Saturday, November 28, 2009

Women lead Swiss in vote to ban minarets

A right-wing campaign to outlaw minarets on mosques in a referendum being held in Switzerland today has received an unlikely boost from radical feminists arguing that the tower-like structures are “male power symbols” and reminders of Islam’s oppression of women.

A “stop the minarets” campaign has provoked ferment in the land of Heidi, where women are more likely than men to vote for the ban after warnings from prominent feminists that Islam threatens their rights.

Forget about tranquil Alpine scenery and cowbells: one of the most startling features of the referendum campaign has been a poster showing a menacing woman in a burqa beside minarets rising from the Swiss flag.

It seems to have struck a nerve in Langenthal, a small town near Bern where Muslims plan to put up a minaret next to their prayer room in a bleak former paint factory.

“If we give them a minaret, they’ll have us all wearing burqas,” said Julia Werner, a local housewife. “Before you know it, we’ll have sharia law and women being stoned to death in our streets. We won’t be Swiss any more.”

A spoof video game on the internet called Minaret Attack shows minarets popping up all over the idyllic Swiss countryside, after which a message proclaims: “Game over! Switzerland is covered in minarets. Vote to ban them on November 29.”

“It’s a dirty campaign,” said Mutalip Karaademi, an Albanian who leads Langenthal’s small Muslim community. “They’re trying to provoke us.”

A poll suggested the Swiss would narrowly reject a ban but the feminist involvement is having an effect: according to one poll, 39% of women were in favour of a ban, but only 31% of men.

Tatiana, a teacher who had previously voted for the left, was quoted in a newspaper as saying she would vote for the minaret ban as she could “no longer bear being mistreated and terrorised by boys who believe women are worthless”.

Socialist politicians have been furious to see icons of the left joining what is regarded as an anti-immigrant campaign by the populist Swiss People’s party, the biggest group in parliament.

One of them, Julia Onken, warned that failure to ban minarets would be “a signal of the state’s acceptance of the oppression of women”. She has sent out 4,000 emails attacking Muslims who condone forced marriage, honour killings and beating women.

Swiss business is horrified. There are fears of a reaction against Swiss products similar to the one suffered by Denmark over the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad in 2005.

“The brand ‘Swiss’ must continue to represent values such as openness, pluralism and freedom of religion,” said Hanspeter Rentsch, a member of the board of Swatch, the watchmaker.

Heinz Haab, secretary of the Swiss inter-religious organization, pastes a poster to a wall prior to a media conference entitled "Minaret ban: Discriminating and useless", in Bern, Switzerland, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009. The organization of minorities in Switzerland strongly opposes an initiative by supporters of the the right-wing Swiss People's Party that plans to ban minarets in Switzerland. A public vote on the minaret ban initiative will be held in Switzerland on Nov. 29, 2009. The slogan on the poster reads, "The sky above Switzerland is big enough. No to intolerance. No to the minaret-banning initiative."

The government, for its part, is worried about reprisals plunging Switzerland into the front line of the war against terror. Micheline Calmy-Rey, the foreign minister, said a yes vote “could make Switzerland a target for Islamic terrorism”.

With a Muslim population of 400,000 and some 150 mosques and prayer rooms, the Swiss thought they had avoided the kind of tensions that have arisen over Muslims’ rights in bigger neighbouring countries such as France and Germany.

That changed in 2006, however, when a Sikh temple, complete with a gleaming white crown, was inaugurated in Langenthal. Karaademi appears to have been struck with cupola envy.

“I said to myself: why not us?” he recalled last week, adding that he had applied for a permit to build what would be Switzerland’s fifth minaret and permission had been quickly granted.

Encouraged by this, Muslim communities all over the country began applying for permits to put up their own minarets, regardless of the fact that noise regulations prevent the towers from fulfilling their traditional function of calling the faithful to prayer.

People began to worry about minarets dominating the Swiss skyline.

“They felt threatened,” said Patrick Freudiger, a Conservative MP who likes to remember a comment by Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, who once described minarets as the “bayonets” of the Muslim faith. “Minarets are symbolic of a quest for political and religious power,” Freudiger said.

A similar battle has been raging in Germany over plans to build one of Europe’s biggest mosques in the shadow of Cologne cathedral. The Danes are also locked in debate over plans for two grand mosques in Copenhagen.

In an initiative that would please Switzerland’s antiminaret campaigners, an Italian town seized the headlines last week by putting up signs banning women from wearing the burqa in public.

“If we ban the minarets, that won’t help communication between us,” said Thomas Ruefener, the mayor of Langenthal. “And immigration will continue all the same.”

Referendum or not, the arguments seem likely to continue. “In Switzerland,” said Hisham Maizer, president of the Swiss Federation of Islamic Organisations, “the debate about Islam is only just beginning.”

Women lead Swiss in vote to ban minarets - Times Online

UK Muslims make case for Sharia law

Angling for Sharia.

Without having the rulings Sharia courts fully recognized by British law - contrary to this article - which appeared in UAE's The National - the head of the Sharia council in the UK Sheikh Suhaib Hasan has suggested Islamic penal codes such as the amputation of limbs as punishment for theft, be introduced as a way to make Britain a 'safer and better place'.
    He said, that problems such as knife crime [mostly teenagers] would be better resolved if harsher punishments were meted out because they worked as a deterrent.

    ...emphasised that he neither sought nor expected the implementation of the criminal penal code in Britain because it was not a Muslim country.

    [and] that he was merely expressing his point of view as a devout Muslim.

Though this article seems to suggest that it is only the militant Islamists who want the medieval Islamic punishments.
    He [another Sheikh] suspects the hostility of some non-Muslims is based on confusion with such punishments as the stoning of adulteresses, amputation of thieves’ hands and flogging for drinking alcohol. British public concern has been heightened by demonstrations in which militants have demanded the full application of Sharia.

    “We are not asking for the flogging of people for drinking or stoning for adultery,” he said. “These things simply have no place in our discussions.”

LONDON// Flanked by Islamic bookshops in one of the shabbier corners of London, the modest facade of the Masjid Tawhid bears no resemblance to the solemn grandeur of the Royal Courts of Justice in the centre of the capital.

But tucked away inside a building that also offers ample accommodation for prayers, classes and social functions is a tiny room where justice is dispensed with no less seriousness than in the official courts.

Here in Leyton High Road, in London’s East End, and in nearby premises previously used by the Islamic Sharia Council of the UK, some 10,000 cases have been dealt with during the past 27 years. The workload is increasing and senior Muslim scholars who administer the system believe it is only a matter of time before Sharia is formally accepted within the framework of British law.

But this growth has generated fierce criticism in some quarters. A report by the think-tank Civitas earlier this year claimed 85 Sharia courts were operating in the UK, sometimes giving the Muslims who turn to them illegal advice on matrimonial and divorce issues. Its allegations are firmly challenged by the council, but Britain’s Conservative opposition is expected to impose restrictions if it takes power next year.

For Sheikh Haitham al Haddad, one of the council’s most senior members, the work of such tribunals can be “complementary to the civil courts” and in certain cases find solutions that would be beyond the established legal system.

He suspects the hostility of some non-Muslims is based on confusion with such punishments as the stoning of adulteresses, amputation of thieves’ hands and flogging for drinking alcohol. British public concern has been heightened by demonstrations in which militants have demanded the full application of Sharia.

As a devout Muslim, Sheikh Haddad, born in Saudi Arabia to Palestinian parents, considers physical punishment consistent with Islamic teaching, but points out that this is a philosophical issue that has nothing to with the council, which deals purely with civil disputes.

“We are not asking for the flogging of people for drinking or stoning for adultery,” he said. “These things simply have no place in our discussions.”

Some 85 per cent of the cases heard in Leyton, he said, concerned the dissolution of marriages and divorce arrangements. Inheritance matters and the declaration of fatwas on a range of matters covering Muslims’ working and domestic lives accounted for most of the remainder.

The decisions of the council’s hearings – Sheikh Haddad insists they are not courts – are widely respected in the Muslim community. Except in cases where a spouse, usually the wife, has been abandoned, both parties agree in advance to accept the findings. But he acknowledges that uncertainty about the legal status of the proceedings was a cause for concern. “It is one of our biggest problems that there is no formal recognition of Muslim personal law within the judicial system,” he said. “But we are talking to politicians and to people in the churches in the hope that Britain will make some accommodation for our work. That would make it easier for the legal system generally, and easier for us.”

Close to central London, the council also holds monthly sessions at the Central Mosque in Regent’s Park and The National was invited to hear a succession of cases being considered by a panel of six, chaired by Sheikh Suhaib Hasan, the council’s president. People involved in disputes sometimes make personal appearances, but on this occasion none was present.

In one case, a Nigerian woman’s husband had taken “another wife”, though it was not clear from the information read out whether this was a bigamous marriage – in the eyes of British law – or an affair. “I have no intention of denying him everlasting peace,” the woman wrote. “Indeed my utmost desire has been for him to find peace and happiness.”

She did, however, want a divorce. Perhaps in a moment of levity, Sheikh Hasan suggested that an abandoned woman’s wish for him to have “everlasting peace” might mean she wanted him to die. Another panel member, Dr Khurram Bashir, insisted her words should be taken “at face value”.

Hearing that the husband would agree to a divorce, the panel agreed to ask the woman to confirm that she would observe his four conditions, including assurances that she would neither “taunt” him nor visit his new home. In another case, where a man was suspected of withholding consent to divorce because of a dispute over money, the panel said the financial details should be left to the civil courts.

Broadly, UK law allows the council, and the separate Muslim Arbitration Tribunals permitted under a law passed in 1996, to make binding and enforceable decisions provided both parties consent to the process and the outcome is not in conflict with the law of the land.

Religious and academic opinion is divided. The head of the Church of England, Dr Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, has suggested the law should be amended to recognise certain aspects of Sharia. But there is concern, especially about rulings or fatwas made in “unofficial courts”, tribunals operating without the Islamic Sharia Council’s endorsement and whose numbers are in dispute.

Dr Denis MacEoin, a specialist in Arabic and Islamic studies who wrote the Civitas report, gave the following examples from his research of rulings made:

• a man was allowed to divorce his wife without telling her about it “provided he does not seek to sleep with her”

• pronouncing it a religious duty to “fight the Americans and British”

• advocacy of severe punishments for homosexuality

• disapproval of a woman’s recourse to fertility treatment

• forbidding a woman to stay with her husband if he leaves Islam

Dr MacEoin said: “If put into practice, they would undermine UK law by allowing a single community to play fast and loose with British law and customs. They are divisive, many of them are discriminatory against women and non-Muslims, and they deeply undermine the freedoms that all British citizens are entitled to enjoy.”

But speaking on the eve of his departure to perform the Haj in Mecca, Sheikh Haddad said the report was flawed. “There are not 85 Islamic courts in the UK. There are only one or two that call themselves council and the maximum number of others we can establish is 15. As for the Muslim Arbitration Tribunals, I would say less than a handful.”

No illegal advice was given, he said, and there was no attempt to run a parallel legal system. “But there is more and more need for Sharia bodies to deal with cases where Muslim law is respected by all the relevant parties. We need these bodies to be recognised … I believe in time that this will happen.”

The (UAE) National

Lebanon agrees Hezbollah right to use arms against Israel

Lebanese Hezbollah fighters stand next to a mock rocket under a poster of Hezbollah's leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah with arabic words reading:" To let you know, July (2006 war) was a picnic," during a demonstration to protest Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip, in the southern market town of Nabatiyeh, Lebanon, on Saturday Jan. 10, 2009.

BEIRUT (AFP)— Lebanon's new cabinet has agreed on a policy statement that acknowledges Hezbollah's right to use its weapons against Israel, despite disagreement by some members of the ruling majority.

Information Minister Tarek Mitri said late Wednesday after a cabinet committee set up to draft the statement met for the ninth time that an agreement had been reached.

He said the new statement will retain the same clause approved by the previous cabinet as concerns the arsenal of Hezbollah, which fought a devastating war with Israel in 2006 and is considered a terrorist organisation by Washington.

Hezbollah fighters parade during a ceremony organized by the militant Shiite Muslim group on the occasion of Martyr's Day in the southern suburbs of Beirut November 11, 2009. We wont mention the Nazi salute!

The clause states the right of "Lebanon, its government, its people, its army and its resistance" to liberate all Lebanese territory.

Hezbollah is commonly referred to as the resistance in Lebanon.

Mitri said that reservations concerning the clause by members of the Western-backed majority would be noted in the government programme.

Christian members of the majority, including the Phalange Party and Lebanese Forces, argue that Hezbollah's arsenal undermines state authority and runs counter to UN resolutions.

However the Shiite party, which has two ministers in the 30-member unity cabinet, has made it clear that its weapons are not open to discussion.

The party argues its arms are necessary to protect the country against any future aggression by Israel, which withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000 after a 22-year occupation.

Lebanon's new cabinet is headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whose US- and Western-backed alliance defeated a Hezbollah-led opposition supported by Syria and Iran in a June vote.

Second Bomb Blast At Russian Train Crash Site

The less powerful bomb is not thought to have injured anyone, the head of Russia's state railway operator said.

The train was originally derailed by a bomb equivalent to 7kg (15lb) of TNT, the head of Russia's domestic intelligence service told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.


Several carriages of the Nevsky Express travelling from Moscow to St Petersburg were sent off the tracks near the town of Bologoye, 200 miles from Moscow.

"Two wagons were completely overturned... several people were completely crushed under the metal. I heard screams, moaning," police officer Andrei Abramenko, who was travelling on the train, said.

A unnamed source in Moscow's law enforcement agencies has been quoted as saying: "A one-metre-diameter hole has been found next to the railway track."

Russia's Health Minister Tatyana Golikova has said 39 people have been killed, 18 are missing and more than 90 are being treated in hospital. But death toll is still unclear.

The train was carrying 661 passengers in 13 carriages and four of them were damaged, Russian railways said.

Sky News Moscow correspondent Amanda Walker said a mobile field hospital was being flown to the area, near Bologoye.

"That gives you an idea of the scale of the operation," she said.

The derailment is Russia's worst train accident for several years and may raise fears of a surge in attacks by rebels from the North Caucasus.

Walker said: "Two years ago, in August 2007, a different train but the same service was the victim of a terror attack when about 60 people were injured. It was believed to be connected to Chechen separatists."

Russian prosecutors said they believed ex-soldier Pavel Kosolapov, a former associate of the late Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev, was the mastermind behind that blast.

Kosolapov is still on the run.

Sky News

Russian railways confirm terror act in tragic train crash [Video]

Russia's Railways Minister Vladimir Yakunin has said that Nevsky express train (Невский Экспресс) derailed due to bomb explosion. At least 25 people have been killed and dozens injured when a train partially derailed on its way from Moscow to St Petersburg on Friday night. It's feared the death toll could rise with 18 people still unaccounted for.

Tragedy: Dozens dead as Moscow-St Petersburg train derails

Raw video of fatal train disaster in Russia

Friday, November 27, 2009

Jesus 4 Stoning Adulterers, Amputating Thieves Hands & Feet, Floggings, Beheadings and Jihad Holy War, says Islam4UK


Organised by Anjem Choudary and Shariat Brothers

You don't even have to be a Christian to see the joke in this !!

Jesus (Eesa (as)) was the penultimate Prophet sent by God (Allah) to bring mankind out of the darkness and hegemony of man-made law, into the perfection and beauty of divine law.

Sadly, his character is one of the most controversial in the world today, with Jews rejecting him and Christians elevating him to the blasphemous status of son of God or even God Himself; Muslims on the other hand venerate him as one of the most important Messengers of God, who will return one day, break the cross and prove to the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) the truth of Islam.

In light of this, Islam4UK, a platform for Al-Muhajiroun, have decided to launch a unique campaign in the run up to Christmas, challenging Jews and in particular Christians to an open debate on the true message of Jesus.

This event has been booked for 18th December 2009, precisely one week before Christmas Day and we hereby call out to all Christian leaders in the UK to come forward and defend their claim to Jesus on this special day, if they sincerely believe they are on the truth.

If you or anyone you know are interested in participating in the debate and would like to know more about arrangements for the day please contact Abu Yahya on 07961577221.

You will also witness several articles as a precursor to this event, outlining the life of Jesus (peace be upon him) and his mission, in light of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Indeed, as Muslims we believe that Jesus was a Muslim, and moreover that if he were alive today, that he would reject the evil bureaucracy of man-made law and wholeheartedly embrace the divine law (Shari'ah)of the Final Messenger sent to the whole of mankind, Muhammad (saw).

, Jawa Report

Suicide attacks a curse for Muslims: Saudi Grand Mufti

Muslims line up to stone the devil - it is worth noting that sometimes the devil is within.

At least Mufti is not dragging in the usual conspiracy theory - which blames things like Western Islamophobia for causing Islamic suicide attacks!

Islamophobia - has become the new Israel - or almost - as the reason for everything wrong in the Islamic world today !!

Dubai: Describing terrorism and suicide attacks as a curse for Muslims and the rest of the world, the Saudi Grand Mufti has asked the believers to adhere to the true principles of Islam.

Addressing pilgrims on the final day of the Haj Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh Al-Asheikh said, "The most serious problem the Muslim community is facing lately is from deviant ideology. The deviants have abandoned the right principles of Islam and adopted a wrong creed. Therefore adherence to the right creed is one of the most important duties of a Muslim."

"Suicide operations have become a curse of Muslim lands. Innocent men, women and children are killed and their installations wrecked," he said in his sermon before he led the noon prayer at Namira mosque.

Al-Asheikh condemned terrorism and suicide operations in unequivocal terms. Al-Asheikh also warned Muslims not to become tools in the hands of their enemies.

"Terror is the most dangerous challenge that the Muslims and the rest of the world are facing. It has taken different shapes and forms. There are people who use it to promote their interests," he said.

Meanwhile, the Haj pilgrimage reached its climax as millions of Muslims, including over 1.6 lakh from India, pelted pebbles on pillars symbolising the devil at Mina on the final day of the Haj as the day was marked with mass animal sacrifices. Muslims also performed Eid Al-Adha prayers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and Prophet's Mosque in Madinah.

Express India

Former Tory peer Lord Pearson becomes new UKIP leader

Here's the glamorous Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs with Lord Pearson at the Free Speech Summit - Palm Peach 2009

A former Conservative peer was today elected the new leader of the UK Independence Party.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch will take over from Nigel Farage, who has been in charge for three years, after polling 48 per cent in a ballot of party members.

He was granted a peerage by Margaret Thatcher in 1990 but had the Tory whip withdrawn after suggesting voters should support UKIP in the elections in 2004.

He is a strong supporter of freedom of speech and earlier this year invited right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders to Britain to screen a controversial film about Islam.

In his acceptance speech today, Lord Pearson said his ambition was to win enough support to force a hung Parliament in next year's general election.

UKIP campaigns for Britain's withdrawal from the European Union and has seen its support grow as people have become frustrated with the mainstream parties.

Party chiefs will hope that Lord Pearson's appointment helps it attract more disenchanted Tory voters in the run-up to the general election next year.

Lord Pearson said today: 'Ukip is not for sheep, Ukip is not for lemmings. Ukip is for people who think and act for themselves and it is for people who now for many years have seen through the lies of our political class and our main political parties, particularly in regard to our relationship with the European Union.

'If you want to go on being deceived by the main parties, then stay in them and vote for them. If you don't, the only way forward now is Ukip. It is the only show in town.'

He said the Lisbon Treaty was the 'last nail in the coffin' of Britain's democracy. and that the EU was now 'a country, superior to the vassal states'.

He continued: 'My ambition is for UKIP to do well enough at the next general election so that we can force a hung Parliament and a re-alignment in British politics.

'Of course, we will be majoring on leaving the European Union - we can't control our borders without that, we can't control immigration and we will save billions.'

Mr Farage stood down so tjhat he can concentrate on his role as an MEP and on fighting Speaker John Bercow for the Buckingham constituency at the next election.

'The party has never been stronger and never been more united than it is now,' he said today.

Daily Mail

Christian girl, 16, gets 50 lashes for wearing 'indecent' knee-length skirt in Sudan

Queen Rania of Jordan on the other hand - shakes off this Islamizing pressure extremely well.

There is enormous pressure on the Khartoum government to completely Islamize as well as Arabize the whole country. There is talk that has been going around for more than a few years - that if they could bring the whole country underneath Islam - there is a promise of more money from the richer Arab states. One report claimed that Gaddaffi - approached a Southern Sudanese leader - in the largely Christian and animist region and told him that if he could bring it under Sharia law - there was a promise of development aid.

A 16-year-old Sudanese girl was lashed 50 times after a judge ruled her knee-length skirt was indecent, her family said today.

The mother of Christian teenager Silva Kashif said she is to sue police and the judge who imposed the sentence under Islamic shariah law.

Saying she only learned about her daughter's conviction after she had been lashed, mother Jenty Doro said the family's religion should have been taken into account.
Kashif, whose family comes from the south Sudanese town of Yambio, was arrested while walking to the market near her home in the Khartoum suburb of Kalatla last week, Doro told Reuters.

'She is just a young girl but the policeman pulled her along in the market like she was a criminal. It was wrong,' said Doro.

Doro said Khashif was taken to Kalatla court where she was convicted and punished by a female police officer in front of the judge.

'I only heard about it after she was lashed. Later we all sat and cried ... People have different religions and that should be taken into account' she said.

Kashif's lawyer Azhari al-Haj said he was preparing a case against the police and judge for arresting and sentencing an under-age girl. He said according to the law, people under 18 should not be given lashes.

'She was wearing a normal skirt and blouse, worn by thousands of girls. They didn't contact a guardian and punished her on the spot.'

Al-Haj said he was hoping to win compensation and to clear Kashif's record. 'We are also against the law itself. We want the law to be changed.'

The case will add fuel to a debate already raging over Sudan's decency laws after this year's high-profile conviction of Sudanese U.N. official Lubna Hussein, who was briefly jailed for wearing trousers in public.

Hussein, a former journalist who used her case to campaign against Sudan's public order and decency regulations, is touring France to publicise her book about the prosecution.

She had faced the maximum penalty of 40 lashes but was given a lighter sentence.

Arrests for indecency, drunkenness and other public order offences are not uncommon in Khartoum which is governed by Islamic sharia law.

But the punishment of residents of the capital originating from the south remains a sensitive issue.

Sudan is supposed to be working to soften the impact of sharia for southerners living in Khartoum under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of north-south civil war.

The deal lifted sharia law in the south, where most follow Christianity and traditional beliefs.

Women's groups argue the decency laws are too vague, giving the country's separate public order police too much freedom to decide what kind of dress is appropriate.

Nigerian football star Stephen Worgu this month said he had been sentenced to 40 lashes after being wrongly convicted of drunk driving in Khartoum. The sentence has been postponed pending an appeal.

Daily Mail

Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha and the slaughter of animals [Photos]

A sheep is seen before its slaughter at a cattle and sheep farm during Eid al-Adha in Cairo, November 27, 2009. Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha to mark the end of the haj by slaughtering sheep, goats, cows and camels to commemorate Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail on God's command.

Many rights campaigners call the practise inhuman and brutal - the one thing that can be said about the practise is at least the focus is on killing an animal - and not another human being.

Butchers slaughter cows during Eid al-Adha celebrations in Banha, 48 km (30 miles) north of Cairo, November 23, 2009, Muslims across the world are preparing to celebrate the annual festival of Eid al-Adha or the Festival of Sacrifice, which marks the end of the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca by hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world by slaughtering goats, sheep and cattle in commemoration of the Prophet Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son to show obedience to Allah.

Muslims prepare to kill a cow during Eid al-Adha celebrations on a street in the Abobo area of Abidjan November 27, 2009. Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha by slaughtering sheep, goats, camels and cows to commemorate Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, Ismail, on God's command.

Palestinians slaughter a sheep near a section of the controversial Israeli barrier on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha in Shuafat refugee camp in the West Bank near Jerusalem November 27, 2009. Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha to mark the end of the haj by slaughtering sheep, goats, cows and camels to commemorate Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail on God's command.

French aid worker kidnapped from hotel in Mali

PARIS - Armed men kidnapped a French humanitarian aid worker from his hotel in northern Mali overnight, in a region where Islamists from al-Qaida's North Africa branch have been active, officials said Thursday.

The man was kidnapped from a hotel in the town of Menaka, located about 1,537 kilometres from the capital, near Mali's border with Niger, said Alwaadhat Ag Saratout, a local leader in the town.

Guards near the man's hotel heard cries, and the owner of the hotel informed local police immediately, the official said.

He said the Frenchman was a humanitarian worker who had been in Menaka since April.

Tuareg rebels and Al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa have been active in the area.

The Islamist group operates mainly in Algeria but is suspected of crossing the country's porous desert borders to spread violence in the rest of north-western Africa.

The group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of two UN staffers in December, and the kidnapping of four European tourists a month later.

One of the four Europeans, a Briton, was killed by his captors.

The UN staffers and the other tourists were released.

The US announced last month it is providing security forces in the West African nation with more than $5 million in new vehicles and other equipment, three months after the Islamist group claimed it killed 28 Malian soldiers.

The French Foreign Ministry provided no further details other than confirming the kidnapping and urging French citizens to be extra vigilant while travelling outside the Malian capital, Bamako.

- AP

Insensitive: London 7/7 relatives slam joint inquest with bombers

LONDON (AFP)— Relatives of people who died in the July 7, 2005, suicide bombings in London have protested at a decision to hold inquests into their loved ones' deaths jointly with those of the dead attackers.

Families of the 52 innocent civilians who died when four Islamist militants detonated near-simultaneous bombs on undergound trains and a bus say they are "absolutely devastated" by the decision.

The long-delayed inquests are to be held next year, and relatives met Thursday with an Appeal Court judge who briefed them on the proceedings, including the fact that they will be held jointly with the bombers.

"I hadn't anticipated that and it came as a real blow," said Graham Foulkes, whose 22-year-old son David died at Edgware Road Tube station. "The temperature dropped in the room. There was just shock and people were very close to tears.

"The inquest into the death of the murderers will be at the same time as the inquest into my son who they murdered and that doesn't feel right that we should be in the same room at the same time, or even part of the same process."

Grahame Russell, whose son Philip died in the bus bombing on Tavistock Square, said he was not surprised by the decision.

"That doesn't mean I'm not disappointed. I'm aggrieved that the inquest on my son is being shared with the man who murdered him. That hurts and it feels tough that we've got to go through that," he said, cited by the BBC.

A pre-inquest hearing will be held early next year, followed by the full inquest later in 2010, the families were told.

In the closely coordinated attacks, the four suicide bombers including ringleader Mohammed Sidique Khan set off their devices in three Tube trains and the Tavistock Square bus in central London.

The bombings, which occurred as then premier Tony Blair was hosting a Group of Eight (G8) summit in Gleneagles, were followed exactly two weeks later by a failed attempt to repeat them.

Britain, a key partner with US president George W. Bush in the Afghan and Iraq conflicts which followed the September 11, 2001 attacks, has been on high terrorism alert for much of the time since.

In June 2007, shortly after Gordon Brown succeeded Blair, militants staged failed car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow airport, where they drove a car containing home-made bombs into the front of the main terminal building.

UK: Controversial Islamist advises Crown Prosecution Service


    “This is the sort of politically correct appointment which the government will make in haste but may regret at leisure,” chairman of the Commons subcommittee on counterterrorism.

Inviting Sharia in the UK - below

Published: 01 Nov 2009

Azad Ali, who was suspended from his job at the Treasury over controversial comments he made on his internet blog, is now on a panel advising the CPS on incitement to racial and religious hatred.

Ali, a government IT worker, is acting as an unpaid member of a “community involvement panel” which is chaired by the CPS head of counter terrorism. He is representing the Muslim Safety Forum, a group of Muslim organisations that advise the Metropolitan Police.

Ali was reinstated to his job earlier this year after a six month suspension when the Treasury said it had “dealt with the matter in accordance with our disciplinary procedures.”

On his blog, hosted by the Islamic Europe Forum, an organisation linked with East London Mosque, Ali , said he found 'much truth' in an interview with an Islamic militant who said: ‘If I saw an American or British an wearing a soldier’s uniform inside Iraq I would kill him because that is my obligation.”

He also wrote about the British government’s policy on Gaza under the heading “We are the resistance”, saying: “There is no respite from the terrorist slaughter machine of the Zionist state of Israel. America and our own government have given much fuel to this machine and in fact helped to build the killing machine.”

In another post on Gaza in January entitled “We are the resistance II”, Ali described some Muslim moderates as “nothing but self-serving vultures, feeding on the dead flesh of the Palestinians”.

He has also used his blog to praise Abdullah Azzam, regarded as a key spiritual mentor to Osama Bin Laden, saying Azzam was one of the “few Muslims who promote the understanding of the term jihad in its comprehensive glory” as both a doctrine of “self-purification” and of “warfare”.

Ali has also used his blog to deny that the Mumbai attacks last November, in which 173 people were killed, were an act of terrorism. He has also defended Hizb ut-Tahrir, an extremist group which opposes western democracy.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the panel on which Ali serves “discusses practices and policies in relation to the incitement to racial and religious hatred. It feeds into the CPS’s counterterrorism division and considers issues on a thematic basis. It does not discuss individual cases.”

Patrick Mercer, chairman of the Commons subcommittee on counterterrorism, said: “This is the sort of politically correct appointment which the government will make in haste but may regret at leisure.”

Ali has declined to comment.

Inviting Sharia in the UK - Front Page Mag

Radical Muslims seeking to spread their ideology in the United Kingdom have found a surprising ally—the British government. London has had many successes in combating terrorists like Al-Qaeda. Yet it is helping more politically adept Islamists gain power and prestige by accepting their pose as “moderates.”

Several recent appointments in the government show how the Islamists are gaining access inside the government. Azad Ali has been chosen to sit on a panel to advise the Crown Prosecution Service’s counter-terrorism chief, for example. Ali has previously lamented U.S. support for the “terrorist slaughter machine of the Zionist state of Israel,” and has spoken highly of Abdullah Azzam, the Muslim Brotherhood mentor of Osama Bin Laden, and Anwar al-Awlaki, the Al-Qaeda-linked imam in Yemen that was admired by Major Nidal Malik Hassan, the Fort Hood shooter, although he recently said he rejects al-Awlaki’s views.

Ali has also expressed his support for Hizb ut-Tahrir, an extremist group seeking to resurrect the caliphate and destroy Israel and “the new crusaders.” The Telegraph reported that he said he found “much truth” in a remark saying Muslims are required to kill U.S. and British soldiers in Iraq, but debate has ensued about whether Ali was referring to that specific statement. Whatever the case, Ali’s views cannot be placed in the “moderate” category.

Another individual, Asim Hafeez, described as a “hardcore Salafi” by one of his colleagues, has been chosen as the head of intervention at the Office of Security and Counterterrorism. Mockbul Ali requested that the British government permit one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s top theologians, Sheikh Youself al-Qaradawi entry into the country and has been promoted to “Head of Prevent, Counter Ideology” at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He also used his position to try to get a visa for Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, a member of Bangladesh’s parliament, despite his statement that the U.K. and U.S. “deserve all that is coming to them” for forcibly removing the Taliban from power.

Mockbul Ali also serves as a member of the Foreign Office’s Engaging with the Islamic World Group and has been accused of promoting the Muslim Brotherhood. He “had a key role in coordinating seven Muslim taskforces set up by Tony Blair to tackle extremism in the wake of the July 7 bombings [of 2005].” Prior to his career in government service, he was an editor of a newspaper published by the Union of Muslim Students that praised a Palestinian female suicide bomber who killed two Israeli civilians in Jerusalem in March 2002.

The Department of Communities and Local Government is talking to the Muslim Council of Britain’s former secretary-general, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, about involving the group in the government’s efforts. This move came despite an earlier decision made by the British government earlier this year to end its relationship with the organization after its deputy director-general, Dr. Daud Abdullah, signed the Istanbul Declaration that called for Muslims to “carry on with the jihad and resistance against the occupier until the liberation of all Palestine,” meaning until Israel is destroyed. The declaration also called on Muslims to attack any foreign forces trying to stop the flow of people or arms to the Gaza Strip, where Hamas was facing an Israeli offensive. This meant that British naval forces involved in such efforts could be targeted.

The Centre for Social Cohesion reports that the British government has awarded $80,000 in taxpayer money to the Muslim Brotherhood to help fight extremism. The funding is going to the Muslim Welfare House, a member of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe, which the Centre says acts as the representative of Muslim Brotherhood on the continent. Three of the five directors of the Muslim Welfare House also served as directors of the Muslim Association of Britain, another Brotherhood affiliate, until 2007. The report says that one of those three directors has openly supported Hamas.

The British government has made the mistake of thinking such organizations are “moderate” just because their tactics are less dramatic than Al-Qaeda and they do not support attacking civilians, except for Israelis.

“Although the MB [Muslim Brotherhood] does not present a direct terrorist threat, it promotes an ideology which helped create modern jihadist terrorism and is fundamentally incompatible with western notions of statehood,” the Centre for Social Cohesion’s Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens writes.

Even extremists found guilty of engaging in terrorist acts are being given soft treatment by the British judicial system. Three senior judges ruled in July 2008 that “Care has to be taken to ensure that the sentence was not disproportionate to the facts of the particular offences. If sentences were imposed which were more severe than the circumstances of the particular case warranted, that would be likely to inflame rather than deter extremism.”

The judges’ political analysis of what causes extremism has therefore influenced policy and as a result, up to 30 “high-level” convicted terrorists are going to be released. This includes terrorists involved in a foiled suicide bombing plot in 2005 and two who called for acts of violence in retaliation for the publication of cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed in Denmark. The Sunday Times also found that “An analysis of the appeal court cases shows that of the 26 terrorism cases it has heard, 25 have led to men with terrorism convictions having their sentences reduced.”

The British government should realize that not all extremists follow Al-Qaeda’s methods, and embracing those who subscribe to the ideology of groups like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood is no solution to the problem of Islamic radicalism.

Sexual Mutilation Alleged in Philippines Massacre

The chief suspect in the killing of at least 57 people in the southern Philippines has turned himself in to local authorities.

Andal Ampatuan Jr, a local mayor and member of a powerful political clan in the Maguindanao province, says he surrendered to prove his innocence.

But Aljazeera later spoke to a man who said he was there when the killings happened, and he laid the blame squarely on Ampatuan Jr.

Andal Ampatuan - Wiki Pilipinas
Datu Andal Ampatuan, Sr. is the Governor of the province of Maguindanao and a former municipal mayor and vice mayor of Shariff Aguak. His son Zaldy is Regional Governor of ARMM, and his other sons are incumbent mayors in several towns in Maguindanao.

The honorable Datu Ampatuan is a prominent citizen of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Known as Governor Andy, he pursues local socio-economic development programs and peace and order concerns for his province.

Prior to his being a governor of Maguindanao, he served as three-term municipal mayor and one-term vice-mayor of the municipality of Shariff Aguak.

Sexual Mutilation Alleged in Philippines Massacre - NYTimes

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Authorities provided grim details Friday of the massacre in the southern Philippines that shocked the country this week, among them allegations that women among the 57 people killed may have been sexually mutilated.

Speaking on national television, Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera said “even the private parts of the women were shot at. It was horrible. It was not done to just one. It was done practically to all the women.”

Ms. Devanadera said that several of the men accused of participating in the slaughter have surrendered and offered to testify. “They are bothered by their conscience because they thought that only the Mangudadatus would be shot,” she said.

The 57 dead included 30 journalists and media workers, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines. The rest were the relatives, lawyers and supporters of Esmael Mangudadatu, a local politician, as well as 15 individuals who were not part of the Mangudadatu group. Investigators said the 15 were killed apparently to eliminate witnesses.

Their vehicles happened to be at the checkpoint along the highway in Ampatuan town, in Maguindanao Province, when the convoy of Mangudadatu supporters and journalists were stopped by police and militiamen loyal to the Ampatuans, the political clan that rules the province.

Ms. Devanadera said the zippers of the women’s pants had been undone, some of them pulled down. She said authorities were still trying to determine whether the women had been raped but “it is certain that something bad was done to them.”

Twenty-two of the victims were women, among them Mr. Mangudadatu’s wife Genalyn, his two sisters and his two lawyers.

At least one witness, according to Ms. Devanadera, told investigators that Andal Ampatuan Jr., the mayor of Datu Unsay town who is the primary suspect in the killings, was on the scene giving out commands but that it was not clear if Mr. Ampatuan himself fired a gun.

On Friday, Mr. Mangudadatu finally filed his certificate of candidacy to run for governor of Maguindanao Province, the act that he believes prompted Mr. Ampatuan — who is being groomed by his father Andal Sr. to succeed him as governor — to order the massacre.

“I had to do it. I owe it to my dear wife, to my family, to my supporters and to all those journalists who died while doing their job,” Mr. Mangudadatu said in a telephone interview on Friday.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been under intense pressure to pursue the killers. The Ampatuan family is her closest political ally in the southern Philippines. On Friday, she ordered Interior Secretary Reynaldo Puno to take direct control of the autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao, of which Maguindanao is part, and to suspend local, police and military officials if necessary to proceed with the investigation.

A military spokesman said on Friday that two ground commanders of the armed forces in Maguindanao had been relieved of their commands. The military on Thursday had taken control of the capital Shariff Aguak and other towns, a day after disarming dozens of militiamen employed by the Ampatuans.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, the largest media group in the country, urged the government on Friday to form a special court to try the suspects. “This is to help ensure that no whitewash will happen and to identify the roots and those responsible for this unimaginable crime,” said Nestor Burgos Jr., the group’s chairman.

New York Times

Swiss vote on proposal to ban minarets

The worry about Muslim boycotts is truly amazing - and it sends out one message - everything is expected from the West and nothing is expected from the Islamic world.

Do Christians/ westerners stop going to Egypt because the chief religious authority issues a fatwa saying that building churches is a sin and compared it to building a barn for dogs, cats and pigs. Maldives just passed a law to outlaw the building of Churches - it is extremely difficult or near impossible, if not impossible - to build churches or non-Muslim place of worship in most Muslim countries.

Is it racist - also to ask or suggest that Muslims build some churches - in the Islamic world?

GENEVA (AP)— The campaign posters are inflammatory: Minarets rising like missiles from the national flag.

A proposal championed by right-wing parties to ban minarets in Switzerland goes to a nationwide vote on Sunday in a referendum that has set off an emotional debate about national identity and stirred fears of boycotts and violent reactions from Muslim countries.

With tensions running high, the Geneva Mosque was vandalized Thursday by unidentified individuals who threw a pot of pink paint at the building's entrance.

It was the third incident against the mosque this month: earlier, a vehicle with a loudspeaker drove through the area imitating a muezzin's call to prayer, and vandals threw cobble stones at the building, damaging a mosaic.

Business leaders say a minaret ban would be disastrous for the Swiss economy because it could drive away wealthy Muslims who bank in Switzerland, buy the country's luxury goods, and frequent its resorts.

The vote taps into anxieties about Muslims that have been rippling through Europe in recent years, ranging from French fears of women in body veils to Dutch alarm over the murder by a Muslim fanatic of a filmmaker who made a documentary that criticized Islam.

Polls indicate growing support for the proposal submitted by the anti-immigrant Swiss People's Party, but it was doubtful it will gain enough momentum to pass. Muslims in Switzerland have kept a low profile, refraining from a counter-campaign.

"Switzerland's good reputation as an open, tolerant and secure country may be lost and this would bring a blow to tourism," said Swiss Hotel Association spokesman Thomas Allemann.

The nationalist Swiss People's Party has led several campaigns against foreigners, including a proposal to kick out entire families of foreigners if one of their children breaks a law and a bid to subject citizenship applications to a popular vote.

The party's controversial posters have shown three white sheep kicking out a black sheep and a swarm of brown hands grabbing Swiss passports from a box.

The current campaign posters showing missile-like minarets atop the national flag and a fully veiled woman have drawn anger of local officials and rights defenders.

The cities of Basel, Lausanne and Fribourg banned the billboards, saying they painted a "racist, disrespectful and dangerous image" of Islam.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee called the posters discriminatory and said Switzerland would violate international law if it bans minarets.

The Swiss People's Party joined forces with the fringe Federal Democratic Union in the campaign. They say they are acting to fight the spread of political Islam, arguing the minaret represents a bid for power and is not just a religious symbol.

The four minarets already attached to mosques in the country would remain even if the referendum passes. Minarets are typically built next to mosques for religious leaders to call the faithful to prayer, but they are not used for that in Switzerland.

Construction of traditional mosques and minarets in European countries has rarely been trouble-free: projects in Sweden, France, Italy, Austria, Greece, Germany and Slovenia have met protests but have rarely been blocked.

In Cologne, Germany, plans to expand the city's Ditib Mosque and complete it with a dome and two 177-foot-tall minarets have triggered an outcry from right-wing groups and the city's Roman Catholic archbishop.

People's Party lawmaker Walter Wobmann said minarets are part of Muslims' strategy to make Switzerland Islamic. He said he feared Shariah law, which would create "parallel societies" where honor killings, forced marriages and even stoning are practiced.

Organizers collected more than the 100,000 signatures required for any Swiss citizen to put a constitutional initiative to a nationwide vote.

The government has urged voters to reject the initiative, saying it would violate religious freedom. Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has warned it would lead to a security risk for Switzerland; other members of the multiparty government have spoken out against the proposal.

Between 350,000 and 400,000 of Switzerland's 7.5 million people are Muslims. Many are from families who came to Switzerland as refugees from former Yugoslavia during the 1990s.

Less than 13 percent of the Muslims living in the Alpine nation are practicing and most are well integrated, said Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf. She said initiative would "endanger religious peace in our country."

A survey by the respected polling institute gfs.bern last week indicated that 53 percent of voters reject the initiative, although support has grown by 3 percentage points to 37 percent since last month. Typically in Switzerland the margins on such votes narrows as balloting nears. Ten percent of the 1,213 people polled were undecided. The survey had an error margin of 2.9 percent.

"The problem is not so much the minarets, but rather what they represent," said Madeleine Trincat, a retiree from Geneva. "After the minarets, the muezzins will come, then they'll ask us to wear veils and so on."

Carlo Adler, the director of a luxury jewelry shop in Geneva, called the initiative xenophobic.

"I don't see why they should be banned," he said about minarets. "We might as well take off the spires from churches."

The Swiss business organization economiesuisse said it fears a minaret ban would harm Switzerland's image in the Islamic world. The exporting nation sold goods of around 14.5 billion Swiss francs (about $14 billion) to Muslim countries last year, according to economiesuisse.

Peter Spuhler, the head of Swiss Stadler Rail Group, a train and tramway exporting company with markets in Muslim countries, said, "reactions can be very emotional and fierce" if the initiative is accepted.

"This can lead to boycotts," he told weekly SonntagsZeitung.

UK: School inspector's 'Islamist group links'

The article cites the UK school inspector Michele Messaoudi - asked to submit a report on the progress of the two Islamic schools thought linked to Hizb ut Tahrir - is herself linked to the Islam Channel - which has close ties with the same group. [Hizb ut Tahrir is an Islamic organisation which is calling for the overturn of democracy and the installation of a global Islamic state or Caliphate] - the UK's Islam Channel is also - where Obama's religious adviser Dalia Mogahed appeared on a TV show hosted by a Hizb ut Tahrir spokesperson - when she stated Sharia law was misunderstood.

Title: My Mum is a Wonder
ISBN: 0860372987
Author: Michele Messaoudi
Publisher: Islamic Foundation (UK)
Pages: 28 Binding: Hardback

Description from the publisher:
8"x8" A young boy's lively account of his mother's wonderful brings into full view the joy of Muslim family life.

An Ofsted inspection report cited by the Schools Secretary Ed Balls as clearing a school with alleged links to Muslim extremism was written by an inspector with links to Islamist groups, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

The school in Haringey, and a sister school in Slough, was paid £113,000 last year by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. The schools are owned by the Shakhsiyah Foundation, run at the time of the grant by members of the extremist group Hizb ut Tahrir.

The Tory leader David Cameron this week attacked the use of public money to “fund extremism”. But the Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, said the schools inspectorate, Ofsted, had “satisfied themselves that there were no problems” in the schools, accusing Mr Cameron of peddling “smears and untruths” which “divide our communities.”

However, the first report on the Haringey school, in November 2007, said not enough was being done “to promote cultural tolerance and harmony”.

In a second report in May 2008, the inspector, Michele Messaoudi, said “satisfactory progress” had been made.

An Ofsted spokesman said: “The second inspection was specifically designed as a follow up to ensure that the school had undertaken the improvements required as a result of our first inspection. The report reflects that such action had been taken.

“Michele Messaoudi is a respected and experienced professional and we have no reason to doubt her ability in conducting this inspection.”

The Daily Telegraph has learned that Ms Messaoudi has links with Islamic organisations and events. Last year, she was a judge for the Global Peace and Unity awards in London. The awards and the associated conference, which Ofsted said Ms Messaoudi did not attend, are organised by the Islam Channel, whose chief executive, Mohammed Ali Harrath, is wanted by Interpol for alleged terrorist offences.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dutch more Worried about their Culture than Economy


Which is why Wilders is so popular - traditional Dutch values are being forcibly replaced with Islamization and long held rights and freedoms are being curtailed - in favor of the restrictions based on Sharia law.

THE HAGUE, 27/11/09 - The Dutch are more worried about their culture than about the economy. They are also much more worried about ordinary crime than about terrorism, according to a survey by the National Anti-terrorism Coordinator (NCTB) for the Government Information Service (RVD).

Respondents were allowed to say spontaneously what causes them the most concern at the moment. The loss of (Dutch) standards and values emerged as of greatest concern (18 percent). This was followed by joblessness/employment (13 percent) and safety on the street (13 percent).

Only 1 percent named terrorism and terrorist attacks. This was also the case in 2008. On the other hand, 6 percent now say [Islamic] radicalisation is their greatest worry, where last year apparently nobody gave this answer (0 percent).

Also remarkable is the fact that the Dutch were most concerned about the economy (41 percent) last year, but that this worry is now no longer among the top three. The survey also showed that the Dutch have become more fearful in public transport; 35 percent said they sometimes or often feel unsafe in buses, trains or metros, compared with 27 percent in 2008.


Dutch Gov. Reaches Out to Islamists, Says Muslim Women Allowed to Refuse Male Doctor

What's next for Holland Muslim men refusing to be seen by female doctors?

France quite sensibly put its foot down on this issue.

THE HAGUE, 24/11/09 - Muslim women are allowed to refuse treatment given by a male doctor. Only in emergency cases do they not have this choice, Health Minister Ab Klink has said in a letter to parliament.

Klink says it "regularly" happens that patients ask for another medical carer. Usually this is because they want a male doctor and sometimes because the patient does not like the doctor's religious conviction, origin or age.

If the patient indicates timely that they only want a woman doctor, this should be possible. In acute cases, it is reasonable that a patient should accept the available doctor. Should patients opt for someone else anyway, the costs will be charged to them.

The Party for Freedom (PVV) had asked questions about a Muslim woman who did not want to have a male doctor attending her while giving birth. That a woman should refuse a doctor in an acute situation like giving birth seldom occurs, according to Klink.

NIS, Vlad Tepes

Poirot actor David Suchet: 'Christianity is being marginalised in Britain'

The 63-year-old, most famous for playing the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, said Britain risks losing the importance of Christianity in our multi- cultural society.

Suchet, who has played the Agatha Christie character on ITV for 21 years, was confirmed as a Christian about two years ago.

In an interview for Woman’s Weekly magazine, he said: “I do feel that Christianity is being marginalised by other religions in Britain.

“I won't tell you the name of it, but a charity I work for got turned down for Government funding recently, because it was a Christian charity, even though it had been funded by the Government for several years.

“Don't misunderstand me. We should embrace all religions and marginalise none. But we seem more concerned with marginalising Christianity, and not offending other faiths.
“We are in danger of losing the importance of the Christian faith in our own country.”

Suchet has just voiced an audio book called The Jesus Storybook Bible and has spoken before about finding religion.

In an interview earlier this year, the married father of two talked about a turning point in his life in New York 20 years ago.

He said: “I was lying in a bath in my hotel, thinking about my grandfather. And I remember thinking ‘Isn't it interesting that I feel my grandfather is with me and yet I don't believe in an afterlife?’

“So I went straight out and bought a Bible and read St Paul's letter to the Romans. He describes how to be as a Christian, and it slotted right into what I had been searching for: something beyond, something quite mystical, but also a way of being that I could relate to.”

Suchet is to return as Poirot in a television adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express. Filming has already begun with a cast including Dame Eileen Atkins, Samuel West, Hugh Bonneville and Barbara Hershey.

Earlier this year the Archbishop of Canterbury said it was “depressing” that an academic report claimed Christianity was being sidelined in Britain because Labour is concentrating on minority religions such as Islam.

Dr Rowan Williams complained to Mark Thompson, director-general of the BBC, about the decline of religious content on television and radio.



British UKIP party to target Islamic fundamentalism with leadership election

The UK Independence Party is set to head in a fresh direction, fighting radical Islam, with the election today of a replacement for Nigel Farage as its national leader.

The two favourites to take over from Mr Farage are committed to adding the battle against Islamic fundamentalism to the party’s main goal of withdrawing Britain from the European Union.

Mr Farage resisted strong grassroots pressure during his three-year leadership to broaden UKIP’s focus to include actively campaigning against Islamism and immigration. But both Lord Pearson of Rannoch and the London MEP Gerard Batten — the two front-runners in a field of five candidates — say that they are determined to target Islamic fundamentalism.

The other three candidates are Mike Nattrass and Nikki Sinclaire, both MEPs, and Alan Wood, a councillor from Wiltshire and a senior party insider.

The result of the ballot of UKIP’s 16,500 members will to be announced today. Lord Pearson, 67, an Eton-educated self-made millionaire, was endorsed by Mr Farage as his only “serious” successor this month. Mr Batten called the endorsement an “insult” to the other challengers.

Lord Pearson invited the anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders to the House of Lords in February only for Jacqui Smith, then the Home Secretary, to issue a banning order so that Mr Wilders was turned away at Heathrow. The Dutchman travelled to Britain in October after overturning the ban.

Lord Pearson’s own outspoken views about Islam were recorded in Washington DC last month. Asked how much time Britain had before losing control of its cultural identity he said: “What is going to decide the answer to that is the birthrate. The fact that Muslims are breeding ten times faster than us. I do not know at what point they reach such a number that we are no longer able to resist the rest of their demands . . . but if we do not do something now within the next year or two we have in effect lost.”

He later insisted that his remark was directed at Islamists. “One is talking about the violent end of the spectrum,” he said.

Mr Batten, 55, has also invited Mr Wilders to speaking engagements and has called the Dutch politician “a brave man trying to defend western civilisation”. This year, writing in the magazine Freedom Today, Mr Batten addressed the notion of the confrontation of Islamism and the West. “It is a clash between civilisation and barbarism. It is a clash between everything that has made the modern world what it is and an ideology that wants to enslave us to a belief system that belongs in seventh-century Arabia and which was primitive and backward even then.”

Ms Sinclaire, 41, a newly elected MEP, has campaigned strongly and is regarded as having an outside chance of taking the leadership. Her main aim is to professionalise UKIP and organise a Shadow Cabinet to extend its appeal.

Mr Nattrass, 63, an MEP for the West Midlands since 2004, believes that UKIP’s main focus should be on winning votes in the next general election but has largely been absent during the campaign due to an illness in the family. Mr Wood is well known within UKIP as its nominating officer.

A UKIP source said that if Lord Pearson or Mr Batten were elected “You are going to see quite a lot stronger position from us. Nigel has always been afraid of the Islam thing backfiring. But the BNP are taking ownership of issues that have not been addressed by Labour, the Conservatives or the Lib Dems and they need addressing.”

UKIP to target Islamic fundamentalism with leadership election - Times Online

Thailand seeks U.S. help battling insurgents

It seems Amnesty Internationals's solutions is that Thailand's South continue to be ravaged by Islamic jihadists - that the US should not offer their assistance because - some members of these jihadist groups claimed to have been tortured. What would Amnesty's solution be if these Islamic rebels managed to bring their assault up to Bangkok.

BANGKOK - Thailand's military wants the U.S. to provide satellite equipment and imagery so it can hunt thousands of Islamist separatists who are killing Thai troops and civilians in an attempt to establish a strict Muslim state in the south.

About 30,000 soldiers are fighting against 8,000 insurgents and their supporters, including about 2,000 armed rebels, said Lt. Gen. Pichet Wisaijorn, the Royal Thai Army chief in the southern region.

An estimated 3,700 people on all sides have perished during the past five years in Thailand's three Muslim-majority southern provinces.

Much of the southern war is fueled by Muslim Thais who say they are fighting for a separate homeland autonomous from the Buddhist-majority nation.

Asked in a recent interview what help Thailand's military would like America to provide, Gen. Pichet replied:

"What I would really like now is a satellite that would focus on [insurgent] activity 24 hours a day. I would love to be able to look at a screen to see who is laying the land mines."

Gen. Pichet is the 4th Army regional commander. He also commanded Thai troops in East Timor in 2000.

He said his superiors had asked the U.S. for satellite reconnaissance assistance but that nothing had been arranged thus far.

The State Department declined to comment.

Gen. Pichet said satellite imagery is being sought from the U.S. "because I know that they are good at this kind of technology."

Roadside bombs and other hidden explosives have become weapons of choice for rebels, who target Thai troops, Buddhist businessmen, teachers, monks, officials and rubber-plantation workers.

The Islamist insurgents also kill Muslims whom they perceive as government collaborators.

The military's crackdowns have resulted in some successes against the rebels, but they also have killed innocent civilians.

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused Thai military forces in the south or "torturing" suspects, often at Buddhist temples that its troops have commandeered.

Amnesty claims that temple grounds also have been used for barracks and to hold strategy meetings.

Insurgents have infested three provinces in southern Thailand - Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala - that are mostly jungle-clad hills dotted by 2,000 villages and laced by narrow, isolated roads.

The vulnerable roads lead to larger towns and to fishing villages.

The region also borders Muslim-majority Malaysia to the south, a nation that has become increasingly strict in efforts to impose aspects of Shariah law on its population. For example, Malaysia has outlawed use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims when referring to God, and it has confiscated thousands of Bibles in which "Allah" appears in the text.

Accusations of human rights abuses by Thai troops in their battle with insurgents threaten to complicate any bid for U.S. military aid.

"One of the most disturbing aspects of the use of that torture was that a lot of it was taking place in the Buddhist temples, where special task forces and other parts of the security forces are actually based," said Benjamin Zawacki, a South Asia researcher for Amnesty International.

Mr. Zawacki - a lawyer who moved from Washington to be based in Thailand for Amnesty International - made the remarks in a separate interview.

He said Amnesty International did not have any independent "forensic evidence" of torture and based its reports mostly on the testimony of detainees.

During 2007-08, Amnesty interviewed about 50 people in the south who claimed the security forces had tortured them, including about 10 people who claimed their torture occurred at Buddhist temples, Mr. Zawacki said.

"The most common is the use of plastic bags over the head to simulate, or simply to cause, suffocation - not to the point of death, of course, but to simulate the feeling of suffocation.

"Electric shock, both to the feet and to the genitalia, and beatings which would rise ... to the level of torture" also occurred at the Buddhist temples, he said.

"The fact that it is a religious institution, a religious establishment, is not causing the security forces to hesitate or to think twice about these sorts of clearly illegal and immoral acts," Mr. Zawacki said.

Amnesty International also condemned torture and other atrocities, including beheadings, frequently committed by the insurgents.

Washington should heed "the Leahy Law," named after Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, "that basically conditions U.S. military assistance to foreign governments on compliance with human rights standards," Mr. Zawacki said.

"First enacted in 1997, the Leahy Law is an essential tool for protecting human rights," said a statement on Mr. Leahy's Web site.

Gen. Pichet said he has received no indications of torture or serious rights abuses taking place in temples.

"If it is a normal 'asking of questions,' that can take place in the temple," Gen. Pichet said. "A normal chat, a normal asking for information. But not serious interrogations.

"The kind of questioning we are talking about is the kind that can take place any place on the side of the road. These are not people we believe are guilty of serious intentions," Gen. Pichet said.

Thailand seeks U.S. help battling insurgents - Washington Times