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30th November   

Updated: Failed Justice...

Pakistani christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy over accusations resulting from a personal argument
Link Here

Pakistan flagA Pakistani court has sentenced a Christian, Asia Bibi to death for blasphemy charges thereby becoming the first woman to receive such a capital punishment.

Release International, a UK based Christian organization added that a sessions court judge gave Asia the maximum sentence at the end of a trial that lasted for more than 16 months.

The report said that Asia, a farm laborer in her late-30s from Ittanwali, Punjab, was also fined more than £700 – the equivalent of two-and-a-half years' salary for the average worker.

Release partners at Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan (SLMP), who have been supporting Asia and her family throughout their ordeal, say that they and the family are shocked by this outcome, it stated.

It noted that no one sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan has ever been executed – but Asia could now spend years in appalling conditions on death row. If she appeals to the High Court, it may take years before her case is heard.

According to the report, police first filed a case against Asia in June 2009 after local Muslims accused her of making derogatory comments against Islam's prophet, Mohammed.

She had reportedly been discussing matters of faith with fellow laborers in the fields when Asia and her daughters were attacked by local villagers and Muslim clerics. She had reportedly been under pressure from her fellow workers to convert to Islam, the report added.

Release International said they're concerned that Asia's conviction could set a dangerous precedent. Martha Bibi is currently on trial for blasphemy in Lahore and she was charged in 2007, after a dispute with builders who allegedly refused to return equipment belonging to her.

There is a petition calling for justice for Christians in Pakistan at www.releaseinternational.org/current

Update: Appeal

15th November 2010. Based on article from bbc.co.uk

Relatives of a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for insulting the Prophet Muhammad say they will appeal against her conviction.

Asia Bibi's husband, Ashiq Masih, who is a field labourer, said: We have never ever insulted the Prophet Muhammad or Islamic scripture, and we will contest the charges in the higher courts.

He said his wife was accused of blasphemy after getting into an argument last year with a group of women when she was sent by the wife of a village chief to fetch water. Masih said the other women challenged his wife and said it was sacrilegious to drink water collected by a non-Muslim: My wife took offence, saying, 'Are we not humans?' This led to an altercation.

Human rights activists want the blasphemy law repealed as they say it is often exploited by Islamist extremists or those harbouring personal grudges.

Update: President Intervenes

20th November 2010. Based on article from hindustantimes.com

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has stayed the execution of a Christian woman who was sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy. The woman, Aasia Bibi, was given the death sentence by a judge on charges of committing blasphemy under the Pakistan Penal Code. The judge also imposed a fine of Rs 300,000 on her.

A religious leader of the local mosque, Qari Saleem, had lodged a case against Aasia Bibi for allegedly passing derogatory remarks against the last prophet of Muslims.

Zardari on Friday directed Shahbaz Bhatti, federal minister for minorities, to submit a report within three days.

Meanwhile, the spokesman of the National Commission of Justice and Peace (NCJP), an NGO working for minority rights in Pakistan, said the proceedings of the case took place under intense pressure and the verdict was likely to be overturned in the high court.

The case has drawn huge attention in the local media and there is deep sympathy for Aasia Bibi.

Several NGOs have called for repealing the blasphemy law because it was being used by illiterate masses in rural areas to hoodwink the minorities .

Update: The Heat is On

22nd November 2010. Based on article from google.com

Pope BenedictThe family of a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam said Saturday they are hoping for a presidential pardon that could bring her home in time for Christmas.

The case against Asia Bibi — which started with a spat over a sip of water — has renewed calls for reform of Pakistan's blasphemy law, which critics say have been used to settle grudges, persecute minorities and fan religious extremism.

Bibi has been in prison for the last 1 1/2 years and on Nov. 8 became the first woman sentenced to hang for blasphemy.

President Asif Ali Zardari has asked for a report on the case and could issue a pardon even before a court issues its decision on an appeal against the verdict, said Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's minister for minority affairs.

The minister said accusations have increased in recent years along with the rise of Muslim extremism that has also fueled the Taliban and other insurgent groups seeking to impose Islamic rule based on a strict interpretation of the holy book, the Quran. This law is a tool in the hands of the extremists, Bhatti said.

The blasphemy law is unlikely to be repealed because the government's ruling party relies on the support of Islamist groupings. But Bhatti said the government was working to amend the law. Among the possible reforms, he said, are including punishments for anyone making false accusations and taking the initial investigation out of the hands of local police and instead entrusting them to district officials. Anyone with a grudge can accuse anyone of blasphemy, he said.

Punjab Governor Salman Taseer told reporters Saturday he is also going to appeal for Bibi's release: I am going to take this petition to the president, and the president will forgive her

Pope Benedict XVI has also called for her release.

Update: President warned off a pardon with threats of violent protests

24th November 2010. Based on article from tribune.com.pk

In an unprecedented move, top clerics joined to warn President Asif Ali Zardari against granting a discretionary pardon to a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, saying that the decision may trigger adverse reaction.

I advise him (Zardari) not to take a hasty decision under foreign pressure, Qari Hanif Jallundari, who represents the Deobandi school of thought, told The Express Tribune by phone from Lahore. Such a decision will lead to untoward repercussions, he added.

Hanif's Wafaqul Madaris Al Arabia (WMA) is an umbrella organisation which leads more than 12,000 seminaries across Pakistan, mostly in Punjab, where many people accused of blasphemy have usually lost lives at the hands of religious zealots. An organisation which wields control over Barelvi seminaries has also joined the Deobandis in a bid to change the president's decision which, they think, he has already taken.

Sahibzada Fazl Karim, a representative of Barelvi seminaries, said his organisation would stage demonstrations across the country if someone involved in a crime like blasphemy is granted pardon . It would be too much if the woman is set free. Death is the only punishment for a person who commits blasphemy.

Update: Protests

25th November 2010. Based on article from christianpost.com

muslim protestA group of hard-line Muslims, including many students from Islamic schools, protested Wednesday in the city of Lahore against a possible presidential pardon for a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy. Related

About 250 people participated in the demonstration, organized by the Movement for Protection of the Prophet's Honor, to oppose the pardon and the effort to change the country's controversial blasphemy law, which has been widely condemned by the international community and human rights groups.

We are ready to sacrifice our life for the Prophet Muhammad, protesters chanted, according to The Associated Press.

Update: Taliban join the threats

28th November 2010. Based on article from centralasiaonline.com

Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, the deputy chief of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan warned the government of serious consequences if it grants amnesty to the woman sentenced to death for blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad, BBC Urdu reported.

Faqir Muhammad said the Taliban would resist any move to pardon Asia Bibi. He said Pakistan was an ideological state and said that a pardon because of foreign pressure was not acceptable.

Update: Presidential pardon ruled out by the high court

30th November 2010. Based on article from christiantoday.com

The Pakistani government has been barred by the country's high court from pardoning a Christian woman sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy.

A lawyer argued that a pardon would be illegal while the case was pending in the courts.

Since the matter is in the high court, the government cannot now make any move to pardon Bibi, lawyer Allah Bakhsh Leghari told Agence France-Presse.

Bibi's attorney filed an appeal and signed a petition pleading for a presidential pardon.

 

29th November   

Update: Mrs Palm Under Nutter Siege...

A miserable attempt to deny Truro sex shop customers from the simple pleasures of life
Link Here
Mrs Palm sex shop protest

  Let's put Christ back into Christmas

Mrs Palm
5 Little Castle Street
Truro
TR1 3DL

This my shop Mrs Palm in Truro on the busy shopping day of Saturday 27th November and along comes the catholic church to block my window and tell people untrue rumours that myself and my shop were involved in the recent child sex abuse case in Cornwall that is all over the news.

The Christian Institute will not give up their attempt to see me shut down, and now I have the Catholic Church harassing on a nearly daily basis.

The nun pictured came into the shop the day before to tell me I was disgusting and so was the shop.

The week before I had a cross drawn on the window and photos taken of my window display of which I was told by the church member taking the shots that my window dummies were prostitutes. The photos they took were then on the Cornwall council's desk that same morning, with a complaint.

I put a sign in my window saying Mrs Palm licensed sex shop opening soon and was told to take it out as it offended the church, and then told by the licensing committee that I would not be allowed to display my website address on my shop fascia because of the church!

I had one hundred letters of objections, all of which were unfounded moralising and completely bigoted.

I have been told by letter that I am obviously a ex porn star druggie that has been abused by black men....

So not a day goes by without a little drama..

Out of every negative there comes a positive though, and since I seem to hit the local paper every week its created a lot of support form strangers, it's bringing in the customers through all the furore, curiosity and it's getting me lots of free publicity.

All good for business.

Hallelujah.

 

29th November   

Bad Santa...

Spanish nutters easily offended by performance by Italian Satirist
Link Here

Spanish flagThe Italian satirist Leo Bassi has been the subject of a complaint filed in the courts of the Spanish city of Valladolid by the State Association of Christian Lawyers accusing him blasphemy.

Bassi allegedly mocked the pope, the Catholic religion and Christian symbols during his act. Bassi was performing in the Auditorium of the University of Valladolid at a conference organised by the Republican Atheist group. The conference was entitled Judeo-Christian roots of the West: an historical fraud to fight.

We think Leo Bassi may have committed a crime punishable under the Penal Code as the offense and derision toward the beliefs of a religious denomination, said William Garabito Efe, who made the complaint on behalf of the Association of Youth for Factual Information (Ajio).

As well as Bassi, the complaint names Republican Ateneo, and the rector of the University of Valladolid, Mark Sexton.

The complainants say that Bassi was dressed as Father Christmas as he mocked the most prominent symbols and beliefs of the Christian faith which they considered slander and libel that amounted discrimination on religious grounds that could incite hatred and violence.

 

29th November   

Burning Tension...

Arson at Portland mosque after failed bomb at Christmas lights event
Link Here

OregonSomeone set fire to an Islamic center two days after a man who worshipped there was accused of trying to blow up a van full of explosives during Portland's Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

The charges against Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a Somali-born 19-year-old who was caught in a federal sting operation, are testing tolerance in a state that has been largely accepting of Muslims. Muslims who know the suspect say they are shocked by the allegations against him and that he had given them no hint of falling into radicalism.

Mohamud was being held on charges of plotting to carry out a terror attack on a crowd of thousands at Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square.

He parked what he thought was a bomb-laden van near the ceremony and then went to a nearby train station, where he dialed a cell phone that he believed would detonate the vehicle, federal authorities said. Instead, federal authorities moved in and arrested him. No one was hurt.

The fire at the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center in Corvallis left evidence suggest that it was set intentionally, said Carla Pusateri, a fire prevention officer for the Corvallis Fire Department.

Authorities don't know who started the blaze or exactly why, but they believe the center was targeted because Mohamud occasionally worshipped there.

There were also no injuries in Sunday's fire, which burned 80% of the center's office but did not spread to worship areas or any other rooms, said Yosof Wanly, the center's imam.

 

29th November   

Update: Brave Legislator...

Private member bill submitted to limit abuse of Pakistan's blasphemy laws
Link Here

Pakistan flagThe former minister for information and Pakistan Peoples Party legislator Sherry Rehman has submitted a private member bill in the National Assembly Secretariat seeking amendments to the country's contentious blasphemy laws.

Rehman proposes that the death sentence  be reduced to a 10-year imprisonment and recommends that the life imprisonment be substituted with a five-year imprisonment sentence.

The move which is likely to incur the wrath of the country's religious circles has been under discussion for a long time but up till now, no legislator dared to formally submit any such law due to the matter's sensitive nature.

Though it is a private member bill and is likely to get across party lines support from the liberal legislators, the religious parties and some right wing parties will be strongly opposed to it.

Rehman has also proposed that a new section should be added which states that anyone making false or frivolous accusation shall be punished in accordance with similar punishments prescribed in the section under which the false or frivolous accusation was made.

Another section has been proposed under which any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination or violence shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for an imprisonment of up to seven years, a fine or both.

The proposed legislation also calls for amendment to try all blasphemy cases in the High Court.

Blasphemy Abuse Victim Freed

Based on article from pakistanchristianpost.com

A court in Pakistan has freed a Christian man who was wrongly jailed for 25 years for blasphemy after he allegedly defiled the Koran, the Muslim holy book, by touching it with unwashed hands.

Munir Masih, had consistently denied the allegations against him, arguing that they were false and made maliciously by a Muslim neighbour whose child had been involved in a quarrel with his 10-year-old son.

He has been freed on bail but his wife, Ruqqiya Bibbi,who was also given a 25-year sentence for the offence, is still in jail awaiting the outcome of her application for bail.

They are both appealing against sentence and conviction after Muhammad Nawaz, the man who accused them, admitted they were innocent and indicated that was willing to submit an affidavit to confirm this.

 

29th November   

Update: A Veil over School Security...

Turin official asks for burkha ban on mothers picking up children from school
Link Here

Italy flagA government official in theItalian city of Turin has asked the local school board to stop fully-veiled women from picking up their children at school because it makes it difficult to identify them as the students' true parents.?

The request by Maurizio Marrone – a member of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's conservative People of Liberty party – was prompted after Marrone and other mothers had seen some women dressed in full burqas picking up their children from an elementary school in Turin's Barriera di Milano working class neighbourhood.

 

28th November   

Happy Sexmas...

Bah humbug! says the church over safe sex campaign
Link Here

SexmasChurch leaders have urged the Scottish Government to show more respect for Christmas as ministers are poised to launch a festive safe sex message titled the Sexmas Survival Guide .

The government is set to approve an official sexual health website that substitutes the word Christ with sex when issuing advice to young people on how to avoid risky behaviour.

But the £100,000 promotion's fun with the word Christmas has angered church figures, who also disapprove of the website's innuendo-laden approach to discussing sex.

The advice should be more respectful, said John Deighan, the parliamentary officer for the Catholic Church: Using the word Christmas like that is symptomatic of a whole philosophy that undermines their safe sex strategy. They don't show enough delicacy of language and they don't show enough respect.

Rev Alan Falconer of the Church of Scotland's St Machar's Cathedral in Aberdeen said: This would not be appropriate at all. This detracts from the festival for it to be classified in this way.

The Sexmas Survival Guide will advise young people on how to deal with festive social occasions such as the After Work Do when inhibitions are relaxed and office workers have to negotiate the unexpected rise , and encounters with the employee of the year , who is ready for anything . For such situations, the guide advises: Slip a few condoms into your bag or pocket.

According to the guide, another hazard is the end of night ride . Getting home safely, it says, is best achieved by keeping a spare £20 note and some taxi numbers handy so that a cab can be taken at the end of the night.

Deighan claimed: This sort of approach trivialises sex and turns it into just another pastime when we should have a humanised vision of sex - that it is part of love and an intimate part of human relationships. The result of this sort of approach seems to be that things just get worse. The more you trivialise sex the more reckless people become.

 

26th November   

Update: Morality Based on Nonsense...

Christian Institute seeks judicial review of local council licensing claiming that were wrong to set moral objections aside
Link Here

christian institute logoMrs Palm
5 Little Castle Street
Truro
TR1 3DL

A christian nutter group is challenging the licensing of Truro's first licensed sex shop which opened its doors for the first time last weekend.

Campaigners won a case to secure a judicial review of Cornwall Council's decision to grant the licence.

And the council has said it will not defend the legal challenge, which could see Mrs Palm Ltd shut if the case goes ahead.

City councillor Armorel Carlyon and the Christian Institute launched action in the High Court, claiming procedures were not followed correctly at the original hearing when the licence was granted in August.

The issue is believed to centre on two key elements of the hearing. The first was the decision to disregard many of the letters of objection on the grounds that they focused on the morality of the shop.

The second was that the committee did not take into sufficient account the location of the sex shop, which is next door to school outfitters Trevails in Little Castle Street.

A council spokesman said: The council, having considered the matter carefully, has decided not to contest the judicial review. How the interested party, Mrs Palm Limited, decides to proceed in these circumstances is a matter for them.

Simon Calvert, deputy director of the Christian Institute who led its campaign against the shop's licence, said: The decision by the council not to contest the case reflects the strength of our case.

The move by Cornwall Council not to defend the licensing committee's decision surprised Mrs Palm's directors. Owner Braxton Reynolds said: As a licensee I would have expected Cornwall Council to have defended the position of their licensee.

The case will now go before a judge who will decide if there are enough grounds to grant the review. If given approval then a judicial review will probably be heard late next year.

In the meantime, however, a licensing committee hearing has allowed the premises to extend its hours for late night Christmas shopping. It will now be allowed to open until 9.30pm every Wednesday – three hours later than normal under the terms of the original licence. Councillors also agreed it could include the street number and drop the word Ltd from its sign but drew the line at replacing it with a website address.

 

26th November   

Update: About Time Too!...

Pope finally OKs condom use for sex workers
Link Here  full story: Religion and AIDS...Promoting poverty and AIDS
"I Said No" pope condom

  no no no no no no no...maybe!

The Vatican has appeared to expand the Catholic Church's tolerance of condoms as a means of fighting HIV, backing their use by female prostitutes, days after the Pope said their use by male sex workers was better than spreading the virus.

Pope Benedict XVI was quoted at the weekend saying condom use by male prostitutes could be a good thing, indicating the user's intention to protect others from a deadly infection, apparently condoning the use of contraceptives for the first time. The Vatican then confirmed that the same message applied to women sex workers. Related articles

Observers said the pontiff's message that condom use, and its inherent ability to prevent conception, was justifiable on health grounds, represented a seismic shift by the Church. This is a game-changer, said James Martin, a Jesuit priest and culture editor of the religious magazine America.

 

26th November   

Update: Stoners Stand Down...

Iran signals that stoning victim will be spared from execution
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

Sakineh Mohammadi AshtianiIran has signalled for the first time that it may spare the life of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman whose sentence of death by stoning for adultery has sparked an international outcry.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, a top adviser to the Iranian supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and the current secretary general of Iran's High Council for Human Rights told Press TV: Iran's Council of Human Rights has helped a lot to reduce her sentence and we think there is a good chance that her life could be saved.

The unprecedented comments by Larijani, whose brothers are holding key positions in the Islamic Republic, one as the head of parliament and the other as the chief of judiciary, came after his visit to the UN last week where he extended an invitation during a meeting with Ban Ki-moon to the UN's human rights chief to visit Iran.

Update: Acquitted

20th February 2011. See article from sltrib.com

Iran has freed two German journalists arrested four months ago after they interviewed the son of an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.

An Iranian court threw out their 20-month prison sentence, commuting it to a fine of $50,000 each and clearing the way for their release, state media reported.

 

25th November   

Update: Vilification of Religions...

Nutter nations win the annual vote for an international blasphemy law but the margin decreases a little
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

UN logoA resolution combating the vilification of religions was adopted on November 23 by a United Nations committee, but religious freedom advocates who oppose the measure say support for it continues to diminish.

The resolution by Islamic countries is scheduled to be considered by the U.N. General Assembly in December.

The vote -- 76 yes, 64 no, and 42 abstentions -- received fewer affirmative votes than last year, said Freedom House, a human rights group that has worked against the resolution. In 2009, 80 countries voted in favor to 61 against (42 abstained).

We are disappointed that this pernicious resolution has passed yet again, despite strong evidence that legal measures to restrict speech are both ineffective and a direct violation of freedom of expression, said Paula Schriefer, director of advocacy at Freedom House.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent bipartisan panel, said the measure's diminished support shows some countries think the resolution can do more harm than good.

Days before its passage, the Organization of the Islamic Conference relabeled the resolution as condemning vilification of religions instead of defamation of religions, but U.S. officials and advocates continued to oppose it.

 

25th November   

Update: Battle of the Dome...

Egyptian Security Again Attempts to Stop Construction of Church
Link Here  full story: Copts in Egypt...Egyptian christian copts denied religious freedom

talbiyaA Standoff took place on November 22 between Copts and security forces, which stormed the Church of St. Mary and St. Michael, in Talbiya, Giza to stop the construction of the church. It was the second time in less than 10 days that security forces stormed the church premises to seal it off.

The siege began at midnight and lasted until six AM. Priests and parishioners had anticipated the visit from security. All priests were inside the premises, and a great number of the parishioners were inside the church since 9.00 PM, praying, a witness said.

Security forces surrounded the church and prevented the builders from working, and confiscated four concrete mixing vehicles containing ready-mixed concrete, which were on their way to church. The concrete was spoiled, being kept for over 10 hours, costing a loss of 400.000 Egyptian pounds, reported Wagih Yacoub.

Nearly two thousand Copts came to the church as soon as they heard that security forces had stormed the church and are continuing their sit-ins and demonstrations in front of the church until the matter is resolved.

Protestors are adamant that they have all necessary construction permits, condemning the decision of the chief of the local authorities in Omraniya to stop work on the church, which is nearly complete except for the domes.

It was also reported that the Governor of Giza is going to the church premises to negotiate with the thousands of Copts from Talbiya and Giza who are still continuing their sit-in in front of the church.

 

24th November   

Afghan Inquisition...

Afghanistan set to try man for converting from islam to christianity
Link Here  full story: Apostasy in Afghanistan...Death sentence for converion from islam

Afghanistan flagAn Afghan Christian, detained for months for allegedly converting to Christianity from Islam, could face trial next week - and could face a potential death penalty, officials said.

The Afghan Constitution does not mention converting from one religion to another, so the judge will take Islamic law into account, officials said.

Qamaruddin Shenwari, director of the Kabul courts' north zone said: According to Afghanistan's constitution, if there is no clear verdict as to whether an act is criminal or not in the penal code of the Afghan Constitution, then it would be referred to sharia law where the judge has an open hand in reaching a verdict .

Under sharia law, converting from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death.

The U.S. State Department said last week in its annual International Religious Freedom Report that respect for religious freedom decreased in Afghanistan in the last year, particularly toward Christian groups and individuals. Christians, Hindus and Sikhs - as well as Muslims whose practices don't satisfy the government or society - suffer intolerance in the form of harassment, occasional violence, discrimination and inflammatory public statements, the report said. It estimated the Afghan Christian community ranges from 500 to 8,000 people.

 

24th November   

Updated: Torch Mob...

Large Egyptian muslim mob attacks coptic christian properties
Link Here

el nawahed attackCoptic Christians in the Upper Egyptian village of el-Nowahed, Abu-Tesht, in Qena Province, were victims of an attack by a Muslim mob of nearly one thousand on November 15. The attack started at nearly 10pm on Monday evening and lasted until the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The large mob of Muslims from el-Nowahed and the surrounding villages besieged and waged an attack against Coptic homes amidst cries of Allah is the greatest and other Islamic Jihadist slogans. They threw fireballs, gasoline and stones at Coptic homes and detonated Butane Gas cylinders. Christian-owned homes were looted and shops were broken into, plundered and burned. There were no reported casualties.

The attack resulted in the burning of twenty-two Coptic-owned homes, two commercial shops, a bakery, as well as livestock.

The sound of automatic weapons fired in the air was heard, to terrorize and intimidate the Copts, according to Ra'fat Samir, who heads the Luxor branch of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights.

Security forces were able to impose order a few hours later, and a curfew was imposed on el-Nowahed village and the city of Abu-Tesht.

The rampage against the Coptic inhabitants of the village came in the wake of a story which circulated in town three days earlier, about an affair between 19-year-old Copt Hossam Noel Attallah and a 17-year-old Muslim girl, Rasha Mohamed Hussein, a relative of the village mayor. According to Anba Kyrillos, Bishop of the Diocese of Nag Hamadi, some witnesses saw the teenage couple walking together towards the graveyards, after which it was rumored in the village that he raped her, although a Muslim woman confirmed that Hossam did nothing wrong to the girl, he said.

Update: Prosecutor Turns a Blind Eye

24th November 2010. Based on article from aina.org by Mary Abdelmassih

Police authorities in the Egyptian village rampaged by a Muslim mob on November 15, torching some 22 Coptic houses, came to the conclusion that the fires came about haphazardly as an act of fate. The Bishop of Nag Hammadi, Anba Kyrillos, rejected the police explanations of the cause of the fires, saying An act of fate caused 22 houses to be torched? An act of fate also caused torching of shops, a storage house and a large number livestock not near each other? He added that the two Coptic-owned fields and irrigation machinery were torched one day later, so was this also an act of fate?

The Chief prosecutor went to survey the damage in Al-Nawahed village, Abu-Tesht, in Qena province, 290 miles south of Cairo, but he refused to listen to any of the Coptic victims, speak to witnesses who saw the perpetrators or even register the names of the accused. The Bishop expressed anger at yet another injustice befalling the Copts, saying Does the chief prosecutor want to register the case against 'unknown persons?

The Bishop filed a complaint with the Attorney General against the chief prosecutor of Abu-Tesht for refusing to investigate charges brought by Copts against the Muslim perpetrators named by them, and asked for the re-opening of the investigation.

During the attack the Muslim mob threw fireballs, gasoline and stones at Coptic homes and detonated Butane Gas cylinders This video shows Muslims torching a Coptic Christian home while shouting Alahu Akbar and the terrified inhabitants of the home taking refuge on the roof of the burning house.

It was reported that State Security forced thirteen Coptic families to sign papers stating the fire happened as an Act of Fate and was extinguished by security and the village Muslims. Have you ever heard of such humiliation? said a Coptic victim Whoever refused to sign was beaten up. We were afraid to be detained by security, so we signed he added. He confirmed that the police know all of the perpetrators.

 

23rd November   

No Religious Right in Burma...

Burma bans clergy from politics yet demands that they campaign for the military dictatorship
Link Here

Burma flag 2010Officials in Burma, ordered a Baptist church to cease holding services after the pastor refused to wear an election campaign T-shirt supporting the military government's Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

The election commission summoned Pastor Mang Tling and ordered him to stop holding services and discontinue the church nursery program.

The village headman had given the pastor a campaign T-shirt to wear in support of the USDP, and when he refused to wear it, the headman filed a report with local authorities accusing him of persuading Christian voters to vote in favor of an opposing party, the National Unity Party (NUP).

Under Burmese law, religious leaders can be penalized for engaging in politics, giving the pastor a solid legal reason to decline the T-shirt. The law also bans leaders of religious groups from voting in national elections, according to the CHRO, although lay members of those groups are able to vote.

The election law is quite vague, a Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO) spokesman told Compass: One of the things we were watching out for during the election was to see if church elders or council members might be excluded from voting. But these people were able to vote. The law seems to apply only to pastors, monks and imams.

 

23rd November   

Offsite: Dandelion Mind...

Stephen Green has a rant at Bill Bailey's comedy show
Link Here

Bill Bailey Live Dandelion Mind Comedian Bill Bailey is currently staging a one-man show, Dandelion Mind, at Wyndham's Theatre in London s West End . Much of the evening, according to journalist Quentin Letts, involves attacking Christianity. A particularly distasteful skit insults Jesus Christ by ridiculing the moment when a dramatically convinced Thomas put his hand in the Lord's side.

Mr Letts has penned a scathing review, in which he calls for evangelicals to turn up to heckle Bailey with hymns, and accuses the panel show contributor of cowardice. Christianity is a safe, soft target, but Bailey would never have the guts to insult Mohammed, says the Mail's columnist. The same applies to homosexuality. Bill Bailey would never insult the gays. Certainly not in a theatre owned by Cameron MacKintosh,. 'Not exactly the bravest of Berties - a distinctly predictable performance, Quentin Letts concludes.

Bill Bailey himself, in an article in timesonline, says he takes on multi-nationals, as if that is radical cutting-edge comedy, instead of just another soft target. He won't lose any points among the politically-correct by mocking the theory of intelligent design either. Now if he took on the laughable idea of evolution, or took a sideswipe at abortion or feminism or sexual immorality, now that would be daring

. ..Read the full article

 

22nd November   

Fun Loving Pastor...

Pastor who ranted at Facebook over fidelity issues enjoys the odd threesome with his wife
Link Here
uniting people to people logo

  Living Word Christian Fellowship Church
Uniting People to People...
Threesomes a speciality

A New Jersey pastor who slammed Facebook as a portal to infidelity – and told married church leaders to delete their accounts or resign – has admitted to having a three-way sexual relationship with his wife and a male church assistant.

The Rev Cedric Miller, the leader of Living Word Christian Fellowship Church in Neptune Township, confirmed that he given evidence in 2003 in a criminal case against the assistant involved in the Miller's threesome. The relationship had ended by that time, and the case was eventually dismissed.

Miller hit the headlines this week when he issued his Facebook edict. He said it came about because much of the marital counselling he has performed over the past year and a half has concerned infidelity that stemmed from the social network site.

He claimed that Facebook ignites old passions and ordering about 50 married church officials to delete their accounts with the social networking site or resign from their leadership positions. He had previously asked married congregants to share their login information with their spouses and now plans to suggest that they give up Facebook altogether.

 

22nd November   

British Schools Muslim Rules...

Panorama find muslims schools with a curriculum of hate
Link Here

Panorama logoChildren in Islamic schools are being taught antisemitic and homophobic views from textbooks, the BBC's Panorama will claim tonight.

A textbook used in some weekend schools reportedly asks children to list the reprehensible qualities of Jews, according to the programme.

It claims to have found 5,000 Muslim schoolchildren being taught that some Jews are transformed into pigs and apes and that the penalty for gay sex is execution. Some textbooks are said to teach the correct way to chop off the hands and feet of thieves. A spokesman for the programme said the pupils, aged six to 18, attend a network of more than 40 weekend schools across the country which teach the Saudi national curriculum to Muslim children.

One book for children as young as six is said to ask them what happens to someone who dies who is not a believer in Islam – the correct answer is hellfire .

Investigators claim to have also found a text for pupils aged 15 which reads: For thieves their hands will be cut off for a first offence, and their foot for a subsequent offence.

British Schools Muslim Rules, which will be aired tonight on BBC One at 8.30pm

 

22nd November   

Update: Pakistan's Lynch Mob Justice...

Man bailed on blasphemy charge is murdered by gunmen
Link Here

Pakistan flagA man accused of blasphemy was shot and killed near his home in the Pakistani city of Lahore shortly after being granted bail by a cour.

Imran Latif was accused of burning pages of the Quran and had spent five months in jail.

He was released on bail on November 3 after the man who filed the complaint of blasphemy told the court he was not sure that Latif was guilty.

Inspector Rafique Ahmed, who is investigating the murder, said Latif's killing was likely linked to the blasphemy case. No Muslim tolerates a man who commits blasphemous acts, he said.

Rights activists have condemned the incident as another instance of the havoc caused by blasphemy laws. The blasphemy laws are being so widely exploited here. It seems that the life of a person ends when (he is) accused of committing blasphemy, said Mehdi Hasan, chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

 

22nd November   

Offsite: Kosher Cruelty?...

The religious excuse for barbarity
Link Here

The IndependentIf you are engaged in an act of cruelty, there is an easy, effective way to silence your critics and snatch some space to carry on. Tell us all that your religion requires you to do it, and you are offended by any critical response. Erect an electric wire fence around your nastiest actions and call it respect .

There's a good example of this religious modus operandi playing out on a dinner table near you – and this week, we found out it is becoming more and more common. In Britain, it is a crime to kill a conscious cow or sheep or chicken for meat by slashing its throat without numbing it first. The reasons are obvious. If you don't numb an animal, it screams as you hack through its skin, muscle, trachea, oesophagus, carotid arteries, jugular veins and major nerve trunks, and then it remains conscious as it slowly drowns in its own blood – a process that can take up to six minutes. So we insist that an animal is stunned before its throat is slashed, to ensure it is deeply unconscious. There isn't much humanity in our factory farming system, but this is – at least – a tiny sliver of it, at the end.

But there is a loophole in the law. You are allowed to skip all this and slash the throats of un-numbed, screaming animals if you say God told you to. If you are Muslim, you call it halal , and if you are Jewish you call it kosher .

...Read the full article

 

21st November   

Update: A Barrier to Humanity...

Pope to shift slightly from reprehensible condom prohibition
Link Here  full story: Religion and AIDS...Promoting poverty and AIDS
"I Said No" pope condom

  no no no no no no no...maybe!

Catholic reformers and groups working to combat HIV have welcomed remarks by Pope Benedict that that the use of condoms might not always be wrong.

The Pope said their use might be justified on a case by case basis to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids.

The remarks, due to be published in a book next week, represent a softening of his previously hard line against condoms. In his latest comments, however, Pope Benedict XVI said the use of condoms might be justified in exceptional circumstances.

UNAIDS, the United Nations programme on HIV/Aids, welcomed the comments as a significant and positive step forward . This move recognizes that responsible sexual behaviour and the use of condoms have important roles in HIV prevention, said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe.

The book - Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times - is based on a series of interview the Pope gave the German Catholic journalist, Peter Seewald, earlier this year.

When asked whether the Catholic Church was not opposed in principle to the use of condoms, the Pope replied: She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.

The Pope gives the example of the use of condoms by male prostitutes as a first step towards moralisation , even though condoms are not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection .

He says that the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalisation of sexuality where sexuality is no longer an expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves .

 

21st November   

Update: Bill 94...

Canada's burkha ban discussed at National Assembly
Link Here

Canada flagA bill restricting the wearing of the niqab is considered unconstitutional because it would limit personal choice and freedom of religion, the Council on American-Islamic Relations Canada told a National Assembly committee on Bill 94 yesterday.

Audrey Brousseau, a lawyer for the Islamic association, told MNAs that although Bill 94 is framed in general terms, It clearly targets women who wear the niqab. Brousseau said Bill 94 would discourage niqab-wearing women from seeking public services and working in the public service.

Julia Williams for the Islamic association questioned whether banning the niqab was a neutral gesture. Muslim women are being scapegoated by this legislation' Williams said: How does barring women from essential services promote their integration? she asked.

Bill 94 would require people receiving or offering health care, education or government services to do so with their face uncovered.

 

20th November   

Update: Extracting the Piss...

'Offensive' bacon smell story proves to be nonsense but this is OKed by PCC rules
Link Here  full story: Bacon Botherers...Nonsense story about extractor fan and bacon

bacon sandwichA month ago the Daily Mail ran a story that began:

A hard-working cafe owner has been ordered to tear down an extractor fan - because the smell of her frying bacon 'offends' Muslims.

The same tale appeared in the Daily Telegraph: Cafe fan banned in case smell of bacon offends Muslims and in the Metro: Beverley's Snack Shack offending Muslims with bacon smell .

There had been a complaint about the smells emerging from Beverley Akciecek's Stockport cafe from a non-Muslim neighbour, Graham Webb-Lee, who claimed that his Muslim friends were refusing to visit him because, according to him, they couldn't stand the smell of bacon.

There was not a shred of proof that Webb-Lee's allegation had any basis in fact (because, as we shall see, no reporter checked with him). It also became clear that Mrs A had been required to remove the fan by the council because she had never obtained planning permission for it.

Three people were moved to complain about the piece to the Press Complaints Commission, but Tabloid watch reports today that the complaints were rejected.

The PCC's response to the 3 complaints was:

The Commission made clear that, given the brief and limited nature of headlines, it considers them in the context of the article as a whole rather than as stand alone statements. In this instance, the Commission noted that the headlines reflected Mr Webb-Lee's testimony that his Muslim friends would not visit because of the smell of bacon that came from the fan.

While it acknowledged the complainants' argument that this was not the specific reason given by the council for the refusal of the application, it noted that this was indeed an aspect of Mr Webb-Lee's complaint which had led to the refusal of retrospective planning permission.

The Commission was satisfied that the body of the articles in the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail made clear the situation and that, when the headline was read in conjunction with the article, readers would not be misled as to the circumstances surrounding the refusal for planning permission. In regard to the Metro's article, the Commission acknowledged that it had not included specific details of Mr Webb-Lee's complaint.

However, given that his complaint had referred to his Muslim friends' refusal to visit his house on account of the smell given off by the extractor fan, the Commission was satisfied that the sub-headline A café boss has been ordered to change her extractor fan because the smell of frying bacon offends Muslims next door was reflective of this complaint. The body of the article also made clear that the council's decision was based on the smell being unacceptable on the grounds of residential amenity .

While it considered that the newspaper could have included further details about the complaint, it did not, on balance, consider that the absence of such details were misleading in such a way as to warrant correction under the terms of the Code. It could not, therefore, establish a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code.

Under the terms of Clause 12 (Discrimination) newspapers must avoid making prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's religion. However, the clause does not cover generalised remarks about groups of people. Given that the complainants considered the article to discriminate against Muslim people in general, the Commission could not establish a breach of Clause 12 of the Editors' Code of Practice

The PCC decided that readers would not be misled as to the circumstances surrounding the refusal for planning permission. Really? How wrong can the commission be? Did it not read the 544 comments appended to the Mail's online version of the story? Plenty of them appear to have taken the Daily Mail bait.

To build a story based on one man's unsupported statement when it involves the delicate matter of religious intolerance shows a reckless disregard for the pubic interest and social cohesion.

Let me finish with a comment on the Mail website from someone who knows all about the matter:

I am the neighbour who complained! Well done DM for asking for my comments on the matter, but if you had there would be No Story To Print! This vent is affecting my children's health and that is why the council denied planning!

Yes, I have some Muslim friends who it offended, but nothing was said about my English friends who avoid my house within opening hours of the shop!

Shame on you Daily Mail. You have stirred up lots of racial tension in my area now, so for you its 'mission accomplished.'

Update: Planning Permission Granted

31st March 2011. See article from dailymail.co.uk

planning inspectorateThe planning inspectorate has announced that they can keep the extractor fan at the Snack Shack cafe in Stockport.

The council has been ordered to pay the entire legal bill, which could be as high as 5,000.

 

20th November   

Family Friendly Censors Banned...

Movie industry takes aim at nutters cutting and spoiling their movies
Link Here

family edited dvds logoA nutter DVD censoring technology has unsurprisingly wound up the movie industry.

Family Friendly Edited DVDs are being sued by Paramount, Warner Brothers, Sony, Disney, Universal, and Fox.

According to Hollywood Reporter, the outfit is in the business of distributing bowdlerised versions of movies so that the good Christian families are not shocked by the odd use of the word golly, or the steady march of female breasts which their god apparently hates.

However the problem with Family Friendly Edited DVDs is that they do not appear to have asked the movie studios if they can hack about their movies. And of course it sullies the reputation of the movie companies when viewers find they can't make sense of the plot (because a key event has been skipped by the censor)

Also to do the editing the outfit bypassed DVD DRMs

The studios have called for a temporary, preliminary and permanent injunction against Family Friendly's activities, plus an order requiring the company to deliver up for impound and disposal its inventory.

Family Friendly appear to have seen that the writing is on the wall and has started offering a liquidation sale of all their DVDs.

 

19th November   

Adopting Modern Ethics...

Christian adoption adviser fails to impress court over her refusal to advise on same sex cases
Link Here  full story: Religious Incompetents...Unable to do the job for religious reasons

tribunals service logoA Christian adoption adviser dismissed for refusing to recommend same-sex couples as suitable parents has lost her claim for religious discrimination.

Dr Sheila Matthews lost her job with the county council when she asked to abstain from voting in same-sex cases. She told her employers Northamptonshire County Council she felt children did best with heterosexual parents.

The employment tribunal, sitting in Leicester, dismissed the claim. Concluding a two-day hearing, regional employment judge John MacMillan said she had no case against the council. He said: The complaints of religious discrimination fail and are dismissed. This case fails fairly and squarely on its facts. In our judgment, at least from the time of the pre-hearing review, the continuation of these proceedings was plainly misconceived... they were doomed to fail. There is simply no factual basis for the claims.

MacMillan said there was no evidence that Matthews was treated differently from any other panel member who might request to abstain from voting, or that she was specifically discriminated against on the basis of her Christianity. He said the issue transcended the boundaries of all religions and ruled that Matthews should pay the council's legal costs.

A district judge will decide what amount of costs should be paid by Matthews to the council at a county court hearing on a date to be fixed.

During the hearing Matthews, who was dismissed from the adoption panel in April last year, told the tribunal the Bible was clear that homosexual practice is not how God wants us to live . She told the hearing: As a Christian, my faith leads me to believe that marriage between a man and a woman in a faithful monogamous sexual relationship is the most appropriate environment for the upbringing of children.

 

19th November   

Eid Eggs...

Greek protestors throw eggs at outdoor muslim prayer session
Link Here

Greece flagThousands of Muslim immigrants gathered for outdoor prayer services across Athens to mark the festival of Eid-al-Adha.

Dozens of riot police were deployed in the city centre to protect the immigrants from attacks by extreme right-wing demonstrators who tried to disrupt the prayers.

Reports said a handful of protesters threw eggs at the group of faithful in central Athens before police intervened.

 

19th November   

This Little Piggy Went to Market...

And this little piggy cried offense! offense! offense! all the way home
Link Here

goosefeather-farm pigA toy pig has been removed from a farm set to avoid offending the easily offended.

The pig was missing from the Early Learning Centre's HappyLand Goosefeather Farm, which costs about £25, when a mother bought it as a present for her daughter's first birthday, the Sun newspaper reported.

The set did contain a model of a cow, sheep, chicken, horse and dog but no pig, the newspaper said, despite there being a sty and a button which generated an oink .

The mother called the firm to complain and was told in an email that the pig had been removed in case it upset Muslim or Jewish parents.

The Sun reported that the email said: Previously the pig was part of the Goosefeather Farm. However due to customer feedback and religious reasons this is no longer part of the farm.

The issue came to light on internet forum Netmums, on which the mother posted: This is political correctness gone loopy. This is as bad as no more 'baa baa black sheep' or other such things. Stuff like this is just insipid, it worms its way into every aspect of our lives and we just let it happen. Surely if someone has an issue with a toy they don't agree with, then don't buy it.

The Early Learning Centre said: The decision to remove the pig was taken in reaction to customer feedback in some parts of the world. However, after The Sun contacted the firm, it said: We have taken the decision to reinstate the pig and to no longer sell the set in international markets where it might create an issue. Any customers who have bought Goosefeather Farm in the last few months will be able to order a pig free of charge via our website.

 

18th November   

Catholics Cast Evil Facebook Spell of Banning...

Nutters get black metal festival cancelled in Sydney
Link Here

Black Metal Documentary Region NTSC A black metal festival that was to be held in Sydney, Australia on Nov. 27 has been cancelled because a Catholic group successfully used Facebook to protest what they saw as a disgraceful event promoting Satanism.

This coming Sat 27 November a satanic 'Black Mass' celebration is to occur at Newtown RSL - it is simply disgraceful, the description on the group's Facebook group protest page reads. The advertising which features the insignia of the Church of Satan and an inverted crucifix is encouraging people to come and partake in an 'unholy spell to be cast upon the city of Sydney' featuring the 'ultimate of soul possessing occult revelations...unbridled blasphemy...[and] a union of all things unholy.'

Apparently this group did not understand that advertising was not meant to be taken literally.

The promoter, Seance Records, says the group have been responsible for the event getting cancelled: Less than two weeks out from the show The RSL board has pulled the plug on Black Mass Festival, they wrote on Australian metal forum Brismetal.com. They have blatantly cancelled with no prior notice and with no option of negotiation or compromise. They have sadly bowed under pressure from Christians who have lobbied them to cancel the show.

Their actions will cause large scale hurt not to a secret den of Satanists as they may imagine but to normal hard working, tax paying, law abiding Australians. Young people who have taken time off work, rearranged their schedules and family life, then spent money that they probably can't afford on flights and tickets to the event in the pursuit of a shared love for heavy metal & live independent Australian music.

 

18th November   

Update: Offensive Weapons Deemed Inoffensive...

Lest Sikhs get easily offended by knife ban in schools
Link Here  full story: Religious Offensive Weapons...Sikhs claim religious requirement to carry knives

KirpanTeachers have been advised that up to 2,000 Sikh students in schools across Bedfordshire should be allowed to wear a dagger to school.

New guidance issued to head teachers and governing bodies in Bedford states that baptised Sikhs can wear a dagger – or Kirpan – with a blade of up to6 inches.

The dagger, usually worn discreetly beneath clothing, is one of the five articles of faith worn by Sikhs who have gone through the Amrit baptism ceremony.

Members of Bedford's Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) agreed the guidance developed by members of the Sikh community.

The advice was issued after parents asked for clarification on the issue and states that there should be no objection to the practice of wearing the five Ks. These include the Kirpan, a steel bangle (Kara), unshorn hair (Kesh) a comb, (Kanga) and special underwear (Kacha).

According to guidelines, the Kirpan should be sheathed and out of sight and should be removed for PE lessons. The advice confirms the existing position taken by schools, is that the Kirpan can only be worn with the four other signs of the Sikh faith and schools will expect to remove it from any student not wearing all five symbols or who unsheathes it.

Individual schools can determine their own policies following the guidance issued by the council.

 

18th November   

Unified in Protest...

Japan called upon to stop persecuting members of the Unification Church of Japan
Link Here

Japan flagA press release announcing that human rights advocates are calling on Japan to stop persecution and imprisonment of religious minorities was refused for distribution in Japan by K.K. Kyodo News Agency on November 11, 2010.

The press release provides details about coordinated protests taking place in several major cities throughout the United States on November 16th to pressure Japanese officials to stop the abuse and discrimination of minority religious believers in that country.

Since 1966, more than 4,000 members of the Unification Church of Japan have been confined by their families and deprogrammers in an attempt to force them leave the religion which they, as adults, freely chose to join.

Currently, 10 to 20 Unificationists in Japan are abducted each year. Victims who escape their captors report the use of force, prison-like conditions, and intense pressure to change his or her faith. There have been reports of beatings, starvation, and rape.

By refusing to report human rights abuses in their own country, the Japanese media are complicit in the cover-up being perpetrated by the Japanese government, said Dan Fefferman, President of the International Coalition for Religious Freedom. This cover-up calls into question Japan's commitment to freedom of the press. It also calls into question other human rights abuses the Japanese media may be covering up in order to protect Japanese officials.

 

17th November   

Update: More Nastiness in UAE...

Couple flogged for illicit sex in Sharjah
Link Here  full story: Dangerous Kisses in Dubai...Kiss and tell and go to jail

floggingA housemaid and her boyfriend will be lashed 100 times each, jailed and deported for committing adultery, according to a UAE court ruling.

The Sharjah Sharia Court ordered the lashing of N.M., a Filipina housemaid, 100 times and her deportation for unlawful sex. The court also sentenced her Bangladeshi boyfriend, S.M., to be lashed 100 times for adultery and jailed one year for entering the house of the sponsor without permission. S.M. will be deported after serving his sentence.

According to court papers, N.M. had sex with her boyfriend in her sponsor's house in Sharjah. N.M. brought her boyfriend to her sponsor's house each time the family was not at home, but according to police N.M.'s sponsor saw M.M. while leaving the house.

Police said that N.M.'s sponsor snitched to the police who arrested them both and they admitted to the crime. N.M. told police, the prosecutor and the court that she used to bring her boyfriend to the house whenever the family was out. N.M. and M.M. admitted having sex several times in the sponsor's house.

According to Sharia law if Muslims commit adultery they will be lashed and deported if they are expatriates. If non-Muslims commit adultery they will be jailed and deported.

 

17th November   

Update: The Sin of Propaganda...

Iranian TV again features 'confessions' of stoning victim and her associates
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

Sakineh Mohammadi AshtianiIranian state TV broadcast a statement last night by the woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, in which she described herself as a sinner .

Appearing on TV for the third time since her case caught the world's attention, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani also accused Mina Ahadi, an activist of the German-based International Committee Against Stoning (Icas), of spreading her story around the world.

Ahadi has highlighted Mohammadi Ashtiani's case through the committee and has been successful in bringing it to the world's attention. The broadcast, on Iran's Channel 2, portrayed Ahadi as a communist dissident exiled in Germany , who had taken advantage of Mohammadi Ashtiani's case for her own benefit.

The two German journalists arrested on 10 October also 'confessed' during the broadcast that they had received orders from Ahadi.

During the programme, Mohammadi Ashtiani reiterated her previous televised confessions that she was involved in the murder of her husband. I am a sinner, she said.

Her face was blurred and the interview, conducted in her native Azeri language, was subtitled in Farsi. Previously, Iranian officials have tried to distract attention from the sentence of stoning by portraying Mohammadi Ashtiani as a murderer and not mentioning the charge of adultery over which she has been imprisoned since 2006.

Ahadi told the Guardian last night: They are not just attacking me, they are attacking our committee and everybody who successfully brought her case to the world's attention and, at least for now, managed to stop Iran form stoning her. If it wasn't for the world's attention, Sakineh would have been executed by now, that is what's making them angry.

Journalists Charged

Based on article from guardian.co.uk

Two German journalists have been charged with spying against Iran after interviewing the family of the woman sentenced to death by stoning, an Iranian judicial official said today.

The two women, who were identified only as a reporter and a photographer, were arrested in the city of Tabriz last month after interviewing the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

Malekajdar Sharifi, the head of the judiciary in East Azerbaijan province, said today that spying charges have been formally lodged against them: The espionage charge for the two German citizens who came to Iran to stage propaganda and spying has been approved.

Sharifi said their behaviour suggested they were spies and that they were trying to create a negative impression against Iran. Germany has said it is doing all it can to secure their release.

 

16th November   

Update: Islam Channel Appeal...

Islam channel to defend its wife beating advice against censure from Ofcom
Link Here  full story: Ofcom vs Islam Channel...Islam Channel criticised for offensive preaching

The Islam Channel logoThe Islam Channel is planning to appeal against Ofcom's ruling that the satellite TV network breached the regulator's broadcasting code for advocating marital rape and violence against women.

Five programmes were judged in breach of Ofcom's broadcasting code.

Islam Channel was censured for breaching impartiality rules in programmes on the Middle East conflict and for programmes appearing to advocate marital rape, violence against women and describing women who wore perfume outside of the home as prostitutes .

Ofcom launched its investigation into Islam Channel programmes in March, following a report by the Quilliam Foundation thinktank accusing the broadcaster of regularly promoting extremist views and regressive attitudes towards women.

The Islam Channel today said it will request a review of all five Ofcom rulings, claiming it must have been particularly difficult for the TV censor to make an objective judgment about the broadcaster's output given the media frenzy and sensationalist headlines that surrounded the Quilliam report earlier this year.

Ofcom has called in Islam Channel management for a top-level meeting to explain its compliance processes in relation to the broadcasting code.

 

16th November   

Updated: UN Women in Burkhas...

Iran and Saudi are trying for seats on UN committee on women's rights
Link Here

UN logoIran is close to gaining a seat on a new United Nations agency, called UN Women, which aims to promote equality for women. But the nomination of Iran has caused outrage, particularly in light of the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the 43-year-old mother of two sentenced to death by stoning for alleged adultery.

The United States expressed outrage at the nomination. Its spokesman, Mark Kornblau, said UN Women is tasked with promoting gender equality and women's empowerment worldwide. We and many other countries are concerned by the negative implications of Iran's potential board memberships, given its poor record on human rights and the treatment of women.

Under a General Assembly resolution, four UN agencies are being merged into one 41-member body. Regional groups nominate 35 countries with a further six donor nations to be included. The Asian group has proposed an uncontested ten-nation list that includes Iran.

Saudi Arabia's nomination as one of the donor countries has also caused concern. Women are not allowed to drive in the kingdom and segregation of the sexes is strictly enforced by the country's religious police.

In both countries, women are routinely harassed and can face severe punishment, including jail and lashings, for behaviour or dress deemed immodest.

Update: Saudi joins the board of UN Women but Iran voted off

16th November 2010. From National Secular Society

Saudi flagIt seemed incredible that Iran appeared destined to win a place on the prestigious new UN agency promoting women's rights, but an international outcry has reversed Teheran's fortunes and it has been rebuffed. There was disappointment, however, that Saudi Arabia managed to secure a seat at the table.

Of the Iranian bid, US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, said. They lost, and they lost handily. We've made no secret of our concern that Iran joining the board of UN Women would have been an inauspicious start to that board... It was a very good outcome.

A British government spokesman said: The UK strongly believes that countries on the board of UN Women should have demonstrated a firm commitment to women's rights and gender equality.

Of the UN's 192 member states, Iran is one of just six that has not ratified the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

Until last week, Iran's election had seemed a foregone conclusion despite the international outcry over Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for alleged adultery. It was one of only ten Asian countries standing for the ten seats set aside for them on the 41-member board.

Amid growing outrage, however, Western governments including the US, Canada and Australia persuaded East Timor to add its name last Thursday. That meant the 54 members of the UN's Economic and Social Council had to vote on the Asian slate yesterday. After some intense behind-the-scenes lobbying, Iran came 11th and last with just 19 votes.

Maryam Namazie, spokeswoman for Iran Solidarity, a campaign group, said the Ashtiani case had knocked some sense into voting states. Otherwise, having Iran on UN Women would have been like putting the Vatican in charge of UN Children or the Burmese junta in charge of UN Election Monitoring.

 

16th November   

Nutter of the Criminal Kind...

Man who considered himself a mormon prophet kidnapped 14 year old for his bride
Link Here

Utah state sealA court case with the script of a horror movie pits a man who claims to be directed by God against the woman he is accused of raping and whom he still believes to be his wife

Elizabeth Smart, 23, came into national fame by one of the most horrific kidnappings in US criminal history.

The story of that crime, which saw a 14-year-old Smart held captive for nine months and forcibly married to a man who considered himself a Mormon prophet, stunned America in 2002.

The bizarre details of the incident have finally emerged. Smart last week gave three days of testimony in the trial of Brian Mitchell, a former street preacher who crept into her bedroom and spirited her away into the mountains at knifepoint.

All week Smart's story gripped Salt Lake City, dominating newspapers and TV shows, and was followed across the US. There is tremendous interest about this case. It is every parent's worst nightmare: your child abducted in the dead of night. It's the script of a horror movie, said Paul Cassell, a law lecturer at the University of Utah.

Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, say they kept Smart prisoner out of a belief that God had ordered him to kidnap young girls to be his brides. Smart has told how she was raped almost daily as she was transported from Utah to California and back. At one stage they kept her tied to a tree and almost always lived rough in the mountains, setting up camps.

Eventually Smart was rescued as the trio walked down a suburb in Salt Lake City with their victim so traumatised she first denied who she was. But to some, the Smart kidnapping is more than just a horrific crime. It appears deeply tied up in the history and culture of the Mormon religion, whose founders came to Utah and Salt Lake City in the 19th century to escape persecution of their new and controversial faith.

Update: Convicted

18th December 2010. Based on article from scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com

Brian David Mitchell was found guilty of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart her when she was 14 years old in June 2002.

A jury in a federal court took five hours of deliberation before convicting Brian David Mitchell of snatching Smart from her bed at knifepoint in the dead of night and repeatedly raping her while he held her captive for nine months.

The five-week trial turned on the question of Mitchell's mental health.

His lawyers did not dispute that he kidnapped Smart but said he should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

 

16th November   

Update: Down the Pan...

Egyptian Security Attempts to Stop Construction of Church
Link Here  full story: Copts in Egypt...Egyptian christian copts denied religious freedom

egypt-churchThousands of Copts staged a sit-in inside and outside the Church of the St. Mary in Talbiya, in the Pyramids area, since the morning of November 11, to protest the storming of the church premises by dozens of security forces to stop construction work and demolish stairs and toilets inside the church, despite the church having obtained the necessary permits.

As soon as news of the arrival of security forces at the church became known, hundreds of Copts arrived to congregate. The angry protesters vowed to remain in the church, having heard that security is waiting for them to leave the premises so as to come back and seal it off. They said they are adamant that this is their church and no one is going to stop them from praying there. Even if President Mubarak himself comes, the church building will go on, said Mansour el-Sharkawy in the interview. They are just finding excuses to put their foot in, then start demolishing the church.

More than one million Copts live in the Talbiya area, without a single church to serve them, having to travel for miles every Sunday with their children to the nearest church. The protesters pointed out that the area is full of mosques without licenses, but when it comes to the Copts, they toil for years to obtain a permit for a church, then security comes out with some sort of excuse to stop them from praying there.

The standoff started on Thursday morning, when the Omrania local authorities committee came under the pretext of completing the papers for the construction works and found that builders were building a second staircase, as well as toilets, which they considered to be in violation of the permit granted. It was the Civil Defense authorities who asked the church to erect a second staircase to relieve congestion inside the church in case of emergencies and the necessary permit amendments were made, said Shehata, adding that if a fire broke out, how do you get hundreds of people out of church with just one staircase, and if women and children want to use the toilets, where should they go?

According to Shehata they were in church when the security forces arrived in huge numbers, to force them to stop construction. As a means of intimidation, the forces tried to break the church door down, arrest the builders and take away the children as young as seven years old who were present at church.

I would like to know what wrong have we committed, we are just asking for our rights to have a place of worship, said Shehata to Coptic activist Miriam Ragey. The moment the Muslims saw the Church domes being built, they went mad, she added.

 

15th November   

Update: Good Show!...

Topless protest in Kiev against the stoning in Iran
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

topless protestorLast Thursday there was a a pertinently targeted demonstration in Kiev

A group of feminists called Femen went topless at an event at the Iranian embassy to protest the sentence of death by stoning that Iran meted out to Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani.

Few things attract attention like a group of topless women, but in this case it seems particularly poignant.

 

14th November   

Update: Judges on Trial...

Wilders trial set to resume
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert WildersThe trial of Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders for inciting hatred will resume shortly in Amsterdam with new judges, judicial authorities have said.

Wilders is on trial charged with inciting hatred and discriminating against Muslims. The trial was suspended when the defendant's lawyer raised objections against the judges. The impartiality of one of the judges was questioned when it turned out he had had a private conversation about the case with a defence witness prior to the trial.

 

14th November   

Brave Indeed...

Palestinian atheist blogger arrested and detained
Link Here

Palestine flagA blogger, who set off an uproar in the Arab world by claiming he was God and aiming insults at Muhammad, has been arrested and is being held in police custody.

The case of the shy barber from a backwater West Bank town, is highlighting the  intolerance in the Western-backed Palestinian Authority - and illustrating a new trend by authorities in the Arab world to mine social media for evidence.

Residents of Qalqiliya say they had no idea that Walid Husayin - the 26-year-old son of a Muslim scholar - was leading a double life. Known as a quiet man who prayed with his family each Friday and spent his evenings working in his father's barbershop, Husayin was posting on atheist blogs during his free time.

Now, he faces a potential life prison sentence on heresy charges for insulting the divine essence. With typical blood lust, many towns people say he should be killed for renouncing Islam, and even family members say he should remain behind bars for life.

He should be burned to death, said Abdul-Latif Dahoud, a 35-year-old Qalqiliya resident. The execution should take place in public to be an example to others, he added.

Over several years, Husayin is suspected of posting arguments in favor of atheism on English and Arabic blogs, where he described the God of Islam as having the attributes of a primitive Bedouin. He called Islam a blind faith that grows and takes over people's minds where there is irrationality and ignorance.

He is also suspected of creating three Facebook groups in which he sarcastically declared himself God and ordered his followers, among other things, to smoke marijuana in verses that spoof the Quran. At its peak, Husayin's Arabic-language blog had more than 70,000 visitors, overwhelmingly from Arab countries.

His Facebook groups elicited hundreds of angry comments, detailed death threats and the formation of more than a dozen Facebook groups against him, including once called Fight the blasphemer who said 'I am God.'

Husayin is the first to be arrested in the West Bank for his religious views, said Tayseer Tamimi, the former chief Islamic judge in the area.

Husayin used a fake name on his English and Arabic-language blogs and Facebook pages. After his mother discovered articles on atheism on his computer, she canceled his Internet connection in hopes that he would change his mind.

Instead, he began going to an Internet cafe - a move that turned out to be a costly mistake. The owner, Ahmed Abu-Asal, said the blogger aroused suspicion by spending up to seven hours a day in a corner booth. After several months, a cafe worker snitched to Palestinian intelligence officials and supplied captured snapshots of his Facebook pages.

Husayin has not been charged but remains in detention, said Palestinian security spokesman Adnan Damiri.

Update: Apologies

9th December 2010. Based on article from thescotsman.scotsman.com

A Palestinian atheist jailed for more than a month for sharing his anti-Islamic views on the internet has apologised for offending Muslims.

A friend said Husayin posted the apology on his blog on 29 November with the hope that it would lead to his release. He posted the apology from a Palestinian military prison in the northern West Bank town of Qalqilya, his hometown.

He has yet to be charged, Palestinian military spokesman Ahmed Mubayad said yesterday. He hinted Husayin could be released in the coming days by saying: There'll be something positive.

Update: Support from France

20th December 2010. Based on article from google.com

Based on article from google.com

France flagFrance has said it was concerned about the arrest of a young Palestinian blogger jailed for posting blasphemous remarks online.

France is concerned by the risks of damage to fundamental freedoms and in particular the freedom of expression, contained in the 'crime of blasphemy', a foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

Freedom of religion and of conscience and freedom of expression... guarantee the right to have no religion and the right to express one's opinions without being harassed, she told reporter

 

14th November   

Update: A Charmed Life...

TV astrologer has witchcraft death sentence revoked in Saudi High Court
Link Here  full story: Witch Hunts...Witches still hunted even in modern times

AstrologySaudi Arabia's high court has rejected the execution sentence of a Lebanese TV astrologer unbelievably convicted of sorcery and recommended that he be deported after a new trial.

The Supreme Court in Riyadh said that the death sentence for Ali Sabat was not warranted because he had not harmed anyone and had no prior offenses in the country.

The court said his case should be sent back to a lower court in Medina to be retried and recommended that Sabat, who has spent 30 months in a Saudi prison since his May 2008 arrest, be deported, Okaz said.

Sabat was sentenced to death last November by a Medina court as astrology was considered as practicing witchcraft, illegal under Saudi Arabia's Sharia law. He was arrested by the religious police in Medina, where he was on a pilgrimage.

The case against him was brought after he gave advice and made predictions on Lebanese television, broadcast to Saudi Arabia via satellite.

 

13th November   

Update: Dangerous Books...

Kurt Westergaard publishes his autobiography
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

manden-bag-stregenThe autobiography of the Danish cartoonist who sparked Muslim outrage by depicting Mohammed with a bomb for a turban was quickly whisked off shelves by book buyers when it went on sale Friday.

In Denmark's western town of Aarhus, the autobiography of Kurt Westergaard had already sold out and book stores there were desperate for more copies, John Lykkegaard, the author and publisher of the book, said Friday evening.

Six thousand copies had been printed for the Friday release. Lykkegaard said 10,000 more copies would probably need to be printed early next week.

The book entitled Manden Bag Stregen (The Man Behind the Line) details the life of 75-year-old Westergaard, and also features a republished version of his controversial drawing that has earned him numerous death threats and assassination attempts.

The cover is adorned with the last caricature Westergaard published in Jyllands-Posten before retiring in June. That drawing features Westergaard riding a scraggy horse and carrying an oversized fountain pen and notebook, being pursued by a donkey carrying a weight with the words freedom of expression scrolled across it, topped with a live bomb and menacing clouds with the crescent moon of Islam lurking above.

 

13th November   

Update: Rappers Rap Whilst Politicians Kill...

Iran doesn't like what rappers are saying about it
Link Here

Az Khaneh Ta Goor Erfan Tehran's chief of police, Hossein Sajedi-Nia, has revealed the fate of young Iranians who are attracted to what he calls morally deviant music.

According to Tehran-Emrouz, an Iranian daily newspaper, he said that young Iranian men and women were arrested last week in a score of raids targeting the capital's underground rap scene. The rappers – both male and female – had apparently taken over vacant buildings in order to create what Iran's regime has depicted as degenerative, anti-Islamic music.

Across Iran, illicit house parties with smuggled alcohol, large amounts of cannabis, and booming Western music are the norm. Young Iranians believe it is a risk worth taking: As long as we are careful, one partygoer told me, as long as we know who our neighbours are, we can dance to whatever music we want. She is right. More often than not, the Iranian police have turned a blind eye to what Iranians do in the comfort of their own homes.

The regime can tolerate its youth intoxicated. But what it cannot abide is young Iranians actively subverting its authority. Iranian rap is not a direct emulation of what the regime deems messianic American rap; its lyrics often derive from the pain of living under the corruption and abuse of the Islamic Republic.

The establishment of the Islamic regime marked the exodus of talented Iranian musicians from the country. One famous Iranian rapper, Erfan, now lives in California. His lyrics are not about fast cars and money. And they are certainly not, as the Iranian government has suggested, sexually explicit.

In an explicit attack against the Regime, Erfan also wrote Tasmim (Resolution), after the June 2009 Green Movement protests in Iran. One line in particular echoes recent events: Every day you say our Iran is at fault, you say this but you beat and you kill. It is for lyrics like these that the young musicians have been arrested in Tehran.

 

13th November   

Updated: Siege Mentality...

Iraqi christians advised to leave Iraq
Link Here

Iraq flagA senior Iraqi Christian has called on believers to quit the country, after gunmen targeted a church in Baghdad.

Archbishop Athanasios Dawood, who is based in the UK, made his appeal during a service at the Syrian Orthodox Church in London.

The archbishop said Christians had been without protection since the US-led invasion in 2003.

At least 52 people died as security forces stormed a Catholic church in Baghdad to free dozens of hostages. A number of gunmen entered Our Lady of Salvation in the city's Karrada district during Mass on Sunday 31 October, sparking an hours-long stand-off.

The militants made contact with the authorities by mobile phone, demanding the release of al-Qaeda prisoners and also of a number of Muslim women they insisted were being held prisoner by the Coptic Church in Egypt.

After negotiations failed, Iraqi security forces stormed the building, before the gunmen reportedly threw grenades and detonated their suicide vests.

On Sunday, Archbishop Dawood advised all Christians to leave Iraq now al-Qaeda had warned of more attacks there.

Before the US-led invasion of Iraq, there were nearly one million Christians there enjoying some protection from Saddam Hussein. Since 2003, that number has dropped to about 300,000. Most of those that fled are now living in neighbouring countries.

Update: Continuing violence against christians

13th November 2010. Based on article from bbc.co.uk

A series of bomb and mortar attacks targeting Christian areas has killed at least five people in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

Six districts with strong Christian majorities were hit - more than 30 people have been injured. The attacks come days after Islamist militants seized a Catholic cathedral and more than 40 were killed.

The spate of attacks came as the ancient Christian communities here were agonising over whether to stay in Iraq or try to leave.

Since 2003, the Christian population - then estimated at somewhat less than a million - has dwindled to roughly half that size, following a number of bomb attacks on churches and abductions or killings of priests and other Christians.

The emigration has continued, and it would be surprising if it does not accelerate further, despite calls from Church and political leaders in Baghdad for Christians to remain.

The UN Security Council said it was appalled by and condemned in the strongest terms the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Iraq, which it said had deliberately targeted locations where civilians congregate .

The Islamic State of Iraq has claimed responsibility for the cathedral attack, saying it wanted to force the release of converts to Islam it claims are being detained by the Coptic Church in Egypt.

 

12th November   

Punishment Fit for a Prince...

Man sentenced to 500 lashes and 5 years in jail for consensual gay sex
Link Here

Saudi flagA Saudi man was sentenced to receive 500 lashes and serve five years in prison for engaging in consensual sex with another man--a crime under Islamic law. The 27-year-old man was also fined $13,300, reported Bloomberg.com. He also was convicted on additional charges of posting photos that showed him wearing women's undergarments.

Religious police placed the man under arrest, the Bloomberg article said.

Islamic law provides severe penalties for a range of behaviors associated with homosexuality, including cross-dressing.

 

12th November   

Sharia in the USA...

Oklahoma sharia law ban stayed by court
Link Here

Oklahoma state sealLast week Oklahomans overwhelmingly passed a ballot measure last week banning state courts from considering international or Islamic law when deciding cases.

The measure created all sorts of legal tangles, not the least of which were questions about its constitutionality.

A lawsuit was filed and now the measure might not get much further. A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order against the amendment, which was scheduled to go into effect last Tuesday.

The lawsuit was brought by Muneer Awad, head of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who complained that it constituted an official disapproval of his faith. His response to the judge's decision: We're satisfied, temporarily.

The Sharia ban's fate will be addressed at a Nov 22 hearing.

Update: More Time

1st December 2010. Based on article from islamophobia-watch.com

A federal judge in Oklahoma has issued an order putting on hold the certification of a ballot measure that forbids state courts from considering or using international laws, as well as Sharia, or Islamic law.

That permanent injunction will allow the judge more time to consider the constitutional issues raised by State Question 755, which was approved by voters earlier this month.

The language of her 15-page order indicated Miles-LaGrange has initial doubts about the constitutionality of the ballot measure. She said the case goes to the very foundation of our country, our Constitution, and particularly the Bill of Rights. Throughout the course of our country's history, the will of the 'majority' has on occasion conflicted with the constitutional rights of individuals.

 

11th November   

Update: Inciting Violence...

Man arrested for website encouraging attacks on MPs over Iraq war
Link Here  full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

roshonara choudhryPolice have arrested a man on suspicion of encouraging muslims to attack MPs.

The individual is thought to be involved with a website that praised the stabbing of the MP Stephen Timms and published a list of other MPs who voted for the war in Iraq, along with details of where to buy a knife.

West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit arrested the man and conducted a search of his home in the Dunstall area of Wolverhampton. Officers seized computer and electronic equipment, police said.

The man was being questioned under section one of the Terrorism Act 2006 on suspicion of encouraging an act of terrorism.

Detective Chief Inspector John Denley said: We are treating the contents and implications of this blog very seriously, and have taken action this morning to progress our investigation.

The website, Revolution Muslim, was hosted in Bellevue, Washington, and was taken down by the Americans at the request of the Home Office.

The website praised Roshonara Choudhry, who tried to stab Timms to death during a constituency surgery in Beckton, East London.

The website said: We ask Allah for her action to inspire Muslims to raise the knife of jihad against those who voted for the countless rapes, murders, pillages, and torture of Muslim civilians as a direct consequence of their vote.

The statement added: If you want to track an MP, you can find out their personal website after typing their name in this website.

A link on the website took the reader to the site of Tesco Direct for a £15 kitchen knife, similar to that used by Choudhry.

The site also featured videos and statements by Awlaki and by former members of al-Muhajiroun, Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri Mohammed.

Update: Charged

21st November 2010. See article from guardian.co.uk

A man appeared in court charged with soliciting murder and offences under the Terrorism Act in relation to a blog listing MPs it claimed voted for the Iraq war. Bilal Zaheer Ahmad, from Wolverhampton, was arrested last week over the blog, which allegedly called for action against the MPs.

The details appeared on a website that was said to have radicalised a young woman who went on to stab the former minister Stephen Timms during an advice surgery in east London in revenge for the Iraq war. Ahmad appeared handcuffed as he stood between two security officers in the dock at London's City of Westminster Magistrates' Court.

He was remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on 29 November.

 

10th November   

Update: A Problem with Modernity...

Pope welcomed to Barcelona with a gay kiss-in
Link Here

Queer KissingRoughly 100 gay and lesbian couples greeted the Pope on his visit to Barcelona with a collective kiss to protest against the Vatican's stance on sexual freedom, divorce and condom use.

This is a peaceful act of protest to demonstrate that love is the same in the hearts of everyone, said Jordi Petit, leader of the Catalonian activist group that organised the smooch fest.

Church attendance in Spain continues its steep decline. So it is not surprising that the Pope on Saturday declared Spain the epicentre of a battle between faith and modernity in Europe.

After waxing poetic on the relationship between beauty and religion, he took aim at Spain's abortion law, calling on the state to defend the life of a child from the moment of conception . He also registered a plea for state support of the traditional family. Generous love between a man and a woman is the efficient framework and basis of human life, he said.

 

10th November   

Religious Bulldozers...

Israel demolishes mosque sparking stone throwing protest
Link Here

Israel flagIsraeli police demolished an illegally built mosque in an Arab town, touching off rock-throwing protests and fuelling new grievances against the government by the country's Arab minority.

Police armed with clubs and shields surrounded the area as a bulldozer knocked down the mosque in the southern desert town of Rahat.

 

9th November   

The Islam Channel takes a Caning...

Ofcom unimpressed by wife beating advice
Link Here  full story: Ofcom vs Islam Channel...Islam Channel criticised for offensive preaching

The Islam Channel logoIslamiQa
The Islam Channel, 18 May 2008
Muslimah Dilemma
The Islam Channel, 12 April 2009
IslamiQa
The Islam Channel, 30 October 2009

The Islam Channel is a specialist religious channel that broadcasts on the Sky digital satellite platform and is directed at a largely Muslim audience in the UK. Its output ranges from religious instruction programmes to current affairs and documentary programmes.

In March 2010, the Quilliam Foundation, which describes itself as a “counter-extremism” think-tank, published a report De-programming British Muslims – (the Quilliam Report).

The Quilliam Report was an analysis of the output of a range of the Islam Channel's output over a number of months, looking in particular at various religious and political programmes broadcast in 2008 and 2009.

The Quilliam Report made a number of allegations about compliance of the Islam Channel with the Code. In Ofcom's view, some of these allegations raised potential issues under the Code as regards harm and offence. Ofcom therefore requested recordings of the relevant material relating to a small number of programmes. Having watched the output, Ofcom decided to investigate the three programmes in relation to harm and offence issues .

In these programmes the presenters and their guests all spoke in English.

IslamiQa is a phone-in programme where viewers pose the presenter questions, by telephone, asking for religious-based advice on a range of issues. In this particular programme, we noted a telephone call from a female caller asking:

If your husband is hitting you, do you have the right to hit him back?

As part of his response back to this caller, the presenter, Sheikh Abdul Majid Ali, gave the following advice:

And as far as the hitting is concerned, in Islam we have no right to hit the woman in a way that damages her eye or damages her tooth or damages her face or makes her ugly. Maximum what you can do, you can see the pen over here, in my hand, this kind of a stick can be used just to make her feel that you are not happy with her. That's the only maximum that you can do, just to make her understand. Otherwise your husband has no right to hit you that way and at the same time even if he has done that, may Allah forgive him.

Muslimah Dilemma is a discussion programme considering issues from an Islamic perspective. We noted that in this programme, the issue of sexual relations within marriage was discussed. We noted that during the programme, a guest, Nazreen Nawaz, who was being interviewed, made the following statements:

And really the idea that a woman cannot refuse her husband's [sexual] relations – this is not strange to a Muslim because it is part of maintaining that strong marriage. In fact it is a bit strange, the converse is strange. To refuse relations would harm a marriage.

But it shouldn't be such a big problem where the man feels he has to force himself upon the woman because the understanding should be created within the system through the implementation of all the laws of Islam, that…marriage is about seeking tranquillity, it's about harmony that should be in the mind of the man and the woman alike.

In another edition of IslamiQa the issue of women wearing perfume was discussed. We noted that during this programme, the presenter, Sheikh Abdul Majid Ali, received a telephone call from a female caller asking:

You know when you buy perfume, some have alcohol in it. Is it OK…when you pray while you have the cream on?

As part of his response back to this caller, the presenter gave the following advice:

But, when it comes to the woman using the perfume, then we have to be very, very careful. A woman is allowed to use perfume only for her husband. Woman – if she goes out, from her house – applying – wearing perfume. And even if she goes to the Masjid [mosque] to pray, and her smell of the perfume is smelt by the strangers. Non-Mahram. Opposite sex people. Then she is declared as a prostitute by Rasool Allah [the Prophet Mohammed].

Ofcom considered Rule 2.3 of the Code, which states: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.

Ofcom Decision: In breach of the code

IslamiQa re wife beating

Ofcom notes that at no point did the presenter clearly state on air that he did not condone or encourage violence towards women under any circumstances – which Islam Channel has informed Ofcom is its formal stance on this issue. Ofcom considered that the presenter did therefore give advice to viewers that it was permissible for a husband to physically punish his wife, even though according to the broadcaster it was to be only in certain circumstances, and undertaken with restraint, Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, Issue 169 8 November 2010 14 and even if the language used by the presenter could be perceived by some as relatively mild. In Ofcom.s opinion, the advocacy of any form of violence (however limited), as happened in this particular case, is not acceptable and would be offensive to many in the audience.

Ofcom considered that it was highly likely that any advocacy and support of any form of domestic violence would be offensive. This was particularly the case given that domestic violence is potentially criminal under UK law.9

The programme was therefore in breach of Rule 2.3.

Muslimah Dilemma re marital rape

We considered that the views expressed in the programme concerning marital relations might have suggested to many in the audience that it would be permissible for a husband to oblige his wife to have sexual relations against her will, whether or not he used some form of threat of violence. This would have had the potential to cause offence.

Further Ofcom considered that this offensive material could not be justified by the context. This was due the lack of any mediating or counteracting views within the programme to Nazreen Nawaz.s opinions on marital relations, and in particular the lack of any unequivocal condemnation of the view that a husband has the right to force a wife to have sexual relations against her will.

Ofcom was of the view that the broadcaster failed to apply generally accepted standards and that the offensive content referred to above could not be justified by the context. Ofcom considered that it was highly likely that any advocacy and support at all of forced sexual relations would be offensive. This was particularly the case given that forced sexual relations within marriage is potentially criminal under UK law.

The programme was therefore in breach of Rule 2.3.

IslamiQa re perfume

Ofcom remained of the view that the broadcaster failed to apply generally accepted standards and the offensive content referred to above could not be justified by the context. Ofcom considered that it would be likely that the labelling of a woman as a prostitute for the act of the wearing of perfume in various public places would be highly offensive.

Further Ofcom considered that this offensive material could not be justified by the context, because for example: of the lack of any mediating or counteracting views or comments to the presenter's remarks; and the fact that there was the potential for the term prostitute to be considered pejorative abuse rather than a comment grounded in religious teaching, given the lack of what appears to be clear theological backing for the remark from Islamic sacred texts.

We therefore considered that the programme was in breach of Rule 2.3.

 

9th November   

Update: Burning Issues...

ACLU to sue company denying free speech to Koran burning employee
Link Here

aclu logoThe American Civil Liberties Union is suing NJ Transit for firing an 11-year employee after he burned a Koran in a Ground Zero mosque protest in September, according to NJ.com.

On the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, then-NJ Transit employee Derek Fenton was photographed burning three pages of a Koran in front of the space where the proposed Ground Zero mosque will be built. Soon after, he was fired from NJ Transit for violating their 'ethics' codes.

The ACLU is saying that Fenton deserves his job back, as NJ Transit has infringed on his right to free speech, the website reports.

If you allow governments to censor one kind of speech, you open the door to censorship of all kinds of speech, Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the ACLU in New Jersey, told the site. Our individual right to free speech depends on everybody having it.

When the train line fired Fenton, it released a statement saying that, NJ Transit concluded that Mr. Fenton violated his trust as a state employee.

 

9th November   

A Miserable Portfolio...

Christian Brothers have a whinge at US cable and satellite companies
Link Here

christian brothers logoChristian Brothers Investment Services led a group of 220 other institutional investors to ask the United States' largest cable television and satellite TV providers to stop distributing on-demand pay-per-view pornography and to stop carrying adult channels that specialize in pornographic material.

Letters were sent Nov. 3 to Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision, which are, respectively, the first-, second- and fifth-largest cable companies in the United States and the three biggest publicly traded companies. Similar letters also went to DirecTV and Dish Network, the two principal U.S. satellite TV firms.

If a company cannot completely wean itself from porn, the letter said, then it should alert stockholders to the potentially significant legal and business risks that exist from carrying porn by including that information in the company's public disclosures.

Dan Nielsen, director of socially responsible investing for Christian Brothers Investment Services, outlined some of the risks to companies.

There's certainly the reputational risk, which is obviously very controversial in nature, Nielsen claimed: There are legal risks if the companies are caught distributing materials that are defined as obscene and therefore illegal, therefore risking alienation of the company's customer base. If a company has developed a reputation as a family-friendly company yet distributes porn, it is a test of the good will of the company, he added.

Calling pornography a $13 billion industry in the United States, the Christian Brothers letter said, We feel that as more people become concerned about pornography and the effects, both direct and indirect, it has on our society, greater scrutiny will be placed on those companies involved in its production and distribution. The costs for remaining involved in pornography will increase.

Among the 220 signatories are leading members of a host of dozens of men's and women's religious orders in the United States and elsewhere, but also representatives from other investment agents and the travel industry.

 

8th November   

Update: Concapa Crap...

Nutters get A Serbian Film banned in Spain
Link Here

a serbian film poster A Serbian film has been banned from public screenings in Spain following a provisional injunction by a court in San Sebastian.

The injunction was served to San Sebastian's Fantasy and Terror Film Week, four hours before A Serbian film was due to screen at the festival, forcing Film Week director Jose Luis Rebordinos to pull the film from the program.

Two more festivals in Spain -- in Molins de Rei and Malaga -- have followed suit.

The film played at October's Sitges Fantasy Fest, stirring a wide range of reactions. One was a request by Spain's Catholic Confederation of Family and Student Parents (Concapa) for the film to be yanked from San Sebastian's Terror Week -- a petition that appears to have prompted the temporary injunction. Concapa argued the film offended human dignity and the underage.

Currently the ban is temporary, the San Sebastian court still has to rule on a definitive prohibition.

 

8th November   

The Martyrs Brigade...

Iraqi church terrorists demanded 'release' of Egyptian converts to christianity
Link Here

iraq church victimThe attack by Islamic terrorists on the congregation of the Assyrian Our Lady of Deliverance Catholic church in central Baghdad, on October 31, resulted in killing of 52 catholic Assyrians, including two priests, 5 policemen, and wounding 75. 5 terrorists died either by detonating their explosive belts or being killed by the Iraqi security. The Martyrs Brigade of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), a Sunni militant umbrella group affiliated with al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The gunmen had reportedly told the authorities from inside the church through a mobile phone that in exchange for setting the hostages free, they demanded the release of two Egyptian Christian women they insisted were Muslims and were being held against their will as prisoners by the Coptic Church in Egypt. They gave the Coptic Church 48 hours to respond to their demands.

A communique and an audio-video released by ISI, posted on radical Islamic forums confirmed that hostage taking in the Assyrian Catholic church was in part an action directed against the Coptic church in Egypt.

In response to the call of Allah and the voice of the helpless women, Camelia Shehata and Wafaa Constantine and their sisters, held captive in the hands of the Cross Worshippers in Egypt, we, the suicide battalion of the Islamic State of Iraq have carried out this task. Our demands are simple and clear, our captive women in the hands of your Christian brethren in Egypt, in exchange for the Christians held by us in the Church.

The chilling voice on the audio-video threatened the Vatican to pressure them to release our captive sisters, or killing will reach all of you and [Coptic Pope] Shenouda will bring destruction to all the Christians of the region. The audio went on to say If you turn your churches into a prison for Muslim women, we will make them graveyards for you, threatening to kill the Assyrian hostages if the group's demand was not met.

Commenting on the Al-Qaida statements, Coptic activist Mark Ebeid said My heart bleeds when I think of the possibility that over one hundred and twenty innocent Iraqi Christian brethren who went to Church on Sunday to pray, would pay the price for handing over to the Muslim fundamentalist two innocent Coptic women who never became Muslims, but some Salafi Sheikhs in Egypt decided to spread this unfounded allegations and convinced thousand of Muslims of their fabrications. He added Besides, the Coptic church would have never delivered two of its children, who sought refuge within its walls, to the fundamentalists.

The audio ended by warning the Copts against not responding, otherwise, they would be opening the door to serious harm to Christians not only in Iraq, but also in Egypt, the Levant and other countries of the Middle East.

 

7th November   

Update: Pits of Humanity...

Execution for Iranian Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani postponed for the moment
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

Sakineh Mohammadi AshtianiA global public outcry followed news of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's impending execution on 3 November, which was reported on by all major media outlets. Tens of interviews took place with Mina Ahadi, Spokesperson of the International Committees against Stoning and Execution, Iran Solidarity Spokesperson Maryam Namazie, and other campaigners. Millions took immediate action worldwide by sending letters of protest to the Islamic Republic of Iran and other governments calling for immediate action. A number of governments, including the French, Italian, Swedish, and US and the European Parliament and European Union responded at once and demanded that her execution be stopped. There were a number of demonstrations on 2 November, including in Berlin, Brussels, London, Paris, Rome and Washington, DC.

Once again, the Islamic Republic of Iran clearly saw the widespread global reaction to its decision to execute Ms Ashtiani and did not go ahead with her execution.

Ashtiani's execution, however, is still imminent. This is clear from the Islamic Republic of Iran's response to protesting governments. The Committees have received reports that the highest court has sent the order for her execution to Tabriz prison; she could therefore be executed at any time.

The International Committees against Stoning and Execution salute protesting people worldwide that called for an end to Ms Ashtiani's execution. It is as a result of public outcry that Ashtiani is still alive today.

We ask that people continue their protests, exerting pressure on governments and the Islamic Republic of Iran and highlighting her situation until her execution is officially rescinded and she is released along with her son, Sajjad, her lawyer, Houtan Kian, and the two German journalists arrested on 10 October 2010.

 

5th November   

Shared Concerns...

YouTube remove Anwar al-Awlaki videos after they are linked with Yemen bombs and attempted murder of British MP
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YouTube logoUnder pressure from American and British officials, YouTube have removed from its site some of the hundreds of videos featuring calls to jihad by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born, Yemen-based cleric who has played an increasingly public role in inspiring violence directed at the West.

Last week, a British official pressed for the videos to be removed and a New York congressman, Anthony Weiner, sent YouTube a letter listing hundreds of videos featuring the cleric. The requests took on greater urgency after two powerful bombs hidden in cargo planes were intercepted en route from Yemen to Chicago on Friday, with the prime suspect being the Yemen-based group Awlaki is affiliated with, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

In an e-mail, Victoria Grand, a YouTube spokeswoman, said that the site had removed videos that violated the site's guidelines prohibiting dangerous or illegal activities such as bomb-making, hate speech, and incitement to commit violent acts, or came from accounts registered by a member of a designated foreign terrorist organization, or used to promote such a group's interests.

Grand said that Google, YouTube's owner, sought to balance freedom of expression with averting calls to violence. These are difficult issues, she wrote, and material that is brought to our attention is reviewed carefully. We will continue to remove all content that incites violence according to our policies. Material of a purely religious nature will remain on the site.

Britain's concern over Awlaki and his group rose sharply with two developments. A young woman who had embraced his cause and watched dozens of hours of his videos was sentenced to life in prison for the attempted murder in May of a prominent legislator, and a top official in the government of Prime Minister David Cameron announced that a member of the Yemeni Qaeda group had been arrested earlier in the year in a previously undisclosed bombing plot against the country.

 

4th November   

Cold Blooded Revenge...

Woman jailed for 15 years for attempted murder of MP who voted for Iraq war
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roshonara choudhryA radicalised murderous muslim was sentenced to life imprisonment for attempting to stab to death a former government minister for supporting the Iraq war. Roshonara Choudhry was jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years at the Old Bailey.

Choudhry, 21, was convicted on three charges after a short trial in which she ordered her defence team not to challenge the prosecution's case because she did not recognise the jurisdiction of the British court. The Old Bailey jury took just 14 minutes to return unanimous verdicts on the attempted murder charge and two counts of having an offensive weapon.

Mr Justice Cooke, sentencing Choudhry, said she would continue to be a danger to members of parliament for the foreseeable future: You said you ruined the rest of your life. You said it was worth it. You said you wanted to be a martyr.

If Choudhry had succeeded in killing Stephen Timms, she would have been given a whole-life sentence, meaning she would never have been released, Cooke added. You intended to kill in a political cause and to strike at those in government by doing so. You did so as a matter of deliberate decision-making, however skewed your reasons, from listening to those Muslims who incite such action on the internet, said the judge.

She had committed evil acts coolly and deliberately. You are an intelligent young lady who has absorbed immoral ideas and wrong patterns of thinking and attitudes. It is not only possible, but I also hope that you will come to understand the distorted nature of your thinking, the evil that you have done and planned to do, and repent of it, he said.

After the sentence was passed a group of men began shouting in the public gallery Allahu Akbar ( God is greatest ), British go to hell and Curse the judge.  A small demonstration also took place outside the court.

During the short trial, the court heard that Choudhry had smiled and pretended she was going to shake hands with Timms, her local MP, before plunging the knife twice into his stomach at his constituency surgery in east London on 14 May 2010. She was disarmed by the politician's assistant and held by a security guard.

When arrested she confessed to police that the stabbing was punishment and to get revenge for the people of Iraq , the Old Bailey heard.

Timms, Labour MP for East Ham, made a full recovery after the attack and gave evidence at the trial.

An Internet Connection

Based on article from telegraph.co.uk

After Roshonara Choudhry was convicted of attempted murder, it emerged that British-born Choudhry had been radicalised by watching internet videos of Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemen-based terrorist wanted over last week's parcel bomb plot to blow up aircraft.

Ministers were angry that the US failed to regulate American-based sites that hosted the extremist videos, including YouTube.

More than 5,000 postings featuring Awlaki's videos are available on YouTube. In one sermon, titled 44 Ways to Support Jihad, he tells followers: Jihad today is obligatory on every capable Muslim.

Baroness Neville-Jones, the security minister, called on President Barack Obama's administration to take down this hateful material in cases where servers were based in the US. She said websites that incite cold-blooded murder would categorically not be allowed in the UK .

Lady Neville-Jones was so concerned about the problem that she flew to Washington last week to insist on action during a speech at the influential Brookings Institute think tank. In private comments to the institute, obtained by The Daily Telegraph, she said: When you have incitement to murder, when you have people actively calling for the killing of their fellow citizens and when you have the means to stop that person doing so, then I believe we should act.

The Home Office confirmed that pressure was being put on the White House to remove the sermons. A spokesman for the US State Department would say only that it had significant legal authorities to act where activities on the internet pose a clear threat to the public .

A spokesman for YouTube said it was looking into the Awlaki videos and would remove all those which break our rules . He said the website had community guidelines that prohibit dangerous or illegal activities such as bomb-making, hate speech or incitement to commit specific and serious acts of violence .

A Facebook page set up in the name of Awlaki had been taken down last night.

 

4th November   

Trouble in Store...

Saudi recants on move to allow women to work as supermarket cashiers
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Saudi flagSaudi Arabia's clerics are doing a stellar job of undermining the government's attempts at softening the country's extremist image. A couple months back, the labor ministry moved to allow women to work as cashiers, but it is now reported that a fatwa has been issued against allowing the female kind behind the register at grocery stores.

The ruling from the Council of Senior Scholars explained, It is necessary to keep away from places where men congregate. Women should look for decent work that does not make it possible for them to attract men or be attracted by men.

As with most fatwas curtailing women's freedoms, it's built on rather peculiar reasoning. Male and female shoppers are generally allowed to mix at grocery stores -- but allowing a woman to scan a man's perishable goods apparently crosses into unacceptably titillating and tempting territory. Interestingly enough, some of the businesses that brought in female cashiers in recent months were careful to create separate checkout lines for men and women -- but it seems even that is considered too much of a threat.

 

2nd November   

Update: No Pride in Moscow...

Nutters rally against gay parades
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Russia flagA rally against gay parades, legalization of same-sex marriages and immorality propaganda gathered some 1,000 protesters on Bolotnaya Square in central Moscow.

The rally was organized by a number of Orthodox organizations and began with a prayer. Many people carried icons and signs reading We do not need gay parades! , A gay parade will never be held in Moscow , and others.

The rally followed the recent ruling of the European Court of Human Rights that Moscow's ban on gay pride marches is illegal.

Vladimir Khomyakov, a co-chairman of the Narodny Sobor (People's Gathering) Orthodox organization, said, Despite the stories about our belligerent homophobia, we have never urged and are not urging to destroy gay clubs and attack gays. We have come to claim that the ECHR ruling is a gross interference in Russia's domestic affairs and a violation of the Russian constitution and international law.

 

2nd November   

Update: Pits of Humanity...

Imminent execution for Iranian Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

Sakineh Mohammadi AshtianiMarch with us to save Sakineh from Paris to Brussels on 2 November 02 November 2010

We will be gathering at the Iranian embassy in Paris at 2pm (4 Avenue d'Iéna 75116 Paris) and marching to the european parliament in Brussels.

The authorities in Tehran have given the go ahead to Tabriz prison for the execution of Iran stoning case Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. It has been reported that she is to be executed this Wednesday 3 November.

We had previously reported that the casefile regarding the murder case of Ms Ashtiani's husband had been seized from her lawyer's office, Houtan Kian, and found missing from the prosecutor's Oskoo branch office so as to stitch Ms Ashtiani up with trumped up murder charges. [Another man has already served a prison sentence and is now free for her husband's murder.] Ms Ashtiani's son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, and her lawyer, Houtan Kian, have warned of the regime's plan to do so on many occasions. With the arrest of Ms Ashtiani's son and lawyer on 10 October and her not having had any visitation rights since 11 August and after fabricating a new case against her, the Human Rights Commission of the regime has announced that: according to the existing evidence, her guilt has been confirmed. In fact, the regime has created a new scenario in order to expedite her execution.

In other news, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh and Houtan Kian have been severely tortured in order to obtain confessions against Sakineh and themselves since their arrests on 10 October along with two German journalists. The initial interrogations by the Ministry of Intelligence have now been completed and the casefile sent to the National Prosecutor General and Judiciary Spokesperson, Mohsen-Ejehi, in Tehran rather than being handled in Tabriz. Their families are concerned for their wellbeing. When attempting to secure lawyers for the two, authorities have said that the two men did not need legal representation.

The International Committees against Stoning and Execution call on international bodies and the people of the world to come out in full force against the state-sponsored murder of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. Ms Ashtiani, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, Houtan Kian and the two German journalists must be immediately and unconditionally released.

 

1st November   

Offsite: A Bad Influence for Egypt...

Coptic Christians see al-Jazeera as divisive of Egypt
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Al Jazeera logoThe majority of Coptic Christians and liberal Muslims in Egypt believe that Fundamentalist sheikhs and their mass media have played a vital role in the latest wave of incitement against the Coptic Church, orchestrated by Egyptian State Security.

The Salafi television channels, airing their programs from Egypt, supported by their affiliated fundamentalist journalists and mosque imams, have engaged in a coordinated smear campaign against the Coptic Church and its Pope, designed to terrorize the Copts.

Newspapers and TV channels in Arab countries gave a wide platform for Islamists to join in the campaign. It was on Al-Jezeerah TV Channel on September 15 that the Islamist and ex-secretary general of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, Dr. Selim Al-Awah, accused the Pope of running a State within the Egyptian State and the church of having its own militia and of hiding weapons and ammunition obtained from Israel in monasteries and churches, preparing for a war against the Muslims, to divide Egypt and establish a so-called Coptic State.

Al-Awah also accused the church of abducting and torturing Christian converts to Islam in monasteries, to brainwash them back to Christianity. He warned that if the status of the Church remains as such, the country will burn and called on Muslims to go out in demonstrations as the only answer left to counteract the strength of the Church.

...Read the full article