Thursday, March 31, 2011

20th Century of Christian Martyrdom

Of Gods and Men, one of the most compelling religious films of the past 30 years, tells the story of the Trappists of Tibhirine, seven brave men who were murdered by Islamist extremists in 1996. Though it is not widely known, the 20th century produced more Christian martyrs than all of the preceding 19 centuries combined. The monks who are the subjects of this film were among the last to die for the faith in that terrible 100-year period.

These Trappists were transplanted Frenchmen, who had established themselves in a very simple monastery nestled in the Atlas Mountains of Algeria. They worked almost exclusively among the Muslims who inhabited the tiny towns and villages nearby. One of...READ MORE

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Quote of the Week - G.K. Chesteron

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried." --G. K. Chesterton

Superficial Commonality of Evangelicals and Orthodox

Two posts ago, I attempted to give a quick overview of some of the doctrinal underpinnings of Orthodox understandings of the Atonement. Whether or not I expressed it well, key to my discussion was the Orthodox attempt to hold several core theological beliefs together. First, Orthodox are committed to believing in the immutability of God. Secondly, Orthodox are committed to believing that Jesus Christ is "theanthropos," the "God-man." As a part of this belief, we also assert that Christ's two natures, human and divine, are each fully complete and unconfused with each other, such that he can be said to possess a complete divine nature, as the Father does, and a complete human nature, as Adam does, and not any sort of distorted admixture of the two. Third, Orthodox are committed to the invincibility and impassibility of the Divine Nature. That is, God is by nature not able to be harmed or to be caused to suffer. We believe that each of these beliefs can be found in the Scriptures, and that they were explicitly or implicitly a part of the original gospel proclamation of the Christian Church.

Evangelicals as a group believe many good and right things about God. Certainly, they are much better students of the Scriptures than are their liberal Protestant counterparts. Moreover, by some act of God's mercy, they also nearly universally uphold many of the doctrinal formulae which were promulgated by the ancient Ecumenical Councils, though they nearly always reject the authority of these councils themselves as binding upon their faith (inasmuch as they are even aware that the councils ever took place).

As such, I can say with confidence that Evangelicals as a block believe in the Holy Trinity, in the two natures of Christ, in God's omnipotence and in his omnipresence. Moreover, I think it would also be appropriate to say that Evangelicals believe in God's immutability, though this is an aspect of God that I have only rarely heard discussed in evangelical circles.

So I think that we can say that, on the surface of it, there is a great commonality between Orthodox and Evangelical believers on many central Christian teachings.

Nevertheless, while Evangelicals have many of the right words and ideas, they are often combined together in ways that the ancient Fathers explicitly rejected as heretical.

Perhaps the most common Evangelical confusion relates to something at the very center of the faith: the Incarnation. What does it mean when we say that the Son of God became a man? What does it mean when we say he has two natures?

Obviously, Evangelicals have the same words as we do about these doctrines, but what content do they fill their words with? Generally speaking, I find that most Evangelicals (including myself when I was one) do not understand phrases like "perfect God and perfect man" in the Orthodox manner. This is perhaps most clearly borne out in their language about the Atonement.

In referencing the Atonement, many Evangelicals speak about Christ's death culminating in "God being ripped from God." Using texts such as 2 Cor 5:21, wherein we read that the Father made Christ "to be sin, who knew no sin," and Hab 1:13, wherein we read that God's eyes are "too pure to look upon evil," they assert that the Father somehow "turned away" from his Son in his wrath toward the sin his Son was bearing, separating them and allowing his Son to go down to the dead.

However, in this view, we see something which is clearly not the Orthodoxy of the Fathers. To the Fathers, Christ is truly God. And to be truly God implies that one has the same nature or essence as God (i.e. the Father). But as we have already seen, Evangelical theology embraces many Orthodox doctrines about God, including for instance God's omnipresence and his inability to be harmed or killed. So what do we mean by the Incarnation? What do we mean by the death of Christ?

For Evangelicals, the answer seems to be that Christ, in the humiliation of his Incarnation, ceases to be God in the same way in which the Father is God. That is, Christ becomes truly localized and truly mortal without retaining the fullness of his divine nature, consubstantial to the Father's. Thus, whereas before the Incarnation, Christ is suspending the world with the Father and the Spirit by the power of his omnipresent Godhead, after the Incarnation, the Son ceases to hold the world in place and such duties fall entirely on the Father and the Spirit. Thus, the Son's essence changes in the Incarnation, what his divinity consists of changes, because the Evangelical probably cannot say that Christ, having become incarnate is still omnipresent and still upholding the universe with the Father and the Spirit. And even if he can say at the moment of Christ's Incarnation that he is still with the Father, the fact that he teaches that the Son and the Father are separated at the cross clearly reveals that the Incarnation has caused the Son to cease to have at least one property of divinity, because if he were still with the Father (and perichoretically "in" the Father), then he could not be "separated" from the Father.

I am in no way attempting to engage in a battle of ancient heresy name-calling. I can't stand it when Calvinists call virtually everyone they disagree with "Pelagians" for one reason or another, and I am similarly irritated by Orthodox and Catholics who engage in the same sort of thing. Nevertheless, I think it is important to point out that this Evangelical theology has much in common with the some of the worst elements of the ancient Monophysite heresy. That is, there is a failure to clearly distinguish Christ's natures, and this results in a sort of belief in the incarnate Christ as not God, but as a demigod. God cannot perish and God cannot cease to be in any place, because all places constantly have their being in him. If Jesus' divinity truly is the same divinity, "of one essence" with the divinity of the Father, then he cannot cease to be everywhere, and more than everywhere, he cannot cease to be in the Father just as the Father is in him.

Beyond this, this probable, latent Monophysitism in Evangelical theology challenges the ancient teaching on the immutability of God. If Christ is God in the same way that the Father is God, how can he give up his omnipresence, and, in the Atonement, his position "in" the Father and still remain of one essence or nature with the Father? The answer is that he cannot. Therefore, the best that the Evangelical who wishes to retain the "God ripped from God" narrative can say is that Christ is not of the same essence, but, like the extreme minority position at Nicea, that Christ has a "similar" essence to that of the Father. It is similar but not the same, for if it were the same it could not change, it could not cease to be everywhere, and it could not cease to be in the Father.

There are no doubt a number of other very important issues surrounding the Atonement and how Orthodox and Evangelicals understand it which I should write about, but this is probably long enough for one blog post, especially a post so very dense as this one. As a disclaimer to Evangelicals who I hope may read this, please know that it is not my intention to pleasure my sinful pride with triumphalism or to falsely exaggerate differences for some unholy end. It is my intention for you as it is for myself that we share in one true faith, worshiping the one Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who is revealed in the Holy Scriptures. There are in fact serious and wide divides between us, which I have alleged come from a common Evangelical misunderstanding of the nature of Christ's divinity. This misunderstanding gravely wounds Evangelical theology throughout a great portion of its content, as I may make plain in other posts if the Lord so blesses me with time and inspiration. The most important thing is that we be right about who God is. Everything else flows from that.

Grace in Jesus Christ,

Ignatius Edward Hunter

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Transgenders Suing NYC

At least three transgender people are suing the City of New York for discrimination because they cannot change the gender listed on their birth certificate. New York requires people to have sex change surgery and a subsequent psychiatric examination before it will alter birth certificates.

However, the plaintiffs say that many transgender cannot afford surgery and that "transitioning" with hormones or other treatment ought to be enough.

"We have an unemployment rate twice the national average and four times the national average of people who live on less than $10,000 a year," said Mara Keisling, of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "Part of the problem is people are less employable because they don't have IDs that match who they are. It's tied together in a cycle."

Other jurisdictions are more lenient, according to an AP story. "Washington state requires only a doctor's or psychologist's note attesting to "appropriate clinical treatment" to change the gender on a driver's license. Illinois agreed in 2009 to develop new standards for how much surgery is required before a person is eligible to switch the gender of a birth certificate. And the US State Department announced last year that transgender travelers no longer will need surgery -- just a doctor's certification of appropriate treatment -- to declare a new gender on a passport." ~ AP, March 22

Monday, March 28, 2011

Saudi Arabia Protests Followed by Arrests

(Human Rights Watch/IFEX) - New York, March 27, 2011 - Saudi Arabia should immediately release protesters and critics arrested and detained without charge over the past weeks, Human Rights Watch said today. More than 100 people have been arrested in the Qatif district, and about 45 in the al-Ahsa' district, both Shia population centers in the kingdom's Eastern Province. A smaller number of people have been arrested in Riyadh and Qasim governorates.

The arrests violate the rights to peaceful expression and assembly, Human Rights Watch said.

"While King Abdullah announces financial gifts to Saudi citizens, his police arrest those who want more meaningful change," said Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. "The scale of arrests has risen dramatically over the past two weeks."

Saudis have demanded political change in the wake of the popular uprisings that toppled the leaders in Tunisia and Egypt, but the government has not responded to the demands for a constitution and elected parliament, or the release of political prisoners. Instead, King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz on February 23, 2011, announced a $35 billion package of financial assistance to the unemployed and support for first-time home buyers. On March 18, he announced new assistance totalling $96 billion for similar measures, in addition to creating 60,000 new security sector jobs.

In early March, the Interior Ministry and the Council of Senior Religious Scholars publicly reiterated the government's ban on protests ahead of demonstrations for a Saudi "Day of Rage" that had been called for March 11. That day, hundreds of people demonstrated in the streets of Qatif and al-Ahsa', calling for the release of nine Shia men held for over 13 years without charge or trial, and dozens of people demonstrated in Riyadh, calling for the release of thousands of Sunni security suspects held without charge or trial, some for over seven years. Similar protests took place in the Eastern Province on March 17 and 18, and in Riyadh on March 20.

In front of the Interior Ministry in Riyadh, police detained Bahiya, Dana, and Badria al-Rashudi and held them for a day, two fellow activists told Human Rights Watch. They are the daughters of Sulaiman al-Rashudi, a 76-year-old former judge and reform advocate arrested in February 2007 and held for years before prosecutors charged him recently, a lawyer for another man arrested and imprisoned with al-Rashudi told Human Rights Watch. Al-Rashudi is prohibited from contacting his lawyers. The daughters were there to demand their father's release.

On the night of March 20, the authorities arrested Muhammad al-Bajadi at his home in Qasim province, a statement from the Saudi Association for Political and Civil Rights said and another activist confirmed. Al-Bajadi, a member of the association, which the government has refused an operating license, had supported families demonstrating at the Interior Ministry to demand their relatives' release. Mubarak bin Zu'air, a lawyer whose father, Sa'id bin Zu'air, and brother, Sa'd bin Sa'id bin Zu'air, have long been detained without charge by the country's domestic intelligence service, was also arrested, as was Abd al-'Aziz al-Qaffari, demonstrating for the release of his brother.

Professor Abd al-Karim al-Khadr told Human Rights Watch that on March 20 he went from his home in Qasim province to the Interior Ministry in Riyadh to inquire about his son, Thamir, a rights activist detained without charge since March 2010. Police there arrested his other son, 17-year-old Jihad. Al-Khadr did not hear from Jihad until early on March 25, when he briefly saw him at Riyadh's Ma'dhar Police Station. Officers there informed him that their superiors had prohibited communication with those arrested.

Saudi domestic intelligence forces, the Interior Ministry's Directorate for General Investigations (mabahith), which runs its own prisons, also arrested two Syrian nationals over the past month, apparently for their peaceful criticism of political conditions. On February 26, the mabahith arrested Bashar Mihriz 'Abud at his office in Riyadh, where he recently had started work as an editor of Mobily, the magazine of the mobile phone carrier of the same name, a Jeddah-based human rights activist told Human Rights Watch.

'Abud had worked for eight years as an editor for the prominent daily newspaper Okaz and continued to write for the publication. His most recent article, written shortly before his arrest, detailed the life of the Syrian filmmaker Umar Amiralay, who died on February 5. Amiralay had been a vocal activist for political change in Syria, signing petitions in 2000 and 2005 calling for an end to emergency rule and the release of political prisoners there. 'Abud's wife, now in Syria, told Human Rights Watch that she had received a call from her husband on March 19, saying he was in al-Ha'ir prison south of Riyadh, and that his interrogators had finished their investigation about his article.

On March 21, also in Riyadh, the mabahith arrested Dr. Ala' al-Rashi, owner of the Cultural Critic House, a Syrian publishing company. Saudi Arabia's Information and Culture Ministry had invited al-Rashi to this year's international book fair in February, where he had exhibited his publishing house's books. Professor Abdullah al-Hamid, a Saudi political reformer whose books are banned in Saudi Arabia, told Human Rights Watch that his books on Islamic norms and constitutional rule had been exhibited by al-Rashi at the book fair. Al-Rashi's wife confirmed this account to Human Rights Watch and said that government censors confiscated these books at the book fair, but did not indicate there would be further legal action against al-Rashi.

(. . .)

"By arresting its peaceful critics and refusing any talk of political reform, Saudi rulers are fast becoming the last hold-outs in a region yearning for democratic change," Wilcke said.

Click here to read the full press release.

For more information:

Human Rights Watch
350 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10118
hrwnyc (@)
Phone: +1 212 290 4700
Fax: +1 212 736 1300

Sharia-compliant Indices

The Stoxx Europe Islamic index and two blue-chip sub-indices, Stoxx Europe Islamic 50 and Euro Stoxx Islamic 50, will measure the performance of sharia-compliant companies selected from the Stoxx Europe 600 index.

Hartmut Graf, chief executive for Stoxx, said the indices were designed to act both as a benchmark for actively managed funds, and to underlie exchange-traded funds and other investable products that enable investors to participate in the performance of European companies that are adhere to the principles of Islam.

Sharia finance is based around sharing profit and loss and forbids the use of interest of profit derived from industries such as alcohol or gambling.

Read more here.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gaddafi Urges African Leaders to Come to His Aid

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has reportedly written to several African presidents requesting them to urge USA and its allies to stop their air strikes on his country.

Among those who have been written to are President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania.

Uganda’s press secretary, Tamale Mirundi said that he is not surprised about Gaddafi writing to his president Yoweri Museveni.

Said Tamale Mirundi: "President Museveni is not a pretender like other leaders. He is the only one who has come out openly to criticize foreign countries attacks on Libya. Since Museveni is influential and a trusted African leader, it is not surprising that Gaddafi writes to him for help."

Tanzanian government official, Robert Morobo has confirmed that Gaddafi wrote to Jakaya Kikwete.

United States, France and the United Kingdom, backed by the Arab League and some western countries launched air strikes on Libya over the weekend to enforce UN Security Council Resolution of 1973 to protect civilians.

Some African countries have condemned the attacks saying that those involved in the air strikes are simply interested in Libyan oil.

Source:  AfrikNews;  Related reading:  Gaddafi's Taureg Mercenaries

ACLU's Radical Roots

Dr. Paul Kengor, the political science professor, did some reding in the archives and found some interesting connections to Communism.

I often get asked why something I’ve found in communist archives from, say, the 1920s, pertains to America right now in the 21st century. Well, indeed, past is often prologue, as what happened a century ago is hardly irrelevant to today’s political stage.

That certainly seems the case with what I’ve found on the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), from its challenging of Christmas carols in public schools seven decades ago to its recent actions trying to compel Catholic hospitals to do abortions and denouncing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for opposing birth control and contraception in “health care” reform legislation. Few organizations have been as consistently radical in advancing abortion as the ACLU, to such a degree that Alan Sears and Craig Osten, authors of The ACLU vs. America, refer to “the ACLU’s crusade against the unborn child.”

How ironic that I would find the seeds of these things in communist archives or, even more directly, in the pro-communist or pro-Soviet writings of the ACLU’s founders.

On the founder of the ACLU: Roger Baldwin. To get a sense of where Baldwin stood on all of this, probably the single best source is his 1928 book, Liberty Under the Soviets. The title was no joke. This champion of American “liberties” and founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, was, like many ACLU founders and board members, alternately fascinated and enthralled with the Leninist-Stalinist state, having traveled there with other progressives in the hope that they had found the “new world.”…

This is the quite interesting, quite untold history of the founding of the ACLU, conveniently sunk into a historical-educational black hole.

Professor Kengor tried to submit the story to the New York Times, whose opinion page editor is a nice enough man to respond to him, although the answer was “No” and the editor didn’t elaborate about the ‘why not’.

This early connection of the ACLU to the Soviet legalization of abortion, which Baldwin called “a great advance,” helps explain the organization’s zeal for legal activism to uphold free and unfettered access to abortion at any time for anyone. But what’s hard to understand is why the ACLU hasn’t learned from Soviet Russia’s abortion access.

Within a decade, there were millions of abortions in the country. It got so bad that Joseph Stalin, a mass-murdering tyrant, was horrified — for pragmatic (not spiritual/moral) reasons — and temporarily banned abortion, given that entire future generations were being wiped out in the womb. Re-legalization took place under Nikita Khrushchev in the mid-1950s. By the 1970s, there were a staggering seven to eight million abortions per year in the U.S.S.R., with some five million-plus in Russia alone, according to official Soviet statistics. The very worst year for abortion in America, post-Roe, pales in comparison to the average year for abortion in the Soviet Union. It was a death culture that makes modern America look like a life culture. To the extent that Roger Baldwin, ACLU founder, supported that legalization, here was the bitter fruit.

So it’s not surprising that they join with Planned Parenthood in cases like the new law in South Dakota requiring that women have a real choice. Or any other case in which the ACLU comes down on the unreasonable side of the American liberty cause.

Thomas More Society’s amendment (HB 3156) to the Illinois Ambulatory Surgical Treatment Center Act will help prevent medical abuse against women during a crisis pregnancy…Thomas More Society attorney Peter Breen’s testimony aided an amendment to move toward a full vote by Illinois state representatives. This amendment, drafted by the Thomas More Society, will require abortion clinics to meet the same safety standards as all other outpatient surgical centers…

I thank the Illinois House Agriculture Committee for its efforts to close a loophole that traps women in unfettered abortion facilities. Women need the peace of mind that every surgical facility in Illinois plays by the rules,” says Breen. “I’m amazed that the ACLU found the time and money to print t-shirts mocking this committee for standing up for women’s rights, rights that require abortion facilities to match standards including licensing, a statutory number of scrub stations, and washable ceilings in the procedure and recovery rooms and ventilation. Why is the ACLU opposing sanitary medical facilities for women?”

Read the full article here.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Does Islam Justify Violence Against Christians?

My friend Chris Johnson thinks so.  He suggests that we "not judge a religion based on what it says when it is in the minority. Judge it by what it does when it can do anything it wants to:

Thousands of Christians have been forced to flee their homes in Western Ethiopia after Muslim extremists set fire to roughly 50 churches and dozens of Christian homes.

At least one Christian has been killed, many more have been injured and anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 have been displaced in the attacks that began March 2 after a Christian in the community of Asendabo was accused of desecrating the Koran.

The violence escalated to the point that federal police forces sent to the area two weeks ago were initially overwhelmed by the mobs. Government spokesman Shimelis Kemal told Voice of America police reinforcements had since restored order and 130 suspects had been arrested and charged with instigating religious hatred and violence.

This is the alleged “desecration.”

In the southern town of Moyale, a Christian was sentenced to three years in prison in November for allegedly writing “Jesus is the Lord” in a copy of the Koran, Compass Direct News reported. Christians from the area told the website he had actually written the phrase on a piece of cloth.

And then there’s this.

Additionally, two of his friends were fined for visiting him in prison and taking him food, Compass Direct reported.

Read it all here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Yemen: Al-Jazeera Closed; Journalists Beaten

CPJ/IFEX) - New York, March 24, 2011 - Yemeni authorities today ordered Al-Jazeera's offices shut and its journalists stripped of accreditation, escalating a week-long series of reprisals against the station that has included beatings, expulsions, raids, and death threats. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the government's decision to shut Al-Jazeera and urges authorities to reverse the order immediately.

Saeed Thabit, Al-Jazeera's Yemen bureau chief, said a Ministry of Information official informed him of the closure by phone but provided no specific reason. Abdu al-Gindi, Yemen's deputy minister of information, said in an Al-Jazeera interview that the station had turned into "a channel that incites revolutions." News accounts cited unnamed government sources as asserting that Al-Jazeera misidentified a short clip of prison violence as being from Yemen, a claim the station did not immediately address.

The station has been providing extensive coverage of the weeks-long popular uprising that has threatened President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year reign. The closing of the station's offices comes two days after about 20 plainclothes gunmen raided Al-Jazeera's Sana'a bureau. The gunmen, whose faces were obscured by head scarves, confiscated equipment and obstructed operations while uniformed police stood by and took no action, Al-Jazeera journalists said. On Saturday, authorities expelled two Al-Jazeera correspondents.

On Wednesday, government supporters attacked Al-Jazeera cameraman Mujib al-Suwailah as he filmed demonstrations in Ta'iz, Yemen's third-largest city, Thabit told CPJ. The assault was so severe that it broke al-Suwailah's arm, causing the radius bone to penetrate the skin. He underwent surgery today and remains in the hospital, Thabit said.

On Saturday, plainclothes men assaulted cameraman Walid al-Miqtari in front of the channel's Sana'a office, Thabit told CPJ. They kicked and punched him repeatedly, took his camera and identification papers, and threatened him with additional violence if he continued to report for the station. "You and the others at Al-Jazeera deserve to be slaughtered," the attackers told al-Miqtari.

Al-Jazeera employees have reported numerous death threats and threats of physical violence against themselves and their families. The latest threat was made by an anonymous caller to Ahmad al-Shalafi, one of the station's chief correspondents in Sana'a, and was directed at his children. "We are in hiding now, in various places throughout Yemen; we are not in our own homes. There are people looking for us and wishing to do us harm," Thabit told CPJ.

"The government and its supporters have engaged for two months now in escalating levels of obstruction, physical violence, and naked threats against journalists, particularly those working for Al-Jazeera." said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. "Those in positions of power in Yemen, particularly within the presidency and the interior ministry, will be held accountable for any harm that befalls our colleagues."

Immediately following the assault on Walid al-Miqtari, Thabit sent two letters to the Yemeni Ministry of the Interior. The first requested protection for Al-Jazeera's offices, and a second letter demanded the return of al-Miqtari's equipment and identification papers. The government did not respond, Thabit told CPJ.

Over a period of a few days in mid-March, Yemen expelled six other international journalists. The Yemeni Journalists' Syndicate has documented in excess of 60 individual attacks on media since the beginning of social unrest in January. They include a killing, abductions, dozens of physical assaults, confiscation of equipment, and scores of death threats against journalists and their families.

For more information:

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
info (@)
Phone: +1 212 465 1004
Fax: +1 212 465 9568

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Egypt: Two-in-One Revolution

Egypt, a country called typically Russian resort, is grasped by the so-called "date revolution." Interfax-Religion correspondent Yelena Verevkina asked renowned expert in Islam Alexander Ignatenko what is the role of Islamists in undermining foundations of this "beach paradise."

Alexander Alexandrovich, what is the role of Islamist underground in organizing disorders in Egypt?

- I think their role is not too significant as the things happening in Egypt, can be called revolution "two in one." On the one hand, it is a revolt of people who have been oppressed by gerontocratic corruption regimen, but on the other hand, it is so called "color revolution" that tries to use this people's impulse to redistribute power and property among elite groups of Egypt. Renowned activist Mohammed al Baradei is the leader of this second revolution.

As to Islamists, they have always been active in Egypt, but they are not playing a leading part in this revolution, here are different moving forces, different infantry. However, today they are in expectation as they have rich political experience. What are the reasons of this expectation? The reason for it is that any political group that will come to power in Egypt (for instance, people who stand for "color revolution") will have to deal with a complex of problems, very difficult, very old that have recently have become more acute, and they won't be able to settle all these problems. It is evident today that they are trying to conclude a kind of agreement, public or secret, with those forces that are trying to kindle this revolution or suppress it, with counterrevolution forces.

What are these forces? They are now trying to make an agreement with Mohammed al Baradei, but at the same time they do not exclude and even suggest a kind of alliance with militaries, with members of the top brass in Egypt. A kind of transitional government can be set up. It won't be a government of national accord or government of national salvation, it will certainly be transitional government where they can participate in this or that form together with militaries and organizers of the "color revolution."

- When you visit Egypt, you've got an impression that majority of its citizens are far from following Islam canons. How many Egyptians can really support "Muslim Brothers" and for what reasons - political or ideological?

- I can't say how many Egyptians can back up "Muslim Brothers." The question is different. Today, Egypt goes through a full-fledged revolution and absolutely different forces from "Muslim Brothers" (but we said they are not the main force) to criminals who have their own interest take part in it. It's not a fact that some Egyptians follow "Muslim Brother" or certain religious slogans. All these events have different organizers. It is not quite right to link this revolution to "Muslim Brothers" and Egyptians who are in sympathy with them.

-What do you think about such an expression as "Islamic democracy"? Is it viable?

- I have never used such an expression. Islam and democracy are incompatible things: you have to choose Islam or democracy.

- What do you think, the power will be gained by pro-Western forces Mohammed al Baradei or Iranian scenario is possible with a rollback to strict Islam?

- I think that Egypt will have such a regimen where the leading role is given to the army and Special Forces. I don't exclude that the United States and the European Union who demonstrated their interest in Egyptian events will strive to set up a pure democracy there as they won't be satisfied with coercion if the militaries block organizers of the "color revolution" and even "Muslim Brothers" who can also participate in political reforms. It's enough to say that they more than once were elected to the Egyptian parliament. I think that Pakistani experience, where military dictator Musharraf was thrown down and changed, not without US pressure, to "democratic government" shows that such replacements of state heads can lead to a negative result, when radical Islamist elements can try to seize power.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Boots on the Ground In Libya

We've seen Camp Lejuene marines in Iraq and Afghanistan and now they are joining the fight against Libya. 2200 marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, or 26th MEU will take part. Their mission is to help end the violence directed at the Libyan people.

"In Libya right now they are doing exactly what we need them to do. They are doing what they are told and right now that's protecting Libyan people against Qadhafi forces," said Captain Timothy Patrick, a marine with the 26th MEU.

A press release from the 26th MEU reads, in part:

"Protecting the innocent and conducting combined operations are what we are designed to do, our forces are doing both as part of the U.S commitment to protect Libyan citizens."

Patrick says that marines from the 26th MEU are coming on the end of their deployment. They will be replaced with marines from the 22nd MEU.

From here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Statisticians: "Religion" Becoming Extinct

A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers.

The study found a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation. The team's mathematical model attempts to account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one.

The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, US, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries.

The team took census data stretching back as far as a century from countries in which the census queried religious affiliation: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.

Nonlinear dynamics is invoked to explain a wide range of physical phenomena in which a number of factors play a part.

One of the team, Daniel Abrams of Northwestern University, put forth a similar model in 2003 to put a numerical basis behind the decline of lesser-spoken world languages.

At its heart is the competition between speakers of different languages, and the "utility" of speaking one instead of another.

"The idea is pretty simple," said Richard Wiener of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, and the University of Arizona.

"It posits that social groups that have more members are going to be more attractive to join, and it posits that social groups have a social status or utility.

"For example in languages, there can be greater utility or status in speaking Spanish instead of [the dying language] Quechuan in Peru, and similarly there's some kind of status or utility in being a member of a religion or not."

Some of the census data the team used date from the 19th century Dr Wiener continued: "In a large number of modern secular democracies, there's been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion; in the Netherlands the number was 40%, and the highest we saw was in the Czech Republic, where the number was 60%."

The team then applied their nonlinear dynamics model, adjusting parameters for the relative social and utilitarian merits of membership of the "non-religious" category.

They found, in a study published online, that those parameters were similar across all the countries studied, suggesting that similar behaviour drives the mathematics in all of them.

And in all the countries, the indications were that religion was headed toward extinction.

However, Dr Wiener told the conference that the team was working to update the model with a "network structure" more representative of the one at work in the world.

"Obviously we don't really believe this is the network structure of a modern society, where each person is influenced equally by all the other people in society," he said.

Read the rest of this nonsense here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Raymond Davis Has Left Pakistan

An undated family photo provided by Rebecca Davis of Raymond Davis, 36. Raymond Davis, who shot and killed two Pakistani men, was released from Pakistan prison Wednesday, March 16, 2011 and left Pakistan after more than $2 million was paid to his victims' families, defusing a dispute that threatened an alliance vital to defeating al-Qaida and ending the Afghan war. — AP Photo

LAHORE: A court on Saturday released the detailed judgment in Raymond Davis case.

The text of the judgment states:

“The case is fixed for framing of charge as copies of all the documents stand delivered to the accused on 25.02.2011 and remaining copies of the documents at the request of the accused were delivered to him on 08.03.2011 both in English as well as Urdu.

“It has been argued by the learned defence counsel that honourable Lahore High Court has remanded the matter at the question of immunity of the accused being Foreign Diplomats to be decided by this court but no such order of the Honourable Lahore High court, Lahore, has been placed on the file through which the accused may have been allowed the immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of this court and on the other hand, Mr Abdul Samad, learned Additional Prosecutor General, has placed on the file a copy of written reply made by Federal Government to the Honourable Lahore High Court, Lahore on 14.03.2011.

“It showed that accused has not been declared immune from the criminal jurisdiction of this court by the Honourable Lahore High court, Lahore, or by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad, and as such the trial against the accused as held earlier vide order dated 03.03.2011 is to commence.

“There is sufficient material on the file to proceed against the accused with the trial of the case u/s 302 PPC. He does not plead guilty but claim to be tried and charge against him u/s 302 PPC is accordingly separately framed.

“Two separate petitions have been made by the complainant Imran Haider while present in the court through his learned counsel Raja Muhammad Irshad Advocate Supreme Court assisted by Sardar Shabbir Hussain Advocate, at which the complainant has been summoned who is present in the court and he acknowledges both the petitions made for compromise and accordingly superintendent Jail Mr Mushtaq Ahmad is directed to summon the legal heirs of the deceased who were reported to be present outside the jail. Be put up after ten minutes.

“Legal heirs of the deceased Faizan Haider namely Mst. Parveen Akhtar, Zahara Shahzad, Imran Haider, Usman Haider, Salman Haider, Mst Nazia Bibi, Mst Asia, Mst Zil-e-Humma, Mst Shazia, Mst Saima have appeared and made statements that they have received their respective shares from amount of Badl-e-Sulah total amount of Rs Ten Crore on behalf of accused Raymond Allen Davis and they waive their right of Qisas against the accused and have no objection if the accused is acquitted of the charge. Their affidavits are Mark-A to Mark-K/2 respectively. They further stated that they have made the statements without influence, duress, coercion and pressure or any threat.

“Similarly, legal heirs of deceased Faheem Shamshad namely Shahshad Ali, Mst Haleema Begum, Muhammad Saleem Shamshad, Muhammad Waseem Shamshad, Muhammad Jamshed, Muhammad Akram Mst Nazia and Mst Mumtaz have also appeared with their affidavits Mark-A to Mark-H respectively and voluntarily have stated that they have received their respective shares from total amount under Badl-e-Sulah, Rs Ten Crore on behalf of accused Raymond Allen Davis and they waive their right of Qisas against the accused and have no objection if the accused is acquitted of the charge. Their affidavits are Mark-A to mark-H respectively. They further stated that they have made the statements without influence, duress, coercion and pressure of any threat.

“Accused Raymond Allen Davis was charge-sheeted u/s 302 PPC at the murders of Faizan Haider and Muhammad Faheem Shamshad and after framing of charge, legal heirs of both the deceased have put their appearance and got recorded their separate statements and stated by unequivocal terms that they have received amount of Badl-e-Sulah as per their shares and waive their right of Qisas and compounded the offence with the accused and have no objection if he is acquitted of the charge. They made their statements voluntarily, without duress or influence from any corner and each family of the deceased included the legal heirs have received an amount of rupees Ten Crore as Badl-e-Sulah much in excess to the amount of Diyat which hardly was rupees Twenty Nine Lac for each deceased. The court is satisfied that the legal heirs have made their statements voluntarily and without coercion.

“There is no evidence on the file u/s 311 PPC against the accused. Even the report u/s 173 Cr.P.C. is silent as to attract the provision of section 311 PPC regarding commission of Fasad-fil-Arz as the past conduct and previous conviction of the accused does not stand mentioned and even there is no mention in the report u/s 173 Cr.P.C. that the accused can be considered a potential danger to the community. There are some photographs of some sensitive places but the recovery of the same is not proved by any independent evidence.

“The offence u/s 302 PPC is compoundable as enshrined by the injunction of Islam and law of the land. As per compounding statements of the legal heirs of both the deceased having waived their right of Qisas and compounded the offence in lieu of payment of amount of Badl-e-Sulah of rupees Ten Crore by each family have no option but to accept the application made the complainant of the case who happened to be also one of the legal heirs of the deceased Faizan Haider and I acquit the accused of the charge against him u/s 302 PPC while proceeding u/s 345 Cr.P.C read with section 310 PPC, subject to depositing of amount of Diyat Rs. 395,375/- to be payable to the legal heirs of Mst Shumaila Faheem (since expired during pendency of the case). He is in jail, be released, if not required in any other case. File be consigned to the record room after completion.”Muhammad Yousaf Aujla Addl. Sessions Judge Camp at central Jail, Lahore.—APP

Related reading:  Raynond Davis, Political Prisioner; 45 Arrested for Having Links to Davis

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Yemen: More than 50 Attacks on Journalists

CPJ/IFEX) - New York, March 18, 2011 - One journalist was fatally shot and another wounded in Sana'a today when Yemeni security forces used live ammunition to disperse demonstrators from a central protest area, killing dozens of people. The death of photographer Jamal al-Sharaabi is the first confirmed media fatality in Yemen since political unrest began in January, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Al-Sharaabi, a photojournalist for the independent weekly Al-Masdar, was among 44 individuals killed by security forces who opened fire on a demonstration against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year-long rule, local media and the Yemeni Journalists' Syndicate (YJS) reported. Most of the victims were shot in the head or the neck, according to local media. New accounts described at least some of the gunmen as snipers.

Several hundred more civilians were wounded by security forces' fire at the demonstration site in a square outside the main entrance to Sana'a University, news reports said. Among them was a photojournalist, working for the BBC Arabic service, who was shot in the shoulder, the BBC reported. The photojournalist was not identified by name.

"We extend our condolences to the family and colleagues of Jamal al-Sharaabi, who was killed today as he performed his professional duties," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. "This killing comes on the heels of many weeks of increasingly hostile rhetoric and violent reprisals against independent and critical media."

The Yemeni Journalists' Syndicate has documented more than 50 separate attacks on journalists since political unrest began in January. The attacks include abductions, assaults, confiscation of equipment, and threats of violence against journalists and their families.

For more information:

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
info (@)
Phone: +1 212 465 1004
Fax: +1 212 465 9568

Friday, March 18, 2011

Disgraced Libyan Cloner to Discuss Collaboration

There is even a bioethics angle to the conflict in Libya. Disgraced Korean cloner Hwang Woo-Suk travelled to Libya on February 10 to discuss a US$135 million collaboration with the government. According to Yonhap news, Hwang has travelled there around 10 times since 2004 and was given a retainer of just under $850,000 for collaborating on stem cell research on incurable diseases. The present deal was supposed to include a research center in Libya and the relocation of Hwang's cloning-related technology. The Libyan uprising reveals how failed statess are often get seduced by profitability of science, while basic human needs go unmet.

According to the Chosun Ilbo, Hwang was to sign a collaborative agreement with DANA Bioscience and Medical Service, a company recently set up by Libya. However this month's war has probably put the whole project in jeopardy. Reporters spotted Hwang at the Tripoli airport amongst a group of 198 people being evacuated by the Korean government.

But what was he doing there anyway? His presence suggests that Libya is (or was) trying to develop expertise in stem cell research. Abbas Rattani, of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, explains why so many small countries are interested in the field:

"In a global world where the scientific advancements of developing countries are overall incomparable to nations such as the United States, many countries see scientific research as an excellent opportunity to attract publicity and/or establish a presence in the Western-dominated scientific environment...

"[S]tem cell research has become a lucrative endeavor for many, and a new avenue for proving one's scientific prowess. Countries that are lagging behind in scientific innovation and development may resort to supporting questionable treatments and research as an attempt to establish themselves as the "epicenter of stem cell research" in order to compete with similar institutions in prominent developed nations." ~ Bioethics Bulletin, March 16; Nature, Mar 1

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Quote of the Week - Bishop J.C. Ryle

"Having Faith in the Actual, Living Christ. A true believer's religion does not consist in mere intellectual assent to a certain set of propositions and doctrines. It is not a mere cold belief of a certain set of truths and facts concerning Christ. It consists in union, communion, and fellowship with an actual living Person, Jesus the Son of God. It is a life of faith in Jesus, confidence in Jesus, leaning on Jesus, drawing out of the fullness of Jesus, speaking to Jesus, working for Jesus, loving Jesus, and waiting for Jesus to come again." --- Bishop J.C. Ryle

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bahrain: Reprisals Against Journalists

(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, March 15, 2011 - Armed assailants stormed the Manama printing facility of the Bahraini independent daily Al-Wasat early this morning, damaging the press and hindering production of today's edition. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the attack, which comes just as military contingents from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been enlisted to help contain political unrest in the kingdom.

In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, the government withdrew the accreditation of Ulf Laessing, a senior Reuters correspondent based in Riyadh, the news agency reported today. The government asserted that Laessing's coverage of a recent protest in that country was inaccurate, but it provided no details and Reuters stood by the reporting. The withdrawal of the accreditation requires Laessing to leave the country, Reuters said. Earlier this month, Saudi authorities indefinitely banned three critical columnists for the government-controlled daily Al-Watan. Authorities did not cite a reason, although columnists Amal Zahid, Ameera Khashghari, and Adwan al-Ahmari had written about political unrest in the region, according to CPJ research.

In Bahrain, where pro-reform demonstrations have been staged by Shiite majority protesters for several weeks, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa declared a three-month state of emergency today, according to news reports. On Monday, about 1,000 Saudi and 500 UAE troops entered Bahrain at the king's behest, according to news reports, a move that heightened regional tensions.

Around 1 a.m. today, dozens of men armed with knives and clubs stormed the printing facility of the daily Al-Wasat, said Mansour al-Jamri, the paper's editor-in-chief. The assailants forced their way into the facility, threatened employees who were preparing to print today's paper, and then damaged the press to make it inoperable, al-Jamri told CPJ. He said the newspaper contacted the Ministry of Interior, which dispatched security forces to disperse the mob. Another Bahraini newspaper, Al-Ayam, agreed to print today's edition of Al-Wasat.

"We condemn this attempt at censorship through mob violence and intimidation," said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. "The government of Bahrain is responsible for the safety of journalists and the physical security of media installations. The authorities must prosecute all behind this assault on Al-Wasat."

Al-Jamri said some of the assailants remained outside the newspaper's premises later today in an apparent intimidation effort. Government supporters have been harassing Al-Wasat press employees for the past several days, according to news reports and a CPJ source.

Al-Jamri told CPJ his newspaper has been targeted for reprisal in connection with its coverage of the political demonstrations. On Sunday, Al-Wasat photographer Mohammed al-Mukharaq was beaten by pro-government supporters. And a number of Al-Wasat journalists, including al-Jamri, were named in an anonymously authored "Bahrain list of dishonor" that has circulated widely online.

For more information:

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
info (@)
Phone: +1 212 465 1004
Fax: +1 212 465 9568

Muslims Request Europe's Empty Churches

Rome - A Muslim group has asked to use the empty churches in France for Muslims to pray in, solving (at the expense of Christians) the traffic problems caused by Muslims who pray in the streets. Fr. Khalial Samir Samir, an expert scholar of Islam, reflects on the embarrassing proposal, calling for Islam in Europe to become more "European" and less "Arab".

In a press release published Friday, March 11, 2011, the "Banlieuses Respect " Collective asked authorities in charge of organization of the Church of France, to place at Muslims’ disposal "empty churches for Friday prayers". Hassan M. Ben Barek, a spokesman for the Collective, said the measure would "prevent Muslims from having to pray on the streets" and being "politicians’ hostages”.

In fact, for several years now, every Friday, alongside dozens of mosques in France, Muslims have blocked the surrounding streets for an hour or two, spreading mats on the roads to pray. In many cases, local authorities close their eyes to this offense, and in some cases the police are there to ensure the safety of those who block the streets. This situation is on the rise in France (for example, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier. Montreuil, Nice, Paris, Puteaux, Strasbourg, Torcy ...). A situation that is found all over the world (Athens, Brussels, Birmingham, Cordova, Moscow, New York ...) and also in Italy (Albenga, Canicattì, Como, Gallarate, Milan, Modena, Moncalieri, Naples, Rome ...). In the Muslim world this phenomenon is present, especially in Egypt. On 10 December, in Lyon, Marine Le Pen (National Front) denounced the Muslims "street prayers", which led to negative reactions towards the Muslim community in France.

Read it all here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Journalists Beaten in Bahrain. Expelled from Yemen

(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, March 14, 2011 - Authorities in Yemen and Bahrain are continuing to obstruct news coverage of ongoing political unrest, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today as it called on the two government to allow journalists to work without reprisal. In Yemen, at least six international journalists were expelled since Saturday, according to news reports and CPJ interviews. In Bahrain, security forces and plainclothes men attacked an Al-Wasat photojournalist covering a demonstration in the capital, Manama.

Yemeni security forces today raided a Sana'a apartment shared by four international journalists, The New York Times reported. The Times identified the journalists as Oliver Holmes, a contributor to The Wall Street Journal and Time magazine; Haley Sweetland Edwards, a contributor to the Los Angeles Times; Joshua Maricish, a photographer; and Portia Walker, a contributor to The Washington Post. The four were brought before immigration authorities who ordered their expulsion for "national security reasons." The Times identified Holmes and Walker as British, Maricish and Edwards as American.

"I'm positive that this is related to the fact that all four of us have been reporting about the upswing of violence against protesters," Holmes told the Times by phone from the airport. Edwards said their expulsion was a clear indication that the crackdown against protesters will intensify "and there's no one here who's going to see it."

Reporter Patrick Symmes and photographer Marco Di Lauro, on assignment for Outside, a U.S.-based travel and adventure magazine, were detained Saturday by security agents, Symmes told CPJ. Although they had press visas, they were put on a flight to Istanbul. "It is obvious that we are being expelled simply to prevent the chance that we are in any way capable of learning what is happening in Sana'a," Symmes told CPJ in an e-mail. Symmes said they were working on a travel article and had repeatedly emphasized to authorities that "we have not asked to cover demonstrations, and have not done so."

Government supporters continue to intimidate local reporters. On Saturday, a group of about 20 people believed to be government supporters went to the Journalists Syndicate in Sana'a and threatened to burn it down, according to two local journalists and an item posted on the syndicate's website.

"We are alarmed by the expulsion of foreign journalists and fear that it may be the prelude to intensified repression of local journalists seeking to cover the protests in Yemen," said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. "We call on the authorities to revoke these expulsions and allow all journalists to work freely."

In Bahrain, security forces and men in plain clothes beat Mohammed al-Mukharaq, a photographer working for the independent daily Al-Wasat, according to news reports and local journalists. Mukharaq, wearing a vest that carried the name of his newspaper, told CPJ he was covering a demonstration on Sunday in Manama when a group of 20 or more men approached, beat him, crushed his camera and mobile phone. Mukharaq said he suffered extensive bruising.

Local journalists told CPJ that a list called the "Bahrain list of dishonor," is circulating online and identifying 25 people as "collaborators aiming to sell their country." The author is unclear. CPJ, which reviewed the list, found the names of at least nine critical journalists, including Mansour al-Jamri, editor-in-chief of Al-Wasat; Abduljalil Alsingace, a Bahraini blogger and human rights activist; Ali Abdel Imam, a Bahraini blogger; and Qasem Hussein, a critical columnist. One journalist whose name appears on the list told CPJ: "I don't feel safe anymore. I'm receiving threats via phone telling me that they will stab me in the back and my name is also on the list." The journalist asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal.

"Reports of the existence of a 'Bahrain list of dishonor' are deeply troubling," CPJ's Mahoney said. "The authorities must condemn this list and ensure the safety of all journalists."

For more information:

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
info (@)
Phone: +1 212 465 1004
Fax: +1 212 465 9568

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Eugenics Wearing a New Face

Ten years ago, in February 2001, to great fanfare, the draft human genome sequence was published. US President Bill Clinton had celebrated the completion of the project the year before as if man had just landed on Mars: “Genome science will have a real impact on all our lives — and even more, on the lives of our children. It will revolutionize the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of most, if not all, human diseases.”

That was the hype. The reality is impressive, but hardly revolutionary. As Nature commented in its editorial for the occasion, “the complexity of post-genome biology has dashed early hopes that this trickle of therapies would rapidly become a flood.”

Scientists are acutely aware of the gap between promise and performance. The battle against common diseases still has not advanced much, because so many genes are involved. But somehow their battle-weary scepticism has failed to filter down to the science-dazzled public.

Biopolitical Times, an excellent blog based in California, has taken to running a brief feature called “gene of the week”. These are based on press releases from scientists (normally social scientists) proposing correlations between genes and personality types.

There is the “slut gene” which disposes people to one-night stands, a gene for being in a gang, an early-loss-of-virginity gene. There’s a "ruthless dictator gene”; there are two genes which predispose you to vote; there are genes which dispose you to vote Democrat. There are genes for victimhood, shyness and being a picky eater.

However absurd these sound, they send a serious message. They demonstrate that there is a hunger to believe that we are genetically determined. And wherever there is a hunger to believe, there are people ready to feed that belief.

It comes as no surprise that a Singapore company is marketing a genetic test to anxious parents which promises to test for 68 genes ranging from “Propensity for Teenage Romance Gene” to an “Explosive Power Gene”? (US$$8,871 worth of tests for a one-time-only price of $1,397!)

It’s impossible to know how many people were gullible enough to take the bait for this product. But I suspect that some people have a gene for belief in genetic determinism whose effects are magnified by higher education.

Take this incredible case from New York. A Federal District Court judge in Albany sentenced a man based on an as-yet-undiscovered gene. He spurned reports that a man convicted of possessing child pornography was “at a low to moderate risk to reoffend”. The man clearly had a child-porn-viewing gene which no scientist had ever heard of.

The judge told the defendant, “It is a gene you were born with. And it’s not a gene you can get rid of”. Nor did Judge Sharpe need evidence -- because he was sure that it would be discovered within 50 years. “You are what you’re born with. And that’s the only explanation for what I see here,” the judge said. (The sentence was successfully appealed.)

This speaks volumes about the magical power of genetics to subvert common sense. The belief that all behaviour is genetically determined has obviously sunk deeply into the public consciousness. Using the word “eugenics” has become taboo; believing in eugenics is widespread.

And even amongst bioethicists.

Julian Savulescu, an Australian who is currently a professor of practical ethics at Oxford, recently declared that parents are morally obliged to genetically engineer their children so that they will have higher IQs. "There are other ethical principles which should govern reproduction, such as the public interest," he said. This policy would reduce welfare dependency, crowding in jails, school dropout rates and poverty. "Cheaper, efficient whole genome analysis makes it a real possibility in the near future."

Anyone who thinks that eugenics is dead and buried with the Nazi regime is deluding himself. Eugenics has clawed its way out of the grave and is being rehabilitated.

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Century of Marxist Feminism and no Real Gains

It is International Women’s Day and we are almost finished marking it Down Under. This morning the New Zealand Herald ran an opinion piece from the British newspaper the Observer as its gesture towards the occasion. As the writer complained, people (especially the men who still control most of the world’s media) tend to be apathetic towards this annual celebration of what women have achieved and heads-up about what still needs to be done for the fair sex.

I must say that I felt a yawn coming on myself when it dawned on me what day it was, even after realising it was the 100th such event and therefore particularly significant. The next feeling was impatience. After more than four decades of second wave feminism, women in countries like mine really are mistresses of their own destiny, and if they are working the double shift, or bringing up a child alone, or being subjected to gender violence, it is very likely their own fault. Yes it is.

Then anger. Women were supposed to bring their unique values to public life and transform our societies into better places. Instead, in too many instances, we have sold ourselves short, debasing our sexuality, depriving children of fathers and a proper home life and even agreeing to the killing of unborn children as a way of burying our mistakes. Men could not have come as far adrift from family life unless we had let them.

In New Zealand five years ago 30 per cent of households with children were headed by single mothers. The figure is probably higher now. In the United States in 2008 out-of-wedlock births passed the 40 per cent mark. Many of these mothers were cohabiting with the father, but such relationships have proved unstable and very likely to break down. To the great disadvantage of the children -- especially girls, to be quite feminist about it.

Women have proved that they have brains -- they now outnumber men in graduating from universities in the developed world. They have shown that they can do a wide range of demanding jobs and that they can look after themselves financially. All good. What they have yet to show is how their education and earning capacity can be combined successfully with the one career that is exclusively theirs: motherhood.

This essential vocation and service remains the aspiration of the vast majority of women -- as does marriage, without which motherhood is a burden to the woman and an insufficient support to the child. Yet, as research by the US National Marriage Project has shown, the erosion of marriage has penetrated far into the middle ranks of society. There are several reasons for this -- economic, cultural and civic -- but one of them is surely feminism’s antagonism to the family as a “patriarchal” institution and its insistence on female independence as a lifelong state.

It’s thanks to this ideological stance that we still have Ministers of Women’s Affairs, their bureaucracies and their international Big Sisters pushing for gender equality policies which assume that husbands and wives -- or domestic partners -- should each do exactly half of both childcare and domestic chores and half of the paid work to support a household. Research has shown that this is not what women with young children want.

If women want to have the choice to be wives and mothers in anything more than a nominal sense, it is time to knock this sort of nonsense on the head. Whatever good feminism was going to do has been done; now it is time to tidy up the house and start living again.

But what of the developing world? Don’t women there still need Michelle Bachelet and her new improved, half-billion-dollar UN Women organisation? It is true that women in the poorer countries are at an even greater disadvantage than men when it comes to education, personal safety and economic opportunity. There is still much to be done to recognise the equal human dignity and rights of women and to give them concrete expression.

But the developed nations, with their tenuous grasp on what constitutes the dignity of women and on the relationships that underpin a healthy society, are a poor model. Ms Bachelet has complained that the money for her work is not coming through. Good. I would not give UN Women or any women’s organisation another cent until it can show that it understands the importance of marriage and motherhood. In that order.

When we have found a few more of those, it will be time to celebrate International Women’s Day with enthusiasm.

Carolyn Moynihan is deputy editor of MercatorNet.

Related reading:  Alice C. Linsley, The Paradox of Feminism

Friday, March 11, 2011

More than 7 Journalists Missing in Libya

(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, March 10, 2011 - At least seven journalists covering the conflict in Libya are unaccounted for, according to research by the Committee to Protect Journalists, which expressed deep concern today about their well-being. The most recent to go missing is Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, a correspondent for London's Guardian newspaper, whose disappearance was reported today.

Also, on Wednesday, three BBC journalists recounted a harrowing 21 hours in the custody of Libyan military and security forces this week, during which they were subjected to physical assault and psychological torment. The three, along with their driver, were detained at a checkpoint in Al-Zahra, south of the contested city of Zawiya.

"The abuse inflicted on international journalists raises serious concern about the welfare of Libyan journalists unaccounted for since the start of the conflict," said CPJ's Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. "We call on Colonel Qaddafi's government to release all detained journalists immediately, and to allow the media to work freely."

Abdul-Ahad, an Iraqi who is an award-winning war reporter, was last known to be on the outskirts of the coastal city of Zawiya, where there has been heavy fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi. "The Guardian has been in contact with Libyan government officials in Tripoli and London and requested them to act urgently to discover where he is, if he is safe and well, and to establish if he is in the custody of the authorities," the paper said in a story on its website today. Abdul-Ahad has reported from a number of conflict zones, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan. The Guardian said Abdul-Ahad was last in touch with the paper through a third party on Sunday.

Andrei Netto, a reporter for Brazil's O Estado de S. Paolo, was released today to the Brazilian ambassador in Tripoli after being jailed for eight days in the city of Sabrata, O Estado reported on its website. O Estado said Netto, who had been held by troops loyal to Qaddafi, was in good health but was told to leave Libya on Friday.

The whereabouts of at least six local journalists remained unclear today, CPJ research shows. Atef al-Atrash, a contributor to local news outlets, disappeared shortly after speaking on air on Al-Jazeera from Benghazi. Mohamed al-Sahim, a blogger and critical political writer; Mohamed al-Amin, a cartoonist; and Idris al-Mismar, a writer and former editor-in-chief of Arajin, a monthly culture magazine, have also been reported missing. Two Tripoli-based journalists - Salma al-Shaab, head of the Libyan Journalists Syndicate, and Suad al-Turabouls, a correspondent for the pro-government Al-Jamahiriya - were detained last month but are now unaccounted for.

Three BBC journalists - reporter Feras Killani, cameraman Goktay Koraltan, and producer Chris Cobb-Smith - were released on Tuesday after 21 hours of abuse that included beatings and mock executions, according to news reports. Killani told the BBC: "They were kicking and punching me, four or five men. I went down on to my knees. They attacked me as soon as I got out of the car. They knocked me down to the ground with their guns, AK47s. I was down on my knees and I heard them cocking their guns. I thought they were going to shoot me." He said he was later beaten severely and accused of being a spy. Cobb-Smith described a mock execution: "A man with a small submachine gun was putting it to the nape of everyone's neck in turn. He pointed the barrel at each of us. When he got to me at the end of the line, he pulled the trigger twice. The shots went past my ear." Cobb-Smith managed to place a call to the BBC with a phone that had not been discovered by security agents.

The International News Safety Institute issued a safety advisory today saying that journalists traveling to Zawiya are being obstructed. "Journalists have been detained at checkpoints on the edge of Zawiya and their equipment has been destroyed. Attempting to get in to Zawiya is extremely risky," the institute said on its website.

Since Libya's political unrest erupted last month, CPJ has documented at least 12 detentions, four assaults, two attacks on news facilities, the jamming of Al-Jazeera and Al-Hurra transmissions, and the interruption of Internet service. Numerous journalists have also reported the confiscation of equipment.

For more information:

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
info (@)
Phone: +1 212 465 1004
Fax: +1 212 465 9568

Aden: Days of Bloodshed

(Human Rights Watch/IFEX) - New York, March 9, 2011- Yemeni security forces repeatedly used excessive, deadly force on largely peaceful protesters in the southern city of Aden in February 2011, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Security forces fired weapons that included assault rifles and machine guns at the protesters, killing at least nine and possibly twice that number, and injuring more than 150, some of them children.

The 20-page report, "Days of Bloodshed in Aden," documents attacks on protesters in the strategic port city of Aden from February 16 to 25. Human Rights Watch found that police and military forces also chased and shot at protesters trying to flee the assaults. The forces stopped doctors and ambulances trying to reach protest sites, fired at people who tried to rescue victims, and removed evidence, such as bullet casings, from the shooting scenes.

"Shooting into crowds is no way to respond to peaceful protests," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "Governments in the region and beyond should make clear to Yemen that international assistance comes with the condition of respecting human rights."

The Yemeni authorities should immediately end these illegal attacks and conduct an impartial investigation into the injuries and deaths in Aden, Human Rights Watch said.

The report is based on more than 50 interviews with injured protesters and witnesses to the killings, relatives of protesters who were killed, doctors, paramedics, and human rights activists. Human Rights Watch also analyzed video and photo materials that witnesses to the protests provided, as well as hospital records and ballistic evidence that protesters collected after the shootings.

Since 2007 Aden has been the center of protests in Yemen's southern provinces, where inhabitants are seeking increased economic opportunities and political autonomy or secession. The South was a separate republic until it unified with the North in 1990. On February 3 protesters in Aden and other parts of the South joined calls across Yemen for an end to the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In Aden, security forces have systematically attempted to prevent large protests, although they have allowed them in the capital, Sanaa, since February 22. Nevertheless, groups of several hundred people have protested against President Saleh in various neighborhoods of Aden almost daily since February 15.

Government officials blamed the Southern Movement for the bloodshed. The movement is a loose coalition that has been leading both the protests in the South since 2007 and the more recent demonstrations in Aden against Saleh.

Human Rights Watch found in Aden that security and intelligence forces, including members of Central Security, the general police, the army, and the National Security Bureau, routinely used lethal force that was clearly excessive in relation to the danger presented by the protesters. In all cases Human Rights Watch documented, security forces used teargas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition, including from assault rifles and machine guns.

Numerous witnesses described the protesters as unarmed and stated in most cases that the protesters presented no threat to others or to surrounding property. Some of the protests were entirely peaceful. During others, protesters threw stones as security forces tried to disperse them.

The majority of victims were young men and boys. Human Rights Watch documented the killings of three boys - two 17-year-olds and one 16-year-old. Many of the injured were children as well. Human Rights Watch also documented several cases in which security forces killed or wounded bystanders. One man was hit and killed by a bullet as he observed the protests through the window of his home.

Security forces quickly removed bullet casings from the streets, and authorities forced families to bury the bodies of those killed immediately, in an apparent attempt to suppress evidence and to prevent massive public funeral processions. In at least one case, the authorities forged a forensic report of a person killed in a protest.

The exact number of those killed and injured during the attacks in Aden remains unknown. Authorities did not release information on casualties and prevented independent observers from reaching government hospitals. Many of those who were injured did not go to the government hospitals after learning that security forces were entering them and arresting injured protesters, and the capacity of private hospitals was overstretched.

Yemeni security forces detained dozens of peaceful protesters and Southern Movement activists in Aden during the same period, Human Rights Watch found. Some detainees were released, but Human Rights Watch documented at least eight cases in which Southern Movement activists "disappeared" after being detained.

Human Rights Watch documented the same patterns of use of excessive force by Yemeni security forces against southern protesters in its 2009 report "In the Name of Unity."

"The recent killings and injuries are the latest chapter in President Saleh's brutal attempts to stifle legitimate dissent in Aden and surrounding areas," Stork said. "Instead of forging unity, these unlawful attacks risk driving a further wedge between the government and the people of the South."
To read the report, click here (full report available in English, summary and recommendations in Arabic.)

For more information:

Human Rights Watch
350 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10118
hrwnyc (@)
Phone: +1 212 290 4700
Fax: +1 212 736 1300

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Answer: Quote of the Week

"The answer is not PC, not zeitgeist. It does not proceed from the feminized Christianity one so often encounters or the popular conception of nonjudgmental Jesus, meek and mild. But, what it lacks in PC it more than makes up for in the truth of the Apostolic faith." -- Dr. G. Richard Lobs III

Colorado Woman's Case Linked to Jihad Jane

PHILADELPHIA, March 9: A Colorado woman admitted on Tuesday that she helped a terrorist cell that hoped to incite holy war, and her lawyer said she was “part of something that was much larger, much more complex than she ever knew.”

Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, 32, of Leadville, Colorado, conspired with others to get military training in South Asia and moved to Ireland in 2009 to join the group, federal prosecutors said.

Court papers released on Tuesday give a glimpse of the goals of the Algerian man she married in Ireland. Her husband sought to recruit “brothers and sisters” to train with the group known as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, prosecutors said; the group is an Al Qaeda offshoot that has focused its efforts inside Algeria and has never attempted an attack on the US.

The documents also say he wanted to recruit people to train with Pakistan`s lead intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence. The agency, while a sometimes unreliable ally for the US, is also an essential partner for combating terrorism inside Pakistan.

Shortly after arriving in Ireland in September 2009, Paulin-Ramirez married him in an Islamic ceremony. The couple had never before met in person. She knew the marriage, along with her western looks and passport, would prove useful to the group, prosecutors said.

Her lawyer called her a sincere religious convert who married “for the love of Islam, not for the love of her husband.”

“She ended up being part of something that was much larger, much more complex than she ever knew,” lawyer Jeremy Ibrahim said.

Paulin-Ramirez voluntarily returned to the US after she, her husband and five others were detained in Ireland in 2010 as part of a terrorism probe. She was charged in the same case as Colleen LaRose, a Pennsylvania woman who dubbed herself “Jihad Jane” in a YouTube video.—AP

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sheen One of Many Pleasure-Loving Americans

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.” 2 Tim. 3

Charlie Scheen and many other Americans, if Ohio State University Psychology Professor Brad Bushman's research results are valid.
Bushman said he sees danger in this obsession with self-esteem. Research has shown that levels of self-esteem have been increasing, at least among college students in the United States, since the mid-1960s.

“American society seems to believe that self-esteem is the cure all for every social ill, from bad grades to teen pregnancies to violence,” he said. “But there has been no evidence that boosting self-esteem actually helps with these problems. We may be too focused on increasing self-esteem.”

Study co-author Crocker added, “The problem isn’t with having high self-esteem; it’s how much people are driven to boost their self-esteem. When people highly value self-esteem, they may avoid doing things such as acknowledging a wrong they did. Admitting you were wrong may be uncomfortable for self-esteem at the moment, but ultimately it could lead to better learning, relationships, growth, and even future self-esteem.”

The study was partially supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Read more about the Bushman-Crocker research here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Yemen Day of Anger

SANA’A, Mar. 1 — Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in ‘Change Square’ outside of Sana’a University as protests entered their nineteenth day.

Last Tuesday, ‘Change Square’ witnessed ‘a day of anger’ that was staged in solidarity for people killed by security forces this week because of their participation in protests against the regime.

The anti-government protesters were chanting, clapping and dancing while large speakers broadcast enthusiastic music. Hundreds of tents have been erected. The walls and tents are hung with cartoons and slogans that denounce President Ali Abdullah Saleh as corrupt and a thug.

Protesters waved Yemeni flags and some of them climbed up light poles and billboards to chant enthusiastically against the president. Female protesters were also taking part in the demonstration.
Protesters there say that they will not leave until the president leaves. They say that the president has two choices: “Either leave or be forced to leave.”

“This is the only place I can express my opinion without being monitored by political or national security. When I see those eager protesters, I realize that the regime will be overthrown by those heroes who come here spontaneously,” said Ali Abu Lohoom, a youth activist.

“I don’t want a job or money. I want the president to step down,” he said.

Abu Lohoom denounced the recent speeches by the president as ‘stupid’. “Our president is dying,” he said.

Redwan Masood, head of Yemen Student’s Union, told the Yemen Times that there are cases of enforced disappearances of students and protesters by security forces.

“Some injured protesters are afraid to go to hospital because they know that security forces will detain them,” he said.

Adel Al-Osaimi, an activist in the ruling party and secretary-general of the Yemen Student’s Union, said that all the students of Sana’a University refuse the opposition’s protests and call for stability. He said during a public meeting with the president in Sana’a last Tuesday, that anti-government protesters want the university to be a theater for their demagogic actions.

However, Masood challenged the ruling-party officials to bring ten students to support the president. “They have no student base. All students are eager to make change,” he said.

Sa’ad Al-Abasi, 17, came to the anti-government protests from Sahrab district in Taiz governorate to participate in the day of anger.

“I’ve come to overthrow our corrupt president and his regime. The deadline for the president leaving is next Friday,” he said.

Abdulmajeed Al-Zandani, a prominent religious leader, declared last Monday his support of the protesters at Sana’a University.

“There is no legitimacy for the ruler who is not acceptable to the people,” Al-Zandani told protesters last Monday.

Counter-protests have taken place in Al-Tahrir Square where thousands were chanting for President Saleh. Witnesses said that the pro-government protesters came by buses provided by officials of the ruling party.

An employee in the public service, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Yemen Times that his employer forced employees to attend pro-Saleh protests in Al-Tahrir Square. He said that employers provide buses, flags and pictures of the president for employees to carry.

“They threaten employees with being laid off. I’ll not go to any pro-government protests, and I’m not afraid about the results of my decision,” he said.

From Yemen Times

Muslims Torch Coptic Church

There has been a Coptic church on this site for centuries. St Mina (or Menas) is one of the most well-known of Egypt's saints, and St George needs no introduction.

Yesterday, a church dedicated to their blessed memory was destroyed in a small town just outside Cairo. It was torched by 'thousands of Muslims' (or are they Islamists? Or, for Baroness Warsi, are these 'thousands' simply a minority-of-a-minority ‘extremists’?) chanting ‘Democracy Akhbar’ – Democracy is Great! It is a curiously syncretised slogan, juxtaposing the Anglo-Greek with the Arabic: perhaps we will be hearing many more of them in the years to come. ‘Allah Save the Queen!’, perhaps; or the Aquinas-Mohammed ‘Just Jihad’ theory; or ‘Halal a day helps you work, rest and play’; or ‘Sharia – it’s what your right arm’s for’.

Apparently, the clergy in this church are still unaccounted for. There isn’t a mention of this barbarism on the BBC, or, for that matter, in any of the ‘mainstream’ media. As far as they are concerned, it hasn’t happened. So the UK is oblivious, preoccupied by the drama of the latest Middle East revolution, or distracted by David Beckham’s tattoo. Our media Attention Deficit Disorder can’t be bothered with the aftermath of the delightful downfall of dictators: Saddam was removed from Iraq; the Chaledean Christians are persecuted. Lebanon had its ‘Cedar Revolution’ to eradicate Hezbollah; the land is ‘cleansed’ of Christians. The people of Tunisia topple their corrupt president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali; the Islamist hordes attack women and murder a Roman Catholic priest. And freedom-fighting Egyptians occupy Tahrir Square until Pharaoh Mubarak is forced out of office; and in moves the godfather of the Muslim Brotherhood Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

Read it all here.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Conscience of Health Worker Not Protected

The Obama administration a fortnight ago rescinded most of a federal regulation designed to protect healthcare workers who refuse to provide care on moral or religious grounds. The decision effectively dismantles one of President George W. Bush’s more controversial policies – a shield for conscientious objection to medical services, like providing contraceptives or performing IVF for lesbians or single women. The new rule leaves intact long-standing “conscience” protections for doctors and nurses who do not want to perform abortions or sterilisations. Also retained are procedures for allowing health workers to file complaints if their rights are violated.

The new rule, which goes into effect this month, is likely to fuel the ever-growing debate over abortion and related issues. House Republicans have introduced a number of pieces of legislation containing provisions that would recreate many of the effects of the Bush rule.

The division of opinion on the new policy is stark. One the one hand, it is being hailed as saving patients whose lives are at risk because of the intransigent moral prejudice. "Without the rescission of this regulation, we would see tremendous discrimination against patients based on their behavior and based just on who they are," said Susan Berke Fogel of the National Health Law Program. "We would see real people suffer, and more women could die."

On the other hand, it is being condemned as an encroachment personal freedom. “Today, the Obama administration demonstrated exactly why we need to have strong conscience protection for health workers written into our laws,” said Rep. Joe Pitt, who is sponsoring the Protect Life Act, which would institute more protections into the health overhaul legislation. “Without legal protection, we can certainly expect even more bureaucratic assaults on the conscience of medical workers.” ~ Washington Post, Feb 19

Justice Alito's Dissenting Voice

Funeral pickets are constitutionally-protected speech, nation’s high court declares in 8-1 ruling. Justice Samuel Alito voted against Phelps.  His voice is the only that speaks of decency.

“Respondents’ [Phelps'] outrageous conduct caused petitioner great injury, and the Court now compounds that injury by depriving petitioner of a judgment that acknowledges the wrong he suffered.

In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated, it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims like petitioner. I therefore respectfully dissent.”

A society that fails to protect rituals and ceremonies surrounding death and burial is a society on the brink of collapse. This isn't about freedom of speech.  This is about compassion for the mourners and dignity for the dead.

For Rwandan Grandmother American Health Care System Means Death

A court-appointed guardian has removed feeding tubes from a 58-year-old comatose grandmother in a Maryland nursing home who has no health insurance and whose children cannot afford to pay for hospice care.

In the wake of the controversy over “death panels”, the case of Rachel Nyirahabiyambere, a Rwandan immigrant, could be even more politically explosive than the death of brain-damaged Florida woman Terri Schiavo.

Ms Nyirahabiyambere, her husband and her six children fled from Rwanda in 1994 to the Congo. The family was scattered and her husband died, but two sons, Jerome and Gratien Ndagijimana, were allowed to enter the United States as refugees. They worked hard and sponsored their mother as a legal permanent resident in 2008. She found a job with health insurance in Buffalo. But when her eldest son moved to Virginia, she quit her job and followed him to help care for his children. She also lost her health care benefits. She was also ineligible for Medicaid because she has not lived in the US for five years.

Then, in April last year, she had a stroke which left her in a permanent vegetative state. She was being cared for at Georgetown University Medical Center, a Catholic hospital, in Washington DC. After seven weeks, the hospital tried to discharge her, as caring for her was very expensive. According to the New York Times, the hospital told her sons that they had three options: to find a nursing home, take her into their own homes or send her back to Rwanda. The sons said that they could not afford any of these.

Tension grew. In December, at the request of the hospital, a Virginia court appointed a guardian, Andrea J. Sloan. Ms Sloan acted quickly. Ms Nyirahabiyambere was transferred to a Maryland nursing home and in mid-February, despite anguished protests from her sons, her feeding tubes were removed so that she would starve to death. As of Thursday (March 3), she was still alive.

The Times cites emails from Ms Sloan:

“Hospitals cannot afford to allow families the time to work through their grieving process by allowing the relatives to remain hospitalized until the family reaches the acceptance stage, if that ever happens… Generically speaking, what gives any one family or person the right to control so many scarce health care resources in a situation where the prognosis is poor, and to the detriment of others who may actually benefit from them?”

Ms Nyirahabiyambere left no “living will” but it seems clear that she would have preferred to remain hooked up to her feeding tubes. However, Ms Sloan ignored her preference. According to the Times, she told her sons that she would disconnect their mother unless they could demonstrate that she wished to live out her life “with a feeding tube, in diapers, with no communication with anyone and in a nursing home.”

Her sons are distressed. “In our culture, we would never sentence a person to die from hunger,” says Jerome Ndayishimiye. ~ New York Times, March 3

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Animal Cloning Trials a Failure

BioEdge reports that a leading animal cloning organisation, New Zealand’s AgResearch, has ended cloning trials because of unacceptable death rates. But the science agency says it will continue to design genetically engineered animals using new research methods. AgResearch says that arthritis, lameness, blood poisoning and pneumonia were among the causes of goat, sheep and cattle deaths. Only about 10% of cloned animals survived the trials. A number of calves from mid gestation onwards either spontaneously aborted or died. ~, Feb 21

German Mother in Prison for Resisting Sex Ed

A German mother is in prison as a result of resisting state measures to force objectionable “sexual education” on her children. Her husband has already served his 43-day sentence. The couple bring the number of Christian parents imprisoned for this reason to 10.

Heinrich and Irene Wiens belong to the Baptist Church. Their case has been taken up by the United States based Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) -- a Christian legal alliance defending religious liberty, sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

In June 2006, the Wiens’ objected to their children’s attendance at both a mandatory stage play and four school days of so-called “sexual education” classes. Both parents believed the programs contradicted their sincerely held religious beliefs, as they and their four children are active in the Christian Baptist Church. The Wiens’ kept their children at home during the programs and instead instructed them in their own Christian values on sexuality. The parents were subsequently sentenced by a lower court in June 2008 and both were fined a total of 2,340 Euros (approximately $3,250 U.S.), which they refused to pay on legal and moral grounds.

Hence the prison sentences.

ADF filed an emergency appeal yesterday with the European Court of Human Rights, calling for Mrs Wien’s immediate release. Legal counsel Roger Kiska, based in the Slovak Republic, says the Wiens are well within their rights under the European Convention of Human Rights and other laws.

ADF is representing four similar cases before the ECHR. “These types of cases are crucial battles in the effort to keep bad decisions concerning parental rights overseas from being adopted by American courts,” says Mr Kiska.

From here.