Saturday, March 05, 2005

The jilbab Is Just the Beginning...

This week the UK Appeals Court ruled that Shabina Begum, a 15 year old Muslim girl living in Britain, had been improperly discriminated against by her local high school when school administrators refused to allow her to don a jilbab - a traditional Muslim garment that covers a woman's whole body, save for face and hands - instead of the school's mandatory uniform (see post from Wednesday, March 2). The court found that under the UK's Human Rights Act Ms. Begum had every right to supplant the school's policy with her own preference, and that the school would simply have to accept it. Ms. Begum hailed the ruling as a "victory for Islam." According to an article in today's UK Times, Ms. Begum represents just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Muslim girls living in Britain who for fundamentalist Islam.

According to the Muslim Council of Britain, an increasing number of teenage girls are wearing Islamic clothes and are embracing the religion more intensely than their parents.

“They have fewer direct links with their country of origin compared with their parents and so more of the younger generation find an awareness of their identity through religion,” said Inayat Bunglawala, a spokesman for the council.

“Many of them follow Islam more strictly than their parents and there is no doubt that an increasing number of young Muslim women are wearing the hijab and jilbab,” he said.

The Times notes that Ms. Begum's case is exemplative of the trend of Muslim girls in Britain rejecting the Western values of the society in which they live in favor of Islamic fundamentalism.

Increased hostility towards Muslims after September 11, fringe Islamic groups with radical ideologies, the death of her mother and a culture of poverty and despair in Luton all had an effect on Miss Begum. The influence of Muslim groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir and the now disbanded al-Uhajiroun are undeniable. Luton is an ideal recruiting ground for radical groups; its Muslim population of 25,000 consists of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, concentrated in Bury Park, a small run-down area. The unemployment rate among men is 20 per cent and the number of madrassas (religious schools) has grown from four in 1989 to 15. Former classmates of Miss Begum, who did not want to be named, said she had gone from being a “normal”, girl to one who had become a devout Muslim almost overnight.
This paragraph begs the serious question: why has the British government permitted this? Does the British government place so little value on the survival of the British nation and culture that it would permit large numbers of foreigners - from cultures bearing no similarity to Britain's - to settle parts of Britain and fester like an open sore? Of course, similar questions could be asked in every European capital and in Washington too. Note that Muslims in Britain, like most other European nation, are often hard pressed to find work and subsist on welfare benefits. These conditions - combined with the immigrants' natural desire to reside among fellow Muslims and native countryment - lead to the creations of Muslim ghettos like Luton, which become progressively isolated from the European culture surrounding them. Isolation and difference quickly become hostility, particularly when the immigrants' religion paints outsiders as a "infidels" whose lives are worth less than those of believers and whose culture contradicts the extremists religious strictures.

Friends of [Ms. Begum's] family — her father died in 1992 and whose mother died in 2003 — say that her brother had started supporting Hizb ut-Tahrir around this time. They described Shuweb Rahman, 22, a computer science student at Hatfield University, as intelligent and hardworking. Since the death of his father Mr Rahman had taken on responsibility for his sisters, Shamina 18, a student, and Shabina. Hizb ut-Tahrir has a record of targeting young people and is banned in many Middle East countries. Al-Muhajiroun also had a high-profile presence in the area. Shamina Begum, who also wears the jilbab in public, spoke to The Times from the family’s small terraced house. “They (Hizb ut-Tahrir) supported Shabina but didn’t give any money. Lots of groups helped us. I think their influence has been exaggerated.

“We are not going to sue the school for compensation, that’s not what this case was about. Shabina has been very happy and cheerful since she won.”

Well, how thoughtful of them. They've made it possible for Muslims in Britain to legally isolate themselves from British culture - furthering the alienation and ghettoization that breeds support for Islamist radicalism. Assimilating such immigrants into Western societies will be especially difficult if the courts uphold the rights of immigrants not to participate in the assimilation.

Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Bar, said: “Hizb ut-Tahrir targeted the school, they grandstanded this case, they are trying to pick a fight . . . social services should have looked at this case. A 13-year-old girl does not make statements and decisions like that on her own.”

Mr. Mahmood is kidding himself, or the Times. Had social services dared to investigate Ms. Begum's family, the cries of racism and "Islamophobia" would have thundered from the lips of every "human rights activist" and Muslim advocacy organization in Britain. Social services would have found itself facing legal action. Lower courts originally dismissed the case, but Ms. Begum and her backers pressed on, knowing that they could exploit the higher court's desire to demonstrate its multiculturalist sensibilities. The Islamists have learned how to manipulate Western court systems to further their own ends. They also understand all too well how guilt and self-loathing has infected Western intellectuals and crippled the West's willingness to defend itself. Ms. Begum termed the ruling a "victory for all Muslims
who wish to preserve their identity and values" but she could just have well described it as a "defeat for the Western culture and values."

Friday, March 04, 2005

In Venezuela, the Sad Cycle Continues

Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez has won lavish praise from the usual left-wing circles in the US and Europe, mainly for his constant and public denunciations of the US and US foreign policy. It's no coincidence that the same crowd that cheerleads for Chavez, also waves pompoms every time Fidel Castro shuffles up to the microphone for another of his trademark multi-hour Marxist harrangues. Nor is it any coincidence that Hugo Chavez has been openly allying himself - and Venezuela - with Cuba. This, of course, wins Chavez only more praise from the international left, which practically falls over itself to shower him with praise.

But in what can only be described as a sad, and entirely predictable cycle of economic foolishness, Chavez has begun to implement exactly the same Marxist "economic reforms" that have doomed so many Latin and South American economies in the past.
If any doubts remained about President Hugo Chávez's plans for Venezuela's destiny, they have been erased by his decree to "rescue" unproductive lands and assign them to "groups of the population" and "organized communities" from rural areas. Private property is history, so Chávez is proceeding to strengthen the failed agrarian reforms of socialist Venezuelan governments from the 1960s, '70s and '80s, renaming them the "agrarian revolution."

The new Land Law authorizes the government to expropriate land that bureaucrats consider underutilized and to do the same in those cases in which the government discovers an error in a title of land. Venezuelans already know the modus operandi of Chávez's bureaucracy. In trying to obtain a birth certificate, an identification card, a passport, a certified copy of any legal document and even in registering the elderly to receive pensions, each "mistake" represents a potential source of income for each official, and at the same time, a delay of several months for each citizen's request.

Actually, Chavez's new "land reform" sounds suspiciously like that implemented by Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who expropriated the land held by white farmers for redistribution. Mugabe argued that the white farmers' ancestors had stolen the land from native Africans during the colonial period and that he was merely returning the land to the people, who would farm it more productively. In fact, he distributed the land only among his political supporters, most of whom had no experience in farming, nor even attempted to keep the farms going. In almost all cases, the land fell fallow and Zimbabwe - which formerly export food products - now requires large amounts of international food aid to stave off mass starvation. While proclaiming his intention to redistibute wealth to Zimbabwe's poor, Mugabe has only increased their numbers and arrogated more political power to himself and his cronies. Given the long experience of land seizures and "redistribution" by third world socialist governments, one can confidently predict that nearly all private land held by Chavez opponents will eventually be siezed and agricultural production will eventually fall.

But the Chavez "revolution" doesn't begin or end with farming. He has much bigger plans. The government of Venevuela is expanding at nearly the rate that economic conditions are declining. Who fills all the new government jobs? Why, Chavez political supporters, of course - yet another replay of every failed socialist regime from Latin American history.

Chávez began his mandate in 1999 with 13 ministries and since then he has added 8 new ones, for a total of 21 ministries, three of which were created at the beginning of January. It seems that the inflation of ministries is advancing even faster than inflation of the bolívar. None of the high officials of the current Venezuelan government distinguished themselves before for any activity besides blowing up oil pipelines or trying to undermine the capitalist system by promoting nationalism and Marxism in schools, universities, and the media. The Venezuelan tragedy is that none of them has the slightest idea of how to achieve prosperity. Their ignorance, greed, and hate are burying the nation.

Naturally, Chavez polls his highest support amongst Venezuela's poor, who hear only his magnificent promises, but don't understand enough of economics to realize the damage he is doing. Ironically, as the economy falters under Chavez's guidence, and the number of impoverished Venezuelans grows, Chavez's support will only increase, fed by what will doubtless be increasingly strident rhetoric blaming the US (or Venezuela's remaining rich, or domestic insurgents - basically anything but his own economic policies) for the country's economic woes. Look also for Chavez to radically alter the law to keep himself and his socialist clique in power - another typical tactic - or to declare a national emergency.

Chavez will inevitably fall, but likely not before the Venezuelan economy faces near collapse and its legal system has been thoroughly gutted. In the meantime, the smarter and more industrious amongst the Venezuelan people will flee the country, looking for security and economic opportunity elsewhere. The US should expect the number of immigrants - legal and otherwise - from Venezuela to rise steadily in the coming years. Of course, admitting these immigrants does nothing to help Venezuela since it only rids Chavez of the very people who would oppose him, undercutting any internal movement to resist the Chavez government, and robs the Venezuelan people and economy of the very entrepeneurial and managerial class it requires to maintain any level of prosperity.

Chinese Military Spending to Jump

At its annual parliamentary meeting in Beijing, the Chinese government announced that it will increase military yearly expenditures by 12 percent.

Friday's announcement is the latest in a series of regular cash infusions to try to upgrade and modernise China's army.

But Jiang Enzhu, a spokesman for China's parliament, played down the significance of the rise, which will take official military spending to 247.7bn yuan ($29.9bn).

He said the money would help pay for more training and modern weapons, but stressed that much of it was needed to boost soldiers' pay and cover the social costs of cutting 200,000 personnel.

He added that China's defence spending was far lower than that of other major powers.

However, many hawkish voices on China in the US administration believe that Beijing's figures may understate the real level of military spending.

The rise in Chinese military spending comes just weeks after Japan broke with decades of passive foreign policy and joined the US in listing the defense of Taiwan as a primary defense concern (see earlier posts). That drew an angry response from Beijing which continually threatens to invade the little democratic island. As the US and Japan move toward an increasingly unified defensive posture against China, the European Union is preparing to lift its nearly 15 year old embargo on arms sales to China, despite American and Japanese pleas to keep the ban in place (see earlier posts). The Chinese parliament - which, despite its name, does not function in any manner resembling the parliament of a democratic nation - is also considering an "anti-seccession" law which would make provide explicit legal justification for invading Taiwan should the island dare to declare independence.

Mr Jiang stressed in his news conference that it was not a "war mobilisation order".

But he also warned: "Taiwan independence forces and their adventurous moves have seriously threatened China's state sovereignty and territorial integrity."

The anti-secession law will be addressed in a speech by NPC Vice Chairman Wang Zhaoguo on Tuesday. And analysts will also watch for any mention of it during Premier Wen Jiabao's work report on Saturday.
Though China is a one-party state and all dissent against the ruling communist party is brutally repressed, the Chinese government still manifests the same instinctive paranoia that all repressive regimes display.

As is usual for China's annual parliamentary session, security is tight in the capital.

Cars are searched as they enter Beijing, and there is a ban on hot air balloons, model aircraft and paragliders.

"More than 650,000 people will stand guard and go on patrol on the city's streets and lanes every day to guarantee security," the Legal Evening Post quoted a Public Security Bureau official as saying.
Unlike the US, where security surrounding government events and national monuments became forceful after the September 11th atrocities, China does not find itself currently at war, at any immediate risk of imminent military attack, or targeted by international terrorists. So one might wonder exactly of whom the Chinese government officials are afraid. Perhaps their own people?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Tacit Admissions

An article praising the career of 2005 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize-winning economist Axel Ockenfels on Deutsche Welle, singles him out not only for his acheivements, but for being "happy to work in Germany - despite his international reputation."

Apparently, Professor Ockenfels is so highly regarded by economists that his decision to live and work in Germany makes him a conspicuous exception to the general exodus of talented people from the country.
But unlike many of Germany's A-list scientists, he's never been tempted to join the brain-drain crowd and head to the US to enjoy the higher salaries and first-class research opportunities available at the country's generously funded ivy league schools.
The decline in German purchasing power and slipping quality of life in German cities may also prompt so many of its "A-list" scientists to seek better accomodations abroad. Germany's talent drain may be contributing to its current economic downturn and high-unemployment rate (see posts below). But Professor Ockenfels takes the long view of things.
"No other country in the world has as many experimental laboratories," he says. "But people won't have realized this until the next generation of professors has come of age."

Islamic Justice

Today brings two illustrative examples of what passes for criminal justice in the Muslim world. In Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation on Earth, Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, a cleric was convicted of conspiracy in the 2002 bombing in Bali which slaughtered 202 innocent people. He will be jailed for thirty months, which amounts to about four and a half days in prison for each Bali victim.
At the end of the court case, a statement read out by the five judges said Ba'asyir had not been directly involved in carrying out the Bali blasts, but had given his approval for the attacks.


A statement by the court said Ba'asyir was aware of the conspiracy behind the Bali bombings.

"The defendant knew that the perpetrators of the bombing were people who have been trained in bomb-making in Pakistan and Afghanistan... the conditions of evil conspiracy have been met," the statement said.
However, the court cleared Ba'asyir of complicity in a 2003 bombing of a Marriot hotel in Jakarta, a charge that would have carried a more serious prison sentence. This trial was not Ba'asyir's first encounter with terrorism charges; he was previously charged with Jemeeh Islamiah, a militant Islamist group with ties to al-Qaeda, but was "cleared for lack of evidence."

Ba'asyir addressed the court after his sentence was delivered, saying: "I don't accept this verdict. This is not justice. God protect us from evil and its allies. Please, either open their hearts or destroy them."

He reportedly smiled broadly as he was led out of court, while his supporters climbed onto chairs with chants of "God is greatest".

Ba'asyir's followers cheered as their leader was cleared of the Jakarta bombing - which killed 12 innocent people - but howled when the judges convicted him of the relatively minor charge of conspiracy in the Bali atrocity. US and Australian representatives expressed disappointment at the sentence.

Australia, which lost 88 people in the Bali attacks, said the relatively lenient sentence was "disappointing".

"We are disappointed with the length of the sentence," Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told the BBC.

A spokesman for the US embassy in Jakarta also expressed disappointment at the sentence "given the gravity of the charges on which he was convicted".

Neither government indicated that Indonesia might face punitive measures for its gladhanding of Ba'asyir or its failure to restrain militant Islamists, which is fully consistent with Western governments' disregard for the lives of their citizens abroad.

Ironically, Ba'asyir and his supporters are probably pleased that he was not completely convicted, since even a small prison sentence can be used for propaganda purposes.

"It will increase his martyr status, but yet it doesn't cause him much discomfort," said Greg Barton, an expert on Jemaah Islamiah.

"If he was acquitted completely, it would have been less of a PR victory," Mr Barton told the BBC. "This way, it strengthens his argument that the [US-led] war on terror is way too heavy-handed and unjust."

The verdict may even make it easier for JI to recruit more members, he warned. "It's a pretty unfortunate circumstance all round."

In the eyes of a Islamist, justice consists of the murder of 202 infidels; prosecution for that crime is proof of an infidel conspiracy against Islam. Yet western countries continue to blithely admit tens of thousands of immigrants from Muslim nations as if no threat existed.

Meanwhile, a Pakistani appeals court has aquitted five men who were earlier found quilty of gang-raping Mukhtar Mai in 2002. The men allegedly raped Ms. Mai on the order of a local tribal counsel (known as a panchayat) in retaliation for allegations that her brother had raped a girl from a rival clan.

The panchayat in Meerwala, southern Punjab, had found Ms Mai's younger brother, Shakoor, guilty of raping a girl from the village's powerful Mastoi clan.

It was later revealed in a conventional court that the 12-year-old had in fact been kidnapped and sexually assaulted by the same men who later made up his jury.

It was alleged that Ms Mai was then taken away to be raped in revenge for her brother's supposed crime.

None of the 150 men present responded to her pleas for mercy, she said.

Ms. Mai cried as the five men were aquitted. Their lawyer, on the other hand, was elated.

Defence lawyer Mohammad Salim said: "Justice has been done. The verdict of the anti-terrorism court in August 2002 was largely influenced by media hype and government pressure."

That's true enough. Without media attention and government pressure no one would have been tried at all.

Displaying incredible courage, Ms. Mai declared her intention to soldier on in the face of legal reversals and hostility directed against her.

"I will go to appeal. I will go anywhere, wherever is necessary... to get my right," she told the Reuters news agency.


Ms Mai became famous after the rape for human rights work and pursuing the case through the courts, although she said she faced threats from her alleged attackers' supporters.

She built two schools in her village with the $9,400 compensation money she was awarded.

"Education will play a very, very important role in changing the minds of men. Without these schools, my life would be nothing," she told the BBC news website last year.

"Even if I don't succeed in my struggle," she says, "I'll keep trying until my death."

Sadly, if Ms. Mai continues to push for justice, she will very likely end up dead - like so many Pakistani women before her.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A 'Victory for Islam'

Shabina Begum is a 15 year old Muslim girl living in Britain who sued her local high school because its administration decided that she could not wear a jilbab - a traditional Muslim garment for women that leaves only the hands and face exposed - in defiance of the school's mandatory uniform. Ms. Begum accused Denbigh High School in Luton, Bedfordshire, of denying her the "right to education and to manifest her religious beliefs." A lower court dismissed her case, but the Appeal's Court overruled the lower court, affirming that the school "had denied [Ms. Begum] the right to manifest her religion, and denied her access to suitable and appropriate education." Ms. Begum faced the press triumphantly.

Speaking outside the court this morning, Shabina, now 16 and attending a school where the jilbab is allowed, called the decision "a victory for all Muslims who wish to preserve their identity and values despite prejudice and bigotry".

She said: "The decision of Denbigh High School to prevent my adherence to my religion cannot unfortunately be viewed as merely a local decision taken in isolation.

"Rather it was a consequence of an atmosphere that has been created in Western societies post 9/11, an atmosphere in which Islam has been made a target for vilification in the name of the War on Terror."
In Ms. Begum's mind it is bigotry for the British to insist on standards native to their culture and which support the equality of women - yet another western infidel concept. Notice that Ms. Begum insists that she has a religious right to wear Islamic garb, which allows her to preserve her identity. Anyone who disagrees is guilty of "prejudice and bigotry." Ms. Begum further accuses Western society of forstering an atmosphere of "vilification" of Islam after 9/11. Really? Did westerners destroy the World Trade Center? Bomb the Madrid trains? Blow up the nightclubs in Bali? Stab Theo van Gogh to death? Commit honor killings of Muslims who don't tow the fundamentalist line? Are western clerics holding lectures praising suicide attacks against civilians and recruiting for terrorist organizations? In the Islamocentric world-view of Ms. Begum it is Islam that is under siege - not the infidels that Muslims continue to slaughter world-wide. That says a great deal about the mindset of those with whom she keeps company. And there is every reason to believe this story is more complicated than it seems.
Yasmin Bevan, the school's head teacher, said last year that one of the reasons the school maintained its jilbab ban was to help children to resist the efforts of extremist Muslim groups to recruit them.
Ms Begum, whose parents are both dead, had worn the shalwar kameez from when she entered the school at the age of 12 until September 2002, when she and her brother, Shuweb Rahman, told the assistant head teacher that would now wear only a jilbab.

The judge said when she arrived dressed in a jilbab, she was told to go home and change into school uniform. She was accompanied by her brother and another young man, whom the assistant head teacher felt were unreasonable and threatening, he said.

So, until Ms. Begum was 15, she didn't feel religiously compelled to wear the jilbab. Her decision to don the traditional gard - designed to erase women from public scruitiny - came one day after the second anniversary of the Islamic attacks on New York and Washington. Moreover, on the day she opted for the jilbab, she arrived at the school accompanied by her brother and another male. The presence of the two men indicates that either Ms. Begum - or the men who very likely guided her sartorial decision - expected the school to object and presented themselves to intimidate the school officials. Indeed, the school officials felt them to be "threatening." Perhaps the court should have investigated the nature of Ms. Begum current living circumstances to determine what prompted her decision and exactly who influenced her. Of course, such an inquiry might have produced politically incorrect answers.

The school administration argued vainly that it alone had the right to set the standards of attire for its students. However, the Appeals Court ruled that under the UK's Human Rights Act, Ms. Begum had a "right" to override those standards to accomodate her religious beliefs. This bit of ridiculousness subordinates the school's administration to the student's authority and will likely lead to an end to the school's dress standard. Similar judicial nonsense in the US has obliterated public school officials' control over student dress and behavior in the name of "freedom of expression." This has greatly contributed to the lack of discipline in American high schools, and their deterioration into violence-ridden, intellectual sewers. (It is the natural outcome of the idea that education is a right, rather than a privilege extended to young people by a generous society.)

Lost in all of this is the right of Britain to maintain the standards of British culture and cultural norms against those who have willing choses to migrate and live in Britain. You'll notice that Ms. Begum adamantly demands her right to religious freedom, a distinctly Western concept. She does not want to be Western, however, or even British. She is a Muslim living in Britain. Just that and nothing more.

Last June, High Court judge Mr Justice Bennett dismissed the girl's application for judicial review, ruling she had failed to show that the "highly successful" 1,000-pupil school, where 79 per cent of students are Muslims, had excluded her or breached her human rights.

The school already allowed girls to wear a headscarf with the shalwar kameez - loose trousers and tunic approved by local Muslim leaders.

Well, isn't that lovely. The direct consequence of Britain mindless open-border immigration policy. Given the high fertility rates of Muslim immigrants to Europe - especially for women cloaked in the jilbab - in twenty years there will be many, many more women like Ms. Begum crowding the halls of British schools. That is, until the local imams decide that women no longer need education and forbid girls from attending schools. No doubt the British Appeals Court will promptly rule that forbidding women to attend school is a righful manifestation of Muslim religion.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Germany's Economic Decline

In a blow to Franco-German dreams of building a US-rivaling, superpower-status European Union centered on German economic might, the German economy appears in a sustained long-term downward spiral.

Germany risks becoming the new sick man of Europe as the Continent's one-time economic giant sinks deeper into malaise and falls further behind the rest of the EU, experts warned yesterday.

The country whose post-war recovery was hailed as an economic miracle is no longer basking in prosperity but increasingly languishing in poverty, especially when compared with rival nations.

Germany's reversal of fortunes stands in dramatic contrast to its once formidable economic reputation and the current fortunes of other EU states, including Britain.

The era when its car industry symbolised the country's formidable mix of innovation and engineering skill is now over and the future seems to consist of a long period of managed decline.

By 2011, per capita income in Germany will have been overtaken by Spain, until recently one of the poorest in the European Union.

Most startling is the finding that Germany has fallen way behind Britain in economic performance and individual purchasing power.

While Germany was eight percentage points ahead of Britain just a decade ago, now Britain is nine points ahead.

If that trend continues, Germany, which has had the lowest growth rate in Europe for almost 10 years, will eventually be close to the bottom of the EU's established 15 members (excluding the 10 new members who joined last May), just above Greece and Portugal.

What has caused Germany's stunning decline? Probably the same bad economic policies that are stifling France: over-regulation and a crushingly expensive welfare state. A quarter century ago, the UK found itself in a similar position, its economy contracting, unemployment soaring, innovation lagging and talent fleeing to more lucrative shores. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher brought Britain's economic rot to a halt and reversed it through pro-market reforms. Regulation was reduced; the business climate made more inviting. Welfare policies were reconsidered. Today the UK stands as one of the EU's strongest economies.

Experts from the New Social Market Economy Initiative recommend that the German government follow Britain's example and concentrate on tackling problems in the highly-regulated labour market in order to pull Germany out of its malaise.

They argue that the reforms Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has so far put in place, which have led to a slump in his popularity and prompted street demonstrations throughout the country, are inadequate for the task of turning Germany round.

"The recipes are out there," said Tasso Enzweiler, of the New Social Market Initiative. "To follow them we just need the British will, which is sadly lacking in Germany."

Whether the Germans can rally from their slump and embrace the economic changes necessary to rescussitate their economy and society remains an open question. Britain managed it, but only with the strong leadership of a visionary who had a strong friend across the pond. Germany has managed to alienate the US, and the ranks of its current political class shows few potential visionaries.

Its once generous welfare state now looks completely unaffordable and Germany is now suffering a brain drain of scientists.

A people with a reputation as the hardest-working in Europe have come to hate work and unemployment has reached a higher level than at any other time since the Second World War.

Despite the reality of these problems, German politicians continue to encourage additional immigration from countries whose cultures share no common values with Germany. In a country in which unemployment has already surpassed 12 percent, is there really a need for workers from abroad? And at what cost to native German workers are they imported? If the German political establishment cannot deal with even this most fundamental issue, how can it hope to restore Germany's economy?

Muslim Woman Murdered for 'Acting German'

Germans are now getting their own taste of the sort of shock felt in Holland at the murder of Theo van Gogh by militant Dutch Muslims. So long in denial about the millions of Muslim immigrants they permitted into their country, the vicious murder of a young Muslim woman may finally have awakened the German people to the threat their culture faces from within.

Hatin Sürücü was a Turkish Muslim who had lived in Germany for most of her life. At 16, her conservative Turkish family married her to a cousin in Istanbul, Turkey. But Hatin apparently tired of being treated like breeding stock and only stayed in Turkey for a short time before returning to Berlin with her son. She obtained welfare support and started training as an electrician. She also, fatally, decided to stop wearing her headscarf and cowering before Muslim men.
But it was a choice she paid for with her life. On Feb. 7, 23-year-old Hatin Sürücü was gunned down at the aforementioned bus stop. She died on the spot. Shortly afterwards, three of her brothers -- who reportedly had long been threatening her -- were arrested. Investigators suspect it was a so-called "honor killing," given the fact that Sürücü's ultra-conservative Turkish-Kurdish family strongly disapproved of her modern and "un-Islamic" life.
Hatin's murder was shocking enough, but the reaction of many Muslims caught Germans by surprise.

Days after Hatin Sürücü was killed, some male students of Turkish origin at a high school near the scene of the crime reportedly downplayed the act. During a class discussion on the murder, one said, "She (Hatin Sürücü) only had herself to blame," while another remarked "She deserved what she got --the whore lived like a German [emphasis mine]." The school's director promptly dashed off a letter to parents and students, castigating the students and warning that the school didn’t tolerate incitement against freedom.
Despite the usual empty rhetoric from Islamist apologists, this sort of sentiment is typical in among German Muslims.

"There isn't a single school with a high foreign population where teachers haven't faced this kind of thing, where individual students sometimes regard murder as a just sentence," said Heinz Wagner, head of school and education policy at the VBE teachers trade union and a school director himself. Referring to the controversial remarks on Sürücü's murder, he said, "The very fact that they decided to provoke with something like that tells you that they're getting their ideas from somewhere."

At Berlin's Turkish-dominated neighborhood near Kottbusser Tor in the Kreuzberg district, 17-year-old Erkan, a high school student of Turkish origin, was divided about the issue. "I'm not saying you should murder, but Hatin's lifestyle just didn't fit the way traditional Muslims live," he said.

Honor killings are just another inconvenient fact of fundamentalist Muslim life.
At the juvenile prison in the Berlin suburb Plötzensee, six of the current 529 inmates are serving time of six years and more for manslaughter in so-called "honor crimes." All come from the Muslim world. Aged between 18 and 22, one of them, an Afghan national, was 16 when he helped relatives kill a widowed aunt who had refused to marry her brother-in-law.

Prison director Marius Fiedler said most of the murders are often carefully plotted in the family with the support of all, including women. "Usually the patriarch selects the youngest son to carry out the crime because he knows that judges in Germany don't usually give the maximum sentence of 10 years to a minor for manslaughter," he said.
As usual, Muslim advocacy organizations are dismissing Hatin's murder and the Muslim applause the greeted it as not representative of Muslim opinion as a whole, and certain Muslim leaders are calling for mandatory ethics classes in high schools to instill democratic values - like, say, tolerance - in Muslim youth.
Some, however, are skeptical of such flash-in-the-pan plans. "Every time there's a controversial incident, politicians routinely come up with 'ethics class' as a panacea," said school director Wagner. "But the school can't be the only place for learning democratic values. You have to begin with the family."
High school ethics classes are no more likely to dispel the forces of Muslim extremism than a space heater is apt to melt a glacier. Cultural attitudes spring from family and immediate community - not the classroom. Moreover, Islamist extremists like to recruit young Muslim men who have been educated at Western universities (like Mohammed Atta, who led the September 11th massacre); such men have presumably already been as exposed as possible to ideals of democratic toleration, and due to their Muslim faith, reject such notions completely. Education by itself will neither liberalize Muslim communities nor defuse Islamist fanatics.

Germany opened its doors to Turkey and the rest of the Middle East. It now has festering ghettos filled with hostile, militant Muslims who despise German culture and refuse to assimilate. Incidents like the murder of Hatin Sürücü make denial of this reality impossible. The question for Germany, like Holland, and the rest of Europe, is: what now?

Malaysia Crackdown Sends Illegals Scurrying

After thrice extending the deadline for illegal immigrants to leave its borders in deference to the devastation of last December's deadly tsunami, which devastated large swaths of coastal Indonesia - native home to many of the illegal immigrants - Malaysia's amnesty period ends today. The result? Illegal immigrant are fleeing in droves.
About 1,000 men and women - carrying bags, gifts and portable stereos - jostled to buy tickets aboard one of five ships sailing for Indonesia's Sumatra island. Another 1,000 lined up at a nearby hall to register for berths on two Indonesian naval ships that would carry them to Java, south of Sumatra.
'I feel sad leaving but I don't want to be whipped or jailed. I will definitely come back legally,' said Mohamad Sifud, 30, who has worked illegally as a construction worker for 10 years.
Unlike the US, whose politicians dismiss even the notion that illegal immigrants could ever be deported, Malaysia's government actually means to excise those foreigners living in the country in defiance of its laws. The government has warned illegals that they face harsh penalties, including caning (whipping) if they are caught in Malaysia after the amnesty ends. Aside from resolve and determination to protect its borders, the Malaysian government has something else the US lacks: credibility. Illegal immigrants in Malaysia know that the government means business.
'Enough has been said. I hope the illegals take us serious and leave by today,' Home Minister Azmi Khalid told The Associated Press.

Immigration officials expected 12,000 to 15,000 immigrants to return Monday, adding to the 400,000 who already returned home. Some half million illegal workers were expected to remain in Malaysia despite the crackdown beginning Tuesday.
Indonesia has echoed the concerns of international human rights groups that overzealous officials in Malaysia may use excessive force against the migrants.
Fortunately for Malaysians, their government is not deterred by rhetoric from the country that causes Malaysia's illegal immigrant problem, or the "rights" organizations that hamper border enforcement. Americans should wonder why little Malaysia can do what the mighty US can't.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Russia Snubs the US ... Again

Just days after President Bush publicly chastised President Putin over Russia's slide toward authoritarianism, and lectured the Russian President on democracy, Russia has - rather predictably - defied the US and signed an agreement to provide nuclear fuel to Iran for its Russian-built nuclear reactor. Washington greeted news of the deal with icy diplomatic disapproval, but could do little more than glower in irritation.
The agreement was signed at the Bushehr atomic plant in southern Iran. Alexander Rumyantsev, head of Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency, said the first batch of enriched uranium fuel was in Siberia ready to be shipped.

"This is a very important incident in the ties between the two countries and in the near future a number of Russian experts will be sent to Bushehr to equip the power station," he said.
The US has warned that Iran plans to use the fuel from its new nuclear facility to process weapons grade plutonium for use in nuclear weapons. In a small gesture toward US concerns, Russia included an almost meaningless provision in the agreement.

Iran will have to repatriate all spent nuclear fuel to Russia. Moscow hopes this will allay American worries that Iran may use the spent fuel, which could be reprocessed into bomb-grade plutonium, to develop arms.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has been probing Iran's nuclear programme for more than two years, said it would keep a careful eye on Teheran's use of the fuel.

Given Russia's infamous inability to properly account for its own military assets, is anyone willing to believe that it will be able to adequately monitor the exact amounts of material being returned from Tehran - assuming the Iranians even bother to comply? The IAEA can only observe Tehran's compliance if the Iranians permit inspections, and inform the IAEA which facilities it should inspect. Iran wouldn't be the first country to pull the wool over the eyes of IAEA inspectors.
Sustained American pressure on Moscow - and the discovery that Iran had lied to UN inspectors about its nuclear programme for nearly two decades - delayed the deal between Iran and Russia for more than a year.
That pressure might have succeeded had Moscow believed that its cooperation with the US was providing some sort of valuable return. Instead, Washington has continued to expand NATO toward Russia's borders, helped Ukranian voters turn out Moscow's designated (and fraudulently elected) leader for Ukraine, and heavily criticized Putin's consolidation of power. What, Mr. Putin's advisors have been asking, does he get for helping the US? Their answer: nothing. Many Russians see the US as trying to surround and isolate Russia and deprive it of its traditional allies and hegemony. This perception is beginning to infuse Russian popular thought and entertainment.
Russia believes it is facing multiple threats and the Kremlin needs heroes. Chechen separatist rebels appear irritatingly indomitable, radical Islam is making inroads into the volatile south of the country and a shadowy third force allegedly intent on weakening and even dismembering Russia continues to hover in the smog above Moscow. And many Russians believe the Chinese are intent on swallowing up large parts of Siberia. Someone has to stop the rot: someone such as Major Pronin, for example. The fictional creation of writer Lev Ovalov, Major Pronin appeared in print in 1939 as a masterful counter-intelligence operative with a similarity to Ian Fleming's James Bond and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. With his faithful sidekick Viktor Jeleznov, he protects the Soviet Union from numerous sinister plots which often see him face an evil British spy known as "Rogers". The last Major Pronin novel was penned in 1962 but in the past year, five Pronin tales have been republished and reportedly sold extremely well.
Not surprisingly, Major Pronin's fans include Vladamir Putin, who credits the stories with motivating him to join the KGB years ago.
In First Person, a book of conversations with Mr Putin, he specifically mentions the tale. "My notion of the KGB came from romantic spy stories," he is quoted as saying. "Books and spy movies ... took hold of my imagination. What amazed me most of all was how one man's effort could achieve what whole armies could not."

Today the country's cinemas are doing their bit too. FSB Major Smolin, star of the recent blockbuster Dog Tag or Lichny Nomer, typifies the new breed of spy the Kremlin wants the young generation to lionise. Stoic, courageous and a man of few words, the film shows him escaping from separatist rebels in war-torn Chechnya. He quickly goes on to free hundreds of innocent civilian hostages from a Moscow circus that has been seized by Chechen terrorists and prevents detonation of a nuclear bomb above a Nato summit in Rome. Not bad for one man armed only with a pistol. The $7m film, a huge box-office hit in Russia, was made with the help of the FSB and the government. Planes, attack helicopters, armoured personnel carriers and real-life special forces troops were deployed to lend it authenticity. Up and down the country, adolescents are cramming into internet cafes to while away hours playing shoot-'em-up games where the targets are always Russia's number one enemy of the moment: terrorists.

FSB agents are sprinkled with hero dust in TV series such as National Security Agent, Liquidator and The Motherland Is Waiting. Valentin Velichko, head of the Veterans of Foreign Intelligence and a former KGB spy, in his airy office on the southern outskirts of Moscow, is among many who feel Russia can be saved only by its spooks. Surrounded by daggers, bullets, a bust of Peter the Great, a sinister-looking safe, and a special Russian intelligence service flag, Mr Velichko says: "We see our task as ... introducing law and order in the country with a view to establishing a dictatorship of law where everyone is equal before the law. We are [society's] ballast. When the waters get choppy we bring stability. But nobody needs to see our work." What is lacking in Russia, he says, is a strong sense of spirituality. "There is prostitution, corruption and thievery. The Russian Orthodox Church is weak."

With the 60th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany looming on 9 May, the armed forces and the country's elite special forces units are also getting the stardust treatment.

This month a "military-patriotic" TV channel - Zvezda or Star - aired in Moscow for the first time. It will soon be rolled out across the rest of the country with the backing of the Defence Ministry and will devote at least 10 per cent of its output to military matters. Its purpose is to reawaken dormant Russian pride in the armed forces.

Andrei Piontkovsky, a well-known political scientist, says KGB chic and glorification of the armed forces is going down well among Russians. "In Russia's political consciousness, the idea of strong power and order is quite popular ... and this propaganda is quite effective. It's not just about Chekhists [spies] but about the general militarisation of society. If you think you are encircled by enemies and some kind of fifth column then it's quite a natural process."

Mr Piontkovsky adds: "Nobody is going to restore Communism because the Chekhists have become millionaires. The idea of private property has won. But in Nazi Germany totalitarianism existed alongside private property and it had a different name. It was called fascism."

The danger of Russia reverting to an authoritarian government should worry Washington. But lecturing Moscow does little to prevent it. Russian can feel their country's weakness, its vulnerability to an American-dominated NATO in the west and a rising China in the East. That sense of threat breeds paranoia and reduces political opposition to the rise of a strong Russian leadership among Russian voters Understanding Russian security worries - like the proximity of NATO to its borders (even if unjustified in America's view) - and showing appropriate foreign policy restraint might ease Russia's sense that it is being surrounded, thus mitigating the popular anxiety that makes Putin's power grab possible.

This is not to argue that Washington is morally wrong to help Ukranians install a freely and fairly elected leader, or admit the formerly Russian-occupied nations of Eastern Europe to NATO, or to rightly point out that centralization of power - especially givin Russia's history - usually leads to dictatorship and misery. But Washington needs to admit that the cost of these actions will be to alienate Moscow and prompt the Kremlin to act against American interests when it has the chance. Putin's new deal with Tehran has all smells suspiciously like something done to spite the US. So too, the recent Russian arms sales to Venuzuala, which the US vigorously, indignantly and quite futilely opposed. Moscow can't confront the US directly, but it can wage passive-aggressive foreign policy, deliberately undermining US policy objectives. If the US wants Moscow to cooperate on such issues, it needs to give Russia something it values in return. This is the choice between neoconservative idealism and realpolitik. During the Cold War the US became an expert at the latter, ultimately outmaneuvering the USSR. The Bush administration, obsessed with the rhetoric of democratic idealism, can't seem to remember that geopolitics more resembles a chess game than Sunday School.