Islamists seeking to impose aspects of Shari'a law in Britain received a major boost last week from the nation's top judge, Lord Phillips. Speaking at a London mosque, Phillips opined that Muslims should be permitted to have marital and financial disputes decided according to Islamic legal doctrines. Stephen Hockman QC, a leading barrister and former chairman of the Bar Council, elaborated on the chief justice's reasoning:
Given the world situation and our own substantial Muslim population it is vital that we now look at ways to integrate Muslim culture into our own traditions. Otherwise we will find that there is a significant section of our society which is increasingly alienated, with very dangerous results.One could only wonder how Shari'a, which mandates an inferior status for women and has inspired an array of baroque investment mechanisms, would benefit either the UK or its Muslim community in the adjudication of marital and financial cases.
The debate over the role of Shari'a in Britain has taken center stage during the past year, particularly among senior clerics. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams sparked a furor in February when he argued that adopting provisions of Shari'a "seems unavoidable" and would improve social cohesion. In Williams' view, the notion that "there's one law for everybody and that's all there is to be said, and anything else that commands your loyalty or allegiance is completely irrelevant in the processes of the courts - I think that's a bit of a danger."
Williams came under heavy fire from Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali, who contended that incorporating Islamic law into British law is "simply impossible . without fundamentally affecting its integrity." Specifically, Shari'a "would be in tension with the English legal tradition on questions like monogamy, provisions for divorce, the rights of women, custody of children, laws of inheritance and of evidence," along with "freedom of belief and of expression." Many of Nazir-Ali's arguments have been echoed by Williams' predecessor as archbishop, George Carey.
The British government already promotes Shari'a finance and awards additional welfare benefits to Muslim men with more than one wife. However, Downing Street quickly distanced itself from Phillips, reiterating that "British law should be based on British values and determined by the British Parliament."
That politicians on both sides of the aisle have thus far resisted calls to formally sanction Shari'a law for dispute resolution is cause for optimism; that so many prominent figures keep issuing such demands is cause for pessimism.
Now "society" is responsible for providing leisure activities??
Eric Woods, 14, said he and his friends stay busy and out of trouble during summer break, but it isn't always easy. Many of the kids in his neighborhood aren't as diligent and spend much of the summer getting in trouble because there isn't enough for them to do, he said. "I play all-stars and go swimming at Peabody," Eric said. "But there could be more to do -- maybe some more baseball and some football. There just needs to be more to do."
Eric and his friends were walking back home from the store Friday afternoon with a bag full of soda and snacks after playing ball. Kids like Eric and his friends are just a handful of the groups of school-aged children and adults alike seen out and about all over the city and parish -- a number that drastically increases as the temperatures increase.
"The juvenile problem is horrible during the summer," Alexandria Police Chief Daren Coutee said of increased crime and problems. "(Kids) are out of school and don't have anything constructive to do." The outcome of more people out and about? An increase in thefts, burglaries, criminal mischief and batteries, police said. And much of that increase can be blamed on children being out of school and unsupervised. Alexandria Police reported a marked increase in thefts from the winter months to summer months with an increase of as much as 45 percent. In January of 2007 there were 205 reported thefts, July of the same year there were 297.
Rapides Parish Sheriff's Capt. Matt Davis said the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office sees in an increase in nearly every crime over the summer months, and with that comes an increase in juvenile arrests. "A lot of kids and young adults have a lot of free time and little supervision during the summer," he said. "And the saying goes, 'Idle time is the devil's workshop.' The more time on their hands the more ways they will find to get into mischief with their friends."
Alexandria Police Juvenile Detective Kenneth Joseph said the biggest problem he sees isn't just a lack of recreation, but a lack of affordable recreation. "There may be some things out there, but they aren't affordable to the kids that have the greatest need, who are at the greatest risk," he said. "And another problem is a lack of transportation to those activities."
That's a problem Davis echoed. He said the Sheriff's Office tries to do its part by supporting youth recreation -- like baseball and softball leagues -- but that there is only so much it can do. And the parish is a much larger area and most of its youth can't get to programming and camps in the city. "I would like to see more partnerships between the Sheriff's Office and other organizations," Davis said. "We have all these school buildings and if we could give them something to do there it would be convenient to get there, help build school pride and create activities to keep kids off the street and in a safe environment."
Alexandria YMCA Chief Executive Officer Steve Alexander agrees. He'd like to see similar partnerships. Alexander also realizes there's a lack of accessible summer programming, although he points out that they have a number of programs and provide financial assistance when needed. "We are trying to do a better job with partnering with other agencies and developing some good quality programming," he said of the YMCA. "Not every child that needs programs can get to the YMCA."
Currently, the YMCA has a summer day camp for children up to 14. After the camp closes, the Turner Street YMCA is open to children for basketball and swimming from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at a cost of $5 to $10. "Every program the YMCA offers -- it may just seem like playing basketball -- has a set of core values we believe in," Alexander said. "They are all geared towards caring, respect, responsibility and honesty. "¯ We feel at the YMCA that you start with strong kids and that builds strong families which then builds strong communities." He said the YMCA doesn't turn anyone away based on inability to pay. "We think it is important that kids have something constructive to do," Alexander said.
So do Alexandria Police. But in addition to keeping kids active and supervised, another way to help alleviate the spike in summer crime is to be more responsible and cautious, police said. There are basic things that people can do to make them less likely to be targets of both juvenile criminals and career burglars and thieves, Alexandria Police Detective Russell Beauregard said. "When it gets hot, people are more restless and out more and kids aren't in school so you see more of these crimes," he said.
Beauregard and Alexandria Police Detective Robert Distefano said doing things like locking your cars and home, securing items in a car's trunk, having your mail and newspaper picked up when you go out of town for vacation and getting a motion sensor light can help keep you from becoming a victim. In addition to being more vigilant about your own property and safety, Beauregard said it's important for people to do their part to help police and their neighbors. "As police and detectives we can't solve everything all by ourselves," he said. "We need the public's help. If you see a suspicious act, call the police. If your neighbor is out of town, keep an eye on things."
And another thing to keep in mind, Distefano said, is to keep track of serial numbers on high dollar items like televisions, computers and cameras to help in recovering them if they are stolen.
Joseph said anytime kids have time alone with nothing to do, they will fill that void with whatever they can think of, and often times those thoughts go towards the criminal. "The more recreation we have the more it would help the juvenile criminal problem," he said. "And this 'spike' in crime isn't limited to one area, it's all over the city in every community. Crime does not discriminate."
Earl Ofari Hutchinson: "Denver Singer's Black National Anthem Switcheroo Was A Risky Act For Obama, And Black Americans"
The black liberal commentator opines about a recent controversial event: "Heaven only knows what black Denver singer [Rene] Marie was thinking when she stood at the microphone and belted out the lyrics of the black national anthem instead of the agreed on Star Spangled Banner. The event was Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's annual state of the city address and confab. Marie was engaged at no pay to sing the customary opening Star Spangled Banner. The black national anthem penned by civil rights legend and songwriter James Weldon Johnson a century ago is a beautiful, lilting, and powerful expression of black pride and dignity. It has been a virtual staple at any and every kind of black gathering down through the years. And that's where it's appropriate to sing it. The Denver Mayor's event wasn't. Marie's tortured explanation for switching songs is take your pick: it was a matter of artistic expression, her way of showing her pride in being black, a veiled protest against racial mistreatment and discrimination, and her personal statement against the alleged racial hypocrisy of America. Her explanations are facile and self-serving and just about everyone with an opinion on the issue appropriately blasted her and demanded a formal apology which she hasn't as yet given. She should apologize publicly, and do it now."
He continues his commentary: "Her ill-timed, totally inappropriate act has been fodder for speculation that it could have a possible backdoor blowback on Obama. Obama immediately rapped Marie for her wrong headed switcheroo, and said that there's only one national anthem. Obama had to move fast and knock the singer's act. The Democratic convention will be in Denver in August and Obama can ill-afford to have even the slightest hint that he approves anything that could be construed as an act that disrespects America's number one, time tested emblematic expression of American patriotism, especially from a black singer. And even more especially given that Colorado with a Democratic controlled legislature, and rising numbers of younger voters and Hispanic voters could be ripe for the picking from the GOP orbit in the fall. The bigger reason is that Obama more than any other presidential candidate in recent times is hyper sensitive to the patriotism issue. Republican rival John McCain has been scrupulously careful not to stoke any doubt about Obama's patriotism. But others have. Conservative websites, chat rooms, and some writers have feasted off impugning Obama's patriotism. They have slandered and ridiculed his name; dumped on his wife Michelle for her off the cuff, repeatedly clarified in context, comment about her lack of pride in America, and the one time absence of an American flag from the lapel in his suits. This line of attack can't be easily shrugged off as a below-the-belt slug by fringe ultra conservatives or professional political hit specialists. Despite his recent slog to the center, even right on some positions, Obama is still widely regarded by moderates and conservatives as a liberal Democrat."
More commentary from Mr. Hutchinson: "Conservatives have long since seized the high ground on the issue of what is or isn't true patriotism and cast themselves as the protectors and defenders of the flag, the national anthem, and their read and interpretation of American traditions against the liberal defilers. Obama has one more albatross that white liberal Democratic presidential contenders didn't have. He's African-American. There's the inherent suspicion among some that African-Americans are eternal rebels, and chronic social malcontents who undermine conventional American values and traditions. It's a short step from that false and bigoted notion to see blacks as less patriotic than white Americans. Unfortunately this ridiculous tar of Obama as somehow less of a true patriot because of who he is and what his votes and stances on the issues have been is not just a taint him in the minds of some. Those same minds tar blacks with the same, broad unpatriotic brush. Marie was probably oblivious to the implications of her rash act. In a follow up remarks, she blithely blew it off as simply being a risky artistic act. It was much more than that. It was a risky act for Obama and African-Americans."
My response: I love the "Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing" and have no problem with it. I sing the lyrics. "Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing" is musically superior to "The Star-Spangled Banner." However, it was highly inappropriate for Ms. Marie to use the Black National Anthem's lyrics as a substitute for America's national anthem, and set it to the tune of "The Star-Spangled Banner". Racializing the national anthem - a rare time where we come together in unity - was a definite no-no. If she is so disdainful of America that she refuses to no longer sing the "Star-Spangled Banner", then (1) why live in America; and (2) contract to sing the national anthem? Geez. By the way, I disagree with Mr. Hutchinson that this reflects upon Sen. Barack Obama or black Americans as a group. Last week, I was at the free Chaka Khan concert at the Taste of Chicago. They started off with the National Anthem, and about 85% of the overwhelmingly black crowd stood up in respect (in the past at other events, I've seen most blacks refuse to stand up for the anthem).
What's in a Name?
By Barry Rubin (Prof. Rubin maintains a watching brief over media distortions about Israel)
We all know--though the Western media often doesn't--that radical Arab nationalists, Islamists, and terrorists lie all the time. They then slander and threaten those who point out the truth. Yet often, governments, journalists, and academics split the difference or even find the liars more credible since they are not governments, Westerners, or Jews.
There is one case after another of this situation. Some make global headlines like the Dura case, where French television covered up its staged broadcast claiming that Israel killed a boy in Gaza even when a French court found it was phony, or the supposed Jenin massacre, reported on the basis of one unknown Palestinian witness and maintained by many even after the UN found it phony. And then there are the every-day frauds perpetrated. Yet it is always nice to have the proof.
One category is, as explained by the blog "Harry's Place" recently, when "Islamists in the West habitually say one thing to their English-speaking audience, and another thing to their Arabic speaking audience." The specific item in question is a statement made by Muhammad Sawalha, president of the British Muslim Initiative, to Al-Jazeera about a big pro-Israel celebration in London: "We, the Arab and Islamic community, gather here today to express our resentment at the celebrations by the Jewish community and the [evil Jew/Jewish evil] in Britain"
Sawalha is a powerful man in British Muslim circles: founder of IslamExpo and a trustee of the Finsbury Park Mosque, formerly the center for recruiting terrorists and inveighing against the Jews. According to the "Harry's Place" article, Sawalha is a key figure in the Muslim Brotherhood and a Hamas supporter and fundraiser. But when writing in the British media, Sawalha and his cohorts try to sound moderate, and no doubt many British elite members see them in such terms. As so often happens, however, the response of Sawalha and company was neither to affirm proudly their views--which are typical of Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood propaganda in the Arab world--nor to back down but to fabricate and attack.
It reminds me of the time that a BBC stringer in Gaza made a pro-Hamas speech which appeared on that group's site. When Israel complained, the speech was quickly taken down. The BBC then said it could not investigate the issue since there was no remaining evidence. The fact that a "screen shot" existed of the article did not move them from that stance.
Or when Islamist terrorism leads to criticism the response of Muslim individuals, institutions, and regimes is to put a far lower priority on rejecting or reitnerpreting the specific texts used by the Islamist terrorists than to claim "Islamophobia" on the part of the critics.
And so Al-Jazeera simply changed the wording of the interview's text to read: "Jewish lobby" instead of the "evil Jew." As an aside, note that "evil Jew" is a far more vicious statement than "evil Jews." After all, the latter implies opposition to those Jews who support Israel while the former pushes the idea that Jews are innately evil, an idea that is usually or almost always present in Hamas, Islamist, and a great deal of general Arab discourse.
At any rate, the British Muslim Initiative then issued a press release they put on the "Harry's Place" site but not on their own. (As so often happens with the language switcheroo, the radicals don't want their own supporters to know about their moderate pretenses or understand that they know it is all a con-game. The release basically called "Harry's Place" a bunch of, well they didn't quite say it but a prime example of the "evil Jew." It states: "Zionist Racist website lies in order to justify its hate-rhetoric. While `Harry's Place' may not be known as a bastion of truth and balanced comment - not even in the remotest sense of these words - its latest blunder shows it as an entirely incompetent source of information."
Well, the source of information was al-Jazeera but I guess that isn't what they mean. The release continues:
"It is of course possible that... the moderators of this vile blog-space - which has made it its mission to attack Islam and Muslims in whatever underhand methods it can get away with - deliberately skewed the word `Lobby' to turn it into some other word and make it seem as though it means `evil/noxious', in order to portray not only Mohammed Sawalha, but BMI and all the projects that Mr. Sawalha is linked to, as `Jew-haters' and `anti-Semitic.'"
Now of course the Initiative knows that the article was quoting al-Jazeera but they never mention the actual text there. Note also how the criticism of a specific individual's statement turns into an "attack [on] Islam and Muslims." And the cute touch that the site is trying to "get away" with something when it is actually the Initiative that is doing so. And also, if the statement was so innocent than why did al-Jazeera change the wording without stating it had made a correction?
But Anas Altikriti, a spokesman of BMI, let's the cat out of the bag--though that might not be an apt phrase given such group's attitudes toward lovable animals--by saying: "This particular blog-space and its moderators are nonentities and insignificant. However, its danger lies in that in the past some corners of our mainstream media have picked up on its drivel and used it as fact."
Yes, that's it: what is the mainstream media started reporting on the antisemitism of Islamists instead of harping on blaming Israel for everything. Taking a line from Seinfeld's description of Newman, the spokesman calls the site, "Pure evil."
As "Harry's Place" responds, in the framework of Western democratic civilization, they could have just said that al-Jazeera made a mistake and its been corrected. But no, because their side must be completely right and the other side must be "pure evil."
The actual examination of evidence is not a big thing in Arab nationalist or Islamist circles. Come to think of it, not so popular in Western academic, intellectual, and media circles either any more. And, of course, that which is pure evil--especially pure "Jewish evil" must be exterminated. Funny, you-know-who, the guy with the little moustache, used to say the same thing.
I have an idea for a new word and I hope that governments, universities, international institutions, and the mass media take it up with the same enthusiasm as they have "Islamophobia." Let's call it: Judaeophobia.
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.