A police chief was slapped down by the Government yesterday for suggesting Britain could open talks with Al Qaeda. Sir Hugh Orde, head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said he knew of no terror campaign that had not ended with negotiation. And he said his 30 years spent tackling the IRA had convinced him that security work and arrests were not enough to defeat terrorists. But his suggestion was immediately dismissed by the Foreign Office. A spokesman said: ‘It is inconceivable that Her Majesty’s Government would ever seek to reach a mutually acceptable accommodation with a terrorist organisation like Al Qaeda.’ Jonathan Powell, ex-chief of staff at Downing Street, also says the Ulster peace deal shows talking to terror groups can work. He said negotiating with Al Qaeda might seem pointless now, but a political solution would be needed in the end. Sir Hugh, a leading contender to take over from Sir Ian Blair as chief of the Metropolitan Police, said: ‘If you want my professional assessment of any terrorism campaign, what fixes it is talking and engaging and judging when the conditions are right for that to take place.’
A disgraced former Dutch MP and outspoken critic of Islam has published a children’s book, about a friendship between a Muslim boy and a Jewish girl, that she says seeks to fight prejudice in both communities. Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been living under heavy guard since the 2004 murder of Theo van Gogh, himself a provocative critic of Islam, who directed a film she wrote that accused Islam of condoning violence against women. Her new book, “Adan and Eva,” tells the story of a Moroccan boy and a rich Jewish girl living in Amsterdam. Adan takes Eva to Koranic school, while Adan gets drunk on wine served at a Jewish meal. Their families eventually decide to break up the friendship and Eva is sent to boarding school in Switzerland, while Adan is banished to Morocco. “Everything starts at school. That is where children learn about each other and learn to respect each other. We live in a world of adult prejudice,” Hirsi Ali told De Telegraaf daily. “Reconciliation starts with children.”
The UCOII, Italy’s largest Muslim group, is organizing a series of meetings in several cities in Italy in order to promote inter-religious dialogue. Meetings are planned to take place in the eastern city of Ancona, Milan, Florence, and Venice. The series is called Coexistence: A Comparison of Accounts. The Muslim faithful, believe, together with their monotheistic brethren, in a single God. We share with our Christian brothers in particular two convictions: belief in Jesus Christ and in the pureness of the Madonna,” said a statement by the UCOII.
The University and College Union (UCU) today protested to the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, against the deportation of a Nottingham University administrator caught up in a police investigation of terrorist literature. Hicham Yezza, who was working as an administrator at the university, was arrested for printing out a copy of the widely available al-Qaida training manual for his friend, Rizwaan Sabir. He was re-arrested on immigration grounds after his release from custody and is due to be deported to Algeria on June 1. Sabir, 22, was arrested and detained under the Terrorism Act for six days after downloading al-Qaida-related material for his research into terrorist tactics. His university supervisors have insisted the materials were directly relevant to his research. Sally Hunt, general secretary of UCU, said Yezza had no involvement in activity that threatened public safety and was being denied a fair trial. She said he lived in the UK for 13 years, studied for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and had been planning to take his annual trip to the Hay festival when he was arrested. Earlier the lecturers’ union conference in Manchester heard that university staff were censoring their own work because of the climate of fear on campus created by the government’s anti-terrorism agenda. Anthea Lipsett reports.
A coach at Fordson High School in Dearborn, Michigan has been dismissed from a longtime wresting coaching position after complaints that the coach’s former assistant was trying to convert Muslim students to Christianity. The assistant coach, Trey Hancock, an evangelical pastor, said that he never mixed religion with sports – the coach supported Hancock. The school’s principal, Imad Fadlallah, decided not to renew the contract of the coach due to his at-will status.
An Iranian film made in response to Geert Wilders’ film titled _Fitna,’ called _Beyond Fitna,’ has been completed and released on the internet. A spokesperson for the Iranian organization which produced the film, _Islam and Chirstendom,’ said that Beyond Fitna honors all monotheistic religions and is a response to anti-Islamic propaganda. The video is presumed to be available on several video sharing websites.
A mosque in Milan is taking an initiative to fight drug use. The mosque, in Sesto San Giovanni, together with the region’s United Nations office and the local council, is holding a seminar called Together with young people against drugs. The seminar is aimed at volunteers from local communities to take note of issues affecting young people, notably those communities with high immigration. Speakers and experts on the prevention and fight against drug use will take part in the seminar.
Spain’s King Juan Carlos and several Saudi leaders agreed that their respective governments would work together to combat terrorism. In addition, Spain will support a Saudi initiative to create an international center to fight terrorism – a plan that is currently in progress. In another agreement, the two nations also signed a motion whereby Saudi and Spanish prisoners can complete their sentences in their home countries. The move is the first of its kind for the Saudi kingdom.
While Muslims in the Netherlands are often regarded as ‘strange’ and ‘different,’ a recent study shows that imams often use their sermons to discuss values and issues which the mainstream Dutch population also believes is important. Fred Leemhuis, professor of Arabic at Groningen University, is using the research on Dutch imams for his PhD dissertation, which includes analyzation of six randomly chosen imams from different ethnic backgrounds, in addition to extensive interviewing of the imams. In a parallel study Pieter van Oudenhoven, a social psychologist, looked at important and overlapping virtues among Protestants, Catholics, and non-religious Dutch persons. In his study of imams, their virtues hardly differed from other Dutch people. Additional information and details about the research conducted by Mr. Leemhuis and van Oudenhoven can be found at the article below.
The New York Time discusses the increasing use of technology, specifically the internet, in organizing terror interest. The article follows a 48-year-old Belgian woman named Malika El Aroud, who posts on the internet under the pseudonym Oum Obeyda, who while she does not disseminate instructions on how to make bombs nor intends to take part in violence herself, post encourages and bullies Muslim men to fight. Ms. El Aroud calls herself a female holy warrior for Al Qaeda, preferring to use the power of writing rather than weapons as an internet jihadist. She, along with her husband, were convicted in Switzerland of operating pro-Qaeda web sites, but is currently a suspect In what Belgian authorities say they believe is a plot to carry out terror attacks in Belgium.