Morning Bell: The First Step Is Admitting You Have A Problem

Morning Bell: The First Step Is Admitting You Have A Problem

It may have taken President Barack Obama two weeks to deliver a speech on the failed Flight 253 bomb attack without blaming President Bush, but he should still be commended for finally owning up for the massive intelligence failure. President Obama told the American people yesterday: “The U.S. government had the information . . . to potentially uncover this plot and disrupt the attack. Rather than a failure to collect or share intelligence, this was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had. … Ultimately, the buck stops with me . . . and when the system fails, it is my responsibility.”

But while the President is right to admit the system failed and that it is his fault that it did, he is still clueless about why. The President promised he would direct “our intelligence community immediately begin assigning specific responsibility for investigating all leads on high-priority threats so that these leads are pursued and acted upon aggressively — not just most of the time, but all of the time.” And he added: “In addition to the corrective efforts that I’ve ordered, I’ve directed agency heads to establish internal accountability reviews, and directed my national security staff to monitor their efforts.”

But this failure of our intelligence system was not just about lack of accountability. It was about empowerment – or more specifically the lack thereof. The system simply moved too slowly because there was a lack of urgency about the war on terror. Intelligence personnel were not empowered to employ their ingenuity and resourcefulness to connect the dots. Adding layers of “internal accountability reviews” will only make the bureaucratic stupor worse. It is people’s resourcefulness and initiative that will stop the next terrorist attack, not a bureaucratic process.

And from the day he stepped into office, President Obama’s actions have done nothing but kill the initiative and morale of our intelligence employees. From day one, he made it clear that he believes the war on terror is a civilian criminal justice problem to be managed, and not a war to be won. That is why he took the responsibility for interrogating detainees from the CIA and gave it to the FBI. That is why he has failed to seek the renewal of key investigatory authorities authorized under the USA Patriot Act, instead settling for a six-month extension tacked on to the Defense appropriations bill. It is why instead of promising victory in Afghanistan, he sent fewer troops than were required and gave al Qaeda a set date for our withdrawal. It is why he has failed to approach Congress with legislation establishing a legal framework for handling terrorism detainees. It is why he is pushing for Khalid Sheik Mohammed to be prosecuted in civilian court despite his previous guilty plea in a military tribunal. And most demoralizing of all, President Obama has allowed Attorney General Eric Holder to re-investigate nearly a dozen CIA interrogators and contractors for their past efforts in the war on terror.

This is an issue of leadership. The President of the United States sets the tone and then the message filters down. Our intelligence personnel failed to follow-up on the leads that could have prevented Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from even boarding the plane because their leader had sent the message that fighting the war on terror was not a high priority. Finally, it now seems that the President is ready to start acting like protecting the American people is not just a duty: it is his first duty.

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THE NUMBER: DEC. -85,000 JOBS… 10%…

Employers unexpectedly cut jobs in December

reuters

On Friday January 8, 2010, 10:04 am

By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. employers unexpectedly cut 85,000 jobs in December, cooling optimism on the labor market’s recovery and keeping pressure on President Barack Obama to find ways to spur job growth.

The Labor Department said on Friday that November payrolls were revised to show the economy actually added 4,000 jobs rather than losing 11,000 as initially reported, breaking a streak of consecutive losses that dates back to December 2007.

With revisions to October, however, the economy lost 1,000 more jobs than previously estimated over the two months.

The unemployment rate was unchanged at 10 percent in December, but that reflected a surprisingly large number of people leaving the labor force.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected nonfarm payrolls to hold steady last month, with the jobless rate edging up to 10.1 percent.

“The economy continues to take three steps forward and two steps back. I wouldn’t read too much into it beyond the fact that this will be a slow employment recovery. Directionally, the economy is on a mend,” said David Katz, chief investment officer at Matrix Asset Advisors in New York.

U.S. stock opened marginally lower, while the dollar fell against the euro and government bond prices erased losses as the report dashed hopes among some that the economy was now generating jobs.

U.S. short-term interest rate futures pared losses as investors bet that the weak labor market would keep inflation tame and encourage the Federal Reserve to leave interest rates near zero for a long time.

Euro-zone unemployment jumped to an 11-year high in November, and is likely to rise more in the coming year.

“The American economy is clearly not going to burst out of the gate with growth and job creation but it will perform better than its major competitors in Europe and Japan,” said Joseph Trevisani, chief market analyst at FX Solutions in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

POLITICAL PRESSURES MOUNTS

High unemployment is one of the toughest domestic challenges facing Obama. The administration’s success in getting people back to work will shape prospects for Obama’s political future.

Obama’s popularity has steadily fallen, knocking his approval ratings down to around 50 percent. This could dim the election prospects for his Democratic Party in the November congressional elections. Obama is scheduled to make a statement on the economy at 2:40 p.m. EST.

“We’re going to have to work harder to create more jobs,” U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis told Bloomberg TV. “The president will outline more tax credits for small business because they are the engine of growth.”

Unemployment remains the Achilles heel of the economic recovery, which started in the third quarter of 2009 following the worst recession in 70 years. Creating jobs is critical to sustaining the economic recovery when government stimulus fades.

For the whole of 2009, the economy shed 4.2 million jobs, according to the Labor Department’s survey of employers.

The department’s survey of households offered an even gloomier assessment of the job market, showing that 661,000 people left the work force last month.

The report showed there were 929,000 “discouraged workers” who had given up looking for a job, up from 642,000 a year earlier. Chris Rupkey, an economist with Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, called the rise in discouraged workers “a simply astonishing number that borders on the frightening.”

“If they were still looking for work and counted as the unemployed, the unemployment rate would have been 10.5 percent,” he said. “This clearly isn’t your father’s recession. It is looking more like your great-grandfathers. Brother, can you spare a dime?”

The broadest measure of unemployment, which includes discouraged workers and those working part-time for economic reasons, rose to 17.3 percent from 17.2 percent in the prior month.

Still, the payrolls report, which is viewed by most economists as the more reliable gauge of the labor market’s health, suggested a broad trend toward improvement was still intact.

Professional and business services added 50,000 positions, while education and health services increased payrolls by 35,000.

Temporary help employment rose 47,000, continuing an upward trend that shows a reluctance among employers to hire full-time workers but that suggests they may need to soon.

Manufacturing payrolls fell 27,000 after dropping 35,000 in November. The construction sector lost 53,000 jobs, while the service-providing sector shed only 4,000 workers.

The average workweek was unchanged at 33.2 hours, while average hourly earnings increased by $18.80 from $18.77 in November.

The state of the job market is among the key factors that will determine the timing of the Fed’s first interest rate increase since cutting benchmark overnight borrowing costs to near zero percent in December 2008. The U.S. central bank has vowed to keep rates low for an extended period.

(Additional reporting by Alister Bull; Writing by Lucia Mutikani and Emily Kaiser; Editing by Neil Stempleman)

WEATHER REPORT……………….

The Arctic ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a
report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consul Ifft, at Bergen , Norway . Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers
all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions
report that scarcely any ice has been met as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf
stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many
points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals
of herring and smelts, which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds. Within a few
years it is predicted that due to the ice melt the sea will rise and make most coastal cities uninhabitable.

  I’m sorry, I neglected to mention that this report was from November 2, 1922 as reported by the AP and published in The Washington Post

The Islamic Roots of Abdulmutallab’s Suicidal Odyssey

The Islamic Roots of Abdulmutallab’s Suicidal Odyssey

Posted By Jamie Glazov On January 7, 2010 @ 12:00 am In . Column1 02, . Positioning, Homeland Security, Middle East, Politics, Religion, US News, World News | 30 Comments

The liberal milieu and mainstream media are baffled: What could have possibly led the 23-year-old Nigerian boy Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab [1] to attempt jihadi suicide on a passenger plane? How could such a nice, educated Islamic boy, who grew up in a rich and prosperous family, have come under the “radical” and “extreme” influences that set him on his violent course? It’s just all so mysterious.

It’s so mysterious that the news anchors on CNN continue to incredulously ask each other and their guests these questions — back and forth, over and over again, in a cyclical circus that has no end and that never produces the most obvious answer staring any sensible person right in the face. In the liberal imagination, there is just this “extremist ideology” out there somewhere and somehow this unfortunate Muslim boy fell under its spell, but no one can be exactly sure how or why it happened. All one can be sure of is that an adversarial culture or ideology must not be blamed and that America, somewhere, somehow, must definitely be at fault.

And so, when it comes to the liberal left trying to digest Abdulmutallab and his suicidal quest, perplexed dismay becomes a much safer hiding place than honesty, because the basic truth threatens the very survival of the liberal faith. For the liberal to accept the evident reason why Abdulmutallab set off on his suicide odyssey would necessitate him having to completely shed himself of his entire worldview and personal identity [2]. The much easier route, therefore, is to keep oneself confused and to stay focused on how American capitalism and imperialism must have surely had something to do with it — even though, as is the case with the cause of Islamic terror itself [3], these factors are so obviously not involved in Abdulmutallab’s suicidal and murderous yearnings (i.e., Abdulmutallab comes from a privileged, wealthy, and educated life, etc.).

What the lib-left milieu simply can’t digest is what Islamic terrorists like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab themselves insist motivated them. And these are things like, you know, reading certain religious texts and following a certain religion’s teachings. They are things, sort of like, well, following Islam and reading the Koran and stuff like that.

When all is said and done, the true reasons why Abdulmutallab embarked on his murderous mission of suicide are completely understandable — and only to be expected — in the context of his Islamic odyssey. And Abdulmutallab himself clearly points to the influence of his religion in his own personal writings on the internet.

In his 300 postings [4] under the name “farouk1986” in an online forum, Abdulmutallab sheds light on how the Islamic theology that he follows marginalized him from human life and led him on his hateful and suicidal road. One of the main themes in his postings, for instance, is a recurring complaint about his loneliness and how he has “never found a true Muslim friend.” While liberals will expectedly blame capitalism for Abdulmutallab’s estrangement, a certain question has to be asked, a question that will never be asked, or answered, on CNN or in the Nation magazine:

From where, oh where, did Abdulmutallab get the self-ostracizing and hateful idea that only Muslims could be his friends?

Indeed, from where did this young man absorb an ideology that eliminated billions of people on the planet from the pool in which he could make friendships and nurture human connection? Hmmm, could it possibly be that the self-marginalization he inflicted on himself had something to do with his religion’s instruction that he not only never make friends with infidels (Koran 5:51), but also wage war on them? (Koran 9:5, 9:29, etc.).

Abdulmutallab also agonizes about his behavior when he does manage, on the rare occasion, to join the human race. He admits that when he socializes he does “laugh and joke” but he stresses, in self-defense, that he does not do this “excessively.” Pray, do tell, from where the need to make confessions and self-justifications about such beautiful elements of life? What could this possibly be about? Could it be that it has nothing to do with American capitalism and imperialism at all, but maybe with the life-hating teaching of a religion that demonizes earthly happiness, joy, and pleasure [5]? Could it be somehow connected to a certain religion’s hatred of music [6], frivolity [6], and, above all, a woman’s laughter [5]? Could this all have something to do with why Ayatollah Khomeini insisted that “there is no fun in Islam [5]”?

In his posting for December 2005, Abdulmutallab shares a monumental crisis he is facing: While victims of poverty are starving throughout the world, the young Muslim boy is faced with a doomsday scenario: his wealthy family will be visiting him in London and he might have to join them and eat meat. Abdulmutallab is full of panic, sharing that “I am of the view meat not slaughtered by Muslims … is haram [forbidden] for consumption unless necessary.” He thus disagrees with his parents’ view that “as foreigners, we are allowed to … eat any meat” and worries that if he doesn’t eat it this “might cause division and other complicated family problems.”

Abdulmutallab reveals the crucial inspiration to his murderous and suicidal yearnings when he agonizes about his inner struggle between being a devout Muslim and a member of a society infected by Western values. He writes of his “dilemma between liberalism and extremism” and, as a Muslim, he strives to live his life “according to the Koran and Sunnah to the best of my ability. I do almost everything, sports, TV, books … (of course trying not to cross the limits in the deen).” The deen is the dutiful way of life demanded by Islam.

In these circumstances, the most obvious torment that arises in the life of a young devout Muslim like Abdulmutallab is what he himself honestly describes: the tension between sexual desires and the Islamic mandate of, as he writes, “lowering the gaze” in the presence of women. “The Prophet (S) advised young men to fast if they can’t get married,” he agonizes, “but it has not been helping me much and I seriously don’t want to wait for years before I get married.”

It is precisely in this context that we see the origins of the Muslim suicide bomber’s journey into the heart of jihadi darkness.

For a pious Muslim who is attempting to obey the pleasure-denying mandates of his religion, the totalitarian and often sole choice available to him becomes purifying himself by extinguishing his own earthly sinful existence.

 

Thus, despite liberal fantasies, it is not Muslims’ lack of access to Western prosperity that spawns their terror, but exactly the opposite: it is Muslims’ contact with and ability to reap the benefits of Western values that end up serving as key inspirations for jihad.

Indeed, there is a morbid dilemma for the devout Muslim who has experienced and come into contact with the temptations of Western freedom. These Muslims end up feeling infected and fault America and the West for the excruciating guilt they feel over the desires that freedom plants within their hearts. To disinfect themselves, they end up lashing out violently at the tempter — and then ultimately at themselves for the impurity and desires that the tempter instilled. In this light, Theodore Dalrymple brilliantly analyzes the impulses and motivations of the young suicide bombers who struck in London in July 2005. He demonstrates [7] how they saw no way out of their confrontation with freedom and modernity except through death:

Muslims who reject the West are therefore engaged in a losing and impossible inner jihad, or struggle, to expunge everything that is not Muslim from their breasts. It can’t be done: for their technological and scientific dependence is necessarily also a cultural one. You can’t believe in a return to seventh-century Arabia as being all-sufficient for human requirements, and at the same time drive around in a brand-new red Mercedes, as one of the London bombers did shortly before his murderous suicide. An awareness of the contradiction must gnaw in even the dullest fundamentalist brain.

 

Furthermore, fundamentalists must be sufficiently self-aware to know that they will never be willing to forgo the appurtenances of Western life: the taste for them is too deeply implanted in their souls, too deeply a part of what they are as human beings, ever to be eradicated. It is possible to reject isolated aspects of modernity but not modernity itself. Whether they like it or not, Muslim fundamentalists are modern men — modern men trying, impossibly, to be something else. … How to persuade themselves and others that their lack of faith, their vacillation, is really the strongest possible faith? What more convincing evidence of faith could there be than to die for its sake? How can a person be really attached or attracted to rap music and cricket and Mercedes cars if he is prepared to blow himself up as a means of destroying the society that produces them? Death will be the end of the illicit attachment that he cannot entirely eliminate from his heart. … By means of suicide bombing, the bombers overcome moral impurities and religious doubts within themselves and, supposedly, strike an external blow for the propagation of the faith.

It is no coincidence, therefore, that in the Islamic paradigm, the pleasures denied on earth are exactly the pleasures offered in heaven. For a typical Muslim male like Abdulmutallab who desperately yearns for sex but does not want to offend Allah, the only escape route becomes to die — and kill — for Islam.

Pierre Rehov, the French filmmaker of the documentary Suicide Killers [8], spent hours speaking with would-be martyrs in Israeli jails and with their families. He noted that they not only spoke about the obvious Islamic instruction to kill Jews and Christians, but also articulated a consistent theme of not being allowed to do anything pleasurable on earth; and so they sought death in order to do it in heaven. Rehov writes [9]:

Imagine a world where separation between men and women is virtually absolute. Where not only sex is a taboo, but where a woman’s body is considered to be so impure that it must be hidden at all times. … In this chauvinistic land, a 16-or 18-year-old boy has a 99% chance of having never touched the hand of a girl or having spoken to one, except for his sister. At this age where libido is at its peak, a young male is in need of these beautiful and forbidden sensations. He needs to prove to himself that he is a man, a future man. But, in this arena, there is no hope — only frustration. Dating and flirting are forbidden. Marriage is the only tolerated path to sex in the Muslim world. But without money there is no wife. Ironically, while women are the object of the highest contempt, while the temporal existence of flesh is considered despicable (“seek for death, and eternal life will be given to you” — Prophet Muhammad), the promise of eternal life surrounded by 72 virgins is popularized daily through every arm of the Muslim media. The misguided kids I interviewed while shooting Suicide Killers spoke of the 72 virgins with total conviction. “No one knows how much Allah would have given me in heaven if I had succeeded,” said one of them, who described his ideal target as a mall, a school, or a hospital in Netanya.

Within the confines of this Islamic concentration camp, the young tormented Abdulmutallab desperately sought to purify himself. With his religion informing him of his sinful, despicable, Allah-negating, unwanted physical self, the only way out became to rid himself of his earthly flesh, ideally by taking some infidels along with him. Abdulmutallab hoped to annihilate all that was impure in his earthly existence — and to gain in Islamic paradise everything that he had denied himself, ever so mercilessly, on earth.


Article printed from Pajamas Media: http://pajamasmedia.com

URL to article: http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/the-islamic-roots-of-abdulmutallabs-suicidal-odyssey/

URLs in this post:

[1] Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab: http://detroit.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/pressrel09/de122609.htm

[2] entire worldview and personal identity: http://www.city-journal.org/2009/eon1222jg.html

[3] the cause of Islamic terror itself: http://www.danielpipes.org/104/god-and-mammon-does-poverty-cause-militant-islam

[4] 300 postings: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34618228/ns/us_news-washington_post

[5] demonizes earthly happiness, joy, and pleasure: http://97.74.65.51/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=35483

[6] music: http://97.74.65.51/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=10323

[7] He demonstrates: http://www.city-journal.org/html/15_4_suicide_bombers.html

[8] Suicide Killers: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0830968/

[9] Rehov writes: http://97.74.65.51/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=6583

The Cross: The Vanishing Kafir Symbol in Pakistan

The Cross: The Vanishing Kafir Symbol in Pakistan

Friday, 08 January 2010 08:17 Lennard James

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How the besieged and persecuted Christians in Pakistan have to live without public display of religious piety and symbols…..


The great Mahatma Gandhi said: “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.”

Christians can’t displayed the Cross in Pakistan

Intense hatred and intolerance towards other religious cultures and symbols will only help fostering of extremist views in other societies.

The ‘Cross’ is the most revered and sacred religious symbol in Christianity. In Pakistan, this emblem and the cherished relic of the Christian Faith has faded from the public eye down the years and is rarely seen in the humdrums of everyday Christian life today!

Being born and raised a devout Christian and a part of the country’s largest religious minority, the increasing invisibility of the Cross, despite its ascent about two decades ago, is unsettling to me.

From the memoirs of my childhood, right through to my teens, there was a time in Pakistan, when it was common to see the Cross pendants of various sizes and shapes dangling from the necks of young and old Christians alike, buzzing on every street corner. But now, that sight has sadly been reduced to mere rare glimpses in Karachi’s famous shopping bazaars, namely the Bohri Bazaar. It is mostly noticeable during the Christmas and Easter eve shopping, when Christian shoppers are busy shopping in large numbers. The decreasing visibility of the Cross over here underscores the challenges the Christian community is so harshly facing in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

The Cross in Pakistan is now restricted to only a few architectural elements of church steeples, including on prominent monuments mostly of the bygone British Raj eras, which are left bare to rot away! Yet, many of such monuments in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan have, virtually, been demolished or were/are ravaged by Muslim fanatics, who keep on demolishing or vandalizing the sacred relics of the Kafirs!

Indeed, in view of the recent religious violence, i.e. persecution of non-Muslims by Muslims, all over Pakistan, there is an even smaller fraction of people, whose faith hangs on a Cross on the rearview mirrors of their cars, more daring ones display their religious identities on the entrance doors of their homes—a sight that was, previously, common to see.

No more the Festive Days

The Christian Cross seems to be fast disappearing from the local jewelry shop-windows, too! When inquired about this change, Pakistani Christians voice concerns about their safety and security lest they invite ire of Muslim fanatics by displaying the Cross. Others, dubiously, ponder about their future in Pakistan, as the TTP (Theireeq-e-Talibaan Pakistan) are gains fast grounds for the eradication of Kafirs from the Islamic land of Pakistan!

“Not many people come to buy them here anymore. We have some old samples, but they are rarely requested for,” says Rafiq, whom I have known since childhood and owner of a small jewelry shop in Saddar in Karachi, my hometown. Rafiq’s family has been in this business for three generations.

The Churches, once adorned with decorative lights on festive occasions, are now accompanied by private security guards with scanners and metal detectors at the entrance, and are also being aided by the LEA (Law Enforcement Agency).

The Christian processions through the streets of Karachi before sunrise on Easter and at midnight on Christmas have stopped altogether. The Parish Priests of respective churches in the country feel frightened and keep low vigil services on the feast days. As many as 50 Muslim villagers armed with clubs and axes recently attacked a screening of the ‘Jesus’ film in Chak village near Sargodha, injuring three part-time evangelists and four Christians in attendance. Two of the evangelists were said to be seriously injured.

The Muslim hardliners also damaged a movie projector, burned reels of the film and absconded with the public address system and the donations from Christian viewers.

So, one can imagine what the Christian community is facing in Pakistan, such great dangers, and, as a result, they are slowly fading in these high times of Islamic Jihad. Even the Carol singers have vanished from Christian communities.

So are the Christmas decorations, which once adorned every Christian shop and home and seen on the streets and in the bazaars, and the colorful Christmas buntings that once decked the windows and balconies of every Christian, have all disappeared now! So too is Santa Claus, once the merry and joy of the children, as the Muslim goons/cops harass them!

At the Christmas and the New Year eve partying, once frequently held at homes or Five Star hotels all over Pakistan, are not allowed anymore. While the world brings in the New Year in style and extravaganzas, here in Pakistan, one can, unfortunately, hear only the loud aerial firings, emanating from every corner and homes of Muslim neighborhoods.

The Image of Salvation no more to be seen

The Cross, a symbol of salvation to Christians, is now seen only in a few photo exhibitions of churches, in famous Christian historical landmarks, or in the elite and well-cloistered galleries in the country. Stephan Andrew, a well-known photographer in Pakistan, admits that there are fewer opportunities to photograph the Cross in Pakistan now than ever before. For his first solo exhibition two months ago, Andrew had just one photograph capturing the Christian presence in this country—an image of the monument in Pakistan’s only Cathedral, the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral at Karachi. “Christians are hesitant to display their religious identities now! It is believed that, if you are a Christian, you are either associated with the Americans or a foreigner here,” adds Andrew.

Salman Chand, a Karachi-based banker, who is a part of the youthful social scene, says he doesn’t wear a Cross anymore for different reasons, as he put it:

“I’m not too keen on putting my faith on display; it is only because, I feel that the Cross is very sacred to me and it sometimes conflicts with my lifestyle. I don’t wear a Cross, only because I don’t want it to be disrespected or associated with things that my religion does not preach…”

Despite such reservations, young Christians do long for some acknowledgements of their faith in Islamic Pakistan. Andrew recounts a recent visit to Karachi’s Empress Market, where he came across some roadside shops selling Cross pendants on black threads.

“Perhaps it is more a style than any other sorts of religious declarations, but seeing the Crosses felt really good. It just shows some part of Pakistan is still very liberal and forthcoming,” he explains.

Indeed, many a Pakistani Christians continue to value the sacred symbolism of the Cross. Shallum Xavier, guitarist, composer and music producer of the Pakistani rock group FUZON, who wears a Cross pendant on his neck in his music videos, says that he does not wear it to represent his faith but because of what it signifies: the crucifixion of Jesus Christ!

“I wear the Cross, because of my memories from childhood. It is more of a personal thing to me. A big part of it is, because of my love for Jesus Christ,” says the pop celebrity.

The value of the Cross is more than anything to a Christian ever cherishes.

Meanwhile, Nabeel Dean, a senior sales and marketing manager in an insurance company, points out that it is not just Christians, who are scared of professing their identities in Pakistan.

“People from other castes (non-Muslim) are generally keeping a low profile. With sectarian violence on the rise and the internal clashes between various political parties, caste and religion automatically becomes explosive subjects here, and you never know what will offend whom?” he says.

Our Better days

In the years after Partition, Pakistani Christians used to have no qualms in displaying their religious identity in any forms. The community was confidence and self-assured. Between the 1950s and the early 1970s, the Pakistani Christian Community was respected members of the Pakistani society. They were patriotic citizens and qualified professionals, contributing as educationists, doctors, lawyers, businessmen, policing and even popular radio jockeys. Back then, the Pakistani society encouraged a dynamic mix of cultures, values, identities and religions… This congenial respect for diversity gave birth to relative acceptance for all minorities living in large neighbourhoods.

Before, Shallum Xavier and other contemporary Christian pop icons, including the legendary drummer Gumby, had to justify their regard for the Cross; the sounds of religious harmony were heard loud and clear across Pakistan.

In the late 1970s, the Benjamin Sisters, a minority singing sensation group formed by three sisters, Nerissa, Beena and Shabana, achieved immense popularity in both Pakistan and neighboring India. Their popularity began to be referred to as the “Benjamin Sisters Phenomenon”. In fact, the Benjamin Sisters symbolized what Jinnah’s inner dream of Pakistan was: singing patriotic national songs such as ‘Is parcham kay saye tale hum ek hai.’

Mass migration

However, the military ruler General Ziaul Haq’s wave of Islamization in the 1980s brought about a stark change in Pakistan’s social and political scenarios. The nation’s Christians, once one a highly regarded community, bore the brunt of these social transformations. Those, who were affluent enough, emigrated, while leaving behind the poorer majority of Pakistani Christians to make their peace with being regarded as second-class citizens in their own country of birth?

“The mass migration of Christians in the eighties explains the absence of the cross today,” says Minerva Rebecca, a human resources manager in a non-profit organization.

“There’s nobody around to wear it anymore,” she adds.

She also points out that the Christians, who remain in Pakistan, are socially marginalized and disenfranchised, and therefore, are not confident enough to display their religious identities.

“They’re not part of the higher social strata, for them to be seen at social gatherings, where the cross may ever be noticed,” says Rebecca.

Youhana’s conversion

Since mass migration of some Christians in the 1980s, the only overt display of the Cross in the 1990s could be seen when one tuned in to catch a cricket match. Yousuf Youhana, the third Pakistani batsmen to score more than 8,000 runs in Test cricket, made sign of the Cross after completing every century! With a Christian and a Hindu (Danish Kaneria), representing the ‘green’ and ‘white’ of the national flag, playing for the national team, those were truly proud moments for Pakistan’s Christians.

Christian Yousuf Youhana wedding
Convert Muhammad Yousuf
Pakistan: Great Christian cricketer Yousuf
Youhana converted to Islam for better
opportunity, captaincy for example.

In 2005, however, Pakistani Christians, who prayed so ever fervently for Youhana during every cricket match he played in, were disappointed with his conversion to Islam. Confused by rumors and controversies surrounding his conversion, young Christian boys, who looked up to Youhana for inspiration, felt let down badly. Now, we see him sporting a Sunnah of the Prophet Mohammad, the famous Beard shaven at the lips only. Now named Mohammed Yousuf, he is now captain of the national cricket team.

“He was my role model,” says my 14-year-old nephew Sean James, a student at St. Patrick’s High School in Karachi.

“Everyone is subjected to discriminations and at some point in their lives, whether it’s about religion or the way you look. I used to think if Yousuf Youhana didn’t succumb to the pressure, neither would I loathe him now,” I replied.

Owing to these setbacks, Pakistani Christians are now struggling hard to find a footing in Pakistani society. Majority are reduced to menial labour jobs; many are frequently subjected to forced conversions or are accused of desecrating the Quran, or are killed by the Muslim extremists all over Pakistan.

Pervaiz Masih, a friend who works at the CDGK (City District Government of Karachi), sweeps the streets and cleans the sewages of Karachi’s PECHS area. He admits to facing severe hardships of being a Christian in Pakistan.

“I had to change my name from Pervaiz Rehmat Bahadur to land this job. What does that tell you?” he asks me.

“I am not proud of doing it, but I have a family to feed,” he adds.

And I know how hard it is for him to earn a living. You are loathed and ridiculed to work as a sweeper or a garbage collector in Pakistan. The Christians and Hindus communities are mostly given these sorts of jobs, for they are considered to be filthy Kafirs in Islam?

In the evenings, however, when he is off duty and looks forward to a warm cup of tea with friends from the Christian community in Mehmoodabad-Karachi, where he lives. He finds the transition back to his faith a comforting one.

“With my friends, I will always be Pervaiz Rehmat Bahadur,” he adds cheerfully to me.

I marvel at his zest and honesty as a Christian.

The laws of the Islamic land

To a large extent, Pervaiz Masih’s insecurities about being openly Christian in Pakistan can be traced back to a single piece of legislature. Since the 1980s, Christians in Pakistan have increasingly become victims of humiliations and persecutions through false allegations made under the notoriously dreaded blasphemy law! Unfortunately, the Pakistani Penal Code (PPC) provides little guidance on what exactly constitutes blasphemy??? The law, a remnant of the 1860s British colonial criminal law, was revised in 1986 by General Ziaul Haq in accordance with the Islamic Shari’ah. In 1992, the democratically-elected government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif revised it again, when death penalty was made mandatory for every convicted blasphemer.

In its earlier incarnation, the law applied equally to all religions! But in the revised version, the death penalty only applies to those, who blaspheme against Islam, especially the Kafiroon, a tool that is widely used against non-Muslims! According to a 2001 U.S. State Department report, entitled ‘International Religious Freedom’, 55 to 60 Christians living in Islamic countries are charged with blasphemy each year. Currently, more than a hundred thousand accused are languishing in Pakistani jails awaiting trials. Some have literally been held in prisons for decades, while waiting for hearings in courts.

At the Christmas Mass a week ago, the Rev. Fr. Joseph at St. Patrick’s Parish narrated in his sermon, of his recent visit to the Karachi Central Jail: “We went to say Mass for our Christian brothers and sister languishing there. It was sad though to come to know that some are innocent and have been there for nearly a decade. After Mass, the prisoners were crying out to us and begging us to come every Sundays and bless them and say Mass there”.

He said, “At Mass, the prisoners kissed the crucifix and said, ‘Father we have not seen the Cross in ages. We are not allowed to venerate the crucified Christ anymore and we feel that Christ is amongst us now and has forgiven our sins”.

He added: “It is a pity we cannot visit them often, as there are too many hurdles in taking permissions from the concerned authorities to say Mass every Sundays…”

Admittedly, the number of arrests under the blasphemy law has decreased since the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto approved two PPC amendments, designed to reduce the abuse of Section 295-C. Ex-president General Pervez Musharraf, too, suggested mild changes to the current blasphemy law in April 2000, but withdrew his recommendations the following month. As a result, the law remains largely intact and a fearsome tool for the many who know of its dreaded use!

Following his visit to riot-hit Gojra in August 2009, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani hinted at changing the blasphemy law in a bid to facilitate ‘religious harmony’ in the country. Moreover, there is an increasing acknowledgement that the blasphemy law is usually invoked in cases of political vendettas or rivalries or land disputes. Human rights activists continue to campaign for the law to be completely repealed.

Our Proud Religious Legacy…

The current position of Pakistani Christians is a sharp departure from their subcontinental legacies. Karachi and Rawalpindi saw the first churches in Pakistan, when Christianity was introduced in the region by British rulers in the late eighteenth century. St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Karachi is considered to be Pakistan’s largest church and the only cathedral and is the most prominent Christian landmark of the country. Most Christians who came to Pakistan were resident officers of the British Army and of the Indian government.

During the development of Karachi’s infrastructure, a large Catholic Goan Community was established by the British and the Irish before World War II. The Christians in Sindh and Punjab, particularly, had been active in pre-independence days in their support for Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Muslim League. Encouraged by the Quaid’s promise of complete equality of citizenship, they rendered their services as journalists and propagandists to the freedom movement.

In fact, the Christians did their best to contribute in a positive way to the society at large. For that reason, the cross in Pakistan has been mainly associated with education, Law, healthcare and philanthropy sectors. A large portion of Pakistan’s elite owe their success to a solid educational grounding at St. Patrick’s High Schools (Boys & Girls) and Technical College, St. Paul’s High School, St. Peter’s High School, St. Lawrence’s Boys School, Trinity Methodist Girls Higher School & College, Jesus & Mary’s Convent School, St. Joseph’s Convent School and College in Karachi and the Forman Christian College and St. Anthony’s High School in Lahore. Similarly, the Holy Family Hospital, Lady Dufferin’s Hospital, Darul-Sukoon (Mentally Retarded children), Ibtidah Gah (Drug Addicts Center), and the Marie Adelaide’s Leprosy Centre in Karachi, Marie Stopes Society and the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar were founded at a time when few healthcare facilities ever existed in Pakistan. All Christian institutions across the country portray a strong sense of nation building by rendering their invaluable services to the peoples and making of Pakistan, irrespective of caste, creed, and colour!!!

Being both a Christian and a Pakistani

In the context of the current unrest within Pakistan, as Islamic fundamentalism has flourished beyond proportions, Pakistani Christians find themselves in the midst of grave situations. The increasing frequency and brutalities of religious riots anger them verily. Yet, they remain optimistic about the future, which they hope will make things better. That hope is inspired by the very symbol that is attacked by Islamists in Pakistan, the cross, a symbol of strength, perseverance and endurance for the Christians and to all here.

“One day we hope to see a Pakistan, which will not differentiate between caste and creed, as was promised by the Quaid,” says Jennifer Marshall, an ESL trainer in Karachi. “We are hopeful because the cross symbolizes salvation for us”.

Meanwhile, the constant and firm demands for repealing the blasphemy law prove that Pakistani Christians are adamant to fight and keep their sacred symbol, the Cross, viable and visible in their country!

Why is the State Department getting an UndyBomber pass?

Lead Story

Why is the State Department getting an UndyBomber pass?

By Michelle Malkin  •  January 8, 2010 03:02 AM

1boshill002.jpg
Photoshop credit: Registered

As I mentioned yesterday, my syndicated column today spotlights the abysmally lax visa issuance policies at Hillary Clinton’s State Department — a problem that festered before 9/11 under GOP and Democrat administrations alike and continues now (hello, James Riady).

Take a look again at what the White House 6-page summary report says about Foggy Bottom’s foul-up:

The focus on visa revocation completely (and deliberately) misses the point about who bears responsibility for approving the visa in the first place. And that responsibility rests entirely with U.S. consular officials gambling on our national security. I asked the State Department for more information about the Crotch Bomber’s visa application and approval. The first thing I got back was chapter and verse citing federal law prohibiting disclosure of info on who, if anyone, interviewed Abdulmutallab; why he was approved for the full, two-year, multiple-entry visa instead of a limited, two-week visa to cover his trip to the shady Al Maghrib Institute in Houston, Texas; and how the State Department bureaucrats ignored the law, the red flags, and common sense to open the front door for Abdulmuttalab.

Why is Hillary’s State Department getting UndyBomber pass?
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2010

Forget about no-fly lists, full-body scanners, and air marshals. All the loud recriminations about who should have done what to stop the UndyBomber from boarding a plane to Detroit on Christmas Day miss a more fundamental point: Young, single, rootless foreign Muslim Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab should never, ever have received a temporary visa into our country in the first place. No visa, no plane ticket. No ticket, no passage to airline jihad.

Even absent the intelligence we had on this al Qaeda-trained operative before his fateful trip, Hillary Clinton’s State Department was required to know better than to issue a coveted entrance pass to a globe-trotting, Nigerian-born nomad. Under federal law (section 214[b] of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act to be precise), State Department consular officials must determine that foreigners applying for temporary visas (students, tourists, and businessmen) will in fact return to their home countries as required and will not abuse their visa privileges.

This means making sure that the temporary visa applicant has strong ties to his native land. It’s supposed to be a tough burden to overcome. Yet, Abdulmutallab showed no such propensities at the time he applied for his temporary visa at the U.S. Embassy in London in June 2008. He was a twenty-something student who had flitted from Nigeria to Yemen to Togo to England without a family or job. He was, in other words, a textbook itinerant waving more red flags than a bullfighter.

Question: How much due diligence did the State Department consular official on the front line who interviewed Abdulmutallab actually show? Reports say it took just four days for his visa to be approved. Barely two months later, Abdulmutallab turned up in Houston for a two-week seminar at Al Maghrib Institute, a Muslim Brotherhood-tied Islamic education center that has been dubbed “Jihad U” by veteran terrorism analysts.

Now, I’m presuming that a consular official did in fact interview Abdulmutallab before rubber-stamping his visa. Before the September 11 attacks, countless visa applicants – including 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers – skipped personal appearance requirements and bypassed the interview process as a convenience provided by Foggy Bottom panderers. This was supposed to change.

I asked the State Department Thursday for more information about the presumed consular office interview and hasty approval of Abdulmutallab’s visa. Spokeswoman Megan Mattson invoked confidentiality rules protecting his visa form. But there is an overriding public interest in what his application might reveal about our atrociously lax consulate practices. The General Accounting Office obtained and released the 9/11 hijackers’ temporary visa forms, which showed that basic information about where they were headed (two hijackers wrote “Wasantwn”) and what business they claimed to be doing (one wrote “teater” as his occupation) was suspiciously shoddy.

Like Abulmutallab, not a single one of the unmarried, rootless, Muslim male nomads who secured student and business visas to commit mass murder on American soil should have ever obtained a temporary visa in the first place.

But the reckless customer-service mentality prevails under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The department continues to operate the dangerous “Diversity Visa Lottery” program – handing out permanent residency visas (green cards) randomly to some 50,000 foreigners from “underrepresented” regions. The bipartisan visa lottery was championed by the late Democrat Sen. Ted Kennedy and signed into law by Republican President George H. W. Bush in 1990. Although originally intended to give a leg up to Irish immigrants, most of the winners are now from non-Western countries – including several terrorist-sponsoring and terrorist-friendly nations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Nigeria, and Yemen.

State Department flacks are busy pointing fingers at other homeland security bureaucracies, namely the National Counterrerrorism Center, for failing to revoke the UndyBomber’s visa. Foggy Bottom held a press conference earlier this week to boast that it had finally taken responsibility and stripped Abdulmutallab of his golden entrance ticket. But where does the buck stop for granting the visa in the first place?

Ominously, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley revealed that other suspected jihadi visas have been revoked. “It’s more than one,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s fruitful to get into a scoreboard.” Of course not. Keeping score would mean accountability for negligent consular officials and their bosses. This administration would rather let sleeping bureaucrats lie.

Obama’s ‘Shocking’ Security Report: Officials Knew Extremist on Plane Heading to Detroit

Obama’s ‘Shocking’ Security Report: Officials Knew Extremist on Plane Heading to Detroit

January 7th, 2010

By David A. Patten, Newsmax

 Yeah… the report is that shocking

The Obama administration is warning that the nation will react with “a certain shock” when the president releases a report Thursday afternoon detailing the snafus and blunders that led to the near-bombing of a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day.

National security adviser James Jones told USA Today that “The man on the street … will be surprised that these correlations weren’t made.”

Administration officials initially had tried to downplay the incident. But in the past week, a litany of errors emerged that enabled a 23-year-old Nigerian with known terrorist inclinations, who paid for his ticket with cash and checked no luggage on an international flight, and who had an explosive device hidden in his underwear.

Jones said the president “is legitimately and correctly alarmed” that authorities failed to act on the available information that should have signaled a potential threat.

The president is scheduled to address the matter at 3 p.m.Thursday Eastern. But even as he prepared his remarks, new details of the incident were leaking out.

Early Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security disclosed that would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s potential ties to terrorism were discovered on Christmas Day — as Northwest Flight 253 was en route to the United States.

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