Saudi to behead Lebanese convicted of witchcraft: lawyer

Saudi Arabia is a country run by cavemen.

Saudi to behead Lebanese convicted of witchcraft: lawyer

A Lebanese man sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia on charges of witchcraft is due to be beheaded this week, his lawyer said on Wednesday, urging officials and rights groups to intervene on his behalf.”Last night we got news through unofficial channels that Ali Sabat would be beheaded within 48 hours,” May el-Khansa, Sabat’s attorney in Beirut told AFP.

“I have since been contacting Lebanese officials, including President Michel Sleiman and Lebanon’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia to appeal his case.”

Sabat was sentenced to death in November of last year by a Saudi court for practicing witchcraft.

He was arrested in May 2008 by the religious police in Medina, where he was on a pilgrimage before returning to his native Lebanon.

The case against him was brought after he gave advice and made predictions on Lebanese television.

Khansa said Lebanon’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia was in contact with Sabat and someone from the embassy had visited him on Wednesday in his jail cell.

“It is very important that we save the life of this one person,” she said. “He is not a criminal.”

She added that Sabat’s family was in shock and that his mother was seriously ill with doctors saying she could die anytime.

Rights groups have expressed concern about Sabat’s case and similar ones pending in Saudi Arabia and have accused Saudi courts of sanctioning a literal witch hunt by the religious police.

Saudi Arabia has no clear legal definition on the charge of witchcraft and judges are given discretionary power in determining what constitutes a crime and what sentence to impose.

In November 2007, Mustafa Ibrahim, an Egyptian working as a pharmacist in Saudi Arabia was beheaded after he was found guilty of sorcery.

Quebec shows the way

Quebec shows the way

In May 2005, the province of Quebec showed leadership when its legislature voted unanimously to pass a motion against permitting shariah law to be used in the province’s legal system.

Moving the historic motion in the Quebec National Assembly, Muslim member Fatima Houda-Pepin said, “The application of shariah in Canada is part of a strategy to isolate the Muslim community, so it will submit to an archaic vision of Islam … These demands are being pushed by groups in the minority that are using the Charter of Rights to attack the foundation of our democratic institutions.” Four months later, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty would ban the use of all religion-based tribunals in the province, thus ending all hopes Islamists had of creating a beachhead for shariah law in North America.

Now, Quebec has taken another bold and courageous step to stall the inroads being made by Islamists in Quebec society: In a bill that could soon become law, Quebec will refuse all government services, including education and non-emergency health care, to Muslim women wearing face masks (known as the niqab or burka). Jean Charest, the Liberal Premier, said the bill is aimed at “drawing a line” to demonstrate that gender equality is a paramount Quebec value.

As a Muslim Canadian, I am thrilled at this development, and welcome the rescue of all Muslim-Canadian women who were being blackmailed, bullied and brainwashed into wearing attire that has no place in either Islam or the 21st century.

Muslim women — my wife, mother, sisters, daughters and friends — were deeply angered that cowardly Islamists were using their faces and heads as the flag of Islamism. Their faces were never the property of hateful, joyless men who wish to consign women into dark, mobile prisons. If faces of Muslim women are a source of sexual tension to these men, it is these men who must shut their eyes and lock themselves in permanent prisons.

The burka is not just a piece of clothing: It is a symbol of Islamofascism and a rejection of the West and its cherished value of gender equality. The cruel reality is that the burka implicitly castigates women as a source of evil ( a’wra), condemning them to a life of isolation away from the gaze of men.

Beyond that, it is important to understand the more practical reasons as to why Quebec is right in listening to the call of liberal and progressive Muslims who asked for a ban on the burka:

- Security: As news from around the world shows, thieves and terrorists are using burka disguises to evade checkpoints, hide explosives and commit crimes.

- Safety: Anyone who has tried on a burka knows that it provides minimal peripheral vision. Walking is hard enough. Would you want to be on the highway with drivers whose perspective is constrained by such a human tent?

- Health: Doctors have provided evidence that vitamin D deficiency, which is associated with serious health problems, can result when a face-covering blocks all incoming sunlight.

To the Islamists and their apologists who argue that Canada’s position on the niqab should be based on Canadian values of equal citizenship, rather than assimilative French values, I simply say: Canadian values are themselves based on French and British values. They did not fall from the sky. Furthermore, if importing ideas from France is so suspect, then smuggling the values of tribal monarchies and theocracies into Canada is far worse. We would rather embrace France’s equality than the institutionalized misogyny and polygamy of Iran and Saudi Arabia.

- Tarek Fatah is the author of The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism, which will be published by McClelland & Stewart in October 2010.

TV Presenter Gets Death Sentence For ‘Sorcery’

This would be laughable if it wasn’t for the fact that they’re going to kill someone. Talk about a retarded religion; and Muslims wonder why their religion gets mocked so often.

TV presenter gets death sentence for ‘sorcery’

Amnesty International is calling on Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to stop the execution of a Lebanese man sentenced to death for “sorcery.”In a statement released Thursday, the international rights group condemned the verdict and demanded the immediate release of Ali Hussain Sibat, former host of a popular call-in show that aired on Sheherazade, a Beirut based satellite TV channel.

According to his lawyer, Sibat, who is 48 and has five children, would predict the future on his show and give out advice to his audience.

The attorney, May El Khansa, who is in Lebanon, tells CNN her client was arrested by Saudi Arabia’s religious police (known as the Mutawa’een) and charged with sorcery while visiting the country in May 2008. Sibat was in Saudi Arabia to perform the Islamic religious pilgrimage known as Umra.

Sibat was then put on trial. In November 2009, a court in the Saudi city of Medina found Sibat guilty and sentenced him to death.

According to El Khansa, Sibat appealed the verdict. The case was taken up by the Court of Appeal in the Saudi city of Mecca on the grounds that the initial verdict was “premature.”

El Khansa tells CNN that the Mecca appeals court then sent the case back to the original court for reconsideration, stipulating that all charges made against Sibat needed to be verified and that he should be given a chance to repent.

On March 10, judges in Medina upheld their initial verdict, meaning Sibat is once again sentenced to be executed.

“The Medina court refused the sentence of the appeals court,” said El Khansa, adding her client will appeal the verdict once more.

Sibat’s wife, Samira Rahmoon told CNN she has not seen her husband and has no idea of his health.

“I haven’t seen my husband in two years. I don’t know if he’s eating. I don’t know if he’s healthy. I don’t know how he looks. This has been very difficult. I don’t even have enough money to be able to travel to Saudi Arabia to see him,” she said.

“I don’t have anything against the Saudi government. I just want to see my husband again.”

The case has been covered extensively by local media.

According to Arab News, an English language Saudi daily newspaper, after the most recent verdict was issued, the judges in Medina issued a statement expressing that Sibat deserved to be executed for having continually practiced black magic on his show, adding that this sentence would deter others from practicing sorcery.

Arab News reports that the case will now return to the appeals court in Mecca.

Scientologists try to block ‘intolerant’ German feature film

Scientologists try to block ‘intolerant’ German feature film

The following correction was printed in the Guardian’s Corrections and clarifications column, Monday 15 March 2010

Claus von Stauffenberg was shot for his failed attempt to assassinate Hitler and remove the Nazi party from power in 1944, not hanged as we say below.

Germany’s state broadcaster is locked in a row with the Church of Scientology which wants to block an upcoming feature film that depicts the controversial organisation as totalitarian and unethical

Bis Nichts Mehr Bleibt, or Until Nothing Remains, dramatises the account of a German family torn apart by its associations with Scientology. A young married couple joins the organisation but as the wife gets sucked ever more deeply into the group, her husband, who has donated much of his money to it, decides to leave. In the process he loses contact with his young daughter who, like his wife, is being educated by Scientology instructors.

Scientology leaders have accused Germany’s primary public TV network, ARD, of creating in top secret a piece of propaganda that sets out to undermine the group, and have demanded to see it before it is broadcast.

The 90-minute film reflects an unease in Germany about the organisation, which boasts several thousand members across the country and has its headquarters in central Berlin. The church is considered anti-constitutional by its critics.

Tension reached its peak during the making of Valkyrie, the 2008 film about the plot to assassinate Hitler, when opponents said Scientology leaders had engineered the placing of Tom Cruise, its most prominent member, in the role as Nazi resistance fighter Claus von Stauffenberg, in order to win German supporters. The organisation dismissed the claim.

The filming of Valkyrie sparked numerous clashes between the filmmakers and the government, which initially prevented them from filming on several historical sites, including the Bendler Block where Stauffenberg was hanged, due in part to Cruise’s association with Scientology. The ban was eventually lifted.

According to the makers of Until Nothing Remains, the €2.5m (£2.3 m) drama, which is due to air in a prime-time slot at the end of March, is based on the true story of Heiner von Rönns, who left Scientology and suffered the subsequent break-up of his family.

Scientology officials have said the film is false and intolerant. At a preview screening in Hamburg members distributed flyers in which the filmmakers were accused of seeking to “create a mood of intolerance and discrimination against a religious community”.

Jürg Stettler, a spokesman for Scientology in Germany said: “The truth is precisely the opposite of that which the ARD is showing.” The organisation is investigating legal means to prevent the programme from being broadcast.

Stettler said the organisation was planning its own film to “spread our own side of the story”.

ARD’s programme director Volker Herres has dismissed the accusations, saying the aim of the drama is to reveal the truth about the organisation.

“We’re not dealing here with a religion, rather with an organisation that has completely different motives,” he said. “Scientology is about power, business, and building up a network. Its lessons are pure science fiction, it’s no religion, no church, no sect.”

The film team said it had been “bombarded” with phone calls and emails from the organisation during production. The head of the Southwest German broadcasting organisation, Carl Bergengruen who was involved in the project, said Scientology had “tried via various means to discover details about the film” and that the film crew was even tailed by a Scientology representative.

“We are fearful that the organisation will try to use all legal means to try to stop the film being shown,” he said.

Thanks to JT Hundley for the link.

Top home-school texts dismiss Darwin

Top home-school texts dismiss Darwin

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Home-school mom Susan Mule wishes she hadn’t taken a friend’s advice and tried a textbook from a popular Christian publisher for her 10-year-old’s biology lessons.Mule’s precocious daughter Elizabeth excels at science and has been studying tarantulas since she was 5. But she watched Elizabeth’s excitement turn to confusion when they reached the evolution section of the book from Apologia Educational Ministries, which disputed Charles Darwin’s theory.

“I thought she was going to have a coronary,” Mule said of her daughter, who is now 16 and taking college courses in Houston. “She’s like, ‘This is not true!’”

Christian-based materials dominate a growing home-school education market that encompasses more than 1.5 million students in the U.S. And for most home-school parents, a Bible-based version of the Earth’s creation is exactly what they want. Federal statistics from 2007 show 83 percent of home-schooling parents want to give their children “religious or moral instruction.””The majority of home-schoolers self-identify as evangelical Christians,” said Ian Slatter, a spokesman for the Home School Legal Defense Association. “Most home-schoolers will definitely have a sort of creationist component to their home-school program.”

Those who don’t, however, often feel isolated and frustrated from trying to find a textbook that fits their beliefs.

Two of the best-selling biology textbooks stack the deck against evolution, said some science educators who reviewed sections of the books at the request of The Associated Press.

“I feel fairly strongly about this. These books are promulgating lies to kids,” said Jerry Coyne, an ecology and evolution professor at the University of Chicago.

‘History of Life’
The textbook publishers defend their books as well-rounded lessons on evolution and its shortcomings. One of the books doesn’t attempt to mask disdain for Darwin and evolutionary science.

“Those who do not believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God will find many points in this book puzzling,” says the introduction to “Biology: Third Edition” from Bob Jones University Press. “This book was not written for them.”

The textbook delivers a religious ultimatum to young readers and parents, warning in its “History of Life” chapter that a “Christian worldview … is the only correct view of reality; anyone who rejects it will not only fail to reach heaven but also fail to see the world as it truly is.”

When the AP asked about that passage, university spokesman Brian Scoles said the sentence made it into the book because of an editing error and will be removed from future editions.

The size of the business of home-school texts isn’t clear because the textbook industry is fragmented and privately held publishers don’t give out sales numbers. Slatter said home-school material sales reach about $1 billion annually in the U.S.

Publishers are well aware of the market, said Jay Wile, a former chemistry professor in Indianapolis who helped launch the Apologia curriculum in the early 1990s.

“If I’m planning to write a curriculum, and I want to write it in a way that will appeal to home-schoolers, I’m going to at least find out what my demographic is,” Wile said.

continues…

Thanks to JT Hundley for the link.

New Zealand woman sells souls to highest bidder

New Zealand woman sells souls to highest bidder

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The rare spirits that went under the gavel at a recent online auction in New Zealand weren’t aged brandies or hard-to-find liqueurs.

Instead, two glass vials purportedly containing the ghosts of two dead people sold for $2,830 New Zealand dollars ($1,983) at an auction that ended Monday night.

The “ghosts” were put up for bidding by Avie Woodbury from the southern city of Christchurch. She said they were captured in her house and stored in glass vials with stoppers and dipped in holy water, which she says “dulls the spirits’ energy.”

She said they were the spirits of an old man who lived in the house during the 1920s, and a powerful, disruptive little girl who turned up after a session with a spirit-calling Ouija board. Since an exorcism at the property last July led to their capture, there has been no further spooky activity in the house, she said.

The auction attracted more than 214,000 page views and dozens of questions before the winning bid, Trademe auction site spokesman Paul Ford said Tuesday. The name of the winning bidder was not released.

Woodbury said that once an “exorcist’s fee” has been deducted, the proceeds of the spirit sale will go to the animal welfare group the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Thanks to JT Hundley for the story