Sunday, May 31, 2015

Our Leaders Keep Telling Us That Islam is Loving and Peaceful, But This Film Will Show You What the Cowardly Politicians––the Creeps––Won’t Tell You

Why I Left Islam & Goodbye

Sharia4Australia: Muslim Cleric Says "Democracy is the Devil's Law"

Islam Center Stage as Turkish Election Campaign Enters Final Week

REUTERS.COM: Evoking the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople and vowing the Muslim call to prayer would forever ring out, President Tayyip Erdogan put religion center stage on Saturday as campaigning for Turkey's parliamentary election entered its final week.

Persuading religious conservatives, including pious Kurds and nationalists, to back the Islamist-rooted AK Party will be key in an election Erdogan hopes will bring him stronger presidential powers that opponents see as a threat to democracy.

Turkey's most dominant politician for more than a decade and founder of the AK Party, Erdogan draws much of his support from the pious masses. His rhetoric often plays on a tension reaching back to the 1920s when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk forged a secular republic from the ruins of an Ottoman theocracy.

"We will not give way to those who speak out against our call to prayer," he said in a speech in Istanbul to mark the anniversary of the 1453 Islamic conquest that turned the capital of the Byzantine Empire into the seat of Ottoman power.

"We will not give space to those who want to extinguish the fire of conquest burning in the heart of Istanbul for 562 years," he told a sea of supporters waving the red Turkish flag, most of the women covered in the Islamic headscarf and some of the men wearing headbands bearing Erdogan's name.

An AK Party video released to commemorate the conquest culminated with the Muslim call to prayer being recited from a minaret of the Hagia Sophia, Christendom's greatest cathedral for 900 years until the Ottomans turned it into a mosque.

Ataturk, who banished Islam from state affairs and promoted Western dress and women's rights, decreed it a museum in 1934. But a burgeoning sense of Islamic identity that Erdogan has encouraged has revived interest in praying there. » | Daren Butler and Humeyra Pamuk | Istanbul | Saturday, May 30, 2015

C of E Crisis as It Loses 1.7m Followers - and Islam Gains 900,000: Former Archbishop Lord Carey warns: 'Church Is a Generation from Extinction'

MAIL ON SUNDAY: Lord Carey called for urgent action to reverse slump in followers / Britons identifying themselves as C of E or Anglican dropped to 17 per cent / Current Archbishop Justin Welby has also said decline needs tackling / Government statistician says figures are 'very serious' for Church

The Church of England has suffered a dramatic slump in its followers, shocking new figures show.

Between 2012 and 2014, the proportion of Britons identifying themselves as C of E or Anglican dropped from 21 per cent to 17 per cent – a fall of about 1.7 million people.

Over the same period, the number of Muslims in Britain grew by nearly one million, according to a survey by the respected NatCen Social Research Institute.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey warned last night that unless urgent action was taken, the Church was just ‘one generation away from extinction’.

The number of Anglicans in Britain has dropped from about 10.3 million to 8.6 million, and will raise fresh fears over the future of the Church of England, which has been in decline since the 1960s.

Lord Carey, who has warned before about dwindling congregations, said: ‘These figures are a call to urgent mission. I have no doubt at all that the Archbishops, together with the whole leadership of the Church of England, are doing all they can to reverse this trend.’

The current Archbishop, Justin Welby, has also called for the decline to be tackled and is introducing measures to streamline the Church and strengthen its leadership. Read on and comment » | Sanchez Manning and Jonathan Petre for ‘Mail On Sunday’ | Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sydney Same-sex Marriage Rally: Tony Abbott's Sister Christine Forster among Speakers at Demonstration

THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY: A bill on the issue in being introduced on Monday in Australia

More than a thousand people took to the streets of Sydney on Sunday to rally in favour of equal marriage in Australia.

Christine Forster, Liberal Party politician and the gay sister of the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, was among the speakers at the demonstration.

It came days after Mr Abbott seemingly bowed to pressure by hinting that he would allow his MPs a free vote on a same-sex marriage bill which will be introduced in federal parliament on Monday.

Although Ms Forster is engaged to a woman, the Prime Minister has been a long standing opponent of gay marriage, and rejected calls for a referendum after Ireland's public vote earlier this month reignited debate on the issue in Australia. » | David Hughes | Sunday, May 31, 2015

USA: Anti-Islam Rally Targets Arizona Mosque

Tony Blair 'in £330,000 Demand for Hunger Talk'

SUNDAY EXPRESS: A SPEECH by Tony Blair at a world hunger conference was dropped after the former Prime Minister allegedly demanded a massive £330,000 fee, it has emerged.

Mr Blair was asked to speak at the Eat food forum in Stockholm, Sweden, which starts tomorrow.

The event, which last year featured a talk by former American president Bill Clinton, claims to be a forum where 'science politics and business can share insight and ideas to achieve our common goal of sustainably feeding a healthy world population.

Kruger Cowne talent agency, which represents Mr Blair, asked for a £250,000 fee plus £80,000 expenses for a twenty minute speech, according to the Sunday Times.

Mr Clinton got a total of £327,000 for his half-hour talk last year. Eat offered Mr Blair, who stepped down from his role as Middle East peace envoy last week, £215,000, but after months of talks, an agreement was not reached.

A source said: "Blair is just not Clinton, and even his star peer is fast diminishing.

"So for his talent reps to think Eat was going to pay massive bucks for him shows they overestimated his worth." » | Peter Henn | Sunday, May 31, 2015

'We're Coming to Get YOU' UK Special Forces Launch Cyber WAR against ISIS Networks

SUNDAY EXPRESS: BRITISH Special Forces are mounting cyber attacks on Islamic State communications networks, warning its commanders: “We’re coming to get you”.

The news emerges as Whitehall prepares to send 50 additional SAS and SBS troops to join the fight against the terror group in Iraq.

Another 120 Special Forces support troops are also being considered.

They are to help Peshmerga, the military forces of Iraqi Kurdistan, advance further into Syria. Kurdish forces have already established coalition enclaves just hours from Raqqa, the headquarters of IS.

The idea of expanding Britain’s training mission outside of Kurdistan was discussed at a National Security Council meeting chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday.

General Mike Jackson yesterday echoed calls from General Richard Dannatt, his successor as Chief of the General Staff, that Britain should go further and consider putting regular troops into Syria.

Speaking to the Sunday Express, General Jackson said: “How long is Britain and the West prepared to stand back and allow IS to carry on? » | Marco Giannangeli | Sunday, May 31, 2015

Austrians Fear Smoking Ban Threat to Café Culture

BBC AMERICA: After years of debate, Austria's government has announced plans to introduce a total smoking ban in cafes and restaurants by 2018.

Anti-smoking groups say that is too long to wait, but there have been protests by some restaurant owners, who say their business will suffer.

Austrians like order, or "Ordnung" as they say in German. It is hugely frowned upon for a pedestrian to cross the road on a red light. And the streets and underground network of Vienna are kept remarkably clean.

But smoky air in cafes and restaurants has been widely tolerated for years.

Cafe culture

"Smoking is a sort of culture, especially in Austria," Margit Schwed told me as she sat in Cafe Ritter in Vienna, with its gilt chandeliers and marble table tops.

"In the typical Vienna Kaffeehaus you take your coffee and your cigarette. I think people like the flair in the coffee houses."

Austria has one of the highest rates of smoking in Europe, particularly among young people: 33% of Austrians smoke regularly, according to a 2012 Eurobarometer study. Only Greeks, Bulgarians and Latvians smoke more. (+ BBC video) » | Bethany Bell, BBC News, Vienna | Sunday, May 31, 2015

Contre Daech, l'Iran lance un concours de caricatures

leJDD: La Maison iranienne de la bande dessinée de Téhéran a appelé les dessinateurs du monde entier à caricaturer Daech. Un concours qui n'épargne pas non plus les Etats-Unis et Israël.

Des dessins contre l'Etat islamique. L'Iran a lancé un concours de caricatures ayant pour sujet l'organisation terroriste. La République chiite appelle ainsi les dessinateurs du monde entier à apporter leur contribution à l'"International Daesh Cartoon & Caricature Contest 2015", pour moquer les djihadistes sunnites. Cité par la chaîne de télévision iranienne Press TV, l'organisateur, membre de la Maison iranienne de la bande dessinée de Téhéran, a ainsi déclaré vouloir "révéler la vraie nature de Daech", qui veut "essayer de s'approprier l'islam mais n'a aucune idée de ce qu'est l'islam". » | A.F. -, samedi 30 mai 2015

Beau Biden, Son of Vice President and Former Delaware AG, Dies at 46

Vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden walks with his son,
Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, at the Democratic
National Convention at the Pepsi Center in Denver,
Colorado on August 27, 2008. 
CNN: Washington (CNN) – Joseph "Beau" Biden III, an Iraq war veteran who served as the attorney general of Delaware and was a son of Vice President Joe Biden, has died at the age 46, the White House said in a statement Saturday night.

He had battled brain cancer.

Beau Biden had been receiving treatment at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, according to a statement released Tuesday by the vice president's office. He had suffered known health problems dating back to 2010, when he experienced a stroke that did not affect his motor skills or speech.

In 2013, Beau Biden was treated at a hospital in Houston that specializes in cancer care after he became disoriented and weak while on vacation. He later underwent surgery to have a brain lesion removed. » | Kevin Liptak, CNN White House Producer | Saturday, May 30, 2015

BBC AMERICA: Joe Biden's son Beau dies of brain cancer, aged 46: Former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, the son of US Vice-President Joe Biden, has died of brain cancer. » | Sunday, May 31, 2015

Minnesota Muslims Brutally Honest: ‘We Want Shariah’

WND: Street interviews capture on video anti-American, anti-1st Amendment views

The Cedar Riverside section of Minneapolis is home to the University of Minnesota, some tasty ethnic foods and brutally cold winters. It’s also a known hotbed of Islamic terror recruitment.

Al-Shabab, the Islamist group based in Somalia, has had a field day there over the past six or seven years.

Dozens of young Muslims have left the streets of Cedar Riverside, referred to by some Minnesotans as “Little Mogadishu” for its high concentration of Somali refugees, to travel abroad and fight for terrorist groups. Some have joined Somalia’s notorious al-Shabab, which slaughtered 147 Christians at a university in Kenya last month, while others have opted for ISIS in Syria. Their goal is the same – to join their brothers in the fight to establish a Shariah-compliant utopia known as a caliphate.

But one would expect those who walk the streets of this quiet neighborhood to be a bit less fanatical in their views, right? » | Leo Hohmann | Friday, May 29, 2015

Syrian Christian Fighter 'Beheads ISIS Militant to Avenge Those Killed by Terror Group'

DAILY EXPRESS: A SYRIAN Christian fighter has reportedly beheaded an Islamic State (ISIS) militant "in revenge" for the atrocities and murders committed by the terror group.

The jihadist was executed in the north-east Hasakeh province after being taken prisoner in a local village on Thursday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

He was reportedly killed to avenge the attacks perpetrated by bloodthirsty ISIS members in recent months, including beatings, beheadings and burning their captives alive.

The Christian who beheaded the militant was allegedly fighting for Kurdish forces who have been battling against ISIS in recent months.

Observatory Chief Rami Abdel Rahman said: "He took him prisoner and when he found out he was a member of ISIS, the Assyrian fighter beheaded him in revenge for abuses committed by the group in the region." » | Levi Winchester | Saturday, May 30, 2015

European Union Anger at Russian Travel Blacklist

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the ban was "not based
on international law"
BBC AMERICA: The European Union has responded angrily to Russia's entry ban against 89 European politicians, officials and military leaders.

Those banned are believed to include general secretary of the EU council Uwe Corsepius, and former British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

Russia shared the list after several requests by diplomats, the EU said.

The EU called the ban "totally arbitrary and unjustified" and said no explanation had been provided.

Many of those on the list are outspoken critics of the Kremlin, and some have been turned away from Russia in recent months.

The EU said that it had asked repeatedly for the list of those banned, but nothing had been provided until now.

"The list with 89 names has now been shared by the Russian authorities. We don't have any other information on legal basis, criteria and process of this decision," an EU spokesman said on Saturday.

"We consider this measure as totally arbitrary and unjustified, especially in the absence of any further clarification and transparency," he added.

A Russian foreign ministry official said that the ban was a result of EU sanctions against Russia. » | Saturday, May 30, 2015

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Islamic State Sets Up 'Ministry of Antiquities' to Reap the Profits of Pillaging

A flag of the Islamic State group fluttering on top of the
Roman theatre of the ancient city of Palmyra
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Looting priceless artefacts has raised tens of millions of dollars for Isil – a sum comparable to the profit the terrorists have made by the kidnap and ransom of Western hostages

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) has established a "ministry of antiquities" to maximise the profits from looting priceless artefacts across the territory it controls.

The trade has raised tens of millions of dollars for Isil – a sum comparable to the profit the terrorists have made by the kidnap and ransom of Western hostages.

Since its lightning sweep through Iraq and Syria last year, Isil has sought to transform itself into an organisation capable of ruling its own state, setting up an elaborate hierarchy of leadership and ministries.

But while elsewhere in the Middle East, ministries of this kind try to protect antiquities; Isil's version was established to pillage and smuggle these treasures in a territory replete with classical ruins. » | Louisa Loveluck, Cairo | Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sam Harris 2015 Debate With Rabbi David Wolpe – Cenk Uygur – On Islam

Pamela Geller Debates Chris Cuomo on CNN: "Snap Out of It"

Er machte Obama zur Ikone – nun rechnet er ab

DIE WELT: Der Künstler Shepard Fairey schuf im Jahr 2008 das berühmte Hope-Plakat, das Barack Obama zum Popstar machte. Nun erklärt er, warum der US-Präsident für ihn eine einzige Enttäuschung ist.

Sein berühmtes Hope-Poster mit einem Porträt von Barack Obama in Blau, Rot und hellen Ockertönen hat inzwischen Ikonencharakter erlangt. Es zierte die Wände von Studentenbuden und Wahlkampfbuttons. Es wurde auf T-Shirts gedruckt genauso wie auf Kaffeetassen. Das Original wurde sogar von der ehrwürdigen National Portrait Gallery in Washington erworben, noch bevor der siegreiche Kandidat überhaupt sein Amt angetreten hatte.

Das Poster hat einen sofortigen Wiedererkennungswert, der in der selben Liga spielt wie Jim Fitzpatricks Che-Guevara-Poster, wie der "Guardian" einmal schrieb. Doch neun Jahre nachdem er das berühmte Poster für Barack Obamas Wahlkampf entwarf, ist seinem Schöpfer Shepard Fairey nun der Kragen geplatzt. In einem Interview mit dem Magazin "Esquire" hat er sich sehr enttäuscht gezeigt über den Präsidenten. » | Von Clemens Wergin, Washington, US-Korrespondent | Freitag, 29. Mai 2015

Thousands of Holocaust Survivors Are Living in Poverty, Says US Adviser

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: There are more than half a million Holocaust survivors worldwide and some need urgent help to live a dignified life, says an adviser to the US secretary of state

A substantial number of the 500,000 Holocaust survivors worldwide are suffering from poverty and need urgent help to live a dignified life in their last years, an adviser to the US secretary of state said on Wednesday.

"It's really unacceptable that those people who in their youth suffered so grievously should have to live out their declining years in deprivation, isolation and poverty," Stuart Eizenstat, special adviser on Holocaust issues to John Kerry told AFP.

"In New York City alone, of the 60,000 survivors, 50 per cent are in that state. In Israel about a third are, and in the former Soviet Union countries upwards of 85-90 per cent are in poverty," he said on the sidelines of a conference in Prague.

"All the surveys indicate that substantial percentages of those (survivors) are living in poverty or near poverty," Mr Eizenstat added. » | AFP | Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Friday, May 29, 2015

On Leaving Islam

Unveiling Islam

THE DAILY CALIFORNIAN – THE SOAPBOX: If someone had told me six years ago that I would leave Islam and end up an atheist, I would never have believed him.

I was born and raised as a Muslim. I grew up in a Muslim country — Pakistan — surrounded by other Muslims who were convinced that their religion was the one true religion. My family, in particular, followed moderate Sunni Islam, which is a more liberal approach based on the “Sunnah,” or Prophet’s teachings. That was the path I set out on. But now, as a Muslim apostate and atheist, my journey couldn’t have led me any further from what I once knew to be true.

Until I was 14, I simply accepted everything I’d been told about Islam. I was taught that being born into a Muslim family is a blessing and is the greatest gift that Allah can bestow upon someone. I initially thought the Sunni path I followed was the one true path, just like my Shia, Bori and Ismaili friends adhered to the teachings of the sects their families followed. I noticed how everyone around me claimed to have a monopoly on the truth, which made me question who was actually right. I started to view Islam — and religion in general — as something dogmatic, irrational, unscientific and, most of all, completely sexist.

A feminist since age 10, it’s always been hard for me to reconcile my feminism with my faith. Even though the Pakistani society in which I grew up was sexist, my family has always been very progressive. As a result, I never accepted the male superiority and traditional gender roles that were part of my society. For most of my teen years, I felt torn apart by my contradictory beliefs. On one hand, I was a radical feminist who supported gay rights. But on the other hand, I was a practicing Muslim whose religion was clearly homophobic and placed men above women. » | Shanzeh Khurram | Staff | Friday, May 29, 2015

Marine Le Pen Told by Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Her Opinions about Islam 'Need Correcting'

Grand Imam of al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb
met with Marine Le Pen in Cairo
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: The French Front National leader met Ahmed al-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar, in Cairo to discuss the need to fight extremism

Egypt’s top imam has warned Marine Le Pen, the French far-Right leader, that her Front National party’s “hostile opinions” towards Islam must be “reviewed and corrected”.

During a meeting in Cairo, Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, told Ms Le Pen that the Sunni Muslim body had “serious concerns” over her party’s stance on Islam.

The Front National, which had a strong showing in local elections in March, has campaigned on politically explosive issues of immigration and the integration of Islam into French society after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

Ms Le Pen, who did not wear a veil during the meeting, “recognised the need to not confuse Islam with the violent acts committed” in its name, Al-Azhar said in a statement. » | AFP | Friday, May 29, 2015

Washington DC Officials Block Muhammad Subway Cartoon

Ms Geller is an outspoken critic of Islam
BBC AMERICA: Transport officials in Washington DC have blocked plans by an American free speech pressure group to have a controversial cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad displayed on the subway.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative wanted to display the cartoon, which won first prize at an event in Texas.

Two gunmen were shot dead by police outside the event earlier this month.

Washington transport authorities on Thursday banned political, religious and advocacy adverts on the subway.

The transport authority in the US capital voted unanimously to suspend advertisements it describes as "issue-oriented".

AFDI founder Pamela Geller strongly criticised the decision to ban the advert, describing it as an attack on free[dom] of speech.

Ms Geller commented on her website that "rewarding terror with submission is defeat, absolute and complete defeat. "These cowards may claim that they are making people safer, but I submit to you the opposite. They are making it far more dangerous for Americans everywhere."

The advert calls for Americans to support free speech and features a bearded, turban-wearing Muhammad waving a sword and shouting: "You can't draw me!"

In reply, a cartoon bubble portrays an artist grasping a pencil and saying: "That's why I draw you." » | Friday, May 29, 2015

JIHAD WATCH: Assassin’s veto: Washington Transit Authority shuts down free speech, suspends all issue-related ads » | Robert Spencer | Thursday, May 28, 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Beunruhigend! Der Islam wird Europa erretten

Beunruhigend ist es sehr. Vor allem, weil unsere Politiker sitzen herum und schauen zu, anscheinend hilfslos, während dem unsere Zivilisation in den Mülleimer der Geschichte geworfen wird. – © Mark

Woman Accused of Witchcraft Axed to Death in Papua New Guinea

Local tribes men from Enga, Papua New Guinea
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Woman accused of being a sorceress has been hacked to death by a mob

Police in Papua New Guinea vowed to find the men who axed to death a woman accused of using witchcraft to spark a measles outbreak in the country's remote jungle highlands, a missionary said on Wednesday after meeting authorities.

The woman, Mifila, was one of four women accused with 13 of their family members of using sorcery to cause measles deaths last November in the village of Fiyawena, in Enga province, said Lutheran missionary Anton Lutz.

Women are often accused and killed in witch hunts even though laws passed in 2013 make revenge killings over black magic punishable by death. Human Rights Watch earlier this year named Papua New Guinea as one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman due to gender based violence. » | Agencies | Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Türkei: Ein Privat-Jet für Chef der Religionsbehörde

DIE WELT: Recep Tayyip Erdogan will dem Leiter der Religionsbehörde private Flugzeuge der Regierung zur Verfügung stellen. Der türkische Präsident begründet seinen Vorschlag mit einem Verweis auf den Vatikan.

Der türkische Staatspräsident Recep Tayyip Erdogan will dem Leiter der Religionsbehörde Flugzeuge für Reisen zur Verfügung stellen. "Unser Präsident der Religionsbehörde soll für seine Auslandsreisen unsere Flugzeuge aus dem aktuellen Bestand nutzen. Wieso sollte er mit einem Linienflugzeug reisen?", sagte Erdogan am Dienstagabend dem Sender NTV in Ankara. » | dpa/dkl | Mittwoch, 27. Mai 2015

SEX and WOMEN: The Reason Islamic State Extremists Want to Kill ALL Westerners

Diarmaid MacCulloch is a Church
of England deacon
DAILY EXPRESS: THE WESTERN world's obsession with sex and the role of women are the reasons Islamic extremists want to kill people, a leading professor has warned.

The "pressing of sexual imagery on to the world" means western culture is hated in the rest of the world and leads to jihadists wanting to "kill people in the name of purifying the world", Diarmaid MacCulloch said.

The gay Oxford theological historian and presenter of the BBC's Sex and the Church said the hatred of western culture reaches far and wide and can be seen in Boko Haram in Africa, in the Middle East and in Vladimir Putin's Russia.

He said: "It seems to me that it is about sex.

"A unique feature of western culture is that it loves talking about sex, it obsesses about sex, it presses sexual imagery on to the world.

"Other cultures think about sex a lot but they do not talk about it and they find it intensely embarrassing and frustrating that the West talks about it."

The enhanced role of women in society is another reason Islamic State comrades hate western culture, the professor added.

He said: "The anger that other cultures feel towards western sexual openness, it is so much of the murderous anger which we are seeing in Boko Haram, Islamic State and other revivalist movements of the 20th century.

"Islam, in particular, is the religion of angry young men who are terrified by the way in which women's roles have changed in the last 50 years." » | Alix Culbertson | Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Magic Merkel: Why German Chancellor Is World's Most Powerful Woman for Fifth Year in a Row

Angela Merkel topped the list for the fifth time in a row.
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Angela Merkel has been named as the world’s most powerful woman by Forbes magazine for the fifth year running. Here are five reasons Germany’s Chancellor seems unstoppable

1. She’s the one Western leader who knows how to stand up to Putin

In 2007, Vladimir Putin famously ordered his black labrador brought into the room during talks to unsettle Angela Merkel, because she’s known to have a fear of dogs. Her response? “I understand why he has to do this, to prove he’s a man,” she told reporters. “He’s afraid of his own weakness. Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this.” » | Justin Huggler, Berlin | Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tony Blair Resigns as Middle East Peace Envoy

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Former Prime Minister Tony Blair resigns from his position as Middle East peace envoy

Tony Blair has resigned from his position as the Quartet's peace envoy to the Middle East after seven years.

The former Prime Minister has been criticised for his dual role as diplomat and businessman.

He will quit the role - which he took up immediately after leaving Downing Street in 2007 - next month.

Sources said that although Mr Blair will no longer represent the Quartet he plans to remain "active on the issues". » | David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent | Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rouhani Clashes with Iranian Clergy over Women Arrested for 'Bad Hijab'

In a pre-summer ritual, an Iranian policewoman warns a young
woman about her clothing and hair during a crackdown to
enforce the Islamic dress code. 
THE GUARDIAN: With summer approaching, president has provoked a row with senior clerics after criticising police for enforcing a strict interpretation of dress codes

President Hassan Rouhani, who came to office in 2013 partly on the votes of young, middle-class women, knows that in the summer, hundreds or even thousands will be arrested by the morality police for “bad hijab”, a slack interpretation of the official dress code requiring women to cover their hair and figure even as temperatures push 40 degrees.

In his remark last year that “you can’t send people to heaven by the whip”, the president expressed a belief that citizens should not be forced into “good” behaviour, and in two recent speeches he skirted the issue of hijab, provoking a critical response from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, and from senior members of the clergy.

In late April, the president told an assembly of Iranian police officers the duty of the police was solely to enforce the law. “The police’s job is not to enforce Islam, and furthermore, none among them can claim that their actions are sanctioned by God or the prophet [Mohammad].” » | Tehran Bureau correspondent | Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Qatar Emir's Mother Speaks Out over Treatment of Muslims by the West

Zaha Hadid 9left) and Sheikha Moza.
THE GUARDIAN: Sheikha Moza bint Nasser al-Missned, one of most influential women in the Arab world, attacks ‘double standards’, comparing Charlie Hebdo with Chapel Hill

Muslims face dehumanisation when western countries apply double standards, the wife of the former emir of Qatar has warned in an unusual and critical public intervention from a senior royal in a wealthy Gulf state.

Sheikha Moza bint Nasser al-Missned, one of the most influential and high-profile women in the Arab world, also questioned distinctions between “moderate” or “liberal” and “conservative” Muslims and insisted that it was wrong to say that Islam was “stuck in medieval times”.

“Why is it that world leaders gathered to march in defence of Charlie Hebdo, while the Chapel Hill murders were shrugged off as a parking dispute?” she asked, in a reference to the killing of three Muslim students in North Carolina in February. She was speaking at St Antony’s College, Oxford, on Tuesday.

“At the same time we are confronted with double standards. Why is it that apologies are offered when Europeans are mistakenly killed by drones but only silence follows when innocent Yemeni and Pakistani children and civilians are killed by the same drones? Why do Muslim lives seem to matter less than the lives of others? If they matter at all. I believe this dehumanisation is cultivated through a process of Muslim-phobia.” » | Ian Black Middle East editor | Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Vatican Says Ireland Gay Marriage Vote Is 'Defeat for Humanity'

THE GUARDIAN: Vatican diplomat seen as second only to the Pope insists Saturday’s referendum result shows ‘the church must strengthen its commitment to evangelisation’

A senior Vatican official has attacked the legalisation of gay marriage in Ireland. The referendum that overwhelmingly backed marriage equality last weekend was a “defeat for humanity”, he claimed.

“I was deeply saddened by the result,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, said at a conference in Rome on Tuesday night. “The church must take account of this reality, but in the sense that it must strengthen its commitment to evangelisation. I think that you cannot just talk of a defeat for Christian principles, but of a defeat for humanity.”

The remarks by the Vatican’s top diplomat, who is seen as second only to the pope in the church’s hierarchy, represent the most damning assessment of the Irish vote by a senior church official to date. » | Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Rome | Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Saudi Religious Police Make Gloveless Woman Leave Shopping Mall

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Darum bin ich kein Salafist mehr | Aussteiger spricht Klartext

Woman, 20, Burned Alive by Sadistic ISIS after She Refuses to Perform 'Extreme Sex Act'

DAILY EXPRESS: A YOUNG woman was burned alive by Islamic State (ISIS) militants after she refused to perform an ‘extreme sex act’, a senior diplomat has revealed.

The 20-year-old victim is one of thousands of girls subjected to a campaign of sexual violence waged by the fanatical group.

Zainab Bangura, the United Nation’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said ISIS was responsible for “rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and other acts of extreme brutality”.

She described how the jihadi group would rampage through a village, executing the men and boys aged 14 or over.

The women and mothers would be separated from the younger girls, who are then stripped naked and tested to check if they are a virgin.

The vulnerable youngsters would then be examined to check their breast size and ranked on how pretty they are.

The unlucky ones would then be sent to Raqqa, the ISIS stronghold in the north of Syria.

The sickening brutalisation of Iraq and Syria's women – many from the persecuted Yazidi community – is "central" to the group's ideology, Ms Bangura argued.

The youngest, and those considered the ‘prettiest virgins’, fetch the highest prices, she said. » | Tom Batchelor | Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Syrie : Bachar el-Assad bombarde Palmyre

LE POINT: L'aviation syrienne a mené lundi d'intenses raids sur la ville antique. L'EI a exécuté au moins 217 personnes depuis qu'il s'est emparé de la ville.

L'aviation syrienne a mené lundi d'intenses raids sur la ville antique de Palmyre et sa banlieue, prise jeudi par les djihadistes du groupe État islamique (EI), faisant au moins 4 tués civils, selon une ONG. "Depuis ce matin, l'aviation du régime a mené 15 raids sur Palmyre et sa banlieue.

Il s'agit des raids les plus intenses depuis la prise de la ville", a affirmé Rami Abdel Rahmane, directeur de l'Observatoire syrien des droits de l'homme (OSDH). "Il y a au moins quatre morts parmi les civils et des dizaines de blessés et c'est sûr qu'il y a aussi des morts parmi les djihadistes de Daesh (acronyme arabe de l'EI) lors du bombardement du bâtiment de la sécurité militaire, a-t-il ajouté. Les raids ont visé plusieurs endroits de la ville, connue en arabe sous le nom de Tadmor, notamment les secteurs de l'hôpital national et dans celui près du périmètre où se trouvent les antiquités gréco-romaines." » | Source AFP | dimanche 25 mai 2015

Nun wollen auch Deutsche die Homo-Ehe

Die Grünen wollen die gleichgeschlechtliche Ehe auch in
Deutschland. Zwei irische Männer küssen sich nach dem
positiven Abstimmungsergebnis (23. Mai 2015)
TAGES ANZEIGER: Die Grünen wollen dem Beispiel Irlands folgen – und fordern Merkels CDU zum Handeln auf.

Nach dem klaren Ja der Iren zur Homo-Ehe haben die Grünen die schnelle Zulassung gleichgeschlecht-licher Ehen auch in Deutschland gefordert. Die CDU werde die Debatte um die Ehe für alle «nicht einfach aussitzen können», sagte die Fraktionsvorsitzende der Grünen im Bundestag, Katrin Göring-Eckardt, der «Welt». «Es wird Zeit, Frau Merkel», appellierte sie an die Bundeskanzlerin.

Deutschland sei mit dem Lebenspartnerschaftsgesetz von 2001 einst Vorreiter der Gleichstellung, erinnerte Göring-Eckardt. Das Votum der Iren sei «ein grossartiges Signal. Gleiche Liebe verdient gleichen Respekt». Sie sei zuversichtlich, dass das Votum in Irland die Gleichstellung in Deutschland beschleunige, sagte sie. » | Sonntag, 24. Mai 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015

US-Geheimdienst: In Europa tobt ein Krieg zwischen Islam und Christentum

DEUTSCH TÜRKISCHE NACHRICHTEN: Europa befindet sich im Krieg mit dem Islam und diese Auseinandersetzung wird auf dem europäischen Kontinent ausgetragen, so der Chef des US-amerikanischen Privatgeheimdiensts Stratfor, George Friedman. Der Krieg werde sich verschärfen und es werde zu „Deportationen“ kommen. Das Attentat auf Charlie Hebdo sei ein Hinweis auf diesen uralten Konflikt, meint Friedman.

Der Chef des US-amerikanischen Privatgeheimdiensts Stratfor, George Friedman, ist der Ansicht, dass in Europa ein Krieg zwischen dem Islam und dem Christentum tobt. Das schreibt er zumindest in einem Artikel. Der Anschlag auf das Satire-Magazin Charlie Hebdo und Anschläge auf Muslime in Europa seien zwei Seiten derselben Medaille. Über Jahrhunderte habe es diesen Konflikt gegeben und dieser sei nicht zu leugnen. Es finde ein Krieg „zwischen zwei Welten statt“. Dafür gebe es viele Anzeichen.

Friedman führt an, dass die Europäer die Muslime niemals als gleichwertige Bürger akzeptieren werden, weil diese Wahrnehmung historisch gewachsen sei. Das sei ein gut verstecktes Geheimnis der Europäer, der mittlerweile offen artikuliert wird. Europa befinde sich in einer Situation des Selbstbetrugs. Die Muslime hingegen befänden sich in einer Zwickmühle. Das Attentat auf Charlie Hebdo wurde im Namen des Islams durchgeführt. „Nicht alle Muslime – noch nicht einmal die meisten Muslime – sind dafür verantwortlich“, so Friedman. Muslime wüssten, dass die Dschihadisten Terroristen sind, doch ein 25-jähriger Bürger oder ein Polizeibeamter könne dieser Unterscheidung nicht treffen. Für sie seien Muslime alle gleich. » | Deutsch Türkische Nachrichten | Montag, 11. Mai 2015

Dans Palmyre contrôlée par l’EI, « l’épuration a commencé »

LE MONDE: Ce n’est pas aux ruines de Palmyre, mais à ses habitants que l’organisation Etat islamique (EI), le nouveau maître de la ville, a entrepris de s’attaquer en premier. Les djihadistes, qui se sont emparés des lieux mercredi 20 mai, ont épargné pour l’instant les vestiges gréco-romains, qui font de cette oasis du centre de la Syrie l’un des sites archéologiques les plus grandioses du Proche-Orient. En revanche, les soldats du « califat » n’ont pas tardé à se lancer dans une purge de grande ampleur, destinée à cimenter leur emprise sur le terrain. » | Par Benjamin Barthe (Beyrouth correspondant) | lundi 25 mai 2015

Iran Blames US for Ramadi's Fall to Isil

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: The Islamic republic accuses America of having 'no will to fight' militants

Iran has accused the US of having "no will" to stop the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), underscoring tensions in the alliance of international powers that has mobilised against the group in Iraq.

General Qassem Soleimani, the head of an elite unit in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, said the US did not do “a damn thing” to stop Isil seizing the Iraqi city of Ramadi earlier this month.

Published in an Iranian newspaper on Monday, his comments came just a day after US Defence Secretary Ash Carter accused Iraqi forces of lacking the "will to fight", saying they had withdrawn from Ramadi even though they "vastly outnumbered" Isil. » | Louisa Loveluck, Cairo | Monday, May 25, 2015

Is the UK Still a Christian Country?

The number of people calling themselves Christian
is declining in the UK
BBC AMERICA: Are we losing our religion? The answer for the UK seems to be "Yes", while the answer for the developing world is a resounding "No".

That was the conclusion of a recent analysis by the Pew Research Center in the US.

It suggests that in the UK, if current trends continue, the proportion of the population identifying themselves as Christians will fall from 64% in 2010 to 45% by 2050, while the proportion of Muslims will rise from 5% to 11%.

The proportion of the population claiming no religion in the UK - the "unaffiliated" - will also rise significantly, from 28% to 39%.

Pew's research also suggests there are likely to be more Muslims than Christians in the world by 2070, with Islam's share of global population equalling that of Christianity at just above 30% each by 2050.

Equally eye-catching is its conclusion that by 2050, under half of the population will be Christian not just in the UK, but also France, the Netherlands, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Australia and New Zealand, while Muslims will make up about 10% of Europe's population, up from 6% now, thanks to higher birth rates.

However, Christianity globally will continue to grow, with the number of Christians projected to rise significantly in sub-Saharan Africa in particular.

According to demographer Conrad Hackett at Pew, in 1910 some 66% of the world's Christians lived in Europe. Now that has fallen to about 25%. » | Caroline Wyatt, Religious affairs correspondent | Monday, May 25, 2015

DANIEL PIPES: ISIS Attacks on the West

The May 3 assault on a Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, prompted much discussion about the assailants' connections to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh. Did ISIS run them as agents? Are they part of a new network of terror in the West? Clearly, the Garland jihadis had some connections to…

Muslims Who Stop Shopping at Marks & Spencer Could Be Radicals, Warns Top Cop

THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: Britain’s most senior Muslim policeman says teenagers who stop drinking and wearing western clothes may also be becoming extremists in stark warning

Muslims who suddenly stop shopping at Marks & Spencer could be victims of radicalisation, Britain’s most senior Muslim policeman has warned.

Scotland Yard commander Mak Chishty said that teenagers who unexpectedly stop drinking, socialising with friends or wearing western clothes could also be becoming extremists.

Mr Chishty said the danger of radicalisation in Britain today is so steep that he fears even his own children could be influenced by propaganda from terror groups.

He said extremist messages posted via social media were becoming so effective that some British children as young as five believe celebrating Christmas is forbidden by Islam.

The stark warning came as the Mr Chishty used a Guardian interview to justify more intrusion into Muslims’s “private space” to counter extremism.

It comes with hundreds of Britain’s having fled to the Middle East to join Isis, also known as Islamic State, amid fears they could return to commit terrorist atrocities in the UK. » | Ben Riley-Smith, Political Correspondent | Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday, May 24, 2015

'Burqa Not Conducive to Western Liberal Society': We Should Follow Ban Says Ukip

SUNDAY EXPRESS: THE wearing of the full face veil in public should be banned in Britain, said Ukip's acting leader Paul Nuttall last night.

His comments followed an announcement of a new law by the Government in the Netherlands, approved by the cabinet sitting in The Hague, which will ban the wearing of all face coverings including ski-masks and helmets in certain public places.

Mr Nuttall, the party's deputy leader, was recently placed in temporary charge of UKIP while Nigel Farage takes a break.

Last night he described the Dutch proposal as eminently sensible, noting that it echoed a decision by both France and Belgium to issue similar rulings.

Speaking to the Sunday Express, he said: Belgium and France and now the Netherlands have argued that the burqa is not conducive to western liberal society, and that people's faces need to be exposed so they can communicate and integrate.

This all sounds pretty sensible stuff to me. Leading French feminist groups supported the French and Belgian ban, with the International League for Women's Rights saying: The full-face veil, by literally burying the body and the face, constitutes a true deletion of the woman as an individual in public.

Mr Nuttall added: Should we follow this and ban the burqa in this country? Yes. Personally, I think this is about civility, not religion. » | Marco Giannangeli – Exclusive | Sunday, May 24, 2015

Just Days after Seizing Palmyra, Isis Massacres 400 People in the Ancient City

THE INDEPENDENT: Most of the people murdered were women and children

Isis has slaughtered more than 400 mostly women and children in the ancient city of Palmyra, two days after capturing the ancient city.

Syrian state television reported the massacre, quoting residents of the city.

The state news agency said: "The terrorists have killed more than 400 people.. and mutilated their bodies, under the pretext that they cooperated with the government and did not follow orders."

Opposition activists claimed that hundreds of bodies littered the streets. They said that many of the victims were from groups or families loyal to the government.

Amongst the dead were state employees - including the head of the nursing department at the city hospital, and all of her family members.

Isis supporters released videos of militants searching government buildings, looking for victims and pulling down pictures of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and his father . » | Doug Bolton | Sunday, May 24, 2015

John McCain Mocks Obama for Calling Climate Change a Threat as Isis Advances

THE GUARDIAN: Republicans blame Obama after fall of Syrian and Iraqi cities / ‘The president is saying the biggest problem we have is climate change’

Senator John McCain on Sunday attacked the president for citing climate change as a threat to national security, suggesting that the Obama administration’s focus on environmental issues was detracting from the fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

The comments by the Senate armed services committee chairman were part of a rotating blame game over the Memorial Day weekend about who is responsible for recent gains by Isis fighters, who last week took control of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra and the Iraqi city of Ramadi.

“There is no strategy, and anybody who says there is, I’d like to hear what it is,” McCain said, appearing on CBS News. “Because it certainly isn’t apparent. Right now we are seeing these horrible reports, in Palmyra, they’re executing people and leaving their bodies in the streets.

“Meanwhile the president of the United States is saying that the biggest problem we have is climate change.”

In a commencement address at the US Coast Guard Academy last week, President Barack Obama said climate change posed an “immediate risk”. » | Tom McCarthy in New York | Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mark Levin Roars for Obama to Wipe Out the ISIS "Islamo-Nazis"

Decrying the pathetic response of America's Commander-in-Chief to ongoing Islamo-Nazi atrocities, Mark Levin tells his listeners how he would deal with ISIS if he were Commander-in-Chief

Church in Ireland Needs 'Reality Check' after Gay Marriage Vote

BBC AMERICA – EXTRACT: The Republic of Ireland has a written constitution which can only be changed by referendum.

Now that the proposal has been passed, a marriage between two people of the same sex will have the same status under the Irish constitution as a marriage between a man and a woman.

They will be recognised as a family and be entitled to the constitutional protection for families.

Civil partnerships for same-sex couples have been legal in Ireland since 2010, giving couples legal protection which could be changed by the government.

However, married gay people will now have a constitutional standing that can only be removed by another popular vote. Read the whole article here » | Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Islamic State Flag Flies at Palmyra Citadel

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD: Islamic State fighters have raised their flag over an ancient citadel in the historic Syrian city of Palmyra and destroyed statues in a local museum, pictures posted online overnight by the group's supporters showed.

The militants seized Palmyra, known as Tadmur in Arabic and strategically significant with nearby natural gas fields and roads leading south-west to Damascus, on Wednesday after days of heavy fighting with the Syrian army.

"Tadmur citadel under the control of the caliphate," read a caption on one picture posted on social media websites. In another, a smiling fighter is shown carrying the group's black flag and standing on one of the citadel's walls. » | Reuters | Saturday, May 23, 2015

Democrats Call for ‘Flood’ of Muslims to U.S.

WND: 'We must dramatically increase the number of Syrian refugees that we accept'

A group of 14 Democrat senators has written a letter to President Obama urging him to “dramatically increase” the number of Syrian refugees being resettled into American cities and towns.

They say the U.S. needs to take in at least 65,000 Syrians as permanent refugees over the next year-and-a-half.

“While the United States is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees, we must also dramatically increase the number of Syrian refugees that we accept for resettlement,” says the four-page letter to Obama, copied to Secretary of State John Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

More than 3.5 million Syrians are registered with the United Nations as refugees, and the U.N. wants to assign about 350,000 of them to so-called “third-party countries.”

The 14 senators, led by Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., cite the research of the Refugee Council USA to make their case for 65,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016. RCUSA is the main lobbying arm of the nine agencies that contract with the federal government to resettle refugees in cities and towns across America.

The more refugees brought into the country, the more government grants doled out to the nine resettlement agencies. Among them are the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Church World Service, International Rescue Committee and the National Association of Evangelicals’ World Relief.

More than 90 percent of Syrian refugees will be Muslim

Of the 843 Syrians resettled in the U.S. since the start of the Syrian civil war, 92 percent have been Muslim and about 7 percent Christian. Syria’s overall population is 90 percent Muslim and close to 10 percent Christian. » | Leo Hohmann | Saturday, May 23, 2015

20 Other Countries Where Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal Nationwide

Read the TIME article here | Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ireland Votes to Approve Gay Marriage, Putting Country in Vanguard

Read the New York Times article here | Saturday, May 23, 2015

Queen Rania of Jordan Calls on Muslims to Take a Stand against ISIS and Its 'Attack on Civilisation' after Fanatics Threaten to Destroy Ancient Ruins at Palmyra

DAILY MAIL: The most influential woman in the Arab world told MailOnline that it would be an 'enormous loss to humanity' if ISIS destroyed the World Heritage Site / Insisted that ISIS' cause is nothing to do with religion but driven by nothing more than 'greed and power' / Called on Muslims and Arabs to lead the fight with support from the West / The Queen was pictured comforting the wife of Jordanian pilot Lieutenant Muath al-Kasasbeh who was burned to death by ISIS / She said it was one of the most difficult periods of her life - but that we owe an immense debt to his bravery

Queen Rania of Jordan today called on Muslims around the world to take a stand against Islamic State and its 'attacks against civilisation'.

The 44-year-old royal, who is one of the most influential women in the Arab World, spoke out as ISIS threatened to destroy the Unesco World Heritage site at Palmyra, in Syria, after over-running forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad.

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline in her home country, the Queen said: 'It's an attack on civilisation, it is the latest in the atrocities that ISIS and groups like them have committed.

'Palmyra is one of the greatest treasures in the region and indeed in the world – it shows how we're facing a global threat, not just against Arabs or Muslims, but against the entire civilised world.'

Unesco said the destruction of the ancient buildings and artefacts at Palmyra would be 'an enormous loss to humanity'. World leaders like President Francois Hollande of France have called for direct action to save them.

'I absolutely agree with that,' said the Queen, who was attending the World Economic Forum at the Dead Sea Resort in Sweimeh. » | Nabila Ramdani in Sweimeh, Dead Sea, Jordan | Saturday, May 23, 2015

ISIS in Nuke Boast: We Can Get Atomic Bomb 'Within a Year' from Corrupt Officials

DAILY EXPRESS: ISLAMIC State (ISIS) are poised to buy its first nuclear bomb "within a year", the terror group claimed tonight.

The jihadists are looking to get hold of an atomic weapon or thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate explosive.

The merciless organisation says it hopes to purchase a nuclear device “through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials” in Pakistan.

But it admits that obtaining the deadly weapon may be a challenge and says it would settle for a “few thousand tons of ammonium nitrate explosive”.

The chilling boast was made in the latest edition of its propaganda ‘magazine’ circulated to publicise the group’s barbaric aims.

ISIS says it has already seized “tanks, rocket launchers, missile systems, anti-aircraft systems” – and is now setting its sights on the ultimate dirty bomb. » | Tom Batchelor | Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

Several Killed and Injured after Suicide Bomber Strikes at Saudi Shia Mosque

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: One witness says he believes at least 30 were killed in a 'huge explosion' at the Imam Ali mosque in the village of al-Qadeeh

A suicide bomber set off an explosion during weekly prayers in a Shia mosque of eastern Saudi Arabia leaving many dead Friday, the interior ministry said.

"It has been established that an individual detonated a bomb he was wearing under his clothes during Friday prayers at Ali Ibn Abi Taleb mosque in Kudeih in Qatif province," the interior ministry spokesman said.

The spokesman, in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency, said the attack left many dead and wounded, without giving a specific toll.

An activist said at least four worshippers were killed and others wounded, and news websites in eastern Saudi Arabia posted photographs of bodies lying in pools of blood. » | AFP | Friday, May 22, 2015

Islamic State 'Seizes Key Syria-Iraq Border Crossing'

BBC AMERICA: Islamic State militants have seized the last Syrian government-controlled border crossing between Syria and Iraq, a Syria monitoring group says.

Government forces withdrew from al-Tanf - known as al-Waleed in Iraq - crossing as IS advanced, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.

The loss of al-Tanf to IS follows the group's takeover of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra on Thursday.

The US says that fighting the militants will be a "difficult challenge". Islamic State now controls "more than 95,000 sq km (36,679 sq miles)" of Syria, which is 50% of the country's entire territory, the UK-based SOHR said.

The militants dominate the provinces of Deir al-Zour and Raqqa and have a strong presence in Hasakeh, Aleppo, Homs and Hama. » | Friday, May 22, 2015

French Term 'Rights of Man' Is Sexist and Must Go, Say Feminist Campaigners

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Feminists in France launch campaign calling on government to shelve the "sexist" expression "rights of man" in favour of "human rights"

France must drop the “sexist” term “rights of man” in favour of “human rights”, a group of feminists said in a campaign launched on Thursday.

In a petition it intends to send to the French government, the Droits Humains collective called for “human rights for all”, and said the term "Droits de l’Homme" should be removed from all official documentation.

They argued that the francophone countries of Canada and Switzerland, along with Germany, Spain and other EU states, have already made the linguistic shift to human rights, as have “les Anglo-Saxons” like Britain.

The expression, however, runs deep in France as it was inscribed on the country’s 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man at the time of the French revolution.

The group said that while the declaration may have been revolutionary, it was sexist and “specifically and unambiguously designated people of the male gender to the exclusion of women”. » | Henry Samuel, Paris | Thursday, May 21, 2015

Finland Tells 900,000 Reservists Their Roles 'In the Event of War'

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Amid rising tension with Russia, Finland takes the rare step of sending letters to every military reservist

Finland has sent letters to nearly a million military reservists, setting out their roles “in the event of war” amid rising tension with neighbouring Russia.

The letters have been dispatched to 900,000 former conscripts in the armed forces, including to Finns living abroad.

The first were sent earlier this month, with the final batch distributed in the last few days.

Finland is not a member of Nato and the country shares an 830-mile border with Russia – the longest of any European nation apart from Ukraine.

In the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the invasion of eastern Ukraine, Finland is uniquely vulnerable to any further aggression.

The letter tells the reservists which regiment or unit to report to in the event of hostilities. “Attached you will find your personal details as well as your role in the event of war,” it reads. » | Nick Squires, Rome | Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tobacco Companies Prepare Multi-billion Compensation Claims over UK Plain Packaging

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Taxpayers could be forced to pay tobacco industry up to £11 billion industry for trademark losses

Tobacco companies are preparing to launch what could be one of the biggest ever legal claims against the British Government for losses as a result of the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes.

They are expected to begin lodging papers at the High Court as early as Friday, seeking a multi-billion compensation payout for being stripped of the right to use instantly recognisable brands.

Lawyers will argue that forcing them to use entirely unbranded packaging would amount to deprivation of a highly valuable intellectual property.

Although the companies would leave it to the court to determine the exact level of compensation, industry analysts have suggested their combined value of the industry in the UK could be as much as £11 billion.

A collective payout on that scale would wipe out almost the whole of the Government’s planned £12 billion welfare savings and dwarf the £8 billion of extra cash for the NHS promised by the Conservatives at the General Election. » | By John Bingham, Social Affairs Editor | Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ireland Expected to Vote 'Yes' in Historic Referendum on Gay Marriage

A graffiti artist finishes a Yes campaign piece in
central Dublin, Ireland
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Traditionalists do not want homosexuals to be able to take wedding vows, but majority of voters seem likely to say "We Do"

Judging by the number of posters urging a "Yes" vote in Friday's referendum on same-sex marriage, the Ireland of today is no longer a place where homosexuals are not welcome.

Yet while Dublin has no shortage of gay-friendly restaurants, bars and hotels, there are still some locals who think that God has made a reservation for them somewhere altogether hotter and more uncomfortable.

"This whole referendum thing stinks from hell," said Mary Delaney, a retired secretary, as she came out of St Mary's Pro-Cathedral, just off O'Connell Street in downtown Dublin.

"This thing is messing up the whole of Creation, and the culture of sex is so strong in our society today that it's impossible to protest."

Ms Delaney, who wore a "Vote No to Protect Marriage" sticker on her lapel, had just finished attending the 10am mass at St Mary's - one of five daily services still held here even on weekdays.

Yet while the Catholic church still remains strong in Ireland, the pews at St Mary's are not as full as they once were, and with the dwindling numbers has gone much of the opposition to homosexuality. Read on and comment » | Colin Freeman, Dublin | Thursday, May 21, 2015

Terrormiliz: Kreml verspricht Irak Hilfe beim Kampf gegen den IS

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Russland und der Irak wollen ihre militärische Zusammenarbeit ausbauen - beim Kampf gegen die IS-Terrormiliz erklärte sich Moskau zu Waffenlieferungen bereit.

Die irakische Armee kann bei ihrem Kampf gegen die Terrormiliz "Islamischer Staat" (IS) auf Unterstützung durch Moskau hoffen. Russland sei bereit, Irak mit Waffen zu versorgen, sagte der russische Außenminister Sergej Lawrow in Moskau. Sein Land werde alles tun, um der irakischen Regierung dabei zu helfen, den IS zurückzudrängen. » | anr/Reuters | Donnerstag, 21. Mai 2015

Razzien: Großbritannien geht gegen illegale Einwanderer vor

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Großbritanniens Premier Cameron verspricht kurz nach seiner Wiederwahl schärfere Gesetze gegen illegale Einwanderer. Die Polizei demonstriert bereits Härte. Bei Razzien wurden zahlreiche Migranten festgenommen.

Die britische Regierung will Migranten abschrecken - und gegen solche, die bereits ohne gültige Papiere im Land leben, hart vorgehen. Premierminister David Cameron kündigte Gesetzesverschärfungen an. Wer illegal nach Großbritannien komme und arbeite, dessen Lohn werde künftig beschlagnahmt, so der konservative Regierungschef. Vermieter sollen künftig noch strikter verpflichtet werden, die Einreisepapiere ihrer ausländischen Mieter zu prüfen. "Unkontrollierte Einwanderung kann unseren Arbeitsmarkt schädigen und zum Sinken von Löhnen führen", sagte er. » | anr/AFP/dpa | Donnerstag, 21. Mai 2015

Osama bin Laden a Paedophile? Terror Leader’s Extreme Porn Stash Revealed

DAILY EXPRESS: A MASSIVE haul of hardcore pornography was seized from the Pakistan hiding place of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden after he was shot dead by US Navy SEALs.

The nature of the pornography is considered so extreme that American officials refuse to release details, leading to intense speculation that it involves children or animals.

Under strict versions of Sharia law - of the type lauded by hardline Islamist groups ISIS and al-Qaeda - bin Laden would almost certainly have been beheaded, stoned to death, or thrown from a high building for possessing such material.

The Department of National Intelligence (DNI) has released today a list of books the 9/11 mastermind was reading when he was killed four years ago.

But they confirmed Navy SEALs also recovered a large digital collection of sex videos from the compound when they staged a secret mission to kill bin Laden in 2011.

However, the US Government says it is not going to describe or release details on any of the pornographic materials.

DNI spokesman Brian Hale said: “We have no plans to release that at this point in time[.] » | Thursday, May 21, 2015

L'Etat islamique s'empare de Palmyre en Syrie

REUTERS FRANCE: BEYROUTH (Reuters) - Les djihadistes de l'Etat islamique (EI) se sont emparés mercredi de Palmyre, où se trouve le site archéologique le plus célèbre de Syrie, dont les forces gouvernementales se sont retirées après avoir évacué les civils, rapporte la télévision nationale.

C'est la première fois que l'EI prend une localité à l'armée ou à ses supplétifs, qui avaient déjà cédé du terrain à d'autres groupes armés dans le Nord-Ouest et le Sud, ces dernières semaines.

Située à 240 kilomètres au nord-est de Damas, Palmyre se trouve au carrefour stratégique de routes menant à Homs et à la capitale. Outre les ruines antiques, voisines du centre qui est également nommé Tadmour, elle abrite des installations militaires récentes.

Selon l'Observatoire syrien des droits de l'homme (OSDH), l'EI tient la majeure partie de l'agglomération.

On ignore ce que sont devenus les militaires syriens qui étaient stationnés aux abords de la ville, souligne l'organisation basée à Londres qui dispose d'un réseau d'informateurs sur place.

"Grâce à Dieu, (Palmyre) a été libérée", a déclaré un membre de l'Etat islamique sur internet, ajoutant que le mouvement s'était emparé d'un hôpital où l'armée avait pris ses quartiers avant de se retirer.

D'autres djihadistes ont publié sur Twitter des photos d'hommes armés dans des rues qu'ils disent être celles de Palmyre. Les djihadistes de l'EI avaient déjà pénétré sur le site classé au patrimoine mondial de l'Unesco le week-end dernier, mais en avaient été repoussés par les forces gouvernementales.

Maamoun Abdoulkarim, chef du service des Antiquités syriennes, a lancé un appel à la préservation de la cité et de ses monuments. » | Par Sylvia Westall et Tom Perry | mercredi 20 mai 2015