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Iranian TV Airs Jewish-Muslim Love Story

"The wildly popular show is a heart-wrenching tale of European Jews during World War II," writes Farnaz Fassihi in the Wall Street Journal:
The hour-long drama, "Zero Degree Turn," centers on a love story between an Iranian-Palestinian Muslim man and a French Jewish woman. Over the course of the 22 episodes, the hero saves his love from Nazi detention camps, and Iranian diplomats in France forge passports for the woman and her family to sneak on to airplanes carrying Iranian Jews to their homeland. (...)
Iran is home to some 25,000 Jews, the largest population in the Middle East outside of Israel. Iran's Jews -- along with Christians and Zorastrians -- are guaranteed equal rights in the country's constitution. Iran's Jews are guaranteed one member of parliament and are free to study Hebrew in school, pray in synagogues and shop at kosher supermarkets. Despite Mr. Ahmadinejad's statements, it isn't government policy to question the Holocaust, and the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, hasn't endorsed those views.
Wow, I did not expect this from Murdoch's Wall Street Journal to be honest.
The Heathlander shows US cartoons "demonising Iran."

Terror Suspects Motivated by Anti-Americanism

UPPERDATE: Surveillance rather than military action, seems to be the lesson from this foiled plot.

Anglofritz has a good press round-up:
The German police are uniformly applauded. The Financial Times reports that the cops were so far ahead of the game they secretly replaced some vats of chemicals amassed by the would-be terrorists with less explosive ones.
Anglofritz also brings an older quote from John Kerry: "The war on terror is far less of a military operation and far more of an intelligence-gathering law enforcement operation." Continue reading "Terror Suspects Motivated by Anti-Americanism"

Scientology: Tom Cruise Banned from Filming in Berlin?

A fierce controversy has arisen since Germany’s defense ministry allegedly banned Tom Cruise from filming on certain locations in Berlin. Cruise is to act Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, the German Reichswehr officer who attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler on July 20th1944. The reason for not allowing Cruise into the government building called “Bendlerblock”, according to a spokesman of the ministry: Mr Cruise having “publicly professed to being a member of the Scientology cult”.
This is as quoted by Antje Blumenthal, a member of parliament and expert for sect issues in the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party – and that’s part of the crux. As it turns out (link is in German), the producers haven’t even asked for permission to film anywhere yet; also, the location in question might not fall under the jurisdiction of the ministry of defense, but of the ministry of finance. So a (possibly overzealous) politician talked a (possibly naïve) ministry official into promising something that does sound to many as religious discrimination or even persecution. [see the lively debate on Atlantic Review]
Needless to say, accusations of religious persecution cast a poor light on us Germans, perpetrators of the Holocaust – of all peoples. Comparisons with the Nazi regime are abound on the internet; Stauffenberg’s son is being quoted in newspapers all over the world:  “It’s bound to be rubbish […] He should keep his hands off my father.”; whole interview in the original German; hints are being dropped of Berlin losing millions of Euros and 500 jobs of the movie were to be filmed elsewhere – in short: a “bureaucratic farce” turned into a political scandal.

While Scientology is officially recognized as a religion and enjoys tax-free status in the US, the German government considers it a profit-making organization and a dangerous cult, which is under surveillance of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s internal intelligence service. The US government has repeatedly criticized Germany for their “discrimination” of certain religious groups, including Scientology; they consider Germany’s handling of the controversial American organization as human rights infringement, e.g. in their 2005 human rights report.
So should we, as Time Magazine suggests, simply “ agree to disagree” on the issue? I’d say no. This incident has raised a couple of questions that should be addressed.
1. For the benefit of all people around the globe, both countries should take the lead in making transparent what Scientology is all about and how it should be treated.
2. Disagreements over Scientology have overshadowed German-American relations for too long already. We shouldn’t let any private organization, may it be a reputable church or a dubious sect, divide us.
3. Most importantly: Both our countries could do with an honest, open debate about religious freedom and the separation of church and state, cornerstones of our respective constitutions and shared values of our civilization. It’s never easy to get it right.

"Europe's Christian Comeback"

Apparently the Eurabia myth is so popular in the US that Foreign Policy saw the need to let Philip Jenkins, professor of history and religious studies at Penn State University, argue against it:
Europe remains a stronger Christian fortress than people realize. The West is awash with fear of the Islamization of Europe.
The entire "West" or just parts of the United States?
The result has been a rediscovery of the continent’s Christian roots, even among those who have long disregarded it, and a renewed sense of European cultural Christianity. Jürgen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, “Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter.” Europe may be confronting the dilemmas of a truly multifaith society, but with Christianity poised for a comeback, it is hardly on the verge of becoming an Islamic colony.
I am surprised that a history professor considers it necessary to reassure the smart and educated readers of an American foreign policy magazine that Europe is not "on the verge of becoming an Islamic colony."
Related post in the Atlantic Review: International Conference about the Collapse of Europe

Cost of Current US Wars: "$400 for Every Minute Since Jesus Christ was Born"

Radar Online features the "Jesus Christ's Superstars: America's holiest congressmen." Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) made the top 3 [HT: Marian]:
C-Span junkies know that the longest-serving and oldest current senator has a habit of peppering his meandering speeches with biblical references, noting once that the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan amounted to "$400 for every minute since Jesus Christ was born."

Muslims in America

"The first-ever, nationwide, random sample survey of Muslim Americans finds them to be largely assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world." writes the PEW Research Center, but also points out: "A majority (53%) of all Muslim Americans say that, since the 9/11 attacks, it has become more difficult to be a Muslim in the United States. This view is particularly prevalent among highly educated and wealthier Muslims."
Therefore, I recommend Morgan Spurlocks's funny and informative documentary: "A West Virginia Christian lives as a Muslim in Dearborne USA for 30 days." Spurlock has made a whole TV series about 30 day exchanges into a different culture. Other episodes are about living with minimum wage etc. As a Fulbrighter I find the concept of exchange programs very appealing. Video works, but you might have to click twice on play in Internet Explorer:

"One in four younger U.S. Muslims support suicide bombings at least rarely" writes the International Herald Tribune based on the PEW Research Center survey. More about this and US Muslim opinions on 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan below the fold: Continue reading "Muslims in America"

International Conference about the Collapse of Europe

California's Pepperdine University is hosting a conference about the Eurabia nonsense. Some of the topics of discussions have a few questionmarks, but it is clear in which direction they are going. Some samples:
1. What has been the role of Islam and the EU bureaucracy in fostering collapse?
2. Eurabia: Is Muslim domination of Europe inevitable?
3. Is Europe doomed to continued economic stagnation?
4. Civil Rights or Global Jihad? Are Muslims exploiting the democratic process to erode and destroy European democracy?
5. Collapse of Confidence; How much have Europeans Given Up on Their Own Civilization?
6. The end of the European Enlightenment and the growth of a closed thought society.
7. Europe’s post-Christian society and its mirror in the United States.
8. What steps can be taken in the United States to address the problems of Europe?
Dear readers, would you describe this conference setup as Anti-Europeanism and Islamophobia?
I am surprised that they don't have a panel about Rapture Readiness.

The list of speakers is extremely one-sided and includes many prominent supporters of the Eurabia myth. Wasn't California supposed to be liberal? What happened to academic standards of listening to both sides? The Polish consulate in New York got into trouble, when an NGO organised a discussion with Tony Judt about the Israel lobby in one of the consulate's rooms. The event was cancelled, but this conference probably will not get canceled because it is about Muslims and Europe rather than about Jews and Israel.

More criticism in Gideon Rachman's Financial Times Blog:
If you happen to be passing though Malibu next month, why not pop into an intriguing-sounding conference at Pepperdine University on "The Collapse of Europe". One of the early sessions is entitled - "Eurabia: Is Muslim domination of Europe inevitable?" My answer to this is "No" it's not inevitable. In fact, given that the Muslim population of Europe is just 4% at the moment, I would say it's highly unlikely. But don't trying telling that to an audience of American conservatives. The idea that Europe is about to be submerged by the Muslim hordes seems to be almost received wisdom over there. It is certainly a notion that has launched a great many books.
Related posts in the Atlantic Review: Financial Times: "US Prophets of Europe's Doom are Half Wrong"


The Economist's Lexington writes about Anti-Europeanism in the United States, which is an interesting topic. Unfortunately he does not add much to the debate, but covers the same "Eurabia" examples that have been criticized many times before: America's anti-Europeans believe that "Europe is committing demographic and economic suicide" because of the birthrate and economic regulations.  Besides, Europe is seen as "a post-Christian society" and "Muslims are filling Europe's demographic and spiritual void." Yawn.
Lexington concludes: "Curing global anti-Americanism primarily means repairing America's relations with the rest of the world; but it also means uprooting the anti-European weeds that have flourished in America in the past few years."