Don’t be soft on Islam, says EU terror chief

Europe’s anti-terror chief has launched a stinging attack on the political correctness that he says is hampering the campaign against militant Islam.

Gilles de Kerchove, the EU counter-terrorism co-ordinator, said last week that concern about stigmatising Muslim populations was hampering policy-making and thus prevention. ‘One of the problems … is that some member states are extremely reluctant to be explicit about the link with religion,’ said de Kerchove. ‘Religion has been hijacked and distorted for political ends.’

De Kerchove’s statement comes against a background of infighting within the EU over counter-terrorism policy. The European Commission has been working for several years on a paper analysing militancy in Europe and outlining policy to combat radicalisation. The Council of Ministers is still waiting for the now long-overdue paper, on which future policy will be based.

EU officials claimed last week the delay was because Jacques Barrot, the French Commissioner for justice, freedom and security, had grave reservations about the definition of terrorism in the commission’s policy paper and had delayed signing the policy document as it ‘went too far in blaming Muslim communities’.

A spokesman for Barrot refused to comment. ‘There is a paper that is being prepared. Our services are working on it and there is no fixed timeframe at the moment,’ he said.

De Kerchove praised the Home Office’s emphasis on countering the extremists’ message through the media. ‘We have to provide an alternative narrative,’ he said. ‘A lot of research is showing that young people being radicalised are looking for thrills as much as anything ideological. We need to show the violence for what it is, bloody and indiscriminate, and the people who do it for what they are, ugly criminals not heroes.’

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/sep/28/terrorism.eu

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Islam – Still scared of criticism?

The United Nations’ Human Rights Council has launched a new session and will consider a controversial resolution to declare religious defamation illegal.

The resolution is really designed to permit countries with a dominant religion, such as Islam, to squelch any free-speech rights of religious minorities, according to Bill Saunders of the Family Research Council (FRC).

“So for instance, in some Muslim countries, it’s considered blasphemy to just say what a Christian believes — because that is inconsistent with what Islam teaches,” Saunders explains. “Or, to try to switch from Islam to Christianity, that’s considered apostasy, and in those situations you can be punished by death.”

It is debatable whether a voice for religious freedom will be heard. “Rightly so, the world objects to that kind of thing and says to these countries [that] we need to have religious freedom,” Saunders contends. “And religious freedom includes the right to have any religion that you choose and to follow it.”

The Human rights Council is dominated by Muslim countries. The resolution is also expected to be submitted to the United Nations General Assembly.

“The idea that free speech should be so restricted is a very dangerous one,” Saunders adds.

Death to non-Muslims Law Passed (Iran)

Iran’s parliament has passed the death penalty for apostasy, which is viewed in that country as converting to any other faith than Islam.

Thousands of Iranians have been converting to Christianity, and the underground church is thriving, according to reports. But other Iranians are returning to Zoroastrianism, which was the dominant religion in Iran at one time. Jonathan Rocho, with International Christian Concern (ICC), explains.

“We, as a Christian organization, are very much concerned about this because this means many Christians who converted from Islam are going to face death, simply because of their decision to follow Jesus Christ,” Rocho laments.

He says Iranians are questioning the Muslim faith after living under the regime, which has been dominated by the religion since the revolution in the 1970s. “They have not seen any change in their lives,” Rocho adds. “There is even more repression, more problems going on in the country, so they are very much confused about the Islamic faith.”

Already, two Christian converts accused of apostasy have been given the death penalty. Since Iran does not easily succumb to international pressure, Rocho urges people to pray.

Marriott bombing group threatens fresh attacks on US targets

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has said he will not allow any foreign power to violate the country’s soverignity “in the name of combatting terrorism.” In his opening address to the joint houses of parliament in Islamabad on Saturday, he said that Pakistan should also understand the limits of confrontation.

This was his first speech to MPs since he replaced Pervez Musharraf in August. It was also the first by a president in almost six years.

Ahead of his first meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New York, Zardari also said that ties with India need to be “creatively re-invented.”

Zardari said that he would like to move ahead with India based on three pointers which were, as espoused by former PM Benazir Bhutto, to come up with new ideas, to make bold committments and to be honest in the relationship.

Zardari called for a parliamentary committee to investigate abolishing his powers to dissolve the assembly and dismiss the government.

“In the history of Pakistan this is the first president who is giving away his powers, he commented.”

Britain’s Youngest Terrorist Charged

18-year-old Hammaad Munshi has been sentenced to two years in a juvenile detention centre, making him the youngest person to be charged, tried and sentenced under Britain’s Terrorism Act.

Munshi was arrested after police found a guide to making napalm on his computer, and because he was associating with Aabid Khan, someone described as a “key player” in using the Internet to promote Islamic extremism.

The barrister representing Munshi said that the boy had been viewing the bomb- and napalm-making guides out of curiosity, a claim police have denied.

Blogger Arrested for 2 Years – Insulting Islam (Malaysia)

Malaysia’s most prominent blogger has been ordered to spend two years in detention under internal security laws after being accused of insulting Islam, his wife said Tuesday.

Raja Petra was detained under the tough Internal Security Act (ISA) for allegedly “insulting Islam and publishing articles on his website, which has tarnished the country’s leadership to the point of causing confusion among the people,” his wife said.

Full Story: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5h_0rU9tc6f5grv8KTedN-NRxsy-A

Death penalty for man accused of homosexuality (Iran)

Nemat Safavi, arrested almost three years ago at the age of 16, has been condemned to death by a court in Ardebil, in the northwest Iranian Azerbaijan region.

Nemat has not killed anyone, stolen anything or even carried out any political activism.

Nemat has been accused of having homosexual relations.While that was not stated during the court case, he was accused of “sexual relations that were not admitted”.

A year ago, on a visit to Colombia University in New York, Iran’s hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said “there were no homosexuals” in Iran in response to a question from a student.