Posted by Joshua on Monday, November 30th, 2009
Swiss Ban Building of Minarets on Mosques
By NICK CUMMING-BRUCE and STEVEN ERLANGER
Published: November 29, 2009
GENEVA — In a vote that displayed a widespread anxiety about Islam and undermined the country’s reputation for religious tolerance, the Swiss on Sunday overwhelmingly imposed a national ban on the construction of minarets, the prayer towers of mosques, in a referendum drawn up by the far right and opposed by the government.
Walter Wobmann, president of the committee “Yes for a Ban on Minarets,” gave a thumbs-up in Egerkingen, Switzerland, on Sunday.
Marcel Bieri/Keystone, via Associated Press
The referendum, which passed with a clear majority of 57.5 percent of the voters and in 22 of Switzerland’s 26 cantons, was a victory for the right. The vote against was 42.5 percent. Because the ban gained a majority of votes and passed in a majority of the cantons, it will be added to the Constitution.
The Swiss Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but the rightist Swiss People’s Party, or S.V.P., and a small religious party had proposed inserting a single sentence banning the construction of minarets, leading to the referendum.
The Swiss government said it would respect the vote and sought to reassure the Muslim population — mostly immigrants from other parts of Europe, like Kosovo and Turkey — that the minaret ban was “not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture.”
Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, the justice minister, said the result “reflects fears among the population of Islamic fundamentalist tendencies.”
While such concerns “have to be taken seriously,” she said in a statement, “The Federal Council takes the view that a ban on the construction of new minarets is not a feasible means of countering extremist tendencies.”
The government must now draft a supporting law on the ban, a process that could take at least a year and could put Switzerland in breach of international conventions on human rights.
Of 150 mosques or prayer rooms in Switzerland, only 4 have minarets, and only 2 more minarets are planned. None conduct the call to prayer. There are about 400,000 Muslims in a population of some 7.5 million people. Close to 90 percent of Muslims in Switzerland are from Kosovo and Turkey, and most do not adhere to the codes of dress and conduct associated with conservative Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, said Manon Schick, a spokeswoman for Amnesty International in Switzerland.
“Most painful for us is not the minaret ban, but the symbol sent by this vote,” said Farhad Afshar, who runs the Coordination of Islamic Organizations in Switzerland. “Muslims do not feel accepted as a religious community.”…
In a recent televised debate, Ulrich Schlüer, a member of Parliament from the S.V.P., said minarets were a symbol of “the political will to take power” and establish Shariah, or religious law…..
مؤتمر دولي في تدمر يبحث مصير طائر أبو منجل الأصلع
طباعة أرسل لصديق
هشام عدرة – الشرق الاوسط
29/ 11/ 2009
احتضنت مدينة تدمر، عاصمة البادية السورية، مؤتمراً دولياً لطائر «أبو منجل الأصلع»، وهو من الطيور النادرة والمهدّدة بالانقراض، نظمته المجموعة الاستشارية الدولية «أيا»، بالتعاون مع هيئة تطوير وتنمية وإدارة البادية السورية (هيئة حكومية) والجمعية السورية للحفاظ على الحياة البرية (منظمة أهلية). وشارك في المؤتمر خبراء وباحثون من 12 بلداً عربياً وأجنبياً ومن منظمات دولية معنية بالبيئة…
“… Several nations had hoped to stall the invasion of Iraq to allow U.N. weapons inspectors more time to search for evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction – the key justification for the war. No such weapons were ever found. Yet Bush’s inner circle cared little about what international allies thought and refused to halt plans to invade in March 2003, Greenstock said. He said even Blair was unable to persuade Bush, winning only a brief hiatus of two weeks…”
Bill would allow import of books from Syria, Lebanon
By Jonathan Lis, Haaretz
Books translated in “hostile countries” will soon be allowed to be sold in Israel, after the Ministerial Committee for Legislation decided yesterday to support a bill overturning a World War II-era law aimed at blocking information from enemy states.
This will allow the Arabic translations of best-selling children’s books like “Harry Potter” and “Pinocchio,” as well as Arabic versions of prominent Israeli authors, to be sold here.
Until now, Arabic translations of popular children’s books and works by authors like Amos Oz, Yoram Kaniuk and Eshkol Nevo were not available in Israel, because they were printed in hostile countries like Syria and Lebanon. This was because a 1939 British-Mandate era law prohibited literature from being imported from enemy states.
Given the relatively low readership of Arabic-language books in Israel, and the resulting low returns on translations, almost none have been produced in Israel.
The present bill, initiated by MKs Yuli Tamir, Yariv Levin and Zeev Bielski, aims to make literature in Arabic more readily available.
Tamir (Labor) said yesterday, “This would be an important law, one that ensures the freedom of literature and culture of all citizens. Every citizen is entitled to read literature in his mother tongue. This law would end the absence of children’s books and belles-lettres for Arabic readers.”
Hamas Bans Women Dancers, Scooter Riders in Gaza Islamic Drive
2009-11-3o, By Daniel Williams
Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) — The Islamic Hamas movement banned girls last month from riding behind men on motor scooters and forbade women from dancing at the opening of a folk museum. Girls in some schools must wear Islamic headscarves and cloaks. Signs of Hamas’s creeping Islamization are everywhere in Gaza, the Mediterranean coastal enclave that Hamas has run by itself since 2007. Gaza is already politically divided from the West Bank, the Palestinian territory administered by the secular Fatah movement. “Ruling by itself, Hamas can stamp its ideas on everyone,” said Mkhaimar Abusada, a political science professor at Gaza’s al-Azhar University. “Islamizing society has always been part of Hamas strategy.”
Avi Shlaim in conversation with Shlomo Sand
Frontline Club, November 12, 2009 [Thanks to War in Context]
Shlomo Sand, author of Invention of the Jewish People, and Avi Shlaim, author of Israel and Palestine, in conversation about their new books at a packed Frontline Club yesterday. Chaired by Jacqueline Rose, author of The Last Resistance….[Watch youtube]