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Archive for August 31st, 2007

Nice matters Award

Well, this has been a total surprise. I didn’t even know there was such a prize 😉 My friend Velvet Hammer from Ironic Surrealism has given me this award.

I don’t know if this blog is “of nice matters” but, even if it has been so hard at times writing it because of the stories one has to read ( 😡 ), altogether it has been (and still is) a magnificent experience, mostly because of the readers and the friends I have done writing it. And that certainly has been a “nice matter”.

I have to give it to another 7 lady-bloggers (sorry lords, no award for you, unless you want some pink and laces award… :mrgreen: ). It has been really difficult as there are so many great women bloggers around. NOTE: inactive blogs have been discarded for obvious reasons…

Kate: A Colombo-Americana’s perspective.

Incognito: Confessions of a closet republican.
Always on Watch: Always on Watch.

Stefania: Free Thoughts.

Fausta: Fausta’s blog.

Vicki: Not Ready for My Burqa.

Beth: Blue Star Chronicles.

Happy Award for all!

😳 I was forgetting. Each of you would have to name another 7 women bloggers for the award.

(Yes, I hate memes, but this was soooo cute…. :mrgreen: ).

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Some weeks ago, I blogged about Oliver Stone’s new film project about Ahmadinejad’s life. At first, he was rejected considering him a part of the Great Satan. Well, Ahmadenijad has thought about it and has finally given his approval to make the film:

Fars News just reported that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has given Oliver Stone approval to film his biography:

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expressed his approval of acclaimed director Oliver Stone’s plans to make a film about him.

“I have no objection, generally speaking, but they have to let me know what are the frameworks. They should talk to my colleagues. Principally speaking, I have no objection,” President Ahmadinejad told reporters during a press conference here in Tehran on Tuesday.

This was probably the kicker that pushed Mahmoud over the top:

“Stone’s publicist referred to the bad image that the U.S. media has given to Islam and Islamic countries and said that the documentary could assist in countering such negative propaganda.

😯

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Some news about peaceful and respectful Muslims:

  1. English speaking Muslims living in America stomp on the American flag, state that they are taking advantage of the “loophole” in American law that gives them free speech, and proclaim that Islam will take over America and the world, and dribble out a multitude of Allah akbars ….
  2. Editor-in-chief Of UK-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi: ‘I’ll Dance in Trafalgar Square When Iran Nukes Israel’.

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The EU, just wasting money in useful things:

Officials of the European Union are investigating the special tax treatment accorded to the Catholic Church in Italy, asking whether the policies give unfair competitive advantages to Catholic institutions that engage in commercial activity.
The ANSA news service reports that the European Commission is considering a full inquiry into a 2006 law that exempts Church property for real-estate taxes, and allows a substantial discount for corporate taxes owed by Church-owned businesses.
Bishop Giuseppe Betori, the vice-president of the Italian bishops’ conference, has argued that the tax exemptions are amply justified, since they apply only to Church organizations that engage in charitable, cultural, or educational work. Bishop Betori observed, in an interview with the daily Avvenire, that similar tax breaks are given to other Italian institutions that “serve the common good.”

Later they will raise the VAT tax and say “Ohh, we don’t have enough”.

I do not want the Church to have special treatment -in fact, I support the Church should be treated the same way as the rest of the religious institutions-. But that means the same way, equally to the rest of similar organizations.

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One of the best islamologues the Catholic Church has is Father Samir Khalil Samir, sj (here in Spanish some interviews; in the latter he says: Europe is stupid if it does not take into account that Islam is using its tolerance to “Islamize” it). He is an Egyptian Jesuit and teacher of History of Arab Culture and of Islamology both in Beirut and Rome. He has written recently two very interesting articles for AsiaNews.it about an extraordinary case which is happening just now:

The case of Mohammad Hegazi, young Egyptian converted to Christianity, who wishes to be legally recognized as such, has opened a new debate in the Islamic world on conversions, which are often seen as acts of apostasy that merit death. What has emerged is a veritable obsession in Islam for personal conversions, this religion having been reduced more to an ethnic and sociological submission. There is even talk of a plan to convert Europe and the world to Islam, to which European governments are giving a hand.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – The case has received a lot of public attention: a young Egyptian, Mohammad Ahmad Hegazi, age 25, converted to Christianity some years ago (some say 9, others 6 years ago; according to the Islamic version, it was just a few months ago!). He then married a woman named Zeinab, who also became Christian, taking the name Cristina. In recent months, he asked that his documents show his new religious affiliation. In Egypt, identity cards must indicate the holder’s religion and, so far, Hegazi’s is officially Islam. This means that he is considered to be Muslim for various legal questions pertaining to inheritance rights, family law etc.

His request was effectively been turned down by administrative authorities, who did not see his request through. So, Hegazi went to the government direct.Why did he ask for this change to be made only now, years after his conversion? Perhaps because the couple is expecting a baby. And if they are registered as Muslims, the child will have to be as well, regardless of the parents’ wishes.

When administrative authorities balked at his request, Hegazi went to the courts to claim his rights, with the help of a lawyer from an NGO.The case is extremely important, more than it may appear, also because it has been reported by media around the world and now the press in Egypt is also discussing it.Initially, reactions came from imams, then from the general public. The vast majority is saying that Mohammad Hegazi must be killed as an apostate. Only a small part dares to quote the Koran – which states that “there is no compulsion in religion” – and states its support for his freedom.

[…] The Islamic world is truly obsessed with conversions. At least 7 Islamic countries apply the death penalty to those who convert from Islam: Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Mauritania. But in other states, like Egypt, converts are condemned to prison, not as apostates but for contempt of Islam, as Hossam Bahgat, a member of the Egyptian Initiative for personal rights, explains.

According to government daily Al-Massa’, all imams are unanimous on the need to kill the apostate Hegazi. They say that sharia (not the Koran) must be enforced and it calls for the death penalty.The more moderate say: if the apostate hides his conversion, does not broadcast his decision, then it is not necessary to kill him; he can live. If he lets it be known, then he causes scandal (fitna) and must die.

I happened to be looking through the web-site of the “Forum of Arab Aviation.” This case – Hegazi’s conversion — is the sole topic of the site’s “Islamic” section. There are 8 reactions registered on the page and they all say that he must be killed. Some are subtle, saying for example: “The government must take the harshest decision to eliminate this problem,” but all the others quote the Koran: “Fitna is worse than killing” (2,191 and 2,217); others say that “Islam is the better religion”; others still “Kill him to avoid fitna” (8,39); others: “He who wants a religion other than Islam, his worship will not be accepted and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers” (3,85). No one quotes the Koranic phrase that affirms freedom of conscience, the one quoted by the Pope at Regensburg last September 12: “there is no compulsion in religion (2, 186); nor the other that says: “Truth comes from your Lord. Let him who will believe and let him who will not believe” (18,29).

[…] In any case, 3 famous imam have pronounced themselves against Hegazi. The first is Imam Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a big expert in his field, who cites dozens of references from the first centuries and concludes that Hegazi has to be killed because the group is in danger and the group takes priority over the individual. The idea is: if this person begins to speak and says that he is happy to be Christian, and smilingly appears in photos with a Gospel in his hands, this is intolerable and is non-Muslim propaganda, which is officially allowed neither in Egypt, nor in other Islamic countries. And since Hegazi is spreading Christian propaganda, he must be killed.

Suad Saleh, Muslim judge and dean of the Faculty of Islamic Science at Al-Azhar University, has stated: yes, in matters of faith there is no compulsion, but Hegazi is spreading propaganda and thus the law must be applied. The judge advises that the apostate be given 3 days to repent and reconvert to Islam (istitâbah), then “apply the law” (i.e. execution).

The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Dr Ali Gomaa, Egypt’s highest religious authority, stated to the Washington Post last June that apostasy “should not” be punished by death, eliciting numerous reactions from Al-Azhar. After many people expressed their approval for a death sentence, he retracted in a confused matter and his stance is still today unclear. On the surface, he wanted to reassure the West by using ambiguous wording, like the one that goes: “Apostasy is to be punished when it represents fitna or when it threatens the foundations of society.”

[…] Islam protects itself against conversions by putting apostates in prison or by killing them. But its obsession with conversion includes a series of privileges it claims for itself. So much so that in many Muslim countries, even those that are supposedly secular, the right to promote the Islamic faith is taken for granted and is not enshrined in law. Conversely, the right to promote any other religion is considered de facto and de jure unacceptable.

Islamic propaganda is part of the state’s mandate. In Egypt for example public institutions disseminate songs, prayers, movies and written material that praise Islam and denigrate Christianity. Inevitably this favours conversions to Islam. By contrast, Christian propaganda (tabshīr) is banned by law.

Recently in Algeria, a new law was approved that condemns anyone promoting the Christian faith and anyone who converts to Christianity. Of course, some might say that this kind of law is directed only at Protestant proselytising. True! But Muslims proselytise as well? Should the law not be the same for everyone?

Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly the country where double standards in matter of religion are the most glaring. One example: Saudi Arab Airlines’ website explicitly warns its passengers that Bibles, crucifixes, and any other non-Muslim religious symbol are prohibited on board. If any are found they are confiscated. Another example is when two pieces of wood happen to end up across one another. However inadvertently that may have come about, the resulting cross becomes ipso facto a religious symbol and police are known to have ordered people who happened to be nearby to step on them.

Anti-Christian propaganda is also found in how words are used. In Arabic Christians are called Massihi. In Arabia they are also called Salībi, crusaders, and Nasrami, Nazarenes. Interestingly, at the time of the Crusades Christians were by and large referred to as Faranj or Franks. But the most commonly used word today is kuffar, unbelievers who must be killed. For the past 30 or so years, its use has increasingly spread around the Muslim world.

Read both of them. They are truly interesting.

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Also some months ago I blogged about the Government Regulation related to Electronic Communications, by which there was “introduced an administrative procedure to intercept electronic communications without Judicial control“, regulation which was declared illegal by the Supreme Tribunal. Well, afterwards, it came the SGAE (General Society of Authors and Writers) with another foolish proposition:

If a web page is reproducing intellectual works which could go against author’s rights, the SGAE or any other similar association will be able to tell the server where the blog/page is located to inform that the blog’s author is breaking the law. The client will be obliged to defend him before the SGAE of the illegality in the next 6 days if he does not want to see his blog’s content down or closed. Even if the communication is absolutely ridiculous or unmaintainable, it obliges the normal blogger/website’s author to defend himself to regain access to the presumably illicit content”.

Well, it results that the same article that was introduced in the Government Regulation related to electronic Communications, has been introduced in the new project of the Law of the Internet’s Society:

According to the present project, the “competent authority” can shut down webpages without any kind of judicial authorization. The “competent authority” would be those associations who “guard” the rights of intellectual property (SGAE and similars) and, of course, every authority. It is true that after the shutdown, there would be a judicial process. But letting the power to control and possible webs’ shutdown to a “competent authority” is just the same that letting the police not to report to the Tribunals. That is, the kick-to-knock-down-the-door, but this time, digitally way.

The time to present modifications to the law ends on Sept, 4th. It is widely hoped that Popular Party presents some modifications that guarantee the effective right to information.But that is not very clear, because the Popular Party first succeeded in passing a resolution on Senate against the digital canon, but later it voted favorable the Law of Intellectual Property that regulated it (not very coherent, no 😡 ). “There are unanimities which are fearful”, the Web-surfers’ Association’s speaker states. They have already presented a proposal to modify the law.

So, if no one does anything, we could see how the digital kick-to-knock-down-the-door could be consolidated again. A new step in the strategy of reducing (that is, really, of eliminating) the freedom of information.


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China, the environment and birth control:

China says its one-child policy has helped the fight against global warming by avoiding 300 million births, the equivalent of the population of the United States.

But delegates at U.N. climate change talks in Vienna said on Thursday birth control is unlikely to find favor as a major policy theme, partly because of opposition by the Catholic Church and some developing nations trying to increase their population.

Some scientists say that birth control measures far less draconian than China’s are wrongly overlooked in the fight against climate change, when the world population is projected to soar to about 9 billion by 2050 from 6.6 billion now.

So, why don’t we all just commit suicide to prevent any harrassment on the environment? 😯

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A quick note on Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto announced some days ago that Pervez Mussharraf was going to step down as head of his country’s military. But today Mussharraf has already denied that. The situation has complicated even more as his rival, Sharif, has been allowed to return to Pakistan. Musharraf has stated already that he seeks reconciliation. Let’s hope that, but I’m not very optimistic in the matter, after all we have witnessed in Pakistan these last months.

Related news: Pakistan has successfully test-fired a new cruise missile capable of carrying nuclear weapons, its military said.

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Beth has posted about the Florida Masochist going to be operated of melanoma (after 12 years of being clean) and about Kat from Madhouse Cat,who has lost in a single day, one cousin and her daughters as a result of a car crash.

Also a friend of mine has lost his wife rather unexpectedly of cancer. On the first week of August, when they had already begun their vacations, she felt bad and went to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with a sudden and fast growing cancer, a week ago she died. He works at my University’s library. I remember him when I began University: he was all smiles, a really helpful guy with all of us who were back then so overwhelmed if we did not find the required book. He was always a patient guy. These days, when I go to find some books there, he is just older but the same. I know the bad times he is going to have now, as they really loved each other. They have an only daughter, aged 19. 😥

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