Homophobic Roman Catholic bishops’ backlash


This 2008 satiric video is called Headzup: Pope Benedict And The Crime Of Being Gay.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Vatican backtracks on gay tolerance comments after angry reaction from bishops

Vatican claims report is a ‘working document’ – not Church doctrine

Heather Saul

Wednesday 15 October 2014

The Vatican appears to have backtracked on their unprecedented positive comments on homosexuality after a furious reaction from conservative Catholics.

On Monday, Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo read out an interim report at the Synod’s General Congregation that declared homosexuals had “gifts and qualities to offer” and even raised the prospect of the Catholic Church recognising the positive aspects of same-sex relationships.

The church, it added, must welcome divorced people and recognise the “positive” aspects of civil marriages and even Catholics who live together without being married.

The document was described as an “earthquake” in the Church’s attitude towards gays and heralded as a “turning point” in policy by Vatican experts.

But on Tuesday, conservative bishops distanced themselves from the document’s remarkable opening toward gays and divorced Catholics, calling it an “unacceptable” deviation from church teaching that does not reflect their views.

The leaders of the bishops’ meeting that produced it have now said it was simply a “working document” and was not intended to be an official statement of church teaching on family life.

Instead, they said it was a reflection of bishops’ views that will be debated and amended before a final version is released on Saturday.

The Holy See press office said bishops had “appreciated” the document but some offered additional reflections “to bring together various points of view.”

‘The bishops called for “prudence” over same-sex relationships so that “the impression of a positive evaluation of such a tendency on the part of the church is not created”.

“The same care was advised with regard to cohabitation,” the Vatican said.

Bishops also suggested the final document highlight faithful Catholic families to avoid “a near-exclusive focus on imperfect family situations”.

“The report, obviously composed under pressure, has easily given rise to some misinterpretation,” British Cardinal Vincent Nichols said Tuesday.

“It is not a doctrinal or decisive document. It is, as stated in its conclusion, ‘intended to raise questions and indicate perspectives that will have to be matured and made clearer on reflection.”‘

Several conservatives who participated in the synod also immediately distanced themselves from the report. The head of the Polish bishops‘ conference, Cardinal Stanislaw Gadecki, called it “unacceptable” and a deviation from church teaching.

American Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s Supreme Court, told Catholic World Report that the document contained positions “which many synod Fathers do not accept and, I would say, as faithful shepherds of the flock cannot accept.”

Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, from novel to religion


This video is called Lord of the Rings- The two towers, Battle of the Hornburg Part 1 HD.

Translated from Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Markus Altena Davidsen’s thesis is the first major work on the Tolkien religion. In it he examines the religion that is based on the stories of British fantasy writer JRR Tolkien. He also explains how fiction can become religion. Davidsen will get his PhD on 16 October. …

The second characteristic of religious fiction texts is that they explicitly claim to be truthful. The texts have to say about themselves that they are about the real world, or at least question their own fictionality. Tolkien did that in the preface to the first edition of The Lord of the Rings. He said he hoped that the Hobbits who are still alive today in our world will like the book. Later he much regretted this, possibly because he thought that being a very strict Roman Catholic, he should not have committed that frivolity. But for many Tolkien religious believers that does not matter at all.

From the summary of the PhD dissertation by Markus Altena Davidsen:

The Spiritual Tolkien Milieu: A Study of Fiction‐based Religion

This book offers a comprehensive analysis of the history, social organisation, and belief dynamics of the spiritual Tolkien milieu, a largely online‐situated network of individuals and groups that draw on J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary mythology for spiritual inspiration.

It is the first academic treatment of Tolkien spirituality and one of the first monographs on fiction‐based religion, a type of religion that uses fiction as authoritative texts.

Other fiction‐based religions include Jediism (based on George Lucas’ Star Wars) and the Church of All Worlds (inspired by Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land).

The first religious practices inspired by Tolkien’s narratives appeared in the late 1960s after the publication of a paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings in 1965.

Australian ‘ISIS terrorist sword’ really Shiite plastic ‘sword’


This video from Australia says about itself:

Tony Abbott‘s New Terror Laws

The Abbott government has proposed drastic changes to Australia’s current anti-terrorism laws. These laws, if enacted, will have massive ramifcations on the rights of all Australians, especially targating Islamic communities.

A community forum was held to address these concerns, and to organise a fightback against the amendments being passed into law.

Speakers on the night:

Adam Bandt MP, Greens Deputy Leader and Federal Member for Melbourne
Professor Jude McCulloch, Criminology, Monash University
Ghaith Krayem, Secretary, Islamic Council of Victoria
Colin Jacobs, Electronic Frontiers Australia
Rob Stary, Civil Rights Lawyer

The night was organised by Adam Bandt, who co hosted the event with Ellen Sandell, Greens candidate for the state seat of Melbourne.

Members of the audience were invited to make to make comments and ask questions of the speakers.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Elizabeth St, Melbourne.

*Technical Issue: Due to a camera malfunction, the first thirty three minutes of the video is slightly out of focus.

By James Cogan in Australia:

“Terrorist” sword seized in Australian police raids is plastic

13 October 2014

The Fairfax press revealed last week that the inscribed Arabic sword seized during unprecedented police raids on September 18—and portrayed by the media as the weapon that would be used in an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired plot to kidnap a random person and behead them in the street—was actually a plastic ornament. Moreover, it is a plastic Shiite ornament. Its inscription pays homage to the first Imam, Ali, who is considered by the Sunni Wahhabist extremists who make up ISIS as an apostate to Islam.

The revelation adds to the numerous, disturbing questions about the raids on 15 homes in five Sydney suburbs, which was the largest anti-terrorism operation ever carried out in Australia and involved some 800 state police, federal police and Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) agents.

Police armed with military assault rifles and supported by armoured vehicles cordoned off entire neighbourhoods. People were ordered to lie on the ground as their homes were ransacked. Fifteen people were arrested and hauled off to police stations for interrogation. Video footage and photographs of some of the detainees were published by the police on Twitter and the official police media site and then re-published by every television and print outlet.

The media went into a frenzy, recounting sensational information they received from “unnamed” sources. However, it was the photo of the sword, being carried by police officers in a transparent evidence bag, which provoked some of the most lurid assertions. The Daily Mail breathlessly headlined its report: “Was this the lethal sword terror cell planned to use to behead an innocent victim on a Sydney street?”

From the beginning, there were glaring discrepancies between the initial police statements and the claims that an imminent terrorist attack had been thwarted. A press release issued shortly after the raids stated that the police had “no information regarding a specific attack, including dates, time or location.” However, by the end of the day, 22-year-old Omarjan Azari had been named as a “terrorist.” The media was full of reports that he had taken a phone call from an Australian ISIS member in Syria in which he had been instructed to film the beheading of someone and post it on YouTube. Press coverage dwelt at length on the police seizure of an unspecified weapon from one home, and the ominous photo of the sword.

The government and the police subsequently made no attempt to explain that the sword was plastic and thus allowed the idea to circulate that Muslim fanatics had been on the verge of beheading someone. It has directly contributed to a hysterical and xenophobic atmosphere and the abuse and assault of Muslims, especially veiled women, by racist elements. …

As for the owner of the plastic sword, he is 21-year-old painter Mustafa Dirani, from a Shiite Afghan immigrant family. He does not know Omarjan Azari and has no history of involvement with any Sunni extremist grouping. Everything suggests that he and his friend Maywand Osman were included in the raids solely to increase the number of targets. They appear to have been selected because they were recently involved in a car accident that has been linked to a brawl. The warrant issued to search his parent’s home dramatically stated that he had engaged “in preparation or planning terrorist acts” between May and September 2014.

Britain: London Isil terror raids questioned as it emerges one of the suspects is Iraqi Kurd: here.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will put Canada’s proposed combat military mission in Iraq to a vote on Monday. … But Harper’s plan to send Canadian warplanes to join the U.S.-led coalition’s bombing of Iraq may just make matters worse: here.

Nobel Prize winner Malala’s views, don’t drown them in hypocritical praise


This video, recorded in the USA, is called Malala Yousafzai To Obama’s Face: Drones Fuel Terrorism.

Ms Yousafzai won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. Media said: ‘because of her stance for girls’ education’. Educating girls contributes to peace indeed, indirectly.

Media usually neglect Malala Yousafzai’s anti-drone warfare stance. This side of her makes her an even more deserving Nobel Prize winner, being more directly pro-peace. Alfred Nobel, founder of the prize, intended it for directly anti-war people.

Helen Keller from the USA is very famous as a champion of blind and deaf people. In the Capitol, where the United States Congress meets, a statue honours her.

However, very often Big Politics and Big Media ignore Ms Keller’s political views: she was a feminist, a pacifist, a socialist, and a member of the Industrial Workers of the World.

Another famous woman from the USA is Katharine Lee Bates, author of the very well-known poem/song America the Beautiful. Ms Bates was a feminist, a lesbian, a Christian socialist, and an anti-imperialist. All of these now conveniently ‘forgotten’ by United States Right wingers, who, when singing America the Beautiful, conveniently forget its later stanzas, so inconvenient for them.

These two women have been dead for a long time. Will a young woman of only seventeen years old now suffer a similar fate at the hands of Big Politics and Big Media?

I will quote now from the blog of Juan Cole in the USA. Juan Cole deserves sharp criticism for his support of the 2011 Libya war; a war which led to disasters for women’s rights, to a sharp increase in racism, to ever worsening bloodshed both within and outside the borders of Libya, and to hundreds of thousands of Libyans becoming refugees to save their lives.

However, this blog post by Juan Cole is better than his views on Libya:

Listening to Nobelist Malala Yousafzai instead of just Honoring Her

By Juan Cole | Oct. 11, 2014

Malala Yousafzai has become the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in history, sharing it this year with India’s Kailash Satyarthi, a children’s rights activist.

Ms. Yousafzai, from Pakistan’s picturesque Swat Valley, was shot in the head by a member of the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (TTP or Pakistani Taliban Movement) two years ago this month for standing up for girls’ education.

There is always a danger that in honoring a figure like Malala Yousafzai, the world will drown out her more challenging views. Martin Luther King, Jr. is now mainly lauded for his “I have a Dream” speech but his socialism, anti-imperialism, and opposition to the Vietnam War is little remembered. Likewise, Lila Abu-Lughod has warned against the use of Ms. Yousafzai by powerful white men as a symbol whereby they can pose as champions of Muslim women against Muslim men– an argument first made powerfully in a another context by Gayatri Spivak. The real Malala Yousafzai is harder to deploy for those purposes than is Malala the symbol.

Islamophobes who use her story as an indictment of the religion of Islam have another think coming. She credits her religion with inspiring her values, the values that made here a nobelist: “What the terrorists are doing is against Islam because Islam is a religion of peace. It tells us about equality, it tells us about brotherhood, it tells us about love and friendship and peace, that we should – we should be nice and kind to each other.”

It should be remembered that Ms. Yousafzai told Barack Obama off about his drone strikes in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) of northwest Pakistan. She said of her meeting with the US president, “I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism… Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact.”

She appears to oppose military action against the Taliban: ‘If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.’

She approvingly quoted her father as criticizing novelist Salman Rushdie for his book Satannic [sic; Satanic] Verses, but as standing for freedom of speech for such authors. Her remarks caused her book to be banned in many Pakistani private schools, angering the country’s fundamentalists. She also criticized the denial of rights to Pakistan’s Ahmadi minority.

Honoring someone with the bravery and resiliency and ethical intelligence of a Malala Yousafzai is easy. Taking her more challenging positions seriously and engaging with them is much more difficult.

The blog post might have added that Malala is a supporter of socialism.

When Stoltenberg, the new boss of militarist organisation NATO, praised Malala, I felt disgust. Don’t let warmongers drown the true voice of the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner ever; the way the establishment tries to drown Katherine Lee Bates, Helen Keller, Dr Martin Luther King, etc. etc.

Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Pakistani female education activist, shot and wounded but never silenced by the Taliban, became the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize recipient last week. Few women have ever won a Nobel Prize. Of the 867 awards distributed since 1901, just 46 have gone to women: here.

Belfast Islamophobe is not welcome in Wales


This video is called Islamophobia and Antisemitism: Same message, different minority.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Preacher of hate flees Welsh tour

Tuesday 7th October 2014

A notorious hate preacher who has labelled Islam “satanic” was run out of Wales at the weekend by anti-racist activists.

Belfast-based Pastor James McConnell had been due to address supporters at a leisure centre in Pontypridd on Sunday as part of a speaking tour.

But he called off the Welsh leg of his hate tour after Unite Against Fascism (UAF) discovered the event was taking place and called a protest outside.

It took just half a dozen committed anti-racist campaigners to make him think twice.

UAF Wales spokesman Jeffrey Hurford said: “We wanted to show that his racism and Islamophobia is not welcome in Wales.

Especially at this time, importing religious hatred is an irresponsible crime.”

Bombing Iraqi civilians does not stop ISIS crimes


This video from Britain is called Lindsey German-Stop the War Coalition-The People’s AssemblyNo More Austerity 21.06.14.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Activists rally against Iraq bombing campaign

Monday 6th October 2014

OPPONENTS of Britain’s bombing missions in Iraq rallied in London this weekend, arguing that waging war would not bring peace to the Middle East.

The protest took place against a background of revulsion following the murder by Islamic State (Isis) extremists of aid volunteer Alan Henning.

Mr Henning, a taxi driver from Eccles in Salford, Greater Manchester, was beheaded and a video of the execution posted online by Isis.

His brother-in-law Colin Livesey has accused the government of doing too little to save him.

“They could have done more when they knew about it months and months ago,” he said.

“Just the same with David Haines as well — I don’t think they did enough for him either.”

Mr Haines was the first Briton to be executed by Isis after being kidnapped in Syria.

Saturday’s anti-war protest in London was organised by the Stop the War Coalition.

Demonstrators held placards saying “stop bombing Iraq” and “don’t attack Syria.”

Francis O’Neill, 36, from Oxford, said: “I just think it’s insane.”

He said he had “every sympathy” with Mr Henning’s family, but said dropping bombs is not the answer.

Mr O’Neill said Britain inflicts “equal barbarity” on the people of Iraq, but people in Britain feel “distanced” from it.

Josh Blakely, 35, from Berkshire, said: “The war is not in my name. It’s in MPs’ names. If we’re going to go to war then the whole country should get to vote.”

A special multi-faith church service for Mr Henning will be held in Eccles in the near future.

Imam Asim Hussain, of Manchester Central Mosque, said those responsible for Mr Henning’s death are “the most misguided individuals” who are “causing a huge amount of problems for the name of Islam.”

They are not Islamic in any way, nor are they a state,” he said. “Neither do we as Muslims consider them to be Muslims.”

Mr Henning’s wife Barbara said: “Alan was a decent, caring human being. His interest was in the welfare of others. He will be remembered for this and we as a family are extremely proud of him and what he achieved and the people he helped.”

‘DON’T bomb Iraq! Don’t attack Syria! – How can we fund a war when we can’t feed the poor!’ Shouted marchers in the pouring rain on the 3,000-strong march ‘Stop the War’ march in London on Saturday: here.

“Ammunition transferred into Syria and Iraq to help stabilize governments has instead passed from the governments to the jihadists, helping to fuel the Islamic State’s rise and persistent combat power. Rifle cartridges from the United States, the sample shows, have played a significant role. ‘The lesson learned here is that the defense and security forces that have been supplied ammunition by external nations really don’t have the capacity to maintain custody of that ammunition,’ said James Bevan, director of Conflict Armament Research, the organization that is gathering and analyzing weapons used by the Islamic State.” [Story, Image via NYT]

In Fallujah, the US used poison gas, and phosphorus weapons and also depleted-uranium-tipped ammunition to kill large numbers of men, women and children. As in Vietnam, among the newly born children there are still the grossly deformed. Now the US imperialists are back, and their bombings of these cities will undoubtedly aid the ISIS movement which has not got the support of the Sunni masses in western and northern Iraq. In fact, there was no Al-Qaeda or anything like ISIS in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, and when they tried to impose themselves after the trial and execution of Saddam Hussein, they were driven out of the region by the ‘Awakening Movement’ of the Sunni tribes. In fact, the US had to come to the Sunni tribes, cap in hand, and pay them to do the job. So the appearance of US helicopter gunships and fighter planes attacking Fallujah and Ramadi can only strengthen the Islamists: here.

FORMER senior military commanders are runnng a campaign to strengthen the British army for a war in Syria: here.

Islamophobic advertisements removed after James Foley’s family protested


Pamela Geller and Anders Breivik

This picture is about United States extreme rightist Pamela Geller, an influence on mass murderer Anders Breivik.

By Isaac Finn in the USA:

Anti-Muslim ads removed from New York buses after protest from James Foley‘s family

4 October 2014

An anti-Muslim advertisement featuring a photo of American journalist James Foley, taken immediately before his brutal execution at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), will be removed from New York City buses and subway stations.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a rabidly anti-Muslim group founded by right-wing blogger Pamela Geller, agreed to remove James Foley’s photo from one of their advertisements after an impassioned protest from Foley’s family. His parents insisted that Foley’s life and views were completely antithetical to the fascistic ravings of Geller and her group.

J. Patrick Rowan, the lawyer representing the family, in a letter to Geller, stated, “The use of Mr. Foley’s photo in your advertisement will cause profound distress to the Foley family.” The letter continued, “Having lived in and reported from communities in which nearly everyone was of Muslim faith, he had great respect for the religion and those who practiced it. The advertisement you are preparing to run seems to convey the message that ordinary practitioners of Islam are a dangerous threat. This message is entirely inconsistent with Mr. Foley’s reporting and his beliefs.”

Foley had stated opposition to US war, and had taken a critical attitude to the practice of embedded journalism—in which journalists are attached to US military units—because he believed it encouraged biased reporting.

The Foley family also criticized US actions in the Middle East, including how the government handled Foley’s kidnapping. Family members reported that the US government had threatened to prosecute them for “material support” for terrorism if they sought to raise a ransom of roughly $132 million demanded by the ISIS in order to free Foley.

Diana Foley, James Foley’s mother, in an interview with CNN in early September, said, “We’re dealing with very difficult people when we talk about ISIS. Their hate for us is great. And yet, some of our response to them has only increased the hate.”

The AFDI’s original advertisement included a photo of Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, Foley’s alleged executioner, next to a picture of Foley immediately before his execution. Text above the photos read, “Yesterday’s Moderate is Today’s Headline.”

David Yerushalmi, Geller’s lawyer, told the Agence France-Presse that a modified version of the advertisement will be released, with the photo of Foley replaced by a picture of a masked fighter holding a digitally blurred severed head.

The now modified advertisement is one of six posters made by the AFDI, in order to show, according to the group, “the uselessness of the distinction between ‘moderate’ and ‘extremist’ Muslims.” Geller and the AFDI have paid $100,000 to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to have these posters put on 100 buses and two subway stops for four weeks.

Geller is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and influential figurehead” and a “self-avowed Zionist,” who “has mingled with European racists and fascists.” Last year, she was barred from entering Britain, where she had intended to speak on the platform of the fascistic and racist English Defense League. The Home Office found that her statements “may foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.”

Geller and her organization are currently suing the MTA, for blocking another one of her advertisements. This one features the phrase “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah,” next to a masked face, attributing the quote to the Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas.

The MTA said it rejected the ad as inappropriate for covering the back of city buses because it could be interpreted as “urging direct, violent attacks on Jews.”