Friday, 31 May 2019
In Britain, That “Working Definition” Of “Islamophobia” Just Won’t Work

by Hugh Fitzgerald

There has been heated debate in Great Britain over the “working definition” of “Islamophobia” that has been presented for the government’s adoption by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims. The Independent describes the opposition of British police chiefs here:

“Police leaders have raised concerns that a proposed definition of Islamophobia will undermine counter-terror operations and threaten freedom of speech.

“In a letter to the prime minister, the head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said the change could “undermine many elements of counterterrorism powers and policies” including port stops, bans on terrorist groups and propaganda, and the legal duty requiring schools, councils, and the NHS to report suspected extremism.

“NPCC chair Martin Hewitt said: “We take all reports of hate crime very seriously and will investigate them thoroughly; however, we have some concerns about the proposed definition of ‘Islamophobia’ made by the All-Party Parliamentary Group [APPG] on British Muslims.

“We are concerned that the definition is too broad as currently drafted, could cause confusion for officers enforcing it and could be used to challenge legitimate free speech on the historical or theological actions of Islamic states.

“There is also a risk it could also undermine counterterrorism powers, which seek to tackle extremism or prevent terrorism.

“It is important that any definition of anti-Muslim hostility is widely consulted on and has support across the Muslim community.”

“After a six-month inquiry taking evidence from Muslim organisations, legal experts, academics, MPs and other groups, the APPG called on the government to adopt the definition:

“Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”

The indispensable word here, the word intended to elicit horror and guilt, and to shut down all criticism of Islam and of Muslims, is “racism.” It does not matter that Islam is not a race but a faith, as has been quietly, insistently, repeatedly pointed out. Muslim groups pay no heed; they don’t think they should be asked to explain exactly what they mean when they invoke that fright-word “racism.” Nor do they explain that bizarre neologism “Muslimness.”

“The definition was proposed in November and has since been adopted by the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the London mayor’s office.

“A government spokesperson said it would consider the change last year, but Theresa May is now expected to reject the definition. A minister is to attend a debate on the issue in the House of Commons on Thursday [May 16]..

“Assistant commissioner Neil Base, the head of UK counterterror policing, said police chiefs were not consulted by the APPG and want to see a definition that “satisfies all” while protecting hate crime victims.

“The definition of Islamophobia proposed by the APPG on British Muslims is simply too broad to be effective and it risks creating confusion, representing what some might see as legitimate criticism of the tenets of Islam – a religion – as a racist hate crime, which cannot be right for a liberal democracy in which free speech is also a core value,” he said.

“As it stands, this definition risks shutting down debate about any interpretation of the tenets of Islam which are at odds with our laws and customs, which in turn would place our police officers and members of the judicial system in an untenable position.

“Despite the fact it would be non-legally binding, it would potentially allow those investigated by police and the security services for promoting extremism, hate and terrorism to legally challenge any investigation and potentially undermine many elements of counterterrorism powers and policies on the basis that they are ‘Islamophobic’. That cannot be allowed to happen.”

“The Independent understands that police chiefs had hoped to discuss concerns over the definition behind closed doors, and intended the letter to the prime minister to be private before it was leaked to The Times.

“The APPG’s report said the lack of an official definition was hampering efforts to counter Islamophobia, harming Muslims and wider British society.

“The aim of establishing a working definition of Islamophobia has neither been motivated by, nor is intended to curtail, free speech or criticism of Islam as a religion,” it [the APPG} added.

Nonsense. The term “Islamophobia” was invented precisely in order to inhibit free speech. It provides a way to undermine legitimate islamocriticism, which is a different thing from an “irrational hatred of Islam and Muslims,” by tarring it as “islamophobia.”

“No open society can place religion above criticism and we do not subscribe to the view that a working definition of Islamophobia can or should be formulated with the purpose of protecting Islam from free and fair criticism or debate.”

“War is deceit,” said Mohammed, and the very people who are disingenuously insisting that “no open society can place religion above criticism,” by calling that “religion” a “race” in their “working definition of Islamophobia,”are doing just that — attempting to place Islam above criticism.

“But a report by the former head of the Metropolitan Police counter-terror command, Richard Walton, said the definition would “seriously undermine the effectiveness of the UK’s counterterrorism strategy, putting the country at greater risk from Islamist terrorism.”

A definition of “Islamophobia” as broad and vague — what is “Muslimness”? — as the one presented by the APPG and their collaborators will, if adopted, be used as a weapon, invoked against the police by those being investigated for terrorism.

“Lord Carlile, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said the definition had ‘left a demonstrably open field for damaging and even absurd conclusions.’”

“Successful and accepted counter-terrorism measures would run the risk of being declared unlawful,” he added. “The APPG definition would lead to judicial review litigation that would hold back the evolution of better counterterrorism law and practice hand in hand with strengthened religious tolerance.”

Think of how that working definition could be used to attack the police as harboring “racist” — that is, “islamophobic”– views, supposedly reflected in their choice of people, organizations, and neighborhoods to investigate. How many suits would be brought, charging the police with “islamophobia,” that would complicate and hamper the police in their counter-terror work/

“Baroness Warsi, a Conservative peer and member of the APPG on British Muslims, called the claims “extraordinary and disturbing.”

“The report makes clear that the definition does not seek to protect or stop criticism of Islam – to suggest it would is disingenuous and divisive,” she wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

“The inability of senior police officers to understand how Islamophobia – the plethora of everyday micro-aggressions impacting British Muslims – is not the same as hate crime shows a worrying lack of understanding of the communities they seek to police.”

Baroness Warsi called claims that authorities would risk being taken to judicial review using the definition “completely untrue and irresponsible scaremongering.”

What are those “everyday micro-aggressions” that Baroness Warsi claims British Muslims must endure? Could she describe them, that purported “plethora,” and offer us evidence of their frequency? And while she is on the subject of micro-aggressions, should we not remind her of the dozens of macro-aggressions committed by Muslims? Think of the 7/7 terror attacks, the murder of Drummer Rigby, the killings on Westminster Bridge, the bombs at the Manchester Arena. Think of the British Muslims who went of to join ISIS in its campaign of murder of non-Muslims, and from Iraq and Syria made videos taunting the British Infidels. And what about the macro-aggressions against thousands of white, non-Muslim English girls, inflicted by the many Muslim grooming gangs that operated with impunity for so long in a dozen British cities? How do those stack up compared to the “micro-aggressions” against Muslims which so horrify Baroness Warsi?

“Naz Shah, Labour’s shadow equalities minister, accused the Conservative Party of being “in denial about Islamophobia and other forms of racism in its ranks.”

Naz Shah can describe this putative “Islamophobia” all she wants as a “form of racism,” but repetition is not evidence. Every time this is said, the proper reply is this: “Islamophobia is a word that has been invented to mislabel islamocriticism. Its goal is to shut down such criticism, to stifle free speech whenever that speech includes something negative having to do with Islam or with Muslims.

“If Ms May refuses to adopt the definition of Islamophobia, the message she sends to the Muslim community will be heard loud and clear,” she added.

The only message Prime Minister May would be sending is that the government will not be bullied into submission by Muslims claiming victimhood (that claimed “plethora of micro aggressions”), and will not adopt the “working definition” of Islamophobia if in the opinion of the police that will make their work combatting Muslim extremism and terrorism even more hellishly difficult than it already is.

“[The NPCC letter] shows a worrying trend of seeing British Muslims through the lens of terror and security, and the prime minister must distance herself from this immediately.”

It would be strange if the National Police Chiefs Council did not see some British Muslims through “the lens of terror and security,” for that is their business: to identify, investigate, and foil would-be terrorists. Naz Shah’s bullying tone — “if Mrs. May refuses…” and “the prime minister must distance herself from this [the NPCC letter] immediately”– is characteristically offensive.

The refusal of the British government to adopt the Muslim-concocted “working definition” of “Islamophobia” has enraged many Muslims. How regrettable. That refusal is, in fact, a welcome sign of political sanity. May it be a harbinger of harder decisions still to come.

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 05/31/2019 6:43 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 30 May 2019
John Lukacs, R.I.P.: The American Who Understood Europe

He never resented disagreement, was always good-natured in debate, and was a delightful companion.

by Conrad Black

John Lukacs, who died last week at 95, was one of America’s outstanding historians, and one of the most prolific historians in the Western world in the last 60 years. A native of Hungary, he fled the Communist Soviet puppet regime in that country shortly after World War II and was a history professor at a small Roman Catholic women’s college (Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia) for 47 years (1947–1994), the first 27 of those years as chairman of the history department. He lived at Valley Forge and wrote some perceptive analyses of the place of the United States in the world and of European views of America, and even speculated on how the United States might evolve. But his greatest contribution, and it was a very significant one, was as an interpreter of modern European history. As a new American who did not often venture far or lengthily into America, he avoided the temptation of entering too actively into the crowded field of American history. But as a highly cultured and multi-lingual European, he was for nearly half a century one of the leading American commentators on contemporary European history.

He styled himself “a reactionary,” but that was unnecessarily self-demeaning. He was animated by a European skepticism that was always at some variance with the general American tendency to regard even improbable objectives as attainable. And he was not perceptibly made more confident of the potential for American intervention to effect change in other continents by the scale of activity and economic and industrial might of the United States, though he was always grateful and respectful of the fact that that scale, which the world had never before imagined to be possible, enabled the United States to come to the rescue of Europe three times in the 20th century, two witnessed by him.

John Lukacs, though more European than American in outlook, was no less a patriotic and proud American, and reconciled in his own views enlightened syntheses of the American and European historical experiences. He was a close friend of American diplomat and foreign-policy theorist George F. Kennan, generally considered the principal architect of the containment strategy that ultimately led to western victory in the Cold War. He shared with Kennan a wariness of any American effort to extend its influence beyond what was necessary to U.S. national security and foreign-policy goals that were attainable at acceptable cost. But he never underestimated what America had done for the Europe he always revered and somewhat romanticized (including in a moving and brilliant memoir of turn-of-the-century Budapest, his native city).

He once told me that when he appeared at the federal building in Valley Forge during the Korean War to hand in his income-tax return, the official who received it said that of all the scores of people who had appeared in the last couple of days for the same purpose, John Lukacs was the only one who was smiling, and asked the reason for that. John replied that he was a refugee from Hungary, that he knew what the United States had done for the defeat of Nazism and fascism and the deterrence of international Communism, and that he calculated that his modest income might yield enough tax revenue to buy one shell for the main armament of an Iowa-class battleship and he was proud to provide it.

John’s particular hero was Winston Churchill, an eminently worthy subject of such admiration, even if he tended to ascribe to Mr. Churchill more of John’s own views than the great British prime minister actually espoused. One of the last times I saw John Lukacs was when he was accompanying Sir Winston’s daughter, Mary Soames, to Budapest for the dedication of Churchill Square in that city. He believed Winston Churchill was the preeminent European statesman of the 20th century, and we had many lengthy and entirely cordial exchanges in which I suggested that Churchill tried to straddle between Europe, the Commonwealth, and the United States in a way that was beyond Britain’s strategic post-war competence, though I yielded nothing to him in my admiration of Sir Winston. As a Roosevelt biographer, I had, to some degree, a natural rivalry with him in the attribution of credit for the deliverance of the West in World War II; there was plenty of credit for both.

Of his many works, over 30 books published over nearly 60 years, I believe John Lukacs’s greatest historical observations were of the narrow margin of Churchill’s victory in the war cabinet for the policy of resistance to the Nazis in late May 1940 as the evacuation from Dunkirk was proceeding (Five Days in London, May 1940); and in the  probable reasons for Hitler’s invasion of Russia in 1941 (The Hitler of History). As the evacuation from Dunkirk of 338,000 British and French soldiers succeeded, former prime minister Neville Chamberlain and the Labour-party leaders rallied to Churchill against the preferred policy of the foreign secretary, Lord Halifax, to attempt a negotiated peace. It was one of the decisive moments of world history, researched and described  by Lukacs concisely, and with gripping drama. The Hitler of History went farther than any previous book in situating Hitler in German cultural history and reasoned that Hitler was advised by his astute ambassador in Washington, Hans Dieckhoff, that Roosevelt would seek a third term and would arrange a naval incident to get into war with Hitler when he was ready.

Roosevelt withdrew his ambassador from Berlin after the Kristallnacht outrages against German Jews in 1938, and Hitler responded in kind. But when Roosevelt did seek and win a third term, gave the British 50 destroyers, imposed peacetime conscription for the first time in American history, extended American territorial waters from three to 1,800 miles, ordered the U.S. Navy to attack any German ship on detection, and then passed the Lend-Lease Act offering the British and Canadians anything they wanted on relaxed repayment terms, Hitler had some reason to believe that he would soon be at war with America. In these circumstances, it made some sense for Hitler to imagine that if he was facing war in the west with Britain and America, Stalin might be induced to stab him in the back — but if he could flatten Russia first and then commit his entire strength to the defense of the German European fortress, the Anglo-Americans might have to acquiesce in German domination of most of Europe.

It was an immense gamble, but his whole career had been based on such gambles, and this would be the last time he would have to risk everything on a bold stroke. This analysis of Hitler’s strategic reasoning was the first sensible explanation of his thinking. His book was controversial because it placed less emphasis than is customary on the attempted destruction of the Jews, and also because of his attack on David Irving and other Nazi apologists. (The Yale University Press in the U.K. was so intimidated by Irving’s threats to litigate, I had to indemnify them against such a suit to get the book published in Britain at all. No litigation occurred.)

He called himself a “reactionary” because he was a traditionalist and a persuasive advocate of the necessity of historical knowledge to make any sense out of most things, and because he lamented the transformation of science into a false religion and the over-commercialization of economic progress, and was viewed  as curmudgeonly. He was, in fact, unimpressed with much that was modern but not a pessimist; he never resented disagreement, was always good-natured in debate, and was a delightful companion. He was an important historian of great integrity and originality, and certainly one of the greatest American historians of modern Europe. He will be long and gratefully remembered by all who knew him, and his death will not interrupt the natural and meritorious rise of his reputation and importance.

First published in National Review Online.

Posted on 05/30/2019 7:07 AM by Conrad Black
Thursday, 30 May 2019
Anjem Choudary dined with London Bridge terrorist at least three times while on bail for drumming up support for IS but police did not investigate the link

From the Ilford Recorder

Khuram Butt, 27, became friends with his "idol" who was the former leader of the banned group ALM before his marriage in December 2013 - and would campaign alongside him and other fanatics, an inquest heard on Wednesday, May 29.

On June 3 2017, Butt and two other extremists launched a van and knife attack on London Bridge and Borough Market which left eight people dead and 48 others injured.

A lawyer for the victims questioned why Choudary was not investigated by counter-terrorism police for encouraging Butt to carry out the atrocity.

Butt went to Choudary's Ilford home for dinner at least twice - and the attacker hosted him at his east London home once, the inquest was told.

The father-of-two also met Mizanur Rahman, who was convicted alongside Choudary in 2016 of inviting support for Islamic State.

Mr Patterson said: "So it looks as though Butt was visiting at the home address of Choudary at a time when he was released on bail on suspicion of terrorist offences."

Acting Detective Chief Inspector Wayne Jolley, who investigated the attackers, replied: "Yes, Sir. That would be correct."

Mr Jolley agreed Mr Raza's statement appeared to suggest Choudary had encouraged Butt. But he said it was "hearsay evidence", adding: "We would look to seek an evidential case before we put it to the Crown Prosecution Service. . . .We did not arrest Anjem Choudary during this investigation."

The attacker's sister Haleema Butt also told police he "idolised" Choudary.

The inquests continue.

Posted on 05/30/2019 5:23 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 30 May 2019
The Two Roads: Referendum or Representative Democracy

by Michael Curtis

Winston Churchill said it in the House of Commons on November 11, 1947, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms.” He had earlier remarked, in the House, on December 8, 1944 that the foundation of democracy was the citizen “putting his cross on the ballot paper in strict secrecy.” He did not deal with the difference between that cross being exercised by direct democracy, the opportunity to vote directly on policy issues, or by representative government. Europe has recently dealt with and still faces the dilemma of the two political roads that diverged but were both taken on this issue.

The experience of representative government was shown in the European Parliament election in May 2019 which had a mixed result. It showed the survival but decline in popularity of the traditional mainstream center right and center left parties, and the increase in support for Far Right and Green parties. The result is a more fragmented European parliament, the need for a broader coalition for decisions to be reached, and political uncertainty and instability in deciding on senior positions, leadership in the European Commission, European Central Bank, and European Council, in the EU, and future battles over significant issues, the eurozone, migration, climate change, relations with the U.S. and Russia, and Brexit. 

It is the Brexit issue, based on referendum, that has led to the present expression of the increasing polarization of European opinion. Now that the new political party, led by Nigel Farage a new party only two months old, obtained 31% of the vote in the EP election, it is an issue that calls not only for likelihood of changes in the British political world, but also a reexamination of a neglected issue of the electoral system, the method by which the will of the people is expressed. 

It may be too strong to say that the metaphor of mighty oaks from little acorns grow is a precise image of British politics today, but the success of Brexit is a commentary on the danger of direct voting by the population on political issues. The advocates of Brexit, the simple question of membership of the EU, have pushed all other issues into the background, but offered no solution how to escape the consequences of how its objective is to be achieved. 

At the core of the problem is the method by which the “will of the people” is to be expressed in democratic systems. On December 10, 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which stated, Article 21, that “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government.” This will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections…which shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures. The Declaration can be regarded as the milestone document in the history of human rights in suggesting a common standard for all peoples and nations. But it left open both the nature of the genuine elections and how they should be conducted, and the reality of a social contract by which individuals consent to submit to authority in exchange for protection and the maintenance of a social order. 

An acceptable working definition is that democracy in a country is sustained by consent of the people, and that legitimacy of rule is based on consent. The fundamental question is whether the people make or approve the rules directly or through some form of representation. 

Direct action is a referendum or plebiscite, binding or advisory, that occurs when the whole electorate of a particular political unit, country or region, votes on a specific proposal of legislation, or initiative. It can be binding or advisory. It is an expression of direct democracy, in contrast to representative democracy. It has been most often used in Switzerland, which has had 600 votes since 1848. In the U.S. the device has not been used in a national referendum, but has been used most frequently in California with votes on taxes and budget. This in itself can be seen as failure of the political system since referenda are often used because politicians could not agree on the issue. 

The case for direct democracy was forcefully made by Jean-Jacques Rousseau who held that “the will” cannot be represented: “Were there a people of gods, their government would be democratic. So perfect a government is not for men.” But the idea of a will based on referendum instead of representation by elected officials is troublesome for a number of reasons. Even Rousseau conceded that direct democracy, a plebiscite, is not feasible beyond a small territorial area and a small number of people. A second problem is that a vote may be the outcome of momentary of genuine or manufactured crisis enthusiasm rather than on genuine and serious reflection. Third, a direct vote may , and has led to an undemocratic conclusion; witnesses are the votes for Benito Mussolini, yes or no on a list of deputies nominated by the Grand Council of Fascism, in 1934, for Adolf Hitler, military occupation of the Rhineland, in 1936, and Ferdinand Marcos 1973, who used referenda to ratify the 1975 constitution and approve actions such as the closing of Congress.

The danger of majority rule was pointed out by James Madison who was concerned for protection of the rights of minorities, while acknowledging that the majority of representatives in a body had the right to speak for the whole.  In his letter of October 24, 1787 to Thomas Jefferson he expressed concern that a majority, united by a common interest or a passion may oppress the minority. The tyranny of the majority, therefore, could only be prevented by a system of checks and balances, or by revolution as the ultimate remedy in extreme cases of government tyranny. 

Britain is a country of representative democracy, on the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty, but it has had referenda in 1975, 2011, and 2016, all on single issues. In 1975 the country voted on the non-binding proposal, “Do you think the UK should stay in the European Community (Common Market)?” In a turnout of 64% the result was affirmative, 67.23% to 32.7%. In 2011 a vote in a turnout of 42% was on “Should the “alternative vote” system be used instead of the present first past the post system?” The only UK national referendum on a domestic issue, it  was defeated, 32.1% no to 67.9% yes.

The present political issue stems from a pledge made in January 2013 and again in November 26, 2013 in an article in The Financial Times by the then Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, under pressure from some of his Conservative party members and by the Ukip, that he would call a referendum on the EU. If the Tories won the general election he would renegotiate the UK relationship with the EU and then give the people the simple choice between Remaining or Leaving. 

The referendum that has come to be called  Brexit took place  on June 23, 2016 on the simple question, “Should UK Remain or Leave the EU.” In a 72% turnout, the vote was for leaving, 51.9% to 48.11%. Though it was non-binding, the government promised to implement the result. PM David Cameron, who had initiated the referendum and campaigned for Remain, resigned as a result of the loss. 

The young in the electorate tended to support Remain. There was no apparent gender split. Regions differed, Greater London, 69-40, and Scotland, 62-38, were strongly for Remain. Wales was for Leave. However, the vote was on a simple issue of membership of EU, not on terms of exit, nor on future relations with EU countries after leaving. The following two years have been painful for UK, and for the EU too, with the countless differences over the economic effects of Leave, in terms of jobs that might be lost or gained, or trade, of taxes, or immigration, and its effect on public services, schools and hospitals.

Because of the strong feeling on the issue, in a sense the referendum in Britain can be said to have been more about immigration, than about the EU. All, in the U.S. as well as in Europe, recognize that immigration is a thorny issue which has no easy solution. It is not an issue for a referendum but one that must be resolved by representative democracy. 

Posted on 05/30/2019 4:31 AM by Michael Curtis
Thursday, 30 May 2019
Canada: Christians Muzzled While Islamists Get Funding

Raheel Raza writes in the Clarion Project:

A  proposed law in Canada will result in Christians muzzled. Meanwhile Islamists (including those tied to terrorists) get government funding.

These days we wake up every day to disturbing news in both the U.S. and Canada.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) recently released a report titled: Hijacked by Hate: American Philanthropy and the Islamophobia Network in which it claims “hate groups” have used American charities to propagate a message of anti-Muslim bigotry.

According to this report, any critique of Islamism and Islamist activities is deemed racism and bigotry (i.e., “Islamophobic”). This includes any and all legitimate criticism of extremism, terrorism and jihad. According to CAIR, it’s all racism.

Meanwhile in Canada, MP Iqra Khalid — the architect of the divisive M103, the anti-“Islamophobia” motion — announced less than a year ago that the Trudeau Government (due in part to her hard work) would invest $23 million into a multiculturalism program.

The catch:  What is this “multiculturalism program?” Much to our horror, the two groups who are among the recipients of the program’s money are:

If the two above pieces of news were not disturbing enough, there is more troubling news: Legislation has been proposed in the Canadian province of Ontario that would criminalize public displays by Christians deemed hateful to Muslims, the LGBT community and other victim groups designated by the Left.

The bill, Prohibiting Hate-Promoting Demonstrations at Queen’s Park Act, 2019, bans any demonstration, rally or other activity on the grounds of the Ontario Legislative Building that is deemed hateful by the Speaker. The word “hateful” is not defined.

What does this mean in practical terms? Islamists can get a free pass to celebrate a hate fest called Al-Quds Day in a public space, while Christians, who are the most persecuted faith in the world today, are muzzled. There is horrendous persecution of Christians and their places of worship in many parts of the Muslim world, yet if this bill passes, it will be illegal to address this publicly in Ontario.

I have seen ethnic groups get special status, but it amazes me and boggles the mind that one faith always receives special accommodation. And I thought coming to Canada was about freedom of speech and expression.

Have we not learned anything from Europe? The European Court of Human Rights recently became the enforcer of sharia blasphemy laws. The court declared in a ruling that defaming the Islamic prophet Mohammed was prohibited and exceeds the permissible limits of free speech in Europe. (This is in contrast to a ruling by the same court which allowed the insulting of Christianity in 2012.)

If we don’t want to end up with Europe’s level of “free speech,” we must challenge these divide-and-conquer policies to ensure they will not reach their objectives.

This will only happen when Americans and Canadians stand up together and speak out against these tactics.

Posted on 05/30/2019 4:09 AM by Geoffrey Clarfield
Wednesday, 29 May 2019
Mueller's Odd Press Conference

by Gary Fouse

Wednesday's press conference by Robert Mueller is raising questions and speculation from both sides of the political spectrum  especially as to whether President Trump could have been charged with obstruction.  Mueller certainly dropped a nugget for the CNN and MSNBC talking heads when he stated:

"And as set forth in the report after that investigation, if we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.

We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime. The introduction to the volume two of our report explains that decision. It explains that under long-standing Department policy, a President cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that too is prohibited. The special counsel’s office is part of the Department of Justice and by regulation it was bound by that Department policy. Charging the president with a crime was, therefore, not an option we could consider."

Under normal circumstances, what would have been more proper for a prosecutor to say is something along these lines:

"If we had confidence that the President clearly committed a crime, we would have said so"

Instead, in my view, Mueller wanted his listeners to infer that but for the Justice Department policy that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime, he would have charged President Trump with obstruction (even though he could not determine that Trump or members of his campaign were guilty of collusion -the underlying crime-with the Russians in their meddling of the 2016 presidential election).

So he threw out a nugget for the Democrat members of the House to chew on as they (possibly) move to impeach the President.

Speaking as a retired federal agent (Drug Enforcement Administration) and having worked with countless prosecutors from the Department of Justice, I can say emphatically that when a person is not going to be charged with a crime, it is unethical for a prosecutor to go out and publicly insinuate that the person actually did commit crimes. If you have the evidence, you indict. If you don't, you don't indict, and you say nothing other than we don't have a case. Period.

And to be fair, when James Comey gave his famous press conference in July 2016 announcing the conclusion of the Hillary Clinton e-mail case, he did two things wrong (aside from usurping the role of the prosecutors at the Justice Department): First, he laid out what seemed to be a pretty solid case against Ms. Clinton before then stating incredibly that no reasonable prosecutor would bring charges. Secondly, if he really felt that way, he should not have laid out the case against her in such detail.

At the same time, Mueller made it pretty clear that he has no desire to testify before Congress, basically saying that he would add nothing to what he has already stated. Mueller knows that he would be facing hardball questions from both Republicans and Democrats about the conduct of his investigation and findings. No doubt Mueller really wants to walk away from this whole thing altogether and leave it to Congress to deal with it-without him.

And isn't it interesting that the whole affair of Russian meddling in our election-which few doubt- all took place during President Barack Obama's watch? They learned it was going on in 2014 and did nothing. Why aren't the self righteous Democrats yelling about that? Where is the press?

As for Mueller, in my view, this latest event cements my perception of him as a truly enigmatic figure. While I am pleased that there were no charges, it remains that after investigating Trump for two years, he walks off the stage leaving everybody arguing over what he really determined as to the question of obstruction. Altogether, not a good performance in my view. Unfortunately, I don't think we have heard the last of Robert Mueller.

Posted on 05/29/2019 5:54 PM by Gary Fouse
Wednesday, 29 May 2019
Syrian Opposition Leader Wants To Normalize Relations With Israel

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Fahad Almasri, the leader of the National Salvation Front — an opposition group in Syria — who has lived in France for 24 years, in mid-May spoke openly to The Media Line about relations with Israel in a post-Assad Syria.

His story can be found here:

“Though most Syrians oppose normalizing relations with Israel and reject efforts toward establishing diplomatic ties, that has not stopped Syrian opposition leader Fahad Almasri from seeking an opportunity to open communication channels with Israel.

“Almasri, founder and leader of the National Salvation Front in Syria (NSF), told The Media Line that he would like the Syrian and Israeli people to live side-by-side in peace and to become business partners. He describes himself as a staunch opponent of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and an alternative leader to Assad’s rule.

“We have the courage and the open political vision. The reason is: the… change that has occurred in Syrian society. [This change] led to the reevaluation of all concepts and values and the fall of slogans,” Almasri says.

Almasri is no doubt impressed with Israel’s tremendous economic success, especially as the “Start-Up Nation,”capable of competing in high tech as an equal to such nations as France, Germany, and the U.K. A Syrian patriot, Almasri sees Israel as a conceivable business partner.

“Syria and Israel are technically in a state of war since 1948, and the two countries have never established diplomatic relations. Following Israel’s War of Independence, the two have faced off in two additional wars, the first in 1967 and the second in 1973.

“Almasri says the time has come for this to change.

“We must recognize that Israel is an important regional state, a fact that exists whether recognized by regional and Arab parties or not. Israel is an internationally recognized state and is supported by all the nations of the world,” he told The Media Line.

It’s not quite true that Israel is “supported by all the nations of the world.” But it is true that Israel is recognized by almost all the non-Muslim nations, that it is supported –to the hilt — by the most important nation, the United States, that even several Muslim states, including Oman and Chad, have reached out to Israel (with Chad re-establishing diplomatic relations that had ended in 1972), and that Israel, which has the most powerful military in the Middle East, already collaborates closely on intelligence with three of the most important Arab countries — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates – – that share Israel’s hostility to Hamas, the Islamic State, and Iran.

“Syria has always championed the Palestinian cause and Damascus has consistently tied the Golan Heights – an area internationally recognized as occupied by Israel – with resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But Almasri says a lot has changed since the eruption of the conflict in Syria in 2011.

Note what Almasri does not say. He does not repeat the usual Syrian phrases about how the ‘Golan will forever be Syrian territory.” He does not say anything to reaffirm Syria’s commitment to the Palestinian cause. He does say, instead, that “a lot has changed” since 2011, when the civil war in Syria began.

“After all the destruction that happened in Syria, is the problem of the Syrian people [really] the Palestinian issue, especially since the Palestinians themselves have entered into negotiations with the Israeli state? The Palestinian problem is at another turning point,” he said.

He sounds ready to give up altogether on the Palestinian issue,, which is not the ”problem of the Syrian people , asking rhetorically if that should be of concern to the Syrian people, when so much of their country has been destroyed, and so much needs to be reconstructed.

“Consequently, the Syrian people paid more than 80 years of their livelihood, security, stability and political life, which was absent as a result of slogans and trafficking in the suffering of the Palestinian people.”

The Syrian participation in every major war against Israel, in 1948-49, 1967, and 1973, has cost it men, money, and materiel. So has its support for various Palestinian terror groups. The Syrian people have sacrificed, during the past 80 years, in damage to their livelihoods, security, stability, and political life” in order to attend to the Palestinian issue. Almasri thinks that has been quite enough. As far as he is concerned,Syria need sacrifice no more; the Palestinians are on their own.Syria has paid heavily and what has it gotten in return from the Palestinians? Nothing. Almasri, the leader of an opposition group, must be inwardly enraged that most Palestinians have supported Assad in the civil war, no doubt because of Syria’s support for the Palestinian cause, but that Palestinian support is regarded as a sign of colossal ingratitude to the Syrian people who fought for eight years against the Assad regime’s dictatorship.

“A Palestinian official who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the matter told The Media Line that the Palestinian leadership had a good relationship with Damascus and don’t want to spoil it. But he was critical of Almasri.”

.?“These are groups created by Israel and the United States that have a relationship with them,” the Palestinian official said. “These groups, which call themselves the opposition, are part of a project hostile to Arab causes and have reached the level of agents for the occupation. The Palestinians want a strong and united Syria, and Syria will emerge from its crisis as soon as possible.”

This conspiracy theorist, unwilling to concede that, as a Syrian nationalist, Almasri might indeed have good reason to have lost interest in the endless Palestinian problem, chooses to believe that he and his opposition group were created by “Israel and the United States.” One more preposterous conspiracy theory; it’s too painful for that Palestinian to recognize that Almasri, and many others in the Syrian opposition, are fed up with the Palestinians and want to focus solely on rebuilding their nation. Israel and the United States have nothing to do with it.

“Last month, Almasri’s group launched the national initiative “Hope,” calling on the Israeli government to ease travel restrictions on the Syrian Druze in the Golan Heights to visit relatives in Syria as part of a more comprehensive plan.

“In the first phase… the people of the Golan have to come to Syria. In the second stage of the initiative, the Jewish Syrians, whether they live in Israel and hold Israeli identity or live in the Diaspora, have the right to visit their country and take care of their property and their cultural, historical and humanitarian heritage in Syria,” Almasri told The Media Line. “The ball is now in the Israeli court.”

What is of note here is that Almasri is not asking that Israel give up any part of the Golan; he merely wants the Druze on the Golan to be able to visit their relatives in Syria. And he would like Syrian Jews living in Israel and elsewhere in the West to be able to visit Syria, to “take care of their property and their cultural, historical, and humanitarian heritage.” He is recognizing, it seems, that Jews left behind considerable property when they fled Syria, and it sounds as if he thinks they have a right to have iy restored to them (else why would he write that they will be able to “take care of their property”?). He also recognizes that Syrian Jews left their mark on the country, with their “cultural, historical, and humanitarian heritage.” While some Muslims would undoubtedly wish to deny any cultural or historical contributions by Jews to Syria, and would willingly destroy all remaining physical evidence of Syrian Jewry, Almasry is hoping that these former Syrian Jews and their descendants will return to “take care” – that is, to pay for the restoration and upkeep of formerJewish buildings: synagogues, libraries, community centers, even houses of prominent Syrian Jews. He would like the history of Syria’s Jews to be preserved, not destroyed, and he is making an appeal for support of this task to the Syrian Jews who left the country, and to their descendants.

‘The Syrian opposition figure says he is in touch with Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif, the spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel.

“Tarif told The Media Line that he’s a religious man and doesn’t “interfere” in Syria’s internal politics, but he did support the initiative put forth by the NSF.

“These are humanitarian requests to help the Syrians in the Golan Heights contact their families in Syria just like it was before the war. We are fully behind it,” Tarif said.

“Almasri also claims that his group has been in direct communication with Israeli officials. In fact, he says that a delegation from his group was in Israel during the week of May 6, meeting with Israelis.

“We sent a message to the Israeli government and to [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu,” he stated. “We hope that this initiative will receive the attention of Mr. Netanyahu because it will be an initial humanitarian initiative toward the rapprochement between Syria and Israel.”

Almasri says he is also in close contact with Israel Katz, Israeli minister of transportation, minister of intelligence and acting foreign minister. The goal of the meeting was to establish close relations with the Israeli government, he said.

“We want to search for the strategic interests of the Syrian people, and the strategic interests of the Syrian people require [us] to enter into understandings with the Israeli state for the benefit of the Syrian people. The Syrian people want peace, they want to live in safety, they want a broad horizon for development, they want to rebuild Syria,” he stated.

The Syrian people for 80 years sacrificed their wellbeing on the altar of the Palestinian cause. Now, according to Almasri, they want little to do with it. Emerging from a civil war, they want “peace” and to “live in safety” — which includes not just an end to the civil war, but also no more wars with Israel — and want a “broad horizon for development.”This surely includes the possibility of economic development through cooperation with Israel, which has the most advanced economy in the entire region. All this is what the “strategic interests” of the Syrian people require.

“Almasri also claims he met in Paris with Yuval Rabin, chairman of the Israeli Peace Initiative and son of assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. He says these meetings are just an example of many he regularly holds with Israeli officials, discussing numerous topics, among them Iran, the Palestinians and terrorism.

‘Normalization between Arab states and Israel is a touchy subject. Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab states that have peace treaties and diplomatic ties with Israel, and Almasri knows his attempts at forging relations with a state that many Arabs still view as an enemy will not sit well with them.

“We do not care about the criticism of others; we are concerned about the strategic interest of the Syrian people,” he told The Media Line. “The Syrian people have been left to kill and slaughter [each other] for more than eight years, and the Arab countries are all watching and investing in Syrian blood, and have contributed to the continuation of this tragedy and turned it into a war of attrition.”

“The Media Line reached out to the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and the country’s Foreign Ministry for a response. Both declined to speak on the matter, saying instead in a text message: “We are not making any comments on the issue to the media.”

“Almasri says he won’t stop till he meets with the Israeli prime minister, and he has a message for him.

“We say to Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu that we congratulate you on your victory once again with the confidence of the Israeli people. With the beginning of your mandate, we hope for your new government to have a new, courageous and constructive regional vision toward Syria and the Syrian people,” Almasri said.

“Still, he admits he doesn’t speak for all Syrians and that the idea of having contact with Israel is controversial for many. But Almasri says he has a vision for a future Syria. In order for that vision to become a reality, he said, the eight-year conflict must end and reconciliation needs to take place.

And he foresees the possibility of turning Syria, a “confrontation” state against Israel since 1948, for 80 years implacable in its enmity, into a peaceful neighbor of the Jewish state, eager to collaborate with it in economic development.. And the first step would be inviting Syrian Jews and their descendants to take part in restoring their “cultural, historic, and humanitarian heritage”– a recognition that Jews have been an important part of Syria’s history for two millennia.

Al Masri is a Syrian patriot, aghast at what has been done to his country during the civil war, and horrified, too, at what Syria has sacrificed for the Palestinian cause over the past 80 years.He keeps stressing that a “turning point” has been reached with the Palestinians, meaning that Syria will no longer allow itself to be railroaded into further sacrificing for the Palestinian cause. As a Syrian patriot, Almasri sees Israel not as a permanent enemy, but as a potential business partner for Syria. He’s aware that many Syrians, raised on a steady diet of anti-Israel propaganda their entire lives, may have difficulty accepting what he sees as a commonsensical approach to Syria’s successful, powerful, dynamic, and potentially most helpful southern neighbor. Nonetheless, he remains sanguine about the future acceptance by Syrians of such a policy. The 80 years of sacrifice for the Palestinians have brought Syrians only expense, defeat, humiliation, and misery. Now it’s time to try something new, Almasri suggests, a distancing from the Palestinian issue, and a rapprochement with Israel, for the sake of the Syrians themselves.

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 05/29/2019 4:38 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 29 May 2019
Isis 'Beatle' Alexanda Kotey admits involvement in London drive-by shooting terror plot

From the London Evening Standard

An Isis fighter and member of the terror gang known as “The Beatles” has confessed to helping arrange a plot to kill soldiers and police officers in drive-by shootings in London. Alexanda Kotey, who has been detained by Kurdish forces for the past 16 months, has for the first time spoken about his involvement in the 2014 plot.

British terrorists Tarik Hassane and Suhaib Majeed were handed life sentences over for concocting the terror plot while in secret communication with terrorists in Syria.

Kotey, speaking to ITV News, has now admitted helping to organise the plan and that Hassane was “following his orders” and even helped to buy the gun which was to be used. He told the broadcaster: “I was the one who talked to him and I was the one who arranged for him to have a gun with a silencer.”

The plot involved killing soldiers and police officers in drive-by shootings at Shepherd's Bush police station and the Parachute Regiment Territorial Army Barracks at White City in London.

In the same interview, Kotey recalled his time as a hostage-keeper while part of the terror gang known as "The Beatles". 

Kotey and Elsheikh have been stripped of their British citizenship and the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was "insufficient evidence" to prosecute them in the UK. Photograph above, Kotey is to the left. 

The pair are accused of belonging to a cell which also included Mohammed Emwazi - known as "Jihadi John" - who was killed in a US air strike in 2015, and Aine Davis, who has been jailed in Turkey.

The group is suspected of involvement in the beheading of 27 people, including British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning and US citizens Mr Foley, Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig

Posted on 05/29/2019 4:02 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 28 May 2019
Ilford hate preacher Anjem Choudary 'energised' Barking London Bridge terrorist, inquest hears

From the Ilford Recorder and the Telegraph.

According to a friend, Khuram Butt, 27, of Barking (below) was like a "lion out of a cage" in the company of the al-Muhajiroun leader in the months leading up to the terrorist incident on June 3, 2017.

His decent into radicalisation even caused a family member to report his extremist views to an anti-terrorism hotline two years before he killed eight people and injured 48 more in a van and knife attack with Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22.The London Bridge attacker was believed to have had links to al-Muhajiroun and even appeared on a Channel 4 documentary called The Jihadis Next Door in 2016.

A friend of the terrorist, Hamza Raza, told investigators Butt first came into contact with Choudary at around that time (2015). “He met Choudary when he had gone round to Butt's home once during the Ramadan period,” Jonathan Hough QC, counsel to the inquiry, said.

It wasn't the first time Butt had manages to slip through the net and in 2016 he was employed by London Underground as a customer service assistant on a salary of £23,000.

The inquest was told background checks did not flag up Butt's involvement with the Channel 4 documentary.Jonathan Hough QC, counsel for the coroner, asked if the role gave Butt access to underground stations in a "security capacity".Acting Det Ch Insp Wayne Jolley, who investigated the attacker's background, replied: "Yes it did."

Acting Detective Chief Inspector Wayne Jolley, who investigated the attacker's background, said the role gave him access to secure areas of stations including Westminster.He was also occasionally tasked with inspecting suspicious packages.

Butt was eventually sacked from the role after failing probation in October 2016.

While on sick leave from the transport job, claiming his feet were causing him problems, he met Redouane while training at the Ummah Fitness Centre in Ilford.He also befriended Zaghba through Sunday afternoon swimming sessions and they both volunteered at Ad-Deen Primary School, where the partner of the gym's owner worked.

Headteacher Sophie Rahman allowed Butt to lead Quran lessons to primary school children alone for two hours, up to three times a week. He taught the pupils about jihad and said "the worst creatures are the Kuffar (non-believers)".

Ms Rahman employed him without checking his references and was later banned from the classroom for life by the Teaching Regulation Agency. The school was shut down and Rahman was banned for life from the classroom for employing Butt, who had already shown signs of extremism in The Jihadi Next Door.

The inquests continue.

Posted on 05/28/2019 4:46 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 28 May 2019
Why are Ilhan Omar and Linda Sharia Sarsour Pro-Abortion?

by Nonie Darwish

Recently representative Ilhan Omar attacked Christians for being pro-life in a lengthy rant on the House floor. Also recently Muslim activist Linda Sarsour tweeted: “I am trying to understand how you can be pro-life and pro-death penalty at the same time.” To which someone tweeted back: “I guess the same way you claim to be a feminist while supporting Sharia Law.”

One would think that hijab wearing Muslim women would be vehemently pro-life and against abortion but that is not the case when it comes to Islam. Many Westerners and even some Muslims mistakenly believe that all religions, including Islam, are against abortion but it is a fact that Islamic law never prohibited abortion and never took a stand against it one way or the other.

In fact Islamic law goes as far as protecting parents from prosecution if they kill their children (no age limit mentioned). Such a law was designed to protects parents from prosecution if they kill their kids for honor; honor killing. Honor killing is widespread in the Muslim world usually against girls if they disobey their parents and Islam and usually over sexual misconduct. It also exists against boys, rarely though, if the boy becomes an apostate or is discovered as homosexual. Below is the law, with its number and page number from the mainstream sharia book “Reliance Of The Traveller”:

“Parents and/or grandparents will not be prosecuted for slaying/killing their offspring or offspring’s offspring.”

(O2.0 p584)

Even though many Muslims brag about Muhammad having protected life of girls when he stopped the killing of infant girls, which supposedly was an Arabian custom before Islam, the above law, is significant in getting those who honor kill their kids off the hook.

Islam and its laws are full of values, statements and laws that conflict with Western Biblical values and culture, especially regarding life and human rights. But we often see Muslims choose one statement in the Koran that talks about the value of life that was abrogated and stands in total contradiction to the many commandments to kill and get killed for the sake of Allah. It is not a secret that most punishments for what Islam considers sin (such as apostasy) with a long list of cruel and un-usual punishments some of which are torturous and humiliating execution. In fact Islam does not believe that ‘infidels’ have a right to live.

As to Islamic culture itself regardless of sharia, from my own personal experience of having lived 30 years as a Muslim in the Middle East, I have never heard a mosque sermon preaching against abortion or against honor killing of one’s children. In fact Islamic society forces parents through expulsion, boycott and a life in disgrace if they do not kill their apostate children especially girls who have committed sexual. In the movie, The Stoning of Soraya, before the village started stoning Soraya, her father was given the first stone to throw at his daughter. This indicates how society pushes parents to punish through honor killing otherwise the parents themselves will be banished and disgraced.

Like life, Islamic culture does not have concern or taboos regarding abortion. I have never read an article against abortion in Arabic. Many doctors perform abortions without obstruction from the state or Islamists. Islamic society is not tearing itself over the moral dilemma of life and when it begins like it is the West. I grew up hearing Muslim women in the Middle East casually and openly talking about their abortions pretty much like removing a pimple and without any fear of societal backlash. My own grandmother talked openly about her abortions because she did not want to have more than three kids.

That brings us to the fake outrage against Sarsour by some Islamic reformers who live in the West. In a recent article dated May 16, 2019, Muslim reformist Shireen Qudosi said that “Linda Sarsour disses Islam’s view of abortion for political gain.” In her article Qudosi forgot to mention what specific sharia laws regarding abortion she has in mind that prohibit abortion. This is because there are none. Instead, Ms. Qudosi tried to prove that Sarsour’s pro-abortion views as wrong not by quoting sharia but by quoting herself writing against abortion in the Federalist. She also quoted writings by a London-based niqab wearing Muslim female chaplain who wrote a tweet against abortion expressing her own personal opinion.

The misinformation spread by the so-called Islamic reformers regarding Islam, its doctrine and foundational principles is staggering and misleading to say the least. But one point the West could learn from Islam and abortion is that despite that there are no laws in Islam regarding abortion and in fact there are laws protecting parents who kill their offspring, the birth rate and population growth in Muslim societies is among the highest in the world.

When it comes to abortion Ilhan Omar and Linda Sarsour are right. Sharia does support their views regarding the taking away of life in the womb. Life and the preservation of life is simply not a priority in Islamic law. In that sense radical Liberal Democrats and Islamic Sharia enforces share similar values.

First published in the Geller Report

Posted on 05/28/2019 1:30 PM by Nonie Darwish
Tuesday, 28 May 2019
Lingerie Shop In France Wouldn’t Hire Hijabbed Muslim; Complaints Of Widespread “Islamophobia” Follow

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Al Jazeera reports that there is “no social backlash [in France] to anyone that holds Islamophobic views.”

“In March, a French woman wearing the hijab applied for a job at a lingerie shop, Etam, in the southern city of Montpellier.

“The woman, Oumaima, claimed her application was rejected because the manager told her veiled women would not be accepted.

“In a video posted on Twitter that has been viewed more than 240,000 times, Oumaima said she was a victim of racism and called for a boycott of the brand as she explained “how difficult it is to live, study, and work with a hijab in France.”

There are two separate reasons why it was perfectly legitimate for the manager of the shop to tell this hijabbed lady she would not be hired, as long as she insisted on wearing a hijab.

The first is the nature of the business.This was not a grocery store or a bakery but a lingerie shop. It is not “racism” for a lingerie shop to reject a hijab-wearing woman as a saleswoman. The nature of the product being sold — come-hither lingerie — clashes with the message of modesty that the hijab signifies. This was not an expression of “islamophobia” but a marketing decision. It was also a decision based on French law, which requires employees to show a ‘total neutrality” in their appearance.
That Muslim woman might well have been hired by Etam– as the manager ought to have said — if only she had not insisted on continuing to wear the hijab, so off-putting to potential customers, while at work.

“Etam reacted quickly, issuing a statement right away saying the incident “does not reflect its values.”

“The manager was sacked and Etam called Oumaima to apologise.

Fearful of boycotts, Etam surrendered quickly to the threats, and made the manager pay for what had been a perfectly reasonable business decision and, as we shall see, was also in accordance with the law. Etam ought to have explained that there was a perceived “clash of values” — a kind of dissonance –in having a hijabbed woman selling its lingerie.

But there is another, much more important justification for the manager’s refusal to consider Oumaima’s job application. Etam, in the statement in which it announced it had fired the manager, provides the very reason that justifies the manager’s decision. For it reminds us that there is another reason why that Muslim woman ought to have been required to remove the hijab.”Employees must maintain a “total neutrality” in their appearance, in conformity with the El Khomri law of 2016. But also according to French law, an employer may not refuse to employ someone simply because of their religious beliefs.” (“Etam rappelle que les employés doivent appliquer une « totale neutralité » dans leur apparence. Une disposition conforme depuis la loi El Khomri de 2016. Mais dans le droit, on ne peut pas refuser d’embaucher quelqu’un en vertu de ses croyances religieuses.’) There is not a contradiction here: the manager told the woman, who had come to leave off her C.V., that she would not be hired if she insisted on wearing the hijab at work. We do not know, from the reports, whether the manager also explained to her that she would not be considered, not because she was a Muslim, but because she would be violating the requirement, in the El Khomri law, for all employees to maintain a “total neutrality” in their appearance. That includes too-visible religious symbols. That should have been enough to end the matter. It might have headed off the subsequent expressions of Muslim fury and threats of a boycott, that led to the manager’s being fired.

Now one wonders if the fired manager will sue Etam for wrongful dismissal, because all she was doing was following the legal requirement of “total neutrality” in the appearance of employees. And even if that law were for some reason held not to apply, there remains the question of a “business decision” that ought to be raised. Can the nature of a business (in this case, a lingerie shop) be taken into account in determining the suitability of a given job applicant? Consider this hypothetical: a French woman, unhijabbed and wearing slacks, applies for a job at a halal grocery. Shouldn’t the halal grocery have a right not to hire her, as someone whose appearance would be predictably disruptive for customers? How does that hypothetical differ in principle from the real case of the lingerie shop in Montpellier? It doesn’t.

First published i Jihad Watch

Posted on 05/28/2019 4:05 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 27 May 2019
Arrests made in connection with Lyon package bomb

From France 24

Frenchpolice have arrested four people over an explosion in the heart of the southeastern city of Lyon last week which injured 13 people, authorities said Monday.

The suspected bomber, a 24-year-old Algerian citizen, was arrested along with his mother, his father and another Algerian student who is a family friend, according to Paris prosecutors.

The suspect is an IT student previously unknown to police, Lyon's mayor Gerard Collomb said.

Prosecutors had on Friday opened an investigation over "attempted murders linked to a terrorist organisation".

Sources close to the investigation suspected the explosive was acetone peroxide, or APEX, a volatile compound used in deadly Paris attacks that happened on November 13, 2015.

No one has claimed responsibility for the Lyon blast.

Posted on 05/27/2019 10:31 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 27 May 2019
Right On In Europe

by Michael Curtis

A spectre has been haunting European politics, the rise of the far right. The fear is that the European Union is facing an existential risk of survival, confronted by the populist protest in many countries claiming to represent the will of the people against the “establishment” and perceived elitism. The consequence of the protest is the development of far-right political parties, concerned among other issues with the problem of national identity.

These far right parties have hitherto challenged, with mixed results, the mainstream parties and governments striving for solutions to the numerous national and international contemporary issues. All recent public opinion polls of Europeans reflect the considerable opposition to immigration, with many citizens believing migrants have had a negative impact, even a threat to national identity, on their country.

European far right parties have differed on specific issues. But they all focus on opposition to extreme immigration in their populist politics constituting a mixture of dissatisfaction with liberal elites and institutions, defense of European culture and identity, emphasis on the need for law and order, xenophobic to some extent, and the feeling that, in the midst of economic progress, part of the population has been left behind. The far right parties reflect a number of factors: frustration with existing political elites, cultural anxiety because of the entrance of asylum seekers, dislike of the “faceless bureaucrats” of Brussels, the fact that certain regions and parts of their population suffer from globalization, and the erosion of loyalties to traditional parties and institutions, such as trade unions. 

Proponents claim the riots against Brussels are “sowing the seeds,” but what is likely to grow?  The two dominant French personalities illustrate the differences. Marine Le Pen argues the battle is on to preserve European civilization from immigration and globalization. Europe, she holds, is moving towards a return of nation states, and we are part of this great political movement. President Macron responded that Le Pen represents the “leprosy” of nationalism that is eating the EU from within. 

Some far right advocates, such as the French Generation Identitaire, a mostly youth group, that some consider neo-fascist, invoke memories of the victory in 732 of Charles Martel, Frankish king, who defeated the Moors near Poitiers, and who, in a curious mixture of the nouvelle droite and Catholic social teaching influenced by Alan de Benoist and Renaud Camus, now claim to be defenders of Europe against immigration and multiculturalism. 

For many years, since no one group has achieved a majority, a working coalition of the center right and center left has dominated the direction of European politics, starting with the impact of the EPP, European People’s Party, originally based on Christian Democracy, led by  German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, 1982-1998. Under Angela Merkel, the present Chancellor since 2005, the EPP has remained the largest and most influential body in European politics, gaining 221 of the 751 seats in the European Parliament elected in 2014. The coalition controlled the key executive positions, president of the European Commission and of the European Council. 

The control has focused in recent years on three main issues: the still unresolved issue of Brexit; the discussion, mainly between Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron over the nature of the EU, and the direction of European policy on key issues, and the rise and challenge of the far right parties and alliance. In that challenge, Matteo Salvini, leader of Lega, formerly Lega Nord and presently deputy prime minister and minister of the Interior in Italy and Viktor Orban, prime minister of Hungary and leader of the party Fidesz, Euroskeptic, and proponent of an “illiberal” state have occupied the limelight. Both leaders call for freedom for the European continent “from the illegal occupation orchestrated in Brussels.” In this they were accompanied by Geert Wilders, Netherlands leader of the Party for Freedom, PVV, anti-migrant, anti-EU, hostile to Islam which he calls a “totalitarian ideology,” and advocate a ban on headscarves in public. 

The test of the strength of the far right in European politics took place in the election of the European Parliament, the legislative body of the EU, which concluded on May 26, 2019. 400 million people in the 28 countries of the EU were eligible to vote. The 751 seats in the Parliament are allotted to the individual states on the basis of population: from Germany which has 96, France 74, Italy 73, to Cyprus and Estonia which each has 6 seats. Voter cast ballots for national parties in separate elections which are based on proportional representation. Parties then affiliate with other parties at the EU level based on common ideologies or goals. In the 2019 election there were 550 lists of parties across the EU, with Germany having the largest number of 41.

A distinctive effort was made during the campaign in 2019 to create a broad, united far right alliance among European parties. The main protagonist was the charismatic Matteo Salvini, deputy pm and minister of the interior in Italy, assisted by Marine Le Pen, and influenced to some extent by the seemingly ubiquitous Steve Bannon who regarded himself as the informal advisor of Le Pen.  As a result, Salvini put together ten groups, including his own Lega, once Lega Nord, the Rassemblement, National Rally, formerly FN, of Le Pen, Geert Wilders Party of Freedom, and Ekre, Conservative People’s party of Estonia which is Euroskeptic, critical of LGBT rights, racist, and describes itself as a “patriotic party with an unshakable mission to protect Estonian national values and interests.”

Salvini proclaims the objective is to “save Europe,” and defend European Judeo-Christian identity. He has differentiated his own group from any Fascist symbols, rhetoric, salutes in the streets, or honoring of Mussolini, activities which have not entirely disappeared from Italian life, as can be witnessed in Rome’s Foro Italico  sports complex which has mosaics paying homage to Il Duce and a marble obelisk bearing his name. 

It is not clear, but highly unlikely, the new Brexit party of Nigel Farage was linked to Salvini. Brexit, formed in February-March 2019 is intended to call for a clean break with the EU, and to begin a political revolution in the UK to create a “democratic revolution.” Farage, a flamboyant character, is former leader of the UKIP, UK Independent Party, and is said to be close to Steve Bannon. 

In 2017 Bannon formed The Movement in Brussels to assist the rise of right wing populist nationalism. In strong language he declared, “the beating heart of the globalist project is in Brussels (EU). If I drive the stake through the vampire, the whole thing will start to dissipate.”

The result of the EP elections in May 2019 showed that the heart of  EU mainstream parties is still beating but at a slower rate. Those centrist parties, though the two largest blocs,  lost support: the center right EPP got 24% of the vote and 180 seats, down from 217, and the left wing S and D got 19.4% and 146 seats, down from 186. 

The election, with a turnout of 50.5% of the electorate, was a mixed picture for the parties of the far right, but they can be said to have scored a success, if not total victory. The far right  and populists were successful in Italy, where Salvini’s party got 33.64% of the vote, Hungary where Orban’s Fidesz got 52.14% of the vote, the UK where Farage’s Brexit party got 31.6% and the Conservatives were reduced to fifth place, Poland where Law and Justice got 46%, Greece where the right got 33.5%, and France where Le Pen’s party got 23.31%, edging out Macron’s 22.41%.

In Germany however, the far right AfD only got 10.4% while Merkel’s party got 28.4%., but this was its worst showing in European elections. The Dutch Freedom Party of  Wilders lost its seats, but another far right party, Forum for Democracy gained. A notable feature of the election was the increase in strength of Green parties. 

Nevertheless, the far right and skeptics, EFDD, ENF, and ECR will now help shape a new balance of power in Europe, since the mainstream parties no longer have a majority. The conclusion is that the spectre of the far right has not been exorcized, and that an increasing number of Europeans have rejected the status quo, and believe that the Right is not wrong.  

Posted on 05/27/2019 9:16 AM by Michael Curtis
Sunday, 26 May 2019
The Brexit Party doing very well - alas Tommy Robinson is not elected

Results are coming in thick and fast from the EU elections which were held on Thursday in the UK and over the weekend in the rest of Europe. 
Initial results are that The Brexit party came first in Eastern England and that region will return three Brexit Party members. They are also the biggest party in Wales.

The full result for the North West region has not yet been declared but from the results in so far Tommy Robinson has not got enough votes to win a MEP seat. He has, however received the most votes of any indepenedent that has ever stood for election as an MEP (in the UK) since that parliament's inception. In some districts his share of the vote was comparable to that of UKIP and the Conservative Party, albeit they were all some way behind the Brexit Party and Labour/Lib Dems. He has gained that with no media coverage, a virtual news censorship, barred from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, physically attacked by milkshake throwers and a Muslim mob.

He has made this statement: Picture Sky News

Before leaving the Manchester Central venue, he told his followers on the Telegram private messaging app: "Disappointed to say the least. They (the votes) are not in but they are in ... at the same time what do you expect? Going through the votes we have certainly not got a place as a MEP but I want to say a special thank you to every single person who supported."

The exercise wasn't in vain; there's a basis on which to build. 

It is nearly midnight in London and I'm going to turn the PC off shortly. More results in the morning. 

Posted on 05/26/2019 5:15 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 26 May 2019
When Peggy Wente attacks (not much happens)

For many years I have occasionally been approached by an extremely courteous woman, bedecked in the stylistic flair of a bag lady

by Conrad Black

For many years I have occasionally been approached in public places by an extremely courteous and even engaging woman, bedecked in the stylistic flair and panache of a bag lady, whom I eventually identify, after finessing it for a couple of minutes, as Peggy Wente. She has periodically done her best to revile me in her writings in The Globe and Mail. After faithful readers sent me her piece in last Saturday’s Globe and Mail, formerly a writer’s newspaper but not one I can normally face, I finally, in a Damascene bolt, figured it out: Peggy wants me to reply to her, to take offence at her peevish nonsense and seem hurt. She is welcome to wallow and paddle unvexed in her animus, which I do not reciprocate. But I will slake her parched ambition to get my attention publicly, and soothe her restless nights, this one time, as a public service.

The editors of The Globe and Mail have periodically publicly asserted that they would “work with her” to address her problem of plagiarizing. I suggest that they expand their therapeutic tutorials to include an enhanced acquaintance with the facts. The president of the United States made it explicit in giving me a full pardon that the White House counsel and his legal staff carefully researched my case and the analysis provided by Alan Dershowitz and other distinguished counsel who represented me, and concluded that it was, in the president’s words, “a bad rap (and) an unjust verdict.” Otherwise, I would not have sought a pardon, and he would not have given one. Anyone who wants the facts can get them in my book “A Matter of Principle.” The pardon “expunges” (in the president’s phrasing) the two fatuous remaining convictions of the 17 the American fascist prosecutors started out with and, now, officially, I am innocent. That was not what Peggy wrote; but it is the truth. The case against me was bunk; I have won and it is closed.

Has Peggy eaten her hat, as she promised to do if Donald Trump was elected?

Nor was I previously unable to travel to the U.S., as she also wrote. I would have had to apply, which I was assured would be agreed to, but declined to do so given the shameful judicial treatment I was accorded there. I have no plans to return any time soon, and will continue to confine myself to the other 197 countries in the world, but will return eventually. I was not writing my comments on American politics “for one reader,” as she wrote. Many weeks I have more than 10 million readers of my American columns, and my comments on this president have not been uncritical. Has Peggy eaten her hat, as she promised to do if Donald Trump was elected? She might find that the digestion of straw or felt makes her less bilious, mendacious and delusional.

And no, my social life has not been reduced in quality nor my standard of living seriously altered by my travails. Peggy knows nothing of the socioeconomic echelons she envisions, nor anything about making money. My false friends deserted, but have been replaced, and most people I regarded as friends proved to be so. She has no idea how quickly money can be made by people who have an aptitude to do it, and I have enjoyed my return to finance, my original career. (The much-published picture of my wife and me at a costume party at Kensington Palace was not, as Peggy wrote, of Barbara as Marie Antoinette and me as Cardinal Richelieu; she was dressed as a bar-maid, not a Habsburg-Bourbon queen, and I was a run-of-the-mill cardinal, without Richelieu’s goatee and his insignia of secular office as duke, prime minister, foreign and interior minister, and grand admiral. No doubt Peggy knows about some things, but French history is not one of them.)

That is all the public (or private) recognition she will get from me, and I want to move to the substantive point she made that I am “too old to make a comeback.” It has already happened in my case, but I wish to take up my latest cause: fighting ageism, as I successfully fought the monochromatic left in Canadian newspapers, Euro-integration in Britain, separatism in Quebec, and corporate governance terrorism in the United States. It’s time for a new good cause. At 74, I am only five years older than Peggy Wente. I feel as I did 30 years ago, and I want to inspirit readers who may think of themselves as elderly, and Peggy herself, heavy-laden as she apparently is by the imminence of the Scriptural Age (70), with some helpful facts.

We have to revise our thinking about being elderly: it starts later and implies much less early diminution of effectiveness than was thought

Goethe wrote most of Faust at 80; Verdi wrote his Requiem at 85; Sophocles, in the 5th-century B.C., wrote Oedipus at 90, and the Doge Enrico Dandolo conquered Constantinople at the age of 97, although he was blind and had been excommunicated (a real problem for a Venetian in the 13th century). He died the next year and was the only person ever buried in the Hagia Sophia.

Among those famous people who did great things at the end of their 70s and into their 80s were Chateaubriand, Kant, Michelangelo, Monet, Titian, Tolstoy and Voltaire. Adenauer, Churchill, Clemenceau, de Gaulle, Gladstone, Palmerston and Cardinal André-Hercule de Fleury (who began a very successful term as principal minister of France of 16 years at the age of 73, in 1726) are among many statesmen who served effectively in great offices well beyond my present age. Canada’s Lord Strathcona served very effectively as Canadian High Commissioner in London, and in several important private-sector positions, right up to his death at 93.

Last weekend I happened to speak at length by telephone with Norman Podhoretz, the founding editor of Commentary magazine for 35 years, and with Irving Kristol, the leader of the American neo-conservatives. He is 89. I spoke also with Henry Kissinger, who will be 96 next week. Both were in perfect fettle and sounded as they did 30 or 40 years ago (and illustrate how little my life is confined to the parvenus of Palm Beach to whom Peggy attached me, and whom I am grateful to have escaped). The top Democratic contenders for the U.S. presidential nomination, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, would be 78 and 79 when they start their possible four-year terms in 2021. The incumbent (who will most probably win), will be 74, and 78 when his second term ends. Up to Richard Nixon, the United States had only two presidents who lived to be 90 (John Adams and Herbert Hoover). Then four consecutive presidents have: Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Because we are concerned as a civilization that technological advances are, for the first time, creating unemployment rather than employment, we have cut our retirement ages to 65, or less, which is absurd and has created a terrible strain on our pension schemes. When president Franklin Delano Roosevelt set up Social Security in the U.S. in 1935, the average life expectancy for an American male was 67, and the pension kicked in at 65. We have to revise our thinking about being elderly: it starts later and implies much less early diminution of effectiveness than was thought.

Peggy Wente must raise her sights; go on slagging me off if you wish — I won’t reply to it or probably even read it again, but do not imagine that you are at the pale of eternal rest or prolonged decrepitude. Unless your fatuities of last Saturday were a very esoteric death-rattle, you can continue to inflict yourself on readers for at least another decade. You are neither in the diapers of youth nor (I assume) of senescent incontinence. Fight on. I will, and as Richelieu famously said to Louis XIII, shortly before they died, “I precede you to light your way.”

Note: I will be in England for the next five weeks, plumbing the depths of my socioeconomic status and enjoying Their Lordships’ House, and wish all readers a pleasant launch into summer — back in July.

First published in the National Post.

Posted on 05/26/2019 6:59 AM by Conrad Black
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