Thursday, 30 April 2009
by Ares Demertzis (May 2009)
It was evening, the prelude to that dreaded, protracted obscurity of seemingly endless night. The sky was handsomely streaked with crimson and indigo, amber and violet, vermilion and fuchsia, reproducing those alluring, decorative colors of autumn that celebrate incipient death. To the east, a snow capped Mount Lebanon thrust a silvery, humped silhouette into the darkening cerulean sky. Orange city lights flickered reluctantly to life along the Corniche, which fell abruptly into the wine dark sea of the Mediterranean. Frothing waves crashed against the promontory, spraying a scent of primeval iodine and salt. more>>>
Posted on 04/30/2009 6:38 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 April 2009
Pirate Radio - Teenage Memories
by Esmerelda Weatherwax (May 2009)
The teenager and I went to see "The Boat That Rocked" over the Easter holiday.
I was disappointed that the film was not quite as good as it should have been on the subject matter, and thus has not been the success it could have been considering the cast. But the soundtrack was excellent. more>>>
Posted on 04/30/2009 6:35 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 April 2009
Islamic Reform: Holy Grail or Poisoned Chalice (Part II)
by Mary Jackson (May 2009)
I concluded Part I of this article (February 2009) by admitting that Islamic reform seemed like a lost cause. To be sure, my piece focused on what will not work: a pretty face (male or female), a pleasant personality in the case of spiky-haired Irshad Manji, or a plausible one in the case of the British Government’s Great Hope Ed Husain. Their approach, and that of too many Islamic reformers, is to sweeten Islam for the modern, Western palate. Whether or not they intend to deceive hardly matters. Adding the world “lightly” in a translation of the Koranic verse (4:34) enjoining the beating of “disobedient” wives does nothing to soften the blow for millions of Muslim women whose husbands know the truth. “Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them” stubbornly refuses to turn into “Give peace a chance.” The Koran says what it says, and is believed to be the unchanging, infallible word of God. Mohammed did what he did, and is believed to be the perfect man. Try as he might, can a reformer make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? In this second of three articles, I consider how such a task might be attempted. Attempted is the operative word – I offer no guarantee of success. more>>>
Posted on 04/30/2009 6:31 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 April 2009
The Auschwitz and Iran Bombing Controversies: Are There Parallels?
by Jerry Gordon (May 2009)
On September 9, 2003, a squadron of Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-15’s flew over Auschwitz in southern Poland directly from Israel. The squadron flew the ‘missing man’ formation symbolic of the Six Million European Jewish men, women and children murdered in unspeakable ways by the Nazi death camp machinery in the Final Solution, the Holocaust, or Shoah. An Agence France Presse report noted:
The F-15s, emblazoned with the Star of David, were piloted by the sons or grandsons of Holocaust victims who perished in Poland, according to the Israeli ambassador to Warsaw.
An Israeli air force statement said that as the jets flew low across the sky the pilot leading the squadron, General Amir Eshel, said: "We pilots of the air force, in the skies over these camps of shame, have risen from the ashes of millions of victims. We are the voice for their silent calls. We salute their heroism and promise to be the shield of the Israeli homeland." more>>>
Posted on 04/30/2009 6:27 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 April 2009
Great Danes in Exile, Part 2 ? Victor Borge, Clown Prince of Denmark
by Norman Berdichevsky (May 2009)
The most well known, beloved and popular entertainer to combine humor and music was the Danish-American pianist Victor Borge who enchanted and delighted American and world audiences for three generations from the time of his arrival in the United States as a refugee fleeing German occupied Denmark in 1940 until his death in 2000. Known as The Clown Prince of Denmark, he drew upon the tradition of gentle and ironic satire used by another great Dane, Hans Christian Andersen. more>>>
Posted on 04/30/2009 6:23 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 April 2009
Arab Israelis: A Preview of Coming Attractions
by Rebecca Bynum (May 2009)
Arabs in Israel: Friends or Foes?
by Raphael Israeli
Published in Hebrew in 2002, English translation, 2008
“We're here today to say our mosques are off limits," Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations for Greater Los Angeles, told the crowd last month at an Anaheim mosque.
"We goofed up, guys," said Shakeel Syed, head of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California. "We brought them [the FBI] here. We brought them to our mosques, to our meetings. . . . We have to hold ourselves responsible. That's why it's so important to dig our heels into the ground and say we're not going to take this lying down, we're going to fight." more>>>
Posted on 04/30/2009 6:19 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 April 2009
Sir Walter Scott, Jews and Saracens, and Other Sundry Subjects
by Ibn Warraq (May 2009)
Edward Said, the late Professor of Comparative Literature at Columbia University, has, in his influential Orientalism, a characteristically shallow, sneering aside on Sir Walter Scott, and, in particular, on his novel, The Talisman:
“In Scott’s novel The Talisman (1825), Sir Kenneth (of the Crouching Leopard) battles a single Saracen to a standoff somewhere in the Palestinian desert; as the Crusader and his opponent, who is Saladin in disguise, later engage in conversation, the Christian discovers his Muslim antagonist to be not so bad a fellow after all. Yet he remarks:
‘I well thought…that your blinded race had their descent
from the foul fiend, without whose aid you would never
have been able to maintain this blessed land of Palestine
against so many valiant soldiers of God. I speak not thus
of thee in particular, Saracen, but generally of thy people
and religion. Strange is it to me, however, not that you
should have the descent from the Evil One, but that you
Posted on 04/30/2009 6:16 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 April 2009
Also Sprach Obama
by Hugh Fitzgerald (May 2009)
Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy do not see eye-to-eye on Turkey. Sarkozy does not want Turkey admitted to the E.U. Nor does Angela Merkel. Nor do the leaders of Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, or Great Britain. Nor, one suspects, does any leader in any of the member-states of the E.U. What about their citizens? They, too, seem distinctly unenthusiastic about admitting, as what would be the most populous member of the E.U., a country that is not only 99% Muslim, but that is becoming less Kemalist, and more truly Muslim, every day. more>>>
Posted on 04/30/2009 6:13 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 April 2009
Poisoned By Celebrity
by Theodore Dalrymple (May 2009)
Can someone who appears to have been born without a moral sense, or never to have developed one, properly be called ‘evil,’ or even ‘bad?’
For when we evaluate people and classify them morally, as inevitably we do, whatever those who claim to hate the sinner but love the sin may say, we assume that they are moral agents, able to behave differently from how they actually do behave. more>>>
Posted on 04/30/2009 6:10 PM by NER
Thursday, 30 April 2009
Scare Flu spreads from tabloids to the broadsheets
Few crumbs of comfort from Newsbiscuit:
Scientists have confirmed that Scare Flu has now spread from the red top newspapers to the so-called ‘quality press’ which was thought to be more resistant to alarmist reporting. Doctors have warned that the ongoing outbreak of stories in the media about Scare Flu has now reached pandemic proportions. Fears are growing that the lethal infection may spread throughout the country, potentially causing mass panic on a scale not seen since a Scottish swan was supposed to have died from Bird Flu.
The outbreak began a few days ago with a few localised and moderate stories in the broadsheets about deaths in Mexico. Since then, it has spread with astonishing speed, infecting not only the newspapers but also the 24-hour news channels and the internet. ‘What is worrying us most is not just the speed of the epidemic but the way the scare story is mutating,’ said Dr Sean Russell, a specialist in viral media at Kings College Hospital in London. ‘One strain in the mid-market tabloids seems to be causing house prices to fall and illegal immigrants to pour into Britain. Another has caught on via websites, causing thousands of unfunny puns about ‘being pig sick’, putting ‘oinkment’ on or ‘coming out in a nasty rasher’. It is desperately worrying.’
Symptoms of Scare Flu panic vary but they typically include talking in an unnaturally sombre voice, excessive hyperbole and severe restrictions on the ability to process information rationally. Many victims have also suffered severe memory loss; completely forgetting that every other pandemic panic from the Ebola virus to Bird Flu has never amounted to anything and that cancer and heart disease are far more likely to kill them.
Doctors are advising people to be very worried about this new strain of flu for a week or so, after which it is probably safe to start panicking about stabbings, terrorism or global warming instead.
Posted on 04/30/2009 12:22 PM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 30 April 2009
You Know Your Paper's In Trouble When...
The commenters are consistently more knowledgable and are better writers than your editorial staff. Here is an example of the level of opinion writing offered at what was once a respected regional newspaper written by Saritha Prabhu who, like columnist Gail Kerr, seems to have barely graduated high school, but was nevertheless hired for the sake of diversity to be The Tennessean's Muslim voice. Prabhu writes:
Some of the weakest links in our political discourse here, I find, are U.S. policy toward Israel and the Israel-Palestine issue.
Sometimes it feels like the only views you're allowed to have and express on this are: that we are friends and allies of Israel, that the Palestinians are mostly terrorists, and that we should support Israel, come what may.
As Barack Obama — the candidate — Jimmy Carter and others have found, if you voice sympathy for Palestinian suffering or pass critical remarks toward Israel, you are likely to be labeled an enemy of Israel or worse.
Commenter Jumbos: Same propaganda, different writer. And plenty dumbed down to fit the profile of The Tennessean.
If you're going to be critical of American support of Israel, at least learn the history. The United States' support of Israel has not been unconditional. The Israelis have actually shown amazing restraint at times. They returned the Sinai to Egypt after winning it while defending themselves in a war started by the Arabs. They absorbed Scud Missle attacks during the first Gulf War while not retaliating at the Bush administration's behest. Israel came to the table in 1999 ready for a lasting peace deal; Arafat refused.
More recently, we had the egregious instance where Charles Freeman, a respected public servant, had to withdraw his nomination for a top intelligence post because political heavyweights and advocacy groups successfully lobbied against him. His crime? That he, among other things, had said critical — and true — things about Israel.
Commenter doc1031: Right about here is where a real journalist..or commentator..or a drunk at the gold rush would site at least one example.
Commenter nosharia: Let's look at some facts here. Obama was going to appoint this man to one of the most sensitive intelligence spots in the US government. Freeman, a former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and senior envoy to China, was the president of the nonprofit Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), an organization with “close ties to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” In a 2006 interview, Freeman explained that MEPC had received a $1 million endowment, thanks to “the generosity of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia.” The following year, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud gave another $1 million to MEPC. (Alwaleed’s offer of money to New York City after 9/11 was famously turned down by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.) Let's see.....what else...if that isn't enough.....Freeman also had business connections to the BinLaden family....let's see..what else....a quote from Freeman..."The connection between Islam and suicide bombing is a false connection." Also,
Freeman’s close working relationship with the Chinese government seems to have influenced his political views – so much so that, in a 2006 internet post that is only now receiving media scrutiny, Freeman criticized the Chinese authorities for not moving swiftly enough to crush democratic protestors and dissidents assembled in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Now there's a guy I want to have in the white house handling top secret intelligence!
All this is, of course, because so many in the political, media, intellectual and entertainment elite in this country have ties to Israel.And there are also powerful advocacy groups who exert influence with the policy-makers. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and there is a powerful Israel lobby. Maybe not a monolithic one, but one nevertheless.
Note to editors: right after Prabhu's "Jews control America" line she misuses the the snide and overused "Yes, Virginia."
Last summer, when there was much talk of flag pins, patriotism and such, I couldn't help thinking: If you advocate for another country's (Israel's) interests, and if those interests are sometimes detrimental to those of your own country, can you be considered patriotic? Obviously not.
Supporting Israel is in America's interest. It is those who advocate abandoning the only true democracy in the Middle East who don't have America's best interests at heart.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. But in this land of free thought and expression, it is sometimes strange to see lockstep thinking almost enforced in this issue.
The Muslim Brotherhood constantly promotes the idea of Jewish conspiracies forcefully shaping public opinion. Ms. Prabhu must have received the memo.
And this is not a call to withdraw support toward Israel, but to re-evaluate it, and to have an honest debate about our largely uncritical support of that country.
If we had a debate, we would start by saying that our support of Israel has cost us immensely, both financially and in other ways.
Commenter nosharia: Of course, you aren't anti-semitic. That would be something to accuse a Nazi of. You're only antt-zionist...which of course is the new "word" for anti-semitism. The Arab countries are attacking Israel because it is a country of infidels of the worst kind...Jews...
The war against Israel is the same as the other 44 wars in the world being waged by Islamic jihadists. The political ideology of Islam calls for the submission of all non-Islamic cultures and religions. It the "useful idiots" like you that the jihadists use to beat us from within.
Down the decades, it has been the biggest recipient of U.S. foreign aid (more than $ 130 billion). Some of our taxpayer-funded aid has gone toward Israeli bombs that have blown Palestinian women and children to smithereens. Of course, I can't say this without adding that Hamas and Hezbollah rockets and suicide bombs have, likewise, killed Israelis, though on a smaller scale.
She neglects to mention that if Hamas and Hezbollah could kill more Israelis, they would, whereas Israel could easily wipe the Palestinian Arabs off the map if they wanted to, but don't. There is no moral equivalence here.
Also, our support has earned us the wrath of those lovable Islamic fundamentalists the world over.
Right, if we would just stop supporting Israel, Muslims would lay down their arms. Everybody knows that.
But as I wrote last week, there are shades of gray in every issue, and those shades exist in this, too. Both Israel and Palestine are tainted, both have blood on their hands, both Israel and Palestine (the Hamas faction) have been intransigent.
This is cute. The democratically elected government of Israel is equivalent to a terrorist organization. It's a shades of gray thing.
As I've said before when writing on such matters, my perspective is that of an interested, informed observer. And one of the things I've observed is the striking difference in perspective on this among native-born Americans and others.
Errata sheet: for "interested and informed observer," read: "uninformed propagandist interested in promoting the Muslim Brotherhood's party line."
Anecdotally, in passing conversations through the years with non-Americans and non-native-born Americans, what has come through is this: that the formation of Israel in 1948 was an injustice to the Palestinians; that this issue has more often been framed by those with might, who aren't necessarily in the right; that the historically oppressed Israeli Jews have, sadly, now become oppressors; that religion, regrettably, might lie at the heart of U.S. foreign policy in this matter.
Notice how she cannot say native born Americans believe that Jews are Nazis, only non-Americans and non-native-born Americans. Which means what? That in her converstations with other Muslims, they all think Jews are Nazis? I believe that.
And now we have a new, hard-line government in Israel, which says it might bomb Iran by year's end if the latter doesn't halt its nuclear ambitions. It will be interesting to see how President Obama handles this.
Meaning, she hopes Obama will use the excuse to cut off US aid to Israel, which he probably will.
Our addiction to foreign oil has cost us. And our mostly unconditional support of Israel in the past has cost us, too. We'll have to wean ourselves off the former and re-evaluate the latter if we want a safer, better world for ourselves.
Does she mean to say that since we import oil from the Middle East and Israel is located in the Middle East that we are "addicted to Israel"? Any journalism professor in the country would have a red pencil all over this. But here she is, Ms. Saritha Prabhu, working as a columnist at The Tennessean. Also see Steven J. Edelstein, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Nashville's response here. The comments section on this piece shows the paper is fully prepared to leave blatantly antisemitic comments up.
From commenter gymtonic: A neocon; someone with a head in Israel, a body in the United States, and a neck that needs stretching.
Posted on 04/30/2009 10:22 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 30 April 2009
4 killed in assassination attempt on Queen Beatrice of the Netherlands
From Dutch News
Four people were killed and 13 injured, five seriously, when a black car drove through barricades and headed for a bus carrying the royal family during the Queen's Day celebrations in Apeldoorn.
The car veered away from the open bus carrying queen Beatrix, crown prince Willem-Alexander and other members of the royal family and ploughed into a obelix, known locally as the needle.
Police said the driver, who was seriously injured, is a 38-year-old white Dutch national. The attack appeared to be deliberate, police said at a news conference on Thursday afternoon. However, there is no indication that the driver acted together with any people or that there is any terrorist motive for the attack. How do they know that yet?
Police said the man was not known to the police nor was he believed to have contact with the mental health services. But 'the initial contact' with the man before he was cut out of the car indicated this was a 'deliberate act', police said.
The festivities in Apeldoorn, which should have included a traditional file past, were immediately cancelled.
As usual the Daily Mail has the most pictures here.
Posted on 04/30/2009 10:46 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 30 April 2009
Nashville: Muslim Wins Religious Discrimination Suit
The Tennessean has an update on this story. From Southern Hills' point of view, this employee had 20 days coming to him, but requested 40. He used the EEOC to sue on his behalf on religious grounds and won. Would the EEOC taken the case had it been a Catholic wanting to go to Lourdes? I wonder. And why couldn't he have made it back in twenty days? Or why couldn't he have waited another year or two when he would have had the accumulated time? Why exactly is this a case of religious discrimination? If they hire more Muslims, do they now have to give them as much time as they want off anytime they claim to be going on the hajj? (Thanks to Rosine):
Southern Hills Medical Center in Nashville has agreed to pay a former employee $70,000 in damages after denying him time off to make a pilgrimage to Mecca but admitted no wrongdoing when it settled the religious discrimination case on Monday.
In late 2007, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit on behalf of Wali Telwar, a Muslim former Southern Hills medical technician who lives in Nashville.
The hospital refused to allow Telwar to use just over 20 days of accumulated vacation time to take a trip to Mecca. Every Muslim is required to make the hajj — a pilgrimage to the Saudi Arabian birthplace of the Islamic religion and its prophet — in their lifetime.
Telwar, who had worked at the hospital for three years, also claimed he was told that if he insisted on attending the hajj he would have to quit his job and reapply when he returned.
Telwar resigned, according to the suit. When he returned, Southern Hills did not rehire him. The hospital hired three other medical technicians.
Southern Hills released a statement from CEO Tom Ozburn late Wednesday:
"As noted in the consent decree, we deny that we discriminated in any way against Mr. Telwar," Ozburn said in the statement. "We have reached a settlement with the EEOC to close this matter...
Posted on 04/30/2009 9:49 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 30 April 2009
FBI Responds To CAIR
From the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report:
U.S. media has reported on the FBI reaction to a threat by the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood to suspend outreach efforts with the FBI by saying that the agency would avoid “formally constructed partnerships” with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). According to the CNN report:
The FBI declined to comment on specific allegations but called the proposed move unproductive. “Limiting honest dialogue, especially when complex issues are on the table, is generally not an effective advocacy strategy,” spokesman John Miller said in a statement. “The FBI has continued our outreach efforts, across the board, with a number of concerned groups and where we agree — or disagree — most have concluded the best results are achieved through continued conversation. We believe that, too.”…..The FBI’s Miller declined to comment on specifics, but said the FBI wants to avoid “formally constructed partnerships” with CAIR. “Our concerns relate to a number of distinct narrow issues specific to CAIR and its national leadership,” Miller said. Before the FBI severed formal ties, CAIR officials had met with the FBI to discuss hate crimes targeting Muslims. On occasion, CAIR offered assistance in investigations. The group also held training sessions for FBI agents on Islamic culture and ways to improve interactions with the Muslim community.
As previous posts have discussed, the Brotherhood threat, issued by a coalition of U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organizations known as the The American Muslim Taskforce (AMT), was based partly on recent revelations that an undercover FBI informant was used in Southern California mosques as part of an FBI operation that resulted in the arrest of a brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard on charges of lying about his ties to terrorist groups on his citizenship and passport applications. The AMT statement also mentioned the recent FBI decision to disengage with CAIR on the basis of CAIR’s origins in the Hamas infrastructure in the U.S.
A report recently issued by the Hudson Institute discusses the origins of CAIR and its founders/leaders in both the Palestine Committee of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and the U.S. Hamas support infrastructure. A previous post discussed an interview with the Deputy leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in which he confirms a relationship between his organization and CAIR. Investigative research posted on GMBDR had determined that CAIR has a long history of support for fundamentalism, anti-Semitism, and terrorism.
Posted on 04/30/2009 8:54 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 30 April 2009
Brown defeated over Gurkhas
I agree with Esmerelda that, considering the scum we let into this country, many of whom actively wish us harm, the Government's treatment of the Gurkhas has been despicable. Despicable, but not surprising. Now Gordon Brown has suffered a humiliating defeat - let's hope there will be many more. From The Telegraph:
In a significant blow to the Prime Minister's already fragile authority, MPs voted for a motion calling for the scrapping of new immigration rules that would prevent many Gurkhas coming to live in the country they served.
With the backing of Labour rebels and the Conservative Party, a Liberal Democrat motion demanding the admission of all Gurkha veterans and their families was passed by 267 to 241.
In all, 27 Labour MPs voted with the Opposition, and dozens more abstained, defying orders to support the Government. One ministerial aide, Stephen Pound, resigned from the Government to vote with the rebels.
The Commons vote was driven by rising public concern over the Government's treatment of the Gurkhas. The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday launched a campaign calling for them to be admitted, with an online petition attracting hundreds of supporters in only a few hours.
Gurkhas have served the British crown since 1815 and have amassed battle honours including 26 Victoria Crosses.
Gurkhas seeking the right to live in Britain have been supported by the actress Joanna Lumley, whose father served with a Gurkha regiment. Last night, she said she was "ecstatic" at the vote and thanked the "wonderful" backbenchers who defied the Government.
The Times leader comments:
Even the thickest-skinned of governments must be realising by now that, on the matter of offering a home to Gurkha veterans, it has not only misunderstood its moral obligations, but has also woefully misread the mood of the nation.
The denial of residency to 36,000 former Gurkhas because they served in the British Army before 1997 has made Britain look mean-spirited and, worse, morally blind.
In insisting that Britain has neither the room nor deep enough pockets to offer a berth to all former Gurkhas who have fought for this country - and been ready to die for it - the Government has behaved like Oscar Wilde's cynic: a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. To anyone but an accountant or a Home Office statistician, the response to the request from retired Gurkhas to be allowed to settle in Britain if they wish has never been a question of costs or of immigration, but a question of moral responsibility, justice and basic decency.
Neither of which forms any part of the make-up of New Labour.
Posted on 04/30/2009 7:07 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 30 April 2009
Dr Taj Hargey of Oxford persevers with his vision.
FromThe Daily Mail, an interview with Dr Taj Hargey
. . . An Islamic cleric; perhaps the most controversial imam in Britain today.
In an age when the highest-profile Muslim preachers are bearded, anti-Western firebrands such as Abu Hamza or Omar Bakri Dr Hargey seems an anomaly.
He does not care much for male facial hair. He believes that women can be both seen and heard, even in a mosque at Friday prayers.
And don't even get him started on the sort of fanatics who blow up London buses, or the poisonous teachings that inspired them.
After three men were cleared this week on charges of assisting the July 7 bombers, there have been calls for an inquiry into blunders made by the security services.
But Dr Hargey has little doubt who, and what, is truly to blame for unleashing such terrorism on our streets.
'It is the extremist ideology present in many UK mosques which is the cement behind nihilistic plots such as this,' he says. 'They are twisting Islam.'
He has little or no time for the Government's 'pussyfooting' policy of encouraging multiculturalism.
'That is the biggest disaster to happen to Britain since World War II,' he says. 'It has given the extremist mullahs the green light for radicalism and segregation. We have to, we must, adjust to British society. And we can do so without losing our faith.'
Hardly surprisingly, such statements have made him wildly unpopular among those who adhere to the brand of ultra-conservative Saudi-funded Wahhabi Islam which currently makes most noise in Britain and around the world.
Certainly, if you Google Dr Hargey's name you will find him vilified as a 'charlatan' on any number of Islamic website forums.
In return, he is quite happy to describe his critics as 'fanatics'. Recently, one hostile publication went too far.
When we meet, Dr Hargey, 56, is still basking in the glow of his successful libel action against the English-language Muslim Weekly newspaper, which had accused him of being a heretic.
Earlier this month it agreed to pay him a five-figure sum and issue a grovelling apology, which was a little more esoteric than most heard in the High Court.
It stated: 'Dr Taj Hargey has never subscribed to, belonged to or been affiliated with any sect or minority group, religious or otherwise. On the contrary, Dr Hargey has consistently and openly reiterated his unconditional belief in the absolute finality of prophethood in Islam and Mohammed (peace and blessings upon him) as God's last prophet and final messenger.'
But despite his victory, or perhaps because of it, when his phone rings now it is still almost as likely to be an anonymous death threat as a request for spiritual guidance.
Certainly more people hate him than follow him.
'The masses have been brainwashed by the mullahs,' he says.
Which begs the question: can this intellectual Oxford imam really succeed with his ambition to lead a 'reformation' of British Islam? Or will medieval orthodoxy triumph in the end?
Dr Hargey was born and raised in apartheid- era South Africa. The racist state classified him as 'coloured', a second-class citizen. One of eight children, his father was a supermarket packer; his mother illiterate. But Hargey was a natural scholar and destined for a better, if consistently controversial, existence.
His first battles were against the Pretoria government, rather than fundamentalists from his own faith.
His latest venture is the Muslim Education Centre of Oxford, of which he is founding chairman
He also leads the city's Summertown Islamic congregation. 'The most progressive pulpit in the land, from which we do everything in English except prayer,' he states.
From a borrowed Masonic hall rather than a dedicated mosque, his enemies sneer.
The ideological core of his opposition towards the fashionable Islamic fundamentalists lies in his rejection of the absolute importance of hadith and Sharia law.
And so he explains his position: 'These people say they have a right to stone adulterous women. We say show us where it says that in the Koran.
'The Koran must have precedence. It must be sovereign. Everything else is supplementary or subservient. All that stuff about jihad, women's rights, apostasy, all these issues come from the hadiths.
'We do not say get rid of the hadiths. But we do say that every hadith must pass two litmus tests.
First, it must not conflict with the Koran. Second, it must not conflict with reason or logic.
'One of the hadiths, for example, says the majority of people in Hell will be women. But let's do a forensic examination of this. First, let's look at the fact that 88 per cent of crimes are committed by men rather than women.
'How then, logically, can there be more women in Hell? Theologically, the Koran says that every human irrespective of gender will be rewarded for what they did and punished for what they did not.'
Of Sharia law he is even more dismissive. 'The Koran is clear that blasphemy is dealt with in the next life by God. The Sharia, meanwhile, is a medieval compilation of religious opinion which is not immutable, not eternal.
'I know I am a Muslim in my heart and my actions, not in my beard or the niqab face mask. The niqab only comes from a hadith and even that only refers to the Prophet's wives. This is a big fight for the hearts and minds of Islam. There is nothing in the Koran that is incompatible with (living in) British society.'
Of the cries of 'heretic' to which he is frequently subjected, he argues: 'Faith is between the person and God. No one can pronounce you a heretic (in Islam) and I think that is a wonderful thing.
'But we do need a reformation in Islam. We have to go back to the pristine principles in our faith. We need a British Islam and by that I do not mean a compromise. . . We do not appeal to those who have been brainwashed by the mullahs.
These people refuse to debate with me and instead send their minions to do their dirty work on the internet or via anonymous phone calls. We get death threats, intimidation and blackmail tactics. But it does not dissuade us. Our group is based on the "Three Es": Enlightenment, Egalitarianism and Erudition.
He is also utterly dismissive of the Muslim Council of Britain, which until the Government's recent reversal of policy, was the state's contact point with British Islam.
'They are Indo-Pakistani and sexist,' he says. 'It's a reactionary group, infused with the repressive ideology of the Wahhabis. If we go along their path we will have a ghetto mentality, segregated and giving our enemies such as the British National Party the opportunity to target us like the Jews in the 1930s. Isolation is our greatest peril.'
For the record, he supported BNP leader Nick Griffin's recent appearance at an Oxford Union debate, although he certainly did not endorse his views. 'We should not silence him. We should expose him.
'I love this country, I follow Spurs and I go to the pub, if only to drink orange juice. I am also a Muslim. But I am not a threat. If people like me are smothered then we will all sleep less safely in our beds.
'These people are religious fascists. The view that Islam is incompatible with British society is something that the Muslim Council of Britain and their hangers- on have promulgated.'
And with that, he adjusts the knot in his mustard tie, drains the last drop of his (non-alcoholic) drink and leaves the bar. He may be a deeply controversial imam. But he is undoubtedly a brave one.
He has also invited Gert Wilders to meet him for a debate at a neutral venue. From The Oxford Mail
Dr Taj Hargey, Imam of the Summertown Islamic congregation, and leader of the Muslim Education Centre of Oxford, has invited Mr Wilders – barred from Britain in February because of his anti-Muslim views– to meet at a neutral venue, saying his ideas need to be challenged publicly rather than boycotted.
Dr Hargey, who wrote to Mr Wilders last week, said: “I think it is important to address these issues instead of boycotting the man.
“If we ban people like him, and try to stop people like BNP leader Nick Griffin from speaking at the Oxford Union today, then who are we going to ban tomorrow? If we don’t have free speech for everyone we do not have it at all.”
As Mr Wilders is still barred from entering the UK, Dr Hargey has suggested they meet somewhere neutral, such as Ireland for an “open, peaceful and moderated discussion on Islam in the West”.
Dr Hargey said: “If he does not accept the invitation, his criticism of Islam has no foundation.
Yesterday, Dr Hargey received a call from Mr Wilders’ office saying they had received the invitation for a public discourse but that the MP was currently travelling and would not be able to respond until next week.
As Dr Hargey says that the unacceptable elements of Islam come from the ahadith, and Mr Wilders has shown how much that is unacceptable comes from the Koran a debate would be very interesting.
I believe Dr Hargey to be a sincere man,not a taqyyia merchant and so I do wonder how long he can remain a Muslim.
Posted on 04/30/2009 5:56 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 30 April 2009
13 people shot at Azerbaijan's prestigious oil training institute.
Whatever the motive transpires to be my gut reaction at the moment is that this is not a personal grudge incident, tragic for the individual families bereaved but of no wider significance.
From Novosti - Russian News and Information
BAKU, April 30 (RIA Novosti) - Thirteen people were killed and 11 wounded when at least one gunman opened fire at the State Oil Academy in Azerbaijan's capital on Thursday, the country's health ministry said.
One gunman, later identified as a Georgian national, opened fire at the academy and then shot himself, the ANS channel reported. Other reports said two gunmen were involved in the attack.
The gunman was reported to have killed a security guard and cleaner after entering the academy and continued shooting indiscriminately at students and staff from a Makarov pistol while going up a staircase.
The Interior Ministry said the police operation had ended, promising to release details of the incident later.
Television reports said Azerbaijani, Turkish and Syrian nationals were among the dead. The academy is a major international center training oil industry specialists.
The Trend News Agency of Azerbaijan says
The shooting at the second building of the Azerbaijan State Oil Academy which killed over 10 people is not directed to undermine the country's public-political life, Azerbaijani Presidential Administration's Public-Political Department Head Ali Hasanov told journalists on April 30.
"Such incidents take place in many countries," he said.
Hasanov said necessary measures are being taken to investigate the crime at the moment.
Trend has a casualty list of some of the men and women killed and injured here.
Sky News concludes
The Azeri Press Agency quoted a senior police official as saying the "terrorists" had been neutralised.
Police special forces and ambulances rushed to the scene and access roads were closed.
One gunman is believed to be a student at the academy, said Mursal Gamidov, head of the Baku ambulance service.
Another student said: "As far as I know there were two terrorists," he said. "One of them committed suicide and another was arrested by police."
Posted on 04/30/2009 5:26 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
New Obama Administration Muslim Appointee Echoes Muslim Brotherhood Positions
From The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report:
Islam Online, the Internet news portal associated with global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, has interviewed Dalia Mogahed, one of two U.S. Muslims recently appointed to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In the interview, Ms. Mogahed repeats claims often made by the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. When asked how she saw her role as “an adviser on Islam”, for example, Ms. Mogahed replied:
I would not say I am an advisor on Islam. I would say that it is my role to convey the facts about what Muslims think and feel. I see my role as offering the voices of the silenced majority of Muslims in America and around the world to the council so that our deliberations are informed by their ideas and wisdom. I believe that I was chosen because the administration cares about what Muslims think and wants to listen.
Positing various plots and conspiracies to “silence” U.S. Muslims is a standard tactic of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.
When asked what she thought of “rising Islamphobia in America?”, Ms. Mogahed chose to center her response around “racism” comparing the situation to 1956 when Americans disapproved of interracial marriages:
Islamphobia in America is very real. Gallup finds that Muslims are among the most unfavorably viewed groups in the US and only a little over a third of Americans say they have no prejudice against Muslims. This presents a grave danger to America as a whole. The disease of racism, by definition, is a bias in judgment. This means that racism clouds sound judgment and leads people to make irrational decisions. It also divides a nation and prevents the full utilization of its intellectual and cultural resources. Racism is wasteful. Racism is a strategic disadvantage. I am very proud of the progress America has made in fighting this problem as it relates to the relationship between blacks and whites. In 1956 only 4% of Americans approved of a marriage between whites and blacks. The marriage that produced our president was illegal in Virginia when he was born. Today 80% of Americans approve of marriage between blacks and whites. Last year, Barack Obama became the first Democratic Presidential candidate in decades to carry Virginia. We are a stronger and smarter nation because of this growth. Our next growth spurt will be in ridding our society of anti-Muslim prejudice.
A recent poll by Gallup, however, found that:
…when comparing percentage of “thriving” Muslim Americans with Muslims in other Western societies as well as those in predominantly Muslim countries, Muslim Americans are among the groups with the largest percentage of respondents who say they are thriving. (Of the predominantly Muslim countries surveyed, only Saudi Arabia’s population has a similarly high proportion of thriving individuals.)
It is telling that Ms. Mogahed chose to focus on U.S. “racism” directed against Muslims rather than the more balanced results presented by Gallup despite the fact that Ms. Mogahed heads the Gallup unit that carried out this poll. U.S. Brotherhood organizations and their leaders have consistently suggested that they would make the best U.S. “goodwill ambassadors” to the larger Muslim world yet often portray the U.S. treatment of Muslims in an unfavorable light.
Responding to another question on what advice she would give to President Obama about how to improve relations with U.S. and foreign Muslims, Mr.s. Mogahed invokes the notion of “legitimate grievances”:
I would advise him to listen first and foremost. Many have claimed that terrorists have ‘hijacked Islam’. I disagree. I think Islam is safe and thriving in the lives of Muslims around the world. What the terrorists have been allowed to take over are Muslim grievances. Muslim concerns over injustice have been largely dismissed by the previous administration leaving a vacuum exploited by extremists. This is a dangerous reality for all of us. Instead, the US must hear mainstream Muslim concerns even if America does not agree with their perceptions. These issues can no longer be ignored or left and the extremists to monopolize.
As noted in a post discussing Muslim Brotherhood rhetorical tactics, defending the violence carried out by Islamist groups is part of the Brotherhood strategy:
Having staked out the positions that Islam is not violent and that Jihad is not connected with violence, the Brotherhood is left with the task of defending the violence carried out by Islamist groups. Since according to the Brotherhood these groups cannot, by definition, be motivated by Islamic ideology, there can be only one answer- they are fighting because of “legitimate grievances” and hence are “freedom fighters.”
In the interview, Ms. Mogahed describes her background as follows:
I have been tremendously blessed, Alhamdulillah. I feel that mine is a uniquely American story. I grew up in an educated middle class home, but with no special connections or privilege. By excelling in school, I was able to attend a top university and helped pay my way by working during the summer as an engineering intern. My summer job was at a paper factory in a small Wisconsin town. I was only 19 years old. Managing technicians often reminded me that they’ve been working on the machine longer than I’ve been on Earth. Many also told me that I was the first Muslim they’d ever met. Very few women worked in the factory, so I was already a minority just as a female, but I was also the only hijab-wearing woman in the entire town and the only Muslim in the factory. All of this of course presented a challenge, but one that taught me a great deal. Once people got to know me I became a professional to them, not a woman in hijab. I took this experience with me to my permanent job after college and to my graduate work. These situations taught me that living according to your conscience was more important than comfortably conforming to your surroundings. I think this simple lesson of life is one that has helped me succeed and given me the courage to face the most difficult and daunting situations.
However, Ms. Mogahed makes no mention of the part of her background suggesting strong ties to the global Muslim Brotherhood. Ms. Mogahed, who was born in Egypt and lived in the U.S. since the age of 5, is the daughter of Elsayed Mogahed, an Egyptian immigrant who is a former engineering scientist at the University of Wisconsin and director of the Islamic Center of Madison (ICM). The website of the ICM links mainly to U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organizations and Souheil Ghannouchi, the President of the Muslim American Society (MAS), was ICM Imam and President for several years. The MAS is part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and closest to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood . In 2003, Ms. Mogahed was identified in 2003 as the Outreach Coordinator for the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh (ICP) whose co-founder recently lost a DOE security clearance and whose Imam will probably be deported on immigration violations.
Ms. Mogahed is currently the executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies that also includes Georgetown University academic Dr. John Esposito and she also co-authored a book with Dr. Esposito suggesting that majority of the world’s Muslims support some form of democracy. Dr. Esposito, in turn, is a long-time supporter of the global Muslim Brotherhood , has espoused views consistent with Brotherhood doctrine, and has at least a dozen past or present affiliations with global Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas organizations. Also part of the Gallup Center is Ahmed Younis, previously a National Director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.
Posted on 04/29/2009 5:27 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Hoggar the Halal
Pondering the news that all pigs in Egypt, these being the livelihood of Coptic Christians are being slaughtered, despite the flu being to do with pigs in name only I wonder if the proprietor of the shop I photographed earlier this week (below) would be safe, were his shop in Cairo and not Walthamstow. I liked the notice high above his part of the building.
I took the picture solely for its novelty "Rose family Florist" type value. I never dreamt the news would be this pertinent.
Posted on 04/29/2009 1:47 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
One notch up from killing all the chickens to stop chicken pox.
There were calls for this earlier today but I didn't have time to post it. Now the threat is being carried out. As Adam Radwanski of the Canadian Globe and Mail says, In the race to the dumbest overreaction to the swine flu, Egypt jumps out to an early lead. Or if not the dumbest, then perhaps the most offensive. One notch up from killing all the chickens to stop chicken pox.
Egyptian leaders ordered the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of pigs today to help protect against swine flu, prompting angry protests from the poor Christan farmers who feed their animals with a country's food scraps. The decision was also criticised as a "real mistake" by a senior UN food expert.
The Arab world's most populous nation has been been badly hit by the H5N1 bird flu virus in recent years and the move to cull up to 400,000 pigs - seen by Muslims as unclean animals - was designed to calm fears of an impending pandemic.
But it left Egypt's large Coptic Christian minority up in arms, especially the slum-dwelling "Zebaleen" rubbish collectors who rely on the hogs for their livelihood.
“Our pigs are healthy. They are our capital and they have no diseases,” said Adel Ishak, who feeds his pigs from the rubbish he collects in Manshiet Nasser, northeast of Cairo.
"We remind Hosni Mubarak that we are all Egyptians. Where does he want us to go?” added 46-year-old Gergis Faris, another pig farmer. “We are uneducated people, just living day by day and trying to make a living, and now if our pigs are taken from us without compensation, how are we supposed to live?”
The decison to cull the pigs was announced by Hatem al-Gabali, the Health Minister, after a meeting with President Mubarak. “It has been ordered to immediately begin the slaughter of all herds of pigs in Egypt,” he told reporters.
Egypt has not had any confirmed cases of swine flu yet but government experts fear a pandemic flu strain could spread quickly through the country because most of its roughly 80 million people live in the densely packed Nile Valley, many in crowded slums in and around Cairo.
The World Health Organisation has repeatedly said, however, that the newly mutated H1N1 virus is not found in pigs - although the animals can be the vessels for the "genetic reassortment" that produces new strains - and that pork meat is safe to eat.
Joseph Domenech, chief veterinary office with the UN Food and Agriculture Officer in Rome, said the Egyptian order was "a real mistake".
If it causes the Coptic Christians distress and poverty then it I doubt the Egyptian authorities will see it that way.
Perhaps it is just as well the strain wasn't named Mexican flu, although I doubt there are many Mexicans in the Nile delta.
But seriously this is one more example of the precariousness of my fellow Christians in Egypt after 1400 years under Islam.
Posted on 04/29/2009 1:32 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax