Friday, February 28, 2014

Eye on Iran: Congress Concerned Iran's Oil Exports May Be Up

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AP: "Obama administration officials faced the prospect of contentious questioning Thursday from lawmakers about reports that China and India are significantly expanding imports of Iranian petroleum... Chinese imports of Iranian crude have jumped nearly 30 percent since November compared with the previous six months, according to government data. Some reports suggest Indian imports doubled in January; U.S. officials believe the growth was far more modest. Some lawmakers are concerned. Aides to two members of Congress said their bosses planned to raise the issue at a classified briefing Thursday by the State Department's nuclear negotiator, Wendy Sherman, and the Treasury Department's sanctions chief, David Cohen. 'We obviously are watching this closely in keeping with the expectation that we have that all nations will abide by their commitments under the sanctions regime,' White House press secretary Jay Carney said. He said import levels can fluctuate month to month, and the critical test is whether they grow 'over a longer period of time.' ... Despite suggestions to the contrary, Iran's exports have remained constant since the agreement, insisted a U.S. official, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity. The official said some month-to-month fluctuations have occurred, but the long-term trajectory shows China reducing its imports of Iranian oil even amid an overall growth in its demand for fuel. Indian imports are down 40 percent since 2011, the official added. That assessment is disputed by Nat Kern of the Washington-based energy consultancy Foreign Reports. He said reported data appears to back up the claim China and India imported 1 million barrels per day by themselves last month. Add in other Asian countries and Turkey, and Iran's total oil exports already could be as much as 1.4 million barrels per day, he said, providing Tehran with a windfall of some $1.3 billion per month."

Reuters: "Asian buyers increased purchases of Iranian crude by 22 percent in January from a year ago as the grip of sanctions imposed since 2012 loosened following a landmark agreement in November to curtail Tehran's nuclear programme. The OPEC member's oil sales in January to its four biggest buyers topped the 1 million barrels per day (bpd) where Western powers wanted to hold shipments to maintain pressure on Iran to end the disputed programme. China, India, Japan and South Korea together bought an average of 1.25 million bpd last month, government and industry data showed. They bought 1.03 million bpd in January a year ago... Japan, the world's fourth-biggest oil importer, purchased 210,517 bpd from Iran last month, compared with 239,085 bpd in January a year ago, trade ministry data showed on Friday. China, Iran's largest oil client, took 564,536 bpd of the crude last month, up 82 percent from January 2013. That jump - partly linked to data distortions as companies tend to book cargoes in advance of a week-long holiday that began on Jan. 31 this year - brought China's imports back to levels before Western sanctions were applied in early 2012... India's imports from Iran more than doubled last month from December, reaching the highest since February 2012, as one state refiner returned from a three-month break as a buyer. India's oil purchase from Iran in January surged to 412,000 bpd, up from 189,100 bpd in December and 44 percent higher than a year ago, data compiled by Reuters showed."

Reuters: "Iran is willing to address international concerns about its atomic activities but will keep its nuclear program 'intact', not close it down, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday. His remarks signaled that Tehran will not agree to dismantle any of its atomic facilities in talks with six world powers on a final settlement of the decade-old dispute over its nuclear activity... Zarif, speaking to reporters during a visit to New Delhi, said he hoped a deal would be reached by the July deadline, although talks could be extended by another half year if both sides agreed. 'I am hoping by the first deadline we will reach a final deal and to start implementing it,' he said... However, he also said there was a 'problem in terms of both substance and approach', apparently referring to the other side in the talks... Zarif said Iran was 'prepared to make sure that the program is exclusively peaceful and create the necessary understanding for the West. I believe there are multiple ways of doing that and we are willing to entertain those ways.' But, he added: 'I can tell you that Iran's nuclear program will remain intact. We will not close any program.'"
Sanctions Relief

Reuters: "Iran's oil tanker fleet is gearing up for more business, with some vessels taking to the high seas after over more than a year at home ports, another sign that an easing in Western sanctions is enabling exports to begin to pick up... Ship tracking sources say in recent weeks at least three Iranian supertankers had made their first trips to Asia after months at Iranian anchorages where they were storing unsold oil. The tankers, known as Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs), can hold up to 2 million barrels of oil each. 'While all eyes will be on whether we see an extension in sanctions relief after July, Iran's fleet is more visible and active now,' one shipping industry source said... Many of Iran's oil tankers belong to the country's top operator NITC. One ship tracking source said NITC's Dal Lake tanker was making its first journey outside the Gulf to Asia in 10 months. The Halistic was also heading to China on its first voyage since December 2012, while the Nanital was on its way to Asia making its first journey since last June. Another NITC tanker, Alert, is currently in a dry dock in Oman for repairs. 'The enlarged NITC VLCC fleet will be able to go about its business without all of the subterfuge which has been apparent over the past few years. Initially, we are likely to see more VLCC cargoes heading East, freeing up the units which have formed the nucleus of the long-term Iranian floating storage fleet,' tanker broker EA Gibson said in a recent report. 'It is also likely that NITC will take the opportunity to undertake dry docking and repairs to many of the older tankers during the sanction suspension window.'"

Trend: "Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski will visit Tehran on March 1, Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on his Facebook page on Feb. 28. This is the first Polish foreign minister's visit to Iran in 10 years. On Feb. 24, ISNA news agency quoted Polish Ambassador to Iran Juliusz Jacek Gojl as saying 'Our Foreign Minister is visiting Iran to see what is happening in Iran in the new era'. During the three-day visit, the 20- strong delegation of Polish business people and traders headed by Sikorski will explore new investment opportunities in Iran and boost Tehran-Warsaw ties, he added. Sikorski will also meet with officials of the Iranian Ministry Industry, Mine and Trade. Spanish Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo also is scheduled to pay a visit to Tehran on March 1, Zarif added."

Congressional Sanctions Debate

National Journal: "Dozens of major Democratic donors are urging congressional leaders to oppose any new sanctions or legislation that could jeopardize ongoing negotiations between world powers and Iran. The letter, signed by 82 donors, the majority of them Jewish, could be a boon for President Obama's diplomatic efforts, which resulted in a controversial deal that curbed major aspects of Iran's nuclear program temporarily as negotiations to reach a permanent deal continue... The new push from Democratic donors-including Ben Cohen, formerly of Vermont-based Ben & Jerry's ice cream; Victor Kovner, a fixture in the Democratic fundraising world since the Clinton administration; and former Sierra Club Foundation President Guy Saperstein-could go a long way toward convincing Democrats that supporting their president's interim agreement with Iran is a politically tenable option. 'This is the political center of gravity of the Democratic Party telling Congress there is no political need to do what the organizations pushing hawkish actions on Iran want you to do,' a lobbyist arguing against new Iran sanctions said under condition of anonymity."

The Hill: "House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pushed back hard Thursday against those urging further sanctions on Iran, saying the lawmakers are throwing 'sand in the face' of the international negotiators working on a nuclear deal. 'It is really important for us to give diplomacy a chance, especially since it was such a long road to get to this place. And it has to be very clear to the Iranians that, if this doesn't work, we have other options which we are ready to use,' Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. 'But I don't know whose purpose it serves to throw sand in the face of the negotiators.' The comments came just hours before the Senate shot down legislation expanding veterans benefits, largely because Democratic leaders would not allow GOP amendments that included tougher sanctions on Iran."

WSJ: "Ahead of its conference, AIPAC distributed a position paper to congressional offices that demands a dismantling of virtually all of Iran's nuclear sites in order for an agreement to be reached and sanctions lifted. Mr. Netanyahu has promoted a similar line. The administration 'must hold out for an agreement under which Iran dismantles its nuclear infrastructure, including enrichment and reprocessing capabilities and the heavy water reactor and production plant,' the paper said. The Obama administration has been telling Jewish-American and Israeli leaders in recent weeks that such an absolutist position is no longer realistic. 'I would like there to be zero enrichment. I would like there to be no facilities... But that does not mean I will always get them,' Wendy Sherman, the Obama administration's chief nuclear negotiator, told Israeli journalists last week in Jerusalem. 'That is not necessarily the only path to ensuring Iran does not get a nuclear weapon.' Ms. Sherman also urged AIPAC's members not to continue lobbying for new sanctions on Iran while the diplomacy with Tehran takes place. 'We need to give this diplomacy a chance,' she said. 'I would urge AIPAC to create this space.'"

Human Rights

McClatchy: "Even as they make gestures toward rapprochement with the West, Iran's leaders remain among the world's worst human rights offenders, according to a State Department report Thursday that shows an increase in reported violations since the relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani took office last year. The State Department didn't appear to pull punches in highlighting Iran's alleged abuses even though doing so risks upsetting sensitive diplomacy surrounding nuclear negotiations and the Syrian conflict, just two areas where Washington would like Tehran's cooperation. The report documented Iran's record of floggings and court-ordered amputations, discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, crackdown on press freedoms and 624 executions - many after flimsy trials. 'We've seen little meaningful improvement in human rights in Iran under the new government, including torture, political imprisonment, harassment of religious and ethnic minorities,' said Uzra Zeya, the acting assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor. 'Overall the situation remains poor.'"

IHR: "One prisoner was hanged in the prison of Salmas (Northwestern Iran) today.  According to the Iranian State Broadcasting the prisoner who was not identified by name was convicted of trafficking 5 kilograms of opium and 600 gram of heroin, said the report."

ICHRI: "A Kurdish death row prisoner was transferred to hospital with internal bleeding after being severely beaten by agents at Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj. Loghman Moradi was due to appear at Branch 74 of Tehran Province Criminal Court on February 23. That morning agents told him to put on prison clothes in order to be transferred to court. 'Loqhman refused to wear prison clothes and said I am a political prisoner and I have the right to appear in court in regular clothes,' Eghbal Moradi told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. 'Four agents were then ordered by Mr. Mardani, Head of Rajaee Shahr Prison, to beat Loqhman with batons, sticks and their boots and took him to the court judge with a bloodied face,' Eghbal Moradi told the Campaign."

Eye on Iran is a periodic news summary from United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) a program of the American Coalition Against Nuclear Iran, Inc., a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Eye on Iran is not intended as a comprehensive media clips summary but rather a selection of media elements with discreet analysis in a PDA friendly format. For more information please email

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Demystifying Nuclear Power

Fairewinds Energy Education’s mission to demystify nuclear power. Margaret and Maggie discuss the current conditions at nuclear power plants in the US and at Fukushima Daiichi, including the harmful effects of exposure to tritium. Margaret Harrington also asks how Maggie and Arnie met while working in the nuclear industry.

“Iran is prepared for the decisive war against the U.S. and the Zionist regime”

Thanks to JihadWatch for this,,

same old shit,, different day,,

“Iran is prepared for the decisive war against the U.S. and the Zionist regime”

Feb 27, 2014 at 9:04pm Iran 15 Comments

“The Americans will know [Iran's true power] when their warships, with over 5,000 aboard, sink during a confrontation with Iran, and when they have to search the depths of the sea for their bodies.” Yes, this nuclear agreement with Iran certainly looks like Peace In Our Time has been secured. Can Obama be given another Nobel Peace Prize? He certainly deserves it as much as he did the first!
“On Iranian Revolution Day 2014, Commander of IRGC Navy Says: The Americans Will Understand When Their Warships With Over 5,000 Crew Aboard Sink To The Depths Of The Sea And They Have To Search For Their Bodies,” from MEMRI, February 27 (thanks to Pamela Geller):
On February 11, 2014, Iran celebrated Revolution Day, the 35th anniversary of the regime of the Islamic Revolution, against the backdrop of the start of permanent agreement nuclear talks between Iran and the superpowers, and of the ongoing struggle within Iran between the ideological stream led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and the pragmatic stream led by Hashemi Rafsanjani, on the issue of how Iran should deal with the U.S. Revolution Day 2014 was marked by regime officials’ harsh anti-U.S. statements and by calls for maintaining Iranian hostility towards the U.S.
In two separate speeches, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei stressed that the main enemy of the revolution was the U.S. and extolled fighting it as the revolution’s central value. He added that the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was “an even greater revolution than the first one,” that is, greater than the removal of the Shah and the seizure of power by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Khamenei also called on Iranians not to be taken in by the U.S.’s overtures, and not to trust it, because its aim – that is, to topple the revolutionary regime – remains unchanged.
As part of the Iranian regime’s dismissal of the U.S. military threat, many of this year’s Revolution Day marches and demonstrations featured signs bearing the slogan in English, “We Are Eager For The Options On The Table,” – a slogan praised by both Khamenei’s and Rafsanjani’s circles. Moreover, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) naval commander Ali Fadavi stated that the U.S. would understand Iran’s might when Iran began to sink U.S. warships, with their crews of over 5,000. At the same time, Iranian Navy Adm. Rezai Haddad announced that an Iranian flotilla was en route to the Atlantic for “a first approach of U.S. maritime borders”[1] and that this was meant to be a “message” for the U.S [2]
In his Revolution Day message, both Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan and Iranian Army chief of staff Hassan Firouzabadi stressed that Iran longs for the decisive battle with the U.S., in light of the latter’s threat to use the military option if the nuclear talks fail. In other speeches, government officials stressed that hostility towards the U.S. – “the Great Satan” – would continue even if the nuclear issue were resolved, and that Iran’s smiles at the negotiating table were merely a tactical move aimed at obtaining Iran’s nuclear rights.
Following are excerpts from Iranian government officials’ statements for Revolution Day 2014. (For photos from the demonstrations and marches, see Appendix.)
Iranian Military Officials: “The Americans Will Know [Iran's True Power] When Their Warships, With Over 5,000 Aboard, Sink During A Confrontation With Iran”; We Are Prepared With Ballistic Missiles, Swift Boats, And Mines; “The Iranian Nation Will Hand Them [The Americans] A Crushing Defeat”
In a February 11, 2014 interview with the Fars news agency, Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said: “The Defense Ministry is working to ensure that the Iranian people are armed and ready to confront any enemy threat. Yesterday’s successful test of Iranian-made ballistic missiles was also a crushing response to the nonsense of the American officials who frequently threaten Iran. It is a clear answer to their military option. The Defense Ministry and the Iranian nation are always ready [for battle], and Iran will welcome it if the Americans again put themselves to the test and face the consequences. The Americans will again be defeated, just as they were in the [1980-1988] Iran-Iraq war. If they implement their nonsense [i.e. their threats], the Iranian nation will hand them a crushing defeat.”[3]
The next day, February 12, Iranian Chief of Staff Hassan Firouzabadi told Fars: “Iran is prepared for the decisive war against the U.S. and the Zionist regime.” He added, “Iran has been making plans, conducting maneuvers, and preparing its forces for this battle for years now.”[4]
Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) naval commander Ali Fadavi threatened that in battles at sea, his forces would sink American warships: “The Americans can spot swift boats, sea mines, and anti-ship missiles but they cannot grasp axioms such as… ‘God, the Islamic Revolution, and the Supreme Leader [Khamenei].’ On the chest of the IRGC is the [Koran] verse that clearly says that the use of measures against the infidels and the enemies must be promoted. The Americans notice only some of our capabilities; only on the battlefield will they fully internalize the bulk of our capabilities. The Americans will know [Iran's true power] when their warships, with over 5,000 aboard, sink during a confrontation with Iran, and when they have to search the depths of the sea for their bodies.”[5]…
There is much more. Read it all.

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Britain: Islamists Create Climate of Fear to Curb Free Speech

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Britain: Islamists Create Climate of Fear to Curb Free Speech

by Soeren Kern
February 28, 2014 at 5:00 am
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"My intention was to carve out a space to be heard without constantly fearing the blasphemy charge, on pain of death." — Maajid Nawaz, Liberal Democratic Party candidate for Britain's Parliament.
"The media's vaunted concern for minority welfare is at direct odds with its indifference to the minority within Islam that is trying to reform its orthodoxy's disgraceful attitude to blasphemy—a minority that is gravely endangered and in need of friends." — Abhishek Phadnis, free speech activist, London School of Economics.
Muslim fundamentalists in London have threatened to behead a fellow British Muslim after he posted an innocuous image of Mohammed and Jesus on his Twitter account.
The death threats against Maajid Nawaz, a Liberal Democrat Party candidate for British Parliament, add to a growing number of cases in which Islamists are using intimidation tactics to restrict the free speech rights of fellow Muslims in Europe. (Efforts to silence non-Muslims are well documented.)
Nawaz—a former member of the Islamist revolutionary group Hizb ut-Tahrir and co-founder of the Quilliam Foundation, a London-based counter-extremism think-tank—on January 12 posted on Twitter a cartoon of Mohammed and Jesus greeting one another ("Hey" and "How ya doin'?") with the caption: "This Jesus & Mo @JandMo cartoon is not offensive&I'm sure God is greater than to feel threatened by it الله أكبر منه".
Nawaz's tweet followed a BBC Big Questions program in which the "Jesus and Mo" cartoons, which have been around since 2005, were discussed and Nawaz was included as a studio guest.
Nawaz, who is also author of the book "Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism," said he posted the image to trigger a debate among Muslims about what should and should not be acceptable within Islam.
Not in the mood for debate, furious Muslims responded by bullying and issuing threats of violence—including beheading—and also launched a petition (it quickly garnered more than 20,000 signatures) to have Nawaz deselected as a candidate for parliament.
Labour Party Councilor Yaqub Hanif of Luton, a town situated 50 km (30 miles) north of London and known as the Islamic extremist capital of Britain, said the depictions of Mohammed were "totally unacceptable" to Muslims and called on Nawaz to step down.
"It's appalling that this guy is a parliamentary candidate because this behavior is not conducive to being an MP," Hanif said in an interview with the International Business Times. "If you want to be an MP then you must respect all faiths. He's not doing that."
A counter-petition has now been set up (it has only 8,000 signatures) calling on the Liberal Democrats to give Nawaz their full support. The petition states:
"Islamists and political opponents have mounted a campaign against Maajid Nawaz, resulting in numerous threats to his life. We note that this campaign, rather than being based on legitimate concerns of Muslims, is a political campaign which is being spear-headed by a group of Muslim reactionaries with a track record of promoting extremism. They are seeking to use Muslim communities in order to whip up hatred against a liberal and secular Muslims. We are concerned that this campaign will also be used by anti-Muslim extremists as evidence of Muslim intolerance and incompatibility with liberal values which could, in turn, fuel anti-Muslim bigotry."
The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, has expressed his support for Nawaz. "We simply cannot tolerate anyone in a free country—where we have to protect free speech, even if that free speech might cause offense to others—being subject to death threats and them and their family being put under extraordinary pressure to recant what they said," Clegg said.
Muslims eventually retaliated by rescinding the Quilliam Foundation's nomination for the annual British Muslim Awards, held in Manchester on January 30. Quilliam had been listed in the "Spirit of Britain" award category, but a statement on the awards' Facebook page reads: "In light of recent activity, the British Muslim Awards, after careful consideration, have come to the decision that it can no longer promote the Quilliam Foundation as a finalist, and thus its nomination has been removed with immediate effect."
More worrisome for the principle of free speech is that British mainstream media have censored reporting of the Jesus & Mo cartoon controversy.
For example, Channel 4 News blacked out a cartoon image of the Prophet Mohammed during a news broadcast on January 28 in order not to cause offense to Muslim viewers. In an open letter to the editor of Channel 4, the National Secular Society wrote that by "making this decision you have effectively taken a side in a debate where a Muslim man has suffered violent death threats after he explicitly said he did not find the cartoons offensive. You have taken the side of the reactionaries—the side of people who bully and violently threaten Muslims, such as Mr. Nawaz, online."
"By redacting the picture of 'Mo,' you have contributed to a climate of censorship brought on by the unreasonable and reactionary views of some religious extremists. Rather than defending free expression, one of the most precious pillars of our liberal democratic society, you have chosen instead to listen to extremists and patronize British Muslims by assuming they will take offense at an irreverent and satirical cartoon. By taking the decision you did, not only did you betray the fundamental journalistic principle of free speech, but you have become complicit in a trend that seeks to insidiously stereotype all Muslim people as reacting in one uniform way (generally presented as overly sensitive and potentially violent)."
Channel 4 News blacked out a cartoon image of the Prophet Mohammed during a news broadcast on January 28.
In an article entitled, "Why I'm speaking up for Islam against the loudmouths who have hijacked it" (published by The Guardian newspaper on January 28), Nawaz defended his decision to tweet the image of Jesus and Mo.
"My intention was to carve out a space to be heard without constantly fearing the blasphemy charge, on pain of death," Nawaz wrote. "Modern Islamist attempts to impose theocratic orthodoxy on us will be resisted."
Others are not so sure. In an essay entitled, "Publish and be Damned," Abhishek Phadnis, a free speech activist at the London School of Economics, writes:
"The media's vaunted concern for minority welfare is at odds with its indifference to the minority within Islam that is trying to reform its orthodoxy's disgraceful attitude to blasphemy—a minority that is gravely endangered and in need of friends. Theirs is a spirited rear-guard against a gigantic global power of untold wealth and influence (namely Islamism, or the "loudmouths who have hijacked" Islam, as Maajid Nawaz puts it) which has a wretched record on freedom of expression, and every intention of exporting it."
"Since 1988, it has suborned the murder of foreign cartoonists, translators, artists, publishers and filmmakers who have offended its sensibilities, and has blighted the life and career of our most gifted contemporary novelist [Salman Rushdie]. Its blasphemy code has been visited upon Western universities, publishers, magazines, museums, art galleries, television productions, operas, independent cartoonists, artists and filmmakers and even Wikipedia, and it has sought to sabotage the economies and wreck the diplomatic missions of democracies that refuse to implement that code."
"It is a damning indictment of the press's confusion that every publication has ended up on the wrong side of its own politics in this matter," Phadnis concludes.
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.
Related Topics:  United Kingdom  |  Soeren Kern

Iran: Death Sentence for Two Kurdish Political Prisoners Confirmed

by Shabnam Assadollahi
February 28, 2014 at 4:30 am
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Families of two Kurdish political prisoners, Ali and Habib Afshari said their death sentence has been confirmed. Their brother, Rashid Afshari, said: "My sister visited them on 15 February and was informed about the fact."
(Image source: Freedom Messenger)
According to published news, Habib and Ali Afshari were sentenced to death two years ago on the charge of "membership in a Kurdish party." Their two other brothers, Jafar and Vali Afshari, were sentenced to five years in prison on the charge of "acting against national security" and, according to Rashid Afshari, bail of 5 billion rials (about $172,500) to be paid for each to be released.
They are currently being housed at Orumieh Central Prison. According to Rashid Afshari, the family is not able to provide the bail.
As reported by Freedom Messenger.
Related Topics:  Iran  |  Shabnam Assadollahi

The Taste of Integration

by Denis MacEoin
February 28, 2014 at 3:00 am
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In the city of Bradford, the local Reform synagogue was about to close its doors when members of a nearby mosque and some Muslim businessmen stepped in with money and advice -- and the synagogue has been saved. The two sides have started what they hope will become a tradition.
Although immigration can be of great benefit to societies, when it goes wrong -- such as illegal immigration, or when incomers cannot find work, or when new citizens refuse to adapt to the societies they enter -- the benefits are eroded and the native population starts to resent the people it had originally invited to join them.
The United States seems to have done a good job on integrating its immigrants, to the point where its many groups have made such wonderful contributions to life in their new country that it is hard to see what America would be without them. Although, as Moynihan and Glazer revealed in Beyond the Melting Pot, the pot never completely melts, the Poles have learned to speak English; they pledge allegiance to the flag and they serve -- and die -- in the military. But they still eat pierogi, attend mass in a Polish church, play Polish music (however corrupted) and preserve memories of their grandmothers and grandfathers. To them, the future is American, and tastes of pierogi, kiełbasa, and hamburgers.
The situation in Europe, particularly here the United Kingdom, is not so rosy. We have a largely positive history of deserving migrants wending their way to our shores. Huguenots, Jews, Hong Kong Chinese and others have all contributed well to these islands -- although the Jews have often been treated badly in return. During and after the Holocaust, Britain let very few Jewish refugees from Germany and Eastern Europe enter the country; blocked many thousands from travelling to Mandatory Palestine, and put many more thousands on Cyprus, where they lived under harsh conditions, hemmed in by barbed wire in detention camps.
Thirty years ago and more, Britain started to bring in immigrants from what had been its wide-flung empire, the greatest the world had known (except at one time, the Portuguese empire or the Ottoman). The French did much the same (mainly with North Africans) and the Portuguese, chiefly from the 1990s.
In Britain, most immigrants came from former colonies and related territories such as India (including Pakistan and Bangladesh), Hong Kong, and Africa. More recently, large numbers of both legal and illegal immigrants have come from eastern Europe.
There is a challenge in all this -- integration -- and so far Britain is not handling it well. There have been some, but it is still rare to see a couple of mixed race walking through my local shopping center. Groups of Africans stay together, groups of Chinese, and groups of Pakistanis, Arabs and others seem to do the same. It is common to hear any language but English spoken on the street or in a café, and in one café I go to, Arabs sit at the tables at the front, quite separate from everyone else. To make things worse, most official publications, leaflets for the health service, and other sources of information are published in a dozen or more languages, making it easier for immigrants to avoid learning English. In Iran, I had to cope with the reality that everything was written in Farsi, which I could read.
One community that stands out for what seems a reluctance (and sometimes refusal) to integrate is that of British Muslims, who now number some two million. By 2030, nearly one in ten Britons will be Muslim.[1] They have a strong presence in some cities and towns and cities: 24.7% in the northern mill town of Bradford, 18.6% in Leicester, 24.6% in Luton, 15.8% in Manchester (a major conurbation), 23.6% in Slough. In the London borough of Tower Hamlets (where the notorious East London Mosque is situated), they form 36.4% of the population and are the largest minority group as well as the largest proportion of Muslims in the UK.[2]
Some Muslims do their best to integrate. Others do not. A particularly large obstacle to integration seems to be a doctrine known as al-wala' wa'l-bara,' which roughly translates into "Love and Enmity." According to this, a true Muslim is expected to avoid becoming friendly with non-Muslims and adopting non-Islamic practices [Qur'an, al-Ma'ida 5:51; al-Mumtahina 60:1-9, 13] -- so, no celebrating Christmas with your Christian friends or Chanukah with Jews; no sending your boss a birthday card; no visiting churches or synagogues; no attending Holocaust Memorial Day events, and so on. In 2008, the well-known British Islamic extremist Anjem Choudary stated: "Every Muslim has a responsibility to protect his family from the misguidance of Christmas, because its observance will lead to hellfire. Protect your Paradise from being taken away – protect yourself and your family from Christmas."
Sometimes this pressure to divorce oneself from one's fellow citizens can, with radical Muslims, take on a more dramatic form: in 2010, for instance, British soldiers who had returned from Afghanistan, parading through their home town of Barking, were greeted by a mob of Muslim extremists hurling insults. The clashes came little over a year after Muslim extremists screamed "baby killers" and "rapists" at soldiers from 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment, who were marching through Luton after a tour of duty in Iraq. The Muslim contingent also spat. Everyone who was there to cheer the parade is likely to have been deeply alienated by this insult to the courage of their soldiers.
Last year brought us several other incidents involving Muslim extremists. In Tower Hamlets, with its dense Muslim population, a number of individuals set up a "Muslim Patrol;" they put posters on walls declaring a ban on alcohol, drugs, immodestly-dressed women and apparently anything else considered non-Islamic. Later, they accosted citizens for their immodest dress or for carrying alcohol, and threatened to kill anyone who broke shari'a law. More seriously, two converts attacked and beheaded a British soldier, Lee Rigby, in Woolwich in London. The men have now been tried and sentenced to life in prison. Their attack was seen by several witnesses and filmed, yet they maintained in their trial that they were not guilty, because, "as Jeremiah Adebolajo claimed, his brother Michael had sought to 'please Allah by fighting in his cause.'"[3]
These are, of course, extremists, and their actions are far from typical of moderate or liberal Muslim opinion or activity. But these individuals do much to alienate non-Muslims everywhere. A more regular demonstration of Muslim separateness can be seen any day of the week in any British town, where there are growing numbers of Muslim women wearing some form of hijab, or headscarf, in public. A small but noticeable group wear the niqab, the veil that covers everything but the eyes. All ages participate in this, but while it is not surprising to see middle-aged and elderly women clinging to the traditions of their upbringing, the practice owes its current growth to young women and teenagers, including well-educated students and graduates. For some it is a symbol of resistance to Western influence, and serves to keep them on the outside. I have lost count of the number of young Muslim women, often startlingly beautiful, wearing tight jeans or short skirts and stockings, in fashionable Western clothes, with expensive designer shoes, yet wearing large, colorful hijabs around faces glowing with skillfully applied make-up. Why do so many Muslim girls dress that way while sporting what is surely a religious garb? Is there pressure from family or friends? Are they only partly Westernized? Do they wish, deep down, to remain apart?
Wearing the hijab or the niqab or any other form of headcovering is not legislated in the Qur'an, the Hadith, or any other scriptural source. The determination to enforce it -- and to call any woman who does not cover up a "prostitute" -- has deep roots in Arab and other Muslim societies, yet there have been a few reform movements that have challenged it. In the mid-nineteenth century, the Babi poetess and scholar Qurrat al-'Ayn taught men, but she did not wear a veil. She was executed as a heretic in Tehran in 1852. Her religious successors abandoned the veil, but to do so they had to pass outside Islam.
If I were young and unmarried I might fall in love with a Christian, Jewish or Hindu woman and hope to marry her. But A Muslim woman may not marry anyone but a Muslim man. This is not a cultural decision, it is shari'a law. While Muslim men often marry Western women (and usually ask them to convert), Muslim women are off limits to Western men. And that reduces yet again any chance of integration -- and is possibly the leading reason the law was established in the first place.
The answer, it would seem, despite the many barriers, is still integration; and here is why. In the city of Bradford, a rather grim northern town with a very high Muslim population, the last remaining synagogue faced closure in December 2012. The congregation of the Bradford Reform Synagogue, like many others, had dropped to 45; between them, they could not pay for the repair work needed to keep the synagogue up during the coming years. The town's only remaining Orthodox synagogue had just closed its doors a month before that. Members of a nearby mosque and some Muslim businessmen stepped in with money and advice -- and the synagogue has been saved.
The Bradford Reform Synagogue, which was saved from closing with the help of local Muslims. (Image source: Alex McGregor/Geograph)
The two sides have started what they hope will become a tradition: the Jewish community invites Christians and Muslims to an oneg Shabbat Friday night evening, while Muslims invite the others for a Ramadan feast, and the Christians include Muslims and Jews during the harvest festival. Clearly, for some the antagonism created by al-wala' wa'l-bara' is breaking down. Some Muslims are becoming integrated in a way we have seen in the United States. That too could be the future; it would taste of gefilte fish, medjool dates, and — if they are all lucky — Christmas pudding, maybe even with brandy cream, for the just the Christians and Jews.
Dr. Denis MacEoin, a Distinguished Senior fellow at Gatestone Institute, was previously a board member of the original UK Centre for Social Cohesion.

[1] Steve Doughty, 'Number of British Muslims will double to 5.5m in 20 years', Daily Mail, 28 January 2011. [2] Tower Hamlets Council, 'Public Sector Equality Duty — Our Population'. [3] Vikram Dodd, 'Jeremiah Adebolajo claimed his brother Michael had sought to "please Allah by fighting in his cause"', The Guardian, 20 December 2013.
Related Topics:  United Kingdom  |  Denis MacEoin

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