Parsing the Tennessee Sharia Bill

First it was Oklahoma and the Save Our State amendment. Then there was the more subtly worded South Carolina Senate Bill 444 and Georgia’s House Bill 45.  Oklahoma, South Carolina and Georgia (and there are probably other states at this point) are trying to prevent the courts of their states applying sharia law. A pointless vote-getter. And a legislator can hardly vote against these ridiculous measures without then being accused of supporting jihad.

Now it is Tennessee and Senate Bill 1028. And once again, it is legislators who know nothing about the thing they are trying to legislate against, but this time with a new twist. Tennessee is doing something different. SB 1028 makes it a felony to support sharia. And it’s not subtle about it at all. Muddled and unconstitutional, but not subtle.

Tennessee needs to be saved from the perils of sharia law on the verge of engulfing the state. Apparently. After all the bill starts off with “The threat from terrorism continues to plague the United States generally and Tennessee in particular.” Tennessee is plagued with the threat from terrorism. In particular. No doubt. Not since the Battle of Stone’s River has sponsoring Senator Bill Ketron’s home of Murfreesboro been under such a siege.

By paragraph 3 we learn that “sharia is based historically and  traditionally on a full corpus of law and jurisprudence termed fiqh and usul al-fiqh, respectively, dealing with all aspects of a sharia-adherent’s personal and social life and political society.” So sharia deals with all aspects of a “sharia-adherent’s” personal and social life. The other name for a “sharia-adherent” is “Muslim”. Just so we are sure of how comprehensively the bill defines “sharia-adherent”, in paragraph 2,  it is described as a “legal-political-military doctrine and system adhered to, or minimally advocated by, tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of its followers around the world.”

And all of them want to plague Tennessee with terrorism and overthrow the government.

“The knowing adherence to sharia and to foreign sharia authorities constitutes a conspiracy…” (Paragraph 11)  “The knowing adherence to sharia and to foreign sharia authorities is prima facie evidence of an act in support of the overthrow of the United States government and the government of this state through the abrogation, destruction, or violation of the United States and Tennessee Constitutions by the likely use of imminent criminal violence and terrorism with the aim of imposing sharia on the people of this state.” (Paragraph 13)

Nowhere in the bill is “foreign sharia authority” defined. However sharia is defined as “any rule, precept, instruction, or edict arising directly from the extant rulings of any of the authoritative schools of Islamic jurisprudence of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali, Ja’afariya, or Salafi”.  This is the equivalent of saying “any interpretation of the Bible by any pastor or Bible teacher, whether Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Reformed, Baptist…”

So being a Muslim constitutes a conspiracy and is prima facie evidence of that conspiracy to overthrow the US government – and of course the government of the plagued state of Tennessee – by criminal violence and terrorism. But I am curious about this “likely use” of imminent violence. Is the violence likely or imminent? If it is imminent isn’t it a bit more that likely? But when it comes to Muslims, who has time to worry about things like this? Tennessee is in the midst of a plague, after all. (Evidence of the plague usually takes the form of, “I hear told someone even saw a woman wrapped in one of them funny scarf thangs at the Family Dollar in Smyrna t’other day. Sakes alive! She might’a had a bomb under that thang.”)

I could parse out all the statements in the thirteen paragraphs of findings that, if enacted, the Tennessee General Assembly will have found to be true about sharia and sharia-adherents, but because they are repetitive while also managing to be occasionally contradictory, it would take more space than you have patience. If you are a member of the Tennessee General Assembly and voting for this bill, things like repetition, contradiction and violation of the First Amendment aren’t going to stand in your way.

I will, however, point out that in paragraph 9, there is a reference to the “jihad groups identified by the federal government as designated terrorist organizations pursuant to § 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act”. On the other hand, the bulk of the bill sets out procedures for the Tennessee Attorney General to designate “sharia organizations” so that anyone who is associated with them can be prosecuted and liable for all sorts of civil causes of action. If the federal government has already designated jihad groups – a task for which they expend considerable federal tax dollars on extensive covert operations – why does the Tennessee AG need to do the same? And if the members of these organizations are already subject to federal law, why does Tennessee need to step in?

Now I wish this was just a looney bill introduced by a lone ranger legislator. Every legislature gets some of those every session. Those sorts of bills grab a newspaper headline and then die quietly in committee without a hearing. Unfortunately in this case, there are three Senate co-sponsors, the chairs of the Education, Transportation and Judiciary committees, the last of which has the bill under consideration. Ketron is the GOP Caucus Chair. And like the legislation in the other states, it has a companion bill in the other chamber, in this case sponsored by Rep. Judd Matheny. It has twelve co-sponsors, including the chair the State and Local Government committee.

And finally, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the goofiest bit of legislative drafting I’ve seen in a long, long time. It goes back to that definition of sharia. “‘Sharia’ means the set of rules, precepts, instructions, or edicts which are said to emanate directly or indirectly from the god of Allah…” The god of Allah? What is the god of Allah? “The god Allah” maybe. I can allow that some people think that Allah, as worshipped in Islam, is a different god than God as worshipped in Christianity, rather than just a erroneous understanding of God. And I understand that most American Christians are completely clueless that Arab Christians call God “Allah” because that’s the Arabic word for God. And most are Islamo-illiterate enough that they don’t know that Muhammad came up with Islam after lots of contact with Judaism and Christianity and in essence derived his idea of God from them and his intent was to worship the God of Abraham. But “god of Allah”? Is this the god that this Allah putatively worships? Who knows? Probably not even the real author of this legislation, David Yerushalmi, a self-proclaimed expert on Islamic law.

Yerushalmi has contended in the press that the bill does not prevent Muslims from practicing their religion – you know, that old First Amendment thing. This only raises the question of why this legislation was so appalling poorly drafted – so vague and contradictory – even if the intent is supposed to be more narrow.

Just like there is no case of sharia having been applied by any judge in any court in the US, there is no instance in which Tennessee, its government or Constitution, or Ellie May down at the Family Dollar have been harmed by sharia-adherent jihadists or could be harmed in such a way that having the state attorney general proscribe anyone or any group would make any difference whatsoever.

Does the Obama Administration Consider You a Terrorist Threat?

The current US administration has shown it’s hand and it’s not backing down. They are defining what it means to be a right-wing extremist and how you — and you might be surprised and just a little worried how many of you this includes – might be a terrorist threat. As reported in the Washington Times,

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she was briefed before the release of a controversial intelligence assessment and that she stands by the report sent to law enforcement that lists veterans as a terrorist risk to the U.S. and defines “rightwing extremism” as including groups opposed to abortion and immigration.

The Washington Times has also published the actual government document, available as a pdf on their website. A right wing extremist terrorist threat is anyone who is antigovernment, and specifically singled out are those rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority. As far as the Obama administration is concerned, Congressman Ron Paul joins the ranks of Timothy McVeigh and Mohammed Atta. Thomas Jefferson was fortunately born two centuries too early or he’d be on the list as well.

Anyone opposed to the passage of “new restrictions on firearms” is suspect as well. Then report further says,

Weapons rights and gun-control legislation are likely to be hotly contested subjects of political debate in light of the 2008 Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller in which the Court reaffirmed an individual’s right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but left open to debate the
precise contours of that right. Because debates over constitutional rights are intense, and parties on all sides have deeply held, sincere, but vastly divergent beliefs, violent extremists may attempt to co-opt the debate and use the controversy as a radicalization tool.

So if you are a member of a pro-life group (and who knows what constitutes a group – perhaps you need to be careful which Facebook groups you join), support the Second Amendment, or have served in the Armed Forces, just know that in the Obamanation, you are a threat.

More Terrorism in London

I was going to blog about the Christians that beat up an imam, stole his copy of the Qur’an and laptop, and threatened to break his legs if he ever went back into the studio after the imam had an argument with Christians who called into his live TV show. Except of course that it didn’t happen. The only thing is that not surprisingly it happened the other way around, and it wasn’t in Pakistan or Afghanistan or Egypt or Turkey, it was in west London.

Rev. Noble Samuel of Asian Gospel Ministries International hosts the Asian Gospel Show on a satellite channel broadcast from Wembley. Several Muslim callers rang into the show in recent weeks trying to argue with him. He wouldn’t take the bait and said, “Those are your views and these are my views.” The callers got very aggressive.

It seems verbal aggression wasn’t enough for them. A car pulled in front of him and a man got out to ask directions in Urdu.  Rev. Samuel described what happened when he rolled down his window, “He put his hand into my window, which was half open, and grabbed my hair and opened the door. He started slapping my face and punching my neck. He was trying to smash my head on the steering wheel. Then he grabbed my cross and pulled it off and it fell on the floor. He was swearing. The other two men came from the car and took my laptop and Bible.” Then they warned him, “If you go back to the studio, we’ll break your legs.”

Rev. Samuel and his family are now in fear for their safety. The thugs that attacked him may not have blown up buildings or killed any one (that we know of) they are still terrorists.

Ted Kennedy Knighted For Being Anti-British

I never thought I’d see the day that the Her Majesty’s Government would knight someone for supporting terrorism. That’s how important the special relationship between the US and UK is to the British. Gordon Brown went to Washington to buddy up with Barack. If there is any part of the Constitution for which most Americans have no use, it is the Emolument Clause and the British know this. So Gordon came bearing gifts.

The only redeeming fact is that the recipient cannot be known as Sir Edward Kennedy. Perhaps this is a bit of quid pro quo for support during the election. Ted supported Barack and Barack couldn’t swing getting Ted’s niece appointed to the Senate from New York. But he still got him the gift that money can’t buy – an honorary knighthood.

Every knighthood is given for an official reason. In this case it was for “services to the British-American relationship and to Northern Ireland”. How does that work, exactly? Kennedy is an Irish-American who consistently supported the Nationalist cause in Northern Ireland. He does seem to have pulled up short of open support for the IRA in their campaign of terrorism, though he did compare the British military presence in Northern Ireland during the Troubles to the American military in Vietnam. He said Irish Protestants should go back to Great Britain.

I know Americans are fascinated by, and covetous of, British honours. You would think, however, that one person who would not want to be an honorary knight of the realm would be someone who with such a high profile so openly opposed it. And while there is no evidence that he was personally involved, it is Ted Kennedy’s Irish Catholic electoral base in Boston that funnelled huge amounts of money to the IRA  so they could blow up innocent Brits in pubs and shopping centers around the UK.

So this is the dynamic of the “special relationship”. Britain’s socialist Prime Minister honouring America’s premier champagne socialist for supporting the dissolution of the United Kingdom.

One Right Move

In some ways I’m happy that Obama is president. Being a grumpy old man, yet a Republican, it has been difficult to complain about American politics while being loyal to the president and the party. Now that the Democrats control both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, it will be much easier.

Before I launch into what will no doubt be at least four years of moaning, I will give credit where credit is due. One of policies of the Bush administration with which I disagreed was the detention of enemy combatants and various others at Guantanamo Bay, using it as a loophole to avoid the usual Constitutional constraints. In one of his first acts, President Obama ordered the closure of Gitmo within a year.

I’m not denying that this will not be an easy thing to do while maintaining the security of the US and avoiding the disclosure of classified information. However, these things must be resolved within the law, something that was wearing thin in the ongoing situation since the overthrow of the Taliban and the installation of the current Christian-hating regime in Afghanistan.

So in this one small way, I think BHO has moved in the right direction. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Honest Hate

At least he’s honest. Anjem Choudary has been telling Muslims they shouldn’t be celebrating Christmas. “How can a Muslim possibly approve or participate in such a practice that bases itself on the notion Allah has an offspring? The very concept of Christmas contradicts and conflicts with the foundation of Islam.”

He sees that all this bunkum about worshipping the same God is as offensive to Islam as it is to Christianity. Either Jesus is the Son of God, the incarnation of Allah, or He is not. To say that the Babe in the manger is the Most Holy One is direct contradiction to the very essence of Islam.

So I don’t see why it is such big news that he is saying this. He’s just being a good Muslim.

Why didn’t it make bigger news when Choudary, who is the chairman of the Society of Muslim Lawyers, praised the Mumbai attacks? Nobody seemed to notice when he called for the assassination of the Pope.  It is almost forgotten that he organised the demonstrations over the Muhammad cartoons, which included incitement to murder.

And why it is only mentioned in passing that his family is not supported by his legal work and he apparently isn’t well paid as Principal Lecturer at the London School of Shari’ah.  Perhaps he doesn’t have time for that with all of his preaching since he has to fill in for his mentor Omar Bakri Mohammed, who has been exiled from the UK. I’m just guessing that’s why they receive  £25,000 a year in state benefits.

It’s like, sure he is bigging up the deaths of 163 people in the name of Islam, but now he hates Christmas, too? Good grief. Why not actually expose that we are supporting the work of a domestic terrorist who doesn’t just hate Christmas. He hates us.

Oops, They Did It Again

Clearly the Government chooses its contractors on the basis of the cheapest bid, without any regard for little things like competence. Many of the security and information breaches over the last couple of years have been by EDS. This time it is by Atos Origin.

A memory stick containing all the confidential pass codes to the tax websites was found in a pub car park. As a result the Government had to shut down access to driving licence applications, VAT returns, pension entitlements and child benefit.

The Prime Minister has now even admitted the government cannot promise the safety of personal data entrusted by the public. He has not changed his plans for ID cards for everyone, which security experts have said will be hacked almost as soon as they are issued. So the Prime Minister is saying that even though the data will be completely insecure and unreliable, and will be used illegally to the detriment of an incalculable number of citizens in terms of financial loss and identity theft on top of the usual invasion of privacy, the Government must have it to control terrorism and immigration.

New Martyr Gayle Williams

Gayle Williams was working with handicapped children in Afghanistan. She was working there because she is a Christian. She wasn’t there to preach the Gospel – just to live it.

That was enough for Taliban leaders to order her murder. In the cowardly way of Islamist terrorists, two of them drove by on a motorcycle and shot her.

It is very unlikely that her murderers will be prosecuted. After all, preaching the Gospel is illegal in Afghanistan. Converting to Christianity can result in the death penalty. And this is from the regime that the US, UK and assorted allies put into power.

I have long suggested that the Western powers that are propping up the Karzi regime should refuse to support it until Afghanistan legalises and protects Christianity.

May the memory of the martyr Gayle be eternal.

At Least They Admit It

The BBC admits that they treat Islam different than Christianity. The Director General of Britain’s public broacaster says that it is because they are a religious minority. What he means is that it is because if you were to make jokes about imams like the Beeb makes jokes about vicars, every one of the corporations executives and public figures would have to live in fear of their lives.

Can you imagine what would happen if they allowed a production about Muhammad like the live broadcast on BBC2 of Jerry Springer – the Opera, in which Jesus is part of a dysfunctional family, dresses as a baby and poos himself? The BBC Television Centre would be levelled.  The 2001 IRA bombing of the building would look completely amateur in comparison. This eggshell approach just another example of how terrorism is effective.

Mark Thompson has said that programmes criticising Islam would be broadcast if they of a good enough quality. It’s a shame the same standard doesn’t apply to Christianity.

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.

How to Treat a Lady

I don’t like to fly. So after three flights in 24 hours, I am visiting my parents. We couldn’t afford for the Unnamed family to travel as well, so I am here on my own.

On the way across the Atlantic, I sat next to a elderly British lady who had been in New Jersey on 9/11. She told me about how she had a difficult time getting back to the UK. Once she got a flight, she was sitting next to what appeared to be a Muslim man. After she described his gross-out eating habits, she described how he wanted to stretch out so he told her to go get another seat toward the back of the plane.

She told a stewardess that the man had told her to move. The stewardess told the man off, though he is not appear to be in any way ashamed of his behaviour. A few minutes later the stewardess came back and told the man she was moving the lady. The man said, “Thank you!” The stewardess replied, “I’m not moving her for your sake – I’m moving her for her sake.” She moved the lady to First Class.

The Need to Know Everything

Do we need another scary Big Brother story? Probably not, but the Government just keeps throwing them out there for us.

As reported in the Daily Telegraph, the UK Government is accessing one million travel record each month.

The data is handed over to the Home Office through the e-Borders programme.

It includes personal information like name, address, itinerary, meal preference, sex, detail of travel companions and credit card numbers.

The Home Office admitted it had collected this level of detail on 54 million people since the launch of e-Borders in January 2005.

Why do they need all this information? It is ostensibly to fight crime. But who goes through all this information? How many civil servants does it take to process this amont of data?

And who exactly then has access to all this data?  After they lost the bank details of 25 million families, what are they doing keeping the credit card details of 54 million people?

And why do they need to know the meal preferences of every traveller? Do terrorists choose certain meal options?

No, the Government is sending a message. If you have committed a crime in any way, they will catch you. They will even catch if you are someone who might act in some way like someone who might think of committing a crime. That is enough to make you an enemy of the State. Perhaps eventually all of the people who choose chicken can pass through customs and those who choose beef will be stopped and strip searched.

I know you must be thinking that we are joking when Brits tell you that this is what passes for Government in this country. Judges are ordered to not give burglars jail time so they can have a place to put all of he people they can trap through non-stop, ever more invasive surveillance.

The Cost of Multicultural Accommodation

Any Muslims dealing in either drugs or explosives will not have to worry about being sniffed out by police canine units. There will have to be exceptional circumstances – apparently above those that normally justify sniffer dogs – to search the property of a Muslim if the owner objects. That’s because not only do the police have to bend over backwards to avoid offending terrorists, but also because it takes a lot of effort to put special bootees on the dog.

That’s right. Dogs used in searching Muslim premises will now have to wear bootees so the dog itself does not touch anything belonging to a Muslim police suspect. This would obviously include their bombs. This does make sense if you think about it. After all, the bombs are being used for religious purposes. What will Allah think if they have been touched by a dog? Could this reduce the number of virgins to be enjoyed by the suicide bomber if he allows defiled bombs to blow up infidels?

But you want to really upset the Muslim community? Do what Tayside Police have done, and feature a puppy on a postcard. Because there is a puppy sitting on a police hat in an advertisement about the Scottish force’s new non-emergency phone number, Dundee shopkeepers of that religious persuasion (and there would seem to be a significant number) are refusing to display it.

There is no actual dog present on the postcard to touch the actual property of an Muslim, so there is no chance of actually defiling anything. I think there is a lesson in this for the BBC, ITV, and other broadcasters. They will need to avoid any programmes that feature dogs. It’s a good thing they haven’t been showing sheepdog trials and they will need to cut coverage of Crufts. I don’t know how Birmingham City Council, which governs one of the largest Muslims communities in Britain, has allowed the world’s largest dog show on it’s property (it’s one of the two shareholders of the NEC Arena) without Muslims staging a protest, picketing and threatening to kill everyone inside.

This is not absurd. The question is where do you draw the line of multiculturalism? Where is the limit of accommodation? For the Government of the Day, it is clearly more important than the protection of the realm. As I noted yesterday, for the Cheshire education authority, it is important enough to force children into idolatrous worship.

Today’s absurdities become tomorrow’s realities. We have seen this over and over.

I haven’t yet touched on this week’s statement by Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, that aspects of Sharia law should be adopted in Britain. This follows the advice of the Archbishop of Canterbury earlier this year. Some people will say that since Beth Din courts are allowed by Orthodox Jews, why shouldn’t Sharia courts be allowed. Well, Sharia courts are already allowed – just not enforceable under English law. Orthodox Jews also have no agenda of bringing all of Britain under the 613 mitzvahs.

With all this accommodation, you would think that Muslims make up a significant minority in this country. Is it right that everything should be changed for 2%-3% of the population and that we should live in fear of whether or not we keep them happy? But it’s not even 2% of the population that are the issue. It is a much smaller minority – a minority within the minority. As reported in the Telegraph:

Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Bar and a practising Muslim, said that allowing sharia in parts of the UK would be divisive.

He said: “This would create a two-tier society. It is highly retrograde. It will segregate and alienate the Muslim community from the rest of British society.

“The majority of British Muslims want to live only under British law and they would reject anything that means they are treated differently.

So why are we toeing a line continually re-drawn by radical Muslims? Have they already won the war on terrorism and we are afraid to challenge them? Are we really ruled by a bunch of lily-livered liberal multiculturalist sycophants? Do I even need to ask these rhetorical questions?

Government Profiteering Through Fees

I got my new passport today. I’m good to travel for another ten years.

I wanted to move my Indefinite Leave to Remain visa from my old passport to the new one. Seems like it would be a fairly straightforward procedure. Given everything I’ve paid in fees in the past, you would think it is would be free. Okay, maybe there would be a small administrative charge for the transferring the sticker, or even pasting a new one in the new passport.

Not exactly. There is a £160 fee. It’s like a 10-year recurring tax to be a taxpayer. But that’s for having it done by post. So I’ll just take in personally and have it done. Less administrative hassle for the bureaucrats, so a much cheaper fee, right?

Not exactly. The fee goes up. Way up. So what does the Government charge me for using my own petrol and taking time off work to make things easier for them? £500. There is an advantage to me though. I don’t have to wait up to 14 weeks to get my documents returned. So I suppose I’m paying for the privilege of not being prevented from traveling for three months.

But there’s more. Just as if I was applying to enter the UK for the first time, I have to answer the usual questions:

In times of either peace or war have you or any dependants included in this application ever been involved, or suspected of involvement, in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide?

Have you or any dependants included in this application ever been involved in, supported or encouraged terrorist activities in any country?

Have you or any dependants included in this application ever been a member of, or given support to, an organisation which has been concerned in terrorism?

Why do they ask these questions? Do they honestly think that someone is going to be involved in genocide or terrorism and then admit to it on a government form? This is honestly sillier that then question at the airline check-in counter about whether you packed your own bag, as if you are suddenly going to remember that a strange Middle Eastern man showed up at your house and asked if he could pack your bag for you, just as a random act of kindness.

Fortunately, I don’t have to answer the questions (which wouldn’t be a problem) or pay the £160 (which would), as long as I keep my old passport with me. I just have to present both documents when I want to get back into the country. As I see it, why should I pay £160 when it is going to cost me £655 to apply for citizenship and it will take the same amount of time to process the application?

It is much cheaper to become an American citizen. $330 (or about £165). A replacement green card is $190 (£95). Is this just another example of Rip-off Britain?

Terrorism in the East End

I may get regular verbal abuse and heckling in my own classroom for being a Christian, but at least I’m not a vicar getting attacked on the grounds of my own church. There is a constant campaign of vandalism against St George-in-the-East in Wapping. The attitude is typified by shouts of “This should not be a church, this should be a mosque.”

In addition to being yet another example of teen yobbish behaviour – an epidemic throughout this country – it is also a low-grade example of Islamic terrorism. Besides being just downright nasty, these pustules of society are using their faith as an excuse for causing harm and destruction. They have also been fed on a diet of ideas (whether a home or at the mosque or both) that they should be able to settle in an area and Islamify it, driving out the Church.

Sowing the Wind and Reaping the Whirlwind in Kosovo

I’ve debated within myself whether to step into the morass that is the matter of Kosovan independence. After my post on the Rest of the Bible blew away all my previous stats on this blog and overnight became the most read post in the history of this incarnation of my blog and my daily stats doubled my previous high, the return to normal numbers is a bit of a letdown. If I alienate all of my Ortho-blogger friends, the numbers are likely to dry up even further.

Let me say from the outset, that I don’t think the Unilateral Declaration of Independence was a good thing for a least three reasons. First of all, Kosovo is Serbia. It is just one of a number of regions. It happens that ethnic Albanians have migrated there. Second, UDIs create a mess in international law. Invariably some countries recognise it and others don’t. It’s made an even bigger mess when members of the UN Security Council are on opposite sides of the matter. They can (and are perfectly will to do so in this case) block the emerging country from joining the club. Third, as Steve notes, Kosovo UDI is a triumph for terrorism.

The Serb minority in Kosovo have been, and will continue to be, subject to persecution. I think this is a bad thing. Yes, it is a statement of the obvious. So why do I bother?

Because I think was goes around comes around. Or to use biblical language, what you sow, you reap. As Orthodox, ever-persecuted, or at least in the West having a sympathetic persecution complex, we want to see Serbia as the victim – the victim of the Croats, the victim of Bill Clinton, the victim of the Muslims (whether Bosnian or Albania or Turk). Neither am I denying that Serbia and the Serbs have suffered in the past, both distant and recent. But neither have they been keen to turn the other cheek. They have been just as willing to perpetrate genocide when it suited them.

So you say, yeah, sure, but that’s those evil politicians and generals like Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić. The Serbian Church has been pure as the driven snow over the mass graves in Bosnia.

Unfortunately, that’s not true either. The Serbian Church has behaved like the Russian Church when communism was overthrown there. It has immediately grabbed ahold of the leverage of the State to persecute other Christians. Like the Russian Church, it is nationalistic and ethnocentric. You can’t encourage violence and oppression against Protestant Hungarians in Vojvodina and then cry foul when Muslim Albanians start wrecking your churches and burning your icons in Kosovo.

Several bloggers have suggested that Russia will come to Serbia’s aid in this latest turn of the Kosovo crisis. Will that be in the form of fascist Putin Youth, fresh from the government-sponsored stadium rallies encouraging them to fornicate to make babies for Mother Russia? Are Orthodox in the West willing to decry American imperialism while supporting the resurgence of Russian imperialism, because it is the imperialism of an ostensibly Orthodox country?

Frankly, I think that rather than looking to them for spiritual guidance, Orthodox in the West need to start asking some hard questions about the “Orthodox homelands”. Let’s set aside the blatant Phyletism, if we can for a moment ignore the elephant in the room. Why is the abortion rate in Russia only exceeded in Europe by (you guessed it, another Orthodox country) Romania, that only legalised after the fall of Communism what the Church has always recognised as the intentional killing of an innocent human life, when the Church was once again free to proclaim and propagate the Tradition? Bulgaria, Belarus, Ukraine and Greece are not far behind.

I do not for a minute want a single person, Orthodox or otherwise, in Kosovo to suffer persecution in any form. I do not want to see the historic churches there to suffer even worse than the churches of this country did under Oliver Cromwell. But neither will I blindly support the Serbs just because they are Serbs or Orthodox, nor will I ignore the whole political and spiritual picture.

What’s Bugging Lawyers

Any time Big Brother is not watching, he may still be listening. In what is one of the clearest indications of how Britain is becoming a totalitarian state, it has emerged that the police bugging of a conversation between a Muslim MP and his constituent is not a fluke. And it is not confined to terrorism or national security cases.

A whistleblower at Woodhill Prison has let the press know that hundreds of lawyers have been bugged while meeting with clients.  This should have the Government worried – not because they are under a lot of pressure from opposition parties to explain how this has been allowed, but because judges could start throwing out convictions, even in some high profile cases.

If notorious criminals start hitting the streets because their human rights have been flagrantly violated a lot of people are going get unhappy very fast.

It is worrying that the State has such a need to control that it cannot afford to allow the privilege that has long formed the bedrock of the lawyer-client relationship. It must have information at all costs.  After all, information is power and the closer the State gets to omniscience, the more powerful it becomes.

Teach Your Children Well

Muslims may think that the Bible messed up the true revelation of Islam, but they seem to follow Proverbs 22:6 just fine. “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”

When I saw in the Daily Mail that al Qaeda were training up ten-year-olds (and perhap younger) to carrying out kidnappings, assassinations and suicide bombings, I thought well, yeah, that’s the Daily Mail. So I looked to see if anyone was carrying this story. Everyone is carrying this story.

But is it really surprising? These are type of folks that are happy to strap explosives to women with Downs Syndrome and turn them into killing machines by remote control.

The videos of children undergoing training were intended to be used encourage other children to join the cause. Of course for children to see these, their parents would either have to provide them or send them to a madrasah that would considering them appropriate viewing. It is so unfathomable to me as either a father or a teacher.

So when you think about these people, remember that these are their values.

What They’re Fighting For

I’ve been thinking about writing about something since I commented on Matt’s blog. Now having come across something else on Steve’s blog, especially as I am not a regular reader of The Independent, I am compelled to spout off.

I have much more of a problem with the war in Afghanistan than I do with the war in Iraq. Or perhaps I should phrase it more accurately: I have a bigger problem with propping up an Islamofascist regime where Christianity is illegal and evangelism or conversion (along with many other things) is punishable by death, than I do with propping up a regime that still has the potential for being an almost secular Muslim state where Christianity can still be practiced. As hope fades for the latter, my supports fades as well.

In the wake of 9/11 we (America and all our sympathetically outraged friends) needed some place to attack. You just can’t let something like that go unpunished. Even if you can’t find the actual culprits – or they deprived you of the right to string them up by killing themselves – somebody has to pay. The Taliban government of Afghanistan never attacked the US. It did allow the mostly Saudi-funded mostly Saudi terrorists a place to train, or at best didn’t actively get rid of them. However, it wasn’t a strategic ally of the US like other places they trained, such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. And never mind that the US Government funded the Taliban to push out the Soviets in the first place. No, Afghanistan drew the short straw.

And how dare the Taliban not give up power and walk away when they were told to do so by the US Government. Don’t they know that all countries are ultimately subject to the sovereignty of the United States, as there is no corner of the global that is outside “American interests”. Not that the US really wanted them to walk away. They needed to do some killing. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life, and all that.

Even though the US wouldn’t have taken on the 6th most populous country in the world – and a nookular power to boot – the military dictator of Pakistan quickly made sure he was on the right side of the Administration. The Wahabist absolutist monarchy of Saudi Arabia, with criminal law and social policies virtually the same as Afghanistan under the Taliban, knew that oil is a much more important export than heroin so they were safe. No matter that they actually provided the funding for extreme Islam around the world. Yep, Afghanistan definitely drew the short straw.

It seems to me that the case of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh is being a bit misrepresented in the headlines. He hasn’t been sentenced to death for just downloading and reading an article on women’s rights. No, he actually gave copies of it to other people. Islam respects the freedom of conscience. Kambaksh is allow to think whatever he likes. His truly fatal error was in telling someone else what he thought. That cannot be tolerated in liberated Afghanistan.

And that’s what US, British, and a handful of other forces are fighting to preserve. Not the democratic freedoms of the US or Britain or anywhere else. Not your freedom of speech. Not your freedom of the press. Not your freedom of religion. And certainly not anyone else’s. Aren’t you proud?

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.

Deadly Withdrawal

Gordon Brown is pulling troops out of Iraq. I can hear the cheering. Those who opposed the Blair coalition with the Bush Administration are cheering. That includes the Shi’ite militias in Basra. Like the misguided Left and Right and Centre in this country, no one wants troop withdrawal more.

I mean, the killing of Christians, especially Christian women, is pretty easy already. As reported in The Times:

In the past five months more than 40 women have been murdered and their bodies dumped in the street by militiamen, according to the Basra police chief. Major-General Abdul-Jalil Khalaf said that some of them had been killed alone, others gunned down with their children. One unveiled mother was murdered together with her children aged 6 and 11.

As long as they wear hijabs and publicly act like they believe that Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah, they are okay. Why should Christians be allowed to live in accordance with their faith, after all? Many of the politicians supporting troop withdrawal, including those in Government, aren’t so keen on Christians practicing their faith in this country, so there is really no surprise that they are willing to leave Iraqi Christians out to dry.

Admittedly, in terms of southern Iraq, that means their corpses are left out to dry, but voters back home don’t think about that. These are people who are literally sacrificed for the sake of poltical expediency. Once the troops levels are reduced, the militias will be completely unchecked in their reign of terror.

US Government Can Kidnap Anyone Anywhere

The United States is very big on the idea of national sovereignty – as long as it is American sovereignty. This has long been the case, though it has come as a surprise to The Sunday Times, which made a headline of it.

A senior US government lawyer made it clear to the Court of Appeals in this country that the kidnapping of foreign citizen in a foreign country by an agent of the US for prosecution in the US is in perfect accordance with American law. Extradition treaties are irrelevant. If Uncle Sam wants you, he will get you.

Apparently the British court assumed that the US only exercised “extraordinary rendition”, or the kidnapping of terrorist suspects. The CIA goes around doing that all the time. They get it wrong occasionally but no one is bothered. However in the Tollman case, in which London-based hoteliers are fighting extradition to the US for tax evasion and bank fraud, there was some discussion of the US attempt to kidnap Stanley Tolman’s nephew when he travelled to Canada. Lawyers were very plain about the US position. The US is entitled to have anyone, anywhere, anytime, and by whatever means.

The US Supreme ruled back in 1993 in United States v. Alvarez-Machain that it was perfectly acceptable for the DEA to hire bounty hunters to cross into Mexico and abduct a Mexican citizen to face trial in the US for a crime committed in Mexico. This was merely an extension of Ker v. Illinois (1886) which said that a bounty hunter could go to a foreign country and bring someone to the US. The difference was that Ker was a US citizen, committed a crime in the US and the bounty hunter wasn’t hired by the government.

As a result, the US can pass laws that apply anywhere in the world and then grab anyone anywhere in the world, take them to the US and try them. They started doing this with suspected terrorists, but now have made it clear them can do it for any reason they like.

Baying for Blood

It’s the story that just won’t go away. Officials have had to secretly move Gillian Gibbons from the jail in Khartoum where she was being held because of the threats to her life. As reported tonight by the Daily Telegraph:

Sheikh Abdul Jalil Karuri, a leading cleric, earlier whipped up a crowd attending Khartoum’s Martyr’s Mosque by telling them Gillian Gibbons had deliberately named her class’s teddy bear Mohammed “with the intention of insulting Islam.”

  huknife.jpg
Knife-wielding crowds protest in Khartoum

Later the protestors joined other worshippers to congregate in Martyrs Square, in the centre of the capital, where they chanted “Shame, shame on the UK”.

“Those who insult the Prophet of Islam should be punished with bullets,” the crowd shouted after Gibbons, 54, was jailed for 15 days on charges stemming from naming a teddy bear Mohammed.

Others shouted “execute her” before large crowds of people who had congregated outside the British embassy, some on horseback, dispersed peacefully.

This is a type of Islam that must be confronted. This is Jihad that must be met with Crusade. It is a clear and present danger. To continue to appease it is a foolish course of action. Unfortunately, the West does not have anything near the resolve imagined in the delusional minds of the sheiks, mullahs, and imams that whip up the frenzy.

With a post-Christian pan-religionist Europe, the only country with the ability to do anything is the US.  However, the US can’t do anything without being accused of imperialism. It also lacks the willpower to effect real change. After all, it overthrew the Taliban in Afghanistan only to install another Islamist regime where Christianity is still outlawed.

This is one reason I do not support withdrawal of troops from Iraq. To leave Iraq is to give victory to the Islamist insurgency.  It is to make the world a less safe place.