"The Australian Government shoudl immediately suspend all support for the Indonesian military.  It should, as a matter of urgency, send a fact-finding mission to the region", he said.

Again, I agree. And I have a further suggestion.  After the Egyptian army - which like the Indonesian army has benefited from Infidel jizya (oops, 'aid') to become better equipped and more efficient than it would otherwise be - slaughtered Copts in the streets of Cairo, Bishop  Suriel of the Australian Coptic church requested that the Egyptian Ambassador be expelled from Australia, as a sign of our country's displeasure.  Perhaps those advocating on behalf of  the West Papuans should make a similar request.  Why should not Australia expel not only the Egyptian but also the Indonesian ambassador, citing as our reason the ongoing gross abuses of the human rights of non-Muslim minorities in both Egypt and Indonesia and their governments' acquiescence and indeed participation in those abuses? - CM

'Reverend Woods believes the violence on October 19 was premeditated.

"It was very well planned and they waited until the declaration had been made", he said.

'Elite police from Jakarta and indonesia's National Commission for Human Rights are investigating the shootings, but there are claims that some of the injured are too afraid to seek treatment for fear they will be arrested.

'One of those is Abraham Kereni, who was a representative at the Congress.

"Then those - the security forces, they immediately held pistols and opened the door of the car of the prime minister", he said.

That is, the man whom these Papuan non-Muslims - bravely, but I think also perhaps foolishly, given their present situation - had chosen as their prime minister. - CM

"it was there that shots were fired. They opened the door and pulled me out. As they were pulling me out, there were three crew that came and hit me."

'A spokesman for Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs says it appears from reports that the police's response to the meeting was disproportionate."

To say the least. - CM


Posted on 10/29/2011 3:39 AM by Christina McIntosh
Showing 26-51 of 420 [Previous 25] [Next 25]

Join leaders of the American Middle Eastern community to endorse

Donald J. Trump
for President of the United States

and spend an evening with his foreign policy advisors featuring
Dr. Walid Phares
and other surprise campaign guests.

Monday October 17th

Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20008

cocktails at 6pm - dinner at 7pm
Business casual attire

$150 per person / $1500 per table

Sponsored by the American Mideast Coalition for Trump

Buy Tickets