Monday, June 06, 2016

Islam training manual used in British prisons includes a section on waging a holy war and 'teaches inmates to become jihadists'

A manual of Islam used in British prisons teaches inmates about jihad and 'incites' them to wage holy war, it has been claimed.

The Tarbiyah (Islamic study) programme has a section on holy war and advises that taking up arms against the enemies of Allah is 'one of the noblest acts'.

Shaeikh Musa Admani has called for it to be removed because it 'incites' violence and helps convicted terrorists manipulate younger inmates towards extremism.

And the Ministry of Justice has refused to release the document to MailOnline due to 'security concerns', despite the fact it has been available in prisons since 2011.

They said they are investigating the issue and will publish a 'summary document' when it has been revised.

It comes amid claims that inmates in high-security jails have formed Islamic councils who administer sharia law and dole out physical punishment to other prisoners for actions they consider anti-Islam.

A former prison officer told the BBC that there were multiple occasions where prisoners feet were 'severely battered' during punishments, and Muslims have 'taken over' the law of some jails.

The recent scandal comes after another teaching course was removed last year after it emerged that it was written by extremists.

The Tarbiyah teaches inmates the difference between internal jihad, the struggle for improvement, and external, the fight against evil - but Admani says there is too much focus on fighting.

The document, seen by the BBC, reads: 'There may necessitate a time to pick up arms and physical [sic] fight such evil... It is one of the noblest acts.'

The statement in the manual, which was written by imams and Ahtsham Ali, an adviser to the Ministry of Justice, is followed by a section from the Koran.

There are currently 12,328 Muslim prisoners in England and Wales, which is 15 per cent of the prison population - and 131 were convicted of terrorist offences.

Mr Admani, an expert in interpreting Islamic texts, worries that it focuses on violence and could make prisoners more violent:

He told the BBC: 'This document sets out the steps and then addresses various forms of jihad and then goes on to emphasise a particular type ie. the killing and the fighting.

'It incites people to take up arms... It prepares people for violence. It could turn people when they come out of prison, supposedly rehabilitated, back into violence.

'It hinders all the aims that the Ministry of Justice might have to achieve peace and harmony. This document works against it, it doesn't add an iota to that good intention and they need to remove it as quickly as possible and then rehabilitate those who have learnt it.'

A spokesman added: 'Islamist extremism is one of the biggest threats facing this country. That is why the Justice Secretary commissioned the first ever review of Islamist extremism in prisons.

'As we have made clear, the report has been received and a summary document will be published in due course.

'The MoJ and NOMS are already taking forward urgent work in this area.'

A comes after a damning report is expected to claim that officers were being exploited by Islamic inmates who are aware staff are worried about losing their job due to racism complaints.

The independent review, commissioned by Justice Secretary Michael Gove, also recommended that prisoners convicted of terror offences be kept away from other Muslims in a specially designed blocks at high-security jails.

Experts believe this will stop the cons from meeting up with other non-militant inmates and using occasions such as Friday prayers as a chance to recruit them for their jihadi cause.

Publication of the review, conducted by former Home Office official Ian Acheson and to be released this month, was delayed by Government bosses over fears that it might have been toned down in order to detract criticism from National Offender Management Scheme (NOMS) staff.

Over 12,000 Muslims are behind bars in England and Wales with 130 of those serving terror related sentences, while Government officials believe that 1,000 could be vulnerable to radicalisation.


EU Elites Join American Social Media to Define Hate Speech

Apparently Facebook is no longer content to suppress “unpleasant” (read: conservative) ideas only in America. Mark Zuckerberg’s social media juggernaut has joined equally “enlightened” IT giants Twitter, Microsoft and YouTube in a partnership with the European Commission to produce a Code of Conduct that includes “a series of commitments to combat the spread of illegal hate speech online in Europe.” This Social Justice League also aims to “ensure that relevant national laws transposing the Council Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia are fully enforced by Member States in the online as well as the in the offline environment.” Some members of the European Parliament rightfully branded the move as “Orwellian.”

Nonetheless, spokespeople for each organization assured the public there is nothing to worry about.

“The recent terror attacks have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech,” insists Vĕra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. “Social media is unfortunately one of the tools that terrorist groups use to radicalize young people and racists use to spread violence and hatred.”

“Hateful conduct has no place on Twitter and we will continue to tackle this issue head on alongside our partners in industry and civil society,” offers Karen White, Twitter’s Head of Public Policy for Europe. “We remain committed to letting the Tweets flow. However, there is a clear distinction between freedom of expression and conduct that incites violence and hate.”

“We’re committed to giving people access to information through our services, but we have always prohibited illegal hate speech on our platforms,” claims Lie Junius, Google’s Public Policy and Government Relations Director. “We have efficient systems to review valid notifications in less than 24 hours and to remove illegal content. We are pleased to work with the Commission to develop co- and self-regulatory approaches to fighting hate speech online.”

“We welcome today’s announcement and the chance to continue our work with the Commission and wider tech industry to fight hate speech,” states Monika Bickert, Head of Global Policy Management at Facebook. “With a global community of 1.6 billion people we work hard to balance giving people the power to express themselves whilst ensuring we provide a respectful environment. As we make clear in our Community Standards, there’s no place for hate speech on Facebook.”

“We value civility and free expression, and so our terms of use prohibit advocating violence and hate speech on Microsoft-hosted consumer services,” says John Frank, Vice President EU Government Affairs at Microsoft. “We recently announced additional steps to specifically prohibit the posting of terrorist content. We will continue to offer our users a way to notify us when they think that our policy is being breached. Joining the Code of Conduct reconfirms our commitment to this important issue.”

It gets worse. In addition to suppressing speech deemed “hateful,” these platforms pledge to promote “counter-narratives” and organizations the EU deems “un-hateful” and to “re-educate” those they brand as hateful. Toward that end they have agreed to establish internal protocols and staff training aimed at guaranteeing an assessment and removal of unlawful content within 24 hours.

Britain’s reliably leftist newspaper The Guardian was somewhat upset with this development — because it didn’t go far enough. That’s because “the limited scope leaves many aspects of online abuse still uncovered: harassment on gender grounds, for instance, is not considered hate speech according to the code of conduct.”

Unlike the Unites States — at least not too much — the EU has established quite a laundry list of hate speech offenses. Under the heading, “Offences Concerning Racism and Xenophobia,” they include “public incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined on the basis of race, colour, descent, religion or belief, or national or ethnic origin,” the “public dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material” in that regard, and “publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

MEP Janice Atkinson exposes just how wide a net the Commission is casting. “If an MEP, such as the centre-right Hungarians, the Danish People’s Party, the Finns, the Swedish Democrats, the Austrian FPO, say no to migration quotas because they cannot cope with the cultural and religious requirements of Muslims across the Middle East who are seeking refugee status, is that a hate crime?” she asks. “And what is their punishment? It’s a frightening path to totalitarianism.”

It’s also monumentally ironic. No one relishes the suppression of free speech more than those longing to establish a worldwide Islamic Caliphate, or those seeking to maintain virtual gulags under Communist or other tyrannical rule. Much like the American and European Left animating this latest adventure, they also believe they own the franchise on enlightened thinking. Thinking that apparently grants them the power to define slippery terms like racism and xenophobia.

Is it xenophobic to disdain the onslaught of more than a million “refugees” from Middle East nations?

UKIP’s Justice and Home Affairs spokeswoman Diane James brings another dose of perspective to the mix, explaining that the EU was sold as a common market, but has now morphed into a political union that “wishes to decide and compromise our civil liberties as a people.”

It is a move that may ultimately backfire. In a stunning turnaround, a majority of British citizens now appear to be in favor of leaving the EU when the vote on the issue takes place June 23. Those staunchly against a “Brexit” have framed such a move as an economic disaster, or the successful promotion of anti-immigrant sentiment. But maybe much of it is a rejection of exactly the kind of elitist suppression by a transnational European Commission whose members are selected by EU member governments. Maybe like millions of Americans, the British also want their country back. Maybe they don’t want a handful of elitists defining what constitutes “improper” speech that can be eliminated for the “greater good” at best — or prosecuted at worst. And maybe, just maybe, they’re disgusted with the idea of having “counter-narratives” shoved down their collective throats “for their own good.”

And if Britain goes, others are sure to follow. National sovereignty and democracy have ways of catching on.


Fear and censorship in Germany

The prosecution of the Pegida leader reflects the elite’s contempt for the people

Earlier this month, Lutz Bachmann, founder and head of Pegida, Germany’s anti-Islam movement, was convicted and fined €9,600 for having called refugees ‘cattle’, ‘filth’ and ‘scum’ in a 2014 Facebook post. This, a Dresden court ruled, was a criminal offence under Germany’s ‘incitement of the people’ law (‘Volksverhetzung’).

Volksverhetzung bans speech that could incite hatred against a national, racial, religious or ethnic minority. As well as limiting speech that calls for ‘violent or arbitrary measures’, it also regulates ‘assaults on the human dignity by insulting segments of the population or individuals because of their belonging to a minority group’.

Bachmann’s conviction was widely celebrated in the German media. ‘Of course it would have been nicer if the Pegida founder… had been put behind bars for his hateful yak’, wrote one commentator in taz. ‘But at least there has been a sentence.’ The paper Die Zeit found the court’s decision ‘hard and courageous’, cautioning, however, that it would not be enough to make Bachmann shut up in the future.

Not one mainstream commentator asked if perhaps Bachmann’s rants (as ugly and despicable as they were) should have been protected under the right to free speech. Despite the fact that Volksverhetzung was never formally established in an election or a referendum, it has been accepted as commonsense law, particularly among the German middle class.

The support for censorship has always been particularly pronounced among members of the German liberal-left. Indeed, one of the harshest amendments to Volksverhetzung was made in 2005 under the coalition government of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Greens. A fourth paragraph was added to the law, criminalising ‘whoever approves of, glorifies or justifies the violent and despotic rule of the National Socialists in a way that disturbs the public peace in a manner that violates the dignity of the victims’.

Often Germany’s history is used to justify such censorship. However, this disregards the contemporary context. If such laws are designed to stop another rise of Nazism, why are they being applied more and more frequently today? If they are meant to be a tool reserved for neo-Nazis, why are they being used to censor people like Bachmann, who, despite his despicable views, is not a fascist?

The law was first drafted in 1959 by a conservative government in an attempt to take a stance against a perceived Nazi revival after an arson attack on a synagogue. But it is only in recent years that charges under Volksverhetzung have shot up. In 2014, over 2,600 charges were brought, leading one German daily newspaper to claim that suing for sedition was becoming Germany’s new national sport.

In the past, the law was mainly applied to young men who shouted Nazi slogans (often while under the influence of alcohol). But today more than half of the charges relate to Facebook posts and anti-immigrant rants. In most cases, these are dropped by the court. (Earlier this year, Bachmann was charged under Volksverhetzung for selling t-shirts with the slogan ‘Rapefugees not welcome’, following accusations of sexual assaults committed by migrants against women on New Year’s Eve in Cologne.) However, looking over some of the cases in 2016 alone, gives us an indication of the true nature of the law:

    On 12 February, a YouTube vlogger was sentenced to eight months in prison sentence and fined €15,000 for referring to striking train conductors as ‘vermin’ who should be gassed. ‘Do you remember how the Jews were brought to Auschwitz by train? That’s where we should bring these conductors’, he wrote.

    Two weeks later, a 56-year-old, who had written nasty stuff about Muslims on the internet, was fined €3,150.

    In May, two football fans were fined €5,400 each for singing a chant about building an underground line from Jerusalem to Auschwitz.

    In the same week, a woman was fined €1,200 for showing a collage of a Kinder Surprise in the shape of a grenade with the caption ‘special edition for asylum seekers’.

Volksverhetzung is clearly not just an anti-Nazi law. And its mission creep shows the dangers of outlawing any speech, including far-right speech, since this concedes the principle of freedom and prepares the ground for widespread censorship. From the start, it was a law with the potential to censor all sorts of unpleasant, anti-mainstream views. To the liberals who support this law, free speech is not a principle which applies to all, but a mechanism with which to fight off evil and present themselves as the force of good.

In 2009, a neo-Nazi filed suit against Volksverhetzung and lost. Though the constitutional court emphasised its ‘strong and explicit’ protection of free speech, it found it constitutional to make exceptions based on the horrors and injustices of the Nazi regime. By targeting the far right, one commentator said, the court had ‘signalled to the liberal-left that they needn’t worry about their own freedoms’. This, he concluded, was a bad law ‘directed at the right people’.

But any restriction on speech is an affront to freedom and democracy. Volksverhetzung, and the support it enjoys, is one of the clearest expressions of the deep distrust that the German elites feel towards the people. Indeed, the law is often justified as necessary for protecting minorities from the fury of the masses. Putting people like Bachmann on trial is not just an attempt to stop him from saying what he wants, it is also a powerful signal to the rest of us to watch what we say.

It is also indicative of the cowardice and risk-aversion of sections of the German middle class. Censoring Bachmann reflects the middle class’s lack of faith in ordinary people’s ability to judge and challenge his opinions in open debate. Ultimately, it expresses their lack of faith in open debate, and our ability, as a society, to sort truth from untruth through free encounter. This is tragedy, because the best protection for the minorities Bachmann rants about is free and open discourse.

Lutz Bachmann has exploited this mood of cowardice. Despite being one of the most obnoxious individuals Germany has seen for a while, he has proven himself to be unusually media-savvy and adept at exploiting the double standards of German society. He appeared in court wearing strange, rectangle sunglasses, mimicking the black bars printed over people’s eyes in newspaper reports in order to obscure their identity. He called them ‘censorship glasses’, in an attempt to mock the court and the incitement law.

Bachmann, of course, is no free-speech activist. Like German liberals, he would also censor views he didn’t like given half the chance. But it is Volksverhetzung that has allowed him to pose as a freedom fighter. Let’s scrap it.


Self-Medication: A Neglected Front in the Argument over Drug Policy

by Sean Gabb

For the past twenty years, the mainstream debate on drug relegalisation has organised itself round four chief positions.

First, there is the libertarian position. We ought to have the right to do with our minds and bodies as we please. This includes the enjoyment of chemical pleasures. If pleasure comes at a risk, that is our problem.

Second, there are the puritans. Some of these believe that pleasure is bad, and that they have an obligation and a right to stop it wherever possible. Some – and this is not always just a front for hatred of pleasure – look at the risks and derive from these the obligation and right to control others for their own benefit.

Third, there are the opportunists. The War on Drugs has become a path to income and status. Prohibiting drugs does not make then unavailable, but enables the growth of criminal enterprises that would not otherwise exist. This growth in turn legitimises the growth of opposing bureaucracies of enforcement that employ tens or hundreds of thousands at the national and international level. Again in turn, the enforcers are open to bribes from the criminals. Then there are the bankers who launder the proceeds, or use the consequent War on Money Laundering to legitimise controls that entrench their own position in the financial markets.

Fourth, there are the pragmatic libertarians. These may or may not be ideological libertarians. Their argument begins with a cost-benefit analysis of the present system, and ends with the claim that there would be fewer deaths and less crime and corruption if the War on Drugs was called off.

My own position is both one and four. I have trouble understanding what drives the puritans, and I despise the opportunists. But I am drawn increasingly to an advance on my stated positions - an advance that might appeal to people who do not identify as libertarians, but who are not committed to positions two and three.. I believe we should have the right not just to make ourselves immediately happy, but also to try to cure ourselves of illness. I believe that ending the War on Drugs would benefit the world not only in the negative sense, of removing unnecessary evils, but also in the positive sense, of quickening medical progress.

A few years ago, someone I know fell into a serious depression. If he had various reasons for unhappiness, his depression was an excessive response. He was frightened to go to his doctor, because that would go on his medical records, and that might harm his future prospects. Perhaps this was an unreasonable fear. But it is not unusual. So I went to a website based in India, and bought a three month supply of fluoxetine, which is the generic name for Prozac. I know that Prozac is not always what its inventers claimed it to be. Even so, within a month, my friend was restored to a state of mind in which he was better able to deal with the real problems in his life.

The doctors like to tell us that diagnosis and treatment are difficult matters that require a long education to do properly. There is some truth in this. I believe the symptoms of kidney stones and stomach cancer have much in common, and the treatment for one will do nothing for the other. On the other hand, most diagnoses are not difficult. A Google search will usually do at least as well as a visit to a general practitioner. Modern diagnostic machines are just computers with various kinds of input devices. I might need a specialist to tell me if I had a brain tumour, and certainly a specialist to remove it. I think I could diagnose my own diabetes or arthritis, and I could then choose with reasonable competence what, if any, medications for treating it.

Instead, we have laws that ban the legitimate supply of most drugs, or turn the supply into a medical monopoly. Doctors will not usually prescribe without a diagnosis. Getting a medical diagnosis is expensive or involves a long wait. Even then, doctors are often mean with prescribing. By a combination of training and their own personalities, they incline to puritanism. Or they are answerable for how they prescribe to puritanical bureaucracies. This makes them especially mean with prescribing pain relief. Drugs like Tramadol may be addictive, and there may be dangerous side effects. That does not justify leaving old people with bone disorders in constant pain. I see no reason why the terminally ill should not be sent off in a blaze of opium-fuelled euphoria, or why the depressed should not be allowed, by trial and error, to find whatever drug or cocktail of drugs will restore the balance of their minds.

I repeat – doctors are hardly redundant. But doctors are a limited resource. And, however, funded, health budgets are always under pressure. Leaving us to our own diagnoses and medications would allow the medical professions – such as they ought to exist as they do – to focus on those areas where they are of actual use. So far as I can tell, most general practitioners spend most of their time handing out advice and prescriptions that could, with little harm, be left to pharmacists or the Internet.

I come to the positive side of my argument. I recently gave a lecture on Mill’s Essay on Liberty. One of the many passages in this work that makes you stop and reread puts the case for what he calls “experiments of living.” He says, in Chapter III:

As it is useful that while mankind are imperfect there should be different opinions, so is it that there should be different experiments of living; that free scope should be given to varieties of character, short of injury to others; and that the worth of different modes of life should be proved practically, when any one thinks fit to try them. It is desirable, in short, that in things which do not primarily concern others, individuality should assert itself.

In virtually all countries, there are pharmaceutical regulations that require testing of new products before they can be made generally available. These are justified by reminders of what can happen when a new drug fails. Thalidomide is the usual example – a drug to treat morning sickness that caused many thousands of children to be born deformed. It is an argument for putting elsewhere that the compulsory testing schemes we have slow down the introduction of new treatments, and that thousands are saved from side effects at the cost of millions who die for lack of treatment. But the principle of testing is a good one. All drugs are complex things. So too the human body. No one can know in advance what the larger effects will be of a new treatment.

Now, very often, new uses will be found for existing treatments. These are generally found by accident. I believe that Viagra was developed as a treatment for heart disease. Only when tested was it revealed as a powerful aphrodisiac. Aspirin had been on sale for a century before anyone realised it might be useful for preventing or treating strokes. A few years ago, someone discovered by accident that bicarbonate of soda was a safe and effective treatment for certain kinds of kidney failure.

Or a medical consensus may be wrong. For nearly half a century, we have been told that obesity is caused by eating too many calories, and that the best diet for diabetes is high in carbohydrate and low in fat. These consensus appear to be falling apart as I write. Or there is the dead consensus that peptic ulcers are caused by lifestyle and hard to treat. We know now that they are often caused by an infection. Or there is the growing belief that much heart disease is caused by a Vitamin B deficiency – calling in doubt the consensus on other risk factors.

With the exception of dietary advice, these advances came from within the medical and pharmaceutical establishment. For any number of reasons, however, some already given, this is an establishment highly averse to innovation outside an established line of progress. The bacterium theory of ulcers was ridiculed until overwhelming evidence was produced. The Vitamin B theory was virtually suppressed for a generation. In justification, it is the duty of scientists to be sceptical of radical breaks from whatever seems already to be proven. But add professional monopolies to scepticism, and the result can be a slowing of progress.

I return to the present dispute over dietary advice. The calorie and low fat theories have been disputed for a long time; but it is only because dietary advice has not been monopolised, and because of a public outcry, that this debate is now taking place within the relevant establishment. It would be a worthwhile change, I suggest, if all medical treatments and advice were subject to the same open testing and experiment. There is a natural limit to the number of accidental discoveries and new departures we can expect from within the establishment. Medical progress would be quickened if every individual who so fancied were free to experiment on himself and communicate his real or apparent discoveries to the world.

No doubt, some people would medicate themselves to death. But, as I said at the beginning of this essay, I am a libertarian, and I believe in the right to take risks. And some of these experiments, I have no doubt, would be as beneficial as the accidental discovery of morphine and penicillin, or the accidental discovery that people who had caught cow pox were immune from small pox.

And so the debate on drugs should rightly include defences of the right to get high without having your front door kicked in by the police. But it should also include an awareness of the possibility that someone will find – say – that the right mix of aspirin, turmeric and nifedipine can cure cancer or extend our lives to five hundred years. We need more of Mill’s “experiments of living,” not fewer. We need a general right of self-diagnosis and of self-medication.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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