Friday, February 28, 2014

Keep Your Gays and Keep Your Aid, Uganda Tells the West

Supporters celebrate after Uganda's President Museveni signed
a law imposing harsh penalties for homosexuality in Kampala
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Uganda's ethics minister defends anti-homosexuality law and is indifferent about the withdrawal of Western aid to the country

Uganda is willing to give up all international aid to keep its new anti-homosexuality law and “save gays from damnation”, its ethics minister said as the World Bank followed other donors and froze a £60 million new loan to the country.

“We will not shy away from this, we want to rid this country of homosexuality and if that means these people - Obama, Hague, you name them - want to stop their aid then let them,” Simon Lokodo told The Telegraph.

“We don’t need it, we won’t die poor, and we will at least be able to save these gays from damnation.

“Homosexuality cannot be accommodated in our culture. We have taken that position as a government because this is a democracy and it is what the people want.”

Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s president of 28 years, signed the new Anti-Homosexuality Act into law on Monday, immediately prompting outrage from Western nations. » | Mike Pflanz, Kampala | Friday, February 28, 2014

Inside Story: Uganda Punished Over Anti-gay Law

As the World Bank cuts a loan to Uganda over its new anti-gay law, will this force the government to back down?

Brunei Sultan Hits Back at Rare Criticism over Sharia

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah
YAHOO! NEWS SINGAPORE: Brunei's all-powerful sultan, stung by rare criticism, has ordered social media users to stop attacking his plans to introduce harsh Islamic criminal punishments in the placid oil-rich kingdom.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah -- one of the world's wealthiest men -- announced last October that Brunei would phase in sharia law punishments such as flogging, severing limbs and death by stoning beginning April 1.

The move has sparked a growing outcry on social media, the only outlet for public criticism of authorities in the Muslim country where questioning the 67-year-old sultan is taboo.

In a weekend speech, the sultan issued a clear threat to the critics.

"They cannot be allowed to continue committing these insults, but if there are elements which allow them to be brought to court, then the first phase of implementing the Syariah Penal Code Order in April will be very relevant to them," he said, according to a copy of his speech published by state media. » | AFP | Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Muslim Boys’ School Bans Women from Applying for Job as Science Teacher

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: An Islamic school has advertised for a new science teacher but ruled out female applicants

A Muslim boys’ school is facing claims of segregation after advertising for a temporary science teacher but making clear that women need not apply.

The advert published by the outsourcing company Capita requested a “Male Science Teacher” to cover lessons, including some mathematics classes, until the end of the current academic year on a short term contract for up to £150 a day.

Secular campaigners said the advertisement was just the latest in a series of demands for religious customs and practices to be “accommodated” in the education system as a result of giving faith groups the power to run schools.

It follows a storm over allegations that non-Muslim female staff at the Al-Madinah free school in Derby had been forced to wear headscarves in line with strict Islamic practices.

There have also been concerns that girls at other Islamic schools are being required to wear full veils as well as questions over segregation in classes.

Capita argued that the exclusion of women could be legally justified but the advert was later withdrawn after a warning from the Department for Education over the need to comply with equality law.

The National Secular Society said it had been alerted to the advertisement by a female science teacher who had been looking for work in the Leicester area. » | John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor | Thursday, February 27, 2014

Alice: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life

From Acclaimed Filmmaker, Malcolm Clarke.

"The Lady in Number 6" is one of the most inspirational, uplifting stories of the year. 109 year old, Alice Herz Sommer, the world's oldest pianist and oldest holocaust survivor in the world shares her views on how to live a long and happy life. She discusses the importance of music, laughter and having an optimistic outlook on life.

Watching this film will literally show you how to live longer and happier! Guaranteed Nick Reed Producer

WIKI: Theresienstadt »

Related »

«La criminalisation de l'homosexualité gagne du terrain en Afrique»

LE FIGARO: INTERVIEW - Pour Dorothée Delaunay, d'Amnesty International France, la législation sur le continent élargit de plus en plus le champ des infractions liées à l'homosexualité.

Après la promulgation la veille d'une loi durcissant la répression de l'homosexualité dans le pays, un journal ougandais a publié mardi une liste de 200 personnes qu'il dit être homosexuelles. Une chasse aux sorcières qui atterre les défenseurs des droits LGBT, mais qui n'est pas une exception. Le mois dernier déjà, le Nigeria avait promulgué une loi prévoyant 10 ans d'emprisonnement contre les personnes de même sexe affichant publiquement leur relation. Selon un rapport d'Amnesty International publié en juin 2013, l'homosexualité reste passible des tribunaux dans près de trois quarts des 54 pays africains. Une criminalisation qui a des conséquences graves sur la santé publique, explique Dorothée Delaunay, responsable de la commission Orientation sexuelle et identité de genre pour l'ONG Amnesty International France. » | mercredi 26 février 2014

Merkel für Verbleib Großbritanniens in der EU

DEUTSCHE WELLE: Kanzlerin Merkel betont vor dem britischen Parlament, wie wichtig ihr ein Verbleib Großbritanniens in der EU ist. Für Premierminister Cameron macht das die Lage nicht besser. Er muss sich von Europa distanzieren.

Die Briten haben den roten Teppich ausgerollt und die Bundeskanzlerin am Donnerstag (27.02.2014) mit einer Charme-Offensive begrüßt. Angela Merkel hatte die Ehre, vor beiden Parlamentshäuser in Westminster zu reden, bevor sie am Nachmittag eine Verabredung zum Tee mit Königin Elisabeth hatte. Das alles machte ihren Status als Europas mächtigste Politikerin deutlich. Dennoch dämpfte sie vor ihrer 30-minütigen Rede in der Royal Gallery in London die Erwartungen: "Ich möchte lediglich meine Gedanken über Europa mit Ihnen teilen", sagte sie, wechselte in ihrer Rede immer wieder zwischen Deutsch und Englisch und machte mit Nachdruck deutlich, dass sie Großbritannien unbedingt weiterhin in der EU sehen will.

Premier schon im Wahlkampfmodus

Premierminister David Cameron dürfte eher unzufrieden mit der Rede gewesen sein. Er will Merkel auf seiner Seite haben, wenn die beiden Regierungschefs über europäische Politik diskutieren. Cameron steht unter Druck: Er muss das Versprechen an die britischen Wähler einhalten, EU-Reformen voranzutreiben. Zudem sagte er erneut, er wolle den Briten die Möglichkeit geben, 2017 über die EU-Mitgliedschaft abzustimmen.

Das öffentliche Misstrauen gegenüber der EU im Vereinigten Königreich ist groß und 2015 stehen Wahlen an. Cameron sieht sich den steigenden Umfragewerten der Anti-EU-Partei UKIP gegenüber. Eine Änderung in der EU-Politik, für die sich Cameron stark macht: Die Einschränkung der Rechte von Migranten ärmerer Mitgliederstaaten, die in wohlhabende Länder wie Großbritannien ziehen, um von deren Sozialsystemen zu profitieren. » | Von Kitty Logan | Donnerstag, 27. Februar 2014

Polish MEP Arrested for Shouting 'Heil Hitler' at Airport

Jacek Protasiewicz was detained and handcuffed by police
at Frankfurt airport
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Politican was reportedly drunk when he told customs officer he should 'go to Auschwitz'

A “drunk” Polish MEP was detained and handcuffed by police at Frankfurt airport after allegedly shouting “Heil Hitler” at a customs officer and telling him he "should go to Auschwitz”.

The incident occurred as Jacek Protasiewicz, a politician from Poland’s Civic Platform party, passed through customs control at Germany’s biggest airports, and was reported by the German newspaper Bild as a “Nazi Scandal”.

Eye-witnesses quoted in paper said he appeared “very drunk” and had also snatched a luggage trolley from a fellow passenger before getting into the altercation with customs staff. The MEP, allegedly, called an officer “Hitler” and a “Nazi”, after being stopped in the green customs channel. Police then arrived and the politician was handcuffed and led away. » | Matthew Day, Warsaw | Thursday, February 27, 2014

Syria Crisis: ISIS Imposes Rules on Christians in Raqqa

BBC: A jihadist group in Syria has demanded that Christians in the northern city of Raqqa pay a levy in gold and accept curbs on their faith, or face death.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) said it would give Christian residents "protection" if they agreed to the list of conditions.

The announcement came in a statement posted online.

Correspondents say ISIS is trying to implement an extreme interpretation of Islamic law in areas it controls.

Raqqa, seized by ISIS last year, was the first provincial capital to be completely in the hands of rebels.

'Risking the sword'

The directive from ISIS, citing the Islamic concept of "dhimma", requires Christians in the city to pay tax of around half an ounce (14g) of pure gold in exchange for their safety.

It says Christians must not make renovations to churches, display crosses or other religious symbols outside churches, ring church bells or pray in public.

Christians must not carry arms, and must follow other rules imposed by ISIS (also known as ISIL) on their daily lives.

The statement said the group had met Christian representatives and offered them three choices - they could convert to Islam, accept ISIS' conditions, or reject their control and risk being killed. » | Thursday, February 27, 2014

Germany's Angela Merkel Urges 'Strong' UK in EU

The German Chancellor told political and business leaders there
were "very special expectations of my speech here today"
BBC: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will work with Britain to reform Europe - saying she wants it to remain a "strong voice inside the EU".

In an historic address to both Houses of Parliament, she said Britain and Germany shared the goal of a "strong and competitive" European Union.

"United and determined", they could act as a beacon to the rest of the world.

But she stopped short of committing to specific reforms saying it had to be a "step-by-step" process.

David Cameron is pulling out all the stops during Mrs Merkel's one-day visit because he sees the German leader as crucial to his aims in Europe.

Beginning her address in English, before delivering the main part of her speech in German, she said: "Some expect my speech to pave the way for a fundamental reform of the European architecture which will satisfy all kinds of alleged or actual British wishes. I am afraid they are in for a disappointment.

"Others are expecting the exact opposite and they are hoping that I will deliver the clear and simple message here in London that the rest of Europe is not prepared to pay almost any price to keep Britain in the European Union. I am afraid these hopes will be dashed."

Mrs Merkel hailed the peace and stability she said the European Union had brought, saying war between EU member states was now "inconceivable".

But she stressed that the EU's mission of maintaining peace in Europe was not over as some thought, telling the audience of Britain's political leaders: "We need to stand up resolutely against extremists and the inhumane." (+ BBC video) » | Thursday, February 27, 2014

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Merkels Europa-Rede in London: "Ich fürchte, ich muss Sie enttäuschen" : Wohin steuert die EU? Angela Merkel hat vor beiden Kammern des britischen Parlaments eine Grundsatzrede zur Zukunft Europas gehalten. Die Erwartungen im Vereinigten Königreich waren hoch - vielleicht zu hoch, wie Merkel gleich zu Beginn betonte. » | phw/dpa/Reuters/AFP | Donnerstag, 27. Februar 2014

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

European Union Approves Tough Rules on Electronic Cigarettes

The European Parliament adopted rules requiring electronic
cigarettes to carry health warnings and be childproof.
THE NEW YORK TIMES: The European Parliament on Wednesday approved rules that will for the first time regulate Europe’s fast-growing market for electronic cigarettes.

Beginning in mid-2016, advertising for e-cigarettes is to be banned in the 28 nations of the European Union, as it already is for ordinary tobacco products. E-cigarettes will be required to carry health warnings, and must be childproof. The amount of nicotine will be limited to 20 milligrams per milliliter, similar to ordinary cigarettes. » | David Jolly | Wednesday, February 26, 2014

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Packets of ten cigarettes and menthol flavours banned under new EU rules: EU ministers have voted for a raft of tough new rules on tobacco sales in an effort to reduce the number of smokers by 2.4 million. » | Keith Perry | Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Holocaust Survivor Describes the Music of Terezín Concentration Camp

At the transit concentration camp of Terezín in the former Czechoslovakia, where some great Czech composers and musicians were imprisoned, music was permitted by the Nazis. Zdenka Fantlova, who experienced life in the camp, describes what it was like there and how she, unlike many other inmates, escaped death at Auschwitz

Related »

Qatar's Foreign Domestic Workers Subjected to Slave-like Conditions

THE GUARDIAN: Revelations of mistreatment of maids and cleaners add to picture of widespread labour abuse in World Cup host nation

Foreign maids, cleaners and other domestic workers are being subjected to slave-like labour conditions in Qatar, with many complaining they have been deprived of passports, wages, days off, holidays and freedom to move jobs, a Guardian investigation can reveal.

Hundreds of Filipino maids have fled to their embassy in recent months because conditions are so harsh. Many complain of physical and sexual abuse, harassment, long periods without pay and the confiscation of mobile phones.

The exploitation raises further concerns about labour practices in Qatar in advance of the World Cup, after Guardian reports about the treatment of construction workers. The maids are not directly connected to Qatar's preparations for the football tournament, but domestic workers will play a big role in staffing the hotels, stadiums and other infrastructure that will underpin the 2022 tournament. » | Rebecca Falconer in Doha | Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lee Rigby Murderers Sentenced to Life in Prison

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Michael Adebolajo has been sentenced to a "life means life" prison term for the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby while Michael Adebowale was sentenced to life with a minimum of 45 years

The Islamist killers of Drummer Lee Rigby erupted into violence in an Old Bailey courtroom as they were sentenced for murder.

Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, had to be manhandled out of court by security guards after being told by Mr Justice Sweeney that their crime was a "betrayal of Islam".

Michael Adebowale stood up and shouted: "I swear by Allah that America and Britain will never have any safety. Allah Akbar."

His co-defendant, Michael Adebolajo, also stood up and began shouting before eight dock officers grabbed both killers and wrestled them to the floor.

Relatives of Drummer Rigby, sitting just feet away, stood up and cowered away from the violence.

Adebolajo was manhandled down the stairs in the historic Court No 2 but, in scenes lasting several minutes, his co-defendant was held to the floor and cuffed before being carried downstairs head first.

Drummer Rigby's widow Rebecca was left sobbing uncontrollably at the scenes.

Mr Justice Sweeney resumed his sentencing to give Adebolajo a whole life tariff, meaning he will die in jail.

Adebowale was given life with a minimum term of 45 years. The pair had reacted to the judge's comments that after they became extremists they began "espousing a cause and views which ... are a betrayal of Islam".

Adebowale called out "That's a lie" and "It's not a betrayal of Islam, you don't know what Islam is" as the struggle erupted in the dock. » | David Barrett and Claire Carter | Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Nigeria: Dozens of Students Shot and Burned Alive in Islamist Attack on School

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Most of the victims appeared to be between 15 and 20 years old and all of them were male

Islamic militants have set fire to a locked dormitory at a school in northern Nigeria, then shot and slit the throats of students who tried to escape through windows during a pre-dawn attack Tuesday. At least 58 students were killed, including many who were burned alive.

They "slaughtered them like sheep" with machetes, and gunned down those who ran away, said one teacher, Adamu Garba. » | Wednesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Leaked Tapes Prompt Calls for Turkish PM to Resign

Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses MPs in Ankara.
THE GUARDIAN: Recordings appear to capture Recep Tayyip Erdogan instructing son to dispose of hidden funds amid corruption investigation

Turkish opposition parties called on the prime minister to resign on Tuesday as a result of an explosive corruption scandal in which he was allegedly caught on tape ordering his son to get rid of millions of dollars in incriminating cash.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded in characteristically robust form, dismissing the allegations against him as a plot to bring down his government – the latest in a wave of accusations fuelling widespread popular protest against his 11-year rule.

Recordings of phone-tapped conversations leaked on the internet appear to capture Erdogan instructing his 33-year-old son, Bilal, to dispose of large amounts of hidden funds from their private home in the midst of a corruption investigation. » | Constanze Letsch in Istanbul | Tuesday, February 25, 2014

If Spain Welcomes Back Its Jews, Will Its Muslims Be Next?

The Alhambra in Granada, Andalusia, was built by Moors
beginning around AD 889, who officially stayed in Spain
for several centuries.
THE GUARDIAN: A proposed law will fast-track naturalisation of Jews whose ancestors were expelled 500 years ago. Now the descendants of Muslims who were ousted are also seeking the right to return

Perched dramatically on a rocky mountain, the small city of Toledo overlooks a bend in the Tagus river. Within its maze of cobblestone streets are buildings that once housed mosques, churches and synagogues, hinting at the varied cultures that once called this medieval city home.

Earlier this month, about 50 miles away from Toledo, the Spanish government sought to strengthen its ties with one of these cultures, announcing plans to fast-track the naturalisation of Sephardic Jews, whose ancestors were expelled five centuries ago from Spain.

The bill, said the Spanish government, would "correct a historical wrong". The legislation has yet to be approved by parliament, but already consulates in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem said they have been flooded with requests for information. Up to 3.5 million people around the world are thought to have Sephardic – Hebrew for "Spanish" – Jewish ancestry.

Now the descendants of another group who figured prominently in Spain's colourful past – before also being expelled – say it's only fair that the same right of return be extended to them.

Shortly after banishing the country's Jewish population, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand turned their attention to Spain's Muslims, forcing them to covert to Christianity or face expulsion. The Muslims who converted, known as Moriscos, often did so in name only, holding on tightly to their customs and traditions.

In the early 1600s – nearly 120 years after Jews in Spain were told to leave – the Moriscos were also expelled. An estimated 275,000 people were forcibly resettled, the majority of them heading to Morocco, some to Algeria and Tunisia.

A group representing Moriscos in Morocco recently sent a letter to Spain's King Juan Carlos asking the country to make the same conciliatory gesture to the descendants of Muslims. Speaking from Rabat, the president of L'Association pour la Mémoire des Andalous strongly criticised Spain's double standard in offering to naturalise the descendants of Jews ousted from Spain but not Muslims. The Spanish government "should grant the same rights to all those who were expelled", Najib Loubaris told news agency EFE. "Otherwise the decision is selective, not to mention racist." » | Ashifa Kassam in Madrid | Monday, February 24, 2014

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni Signs Anti-gay Bill

BBC: Uganda's president has signed into law a bill toughening penalties for gay people and criminalising those who do not report them.

At the signing of the law, Yoweri Museveni claimed that "since nature is the main cause of homosexuality, then society can do something about it to discourage the trend".

US President Barack Obama has cautioned the bill would be a backward step. (+ BBC video) » | Monday, February 24, 2014

Eradicating Radicalism: UK Anti-terror Campaign Makes Muslims Scapegoats

The UK government has spent millions of pounds in recent years on the so-called Prevent program that's aimed at stopping Muslims in the country from falling under the influence of radicals. It's supposed to serve as a counter-terrorism strategy but many claim its counter-productive, with some Muslims saying its blatant discrimination by authorities. RT's Laura Smith reports.

Iconic Union Jack Makeover Looms as Scotland Independence Referendum Nears

The union jack has long been an inspiration for artists, fashion and an enduring symbol in pop culture. But with Scotland's independence referendum just months away, there's growing talk about whether the iconic flag will need a makeover. There are already several designs around and RT's Laura Smith went to find out what people in London think about them.

Fewer Places to Light Up for Russian Smokers

Widespread cynicism as law that gradually curtails smoking in public becomes official this weekend.

Monday, February 24, 2014

President Signs the Anti-Homosexuality Bill – State House, Entebbe

Related »

Scottish Independence: Alex Salmond 'Reveals Currency Plan B'

First Minister appears to reveal 'sterlingisation' as his backup plan after saying that Scotland will keep the pound even without a currency union

Read the Telegraph article and comment on it here | Ben Riley-Smith, Scottish Political Correspondent | Monday, February 24, 2014

Uganda President Signs Anti-gay Law

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni has signed off a bill
introducing anti-gay laws.
THE GUARDIAN: Yoweri Museveni defies US warning and signs law toughening already strict legislation against homosexuals

Uganda's president has signed a controversial anti-gay bill that has harsh penalties for homosexual sex, saying the bill is necessary because "arrogant and careless western groups" had tried to "recruit" Ugandan children into homosexuality.

President Yoweri Museveni signed the bill at his official residence in an event witnessed by government officials, journalists and a team of Ugandan scientists. The scientists had produced a report saying there was no genetic basis for homosexuality which Museveni has cited as his reason for backing the bill.

"We Africans never seek to impose our view on others. If only they could let us alone," he said, talking of western pressure not to sign.

Government officials applauded after he signed the bill, which was influenced by the preachings of some conservative American evangelicals. In its original form the bill called for the death penalty for some homosexual acts. That was removed from the legislation following an international outcry.

The new law calls for first-time offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in jail. It also sets life imprisonment as the maximum penalty for a category of offences called "aggravated homosexuality," defined as repeated gay sex between consenting adults as well as acts involving a minor, a disabled person or where one partner is infected with HIV. » | AP in Entebbe | Monday, February 24, 2014

A True Inspiration! Alice Herz-Sommer: Pianist and Oldest Known Holocaust Survivor Dies Aged 110

Alice Herz-Sommer, who has died at the age of 110. She spent
two years in the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
THE GUARDIAN: Concert pianist said that optimism and discipline helped her survive two years in concentration camp

Tributes have been paid to Alice Herz-Sommer, a renowned concert pianist who was believed to have been the world's oldest known Holocaust survivor, after she died in London at the age of 110.

She was born into a German-speaking Jewish family in Prague at a time when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and endured the city's ghetto following the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia. She then spent two years in Theresienstadt (Terezín) concentration camp, where nearly 35,000 prisoners perished.

In an extraordinary life, which was the subject of film nominated for the best short documentary at next Sunday night's Academy Awards, she counted Franz Kafka as a family friend when she was young and carried a devotion to music that sustained her in the camp.

She died in a hospital on Sunday morning after being admitted on Friday, according to her family. Her grandson, Ariel Sommer, said: "Alice Sommer passed away peacefully this morning with her family by her bedside.

"Much has been written about her, but to those of us who knew her best, she was our dear 'Gigi'. She loved us, laughed with us, and cherished music with us.

"She was an inspiration and our world will be significantly poorer without her by our side. We mourn her loss and ask for privacy in this very difficult moment." » | Ben Quinn | Sunday, February 23, 2014

THE GUARDIAN: 'Life is beautiful': A renowned concert pianist and a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps, Alice Herz-Sommer has packed a lot into her 103 years. And despite the tragedy of losing most of her family in the Holocaust, she remains resolutely optimistic, she tells Alan Rusbridger » | Alan Rusbridger | Wednesday, December 13, 2006

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Holocaust survivor dies aged 110: Alice Herz-Sommer, who lived in London and was originally from Prague, was confined in a concentration camp in Germany during the Second World War » | News agencies | Monday, February 24, 2014

DIE WELT: Älteste Holocaust-Überlebende mit 110 gestorben: Während des NS-Regimes wurde Alice Herz-Sommer in Theresienstadt interniert, wo sie für das ganze Lager Klavierkonzerte organisierte. Ihr Talent rettete ihr das Leben. Nun ist die Pianistin gestorben. » | AFP/dpa/KNA/cbo | Montag, 24. Februar 2014

LE FIGARO: La plus vieille survivante de la Shoah est morte » | Par avec l’AFP | lundi 24 février 2014

YNET NEWS: Oldest known Holocaust survivor passes away: Surviving through music and optimism: Alice Herz-Sommer, a pianist forced to play concerts for Nazis and subject of an Oscar nominated short subject documentary, dies at the age 110.‬‬ » | Michal Margalit | Sunday, February 23, 2014

A few precious moments with Alice… More wonderfulness with Alice Herz-Sommer. We had such an overwhelming response to our 1-min video of Alice, the 109-year old Holocaust survivor, who shared her optimistic philosophy of life, that we looked for more footage to share about this wonderful, amazing, wise, strong women.

Here's an interview with Anthony Robbins from a year or so ago -- and it's a little treasure: we can hear Alice talk about her ideas, and philosophy of life; there are archival photos of the Holocaust years, and Alice as a younger woman. We can also see Alice playing piano.

Alice survived the concentration camps through her music, her optimism and her gratitude for the small things that came her way - a smile, a kind word, the sun. When asked about the secret of her longevity, Alice says: "I look where it is good."

This film is life-affirming in its deepest meaning.

Life is short. It's a gift. Remember what's of value.

To cherish life, to be loved. And mostly: To have love in your heart.

Join our community where Everyone Matters! here

Alice Herz-Sommer – The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life – Official Trailer

The Lady in Number 6 is one of the most inspirational stories ever told. 109 year old, Alice Herz-Sommer, the world's oldest pianist and oldest holocaust survivor, shares her views on how to live a long happy life. She discusses the vital importance of music, laughter and having an optimistic outlook on life. This powerfully inspirational video tells her amazing story of survival and how she managed to use her time in a Nazi concentration camp to empower herself and others with music. »

Matteo Renzi's Female Ministers Face 'Sexist' Onslaught Over Dress Sense

Italy's new Prime Minister, 39-year-old Matteo Renzi, is
greeted by a well-wisher as he leaves a church
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: The eight women appointed to Italy's new cabinet have been deluged with criticism over their outfits at the swearing-in ceremony

Eight women appointed as ministers in Italy's new government have faced an avalanche of criticism over their dress sense, with one stylist urging them to give Giorgio Armani a call.

New prime minister Matteo Renzi aimed at boosting equality in Italy at the weekend by naming the women to his 16-strong cabinet, including 33-year-old Marianna Madia, who is eight months pregnant.

But instead of hailing a breakthrough for gender equality the press has been dominated by catcalls revolving around the clothes they wore to the swearing-in ceremony.

In particular the electric blue trouser suit worn by Maria Elena Boschi, 33, the new minister for reform, was described by Corriere della Sera as a colour "unknown in nature".

La Stampa likened the blue of Ms Boschi's suit to that worn by "a Marvel superhero like Captain America", adding that her trousers were so tight that when she bent over to sign in as minister "many were reminded of Pippa Middleton's silhouette." » | Tom Kington, Rome | Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Fireworks Farewell: Sochi Closing Ceremony Ends in Spectacular Show

After two weeks of cheering, intense competition, and record-breaking achievements, the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games finally bid farewell, as athletes and fans gather one last time to admire the sparkling closing ceremony at Fisht Olympic Stadium.

What about the Dark Side of Islam? (2010)

Compare Jesus with Muhammad (2010)

What Do Muslims Believe about Jesus? (2009)

What Will Happen If Islam Keeps Growing? (2009)

Documentary: Secrets of the Koran: Decoding the Past

Desmond Tutu Condemns Uganda's Proposed New Anti-gay Law

In condemning Uganda's proposed new law, Desmond Tutu
again equated discrimination against gay people with the
horrors of Nazi Germany and apartheid-era South Africa.
THE GUARDIAN: Retired archbishop accuses president of breaking promise in reconsidering law extending penalties against homosexuality

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has condemned Uganda's proposed law against homosexuality, saying there is no scientific or moral basis ever for prejudice and discrimination – and accusing the Ugandan president of breaking a promise not to enact the law. The new law would extend the prohibitions and penalties in a country where homosexuality is already a crime, to include acts such as "suggestive touching" in public.

President Yoweri Museveni had first said that he would not sign the legislation, then that he would do so after seeking scientific advice, and at the weekend that he would delay it pending more advice.

The proposed law has drawn harsh criticism from US president Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton. The US warned that such a move could "complicate" approximately £240m in annual aid to Uganda. In a statement Tutu said: "When President Museveni and I spoke last month, he gave his word that he would not let the anti-homosexuality bill become law in Uganda. I was therefore very disheartened to hear last week that President Museveni was reconsidering his position."

Tutu equated discrimination against gay people with the horrors of Nazi Germany and apartheid-era South Africa. » | Maev Kennedy | Sunday, February 23, 2014

Moi, Ibrahim O., globe-trotter du djihad

LE NOUVEL OBSERVATEUR: Pendant trois ans, ce jeune Franco-Malien a fait le tour des points chauds du djihad pour rejoindre les combattants d'Al-Qaida. Incarcéré en France, il poursuit sa guerre sainte.

"Donnez-moi dix ans, je les prendrai avec un grand sourire. La prison, c'est les vacances pour moi." Derrière la vitre blindée du box du tribunal où il est jugé pour "association de malfaiteurs en vue de la préparation d'actes de terrorisme", Ibrahim O. affiche une parfaite sérénité. Une insolente décontraction. "Je ne suis venu que pour faire plaisir à mon avocat", s'amuse le jeune Franco-Malien de 26 ans au faux air de Sammy Davis Jr, fine moustache et regard malicieux.

En ce début février, pendant les dix jours de son procès, Ibrahim O., sourire aux lèvres, avoue tout. Et plus, s'il le pouvait. Oui, il suit "les lois d'Allah, pas celles de la République". Oui, il est bien ce "globe-trotter du djihad" décrit dans le dossier d'instruction, toujours prêt à partir en terre d'islam et, s'il le faut, à combattre la France, "cette terre de mécréance". Oui, il a longtemps tenté de recruter d'autres "frères" pour combattre les infidèles. » | Par Le Nouvel Observateur | dimanche 23 février 2014

Scientology Couple Who Won Supreme Court Challenge Get Married in London

Louisa Hodkin and Alessandro Calcioli got married at the
Scientology chapel in London
BBC: A couple who won a Supreme Court challenge have got married in a Church of Scientology chapel in London.

Louisa Hodkin started the legal action after officials refused to register the Church of Scientology chapel as a place for marriage for her and fiance Alessandro Calcioli.

In December, five Supreme Court judges ruled the church was a "place of meeting for religious worship".

After the wedding, Mr Calcioli said he was "ecstatic" about the occasion.

He added he was "a little bit speechless but just so, so happy that this day has finally come". » | Sunday, February 23, 2014

Should the Burqa Be Banned? BBC Newsnight with Sam Harris (March 2012)

Hague: "There Are Still Many Dangers" Facing Ukraine

BBC: The UK foreign secretary William Hague has told the Andrew Marr Show "there are still many dangers" facing Ukraine and the position of the opposition is "complex".

Speaking on the programme, Mr Hague said it was urgent that the Ukrainian government agree a constitution and improve their economic situation.

The foreign secretary said he was in constant discussion with Russia and warned Russia not to do "anything to undermine" the Ukrainian economic programme. » | Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pope Francis Urges New Cardinals to Avoid Vatican Intrigue and Gossip

Pope Francis holds the book of the gospels aloft.
THE GUARDIAN: Former archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols among 19 new cardinals told to embody holiness with zeal and ardour

Pope Francis has instructed his new "princes of the church" - among them Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster - to avoid "intrigue, gossip, cliques, favouritism and partiality" as they don the Roman Catholic church's prized red biretta.

Speaking in St Peter's basilica a day after he created 19 new cardinals, the Argentinean pontiff strictly exhorted the men to reject the habits of a royal court that have in recent years come to be associated with parts of the Roman curia, or Vatican bureaucracy.

Looking up from his notes to address the massed ranks of cardinals, he told them: "A cardinal – I say this especially to you – enters the church of Rome, my brothers, not a [royal] court. May all of us avoid, and help others to avoid, habits and ways of acting typical of a court: intrigue, gossip, cliques, favouritism and partiality." » | Lizzy Davies in Rome | Sunday, February 23, 2014

Daily Mail Hateful Article Angers UK Muslims

ON ISLAM: CAIRO – Leading British Muslim and interfaith organizations have signed a letter of complaint to Daily Mail’s editor Paul Dacre, condemning an article that deployed hateful Muslim stereotypes and used slurs commonly found in racist and far-right websites.

“We write to express our condemnation of a recent article published by Richard Littlejohn in your newspaper. Entitled “Jolly Jihadi’s Outing to Legoland”, Mr Littlejohn deploys the most hateful stereotypes of Muslims to attack an individual,” the letter, signed by some 25 Islamic and interfaith organizations and published by Muslim Council of Britain website, reads.

“Our condemnation is not about the attacks on Mr Haitham al-Haddad: he is perfectly capable of responding to the accusations put to him if minded to do so.

“Many of us may well disagree with the views attributed to him. Rather, we are speaking out at the insidious and hateful tropes Mr Littlejohn uses for his argument,” it added.

Muslims’ anger followed the publication of an article by columnist Richard Littlejohn.

The column, headlined Jolly jihadi boys' outing to Legoland, "deployed hateful Muslim stereotypes" and "used slurs commonly found in racist and far-right websites."

Entitled “Jolly Jihadi’s Outing to Legoland”, the article satirizes a community event that is to be held at the theme park, organized through a private group booking. » | OnIslam Staff | Sunday, February 23, 2014

ON ISLAM: Far-Rightists Threaten UK Muslims Fun Day » | OnIslam & Newspapers | Sunday, February 16, 2014

Electric Chair Haunts US Former Executions Chief

Dr. Allen Ault tells HARDtalk why he is still haunted by the executions
BBC: Most guests come into the HARDtalk studio with their guard up, their defences prepared. Dr Allen Ault simply faced the cameras and bared his soul.

His account of supervising executions in the US state of Georgia was one of the most painful, searingly honest and courageous testimonies I have ever heard.

Dr Ault is a soft-spoken Midwesterner with steel-grey hair and a steady gaze.

As he spoke about his years as corrections commissioner for the US state of Georgia, he appeared to forget the artifice of the TV studio and relive his experiences in the execution chamber.

"I still have nightmares," he told me.

"It's the most premeditated form of murder you can possibly imagine and it stays in your psyche for ever." » | Stephen Sackur | HARDtalk | Sunday, February 23, 2014

Homophobie in Afrika

«Mama, ich bin homosexuell», verkündete einer der prominentesten Autoren Afrikas, der Kenyaner Binya-vanga Wai-naina in einer Kurzgeschichte im Internet. Das ist mutig. Sehr sogar. In Kenya stehen auf homosexuelle Akte bis zu zehn Jahre Gefängnis. Afrikakorrespondent Patrik Wülser hat mit ihm gesprochen.

Doctor Dilemma: Physicians Switching to Higher-paying Jobs

Changing health care market forcing doctors to give up private practices

Women of Iran Defy Mullahs by Embracing Western Fashions

Women who flaunt fashion run the risk of being publicly
reprimanded by the so-called "morality police."
FOX NEWS: The regime in Tehran is increasingly feeling the pressure, but not from sanctions or the threat of a military strike.

It’s a vibrant and growing fashion scene, one that enables Iranians to defy the strict religious leaders who have ruled the nation with an iron fist since the 1979 revolution.

Many young Iranians have become emboldened in how they walk the streets, showing an affinity for Western clothing, jewelry, makeup and hairstyles. But it is more than just a fashion statement, say Iranians. It's a political statement.

“Violating the dress code is another way young Iranians can express political dissent,” said journalist and political activist Mansoureh Nasserchian.

Since the 2009 uprisings, when Iranians flooded the streets of Iran protesting the corruption of their government in the aftermath of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s contested re-election, the world was introduced to a new brand of Iranians influenced by social media and Western styles and ideologies, according to Nasserchian, who fled the country for Canada shortly after the uprisings.

“When the young people filled the streets, not caring how they dressed or if they had hair covering, things really changed in Iran,” Nasserchian said. “Social media gave the courage to the new generation to break taboos and be open about political and social issues.” » | Lisa Daftari | Fox News contributor specializing in Middle Eastern affairs | Sunday, February 23, 2014

HSBC to Announce Bonuses Totalling £2.4 Billion

LONDON EVENING STANDARD: HSBC will announce staff bonuses totalling just under £2.4 billion globally for 2013 and is expected to report a significant rise in pretax profit, according to reports.

Europe's biggest bank is expected on Monday to announce the size of its bonus pool, a sensitive issue as many Britons still blame banks for the 2008 financial crisis after which the state was forced to bail out RBS and Lloyds.

Earlier this month Barclays prompted an angry reaction from politicians and labour unions after it increased its bonuses by 13 per cent to £2.4 billion even as it announced plans to axe 12,000 jobs. » | Agency | Saturday, February 22, 2014

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Umfrage: Gehört der Islam zu Deutschland?

Eine Umfrage in München zum Thema: Gehört der Islam zu Deutschland?

Sensation! Pope Tawadros and Saudi Ambassador Agree to Open Saudi Arabia’s First Church

Pope Tawadros II
MIDEAST CHRISTIAN NEWS: A reliable source has told MCN that Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of Saint Mark's Episcopate, has reached an agreement with the Saudi ambassador in Cairo, Ahmed Kattan, to establish the first church ever built inside Saudi Arabia. » | Irin Moussa | MCN | Cairo | Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Saudis erlaubten Gottesdienst für Christen

DIE PRESSE: Riad ließ erstmals orthodoxe Christen feiern. Der koptisch-orthodoxe Papst-Patriach Tawadros II. bestätigte dem evangelischen Berliner Bischof Dröge, dass die christliche Feier auf saudischem Boden durchgeführt wurde.

Riad/Wien. Der Bau von Kirchen ist genauso verboten wie das Tragen von Kreuzen: In Saudiarabien kann jede öffentliche Glaubensbekundung von Nichtmuslimen bestraft werden. Es ist daher eine kleine Sensation, dass nun erstmals ein christlich-orthodoxer Gottesdienst in der ultrakonservativen Golfmonarchie stattfinden durfte. Der koptisch-orthodoxe Papst-Patriach Tawadros II. bestätigte dem evangelischen Berliner Bischof Markus Dröge während dessen Ägypten-Besuch, dass die christliche Feier auf saudischem Boden tatsächlich durchgeführt wurde. „Das ist ein erfreuliches Ereignis und ein erstes Zeichen wachsender religiöser Toleranz“, erklärte Dröge gegenüber der „Presse“. » | Doe Presse | Freitag, 21. Februar 2014

USA ändern Medienregeln für Jagd auf Whistleblower

DIE WELT: Bei der Jagd auf Whistleblower greifen Justizermittler heimlich auf Daten von Journalisten zu. Nach einem Aufschrei der Empörung verkündet ihr Chef Eric Holder nun neue Regeln im Umgang mit Medien.

Das US-Justizministerium will sich bei Ermittlungen gegen Whistleblower strengere Regeln im Umgang mit Medien auferlegen. In den meisten Fällen werde der Staat betroffene Presseunternehmen künftig vorab informieren, bevor Daten aus investigativen Recherchen angefordert würden, teilte die Behörde am Freitag mit. » | AP/cbo | Samstag, 22. Februar 2014

Focus on Religious Right Hides Dwindling Number of US Churchgoers

This image released by 20th Century Fox shows Diogo
Morgado in a scene from 'Son of God'
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: As research suggests just 25 per cent of Americans now attend church weekly, Republicans must cater for increasingly secular mainstream without alienating evangelical base

This week millions of the religious faithful in America are to be shepherded into the nation's cinemas in order to watch 'Son of God', a conventional Hollywood biopic of Jesus Christ that premieres on Thursday.

Coming after last year's HBO mini-series 'The Bible', which garnered 95 million viewers, it would seem a fair bet that this film is pretty much guaranteed to be another hit.

One Texas congregation alone has bought 9,000 tickets. But such displays of mega-church muscle only serve to conceal how far and how fast the ground has shifted under America's Religious Right over the last decade or so.

It's not that America has suddenly abandoned its faith, but more that a large chunk of previously nominal Christians - the Christmas and wedding-only types - have become much happier to declare themselves in the religious camp marked 'don't really care'. » | Peter Foster in Washington | Saturday, February 22, 2014

Related »

Auch ohne Volksabstimmung: Island will nicht mehr in die EU

FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG: Die Regierung in Reykjavik will Islands Kandidatur wieder zurückziehen. Ein ursprünglich vorgesehenes Referendum dazu soll es nicht geben. Die EU-Ablehnung hängt nicht nur am Euro.

Islands Regierung will auf den ursprünglich geplanten EU-Beitritt des Inselstaats verzichten, ohne das Volk zuvor nach seiner Meinung zu fragen. Die regierende Fortschrittspartei und ihre ebenfalls euroskeptischen Koalitionspartner der Unabhängigkeitspartei einigten sich am Freitag auf ein Gesetzesvorhaben, mit dem die 2010 eingereichte Kandidatur auf einen Beitritt zur Europäischen Union wieder zurückgezogen werden soll. Außenminister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson erklärte im öffentlichen Rundfunk, er werde die Umsetzung des Kurswechsels persönlich vorantreiben. » | Quelle: AFP | Freitag, 21. Februar 2014

Ukraine : Ioulia Timochenko libérée

Ioulia Timochenko

LE POINT: L'ex-opposante a été libérée samedi après-midi. Elle est en route pour le centre de Kiev, où elle devrait arriver dans la soirée.

Le symbole est de taille. Ioulia Timochenko a été libérée samedi après-midi, quelques heures à peine après un vote du Parlement ukrainien. Ce vote intervient alors que plusieurs proches de l'opposante occupent désormais des postes-clés.

Ioulia Timochenko est en route vers le Maïdan, haut lieu de la contestation dans le centre de Kiev. Dans une voiture, Mme Timochenko, coiffée de sa tresse emblématique, a fait un signe de la main aux journalistes et à ses partisans qui l'attendaient devant l'hôpital carcéral où elle était soignée pour hernies discales à Kharkiv (est). Elle va prendre un avion et se rendre à Kiev sur le Maïdan, a indiqué son allié Arseni Iatseniouk. » | Source AFP | samedi 22 février 2014

Plan to Split California into Six States Gains Ground

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: The proposal would create a state out of Silicon Valley, home to tech giants Google, Facebook and Apple

A plan to divide California into six separate US states is closer to making it on to a November ballot, with organisers gaining approval to collect signatures.

The seemingly far-fetched initiative, sponsored by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper, claims "political representation of California's diverse population and economies has rendered the state nearly ungovernable."

And on Tuesday, the California Secretary of State's office gave the movement a boost, saying that proponents "may begin collecting petition signatures."

At least 807,615 voters will need to sign the petition by July 18 to make it onto the ballot. » | AFP | Friday, February 21, 2014

Mehdi Hasan – Non-Muslims Live Like Animals

"We know that keeping the moral high-ground is key. Once we lose the moral high-ground we are no different from the rest, of the non-Muslims; from the rest of those human beings who live their lives as animals, bending any rule to fulfil any desire."

"Ayatollah Khameinei has issued a fatwa saying the stockpiling, the production, the use of nuclear weapons us forbidden under Islam. Spot on. Islamic Republic of Iran. The fatwa of the Supreme Leader."

HT: Roger Murray Clark »

Head to Head: Do Arab Men Hate Women?

With one question, journalist Mona Eltahawy unleashed a harsh critique of women's rights in the Arab world.

Men Banned from Becoming Queen as 700 Years of Law Redrafted ahead of Gay Marriage

Men banned from becoming Queen as 700 years of law
redrafted ahead of gay marriage
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Words such as “widow” removed from statutes while medieval treason laws and even rules on royal titles amended ahead of gay marriage

Men are to be banned from becoming Queen or Princess of Wales as part of an unprecedented effort to rewrite more than 700 years of law to prevent unintended consequences of gay marriage.

Even a 14th Century act declaring it high treason to have an affair with the monarch’s husband or wife is included in the sweeping redrafting exercise.

Civil servants have drawn up a list of scores of statutes and regulations dating back as far 1285 to be amended or specifically excluded when the Government’s Same-Sex Marriage Act comes into force next month.

Under proposals to be debated by MPs and Peers as early as next week, terms such as “widow” will be deleted or reworded in legislation covering topics as diverse as seamen’s pensions and London cab licences to take account of the new definition of marriage.

References to mothers, fathers, husbands and wives are also to be amended to avoid future confusion. » | John Bingham, Social Affairs Editor | Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014

Familientreffen: Nordkoreaner wollten Süd-Verwandte indoktrinieren

Für viele der 82 südkoreanischen Teilnehmer ist das Treffen
in Nordkorea die wohl letzte Möglichkeit, ihre Verwandten zu sehen
DIE WELT: Erstmals seit drei Jahren durften sich Südkoreaner privat mit nordkoreanischen Verwandten treffen. Einige von diesen sollen aber versucht haben, ihre Familienmitglieder ideologisch zu beeinflussen.

Beim ersten Familientreffen zwischen Nord- und Südkoreanern nach mehr als drei Jahren haben sich die Teilnehmer am Freitag privat sehen können; am Tag zuvor hatte es bereits ein solches Treffen unter Anwesenheit von Fernsehteams gegeben. Nach den Privattreffen im nordkoreanischen Feriengebiet Kumgang beklagten sich allerdings mehrere Südkoreaner. Grund: Ihre nordkoreanischen Angehörigen hätten versucht, sie zu "indoktrinieren".

So erzählte der 81-jährige Kim Dong-bin aus Südkorea, seine beiden im Norden lebenden Schwestern hätten viel Zeit darauf verwendet, die andauernde Präsenz von US-Truppen im Süden zu verurteilen. Sie hätten ausgeführt, dass es eine Wiedervereinigung der beiden koreanischen Staaten nur bei einem Abzug der amerikanischen Soldaten geben könne. » | AFP/dpa/jw | Freitag, 21. Februar 2014

Dalaï-lama aux USA: Obama exprime son soutien aux Tibétains

TRIBUNE DE GENÈVE: Barack Obama a reçu vendredi le dalaï lama, malgré la colère de la Chine. Il a à nouveau exprimé vendredi son «soutien» à la protection des droits de l'homme au Tibet.

Le président américain Barack Obama a reçu vendredi le dalaï lama et dit soutenir les droits de l'homme au Tibet, ignorant la colère de la Chine qui avait exigé l'annulation de cette rencontre à la Maison Blanche.

«Le président a réitéré son soutien appuyé à la préservation des traditions religieuses, culturelles et linguistiques du Tibet et à la protection des droits de l'homme pour les Tibétains au sein de la République populaire de Chine», a indiqué l'exécutif américain dans un compte-rendu de la réunion.

Pas considéré comme un dirigeant politique

Plus tôt, la Maison Blanche avait souligné que le dalaï lama avait été reçu «en tant que leader religieux et culturel respecté internationalement», sous-entendant qu'il n'était pas convié en qualité de dirigeant politique.

En outre, dans le but apparent d'atténuer la colère de Pékin, la présidence avait organisé la réception du dalaï lama dans la salle des cartes de la Maison Blanche et non le prestigieux Bureau ovale, réservé aux chefs d'Etat et de gouvernement étrangers. Continuez à lire et ajouter un commentaire » | afp/Newsnet | vendredi 21 février 2014

L'homophobie devrait être poursuivie comme le racisme

TRIBUNE DE GENÈVE: Par 14 voix contre 10, la commission des affaires juridiques du National souhaite étendre la norme pénale antiraciste à la discrimination basée sur l'orientation sexuelle

L'homophobie devrait être combattue en Suisse au même titre que le racisme. C'est en tout cas l'avis de la commission des affaires juridiques du National.

Selon Mathias Reynard (PS/VS), l'auteur de cette initiative parlementaire, un vide juridique existe dans la répression des incitations à la haine basées sur l'orientation sexuelle des individus. La législation ne permet pas de s'attaquer aux propos homophobes exprimés en termes généraux. » | ats/Newsnet | vendredi 21 février 2014

Chess in a Minefield: The Global Implications of the Ukraine Conflict

Smoke rising on Independence Square in Kiev on Thursday.
SPIEGEL ONLINE INTERNATIONAL: The bloody conflict in Ukraine could trigger yet another confrontation between the West and Russia. Dominance in Europe is at stake on the geopolitical chess board. While Ukraine itself could descend into civil war.

The quote printed in SPIEGEL 33 years ago was a noteworthy one, and still sounds remarkably topical: "We have to ensure that this Soviet empire, when it breaks apart due to its internal contradictions, does so with a whimper rather than a bang." The sentence was spoken by US Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger during an interview conducted in September of 1981.

This week in Ukraine, one of the core regions of that former empire, it is looking very much like a "bang." Thursday in Kiev has seen bloody violence that has cost the lives of dozens amid gunfire and brutal clashes on Independence Square. Hundreds have been wounded, many seriously. The violence comes on the heels of similar battles on Tuesday -- and mark the beginning of what could become an extended and dramatic conflict over the country's future. » | Uwe Klussmann | Thursday, February 20, 2014

What’s Next for Venezuela’s Opposition?

CNN: Venezuela tells CNN journalists to ;get out’ » | CNN Staff | Friday, February 21, 2014

The Changing Face of Britain! My Story, My Journey, My Islam – Yusuf Liam (September 2013)

Faith Change: Islam Rapidly Grows as Christianity Declines in UK

Christianity's central place in British culture could be increasingly under threat, with church attendance numbers in severe decline. Meanwhile, the nation's second largest religion, Islam, is growing faster than ever; with some studies suggesting it could eventually become the dominant faith. RT's Polly Boiko has the story.

Muslims Demand "Right of Return" to Spain

GATESTONE INSTITUTE: Observers say that by granting citizenship to all descendants of expelled Muslims, Spain, virtually overnight, would end up with the largest Muslim population in the European Union.

"Is Spain aware of what might be assumed when it makes peace with some but not with others? Is Spain aware of what this decision [not to include Muslims in the return] could cost?... Does Spain have alternatives to the foreign investment from Muslims?" — Ahmed Bensalh, Morisco-Moroccan journalist.

"Persecution of Jews was just that, while what happened with the Arabs was part of a conflict. There is no basis for comparison." — Jose Ribeiro e Castro, Portuguese lawmaker who drafted Portuguese law of return.

Muslim groups are demanding Spanish citizenship for potentially millions of descendants of Muslims who were expelled from Spain during the Middle Ages.

The growing clamor for "historical justice" comes after the recent approval of a law that would grant Spanish citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain in 1492.

Muslim supporters say they are entitled to the same rights and privileges as Jews because both groups were expelled from Spain under similar historical circumstances.

But historians point out that the Jewish presence in Spain predates the arrival of Christianity in the country and that their expulsion was a matter of bigotry. By contrast, the Muslims in Spain were colonial occupiers who called the territory Al-Andalus and imposed Arabic as the official language. Historians say their expulsion was a matter of decolonization.

In any event, the descendants of Muslims expelled from Spain are believed to number in the millions—possibly tens of millions—and most of them now live in North Africa. Observers say that by granting citizenship to all of them, Spain, virtually overnight, would end up with the largest Muslim population in the European Union.

Much of the Iberian Peninsula was occupied by Muslim conquerors known as the Moors from 711 until 1492, when the Moorish Kingdom of Granada surrendered to the Catholic Monarchs of Spain (Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon), in what is known as the Christian Reconquest.

But the final Muslim expulsion from Granada did not take place until over a century later, beginning in 1609, when King Philip III decreed the expulsion of the Moriscos.

The Moriscos—Moors who decided to convert to Catholicism after the Reconquest rather than leave Spain—were suspected of being nominal Catholics who continued to practice Islam in secret. From 1609 through 1614, the Spanish monarchy forced an estimated 350,000 Moriscos to leave Spain for Muslim North Africa.

Today, up to five million descendants of the Moriscos are living in Morocco alone; there are millions more living in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Tunisia and Turkey. Read on and comment » | Soeren Kern | Friday, February 21, 2014

Inside Story: Journalism On Trial in Egypt

Al Jazeera case strikes at the heart of press freedom.

UK Journalists Call for Free Press in Egypt

Demonstrators in London demand better treatment of press in the country where an Al Jazeera team is being detained.

Arizona Legislature Sends ‘Anti-gay’ Bill to Republican Governor Jan Brewer

It is unclear if Arizona governor Jan Brewer will sign into law
a bill allowing businesses and others to deny service to gays.
THE GUARDIAN: Bill would allow businesses, churches and individuals to cite religion as reason for denying service to gay people

The Arizona legislature gave final approval to legislation that allows business owners asserting their religious beliefs to refuse service to gays, drawing backlash from Democrats who called the proposal “state-sanctioned discrimination” and an embarrassment.

The 33-27 vote by the House Thursday evening sends the legislation to Republican Governor Jan Brewer and puts Arizona back at the forefront of a polarizing piece of legislation four years after the state enacted an immigration crackdown that caused a national furor.

Similar religious protection legislation has been introduced in Ohio, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma, but Arizona’s plan is the only one that has passed. The efforts are stalled in Idaho, Ohio and Kansas.

Republicans stressed that the bill is about protecting religious freedom and not discrimination. They frequently cited the case of a New Mexico photographer who was sued after refusing to take wedding pictures of a gay couple and said Arizona needs a law to protect people in the state from heavy-handed actions by courts and law enforcement. » | Associated Press in Phoenix | Friday, February 21, 2014

THE GUARDIAN: Kansas Republican leaders get cold feet over 'anti-gay' bill: Bill approved by Kansas house would give religious individuals and groups the right to deny services to same-sex couples » | Ed Pilkington in New York | Friday, February 14, 2014