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Views on the News - 25-11-2009

Europeans debate on how best coerce Muslim integration

In future an immigrant arriving in Germany and wishing to stay may have to sign an "integration contract". That is the idea of the Integration Minister, Maria Boehmer.

The contract would set out basic German "values," including "freedom of speech" and "equal rights for women". The idea behind this is the club: if you join you have to accept the rules. "Anyone who wants to live here for a long time," says the minister, "and who wants to work has to say 'yes' to our country". In different forms ideas like this are surfacing across Europe. The concern is that significant parts of European cities exist as "parallel societies".

The French are currently debating national identity and emphasizing "core values". The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has said that all beliefs are respected in France, but "becoming French means adhering to a form of civilisation, to values, to morals".

Britain, too, has introduced citizenship tests. Migrants have to take language and citizen classes designed to help them integrate better. Only the other day Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that "British people want to be assured that newcomers will accept the responsibilities as well as the rights that come with living here, obeying the law, speaking English, and making contributions". In Switzerland this weekend voters will be asked to decide whether to ban the construction of minarets. So on the European continent there is a strong debate on best to integrate Muslims and all indications are that the situation will only get tougher for them.
Britain's Islamaphobia on the rise: Sikh to become first non-white BNP member

The British National Party (BNP) has lined up its first non-white member - an Asian man who hates Muslims. Sikh Rajinder Singh is desperate to join the BNP when its whites-only membership rule is dropped. The activist hates Muslims and blames them for the death of his dad during the partition of India more than 60 years ago. The ex-teacher, who is in his 70s, has supported the BNP for almost 10 years and appears in their publicity material. He is now poised to become their first ethnic minority member after the leadership started the process of dropping a ban on non-whites. Members will vote on the move after the Human Rights Commission threatened the party with legal action if they did not change the policy. Communications officer Martin Wingfield wrote on its website: "Give the brave and loyal Rajinder Singh the honour of becoming the first ethnic minority member of the BNP."
Ahmadinejad contradicts Western account over Iran 's nuclear programme

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday the proposal to give part of Iran's uranium to Russia and France in exchange for enriched uranium came from his country not the West. At a press conference after his meeting with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Ahmadinejad said Western powers had given a false account of what happened to the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, covering up the fact that Tehran made the initiative. The plan submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran would send about 70 percent of its low-grade enriched uranium to Russia and France, where it would be turned into fuel rods for an Iranian reactor to produce nuclear energy. He claimed Iran has the right to enrich uranium to a purity of 20 percent. He sent letters to the governments of Russia and the United States indicating his readiness to buy enriched fuel from other countries.
US in back-channel talks with Afghan Taliban

After fighting a bloody war in Afghanistan for more than eight years, the United States appears to have undertaken a re-think of its policy and has started engaging the Taliban in negotiations through Saudi and Pakistani intelligence agencies, highly-placed sources told Dawn News on Monday. ‘We have started ‘engagement' with the Afghan Taliban and are hopeful that our efforts will bear fruit,' a source involved in secret negotiations told dawn news. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday that the United States is open to the prospect of Afghan government peace talks with elements of the Taliban, but she advised Kabul officials to proceed cautiously.

The Obama administration is giving a cautious nod of approval to possible peace contacts between the Kabul government and Taliban factions, as it nears a decision on whether to add as many as 40,000 troops to the Afghan war effort. A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Sunday that the Afghan leader, newly sworn in to a second term in office, might invite Taliban elements and other militant opponents of the government to a Loya Jirga, or grand council meeting, aimed at bringing peace and reconciliation to the war-torn country.

Senior leaders of BJP implicated in the destruction of the Babari Masjid

This week angry Indian parliamentarians forced the adjournment of sessions at the Lok Sabha after a local newspaper printed leaked excerpts of a judicial report into the destruction of the Babri Masjid by Hindu activists in 1992. The leaked portions, published in the Indian Express claimed that leaders of the Bharatiya Janata party, the Hindu nationalist opposition, had played a part in a carefully planned operation to storm the mosque, which Hindu activists claimed sat upon the birthplace of Lord Ram.

Among those mentioned were Atal Behari Vajpayee, the former prime minister, and Lal Krishna Advani, the leader of the opposition.Mr Advani accused the Congress-party led government of deliberately leaking selected parts of the report to skew its interpretation and demanded that the full report be tabled in parliament immediately. The demolition of the Babri Masjid remains a divisive issue in India. In the run-up to parliamentary elections this year, Mr Singh attacked his rival Mr Advani, blaming him for sectarian violence including the destruction of the Babri Masjid and the 2002 Gujarat riots that cost the lives of about 2,000 Muslims.

25th November 2009


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