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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Real Nature of Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
As Far As The Eye Can See
by Moshe Dann
Threats of Pain and Ruin
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky
















Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Imam Expelled By Force From France: It's A Start
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From lefigaro.fr:

d

Un imam antisémite expulsé
de France manu militari

Un imam antisémite expulsé<br/>de France manu militari

Dénoncé en janvier par Claude Guéant, il paie sous Valls ses prêches violents contre les Juifs et les femmes adultères.

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Posted on 10/31/2012 7:35 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Eight Bells
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by Len Krisak (November 2012)

               
                               —I.M., Allan Sullivan

“Brightwork,” said the sailor, and I see:

      Against the sky, the ship-brass vies

      With sunlight glinting off the sea.

Mere metal cannot win out, but it tries.  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2012 12:01 PM by NER
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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Limits of Con: An Islamic Center in Lower Manhattan
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by Richard Kostelanetz (November 2012)


When I read recently in the Brooklyn Rail (September 2012), a monthly to which I occasionally contribute both music reviews and fiction, about two Muslim-Americans trying to revive the “Ground Zero Mosque” that received so much press attention two summers ago, I was reminded that I drafted then the following for another monthly magazine whose contributing editor I’d been, Liberty. However, it stopped printing paper without anybody telling me. By the time I’d retrieved it, others had published about the subject, albeit insufficiently. So this essay went into the file for my next book of political criticism, tentatively titled Further, Deeper, and Behind. Those three words have also become the standards for my political criticism.  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2012 11:55 AM by NER
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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
The Culture in Kitchens
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G. Murphy Donovan (November 2012)

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child


There are four clear threats to the modern family and possibly civilization at large; cell phones, video games, the internet, and junk food. We allow the first three because they are cheaper than tutors, private schools, and nannies. Indeed, games and gadgets support a kind of electronic autism where neither parent nor child speaks to each other until the latter is old enough to drive. With junk food the threat is more complicated; a fusion of chemistry and culture. In combination, internet social networks and poor diets seem to be conspiring to produce a generation of pudgy, lazy mutes with short attention spans.  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2012 11:49 AM by NER
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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Growing-Up Dad: Learning To Let Go
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by Moshe Dann (November 2012)


True, things seem to happen in Israel more quickly. Perhaps it's the proximity to constant terrorism and near universal military service. Or maybe it's just the increased heat from global warming. Or the hormones.      

   "I'm getting married, Dad!" my nearly 18-yr old daughter exclaimed breathlessly one evening when she returned from her high school (Ulpana).*

   "Great," I responded, writing away on my computer, my mind somewhere else. I had heard such murmurings before. Big mistake.  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2012 11:44 AM by NER
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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
First Contact
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by Geoffrey Clarfield (November 2012)


In April 1985 I met my first Rendille twenty kilometers south of Marsabit town in Kenya’s desert northern frontier. He was no more than nineteen or twenty. He had curly hair with a bone ornament in it. He had ivory earrings in large pierced ears. He was wearing a red cloth tied around his hips, the kind you see in ancient Egyptian wall paintings. His face, neck and chest were covered with red ochre and that covered large parts of his dark brown skin. His nose was pointy and his cheek bones highly placed. Remarkably, his eyes were a greenish blue.  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2012 11:35 AM by NER
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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
In Tunisia, Protected Camps For Al Qaeda In The Maghreb
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From Marianne:

Tunisie : qui protège les camps jihadistes ?

Mardi 23 Octobre 2012

Malik Aït-Aoudia - Marianne


Dans le nord et le sud du pays, des groupes islamistes s'entraînent à la guerre sainte, pour partir combattre en Syrie ou au Mali. Et demain, en Tunisie ? Les pays occidentaux ferment les yeux pour des raisons politiques, et l'Algérie s'inquiète.


(Hassene Dridi/AP/SIPA)
(Hassene Dridi/AP/SIPA)
La Tunisie abrite des camps d'entraînement jihadistes. Deux, au moins, sont connus : l'un dans le Nord, dans la région de Tabarka, et l'autre dans le Sud, aux confins des trois frontières communes à la Tunisie, à la Libye et à l'Algérie, non loin de l'oasis libyenne de Ghadamès. A Tunis, leur existence est un secret de Polichinelle. «Nous avons informé les autorités tunisiennes, explique un diplomate européen, mais, pour le moment, il n'y a eu aucune réaction.» Pourtant, pas question pour les Occidentaux de porter le débat sur la place publique. «Cela reviendrait à dire que la transition politique en Tunisie est très mal partie et aucun pays européen ne souhaite prendre cette responsabilité», résume notre interlocuteur.

Des armes sont-elles stockées dans ces bases jihadistes ? C'est probable, et pas seulement là puisqu'on en trouve un peu partout dans le pays. En juin dernier, l'armée algérienne a ainsi transmis aux militaires tunisiens des informations qui leur ont permis de mettre la main sur un véritable arsenal enterré dans les sables du désert, à l'extrême sud du pays. Selon un haut responsable de la police tunisienne, «les combattants formés à la guérilla dans les camps sont disséminés dans tout le pays, prêts à en découdre lorsque le jihad sera déclaré en Tunisie si l'instauration de l'Etat islamique ne se fait pas par la voie légale». Ils pourraient alors récupérer les stocks d'armes sur lesquels le pays du jasmin fait semblant de dormir.

Foire aux guerriers d'Allah

En attendant, le grand voisin algérien en fait des cauchemars. A Alger, la frontière avec la Tunisie est devenue un sujet de préoccupation majeur. En quelques semaines, deux grosses opérations ont mis en lumière l'étendue du danger. A Annaba, un important réseau jihadiste venu de Tunisie a été démantelé. Près de Tébessa, les forces de sécurité algériennes auraient récupéré des missiles sol-air venus de Libye, après avoir transité par la Tunisie où le jihadisme ne prend même plus la peine de se cacher.

Une incroyable foire aux guerriers d'Allah s'est, par exemple, tenue à Kairouan, en mai dernier, sous la houlette d'Abou Iyad. L'homme fut naguère l'un des lieutenants de Ben Laden et organisa l'attentat contre le commandant Massoud en Afghanistan (lire Marianne no 805). On l'a retrouvé, il y a peu, lors de l'attaque contre l'ambassade américaine de Tunis. A Kairouan, l'homme avait donné rendez-vous à ses partisans d'Ansar al-Charia, son groupe jihadiste créé en 2011. Plusieurs milliers d'hommes venus de tout le pays, jeunes pour la plupart, en tenue afghane, en qamis (longue robe) immaculé ou en jeans, T-shirt et baskets de marque... Les drapeaux du califat islamique flottaient triomphalement alors qu'au micro Mokhtar Jebali, le président du Front tunisien des associations islamiques, s'époumonait : «Les gens ont peur des jihadistes parce que les ennemis ont massacré notre image. Mais, par définition, un musulman est un jihadiste. Le Prophète était le plus grand des moudjahidin.» La foule en délire n'attend qu'une chose : rejoindre le lieu d'affectation des moudjahidin tunisiens, dans le Nord ou dans le Sud. A la seule vue d'un ancien détenu de Guantanamo, 3 000 partisans de la guerre sainte scandent : «Obama, Obama, nous sommes tous des Oussama !» Un slogan repris le 14 septembre lors de l'assaut contre l'ambassade des Etats-Unis...

Pour montrer que la jeunesse tunisienne est prête au combat, les organisateurs avaient prévu une démonstration de zamaktel tounsi, un art martial tunisien, qu'il est désormais possible d'apprendre dans les camps d'Ansar al-Charia. Le visage camouflé, les «combattants» qui en font la démonstration fascinent les jeunes. L'opération recrutement était en route. Au grand jour. «Après la chute de Ben Ali, nous avons vécu dans l'euphorie sans faire attention aux salafistes, lâche, amer, un intellectuel laïc. Nous les méprisions et n'avons jamais imaginé qu'ils puissent être un danger pour le pays. Maintenant, ils sont là, entraînés, armés, regroupés en milices.» Obnubilés par la chasse aux membres de l'ancien régime, les Tunisiens n'ont pas voulu voir que les islamistes radicaux tissaient leur toile.

Premier signal d'alerte

Le premier signal d'alerte aurait pu venir des informations faisant état de la mort d'Imad, un jeune de Bizerte, du côté de Benghazi, lors de combats contre le régime de Kadhafi. «A l'époque, se souvient Mounir, un étudiant en architecture, nous nous sommes dit que c'était juste un jeune mort pour la démocratie, alors qu'il s'agissait en fait des premiers jalons d'une internationale jihadiste appelée à combattre partout où le leur chef le demande.» Aujourd'hui, il ne se passe pas une semaine sans que l'on apprenne qu'un jeune Tunisien est «mort en martyr» en Syrie. Les jeunes jihadistes commencent leur formation en Tunisie et vont se perfectionner au combat sur les terres de jihad, comme la Syrie, le Mali ou la Libye. Signe des temps, les familles des jihadistes ne sont plus montrées du doigt. Mounir s'en est aperçu en allant présenter ses condoléances après la mort d'un ami d'enfance «sur le chemin de Dieu» à Alep : «Cette famille modeste autrefois socialement déclassée a acquis un nouveau statut et est montrée en exemple.»

Que feront les centaines de jihadistes tunisiens si la France soutient une guerre au Mali contre Aqmi et les autres groupes islamistes ? Et que feront ceux qui combattent aujourd'hui en Syrie ou ailleurs, lorsqu'ils rentreront au pays ? La diffusion d'une vidéo de Rached Ghannouchi, le leader d'Ennahda, le parti au pouvoir, expliquant à des salafistes la conduite à tenir pour que les islamistes gardent le pouvoir et instaurent la charia, a bouleversé l'opinion. A Tunis, un an après la victoire électorale islamiste, huit mois avant les prochaines élections prévues en juin 2013, veut-on ou peut-on faire face à la menace jihadiste ?

*Article paru dans le numéro 809 du magazine Marianne.
 

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Posted on 10/31/2012 11:36 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
David's Sling: Is It Broken?
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by Alexander Maistrovoy (November 2012)


Henry Kissinger’s recent statement, that in 10 years Israel will cease to exist, borders on the senile. Although one of his staff members denied it, Cindy Adams from the New York Post insisted: “Reported to me, Henry Kissinger has stated - and I quote the statement word for word: 'In 10 years, there will be no more Israel '".  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2012 11:31 AM by NER
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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
The Failed Democrat Campaign to Smear Romney and Cut the Pie into a Dozen Pieces
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by Norman Berdichevsky (November 2012)


As the election nears, it has become more and more obvious that the Democrats’ campaign mistakenly portrayed Romney as a cartoon figure – the heartless, plutocrat-capitalist-aloof-super-wealthy, bigoted, ultra-conservative ignoring all the evidence that

1.      He was the most moderate of all the Republican candidates who remained in the race (following withdrawal of Tim Pawlenty, Gary Johnson and Jon Huntsmen, all minor candidates who dropped out early).

2.      His outstanding record of business achievement and balancing the budgets described by former President Clinton as “sterling.”  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2012 11:26 AM by NER
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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Resurrecting Ibn Taimiyah’s Fallacious Arguments About Christianity
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by Louis Palme (November 2012)


Back in the 13th Century, Islamic scholar Ibn Taimiyah wrote a voluminous refutation of Christian positions relative to Islam. A few years ago, that study was translated and reduced to a 406 page book, Answering Those Who Altered the Religion of Jesus Christ. The book is posted in PDF format on the Internet at: http://ahlalhadeeth.wordpress.com/books/authors/ibn-taymiyyah/  This website calls Taimiyah’s book one of the most important Islamic books in print today.  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2012 11:20 AM by NER
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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Respecting Islam
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by Joseph S. Spoerl (November 2012)


The recent violence surrounding the video “The Innocence of Muslims” is only the latest in a series of incidents in which Muslims react violently to a perceived insult to their faith and its founder, Muhammad.

To be sure, we all resent it when outsiders attack our religious tradition or culture; we prefer such criticism to be conducted, if at all, by insiders, not outsiders. However, Islam makes sweeping claims: Muslims hold their faith to be the final revelation of God’s will and insist that it abrogates all earlier revelations, in particular Judaism and Christianity, and that non-Muslims are all destined for hell.[1] Muslims accordingly hold that all people should convert to Islam. Non-Muslims therefore have every right to subject Islam to critical scrutiny.  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2012 11:05 AM by NER
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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
How Western Liberals Helped Create Radical Islamism
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by Emmet Scott (November 2012)

I vividly recall, just a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks, seeing a photograph of the Bin Laden family, or some of the younger members of the family, on holiday in Sweden. The year, I believe, was 1971. Osama was there, as were about fifteen of his brothers (and half-brothers) and sisters. All of them were dressed in typical “gear” of the time, bell-bottomed jeans and tight pullovers. Some of the boys had long hair, as did the girls. None of these were veiled, or betrayed in her attire the slightest hint of Islamic influence. They could have been a group of youngsters from any western country.  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2012 10:47 AM by NER
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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
No Blinders about Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood
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An Interview with Raymond Stock  
by Jerry Gordon and Raymond Stock
(November 2012)


In December 2010, after spending two decades in Egypt as an academic and translator of the works of Egyptian Nobel Laureate, the late Naguib Mahfouz, ex-pat Detroit native, Raymond Stock was denied entry and deported by the Mubarak regime. He had apparently crossed the line when in 2009, he authored a Foreign Policy article, “Very, Very Lost in Translation,” about the anti-Semitic rants of former Mubarak cultural minister, Farouk Hosni, who was jockeying to be nominated as head of UNESCO.  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2012 10:41 AM by NER
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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
The Language of Decline
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by Fergus Downie (November 2012)

The Medium is the Message

                        -  Marshall McLuhan


That intellectuals have a greater influence than is commonly allowed for, is a fact attested to by the staple vocabulary of people who spend little time around books. If anyone doubted it, they need only expose themselves to an episode of the Jeremy Kyle show (Americans may be surprised to learn the UK has produced something more vulgar than Jerry Springer) or any other outlet of prole porn and listen to the Freudian psychobabble so effortlessly spouted by its degraded participants. That they ingest the words without the theory does not make the influence less profound; words shape thoughts and thoughts as Nietzsche observed are the greatest deeds.  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2012 10:36 AM by NER
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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
The Unfolding Self
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by Rebecca Bynum (November 2012)


Nothing is so important to a man as his own state, nothing is so formidable to him as eternity; and thus it is not natural that there should be men indifferent to the loss of their existence…
                      – Blaise Pascal Pensées #194 (emphasis added)

[T]he torment of despair is precisely the inability to die…he cannot consume himself, cannot be rid of himself, cannot become nothing. This is the heightened formula for despair, the rising fever in the sickness of the self.
                    
– Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death


It seems to me there is present in modern humanity a growing ambivalence towards living. Suicide is now the primary cause of injury-related death in the United States and this urge to embrace death is steadily rising. Parallel to this, there seems to be a growing tendency to want to remake ourselves as other people - younger, better-looking, different. Advancing technology and medicine are allowing us to play out our fantasies like never before, and yet we cannot be rid of ourselves, we cannot become different persons no matter how much we may pretend or wish to be so.  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2012 10:29 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Martin Buber and the Holocaust: Some Reconsiderations
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by Richard L. Rubenstein (November 2012)


Author’s note: An earlier version of this essay was presented in German at the Buber Centenary Conference in West Germany, 1978, chaired by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Walter Scheel. An earlier English version was published in The Michigan Quarterly Review, Vol. 17, No. 3, 1979

As we commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Martin Buber here in Wiirzburg, it is impossible not to reflect on what those years have meant in the history of Judaism, of Germany and of the western world. In 1878 the vast majority of the world's Jews were domiciled in Eastern Europe. There was a minuscule Jewish community in what is now Israel. There were no more than 300,000 Jews in the United States, almost all of whom were of German origin. In the same year on January 3, 1878, Pastor Adolf  Stöcker, the Kaiser's Court Chaplain, founded Germany's first  overtly anti-Semitic political party, renamed shortly thereafter the Christian Social Party. One year later Wilhelm Marr founded his Anti-Semite League. Stöcker's program was relatively mild compared to that of his successors.  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2012 10:23 AM by NER
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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Ancient and/or Modern
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by Theodore Dalrymple (November 2012)


To believe or trust in the wisdom of crowds just because crowds are composed of many people and two heads are better than one seems to me absurd; but equally it is wrong to reject an opinion merely because it is held by a crowd. We are condemned, or privileged, or both, constantly to have to make up our own minds about things: to be nonjudgmental, as the cant word has it, means not to participate fully in or of human life. And what most people probably mean when they describe themselves (almost always in a self-congratulatory way) as being nonjudgmental is that they are uncensorious – other than about people who are censorious, of course. An inadequate vocabulary can be pregnant with consequences.  more>>>

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Posted on 10/31/2012 10:15 AM by NER
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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Go Straight To Gaol, Do Not Pass Go
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Now that the Italian seismologists have been sent to prison for six years for their criminal failure to predict correctly what was going to happen under the earth’s surface at Aquila, it is time to concentrate the minds of other types, such as central bankers, Chancellors of the Exchequer and other cabinet ministers, financial advisers, fund managers, stockbrokers, bank directors, property consultants, pension salesmen, financial journalists, academic economists, etc, who failed to predict correctly important subterranean events. Indeed, not a few Nobel Prize winners might find themselves in jug if my suggestion were adopted.

A local official in Aquila, Stefania Pezzopane, who was in favour of the court verdict against the seismologists, said quite rightly that scientists should be scientists and not buffoons. Amen to that: and likewise economists should be economists and not buffoons. Their wrong predictions may not be quite so deadly in the short term as those of seismologists, but I am quite sure that epidemiologists would have no difficulty in showing that the fatal consequences of their failure to predict and therefore prevent economic downturns were in the long run even greater. Indeed, it has already been claimed in the British Medical Journal that the economic recession has caused 1000 people to commit suicide in Great Britain alone, more than three times more than were killed by the Aquila earthquake. World-wide, the figure must by now be much greater.

Two things might be said against my proposal: first that the events that were unpredicted by the economists could not have been predicted, and second that, even if predicted, nothing could have been done to avoid their consequences.

It is simply not true, however, that the events were not predictable: they were predicted, and indeed even I, who am no economist, knew that the so-called boom in Britain was fool’s gold, and said so.

Second, an economic downturn foreseen is susceptible to alleviation, if not to total avoidance. No, the list of people I have given above are at least as guilty as the Italian sesimologists.  

While we are at it, how about preventive detention? Not long ago I read an article in the Financial Times by one of its regular columnists suggesting that the British government take advantage of the current low rates of interest at which it is able to borrow to borrow n gazillions more to spend on infrastructure and thus stimulate the economy. Go to gaol, FT pundit, go straight to gaol, do not pass Go, do not collect your £200,000,000,000,000,000,000.      

First publishedin the Salibury Review.

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Posted on 10/31/2012 6:11 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
A Musical Interlude: Lay Down Your Arms (from "Lipstick On Your Collar")
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Listen here.
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Posted on 10/30/2012 8:51 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Robert Benchley Turns Out To Be Vectensian By Birth
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"Robert Charles Benchley, born on the Isle of Wight, September 15, 1807. Shipped as a
cabin boy on the
Florence J. Marble, 1815. Arrested for bigamy and murder in Port Said,
1817. Released, 1820. Wrote
Tale of Two Cities. Married Princess Anastasia of Portugal,
1831. Children: Prince Rupprecht and several little girls. Wrote
Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1850.
Editor of
Godey's Ladies Book, 1851-1856. Began Les Miserables in 1870, finished by
Victor Hugo. Died 1871. Buried in Westminster Abbey."
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Posted on 10/30/2012 8:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Muslim hackers attack French Euromillions site
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From ITProPortal (with thanks to Esmerelda Weatherwax):

The French Euromillions site has been hacked with the homepage replaced by a passage from the Koran condemning gambling as the 'devil's work'.

A hacking group calling themselves "Morrocanghosts" posted a message in Arabic and French warning people to quit gambling and consuming alcohol, both of which are forbidden in Islam.

The message insisted that people who gamble and consume alcohol were being used by the devil to "sow hatred between yourselves and turn you away from God and prayer".

"Oh you believers. Wine, games of chance, statues all augur impurity and are the work of the devil", read the message.

The note appeared yesterday morning but La Francaise des jeux (FDJ), which runs Euromillions in France, said that none of its games or any personal data were affected and that all pages hit by the hackers were in "the process of being put back up".

The Euromillions homepage was still unavailable last night and is currently redirecting visitors to the FDJ page.

France has a population of 65 million of which four million are Muslims - the largest Islamic population in western Europe.

The Euromillions lottery launched in 2004 and is now played by nine countries across western Europe: Austria, Belgium, Britain, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.

More than 100 million euros are up for grabs in the Euromillions jackpot to be played on Tuesday.

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Posted on 10/30/2012 10:30 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
The European Dreams of Jürgen Habermas
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Compared with reading a book by Professor Habermas, going to the dentist is a pleasant experience. He has made his career as a torturer – not of people, but of language. The esteem in which he is widely held is to me mysterious and itself of sociological and psychological interest, worthy of further research. Audiences have been known almost to swoon at his Teutonically polysyllabic vaticinations. He is largely incomprehensible; where he is comprehensible, he is either banal or wrong, or both. He is often funny, but not intentionally.

Let us take his banality first. At the bottom of page 69 of this short but frivolously dense book entitled THE CRISIS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION: A Response , we read with respect to his scheme for a world body that will deliver universal justice (modeled more or less on the triumphantly successful European Union): “But any design for a world order aiming at civilizing the exercise of political authority, no matter how farsighted it might be, must take account of the fact that the historical asynchronicity of regional developments and the corresponding socio-economic disparities between the multiple modernities cannot be erased overnight.”

Do we really need a professor of philosophy  – indeed, do we need anyone – to tell us this? Professor Habermas tries to squeeze significance out of truisms, as a constipated man tries to squeeze stools out of a reluctant colon, by the use of locutions such as ‘multiple modernities’ and the printing of the word ‘overnight’ in italics. But is there a single person in the world who thinks that all economic differences between individuals and nations could be ironed out overnight, and who either needs to or would be disabused of this notion by Professor Habermas’s contradiction of it? Academic vacuity can go no further.

Let us now turn to the Professor’s almost comic error-proneness. According to him, the United Nations could and should be a quasi-judicial body, wielding military force, but subject to a higher court whose constitution, make-up and source of authority he does not vouchsafe us, that would intervene wherever national governments abused whatever happened to be the human right du jour. Let us, partly from charity towards the Professor, disregard the question as to whether this would be a recipe for permanent peace or permanent war; let us, rather, examine one of his empirical claims:

A fortunate consequence of the [UN’s] restriction to legal,

but fundamentally moral matters is a deflation of the demands

on legitimation of the world organization. For the relevant

principles of distributive justice as well as the negative duties

to refrain from justiciable human rights violations and wars

of aggression are rooted in the core moral contents of all

the major world religions and in the cultures they have shaped.

Jürgen Habermas

On what planet, we may ask, has Professor Habermas been living for the past few decades? Not on Earth, surely? Does Frankfurt University, where he is professor emeritus, not receive news from the rest of the world’s surface? Has it escaped his notice that there seems to be some conflict over, inter alia, the limits of free expression, for example about the Prophet Mohammed, and that this conflict is actually over quite fundamental principles, the differences between which are not easily reconcilable? Is he not aware that the principles of what he calls ‘distributive justice’ are far from settled, and that even if it were true that the ideals of the welfare state (which he much favors) were indisputably just, which of course they are not, it is a matter of empirical fact that many people do not accept them as just. Elections such as the current ones in the United States may not in practice change very much, but that does not mean that they are about nothing of fundamental importance.

Underlying Professor Habermas’ platitudinous but mistaken verbiage is actually something rather sinister: the communist, fascist and Nazi dream of the abolition of politics, in favor of mere administrative decision-making by a supposedly enlightened elite, armed with indubitable truth from which their decisions follow syllogistically. The world should be free of Jews or economic exploiters so we kill them; the world should be free of human rights abuses so we topple the governments that commit them. Complexity of vocabulary and syntax apart, life is really very simple.

With regard to Professor Habermas’ obscurity, however, one is spoilt for choice. It is true that even at his most opaque, one sometimes glimpses a meaning, or at least a connotation, as one might glimpse a giant panda in a bamboo forest; and it is this dialectic (I surmise) between incomprehensibility and meaning that has given him a reputation for profundity. His thoughts lie too deep for words, at least those that we can grasp at a first or subsequent reading, and the fault lies with us, not with him.

At the risk of being accused of the very fault with which I tax him, I should say that he Habermasizes language. He uses locutions to hide rather than reveal meaning to the educated reader (only the educated could possibly be under the misapprehension that they ought to read him). Here is a relatively mild example: “A political integration backed by social welfare is necessary if the national diversity and the incomparable cultural wealth of the biotope ‘old Europe’ are to enjoy any protection against becoming levelled in the midst of rapidly progressing globalization.”

A biotope – hardly a word on everybody’s lips – is ‘a small or well-defined area that is uniform in environmental conditions and in its distribution of plant and animal life:’ a combination of Lebensraum and Gleichschaltung when you come to think of it, which is rather unfortunate in the political context. The passage hints at, has the connotations of, but does not quite mean, protectionism, winding up the drawbridge against the barbarians assembling beyond the walls. How this sits with the Professor’s world government I am at a loss to understand: I suspect that there is a special kind of dementia that is caused by having read too much Hegel in one’s youth.

There are passages in this book, short though it is, that would make strong men – or, in the politically correct language preferred by the translator, persons – scream. “One need not share the associated evaluation in order to appreciate the descriptive force of freeing the concept of the ‘political’ from the fog of a mystified counter-enlightenment and restricting it to the core meaning of a democratically juridified decision-making and administrative power.”

This might be the translator’s fault, but I doubt it.

Nevertheless, let me try to extract some of Habermas’ main points, in so far as I am able. He thinks there is no inherent problem in the creation of a pan-European democracy, complete with a proper parliament with real powers. (He does not descend to such petty problems as the simultaneous translation of Estonian into Portuguese, Croat, Greek, Danish, German, French, Spanish, English, Italian, Swedish, Finnish, etc. and vice versa, such that jokes become apparent only 30 seconds after they have been made, and laughter breaks out when the speaker has moved on to, say, the question of Greek debt or genocide.)

Habermas thinks that the transfer payments between countries that he deems necessary, especially from Germany, and indeed which might be imposed on Germany if his scheme of a genuinely powerful European parliament came about, would pose no problem once a European mentality had been ‘constructed.’ Why he should think this is a mystery to me; transfer payments between nationalities are already threatening to break up well-established states such as Belgium and Spain, and one of the hopes of the Scottish nationalists must be that they will get more transfer payments from Europe than from England, and larger rents from their own political activities.

Habermas is unequivocally in favor of majoritarian democracy and sees no need for a countervailing principle in defence of liberty:

Democratic self-government means that the addressees of

mandatory laws are at the same time their authors. In a

democracy, citizens are subject only to those laws which

they have given themselves in accordance with a democratic

procedure. The legitimizing force of this procedure rests, on

the one hand, on the inclusion of all citizens in the political

decision-making process (however this is realized) and, on

the other hand, on the coupling of (if necessary qualified)

majority decisions with deliberative will-formation.

One is tempted here to adapt Edmund Burke slightly: In the groves of his academy, at the end of every vista, you see nothing but the gallows. But of course, the hangings would be coupled to majority decisions with deliberative will-formation, so they would be all right.

Habermas, to be fair, supports human rights, but in the full Soviet sense of the term. The concept of human rights, in his view, derives from that of human dignity (his essay on this subject in this book is considerably better written than the rest, though not less wrong-headed), with the right to an equal amount of which every human being is endowed at birth, ex officio as it were. But no one can retain his human dignity if he is homeless, hungry, lacks a 72-inch flat-screened TV, etc., and therefore it is the duty for the state, in the name of human rights, to ensure that he is provided with them. In Habermas’ view human rights evolve and extend: when 96-inch flat screens become available, possession of them will be a human right, too. That all this involves a very considerable coercive apparatus, often arbitrary and frequently unjust, is quite beyond him to recognize.

Professor Habermas is an old man and respect is due to age. He came to consciousness in the Hitler years and lived through the war; I have little doubt that he is motivated at the deepest level by a genuine desire that Europe should avoid any such catastrophe again. Alas, his ideas, if implemented, would lead to something rather like it.

First published in the Library of Law and Liberty.

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Posted on 10/30/2012 8:18 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Kahlili: Iran’s Supreme Leader Continues Secret Discussions
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Apparently Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei doesn’t believe US polls. He continues alleged secret discussions with Obama representatives seeking a last minute announcement of a deal with the Islamic Republic which might vanquish the President’s problems in Libya. That is notwithstanding the unraveling of reports concerning the Benghazi terrorist attack that resulted in the deaths of four Americans including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

There are allegations by Frank Gaffney in the Washington Times, Clare Lopez on Glen Beck’s, The Blaze,  Aaron Klein at World Net Daily, Bret Baier and Catherine Herridge of Fox News  that Stevens might have been engaged in possible gun running of former Gaddafi Libyan weapons caches via Islamist Turkey to Sunni supremacist and al Qaida in the Syrian opposition. Furthermore, there are rumors that the President might have countermanded an order by AFRICOM commander Gen. Carter Ham to provide special ops support for two besieged ex-Navy Seals who were subsequently killed by terrorist mortar fire. According to James Robbins in a weekend Washington Times report , Ham might have relieved of his command when he disobeyed a Presidential order and refused to stand down. The Pentagon, according to the Washington Examiner, denied such a report indicating that Gen. Ham had elected to retire. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Dempsey released this statement to the Washington Times, yesterday:

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, released the following statement to the Washington Times:
The speculation that General Carter Ham is departing Africa Command (AFRICOM) due to events in Benghazi, Libya on 11 September 2012 is absolutely false. General Ham's departure is part of routine succession planning that has been ongoing since July.

Gen. Ham aged 61 is four years shy of normal retirement at 65.

Reza Kahlili, ex-CIA agent, had scooped New York Times reports of secret meetings between US representatives and a senior Iranian aide involving a possible temporary halt in the nuclear enrichment program in exchange for lifting of some economic sanctions. Kahlili’s and the New York Times' reports about these alleged secret meetings in Doha, Qatar have been denied by the Obama White House, the Iranian Supreme Leader and the Qatari Prime Minister. Nevertheless, White House spokespersons have left the door open to possible future meetings.

Kahlili’s latest World Net Daily report, “Secret U.S., Iranian meetings to continue” suggests that the Obama Administration motivation for continuing these alleged secret discussions is obtain a diplomatic breakthrough to cover off the Benghazi debacle.

Kahlili presents evidence based on highly placed Islamic Republic sources. Among the revelations are:

Teams from both sides may resume talks in the coming days with the hope of reaching agreement to announce a breakthrough before the U.S. elections.

If President Obama is not re-elected, however, the source contends any agreement reached after the elections will be announced and enforced while he is still in office, once Iran’s Supreme Leader receives written guarantees from Obama.

The source adds, on a related note, that President Obama may have chosen not to destroy the American, sensitive-technology RQ-170 stealth drone, which was captured by the Iranian forces after it crashed in Iran in December 2011, because he feared jeopardizing the ongoing secret negotiations.
 
[. . .]

The source said the revelation of the secret meetings has caused internal rifts between Iranian factions. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has already alerted the Americans that he might remove President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and establish an emergency government. He has already seized authority over much of the affairs of the country, including international matters.


Kahlili notes the denials of such discussions by the Supreme Leaders’ representatives and contradictory assertion of the main opposition leader Mir Mousavi:

In a rare interview on Mashregh, a Revolutionary Guards’ media outlet, Velayati denied reports of his involvement in secret meetings with the U.S. He also said of the U.S. elections that Mitt Romney showed he does not have the minimum capacity to compete with Obama and that Obama will win the elections unless some unexpected political event derails him.

 Iranian major newspapers, including Keyhan, which is directly under the supervision of the Supreme Leader, scrambled to deny the secret meetings with American representatives.


The Iranian website Kaleme, the official site of the Green movement and opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, reported the alleged secret negotiations and gave full coverage to news of the meetings.

Kahlili indicated that most Iranian newspapers ran front page denials of the meeting by Velayati indicating the nervousness of the Islamic regime.

Kahlili’s sources noted the rationale for the continued discussions:

In the Qatar meeting, according to the source, it was alleged the U.S. delegation urged an announcement, even if only on a temporary nuclear deal, before the U.S. elections to help Obama get re-elected. A Romney presidency it was alleged might support Israel, while Obama has stood up to Israel against attacking Iran. The regime’s delegation was allegedly entreated to understand that if Iran did not stand by Obama, Israel will attack Iran.

Separately, French newspaper of record, Le Monde noted a US State Department official who has espoused bi-lateral discussions with the Islamic Republic on nuclear non-proliferation and had prior dealings with lead negotiator Velayati:

The French newspaper Le Monde last week reported that one U.S. official, Robert J. Einhorn, the State Department’s special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control and a long-time proponent of bilateral talks who in 2009 offered a uranium exchange to Iran, has  held secret talks with Velayati before.

While, the Supreme Leader might support such secret discussions with American representatives, the Iranians may have placed too much faith in a possible re-election victory by the Obama Administration, given recent polling indicating a tightening race with Governor Romney in key battleground states. This latest report about the alleged secret discussions between representatives of the Supreme Leader and emissaries of President Obama may have been eclipsed by news of the devastation of Northeastern US by Hurricane Sandy and a hiatus in the waning days of the Presidential campaign.

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Posted on 10/30/2012 7:24 AM by Jerry Gordon
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Monday, 29 October 2012
Australia: TV Program Discusses FGM Among the Muslim 'Community'
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From the ABC's '7.30' program, Caro Meldrum-Hanna reporting.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-10-29/concerns-raised-about-female-genital-mutilation/4340090

'Breaking the silence over genital mutilation horror'.

'Across the nation, young girls (that is, 'young Muslim girls' - CM) are being mutilated in a brutal and barbaric religious practice that most Australians struggle to comprehend.

Why should we seek to 'comprehend' something like that? Practices like FGM, 'honor' murder of perceived-to-be-uppity women, the killing of apostates and 'blasphemers', and the forced 'marriage' of underage girls are not quaint, complex customs requiring to be earnestly 'comprehended'; they require to be banned, and those who advocate or practise them should not be permitted to remain on Australian soil. However: kudos to Ms Meldrum-Hanna and the 7.30 Report for actually using the words 'brutal' and 'barbaric'.  And for being prepared to mention 'religious', and to face up to which 'religion' is involved.  - CM

'More than 120,000 migrant women in Australia have suffered genital mutilation - a brutal religious practice common in Islamic populations in Africa, South America, parts of Asia and the Middle East.

There were, last I heard, some 500 000 Muslims in Australia.  If it is guessed that 120,000 'migrant' (presumably, 'Muslim migrant') women in Australia have been subjected to FGM, then that would comprise roughly half of all Muslim females in Australia.  - CM

'There is no data held on how widespread female genital mutilation is in Australia, but 7.30 has spoken to women who are voicing their concerns despite the fear of rejection from their communities.

'The genital mutilation is carried out by women on girls between the age of four and ten.

'It is a crime in Australia and is not sanctioned by the Koran.

But it is mentioned - without condemnation - in the most authoritative Hadith, and there is not one of the four schools of Sunni Sharia that explicitly condemns it.  Indeed, one of those four schools - the Shafiite school, which is prevalent followed in Egypt, southern Arabia, Bahrain, Kurdistan, Somalia, Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia , regards it as compulsory,  and two others - the  Hanifi school and the Hanbali school - while not going so far as to make it compulsory, see it as 'an honor', or an honorable thing to do.  And the fourth does not condemn it.  One of the authoritative manuals of Sunni Sharia law, the Shafiite 'Reliance of the Traveller', states that 'circumcision' is mandatory for both males and females; it states that 'circumcision', for the female, is 'by cutting out the clitoris'. (The English translation, by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, obfuscates the brutal bluntness of the original Arabic, by claiming that it is not the clitoris itself but the clitoral hood that is meant to be cut but this is not so.  The Arabic plainly says that the clitoris is to be cut out.) - CM

'Nonetheless, it is happening behind closed doors.

Like so many other ugly Muslim practices that sharia permits and prescribes. - CM

'7.30 understands the women chosen to do the cutting often do not have any medical qualifications, with the procedures being carried out in people's homes using crude surgical implements.

'The procedure can range from a small cut to a girl's clitoris, to the entire removal of the genitals (that should be, the entire removal of the clitoris and much of the labia, which is done in infibulation, or so-called 'Pharaonic' mutilation - CM).

'In extreme cases the wound is sewn up to leave only one opening - the size of a matchstick - for urination and menstruation.

This is what is done to Muslim girls in Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia; it is what was done to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and to the Somali-background model, Waris Dirie.  In Ayaan's 'Infidel' and in Waris Dirie's 'The Desert Flower' one can read their descriptions of what it feels like to have your clitoris and much of your external genitalia sliced out and sliced off and then crudely sewn up to form a 'chastity belt' of rock-hard scar tissue, all without benefit of anaesthesia or antisepsis or antibiotics for the resultant infection.  And the fact that urine and menses 'back up', unable to quickly and easily flow out.  Intercourse and giving birth become painful and difficult; a woman usually has to be cut open with a knife, at marriage and for childbirth. - CM

'Clandestine practice.

'Imam Afroz Ali, one religious leader prepared to break the silence, says female genital mutilation is a "clandestine practice".

"I have had people mention it has happened to themselves, it's happened to members of the family or they are aware this is happeningi in Australia", he said.

He should have been asked more questions.   I would have asked him whether he was a Sunni or a Shiite, and which school of sharia he adheres to, and what that school says about FGM. - CM

'It is also common for the women doing the cutting to charge a fee for their services.

"The figure could be around $2,000 to $3,000...the reality is that they are not qualified at all", Mr Ali said.

"These are women from a village who have migrated to Australia and have access to a razor blade and are considered to be an elder or wise person in their community".

And we admit such people into our country.  Women who will chop out a little girl's clitoris with an unsterilised razor blade. - CM

'zarine, who moved to Australia six years ago, comes from a Muslim sect known as the Dawoodi Bohras, who originate in India.

So much for FGM being an 'African' custom...The Dawoodi Bohra are a Shiite-aligned Muslim subgroup, they are mostly found in India today, but in fact their roots are in Yemen. - CM

'In India, female genital mutilation is called traditional cutting.

And I would be very, very surprised if anyone other than Muslims does it, in India. - CM

'Zarine was five when her grandmother told her they were going to the market.  Instead, she was taken to a house where she was pinned down and mutilated.

"There were about three other women there - they were sitting and chatting.  They were from the same community because they were speaking the same language", she said.

"They asked me to take my underwear off...I just wanted to run out of there.  I knew there was something going to happen to me.'

"I don't know if it was two of the women or just one.  She pinned me down with her legs pretty much and I had my legs wide open and one of them was holding my hands behind me.

"I don't remember seeing anything but after that I felt a very sharp pain.  I still remember that.  I still remember that pain".

'Mutilation charges

'Five weeks ago, New South Wales police arrested and charged eight people with the alleged genital mutilation of two girls in Sydney and Wollongong in the past 18 months.  

See our earlier coverage of that story, here:

http://www.newenglishreview.org/blog_display.cfm/blog_id/43892

'The arrests followed an anonymous tip to the office of the NSW Child Protection Minister, Pru Goward.

"The secrecy [with] which this is carried out makes it very difficult for police to collect evidence", Ms Goward said.

'The eight people arrested all belong to the Dawoodi Bohra community in New South Wales.

'The identities of all those arrested have been suppressed (why? - CM) except for one - Kubra Magennis, a 68 year old retired nurse.

"Kubra"?  In other earlier reports that I saw, her first name was given as 'Helen'.  Is she a convert to Islam? - CM

'There are fears the practice of female genital mutilation spreads much wider than this one case suggests.

'In September, West Australian police arrested and charged a couple with female genital mutilation after they allegedly took their daughter to Bali for a traditional cutting ceremony.

'7.20 has also been told that girls are being mutilated in the town of Katanning, 200 kilometres south of Perth, home to a large Malaysian Muslim population.

Indonesian and Malaysian Muslims largely follow the Shafiite school of Sharia, which regards FGM as obligatory. - CM

'Transforming lives'

'At the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne, a discreet clinic is transforming lives by reversing extreme forms of female genital mutilation.

They cannot restore the sliced-off clitoris and labia, but careful surgery can make it easier for the woman to urinate and menstruate.  Waris Dirie in one of her books recounts how a non-Muslim doctor in the UK did this type of surgery on her, and what a wonderful difference it made. - CM

'The clinic sees around 25 women every month.

And I would hazard the guess that Medicare is footing the bill.  Add the trouble and expense of ameliorating the damage done by sharia-sanctioned FGM, to all the other costs incurred as a result of having foolishly permitted the entry into Australia of hundreds of thousands of Muslims. - CM

'Through family planning officers like Zeinab Muhamed, the broader aim in Victoria is to break the cycle of mothers subjecting their daughters to the procedure.

'People tell Ms Muhamed that female genital mutilation is a cultural practice that is hard to move away from.

That is because it is there - uncondemned - in the Hadith and because three schools of Sunni Sharia see nothing wrong with it and the fourth doesn't question or condemn it.  To get an idea of how Muslims approach this matter, see here - a discussion of 'circumcision', and of FGM, by a Muslim doctor resident in the USA.

http://www.jihadwatch.org/2012/05/leading-us-muslim-jurist-female-genital-mutilation-an-honor-in-islam.html

'They say it is women who are pushing it.

"When they tell their story, it's heartbreaking.  These women have been through an experience that we can't even imagine", Ms Muhamed said.

'They spend days after the procedure when they can hardly urinate.  Their legs may have been tied together so the labia actually fuses together".

'Torture'.

'One woman who spoke to 7.30, Samira, has been surgically reopened.

'She says women in Victoria are being stitched closed again after they have given birth, even though it is a criminal offence.

I would like to know whether this is being done by non-Muslim doctors and/ or midwives, by Muslim doctors and/ or midwives, or by nonmedically-qualified members of the Muslim 'community' - CM

'Samira says female genital mutilation is "torture".

Yes.  Sharia-sanctioned torture..  Islamically sanctioned torture. - CM

"I was told whether I wanted to be stitched back up or not and I refused, and [my midwife] said some women insist on being stitched back, so I was quite surprised", she said.

'Samira is strongly against the cutting of young girls but says not everyone in the community agrees.

"I think that a lot of people would still like to do it...they've been brainwashed by their families [who say], 'It's good for you, it's important, it's part of our culture", she said.

'It's part of our culture'.  That is; part of Islam, part of the Sharia.  Pre-Islam, it was only practised in parts of Africa, and some non-Muslim African groups still also practise it; but a large swathe of Islam has absorbed it and perpetuated it and carried it to many places - Indonesia, Malaysia, India, for example - where it was completely unknown prior to the arrival of Islam.  See my note above, about the four schools of Sunni Muslim sharia 'law', one of which teaches that clitoral excision is obligatory, two of which teach that it is sunnah, recommended, and one of which refuses to condemn it.  Further, as I have already pointed out above, the Dawoodi Bohra are aligned with the Shiite stream of Islam, which suggests that there are least some Shiite traditions that also permit the practice.  And anything that a large chunk of Islam - as we see from looking at the Hadiths and the authoritative handbooks of sharia - refuses to condemn, and indeed on more than one occasion requires, or recommends, or approves, is going to be extraordinarily difficult if not impossible for pious Muslims to reject.  - CM

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Posted on 10/29/2012 3:10 PM by Christina McIntosh
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Monday, 29 October 2012
What It's Like Where I Am
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It's like this.
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Posted on 10/29/2012 5:10 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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