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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
As Far As The Eye Can See
by Moshe Dann
Threats of Pain and Ruin
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky

The Iconoclast

Saturday, 20 October 2007

The Telegraph: A body set up by David Cameron to advise the Conservatives on Muslim issues has criticised the Government's relationship with Israel and concluded that Iran has "legitimate" reasons for wanting nuclear weapons.

The Conservative Muslim Forum also wants the compulsory history curriculum in schools changed to give "full recognition to the massive contribution that Islam has made to the development of Western civilisation".

It also argues that preachers who advocate a rejection of democracy and its institutions should not be denied entry into Britain...

But the way it addresses certain key issues — completely at odds with Tory policy — will embarrass Mr Cameron. Its comments on Israel, in particular, will be seized on.

The report says: "Regardless of whether one finds Israel a congenial country or not, on any objective assessment of the type of unqualified support given to Israel by the current government it is not conducive to British national interests as this could damage Britain's relationships with 15 billion Muslims worldwide, including those in Britain."

It concludes that passage with: "In all our dealings with Israel, we must remember the plight of the displaced Palestinians."

The group calls on the party to be more sympathetic towards Iran. It says: "Given Iran's position in the Middle East, facing a nuclear-armed Israel, Iran appears to have legitimate reasons for seeking nuclear weapons for defensive purposes."

The full PDF is here. And of course the fact that Muslims strive for Islam in every aspect of life should not be a surprise to anybody, but apparently Melanie Phillips is shocked at the immoral stance taken in this document, but as Lawrence Auster points out, it is only immoral from a western perspective, for an Islamic moral framework it is perfectly logical and proper.

Auster also puts his finger on the essential condescension many agnostics feel toward religion and toward all people who take religion seriously. This attitude makes many otherwise rational people of sound judgment quite incapable of taking Islam seriously and causes them to underestimate its strength (see Iraq).

Posted on 10/20/2007 8:08 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Genetic studies are revolutionizing anthropology, not only in the ability to track human migration, but now in locating a specific gene that allows for language in Neanderthals. A few years ago the thinking was that Neanderthals probably couldn't speak.

LATimes: Neanderthals probably had the gift of gab, according to a new study examining a key language gene in the extinct species.

Until now, humans were thought to have a unique version of FOXP2, the only gene shown to play a role in language. People who are missing a copy have difficulty with speaking and language comprehension.

The version of the gene in chimpanzees, our closest living relatives, is different from that of humans in two places.

But two Neanderthals who died 43,000 years ago had the same kind of FOXP2 as people alive today, researchers reported Thursday in Current Biology.

"There is no reason to think that Neanderthals would not have had the ability for language," said geneticist Johannes Krause of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who led the study...

Posted on 10/20/2007 7:50 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Saturday, 20 October 2007
The latest from the East London Advertiser on the suggestion that my ancestors be dug up and removed from their rest.
TOWN Hall leader Denise Jones has given a personal assurance that Tower Hamlets Cemetery park will not be reopened as a multi-faith burial site. She gave the pledge as the row over the controversial idea to exhume 350,000 bodies continued to boil in London's East End.
The Town Hall has been attracting critical headlines throughout Britain and beyond.
Now an irritated Cllr Jones has moved to kill the speculation.
"It definitely will not happen," she told the East London Advertiser this week. "It's just not a viable option."
Th authority's environment Lead member Abdal Ullah had said all 350,000 bodies would have to be removed if the idea was to see the light of day to meet the demands for religious burials.
Cllr Jones insisted: "That might well have been his personal opinion.  But it's certainly not the view of the council. If Cllr Ullah said those words, he should have made clear it was his personal opinion."
But she conceded that her entire cabinet and senior council directors have discussed proposals for a new cemetery. A high level steering group of top Town Hall directors was told to examine three options: to buy a site away from the East End, to redevelop the former Bow gasworks in Bow Common Lane, or to reopen Tower Hamlets cemetery itself.
"There's been some bad and exaggerated reporting in the papers," she claimed. "That has upset a lot of people who don't fully understand the issues."  She added: "We were obliged to look into the cemetery option. It was not outlandish. We had to look at it because the policy of London Mayor Ken Livingstone's London Plan is to reuse existing cemeteries.  But it's not a viable option. There would be far too much bureaucracy involved. It would require an Act of Parliament to reopen the cemetery."
Her decision means the council is now considering the two alternatives, with a possible discussion paper in the New Year.
The Labour-run authority has been contacted by worried Tory MPs in Epping and Upminster, where many former East Enders now live, complaining that the BNP was breathing down their necks over the issue.
Posted on 10/20/2007 5:48 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Saturday, 20 October 2007
Douglas Murray and the Centre for Social Cohesion have a press briefing here on the subject of Islam is Peace and their current campaign, elusive though Mary and I find it. Or don’t find it, it being these “Proud to be a British Muslim” posters.
Thanks to Paul, via Harry’s Place.
On 24 September, posters stating "Islam is Peace" and "Proud to be a British Muslim" appeared on London buses, London Underground trains and in airports around Britain - the latest phase in a campaign by the group Islam-is-Peace to "address the negative perceptions and stereotypes of Islam and British Muslims," according to the group's website.
But although Islam-is-Peace presents itself as independent, its only known senior members are also prominent figures in the Muslim Association of Britain - a Hamas-linked group whose founder and a chief ideologue have publicly defended Islamic terrorism.
The Centre for Social Cohesion fully supports all efforts to encourage understanding, but is concerned that the Islam-is-Peace campaign's message of tolerance is undermined by the forces controlling it.
The public face of Islam-is-Peace is campaign coordinator Yusra Khreegi and spokesman Ihtisham Habitullah - both also high-profile figures in the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB). Islam-is-Peace's website does not name the group's directors, and the group has refused to name any of its 15-member leadership committee.
In July 2007, Muslims United ran newspaper advertisements calling for Muslims to unite against terrorism and Islamophobia. Khreegi (described as the group's campaign coordinator) wrote a column in The Guardian supporting the campaign. Islam-is-Peace has since claimed the ads as part of its campaign, and a link in Khreegi's Guardian column now takes readers to Islam-is-Peace's website. On 11 October, Khreegi conducted an online Q & A about Islam-is-Peace on, a pro-Muslim Brotherhood website, which again named her as the group's campaign coordinator.
When contacted by The Centre for Social Cohesion, Habitullah said that the MAB supported but did not direct Islam-is-Peace, and that his own involvement was personally motivated. He refused to name the group's leaders.
On Habitullah's recommendation, the Centre wrote an email to [email protected] An unsigned reply stated that Islam-is-Peace was an all-volunteer organisation but did not address the Centre's specific questions about the group's leaders and relationship with the MAB. Islam-is-Peace did not answer a second email from the Centre re-stating the questions.
Read the rest here.
Posted on 10/20/2007 5:15 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Food for thought from Jonathan Sachs the Chief Rabbi in The Times here.

Multiculturalism has led not to integration but to segregation. It has allowed groups to live separately, with no incentive to integrate and every incentive not to. It was intended to promote tolerance. Instead the result has been, in countries where it has been tried, societies more abrasive, fractured and intolerant than they once were.
Liberal democracy is in danger. Britain is becoming a place where free speech is at risk, non-political institutions are becoming politicised, and a combination of political correctness and ethnic-religious separatism is eroding the graciousness of civil society.

Posted on 10/20/2007 2:00 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Friday, 19 October 2007
I am off on holiday for a few days, this being half term in the UK – I am going to a town with a good public library so I hope to be able to drop in with the odd post or comment during the week.
I won’t be travelling in London next week to give me any further opportunities to break my duck and spot a rare and elusive “Proud to be a British Muslim – Islam means Peace” poster. 
What is advertised on the underground is this event in Trafalgar Square tomorrow -  “Eid in the Square”

Rebecca posted below about music being frowned upon in Islam unless it is to entice the infidel. The Home page itself has the sound of drumming. Activities tomorrow include singing from Mesut Kurtis and Nazeel Azami and Hamza Robertson a convert from Lancashire on keyboard and straggly beard.
The event is sponsored by the usual suspects the Muslim Council of Britain, Islamic Relief and Ken Livingstone.
Posted on 10/19/2007 4:25 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Friday, 19 October 2007
Fox News: WASHINGTON —  A congressionally mandated panel that promotes religious freedom is recommending the Bush administration close a Virginia-based Islamic school run by the Saudi government if school officials don't comply with demands to turn over textbooks that may include lessons on jihad and intolerance toward other religions.

"Significant concerns remain about whether what is being taught at the (school) promotes religious intolerance and may adversely affect the interests of the United States," said a report released Thursday by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom...

The panel's findings focuses on a number of areas of concern with Saudi Arabia, including a 2003 study showing that Saudi texts encouraged violence toward others, "misguides the pupils into believing that in order to safeguard their own religion, they must violently repress and even physically eliminate the 'other.'"

A separate study last year conducted by The Center for Religious Freedom, run by Freedom House, and the Institute for Gulf Affairs, found that a ninth-grade Saudi textbook "teaches teenagers in apocalyptic terms that violence towards Jews, Christians and other unbelievers is sanctioned by God," the report reads.

Specifically, Stahnke said, the commission sent an official request to Saudi Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir, the school board's chairman and brother to the embassy spokesman. "There was no response from the ambassador," Stahnke said.

The request, written in a June 27 letter, sought "copies of textbooks, which include curricula on Hadith (Islamic traditions), Fiqh (matters of religious law and ritual), Tawhid (matters of belief) and Arabic language and Saudi history used at all grade levels, kindergarten through 12th grade, for schools in Saudi Arabia." The letter also asked for "copies of such textbooks used at all levels of study in the Islamic Saudi Academy's two campuses in Fairfax and Alexandria, Va.," according to a description given to

One observer Thursday said that he doesn't think the report went far enough.

"It reflects the present administration policy towards Saudi Arabia. The present administration policy at this time is retreating to its habits prior to 9/11," said Ali Alyami, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia.

Alyami said the Bush administration in its second term has been embracing the Saudi government more.

"This is this same institution that is feeding terrorism, hate toward this country and democracy, and that hasn't changed, regardless of what books have been — what language has been taken out from these books.

"The fact remains the same. Freedom, religious freedom, is non-existent" in Saudi Arabia, Alyami said.

Posted on 10/19/2007 4:14 PM by Rebecca Bynum

Friday, 19 October 2007

Joshua Foer has an interesting article on memory in National Geographic:

...Would we choose to live in a society where people have vastly better memories? In fact, what would it even mean to have a better memory? Would it mean remembering things only exactly as they happened, free from the revisions and exaggerations that our mind naturally creates? Would it mean having a memory that forgets traumas? Would it mean having a memory that remembers only those things we want it to remember? ...

I want to see EP's [a patient who cannot form new conscious memories] unconscious, nondeclarative memory at work, so I ask him if he's interested in taking me on a walk around his neighborhood. He says, "not really," so I wait and ask him again a couple minutes later. This time he agrees. We walk out the front door into the high afternoon sun and turn right. I ask EP why we're not turning to the left instead.

"I'd just rather not go that way. This is just the way I go. I don't know why," he says.

If I asked him to draw a map of the route he takes at least three times a day, he'd never be able to do it. He doesn't even know his own address, or (almost as improbably for someone from San Diego) which way the ocean is. But after so many years of taking the same walk, the journey has etched itself on his unconscious. His wife, Beverly, now lets him go out alone, even though a single wrong turn would leave him completely lost. Sometimes he comes back from his walks with objects he's picked up along the way: a stack of round stones, a puppy, somebody's wallet. He's never able to explain how they came into his possession.

"Our neighbors love him because he'll come up to them and just start talking to them," Beverly says. Even though he thinks he's meeting them for the first time, he's learned through habit that these are people he should feel comfortable around, and he interprets those unconscious feelings of comfort as a good reason to stop and say hello.

We cross the street and I'm alone with EP for the first time. He doesn't know who I am or what I'm doing at his side, although he seems to sense that I'm there for some good reason. He is trapped in the ultimate existential nightmare, blind to the reality in which he lives. The impulse strikes me to help him escape, at least for a second. I want to take him by the arm and shake him. "You have a rare and debilitating memory disorder," I want to tell him. "The last 50 years have been lost to you. In less than a minute, you're going to forget that this conversation ever even happened." I imagine the sheer horror that would befall him, the momentary clarity, the gaping emptiness that would open up in front of him, and close just as quickly. And then the passing car or the singing bird that would snap him back into his oblivious bubble.

We turn around and walk back down the street whose name he's forgotten, past the waving neighbors he doesn't recognize, to a home he doesn't know. In front of the house, there is a car parked with tinted windows. We turn to look at our reflections. I ask EP what he sees.

"An old man," he says. "That's all."
Posted on 10/19/2007 3:55 PM by Rebecca Bynum

Friday, 19 October 2007

Of course this may not be the work of Muslim jihadists, like the BBC reporter said about the Pakistan bombing, it may just be "a reaction to elite politics."

ABS/CBN: Eight people were killed while at least 89 others were injured after an explosion ripped through an upscale mall in Makati City Friday afternoon.

Red Cross and police officials said 56 people injured in the blast were rushed to Makati Medical Center while 33 others were brought to Ospital ng Makati.

In a press conference, Philippine National Police chief Avelino Razon said the blast in the Glorietta 2 ground level at 1:30 p.m. was "probably caused by a bomb" and not a gas leak as earlier reported.  

"This was a bomb. But beyond that we can't say anything else yet because we are still investigating. What I can say is it was not LPG that caused this," Razon told reporters.

He said there was still no conclusive evidence to determine if the blast was caused by a C-4 bomb, a military explosive, or any other improvised explosive device. He added that the police cannot definitely say if the explosion was a terrorist attack.

Director Geary Barias, National Capital Region Police Office chief, said bomb debris carpeted a 200 square-meter area in the mall. "The ceilings are damaged and may collapse," Barias said.

The explosion ripped through the roof of the mall and damaged nearby shops. Debris from the blast were scattered on the streets.

A general alert has been issued for the rest of the city and for the international airport, officials said. A meeting of the National Security Council was called for later in the day.

Posted on 10/19/2007 12:33 PM by Rebecca Bynum

Friday, 19 October 2007

(Thanks to Jeffrey Imm) IHT BAGHDAD:

A bomb exploded under the pulpit of an anti-al-Qaida Sunni preacher during Friday prayers, wounding the imam and six worshippers, police and witnesses said.

The blast struck Sheik Nadhim al-Jubouri about 12:15 p.m. as he was delivering a sermon at a mosque in Duluiyah, 75 kilometers (45 miles) north of Baghdad. Police said al-Jubouri and six worshippers were seriously wounded.

Residents said the cleric was the local leader of a Sunni group that has joined forces with the Americans against al-Qaida in Iraq and had been targeted previously, despite trying to hide his affiliation with the group.

In other violence Friday, a mortar attack struck a neighborhood in Musayyib, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of Baghdad, killing three women, police said.

Two would-be teenaged suicide bombers linked to al-Qaida in Iraq were arrested Friday afternoon at a police check point in the Anbar province town of Fallujah, 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.

The youths, ages 15 and 16, said their intended targets were a local sheik who fights al-Qaida with Iraqi and U.S. forces and a local mosque, a police officer said on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

U.S. forces were called in to help dismantling the explosives belts, police added.

Also Friday, gunmen ambushed the motorcade of Iraq's Kurdish deputy prime minister, Barham Saleh, in the village of Udaim, 70 miles (115 kilometers) north of Baghdad, killing a guard and wounding another, a police officer said.

Saleh was not in traveling in the motorcade and his office did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

The bullet-riddled body of a Shiite biological researcher also was found in Baghdad's main morgue after he was abducted by gunmen on Thursday in the city's main Shiite district of Sadr City.

About 15 attackers broke into Mohammed Kadhum al-Atabi's house and beat him in front of his family before taking him away and killing him, a police officer said. The 54-year-old al-Atabi, a former administrator at the University of Baghdad in 2003, has worked as a researcher at Baghdad's natural museum since 2005. He is survived by his wife, three daughters and two sons....

Posted on 10/19/2007 12:26 PM by Rebecca Bynum

Friday, 19 October 2007

I have a letter from an Imam of an Islamic Center in a southern city that states the following:

Dear Sir or Madam:

This letter is a request for Muslim children in schools who wish to be excused for music class. In the Islamic faith, music is strongly discouraged and in many cases prohibited.

I would like to request the class teacher or the principal to accommodate children by giving them alternative activities, such as computer classes, reading or other assignments.

However, in Oak Lawn Illinois, the local mosque (exposed as radical in this Chicago Tribune story) paid for a music concert by a Muslim convert to promote peace and the general feeling of warm fuzziness in a local school where parents have been outraged at the increasing demands of Muslims, most notably to abolish Christmas and Halloween.

It is permissible to bend the rules of Islam if doing so promotes Islam. (hat tip: LGF)

Posted on 10/19/2007 11:57 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Friday, 19 October 2007

Bill Warner writes at the Center For The Study of Political Islam:

Since September 11 we have asked the question: "What is the real Islam?" The answers from Muslims and Westerners are contradictory and make us confused

There is one way to gain clarity and surety about Islam--our best rational approach is the scientific method.

 Let us start with the fact that the complete doctrine of Islam is found in three texts: Koran, the Sira (Mohammed’s biography) and Hadith (stories and anecdotes about Mohammed)--the Islamic Trilogy.

 The Koran is confusing as it is arranged, but it can be made straightforward by scientific analysis.

 The first step is to put the verses in the right time order, collect and categorize all of the similar stories. It is at this point that the missing parts, or holes, in the document become apparent. The life of Mohammed fills in and explains all the gaps and all the confusion falls away. Mohammed is the key to the Koran and Islam.

The doctrine breaks down in time into Mohammed in Mecca (the early part) and Mohammed in Medina (the later part). In essence, there are two Korans, one written in Mecca and the second Koran written in Medina.

The two Korans are the first grand division of Islamic doctrine.

What is intriguing is that the two Korans include contradictions. "You have your religion and I have mine" 109:1 is a far cry from "I shall cast terror in the hearts of the kafirs. Strike off their heads…" 8:12. The Koran gives a way to solve these contradictions--the later verse is "better" than the earlier verse. But the earlier verse is still true. All the verses from the Koran are true because they are the words of Allah.

The Koran defines an Islamic logic that is dualistic. Two things which contradict each other can both be true. In a unitary, scientific logic, if two things contradict each other, then at least one of them is false. Not so in dualistic logic.

All of the doctrine refers to two classes of people--Muslims and non-Muslims, kafirs. The doctrine that applies to kafirs is political in nature and is rarely neutral or positive. The part of the doctrine that applies to Muslims is cultural, legal, and religious.

The second grand division of Islamic doctrine is into religious Islam and political Islam.

It is surprising how much of the doctrine is political. Approximately 67% of the Meccan Koran and 51% of the Medinan Koran is political. About 75% of the Sira is about what was done to the kafir. Roughly 20% of the Hadith is about jihad, a political act.

Even the concept of Hell is political, not religious. There are 146 parts of the Koran that refer to Hell. Only 4% of the people in Islamic Hell are there for moral reasons, such as murder, theft or greed. In 96% of the cases the person is in Hell because they did not agree with Mohammed. This is a political charge. In short, Islamic Hell is primarily a political prison.

In summary, Islam is an extremely political doctrine. It has to be. Mohammed preached the religion of Islam for 13 years and garnered 150 followers. Then in Medina, he turned to politics and jihad and became the first ruler of all Arabia. When he died, he did not have a single enemy left to speak or act against him, a very political result.

The Koran says in 14 verses that a Muslim is not and cannot be the friend of the kafir. This is pure dualism. The dualism of the Koran has no universal statements about humanity. The entire world is divided between Islam and the kafirs. The only statement about humanity as a whole is that all humanity must submit to Islam.

Ethics are the membrane between religion and politics. Two sets of ethics are laid out in the Trilogy. One set is for Muslims and the other set is for the kafirs. Examples: a Muslim should not steal from another Muslim, a Muslim should not kill another Muslim, a Muslim should not cheat a Muslim.

The kafir can be treated in one of two ways. They can be treated well or they can be robbed, killed, or cheated if it advances Islam. On more than one occasion Mohammed said to deceive the kafir. Jihad as a political method killed, robbed and enslaved the kafirs. This is a dualistic ethical system.

Islamic dualism is hidden by religion. The "good" verses of the Meccan Koran cover the verses of jihad in the Medinan Koran. Thus religious Islam shields political Islam from examination.

Scientific analysis shows us that there is a political Islam as well as a religious Islam. To argue about religion is fruitless, but we can talk about politics. We need to discuss political Islam, a system of ethical and political dualism.

Posted on 10/19/2007 11:37 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Friday, 19 October 2007

Michael Moynihan interviews Jyllands-Posten publisher, Flemming Rose, in Reason:

reason: Did your time in Russia and as Berlingske Tidende correspondent in the Soviet Union inform your ideas of free speech and political freedom?

Flemming Rose:
Yes. I am going to write a book about the cartoon crisis and I am going to compare the experience of the dissidents in the Soviet Union to what has happened to people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Salman Rushdie and Irshad Manji... I am very much informed by my contact with [Soviet dissidents] and I'm close to the Sakharov camp—people like Natan Sharansky and Sergei Kovalev... The dissidents were split between what I would I would call the nationalist camp and the human rights movement. And I would say that I identified more with the human rights movement, although I am a big admirer of Solzhenitsyn, of course, because of what he accomplished. But today he is, in fact, supporting Putin and he believes that he's conducting a very wise foreign policy program. I don't think Sakharov would have subscribed to this view.

Were you surprised by the reaction of those who argued not for unfettered free speech, but "responsible speech?"

Well, no. I think many people betrayed their own ideals. The history of the left, for instance, is a history of confronting authority—be it religious or political authority—and always challenging religious symbols and figures. In this case, they failed miserably. I think the left is in a deep crisis in Europe because of their lack of willingness to confront the racist ideology of Islamism. They somehow view the Koran as a new version of Das Kapital and are willing to ignore everything else, as long of they continue to see the Muslims of Europe as a new proletariat.

Like during the Cold War, there is a willingness to establish a false equivalence between democracy and oppression—between a totalitarian ideology and a liberal ideology. When I look back at my own behavior during the "cartoon crisis," it was very much informed by my experience with Soviet Union because I saw the same kind of behavior both inside the Soviet Union and those dealing with the Soviet Union in the West.

At the height of the "cartoon crisis," were you surprised to turn the television on to images of people in Lahore burning Danish flags, mobs attacking Scandinavian embassies? Did anyone at the paper anticipate such a response?

Not at all. No one expected this kind of reaction. Last year, I visited Bernard Lewis at Princeton and he told me: "Your case in unique in a historical sense. Never before in modern times, on such a scale, have Muslims insisted upon applying Islamic law to what non-Muslims are doing in non-Muslim country. It has never happened before. And you can't really compare the Rushdie affair, because he was perceived to be an apostate." And as he told me, there is a long tradition of offending the Prophet in history. In the St. Petronio church in Bologna there is, on the ceiling, a painting of Mohammad in hell, based Dürer's paintings of Dante's Divine Comedy.

Those people who say, "you offended one billion people," or "you offended a weak minority," they lack the understanding of the raw power game that was at play here. This had very little to do with insulting religious sensibilities, though it was being used by influential groups and regimes in the Middle East to stir up emotions. It was a very well planned and executed operation. It was not spontaneous in any way.

Abu Laban
, the Danish imam that promoted the cartoons in the Arab world, was saying that we aren't allowed to build mosques in Denmark, that the Koran is being censored, that we aren't allowed to have our own cemeteries, that Muslims are almost on the verge of being sent to concentration camps. But the fact is that Muslims in Denmark enjoy more rights than they would in any Muslim country. In fact, two weeks ago a delegation from the Egyptian parliament were in Denmark and they were surprised when they spoke to Danish Muslims who said "we enjoy living here."

Naser Khader, a Danish parliamentarian who was very supportive of me and stood up in parliament and said "I am very offended by those who insist on an apology to one billion Muslims, because I am not offended by these cartoons." But, he said, I am offended by being lumped into this grey mass of "one billion Muslims."

How do you rank the reactions of European politicians?

I think it's a mixed bag. I think [European Commission President] Manuel Barraso, who has a background in an authoritarian regime, understood the situation better than others, like, for instance, Tony Blair and Jack Straw, who behaved disastrously. Barraso came out very clear—a little late, maybe—but he said that free speech is non-negotiable; it's the foundation of European civilization. A lot of governments and opinion makers in Europe and the West were driving this line that we have offended one billion people and we should be ashamed of ourselves, free speech and but responsible speech... all this crap.

But what really bothers me today—and this hasn't been reported very widely—is that right after the cartoon crisis, the Organization of the Islamic Conference at the United Nations sponsored a resolution condemning the "ridiculing of religion." It didn't pass, but in March of this year the United Nations Human Rights Consul, which is the highest international body in the world for the protection of human rights, passed a resolution condoning state punishment of people criticizing religion. I think this is a big scandal. This was a direct result of the "cartoon crisis." Fortunately the European Union voted against it. But countries like Russia, Mexico and China supported the resolution. And in this resolution, they call on governments to pass laws or write provisions into their constitutions forbidding criticism of religion. This would give a free hand to authoritarian regimes around the world to clamp down on dissidents.

One of the lessons I have drawn from this experience is that free speech is indivisible. I am in favor of removing all blasphemy laws and laws criminalizing Holocaust denial... I think that in a globalized world, the way forward is not raise barriers "protecting people," or calling for "responsible speech," but to do away with all kinds of limitations of speech.

Things have perhaps changing when they have their own cartoon crises. I'm amazed that Swedish newspapers are republishing [artist Lars Vilks cartoon of Mohammad as a dog]-and not noticing the hypocrisy that they didn't want to publish our cartoons. We published the Vilks cartoon; almost all Danish newspapers did.

Whose response disappointed you the most?

In Europe? Jacques Chirac, who lambasted [Jyllands-Posten] and then flew to Saudi Arabia the next week to sign a large weapons contract.

How are the cartoonists doing?

They are OK: All back in Denmark. But they are still under surveillance by the police.

Are you under surveillance?

Every now and then. But we [at Jyllands-Posten] don't feel in any immediate danger; we aren't getting any information that we are being targeted. There is an ongoing terror trial in Odense, and according to the prosecutor, these young men planned a terrorist attack against parliament and this building.

I do receive some supportive emails from Muslims in Denmark, who think that my struggle is their struggle. And I think this is very important: Fundamentally, this is a struggle within the Muslim community, and I think our duty is to send a very clear message whose side we are on.

Posted on 10/19/2007 11:26 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Friday, 19 October 2007

Ilan Weinglass writes in the Washington Times:

The U.S. media has started to notice Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz's use of British libel laws to silence allegations that he funded al Qaeda...

A number of leading American publications including The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and USA Today have publicly retracted allegations made about Mr. Mahfouz on their pages. Most recently, Mr. Mahfouz threatened to sue Cambridge University Press (CUP) for publishing "Alms for Jihad." Overlooking its responsibility and academic integrity, CUP decided to avoid huge legal expenses. It apologized and pulped the book. While criticizing CUP for its capitulation, the American media failed to notice that the authors of the book were not even threatened. Why not? Because of what civil-rights lawyer Harvey Silverglate calls "one of the most important First Amendment cases in the past 25 years," now pending before the New York Court of Appeals.

This case involves Rachel Ehrenfeld, author of "Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It." Miss Ehrenfeld was also subject to a lawsuit by Mr. Mahfouz. But unlike the others, she refuses to acknowledge the jurisdiction of a British court over a book published in New York, and she asked a U.S. court to declare the British judgment unenforceable in the United States. After two years, a U.S. appeals court ruled that the New York Court of Appeals must hear her case. This is already a small victory for free speech, as Mr. Mahfouz will have to make his case in an American court.

This small victory pales next to some larger defeats, however. Mr. Mahfouz's Web site shows dozens of otherwise serious, careful scholars making abject apologies to the Saudi. A typical example, from a leading scholar of Al Qaeda: "I withdraw any allegations contained in the Book that you were a financial mainstay of Al Qaeda... I am happy to accept that you abhor terrorism and that you had no part or knowledge of any alleged transfer of funds to support terrorism."

Looking closely through publicly available scholarship on Mr. Mahfouz, it is doubtful one will find any terror-finance allegations that have not been explicitly retracted in such a manner, with the exception of those made by Miss Ehrenfeld. While all claims must be subject to rigorous investigation, this is disturbing, since the Treasury Department designated Yassin al-Qadi, the director of Mr. Mahfouz's "charitable" foundation, as a terrorist. Moreover, Treasury determined that a Mahfouz-owned bank sent $3 million to the same foundation,plus other "charities that serve as a front for bin Laden." We have lost valuable time in the battle against terror financiers regardless of the outcome of the Ehrenfeld case. As scholar Matthew Levitt writes, "such suits threaten to have a chilling effect on scholars conducting serious, careful, and peer-reviewed research into critical and sometimes contentious policy debates." While Mr. Levitt, who himself faced a libel suit in the United States that was rightly dismissed under U.S. libel laws, is correct in pointing out the "chilling effect" of such suits, the cold fact is that much damage has already been done.

Ultimately, we will never know how much damage The Washington Post or Wall Street Journal could have prevented if they stood up for their First Amendment rights. Whatever the outcome of Miss Ehrenfeld's case, it is a black mark on these publications that they chose the easy way out, while a lone brave woman is the only thing preventing a total blackout on research into a possible funding source of al Qaeda.

Posted on 10/19/2007 10:49 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Friday, 19 October 2007

VOA: ...The Sunday Times of London printed an interview with Doctor James Watson in which he suggested blacks are not as intelligent as whites.

The prominent laboratory where he works in New York (The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory) suspended Watson over the comments Thursday. And London's Science Museum canceled a sold-out lecture Friday by the doctor.

A statement from Watson's publicist says he is mortified over the quotes. Watson said he cannot understand how he could have said what he is quoted as saying, but he understands the public reaction to the comments.

The Sunday Times of London says it recorded the interview and stands by the quotes in its October 14 issue.

Scientists around the world are denouncing the comments and say there is no scientific evidence that blacks are intellectually inferior.

In a statement issued after his remarks were published, Watson also said there is no scientific proof that blacks are less intelligent than whites...

Posted on 10/19/2007 8:23 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Friday, 19 October 2007

Jeffrey Imm writes at Counterterrorism blog:

A bomb attack occurred near the convoy of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto Thursday night, resulting in a major loss of life, but failing to assassinate Ms. Bhutto.  The bomb attack happened Thursday night as Bhutto's convoy was traveling through Karachi, in her return after 8 years of exile.

AP and CNN are currently reporting the death toll from the blast at 136 dead, with nearly 400 wounded.  Bhutto survived the bomb attack and per Police Chief Azhar Farooqi, "[s]he was evacuated very safely and is now in Bilawal House."   Associated Press reported that AP photographer B.K. Bangash saw between 50 and 60 dead or seriously injured individuals, some of whose bodies were ripped apart.  

CNN and Associated Press report that the bombing was the effort of a suicide bomber, who first threw a grenade as a distraction, and then exploded the larger suicide bomb near Bhutto's convoy, according to Karachi police chief Azhar Farooqi.   AP reports that the attacker's head was found nearby and was being taken to a forensics lab for testing, AP also reports that the suicide bombing was so deadly because nuts, bolts, and steel balls were packed around the explosives. 

CNN reports that President Musharraf has promised an investigation into the attack.

AP reports that authorities state that the suicide attack "bore the hallmarks of" Baitullah Mehsud, the Taliban commander who has previously been reported to have threatened Benazir Bhutto.  On October 5, the Pakistan Daily Times reported that Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud threatened suicide attacks against PPP Chairwoman Benazir Bhutto, saying his bombers would be waiting in the wings to "welcome" her when she returns.  The Daily Times report was based on conversations that FATA Senator Saleh Shah had with Taliban's Baitullah Mehsud.  Daily Telegraph also states in a separate report that "[i]ntelligence reports had suggested at least three jihadi groups linked to al-Qa'eda and the Taliban were plotting suicide attacks."

In addition, on September 20, in his "Come to Jihad" message, Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden stated that "[i]t is obligatory on the Muslims in Pakistan to carry out Jihad", and called upon Pakistani Muslims to wage Jihad on the Pakistani government, but specifically referred to President Musharraf.

Daily Telegraph reports that, in a Paris-Match interview with Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto blamed supporters of late military ruler Mohammed Zia ul-Haq for the attack on her procession: "I know exactly who wants to kill me. It is dignitaries of the former regime of General Zia who are today behind the extremism and the fanaticism". 

AP reports that in an interview with Bhutto prior to the attack, that she stated: "[t]his is not the same Pakistan it was in 1996 when my government was overthrown. The militants have risen in power. But I know who these people are, I know the forces behind them, and I have written to Musharraf about this. And I've told him there are certain people I suspect in the administration and security."

CNN reports that security appeared to be lax for the Bhutto procession, and that people could reach out and touch the Bhutto procession as it went by.  On October 17, AP reported that there was substantial security planned for the Bhutto return: 2,500 paramilitary troops deployed around the airport, and 3,500 police to guard her route (with 10,000 troops on standby), including seven bomb-clearing squads, as well as 5,000 Pakistan People's Party (PPP) volunteers are guarding her route.  The Times of India reported that Bhutto had recruited a 5,000-strong private army from among her Pakistan People's Party, known as as "Benazir's Janbaz" (Martyr Force).

The Associated Press initially reported that there was "an initial small explosion was followed by a huge blast just feet from the front of the truck carrying Bhutto".  CNN also reported that "[o]ther officials said at least one bomb apparently had been placed in a car on the street, where Bhutto's supporters had gathered to see her convoy pass. One eyewitness told [CNN reporter] Rivers he saw a car explode with three people inside." New Zealand television news reported that "a black car is currently under the spotlight as the suspected cause of at least one of the explosions".

The Pakistan Daily Times reported that Benazir Bhutto challenged those who had made death threats against her life, saying that anyone who attacked her would "burn in hell".  Bhutto also stated that her return to Pakistan was to "turn... the wheel from dictatorship to democracy, from exploitation to empowerment, from violence to peace", and to create "a society free of extremism".

Posted on 10/19/2007 8:14 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Friday, 19 October 2007

From Harry's Place (with thanks to Alan):

If you are free and in central London over lunch today, why not join us at a protest outside the Saudi Arabian embassy?

The protest is organised by the NUS LGBT group with support from OutRage! and others.

Here's the press release:

Gay men sentenced to 7,000 lashes

Protest against potential death sentences

Friday 19 October, 1:30pm - 2.30pm
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
30 Charles Street, London W1J 5DZ

On the 2 October 2007 two young men in the Saudi Arabian city of Al-Bahah were reportedly convicted of 'sodomy' and sentenced to 7,000 lashes. In Saudi Arabia same-sex relations are illegal and the maximum penalty is death.

7,000 lashes can be fatal, depending on how many lashes are delivered at any one time.

Posted on 10/19/2007 7:58 AM by Rebecca Bynum

Friday, 19 October 2007
Muslim students at the University of Toronto are not happy with the halal menu offered alongside of the vegetarian and dairy fee menus in the student bar . . . because the bar (it’s a bar for heavens sake) also serves alcohol. They want a completely separate halal refectory.
With a recent vacancy at the campus cafetaria, the Muslim Students Association at U of T Scarborough is once again pushing for a halal-only restaurant, arguing that Bluff 's, a bar downstairs that offers a halal menu, is unsuitable for Muslims because it serves alcohol.
The case is once again spotlighting the thorny issue of religious accommodation for a growing community of Muslim students at Canada's secular academic institutions.
"It doesn't have to accommodate us ... but we're still going to go ahead and push for these things," said Scarborough campus MSA president Emad Alarashi.
Mr. Alarashi does not eat at Bluff 's, even though the restaurant separates its deep fryers, does not use meat stock in its vegetarian dishes and offers soy-based dairy alternatives.
The problem is the booze, says Mr. Alarashi, pointing out that his MSA -- now 500 strong -- has been demanding more halal options for more than a decade.
He would welcome a halal-only eatery, one free of alcohol, but would just as soon frequent a fast-food sandwich shop with halal dishes.
About 20 Canadian universities offer prayer space for Muslim students, including Memorial University in St. John's, the University of British Columbia, Concordia University, York University and the University of Toronto, which has offered part of Hart House up for Friday prayer for 40 years.
From its Web site, where it advises the university's sizable Muslim population, the MSA accuses Aramark, which provides food and catering on campus, of a "halfhearted effort at halal food" and complains that Muslims are denied a "doubt-free halal food option" because of "profit measures."
This month, a former MSA vice-president sparked debate when he decried the halal-certified chicken and beef options at Bluff 's, which is supported by student fees.
Even though Muslims have been eating there since the menu appeared in spring, Ahmad Jaballah said the offering is simply not enough.
"If it was meant to be an accommodation, then it is seen as not befitting," Mr. Jaballah said. . . . compared Bluff 's halal option to a Muslim prayer room dropped down in the middle of a busy corridor. He and Mr. Alarashi claim Bluff 's never consulted the MSA.
Union president and chief executive Rob Wulkan denies that, saying the halal-certified menu was the result of a year's work, including a student survey, informal talks with the MSA executive and Muslim students.
When I was a student we also had controversy over the serving of food in the Student’s Union Bar. The separate hatch serving food, tea and coffee was considered by some to be a sop to sissy girls and those rich enough to afford to drive a car, and inappropriate in a bar, the purpose of which was to supply beer, and more beer, and maybe some lager, then a little more beer, as cheaply as possible.
Times change. 
Posted on 10/19/2007 2:05 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Thursday, 18 October 2007

LGF reports

At Detroit Metro, screeners in Islamic veils are frisking elderly, wheelchair-bound nuns.

Feel better now?

Posted on 10/18/2007 6:04 PM by Rebecca Bynum

Thursday, 18 October 2007

"car rebirthing racket..."
-- from this news article

What a sweet, inoffensive way of putting it.
"My son's in car rebirthing."

As for the judge's self-assured remark that "[i]t's a very sad and debasing thing to hear it suggested that adherence to a religious tenet can justify criminal behaviour," Judge Hampel said, perhaps she should take the occasion of this case to find out what Islam teaches. And what it teaches as not only permitted but commanded (for in Islam things are commanded, things are prohibited) is all kinds of behavior, based on an attitude of unremitting hostility toward Infidels no matter how kindly and welcoming they behave, and inculcates, through Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira, the belief in a permanent state of war (though not necessarily open warfare) between Believers and Infidels.

Adherence to "a religious tenet" -- to tenets, and then not so much adherence as the effect of what may come out of those tenets, the attitudes of Islam, the atmospherics of Islam -- certainly, in Muslim belief and Muslim logic, justifies all kinds of things that non-Muslims would have no trouble describing as criminal behavior, including most importantly, the refusal to collaborate with, or identify with, the authorities of the Infidel nation-state if those authorities are merely trying to enforce laws, and engage in investigations, to protect the continued existence of the legal and political institutions of that nation-state, and the physical well-being of Infidels themselves.

Posted on 10/18/2007 4:45 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Thursday, 18 October 2007

SkyNews (with thanks to Alan) Dozens of people have been killed in two explosions near to where former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was being welcomed home.

Ms Bhutto's truck had just passed when the blasts happened in Karachi, only hours after she ended her eight-year exile.

She was unhurt and has been taken to her house but at least 51 people were killed and around 150 others wounded.

An initial small explosion was followed by a huge blast just feet from the vehicle.

Ms Bhutto's procession was heading to a rally near the tomb of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, when the attacks happened.

Hundreds of thousands of people had lined the route and militants linked to al Qaeda, angered by her support for the US war on terrorism, had threatened to assassinate her...

Update: The BBC reports 108 dead and 100 wounded. The Telegraph is reporting it as "two suspected suicide bombs."

Posted on 10/18/2007 4:00 PM by Rebecca Bynum

Thursday, 18 October 2007

"We knew Snowball could dance great, but we had no idea just how many days he would brighten," the folks at Bird Lovers Only Rescue write in a blog posting devoted to Snowball the dancing cockatoo.

Is this video legit? We have no idea. But it sure is cute.

Posted on 10/18/2007 3:04 PM by Rebecca Bynum

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Thanks for that Hugh - just as the George Formby reminds Mary of the accents of her childhood so My Old Man Said Follow the Van reminds me of mine. My father wasn't big on lullabys so I was sung to sleep and comforted on the best of the music hall. That,  Any Old Iron,  I Like a Nice Cup of Tea in the Morning,  Lily of Laguna and suchlike.

The clip is from a Will Hay film Those Were the days which is available from Amazon.
The Lily Morris website is here.

And on the subject of ukeleles, they are being used in some schools as an alternative to the recorder.

Posted on 10/18/2007 2:56 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax

Thursday, 18 October 2007

"By the way, in relation to "Little Mosque On The Prairie" you're right in saying that they don't actually have any Muslim actors on that show.."
--- from a posting at Jihadwatch

Of course they don't. Any more than they have Muslims playing Muslims in such movies as "My Son the Fanatic." Hindu and Sikh actors, including some well-known ones, are getting employment thanks to the need for "Muslim" roles to be filled.

Ask yourself two questions.

Why could the character of Apu (the Indian owner of a seven-elevenish store), on The Simpsons, never ever have been made a Muslim?

And why, on The Office (American edition), could the character played by Mindy Chokalingam (reduced for obvious reasons to "Kaling") never be a Muslim, because if that character had any verisimilitude, she would not, could not, be funny, and would leach all the possible humor out of the entire "Office" situation?

In other words, those who produce, those who direct, those who write these shows -- without saying a word -- know perfectly well what the introduction of a real Muslim character, as opposed to a fake Muslim of Bushian or Karen-Hughesian fantasies and espositoish propaganda, would do to their shows.

That says a lot. That speaks volumes. We merely need to turn the volume, on those volumes, up.

Posted on 10/18/2007 2:37 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

Thursday, 18 October 2007

I'm off on my holidays, so no more posting until Halloween. Until that time, I hope NER readers will keep their collective pecker up. Hard without me, I know.

To speed me on my way, here's a song from the First World War:

Goodbye-ee, goodbye-ee,
Wipe the tear, baby dear, from your eye-ee,
Tho' it's hard to part I know,
I'll be tickled to death to go.
Don't cry-ee, don't sigh-ee,
There's a silver lining in the sky-ee,
Bonsoir, old thing, cheer-i-o, chin, chin,
Nah-poo, toodle-oo, Goodbye-ee.

Listen here to the song, performed in 1918 in a clipped, stiff-upper-lipped voice quite unlike mine.

Toodle pip. Back before you know it.

Posted on 10/18/2007 2:04 PM by Mary Jackson


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