Several others injured by live bullets.
Palestinians were all but invisible in coverage of Donald Trump’s trip.
Netanyahu uses bloodshed in Britain to score points against Palestinian Authority
Complaints made to Metropolitan police amid widespread condemation following newspaper columnist’s now-deleted tweet
The newspaper columnist Katie Hopkins became the subject of a police review after the Manchester bombing on Monday, as questions were raised about the limits the press can go to when reporting the fallout from terrorist attacks.Continue reading...
There is very little that can compensate for the loss suffered by some of the parents and the trauma of others. Our hearts, minds and souls are with those who have suffered this mindless criminality. They will need all the support that is available and that can be given to them. We need to do this for them. The shock of such events is greater than words can express.
It is nigh impossible to comprehend the mindset of persons who can carry out such attacks, targeting innocent people, and in this case very young children. How can any sane human justify in their mind such atrocious acts? Some people have attributed this propensity to social outcasts or people who feel marginalised by society, adopting an ideology that tends to give them a path to a better afterlife which they could not find here. Are they going to be disappointed.Continue reading...
US president backs Israel-Saudi alliance aimed at Iran .
At the time of writing, the Police have issued a statement that they are treating the deadly attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester as terrorism-related. It remains to be seen whether this was related to specifically AQ or IS-related terrorism or something else, so my comments below are necessarily tentative.
We know that AQ/IS-related terrorism is a phenomenon we will have to sadly deal with for a number of years to come before it is finally defeated. It is still worth asking, however, whether there are actions we can take now that can hasten the coming of that day. Some actions may well make the problem worse – just think of US President Trump’s grotesque $110 billion arms deal at the weekend with the reactionary Saudi regime – the same regime that internally is an absolute monarchy that represents a human rights disaster zone and externally actively finances the spread across the world of perhaps the most intolerant and narrow-minded strain of modern Islam.
But are there actions that we could take that may help reduce the allure of terrorist groups? Have our own policies in the UK been the most appropriate ones to protect young people from being seduced by AS/IS propaganda? The UK government for several years now has been leaning on Internet Service Providers to block AQ/IS-related websites. This is reminiscent of the counter-productive and ultimately futile efforts in the 1980s by the Thatcher government to block Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams from appearing on the television. We should ask whether it might be more fruitful to be willing to openly allow – and even to encourage – debate and critical thinking about AQ-IS and their vision of an “Islamic State”. The government’s Prevent agenda – which sounds defensive and rather defeatist – might more effectively be re-named and re-fashioned as Expose or Engage.
At the same time, Muslim leaders must hopefully realise by now that they have a duty to disavow the idea of an “Islamic State”. It cannot be a good idea to teach children and young adults that a state that would necessarily discriminate on the grounds of religion is something that could benefit the world in the 21st century. A secular state that treats every citizen equally regardless of their faith is by far a better proposition. This is not a call for jingoism or anything like it, but rather, to appreciate the good we enjoy in the UK and the West in general.
There is little point in denying that much of the Muslim world is having enormous problems adapting to modernity. Freedom of religion, freedom of association, women’s rights, gay rights – these are areas where the vast majority of Muslim majority countries have been left far behind most of the rest of the world. A key reason for this appears to be the baleful influence of religion.
Religion, which at its best can be a force to inspire humility, wonder and to rouse our curiosity, has generated a lethal mutant form within parts of the Muslim community and it needs much more focused attention.
France seeks extradition of Jewish extremist operating from Israel
With troubling, dreamlike compositions, French photographer Mehdi Bahmed conveys the awkwardness of being caught between western and Arab identityContinue reading...
Since the 2016 election in particular, there has been a lot of discussion about how social media helps to disseminate “fake news”, often without really enumerating what that term means. Last week Facebook asked me to fill in a survey (and gave an audible signal to do so every time I opened the app) about what I knew about the news, featuring a series of multiple-choice questions about political events and celebrity gossip. I gave up about halfway, as I was late for work and I wasn’t sure what to do if I didn’t know — there was no “don’t know” option, so do I leave it blank or just take a wild guess? But it didn’t ask me what I thought of the stories Facebook continually allows to be spewed onto my news feed.
I call these stories “junk news”. A lot of the time, they are not, in any sense, news at all; they are human interest stories or photo series which have been broken up into about 20 or more pages, so you keep having to reload so they can serve up more adverts. And sometimes the lead-ins are dishonest; one of them purports to “finally solve the mystery” of the Australian “dingo baby” story (in which a mother was jailed for murder after claiming a dingo mauled her baby to death), which was in fact solved many years ago: the mother (right) was telling the truth and the dingo did indeed maul the baby. I’ve made a sort of hobby of Googling the name in the story and finding an actual news story about them, then posting the link in the comments so that interested readers don’t have to leaf through the multiple pages and load all the adverts that come with it. My comments get a few likes, but I’m sure they disappear in the comments or maybe get deleted. I’ve not noticed that I’ve been blocked by any of the spammers; they do after all want me to read at least part of their stories, I suppose.
Another part of the problem is the way Facebook “curates” our news feeds. Although you can set your desktop news feed to show the most recent stories, the default is the “top stories” and on the app, getting the “most recent” involves scrolling halfway down the miscellany tab on the right. And often the “top stories” are nothing of the kind; they are frequently several days old and it’s often difficult to tell why they have reappeared. Many of us use Facebook to keep in touch with our friends as much as to keep up to date with politics and campaigns or read other news stories; I don’t want to miss someone’s photos of their recent wedding because of an old, regurgitated non-news story, but that’s what FB’s “curation” does.
Facebook has been lecturing the public about how to recognise fake news and avoid recirculating it, but it has no problem taking money from junk content compilers and putting their plagiarised news stories on our feeds. They also allow people to post stories from sites which, although they don’t employ the infuriating 25-part ad-laden story method, also plagiarise content and repackage it as their own (often the sites are topic-based; one page I sometimes read keeps posting stories from sites with names like “cerebral palsy news”, all of whose content is second-hand). Of course, it is not all Facebook’s fault; mainstream media outlets are often unscrupulous about checking their facts and some willingly act as purveyors of propaganda, often presenting it as news as we have seen with the British tabloids for decades. But it is foolish to expect Facebook to go out of their way to curb fake news when it is one of the ways it makes money.
(And while I was in the middle of writing this, Facebook’s internal rulebook on violence was revealed online; it says a lot about their priorities that “someone shoot Trump” is banned because he is a head of state, but detailed instructions on how to kill a woman are accepted.)
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Addressing leaders of 40 Muslim nations in Saudi capital, US president moves away from anti-Islamic rhetoric of campaign
Donald Trump has attempted to stake a claim as a figure who can mobilise the Muslim world against extremism, using his much-anticipated speech on Islam as a rallying call for global cooperation rooted in reform, trade and faith.
جواب ترامپ و بقیه
از اینستای ارشاد نیکخواه pic.twitter.com/Teid2ghUjm
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Dozens of graduates and family members silently stood and walked out of Notre Dame’s commencement ceremony on Sunday, as Mike Pence began his address.Continue reading...
Donald Trump calls on leaders of Arab and Muslim-majority countries to take the lead in combating terrorists. Speaking in Riyadh on Sunday, the US president says the fight against extremism is not one between different faiths, but is ‘a battle between good and evil’Continue reading...
If there’s anything consistent about the Trump White House so far, it’s that people get appointed to positions for which they are totally unsuited. More than that: they’re frequently the worst possible candidates for the role. That starts with the president himself, of course – less presidential than your average radio phone-in ranter. It was evident in the appointment of Michael Flynn, a man allegedly in hock to the Russian state, as national security adviser; of multiple Goldman Sachs alumni to oversee financial regulation; and of Jeff Sessions, who regards the film Reefer Madness as accurate social commentary, as the top law-enforcement official in the land.
Siding with Saudi Arabia and antagonising Iran in order to weaken jihadism won’t workContinue reading...
Last week Ian Brady, a serial murderer of children from the 1960s, died in a “special hospital” (a high-security hospital which takes criminals who are mentally ill) aged 79. He had been convicted of three murders of children in 1966; he admitted to two more in 1985. His victims were of both sexes and between 10 and 17. He had been transferred from prison to the hospital in the 1980s after having been diagnosed as a psychopath; his accomplice, Myra Hindley, who helped lure and torture their victims although Brady did the actual killings, served out her time (she died in 2003) in prisons. According to Mark Easton on the BBC website, “Brady’s mug shot has become visual shorthand for psychopathic evil”; Martin Kettle in the Guardian the next day noted his and Hindley’s importance in the debate about abolishing the death penalty, which was abolished between the crimes and their being charged; Brady and Hindley “became the totemic faces of a Britain that they believed had ‘gone soft’ on crime”; he suggests that now that Brady is dead, “Britain can perhaps finally lay to rest the long and lingering possibility from the 1960s that hanging will ever return”. I’m not so sure.
The Moors murders took place in the early 1960s; nobody under 60 remembers them. Growing up in the 1980s, I remember Myra Hindley never being out of the news for long. Her notoriety by then was much greater than Brady’s; Brady made a nuisance of himself for the mental health staff looking after him and pursued various lawsuits but had never asked to be released. Hindley had always had admirers and sympathisers who presented her as a reformed citizen and a Christian, and harped on the Christian imperative to forgive those who wrong us; these notably included the Labour politician and penal reformer Lord Longford. The debate caused fury and this was reflected even in local newspapers far from Manchester; I recall letters in the Croydon Advertiser in the 1990s condemning the “sanctimonious claptrap” coming from Longford and in one case suggesting that the exhortation to forgive was not in reference to “torturers and killers of children or indeed any murderers”. A national tabloid stated in an editorial that Hindley should kill herself and that this is the one decent thing she could do (encouraging suicide is in fact a crime); I can recall an old lady calling into a night-time phone-in on LBC and state that she would kill Hindley if she were ever released; this sentiment was cited as a reason for denying her release on licence. I do not recall there being the same level of hatred towards Brady as towards Hindley during that time; his name was mentioned as an afterthought if at all.
Duncan Campbell, writing for the Guardian’s features section the same day, describes him as “the most hated man in Britain” and asks who “now fills the gulf of revulsion left by Brady”, coming up with suggestions such as Rosemary West, Peter Sutcliffe and Levi Bellfield. I don’t actually believe he was — he was in Hindley’s shadow — and none of the three he mentions, while the heinousness of their crimes approaches that of Brady and Hindley’s, attracts the degree of tabloid interest that Brady, let alone Hindley, did; joint public enemy number one for tabloid readers are the two men that killed the Liverpool toddler James Bulger as disturbed 10-year-old boys, whose every move has been scrutinised by the gutter press (which eagerly asks Bulgar’s mother her opinion every time) and who are regularly the focus of attempts to reveal their location on social media. While the death penalty was never an option (and would not have been even before 1964; the youth of cop killer Christopher Craig was the reason his learning impaired accomplice Derek Bentley was hanged in 1953), calls to execute them were also heard on talk radio during that time (one woman even suggested they be held until age 18 and then executed). Brady and Hindley were adults; the hounding of these two for something they did at age 10 demonstrates how unscrupulous the British tabloids are in pursuit of a profitable story.
Has the death penalty issue died with Brady? Sadly, I suspect it hasn’t. Support for its reintroduction has declined over the years, but dipped below 50% in the British Social Attitudes Survey only in 2015 (it had been 75% in 1983 when the survey began); the fact that politicians refused to reintroduce it despite much evidence of public support has been a continual gripe of right-wing anti-human rights agitators and politicians and if Brexit is followed by the abolition of the Human Rights Act, reintroduction of the death penalty is likely to be back on the agenda as a result. Personally, I would have no difficulty with Brady and Hindley or others like them being executed; the problem is that innocent people would be as well, as has been demonstrated amply in the USA since the moratorium on it was lifted in 1976. To take one British case, the judge in the original trial of the Guildford Four (who were jailed for an IRA pub bombing to which some actual members of the IRA later confessed) told one of them that he should have been charged with treason, which still carried the death penalty which the judge would have had no difficulty in passing. In an earlier British case, a serial murderer called John Christie framed a neighbour, Timothy Evans, for the murder of his wife and daughter, which had in fact been Christie’s doing. Evans was hanged; Christie went on killing and was eventually executed in 1953 for murdering his wife.
The police have a vested interest in being seen to get results, which at times outweighs the need to find the actual perpetrator; juries are swayed by prejudice, dominant jurors and fatigue towards wrongful verdicts. On other occasions people have been convicted on the basis of ‘science’ which was later proven to be false (as in another IRA case and more recently the many people convicted on the basis of a hair analysis technique that has since been debunked). I’m not swayed by the argument that the death penalty makes murderers of us all and would not stand between a man I believed to be guilty and his executioner, but the danger of executing an innocent person is too great, and the danger increases in the cases of the most heinous murders (serial killings, those of a sexual nature and/or where the victims are children, major terrorist atrocities) where many people would argue it is more justified. For this reason, I believe the death penalty should not be reintroduced in this country. Our legal and political system just cannot be trusted with it.
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“They are for child marriages”. Who has not heard that myth about Islam and Muslims? But what about the USA? There are states in the USA that allow marriages of children aged 12,13 or 14, and has done so since the 1700s and 1800s. And guess what? It is mainly a “Christian” problem.
Most states in the USA prohibit child marriages, but not all, and there are “exceptions” in most states that allow minors to marry if a court okays it even if the minimum age is higher.
In Virginia 12 year-old’s were allowed to marry until last year when the minimum age was raised.
Between 2004 and 2013, 4,500 children under the age of 18 were married in the state, with more than 200 of them younger than 15. State authorities decided they had enough of this grossness and abolished laws that allowed parental and judicial consent for girls 12 to 13 to get married if they were pregnant.
In New Hamsphire the minimum age is 13:
It’s not often middle-schoolers get married in New Hampshire. But it’s still perfectly legal, after the Republican-led House killed a bill Thursday to raise the marriage age to 18. The rejection leaves intact a state law that lets girls get married as young as age 13 with parental consent and sign-off from a judge. Boys a year older can marry with the same approvals.
In North Carolina the minimum age is 14:
“If an unmarried female who is more than 14 years of age, but less than 16 years of age, is pregnant or has given birth to a child and the unmarried female and the putative father of the child, either born or unborn, agree to marry, or if an unmarried male who is more than 14 years of age, but less than 16 years of age, is the putative father of a child, either born or unborn, and the unmarried male and the mother of the child agree to marry, the register of deeds is authorized to issue to the parties a license to marry; and it shall be lawful for them to marry in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter,”
In New Jersey the minimum age is 18. But children can marry younger, with parental consent. Judges can even allow 13 year old’s to marry.
The minimum marriage age in New Jersey is 18. However, children ages 16 or 17 may wed with “parental consent” (with no process in place to ensure it’s not actually “parental coercion”), and children 15 or younger may wed with judicial approval (with no minimum age below which a judge may no longer approve a marriage, and with no instructions for judges not to approve marriages for couple at ages or with age differences that are considered statutory rape).
The last case, New Jersey, shows one important thing. There are exceptions to the laws in almost all states, meaning that if the law formally states that the minimum age is 18, the real minimum age might be below that age.
This is how it looks like if one disregards the exceptions.
Eleven other states — Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin—and the District of Columbia require parties to be at least age 16. Five states require parties to be at least age 15: Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland and Utah. Three states require parties to be at least age 14: Alaska, New York and North Carolina. One state requires males to be at least age 14 and females to be at least age 13: New Hampshire. Case law in Massachusetts, but not statute, directs that males must be at least age 14 and females must be at least age 12.
The number of “child marriages” are not high. As PEW research showed the numbers are below 1%. Child marriages in the USA are mainly a problem in some Christian communities, as has been described in several articles in New York Times, Washington Post.
170,000 children were wed between 2000 and 2010 in the USA, in 38 of the 50 states where data was available.
Some people spread myths about the “Muslim threat” and claim that child marriages is an “imported” problem. The “Muslims” are as usual the ones to blame. IT IS NOT AN IMPORTED PROBLEM. The laws of the states are in some cases hundred years old or more and most cases has to do with non Muslims.
Read more: Is Child Marriages a Muslim problem?
Edit – 5/20