An interesting point below:
Having read and heard several times today the usual complaint about the greeting "Happy Holidays," I feel compelled to offer a defense. It was not originally intended to devalue Christmas and its meaning to Christians. The phrase was made popular by Irving Berlin's original 1942 song, used in the film Holiday Inn. There was no mention of Jewish, Islamic, or synthetic African holidays. The song to "merry bells" and was clearly intended to refer to the holiday season between Christmas Eve and New Year's. The phrase was used for many years by Americans and Canadians to refer to this holiday season, sometimes extending all the way through the 12 days of Christmas to Epiphany.
Only comparatively recently have some seculars sought to expropriate the term. Fie on them, but the phrase is a fine and useful one, particularly when visiting with friends or family on, say, Dec. 27.
Happy Holidays to you!
When is a mosque not a mosque?
When it is funded by US taxpayers, of course. After all, the 1st amendment does not mention "separation of MOSQUE and State", does it?
A Minnesota community college has "a Muslim place of worship" featuring "a schedule for Islam's five daily prayers," according to a local newspaper columnist who visited the campus. Tax-supported Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn., also has a "sign requesting that shoes be removed" and a barrier that divides men's and women's "prayer spaces," writes Katherine Kersten of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
College officials denied it was anything more than a "meditation" room available for "all faiths." The description of the facility, however, led one faculty member to tell Kersten the room is "unprecedented" and "goes beyond religious toleration." "For all practical purposes, this meditation room is essentially a Muslim prayer room," said Chuck Chalberg of Normandale's history faculty.
WND has reported on "accommodations" for Muslims in public institutions, such as schools and airports, and the outrage triggered by the expenditure of public funds on a religion-specific facility. At Normandale, Kersten reported, an "arrow informed worshippers of the direction of Mecca, and literature urged women to cover their faces." She reported college officials converted a racquetball court into a "meditation" room during remodeling of some school facilities, which held another "meditation" room for students' use. Her description continues:
A row of chest-high barriers splits the room into sex-segregated sections. In the smaller, enclosed area for women sits a pile of shawls and head-coverings. Literature titled "Hijaab [covering] and Modesty" was prominently placed there, instructing women on proper Islamic behavior. They should cover their faces and stay at home, it said, and their speech should not "be such that it is heard." "Enter into Islaam completely and accept all the rulings of Islaam," the tract read in part. "It should not be that you accept what entertains your desires and leave what opposes your desires; this is from the manners of the Jews."Normandale President Joe Opatz did not take a reporter's call with questions, instead deferring to college spokesman Geoff Jones, who said the article is "not accurate." Jones said the school is open to "diversity in terms of beliefs, values and cultural backgrounds." The room, he said, was "created for use by any person for meditation purposes." Jones confirmed it does have a partition that partially divides the room "that is something that was placed there." But he denied there are any brochures, information or religious symbols or representations in the room. "When I visited the room . there were no postings other than announcing it was a meditation room," Jones said. "We've always sought to have persons of all cultures and backgrounds welcome here. As such we have student clubs and speakers from the community . that promote the dialogue and the discourse," he said. "As a public institution, we have a responsibility to allow freedom of speech and freedom of religion. This is America," said Jones. But he also confirmed there is no set schedule for the various groups to use the room. "It's just been the ebb and flow [of meetings]," he said.
"[T]he Jews and the Christians" are described as "the enemies of Allaah's religion." The document adds: "Remember that you will never succeed while you follow these people."
A poster on the room's door advertised a local lecture on "marriage from an Islamic perspective," with "useful tips for marital harmony from the Prophet's ... life." Other fliers invited students to join the Normandale Islamic Forum, or participate in Ramadan celebrations. One thing was missing from the meditation room: evidence of any faith but Islam. No Bible, no crucifix, no Torah.
Opatz, on his website welcome to the school, called Normandale the "crown jewel" of the community college system. He suggested the "clubs, student government, recreational sports and other organizations" provide "a winning combination for a lasting success." The school website lists the Baha'I Club, Campus Crusade for Christ, College Democrats, Dental Hygiene, Ethiopian Student Union, Gay & Straight Student Alliance, Latter-day Saint Student Association, Muslim Student Association, Oromo Student Union, Somali Student Association and other special interest groups active on campus.
Ralph Anderson, dean of student affairs, told Kersten the college not only prepared the room but also posted signs at the room's entrance asking students to remove their shoes, which is a Muslim custom. Anderson called it, "basically a courtesy to Muslim students." He also told her the room is divided by sex, because "Muslim students prefer that. ." Anderson refused to respond to questions about such segregation in a public facility. "I don't want to comment on that," he said.
Chad Lunaas, a former student at the school, told Kersten he frequently on Fridays would discover that "every sink and toilet stall had someone washing his feet." He said he was intimidated by Muslims who "seemed to be in charge." The student also said Muslims took over the meditation room. "They made people who are not of the Muslim religion feel very uncomfortable, especially if they were female," he said.
Comments on Kersten's column blog were vehement. "Each and every time this topic comes up I see my former Liberal friends compromising their principles of 'Separation of Church and State' by supporting the open display of religion in public places when it concerns any religion other the Christianity," said on. "Again, if you are against the public display of religion you are against ALL public displays of religion, PERIOD."
Another poster asked, "Why is a publicly funded instituion (sic) providing any accomodation (sic) for any religion on its campus? If you want religious accommodation (sic), go to a private educational institution that will accomodate (sic) this religion."
WND also has reported on a decision by officials at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., to appoint a practicing Hindu to head the college's religion department.
The issue of Muslim accommodations in public facilities such as airports already has attracted attention in Indianapolis, Phoenix and several other locations.
In a letter to Indianapolis officials, Rev. Jerry Hillenberg of Hope Baptist Church asked for a meeting over plans being developed by the airport authority to install footbaths on the airport property. "I still desire to speak personally with you about this issue. It cannot go unchallenged and unattended to," he wrote. "It remains a concern of the public at large, and certainly is a concern of this pastor and our congregation. "All of the input that we have received from the citizens of this city, county, surrounding counties, across the country, and around the world; has run 10 to one against the installation of these religious implements," he said. "Most realize that public property, owned by the taxpayers, cannot be used by Christians for religious displays or implements of their religiosity. Then, the question amongst them becomes: Why can it be used for Muslims?"
Croatia shows what is possible in reducing abortion
WITHOUT changing the permissive laws inherited from Communist times
Croatia has experienced a very dramatic drop in the abortion rate from 1989 when the nation's 51,289 abortions were nearly equal to the number of live births. The latest statistics, from 2005, indicate there were 4,563 abortions - a drop of nearly 90% since 1989. Significantly the law on abortion has not changed.
The main reason for the change of hearts and minds on abortion in the country has been the strength of the leadership of the Catholic hierarchy according to pro-life activists and others familiar with Croatia.
Dr. Antun Lisec the director of Human Life International in Croatia attests that his many successes in saving the lives of unborn children in the country comes thanks to the superb support and cooperation of Catholic bishops and priests in the nation which is over 80% Catholic.
Canadian Catholic novelist and painter Michael D. O'Brien, who won the Croatian national Buvina award for achievement in faith and culture, has travelled to Croatia three times in order to do research for his latest novel just released by Ignatius Press.
During his trips O'Brien had frequent contact with the nation's Catholic hierarchy and told LifeSiteNews.com that their success in fighting the culture of death is not surprising given their outstanding courage. "The culture of death in its many forms has assaulted that nation relentlessly, has crucified that church relentlessly," said O'Brien. "They have maintained a dynamic orthodoxy in their seminaries, in their clergy, in their religious orders. There is no vocation crisis in Croatia. And they are united totally with the Holy Father." "The fruits of this are more than evident," continued O'Brien. "They are a sign for the West."
O'Brien observed: "When you have been bombed, when you have been imprisoned, when you have seen your own lay people and priests tortured and exterminated you do not let yourself be intimidated by the subtle nuances of dissident theologians. The corrupt moral theology, so dominant in Western Europe and the Americas has little or no influence." "The people have tasted death in many forms and they recognize it when it comes in theological disguises," concluded O'Brien.
Islam and the future
by Nonie Darwish
Nonie Darwish was born in Egypt, where her father was a senior military officer and a close associate of President Nasser. For his activities in fomenting Palestinian terrorism, her father was assassinated by the Israelis in 1956.
Later, she moved to the United States, where she became a Christian and wrote the bestseller, Now They Call Me Infidel (2006). She says her mission is to "promote reconciliation, acceptance and understanding" between Israelis and Arabs.
This is an extract from an address she gave in October to a hostile left-wing audience at the University of California (Berkeley).
As an American woman of Muslim Arab origin, I cherish the freedoms America has given me, a right all too scarce in the Middle East where speaking for human rights, women's rights, democracy and even peace with Israel, is a taboo with serious consequences.
In America, I learned that no ideology or religion is beyond questioning. Ideologies that don't answer the hard questions will face intellectual bankruptcy. I would like to stress that this is not a discussion about the good and peace-loving Muslims, but about an ideology of violence and hatred that has brought oppression, unrest, violence and terror to the Middle East and has now spread to the rest of the world.
Radicals have made the slightest criticism, critical thinking and free inquiry an insult to Islam. Arab feminists, reformers and intellectuals are intimidated, threatened or killed. Even the late Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, was stabbed in Cairo in 1994 by a radical Muslim who claimed he insulted Islam. That is why we all must welcome open discussion.
I'd like to start with my background. I was born and raised as a Muslim in Cairo, Egypt, and the Gaza Strip, a time when President Nasser was committed to unifying the Arab world and destroying Israel. In the 1950s, my father headed the Egyptian military intelligence in Gaza and started the Fedayeen, which means "armed resistance and self-sacrifice". They made cross-border attacks into Israel and caused death, damage and destruction. There were assassination attempts on my father in response to the terror.
One night Israel sent commandos to our heavily guarded home, but my father was not home. All the Israeli soldiers found were us, women and children. The Israeli soldiers left us unharmed.
I attended Gaza elementary schools. It is there that we learned hatred, vengeance and retaliation; peace was never an option, but a sign of defeat and weakness. Jews were portrayed as less than human. I was told, "Don't take candy or fruit from a stranger; it could be a Jew trying to poison you." They filled our ears with fear of Jews; that made hatred come easy and terrorism acceptable, even honourable.
After two years of intense Fedayeen operations, my father was killed in the first targeted assassination in Gaza in 1956. I was eight years old. My siblings and I were asked by top government officials, "Which one of you will avenge your father's blood by killing Jews?" I felt very uncomfortable with the question. We were speechless.
After my father's death, my mother had to face life alone with five children in a culture that gave respect only to families headed by a man. In the '50s few women drove cars, and my mother was criticised and called names for buying a car to take us to school. Arab women are expected to sacrifice their family by giving up their husbands and sons to martyrdom, but are given little respect to live their lives with freedom and dignity.
I lived for 30 years in oppressive dictatorships and police states. I witnessed honour killing of girls (our maid), oppression of women and female genital-mutilation. We regularly heard the cursing of non-Muslims from the pulpits of mosques. As a young woman, I visited a Christian friend in Cairo during the Friday prayers, and we both heard the verbal attacks on Christians and Jews from the loudspeakers. We heard, "May God destroy the infidels and the Jews, the enemies of God. We are not to befriend them or make treaties with them." We also heard the worshipers respond, "Amen". I heard "cursing prayers" all my life from the pulpits of mosques - and, believe it or not, if you grow up with cursing prayers, it can feel and sound normal. My Christian friend looked scared, and I was ashamed. That was when I first realised that something was very wrong in the way my religion was taught and practised.
I moved to the US in 1978. In my first visit to a mosque in America, we were told not to assimilate in America, and that Islam is here to become the dominant religion. I was told to cover up in Islamic clothes; but how could I do that when I had never worn Islamic clothes in Egypt? Women in Egypt until the 1980s did not wear Islamic clothes.
In August 2001, I visited my birthplace, Cairo, Egypt, and was stunned to see how radical Islam had taken over. The level of anger and hate speech was alarming. I saw extreme poverty, pollution, hazardous material and garbage along the Nile. There was high unemployment, inflation and widespread corruption. But when I read Arab media, all I saw was Israel and America-bashing. Citizens were unaware of Muslim-against-Muslim atrocities in Iraq, Algeria, Sudan, etc. The Arab media have failed to defend the human rights of ordinary Arab citizens. They have no understanding of their role in defending the interest of the public; this mentality was created from an Islamo-fascist environment that rejects change. The Western media was also under-reporting the threat.
I was happy to return to the US on the evening of September 10, 2001. The next morning I saw the second airplane hit the twin towers, I knew jihad had come to America. Muhammad Attah [leader of the September 11 hijackers] was from Cairo, the same city I came from. I called several friends in Cairo. They were all in denial and said, "How dare you say that Arabs did this? Don't you know this is a Jewish conspiracy?" These were not radicals, but ordinary Egyptians who otherwise are very nice people. I hung up the phone and felt alone and disconnected from my culture of origin.
The global war we are fighting against Islamo-fascism and jihad is not just about bombs and hijacked planes; it's also about tyranny and oppression of women. Oppression of women and support of terror are two facets of the same fundamentalist mentality. Islamic law - Sharia - that terrorists are fighting to impose upon the world, would create a global state of gender apartheid.
Under criminal Sharia, punishment could be flogging, stoning, beheading and amputation of limbs - cruel and unusual punishment by Western and humane standards. Leaving Islam is punishable by death. If the state fails to kill an apostate, his death is guaranteed at the hands of a street mob. That makes Islam more than a religion; it is a one-party state, and also an elaborate legal system, called Sharia, that can put you to death if you leave Islam. [Even] the majority of Muslim countries don't practise criminal Sharia because they cannot stomach it.
I have lived under family Sharia for 30 years of my life. This is practised in all Muslim countries. It allows only men the right to an easy divorce, and to have up to four wives. It allows wife-beating. A woman can receive only half the inheritance to which a man is entitled, and her testimony in court is only half valid. She is respected only when she shields her body, face and even her identity. As many as 75 per cent of women in Pakistani prisons are behind bars for the crime of having been raped. Sharia codified into permanent law a 7th-century Arabian Peninsula tribal culture for every Muslim in any culture for ever.
Under Sharia, the Muslim Khalifa or Amir, meaning leader, is exempt from being punished under Sharia. Islamic Sharia law is a dictator's dream handed to him by Allah. On Arab television, I once saw a Muslim preacher telling little children that lying is not allowed except under three conditions:
1) Lying to non-Muslims when it is in the best interest of Islam.
2) Lying to Muslims if it will end conflict between them.
3) Lying to one's wife to improve the relationship.
Lying thus has become an obligation in international relationships, Muslim relationships and family relationships. Any wonder why Muslims were silent after 9/11? Those who expose the lying game are considered traitors. By allowing lying, Muslims have created a culture unable to distinguish between lies and truth; truth has become a convoluted game of saving face for the best interests of Islam.
The Times of London reported that Muslim students in Britain are being taught to despise non-Muslims as "filth". The Arabic word for this is "Nagas". That is why many Arabs believe that the existence of non-Muslims on Muslim land is a desecration or occupation. US soldiers, at the request of Saudi Arabia, sacrificed their lives to protect it from Saddam. Under normal conditions that could have been met with appreciation, but instead, the Arab street reaction was "How dare the infidels desecrate Muslim land!"
That is why America's defence of the Muslims against the Serbs, the Afghani Muslims against the Soviet Union, feeding the Somali Muslims starved by their own leadership, all did not get the US any credit in the Muslim world; just the opposite. The more America tries to help stabilise the region, the more it is despised. Arab-Muslims do not want to be rescued by infidels. This is a proud culture that is easily shamed by feelings of dependency on non-Muslims. That is how the West is perceived.
Western feminists must embrace a single standard for both the West and Muslim society. Feminists and everyone else concerned with human freedom must support Muslim dissidents, both male and female, who are risking their lives in a battle for women's rights under Islam. I ask for the support of the American left. You should be our natural allies because we are the reformers and defenders of freedoms in the Middle East.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.