Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rachel's law

The Free Speech Protection Act of 2008, as mentioned in an earlier entry, has been introduced in both the House and Senate. Its purpose: to protect U.S. authors from being sued for libel in places like the UK, whose laws strongly favor the plaintiff. There have already been a number of such lawsuits, and they are having a chilling effect, in particular on people seeking to write about Islamist terrorism. The most recent case involved Rachel Ehrenfeld's book, Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed - and How to Stop It.

Momentum is gathering to support this bill, but not fast enough. If you have a moment and would like to help, contact the Senate and House Judiciary Committees and urge them to approve this bill as soon as possible.

Female suicide bombers

Al Qaeda may be on the run, but it is having success in Iraq with female suicide bombers: 27 attacks since the start of the year, according to CBS. Dhimmi Watch describes some of the ways the women are recruited: their husbands or sons may have been killed or detained by coalition or Iraqi forces; Al Qaeda members may have married, then dishonored them (perhaps having them raped by another man), so that their only remaining option is to kill themselves; or they have been told that if they didn't become suicide bombers, their husbands or children would be killed. Another article suggests that women who are illiterate, poor and whose religious fervor can be manipulated are at most risk.

Female bombers have an advantage, in that they can easily conceal the bombs under their clothing and males should not conduct body searches of them. So the Iraqis are hiring female police officers in Kirkuk and elsewhere to perform the necessary searches - apparently many of them widows of men killed by Al Qaeda. The BBC further reports that 150 female police graduates have been hired in Diyala to approach women thought to be vulnerable and attempt to persuade them not to become suicide bombers.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Islamic extremism in UK universities

A new report from the UK's Centre for Social Cohesion (available here) says that just under a third of Muslim students at British universities believe that killing in the name of religion is justified. A similar number support the establishment of a global caliphate. The corresponding percentages for active members of Islamic societies were 60% and 58%, respectively. Those two statistics are highly suggestive of what is discussed in those societies.

A few other stats: 40% of Muslim students support the introduction of sharia law into Britain, and 54% would like to see a Muslim political party stand for Parliament.

As I mentioned a few days ago, the United States has a terrorist threat that is larger than people may think. As in the UK, universities are a key incubator for radical Islam. It's amazing how little this problem is discussed in the mainstream media.

Eurabia from the horse's mouth

Westerners like Mark Steyn get into hot water for describing the Islamization of Europe. Egyptian Islamist preacher 'Amr Khaled says the same thing but is unlikely to suffer for voicing his predictions. He sees Muslims as taking over Europe, given their higher birthrate and already significant numbers (although his estimate is well above other, established ones). Indeed, Khaled thinks that in another 10 years Muslims will be 'firmly established' in Europe. Read these excerpts from an interview with him (thanks to MEMRI).

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Qualifying for French citizenship

A Moroccan woman was just refused French citizenship because she would not remove her veil and show her face. The French Minister of Urban Affairs, Fadela Amara, herself a practising Muslim, supported the decision. In her view, "The burqa is a prison; it's a straitjacket...It is not a religious insignia but the insignia of a totalitarian political project that advocates inequality between the sexes and which is totally devoid of democracy." Go Fadela! Read more at Islamist Watch.

20,000 suspected terrorists in US

Leonard Boyle, the head of the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, said on C-Span that some 200,000 individuals are considered to have 'some relationship with terrorist activities,' a designation strong enough to keep them from boarding airplanes.

Their names are contained in the FBI's watch list, which apparently totals 400,000 names (not the million cited in news stories - the higher number apparently includes variations in spelling). Of those, some 5-6% are U.S. citizens or legal residents. Read more in this editorial in Investor's Business Daily. And, if you want another opinion about the list, there's a GAO report from last October assessing that it has helped U.S. agencies to combat terrorism.

The FBI's assessment is consistent with the findings of a Pew survey of American Muslims released about a year ago. The survey found that 15% of American Muslims under 30 said suicide bombing was often or sometimes justified, You won't find that statistic in the summary, but it's on page 53 of the full report. Incidently, the survey also found that 60% of Muslim Americans did not believe that Arabs carried out the 9/11 attacks. So if you're feeling complacent about America's security relative to that of Europe, you might want to rethink.

The Muslim Brotherhood speaks

MEMRI has just published a translation of an online interview with Muhammad Mahdi 'Akef, the Supreme Guide of the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood. Some of the highlights:

-- Copts (Christians who have lived in Egypt for 2,000 years) are entitled to full citizenship, but no Copt may rule Egypt, because Egypt has 'Islamic values and principles that must be respected.' Nor can a woman take that or other leadership positions: 'a woman is under the man's guardianship, and he does not want her to degrade herself.'

-- There is Western democracy, which allows people to act as they please; then there is true democracy that honors sharia. He brushed aside a question asking if the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was only participating in elections in order to exploit them, later revealing its 'true authoritarian face'.

-- He also dismissed allegations that Brotherhood militias are receiving semi-military training in Egypt, and military training in Iraq and Palestine. He did, however, praise sending fighters to Iraq and Palestine 'if we are allowed'.

-- 'Akef's fulsome praise of Osama Bin Laden's jihad actually got him in hot water with other clerics and politicians, both inside and outside Egypt.

The Muslim Brotherhood, I would remind you, long ago renounced violence. If this seems inconsistent with the above, just try to think it harder.

Antisemitism in the Koran

Andrew Bostom has written a large book, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: from Sacred Texts to Solemn History, on the question of how traditional Islam views Jews. If you want a short version, here it is: an exposition on key passages from the Koran, presented by Sheikh 'Atiyyah Saqr, former head of the Al-Azhar fatwa committee. Al-Azhar, located in Cairo, is the premier Islamic university. (Thanks to Dhimmi Watch.)

To mention just a few items on his list: Jews are disloyal, lying, hypocritical, get the picture. I'm not trying to argue that, because this is in the Koran, Muslims can never get along with Jews. I am trying to say that any viable relationship will require those verses to be consciously set aside (and yes, I know that's extremely difficult if not impossible to do).

This antisemitism can't just be ignored, as it is essential to various political actors. After all, if you can't fire people up with hatred of the Jews, how can you justify such policies as the threats of Iran, Hamas or Hezbollah to annihilate Israel? Threats which, with Koranic sanction, have the support of most of the Muslim world.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Couldn't resist

Here's a wonderful satire of President Obama's - oops, did I say something wrong?? And I don't even work for him! - current progress through the world. (Thanks to Libby.)

I admit I had a giggle, thinking of how disconcerted the crowd of Germans must have been when Obama summoned them to the global struggle against terrorism. That's not exactly why they turned out to hear him speak. As to how many were there, the estimates in U.S. papers of 200,000 don't match what German TV was saying at the time, according to John Rosenthal.

And while I'm on the topic of Obama, you might as well enjoy this revealing catalogue of his gaffes that the press has not seen fit to highlight. Or the piece by Charles Krauthammer, who is after all a trained psychiatrist, on Obama's narcissism.

Whew! Glad to get all that out of my system!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sharia and child custody

An aspect of sharia law that does not receive much notice in the Western press are the rules governing child custody. If there is a divorce, the children are usually given to the mother until they reach age 7, after which custody transfers to the father. (For a first person account of how this works, read Unveiled by Deborah Kanafani, an American who divorced one of Yasser Arafat's lieutenants and lost custody of her children on this ground.)

A Lebanese woman is currently appealing her deportation from the UK, arguing that if she returns home, she will automatically lose custody of her children to an abusive ex-spouse. The UK Law Lords must decide her case. Will they make human rights their highest priority, as the UK Court of Appeal did when it rejected the government's request to deport Abu Qatada, considered Al Qaeda's chief ideologue in Europe? Or will they follow the guidance of Lord Chief Justice Lord Nicholas Phillips, who favors introducing sharia law for family matters?

The Protocols - an Iranian strategic weapon

One of the strategic weapons in Iran's arsenal is anti-semitism. It is essential for whipping up hatred and fear at home, and has the added benefit of delegitimizing the Israeli state as a first step toward its future destruction.

Here's a report of a recent Iranian TV series featuring the notorious Secret Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The Protocols is a notorious czarist forgery about Jews plotting world domination. The Iranian government - along with most of the Muslim world - treats it as the revealed truth. As the report notes, "Iran is the first country since Nazi Germany which officially embraces an active policy of anti-Semitism as a means to promote its national objectives."

House fights back on 'non-jihadi speech'

Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) succeeded, with the support of 55 Democrats, in inserting an amendment into the House version of the 2009 Intelligence Authorization Act that blocks the expenditure of any funds by intelligence agencies to promote 'non-jihadi speak.' That's my name for the new U.S. government policy to avoid such words as jihad when discussing terrorism because they could offend or alienate Muslims. Hoekstra's absolutely right: it's impossible to win the 'war of ideas' if you can't even discuss them openly. Click here for more details (thanks to Jihad Watch).

For an example of the mush that results, here's an earlier entry with a link to a recent op-ed by James Glassman, the new public diplomacy chief at the State Department.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Surges and surges

I confess to being a little confused. Obama says he would still oppose the surge in Iraq, and that the surge did not contribute significantly to recent improvements there. But he wants to do a surge in Afghanistan. Why will that surge improve things? If the economic, political and security situation in Afghanistan is that much worse than in Iraq, isn't a surge even more likely to be a perilous and risky endeavor? And if the situation is that much better, isn't it even more superfluous?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Getting Karadzic

The decision of the new Serbian government to 'bring in' Radovan Karadzic is long-overdue but welcome. A former psychiatrist turned ethnic cleanser, Karadzic headed the Bosnian Serb entity during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. He more than earned his reputation as a war criminal and butcher, most notably for the decision to massacre thousands of Muslim men at Srebrenica in 1995.

Karadzic will presumably be put on trial, either in Serbia or at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. One more major-league bad guy, Ratko Mladic, still needs to be rounded up. Then the Serbian government can emerge from the shadows of its disgrace. In several months, it will likely enter the process that leads to eventual EU membership. Who knows, maybe Serbia will join NATO one day, although many Serbs still remember quite clearly who bombed them during the 1999 Kosovo crisis.

Karadzic and Mladic have much to answer for - some of it not what you'd think. Their despicable behavior (and that of their subordinates) masked the fact that many Serbs had a legitimate concern about the potential spread of radical Islam through an independent Bosnia headed by Alija Izetbegovic. That threat still exists, by the way, even though Izetbegovic is dead. Remember that next time you hear someone saying how brilliantly the West succeeded in Bosnia.

Islam is the solution

This May 2008 article by Egyptian sociologist Sa'ad Eddin Ibrahim refutes the Islamist slogan that "Islam is the solution," listing all the countries where radical Muslims rallied behind it have ended up primarily killing other Muslims. Islamists in Iraq, he says, have killed ten times as many Muslims as have U.S. forces.

In condemning terrorist attacks in Iraq, Ibrahim is signalling a change of heart since his last article in December 2007, a change that came after strong criticism from three Iraqi intellectuals. Indeed, if we succeed in Iraq, the mark of that success will be Iraqis themselves telling the rest of the world about it. (Thanks to MEMRI.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Official Calendar of Mosques

Yes, it's a picture calendar issued by a government...but not the government you might expect.

Last week the U.S. Department of State offered for sale online 2009 Mosques of America Wall Calendar: Limited Edition for Ramadan. When bloggers took note, the item disappeared behind a passworded screen. If you want to see the original entry, Dhimmi Watch captured it on a link here.

Bloggers are wondering if and when we're going to see the 2009 Churches or Synagogues of America series; they're also wondering if the calendars, in addition to pictures of the mosques, will include quotations from Saudi publications distributed in some of them.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Attempted honor killing

This time it's a young man in upstate New York who stabs his sister because he thinks she's not behaving properly and thus bringing dishonor on the family. The news report of the incident repeats that honor killings are not part of Islam but belong to older tribal traditions. Here's my question: does any one know of an Islamic country where honor killings do not occur? (Thanks to Jihad Watch.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Muslim medicine

The concept of Muslim medicine, separate in several key aspects from Western medicine, has been ripening in the UK but is now alive and well in West Virginia, as reported by Front Page Magazine. There, a female student (who in fact was failing) complained of discrimination because she was reluctant to conduct chest and pelvic exams of male patients. In the UK, female students have refused to scrub above their wrists, as required in regular medical protocols.

Beneath these differences is a more fundamental philosophical one. Western doctors are required to treat all patients equally. The constitution of the Muslim Doctors and Dentists Association UK, however, emphasizes advancing the Islamic religion and treating primarily Muslim patients. So far that approach has not surfaced in the United States.

The U.S. student, with the help of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), has been reinstated by the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine while her dismissal appeal is considered. Round one to the Islamists.

Winning in Iraq

Michael Yon, formerly of Special Forces, has been reporting independently from Iraq for some time, one of the few U.S. civilian sources outside the Green Zone. (His book, Moment of Truth in Iraq, is considered to be one of the most accurate depictions of the war.)

Yon's latest assessment is that, barring some major setback, the Iraqis are winning. The Iraqi military should be able to handle most challenges on their own by year's end, although we will be need to be there in some capacity to backstop them. The war in Afghanistan is looking much bleaker, although his sources tell him that, with the right strategy, it too can be turned around. See his blog for a chart showing the decrease in levels of violence.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Give Obama a map, someone!

I admit to being very confused. Obama says that we shouldn't be wasting our time in Iraq, since that country is not a 'central front in the war on terror', despite the fact that Osama Bin Laden said it was. But OK, let's assume Obama's right. Obama says that we should instead focus on Afghanistan, whence came the attack of 9/11, and on Osama Bin Laden himself.

The war in Afghanistan obviously requires more, serious attention than it has received thus far. But even if you accept Obama's analysis of the war on terror, his approach makes no sense. Osama Bin Laden isn't in Afghanistan anymore, he's most likely hiding out in the wilds of Pakistan. Obama once volunteered to attack Pakistan; does he still advocate that? If so, shouldn't he let us know? His choice of Afghanistan doesn't even make sense if what he means is the danger to U.S. forces from a resurgent Taliban. That danger is real, but the Taliban weren't the ones who attacked us.

Aside from these difficulties (which I'm sure Obama would dismiss as 'distractions'), Obama is making a very serious political blunder. Afghanistan is way harder to fix than Iraq: it's much more remote, had a more primitive culture, suffered much more destruction, has a huge safe haven for the enemy just across the border in Pakistan - and, on top of all that, has a huge illegal drug trade. Making victory here the sine qua non of your anti-terrorist strategy is quite a reach.

Standing fast

Political commentator Michael Barone, in a July 12 article at National Review Online, compares President Bush's decision to proceed with the surge in Iraq with President Truman's one to start the Berlin airlift in 1948. Each acted against the advice of prominent experts and advisors. (For the link, click here and scroll down. Thanks to Paul.)

Both Secretary of State George Marshall and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Omar Bradley urged Truman to abandon Berlin. Instead, he insisted on staying and drew on the expertise and experience of General William Turner, who had organized the Burma airlift to China during World War II. Prominent former officials like Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton argued against the surge; Bush had only the support of a few experts like retired General Jack Keane and scholar Frederick Kagan, and the expertise of General Petraeus.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Drill here, drill now, pay less

If you want to pressure Congress to open up offshore drilling for oil, sign this petition. I'm not a fan of Newt Gingrich (and I'm not convinced we're smart enough to defeat the oil speculators), but the concept of enhanced drilling coupled with development of alternative energy sources makes a lot of sense. Pressure for some kind of action is definitely mounting in Washington, and I think this petition contributed significantly to it.

Female warrior at the trough

Malika El Aroud, a 48-year-old Belgian, is one of the most prominent internet jihadists in Europe. She doesn't set off bombs herself, just urges others to do so. She is the widow of the Al Qaeda terrorist who killed Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, just before September 11, 2001. She has since remarried; in 2007, she and her new husband were convicted in Switzerland for operating Al Qaeda websites.

Malika is a role model in more ways than one. Not only does she inspire women to join the jihad, but she shows that her way of life pays - she collects more than $1,100/month in Belgian unemployment benefits. More details here, thanks to Jiihad Watch.

EU defense capabilities

For 10 years, the EU has sought to develop its own military capabilities. It has had some success: for example, it provides the military force that replaced NATO in Bosnia and another in Chad, across the border from Darfur.

However, recent proposals by French President Nicholas Sarkozy to strengthen EU military capabilities show just how limited they actually are. Sarkozy wants the EU to be able to field 60,000 troops (the initial goal set six or seven years ago) for missions outside Europe. While the EU member states together spend an estimated 204 billion euros on defense, only 2.7%, or 57,000, of their 2 million personnel in uniform are deemed capable of performing such expeditionary operations, as opposed to defending national territory, their primary mission during the Cold War.

To achieve its goal, the EU has to operate within two constraints. First, it must persuade European publics that military restructuring is unavoidable (closing bases is no more popular there than it is in the United States) and that defense spending must be increased. Second, the EU must also compete with NATO for these scarce, skilled forces, since European forces in Afghanistan or Iraq are drawn from the same pool of people. Let's hope Sarkozy succeeds; enhanced European military capabilities are in the U.S. long-term interest, whether they come under the rubric of NATO or the EU.

Friday, July 11, 2008

French policy toward Colombia

Did you ever wonder what the French were doing when they weren't excoriating President Bush for his dreadful foreign policy disasters? Well, for one thing, making their own blunders.

Even President Nicolas Sarkozy let himself get suckered by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He and the rest of the French foreign policy elite opposed any military initiative to free the hostages held by the FARC, especially Ingrid Betancourt who also has French citizenship. Instead, they supported Chavez' proposals for negotiations. That policy looks rather foolish now that it has become clear that the FARC never intended to release Betancourt and that Chavez had close ties with the FARC.

For more background, read John Rosenthal's interview with Daniel Pecaut, a French expert on Colombia.

EMP - the Iranian weapon of choice?

Investor's Business Daily reported on a July 10 hearing before the House Armed Services Committee in which William Graham, former science advisor to President Reagan, presented a report by the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack. EMP are generated by nuclear explosions, 40 to 400 kilometers above the earth's surface. They are designed to disrupt or distroy the electronic systems and electrical infrastructure below them.

As Graham said in his testimony: "Iran...has practiced launching a mobile ballistic missile from a vessel in the Caspian Sea. Iran has also tested high-altitude explosions of the Shahab III, a test mode consistent with EMP attack, and described the tests as successful. Iranian military writings explicitly discuss a nuclear EMP attack that would gravely harm the United States."

Increased dependence on commercial technologies that are not sturdy enough to withstand such attacks has apparently enhanced U.S. military vulnerability. And the increased use of electronics by everyone else makes the civilian economy vulnerable too. Graham estimates that, through a mix of public and private initiatives and with modest public funding, this vulnerability could be significantly decreased in 3-5 years.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Libel tourism

That's the new term for shopping around for the best place to sue for libel. Saudi billionaire Khalid Bin Mahfouz sued author Rachel Ehrenfeld for alleging in her book, Funding Evil, links between his money and terrorist activities. The book was written and published in the United States; Mahfouz sued in the UK based on 23 copies of the book that were special-ordered there. The judge ruled in his favor, but Ehrenfeld has countersued in U.S. court. Jihad Watch is carrying a video by the Moving Picture Institute that describes what's going on.

As reported earlier, the U.S. Congress is now considering legislation, similar to a law just enacted in New York State, to counter such foreign lawsuits. Contact your representatives to urge them to pass the law as soon as possible!

Closer European and Israeli ties

A little while ago I reported that the EU and Israel were upgrading their diplomatic and economic relations. The U.S. House Subcommittee on Europe held a hearing on July 9 on the Europe-Israel relationship which looked as well at the closer ties between Israel and NATO. The Subcommittee website contains a trove of information, if you're interested.

The Israel-NATO ties are based on a clearer perception that the two sides face common threats, whether it is Islamist terrorism or the potential of a nuclear Iran. The Israel-EU relationship reflects as well enhanced mutual economic interests, and a friendlier European leadership, as Merkel, Sarkozy and Berlusconi have replaced Schroeder, Chirac and Prodi in Germany, France and Italy, respectively. Enlargement to the east has also brought into the EU fold more countries that see a strategic interest in good ties with Israel.

Now, European leaders who want to promote closer ties must bring along with them all those people who have embraced anti-Israeli, strongly pro-Palestinian positions for decades. These include media figures, such as those supporting France TV2's false reporting on the alleged death of Muhammed al-Dura. They also include those who continue to support European Commission funding of Palestinian schoolbooks promoting hatred of Israel. For details on that problem, see a January 2008 report by the UK Taxpayers Union.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Breath of fresh air in Tennessee

Click here to read a fascinating interview at Front Page Magazine with Indian-American Vijay Kumar, who's running for the Republican nomination for a congressional seat in Tennessee. He grew up in India, spent a couple years working in Iran in the late 1970s, and has very, very clear ideas about the dangers of Islamism and the deleterious results of applying sharia law. A couple of quotes:

"What so many politicians do not seem to realize is that our struggle is against more than just 'terror.' Terrorism is simply a method, not an end itself. Terrorism is just one tactic being used by Islamic extremists in their effort to force their way of life on the rest of the world. Ultimately, then, this is a struggle over whether the nations of this world will be ruled under Sharia law or not."

"Sharia is a set of laws designed to apply not just to Muslims, but to non-Muslims as well. Everyone, believer and kafir alike, is supposed to live a life based upon Mohammed. However, kafirs - those who do not believe - are given distinctly different treatment than believers."

"In America, we believe that all human beings are created equal, and that all human beings possess certain natural rights; our entire Constitution is just a logical extension of that one idea. To us, Muslims are humans just like everyone else, and therefore they should have the same legal rights as everyone else. Sharia law, on the other hand, is not based on logic or a belief in natural equality. It is based on religious customs, and part of its design is to elevate believers over non-believers."

I'm sure Kumar is running against great odds, but wouldn't it be great to have a voice like this in Congress? (Thanks to Jihad Watch.)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

It's a small world

If you think Afghanistan and Iraq are far away, think again. The fingerprints of hundreds of insurgents, detainees and ordinary people in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa are already in U.S. databases, often in connection with crimes committed in the United States. Apparently many of them came here to study.

The matches have been made due to FBI and military biometric data programs developed since 9/11. While these programs raise concerns about the protection of civil liberties, they also provide undeniable new capabilities for tracking - and stopping - potential terrorists. See here for a discussion of the pros and cons.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Saddam's WMD ambitions

In case you missed this story: American troops, when they invaded Iraq in 2003, found some 550 metric tons of yellowcake uranium - sufficient to produce 142 nuclear weapons. The yellowcake has just been sold to Canada, where a Canadian company will process it into fuel for use in nuclear reactors. See the op-ed in Investor's Business Daily for more details.

Cognoscenti of the 'Bush lied' accusations that began with Ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame, will remember that the CIA sent Wilson to Niger to explore allegations that the Iraqis had sought to obtain yellowcake there. Wilson confirmed that an Iraqi delegation, headed by a nuclear weapons expert, had visited Niger, but found no evidence that the deal had been consumated. (Nor did Bush say that it had.)

Yet Saddam over the years purchased a good deal of yellowcake. According to official USG reports released after the invasion, Saddam never abandoned his ambitions to develop WMD. Rather, he was waiting for a chance to do so, once the international sanctions on Iraq were lifted. Perhaps Bush, rather than lying, was too cautious in his remarks.

Sharia law and UK justice

On July 3, Lord Chief Justice Lord Nicholas Phillips, the most senior judge in the UK, opined in a speech to the London Muslim Centre that Islamic legal principles could be employed to deal with family and marital arguments and to regulate finance. Predictably, an uproar ensued, as happened several months ago when the Archbishop of Canterbury made similar suggestions. For more details, including a link to the text of his speech, see Melanie Phillips' take here.

What does it mean when the most senior religious and legal representatives are so dismissive of the traditions and laws of their country? I guess we're about to find out. The public outcry suggests that many people are outraged, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown rejected these proposals. However, Islamists have considerable influence, including within the government and the ruling Labour Party. My sense is that the tide is still running in their favor.

Iraq and Colombia

What do Iraq and Colombia have in common? Well, both receive tremendous amounts of military aid from the United States, aid that has been very controversial. And the militaries of both countries have recently proven their ability to plan and execute decisive military operations, whether regaining Basra and its oil wells or killing terrorists in Ecuador and freeing hostages in the Colombian jungle. And both governments have done so with the growing support of their citizenry.

In Iraq and Colombia, the U.S. military has helped with training and support but has provided neither the brains behind the operations nor the brawn needed to accomplish them.

Isn't this outcome that our military assistance is supposed to achieve?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The second amendment

Robert Spencer gives here his take on the second amendment and Islamic law. He notes that a key characteristic of dhimmitude (non-Muslims with only subordinate status) under Islamic law is that they are forbidden to carry arms. The existence of this right, he argues, helps ensure that U.S. citizens will be able to protect their other rights from an encroaching state or religion.

Happy Fourth of July!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Round One to Mark Steyn

The Canadian Human Rights Commission dismissed the case brought by the Canadian Islamic Congress against Mark Steyn, author of America Alone. The Congress charged that he had indulged in hatred toward Canadian Muslims in an article, related to his book, published in the Canadian magazine Macleans; the Commission determined that Steyn stayed within the boundaries protected by freedom of speech. Now Steyn is awaiting the decision of a second, similar case brought before the British Columbia Human Rights Commission. More details here.

You may ask what human rights has to do with freedom of speech. Well, these were cases that the courts wouldn't accept. Human Rights Commissions have strayed far from their original mandate by engaging at all on such questions.

Ups and downs of Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician whose short film Fitna (view it here) provoked such controversy a few months ago, has his share of news, both good and bad.

On the good side, the Dutch Ministry of Justice decided on June 30 not to prosecute him for inciting hatred against Muslims. There are rumors that various Dutch organizations, Muslim and non-Muslim, may appeal the decision. Back in April, a Dutch judge dismissed a similar case.

On the bad side, a Jordanian prosecutor has charged him with blasphemy and contempt of Muslims, ordering him to stand trial in Jordan. The Jordanian government may ask for an international arrest warrant through Interpol; the Dutch government could protest that move. Jordan may also ask other nations to arrest Wilders if he is on their soil. Read Jihad Watch for more.

The Jordanians may put a crimp in Wilders travel plans, but not his ambitions. He is planning a sequel to Fitna.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

An attack on Iran?

A recent editorial in the Investors Business Daily makes a strong case for an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities sometime soon. The reasons why? Well, the military exercises Israel just conducted, demonstrating its ability to operate at a range of 900 miles from home; a visit by the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to his Israeli counterparts in which Iran's nuclear program was "a major topic"; and the Iranian threat to unleash an all-out war should Iran be attacked. Then there's the assessment (thanks to MEMRI) by IAEA director-general ElBaradei that Iran can produce enough enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb in 6-12 months. With Obama waffling on how to deal with Iran, the Israelis may decide that their best bet is to move on Bush's watch.

Nor are the Israelis the only ones with reason to be uncomfortable with Obama's views on Iran. As commentator and journalist Amir Taheri notes: "By ignoring the European Union and the United Nations, Obama would encourage the Khomeinist leadership's most radical factions. French President Nicholas Sarkozy worries an Obama administration might 'give the mullahs what they want.'"

Belgium on polygamy

The Constitutional Court of Belgium on June 26 annulled an article of the alien law of 2006 that gave no right of family reunification to children born of a polygamous marriage. Now an alien living in Belgium can request that children from a second marriage, probably living in his home country, can legally immigrate to join him. (See this Islam in Europe entry.)

So is polygamy itself now legal in Belgium? I'm not a lawyer, so I leave that question to others, but I suspect that if it isn't, it soon will be.

Hizb ut Tahrir goes to European Court

The German branch of Hizb ut Tahrir, an international Islamist group whose activities have been banned for five years in Germany, is appealing to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to have the ban overturned. It was charged in 2003 with spreading antisemitic propaganda, more recently with breaching the 'concept of international understanding' in the German constitution - a charge usually used for parties on the right.

Germany is the only EU member state to ban Hizb ut Tahrir, although the UK keeps thinking about doing so as well. Denmark's senior state prosecutor last week said that it should not be banned, as it has not breached the Danish constitution.

At stake here is the concept of whether a 'non-violent' group that calls for a global Islamic caliphate under sharia law is compatible with Western law and values. I hope the Court will probe the conditions required by a global caliphate, in particular the rights to be accorded to non-Muslims, apostates, women and homosexuals - for starters.

See more here (thanks to Islam in Europe).

European justice to be tested

Danish Muslims have tried four times to get Danish courts to rule against the famous cartoons that satirized the prophet Mohammed. In the latest instance, the High Court for western Denmark upheld an earlier ruling, saying among other things that "[i]t is a known fact that acts of terror have been carried out in the name of Islam and it is not illegal to make satire out of this relationship."

What to do? Danish Muslim leader Mohammed Khalid Samha announced that Danish Muslims will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, a court set up by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France. Bilal Assaad, another plaintiff in the case, said "We had hoped that we could put this unfortunate matter behind us and that the High Court would draw the line that establishes the limits of freedom of expression in religious matters."

Let's hope the European Court of Human Rights does just that. Emphatically in favor of complete freedom of expression in religious matters. For more details, see Islam in Europe here.