Wednesday, November 19, 2008

British father arrested and locked in a cell for smacking son

The same police often fail to attend burglary scenes and refuse to respond to complaints about youth gang activity

Mark Frearson said he told off his son Harry because the seven-year-old walked off alone after dark while they were out shopping. Three hours later four police officers and a specialist child support officer arrived at his house, took Harry away in a police car, arrested Mr Frearson on suspicion of assault and locked him in a cell. After about an hour he said officers told him they could not carry out an interview as the witness "was not in a condition to give a statement".

Mr Frearson, a director at a parcel company, had to spend the night in the cell and was released the next day at 10am after the witness was interviewed and withdrew their accusation. The 47-year-old has made a formal complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission about the ordeal.

He said the police reaction was "massively over-the-top" and the experience was traumatic for his son. Mr Frearson, from Plymouth, Devon, said: "I find it shocking how easy it is to have someone arrested. To think that all this happened on the back of one allegation. "I appreciate the police's concern but even if they felt they had to take Harry away I don't understand why they felt it necessary to arrest me and lock me up before interviewing me or the witness. "I want an apology, I wasn't given any after being released without charge and I am still angry and bewildered at the events of that night."

Mr Frearson said the incident happened last Tuesday at around 6pm. He said it was dark and he told Harry to stay with him. When he realised he had left the shop there was a ten minute search and he was found outside in a nearby park. He said he smacked Harry once on the back of his leg and the two returned home.

At around 9pm police arrived saying a witness had reported Mr Frearson for "assault". The officers then took Harry back to his mother's and Mr Frearson was arrested and taken to the police station. He said: "They never even interviewed me, all they did was ask a couple of questions at the house. "My ex-wife Kate also told them the accusation was ridiculous. "There were about 20 people around at the time I told Harry off and CCTV but they still locked me up."

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police said as a formal complaint had been made they could not comment on the incident.


Professor Hired for Outreach to Muslims Delivers a Jolt

Islamic Theologian's Theory: It's Likely the Prophet Muhammad Never Existed

Muhammad Sven Kalisch, a Muslim convert and Germany's first professor of Islamic theology, fasts during the Muslim holy month, doesn't like to shake hands with Muslim women and has spent years studying Islamic scripture. Islam, he says, guides his life. So it came as something of a surprise when Prof. Kalisch announced the fruit of his theological research. His conclusion: The Prophet Muhammad probably never existed.

Muslims, not surprisingly, are outraged. Even Danish cartoonists who triggered global protests a couple of years ago didn't portray the Prophet as fictional. German police, worried about a violent backlash, told the professor to move his religious-studies center to more-secure premises. "We had no idea he would have ideas like this," says Thomas Bauer, a fellow academic at M_nster University who sat on a committee that appointed Prof. Kalisch. "I'm a more orthodox Muslim than he is, and I'm not a Muslim."

When Prof. Kalisch took up his theology chair four years ago, he was seen as proof that modern Western scholarship and Islamic ways can mingle -- and counter the influence of radical preachers in Germany. He was put in charge of a new program at Muenster, one of Germany's oldest and most respected universities, to train teachers in state schools to teach Muslim pupils about their faith.

Muslim leaders cheered and joined an advisory board at his Center for Religious Studies. Politicians hailed the appointment as a sign of Germany's readiness to absorb some three million Muslims into mainstream society. But, says Andreas Pinkwart, a minister responsible for higher education in this north German region, "the results are disappointing."

Prof. Kalisch, who insists he's still a Muslim, says he knew he would get in trouble but wanted to subject Islam to the same scrutiny as Christianity and Judaism. German scholars of the 19th century, he notes, were among the first to raise questions about the historical accuracy of the Bible.

Many scholars of Islam question the accuracy of ancient sources on Muhammad's life. The earliest biography, of which no copies survive, dated from roughly a century after the generally accepted year of his death, 632, and is known only by references to it in much later texts. But only a few scholars have doubted Muhammad's existence. Most say his life is better documented than that of Jesus. "Of course Muhammad existed," says Tilman Nagel, a scholar in G"ttingen and author of a new book, "Muhammad: Life and Legend." The Prophet differed from the flawless figure of Islamic tradition, Prof. Nagel says, but "it is quite astonishing to say that thousands and thousands of pages about him were all forged" and there was no such person.

All the same, Prof. Nagel has signed a petition in support of Prof. Kalisch, who has faced blistering criticism from Muslim groups and some secular German academics. "We are in Europe," Prof. Nagel says. "Education is about thinking, not just learning by heart."

Prof. Kalisch's religious studies center recently removed a sign and erased its address from its Web site. The professor, a burly 42-year-old, says he has received no specific threats but has been denounced as apostate, a capital offense in some readings of Islam. "Maybe people are speculating that some idiot will come and cut off my head," he said during an interview in his study. A few minutes later, an assistant arrived in a panic to say a suspicious-looking digital clock had been found lying in the hallway. Police, called to the scene, declared the clock harmless.

A convert to Islam at age 15, Prof. Kalisch says he was drawn to the faith because it seemed more rational than others. He embraced a branch of Shiite Islam noted for its skeptical bent. After working briefly as a lawyer, he began work in 2001 on a postdoctoral thesis in Islamic law in Hamburg, to go through the elaborate process required to become a professor in Germany.

The Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S. that year appalled Mr. Kalisch but didn't dent his devotion. Indeed, after he arrived at Muenster University in 2004, he struck some as too conservative. Sami Alrabaa, a scholar at a nearby college, recalls attending a lecture by Prof. Kalisch and being upset by his doctrinaire defense of Islamic law, known as Sharia.

In private, he was moving in a different direction. He devoured works questioning the existence of Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Then "I said to myself: You've dealt with Christianity and Judaism but what about your own religion? Can you take it for granted that Muhammad existed?" He had no doubts at first, but slowly they emerged. He was struck, he says, by the fact that the first coins bearing Muhammad's name did not appear until the late 7th century -- six decades after the religion did.

He traded ideas with some scholars in Saarbruecken who in recent years have been pushing the idea of Muhammad's nonexistence. They claim that "Muhammad" wasn't the name of a person but a title, and that Islam began as a Christian heresy. Prof. Kalisch didn't buy all of this. Contributing last year to a book on Islam, he weighed the odds and called Muhammad's existence "more probable than not." By early this year, though, his thinking had shifted. "The more I read, the historical person at the root of the whole thing became more and more improbable," he says. He has doubts, too, about the Quran. "God doesn't write books," Prof. Kalisch says.

Some of his students voiced alarm at the direction of his teaching. "I began to wonder if he would one day say he doesn't exist himself," says one. A few boycotted his lectures. Others sang his praises. Prof. Kalisch says he "never told students 'just believe what Kalisch thinks' " but seeks to teach them to think independently. Religions, he says, are "crutches" that help believers get to "the spiritual truth behind them." To him, what matters isn't whether Muhammad actually lived but the philosophy presented in his name.

This summer, the dispute hit the headlines. A Turkish-language German newspaper reported on it with gusto. Media in the Muslim world picked up on it. Germany's Muslim Coordinating Council withdrew from the advisory board of Prof. Kalisch's center. Some Council members refused to address him by his adopted Muslim name, Muhammad, saying that he should now be known as Sven.

German academics split. Michael Marx, a Quran scholar at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, warned that Prof. Kalisch's views would discredit German scholarship and make it difficult for German scholars to work in Muslim lands. But Ursula Spuler-Stegemann, an Islamic studies scholar at the University of Marburg, set up a Web site called and started an online petition of support.

Alarmed that a pioneering effort at Muslim outreach was only stoking antagonism, M_nster University decided to douse the flames. Prof. Kalisch was told he could keep his professorship but must stop teaching Islam to future school teachers. The professor says he's more determined than ever to keep probing his faith. He is finishing a book to explain his thoughts. It's in English instead of German because he wants to make a bigger impact. "I'm convinced that what I'm doing is necessary. There must be a free discussion of Islam," he says.


Below is an introduction to an article in German by Muhammad Kalisch (See above)

Up to some time ago I was convinced that Muhammad was a historical figure. Although I always based my thinking on the assumption that the Islamic historical narrative regarding Muhammad was very unreliable, I had no doubts that at least the basic lines of his biography were historically correct. I have now moved away from this position and will soon publish a book in which I will, among other things, comment on this question and explain my arguments in more detail. This essay is only a short summary of my most important arguments. It also deals with the question of what implications historical-critical research has for the Islamic theory and how I deal with my research results as a theologian.

With regard to the historical existence of Muhammad ... I consider my position simply as a continuation of the most recent research results. It appears so spectacular only because it has been said by a Muslim ... Most Western scientists turn down such an hypotheses out of respect for Islam or because they are afraid of the reactions of their Muslim friends or because they think it is speculative nonsense. The word "respect" sounds wonderful but it is completely inappropriate here because one really refers to the opposite. Whoever thinks that Muslims can't deal with facts puts Muslims on the same level as small children who can't think and decide for themselves and whose illusions of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny one doesn't want to destroy.

Whoever really bases his thoughts on the equality of all human beings must expect the same intellectual performance. Really treating Muslims with respect would imply that they are strong enough to deal with their religion on the basis of our modern level of knowledge. "Islamophobes" think we Muslims are barbarians, the "kind-hearted" take us for "noble savages"... The result is the same: Muslims are seen as different from the rest of the world -- they either belong in a "petting zoo" or in cages for wild animals, but by all means they belong in a zoo.

The final argument is even more awful because it can only be described as cowardly. Religious fundamentalists are spreading out (not only Islamic fundamentalist) and freedom of thought must be defended no matter what. There must not be any compromise on this otherwise we set the track for a retreat into the Middle Ages and this can happen much faster than many people think.

My position with regard to the historical existence of Muhammad is that I believe neither his existence nor his non-existence can be proven. I, however, lean towards the non-existence but I don't think it can be proven. It is my impression that, unless there are some sensational archeological discoveries -- an Islamic "Qumran" or "Nag Hammadi" -- the question of Muhammad's existence will probably never be finally clarified.



By Jeff Jacoby

It has been widely noted that black voters put California's Proposition 8 over the top last week, with nearly 7 out of 10 voting in favor of the constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. As the magnitude of black opposition to same-sex marriage became clear on Election Day, blogger Andrew Sullivan, a prominent gay-marriage champion, reacted bitterly:

"Every ethnic group supported marriage equality," he wrote, "except African-Americans, who voted overwhelmingly against extending to gay people the civil rights once denied them."

Well, let's see. The civil rights once denied to black Americans included the right to register as a voter, the right to cast a ballot, the right to use numerous public facilities, the right to get a fair hearing in court, the right to send their children to an integrated public school, and the right to equal opportunity in housing and employment. Have gay people been denied any of these rights? Have they been forced to sit in the back of buses? Confined to segregated neighborhoods? Barred from serving on juries? Subjected to systematic economic exploitation?

Plainly, declining to change the timeless definition of marriage deprives no one of "the civil rights once denied" to blacks, and it is an absurdity to claim otherwise. It is also a poisonous slur: For if opposing same-sex marriage is like opposing civil rights, then voters who backed Proposition 8 are no better than racists, the moral equivalent of those who turned the fire hoses on blacks in Birmingham in 1963. Which is, of course, exactly what proponents of same-sex marriage contend.

It has become routine for the defenders of traditional wedlock to be cast as the worst sort of hateful bigots, "gladly donning the roles played by Lester Maddox and George Wallace in the civil rights era," to quote The New York Times's Frank Rich. Anyone who insists that marriage can only mean the union of male and female -- and "anyone" now includes a majority of voters in 30 of the 30 states where marriage amendments have been on the ballot -- can expect to be told that they are no better than racists, modern-day segregationists motivated by malevolence and an evil heart.

Thus, supporters of same-sex marriage regularly referred to the California ballot measure as "Proposition Hate," while a group calling itself "Californians Against Hate" launched a website to publicize the names and addresses of donors to the Yes-on-8 campaign. Yet it was the foes of Proposition 8 whose hatred and intolerance were most vividly on display. Signs promoting the amendment were stolen or defaced, churches were vandalized, and at least one supporter of the amendment ended up in the hospital after being beaten by an assailant screaming: "What do you have against gays?"

For sheer hatefulness and bigotry, however, nothing surpassed the anti-Proposition 8 television ad that depicted two Mormon missionaries forcing their way into the home of a married lesbian couple. "Hi, we're here from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," one of the Mormons says. "We're here to take away your rights," says the other. The missionaries pull the wedding rings from the women's fingers, then proceed to ransack the house, looking for their marriage license. When they find it, they triumphantly tear it up. "Hey, we have rights," one of the women protests. "Not if we can help it," one of the missionaries smugly replies. As the commercial ends, a message appears on the screen: "Say NO to a church taking over your government."

If black voters overwhelmingly reject the claim that marriage amendments like Proposition 8 are nothing more than bigotry-fueled assaults on civil rights, perhaps it is because they know only too well what real bigotry looks like. Perhaps it is because they resent the assertion that adhering to the ageless meaning of marriage is tantamount to supporting the pervasive humiliation and cruelty of Jim Crow. Perhaps it is because they are not impressed by strident condemnations of "intolerance" and "hate" by people who traffic in rank anti-Mormon hatemongering.

Or perhaps it is because they understand that a fundamental gulf separates the civil rights movement from the demand for same-sex marriage. One was a fight for genuine equality, for the right of black Americans to live on the same terms, and under the same restrictions, as whites. The other is a demand to change the terms on which marriage has always been available by giving it a meaning it has never before had. That isn't civil rights -- and playing the race card doesn't change that fact.


BBC rapped by its own watchdog over 'biased' Thatcher show

The BBC broke impartiality rules in a Hugh Edwards-fronted documentary about Welsh politics that attacked Margaret Thatcher. The broadcaster's own governing body today found it guilty of being unfair and inaccurate in the programme. The ruling came about after an incensed viewer complained about the unbalanced and misleading programme on Welsh self-government.

The complainant said the programme gave an `erroneous' impression that former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher had `caused riots in Wales'. The viewer spotted that the BBC misleadingly inserted footage of miner's strike violence from England and implied it was happening from Wales.

Today the BBC Trust, which regulates the corporation, admitted the unlabelled footage had broken accuracy guidelines. Huw Edwards, who fronts the Ten O'Clock News, was accused of `openly canvassing support' for the Welsh Assembly and was also found to have broken rules. He suggested on the programme that for the Assembly `to achieve its full potential it needs even greater support for the people of Wales than it's received so far', adding: `The more people that take part, the stronger and healthier our democracy in Wales will be.'

The corporation's governing body backed up an earlier ruling that his words were not objective and even-handed on the subject. Its Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) confirmed it was not his role to `encourage audiences to exercise their right to vote on particular occasions.'

The programme called `Wales: Power And The People - Back To The Future' had looked at Margaret Thatcher's impact on Welsh democracy. It had originally been broadcast before the May 2007 Welsh Assembly elections before being repeated on BBC2 Wales on July 23 last year.

This is just the latest example of perceived bias by the BBC against Margaret Thatcher. Last year a leading left-wing playwright claimed he was asked to criticise Baroness Thatcher for her pre-prepared BBC obituary. Sir David Hare, author of Via Dolorosa and Stuff Happens, said he was approached to provide `balance' to the pre-recorded programme. He refused, saying that he would not criticise a former Prime Minister on the night of their death.

In the latest complaint the BBC was accused of portraying Thatcher and her Government in a `biased' manner', including its selection of speakers. The viewer said the programme favoured the Welsh Assembly and the Left, and made a `concerted and continual attack' on Thatcher and the right. They said Huw Edwards presented the show as if he was `on the winning side' and claimed he treated the final scenes as a `political broadcast' for the Welsh Assembly.

The BBC originally responded saying that Edwards had given an independent and objective interpretation of historical and political events. But the complainant wrote to the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU), which partially upheld some of the issues raised. It had found the programme should have ensured greater balance, as Conservatives were seen in an `unnecessarily negative light'.

Unhappy with the first ruling the complainant appealed to the ESC, which is part of the BBC Trust. This endorsed the earlier findings, but also found that the inserted footage had been wrong too. It said use of archive footage from England in a programme mainly about Mrs Thatcher and the Welsh breached accuracy guidelines on the use of library material. The material was shot in Orgreave in 1984 when National Union of Mineworkers pickets were trying to stop coalworkers entering power stations.

The Committee found the commentary during the section was not explicit in referring to the UK as a whole and the audience might assume the footage related to Welsh events. But the ESC It said it was generally satisfied with the presentation of the facts and believed the statements about Mrs Thatcher were not inaccurate - but that they were highly contentious. The ESC said: `[The committee] considered programme four was not fair and open minded when examining the evidence and weighing all the material facts, nor was it objective and even handed in its approach to the subject of Mrs Thatcher's impact upon the evolutionary democracy in Wales.'

The earlier report had noted: `A number of contributors expressed themselves in terms which were explicitly or implicitly critical of the Thatcher Government, while only one (Lord Peter Walker) could be regarded as speaking favourably about Mrs Thatcher or her approach to Wales.'



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), 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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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