Archive for the ‘War of Religions’ Category

Barbaric rage

September 18, 2012


Look at the ugly, barbaric, demonic faces infected by an evil religion that has no tolerance for others. Civilization has no place for this backward idea.



September 12, 2012

September 12, 2012

U.S. Envoy to Libya Is Killed in Attack


CAIRO — The United States ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was killed along with three of his staff in an attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi Tuesday night by an armed mob angry over a short American-made video mocking Islam’s founding prophet, the White House and Libyan officials said on Wednesday.

In a statement confirming the four fatalities, President Obama said he strongly condemned the killing — the first death of an American envoy abroad in more than two decades — and had ordered increased security at American diplomatic posts around the world.

The attack at the compound in Benghazi was far more deadly than administration officials first announced on Tuesday night, when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said one American had been killed and one injured.

Mr. Obama’s statement did not disclose details of the attack. The ambassador, Christopher Stephens, arrived in Libya earlier this year after serving as an envoy to the Libyan rebels who overthrew Libya’s leader, Mohamar el-Qaddafi last year. The other three killed were not immediately identified.

‘“While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants,” Mr. Obama said, calling Mr. Stevens “a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States” who had “selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi” and, as ambassador, “supported Libya’s transition to democracy.”

“The brave Americans we lost represent the extraordinary service and sacrifices that our civilians make every day around the globe. As we stand united with their families, let us now redouble our own efforts to carry their work forward,” the statement said.

The killingsthreatened to upset Washington’s relations with the new Libyan government that took over after the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and sour American public opinion about the prospects of the democratic opening of the Arab Spring.

Mr. Stevens, a veteran of American diplomatic missions in Libya, served in Benghazi during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi, and he was widely admired by the Libyan rebels for his support of their struggle.

The news of his death emerged on Wednesday after violence spilled over the American consulate in Benghazi and demonstrators stormed the fortified walls of the United States Embassy in Cairo.

Few details of the events in Benghazi were immediately available, but the killing of the ranking American official in Libya raised questions about the vulnerability of American officials at a time when the profound changes sweeping the Arab world have hardly dispelled the rage against the United States that still smolders in pockets around the region.

Tuesday’s violence came on the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and were inspired by Egyptian media reports about a 14-minute trailer for the video, called “Innocence of Muslims,” that was released on the Web.

Earlier, an unidentified Libyan official in Benghazi told Reuters that the American ambassador in Libya and three other staff members were killed in Benghazi “when gunmen fired rockets at them.” It was not clear where in the city the attack took place. The Libyan official said the ambassador was being driven from the consulate building to a safer location when gunmen opened fire, Reuters said.

In a message on Twitter, Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagur of Libya said on Wednesday that he condemned “the cowardly act of attacking the U.S. consulate and the killing of Mr. Stevens and the other diplomats.”

Agence France-Presse quoted the Libyan Interior Ministry as saying Ambassador Stevens and three staff members were killed when a mob attacked the consulate in Benghazi. Al Jazeera’s English-language Web site said Mr. Stevens died of smoke inhalation after a mob set fire to the building.

In Italy, the Corriere della Sera newspaper Web site showed images of what it said was the American Consulate in Benghazi ablaze with men carrying automatic rifles and waving V-for-victory signs, silhouetted against the burning buildings. One photograph showed a man closely resembling Mr. Stevens apparently unconscious, his face seeming to be smudged with smoke and his eyes closed.

Mr. Stevens arrived in Tripoli in May 2012, as United States Ambassador to Libya, according to the State Department Web site, after serving two previous terms in Libya since 2007 as an American envoy before and after the 2011 revolution that overthrew Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

Mr. Stevens, conversant in Arabic and French in addition to English, worked at the State Department since 1991 after a spell as an international trade lawyer in Washington. He taught English as a Peace Corps volunteers in Morocco from 1983 to 1985, the State Department Web site said. The immediate cause of the anti-American outburst was the trailer of an amateurish, American-made video, which opens with scenes of Egyptian security forces standing idle as Muslims pillage and burn the homes of Egyptian Christians. Then it cuts to cartoonish scenes depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a child of uncertain parentage, a buffoon, a womanizer, a homosexual, a child molester and a greedy, bloodthirsty thug.

The trailer was uploaded to YouTube by Sam Bacile, whom The Wall Street Journal Web site identified as a 52-year old Israeli-American real estate developer in California. He told the Web site he had raised $5 million from 100 Jewish donors to make the film. “Islam is a cancer,” Mr. Bacile was quoted as saying.

The video gained international attention when a Florida pastor began promoting it along with his own proclamation of Sept. 11 as “International Judge Muhammad Day.”

In a statement on Tuesday, the pastor, Terry Jones of Gainesville, Fla., called the film “an American production, not designed to attack Muslims but to show the destructive ideology of Islam” and said it “further reveals in a satirical fashion the life of Muhammad.”

He said the embassy and consulate attacks illustrated that Muslims “have no tolerance for anything outside of Muhammad” and called Islam “a total deception.”

Mr. Jones inspired deadly riots in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011 by first threatening to burn copies of the Koran and then burning one in his church. He also once reportedly hanged President Obama in effigy.

In Benghazi on Tuesday, protesters with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades attacked the United States Consulate and set it on fire, Libyan officials said. Some news reports said American guards inside the consulate had fired their weapons, and a brigade of Libyan security forces arriving on the scene had battled the attackers in the streets as well.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton confirmed late Tuesday that a State Department officer had been killed in the Benghazi attack, and she condemned the violence. “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” she said. “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”

The death in Benghazi appears to be the first such fatality in a string of attacks and vandalism against foreign and especially Western diplomatic missions in Libya in recent months. Since the fall of Colonel Qaddafi, Libya’s transitional government has struggled to rebuild an effective police force, control the weapons that have flooded the streets and restore public security.

Local Islamist militant groups capitalizing on the security vacuum have claimed responsibility for some attacks, and some reports on Tuesday suggested that one such group, Ansar al-Sharia, had claimed responsibility for that day’s assault.

In Cairo, thousands of unarmed protesters gathered outside the embassy during the day. By nightfall, some had climbed over the wall around the embassy compound and destroyed a flag hanging inside. The vandals replaced it with a black flag with an Islamic profession of faith — “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is his prophet” — favored by ultraconservatives and militants.

Embassy guards fired guns into the air, but a large contingent of Egyptian riot police officers on hand to protect the embassy evidently did not use their weapons against the crowd, and the protest continued, largely without violence, into the night.

A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, the mainstream Islamist group and the sponsor of Egypt’s first elected president, Mohamed Morsi, urged the United States government on Tuesday to prosecute the “madmen” behind the video, according to the English-language Web site of the state newspaper, Al Ahram.

The spokesman asked for a formal apology from the United States government and warned that events like the video were damaging Washington’s relations with the Muslim world. He also emphasized that any protests should remain peaceful and respect property.

There should be “civilized demonstrations of the Egyptian people’s displeasure with this film,” the Brotherhood spokesman said, according to the newspaper Web site. “Any nonpeaceful activity will be exploited by those who hate Islam to defame the image of Egypt and Muslims.”

Bracing for trouble before the start of the protests here and in Libya, the American Embassy released a statement shortly after noon that appeared to refer to Mr. Jones: “The United States Embassy in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.” It later denounced the “unjustified breach of our embassy.”

Apparently unaware of the timing of the first embassy statement, the Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, put out a statement just before midnight Tuesday saying, “It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” Mr. Romney also said he was “outraged” at the attacks on the embassy and consulate.

Responding to Mr. Romney’s statement, Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman, said, “We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack.”

David D.Kirkpatrick reported from Cairo, Alan Cowell from London and Steven Lee Myers from Washington. Suliman Ali Zway contributed reporting from Tripoli, Libya.

Cheap Lives

September 12, 2010

The New York Times Laments “A Sadly Wary Misunderstanding of Muslim-Americans.” But Really Is It “Sadly Wary” Or A “Misunderstanding” At All?

  • Martin Peretz
  • September 4, 2010 | 9:23 pm

Danger to Humanity

September 4, 2010
3 September 2010 Last updated at 23:41 GMT

Radical Islam is world’s greatest threat – Tony Blair

The Tony Blair BBC interview
Tony Blair has been making the rounds following the publication of his memoirs

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has described radical Islam as the greatest threat facing the world today.

He made the remark in a BBC interview marking the publication of his memoirs.

Mr Blair said radical Islamists believed that whatever was done in the name of their cause was justified – including the use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

Mr Blair, who led Britain into war in Afghanistan and Iraq, denied that his own policies had fuelled radicalism.

Asked about the argument that Chechens, Kashmiris, Palestinians, Iraqis and Afghans were resisting foreign occupation, he said Western polices were designed to confront radical Islamists because they were “regressive, wicked and backward-looking”.

The aim of al-Qaeda in Iraq was “not to get American troops out of Baghdad [but] to destabilise a government the people of Iraq have voted for”, he told the BBC’s Owen Bennett Jones in a World Service interview.

‘Stronger will’

The former British leader – who now acts as the Middle East envoy for the international Quartet – said that Iran was one of the biggest state sponsors of radical Islam, and it was necessary to prevent it by any means from developing a nuclear weapon.

“We need to give a message to Iran that is very clear – that they cannot have nuclear weapons capability, and we will stop them,” he said.

Mr Blair said he was not advocating military action, but simply saying no option could be taken off the table.

Iran denies pursuing a nuclear weapons programme, and insists its atomic work is for civilian purposes.

Mr Blair told the BBC his view of foreign policy had changed as a result of the 9/11 attacks: “After 11 September, rightly or wrongly, I felt the calculus of risk had changed.

“There is the most enormous threat from the combination of this radical extreme movement and the fact that, if they could, they would use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

“You can’t take a risk with that happening.”

Mr Blair said he agonised over how to respond to radical Islam and still had doubts that he was right.

These are really difficult issues, he said, but added: “This extremism is so deep that in the end they have to know that they’re facing a stronger will than theirs.”

Mr Blair has also expressed optimism about the prospect of peace in the Middle East. Direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians began in Washington on Thursday.

Speaking in Dublin, on the prime-time entertainment programme The Late Late Show, Mr Blair said he believed the Middle East peace process was similar to Northern Ireland – and would be successful.

He said: “I feel it can be settled. You just have to carry on.”

There was a small anti-war protest outside the Dublin studio where the interview took place.

Mr Blair also told the Late Late Show that his successor as prime minister, Gordon Brown, remained a friend.

In his autobiography, Mr Blair said Mr Brown was “maddening”, had “zero” emotional intelligence and sought to frustrate key reforms.

However, Mr Blair said there were many things he admired about Mr Brown and would “probably” still go for a drink with him.

The Forever War

June 27, 2010

Banned at last

May 2, 2010
Belgian lawmakers pass burka ban

Belgium’s lower house of parliament has voted for a law that would ban women from wearing the full Islamic face veil in public.

The law would ban any clothing that obscures the identity of the wearer in places like parks and on the street. No-one voted against it.

The law now goes to the Senate, where it may face challenges over its wording, which may delay it.

If passed, the ban would be the first move of its kind in Europe.

Only around 30 women wear this kind of veil in Belgium, out of a Muslim population of around half a million.

The BBC’s Dominic Hughes in Brussels says MPs backed the legislation on the grounds of security, to allow police to identify people.

Other MPs said that the full face veil was a symbol of the oppression of women, our correspondent says.

Senate approval

Thursday’s vote was almost unanimous with 134 MPs in support of the law and two abstentions.

They chose to live with us in Christian countries so they must obey our customs
J M Badoux-Gillbee, Netherlands

It is expected to pass through the Senate without being blocked, with initial reports saying it could come into law as early as June or July.

But the Liberals and Christian Democrats – both represented in the Senate – say they will question the phrasing of the law, which could cause delays.

It will also take longer to become law if elections are called, as parliament would have to be dissolved. The Belgium government collapsed last week.

The Muslim Executive of Belgium has criticised the move, saying it would lead to women who do wear the full veil to be trapped in their homes.

Amnesty International said a ban would set a “dangerous precedent”.

In a statement, the human rights group said it would “violate the rights to freedom of expression and religion of those women who wear the burqa or niqab as an expression of their identity and beliefs”.

The ban would be imposed in all buildings or grounds that are “meant for public use or to provide services”, including streets, parks and sports grounds.

Exceptions could be made for certain festivals.

Those who break the law could face a fine of 15-25 euros (£13-£27) or a seven-day jail sentence.

Swiss minarets

November 29, 2009

GENEVA  — The campaign posters are inflammatory: Minarets rising like missiles from the national flag.

A proposal championed by right-wing parties to ban minarets in Switzerland goes to a nationwide vote on Sunday in a referendum that has set off an emotional debate about national identity and stirred fears of boycotts and violent reactions from Muslim countries.

With tensions running high, the Geneva Mosque was vandalized Thursday by unidentified individuals who threw a pot of pink paint at the building’s entrance.

It was the third incident against the mosque this month: earlier, a vehicle with a loudspeaker drove through the area imitating a muezzin’s call to prayer, and vandals threw cobble stones at the building, damaging a mosaic.

Business leaders say a minaret ban would be disastrous for the Swiss economy because it could drive away wealthy Muslims who bank in Switzerland, buy the country’s luxury goods, and frequent its resorts.

The vote taps into anxieties about Muslims that have been rippling through Europe in recent years, ranging from French fears of women in body veils to Dutch alarm over the murder by a Muslim fanatic of a filmmaker who made a documentary that criticized Islam.

Polls indicate growing support for the proposal submitted by the anti-immigrant Swiss People’s Party, but it was doubtful it will gain enough momentum to pass. Muslims in Switzerland have kept a low profile, refraining from a counter-campaign.

“Switzerland’s good reputation as an open, tolerant and secure country may be lost and this would bring a blow to tourism,” said Swiss Hotel Association spokesman Thomas Allemann.

The nationalist Swiss People’s Party has led several campaigns against foreigners, including a proposal to kick out entire families of foreigners if one of their children breaks a law and a bid to subject citizenship applications to a popular vote.

The party’s controversial posters have shown three white sheep kicking out a black sheep and a swarm of brown hands grabbing Swiss passports from a box.

The current campaign posters showing missile-like minarets atop the national flag and a fully veiled woman have drawn anger of local officials and rights defenders.

The cities of Basel, Lausanne and Fribourg banned the billboards, saying they painted a “racist, disrespectful and dangerous image” of Islam.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee called the posters discriminatory and said Switzerland would violate international law if it bans minarets.

The Swiss People’s Party joined forces with the fringe Federal Democratic Union in the campaign. They say they are acting to fight the spread of political Islam, arguing the minaret represents a bid for power and is not just a religious symbol.

The four minarets already attached to mosques in the country would remain even if the referendum passes. Minarets are typically built next to mosques for religious leaders to call the faithful to prayer, but they are not used for that in Switzerland.

Construction of traditional mosques and minarets in European countries has rarely been trouble-free: projects in Sweden, France, Italy, Austria, Greece, Germany and Slovenia have met protests but have rarely been blocked.

In Cologne, Germany, plans to expand the city’s Ditib Mosque and complete it with a dome and two 177-foot-tall minarets have triggered an outcry from right-wing groups and the city’s Roman Catholic archbishop.

People’s Party lawmaker Walter Wobmann said minarets are part of Muslims’ strategy to make Switzerland Islamic. He said he feared Shariah law, which would create “parallel societies” where honor killings, forced marriages and even stoning are practiced.

Organizers collected more than the 100,000 signatures required for any Swiss citizen to put a constitutional initiative to a nationwide vote.

The government has urged voters to reject the initiative, saying it would violate religious freedom. Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has warned it would lead to a security risk for Switzerland; other members of the multiparty government have spoken out against the proposal.

Between 350,000 and 400,000 of Switzerland’s 7.5 million people are Muslims. Many are from families who came to Switzerland as refugees from former Yugoslavia during the 1990s.

Less than 13 percent of the Muslims living in the Alpine nation are practicing and most are well integrated, said Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf. She said initiative would “endanger religious peace in our country.”

A survey by the respected polling institute gfs.bern last week indicated that 53 percent of voters reject the initiative, although support has grown by 3 percentage points to 37 percent since last month. Typically in Switzerland the margins on such votes narrows as balloting nears. Ten percent of the 1,213 people polled were undecided. The survey had an error margin of 2.9 percent.

“The problem is not so much the minarets, but rather what they represent,” said Madeleine Trincat, a retiree from Geneva. “After the minarets, the muezzins will come, then they’ll ask us to wear veils and so on.”

Carlo Adler, the director of a luxury jewelry shop in Geneva, called the initiative xenophobic.

“I don’t see why they should be banned,” he said about minarets. “We might as well take off the spires from churches.”

The Swiss business organization economiesuisse said it fears a minaret ban would harm Switzerland’s image in the Islamic world. The exporting nation sold goods of around 14.5 billion Swiss francs (about $14 billion) to Muslim countries last year, according to economiesuisse.

Peter Spuhler, the head of Swiss Stadler Rail Group, a train and tramway exporting company with markets in Muslim countries, said, “reactions can be very emotional and fierce” if the initiative is accepted.

“This can lead to boycotts,” he told weekly SonntagsZeitung.

Switzerland votes on minaret ban

By Imogen Foulkes
BBC News, Berne, Switzerland
Swiss voters are going to the polls to decide on a proposal to ban the building of minarets in their country.

The proposal is backed by the Swiss People’s Party, the largest party in parliament, and by Christian groups.

They say minarets would be the first sign of the Islamisation of Switzerland.

The Swiss government is urging voters to reject a ban. There are 400,000 Muslims in Switzerland, and just four minarets across the country.

Islam is the most widespread religion after Christianity, but it remains relatively hidden.

There are unofficial Muslim prayer rooms, and planning for new minarets is almost always refused.

The proposal is for a one-line addition to the Swiss constitution, stating that the construction of minarets is forbidden.

Supporters of a ban claim allowing minarets would represent the growth of an ideology and a legal system – Sharia law – which are incompatible with Swiss democracy.

I have a real problem with Islam, with the Islamic law, with the political and legal aspect of this religion
Oskar Freysinger Swiss member of parliament

Opinion polls ahead of the vote are close, with signs that a small majority would reject the ban.

That would be a relief to the Swiss government which fears banning minarets would cause unrest among the Muslim community, and damage Switzerland’s relations with Islamic countries.

Amnesty International has warned that the ban would violate Switzerland’s obligations to freedom of religious expression.

Swiss Muslim Elham Manea points to the recent construction of Sikh temples and Serbian Orthodox churches and says a ban just on minarets is discriminatory.

“If you are telling me that we are going to ban all religious symbols from all religious buildings, I would not have a problem with that.

“But if you are just telling me that we are going to target only the Muslims, not the Christians, not the Jews, not the Sikhs, only the Muslims, then I have a problem with it because it is discrimination.”

Muslim respect

Most of Switzerland’s Muslims come from former Yugoslavia, and there is no history of Islamic extremism, but supporters of a ban say minarets are far more than religious architecture.

They claim allowing them would be a sign that Islamic law is accepted in Switzerland.

Member of parliament Oskar Freysinger rejects the charge of discrimination.

“The Muslims as normal human beings are worth my respect – it is not a problem.

“I have a real problem with Islam, with the Islamic law, with the political and legal aspect of this religion.”

In recent years many countries in Europe have been debating their relationship with Islam, and how best to integrate their Muslim populations.

France focused on the headscarf; in Germany there was controversy over plans to build one of Europe’s largest mosques in Cologne.

Thank You God, that evil is prevented!

Swiss voters back ban on minarets

Swiss voters have supported a referendum proposal to ban the building of minarets, official results show.

More than 57% of voters and 22 out of 26 cantons – or provinces – voted in favour of the ban.

The proposal had been put forward by the Swiss People’s Party, (SVP), the largest party in parliament, which says minarets are a sign of Islamisation.

The government opposed the ban, saying it would harm Switzerland’s image, particularly in the Muslim world.

But Martin Baltisser, the SVP’s general secretary, told the BBC: “This was a vote against minarets as symbols of Islamic power.”

The BBC’s Imogen Foulkes, in Bern, says the surprise result is very bad news for the Swiss government which fears unrest among the Muslim community.

Our correspondent says voters worried about rising immigration – and with it the rise of Islam – have ignored the government’s advice.

In a statement, the government said it accepted the decision.

It said: “The Federal Council (government) respects this decision. Consequently the construction of new minarets in Switzerland is no longer permitted.”

This will cause major problems because during this campaign mosques were attacked, which we never experienced in 40 years in Switzerland
Tamir Hadjipolu Zurich’s Association of Muslim Organisations

Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said: “Concerns [about Islamic fundamentalism] have to be taken seriously.

“However, a ban on the construction of new minarets is not a feasible means of countering extremist tendencies.”

She sought to reassure Swiss Muslims, saying the decision was “not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture”.

Switzerland is home to some 400,000 Muslims and has just four minarets.

After Christianity, Islam is the most widespread religion in Switzerland, but it remains relatively hidden.

There are unofficial Muslim prayer rooms, and planning applications for new minarets are almost always refused.

Supporters of a ban claimed that allowing minarets would represent the growth of an ideology and a legal system – Sharia law – which are incompatible with Swiss democracy.

But others say the referendum campaign incited hatred. On Thursday the Geneva mosque was vandalised for the third time during the campaign, according to local media.

Amnesty International said the vote violated freedom of religion and would probably be overturned by the Swiss supreme court or the European Court of Human Rights.

‘Political symbol’

The president of Zurich’s Association of Muslim Organisations, Tamir Hadjipolu, told the BBC: “This will cause major problems because during this campaign mosques were attacked, which we never experienced in 40 years in Switzerland.

“Islamaphobia has increased intensively.”

And there was dismay among Switzerland’s Muslims upon hearing the result.

It’s a message that you are not welcome here as true citizens of this society
Elham Manea, co-founder of the Forum for a Progressive Islam

Farhad Afshar, president of the Coordination of Islamic Organisations in Switzerland, said: “The most painful thing for us is not the ban on minarets but the symbol sent by this vote.

“Muslims do not feel accepted as a religious community.”

Elham Manea, co-founder of the Forum for a Progressive Islam, added: “My fear is that the younger generation will feel unwelcome.

“It’s a message that you are not welcome here as true citizens of this society.”

Sunday’s referendum was held after the SVP collected 100,000 signatures from voters within 18 months calling for a vote.

In recent years countries across Europe have been debating how best to integrate Muslim populations.

France focused on the headscarf, while in Germany there was controversy over plans to build one of Europe’s largest mosques.

What needs to be done, no matter how unpopular

July 7, 2009

Mullen: Strike on Iran an option, but a bad one

By ANNE GEARAN, AP National Security Writer Anne Gearan, Ap National Security Writer 11 mins ago

WASHINGTON – A military strike to thwart Iran’s nuclear weapons capability remains on the table but could have grave and unpredictable consequences, the top U.S. military officer said Tuesday.

“I worry a great deal about the response of a country that gets struck,” said Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “It is a really important place to not go, if we can not go there in any way, shape or form.”

Iran is perhaps one to three years away from getting the bomb, leaving a small and shrinking opening for diplomacy to avert what he said could be a dangerous nuclear arms race in the Middle East, Mullen said.

“I think the time window is closing.”

Mullen said President Barack Obama‘s diplomatic outreach to Iran holds promise, despite political upheaval and deadly protests following Iran’s disputed presidential election.

Obama told The Associated Press last week that persuading Iran to forgo nuclear weapons has been made more difficult by the Iranian government’s handling of claims that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole re-election.

Mullen pointedly said “the strike option” — is one possible outcome. He suggested that a strike, meaning missile or other attacks to blow up Iran’s known nuclear facilities, is a last resort. It would be “very destabilizing,” Mullen said.

Mullen was referring to Iran’s response should it be attacked by either the United States or Israel, although he was careful to say that Israel can speak and choose for itself. His remarks made clear that the Obama administration wants to avoid a strike by either country.

Mullen, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said it is critical to find a solution “before Iran gets a nuclear capability, or that anyone … would take action to strike.”

On Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden had suggested that the new U.S. administration would not stand in the way of an Israeli strike. That is not the message U.S. officials have been trying to deliver in public and private, but spokesmen insisted Biden was not speaking out of turn.

The United States would join European nations, Russia and China in negotiations over Iran’s disputed nuclear program, if Iran agreed to terms for beginning the talks. Obama has also said he would hold direct talks with Iran’s leadership if it would help. leaders of Group of Eight countries have yet to forge a common position on Iran’s violent crackdown on post-electoral protests, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Tuesday on the eve of the summit.

Berlusconi, who chairs the gathering of world leaders opening Wednesday, noted that some countries, such as France, were calling for tougher action against Tehran, while others, such as Russia, favored a softer stance to keep dialogue open.

Iran claims its fast-track nuclear development project is intended only for the peaceful production of electricity. Mullen, like other U.S. officials, said he is sure Iran intends to develop weapons and is working hard and fast to do so.

Pope decries evil done against Catholics of the Philippines

July 7, 2009
Pope condemns ‘heinous’ Cotabato blast
Agence France-Presse
Posted date: July 05, 2009
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI condemned Sunday the “heinous” bomb attack outside a Catholic church in the Philippines which killed five people and said resorting to violence never solved anything.”While praying to God for the victims of this heinous act, I once again condemn the recourse to violence which is never a just way to resolve existing problems,” he said during Angelus prayers at Saint Peter’s in the Vatican.

“When will people learn that life is sacred and only belongs to God? When will they understand that we are all brothers?”

Pope Benedict expressed his “strong disapproval” at the attack and lamented that “human blood continues to flow due to violence, injustice and hatred.”

Muslim rebels are suspected of being behind Sunday’s bombing at the church in Cotobato City on the southern island of Mindanao. It occurred just as the congregation was leaving early morning mass.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo directed security forces “to get to the bottom of the blast, arrest those responsible as soon as possible,” and ensure security in the city of about 200,000.

What do you expect from a barbaric, warlike religion?

Catholics, time to defend the faith of peace with war

July 7, 2009
Blast near church kills 5, wounds 35

Palace orders pursuit
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted date: July 05, 2009
COTABATO CITY, Philippines – (UPDATE 3) Five people were killed and at least 35 others were wounded after an explosion ripped through a roadside eatery near a church in Cotabato City on Sunday morning, authorities said.Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo had just finished reading the Sunday gospel and was about to start his homily at the Cotabato Immaculate Conception Cathedral when the explosion went off at around 8:40 a.m., officials said.

Malacañang ordered the police and the military to “exhaust all efforts to bring those responsible for this contemptible act to justice.”

“Those who seek to sow terror and chaos (and) destabilize the government and constitutional order will not go unpunished,” deputy presidential spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo said.

The military said the explosion had the signature of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) since the explosive was made up of 60- and 80-millimeter mortar ammunition.

“Its plain terrorism by the special operations group of the MILF and we condemn this attack on innocent civilians,” Brawner told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of by phone Sunday.

But MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu said an independent body should investigate the incident, as he blasted the military for “mind conditioning” the public to believe that the rebels were behind the attack.

Kabalu added that the military, too, had the capability to mount such an attack.

“Accusing and denying, denying and accusing repeatedly from both sides is bringing us nowhere. We have to have a neutral arbiter to decide which side is lying or telling the truth,” Kabalu said.

“The frequent blame on us through the media is a good mind conditioning for the public to believe,” he said.

The wounded included students, still in their school uniform, who served as sponsors of the mass, said Senior Superintendent Willie Dangane, Cotabato City police chief.

“The explosion was so loud as if the cathedral would collapse,” said Merly Sandoval, a churchgoer, said.

“People were running toward the altar after the blast … it was like a very loud thunderstorm and the sound reverberated inside the jam-packed cathedral,” another church-goer Isabel Joven, said.

“Everybody was screaming, we saw blood coming out of those lying on the ground near the entrance of the cathedral compound,” Sandoval said.

One of the fatalities was identified as Ruby Ramirez, a “lechon” (roast pig) vendor.

Witnesses said a man was seen carrying two backpacks and left one at the “lechon” store on Quezon Avenue when bystanders noticed him.

When accosted, he ran toward the Church main entrance still carrying the backpack and was arrested by elements of Task Force Tugis. He is now undergoing tactical interrogation.

“We are condemning this dastardly and cowardly act to the strongest term,” said Mayor Muslimin Sema, who also called on Muslim and Christian residents to instead stand united and help “identify those behind this cowardice and treachery.”

Eleven-year-old Prince Allen Diaz, son of journalist Patricio Diaz Sr., was pronounced dead at the hospital. The elder diaz was wounded in the explosion.

“What has happened to us that even the innocents are not spared?” said the elder Diaz, whose family was about to enter the cathedral when the blast happened.

A soldier, Sergant Recillo Collado of the Army’s 38th Infantry Battalion, was also killed along with an elderly woman and a mentally-ill man.

Most of the wounded were rushed to the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center.

Doctor Abdullah Dumama, health director for Central Mindanao, identified some of the wounded as— Gwen Garica, Ferdinand Veloria, Jun Barbon, Besonin Sigad, Elmer Roble, Sony Lian, Rodrigo Omega, Albiar Purificacion, Jocelyn Abdullah, Maricel Escanel, Jeremy Dapilat, Victor Luna, Geovani Lumigquit, Freddie Millan, Beterlyn Sigas, Prescilo Coliat, and Sayre siblings Janisa, Junrel and Jeofrey.

Dumama, who helped supervise and attend to the injured at the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center here, said Ramirez died from blood loss and shock to see an arm severed due to the powerful blast.

Tommy Tee, a freelance photojournalist, said he was inside the cathedral listening to Quevedo’s homily when the loud explosion interrupted the Mass, causing churchgoers to scamper toward the nearby gymnasium and cathedral parking lot.

He claimed to have seen soldiers in bloodied uniform, too.

“It’s unfortunate that I forgot to carry with me my camera,” he said, admitting that he usually leaves the apparatus at home every time he goes to hear Sunday Mass.

“It could have been a gory pictorial,” Tee said.

Warnings of alleged stepped-up bombings by the MILF rebels in Central Mindanao cropped up as early as April this year as the military continued its pursuit for MILF commanders Ameril Ombra Kato, Abdurahman Macapaar, and Aleem Pangalian, who were allegedly responsible for raids on civilian communities in the region in August 2008.

It was the third time that the said cathedral was the target of a bombing, residents said. Police ordnance experts defused an explosive devise planted nearby in 1995. In January 1999, suspected terrorists detonated a powerful explosive at the gate of radio station dxMS which is adjacent to the cathedral. At least two persons from a group of a block time radio program hosts were wounded then.