September 13, 2006
Muslims Urged to Buy More Media Influence
At a conference in the apartheid theocracy of Saudi Arabia, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference called on rich Muslims to invest large amounts of money in Western media outlets, to skew their coverage and convince the gullible infidels that hating Jews is normal, acceptable behavior: Muslims urged to buy influence in world media.
RIYADH (Reuters) - Muslim tycoons should buy stakes in global media outlets to help change anti-Muslim attitudes around the world, ministers from Islamic countries heard at a conference in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
Information ministers and officials meeting under the auspices of the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the world’s largest Islamic body, said Islam faced vilification after the September 11 attacks, when 19 Arabs killed nearly 3,000 people in U.S. cities in 2001.
“Muslim investors must invest in the large media institutions of the world, which generally make considerable profits, so that they have the ability to affect their policies via their administrative boards,” OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told the gathering in the Saudi city of Jeddah.
“This would benefit in terms of correcting the image of Islam worldwide,” he said, calling on Muslim countries to set up more channels in widely-spoken foreign languages. ...
“The fierce attack on Islam in the five years since the September 11 attacks has forced us into a defensive position on our faith and understanding of our tolerant religion,” Egyptian Information Minister Anas el-Feki said in a speech.
“Now more than ever we need a new Islamic media message that reaches all parts of the world,” Feki said, citing Israel’s recent 34-day war in Lebanon as one issue where Muslims needed to make their views and influence felt.
Arab countries already exert considerable influence on Western media; previously at LGF: LGF Exclusive: How Much Does It Cost to Buy Global TV News?
LGF Exclusive: How Much Does It Cost to Buy Global TV News?
How Much Does It Cost to Buy Global TV News?
The vast majority of the TV news pictures you see are produced by two TV news companies. Presented here is a case for how a large amount of money has been used to inject a clear bias into the heart of the global TV news gathering system. That this happens is not at question, whether it is by accident or design is harder to tell.
You may not realize it, but if you watch any TV news broadcast on any station anywhere in the world, there is a better than even chance you will view pictures from APTN. BBC, Fox, Sky, CNN and every major broadcaster subscribes to and uses APTN pictures. While the method by which they operate is interesting, it is the extra service this US owned and UK based company offers to Arab states that is really interesting.
About the Associated Press
The Associated Press (AP) is a not-for-profit news gathering and dissemination service based in the US.Formed in 1848, the AP grew up from an agreement between the six major New York newspapers of the day. They wanted to defray the large telegraphy costs that they were all independently incurring for sending the same news coast to coast. Despite being highly competitive, they formed the Associated Press as a collection agency and agreed to share the material. Today, that six-newspaper cooperative is an organization serving more than 1,500 newspapers and 5,000 broadcast outlets in the United States. Abroad, AP services are printed and broadcast in 112 countries.
Associated Press Television News
Associated Press Television News (APTN) is a wholly owned subsidiary of AP. It was formally set up as a separate entity in 1994. It is run as a commercial entity and aims to make a profit. Any profit it does make is fed back to AP (which is non-profit making: APTN profits reduce the newsgathering costs incurred by the 1500 US newspapers that collectively own the AP). APTN is the largest television news gathering player (larger than Reuters, its only true competitor in this field). While AP is based in the US, APTN operates out of large premises in Camden, London. They have news teams, offices and broadcast facilities in just about every important place in the world.
APTN uses news crews and broadcast facilities all over the world to record video of newsworthy events (in News, Sport and Entertainment). These pictures are either sent unedited or very partially edited back to London. Most news is fed back within hours but they also cover and feed certain events live (news conferences in Iraq, press conferences after a sporting event etc.). Most of these stories are sent in with “natural sound”: there is no journalist providing a voice over, but the choice of what to shoot is in the hands of the local producer and camera crew. Local crews are sometimes employed directly by APTN, or more often “stringers” are hired for a particular event or paid for the footage they have already captured.
Once the stories have been fed back to the UK they are edited. This is a round the clock operation. The goal is to produce a 30 minute news bulletin comprising 6 or 7 stories every few hours. These stories are made by editing down the raw “rushes” that come in from all over the world. This is done by a team of producers who work for the news editor. They don’t supply a voice over but they do edit, discard and sequence pictures dictating the emphasis and direction of the story. They will accompany each story with a written description of each shot and the general reason this was a story. This is repeated for News, Sport & Entertainment with a geographical emphasis that shifts around the world as different markets wake and sleep. The output of this is called the “Global News Wire” (GNW).
The Business of TV News
This is how APTN makes its money: news organizations (mostly TV but not all) subscribe to APTN and pay an annual amount to both watch and then re-use the stories that are fed over the GNW. The stories are supplied with sound, but no journalist to do a voice over. Most commercial news stations (like the BBC, SKY, Fox or CNN) would take this feed, decide which pictures to use then re-edit it and supply an appropriate voice over for the story. The video comes with a written description of the shots and the events that occur in them.
The fee for this feed depends on the size of the receiving organization, their audience size and a negotiation with APTN’s sales force. It is pretty much impossible, however, to operate a TV news organization without taking feeds from either APTN or Reuters or usually both. The agreement with APTN usually allows the receiving news channel unlimited use of the video for two weeks. If they want to re-show those pictures after that they have to separately license the pictures (which can cost anything from $100 to $10,000 per 30 seconds depending on the content).
A Separate Service for Arab States
However, there is another significant part of their business model that affects the rest of the business. While most of the world takes news pictures with minimal interpretation beyond editing, the Arab Gulf States have asked for and receive a different and far more expensive service. These states pay for a complete news report service including full editing and voice overs from known journalists. The news organizations in the Arab countries don’t do anything (beyond verify that they are appropriate for local tastes) before broadcast.
What this means is that while there are around 50 people producing news pictures for the whole world working in Camden at any time, there are a further 50 Arabic speaking staff producing finished stories exclusively for the Arab states of the gulf. This has a tremendous effect on the whole feel of the building as these two teams feed pictures and people back and forth and sit in adjacent work areas. The slant of the stories required by the Gulf States has a definite effect on which footage is used and discarded. This affects both the Gulf newsroom and the main global newsroom.
This full service feed is much more expensive for the customers than the usual service, but it is also much higher margin for APTN. This is partly because there is great commonality in what they can send to most of the Gulf States taking this service: stories are made once and used in a number of countries.
Disproportionately Negative Coverage of Israel
Anything involving Israel is a favorite with Gulf Arab states for showing to their viewers. Could this be the reason why Israel receives such a disproportionate amount of particularly negative coverage especially and increasingly ever since the early 1970’s? Honest Reporting is usually unable to decide which is most biased: AP or BBC. As the BBC is often using APTN footage, the difference is minor. A significant twist to what is seen, concerns what is not seen. Footage such as the Palestinian mob joyfully lynching two Israeli reservists in Ramallah in October 2000 is held by APTN’s library: any attempt to license this film for reshow is carefully vetted. Requests for the use of “sensitive clips” are referred directly to the Library director. This is not the case with clips that paint Israel in a bad light. Likewise, the re-showing of Palestinian celebrations on 9/11 is considered “sensitive”.
The way in which raw footage such as APTN’s is compiled into a news report and sent round the world has also been analyzed. The Second Draft gives a comprehensive view of how editing can make all the difference. APTN is the gatekeeper that sits between you and the actual event. You will never see what the editors at APTN see before they compile your evening news. What do you think is cut out?
Was this organization set up with this in-built bias on purpose? Is there some way that the expensive payments made by Gulf state governments form part of a deliberate attempt to skew the media?
In “Islam and Dhimmitude” (2002) by Bat Ye’or on p294-296 she recounts how decisions were taken in the wake of the Arab-Israeli war of 1967 to try to put across an anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist message. Successive conferences resolved to contribute vast sums “to universities, centers for Islamic studies, international communications agencies, and private and governmental organizations in order to win over world opinion.” (p296).
The messages from these conferences stressed an addition to the more familiar violent jihad: they also emphasized the importance of jihad by the written and spoken word—what we would recognize as classic propaganda. Without question APTN’s interesting business model represents a concrete example of an ongoing financial “contribution” to an important communication agency promoting a pro-Arab bias.
September 11, 2006
UAC Hangs Osama In Successful Event An After-Action Report:
On the eve of 911, Sunday's United American Committee event featuring a hanging of Osama bin Laden in effigy in front of the radical Saudi King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, CA was an overwhelming success. Law enforcement estimated the crowd to be approximately 500 including 200 counter-protesters. Anticipation of Osama's hanging began to build as the event started at 4:00 PM with the gallows and Osama's effigy nowhere in sight. As the crowd grew and the media watched, at 4:30 PM a truck being driven by UAC Board Member Ted Hayes slowly pulled out of an alleyway across from the mosque carrying gallows towering high above the crowd which immediately erupted into roaring cheers. The crowd poured into the streets waiting in anticipation for the hanging. Board Member Ted Hayes, Chairman Jesse Petrilla, and Member Peter James climbed onto the back of the truck. The verdict was read, “GUILTY!” Peter James wearing a black bathrobe and a black mask & hood to resemble an executioner tightened the noose around Osama's neck. “Hang Him High! Hang Him High!” the crowd chanted. The rope was pulled and Osama was hoisted into the air. The crowd cheered as they pelted him with shoes. Shoes being the great insult in the Islamic world. Counter-protesters who seemed to take the side of Osama stood on the other side of the street chanting slogans such as “U.A.C. Racist Slime, Being Muslim is Not A Crime.” to which the UAC responded with chants such as “We Love Muslims, We Love Muslims.” and “Join with us, Join with us.” sending a positive message that Muslims are more than welcome to come and join the UAC in throwing shoes at Osama and condemning Islamic militancy. The UAC was happy to be joined by pro-democratic Iranians, as well as many other groups and individuals of all different backgrounds, however, as for the King Fahd Mosque and its members the allegiance of those who would protest a hanging of bin Laden remains in question.
Associated Press wrote a great article recaping the event [click here to view].
AP also has several pictures of the event on the wire [click here for AP pics].
Other Pictures below:
Tell your friends to join the movement at www.UnitedAmericanCommittee.org
September 5, 2006
Major Oil Pool Discovered in Gulf of Mexico
By BRAD FOSS, AP
WASHINGTON (Sept. 5) - A trio of oil companies led by Chevron Corp. has tapped a petroleum pool deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico that could boost the nation's reserves by more than 50 percent. A test well indicates it could be the biggest new domestic oil discovery since Alaska's Prudhoe Bay a generation ago.
But the vast oil deposit roughly four miles beneath the ocean floor won't significantly reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil and it won't help lower prices at the pump anytime soon.
"It's a nice positive, but the U.S. still has a big difference between its consumption and indigenous production," said Art Smith, chief executive of energy consultant John S. Herold. "We'll still be importing more than 50 percent of our oil needs."
Chevron on Tuesday estimated the 300-square-mile region where its test well sits could hold between 3 billion and 15 billion barrels of oil and natural gas liquids. The U.S. consumes roughly 5.7 billion barrels of crude-oil in a year.
It will take many years and tens of billions of dollars to bring the newly tapped oil to market, but the discovery carries particular importance for the industry at a time when Western oil and gas companies are finding fewer opportunities in politically unstable parts of the world, including the Middle East, Africa and Russia.
The proximity of the Gulf of Mexico to the world's largest oil consuming nation makes it especially attractive. And it could bring pressure on Florida and other states to relax limits they have placed on drilling in their offshore waters for environmental and tourism reasons.
The country's reserves currently are more than 29 billion barrels of oil equivalent, according to the U.S. Energy Department. But the U.S. imports most of its oil from abroad and its overall supply is tiny when compared with, say, Saudi Arabia, whose reserves exceed 250 billion barrels.
Chevron's well, called "Jack 2," was drilled about 5.3 miles below sea level.
The well was drilled in the Walker Ridge area of the Gulf, about 270 miles southwest of New Orleans and 175 miles off the coast of Louisiana. It followed up a discovery made by Chevron in 2004.
San Ramon, Calif.-based Chevron said the well set a variety of records, including the deepest well successfully tested in the Gulf of Mexico. Chevron said the well was drilled more than 20,000 feet under the sea floor below 7,000 feet of water for a total depth of 28,175 feet.
Chevron has a 50 percent stake in the field, while partners Statoil ASA of
Norway and Devon Energy Corp. of Oklahoma City own 25 percent each.
The financial implications of the prospect are most significant for independent oil and gas producer Devon, which is the smallest of the three partners. Devon's shares soared about 12 percent on the New York Stock Exchange.
"This could not have happened in a better place," Devon CEO Larry Nichols said in a conference call with analysts.
The successful test well does not mean a huge supply of cheap oil will hit the market anytime soon.
Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Fadel Gheit estimated that the first production for the Chevron-led partnership might not come on line until after 2010, depending on how many more test wells the companies drill. That said, many companies, including BP PLC, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp., stand to benefit from their own projects in the so-called lower tertiary, a rock formation that is 24 million to 65 million years old.
"They may be the first ones to hit the jackpot, but if the current thinking is correct, this is only a beginning," Gheit said.
While the industry was generally upbeat about the potential of this new discovery, Cambridge Energy Research Associates said some of the challenges in maximizing output from this region will be a shortage of rigs capable of drilling in very deep water and the length of time needed to drill and complete very deep wells.
Shares of Devon rose $7.99 to close at $72.14 on the New York Stock Exchange, above the top end of the stock's 52-week range of $48.94 to $70.35. Shares of Chevron rose $1.51, or 2.3 percent, to finish at $66.34.
September 5, 2006
Denmark Arrests 9 Terror Plot Suspects
"If he (Khatami) does intend to travel to the United States for the purposes for which a visa was requested, then it is my understanding that the visa will be issued," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
"This was a decision that was made (to allow Khatami a visa)," said McCormack, adding that he did not know whether a visa had been issued yet.
He said there were no plans for U.S. officials to meet Khatami during his proposed visit.
Khatami would be the most high-profile Iranian to visit Washington since ties were severed between the two countries after the 1979 Islamic revolution and 52 Americans were held hostage in the U.S. embassy for 444 days.
There are strict restrictions in place for any Iranians wanting to visit the United States, except for at the United Nations where Iranian diplomats can travel within a very limited area.
The U.N. Security Council has given Tehran until August 31 to freeze uranium enrichment or face possible sanctions. The United States is pushing hard for tough U.N. action against Iran but China and Russia are likely to balk at sanctions.
"They have until August 31 to provide a positive answer," said McCormack.
Before visiting Washington, Khatami is set to attend a U.N. conference in New York led by the prime ministers of Spain and Turkey.
In years past, the price of refusing Islam - for Copts in Egypt, anyway - included either paying the Jizia (Humiliation Tax), or dying by the sword. (Some entrepreneurial Muslims had the clever idea of collecting the tax and THEN ramming their swords into their victim’s midsection.) And, in the interest of furthering the new “Official Language of Islam,” Arabic, Copts were forced to learn this new tongue - unless they felt like having theirs ripped out.
Gruesome images, I know. But unfortunately, we’re only getting started with the horror show.
See, a young man, Hani Sarofim Nasrala Issak, who was a soldier in the Egyptian Army until very recently, has departed this earth.
Not by accident, and not in a nice way. And I would say “not by choice,” but the truth is that he, in some fashion, chose it.
He didn’t choose to be tortured in such a way that his hands and face were burned almost beyond recognition, he didn’t ask his murderers to throw him in the river, leaving him there to die (if he wasn’t already dead, which I find hard to believe, given the extent of the torture that he was subjected to).
But he DID choose to remain a Christian when his boss, his immediate supervisor in the Army, “ordered” him to “reject Christianity” and embrace Islam.
Let us have a look at the statement that Hani’s family released about the tragegy:
“We found him drowned in the Nile near the city of Nag Hamadi. Marks of torture covered the entirety of his body. Earlier, Hani had told his family that there were problems between him and the direct leader of his unit because Hani was a Christian. He also told his family that his leader used to molest and torture him in front of his peer soldiers. When his leader asked him blatantly to reject Chrisitianity and convert to Islam, Hani refused and told him he would notify the military intelligence. The leader threatened him saying “Ok Hani, I will settle things with you!” The leader subsequently arranged to kill Hani by sending him to a station near his village, at Nag Al-Ghaliz of the city of Nag Hamadi, in order to eliminate any suspicions about the plan.” (Sources: http://www.meca-me.org/newsdetails.php?id=386 and http://lanternix.blogspot.com/ )
Horrible. Awful. Unimaginable.
Actually, and most unfortunately, this scenario is imaginable, because that’s how things are in Egypt, much of the time.
And by “how things are,” I mean that being harrassed, tormented, and yes, tortured, isn’t a rarity in Egypt.
Not for Christians, at least.
Not for “Ahl El Ketab” who wish to stay that way. (Ahl el Ketab is Koran-speak for “people of the book,” which refers to Christians and Jews, who look to the Bible and the Torah, respectively.)
You know what? I am livid. Heartbroken. Sickened that an ANIMAL like Hani’s leader can get away with what he did.
It’s not all that amusing now, when Hani’s ghost and autopsy photographs are all we have left of him, but Hani’s boss (and other Muslims) like to call us “Ahl el Ketab” when they are actually “Ahl el Kelab,” or “The people of the Dogs.”
They ARE dogs. Who, but dogs, would torture someone of their own species in that way?
Actually, comparing these rabid Islamic Fundamentalists with dogs seems cruel
to the dogs, so many apologies to Fido, Fluffy, and Fifi.
British Airways cancels all domestic and European flights. All flights in and out of London cancelled after after Britain foils a major terror plot to blow up six or seven UK planes bound for the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Heathrow cancels all incoming flights amid chaotic queues in the terminals and disruptions at all British airports.
All flights to the UK from Tel Aviv cancelled. Belgium, Lufthansa, Air France,
Iberia and KLM cancel flights to UK. US raises terror alert to orange.
Two people still sought by police after 21 overnight arrests. The suspects are all British-born of Pakistani origin.
The plot had “global dimensions,” Scotland Yard said. The number, timing and destination of the flights remained under investigation.
The US alert was raised to one short of maximum after Prime Minister Tony Blair briefed President George Bush on the security threat to the planes.
UK police say this attack could have been bigger than 9/11, encompassing 20 attacks with substantial loss of life, had the plot not been thwarted by a British covert anti-terror operation very close to its execution.
The British national security alert was raised from severe to critical to thwart any further threats. The planes were to have been blown up in mid-air by suicide bombers over cities in the US, Britain and other "allied" countries - possibly also Tel Aviv - by explosives smuggled aboard in hand luggage in liquid form to evade detection. Hand luggage is banned on flights departing British airports, except for essentials in transparent plastic bags such as medication, passports or baby food.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair: "This is a global fight about global
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- The conflict in the Middle East, as well as others involving Muslim extremists, revolve around "modernization within Islam" and whether the Western system of values can "beat theirs," British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in a speech Tuesday.
Speaking to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Blair went on to say that the struggle was between moderate, benign values versus the hatred and intolerance of fundamentalism.
"Even the issue of Israel is just part of the same wider struggle for the soul of the region," Blair said. "If we recognize this struggle for what it truly is, we would be at least along the first steps of the path to winning it. But I fear a vast part of Western opinion is not remotely near this yet."
He added, "Whatever the outward manifestation at any one time -- in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Iraq, and add to that in Afghanistan, in Kashmir, in a host of other nations, including now some in Africa -- this everywhere is a global fight about global values.
"It's about modernization within Islam and out of it. It's about whether our value system can be shown to be sufficiently robust, true, principled and appealing that it beats theirs."
The strategy behind Islamist extremism, Blair said, is based "on a presumed sense of grievance that can motivate people to divide against each other. Our answer has to be a set of values strong enough to unite people with each other.
"And this is not just about security or military tactics -- it is about hearts and minds. It's about inspiring people, persuading them, showing them what our values at their best stand for. And just to state it in these terms underlines how much we have to do."
Many Westerners wonder if the United States and Europe pay too high a price for supporting Israel, and Blair said he can understand why many Muslims condemn that alliance. But "absent from so much of the coverage is any understanding of the Israeli predicament."
The prime minister said he "wants the war (between Israel and Hezbollah) to stop now" and that the loss of civilian life in Lebanon is "unacceptable." But he did not back down from his support for Israel.
The Jewish state, he said, has been targeted by Hamas and Hezbollah, which have captured Israeli soldiers, provoking Israel's response. Re-energizing the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians will be "fundamental" to defusing the conflict.
Blair also took aim at Iran and Syria, which back Hezbollah financially.
"We need to make it clear to Syria and Iran that there is a choice: Come into the international community and play by the same rules as the rest of us, or be confronted.
"Their support of terrorism, their deliberate export of instability, their desire to see wrecked the democratic prospects in Iraq is utterly unjustifiable, dangerous and wrong. If they keep raising the stakes, they will find that they have miscalculated."
DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's deputy leader Ayman al Zawahri said his group
would not stand by and watch
Israel bombard Lebanon and the Palestinians, calling on Muslims in a video aired on Thursday to fight those who support the attacks.
Zawahri, in the tape aired by Al Jazeera television, did not say how al Qaeda would respond but he linked the fighting in the Middle East to conflicts in
Afghanistan and Iraq, countries where the militant group is battling Western forces.
"How can we remain silent while watching bombs raining on our people," he asked. "Oh Muslims everywhere, I call on you to fight and become martyrs in the war against the Zionists and the Crusaders," Zawahri said in the statement which was entitled "The Zionist-crusader war on Lebanon and the Palestinians."
Zawahri also lambasted "impotent, treacherous" Arab governments for their feeble response to the Israeli attacks.
Zawahri's statement was the first comment by the Sunni Muslim-dominated al Qaeda against Israel's war on Lebanon which was sparked by the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Shi'ite Muslim guerrilla group Hizbollah. Israel is also waging an offensive in Gaza to free another soldier.
"There are 10,000 prisoners of war in Israel's jails that nobody bothers about, but when it came to three Israeli soldiers, the whole world was turned upside down," he said.
The al Qaeda deputy did not mention Hizbollah, but called on Muslims to wage jihad or holy war against all countries in the "crusader alliance" that support the Israeli bombardment.
In previous statements, Zawahri and al Qaeda leader
Osama bin Laden have referred to Shi'ites as "infidels."
"As they fight us everywhere, we will fight them everywhere; everyone who has joined in the crime must pay the price; we can't stand by and monitor these rockets spewing their fire on the people of Lebanon and remain quiet," he said.
"The war with Israel is not based on any agreements or any border disputes ... it is jihad for the sake of Allah, to free all of Palestine from occupation and to rid all the homes of Islam from the crusaders. The whole world is our battlefield."
In the video, Zawahri appeared to be seated in a studio, with three photographs behind him, one showing the collapsing Twin Towers of New York, which al Qaeda targeted in September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
Islamist Web sites say they will carry the full version of Zawahri's statement soon.
More than 400 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since Israel started bombing Lebanon after the capture of its soldiers on July 12. Fifty-one Israelis have also been killed. In Gaza, 142 Palestinians have lost their lives.
Indian police investigating the Bombay train bombings have made their first arrests, picking up three men who officers said Friday were linked to terror networks across South Asia.
All three suspects were picked up Thursday, and "we have definite evidence that these people are linked to terrorist activities," one of the lead investigators, K.P. Raghuvanshi, told reporters Friday. "They have connections with groups in Nepal and Bangladesh, which are directly or indirectly connected to Pakistan."
Pressed for details, Raghuvanshi would only say: "We will place the evidence before the court."
But he said more arrests were expected soon, noting that the plotting for the bombing of seven trains, which killed 207 people and wounded more than 800, was "a big conspiracy."
He identified the men as Khaleel Aziz Sheikh, Kamal Ahmed Ansari and Mumtaz Ahmed Chowdhury, correcting names given in earlier police reports. The first two were arrested in the eastern state of Bihar, the third was nabbed in Bombay. None have yet been charged.
Wearing black hoods over their heads, the three were brought earlier Friday to a court in Bombay. There, a judge ordered the three — their hoods taken off inside the courtroom — held in custody for 10 days.
Investigators have detained hundreds of people across the country for questioning since the July 11 bombings, but these three are the first to be formally arrested.
Police and officials have repeatedly suggested Islamic militants fighting Indian rule in Kashmir — namely the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyaba — are behind the blasts and have accused Pakistan of involvement.
Kashmir is a predominantly Muslim Himalayan territory divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed in entirety by both nuclear-armed countries.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf vehemently denied any Pakistani role in a televised speech Thursday.
"I want to tell the people of Bombay that the reaction of the Indian government to the blasts was strange," Musharraf said. "There should not be any blame game. There should not be unsubstantiated comments."
"I want to assure the government of India that Pakistan will cooperate with it to identify the terrorists, if you give us proof. We will remain with you on this issue," he said.
The arrests come a day after a top official in Maharashtra state, of which Bombay is the capital, said security across the state had been tightened amid threats of more terror plots.
Intelligence reports indicate that houses of worship, historical sites, business establishments and places where large crowds gather could also be targeted, said A.P. Sinha, a top official in the state's Home Ministry.
|Firefighters battle a fire, early Friday, July 14, 2006, in Millville, N.J. Candles being used to light a house after its electricity was turned off apparently triggered a fire that killed a woman and her two young boys Friday. Melissa Langley, 28, and sons Parrish Langley, 2, and Edwin Langley, 9, died when the fire swept through the ranch home they shared with Melissa Langley's mother, Sandra Langley, 52. (AP Photo/Dale Wettstein)|
BOMBAY, India -- The death toll from a series of bombs that struck Bombay's packed commuter trains rose Wednesday to 200, and India demanded that Pakistan dismantle the "infrastructure of terrorism," but leveled no direct accusation at its rival for the attacks.
Pakistan called the demand baseless.
The number of dead in the eight near-simultaneous bombings during Tuesday evening's rush hour in India's financial hub has risen steadily as rescue efforts uncovered more bodies and people have succumbed to their injuries.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the bombings would not slow the country's strong economic growth, and that Indians would stand united in the face of the attacks.
"This is not the first time that the enemies of our nation have tried to undermine our peace and prosperity," he said in a televised address. "These elements have not yet understood that we Indians can stand united."
"The wheels of our economy will move on," he said. "We will win this war against terror."
R. Patil, the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra state, told lawmakers that 200 bodies had been found in the twisted wreckage of the trains. Bombay is the capital of Maharashtra.
Officials say more than 700 people were wounded in the attack, stunning a city that embodies India's global ambitions.
Many here suspect the attacks were the work of Kashmiri militants that New Delhi charges are trained, armed and funded by Islamabad. Pakistan insists it only offers the rebels diplomatic and moral support.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna repeated Indian demands that Pakistan crack down on the militants, who New Delhi says operate from Islamabad's part of Kashmir.
"We would urge Pakistan to take urgent steps to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on the territory under its control and act resolutely against individuals and groups who are responsible for terrorists' violence," he said.
Pakistan rejected as baseless the allegations that terrorists use it as a base.
"Pakistan does not tolerate terrorism and is in the forefront of international efforts to fight this menace," a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said in a statement.
India controls the other part of Kashmir, its only Muslim-majority state.
A senior Indian police official said investigators were looking into a possible link to Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, a Kashmiri militant group that has denied a role in the bombings.
"It is difficult to say definitely as this stage, but Lashkar-e-Tayyaba can be involved going by the style of attack," said P.S. Pasricha, the director general of police for Maharashtra state, where Bombay is located.
Lashkar has, in the past, employed near-simultaneous explosions to attack Indian cities.
Other Indian officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was just getting under way, cautioned that it was too early to accuse a specific group.
Suspected Islamic militants wounded five Indian tourists in a grenade attack in a resort town in Indian-controlled Kashmir, police said. The attack came after eight people were killed Tuesday by grenade attacks in Srinagar, Indian Kashmir's main city.
Pakistan has harshly condemned the bombings, but analysts said a Kashmiri link could slow -- or even derail -- the peace process between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
For Some reason most of the attackers on Christians are allegedly mentally unbalanced ! Yet , they know who to attack !
ANKARA, Turkey, JULY 3, 2006 (Zenit.org).- A French priest who was stabbed Sunday in the Turkish city of Samsun had already suffered threats, insults and vandalism.
Father Pierre Brunissen, 76, was due to return to France within a few weeks as he was about to complete his service.
The priest was wounded Sunday evening in the street by a man who appears to be mentally unbalanced, and who was already known to the police for other acts of violence.
The priest was still hospitalized today but was expected to be released shortly. Although he lost a lot of blood, he is now out of danger, reported AsiaNews.
Father Brunissen has spent 15 years as a "fidei donum" missionary priest in Turkey. People in Samsun told AsiaNews: "It is not the first time Father Pierre was attacked, insulted by false accusations, and his church targeted by vandals."
Before the murder of Father Andrea Santoro -- the Italian priest killed Feb. 5 in Trabzon -- he was threatened several times.
After the Roman priest's death, Father Brunissen was targeted by intimidation and vandalism, but the priest insisted on staying put in the city on the Black Sea, because he was the only priest for the small local community.
The tiny Christian community of Samsun is composed mostly of foreigners in the city for work, people from former Soviet republics and a few Japanese.
WASHINGTON, June 23 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Seven Florida men have been arrested on charges that include conspiring to provide material support to the al Qaeda terrorist organization and conspiracy to levy war against the United States by discussing and planning attacks on targets in the United States, including the Sears Tower in Chicago and the FBI building and other federal buildings in Florida, the Department of Justice announced today.
The seven men -- Narseal Batiste, Patrick Abraham, Stanley Grant Phanor, Naudimar Herrera, Burson Augustin, Lyblenson Lemorin and Rothschild Augustine -- were named in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Florida (Miami). The indictment charges four counts: conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, namely al Qaeda; conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists; conspiracy to maliciously damage and destroy by means of an explosive; and conspiring to levy war against the government of the United States.
The defendants -- five U.S. citizens, one legal permanent resident, and one Haitian national in the country illegally -- have all been arrested and are expected to make appearances at U.S. District Court in Miami today.
The indictment alleges that, beginning in November 2005 and continuing to the present, Bastiste recruited and supervised individuals to organize and train for a mission to wage war against the United States, including a plot to destroy the Sears Tower by explosives. Batiste and his co-conspirators allegedly attempted to obtain the support of al Qaeda to achieve their goals and discussed this desire with an individual cooperating with law enforcement who posed as a member of al Qaeda. Believing they were dealing with that terrorist group, in March 2006, Batiste and other defendants pledged an oath of allegiance to al Qaeda and allegedly supported a plan to destroy FBI buildings in the United States by taking photos of the FBI Building in North Miami Beach, Florida, and other federal buildings in Miami-Dade County.
Batiste then allegedly took reconnaissance photographs of the FBI Building in North Miami Beach, the James Lawrence King Federal Justice Building, federal courthouse buildings, the Federal Detention Center and the Miami Police Department. In addition to conducting surveillance, the defendants allegedly provided the individual, whom they believed was an al Qaeda member, with a list of materials and equipment needed to wage jihad, including boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios and vehicles. In December 2005, at one of a number of meetings with this person, Batiste spoke of using an army of "soldiers" and explosives to destroy the Sears Tower. In a subsequent meeting, he provided the individual with a list of other materials needed in his plot to take down the Sears Tower, including radios, binoculars, bullet proof vests, firearms, vehicles and $50,000 cash.
According to the indictment, the plot advanced further through meetings with other co-defendants. In one of the meetings on Feb. 19, 2006, Batiste allegedly told the "al Qaeda representative" that he wanted to attend al Qaeda training with five of his soldiers, with a mission to wage a "full ground war" against the United States in order to "kill all the devils we can," which "will be just as good or greater than 9/11." Ultimately, all seven of the defendants allegedly swore bayat, or an oath of loyalty to al Qaeda.
"The convergence of globalization and technology has created a new brand of terrorism. Homegrown terrorists may prove to be as dangerous as groups like al Qaeda," said Attorney General Gonzales. "I am pleased by the cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement in taking down this group of individuals who wished to harm our country and its citizens."
U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta of the Southern District of Florida stated, "Batiste and his group had the intent and took several steps toward fulfilling their plan of blowing up the Sears Tower and the Miami FBI building. They were never able to obtain, however, the explosives or access needed to implement their plan. The South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force successfully performed its mission to prevent terrorism by identifying, disrupting and prosecuting these individuals before they posed an immediate threat to our nation."
FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole said, "Today's announcement marks yet another important victory in the war on terrorism. It is also, however, a grim reminder of the persistent threat environment that exists here at home and underscores the need for continued vigilance and cooperation. I'd like to commend all the members on our Joint Terrorism Task Forces who work tirelessly day and night to interdict these threats and hold accountable those who seek to inflict harm on the U.S."
If convicted, the defendants in this case face a maximum penalty of 15 years each in prison on the charges of conspiracy to provide material support or resources, and a maximum of 20 years in prison each on the charges of conspiracy to destroy by use of explosives and conspiracy to levy war against the United States.
The arrests are the result of an investigation led by the FBI's South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in Miami. The JTTF is comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies whose primary work is to identify and disrupt terrorist cells before they commit acts of terror. Members of the JTTF include the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida; the FBI; U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement; U.S. Secret Service; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Internal Revenue Service; the Bureau of Prisons; the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; Miami Dade Police Department; City of Miami Police Department; Broward Sheriff's Office; Palm Beach County's Sheriff's Office; Ft. Lauderdale Police Department; Hollywood Police Department; and the Miramar Police Department.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacqueline Arango and Richard Getchell of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida.
A commentary by Michael Cutler Immigration and Border Security Analyst.
An article that will appear in this week's edition of Time Magazine has occupied a prominent place in the news this weekend. I have attached a link to that article below. The article includes a few pages from a new book that details an Al-Qaeda plot to attack the New York City subway system with cyanide gas that, according to the author of the book, Ron Suskind, was terminated by Al-Qaeda just 45 days before the attack was to be launched. Purportedly the reason to end this plan was the fact that it was not of great enough magnitude. Simply stated, they would not kill enough New Yorkers and other who would have been unfortunate enough to be riding the subways on the day of the attack!
Not surprisingly two of New York most vocal elected officials, Senator Chuck Schumer and his protege, Representative Anthony Weiner immediately did was they always do, they headed for the nearest radio microphone or television camera, expressing their rage and anger that the administration has recently cut New York's counter-terrorism budget by some 40%. They were actually both right and wrong at the same time, but then, most politicians try to be in two places at the same time and where this story is concerned, they remained true to their political instincts. Certainly it is sheer madness that as our nation wages a war against terrorism that the one city in the United States that has been attacked on two separate occasions by terrorists would have its counter-terrorism budget slashed. On the other had, neither Chuck Schumer nor Anthony Weiner are willing to confront the issue of illegal immigration and its nexus to national security.
Several months ago, I was asked to participate in a brief discussion with Representative Weiner on the local Fox News television station, Channel 5, that is broadcast for the New York audience. The topic of the discussion was the immigration crisis confronting the United States. We had all of 3 minutes to engage in a discussion about an issue that is arguably one of the most critical confronting our country. When I talked about the need to secure our borders and restore integrity to the immigration system where, according the GAO, fraud, corruption and a lack of resources compromise the system by which our government adjudicates applications for a wide variety of immigration benefits including the conferring of resident alien status and even United States citizenship upon aliens, Representative Weiner, with his usual condescending smile waved his hand dismissively at me and said that I had become a member of the Ostrich Caucus! I have no idea what that crack was supposed to mean, other than his all too obvious effort to block any discussion about immigration law enforcement. Outside the studio we chatted for a few minutes and he made it perfectly clear that he has no desire to see our borders secured. He told me I needed to rethink my position on immigration! I told him he needed to read the 9/11 Commission report and especially the 911 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel. That report made it clear that the terrorists who attacked our nation on September 11, 2001 needed to first of all, manage to enter the United States in order to attack us and then embed themselves within our borders in order to prepare for the attack.
Chuck Schumer, is another interesting politician. In 1985 I paid him a visit because he was, back then, my elected Representative in Congress (Weiner now occupies that same seat). I was concerned that Schumer was the principle architect and advocate for a provision of the 1986 Amnesty Bill that would provide agricultural workers with a separate amnesty program within the overall bill. I told Schumer that if my son, who at the time was one year old, would decide to become an immigration agent when he turned 21, Schumer's amnesty program would be so hobbled by fraud that my boy would be guaranteed job security because it would take decades to clear up the mess that the bill would create if it was enacted into law. Schumer smiled condescendingly at me and told me that I did not understand the bigger issues and then, looking down at his watch told me my 15 minutes was up!
Interestingly, several of the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center in 1993 were amnesty applicants and, indeed, fraud permeated the entire amnesty of 1986 which is why just about every politicians refuses to acknowledge that the guest worker program and "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" really does not constitute an "Amnesty!"
The story that is covered in the Time Magazine article involves a number of components of the counter-terrorism efforts of our government. For me, as a former senior special agent of the INS, a simple question posed by President Bush, contained in the article explains my concerns about an area in which I have some expertise:
The U.S. cell, whereabouts unknown, was linked to them both.
Bush, in tactical mode, pressed them. "Who came to New York?" and "Are they still here, somewhere?"
The answer from the CIA briefers: "We don't know."
As you read that simple question,ask yourself, how could George W. Bush, the President of the United States, who has taken the oath of office not once, but twice, to defend our nation against all enemies, domestic and foreign could not understand that our open borders and dysfunctional immigration system leaves our nation vulnerable to terrorists who apparently have no problem entering our country and then embedding themselves in our country after they manage to cross our borders either by running our borders or by entering through a port of entry. US VISIT is the program that is supposed to register the entry departure of nonimmigrant aliens who enter our country and is supposed to be able to answer the question the President asked, "...Are they still here, somewhere?" Perhaps, one day, years from now, that system will be able to answer that question for such aliens who enter the United States through ports of entry, but for now, even after the expenditure of many millions of dollars, the system is unable to answer that basic question. This is one example of the dysfunctional immigration system that has scant hope of being fixed anytime soon. Ask yourself how the President could, 3 years after that discussion could believe it is reasonable to slash funds to help prepare New York to deal with a terrorist attack while not hiring enough special agents to enforce the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States or enough Border Patrol agents to secure our nation's borders. Ask yourself what the President has done to rectify the nonfeasance, misfeasance and malfeasance that passes for "business as usual" at USCIS, the division of DHS that would be responsible for administering the Guest Worker Amnesty program he touts at virtually every opportunity?
Ask yourself if Senator Schumer or Congressman Weiner are doing more than looking for a sound bite on the evening news when they stand before the microphones and cameras ranting about the slashing of funds for New York but not saying anything about our porous borders and broken immigration system?
Leadership requires integrity and a willingness to do whatever is necessary to accomplish critical goals. If my concerns about border security and a failed immigration bureaucracy causes Mr. Weiner to think I belong to the "Ostrich Caucus" I would ask you, in what category would you place a member of the United States Congress whose district is in the one city of the United States that holds the tragic distinction of having suffered casualties in not one by two terrorist attacks? The first attack on the World Trade Center on September 26, 1993 killed 6 innocent victims and injured thousands of people. The damage to the World Trade Center Complex was estimated to be 500 million dollars. As I make public appearances in many venues discussing illegal immigration and our nation's "War on Terror" when I mention that date in February, 1993 I often notice that some of the members of the audience seem to not initially recall the date of the first attack on the Trade Center. I believe that this is because of how horrifically that attack was eclipsed by the attacks of September 11, 2001. I often find it difficult to sleep at night as I ponder what attack may come to eclipse the attacks of September 11.
We don't need sound bites and photo opportunities. We don't need slashed budgets for critical programs to help protect our citizens and our nation especially while the administration spends hundreds of millions of dollars on technology on the border that does not work and yet refuses to secure the borders and hire enough personnel to make the immigration system effective.
We need real leaders. The all clear has most certainly not sounded and time is on the side of our enemies. I hope that perhaps Senator Schumer and Representative Weiner and their colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives will finally understand my concerns and join with me in demanding that our nation finally address the critical immigration issues before there is another attack with many more fatalities. There are members of both houses who do "get it" and they should be commended and considered role models for those who still want to stick their heads in the sand and emulate ostriches!
With the publication of this article and the book that this article focuses on, it is clear that the President and his cabinet truly understand our vulnerabilities. My question to the President and his advisors and cabinet members is a simple one. What are you doing? What will it take to get you to protect the citizens you are responsible for protecting and a nation you swore to defend?
Lead, follow or get out of the way!
A religiously motivated attack on statues at a museum in Cairo has sparked outcry in Egypt and fuelled fears that the country is veering towards an Islamic state.
The attack on three artworks, by a black-clad and veiled woman screaming, "Infidels, infidels!" followed a fatwa issued by the Grand Mufti of Cairo, Ali Gomaa, which banned all decorative statues of living beings.
Possible targets in future: Tutankhamen and Amenhotep
|Possible targets in future: Tutankhamen and Amenhotep|
It led to furious criticism of the mufti from Egyptian liberals. In a televised debate with the mufti after the attack, one poet raged that "the prevalent religious discourse in the country encourages terror".
Although the ancient treasures of Egypt have been protected under Islam so far, an increasing extremism in the country could make statues such as the quartzite head of Nefertiti, the colossus of Amenhotep, and the golden death mask of Tutankhamen possible targets in future.
At the scene of the attack, in the villa and museum of the Egyptian sculptor, Hassan Heshmat, guards said they had been woken in the middle of the night by the woman's shouts and the sounds of destruction.
"It was a fully covered, religious woman," said Raisa Intesar, who looks after both the museum and Mr Heshmat, who is now 86. "She had jumped over the wall. We rushed out to stop her but by the time we had overpowered her, she had destroyed three statues."
The damaged works included Motherhood, a piece featuring three delicately carved heads, all of which had been snapped off. Also damaged was a smaller piece, The Victory Leap, Heshmat's tribute to Egyptian troops in the 1973 Yom Kippur war.
But the patriotic sentiment of the work was lost on the attacker, who was intent on following a religious imperative. "She had been listening to the mufti, and was following his orders," Ms Intesar said.
In Islam, representations of the human form and potential idolatry are particularly sensitive topics and helped to fuel the riots over the depiction of the Prophet earlier this year.
So, in Egypt, which has become markedly more conservative in recent years, artists such as Mr Heshmat now find that national pride is losing out to religious fervour.
The attack exemplifies the clash of secular and religious societies in Egypt where, on the streets of Cairo, beauties in low-cut tops mingle with veiled women who walk behind their husbands.
"We are seeing an increase of conservative, Islamist feeling," said Nabil Abdel Fatah, from the Al Ahram centre for Political and Strategic studies in Cairo.
"The Islamisation of Egyptian society is happening from the bottom up, and now it has reached the middle classes - the doctors, the lawyers.
"Over the next few years political Islam will grow and grow," he added. "The duality between secular and religious is very dangerous and will lead to a very serious conflict in Egyptian society.
We are already seeing terror attacks. And we will see new radical groups who will want to change the state in the most basic way - by suicide bombs and assassination."
Comfortably installed in the cafe at the top of Egypt's parliament building, 72-year-old Sheikh Said Askar smiled benignly at such ideas.
Sheikh Askar is one of 88 members of parliament for the Muslim Brotherhood, whose offshoots include Hamas, now in power in the Palestinian territories, and which seeks to impose Sharia law throughout Egypt.
Although he is also a long-serving scholar at Cairo's al Azhar mosque, from where the mufti issued his fatwa on statues, he said the Brotherhood will use its growing voice in parliament - not bombs - to effect change. "I want to see Egypt become an Islamic state," he said. "We are near to that."
As little as a year ago, such an idea would have been fanciful. Sheikh Askar was locked up ahead of last autumn's parliamentary elections, from which the Brotherhood was banned.
Running as independents, and despite widespread government interference, its members markedly exceeded expectations by winning enough seats to become the main opposition. Had it not been so restricted, some say, it could have won.
"I understand that an Islamic Egypt scares the West," said Sheikh Askar. "But the secular government has failed the people. Now our group will spread the glory of Islam."
Karachi, June 17, 2006|19:11 IST
A Pakistani Muslim man accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammad has been killed inside a court compound in a frenzied knife attack, police said on Saturday.
The suspect accused of blasphemy, Abdul Sattar Gopang, was set upon by two attackers as he was leaving a court in the town of Muzzafargarh, 480 km southeast of Islamabad, on Friday.
He was stabbed in the chest 15 times.
Police described the attackers as "religious fanatics".
The two, a student and a shopkeeper, were arrested on murder charges, policemen Rai Tahir told the agency by telephone.
"They have no regrets, they're smiling," Tahir said. "They say they decided to kill Gopang at the first opportunity, that it was their duty."
Gopang had been arrested in March after being accused of uttering blasphemous comments during a fight with a man.
Blasphemy is against the law in Muslim Pakistan and carries the death sentence. Cases are relatively common but death sentences have never been carried out because convictions have always been turned down by high courts citing lack of evidence.
While death sentences have not been carried out, there are occasionally instances of enraged mobs attacking and killing people accused of blasphemy, including desecration of the Quran.
On Thursday, a mob killed a Muslim cleric in a village in Punjab province after members of a rival religious group accused the cleric of burning pages of the Quran.
A teacher who tried to save the cleric was attacked and hurt, said police official Arif Nawaz said.
The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said the cleric's killing highlighted how the blasphemy law was abused by people to settle personal or religious disputes.
"We've been demanding that the government change the law radically so people can't misuse it," said commission head Iqbal Haider.
Anger, yes, but neither CAIR nor anyone else can establish that anything he said is false. In fact, Muslim leaders confirm in this story that what he said is true -- even Muhammad's marriage to nine-year-old Aisha. From IslamOnline, with thanks to Girasol:
WASHINGTON, June 15 (IslamOnline & News Agencies) - A Florida minister from the Southern Baptist Church sparked anger in the U.S. Muslim community earlier this week with derogatory remarks concerning the Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
Reverend Jerry Vines, speaking at an annual church conference in Saint Louis, Missouri, attacked Prophet Mohammed and said that the “the man who founded Islam had 12 wives, the last of which was a nine-year-old girl.”
Vines claimed in the speech that many of America’s problems could be blamed on religious pluralism.
Pluralists "would have us to believe that Islam is just as good as Christianity, but I'm here to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that Islam is not just as good as Christianity," said Vines.
“And I will tell you Allah is not Jehovah either. Jehovah's not going to turn you into a terrorist that'll try to bomb people and take the lives of thousands and thousands of people," he continued.
During Vines’ address missionaries handed out green ribbons to encourage Baptists to pray for Muslims' conversion to Christianity.
Speaking on the issue of the Prophet’s marriages, prominent Muslim Scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi said that before the advent of Islam, it had been the habit of men to marry an unlimited number of women. The Old Testament states that David had 100 wives and Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. However, Islam nullified marriage to more than four women.
“Allah Almighty granted Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, something that is not allowed to any other Muslims. He Almighty allowed him to keep the wives that he had married and did not order him to divorce, replace any of them, or to marry anymore women,” he said....
“He did not marry any of his wives for lust or worldly desires, but for the good of Islam in order to strengthen the ties between the people and the new religion, especially because kinship and blood relations were well respected among the Arabs...."
Another Muslim Scholar, Muhammad Ali Al-Hanooti said that the marriage of A'isha was Allah's plan for the Prophet.
“Allah usually is not the one who we are allowed to argue with for any ordinance or commandment. The Qur'an says, "He is not questioned for what He does, but they (people) are questioned for what they do."
”A'isha got married when she was 9, when the Prophet (SAAWS) died, she was 19. Her 10 years were of the life of a fully dedicated deciple, trainee and scholarly student with the Prophet (SAAWS). She was the source of knowledge for almost every companion. She was of the main sources for revealing knowledge and information of the private life of the Prophet (SAAWS). She was a big celebrity in politics and the best example of generosity. Her life is a token of a person who lived on earth, but never liked anything of dunya. She was always looking forward to joining the Prophet (SAAWS) in heaven. What is wrong in her marriage of six or nine or whatsoever?,” said Al Hanooti
In response to Vines’ comments, an indignant Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on U.S. President George W. Bush, Christian and Jewish leaders to condemn the minister's "reckless, Islamophobic statements."
"Reckless Islamophobic statements from individuals regarded as leaders in their faith community will harm America's image and interests worldwide and will serve to divide Americans at this time of national crisis," said CAIR president Omar Ahmad.
He said that such rhetoric from "respected leaders" could motivate hate crimes against some of the seven million Muslims living in the United States.
Seven million? Probably not even half that. But anyway, why doesn't Ahmad spend any time trying to dampen the inflammatory rhetoric that fuels actual violence by Muslims against non-Muslims around the world, instead of invoking the imaginary specter of vigilante violence against Muslims in the U.S.?
Eric Erfan Vickers, executive director for the American Muslim Council (AMC), in a statement noted the Southern Baptist Church’s historical legacy of supporting segregation between whites and blacks, said, Vines’ remarks “not only reflect unpardonable ignorance, but also indicate at a growing climate of religious prejudice in America.”
“Any failure by our nation’s political and religious leaders to condemn Vines’ bigotry will only give license to other hatemongers,” Vickers asserted.
Why is it bigotry and ignorance and Islamophobia if it's true? Vines said that Christianity is superior to Islam, but don't Ahmad and Vickers believe that Islam is superior to Christianity? Is one bigotry and the other isn't?
But of course the problem is not so much Aisha as the suggestion that Islam teaches violence:
Shakur Bolden, president of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida, called Vines' comments misinformed and said they unfairly painted Muslims as if they were all religious extremists.
"We don't let the bad eggs define our way of life," Bolden said to the Florida Times-Union, "just as he would not let the Ku Klux Klan or the IRA [Irish Republican Army] or other fanatic Christian organizations define mainstream Christianity."
Yet here again, the perspectives of the KKK and IRA were never accepted by any mainstream Christian sect or organization, while violent jihad is taught by every mainstream sect and school of jurisprudence in Islam.
"It's really unfortunate that a top leader in a mainstream Christian church ... would use such hate-filled and bigoted language in describing the faith of one-fifth of the world's population," said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper.
"This is the level of bigotry that requires a clear statement from the top leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention," he added....
Let Hooper denounce child marriages undertaken in imitation of Muhammad, and declare Muhammad's example unacceptable in this case as well as in cases of violence perpetrated in the name of Islam, and he may have a leg to stand on. As it is, he doesn't.
However, in St. Louis, where the Southern Baptists were meeting, religious leaders distanced themselves from Vines. "In the name of God, we condemn the hateful statement made in our city about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad," said Episcopal Bishop George Wayne Smith.
Does Smith really believe he was a prophet?
Rome, June 12, 2006
The trial of Italian author and veteran journalist Oriana Fallaci, accused of defaming Islam in a 2004 book, opened Monday in northern Italy and was quickly adjourned, a lawyer said. Fallaci, who lives in New York, did not attend the hearing in Bergamo, northern Italy.
Monday's hearing was largely devoted to technicalities, and the proceedings were adjourned to June 26, said Matteo Nicoli, a lawyer for the Muslim activist who brought the lawsuit against Fallaci. Activist Adel Smith, who also was not in court, charged that some passages in Fallaci's book, The Strength of Reason, were offensive to Islam. His lawyer cited a phrase from the book that refers to Islam as "a pool ... that never purifies."
Last year, a judge ordered that Fallaci stand trial on charges of violating an Italian law that prohibits "outrage" to religion. He cited a passage that reads: "To be under the illusion that there is a good Islam and a bad Islam or not to understand that Islam is only one ... is against reason."
Fallaci told The Associated Press last year that "I have expressed my opinion through the written word through my books, that is all." The offense with which she is charged carries a fine of up to €6,000 (US$7,500).
Fallaci wrote The Rage and the Pride in response to the September 11 attacks
A former war correspondent, Fallaci has often stirred controversy with her blunt publications and provocative stances. Her most recent books have drawn accusations she incites hatred against Muslims. A group in France unsuccessfully sought to stop distribution of her best-selling essay The Rage and the Pride, written as a response to the September 11 attacks.
In The Strength of Reason, Fallaci accuses Europe of having sold its soul to what she describes as an Islamic invasion. Smith is also known for taking radical positions. He gained attention in Italy in 2003 when he sought unsuccessfully to have the crucifix removed from the public elementary school his sons attended. As head of the small Muslim Union of Italy, he has launched numerous legal battles, causing several Islamic organizations to distance themselves.
Asked to review case of class that had students 'become Muslims'
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com
A public-interest legal group is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals allowing a California public school to engage in a three-week intensive course for 7th graders on how to "become Muslims."
A California federal trial court and the 9th Circuit, widely considered the nation's most liberal appeals court, determined the class did not violate the Constitution.
As WND reported, the lawsuit was filed by the Thomas More Law Center against the Byron Union School District and various school officials to stop the "Islam simulation" materials and methods used in the Excelsior School in Byron, Calif.The 2001 course had students take Islamic names and wear identification tags that displayed their new Islamic name and the Muslim star and crescent moon. They also were handed materials that instructed them to "Remember Allah always so that you may prosper"; complete the Islamic five pillars of faith, including fasting; and memorize and recite the "Bismillah," or "In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate," which students also wrote on banners hung on the classroom walls.
Students also played "jihad games" during the course, which was part of the school's world history and geography program.
Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, said the "case cries out double standard."
"The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is the same court that held our Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional because it contained the phrase 'under God,' and yet they allow a three-week intensive course on how to become Muslims, including class memorization of Islamic prayers and participation in Islamic religious rituals," Thompson said.
Edward L. White III, the Law Center's trial counsel handling the case, argued that although a public school may teach about religion, the school district "went far beyond an explanation of the historical or literary significance of Islam and placed these seventh graders into the position of becoming trainees in that religion."
"These young children were indoctrinated in Islam, which the Constitution forbids," White said.
The Supreme Court will decide within the next few months whether to review the case.
The Law Center argues the panel did not address the plaintiff's claims that their free exercise and parental rights had been violated.
White says parents were never told about the Islamic program and didn't know they had the option to remove their children from such an activity.
One of the parents found out by accident, looking through her son's schoolbag after the program had finished.
In December 2003, the San Francisco court determined the school district had not violated the Constitution.
In her 22-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton determined Excelsior was not indoctrinating students about Islam when it required them to adopt Muslim names and pray to Allah, but rather was just teaching them about the Muslim religion.
But White insists a line was crossed, placing the students in the "position of being trainees in Islam, which is impermissible in a public school."
When WorldNetDaily first reported the story in January 2002 – shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks committed by 19 Islamist terrorists – major controversy ensued nationwide.
The course was part of a curriculum taught to seventh-graders all over the state, included in the state's curriculum standards required by the state board of education. Although the standards outline what subjects should be taught and included in state assessment tests, they didn't mandate how they're to be taught.
At the end of the three-week course, Excelsior teacher Brooke Carlin presented a final test requiring students to critique Muslim culture.
The Islam simulations at Excelsior are outlined in the state-adopted textbook "Across the Centuries," published by Houghton Mifflin, which prompts students to imagine they are Islamic soldiers and Muslims on a Mecca pilgrimage.
The lawsuit also alleges students were encouraged to use such phrases in their speech as "Allahu Akbar," which is Arabic for "Allah is greatest," and were required to fast during lunch period to simulate fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Nevertheless, Judge Hamilton ruled the program was devoid of "any devotional or religious intent" and was, therefore, educational, not religious in nature.
Dr Helmy Guirguis
President, UK Coptic Association
• Zarqawi's real name was Ahmed Fadhil al-Khalayleh.
• Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden appointed him as his deputy in Iraq in October 2004.
• He claimed responsibility for suicide blasts and attacks in Iraq, as well as beheadings of foreign hostages.
• He had a $25 million US bounty on his head.
• After returning from Afghanistan, Zarqawi began a violent campaign in the early 1990s to replace Jordan's monarchy with an Islamist state.
• He was jailed for 15 years in 1996 but was freed three years later under an amnesty when King Abdullah assumed the throne.
• A Jordanian court sentenced him to death in absentia in 2002 for plotting attacks against US and Israeli targets in Jordan.
• He was again sentenced to death in 2004 for planning the assassination of US diplomat Laurence Foley in the capital Amman in 2002.
• In 2005, Jordan's state security court handed Zarqawi his third death sentence in absentia for planning a failed suicide attack.
• Zarqawi claimed triple suicide bomb attacks that killed
60 people at luxury hotels in Amman in November 2005.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Al-Qaeda-linked militant who led a bloody campaign of suicide bombings, kidnappings and hostage beheadings in Iraq, has been killed in a US air raid north of Baghdad.
The Al-Qaeda terror network confirmed on Thursday the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, its frontman in Iraq, in a statement published on an Islamist website.
Earlier, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had announced that al-Zarqawi was killed on Wednesday evening along with seven aides. "Today Zarqawi has been terminated," he said.
The Jordanian-born militant, who is believed to have personally beheaded at least two American hostages, became Iraq's most wanted militant, as notorious as Osama bin Laden, to whom he swore allegiance in 2004.
The United States put a $25 million (about euro20 million) bounty on al-Zarqawi, the same as bin Laden.
In the past year, he moved his campaign beyond Iraq's borders, claiming to have carried out a November 9, 2005 triple suicide bombing against hotels in Amman that killed 60 people.
US forces and their allies came close to capturing al-Zarqawi several times since his campaign began in mid-2003.
His closest brush may have come in late 2004.
Deputy Interior Ministry Maj Gen Hussein Kamal said Iraqi security forces caught al-Zarqawi near the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.
But then released him because they didn't realise who he was.
In May 2005, Web statements by his group said al-Zarqawi had been wounded in fighting with Americans and was being treated in a hospital abroad -- raising speculation over a successor among his lieutenants.
But days later, a statement said al-Zarqawi was fine and had returned to Iraq.
There was never any independent confirmation of the reports of his wounding.
US forces believe they just missed capturing al-Zarqawi in a February 20, 2005 raid in which troops closed in on his vehicle west of Baghdad near the Euphrates River.
His driver and another associate were captured and al-Zarqawi's computer was seized along with pistols and ammunition.
US troops twice launched massive invasions of Fallujah, the stronghold used by Al-Qaeda in Iraq fighters and other insurgents west of Baghdad.
An April 2004 offensive left the city still in insurgent hands, but the October 2004 assault wrested it from them.
However, al-Zarqawi -- if he was in the city -- escaped.
Parliament Among Group's Targets, Summary Indicates
By Doug Struck
TORONTO, June 6 -- Suspects arrested last weekend in an alleged terrorism plot planned to storm the Canadian Parliament and hold politicians hostage, and at least one wanted to behead the prime minister if demands to withdraw Canada's troops from Afghanistan were not met, according to a summary of prosecutors' allegations read in court Tuesday.
According to authorities, the group also planned to bomb power plants in Ontario and invade the downtown Toronto studios of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., according to the written statement submitted to the court by defense attorney Gary Batasar and read into the record at his request.
The statement, which the lawyer said was a summary of the government's planned charges, indicated that the men had planned to demand the removal of Canada's 2,300 troops from Afghanistan and the release of all Muslim prisoners held in Afghanistan and Iraq. Politicians including Prime Minister Stephen Harper were to be killed if the demands were refused, according to the government allegations, Batasar told reporters outside the courthouse. Prosecutors did not comment on the statements.
The statements offered the first details of the plot that police and intelligence agencies said they disrupted in a series of raids overnight Friday. Twelve men and five youths were arrested.
Fifteen of the suspects appeared in a courthouse in suburban Brampton on Tuesday morning, shackled together and wearing prison T-shirts. Most were remanded for a bail hearing on Monday.
"The allegations are very serious, including storming and bombing of various buildings," Batasar, who represents Steven Vikash Chand, 25, told reporters outside the courthouse. "There is an allegation apparently that my client personally indicated that he wanted to behead the prime minister of Canada."
In the capital, Ottawa, Harper brushed aside the news with a joke. "I can live with all these threats as long as they are not from my caucus," he quipped as he walked into his office.
The reaction of other lawmakers ranged from disbelief to worry.
"There were certainly some grandiose plans being made," Joseph Cordiano, a Liberal in Ontario's provincial Parliament, told reporters. "I have serious, serious doubts about their capacity to carry it out."
"The plot was a very serious one," said Peter Van Loan, a Conservative in Parliament representing Ontario. "I don't expect this is the only threat out there. The thing we can take comfort in is that Canada's security measures worked."
The arrests, carried out by hundreds of police officers, have added tension to the issue of U.S.-Canada border security. Canadian politicians have become rankled over comments by some U.S. legislators that the charges are evidence of the danger of terrorism coming south across the long, lightly guarded border.
"I'm very concerned about the amount of play in the U.S. that the threat Canada poses as a 'gateway to terrorism,' " Parliament member Mark Holland, a Liberal representing a Toronto suburb, told CBC television. "It's certainly not true."
Batasar portrayed the sensational allegations as an attempt by the government to frighten the public.
"It appears to me that whether you are in Toronto or Ottawa or Crawford, Texas, or Washington, D.C., what is wanting to be instilled in the public is fear," he said.
Batasar said his client had not spoken to him about the charges. "He said nothing about that. My client retains the right to silence." In the packed courtroom, the accused nodded or waved to relatives, but said little on their own. Several defense attorneys protested that they had been unable to meet their clients individually and that the suspects had not been permitted to see their families.
"Counsel would like to have that right" to talk to their clients personally, not through a plexiglass shield, said defense attorney Donald McLeod.
Several women in black Islamic dress came to watch the proceedings, but would not talk to reporters outside the courthouse. Missing from the hearing was the huge presence of heavily armed police that had guarded the courthouse Saturday when the suspects made an initial appearance.
In announcing the raids, police said the arrests were the result of the largest anti-terrorism investigation in Canada since Sept. 11, 2001. They said the suspects had procured three tons of an explosive fertilizer, intending to set it off at a public target.
By IAN AUSTEN and DAVID JOHNSTON
Published: June 4, 2006
OTTAWA, June 3 — Seventeen Canadian residents were arrested and charged with plotting to attack targets in southern Ontario with crude but powerful fertilizer bombs, the Canadian authorities said Saturday.
Steve Russell/Toronto Star, via Associated Press
A police officer stood guard in Pickering, Ontario, on Friday.
The arrests represented one of the largest counterterrorism sweeps in North America since the attacks of September 2001. American officials said that the plot did not involve any targets in the United States, but added that the full dimension of the plan for attacks was unknown.
At a news conference in Toronto, police and intelligence officials said they had been monitoring the group for some time and moved in to make the arrests on Friday after the group arranged to take delivery of three tons of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that can be made into an explosive when combined with fuel oil.
"It was their intent to use it for a terrorist attack," said Mike McDonell, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police assistant commissioner. He said that by comparison the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people, was carried out "with only one ton of ammonium nitrate."
The 17 men were mainly of South Asian descent and most were in their teens or early 20's. One of the men was 30 years old and the oldest was 43 years old, police officials said. None of them had any known affiliation with Al Qaeda.
"They represent the broad strata of our society," Mr. McDonell said. "Some are students, some are employed, some are unemployed."
The Canadian police declined to identify specific targets, though they did dismiss reports in the news media that Toronto's subway system was on the list. The Toronto Star, citing an unidentified source, said the group had a list that included the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa as well as the Toronto branch office of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. At the news conference, officials emphasized that the targets were all in Canada.
In the United States, the arrests reignited fears among American counterterrorism officials about the porous northern border even as the Bush administration and lawmakers have focused attention in recent weeks about hardening the southern border in an effort to stanch the flow of illegal immigrants. Since the arrest of Ahmed Ressam in December 1999 as he tried to smuggle explosive chemicals into Washington State in a plot to strike targets that included the Los Angeles international airport, authorities have expressed fears that extremists could use Canada as a platform to make attacks inside the United States.
The arrests came at the end of a week of furious debate over federal spending for domestic security, with officials in cities like New York and Washington bitterly criticizing Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security, for not allocating more money to cities thought likely to remain high on the terrorist target list for Al Qaeda and other extremist groups.
The men accused in Canada operated what the police called training camps for its members. At their news conference, the police displayed at least one pistol, electronics components, military fatigues, army-style boots and two-way radios they said were used at the camps, although they would not disclose their locations.
The Toronto Star reported that in 2004 the intelligence agency began monitoring Internet exchanges, some of which were encrypted. According to the newspaper, the training in camps took place north of Toronto. Members of the group, according to that account, often visited a popular Canadian chain of doughnut shops to wash up following their training sessions.
Counterterrorism officials said that interviews with suspects would provide greater clarity about the nature of the plot, but they said that the men had taken a significant step, moving beyond the planning stage, toward acquiring a large quantity of potentially explosive fertilizer.
It was not clear whether the group ever had possession of the chemicals, or whether authorities may have had a role in arranging for the shipment or transporting the material.
A police spokeswoman, Cpl. Michele Paradis, asked whether the group had actually had the three tons of chemicals in their possession, and if the police had "seized" it, replied: "That's difficult to answer. They made arrangements to have it delivered and they took delivery."
American officials said that White House officials and counterterrorism agencies had been briefed on the case, and of the coming arrests, in recent days.
Russ Knocke, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said, "We are coordinating very closely with our Canadian counterparts." He said Mr. Chertoff spoke early Saturday with Stockwell Day, the Canadian minister of public safety, but added, "We have not made any adjustment to our security posture along the northern border."
The New York City Police Department, which has had a detective assigned as an intelligence liaison with the Toronto police for four years, said it was being kept informed, but had not altered its own security measures.
Even as American officials portrayed the case as mainly a Canadian operation, the arrests so close to the United States border jangled the nerves of intelligence officials who have been warning of the continuing danger posed by small "homegrown" extremist groups, who appeared to operate without any direct control by known leaders of Al Qaeda.
One senior counterterrorism official said there had been extensive contact between American and Canadian authorities in the past several days. Though there appeared to have been no direct threat inside the United States, the proximity of the potential terrorists to the American border "really got everybody's attention," the official said.
American officials were granted anonymity because they were speaking about a continuing investigation.
The F.B.I. issued a statement on Saturday saying there was a "preliminary indication" that some of the Canadian subjects might have had "limited contact" with two people from Georgia who were recently arrested. Those two were Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, 19, an American of Bangladeshi descent, and Syed Haris Ahmed, 21, a Pakistani-born American.
Law-enforcement officials said the men arrested in Georgia had made "casing" videos of various sites in Washington, D.C., and have said that their case was linked to the arrests of several men in Britain last fall, and that the two were believed to have met with "like-minded Islamic extremists " in Canada in March 2005.
A counterterrorism official in the United States said that while there was contact between the Georgia men earlier this year and those arrested in Canada on Friday, there was no evidence that the Georgia suspects were involved in the bombing plot.
The suspects were arrested in a series of raids that began late on Friday night and continued until early on Saturday morning, in Toronto, Mississauga and Kingston, a college town southwest of Ottawa.
All of the men under arrest were taken to a heavily fortified police station in Pickering, Ontario, a city east of Toronto. Five were under the age of 18 and not identified by the authorities. The others were identified as Fahim Ahmad, 21; Zakaria Amara, 20; Asad Ansari, 21; Shareef Abdelhaleen, 30; Qayyum Abdul Jamal, 43; Mohammed Dirie, 22; Yasim Abdi Mohamed, 24; Jahmaal James, 23; Amin Mohamed Durrani, 19; Steven Vikash Chand, alias Abdul Shakur, 25; Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, 21; and Saad Khalid, 19.
Alvin Chand, the brother of suspect Steven Vikash Chand, dismissed the police allegations outside the courthouse.
"He's not a terrorist, come on, he's a Canadian citizen" Mr. Chand said, The Canadian Press reported. "The people that were arrested are good people. They go to the mosque. They go to school, go to college."
Anser Farooq, a lawyer from Mississauga who is representing five of the defendants, said a lack of information at Saturday's court hearing made it difficult to assess the case brought by the police.
In court, he said, government lawyers broke with tradition and did not present a synopsis of the reasons for their charges, arguing that they had not had time to prepare it. It will, however, be presented at another hearing on Tuesday.
He declined to identify his clients because he was still formalizing his relationship with some of them. But he said none of the five have a criminal record.
Tarek Fatah, the communications director of the Muslim Canadian Congress, a national group, said that Mr. Jamal, the oldest of the suspects, is a well-known and fiery figure in the Toronto area's South Asian community, and that he was the imam of the Ar-Rahman Quran Learning Center, a mosque in a rented industrial building in Mississauga.
Immigration from South Asia greatly expanded in Canada beginning in the 1970's, and, like several Canadian cities, Toronto and its suburbs have long had a large and prominent South Asian community. "He took over an otherwise peaceful mosque and threw out the old management," Mr. Fatah said. "There were reports throughout the community of him making hate speeches."
The mosque did not respond to phone messages. "This is the work of people who believe they are victimized when they are not," Mr. Fatah said. "Many Islamacists are preying on the Islamic community."
"Law enforcement agencies have done a great service to the Muslim community by busting this terrorist cell," he added.
Luc Portelance, the assistant director of operations at the Canadian intelligence agency, said the group's members "appear to have become adherents of a violent ideology inspired by Al Qaeda." The police official, however, said that there was no evidence of links between the two groups.
Canada has not sent troops to Iraq, and officials at the news conference said they did not believe the group was angry over Canada's deployment of troops to Afghanistan.
In a November 2002 audiotape claiming to be a message from Osama bin Laden, Bloomberg reported, Al Queda said Canada was "allying themselves with America in attacking us in Afghanistan," and listed five possible targets: Canada, the United States, Britain, Spain and Australia.
The arrests were only the second time that Canadian police have brought charges under anti-terrorism laws passed at the end of 2001. Just over two years ago, Mohammad Momin Khawaja, a software developer in Ottawa, was charged in connection with a bomb plot.
Both the police and a spokeswoman for the intelligence agency declined to say when they first became aware of the Canadian group. In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Mayor David Miller of Toronto said he was given a confidential briefing about the group several months ago.
All but two of the adult suspects appeared at a court north of Toronto in Brampton, Ontario, Saturday afternoon. By late morning, all entrances to the Brampton courthouse were blockaded by steel barriers and police cars. As snipers watched from nearby rooftops, people entering the court were required to remove their shoes and were searched at a series of three command checkpoints.
At the news conference, Mr. McDonell said, the authorities were successful in shutting down the terrorist group.
"These individuals were allegedly intent on committing acts of terrorism against their own country and their own people," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement. "Today, Canada's security and intelligence measures worked."
Ian Austen reported from Ottawa for this article, and David Johnston from Washington. Chris Mason contributed reporting from Ontario and Robert Pear from Washington.
An tennis coach and two players were shot to death this week in Baghdad because they were wearing shorts, authorities said yesterday, reporting the latest in a series of attacks attributed to Islamic extremists. In the incident, gunmen stopped a car carrying the Sunni Arab coach and two Shia players, asked them to step out and then shot them, said Manham Kubba secretary-general of the Iraqi Tennis Union. Extremists had distributed leaflets warning people in the mostly Sunni neighbourhoods of Saidiyah and Ghazaliyah warning people not to wear shorts, police said.
The Ottawa Citizen Newspaper, Sunday, May 28, 2006
"Merkel favours God reference in EU constitution"
by Honor Mahony ("EU Observer," May 26, 2006)
Berlin, Germany - German chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken out in favour of a reference to God in the EU constitution.
Speaking in Saarbrucken, Christian Democrat Merkel said "We live in a world in which we want to understand and communicate with other religions and cultures"..
This includes knowing your own roots and being aware of them which is why God and the Christian belief should be included into the EU constitution, she indicated.
Europe would lose something if it were to push its historical reference to the side, she said.
It is the first time Berlin has spoken out in favour of a Christian reference in the EU constitution, and could potentially reopen one of the most bitter debates surrounding the drawing up of the document four years ago.
Spain, Italy and Poland were among the most active countries in pushing for a strong Christian reference in the constitution - Germany's Christian Democrats were also very vocal but they were then in opposition.
At the time, the rhetoric surrounding the religion debate led Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country, to accuse the EU of acting like a Christian Club.
But after months of wrangling, the constitution, which is now on ice after having been rejected in two referendums last year, makes reference to Europe's religious heritage only in general terms.
"Drawing inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, the values of which, still present in its heritage, have embedded within the life of society the central role of the human person and his or her inviolable and inalienable rights, and respect for law", it states.
EU foreign ministers will gather in Austria tomorrow (27 May) to discuss where to go next with the document, which has been in an official state of limbo since June last year.
Merkel and Erdogan
Meanwhile, Mrs Merkel's words also come ahead of a meeting with Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday (26 May).
The meeting between the two leaders today – the first since Mrs Merkel came to power - is set to be quite different to meetings with the previous German chancellor, Gerhard Schroder.
Mr Schroder was one of the strongest advocates of Ankara's EU membership bid.
Mrs Merkel has been far more grudging, initially suggesting an alternative to full membership but lately saying that the EU should respect the commitments it has made to future members of the bloc.
The Pakistan Dawn report on the case of a 14 year old girl, who died in her hospital bed early yesterday morning.
Noor Jehan had been shot five times, about a month ago, on April 18. She had been shot in the stomach, leg, knee and arm in Gadap, near Karachi, the victim of an attempted honor killing.
Her relatives had accused her of having premarital sex, and apparently those who shot her were two of her cousins, Khadim and Sajan Lolai. After shooting Noor, her attackers left her in a ditch.
After the shooting, she had said: "They shot me with several bullets...I fell into the ditch and they drove away. They thought I was dead but...somehow I got the strength to come out."
Noor was taken to the Jinnah hospital, but on Sunday her condition deteriorated and she finally died, from complications arising from a stomach infection.
The reasons for her attempted (and now successful) murder are twofold. Police claimed that her cousins had plotted to kill Noor after she had asked her father permission to marry Khadim, a young man who was on a police "wanted" list for murder and kidnapping for ransom cases. Her father refused, and then her cousins started to accuse Noor of having sexual relations with the son of the landlord of her father's farm in Ratu Dero.
According to Fox News (with a hat tip to The Religion of Peace), Noor's body was taken to a morgue on Sunday, but so far, no family members have claimed it. Cruel.
The Daily Times also reports on a tragic incident befalling another 14-year old in Karachi, this time a boy. The teenager was doused in gasoline and set alight outside a restaurant in Karachi city in broad daylight. The attack happened at 2.30 pm local time, and the boy was taken to hospital at 3.05, where he was found to be suffering 98% burns. It was not until 7.25 pm that police were informed of the case.
We reported on the case of a woman who had her lips and nose cut off by her husband and her brother. An update from Dawn states that the attackers of 18-year old Ayesha had also tried to cut off her arms. Her husband, Eisa Khan Khosa and his brother had been arrested. Dawn now states that the father of the two men has also been arrested, according to police sources.
In Islamabad, the capital, today a conference was held to discuss the national disgrace of honor killing, which claims the lives of between 1000 and 1500 individuals, mostly women, every year in Pakistan. The Daily Times reports that the conference, entitled "We Can End Honour Killing" was attended by representatives of various NGOs, including Oxfam, and civil rights activists and community leaders.
Members said that political parties should make honour killings top of their agendas in the elections to be held next year. The figures accepted for honor killings include only those that are reported, delegates claimed. The true figure is far higher. According to the media reports available, between January and April this year, 158 women and 56 men had been killed nationally in honor killings, known as Karo Kiri. In North-West Frontier Province, a total of 76 women and men had been killed this year.
Honor killings and "compensation marriages" known as vani only became illegal at the start of last year. We reported on these on April 6 this year. Due to a clause known as "compoundability" relatives of the victim of an honour killing can legally be bribed by the murderer in such a case, and if the bribe is accepted, the honor-killer can walk free.
We also reported on the case of Mukhtar Mai, the woman from a village in Punjab province, whose 12 year old brother had been seen walking with a girl of a different caste. For this crime, a panchayat or Muslim village court ordered that Mukhtar Mai should be gang-raped. The cae drew international attention, and six of those who had raped her were given death sentences. However, in March, these men were freed on appeal.
The Daily Times reports that Mukhtar Mai, who was listed by Time magazine as among its 100 most influential people, attended a celebrity dinner in New York. Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Nader, Will Smith, Condoleeza Rice and others were at the event. Apparently, Mukhtar was not too impressed by celebrity. "I know no-one and know of no-one", she said through her translator. Then she raised her hand to her mouth and yawned
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Issues & Insights
Teaching Johnny About Islam
Education: In our brave new schools, Johnny can't say the pledge, but he can recite the Quran. Yup, the same court that found the phrase "under God" unconstitutional now endorses Islamic catechism in public school.
In a recent federal decision that got surprisingly little press, even from conservative talk radio, California's 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it's OK to put public-school kids through Muslim role-playing exercises, including:
Reciting aloud Muslim prayers that begin with "In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful . . . ."
Memorizing the Muslim profession of faith: "Allah is the only true God and Muhammad is his messenger."
Chanting "Praise be to Allah" in response to teacher prompts.
Professing as "true" the Muslim belief that "The Holy Quran is God's word."
Giving up candy and TV to demonstrate Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.
Designing prayer rugs, taking an Arabic name and essentially "becoming a Muslim" for two full weeks.
Parents of seventh-graders, who after 9-11 were taught the pro-Islamic lessons as part of California's world history curriculum, sued under the First Amendment ban on religious establishment. They argued, reasonably, that the government was promoting Islam.
But a federal judge appointed by President Clinton told them in so many words to get over it, that the state was merely teaching kids about another "culture."
So the parents appealed. Unfortunately, the most left-wing court in the land got their case. The 9th Circuit, which previously ruled in favor of an atheist who filed suit against the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, upheld the lower court ruling.
The decision is a major victory for the multiculturalists and Islamic apologists in California and across the country who've never met a culture or religion they didn't like — with the exception of Western civilization and Christianity. They are legally in the clear to indoctrinate kids into the "peaceful" and "tolerant" religion of Islam, while continuing to denigrate Judeo-Christian values.
In the California course on world religions, Christianity is not presented equally. It's covered in just two days and doesn't involve kids in any role-playing activities. But kids do get a good dose of skepticism about the Christian faith, including a biting history of its persecution of other peoples. In contrast, Islam gets a pass from critical review. Even jihad is presented as an "internal personal struggle to do one's best to resist temptation," and not holy war.
The ed consultant's name is Susan L. Douglass. No, she's not a Christian scholar. She's a devout Muslim activist on the Saudi government payroll, according to an investigation by Paul Sperry, author of "Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington." He found that for years Douglass taught social studies at the Islamic Saudi Academy just outside Washington, D.C. Her husband still teaches there.
So what? By infiltrating our public school system, the Saudis hope to make Islam more widely accepted while converting impressionable American youth to their radical cause. Recall that John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban," was a product of the California school system. What's next, field trips to Mecca?
This case is critical not just to our culture but our national security. It should be brought before the Supreme Court, which has outlawed prayer in school. Let's see what it says about practicing Islam in class. It will be a good test for the bench's two new conservative justices.
Dutch lawmaker lied in asylum bid
By Colin Nickerson, Globe Staff |
BERLIN -- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born Dutch lawmaker and prominent critic of radical Islam, said yesterday she would resign her seat in Parliament and leave the Netherlands amid mounting criticisms she lied on her application for asylum in 1992.
Hirsi Ali, whose views on Islam had made her one of Europe's most controversial
political figures and a target for terrorists, is expected to move to the United
At a news conference in the Hague, home to the Netherland's Parliament, Hirsi Ali said she feared that the government planned to ''strip me of my Dutch citizenship" and lift her police protection following news reports that she gave false information when she sought refugee status. She said Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk told her Monday that her status was being probed and that the government believed she had improperly won citizenship.
The government's sudden action reflects its hardline position on illegal immigration and refugees who have entered the country using false information, which have become hot political issues among the Dutch electorate. Hirsi Ali had made little effort to conceal that she falsified her original application in order to escape an arranged marriage -- she specifically admitted the lies, she said, when she underwent a background check by the Party for Freedom and Democracy, the conservative party for which she has held a seat in Parliament since 2002.
Hirsi Ali, 36, is a writer as well as a politician, the best-selling author of ''The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam," in which she revealed she was subjected to female circumcision as a girl in Somalia. She is also a notably enigmatic personality whose fierce criticisms of Islam have made her a darling of Dutch conservatives but whose embrace of feminism and homosexual causes has also made her popular with leftists.
Muslim fundamentalists have repeatedly threatened Hirsi Ali's life because of her strong denouncements of the mistreatment of women in strict Islamic societies, including her African homeland. She also has provoked outrage in Islamic lands and won an international reputation by insisting that Muslims who live in Europe and the United States should respect secular Western values, such as a strict separation of religion and state, equality for women, and free speech.
The soft-spoken but passionate politician has lived under continuous 24-hour protection, provided by the Dutch government, since the 2004 murder of film producer Theo van Gogh, with whom she collaborated on a documentary denouncing violence against Muslim women. Her life was specifically threatened in a note impaled on van Gogh's body with a knife.
More recently, she has had to move from apartment to apartment on a nightly basis after her neighbors in the Hague won a court decision that her security arrangements had become an intolerable nuisance and that their own lives were endangered by the presence of someone hiding from religious assassins
These benighted misunderstanders of Islam were evidently foolish enough to think that when the Qur'an says to "strike the necks" of unbelievers (47:4; cf. also 8:12), that it actually means, "strike the necks" of the unbelievers. The fools! They've probably been listening to Islamophobic rhetoric, or watching "United 93"! Don't they realize that the Qur'an is a document of staggering complexity, and that it can only be properly understood by Saudi-funded American professors who spend years in concentrated study, enabling them to determine that "strike the necks" actually means "hug the necks"? You have to read it in the original Arabic, you see, and use your secret Qur'anic Arabic decoder ring, which likewise renders "beat her" (Qur'an 4:34) as "tell her how much you love her."
Schoolgirl jihad update. "Men admit beheading schoolgirls," from SA, with thanks to all who sent this in:
Jakarta - Seven suspected Islamic terrorists have confessed to beheading three
Christian schoolgirls on Indonesia's Sulawesi Island, police said on Wednesday.
The seven detained suspects confessed under questioning that they planned and carried out the October 29 beheadings in the Sulawesi town of Poso, police chief Lieutenant Colonel Rudi Sufahriadi told The Associated Press.
Another girl was wounded but spared by the assailants, he said.
Two of the suspects also say they have ties to Noordin Top, regarded as a key leader of the al-Qaeda-linked group Jemaah Islamiyah, according to Central Sulawesi police chief Brigadier General Oegroseno.
Indonesia has arrested scores of militants belonging to the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror group in recent years.
Prime Minister John Howard is standing by Australia's top Catholic, as Islamic
and other groups question Cardinal George Pell's remarks about the intolerance
of the Muslim faith and the Koran's "invocations to violence".
Dr Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, defended comments he made in an address to US Catholic business leaders in Florida in February, which were published this week.
In his speech, Cardinal Pell questioned the tolerance of Islam.
"Considered strictly on its own terms, Islam is not a tolerant religion and its capacity for far-reaching renovation is severely limited," Dr Pell said in the address.
He also said there were "so many" invocations to violence in the religion's holy text that he gave up counting after about 70 pages.
He stood by these remarks, saying the criticisms were "cliches, smokescreens" to distract and divert attention from the real issues.
"Islamic terrorists are not a figment of anyone's imagination and the history of relations with Islam is full of conflict," he said in a statement.
"We need a lot of continuing dialogue, based on truth, history and the current situation.
"I continue to be completely committed to dialogue with Muslims, to supporting moderate forces on all sides ... and recommend that people read the Koran ... and judge for themselves."
Islamic Council of NSW spokesman Ali Roude welcomed Dr Pell's recognition of the need for greater understanding of Islam, but urged him to exercise his leadership more carefully.
"We welcome (Dr) Pell's personal efforts to understand Islam but we caution him to avoid making statements that he cannot support with evidence, and that which is likely to reinforce tensions and disharmony within Australian communities," Mr Roude said.
Mr Howard said he knew for a fact that Cardinal Pell has been "a strong proponent of good relations between Christianity and Islam".
"I think any kind of analysis that somebody makes from his position, and he brings a great intellect to the analysis he makes ... I'm quite sure he is not trying to be unhelpful," Mr Howard told Southern Cross Broadcasting.
Mr Roude called on Dr Pell to spread a message of love and understanding, and not of fear and hatred "in a climate full of mistrust (and) instability brought about by organised fear-mongering".
Peace, respect and understanding were the foundations laid by Pope John Paul II for interfaith dialogue, Mr Roude said.
"We reiterate the need to continue our life's journey of dialogue and engagement so that extreme views of any sort do not gain prominence in driving a wedge between all of God's creations," he said.
The following are excerpts from a speech by Libyan leader Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on April 10, 2006.
TO VIEW THIS CLIP VISIT: http://www.memritv.org/search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=1121.
Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi: "Some people believe that Muhammad is the prophet of the Arabs or Muslims alone. This is a mistake. Muhammad is the prophet of all people."
"He superseded all previous religions. If Jesus were alive when Muhammad was sent, he would have followed him. All people must be Muslims."
"The Muslims were enraged by the defamation of their Prophet. But the people who defamed Muhammad were defaming their own prophet, because Muhammad is the prophet of the people in Scandinavia, in Europe, America, Asia and Africa."
"But since the holy texts that they read in Scandinavia are forged and call for hatred, they believe Muhammad is not their prophet."
"We expect to see a picture of Jesus with nuclear bombs over his head, because the nuclear bomb was developed by the followers of Jesus."
"They drew Muhammad surrounded by veiled women, because of the veil worn by Muslim
women. We expect them to draw Jesus surrounded by naked women, because the followers... because Christian women are naked."
"In Scandinavia women are naked."
"In any case, the holy texts of the West, of Europe and America, call for hatred, there is no doubt about it."
"This text is corrupt and inhumane."
"The so-called Old Testament and New Testament are neither Old Testament nor New Testament - because both testaments were superseded, and they are forged. They were written by hand hundreds of years after Jesus."
"In the Bible there are things that are inappropriate for both Jesus and Moses. If we want to mend the state of humanity, and live in a global village, because of the globalization, we must search for the true Bible, because the Bible that exists today is a forgery. Today's Bible does not mention Muhammad, whereas our Lord's Bible mentions Muhammad repeatedly."
"We must search for the Gospel of Barnabas, of St. Barnabas, because this is the true gospel."
"This gospel explicitly mentions that Muhammad would come after Jesus."
"Today, we are correcting human history from here, in Timbuktu."
"We have 50 million Muslims in Europe. There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe - without swords, without guns, without conquests. The fifty million Muslims of Europe will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.
"Allah mobilizes the Muslim nation of Turkey, and adds it to the European Union."
"That's another 50 million Muslims. There will be 100 million Muslims in Europe. Albania, which is a Muslim country, has already entered the E.U."
"Bosnia, which is a Muslim country, has already entered the E.U. Fifty percent of its citizens are Muslims."
"Europe is in a predicament, and so is America. They should agree to become Islamic in the course of time, or else declare war on the Muslims."
"All people have the right to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, and to circle the Ka'ba."
"The verse says that polytheists are impure, hence they are forbidden from coming near the Haram Mosque."
"If the American president comes to make a pilgrimage, they will say to him: You are impure, a polytheist."
"But he will reply: I am not a polytheist. Nor am I impure. How can you make such serious allegations against me? If I am impure, how come you shake my hand and break bread with me?"
"He will pull out the one dollar bill that we use, and he will say: Go ahead, read what's written on it."
Translator: "In God we trust."
Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi: "It says what the translator said: 'In God we trust.' Here, we have a dollar. Where is it? Read it... 'In God we trust.'"
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