Saturday, March 28, 2009
A mutation of our nation is in progress. It is growing, it is profound but uncontrolled. In all likelihood, the immense majority of Frenchmen are unaware of it.
Hundreds of thousands of Muslim families, from North Africa, the Middle East and black Africa - whose religion, aspirations and mores are radically different from ours - now live on our soil. Their birth rate is higher than that of European families. What is the consequence? Within 30 years the population of Islamist culture could be in the majority among those 40 years old or younger. "In France, we will have between 6 and 8 million Arabs by the years 2005 - 2010," said Edgar Pisani, honorary president of the Arab World Institute. We have been duly warned: this is a radical transformation (political, economic, cultural and social) of our society.
This mutation is in progress at the very moment when, to use Toynbee's expression, "an external proletariat" is forming on the southern and western shores of the Mediterranean Sea. This army of reservists came about as a result of the birth rate of these peoples, and the absence of an economic policy capable of guaranteeing them a decent life in their homeland. In front of them lie France, Italy, Spain and Germany, lands of mirage, highly developed, with guaranteed employment, free social protection and education. Who could resist the call of this "promised land"?
At the same time, all over the world, roused by immense hopes, Islam is enjoying an unprecedented revival. It is awakening after a long night. It has renewed vigor, pugnacity and ambitions. From Morocco to Indonesia, from the Muslim States of Central Asia to black Africa, more than one billion two hundred million men - young compared to the aging populations of Europe - constitute a "community" (Umma).
It is transnational, motivated by spiritual aspirations, material demands and political ambitions, and (here and there) financed by revenue from oil.
In France, the successive waves of Italians, Poles, central European Jews, Spaniards and Portuguese, had never posed comparable problems of integration. Why? Because they belonged to the European branch. Their religious traditions and their ambition to acquire more individual freedoms facilitated their assimilation. Finally - and this is far from the least important reason - these immigrants expressed a desire to share the destiny of the French nation. To meld into it. Integration cannot be decreed. In order for it to materialize it must be desired by two, this is obvious. And the two must converge. Today, the situation is different, radically different. An active and determined minority among the Islamists refuses integration. Deliberately.
In close communion with Islam (its matrix), it is receptive to orders from abroad, to spiritual counsel, ideology and financial support. And much more. Not only does it intend to keep its identity, but to re-Islamize the non-practicing, if not convert the natives of the host country to the true faith. Islam has never conceived of itself as a minority in a secular State, but necessarily as the majority religion. (...) Exalted by its renewal, propelled both by its demography and its absence of economic development, infiltrating wherever there is no resistance, Islam is advancing like a wave.
The French people can measure its vitality by the number of mosques multiplying on their territory (sometimes with the help of Catholic and lay leaders), mosques run by imams 96% of whom are from foreign countries. Also by the prospect of seeing - in the second half of the 21st century - the fall of Catholicism in France to second rank, leaving first place to Islam.
Thus two dynamics are developing: one inside our borders (...); the other outside (...) Concomitant and convergent, these changes are determining factors for Europe and for the French nation where the demographic stagnation is alarming.
The map below shows the growth of mosques, with the dark green areas indicating more than 30 mosques. The years range from 1985 to 2008. Their growth is amazing.
Every nation expresses itself through a subtle, delicate and secret balance between dreams, ambitions and strengths, sometimes contradictory, transcended by a common aspiration to live together and to do great things together. This national identity is for some its soul; for others its genius. Each nation is a plant nourished by a land and a History, pride in its past. "Immediate to the heart of God," it is unique and therefore justified.
How many centuries, wars, concessions, sacrifices and omissions were necessary for France, England, Spain and Germany to overcome - finally - their internal divisions and to become what they are!
If it is fitting - as Montesquieu recommends - to only touch institutions with a trembling hand, what can one say about the respect due the profound harmony of our nation, its internal composition - the measure of its permanence and of its performance?
To the lessons drawn from our past, the present adds new warnings about the future on a daily basis. How can we allow ourselves to be blinded to the point of not seeing the proliferation and the exasperation of ethnic and religious conflicts all around us, since the same causes produce the same effects?
He then lists some of the numerous ethnic conflicts in the world, including those in Asia, Africa and Europe.
Are we Frenchmen, after having overcome so many rebellions, insurrections and revolutions, after having liquidated our quarrels between Catholics, Protestants, Israelites and Free Thinkers; between nobles, bourgeois and proletariat, about to allow conditions that foster disintegration to take hold?
Warning. If native Frenchmen fail to be the most numerous, we will see that our days are numbered. If we fail to limit the number of immigrants, we will be judged as wanting in the scales of History. If we fail to affirm our national ambition, we will set the stage for the bursting apart of our nation.
Remember. One day, in Babylon, on the wall of his palace, Belshazzar saw letters written in fire, three warnings: MENE MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN. The prophet Daniel translated them thus:
"God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end."
"You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting."
"Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and the Persians."
For us today the warnings come daily on our TV screens. But no prophet dares translate them.
What kind of France, dear reader, do you hope to bequeath to your children?
Rembrandt's Belshazzar's Feast (1635) captures the scene of fear. (National Gallery, London)
NY, USA: Muslims free to teach children hate in the name of their God Allah & Islam - 3 year old recites [Video]
Take this child's image - and make a video - along with other such clips - and you will be prosecuted for inciting hate against Muslims, racism and Islamophobia !!
Apparently this has all happened in New York - what is shocking is that most Muslims these days come to the western world via their refugee status - doubtless that they will one day teach this child to say thank you to the Christians who have helped them.
Muslims seemed pleased - with the video.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Finland: Politician charged with blasphemy for highlighting Muhammed's behavior with young child & dual laws to protect Islam /Muslims but not others
Believe it or not, Finland still has blasphemy laws on the books, but there have been repeated attempts to rescind Section 10 of chapter 17 of the Finnish penal code. All attempts however, at removing the anti-modern statute from the law books have proved unsuccessful, with the latest attempt failing in 1998.
Helsinki city councilman, Jussi Halla-aho was charged with blasphemy and incitement of an ethnic-group in the Helsinki district court today, and ordered to stand trial for publishing on his blog that Islam’s prophet was a pedophile. According to the Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Jorme Kalske:
“Halla-aho had uploaded to the Internet and submitted writings to the general public, in which Islam and its sacred institutions were combined with pedophilia, and in which was also presented the robbery of pedestrians and the ooting of tax revenue was a certain national group or a specific genetic characteristic.
The charges were presented in the Helsinki District Court. Halla-aho denies the charges”
Courtesy of the blogger Vasarahammer, here is Helsinki City Councilman, Jussi Halla-aho’s post that the Finnish state wants him prosecuted for. It is addressed to Mika Illman, the Finnish state prosecuting attorney, in response of the Finnish state’s prosecution of Seppo Lehto last year.
A couple of baits for Mika Illman
State prosecutor Mika Illman’s winning streak continued a few days ago, when a specialist of rude humor Seppo Lehto was sentenced for two years and four months imprisonment and to pay tens of thousands of euros in damages for several accounts of gross defamation, incitement against an ethnic group and for religious worship (TT: blasphemy). The issue has been discussed around the internet so much that I probably don’t have to repeat the self-evident facts:
a) Filth blogs created by Lehto fulfill all possible criteria for “gross defamation” but
b) Nobody has ever been sentenced for two years and four months for these kind of crimes. I don’t blame Mika Illman, he is obviously a man worthy of his last name, who does what he thinks he is supposed to do, but those district courts that have lamely given Mika everything he dares to ask have a reason to be ashamed of themselves.
c) Illman’s selection of plaintiffs and recipients of damages consisted only of his fellow prosecutors and members of parliament, and not, for example, Teemu Lahtinen, to whom Lehto’s filth blogs possibly caused real damage during the last parliamentary election. The thinking in which public figures deserve more protection than regular citizens has so far been alien to the democratic state and rule of law.
Let’s stop talking about defamations. Lehto was also convicted of disturbing religious worship. According to the district court Lehto violated muslims’ religious worship by defaming the prophet Muhammad. Professor Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila has confirmed the interpretation according to which Muhammad is a revered figure in Islamic faith.
According to state prosecutor Mika Illman and Tampere district court insulting the prophet Muhammad is illegal, because Muhammad is revered by muslims.
(On the other hand professor Hämeen-Anttila could certainly confirm that in Christianity Jesus and God are holy figures. Of course, this doesn’t prevent anybody to defame Jesus or God freely in the way he or she chooses.)
Next I intend to throw Mika a bait:
Prophet Muhammad was a pedophile and islam revers pedophilia as a religion. Islam is a religion of pedophilia. Pedophilia is Allah’s will.
Are these statements illegal? They certainly insult muslim’s religious feelings. Let’s approach the issue logically:
As a 50 year-old man Muhammad was engaged to six or seven year old Aisha. Their marriage was “consummated” when Aisha was nine years old. It is possible to think that they were living in another age and Muhammad’s deeds must not be judged according to today’s standards, but as we have learned during the last few years, schoolbooks from the 50’s were racist when they spoke about ”negroes” (even if ”negro” was not a racist term at the time by anybody’s standards), it’s equally justified to call a child rapist who lived 1400 years ago a child rapist .´
What has to be done so that the bolded statements were not true? You must insist that
a) … Quran is not literally true (i.e Muhammad did not have sexual relations with a nine year old girl). This will not do, since according to Islamic doctrine and muslims’ opinion Quran is a literal word of Allah. Consummation and Aisha’s age cannot be denied without insulting muslims.
b) …Muhammad’s actions were not always acceptable. This will not do either, since according to muslims (and Tampere district court) criticizing Muhammad is the same as criticizing Allah and therefore blasphemy. The penalty is death. Muslim’s believe that Muhammad’s actions were the will of Allah. Because Muhammad had sexual relations with a child, that was Allah’s will as well.
As we see, all the argumentative ways to disprove the bolded statements have been theologically exhausted. The fact that Muhammad was a pedophile and Allah supported pedophilia can only be denied either by denying the literal truthfulness of Quran or Muhammad’s status as a messenger of Allah whose actions are according to the will of Allah.
Therefore I repeat my claim:
Prophet Muhammad was a pedophile and islam revers pedophilia as a religion. Islam is a religion of pedophilia. Pedophilia is Allah’s will.
The next bait reads:
Robbing bypassers and living at taxpayers’ expense as a parasite is a national, possibly genetic characteristic of Somalis.
Is this claim inappropriate? My fellow blogger Kekke filed a complaint to the Media Council for the editorial that appeared in newspaper Kaleva, in which killing people while intoxicated was described as a national, possibly genetic characteristic of Finns. Media Council dismissed the complaint. According to Council secretary Nina Porra:
”The writer probably refers to studies, in which heavy drinking has been observed to be a specific feature in Finnish drinking culture. It has also been observed that there is a correlation between intoxication and violence. The genetic backround of the problem is not handled as a fact, but the writer gives his own opinion.”
Naturally, the decisions made by Media Council are not legally binding so inquisitor Illman doesn’t have to take notice. But on the other hand, “incitement against ethnic group” is a felony and because Illman (whom the matter belongs to) has not reacted to the Kaleva article, it can be concluded that negative ethnic and genetic stereotypes can be published as long as they are not handled as facts.
We can’t think that there are different rules for different people in Finland, can we?
Naturally, not all Somalis commit robberies or live at taxpayers’ expense, but not all Finns kill while intoxicated either.
Somalis who constitute 0.2 per cent of Finland’s total population commit 12 per cent of robberies reported to the Police. One in ten Somalis living in Finland has a job. Committing robberies and living at taxpayers’ expense are a lot more common among Somalis related to their share of the population than killing while intoxicated among the ethnic Finns. Therefore, I present my assumption (that I do not regard as fact):
Robbing bypassers and living at taxpayers’ expense as a parasite is a national, possibly genetic characteristic of Somalis.
With this, I wish Mika a nice day.
International Free Press Society
Pat Condell: To Beer Drinkin', Spliff Smokin', Free Lovin' Radical Islamist Preacher, Who Calls For Sharia Stoning & Burqas in UK [Video]
Anjem Choudary believes that the only way for the UK is to put in place a Taliban like state - like the one's spring up in Pakistan today. A place he says where justice is instant and people will asked to be stoned and flogged- as their punishment on earth means that they will be spared God's (his) wrath.
Here's Anjem Choudary in his former life as Andy in his student dayz' - always it seems the life of the party!!
Hey - that lady is not wearing a burqa! Does Andy look bothered?
Now here's Anjem Choudary - without his mate 'Andy' [Choudary denies ever taking part in such activities] - just telling the British that Islamic Shari'a laws and customs are the only one's for Britain. Among other things he wants ALL women in burqas and stonings for sex before marriage and adultery. Naturally many are wondering why he doesn't submit himself - for the treatment - given his wild past!
Down in Australia they are having similar problems - namely Muslims student not wishing to share multi-faith rooms with students of other faiths - in one Aussie university - no less than eight rooms have been set aside for prayers - with two of these rooms almost entirely dedicated to Islamic prayers - yet the Muslim students were protesting claiming discrimination and that there was not enough space to pray. There have been other cases in Australia where Muslim students have demanded that they be given their own toilets - separate from everyone else.
In East London Muslims have attacked Hindu religious ceremonial or festive processions - saying that this is a Muslim area - it seems clear that when Pakistani/Asian Muslims look at Hindus - because they are the same color and exactly the same people - they feel that the Hindus and other religious groups within the Asian(India) communities should be Muslim - and there are numerous stories of enormous pressure being put on them to convert. Barring Hindus from entering the QMU's prayer room - is just another example of Muslims attempting to force their way on others.
A row has broken out at Queen Mary University, London about the use of its multi-faith centre. The National Hindu Students Forum (UK) claims that members of the Queen Mary’s Islamic Society have been physically preventing students of the university’s Hindu society from offering prayers at the multi-faith centre on the premises by standing 15 students at the door. The last Hindu prayer in the evenings is normally at 6pm, but the Muslim group who have a prayer session before the Hindus say that there is "no demand for the use of the multifaith centre by other faith communities" and they cannot therefore allow Hindus to use the premises even though they have a valid booking for its use.
“The Islamic Society refuses to move out of the room even though we have a booking to use it for this week (13 March 2009). They did not even allow security to enter the premises and we were left standing outside the room unable to offer our prayers,” explained Kajal Valani, Chair of the National Hindu Students Forum. “The men who stood barricading the door issued verbal threats to us. We are going there again this evening, and we await to see if good sense will prevail.”
“This kind of incident should not be tolerated,” explained Kishan Bhatt from the National Hindu Students Forum. “We feel that the diverse culture of Britain is being violated.”
"It is important that students from every faith community are allowed to co-exist peacefully on university campuses," said Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Britain. "A multi-faith centre must be exactly that - multi-faith. If one community believes that other communities cannot use a multi-faith centre and use physical and verbal methods to prevent their entry for legitimate use, then something is seriously wrong with our model of cohesion and good-relations. We hope university authorities, multi-faith leaders and the Home Office can come together to resolve this issue amicably."
"Education Institutes should be ensuring rights of other faith groups in universities and colleges to equal use of multifaith centres, instead of allowing them to become centres of preaching misguided hatred and extremism," said Sudarshan Bhatia President of the National Council of Hindu Temples UK. "The Islamic societies must show solidarity and respect to other communities."
The National Hindu Students Forum (UK) has given assurances that it will work peacefully and tolerantly with the Queen Mary’s University to resolve the situation peacefully.
Source: Red Hot Curry
This argument asks that special consideration be given to Turkey - that Europe should for strategic purposes fully open itself up - to Turkey's anti-democratic and /or Islamist directions - in the hope to reign it in and turn it into a thriving Western-style free democracy. For the Europeans this is a horse to water - situation - you can take the horse to water - but can you make it drink? The reality is that Turkey is making its own decisions - and likely even if Europe has offered to make Turkey a full member - the direction Turkey is moving in likely wont change. Turkey is already acting in its own interests - how is Europe going to stop this - with money? Which would amount to buying Turkey off - you can almost feel the resentments rising - with Turkey - and more Turkey was one a great empire - is the complete rebuilding of Turkey the European taxpayers responsibility?
Taking in Turkey under these conditions - will set Turkey apart from the other member states - leaving it to demand special consideration - and accommodation - for its abberant pro-Islamist (anti-democratic) behavior and possibly even for its Ottoman Turkishness!
With its geographical location, at the crossroads of an East-West and North-South axis, Turkey has played a dominating geopolitical role from the days of the Ottoman Empire to the present. In recognition of Turkey’s strategic position, President Harry S. Truman was quick to incorporate Turkey into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). As the alliance is celebrating its 60th anniversary, Turkey is again at a crossroad. This time, the choice facing the Turkish Republic is whether Ankara should continue its path towards becoming a full fledged member of the European Union, or if Turkey should adopt a “neo Ottoman” foreign policy brokering conflicts between Israel and Syria and between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Beyond its broad foreign policy implications, Turkey is also facing a significant internal identity crisis where traditional urban pro-Western elite are being challenged by a new and emerging conservative bourgeoisie originating from the Anatolian heartland. At the center of this power struggle, is the current ruling Islamic Development Party (AKP) led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vis-à-vis the Turkish military establishment.
Turkey’s powerful generals have long seen themselves as the “guardians” of secularism as they adhere to the principals of “Kemalism,” laid out by the Republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938). “Ataturk,” or “father Turk,” as his people called him, emerged on the political stage during the vanishing days of the Ottoman Empire. During these turbulent times, as pockets of Turkish populated settlements were threatened by increasing nationalism in the various regions of the empire, the young and ambitious army officer, Mustafa Kemal, was to become one of the most notable military leaders and statesmen of his generation.
Transition from Empire to Republic
From a small principality on the frontiers of the Islamic world at the turn of the 14th century, the Ottoman Empire became the most powerful state in the Islamic world stretching from central Europe to the Indian Ocean under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566). Following the long wars of the 17th century, the Ottoman Empire declined as a world power in favor of the European mercantile powers. By the mid 18th century, what was left of the once mighty empire became known as the “sick man of Europe.” Despite countless reforms of the civil and bureaucratic structure, Ottoman political life continued under European tutelage.
Recognizing Turkey’s state of decay, Ataturk envisioned a strong, independent, and secular republic. According to noted Ataturk biographer, Lord Kinross: “Ataturk differed from the dictators of his age in two significant respects: his foreign policy was not based on expansion but on retraction of frontiers; his home policy on the foundation of a political system that could survive his own time.” Some of the republic’s early reforms were instituting a constitutional parliamentary system in 1923, followed by the introduction of the Swiss Civil Code in 1926. From a legal perspective, the Swiss Civil Code replacing traditional Sharia laws was an important step in the direction of westernization of personal, family, and inheritance laws. Other significant changes promoted by the Kemalists were adopting the Latin alphabet, western numerals, weights and measures, and gender equality.
Military and Democracy
The political system during the early Kemalist era remained a one party state, where no legal opposition was active until after World War II. Turkey has since come a long way in its democratization effort, despite brief military interventions in 1960, 1971, and 1980. Each time, the generals provided important exit guarantees that enhanced the military’s position, yet civilian control of the Republic has prevailed, as Turkey has become a competitive multiparty system.
With the reelection of the AKP in 2007, Prime Minister Erdogan has secured his base as he openly challenges Turkey’s ancient regime, on a verity of issues from the headscarf ban to, as the only NATO ally, inviting Iran’s controversial President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Istanbul. The notion that “Turkey has to follow an integrated foreign policy and cannot have priority with the EU at the expense of its relations with the Middle East—as advocated by senior AKP officials—is a clear break with Kemalist foreign policy. Yet at this critical juncture, it is important for Europe to fully embrace Turkey. Because of its strategic location and economic ties to continental Europe, the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Mediterranean, and the Black Sea region, Turkey can fully complement the EU on a variety of issues from trade to security. In particular, Turkey can provide the European markets access to rich energy resources from the Middle East and Eurasia.
The battle for Eurasia
On the other hand, the Turkish government has shown increasing frustration, not only with U.S. policies towards the Middle East but also with the EU’s refusal to seriously consider its bid. Should Europe fail to embrace Turkey, this could be a fatal push of Turkey into the Russian orbit. Despite historical mistrust, Turkish-Russian economic ties have greatly expanded over the past decade, reaching $32 billion in 2008, making Russia Turkey’s largest trading partner. By taking advantage of cooling relations between Ankara and Washington, Moscow is determined to expand its sphere of influence over the black sea region and Eurasia. Through an aggressive trade and investment policy, Russia skillfully outmaneuvered the United States by closing its airbase in Manas, Kyrgyzstan.
In the great powers struggle for influence, Turkey is an indispensable piece, too precious for the West to lose. Instead of remaining a “Christian Club,” the European Union should overcome its historical fear of “the Turks” and recognize that as a NATO member, Turkey will prioritize its ties with the United States and the West; as an EU member, Turkey will continue to cherish democracy, liberalism, and secularism. Europe turning its back on Turkey could be the nail in the coffin for an occidental oriented foreign policy and a secular national identity.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Will the United Nations soon be issuing fatwas? Today the U.N. Human Rights Council is expected to vote on a resolution introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to combat defamation of religion, in particular Islam. This resolution is part of an effort begun in 1999 to establish an international framework that would in practice legitimize religious oppression. It is an assault on the rights of the individual and freedom of conscience.
The language of the resolution seems benign enough, condemning stereotyping, inflammatory statements and so forth. But very troubling is the elasticity of the term "defamation." It is used to silence social critics and other liberal voices in countries where the law is captive of the official religion. "Anti-blasphemy" statutes in Shariah-based legal systems squelch debate over the rights of women, the right to free speech and expression, privacy, criminal justice and a variety of other off-limits issues. This U.N. resolution would give further international sanction to every authoritarian regime that hides its oppression behind the veil of faith.
The OIC also plans to introduce binding resolutions that will require states to punish religious defamers. In practice this could target almost anyone with an opinion. Recent experience has shown that, particularly in the Muslim world, almost any comment can be tarred as defamatory and incite fatal violence. Publication of caricatures of Mohammed in the Danish Jyllands-Poste in 2005 sparked riots. Salman Rushdie was threatened with death for discussing irregularities in the history of the Koran in his novel . There were even protests in 1963 when U.S. Ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbraith named his family cat "Ahmed," one of the forms of the name "Mohammed."
It is fully appropriate for the public, the media, and even in some cases public officials to speak out if they feel speech or actions defame faith. But the OIC wants to establish an international framework for punitive government action against even legitimate criticism of religion. This is a dangerous evolution of international law wholly at odds with the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrined the individual's "right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion" including "freedom to change his religion or belief" and to publicly "manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance." However according to the OIC's 1990 Cairo Declaration, any such rights are ultimately "subject to the Islamic Shariah."
Islam is the only religion mentioned in the OIC resolution, and can profitably be examined under the proposal's criteria. The resolution decries "negative stereotyping and defamation of religions." But the Koran and other Muslim holy works are rife with defamatory comments about Jews, Christians, pagans and other "apes and swine." The resolution deplores "all acts of psychological and physical violence and assaults."
But missionaries and converts are subjected to death sentences in many Shariah-based legal systems. The resolution condemns the type of "defamation of religion and incitement to religious hatred." But this would be familiar to anyone in the region when the talk turns to Israel, India or the West. By all means, let us apply these standards to some of the member states of the OIC and make an honest accounting of the true sources of intolerance.
Source: Washington Times
Media mogul Dogan - has been brought up on charges of tax evasion - is asked to pay five times the amount government auditors claim he owes - punishment - as many suspect - for printing articles considered 'pro-opposition' in Turkey's local elections. PM Erdogan known for speaking his mind exclaimed at a rally "Sentence them to poverty," just before the Dogan group was fined some $500 million. Not only has this raised questions over press freedoms - foreign investors are also worried as to whether it is the rule of law or Erdogan's 'iron will' that is running the country.
Local elections in Turkey have added fuel to the bitter feud between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and media mogul Aydin Dogan. But the Turkish prime minister's apparent vendetta is shaking foreign investor's confidence in the rule of law -- right in the middle of an economic crisis.
Aydin Dogan likes to be around powerful people, and the photos depicting his encounters with them are arranged, in silver frames, on the windowsill in his opulent Istanbul office: Dogan chatting with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, shaking hands with former US President Bill Clinton and smiling with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
There is also a photo of Dogan and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with whom the billionaire is on a first-name basis.
The picture was taken several years ago, when the two men were still on good terms. That was when Erdogan still called Dogan "Abi," or "big brother," and the young prime minister would make appearances at events at Dogan's TV stations and openings of his dairies. In those days, the premier and the powerful media mogul and industrialist still managed to work out their differences over tea. "We had a controlled friendship," says Dogan.
But that controlled friendship turned into a controlled feud and, in the past few months, into an open conflict. Local elections will be held in Turkey this coming weekend, and the conservative Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its "sultan," as Erdogan is called by friend and foe alike, are expected to emerge victorious once again.
Erdogan believes that there is only one man who could thwart his plans. "We are not elected by the media, but by the country," Erdogan shouts into the microphone at a campaign appearance in Malatya, a city in eastern Turkey. The crowd knows whom he is alluding to. "Don't buy these newspapers, they are full of filth and lies."
Since Dogan's high-circulation daily newspaper Hürriyet reported on a political contribution scandal in September, the prime minister has considered the media mogul to be his real opponent in the election. The paper described at length how Deniz Feneri, an Islamic charity, allegedly collected contributions from Turks living in Germany and funneled the money into companies in Turkey with ties to the AKP. Dogan's newspapers and television stations were also full of harsh criticism for Erdogan's lackluster economic policies and waning interest in reform.
Four weeks ago, the government struck back. A tax office in Halkali imposed a fine for the equivalent of about €380 million ($513 million) on Dogan's publicly traded newspaper and television holding company. It was a sum that could -- or might even have been intended to -- bankrupt the country's biggest media group. "Erdogan wants to destroy us, because he cannot make us bend to his will," says Dogan.
Erdogan's supporters insist that the fine was not politically motivated. But the prime minister himself has fuelled that suspicion. For weeks, he has sharply criticized the "pro-opposition press," as he calls it, and called for "civil courage" in dealing with the papers, which he claims are deliberately reporting false information. "Sentence them to poverty," he recently boomed at his audience at a campaign rally -- a few days before the tax authority imposed its heavy penalty on Dogan's operations.
The strike against Dogan's media empire is more than just a blow to freedom of the press. The size of the tax penalty and its seemingly fabricated justification have unnerved companies and investors, who are now asking themselves whether the law or Erdogan's iron will is more decisive, when push comes to shove. In the midst of the economic crisis, which has also hit previously booming Turkey, the prime minister has shaken a painstakingly built-up confidence in the rule of law, a confidence that has attracted foreign capital in recent years. Foreign investment in Turkey, which amounted to just under $3 billion (€2.2 billion) in 2004, shot up to more than $22 billion (€16.3 billion) by 2007. The flow of foreign capital is now ebbing, mainly as a result of the financial crisis. "But the feud has shaken the image of Turkey as a safe country in which to invest," says Christian Rumpf, a lawyer specializing in Turkish law.
Graphic: Dogan's media and energy empire
The Dogan case fits with the image that the government in Ankara has conveyed recently. The hope that Erdogan, once a champion of reform, will continue to open up the country and lead it into the European Union is fading. Apparently he feels less obligated than ever to guarantee freedom of the press and the rule of law, the EU's core requirements. "At some point, the question is no longer whether Turkey is ready for the EU, but whether it even wants to join," says Ria Oomen-Ruijten, the European Parliament's rapporteur on Turkey.
But the prospect of EU membership was one of the country's most important tools for attracting foreign capital. "I wonder when Erdogan will realize that it will be a catastrophe if the investors pull out," says Cengiz Aktar, a professor of political science.
But until recently, the prime minister was not even interested in talking about the global economic crisis. At the World Economic Forum on Europe and Central Asia, held in Istanbul last November, he apparently preferred to discuss terrorism, so much so that appalled attendees wondered whether Erdogan was living on a different planet. "He apparently doesn't understand how serious the situation is," says Seyfettin Gürsel, a professor at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul.
Many Turkish analysts are reluctant to publicly concur with Gürsel's view. Erdogan has created "an atmosphere of fear," says an analyst at an Istanbul bank. "This administration is an investment risk."
Erdogan has always been thin-skinned when it comes to criticism. For years, he has taken cartoonists and authors to court, and he pays careful attention to which journalists are invited to press conferences. "Nowadays he only tolerates yes-men in his inner circle," says political science professor Aktar.
Large sections of the media already toe the prime minister's line. The television station ATV and the tabloid newspaper Sabah are owned by Calik Holding, where Erdogan's son-in-law is a senior executive. The prime minister can feel confident that much of the media's reporting about him is sympathetic. Zaman, one of Turkey's largest daily newspapers, is also generally loyal to the regime. With a recent approval rating of 46 percent, Erdogan finds it difficult to understand that any criticism is justified. "One cannot smear mud on the sun," he says.
Since the AKP barely escaped being banned last year, the premier is more sensitive than ever. "Erdogan is worried about losing his power, and now the economic crisis is also jeopardizing his track record. That makes him aggressive," says Elmar Brok, a member of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs. The burning question in Turkey is: Who controls the country? Is it the new or the old elite, the Muslim up-and-comer Erdogan or the secular Istanbul establishment, to which the Dogan family belongs?
For this reason, the irascible Erdogan doesn't just view the Dogan media outlets as an irritation, but also as part of a long-standing coalition of the military, business and political elites that want to remove him from office. And this is why Erdogan's supporters accuse Hürriyet, Milliyet and television stations like CNN Türk of making the economic situation seem more dire than it is. "They are constantly pouring oil onto the fire," a columnist for the pro-administration daily Zaman wrote recently. Erdogan also believes that Dogan claims freedom of the press but has ulterior motives. "That is now ending," Erdogan threatens.
'Tayyip Bey, Stop Harassing Us'
Yasemin Congar, 42, is not convinced that Erdogan aims to launch a general assault on the freedom of the press. If he did, she too would be in a tight spot. Congar is the editor-in-chief of the independent daily Taraf, which has taken on both the government and the military. As a precaution, the paper's offices are located in a building that houses a busy bookstore with 24-hour security.
Erdogan has not forgotten the role that Dogan's newspapers played in 1997 in helping to support the military coup against the Islamist government of Necmettin Erbakan, says Congar. "Dogan is a symbol," she adds. The media mogul is also occasionally maligned for supposedly having once received a former prime minister at his villa wearing pajamas. One of his friends insists that there is nothing to the rumor. Nevertheless, the anecdote continues to be repeated, including by Erdogan himself.
In the eyes of critics, the Dogan Group's newspapers and television stations are powerful instruments for asserting the group's industrial interests. Dogan, whose name translates as "falcon," owns the country's biggest oil company, car dealerships, travel agencies, insurance companies and organic farms.
"I could be richer if I weren't a publisher," says Dogan. Nevertheless, he is now using his media outlets to defend himself against Erdogan's attacks. Last September, Dogan had himself interviewed in a special broadcast on his own station, Kanal D. "Tayyip Bey, stop harassing us," a hoarse and visibly emotional Dogan said, addressing the prime minister.
Prior to the broadcast, Erdogan's tax authorities had unleashed 10 auditors on the media holding company, the headquarters of Hürriyet and the glass-walled broadcast center in Istanbul's Bagcilar district. Dogan's executives were not told the reasons for the unannounced visit. Instead, the auditors spent months investigating the companies. New audit reports have arrived continuously since December and a total of 20 reports have been released until now. The penalty has increased to at least €380 million ($513 million), which exceeds the market value of the entire media division. The most serious charge is that Dogan committed tax evasion when he sold a quarter of his TV shares to Germany's Axel Springer publishing house in early 2007.
Dogan did pay millions in taxes on the proceeds. However, the tax authority found that the group should have paid taxes on the transaction earlier and therefore could not claim the usual exemptions. Dogan and Springer announced their deal, worth €375 million ($506 million) in November 2006. But the two sides did not finalize the contract and exchange shares for money until Jan. 2, 2007. In other words, the deal was not sealed until then.
In addition to the full tax, the agency is now demanding a fine equal to more than five times the amount of tax supposedly owed, as well as suddenly ordering Dogan to pay value-added tax on other sales of stock from previous years. Those sales, even according to the official interpretation, were considered tax-exempt in Turkey until now.
Pending a court's decision resolving the issue, Dogan offered a large proportion of his shares and his stations' trademark rights as security. But the tax authority turned down his proposal and instead ordered his holding company's bank accounts frozen. "If they want to force us into bankruptcy, they should say so," says Mehmet Ali Yalcindag, the head of the media company and the patriarch's son-in-law.
"Turkey needs tax reform. The tax audit is not independent, but is instead under the direct control of the Finance Ministry," says Arzuhan Dogan-Yalcindag, the chairwoman of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TÜSIAD). She is also Dogan's daughter and is married to Yalcindag.
She knows that her name makes it easy for the administration to downplay criticism coming from TÜSIAD as lobbying for the family business. But even the International Monetary Fund has made greater independence of Turkey's regulatory agencies one of the conditions for an urgently needed $20 billion (€14.8 billion) loan. Erdogan, calling the IMF's demands unacceptable, has so far turned down the offer.
Aydin Dogan refuses to capitulate. "I have faith in the judges and am proud of my country," he says. He is so proud, in fact, that he displays documents in his office that demonstrate that he has been Turkey's biggest taxpayer for years. They are on a wall directly opposite the windowsill where Dogan displays his photos of Tayyip Erdogan.
Source: Der Spiegel
The (Fareed) Zakarias of this world will soon argue that there is also good Taliban and bad Taliban, and you will be able to distinguish between them only if you sit down with them and ultimately come to terms with them. In fact, the process has already begun. Within two months of taking oath as US President, Barack Obama has started arguing that America is not going to win the war in Afghanistan.
Who but a mad man goes about killing children because they are going to school or slaughtering women because they go to mosques for prayer. Who but a crazed man would destroy thousand-year-old statues of the Lord Buddha, just because they are there? What kind of civilisation is this? And how can you come to terms with such a society and its leaders, even if you think they are not as ferocious as they appear?
I have before me the latest issue of Newsweek, an international news magazine published from New York by the same company that brings out Washington Post from Washington. The issue has its cover in bright green, and the headlines are in Arabic, not English, the first time a leading western magazine has done so with a story on what the writer, Fareed Zakaria, calls Radical Islam, which is actually only another term for Islamic terrorism. Radical Islam sounds much more attractive and chic, though it is the same thing as terrorism, which frightens people, particularly New Yorkers, who still have not forgotten 9/11.
Zakaria says that radical Islam is a fact of life—these are his exact words and they are on the cover—and we should learn to live with it. Then in a six-page story, he goes on to explain how to live with it, as if it was some kind of game. His main point is that “we must stop treating all Islamists as potential terrorists” implying that there are good terrorists and bad terrorists and we should not mix the two. He also says that radical Islam has gained a powerful foothold in the Muslim imagination and unless we come to terms with it, we shall not be able to fight “bad terrorists”.
Why should we learn to live with radical Islam, good or bad? Zakaria does not explain. How does he know, sitting in Manhattan and ferrying between New York and Washington, which is good terrorism and which is bad? This good and bad business was first started by the apologists for Nazis in the 1930’s before—and after—Hitler came to power in Germany.
Hitler never said that there were good Nazis and bad Nazis, but his apologists, the Neville Chamberlains of Britain and elsewhere did. They also said, as Zakaria says now, that the Nazis had gained a powerful hold on the German and European imagination and you must learn to live with it. Every generation has its Chamberlains—as also Churchills—and the Chamberlains always argue in favour of appeasement because it is always the easy way out.
The Zakarias of this world will soon argue that there is also good Taliban and bad Taliban, and you will be able to distinguish between them only if you sit down with them and ultimately come to terms with them. In fact, the process has already begun. Within two months of taking oath as US President, Barack Obama has started arguing that America is not going to win the war in Afghanistan and the only way out is to start talks with the Taliban. Whatever you might say about George W Bush, he never said that. He said that terrorism was indefensible and he would fight to the end. The American voters did not agree and he was replaced by a Chamberlain-type politician who seems to have thrown in the towel even before he has entered the ring.
What the Zakarias—and the Barack Hussain Obamas—of this world should do is to ask why there should be terrorists at all, why organisations like the Taliban should go about killing innocent people, burning Sufi mosques and girls’ schools, and stage public beheadings at the slightest excuse. Extremists are always looking for extreme solutions. That is why they are called extremists. Otherwise, they would be editing magazines and participating in seminars while feasting on ducks’ eggs and lobsters.
The Islamists do not believe that everything will be all right if only the Americans withdraw from Afghanistan or from Pakistan, and leave Islamists alone. The Taliban, good or bad, has no love lost for the Zakarias or for the Barack Obamas of this world. All they want is to be left alone to do what they do best or worst and we all know what that is. It is stupid to pretend that there are carnivorous tigers and vegetarian tigers and once you separate the two and come to terms with the vegetarian tigers, you will be safe. The good Nazis did not prevail over the bad Nazis. They slaughtered innocent Jews as enthusiastically as the bad Nazis. A Nazi is a Nazi, just as a Talibani is a Talibani. You must be a genius if you can sit in Manhattan or White House and distinguish between the two.
There is, however, some truth in what Zakaria says at end of his piece. He says that “All Islamists, violent or not, lack answer to the problems of the modern world.” It is not only Islamists who lack answers; it is Islam that lacks answers to the problems of the modern world. Islam and modernity are simply antagonistic to each other. Which is why the Islamists, violent or otherwise, are always at odds with the modern world, and with modernisation, and which also explains why they are hostile to all societies—Hindu, Christian, Jewish—which have absolutely no problem with modernisation. In a sense therefore, the fight between Islam and other societies is a clash of civilisations—a civilisation that is hostile to modernisation and civilisations that are receptive to modernisation, and embrace it, often reluctantly, but ultimately do embrace it.
Who but a mad man goes about killing children because they are going to school or slaughtering women because they go to mosques for prayer. Who but a crazed man would destroy thousand-year old statues of the Lord Buddha, just because they are there? What kind of civilisation is this? And how can you come to terms with such a society and its leaders, even if you think they are not as ferocious as they appear?
You cannot come to terms with the modern world by destroying it. But this is precisely what the religious Luddites are doing. They are burning down schools and libraries, they have banned girls and women from going near any school, they are burning down mosques to prevent women from visiting them, as they recently did in Peshawar. They will soon burn down factories, destroy railways and telephone lines, as they did in Iraq. And our friends in New York say they are a harmless lot and all they need is a little love and understanding!
(By Dr. Jay Dubashi is a veteran columnist and eminent economist, who contributes regularly for Organiser.)
GENEVA (AP) — The U.N.'s top human-rights body approved a proposal by Muslims nations Thursday urging passage of laws around the world to protect religion from criticism.
The proposal put forward by Pakistan on behalf of Islamic countries — with the backing of Belarus and Venezuela — had drawn strong criticism from free-speech campaigners and liberal democracies.
A simple majority of 23 members of the 47-nation Human Rights Council voted in favor of the resolution. Eleven nations, mostly Western, opposed the resolution, and 13 countries abstained.
The resolution urges states to provide "protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions and incitement to religious hatred in general."
"Defamation of religions is the cause that leads to incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence toward their followers," Pakistan's ambassador Zamir Akram said.
"It is important to deal with the cause, rather than with the effects alone," he said.
Muslim nations have argued that religions, in particular Islam, must be shielded from criticism in the media and other areas of public life. They cited cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad as an example of unacceptable free speech.
"Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism," the resolution said.
Opponents of the resolution included Canada, all European Union countries, Switzerland, Ukraine and Chile.
"It is individuals who have rights and not religions," Canadian diplomat Terry Cormier said.
India, which normally votes along with the council's majority of developing nations, abstained in protest at the fact that Islam was the only religion specifically named as deserving protection.
India's Ambassador Gopinathan Achamkulangare said the resolution "inappropriately" linked religious criticism to racism.
The council is dominated by Muslim and African countries. Its resolutions are not binding, but are meant to act as recommendations for U.N. member states on issues of human rights.
Earlier, a coalition of more than 100 secular and faith groups had called on governments to oppose the resolution, warning that it could lead to accusations of defamation among different faiths.
The United States did not vote on the resolution because it is not a member of the council. The Bush administration announced it was virtually giving up on the body and would participate in debates only if absolutely necessary because of the Geneva body's anti-Israel statements and its failure to act on abuses in Sudan and elsewhere.
U.S. diplomats resumed their observer role in the council after President Barack Obama took office, though it is unclear whether Washington will stand for one of the 18 council seats up for election in May.
Esther Brimmer, Obama's nominee for the job of Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizational Affairs, told a Senate hearing Tuesday that the council was a "major disappointment, diverted from its mission by states with some of the worst human rights records."
Someone told me - years ago that giving camels to the murder victims family - was a part of Islamic law! Absolutely amazing!!
MOGADISHU: An Islamic court in southern Somalia on Tuesday sentenced a man found guilty of murdering a UN aid worker to paying the victim's family 100 female camels in compensation.
The defendant, a member of an armed organization, pleaded guilty to the murder of senior World Food Program official Ibrahim Hussein Duale.
"After a five-day trial, the court finally announced its verdict today ... He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay 100 female camels," a relative of the victim, told AFP.
The trial took place in the town of Bardhubo, in the Gedo region, which is under the control of the hardline Islamist group Al-Shabaab and its allies.
The Islamist administration in the area has opened courts applying a version of Sharia, or Islamic law, over the past year.
In the UN aid worker's murder case, the judges deliberated and gave the victim's family the option to choose the death penalty for the accused or receive compensation.
Abdullahi Hussein, a local elder who was part of a committee involved in the case and suggesting an adequate sentence, said the 100 female camels were worth around $45,000.
"Each she-camel is worth 10 million Somalia shillings, so 100 of them works out at around $45,000," he said. - AFP
The advocates of EU membership for Turkey invariably use two arguments: (a) that Turkey geographically is part of Europe (as if for example Denmark is an American country because of its Greenland territory, or Spain is an African country because just across the water it has some remnants of its old empire…), and (b) that Turkey, a supposedly secular Muslim country, would be an ideal bridge to the Middle East and the Muslim world.
Still, “secular” seems to mean a very different thing in a Muslim country, even one held up as a shiny example like Turkey. Take the current selection process of the successor as Nato General Secretary to Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.
Of all the candidates, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish prime minster, has the best cards: he is supported by, among others, the US, UK, France and Germany. So this should be a done deal if it wasn’t for Turkey. Turkey, like each Nato member, has a veto right in this matter and rumors are it may use it.
The problem for Turkey apparently is that Rasmussen, at the time of the 12 cartoons of Mohammed published in Denmark, refused to intervene in the affair: “I want to emphasize that in Denmark we attach fundamental importance to the freedom of expression, which is a vital and indispensable part of a democratic society", although he went as far as personally deploring the cartoons:
"This being said I would like to stress as my personal opinion that I deeply respect the religious feelings of other people. Consequently, I would never myself have chosen to depict religious symbols in this way.”
It is unlikely that it will ever come to a public Turkish veto against Rasmussen: either Turkey will cave in quietly but grudgingly, or – more likely – the other 27 members will cave in to Turkey by choosing a second-best candidate. Either way, this whole episode illustrates that even in a so-called secular Muslim country freedom of press and of expression is not accepted and that having a country like Turkey as a voting member of an organisation could backfire sooner or later because of fundamental differences of opinion on fundamental democratic values.
If the EU were ever to allow Turkey to become a member state, Turkey would be the most populous EU member state and join Germany, the UK and France as the heavyweights that in effect drive most of the EU politics and legislation. Surely it would just be a matter of time before Turkey would use its membership to push through further EU restrictions on press freedom and freedom of expression in the EU as a quid pro quo for continued subsidies to French farmers.
Source: Brussels Journal
Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Cinema and theatre are “against Sharia” because they distract people from work and weaken their efforts in achieving progress, said Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Shaikh Abdul Aziz Alu Al Sheikh during a conference on leisure, visual arts and literature attended by students at King Saud University.
“Theatrical performance, whether it is a cinema or a song, would generally make an impression that is against Sharia. People need only those (art forms) that are useful to them to change their way of life (in an Islamic manner),” he decreed.
Last year the Grand Mufti issued an edict, in which he slammed Turkish soap operas like ‘Nour’ and ‘The Last Years,’ the hottest shows on Arab TV, describing them as “so much evil” that “they destroy people's ethics and are against our values.”
The mufti’s pronouncements are however a sign that Saudi society is increasingly split between a ruling establishment made up of very conservative clerics who espoused strict adherence to Islamic precepts and a broader group of more liberal-oriented young Saudis who want greater openness, more freedom for women and a greater range of entertainment.
Like young people across the Middle East young Saudis routinely go online which gives them access to US action movies, but they cannot go to the movies, an issue that is still taboo.
Yet the recent screening of a Saudi comedy, ‘Menahi’, in two movie theatres twice a day for eight days—with women dutifully seated in the balcony, and men in the stalls—was cheered by many Saudis.
“We put sound and visual equipment, we sold tickets for the first time in Saudi Arabia, and we even sold popcorn,” said Ayman Halawani, general manager of Rotana Studios, the production arm of a company owned by Waleed bin Talal, a financier and member of the royal family, who has become the target of ultra-conservatives for his liberal ideas and investments in the TV and show business.
Overall some 25,000 people actually saw the film.
Such desire for openness is in contrast with what the ruling class wants for Saudi society. For the old guard any overture to customs and traditions that are not strictly Islamic is a threat that must be opposed.
In his address to students at King Saud University, the grand mufti warned against playing chess because it “causes a man to lose his wealth and waste his time.”
Conversely “photography is one of the necessities of life” because it helps in “lectures, [. . .] religious activities [. . .] while maintaining public security.”
“Only the photography of sculptures and models is prohibited,” he said.
Remuneration for poets who attend festivals and cultural events is permissible if their words are good, faultless, without “abusive words or references.”
Finally, the mufti urged students to stay away from cigarettes and avoid reckless driving, especially at night or early morning.
We have, of course, Galloway's own flagrant hypocrisy in that he applauded the British government's decision to deny entry to Dutch politician Geert Wilders.
Here Galloway supports the Wilders' UK ban and hurls insults at British Parliamentarian members - from his Press TV perch!
We have, as well, some of my fellow conservative free-speechers who (rightly) criticized that decision by the British government but (wrongly) supported the decision by the Canadian government.
We also have the case of the federal New Democrats, who have jumped on the Galloway bandwagon:
Harper's Conservatives are wrong to bar MP George Galloway,” said New Democrat Immigration Critic Olivia Chow. “The Minister of Immigration is becoming the ‘Minister of Censorship’. This bunker mentality indicates a government afraid of hearing contradictory points of view."
Minister Kenny’s reasons for denying George Galloway entry are an affront to freedom of speech and show the Harper government is frightened of an open debate on an unpopular war.
Well, Galloway's hardly anti-war - rather, he's pro-war, just on the other side.
In any event, the NDP logic in this case is that government should not be sheltering us from opinions even if they are offensive. Where was that logic last November:
Canada's public safety minister needs to stop a notorious American anti-gay group from entering the country, according to Vancouver East MP Libby Davies of the NDP.
The Westboro Baptist Church is planning to come to Vancouver next week to protest the performance of the Laramie Project at Havana Theatre on Commercial Drive.
The play is about the death of Matthew Shepard, a young man who was beaten to death in Wyoming in 1998 for being gay.
Davies wants Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan to make sure border officials block the group, because she says their anti-gay message breaks Canadian law.
"In Canada, it's against the law to incite hatred against gays and lesbians or any other identifiable group," Davies told CBC Radio on Wednesday morning.
Of course, the hateful words of the Westboro Baptist Church are included in the play itself, so Canadians are already exposed to them. In this case, though, the NDP sounds exactly like those wanting to keep out Galloway.
The BC Civil Liberties Association has been consistent on these issues. Here's ( PDF) what they said at the time:
So too here, we should not use government law enforcement agents at borders to filter what is said and heard in this country and to exercise a paternalistic judgment of what is fit for us to hear. Going down that path would be dangerous.
If only speech that the government of the day or some border agent likes us to hear is allowed to enter the country, one of our most precious freedoms will be impaired.
Taliban Laws for British school: Gym club banned from holding classes at girls school after Muslim parents complain about little boy members
A gymnastics club has been forced to cancel classes at a girls school after Muslim parents complained about boy members of the group (file picture)
Muslim parents express outrage - when they find that little boys are allowed to practices along side the girls at a gymnastics club held an all girls private school. Due to pressure the gymnastics club has been asked to hold classes elsewhere. Gymnastics is an area where Muslim girls (sadly) wont be able to compete - because of dress restrictions - which determine a person/woman's value and standing in Islamic communities. The strict separation of gender - enforced in Islamic societies - namely under Taliban and Wahaabist versions of Islam - have been imported and imposed on this school in the UK. Perhaps the other parents should pull (or threaten to pull) their children out in protest over restricts and changes made to suit Islam.
Prior to this the same school introduced halal meat - without informing non-Muslim parents - halal meat in Europe has a reputation of being substandard as restrictions on its production are less stringent. In many case - ends up a dumping ground for meat that was not fit for human consumption - the meat is then bleached or heavily salted in saline solutions and sold as (bloodless) halal.
Colin Perry, who runs the Shirley Gymnastics Club, said he was saddened by the decision which he said compromised the school's commitment to multiculturalism because of fears of offending a minority.
He is now desperately searching for a new home for the club's 250 members - including 36 boys - which had held mixed-sex classes at the junior school site of Old Palace School, in Croydon, South London, since January last year.
'It's unbelievable,' Mr Perry said.
'There is a group of Muslim parents with Muslim children at the school and they are the ones putting pressure on the headteacher.
'It makes me sad to say that.'
He was told about the decision at a meeting with headteacher Judy Harris a few weeks ago.
'She said some of the parents have said their children go to an independent all girls school and unfortunately they're concerned because we have got boys in the club,' Mr Perry said.
'She said to us that the school has got far more Muslim children than last year, so effectively we have to interpret that in our own way.'
Dudley Mead, a Tory Councillor in Croydon and governor at Old Palace school, said he was aware of the parents' concerns.
He said: 'That's the Muslim belief isn't it? They are very protective of their female children.'
The school did offer a compromise, that the gym club could stay but start later at 6.30pm, rather than 5pm as at present, by which time pupils will be off the site.
But Mr Perry says this would be impractical as some sessions wouldn't end until 9.30pm, which is way too late for many of the club's young members.
The club, which caters for young gymnasts aged between five and 21, has until April 3 to find a new home.
Mrs Harris released a statement and refused to answer any further questions.
In it she said: 'We were unable to accommodate the early starting time of the club as the school was still functioning.
'We had hoped that the club could be held at a later time but this was thought unworkable by the organisers.
'It has not been a decision taken lightly but we have to consider the needs of the school and the security of the site given the very young age of our juniors.'
On its website the school describes how it has a Christian Foundation and is devoted to unleashing creativity and innovation and 'celebrating multicultural understanding and respect.'
Last year the school scrapped halal food from the menu after complaints from outraged parents.
Turkish Justice Ministry decision suggests spreading Christianity may be unlawful ~ crime of 'insulting Turkishness'
Turkey: ‘INSULTING TURKISHNESS’ Case Proceeds Under Revised 'Art. 301' Law
It seems that Turkey fully intends to gain entry into Europe while holding onto its Islamist agenda. For a Turkish citizen to speak about their Christian faith - it is considered to be an 'insult' to the Prophet Muhammed, and anything that 'insults' the Prophet 'insults Turkishness'. Under Turkey's Article 301 - the mere mention of the Armenia genocide - and also leaving Islam - have become prosecutable offenses. Only after the EU's repeated objections - the law Article 301 was revised - now instead of being charged with 'insulting Turkishness' - you'll be charged with 'insulting the Turkish State'.
ISTANBUL, March 20 (Compass Direct News) – Turkey’s decision last month to try two Christians under a revised version of a controversial law for “insulting Turkishness” because they spoke about their faith came as a blow to the country’s record of freedom of speech and religion.
A Silivri court on Feb. 24 received the go-ahead from the Ministry of Justice to try Christians Turan Topal and Hakan Tastan under the revised Article 301 – a law that has sparked outrage among proponents of free speech as journalists, writers, activists and lawyers have been tried under it. The court had sent the case to the Ministry of Justice after the government on May 8, 2008 put into effect a series of changes – which critics have called “cosmetic” – to the law.
The justice ministry decision came as a surprise to Topal and Tastan and their lawyer, as missionary activities are not illegal in Turkey. Defense lawyer Haydar Polat said no concrete evidence of insulting Turkey or Islam has emerged since the case first opened two years ago.
“The trial will continue from where it left off – to be honest, we thought they wouldn’t give permission [for the case to continue],” said Polat, “because there was no persuasive evidence of ‘degrading Turkishness and Islam’ in the case file.”
A Ministry of Justice statement claimed that approval to try the case came in response to the original statement by three young men – Fatih Kose, Alper Eksi and Oguz Yilmaz – that Topal and Tastan were conducting missionary activities in an effort to show that Islam was a primitive and fictitious religion that results in terrorism, and to portray Turks as a “cursed people.”
Prosecutors have yet to produce any evidence indicating the defendants described Islam in these terms, and Polat said Turkey’s constitution grants all citizens freedom to choose, be educated in and communicate their religion, making missionary activities legal.
“This is the point that really needs to be understood,” said Polat. “In Turkey, constitutionally speaking it is not a crime to be a Christian or to disseminate the Christian faith. However, in reality there have been problems.”
The lawyer contended that prosecuting lawyers have given political dimensions to the case by rendering baseless accusations in a nationalistic light.
“From their point of view, missionary activity carried out by missionaries of imperialistic countries is harmful for Turkish culture and the country overall,” Polat said.
Tastan said that although he has always been confident that he and Topal will be acquitted, the decision of the Ministry of Justice to try them under Article 301 left him deeply disappointed in his own country.
“After this last hearing, I realized that I didn’t feel as comfortable as I had been in the past,” Tastan told Compass. “I believed that surely the Ministry of Justice would never make the decision they did.”
Tastan said he was uneasy that his country would deem his Christian faith as insulting to the very Turkishness in which he takes pride.
“This is the source of my uneasiness: I love this country so much, this country’s people, that as a loving Turk who is a Christian to be tried for insulting Turkey has really cut me up,” said Tastan. “Because I love this nation, I’ve never said anything against it. That I’m a Christian, yes, I say that and I will continue to do so. But I think they are trying to paint the image that we insult, dislike and hate Turks. This really makes me sad and heartsick.”
If nothing else, Tastan said, the trial has provided an opportunity for Turkish Christians to show God’s love and also make themselves known to their compatriots. He called the ministerial decision duplicitous.
“A government that talks the European Union talk, claims to respect freedom, democracy, and accept everyone, yet rejects me even though I’m a Turkish citizen who is officially a Christian on his ID card, has made me sad,” he said. “That’s why I’m disappointed.”
At the time of their arrests, Topal and Tastan were volunteers with The Bible Research Center, which last week acquired official association status and is now called “The Society for Propagating Knowledge of the Bible.” In the last court hearing, prosecutors demanded that further inquiries be conducted into the nature of the association since the defendants used their contact lists to reach people interested in Christianity.
“Because they think like this, they believe that the Bible center is an important unit to the missionary activities,” said Polat. “And they allege that those working at this center are also guilty.”
The court has yet to decide whether police can investigate the Christian association.
Polat and the defendants said they believe that as no evidence has been presented, the case should come to a conclusion at the next hearing on May 28.
“From a legal standpoint, we hope that they will acquit us, that it will be obvious that there is no proof,” said Tastan. “There have only been allegations … none of the witnesses have accused us in court. I’m not a legal expert, but I believe that if there is no proof and no evidence of ‘insulting,’ then we should be set free.”
The initial charges prepared by the Silivri state prosecutor against Tastan and Topal were based on “a warning telephone call to the gendarme” claiming that Christian missionaries were trying to form illegal groups in local schools and insulting Turkishness, the military and Islam.
Despite a court summons sent to the Silivri and Istanbul gendarme headquarters requesting six gendarme soldiers to testify as prosecution witnesses, none have stepped forward to do so. At a June 24, 2008 hearing, two witnesses for the prosecution declared they did not know the defendants and had never seen them before facing them in the courtroom. Several witnesses – including one of the original complainants, Kose – have failed to show up on various trial dates.
“We believe the case has arrived to a concluding stage, because all evidence has been collected and the witnesses have been heard,” Polat said. “We believe the accused will be dismissed. The inverse would surprise us.”
Polat underlined that while the case shows that human rights violations in Turkey are still a “serious problem,” it is also true that Turkey’s desire to join the European Union has brought sincere efforts to improve democratic processes. He attested, however, that establishing a true democracy can be a long process that requires sacrifices.
“It is my conviction that there is no other way for people to believe in and establish democracy than through struggle,” he said.
Tastan added that he sees hope that the notion that being “Turkish” means being Muslim is breaking. Due to exposure to media coverage of the murder trial of the April 18, 2007 slaughter of three Christians in Malatya, he said, Turks are becoming aware that there are fellow citizens who are Christians and are even dying for their Lord.
“This makes me happy, because it means freedom for the Turkish Christians that come after us,” said Tastan. “At least they won’t experience these injustices. I believe we will accomplish this.”
For the time being, though, the Ministry of Justice’s decision that Tastan and Topal can be tried under the revised Article 301 law appears to contribute to the belief that to promulgate a non-Islamic faith in Turkey is tantamount to treason. As Turkish online human rights magazine Bianet headlined its coverage of the decision, “Ministerial Edict: You Can Be a Christian But Do Not Tell Anyone!”