All 2014 News

December 15, 2014

Jihadist holds hostages in Sydney café, forces them to raise black IS flag

Sydney (Australia), December 15 /MCN/

A jihadist took a number of people hostage Monday inside a café in the city of Sydney and forced some of them to raise the black flag, taken as a banner by the Islamic State, from the café window.

According to media and witnesses, more than 30 people are being held hostage in the Lindt cafe in Martin Square, in the central business area in Sydney. Five hostages, including three men and two women, managed to get out amid intense police surveillance. It is unclear yet if they escaped or were released.

Sky News Australia reported that the captor telephoned three media outlets from the phones of the hostages and asked for the IS flag. He also telephoned Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

More than 40 Islamic organizations in Australia condemned the hostage-taking by armed Islamist elements inside the Sydney café.

“We reject any attempt to harm the lives of innocent people, or instil fear and terror in their hearts,” the organizations said in a statement on Monday.

The gunmen forced some hostages to raise the black banner of jihad from the windows of the café, located in a famous district that includes major government and financial institutions as well as media institutions.

The leaders of the Australian Islamic organizations affirmed their solidarity with the hostages and their families.

“We pray for their safety and hope the crisis will be over quickly and peacefully,” they said.

Religious leaders across the country also called on their followers to “unite and pray for a peaceful end to the siege of Sydney.”

December 9, 2014

Muslims forcing closure and demolition of churches all over Ethiopia

“Corrupt officials willing to defend their religion rather than the laws they’ve sworn to uphold, are violating Christians’ rights by forcibly closing, destroying and demolishing churches across Ethiopia.” Islamic law forbids non-Muslims to build new houses of worship or to repair old ones. It seems as if Muslims in Ethiopia, with help from corrupt officials, are trying to establish that prohibition.

“Ethiopia Destroys Evangelical Church Building; 100 Christians Forced Underground,” BosNewsLife, December 5, 2014:

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (BosNewsLife)– Some 100 evangelical Christians in eastern Ethiopia were without a central place for worship Friday, December 5, after local authorities destroyed their church building, a church official and rights activists said.

The Y Semay Birihan Church, or Heaven’s Light Church, was demolished last week by Shenkore district police in the heavily Islamic city of Harar, said Pastor Zemach Tadesse, the 30-year-old senior pastor of the church.

Just days before the perceived attack, officials forcibly removed the church’s exterior sign and warned believers not to worship there citing complaints by a local Muslim, according to Christians familiar with the case.

After Christians refused to halt worship services, police reportedly arrived November 28 to destroy the church building. Security forces were allegedly seen removing roofing materials and the church’s siding while confiscating church properties. Police officials could not immediately be reached for comment….

Christians, who had been gathering in the church building for five years, are now meeting in smaller groups in homes of individual believers as they were instructed by local officials “not to gather under what remains of the church building,” Pastor Tadesse said.
These are no isolated incidents, explained ICC, adding that it had documented “numerous ongoing land rights battles between churches and their local governments across Ethiopia.”

In many cases, ICC said, “churches have been operating peacefully for decades on land given to them by now-deceased former congregants.”

However efforts by local majority Muslim populations to “eliminate the public presence” of churches resulted in the forceful closure, destruction and demolition of several church buildings in recent years, according to ICC investigators.

LAND PUBLIC

In Ethiopia, all land is publicly, rather than privately, owned. Churches are forced to lease land for a limited period of time, after which they will have to either renegotiate the lease or vacate the premises and demolish any amendments or additions to the land,Christians said.

In Muslim-majority areas of Ethiopia, Christians’ applications to lease their individual land to the local church have been wrongfully denied on multiple occasions,” complained ICC in a statement to BosNewsLife.

ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Cameron Thomas, accused Ethiopia of violating the rights of devoted Christians. “Corrupt officials willing to defend their religion rather than the laws they’ve sworn to uphold, are violating Christians’ rights by forcibly closing, destroying and demolishing churches across Ethiopia,” the official said…

November 5, 2014

Bangladesh Christian Association urges Pakistan PM to pardon Asia Bibi

Bangladesh, November 5 /MCN/

‪Nirmol Rozario, general secretary of the Bangladesh Christian Association (BCA) expressed “deep concern over the fate of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five children, who was sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy.”

October 3, 2014

Austria proposes new law on Islam

Description: Fearing extremism, Austrian leaders want a new law on Islam.
Fearing extremism, Austrian leaders want a new law on Islam. Photo: Reuters

Vienna: Austria called on Thursday for standardized German-language translations of the Koran and moved to prohibit foreign funding of Muslim organizations on its soil in a draft law aimed in part at tackling Islamic extremism.

The bill will overhaul a 1912 law governing the status of Austrian Muslims, prompting concern from a major local Islamic body, which saw it mirroring widespread mistrust of Muslims.

The initiative comes at a time of robust support for the far-right in Austria and also alarm over reports of Muslims from the small, neutral country joining Islamist militant forces fighting in the Middle East.

“The clear message should be that there is no contradiction between being a faithful Muslim and a proud Austrian,” said Foreign Affairs and Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz, a member of the conservative People’s Party.

“If you don’t have orderly legal regulation … this can always bring dangers (of extremism). In this sense, if you like this is maybe a part of prevention,” he told reporters.
He added that sharia, or Islamic law, had “no place here”.

Roughly half a million Muslims live in Austria, representing about 6 percent of the total population, which is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic.

The Christian and Muslim communities have co-existed for years and relations have been relatively unproblematic by comparison with friction seen in other European nations.

For example, unlike France, Austria has not moved to ban Muslim women from wearing full-face veils in public.

However, tensions have grown with the rise of the anti-immigration and Islam-critical Freedom Party, which is backed by roughly a quarter of Austrians according to opinion polls.

Under the terms of the draft bill, state-recognized religious organizations will have to offer a unified German-language version of their doctrine and sources of faith, including for the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

At present, there are only two officially recognized Islamic organizations in Austria.

The legislation would also forbid Islamic teachers employed by any foreign states from working in Austria and stop outside funding for any Islamic organizations.

“Among the Muslim base, the law is not seen as a gift for the Eid holiday,” said Carla Amina Baghajati, spokeswoman of the Islamic Community of Faith in Austria (IGGIO), referring to Eid-al-Adha which Muslims will celebrate in the coming days.

“(The bill) mirrors in its overtone the spirit of the times we currently perceive, which is marked by blanket suspicion and mistrust against Muslims,” she said, adding that she was optimistic the legislation might still be amended.

Specifically, the IGGIO was worried about the law appearing to bundle together various Sunni, Shi’ite and Alawite sects and also about the ramifications of trying to agree on a unified German-language version of the Koran.

The Arabic version of the Koran is generally thought of as the word of Allah in Islam, with any translation including an element of interpretation.

“If a version of the Koran (in German) comes along as the codified, ultimate (version), then this would contradict the self-conception of Islam,” Ms Baghajati said.

Foreign minister Kurz told Austrian radio last month that numerous translations of the Koran had generated countless interpretations and said it was in the interests of local Muslims to eliminate possible misunderstandings.

The Austrian government warned in August that Islamist militancy was on the rise and officials have said around 140 people have left Austria to fight with the likes of the Islamic State, which has grabbed control of swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Last month, Austria said it would ban militant Islamist groups’ symbols and strip citizenship from people who travel abroad to fight with jihadists.

On Thursday Mr Kurz dismissed suggestions that a unified translation would pose a problem.

“Am I sceptical when I hear this is difficult or not easily done? Fundamentally no,” said Mr Kurz, adding that it had previously been possible to create unified teaching material for Islamic religious studies at schools across Austria.

Reut

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/austria-proposes-new-law-on-islam-20141003-10pm4l.html#ixzz3F1nLlP5h

September 5, 2014

Ahmed Godane, leader of the al Shabaab Islamist group, is killed

WASHINGTON, Sept 5 (Reuters) – The Pentagon confirmed on Friday that Ahmed Godane, a leader of the al Shabaab Islamist group, was killed in a U.S. air strike in Somalia this week, calling it a “major symbolic and operational loss” for the al Qaeda-affiliated organization.

“We have confirmed that Ahmed Godane, the co-founder of al-Shabaab, has been killed,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement.

Godane was a co-founder and leader of the group, which has carried many bombings and suicide attacks in Somalia and elsewhere, including the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, in September 2013 that killed at least 39 people.

Godane publicly claimed responsibility for the Westgate attack, saying it was revenge for Kenyan and Western involvement in Somalia and noting its proximity to the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

His death left a huge gap in al Shabaab’s leadership and was seen as posing the biggest challenge to its unity since it emerged as a fighting force eight years ago.

Abdi Ayante, director of the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, said Godane’s death would be “a game changer in many ways for al Shabaab.”

“What is likely to happen is a struggle for power,” he said a day before the Pentagon’s confirmed Godane’s death. Ayante said fragmentation was also possible in the absence of a leader with Godane’s experience and ruthless approach to dissent.

U.S. forces carried out the military operation targeting Godane in Somalia on Monday, but the Pentagon did not confirm his death until Friday, saying it was still assessing the results of the air strike.

Kirby said in his statement that “removing Godane from the battlefield is a major symbolic and operational loss to al Shabaab.”

A separate statement from White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the operation that killed Godane was the result of “years of painstaking work by our intelligence, military and law enforcement professionals.”

Earnest said the administration would continue to use financial, diplomatic, intelligence and military tools to address the threat posed by al Shabaab.

The U.S. State Department declared al Shabaab a foreign terrorist organization in 2008.

Somalia’s government, with support from African peacekeepers and Western intelligence, has battled to curb al Shabaab’s influence and drive the group from areas it has continued to control since it was expelled from Mogadishu in 2011.

(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Susan Heavey)

August 1, 2014

Meriam Ibrahim arrives in New Hampshire, ready to begin new life

A Sudanese woman who faced the death penalty for refusing to recant her Christian faith has arrived in New Hampshire, ready to begin a new life.

Meriam Ibrahim, her husband and the couple’s two children arrived Thursday night at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, where they were greeted by a throng of supporters from the city’s Sudanese community before getting into an SUV and leaving the airport, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports.

“Thank you so much,” her husband, Daniel Wani, told reporters. “I am so relieved.”

Ibrahim, who met Pope Francis at the Vatican last week after fleeing the U.S. embassy in Khartoum, did not speak.

Her brother-in-law, Gabriel Wani, said Ibrahim has been granted asylum by the United States and will soon meet with U.S. State Department officials.

Daniel Wani, a U.S. citizen since 2005, met Ibrahim on a trip to Sudan in 2011. He traveled to the war-torn African country last year to arrange for his wife and child to move to New Hampshire.

Ibrahim had been sentenced to death over charges of apostasy. Her father was Muslim, and her mother was an Orthodox Christian. She married Wani, a Christian from southern Sudan, in 2011. Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims. By law, children must follow their father’s religion.

Sudan initially blocked Ibrahim from leaving the country even after its highest court overturned her death sentence in June. At one point, the family took refuge at the U.S. embassy in Khartoum.

“As Sudanese, this story means a lot to us and is beyond a Christian woman being oppressed. It shows the oppression of our people by the current dictatorship regime.”- Rudwan Dawod, Sudanese activist

Gabriel Wani said the family now plans to “relax,” but didn’t have specifics on their immediate future. The Sudanese community in Manchester, northern New England’s largest city, will throw the family a party, he said.

One Sudanese activist who was jailed 45 days in a Khartoum prison for allegedly being a U.S. spy in 2012 told FoxNews.com that Ibrahim’s arrival is big news within the north African community.

“As Sudanese, this story means a lot to us and is beyond a Christian woman being oppressed. It shows the oppression of our people by the current dictatorship regime,” Rudwan Dawod wrote FoxNews.com. “It also highlights the collective efforts of people from all different backgrounds that supported Meriam’s release.”

June 24, 2014

Urgent: Meriam, accused of apostasy by Sudan, travels to Italy and meets pope

Rome, July 24/MCN/
Sudanese Christian Meriam Yahia arrived Thursday in Rome on an Italian government plane, accompanied with Lapo Pistelli, Italy’s vice-minister for foreign affairs, and met the pope.

Meriam had been accused of apostasy of Islam and converting to Christianity, and had been sentenced to death. The death sentence raised angry international reactions, and the Court of the Appeal acquitted her last June 23.

Meriam Ibrahim looked relieved as she arrived at Rome airport. Pope Francis I, pope of Vatican met her for half an hour. She also met Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

Lapo Pistelli, Italy’s vice-minister for foreign affairs, accompanied her on the flight from Khartoum and posted a photo of himself with Mrs. Ibrahim and her children on his Facebook account as they were about to land in Rome.
Mrs Ibrahim met Pope Francis at his Santa Marta residence at the Vatican soon after her arrival. The Pope thanked her for her witness to faith.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that the woman and her family thanked the Pope for showing closeness and for church’s support for their case.

Matteo Renzi, Italy’s Prime Minister, expressed the happiness of the Italian government, and said he had worked with the Sudanese government to help Meriam to obtain a visa to enter Italy.

Welcoming her at Ciampino Airport (near Rome), Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said: “Today is a day of celebration.” Meriam was greeted at the airport by Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, his wife Agnese, Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini and vice-minister Lapo Pistelli who accompanied Meriam on the flight from Khartoum.

“We are proud of being Europeans,” Renzi said. He praised the extraordinary work of the Lapo Pistelli.

“If there is no European reaction we cannot feel worthy to call ourselves ‘Europe,” Renzi said during inauguration of the European Council.

The Sudanese Court ordered last June 23 the release of Meriam Yahia who was sentenced to death last May 15 on charges of apostasy of Islam and converting to Christianity. Meriam was raised by her Christian mother and says she has never been Muslim. Meriam’s family waived the charges, resulted in her release.

The judgment issued against her raised angry reactions .Several countries and human rights organizations asked the Sudanese government to cancel death sentence against Meriam.

June 24, 2014

Sudan death row woman Meriam Ibrahim rearrested

Ibrahim arrested with husband and two children at Khartoum airport one day after she was released on orders of appeal court

Meriam Ibrahim’s case has attracted international criticism. Photograph: EPA

Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman released from death row in Sudan on Monday, was arrested with her husband and two children at Khartoum airport on Tuesday as the family attempted to leave the country.

Agents from the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) detained the family just 24 hours after Ibrahim was released on the orders of the appeal court.

Her lawyer, Elshareef Mohammed, who was with Ibrahim at Khartoum airport at the time of the arrest, said more than 40 NISS officers apprehended the family as they attempted to board a plane to the US. Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, is a US citizen.


Meriam Ibrahim holding her daughter Maya, who was born in prison. Her husband Daniel Wani sits to her right holding their son Martin Photograph: theguardian.com

“It’s very disappointing,” Elshareef told the Guardian. “They were very angry. They took us [the family’s lawyers] outside, and took the family to a NISS detention centre. They have not been given access to lawyers.”

He said the appeal court had quashed Ibrahim’s convictions and there were no restrictions on her travelling. He added that political differences within the government over the case may have played a part in the decision to prevent her leaving.

“I’m very concerned. When people do not respect the court, they might do anything,” said Elshareef.

Ibrahim, 27, had been sentenced to death for apostasy. She insisted that she had been brought up as a Christian, despite her father being Muslim. She was also sentenced to be publicly flogged for adultery following a court’s ruling that her marriage to a Christian man was invalid.

After her release, Wani told the Guardian that he hoped the family would be able to start a new life in the US. Ibrahim, Wani and their two children were taken to a safe house following her release from prison on Monday amid fears for the family’s safety.

Ibrahim’s case attracted international criticism, which intensified after she gave birth to a daughter while shackled to the floor of her prison cell. Her toddler son was kept in Omdurman women’s prison with her.

More than 1 million people backed a campaign by Amnesty International to free her. The British prime minister, David Cameron, said he was “absolutely appalled” by her treatment. Political and religious leaders, celebrities and human rights organisations condemned her incarceration. The British Foreign Office and US state department welcomed her release on Monday.

Amnesty said on Tuesday it was investigating reports of the family’s detention.

Ibrahim was convicted of apostasy after the court insisted she was a Muslim because her father was a Muslim, even though Ibrahim said she had been brought up as a Christian after her father abandoned the family when she was six. Following her conviction last month, she was given three days to renounce her faith or face a death sentence.

Then eight months pregnant, she was told that her death sentence would be deferred for two years to allow her to nurse her unborn baby.

May 27, 2014

Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death for apostasy gives birth in prison


Meriam Ibrahim and her husband

Khartoum, May 27/MCN/

Sudanese physician Meriam Ibrahim, who has been sentenced to death by a Sudanese court for converting to Christianity, gave birth to a baby girl early this morning.

Ms. Ibrahim’s lawyer told the Daily Telegraph that Ms. Ibrahim, 27, gave birth to a baby girl – her second child – early this morning in a hospital inside the prison.

“The prison administration did not take Meriam to a hospital, and she gave birth in a prison clinic,” el-Shareef Ali said.

Ibrahim was convicted and sentenced to death on May 25. Since her arrest in February, she and her baby Martin, 20 months, have lived in a prison cell.

Ibrahim denied the charges of apostasy and adultery against her before the Khartoum Court. The court did not recognize her marriage to a Christian man, Daniel Wani, in 2011.

“My Muslim father abandoned the family and I converted to Christianity later,” Ibrahim said.

Ibrahim is supposed to be allowed to take care of her new baby for two years before the death sentence is implemented.

Amnesty International has launched a petition demanding the Sudanese authorities stop the implementation of the death sentence against Ibrahim, and has collected more than 640,000 signatures to overturn the ruling so far.

May 15, 2014

Sudanese court sentences Christian woman to death after she refuses to “return” to Islam

Khartoum, May 15/MCN/

A Sudanese court sentenced Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, to death today. She was given three days last Sunday to declare her repentance and return to Islam. She was convicted of the renunciation of Islam after she converted to Christianity.

Judge Abaas Mohamed Al-Khalifa told the Sudanese woman, “The court gave you three days to return to your faith, but you insisted not to return to Islam, so I sentenced you to death.”

During the hearing session, and after the long speech from a Muslim religious man who tried to convince her to return to Islam, Meriam told the judge quietly, “I am a Christian and I am not an apostate.”

Ibrahim is eight months pregnant and has been in prison with her 20-mont-old child. She was raised a Christian by her mother after he father, a Muslim, left the family when she was six. Ibrahim is married to a Christian South Sudanese man.

May 14, 2014

Three killed in police firing after communal clashes in Hyderabad, curfew imposed

Amarnath K Menon Hyderabad, May 14, 2014 | UPDATED 19:25 IST

The trouble spot is contiguous to the communally sensitive Old City localities of Hyderabad.

Three men died in police firing following communal clashes near the Sikh Chawni locality in the Kishan Bagh area south of Hyderabad on Wednesday. Police opened fire to disperse rioting groups and imposed curfew in the entire Rajendranagar police station limits soon after to prevent the tension and violence from escalating and spreading to other areas. The trouble spot is contiguous to the communally sensitive Old City localities of Hyderabad.

Trouble erupted after some residents of the Sikh Chawni discovered that suspected miscreants, who belong to the adjacent Muslim neighbourhood, had burnt one of their religious flags early on Wednesday. Warring groups from both sides gathered after two Muslim youth were attacked in retaliation for the burning of the flag. Police arrived as tensions deepened but even before they could pacify both groups began pelting stones at one another. Attacks on houses and arson followed. When the situation spun out of control the police opened fire to quell the rioters.

In the violence, three persons were killed and 17 others, including ten police personnel, were injured in the pelting of stones. At least ten vehicles, cars and two wheelers, were set afire and a few shops and houses besides a video camera vehicle of the Cyberabad police was attacked even as the police struggled to contain the clashes.

Apprehensive of the violence spreading to other areas the police imposed curfew in the Rajendranagar police station area and stepped up vigil in all sensitive areas of the Old City. Contingents of the armed police and para military forces brought to Hyderabad for election security were deployed to thwart any signs of trouble brewing in the city. Patrolling has also been stepped up in the interior areas of the Old City.

“We are ensuring that it does not have any other and further repercussions. We are ensuring that there is peace and tranquility in the city. Patrolling vehicles are on the move to maintain law and order. We will ensure that no further incidents taken place,” said the Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anurag Sharma.

Victims of the mayhem alleged that the assailants armed with swords and knives entered their houses and attacked them. They alleged police opened fire without using teargas or batons. Some of the trouble makers were taken into custody, police pickets have been set up and certain areas barricaded to prevent spread of violence. “The police did precious little to contain and put an end to the violence in a systematic manner. Instead it resorted to a knee jerk reaction – firing on the rioters,” complained the All India Majlis – e – Ittehadul Muslimeen president Asaduddin Owaisi.
The police have a different version of the developments. “Around 1,000 members from both sides indulged in clashes. As lathi- charge proved ineffective, police warned the clashing groups and opened fire. Curfew has been imposed indefinitely and Section 144 Crpc banning the assembly of four or more persons clamped in Rajendranagar police state area under Cyberabad Police Commissionerate,” explained a senior police official. By dusk, tension had not eased though stepped up security ensured that the situation was under control.

Tension between the Deccani Sikhs and the Muslims living in the area is not new. In 2006, one person was killed and several injured in a similar communal clash.

Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/three-killed-in-police-firing-after-communal-clashes-in-hyderabad-curfew-imposed/1/361818.html

April 23, 2014

Tony Blair urges western leaders to engage threat of Islamic extremism

London, April 23 /MCN/

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said today that Western nations need to “engage” Islamic extremism.

Business Insider reported that Blair spoke on the threat of terrorism from countries like Pakistan and Iran at a keynote speech at Bloomberg in London. Instead of competing with Russia and China, Western nations, must, if necessary ally with these two rising powers, said Blair.

“We have to stop treating each country on the basis of whatever seems to make for the easiest life for us at any one time. We have to have an approach to the region that is coherent and sees it as a whole,” said Blair, who is the envoy for the Middle East Quartet of the UN, the EU, the US and Russia.

Middle East online quoted Blair saying that the danger of religious extremism is “growing”. He also warned that it should be at the “top of the agenda” for Western leaders, not Ukraines crisis or any other foreign issue.

According to Blair, the Middle East is struggling with the place of religion and politics, versus embracing “modern world- politically, socially and economically”.

“This is what makes it so hard for democracy to take root,” he said.

In defense of this idea, Blair supported the ousting of Morsi in Egypt, saying that the Muslim Brotherhood had been “systematically taking over the traditions and institutions of the country”.

April 9, 2014

US State Department labels Egyptian Ansar bayt al-Maqdis terrorists

Washington, DC, April 9 /MCN/

The U.S. State Department announced today that it has designated Ansar bayt al-Maqdis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

The Office of the Spokesperson released a press release on the State Department website, saying that the Egyptian extremist group has been responsible for a number of attacks on Egyptians, tourists, and Israeli targets.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis was created in 2011, following the Revolution. According to the State Department, “ABM” shares “some aspects of AQ (Al-Qaeda) idealogy” but is a separate entity and retains a local focus.

ABM has attacked tourists, southern Israeli areas, Egyptian military personel, government officials and civilians. ABM’s most recent attack was on a tour bus in the Sinai Peninsula in February of 2014. The bombing killed the Egyptian driver and three South Korean tourists.

March 23, 2014

Egypt Sentences 529 to Death Over Police Attack

CAIRO March 23, 2014 (AP)
By MAGGIE MICHAEL Associated Press
Description: Associated Press
An Egyptian court on Monday sentenced to death 529 people, said to be supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi involved in an attack on a police station that killed a senior police officer, in a mass trial that lasted only two sessions and raised an outcry from rights activists.

The verdicts are subject to appeal and would likely be overturned, rights lawyers said. But they said the swiftness and harshness of the rulings on such a large scale deepened concerns that Egypt’s courts have been deeply politicized and that due process is being swept away amid the crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood that followed his July overthrow.

Amnesty International said it was the largest single batch of simultaneous death sentences they had seen in recent years anywhere in the world.

In response, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the country’s judiciary is “entirely independent and is not influenced in any way by the executive branch of government.”

Egyptian authorities are holding a series of mass trials of alleged Morsi supporters, with anywhere from dozens to hundreds of defendants at a time. Monday’s verdicts by a court in the city of Minya, south of Cairo, were the first such mass trial to issue death sentences.

The court held two sessions. In the first on Saturday, the judge angrily shouted down requests by defense lawyers for more time to review the prosecution’s case for the hundreds of defendants. In Monday’s session, security forces barred defense lawyers from entering the courtroom on orders from the judge, the provincial police chief said.

“We didn’t have the chance to say a word or to look at more than 3,000 pages of investigation to see what evidence they are talking about,” Khaled el-Koumi, a lawyer representing 10 of the defendants, told The Associated Press.

All but around 150 of the defendants in the case were tried in absentia. The judges acquitted 16 defendants.

A senior official involved in courtroom security said that 154 defendants were brought in to the court on Monday. He said that the minute the judge announced the verdict, defendants in the cage screamed “You butcher” to the judge. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

The 545 defendants in the case were charged with murder, attempted murder, joining an outlaw group aiming at toppling down the regime and stealing government weapons in connection with an attack on a police station in August in the town of Matay in Minya province. One police officer was killed in the attack. The violence was part of rioting around the country, sparked when security forces stormed two pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo, killing over 600 people, on Aug. 14.

After the verdict was announced, families of the defendants protested outside the court building in Minya, shouting “Down with military rule.” Police arrested three people from the protest. Fears of a backlash by Morsi supporters prompted security officials to go on alert around Minya province.

Mohammed Zarie, a Cairo-based human rights lawyer who was not involved in the case, said the verdicts reflect has Egypt’s judiciary is turning “from a tool for achieving justice to an instrument for taking revenge.”

March 7, 2014

Saudi Arabia declares Muslim Brotherhood, other organizations terrorist groups

Saudi Arabia on Friday declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group. Al Arabiya News Channel said via its website that the Saudi terrorism list also includes Hezbollah, al-Nusra Front, Daash and al-Qaeda.

Two days ago, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar for the first time in the 33-year-old history of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The three countries accused Qatar of working to threaten the political stability and security of the Gulf States by providing financial and logistical support for the Houthis in Yemen, as well as supporting Brotherhood symbols in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain said Qatari money threatens the security of the whole region. Reports stated that Qatar supported the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front in Syria and the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

The Egyptian Cabinet declared on December 25 that, “the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist group and its organization is a terrorist organization,” according to Article 86 of the Egyptian Penal Code.

February 24, 2014

Seven Coptic Christians found killed in Libya’s Benghazi

Benghazi (Libya), 24 February /MCN/
On Monday, Libyan police discovered seven Egyptian Christians killed in the Grotha area, west of the city of Benghazi in the east of Libya. Islamist militants are active in this area and there are many kidnappings and car bombings, Libyan security officials said.

February 2, 2014

Dearborn: Local Muslim calls for sharia patrols at city council meeting

Islamic rage boy!!!
via The Arab American News. h/t Dee

…a local Arab American took the podium to address concerns he had with the city. The man, who identified himself as Hassan, stated that he lived in Westland but had concerns he wanted to address as an individual who works in the city. He refused to publicly give his address fearing for the safety of his family.

After referencing Prophet Muhammad and loudly chanting Islamic prayers, Hassan said that the city needed to monitor neighborhood parks around the clock because people have been using them to conduct sexual activities. Council President Susan Dabaja, however, told him that the city doesn’t have the resources or money for increased security at parks and asked him to move on to his next point.
Hassan also stated that there were magazines and newspapers at the public libraries and civic center that can “cause colossal damage to a child’s health,” asking the city to review and monitor literature before they are distributed. Dabaja cited that freedom of speech laws exist and that parents, not the city, should monitor what their children read.

“These issues are not relevant to this body,” Councilman Thomas Tafelski added, looking frustrated.
Hassan was told he needed to speed up his message to the council because, according to council rules, an individual is limited to three minutes of speaking time during the public comments portion of the meeting. Hassan proceeded to address concerns he has regarding discrimination against Arabs in the city. He cited his current place of employment as an example.

“There is no political correctness contained and there is so much harassment towards Muslims and Arabs,” Hassan said.

Dabaja, however, was quick to tell him that his points were out of line and not issues that the council usually tackles.

“If you have concerns about your supervisor, then go ahead and seek the advice of legal counsel. This is not something that we as a body can address,” Dabaja stated before telling the individual that his time on the floor had expired.

February 2, 2014

Eleven Christians killed in attack on Nigerian church

Nigeria, /MCN/

Eleven Christians were killed on Friday in an attack on a church by gunmen believed to be affiliated with the Boko Haram terrorist group in Admawa state in northeastern Nigeria.

According to the Xinhua Chinese news agency, Olaramo Maina, head of the Madajala regional government, said the pastor and 10 other worshipers were killed in the attack.

Maina said that a state of chaos prevailed among the people of the village, who were stunned after the attackers stormed the church and fired indiscriminately at worshipers.

Boko Haram has carried out frequent terrorist operations against Christians in northern Nigeria. The death toll of Christians has reached more than 1,500 people as a result of these operations carried out by the group over the past five years.




2013 News

December 6, 2013

Egyptian Christian convert imprisoned for 15 days pending investigation

Minya (Upper Egypt), 6 December /MCN/
Minya Prosecution (Upper Egypt) ordered the imprisonment of Christian convert Bishoy Armiya, formerly known as Mohamed Hegazi, for 15 days pending investigation Thursday.

Prosecutors have accused Armiya, 31, with working as a correspondent of an “American TV channel that incites sectarian strife,” insulting Egypt, proselytizing, and receiving foreign funds.

A security source said the defendant photographed military and police institutions and a Copt who was attacked by MB members, hiding among citizen as a human rights activist in order to take photographs.

Armiya visited Nazlet Ebeid village, located about 6 kilometers from Minya City, and Badraman village in Deir Mawas – two villages that witnessed sectarian violence last week and resulted in deaths and injuries of both Christians and Muslims– where he met with Christian citizens.

The defendant was the first Christian convert in Egypt to file a lawsuit to change his religion on his ID card. Armiya was born in Port Said and married a woman from Minya, and said that he converted to Christianity before he was 16 years old.

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October 26, 2013

Australia: Muslim mob severely injures five Jews in unprovoked anti-Semitic attack

True to form, the mainstream media doesn’t mention the identity of the perpetrators, but that in itself is a clue as to who they were: if the attackers had been neo-Nazis, the Herald would have had no trouble saying that. Only when it comes to Muslims do “brawls” and “bombings” and “violence” just happen by themselves, with no clear perp. Also, the mention of the facts that the attack was “racially motivated” and in a “multicultural area” makes clear the identity of these “youths” (a common mainstream media term for violent young Muslims in any case).

But why the coverup? Why must we read tea leaves when it comes to Muslim violence? The mainstream media is doing a grave disservice to the public by reporting stories in this way, rendering them ignorant and complacent in the face of a real threat.

“Five people hospitalised after brawl in Bondi,” by Sally Willoughby for the Sydney Morning Herald, October 26 (thanks to Raul):

Two men remain in hospital with serious injuries after an alleged anti-Semitic attack near Bondi Beach on Saturday.

Five people were injured suffering a fractured cheekbone, broken nose, concussion, lacerations and bruising when they were set upon by eight youths on Blair Street.
St Vincent’s Hospital spokesman and member of the Bondi Jewish community David Faktor said the victims told him the attack was unprovoked and racially motivated.

He said the family was returning from a Jewish Sabbath dinner and did not know their attackers or do anything to incite the violence.

”Any kind of serious unprovoked attack is of great concern but the fact it was racially motivated is all the more concerning,” Mr Faktor said.

”It is extremely shocking that an attack like this could happen in Australia let alone in Bondi being such a multicultural area.”

Mr Faktor said the victims were wearing skullcaps and told him the attack felt like it went for about 15 minutes.

Police said four men, aged 27 to 66, and a 62-year-old woman were walking along Blair Street when a group of eight males started hurling abuse and assaulting them at 12.30am on Saturday.

Police said the melee continued along Glenayr Avenue before police arrived and the attackers fled.

Police have arrested two teenage boys, 17, and a 23-year-old man.

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September 22, 2013

Scores Are Killed by Suicide Bomb Attack at Historic Church in Pakistan

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Muhammad Muheisen/Associated Press

Published: September 22, 2013

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A suicide attack on a historic church in northwestern Pakistan killed at least 78 people on Sunday in one of the deadliest attacks on the Christian minority in Pakistan in years.

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Description: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/09/23/world/PAKISTAN/PAKISTAN-articleInline.jpg

Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press

The attack occurred as worshipers left All Saints Church in the old quarter of the regional capital, Peshawar, after a service on Sunday morning. Up to 600 people had attended and were leaving to receive free food being distributed on the lawn outside when two explosions ripped through the crowd. “As soon as the service finished and the food was being distributed, all of a sudden we heard one explosion, followed by another,” said Azim Ghori, a witness.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who arrived in Peshawar on Sunday evening, said that 78 people had been killed, including 34 women and 7 children. “Such an attack on women and children is against humanity,” he said.Akhtar Ali Shah, the home secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, said that more than 100 people had been wounded. Mr. Khan said that 37 of those were children.

The dead included two Muslim police officers who had been posted outside the church. Witnesses reported scenes of mayhem as rescue workers ferried victims from the church, which was scattered with body parts, shrapnel and bloodied clothing.

On Sunday afternoon, the bodies of 45 victims were placed in coffins and moved to the nearby St. John’s Church, the oldest church in the city. The coffins were placed in the church playground as dozens of grieving relatives and mourners gathered. A large contingent of police officers was deployed outside the church, and mourners were allowed to enter the compound after a thorough security check. Ambulances were allowed to enter the compound one by one as dead bodies were then placed in vehicles to take them to the morgue.

Shafqat Malik, a senior official of the bomb disposal squad, said in an interview that evidence collected from the church confirmed that two suicide bombers had carried out the attack. “Each bomber carried six kilograms of explosives,” he said.

The attack coincided with a broader wave of attacks on religious minorities, including Shiite Muslims this year.

In March, a Muslim mob swarmed through a Christian neighborhood in the eastern city of Lahore, burning two churches and more than 100 houses. Christians also frequently find themselves accused of blasphemy under Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws.

The attacks are mostly orchestrated by Sunni extremist militant groups, although some have also been claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.

All Saints Church is one of the oldest in Peshawar and was built during the British colonial era. It is at Kohati Gate in the city’s old quarter, where numerous militant attacks have occurred in recent years, mostly targeting Muslims.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been trying to initiate peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, aimed at ending a decade of violence. An all-parties political conference held this month gave the government approval to start negotiations with the insurgents.

But that offer was publicly rejected by the Taliban, which later claimed responsibility for the killing of a senior army general in Upper Dir, near the Afghan border, last week.

Immediately after Sunday’s bombing, questions were again raised about the government’s plans to hold peace talks.

In a statement, Mr. Sharif said, “The terrorists have no religion, and targeting innocent people is against the teachings of Islam and all religions.” The Pakistan Ulema Council, the largest clerical body, also condemned the blast, saying that the council was “standing with our Christian brothers in this tragedy.” The opposition leader Imran Khan, who has advocated initiating peace talks with the militants, expressed solidarity with the Christian community but also repeated his call to tackle terrorism in the country.

Mr. Khan said he believed that the bombings were an attempt to sabotage the peace talks. “A conspiracy is being hatched to drag the country back to the 10-year-old morass,” he said, referring to the time when former President Pervez Musharraf allied himself with the United States in the effort against militancy and extremism.

But there were contrary voices, as well. Raja Nasir Abbas, a Shiite leader who is the secretary general of the party Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen, demanded a “ruthless operation against the Taliban” and declared that the “weak policies” of the government had “emboldened the terrorists.”

Hundreds of Christians and activists from civil society groups protested in Lahore after the attack. They blocked roads as they condemned the violence.“We have not been protected,” said Pitras Masih, a young laborer who had a wooden cross in his hand and a chain with a cross around his neck. “We want justice.” Others held aloft placards demanding justice. “There is a uniform behind this terrorism,” one placard said.

Waqar Gillani contributed reporting from Lahore, Pakistan.

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September 21, 2013

22 dead in Kenya mall attack on non-Muslims

AP Photo: Sayyid Azim
Saturday Sept. 21 2013.
Description: MSN News23 min ago MSN News with wire reports

A Kenya Red Cross official said the death toll from the attack at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi will likely rise.
NAIROBI, Kenya — Gunmen threw grenades, fired automatic weapons and targeted non-Muslims at the upscale Westgate mall in Kenya’s capital on Saturday, killing at least 22 people and wounding dozens more, a Red Cross official and witnesses said.

The Qatar-based news network Al-Jazeera said the Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Reuters.

Stunned, injured shoppers escape Kenyan mall

Description: Stunned, injured shoppers escape Kenyan mall
2 hr ago 1:08 Views: 12k
The U.S. State Department said it had reports that American citizens were injured in the attack, and it condemned the shooting as a “senseless act of violence.”
“The U.S. Embassy is actively reaching out to provide assistance,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement. She declined to give details of the Americans injured citing privacy considerations.
Kenyan military and police surrounded the mall, which had been hosting a children’s day event, and helicopters flew overhead, the Associated Press reported. Gunmen remained inside hours after the attack, although firing subsided.
People continued to trickle out from hiding places within the mall, which is frequented by expatriates and rich Kenyans in Nairobi’s affluent Westlands neighborhood. It was not immediately known how many people remained inside, and whether they were still alive.
Earlier in the day mall guards used shopping carts to wheel out wounded children, as others emerged crying or clutching their kids.
The death toll is expected to rise, said Kenya Red Cross official Abbas Gullet. Some reports put the death toll at 25 or 30.
“We are treating this as a terrorist attack,” said police chief Benson Kibue, adding that there are likely no more than 10 attackers involved. Police did not say what group was responsible for the attack.
Photo gallery: Terrorists open fire at Nairobi mall (graphic content)
Somali’s Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, vowed in late 2011 to carry out a large-scale attack in Nairobi in retaliation for Kenya sending troops into Somalia to fight the insurgents.
Off duty Sgt. Major Frank Mugungu said Saturday that he saw four male attackers and one female, and that he could clearly identify one of the gunmen as a Somali, though he could not identify the rest.
The Westgate mall, with shops like Nike, adidas and Bose, has Israeli ownership, and security experts have in the past identified the mall as a possible terror target in Nairobi.
The gunmen announced that non-Muslims would be targeted, said Elijah Kamau, who was at the mall at the time of the midday attack.
“The gunmen told Muslims to stand up and leave. They were safe, and non-Muslims would be targeted,” he said.
Description: Kenya mall attackReuters: Goran Tomasevic
Women carrying children run for safety as armed police hunt gunmen who went on a shooting spree in Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi Sept. 21, 2013.
Jay Patel, who sought cover on an upper floor in the mall when shooting began, said that when he looked out of a window onto the upper parking deck of the mall he saw the gunmen with a group of people.
Patel said that as the attackers were talking, some of the people stood up and left and the others were shot.

Nairobi mall shooting may be “terrorist attack” – government

Description: Nairobi mall shooting may be 'terrorist attack' - government
1 hr ago 0:29 Views: 9 Description: Reuters
The gunmen carried AK-47s and wore vests with hand grenades on them, said Manish Turohit, 18, who hid in a parking garage for two hours.
“They just came in and threw a grenade. We were running and they opened fire. They were shouting and firing,” he said after marching out of the mall in a line of 15 people who all held their hands in the air, in an apparent attempt to not be shot.
Rob Vandijk, who works at the Dutch embassy, said he was eating at a restaurant inside the mall when attackers lobbed hand grenades inside the building. He said gunfire then burst out and people screamed as they dropped to the ground.
It appears the attack began at the outdoor seating area of Artcaffe at the front of the mall, witnesses said.
Patrick Kuria, an employee at Artcaffe, said: “We started by hearing gunshots downstairs and outside. Later we heard them come inside. We took cover. Then we saw two gunmen wearing black turbans. I saw them shoot.”
Description: Kenya mall shootingReuters: Goran Tomasevic
Police take cover outside Westgate shopping centre where gunmen went on a shooting spree in Nairobi Sept. 21, 2013.
Some people were shot at the entrance to the mall after volleys of gunfire moved outside and a standoff with police began. Ambulances continued to stream in and out of the mall area, ferrying the wounded who gradually emerged from hiding inside the mall.
A local hospital was overwhelmed with the number of wounded being brought in hours after the attack, so they had to divert them to a second facility.
The United Nations secretary-general’s office said that Ban Ki-moon has spoken with President Uhuru Kenyatta and expressed his concern. Meanwhile, Britain’s Foreign Office urged British nationals to avoid the area, saying it is “urgently looking into” the incident and ready to provide consular assistance in case any British are involved.
Kenya suffered a spate of grenade attacks that killed more than 60 people from October 2011 to March 2013 after al-Shabab threatened attacks. Police attributed the attacks to sympathizers of al-Shabab in Kenya.
Authorities said they have thwarted other large-scale attacks targeting public spaces. Kenyan police said in September 2012 that they disrupted a major terrorist attack in its final stages of planning, arresting two people with explosive devices and a cache of weapons and ammunition.
Anti-terror Police Unit boss Boniface Mwaniki said vests found were similar to those used in attacks that killed 76 people in Uganda who gathered to watch the soccer World Cup finals on TV in July 2010. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for those bombings, saying the attack was in retaliation for Uganda’s participation in the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
In January 2012, Kenya said it had thwarted attempted attacks by al-Shabab over Christmas and the New Year.
Description: Kenya mall shootingReuters: Goran Tomasevic

People scramble for safety as armed police hunt gunmen who went on a shooting spree at Westgate shopping center in Nairobi, Sept. 21, 2013.

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September 5, 2013

Islamist takeover of a south Egypt town leaves Christians in fear

DALGA, Egypt (AP) — The Coptic Orthodox priest would only talk to his visitor after hiding from the watchful eyes of the bearded Muslim outside, who sported a pistol bulging from under his robe.

So Father Yoannis moved behind a wall in the charred skeleton of an ancient monastery to describe how it was torched by Islamists and then looted when they took over this southern Egyptian town following the ouster of the country’s president.

“The fire in the monastery burned intermittently for three days. The looting continued for a week. At the end, not a wire or an electric switch is left,” Yoannis told The Associated Press. The monastery’s 1,600-year-old underground chapel was stripped of ancient icons and the ground was dug up on the belief that a treasure was buried there.

“Even the remains of ancient and revered saints were disturbed and thrown around,” he said.

A town of some 120,000 — including 20,000 Christians — Dalga has been outside government control since hard-line supporters of the Islamist Mohammed Morsi drove out police and occupied their station on July 3, the day Egypt’s military chief removed the president in a popularly supported coup. It was part of a wave of attacks in the southern Minya province that targeted Christians, their homes and businesses.

Since then, the radicals have imposed their grip on Dalga, twice driving off attempts by the army to send in armored personnel carriers by showering them with gunfire.

Their hold points to the power of hard-line Islamists in southern Egypt even after Morsi’s removal — and their determination to defy the military-backed leadership that has replaced him.

With the army and police already fighting a burgeoning militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, there are growing signs that a second insurgency could erupt in the south — particularly in Minya and Assiut provinces, both Islamist strongholds and both home to Egypt’s two largest Christian communities.

The takeover of Dalga has been disastrous for the Christian community in the town, located 270 kilometers (160 miles) south of Cairo in Minya, on the edge of the Nile Valley near the cliffs that mark the start of the desert.

In the initial burst of violence, the town’s only Catholic church was ransacked and set ablaze, like the Monastery of the Virgin Mary and St. Abraam. The Anglican church was looted.

Some 40 Christian families have fled Dalga since, Yoannis said. Nearly 40 Christian-owned homes and stores have been attacked by Islamists, according to local Minya activists. Bandits from the nearby deserts joined the looting and burning, they said. To ensure the spread of fear, the attackers torched houses in all Christian neighborhoods, not just in one or two.

Among the homes torched was that of Father Angelos, an 80-year-old Orthodox priest who lives close to the monastery. Yoannis’ home was spared a similar fate by his Muslim neighbors. A 60-year-old Christian who fired from his roof to ward off a mob was dragged down and killed, the activists said.

“Even if we had firearms, we would be reluctant to use them,” said Yoannis. “We cannot take a life. Firing in the air may be our limit.”

Those who remain pay armed Muslim neighbors to protect them. Yoannis said his brother paid with a cow and a water buffalo. Most Christian businesses have been closed for weeks.

Armed men can be seen in the streets, and nearly every day Islamists hold rallies at a stage outside the police station, demanding Morsi’s reinstatement.

Most Christians remain indoors as much as possible, particularly during the rallies. They say they are routinely insulted on the streets by Muslims, including children. Christian women stay home at all times, fearing harassment by the Islamists, according to multiple Christians who spoke to the AP. Most requested that their names not be published for fear of reprisals.

“The Copts in Dalga live in utter humiliation,” said local rights activist Ezzat Ibrahim. “They live in horror and cannot lead normal lives.”

None of the town’s churches held Mass for a month, until Wednesday, when one was held in one of the monastery’s two churches. About 25 attended, down from the usual 500 or more.

“They don’t want to see any Christian with any power, no matter how modest,” Yoannis said of the hard-liners now running Dalga. “They only want to see us poor without money, a trade or a business to be proud of.”

Like other Christians in town, he said police and authorities were helpless to intervene.

“Everyone keeps telling me that I should alert the police and the army,” he said. “As if I hadn’t done that already.”

At intervals, the 33-year-old father of three would stop talking, move carefully to the edge of a wall, stick his head out to check if someone was coming.

His big worry was the bearded Muslim at the gate, Saber Sarhan Askar.

Skinny with hawk-like hazelnut eyes, Askar is said by Dalga’s Christians to have taken part in the torching and looting of the monastery. Outside the monastery that day, Askar was telling priests he was there to protect it. But the orders he yelled to other priests left no doubt who was in charge.

“Bring us tea!” he barked at one priest. “I need something cold to drink!” he screamed at another soon after.

School teacher and part-time entrepreneur Kromer Ishaq fled Dalga a day after the Islamists took over. The Islamists already were accusing his father in a family blood feud — a charge that could prompt the killing of Ishaq. Then on the night of the takeover, Ishaq’s gold shop was broken into and looted.

The son of a wealthy family, Ishaq fled with his extended family all the way to the Nile Delta north of Cairo, where he is now looking for work.

“I used to employ people and now I’m looking for work. I once lived in a house I own and now I live in a rented apartment. You ask me what life is like? It’s like black tar,” Ishaq said by telephone.

Dalga is the most extreme example of Islamist power in Minya — no other towns are known to be under such extreme lockdown. But the province in general has seen a surge in Islamist violence since the coup against Morsi.

In the province, 35 churches have been attacked, including 19 completely gutted by fire. At least six Christian schools and five orphanages have been destroyed, along with five courthouses, seven police stations and six city council buildings. A museum in the city of Malawi was looted and ransacked.

On Aug. 11, policemen suspected of loyalty to Morsi stormed the provincial police headquarters in Minya city. They dragged out the province’s security chief and his top aide from their offices and ordered them both to leave the province. They did.

Minya was the epicenter of an Islamic militant insurgency against the rule of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in the 1980s and 1990s. It remains a stronghold of Islamists, including the extremist Gamaa Islamiya group. It also has the largest Christian community of any of Egypt’s 29 provinces — at 35 percent of Minya’s 4 million people, compared to around 10 percent nationwide.

Over Egypt’s past 2 ½ years of turmoil, Islamist strength has grown. Hundreds of jailed radicals who purportedly forswore violence — though not their hard-line ideology — were freed after Mubarak’s 2011 fall and given the freedom to recruit. The south has seen a flood of heavy weapons smuggled across the desert from neighboring Libya.

A top Interior Ministry official in Cairo said the Minya police force suffered large-scale infiltration by pro-Morsi Islamists. The local force is now under investigation by the ministry. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe was still undergoing.

The Minya security chief who fled the province, as well as two top aides, were replaced on Wednesday for what the Interior Ministry called the failure to maintain law and order.

In the security vacuum, it has been Christians largely paying the price.

Christian businessman Talaat Bassili recounted how on Aug. 15, dozens of men, some armed, stormed his home in the city of Malawi, not far from Dalga. For three hours, with no police or army in sight, the attackers made off with TV sets, washing machines, mobile phones, jewelry and cash.

The attackers descended on the house from the scaffoldings of a mosque next door. In footage from Bassili’s security camera, shown to AP, men in robes and boys in sandals try to force their way into the house, then finally blast away the lock with Kalashnikov assault rifles. Some loaded their loot into a donkey cart.

Later, the footage shows Bassili, his wife Nahed Samaan — in a nightgown and a house robe — and son Fady leaving to take refuge with a neighbor.

A week later, Bassili said a man called him on his mobile phone to ask whether he wanted to buy some of his stuff back. “I said no.”

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July 13, 2013

Wave of attacks on Copts and churches

Written by The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights

EIPR: authorities must take immediate action to protect citizens and houses of worship, bring perpetrators and inciters to justice

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) today warned about the gravity of sectarian violence and incitement seen in several governorates since the massive demonstrations and marches of 30 June. The way that state agencies, particularly the security apparatus, have dealt with these attacks is disturbing.

These agencies have acted slowly and have not performed their legally mandated roles, failing to intervene to protect citizens and their property despite prior knowledge of the charged atmosphere and despite their presence on the scene during attacks.

Sectarian violence in Nagaa Hassan in the Luxor governorate left four Copts dead and several homes torched and looted in the wake of the killing of a Muslim citizen. Police took no action to protect unarmed citizens although they repeatedly called on security to extract them from their homes, which were surrounded, and take them out of the village. An orthodox priest was also murdered in North Sinai, while the tense climate and incitement led churches in the area to close their doors and stop receiving worshippers.

Furthermore, some churches and Coptic-owned property came under assault starting on Wednesday evening, 3 July, following the statement by General Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi, minister of defense. Angry supporters of the deposed president, Mohamed Morsy, looted and torched a building belonging to the Catholic church in Dilga in the Minya governorate, also looting the Islah Church in the same village, terrorizing local Copts and attacking their homes. One citizen was killed and several injured in the events; other governorates saw less severe attacks.

In the same context, unknown assailants opened fire on the Mar Mina Church in the Port Said governorate, injuring two citizens. In Marsa Matrouh, angry demonstrators destroyed parts of the main door and windows of the Church of the Virgin before security forces were able to disperse them.

“Copts are paying the price of the inflammatory rhetoric against them coming from some Islamist leaders and supporters of the former president, who accuse Coptic spiritual leaders of conspiring to foment army intervention to remove Dr. Morsy. Incendiary speeches indicate that Islamist leaders believe Copts were heavily involved in the anti-Morsy protests,” said Ishak Ibrahim, EIPR officer for freedom of religion and belief. “At the same time, Copts are paying a tax to exercise their constitutional rights and take part in political life as equal citizens like any other. What is disturbing is the failure of the security apparatus to act—which at times looks like collusion—to protect citizens and their property who are being targeted on the basis of their religion.”

The EIPR is troubled by state institutions’ disregard for these incidents and their failure to deal decisively with the perpetrators and those inciting them. It is also greatly disturbed by their failure to intervene to prevent any escalation. This helps to perpetuate the attacks, especially considering that flyers were and continue to be distributed in several provinces inciting against Copts and churches.

The EIPR asked the transitional administration to take swift action to protect Egyptians and end inflammatory campaigns targeting citizens on the basis of religion. The authorities should exercise their prerogatives under the constitutional declaration issued by the interim president, Articles 4, 7 and 11 of which uphold equality before the law, freedom of belief and worship and the sanctity of private property.

The EIPR also asked the Office of the Public Prosecutor to launch investigations, carry out on-site surveys and take the statements of victims, their families and witnesses, in order to identify those responsible and prosecute them before their natural judge. The Public Prosecutor should also investigate the role of the police in these events and their failure to protect citizens and prevent further attacks, releasing its findings to the public to clarify the gravity of the situation.

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June 10, 2013

Seven Christians injured in explosion in Kenya church

Kenyan police announced that seven people were injured in an explosion inside a church in Mombasa, on Monday, after two people riding a motorcycle threw a bomb inside the church.

According to Agency France Presse, Aggrey Addoli, police chief in Mombasa, said, “The attack happened during prayers in the church, and the wounded were transferred to a hospital.”

Kenyan authorities said “Islamic youth movements” are likely behind this event, after the Kenyan military invaded southern Somalia in 2011 to hunt down extremists linked to Al-Qaeda.

Kenya was among one of the 50 countries where Christians are most persecuted, according to Open Doors 2012 report.

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May 20, 2013

Huge fire devours Virgin Mary Church and neighboring houses in Sohag, Egypt

Sohag (Egypt), 20 May /MCN/ – by Nader Shukri
A huge fire broke out late Sunday night in the church of the Virgin Mary in Tema, Sohag [Upper Egypt], and resulted in significant losses in the church building due to fire trucks’ delayed arrival.

The fire also destroyed the houses neighboring the church.

All attempts by citizens to control the fire, which caused some injuries from severe smoke inhalation, failed.

The fire’s cause has yet to be determined.

Police and the criminal investigation department moved to the scene to inspect the site after the fire was extinguished on Monday. An accurate estimate of losses has not been carried out so far due to power outage.

The incident has not result in deaths and the number of injured people, either those who received treatment on-site or those who were transferred to the hospital as a result of smoke inhalation or burns, has not been determined yet.

For his part, Fr. Paul Samaan, priest of the church, said he received a telephone call from Copts near the church on the outbreak of fire at 11.30 p.m. on Sunday.

“The fire was tremendous, as the flames rapidly devoured the wooden roofs and furniture of the church which dates back to 1935,” Fr. Samaan said in exclusive remarks to MCN.

“The church is an ancient two-story building with some buildings for services. This resulted in heavy losses to the church’s building.”

According to Fr. Samaan, eight fire trucks arrived at the scene to control the blaze, which moved to the Coptic homes adjacent to the church. Although the trucks arrived late, the fighters managed to control the fire by Monday morning.

He added that the fire broke out on all sides of the church at once.

Fr. Samaan said they obtained a preliminary approval before the revolution to rebuild the church, but this approval was suspended after the 25 January. He pointed out that they have been trying to obtain a license to rebuild the church but to no avail.

Losses have not been fully estimated due to the smoke continuing to rise from the building. The number of homes affected by the fire has not also been calculated.

Fr. Samaan met with security agencies at 4.30 a.m. to find out the reasons behind the fire and discuss the implications of the situation.

It is worth mentioning that on flier was distributed in Tema on 19 December 2012, which threatened the death of Christians and burning of churches.

The publication read: “To the Crusaders of Tema and sons of the traitor Tawadros, you who announced war on Islam and began with insulting the Prophet. You conspired against the Islamic president and mobilized people to prevent the application of Sharia and the repeal of Article II. Therefore, your churches, monasteries and priests will be a target to our attacks in case we discover these churches or any Christian schools are built without licenses, or if any Christian disdains the divine majesty, Prophet Muhammad, his Companions or the Islamic sanctities.”

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May 18, 2013

One dead as thousands of Muslims storm the Al-Azraa Church during attacks on Coptic Christians

Al-Abram reported:
One person has died and dozens injured in clashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians in Egypt’s north coast city of Alexandria, the Ahram Arabic news website reported.
Clashes erupted Friday night in Al-Geish Street in western Alexandria, after a fight started between two young men, one Copt and the other Muslim, when the Copt allegedly sexually harassed the latter’s sister. The parties involved in the fight reportedly used Molotov cocktails and machine guns.

The incident left one person, Sherif Sedki Saad, dead by a heart-attack during the clashes, and dozens others injured.

Nasser El-Abd, Alexandria’s investigations director, said that Central Security Forces prevented the crowds from storming into Al-Azraa Church in Al-Geish Street where clashes have been taking place. Security forces have also spread in the area to restore order.
According to Reuters, police arrested eight people after two hours of fighting.
The situation is currently reported to be calm in the area.

This was the second attack this week on a Christian Church in Egypt.

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May 12, 2013

Al-Khobar Saudi Arabia sentenced a Lebanese citizen to six years in prison and 300 whip lashes on charges of forcing a Saudi girl to convert to Christianity helping her escape.

Sky News reported the same court sentenced another Saudi national to two years in prison and 200 lashes on the grounds of facilitating the smuggling of a girl who was working at the same insurance company as the defendants.

The girl’s case, which is known as the “Khobar girl”, stirred public opinion in the conservative kingdom, which applies Sharia law.

The girl is currently in the custody of a human rights organization in Sweden, according to Saudi newspapers, with conflicting information about the truth behind her conversion to Christianity.

She appeared in a video confirming her conversion to Christianity and her escape from the kingdom.

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May 5, 2013

Over 1,000 Christians killed in Nigeria since 2012

Abuja (Nigeria), 7 May /MCN/

A weekend of violence in Nigeria has left the country’s Christians mourning, writes BosNewsLife’s Africa Service.

Since 2012, it is reported that over a thousand Christians have been killed in Nigeria, a nation with the “highest known Christian death toll.”

In the most recent round of violence, clashes broke out last Friday between Christians and Muslims at a funeral in the state of Taraba, leaving 39 people dead.

The clashes began when a funeral procession for a Christian leader passed through a Muslim area of Wukari.

“The clashes came a day after a penal was set up to investigate sectarian clashes in February,” BosNewsLife writes.

Last month alone, nearly 200 people were killed in the town of Baga, in northern Nigeria, when the military attempted to conquer Islamist group Boko Haram.

The military, however, claimed only 37 people died in the violence.
According to rights activits, writes BosNewsLife, Boko Haram and other Islamic militants in Nigeria have encouraged anti-Christian violence.

“They are so radical they don’t even spare Muslims,” said Mark Lipdo, program coordinator for the Stefanos Foundation. “If Muslims are sympathetic to any cause at all … if they are sympathetic to the Christians cause, or the minorities cause, they are also termed as infidels,” Lipdo told the U.S-based Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN).

According to CBN figures, cose to 900 Christians were killed in Nigeria last year. This year, 120 Nigerian Christians have been killed by Islamist militants.

“Tensions have been rising between Nigerian Muslims, who mainly live in the north, and Christians who mostly live in the south along with followers of traditional animist religions,” BosNewsLife explains.

Thousands of people have been forced to flee from their homes because of the violence carried out by Boko Haram.

“Boko Haram, which means ‘Western education is sinful’, seeks to establish a strict Islamic state and has repeatedly warned Christians to leave northern areas,” BosNewsLife says.

Lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe told BosNewsLife that Nigeria may be on the brink of a full-out religious war.

“Because of the massive Christian [and] Muslim population in Nigeria, there is no country on Earth that is as rich and as ready for a religious war. All the elements, all of the ingredients are there,” Ogebe told BosNewsLife.

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April 8, 2013

Cairo clashes at St Mark’s Coptic Cathedral after funerals

Written by Aleem Maqbool
Monday, 08 April 2013
BBC News

One person has been killed in clashes outside Cairo’s main cathedral following the funerals of four Coptic Christians killed in religious violence on Thursday.
Mourners leaving St Mark’s Cathedral clashed with local residents.

Police fired tear gas to break up the violence. More than 80 people were injured, the state news agency said.

The health ministry said one Christian man was killed. The ambulance service said he was struck with birdshot.

Mourners inside the church had earlier chanted slogans against Egypt’s Islamist President, Mohammed Morsi.

Witnesses told local TV stations that the violence started when a mob attacked mourners as they exited the cathedral, pelting them with stones and petrol bombs. There was initially little police presence.

The Christians responded by throwing stones back, the witnesses said, until police arrived and attempted to quell the unrest, firing tear gas into the cathedral compound.
Appeals for calm

Egypt’s state news agency said the streets around the cathedral had seen “on-and-off” clashes between Christians and “unidentified persons”.

It said a fire had started in a building adjacent to the cathedral, but the blaze had since been extinguished.

It also said President Morsi had denounced the violence in a phone call to the head of the Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Christian church.

“Any attack against the cathedral is like an attack against me personally,” he was reported as saying.

Pope Tawadros, who only took office in November, appealed for calm.

The political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), posted a statement on its Facebook page stressing its “utter rejection and condemnation of violence”.

It urged both sides “not to respond to systematic provocations” or “ploys that target the homeland”, but did not say who might be responsible for inciting the violence.

Egypt’s minority of Coptic Christians, who make up about 10% of the population, have accused the government of failing to protect them, following the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Clashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians have been seen numerous times since then, but this weekend’s violence was the worst seen in several months.
Gun battle

Police said five deaths – four Copts and one Muslim – occurred on Saturday in Khosous, about 10 miles (15km) north of Cairo, after inflammatory symbols were drawn on an Islamic institute, provoking an argument.

The dispute escalated into a gun battle between Christian and Muslim residents, while Christian-owned shops were also attacked.

Violence there flared again on Sunday, with police reporting more sectarian fighting on the streets and clashes between police and youths.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s top judicial body has urged the chief prosecutor appointed by Mr Morsi to step down.

Talaat Abdullah, who was named to the post by President Morsi in December, has provoked anger by demanding the arrest of several high-profile political activists.

In a statement on Sunday, Egypt’s Supreme Judiciary Council urged Mr Abdullah to return to his previous job as a judge.

Last week a court annulled the presidential decree that appointed him, but Mr Abdullah continued to carry out his duties, including issuing arrest warrants for activists accused of insulting President Morsi and Islam.

Discontent with the government has also spread to the economy. Unemployment is continuing to rise and industrial action has become commonplace.

On Sunday Egypt’s railways were brought to a standstill after train drivers went on strike, demanding salary rises and the payment of other benefits.

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March 27, 2013

Italy’s Famous Catholic Convert From Islam Leaves the Catholic Church

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Whatever his frustrations with the public stance of the Church on issues that affect Italy’s national interests, matters upon which the faithful can legitimately argue since they largely involve areas of political prudence, it seems that Magdi Allam has traded in his Catholic heritage for a mess of Italian right-wing, nationalistic porridge.

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) – Five years ago, in a highly-publicized event, Magdi Cristiano Allam, an Egyptian-born Muslim, naturalized Italian citizen, former contributor to Manifesto and Repubblica, and vice-director of the Corriere della Sera, left Islam and converted to Catholicism.  The event received significant press coverage because this notable convert was baptized by then-Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Basilica during the Easter Vigil on March 22, 2008.

Allam was instructed in the Catholic doctrine by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, head of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, and was sponsored by Maurizio Lupi, a high-ranking member of the Forza Italia party, a political party that was founded by Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister.  You’d have thought with that behind him, the Faith would have stuck.

Unfortunately, after five years as a Catholic, Allam has announced in a very public way that he has left the Catholic Church. “I believe in Jesus . . . . but I no longer believe in the Church,” he wrote in an editorial in the Italian daily Il Giornale.

“My conversion to Catholicism, which came at the hands of Benedict XVI during the Easter Vigil on March 22, 2008,” Allam explains in the Monday-edition of the right-wing Milan daily newspaper Il Giornale, “I now consider over, in line with the end of his pontificate.”

While he describes his decision as “extremely painful,” he attributes the decision to a variety of factors, all of which he addresses in his editorial.

A number of things apparently triggered Allam’s decision.  The most important and overriding reason in Allam’s view was the Church’s accommodating policies regarding Islam, a position which is resulting he says in practical dhimmitude and impairing the proclamation of the Gospel.

Other reasons include the Church’s anti-national positions regarding immigration which hamper the Italian desire to preserve their culture from foreign elements caused by illegal immigration. Also in play is what Allam calls the recent “papalotry” arising from out of the recent resignation of Benedict XVI and the election of Pope Francis. Finally, Allam appears to have rejected some of the Church’s teachings on moral theology and ecclesiastical disciplines.

As Allam explains it: “The thing that drove me away from the Church more than any other factor was religious relativism, in particular the legitimization of Islam as a true religion.”  In Allam’s view, Islam is an “intrinsically violent ideology,” and does not deserve the respect that it is getting from those responsible for fashioning the Church’s public stance regarding Islam including the papacy and the curia.

It is an error of first proportion to legitimize even implicitly Islam as a true religion where “Allah is a true God, and Muhammad a true prophet, the Qur’an a sacred text, and mosques as places of worship.”  This, he says, is nothing less than “genuine suicidal folly” and a practical relativism.

As examples of this excessive accommodation, Allam pointed to Blessed John Paul II’s controversial kissing of the Qur’an, and Benedict XVI’s placing his hand on the Qur’an while facing Mecca when praying in the Blue Mosque in Instanbul.

It is clear to Allam that this sort of accommodation will increase under Pope Francis, who spoke early in his pontificate about the Muslims “who adore the one God, living and merciful,” and who has announced that he looks forward to continuing dialogue especially with Islam.

While the Church speaks–in the words of Benedict XVI–of the “dictatorship of relativism,” Allam observed, “the truth is that the Church is, from a practical [literally, physiological] perspective, relativist (fisiologicamente relativista).”

Moreover, in Allam’s view, the Church’s message against the dictatorship of relativism and in favor of a confident Christian message is encumbered by the fact that it recognizes and promotes modern secular society, with its tolerant acceptance of multiculturalism, itself a relativistic secular social creed.

Additionally, he complains that the Church has taken a globalist and therefore anti-nationalistic, pro-immigration, and hence anti-Italian ideology.  As a result of these positions, the Church in Allam’s view, has pitted herself against the common good of nation states, in particularly–as far as Allam is concerned — Italy.

“I am opposed to globalism,” Allam stated, “which opens unconditional national borders based on the principle that humanity as a whole must be conceived as brothers and sisters, that the whole world should be viewed as a single land available to all mankind.”

Against such a view, Allam stated that he was “convinced that the indigenous people should be entitled to enjoy the right and the duty to preserve their culture and their heritage,” a position the Church has not only not publicly aligned itself with, but has placed itself in practical opposition to.

“I am opposed to that sort of doing good that makes the Church stand as the highest protector of immigrants, including and especially illegal immigrants,” Allam wrote.  “I am for the ordering society in accordance with rules, and the first rule is that in Italy we must first ensure the good of the Italians,” thus “correctly applying the exhortation of Jesus to ‘love your neighbor as you love yourself.'” Charity for Allam begins at home and embraces Italians first and aliens second.

In Allam’s view, Islam has to be rigorously opposed as “incompatible with our civilization and fundamental human rights,” which are based upon Christian values.  It is of the highest imperative to have a more steeled resolve against Islam.  “I am more convinced than ever,” Allam wrote, “that Europe will end up being subjugated to Islam just like what happened beginning in the seventh century on the other side of the Mediterranean.”

His reference, of course, is to the Islamic conquest of the Middle East and Northern African, including such Christian centers such as Damascus, Antioch, and Alexandria.  Magdi Allam is not the only one who has expressed such concern.

Magdi Allam also complained of what he characterized as “papalotry” arising from an undue and excessive attachment to the person of the Pope which places him above criticism for practical decisions which do not have anything to do with his teachings ex cathedra.

Finally, it appears that Allam has trouble with some of the Church’s disciplines and moral teachings.  In his article, he accuses the Church as being “practically tempted” (fisiologicamente tentata) by evil, pointing to its public positions regarding morality which “requires behaviors that are in conflict with human nature, such as priestly celibacy, abstaining from sexual relations outside of marriage, the indissolubility of marriage, in addition to the temptation of money.”  This cryptic comment suggests that he rejects the Church’s positions on the disciplinary or moral matters.

“I will continue to believe in Jesus, whom I have always loved and will continue to identify with Christianity as the civilization that more than any other brings man closer to God who chose to become man.”  The Jesus Allam loves is not clearly the Jesus as the Church sees him, but Jesus as Allam sees him.

It appears that Allam has forgotten a basic tenet of Catholicism and traditional, at least traditional Western, Christianity: ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia; ubi ecclesia, ibi Christi est.  Where Peter is, there is the Church.  Where the Church is, there is Christ.

There are hundreds of gates into the Church observed G. K. Chesterton.  Unfortunately, there are hundreds of gates out, as well.  We can always come up with some grievance to excuse our lack of fidelity, to rationalize our loss of Faith, to justify our disobedience to the Lord.

Whatever his frustrations with the public stance of the Church on issues that affect Italy’s national interests, matters upon which the faithful can legitimately argue and even differ with the hierarchy since they largely involve areas of political prudence, it seems that Allam has traded in his Catholic heritage for a mess of Italian right-wing, nationalistic pottage.

Bad move, Magdi.  Bad move.  It’s not smart to join the ranks of Esau and go into the wilderness alone.  I’d rather wrestle with God like Jacob and even put up with the treason of the clerics, so long as I always keep the Faith and never break ranks from the Body of Christ.  I shall pray for you and for your return.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention:
The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.

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February 12, 2013

Jihad murder in New Jersey? Coptic Christians beheaded, hands cut off

Why did he cut off their hands? New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said: “We allege that the defendant was ruthless and calculating in the manner in which he carried out the killings and attempted to prevent identification of the victims by cutting off their heads and hands before burying their bodies.”

That may be, but the story below notes that the victims were Coptic Christians, and “privately some wonder if it had something to do with the victims’ religion.” So apparently Yusuf Ibrahim is not himself a Copt, but a Muslim. Could then, the cutting of the heads and hands have had something to do with this Qur’an passage? “When thy Lord was revealing to the angels, ‘I am with you; so confirm the believers. I shall cast into the unbelievers’ hearts terror; so smite above the necks, and smite every finger of them!” — Qur’an 8:12
It is not clear what was going on here, and whether these murders were Yusuf Ibrahim’s jihad — and given how clueless and/or complicit the mainstream media is, we may never know.

“Gruesome double murder, men decapitated,” from WABC, February 11 (thanks to K.):
JERSEY CITY (WABC) — There’s a gruesome double murder mystery in New Jersey.
Police say who did it’s not a mystery because someone is under arrest but the mystery is why the accused killer cut of two men’s heads and hands.

The victims are reportedly from Jersey City, but their remains were found buried in a town southwest of Philadelphia.

On the streets of Jersey City along Bergen Avenue, to the naked eye it’s not obvious.
But to members of the close knit Coptic Orthodox church the pain is real.

“It’s a shock, something like this doesn’t happen to people like that,” a resident said.
Now they know two members of the church have been brutally murdered.
But no one in this community seems to know why.

“It was crazy what happened to these two. Do they deserve it? No. Was it expected? Never. And it’s just sad,” a resident said.

The two victims were found buried in a back yard in Buena Vista, New Jersey last Thursday.

Monday, police announced an arrest.

28-year-old Yusuf Ibrahim is in custody.

Investigators say Ibrahim shot and killed the victims, severed their heads and hands, and buried the remains at a Buena Vista house.

Back in Jersey City, friends of the victims are praying that police will have the answers to the questions that now haunt them.

Privately some wonder if it had something to do with the victims’ religion.

“I leave it for the police and the investigation,” said Samy Hohareb, the victim’s friend.
So far, police have not revealed a motive for the grisly murders as the suspect sits behind bars, waiting for his day in court.

Posted by Robert on February 12, 2013 12:21 PM

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February 11, 2013

Shock claim: Obama picks Muslim for CIA chief

Former FBI expert claims John Brennan converted to Islam

By  Zahn

john brennan
One of the FBI’s former top experts on Islam has announced that Obama’s pick to head the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, converted to Islam years ago in Saudi Arabia. As WND has reported, former FBI Islam expert John Guandolo has long warned the federal government is being infiltrated by members of the radical Muslim Brotherhood. But Guandolo now warns that by appointing Brennan to CIA director, Obama has not only chosen a man “naïve” to these infiltrations, but also picked a candidate who is himself a Muslim.

“Brennan did convert to Islam when he served in official capacity on behalf of the United States in Saudi Arabia,” Guandolo told interviewer and radio host Tom Trento. “That fact alone is not what’s most disturbing,” Guandolo continued. “His conversion to Islam culminated a counter-intelligence operation against him to recruit him. The fact that foreign intelligence service operatives recruited Brennan when he was in a very sensitive and senior U.S. government position in a foreign country means that he’s either a traitor…[or] he’s unable to discern and understand how to function in those kinds of environments, which makes him completely unfit to be Central Intelligence director.” Brennan did indeed serve as CIA station chief in Riyadh in the 1990s and today holds the official title of Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism. On Jan. 7, Obama nominated Brennan as the next director of the CIA, though he has yet to be confirmed.

“Are you kidding me?” Trento balked at Guandolo’s allegations. “The head of the CIA is a Muslim? For real? Are you sure?” “Yes,” asserted Guandolo. “The facts confirmed by U.S. government officials who were also in Saudi Arabia at the time John Brennan was serving there and have direct knowledge. These men who work in very trusted positions, were direct witnesses to his growing relationship with individuals who worked for the Saudi government and others, and they witnessed his conversion to Islam.” A former Marine and combat veteran, Guandolo worked for eight years in the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division as a “subject matter expert” in the Muslim Brotherhood and the global spread of Islamism. Guandolo boasts he created the Bureau’s first counter-terrorism training/education program and twice received United States Attorney’s Awards for investigative intelligence. Guandolo is also one of the authors of the Center for Security Policy’s Team B II report,
“Shariah: The Threat to America.” Read report yourself in paperback, available in the WND Superstore!
“My contention is that [Brennan] is wholly unfit for government service in any national security capacity, and that would specifically make him unfit to be the director of Central Intelligence,” Guandolo told Trento. Guandolo then broke down a three-part argument against Brennan’s confirmation. “First, he’s interwoven his life professionally and personally with individuals we know are terrorists,” Guandolo asserted. “He’s overseen, approved and encouraged others to bring known leaders of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood into the government in positions to advise the U.S. government on counter-terrorism strategy as well as the overall ‘war on terror.’” Second, Guandolo asserted, Brennan has “proven through his own comments publicly that he is clueless and grossly ignorant of Al-Qaida’s strategy.

“Third and finally, which some would say is most disturbing, is that Brennan did convert to Islam,” Guandolo said, but stressed, “I think the [larger] news is that conversion culminates the work of Saudi Arabians who worked for the Saudi Government – and that makes John Brennan just naïve, foolish, dangerously ignorant and totally unfit for this position. “That in and of itself…shouldn’t shock people,” Guandolo continued. “The Saudis have the clip where Brennan specifically says during a public address that he’s learned and structured his understanding and his ‘worldview’ in large part from Islam. Surely, it shouldn’t be a large leap to imagine his Islam conversion. Grandolo’s discussion with Trento about Brennan’s conversion, and Brennan’s speech in which he discusses how Islam shaped his “worldview, and Trento’s interview with Guandolo, can be seen below: Discover how deep the danger of Islamism in the U.S. goes, from the research of policy and intelligence experts themselves, with “Shariah: The Threat to America.”

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January 30, 2013

Egypt court slaps alleged makers of anti-Islam film with death sentences

US Pastor Terry Jones and seven Copts living abroad receive maximum punishment in Egypt court – in absentia – for alleged involvement in production of anti-Islam film that led to riots last year
Ahram Online, Tuesday 29 Jan 2013

A Cairo Criminal Court slapped seven Coptic expatriates with death sentences and American pastor Terry Jones with a five-year jail term for their alleged roles in the production last year of a short film that defames the Islamic faith, German news agency DPA reported on Tuesday. All the defendants were tried in absentia.
The court ruled the film in question, dubbed ‘The Innocence of Muslims,’ to be defamatory to Islam and the Prophet Mohammed and a potential threat to Egypt’s national unity.
The seven convicted Coptic expatriates were: Maurice Sadiq Gerges, founder of a US-based Coptic association; Morkos Aziz, a US-based television presenter; Fekry Abdul-Messih, a US-based doctor; Nabil Adib, media coordinator for another US-based association; Nahid Metwally, an Australia-based doctor; Egyptian-born Copt Mark Baccil Youssef (charged with producing the film); and Nader Farid, a commerce graduate.
On 18 November, Egypt’s State Security Court referred the requested death sentences to Egypt’s Grand Mufti for his approval, in accordance with Egyptian law. Gerges and Jones, the latter of whom is known for his public burnings of the Quran, are believed to have been involved in promoting the film but not in its production, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal.

The film sparked angry protests throughout much of the Islamic world, including Egypt and Libya, when it appeared online in September.

Egypt-based Coptic schoolteacher Bishoy Kamel was subsequently sentenced to six years in prison for sharing the film on Facebook.

Egyptian Coptic activist Alber Saber, was released on bail last month after spending three months in detention in Egypt for also sharing the film online.

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January 23, 2013

The struggle between Muslims and Catholics in Nigeria

      Statement by Father Juan Carlos Martos cmf

 

    Secretariat of PV Clarettiani Missionaries

“This is a brutal example of how far the struggle between muslims and catholics in Nigeria has reached.

Muslims are determined to impose their ‘religion’ all over Africa as well as in other continents and countries of the world. Islam has but one goal: rule the world at any cost!”

“And where are the International Human Rights Organizations?
Christians are burnt alive in Nigeria: a horrific Holocaust right in front of International indifference! As denounced by Father Juan Carlos Martos, on behalf of the Missionari Clarettiani, via del Sacro Cuore di Maria, Rome, Italy.”

“By publishing this graphic document on Facebook, I have intended to make the world aware of certain terrible events totally ignored or minimized by the mainstream media; an authentic genocide so cruel and inhuman only comparable with the most hateful and vile acts in the nazi extermination camps.”

“To my great surprise, Facebook has criticized me for the publication of this graphic document as a proof of the Holocaust that Christians have been suffering in Nigeria in the last ten years. According to Facebook’s Security policy of the ‘social’ Network, this photo has been classified as ‘pornographic’, ‘violent’ or ‘inappropriate’ and hence I was disallowed to publish any picture for a week. And I was threatened drastic measures if I insist publishing any document that prove the terrible violations of Human Rights in Nigeria.

This attitude by the (Spanish) Facebook Management is an attack to the freedom of expression as much as a shameful insult to the 500 victims (only in this horrible episode) slaughtered by islamic terror only for being christian.”

“I thought that this social network, originated in the United States, would not bend its knees in front of terror. Especially, when still healing their wounds suffered in the gruesome 9/11 attack, just as our own 3/11 at Madrid railway station, all innocent victims of the wild fury and insanity of islamic terror.”

“This seems even more unacceptable in Spain, a Democratic state, where the rights of opinion, expression and religion are guaranteed by the Constitution (Art. 16 and 20), if there is an attempt to limit such rights, let alone through threats and coercion thus weakening their freedom of expression by condemning as “inappropriate” a graphic document (not a photomontage) which reflects a brutal reality in all its crudeness.”

“Contrarily, the Administrators of Facebook Spain should welcome this public protest advocating that such a barbarian act will never be replicated and that its perpetrators will be brought to justice. This is a right and duty of every citizen: a service to society, ultimate goal, I feel, of any network that defines itself as ‘social’.”

“Regrettably, if the murders continue, this is greatly because truth is always hidden to the sovereign people, so that they may not be aware and ‘disdained’ by it: complicit silence by the mainstream media leads to the indifference of the international political community facing this unspeakable Holocaust! Let alone the cowardice already rooted in the western world facing the islamic terror. A consequence of the stupid “Alliance of civilizations”: another regrettable incident of our former Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero.”

“Can you imagine the reaction of the islamic terrorist organization in the (impossible) case of a massacre of muslims in a mosque, by the hands of christian terrorists? And how widely would our media cover and condemn the crime and the criminals??”

“Therefore, from this modest blog, I ask a favor from all people who are reading me: please distribute this photo and its comments using all the media you have. If only for commemorating these martyrs since, unfortunately, Facebook seems to be on the side of the executioners by preventing the publication of such tragic events.”

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January 19, 2013

EGYPT
Upper Egypt, thousands of Islamic extremists attack a Christian village

The second case in less than a week. The attack took place yesterday in el-Marashda, predominantly Christian, in the province of Quena (Upper Egypt). Muslims burned at least six homes of Coptic Christians and tried to demolish the local church. Wrath unleashed at the alleged rape of a Muslim girl by a Christian. Village Iman calls on youth to protect Christian shops.

Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) – More attacks against the Coptic minority in Upper Egypt. A thousand Muslims attacked the predominantly Christian village of el-Marashda (province of Quena, Upper Egypt). Incited by outside religious authorities, extremists burned down homes and shops and tried to demolish the local church. The attack, which took place yesterday, was interrupted by the arrival of the police, who arrested 10 Muslims. Since yesterday evening, a crowd of radical Islamic hav eblocked access to the city, to prevent the police from taking those arrested away. The police responded by firing tear gas. For safety, the authorities ordered the Christian population not to leave their homes and the local parish has canceled the celebrations for the Coptic Orthodox epiphany. In solidarity with christian community, the Iman of the village calls on muslim youth to protect Christian shops.

Anba Kyrollos, Coptic Orthodox bishop of Nag Hammadi, said the group of extremists, including many Salafis, attacked the village in revenge for a Christian accused of abusing a Muslim girl of 6. The rumors about the pedophilia case had emerged in recent days, sparking tension between the two communities, but police investigations have cleared the man. The girl did not suffer any kind of violence. The Salafis have attacked the Christian village all the same, in spite of outcome of the inquiry.

Local sources say that the representatives of the Christian and Muslim communities, met this morning for a reconciliation. However, the police continue to patrol the town for fear of attacks.

Yesterday’s was the second attack in less than a week. On 15 January, hundreds of Islamists demolished a building owned by the Coptic Orthodox Church of St. George Taymah in the diocese of the Fayyum (Egypt central 133 km south of Cairo).

After the fall of President Mubarak and the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists, attacks against churches and Christian buildings have increased. In the poorest areas of the country, but also in the capital, cuts to public security and the army have left them powerless in the face of these attacks instigated by Salafis. With their money and their promises, the extremists urge residents to drive Christians out to take over their lands, taking advantage of the absence of a clear law that regulates the construction of religious buildings.

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January 19, 2013

Egyptian court sentences Christian family to 15 years for converting from Islam

By Benjamin Weinthal
Published January 16, 2013
FoxNews.com

morsi_egypt.jpg

Critics fear Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s regime is taking the nation further toward Islamic extremism. (AP) (AP)

coptics.jpeg

Egyptian Christian women grieve before a mass funeral for victims of sectarian clashes. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

coptic2.jpg

Egypt is home to an estimated seven million Christians. (Reuters)
The 15-year prison sentence given to a woman and her seven children by an Egyptian court for converting to Christianity is a sign of things to come, according to alarmed human rights advocates who say the nation’s Islamist government is bad news for Christians in the North African country.

A criminal court in the central Egyptian city of Beni Suef meted out the shocking sentence last week, according to the Arabic-language Egyptian paper Al-Masry Al-Youm. Nadia Mohamed Ali, who was raised a Christian, converted to Islam when she married Mohamed Abdel-Wahhab Mustafa, a Muslim, 23 years ago. He later died, and his widow planned to convert her family back to Christianity in order to obtain an inheritance from her family. She sought the help of others in the registration office to process new identity cards between 2004 and 2006. When the conversion came to light under the new regime, Nadia, her children and even the clerks who processed the identity cards were all sentenced to prison.

Samuel Tadros, a research fellow at Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, said conversions like Nadia’s have been common in the past, but said Egypt’s new Sharia-based constitution “is a real disaster in terms of religion freedom.”

“Now that Sharia law has become an integral part of Egypt’s new constitution, Christians in that country are at greater risk than ever.”

– Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice

“The cases will increase in the future,” Tadros said. “It will be much harder for people to return to Christianity.”

President Mohamed Morsi, who was elected last June and succeeded the secular reign of Hosni Mubarak, who is now in prison, pushed the new constitution through last year.
Tadros said the constitution limits the practice of Christianity because “religious freedom has to be understood within the boundaries of Sharia.” He added that the constitution prescribes that the highest Sunni authority should be referred to as an interpreter of the religion clause contained in the constitution.

Opponents of the constitution, including Coptic Christians and secular and liberal groups, protested at the time against passage of the document because of the mix of Islamic-based Sharia law and politics. Roughly 10 percent of Egyptians are Coptic Christians.

A government spokeswoman told FoxNews.com she would determine “who is responsible for this and covers this issue in Beni Suef,“ a city of 200,000 located about 75 miles south of Cairo. She did not offer further comment.

The case is the latest example of the increasingly dire plight of the nation’s roughly 7 million Christians, say human rights advocates.

“Now that Sharia law has become an integral part of Egypt’s new constitution, Christians in that country are at greater risk than ever,” said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice. “This is another tragic case that underscores the growing problem of religious intolerance in the Muslim world. To impose a prison sentence for a family because of their Christian faith sadly reveals the true agenda of this new government: Egypt has no respect for international law or religious liberty.”

Morsi has been under fire for failing to take action against rising violence inflicted on Egypt’s Christians. In August, the roughly 100-family Christian community in Dahshour was forced to flee after Muslim neighbors launched attacks against the Christians’ homes and property. Morsi said the expulsion and violence was “ blown out of proportion.” Radical Salafi preachers — who have formed alliances with Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood — called for Muslims to shun Christians during Christmas.

Sekulow urged U.S. diplomatic intervention in Egypt to promote religious freedom. Morsi is scheduled to meet with President Obama, possibly in March.

”The U.S. State Department must play more of a role in discouraging this kind of persecution,” Sekulow said. “The U.S. should not be an idle bystander. The U.S. provides more than $1 billion to Egypt each year. The State Department should speak out forcefully against this kind of religious persecution in Egypt.”

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January 18, 2013

Oxford exploitation trial: Girl had ‘back-room abortion’

The nine men, from Berkshire and Oxfordshire, are accused of sexually exploiting six girls, aged between 11 and 15
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A 12-year-old girl who was repeatedly raped by a group of men was also made to have a back-room abortion after falling pregnant, a court has heard.
She is one of six alleged victims of nine men accused of grooming children and exploiting them for sex in Oxford.
She was also “branded” with the initial of a man who claimed to “own her”.
The men deny 51 charges including rape, arranging child prostitution and trafficking relating to girls aged between 11 and 15 from 2004 to 2012.
Jurors at the Old Bailey heard the victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was “sold” to Mohammed Karrar when she had just turned 11 to “cure her bad attitude”.
Noel Lucas QC, prosecuting, said he then groomed her for sexual activity, giving her alcohol and drugs.
Hair-pin branding
Both he and his brother, Bassam Karrar, repeatedly raped the girl and arranged for her to be raped by other men in a way she described as “torture”, the court heard.
Mr Lucas said that on one occasion Mohammed Karrar heated a hair pin with a lighter and branded the girl with the letter M on her buttock to show she belonged to him.
When she became pregnant, aged 12, he arranged for her to have an illegal abortion in a back-room in Reading.
Mr Lucas told jurors: “This brief summary of the very extensive and persistent abuse [she] suffered at the hands of Mohammed Karrar illustrates his view of her as something to be used and abused at will.
“He regarded her as his property. He showed her no regard.
“He felt he was entitled to have sex with her when he wanted and in whatever manner he wanted.
“If she had the courage to resist, he beat her. He branded her to make her his property and to ensure others knew it.”
The court heard Mr Karrar would charge men between £400 and £600 to use the girl.
‘Want to be loved’
Another 14-year-old girl was burned with a lighter and threatened if she refused to have sex with men, the court heard.
She met defendants Kamar Jamil, Anjum Dogar and his brother Akhtar Dogar, while she was living at a children’s home aged 14.
The court heard she drank and took drugs “to the point of passing out because she knew what was expected of her”.
Mr Lucas said she felt she had to do what she was told by the men, otherwise they would threaten her and get rough with her.
It is claimed she was taken to alleyways, woods and various houses and flats where men would have sex with her.
Mr Lucas also told the court the girl had said to a friend: “I have no choice, I just want to be loved. I’ve never been loved and this shows me love.”
The court has previously heard the group of men deliberately targeted vulnerable young girls with troubled upbringings which made it less likely anyone would be looking out for them.
The trial is expected to last until April. The defendants are all in custody.
The defendants are:

  • Kamar Jamil, 27, of Aldwych Road, Oxford
  • Akhtar Dogar, 32, of Tawney Street, Oxford; and his brother Anjum Dogar, 30, of Tawney Street, Oxford
  • Assad Hussain, 32, of Ashurst Way, Oxford
  • Mohammed Karrar, 38, of Kames Close, Oxford; and his brother Bassam Karrar, 33, of Hundred Acres Close, Oxford
  • Mohammed Hussain, 24, of Horspath Road, Oxford
  • Zeeshan Ahmed, 27, of Palmer Road, Oxford

Bilal Ahmed, 26, of Suffolk Road, Maidenhead




2012 News

December 19, 2012

American pastor imprisoned without notice of charges while visiting family in Iran

By Lisa Daftari

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/12/19/
american-pastor-imprisoned-without-notice-charges-while-visiting-family-in-iran/?test=latestnews

FoxNews.com
Saeed Abedini is seen with his family.

A 32-year-old Iranian who is a U.S. citizen and a Christian convert has been imprisoned without notice of any formal charges while visiting his family in Iran, according to his wife and attorneys in the U.S., who are now hoping that a media campaign will help set him free.
The Rev. Saeed Abedini, who lives in the U.S. with his wife and two young children, was making one of his frequent visits to see his parents and the rest of his family in Iran, his country of origin and where he spent many years as a Christian leader and community organizer developing Iran’s underground home church communities for Christian converts.
On this last trip, the Iranian government pulled him off a bus and said he must face a penalty for his previous work as a Christian leader in Iran.
He is currently awaiting trial at Iran’s notoriously brutal Evin Prison, where he has been incarcerated since late September.
“When he became a Christian, he became a criminal in his own country. His passion was to reach the people of Iran,” Naghmeh, his wife, said in an exclusive interview with Fox News.
“He comes from a very close-knit family, and he loved evangelizing and passing out Bibles on the streets of Tehran. This was his passion,” she said.
In July, Abedini left his wife and kids to go to Iran to visit family and continue a humanitarian effort he began years ago to build an orphanage.
After a short visit to a nearby country, Abedini was traveling back into Iran to catch his flight back to the U.S. when members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard stopped his bus near the Turkey-Iran border and pulled Abedini from the bus, confiscating his passports and subjecting him to intense interrogation, according to his wife.
After weeks under house arrest and many calls to Iran’s passport control office about the status of his confiscated passport, Abedini was told that his case has been referred to the Revolutionary Guard, the Iranian government’s elite military force.
On Sept. 26, five men kicked open the door of Abedini’s parents’ residence in Tehran where they collected all communications devices and arrested him while placing the rest of his family members, who are also Christians converts from Islam, under house arrest.
The family remains under house arrest, according to Naghmeh.
Two days before the home raid, Naghmeh reports getting a call to her cellphone in the U.S., from someone she thinks was an Iranian government agent threatening that she would “never see him again.”
Abedini is the father of a house church movement in Iran, a community of underground places of worship for former Muslims who convert to Christianity and are not allowed to formally pray in recognized churches.
Over the course of his involvement, his home church movement had about 100 churches in 30 Iranian cities with more than 2,000 members.
“It was just growing so fast. They see the underground churches as a threat and they see Christianity as a tool from the West to undermine them,” Naghmeh said. “They think if the country becomes more Christian, they are no longer under Islamic authority. That’s why it’s a threat.”
But “Christianity saved his life,” Naghmeh says of her husband, who converted at the age of 20, after becoming severely depressed from undergoing suicide bomber training by a radical Muslim group.
Abedini was recruited in high school and taken to the mosque to be trained, she says. The more he sought to be a devout Muslim and the deeper he went into training, the more depressed he became.
Under Shariah, or Islamic law, a Muslim who converts to Christianity is on a par with someone waging war against Islam. Death sentences for such individuals are prescribed by fatwas, or legal decrees, and reinforced by Iran’s Constitution, which allows judges to rely on fatwas for determining charges and sentencing on crimes not addressed in the Iranian penal code.
All religious minorities in Iran, including Bahais, Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians, have faced various forms of persecution and political and social marginalization throughout the regime’s 30-year reign. But the government saves its harshest retribution for those who have abandoned Islam.
During the many rounds of interrogations, Abedini has informally been told he will be charged for threatening the national security of Iran and espionage, due to his involvement with Christian house churches and foreign Christian satellite TV ministries.
The Iranian government offered bail in the amount of 500 million toman, or roughly $410,000. Abedini’s family has prepared the bail documents many times already but have not been successful in having it accepted or approved, they say.
Just this week they prepared yet again the bail documents but were told they were not going to be accepted. When they inquired, they were told, “Boro Gomsho!” or get lost.
“It’s hardest on the kids,” Naghmeh said. “Saeed was a stay-at-home dad. My daughter said she is forgetting Daddy’s voice and she asked me, ‘Do you think he has a beard now?’ I didn’t even think of that. She keeps playing the home videos over and over. It’s the hardest at night because he had a night routine with them when he would read them books and tuck them in. They miss that the most.”
Abedini and his wife had met in Iran in 2002, while she was there working for Iranian relatives, and were married shortly thereafter. Together, they worked as Christian leaders in the underground house churches. After facing persecution for these activities, in 2005, they moved to the U.S. together.
His first trip back to Iran was in 2009 with his wife and two children to visit his family when he came under government scrutiny. As the family attempted to catch their flight back to the U.S., Abedini was detained and told he would have to stay in the country for further questioning. His wife and children were put on a plane bound for the U.S., separated from their husband and father.
After the arrest and rounds of intense interrogation, in which the interrogators threatened Abedini with death for his conversion to Christianity, they agreed to release him, according to his attorneys, but only after he signed a written agreement in which the government would not charge him for his Christian activities, and he would be allowed to enter and exit the country so long as he ceased all official house church activities.
According to his attorneys, he had honored this agreement. “He thought if he honored his part, they would honor theirs. He was transparent about his humanitarian work there,” said Tiffany Barrans, International Legal Director at the American Center for Law and Justice based in Washington D.C, the organization representing Abedini’s U.S.-based family.
This was ninth trip since 2009 to visit family and to continue his humanitarian work on developing a non-sectarian orphanage in the city of Rasht on a family-owned land plot.
“You have a situation of arbitrary detention here. Iran is violating its own constitution and its international obligations. As citizens of the world, we need to wake up to these violations. Iran needs to be exposed for its violation of these laws,” said Barrans, who has been working very closely with Naghmeh to push for her husband’s release.
The American Center for Law and Justice is providing legal support to Naghmeh by working through the US government, members of Congress, various governments around the world, and with leaders in the United Nations to help release Pastor Saeed.
The ACLJ previously played an integral role in reaching various government representatives in the case of imprisoned minister Youcef Nadarkhani, who was freed from an Iranian prison after nearly three years following a tremendous international outcry demanding his release.
Despite the fact that Abedini was arrested Sept. 26, the family elected to work through different private means to get him released. In that time, however, he was denied access to an attorney and was badly been beaten by prison guards. According to his wife, Abedini is also being severely beaten by his cell mates who self-identify as members of Al Qaeda. The family is greatly concerned for his health and well being.
The U.S. has not had formal diplomatic ties with the Iranian government since 1980 and relies on alternative efforts in such instances.
Fox News reached out to the State Department for comment on Abedini’s case but has not received a call back yet.
“We were hopeful that the Iranian government would have released him by now and that private efforts would have been more successful. Also, as Saeed has family in Iran, we had to be mindful of the fact that any public action taken could put his family at risk,” said Barrans.
“They see that the house church culture is alive and thriving. They believe that making an example out of their former leader will deter others from practicing and converting to Christianity.”
Several house church members, friends and distant relatives of Abedini have had to flee the country in recent months after being summoned by the government to collect evidence against him.
As a convert away from Islam, worshippers are not permitted to attend services at official churches. Underground house churches became a popular way to get around this restriction.
“They have denied converts the opportunity to worship in an official place of worship. Then they tell them they can’t practice their faith underground, and doing so is a crime against Iran’s national security interests. How is this not a violation of religious freedom?” Barrans said.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/12/19/
american-pastor-imprisoned-without-notice-charges-while-
visiting-family-in-iran/?test=latestnews#ixzz2FYElmKoR

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December 17, 2012

Muslims gloat over take-over of Christian church

MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council) held their convention at All Saints Church in California.

  • Los Angeles-based Muslim organization whose leadership defends extremist violence
  • Opposes the shutdown of Muslim charities suspected of supporting terrorism
  • Opposes the Patriot Act
  • MPAC speakers regularly complain that the U.S. is “dominated” by Zionists and favors Jews over Muslims.
  • Condemning Israel’s “apartheid-like ideology,” MPAC warns: “History shows that Muslim and Christian religious rights are not safe under Israeli occupation.” (morre here)

We had operatives at the event. Here is their first report.

Muslims gloat over take-over of Christian church

As the Muslim Public Affairs Council settled into their convention home at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, there was hardly a whimper from the Rector Ed Bacon.  And that whimper wasn’t over the Muslims praying their anti-Christian and anti-Jewish prayers three times in the facility. (see this )  Rather, it was over the nationwide-outrage over All Saints’ partnering with the American Muslims’ political arm, giving them free use of their campus.  Rev. Bacon lamented, “Christians can be very hateful.”  One-third of the convention’s agenda was devoted to a pity party analyzing what the opposition to the conference location meant, moderated by Channel 4 Newscaster Beverly White.  The “backlash” was called one of the most vile and mean-spirited campaign in memory.

[…]

The Muslims at the conference could hardly retain their exuberance over their unprecedented coup.  Gloated speaker Haris Tarin, “We have made a church our home!”   Muslim-convert Alejandro Beutel observed that by 2050 whites will be a minority in the U.S., and he asked,  “Are Muslims up to the challenge.”  Their mission must be to be marginalize and silence the racist, Islamophobic bigots who are defaming Islam.  Dustin Craun asserted that Islamophobes are part of a long history of white supremacy dating back to the Klu Klux Klan.  One presenter showed a slide that stated, “Islamophobia has become the accepted form of racism in America.   (Note:  To Muslims, racism isn’t biological – traits that cannot be changed – but rather cultural, indicating their refusal to assimilate or allow freedom of choice with regard to religion.)  White Republicans, Pamela Geller, and those who provide financial support to the extremists were among the specific objects of contempt.

The two most repeated words during the conference were “bigotry” and “justice.”   MPAC was selling a 400 page book on their agenda titled, “In Pursuit of Justice.”  (Note:  The Muslim view of “Justice” consists of the commands in the Quran: “And you shall see every nation bowing down; every nation shall be called to its book: today you shall be rewarded for what you did.  This is Our book that speaks against you with justice. . . .” (Surah 45:28-29).   Rev. Bacon declared, “We have to work towards justice, and to do that we have to join forces.”   Perhaps he didn’t see the command in the Quran, “Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends.  They are friends with one another. Whoever of you seeks their friendship shall become one of their number. “  (Surah 5:51)

In view of this specific prohibition, one wonders why Muslims would join forces with Christians?  Their agenda was to gain acceptance and support for Islamic Sharia Law via the endorsements by a Christian church as well as by vote-seeking elected officials.  The conference brochure contained 14 gushing letters of support from state and federal representatives.   Dr. Maher Hathout minced no words about their objective:  “Our job is to make Muslims better people.  What would be better than the Laws of Allah?”

However, former Muslim Brotherhood activist Dr. Hathout, may be getting some push-back from a younger generation of Muslims who also addressed the conference.  Darakshan Raja, a victimology specialist at the Urban Institute, said there is an urgent need to protect Muslim women and children from violence and abuse.  Imams need to be trained in dealing with domestic violence.  “Muslims have a right to life free of violence,” she said.   Since Sharia Law empowers all Muslims to “command the right and forbid the wrong” with all means short of using weapons, to beat their wives, and to kill apostates with impunity, Ms. Raja took a brave swipe at Sharia Law which was not lost on those at the convention. Brava!

Yes, it is very good that young Muslim women speak out. But her fear or reluctance to tie honor violence to the Islamic honor code speaks to the larger problem.

UPDATE: From my very good source inside the Muslim community:

As for what seems to be a bit of rebellion against the Muslim elders, I would not be too optimistic. There is a refuge for battered women in the Orange County area. It does not exist because Muslims are aghast at violence against women and children. It exists so that these women have a place to go instead of calling the police. I have heard Muslim social workers talk about domestic violence, and the theme is always: keep it contained within the Muslim community.

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November 28, 2012

Egypt court sentences in absentia
7 Coptic Christians, US pastor to death over anti-Islam film

By Associated Press, (From Washington Post)

AP Updated: Wednesday, November 28, 1:03 PM

CAIRO — An Egyptian court convicted in absentia Wednesday seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor, sentencing them to death on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that had sparked riots in parts of the Muslim world.

The case was seen as largely symbolic because the defendants, most of whom live in the United States, are all outside Egypt and are thus unlikely to ever face the sentence. The charges were brought in September during a wave of public outrage in Egypt over the amateur film, which was produced by an Egyptian-American Copt.

The low-budget “Innocence of Muslims,” parts of which were made available online, portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, womanizer and buffoon.

Egypt’s official news agency said the court found the defendants guilty of harming national unity, insulting and publicly attacking Islam and spreading false information — charges that carry the death sentence.

Maximum sentences are common in cases tried in absentia in Egypt. Capital punishment decisions are reviewed by the country’s chief religious authority, who must approve or reject the sentence. A final verdict is scheduled on Jan. 29.
The man behind the film, Mark Basseley Youssef, was among those convicted. He was sentenced in a California court earlier this month to one year in federal prison for probation violations in an unrelated matter. Youssef, 55, admitted that he had used several false names in violation of his probation order and obtained a driver’s license under a false name. He was on probation for a bank fraud case.

Multiple calls to Youssef’s attorney in Southern California, Steve Seiden, were not returned Wednesday.

Florida-based Terry Jones, another of those sentenced, is the pastor of Dove World Outreach, a church of less than 50 members in Gainesville, Fla., not far from the University of Florida. He has said he was contacted by the filmmaker to promote the film, as well as Morris Sadek, a conservative Coptic Christian in the U.S. who posted the video clips on his website.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Jones said the ruling “shows the true face of Islam” — one that he views as intolerant of dissent and opposed to basic freedoms of speech and religion.

“We can speak out here in America,” Jones said. “That freedom means that we criticize government leadership, religion even at times. Islam is not a religion that tolerates any type of criticism.”

An Associated Press reporter knocked on the door of Sadek’s home in Chantilly, Virginia. No one answered.

The connection to the film of the other five sentenced by the court was not immediately clear. They include two who work with Sadek at a radical Coptic group in the U.S. that has called for an independent Coptic state, a priest who hosts TV programs from the U.S. and a lawyer living in Canada who has previously sued the Egyptian state over riots in 2000 that left 21 Christians dead.

The other person is a woman who converted to Christianity and is a staunch critic of Islam.

The official news agency report said that during the trial, the court reviewed a video of some defendants calling for an independent Coptic state in Egypt, and another of Jones burning the Quran, Islam’s holy book. The prosecutor asked for the maximum sentence, accusing those charged of seeking to divide Egypt and incite sedition. All the defendants, except Jones, hold Egyptian nationality, the agency added.

Some Christians and human rights groups worry that prosecutions for insulting religion, which existed to a degree under the secular-leaning regime of deposed President Hosni Mubarak, will increase with the ascent of Islamists to power in Egypt.

Egypt’s Islamic (Muslim Brotherhood) government started applying Shariaa and disregarding current criminal code.

This ruling is according to Shariaa which states that if you blaspheme against Allah you can be forgiven if you repent BUT if you blaspheme against prophet Muhammad, you must be killed even if you repent.  

***
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke.

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October 28, 2012

Bombing of Catholic church during Mass in northern Nigeria

October 28, 2012 /MCN/

Kaduna, Nigeria

Eye witnesses say suicide bombers rammed two explosive-laden cars into a Catholic church during Mass in northern Nigeria on Sunday, killing at least seven people and injuring dozens.

One of the witnesses who survived the two blasts, Linus Lighthouse, told Reuters the attackers were able to drive the cars against the walls of St. Rita’s Church in Kaduna

Kaduna, an ethnically and religiously mixed state in northern Nigeria, has witnessed periodically sectarian killing

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September 28, 2012

Christians flee Egypt town after death threats: officials

Cairo: Several Christian families have fled their homes in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula after receiving death threats from suspected Islamist militants, officials and residents told AFP on Friday.

Last week, flyers began circulating in the town of Rafah on the Gaza Strip border demanding that its tiny Coptic population move out, residents said.

Officials at the local church informed the authorities of the threats, but no action was taken, they added.

Days later, a shop belonging to one of the families was fired on with automatic rifles, witnesses said.

The events prompted the families to leave Rafah but there were conflicting accounts over whether they had done so voluntarily or been evicted.

“The families have left Rafah and gone to El-Arish,” one official said on condition of anonymity.

Another official denied that any Coptic families had left at all.

Representatives of the families, many of whom hold government jobs as well private businesses, sat down with the governor of North Sinai earlier this week and asked to be transferred to the nearby town of Al-Arish, the official said.

The events come amid heightened sectarian tensions in the country, particularly in the lawless Sinai Peninsula where the armed forces launched an unprecedented campaign in August to root out Islamic militants.

Father Mikhail Antoine of El-Arish church told AFP “the families moved voluntarily because they feared for their lives after the threats.”

He said the Coptic population of North Sinai numbered 5,000 to 6,000, adding that around seven Coptic families had been living in Rafah before the move.

Copts have been nervous since Islamists came to power following an uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak last year.

They have also been fearing the backlash from an anti-Islam film apparently produced by a Copt in the United States that sparked violent protests worldwide, and that they believe will lead to further persecution at home.

Egypt’s Christians, who make up six to 10 percent of the country’s population of 82 million, have regularly complained of discrimination and marginalization. They have also been the target of numerous sectarian attacks.

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September 10, 2012

Pastor Yousef and Rimsha released!

We have joyful news to share! Pastor Yousef has been released from his prison in Iran and has been able to join his family, while in Pakistan Rimsha, the Christian Down Syndrome girl we told you about a short while ago, has been released on bail. We are delighted about these developments and wanted to share our joy with you and thank you for your efforts on their behalf.

This does not mean that Pastor Yousef or Rimsha are out of danger. The charges of blasphemy against Rimsha remain outstanding and even if they are dismissed, as we hope they will be, if her family stays in Pakistan they will be forced to live in hiding in order to avoid being killed by Muslim extremists exercising vigilante justice. While the situation in Iran is a little different, Pastor Yousef’s case has had a very high profile and his family may face continued dangers if they stay in Iran.

Many organizations have been working hard on these two cases and your voices joining together with thousands of others around the globe on behalf of Pastor Yousef and Rimsha succeeded in securing their release. Justice will not be done, however, until all Iranians and Pakistanis are free to believe and to worship God in accordance with their religion and beliefs.

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September 10, 2012

Jihadists Threaten to Burn U.S. Embassy in Cairo

Written by Raymond Ibrahim
Monday, 10 September 2012
Jihad Watch

Jihadists  groups in Egypt, including Islamic Jihad, the Sunni Group, and Al Gamaa Al Islamiyya have issued a statement threatening to burn the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to the ground.

According to El Fagr, they are calling for the immediate release of the Islamic jihadis who are imprisonment and in detention centers in the U.S. including Guantanamo Bay: “The group, which consists of many members from al-Qaeda, called [especially] for the quick release of the jihadi [mujahid] sheikh, Omar Abdul Rahman [the “Blind Sheikh”], whom they described as a scholar and jihadi who sacrificed his life for the Egyptian Umma, who was ignored by the Mubarak regime, and [President] Morsi is refusing to intervene on his behalf and release him, despite promising that he would.

The Islamic Group has threatened to burn the U.S. Embassy in Cairo with those in it, and taking hostage those who remain [alive], unless the Blind Sheikh is immediately released.”

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September 3, 2012

Kansas Governor Signs Sharia Ban into Law

Written by CBN News
Monday, 03 September 2012

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a measure blocking the use of Islamic law in the state. The new law doesn’t specifically mention Sharia law, but it does bar Kansas courts and government agencies from basing decisions on Islamic or other foreign legal codes.

Muslim groups oppose the measure, arguing it promotes discrimination. They say state bans could nullify wills or legal contracts between Muslims.

Supporters say the move will reassure Kansas residents that courts will rely only on the laws of that state and the U.S. They cited divorce and property cases around the country where judges or state agencies took Islamic law into account in their rulings.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says the new law is discriminatory and a court challenge is likely.

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August 9, 2012

Copts to be Excluded from Egypt’s Constitutional Committee for Believing Jesus is Son of God?

A Muslim lawyer in Egypt is arguing that, because Christians believe Jesus is the Son of God, they are clearly polytheistic infidels, and not the “Christians,” the “Nassara,” that the Koran speaks tolerably of, on occasion. Accordingly, Egypt’s Copts, because they profess the Trinity, must be barred from having any say regarding the new constitution. “Lawyer Requests Exclusion of Copts from Constitutional Committee for being ‘Polytheists,’” from Coptic Solidarity, July 30:

Sherif Gadallah, a lawyer from Alexandria has submitted a report to the public prosecutor, against the president of the court of appeal, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, the interim Pope of Alexandria as well as President Mohamed Morsy requesting the exclusion of Copts from the committee in charge of forming Egypt’s constitution, claiming that Orthodox Copts are not representative of Egypt’s Christian population, because they are simply not “nassara”; a substitute term employed by Salafists to refer to people of Christian faith, this term has developed pejorative connotations, being used by those who loathe Christians the most; the use of which often justified by the fact that the term “Christian” was never mentioned in the Quran.

According to Mr. Gadallah Orthodox Copts are not “Nassara, or even Christian”; they can be counted among the “polytheists” which makes them non-representative of Egypt’s Christians.

Mr. Gadallah bases his request on purely Islamic grounds. He states that the essence of all heavenly religions is that “Allah is one and there is no god but Him”, and that the prophets of Allah, Moses, Eissa [Arabic for Jesus] and Mohamed, are but humans sent by Allah to pass along His message to His Creatures, so if a certain denomination of a certain religion claims that their prophet is the “son of God” or “is God”, it is then considered infidel and a dissident of that religion. Gadallah goes on to ask the Grand Mufti to have Al-Azhar issue a clear statement about the verdict of Sharia regarding Copts who claim that Jesus is the son of God.

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August 1, 2012

120 Christian families flee village following death of a Muslim

“Arab Spring” democracy and pluralism in full flower: “120 Christian Families Flee Egyptian Village Following Death of a Muslim,” by Mary Abdelmassih for AINA, August 1:

(AINA) — The sectarian strife between Muslims and Christians which took place last week in the village of Dahshur has prompted over 120 Christian families to flee their homes today after news that a Muslim man who had suffered 3rd degree burns in the incident died this morning in a Cairo hospital. Before his death, the father and brother of Moaz Hassab-Allah told the media yesterday that should he die, “the whole village will avenge his death.”

Coptic villagers were terrorized today after a Muslim Brotherhood cleric roamed the village vowing that the village church of St. George will be burned down, its pastor and all the entire Christian inhabitants killed and their homes torched after the burial of Moaz tonight, reportd [sic] Coptic activist Maariam Ragy.

Coptic professional garments presser Sameh Samy accidentally burned the shirt of his Muslim client Ahmad Ramadan. “They agreed to meet after the Muslim breaks his fast and settle the damage,” said father Takla of St, George’s church to MidEast Christian News, “however, Ramadan came back before the appointment.” He added that after breaking their Ramadan fast nearly 2000-3000 Muslims congregated; Mr. Samy locked his launderette and his home.

Fighting broke out between the Muslims and Sameh’s family, during which Molotov’s cocktails, firearms and knives were used. The priest explained that Sameh faced this huge mob in “self-defense,” threw a Molotov’s cocktail which hit the passer-by Moaz.

“This made the villagers extremely angry and they torched his home and his launderette and his brother’s home after they looted the contents, a loss of nearly 400,000 Egyptian pounds. They prevented the fire brigade from reaching the fire,” said Takla. The mob wounded Sameh, his father, his cousin and another Copt. Father Takla said that over 500 moderate village Mulims [sic] stopped the Salafist mob from storming the church, until security forces arrived and secured it.

Prosecution ordered the arrest of five Muslims, while Sameh Samy, his father and brother were detained pending investigation on charges of attempted murder and possession of explosives. Today, prosecution renewed their detention for 15 days and changed the charged to contemplated murder. No Muslim has yet been arrested.

In another incident in Shubra el Khayma, Qaliubya province, On July 26, Dr Maher Ghaly looked out from his window at dawn and asked a group of Muslim Salafis who have a shop in the same building not to fire their weapons in the air in celebration of another day of the Ramadan fast. He explained to them that in his household there are sick persons and children who are greatly disturbed. “Their answer was to shoot at him. One of his eyes was blown away and there is no hope of replacing the cornea in his other eye,” said his brother Fayez. He said that the Muslims wanted to break the main building door and go to his flat but were unable. “Although the police issued a report, they have done nothing to arrest the culprits.”

Dr. Ghaly is hospitalized in the French hospital in Cairo.

Two days ago, a Muslim attacked a church in the area of Sheikh Zayed, Qaliubya. Prosection did not make any charged against him as he is “mentally unstable,” and was subsequently released.

Simce [sic] Morsy became President of Egypt, there is systematic persecuion [sic] of the Copts, ” said Dr. Naguib Gabriel, head of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organization. He said that in the last ten days of the Muslim Ramadam fast, twelve incidents took place against the Copts, including the arrest of the six Copts in Dahshur, while no Muslim was arrested.

“Displacement of Copts has become fashionable,” said Gabriel. “Now any small melee between a Muslim and a Copt is used by Islamists, turning it into a sectarian incident, pushing for Coptic arrests, torching of their homes or enforced displacement, while not a single action is taken against the Muslim culprits.”

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July 11, 2012

Pastor arrested for holding home Bible study

PASTOR ARRESTED

JULY 11, 2012

When you hear of a pastor being arrested for holding a Bible study in his home what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Must be someplace like Iran where Christians are persecuted, right? Not this time. It happened right here in the good old U.S.A.

Pastor Michael Salman arrested for Bible study
Pastor Michael Salman and his family live on about 4 ½ acres in the Phoenix area. Salman is an ordained minister who holds a number of biblical degrees, but since 2005, they have chosen to gather like the biblical church, in homes.

“Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house” (Acts 2:46)(HCSB).

Today, Michael Salman sits in jail following a raid on his home because the city doesn’t allow people to hold private Bible studies on their own property! Fox News quoted Phoenix City Prosecutor Vicki Hall as saying, “It came down to zoning and proper permitting. Anytime you are holding a gathering of people continuously as he does, we have concerns about people being able to exit the facility properly in case there is a fire.”

Video: Guest Michael Salman pastor sent to jail for 60 days for worshipping in his home 07/06/12

Serving 60 days for home Bible study
Police raided the Salman home on July 6, 2012. Funny that just two days following Independence Day, that a Christian following what the Bible teaches would be arrested for practicing their religious liberty.

The other side of the story
The Salmans have been gathering in the home since 2005, but in 2007 they did receive a notice from the City of Phoenix that Bible studies and other church-like activities are not permitted in a residence unless the property is converted to an A3 occupancy, which allows commercial and public use. Michael Salmon argued his case pointing out that their gatherings are not opened to the public. Just like in the Bible, gatherings were among believers who knew one another. It was part of body life. With only 15-20 people meeting, Salmon argued that the code was unconstitutional. They tried to take steps to meet the requirements, but did not want to become a commercial entity.

The church is the people not a building
For the first almost 300 years, there were no church buildings. People knew where to meet because they knew one another. It wasn’t like a sign was posted saying “services at 11:00.” People knew where and when to meet because they were connected. It wasn’t until the reign of Constantine and the establishment of Christianity as the state religion that Christians started meeting in buildings other than homes.

Today many have lost the understanding that the building is not the church. Believers are the church. To have laws that prevent or restrict the gathering of the church is scary business. Michael Salman is serving 60 days in jail for “creating an unsafe building environment.” He has received a $12,180 fine for his crime and he’s looking at probation. The city has tried to paint it as a safety code rather than a religious issue, but when the facts are examined it seems more like an infringement of first amendment rights.

Pastor Now In Jail  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7tpX6oXZwA

Pastor Michael Salman and his family:

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July 3, 2012

Pakistan: Jihadis blow up girls’ school

Will the Islamophobia never end? “Girls’ school blown up in NW Pakistan,” from PressTV, July 1 (thanks to Lachlan):

Unidentified attackers have destroyed a state-run girls’ primary school in the troubled northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan, where government troops are fighting militants, Press TV reports.

Local officials told Press TV on Saturday that the assailants carried out the attack by detonating explosives in the remote village of the Mata Shah in the Salarzai area of the Bajaur tribal region, located 180 kilometers west of the Pakistani capital Islamabad, in the early hours of Friday.

The incident did not have any casualties since the school was empty at the time of the blast, local officials said.

Law enforcement agents cordoned off the area after the blast and launched an investigation. No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far. However, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants are the main suspects in such incidents.

The TTP has banned female education in northwestern Pakistan in a move that has affected thousands of girls there and caused the number of enrolments to drop dramatically.

The group warns parents against sending their daughters to schools, describing education as ‘unnecessary’ or ‘harmful’ for girls….

Obviously it is.

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July 1, 2012

Masked ‘goons’ kill at least 17 in attacks on churches in Kenya

Masked attackers killed at least 17 people on Sunday in gun and grenade attacks on churches in a Kenyan town used as a base for operations against al-Qaida-linked insurgents in Somalia.

At least 45 people were wounded in the simultaneous attacks on Garissa, in the north of the East African country which has suffered a series of blasts since sending troops into Somalia last October to crush Somalia’s al Shabaab militants.

“We have 17 bodies at the mortuary so far,” regional medical officer Abdikadir Sheikh told Reuters.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Police said they suspected the attacks could have been the work of al-Shabab sympathizers or bandits, but it was too early to say. Inside Somalia, al Shabaab declined comment.

“The goons were clad in balaclavas,” regional deputy police chief Philip Ndolo told Reuters from Garissa.

He said a total of seven attackers hurled grenades inside the Catholic Church and the African Inland Church and then opened fire with guns. They struck the churches, which are two miles apart, at around 10.15 a.m. local time (03:15 a.m. ET).

Two policemen were among the dead.

They were the latest attacks on Christian worshippers in Kenya after two people were killed in grenade blasts in March and April.

But Sunday’s coordinated attacks on churches resembled the tactics of Nigeria’s Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which has killed hundreds of people on the other side of the continent.

Other blasts in Kenya have hit nightclubs and bus stations in the capital Nairobi, the coastal city of Mombasa and areas near the Somalia border.

Kenya’s border region has been tense since it sent troops into Somalia to pursue al-Shabab Islamic militants, the BBC reported.

Although a majority of Kenyans are Christian, Garissa is more heavily Muslim.

The town of around 150,000, a market centre for the trade in camels, donkeys, goats and cattle, is largely populated by ethnic Somalis.

“You can imagine for such a small town how the police and medical services have been stretched trying to deal with this,” the police’s Ndolo said.

Garissa is about 60 miles from Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, where gunmen kidnapped four aid workers and killed a driver on Friday before fleeing towards the border with Somalia.

Last Sunday, three people were killed in a grenade attack at a night club in the port city of Mombasa, a day after the U.S. Embassy in Kenya warned of an imminent attack on the city.

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April 5, 2012

Egypt gives Christian student three years in jail for insulting Islam and Muhammad

This is the kind of free speech restriction that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is trying to compel Western states to adopt. “Egypt sends Christian student to jail for insulting Islam,” from Reuters, April 4 (thanks to David):

CAIRO (Reuters) – An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced a 17-year-old Christian boy to three years in jail for publishing cartoons on his Facebook page that mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohammad, actions that sparked sectarian violence.

Gamal Abdou Massoud was also accused of distributing some of his cartoons to his school friends in a village in the southern city of Assiut, home to a large Christian population and the hometown of the late Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda.

“Assiut child’s court ordered the jailing of Gamal Abdou Massoud … for three years after he insulted Islam and published and distributed pictures that insulted Islam and its Prophet,” the court said in a statement seen by Reuters.

The cartoons, published by Massoud in December, prompted some Muslims to attack Christians. Several Christian houses were burned and several Christians were injured in the violence.

Human rights lawyer Negad al-Borai said the jail sentence was the maximum penalty under Egyptian law for such a crime.

Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the country’s 80 million population, have long had a difficult relationship with Egypt’s overwhelmingly Muslim majority.

Tension between Muslims and Christians has simmered for years but has got worse since the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak. Christians have become increasingly worried by a surge in attacks on churches, which they blame on hardline Islamists, though experts say local disputes are often also to blame.

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February 27, 2012

A Pakistani settled in Spain asks formally “the prohibition of Quran”

“Imran Firasat” A Pakistani citizen with legal residence in Spain as a political refugee has presented an official petition to the numerous institutions of Spanish government for calling the prohibition of Quran.

Imran has formally sent the petition to the President of Spain, Parliament of Spain, Ministry of exterior and also to the ministry of interior. A copy of the petition is attached at the end of this news.

In the document presented to the government of Spain, Imran reveals 10 points which will support his petition for banning the Quran:

(1)    The Quran is not a sacred and religious book, but a violent book, full of hatred and discrimination.

(2)    The Quran is a horrible book which provokes a community calls Muslims to undertake Jihad, kill innocent people and destroy the peace of the world.

(3)    The Quran is responsible for all the terrorism we have seen in recent years in which thousands of people lost their lives.

(4)    The Quran is a book which contains evil teachings and forces its believers to capture the entire world and total power at any price.

(5)    The Quran is a book which legally permits and incites hatred and violence and for that reason it is not compatible with the modern world including Spain.

(6)    The Quran is a book which directly discriminates between human beings.

(7)    The Quran is a book which doesn´t allow the freedom of expression neither the religious freedom.

(8)    The Quran is a book which causes women to suffer and be tortured by means of its full of injustice and macho laws.

(9)    The Quran is a book which rather than teaching unity, teaches disunity and in this way it doesn´t allow it´s believers to form friendship with those who are not Muslims, because in the eyes of Quran they are infidels.

(10) The Quran is a major threat to the free society of Spain. A book which clearly preach the messages of Jihad, killing, hate, discrimination and revenge. For that reason it can´t be compatible with the Spanish system in any sense. It is a book totally contrary to what the law and constitution of Spain say and it is inciting the hatred and violence in our country.

Thank you very much
Imran Firasat (Madrid – Spain)
http://www.mundosinislam.com

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February 15, 2012

Colorado student quits high school choir over Islamic song praising ‘Allah’

KREX-TV/YouTube
James Harper, a senior at Grand Junction High School in Grand Junction, put his objection to singing “Zikr,” a song written by Indian composer A.R. Rahman, in an email to Mesa County School District 51 officials.

A Colorado high school student quit the school choir after an Islamic song containing the lyric “there is no other truth except Allah” made it into the repertoire.

James Harper, a senior at Grand Junction High School in Grand Junction, put his objection to singing “Zikr,” a song written by Indian composer A.R. Rahman, in an email to Mesa County School District 51 officials. When the school stood by choir director Marcia Wieland’s selection, Harper quit.

“I don’t want to come across as a bigot or a racist, but I really don’t feel it is appropriate for students in a public high school to be singing an Islamic worship song,” Harper told KREX-TV. “This is worshipping another God, and even worshipping another prophet … I think there would be a lot of outrage if we made a Muslim choir say Jesus Christ is the only truth.”

District spokesman Jeff Kirtland rejected Harper’s analogy.

“This is about bringing diversity to the students and showing them other things that are out there, ” Kirtland told KREX. “The teacher was open with the parents and students do not have to participate in this voluntary club choir.”

Kirtland did not return multiple calls for comment from FoxNews.com.

Rahman, who has sold hundreds of millions of records and is well-known in his homeland, has said the song is not intended for a worship ceremony. Messages seeking comment from Rahman were not immediately returned.

The song is written in Urdu, but one verse translates to “There is no truth except Allah” and “Allah is the only eternal and immortal. “Although the choir sang the original version, Wieland distributed translated lyrics.

Grand Junction High School Principal Jon Bilbo did not return calls for comment.

School officials told KREX-TV that Wieland — aware that there would be questions regarding the song — asked her students to watch a YouTube videoof the song prior to performing it.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/02/15/colorado-student-reportedly-quits-choir-over-islamic-song/?test=latestnews#ixzz1mU8TdI6X

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February 13, 2012

Egyptian village expels Coptic families amid sectarian tensions

The police and army forces failed to protect Christian residents’ homes and property.

REPORTING FROM CAIRO — Eight Christian Coptic families have been evicted from their village in the coastal governorate of Alexandria after violence erupted last month amid rumors of an affair between a Coptic man and a Muslim woman.

A report issued by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) confirmed Sunday that the Coptic residents had been told to leave their homes after a reconciliation session sponsored by local police, Muslim clerics and a Coptic priest was held Feb. 1.

The unrest stems from a Jan. 27 incident when homes and shops owned by Copts were looted and attacked by hundreds of Muslims angry over the alleged romance. One Coptic home was set ablaze. In its report, the EIPR condemned the “collective punishment” of Christians in the village of Ameriya based on an “individual act of social dishonor” by one Copt.

The report criticized police for not only failing to protect Copts from assault by Muslims, but also for overseeing and supporting an agreement that forced the deportation of Copts from their homes. “The EIPR harshly condemns the failure of police and army forces to protect Christian residents’ homes and property,” the report said.

Clashes between Copts, who make up about 10% of the population, and majority Muslims have intensified in recent years over alleged romantic affairs or the conversion of Copts to Islam or vice-versa. Such cases have sharpened sectarian tensions, especially since last year’s overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak and the rise of Islamist political parties. Extremists Muslims set fire to churches in a poor Cairo neighborhood in May, and 24 Coptic protesters were killed by thugs and security forces during a demonstration calling for Christian rights in October.

The Mubarak regime had long been criticized by human rights advocates for skirting national laws and constitutional rights by sponsoring customary and local settlements of religious-related disputes.

“The EIPR utterly rejects the perpetuation of Mubarak-era policies that force victims of sectarian attacks — particularly those who have no stake in the original dispute — to accept the outcomes of illegal reconciliation processes and thus compel them to abandon their rights and accept the assaults on them,” the report added.

A number of political parties and movements have also expressed exasperation over authorities’ handling of the conflict. A joint statement issued by movements including the Popular Socialist Coalition Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination Movement, condemned the eviction of Coptic families.

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January 10, 2012

Court: Oklahoma can’t enforce Sharia law ban

By Robert Boczkiewicz | Reuters – Tue, Jan 10, 2012

DENVER (Reuters) – A federal appeals court upheld an injunction against a voter-approved ban on Islamic law in Oklahoma on Tuesday, saying it likely violated the U.S. Constitution by discriminating against religion.

A three-member panel of the Denver-based U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the rights of plaintiff Muneer Awad, a Muslim man living in Oklahoma City, likely would be violated if the ban on Sharia law takes effect.

The decision upholds the ruling of a lower federal court.

“While the public has an interest in the will of the voters being carried out … the public has a more profound and long-term interest in upholding an individual’s constitutional rights,” the appeals court said in a 37-page written decision.

The Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations welcomed the ruling, calling it “a victory for the Constitution and for the right of all Americans to freely practice their faith.”

Oklahoma’s “Save Our State Amendment,” which was approved by 70 percent of state voters in 2010, bars Oklahoma state courts from considering or using Sharia law.

The lawsuit challenging the measure was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Awad, who is director of the Oklahoma chapter of CAIR.

A federal judge in Oklahoma City issued a court order in November 2010 barring the measure from taking effect while the case is under review, finding a substantial likelihood that Awad would prevail on the merits.

The Council said the Oklahoma amendment is among 20 similar proposed laws introduced in state legislatures nationwide.

Defenders of the amendment say they want to prevent foreign laws in general, and Islamic Sharia law in particular, from overriding state or U.S. laws.

But foes of the Oklahoma measure, also called State Question 755, have argued that it stigmatizes Islam and its adherents and violates the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment prohibition against the government favoring one religion over another.

State Senator Anthony Sykes, one of the measure’s sponsors, called the decision an attempt “to silence the voice of 70 percent of Oklahoma voters. At some point we have to decide whether this is a country of, by and for the judges, or of, by and for the people.”

Opponents also say it could nullify wills or legal contracts between Muslims because they incorporate by reference specific elements of Islamic prophetic traditions.

(Editing by Mary Slosson and Paul Thomasch)

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January 2, 2012

Court orders Google and Facebook to remove all anti Islamic content

http://yourjewishnews.com/14903.aspx

Social websites including Google and Facebook have been ordered by an Indian court to remove all ‘anti-religious’ and ‘anti-social’ content within six weeks.

On Saturday a Delhi Court ordered 22 social networking sites, including Yahoo and Microsoft, to wipe the objectionable and defamatory contents and file compliance reports by February 6, 2012.

Additional Civil Judge Mukesh Kumar passed the order on a suit filed by Mufti Aijaz Arshad Qasmi seeking to restrain the websites from circulating objectionable and defamatory contents.

Qasmi had objected to a number of images on the websites which he complained would cause ‘irreparable loss and injury to the people who are offended by them’.

He argued that some of the images defamed Hindu gods, Prophet Mohammed and other religious figures, India Today website reported.

The order will raise serious questions about how users’ posts and opinions will be edited, censorship and freedom of expression.

On December 22 Judge Kumar had issued summonses to the social networking sites, demanding they remove photographs, videos or texts that might offend religious sentiments, the Hindustan Times website reported.

The order comes a day after a criminal court issued summonses to the sites for facing trial for allegedly webcasting objectionable contents.

Santosh Pandey, appearing for complainant Mufti Aijaz Arshad Qasmi, told The Hindu Times after the court hearing that the websites have to submit a report to the court by February 6 describing the action they had taken to remove the contents from the websites.

Representatives of Yahoo India Pvt Ltd and Microsoft told the court that they had not got copies of the order and complaint against them, but Qasmi’s counsel told the court that he would supply the relevant documents to them, according to the Hindustan Times.

The order comes at a controversial time as IT minister Kapil Sibal had recently discussed with representatives of some of the companies ways to guarantee the offensive contents are not posted.

India Today quoted him as saying: ‘There were some demeaning, degrading, clearly pornographic depictions of gods and goddesses which no reasonable, sensible person anywhere in the world would accept, on any site.

The minister insisted he was not smothering free speech but was suggesting screening possible ‘incendiary’ material.

The Hindu Times reported Facebook India, Facebook, Google India Pvt Ltd, Google Orkut, Youtube, Blogspot, Microsoft India Pvt Ltd, Microsoft, Zombie Time, Exboii, Boardreader, IMC India, My Lot, Shyni Blog and Topix were all given the order.

A Google spokesperson told the website: ‘We comply with valid court orders wherever possible, consistent with our long standing policy.

‘We’re yet to receive the details of this order and can’t comment on this specific case.’




2011 News

December 25, 2011

5 Churches Burned in Nigeria Riots; Death Toll Passes 127

Sectarian violence sparked by cartoons of Islam’s most revered figure spread to three more Nigerian cities before the end of last week, resulting in the burning of five churches and pushing the total death toll to more than 127.

by Christian TodayPosted: Monday, February 27, 2006, 15:56 (GMT)

Sectarian violence sparked by cartoons of Islam’s most revered figure spread to three more Nigerian cities before the end of last week, resulting in the burning of five churches and pushing the total death toll to more than 127.

Armed with machetes and clubs, Muslim youths in the northern Nigerian city of Potiskum on Friday attacked shops owned by mostly Christians and burned churches reported resident Ibrahim Dagbugur according to The Associated Press. It took police several hours to quell the riot that claimed the lives of four people.

The violence followed weeklong protests and violence starting Feb. 18 when Nigerian Muslims demonstrating in the northern and predominantly Muslim city of Bauchi targeted Christians and killed 18 people.

Caricatures of the Muslim prophet Muhammad – first printed in September by a Danish newspaper and reprinted in European media and elsewhere – have sparked angry protests by Muslims worldwide who consider any depiction of Allah and their prophets to be blasphemy.

Recent fighting is the worst to hit Nigeria since 2004 when Muslim-Christians clashes in northern Nigeria killed more than 700 people. Nigeria is almost entirely split between a northern Muslim population and a predominantly Christian south.

Experts have pointed out that although on the surface the violence appear to be religiously motivated, many of the past “Christian-Muslim clashes” in Nigeria were linked to ethnic, economic, and political conflicts with religious overtones.

Beside Potiskum in northeastern Yobe state, Kontagora in northern Niger state and Enugu, capital of southeastern Enugu state were also sites of violence on Friday.

In Kontagora, ten churches were burned and two people killed a resident told AP.

The mainly Christian southeastern city of Enuga witnessed at least one person killed by mobs that attacked ethnic Hausa Muslims.

According to AP, out of the 127 people killed this week in sectarian fighting in Nigeria, 80 died in the southeastern city of Onitsha.

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November 11, 2011

Turkey: Non-Muslims protest special tax from which Muslims are exempt

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” — Qur’an 9:29

Under heavy pressure from the European powers, the Ottoman Empire abolished the payment of the jizya, which is the cornerstone of the system of dhimmitude, in the 1850s. But even the secular Turkish state found a way to reestablish it under another name. As the Islamization of Turkey continues to advance, eventually this pretense will no longer be needed.

Meanwhile, how many of the learned analysts who invoke Turkey as a prime example of Islamic moderation (even though Kemalist Turkey was established by means of active and conscious restriction of political Islam) know that in secular Turkey non-Muslims pay a special tax from which Muslims are exempt, just as is directed in the Qur’an?

“Non-Muslim minorities protest wealth tax, expect apology,” by Ilyas Koç for Today’s Zaman, November 10 (thanks to Twostellas):

Victims of the discriminatory wealth tax, who are all non-Muslim minorities, demand an apology from the state 69 years after legislation was passed by Parliament on Nov. 11, 1942, requiring non-Muslims to pay a much higher rate of tax to the state.

Many well-known families in Turkey are among the victims. One such victim is the prominent Turkish Jewish businessman Hayim Alaton, the father of Alarko Holding’s executive board chairman Ýshak Alaton. Hayim Alaton was sent to Aþkale in the province of Erzurum to perform manual labor because he had failed to pay two separate taxes imposed on him.

Within the scope of wealth tax payment requirements, 1,229 non-Muslims were sent to Aþkale via the Haydarpaþa railroad station in Ýstanbul to perform the jobs assigned to them.

Ýshak Alaton and a group of his friends have stated that they will visit the Haydarpaþa railroad station on Nov. 11 in order to keep the memories of this tragic incident alive. He will be accompanied by lawyer Cem Murat Sofuoðlu, Professor Serap Yazýcý, Professor Ergun Özbudun and others.

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October 9, 2011

Scores of Coptic Egyptian Christians in Cairo Massacred While Conducting Peaceful Sit-In

Christian Copts of California

For more information, contact: Mounir Bishay (310) 641- 3387

                                                     WWW.Calcopts@sbcglobal.net

Sunday, October 9. 2001

Press Release

Scores of Coptic Egyptian Christians in Cairo Massacred While Conducting Peaceful Sit-In

Over 100,000 Coptic Egyptian Christians gathered in peaceful protest and to stage a sit-in outside the Egyptian state television building along the Nile, on Sunday, October 9, 2011.

The sit-in was a culmination of protests that took place over the last week in Cairo and other cities across Egypt. The Copts, a large Christian minority of about 15 million, were angered over numerous increasing attacks that have resulted in the destruction of many churches. The latest of these attacks targeted a newly built church in Almiranab, Aswan, south of Egypt. The church obtained all required building permits, including the governor’s approval, yet the Muslim neighbors objected to having a church constructed in their neighborhood. A compromise was reached where the Christians agreed to remove the bells and the cross from the top of the church. However, a few days later, after being incited by the Friday Muslim sermon, a large Muslim mob came in and destroyed, then burned the church to the ground.  The attack lasted several hours yet met no intervention from state officials – no police forces or fire fighters were dispatched to save the church.

As soon as the Sunday protest reached its meeting place in front of the TV building, the protesters came under attack by hundreds of thugs, in plain clothes, as well as large forces of police and military using live ammunition. Police vehicles and military tanks scaled sidewalks and ran over peaceful protesters, crushing their bodies and instantly killing them. This massacre by the Egyptian police and military is a stark contrast to the countless protests conducted by Islamists in which the government took no action against protesters.

This is just one criminal act out of a series of hundreds of terrorist attacks against Christians that have been escalating all over Egypt in recent months. The State authorities shared the responsibility for the previous attacks due to their lack of intervention, investigation, or prosecution of the attackers and today the blood of the Christians massacred falls squarely on the hands of Egyptian State Officials.

Recent fatwas (religious Islamic sanctions) issued by top Muslim religious leaders such as the Sheikh of Al Azhar and the Grand Mufti, maintained that Christians are infidels, thus putting Christians and their churches subject to religious cleansing by Muslims.

We call upon the United Nations to conduct an international inquiry in the matter as any investigation conducted by Egyptian authorities will likely be corrupted and biased.  We ask the International community to intervene to stop the persecution of the Coptic Christians of Egypt.

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September 30, 2011

Muslims attack Egypt Coptic church as sectarian violence continues

Coptic Church in Egypt.

CAIRO: Tension between Muslims and Copts is blazing in the southern town of Edfu after two residential buildings were set on fire, eye witnesses from the town said Friday.

The clashes started early Friday after a group of Muslim men surrounded the Mare’e Girgues church in opposition to construction expansions happening inside the church. A number of the men reportedly attempted to attack the building.

Others say others set parts of the church on fire, before turning to Coptic homes and shops in the town.

Residents said the Muslim men are attempting to prevent fire fighters from reaching the burned out buildings and several shops owned by Copts were vandalized.

Reports have not yet mentioned if there were injuries or deaths as a result of the violence.

This is the third incidents in two days that targets Coptic churches in Egypt after violence in Fayoum, south of Cairo, claimed one life after a man guarding a church was shot dead by militants who then fled the scene.

Security sources on Thursday afternoon said that a drive-by shooting in Fayoum left at least one security guard dead.

The attack apparently was outside the church’s kindergarten.

Details of the attack on the Rouda Church in the town are still murky, but according to one witness nearby, the attackers drove past the church and opened fire, in what is the most recent attack that could spark renewed fears of sectarianism in Egypt.

“I just heard the gun shots and saw that one guard was on the ground in obvious pain,” said Mona, a witness nearby.

In recent years, sectarianism has been reportedly on the rise, with both religious groups clashing in numerous towns and villages across Egypt.

This week’s incidents highlight the growing chasm that exists between the two religious groups.

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September 30, 2011

US attack in Yemen kills al-Awlaki

By KIMBERLY DOZIER and MATT APUZZO – Associated Press | AP – 1 hr 44 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a devastating double-blow to al-Qaida’s most dangerous franchise, U.S. counterterrorism forces killed two American citizens who played key roles in inspiring attacks against the U.S., U.S. and Yemeni officials said Friday. U.S-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, who edited the slick Jihadi Internet magazine, were killed in an air strike on their convoy in Yemen by a joint CIA-U.S. military operation, according to counterterrorism officials. Al-Awlaki was targeted in the killing, but Khan apparently was not targeted directly.

After three weeks of tracking the targets, U.S. armed drones and fighter jets shadowed the al-Qaida convoy before armed drones launched their lethal strike early Friday. The strike killed four operatives in all, officials said. All U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss matters of intelligence.

Al-Awlaki played a “significant operational role” in plotting and inspiring attacks on the United States, U.S. officials said Friday, as they disclosed detailed intelligence to justify the killing of a U.S. citizen. Khan, who was from North Carolina, wasn’t considered operational but had published seven issues of Inspire Magazine, offering advice on how to make bombs and the use of weapons. The magazine was widely read. Following the strike, a U.S. official outlined new details of al-Awlaki’s involvement in anti-U.S. operations, including the attempted 2009 Christmas Day bombing of a U.S.-bound aircraft. The official said that al-Awlaki specifically directed the men accused of trying to bomb the Detroit-bound plane to detonate an explosive device over U.S. airspace to maximize casualties.

The official also said al-Awlaki had a direct role in supervising and directing a failed attempt to bring down two U.S. cargo aircraft by detonating explosives concealed inside two packages mailed to the U.S. The U.S. also believes Awlaki had sought to use poisons, including cyanide and ricin, to attack Westerners.

The U.S. and counterterrorism officials all spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss intelligence matters. Al-Awlaki was killed by the same U.S. military unit that got Osama bin Laden. Al-Awlaki is the most prominent al-Qaida figure to be killed since bin Laden’s death in May.

U.S. word of al-Awlaki’s death came after the government of Yemen reported that he had been killed Friday about five miles from the town of Khashef, some 87 miles from the capital Sanaa.

The air strike was carried out more openly than the covert operation that sent Navy SEALs into bin Laden’s Pakistani compound, U.S. officials said.

Counterterrorism cooperation between the United States and Yemen has improved in recent weeks, allowing better intelligence-gathering on al-Awlaki’s movements, U.S. officials said. The ability to better track him was a key factor in the success of the strike, U.S. officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

Al-Awlaki’s death is the latest in a run of high-profile kills for Washington under President Barack Obama. But the killing raises questions that the death of other al-Qaida leaders, including bin Laden, did not.

Al-Awlaki is a U.S. citizen, born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, who had not been charged with any crime. Civil liberties groups have questioned the government’s authority to kill an American without trial.

Awlaki’s father, Nasser al-Awlaki of Yemen, had sued President Barack Obama and other administration officials 13 months ago to try to stop them from targeting his son for death. The father, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, argued that international law and the Constitution prevented the administration from assassinating his son unless he presented a specific imminent threat to life or physical safety and there were no other means to stop him.

But U.S. District Judge John Bates threw out the lawsuit in December, saying a judge does not have authority to review the president’s military decisions and that Awlaki’s father did not have the legal right to sue on behalf of his son. But Bates also seemed troubled by the facts of the case, which he wrote raised vital considerations of national security and for military and foreign affairs. For instance, the judge questioned why courts have authority to approve surveillance of Americans overseas but not their killing and whether the president could order an assassination of a citizen without “any form of judicial process whatsoever.”

U.S. officials have said they believe al-Awlaki inspired the actions of Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the attack at Fort Hood, Texas.

In New York, the Pakistani-American man who pleaded guilty to the May 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt said he was “inspired” by al-Awlaki after making contact over the Internet.

Al-Awlaki also is believed to have had a hand in mail bombs addressed to Chicago-area synagogues, packages intercepted in Dubai and Europe in October 2010.

Al-Awlaki’s death “will especially impact the group’s ability to recruit, inspire and raise funds as al-Awlaki’s influence and ability to connect to a broad demographic of potential supporters was unprecedented,” said terrorist analyst Ben Venzke of the private intelligence monitoring firm, the IntelCenter. But Venzke said the terror group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula will remain the most dangerous regional arm “both in its region and for the direct threat it poses to the U.S. following three recent failed attacks,” with its leader Nasir al-Wahayshi still at large.

Al-Awlaki wrote an article in the latest issue of the terror group’s magazine justifying attacking civilians in the West. It’s titled “Targeting the Populations of Countries that Are at War with the Muslims.”

Al-Awlaki served as imam at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Va., a Washington suburb, for about a year in 2001.

The mosque’s outreach director, Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, has said that mosque members never saw al-Awlaki espousing radical ideology while he was there and that he believes Awlaki’s views changed after he left the U.S.

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September 29, 2011

Iranian Pastor Faces Execution for Refusing to Recant Christian Faith

By Joshua Rhett Miller
Published September 29, 2011
| FoxNews.com

The lawyer of an Iranian pastor sentenced to death for refusing to renounce his Christian faith is hopeful an appeals court will acquit his client.

Attorney Mohammad Ali Dadkhah says he believes there’s a “95 percent chance” of acquittal for 32-year-old Yusuf Naderkhani.

Dadkhah told The Associated Press on Thursday that he has appeared before the appeals court over the past four days and expects a ruling by the end of next week.

An undated photograph circulated by religious rights organizations shows Yusuf Naderkhani and his family.

An undated photograph provided by the American Center for Law & Justice shows Yusuf Naderkhani, an Iranian pastor who faces execution for refusing to recant his Christian faith.

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Facing Execution for the ‘Crime’ of Being a Christian In Iran
He says neither Iranian law nor clerics have ever stipulated the death penalty as punishment for converting from Islam to Christianity.

Additionally, CBN News is reporting that the death penalty sentence for Naderkhani may be overturned.

Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice said in an email Wednesday evening that he’d gotten word of the chief judge’s decision, although official notice from the court had not yet been received.

He stressed that the ruling doesn’t mean that Naderkhani “will be set free without some additional punishment, potentially a long jail sentence or worse.”

Naderkhani, who maintains he has never been a Muslim as an adult, has Islamic ancestry and therefore must recant his faith in Jesus Christ, the 11th branch of Iran’s Gilan Provincial Court ruled. Iran’s Supreme Court had ordered the trial court to determine whether Naderkhani had been a Muslim prior to converting to Christianity.

The judges, according to the American Center for Law & Justice, demanded that Naderkhani recant his Christian faith before submission of evidence. Though the judgment runs against current Iranian and international laws and is not codified in Iranian penal code, the judge stated that the court must uphold the decision of the 27th Branch of the Supreme Court in Qom.

When asked to repent, Naderkhani stated: “Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?”

“To the religion of your ancestors, Islam,” the judge replied, according to the American Center for Law & Justice.
“I cannot,” Naderkhani said.

An unnamed source close to Naderkhani’s attorney, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, told the American Center for Law and Justice that a judge has agreed to overturn Naderkhani’s death sentence, but the report could not be independently confirmed.
Even if the sentence is overturned, Jordan Sekulow, the executive director of the ACLJ, said the message is that it would be unlikely that Naderkhani would be set free.

Naderkhani is the latest Christian cleric to be imprisoned in Iran for his religious beliefs. According to Elam Ministries, a United Kingdom-based organization that serves Christian churches in Iran, there was a significant increase in the number of Christians arrested solely for practicing their faith between June 2010 and January 2011. A total of 202 arrests occurred during that six-month period, including 33 people who remained in prison as of January, Elam reported.

An Assyrian evangelical pastor, Rev. Wilson Issavi, was imprisoned for 54 days for allegedly converting Muslims prior to his release in March 2010, Elam officials told FoxNews.com.

Naderkhani, a pastor in the 400-member Church of Iran, has been held in that country’s Gilan Province since October 2009, after he protested to local education authorities that his son was forced to read from the Koran at school. His wife, Fatemeh Pasandideh, was also arrested in June 2010 in an apparent attempt to pressure him to renounce his faith. She was released in October 2010, according to Amnesty International.

Naderkhani was sentenced to death for apostasy last September based on religious writings by Iranian clerics, including Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, despite the fact that there is no offense of “apostasy” in the nation’s penal code, Amnesty International reports.

In June, the Supreme Court of Iran ruled that a lower court should re-examine procedural flaws in the case, giving local judges the power to decide whether to release, execute or retry Naderkhani. The verdict, according to Amnesty International, includes a provision for the sentence to be overturned should Naderkhani renounce his faith.

Elise Auerbach, an Iranian analyst for Amnesty International USA, told FoxNews.com that an execution for apostasy has not been carried out in Iran since 1990. Naderkhani’s sentence is a “clear violation of international law,” she said.
“The key is to keep up the pressure and to publicize the story because it obviously outrages most people,” Auerbach said. “It’s part of the pattern of persecution based on religion in Iran.”

Kiri Kankhwende, a spokeswoman for Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a human rights organization that specializes in religious freedom, told FoxNews.com that Naderkhani was asked for the fourth time to renounce his faith during a hearing early Wednesday and he denied that request.

“We’re waiting to hear the final outcome,” she told FoxNews.com. “We’re still waiting to hear what they’ve decided.”

Kankhwende said Naderkhani could be executed Wednesday or Thursday.
“Iran is unpredictable,” she said. “We can’t say when it might happen. It’s a very real threat, but we can’t say when exactly.”

Officials at the U.S. State Department declined to comment when reached on Wednesday.Attempts to reach his attorney, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, were not successful.

House Speaker John Boehner said Naderkhani’s case is “distressing for people of every country and creed,” according to a statement released on Wednesday.
“While Iran’s government claims to promote tolerance, it continues to imprison many of its people because of their faith,” the statement read. “This goes beyond the law to an issue of fundamental respect for human dignity. I urge Iran’s leaders to abandon this dark path, spare [Naderkhani’s] life, and grant him a full and unconditional release.”

Father Jonathan Morris, a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of New York and an analyst for Fox News Channel, said Naderkhani’s case is “unmistakable evidence” that Iran is executing Christians simply because they refuse to become Muslims.
Morris continued: “Will President Obama, and the free world, allow the United Nations to continue in its cowardly silence on this matter?”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/09/28/iranian-pastor-faces-execution-for-refusing-to-recant-christian-faith/#ixzz1ZMLJHJ4O

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September 16, 2011

NGO report: 93,000 Copts left Egypt since March

Nearly 93,000 Coptic Christians have left Egypt since 19 March, a report by an Egypt-based Coptic NGO has said. The number may increase to 250,000 by the end of 2011, according to Naguib Gabriel, the head of the Egyptian Federation of Human Rights, which released the report.

The current trend of Coptic immigration endangers the structure of Egypt’s population, Gabriel told Al-Masry Al-Youm on Sunday. He urged the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Egyptian cabinet to work on curbing the phenomenon.

Gabriel based the data stated in the report on information from Coptic churches and communities abroad.

“Nearly 16,000 migrated to California, while 10,000 moved to New Jersey, 8000 to New York, and 8000 to other American states,” according to Gabriel. “Around 14,000 left to Australia, 17,000 to Canada, and 20,000 settled in the Netherlands, Italy, England, Austria, Germany and France.”

Gabriel attributed the Coptic emigration to hardline Salafi groups seeking to apply Islamic law, deny Copts senior government posts, and reduce incoming tourism. He also blamed attacks on Coptic churches and the government’s failure to bring attackers to justice.

Coptic author Kamal Zakher said the numbers in the report were exaggerated, but that concern over Coptic immigration is justifiable. Migration procedures take up to a year to complete, so it is illogical to say the January revolution caused the Copts to leave the country, Zakher said.

The head of the Evangelical denomination in Egypt, Safwat al-Bayadi, also voiced his anxiety about Coptic immigration, noting that the continuation of the trend depends on the political forces ruling the country in the future.

Christians form nearly 10 percent of Egypt’s population. Following the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak in February, concerns have been growing among Christians over the mounting political influence of Islamist groups, some of which view Copts as infidels and deny them the right to assume top government posts.

However, Egypt’s biggest Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, had stressed Christians’ right to the presidency and accepted them as members in its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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September 9, 2011

Muslims Blockade Christian Village in Egypt, Demand Demolition of Church

(AINA) — Christians in the Upper Egyptian village of Elmarinab in Edfu, Aswan province, have been forbidden to leave their homes or buy food until they remove the dome of St. George’s Church, which was rebuilt in its previous location. Village Muslims, backed by Muslim Salafists from neighboring villages, have threatened to demolish the church on Friday September 9 after prayers and use it as a mosque.
Despite the presence of security forces, Muslims have blocked the roads to the village, refusing passage of any Christians under any circumstance.

Yesterday the military governor in Aswan was contacted as Christians were starving in their homes. Security officers were sent and accompanied two Christian youths to buy food for the villagers. Muslims at the entrance of the village tried to stop the two security cars. “Failing that they threatened that this would be the last time,” said one villager. “It was heart-breaking to see the elderly running with the children to get a loaf of bread.”

On Friday September 2, a “reconciliation” meeting was held under the auspices of security between Muslims and Christians in which the Christians were forced to give in to the Muslim demands of the new church being stripped of crosses, bells and outside microphones (which churches never have).

“For the sake of peace we agreed to their demands,” said Father Makarios Boulos, “although the approved permit included crosses, bells and domes.”

On Tuesday evening, the same Muslims who attended the reconciliation meeting started to congregate near the church demanding the removal of the six small domes, which would, according to the church’s priest, make the whole church collapse if removed.

Muslims also demanded removal of any signs of it being a church. “It has to be called a ‘hospitality home,'” Father Makarios said.

Confronted with escalating Muslim demands, the Bishop of Aswan, Anba Hedra, refused and warned those who incite sectarian violence, pointing to the fact that the church was rebuilt legally, and any concessions on the part of the church was done for the love for the country, which is passing through a difficult phase. The military council was asked to send troops to protect the village against Muslim violence.

Early this morning two army tanks arrived at the village, manned by officers. The military governor paid a visit to the village today together with area heads of security to solve this crisis.

They listened to the Muslims, who insisted the previous church was not a church, but a hospitality home. The Coptic side was represented by Father Makarious Boulos, Father Salib Elias of the Aswan Coptic Diocese and lawyers representing the church, who presented all valid documents.

According to Mr. Mikhail, a worker at St. George’s Church, who was interviewed by Coptic TV, the Muslims were not represented by any official. “They said they are people who have control over the Muslim youths.”

Muslims chanted “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the greatest) and said they want the church razed. Mikhail said Security tried to calm them down but fearing the situation would turn for the worse, the meeting was recessed with the promise that “the army and security representatives will come to a solution acceptable to both parties before they leave the village.”

The authorities demanded that no construction be carried out or services held in the church, and Muslims to refrain from violence.

Muslims have been spreading news that the new church was never a church but a hospitality home. Father Makarios said that the church was always a church and has been protected by the police for twelve years and they already have a hospitality home one block away.

The church of St. George, built a century ago with soft bricks and palm tree branches, was so dilapidated the local council said it would be unsafe to carry out services there. The church was given permission by the Aswan Governor in June 2010 to rebuild, and the authorities had approved the design. In June 2011 the building of the church began and services were held.

Father Makarious said the village Muslims never showed any bad feelings when permission for the rebuilding the old church was issued. “The church was nearly complete when Muslims started to complain.”

Village Copts have warned that any attack on their church will lead to sectarian clashes. It was reported that some Coptic youth are inside the church guarding it against potential vandalism. Copts have also reported that while they are detained in their homes, Muslims have destroyed their crops.

Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination (EARD) reported the incident to the justice committee affiliated to the Prime Minister’s office. A statement issued by EARD today condemed the incitement to demolish the domes of St. George’s Church. The statement accused the Salafists of inciting the village Muslims against the Copts and criticized the “obvious indifference, amounting to collusion, of officials responsible for the security of the country.” The statement held the Military Council responsible should of any harm come to the Copts, their property or their church together with its bells, crosses and domes.

Dr. Naguib Gabriel, head of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organization (EUHRO), said this incident is one in a series of persecutions and attacks on Copts and their churches. “The Muslim Brotherhood announced immediately after the revolution that it is impossible to build any new church in Egypt, and churches which are demolished should never be rebuilt, as well as no crosses over churches or bells to be rung.”

Dr. Gabriel, who is a Copt, said the siege of the Copts in their homes is an “international crime” where a minority, just because of its religion, is imprisoned in homes and threatened with destruction of their religious buildings. “When we bring the Coptic case to the International community, no one should blame the Copts or accuse them of exaggeration when they highlight the Muslim intolerance in Egypt.”
By Mary Abdelmassih

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August 31, 2011

Muslims, police scuffle at Rye Playland over amusement park’s head scarf ban; 15 arrests made

NY Daily News

 

CORINNE LESTCH AND BILL HUTCHINSON, DAILY NEWS WRITERS

Police on the scene at Playland on Tuesday (Norman Y. Lono for NY Daily News)

Rye Playland was shut down Tuesday after cops scuffled with Muslims upset that women wearing head scarves were barred from the rides, witnesses said.

Fifteen people, including three women, were charged with disorderly conduct and assault in the chaos, authorities said.

The Westchester County park was packed with Muslims celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr –  the holiday marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

One woman, Entisai Ali, began arguing with cops over the amusement park’s head scarf, or hijab, rule, said Dena Meawad, 18, of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

The ban, which is not Muslim specific, was imposed about 3 years ago mostly to prevent hats from falling onto the tracks of roller coasters and other rides, park officials said.

“The cops started getting loud with her and she started getting loud, too. They pushed her on the ground and arrested her,” Meawad said.

Her cousin, Kareem Meawad, 17, went to try to protect the woman and was beaten by cops and also arrested, she added. Her brother, Issam Meawad, 20, was pushed to the ground and taken into custody when he tried to help his cousin, she said.

“She just wanted to get on a ride. That was it,” Dena Meawad said of the initial confrontation. “It’s clear, this all happened because we’re Muslim.”

John Hodges, chief inspector of Westchester County Public Safety, insisted that police did not use excessive force.

He said up to 100 cops from surrounding departments converged on the park.

Two park rangers were injured in the melee, prompting felony assault charges against two people arrested, officials said.

The ugly incident happened just after 1 p.m. The event was organized by the Muslim American Society of New York, and attracted 3,000 Muslims from Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Westchester County.

Ali’s sister, Ayman Alrabah, 24, of Brooklyn said her husband, brother and father were all tackled by cops and put into handcuffs when they tried to help her sister.

Alrabah said she was unaware of the head-scarf rule until she and her sister tried to get on the park’s Dragon Coasters.

“We requested a refund and all of a sudden an argument became a riot,” Alrabah said. “Cops came. They were hitting my brother, my dad. My husband was on the floor and they were handcuffing him.

She said her 4-year-old son was “traumatized” by seeing his father arrested.

“They treated us like animals, like we were nothing,” Alrabah said. “They came with their dogs and sticks. We came to have fun.”

‘It’s clear, this all happened because we’re Muslim,’ says Dena Meawad. (Norman Y. Lono for NY Daily News)

The park was closed for about two hours because of the fracas. It reopened at about 6 p.m.

Peter Tartaglia, deputy commissioner of Westchester County Parks, said the Muslim American Society of New York was warned in advance of the rule barring head scarves on rides for safety reasons.

“Part of our rules and regulations, which we painstakingly told them over and over again, is that certain rides you cannot wear any sort of headgear,” Tartaglia said. “It’s a safety issue for us on rides, it could become a projectile.”

Many Muslims were given refunds as they left the park disappointed.

“In this heightened state of Islamaphobia, a woman wearing a hajib is an easy target these days,” said Zead Ramadan, president of the Council on American-Islamic RelationsNew York. “Unfortunately, this turned ugly due to a lot of miscommunication.”

Photos: Top: Police respond to Rye Playland on Tuesday (Norman Y. Lono for NY Daily News)

Bottom: ‘It’s clear, this all happened because we’re Muslim,’ says Dena Meawad. (Norman  Y. Lono for NY Daily News)

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July 16, 2011

HB 1388 PASSED

You just spent $20,000,000 to move members/supporters of Hamas, a terrorist organization, to the United States ; housing, food, transportation, the whole enchilada.

HB 1388 PASSED

Whether you are an Obama fan, or not, EVERYONE IN THE U.S. Needs to know….

H.R. 1388 was passed, behind our backs. You may want to read about it…

It wasn’t mentioned on the news… Just went by on the ticker tape at the bottom of the CNN screen.

Obama funds $20M in tax payer dollars to immigrate Hamas Refugees to the USA . This is the news that did not, and will not, make the headlines.

By executive order, President Barack Hussien Obama has ordered the expenditure of $20.3 million in “migration assistance” to the Palestinian refugees and “conflict victims” in Gaza .

The “presidential determination” (ain’t that nice?) which allows hundreds of thousands of Palestinians with ties to Hamas to resettle in the United States , was signed and appears in the Federal Register.

Few on Capitol Hill, or in the media, took note that the order provides a free ticket replete with housing, transportation and food allowances to individuals who have displayed their overwhelming support to the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in the parliamentary election of January 2006.

Now we learn that he is allowing thousands of Palestinian refuges to move to, and live in, the US at American taxpayer expense.

These important, and insightful, issues are being “lost” in the blinding bail-outs and “stimulation” packages.

Doubtful? To verify this for yourself: www.thefederalregister.com/d.p/2009-02-04-E9-2488

YOU MUST PASS THIS ON… AMERICA NEEDS TO KNOW…

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June 24, 2011

Bulletin of Islamic Attacks: May 26 – June 20, 2011

May 26, 2011
Pakistan
Muslim landowners use tractors to plough over a Christian cemetery in order to seize the land illegally. A 29-year-old mother is drugged and raped by six men. In both cases, police covers up for the culprits. Government must act, Faisalabad priest says.

May 27, 2011
Egypt
A Military court in Egypt has sentenced three Christian Copts to 5-years imprisonment on charges of possession of firearms and pocket knives. The Court released all other Muslims and Copts arrested following clashes on May 19 over the re-opening of St. Mary and St. Abraham churches in Ain Shams West.

Defense lawyer Abraham Edward said “This is a very unjust, severe and cruel verdict.” He said that as lawyers they are unable to fathom what is going on. “Today’s case is very strange, a case where there is not one shred of evidence to indict them. If this case went in front of the International Court of Justice they would all be set free.” He criticized the five-year prison sentence handed down to Ayad Emad Ayad for carrying a pocket knife.

Pakistan (Hat tip to Jihadwatch)
A powerful Muslim businessman, with the help of a group of accomplices, kidnapped two Christian sisters, forced them to convert to Islam and marry him. The girl’s father reported the kidnapping to the police but the police blocked investigations by reversing the facts: the daughters fled because of their father’s violence. A priest from Faisalabad points out that the kidnapping of young women has become “common practice”, because the authorities and police are “puppets in the hands of extremists.” Update HERE. More HERE.

Algeria
An Algerian Christian was sentenced to five years imprisonment for blasphemy on Wednesday after sharing his Christian faith with a neighbor. The verdict came days after authorities forced the permanent closure of seven Protestant churches in Algeria’s Béjaia province. More HERE.

May 29, 2011
Egypt (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
An Egyptian military court on Sunday sentenced two Coptic Christians to five years in jail for violence and trying to turn a factory into an unlicensed church, judicial sources said. The two men, also convicted of possessing weapons, were arrested on May 18 after clashes between Christians and Muslims in Cairo’s Ain Shams district as the Copts planned to hold prayers in the building. A Coptic-led group that took part in a reconciliation meeting between the two sides says the two men are innocent and their lawyers will try to appeal the ruling.

May 30, 2011
Iraq
Iraq’s Christian community has been the victim of another targeted killing. This morning, an Orthodox Christian was killed in Mosul, northern Iraq. The dead man had been the victim of two attempted ransom abductions in the past, but in both cases, he was able to escape from his attackers. This time, the murderers waited for him as he went to work, firing at him several times in cold blood.

May 31, 2011
Pakistan/Iraq/Egypt
Raped and Ransacked in the Muslim World by Raymond Ibrahim. “Plundering the possessions, lives, and dignity of Christians in the Islamic world: is this a random affair, a product of the West’s favorite offenders-poverty, ignorance, grievance-or is it systematic, complete with ideological backing?”

June 1, 2011
Nazareth (Hat tipt to JihadWatch)
A senior Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land says the Christian community is in danger of dying out in Nazareth, an Israeli Arab city where Christians believe Jesus spent his youth. Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo says many of Nazareth’s minority Christians began emigrating more than a decade ago largely because of tensions with local Islamists.

Pakistan
Armed Muslims disrupted the worship service of a church outside Lahore on Sunday (May 29), cursing the congregation, smashing a glass altar and desecrating Bibles and a cross, Christian leaders said.

June 6, 2011
Pakistan (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
The Islamic party of Pakistan, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan and launched a campaign asking to ban the circulation of the Bible, described as a “pornographic ” and “blasphemous book”. This is a new attack against the Christian community in Pakistan, frightened by the attacks and threats suffered after the death of Bin Laden, already under attack due to the damaging effects of the blasphemy law, with the consequence of death penalty to those who insult the Koran or the Prophet Muhammad.

June 7, 2011
Pakistan (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
Several provincial legislators in Punjab belonging to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have objected to Punjab cabinet member Kamran Michael presenting the budget on grounds that he is Christian.

Pakistan (Hat tip to AtlasShrugs)
An Islamist politcal party in Pakistan has called on the country’s Supreme Court to investigate “blasphemous” and “pornographic” passages of the Bible, appealing to Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law. In response, the Catholic bishop of Lahore has appealed to the faithful to resist this provocation and asked for prayer and patience.

June 8, 2011
Egypt (Hat tip to Translating Jihad)
This video shows Shaykh Ashraf Yusuf Hassan in the middle of a mob of Muslims, calling on them to burn down churches in the Cairo district of Imbaba. The original Arabic-language video was posted on YouTube on 9 May, just two days after the church was burned down. Twelve were killed and 52 wounded in just the latest round of violence against Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority. Apparently 48 Muslims and Christians have been arrested in connection with this incident, yet reportedly the man in this video continues to go free.

June 8, 2011
Indonesia
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has expressed “grave concerns” about increased violence against Christians and other religious minorities in Indonesia and urged the government to tackle Islamic extremism.

The Christian group visited survivors of clashes that killed several people, and spoke with officials of churches in cities Bekasi and Bandung, which “were forced to close”. CSW stressed several pastors complained that they “faced increasing harassment, threats and attacks.” Pastor Palti Panjetan of the HKBP Filadelfia church in Bekasi said despite winning a court ruling granting permission to use their building, the local mayor has forbidden the congregation to use the church.

June 9, 2011
Nigeria
Police in northern Nigeria said on Thursday they have arrested 14 suspected Islamists thought to be linked to bomb attacks on a church and police stations that killed 14 people this week. The arrests were made in the troubled city of Maiduguri, where attacks blamed on an extremist sect have killed dozens in recent months. More HERE. Update HERE.

June 10, 2011
Egypt (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
Eritrean Christians fleeing persecution in their homeland are facing imprisonment, torture, beatings and sexual assault in Egypt, reports Barnabas Fund. The charity, which supports the persecuted church worldwide, estimates that hundreds of Eritrean Christian refugees have been subjected to terrible abuse after arriving in Egypt.

Egypt is the most popular destination for Christians escaping from Eritrea, one of the most hostile countries in the world for followers of the faith.

June 11, 2011
Pakistan
Pakistani anti-terrorism court acquitted 70 people who, in various roles, were involved in the Gojra massacre of August 2009 (see Fareed Khan, “Eight Christians burned alive in Punjab,” in AsiaNews, 2 August 2009). The anti-Christian violence broke out following blasphemy allegations. During a wedding, a group of Christians supposedly burnt pages of the Qur’an, a pretext used to strike at the religious minority.

During the attack by hundreds of extremists (brought in by bus and trucks), ten people died, eight burnt alive. Four churches and various homes were also set on fire.

Egypt (Hat tip to NewEnglishReview)
Five weeks after the fall of the Egyptian regime, Ayman Anwar Mitri’s apartment was torched. When he showed up to investigate, he was bundled inside by bearded Islamists.

Mr. Mitri is a member of the Christian Coptic minority that accounts for one-tenth of the country’s 83 million people. The Islamists accused him of having rented the apartment-by then unoccupied-to loose Muslim women.

Inside the burnt apartment, they beat him with the charred remains of his furniture. Then, one of them produced a box cutter and performed what he considered an appropriate punishment under Islam: He amputated Mr. Mitri’s right ear. “When they were beating me, they kept saying: ‘We won’t leave any Christians in this country,'” Mr. Mitri recalled in a recent interview, two months after the March attack. “Here, there is a war against the Copts,” he said. His attackers, who were never arrested or prosecuted, follow the ultrafundamentalist Salafi strain of Islam that promotes an austere, Saudi-inspired worldview.

June 12, 2011
Nigeria (Hat tip to AtlasShrugs)
An extremist Islamic group is being held responsible for a series of recent attacks in Nigeria, which have left 16 dead and destroyed the Catholic Cathedral of St. Patrick in the northern capital city of Maiduguri. St. Patrick’s Cathedral was seriously damaged, windows and doors destroyed, the whole building was shaken to its foundations by the violence of the explosion.

Kosovo (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
The Kosmet Strategic Network NGO, which gathers 70 Serb organizations of that type, has communicated that few days ago the church was broken into and turned into a public toilet and waste dump. The attacks on this church have been going on constantly even after the arrival of international forces in 1999, when the sanctity was burned from inside.

Egypt (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
On the night of March 8, Yasser Makram was on his way home from work, his pickup truck full of garbage, as he turned up the winding dirt road on the edge of Egypt’s capital to approach his home in the crowded Cairo slum known popularly as Garbage City. As he inched around a curve, he saw in his rearview mirror a swarm of people running toward the truck. “I didn’t know what was happening,” he says. Before he could consider the possibilities, the mob pulled him from the truck. “They demanded to know if I was Christian.”

Makram’s hospital report says the 27-year-old suffered “nerve damage” and “multiple deep wounds and fractures” that night. A long, sinister scar – a knife wound – now cuts across his face, ear to ear. And it will be at least a year before he can drive his garbage truck again. The mob stabbed him in the chest and beat him with pipes, breaking an arm and one of his ribs, before stripping him naked and dragging him, semiconscious, up a dark and dusty road to the foot of the Citadel, a medieval Islamic fort.

Three months later, no one has been charged with the crime, the police apparently having shown no interest in filing a report while Makram was hospitalized. And Makram has no idea who his attackers were. But he remembers their response to the strangers who finally intervened to help him: “This is a Christian son of a bitch,” they said. “We’re going to kill him.”

Egypt
Five weeks after the fall of the Egyptian regime, Ayman Anwar Mitri’s apartment was torched. When he showed up to investigate, he was bundled inside by bearded Islamists. Mr. Mitri is a member of the Christian Coptic minority that accounts for one-tenth of the country’s 83 million people. The Islamists accused him of having rented the apartment–by then unoccupied–to loose Muslim women.

Inside the burnt apartment, they beat him with the charred remains of his furniture. Then, one of them produced a box cutter and performed what he considered an appropriate punishment under Islam: He amputated Mr. Mitri’s right ear.

“When they were beating me, they kept saying: ‘We won’t leave any Christians in this country,'” Mr. Mitri recalled in a recent interview, two months after the March attack. Blood dripped through a plastic tube from his unhealed wound to a plastic container. “Here, there is a war against the Copts,” he said.

June 13, 2011
Algeria
The High Commissioner of police in Bejaia ordered all Christian churches closed, including places of worship still under construction; if not, the commissioner threatened “severe consequences and punishments” would result.

Pakistan
Sheikhupura police this month tortured a young Christian woman into revealing the whereabouts of the legal team helping her family after an influential Muslim family kidnapped her and her sister, sources said.
Police also helped the Muslim family beat relatives of the Christian woman on court premises and attacked the offices of the organization trying to help her family, they said.

June 14, 2011
Pakistan
Pakistan’s Islamist party, Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islami (JUI), has petitioned to have the Bible banned from Pakistan because it violates the nation’s notorious blasphemy laws. The move by the JUI is just the latest episode in the ongoing and increasingly deadly persecution of Christians in that Islamic nation.

According to JUI leader Maulana Abdul Rauf Farooqi, the Bible contains passages that show biblical figures whom Muslims regard as prophets (such as Abraham and Solomon) to be engaging in “a variety of moral crimes.” As such, the JUI has called on Pakistan’s supreme court to have the entire Book banned from the country if the offending passages are not removed.

June 15, 2011
Pakistan
At least 10 Christian families in a village in Pakistan’s Punjab Province have fled their homes after a throng of area Muslims accused a Christian of blaspheming Islam on Friday, June 10th.

Britain (Hat tip to GatesofVienna)
A debate on the treatment of Christians took place on May 24th in the oldest building on the Parliamentary estate, Westminster Hall. While much was said about the appalling way in which Christians are systematically persecuted throughout the world today, attention was also paid to the way in which citizens of the United Kingdom are maltreated due to their Christian faith.

June 17, 2011
USA – Dearborn, MI (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
Pastor Terry Jones led a rally against radical Islam at city hall before trying to continue his protest at the nearby Arab International Festival, but he never made it there. Protesters got physical with Jones as he tried to head for the festival. He barely made it off the corner of Michigan and Schaefer. Dearborn police made several arrests after urging the pastor to take a car instead of trying to walk the two miles to the festival. More HERE.

Pakistan
The students of a madrassa tried to force a Christian child to convert to Islam. His uncle was attacked for defending him, and accused of blasphemy. A priest said, “This is a common practice in the region. Many cases of forced conversions are not made known”. The authorities turn a blind eye to the problem.

Pakistan
Christians in Pakistan remained fearful Thursday, June 16, after a court in Pakistan acquitted 70 Muslims who were suspected of killing Christians in one of the country’s worst sectarian clashes in recent memory. At least eight Christians burned to death in August 2009, in what became known as the “Gojra Massacre” named after the town where the killings took place, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) outside Punjab province’s capital, Lahore. Two others also died in separate attacks on Gojra’s Christian colony by Muslim extremists, and churches and homes were reportedly set on fire.

However a Pakistani anti-terrorism court acquitted the 70 suspects, citing an absence of Christian witnesses in the courtroom and a lack of evidence against the accused, trial observers said.

June 20, 2011
Uzbekistan
Recently a Christian in eastern Uzbekistan was beaten by police, another was threatened with death by an axe while a Baptist congregation was promised prison for failure to co-operate in a pre-trial investigation of their pastor.

Poland
Poland has granted asylum to 16 Christian refugees who accompanied Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski on a flight back from Tunisia.The Foreign Ministry said Friday, June 17, that the six adults and 10 children were “political refugees” from Eritrea and Nigeria, whose lives have been upturned by recent turmoil in North Africa.

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June 6, 2011

Al-Qaida militant killed in US strike in Pakistan

By ISHTIAQ MEHSUD, Associated Press – 1 hr 20 mins ago

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan – A top al-Qaida commander and possible replacement for Osama bin Laden was killed in an American drone-fired missile strike close to the Afghan border, a fax from the militant group he heads and a Pakistani intelligence official said Saturday.

Ilyas Kashmiri’s apparent death is another blow to al-Qaida just over a month after bin Laden was killed by American commandos in a northwest Pakistani army town. Described by U.S. officials as al-Qaida’s military operations chief in Pakistan, the 47-year-old Pakistani was one of five most-wanted militant leaders in the country, accused of a string of bloody attacks in South Asia, including the 2008 Mumbai massacre, as well as aiding plots in the West. Washington had offered a $5 million bounty for information leading to his location.

His death was not confirmed publicly by the United States or Pakistani officials. Verifying who has been killed in the drone strikes is difficult. Initial reports have turned out to be wrong in the past, including one in September 2009 that said Kashmiri had been killed. Sometimes they are never formally denied or confirmed by authorities here or in the United States.

But a fax from the militant group he was heading — Harakat-ul-Jihad al-Islami’s feared “313 Brigade” — confirmed Kashmiri was “martyred” in the strike at 11:15 p.m. Friday in South Waziristan tribal region. It was sent to journalists in Peshawar.

“God willing, America, which is the ‘pharaoh’ of this, will soon see a revenge attack, and our real target is America,” it said. The statement was handwritten written on a white page bearing name of the group, which has not previously communicated with the media.

The Pakistani official also said Kashmiri was among nine militants killed in the strike. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with his agency’s policy. On Friday night, officials said several missiles hit a compound. The official Saturday said the men were meeting in an apple orchard near the house when the missiles hit.

Kashmiri’s name was on a list of militants that the United States and Pakistan recently agreed to jointly target, officials have said. The successful strike could help repair ties between the two countries that were badly damaged by the unilateral American raid, especially if Islamabad helped provide intelligence leading up to the attack.

Said to be blind in one eye and missing a finger, Kashmiri was one of the country’s most accomplished — and vicious — militants. He fought with jihadi fighters in Afghanistan and in Indian-held Kashmir in the 1990s and was so close to al-Qaida’s central command that he had been mentioned as a contender for replacing bin Laden, though many analysts thought the fact that he was not an Arab meant he was unlikely to get the post.

Indian officials have alleged he was involved in the 2008 Mumbai siege that killed more than 160 people. He has also been named a defendant in an American court over a planned attack on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in 2005.

In an ongoing terror trial in Chicago, testimony from an American-Pakistani militant has alleged that Kashmiri helped plan the Mumbai siege and wanted to attack U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin. Kashmiri had been angry over U.S. drone attacks inside Pakistan and wanted to target the company, David Coleman Headley testified.

Kashmiri has most recently been linked to last month’s 18-hour assault on a naval base in Karachi. He is also accused of masterminding several bloody raids on Pakistan police and intelligence buildings in 2009 and 2010, as well as a failed assassination attempt against then-President Pervez Musharraf in 2003.

The U.S Department of State says he organized a 2006 suicide bombing against the U.S. consulate in Karachi that killed four people, including an American diplomat.
American drones began firing missiles at al-Qaida and Taliban targets along the border in 2005, but the attacks picked up pace in 2008 and have risen in frequency ever since. Pakistani army officers and politicians publicly protest them, too weak to admit to working with the ever unpopular America in targeting fellow Pakistanis, but the country’s intelligence agencies have been known to occasionally provide targeting information.

Opposition to the strikes grew this year after a CIA contractor shot and killed two Pakistanis in the street, triggering ever more intense anti-American anger. After the bin Laden raid, which was seen by many here as an outrageous violation of the country’s sovereignty, the parliament issued a declaration calling for the attacks to end.

Pakistani leaders were not immediately available for comment on Friday’s attack. Kashmiri was accused of killing many Pakistanis, including police and army officers, so their public reaction may be muted.

The United States does not acknowledge the CIA-run program, though its officials have confirmed the death of high-value targets before, including the head of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, in 2009 — a strike welcomed by many Pakistan officials because he too was a sworn enemy of the country. Washington says the strikes are accurately killing militants and are disrupting plots against the West as well as planned attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

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May 26, 2011

Bulletin of Islamic Attacks: May 2 – May 25, 2011

May 2, 2011
Pakistan
Hundreds of Muslims in Gujranwala attacked Christians’ homes, a school and a Presbyterian church building after learning that police had released two Christians accused of “blasphemy” – amid reports of another alleged desecration of the Quran.

May 3, 2011
Pakistan
In the aftermath of the April 30th Muslim attacks on a Presbyterian seminary after a false accusation that Christians desecrated the Koran, at least 3,000 Christians have fled for their lives.

May 6, 2011
Nigeria

Muslim attackers killed seventeen Christians and burned down several Christian homes in the village of Karum. Since the introduction of Sharia law in northern Nigeria in 1999, thousands of Christians have been killed by Muslims, and local officials have failed to bring the perpetrators to justice. Update HERE on the killing of Christian Nigerians.

May 7, 2011
Pakistan
Police have charged a mentally ill Christian with “injuring religious feelings” under Pakistan’s widely condemned blasphemy laws.

Syria
Christian communities across Syria have been attacked by anti-government protesters in recent weeks who are being led by hard-line Islamists. Also Christians have come under pressure to either join in protests demanding the resignation of President Bashir Assad, or else leave the country. Eye witnesses report seeing around 20 masked men on motorcycles open fire on a home in a Christian village outside Dara’a, in southern Syria. Another source said that churches had received threatening letters over Easter, telling them either to join the protests or leave. In Karak, Muslim Salafists forced villagers to join the protests and remove pictures of the president from their home. One man who refused was reportedly found hanged on his front porch the next morning.

Egypt
Update of this story: Thousands of Christians flocked to Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo Friday in response to a protest organized by Salafi Muslims last week in front of the church. The conservative Islamist group had gathered its members to protest for the release of the wives of two Coptic priests, who some believe have been detained by the church after allegedly converting to Islam. There was a strong military presence at the cathedral Friday ahead of the protest. Mina Salib, one of the protesters, said that “Christians all over Egypt were deeply disturbed by last Friday’s protest and came to express their anger and assert their defense of the Cathedral against any attacks.” Mina added that people immediately responded to the call to protect the church as result of the attack directed against Pope Shenouda.

May 8, 2011
Egypt
Christians Copts in the area of Embaba were attacked Saturday evening by Muslim Salafis. The attacks lasted for 14 hours. The Muslims fired guns and rifles and hurled Molotov cocktails at Coptic churches, houses and businesses. 12 Copts were killed and 232 injured.

The church of Saint Mina was the first to be attacked. According to its pastor Fr. Abanoub the attack started at 5.30 PM on Saturday May 7, when church parishioners noticed a large number of Salafis, estimated at 3000 men, congregating near the church. Anticipating trouble, the army was called. The Salafis went to the church and asked to search it because they believed a Christian girl named who had converted to Islam, married a Salafi and wanted to revert back to Christianity, was hiding inside the church.

The second church attacked by Salafis was St. Mary and St Abanob, also in Embaba. Muslims prevented the fire brigade from reaching it. The third church attacked was St. Mary Church in Wehda Street in Embaba, the ground floor of which was completely torched. More HERE.

May 9, 2011
Malaysia (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
Islam is under siege in Malaysia because aggressive Christians are determined to convert Muslims who are nonchalant about their faith, several Islamist groups alleged. The Muslim Organisations in Defence of Islam accused Christians of strategising an elaborate plan to ensure that more and more Muslims leave the faith, which is illegal in Malaysia. The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship, together with partners Global Day of Prayer, Marketplace Penang and Penang Pastors Fellowship, said the claims against their community were lies.

May 12, 2011
Pakistan (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
Once more, Pakistan’s ‘black law’ strikes again. A Muslim businessman has used the infamous blasphemy law against a rival and former associate, who happens to be Christian. More and more, the law is being used to persecute the country’s Christian minority or settle personal scores. The victim is Gulzar Masih, from Sialkot, who owns a bookstore. Yesterday, he and his son had to flee town, fearing reprisals by local Muslims who tried to set fire to his shop. Only the intervention of police stopped the attackers.

May 15, 2011
Egypt (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
Violence erupted in a Cairo neighborhood when pro-Coptic protesters clashed with unidentified men, leaving at least two people dead and 60 injured. The demonstrators initially staged a sit-in in front of the state TV building to demand greater rights for the religious minority. Problems between Egypt’s Muslim majority and its Coptic Christian minority have been on the rise in recent months, with a number of violent clashes reported between the two groups. More HERE.

May 16, 2011
Iraq (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
An Iraqi Chaldean Christian man was abducted, tortured and then beheaded by Al Qaeda jihadis. The victim was from Kirkuk, northern Iraq. He had been kidnapped three days ago and the family had received a ransom request. However, negotiations for his release did not work out and so he was brutally murdered. A pastor in Kirkuk said that kidnappers had pressured his employer to fire him because he was a Christian. More HERE.

Nigeria
Christians from a local Evangelical Church congregation in this Plateau state town have been displaced after Muslim extremists set their church building and some homes on fire last month. The Rev. Ishaku Danyok of the church said that the April 29 incident occurred after Muslims approached Christian music shop owner Gabriel Kiwase and told him that his music was disturbing them as they said their prayers.

The young Christian man “quietly switched off the music set, and then the Muslims left, only to return about 20 minutes later to burn down the music shop and then go on rampage, burning down houses belonging to some Christians in the town,” Danyok said. Update HERE.

May 17, 2011
EU (Hat tip to Persecutin.org)
A religious liberty campaigner has been heckled at an EU meeting for saying Christians should not be sent to prison for peacefully expressing their opinions. A room full of feminist and homosexual activists jeered at Dr Gudrun Kugler when she spoke about the intolerance faced by Christians in Europe. Some of the crowd said that Christians ought to be thrown in jail if they make a “negative comment” against a “minority group”.

May 18, 2011
Pakistan
Two more shocking cases have surfaced in Pakistan where Christians were badly treated by Muslims. The first concerned two Christian women working at a Lahore, Pakistan, hospital, who were allegedly “manhandled” by a leader at the Fatima Memorial Hospital on Tuesday, April 19, 2011. A source close to the situation said that Nusrat Bibi and Muneeran Bibi, who are both married female sanitary workers at the hospital were “brutally thrashed” and “unlawfully detained for several hours,” after being assaulted by a Muslim officer at the medical facility.

In another disturbing case, this one in a town located in the Punjab, the Christian Communication Network Pakistan (CCNP) told ANS that “a gang of Muslim men, on the behest of a former member of the Punjab Provincial Assembly, “invaded two Christian houses” in the city. Adnan Sher, an activist of CCNP, said that a Christian man, Sharif Gull, was abducted at gunpoint by the Muslim “hoodlums.”

Adnan Sher then alleged that the Muslim mob also attacked at the house of another Christian man, Idrees Asif. He added that the alleged culprits, armed with clubs, thrashed the men and women of Asif’s family and ripped off the cloths of the Christian women and made publicly nude.

Azerbaijan (Hat tip to Persecution.org)
Within the space of three days in mid-May, three Protestant communities in the town of Sumgait (Sumqayit) north of the Azerbaijani capital Baku were raided by police and officials of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations.

Syria
Syria’s minority Christians are watching the protests sweeping their country with trepidation, fearing their religious freedom could be threatened if President Bashar Assad’s autocratic but secular rule is overthrown. For many Syrian Christians, the flight of their brethren from sectarian conflict in neighboring Iraq and recent attacks on Christians in Egypt have highlighted the dangers they fear they will face if Assad succumbs to the wave of uprisings sweeping the Arab world.

Iraq
The body of Chaldean Christian Ashur Issa Yaqub was found on Monday (May 16) with marks of severe torture and mutilation. He had worked as a construction worker from the northeastern city of Kirkuk, and al Qaeda members had demanded $100,000 for his release, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). Sources close to a Christian reportedly kidnapped, tortured and murdered by al Qaeda over the weekend said the kidnappers had pressured his employer to fire him because he was a Christian.

May 19, 2011
Pakistan
An influential Muslim family in a village near Sheikhupura is holding a 17-year-old Christian girl hostage because one of her brothers allegedly eloped with a woman from the Muslim family. The Muslim parents have threatened further retaliation against the Christian family if they do not produce their daughter, whom they have also threatened to publicly shoot dead as an “honor killing.”

An area clergyman identified only as Father Emmanuel called the situation “critical,” saying it has pitted the area’s 1,800 Muslim families against its 70-to-100 Christian families and could lead to violence. More HERE.

Indonesia
Islamic extremist groups disrupted two post-Easter services in Cirebon as police failed to stop the violence, this according to Hendardi, chairman of the Setara Institute, an NGO fighting for human rights and religious freedom in Indonesia. The activist slammed police for its “powerlessness” vis-à-vis “hostile” acts perpetrated by radical movements, which interrupted religious services.

Pakistan
The situation in Abbotabad is “critical” for religious minorities, who are “fasting and praying for peace in the region”, Fr Javed Akram Gill, a parish priest in the town where Osama Bin Laden was killed tells AsiaNews. The priest confirms that the death of the Al Qaeda “has raised fears within the Christian community” because “every time the Americans say or do something, Christians [in Pakistan] become the number one target.” Together with the Catholics, the faithful of other Christian denominations “prefer to stay inside” and their leaders refrain from making pastoral visits.

Egypt
On the morning of May 19 two Coptic priests went to St. Mary and St. Abraham Church and opened it together with some of the Coptic residents, but later in the day thousands of Muslims surrounded the church to protest its opening, hurled stones at the church building and the Copts, who responded by throwing stones. The army and the police stood there watching and did not intervene.

Unable to secure the church, the army and police closed it and arranged for a “reconciliation” meeting between the Coptic priest and the Salafi sheikhs. “The atmosphere of the meeting was belligerent,” said attorney Ashraf Edward, “and one of the sheikhs threatened us by saying that should the church be opened without their permission it would end up like the church in Soul which was demolished by Muslims.”

May 20, 2011
Pakistan
Two nurses at the Fatima Memorial Hospital, Lahore, were attacked and abducted for several hours by a fellow Muslim. The man also charged them with theft after stealing their mobile phone and a sum of money. In a second incident, a group of Muslims – at the behest of a former MP of the area – attacked the houses of two Christians, to force the owners to abandon them and transfer the land ownership over to him.

Turkey
Turkey’s Christians are under siege.

May 23, 2011
Germany
A Coptic Christian bishop warns the native Germans about the threat of Islamic dhimmitude and where it leads.

Pakistan (Hat tip to Persecution.org)
Pakistani Christians have expressed concerns about renewed kidnappings and abuse of women and girls by Muslims in a country still reeling from the recent assassination of a Christian government minister.

Among those targeted was Sehar Naz, a 24-year-old employee with Pakistan’s State Life Insurance Corporation in Punjab province, who was recovering of her injuries Monday, May 23, after she was allegedly kidnapped and raped by a Pakistan Army officer.

May 24, 2011
Sudan
Sudanese National Security Intelligence and Security Service agents have arrested a Christian woman in a Darfur camp for displaced people, accusing her of converting Muslims to Christianity, said sources who fear she is being tortured.

At the same time, in Khartoum a Christian mother of a 2-month-old baby is wounded and destitute because she and her husband left Islam for Christianity. More HERE.

Pakistan
Christians in Pakistan remained concerned Monday, May 23, over the situation of Pastor Paul Ashraf and his family after they reportedly narrowly survived a drive by shooting by suspected Islamic militants in Punjab province, seriously injuring their eldest son. “Pastor Ashraf was in a van with his wife, Rubina Ashraf, and eldest son Sarfraz Ashraf, on April 27 when two unidentified men on a motorbike opened fire” on their car, said the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement. . . . Pastor Ashraf and Rubina were unharmed but Sarfraz” who drove the vechicle, “was shot in the side and face. The masked gunmen fled from the scene when they saw that Sarfraz had been seriously injured,” CLAAS explained.

May 25, 2011
Algeria
Algerian authorities have ordered the immediate closure of seven Protestant churches and demanded that the Algerian Protestant Church Association close all churches under their authority.

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May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Is Dead

By LAURA MECKLER and ADAM ENTOUS

WASHINGTON– Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is dead, President Obama said. The U.S. has his body in its possession, U.S. officials said late Sunday.
Mr. bin Laden was killed in a joint raid in Pakistan’s northwestern district of Abbottabad, some 40 miles from Islamabad, in a joint raid overnight Sunday, according to a senior Pakistani official.

The town also is home to a Pakistani military academy. Two American helicopters took part in the operation, the official said. One Pakistani helicopter involved in the raid crashed after it was hit by firing from militants.

President Barack Obama made the announcement late Sunday at the White House.

Timeline: Osama bin Laden

The development capped a manhunt of more than a decade for the architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that left 3,000 people dead and dramatically altered U.S. foreign policy and the nation’s sense of security.

Although Mr. bin Laden was not thought to be a critical operational leader of Al Qaeda, he had been the worldwide symbol of the terrorist network. Because he has been so difficult to find for more than a decade, the killing of Mr. bin Laden is a major victory for Mr. Obama, who demanded an aggressive expansion of Predator drone strikes in Pakistan.

In a recent book on Mr. bin Laden, Michael Scheuer, former chief of the Central Intelligence Agency’s bin Laden unit, wrote that the al Qaeda leader’s goal was to attack the West, and then to move on to Arab states and Israel, but that “he has given no indication that he expects to live long enough to finish the job.”

Instead, Mr. Scheuer wrote, Mr. bin Laden “has anticipated a war of attrition, one that might last decades,” so he began passing the torch to younger al Qaeda activists.

President Barack Obama will make the announcement late Sunday at the White House. The development capped a manhunt of more than a decade for the architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that left 3,000 people dead and dramatically altered U.S. foreign policy and the nation’s sense of security.

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April 28, 2011

Panel Blacklists Egypt for Religious Oppression

The Washington Times reports that a congressional commission on religious freedom placed Egypt on its blacklist for the first time ever Thursday. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom designated Egypt a “country of particular concern” (CPC) for the “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom” against Christians and minority Muslim sects. The panel also noted that President Obama has not heeded any of the panel’s recommendations in adding countries to the State Department’s list. “There is a problem with the failure to cite countries, and then a failure to take action when countries are cited,” commission Chairman Leonard Leo told The Washington Times. The panel reported on 28 countries, but Egypt was the only country moved from the watch list to the CPC designation. Egypt receives about $1.5 billion a year in U.S. aid.

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March 2, 2011

Bulletin of Islamic Attacks: March 2 – March 22, 2011

March 2, 2011
Egypt
Christian Copts staged a massive demonstration on Monday, February 28, against the Governor of Minya Ahmed Dia-el-Din, calling for his resignation. The demonstration was prompted by the governor’s decision to demolish a church community center for the care of the handicapped.

Pakistan
Shahbaz Bhatti, minister for Minorities Affairs and a Christian was gunned down in the back seat of his car while leaving his mother’s home. He was the only Christian in the Pakistani cabinet and was murdered for criticizing the blasphemy law that prescribes the death penalty for those insulting Islam by leaving the religion. More HERE.

March 3, 2011
Pakistan
A Christian community is facing more wrongdoings by local landlords who grabbed Christian-owned fields and shops with the complicity of local police and officials. Also Christian symbols are desecrated but the blasphemy law is not applied in this case. Local authorities say accusations are all made up but fail to provide legal backing for grabbing Christian property. More HERE.

Ethiopia (Hat tip to AtlasShrugs)
Thousands of Muslims shouting “Allah Akbar” razed five churches and the homes of two evangelists. The Muslims started the attacks after falsely accusing the Christians of desecrating the Koran.

March 4, 2011
Pakistan (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
The Islamic terrorists responsible for Christian Minister Bhatti’s murder–Tanseem Al Qaeda and Tehrik-e-Taliban threaten to send all of those like Shabaz Bhatti “one by one to hell.” A translation of the jihadi letter.

March 5, 2011
Turkey
Istanbul police’s anti-terror unit apprehended two suspects accused of plotting to assassinate a Christian priest in the city’s Fatih district.

March 7, 2011
Ethiopia (Hat tip to InfidelsAreCool)
A mob of Muslim extremists overpowered police to get to Christians handing out Bibles.

Egypt
Egyptian Christians protested on Monday after a church was set on fire on the outskirts of Cairo, the first sectarian flare-up since the January 25th revolution.

Egypt (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
Documents seized from State Security offices reveal the government’s involvement in the bombing of a Coptic Church on New Year’s Day in Alexandria that killed 21 people and injured 80.

March 9, 2011
Egypt (Hat tip to InfidelsAreCool)
According to Father Abram Fahmy, pastor of St. Simon the Tanner Monastery in Mokatam Hills, on the outskirts of Cairo, Copts were killed and injured today in an attack by Muslims. It was reported the Egyptian army fired live ammunition on Copts. The attack has claimed until now the lives of 9 Copts and injured 150, 45 seriously. Muslims threw fire balls at the Monastery from the top of the hills. Coptic youth have arrested five of them, who are now being held within the Monastery grounds, waiting to be handed over to the authorities. Eight homes and 20 garbage recycling factories owned by Copts have been torched, as well as 30 garbage collection vehicles.

March 11, 2011
Malaysia

Christian leaders report that the Malaysian government is holding in detension 30,000 imported bibles written in the Malaysian language. Update HERE.

March 12, 2011
USA (Hat tip to GatesofVienna)
With the only Christian in Pakistan’s government murdered outside his mother’s home, Coptic Christian churches being burnt in Egypt, and Iraq’s Christian population reduced by about half of its 1.4 million total of 25 years ago, the future for many Christians in the Muslim world looks at best uncertain.

Dr. Walid Phares wants the Chicago area to be aware of the ongoing persecution and Saturday stressed the unknowns of the political situation in many countries in the region. He is particularly anxious about what type of government might replace any overturned regimes.

March 15, 2011
Pakistan
A Christian convicted for blasphemy was found dead in his jail cell. The official word is he died from a heart attack but many suspect that he might have fallen prey to active hate campaign going on in the country on this issue by extremist groups. More HERE.

Turkey
Discrimination, slander and attacks against churches were among the examples of ongoing harassment that the Turkish Association of Protestant Churches (TEK) recorded in 2010. In an eight-page report published earlier this year, TEK’s Committee for Religious Freedom and Legal Affairs outlined problems Protestants face. Turkish laws and “negative attitudes of civil servants” continue to make it nearly impossible for non-Muslims to establish places of worship, the committee reported.

Iran
Five Iranian house church Christians were behind bars Wednesday, March 15, after being sentenced to one year imprisonment on charges of “crimes against the Islamic order” and there were reports that Iranian authorities have been burning Bibles.

March 16, 2011
Pakistan (Hat tip to Persecution.org)
Pakisti Christians are converting to Islam due to threats and intimidation at the rate of 60 per month. In one madrassa in Lahore alone, 678 Christians embraced Islam in 2009. Last year they were almost 700. These are “dangerous days” minorities, activists say as the blasphemy law is used to force them to change religion.

March 17, 2011
Malaysia
A Christian lawyer in Malaysia has failed in her attempt to be allowed to practice in the Muslim Shariah courts.

March 18, 2011
Malaysia
The Christian community said today that it is appalled by what it says is the government’s desecration of 5,100 holy books shipped in from Indonesia that were detained and has flat out refused to collect the Port Klang shipment.

March 19, 2011
Iraq
Archbishop Bashar Warda made his alarming prediction at a press conference for the launch of the Aid to the Church in Need report on oppressed Christians abroad, Persecuted and Forgotten? Speaking alongside Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop Warda said that there were fewer than 200,000 Christians left in Iraq and “the time for waiting” was running out. He cited Mosul, one of the most dangerous cities in the world to be a Christian, where hundreds were driven out in October 2009, saying: “In 2003 there were 4,000 Chaldean families, 1,000 Christians from other churches, and 11 active Chaldean churches. Now six churches have been closed, and if it goes this way, it won’t be this long before certain areas of Iraq are evacuated.

Libya
Libya’s minority Christians were among those facing danger Saturday, March 19, as the international community began enforcing a no fly zone over the predominantly Sunni Muslim nation to halt attacks by forces loyal to embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Heavily Islamic Libya currently ranks number 25 on the annual Open Doors’ World Watch List of 50 nations known for their reported persecution of Christians. North Korea tops the list at number 1. While there are no laws that explicitly provide for religious freedom, the country adheres to Islamic law and all citizens are Sunni Muslims ‘by definition’, according to rights activists. It is prohibited to evangelize to Muslims or distribute Arabic scriptures, according to Open Doors investigators.

March 20, 2011
Egypt
Many Egyptian Christians say they voted to reject proposed constitutional amendments because they fear hasty elections to follow may pave the way for Islamist groups to rise to power and further religious persecution. More HERE.

Ethopia (Hat tip to InfidelsAreCool)
Evangelical churches and homes have been burnt down by mobs of Muslims in the southwestern Jimma region of Ethiopia. The attacks have left at least one person dead and 7,000 displaced. “This is a strategically planned attack by an extremist Islamic group.

Nigeria (Hat tip to InfidelsAreCool)
Two men were killed in the Nigerian city of Jos when explosives they were carrying on a motorbike went off, preventing what local residents said was an attempted attack on a Christian community. More than 200 people have been killed since late last year in and around Jos, which lies in Nigeria’s “Middle Belt” between the mostly-Muslim north and predominantly Christian south. More HERE.

March 21, 2011
Indonesia
Some 100 members of a Christian congregation conducted services on the sidewalk in Bogor Sunday after police prevented them from using a contested church site that has been sealed off by city officials in defiance of a Supreme Court order.

Turkey
A Turkish court ordered five military officers and two civilians jailed Monday in a probe into the 2007 killing of three Christians, including a German national, over allegations that the attack was part of an alleged plot to topple the government. The Christians — a German and two Turks — were tied up and had their throats slit at a Bible-publishing house in the southern city of Malatya. More HERE.

March 22, 2011
Saudi Arabia
Two Indian Christians working in Saudi Arabia have been arrested in Riyadh, and sentenced to 45 days in prison. On March 11, 2011, Vasantha Sekhar and Nese Yohan were arrested and beaten. They were accused of proselytizing. ICC contacts in Saudi Arabia believe they were arrested to keep them from practicing Christianity privately in their home.
SPECIAL REPORT:
The World
Seventy five percent of religious persecution in the world is against Christians, claims a new report by a U.K. Catholic organization. Examining 33 countries, the British branch of Aid to the Church in Need reported that most of the persecution was occurring in the Middle East, Africa and Asia in its 2011 “Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their faith.”

Produced by Political Islam.com
Publisher: Bill Warner; Edited by Asma Marwan
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March 2, 2011

The religion of peace in action

February 11, 2011
Indonesia
Christian leaders faulted Indonesian authorities for security breaches that allowed Islamic extremist mobs this week to attack a defendant convicted of defaming Islam, the judge that sentenced him, two churches and a Christian school.
February 16, 2011
Indonesia (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
In a fiery speech in court, a suspended Islamic Defenders Front leader on trial for inciting attacks against a Christian group in Bekasi continued to issue threats against church leaders on Monday. A former chapter leader of the hard-line group, FPI, warned the Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) against holding prayers in Bekasi, a predominantly Muslim district in West Java.
Nigeria
Police blame Muslim radical sect for attempted church attack in troubled northern Nigeria.
Pakistan

A Pakistani Christian was killed by his employer says his parents.

February 18, 2011
Tunisia

A Polish priest was found dead with his throat cut at the School of Our Lady in Manouba where he worked.
Takjikistan

Authorities ban sales of a Jesus cartoon, claiming that the cartoon advocated a foreign religion.
Under a new version of the Law on Religion and Religious Associations adopted in Tajikistan in 2009, sharia is the law of the land and proselytising is against the law.
Turkey (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
The Syro-Orthodox monastery, Mor Gabriel, which dates from 397 A.D., has lost its land to the Turkish government. The upkeep of the monks and the monastery is dependent on the income from this land.


February 19, 2011

Egypt (Hat tip to Mary Abdelmassih)
Muslims broke into the home of a Coptic family and abducted their 18-year-old daughter Nesma Sarwat. The home belongs to the building contractor who built the controversial St. Mary and St. Michael church in Talbiya, within the Omraniya neighborhood of Giza. The abductors wrote messages on the home’s wall, the messages said “Islam is the solution” and “The Church has to be demolished.”

February 22, 2011
Sudan
A Christian widow in north Sudan is agonizing over the kidnapping of her daughter eight months ago by suspected Islamic extremists in Khartoum.

February 23, 2011
Egypt (Hat tip to Mary Abdelmassih)
Egyptian armed forces demolished fences surrounding ancient Coptic monasteries, leaving them vulnerable to attacks by armed Arabs, robbers and escaped prisoners, who have seized the opportunity of the state of diminished protection by the authorities in Egypt to carry out assaults and thefts. See update for February 24, 2011

Egypt

Thousands of Coptic Christians demonstrated in the city of Assiut in Upper Egypt for the second day after a priest was found stabbed to death inside his home. Protesters demanded the arrest of the murderers chanting, ‘With our souls and blood we sacrifice our lives to the cross.” More HERE.


February 24, 2011

Indonesia (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
The head of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) was convicted in an attack on a priest and a Christian elder last September. The cleric was sentenced to five-and-a-half months in prison for urging protesters to disrupt the church’s worship activities. Two hundred radical Muslims shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greater) and “Free Murhali” outside the court as 350 police officers guarded the trial.

India
Suspected Islamic militants set fire on Feb. 19 to the School of the Convent of St. Luke, a Protestant educational institution that began its activities about 17 years ago in Srinagar, Kashmir.

Somalia
A Christian convert from Islam was killed by members of the terrorist group Al-Shabbab. They accused Roble of spying and ‘fitna,’ or causing religious discord among Muslims.

Afghanistan
Two Afghan Christians who were arrested for their conversion to Christianity remain behind bars despite diplomatic efforts by the United States to secure their release. In a letter smuggled out of their prison in Mazar-e-Sharif, one Christian wrote that he may receive the death penalty for apostasy.

Egypt
For the second time in as many days, Egyptian armed force stormed the 5th century old St. Bishoy monastery in Wadi el-Natroun. Live ammunition was fired, wounding two monks and six Coptic monastery workers. Several sources confirmed the army’s use of RPG ammunition. Four people have been arrested including three monks and a Coptic lawyer who was at the monastery investigating yesterday’s army attack. Video HERE.


February 25, 2011

Egypt (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
The deputy to Osama bin Laden issued al-Qaida’s second message since the Egyptian uprising, accusing the nation’s Christian leadership of inciting interfaith tensions and denying that the terror network was behind last month’s bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria that killed 21 and sparked protests.

February 27, 2011
Gaza
A prominent Christian surgeon in the Gaza Strip said assailants threw a bomb at his vehicle and sent him threatening messages. He said Sunday that after the blast that he received text messages to halt evangelical work or face harsh punishment. Ayyad says he does not preach his faith.

February 28, 2011
Nigeria (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
A Christian mother and her four children were killed in a jihad attack by Muslims.

Special Report from Iraq
Iraq (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
The secular western world is incapable of fully understanding the threat of a “reawakening of Islam” in the Middle East, according to an Iraqi bishop beset by radical movements in his own archdiocese.
Produced by Political Islam.com
Publisher: Bill Warner; Edited by Asma Marwan

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January 18, 2011

Christian ‘Genocide’ In The Mideast

January 18, 2011 – 10:08 AM | by: Greg Burke

 

http://liveshots.blogs.foxnews.com/2011/01/18/christian-genocide-in-the-mideast/?test=latestnews

Dec. 31, 2010: Coffins of slain Christians killed in the attack at St. George Chaldean Church in Baghdad, Iraq. (AP)

Christians have been getting pushed out of the Middle East for some time now, but the attacks on them have recently become particularly ferocious.
It’s enough to look at the bombing at a Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt, on New Year’s Day that left 23 dead, or the brutal siege on St. George Chaldean Church, a Catholic church in Baghdad that killed more than 50.
“If you look at the technical definition of what genocide is, it is the attempt to annihilate a particular group because of their ethnicity or their religion,” says David Alton a Catholic member of Britain’s House of Lords. “And certainly that is what is happening to many of the ancient churches of the Middle East.”
Lord Alton, a prominent campaigner for religious freedom, told Fox News in an interview that radical Muslims target Christians as a way of hitting the West.
“They use Iraq as a staging post for that, and as a pretext for attacking groups they say are U.S. allies, and so Christians are in the firing line for that reason,” Alton notes. “It is absurd in many respects, but it is a very convenient piece of shorthand for those who carry out the attacks.”
John Pontifex of Aid to the Chuch in Need points out that the rise of radical Islam is putting extreme pressure on other religious groups, but especially Christians.
As the number of Christians falls drastically in the Middle East, Pontifex says, the radicals rejoice.
“Extremist groups have made it clear that because of this change in numbers, they are getting close to achieving their objective, which is the wipeout of Christianity in some of its oldest heartlands.”
While Christians are hardest hit in the Mideast, that’s not the only region they’re feeling pressure, whether it be slighter forms of discrimination, or outright violence.
Pontifex estimates that there are 30 or more countries where Christians suffer “very severely,” and that “in certain of those countries, that persecution is very endemic and very persistent and has as its objective an end to the Christian presence.”
Pope Benedict’s annual speech to diplomats last week focused on religious freedom as a fundamental human right, and mentioned the attacks in Iraq and Egypt.
Benedict also called for Pakistan to overturn its blasphemy law, saying it serves as a “pretext for acts of injustice and violence against religious minorities.”
Egypt responded by recalling Aly Mekhemar Hamada, its ambassador to the Holy See to Cairo for consultations. Before leaving, Hamada gave an interview in which she said her government did not agree that Christians suffered discrimination in Egypt.
And in Pakistan, the response on the street was a not a friendly one, as protesters burned the Pope in effigy.

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January 14, 2011

“Shoe Bomber” Sentence

Remember the guy who got on a plane with a bomb built into his shoe and tried to light it?

Everyone should hear what the judge had to say.

Ruling by Judge William Young , US District Court.

Prior to sentencing, the Judge asked the defendant if he had anything to say. His response: After admitting his guilt to the court for the record, Reid also admitted his ‘allegiance to Osama bin Laden, to Islam, and to the religion of Al lah,’ defiantly stating, ‘I think I will not apologize for my actions,’ and told the court ‘I am at war with your country.’

Judge Young then delivered the statement quoted below:

January 30, 2009, United States vs. Reid .

Judge Young : ‘ Mr. Richard C. Reid , hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes upon you.

On counts 1, 5 and 6 the Court sentences you to life in prison in the custody of the United States Attorney General. On counts 2, 3, 4and 7, the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count, the sentence on each count to run consecutively. (That’s 80 years.)

On count 8 the Court sentences you to the mandatory 30 years again, to be served consecutively to the 80 years just imposed.. The Court imposes upon you for each of the eight counts a fine of $250,000 that’s an aggregate fine of $2 million.. The Court accepts the government’s recommendation with respect to restitution and orders restitution in the amount of $298.17 to Andre Bousquet and $5,784 to American Airlines.

The Court imposes upon you an $800 special assessment. The Court imposes upon you five years supervised release simply because the law requires it. But the life sentences are real life sentences so I need go no further.

This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence..

Now, let me explain this to you. We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid . We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is too much war talk here and I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court, we deal with individuals as individuals and care for individuals as individuals. As human beings, we reach out for justice.

You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist.. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature.. Whether the officers of government do it or your attorney does it, or if you think you are a soldier, you are not—– you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not meet with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You’re no warrior. I’ve known warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal that is guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and the TV crews were, and he said: ‘You’re no big deal.’

You are no big deal.

What your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today?

I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing? And, I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you, but as I search this entire record, it comes as close to understanding as I know.

It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose. Here, in this society, the very wind carries freedom. It carries it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom, so that everyone can see, truly see, that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely. It is for freedom’s sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf, have filed appeals, will go on in their representation of you before other judges.

We Americans are all about freedom. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid , is the measure of our own liberties. Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms. Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. The day after tomorrow, it will be forgotten, but this, however, will long endure.

Here in this courtroom and courtrooms all across America , the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done. The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice..

See that flag, Mr. Reid ? That’s the flag of the United States of America . That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. And it always will.

Mr. Custody Officer. Stand him down.

So, how much of this Judge’s comments did we hear on our TV sets? We need more judges like Judge Young. Pass this around. Everyone should and needs to hear what this fine judge had to say. Powerful words that strike home.

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January 5, 2011

Pakistani men grooming British girls for sex

50 out of 53 pimps convicted in last 10 years in UK are Muslims (95%)

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Pakistani-men-grooming-British-girls-for-sex/articleshow/7223824.cms

IANS, Jan 5, 2011, 07.45pm IST

LONDON: Pakistani-origin men in Britain are grooming white girls aged between 11 and 16 for sex with Asian men, a media report said Wednesday.

Police and social services were silent on the exploitation because of fear that it would be termed a racial issue, The Daily Mail reported.

Researchers from University College London’s Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science said the victims were “typically white girls” while “most central offenders are Pakistani”.

The offenders were not viewed as paedophiles but had picked the girls because of their “malleability”.

The report, however, concluded that “race is a delicate issue” that should be handled sensitively “but not brushed under the carpet”.

It said the grooming usually began with older groups of men befriending girls aged 11 to 16 they meet on the street.

The victim was initially treated as a girlfriend and showered with gifts and attention.

But the relationship quickly becomes more “sinister” as the abuser plies the child with drinks and drugs before effectively pimping her out to friends and associates.

The worst cases involve girls being moved around the country to be repeatedly abused.

However, charities working with police to help victims of sexual abuse have publicly denied there was a link between ethnicity and the grooming.

A police officer at West Mercia called for an end to the “damaging taboo” connecting grooming with race.

“These girls are being passed around and used as meat. To stop this type of crime, you need to start everyone talking about it but everyone’s been too scared to address the ethnicity factor,” Chief Inspector Alan Edwards said.

“No one wants to stand up and say that Pakistani guys in some parts of the country are recruiting young white girls and passing them around their relatives for sex, but we need to stop being worried about the racial complication,” he said.

In 17 court cases since 1997 where men were prosecuted, 53 of the 56 people found guilty were Asian, 50 of them Muslim, while just three were white, according to The Times.

Five Asian men were jailed in November 2010 for 32 years for sexual offences against girls aged between 12 and 16 in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

Judge Peter Kelson said the men were “sexual predators”.

Mohammed Shafiq, director of Lancashire-based Ramadhan Foundation, a charity working for harmony, said: “I think the police are overcautious because they are afraid of being branded racist.

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January 1, 2011

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

_________________________________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                        January 1, 2011

Statement by the President on the terrorist attacks in Egypt and Nigeria
I strongly condemn the separate and outrageous terrorist bombing attacks in Egypt and Nigeria. The attack on a church in Alexandria, Egypt caused 21 reported deaths and dozens of injured from both the Christian and Muslim communities.  The perpetrators of this attack were clearly targeting Christian worshipers, and have no respect for human life and dignity. They must be brought to justice for this barbaric and heinous act.  We are continuing to gather information regarding this terrible event, and are prepared to offer any necessary assistance to the Government of Egypt in responding to it.

The attack near an army barracks in Abuja also reportedly killed more than 20 people and wounded many more. Killing innocent civilians who were simply gathering like so many people around the world to celebrate the beginning of a New Year further demonstrates the bankrupt vision of those who carry out these attacks, and we are similarly prepared to offer assistance to the Government of Nigeria as it works to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The United States extends its deepest condolences to the families of those killed and to the wounded in both of these attacks, and we stand with the Nigerian and Egyptian people at this difficult time.




2010 News

December 31, 2010

Muslims Celebrate New Year with Car Bomb at Church in Alexandria, Egypt

An explosion went off in front of the Coptic Christian church of Saints in Sedi Besher in Alexandria, Egypt. The explosion occurred sometime after the beginning of the New Year.

The explosion hit the Coptic church during their traditional prayer meeting in celebration of the New Year.

Information indicates that at least forty-five congregants are dead. There are several more injured along with others trapped inside the church.

Conflicted information is reaching our office which indicates that several dead bodies are on the sidewalk as well as inside the church.

The blast went off about thirty minutes after midnight. An eyewitness indicated that an explosion went off from a parked car outside the church.

It has been reported that at least forty-five persons are dead from an explosion taking place two minutes after drivers of a car fled after parking their car between two other cars in front of the church. The explosion took place causing the cars on either side of it to explode at the same time.

The Islamic effort to cleanse the Middle East from Christians has increased.

Four years ago in April, a Coptic man was killed next to the main entrance when an Arab Muslim stabbed him with a knife. The attack occurred on the last Friday of fasting before Easter. At that time and prior to any investigation the governor of Alexandria indicated that the attacker was mentally ill.

As of right now, the Egyptian regime and its Islamic court have not issued any verdict in this matter.

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December 28, 2010

Bulletin of Islamic Attacks: Nov. 29 – Dec. 27, 2010

November 29, 2010
Afghanistan
Two Afghans accused of converting to Christianity could face the death penalty, a prosecuting lawyer said on Sunday.

December 1, 2010
Pakistan (Hat tip to Atlas Shrugs)
Muslim extremists are blamed for the murders of five Christians in Pakistan in less than a week.

December 2, 2010
Indonesia
After closing churches in West Java, South Sulawesi, Sumatra, and other provinces, hard-line Islamic organizations are now attempting to stop Christian worship in or near shopping malls.

December 3, 2010
Egypt
Coptic teenagers were arrested by security authorities because they were working on building a new church which is in violation of Sharia law.

Pakistan (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
A pro-Taliban Pakistani Muslim cleric Friday offered a reward for anyone who kills a Christian woman who was sentenced to death on charges of insulting Islam, in violation of Sharia law.

Somalia

A Somali teenage girl was shot to death for becoming a Christian.

December 4, 2010
Pakistan
The Islamic terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Toiba and other Taliban groups have launched a fatwa (an official proclamation) against the Pakistani Minister for Religious Minorities, Shabhaz Bhatti, who happens to be a Catholic. Reliable sources in Pakistan confirmed that the minister is now being targeted by militants and has become a “legitimate objective” and “may be killed for being an accomplice to the blasphemy.”

December 6, 2010
Iraq (Hat tip to AtlasShrugs)
Iraq’s Christian minority took another hit Sunday evening when gunmen shot and killed an elderly Christian couple in their home.

Indonesia (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
US-backed elite Indonesian forces target church members and civilians.

December 7, 2010
NYC – USA (Hat tip to AtlasShrugs)
Historic St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, destroyed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, plans a multimillion-dollar suit against the Port Authority and other agencies for blocking its reconstruction.

December 8, 2010
Palestine (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
A video on official Hamas TV calls for Allah to kill Jews, Christians, Communists and their supporters. The video asks Allah to “count them and kill them to the last one, and don’t leave even one.”

December 9, 2010
Java (Hat tip to Jihadwatch)
The Archbishop of Semarang, has called the Catholic community “to remain calm” after the explosion of two bombs in the church of Christ the King in Central Java on 7 December. The attack is the latest in a series of attacks on Christian places of worship.

Australia
The leader of the Australian Anglican Communion, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall condemned attacks on Christians and Muslims in Pakistan in the December issue of FOCUS, the newspaper of the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane.

December 11, 2010
Bangladesh (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
Police in Bangladesh said they believe at least two Islamic extremists are responsible for a bomb blast in a Catholic church building that killed 10 young Christians and maimed dozens of others in 2001.

Palestine (Hat tip to AtlasShrugs)
Music video from Hamas: “Kill the Christians and Jews to the last one.”

December 13, 2010
Algeria
A Protestant clergyman and three of his parishioners were convicted on the basis of a controversial 2006 law that requires a permit to set up a place of worship. . . According to some observers, this trial against Algeria’s Christian minority reflects a crackdown undertaken by Algerian government since February 2006 against non-Muslim religions. Since the 1990s, the country has been targeted by Islamic extremists.

Pakistan
An evangelist is still recovering from burns after six young Muslim men beat him with clubs and belts and set him on fire.

December 14, 2010
Afghanistan (Hat tip to Atlas Shrugs)
The International Red Cross neglects an Afghani man who converted to Christianity.

December 15, 2010
Iraq
One month ago, Muslim terrorists in Iraq massacred Christians at a church in Bagdad. A three year old boy who witnessed this horror, including the death of his parents, followed the terrorists, saying “Enough, enough,” until he himself was murdered.

Kosovo (Hat tip to IslamInEurope)
Christian civilians detained by the Kosovo Liberation Army were allegedly shot to death in northern Albania so their kidneys could be extracted and sold on the black market after the war in Kosovo ended in 1999, according to a report prepared for Europe’s premier human rights watchdog.
Background info: HERE and from James Jatras HERE (Hat tip to GatesofVienna) and from a documentary on a jihadi martyr in Bosnia HERE.

December 16, 2010
Pakistan
(Hat tip to JihadWatch)
It promises to be a difficult Christmas for the Christian community in Pakistan. An alliance of radical Islamic groups has called for a large mass national demonstration on 24 December, after Friday prayers, to say “no” to the release of Asia Bibi and any changes to the blasphemy law.

December 17, 2010
Egypt (Hat tip to InfidelsAreCool)
A Muslim convert to Christianity has lost his family and job and has now been arrested and charged with ‘defamation of religion.’

December 18, 2010
Iran
A group of nine Christians arrested in Hamadan are in prison, after being held in isolation without specific charges.

Indonesia
About 200 demonstrators from hard-line Islamic organizations in West Java on Sunday (Dec. 12) disrupted the worship of a church in Bandung, driving more than 100 worshippers from the building.

December 20, 2010
Egypt
An Egyptian priest has explained that radical Muslims are trying to rid the Middle East entirely of Christians, who once comprised the largest religious group in the region.

Somalia (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
The jihadi group Al Shabab destroyed a Christian library. They brought Bibles, books, and a/v material to the city center and burned them after Islamic noon prayers.

Middle East
(Hat tip to Investigative Project on Terrorism)
Threats and attacks against Christians in the Holiday Season.

Indonesia
Authorities have banned all public activities or celebrations associated with Christmas, including Christmas Mass, at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church. More HERE.

Turkey
Attorneys prosecuting the murder of three Christians in southeastern Turkey are making progress linking the knifemen who slayed them to the masterminds who put them up to it.

December 21, 2010
Canada (Hat tip to JihadWatch)
More than 100 Canadian-Arab Christians are listed on an al-Qaeda affiliated website, apparently targeted because of their alleged role in attempting to convert Muslims.

December 22, 2010
England
Muslims from a banned Islamic hate group have launched a nationwide poster campaign denouncing Christmas as evil.

Iraq
Iraq’s Christian leaders called off Christmas celebrations amid new al-Qaida threats on the tiny community still terrified from a bloody siege on a Baghdad church. Update, December 24th HERE.

Bethlehem

This Christmas in Bethlehem, the cross has been banned from souvenirs for tourists and pilgrims in the Holy Land due to fear of retaliation from Islamic militants.
December 23, 2010
Pakistan
Update on the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced for death for blasphemy who is requesting a pardon. December 25, 2010
Philippines/Nigeria
(Hat tip to JihadWatch and Atlas Shrugs)
A bomb in a church during Christmas mass in the southern Philippines wounded six people, including the priest, even as Christian leaders highlighted the plight of believers facing the threat of attacks around the world. Update HERE.

In the northern Nigerian city of Kano on Friday, there were bombings during various Christmas Eve services. More on the Nigerian attack that killed thirty one people HERE.
December 26, 2010
Sweden (Hat tip to and translated by IslamInEurope from GP)
The Coptic Christian church in Gothenburg was closed down after receiving an internet threat.
December 27, 2010
Cyprus (Hat tip to AtlasShrugs)
The Cyprus government has protested to the United Nations and the European Union over an illegal act by the breakaway regime in the areas of the Republic occupied by Turkish troops to stop a religious service on Christmas day at a Turkish-occupied village, where Christian Orthodox Cypriot live as enclaved.

West Java
Hundreds of members of Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church celebrated Mass under the sun and in a tent set up in the parking lot of an elementary school due to the hostilities of local Muslims.

Produced by Political Islam.com
Publisher: Bill Warner; Edited by Asma Marwan

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October 17, 2010

Merkel says German multi-cultural society has failed

BERLIN (AFP) – Germany’s attempt to create a multi-cultural society has failed completely, Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the weekend, calling on the country’s immigrants to learn German and adopt Christian values.

Merkel weighed in for the first time in a blistering debate sparked by a central bank board member saying the country was being made “more stupid” by poorly educated and unproductive Muslim migrants.

“Multikulti”, the concept that “we are now living side by side and are happy about it,” does not work, Merkel told a meeting of younger members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party at Potsdam near Berlin.

“This approach has failed, totally,” she said, adding that immigrants should integrate and adopt Germany’s culture and values.

“We feel tied to Christian values. Those who don’t accept them don’t have a place here,” said the chancellor.

“Subsidising immigrants” isn’t sufficient, Germany has the right to “make demands” on them, she added, such as mastering the language of Goethe and abandoning practices such as forced marriages.

Merkel spoke a week after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which they pledged to do more to improve the often poor integration record of Germany’s 2.5-million-strong Turkish community.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul, in a weekend interview, also urged the Turkish community living in Germany to master the language of their adopted country.

“When one doesn’t speak the language of the country in which one lives that doesn’t serve anyone, neither the person concerned, the country, nor the society,” the Turkish president told the Suedeutsche Zeitung.

“That is why I tell them at every opportunity that they should learn German, and speak it fluently and without an accent. That should start at nurseries.”

German President Christian Wulff was due for a five-day visit to Turkey and talks with the country’s leaders on Monday.

The immigration debate has at times threatened to split Merkel’s conservative party, and she made noises to both wings of the debate.

While saying that the government needed to encourage the training of Muslim clerics in Germany, Merkel said “Islam is part of Germany”, echoeing the recent comments of Wulff, a liberal voice in the party.

Horst Seehofer, the leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, CSU, who represents the right-wing, recently said Germany did not “need more immigrants from different cultures like the Turks and Arabs” who are “more difficult” to integrate.

While warning against “immigration that weighs down on our social system”, Merkel said Germany needed specialists from overseas to keep the pace of its economic development.

According to the head of the German chamber of commerce and industry, Hans Heinrich Driftmann, Germany is in urgent need of about 400,000 engineers and qualified workers, whose lack is knocking about one percent off the country’s growth rate.

The integration of Muslims has been a hot button issue since August when a member of Germany’s central bank sparked outrage by saying the country was being made “more stupid” by poorly educated and unproductive Muslim migrants with headscarves.

The banker, Thilo Sarrazin, has since resigned but his book on the subject — “Germany Does Itself In” — has flown off the shelves, and polls showed considerable sympathy for some of his views.

A recent study by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation think tank showed around one-third of Germans feel the country is being “over-run by foreigners” and the same percentage feel foreigners should be sent home when jobs are scarce.

Nearly 60 percent of the 2,411 people polled thought the around four million Muslims in Germany should have their religious practices “significantly curbed.”

Far-right attitudes are found not only at the extremes of German society, but “to a worrying degree at the centre of society,” the think tank said in its report.

“Hardly eight weeks have passed since publication of Sarrazin’s theory of decline, and the longer the debate continues to a lower level it falls,” the weekly Der Spiegel commented Sunday.

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October 8, 2010

A woman in Tours wears a niqab during protests over efforts to ban Islamic face coverings.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Court rules the law does not violate the French Constitution
  • It bars Islamic face coverings in public places
  • The ban is due to come into effect in the spring
  • It would fine women for wearing a veil or forcing a woman to do so

(CNN) — France’s law banning the burqa and other Islamic face coverings in public places is legal, top constitutional authorities in France ruled Thursday, clearing the final hurdle before the ban goes into effect.

The ban passed both houses of the French legislature by overwhelming margins earlier this year, and is scheduled to come into effect in the spring.

The law imposes a fine of 150 euros ($190) and/or a citizenship course as punishment for wearing a face-covering veil. Forcing a woman to wear a niqab or a burqa will be punishable by a year in prison or a 15,000-euro ($19,000) fine, the government said, calling it “a new form of enslavement that the republic cannot accept on its soil.”
Lawmakers also cited security reasons for forbidding people from covering their faces in public.

The French Constitutional Council said the law did not impose disproportionate punishments or prevent the free exercise of religion in a place of worship, finding therefore that “the law conforms to the Constitution.”

A panel of French lawmakers recommended a ban last year, and lawmakers unanimously passed a non-binding resolution in May calling the full-face veil contrary to the laws of the nation.

“Given the damage it produces on those rules which allow the life in community, ensure the dignity of the person and equality between sexes, this practice, even if it is voluntary, cannot be tolerated in any public place,” the French government said when it sent the measure to parliament in May.

French people back the ban by a margin of more than four to one, the Pew Global Attitudes Project found in a survey earlier this year.

Some 82 percent of people polled approved of a ban, while 17 percent disapproved. That was the widest support the Washington-based think tank found in any of the five countries it surveyed.

Clear majorities also backed burqa bans in Germany, Britain and Spain, while two out of three Americans opposed it, the survey found.
Amnesty International has repeatedly urged France not to impose the ban, saying it violates European human rights law.

The ban pertains to the burqa, a full-body covering that includes a mesh over the face, and the niqab, a full-face veil that leaves an opening only for the eyes.

The hijab, which covers the hair and neck but not the face, and the chador, which covers the body but not the face, apparently are not banned by the law.

Video: French Senate passes burqa ban

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However, a 2004 law in France bans the wearing or displaying of overt religious symbols in schools — including the wearing of headscarves by schoolgirls.
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life estimates that France has about 3.5 million Muslims, or about 6 percent of the population.

France does not keep its own statistics on religious affiliation of the population, in keeping with its laws requiring the state to be strictly secular.

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October 6, 2010

The grandson of the billionaire king of Saudi Arabia ‘sexually abused his man¬servant lover and battered him to death’

Tom Kelly
Daily Mail, London
6 October 2010
Trial: Al Saud, left, on his way to City of Westminster magistrates court in a
prison van for his original hearing following the death of Bandar Abdulaziz, right

A Saudi prince beat his man­servant lover to death in a ‘ferocious’ sexually motivated attack at an exclusive London hotel, the Old ­Bailey heard yesterday.

Saud Abdulaziz Bin Nasir Al Saud, the grandson of the billionaire king of Saudi Arabia, murdered Bandar Abdulaziz after subjecting him to weeks of physical and sexual abuse, the jury was told.

The royal allegedly downed champagne and six Sex on the Beach cocktails before repeatedly punching his 32-year-old aide in the head, knocking out teeth and leaving him with severe brain injuries in the suite they shared at the five-star Landmark Hotel in Marylebone.

He also strangled Mr Abdulaziz with such force that he fractured bones in the ­servant’s neck and bit him on both cheeks in way that clearly had a ‘sexual connotation’, the court heard.

Al Saud, 34, allegedly tried to ‘cover his tracks’ by cleaning up blood from the attack before raising the alarm. He was said to have at first told police Mr Abdulaziz had suffered the injuries in a robbery.

The prince later changed his story and admitted killing his servant, but he denies murder and one count of grievous bodily harm with intent.

The pair arrived in London in December last year for the final leg of an extended world holiday. They had visited Prague, Milan, Marrakesh and the Maldives, apparently using the Spartacus International Gay Guide as a travel planner.

Al Saud enjoyed a party lifestyle in the capital, rising late and spending the afternoons shopping before eating out and going to nightclubs until the early hours.

He was spotted flirting with barmen and used male prostitutes at least twice during his stay, the jury was told.

The prince told police he was a ‘friend and equal’ of Mr Abdulaziz, the adopted son of middle-class Saudi parents, and that his aide travelled with him everywhere.

But the court heard how Mr Abdulaziz flew in economy while Al Saud went first class. It was also said the servant walked two steps behind his master and slept most nights on the floor of the hotel room they shared.

Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting, said: ‘Theirs was a far more complicated relationship than the defendant was prepared to admit and there was an abusive undertone to it.
‘Bandar was treated as an aide or servant and there was a far more sinister aspect to the defendant’s treatment of the victim.

‘He would beat Bandar up and the abuse was not confined to physical violence – there was a ­sexual element to it as well.’

The jury saw CCTV footage of an earlier attack in which Al Saud bared his teeth as he subjected Mr Abdulaziz to blows with his fists and elbows in the hotel lift on January 22.
Family: Al Saud’s father Prince Abdulaziz, left, and brother Prince
Faisal arriving at the Old Bailey yesterday

Mr Laidlaw said: ‘What is also ­evident from the victim’s behaviour is that he had become by this point almost entirely submissive.

‘He could not or did not at any stage offer any sort of resistance, attempt to fight back or even to raise his hand to the defendant.’

The attack left Mr Abdulaziz’s ear three times its normal size and requiring reconstructive surgery.

On February 14, the night of the alleged murder, the pair went for a Valentine’s meal before returning to their hotel just before midnight.

A guest in the room below recalled hearing raised voices and what sounded like furniture being knocked over.

The following afternoon Al Saud called a contact at the Saudi Embassy, who arrived at the room to find him ‘very upset and crying’ beside his lifeless servant.

Hotel staff recalled Mr Abdulaziz lying dead in the bed as Al Saud sobbed and told an unknown caller on the phone: ‘I don’t believe it.’

Police experts found forensic evidence from Al Saud on Mr Abdulaziz’s underwear. Despite this, the prince continued to deny he was gay.

But Mr Laidlaw said: ‘The evidence establishes quite conclusively that he is either gay or that he has homosexual tendencies.

‘There is clear evidence, over and above the bite marks, that there was also a sexual element to his mistreatment of the victim.’

A search of the prince’s laptop revealed he looked at gay massage and escort agency websites, jurors were told.

Al Saud’s mother is the daughter of King Abdullah. His father, Prince Abdulaziz, who is the nephew of the king, watched from the public gallery as his shaven-headed son sat in the dock following proceedings through an Arabic interpreter.

The trial continues.

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August 30, 2010

Libyan Leader Urges People to Convert to Islam During Trip to Rome

Aug. 29: Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi gestures as he arrives at Ciampino airport, near Rome.

ROME — Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi gave a lesson on Islam and copies of the Koran to a few hundred young Italian women as he arrived in Rome for his fourth visit in a year.

Some participants identifying themselves as Roman Catholics in this overwhelmingly Catholic country, said Qaddafi had urged others to convert to Islam and had dismissed Christianity as unimportant.

Michela, who asked that her last name not be used, told Associated Press Television News that three of the participants converted to Islam on the spot Sunday.

“It was a really beautiful meeting and went very well,” she said. “He is very easygoing and he gave us a copy of the Quran. Three girls converted themselves to Islam during the ceremony. It was a beautiful event.”

It was the second time the Libyan leader — who travels with female bodyguards and fancies himself a self-styled feminist — had staged such an event for Italian women, who were recruited by a modeling agency and paid an undisclosed sum to attend.

Between 200 and 500 young women attended, arriving 10 buses at the Libyan ambassador’s residence just as Gadhafi’s plane was landing at Rome’s Ciampino airport at the start of a two-day visit.

The visit, amid steadily improving business ties between Libya and its former colonial ruler, also marks the second anniversary of a friendship treaty in which Italy agreed to pay Libya $5 billion as compensation for its 30-year occupation, which ended in 1943.

When Qaddafi was in Italy in November for a U.N. food summit, he hosted 200 young Italian women who had been recruited and paid about $75 by the same modeling agency to attend. Then, too, he gave a lecture on Islam and handed out copies of the Koran.

This time around, the women wouldn’t say how much they had been paid, only that they had received a small “reimbursement.”

During his first visit to Italy in June, 2009, Gadhafi invited 700 prominent Italian businesswomen and female politicians to listen to a lecture in which he criticized Islam’s treatment of women but also suggested male relatives should decide if a woman can drive.

As part of the friendship treaty anniversary celebrations, some 30 Libyan horses were arriving in Rome to take part in a joint demonstration with Italy’s carabinieri equestrian forces on Monday, news reports said.

Qaddafi made his first visit to Italy in June, proclaiming a new era in relations following the friendship treaty. But that first visit also was marked by a symbolic demonstration that the wounds of colonialism still ran deep: He arrived wearing a black-and-white photo pinned to his military uniform of a Libyan national hero killed by Italian colonial authorities.

Qaddafi sported no such photo upon arrival Sunday at Ciampino, where he was greeted by Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.

Despite the colonial past, Italy and Libya have long had good ties, and major Italian corporations such as oil giant Eni have invested heavily in the oil-and-gas rich country.

Libya’s central bank, meanwhile, has a 4 percent share in Italy’s largest bank UniCredit, which earlier this month won the first international license to operate in the North African country.

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July 16, 2010

Pastor killed by gunman

A dynamic Christian pastor has died after being shot in the head as he was leaving church, in what is being seen as a bid to intimidate converts from Islam in the strongly Islamic republic of Dagestan.

Artur Suleimanov (49), himself a convert from Islam, was murdered by a gunman who approached and opened fire as the pastor got into a car outside Hosanna House of Prayer in the capital, Makhachkala, on Thursday July 15. He died from his wounds in hospital around an hour later. Nobody else was injured in the attack. Pastor Suleimanov leaves behind a wife, Zina, and five children, the youngest of whom is twelve years old.

Mr Suleimanov’s church is one of the largest Protestant churches in Dagestan. In a context where Christians face regular harassment and intimidation, his life had been threatened on several previous occasions.

Barnabas Aid has supported Christians in Dagestan, and our co-ordinator for the Former Soviet Union met Pastor Suleimanov a number of times. He said, “Pastor Suleimanov was a wonderful Christian brother and his shocking death is a devastating loss for the Dagestan church. He and the Hosanna House of Prayer church were very active in ministry and outreach in particular. We see his murder as an attempt to put further pressure on Christian converts in Dagestan.”

Please pray

  • That God will comfort and uphold Pastor Suleimanov’s family, and their large church family, in their distress and grief.
  • That the murderer and all those behind this horrendous incident will be brought to justice, and that they will come to faith in the Lord Jesus.
  • For protection over those attending Pastor Suleimanov’s funeral as well as the wider Church in Dagestan.
  • That Christians will not be intimidated by this act of violence.

The Russian Republic of Dagestan borders Chechnya in the turbulent North Caucasus. The population is 98 per cent Muslim, and the Church faces harassment and intimidation from various groups.

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May 21, 2010

After minarets, will Switzerland ban burqas too?

Full Muslim face veils could become the next divisive religious issue to take centre stage in Switzerland, where voters last November approved a measure banning the construction of new minarets. The Swiss federal government said in February it saw no need for a “burqa ban.” Politicians at the national level say there’s no “burqa problem” in Switzerland. But few thought there was a “minaret problem” either, until the question was put to a national referendum and the minaret ban campaigners won.

Like the minarets, of which there are only four in Switzerland, there are very few veiled women in Switzerland. The most likely place to see them is Geneva, where many rich Middle Easterners do their banking. Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey recently told the newspaper Blick that she’sd once seen fully veiled women there and was “furious, because the burqa is a symbol of the enslavement of women.” But she insisted to her interviewers: “I’m against burqas. And I’m against a burqa ban … we don’t have a burqa problem in Switzerland. Very few women wear a burqa here. Have you even seen one?”

Similarly, Economy Minister Doris Leuthard, who is also serving this year as the country’s president, has said  “we’ve got much tougher, more important problems.” Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf has said “we don’t really have a burqa problem in Switzerland now.” She did add, though, that she was watching to see whether a “parallel society” was developing. “We are not ready to let our legal system and our values be compromised,” she said. Down at the cantonal level, though, things may be moving. The legislature in the canton of Aargau has voted overwhelmingly to propose a national bill to outlaw full face veils. Two more canton legislatures, in Bern and Solothurn, are reported to be ready to do the same.

Will these initiatives lead to a national ban? It’ss too early to say. But the  minaret ban idea started at the regional level, too,  in Zurich canton, and turned into a national referendum that ended in a surprise. It will be worth watching to see if Switzerland looks likely to follow the example of Belgium and France.

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April 29, 2010

Franklin Graham Retained as Speaker at National Day of Prayer Event

Fort Lauderdale, FL (April 29, 2010) — Coral Ridge Ministries today applauded the decision of U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt and other members of Congress to retain Rev. Franklin Graham as a speaker at a Capitol Hill National Day of Prayer event, May 6.

While the Council on American-Islamic Relations’s effort to censor Franklin Graham met with success at the Pentagon, we are pleased that Rep. Aderholt and others Members dismissed the call to remove Mr. Graham.

Franklin Graham is a distinguished American who has led relief efforts in 100 nations through his organization, Samaritan’ss Purse. He serves this year as honorary chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, which seeks to mobilize Christians to pray for America and its leadership.

CAIR, an unindicted co-conspirator in a terror finance case, objects to Franklin Graham’ss statement after 9/11 that Islam is “a very evil and wicked religion.” Graham is correct. The sad fact is that not only were the 9/11 terrorists inspired by Islamic teaching to kill some 3,000 people on our soil, but Christians today around the world are harassed, threatened, jailed, beaten, tortured, and martyred in Muslim lands. In Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, Christianity is illegal. Christians there are forced to meet in secret for fear of police raids, whipping, and worse. Saudis who turn to Christ are at risk of honor killings by members of their own family. Eight of the ten nations where anti-Christian persecution is most severe are Muslim, according to the Open Doors World Watch List, a detailed analysis of persecution worldwide. The attack on Graham is not only utterly mistaken but it is a distraction at a time when America desperately needs to repent and return to God in prayer. That is the opportunity the National Day of Prayer affords all of us, and it is what Christians and others should be focused on both on May 6 and throughout the year.

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April 29, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: U.N. Elects Iran to Commission on Women’s Rights

Without fanfare, the United Nations this week elected Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women, handing a four-year seat on the influential human rights body to a theocratic state in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women judged “immodest.”

NEW YORK — Without fanfare, the United Nations this week elected Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women, handing a four-year seat on the influential human rights body to a theocratic state in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women judged “immodest.”

Just days after Iran abandoned a high-profile bid for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, it began a covert campaign to claim a seat on the Commission on the Status of Women, which is “dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women,” according to its website.

Buried 2,000 words deep in a U.N. press release distributed Wednesday on the filling of “vacancies in subsidiary bodies,” was the stark announcement: Iran, along with representatives from 10 other nations, was “elected by acclamation,” meaning that no open vote was requested or required by any member states — including the United States.

The U.S. currently holds one of the 45 seats on the body, a position set to expire in 2012. The U.S. Mission to the U.N. did not return requests for comment on whether it actively opposed elevating Iran to the women’s commission.

Iran’s election comes just a week after one of its senior clerics declared that women who wear revealing clothing are to blame for earthquakes, a statement that created an international uproar — but little affected their bid to become an international arbiter of women’s rights.

“Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes,” said the respected cleric, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi.

As word of Iran’s intention to join the women’s commission came out, a group of Iranian activists circulated a petition to the U.N. asking that member states oppose its election.

“Iran’s discriminatory laws demonstrate that the Islamic Republic does not believe in gender equality,” reads the letter, signed by 214 activists and endorsed by over a dozen human rights bodies.

The letter draws a dark picture of the status of women in Iran: “women lack the ability to choose their husbands, have no independent right to education after marriage, no right to divorce, no right to child custody, have no protection from violent treatment in public spaces, are restricted by quotas for women’s admission at universities, and are arrested, beaten, and imprisoned for peacefully seeking change of such laws.”

The Commission on the Status of Women is supposed to conduct review of nations that violate women’s rights, issue reports detailing their failings, and monitor their success in improving women’s equality.

Yet critics of Iran’s human rights record say the country has taken “every conceivable step” to deter women’s equality.

“In the past year, it has arrested and jailed mothers of peaceful civil rights protesters,” wrote three prominent democracy and human rights activists in an op-ed published online Tuesday by Foreign Policy Magazine.

“It has charged women who were seeking equality in the social sphere — as wives, daughters and mothers — with threatening national security, subjecting many to hours of harrowing interrogation. Its prison guards have beaten, tortured, sexually assaulted and raped female and male civil rights protesters.”

Iran’s elevation to the commission comes as a black eye just days after the U.S. helped lead a successful effort to keep Iran off the Human Rights Council, which is already dominated by nations that are judged by human rights advocates as chronic violators of essential freedoms. The current membership of the women’s commission is little different.

Though it touts itself as “the principal global policy-making body” on women’s rights, the makeup of the commission is mostly determined by geography and its membership is a hodge-podge of some human rights advocates (including the U.S., Japan, and Germany) and other nations with stark histories of rights violations.

The number of seats on the commission is based on the number of countries in a region, no matter how small their populations or how scant their respect for rights. The commission is currently made up of 13 members from Africa, 11 from Asia, nine from Latin America and the Caribbean, eight from Western Europe and North America, and four from Eastern Europe.

During this round of “elections,” which were not competitive and in which no real votes were cast, two seats opened up for the Asian bloc for the 2011-2015 period. Only two nations put forward candidates to fill empty spots — Iran and Thailand. As at most such commissions in the U.N., backroom deals determined who would gain new seats at the women’s rights body.

The activists’ letter sent to the U.N. Tuesday argued that it would be better if the Asian countries proffered only one candidate, instead of elevating Iran to the commission.

“We, a group of gender-equality activists, believe that for the sake of women’s rights globally, an empty seat for the Asia group on (the commission) is much preferable to Iran’s membership. We are writing to alert you to the highly negative ramifications of Iran’ss membership in this international body.”

A spokeswoman for the U.N.’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which oversees the commission, did not return phone calls or e-mails seeking comment.

When its term begins in 2011, Iran will be joined by 10 other countries: Belgium, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Estonia, Georgia, Jamaica, Iran, Liberia, the Netherlands, Spain, Thailand and Zimbabwe.

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April 22, 2010

Army withdraws Franklin Graham Pentagon prayer day invitation

By Jeff Schogol, Stars and Stripes
Online Edition, Thursday, April 22, 2010

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army has disinvited Franklin Graham to speak at the Pentagon on National Prayer Day after a military advocacy group objected because Graham has reportedly described Islam as “evil” and “wicked.”

“I regret that the Army felt it was necessary to rescind their invitation to the National Day of Prayer Task Force to participate in the Pentagon’ss special prayer service,” Graham said in a statement on Thursday.

I want to express my strong support for the United States military and all our troops. I will continue to pray that God will give them guidance, wisdom and protection as they serve this great country.”
Graham was expected to speak at the Pentagon on May 6, drawing the ire of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a watchdog group focused on religious favoritism in the military.

The group had been prepared to seek a temporary restraining order against National Prayer Day if it were “polluted by someone as hideously Islamophobic as Franklin Graham,” said Mikey Weinstein, head of the group.

In a 2001 op-ed piece, Graham wrote that he does not believe Muslims are evil, but he objects to the treatment of women in Muslim countries and Islam’ss historic “persecution or elimination” of other religions.

On Thursday, Graham told Fox News that while he loves Muslims, “I speak out for people that live under Islam, that are enslaved by Islam and I want them to know they can be free through faith in Jesus Christ and Christ alone.”Council on American Islamic Relations spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said it is “completely inappropriate” for Graham to speak in front of a military audience.

“These are individuals who are potentially going to be stationed in Muslim majority nations, and they don’st need to hear from someone spreading hatred of Islam and Muslims,” Hooper said.

“What does that say to those who are going to be asked to serve in these regions and how is that going to affect their interaction with the local population?” Graham is honorary chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a group that organizes Christian events that was invited to participate in National Day of Prayer by the Pentagon chaplain’ss office.

An Army spokesman told the Associated Press the Pentagon’ss relationship with the Christian group does not violate Defense Department rules.

We are an all-inclusive military,” said Col. Tim Collins. “We hold observances throughout the year. This one happens to be a Christian-themed event.”

But his comments were criticized by the Secular Coalition for America, an advocacy for non-religious Americans.

“For the Pentagon to hold an explicitly ‘Christian-themed event’s around the day of prayer is brazenly out of all reasonable bounds, and explicitly exclusionary to U.S. servicemembers of all non-Christian faiths and of no faith,” group Executive Director Sean Faircloth said in a release.

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March 29, 2010

Double suicide bombings kill 38 on Moscow subway

Reuters – A woman cries as Interior Ministry officers block her way in front of the exit of Lubyanka metro station …

By DAVID NOWAK, Associated Press Writer
David Nowak, Associated Press Writer – 12 mins ago
MOSCOW – Female suicide bombers blew themselves up Monday in twin attacks on Moscow subway stations packed with rush-hour passengers, killing at least 38 people and wounding more than 60, officials said. The carnage blamed on rebels from the Caucasus region follows the killings of several high-profile Islamic militant leaders there.
The blasts come six years after Islamic separatists from the southern Russian region carried out a pair of deadly Moscow subway strikes and raise concerns that the war has once again come to the capital, amid militants’ warnings of a renewed determination to push their fight.
Chechen rebels claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing late last year on a passenger train en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Last month, Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov warned Russians in an interview on a rebel-affiliated Web site that “the war is coming to their cities.”
The first explosion took place just before 8 a.m. at the Lubyanka station in central Moscow. The station is underneath the building that houses the main offices of the Federal Security Service, the KGB’s main successor agency, a symbol of power under Vladimir Putin.
About 45 minutes later, a second explosion hit the Park Kultury station, which is near the renowned Gorky Park. In both cases, the bombs were detonated as the trains pulled into the stations and the doors were opening.
“I heard a bang, turned my head and smoke was everywhere. People ran for the exits screaming,” said 24-year-old Alexander Vakulov, who was on a train on the platform opposite the targeted train at Park Kultury.
“I saw a dead person for the first time in my life,” said Valentin Popov, 19, who had just arrived at the station from the opposite direction.
Prime Minister Putin, who built much of his political capital by directing a fierce war with Chechen separatists a decade ago, vowed Monday that “terrorists will be destroyed.”
Militants in the Caucasus have declared the creation of an Islamic state as their top goal. The militants receive moral and financial support from al-Qaida, which for years has celebrated the Chechen struggle as one of the key fronts for roving Muslim fighters along with Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia.
Moscow is unlikely to hit back at the rebels with massive firepower: The Kremlin has installed loyal leaders in the areas where the militants operate, making bombing campaigns of the kind used in the 1990s Chechen wars out of the question.
The Kremlin is already engaged in a huge escalation of its operations to smash the rebels, and it is difficult to see what more it could do.
The iconic Moscow subway system is the world’s second-busiest after Tokyo’s, carrying around 7 million passengers on an average workday, and is a key element in running the sprawling and traffic-choked city.
Russian TV showed amateur video from inside the Lubyanka station of wounded and possibly dead victims sitting and lying on the floor. The train platform was filled with smoke. The LifeNews.ru site showed gruesome photos of dead passengers sprawled inside a mangled subway car and a bloody leg lying on a station platform.
Outside both stations, passengers flooded out, many of them crying and making frantic calls on their cell phones. The wounded were loaded into ambulances and helicopters, some with their heads wrapped in bloody bandages, as sirens wailed.
The last confirmed terrorist attack in Moscow was in August 2004, when a suicide bomber blew herself up outside a subway station, killing 10 people. Responsibility for that blast was claimed by Chechen rebels.
A more devastating attack took place in February of that year, when a suicide bomber from the North Caucasus set off explosives during morning rush hour as it traveled between stations. More than 40 people were killed and more than 100 wounded.
Russian police have killed several Islamic militant leaders in the North Caucasus recently, including one last week in the Kabardino-Balkariya region, which has raised fears of retaliatory strikes by the militants.
The militants receive moral and perhaps financial support from al-Qaida. Dozens of contributors to three Web sites affiliated with al-Qaida wrote comments in praise of Monday’s attacks.
One site opened a special page to “receive congratulations” for the Chechen rebels who “started the dark tunnel attacks in the apostate countries,” and all wished for God to accept the two sisters as martyrs.
“Don’t forget Russia’s crimes of genocide in the Caucasus and Chechnya,” said one writer. “The battle has been shifted to the heart of Moscow,” another wrote.
In a televised meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev, Federal Security Service head Alexander Bortnikov said body fragments of the two bombers pointed to a Caucasus connection. The bombers have not been identified and Bortnikov did not elaborate.
“We will continue the fight against terrorism unswervingly and to the end,” Medvedev said.
Neither he nor Putin, who was on an official trip in Siberia, announced specific measures and it was not clear if Russia has new strategies to unleash in the Caucasus, where violent separatism has spread from Chechnya into neighboring republics.
Although the Russian army battered Chechen rebels in massive assaults a decade ago, the separatists continue to move through the region’s mountains and forests with comparative ease and launch frequent small attacks.
New York’s transit system beefed up security as a precaution following the Moscow bombings. A spokesman for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Kevin Ortiz, said the agency has a “heightened security presence,” but declined further comment.
The agency is in charge of New York City buses and subways, as well as suburban trains, and bridges and tunnels. In London and Madrid, two other cities that have suffered transit system terror attacks, officials said there were no immediate plans to tighten security.
At 4 p.m., the two Moscow subway stations reopened and dozens boarded the waiting trains.
“It’s really terrifying,” said Vasily Vlastinin, 16. “It’s become dangerous to ride the metro, but I’ll keep taking the metro. You have to get to school, to college, to work somehow.”
Both stations had been scrubbed clean. Holes left by shrapnel in the granite were the only reminder of the day’s tragic bombings.

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March 11, 2010

6 killed, 8 injured in Pakistan firing

Islamabad, Mar 11: Unidentified attackers killed six aid workers of US-based charity organisation World Vision and injured eight others in Mansehra, a remote village in Pakistan, on Wednesday, Dawn reported on Thursday. Two women were among those killed According to the report, a government official said the attack appeared to be the work of militants, added that an inquiry had been ordered into the incident.

A group of 12 to 13 gunmen stormed the offices of World Vision in Oghi, put all employees in one room and started shooting, Hazara Commissioner Waqar Ayub told Dawn.

“The assailants were from different ethnic groups. They spoke Urdu, Hindko and Pashto. They rounded up the aid workers while shouting at them that they had been warned to stop spreading obscenity,” an official quoted an injured worker as saying.
Locals said that police watched as the attackers escaped into nearby mountains. They said the World Vision staff were not involved in any unethical activities.

The attackers lobbed grenades while leaving that destroyed the building.

The charity organisation has been working in the area since the October 2005 earthquake, helping women and children.

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March 09, 2010

Women, kids among 300 killed in Nigeria on Sunday

Published on Tue, Mar 09, 2010 at 15:43, Updated on Tue, Mar 09, 2010 at 16:54 in World section
As many as 300 people, many of them young children, were killed in Nigeria on Sunday. The latest communal bloodletting between Muslim and Christian villagers erupted near the central Nigerian city of Jos. Ongoing tensions over farmable land is thought to be at the root of the violence.

The majority of those slaughtered in the attacks were women and children who had tried to flee their homes after hearing gun shots outside.

They were hacked to death with machetes as they fled. Survivors blame the neighboring Fulani tribesmen for the massacre.

On Monday, Nigeria buried hundreds of victims of Sunday’s sectarian clashes in mass graves in the country’s central region. The latest communal bloodletting between Islamic pastoralists and Christian villagers erupted near the central Nigerian city of Jos, where sectarian violence killed hundreds in January.

The majority of those slaughtered in the early morning attacks were women and children who had tried to flee their homes after hearing gun shots outside, but were hacked to death with machetes as they came out. Survivors blamed the neighboring Fulani tribesmen for the massacre.

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‘Terror suspect Nigerian was sexually frustrated’

In January, four days of sectarian clashes between mobs armed with guns, knives and machetes killed hundreds of people in Jos, the capital of Plateau state, which lies at the crossroads of Nigeria’s Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.
The latest unrest in the volatile region comes at a difficult time for Nigeria, with Acting President Goodluck Jonathan trying to assert his authority while the country’s ailing leader Umaru Yar’Adua remains too sick to govern.

Jonathan deployed hundreds of troops and police to quell January’s unrest, in which community leaders put the death toll at more than 400 while official police figures estimated the death toll at 326.

The instability underscores the fragility of Africa’s most populous nation as it approaches the campaign period for 2011 elections with uncertainty over who is in charge. The bloody aftermath of deadly clashes in Jos state in Nigeria. As many as 300 people, many of them young children, were killed in the attacks early on Sunday. Witnesses say Hausa-Faulani herders from surrounding hill areas attacked three villages around 3:00 am.

As the slain bodies were collected in the village of Dogo Nahawa, those who survived, like Moses Tarrok, described their ordeal. Aid workers say some bodies were charred, and some had been shot. It was not immediately clear what triggered the latest attacks, which left many in serious condition in hospital, though ongoing tensions between Muslim herders and Christians over farmable land is thought to be at the root of the violence.

Attacks between the two groups in January left at least 326 people dead in Jos province.
Never will the division inside minds of people will stop.

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February 24, 2010

The Center for Democracy and Human rights in Saudi Arabia, CDHR, Washington, DC.

www.cdhr.info

An Influential Saudi Cleric Calls for Beheading of Apostates

For Immediate Release

Contact: Dr. Ali alyami
Phone: 202-413-0084
ali@cdhr.info

Washington, DC (February 24, 2010). The Washington-based Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia unequivocally denounces Shaikh Abdulrahman Al-Barrak call for the beheading of those who initiate or accept gender mingling in schools or in the work place. “They should be given one chance to repent, but if they do not, they should be considered apostate and beheaded,” Al-Barrak said.

Al-Barrak published his Fatwa, a religious edict, on his website, which is read by Muslims all over the world. The Saudi clerics (the religious branch of the government) participate fully in ruling Saudi Arabia. They are in total control of the country’s sectarian and arbitrary judicial system as well as its educational institutions, including approval of schoolbooks.

Despite King Abdullah’s cosmetic judicial and educational reforms, he and his large and diverse family (tribe) are keenly aware that the only base of legitimacy and source of power, which ensure their control of the country and its disenfranchised people, is the strength and ruthlessness of the theocratic establishment, which Shaikh Al-Barrak represents. Even if King Abdullah is serious about reforms, and most Saudis do not think he is but cannot say so, he is primarily accountable to his powerful and competing senior brothers who can easily override his decisions and/or render him powerless altogether.

Saudi Arabia’s domestic policies affect most Muslims across the world. This is due to Saudi Arabia’s centrality to Islam, control of its holy sites in Mecca and Medina, and influx of petrodollars. The Saudi autocratic and theocratic regime uses these powerful assets to exert its disproportionate influence and impose its will on Muslim communities worldwide. The Saudi government does this by exporting its stringent Wahhabi ideology, bribing heads of states, building religious schools and mosques wherever it wishes including in the US. This is the reason Muslim countries, represented by the Organization for Islamic Conference, OIC, sign up for whatever the Saudi ruling family wishes them to do.

Because of Saudi Arabia’s powerful religious and financial influence in the Muslim World, transforming Saudi educational and religious institutions should be President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s first foreign policy order of business in the Muslim World. Appointing an American Muslim envoy to the OIC by the Administration strengthens and legitimizes the Saudi extremist religious ideology, Wahhabism, at home and throughout the world.

http://www.alwatan.com.sa/news/newsdetail.asp?issueno=3435&id=137688&groupID=0

 

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February 03, 2010

Muslim Chaplain Arrested for Allegedly Trying to Smuggle Razor Blades Into NYC Jail

Authorities say a New York jails chaplain has been charged with trying to smuggle three razor blades and a pair of scissors into a facility.

The Department of Investigation says 58-year-old Imam Zul-Qarnain Shahid was arrested at the Manhattan Detention Complex on Wednesday.

The department says Shahid was arrested on several charges, including four counts of promoting prison contraband in the first degree, a felony.

Officials say Shahid was arrested while entering the jailhouse when a bag he had brought with him triggered an alarm from the X-ray machine. Authorities discovered razor blades and scissors inside the bag.

No phone number was listed for Shahid at his Staten Island residence. It wasn’t known whether he had an attorney.

A spokesman for the city Department of Correction had no comment.

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January 7, 2010

Muslims kill at least 7 Christians in Southern Egypt

By SARAH El DEEB, Associated Press Writer Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press Writer

CAIRO – Three men in a car sprayed automatic gunfire into a crowd of churchgoers in southern Egyptian as they left a midnight Mass for Coptic Christmas, killing at least seven people in a drive-by shooting, the church bishop and security officials said.

Egypt’s Interior Ministry said the attack Wednesday just before midnight was suspected as retaliation for the November rape of a Muslim girl by a Christian man in the same town. The statement said witnesses have identified the lead attacker.

The attack took place in the town of Nag Hamadi in Qena province, about 40 miles from the famous ancient ruins of Luxor. A local security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, confirmed that seven were dead and three seriously wounded.

Bishop Kirollos of the Nag Hamadi Diocese told The Associated Press six male churchgoers and one security guard were killed. He said he had left St. John’s church just minutes before the attack.

“A driving car swerved near me, so I took the back door. By the time I shook hands with someone at the gate, I heard the mayhem, lots of machine gun shots,” he said in a telephone interview. He said he saw five bodies lying on the ground when he first looked at the site of the shooting, about 600 yards where he was.

The bishop said he was concerned about violence on the eve of Coptic Christmas, which falls on Thursday, because of previous threats following the rape of the 12-year-old girl in November.

He got a message on his mobile phone saying: “It is your turn.”

“I did nothing with it. My faithful were also receiving threats in the streets, some shouting at them: ‘We will not let you have festivities,'” he said.

Because of the threats, he said he ended his Christmas Mass one hour early.

He said Muslim residents of Nag Hamadi and neighboring villages rioted for five days in November and torched and damaged Christian properties in the area after the rape.

“For days, I had expected something to happen on Christmas day,” he said. The bishop said police have now asked him to stay at home for fear of further violence.

Qena is one of Egypt’s poorest and most conservative areas.

Christians, mostly Coptic, account for about 10 percent of Egypt’s predominantly Muslim population. As Islamic conservatism gains ground, Christians have increasingly complained about discrimination by the Muslim majority.

Clashes between Muslims and Christians are not uncommon in southern Egypt and in recent years have begun seeping into the capital. An Amnesty International report said sectarian attacks on the Coptic Christian community, comprising between 6 million and 8 million people in Egypt, increased in the year 2008. Sporadic clashes between Coptic Christians and Muslims left eight people dead.

Vendetta killing is also common among southern Egyptians, and is usually over land or family disputes.

The bishop said he had an idea of who the attackers were, calling them “Muslim radicals.”

“It is all religious now. This is a religious war about how they can finish off the Christians in Egypt,” he said.




2009 News

December 26, 2009

US Calls Explosion on Airplane ‘Attempted Act of Terrorism’

The United States is increasing security for air travel across the country after a Nigerian man set off a small explosion aboard a flight bound for the U.S. city of Detroit.  White House officials are calling it “an attempted act of terrorism.” Â

The incident happened just about twenty minutes before Northwest Airlines Flight 253, flying from Amsterdam, landed in Detroit.

“We heard a loud pop and a bit of smoke and then some flames, and then yelling and screaming,” one passenger said.

“It was scary,” said another.  “It was a loud firecracker that went off, and there was a fire in the plane after a few seconds. It was very scary for everyone,” the passenger said.

One passenger immediately sprang into action when it appeared something was wrong.

“There was one guy who sat on the other side, on the right side of the wing,” recounted a passenger who observed the heroic act. “This was on the left side of the wing. He jumped over all the other people and he took care of it, so the fire went out.”

No one was injured and once the plane landed the suspect was taken into custody.

U.S. counterterrorism officials say he is a 23-year-old Nigerian named Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab and that he was trying to blow up the plane.  They also say his name does appear on a U.S. intelligence watch list, but  not  on a no-fly list that would have prevented him from boarding the flight.

Mutallab suffered third-degree burns, but still managed to tell investigators he was acting on behalf of al-Qaida.  Those claims have yet to be confirmed. Â

“We have real concerns here, because we know that Nigeria is a source of terrorist activity, al-Qaida connected activity,” said New York Congressman Peter King, a ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee.

The Republican congressman said critical questions will have to be answered, and answered quickly.

“How he was able to get on in Nigeria, what happened in Amsterdam, which is a visa waiver country, how he was able to get through and make it this far with the devices he had, these are all issues that have to be resolved.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says additional security measures are being put into place for all flights, and is encouraging passengers to be observant and report any suspicious activity.

IntelCenter, a U.S.-based terrorism monitoring group that works with the U.S. government, says the incident appears to be a serious attempt against the United States, with connections to Yemen and Nigeria.  It also says the possibility of additional attempts over the next day or two cannot be ruled out.

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December 13, 2009

CAIR: Southern California Mosque Vandalized

4th mosque vandalism reported nationwide in past month

(LOS ANGELES, CA, 12/13/2009) – The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today asked law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for recent vandalism at an Azusa mosque.

[NOTE: On Monday, December 14, CAIR-LA will release its annual report on the status of Muslim civil rights in California.]

Rahmat P. Phyakul, board chairman and one of the founders of Al-Fatiha Masjid, reported to CAIR-LA that vandals shattered windows and glass doors of the mosque’s office and prayer hall on Monday, December 7. A plaque with Quranic verses was tossed on the floor, the sound system was destroyed and donation boxes were broken into.

The mosque has suffered prior incidents of vandalism. In the past, a passerby shouted anti-Muslim slurs at worshipers. The slurs reportedly included: “You, terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, F… your God, F…. you Allah.” Prayer rugs in the mosque were also covered with urine.

The December 7 incident appeared to have taken place between 4 and 7 p.m. and was reported by congregants arriving for evening prayer. Mosque officials immediately contacted the Azusa Police Department to report the break-in, vandalism and robbery.

“We urge law enforcement authorities to utilize all their resources to immediately and fully investigate the vandalism at Masjid Al-Fatiha as a possible hate crime, especially because of the nature of the vandalism,” said Affad Shaikh, civil rights manager for CAIR-LA.

Phyakul added: “For those who have committed hate crimes against people of any faith, especially Muslims, they should know that they cannot silence us, shut us down or cause us to go away. This is our country, and we are here to stay and we are willing to stand for the truth and peace under any circumstances.”

Earlier this month, vandals broke into the back door of a Sacramento mosque and damaged religious wall hangings and a book shelf that held Qurans, as well as other property in the facility, according to a police report. The vandals also stole items from the mosque.

Additionally, an Oregon mosque last month was targeted with hate graffiti. A police report indicated that vandals wrote “Allah is a pig” on the Abu-Bakr As-Siddiq Islamic center’s mailbox on or before November 15th. Local police said they view the incident as a bias crime.

Also last month, CAIR called for an investigation of a possible bias motive for repeated vandalism at a North Carolina mosque.

SEE: Muslims Say Attacks are More Than Vandalism

CAIR is urging American Muslim individuals and institutions to review advice on security procedures contained in its “Muslim Community Safety Kit.”

SEE: Muslim Community Safety Kit

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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November 29, 2009

Swiss voters back ban on minarets

There are only four minarets in Switzerland

This will cause major problems because during this campaign in the last two weeks different mosques were attacked, which we never experienced in 40 years in Switzerland

Tamir Hadjipolu
Zurich’s Association of Muslim Organisations

Minaret vote: Your views

15:48 GMT Sunday, 29 November 2009 Swiss voters have supported a referendum proposal to ban the building of minarets, official results show.

More than 57% of voters from 26 cantons – or provinces – voted in favor of the ban, Swiss news agency ATS reported.

The proposal had been put forward by the Swiss People’s Party, (SVP), the largest party in parliament, which says minarets are a sign of Islamisation.

Opponents say a ban would amount to discrimination and that the ballot has stirred hatred.

The BBC’s Imogen Foulkes, in Bern, says the surprise result is very bad news for the Swiss government which had urged voters to reject a ban on minarets, fearing unrest among the Muslim community and damage to Switzerland’ s relations with Islamic countries.

Switzerland is home to some 400,000 Muslims and has just four minarets..

Our correspondent says voters worried about rising immigration, and with it the rise of Islam, have ignored the government’s advice.

Islam is the most widespread religion after Christianity in Switzerland, but it remains relatively hidden.

There are unofficial Muslim prayer rooms, and planning applications for new minarets are almost always refused.

Supporters of a ban claim that allowing minarets would represent the growth of an ideology and a legal system – Sharia law – which are incompatible with Swiss democracy.

But others say the referendum campaign incited hatred. On Thursday the Geneva mosque was vandalised for the third time during the campaign, according to local media.

Before the vote, Amnesty Intertio l warned that the ban would violate Switzerland’ s obligations to freedom of religious expression.

Political symbol’

The president of Zurich’s Association of Muslim Organisations, Tamir Hadjipolu, told the BBC that if the ban was implemented, Switzerland’ s Muslim community would live in fear.

“This will cause major problems because during this campaign in the last two weeks different mosques were attacked, which we never experienced in 40 years in Switzerland.

“So with the campaign… the Islamaphobia has increased very intensively. ”

Sunday’s referendum was held after the People’s party collected 100,000 signatures from eligible voters within 18 months calling for a vote.

SVP member of parliament Ulrich Schluer said the referendum campaign had helped integration by encouraging debate. He rejected the charge of discrimination.

“Every Muslim is allowed to come together with other Muslims to have the religion together,” he told the BBC.

“But a minaret is a political symbol. It is a symbol for introducing, step-by-step, Sharia rights also in Switzerland, parallel to the Swiss law which is a result of Swiss democracy. And this is the problem. It is nothing against Muslims.”

To become law, a majority of canton voting districts must approve the referendum result, as well as a majority of voters.

In recent years many countries in Europe have been debating their relationship with Islam, and how best to integrate their Muslim populations.

France focused on the headscarf, while in Germany there was controversy over plans to build one of Europe’s largest mosques in Cologne. http://news. bbc.co.uk/ 1/hi/world/ europe/8385069.stm

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November 12, 2009

U.S. Moves to Seize 4 Mosques and Skyscraper Tied to Iran

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors took steps Thursday to seize four U.S. mosques and a Fifth Avenue skyscraper owned by a nonprofit Muslim organization long suspected of being secretly controlled by the Iranian government.

In what could prove to be one of the biggest counterterrorism seizures in U.S. history, prosecutors filed a civil complaint in federal court against the Alavi Foundation, seeking the forfeiture of more than $500 million in assets.

The assets include bank accounts; Islamic centers consisting of schools and mosques in New York City, Maryland, California and Houston; more than 100 acres in Virginia; and a 36-story glass office tower in New York.

Confiscating the properties would be a sharp blow against Iran, which has been accused by the U.S. government of bankrolling terrorism and trying to build a nuclear bomb.

A telephone call and e-mail to Iran’s U.N. Mission seeking comment were not immediately answered.

John D. Winter, the Alavi Foundation’s lawyer, said it intends to litigate the case and prevail. He said the foundation has been cooperating with the government’s investigation for the better part of a year.

”Obviously the foundation is disappointed that the government has decided to bring this action,” Winter told The Associated Press.

It is extremely rare for U.S. law enforcement authorities to seize a house of worship, a step fraught with questions about the First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

The action against the Shiite Muslim mosques is sure to inflame relations between the U.S. government and American Muslims, many of whom are fearful of a backlash after last week’s Fort Hood shooting rampage, blamed on a Muslim American major.

”Whatever the details of the government’s case against the owners of the mosques, as a civil rights organization we are concerned that the seizure of American houses of worship could have a chilling effect on the religious freedom of citizens of all faiths and may send a negative message to Muslims worldwide,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The mosques and the skyscraper will remain open while the forfeiture case works its way through court in what could be a long process. What will happen to them if the government ultimately prevails is unclear. But the government typically sells properties it has seized through forfeiture, and the proceeds are sometimes distributed to crime victims.

”No action has been taken against any tenants or occupants of those properties,” U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman Yusill Scribner said. ”The tenants and occupants remain free to use the properties as they have before today’s filing. There are no allegations of any wrongdoing on the part of any of these tenants or occupants.”

Prosecutors said the Alavi Foundation managed the office tower on behalf of the Iranian government and, working with a front company known as Assa Corp., illegally funneled millions in rental income to Iran’s state-owned Bank Melli. Bank Melli has been accused by a U.S. Treasury official of providing support for Iran’s nuclear program, and it is illegal in the United States to do business with the bank.

The U.S. has long suspected the foundation was an arm of the Iranian government; a 97-page complaint details involvement in foundation business by several top Iranian officials, including the deputy prime minister and ambassadors to the United Nations.

”For two decades, the Alavi Foundation’s affairs have been directed by various Iranian officials, including Iranian ambassadors to the United Nations, in violation of a series of American laws,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

There were no raids Thursday as part of the forfeiture action. The government is simply required to post notices of the civil complaint on the property.

As prosecutors outlined their allegations against Alavi, the Islamic centers and the schools they run carried on with normal activity. The mosques’ leaders had no immediate comment.

Parents lined up in their cars to pick up their children at the schools within the Islamic Education Center of Greater Houston and the Islamic Education Center in Rockville, Md. No notices of the forfeiture action were posted at either place as of late Thursday.

At the Islamic Institute of New York, a mosque and school in Queens, two U.S. marshals came to the door and rang the bell repeatedly. The marshals taped a forfeiture notice to the window and left a large document sitting on the ground. After they left a group of men came out of the building and took the document.

The fourth Islamic center marked for seizure is in Carmichael, Calif.

The skyscraper, known as the Piaget building, was erected in the 1970s under the shah of Iran, who was overthrown in 1979. The tenants include law and investment firms and other businesses.

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November 5, 2009

12 Dead, 31 Wounded in Base Shootings

The New York Times
5 November 2009

Military officials identified the gunman as Army Maj. Malik Nadal Hassan. Two other suspects are in custody.

Lt. Gen. Robert Cone spoke to the press at Fort Hood.

At least one gunman killed 11 soldiers and wounded 31 others on Thursday afternoon at Fort Hood in Texas. Authorities then killed the gunman, who was identified as Malik Nadal Hasan, an Army major who was about to be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone, the commanding officer at Fort Hood, the largest active military installation in the country, said the base was placed in lockdown as military authorities, with the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, investigate the rampage.

“This was a terrible tragedy,” said General Cone, speaking at a news conference Thursday afternoon. “Stunning.”‘

An Army spokesman, Gary Tallman, said that the dead gunman was an Army major. A law enforcement official identified the him as Malik Nadal Hassan.

President Obama, speaking from the White House, called it “a horrific outburst of violence.”

“My immediate thoughts and prayers are with the wounded and with the families of the fallen,” the president said.

“We don’t yet know all the details at this moment,” he said. “We will share them as we get them. What we do know is that a number of American soldiers have been killed and even more have been wounded in a horrific outburst of violence.”

“It is horrifying that they should come under fire at an Army base on American soil,” the president said.

General Cone said the shooting began at about 1:30 p.m. Central time, when a soldier entered the soldier readiness unit, where soldiers receive last-minute medical attention and other instruction before being being deployed overseas, including to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“A soldier opened fire, and due to the quick response of the police forces, he was killed,” General Cone said.

“There were several eyewitness accounts that there was more than one shooter,” he said. Two other soldiers were also taken into custody, he said, but the authorities are continuing to sort out what exactly happened.

General Cone said that the sprawling base has facilities that house children, but that there were no children among the dead or wounded.

“The soldiers and family members are absolutely devastated,” he said.

He said that the local police had responded quickly and that the wounded were taken to an area hospital.

Earlier, Senator Hutchison she had been apprised of the shootings.

“Our hearts go out,” she told Fox 4 News. “These are soldiers who are getting ready to go out to Iraq or Afghanistan and their families were under stress already. This was just a terrible tragedy and we don’t even know the extent of it yet.”

The based was the site today of the annual college graduation ceremonies for soldiers and family members who have not had the opportunity to participate in college commencement exercises during the past year because of deployment, according to the Fort Hood Sentinel

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October 28, 2009

Imam Who Led Radical Islam Group Killed in FBI Raid

DETROIT — Federal authorities on Wednesday arrested several members of a radical Sunni Islam group in the U.S., killing one of its leaders at a shootout in a Michigan warehouse, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Agents were trying to arrest Luqman Ameen Abdullah, 53, at a Dearborn warehouse on charges that included conspiracy to sell stolen goods and illegal possession and sale of firearms. Authorities also conducted raids elsewhere to try to round up 10 followers named in a federal complaint.

Abdullah refused to surrender, fired a weapon and was killed by gunfire from agents, FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold said.

In the 43-paged complaint unsealed Wednesday, the FBI said Abdullah, also known as Christopher Thomas, was an imam, or prayer leader, of a radical group named Ummah whose primary mission is to establish an Islamic state within the United States.

No one was charged with terrorism. But Abdullah was “advocating and encouraging his followers to commit violent acts against the United States,” FBI agent Gary Leone said in an affidavit.

He told them it was their “duty to oppose the FBI and the government and it does not matter if they die,” Leone said.

Abdullah regularly preached anti-government rhetoric and was trained, along with his followers, in the use of firearms, martial arts and swords, the agent said.

Leone said members of the national group mostly are black and some converted to Islam while in prisons across the United States.

“Abdullah preaches that every Muslim should have a weapon, and should not be scared to use their weapon when needed,” Leone wrote.

Seven of the 10 people charged with Abdullah were in custody, including a state prison inmate, the U.S. attorney’s office said. Three were still at large. Another man not named in the complaint also was arrested.

The group believes that a separate Islamic state in the U.S. would be controlled by Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, who is serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Colorado for shooting two police officers in Georgia in 2000, Leone said. Al-Amin, a veteran of the black power movement, started the group after he converted to Islam in prison.

“They’re not taking their cues from overseas,” said Jimmy Jones, a professor of world religions at Manhattanville College and a longtime Muslim prison chaplain. “This group is very much American born and bred.”

The movement at one time was believed to include a couple of dozen mosques around the country. Ummah is now dwarfed in numbers and influence by other African-American Muslim groups, particularly the mainstream Sunnis who were led by Imam W.D. Mohammed, who recently died.

By evening, authorities still were working the scene near the Detroit-Dearborn border and the warehouse was surrounded by police tape.

The U.S. attorney’s office said an FBI dog was also killed during the shootout.

Abdullah’s mosque is in a brick duplex on a quiet, residential street in Detroit. A sign on the door in English and Arabic reads, in part, “There is no God but Allah.”

Several men congregated on the porch Wednesday night and subsequently attacked a photographer from The Detroit News who was taking pictures from across the street. Ricardo Thomas had his camera equipment smashed and had a bloody lip from the attack.

Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Dearborn, said the FBI had briefed him about Wednesday’s raids and told him they were the result of a two-year investigation.

“We know that this is not something to be projected as something against Muslims,” Hamad said.

The complaint shows the FBI built its case with the help of confidential sources close to Abdullah who recorded conversations.

A source said that Abdullah regularly beat children inside the mosque with sticks, including a boy who was “unable to walk for several days,” Leone said.

The source, according to the agent, regularly listened to a recording of a 2004 sermon in which Abdullah said, “Do not carry a pistol if you’re going to give it up to police. You give them a bullet!”

In January 2009, members were evicted from a former mosque for failing to pay property taxes. An FBI search turned up empty shell casings and large holes in the concrete wall of a “shooting range,” Leone said.

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the federal authorities’ description of Abdullah’s extremist links didn’t match what he knew of Abdullah.

“I knew him to be charitable,” Walid said. “He would open up the mosque to homeless people. He used to run a soup kitchen and feed indigent people. … I knew nothing of him that was related to any nefarious or criminal behavior.”

Abdullah had a wife and children, Walid said. A phone number for the family had been disconnected.

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September 20, 2009

A Muslim prayer on the West front of Capitol Building

Washington, D.C. –  On September 25th there will be a national prayer gathering of Muslims on the west front of the U..S. Capitol Building .  They are expecting at least 50,000 to attend from mosques all across America . They will gather to pray from 4:00 AM until 7:00 PM. The gathering will take place by the site where U.S. . Presidents have been inaugurated since 1981.  The organizers say that it was Obama’s inauguration speech in January and his speech broadcast from Egypt in June that gave them the idea for this prayer gathering on Capitol Hill. 

They have a website set up for this event. If you never look at another website look at this one, especially the final words– below “donate”

:  islamoncapitolhill. com        click and scroll “Our Time Has Come”

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September 1, 2009

The Canadian Hate Speech Law, known as Section 13, has been declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL

“Marc Lemire, a Canadian freedom of speech fighter and computer genius, has won a decisive victory against the odious Human Rights Tribunal.”

The Canadian Hate Speech Law, known as Section 13, has been today declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL.Â

Left-wing McCarythist Richard Warman will have to take what we dish out and shove it up his rear end! No longer will he, the bullies of Bnai Brith, the Muslims or assorted censorship lobbies be able to intimidate those who would dare to speak out against the Secular Multicultural Growthist Theocracy!

SECTION 13 HAS BEEN STRUCK DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!

  1. Conclusion

I have determined that Mr. Lemire contravened s. 13 of the Act in only one of the instances alleged by Mr. Warman, namely the AIDS Secrets article. However, I have also concluded that s. 13(1) in conjunction with ss. 54(1) and (1.1) are inconsistent with s. 2(b) of the Charter, which guarantees the freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression. The restriction imposed by these provisions is not a reasonable limit within the meaning of s. 1 of the Charter. Since a formal declaration of invalidity is not a remedy available to the Tribunal (see Cuddy Chicks Ltd. V. Ontario (Labour Relations Board), [1991] 2 S.C.R. 5), I will simply refuse to apply these provisions for the purposes of the complaint against Mr. Lemire and I will not issue any remedial order against him (see Nova Scotia (Workers’ Compensation Board) v. Martin, 2003 SCC 54 at paras. 26-7).

Next step: Abolish the Human Rights Tribunals!

Tim Murray

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August 26, 2009

Saudi Child Bride Turned Back Over to 80-Year-Old Husband

A Saudi Arabian father forced his 10-year-old daughter to return to her 80-year-old husband Sunday, after she was found hiding at the home of her aunt for 10 days, Arab News reported.

The young girl’s husband, who denies he is 80 despite family claims, accused the aunt of violating the terms of his marriage, allowed by Sharia Law.

“My marriage is not against Sharia. It included the elements of acceptance and response by the father of the bride,” he told a local newspaper.

A member of the National Society for Human Rights said there are no regulations in place to stop the marriage of young girls, which is seen as harmful to their wellbeing.

“Such marriages are considered a gross violation of charters on the rights of children, which the Kingdom has signed and which set the age of adulthood at 18,” Maatouq Al-Abdullah told Arab News.

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August 14, 2009

Four More Christians Beheaded in Somalia

Baptist Press Staff

August 14, 2009

WASHINGTON (BP) — Four more Christians have been beheaded in Somalia, according to the Washington-based human rights organization International Christian Concern.

The four Christians had been working for a non-governmental organization that aids orphans in southern Somalia. The Islamic extremist group al Shabaab, which has ties to al-Qaida, “kidnapped and eventually beheaded the Christians after they refused to renounce their faith,” International Christian Concern reported Aug. 11.

According to the ICC report:

“On August 4, a junior [al Shabaab] militant notified all the families of the victims that the four Christians had been beheaded for apostasy. He described the Christians as promoters of ‘fitna,’ a Muslim term for religious discord. The militant, who called himself ‘Seiful Islam’ (‘the Sword of Islam’), told the families that the bodies will not be given to them ‘as Somalia does not have cemeteries for infidels.’

“One eyewitness account said, ‘All the four apostates were given an opportunity to return to Islam to be released but they all declined the generous offer.'”

Earlier this year, seven other Somalis were beheaded, along with two sons of a village church leader.

According to Compass Direct News, a California-based organization that also reports on incidents of persecution:

— The seven Somalis were publicly beheaded July 10 in the town of Bladoa for being deemed “Christians” and “spies” by al Shabaab (which means “the Youth” in Arabic).

— The two sons of a church leader were beheaded Feb. 21. Their father, Musa Mohammed Yusuf, 55, formerly led an underground church in the village of Yonday. He and his wife and a third son subsequently took refuge in Kenya.

Somalia’s Christians comprise less than 1 percent of the African nation’s 9.8 million people.

After the seven beheadings, the Associated Press noted, “Punishments such as stoning, amputations and beheadings are historically rare in Somalia, which traditionally practices moderate Sufi Islam. But a more extremist form of jihadi Salafist Islam with its roots in Saudi Arabia has taken root during the chaotic warfare of recent years, strengthened by a recent influx of hundreds of foreign fighters.”

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to address the issue of religious freedom when she met with Somali President Sheik Sharif Ahmed in Nairobi during her recent trip to Africa.

USCIRF chair Leonard Leo, in a July 30 letter to Clinton, noted:

“For the first time, USCIRF placed Somalia on its Watch List in 2009…. [I]n the absence of the rule of law, freedom of religion or belief, like all other human rights, is circumscribed by insurgents, warlords, self-appointed officials, local authorities, and prevailing societal attitudes.

“While the international community is focused on piracy, terrorism, and the security situation in Somalia, problems of religious extremism and the rule of law must also be addressed. USCIRF believes that improving freedom of religion and related human rights and governance will help to address many of the problems in Somalia.”

Media outlets such as the Associated Press did not report whether Clinton raised such issues.

However, Clinton described Ahmed’s moderate Islamist transitional government as “the best hope we’ve had for some time,” The New York Times reported. The Times described Ahmed as “a former religious teacher who rose to popularity in Somalia by helping rescue kidnapped children.” Ahmed is not a warlord, one Clinton aide told The Times. “But he’s shown the ability to lead. And he’s shown the ability to survive.”

Clinton promised Ahmed more aid, training and weaponry for battling the insurgents, but The Times noted that the challenge is daunting because the government “controls no more than a few city blocks in a country the size of Texas, with extremist Islamist groups, like the Shabaab, in charge of much of the rest.”

Clinton said Al Shabaab intends for Somalia to become “a future haven for global terrorism” — “a base from which to influence and even infiltrate surrounding countries and launch attacks against countries far and near.”

After Clinton’s visit, the Voice of America reported Aug. 11, Islamic insurgents rejected overtures from Ahmed to stop the violence and begin peace negotiations.

USCIRF, in its 2009 report, expressed a degree of hope. Ahmed announced in February 2009 that sharia law would become the basis for law in Somalia, but he has said it should respect human rights and women’s rights. This may help in “undercutting support for the militias,” USCIRF stated. “Reports indicate that Somalis are tired of fighting and that popular support for al Shabaab has fallen.”

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August 7, 2009

Nigerian Taliban Beheaded Three Christian Pastors After They Refused to Convert to Islam

One of the victims of last week’s attack by the Yusufiya sect in Borno State has given a shocking account of how the Islamic extremists killed three pastors who were captured along with other victims on the second day of the insurgence.

The victim was among those held hostage in Yusuf’s enclave.

Speaking exclusively to Daily Sun in Maiduguri, the eye witness who preferred anonymity disclosed that the three pastors were beheaded on the instruction of the sect leader, Mohammed Yusuf shortly after bringing them out of his inner chamber.

“The pastors alongside one Ibo man were asked to change their faith to Islam like they did to other people taken as hostages. I think there was an argument by one of the pastors which gave the others some level of confidence to also resist accepting Islam.

“The Yusufiya men who were armed on that Tuesday afternoon were not comfortable with the pastors and they took one of them to the sect leader in his inner chamber. They came out later to the courtyard within the compound and cut their heads one after the other and thereafter, shouted allah akbar in wild celebration accompanied with several gun shots,” the eye witness disclosed.

He said the hostages numbering about 50 within the area of the execution of the pastors and another fair complexioned man which he could not identify, were gripped with fear as non could foretell the outcome of their stay at the enclave of the fundamentalists. He was however lucky to escape as he was freed in the night with others with a warning not to mix with kafrici (infidels).

Corroborating the account of the killing, a Senior pastor with Good News Church, Wulari Maiduguri Rev. Baba Gata Ibrahim told Daily Sun in an interview that a pastor in his church, Pastor George Orjih was beheaded on the instruction of the Boko Haram leader because the clergy man refused to accept Islam.

“An eye witness who was also captured by the Islamic militants gave us details of how the pastor was killed. He told us they were persuading him to accept Islam and he said over his dead body. He was even said to have preached Christ to Mohammed Yusuf and that reportedly angered the sect leader who then as he ordered that the pastor and others be killed immediately,” he disclosed.

The late Pastor George Orjih was said to have arrived Maiduguri last week from Jos where he was doing his Masters programme in Theology. Described as a fearless, hardworking, and intellectually sound, his care for the welfare and well being of his family allegedly contributed to his capture and eventual death.

“He was mindful of his family and their welfare. He was really out of the house but thought to go back again. That was how he was captured by the Boko Haram before he was killed. It was the very week, in fact the following day he returned from school where he was doing his Masters in Theology that he was arrested,” the senior pastor added.

He urged the government to provide adequate security for Christian in the state.

Also delivering a sermon during the funeral rites for late Rev. Sabo Yakubu, slain COCIN Church pastor, the speaker, Rev Bulus Azi urged Christians to emulate the pastors who were killed because of their refusal to betray their faith. Quoting from the bible in Revelation 7: 9-15, the regional chairman of the church told Christians to prepare to die anytime as their calling demand.

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August 1, 2009

9 Shot & many burned in Gojra, Pakistan

(PCP) It was an other day of mourning for Christians when Muslim mob attacked at Christian Town and gunned down 9 Christian women, children and men and burnt down 50 homes in Gojra. The first was identified as Inyat Masih among dead and fleeing Christian of Gojra are hiding to save life to identify other dead Christians.

The march of Muslims started from Railway Station Gojra at 12:00 noon today was attended by thousands of local and from near by villages marched towards Christian Town. The Christian Town Gojra is residence of two thousand Christian families who settled here over fifty years.

When Muslim marchers approached Christian Town, some two hundred Muslims hiding their faces with traditional Islamic scarf opened fire on Christian houses.

The Christian fled from home but who trapped were executed by face covered Muslims with automatic firearms. The Muslim attacker looted 100 homes and set on fire more than fifty Christian houses.

These Militants used a particular type of chemical which is hard to extinguish to burn Christian homes This chemical was used first in the village of “Shanti Nagar” which was set on fire in February 1997. Later this chemical was used in “Sangla Hill Town” and recently used to burn 60 homes of village Korian on night of July 30, 2009.

Sunny Gill based in Karachi told PCP that he called his relatives in Gojra on their Cell Phone after watching news of attack on a local TV channel and they were crying and telling “they have burnt whole colony and they have no shelter to stay in Gojra now” They are very far from Karachi and do not have money to reach to him in Karachi. There are hundreds of Christians stranded and in hiding in Gojra and near by villages.

According to information of PCP, received by calls and e-Mails by relatives of Christians of Gojra, 4 women, one child and 4 men are dead due to gun shots and many have burn injuries.

According to news agencies, four women and one child were burnt alive by Muslims and burnt dead were received by federal Minority Ministry.

Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC have condemned statement issued by a minister in Punjab government that “ Muslim marcher were peaceful and some one shot fire on rally to ignite anger among them”

Dr. Nazir S Bhatti expressed concern on media reports which reported attackers to be Sunni Muslims because Christians had always cordial relation with Sunni Sect of Muslims in Pakistan. Such reporting can flare up riots which Christians are not bear to afford because Christian do not guns to protect them.

“PCC demands Punjab government to adopt strict security measure to main law and order to ensure safety of life and property of Christians.

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July 12, 2009

Car Bomb Kills 4 Outside Church in Iraq

BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded near a church as worshippers left Sunday Mass, killing at least four civilians and injuring 18 in one of several attacks on Iraq’s beleaguered Christian minority.

The coordinated assault came as the Iraqi military predicted that insurgent attacks, though declining, could continue for a few years, raising the prospect of militant violence after the scheduled withdrawal of all U.S. troops by the end of 2011.

Three Christians and one Muslim died in the bombing at around 7 p.m. near a church on Palestine Street in eastern Baghdad, said a police officer who was at the scene. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

An official at al-Kindi hospital confirmed the death toll and said at least 18 people were injured.

Also Sunday, a bomb exploded near a convoy of American personnel that included U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill, though no one was injured.

State Department spokeswoman Joanne Moore said the bomb exploded as the convoy was traveling through Dhi Qar province in southern Iraq.

Violence is sharply down in the war that began with the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, but militants still carry out lethal attacks on a regular basis, some seemingly aimed at fomenting sectarian tension. The U.S. military completed a withdrawal of combat forces from Iraqi cities to outlying bases last month as part of a plan to let Iraq take the lead on ensuring its own security.

Gen. Babaker B. Shawkat Zebari, the Iraqi army chief of staff, said insurgents once held sway in cities and provinces, but had been whittled down to a few highly dangerous cells that he expected would continue attacks for “a year or two or three.” He said the Iraqi military would get help from American forces if needed, but would also rely on assistance from its own citizens.

“To face terrorism, the Iraqi army does not need tanks or armored vehicles, but needs intelligence, fast communication and people’s support,” he said “The government has to coordinate with the population to get information about the terrorist cells.”

The army chief spoke after meeting Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, in the holy Shiite city of Najaf, south of Baghdad. Al-Sistani enjoys massive support among Iraq’s majority Shiites, and the Iraqi military sees the backing of religious leaders as vital to its legitimacy and success.

While violence has diminished since 2007, insurgents exact a steady toll with bombs and targeted killings that would amount to a crisis in most other countries.

In the northern city of Kirkuk, gunmen with silencers in a car waited outside the house of Aziz Rizqo Nisan, head of the provincial audit department, and shot him as he drove to work on Sunday morning. His death was confirmed by local police and the national government’s media office in Baghdad.

The motive for the killing of Nisan, a Christian, was unclear. Insurgents commonly target Iraqi government officials and security forces. Ethnic and sectarian tension is high in Kirkuk, a disputed city that Kurds want to annex into their northern region despite Arab opposition.

South of Baghdad, a member of a Sunni militia that is overseen by the Shiite-led government, was found dead with gunshot wounds in his chest in Jurf al-Sakhar town, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The militia, known as the Awakening Councils, includes many former insurgents who joined forces with the Americans and promised to fight al-Qaida in Iraq. The movement was considered a key factor in a drop in violence over the past two years, and has complained about missed payments and crackdowns on its leaders since the Iraqi government took control late last year.

Iraq’s Christians have often been attacked by Islamic extremists, and many have fled the country.

Two bombs that were planted in a church in western Baghdad exploded at midnight Saturday, causing some damage but no injuries. Then three bombs exploded near other Baghdad churches at around 4:30 p.m., injuring eight civilians, police said. The fatal bombing followed two and a half hours later.

“The terrorists are determined to hamper the political process in Iraq and not let Iraqis live in peace even after the withdrawal of foreign forces from the cities,” said Younadem Kana, a Christian lawmaker. “We demand that the Iraqi government take all necessary measures to protect Christians in Baghdad, and in all of Iraq.”

Also Sunday evening, a roadside bomb blew up near a police patrol in Baghdad, killing one civilian and injuring four others, police and hospital officials said.

Half a dozen lawmakers demanded that a general census planned later this year be postponed until after parliamentary elections in January. They argued that the upheaval of war had caused radical change in the ethnic and sectarian makeup of many areas and the results could ignite fresh tension.

Lawmaker Osama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni Arab from the northern city of Mosul, noted that large numbers of Kurds had moved into the oil-rich Kirkuk area amid Arab concerns that they seek to take control. In Baghdad, sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Arabs altered the face of neighborhoods as people fled their homes or quit the city altogether.

“The form for the census has an item about the ethnicity of the person, and that would lead to shocking results,” al-Nujaifi said at a news conference.

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July 1, 2009

Islam-wary Swiss may ban minarets

http://tvnz.co.nz/world-news/islam-wary-swiss-may-ban-minarets-2822222

Switzerland will hold a referendum on banning the construction of new minarets on November 29 in response to a petition for a popular vote on the issue, the government said.
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A group of politicians from the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) and Federal Democratic Union gathered enough signatures last year to force the referendum, but the government opposes a ban.
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Switzerland is home to more than 300,000 Muslims – about four percent of the population – as well as hundreds of mosques, but only a handful of the mosques have a minaret tower and applications to build more prompted the campaign for a ban.
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Supporters of a ban say minarets do not have any religious justification but are symbols of Islamic power which injures Swiss constitutional rights to religious freedom.
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The right-wing SVP, the country’s biggest party which won 29% of the vote in the last election, has drawn accusations of racism for its anti-immigration campaigns, including one featuring white sheep kicking a black sheep off a Swiss flag.
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The government said last year it was against a ban, saying it would violate international human rights and the country’s constitution and might incite tensions between religions and hinder integration of the Muslim population.

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June 23, 2009

Muslim burka “not welcome” in France: Sarkozy

Al Arabiya News Channel

French president: “The burka is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience”

President says burka undermines French secularism and women’s rights

The burka, or face covering some Muslim women wear, is “not welcome” in France because it is not a symbol of religion but a sign of subservience for women, President Nicolas Sarkozy said Monday.

“We cannot accept to have in our country women who are prisoners behind netting, cut off from all social life, deprived of identity,” he said. “That is not the idea that the French republic has of women’s dignity.”

“The burka is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience,” he told lawmakers. “It will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic.”

Sarkozy told a special session of parliament he was in favor of holding the inquiry sought by some French lawmakers into whether Muslim women who cover themselves fully in public undermine French secularism and women’s rights.

But the president added “we must not fight the wrong battle, in the republic the Muslim religion must be respected as much as other religions” in France, which has Europe’s biggest Muslim population estimated at several million.

The proposal to hold an inquiry has won support from many politicians from both the left and right, but France’s official Muslim council accused lawmakers of wasting time focusing on a fringe phenomenon.

In 2008, the Netherlands banned the burka from universities, not only for students but also mothers and anyone else entering the grounds.

Education Minister Ronald Plasterk announced in parliament that the planned ban, initially intended to apply only to the compulsory schooling system, would now also extend to tertiary education institutions.

Visit: www.copts.co.uk

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June 10, 2009

Two policemen convicted of killing a Christian in Giza, Egypt have received only a five-year prison sentence

ISTANBUL (Compass Direct News) — Two policemen convicted of killing a Christian in Giza, Egypt have received only a five-year prison sentence for what lawyers are calling the cold-blooded murder of a Copt who stood up for his rights.

The Giza Criminal Court sentenced the two policemen for manslaughter on May 25 for the 2007 death of Nasser Gadallah, 39. Police say he jumped out of a window in an effort to escape, but family members who were eyewitnesses said the officers beat Gadallah and pushed him out the window in intentional murder because he was a Christian who had filed a complaint against police.

The court, however, determined Gadallah died from the officers beating him, and that they did not intend to kill him.

“The court did not punish them [more severely], because from its point of view the officers didn’t kill him,” said family lawyer Nadia Tawfeeq. “They just beat him, and when they beat him he died.”

Gadallah, a plumber, was walking home from work on Aug. 3, 2007 when a police officer, Amir Sobhi, stopped him and took all the money on him, 280 Egyptian Pounds (US$50), and his mobile phone. Recognizing Sobhi because he had previously harassed him, Gadallah filed a police report against him citing the most recent and previous extortion incidents. Sobhi was suspended from duty for four days while police investigated the report.

A source said Gadallah’s wife told him not to file the complaint, saying they did not have power and would be unable to defend themselves. In Egypt, police corruption is rampant, according to local sources.

“But it is a known fact that Copts are definitely picked on more, because they are Christian,” said a source. “They are peaceful people and simply don’t know how to ask for their rights.”

After midnight, in the wee hours of Aug. 7, 2007, two cars full of police officers, along with Police Investigations Officer Ahmed Alnawawy, arrived at Gadallah’s home but found the gate of the family apartment complex locked. The five policemen broke into the neighbor’s home and beat him before they jumped over a wall into the Gadallah home complex.

After beating Gadallah’s brothers and father, the officers broke into his third-floor apartment and beat him, and two of them threw him out a window onto the street as his wife and children looked on, according to Tawfeeq.

“In their minds, he shouldn’t have complained because he was a Copt,” said Tawfeeq.

According to Gadallah’s widow, Mariam Gadallah, who saw the officers beating her husband, one of the officers said to him, “You are Coptic. You have no value.”

“The judge didn’t believe her,” said Tawfeeq of the widow’s testimony. “You know the man is a Christian, so they did not consider it murder.”

Tawfeeq confirmed that the court gave the two policemen who threw him out the window a lenient sentence because it determined that Gadallah’s cause of death was complications due to beating.

The lawyers said that Alnawawy gave the order to the officers to kill Gadallah. According to a neighbor’s account, one of the officers ran out of the building to Alnawawy saying: “We killed the guy, we killed the guy,” said Tawfeeq.

Seeing his body on the ground, neighbors attacked one of the police cars, while some of the officers in the other vehicle managed to escape.

Although most facts and witnesses point to direct orders of Alnawawy, the court freed him of complicity, said prosecuting lawyer Naguib Gobraiel.

“There were instructions from Alnawawy,” Gobraiel said. “The police can’t do anything without him.”

Mariam Gadallah, left with three children ages 2 to 8 and no viable source of income, said she was disappointed in the court’s soft sentence and the lack of compensation to the deceased’s family.

With irritation in her voice, she said, “I think the sentence is very lenient.”

Lawyers applied for an appeal to the federal attorney general last week calling for a re-classification of the killing as “willful, premeditated, and deliberate.” Gobraiel said they also plan to also file a lawsuit against the internal minister for allowing five officers to leave their post at the police station during work hours to attack Gadallah in his home.

“I see this decision as very weak and not suitable for this crime,” Gobraiel said. “This crime is a killing, not a beating.”

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May 12, 2009

Islam’s Day in Hawaii

AP:  HONOLULU – Hawaii’s state Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bill to celebrate “Islam Day,” despite the objections of a few lawmakers who said they didn’t think the state should honor a religion connected to Sept. 11, 2001.
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The resolution to proclaim Sept. 24, 2009, as Islam Day passed the Senate on a 22-3 vote Wednesday. The bill was previously passed by Hawaii’s House of Representatives.

The bill recognizes what it calls “the rich religious, scientific, cultural and artistic contributions” that Islam and the Islamic world have made.

But the Senate’s two Republicans argued that radical Islamists cheered the 2001 attacks. They also noted that other religions didn’t have a special day honored.

The lone Democrat voting in dissent opposed it on church-state separation grounds.

http://www.onenewsnow.com/Politics/Default.aspx?id=520304

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April 22, 2009

Obama advisor draws cautious optimism

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-obama-advisor22-2009apr22,0,1997286.story

Dalia Mogahed, a veiled Egyptian American, will advise President Obama on prejudices and problems faced by Muslims. Many Arabs hope it’s a step toward reversing stereotyping.

By Noha El-Hennawy
April 22, 2009

Reporting from Cairo — Egyptians are cautiously rejoicing over the recent appointment of a veiled Egyptian American Muslim woman as an advisor to President Obama.

Dalia Mogahed, senior analyst and executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, was appointed this month to Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

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April 16, 2009

Islamists Fight Yemen Law Banning Child Marriage

SAN’A, Yemen

She was 2 years old when her father promised her in marriage to a man in his 30s. It was a swap, so the father could marry the man’s sister without paying the obligatory bride-price.

At age 9, the girl was put on a sack of rice to appear taller next to the bridegroom in the wedding picture. At 11, she was taken to her husband’s house to live. Despite promising not to consummate the marriage before she reached puberty, he tied her to a bed, stuffed a rag in her mouth and raped her, she says.

“One day he tied me up and attacked me,” the girl, who is now 13 and has fled her husband, told The Associated Press on Wednesday, choking with tears during an interview at an orphanage that has given her shelter. Her name and her husband’s aren’t being used to protect her identity.

Child marriages are widespread in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, where tribal customs dominate society. More than a quarter of its females marry before age 15, according to a recent report by the Social Affairs Ministry.

The issue of child brides vaulted into the headlines here two years ago when an 8-year-old boldly went by herself to a courtroom and demanded a judge dissolve her marriage to a man in his 30s. She eventually won a divorce, and legislators began looking at ways to curb the practice.

In February, parliament passed a law setting the minimum marriage age at 17. But some lawmakers are trying to kill the measure, calling it un-Islamic. Before it could be ratified by Yemen’s president, they forced it to be sent back to parliament’s constitutional committee for review.

Child marriage is an issue elsewhere. In neighboring, more affluent Saudi Arabia, several cases of child brides have been reported in the past year, though the phenomenon is not believed to be nearly as widespread as in Yemen.

The U.S. on Wednesday sharply criticized the practice after a ruling by a Saudi judge upheld the marriage of a girl whose father gave her at age 8 to a man in his late 40s. The girl’s mother has sought a divorce for her daughter.

“Child marriage is a clear and unacceptable violation of human rights in our view. U.S. officials at all levels frequently raise with the Saudi government our human rights concerns, especially those dealing with children and marriages,” State Department spokesman Robert Wood said.

Saudi Arabia sets no minimum age for marriage. But the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan this week quoted the kingdom’s new justice minister, Mohammed al-Issa, as saying the government is doing a comprehensive study on underage marriage that will include regulations. He did not indicate how long the process would take.

In Yemen, poverty is the main reason families marry off young daughters, to get bride-prices up to several hundred dollars. Local traditions encourage the practice out of a belief a young bride can be shaped into an obedient wife, bear more children and be kept away from temptation.

The weak government relies on support from tribal leaders and Islamists so is reluctant to take action on customs they support.

Yemen once set 15 as the minimum marriage age, but parliament eliminated it in the 1990s, saying parents should decide when a daughter marries.

Legislator Sheik Mohammed al-Hazmi, one of the most ardent opponents of a minimum marriage age, says the new law is a “Western plot aimed at Westernizing our culture.”

“The West wants to teach us how to marry, conceive and divorce. This is cultural colonization that we reject,” he told AP.

Al-Hazmi said Islam permits the practice because nothing in the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad bans it. “Everything that is not forbidden is permitted,” he said.

Lawmaker Sheik Shawki al-Qadhi vehemently disagrees. He said that according to Islamic law “a ruler can ban that which is permitted if it is proven to cause harm.”

Regulations short of an outright ban won’t work, he said. “Are we going to post a policeman at every bedroom to ensure husbands don’t consummate marriages before girls reach puberty?”

Al-Qadhi said he is confident the new law will survive review, though some say the age could be lowered to 15.

The girl who spoke with the AP is now living at the Alrahma Foundation for Human Development, an orphanage in the capital, San’a.

She first came to the orphanage when her father died, when she was 11. She had not yet moved in with her husband, because the agreement had been that she would do so at puberty.

But she said her brother showed up at the orphanage and persuaded her to go with him, telling her they would seek a court annulment of the marriage. Instead, he took her to her husband’s house in the southern town of Thammar for a bribe of about $200, the girl said. About nine months later, the husband forced her into sex, she said.

She got a chance to break away when she developed stomach and vocal cord problems last year and her husband sent her to San’a for treatment. She escaped from the house where she was staying and fled to the orphanage 10 months ago.

Today, at 13, she is learning to read and write and beginning to think about the future.

“I want to become a businesswoman,” she said, two tiny dimples lighting up her thin face

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April 11, 2009

Target: Egypt’s Coptic Church issues conversion certificate to convert from Islam

CAIRO (AFP) — Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church has for the first time issued a certificate of conversion to a Muslim-born Christian, his lawyer said, in a country where religious conversion is highly sensitive.

Maher al-Gohari, who is seeking to change his religion on his official documents from Muslim to Christian was asked by a court to provide a conversion certificate from the Egyptian church.

“He handed it in today,” Nabil Gabriel told AFP. “It is the first time the church provides this sort of certificate.”

In Egypt, citizens are required to carry their personal ID cards at all times. Without an ID card, one has no access to basic services.

It is only the second time that such a request has been formally made in a country where converting to Christianity, while not illegal, is practically impossible.

Last year, a court rejected a request by a Christian convert from Islam, Mohammed Higazi, to have his new religion written on his identity card.

Highlighting the sensitivity of the topic, the church would not comment on Gohari’s case specifically….

Not surprising. More lives could be at risk than just Gohari’s.

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March 17, 2009

Revised Islamic History Books at Saudi Academy Face Criticism

The Islamic Saudi Academy developed new Islamic studies textbooks for all grades after a 2008 congressional report called portions of the previous editions troubling.

FOXNews.com

An Islamic school in Northern Virginia has revised its religious textbooks in an apparently unsuccessful move aimed at ending longtime accusations that the school promotes hatred and intolerance.

The Islamic Saudi Academy, which teaches nearly 900 students in grades K-12 at its campus outside Washington, D.C., developed new Islamic studies textbooks for all grades after a 2008 congressional report called portions of the previous editions troubling.

The school deleted from its texts some of the most contentious passages, including references to Jihad, killing infidels and hatred of Jews and Christians.

But critics say the books are still “toxic” and contain more subtle references, such as criticism of secular forms of government.

Ali Al-Ahmed, director of the Gulf Institute, which has been pressing the school to make revision since 2004, told FOX News that the textbooks characterize secular governments as “committing unbelief and allowing us to wage war against them.”

“So you’re teaching American students — implanting the seeds of insurgency in these people — and this is very dangerous,” Al-Ahmed said.

He added that the textbooks teach girls that they should not aspire to be judges or political leaders and when a girl gets married, she must ask her husband if she wants to leave the house.

The school has stood by its latest revision.

“We know our students’ needs,” school director Abdul Rahma said. “We believe these books match their needs.”

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom says it wants to look at the books but the Saudi government, which funds the academy, won’t give the panel a copy.

“We can’t figure out what the Saudi government has to hide and why they continually keep these secrets,” said Felice Gaer, chairwoman of the commission.

Gaer’s panel released a 2008 report commissioned by the U.S. Congress which stated the school’s earlier textbooks contained several troubling passages, including one that claims it is permissible for Muslims to kill adulterers and converts from Islam, and another that claims “the Jews conspired against Islam and its people.”

Gaer said the State Department should translate the textbooks and determine whether they encourage violence, which would be against the law.

The school has come under fire before.

Founded in 1984, it drew national attention after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which turned the focus onto the Saudi educational system after 15 of the 19 hijackers were of Saudi origin.

In December 2001, former ISA students Mohammed El-Yacoubi and Mohammed Osman Idris were denied entry into Israel when authorities there found El-Yacoubi carrying what the FBI believed was a suicide note linked to a planned martyrdom operation in Israel.

In 2005, a former ISA valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, was convicted in federal court of joining Al Qaeda while attending college in Saudi Arabia and plotting to assassinate President George W. Bush.

Last year, the school’s then-director Abdalla al-Shabnan was convicted of failing to report a suspected case of child sex abuse.

The school had hired two outside academics with backgrounds in Middle East studies to review the textbooks. The two, Eleanor Doumato, a visiting fellow in international studies at Brown University, and Gregory Starrett, an anthropology professor at UNC-Charlotte, reported back favorably.

“These books do not contain inflammatory material, nor do they encourage students to exhibit intolerance or violence toward others,” the two wrote in a letter to the academy.

But Al-Ahmed said the Gulf Institute is putting together a detailed report on these textbooks that he says will show that the school “has been deceiving’ the American people on its real intention.

FOX News’ Molly Henneberg and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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February 8, 2009

Ottawa radio host chastised for making “abusive and discriminatory,” but true, statements about Islam and Muslims

Green: He posed a question

The Qur’an likens a woman to a field (tilth), to be used by a man as he wills: “Your women are a tilth for you (to cultivate) so go to your tilth as ye will” (2:223).

The Qur’an also declares that a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man: “Get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as ye choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her” (2:282).

It allows men to marry up to four wives, and have sex with slave girls also: “If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice” (4:3).

It rules that a son’s inheritance should be twice the size of that of a daughter: “Allah (thus) directs you as regards your children’s (inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females” (4:11).

Worst of all, the Qur’an tells husbands to beat their disobedient wives: “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them” (4:34).

It allows for marriage to pre-pubescent girls, stipulating that Islamic divorce procedures “shall apply to those who have not yet menstruated” (65:4).

Nor is that all. There are ahadith in which Muhammad says that hell is filled with many more women than men, there are Islamic legal justifications for child marriage, stoning for adultery, honor killing, and female genital mutilation, and there is abundant evidence that these views of women have created hardened cultural attitudes across the Islamic world that institutionalize misery for women and discrimination against them.

All that is fine, however, with our cultural and political elites — but woe betide the non-Muslim, like Lowell Green, who dares to make reference to it.

Free Speech Death Watch Update: “Ottawa radio station chastised for comments on Muslims,” by Chris Cobb for the Ottawa Citizen, February 6 (thanks to the indomitable and magnificent Kathy Shaidle, who asks, “Dear me: how all this ‘words can rape, maim and leave you for dead in a ditch!!’ alchemy operates is an awful big mystery to poor stupid right-winger me… “):

OTTAWA — A veteran open-line radio host in Ottawa contravened Canadian broadcasting standards when he made “abusive and discriminatory” remarks against Muslims, the national broadcast watchdog ruled Friday.

According to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, Lowell Green launched an “uninformed and unfair” attack when he told his CFRA audience in early December that the majority of Muslims are fanatics, and extremist behavior is symptomatic of the religion, not just a radical minority.

“Uninformed,” yes. Those who notice Islamic jihad and the Islamic justifications made for it by its Muslim perpetrators are always “uninformed.” Those who turn a blind eye to it all are the ones who are “informed.”

Green had been inspired by the story of British schoolteacher Gillian Gibbons, whose elementary class in the Sudanese capital Khartoum named a teddy bear “Muhammad,” causing a storm of outrage across the Muslim world.

Gibbons was forced to leave the country after being threatened with imprisonment and death.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, apparently.

Green posed the question to listeners: “Is there something inherent in the Muslim faith that promotes violence and oppression of women?”

He posed a question! Horror of horrors!

In response to one Muslim caller who tried to defend Islam, Green responded: “Baloney,” and during another call, told a sympathetic, but apparently non-Muslim, caller that she had “abandoned common sense” and was being “silly.”

“Almost every act of terrorism around the world today is carried out in the name of Islam,” responded Green. “Don’t tell me this is the work of a few fanatics.”

A position that can be abundantly supported by mountains of evidence.

The broadcast watchdog, an arm’s-length organization created and funded by private broadcasters to rule on listener and viewer complaints, was especially critical of Green for refusing to listen to pro-Islam callers, especially those who were clearly informed about the religion.

“The host has mounted a sweeping, abusive and unduly discriminatory criticism of Islam,” it said.

Worse, said the CBSC report, was the manner in which the broadcaster dismissed those who disagreed with him.

“Green did not merely disagree with opposing points of view,” it said. “He mocked, ridiculed and insulted their interlocutors.”

Well, then, he must be silenced!

Under CBSC rules, stations violating rules must broadcast the decision, but there is no other punishment.

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January 14, 2009

Senior Saudi Cleric OKs 10-Year-Old Girls for Marriage

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia  —Â

A pan-Arab newspaper quotes Saudi Arabia’s most senior Muslim cleric as saying it is OK for 10-year-old girls to marry.

The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper also quotes Sheik Abdul-Aziz bin Baz, the country’s grand mufti, as saying that those who believe women should not marry before the age of 25 are following a “bad path.”

His comments during a lecture Monday come as Saudi human rights groups are fighting to put an end to marriages involving the very young. The groups are pressing the government to define the minimum age for marriage.

On Sunday, the government-run National Human Rights Commission condemned marriages of minor girls, saying such marriages are an “inhumane violation.”

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January 2, 2009

9 Muslim passengers kicked off flight after remark

AFP/Getty Images/File – A photograph showing an AirTran plan. Nine Muslims, including three children, were ordered off an AirTran …

WASHINGTON – Nine Muslim passengers were kicked off a flight from Washington, D.C., to Florida after other passengers reported hearing a suspicious remark about airplane security.

AirTran Airways spokesman Tad Hutcheson called the incident on the New Year’s Day flight from Reagan National Airport to Orlando, Fla., a misunderstanding, but defended the company’s response. He said the airline followed federal rules and did nothing wrong.

One of the Muslim passengers, Kashif Irfan, told The Washington Post the confusion began when his brother was talking about the safest place to sit on an airplane.

“My brother and his wife were discussing some aspect of airport security,” Irfan said. “The only thing my brother said was, ‘Wow, the jets are right next to my window.'”

Irfan told the newspaper he thought he and the others were profiled because of their appearance. The men had beards and the women wore headscarves, traditional Muslim attire.

Irfan, 34, is an anesthesiologist and his brother is a lawyer. Both live in Alexandria, Va., with their families, and were born in Detroit. They were traveling with their wives, Irfan’s sister-in-law and Irfan’s three sons, ages 7, 4 and 2. A family friend also was traveling with the group to a religious retreat in Florida.

Federal officials ordered the rest of the passengers from the plane and re-screened them before allowing the flight to depart.

The family was upset that AirTran didn’t allow the Muslim passengers to book another flight. They eventually made it to their destination on a US Airways flight.

“The FBI agents actually cleared our names,” Inayet Sahin, one of the family members kicked off the flight, told CNN. “They went on our behalf and spoke to the airlines and said, ‘There is no suspicious activity here. They are clear. Please let them get on a flight so they can go on their vacation,’ and they still refused.”

Hutcheson said the passengers were given a full refund and are welcome to fly on AirTran now that the investigation is complete.

Hutcheson and a federal Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman said the pilot was right to postpone the flight.

“At the end of the day, people got on and made comments they shouldn’t have made on the airplane, and other people heard them,” Hutcheson said. “Other people heard them, misconstrued them. It just so happened these people were of Muslim faith and appearance. It escalated, it got out of hand and everyone took precautions.”

One of the passengers removed, Abdur Razack Aziz, said he will consider a lawsuit.




2008 News

December 16, 2008

Pres-elect to use full name Barack Hussein Obama at inauguration

Obama to Resurrect Middle Name for Inauguration Day

This is a rush transcript from “Hannity & Colmes,” December 15, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: The middle name that was all but banned on the campaign trail will make a return appearance on inauguration day. On January 20 the president-elect has decided to be sworn in as Barack Hussein Obama.

Mr. Obama said of his decision, quote, “I think the tradition is that they use all three names, and I will follow the tradition, not trying to make a statement one way or the other.”

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,467607,00.html

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November 26, 2008

Over 100 Killed in Coordinated Terror Attacks

Some 200 Wounded, Westerners Taken Hostage as Gunmen Attack Mumbai, India
By RUSSELL GOLDMAN

Gunmen have killed at least 101 people, wounded 287 and are holding several Westerners hostage after a series of coordinated terrorist attacks Wednesday night against luxury hotels, tourist destinations and a train station in the Indian financial capital of Mumbai, Indian officials said.

Police battled the gunmen for hours after the first attacks began, A.N. Roy, a senior police officer, said.

“The terrorists have used automatic weapons and, in some places, grenades have been lobbed. The encounters are still going on and we are trying to overpower them,” Roy told the Associated Press.

Hours after the attacks began large flames and plumes of smoke were seen billowing from the Taj Mahal Hotel, one of the primary targets of their attacks and a local landmark built in 1903. There was no official word about how many people remained in the hotel. At the outset of the attacks, visitors were told to remain in their rooms and lock their doors.

As fighting continued into the early hours Thursday morning, officials said police had killed four suspects and arrested nine more.

Pradeep Indulkar, a senior official at the Maharashtra state Home Ministry said 101 people were killed and 287 injured.The toll of dead and wounded had risen steadily since the attacks began. A little known group Deccan Mujahadeen sent messages to media outlets, Wednesday, claiming responsibility for the attacks. Mumbai has been the scene of previous terror attacks, often blamed on Muslim militants, including a series of blasts in July 2007 that killed 187 people.

Armed with AK-47 rifles and grenades, terrorists attacked Taj Mahal Palace and Oberoi hotels as well as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station in southern Mumbai and Leopold’s restaurant, a Mumbai landmark.

“Me and my friend escaped down the fire exit, but I think they took some more people upstairs. They were trying to get to the roof. About 15 people, I think about half were foreigners. Two gunmen, young boys, maybe 20 to 25 years old. There was a lot of smoke, they came from the restaurant and they took us up the stairs,” witness Rakesh Patel told NDTV.

“They had bombs, there was something, there was a lot of smoke, I guess there were bombs of some sort, yeah. They wanted anyone with British or American passports. Say anyone who had an American or British passports, they wanted to know, so I guess they were after foreigners, yeah, I guess,” he said.

It was not clear at which hotel Patel was located, but local officials have confirmed foreign hostages were taken at both the Taj Mahal Palace and Oberoi hotels.

Officials also confirmed that India’s anti-terror chief Hemant Karkare was killed in a shooting with gunmen.

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November 20, 2008

Zawahiri message to President-elect Obama.

Al Qaeda’s Message: We Will Not Stop Waging Global War With Obama in the White House

By Walid Phares

While observers waited for the release of the “official” Al Qaeda position on the election of Barack Obama as the next President of the United States, seasoned experts on the Jihadist movement had little doubt about the substance of the main message. As I have outlined in my appearances on Arabic television channels since November 4, Usama bin Laden or his second in command, was expected to declare that their “Jihad” will continue despite the election of an African-American president and despite Obama’s intention to withdraw from Iraq.  Ayman al-Zawahiri lived up to expectations on Wednesday in his latest message to his supporters and his enemies. His message? Even if the war ends in Iraq, the global war will continue everywhere.
Ayman al-Zawahiri/AP

The tape was expected to appear a couple weeks after the election because that’s how the terror group does things. First, Al Qaeda monitors the reaction from of the international community, both from the Arab and Muslim world and also from other Islamist authorities. The Bin Laden-Zawahiri style is to give the “last word,” like a Caliph would. The points raised in the tape were almost all predicted by experts familiar with the Jihadi-combat mind set: Although a new president was elected –- one who would reverse some of Bush’s policies, the new president will also devise new strategies to defeat Al Qaeda.

Zawahiri isn’t buying the version proposed by other anti-American critics of Washington’s War on Terror. Most of Europe’s left, the Arab authoritarian regimes, and the Islamist fundamentalist establishment have all welcomed the news of an Obama victory and are tailoring new proposals for the region’s future (of course to their advantage). But not Al Qaeda. That’s why this Zawahiri message is important. It is telling the world and allies that there will be no respite in the conflict.

Al Qaeda’s number two had to address the election of a black president of the United States because of the two massive changes this choice has brought to the Jihadist agenda:  On the one hand, public opinion of Obama is very high internationally; on the other hand the president-elect is planning to withdraw  from Iraq and forge ahead in Afghanistan.  All this changes Al Qaeda’s game. Zawahiri’s tape had to address these “challenges” as pressure was mounting among Jihadists to deal with this election. Hence, the main points presented by the audio message are as follows:

  1. The election of Obama is a Defeat to the United States in Iraq and a Victory to the Jihadists

In his tape Zawahiri congratulates the Muslim world:

On the American people’s admission of defeat in Iraq. Although the evidence of America’s defeat in Iraq appeared years ago, Bush and his administration continued to be stubborn and deny the brilliant midday sun. If Bush has achieved anything, it is in his transfer of America’s disaster and predicament to his successor. But the American people, by electing Obama, declared its anxiety and apprehension about the future towards which the policy of the likes of Bush is leading it, and so it decided to support someone calling for withdrawal from Iraq.

In Al Qaeda’s lexicon it is crucial to demonstrate to their supporters that it is “their” actions (terror in Iraq) which convinced, if not intimidated, American voters into voting for Obama and against McCain. Zawahiri wants Al Qaeda to get credit for the behavior of America’s voting majority in the same way it took credit for the Madrid elections after the March 11, 2004 attacks.

  1. A Warning to Obama:  Don’t Send Additional Troops to Afghanistan

Zawahiri then sends a warning to President-elect Obama:

The second of these messages is to the new president of the United States. I tell him: you have reached the position of president, and a heavy legacy of failure and crimes awaits you. A failure in Iraq to which you have admitted, and a failure in Afghanistan to which the commanders of your army have admitted. The other thing to which I want to bring your attention is that what you’ve announced about how you’re going to reach an understanding with Iran and pull your troops out of Iraq to send them to Afghanistan is a policy which was destined for failure before it was born. It appears that you don’t know anything about the Muslim Ummah and its history, and the fate of the traitors who cooperated with the invaders against it, and don’t know anything about the history of Afghanistan and its free and defiant Muslim people. And if you still want to be stubborn about America’s failure in Afghanistan, then remember the fate of Bush and Pervez Musharraf, and the fate of the Soviets and British before them. And be aware that the dogs of Afghanistan have found the flesh of your soldiers to be delicious, so send thousands after thousands to them.

If victory has been achieved by the jihadists against the United States in Iraq by forcing the new administration to pull out of that country, in Zawahiri’s mind, another defeat awaits America in Afghanistan according to Al Qaeda’s latest message. The logic of endless Jihad seems to be that wherever American forces would be sent, the jihadists will meet them for a fight until the US redeploys its contingents from around the world, back to “its borders” as previous Al Qaeda messages have underlined.

  1. The Same U.S. Aggression Remains

Concerned about the sympathy emerging from around the world and within the Muslim community regarding the new president, Zawahiri reminds his Islamist followers that “crimes have been committed and the mentality that produced them is still around.” He doesn’t want to see a shift in pubic opinion towards a “nicer” America. He says:

As for the crimes of America which await you, it appears that you continue to be captive to the same criminal American mentality towards the world and towards the Muslims. The Muslim Ummah received with extreme bitterness your hypocritical statements to and stances towards Israel, which confirmed to the Ummah that you have chosen a stance of hostility to Islam and Muslims.

Clearly, Zawahiri is trying to draw red lines for the acceptance of Obama by the Arab and Muslim world. This audiotape is probably the prelude to a campaign by the jihaidists to minimize Obama’s emergence and classify him as just “another US President, with a different face.”

  1. You’re Not Real

Then Zawahiri begins the Jihadi deconstruction of Obama’s image. He declares:

You represent the direct opposite of honorable black Americans like Malik al-Shabazz, or Malcolm X (may Allah have mercy on him). You were born to a Muslim father, but you chose to stand in the ranks of the enemies of the Muslims, and pray the prayer of the Jews, although you claim to be Christian, in order to climb the rungs of leadership in America. And so you promised to back Israel, and you threatened to strike the tribal regions in Pakistan, and to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, in order for the crimes of the American Crusade in it to continue. And last Monday, your aircraft killed 40 Afghan Muslims at a wedding party in Kandahar. As for Malik al-Shabazz (may Allah have mercy on him), he was born to a black pastor killed by white bigots, but Allah favored him with guidance to Islam, and so he prided himself on his fraternity with the Muslims, and he condemned the crimes of the Crusader West against the weak and oppressed, and he declared his support for peoples resisting American occupation, and he spoke about the worldwide revolution against the Western power structure. That’s why it wasn’t strange that Malik al-Shabazz (may Allah have mercy on him) was killed, while you have climbed the rungs of the presidency to take over the leadership of the greatest criminal force in the history of mankind and the leadership of the most violent Crusade ever against the Muslims. And in you and in Colin Powell, Rice and your likes, the words of Malcolm X (may Allah have mercy on him) concerning “House Negroes” are confirmed.

Zawahiri’s words are strong and are aimed at putting pressure on all those in the region who rushed to announce that Obama will radically change the “regime” in the United States. Al Qaeda number two paints the president-elect as an opportunistic politician who used all three faiths to access power.  By doing this Zawahiri is trying to achieve two goals: maintaining his own flock fully indoctrinated against Washington regardless of the change in the White House; and pressuring the radical clerics in the Wahabi and Muslim Brotherhood circles –- who are welcoming Obama’s victory –- to retreat from such “apostasy.”

  1. The War Must Continue…

Zawahiri’s main message is to call on the jihadists everywhere to resume the war relentlessly and to “strike.” Yes, he argues, there was a victory when America changed direction in Iraq, but the road to full jihadi victory is still long. Read it as follows: The fight over Iraq will continue until the establishment of an Al Qaeda-like Emirate in the Sunni Triangle, which would be then the real victory. The fight will go on in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia and beyond. In short, Al Qaeda’s war against the world won’t stop because of an election in America. Zawahiri said:

You also must appreciate, as you take over the presidency of America during its Crusade against Islam and Muslims, that you are neither facing individuals nor organizations, but are facing a Jihadi awakening and renaissance which is shaking the pillars of the entire Islamic world; and this is the fact which you and your government and country refuse to recognize and pretend not to see. I tell the Muslim Ummah: America, the criminal, trespassing Crusader, continues to be the same as ever, so we must continue to harm it, in order for it to come to its senses, because its criminal, expansionist Crusader project in your lands has only been neutralized by the sacrifices of your sons, the Mujahideen. This, then, is the path, so stick to it. To the Mujahideen. I tell them: may Allah reward you in the best way for your historic heroics, which have ruined America’s plans and rendered its projects ineffective. So be firm and resolute. Your enemy’s stagger has begun, so don’t stop hitting him. I say to my brothers the Mujahideen in Iraq in general and the Islamic State of Iraq in particular, and to its Amir, the towering mountain Abu ‘Umar al-Baghdadi: your enemy has admitted defeat, and the forthcoming stage is expected to be dominated by conspiracies and betrayals in order to cover the American withdrawal, so you must persevere, for victory is in an hour of perseverance. And I tell my brothers in Somalia: rejoice in victory and conquest. America is gathering its wounds in Iraq, and Ethiopia is looking for a way out, and for this reason, the stage of conspiracies and machinations has begun. So hold tightly to the truth for which you have given your lives, and don’t put down your weapons before the Mujahid state of Islam and Tawheed has been set up in Somalia. And I tell all Mujahideen everywhere: Allah has granted you success and honored you by making you the most important cause of that, so be resolute on the path of Jihad until you meet your Lord while He is pleased with you.

As many experts in Jihadism have underlined –- and as I projected in my last three books on “future Jihad” — even if we decide to change course in Iraq or even in Afghanistan, the strategic intentions of the Jihadi Salafists is to engage in confrontation worldwide, including within democracies.

  1. Until You Surrender…

Echoing this assessment of the global jihadi drive, Zawahiri asks the followers of this ideology –not just his membership — to relentlessly fight against what he perceives as the “Grand Crusade.” A stark reminder that the forces, which waged their campaign against the United States beginning in the early 1990s and  peaking on 9/11, then spread their warfare to dozens of countries, aren’t going back to the pre 9/11 model. Once again, Al Qaeda’s number two offers a deal to the “infidel powers”: quit and withdraw from this entire region or face a greater war. It is a chilling statement of the so-called “Jihadi offensive.” It is not just about Iraq: It is about the planet as a whole. He goes on:

And my fifth message is to all the world’s weak and oppressed. I tell them: America has put on a new face, but its heart full of hate, mind drowning in greed, and spirit which spreads evil, murder, repression and despotism continue to be the same as always. And the Mujahideen of Islam, by the grace of Allah, continue to be the spearhead of the resistance against it to restrain it from injustice, aggression and arrogance. As for my final message, it is to the American people. I tell it: you incurred defeat and losses from the foolish actions of Bush and his gang, and at the same time, Shaykh Usama bin Ladin (may Allah preserve him) sent you a message to withdraw from the lands of the Muslims and refrain from stealing their treasures and interfering in their affairs. So choose for yourself whatever you like, and bear the consequences of your choice, and as you judge, you will be judged.

Against all other reactions, both positive and neutral, vis-a-vis Obama’s election, Al Qaeda stands firm in rejecting the new leadership even before the president-elect takes office in January. From a political/psychological perspective the master of Jihadism Usama Bin laden cannot be overshadowed by another international leader, particularly if that emerging figure is president of the “Great Satan.” Zawahiri’s response to the election seems to re-frame the results of the election, an election seen around the world as one of change. To Al Qaeda there is no altering of direction in their struggle and agenda. In their own logic, either Obama will end America’s presence altogether in the greater Middle East, or nothing will really change on the global battlefield.

Conclusion

Once Obama’s victory was solidified, many wondered what Al Qaeda’s response would be.  Many of observers thought that the election of Mr. Obama would wash away the grievances of Al Qaeda and isolate the pockets of violence to a few valleys in Afghanistan. Zawahiri’s answer is a blunt “No.” Obviously, by Al Qaeda’s standards, this is a step forward but it is not enough. Pulling out of Iraq is a victory, something the Jihadists of all persuasions agree on, but more victories are needed to end the war from their perspective. This indicates that the post 9/11 era may well be reversed in the mind of liberal democracies via electoral victories at home. This was the case in Spain, and could also be true in the United States, but in the mind of the Jihadists — it is irreversible. Of all the points raised by Zawahiri on the audiotape, I  believe that the central message is this: Redeploy as you wish and change all the leaders you want, but know that we will continue our global fight against you. This means that the next administration will confront a tremendous challenge and it will have to do so by learning from the past and enhancing its strategies for the future. The landscape of the war with the Jihadists may have changed in the last eight years, it will also be different from what it was during the 1990s. Now, a whole new configuration is ahead of us.

Dr Walid Phares is the Director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the author of “The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad.”

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November 18, 2008

Tampa Mayor Proclaims November 15th, 2008: “CAIR Day”

“By virtue of the authority vested in me as mayor of the city of Tampa, I do hereby proclaim November 15, 2008, as ‘Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Day’ in the city of Tampa, Florida.”

CAIR urges Muslims to define themselves listen

11/17/08 Seán Kinane http://www.wmnf.org/news_stories/6387
WMNF Evening News Monday Listen to this entire show:

Tags: CAIR, Keith Ellison, John Esposito, Muslims, civil rights, religion

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) held its 6th annual banquet Saturday at the Tampa Convention Center. Speakers included Georgetown University professor John Esposito and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in Congress.

Following prayers, about 600 people gathered to hear about the theme American Muslims: Defining Ourselves. Ellison said that during the recent presidential campaign, others groups attempted to define Islam and what it means to be Muslim. Many even tried to define Barack Obama as a Muslim, but the strategy didn’t work, Ellison said.

Ellison detailed some of the challenges that Muslims faced during the campaign, including two Muslim women wearing hijabs being forbidden by the Obama campaign from standing behind the candidate at a Detroit rally.

One way that non-Muslims tried to define Muslims during the campaign was through mass distribution of the DVD Obsession, which characterizes some members of the faith as violent extremists. But a University of South Florida religious studies graduate student, Catherine Lafuente, said propaganda like that won’t influence her. She is not a Muslim and her father died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

John Esposito is a professor of religion, international affairs and Islamic studies at Georgetown University. His most recent book is, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think. Esposito said that a CAIR poll from two years ago pointed out the recent “political mainstreaming” of American Muslims.

Muslim-Americans worry about many of the same things that other Americans do, Esposito said.

Several Tampa Bay elected officials attended Saturday’s banquet, including Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White and his newly elected colleague Kevin Beckner, Hillsborough School Board member Susan Valdes, and Temple Terrace Mayor Joe Affronti, who received a bridge builder award.

A civil rights award was presented to the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, and WMNF received a community service award. Maritza Betancourt is the city of Tampa’s Human Rights Investigator in the Division of Community Affairs. She read a proclamation from Mayor Pam Iorio.

“By virtue of the authority vested in me as mayor of the city of Tampa, I do hereby proclaim November 15, 2008, as ‘Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Day’ in the city of Tampa, Florida.”

Photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

CAIR Florida

Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center

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November 4, 2008

Stoning victim ‘begged for mercy’

A young woman recently stoned to death in Somalia first pleaded for her life, a witness has told the BBC.

“Don’t kill me, don’t kill me,” she said, according to the man who wanted to remain anonymous. A few minutes later, more than 50 men threw stones.

Human rights group Amnesty International says the victim was a 13-year-old girl who had been raped.

Initial reports had said she was a 23-year-old woman who had confessed to adultery before a Sharia court.

The witness says she was forced into a hole, buried up to her neck then pelted with stones until she died in front of more than 1,000 people.

Cameras were banned from the public stoning, but print and radio journalists who were allowed to attend estimated that the woman, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, was 23 years old.

However, Amnesty said it had learned she was 13, and that her father had said she was raped by three men.

People were saying this was not good for Sharia law, this was not good for human rights, this was not good for anything Witness

When the family tried to report the rape, the girl was accused of adultery and detained, Amnesty said.

Convicting a girl of 13 for adultery would be illegal under Islamic law.

A human rights activist in the town told the BBC on condition of anonymity that he had received death threats from the Islamic militia, who accuse him of spreading false information about the incident.

He denies having anything to with Amnesty’s report.

‘Checked by nurses’

Court authorities have said the woman came to them admitting her guilt.

She was asked several times to review her confession but she stressed that she wanted Sharia law and the deserved punishment to apply, they said.

But a witness who spoke to the BBC’s Today programme said she had been crying and had to be forced into a hole before the stoning, reported to have taken place in a football stadium.

“More than 1,000 people arrived there,” he said.

FROM THE TODAY PROGRAMME

Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

“After two hours, the Islamic administration in Kismayo brought the lady to the place and when she came out she said: ‘What do you want from me?'”

“They said: ‘We will do what Allah has instructed us’. She said: ‘I’m not going, I’m not going. Don’t kill me, don’t kill me.’

“A few minutes later more than 50 men tried to stone her.”

The witness said people crowding round to see the execution said it was “awful”.

“People were saying this was not good for Sharia law, this was not good for human rights, this was not good for anything.”

But no-one tried to stop the Islamist officials, who were armed, the witness said. He said one boy was shot in the confusion.

According to Amnesty International, nurses were sent to check during the stoning whether the victim was still alive. They removed her from the ground and declared that she was, before she was replaced so the stoning could continue.

The port of Kismayo was seized in August by a coalition of forces loyal to rebel leader Hassan Turki, and al-Shabab, the country’s main radical Islamist insurgent organisation.

Mr Turki is on the US list of “financers of terrorism”.

It was the first reported execution by stoning in the southern port city since Islamist insurgents captured it.

The BBC had a reporter in the area, but he was shot dead in Kismayo in June.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/africa/7708169.stm

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September 22, 2008

Terrorist attack in Pakistan leaves at least 40 dead

By ASIF SHAHZAD
The Associated Press

FAROOQ NAEEM

The explosion Saturday at the Marriott hotel in Islamabad appeared to be one of the largest terrorist attacks ever in Pakistan, leaving a vast crater 30 feet deep in front of the main building.

The explosion Saturday at the Marriott hotel in Islamabad appeared to be one of the largest terrorist attacks ever in Pakistan, leaving a vast crater 30 feet deep in front of the main building.

SLAMABAD, Pakistan | A massive suicide truck bomb created chaos Saturday at the heavily guarded Marriott hotel in Pakistan’s capital.

At least 42 people were killed in the attack and hundreds were wounded, and officials feared dozens more dead were inside the burning building.

Witnesses and officials said a large truck rammed the high metal gate of the hotel at about 8 p.m., when the hotel’s restaurants would have been packed with diners, including Muslims breaking the Ramadan fast.

The blast appeared to be one of the largest terrorist attacks ever in Pakistan, leaving a vast crater 30 feet deep in front of the main building, where rescuers ferried a stream of bloodied bodies.

The five-story Marriott had been a favorite place for foreigners as well as Pakistani politicians and business people to stay and socialize in Islamabad.

The bombing came just hours after President Asif Ali Zardari made his first address to Parliament and days ahead of the new leader’s meeting with President Bush on Tuesday in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

Though no immediate claim of responsibility was made, Pakistani officials have warned that militancy could heat up following a wave of cross-border strikes on militant bases by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, which had angered public opinion.

IntelCenter, a group that monitors al-Qaida communications, said senior al-Qaida leader Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, who claimed the June Danish Embassy bombing in Islamabad, threatened additional attacks against Western interests in Pakistan in a video timed to the recent anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“This is terrorism, and we have to fight it together as a nation,” Pakistan Interior Ministry spokesman Rehman Malik told reporters at a hospital overflowing with the wounded.

The United States strongly condemned the attack.

“This is a reminder of the threat we all face,” said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House. “The United States will stand with Pakistan’s democratically elected government as they confront this challenge.”

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September 15, 2008

The Iranian Parliament voted in favor of a bill Tuesday that would punish apostasy with the death penalty, a human rights group reported.

http://www.christianpost.com/article/print/20080911/iran-parliament-passes-death-penalty-for-apostasy-bill.htm

Lawmakers approved the bill with 196 votes in favor, seven against, and two abstentions, according to U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide. The draft bill seeks to add several crimes to the list of acts that would result in execution, including “establishing weblogs and sites promoting corruption, prostitution, and apostasy.”

CSW advocacy director Alexa Papadouris commented, “It is deeply worrying to hear that just days after Matin-Azad and Basirat have been charged with apostasy at a court in Shiraz, the Iranian Parliament is debating a bill that could codify the death penalty for someone choosing their own religion.”

Mahmoud Mohammad Matin-Azad, 53, and Arash Ahmad-Ali Basirat, 40, are Christian-converts from Islam who were charged with apostasy last week at the Public and Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, Iran. They are currently awaiting the court’s verdict and have been detained since May 15.

In August, there were five known arrests of Iranian Christians in three cities by authorities, according to the persecution watchdog agency Compass Direct News. Among those arrested was Ramtin Soodmand, who is the son of the last Christian convert to be executed for leaving Islam, on Aug. 21.

Soodmand’s father, Hossein Soodmand, was an Assemblies of God pastor who was executed by the state in 1990 under the false charge of working as an American spy. Since Soodmand’s death, six other Protestant pastors have been assassinated by unknown assailants. The younger Soodmand has been held in Tehran since he voluntarily turned himself in after repeated calls from the Ministry of Information. According to Compass sources, he was only allowed one phone call to his blind mother on Aug. 23, and allowed a “visit” by his wife and two young children where authorities only permitted them to have a two-minute conversation by phone. They never saw each other and his condition remains unknown.

Iran is ranked third in Open Doors’ World Watch List for countries with the worst persecution of Christians. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom also lists Iran as a “Country of Particular Concern,” a label given to countries with the worst religious freedom abuses.

Reportedly, Iran had removed news of the bill’s approval from its Parliament website within hours of publishing it on Tuesday, according to CSW. But reports of the bill’s process in parliament were published by other official Iranian news agencies, including IRINN (Islamic Republic of Iran News Network) and morning papers inside Iran, such as Resalat.

“We call upon the British Government and the European Union to officially respond to this new development and urge the Iranian Government to reject the bill and guarantee the immediate release of all who are detained on the basis of their religious beliefs alone,” Papadouris of Christian Solidarity pleads.

The approved bill will be sent back to the Legislative Commission to debate proposed amendments before it is brought back to the Parliament for another vote.

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September 11, 2008

Colorado meatpacking plant lays off 100 Muslim workers

JBS Swift & Co. fires about one-fourth of 400 workers who had walked off the job, demanding break time to pray during the holy month of Ramadan. The union local says it will fight the action.

By Nicholas Riccardi, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

GREELEY, COLO. — A meatpacking company Wednesday laid off about 100 Muslim immigrant workers who walked off the job last week in protest of the firm’s refusal to give them time to pray during the holy month of Ramadan.

When Ramadan began Sept. 1, workers said supervisors informally gave them time to break their daylong fast at sundown.

But non-Muslim employees protested, and on Friday, JBS Swift & Co. officials refused to give workers break time to pray and eat.

About 400 workers left the company’s meatpacking plant, which dominates this city of 90,000. By Tuesday, 250 had not returned, and Swift warned that those who didn’t come back faced immediate termination.

“This action is a direct violation of our collective bargaining agreement,” Swift said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.

Greeley police were called as angry workers who had arrived for the 3:15 p.m. shift were given their layoff notices.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7, which represents workers at the meatpacking plant, said it would fight the firings.

“The workers weren’t given enough notice to get back to their jobs,” said union spokesman Manny Gonzales. “We don’t feel this was a terminable offense to begin with.”

The Muslim workers, mainly Somali immigrants, have recently flocked to the plant, replacing many of the 262 workers, mostly Latinos, who were detained as illegal immigrants following a federal raid in late 2006. Many of the Muslim employees who walked off their jobs last week had been in Greeley only a few months.

One of them, 35-year-old Iman Ibrahim, left Boston for Greeley this summer because a friend told him about jobs at the meatpacking plant.

Ibrahim said Swift supervisors had shut off water fountains Friday evening to prevent Muslim workers from having their traditional drink to break the fast, and in one case a supervisor grabbed an employee by the neck, yanking him from his prayers.

“If I’d known there was a problem with prayer, I would have never come here,” Ibrahim said.

Nonetheless, he had returned to work by Wednesday and said supervisors were informally giving time for the requisite sundown prayer. “I like working,” he said. “We like to live in this country. We didn’t come to cause trouble.”

Some other Swift workers, however, were angered by the Muslims’ requests for extra prayer time. “Somalis are running our plant,” worker Brianna Castillo told the Greeley Tribune. “They are telling us what to do.”

Non-Muslim workers complained they had to do additional work when Muslims went to pray, which devout followers do five times a day.

Aziz Dhies, a local nurse who represented Somali workers in negotiations with Swift, said he believed workers of all creeds should share in the breaks.

He added that Muslims had no choice in the matter. “This is not something we’re making up ourselves,” Dhies said. “This is something written in [holy] books that we have to do.”

In its statement, Swift officials said the company was “grateful to employ a multicultural workforce and works closely with all employees and their union representation to accommodate religious practices in a reasonable, safe and fair manner to all involved.”

Union officials argue that the contract allows for the extra break time.

“Many companies pay time and a half for working Christian holidays,” Gonzales said.

“It’s a different time now, and we should respect different people’s values.”

nicholas.riccardi@ latimes.com

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September 7, 2008

Obama’s verbal slip fuels his critics

  1. LOUIS, Mo. – Sen. Barack Obama’s foes seized Sunday upon a brief slip of the tongue, when the Democratic presidential nominee was outlining his Christianity but accidentally said, “my Muslim faith.”

The three words — immediately corrected — were during an exchange with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on “This Week,” when he was trying to criticize the quiet smear campaign suggesting he is a Muslim.

But illustrating the difficulty of preventing false rumors about his faith from spreading, anti-Obama groups within one hour of the interview had sliced it out of context and were sending it around via email. They also were blogging about it.

Mr. Obama, who is a Christian and often proudly speaks about how his faith has influenced his public service, said he finds it “deeply offensive” that there are efforts “coming out of the Republican camp to suggest that perhaps I’m not who I say I am when it comes to my faith.”

The exchange came after Mr. Obama said that Republicans are attempting to scare voters by suggesting he is not Christian, which McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said was “cynical.”

Asked about it on ABC, Mr. Obama said, “These guys love to throw a rock and hide their hand.”

“The McCain campaign has never suggested you have Muslim connections,” said Mr. Stephanopoulos, who repeatedly interrupted Mr. Obama during the interview.

“I don’t think that when you look at what is being promulgated on Fox News, let’s say, and Republican commentators who are closely allied to these folks,” Mr Obama responded, and Mr. Stephanopoulos interrupted: “But John McCain said that’s wrong.”

Mr. Obama noted that when Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin “was forced” to talk about her pregnant 17-year-old daughter, he issued a forceful statement to reporters that the line of inquiry was “off limits.” But he said the McCain campaign tried to tie him to “liberal blogs that support Obama” and are “attacking Governor Palin.”

“Let’s not play games,” he said. “What I was suggesting — you’re absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith. And you’re absolutely right that that has not come.”

Mr. Stephanopoulos interrupted with, “Christian faith.”

“My Christian faith,” Mr. Obama said quickly. “Well, what I’m saying is that he hasn’t suggested that I’m a Muslim. And I think that his campaign’s upper echelons have not, either. What I think is fair to say is that, coming out of the Republican camp, there have been efforts to suggest that perhaps I’m not who I say I am when it comes to my faith — something which I find deeply offensive, and that has been going on for a pretty long time.”

Asked to comment on the accidental misstatement illustrating the difficulty of the issue, Obama spokesman Bill Burton offered this comment: “I’m not surprised that the only outlet doing this story is The Washington Times.”

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September 5, 2008

Purported bomber warns Denmark of more attacks

By KATARINA KRATOVAC, Associated Press Writer 48 minutes ago

A new al-Qaida video identifies the Saudi purportedly behind a suicide bombing at the Danish Embassy in Pakistan, and he is shown warning in a taped last testament that more attacks will punish Denmark over newspaper caricatures of Islam’s founder.

In the 55-minute video posted on the Internet late Thursday, the alleged bomber is referred to both by a nom de guerre, Abu Ghareeb al-Makki, and by his real name, Kamal Saleem Atiyyah al-Fudli al-Hathli. He appears in an explosives vest as he recounts his plan for the attack.

“As for my final message to the worshippers of the cross in Denmark, I tell them, Allah permitting, this isn’t the first nor the last retaliation,” al-Makki says. “We will wipe you from the face of the Earth.”

The June 2 blast killed six people, including a Danish citizen. Al-Qaida claimed responsibility, saying it was carrying out Osama bin Laden’s promise to exact revenge for the 2006 publication by Danish newspapers of a dozen cartoons showing the Prophet Muhammad.

Islam forbids any depiction of Muhammad, even favorable, for fear it could lead to idolatry, and the cartoons sparked riots across the Muslim world. Denmark’s PET intelligence service warned last month that the country faced its worst terror threat in many years.

The video also shows al-Qaida’s top commander in Afghanistan, Mustafa Abu al-Yazeed, praising al-Makki bomber and warning of more attacks.

In August, Pakistani officials said they were trying to confirm whether a suspected militant killed in fighting in the tribal Bajur area was Abu al-Yazeed, but there has been no comment since. Thursday’s video did not indicate when the footage of Abu al-Yazeed was taped.

The video’s authenticity could not be independently verified. It was posted on an Islamic militant Web forum commonly used by al-Qaida to issue videos.

Jakob Scharf, chief of the PET intelligence service, said the agency believes the bomber featured in Thursday’s video “very likely” executed the attack in Pakistan.

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July 25, 2008

Pope Benedict urges help for Iraqi Christians

Pope Benedict XVI urged the world to help Iraqis who have fled their country and called for better protection for Christians inside Iraq during talks Friday with Iraq’s prime minister, the Vatican said.

The struggle against terrorism and the need for religious freedom also were central issues in the talks with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman.

Al-Maliki, who is on a European tour, met with Benedict at his vacation palace in Castel Gandolfo south of Rome.

A Vatican communique said a key theme was the need to assist Iraqi refugees, who both men hope will return to their country.

Benedict has frequently expressed concern about the plight of Christians caught in sectarian violence in Iraq.

The Vatican statement said the Christian community in Iraq “strongly feels the need for more security.”

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July 14, 2008

Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir faces war crimes charges

By David Blair, Diplomatic Editor
Last Updated: 11:04PM BST 14/07/2008

Sudan‘s military dictator was accused of “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” when the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court held him responsible for Darfur’s bloodshed.

REUTERS

Mr Bashir said he did not recognise the International Criminal Court and denied committing war crimes

President Omar al-Bashir, who seized power in a military coup 19 years ago, is the first serving head of state ever to face proceedings at the ICC in The Hague.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Court’s chief prosecutor, accused Mr Bashir of three counts of “genocide”, five of “crimes against humanity” and two of “war crimes”.

Mr Bashir responded by saying he did not recognise the court and denied committing war crimes. “From the beginning we said we are not a member of the court… the court has no jurisdiction over Sudan,” he said, in his first public reaction to the indictment. “Whoever has visited Darfur, met officials and discovered their ethnicities and tribes… will know that all of these things (including ethnic cleansing) are lies.”

All of the alleged offences were committed during the war in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, which has claimed at least 300,000 lives. Black African rebels began the fighting in 2003 when they rose against Mr Bashir’s Arab-dominated regime.

In response, Mr Bashir’s forces raised Arab militias, widely known as the “Janjaweed”, or “demons on horseback”, and turned them on innocent civilians from the tribes who had provided rebel fighters.

The Fur, Zaghawa and Masalit tribes were the main victims. Hundreds of their villages were razed and more than two million people forced into squalid refugee camps.

During the hearing in The Hague, Mr Moreno-Ocampo said this amounted to “genocide”.

“He [Mr Bashir] wants to end the history of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa people. I don’t have the luxury to look away. I have evidence,” said Mr Moreno-Ocampo. “His motives were largely political. His alibi was counter-insurgency. His intent was genocide.”

The Prosecutor’s office added: “Bashir masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part the Fur, Zaghawa and Masalit groups on account of their ethnicity.”

Mr Moreno-Ocampo argued that this met the legal definition of “genocide”. However, this is a controversial view of Darfur’s conflict.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both reported that Darfur’s killings do not amount to “genocide” because the crucial element of an intention to eradicate a given ethnic group has not been proven.

But Mr Moreno-Ocampo said that forcing civilians to flee into refugee camps scattered across Darfur’s arid landscape was proof of Mr Bashir’s “intent to commit genocide”.

The Prosecutor said: “He did not need bullets. He used other weapons: rape, hunger and fear. As efficient, but silent.”

Sudanese forces and their “Janjaweed” allies have been accused of mass rape. Mr Moreno-Ocampo quoted one victim as saying: “When we see them, we run. Some of us succeed in getting away and some are caught and taken to be raped – gang-raped. Maybe around 20 men rape one woman. These things are normal for us here in Darfur. These things happen all the time.”

In yesterday’s hearing before three judges from the ICC’s “pre-trial chamber”, Mr Moreno-Ocampo applied for Mr Bashir to be formally charged and an arrest warrant issued in the president’s name. The judges will probably take two or three months to decide on this request.

If they agree, Mr Bashir with be indicted on all or some of the ten counts. The judges could, however, rule that the evidence is insufficient and dismiss the case.

Whatever happens, Sudan does not recognise the ICC and has vowed never to surrender any suspects for trial. Carefully organised demonstrations in support of Mr Bashir have taken place in Khartoum, with protesters waving placards denouncing Mr Moreno-Ocampo, a senior Argentine lawyer, as a “criminal”.

Mr Bashir may respond by increasing the pressure on the international aid effort, which presently supports at least 2.5 million people in Darfur. By refusing visas for foreign aid workers and closing roads to supply convoys, he could steadily shut down relief work.

With tension growing, the United Nations mission in the country has told Sudanese officials it will start pulling all its non-essential staff out of Darfur.

Its decision came after the deputy speaker of parliament Mohammed al-Hassan al-Ameen said on state television that the safety of UN workers could not be guaranteed.

A new peacekeeping force jointly deployed by the United Nations and the African Union is desperately under strength, with only 9,000 of its 26,000 troops and civilians in Darfur. Mr Bashir could obstruct the arrival of more forces.

This will create more suffering among Darfur’s people. Mr Bashir will blame this on the West.

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July 10, 2008

Rally in support of Coptic Christians in Egypt

American Egyptian Coptic Christians to organize a peaceful demonstration, on July 16, 2008, in front of the White House, to protest violent attacks against Coptic Christians in Egypt.

Coptic Organizations in America along with activists from Egypt, the Middle East, Europe and the United states, will conduct a peaceful demonstration in front of the White House on Wednesday July 16, 2008, from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm. The purpose is to convey, to world’s opinion and international human rights organizations, recent incidents of persecution, discrimination and marginalization inflicted on Coptic Christians of Egypt by the Egyptian government and Muslim extremists.

The Copts of Egypt are the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. They number about 15% of Egypt’s population of 80 millions. Not a month passes by without their churches, homes and businesses being attacked. According to a study made by Ibn Khaldoun Research Center in Cairo, over 240 major attacks against the Copts took place during the period from 1972- 2003.  Magdy Khalil, a writer and researcher, estimates that as a result of these attacks more than 4000 Copts got killed or injured. This, in addition to damages directed against Coptic properties that could exceed hundreds of millions of dollars, during the last three decades alone. Hundreds of Coptic girls are abducted and forced to embrace Islam while security forces act as accomplices and helpers of the criminals.

During the last few weeks, the extremists attacked a jewelry store owned by Copts killing four Copts. The extremists also attacked Abu Fana Coptic monastery injuring many monks and kidnapping three. The abducted monks were tortured, while they were ordered to announce abandoning their Christian faith and embracing Islam. In Fayoum, Muslim extremists attacked homes and businesses owned by Coptic Christians. A Coptic Christian man was killed by Muslims in the town of Dafash, governorate of Minia, in the southern part of Egypt.

We call on the American and International Media, human rights organizations and all freedom loving people to join our demonstration in order that we send a message to the Egyptian government to stop persecuting the Copts and take responsibility in providing adequate protection for them.

For more information, contact:

Mounir Bishay, Los Angeles (310) 641- 3387
Jacob Keryacos, New Jersey (732) 414- 9451
Fayez Khella, New Jersey (201) 424- 0278
Selim Naguib, Montreal (514) 485- 4550
Atef Makar, Chicago (630) 878- 1333

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July 8, 2008

Islamic Conference (OIC) at the U.N. is pushing a dangerous resolution – making speaking out against Islam

TUESDAY, JULY 08, 2008
Christians are under attack.

In Iran, a couple is tortured for reading the Bible.  Two men are tried and convicted for possessing Christian books in Algeria.

This is serious.  Right now, there is a radical proposal being pushed before the United Nations that will make expressing your faith an international crime.

Speak out for Christianity and you might face the death penalty.

Give generously right now to help the ACLJ’s legal defense teams in the U. S. and Europe fight this IMMEDIATELY at the United Nations level – to protect the rights of individuals around the globe who are targeted for their faith!

In countries around the world, Christians are under attack as never before.

I could go on.  There are examples of a growing global crisis – Christians targeted, facing the harshest of penalties – often death.  Why?  For simply sharing their faith or even reading a Bible!

And it could very well get worse.

Now, one of the largest organizations inside the United Nations has made a bold move – targeting you.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) at the U.N. is pushing a dangerous resolution – making speaking out against Islam … including proclamation of Christianity … an international crime.

It’s an anti-Christian measure and it clearly endorses what’s taking place in many Muslim countries – where those who even speak out about Islam are severely punished with imprisonment and even death.

This is a travesty!  Give your immediate online donation to help the ACLJ – along with our European affiliate – answer the OIC aggressively:  Anti-Christian bigotry will not be tolerated!

I firmly agree with Justice Scalia who said in his recent dissent on the Supreme Court ruling on Guantanamo Bay, ”American is at war with radical Islamists.”

We are your voice in this matter at the United Nations.  And we are the only ones using the legal process to combat its very perilous resolution.

I have teams of ACLJ and ECLJ attorneys and staff working aggressively on the issue.  We are calling on the U.N.’s High Commissioner of Human Rights to vehemently oppose this sinister resolution …

And focus instead on improving existing international law to protect the religious beliefs of all individuals.

We have mounting legal work ahead of us – researching, preparing reports and oral presentations – on your behalf, to protect your religious freedom.

Please stand with us today in generosity and prayer.   We need your help to launch an effective, and successful, nationwide campaign … and to quickly defeat this dangerous violation of your right to freedom of religion and expression.

Thank you.  God bless you for your dedicated membership.

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July 6, 2008

Radical Islam Stirs In China’s Remote West

KASHGAR, China (Reuters) – In a backstreet of the old Silk Road city of Kashgar, the Chinese government has been spray-painting signs on dusty mud brick walls to warn against what it says is a new enemy — the Islamic Liberation Party.

Better known as Hizb ut-Tahrir, the group says its goal is to establish a pan-national Muslim state, or Caliphate.

China says Hizb ut-Tahrir are terrorists, and claim they operate in the far western region of Xinjiang, home to some 8 million Muslim, Turkic-speaking Uighurs, many of whom chafe under Chinese rule.

But the group, and some observers, say they do not espouse violence, and they accuse China of playing up the threat as an excuse to further crack down in restive Xinjiang, especially ahead of this summer’s Beijing Olympics.

“Strike hard against the Islamic Liberation Party” and “The Islamic Liberation Party is a violent terrorist organization” read the signs in Kashgar, written in red in both Chinese and Uighur’s Arabic-based script.

Residents passing by appear to give little heed to the notices, accustomed as they are to daily barrages of propaganda from the government denouncing “splittism,” “illegal religious activities” and calling for ethnic unity and harmony.

“I don’t know what that group is,” said one Uighur, who declined to give his name, shaking his head and scurrying away.

As in another strife-hit Chinese region, Tibet, many Uighurs resent the growing economic and cultural impact of Han Chinese who have in some cases been encouraged by the government to move to far-flung and under populated parts of the country.

Beijing accuses militant Uighurs of working with al Qaeda to use terror to bring about an independent state called East Turkestan. It claims to have foiled at least two Xinjiang-based plots this year to launch attacks during the Beijing Games.

But the emergence of Hizb ut-Tahrir is a recent phenomenon in Xinjiang.

“The organization is extremely resilient and its influence, although limited to southern Xinjiang, seems to be growing,” said Nicholas Bequelin of Human Rights Watch.

“The prison authorities are also worried about the influence of Hizbut followers on other inmates,” he added.

But it seems unlikely they represent the threat to Xinjiang that China likes to portray, said Dru Gladney, president of the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College, California, and a Uighur expert.

“For most Uighurs who are activists, though some of them are very religious in their Islam, their main goal is sovereignty for Xinjiang. Hizb ut-Tahrir doesn’t support that. They support a worldwide Caliphate, not any one independent region,” he said.

RUNNING ON XINJIANG TIME

Though a part of China, many areas in Xinjiang feel a world away from the booming and cosmopolitan cities on the Chinese coast, far to the east.

In Kashgar, a city close to the Pakistan and Afghan borders, some women not only cover their heads, but also veil their faces. In some cases, dark brown cloths envelope the whole head.

Clocks in a lot of mosques, restaurants, cafes and shops are set to Xinjiang time, two hours behind Beijing time, the official standard for the entire country, even if that means the sun does not set until after 10 p.m. in Kashgar in the summer.

Exiled groups and human rights campaigners have long chastised China for its religious restrictions, even as the government hits back and says it guarantees freedom of religion in its constitution, as long as believers respect the law.

Many are not convinced that Hizb ut-Tahrir is the threat the Chinese government says it is in Xinjiang.

“This does not exist. They have come up with this group’s name themselves,” said Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress. “They are trying to mislead the world and deflect from concern for the Uighur people.”

For its part, Hizb ut-Tahrir denies it advocates violence.

“Hizb ut-Tahrir and Muslim voices that do not toe the government line have been severely oppressed by the Chinese government,” Taji Mustafa, media representative for Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, told Reuters in an emailed statement.

“It is well known across the world that since its founding in 1953, Hizb ut-Tahrir has exclusively engaged in non-violent political and intellectual work,” Mustafa added. He did not comment on whether the group was active in Xinjiang.

SPLITTISM

Yet China maintains the threat is real. Hizb ut-Tahrir is likewise banned in countries such as Uzbekistan, where it has also been blamed for violence.

In November, China’s Xinhua news agency announced sentences ranging from death to life in jail for six Uighurs accused of “splittism and organizing and leading terrorist groups,” and implicated Hizb ut-Tahrir.

One of the men was found guilty of “proactively carrying out extremist religious activities and promoting ‘jihad’, establishing a terrorist training base and preparing to set up an ‘Islamic caliphate,”‘ Xinhua reported.

In April, the Xinjiang government blamed Hizb ut-Tahrir for inciting protests in Khotan, in which the World Uyghur Congress said about 1,000 people took to the streets.

“By linking the unrest to Hizb ut-Tahrir there’s legal cause for suggesting that these individuals were involved in a transnational conspiracy to set up an Islamic state and destabilize China,” Gladney said.

“It’s not clear that the civil unrest had any of those goals in mind,” he added. “They were pretty disorganized.”

Still, authorities launched a propaganda drive last year targeting what China says are the true intentions of Hizb ut-Tahrir.

“Be very clear about the ‘Islamic Liberation Party’s’ reactionary nature,” the Kashgar government said in a notice on its website. “Be very clear about their pervasive and actual threat to Xinjiang and Kashgar.”

Yet while some Uighurs say they have heard of Hizb ut-Tahrir, they dismiss it as being irrelevant to their situation.

“What we want is simple — freedom,” said a Uighur resident of Xinjiang’s regional capital, Urumqi, who asked not be identified, fearing repercussions with the authorities. “But there are too many Han and too few of us.”

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June 11, 2008

Yemen child bride Nujood Ali gets divorce

Delphine Minoui / For The Times

Nujood Ali, 10, stands near her home on the outskirts of Sana, Yemen. Her father gave Nujood’s hand in marriage to a man three times her age.

The 10-year-old was married off to a man in his 30s who abused her. She made her way to a courthouse, found a lawyer and broke free.

By Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 11, 2008

SANA, YEMEN — The little girl was waist-high, so small that the lawyers, clerks and judges hurrying through the courthouse almost missed her.

As lunchtime arrived and the crowds of noisy men and women cleared away, a curious judge asked her what she was doing sitting alone on a bench.

 

“I came to get a divorce,” 10-year-old Nujood Ali told the jurist.

Her impoverished parents had married her off to a man more than three times her age, who beat her and forced her to have sex, she explained. When she told her father and mother that she wanted out of the marriage, they refused to help. So an aunt provided her with bus money to travel to court and seek a divorce.

Within days of that April 2 encounter, Nujood’s tale and the plight of child brides in Yemen made international headlines. And thanks to the efforts of human rights lawyer Shada Nasser, who took up her cause, the girl at the center of the story has begun to overcome her trauma and dream of a better life.

Yemeni law sets the age of consent at 15. But tribal customs and interpretations of Islam often trump the law in this country of 23 million. A 2006 study conducted by Sana University reported that 52% of girls were married by 18.

Publicity surrounding Nujood’s case prompted calls to raise the legal age for marriage to 18 for both men and women. Yemen’s conservative lawmakers refused to take up the issue. But the case sparked public discussion and newspaper headlines. Several more child brides came forward, including a girl who sought a divorce last week in the southern city of Ibb.

“This case opened the door,” Nasser says.

Nujood says that at first, she felt ashamed about what had happened to her. “But I passed through that,” she says, eyes narrowing beneath her black head scarf.

“All I want now is to finish my education,” she adds, her mouth curling into a smile. “I want to be a lawyer.”

The girl is being identified in this story because her name already has been widely publicized in Yemen, and neither her parents nor her lawyer objected.

Nujood’s unemployed father, Ali Mohammed Ahdal, has two wives and 16 children. He is among the many tribal Yemenis who have migrated to the capital looking for work. Instead, he found misery.

He arranged to have Nujood married in February to Faez Ali Thamer, a thirtysomething motorcycle deliveryman from his native province, Hajja.

Nujood’s parents say they were trying to do what was best for their daughter and didn’t even receive a dowry, a claim many Yemenis don’t believe. The parents say the groom had promised he wouldn’t have sex with her until she reached puberty.

“We asked him to raise her,” said Shuaieh, the girl’s mother.

The groom has disputed that claim.

Ahdal, in his mid-40s, says he wanted Nujood to avoid the fate of two of his older sisters. One was kidnapped by a rival clan and another wound up in jail for trying to defend her, an example of the murky intertribal disputes that bedevil Yemen.

“I was trying to protect her,” Ahdal says during an interview in his family’s decrepit two-room flat on the capital’s outskirts.

Nujood looked forward to getting married, not understanding what it really meant. Aside from being a pre-adolescent bride, she is a fairly typical little girl. She likes playing hide-and-seek and tug-of-war with her friends and siblings. Her favorite colors are red and yellow, she says, and her favorite flavors are chocolate and coconut. She loves dogs and cats and dreams of being a turtle so she could swim in the sea.

“I’ve never seen the sea,” she says.

About 40 people attended the wedding in the village of Wadi Laa, where the groom lived. As a wedding gift, she received three new dresses and a $20 wedding ring. She was to live with him and his family.

The trouble started on the first night, when he demanded that they share a mattress. She resisted, walking out of the room, only to have him follow. Sometimes he beat her into submission. For weeks, she cried all day and dreaded the nights, when he would enter the room, blow out the oil lamp and demand sex.

“I asked him not to sleep next to me,” she recalls. “He told me, ‘No, we sleep together in the same room. Your father agreed to accept me as a husband.’ ”

On a visit weeks later to her parents’ house in the capital, she wept, saying that her husband was doing unmentionable things to her.

Her father said there was nothing he could do.

“My cousins would have killed me if I dishonored the family by asking for a divorce,” he said.

But her mother’s sister discreetly advised her to go to court.

The bewildered judge who found Nujood on the bench decided to bring her to his house for the weekend. His daughters had a swing and toys she’d never seen. They had satellite television, and for three days she feasted on cartoons.

Once the workweek began, the judge dispatched soldiers to arrest Nujood’s father and husband. He placed Nujood in the care of an uncle, her mother’s brother.

Still, the lawyers and judges had no idea how to handle her case. Nujood and her uncle languished in the courthouse for days until a middle-aged woman, the only one in the courthouse without an Islamic headdress covering her face, approached them.

“Are you Nujood?” asked Nasser, the lawyer, among Yemen’s leading women’s rights activists. “Are you the one asking for divorce?”

She was, Nujood replied.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Nasser says. The girl reminded her of her own daughter, Lamia, 8.

Nasser went to the cell where Thamer, the husband, was being held, and was shocked by the age difference between the two. “Why did you sleep with her?” she demanded. “She’s a little girl.”

He didn’t deny it, Nasser recalls. Instead he complained that Nujood’s father had said she was much taller and better looking than she really was.

Nasser vowed to Nujood that she would take her case without pay and that she would take care of her. She took her to her upscale home and offered to let her stay there.

Outraged, Nasser also called her contacts at the Yemen Times, the country’s English-language newspaper. The story of the brave little girl who went to court on her own to stand up for her rights captivated the country. News agencies picked up the story and sent it around the world.

When a sympathetic judge agreed to hear her case several weeks later, reporters packed the courtroom.

Verbally, Judge Mohammed Ghadi was merciless to the husband.

“You could not find another woman to marry in all of Yemen?” he demanded.

But legally, there was little he could do. No provision in Yemeni law provides for prosecution on sexual abuse charges within a marriage. Not only did the husband and father go free, but Thamer demanded $250, the equivalent of four months’ salary for a poor Yemeni, to agree to a divorce.

A sympathetic lawyer donated the cash.

Nujood was elated. “She was smiling,” Nasser recalls. “She said, ‘I want chocolate. I want pears, cake and toys.’ ”

Nasser bought her some new clothes. Donations began pouring in, with several wealthy Europeans offering to pay for her education. One newspaper held a big party for her. A Yemeni journalist gave her a cellphone.

When the controversy died down, Nujood insisted on going back to live with her parents, most likely because she is very close to her sister Haifa, 8. Her father promised that he would not marry off Nujood or any of her sisters.

The girl has refused to see a psychologist or a gynecologist. She says she doesn’t like doctors. And besides, she says, the experience has made her stronger and wiser.

She says she’s had enough of marriage and domestic life, and looks forward to beginning third grade and pursuing dreams she never knew she had.

“I want to defend oppressed people,” she says. “I want to be like Shada. I want to be an example for all the other girls.

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May 29, 2008

Copts shot dead in Cairo attack

Four Coptic Christians have been shot dead in broad daylight at a jewellery shop in a busy district of the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

Details remain sketchy, but witness accounts speak of two men, wearing wigs and sunglasses, entering the shop and opening fire with automatic weapons.

The motive for Wednesday’s murders is still unknown because the killers did not appear to have stolen anything.

There are fears the attack may have been sectarian or even political.

The manner and the timing of the crime has shocked residents of Cairo, says the BBC’s Arab Affairs Analyst, Magdi Abdelhadi.

Motorbike escape

The shop’s owner and three of his assistants were killed in the attack. All four were Christian Copts.

The killers then sped away on a motorbike.

Egyptian jewellery shops owned by Christians have, in the past, been looted by Islamist militants to finance their insurgency, reports our correspondent from the Egyptian capital.

But that has not happened since the government quashed militant groups during the 1990s.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/7425541.stm

Published: 2008/05/29 14:04:58 GMT

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May 26, 2008

Anti-Islam group to hold rallies in downtown Chicago

We are a pro American/Israeli group who hold a rally every Sunday from 12:00pm to 1:00pm in downtown Chicago. We counter a pro islamic/terror group call Nopt In My Name. We can use the help. Any of your Chicago area member willing to join us.
Alan 773-507-8130

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April 15, 2008

Brigitte Bardot on trial for Muslim slur

Former French film star faces charge of ‘inciting racial hatred’ for fifth time for saying Muslim community ‘destroying our country and imposing its acts’

Reuters
Published:
04.15.08, 23:20 / Israel News

French former film star Brigitte Bardot went on trial on Tuesday for insulting Muslims, the fifth time she has faced the charge of “inciting racial hatred” over her controversial remarks about Islam and its followers.

Prosecutors asked that the Paris court hand the 73-year-old former sex symbol a two-month suspended prison sentence and fine her 15,000 euros ($23,760) for saying the Muslim community was “destroying our country and imposing its acts.”

Since retiring from the film industry in the 1970s, Bardot has become a prominent animal rights activist but she has also courted controversy by denouncing Muslim traditions and immigration from predominantly Muslim countries.

She has been fined four times for inciting racial hatred since 1997, at first 1,500 euros and most recently 5,000.

Prosecutor Anne de Fontette told the court she was seeking a tougher sentence than usual, adding, “I am a little tired of prosecuting Mrs. Bardot.”

Bardot did not attend the trial because she said she was physically unable to. The verdict is expected in several weeks.

‘France invaded by sheep-slaughtering Muslims’

French anti-racist groups complained last year about comments Bardot made about the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha in a letter to President Nicolas Sarkozy that was later published by her foundation.

Muslims traditionally mark Eid al-Adha by slaughtering a sheep or another animal to commemorate the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son on God’s orders.

France is home to 5 million Muslims, Europe’s largest Muslim community, making up 8 percent of France’s population.

“I am fed up with being under the thumb of this population which is destroying us, destroying our country and imposing its acts,” the star of “And God created woman” and “Contempt” said.

Bardot has previously said France is being invaded by sheep-slaughtering Muslims and published a book attacking gays, immigrants and the unemployed, in which she also lamented the “Islamization of France.”

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April 2, 2008

Saudi Arabia is prime source of terror funds, U.S. says

Treasury official expresses frustrations with the administration’s efforts to force action by the kingdom. A Senate panel orders a review.

By Josh Meyer, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia remains the world’s leading source of money for Al Qaeda and other extremist networks and has failed to take key steps requested by U.S. officials to stem the flow, the Bush administration’s top financial counter-terrorism official said Tuesday.

Stuart A. Levey, a Treasury undersecretary, told a Senate committee that the Saudi government had not taken important steps to go after those who finance terrorist organizations or to prevent wealthy donors from bankrolling extremism through charitable contributions, sometimes unwittingly.

“Saudi Arabia today remains the location where more money is going to terrorism, to Sunni terror groups and to the Taliban than any other place in the world,” Levey said under questioning.

U.S. officials have previously identified Saudi Arabia as a major source of funding for extremism. But Levey’s comments were notable because, although reluctant to directly criticize a close U.S. ally, he acknowledged frustration with administration efforts to persuade the Saudis and others to act.

“We continue to face significant challenges as we move forward with these efforts, including fostering and maintaining the political will among other governments to take effective and consistent action,” Levey said, later adding: “Our work is not nearly complete.”

Levey was the sole witness before the Senate Finance Committee, which Tuesday ordered an independent review of the efforts to choke off financing used by Al Qaeda and other extremist groups.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the committee chairman, announced the review at the end of the hearing held to assess the money-tracking campaign by Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, headed by Levey.

The Bush administration created the office in 2004 to spearhead efforts to disrupt the flow of money to extremist causes, primarily from wealthy donors in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf.

However, U.S. officials and counter-terrorism experts have said that international support for the effort has waned while terrorist groups have found ways around the financial restrictions. At the same time, there have been turf battles among the 19 federal agencies that work on the problem.

Senators praised work done by Levey but expressed concerns about the overall U.S. effort. The committee’s Democratic and Republican leaders cited a Los Angeles Times report last week detailing problems undermining the effort.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican, said extremist groups had adapted to changing U.S. investigative methods: “We are simply not prepared right now to keep up with them and put them out of business once and for all.”

Levey said the campaign has succeeded in disrupting terrorist financing by freezing suspicious assets and in gathering intelligence that could be used to identify extremists and disrupt their activities.

But under questioning by senators, Levey also spoke of difficulty in getting Saudi Arabia to take the steps U.S. officials consider necessary.

Levey said the Saudis had been aggressive in going after terrorist cells. But he said they had not lived up to promises to establish the kind of financial intelligence unit needed to trace the money trails of terrorists. Another problem is that the Saudi government has not set up a charity oversight commission to track whether donations end up in the hands of extremists.

Levey said the Saudi government has not moved to publicly hold accountable those within the kingdom who have been the subject of enforcement actions by the U.S. and other authorities.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said the Saudi failures mean that Americans who pay more than $100 a barrel for oil are in effect bankrolling extremism because wealthy Saudis “back-door” their profits into charities that fund extremist causes.

Nail Jubeir, press attache for the Saudi embassy in Washington, dismissed those concerns, saying the Bush administration has repeatedly praised Saudi Arabia for its efforts to combat terrorism.

“We have been very vigilant in our campaign against terrorism financing,” Jubeir said. “We have come a long way since 9/11 on this issue.”

Jubeir confirmed that Saudi Arabia has not set up the financial intelligence unit or charity commission, but said it was cracking down on the financiers of terrorism in other ways, such as making it illegal for anyone to send money outside the kingdom “without going through official government channels.”

Alleged financiers of terrorism identified by the United States are being investigated, and their assets have been frozen, Jubeir said. “But unless we have evidence to try them . . . we don’t parade them in public,” he said. “What if it turns out they are innocent?”

At the hearing, senators also expressed concern about disputes among U.S. agencies and other administrative and investigative functions of Levey’s office. Baucus and Grassley asked that the Government Accountability Office review its internal efficiency and effectiveness as well as its cooperation with foreign governments.

Levey said he had not seen the request from Baucus and Grassley, but added: “We welcome any source of advice as to how we can improve.”

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March 22, 2008

Pope to Baptize Prominent Muslim

By NICOLE WINFIELD,
AP
Posted: 2008-03-22 17:08:56

VATICAN CITY (AP) – Italy’s most prominent Muslim commentator is converting to Catholicism by being baptized by the pope at an Easter vigil, the Vatican announced Saturday.

Magdi Allam is the deputy editor of the Corriere della Sera newspaper and writes often on Muslim and Arab affairs. Born in Egypt, he has described himself as a non-practicing Muslim. He has long spoken out against extremism and in favor of tolerance.

Pope Benedict XVI was baptizing seven adults during the service, which marks the period between Good Friday, which commemorates Jesus’ crucifixion, and Easter Sunday, which marks his resurrection.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said of Allam before the service that anyone who chooses to become a Catholic of his or her own free will has the right to receive the sacrament.

Lombardi said the pope administers the sacrament “without making any ‘difference of people,’ that is, considering all equally important before the love of God and welcoming all in the community of the Church.”

Benedict opened the lengthy nighttime service by blessing a white candle, which he then carried down the main aisle of the darkened St. Peter’s Basilica. Slowly, the pews began to light up as his flame was shared with candles carried by the faithful, until the whole basilica twinkled and the main lights came on.

The baptism rite during the vigil service is part of the joyful renewal Christians associate with Easter.

There is no overarching Muslim law on conversion. But under a widespread interpretation of Islamic legal doctrine, converting from Islam is apostasy and punishable by death – though killings are rare.

Egypt’s highest Islamic cleric, the Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, wrote last year against the killing of apostates, saying there is no worldly retribution for Muslims who abandon their religion and that punishment would come in the afterlife.

Osama bin Laden accused the pope in a new audio message posted Wednesday of playing a “large and lengthy role” in a “new Crusade” against Islam that included the publication of drawings of the Prophet Muhammad that many Muslims found insulting.

Lombardi said Thursday that bin Laden’s accusation was baseless. He said Benedict repeatedly criticized the Muhammad cartoons, first published in some European newspapers in 2006 and republished by Danish papers in February.

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March 13, 2008

The archbishop of Mosul is dead

Bishop of Arbil: “A heavy Cross for our Church, ahead of Easter”. The cause of death is still unknown. The pope’s expression of sorrow.

Mosul (AsiaNews) – The Chaldean archbishop of Mosul is dead. Archbishop Faraj Rahho was kidnapped last February 29 after the Stations of the Cross. His kidnappers gave word of his death, indicating to the mediators where they could recover the body of the 67-year-old prelate. “It is a heavy Cross for our Church, ahead of Easter”, Bishop Rabban of Arbil tells AsiaNews in response to the news. Leaders of the Chaldean Church, including Bishop Shlemon Warduni, brought the body to the hospital in Mosul to ascertain the causes, still unknown, of the archbishop’s death. The funeral will be held tomorrow in the nearby city of Karamles. Archbishop Rahho will be buried near Fr Ragheed, his priest and secretary killed by a terrorist brigade on June 3, 2007, while leaving the church after celebrating Mass.

The archbishop had been very sick. He had suffered a heart attack a few years ago, and since then he had needed to take medication every day. The difficult negotiations for his release carried forward over the past 14 days of his kidnapping had immediately raised concern because of the total absence of direct contact with the hostage. The conditions posed by the kidnappers – sources in Mosul tell AsiaNews – in addition to an outrageous ransom on the order of millions of dollars, had also included the provision of weapons and the liberation of Arab prisoners held in Kurdish prisons.

The news of Archbishop Rahho’s death “profoundly wounds and saddens” the pope, says the director of the Vatican press office, Fr Federico Lombardi. Benedict XVI hopes that “this tragic event may renew once again and with greater force the efforts of all, and in particular of the international community, for the pacification of this greatly tormented country”. Three times in recent days, the pope had launched an appeal for the liberation of the bishop. Numerous Muslim leaders had also spoken out for the prelate’s release, both Sunnis and Shiites, in Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan, and also condemned the action as “contrary to Islam”.

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March 3, 2008

Man Butchers 15-Month-Old Nephew in Jeddah Supermarket

Samir Al-Saadi, Arab News —

JEDDAH, 3 March 2008 — Early morning shoppers at a supermarket in Jeddah were left reeling yesterday, with some falling unconscious, after a well-built Syrian man clinched a knife and decapitated his 15-month-old nephew in front of his mother in the store’s fruit and vegetable section.

In a brutal murder that has shocked the city, the 25-year-old man beheaded the boy, who was out shopping with his mother — in full glare of shoppers and staff at Al-Marhaba supermarket on Sari Street around 9.30 a.m. The man, who is the boy’s maternal uncle, apparently killed the boy following a dispute with his sister and brother-in-law.

Eyewitnesses said that the man picked up a knife from inside the store and severed the boy’s head. The mother and a shopper standing close by fainted, while several other stood in shock and disbelief over what had happened.

A police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Arab News, “The murderer was in a dispute with the boy’s mother and her husband. He chopped off the boy’s head in front of the mother to get back at her.” He added that the mother has been left traumatized and is in hospital. The boy’s father was at work at the time of the incident.

Following the murder, police sealed off the supermarket while forensic experts gathered evidence. Ambulances were also called to the scene. The supermarket reopened for business at around 1.15 p.m. “It happened so quickly. Before people could intervene, the man had cut more than half way through the child’s neck,” said Abu Muhammad, a grandfather in his mid-60s.

A Saudi till attendant at a nearby cafe said, “One of my colleagues went to see what was going on and returned shivering. He saw the kid’s body and so we gave him the day off. He was in a bad state.”

An eyewitness, who lives in the neighborhood, said that the victim’s family lived close by and frequented the supermarket. “I’ve seen the murderer carrying the same child and playing with him on a number of occasions,” he added.

“No one could bear the gruesome sight of the boy’s decapitated body lying on the floor,” said Muneer, a Turkish car mechanic, who works at a garage close by. “How could someone do such a thing? I just can’t understand it… I still can’t believe it,” he said, shaking his head.

When the store reopened, employees were still in a state of shock. A guard, standing at the entrance, stood frozen and oblivious to the rush of shoppers. Pain and anguish were writ large on his face.

P.S. There have already been 4 beheadings in Britain!

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February 5, 2008

For the Record: Government Reminds Court of CAIR/MAS Ties to Terrorists

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is demanding that the Air Force Academy alter a panel of speakers slated for a terrorist symposium this week, saying it’s an unbalanced presentation dominated by anti-Muslim speakers. But recently, and for at least the third time, federal prosecutors have called out CAIR as part of a covert Muslim Brotherhood effort in the United States. First, CAIR was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Hamas-support trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF). CAIR was listed among “entities who are and/or were members of the US Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee.” Then, when the group petitioned to remove its name from that list, prosecutors said such relief “will not prevent its conspiratorial involvement with HLF, and others affiliated with Hamas, from becoming a matter of public record.”

Now, in a federal court filing from December, federal prosecutors have described CAIR as “having conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists.” The government also stated that “proof that the conspirators used deception to conceal from the American public their connections to terrorists was introduced” in the Dallas Holy Land Foundation trial last year and the Chicago trial of the Hamas men in 2006.

The government also stated that another organization, the Muslim American Society (MAS) was “founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States.” This appears to be the first time the US government has officially described the true origins and ulterior agenda of the Muslim American Society. (For a backgrounder on the Muslim American Society by the Investigative Project, go to our dossier.)

CAIR and MAS Freedom Foundation had offered amicus, or friend of the court, briefs for the pending appeal of Sabri Benkahla, convicted in 2007 of perjury and obstruction of justice.

Benkahla was part of a group of Northern Virginia men who trained to fight with the Taliban against the United States. He was acquitted of supplying services to the Taliban but later convicted on the perjury and obstruction charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison. That sentence included a “terrorism enhancement” after the trial court found his false statements impeded a terrorism investigation. In seeking court approval to file their supportive briefs, CAIR and MAS said they were specifically concerned about the sentencing enhancement. It is “being applied to punish Muslim scholars and activists as if they had committed terrorism crimes,” CAIR’s motion states, and that could chill political speech and activities.

Federal prosecutors used their response to the brief to remind the court of the both organizations’ questionable stand on the issue of terrorism itself. In a footnote, the government brief points out:

In describing themselves, Amici Brief at 1, CAIR and MAS omit reference to a shared background that limits their membership to those of a particular political bent, and undercuts their credibility. The Muslim Brotherhood is a generally covert international organization whose credo is “Allah is our goal; the Qur’an is our constitution; the Prophet is our leader; Struggle is our way; and death in the path of Allah is our highest aspiration. See, e.g., Efraim Karsh, Islamic Imperialism, 208-09 (Yale University Press 2006).

MAS was founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America. See, e.g., Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Sam Roe and Laurie Cohen, The new face of the Muslim Brotherhood – the Muslim American Society, CHI. TRIB., Sep. 19, 2004, available at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/specials/chi-0409190261sep19,1,7870150,print.story

Moreover, from its founding by Muslim Brotherhood leaders, CAIR conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists. See Government’s Memorandum in Opposition to CAIR’s Motion for Leave to File a Brief, etc., in United States v. Holy Land Foundation . . . et al, Cr. No. 3-04-cr-240-G (N.D. Tx. September 4, 2007), available at http://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/case_docs/479.pdf. Proof that the conspirators agreed to use deception to conceal from the American public their connections to terrorists was introduced at both the Texas trial in 2007 and also at a Chicago trial the previous year. United States v. Ashqar, et. al., No. 03-978 (N.D. Il. 2006).

A dozen other men have been convicted of crimes in what was known as the “Virginia Paintball” case. Among them is Randall Royer, a former CAIR employee sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to weapons and explosives charges. The case centered around a group of men urged by their spiritual leader Ali Timimi to fight against American troops in Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

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January 30, 2008

Court in Cairo refused to rule in a case filed by Mohammed Ahmed Hegazy

URL:www.unitedcopts.org

The Administrative Court in Cairo refused to rule in a case filed by Mohammed Ahmed Hegazy, a convert to Christianity who is seeking official recognition of his conversion from Islam to Christianity, court officials said yesterday 29th January 2007.

Mohamed Hegazy 24 converted to Christianity when he was 16; he is married to a convert from Islam to Christianity, Katrina (Former Muslim name Zainab) who is now almost 9 months pregnant. They both want their newly born child to be registered as Christian.

Hegazy who was born into a Muslim family, is banned from changing his name and his religion on his national ID card as there is no recognized official procedure Hegazy could follow to change his religion on his official papers, the government refuses to allow citizens to legally change their religious affiliation in their ID cards from Islam to any other religion but welcomes and encourages the change to Islam from other religions, the Egyptian ID document carry the person’s religion.

Hegazy and his pregnant wife have been in hiding since early August 2007 shortly after his conversion became public as he received numerous death threats, several Muslims scholars: Sheikh Yossef El-Badri a famous Muslim scholar, Dr Suad Saleh Al-Azhar university, Dr Abdel-Sabour Shaheen, Al-Azhar University, Sheikh Mohammed Hassan and Sheikh Ibrahim Gad Almoula both mosque Imams all called for killing Hegazy through the application of the Islamic Sharia punishment for apostates which means death on the 20th August 2007. On 20th October Hegazy flat contents were thrown onto the street and set a light.

In Egypt, it is known that the police take part in harassing and persecuting converts from Islam.

The United Copts of Great Britain condemns the biased court ruling and ask the Egyptian government and its agencies including the Egyptian judiciary to show justice and respect for Human Rights of the Christian population of Egypt and to do it’s best to fight infiltration of the government agencies by Radical Islamists and to bear in mind its duty and responsibility to treat all its citizens equally.

Contact: info@unitedcopts.org This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Telephone +447976710729

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January 16, 2008

Ex-lawmaker charged as terrorist conspirator

WASHINGTON – A former U.S. congressman and delegate to the United Nations was indicted Wednesday, accused of being part of a terrorist fundraising ring that allegedly sent more than $130,000 to an al-Qaida and Taliban supporter who has threatened U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan.

The former Republican congressman from Michigan, Mark Deli Siljander, was charged with money laundering, conspiracy and obstructing justice for allegedly lying about lobbying senators on behalf of an Islamic charity that authorities said was secretly sending funds to terrorists.

A 42-count indictment accuses the Islamic American Relief Agency of paying Siljander $50,000 for the lobbying — money that turned out to be stolen from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Siljander, who served four years in the U.S. House of Representatives, was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations for one year in 1987.

He could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday, and his attorney in Kansas City, JR Hobbs, had no immediate comment.

Case against Islamic charity
The charges are part of a long-running case against the charity, which was designated by the Treasury Department in 2004 as a suspected fundraiser for terrorists.

In the indictment, the government alleges that the charity employed a man who had served as a fundraising aide to Osama bin Laden.

The indictment charges the charity with sending approximately $130,000 to help Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whom the United States has designated as a global terrorist. The money, sent to bank accounts in Peshawar, Pakistan in 2003 and 2004, was masked as donations to an orphanage located in buildings that Hekmatyar owned.

Authorities described Hekmatyar as an Afghan mujahedeen leader who has participated in and supported terrorist acts by al-Qaida and the Taliban. The Justice Department said Hekmatyar “has vowed to engage in a holy war against the United States and international troops in Afghanistan.”

The charges “paints a troubling picture of an American charity organization that engaged in transactions for the benefit of terrorists and conspired with a former United States congressman to convert stolen federal funds into payments for his advocacy,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein.

Siljander founded Washington-area consulting group Global Strategies, Inc. after leaving the government.

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Press Release

January 7, 2008

Mounir Bishay, President
Christian Copts of California
310-641-3387
CalCopts@sbcglobal.net

A message to President Bush: Please Ask President Mubarak These Questions

Dear President Bush:

During January 8-17, 2008, you will be touring the Middle East visiting several countries including Egypt. The purpose of your tour is to help the Palestinians and the Israelis reach a permanent reconciliation to their conflict and bring peace to that troubled region. This is a noble cause which we applaud you for taking and we pray that you succeed in your mission.

There is however another cause that we hope you will include in your agenda which we believe to be as important and urgent. It has to do with the grave state of the Christian Coptic minority of Egypt.

As you meet President Mubarak we hope that you raise this issue with him. There are many questions we would like you to ask him, here are just a few.

President Mubarak:

  • Are you aware that under your rule Coptic Christian citizens of Egypt are systematically being discriminated against while you haven’t done much to correct the matter? Is this because you don’t know or you don’t care?
  • Why are attacks against the Coptic Christians of Egypt by their Muslim neighbors escalating alarmingly during your rule? What plans do you have to curb them?
  • Why are the Coptic people, who number over ten percent of Egypt’s population, represented by just about one half of one percent in Egypt’s parliament? What mechanism do you have to correct this shameful under representation?
  • Why are certain high-ranking positions in Egypt out of reach for Coptic people? And why are Copts systematically and drastically limited from occupying certain high-ranking positions?
  • Why must permits to build or repair churches be approved by the President or regional governors, unlike permits to build mosques? Why not enact a unified law for building all places of worship?
  • Why does Egypt not recognize the right of Muslims to convert to other religions of their choice? Why have many of those Muslims who convert to Christianity been detained and tortured in Egypt’s prisons while Christians who want to convert to Islam are usually welcomed, encouraged and rewarded?
  • Are you aware that under your rule underage Coptic Christian girls are being kidnapped by Muslim men, illegally forced to convert to Islam, and forced to marry outside of their faith?

President Bush, there is no greater legacy to achieve for your presidency than to be remembered as a fighter of terrorism, a champion of peace and a defender of the oppressed.

We pray that you succeed in all.

This Message is Sponsored by Coptic Organizations Worldwide




2007 News

December 14, 2007

Representatives Stark and Woolsey vote for Ramadan but against Christmas

Only weeks after voting for a resolution that “recognizes the Islamic faith as one of the great religions of the world,” seventeen Democrats in the U.S. House refused to vote for a Christmas resolution that condemns the worldwide persecution of Christians.

In an act of intolerance toward Christianity (and Christmas), Reps. Fortney Stark and Lynn Woolsey have decided that religious discrimination should be the rule of law. By their vote, Christmas is not worthy of recognition by the United States government and should be shunned at all costs.

Congress passed House Resolution 847 this week by a vote of 372 to 9 (Ten others voted “present” and 40 refused to vote at all.) to recognize the importance of Christmas and Christianity in America. The Christmas resolution acknowledged “the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the world,” expressed “continued support for Christians,” noted the historical importance of Christmas, the role “played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States,” and rejected “bigotry and persecution directed against Christians, both in the United States and worldwide.”

Amazingly, Reps. Stark and Woolsey voted FOR a resolution in support of the Muslim Ramadan holiday just weeks ago! But when it comes to Christianity and Christmas, they have clearly demonstrated disdain and division for American culture and traditions. They voted for H.R. 635 which acknowledged “the Islamic faith as one of the great religions of the world,” expressed “friendship and support for Muslims,” noted “the onset of Ramadan,” and rejected “hatred, bigotry, and violence directed against Muslims.” It also “commends Muslims… who have privately and publicly rejected interpretations and movements of Islam that justify and encourage hatred.” It recognized the “commencement of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal, and commended Muslims in the United States and throughout the world for their faith.”

Take Action!

Representatives Fortney Stark (D-California) and Lynn Woolsey (D-California) voted “no” on H.R. 847 (Christmas) and “yes” on H.R. 635 (Ramadan). Please e-mail and call to express your concerns over how they can possibly promote Islam in the same breath that they attack Christianity, the very faith that supported our nation at its founding. In addition to sending the email, I suggest that you call Reps. Stark (510) 494-1388 and Woolsey (707) 542-7182 and politely but firmly point out the embarrassment that the hypocrisy of their vote has brought upon your state.

Please forward this to your family and friends.

Sincerely,

Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman American Family Association

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December 11, 2007

Father says killed daughter in Canadian hijab case

TORONTO (Reuters) – A Canadian teenager who was said to have clashed with her father about whether she should wear a traditional Muslim head scarf died of injuries late on Monday, and her father told police he had killed her. ADVERTISEMENT

Aqsa Parvez, 16, was found without a pulse in her home in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga earlier on Monday. She was resuscitated by paramedics, treated at two hospitals, and later succumbed to her injuries, police said on Tuesday.

Her father, 57-year-old Muhammad Parvez, has been charged with murder and was remanded back into custody after his first court appearance early on Tuesday.

“There was a 911 call placed by a man who indicated that he had just killed his daughter,” Jodi Dawson, a constable with Peel Regional Police, told Reuters. “Everything else is evidentiary in nature and the investigation is in its preliminary stages at this point.”

The victim’s brother, Waqas Parvez, 26, was arrested and charged with obstructing police.

The story was on the front pages of Canadian newspapers on Tuesday. The newspapers quoted friends and schoolmates of the victim as saying she argued with her father over wearing a hijab, the traditional head scarf worn by Muslim females.

Photos of the teen retrieved from a social networking Web site show her in Western dress with her long dark hair loose.

“She was always scared of her dad, she was always scared of her brother,” the Toronto Star quoted a classmate as saying.

Others were quoted as saying the girl wore traditional Muslim dress when leaving the house in the morning, but would change into other clothes in school washrooms.

Dawson said investigators will likely speak to the victim’s schoolmates. The father will return for a bail hearing on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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November 30, 2007

Ehsan Jami works on film on Islam

AMSTERDAM – Ehsan Jami, founder of the Committee for Former Muslims, has followed Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s example and made a short film about radical Islam, the Telegraaf reports.

The film entitled The life of Mohammed should be ready in February or March of next year and will cause more of a commotion than the Danish cartoons of Mohammed, the former Labour PvdA member says.

“I show how violent and tyrannical Mohammed was. This man murdered three Jewish tribes, killed people who left the faith, and married a 6-year-old girl, with whom he had sex when she was 9,” Jami says in comment on the contents of the 10-minute film.

The politician, who is still under heavy protection, says the film only shows the facts and does not aim to polarise the situation. “I will give EUR 50,000 to anyone who can refute these facts.”

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November 30, 2007

‘Mohammed’ teddy bear teacher held

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — A British teacher has been arrested in Sudan for allegedly insulting Islam by naming a teddy bear Mohammed, taken as a reference to Islam’s prophet and founder, the Sudan Media Center says.

An undated amateur photo of Gillian Gibbons.

The teacher, who wrote the name on the bear, was being interrogated Monday, the semiofficial center said. She was arrested Sunday after the Ministry of Education filed a complaint, acting on behalf of a parent of one of her students.

The British Foreign Office identified her as Gillian Gibbons, 54, and said her 7-year-old students named the bear when she asked them to. It was not clear whether Gibbons intended to name the bear after the prophet. Mohammed is a common name in the Muslim world.

The Sudan Media Center said legal procedures were under way against Gibbons, who taught at the Unity High School in Khartoum, which teaches students aged 4 to 18.

The school could not be reached for comment, and the British Embassy in Khartoum did not return calls.

A Sudanese government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said Gibbons was still being detained Monday pending the completion of the investigation.

Abdul Mageed Khogalli, a member of the government’s Commission for Non-Muslims, said he was aware of the case but could not comment.

Gibbons’ former colleagues in Liverpool, England, said they were dismayed by the news of her arrest.

Gillian Jones, head teacher at Dovecot Primary School, where Gibbons was a deputy head teacher from 2002 to July, when she left for Sudan, said she was “absolutely certain” that Gibbons would not have done anything to insult any religion.

“Gillian is a very talented and able teacher and she was extremely popular with the pupils at this school,” Jones said

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November 16, 2007

Rape Victim Gets Jail Time, 200 Lashes

Associated Press
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — A Saudi court sentenced a woman who had been gang raped to six months in jail and 200 lashes – more than doubling her initial penalty for being in the car of a man who was not a relative, a newspaper reported Thursday.

The decision by the Qatif General Court came in a case that had sparked rare debate about the kingdom’s justice system when it surfaced more than a year ago.

In its decision Wednesday, the court also roughly doubled prison sentences for the seven men convicted of raping the 19-year-old woman, the Arab News reported on its English-language Web site.

According to Arab News, the court said the woman’s punishment was increased because of “her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media.”

She had initially been sentenced to 90 lashes after being convicting of violating Saudi’s rigid laws on segregation of the sexes.

Under Saudi Arabia’s interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, women are not allowed in public in the company of men other than their male relatives.

The initial sentences for the men convicted of the gang rape ranged from 10 months to five years in prison. Their new sentences range from two to nine years, the paper said.

The attack took place in 2006. The woman has said that it occurred as she tried to retrieve her picture from a male high school student she used to know. While in the car with the student, two men got into the vehicle and drove them to a secluded area. She said she was raped there by seven men, three of whom also attacked her friend.

Reports of the story triggered debate about Saudi Arabia’s legal system, in which judges have wide discretion in punishing a criminal, rules of evidence are shaky and sometimes no defense lawyers are present. The result, critics say, are sentences left to the whim of judges.

The judges, appointed by the king, have a wide discretion in handing down sentences, often said to depend on their whim. A rapist, for instance, could receive anywhere from a light or no sentence, to death.

The woman was identified in the media only as the Girl from Qatif. The case was referred back to the General Court by an appeals court last summer, after the woman’s attorney argued the verdict was too lenient for the rapists and unjust for the victim.

The court also banned the lawyer from defending her, confiscated his license to practice law and summoned him to a disciplinary hearing later this month.

“I explained to them that it was my job to do everything legal in order to serve my client. But they did not listen,” the lawyer, Abdul Rahman al-Lahem, was quoted by the paper as saying.

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November 10, 2007

Iran must free woman activist

Seven human rights groups including Amnesty International have urged Iran to set aside a prison sentence for women’s rights activist Delaram Ali. She has been ordered to begin her sentence of two-and-a-half years in prison and a flogging on Saturday.

Ms Ali, 24, joined a protest last year calling for greater legal rights for Iranian women.

Dozens of journalists and activists have been detained or jailed recently, accused of acting against the state.

Police broke up the demonstration Ms Ali was part of last year which called for greater rights for women in Iran’s Islamic legal system.

Ms Ali says the security forces broke her left hand when they beat up the demonstrators.

Chilling warning

Delaram Ali has been free while awaiting the result of an appeal.

But she has now been told to give herself up by Saturday so the sentence can be implemented.

She says she has not been allowed to file a complaint against the police.

Instead an internal inquiry recently exonerated the police even though foreign journalists witnessed them beating the women who were singing feminist songs while sitting peacefully on the grass in a public square.

What is notable about Delaram Ali is that she is not a well-known leader of Iran’s feminist movement who has repeatedly challenged the government.

The BBC’s Frances Harrison says her punishment will be a chilling warning to anyone thinking of dabbling with politics.

It comes as the Iranian Writers Association has talked of the increasing suppression of the press – with writers, journalists, academics, labour and social activists being arrested and newspapers closed down one after another.

One of Iran’s most outspoken human rights activists, Emadeddin Baghi, was arrested last month and there has been no news of him since.

He was a man who tirelessly campaigned for the rights of political prisoners – only to become one himself, our correspondent says.

Courts have also recently upheld jail sentences for the leaders of Iran’s bus drivers’ union and teachers’ organisations after protests over low pay.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/7088310.stm

Published: 2007/11/10 07:47:35 GMT

© BBC MMVII

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October 18, 2007

Feds Recommend Closing Saudi School in Va.

By MATTHEW BARAKAT
The Associated Press
Thursday, October 18, 2007; 12:25 AM

McLEAN, Va. — A private Islamic school supported by the Saudi government should be shut down until the U.S. government can ensure the school is not fostering radical Islam, a federal panel recommends.

In a report released Thursday, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom broadly criticized what it calls a lack of religious freedom in Saudi society and promotion of religious extremism at Saudi schools.

Particular criticism is leveled at the Islamic Saudi Academy, a private school serving nearly 1,000 students in grades K-12 at two campuses in northern Virginia’s Fairfax County.

The commission’s report says the academy hews closely to the curriculum used at Saudi schools, which they criticize for promoting hatred of and intolerance against Jews, Christians and Shiite Muslims.

“Significant concerns remain about whether what is being taught at the ISA promotes religious intolerance and may adversely affect the interests of the United States,” the report states.

The commission, a creation of Congress, has no power to implement policy on its own. Instead, it makes recommendations to other agencies.

The commission does not offer specific criticism of the academy’s teachings beyond its concerns that it too closely mimics a typical Saudi education.

The report recommends that the State Department prevail on the Saudi government to shut the school down until the school’s textbooks can be reviewed and procedures are put in place to ensure the school’s independence form the Saudi Embassy.

Messages left Wednesday with the State Department and the Saudi Embassy were not immediately returned.

Several advocacy groups in recent years have cited examples of inflammatory statements in religious textbooks in Saudi Arabia, including claims that a ninth-grade textbook reads that the hour of judgment will not come “until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.”

Saudi officials said they have worked in recent years to reform the textbooks and the curriculum, but critics say progress has been insufficient.

The school’s director-general, Abdalla I. Al-Shabnan, said Wednesday that he had not seen the report. But he said the academy has adjusted its curriculum in recent years and removed some of the inflammatory language that had been included in the Saudi text. The school’s curriculum may now serve as a model for the Saudi government to use in continuing its reform of Saudi schools, he said.

“There is nothing in our curriculum against any religion,” Al-Shabnan said.

He also said he is willing to show the school’s curriculum and textbooks to anybody who wants to see them, and he expressed disappointment that the commission did not request materials directly from the school.

“We have an open policy,” he said.

He also pointed out that many of the school’s teachers are Christian and Jewish.

The commission based its findings in part on a the work of a delegation that traveled to Saudi Arabia this year. The commission asked embassy officials to review the textbooks used in Saudi schools generally and at the Islamic Saudi Academy specifically but did not receive a response.

Commission spokeswoman Judith Ingram said the commission did not request to speak to academy officials because that went beyond the commission’s mandate.

The report also criticizes the school’s administrative structure, saying it is little more than an offshoot of the Saudi Embassy, with the Saudi ambassador to the United States serving as chairman of the school’s board of directors. The structure “raises serious concerns about whether it is in violation of a U.S. law restricting the activities of foreign embassies.”

After the Sept. 11 attacks, critics questioned the nature of the religious education at the Saudi academy. The school again found itself in the spotlight in 2005, when a former class valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, was charged with joining al-Qaida while attending college in Saudi Arabia and plotting to assassinate President Bush.

Abu Ali was convicted in federal court and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He is appealing his conviction.

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October 12, 2007

One Year after Regensburg, 138 Muslims Write a New Letter to the Pope

They are proposing as common ground between Muslims and Christians the two “greatest commandments” of love for God and neighbor. These are in both the Qur’an and the Gospels. How will the Church of Rome react?

by Sandro Magister

ROMA, October 12, 2007 – One year ago, a month after Benedict XVI’s memorable lecture in Regensburg, 38 prominent Muslims wrote an open letter to the pope in which they expressed agreement with some of his positions, and disagreement with others.

The 38 came from different countries and belonged to different schools of thought. It was the first time in the Islamic world that such a diverse group of people was speaking with a single voice, and expounding the principles of Islam to the head of the most important Christian Church, with the intention of arriving at “mutual understanding.”

Over the following months, other signatures joined the original ones, and the 38 became 100. Now, one year later, the 100 have become 138, and they have made public a second letter.

In comparison with the first letter, the second has expanded the scope of its intended audience. In addition to pope Benedict XVI, it is addressed to the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, to the patriarch of Moscow, Alexei II, and to the heads of 18 other Eastern Churches; to the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams; to the leaders of the worldwide federation of Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist, and Baptist Churches; to the secretary general of the World Council of Churches, Samuel Kobia, and in general “to the leaders of the Christian Churches.”

As for content, the first letter supported positions clearly in favor of the freedom to profess one’s faith “without restrictions.”

It asserted the rational consistency of Islam, while maintaining the absolute transcendence of God.

It decisively restated the limitations placed by Islamic doctrine upon recourse to war and the use of violence, condemning the “utopian dreams in which the end justifies the means.”

And it concluded by expressing hope for a relationship between Islam and Christianity founded upon love of God and neighbor, the “two great commandments” recalled by Jesus in Mark 12:29-31.

The second letter picks up precisely where the first one left off, and builds upon its conclusion. The commandments of love of God and neighbor – found in both the Qur’an and the Bible – are the “common word” that offers to the encounter between Islam and Christianity “the most solid theological foundation possible.”

The text of the letter was discussed and refined last September, at a meeting held in Jordan at the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, sponsored by King Abdullah II.

It is the conviction of the promoters that, before this letter, “Muslims have never offered the Christian world such a strong consensus proposal.”

Aref Ali Nayed – a Libyan theologian who signed both the first and second letter, and is an author well known to readers of www.chiesa – emphasized the participation of Muslims of all tendencies, Sunni, Shiite, Ibadi, Ismaili, Ja’fari:

“Rather than engage in polemic, the signatories have adopted the traditional and mainstream Islamic position of respecting the Christian Scripture and calling christians to be more, not less, faithful to it.”

The 138 signatories come from 43 countries. Some of them live in Europe or the United States, but most live in Muslim countries: from Jordan to Saudi Arabia, from Egypt to Morocco, from the Emirates to Yemen, but also in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan, Palestine.

Some of the letter’s signatories – including Aref Ali Nayed, who was a docent, in Rome, at the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies – have on repeated occasions met with the heads of the Vatican curia.

The first contacts go back one year ago. But the Church of Rome gave no public sign of appreciation until after the publication of the second letter.

On October 12, cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the pontifical council for dialogue among the religions, said on Vatican Radio:

“This is a very interesting and novel document, because it comes from both Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims. It is not a polemical document, and includes many citations from the Old and New Testament. […] It represents a very encouraging sign, because it demonstrates that good will and dialogue can overcome prejudice. It is a spiritual approach to interreligious dialogue, something I would call a dialogue of spiritualities. Both Muslims and Christians must answer a single question: is God truly the only god in your life?”.

There is strong agreement between the positions on interreligious dialogue expressed in the letter and those of Benedict XVI.

The last time the pope touched upon this topic was last October 5.

Speaking to the members of the International Theological Commission, Benedict XVI pointed to the “natural law” and the ten commandments as “the foundation for a universal system of ethics” valid for “all the consciences of men of good will, whether secularists or members of the various religions.”

And the ten commandments are summed up in the two “greatest” commandments of love for God and neighbor: “submission to God, the source and judge of all goodness, and the sense of the other as one’s equal.”

These are the same two commandments that form the core of the letter to the pope from the 138 Muslims.

___________

You can find the complete text of the letter from the 138 on the official website dedicated to it, in English, French, Italian, and Arabic:

> A Common Word between Us and You

This is the list of the 138 signatories, each identified by role and nationality:

> Signatories

And the following is the official summary of the letter’s contents:

A Common Word between Us and You

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.

The basis for this peace and understanding already exists. It is part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God, and love of the neighbour. These principles are found over and over again in the sacred texts of Islam and Christianity. The Unity of God, the necessity of love for Him, and the necessity of love of the neighbour is thus the common ground between Islam and Christianity. The following are only a few examples:

Of God’s Unity, God says in the Holy Qur’an: Say: He is God, the One! / God, the Self-Sufficient Besought of all! (Al-Ikhlas, 112:1-2). Of the necessity of love for God, God says in the Holy Qur’an: So invoke the Name of thy Lord and devote thyself to Him with a complete devotion (Al-Muzzammil, 73:8). Of the necessity of love for the neighbour, the Prophet Muhammad r said: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbour what you love for yourself.”

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ u said: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. / And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. / And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

In the Holy Qur’an, God Most High enjoins Muslims to issue the following call to Christians (and Jews—the People of the Scripture):

Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word between us and you: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him). (Aal ‘Imran 3:64)

The words: we shall ascribe no partner unto Him relate to the Unity of God, and the words: worship none but God, relate to being totally devoted to God. Hence they all relate to the First and Greatest Commandment. According to one of the oldest and most authoritative commentaries on the Holy Qur’an the words: that none of us shall take others for lords beside God, mean ‘that none of us should obey the other in disobedience to what God has commanded’. This relates to the Second Commandment because justice and freedom of religion are a crucial part of love of the neighbour.

Thus in obedience to the Holy Qur’an, we as Muslims invite Christians to come together with us on the basis of what is common to us, which is also what is most essential to our faith and practice: the Two Commandments of love.

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October 10, 2007

Bible Store Manager Martyred in Gaza

Rami Ayyad (30), the manager of the only Christian bookstore in Gaza, was killed by unknown assailants on October 6. At approximately 4:30 p.m. Ayyad was abducted as he closed up The Teacher’s Bookshop, which is owned by the Palestinian Bible Society. Shortly afterwards, his family received a telephone call from him saying that he had been kidnapped and that he would be returned home late that evening. The following day, Ayyad’s body was found near the bookstore at approximately 6:25 a.m. He had been shot in the head and stabbed multiple times.

According to Middle East Concern, the local media is reporting that the murder occurred during a robbery, which the Christian community believes is a deliberate attempt to cover up the religious motive behind the attack. Ayyad regularly received anonymous death threats from people angered by his work and Muslim militants have repeatedly threatened the Palestinian Bible Society. In mid-April, the Gaza office was bombed by suspected Muslim militants.

Ayyad is survived by a pregnant wife and two young sons. Ask God to fill his loved ones with a peace that surpasses understanding in the midst of their grief (Philippians 4:7). Pray that the Bible Society staff will continue to spread God’s Word in this troubled area. Pray that Christians in Gaza will exhibit the love and forgiveness of Christ.

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October 3, 2007

Ramadan Commemoration in US Congress

41 House Republicans Refuse To Vote For Ramadan Commemoration
ABC News | October 3, 2007 04:16 PM

——————————————————————————–

They are a dime a dozen in Congress: resolutions commemorating this or commending that. Be it a sports team or a holiday or just about anything, Congress can find comity and bipartisanship when it comes to commending things.
But no more.

Tuesday in the House of Representatives, it was Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal, that was commended. The resolution did not sit well with Rep. Tom Tancredo, the Republican from Colorado who is also running for President. The resolution, “in order to demonstrate solidarity with and support for members of the community of Islam in the United States and throughout the world, the House of Representatives recognizes the Islamic faith as one of the great religions of the world.” It also “acknowledges the onset of Ramadan and expresses its deepest respect to Muslims in the United States and throughout the world on this significant occasion.”

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October 2, 2007

Muslim footbaths spark another fight

Indianapolis pastor warns trend is first step in Islamic goal of imposing Sharia law in U.S.

WorldNetDaily.com,


Prayer rugs at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, where
officials boasted of having provided the customer
service feature of footwashing benches for Muslims

Indianapolis airport officials have announced plans to add footbaths for Muslims who wish to wash before their five-times-daily prayer rituals, and that’s just too much for one pastor, who has called for residents to organize and protest.

The issue has been appearing in more and more airports and other public facilities in recent weeks, where Muslim immigrants are a growing segment of cab drivers, who spend hours waiting on arriving passengers for their fares.

Several years ago, officials with Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix boasted of a new “customer service,” providing footwashing facilities for Muslims.

“The cab drivers were asking for more washroom facilities as a group, and a majority of them wanted some place to wash before they pray,” Deborah Ostreicher, public information officer, told the Arizona Republic. “This is a way we thought we could reach out as a customer service.”

Similar facilities have been built at Kansas City International, although airport officials repeatedly have insisted the washing facilities are for anyone aided by the presence of seating and low faucets.

One editorial writer called it “creeping dhimmitude,” where America is joining the “global community of nations dominated by Islam,” and now Rev. Jerry Hillenburg, pastor at Hope Baptist Church in Indianapolis, says he’s going to be working to halt such changes at the city’s airport.

He’s announced a rally Saturday at 11 a.m. to oppose the tax-funded footwashing sinks for Muslims at the airport.

“How do you eat an elephant?” Hillenburg asked during an interview with WND. “One bite at a time. And this is just the first bite of the elephant, a step towards Islam’s desired goal, which is to thrust the entire world under one single Islamic caliphate under sharia law.”

He told the Indianapolis newspaper that such actions reflect a “fraternization” with enemies during a time of war, and he’s calling on Mayor Bart Peterson to halt the installation of the facilities.

His sermon in response to the situation was titled “Stop Caving in to Islam,” and Hillenberg said it’s unreasonable to use such public facilities for the support of a single religion.

Airport officials, faced with the sudden publicity and demands from the public, admitted their plans to build facilities on airport property to accommodate the prayer needs of Muslims are not final. But they were planned as part of restrooms in a new airport terminal that is due for completion next year.

“We’re really a long way from having this set in stone,” said Airport Authority spokesman David Dawson.

He told the newspaper that comments from members of the public will have an effect on the final plans for the property, which is owned by the Airport Authority, a public entity.

Shariq A. Siddiqui, executive director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana, said the real issue is that American Muslims face intolerance every day.

“The problem I have with him is that he associates Muslims with the enemy,” Siddiqui said. “For him to demonize all of us is the problem.”

Hillenburg told the mayor that putting sinks on public property that would primarily serve Muslims could be unconstitutional. That move, Hillenburg said, simply is an “appeasement” of Muslims.

While the airport has an interfaith chapel, Hillenburg said he would be surprised if the authority would allow the installation of a baptistry or basins for holy water.

“I don’t hate Muslims. I don’t hate people who follow Islam,” he said. “But I am at odds with anyone who threatens America and its citizenry; and I am at odds with anyone, period, who wants to destroy Christianity.”

The ACLU has not opposed the installation of the religion-specific facilities in other locations. When the University of Michigan installed footbaths in campus restrooms, it concluded that the university’s reason was for “practical cleanliness and safety.”

“They won’t let us (Christians) have the Ten Commandments, Merry Christmas or children praying at a school convocation,” Hillenburg told WND. “We’ve had the Establishment Clause shoved down our throats for the last 40 years.”

“[This situation] boils down to the appeasement of Islam at the cost of oppression to Christianity,” he said. “We have lived with the Supreme Court’s separation of church and state for years. We’ve had Christmas trees banned, Nativity scenes taken down, in the state General Assembly in Indiana a federal judge ruled it is unconstitutional to have a Christian prayer.”

Russ Richards, who works in the transportation industry at Sky Harbor in Phoenix, said he’s documented similar facilities that have been on the airport property for several years already.

“In the airport’s cab lot (C-lot) they not only have footbaths but also a covered designated prayer area with ‘misters,’ benches, and prayer rugs,” he said. “If people other than Muslims go into the area, they are ‘swooped’ on by Islamic followers as to the intent of any non-Muslim.”

He told WND the facility essentially is a mosque on public property for the benefit of Muslims. “It’s their space. They mark it with their rugs.”

The earlier report in the Arizona Republic said it might be the first such facility in the nation.

Abdul Malik Omar, who owns Metro Transportation, a limousine company on Phoenix, said observers sometimes can see 30 or 40 people praying together in open space. He said even more accommodations should be added, including a permanent place to pray.

Robert Spencer, who founded Jidah Watch, compared installing a footbath for a Muslim to putting in a holy water font to accommodate Catholics.

“The only conceivable group that will use the footbath are Muslims for prayer,” he said. “It’s a religious installation for a religious use.”


Foot-washing benches at a taxicab facility at Kansas
City airport (photo: Phillip Morgan)

WND earlier reported on the situation at Kansas City International Airport, where officials completed the installation and then announced the washing areas could be used for any number of purposes.

“Many of us believe that had this request come from, say, a majority of Catholic cab drivers who requested holy water founts or to have a Ten Commandments plaque installed in airport public facilities, even at their own expense, there would have been a severe outcry from the PC (politically correct) bully pulpit about ‘separation of church and state’ and in the name of ‘religious tolerance,'” said Missy Holthoefer, a longtime KCI user.

“When will the PC bureaucrats get a real clue from history and religious studies that appeasement is the worst way to counter the growing threat from Islamic radicals? To the PC crowd: ‘Muslim appeasement’ [equals] ‘showing weakness and thus vulnerability,'” she said.

One official at KCI even apparently tried intimidation in an effort to eliminate discussion about the recently installed footbaths, after repeated denials that they are intended for Muslims to perform their ritual.

“That’s the way I perceived it,” Kevin Peterson told WND in a telephone interview.

Peterson said he shares his name with a union steward for the Air Traffic Controllers Union at Kansas City’s airport, but he is not the same individual. He was sent an e-mail from airport spokesman Joe McBride, who assumed he was writing to the union steward. about the issue.

“The Indianapolis Star reports that the Indianapolis Airport is installing Muslim foot-washing basins in an upcoming renovation,” Peterson wrote. “The paper says that Muslim footwashing basis are already installed at KCI.

“Are you planning to issue a denial as to the purpose of the KCI basins to the Indianapolis Star?” he asked.

“I assume you are the Kevin Peterson who is the union steward for the air traffic controllers union,” the e-mail, signed electronically with McBride’s name, said.

“Point number one on the first e-mail suggests that your [sic] are in the control tower near the cab facility. I read your previous e-mail on this topic. Your stance is not in the best interest of the airport and the federal government, your employer,” the e-mail said.

Peterson, however, said McBride had called later to apologize for the tone of his note.

“My opinion is that the decision makers at KCI were hiding behind Mr. McBride,” Peterson said.

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September 26, 2007

Knowledge lacking of Islam, Mormonism

Most Americans know little about the faiths but say their own beliefs have little in common with them, a poll shows.

By Theo Milonopoulos, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 26, 2007

WASHINGTON — Most Americans say they know little to nothing about the practices of Islam and Mormonism but say their own religious beliefs have little in common with either of these faiths, according to a national survey released Tuesday.

Forty-five percent of those polled said Islam was more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers. Nearly 1 in 3 respondents say Mormonism is not a Christian religion, the report said.

The survey of 3,002 Americans was conducted last month by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Although 58% of respondents said they knew little or nothing about Islamic practices, 70% of non-Muslims said Islam was very different from their own religious beliefs.

Pew Forum senior fellow John Green said that respondents’ knowledge of Islam might be even lower than the survey results suggested. Respondents “tend to overestimate their own knowledge, so these figures may well underestimate their lack of knowledge,” he said.

The survey found that public attitudes toward Muslims have grown more negative in recent years, with 35% of respondents expressing an unfavorable view. In 2002, the figure was 29%. Respondents who knew a Muslim or who were college graduates were more likely to express positive views about Islam.

But the belief that Islam encourages violence has increased even among groups that have relatively favorable views of Muslims. According to the survey, college graduates are just as likely as those with no college experience to associate violence with Islam.

“We’re not surprised,” said Safaa Ibrahim, executive director of the Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “It’s difficult to remove the tarnish of twisted interpretations of terrorists from what Islam means.”

The survey said Americans were similarly uninformed about Mormonism. Although 53% of those surveyed expressed a favorable view of Mormons, nearly the same amount, 51%, said they knew very little about the faith.

As in the case of Islam, respondents with higher educational backgrounds and those who knew a Mormon tended to view Mormonism more favorably. But even more important in respondents’ assessment of Mormons was whether they believe Mormonism to be a Christian religion, according to the survey.

“Every faithful follower of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tries to emulate Christ’s example in his or her own life,” said Michael Otterson, director of media relations for the church in Salt Lake City. “If that isn’t enough to satisfy people that need a particularly narrow definition of Christianity, then maybe there’s nothing we can do about that.”

Of the 31% of respondents who said Mormons are not Christians, 49% view Mormonism unfavorably, and 42% said they would be less likely to vote for a Mormon for president.

Green said the results suggested that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Mormon and GOP presidential hopeful, could face difficulty persuading white evangelical Protestants to vote for him because nearly 40% of those surveyed viewed Mormons unfavorably.

“It’s quite a big challenge because evangelicals are bulk large among voters in southern Republican primaries,” Green said.

The survey also reported that 73% of respondents familiar with Pope Benedict XVI have a favorable opinion of him; 75% reflected favorably on evangelist Billy Graham.

The survey, available at www.pewforum.org, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

theo.milonopoulos@
latimes.com

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September 21, 2007

Pope in ‘freedom’ blast at Islam

By SIMON CALDWELL
Daily Mail

Defending religious liberty: Pope Benedict XVI

The Pope has again risked provoking the wrath of the Islamic world, by criticising its treatment of Christians.

Benedict XVI attacked Muslim nations where Christians are either persecuted or given the status of second-class citizens under the Shariah Islamic law.

He also defended the rights of Muslims to convert to Christianity, an act which warrants the death penalty in many Islamic countries.

His comments came almost exactly a year after he provoked a wave of anger among Muslims by quoting a Byzantine emperor who linked Islam to violence.

Yesterday, near Rome, the 80-year-old pontiff made a speech in “defence of religious liberty”, which, he said “is a fundamental, irrepressible, inalienable and inviolable right”.

In a clear reference to Islam, he said: “The exercise of this freedom also includes the right to change religion, which should be guaranteed not only legally, but also in daily practice.”

Addressing the problem of Islamic extremism, he added: “Terrorism is a serious problem whose perpetrators often claim to act in God’s name and harbour an inexcusable contempt for human life.”

Last September, radical British Muslims said Pope Benedict should be executed for “insulting” the Prophet Mohammed.

Throughout the Middle East and Africa, Christians were subjected to violence in retribution for his remarks.

His latest comments, however, come just days after one of the Church of England’s-senior bishops warned that Muslim leaders here must speak out in defence of the right to change faith.

The Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, told Channel 4’s Dispatches programme of his fears for the safety of the estimated 3,000 Muslims who have converted to other faiths in this country.

A poll earlier this year of more than 1,000 young adult British Muslims found that 36 per cent believe those who convert to another faith should be punished by death.

Pope Benedict is particularly concerned about the persecution of Christians in Iraq since the invasion of 2003.

Before then, there were about 1.2million Christians in the country. But the number has dropped to below 600,000.

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September 6, 2007

Three accused of Islamist plot on German targets

German security officials lead one of three terrorist suspects from a helicopter to Karlsruhe’s federal court.
Photo: AFP

Juergen Oder in Karlsruhe, Germany
September 6, 2007

GERMAN authorities have arrested three men suspected of belonging to an Islamist terrorist group who were planning attacks on airports, as well as bars and discos used by Americans.

“They were planning massive attacks,” said a federal prosecutor, Monika Harms.

“As possible targets … the suspects named discotheques and pubs and airports frequented by Americans with a view to detonating explosives loaded in cars and killing or injuring many people.”

The men, two Germans and a Turk aged 22, 28 and 29, had amassed vast amounts of hydrogen peroxide, the same chemical used by suicide bombers in the 2005 attacks on London’s transport system that killed 56 people, she said. The chemicals had been stockpiled in a town in the Black Forest.

The men allegedly belonged to an organisation with ties to al-Qaeda called Islamic Jihad Union, which German authorities have suspected for several months of planning attacks.

One of the three suspects was arrested for spying on a US military base in December but was released soon afterwards, a federal police chief, Joerg Ziercke, said. All three of the men had attended a training camp in Pakistan last year.

There was no official confirmation of media reports that the men had been targeting Frankfurt airport and the giant US military base at Ramstein.

Heinrich Nolte, the mayor of Medebach-Oberschledorn, the town where the suspects were arrested, said one of them had been shot by police, although this was not confirmed by prosecutors.

The arrests on Tuesday came a day after police in Denmark arrested eight men who they said had links to al-Qaeda and were planning a terrorist attack. Germany, which has about 3000 soldiers serving in Afghanistan, has been on high alert for several months. The Interior Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, said in May that Islamist groups represented the “biggest threat to the stability and security of Germany”.

Rolf Tophoven, a leading expert on terrorism in Germany, told NTV television that the arrests showed “the country has been in the firing line of terrorists for some time”.

The Defence Minister, Franz Josef Jung, told German television the three had been planning to launch their attacks soon. “There was an imminent security threat,” Mr Jung said, adding it was “very concrete”.

The leading conservative politician Wolfgang Bosbach told German television station N24: “There are clear indications that at a minimum, Ramstein [US air base] and the Frankfurt airport were possible targets and that they would not have waited long to strike.”

The operation might have been timed to coincide with the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US and “would have had considerable consequences” Mr Bosbach said.

The Der Spiegel weekly said in its online edition that the group has been under observation by authorities for many months and all three were considered radical Islamists with contacts to terrorist cells abroad. Authorities decided to arrest the men after they were seen moving a stock of chemicals that could be used to make a bomb from one storehouse to another, the newspaper said.

Agence France-Presse, Reuters, Associated Press

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September 2, 2007

Muslims caught red-handed destroying Temple artifacts

Archaeologists kept out as WND obtains photo of pulverized antiquities at Judaism’s holiest site

By Aaron Klein
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

JERUSALEM – Islamic authorities using heavy machinery to dig on the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – have been caught red-handed destroying Temple-era antiquities and what’s believed to be a section of an outer wall of the Second Jewish Temple.

WND today obtained a photograph of a massive trench the Waqf, the Muslim custodians of the Temple Mount, have been blasting around the periphery of the holy site purportedly to replace 40-year-old electrical cables for mosques on the Mount. The Waqf has steadfastly denied they found or destroyed any Jewish antiquities during their dig.

Possible carved stone from Jewish Temple-era antiquity exposed by digging at Temple Mount in Jerusalem

In view in the picture, which was obtained in conjunction with Israel’s Temple Institute, are concrete slabs broken by Waqf bulldozers and what appears to be a chopped up carved stone from Jewish Temple-era antiquity.

Eilat Mazar, considered one of the most prominent Temple Mount archaeologists, analyzed the photo and told WND the damaged stone displays elements of the second Temple era and might be part of a Jewish Temple wall Israeli archeologists charge the Waqf found and has been attempting to destroy. If authenticated, the wall would be one of the most important Temple Mount archaeological discoveries in recent history. “It certainly looks like Second Temple antiquity and could very well be part of a Second Temple courtyard wall,” Mazer said.

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August 17, 2007

Jose Padilla was found guilty

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) — Former Chicago gang member Jose Padilla was found guilty Thursday of supporting Islamic terrorism overseas.

Jose Padilla was originally accused of planning a “dirty bomb” attack in the United States.

Co-defendants Adham Hassoun and Kifan Jayyousi were also found guilty of the three counts charged: conspiracy to murder, kidnap, and maim people in a foreign country; conspiracy to provide material support for terrorists; and providing material support for terrorists.

Padilla was originally arrested on accusations that he planned to set off radioactive “dirty bombs” in the United States. Thursday’s convictions are not related to those accusations, and prosecutors did not present the “dirty bomb” plot to the jury.

A federal court jury in Miami deliberated for just under two days before handing down the verdict. Jurors declined to speak to the media. “They’ve had enough,” said court clerk Ivan Marchena. All three defendants face life in prison when they are sentenced on December 5.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales — who is on vacation this week — issued a statement saying, “The conviction of Jose Padilla — an American who provided material support to terrorists and trained for violent jihad — is a significant victory in our efforts to fight the threat posed by terrorists and their supporters.”

Padilla received a “fair trial and a just verdict,” the White House said in a statement.

“We commend the jury for its work in this trial and thank it for upholding a core American principle of impartial justice for all,” the statement said.

Defense attorneys argued at trial that Padilla went overseas only to study Islam.

Padilla’s mother, Estela Lebron, told CNN her son will appeal the verdict.

“I’m not surprised by anything in this place anymore,” she said. “This is a Republican city.”

Lebron blamed President Bush for the outcome of the trial and said there was not enough evidence in the case to convict her son.

Attorneys for the other defendants also vowed to appeal, saying they were “stunned” by the decision.

“An innocent man was wrongly convicted today and we’re going to do what we can to clear his name,” said William Swor, the attorney for Jayyousi.

“We’re all stunned … because Dr. Jayyousi is innocent, because there was no evidence presented except pieces of conversations spun from another language that have so many different meanings.

“We’re going to fight to get him released,” he added.

Padilla attorney Anthony Natale declined to comment on the outcome.

The verdict is a “critical vindication” for the U.S. Department of Justice and its post-9/11 strategy for prosecuting terrorism cases, said Kendall Coffey, former U.S. attorney in Miami who comments on legal matters for CNN.

“I think this is huge for DOJ,” he said, “given the case’s background of controversy and the government’s mixed results in other (terror) trials.”

He said the verdict also raises questions about whether military tribunals are necessary.

“Critics of the post-9/11 war on terrorism can point to this and say you don’t need military tribunals, you can get the job done with civilian trials,” Coffey said.

During the trial, prosecutors played more than 70 intercepted phone calls among the defendants for jurors, including seven that featured Padilla, 36. He is a Brooklyn-born convert to Islam.

FBI agent John Kavanaugh testified that the calls were made in code, which Padilla used to discuss traveling overseas to fight with Islamic militants, along with side trips to Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

In closing arguments, Padilla’s lawyers argued he never spoke in code. His voice is heard on only seven of 300,000 taped conversations.

They also tried to rebut a key piece of prosecution evidence — an al Qaeda terrorist training camp application or “mujahedeen data form.”

A covert CIA officer — who testified in disguise at Padilla’s trial — said he was given the form in Afghanistan, and a fingerprint expert found Padilla’s prints on the form, prosecutors said.
“The al Qaeda application virtually sealed his fate,” said Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School. He compared the document’s value as evidence to “putting a duffle bag with severed heads on the table.”

But Michael Caruso, Padilla’s defense attorney, said the prints on the form were not consistent with someone who filled out the document.

“Jose at some point handled the document, but did not fill out the form,” Caruso said.

Just as prosecutors did not present the dirty bomb plot to the jury, neither were jurors told that Padilla was held in a Navy brig for 3½ years without charges before his indictment in the Miami case.

Turley said the case was troubling because it appears Padilla was kept in the brig in violation of his rights, for no legitimate reason.

“The evidence changed very little in the 3½ years Padilla was held without charges or access to a lawyer as an ‘enemy combatant,’ ” he said.

Before trial, his lawyers tried to argue that he was no longer mentally competent to stand trial after years of solitary confinement and abuse — allegations the government strongly denied.

Padilla was taken into custody in Chicago as he stepped off a flight from Pakistan in 2002, and Bush declared him an “enemy combatant” and had him transferred to military custody. He was never charged as an “enemy combatant” and was eventually transferred from military to civilian custody where he was finally charged.

The Supreme Court ducked the chance to rule on the legality of Padilla’s military detention in 2006, arguing that the issue was moot after his transfer to civilian custody for the Miami trial.

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August 9, 2007

Egypt Arrests Activists from Canadian-based NGO

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Christian Solidarity International (CSI)

WASHINGTON: On August 8, members of the Egypt’s State Security Investigations (SSI) arrested Christian activists Dr. Adel Fawzy Faltas, Peter Ezzat Mounir and Adeeb Ramses Kosman in Cairo, and took them to State Security Intelligence (SSI) headquarters at Lazoghly Square, where they remain incarcerated.

The Egyptian government routinely tortures prisoners within the first three days of arrest. Some of the atrocities and malicious practices of the Egyptian Police came to public notice when bloggers managed to publish videos of torture and abuse of citizens at the hands of the Police.

Although no formal charges have been levied, arresting officers have accused the activists of insulting Islam, preaching Christianity and having an unlawful association with an external organization. Attempts by their attorneys to contact the accused have been unsuccessful. Other administrators are now in hiding in fear of arrest and torture.

The Christian activists are all representatives of Middle East Christians Association (MECA), a Human Rights NGO, founded by immigrant Christians from the Middle East to act as a voice for their people in their homelands. MECA is based in Ontario, Canada. The organization’s mission statement calls for secularism, equality and full citizenship for Christians living in the Middle East.

Dr. Faltas, Chairman of the Egyptian branch of MECA was taken from his home and arrested on Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 2:45 PM. Security personnel confiscated two laptop computers and other documents, including the organization’s book, “The Prosecuted.” Police also confiscated computers and documents from the other two representatives when they were arrested at their homes.

The action of Egypt’s security services may be related to the suit MECA had filed against members of the Egyptian government (including the President, Prime Minister, Interior Minister and Minister of Social Solidarity), seeking compensation for the Coptic victims of the al-Kosheh Muslim riots in 2000. The ruling is expected on September 6.

MECA has also advocated the recent high profile case of a convert to Christianity who had petitioned to change his legal identity as a Christian.

Writing today to U.S. President George Bush, CSI-USA’s Chairman Dr. John Eibner said:

The arrests of Messrs. Fawzy, Munir and Rames take place against a background of increasing state-sponsored persecution of Christians in Egypt and growing intolerance of Christians and other religious minorities throughout the Middle East. If present trends of violence, intimidate and discrimination continue, the tragic fate of oriental Jewry could befall the Christians of the Islamic Middle East within a generation.

Dr. Eibner also urged President Bush to “Request from Egypt’s head of state, Hosni Mubarak, the immediate release of the three Christian prisoners, and to impress upon him the need for Egypt to respect the internationally confirmed rights of Christians and adherents of other minority religious or secular beliefs.”

The accused are represented by Mamdough Nakhla, Nageeb Gabriel, and Ramsis El-Nagar. The attorneys have not been given access to their clients, who remain in custody.

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August 9, 2007

Protesters attack author Nasreen

Muslim protesters have attacked controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen during a book launch in Andhra Pradesh state in southern India.

Lawmakers and members of a political party assaulted the exiled feminist author as she presented a translation of one of her novels in Hyderabad.

Ms Nasreen, who backed into a corner, said the attack was barbaric but pledged she would not be cowed.

Many Muslims have accused Ms Nasreen of ridiculing Islam.
Protected Ms Nasreen was launching a Telugu language version of a novel at the press club in Hyderabad.

About 100 protesters, including three lawmakers, from the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen party burst in, shouting that the author was “anti-Islam”.

Ms Nasreen backed into a corner as objects rained down and she was threatened with a chair, witnesses said. One witness said Ms Nasreen was slapped.

She was protected by others at the meeting and was later taken to safety by police.

Officers detained the three lawmakers and a number of other protesters.

Ahmad Pasha Quadri, one of the lawmakers, said: “Our protest is against Taslima Nasreen because of her writings ridiculing Islam. We want the Indian government to send her back to Bangladesh.”

The writer left Bangladesh for Sweden in 1994 after her controversial writing there led to calls for her execution.

She has lived in Calcutta for the past two years and has applied for Indian citizenship.

Critics say she called for the Koran to be changed to give women greater rights, but she vehemently denied making the comments.

Bangladesh banned one of her books in 2004 for what it called objectionable comments about Islam.

Ms Nasreen has spoken out against religion as an oppressive force and was awarded the Sakharov Prize for freedom of expression in 1994 in Europe.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/6938887.stm
Published: 2007/08/09 14:15:16 GMT
© BBC MMVII

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August 08, 2007

EGYPT: CONVERT IN HIDING AFTER LAWYER BACKS OUT

ISTANBUL, August 8 (Compass Direct News) – An Egyptian convert to Christianity who filed suit for his conversion to be officially recognized is in hiding after his attorney announced he would withdraw from the case yesterday.

Though the lawyer has received death threats from Egypt’s security police, he claimed he had made his decision in the interest of “national unity.”

Mamdouh Nakhla, director of the Al Kalema Center for Human Rights, said yesterday that he would no longer represent convert Mohammed Ahmed Hegazy because he did not want to offend Muslims or “provoke public opinion.”

At a press conference at his downtown office, Nakhla rested some of the responsibility for his decision with his client. He said that Hegazy had failed to provide important documents showing that authorities had refused to issue him an identification card.

As the lawyer was giving his statement, however, a member of Nakhla’s organization shouted, “He is being threatened, he is doing this under pressure.”

A source close to Nakhla confirmed that Egypt’s security police had telephoned the lawyer to say he would be killed if he continued the case.

Several Muslim clerics and lawyers headed by Sheikh Youssef el-Badry have opened a case against the lawyer on charges of causing sectarian strife.

Nakhla requested that Muslims and Christians refrain from talking about the sensitive issue, referring to the uproar the case has created in national media.

Several newspapers have attacked Hegazy’s motives in front page coverage. Arabic daily Al-Masry al-Youm reported today that Hegazy had been in contact with a “Christianization network” that promised young Muslims money and Greek nationality if they converted.

The article inaccurately reported that the lawyer said at yesterday’s press conference that he was dropping the case because Hegazy was “seeking publicity and fame.”

Additionally, the newspaper reported that Hegazy’s father said yesterday that his son was being blackmailed by Christian missionaries to open the case.

In an interview on Dream satellite channel talk show al-Ashira Masaa’an on Sunday evening (August 5), Hegazy said that no Christians had pressured him to convert.

“They just told me to go read the Bible well and make up my mind,” said Hegazy.

Forced into Hiding

Ongoing threats and attacks in the national media have forced Hegazy underground while he continues the search for a new lawyer.

The conversion issue highlights the inequality between religions in Egypt. A Christian is free to convert to Islam, but Muslims have no legal means to change their identification papers to reflect a conversion to Christianity.

The disparity hinges on sharia (Islamic law), which many mainstream Muslim scholars believe prescribes death as the punishment for abandoning Islam.

Last month one of Egypt’s top religious advisors said that “apostasy,” though a grave sin, merited no “worldly punishment.” Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa later clarified his controversial statement by saying that only “apostates” who “actively engaged in the subversion of society” should be punished, Agence France-Presse reported on July 26.

But with sharia enshrined as the basis of Egypt’s legal code in Article 2 of the constitution, many Muslims see no distinction between “apostasy” and subversion.

“Is religion deemed any less than the state order?” Dr. Mohamed Mukhtar al-Mahdi wrote in the leftist daily al-Badeel last week.

Since 2004, dozens of Coptic converts to Islam have won the right to return to their original faith, but Hegazy is the first Muslim-by-birth to attempt the legal change.

Though conversion is not specifically outlawed in Egypt, Muslim converts to Christianity are often forced to live double lives, hiding their faith to avoid torture at the hands of family members and police.

END

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July 27, 2007

The John Doe bill passed

A huge victory for the American public. The John Doe provision in the Homeland Security bill passed. Thanks to Peter King and Joe Leiberman for all their work and persistence. Thanks also to you our members, the American public, for all your efforts. Your calls, your emails and faxes to your elected officials put the pressure on them and they heard you. It is your activism as citizens and voters that made the difference. This is the second time we were able to mobilize tens of thousands all across the country to call and make their voice heard on the same John Doe issue in less than then 24 hours.

Here is the final language in the bill:

“Any person who, in good faith and based on objectively reasonable suspicion, makes or causes to be made, a voluntary report of covered activity to an authorized official shall be immune from civil liability under federal, state and local law for such report.”

Here is Mr. King’s statement:

“In a post-9/11 reality, vigilance is essential to security. Despite the Democratic opposition to this important homeland security measure, I’m thrilled to announce that common sense has prevailed and heroic Americans who report suspicious activity will be protected from frivolous lawsuits. The American people were heard and our country is safer because of it.”

This is why I am asking you today to support American Congress for Truth (ACT) and our effort to mobilize our country, inspire our citizens to ACT, and inform you and millions of important bills being voted on in Washington DC so you can make your voices heard. I ask you today to stand with us financially and become a monthly supporter to help us continue doing our important work. We are only as strong as our supporters. Click here to donate.

Congratulations to all of us for this victory!

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the part you played in making this happen. I am so honored and proud to have you as a member of my organization. I urge you to forward our emails to your friends and family and encourage them to subscribe and join us. Together we will continue to fight this war on our freedom and our civilization and win.

Brigitte Gabriel

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July 18, 2007

Daniel Pearl’s widow sues terrorists, bank

NEW YORK (AP) — The widow of Daniel Pearl has sued al Qaeda, more than a dozen reputed terrorists and Pakistan’s largest bank, blaming them for the torture and murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter in 2002.

Mariane Pearl sued several terrorists and a Pakistani bank in connection with her husband’s torture and beheading.

A complaint filed Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court by Mariane Pearl and her husband’s estate alleges Habib Bank Ltd. of Karachi knowingly provided financial services for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
Backed by the bank, terrorists “carried out the kidnapping, ransom, torture, execution and dismemberment of Daniel Pearl and broadcast those images nationwide,” the lawsuit said.

The suit seeks unspecified damages for acts it alleges were meant to “emotionally destroy the Pearl family and terrorize, appall and frighten American citizens.”

“Plaintiffs seek to hold responsible those terrorists, terrorist organizations and the supporting charitable and banking organizations for the senseless kidnapping, torture and murder of Daniel Pearl,” the suit said. There was no immediate response to a message left with the bank’s Manhattan office.

“I am looking for the truth of what happened to Daniel, for our family, our friends, and the public record,” Mariane Pearl, a French citizen, said in a statement.

“This process allows us to delve deeper into the investigation, and to bring accountability and punishment to those involved with his kidnapping, torture and murder.”

Daniel Pearl, 38, was the Wall Street Journal’s South Asia bureau chief when he was lured to a meeting with a source, abducted and killed. His beheading was captured on a video-tape shown around the world.
The 49-page complaint alleges that material and financial support for Pearl’s abduction and beheading came in the form of training, shelter, weapons, transportation food, communications equipment, financing and financial services.

Among the defendants are Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, or Sheikh Omar, who was convicted and sentenced to death in a Pakistani court for his role in Pearl’s slaying, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a suspected high-ranking al Qaeda leader and September 11 mastermind.

Mohammed is in U.S. custody at Guatanamo Bay and has been identified by U.S. military officials as mastermind of the plot to kidnap and behead Pearl.

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July 16, 2007

In Meeting With Atheists, Rep. Ellison Compares President Bush to Hitler

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,289485,00.html

Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, is defending himself Monday after comparing President Bush to Adolf Hitler and leaving the impression the administration may have rigged the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Speaking to an atheist group on July 8, Ellison said that the president acted much the way Hitler did when the Reichstag, or German Parliament building, was burned in 1933 ahead of elections that pitted Hitler’s Nazi Party against others, including the Communists. Hitler, who was suspected of ordering the fire, declared emergency powers that helped him launch his dictatorial and murderous reign.

“It’s almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that,” Ellison told the group, according to The Minneapolis Star Tribune. “After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it and it put the leader of that country [Hitler] in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted.”

During his speech, Ellison went on to tell the 350-member Atheists for Human Rights: “I’m not saying [Sept. 11] was a [U.S.] plan, or anything like that, because, you know, that’s how they put you in the nut-ball box — dismiss you.”

Later in the week, Ellison told one of the newspaper’s columnists that he thinks Usama bin Laden — not the Bush administration — was responsible for the attacks. On Monday he suggested the administration’s response to Sept. 11 was one of “fear and rage.”

“Obviously, Usama bin Laden and the hijackers who carried out the murderous events are responsible for 9/11. The question is, however, how do we respond to this tragedy? With fear and rage? Or with courage and reason? I’m for courage and reason,” Ellison said in a statement.
“This means that in the aftermath of 9/11, instead of invading Iraq, President Bush should have responded militarily where necessary, but even more so, diplomatically, and with all of our intelligence resources,” he added.

In both his speech to the atheist group and his statement Monday, Ellison, who has co-signed a bill to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney, said that civil liberties and religious tolerance have eroded since Sept. 11, that the president has squandered international good will, and that the U.S. image abroad has been shattered by “the taint” of Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay detentions and Patriot Act violations, among other issues.

“If the president had embraced the good will of the post 9/11 world to marshal an international effort to eliminate the terrorist cells responsible for this heinous act, we wouldn’t be mired in a five-year war. We could have effectively eliminated Al Qaeda instead of creating a virtual recruiting station for them in Iraq,” he said.

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July 2, 2007

Egypt agrees to consider case of Christian converts

CAIRO — Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court Monday agreed to hear the appeal of Coptic converts to Islam seeking to legally revert back to Christianity, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said.

“The decision by the Supreme Administrative Court to consider the case of Egyptian converts to Islam wanting to return to their Church is very positive,” Ramsis Al Naggar said.

In April, a lower court ruled against 12 Copts who had converted to Islam and then wished to return to Christianity, saying that such a recognition would amount to apostasy under Sharia (Islamic law) and constitute a “manipulation of Islam and Muslims.”

The plaintiffs appealed the decision, but the government has been trying to get the appeal dismissed, the lawyer said.

Judge Essam Abdel Aziz, however, chose to consider the merits of the case and the appeal will be heard September 1.

“It proves there is still a window of freedom in Egypt,” said Naggar, who has filed 400 similar lawsuits, predicting a “positive outcome” in September’s hearing.

Christians in Egypt who convert to Islam often do so to circumvent the Coptic Church’s strict rules for divorce, or to marry a Muslim.

Rights groups welcomed Monday’s decision.

“It is a step in the right direction,” Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said. “We are hopeful and optimistic that the court will uphold the principles of non-discrimination and religious freedom,” he said.

Copts are estimated to form 6 to 10 percent of Egypt’s 76 million people and are the largest Christian community in the Middle East.

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June 29, 2007

British Police Defuse Terrorist Bomb in London

Police thwarted an apparent terror attack Friday, discovering a parked silver Mercedes that was packed with gas containers and a large number of nails. The attack would have caused “significant injury or loss of life,” police said. A British security official told The Associated Press that there were similarities between the device and vehicle bombs used by insurgents in Iraq. “Forensic staff are still examining the device, but once we know more about it, we’ll know more about what type of individuals are behind this,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the security details. Officers were called to The Haymarket shortly before 2 a.m., a police statement said. Sky News cited witnesses as saying doormen from a nearby nightclub had reported that someone had crashed a Mercedes sedan into garbage bins and ran away.

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June 19, 2007

Gaza’s Christians under the Islamic gun

By Stan Goodenough

There are not very many of them, but Gaza’s Christians are already being singled out for special treatment in the newly-created “Hamastan” in Gaza.

The attacks began before Hamas even completed its takeover of the Strip last week, targeting a Roman Catholic school and church.

Reports of the atrocities only surfaced later because of the chaos in Gaza, according to a witness.

Masked “brave” warriors of Allah wielding guns ransacked and set fire to the Rosary Sisters School and church, according to Father Manual Musalam, as reported in The Jerusalem Post Monday.

“The masked gunmen used rocket-propelled grenades to storm the main entrances of the school and church,” he was quoted as saying.

“Then they destroyed almost everything inside, including the Cross, the Holy Book, computers and other equipment.”

A World Net Daily report Tuesday quoted an Islamic leader in Gaza as saying that Christians can only continue living safely in the Strip if they accept Islamic law, including a ban on alcohol and on women roaming publicly without proper head coverings.

Sheikh Abu Saqer warned that any Christians engaging in missionary activity will be “dealt with harshly.”

Muslim Arabs have a long history of desecrating Jewish and Christian sites and of persecuting adherents of both biblical faiths.

Despite their intolerance and the fact that Muslims are behind the vast majority of wars and terrorism on the planet, leaders of Judeo-Christian and post-Christian countries insist on calling Islam a “religion of peace.”

Recent months have seen a number of Christian institutions in the PA-controlled areas come under attack, among them a Christian bookstore belonging to The Bible Society in the Gaza Strip.

In a statement released on June 14 Open Doors, which describes itself as “one of the few Christian ministries still committed to working inside Gaza” detailed how Muslims “are creating a situation that verges on anarchy.

“They are targeting everything that is against their view of Islam. The group ‘The Sword of Islam’ has sent death threat letters to female broadcasters on Palestine [sic] television.”

The ministry quoted the Muslims as threatening to “cut throats, and from vein to vein, if needed, to protect the spirit and morals of this nation.”

It went on to describe “the firm grip of fear created by Muslim militants over the society.

Several sources “say that especially believers from a Muslim background are afraid to be discovered and killed… Not many have the courage to have contact with other Christians.

“Fear is trying to creep in everywhere.”

Only about 2000 of Gaza’s 1.4 million “Palestinians” are Christian.

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June 12, 2007

Father orders daughter’s brutal death

A father who ordered his daughter’s brutal death for falling in love with the wrong man in a so-called honour killing has been found guilty of murder in the UK.

Banaz Mahmod, 20, was strangled with a boot lace, stuffed into a suitcase and buried in a back garden.

Her death is the latest in an increasing trend of such killings in Britain, home to some 1.8 million Muslims. More than 100 homicides are under investigation for being potential “honour killings”.

Mahmod Mahmod, 52, and his brother Ari Mahmod, 51, planned the killing during a family meeting, prosecutors told the court.

Two others have pleaded guilty in the case. Two more have fled the country. Sentencing is expected this month.

The men accused the young woman of shaming her family by ending an abusive arranged marriage, becoming too westernised and falling in love with a man who did not come from their Iraqi village. The Kurdish family came to Britain in 1998 when Banaz Mahmod was just 11.

“She was my present, my future, my hope,” said Rahmat Suleimani, 29, Banaz Mahmod’s boyfriend.

More than 25 women in Britain have been killed by their Muslim relatives in the past decade for offences they believe have brought shame on their family. More than 100 other homicides are under investigation for potential honour killings.

Some Muslim communities in Britain practice Sharia law, or strict Islamic law.

“We’re seeing an increase around the world, due in part to the rise in Islamic fundamentalism,” said Diana Nammi with the London-based Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation.

During the three-month trial over Banaz Mahmod’s murder, prosecutors said the girl’s father began beating her at an early age for using hairspray and becoming too westernised.

Her uncle once told her that she would already have been “turned to ashes” if she were his daughter and had shamed the family by becoming involved with the Iranian Kurd, her sister 22-year-old Bekhal Mahmod testified.

Banaz Mahmod ran away from home when she was a teenager, but was later sent an audio tape in which her father warned he would kill her sisters, her mother and himself if she did not come home, her sister said.

She returned home and was later hospitalised after her brother attacked her, her sister testified. The brother said he had been paid by their father to finish her off, but in the end was unable to do it, the sister said, testifying in a full black burqa. She said she still feared for her life.

The years of Banaz Mahmod’s abuse were compounded by officers who repeatedly dismissed her cries for help.

She first went to police in December 2005 when she suspected her uncle was trying to kill her and her boyfriend. She sent the police a letter naming the men who she thought would later kill her.

On New Year’s Eve, she was lured by her father to her grandmother’s home and believed she would be attacked after he forced her to gulp down brandy and approached her while wearing gloves. She escaped by breaking a window, and was treated at a hospital.

Police dismissed her claims. One officer, who is under investigation, considered charging her with damages for breaking her grandmother’s window.

Laying in her hospital bed after the escape, Banaz Mahmod recorded a dramatic video message saying she was “really scared”.

The videotape, taken by her boyfriend at the hospital, was shown to the jury during the trial. The boyfriend feared it could be the only chance she would have to detail her fears.

After she was released from the hospital, she returned home and tried to convince her family she stopped seeing her boyfriend, according to court documents.

But friends told the family they spotted the couple together on January 22, 2006.

Soon after, a group of men allegedly approached her boyfriend and tried to lure him into a car but he refused. It was that event that prompted Banaz Mahmod to go to police again. This time officers tried to persuade her to stay in a safe house. She refused, believing her mother would protect her, according to court documents.

But her mother and father left her alone in the house the next day. Her boyfriend – who noted the absence of text messages – quickly alerted police.

Her body was not discovered until three months later, after police tracked phone records.

One of the men who fled the country is allegedly the man who arranged for her burial in the northern city of Birmingham.

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June 10, 2007

German Cardinal wants to celebrate Mass in Saudi Arabia

Articles are cross posted from DW/JW

Cardinal Karl Lehmann, Bishop of Mainz, wants to exercise a bit of reciprocity. Since there are now so many mosques all over Europe, he wants to celebrate Mass in Saudi Arabia. And why not? Because, of course, tolerance and respect for other religions is a one-way-street.

German-language article here from Spiegel Online

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June 3, 2007

4 charged with terror plot at JFK airport

NEW YORK (CNN) — Four men have been charged with conspiring to blow up jet fuel supply tanks and pipelines at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Homeland Security sources said there is no current threat at the airport and the attack as planned was “not technically feasible.”

The alleged plot did not target airplane flights, officials said.

A wiretap transcript given to CNN by the FBI indicates the alleged plotters targeted the airport because of the popularity its namesake, John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963.

“Anytime you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States. To hit John F. Kennedy, wow … they love JFK — he’s like the man,” former JFK airport cargo worker Russell Defreitas allegedly said in a telephone conversation monitored by the FBI.

“If you hit that, this whole country will be in mourning. It’s like you can kill the man twice,” Defreitas allegedly added.

At a Justice Department news conference Saturday afternoon, the plotters were described as “a determined group” whose signature was persistence. (Watch how authorities foiled the plot )

A law enforcement source told CNN Saturday evening that the idea for the plot allegedly came from Defreitas, who also apparently recruited the other men. Those three supposedly directed the effort.

Defreitas, 63, a native of Guyana who has been a U.S. citizen since the 1960s, was arrested in Brooklyn, New York, according to the Justice Department. He was arraigned Saturday in federal court in New York. (Watch experts examine whether the plot could have worked )

Abdul Kadir of Guyana, a former member of the Guyana parliament, and Kareem Ibrahim of Trinidad, are in custody in Trinidad. The United States will seek their extradition.

The fourth suspect, Abdel Nur of Guyana, is being sought.

Defreitas was once a contractor for the aviation company Evergreen Eagle, a law enforcement official told CNN. James Nelson, a company spokesman, said the firm is cooperating with authorities, but declined to provide further information.

Defreitas identified targets and escape routes and assessed airport security, the complaint alleges. Officials said the “defendants obtained satellite photographs of JFK airport and its facilities from the Internet and traveled frequently among the United States, Guyana and Trinidad to discuss their plans and solicit the financial and technical assistance of others.”

Group tied to extremists in South America, Caribbean
The Justice statement said the men began planning the assault on January 6. A complaint alleges that the plot tapped into an international network of Muslim extremists from the United States, Guyana and Trinidad.

“The defendants had the connections to present their terrorist plot to radical groups in South America and the Caribbean, including senior leadership of Jamaat Al Muslimeen (‘JAM’), which was responsible for a deadly coup attempt in Trinidad in 1990,” said Mark J. Mershon, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI’s New York field office. “Had the plot been carried out, it could have resulted in unfathomable damage, deaths and destruction.”

“As the complaint alleges, defendants Kadir and Nur were longtime associates of JAM leaders. Defendant Kareem [Ibrahim] was also preparing to send an emissary overseas to present the plan to extremist networks there when law enforcement stepped in to disrupt it,” Mershon said.

An official described the suspects as “al Qaeda wannabes.”

In one conversation taped by the FBI, Defreitas allegedly discusses an incident he says motivated him to strike JFK. He claimed he saw military parts being shipped to Israel, including missiles, that he felt would be used to kill Muslims.

He allegedly says he “wanted to do something to get those bastards.”

In another recorded conversation with his alleged conspirators in May 2007, Defreitas compared the plot to attack JFK airport with the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, saying, “Even the Twin Towers can’t touch it. This can destroy the economy of America for some time,” according to Justice officials.

The alleged plot was revealed when the planners tried to recruit a person who was a law enforcement informant, sources said.

Fuel line covers large, populated area
The fuel supply for the airport is linked primarily to the Buckeye Pipeline, which distributes fuel and other petroleum products to sites in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.

“We were concerned, not only about an attack on the fuel tank farms at JFK but along the 40-mile aviation fuel pipeline that courses its way from Linden, New Jersey, through Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens,” said New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

“The fuel line is the feeding tube that nourishes national and international commerce through LaGuardia and JFK airports.”

Kelly said the NYPD’s counterterrorism unit conducted a mile-by-mile survey of the pipeline after hearing about the alleged plot.

Suspect’s wife denies his involvement
JFK handles on average more than 1,000 flights daily, about half of which are international flights. Each year, the airport processes about 45 million passengers and more than 1.5 million tons of cargo with an estimated value of $120 billion.

Kadir’s wife, Isha, told CNN by telephone from Linden, Guyana, that she is shocked by the allegations.

“You know, my husband — we are Muslims for 33 years,” she said. “And no way, at no time we were ever involved in anything of plots of bombing or any plots against America. We are not a part of that. We have family — both of us — in America.”

She said her husband was arrested Friday while flying to Caracas, Venezuela, to collect an Iranian visa in order to attend an Islamic conference there. In addition to being a former member of the Guyana parliament, she said, he is a former mayor of Linden.

“We are a mother and a father of nine children and 18 grandchildren,” she said. “No way will we get into anything like that.”

Asked why she thought her husband was arrested, Isha Kadir said it could be related to his connection to Iran. The family is Shiite, she said, and two of her children studied Islamic culture in Iran. But “we have no problem with the United States,” she said.

She said Defreitas, whom she knew as Mohammed, visited Guyana for a week at some point, and that she knew the other suspects but hadn’t seen Nur in years and did not know Ibrahim well.

She said she has not spoken to her husband since his arrest, but “the truth will stand out clearly. And I believe in God, and I know that God knows our intention, and he knows, and he will, you know, he will play a part in this.”

A written statement from the White House said, “The president has been briefed and updated regularly on the progress of the investigation, and this case is a good example of international counterterrorism cooperation.”

CNN’s Kathleen Koch, Kelli Arena and Jason Carroll contributed to this report.

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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May 23, 2007

Muslims in U.S. 2.35 Millions – Study says

Mostly moderate, not monolithic

Poll finds an assimilated community, yet younger Muslims are more likely to see grounds for suicide bombings.

By Rebecca Trounson, Times Staff Writer
May 23, 2007

Simrah Ahmed, left, and her friend, Namra Farooq, join other women and girls as they watch from the loft of the Islamic Center of South Jersey as speakers address men attending a town hall meeting.
(Jackie Schear / AP)
May 18, 2007

Nearly 80% of all Muslim Americans say suicide bombings in defense of Islam are never justified, although one in four younger Muslims say such attacks are acceptable in some circumstances, according to a nationwide study released Tuesday.

The survey of 1,050 Muslim adults by the Pew Research Center paints a picture of a richly diverse, complex and still largely immigrant community that for the most part has blended comfortably into American life.

Most Muslim Americans are moderate, mainstream and middle class, the study shows. They are largely assimilated, happy with their lives and have adopted such core American values as a belief that hard work will lead to success. Their income and educational levels also are comparable with those of most Americans, the study found.

In a conference call with reporters from his Washington office, Pew Research Center President Andrew Kohut said the support, although limited, for suicide attacks among those surveyed was one of the few troubling aspects of the study.

“Overall, this is a very, very positive story for the vast majority of Muslims,” Kohut said. “This is a group living as most Americans live … a group that is assimilating or aspiring to assimilate.”

Nonetheless, he said, the study also found pockets of sympathy and support for extremism among Muslim Americans, especially among the young.

Overall, although 78% of respondents said suicide bombings of civilian targets to defend Islam could not be justified, 13% said they could be, under some circumstances. That view was strongest — 26% — among those younger than 30.

But for all Muslim Americans, support for such tactics appeared to be far lower than among Muslims in many other nations, including several Western European countries. In Pew surveys last year, about one in four adult Muslims in Britain and Spain said such attacks were justified in at least some cases. Support in Muslim countries often exceeded 50% in studies last year.

Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council, questioned the figures, saying he believed the number of U.S. Muslims approving of suicide attacks was much lower.

“If the question was, ‘Do you believe Islam justifies the killing of an innocent civilian?’ I think you’d find the number negligible,” he said.

Al-Marayati also said those who said they supported attacks likely assumed the context was a fight against occupation, either in the Palestinian territories or in Iraq. And he said many young American Muslims are increasingly influenced by extreme ideologies they find on the Internet or satellite television stations.

“We don’t believe there is a radical movement in the student population right now, but we need to intervene to make sure that doesn’t happen,” said Al-Marayati. His organization plans to release its own survey of Muslim American youth next month.

The poll question at issue briefly described possible rationales for suicide bombings and other violence against civilians, then asked, “Do you personally feel that this kind of violence is often justified to defend Islam, sometimes justified, rarely justified or never justified?”

The study was based on telephone interviews with 1,050 adult Muslims, some of whom were interviewed in Arabic, Urdu or Farsi, in addition to English. The margin of error for the poll, conducted between January and April, is plus or minus 5 percentage points.

The Pew researchers estimate that there are 2.35 million Muslims in the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau does not ask about religious beliefs or preferences, and the estimates of Muslims in this country have ranged from 1 million to 7 million or more.

In other findings, the poll showed that about two-thirds of American Muslims are immigrants, and nearly 40% are relative newcomers, having arrived since 1990. Of the rest, about a fifth are native-born African Americans, many of whom are converts to Islam.

The poll also found that those U.S.-born, African American Muslims are the most disillusioned segment of the community, tending to be more skeptical of the view that hard work pays off and less satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S.

In other findings:

• About 63% of U.S. Muslims say they are Democrats or lean that way. About 11% are Republican or lean Republican. Most hold liberal political views on the scope of government, but tend to be social conservatives.

• More than half say it has been more difficult to be Muslim in the U.S. since the attacks of Sept. 11, with 54% saying the government singles Muslims out for extra surveillance or screening.

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May 9, 2007

N.J. Store Clerk Foiled Attack on
Fort Dix, FBI Says

By Donna Leinwand

WASHINGTON — An alert store clerk suspicious of a videotape exposed the plan of six aspiring Islamic holy warriors who were plotting to attack Fort Dix in New Jersey with assault weapons, the FBI said Tuesday.

Investigators in court papers described the men as “Islamic militants” who purchased weapons, staked out targets, practiced tactical maneuvers and viewed inspirational jihadist videos.

The 15-month investigation began when the photo-store employee contacted police about a customer who had asked to have a video made into a DVD, court papers say.

The video, allegedly taped on Jan. 3, 2006, at a rented house in the Pocono Mountains, showed men in military fatigues shooting assault weapons while calling for jihad, or holy war, and shouting in Arabic, “God is great,” court papers say.

The clerk described the video as “disturbing,” court papers say.

The men, who were arrested Monday, had viewed Osama bin Laden videos, but investigators found no direct link to his al-Qaeda terrorist organization, White House spokesman Tony Snow said.

“There is no direct evidence of a foreign terrorist tie,” Snow said.

Recorded conversations show the men sought a large number of American casualties, FBI agent John Ryan wrote in a sworn statement.

“My intent is to hit a heavy concentration of soldiers,” Mohamad Shnewer, one of the men arrested, said in a telephone call recorded by investigators. “You hit four, five, or six Humvees and light the whole place (up) and then retreat completely without any losses.”

He rued a missed opportunity to strike at the Army-Navy football game held in Philadelphia, court papers say.

Shnewer and five other alleged plotters also considered Fort Monmouth Army Base and the Naval Air Station Lakehurst in New Jersey, Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and the U.S. Coast Guard building in Philadelphia, court papers show. They eliminated Dover after staking out the base and finding security too tight, court papers say.

They ultimately fixed on Fort Dix because one of the men, Serdar Tatar, allegedly had easy access to the base as a delivery man for his family’s pizza business in Cookstown, N.J., court papers say.

Five of the six men are charged with conspiring to kill soldiers at Fort Dix and illegally purchasing firearms: brothers Dritan “Tony” Duka, 28, Eljvir “Elvis” Duka, 23, and Shain Duka, 26, of Cherry Hill, N.J.; Shnewer, 22, of Cherry Hill; and Tatar, 23, of Philadelphia. The sixth man, Agron Abdullahu, 24, of Buena Vista Township, N.J., is charged with aiding the attempt to get weapons.

The Dukas, who work at a roofing business, were born in the former Yugoslavia and are living illegally in the USA, the Justice Department says. Shnewer, a cab driver in Philadelphia, is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Jordan. Tatar, who worked as a convenience store clerk, is a legal permanent resident from Turkey. Abdullahu, a supermarket clerk, is a legal permanent resident born in Yugoslavia.

As the investigation progressed, two FBI informants infiltrated the group and recorded conversations and training, court papers say.

The FBI also copied Shnewer’s computer hard drive, court papers say.

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May 8, 2007

6 arrested in plot to kill soldiers at Fort Dix

Posted by The Star-Ledger May 08, 2007 6:02PM
Categories: Fort Dix terror plot

The six men charged with plotting the slaughter of U.S. soldiers in an armed assault on Fort Dix were held without bail this afternoon during an initial appearance in federal court in Camden.

The men, identified by authorities as homegrown Islamic terrorists inspired by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network, each spent about 10 minutes before a judge in U.S. District Court, saying they understood the charges against them.

In a press briefing afterward, U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said that had the men managed to carry out their plan, “It could have been a disaster.”

“These people were ready for martyrdom,” Christie said. “Once they got on to that base and started to shoot, everyone was in danger.”

Added J.P. Weis, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia office, “Today we dodged a bullet.”

“These homegrown terrorists can prove to be as dangerous as any known group,” Weis said.

Federal agents, backed by state police, arrested the men last night after two of the suspects met a confidential informant in Cherry Hill to buy AK-47 and M16 automatic machine guns, authorities said. The men intended to “kill as many soldiers as possible,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The alleged plot included conducting surveillance of the Army base and purchasing multiple firearms, including assault weapons, hand guns, shotguns and semi-automatic weapons, according to a federal complaint.

Some of the would-be attackers have been living illegally in the United States, while others are legal immigrants, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Four are ethnic Albanians, one was born in Turkey, and a sixth was born in Jordan.

Officials identified the men as Dritan Duka, 28, Eljvir Duka, 23, Shain Duka, 26, Serdar Tatar, 23, Mohamad Shnewer, 22, and Agron Abdullahu, 24.

The six had been under FBI surveillance for 15 months and prepared for their alleged plot by shooting paintball guns and real weapons in Gouldsboro, Pa., 30 miles southeast of Scranton, officials said. One had experience as a sniper in Kosovo, Christie said.

“These folks knew how to use these weapons,” he said.

The men also allegedly watched jihadist videos in which Osama bin Laden urged them toward martyrdom.

While under federal surveillance, the men also watched a video in which a U.S. Marine lost his arm in an explosion.

“The room burst out into laughter,” Christie said. “These are the type of people we were dealing with.”

The men had scouted out Fort Monmouth, Dover Air Force Base, Lakehurst Naval Air Station and the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard before settling on Fort Dix, a base that is used to mobilize troops to Iraq, according to the complaint.

One of the suspects, Tatar, had regular access to secure areas of the facility through his job as a deliveryman for his father’s pizzeria in Cookstown, not far from the gates of McGuire Air Force Base, which adjoins Fort Dix. Tatar, the complaint said, knew Fort Dix like the palm of his hand.”

The men had videotaped their practice sessions in Pennsylvania, according to the complaint. That videotape, in which they fired assault weapons and railed against America, led to their arrests.

They made the mistake of bringing it to a video store, seeking to get a copy burned to a DVD, Christie said. A store clerk who later watched the tape called the FBI, which began immediately investigating.

Weis, the agent in charge of the Philadelphia office, praised the clerk yesterday for his “courage and heroism.” Authorities would not identify the employee, saying he will be a witness in the case.

As they allegedly prepared for the attack, the men watched videos depicting armed assaults of U.S. military personnel at an undisclosed location, according to the complaint, which cited a federal witness who infiltrated the group.

The witness noted that Shnewer “seemed to enjoy watching the videos and smiled during the viewing.”

Files in his computer contained what appear to be the last will and testament of two hijackers involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, officials said.

Last night in Cherry Hill, a SWAT team and dozens of federal agents descended at about 9:15 on a quiet suburban neighborhood to raid Schnewer’s split level home on East Tampa Avenue, according to neighbors.

The investigators’ jackets and vests identified them as agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Secret Service and the FBI. They remained until about midnight and carted away several boxes of evidence, neighbors said.

A high school friend of Eljir and Shain Duka recalled them as typical teenagers.

‘We hung out in study hall together,” said David Jonathon, who is 24 and attended Cherry Hill High School West with the suspects.” We did teenage stuff. Drinking. Girls. Stuff like that.”

The Duka brothers had been popular in school, said Jonathon, of Cherry Hill. Shain drove a Cadillac Escalade SUV.

But when Jonathon saw Shain Duka recently for the first time in three years, the once fun-loving teenager was now growing a beard and spoke of converting to Islam.

‘He was trying to get me to go to prayer services with them,” Jonathon said.

Five of the men are charged with conspiring to kill officers of the United States Government, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. The sixth, Abdullahu, is charged with aiding and abetting the others.

Officials at Fort Dix, meanwhile, are increasing security. The facility, which has been closed to the public since 2001, is one of the three main Army posts responsible for preparing reserve and National Guard troops for deployment.

Nearly 100,000 troops have been mobilized through Fort Dix in the past five years.

‘This is definitely a reminder that we are at war,” said Carolee Nisbet, a Fort Dix spokeswoman. “We’re trying to encourage everyone to be more aware of their surroundings.”

Contributed by Jeff Whelan, Deborah Howlett, Dunstan McNichol, Wayne Woolley, Susan K. Livio and Mark Mueller
Updated at 6 p.m.

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May 1, 2007

Christian Brings Case Against Radical Mosque and CAIR

This entry was posted on 5/1/2007 5:30 PM and is filed
under Ummah News Links.

POMPANO BEACH, May 1 – A brave African-American Christian has filed a lawsuit today against organizations that he alleges are attempting to bring a radical form of Islam to his neighborhood and are striving to spread this extremism throughout America. A press conference concerning the matter will be taking place today.

The organizations named in the lawsuit are the Islamic Center of South Florida (ICOSF), the Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Florida), and the national office of CAIR.

The lawsuit is in response to the Pompano Beach City Council’s dangerous decision to grant a permit to ICOSF for the creation of a 29,000 square foot radical suspect mosque within the northwest section of Pompano, an almost entirely Christian and African-American area. The imam of this Islamic center has a history of ties to terrorism, and anti-Semitic statements.

The plaintiff and many others in the community believe that the mosque will be a nuisance and will pose a threat to the neighborhood and its surrounding areas. As well, the plaintiff believes that this is part of a greater scheme to radicalize America.

The individual filing the lawsuit is a congregant of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. Reverend O’Neal Dozier, who is the Pastor of the World Wide Christian Center (Church), has been a vocal critic of the mosque. The ICOSF is located close to both churches.

CAIR, throughout the process, has acted in concert with ICOSF, working hard to oppose anyone that gets in the way of the mosque’s creation.

The Klayman Law Firm, headed by the founder of Judicial Watch, Larry Klayman, represents the plaintiff in the case.

The lawsuit provides a roadmap for other concerned citizens around the nation to legally prevent radical Islam from posing a security threat in their local communities.

Links in the original at PRNewswire-USNewswire

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April 29, 2007

NIGERIA: Christians Wary of New Muslim President

Christians fear that persecution especially in predominantly Islamic northern Nigeria will increase following the election on Saturday of Muslim Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as president.

As governor of Katsina state in northern Nigeria, Yar’Ardua imposed sharia (Islamic law) and presided over a system of deliberate denial of land for building churches, as well as government agencies that arbitrarily closed some churches, Christian leaders told Compass.

Major political parties in Nigeria nominated only Muslims from the north as part of an unwritten agreement among leaders that the presidency would alternate between north and south. The Rev. Bulus Polit of the Evangelical Church of West Africa in Jos told Compass that between the two Muslim presidential candidates, Yar’Adua’s opponent was the more hard-line Muslim who would have presented greater problems to Christians in the country.

Compass Direct

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April 28, 2007

Airport adds foot basins for Muslim cabbies

Police worry about Kansas City ‘catering’ to Islamic rituals

The Kansas City International Airport has added several foot-washing basins in restrooms to accommodate a growing number of Muslim taxicab drivers who requested the facilities to prepare for daily Islamic prayer, WND has learned.

The move concerns airport police who worry about Middle Eastern men loitering inside the building. After 9/11, the airport beefed up its police force to help prevent terrorist attacks.

“Why are we constructing places of worship for them inside our airports?” said an airport official who requested anonymity. “Why are we catering to their rituals? We don’t do it for any other religion.”

Other major airports also are dealing with increased demands from Muslim cabdrivers.

For instance, cabbies at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport recently caused a stir when they refused to carry passengers possessing alcoholic beverages or accompanied by seeing-eye dogs. Alcohol is forbidden in Islam, and dogs are considered unclean.

There are approximately 250 taxicab drivers operating at KCI Airport in Missouri, one of the largest airports in the U.S., linking some 10 million passengers between mid-America and other U.S. cities. Approximately 70 percent of the drivers are of Middle Eastern heritage and practice the Islamic faith, sources say.

KCI Airport Police are responsible for the cab drivers, including the holding areas of the building. The KCI Aviation Department, which oversees the police, recently expanded the taxicab facility restroom area to include the construction of four individual foot-washing benches.

The cost of the project is not immediately known. A spokeswoman for the engineering department said she could not break out the figures.

KCI Airport Police Capt. Jim Harmon declined comment, explaining, “This is a touchy subject.”

He referred questions to the KCI Aviation Department.

In a cleansing ritual known as ablution, Muslims are required to wash their feet before praying to Allah five times a day. They often complain that public restroom sinks do not accommodate their needs. Floor-level basins make it easier for them to perform their foot-washing ritual.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has pressed government agencies and businesses to install the foot basins in restrooms.

The controversial Muslim lobby group advises employers to allow Muslim workers time to perform both the washing ritual and prayer, which “is usually about 15 minutes,” according to a pamphlet CAIR publishes called, “An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices.”

The Islamic purification ritual, known in Arabic as “wudu,” involves a 10-step process, which includes:

  1. Praising Allah while washing both hands up to the wrist three times, making sure that the water reaches between fingers and under rings.
  2. Rinsing out the mouth thoroughly three times, using the right hand (the one not used for cleaning private parts) to bring the water to the mouth.
  3. Snorting water into the nostrils from the right hand, three times, to cleanse them of demons that Muslims believe reside there, clearing the passages of any mucous using the left hand.
  4. Washing off the tip of the nose with the left hand.
  5. Washing the entire face three times from right ear to left ear.
  6. Continuing to wash from forehead to throat.
  7. Washing the right arm and then the left arm, three times, from the wrist up to the elbow, removing watches.
  8. Moving wetted palms over the head from the top of the forehead to the back of the head.
  9. Passing the wetted tips of the fingers into the grooves and holes of both ears, and also passing the wetted thumbs behind the ears and ear lobes.
  10. Finally, washing both feet to the ankles starting with the right foot, including between the toes, then reciting: “Ash-hadu an la ilaha illal lahu wa ashhadu anna Muammadan ‘abduhu wa rasuluh” ? meaning there is no god but Allah and he has no partners, and Muhammad is his servant and messenger.

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April 26, 2007

EGYPT: CONVERTED BACK COPTS STAY MUSLIM

Cairo, 26 April (AKI) – The ten Egyptian Coptic Christians, who after having converted to Islam decided to return to their original faith, will remain Muslims at least on paper for the rest of their lives. A Cairo court has ruled that the ministry of the interior is not obliged to issue them new identity documents. The question of religious belief in Egypt often presents itself as an adminsitrative rather than a spiritual issue given that every Egyptian has an ID card which states his or her religion.

It is precisely for this reason that the ten Copt converts, after having rejected Islam and returned to Christianity, with a public ceremony, asked the ministry for new ID documents. But the ministry refused, on the grounds that according to Sharia law it was impossible to renounce the Islamic faith.

The law based on the Koran in fact forbids the faithful from passing from one religious creed to another and anyone who pronounces the “Shahada” or declaration of faith will be considered a Muslim forever.

The sentence handed down late Wednesday by a Cairo court explained that “the tribunal cannot uphold the request of the citizens” who were calling on the judiciary to force the government to issue new documents as “neither this nor other tribunals are able to see into the depths of the heart of a man, where only God can arrive.”

The Copt community in Egypt numbers some nine million people and makes up an estimated ten percent of the Egyptian population which is majority Muslim.

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March 31, 2007

Rallies planned against ‘Islamofascism’

The following are locations across the nation where rallies will take place on March 31st against Islamic extremism and against the radical home grown terror support organization CAIR. Check this list for new additions. Also, for those interested, beautiful 3ft X 5ft United American Committee flags are available as a gift to those who contribute $25 or more to the UAC. Contributions to the UAC, a 501c(3) organization are tax deductible. Flags will be shipped priority mail the following day.

West Coast:

Southern California:
See the press release for this rally
In front of CAIR’s Southern California Office
We will be hanging an effigy of bin Laden
Location: 2180 W. Crescent Ave. Anaheim, CA 92801
Time: 1:00 PM
Contact: losangeles@unitedamericancommittee.org
Washington State:
In front of CAIR’s Seattle Office
Location: 9594 1st Avenue NE, Seattle WA
Time: 1:00 PM
Contact: washington@unitedamericancommittee.org
East Coast:

New York – NYC: GROUND ZERO
MAIN RALLY AGAINST ISLAMOFASCISM DAY RALLY – BE THERE!
Location: Ground Zero – World Trade Center
Time: 12 Noon – 2 PM
Contact: newyork@unitedamericancommittee.org
Florida – Orlando:
Location: The corner of Hwy 50(Colonial Drive) and Bumby.
Time: 1:00 PM
Contact: florida@unitedamericancommittee.org
Massachusetts – Boston:
Location: Boston Common
Tremont St. in front of the Constitution memorial and across from Lowes movie theater.
Time: 1:00 – 3:00 PM
Contact: boston@unitedamericancommittee.org
Midwest:

Missouri – Columbia:
Location: Post Office on E 500 block of Walnut Street, across the street on the sidewalk.
Time: 9:45am to 11am.
Contact: ltw03y@hotmail.com

____

United American Committee
P.O. Box 80325
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688
http://www.UnitedAmericanCommittee.org
Stay in touch with the online UAC community at:
http://www.JihadChat.com

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March 21, 2007 04:00am

Two women to be stoned for adultery, says Amnesty From correspondents in Khartoum, Sudan

TWO Sudanese women were sentenced to death by stoning for adultery after a trial in which they had no lawyer and which used Arabic, not their first language, the rights group Amnesty International said.

Sadia Idriss Fadul was sentenced on February 13 and Amouna Abdallah Daldoum on March 6 and their sentences could be carried out at any time, the London-based group said.

North Sudan implements Islamic sharia law.

“The women had no lawyer during their trial and were not able to defend themselves, as their first languages are those of their ethnic groups,” Amnesty said.

Both women are from non-Arab tribes but the proceedings were in Arabic and no interpreter was provided, Amnesty said. Their trial took place in central AlGezira state.

“One of the women, Sadia Idriss Fadul, has one of her children with her in prison,” Amnesty said.

Faysal el-Bagir, a Sudanese human rights activist, said sentences of death by stoning were rare, “but we have heard that in this area there have been other such judgments”.

The male accused in ms Fadul’s case was let off because there was not enough evidence against him. Witnesses are usually required to gain a conviction and forensic tests are not normally used in such cases.

Under Sudan’s penal code, anyone who is married and has sex outside wedlock shall be punished by execution by stoning. If they are unmarried, they are lashed, Amnesty said.

El-Bagir said that in another case in Sudan’s western Darfur region about two years ago, a woman sentenced to death by stoning had her punishment reduced to lashing after a public campaign by rights activists.

Amnesty opposes all forms of capital punishment.
Sudan’s justice ministry was unavailable for comment.

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March 14, 2007

Scrutiny Increases for a Group Advocating for Muslims in U.S.

By NEIL MacFARQUHAR

With violence across the Middle East fixing Islam smack at the center of the American political debate, an organization partly financed by donors closely identified with wealthy Persian Gulf governments has emerged as the most vocal advocate for American Muslims — and an object of wide suspicion.

Jim Wilson/The New York Times
Chronology of a Souring Relationship

The group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, defines its mission as spreading the understanding of Islam and protecting civil liberties. Its officers appear frequently on television and are often quoted in newspapers, and its director has met with President Bush. Some 500,000 people receive the group’s daily e-mail newsletter.

Yet a debate rages behind the scenes in Washington about the group, commonly known as CAIR, its financing and its motives. A small band of critics have made a determined but unsuccessful effort to link it to Hamas and Hezbollah, which have been designated as terrorist organizations by the State Department, and have gone so far as calling the group an American front for the two.

In the latest confrontation yesterday, CAIR held a panel discussion on Islam and the West in a Capitol meeting room despite demands by House Republicans that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, not allow the event. The Republicans called its members “terrorist apologists.”

Caley Gray, a spokesman for Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., a New Jersey Democrat who helped book the room, rejected that label in a phone interview and said CAIR held similar meetings when Congress was controlled by Republicans. Still, Mr. Gray called back to specify that Mr. Pascrell did not endorse all of the group’s positions.

Last fall, Senator Barbara Boxer of California issued a routine Certificate of Appreciation to the organization representative in Sacramento, but she quickly revoked it when critics assailed her on the Web under headlines like “Senators for Terror.”

“There are things there I don’t want to be associated with,” Ms. Boxer said later of the revocation, explaining that her California office had not vetted the group sufficiently.

CAIR and its supporters say its accusers are a small band of people who hate Muslims and deal in half-truths. Ms. Boxer’s decision to revoke the Sacramento commendation provoked an outcry from organizations that vouch for the group’s advocacy, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the California Council of Churches.

“They have been a leading organization that has advocated for civil rights and civil liberties in the face of fear and intolerance, in the face of religious and ethnic profiling,” said Maya Harris, the executive director of the A.C.L.U. of Northern California.

Government officials in Washington said they were not aware of any criminal investigation of the group. More than one described the standards used by critics to link CAIR to terrorism as akin to McCarthyism, essentially guilt by association.

“Of all the groups, there is probably more suspicion about CAIR, but when you ask people for cold hard facts, you get blank stares,” said Michael Rolince, a retired F.B.I. official who directed counterterrorism in the Washington field office from 2002 to 2005.

Outreach to all Muslims via groups they support is an important aspect of ensuring that extremists cannot get a foothold here as they have in Europe, Mr. Rolince said.

The cloud kicked up by the constant scrutiny is such that spokesmen at several federal agencies refused to comment about the group and some spoke only on the condition of anonymity.

After a brief interview, Ms. Boxer declined to answer additional questions about the commendation to the Sacramento representative, Basim Elkarra. A spokeswoman, Natalie Ravitz, said in an e-mail message that the senator had decided “to put this entire incident behind her.”

Joe Kaufman, who Ms. Boxer’s office said first drew her attention to CAIR’s reputation, is the founder of a Web site that tracks what he calls the group’s extremism, cairwatch.com. Other critics include the Investigative Project, a conservative group that tries to identify terrorist organizations, and the Middle East Forum, a conservative research center that says its goal is to promote American interests in the region.

“You can’t fight a war on terrorism directly when you are acting with a terror front,” said Mr. Kaufman, who advocates shutting down the organization.

Founded in 1994, CAIR had eight chapters at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the group, but has grown to some 30 chapters as American Muslims have felt unjustly scrutinized ever since.

Broadly summarized, critics accuse CAIR of pursuing an extreme Islamist political agenda and say at least five figures with ties to the group or its leadership have either been convicted or deported for links to terrorist groups. They include Mousa Abu Marzook, a Hamas leader deported in 1997 after the United States failed to produce any evidence directly linking him to any attacks.

There were no charges linked to CAIR in any of the cases involved, and law enforcement officials said that in the current climate, any hint of suspicious behavior would have resulted in a racketeering charge.

David Johnston contributed reporting.

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March 6, 2007

Straw – Muslim women should learn English before they get a visa

By STEVE DOUGHTY

Mr Straw said he would be raising the issue with the Education Secretary Alan Johnson

Asian women should be forbidden to settle in England unless they speak English, Jack Straw has warned.

The Leader of the Commons said that an immigration rule requiring newly-arrived Asian women to learn English was “one of the things we should be looking at”.

More here:
• Anger as Straw tells Muslim women to take off their veils
• Brown reignites veil row by backing Straw
• Straw defiant despite growing veils row

The call plunged Mr Straw into a fresh controversy over his hardening views on the need for migrants – and especially Muslim migrants – to fit better into society.

Last autumn he provoked widespread indignation when he disclosed that he asks Muslim women to remove full-face veils in constituency meetings, and later said he would like the veil to be abandoned entirely.

Mr Straw’s call for firmer immigration rules is the second hint inside a fortnight from Government sources that some form of pressure for newcomers to take up English is under consideration.

Last month the Commission on Integration and Cohesion, the inquiry set up by Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly to investigate the effects of immigration and the spread of Islamic radicalism, said that men or women arriving in Britain as spouses of people already here should be asked to show they have a mastery of the language.

Mr Straw told a conference in his Blackburn constituency: “One of the things we should be looking at is the subject of Asian women speaking English and whether we need to engage them and require them to speak English before they are given a settlement visa.”

He also singled out Muslims as a group divided from the rest of society. “There is a big cultural divide between Muslims and the rest of us, more than say with the Afro-Caribbean community.”

A law demanding that new migrants learn English would fit with the Labour leadership’s new push for greater integration and its abandonment of the doctrine of multiculturalism, under which different groups were encouraged to pursue their own separate development.

But any laws which singled out women, Asians, or spouses would be certain to fall foul of other Labour laws, in particular the Human Rights Act which protects the right to family life and to marriage, and which forbids discrimination on grounds of sex, race, religion or language.

Mr Straw’s critics said the Government should do more to provide English teaching for those who speak other languages.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Greaves said: “You cannot discriminate against people who might speak English before they come to the country.

“What you have to do is make a good provision for free classes in English for anybody who may not have English as a first language and wants to learn.”

He added: “The Government are trying to be authoritarian while at the same time restricting the number of English classes. People who want to live in this country would be happy to learn English if they had the facilities to do so.”

Anjum Anwar of the Lancashire Council of Mosques said: “Of course Jack wants everyone to learn English but the government is about to demolish funding for English classes.

“It’s all very well demanding something from the public but not supporting them.”

Blackburn local councillor Yusuf Jan-Vermani said: “I support doing something about it because it is important that people can speak the language when they go to the doctor or go shopping.

“There is an issue with people coming from India and Pakistan, but we also have Poles not speaking English. They all should learn our language before they come.”

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March 6, 2007

Saudi Kidnap, Rape Victim Faces Lashing for ‘Crime’ of Being Alone With Man Not Related to Her

A 19-year-old Saudi woman who was kidnapped, beaten and gang raped by seven men who then took photos of their victim and threatened to kill her, was sentenced under the country’s Islamic-based law to 90 lashes for the “crime” of being alone with a man not related to her.
The woman is appealing to Saudi King Abdullah to intervene in the controversial case.

“I ask the king to consider me as one of his own daughters and have mercy on me and set me free from the 90 lashes,” the woman said in an emotional interview published Monday in the Saudi Gazette.

“I was shocked at the verdict. I couldn’t believe my ears. Ninety lashes! Ninety lashes!” the woman, identified only as “G,” told the English-language newspaper.

Five months after the harsh judgment, her sentence has yet to be carried out, “G” said she waits in fear every day for the phone call telling her to submit to authorities to carry out her punishment.

Lashes are usually spread over several days. About 50 lashes are given at a time.

The woman’s ordeal began a year ago when she was blackmailed into meeting a man who threatened to tell her family they were having a relationship outside wedlock, which is illegal in the desert kingdom, according to a report in The Scotsman newspaper.

She met the man at a shopping mall and, after driving off together, the blackmailer’s car was stopped by two other cars bearing men wielding knives and meat cleavers.

During the next three hours, the woman was raped 14 times by her seven captors.

One of the men took pictures of her naked with his mobile phone and threatened to blackmail her with them.

Back at home in a town near the eastern city of Qatif, the young woman did not tell her family of her ordeal. Nor did she inform the authorities, fearing the rapist would circulate the pictures of her naked. She also attempted suicide.

Five of the rapists were arrested and given jail terms ranging from 10 months to five years. The prosecutor had asked for the death penalty for the men.

The Saudi justice ministry, however, said rape could not be proved because there were no witnesses and the men had recanted confessions they made during interrogation.

The judges, basing their decision on Islamic law, also decided to sentence the woman and her original blackmailer to lashes for being alone together in his car.

The Saudi Gazette and The Scotsman contributed to this report.

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March 4, 2007

Arab Bank accused of funding terrorists

The influential Mideast firm denies having knowingly financed Palestinian militants, including suicide bombers.

By Josh Meyer, Times Staff Writer
March 4, 2007

WASHINGTON — A three-year investigation into the activities of one of the Middle East’s largest and most influential banks is producing extensive evidence of how tens of millions of dollars have flowed from wealthy Saudi Arabians to Palestinian groups that allegedly used some of the money to pay off suicide bombers and their survivors.

The information being turned up by government inquiries and lawyers suing Arab Bank “will give people a better understanding of the way money moves in that part of the world to support Hamas” and other militant groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, said Stephen Kroll, a terrorism finance specialist and until recently counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

“It’s important in focusing the public’s attention on the issue of what is and what is not acceptable for banks to be involved in,” Kroll said.

The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into the New York branch of Arab Bank, which is based in Jordan, and its financial links to organizations and individuals accused of terrorism, according to three former U.S. counter-terrorism officials.

In 2005, the bank agreed to pay the federal government $24 million in fines for violating U.S. laws aimed at preventing terrorist financing, including failing to report suspicious transactions.

The bank is also being sued in federal court in Brooklyn by Americans and Israelis injured in suicide bombings or other fighting in Israel and the occupied territories, and by the relatives of others who were killed. No trial date has been set, but assuming the cases go to trial, they could establish ground rules for what obligations banks have in handling money bound for militant groups. They could also provide an unusually detailed and public look at the flow of money from Saudi donors to Palestinian groups that the U.S. and Israel list as terrorist.

Lawyers suing Arab Bank accuse the firm of facilitating acts of terrorism by providing accounts and other financial services to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and similar groups. Arab Bank also acted as the administrator of a plan in which suicide bombers and others designated as “martyrs” by the Palestinian Authority and other organizations were compensated for their actions on a sliding scale, based on the extent of their injuries, according to documents filed in the cases. The lawsuits charge that the payments — and thus Arab Bank — provided an incentive for suicide bombings.

Arab Bank officials deny such charges and say they have never knowingly supported acts of terrorism. Bank officials say their agreement to pay the fine in 2005 was not an acknowledgment of any wrongdoing.

Bank officials say they provide an important financial service in the impoverished Palestinian territories and that they were merely acting as intermediaries between banks representing Saudi donors and Palestinian organizations and individuals who were being compensated for suffering at Israeli hands.

In one instance in which plaintiffs’ lawyers allege that Arab Bank maintained an account for Hamas in Beirut, bank officials said that once they learned of the suspicious account, they froze it and reported it to authorities.

Arab Bank also said that it was primarily transferring funds sent to it from other banks on behalf of legitimate Saudi donors that have not been linked to terrorist activities.

But the department said that after the government designated these groups as terrorist, the bank failed to go back and review its accounts to see what dealings it had had with them and report any suspicious activities.

Some of the initial allegations in the lawsuits, most of which were filed in 2004, were based on documents seized by the Israeli military during raids on charities, businesses and other locations in the West Bank and Gaza in 2002. Among the documents were records indicating that Arab Bank provided financial services for Hamas and at least 41 organizations and individuals allegedly related to it or to Islamic Jihad.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers Gary Osen and Michael Elsner used those records as a jumping-off point for a wider investigation in which they have gained access to tens of thousands of financial records from Arab Bank.

The records detail financial transactions that began in 2000 with the start of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising. Saudi government officials created two special fundraising committees to help Palestinians battle Israeli forces and otherwise resist the occupation, according to court documents.

One of them, the Saudi Committee for Aid to the Al Quds Intifada, decreed that the life of anyone who died as a “martyr” in the conflict with Israel was worth 20,000 Saudi riyals, about $5,300 at the time. The committee began wiring that sum into accounts that families were instructed to set up at Arab Bank branches, the lawsuits allege. The average Palestinian salary is about $3,000 a year.

In all, the Saudi Committee made about 200,000 wire transfers for the Palestinian cause, totaling more than $90 million, Shukry Bishara, Arab Bank’s chief banking officer, said in a court declaration. Much of that money went to pay for hospitals and social welfare programs, or to compensate people injured or imprisoned — or the families of those killed — in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But the money also included an undetermined amount paid to the families of suicide bombers, and those injured or imprisoned by Israel, according to the lawsuits.

The plaintiffs allege that bank officials knew that those listed as “martyrs” included suicide bombers because it was publicly advertised. They cited a Feb. 10, 2001, edition of the Saudi newspaper Al Jazirah in which the Saudi Committee listed the names of Palestinian martyrs, including those killed in suicide bombings, whose families received payments.

Several lawmakers and Bush administration officials involved in the investigation of Arab Bank have expressed concerns about its activities.

At one House Finance Committee hearing in May 2005, Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey said that during his visit to the West Bank city of Ramallah to discuss the issue, the Arab Bank manager for the Palestinian territories told him that he “had not filed a single suspicious activity report in the past two years across all the Arab Bank branches in the West Bank and in Gaza.”

“It appears that such controls were indeed sorely lacking at Arab Bank across all of their global operation,” Levey said.

To win their case, the plaintiffs’ lawyers would have to prove that Arab Bank knew that it was doing business with terrorist individuals or entities.

In 2005, the Treasury Department and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency found that Arab Bank’s New York branch had transferred funds between 2001 and 2004 for organizations that were later designated by the U.S. as terrorist groups. The Treasury Department said the bank had “largely complied” with the requirement to stop the transfers after the groups were identified.

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March 3, 2007

Muslims accused of blackmail to make student girls convert

Nicola Woolcock
Radical Muslims are being accused of blackmailing young Hindu and Sikh women into changing religion in “groomed conversions” on campuses.

The men aggressively target vulnerable university students by using the fear of being dishonoured to force them to convert, community leaders have told The Times. Many befriend their victims, then threaten to tell their families that they are in a sexual relationship with a Muslim. Some teenagers are said to have been drugged and photographed in compromising positions.

Many comply because they are so afraid of shaming their parents or being rejected by their communities.

Police are aware of the problem. Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, recently attended a Hindu conference where the issue was raised. But police are powerless to act unless incidents are reported. This rarely happens because the stigma of a child converting to Islam often silences Sikh and Hindu parents.

Community elders say that the practice is widespread but their estimates vary from 100 annual incidents nationwide to 120 in the past few months in the South East alone.

Ranjeet Singh, of the British Organisation of Sikh Students, said: “There are cases of aggressive techniques, of drugging and of rape, of the man taking photos and blackmailing the girls into converting.

“They know that by dishonouring the girls, they will make their families disown them. In the past few months there have been about 120 cases in Luton and the South East. It’s a problem that has been going on for a while, but a lot of people are reluctant to come forward and there’s not much being done.

“It’s not the whole Muslim community, it’s extremist individuals. Some girls are very innocent and vulnerable when they go to university. Then they are befriended by these men. We know of some whose lives have been ruined.”

Some of the young women have suffered physical violence. Others have said that the men claimed to have been paid to convert their victims.

Ramesh Kallidai, secretary-general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, said: “The main problem is these girls feel very vulnerable and intimidated by these men. They talk about it to their friends, who tell us what is happening, but don’t want to speak to the police. Some families are completely broken apart by it. It becomes difficult to admit in public.

“One girl was beaten up when she refused to convert. She is petrified. She only spoke to one other girl about it, who contacted us.”

One Sikh organisation sets up telephone helplines and arranges visits to temples to raise awareness of the problem. Its leader, who wishes his identity and the group’s to remain anonymous, said: “This is very much taboo. These issues have been going on for many years and come to the boil at university.

“I deal with many very serious cases. There are horrific examples of abuse and blackmail, with men saying they’re going to tell the girl’s parents. Then they’re pretty much trapped. We call it groomed conversions. Some of the girls go through with it because they feel they have no choice.

“The men start a relationship with them, with the agenda of conversion down the line. Sometimes they take a picture of her in a compromising position. It’s so easy with camera phones. An 18-year-old girl ends up in a situation that she can’t control.”

He said that the extremists were exploiting the Sikh community’s tendency to treat conversion as a grave dishonour, adding: “That’s a cultural mindset we need to tackle. It’s the worst thing you could face — worse than bankruptcy or losing your job.”

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman confirmed that officers had attended a Hindu security conference last month. She said: “We are aware of it as an issue that concerns the Hindu community but are not aware, without further research, of any specific incidents reported to police. We would encourage anyone who has been targeted in this way to seek help.”

Have your say

This problem with conversion is quite prolific in my city , birmingham , ive spoken to lots of hindu, sikh and christian families who have “lost” their daughters to this type of acitvity . I currently work in social services and ive dealt with numerous cases of muslim males , primarily pakistani who have targetted these girls at both colleges, universities and nightclubs , they often target girls at a very young age and form relationships with them while they are naive and misguided ? you only have to look at area’s like handsworth, smethwick and wolverhampton where so many of these situations occur ? the fact is the indian community do absolutley nothing to prevent this type of expolitation happening ? our males are weak and to tolerant to this ? imagine a muslim girl dating a sikh or hindu guy there would be severe trouble from members of her community ? the problem is many indian guys socialise with muslim guys who use there friendship to take advantage of these girls ? sad

kalpesh , birmingham, england

I agree with Aman Johal’s comment’s. The solution is education. We need to educate our brother’s, sisters, children about our own religion…this will make them stronger within. The only way these people are able to convert others into Islam is that these people have no idea about their own religion.

How can anybody convert to another religion when they do not know about the religion they were born into???

Harjit Singh, Birmingham, UK,

i dnt think radical muslims are the partial problem. I think its the lack of education (about religion) between the sikh and hindu population. I live with muslim girls and their conviction to there religion is awesome. it only made me want to read more and more about sikhism. If we make girls stronger from within, about their religion and about themselves – then we wouldnt have this ‘problem’. Its no good to disown our sisters or daughters because of these situations – most of them convert back!! Help them realise what they have done. Neither, Islam, sikhism, hinduism, and christianity are bad religions – they all teach the truth. I hope this news doesnt promote hatred among sikhs and hindus towards muslims. Kind Regards

Aman Johal, Leicester, England

Read all 7 comments

Have your say

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February 27, 2007

Canadian Muslim girl ejected from soccer game for not taking off hijab

Tuesday February 27, 2007
MONTREAL (AP) An 11-year-old Muslim girl was ejected from a soccer game for refusing to take off her hijab, reigniting Quebec’s debate over reasonable accommodation for minorities and even prompting comments from Premier Jean Charest.

Quebec’s soccer federation said Asmahan Mansour of Ottawa was given the choice of taking off her hijab or not playing in a Sunday tournament in nearby Laval. It says the hijab an Islamic veil or head scarf violated a no-heargear rule set down by the sport’s governing body for safety reasons.

But others have slammed the referee’s decision, saying it’s just another example of how Quebec is trying to get immigrants to toe a cultural line.

Maria Mansour, the girl’s mother, told CBC Radio that she thought the incident was racially motivated.

“Strongly, I do think so, because soccer is soccer whether it’s in Ontario or Quebec or Europe and it’s not right at all to not allow a Muslim girl who’s proud of her religion to play soccer, a sport she loves so much,” Mansour said.

“It took a lot out of me to see my daughter in the middle being humiliated in front of a lot of people,” she said.

The Quebec Soccer Federation noted the referee was also a Muslim.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest, himself a one-time soccer player, weighed in on the issue Monday.

“My understanding is that the referee applied the rules of the soccer federation and that’s why that decision was made,” Charest said.

The Muslim Council of Montreal said the Ontario Soccer Association allows players to wear religious clothing on the field and urged the Quebec federation to respect the religious rights of its players.

“Asking minority groups to integrate cannot be equated with forcing them to assimilate and stripping them of their identity and rights,” said council spokesman Salam Elmenyawi.

The council also criticized Charest, saying he failed to address the issue properly.

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February 22, 2007

Egyptian blogger jailed for insulting Islam

Abdel Karim Suleiman, 22-year-old former law student who has been in custody since November, is first blogger to stand trial in Egypt for his Internet writings. Alexandria court sentenced him to four years in jail

Reuters Published: 02.22.07, 18:08 / Israel News

An Alexandria court convicted an Egyptian blogger on Thursday for insulting both Islam and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and sentenced him to four years in jail over his writings on the Internet.

Abdel Karim Suleiman, a 22-year-old former law student who has been in custody since November, was the first blogger to stand trial in Egypt for his Internet writings. He was convicted in connection with eight articles he wrote since 2004.

Rights groups and opposition bloggers have watched Suleiman’s case closely, and said they feared a conviction could set a legal precedent limiting Internet freedom in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country.

The London-based rights group Amnesty International said in a statement: “This is yet another slap in the face of freedom of expression in Egypt.” The group considers Suleiman to be a prisoner of conscience, jailed solely for peacefully expressing his opinion, the statement added.

The Paris-based press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders said the sentence was “a disgrace” and the United Nations should respond by disqualifying Egypt from hosting an Internet Governance Forum in 2009.

“It is time the international community took a stand on Egypt’s repeated violations of press freedom and the rights of Internet users,” a statement added.

Major forum

A fellow blogger who runs the “Rantings of a Sandmonkey” blog said: “It’s a dangerous precedent because it will impact the only free space available now, which is the Internet. The charges were undefined and vague.”

“Tell me. What does insulting the president mean? What is the difference between criticising religion and being in contempt of religion?” he added, asking to remain anonymous.

The Internet has emerged as a major forum for critics of the Egyptian government to express their views in a country where the states runs large newspapers and main television stations.

While Suleiman was the first blogger to go on trial for the content of his writings, other opposition bloggers have been arrested periodically during street protests and then held for weeks or months before being released.

Suleiman, a Muslim and a liberal, has not denied writing the articles but said they merely represented his own views. His lawyers said they planned to appeal the verdict, and one member of the defense team described the trial as unfair.

One of Suleiman’s articles said that al-Azhar in Cairo, one of the most prominent seats of Sunni Muslim learning, was promoting extreme ideas. Another article, headlined “The Naked Truth of Islam as I Saw it,” accused Muslims of savagery during clashes between Muslims and Christians in Alexandria in 2005.

He has also described some of the companions of the Muslim prophet Mohammad as “terrorists,” and has likened Mubarak to dictatorial pharaohs who ruled ancient Egypt.

“I was hoping that he would get a harsher sentence because he presented to the world a bad image of Egypt. There are things that one should not talk about, like religion and politics. He should have got a 10-year sentence,” said lawyer Nizar Habib, who attended the trial as a member of the public.

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February 11, 2007

Australian Leader: Al-Qaida Wants Obama

Prime Minister John Howard of Australia says al-Qaida is praying for an Obama victory

(AP) Australia’s conservative prime minister slammed Barack Obama on Sunday over his opposition to the Iraq war, a day after the first-term U.S. senator announced his intention to run for the White House in 2008.

Obama said Saturday at his campaign kickoff in Springfield, Ill., that one of the country’s first priorities should be ending the war in Iraq. He has also introduced a bill in the Senate to prevent President Bush from increasing American troop levels in Iraq and to remove U.S. combat forces from the country by March 31, 2008.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch Bush ally who has sent troops to Iraq and faces his own re-election bid later this year, said Obama’s proposals would spell disaster for the Middle East.

“I think that will just encourage those who want to completely destabilize and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and a victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for an Obama victory,” Howard said on Nine Network television.

“If I were running al-Qaida in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory, not only for Obama but also for the Democrats.”

Howard has defied widespread domestic opposition to the war, keeping about 1,400 Australian troops in and around Iraq, mostly in non-combat roles. He is seeking a fifth term later this year, and recent polls suggest voters are increasingly unhappy about his refusal to set a deadline for withdrawing Australian troops from the Middle East.

“You either rat on the ally or you stay with the ally,” he said. “If it’s all right for us to go, it’s all right for the Americans and the British to go, and if everybody goes, Iraq will descend into total civil war and there’ll be a lot of bloodshed.”

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs, traveling with the senator in Iowa, said that Howard’s words were misguided.

“The United States has sacrificed more than 3,000 brave young men and women and $400 billion, only to find ourselves mired in the middle of a sectarian civil war,” he said. “Even Republicans … know that more of the same is only going to attract more terrorists to Iraq and make our country less safe.”

Gibbs went on to say that Howard wasn’t in a position to be overly critical.

“If Prime Minister Howard truly believes what he says, perhaps his country should find its way to contribute more than just 1,400 troops so some American troops can come home,” he said. “It’s easy to talk tough when it’s not your country or your troops making the sacrifices.”

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February 7, 2007

Egypt cracks down on illegal Muslim group

By Heba Saleh in Cairo

Published: February 7 2007 20:30 | Last updated: February 7 2007 20:30

Egypt has referred the cases of forty members of the illegal Muslim Brotherhood to a military tribunal in a move which signals another escalation of the government’s crackdown against the group – the largest opposition force in the country.

Decisions by the military courts cannot be appealed and the authorities have not referred any Brotherhood members to a military trial since 2001.

Khairat El Shater, a wealthy businessman and the number three in the movement is among those facing trial. The authorities say that he and several other businessmen among the defendants bankrolled the Brotherhood’s activities.

The charges against them include money laundering and creating a militia.

“We condemn this unjust decision which does not respect the minimum rights of citizens and which uses unconstitutional means to deal with political adversaries,” said Mohamed Mahdi Akef, the leader of the Brotherhood in a statement issued Wedenesday.

The charges arise from actions by Islamist students at Al Azhar university who in December staged a parade in which they wore black hoods and carried out martial arts exercises during a protest against the rigging of student union elections.

Although the Brotherhood said the students had acted wrongly, the group’s opponents now accuse them of preparing for violence.

The Muslim Brotherhood is barred from contesting elections but independent candidates standing for it had managed to win a fifth of the seats in parliament in elections in 2005. The government now appears determined to prevent them from achieving any further gains.

Hosni Mubarak the president has presented to parliament draft constitutional amendments which would make it illegal to establish parties based on religion. Mr Mubarak, who recently described the Brotherhood as a threat to national security, also wants to change the electoral law to favour political parties over movements.

Many believe this will result in reducing or doing away completely with chances for independent candidates.

In recent weeks the Brotherhood has been the target of a new campaign of arrests in which some 260 people have been detained. This has been accompanied by a sustained wave of attacks againt the movement in both the state media and private media.

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February 4, 2007

20 face lash, prison for dancing in Saudi Arabia

Judge sentences foreigners for partying, alcohol, unmarrieds mingling

Updated: 4:48 p.m. PT Feb 4, 2007
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – A Saudi Arabian judge sentenced 20 foreigners to receive lashes and spend several months in prison after convicting them of attending a party where alcohol was served and men and women danced, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The defendants were among 433 foreigners, including some 240 women, arrested by the kingdom’s religious police for attending the party in Jiddah, the state-guided newspaper Okaz said. It did not identify the foreigners, give their nationalities or say when the party took place.

Judge Saud al-Boushi sentenced the 20 to prison terms of three to four months and ordered them to receive an unspecified number of lashes, the newspaper said. They have the right to appeal, it added.

The prosecutor general charged the 20 with “drinking, arranging for impudent party, mixed dancing and shooting a video for the party,” Okaz said.

The paper said the rest of those arrested were awaiting trial.

Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam under which it bans alcohol and meetings between unrelated men and women.

The religious police, a force resented by many Saudis for interfering in personal lives, enjoys wide powers. Its officers roam malls, markets, universities and other public places looking for such infractions as unrelated men and women mingling, men skipping Islam’s five daily prayers and women with strands of hair showing from under their veil.

In May, the Interior Ministry restricted the powers of the religious police to just arresting suspects, because the police sometimes had held people incommunicado and insisted on taking part in ensuing investigations.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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February 4, 2007

Strain ripples to U.S. Muslims

Old and new tensions between Sunnis and Shiites are blamed for vandalism and conflict.
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/
news/nation/16617554.htm

The New York Times
DEARBORN, Mich. | Twice recently, vandals have shattered windows at three mosques and a dozen businesses popular among Shiite Muslims along Warren Avenue, the spine of the Arab community here.

Although police have arrested no one, most in Dearborn’s Iraqi Shiite community blame the Sunni Muslims.

“The Shiites were very happy that they killed Saddam, but the Sunnis were in tears,” said Aqeel al-Tamimi, 34, an immigrant Iraqi truck driver and a Shiite. “These people look at us like we sold our country to America.”

Escalating tensions between Sunnis and Shiites across the Middle East are rippling through some American Muslim communities and have been blamed for vandalism and student confrontations.

Political splits between those for and against the American invasion of Iraq fuel some of the animosity, but it is also a fight among Muslims about who represents Islam.

Long before the vandalism in Dearborn and Detroit, feuds had been simmering on some college campuses. Some Shiite students said they had faced repeated discrimination.

“A microcosm of what is happening in Iraq happened in New Jersey because people couldn’t put aside their differences,” said Sami Elmansoury, a Sunni Muslim and former vice president of the Islamic Society at Rutgers University.

Although the war in Iraq is one crucial cause, some students and experts on sectarianism also attribute the fissure to the significant growth in the Muslim-American population over the past few decades.

Some Muslim communities are so large that the majority Sunnis and minority Shiites now maintain their own mosques, schools and social clubs. Many Muslim students first meet someone from the other branch of their faith at college.
——————————————————————————–

The religious split in Islam

Shiites constitute about 15 percent of the more than 1.3 billion Muslims, and they are thought to be proportionally represented among America’s estimated 6 million Muslims.

Sectarian tensions mushroomed during the current Muslim month of Muharram, when Shiites commemorate the death of Hussein, a grandson of the prophet Muhammad.

Hussein was killed in seventh-century disputes over who would rule the faithful, a schism that gave birth to the Sunni and Shiite factions.

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Jan 21, 2007

British Airways worker can now wear her cross

A British Airways check-in worker who was banned from wearing a cross to work said last night she was “elated” that the airline was changing its uniform policy to allow staff to wear a “symbol of faith” openly.

Nadia Eweida, 55, from Twickenham, south west London, said the decision to allow people to wear a cross or other symbols of their faith was long overdue.

Miss Eweida had refused to return to work at Heathrow Airport after bosses told her she could not wear the necklace. She lost an appeal against the decision in November but was told she did have the right to a second appeal.

Speaking from her home she said she had not received any formal notification from BA about the change to its uniform policy but welcomed the announcement that the airline had now changed its position.
“I don’t think any other religion other than Christianity would have been treated so badly,” she added.

Miss Eweida said she wanted to thank the British public and Christian groups who had voiced their support for her stand and said if it had not been for the publicity she received her case would have been discarded.
When the row over Miss Eweida’s cross erupted in October last year BA said it had not banned religious jewellery, but that it had to be hidden from view.

The airline said it had offered Miss Eweida a non-uniformed job where she could wear the cross, but she had turned it down.

Miss Eweida claimed she had worn the small cross throughout her seven years with BA and accused the firm of religious discrimination.

The airline came under immense pressure to change its uniform policy after Miss Eweida lost her appeal.

Leading union and religious figures criticised the airline over its stance and called on it to reconsider its position.

The Archbishop of York welcomed the airline’s decision.
Dr John Sentamu said: “I am grateful that BA has finally shown grace and magnanimity in this change of policy so as to enable their Christian employees to display their commitment to their faith.”

He added: “Nadia Eweida’s courage and commitment to her Lord is a challenge to us all that love and loyalty to Christ conquers in the end.”

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Jan 20, 2007

WW III already begun says Israeli Spy Chief

Former head of Israel’s intelligence service tells Portuguese newspaper it would take at least 25 years before battle against fundamentalist terrorism is won; says nuclear strike by Muslim terrorists ‘very likely’

AFP http://www.ynetnews.com/Ext/Comp/ArticleLayout/
CdaArticlePrintPreview/1,2506,L-3357552,00.html

A third World War is already underway between Islamic militancy and the West but most people do not realize it, the former head of Israel’s intelligence service Mossad said in an interview published Saturday in Portugal.

‘We are in the midst of a third World War,’ former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy told weekly newspaper Expresso.

‘The world does not understand. A person walks through the streets of Tel Aviv, Barcelona or Buenos Aires and doesn’t get the sense that there is a war going on,’ said Halevy who headed Mossad between 1998 and 2003.

‘During World War I and II the entire world felt there was a war. Today no one is conscious of it. From time to time there is a terrorist attack in Madrid, London and New York and then everything stays the same.’

Violence by Islamic militants has already disrupted international travel and trade just as in the previous two world conflicts, he said.

Halevy, who was raised in war-time London, predicted it would take at least 25 years before the battle against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism is won and during this time a nuclear strike by Islamic militants was likely.

‘It doesn’t have to be something very sophisticated, It doesn’t have to be the latest nuclear technology, it can be something simple like a dirty bomb which instead of killing millions only kills tens of thousands,’ he said.

Halevy served as an envoy for former Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres and is a former Israeli ambassador to the European Union.

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Jan 12, 2007

Suspected Greek militants fire rocket at U.S. embassy

By Karolos Grohmann 1 hour, 49 minutes ago

ATHENS (Reuters) – Suspected leftist guerrillas fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the U.S. embassy in Athens on Friday, causing minor damage, in the boldest attack staged by left-wing militants in years.

The blast shattered windows and woke up nearby residents in the central Athens area at 5:58 AM (0358 GMT) but no one was hurt, police said.
The grenade was launched just across the street from the heavily guarded embassy building, which is surrounded by a 3-metre-high (9-feet-high) steel fence, and authorities were dealing with the attack as a serious act of violence.

Apparently aimed at the U.S. seal on the building’s facade, the attack was the worst assault on the mission, often the target of Greek protests and demonstrations, in a decade.

“There are one or two anonymous phone calls which claim that the Revolutionary Struggle was behind the attack,” Public Order Minister Byron Polydoras told reporters outside the embassy. “Most likely, it is an act by local perpetrators.”

The leftist guerrilla group has emerged as the most serious domestic threat since the dismantling of the deadly November 17 group in 2002, adopting its anti-U.S. polemics in proclamations usually sent to Greek media.

It emerged with a 2003 bomb attack on a court building and has since claimed an assassination attempt against Greece’s culture minister in May and a bomb at the Economy Ministry which wounded two people 13 months ago.

“I am treating this as a very serious attack,” U.S. ambassador to Athens, Charles Ries, told reporters. “The embassy was attacked in a senseless act of violence.”

Police said an east European-made RPG-18 rocket launcher was used to fire the grenade, which landed inside a toilet on the third floor, slightly damaging the glass facade and ceiling. The portable launcher has not been found.

“No other group in Greece has the expertise to launch such a an attack,” a police official said. He said Revolutionary Struggle usually claimed responsibility with calls to media but this time the two calls came to the embassy’s security firm.

ATTACK CONDEMNED

“It was a huge explosion, the ground shook. I woke up and rushed to the balcony to see what happened,” a local resident, who was not identified, told Greek television.

Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyanni, whose husband Pavlos Bakoyannis was gunned down by November 17 in 1989, went to the embassy to meet Ries and condemn the attack.

“The minister sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, unequivocally condemning the attack and declaring the government’s absolute will to root out terrorism,” Foreign Ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said.

Greek opposition parties denounced the attack, saying it only hurt Greece’s interests and its image abroad while a government spokesman said Greece would hunt down the attackers.

In February 1996, November 17 claimed responsibility for a rocket attack at the back of the embassy compound, which damaged three diplomatic cars and some surrounding buildings.

Once Greece’s biggest security threat, the group was dismantled two years before the Athens 2004 Olympics. It had staged hundreds of bombings, shootings and rocket attacks, and killed U.S. and other foreign diplomats in Greece.

In November last year, Greek riot police fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators marching to the embassy, chanting slogans including “Bush the butcher, out of Iraq” and “The USA is the real terrorist.”

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Jan 8, 2007

Shahawar Matin Siraj Sentenced To Thirty Years Of Imprisonment For Conspiring To Place Explosives At The 34th Street Subway Station In New York

NEW YORK, Jan. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Roslynn R. Mauskopf, U.S.attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced that Shahawar
Matin Siraj was sentenced today to 30 years in prison for his role in conspiring to plant explosive devices at the 34th Street subway station in
Manhattan in August 2004, just prior to the start of the Republican National Convention at nearby Madison Square Garden. The sentencing
proceeding was held before U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon at the U.S. Courthouse in Brooklyn. Siraj was convicted by a federal jury in Brooklyn
on May 24, 2006, following a five-week trial.

Siraj is the second individual convicted for participating in this plot. In Oct. 2004, James Elshafay pleaded guilty to conspiracy to damage
or destroy a subway station by means of an explosive, and testified against Siraj at his trial. Elshafay’s sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

At trial, the government proved that Siraj and Elshafay plotted to plant explosive devices at the Herald Square subway station in order to
disrupt commerce and transportation in New York City and damage the economy. The evidence included hours of secretly recorded conversations
between Siraj and Osama Eldawoody, an Egyptian nuclear engineer who became a paid informant for the New York City Police Department’s Intelligence Division, in which Siraj expressed his hatred for America and discussed his desire to place explosives on various bridges and in subway stations in New York City, including the subway station at 34th Street. In furtherance of their scheme, on Aug. 21, 2004, Siraj and Elshafay inspected the station, and later drew diagrams of the location in order to help them place a bomb. When arrested on Aug. 27, 2004, neither Siraj nor Elshafay possessed any explosive material.

“Thanks to the extraordinary work of law enforcement, the defendants’ plot did not advance beyond the planning stage, and the public was never at risk,” stated U.S. Attorney Mauskopf. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to stop would-be terrorists before they act, and will apply all available resources to secure the safety of our residents.” Ms. Mauskopf praised the outstanding work of the New York City Police Department, and thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York Joint Terrorist Task Force for their assistance.

The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Todd Harrison and Marshall L. Miller of the Eastern District’s Violent Crimes and Terrorism Section.

On January 9th, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested Siraj’s family of illegal aliens. They are all members of DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving), a radical “open borders” group whose slogan is “No immigrant is illegal.” DRUM is currently fighting the detention and possible deportation of this family of illegals with Islamist terrorist ties!




2006 News

December 30, 2006

Boxer punches CAIR

posted at 11:03 am on December 30, 2006 by Bryan
http://hotair.com/archives/2006/12/30/boxer-punches-cair/

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) rescinds an award:

Dec. 29, 2006 – In a highly unusual move, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California has rescinded an award to an Islamic activist in her home state because of the man’s connections to a major American Muslim organization that recently has been courted by leading political figures and even the FBI.

Boxer’s office confirmed to NEWSWEEK that she has withdrawn a “certificate of accomplishment” to Sacramento activist Basim Elkarra after learning that he serves as an official with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). After directing her staff to look into CAIR, Boxer “expressed concern” about some past statements and actions by the group, as well as assertions by some law enforcement officials that it “gives aid to international terrorist groups,” according to Natalie Ravitz, the senator’s press spokeswoman.

Read the rest of the article. Sen. Boxer comes off as both knowledgeable and reasonable and open to changing her mind as facts warrant. CAIR, as is its wont, blamed Boxer’s move on the Joooos. Or, a Jewish blogger. The “Islamophobia” word makes an appearance too. So does “McCarthy.” They know which buttons to push.

For more on CAIR’s past statements, associations and assorted sins, head on over to Anti-CAIR. Several CAIR officials have been convicted on charges of aiding terrorist groups. Here’s a sample:

Senior CAIR employee Randall Todd Royer, a/k/a “Ismail” Royer, pled guilty and was sentenced to twenty years in prison for participating in a network of militant jihadists centered in Northern Virginia. He admitted to aiding and abetting three persons who sought training in a terrorist camp in Pakistan for the purpose of waging jihad against American troops in Afghanistan. Royer’s illegal actions occurred while he was employed with CAIR

CAIR’s Director of Community Relations, Bassem Khafagi , was arrested by the United States due to his ties with a terror-financing front group. Khafagi pled guilty to charges of visa and bank fraud, and agreed to be deported to Egypt. Khafagi’s illegal actions occurred while he was employed by CAIR.

On December 18, 2002, Ghassan Elashi, founding board member of CAIR-Texas, a founder of the Holy Land Foundation, and a brother-in-law of Musa Abu Marzook , was arrested by the United States and charged with, among other things, making false statements on export declarations, dealing in the property of a designated terrorist organization, conspiracy and money laundering. Ghassan Elashi committed his crimes while working at CAIR, and was found Guilty.

CAIR Board Member Imam Siraj Wahaj, an un-indicted co-conspirator in the first World Trade Center bombing, has called for replacing the American government with an Islamic caliphate, and warned that America will crumble unless it accepts Islam.

Now, if we could only get the Bush administration to be as tough on CAIR as Sen. Boxer is:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 … The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today welcomed an announcement by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that it has provided special training about Islamic traditions related to the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, to some 45,000 airport security officers. The TSA cultural sensitivity training includes details about the timing of Hajj travel, about items pilgrims may be carrying and about Islamic prayers that may be observed by security personnel….

Foxes and henhouses, or something along those lines. It was, of course, several CAIR-connected imams who instigated the “flying imams” fiasco, which appeared to be none other than a test of vigilance and a way to mau mau the airlines and airline passengers. CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper, who often appears on cable news channels as the face of moderate Islam, has been found in the company of radicals himself.

This is the CAIR that Boxer rejects, and the Bush administration puts in charge of sensitivity training.

Good for Boxer. Bad for the administration. CAIR should be ostracized.

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December 28, 2006

Charges for Quoting Koran Overturned – Same Law Proposed in U.S.

FAITH UNDER FIRE

Pastors’ convictions for quoting Quran overturned Case was brought under version of ‘hate crimes’ legislation

——————————————————————————– © 2006 WorldNetDaily.com

Two Australian pastors who were convicted of “vilifying” Muslims when they quoted from the Quran during a seminar on jihad have had their appeals upheld by the Victorian Supreme Court.

And while that means they will return to a lower court for another trial, that actually is a good result, according to a new report from Voice of the Martyrs.

“In a sense we are happy with this decision… It means this case will be kept alive in the public consciousness,” Pastor Danny Nalliah said in a VOM report. “There’s a need to keep these vilification laws in sharp focus to reveal the problems this law is creating.”

The Australian law was imposed in order to prevent the denigration of people based on their race or religion, and similar laws also have been approved in Canada, where critics of the law say they include sexual orientation and forbid pastors from condemning homosexuality as a sin.

Many of the “hate crimes” proposals in the United States are based on a similar concept: designating as “crimes” the statements people make about their own beliefs or convictions.

In a statement released through Catch the Fire Ministries, where Nalliah serves as president, he thanked his friends for their moral, prayer and financial support during the trial and appeal process to date.

“The battle for Freedom to express Truth is far from over, as a retrial at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (with a different Judge) is expected sometime next year… I believe the Lord will continue to use this case to further awaken His Church, our nation of Australia, the nations of the world, and to discredit the vilification laws in Victoria,” he wrote.

Nalliah and Pastor Daniel Scot were charged following a complaint filed by The Islamic Council of Victoria, and were the first people found guilty of religious vilification under the Victorian Religious and Racial Tolerance Act of 2002. They were accused of vilifying Muslims at a seminar on jihad on March 9, 2002.

VOM said the two were lecturing on the differences between Christianity and Islam, and quoted directly from the Quran.

After his conviction, Nalliah had refused to apologize.

“Right from the inception, we have said that this law is a foul law, this law is not a law that brings unity. It causes disunity and as far as we are concerned right from the beginning we have stated that we will not apologize. We will go to prison for standing for the truth and not sacrifice our freedom and freedom to speak,” he told VOM.

In a commentary in the Herald Sun, Andrew Bolt noted the travesty of the case, and that besides the death threats to the pastors and their families, they still must pay an estimated $150,000 for the court proceedings against them.

“Some victory. Some justice. These exhausted pastors have been harassed, threatened, denounced as bigots and flayed in the papers and on the ABC, and are now deep in debt. And why? Because they quoted the Quran to their congregation. Because in that congregation were Muslim activists, sent by a discrimination commissar hired from a Muslim lobby group,” Bolt wrote.

He wrote that much of the evidence against the pastors was that they, in fact, quoted the Quran accurately. “Yes, the Quran did tell men they could beat their wives. Yes, it did have verses calling on Muslims to fight infidels until they submitted.”

“The pastors were found guilty of vilifying Muslims even though the judge identified only one thing Scot had said that was factually wrong: he’d given the wrong birthrate for Muslims here. And, the judge, added, he’d failed to quote a verse that showed Allah was merciful,” Bolt wrote.

VOM is a non-profit, interdenominational ministry working worldwide to help Christians who are persecuted for their faith, and to educate the world about that persecution. Its headquarters are in Bartlesville, Okla., and it has 30 affiliated international offices.

It was launched by the late Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, who started smuggling Russian Gospels into Russia in 1947, just months before Richard was abducted and imprisoned in Romania where he was tortured for his refusal to recant Christianity.

He eventually was released in 1964 and the next year he testified about the persecution of Christians before the U.S. Senate’s Internal Security Subcommittee, stripping to the waist to show the deep torture wound scars on his body.

The group that later was renamed The Voice of the Martyrs was organized in 1967, when his book, “Tortured for Christ,” was released.

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December 24, 2006

The Silent Exodus

Vanishing Christians of the Mideast

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/world/4424050.html

By GREGORY KATZ
Houston Chronicle Middle East Bureau

Steve Campbell : Chronicle
AIN EBEL, LEBANON — This Christian village near the Israeli border looks tranquil, but the undulating hills and silver-tinted olive groves mask a beehive of Hezbollah military activity that brought the town under Israeli attack this past summer.

Brahim Barakat, a gas station owner, said the 34-day conflict convinced him and the town’s other Christians that they have no future in Lebanon, where policy is increasingly set by the militant Islamic group Hezbollah, which is trying to destabilize the elected national government. They are ready to abandon their fig trees and move out.

“Our church is older than Hezbollah,” said Barakat, sounding beaten down at 56. “Our history is here. Jesus Christ walked here. But we are caught between Hezbollah and Israel. We are lost here. If 80 percent of the Christians in Lebanon are trying to leave, here the figure is 100 percent because of the war.”

The vicious battle between Hezbollah and Israel this summer has joined the long list of religion-based conflicts and feuds ripping the peoples of the Middle East apart. Most of the Christians who lived in Ain Ebel already have gone, scattered like seeds tossed by a tempest.

Some have resettled in other parts of Lebanon, trying to eke out a living, but many have abandoned their country altogether, adding to the huge number of Lebanese Christians who have gone to the United States, Canada, Australia and other countries for a fresh start.

The flight of Lebanese Christians is one symptom of a larger malady: the wholesale departure of Christians from the Middle East.

This silent exodus is reshaping the region’s cultural mosaic, eating away at its diversity by slowly removing Christians from the birthplace of Jesus Christ. Their voice is being muted as Islam becomes more strident.

The Islamic holy book, the Quran, preaches respect for other religions, but the growing popularity of radical Islam, which casts Christians and Jews as infidels, has convinced many Christians they will soon be unwelcome, said Anthony O’Mahony, a London professor who has written several books on Christianity in the Middle East.

“We may be seeing the end of a historic Christian presence,” he said. “Islam has profoundly displaced the indigenous religions, Christianity and Judaism. We’re seeing another stage of the Islamicization of the region. You start to see the Middle East purely in Muslim terms, dominating the whole region.”

Precise figures are elusive, in part because governments in the region do not carry out sensitive surveys listing religious affiliation, but historians believe that at least 2 million of the region’s Christians have left the Middle East in the past 30 years. Sharp declines have been observed in Lebanon and the West Bank over the past three decades.

Seeking safety

In Lebanon, the civil war that started in 1975 spurred hundreds of thousands of Christians to seek safety abroad. Christians are now a minority in a country where they used to be the largest religious group.

A measure of stability returned to Lebanon when fighting ended in 1990, but that was shattered this summer. The conflict with Israel killed more than 1,000 people and caused an estimated $4 billion in damage to the country’s infrastructure.

Hezbollah, a private Islamic militia funded primarily by Iran, started the fighting when its forces crossed into Israel to ambush Israeli troops. The militia’s leading cleric, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, launched the attack without any input from Lebanon’s elected coalition government, which includes many Christians, including the president, Emile Lahoud. The conflict stoked fears among Christians and some Muslims that the militant movement spreading throughout the region may transform Lebanon into an Iranian-style Islamic republic.

“This last war made the Christians lose hope,” said Guita Hourani, a Lebanese Christian who is associate director of the Lebanese Emigration Research Center.

“Hezbollah refuses to disarm, and they have a political plan and an ideology that does not fit with what Christians and most Lebanese want, which is a functioning democracy that is pluralistic and open. Space for freedom of expression and freedom of faith is being closed off.”

Lebanese Christians were able to talk about their concerns before the war, but now they are afraid to speak freely, she said.

“People are fearing for the future and trying to get out,” she said. “This war is going to impact the emigration of Christians more than anything we have seen. If other countries open their doors, there will be an exodus.”

Civil war looming?

The November assassination of Christian leader Pierre Gemayel and the push by Hezbollah to oust the government aggravated the situation, raising the specter of renewed civil war between the country’s Muslim and Christian populations.

These problems are reflected throughout the Middle East. Circumstances differ in each country the Christians are quitting, but the results are the same. Christians are voting with their feet, leaving the lands where Jesus once walked.

‘A savage polarization’

The latest catastrophe for Middle Eastern Christians is in Iraq. One of the region’s oldest Christian communities is under fire as sectarian fighting increases and the country’s new political leaders veer toward a religious-based Islamic government.

“The Iraqi Christians are increasingly targeted, and many churches have been threatened, so they are joining the larger exodus from Egypt, from Palestine, from Lebanon,” said Fawaz Gerges, author of Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy and director of the Middle Eastern studies program at Sarah Lawrence College in New York.

“This means disaster for the Middle East. Christians serve as a bridge between the Muslim world and the Judeo-Christian world, and if you rid the Middle East of its bridge you are punching a big hole in the idea of coexistence.”

The rise in fundamentalist Islam is one of many factors causing Christians to leave. They also are departing in search of educational and employment opportunities and, in the case of Palestinian Christians, because of conflicts with Israel.

In the region where the three great world religions began, Jews, Christians and Muslims are living more separately than ever. Their religious doctrines call for tolerance, but in practice they are drawing apart.

“There has been a savage polarization,” said William Dalrymple, author of From the Holy Mountain and other works about Christians in the Middle East.

“In this pulling-apart of a very rich tapestry, the Christians have by and large left the Middle East to places less heavy with history, places like Australia, Sweden and Detroit.”

Middle Eastern Christians who stay are often caught in the middle. Many Muslims assume Christians are pro-Western because they share a Christian bond with the West. At the same time, many Westerners are suspicious of them because of their Arab roots.

Christians also leave because they have a better chance to advance in more peaceful and affluent countries. Some can emigrate relatively easily because of family ties in the West. Many already speak English, making it easier to get jobs or places in good schools.

The emigration has changed the makeup of Lebanon, where Christians were in the majority when the country achieved independence in 1943. Now they are a shrinking minority.

In the highland villages of the Mount Lebanon range, where Christians have lived in the bracing mountain air for centuries, most young adults already have departed. The majority of the residents are either older than 60 or younger than 18, said Filamina Farhat, a weary resident of Kfar Sghab (pronounced Far-Zab) who has seen the community dwindle in her 66 years.

Her village, surrounded by fertile land that produces delicious cherries and pears, is in the Christian heartland of Lebanon. The mountains are dotted with shrines to the saints, but the town¹s roads are named after the cities in Australia where most of the former residents now reside.

It is jarring to see a “Perth Road” in the middle of Lebanon, but it reflects that more of the town’s residents live overseas than in the town.

“We have more than 17,000 people from this village living in Australia, and 3,000 in America, and only about 700 people living here,” Farhat said. “The young people became educated and left. What choice do they have? They can’t make a living here.

“I’m sad because we work very, very hard to work the land and educate them, and then they leave.”

Hermits continue tradition

Her part of the country holds special significance for Lebanon’s Maronite Christians, who make up the largest denomination in the country. It was in the misty, craggy, inaccessible mountains that the Maronites first sought refuge when they were persecuted in neighboring Syria 13 centuries ago.

The Maronite Patriarch keeps his summer headquarters nearby, on the cliff high above the Valley of the Saints, where a few religious hermits continue a Maronite tradition by living in caves.

Still, this rich heritage is not enough to keep young people here, said George Tannous, a student.

“We are four brothers, and the whole family is trying to leave — my parents, too,” said Tannous, a 17-year-old with burning brown eyes who is determined to study engineering and architecture abroad.

The family’s hopes are riding on an uncle in Australia who is trying to arrange a visa that would allow them to settle there.

“Here there is nothing, no jobs, no money, no chances,” he said. “You can’t get a car or get married. Ninety-nine percent of my friends want to leave. I would go anywhere. You can’t stay here or your life stops.”

The only time the depopulated mountain villages of Lebanon fill up is in summer, when many prodigal sons return from abroad to pay their respects to their parents. They usually bring their own children with hopes that family bonds will deepen.

The émigrés often carry money to help with village projects and to keep their parents in good financial shape through the wet, cold winter.

Many Christian villages are in relatively good shape, with new stone houses and lovingly renovated older ones, even though most of the young people have departed.

Émigrés are paying for this work and providing money for church projects, schools, health clinics and other facilities that raise the quality of life.

The financial figures are astounding. Lebanese expatriates send back an estimated $3.4 billion each year, more than is brought in by foreign investment in Lebanon or by tourism. They are contributing even more this year to help rebuild areas destroyed during the fighting.

Monsignor Francis Baissari, the Maronite bishop for Kfar Sghab and 29 other villages, said church officials turn to the expatriate community whenever they want funding for something new.

“If we want to build a new church or a new school, we start with the idea, and we ask the expatriates for help,” he said. “We have about 1 million Maronites here but about 15 million around the world. What can we do? We are exporting people because they need to work.”

In some families, the desire of the younger generation to leave Lebanon behind has led to clashes with parents and grandparents who traditionally decide family affairs even when their unmarried children are in their 20s and 30s.

At the height of the fighting this summer, the Mandalian family was divided over whether to move to Canada, where they have cousins. They live in Bourj Hammoud, an Armenian enclave on the outskirts of Beirut, but they moved into the mountains to get away from the bombing.

Still, Jack Mandalian’s two daughters — Talar, 26, and Lucy, 24 — were terrified. Talar decided she should move to Montreal, where she could put her university degree in graphic design to good use, and Lucy said she would follow when she had finished her university courses next year.

The young women were determined to join the flight of Armenian Christians that has shrunk their numbers from about 225,000 two decades ago to roughly 65,000 today.

Their plan was that the whole family would move to Canada over time. But then their father put his foot down.

His ancestors had fled the Armenian genocide in eastern Turkey, and he was not going to flee again. And there was no question of his daughters leaving on their own. The family had to stick together. Anything else was unthinkable.

“They wouldn’t give me their blessing, so I have no choice,” said Talar Mandalian. “I’m staying here in Lebanon.”

It is easy to understand why they decided to stay. Few places are as beautiful as Lebanon, a small country blessed with a Mediterranean climate and rugged, snowcapped mountains. The red wine is delicious, the skiing a joy. But the country¹s people bear deep psychological scars.

‘We cannot forget’

Christians are not blameless. In the pleasant village of Kfar Matta, with scented mountain air and green shade trees, residents say they will not let the Christians move back in because Christian militia forces led a massacre against townspeople in 1983.

The fighting was part of “The War of the Mountain,” which pitted Christian forces against the Druze, an independent religious group that shares some of its core beliefs with Islam.

“As long as we are alive, we cannot forget,” said Hani Al Gharib, a Druze resident who insists the Christians must stay out. “They came in and killed my father; they shot him in the mouth. They killed my cousins, they killed our young people. We lost 109 people. The only way there can be reconciliation is if we kill 109 of their people.”

Christian militia fighters also have been blamed for the notorious 1982 massacre of hundreds of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps on the outskirts of Beirut.

Christians and Druze lived in harmony for centuries, but Kfar Matta, like many communities in the Middle East, has become a place where only one religious group dwells. There was an impressive stone church, but it was dynamited and lies in ruins.

At the same time, some towns that were once exclusively Christian are changing as Muslims buy property put on the market by Christian families who are emigrating. This has caused some friction as Christians find their sphere of influence shrinking.

In the prosperous village of Bishmizzine, Christians initially banded together to buy all the properties put up for sale to prevent Muslims from moving in. The strategy worked at first, but it became too expensive over time. Now Muslims have bought up about 15 percent of the village, town officials say.

Fawzi Moufarij, mayor of Bishmizzine, said he is trying to maintain friendly relations between the town’s Christians and Muslims now that the effort to keep Muslims out has failed.

“We wish we could have bought all the properties,” he said. “The original people of this village are being replaced by Muslims. They want to be a major power here, and there have been some incidents, some fights. Mostly we are getting along. But Christians are deeply concerned about the future. We don’t know where we are heading.”

The mayor has grown accustomed to seeing people he has known all his life pick up stakes and disappear, sometimes forever.

“It’s very sad,” he said. “It’s a village of ghosts.”

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December 21, 2006

Half of Iraq’s Christians Have Fled, Says Prelate

Church Aiding 35,000 Refugees in Syria

BAGHDAD, Iraq, – The violence in Iraq has prompted half of the country’s Christians to emigrate, says an official of the Chaldean patriarchate of Baghdad.

Auxiliary Bishop Andraos Abouna explained to the international charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) the work that ecclesial leaders are carrying out to shelter the more than 35,000 Christians who have sought refuge in Syria.

The Church is helping to provide shelter, food and medical support for these and other refugees. Benedict XVI appealed for aid for these refugees last Sunday.

ACN has offered emergency aid to Christians desperate to flee the religious conflict and the dire poverty engulfing Iraq.

The charity is working closely with Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo, Syria, who launched a humanitarian aid program for refugees, especially in the capital, Damascus. The project includes food parcels and funding for emergency hospital operations.

Bishop Abouna said: “There is a big need to help the people and we are doing whatever we can. We are very grateful to Aid to the Church in Need for all its help.”

The 63-year-old bishop underlined the increasing dangers for Christians still in Iraq. He said the refugees in Syria had reported how Christians and others had received death threats and how women, including girls, were being forced to wear the veil in keeping with Islamic law.

Up to a dozen churches, monasteries and other church buildings in the Al Dora district of Baghdad have been forced to close, Bishop Abouna said.

Islamists bent on ethnic cleansing have flushed Christians out of Al Dora, formerly known as “the Vatican of Iraq,” he reported.

“Of course the people are frightened,” the prelate added. “But there is something stronger than the fear — it is their faith.”

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December 8, 2006

Visions of Jesus Stir Muslim Hearts

By Chris Mitchell
CBN News
www.cbn.com/cbnnews/69001.aspx

Watch the Video

CBNNews.com – JERUSALEM – The Muslim call to prayer resounds through a large part of the Earth, where more than one billion people call themselves Muslims. 

Throughout the Islamic world, many Muslims from Gaza to London are also responding to the call to global jihad, where the goal is to take over the world for Islam. It’s a clash of civilizations with the Christian faith in the middle.

Throughout the nearly 1,400 year history of Islam, Muslims have resisted the Christian Gospel. Many Christians tried to reach them with the good news, but with little success. 

But according to many reports from the Middle East and around the world, that history is changing. 

“I see many, many Arabic-speaking people turning to Christ, accepting Him as Lord and Savior,” said Nizar Shaheen, host of Light for the Nations, a Christian program seen throughout the Muslim world. “It’s happening all over the Arab world. It’s happening in North Africa. It’s happening in the Middle East. It’s happening in the Gulf countries. It’s happening in Europe and Canada and the United States-in the Arabic-speaking world. Everywhere, people are accepting Jesus.”

“What’s happening nowadays in the Muslim world has never happened before,” said Father Zakaria Henein, an Egyptian Coptic priest who is one of the foremost evangelists to the Muslim world. He says a cross-section of Muslims are accepting Jesus Christ. “Young and old, educated and not educated, males and females, even those who are fanatic.”

One fanatic Muslim who came to faith in Jesus Christ is Samer Achmad Muhammed. He studied for years to become a Wahhabi sheik, one of the most virulent forms of Islam. He hated Christians and the church, but his heart changed when he heard the Gospel.

“I dedicated my life to Jesus Christ, Jesus forgave me for my sins,” he said. “He gave me eternal life and peace. And the second thing, I really suffered in my daily life, but I had peace, I had joy because Jesus entered my heart.”

Muhammed is just one of many who are coming to Jesus. Heidi Baker of Iris Ministries sees thousands of African Muslims receiving Jesus and getting baptized.  

“It’s probably the only place in the world where they are coming so quickly,” she said. “Many people are having dreams. They see Jesus appear to them. Probably half our pastors were leaders, imams in Moslem mosques. They were leaders in these mosques, now they’re pastors.”

Another significant evangelistic movement among Muslims links China and Jerusalem. Chinese house churches plan to send at least 100,000 evangelists from China through many predominantly Muslim nations all the back here to Jerusalem.

This quiet but powerful movement of itinerant evangelists is bringing the story of Jesus Christ into the heart of the Muslim world. Technologies like satellite television and the Internet also penetrate the world of Islam. 

But beyond technology, many say a supernatural dimension is at work throughout the Islamic world.

“There is an end-time phenomenon that is happening through dreams and visions,” said Christine Darg, author of The Jesus Visions: Signs and Wonders in the Muslim World. “He is going into the Muslim world and revealing, particularly, the last 24 hours of His life – how He died on the cross, which Islam does not teach – how He was raised from the dead, which Islam also does not teach – and how He is the Son of God, risen in power.”

“We receive lots of letters about people who have had dreams about the Lord, visions, even miracles,” Shaheen said. “When they watch the program, they say yes, we had a dream or a vision, and they accept Jesus as Lord.”

But Muslims who accept Jesus face persecution, discrimination or even death. Despite the dangers, many continue to live out their faith and lead others to Jesus Christ.  

“Jesus loves all people, Jesus changes all people and Jesus is the One who places love and peace,” Shaheen said. “I was not like this but Jesus changed my life and I am not scared to talk about Jesus because praise is unto Him.”

Some believe the Church’s response to jihad must be a fearless proclamation of the Gospel to Muslims. Through prayer and evangelism, many see an unparalleled opportunity for the Gospel. 

“I anticipate that very soon – perhaps within two or three years-we are going to see the greatest harvest in history,” Shaheen said

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December 1, 2006

Muslim Congressman Won’t Use Koran When Taking Oath of Office

By Randy Hall
CNSNews.com Staff Writer/Editor
http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewPolitics.asp?Page=/Politics/
archive/200612/POL20061201a.html

(CNSNews.com) – When he is sworn in as a member of the 110th U.S. Congress on Jan. 4, 2007, Congressman-elect Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) will not take the oath of office with his hand on a copy of the Koran – or any other book, according to a spokesman for Ellison, the first Muslim ever elected to the House of Representatives.

Ellison will not use any book during the ceremony, Dave Colling, who served as the Minnesota Democrat’s campaign manager, told Cybercast News Service. “Neither will any other member of the House,” Colling added, since “no one has ever taken the oath of office in Congress with a Bible, a Koran, a Torah or anything else.”

Instead, the members of the chamber are sworn into office as a group, Colling noted. “They all raise their right hands and repeat the oath that’s prescribed in the Constitution.”

Drew Hammill, spokesman for Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), confirmed Colling’s description of the swearing-in ceremony.

“You’re actually sworn in on the floor of the House,” Hammill told Cybercast News Service. “There are no books present.”

After Pelosi becomes the new speaker, she will lead the other members of the House in reciting their oath of office:

“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

The remarks by Colling and Hammill came in response to a controversy sparked on Nov. 9, when the New York Times ran an article on Arab reaction to Ellison’s victory in the U.S. mid-term election two days earlier.

“Arab news reports highlighted the fact that Mr. Ellison would probably take the oath of office on the Koran, something which also upset Muslim-bashers in the blogosphere,” the article noted. “Some suggested it meant he would pledge allegiance to Islamic law rather than to upholding the Constitution.”

On Nov. 11, ABC News reported that Ellison “will be sworn into the House of Representatives with his hand on a Koran.”

More than two weeks later, radio talk show host and columnist Dennis Prager wrote in a Nov. 28 commentary that the Minnesota Democrat “has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.”

“He should not be allowed to do so – not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization,” Prager argued. “Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible.

“If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don’t serve in Congress,” he wrote.

Prager’s column generated a number of responses, including a reply from Stephen Bainbridge, a professor at the UCLA School of Law, who called the columnist’s arguments “fundamentally misguided.”

“I don’t share Prager’s notion that it’s necessary for politicians and government officials to ‘take their oaths of office with their hands on the very same book’ in order to ‘affirm that some unifying value system underlies American civilization,'” Bainbridge said.

Eugene Volokh, another professor at the UCLA School of Law, also disagreed with Prager by noting that the oath of office “is a religious ritual, both in its origins and its use by the devout today. The oath invokes God as a witness to one’s promise as a means of making the promise more weighty on the oathtaker’s conscience.”

Volokh also pointed to Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, which states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

“Requiring the performance of a religious act using the holy book of a particular religion is a religious test,” Volokh noted.

The dispute has generated “tons and tons of email” to Ellison’s office, “none of it in a good way,” said Colling.

After the House swearing-in ritual is completed, brief sessions are held so individual members of the chamber can be photographed with the speaker. Most participants at this point reportedly choose to adopt the traditional pose of placing their hand on a Bible.

“That’s a mock ceremony, so it’s not official,” Hammill told Cybercast News Service. “Members can bring in the local press, or they can do a photo op with their family, but that’s not their actual swearing in.”

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November 22, 2006

Egypt students protest minister’s anti-veil remarks

MINYA, Egypt (AFP) – Around 800 students have rallied at Minya University in southern Egypt to protest Culture Minister Faruq Hosni’s comments that wearing the veil was regressive.

The students, mostly veiled women and supporters of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, chanted slogans against Hosni and demanded the minister’s immediate sacking.
In an interview published last week, Hosni said he saw the ever-growing number of Muslim women wearing the veil in Egypt as a negative trend.

“There was an age when our mothers went to university and worked without the veil. It is in that spirit that we grew up. So why this regression?” he said Wednesday.

The comments provoked a storm of protest, not only among the Islamist opposition but also within the ruling National Democratic Party, to which Hosni belongs.

Members of the NDP made up the majority of the 25 MPs who spoke out against the minister in parliament on Saturday.

Hosni has repeatedly insisted that the statements were his personal opinion and did not reflect the view of the government.

A protest was also held at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University on Tuesday and further demonstrations are planned across the country in the coming days.

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November 18, 2006

Farewell Father Antonious Henein

Press Release

Christian Copts of California
P.O. Box 661336, Los Angeles CA 90066
E-mail: CalCopts@sbcglobal.net

Farewell Abuna Antonious …

Our beloved Father Antonious Henein, after 33 years of faithful service to the Lord and his people the Copts of Los Angeles, went to be with the Lord on Thursday November 16, 2006

Father Antonious will be always remembered for his heroic efforts during the 1981 tribulation of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt. At that time the late president Sadat of Egypt stretched his hands to harm the church. He ordered the imprisonment of over 1500 people including many Coptic clergy and laymen. In addition he put H.H. Pope Shenouda under house arrest in a monastery. Father Antonious, only one of two priests in Los Angeles, was credited of leading a successful campaign to proclaim the plight to the outside world. He mobilized Copts and non-Copts, in Southern California and lead them in rallies and public protests which was fully covered by the media. His bravery, steadfastness , and loyalty to the cause of Christ is unmatched.

Our beloved Abuna Antonious: you have fought the good fight , have finished your course, have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for you a crown of righteousness…Now, it is time for you to rest.

We will miss you..

Mounir Bishay
President, Christian Copts of California

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November 17, 2006

Dutch to ban wearing of Muslim burqa in public

By Alexandra Hudson

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The Dutch government agreed on Friday a total
ban on the wearing of burqas and other Muslim face veils in public,
justifying the move on security grounds.

Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk will now draw up legislation which
will result in the Netherlands, once one of Europe’s most easy-going
nations, imposing some of the continent’s toughest laws against
concealing the face.

“The cabinet finds it undesirable that garments covering the face —
including the burqa — should be worn in public in view of public
order, (and) the security and protection of fellow citizens,” the
Dutch Justice Ministry said in a statement.

The debate on face veils and whether they stymie Muslim integration
has gathered momentum across Europe. The Netherlands would be the
first European state to impose a countrywide ban on Islamic face
coverings, though other countries have already outlawed them in
specific places. The move by the center-right government comes just
five days before a general election. The campaign has focused so far
on issues like the economy rather than immigration because most
mainstream parties have hardened their stances in recent years.
Last December Dutch lawmakers voted in favor of a proposal by far-
right politician Geert Wilders to outlaw face-coverings and asked
Verdonk to examine the feasibility of such a ban. Because veils were
worn for religious reasons, she had feared new legislation could come
into conflict with religious freedom laws. But she said on Friday
this was not the case.

Existing legislation already limits the wearing of burqas and other
total coverings on public transport or in schools. France has banned
the Muslim headscarf and other religious garb from state schools
while discussion in Britain centers on limiting the full facial veil,
or niqab. Italy has a decades-old law against covering the face in
public as an anti-terrorism measure. Some politicians have called for
this rule to be enforced against veiled Muslim women.

The Muslim community estimates that only about 50 women in the
Netherlands wear the head-to-toe burqa or the niqab, a face veil that
conceals everything but the eyes. Dutch Muslim groups have complained
a burqa ban would make the country’s 1 million Muslims feel more
victimized and alienated, regardless of whether they approve of
burqas or not. “This will just lead to more girls saying ‘hey I’m
also going to wear a burqa as a protest’,” Naima Azough, a member of
parliament from the opposition Green Left, told an election campaign
meeting for fellow members of the Moroccan community.

Job Cohen, the Labour mayor of Amsterdam, said he opposed burqas in
schools and public buildings, and said women wearing one who failed
to get a job should not expect welfare benefits. “From the
perspective of integration and communication, it is obviously very
bad because you can’t see each other so the fewer the better,” he
told foreign journalists. “But actually hardly anybody wears
one … The fuss is much bigger than the number of people concerned.”

Since the murder of anti-immigration maverick Pim Fortuyn in 2002,
the Dutch have lost a reputation for tolerance, pushing through some
of Europe’s toughest entry and integration laws. Social and religious
tensions have escalated in the last few years, exacerbated by the
murder of film director and Islam critic Theo van Gogh by a Dutch-
Moroccan militant in 2004.

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November 13, 2006

German pastor’s suicide seen as ‘cry against Islam’

http://www.semissourian.com/story/1177106.html

ERFURT, Germany — The 73-year-old pastor’s last sermon focused on his fear that Christian Europe would be overwhelmed by Islam. A few weeks later, at one of the most important Lutheran landmarks, the Rev. Roland Weisselberg soaked himself in gasoline and set himself ablaze. He died the following day. He left no suicide note. But in a time when Christians and Muslims in Europe lurch from one crisis to the next, the poetry-quoting, retired Lutheran minister is being proclaimed a self-martyr — the latest victim in a growing conflict between the cross and the crescent. In his last sermon in late September — called from retirement to fill in for an absent minister — Weisselberg said Christians in Europe must unite or risk being overrun by Islam in generations to come. His widow — who has refused to speak publicly — told a church official that her husband left behind a letter describing his angst over Islam’s rising power in Europe.

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November 10, 2006

Court in Canada refuses to hear whether religion can be a murder defence

Janice Tibbetts, CanWest News Service

OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada declined an invitation on Thursday to consider whether Muslim cultural and religious beliefs in ”family honour” should be taken into account as justification for receiving a lighter sentence for killing an unfaithful wife.

The court refused to hear the appeal of Adi Abdul Humaid, a devout Muslim from the United Arab Emirates, who admitted to stabbing Aysar Abbas to death with a steak knife on a visit to Ottawa in 1999.

In an application filed in the Supreme Court, Humaid’s lawyer, Richard Bosada, argued Humaid was provoked by his wife’s claim she cheated on him, an insult so severe in the Muslim faith it deprived him of self-control.

The concept of ”family honour” in the Muslim culture means a man is disgraced if his wife has an affair, said the application.

Humaid was convicted of first-degree murder and lost his appeal at the Ontario Court of Appeal, which concluded his defence lacked an ”air of reality.”

The Supreme Court, by convention, did not give reasons for refusing to consider the case, but it normally only takes on appeals it considers to be of national importance.

Under Canadian law, a rarely used, controversial defence called provocation can allow intentional killings to be reduced to the lesser crime of manslaughter if the accused proves the crime was committed in the heat of passion arising from a ”wrongful act or insult” that would cause an ordinary person to lose control.

Bosada said the high court should take on the case to provide guidance to lower courts ”in this multi-cultural Canadian society.”

Humaid contends his Muslim beliefs should be a factor because he killed his wife after she hinted she was having an affair with a business associate.

Abbas was 46 years old when she died of 23 stab wounds to the throat in the fall of 1999, while she and her husband were visiting their son at the University of Ottawa.

Humaid testified at his trial he blacked out after hearing his wife’s confession and he lost all self-control.

The Ontario Crown, in a Supreme Court court submission, maintains the murder was pre-meditated and Humaid, who had an affair with the family maid, wanted out of his marriage. Humaid also stood to gain financially from the death of his wife, a successful engineer who controlled most of the family wealth.

After having an affair himself, Humaid’s argument that he deserves a lighter sentence because he was provoked by his wife’s insult ”is irreconcilable with the principal of gender equality” enshrined in the Charter of Rights, says the Crown’s submission.

An American scholar, Mahmoud Mustafa Ayoub, testified at Humaid’s trial that many Islamic societies permit men to punish wives suspected of adultery and sometimes even kill them. Under Islamic law, punishment for adultery is usually flogging or stoning, Ayoub said. In some Muslim cultures and rural areas, unfaithful women can be killed.

But Ayoub acknowledged under cross-examination that Muslims in Canada should not be able to take the law into their own hands when they suspect their wives of infidelity.

Humaid and Abbas were Canadian citizens who lived in Dubai in 1999.

His lawyer could not be reached for comment.

CanWest News Service

© CanWest News Service 2006

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November 9, 2006

First Muslim Elected to the U.S. Congress

Keith Ellison easily defeats rivals for Minnesota seat
By Lea Terhune
Washington File Staff Writer

Keith Ellison won the Minnesota congressional race Nov. 7, making him the first Muslim to serve in the U.S. Congress. (© AP Image)

Washington – Democrat Keith Ellison won a closely watched Minnesota congressional race November 7, making him the first Muslim to be elected to the U.S. Congress.

Ellison also is the first black congressman elected from Minnesota. He will fill the seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Representative Martin Sabo.

“I think the most important thing about this race is we tried to pull people together on things we all share, things that are important to everyone,” he said in his victory speech. “We were able to bring in Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists.”

Ellison, a two-term state legislator before his run for Congress, has opposed the war in Iraq, and has advocated universal health care for Americans.

Even though he is an observant Muslim, Ellison has not made religion a feature of his campaign.

“People draw strength and moral courage from a variety of religious traditions. Mine have come from both Catholicism and Islam. I was raised Catholic and later became a Muslim while attending Wayne State University. I am inspired by the Quran’s message of an encompassing divine love, and a deep faith guides my life everyday,” he wrote in an article for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“I think it’s time for the United States to see a moderate Muslim voice, to see a face of Islam that is just like everybody else’s face,” he said recently.

Born in Detroit, Ellison received his law degree at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where he practices law and where he has lived for the past 17 years. He converted to Islam at the age of 19, saying that as a young man he was outraged by racism and injustice.

Ellison described himself at that age as an angry young social activist, but “I eventually realized that it is easy to be a critic pointing out problems and failings, but it is a far more difficult thing to be part of creating the solution.” He credits his family for steering him onto the right path.

“I began to help create a world where everybody counts and where there are no throwaway people,” he said.

He has a reputation as a bridge-builder, reaching across partisan divides to achieve results. He champions liberal causes, supports raising the minimum wage, environmental protection, abortion rights and increased funding for education.

“Ellison’s election is a good sign for America,” University of Minnesota professor and analyst Lawrence Jacobs told the Washington File. “Muslims who may have been feeling persecuted or locked out of American society will feel a more hopeful side of American society.”

He said it is encouraging for Muslims abroad, also, because it signals willingness to entertain other views. “American diversity works to our advantage with Muslims in positions of political power,” he said.

Although the Midwest often is seen as a conservative bastion, Jacobs said, “Openness is a historical legacy and tradition in the Midwest.” Important civil rights leaders emerged from Minnesota, he added. “Everyone gets a chance on their own record, without regard to race and creed,” he said. “It is a tolerant society.”

American Muslims welcomed Ellison’s victory. Corey Saylor, director of the Council on Islamic Relations, said in a November 8 statement, “The election of an American Muslim candidate to national office and the rejection of those who promoted societal division and mistrust send a clear message that the United States is a nation that embraces people of all faiths.”

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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November 2, 2006

Dad Gets 10 Years In Girl’s Genital Mutilation

Case Is First In U.S.

Khalid Adem

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — It has happened to 130 million women and girls around the world, the State Department has estimated, but Wednesday may have been the first time a U.S. court was called on to exact justice for one of them.

The victim, now 7, was just 2 when her genitals were cut, but she remembered the horrific act well enough to testify at her father’s trial. He “cut me on my private part,” she said, clutching a teddy bear in her videotaped testimony.

Khalid Adem was convicted Wednesday of aggravated battery and cruelty to children, though he had insisted he was innocent and denounced female genital mutilation, which is common in his homeland of Ethiopia.

His attorney, Mark Hill, asked that his client’s culture be taken into account. “We don’t quite understand it here, but in Ethiopia, it used to be the normal thing.”

Superior Court Judge Richard Winegarden rejected that argument, sentencing Adem to 10 years in prison and describing his crime as “unimaginable.”

“This child has suffered, will suffer, the rest of her life,” he told Adem.

Prosecutors said Adem, 30, used scissors to remove his daughter’s clitoris in his family’s Atlanta-area apartment in 2001. The child’s mother, Fortunate Adem, said she did not discover it until more than a year later.

Adem, who had no criminal record, could have been sentenced to up to 40 years in prison. He held his face in his hands and wept loudly after the jury’s verdict was read.

Federal law specifically bans the practice of genital mutilation, but many states do not have a law addressing it. Georgia lawmakers, with the support of the girl’s mother, passed an anti-mutilation law last year. But Adem was not tried under that law since it did not exist when his daughter was cut.

The trial is believed to be the first criminal case in the United States involving female genital multilation.

“We think the international community will look at this case very carefully,” said Taina Bien-Aime, executive director of the New York-based international human rights group Equality Now. “We hope that this case is really a call to action.”

Bien-Aime said female circumcision is most widely practiced in a 28-country swath of Africa, and that more than 90 percent of women in Ethiopia are believed to have been subjected to the practice.

During the trial, Adem testified he never circumcised his daughter or asked anyone else to do so. He said he grew up in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and considers the practice more prevalent in rural areas.

Adem’s attorney acknowledged that the girl had been cut, but implied that the family of the girl’s mother, who immigrated from South Africa, may have been responsible. The Adems divorced three years ago, and Hill suggested that the couple’s daughter was coached to testify against her father by her mother, who has full custody of the child.

Adem, who cried throughout the trial and during his testimony, was asked what he thought of someone who believes in the practice. He replied: “The word I can say is ‘mind in the gutter.’ He is a moron.”

The practice crosses ethnic and cultural lines and is not tied to a particular religion. Activists say it is intended to deny women sexual pleasure. In its most extreme form, the clitoris and parts of the labia are removed and the labia that remain are stitched together.

Knives, razors or even sharp stones are usually used, according to a 2001 department report. The tools are frequently not sterilized, and often, many girls are circumcised at the same ceremony, leading to infection.

It is unknown how many girls have died from the procedure, either during the cutting or from infections, or years later in childbirth. Nightmares, depression, shock and feelings of betrayal are common psychological side effects, according to a 2001 federal report.

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October 31, 2006

Raid kills 80 at Pakistani school

By Paul Garwood
ASSOCIATED PRESS

http://www.washingtontimes.com/world/20061030-114301-2101r.htm

The Washington Times

Pakistani helicopter gunships struck the remote village of Chingai, two miles from the Afghan border, destroying a religious school that the military said was a front for an al Qaeda camp. (AP)

——————————————————————————–

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani helicopter gunships yesterday destroyed a religious school that the military said was fronting as an al Qaeda training camp, killing 80 persons in the country’s deadliest military operation targeting terrorism suspects.

Islamic leaders and al Qaeda-linked militants blamed the United States for the air strike and called for nationwide demonstrations to condemn the attack that flattened the school — known as a madrassa — and ripped apart those inside. Furious villagers and religious leaders said the pre-dawn missile barrage killed innocent students and teachers.

U.S. and Pakistani military officials denied American involvement.

Among those killed in the attack in the remote northwestern village of Chingai, two miles from the Afghan border, was a cleric who had sheltered militants and was thought to be associated with al Qaeda’s deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahri.

The raid threatens efforts by President Pervez Musharraf to persuade deeply conservative tribesmen to back his government over pro-Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, who have strong support in many semiautonomous regions in northern Pakistan. The planned signing of a peace deal between tribal leaders and the military was canceled yesterday in response to the air strike.

Gen. Musharraf has been under intense pressure, particularly from the United States and Afghanistan, to rein in militant groups, particularly along the porous Pakistan-Afghanistan border, where al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and al-Zawahri are thought to be hiding. The Pakistani leader, as well as Afghan President Hamid Karzai, met with President Bush in Washington last month to address the issue.

Protests were held from the northwestern city of Peshawar to the southern city of Karachi, the largest occurring in Chingai and the Bajur district’s main town of Khar, where 2,000 tribesmen and shopkeepers chanted, “Death to Musharraf. Death to Bush.”
Fearing unrest, Britain’s Prince Charles, who arrived in Pakistan on Sunday for a five-day stay, canceled a visit planned for today to Peshawar.

The raid was launched after the madrassa’s leaders, headed by cleric Liaquat Hussain, rejected government warnings to stop using the school as a training camp for terrorists, said army spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan.

“These militants were involved in actions inside Pakistan and probably in Afghanistan,” Gen. Sultan told the Associated Press.

Militant groups in Bajur are thought to ferry fighters, weapons and supplies to Afghanistan to target U.S. forces there and Pakistani soldiers on this side of the ethnic Pashtun majority tribal belt.

Gen. Sultan said 80 persons were killed in the building, which was 100 yards from the nearest house. Local political officials and Islamic leaders corroborated the death toll.

Gen. Sultan denied reports that al-Zawahri was in the area at the time of the attack. “It is all wrong, speculative, and we launched this operation on our own to target a training facility,” he said. A Bajur-area intelligence official said word was spreading among residents that al-Zawahri may have been expected at the madrassa, but he said the reports were wrong.

Hussain, the cleric thought to have been a deputy of al-Zawahri, was among those killed, the intelligence official and residents said.

Another al-Zawahri lieutenant, Faqir Mohammed, apparently left the madrassa 30 minutes before the strike, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Hours later, Mr. Mohammed addressed 10,000 mourners at a funeral for some of the victims.

“We were peaceful, but the government attacked and killed our innocent people on orders from America,” said Mr. Mohammed, who was surrounded by dozens of militants brandishing semiautomatic weapons. “It is an open aggression.”

Three funerals were held one after the other in a field near the madrassa, where the remains of at least 50 persons were laid on wooden beds placed side by side in rows and covered with colored blankets.

Villagers walked among the beds and offered prayers. Militants, their faces covered with brown and red scarves, patrolled the crowd.

On Saturday, Mr. Mohammed led a rally of 5,000 Taliban and al Qaeda supporters nearby, during which he denounced the Pakistani and U.S. governments and praised bin Laden.

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October 30, 2006

A Muslim Manifesto for America?

By Alan Caruba

It’s always hard to pinpoint when a historic shift takes place. It is rarely as easy as Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 thesis that launched the Reformation and loosed the grip of the Catholic Church on the governance of Europe or when Henry VIII pushed Rome out of England to create the Anglican Church.

When, however, did the tiny Muslim community in America, estimated to be between two and three million—by contrast there are some six million Jews in America—begin to assert its takeover? I am going to mark it from October 19, 2006 when the Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest circulation daily, ran an article, “She’s got it covered: Designer seeks to dress the style-conscious Muslim woman” in its feature news section.

“Many Muslim women wear hijab as an expression of the Islamic tradition of modesty,” noted the article about a 27-year old American Muslim fashion designer. Born to a Jewish mother and a Catholic father, she had converted to Islam as a student at New York University after she married her husband, a Muslim.

When the media begin to find ways to offer up a positive image of Islam, you know they have probably decided that the game is over and we in the West have lost. The American media is expert at showing the white flag of surrender. They have been trumpeting the end of the world for decades now.

Wrong about the Soviet Union right up to the day it imploded. Wrong about the predictions that the Earth could not sustain six billion people. Wrong about the availability of mineral and energy resources. Wrong about global warming. Wrong about cutting taxes. Wrong about the current excellent state of the U.S. economy.

And now the surrender-addicts are ready, like our European cousins, to concede that Western civilization should just roll over and give up in the face of the worldwide Islamic jihad.

Europeans stopped attending Europe’s churches and stopped having enough babies to replace themselves in favor of creating totally unsustainable welfare states. Instead, they imported millions Muslims to do the work they became too old or too lazy to do themselves.

The United States, too, has created a cradle-to-grave socialist system that is going broke at an alarming rate even while the economy is thriving. The Bush administration is conspiring with Canada and Mexico to erase our national borders in order to create a North American Union that will throw our national sovereignty down the rat-hole of a vast bureaucracy that will not have to be responsive to those awful American voters.

As Mark Steyn says in his brilliant new book, America Alone, “We are living through a rare moment: the self-extinction of the civilization which, for good or ill, shaped the age we live in.”

The British, part of the European Union, should have paid heed in 1990 when “The Muslim Manifesto: A Strategy for Survival” was promulgated to create the Council of British Muslims to act as “a Muslim parliament” in a nation that gave us the Magna Carta, detailing the rules of property rights and individual freedoms. These days, the nations with the least amount of freedom are predominately Muslim.
http://www.muslimparliament.org.uk/MuslimManifesto.pdf

Britain’s Muslim Manifesto made it clear that “Political and cultural subservience goes against their grain” because “at its inception Islam created a political platform from which Muslims were to launch themselves on a global role as founders of great states, empires and a world civilization and culture.”

Why should an article in a leading U.S. newspaper mark the beginning of the end? According to the UK’s Muslim Manifesto, “The fact is that a Muslim woman cannot be a western woman.” The problem for Muslims in Great Britain was that “There are laws on the British Statute Book that are in direct conflict with the laws of Allah.”

“We are Muslims first and last.”

“Jihad is a basic requirement of Islam and living in Britain or having British nationality by birth or naturalization does not absolve the Muslim from his or her duty to participate in jihad: this participation can be active service in armed struggle abroad and/or the provision of material and moral support to those engaged in such struggle anywhere in the world.”

“Islam is our guide in all situations.”

Ultimately this became clear to the non-Muslim citizens of England when on July 7, 2005, born-and-bred Muslim British citizens killed some of them in London’s subways and buses. This year in August it scared a lot of people to learn that British Muslims were planning to destroy ten commercial airliners and kill thousands of travelers.

Assimilation, according to the Manifesto, wasn’t even an option. Why need it be? By the early 1990s, there were already about 1,000 mosques in Great Britain, many of them former Anglican churches that had been abandoned and sold to Muslims.

As is the case of France today, the Manifesto recommended that “The Muslim community may have to define ‘no go’ areas where the exercise of ‘freedom of speech’ against Islam will not be tolerated.”

In the now famous words of Pogo, “We have met the enemy and they are us.” If America, the lone superpower, does not hold out against the march of Islam, it will fall into the Dark Ages of Muslim control, a place where born-and-bred Americans like the fashion designer will determine what American women will wear and other Muslims will impose the Sharia law of Islam upon all of us.

The next time you want to mock the “fundamentalist” Christians, famed for their patriotism, think again.

The next time you shrug when you hear your local school system has banned the playing or singing of Christmas carols, think again.

The next time you are inclined to say or think unkind things about American or Israeli Jews, think again.

The next time your neighborhood, community or city yields to some new Islamic demand to conform to their “religious” rules, think again.

The next time you read demands that something not be published or aired in America because it offends Muslim sensibilities, think again.

The next time anyone tells you that Islam preaches tolerance or peace, think again.

This is how nations and ultimately western civilization will slip-slide into a world no American would ever want for their children and grandchildren.

http://www.annaqed.com/english/politics/
a_muslim_manifesto_for_america.html

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October 27, 2006

Archbishop backs right to wear veil and cross

Veiled criticism: Archbishop Rowan Williams say he opposes government intervention over the wearing of veils or crosses

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said on Friday he opposed any government interference in a Muslim woman’s right to wear a veil or a Christian’s right to wear a cross.

Senior British government minister Jack Straw sparked heated debate earlier this month by saying Muslim women who wore full veils made community relations harder. Prime Minister Tony Blair later called the veil “a mark of separation”.

“The ideal of a society where no visible public signs of religion would be seen – no crosses around necks, no sidelocks, turbans or veils – is a politically dangerous one,” said Williams, head of the world’s 77 million Anglicans.

“It assumes that what comes first in society is the central political ‘licensing authority’, which has all the resource it needs to create a workable public morality,” he wrote in an article in the Times newspaper.

Blair and other European leaders have said the wearing of full veils presents difficulties for their nations with Muslim communities and immigrants needing to integrate into Western societies.

The question of whether Europe is doing enough to integrate Muslims has been urgently addressed by governments since British-born Muslim suicide bombers killed 52 people in attacks on London’s transport system in July 2005.

But some Muslims say there is increasing “Islamophobia”.

“The proverbial visitor from Mars might have imagined that the greatest immediate threat to British society was religious war, fomented by ‘faith schools’, cheered on by thousands of veiled women and the Bishops’ benches in the House of Lords,” said Williams.

Last week, a British employment tribunal ruled a Muslim teaching assistant had not been discriminated against when the school where she worked asked her to remove her veil.

Earlier, a British Airways worker said she was sent home for refusing to conceal a small Christian cross while on duty.

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October 26, 2006

Australia fury at cleric comments

The cleric says his comments were taken out of context

Australia’s most senior Muslim cleric has prompted an uproar by saying that some women are attracting sexual assault by the way they dress.

Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali said women who did not wear a hijab (head dress) were like “uncovered meat”.

But he has now apologised for any offence caused by his comments, The Australian newspaper reports.

Leading Muslim women condemned the comments and PM John Howard said the remarks were “appalling”.

“The idea that women are to blame for rapes is preposterous,” Mr Howard told reporters.

In a statement released on Thursday, Sheikh Hilali said he had been quoting another, unnamed, source and did not mean his words to condone rape.

“I unreservedly apologise to any woman who is offended by my comments. I had only intended to protect women’s honour,” the statement published in The Australian said.

“Women in our Australian society have the freedom and the right to dress as they choose.

“Whether a man endorses or not a particular form of dress, any form of harassment of women is unacceptable.”

A spokesman for Sheikh Hilali earlier said the quote had been taken out of context and referred not to sexual assault, but to sexual infidelity.

The sermon was targeted against men and women who engaged in extra-marital sex and did so through alluring types of clothes, he said.

Ban threat

The leader of Australia’s largest Islamic organisation has threatened to ban the cleric from teaching at Lakemba Mosque in Western Sydney.

Tom Zreika, president of the Lebanese Muslim Association, which owns the mosque, said he condemned Sheikh Hilali’s words.

“The board [of the LMA] has unlimited powers in respect of his teachings in the mosque. We can do anything that’s required to prevent him from teaching in our mosque. If you haven’t got the backing of Australia’s largest and most established Islamic organisation then you are out on a limb,” he is quoted as saying in The Australian.

But Mr Zreika said the LMA had yet to fully review the contents of the sermon and Sheik Hilali should be offered the benefit of the doubt until any offence had been proved.

A copy of the cleric’s comments delivered in a sermon to some 500 worshippers in Sydney last month during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan was initially published in The Australian.

“If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside… and the cats come and eat it… whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat?” he asked.

The uncovered meat is the problem, he went on to say.

“If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred,” he added.

Sheikh Hilali also condemned women who swayed suggestively and wore make-up, implying they attracted sexual assault.

“Then you get a judge without mercy… and gives you 65 years,” he added.

Sheikh Hilali’s critics have previously accused him of praising suicide bombers and claiming the attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001 were “God’s work against oppressors”.

High-profile case

The BBC’s Nick Bryant in Sydney says the cleric’s latest comments are seen as particularly insensitive because Sydney was the scene six years ago of a series of gang rapes committed by a group of Lebanese Australians, who received long prison sentences.

Finance Minister Peter Costello called on Muslims to condemn the speech.

“If you have a significant religious leader like this preaching to a flock in a situation where we’ve had gang rapes, in a way that seems to make it justifiable, then people that listen to that kind of comment can get the wrong idea,” he said.

“They can actually think that it’s not as bad as it is.”

A number of leading Muslim women have already spoken out against the sermon, describing it as repulsive and offensive.

Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward said the comments could be an incitement to crime.

“Young Muslim men who now rape women can cite this in court, can quote this man… their leader in court,” she told Australian media.

She added that the cleric should be deported for inciting rape.

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October 25, 2006

Georgetown gets $20 million from prince promoting Islam Just months later, university ejects evangelical Christians from campus

By Bob Unruh
WorldNetDaily.com

The Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University has been renamed after Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal donated $20 million to its projects. And while that may be just the tail, the dog appears to be moving away from its historic Catholic and Jesuit teaching philosophy too.

The Center’s leaders say it now will be used to put on workshops regarding Islam, fostering exchanges with the Muslim world, addressing U.S. policy towards the Muslim world, working on the relationship of Islam and Arab culture, addressing Muslim citizenship and civil liberties, and developing exchange programs for students from the Muslim world.

The “Christian” part of the center’s projects at the university that has a history of 200 years of higher education following its Christian founding, is conspicuous by its absence in its website plans for its 10-year future.

But that won’t be a surprise to leaders of a number of Christian evangelical groups whose leaders recently were told to leave the campus and not list Georgetown University as a site for operations in the future.

That story, reported by WND earlier, still has folks wondering what happened to cause Georgetown officials to ban InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and others. InterVarsity spokesman Gordon Govier said the organization still doesn’t know why the move was announced by university officials, who did not return WND messages left inquiring about the situation.

“We still are a little bit confused about what happened,” he told WND. “We haven’t been able to identify clearly what happened.”

He said Christians in the InterVarsity organization still are meeting at Georgetown, but they have no official sanction and are meeting without recognition, much as many Christian churches in nations where religion is regulated meet.

He said there is a committee meeting that is supposed to hear concerns from Christians, and InterVarsity is hopeful there will be a positive outcome, but there’s no time frame set.

But the time frame for other interests that have become relevant to Georgetown are a little more apparent. The school’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding confirmed several months ago that the $20 million donation was made by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, and a short time later the Center was given the added moniker as Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

The organization now features a number of pro-Muslim statements and articles, with little reference to any Christian statements or understandings. It even has co-sponsored events with CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

CAIR is a spin-off of the Islamic Association for Palestine, identified by two former FBI counterterrorism chiefs as a “front group” for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Several CAIR leaders have been convicted on terrorism-related charges.

The center’s chief, John L. Esposito, summarizes the goals of the organization clearly: “The Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding is concerned with Islam and the West and Islam in the West. The Center, since its creation in 1993, has built bridges of understanding between the Muslim world and the West, addressing stereotypes of Islam and Muslims and issues and questions such as the clash of civilizations, and the compatibility of Islam and modern life – from democratization and pluralism to the status of women, minorities and human rights – and American foreign policy in the Muslim world.”

The Center says it recognizes the increasing demands because of the world’s “critical turning point in the history of Muslim-Christian relations” so it will expand its expertise base and operations, “as well as strengthen the website as a source of critical information about Islam and the Muslim world.”

The Center’s assistant director, Huma Malik, told WND that the $20 million came from the prince because the center is working on projects that interest him, but she could not comment on the influence of the donation or why the evangelical Christians were barred from campus.

The center was founded in 1993 in cooperation with the Fondation pour L’Entante entre Chretians at Musulmans in Geneva “to build strong bridge of understanding between the Muslim world and the West as well as between Islam and Christianity.”

The message of acting as an information source for Islam was reinforced in the fact that while the Center’s website includes a link for Islamic Resources, there is none for Christian resources.

It also takes a distinct policy stance, with Esposito noting in a recent posting that “despite ‘HAMAS’ victory in free and democratic elections, the United States and Europe failed to give the party full recognition and support,” he wrote.

That type of behavior, he said, provides reasons for “many Muslim autocratic rulers’ to retreat from democratization, and he cited a Gallup World Study that says it is the policies of the U.S. that generate hurt in the Muslim world.

“One billion Muslims from Morocco to Indonesia … tell us that U.S. policies, not values, are behind the ire of the Arab/ Muslim world,” he wrote.

Those voices, he wrote, say that while America and the United Kingdom are disliked, other Western nations such as France and Germany are not. He also wrote that the U.S. is suspected because of its relationship to Israel.

“The United States failed to support UN mediation in the face of clear violations of international law, refused to heed calls for a ceasefire and UN intervention, and continued to provide military assistance to Israel,” he said of the recent conflict, triggered by a military attack on Israeli soldiers.

“America’s unconditional support of Israel cast it in the eyes of many as a partner, not simply in military action against HAMAS or Hizbollah militants, but in a war against the democratically elected Palestinian government in Gaza and the government of Lebanon, a long-time US ally,” he said.

“The primary victims in Gaza and Lebanon were hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, not terrorists. In Lebanon, more than 500 were killed, 2,000 wounded, and 800,000 displaced. Israeli’s military destroyed the civilian infrastructures of both Gaza and Lebanon.”

He said “HAMAS and Hizbollah” both are elected political parties, even though the U.S. and others have labeled them “terrorist organizations.”

The Center, on a daily news clip posting, highlighted stories quoting a Mecca Imam saying non-Muslims are attacking Muslims out of fear of being over-run by Muslims and the London mayor noting that Muslims in Britain are being “demonized,” comparing their recent treatment in London to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany.

Faculty members also are being interviewed by al-Jazeera, a network with sources in many terrorist camps.

The prince, who controls tens of billions of dollars in investments in Morgan Stanley, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Deutsche Bank, Apple Computer, Hewlett-Packard, Kodak, The Walt Disney company and ebay, works through the Kingdom Holdings company.

He also had given a similar $20 million gift to Harvard, which sponsors a Harvard Law School Islamic Legal Studies Program, and the Islamic Finance Project, which looks at the legal and sharia points of view of situations, officials said.

The Alliance Defense Fund earlier wrote a letter to Georgetown asking for reconsideration of its ban on several Christian groups. Officials said no response was received.

Those in a position to know have reported that the Christian groups were booted from campus for being too evangelical, because student clubs promoting Muslim and Jewish beliefs were allowed to continue existing with the formal campus structure.

The Christian groups’ brush-off letter from the university starts: “Blessings and may God’s peace be upon you!” but deteriorates shortly later to: “Protestant Ministry has decided to move in another direction.”

As a result, Georgetown said, “Your ministries will no longer be allowed to hold any activity or presence (i.e. bible (sic) studies, retreats with Georgetown students, Mid-week (sic) worship services, fellowship events, move-in assistance, SAC Fair, etc.) on campus.”

Further, the school told the ministry organizations, “All websites linking your ministries to a presence at Georgetown University will need to be modified to reflect the terminated relationship. Your ministries are not to publicize in any literature, media, advertisement, etc. that Georgetown University is or will be an active ministry site for your ministry/church/denomination.”

Kevin Offer, who worked with the InterVarsity program at Georgetown, said something had been developing, because the university also recently had started requiring student ministry leaders to meet for formal meetings with the school.

“School officials asked questions about what they ‘tell students behind closed doors,'” he said.

—————————————————–

Bob Unruh is a news editor for WorldNetDaily.com.

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October 22, 2006

Evangelist’s views on Islam draw critics in Winnipeg

Last Updated: Sunday, October 22, 2006 | 12:28 PM ET
CBC News

A group called Operation Bless Our Enemies gathered outside the MTS Centre to counter Graham’s views.
(CBC)

Controversy over past comments about Islam followed U.S. evangelist Franklin Graham to Winnipeg, where he wrapped up a three-day Christian festival on Sunday.

Graham has been quoted calling on the U.S. “to use weapons of mass destruction if need be” and referring to Islam as “a very evil and a very wicked religion.”

Outside the MTS Centre, other Christians have been trying to remind people they don’t share Graham’s message.

“We’re handing out leaflets to passersby to encourage them to embrace the gospel of full love for all people, which includes praying, but also not dropping bombs or saying hateful things,” said Mennonite protester Aiden Enns on Friday.

Festival organizer Dan Klug said people of all faiths were welcome to attend the events and that the son of evangelist Billy Graham did not come to Winnipeg to cause controversy.

“I know Franklin has said statements critical of Islam — the teachings of Islam — but he has an affinity and deep heart for the Muslim people,” Klug said.

In an interview with CBC News, Graham said he “hasn’t seen anything” to change his mind about Islam, but he doesn’t harbour the same negative assessment of the people who follow that religion.

“There are millions and millions of Muslims in the world. I certainly respect and admire their sincerity, but I feel sorry for them,” he said.

Winnipeg is the only Canadian stop on the 2006 Franklin Graham Tour.

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October 21, 2006

Veil teacher link to 7/7 bomber

by SAM GREENHILL and LAURA CLAR

Classroom assistant Aishah Azmi
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/
live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=
411748&in_page_id=1770

The Muslim teacher suspended for refusing to work without her veil is connected to a hardline mosque where the ringleader of the July 7 bombers worshipped, it has emerged.

The family of classroom assistant Aishah Azmi, 24, plays a key role at the fundamentalist Markazi mosque in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire – which was attended by suicide bomber Mohammed Sidique Khan.

Until recently, Miss Azmi’s father was joint headmaster of the secondary school attached to the building.

The family are known to worship there and may have encountered Khan before his terrorist act.

However, there is no suggestion that Miss Azmi or anyone in her family have any connection with terrorism.

Tube bomber Khan and co-conspirator Shehzad Tanweer are said to have attended prayers at the mosque.

Khan, 30, who worked as a teaching assistant in nearby Leeds, lived in the town with his Indian wife Hasima Patel before killing himself and six others in the Edgware Road blast last year.

The mosque is run by Tablighi Jamaat, a radical Islamic movement believed by intelligence agencies to be a fertile source for recruiting young extremists.

Two months ago, Tablighi emerged as a link between several of the men arrested over the plot to use liquid bombs to blow up transatlantic airliners.

Richard Reid, the jailed shoebomber who tried to blow up a flight to America, also attended mosques run by the group.

As a woman, Miss Azmi is more likely to pray at home than attend the mosque, although it does have a room reserved for females.

But her father, Dr Mohammed Mulk, is understood to be a regular, and is named as a joint headmaster of the mosque’s school, Jaamia Talimul Islam.

The grand 3,000-capacity building towers over the redbrick terraced streets of Saviletown, a Muslim enclave of Dewsbury.

The school was criticised by Government inspectors for being less of a classroom and more of a madrassah – an Islamic teaching house where pupils learn the Koran by rote.

Ofsted slated the school’s ‘over-emphasis’ on religion, concluding in a report: ‘Teachers showed limited understanding of pupils aptitudes, needs and prior attainments.’

The inspectors, who visited in March last year, said the over-emphasis on religion meant secular studies were neglected.

Miss Azmi’s father responded at the time by telling the Times Educational Supplement: ‘Parents send their children here for an Islamic education. They don’t want their sons to take exams.’

A spokesman for the mosque said yesterday: ‘He is not the headmaster any more. I cannot pass on his details to you. The spokesman insisted the mosque had no links to Islamic extremism, adding: ‘We do not create those sorts of people.

‘We are an organisation that offers information to Muslims on how to reform themselves.’

Yesterday a Muslim Labour MP urged Miss Azmi to drop the appeal she is planning after losing her legal battle to wear a face veil in class.

Shahid Malik, who represents Dewsbury, said there was ‘no sense’ in continuing her fight. It has emerged she is seeking tens of thousands of pounds in legal aid to fund her case.

Tory leader David Cameron backed Headfield Church of England Junior School in Dewsbury which suspended her.

On Thursday the tribunal found the school had been within its rights to stop her employment if it feared the veil was affecting the children’s education.

Leader of the Commons Jack Straw triggered the debate when he said he asks constituents to remove their veils during consultations. Tony Blair described the veil as a ‘mark of separation’.

Mrs Azmi was not at home last night and calls to spokesman Nick Whittingham were not returned.

Dr Helmy Guirguis

President, UK Coptic Association

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October 20, 2006

Growing violence against Christians in Iraq

Thousands of frightened Iraqi Christians are fleeing Iraq, after an escalation in anti-Christian violence.

Several horrific attacks on Christians in the last three weeks have increased the fear amongst the Christian community. This appears to be a response to a call by militants for increased violence during the Islamic fasting month, Ramadan (which this year is 24th September – 23rd October). On Wednesday October 4th an explosion was detonated in the mainly Christian district of Camp Sara, Baghdad. As people gathered round to help the wounded a second, larger explosion occurred. Nine Christians were killed in the attack, one of the largest deathtolls for a single attack. Observers say that the timing of the two consecutive bombs was similar to that of the attack on a church in Baghdad on 24th September.

On Tuesday 10th October Paulos Iskander, an Iraqi church minister, was abducted in Mosul. Iskander’s eldest son received a phone call from the kidnappers demanding a ransom of $250,000; the family, unable to raise this money, were able to negotiate for a ransom of $40,000, but the kidnappers also demanded that Iskander’s church publicly repudiate the remarks about Islam quoted by Pope Benedict XVI last month. When Iskander’s family asked for proof that he was still alive the kidnappers held up the phone so that the sounds of crying and screaming could be heard. The family began to raise the ransom by asking churches and Christians in the area to help, and arranging several loans. Iskander’s church as well as several other churches placed 30 large posters around the city to distance themselves from the Pope’s words. However, before the ransom could be paid Iskander’s decapitated body was discovered on 12th October, dumped in an outlying suburb of Mosul. His body showed signs of torture, with cigarette burns, bullet holes and wounds from beatings. His hands and legs had been severed, and arranged around his head which was placed on his chest. Iskander’s family later received a phone call from the kidnappers, who taunted them that Iskander “had a lot of blood in him”.

In Baquba, 65km north-east of Baghdad, a Christian doctor was abducted and killed on his way to work in Baquba hospital. There has also been an unconfirmed report that a 14-year-old Christian boy was crucified in Basra.

Amidst the surge in hostility towards Christians in recent weeks, Christian girls have increasingly become the target in a spate of kidnappings and rapes. The girls are taken from their families at gunpoint, from their homes or snatched off streets into waiting cars. They are frequently raped and abused while in captivity, only released if their families are able to find the large ransoms demanded. The shame of their ordeal, which is felt far more in such a culture than in the West, can make the victims suicidal. In one case a girl killed herself after being abducted and gang raped by nine men. When the abductors allowed her to call her family she asked them not to pay the ransom. The family did pay and she was returned to them, but she was found dead the following morning; she had taken an overdose of sleeping pills. In another case five Christian girls were kidnapped in front of policemen as they tried to obtain passports from a travel and citizenship department in Baghdad. The police did nothing to try to stop the kidnappers. Indeed police forces in Iraq generally seem either unable or unwilling to do anything to protect Christians, and it is reported that some are even participating in these brutal crimes against Christian women and children.

As Christians leave their homes out of fear of the violence around them, some have been specifically threatened to force them to leave. Thirty families in Mosul received messages on their mobile phones on 30th September telling them to leave within 72 hours or they would be killed. The continued exodus of Christians from Iraq and persecution of those who remain leads some to predict that there may soon be an end to the ancient Christian presence in this country.

Please pray for shocked and grieving Christians coming to terms with the horrific deaths of their loved ones. Pray that they will have peace in their hearts, and feel themselves comforted and protected, held in God’s everlasting arms.

Pray for peace in Iraq, and in particular that the violence against Christians will come to an end. Pray that police and security forces in Iraq will protect all citizens irrespective of their faith.

Barnabas Fund …hope and aid for the persecuted church. Visit our website: www.barnabasfund.org

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October 18, 2006

Attorney Sees Pro-Islam Bias in Religious Indoctrination Case Rulings

By Chad Groening
October 18, 2006

(AgapePress) – A spokesman for a Michigan-based law center that defends and promotes the religious freedom of Christians says a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear an Islamic indoctrination case indicates that Islam is “in” and Christianity is “out.”

The Thomas More Law Center represented the parents of the California seventh-graders who were subjected to an intensive, three-week indoctrination in Islam at school. The students were forced to become Muslims, in effect, and were not allowed to say anything critical about the religion.

The original trial court and the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the indoctrination as constitutional. And now that the Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal, the Ninth Circuit’s ruling will stand.

Edward L. White III, trial counsel for the Thomas More Law Center, says the Byron Union School District in Contra Costa County, California, simply went too far with this school assignment. “The parents in this case objected to it,” he explains, “not because Islam was being taught in the school, but because the school had crossed the line and started to teach the religion.”

In other words, the school, “instead of teaching about the religion, started teaching the children to become Muslims,” White says. “And the parents had never been told beforehand what was going to go on.” But the problem of insufficient parental notification is only one of a number of issues of concern.

The pro-family attorney has serious questions about why the court would allow a school to compel students to become followers of Islam as a school exercise. That is particularly problematic, he suggests, when the court would almost certainly have rejected a similar exercise involving other religious faiths as obviously impermissible.

“Everyone knows if Christianity, for example, had been taught the same way as Islam had been taught in this class, that the ACLU would have been in federal court within minutes,” White asserts, “and the same judge who ruled against us would have ruled in favor of the ACLU and not allowed a class on Catholicism.”

The Thomas More Law Center spokesman doubts such a class would make it out of court — if it even managed to get a hearing. “Even if you wanted to call it cultural education or just fun, it would never happen,” the lawyer asserts. “So if we know it’s not going to happen with Christianity or with Judaism, for example, it shouldn’t happen with Islam,” he says.

“If you’re going to uphold the Establishment Clause, then the Establishment Clause has to be applied equally,” White adds. But apparently, he observes, while the Ninth Circuit is perfectly willing to rule “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional, Muslim indoctrination is perfectly okay with the court.
——————————————————————————–

Chad Groening, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is a reporter for American Family Radio News, which can be heard online.

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October 14, 2006

British Airways suspends a Christian for wearing a cross – but lets Muslims wear hijabs

Christian BA employee to take legal action over suspension for wearing cross
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/
news.html?in_article_id=410299&in_page_id=1770

By JANE MERRICK

Nadia Eweida: BA said she had failed to comply with their ‘uniform regulations’

A committed Christian said today she planned to take legal action against her employers British Airways after the airline ruled that displaying her crucifix breached uniform rules
Heathrow check-in worker Nadia Eweida was sent home after refusing to remove the crucifix which breached BA’s dress code.

Her treatment by BA – which styles itself as the “world’s favourite airline” – brought condemnation both from Christian groups and members of other faiths last night.

BA’s chief executive Willie Walsh has upheld the action against Miss Eweida for failing to comply with “uniform regulations” despite himself coming under fire recently for failing to wear a tie.

Miss Eweida, who has an unblemished record during seven years at BA, is suing her employer for religious discrimination after being suspended from work without pay for two weeks.

She said her treatment was all the more extraordinary as she and fellow employees had just undergone “diversity training” – including receiving advice from pressure group Stonewall on how to treat gays and lesbians in the workplace.

The airline’s uniform code states that staff must not wear visible jewellery or other ‘adornments’ while on duty without permission from management.

It makes exceptions for Muslim and Sikh minorities by allowing them to wear hijabs and turbans.

Under rules drawn up by BA’s ‘diversity team’ and ‘uniform committee’, Sikh employees can even wear the traditional iron bangle – even though this would usually be classed as jewellery – while Muslim workers are also allowed prayer breaks during work time.

But Miss Eweida, 55, from Twickenham, insisted her cross, which is smaller than a ten pence piece, was not jewellery but an expression of her deep Christian faith.

She questioned why she was being forced to hide her religion when BA’s Muslim and Sikh workers could express theirs.

Miss Eweida said last night: “I will not hide my belief in the Lord Jesus. British Airways permits Muslims to wear a headscarf, Sikhs to wear a turban and other faiths religious apparel.

“Only Christians are forbidden to express their faith. I am a loyal and conscientious employee of British Airways, but I stand up for the rights of all citizens.”

Her case comes at a time of intense debate over the rights of individuals to express their belief – following Jack Straw’s call for Muslim women to remove their veils.

Earlier this month it emerged BBC governors had agonised over whether newsreader Fiona Bruce should wear a small cross on a chain around her neck while on air in case it might cause offence by suggesting a religious affiliation.

Miss Eweida, a Coptic Christian whose father is Egyptian and mother English, was ordered to remove her cross or hide it beneath a company cravat by a duty manager at Heathrow’s Terminal 4 last month.

She then sought permission from management to wear the chain – but was turned down.

When Miss Eweida, who is unmarried, refused to remove the necklace she was offered the choice of suspension with pay or unpaid leave, pending a disciplinary hearing.

Following a meeting with her managers on 22 September 2006, Customer Service Manager Caroline Girling told Miss Eweida in a letter: “You have been sent home because you have failed to comply with a reasonable request.

“You were asked to cover up or remove your cross and chain which you refused to do.

“British Airways uniform standards stipulate that adornments of any kind are not to be worn with the uniform.”

In a letter to Miss Eweida’s MP, Vince Cable, last week, BA chief executive Willie Walsh insisted his employee had not yet been disciplined but said she was off work for failing to comply with “uniform regulations”.

He added: “We have previously made changes to our uniform policy to accommodate requests, after a detailed evaluation process including Health and Safety assessment to incorporate the wearing of Sikh bangles.”

But Miss Eweida said: “BA refuses to recognise the wearing of a cross as a manifestation of the Christian faith, but rather defines it as a piece of decorative jewellery.

“I would like to say how disappointed I am in this decision and the lack of respect shown by BA towards the Christian faith.

“I have been badly treated. I am a loyal and hardworking employee and for seeking similar rights to other employees, I have been treated harshly by British Airways management.

“British Airway can be great again, but it needs to treat Chrstians fairly. I am not ashamed of my faith.”

Miss Eweida is suing BA under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003.

Her case is being supported by her union, the TGWU, and she has hired Paul Diamond, a barrister specialising in religious affairs and an adviser for the Keep Sunday Special campaign, to represent her at her employment tribunal.

And a petition of support has been signed by more than 200 fellow workers.

BA is already at the centre of a criminal investigation into alleged price-fixing – which has led to the resignations of two executives.

The airline has come under fire in the past for its adherence to political correctness.

A decade ago it attempted to ditch its traditional Union Flag tailfin in favour of an ethnic design – which provoked the anger of Baroness Thatcher.

Mr Cable, MP for Twickenham and Liberal Democrat deputy leader said: “It is absolutely mind boggling that Britain’s flag-carrying airline could treat its employees in such a disgraceful and petty manner.

“Nadia is a devout Christian who was displaying her faith, but in a modest and totally unprovocative manner.

“It is absolutely right that other religious minorities be allowed exemption from the dress code, but why can’t a Christian be treated in the same way?”

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, international director of the Christian charity the Barnabas Fund, said: “Discrimination against Christians is commonplace in Muslim-majority contexts, such as Egypt where Nadia’s family roots are. “Now we see the same thing increasingly happening within the UK.

“Her Sikh and Muslim colleagues at BA can show their faith publicly in what they wear, but Nadia and other Christians cannot. All we are asking for is a level playing field for all faiths.”

Andrea Williams of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship said: “The forces of political correctness are such that an individual needs to be very determined to protect their rights.”

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October 13, 2006

Muslim extremists face crackdown in Australia

Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia, as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks. A day after a group of mainstream Muslim leaders pledged loyalty to Australia and her Queen at a special meeting with Prime Minister John Howard, he and his Ministers made it clear that extremists would face a crackdown.

Treasurer Peter Costello, seen as heir apparent to Howard, hinted that some radical clerics could be asked to leave the country if they did not accept thatAustralia was a secular state, and its laws were made by parliament. “If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you”, he said on National Television.

“I’d be saying to clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people in Australia: one the Australian law and another the Islamic law, that is false. If you can’t agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy, and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country, which practices it, perhaps, then, that’s a better option”, Costello said. Asked whether he meant radical clerics would be forced to leave, He said those with dual citizenship could possibly be asked to move to the other country.

Education Minister Brendan Nelson later told reporters that Muslims who did not want to accept local values should “clear off. Basically people who don’t want to be Australians, and who don’t want, to live by Australian values and understand them, well then, they can basically clear off”, he said. Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation’s mosques Quote: “IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.”

“However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the ‘politically correct’ crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others. I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to Australia.” “However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand.” “This idea of Australia being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. And as Australians, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle.”

“This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom” “We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society .. Learn the language!” “Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as Your new home, because God is part of our culture.” “We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.” “If the Southern Cross offends you, or you don’t like “A Fair Go”, then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don’t care how you did things where you came from. By all means, keep your culture, but do not force it on others.

“This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will
Allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian Beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, ‘THE RIGHT TO LEAVE’.”

“If you aren’t happy here then LEAVE. We didn’t force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted.”

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October 12, 2006

Islamic Group Beheads Assyrian Priest, Crucifies 14 Year Old Boy in North Iraq

Mosul, Iraq (AINA) — On Monday, October 9, a prominent Assyrian (also known as Chaldean and Syriac) priest, Fr. Paulos Iskander (Paul Alexander), was kidnapped by an unknown Islamic group. His ransom was posted at either $250,000 or $350,000. This group had demanded that signs be posted once again on his church apologizing for the Pope’s remarks as a condition for negotiations to begin.

Father Alexander was beheaded on Wednesday.

An email from a priest in Sweden, Adris Hanna, describes the Muslim terror campaign against the Christians in Iraq:

The Syriac-Orhtodox priest Paulos Iskandar was kidnapped this Monday, October 9, and beheaded today Wednesday October 11.

The Bishop in Mosul wrote me an email tonight and told me that the funeral will be held in Mosul tomorrow.

Christians are living a terrified life in Mosul and Baghdad. Several priests have been kidnapped, girls are being raped and murdered and a couple of days ago a fourteen year old boy was crucified in the Christian neighborhood Albasra.

I have also spoken to a group of nuns that were robbed and treated brutally on their way between Baghdad to Amman in Jordan.

The murder of father Paulus is the final blow for Christians, and now only hell is expected for the Christians of Iraq.

We the oriental Christians in Sweden and the rest of the Western world must protest against the genocide. We must do what we can to stop the rape, threats, hatred, robberies, murders… We must do something.

These latest murders continue an escalating pattern (1, 2, 3) of attacks against Iraq’s Christians. On October fourth a bomb ripped through an Assyrian neighorhood, killing 9 (AINA 10-11-2006).

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October 12, 2006

Muslim extremists face crackdown in Australia

Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia, as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks. A day after a group of mainstream Muslim leaders pledged loyalty to Australia and her Queen at a special meeting with Prime Minister John Howard, he and his Ministers made it clear that extremists would face a crackdown. Treasurer Peter Costello, seen as heir apparent to Howard, hinted that some radical clerics could be asked to leave the country if they did not accept thatAustralia was a secular state, and its laws were made by parliament. “If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you”, he said on National Television.

“I’d be saying to clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people in Australia: one the Australian law and another the Islamic law, that is false. If you can’t agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy, and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country, which practices it, perhaps, then, that’s a better option”, Costello said. Asked whether he meant radical clerics would be forced to leave, He said those with dual citizenship could possibly be asked to move to the other country. Education Minister Brendan Nelson later told reporters that Muslims who did not want to accept local values should “clear off. Basically people who don’t want to be Australians, and who don’t want, to live by Australian values and understand them, well then, they can basically clear off”, he said. Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation’s mosques Quote: “IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.”

“However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the ‘politically correct’ crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others. I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to Australia.” “However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand.” “This idea of Australia being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. And as Australians, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle.”

“This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom” “We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society .. Learn the language!” “Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as
Your new home, because God is part of our culture.” “We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.” “If the Southern Cross offends you, or you don’t like “A Fair Go”, then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don’t care how you did things where you came from. By all means, keep your culture, but do not force it on others.

“This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will
Allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian Beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, ‘THE RIGHT TO LEAVE’.”

“If you aren’t happy here then LEAVE. We didn’t force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted.”

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October 12, 2006

Mother killed after teen rejects Islam

Tha Australian
Annabelle McDonald and Jeremy Roberts

A TEENAGE girl’s decision to tell her father she was converting from Islam to Christianity sparked a stabbing frenzy that left her mother dead and her father critically injured.

Neighbour Caitlin Dalton, 20, heard 17-year-old Kaihana Hussain screaming from the three-bedroom apartment on Queensland’s Gold Coast just before 7pm on Monday night.

Ms Dalton claimed the girl, who spoke with an accent and did not wear a hijab, later said her father went berserk when she told him she was rejecting Islam.

“She just looked like she wanted to be a normal, outgoing girl,” Ms Dalton said. “She was saying her parents were really strict on her and really strict Muslims. She was telling her father she was converting from Islam to Christianity. That’s when it all started.”

An autopsy on the teenager’s mother, 41-year-old Yasmin Hussain, found she died from a single stab wound to her chest.

Her husband, Muhammad Hussain, 49, was in a critical condition at the Gold Coast hospital in an induced coma after suffering a stab wound to his chest.

Police have not yet laid any charges in relation to the killing on Monday night, nor have they been able to interview Dr Hussain, a general practitioner who moved to the Gold Coast suburb of Southport from Adelaide less than two weeks ago.

In Adelaide, the family’s former neighbours and workmates described a quiet and strict father and a devout and forceful mother.

The parents appeared to control almost every minute of Kaihana’s life, and had decided what religion and career she would follow. “I only saw the girl a couple of times – her mother took her to school and picked her up,” said a neighbour.

“She had to be a doctor – that was the way it was,” said another neighbour who talked regularly with Dr Hussain.

Yasmin Hussain’s former boss at a local Indian restaurant – where she was renowned for her Islamic sweets, work ethic and passion for cooking – said the parents “sheltered” Kaihana.

The restaurant owner said Kaihana was required to come to the restaurant on holidays and when the rest of her class at local Pembroke School was on camp.

The choice of Pembroke School was curious for devout Muslim parents, as Pembroke is a liberal, co-educational, non-denominational Christian school with a good scholastic and sports record. It is a short walk from the family’s modest single-storey townhouse on a back street in affluent Kensington, in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs.

Kaihana was in Year 10 last year and won an academic award.

Gold Coast Muslims yesterday lashed out against claims the murder was a Koran-sanctioned ritual killing to punish the rejection of Islam.

“There is no ritual killing in Islam,” Gold Coast imam Imraan Husain said at his mosque yesterday. “In certain Third World countries they have honour killings, but it has nothing to do with Islam. If a girl chooses to become a Christian, that is her choice and there are no sharia killings in this country.”

One Koran passage quotes Mohammed as saying “whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him”. However, Mr Husain said this was not meant to be read literally.

“If you only look at the surface reading, you can find contradictions in any book,” he said.

“If (Dr Hussain) did kill his wife then that is absolutely un-Islamic and he is regarded as a murderer in Islam.”

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October 9, 2006

Franklin Graham blasts Islam, says will rebuild churches in Sudan

The Associated Press
Published: October 9, 2006

RALEIGH, North Carolina The Rev. Franklin Graham, a Christian evangelist whose criticism of Islam has frequently outraged Muslims, said Islam teaches its followers to “persecute” others until they convert, with the aim being “total domination.”

Graham’s comments, reported in The News & Observer, came as the evangelist said he plans to rebuild hundreds of churches that have been destroyed by the Sudanese government and its allied militias.

“There’s a war taking place against the church of Jesus Christ in Africa,” Graham said, arguing that the battle pits Muslims against Christians in countries such as Ethiopia and Sudan, where fighting in the Darfur region has left 200,000 people killed and 2.5 million other homeless.

In the wake of the 2001 attacks on the United States, Graham outraged Muslims in 2001 when he said that Islam “is a very evil and wicked religion.” In an interview last March, he told ABC News’ “Nightline” that he had not changed his mind about the faith.

In his latest salvo, Graham told The News & Observer: “It’s the teaching of Islam that is not tolerant of any other faith.”

“It’s world domination. When they dominate an area, they’ll let other belief systems exist, but they’ll persecute them so that (people) convert to Islam and there’s total domination. Once you’re in Islam you can’t get out of it. If you leave Islam you have to be killed,” said Graham, who is scheduled to speak Tuesday at a fundraiser for the work in Sudan by his international Christian relief group, Samaritan’s Purse.

Graham and other evangelicals say they are particularly opposed to what they say is a lack of religious liberty in countries like Saudi Arabia, which do not allow churches or the preaching of relgions other than Islam.

He met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir three years ago and said he pleaded with him to give Christians full freedom.

Graham, the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, said he has identified 226 churches destroyed or burned in Sudan and that his group has completed or is building 34. In Sudan, his group has a staff of 21 as well as 100 Sudanese assistants. The project is estimated to cost about $5 million (€4 million) and includes bringing in Christian pastors from Arabic-speaking countries for one-month stays, he said.

The Winston Joseph Foundation, a Raleigh-based organization that has supported economic development projects in Africa, is helping.

The evangelist’s comments drew a quick reply from Islamic scholars. Ebrahim Moosa, a professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University, said the problems to which Graham referred were not as simple as Muslims against Christians and that such a characterization only stokes more problems.

“There are intractable political problems in which religion becomes a language to express political grievances,” Moosa said. “It’s an abuse of religion.”

Graham, however, said he bears no ill will to Muslims.

“As a minister,” said Graham, “I love the Muslim people. I see what’s done in the name of Islam and think it’s my responsibility to speak out. I think God loves them as equally as he loves me. I think he wants them to know the truth.”

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October 3, 2006

Appeal on school’s lesson in Muslim culture is rejected

Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 3, 2006

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday by evangelical Christian students and their parents who said a Contra Costa County school district engaged in unconstitutional religious indoctrination when it taught students about Islam by having them recite language from prayers.

The court, without comment, left intact a ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco last November in favor of the Byron Union School District in eastern Contra Costa.

The suit challenged the content of a seventh-grade history course at Excelsior Middle School in Byron in the fall of 2001. The teacher, using an instructional guide, told students they would adopt roles as Muslims for three weeks to help them learn what Muslims believe.

She encouraged them to use Muslim names, recited prayers in class, had them memorize and recite a passage from the Quran and made them give up something for a day, such as television or candy, to simulate fasting during the month of Ramadan. The final exam asked students for a critique of elements of Muslim culture.

The students and parents who sued argued that the class activities had crossed the line from education into an official endorsement of a religious practice. A federal judge and the appeals court disagreed, saying the class had an instructional purpose and the students had engaged in no actual religious exercises.

Linda Lye, a lawyer for the school district, said the same instructional material remains available for classes, though it is not required.

“I’m delighted that the Byron Union School District can put this case finally behind it and get on with educating children and exposing them to the world’s great cultures and religions in an appropriate way,” Lye said.

Edward White of the Thomas More Law Center, an attorney who represented the plaintiffs, said the Supreme Court’s rejection surprised him. The case “presents significant issues of national importance with regard to public school education and religious indoctrination of children,” he said.

The case is Eklund vs. Byron Union School District, 05-1539.

E-mail Bob Egelko at begelko@sfchronicle.com.

Page A – 4
URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/10/03/MNG4ILH1201.DTL

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September 23, 2006

Jose Maria Azner

FORMER SPANISH PRESIDENT
Aznar:“Muslims should apologize for occupying Spain for 800 years”

Bush and his war on terror, said the West is under attack from radical Islam and must defend itself. “It is them or it is us,” Aznar said. “There is no middle ground.”

Muslims should apologize for occupying Spain for 800 years and a U.N.-backed program to encourage dialogue between them and West is stupid, former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar has said. Aznar made his comments Friday night in a speech at the Hudson Institute, a thinktank in Washington, D.C., as he discussed Pope Benedict XVI’s recent remarks on Islam and violence. Aznar, a firm ally of U.S. President George W.

Bush and his war on terror, said the West is under attack from radical Islam and must defend itself. “It is them or it is us,” Aznar said. “There is no middle ground.” He did not elaborate. Aznar said he found it surprising that Muslims have demanded an apology from the pope over his Sept. 12 remarks.

Aznar noted the nearly 800-year Moorish occupation of Spain that began in the year 711 with an invasion from North Africa. He said Muslims had never apologized for this but still demand apologies whenever they feel offended by remarks by non-Muslims. “It’s absurd,” Aznar said.

He also criticized an initiative launched last year by his Socialist successor, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, to encourage dialogue between the West and Muslim countries.

http://www.eitb24.com/portal/eitb24/noticia/en/politics/former-spanish-president-aznar-ldquomuslims-should-apologize-for-?itemId=B24_11616&cl=%2Feitb24%2Fpolitica&idioma=en

Basque News and Information Channel

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September 17, 2006

Italian nun shot dead by Somali gunmen

Killing comes hours after top Muslim cleric condemns pope’s Islam remarks

MOGADISHU, Somalia – Two gunmen killed an Italian nun and her bodyguard at a hospital Sunday, and a security official for an Islamic militia controlling the capital speculated the attack was linked to worldwide Muslim anger over a speech by Pope Benedict XVI.

The nun, whose identify was not released, was shot in the back four times at the entrance to the Austrian-run S.O.S. Hospital in northern Mogadishu, said Dr. Mohamed Yusuf, a physician at the facility, which serves mothers and children.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which came hours after a leading Somali cleric condemned remarks by the pope that quoted a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of Islam’s founder as “evil and inhuman.”

The head of security for the Islamic militia, Yusuf Mohamed Siad, said one man had been arrested and a second was being hunted. He said the killing might have stemmed from the uproar over the pope but stressed he didn’t know for sure.
‘A horrible episode’
“They could be people annoyed by the pope’s speech, which angered all Muslims in the world, or they could have been having something to do with S.O.S,” he said. “We will have to clarify this through our investigation.”

A Vatican spokesman called the nun’s slaying “a horrible episode,” the Italian news agency ANSA said.

“Let’s hope that it will be an isolated fact,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi said. He expressed hope Muslim anger would ease after Benedict apologized Sunday for the angry reaction to his remarks, which he said came from a text that didn’t reflect his personal opinion.

The nun, who spoke fluent Somali, was believed to be around 60 and had been working at the hospital since 2002, people at the hospital said, insisting on anonymity for fear of reprisals. She taught at the hospital and also looked after children, said one doctor.

Her body was being flown to Nairobi, Kenya, before being returned to Italy, he added.

Like many foreigners, she traveled with a bodyguard in Somalia, which sank into anarchy after warlords overthrew the country’s longtime dictator in 1991.

Foreigners are frequent targets
But attacks on foreigners have continued. In June an award-winning Swedish journalist, Martin Adler, was fatally shot while covering a demonstration in Mogadishu. Veteran Italian aid worker Annalena Tonelli was shot dead in 2003 in the breakaway republic of Somaliland in the north.

Islamic fundamentalists have stepped into the political and security vacuum, seizing control of Mogadishu and much of Somalia’s south, imposing strict religious rule.

A U.N.-backed acting government was established two years ago, but it has failed to assert any power outside its base in Baidoa, 150 miles from Mogadishu.

The Islamic militia’s courts are credited with bringing a semblance of order, but the West fears the emergence of a Taliban-style regime.

On Sunday, a Somali cleric strongly criticized Benedict’s speech. “The pope’s statement at this time was not only wrong but irresponsible as well,” said Sheik Nor Barud, deputy leader of the Somali Muslim Scholars Association.

“Both the Pope and the Byzantine emperor he quoted are ignorant of Islam and its noble prophet,” he told journalists at a news conference.

© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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September 15, 2006

Amusement Park Apartheid

By Joe Kaufman
FrontPageMagazine.com

The event, which also goes by the name “Muslim Youth Day,” is being sponsored by the New Jersey chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), a militant organization tethered to the Muslim Brotherhood of Pakistan, Jamaat-e-Islami. “Muslim Youth Day” has been celebrated since September of 2000, when the first one took place. At the time, it was heralded a huge success. As one paper put it, “More than 8,000 Muslims, both orthodox and non-practicing, jammed into the amusement park…”

Speaking at the 2000 event were officials from numerous radical Islamist organizations. This included Yusuf Islahi, a high-ranking Jamaat-e-Islami leader. During his speech, he stated to the crowd, “The owner of the Six Flags Great Adventure never imagined even in his wildest dreams that a mere recreation area of this kind would be filled with Allah’s praise; that speeches on the subject of Islam would be delivered; Dawah towards Islam be given; Allah would be remembered; the cries of Allahu Akbar would be heard everywhere.”

The next “Muslim Youth Day,” held on September 8, 2001, faired even better than the first, with 10,000 people attending. The momentum was soon to stop, though, as the organizer for the events, Tariq Amanullah, perished only three days later during the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. This was ironic, because just prior to the assault, he had been working on an ICNA website that was soliciting its viewers to give “material support” to Al-Qaeda, through one of the terror group’s main financing and recruiting sites, Jihad in Chechnya (www.qoqaz.net).

Another “Muslim Youth Day” wasn’t to occur until three years later, in September of 2004. The flyer put out by ICNA for this event caused a lot of controversy. The upper right-hand corner read, “ENTIRE PARK ALL DAY, FOR MUSLIMS ONLY!” Another part of the flyer stated, “All rides FREE! NO long lines! 100’s of rides & shows! Muslims only!!” And sandwiched between the two statements was the Six Flags logo. It seemed to many that Great Adventure had become a bigoted park. People were outraged. And to make matters worse, the organization it was allowing into its gates was tied to radical activity overseas.

Appearing on Fox News’ ‘Heartland with John Kasich’ was the Investigative Project’s Lorenzo Vidino. When asked about the 2004 event, Vidino stated the following: “The Islamic Circle is related to a radical Islamic party out of Pakistan that wants to overthrow the Musharraf government and [bring about] the creation of an Islamic state in Pakistan with Islamic law, and basically a radical Islamic theocracy. Members and leaders of ICNA have endorsed suicide bombings in Israel. They have said that the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 was a Zionist conspiracy and that Muslims were not behind it. They have endorsed jihad in Chechnya, even though they claim the word jihad might have a double meaning. They clearly say they want jihad (holy war) in Chechnya and Palestine and claim that suicide bombers in Israel and Palestine are not murderers.”

Speaking at ‘Muslim Youth Day’ 2004 was Imam Zaid Shakir, a teacher at the Zaytuna Institute located in Hayward, California. At a speech Shakir had given at Northwestern University in Chicago, entitled ‘Jihad: A Just Struggle or Unjust Violence,’ he stated, “We’re not a people who believe in perpetual revolution. We’re a people who believe in perpetual peace, if that’s possible… But if that isn’t possible, then there are circumstances where we are justified to fight.” Also speaking at the event was Ingrid Mattson, the President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). In September of 2002, in an article about the effect of 9/11 on Muslims, Mattson is quoted as saying that it was “logical,” albeit wrong, for terrorists to attack the World Trade Center, since “Israel has attacked and oppressed Palestinians for decades, and Israel gets $3 billion a year in military assistance from the U.S. government.”

Today’s event will be no different. The park will be implementing the same exclusionary policy as before. This was confirmed by “Park Information” at Great Adventure. When asked if non-Muslims were allowed to attend, a park representative stated, “The public will be prohibited from entering.” The rep said it was “a special day.”

The park will also be offering the same type of radical lecturers. Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, an instructor at Al-Maghrib Institute, is the featured speaker today. In a talk he gave in 2001 about how to deal with Jews, Qadhi stated that the Holocaust was a hoax and that “Hitler never intended to mass destroy the Jews.” He said that the vast majority of the world’s Jews are not really Jews. He stated, “As for 80 to 90 percent of the Jews in our times, they are Ashkenazi, i.e. Khazars, i.e. Russians, Turko-Russians. Look at them – white, crooked nose, blonde hairs – This is not the descendants of Yakub (Jacob)! These are not a Semitic people. Look at them! They don’t look like Semites, and they are not Semites.” He said that information concerning this conspiracy was being hidden from the world by Jews (“Yahud”) and Christians. One has to wonder if he will be mentioning any of this at the park.

The latest roller coasters, a drive-thru Wild Safari, tiger and dolphin shows, Bugs Bunny, fireworks – Six Flags’ Great Adventure contains everything to make a child’s day a day to remember. But when one is dealing with the Islamic Circle of North America, a militant Islamist organization connected to radicals overseas who wish the world would convert to their beliefs, one can expect something else as well – something sinister. And no one else will be there to see, because they’re not being let in.

According to ICNA, today, Great Adventure will be “transformed” into the Great Muslim Adventure Day. 15,000 people are expected to attend. The question is: Is ICNA using Six Flags’ facilities or is it the other way around? Or is that the near future? Why are we allowing this to happen?

If you have any questions, please contact the park.

Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.

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September 15, 2006

Pope Benedict’s Regensburg Lecture, which has provoked relentless and inconsolable protest from Muslims.

APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO MÜNCHEN, ALTÖTTING AND REGENSBURG (SEPTEMBER 9-14, 2006)

MEETING WITH THE REPRESENTATIVES OF SCIENCE

LECTURE OF THE HOLY FATHER

Aula Magna of the University of Regensburg Tuesday, 12 September 2006

Faith, Reason and the University

Memories and Reflections

Your Eminences, Your Magnificences, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a moving experience for me to be back again in the university and to be able once again to give a lecture at this podium. I think back to those years when, after a pleasant period at the Freisinger Hochschule, I began teaching at the University of Bonn. That was in 1959, in the days of the old university made up of ordinary professors. The various chairs had neither assistants nor secretaries, but in recompense there was much direct contact with students and in particular among the professors themselves. We would meet before and after lessons in the rooms of the teaching staff. There was a lively exchange with historians, philosophers, philologists and, naturally, between the two theological faculties. Once a semester there was a dies academicus, when professors from every faculty appeared before the students of the entire university, making possible a genuine experience of universitas – something that you too, Magnificent Rector, just mentioned – the experience, in other words, of the fact that despite our specializations which at times make it difficult to communicate with each other, we made up a whole, working in everything on the basis of a single rationality with its various aspects and sharing responsibility for the right use of reason – this reality became a lived experience. The university was also very proud of its two theological faculties. It was clear that, by inquiring about the reasonableness of faith, they too carried out a work which is necessarily part of the “whole” of the universitas scientiarum, even if not everyone could share the faith which theologians seek to correlate with reason as a whole. This profound sense of coherence within the universe of reason was not troubled, even when it was once reported that a colleague had said there was something odd about our university: it had two faculties devoted to something that did not exist: God. That even in the face of such radical scepticism it is still necessary and reasonable to raise the question of God through the use of reason, and to do so in the context of the tradition of the Christian faith: this, within the university as a whole, was accepted without question.

I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on – perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara – by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. It was presumably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than those of his Persian interlocutor. The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur’an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship between – as they were called – three “Laws” or “rules of life”: the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur’an. It is not my intention to discuss this question in the present lecture; here I would like to discuss only one point – itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole – which, in the context of the issue of “faith and reason”, I found interesting and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on this issue.

In the seventh conversation (*4V8,>4H – controversy) edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: “There is no compulsion in religion”. According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur’an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the “Book” and the “infidels”, he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”. The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. “God”, he says, “is not pleased by blood – and not acting reasonably (F×< 8`(T) is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death…”.

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God’s nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God’s will, we would even have to practise idolatry.

At this point, as far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God’s nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true? I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God. Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, the first verse of the whole Bible, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: “In the beginning was the 8`(@H”. This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts, F×< 8`(T, with logos. Logos means both reason and word – a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos is God, says the Evangelist. The encounter between the Biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance. The vision of Saint Paul, who saw the roads to Asia barred and in a dream saw a Macedonian man plead with him: “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” (cf. Acts 16:6-10) – this vision can be interpreted as a “distillation” of the intrinsic necessity of a rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek inquiry.

In point of fact, this rapprochement had been going on for some time. The mysterious name of God, revealed from the burning bush, a name which separates this God from all other divinities with their many names and simply declares “I am”, already presents a challenge to the notion of myth, to which Socrates’ attempt to vanquish and transcend myth stands in close analogy. Within the Old Testament, the process which started at the burning bush came to new maturity at the time of the Exile, when the God of Israel, an Israel now deprived of its land and worship, was proclaimed as the God of heaven and earth and described in a simple formula which echoes the words uttered at the burning bush: “I am”. This new understanding of God is accompanied by a kind of enlightenment, which finds stark expression in the mockery of gods who are merely the work of human hands (cf. Ps 115). Thus, despite the bitter conflict with those Hellenistic rulers who sought to accommodate it forcibly to the customs and idolatrous cult of the Greeks, biblical faith, in the Hellenistic period, encountered the best of Greek thought at a deep level, resulting in a mutual enrichment evident especially in the later wisdom literature. Today we know that the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced at Alexandria – the Septuagint – is more than a simple (and in that sense really less than satisfactory) translation of the Hebrew text: it is an independent textual witness and a distinct and important step in the history of revelation, one which brought about this encounter in a way that was decisive for the birth and spread of Christianity. A profound encounter of faith and reason is taking place here, an encounter between genuine enlightenment and religion. From the very heart of Christian faith and, at the same time, the heart of Greek thought now joined to faith, Manuel II was able to say: Not to act “with logos” is contrary to God’s nature.

In all honesty, one must observe that in the late Middle Ages we find trends in theology which would sunder this synthesis between the Greek spirit and the Christian spirit. In contrast with the so-called intellectualism of Augustine and Thomas, there arose with Duns Scotus a voluntarism which, in its later developments, led to the claim that we can only know God’s voluntas ordinata. Beyond this is the realm of God’s freedom, in virtue of which he could have done the opposite of everything he has actually done. This gives rise to positions which clearly approach those of Ibn Hazn and might even lead to the image of a capricious God, who is not even bound to truth and goodness. God’s transcendence and otherness are so exalted that our reason, our sense of the true and good, are no longer an authentic mirror of God, whose deepest possibilities remain eternally unattainable and hidden behind his actual decisions. As opposed to this, the faith of the Church has always insisted that between God and us, between his eternal Creator Spirit and our created reason there exists a real analogy, in which – as the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 stated – unlikeness remains infinitely greater than likeness, yet not to the point of abolishing analogy and its language. God does not become more divine when we push him away from us in a sheer, impenetrable voluntarism; rather, the truly divine God is the God who has revealed himself as logos and, as logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf. Certainly, love, as Saint Paul says, “transcends” knowledge and is thereby capable of perceiving more than thought alone (cf. Eph 3:19); nonetheless it continues to be love of the God who is Logos. Consequently, Christian worship is, again to quote Paul – “8@(46¬ 8″JD,\””, worship in harmony with the eternal Word and with our reason (cf. Rom 12:1).

This inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of the history of religions, but also from that of world history – it is an event which concerns us even today. Given this convergence, it is not surprising that Christianity, despite its origins and some significant developments in the East, finally took on its historically decisive character in Europe. We can also express this the other way around: this convergence, with the subsequent addition of the Roman heritage, created Europe and remains the foundation of what can rightly be called Europe.

The thesis that the critically purified Greek heritage forms an integral part of Christian faith has been countered by the call for a dehellenization of Christianity – a call which has more and more dominated theological discussions since the beginning of the modern age. Viewed more closely, three stages can be observed in the programme of dehellenization: although interconnected, they are clearly distinct from one another in their motivations and objectives.

Dehellenization first emerges in connection with the postulates of the Reformation in the sixteenth century. Looking at the tradition of scholastic theology, the Reformers thought they were confronted with a faith system totally conditioned by philosophy, that is to say an articulation of the faith based on an alien system of thought. As a result, faith no longer appeared as a living historical Word but as one element of an overarching philosophical system. The principle of sola scriptura, on the other hand, sought faith in its pure, primordial form, as originally found in the biblical Word. Metaphysics appeared as a premise derived from another source, from which faith had to be liberated in order to become once more fully itself. When Kant stated that he needed to set thinking aside in order to make room for faith, he carried this programme forward with a radicalism that the Reformers could never have foreseen. He thus anchored faith exclusively in practical reason, denying it access to reality as a whole.

The liberal theology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries ushered in a second stage in the process of dehellenization, with Adolf von Harnack as its outstanding representative. When I was a student, and in the early years of my teaching, this programme was highly influential in Catholic theology too. It took as its point of departure Pascal’s distinction between the God of the philosophers and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In my inaugural lecture at Bonn in 1959, I tried to address the issue, and I do not intend to repeat here what I said on that occasion, but I would like to describe at least briefly what was new about this second stage of dehellenization. Harnack’s central idea was to return simply to the man Jesus and to his simple message, underneath the accretions of theology and indeed of hellenization: this simple message was seen as the culmination of the religious development of humanity. Jesus was said to have put an end to worship in favour of morality. In the end he was presented as the father of a humanitarian moral message. Fundamentally, Harnack’s goal was to bring Christianity back into harmony with modern reason, liberating it, that is to say, from seemingly philosophical and theological elements, such as faith in Christ’s divinity and the triune God. In this sense, historical-critical exegesis of the New Testament, as he saw it, restored to theology its place within the university: theology, for Harnack, is something essentially historical and therefore strictly scientific. What it is able to say critically about Jesus is, so to speak, an expression of practical reason and consequently it can take its rightful place within the university. Behind this thinking lies the modern self-limitation of reason, classically expressed in Kant’s “Critiques”, but in the meantime further radicalized by the impact of the natural sciences. This modern concept of reason is based, to put it briefly, on a synthesis between Platonism (Cartesianism) and empiricism, a synthesis confirmed by the success of technology. On the one hand it presupposes the mathematical structure of matter, its intrinsic rationality, which makes it possible to understand how matter works and use it efficiently: this basic premise is, so to speak, the Platonic element in the modern understanding of nature. On the other hand, there is nature’s capacity to be exploited for our purposes, and here only the possibility of verification or falsification through experimentation can yield ultimate certainty. The weight between the two poles can, depending on the circumstances, shift from one side to the other. As strongly positivistic a thinker as J. Monod has declared himself a convinced Platonist/Cartesian.

This gives rise to two principles which are crucial for the issue we have raised. First, only the kind of certainty resulting from the interplay of mathematical and empirical elements can be considered scientific. Anything that would claim to be science must be measured against this criterion. Hence the human sciences, such as history, psychology, sociology and philosophy, attempt to conform themselves to this canon of scientificity. A second point, which is important for our reflections, is that by its very nature this method excludes the question of God, making it appear an unscientific or pre-scientific question. Consequently, we are faced with a reduction of the radius of science and reason, one which needs to be questioned.

I will return to this problem later. In the meantime, it must be observed that from this standpoint any attempt to maintain theology’s claim to be “scientific” would end up reducing Christianity to a mere fragment of its former self. But we must say more: if science as a whole is this and this alone, then it is man himself who ends up being reduced, for the specifically human questions about our origin and destiny, the questions raised by religion and ethics, then have no place within the purview of collective reason as defined by “science”, so understood, and must thus be relegated to the realm of the subjective. The subject then decides, on the basis of his experiences, what he considers tenable in matters of religion, and the subjective “conscience” becomes the sole arbiter of what is ethical. In this way, though, ethics and religion lose their power to create a community and become a completely personal matter. This is a dangerous state of affairs for humanity, as we see from the disturbing pathologies of religion and reason which necessarily erupt when reason is so reduced that questions of religion and ethics no longer concern it. Attempts to construct an ethic from the rules of evolution or from psychology and sociology, end up being simply inadequate.

Before I draw the conclusions to which all this has been leading, I must briefly refer to the third stage of dehellenization, which is now in progress. In the light of our experience with cultural pluralism, it is often said nowadays that the synthesis with Hellenism achieved in the early Church was a preliminary inculturation which ought not to be binding on other cultures. The latter are said to have the right to return to the simple message of the New Testament prior to that inculturation, in order to inculturate it anew in their own particular milieux. This thesis is not only false; it is coarse and lacking in precision. The New Testament was written in Greek and bears the imprint of the Greek spirit, which had already come to maturity as the Old Testament developed. True, there are elements in the evolution of the early Church which do not have to be integrated into all cultures. Nonetheless, the fundamental decisions made about the relationship between faith and the use of human reason are part of the faith itself; they are developments consonant with the nature of faith itself.

And so I come to my conclusion. This attempt, painted with broad strokes, at a critique of modern reason from within has nothing to do with putting the clock back to the time before the Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age. The positive aspects of modernity are to be acknowledged unreservedly: we are all grateful for the marvellous possibilities that it has opened up for mankind and for the progress in humanity that has been granted to us. The scientific ethos, moreover, is – as you yourself mentioned, Magnificent Rector – the will to be obedient to the truth, and, as such, it embodies an attitude which belongs to the essential decisions of the Christian spirit. The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application. While we rejoice in the new possibilities open to humanity, we also see the dangers arising from these possibilities and we must ask ourselves how we can overcome them. We will succeed in doing so only if reason and faith come together in a new way, if we overcome the self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically verifiable, and if we once more disclose its vast horizons. In this sense theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of faith.

Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures. At the same time, as I have attempted to show, modern scientific reason with its intrinsically Platonic element bears within itself a question which points beyond itself and beyond the possibilities of its methodology. Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept the rational structure of matter and the correspondence between our spirit and the prevailing rational structures of nature as a given, on which its methodology has to be based. Yet the question why this has to be so is a real question, and one which has to be remanded by the natural sciences to other modes and planes of thought – to philosophy and theology. For philosophy and, albeit in a different way, for theology, listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding. Here I am reminded of something Socrates said to Phaedo. In their earlier conversations, many false philosophical opinions had been raised, and so Socrates says: “It would be easily understandable if someone became so annoyed at all these false notions that for the rest of his life he despised and mocked all talk about being – but in this way he would be deprived of the truth of existence and would suffer a great loss”. The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur – this is the programme with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. “Not to act reasonably, not to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God”, said Manuel II, according to his Christian understanding of God, in response to his Persian interlocutor. It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the university.

***

NOTE:

The Holy Father intends to supply a subsequent version of this text, complete with footnotes. The present text must therefore be considered provisional.

Dr Helmy Guirguis
President, UK COPTIC Association

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September 14, 2006

Canada ‘s Prime Minister Greets Egypt’s Copts for Neyrouz Celebration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Canada ‘s Prime Minister Greets Egypt’s Copts for Neyrouz Celebration
OTTAWA Copts United — In an historic letter, Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, extended warm greetings to the Canadian Coptic community as they celebrate the Coptic New Year. The letter makes Canada the first country to acknowledge the sacrifices of the Coptic Martyrs. “This is a time when, .., you honour those traditions with which the Coptic Orthodox Church has enriched this great country we call home “, says the Prime Minster.

Coptic Christians are the descendants of the Ancient Egyptians and make up 10% of the Egyptian population. There are 15 million Copts worldwide, including Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia. They have been victims of religious persecution by almost every ruler of Egypt beginning with the Roman Empire and sustained for 1400 years under the Islamic rulers who invaded Egypt in the sixth century. Until recently, the blood of Coptic martyrs continues to be shed as in the massacres of Assiut in 1992, Al-Kosheh in 2000 and in the latest attacks on the churches of Alexandria during the Holy week this year which ended on Easter Sunday. A Russian bishop has recently put the number of Coptic Martyrs as one per day.

Copts take pride in the persecution they have sustained as early as May 8, 68 A.D., when their Patron Saint Mark, the Gospel writer, was slain after being dragged from his feet by Roman soldiers all over Alexandria’s streets and alleys.

To emphasize their pride, Copts adopted a calendar, called the Calendar of the Martyrs that is identified by the abbreviation AM (for Anno Martyrum or “Year of the Martyrs”.) The calendar begins its era on August 29, 284 A.D., in commemoration of those who died for their faith during the rule of Diocletian the Roman Emperor who was enthroned on that day.

The Prime Minster’s letter, which was sent to the Coptic community today, was dated “Tout 1, 1723” in reference to the Coptic month “Tout” and the current year of the Martyrs 1723.