British prisons: Inmates converting to Islam
Prisoners are converting to Islam to win benefits and gain the protection of powerful Muslim gangs inside jails, the Chief Inspector of Prisons has warned. Up to a third of Muslim prisoners adopted the religion while serving their sentence, a new report by inspectors has found. Chief Inspector Dame Anne Owers also warned of the need for greater engagement with Muslim prisoners to prevent them turning to extremism. Her report said attempts to crack down on Muslim fanatics in jail are pushing inmates into the arms of extremists, claiming prison staffs treat all Muslims - including converts - as if they could pose a security threat. But this 'blanket approach' risks turning moderates into radicals. There are 10,300 Muslim prisoners in jails in England and Wales. The number has increased fourfold since 1994. Less than 1 per cent are behind bars for terror-related offences. Miss Owers said prison officers need to focus on individual prisoners instead of treating them all alike. 'Without that there is a real risk of a self-fulfiling prophecy: that the prison experience will create or entrench alienation and disaffection, so that prisons release into the community young men who are more likely to offend, or even embrace extremism,' she said. The warning came as a survey found Islam is linked to violent extremism in the minds of most Britons. A YouGov poll of 2,152 adults also revealed widespread concern about the impact of the faith on British values. It found nearly six in ten associate Islam with radical views, and two-thirds believe it encourages the repression of women.
Anti-Islam Wilders in line for Cabinet role as Liberals narrowly win Dutch elections
The Freedom Party of the anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders emerged as the third force in Dutch politics last night, nearly doubling its number of seats in Parliament in the country’s general elections. Mr Wilders won 21 seats, up from 9 — pushing the Christian Democrats, led by the outgoing Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, into fourth place. Mr Wilders, who wants to ban Muslim veils and the building of new mosques, is constitutionally bound to take part in coalition talks. He could be offered a place in a Cabinet chosen by Mr Rutte, who has said that the Freedom Party is “just another party”, but Mr Cohen has ruled out on moral grounds sharing power with the controversial critic of Islam on moral grounds. “We really want to be part of government, We want to participate. I don’t think the other parties can escape us,” Mr Wilders said.
US Defence Secretary Gates blames EU for Turkey 'drift'
Turkey's growing hostility to Israel may have been partly caused by its effective rejection by the European Union, the US defence secretary says. Robert Gates said Turkey may have been "pushed by some in Europe" away from the EU and into closer partnerships with states like Iran. Turkey has been put on the path to EU membership, but countries like France and Germany are openly opposed. Turkey and Israel's once-close alliance has come under severe strain. Their relations were already deteriorating before Israeli troops stormed a ship carrying aid to Gaza last month, killing nine Turks. "The deterioration in the relationship between Turkey and Israel over the past year-or-so is a matter of concern," Mr Gates said during a visit to London. "I think the two had a pretty constructive relationship and one that contributed to stability in the region, and I hope that, over time, that kind of constructive relationship can be re-established," he added. "I personally think that if there is anything to the notion that Turkey is, if you will, moving eastward, it is, in my view, in no small part because it was pushed, and pushed by some in Europe refusing to give Turkey the kind of organic link to the West that Turkey sought. I think we have to think long and hard about why these developments in Turkey [occurred] and what we might be able to do to counter them."
U.N. Approves New Sanctions to Deter Iran
The United Nations Security Council leveled its fourth round of sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program on Wednesday, but the measures did little to overcome widespread doubts that they — or even the additional steps pledged by American and European officials — would accomplish the Council’s longstanding goal: halting Iran’s production of nuclear fuel. The new resolution, hailed by President Obama as delivering “the toughest sanctions ever faced by the Iranian government,” took months to negotiate and major concessions by American officials, but still failed to carry the symbolic weight of a unanimous decision. Twelve of the 15 nations on the Council voted for the measure, while Turkey and Brazil voted against it and Lebanon abstained. The United States and Europe acknowledged before negotiations started that they would not get the tough sanctions they were hoping for, promising to enact harsher measures on their own once they had the imprimatur of the United Nations. Congress is expected to pass a package of unilateral sanctions against Iran, and European leaders will begin discussing possible measures at a summit meeting next week.
Pakistan ranked fifth most unstable country
Pakistan is the world’s fifth most unstable country, better only than Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and Sudan in that order, says the US State Department. The department’s Global Peace Index (GPI), released on Wednesday, reports that Pakistan’s overall score deteriorated steadily for the second successive year and it slid three places into the bottom five. Pakistan’s overall rank now is 145 on a list of 149 countries. All South Asian nations occupy the lower half of the regional table, headed by Nepal, in 82nd place. India, although better than Pakistan, is also in the red zone and is ranked 128. Israel rose two places to 144th in the 2010 index. Now it is one place ahead of Pakistan. Ongoing internal conflicts and related security concerns in Afghanistan and Pakistan contribute to their low rankings. Embroiled in conflict and instability for much of the past two decades, Afghanistan remained far from peaceful during 2009.
Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League formally launched in Sindh
The organisation for the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), headed by General (r) Pervez Musharraf, was formally launched in Sindh on Tuesday amid queries regarding accusations against the former military president of the country. APML’s organiser Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif accompanied by former president’s spokesman Rashid Qureshi, addressing a crowded press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday said the party has received a positive response in Karachi and other parts of Sindh during the last three days in the party leaders’ meetings that were held in the city. Responding to allegations against Musharraf including violation of constitution, dozens of killings at Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa, Benazir Bhutto and Nawab Akbar Bugti’s assassination, and killings of over 40 people in Karachi on May 12, 2007, the party leader said he knew such questions would be asked as they had faced the same questions from people at different places. He added that all accusations would be answered and defended with documentary proofs at an appropriate time. Saif remarked that everybody has the right to participate in the politics of the country.
Uzbekistan, China pledge closer energy and security ties
The leaders of Uzbekistan and China on Wednesday said they had signed deals aimed at increasing cooperation on energy and regional security. Speaking ahead of an annual meeting of the Chinese-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in Tashkent, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Uzbek President Islam Karimov pledged closer ties, particularly on nuclear fuel. "One of the question we discussed was that of long-term and stable cooperation in the field of ... uranium. It's necessary to work in such a way to develop natural uranium and uranium fields," Hu told reporters. Although the leaders said they had signed a number of agreements regarding the purchase of energy from Uzbekistan, including uranium and natural gas, they declined to provide specifics details on the deals. Karimov, who has led his isolated Central Asian state for nearly two decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union, pledged support for China's territorial integrity, specifically in Tibet and Taiwan. China has been increasingly active in ex-Soviet Central Asia in recent years, moving to secure access to the region's vast natural resources for its energy-starved industries.
Jun 10 2010