No News is Old News

I suppose with the economy so bad, everyone too poor to make any real news. That must be the reason why Prince Harry has been at top of the news here.

I have to admit that I have been kind of amused at it all. The News of the World (Britain’s most salacious Sunday tabloid) broke the store, complete with accompanying video coverage, that Prince Harry used the word “Paki”. This is the British equivalent of the “N word”. BBC News picked it up and ran story after story, while at the same time running it blow by blow, over and over, on the tickertape at the botttom of the TV screen.

You would have thought he had been caught making a verbal racist attack. Actually, he used it to refer to a military cadet colleague, calling him “our little Paki friend” in his presence.  It was captured on a home video that someone decided to sell to the paper. You would have thought this was hot off the press – Saturday night’s party turned Sunday’s news. It happened three years ago.

That’s right. Nonetheless, Harry had to issue a very prompt and grovelling apology.  As we know, there are sins, and then there are some things almost unforgiveable, like unintentionally given offense to unrelated third parties by using a remark that someone (who really had no business seeing someone’s home video) three years later could interpret as racist.

Harry’s commanding officer is to give him a formal dressing down and the Prime Minister has had go on national TV and say he believes the Prince’s apology. Of course it isn’t good enough for some people. Muhammad Yaqoob Khan Abbasi, the father of Harry’s friend said, “Prince Harry should apologise to the Pakistani Army and to the Pakistani government for this. I cannot accept his apology unless they first accept his apology.” That’s right. If you insult any Pakistani anywhere in the world (even if they aren’t actually insulted) you need to apologise to the Pakistani government.

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Justice for the Uighurs – The Least They Can Do

A number of readers who can imagine that I do anything other than support any Republican policy will be happy to know that I have long been very troubled by use of Guantanamo Bay for holding prisoners. Beyond the problems I have with using Gitmo because it serves a useful loophole purpose by keeping prisoners of the Administration off of American soil, I have trouble with the policy of completely ignoring the power of judiciary. On top of that, I have a big problem with the extreme reluctance to release prisoners even if they pose no threat to the United States.

This is an extraodinary abuse of Executive power. Like most of the expansion of the Executive in the past seven years, no one has dared to attempt to check it, because it is shielded in the patriotism and fear of the War on Terror.

I was particularly disturbed to read about the 17 Uighur prisonser who were taken captive on the basis bounty money offered in Pakistan. I’m not suggesting that all Pakistanis will sell out their mothers for the right price, but some were willing to sell out Uighur refugees from China for $5,000 each.

They were sent to Guantanamo six years ago. It took the military two years to recognise that they posed no threat whatsoever. What happened to the other four years? Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter, since they don’t look like us and talk like us, and after all, they are Muslims. That seems to be the reason they are sitting in prison. I can’t imagine a government lawyer would like to give up six years of his own life for no reason in a foreign country – or actually a military outpost because the laws of that foreign country would not allow him to be held without trial. (That’s why I’ve always said it was 95% of lawyers who gave the rest of us a bad name.)

But then again that government lawyer wouldn’t be there because he didn’t have to flee his own country which had been taken over by another ethnic group who treated him as a second class and suspect citizen because of the way he looks and his religion. And that lawyer didn’t have to flee to the country of other ethnic groups who had no particular sympathy for him and who were willing to sell him out for cash.

But even though the Supreme Court has ruled that judges can release prisoners (not exactly a novel idea) and the Court of Appeal has ruled that there is no basis for holding Huzaifa Parhat, one of the Uighurs, the Administration will not let them go.

The problem seems to be that no country will take them, except for China of course. Chinese officials already have 17 bullets ready, with stamped envelopes addressed to their families ready for the spent cartridges. The one thing the government can’t bear to do is allow them to settle in the United States. Sure they settled them on US-leased land in Cuba for six years, but that doesn’t count. There are 20 churches in Tallahassee willing to help re-home them, amongst other religious and social groups.

The unbelievable and virtually admitted injustice that has been imposed upon these refugees is payment enough to bump them to the head of the queue for a Green Card. In addition to their immediate release, I hope U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina will further order the Department of Homeland Security to do just that.

Fatwa Rules Paedophilia Preferable to Christianity

Following up on the the previous story, I was looking to see what other WordPress bloggers might have said about the kidnapping, forced conversion and forced marriage of the Younis sisters. That’s where I found Blogging for a free world referring to information from Minorities Concern of Pakistan.

Even though the legal marriage age in Pakistan is 16 for females, this was negated by a fatwa – a decree issued by religious leaders – which justified it. It was worth it to them that the girls be kidnapped, sold as property, and then sexually abused in order to effect their conversion to Islam.

Reports indicate exactly what has happened to Saba Younis, the elder sister. After Muhammad Arif Bajwa kidnapped the girls at gunpoint, he sold them to Falak Sher Gill. Gill then gave Saba to his son, Muhammad Amjid. To whom Anila has been given seems to be unknown at this point.

In contravention of the statutory law, a Pakistani court has previously approved of the marriage of a 12-year-old because it ruled that Islam allows a female to marry if she has reached puberty. However, in that case it appears that the girl wanted to marry. Of course in that case, both parties were Muslim.

It now appears that special rules apply if the girl is a Christian and doesn’t consent. Puberty need not be an issue.

Remember to file this under “All religions and cultures are equal.”

Pre-teen Christian Girls Forced to Convert and Marry

Another one for the all religions and all cultures are equal file . . .

Saba and Anila Younis, sisters from a Christian family. They are 12 and 10 years old respectively. They were kidnapped on June 26 on their way to their uncle’s house in the Punjab province of Pakistan. When their father went to the police to complain about the kidnapping, he was threatened. By the 28th, their kidnappers had married them and filed with the police for custody of them. Their husbands declared that the girls had converted to Islam.

Apparently in Pakistan if a man finds a 10-year-old that he just can’t resist, he kidnaps her. If she’s not Muslim, he wants her converted, because even though it is legal for a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman, there’s no reason he should have to have a kafir as one of his wives. I’m not sure if a man has to file for custody of any of his wives in Pakistan, or if it is just for those under 13.

As reported by Ecumenical News International, a court has agreed that the forced conversion was pefectly legal. There appears to have been to no challenge to the legality of the forced marriage.

This is by no means a unique situation. In a blog describing the hundreds of forced conversions to Islam in Pakistan, there is a quote from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telling President Musharraf at a 2005 meeting that Pakistan is “a model country for the Muslim world”.

Assassination and the Civilised World

They get their day of fame and then fade from memory. That’s the fate of attempted assassins. Get the job done and they are famous forever. Miss and they fade into oblivion.

I’m surprised that the parole of Sara Jane Moore is a top story right now on US news network websites.  I suppose it is the combination of a slow news day and the aftermath of the Benazir Bhutto assassination. I’d even forgotten her name until now. Moore took a shot at President Ford in 1975. She has been paroled at the age of 77. I’m guessing she’s given up the radical revolutionary politics that motivated her actions. She’s probably happy to fade into oblivion.

Squeaky Fromme, who had a pistol without a round in the chamber when she got close to Ford a couple of weeks before Moore, is 59 and still incarcerated. She waives her right to parole hearings. It’s probably for the best, since she hasn’t exactly been a model prisoner. She hit the prosecutor in the head with an apple at her sentencing hearing. She then attacked another inmate with a claw hammer. She then escaped from prison in West Virginia, apparently to try to meet up with Charles Manson, though this would not have been likely as he is in prison in California. She’s tucked away in Texas now. Fromme is now 59 years old.

John Hinckley, who shot Reagan, is now allowed out of the mental hospital for a few days at a time to visit his parents. No word on whether he is still fixated on Jodie Foster, or whether Jodie’s coming out as a lesbian has finally convinced him to give up the dream. Maybe he be declared cured when he is in his seventies. He’s 52 now.

I think that’s all the presidential would-be assassins.  Deprived of freedom, tucked away, lives wasted, mostly forgotten. That’s the price of their actions.

Because of the proximity to the Bhutto assassination, I can’t help but make a connection. If any of them had been successful, it would have been a terrible day for America and a tragic loss to the First Families.  Nonetheless, I can’t imagine that there would have been rioting in the streets, banks robbed, untold numbers of deaths. Likewise if something were to happen to one of the current presidential candidates, it would be the top of the news for days, but the country would not unravel.

This is another juncture at which the politically correct idea that all cultures are equal falls apart. I have no problem making a moral judgment that the response to the Bhutto assassination in Pakistan is inferior to the response to an assassination in a Western country.  While I do not think it is the responsibility of the US to force the rest of the world into democracy, neither is it wrong to say that non-democratic states ruled by a combination of Sharia and tribal customs are inferior.

Silencing the Voice of Moderation

I just happened to turn on BBC News 24 as the events in Pakistan were unfolding yesterday. Within a very few minutes the news changed from 20 dead and Bhutto escaped, to Bhutto injured and in hospital, to Bhutto dead.

It seems so strange to think that someone I saw not too many weeks ago as a panelist on Question Time has been assassinated.

Bhutto was a voice of moderation in a country severely in need of it.  She was a voice of challenge to radical Islam and to the military control of Pakistan. She was a Western voice in a non-Western culture. A lot of people had a lot of vested interest in her being dead.

I agree with Mike Huckabee that it is not our duty to evangelise the rest of the world with democracy. However, Bhutto had the opportunity to bring certain values of Western civilisation to a place where those values could alleviate suffering and oppression.  Bhutto was a Muslim, but her values were clearly influenced and shaped by her Catholic primary and secondary education.

Hopefully her values through her legacy will carry some weight and some light in the future of Pakistan and make the world a safer place.

British Muslims Favour Killing Christians

The Sunday Telegraph has an important article today on the threat to Muslims who convert to Christianity in this county.

It’s the aspect of Islam that isn’t included in most school curricula. It doesn’t fit with the multi-cultural pan-religionism the Government (and all good liberal open-minded teachers) want to promote. The death penalty for apostates is a moderate Muslim view. This is not extremism.  This is not al-Qaeda and a few radical mosques.

Under the human rights pressure of international community, only seven countries have codified the death penalty. Pakistan, the sixth most populous country in the world, is currently considering legislation to make apostasy a capital crime. In most countries it is carried out by family and friends.

And yet a significant portion of British Muslims think that such behaviour is not merely right, but a religious obligation: a survey by the think-tank Policy Exchange, for instance, revealed that 36 per cent of young Muslims believe that those who leave Islam should be killed.

This should not come as a surprised because this is what Islam universally teaches.

Patrick Sookhdeo was born a Muslim, but later converted to Christianity. He is now international director of the Barnabas Fund, an organisation that aims to research and to ameliorate the conditions of Christians living in countries hostile to their religion.

He notes that “all four schools of Sunni law, as well as the Shia variety, call for the death penalty for apostates. Most Muslim scholars say that Muslim religious law – sharia – requires the death penalty for apostasy.

“In 2004, Prince Charles called a meeting of leading Muslims to discuss the issue,” adds Dr Sookhdeo. “I was there. All the Muslim leaders at that meeting agreed that the penalty in sharia is death. The hope was that they would issue a public declaration repudiating that doctrine, but not one of them did.”