Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lauren and Dylan (those Everlong kids!)

Here is the backstory on Lauren and Dylan (if you don't know who I'm talking about, check out this recent post). Below is a story from today's, a Dublin based online media outlet "dedicated to bringing you the latest news from Dublin, Ireland and worldwide."

Meet the young stars who rocked Electric Picnic

By Geraldine Gittens

Thursday September 16 2010

THEY'RE NOT major stars just yet, but a young brother and sister duo have proved to be one of the hits of Electric Picnic. Dylan McBride and his sister Lauren performed in an open-mic session at the festival and have already received more than 4,200 hits on YouTube -- beating major rock bands as the most-viewed clip from the festival.

Dylan McBride and his sister Lauren performed in an open-mic session at the festival and have already received more than 4,200 hits on YouTube -- beating major rock bands as the most-viewed clip from the festival.

Dylan (12) and Lauren (11) from Greystones, Co Wicklow, performed an acoustic version of Everlong by the Foo Fighters in an open-mic session at the Oxjam tent at the boutique music festival which took place earlier this month.

The popular brother and sister duo say it's their favourite song to perform together but revealed this was only their second live performance.

They've beaten off stiff competition from the likes of Mumford and Sons, The Frames, and The National on YouTube, and it was a spontaneous decision by Lauren to take to the stage that propelled them to fame.

Their proud dad Alan, who recorded the video footage, said: "We were just walking around Electric Picnic and Lauren saw that there was an open-mic session.

"I thought they'd [the organisers] never put them on and I thought they were just going to humour them. But within two minutes of running into the tent, we heard the announcement that they were on next."


Lauren explained: "I just really wanted to do it and I went up to the guy and he said there was a half hour wait, but then he put us on anyway."

Alan added: "The whole thing was very spontaneous, and the guitar isn't working at the start and you can see then that the audience is visibly surprised that they can perform."

- Geraldine Gittens

A Judicious Catch-22: Ayodhya & the "Religion of Peace"

Two key portions of today's ruling in the Ayodhya case read as follows:
The disputed building was constructed by Babar, the year is not certain but it was built against the tenets of Islam. Thus, it cannot have the character of a mosque.

It is also established that the disputed structure cannot be treated as a mosque as it came into existence against the tenets of Islam.
These are both from Justice Dharam Veer Sharma, one of three judges in the case.

What is the meaning of the finding that the mosque built in the 16th century by the conqueror Babar "was built against the tenets of Islam"?

Muslims today want everyone to believe that theirs is a "Religion of Peace". Furthermore, they insist that this has always been the case, and that the spread of Islam has always been through peaceful means, and that, indeed, their own religious teachings require that this be the case.

Very well, then. If Islam forbids such things as destroying other people's sacred places and then gleefully building Victory Mosques using the leftover rubble as the foundations, fine. So be it. And since the Babri Masjid ("Babar's mosque") was undeniably built on the ruins of a vast Hindu Temple complex, and this complex, in turn, was at a site that has been sacred to Hindus since "time immemorial" (all of this was affirmed in today's court ruling), then said mosque "was built against the tenets of Islam."

The Religion of Peace has, therefore, been hoisted on its own petard. Either they build their mosques on the smoking ruins of other people's ancient sacred sites, or they don't. If they claim that they don't then any "mosque" built in that fashion was built "against the tenets of Islam" and, therefore, "cannot be treated as a mosque."

Here is some suggested further reading on the history of Muslim aggression and Hindu resistance in India:

Heroic Hindu Resistance to Muslim Invaders (636 AD to 1206 AD)
by Sita Ram Goel

Volume I: A Preliminary Survey
Volume II: The Islamic Evidence

The Legacy of Muslim Rule in India
by K.S. Lal

Here is the preface to the last book listed above, The Legacy of Muslim Rule in India:
Had India been completely converted to Muhammadanism during the thousand years of Muslim conquest and rule, its people would have taken pride in the victories and achievements of Islam and even organised panIslamic movements and Islamic revolutions. Conversely, had India possessed the determination of countries like France and Spain to repulse the Muslims for good, its people would have forgotten about Islam and its rule. But while India could not be completely conquered or Islamized, the Hindus did not lose their ancient religious and cultural moorings. In short, while Muslims with all their armed might proved to be great conquerors, rulers and proselytizers, Indians or Hindus, with all their weaknesses, proved to be great survivors. India never became an Islamic country. Its ethos remained Hindu while Muslims also continued to live here retaining their distinctive religious and social system. It is against this background that an assessment of the legacy of Muslim rule in India has been attempted.

Source-materials on such a vast area of study are varied and scattered. What we possess is a series of glimpses furnished by Persian chroniclers, foreign visitors and indigenous writers who noted what appeared to them of interest. It is not an easy task, on the basis of these sources, to reconstruct an integrated picture of the medieval scenario spanning almost a millennium, beginning with the establishment of Muslim rule. The task becomes more difficult when the scenario converges on the modem age with its pre- and post-Partition politics and slogans of the two-nation theory, secularism, national integration and minority rights. Consequently, some generalisations, repetitions and reiterations have inevitably crept into what is otherwise a work of historical research. For this the author craves the indulgence of the reader.

Ayodhya ruling: Ram to stay put, land to be divided

A panel of three judges has unanimously ruled that the God Ram is not to be moved from his birthplace. That is to say, the "Ram Lalla idol" that was installed in 1949 (and then replaced with a new one, pictured here, in 2002) at the traditional site of Ram's birth, will remain in place and Hindus will continue to be free to come and worship Ram there.

The 2.7 acres of land at the disputed Ayodhya site will be divided into three parts, with the land on which the Ram Lalla idol sits remaining in Hindu hands.

Below is the latest from the Times of India:

Disputed Ayodhya site to be divided into 3 parts
30 Sep 2010, 1616 hrs IST
The Allahabad High Court on Thursday (September 30) ruled majority that the 2.7 acres disputed land in Ayodhya, on which the Babri Masjid stood before it was demolished on December 6, 1992, will be divided into three parts to be distributed among the Sunni Waqf Board, Nirmohi Akhara and the party for 'Ram Lalla', said the lawyers.

The ownership of the disputed site is to be divided into three parts: the site of the Ram lala idol to Ram, Nirmohi Akhara gets Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara, Sunni Wakf Board gets the rest.

Justice D V Sharma decrees the title suit in favour of Hindus, say lawyer K N Bhatt, who represented the party on
behalf of 'Ram Lalla'. Status quo will be maintained at the disputed site in Ayodhya for three months, claimed lawyers Ravi Shanker Prasad and K N Bhatt.

Justice S U Khan ruled that the disputed land belongs to both the communities, say lawyers.

Official verdict of the judgement awaited.

The verdict in the 60-year-old Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit is a landmark one particularly for Justice D V Sharma, who is set to demit office on Friday. The other judges on the Lucknow bench of the High Court are S U Khan and Sudhir Agarwal.

The Bench began the delivery of its verdict at 3:30 p.m. in Court Number 21 in the High Court premises which resembled a virtually impregnable fortress as the area surrounding it has been declared as a "no access zone".

The BJP core group will meet at senior leader L K Advani's residence this evening following the Ayodhya title suit judgement, immediately after the arrival of party President Nitin Gadkari from Mumbai. The meeting will be attended by Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her counterpart in Upper House Arun Jaitely among others and is expected to chalk out the future course of action on the issue after the court verdict. Advani had asked partymen to refrain from commenting on the issue till the verdict was out.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet Committee on Security is slated to meet in the evening and it may consider the Allahabad High Court judgement in the Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister P Chidambaram had appealed to the people to accept the verdict and maintain peace and tranquility. They had also stressed that no attempt should be made by any section of the people to provoke another section after the verdict.

The only hurdle in the pronouncement of the verdict was cleared by the Supreme Court on Tuesday when it dismissed the petition by a retired bureaucrat Ramesh Chandra Tripathi for deferment of the keenly-awaited judgement.

The High Court verdict assumes significance as an amicable solution to the centuries old dispute over a piece of land has not been achieved through negotiations between the two religious groups. Repeated attempts were made by former Prime Ministers P V Narsimha Rao, V P Singh and Chandra Shekhar to persuade the two sides to reach a compromise but there was no success. The Ayodhya dispute has been an emotive issue for decades and mired in a slew of legal suits involving Hindu and Muslim religious groups.

The first title suit in the case was filed in 1950 by one Gopal Singh Visharad, seeking an injunction for permitting 'pooja'(worship) of Lord Ram at the disputed site while the second suit was filed by Paramhans Tamchandra Das also in 1950 seeking the same injunction but this was later withdrawn.

The third suit was filed in 1959 by the Nirmohi Akhara, seeking direction to hand over the charge of the disputed site from the receiver and the fourth one came in 1961 by UP Sunni Central Board of Waqfs for declaration and possession of the site.

The fifth suit was moved on July one, 1989 in the name of Bhagwan Shree Ram Lalla Virajman also for declaration and possession. Through an application moved by then Advocate General of UP, all the four suits were transferred to the High Court in 1989. Out of the 94 witnesses in Court, 58 appeared from Hindu side and 36 from Muslim side and their statements run in more than 13,000 pages.

The High Court while adjudicating the case also asked the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) to carry out excavation in the area surrounding the disputed site to find out whether temple was there before mosque was built. The excavation, which was done in the presence of representatives from Hindus and Muslims, went on for more than five months between March and August in 2003.

Hearing in the case taken up on a day-to-day basis from January this year was completed on July 26 and the special bench had reserved its verdict asking the parties concerned to approach the OSD in case there was any scope of resolution to the case through reconciliation.

Since none of the parties made any attempt in this direction, the court had on September 8 fixed Septemebr 24 as the date for pronouncement of the verdict. It was fixed for September 30 after the apex court dismissed a plea for deferment of the High Court verdict.

The three main issues before the High Court are whether there was a temple at the disputed site, prior to 1528, whether the suit filed by the Sunni Central Waqf board in 1961 is barred by limitation and whether Muslims perfected their title through adverse possession.

The history of the dispute goes back to the year 1528 when a mosque was built on the site by Mughal emperor Babar which Hindus claim to be a birth place of Lord Ram and where a temple was there earlier. In order to settle the dispute the British officials in 1859 erected a fence to separate the places of worship, allowing the inner court to be used by Muslims and the outer court by Hindus and this system went on till 1949 when an idol of Lord Ram surfaced inside the mosque.

The authorities then declared the premises a disputed area and locked the gates which were unlocked after 37 years in by a District Judge in 1986 to allow 'darshan'.

With the passage of time the dispute took political colour. The Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992 in the presence of senior leaders of VHP, Shiv Sena and BJP. The demolition of the mosque triggered communal riots in several parts of the country in which more than 2,000 lives were lost.

Earlier this month, R C Tripathi, one of the parties to the suit, moved a plea in the High Court seeking deferment of the verdict to make fresh attempts for out-of-court settlement through negotiations. On September 17, the High Court refused to defer pronouncement of the verdict following which the matter reached the Supreme Court. An apex Court bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and A K Patnaik refused to take up the case and referred it to another bench.

Difference of opinion between two Justices R V Raveendran and H L Gokhale, before whom the matter came up for hearing on September 23, surfaced on entertaining the petition. However, the Court issued notices to the parties. The matter was finally head by a special three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia on Tuesday and it dismissed the plea for deferment of the verdict by the High Court.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

you've got to promise not stop when i say when ....

I just now stumbled on this amazing video over at the always fascinating "Occasional Superheroine" blog by Valerie D'Orazio.

It's a video of two Irish youngsters named Lauren and Dylan doing an acoustic cover of the Foo-Fighters Everlong:

To see more videos of this dynamic duo check out the aridal68 channel at youtube. Srsly.

This is one of the greatest rock-n-roll songs of all time. Dylan and Lauren completely reinvent it and make it theirs. I stand in awe.

Dylan is a stone-cold virtuoso on the guitar. At first I didn't believe he was really playing , but it's him alright. And Lauren is obviously only partially human. Whatever the other part is, we can only pray that she always uses her Power for good.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Contra Hutton

[This is Part One in an ongoing series. Part Two is now up as well: "Nothing in common ... except the name"?]

I was recently inspired to go back through some of my old posts in which I have presented critiques of just a few of the very worst offenders among the long sad list of fallacies promulgated by Ronald Hutton in his campaign to recast Paganism in the image of Christianity. It is worth noting that Hutton himself has quite clearly stated all along that it is his goal to replace the traditional view held by Pagans, that our religious traditions are deeply rooted in the ancient past, with a new paradigm based on the truly Orwellian claim that modern Paganism far more closely resembles the morbid death-cult of the early Christians than the ancient polytheistic traditions those Christians violently suppressed.

Paganism, B.C. (Before Christianization)
Did ancient Paganism exist? Yes it did.
Some people claim that the whole notion of ancient Paganism is nothing but a hopeless anachronism. According to this view, there was no coherence or commonality among the different polytheistic traditions now subsumed under the heading of "Paganism". Specifically the claim is that the only thing that ancient "Pagans" had in common was that they were not Christians. This post draws on the work of seven contemporary scholars (James B. Rives, Ramsay MacMullen, Charles W. Hedrick Jr, Robert Parker, G.E.M. de Ste. Croix, Thomas Harrison, and Frank Trombley), and as well as Herodotus, Plutarch, and Livy, to argue that, in the words of Charles W. Hedrick Jr, "Paganism cannot be reduced to nothing more than its opposition to Christianity."

Hic Sunt Dracones
Were late-antique Pagans really Pagan? Yes they were.
This one is by far the longest and most detailed of posts listed here. In it I thoroughly demolish Ronald Hutton's claim that the late-antique spiritual ancestors of modern Paganism were not really Pagans at all. This was the fall-back position that Hutton was forced into only a few years after the publication of Triumph of the Moon. By the time Witches, Druids and King Arthur came out Hutton had gone from claiming that the roots of modern Paganism go back no further than the 18th century, to acknowledging that these roots in fact go back 18 centuries. Nevertheless, Hutton insisted that this continuous tradition doesn't count! Relying uncritically on the work of Stephen Mitchell and other proponents of the idea of so-called "Pagan monotheism", Hutton names eight ancient Pagans in particular: Apuleius, Celsus, Aelius Aristides, Maximus of Tyre, the Emperor Julian, Themistius, Sallustius, and Symmachus. All of these, Hutton believes, were really adherents of a "new kind of ancient paganism" that was thoroughly monotheistic and had fundamentally broken with ancient polytheistic traditions. I show in detail that each of those named by Hutton were, in fact, traditional polytheists.

Ancient Pagans and Theology: did they, or didn't they?
But didn't ancient Pagans invent theology? Why, yes they did.
In Witches, Druids and King Arthur, Ronald Hutton stupidly claims that "Traditional European paganism had no theology at all, and the nearest equivalent to it had been provided by the philosophers of the Greek-speaking world." In this post I (all-too-briefly) hit some of the highlights of ancient Pagan theology, including Heraclitus, Empedocles, Pythagoras, Socrates and Plato. I also cite the work of two modern scholars: Mark McPherran and T.K. Johansen.

Paganism has always been a magical religion
Was ancient Paganism characterized by a "a widespread and officially recognized distinction between religion and magic"? Uh, no.
In Pagan Religions of the British Isles, Ronald Hutton asked "How did the 'Wicca' which was developed in these years [the 1950's and 60's] actually compare with the paganism of antiquity?" The very first "fundamental difference" that Hutton proposes between Wicca and ancient Paganism is that "Wicca deliberately blurs the distinction between religion and magic." [p. 335] Later, in Witches, Druids and King Arthur, Hutton more specifically claimed that "a widespread and officially recognized distinction between religion and magic" existed prior to late-antiquity, but at that time "some forms" of "Mediterranean paganism" "dissolved" this distinction. In this post I show that no such distinction was recognized by Plato, or, by implication, Socrates, who both lived during (indeed, helped to define) the height of the classical period, over half a millennia before the earliest glimmerings of so-called late-antiquity. I also cite modern scholars James B. Rives and Scott Noegel, and I allow myself a digression on the theme of "magic as a subversive activity."

Paganism was not born yesterday
Was Jesus a Presbyterian? You figure it out.
Herein I draw attention to the highly subjective and selective way in which certain scholars apply the concept of "continuous tradition" to Paganism without considering how the same logic would play out if it were applied to any other religious tradition: "there is simply no well-defined, objective criterion that makes modern Paganism less rooted in the past than, say, Presbyterianism. Only by arbitrarily applying criteria to Paganism that are not applied (or are not applied in the same way) to other religions, can it be claimed that modern Paganism is especially deficient in terms of our roots."

"detached from the masses and usually disempowered"
Hermeticism has played a vital role in the mainstream of Western intellectual history. So there.
That which is today relegated to the intellectual ghetto of the "Occult" had, until quite recently, not only a respected, but a prestigious and central role in both the cultural mainstream and among the intellectual elites. Many of the leading figures of the Scientific Revolution (including Kepler, Newton and Boyle) were actively involved in Hermeticism, Alchemy, Astrology and otherwise engaged in Esotericism. The same is true of the Renaissance (Ficino, Mirandola, Agrippa, etc) and was also true centuries before that, going back at least to the beginning of the High Middle Ages. And it was also the case in late antiquity as well.

Monday, September 27, 2010

"It's time to fight back against death threats by Islamic extremists" by By Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Daniel Huff

"It's time to fight back against death threats by Islamic extremists"
By Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Daniel Huff

September 27, 2010
Los Angeles Times

Earlier this year, after Comedy Central altered an episode of "South Park" that had prompted threats because of the way it depicted Islam's prophet Muhammad, Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris proposed an "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day." The idea was, as she put it, to stand up for the 1st Amendment and "water down the pool of targets" for extremists.

The proposal got Norris targeted for assassination by radical Yemeni American cleric Anwar Awlaki, who has been linked to the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight and also to several of the 9/11 hijackers. This month, after warnings from the FBI, Norris went into hiding. The Seattle Weekly said that Norris was "moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity."

It's time for free-speech advocates to take a page from the abortion rights movement's playbook. In the 1990s, abortion providers faced the same sort of intimidation tactics and did not succumb. Instead, they lobbied for a federal law making it a crime to threaten people exercising reproductive rights and permitting victims to sue for damages. The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or FACE, passed in 1994 by solid bipartisan margins. A similar act is needed to cover threats against free-speech rights.

A federal law would do two things. First, it would deter violent tactics, by focusing national attention on the problem and invoking the formidable enforcement apparatus of the federal government. Second, its civil damages provision would empower victims of intimidation to act as private attorneys general to defend their rights.

Such an act is overdue. Across media and geographies, Islamic extremists are increasingly using intimidation to stifle free expression.

In 2004, Theo van Gogh was butchered on an Amsterdam street in broad daylight for his film criticizing Islam's treatment of women. By 2006, it was reported that "dozens of people" across Europe were "in hiding or under police protection because of threats from Muslim extremists."

Some targets, including the coauthor of this Op-Ed, fled to the United States, where it seemed safer -- and so it is, for now. However, the stark truth is the United States was never immune and the situation is deteriorating.

In 1989, two American bookstores carrying Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses" were firebombed. Spooked major chains took it off display. And there have been many more threats that received less publicity. Few have heard, for example, about Oklahoma atheist Sabri Husibi, who received death threats after writing a 2009 article critical of his former faith. His aged mother in Syria was warned she would never see him again. "Clearly shaken," he requested the paper that published his article clarify that he is critical of all faiths.

These kinds of threats have had a formidable chilling effect. Mindful of the retaliation others faced, Yale University Press, the Met, the director of the disaster epic "2012" and countless others have decided to preemptively censor themselves.

The kind of legislation we propose is essential if we are to win the war of ideas against extremists, who use threats to drive the moderate message out of public discourse.

Existing state laws prohibiting intimidation are inadequate. On the criminal side, the heightened standard of proof deters prosecutors from investing scarce resources. Explicit grounds for a civil action do not always exist, and damages can be difficult to quantify. By contrast, the FACE Act, which provides the model for the proposed legislation, lets victims opt for preset damages.

The "South Park" incident neatly illustrates the benefits. On April 15, following the first of a two-part episode mocking Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad, announced that "[w]e have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh." The "warning" included the names, photos and work address of "South Park's" creators, a graphic image of Van Gogh's mutilated body and pictures of other targets of Muslim extremists. Overlaying this was audio of Awlaki preaching about assassinating anyone who defamed the prophet. Panicked, Comedy Central heavily censored the episode.

This rather obvious threat could not be prosecuted. New York Police Department officials explained it did not rise to a crime. Were the FACE Act applicable here, a civil suit would have been available, and precedent suggests it would have been successful.

In 2002, on very similar facts, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a civil award to abortion doctors who sued using the FACE Act. A fringe antiabortion group, ACLA, had in various public venues displayed "Wanted"-style posters bearing the names, photos and addresses of doctors who performed abortions. Their names were also posted on the Internet alongside a list of wounded and murdered doctors whose names were struck through. The 9th Circuit held that ACLA's activities constituted true threats unprotected by the 1st Amendment.

If we leave our artists, activists and thinkers alone to weather the assault, they will succumb and we will all suffer the consequences.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former member of the Dutch parliament, is a resident scholar with the American Enterprise Institute and the author of "Nomad: From Islam to America." Daniel Huff is director of the Middle East Forum's Legal Project.

Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: "And if they don't meet these demands then you can send them back."

This is a transcript of the portion of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's recent speech to the national gathering of the Danish People's Party in which she specifically talks about her ideas on immigration policy. The time stamps refer to the video of her speech available at Vlad Tepes' website here.
It is by acknowledging the existence of these cultures, by addressing the principles that underlie them and by reaching out to these communities and exposing them to the differences of the countries that they have chosen to immigrate to, that you put a package of choice on the table. [52:25]

You ask: "Do you want this, or, do you want this? Do you want to continue with the old values that you have learned in the country -- we understand that you have learned it, we understand that you were brought up. But the value system here is different. There are two things that you have to choose from. Which one do you choose?"

It's very important to have that honest conversation.

Now, I know what you will say. You will tell me: "Ya, but they will resist." Yes, some will resist. Some will gradually accept. Some have already adjusted well and are not a problem at all. But given the scale of the problem, given the tensions found in Denmark and the rest of Europe between Muslims and non-Muslims. Given the negative consequences that these tensions have for social cohesion, and given the human rights aspects of this clash of cultures, it's important, and above all it's urgent that you think about these problems and you develop these programs.

When I lived in a culture [54:03] of subjection, where the power was divided between the [inaudible] and it was given to the [inaudible] I didn't have a choice. When I came to live, and I've lived here long enough in a culture of citizenship, where people choose their own government, I felt empowered.  And what did I do with that power?

I made a choice. And I chose the values that underlie that system of freedom.

The Danish culture, Dutch culture, and American culture have differences -- but they also have important similarities: individual freedom, the preservation of life, the rule of law, freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, an openness to the world, an appreciation of scientific inquiry, a model of conflict resolution and talking about things and aspiring to reach a consensus.

These cultures are, in my view, worth protecting and conserving [applause] [55:43]

You're party is young. It's only 15 years old. And you have done remarkable performance in agenda setting, and you've been an example to other parties in Europe. But through that aspiration of consensus, you've also chosen not just agenda setting, but to support a coalition, and, therefore, to lend stability to the country, with parties you don't agree with, but that's how democracy works.

When I was here five years ago, I was told odd things about Venstre, the liberal party. I was told -- and you know Venstre is the liberal party, the sister party of the party that I'm a member of, the VVD in the Netherlands. And I was told this was a bad party. They do not want to increase taxes, and they want to apply a restrictive immigration policy. [57:23] Well, five years later, I think those are good policies. Denmark survived the financial crisis.

And, the Danish immigration policies are being copied everywhere in the rest of Europe [applause]. Now I'm proud to tell those folks who said, "don't vote for Venstre": "Look, it was important that they made those policy chages no matter how difficult they were, because the outcome is better than if those policies were not applied.

And the subject of immigration is perhaps the most sensitive issue [58:20]. It is the hot button issue. The only issue that is more hot button, and I think in Europe we pretend -- we are more hypocritical than any other western society. I've been to Australia, people just talk about Islam. In America people just talk about Islam. It's only in Europe that when people want to talk about Islam they talk about immigration. [58:49] And maybe that's the last taboo subject. And I know that your Party does, and other parties do, but I'm talking about the mainstream, and in the mainstream when they just really talk about Islam, when they mean Islam, they talk about immigration.

I can't read Danish. But I heard rumors that your Party wants to stop all immigration from non-western countries. [applause] You do?? [people in audience say "yes"]

But I come from a non-western country! Come on! [people in audience murmur and some laugh]

It's not in my position to tell you what to do. But I would rather that you adopted a different policy. Instead of saying "No" to all non-westerners, I think it would be better if you introduced that choice that I just talked about. [applause] Yeah.

You allow people who promise to adhere to the rule of law, to respect the freedom of others, the freedom of their daughters, who work, who promise to work, and work. You can develop a contract with them. And if they don't meet these demands then you can send them back. [loud applause]

But I think it is wrong, it is morally wrong, to pre-emptively conclude that all non-western immigrants should not, must not come to Denmark [scattered applause]. Where [1:01:00] do you expect immigrants to come from? You want them to come from Germany and Sweden maybe? [half-joking groans and cries of protest and laughs from the audience at the idea of Germans or Swedes immigrating to Denmark]

It would be a loss to those from outside of the West, but it would also be a loss to Denmark, if you can't find that combination, that marriage between people that want freedom, and countries that provide freedom, to find one another. Without being rosy-eyed about it. It's very very important to spell out what Denmark is not about, what Denmark will not accept. But it's also equally important to spell out the characteristics of individuals who are welcome.

It's very important to demand that those "subjects" make the transition to become citizens. To work hard. To learn the language. To find a job. To abide by the law and pledge loyalty to the Danish constitution. [applause]

If it is the Danish culture of openness the Danish culture of freedom the Danish culture of tolerance -- that is what I admire. It is the culture that I subscribe to. And I thought that that's the culture your young party wants to preserve and defend. And if that's the case, you have me on your side. If it's not the case, then I want to spell out that I won't endorse exclusion, blunt exclusion of all non-western immigrants simply because they are non-western.

Thank you for providing me with this platform.
[loud prolonged applause]

What Ayaan Hirsi Ali said (in her speech to the DPP on 9-18)

On September 18th, Ayaan Hirsi Ali addressed the national meeting of the Danish People's Party, Dansk Folkeparti. The party is something referred to by its Danish initials DF, but more commonly (among English speakers) it is referred to as the DPP.

The video tape of her speech is over an hour long. Ali is first introduced by Party leader Pia Kjærsgaard, and then the beginning of the speech itself is the usual pleasantries, which then gradually transitions into Ali talking in very broad terms about two very different kinds of societies in today's world: (1) on the one hand there are societies in which there are rulers and subjects, and (2) on the other hand there are societies in which there is "liberal democracy, inspired by the Enlightenmnet, where individual citizens are free and equal before the law."

This is starting about 13 minutes into her speech (what is below is only about 7 minutes of the speech, so far):
today we live in a global world, in a global world where in parts of the world where there are rulers and subjects, people are leaving, and they are coming to other parts of the world where people are citizens, and governments are government by the people and for the people. In fact, for the last 30 or 40 years [13:06] we have seen a stream of people from those cultures of subjection. And those subjects, those human beings, are seeking a better life. We see them flock to cultures of democracy.

And, we don't only see the movement [13:30] from one place to another we see two things happen. Those subjects, when they become citizens, appreciate it and celebrate it and love it -- and contribute to the new cultures that they come to. [13:49] But we also see some who do not -- who are confused. Some who find out about citizenship and what it means -- and reject it.

In other words, there is a clash. And that clash is on a local level and it is on a global level. As Danish people you have given us the most famous example of such a clash: the drawings of the cartoons of the prophet mohammed. most muslims were brought up to believe that mohammed, the founder of that religion, was infallible, and they believe that drawing this image is an offense. And when a Danish newspaper published not one image of the prophet mohammed but 12 images, you can imagine the shock and horror that went through that population.

But if you look at things from the perspective of the Danish newspaper and the Danish cartoonists, what do you see? That the prophet mohammed is portrayed as the inspiration for beheading people, for blowing people up, for telling women to stay at home. So they did what i was told Danish people are good at -- they drew cartoons. And this led to a most dramatic confrontation. Perhaps the most dramatic confrontation of the decade.

That confrontation revealed the important differences that i am talking about. The important difference between nations and peoples that are used to being subjects and rulers on the one hand, and nations and peoples that have governments that are chosen by the people, where the people are citizens.

here in denmark there was a danish imam [16:35] who saw those cartoons, 12 of them, [inaudible] he put them in a folder, he took them to the middle east. he took them to places like syria, and egypt and saudi arabia and lebanon. in all of those places, you have that relationship of subjects and rulers. the subjects [17:09] who under normal circumstances are not allowed to dissent, the subjects are not allowed to form political parties, who are not allowed to vote, who are not allowed in their day to day lives, to show what it is in their societies that they don't like about their rulers -- at that instant they were given orders by their rulers to organize and to protest, to burn embassies, to burn the danish flag, and we saw people shouting "death to denmark".

think of places like saudi arabia, where women are not allowed to drive, where women have a guardian, and only with his permission can they leave to go to school, and only when they are chaperoned. women and men are not allowed to mix. but i remember the images clearly -- in the supermarkets where women were now able to tell the difference between yogurt that was from denmark and yogurt that was not. danish yogurt, danish dairy products, were left on the shelves.

this, as we noticed, were demonstrations organized by the state, and the subjects did what they were told to do. the subject in a society like that is like wax. you can mold him or her in any way you like. he's like a zombie. there are dissidents, and opposition takes place, but it takes place in secret. conspiracy theories abound. and if you are found out the punishment is harsh. long years in prison, torture, death.

by contrast, in a liberal democracy the citizen is free. his opinion is formed, based on whatever information he can find out the issue. the institutions of the state [2012] have the object of guaranteeing as much freedom to their citizens as possible. [20:20]

[I'll post more later today!]

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A look into America's not too distant future

Coming soon to a "Sharia compliant" society near you!

Six British citizens were arrested by their government today. What was their crime? They burned a copy of the Koran, videotaped it, and then uploaded the videotape to youtube.

I was going to say something like: "hey, no, really -- I'm serious. THIS REALLY HAPPENED!" But you know what? It's not really all that fucking surprising to anyone anymore. Think about that!

Hat tip, once again, to the Islam in Europe blog. Go there to read more, if you have the stomach for it. The story has also been picked up by the Telegraph, the BBC, the Guardian, etc.

[Soviet propaganda posters from website, tovaritches!]

Ayodhya: Some historical and political background from Dr. David Frawley

Somnath and Ayodhya: What Is the Difference

By David Frawley

Somnath is one of the most important Hindu sacred sites, relating to Lord Shiva, who is worshipped as the Supreme godhead. Its history goes back to the Vedic era and to the Mahabharat. Its great temple was first destroyed by the Afghani invader, Mahmud of Ghazni, in the eleventh century. It was one of the first great Hindu temples attacked by invading Muslims and its destruction left a great scar on the psyche of Hindus.

Meanwhile Mahmud was hailed throughout the Islamic world as a second Mohammed and his smashing of Somnath was lauded in the Sufi poetry of Attar, Sanai and Omar Khayyam. These poets equated Somnath with the temples to the pagan goddess Al-Manat destroyed by Mohammed and viewed its destruction as the 'will of Allah' and the 'enlightened march of Islam.'

The Hindus rebuilt the temple several times, but the Muslims destroyed it again. The temple was last destroyed by the Mughal tyrant, Aurangzeb around 1700. Aurangzeb, as history records, was a brutal ruler who left a trail of genocide and destruction, mainly aimed at converting Hindus. Aurangzeb built a mosque on the site of the Somnath temple, using some columns from the temple, whose Hindu sculptural motifs remained visible.

Under the guidance of the political leader Sardar Patel and KM Munshi (who founded Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan), the temple was restored around 1950. Mahatma Gandhi also approved of the retaking of Somnath but did not live to see it happen. Recently the President of India, Shanker Dayal Sharma, performed the Kalash pratishthan of the temple's Nritya Mandap and dedicated the temple to the nation.

Hindu leaders, particularly the VHP (Vishva Hindu Parishad), have been asking for the restoration of three great Hindu holy sites whose temples were destroyed and replaced with mosques. These are Ayodhya (Ramajanmabhumi or Ram's birthplace), Mathura (Krishnajanmabhumi or Krishna's birthplace), and the great Shiva temple of Kashi Vishwanath in Varanasi. The restoration of Somnath should be examined to see whether these other proposed restorations are valid.

Both Krishnajanmabhumi in Mathura and Kashi Vishwanath temple are products of similar historical circumstances as Somnath. Both like Somnath were important Hindu holy sites destroyed by Muslim invaders, with the last destruction and building of their present mosques also done by Aurangzeb in the late 17th. Both, like Somnath, retain portions of the original Hindu temples. In fact the whole back wall of the Kashi mosque is from the Kashi Vishwanath temple, complete with all the sculpture.

The case of Ayodhya is not much different. It was destroyed by the first Mughal invader from Central Asia, Babar, in the 16th century and a mosque was built on the site. Like the others, portions of the temple could be found in and around the mosque. Hindus fought repeatedly through the centuries to regain the Ayodhya site but never succeeded in restoring the temple. Such mosques were placed on the holy sites of another religion in order to denigrate it. They are monuments to intolerance, cruelty and self righteousness and should not be looked upon as holy by members of any religion.

One important difference between Somnath and Ayodhya, of course, is that Somnath was reclaimed legally and Ayodhya was destroyed illegally. However the Ayodhya case has been in court since 1947 without a decision so that no legal action can proceed. Moreover, the legal building of Somnath only occurred because of the considerable pressure Indian political leaders put on the Islamic ruler of the area, who had tried to secede to Pakistan though over eighty percent of the population he ruled was Hindu. If Indian leaders today put the same pressure on the Islamic communities that hold these Hindu sacred sites, they will also give them up.

There is some debate today that Ramajanmabhumi or Krishnajanmabhumi cannot be reclaimed because no one can prove that Rama or Krishna, who lived thousands of years ago, were actually born there. Those who restored Somnath were not asked to prove the history of Somnath thousands of years ago before restoring the temple. The tradition itself was enough to warrant the restoration.

Why was Somnath restored and not the others? Because Sardar Patel was a Gujarati (Somnath is in Gujarat) and he unfortunately died in 1950, preventing him from taking similar action for other Hindu sacred sites. Nehru, for whom Patel was the main rival, was not in favor of the restoration of Somnath and he effectively blocked the restoration of the other sites, particularly Ramajanmabhumi.

Nehru ruled as a socialist with communist sympathies, not as a Hindu and his policies followed his ideological bent. In other words, the same process as reclaimed Somnath was initiated in regard to these other sites but was suppressed. Had it I been allowed to go through, the result would probably have been the same. Why is it, therefore, that the restoration of the Somnath temple is a matter of national pride, while attempts to restore the Mathura and Kashi temples are portrayed in the press as the ravings of Hindu militants?

It is hypocritical to separate Somnath from the other three sites. If Kashi and Mathura cannot go back to the Hindus, then the taking of Somnath was illegal. If the destruction of Babri Masjid was a dastardly act, so was the demolition of the Somnath mosque. If Hindu political leaders, like the President, will not go to Ayodhya for worship, they should not go to Somnath either.

On the other hand, if Hindus can reclaim Somnath, they can reclaim the other three sites. In fact of the four sites, it can be argued that the most important is Krishnajanmabhumi, because Krishna is probably the most important Hindu religious figure. Kashi Vishwanath Shiva Temple is also at least as important as Somnath.

Kashi comes first as the city of Shiva. Because Somnath was destroyed first, it gained a greater nostalgia, but not because it is a more important site than the others. The reclaiming of Somnath hence demands the restoration of these other sites.

If Indian political leaders like Sardar Patel could reclaim Somnath and remain good secular leaders that the nation still honors, so can Indian political leaders today. If Somnath can be dedicated to the nation, so can the other sites. If Somnath is a matter of national pride, then certainly Ayodhya and the others deserve to be as well. If a legal process could be created to reclaim Somnath, a similar process can be created to reclaim these other three sites.

Who is asking for the restoration of the Somnath mosque today? No one in India. There is no political action committee for the restoration of the Somnath mosque. If the other sites had been taken back at the same time forty-five years ago, they would no more be political issues today than is Somnath. Similarly if they are taken back today as Somnath was decades ago, they will cease to be issues in a few years. For those opposed to the restoration of Ramajanmabhumi, Kashi and Mathura, let them not forget Somnath.

If Hindus honor Somnath, they should not look down upon attempts to restore Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi, but, on the contrary, help accomplish this aim.
© 2002 AYODHYA.COM . All Rights Reserved.

Here is an excerpt from short biography of Dr. David Frawley written by Samu Varughese:
David Frawley, otherwise known as Vamadeva Shastri, is a US citizen by birth and a Hindu by conviction. He sees his life work as forming a bridge between these two widely opposing cultures, and he does so with a rare dedication and thoroughness. An acknowledged Vedantin, Frawley is an expert in ayurveda, Vedic astrology, yoga, and tantra , all of which, he says, have their basis in Vedanta. Indeed it is the interdisciplinary approach to Vedanta that he sees as his particular contribution in demystifying eastern spirituality.

Ayodhya verdict deferred for at least one week

The much anticipated verdict in the "Ayodhya case" before the Indian Supreme Court has been deferred. Here is the story according to ANP and AFP (Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau & Agence France-Presse) from the Radio Netherlands Worldwide website:
Indian Supreme Court defers flashpoint court ruling
Published on 23 September 2010 - 11:36am

India's Supreme Court deferred Thursday a high court ruling on a bitter religious dispute that had posed a major security headache ahead of the crisis-hit Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

The high court in Allahabad in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh had been due to rule Friday on a long-standing ownership struggle over a religious site in Ayodhya, where Hindu zealots destroyed a mosque in 1992.

But the verdict was postponed for at least a week after the Supreme Court said it would hear a private petition requesting more time for mediation.

"The Supreme Court has deferred the Ayodhya verdict. The order states that the high court in Allahabad cannot pass the judgement tomorrow," said an official in the registrar office.

The next hearing on the petition was set for September 28.

"We will try and tell the court the matter should be deferred further and that parties involved in the dispute -- the religious leaders -- should be asked to sit and solve the matter amicably," said Mukul Rohatgi, a lawyer for the petitioner.

"This issue is not about 10 or 100 people. It involves millions of people and there should be representation from all the concerned parties," Rohatgi said.

The razing of the Babri mosque in 1992 triggered some of the worst communal violence since the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947.

More than 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the rioting.

Since then, the 47-acre (19-hectare) site has been cordoned off with barbed wire and steel fencing and guarded by troops.

Hindus say the mosque had been built by the Moghul emperor Babur on the site of a temple marking the birthplace of the Hindu warrior God Ram.

There had been deep concerns that Friday's scheduled high court ruling could spark widespread unrest, and 200,000 police, paramilitary and other security personnel had been deployed across Uttar Pradesh as a preventative measure.

The petition before the Supreme Court had argued that the Allahabad verdict posed a particular security risk at a time when India's security concerns are focused on the October 3-14 Commonwealth Games being held in New Delhi.

Fears for the safety of athletes and spectators were heightened after a home-grown Islamist group shot at a tourist bus outside New Delhi's main mosque last Sunday, injuring two Taiwanese nationals.

The Supreme Court decision was greeted with dismay by some involved in the Ayodhya dispute who argued that the time for mediation was over.

"It's really unfortunate. People were waiting for the verdict," said S.Q.R. Ilyas, convenor of a committee representing Muslim interests in the dispute.

"All efforts at reaching an amicable solution have been made without result," he said. "The court verdict... is the need of the hour."

The drive to build a Ram temple on the ruins of the razed mosque remains a key political aim of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which first came to national prominence over the Ayodhya issue.

BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was appearing as a senior counsel arguing against the petition in the Supreme Court, said he was disappointed.

"I respect the court decision, but I can tell you that there is no possibility of an amicable solution," Prasad said.

Despite appeals for calm from all sides, there are serious concerns about a violent, knee-jerk reaction once the Allahabad High Court eventually delivers its ruling.

"The way the country handles this -- the aftermath -- will have a profound impact on the evolution of our country," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said earlier in the month.

India has avoided any major outbreak of Hindu-Muslim violence since riots in Gujarat in 2002 and is especially keen to keep a lid on any unrest during the Commonwealth Games.

The Games are already in chaos, with some national delegations threatening to withdraw their teams amid complaints over the "filthy" athletes village and safety concerns after a footbridge leading to one of the main venues collapsed on Tuesday.

For background on Ayodhya please refer to the following links:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"I, too, am from a non-Western country."

Ayaan Hirsi Ali addressed the national gathering of the Danish People's Party on September 18th. In her speech, Ali, who is Somalian, challenged the DPP's position of calling for a complete stop to all immigration from all non-western countries, although she shares the broader goal of halting and reversing the process of Islamization in the West. A complete video of her speech can be found at Vlad Tepes' blog here.

Some on the Left and in the mainstream media have tried to sieze on Ali's remarks, but what they fail to realize is that she is playing a vital role in moving forward the practical and necessary discussion of both the principles and the realpolitik of actually stopping Islamization -- as opposed to the vague generalities and short-sighted oversimplifications that might serve well to get votes and sell books, but which either do not translate into real policies, or, worse, are used to justify regressive, xenophobic policies.

The bottom line is that Islam must be opposed in the name of defending freedom, not in the name of defending the purity of the White Christian West (a fantasy which does not even exist anyway, and wouldn't be worth defending if it did). People who don't like dark-skinned foreigners who don't worship Jebus are just as much of a threat to freedom as are Islamist terrorists and their taqiyya spewing "moderate" accomplices.

Here is how the Copenhagen Post covered Ali's speech:
Hirsi Ali takes on right-wing party
Monday, 20 September 2010 14:32

Danish People’s Party’s annual congress saw prominent Somali rebuking their policies

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a 40-year-old former refugee and a prominent critic of religious extremism, addressed the 15th annual party congress of the Danish People’s Party (DF) on Saturday.

She spoke about the importance of integrating non-Western immigrants in Europe and teaching boys about women's rights and sexual morality in the West from an early age.

After building up the party faithful by suggesting that immigrants should enter into a contract to respect the conditions in Danish society, Ali stoked the fire further by saying in English: ‘I do not understand Danish, but I've heard rumours that your party will stop all immigration from non-western countries?’
After meeting applause again from the crowd, Ali turned on them with the rebuke, ‘I too am from a non-Western country,’ and that ‘it is wrong to say that all non-Westerners can’t be integrated into Denmark’.

The response that time was considerably less enthusiastic, but nevertheless party leader Pia Kjærsgaard remained supportive of Ali. As Kjærsgaard said to her: ‘You are many people’s idol, and you are my idol.’

DF has a tradition of inviting controversial guest speakers. In 2008, it was addressed by Mohammed cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

Like Westergaard, Ali lives under a constant threat to her life and required a heavy security presence at the meeting. Ali has lived with death threats since composing the screenplay for the 2005 Theo van Gogh film Submission,

In 2005, she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. She now works for the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC.
[Hat tip to the Islam In Europe blog.]

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In Praise of Teen Witches

The year was 1973. I was a high school student in a small, very conservative factory town in central Indiana.

There were these two girls in our school. People said they were "witches". This wasn't one of the usual, boringly predictable (while at the same time always crude and salacious) rumors that were routinely spread around, seemingly at random. In fact, this rumor was very persistent and very specific -- completely unrandom. And these were the only two people I had ever heard of being literally accused of "witchcraft" in my whole life.

I knew both of them, but only slightly. Certainly not well enough to just haul off and ask, hey, like what is the deal with the rumor that you're, like, "witches"?

But then I started dating a close friend of one of the "witches". So I asked her about her friend: "hey, like, what's the deal with everyone saying she's, like, a witch?"

Now let me emphasize the time and place again. Time: almost 40 years ago. Not even a full 20 years after Gerald Gardner first published Witchcraft Today. And the place? This was the kind of town that gave the world Dan Quayle. The kind of place where someone like Christine O'Donnell floats to the top, instead of the bottom. The kind of place where public school officials exerted significant effort to thwart the attempts of the Supreme Court to enforce the Constitutional separation of Church and State.

OK, now that I've set the stage, here is what my girlfriend told me when I asked why people said that her friend was a witch: "Oh, you shouldn't say that. They don't use that word. They call it the Old Religion -- but they really don't like to talk about it. Basically it's the religion that the Celts had before the Christians came. It's like, well, Paganism, you know? Nature worship. But really, they really don't like to talk about it, and I shouldn't say anything else. Really -- don't ask her about it or tell anyone what I said."

The little hairs on the back of my neck stood up when I heard the phrase "Old Religion". But that was all I could find out from my girlfriend. I did try to find out more about "the Celts" in the local library -- but none of the books I found said anything about what kind of religion anyone had "before the Christians came."

It would be another 15 years before I happened upon Starhawk's book The Spiral Dance in a B Dalton's bookstore at a mall in Indianapolis (by then I had moved to The Big City). Aha! I thought, this is what she was talking about!

No giggling about "Satanic altars". No dabbling. Just some young people practicing the Old Religion -- and who didn't want anything from anyone else except to be left alone to worship nature in peace. I am getting sick of all the pointless babble about Christine O'Donnell. So I just wanted to tell this little true story about two brave (and very real) teen witches who made a real difference in my life. They let me know that the Old Religion was still alive. And that is some very powerful magic.

"What can the American Muslim community do to protect Molly Norris?" Apparently, nothing.

UPDATED! There is an important update to this post at the bottom.

Sheila Musaji is the founding editor of The American Muslim, a website "dedicated to the promotion of peace, justice, and reconciliation for all humanity." Yesterday she posted a long article titled, "What can the American Muslim community do to protect Molly Norris?" (It's over 3,000 words, and if it were printed out in a 12 point font it would be seven pages long.)

Much of the article consists of Musaji belittling and mocking Ms. Norris, and generally saying that she brought this on herself and that Muslims ("real" Mulims, that is) bear no responsibility whatsoever for her predicament.

My favorite part is when Musaji actually says of Norris:
How she could have been unaware that such a proposal could bring out the extremist element on both sides who would use the event to pursue their own agendas (having nothing to do with free speech) is difficult to understand.
What an incredibly revealing declaration. Musaji comes right out and admits -- no, she in essence proudly asserts -- that Muslims can be counted on to react with bloodthirsty savagery to cartoons! And anyone who doesn't understand that this is just how Muslims roll, well, they'll find out soon enough.

But the title of Musaji's long-winded diatribe said something about protecting Molly Norris, not ridiculing her, didn't it? Hmmm. Well, if we read through the first 2,350 words or so, we finally get to this:
If it was in my power to personally protect Ms. Norris, I would do so. If it was in my power to find and arrest Al-Awlaki, or any other person instigating or attempting to carry out violence against another, I would do so. I wish that I knew what more I could do other than condemn such words and actions.
But I thought that "moderate" Muslims like Musaji were fighting tooth and nail to defeat the extremists!? But according to Musaji they have already given up -- and it really isn't their problem anyway.

Anyone who wants to know how "moderate" Muslims really think should seriously study Sheila Musaji's very enlightening article.

UPDATE: I just noticed that Sheila Musaji maintains a very long list of "Actions" that people can take so that they can "make a difference." There are well over 200 separate "Actions" that people are called on to participate in, mostly consisting of signing petitions, writing letters and "urging" various politicians to do various things. Some of the noble causes highlighted there include the "Leave No Gaza Student Left Behind" petition, five separate action items condemning Israel over the Mavi Marmara incident, a petition "to demand that Republican leaders stop turning a blind eye to violence and hate before it gets out of control and someone gets hurt," and so forth. Nowhere is Molly Norris' case mentioned in any of these ways for people to "make a difference"!

[The cartoon was found at the website here.]

Monday, September 20, 2010

What Does the Muslim Brotherhood think of the new Pew report?

The Muslim Brotherhood has its own official English language website. Who knew? I only discovered this because I had taken notice of the dearth of media coverage on the newly released Pew report on "Muslim networks" in Western Europe (see my previous post on the report for a brief overview and links to Pew's website where you can read more and even download the full report).

It was while searching through what very little media coverage there is on the Pew report that I came across an article titled "New Pew Forum Report offers an In-Depth Profile of Muslim Networks and Movements in Western Europe," at a website called IkhanWeb. At first I did not notice that IkhanWeb is "The Muslim Brotherhood official English web site."

Overall it appears that the Muslim Brotherhood is quite pleased with the new report, in which they are featured prominently. Pew, it should be emphasized, is hardly a bunch of liberal kumbayaist Obama-boosting Islamophilic Ground Zero Mosque supporters. In fact, the director of their "Forum on Religion and Public Life", under whose aegis the report was done, is a conservative Christian named Luis Lugo whose last job prior to coming to Pew was at the Center for Public Justice, a group committed to government subsidies for Christian missionary work (via "faith based initiatives"), and combatting the evils of non-procreative sex. (Officially, of course, all the folks at Pew are as objective as the driven snow. For more on Pew and Lugo, look here).

But now, let's allow the Muslim Brotherhood speak for themselves:
New Pew Forum Report offers an In-Depth Profile of Muslim Networks and Movements in Western Europe
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has released a new report on "Muslim Networks and Movements in Western Europe," profiling several of the oldest, largest and most influential Muslim groups

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has released a new report on "Muslim Networks and Movements in Western Europe," profiling several of the oldest, largest and most influential Muslim groups operating in Western Europe today. A close look is taken at the distinct histories, missions and executive frameworks of these groups including the Gulen Movement; the Muslim Brotherhood and Jama'at-i Islami; the Muslim World League and World Assembly of Muslim Youth; Jihadi Networks and Hizb ut-Tahrir; Sufi Orders; and Tablighi Jama'at.

Focusing on transitional networks and movements whose origins lie in the Muslim world but currently have a significant existence the report discusses the influence on daily lives of Muslims living there;

“Many of the younger leaders are pressing for an agenda that focuses on the interests and needs of Muslims in particular European countries rather than on global Islamic causes, such as the Israeli-Palestinian dispute”.

It highlighted that several Islamic groups with foreign roots had changed their focus to European issues because of pressure from younger European-born Muslims with fewer links to the Muslim majority countries their families emigrated from.

The report examines how European governments cooperate with the groups and the growing connections between Islamic groups and European governments, and the integration of some of these groups into the continent's political mainstream concluding that;

“These Muslim groups and movements have become more visible on the European political stage and have not led to a decrease in activism on the part of these groups”.

Other examinations include the possible future challenges these networks face considering shifts in leadership and membership ranks. According to the report;

“Many Muslims in Western Europe participate in the activities of these movements and networks, and the groups' formal membership rolls appear to be relatively small”.

It continues however that;

“Despite the low levels of formal membership, these groups often exert significant influence by setting agendas and shaping debates within Muslim communities in Western Europe. The growing connections between Islamic groups and European governments, as well as the integration of some of these groups into the continent's political mainstream, have not led to a decrease in activism on the part of these groups. If anything, Muslim groups and movements have become more visible on the European political stage."

The report also indicates there is a significant presence in Western Europe and North America.

The report sums up that in short it is difficult to generalize about Muslim groups in Western Europe because they vary so widely in their philosophies and purposes.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blasphemous Images

There are a variety of Christian groups and individuals in the West that are as hell-bent as ever on censoring anything that "offends" them, and punishing those responsible.

For example, here is an outraged call to action for protests against "Chocolate Jesus", a piece by Canadian artist Cosimo Cavallaro. Another example is the now infamous "Merry Titmas" exhibit by "notorious art curator" Lenora Claire in 2007.

Below are some not quite randomly selected images that could, potentially, be seen as examples of anti-Christian blasphemy. (Including one from Claire's "Merry Titmas" show):

The cover of a relatively recent book on Republicanism and Anticlerical Nationalism in Spain, by Enrique Sanabria:

Some naughty nuns by Clovis Trouille:


Max Ernst's "Virigin Spanking the Christ Child":

Jesus Guinness & Jesus Thong:

The Virgin Mary depicted as a Hooter's waitress:

"Motivational Poster" styled blasphemy:

Racing Nuns action figures:

Sexy Jesus t-shirts from zazzle:

Sexy Nun stickers from zazzle:

Lookin' Good for Jesus products by Blue Q:

Objectified Jebus:

Jesus Elvis:

Jesus Christ On A Bicycle:

even more blasphemy at
e g r e g o r e s: