Mar 27

Amira Abase father ‘was at hate rally’

Hussen Abase blamed police over his daughter Amira's flight to ISIS-controlled Syria.

Moderate Islam: Hussen Abase clutches a teddy-bear as he appeals to his daughter Amira not to join ISIS.

A tabloid newspaper has alleged that the father of schoolgirl Amira Abase who joined IS in Syria chanted ‘Allahu Akbar’ at an Islamist rally.

In an exclusive, the Daily Mail claims Hussen Abase was caught on camera ‘at the head of an Islamist rally led by hate preacher Anjem Choudary and attended by Michael Adebolajo, the killer of soldier Lee Rigby’.

The paper is known for its sensationalist spin and sometimes inaccurate reporting, But Hussen Abase can be clearly seen in the footage of the rally in the paper’s report.

He is at the front of the rally behind a banner reading: ‘The followers of Mohammed will conquer America.’  He is waving and chanting as an American flag is burned.  At the rally, held in London in 2012, Anjem Choudary said Islam would take over the world.

Hussen Abase participated enthusiastically at a rally led by Anjem Choudary at which an American flag was burned.

Hussen Abase participated enthusiastically at a rally led by Anjem Choudary at which an American flag was burned.

Many of us, knowing the Islamic policy of Taqiya, or lying to advance Islam, have been sceptical when the families of young Muslims joining Islamic state protest that they had no idea why their son or daughter had done such a thing.

The BBC posted a video of Hussen Abase holding a teddy bear appealing for his daughter to return, saying he ‘suspected nothing’.  He led the appeals the three families made and blamed the police for not giving families a letter which might have prevented the girls from travelling to Syria.

He was also on ITV in a tearful appeal.

The Guardian reported Hussen Abase as saying: “The police neglected us, the school neglected us. It would have definitely alarmed me … 100% I would have stopped her. They did not warn us, they did not contact us at all.”

But he said nothing about his own involvement in fundamentalist Islam.

In a further report, the BBC carried extensive quotes from Mr Abase in February:

“We are depressed, and it’s very stressful,” he said while holding a teddy Amira had given her mother for Mother’s Day.

“The message we have for Amira is to get back home. We miss you. We cannot stop crying. Please think twice. Don’t go to Syria.”

He said his daughter had never spoken about an interest in the militant group with him.

“She doesn’t dare discuss something like this with us. She knows what the answer would be,” he said.

In a further direct appeal to his daughter, he said: “Remember how we love you. Your sister and brother cannot stop crying.”

Hussen Abase even hoodwinked the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, which said, at paragraph 24 of its report ‘Counter-Terrorism: Foreign Fighters:

‘We commend all the families which have spoken to the Committee during the course of this inquiry, namely Sally and Micheal Evans, Hussen Abase, Fahmida Aziz, and Sahima Begum, for their courage in speaking up. Not enough support is given to families by the Home Office. Greater counselling and support services should be offered to them.’

Hussen Abase is pictured here leaving the committee.

If someone like Hussen Abase can appear so convincingly moderate, how much more Islamist jihadist sentiment is concealed just under the surface of Muslim families in the UK?

 

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Mar 24

Consent Lessons for 11-Year-Olds

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan

Education secretary Nicky Morgan has commissioned new guidance to schools for giving lessons about consent and rape to 11-year-olds. The new guidelines will start after the Easter holidays.

Scheduled to be taught in PSHE classes, the new lessons are supposed to give children “a better understanding of the society around them” so they can make smart choices and stay safe.

In an online statement, the PSHEA said: “The key learning set out in this guidance is respecting the rights of others, communication, negotiation and consider[ing] the freedom and capacity of others to make choices.” The association also said that students would learn that sexual activity for those under the age of 16 was illegal.

Additionally, students will learn about whether or not consent is attainable when a person is drunk, and the issue of gay rape will also be added to the curriculum later this year. Many of the lesson plans involve situational ethics and encourage the student to discuss what is right or wrong in these circumstances. For example, one of the questions is: “What misconceptions about consent would an alien get if their only evidence was from pornography?”

The Government has given formal guidelines for the classes, saying that the topic should be broached “before young people are sexually active,” because it will be ineffective after that. The proposal made sure to mention how acknowledgment of sexually active young people is not the same as “encouraging underage sexual activity.”

Ms Morgan publicized the measures on International Women’s Day and stressed that the curriculum will be age appropriate and in line with British values. The goal is to give instructors the tools and confidence to teach these difficult topics.

These guidelines were introduced amid growing concerns for the safety of children, particularly girls. Rising numbers of child “sexting” and child exploitation cases in Rotherham and Oxford are just some of the issues being cited.

Writing in The Sunday Times, Ms Morgan stated: ‘Mothers at the school gates often tell me about their worries for their daughters. They tell me that on top of the usual stress of school life and teenage years, they want to know their girls are being taught what a healthy relationship looks like and how to say “no.”‘

However, other parents are concerned that these classes could put even more pressure on children to engage in sexual activity at a young age, causing an “erosion of childhood.”

Family Education Trust spokeswoman Sarah Carter disagreed with the proposed effectiveness lessons, saying: ‘I work with vulnerable teenagers who have been groomed and this is not going to protect them. This creates the idea that you will find yourself in this situation so make sure you give express consent.’

This curriculum is not mandatory, and the PSHE Association has expressed disapproval of the fact that Morgan has made a harder push for these classes to be required in all schools.

The 60-page guidelines contain eight suggested lessons for teachers. By the end of the course students will understand what sexual consent is and what constitutes a healthy relationship (significantly, however, students are not taught that it is marriage that constitutes a healthy sexual relationship). They will also be taught about pornography and rape. See this article in The Daily Telegraph for a summary of these eight suggested lessons.

Despite these efforts, many are concerned that ‘consent lessons’ will do virtually nothing to help children stay safe, particularly girls. In a rape situation the assailant is not going to desist simply because the person he is attacking does not give consent. That is why child exploitation is a problem in the first place. The lessons do not address the root of the problem, which is men who think it is acceptable to take advantage of a child or woman. Instead, all these lessons will accomplish will be to lower important the barriers of innocent children by prematurely introducing them to the disordered side of sexuality.

In the cases of sexual activity between school children, schools should do more to promote chastity. Just because children engage in underage sexual activity does not mean it is right or normal, even if the parties involved have both consented.

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Mar 23

Street preacher convicted

Michael Overd with his wife Rachel outside Taunton Magistrates Court in 2012.

Street preacher convicted.  Michael Overd with his wife Rachel outside Taunton Magistrates Court when he was acquitted in 2012.

A street preacher has been convicted over ‘homophobic’ sermons, the BBC reports.

Michael Overd was preaching in Taunton, Somerset, in June and July 2014.

He was cleared of a second similar charge and another of causing “racially-aggravated” harassment aimed at Muslims. During the case, Mr Overd told the judge he must be born again.

The charges were brought under the Public Order Act.

We were pleased to support Michael Overd when he faced similar charges and was acquitted at Taunton Magistrates Court in 2012.

Mr Overd, 50, was fined £200 and ordered to pay compensation of £250 and costs of £950 totalling £1,400 at Bristol Crown Court.

Sentencing, judge Shamim Qureshi told Mr Overd he “knew full well the power of words to hurt”.  We understand the Muslim judge came down from Birmingham to sit in the case, and it was when he referred to Christianity and Islam as joint Abrahamic faiths that Michael Overd urged him to repent and be born again.

He was told to pay £250 to his ‘victim’, Darren Chalmers.  Mr Overd said the judgement was “flawed” and told the judge he would have to “answer to the same God”.

After the failed case in 2012, the police began looking for complaints against the long-standing Taunton preacher again last year, appealing in a local newspaper for the public to record him making “offensive remarks”.  A number of witnesses said they could not remember what Mr Overd said, just that it was ‘offensive’.

Support for the principle of street preaching came from the Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Rev Donald Allister, who said we should have freedom to express our views, provided it were done in a Christian manner.

A campaign by the Christian Institute to remove the word ‘insulting’ from the Public Order Act was meant to stop preachers being prosecuted, but the police have just switched to charging them with ‘threatening and abusive’ behaviour instead.

ShamimQureshi

Judge Qureshi

Intriguingly, the judge had reserved judgement, which indicates he wanted to take advice from those higher up.

Judge Qureshi told the preacher he seemed to enjoy testing the laws on free speech to their limits.  He said: “In my view he enjoys coaxing people into asking him questions so that he can reply loudly into the microphone to answer them.

Mr Overd had “double standards”, the judge said, ‘believing he was right and everyone else was wrong’, according to the BBC, although that does not seem to indicate ‘double standards’, merely settled views.  The complainant, Darren Chalmers, appears to have contrary views to Mr Overd which are just as settled.

“He happily shouts out the negative points in any other religion,” said the judge, without acknowledging that the negative points in Islam are not very hard to find.

Asked after the case whether he would tone down his sermons, Mr Overd said: “I follow my Lord and leader, so I won’t tone down.”

Mr Overd had faced two charges of using threatening and abusive words, and a third of causing racially or religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress.  Only one charge succeeded.

We understand Michael Overd is being advised to appeal to the Crown Court.

PRAY: Thank God for Michael Overd and pray the Lord will bless him and grant District Judge Qureshi in the case repentance and faith in Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

 

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Mar 23

Is Allah Almighty God?

East London Mosque, Whitechapel, London E1 1JX

East London Mosque, Whitechapel, London E1 1JX

Islam is the fastest-growing religion in Britain. But who or what do Muslims worship? Is their “Allah”, an Arabic expression which means ‘the god’, the same being as the Lord God of the Bible?

Is Allah Almighty God?

Muslims certainly claim to worship the same god as Abraham did. They claim Allah’s continuity with the God of the Bible. And of course you will find politicians and multi-faith pundits also saying, ‘Christians and Muslims worship the same God!’ But is such a view tenable?

In around four minutes and by the grace of God we look at the scriptures in which the Father speaks of the Lord Jesus as his ’beloved son’ and where the Lord and his apostles confirmed his identity. We compare this evidence with that of the Quran, in which Allah denies having a son (a bit beneath his dignity, he says).

It is hard not to draw the obvious conclusion.  View the video for yourself.

This video was shot on location at the East London Mosque in Whitechapel.

 

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Mar 20

Christianity in the Face of ISIS

As reports of ISIS’ activity have increased, the stories have become more and more discouraging. But despite the atrocities being perpetrated by these terrorists, God is still sovereign over all:

Isaiah 51:8 For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.

Below are two stories showing that some good can come from the horror.

Many have read about the 21 supposedly Egyptian Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS in late February. However, the story of one of those men has not been widely publicised.

This Chadian man, middle, converted to Christianity after seeing the faith of the other men.

This Chadian man, middle, converted to Christianity after seeing the faith of the other men.

Of the twenty-one Christians that were beheaded, only twenty of these men were Egyptian and already Christians.

Many, seeing the pictures, would have been puzzled by the presence of a black man amongst them. This man, a citizen of Chad, was not a Christian but he had been taken for one by the terrorists.

As he watched the Coptic Christians being martyred for their faith, he was convicted of his own lack of faith. When the terrorist reached him and demanded that he reject Jesus Christ, the man said: “Their God is my God.”

He was then executed like his Christian brothers. We do not know how this story emerged, but Patheos News reports, “the joy in this story is that 21 martyrs to Christ entered heaven that day.”

This man was kidnapped along with twenty other Christians, and could easily have denied Christ. But the faith of the twenty other men convinced him he was lost without Christ, just as the thief in Luke 23 was convicted of his sin at Jesus’ crucifixion:

Luke 23:39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

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Mar 10

Scottish registrars given ‘conscience clause’

The Scottish Parliament chamber

The Scottish Parliament chamber

The Scottish Government has given registrars a conscience clause not to take part in ‘gay marriage’ ceremonies.

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 provides that local authorities must provide a registrar to conduct a same-sex ‘marriage’ but does not say that every individual registrar is obliged to participate.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government told the homosexual website PinkNews.co.uk: “Each local authority must provide an authorised registrar to conduct a marriage or civil partnership in the area chosen by the couple, regardless of that couple’s sexual orientation. It is a matter for local authorities to manage the provision of that service.

“There is no opt-out for individual registrars included in the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014.

“However, we have been clear that we expect local authorities to handle with sensitivity any registrar who objects to carrying out a same sex marriage on the basis of their religion or belief.”

Naturally, if the expression does not fall too awkwardly, the pro-gay National Secular Society is upset.  It’s homosexual president, Terry Sanderson, complained: “The Scottish Government is putting local authorities in an invidious position of having to decide individually whether it is OK for religious registrars to discriminate against gay couples.

“There should be a clear policy to guide them and that policy should be that gay couples are entitled to equal treatment from all registrars.”

But Sanderson goes on to argue that the conscience of Christian registrars is increasingly being supported by the European Court of Human Rights.

Lilian Ladele

Lilian Ladele

Referring to the case of Lilian Ladele, who was sacked by the London Borough of Islington after she voiced concerns about participating in civil partnerships, he declared: “The court said that any policy aimed at restricting religious opt outs should have been agreed before any case is brought.

“Local authorities will have to make a very strong case for not allowing religious registrars to refuse to even administer same-sex marriages, let alone carry out ceremonies. If Lillian Ladele brought her case today, she would probably win.”

Indeed, a Christian registrar who was previously dismissed by Central Bedfordshire Council after refusing to conduct same-sex weddings was reinstated last year.

Margaret Jones, a senior deputy registrar at Bedford register office, was sacked by her employers after confirming that she would be unwilling to conduct same-sex weddings on the basis of her Christian beliefs.

Margaret Jones

Margaret Jones

However, Ms Jones was offered her job back after an internal appeal hearing in August last year (2014) found her employer had not taken a “balanced view” of her beliefs.

The tribunal overturned the decision by Central Bedfordshire Council, noting Equality and Human Rights Commission guidance “[encourages] employers and employees to find reasonable solutions to religion or belief issues at work”.

That outcome also had the National Secular Society convulsed by impotent fury, writing to the Council asking it to ‘clarify’ its position regarding employees’ requests to opt out of part of their job requirements.

Margaret Jones declined the job reinstatement offer, but Stephen Evans, National Secular Society campaigns manager, raged: “Discriminatory acts have a moral significance beyond the deprivation of the relevant service and the fact that other registrars could conduct the ceremonies is irrelevant.”

This may be no more than a faint glimmer of good news, but welcome as the homosexual juggernaut rumbles on.

 

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Mar 10

Protect sex-ed from parents says health board

nhsglasgowA Scottish health board has said sex education needs protection from parents.

Dumfries and Galloway health board has voiced its opposition to a Scottish Government plan to allow teachers and students to opt out of lessons on equal marriage and same-sex relationships.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde,  Scotland’s largest health board, is also opposed to new draft guidance for sex education lessons that would allow teachers or pupils to opt out on the grounds of ‘conscience’.

In a submission to ministers, the board said: “It is extremely concerning that teaching staff would be provided an opportunity to refuse to participate in this particular aspect of the curriculum …  There are other areas of the taught curriculum where ‘conscience’ may be a factor – e.g. modern studies or religious education – where no option to withdraw is provided.”

The Glasgow & Clyde board argued that staff who opt out from sex education lessons on the grounds of ‘conscience’ may only need what they described as ‘training’ to overcome their objections.

Dumfries and Galloway health board warned against allowing pupils to opt out of lessons using a ‘conscience clause’, arguing, without any evidence, that this ‘could lead’ to ‘intimidation’ by parents of their children and the ‘entire basis’ of sex education being ‘undermined’ in Scotland.

“As we move forward into an era where same-sex marriage is permitted, there may be significant campaigns by parents in relation to (sex education) which alludes to same‐sex unions and there is a need to protect programmes from activities of this sort,” Dumfries and Galloway Health Board said.

Their comments indicate why sex educators and pro-homosexual teachers are prone to introducing amoral topics without telling parents in advance.  Parents are regarded in sex education circles as a barrier to the sort of indoctrination the sex educators want to carry out.

Dumfries & Galloway Health Board HQ, taken by Darrin Antrobus

Dumfries & Galloway Health Board headquarters building.Taken by Darrin Antrobus

According to the homosexual website PinkNews, health chiefs also protested against the guidance recommending pupils learn about “the values of a stable and loving family life”, arguing this was insensitive to those youngsters who did not grow up in such an environment.

It gets worse.  Some health boards even objected to the phrase “both sexes” being used in the guidance, stating this was “problematic” for youngsters ‘who are transgender’.

In response, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is currently updating its existing guidance on the Conduct of Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education in Scottish Schools document and as part of that has sought views from various organisations and individuals.

“We are considering carefully the comments we have received and will publish an updated version in due course.”

 

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Mar 06

Is Islamic State un-Islamic?

L - R Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum

L – R Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum

The rise of ‘Islamic State’, as they call themselves, continues to concern the kind of non-practising, secularised Muslims you find at the BBC.

Razia Iqbal, a journalist employed by BBC News, wrote on the BBC website last week about the London schoolgirls Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum absconding to Islamic State in Syria.

Despite Aqsa Mahmood, who flew to Syria to marry an IS fighter last year, being known to MI5, a Twitter conversation with Shamima Begum appears not to have been followed up, leading to accusations the three girls were failed by our security services.

PROMISING FUTURE

Razia Iqbal writes: ‘Their names are important to me, because they focus my mind on them as individuals, as young girls, with a promising future ahead of them, with friends, siblings and parents.’

They had ‘a promising future ahead of them’.  Which begs several questions:  What other kind of promising future is there than the sort which lies ahead of you?  And exactly what were Kadiza, Amira and Shamima going to do?  Go to university perhaps?  Become secularised there?  Become radicalised?  Become BBC journalists?  Get married?  Travel to San Francisco?  Does Razia know?

Razia Iqbal

Razia Iqbal

She went on: ‘A troubling and growing sisterhood is being cultivated – it appears an estimated 200 to 300 European Muslim girls have made the same journey as Kadiza, Shamima and Amira.  Why? What for? The term jihadi bride is particularly egregious, but there is some truth to it.’

So by ‘promising future’ Razia meant anything but going to join a seemingly romantic band of outlaws and bearing their children.

And of course, Islamic State does need women to build its legitimacy – at the moment the ‘State’ part of its title is aspirational – and bear children to its fighters.  These are portrayed by IS in ways appealing to young girls, in fact as ‘eye candy’, according to this article on the BBC website.

Ms Iqbal concluded:

The only counter-narrative that might appeal to potential further recruits, is if girls such as Kadiza, Sultana, Shamima Begum and Amira Abase find a way of getting back to their lives in London, and tell the truth about how un-Islamic IS is; how unromantic it is to be part of a murderous cult and how unappealing it is to give up on your self, and your individuality.’

THE QURAN MANDATES FIGHTING AND WAR

So in what way or ways is Islamic State ‘un-Islamic?’  Razia Iqbal fails to tell us.  Perhaps for her it is the emphasis, to put it mildly, on grabbing land and killing whoever does not share their particular Islamic beliefs.  But the Quran includes, according to one estimate, some 109 verses mandating open-ended violence against unbelievers and/or ‘liberating’ towns from the ‘oppression’ of non-Muslim rule.  For example:

Surah 2:191. And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you
out; … 216. Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.

Aqsa Mahmood left Scotland last year to marry a jihadist and encouraged Shemima Begum to follow her.

Aqsa Mahmood left Scotland last year to marry an IS jihadist and used Twitter to encourage Shemima Begum to follow her.

Surah 4:74. Let those fight in the cause of Allah Who sell the life of this world for the hereafter. To him who fighteth in the cause of Allah,- whether he is slain or gets victory – Soon shall We give him a reward of great (value).  75. And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!”  76. Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject Faith Fight in the cause of Evil: So fight ye against the friends of Satan: feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan.

Surah 5:33. The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;

Islamic State seems to be following most of that, and going in the footsteps of what we know of the rampaging, looting and raping carried out by the founder of their faith.  There are a few verses of peace in the Quran, so it is possible to be Muslim and peaceful, but it is much easier and more faithful to the Quran to be Muslim and warlike.

Indeed, the only sure route to paradise for a Muslim is to be killed in the way of jihad.  This doctrine gives jihadists – and by extension their wives and families – great status in Islam.

It is true that Christian martyrs are held in high esteem in the true faith, but they have to be standing for Christ, not waging war.  Moreover, every Christian, everyone who confesses that Jesus Christ has died for his sins will be with him in paradise.  No ifs, no buts.  And Allah won’t be there.  As the Apostle Peter told the Jews in Jerusalem:

Acts 2:21  … whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord (that’s Jesus) shall be saved.

Watch our short YouTube video ‘Is Allah Almighty God

THE EXAMPLE OF MOHAMMED

Mohammed is set up as an example for Muslims to follow.  The ‘Hadith’, which are stories accepted among Muslims about Mohammed’s life, record this episode:

“When Muhammad saw Hamzah he said, ‘If Allah gives me victory over the Quraysh at any time, I shall mutilate thirty of their men!’ When the Muslims saw the rage of the Prophet they said, ‘By Allah, if we are victorious over them, we shall mutilate them in a way which no Arab has ever mutilated anybody.” (Al-Tabari, vol. 7, p. 133; cf. Ibn Ishaq 387) The Quraysh were Mohammed’s own tribe who claimed to be descended from Abraham’s son Ishmael and who ruled Mecca.)

So whether or not Islamic State is ‘romantic’, and that will lie in the eye of the beholder, it certainly is Islamic.  One can understand that Razia would want to tell her BBC bosses and readers the opposite, because that is what they want to hear, but it doesn’t make it any less of a lie.

George Arney

Razia Iqbal is sadly separated from journalist George Arney

As to becoming a ‘jihadi bride’, it is much more Islamic for a young woman to become the wife of a Muslim jihadist and bear his children than to pursue ‘self and individuality':

The Muslim website kilafah.com says:  ‘The role of the Muslim woman is clearly defined and outlined in Islam. In short her primary role is with the upbringing of her children and in being a dutiful wife.  She is encouraged to carry out all the duties she takes up with devotion and enthusiasm.’

RAZIA IS UN-ISLAMIC

One thing we do know is that Razia Iqbal is un-Islamic.  Her mode of dress let alone the lack of any head covering are in stark contrast to the modest Muslim attire of Kadiza, Amira and Shamima.  One top of that, she actually married an unbeliever, a ‘kaffir’, fellow BBC World Service journalist George Arney, from whom she is now sadly separated.

Razia might make a Wikipedia list of Muslims in entertainment and the media, but there is very little for a real practising Muslim to identify with or respect in her.

If one point of the article was to reach out to girls about to be radicalised into absconding to join Islamic State and stop them, the stark truth is that it will fail.  A fifty-something westernised pseudo-Muslim like Razia Iqbal has nothing in common with girls like Kadiza, Amira and Shamima and nothing to say to them.

It is going to be down to MI5 to stop them after all.

Feb 28

ISIS Abducts 285 Syrian Christians

The number of Christians kidnapped by ISIS has risen every day since their offensive began on Monday.

The number of Christians kidnapped by ISIS has risen every day since their offensive began on Monday.

Terrorist group ISIS has abducted as many as 285 Christians from Assyrian villages beginning on Monday, 22 February.

Originally estimated to be between 70 and 100, the number of those kidnapped has risen every day since the attack began.

CNN reported Thursday that the number has reached 262 Christians kidnapped, and the BBC offers this newest report of 285 kidnapped.

Men, women, children, and the elderly were captured as the militants burned and looted their homes. Most of the captives are said to have come from the Assyrian villages of Tal Shamiram, located 50 miles southwest of the Hassakeh provincial capital of Qamishli, another city to the northeast.

Hassakeh borders Turkey and Iraq, and while it is mainly Kurdish, many Arab, Assyrian and Armenian Christians live in the province.

Over 3,000 people have been displaced since the early morning raid on Monday forced Syrian villagers out of their homes. ISIS has been targeting Christians for months, trying to force them to convert to Islam, pay a religious tax (called a jizya), or be put to death.

The motive behind these kidnappings is not yet clear, but one correspondent indicated that these captives might be used as part of a prisoner swap with Kurdish forces.

While Isis has not affirmed the kidnappings, photos have circulated online of ISIS’ fighters using machine guns and looking at maps. These pictures were reportedly taken near Tel Tamr, the area in which the abductions happened.

The captured people have been in touch with relatives, and people in Sweden, Germany, Canada, and the United States are worried for the safety of their family members.

Osama Edward of the Sweden-based Assyrian Human Rights Network, who has relatives in the area, told the BBC that his wife’s elderly aunt and her cousin were among the hostages.

“My wife tried to call her cousin’s house and there was somebody who picked up the phone and said: ‘This is not Akram’s house. This is the Islamic State’s house.’”

One Assyrian woman now living in Beirut has been trying to find out what has happened to her parents, brother and his family.

“Land lines have been cut, their mobiles are closed,” she told the Associated Press. “Have they been slaughtered? Are they still alive? We’re searching for any news.”

“I cannot do anything for them but pray,” she said on the telephone. She has not revealed her identity so to protect her relatives’ lives.

Sharlet and Romel David, another couple in Modesto, California, said they have twelve family members in Syria who were among those captured by ISIS.

“We pray, we pray all the time,” said Romel.

“What we’ve heard is it was like a sea of black uniforms marching through all the villages, burning down the churches, desecrating the crosses and wreaking havoc.”

Sharlet’s 59-year-old brother left California two years ago and moved back to Syria in an attempt to bring his family back to the United States. But he was unsuccessful in bringing them back, and now his family is being held captive by ISIS.

In response to this attack, a prominent Christian Syrian leader called for a US-led coalition to aid the Christian and Kurdish fighters to oust ISIS.

In January of this year, the Kurds attacked terrorists with the help of international air strikes. This was a four-month siege that eventually resulted in those terrorists leaving the border of Turkey.

Bassam Ishak, President of the Syriac National Council of Syria, said that foreign aid is needed to decidedly get ISIS out of their country.

Ishak’s appeal to stop the Islamic State advancement has been echoed by Syriac Catholic Archbishop Jacques Hindo of Hassakeh.

“I wish to say quite clearly that we have the feeling of being abandoned into the hands of those Daesh [the Arabic acronym for Islamic State],” Archbishop Hindo told the Vatican’s Fides news service.

“American bombers flew over the area several times, but without taking action,” he said. U.S analysts have confirmed this report. No military airstrikes against IS have been made in the Hassakeh region.

The area is currently being defended by local military units, but they lack sufficient arms to launch an attack. They said they are currently seeking air support to fight the extremists.

This civil war has been going on for years, and many of these Assyrians do not have basic necessities like food, water, and clothing.

“We have 100 Assyrian families who have taken refuge in Hassakeh, but they have received no assistance either from the Red Crescent or from Syrian government aid workers, perhaps because they are Christians. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is nowhere to be seen,” Archbishop Hindo told Fides.

The cry for help by Archbishop Hindo, Ishak and other Christian leaders follows a church burning and kidnapping spree that began on Monday.

Osama Edward fears that these Christians might face the same fate as the 21 Egyptian Christians who were beheaded earlier this month.

In Libya, ISIS fighters were filmed beheading 21 Egyptian Christians. The militants were dressed in black, the Christians in orange jumpsuits. After taking their captives to a beach, the ISIS militants forced the Christians to kneel before beheading them all.

In addition to the kidnappings, ISIS also engaged with Kurdish and Christian militiamen while it seized several villages in Syria.

ISIS has also released a video showing their destruction of artifacts in the lands under their control. The video showed men smashing ancient Mesopotamian artifacts with sledgehammers in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

This video only adds to the mounting fears surrounding the fate of the abducted Christians and other minorities targeted by ISIS’ cruelty.

Osama Edward said that these terrorists are wiping Assyrian heritage in Mosul, and at the same time wiping them geographically from the face of the Earth,” the director of the Assyrian Network for Human Rights in Syria said.

By systematically destroying Assyrian heritage, ISIS is eliminating what it views as heresy. It is also believed that they are acquiring and selling ancient artifacts to fund their cruel campaign.

The Assyrian Christians are an ancient race, and their presence in the area goes back to the ancient Mesopotamians.

Christians are believed to have constituted about 10% of Syria’s 22 million people before the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began almost four years ago.

Assyrians, of whom there were about 40,000 in Syria, are Nestorian Christians and speak Syriac, a form of Aramaic, the language of Christ.

The largest concentration of Assyrians in Syria is in Hassakeh province, but there are also smaller communities in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus.

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Feb 26

Still Time to Act on 3-Parent Babies

3 parent babiesAlthough the UK Parliament has now officially approved the creation of 3-parent babies, concerned citizens can still work to block the new measures at the implementation stage.

It will be up to the fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), to decide whether a treatment can go ahead on a case-by-case basis. Consequently, UK citizens opposed to the new measures can still make a difference by writing to their MPs. Our lawmakers can put pressure on the HFEA to think through a number of problems and ramifications before allowing the practice to become widespread. Some of the problems the HFEA needs to wrestle with before allowing widespread implementation have been helpfully summarized on the CitizenGo website and are quoted below:

 

  • None of the proposed techniques represents a cure for mitochondrial disease which will continue to appear randomly at birth. These techniques would only be applied to families already identified as being at risk of conceiving a baby with mitochondrial disease.
  • The current proposals represent in no way whatsoever attempts to cure the condition in existing babies, but rather involve the creation of a completely new kind of human embryo whose genetic composition would be determined by using material from two maternal progenitor sources.
  • The woman donating the healthy mitochondria would provide identifiable genetic material – no matter how minimal – to the embryo produced and the offspring would (at least in the case of one technique) have three biological parents.
  • The proposed techniques are unequivocally germline genetic modification (unlike post-natal therapies such as blood or organ donation) and as such, changes made would be passed on to future generations with completely unknown consequences.
  • At least one technique is in effect a cloning technique, thereby opening the door to full reproductive cloning, which is universally prohibited.
  • Serious safety issues associated with the mitochondrial transfer and modification of the mammalian egg have already been identified in published studies. The last time one of the techniques was tried in humans, it resulted in an abortion and two stillbirths.
  • Animal experiments in this field have shown decreased survival, inhibited growth and other horrifying abnormalities.
  • A further consideration is harm to the women used as egg donors, as the procedure requires aggressive ovarian stimulation, which can lead amongst other complications to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome which can be fatal.
  • Modification of human eggs or early embryos for procreation using heritable interventions is widely prohibited in such international declarations and conventions as:
  • The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights which indicates in Article 24 that ‘germ-line interventions’ could be considered as practices which are ‘contrary to human dignity”.
  • The Council of Europe’s Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine which indicates in Article 13 that “an intervention seeking to modify the human genome may only be undertaken for preventive, diagnostic or therapeutic purposes and only if its aim is not to introduce any modification in the genome of any descendants”.
  • The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union which indicates in Article 3 that “In the fields of medicine and biology (…) the prohibition of eugenic practices, in particular those aiming at the selection of persons, must be respected”.

BACKGROUND

On 4th February, Christian Voice reported on the recent vote, in which 382 MPs voted in favour and 128 against the practice of creating 3-parent babies. Those voting against represented the views of the public, who are opposed. The amendment still has to go through the House of Lords, but it will most likely not face much opposition.

This law will become an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 and will come into effect in October 2015. Human trials can then begin immediately and the first babies could be born next autumn.

Oocyte modification, commonly called ‘three-parent in vitro fertilization (IVF),’ is the process by which damaged mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from the woman’s egg are replaced with healthy mtDNA of a female donor, thus allowing a child to be born with healthy mitochondria. Because the procedure replaces an egg’s defective mitochondrial DNA with healthy mDNA from a female donor’s egg, it essentially creates a baby with DNA from three people: the male and two females.

Developed by British scientists, this currently illegal procedure is aimed to prevent debilitating health conditions such as liver and brain deterioration and muscular dystrophy.

As many as 2,500 British women could undergo this treatment, allowing them to have biological children who do not inherit their mitochondrial diseases. Despite these benefits, many doctors and lawmakers oppose this controversial procedure on both ethical and health grounds.

Jacob Rees, an MP who voted against the amendment, said: ‘You are not curing somebody of something; you are creating someone different. People have compared it to blood transfusions. That is simply wrong.’

The procedure can potentially prevent a child from being born with a mitochondrial disease, but it cannot cure children already born with a disease. Much of the time, mothers are not aware that they are passing on mitochondrial diseases until the first child is born.

While 1 in 200 with some form of a mitochondrial disorder, only 1 in 10,000 babies are severely affected by this. As a result, not many births would be involved with the procedure.

The potential of creating three-parent babies has received backlash from several churches.

Auxiliary Bishop John Sherrington of Westminster stated on behalf of the bishops that human life should not be used as ‘disposable material,’ but must be respected and protected. He said further that while the ‘Church recognises the suffering that mitochondrial diseases bring and hopes that alternative methods of treatment can be found, it remains opposed on principle to these procedures where the destruction of human embryos is part of the process.’

Sherrington added elsewhere that it is ‘extraordinary that a license should be sought for a radical new technique affecting future generations without first conducting a clinical trial.’

Rev. Dr. Brenden McCarthy, the Church of England’s national advisor on medical issues, contested that more research and debate was needed before the procedure moved forward.

‘The Archbishops Council, which monitors this issue, does not feel that there has been sufficient scientific study or informed consultation into the ethics, safety and efficacy of mitochondria transfer.’

Some scientists have also raised concerns. Stuart Newman, professor of cell biology and anatomy at New York Medical College said he was ‘very disappointed’ in the vote. He described the three-parent baby procedure as one that essentially creates a human being from ‘bits and pieces of cells from different people.’

‘Scientifically, it you try to put together an organism from fragments of cells, it’s going to mostly not work. Frequently it will look normal, but there will be things wrong with it. That has been shown experimentally.

‘It is going to lead to children with conditions which, in some cases, will probably be worse than the conditions they are trying to avoid.’

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