Those of us on the left – who advocate religious acceptance and diversity – must surely speak louder about the persecution of Christians. The suffering and oppression is real, and in many places, getting ever worse. If we do not speak out, the danger is it will be left to those with ulterior motives who wish to hijack misery to fuel religious hatred – with disastrous consequences.
Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category
“It’s a good atmosphere, you know? You’re not living under oppression. You’re not living under rule.” says British Jihadist.
Thousands of Christians are reported to be fleeing after Islamic militants seized the minority’s biggest town in Iraq.
The Islamic State (IS) group captured Qaraqosh in Nineveh province overnight after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces.
An international Christian organisation said at least a quarter of Iraq’s Christians were leaving Qaraqosh and other surrounding towns.
IS has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria to create an Islamic caliphate.
Kurdish forces, known as the Peshmerga, have been fighting the Sunni militants’ advance in the north for weeks.
In a separate development, the United Nations says it has rescued some of the thousands of people trapped by IS militants in mountains near the town of Sinjar.
Up to 50,000 members of the Yazidi religious minority fled there after IS overran Sinjar at the weekend.
More on the BBC site.
The French journal L’Express carries this report, Irak: 100 000 chrétiens en fuite, les djihadistes enlèvent les croix des églises.
100, 000 Christians flee as Jihadists take Church crosses down.
40,000 Iraqis stranded on Sinjar mountain after Islamic State death threats
Tens of thousands of members of Iraqi religious minority groups are dying of heat and thirst on Mount Sinjar, human rights groups say, after death threats from Islamic State – formerly Isis.
Tens of thousands of members of Iraqi religious minority groups driven from their homes for fear of the jihadist group Islamic State are dying of thirst and heat on a desert mountainside in the north of the country, according to the United Nations and human rights groups.
Some 40 children have already died from the heat and dehydration, the UN children’s organisation Unicef says, while upwards of 40,000 more are sheltering in the bare mountains, without food or water or access to supplies. It says 25,000 children may be stranded.
Yesterday’s Newsnight broadcast a video of a British man fighting for ISIS (The Islamic State’s Syrian wing) next to a corpse.
Their recruitment video (which you can see in all its obscenity here) of this gang features the following.
..men who claim to be from all over the world including Britain, Belgium, Morocco, Finland and Indonesia. They talk about how happy they are to be in a Muslim society and encourage others to join them.
It’s a good atmosphere, you know? You’re not living under oppression. You’re not living under rule,” Abu Abdullah Al-Habashi said, speaking in a British accent. “As Muslims, that’s what we want and that’s what we need. We don’t need any democracy, we don’t need any communism, we don’t need anything like that.”
The news above illustrates what this “atmosphere” means for thousands of civilians.
Let us have no more of these apologies for the British volunteers going to support these genociders (21st July 2014),
Muslim leaders in the UK have warned against laws that automatically brand British fighters in Syria as terrorists.
It comes as Home Secretary Theresa May launches a campaign today to discourage young men from going to fight in Syria and Iraq. A short film will focus on the distress it can cause their families.
But some in the Muslim community have told Sky News the Government’s legal stance on fighting abroad could “increase the risk” to the UK.
Abdullah al Andalusi, a senior researcher at the Muslim Debate Initiative, said: “It’s hypocritical of the UK Government to expect Muslims not to go, if they feel they want to fight in a just war.
“Bertrand Russell, George Orwell – they went to the Spanish civil war, people were going to fight Gaddafi in Libya and that was all fine.
“So I worry that the British Government should dictate to us what is fine and what is not fine about where to go, when the situations could be arguably very similar in all those places.”
From Rudaw (Kurdish Media Network).
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Protests are ramping up around the world against Islamic extremists who have purged Iraqi Christians from lands they have inhabited for 2,000 years.
Demonstrations against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been held in England, Canada, Germany, France, Unites States, Sweden, Denmark and Australia since the militia began threatening Christians in Mosul to convert or be killed and blew up a tomb believed to be the burial place of the Biblical prophet Jonah last week. ISIS took control of Iraq’s second-largest city, where Christians have lived for the past 2,000 years, in June.
In many protests the demonstrators displayed the Arabic letter “N” for “Nasrani,” which means Christian in Arabic. With slogans such as “Save the Christians of Iraq” and “Stop ISIS!” the protests have also attracted many Arab and Kurdish Sunni and Shia Muslims, Yezidis, Faylis and other minorities showing solidarity with persecuted Christians.
“I’ve come here to show that we all stand together and say no to discrimination, regardless of religion and ethnicity,” Khalil Yassin, an Arab Sunni and leader of the Iraqi Cultural Centre in Copenhagen, told Rudaw.
“I show my support for my Christian brothers and condemn in the strongest terms ISIS’ threats and actions,” Mossa Rashid, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Denmark, said.
The protests began after Louis Raphael Sako, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Baghdad and the leader of Iraq’s biggest church, issued a plea for international support.
“The control exercised by the Islamist jihadists upon the city of Mosul, and their proclamation of it as an Islamic State, after several days of calm and expectant watching of events, has now come to reflect negatively upon the Christian population of the city and its environs,” Sako maintained.
Copenhagen Catholic Bishop Czeslaw Kozon said more western leaders need to denounce ISIS’ attack on Christians.
“Once again we see that persecution of Christians is not historical, but is happening right now,” he said. “It is worrying that so few are aware of what is happening and that there is very little press coverage.”
Most of those who fled Mosul in recent weeks are now in the Kurdistan Region. Mosul is the capital of Nineveh province, which was once home to around 60,000 Assyrians, Chaldeans and other Christians.
“We are grateful to anyone who provides assistance to Christians in need,” Kozon said.
There are about 4,000 Iraqi Christians in Denmark. Despite the distance, they are impacted by the violence in Mosul and elsewhere, said Marcus Sabri, the organizer of the demonstration in Copenhagen and a leader in the Iraqi Christian Mar Abba parish.
“These are inhumane acts against Christians in Iraq. That is our country, where we have always lived. These are our historic buildings, heritage and churches that are being destroyed by ISIS,” Sabri said.
Jens Juul Petersen, a Danish aid worker who works on Iraq, said Iraqi Christians are often wrongly viewed as “western lackeys … despite the fact that they are among the world’s oldest Christian communities.”
Christians in Iraq are splintered among different groups, aren’t closely tied to the Vatican and don’t have a unified stance that would help them lobby for western support. They also don’t have militias, making them more vulnerable to Islamic extremists, Petersen said.
Alan Pary, a poet originally from Sulaimaniya, is a self-described Chaldean-Kurdish-Christian living in Denmark. He also criticized silence of western leaders.
“It’s horrible that ISIS comes in and expels people from their homes. The west went into Iraq in 2003 to create freedom, but now there is terror and turmoil,” he said.
In Paris, where two senior ministers offered asylum to Iraq’s Christians last week, 100 members of the French parliament joined demonstrators against ISIS. In addition, protests took place in Washington, outside of the British Parliament in London, and in front of the United Nations building in the Kurdistan Region capital, Erbil.
In Australia, the National Council of Churches urged the government to pressure the UN Security Council to address the plight of Iraqi Christians. The council has donated $30,000 to the Christian refugee camps in Erbil.
This directly affects the Kurds,
Reuters, Sun Aug 3, 2014 – Islamic State Sunni insurgents have captured the northern Iraqi town of Zumar and a nearby oil field after a battle with Kurdish forces who had control of the area, witnesses said on Sunday.
Islamic State, which staged a lightning advance through northern Iraq in June, has warned residents of nearby villages along the border with Syria to leave their homes, suggesting they were planning an assault, witnesses said.
The militant group, which controls large swathes of northern and western Iraq, has threatened to march on Baghdad but has stalled its campaign just north of the town of Samarra, 100 km (62 miles) north of Baghdad.
But it has been trying to consolidate its gains, setting its sights on strategic towns near oilfields, as well as the border with Syria so that its fighters can move easily back and forth and bring in supplies.
An official in the Northern Oil Company said Islamic State fighters had taken control of the Ain Zalah oil field and a nearby refinery. The insurgents had already seized four oil fields, which help fund their operations.
In a statement on its website, Islamic State said its fighters killed scores of Kurdish fighters in a 24-hour battle and then took over Zumar and 12 villages.
“Hundreds fled leaving vehicles and a huge number of weapons and munitions and the brothers control many areas,” Islamic State said, including Zumar and “the area of Ain Zalah which is rich with oil.
“The fighters arrived in the border triangle between Iraq, Syria and Turkey,” it said.
There are many causes worth supporting at the moment.
The appeal to stop Israel’s actions in Gaza is one.
But this is of utmost urgency as well.
Owen Jones has said,
These are two protests.
Wider action, including from the progressive and labour movement, would be welcome.
The Islamic State, which last month declared a “caliphate” comprising large swathes of northern Iraq and Syria, has threatened a Christian presence in the region spanning close to two millennia.On Monday the United Nations Security Council denounced militant persecution of Christians and other minorities in Iraq, warning such actions can be considered crimes against humanity.Before the 2003 US invasion, more than a million Christians lived in Iraq, including more than 600,000 in Baghdad and 60,000 in Mosul, as well as a substantial number in the oil city of Kirkuk and in Basra.Until their forced exodus over the weekend, Christians had been continuously present in Mosul for about 16 centuries.Read more: (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News)
Shahid Akmal, “white women have the least amount of morals.”
The Birmingham Mail has just revealed another scandal behind the ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations,
Undercover report reveals Birmingham school chief claimed women are ‘emotionally weaker’ and that British people have ‘colonial blood’.
By Nick Sommerlad
One of the ringleaders of the Islamist plot to take over British schools is exposed today as a sexist, racist bigot.
School chief Shahid Akmal told an undercover reporter from Birmingham Mail sister paper the Mirror, that “white women have the least amount of morals”, white children were “lazy” and that British people have “colonial blood”.
Akmal claimed that women were “emotionally weaker” than men and that their role was to look after children and the home.
He defended jailing or exiling gays and adulterers under Sharia Law as a “moral position to hold”.
Until he was removed last week, Akmal was the chairman of governors at Nansen Primary School in Birmingham, where music was banned and inspectors found pupils were not sufficiently protected from radicalisation.
The hardliner revealed he has plans to set up a series of after-school tuition centres to instil “our morals and our values and our principles” in impressionable youngsters.
Over a series of meetings, Akmal made a string of extraordinary statements and defended Britons fighting in Syria and Iraq as “freedom fighters”.
In a defiant attack, Akmal claimed the Government wanted to keep Muslims “suppressed” so they are easier to control.
Asked if white children were lazy he said: “Exactly. Thank you very much. And they don’t want to accept that.” He insisted: “I tell you, our women are much, much better consciously in the heart than any white women.
“White women have the least amount of morals.”
He argued that girls should be taught skills like cooking and sewing while boys should be taught trades like construction and mechanics.
Akmal attacked women who became “high flying” politicians: “She has to sacrifice her family, she has to sacrifice her children, she has to sacrifice her husband, all in the name of equality. And there are so many marriages that have broken up because of this.”
He appeared to defend British Muslims joining rebels in Syria and Iraq, despite official warnings of a terrorism threat when they return to the UK.
He said: “The fact that he has gone there to fight, they say that he is supporting terrorists. Because they don’t believe in the freedom fight.”
The alleged Trojan Horse plotters had been attacked for “wanting the best for our children”, claimed Akmal. He said: “They basically don’t want the children to do any better because they will demand education, they will demand better qualifications, they will want to go to Oxford and Cambridge and that’s a white only place. Very few non-whites go there.
“They want to keep us suppressed. It’s easier to control. If you get education you get a mind. When you get a mind, you ask questions. They don’t like that.
This comes as the Clarke report into Birmingham schools was formally presented.
Amongst its findings ITN highlights this,
Teachers at schools involved in the ‘Trojan Horse’ investigation allegedly claimed the murder of Lee Rigby was “some kind of staged event or hoax”, according to a government report.
The report’s author, retired counter-terrorism officer Peter Clarke, analysed the contents of a social media discussion between teachers at Park View School who called themselves ‘The Park View Brotherhood’.
The teachers allegedly joked about Lee Rigby’s death on the WhatsApp messaging service. Credit: Daniel Reinhardt/DPA/Press Association Images
Clarke’s report says the group of teachers exchanged “highly offensive comments about British service personnel” on the WhatsApp messaging service.
He also described the general contents of the teachers’ discussions as “grossly intolerant of beliefs and practices other than their own”.
School chiefs and parents ‘involved in promoting Islam’
Last updated Tue 22 Jul 2014
Governors, deputy and acting headteachers, trustees and parents were involved in a pattern of behaviour “moving between schools” in Birmingham, an inquiry into alleged ‘Trojan Horse’ schools has found.
In a 151-page report for Birmingham City Council, Ian Kershaw concluded: “The evidence shows individuals have been seeking to promote and encourage Islamic principles in the schools with which they are involved, by seeking to introduce Islamic collective worship, or raising objections to elements of the school curriculum that are viewed as anti-Islamic.”
Mr Kershaw’s report said the problems had been allowed to run “unchecked” due to what he branded “weaknesses in the system and poor oversight of governance” mainly by the city council, but also by Ofsted, the Education Funding Agency and the DfE.
In his report, Mr Clarke, who served as head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit, said he “neither specifically looked for, nor found, evidence of terrorism, radicalisation or violent extremism in the schools of concern in Birmingham”.
But he went on to say: “I found clear evidence that there are a number of people, associated with each other and in positions of influence in schools and governing bodies, who espouse, sympathise with or fail to challenge extremist views.”
The inquiry concluded: “There has been co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action, carried out by a number of associated individuals, to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos into a few schools in Birmingham.
It said witnesses had expressed three key concerns about the impact of the situation on pupils:
- The first was that teachers feared that children are learning to be intolerant of difference and diversity.
- Secondly, that although good academic results can be achieved by narrowing the curriculum, this means young people are not getting a broad education, and instead their horizons are narrowed.
- Thirdly, that the evidence of young people being encouraged to “adopt an unquestioning attitude to a particular hardline strand of Sunni Islam” raises real concerns about their vulnerability to radicalisation in the future.
Criticising the role of Birmingham city council, the report concluded the authority was “aware of the practices and behaviours that were subsequently outlined in the ‘Trojan Horse’ letter long before the letter surfaced”.
It goes on to say that the council has not supported headteachers faced with “aggressive and inappropriate behaviour”.
Mr Clarke also warned that the DfE had allowed Park View Educational Trust (PVET) – the trust at the centre of the allegations – to move from running a single school to being responsible for three too quickly, without systems in place for holding the new academies to account.
” There has been no evidence of direct radicalisation or violent extremism,” she said. “But there is a clear account in the report of people in positions of influence in these schools, with a restricted and narrow interpretation of their faith, who have not promoted fundamental British values and who have failed to challenge the extremist views of others.
“Individuals associated with PVET in particular have destabilised headteachers, sometimes leading to their resignation or removal. Particularly shocking is the evidence of the social media discussion of the Park View Brotherhood group whose actions betray a collective mind-set that can fairly be described as an intolerant Islamist approach which denies the validity of alternative beliefs.”
She said that it was “upsetting” that efforts to encourage more British Muslims to become school governors had been “damaged by the actions of a few” and urged parents to continue to come forward to serve on governing bodies.
A new education commissioner is to be appointed at Birmingham City Council to oversee action to address the criticisms of the authority in the Clarke and Kershaw reports.”
Shiraz Socialist commented a few days ago,
So we now have a situation in which the two reports commissioned into ‘Trojan Horse’ have both concluded that there was a real issue of organised, ultra-reactionary Islamist influence in some Birmingham schools. The newspaper at the forefront of the campaign of denial that followed the allegations has now relented and faced reality. The leader of Birmingham City Council has acknowledged what happened and apologised. But will those on the left (in particular, but not only, the SWP), who took the Guardian ‘line’ now admit their mistake? More importantly, will the NUT leadership, instead of prevaricating on the issue, now take a clear stand in support of secular education?
One solution: secular education!
Boot Religious Authority out of Schools!
France: Pro-Palestinian Protests and anti-Semitism at Sarcelles, Defending the Right to Demonstrate.
Defying the Ban on pro-Palestinian marches in France, on Saturday,
About 6,000 mostly peaceful protesters assembled in the Barbès area of northern Paris in defiance of a government ban. When the march was blocked by police lines after only 500 metres, a minority of young protesters started to hurl stones, bottles and sticks at the riot police.
A leader of the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA) said, “«La solidarité avec les Palestiniens doit pouvoir s’exprimer à Paris», a expliqué samedi à l’AFP Sandra Demarcq, membre de la direction du NPA, qui juge l’interdiction «illégitime et scandaleuse». We should be able to express solidarity with the Palestinians, explained to AFP Sandra Demarq, part of the leadership of the NPA, who judged the ban “illegitimate and scandalous”. According to the reporter at around 15.40,
Soudain, des groupes extrêmement équipés et organisés ont commencé à fendre la foule pour monter au contact des CRS. Ils avançaient en ligne, le visage couvert. A l’évidence, ils n’avaient rien de militants venus défendre la cause palestinienne. Certains arboraient des tee-shirts du virage Auteuil, une tribune du Parc des Princes.
Suddenly, extremely well organised and kitted out groups pushed their way through the crowd towards the front row of the CRS (riot police).
They advanced en bloc, faces covered. From what could be gleaned they had nothing of the look of activists who’d come to defend the Palestinian cause. Some of them were wearing the colours of Auteuil, a supporters’ group named after a football stand at the Parc des Princes.
In Sarcelles on Sunday however events took a clearly and illegitimate anti-Semitic turn,
France’s interior minister on Monday slammed “intolerable” acts of anti-Semitism after a rally against Israel’s Gaza offensive descended into violence pitting an angry pro-Palestinian crowd against local Jewish businesses.
Sunday’s demonstration in the north Paris suburb of Sarcelles was the third to deteriorate in a week, as shops were looted and riot police lobbed tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd.
The rally had been banned amid concern the Jewish community would be targeted after protesters last weekend tried to storm two synagogues in Paris.
“When you head for the synagogue, when you burn a corner shop because it is Jewish-owned, you are committing an anti-Semitic act,”Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters outside the Sarcelles synagogue.
In the Paris suburb sometimes nicknamed “little Jerusalem” for its large community of Sephardic Jews, the rally descended into chaos when dozens of youth – some masked – set fire to bins and lit firecrackers and smoke bombs.
Eighteen people were arrested after looters wrecked shops, including a kosher foodstore and a funeral home as protesters shouted: “Fuck Israel!”.
The Independent says,
Riot police held back a mob of youths who tried to attacks two synagogues in the town of Sarcelles in the northern Paris suburbs.
A pro-Gaza demonstration in a town with a large Jewish population began peacefully but degenerated into attacks on Jewish and Chaldean businesses and four hours of running battles between youths and police. Several cars were burned. Three shops, including a Kosher grocery (1), were burned and pillaged. A railway station was severely damaged.
The interior minister, Bernard Cazeneve said today: “When you menace synagogues and when you burn a grocery because it is Jewish-owned, you are committing anti-semitic acts… That is intolerable. Protest against Israel is legitimate. Nothing can justify such violence.”
Roger Cuikerman, head of the French umbrella groups of Jewish organisations, CRIF, said there was a growing anxiety amongst French jews.
Protest against Israeli government actions was one thing, he said. Attacks on Jews for being Jews were “deeply disturbing”. “They are not screaming ‘death to the Israelis’ on the streets of Paris,” he said. “They are screaming ‘death to the Jews’. They are attacking synagogues which are places of prayer.”
Bernard Cazeneuve, speaking at Sarcelles this morning, said (Le Monde),
Devant la presse, il a estimé qu’il était « légitime » de pouvoir exprimer une position sur les événements de Gaza, où au moins 502 Palestiniens ont été tuésdepuis le 8 juillet. En revanche, il a jugé « intolérable que l’on s’en prenne à des synagogues ou à des commerces parce qu’ils sont tenus par des juifs. Rien ne peut justifier de telles violence ». Dix-huit personnes ont été interpellées après les heurts, selon la police.
In front of the press he considered that it was “legitimate” to be able to express a position on the events in Gaza, where at least 502 Palestinians have been killed since the 8th of July. By contrast he judged that it is “intolerable that people attack synagogues and businesses because they are run by Jews. Nothing can justify such violence.” According to the police 18 people have been asserted after the incidents.
(1) The shop had been already the subject of a grenade attack in September 2013 (see here).
In an important Editorial today Le Monde says that the government’s ban on demonstrations is an admission of its impotence, “Manifestations interdites : l’aveu d’impuissance du gouvernement.”
The statement notes that President Hollande is right to be concerned about the “importation” of the Israel-Palestinian conflict into France.
But they note that the right to demonstrate, within reasonable limits, is part of the foundations of the Republic.
Article 10, “No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.”
Le Monde then accuses the government, through its ban on demonstrations of solidarity with the Palestinians, of playing, “aux pompiers pyromanes.” (firefighting arsonists, figurative, “fig., personne qui provoque volontairement les maux qu’elle est censée combattre.”, somebody who creates the very problem they claim to be solving).
“Toute manifestation doit être déclarée à la Préfecture de police, en indiquant, au moins trois jours avant, sa date, son heure et son parcours. En d’autres termes, le droit de manifester fait partie des libertés publiques, mais il est légitimement encadré.”
Every demonstration, its timings, and its route, must be notified to the Police authorities, at least 3 days in advance. In other respects the right to demonstrate, within defined limits, is part of our public freedoms.
Le Monde is absolutely right.
Positions of left parties:
Parti de Gauche “L’interdiction de la manifestation de soutien à la population de Gaza contre l’agression décidée par le gouvernement israélien était bien une provocation et une manipulation.” NPA, “La solidarité avec les Palestiniens est légitime et n’a rien à voir avec de l’antisémitisme !” Front de Gauche, “”Amplifier la solidarité avec le peuple palestinien, défendre le droit de manifester”.
Update: Declaration today (Monday 12st July) against ban on demonstrations by the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme, GAZA CROULE SOUS LES BOMBES, ISRAËL S’ENFERRE DANS LA RÉPRESSION, LES INTERDICTIONS DE MANIFESTER DU GOUVERNEMENT FRANÇAIS ATTISENT LES TENSIONS
Demonstration on Wednesday now authorised, Le Monde.