Sunday, 28 February 2010
Thomas Orsz?g-Land On The Killer Of Mikl?s Radn?ti

Jan 31st

Miklós Radnóti (1909-1944)

Budapest commander of the death-squad personally responsible for the murder of Miklós Radnóti—perhaps the greatest poet of the Holocaust well known in English translation—escaped retribution for the deed. His remains rest in official burial grounds reserved for the heroes of the Hungarian republic.

This has been established by Tamás Csapody, a noted jurist and sociologist. His revelations, published prominently by the country’s leading literary and political journals, are of particular interest in the context of widening current antisemitism sweeping Eastern Europe.

Radnóti was shot at the age of 35 in 1944, a victim of the National Socialists’ attempt at the “ethnic cleansing” of Europe. He was condemned with a group Jewish-Hungarian prisoners because of their inability to keep up with a Westward “deathmarch”. Their bodies were dumped in a mass grave.

But his best poems contained in a notebook were recovered after the war when the bodies were exhumed. They are treasured today as some of the most flawless modern additions to Hungary’s poetic heritage. This is how Radnóti described his own execution in the notebook, very accurately, shortly before it occurred:


I tumble near his body. It turns over
already taut as string about to break.
Shot through the nape. You too will end up like that,
I mutter to myself. Lie calm. Be patient.
The flower of death unfolds in fear. I wait.
Blood mixed with dirt grows clotted on my ear.
I hear a soldier quip: He’ll get away yet.

(This and the following poems quoted in this article are in my translation.)

The circumstances of the massacre are even worse than the many myths current about the event. It was carried out by the Royal Hungarian Army, not some “foreign” ethnic Germans hitherto blamed by the literary establishment. And two members of the five-man death squad positively identified in secret inquiries after the war were allowed to go free. The reason: they had by then joined the ruling Communist Party.

Radnóti’s literary stature is enormous. The other great writers of the Holocaust—Anne Frank, Imre Kertész, Éva Láng, András Mezei, Elie Wiesel among them—were children at the time. Paul Celan and Primo Levi were very young men eventually compelled by their grief and outrage to protest in poetry. By contrast, Radnóti was at the height of his literary powers when he entered the storm, notebook in hand, seeking to transform the horror into poetry.

Until now, his murder has been shrouded by misinformation. In common with the opinion shapers of the rest of formerly Soviet-dominated Europe, most of Hungary’s teachers and editors have not even begun to digest the shameful role their country played during the war. This in fact explains the vulnerability of this region to neo-Nazi agitation today in a climate of insecurity following the deepest world recession since the war.

Holocaust poetry is therefore an irritant here. Generations of Hungarian school children have been required to recite Randnóti by heart, but they have been taught that the poems were about the general horrors of war rather than genocide. They have been told that the poet had met a “tragic death”—but not that it was racist murder committed with the approval or connivance of the majority of Hungarians at the time. Radnóti describes the mood of the nation in these lines:


I lived upon this earth in such an age
when man was so debased he sought to kill
for pleasure, not just to comply with orders,
his faith in falsehoods drove him to corruption,
his life was ruled by raving self-deceptions.

I lived upon this earth in such an age
that idolized the sly police informers,
whose heroes were the killers, spies, the thieves –
and the few who held their peace or only failed
to cheer were loathed like victims of the plague.

I lived upon this earth in such an age
when those who risked protest were wise to hide
and gnaw their fists in self-consuming shame –
the crazed folk grinned about their terrifying
doomed future, wild and drunk on blood and mire.

I lived upon this earth in such an age
when the mother of an infant was a curse,
when pregnant women were glad to abort,
the living envied the corpses in the graves
while on the table foamed their poisoned cup.

I lived upon this earth in such an age
when even the poet fell silent and waited in hope
for an ancient, terrible voice to rise again –
for no-one could utter a fitting curse of such horror
but the scholar of dreadful words, Isaiah the prophet.

Yet the spirit of his poetry has miraculously survived and won the affection of the nation. Radnóti today is perhaps the best loved by the Hungarian public among all its poets of the recent past. His name fills auditoriums. His lines are quoted at public meetings. Hence the prolonged furor over the revelations of the circumstances of his murder.

Unknown to the public, the facts were reliably established shortly after the war by confidential inquiries conducted under the authority of the interior ministry. This was done in order to forestall any hitch to the smooth administration of the Communist order. The archives of the ministry at last exposed to researchers are belatedly rewriting history.

Their contents form the core of Csapody’s evidence, corroborated by the records of slave labor camps in Serbia where Radnóti and some 6,000 other Hungarian Jews (some of them, including Radnóti, Christian converts) were deployed in the war, about half of whom perished. Csapody matched his findings with testimonials by survivors and material in the archives of Jad Vasem, Belgrade, Berlin and Budapest.

Csapody is a widely published, highly respected intellectual and author of Civil Scenarios, a collection of essays on principal aspects of the Hungarian transition process. He has published several specialist papers during recent years on his researchers into Radnóti‘s murder and the Serbian slave camps near Bor.

But the issue has burst into the public domain only through the recent publication of major articles by him in the authoritative Népszabadság newspaper and the literary journal Élet és Irodalom. These articles have been reprinted by many other newspapers, and the subject taken up by many other writers.

The issue is of considerable public interest because Radnóti is a genuinely loved national figure and the revelations coincide with an upsurge of neo-Nazism that upsets a lot of people.

Csapody writes that the Bor camps were supervised by the Germans but administered by the Hungarians with senseless sadism. They were vacated late in 1944 as part of the German retreat, its inmates despatched westwards in an infamous “deathmarch”.

Their weakened captives were driven at a forced pace under the blows of their armed escorts who were themselves being harassed by the Serbian partisans. People were being murdered at no provocation. Following is Radnóti’s description of the horror:


Collapsed exhausted, only a fool would rise again
to drag his knees and ankles once more like marching pain
yet press on as though wings were to lift him on his way,
invited by the ditch but in vain, he’d dare not stay…
Ask him, why not? maintaining his pace, he might reply:
he longs to meet the wife and a gentler death. That’s why.
But he’s insane, that poor man, because above the homes,
since we have left them, only a scorching whirlwind roams.
The walls are laid. The plum tree is broken. And the night
lurks bristling as a frightened, abandoned mongrel might.
Oh, if I could believe that all things for which I yearn
exist beyond my heart, that there’s still home and return…
return! the old veranda, the peaceful hum of bees
attracted by the cooling fresh plum jam in the breeze,
the still, late summer sunshine, the garden drowsing mute,
among the leaves the swaying voluptuous naked fruit,
and Fanni waiting for me, blonde by the russet hedge,
while languidly the morning re-draws the shadow’s edge…
It may come true again — the moon shines so round — be wise!
Don’t leave me, friend, shout at me, shout! and I will arise!

In a rare gesture of humanity, Radnóti and 21 others who could not keep the pace were put on horse-drawn wagons under the command of Sergeant András Tálas. He was ordered to take them to hospital. But they were not accepted.

He might have decided to abandon them in the prevailing chaos with impunity. He chose to murder them instead. Witness testimonials made by Tálas’ subordinates state that he drew his handgun and led the massacre.

Tálas was recognized after the war by a former Bor inmate. He was tried and executed in 1947 for other war crimes. His body was buried in parcel No. 298 at Rákoskeresztúr cemetery in Budapest, together with those of other war criminals.

But after the eventual collapse of Soviet administration here, a simplistic public honors committee mistakenly assumed that all people executed by the Communists had sacrificed their lives for freedom. Or was this a deliberate act of neo-Nazi mischief? The funeral grounds of shame thus became a resting-place reserved for the “martyrs” of the nation.

Today, Tálas’ grave is furnished with all the trappings of honor that the living can lavish on the dead. His name has been at last removed from the list of “heroes” borne by a commemorative plaque, but those of other presumed war criminals are still present.

The grounds regularly receive ceremonial visits by state dignitaries and school children. Csapody and other lovers of Radnóti’s poetry argue that at least this should cease until another, better advised honors committee thinks its way out of the memorial mess.

No one suggests that the confusion has been cleared up by the removal of Tálas’ name. Other war criminals as culpable as Tálas may still occupy a resting place of honour.

According to incomplete and often unreliable records, the remains resting in parcel No. 298 include those of at total of 51 people condemned for war crimes. But their status is confusing because the notoriously unprofessional, Communist-controlled, post-war tribunals that condemned them often handed down hasty and harsh sentences driven by political rather than judicial considerations in the tradition of the Moscow show trials.

The issue thus reflects the confusion of values in Hungary’s current, painful transition from a humiliated subject state to a robust democracy — -one capable of confronting its past as well as the neo-Nazi challenge of the present. The controversy is therefore a matter of great symbolic significance because the declared choice of a country’s public heroes may influence the behaviour of its leaders in the future.   -Thomas Ország-Land

Posted on 02/28/2010 7:48 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 28 February 2010
An Interview with Dr. Richard L. Rubenstein
by Jerry Gordon (March 2010)

Dr. Richard L. Rubenstein is an ordained rabbi, noted theologian and author. He began his religious training at Cincinnati’s Hebrew Union College, receiving the B.A. from the University of Cincinnati. He was ordained and received the Master of Hebrew Literature from   the Jewish Theological Seminary. He earned the Master of Theology from Harvard Divinity School and the PhD in the History of Religion from Harvard. He was also a post-doctoral fellow at Yale. For a quarter of a century he taught religious studies at Florida State University where he was named a Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor, the University’s highest academic honor. Following his retirement from FSU, Dr. Rubenstein served from 1994 to 1999 as President of the University of Bridgeport (UB), Connecticut, where he continues to serve as Distinguished Professor of Religion. Upon retirement as president, UB’s trustees named him President Emeritus for his years of meritorious service. more>>>
Posted on 02/28/2010 7:33 PM by NER
Sunday, 28 February 2010
The Kings and Queens of England

by Esmerelda Weatherwax (March 2010)


Probably the most famous pub in England is the Queen Vic in the fictional Albert Square of the totally inaccurate serial East Enders. The Kings Arms, or Queen’s Head, or maybe a specifically named monarch are some of the most common pub names. These are a few. As is my usual practice with mosaic pictures clicking on them should take you to the Flickr photoshare site for a larger version. more>>>

Posted on 02/28/2010 6:23 PM by NER
Sunday, 28 February 2010
In Praise of Pointlessness
by Mary Jackson (March 2010)

film of a book can disappoint; it is better to see the two as separate than to fret over why plain Jane Eyre is pretty, or Mr Knightley young and handsome, or why Emma speaks in a South London accent. Nevertheless, I had high hopes of the 2006 film Notes on a Scandal. The novel by Zoë Heller, on which it is based, came out in 2003, so there would be no anachronisms to grate. And Judi Dench was in it. Judi Dench, like Juliet Stephenson and Helen Mirren, can transform the trashiest of films into a classic. more>>>
Posted on 02/28/2010 6:17 PM by NER
Sunday, 28 February 2010
The Worst of Intentions

by Christopher S. Carson (March 2010)

Dr. Spertzel, it is not a lie when you are ordered to lie.” 
    –Dr. “Germ” Rihab Taha, former head of Saddam’s bioweapons program, in response to UNSCOM inspectors when asked why she continued to lie in the face of proof,

Although it hardly made the American news, the Rt. Hon. Anthony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007, was called to the hot seat in London in February, testifying before Britain’s Chilcot “Iraq Inquiry” in what was ubiquitously referred to as his “Day of Judgment.” It seemed the political and media classes in Great Britain expected him to beat his breast in biblical lamentation for his vile sin of deposing Saddam Hussein’s monstrous regime in 2003. Perhaps the media and political classes at least hoped to see him sweat, or even see him beg for forgiveness, the way Richard Clarke did when he testified histrionically before the 9-11 Commission just as his Bush-bashing book hit the stores.  more>>>
Posted on 02/28/2010 6:14 PM by NER
Sunday, 28 February 2010
The Pipes of Pan

by Geoffrey Clarfield (March 2010)

 January 2010

istory does not repeat itself. We cannot return and we shall never return to ancient Rome. We will never witness a meeting of the Roman Senate. We shall never witness the gladiatorial games, we shall never meet an emperor and no matter how hard we try, we cannot get modern science out of our world view or the history of the twentieth century out of our consciousness, although given the state of University education these days, the latter may be possible within the next few decades. No, for all intents and purposes, the ancient world is dead to us. more>>>
Posted on 02/28/2010 6:11 PM by NER
Sunday, 28 February 2010
Taking Memes Seriously

by Mark Signorelli (March 2010)

In his book The Selfish Gene, noted nihilist Richard Dawkins ushered the faux-concept of memes into the world by declaring it to be a “unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation,”
which is exactly like referring to a unit of literary theory, or a segment of talent, or a yard of affection. Such blatant linguistic hucksterism would be startling from any other man but Dawkins, who, after all, cozened his way into authorial fame by attributing a common psychological state to tiny globs of amino acids, and then swearing up and down that he was doing no such thing. more>>>

Posted on 02/28/2010 6:05 PM by NER
Sunday, 28 February 2010
The Danish Right and the Resistance 1941-45

by Norman Berdichevsky (March 2010)

The first steps at active resistance in occupied Denmark during World War II were taken by a small “Ultra-Rightist” party, often denounced by many observers before the war as “Fascist” and known as “Dansk Samling” (Danish Unity) led by a charismatic founder, Arne Sørensen (1906-1978). This contradicts the established conventional wisdom that the political Left was everywhere in occupied Europe the source of opposition to the Nazis. more>>>

Posted on 02/28/2010 6:01 PM by NER
Sunday, 28 February 2010
Rudyard Kipling, India and Edward Said

by Ibn Warraq (March 2010)

There is a marvellous passage in Kim where Kipling good-humouredly pats himself on the back and is asking for our applause for the way that he has totally immersed himself in India, and has mastered all the nuances of caste, creed and etiquette. Practically every Westerner writing gushingly about India commits unforgiveable solecisms- there are traps for the unwary and untutored. Modern films like the ridiculous “Gandhi’ are the most egregious sinners. more>>>

Posted on 02/28/2010 5:56 PM by NER
Sunday, 28 February 2010
Echoes of the Holocaust
by Rebecca Bynum (March 2010)
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Rowman and Littlefield, 2010
260 pgs.
he first thing that strikes one in assessing Professor Rubenstein’s work, aside from his tight, non-nonsense style and meticulously detailed research, is the overall emphasis he places on what Richard Weaver termed the “metaphysical dream” of the peoples and players in the drama of history. Rubenstein is a man who understands the Nazi worldview as well as anyone alive and understands also that it was not a fluke, but grew from the soil of industrial modernity in which men are measured in terms of production and consumption and the cold facts of competition make the elimination of “surplus populations” a constant, looming temptation for governments both internally and externally. more>>>
Posted on 02/28/2010 5:53 PM by NER
Sunday, 28 February 2010
Thank You For Not Expressing Yourself

by Theodore Dalyrmple (March 2010)

Not every devotee of reason is himself reasonable: that is a lesson that the convinced, indeed militant, atheist, Richard Dawkins, has recently learned. It would, perhaps, be an exaggeration to say that he has learned it the hard way, for what he has suffered hardly compares with, say, what foreign communists suffered when, exiling themselves to Moscow in the 1920s and 30s, they learnt the hard way that barbarism did not spring mainly, let alone only, from the profit motive; but he has nevertheless learned it by unpleasant experience. more>>>

Posted on 02/28/2010 5:48 PM by NER
Sunday, 28 February 2010
A Musical Interlude: At The First Sign (Hanka Ordonowna)

Listen here.

Posted on 02/28/2010 10:30 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 28 February 2010
Clive Wilmer's Review Of "New And Selected Poems" By Samuel Menashe

From The Guardian of June 27 2009: 

A pot poured out

The Waste Land, according to Ezra Pound, is "the longest poem in the English langwidge". As his spelling suggests, he was not being entirely serious. After all, The Waste Land is only 17 pages long. But Pound was pointing out a singular truth: that the bulk of a poem has nothing to do with the number of pages it covers. It is much more a matter of depth - of suggestion, allusion and verbal complexity. Condensation, he says elsewhere, is poetry.

For the American poet Samuel Menashe, now in his 84th year, this truth was the founding principle of his art. His poems take up far less space than Eliot's, but they too are much longer than they seem. No poem in his New and Selected Poems is more than a page long, and most of them are considerably shorter. And the shorter they are, the more there is to say about them. For instance:

A pot poured out
Fulfills its spout.

A spout is most fully itself in the act of pouring. In emptying itself. The same might be said of a poem. This is not to say that the pot is a symbol. The pot is simply a pot. But it can also be described as an emblem: a particular which, reflected upon, can tell us what the rest of the world is like. What is especially striking about Menashe is the fact that the poem itself, in all its materiality, is also emblematic. The sounds of the word "pot" are, as it were, emptied into the phrase "poured out" to be fulfilled (filled full) in the word "spout". As Christopher Ricks remarks in his introduction, even the American spelling of "Fulfills" seems part of it; British spelling would alter the poem's meaning. Menashe has a way of attending closely to the minutiae of his text as of the world. Nothing is too insignificant.

This might suggest someone fussy, pedantic and obsessive, but nothing could be further from the truth. Born in New York in 1925, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Menashe fought in the second world war and belongs to that generation whose arrival in adulthood coincided with the news of the Holocaust. "[A]s a survivor of an infantry company," he writes in his preface, "I was marked by death for life when I was 19. In the first years after the war, I thought each day was the last day. I was amazed by the aplomb of those who spoke of what they would do next summer. Later, each day was the only day ... Perhaps it is why I am still in the flat to which I moved when I was 31 years old."

Unsurprisingly, Menashe's poems are mostly about death, but they are rarely elegiac or regretful. On the contrary, they are passionately affirmative, the poems of a man in love with life and with no needs but for the things that make life possible. Death for him, like the spout's action, is the fulfilment of life - or the transformation of life into another mode. "Leavetaking", the last poem in the book and a very recent one, reflects on the coming of death:

Dusk of the year
Nightfalling leaves
More than we knew
Abounded on trees
We now see through

Menashe enjoys clichés. In what he calls "homely expressions", he finds meanings contrary to the expected ones. Normally to "see through" something is not to be deceived by it. It can be associated with smug knowingness: you think of those types whom nobody ever kids, whom life never led astray, but who perhaps by that token have never fully lived. In Menashe, who like Socrates knows that he knows nothing, "to see through" recovers its literal sense. The trees in winter losing their abundant foliage, the particulars of day dissolving into night, the body fading away in old age: these are things in the process of becoming transparent - transparent to the life they are part of.

There is nothing sentimental in all this. Every now and then, Menashe makes us aware of what it means to be poor or to live near death and in danger. The poems are haunted, too, by his love for his mother, now long dead, and by his own solitude. But all these states are, for him, enriched by the processes of life, so the mother who once cared for him now nurtures his memory. "The more aware you are of death," he quotes her as saying, "the more alive you are."

These are religious poems. They are, in particular, the poems of a Jew, not a Hebrew speaker, but one whose holy book is the King James Version of the Jewish Bible. They are not doctrinally Jewish, nor are they exclusive in their sense of holiness. They are imbued with a sense that - in the words of William Blake, a poet who looms large in Menashe's pantheon - "Everything that lives is holy".

The literary world has not been kind to Menashe, as is often the case with poets who make no claims on it. (Again, one thinks of Blake.) He is almost unknown in the United States. His first book, in 1961, was published in Britain, and his chief admirers have been British, Ricks being an outstanding example. His rediscovery, on both sides of the Atlantic, is a major event, because he is one of the finest poets alive. This edition includes a DVD of Menashe reading, measuring the poems out, syllable by syllable, in his patient, musical voice.

Posted on 02/28/2010 10:22 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 28 February 2010
A Short Unforgettable Literary Interlude: Samuel Menashe

A pot poured out
Fulfills its spout.

Posted on 02/28/2010 8:27 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 28 February 2010
Chilling Internet Threat of More Tube Bombings
An exclusive from the Sunday Express
SECRET services are desperately trying to identify an Al Qaeda Lord Haw Haw speaking on a disturbing video threatening more Tube bombings and attacks on the Queen and political leaders.
The British terrorist has a distinct east London accent and is clearly at the heart of all new operations being planned by Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organisation.
The film, ominously called The West and The Dark Tunnel, depicts a graphic showing train lines leading into a tunnel.
There are also shots of the 7/7 London bombings with an underlying threat that more actions are being actively planned.Clips of one of the Tube suicide bombers, Mohammad Siddique Khan, are broadcast with him saying in a video before his death: “You democratically-elected governments continue to perpetuate atrocities against my people all over the world. You will be our targets.”
Britain is repeatedly criticised over its military and diplomatic links with Saudi Arabia.A picture is shown of Prince Charles meeting Saudi dignitaries, as well as footage of the Queen at a State banquet held for the king of Saudi Arabia. The Queen’s face and upper torso are deliberately blurred in the video because she is not wearing a burkha.
The role of the narrator who speaks over five scenes is causing deep concern among counter terrorism detectives and the security services.He warns that Britain will continue to be the target for major terrorist attacks as long as troops remain in Afghanistan while translating for an Islamic scholar.
In one scene he says: “The Pope also talked about the sword of Islam and how the religion was spread by the sword.“I would like to compare the sword of Islam to the sword of the crusade. The sword of Islam is the one who civilised fighting, and the sword of the crusade is the one who set up the courts of the inquisition in Spain. . . “
Introduced by the Londoner, Qatada says: “They have shackled our bodies, but our spirits are stronger than their prisons, and they cannot restrain the words of truth which we speak.” Qatada is being held in a British jail while a ruling on his deportation is awaited.
The video was broadcast on a well-known Al Qaeda website.Sophisticated software was used to alter the voice of the Londoner, but it was only partially successful.M15 and M16 are linking up with counterparts in the CIA and FBI to determine how, when and where the film was made.  There are suspicions that some of the editing and voice-overs were carried out in London, suggesting the propagandist is based in the capital.
There is a film on YouTube of that name which has been there since at least October last year. It is in 12 parts each about 10 minutes long. So far as I have listened the narrator of that production has an American accent and neither the London Underground not the British Royal family are featured. This must be a new film - The Dark Tunnel II - planned engineering work returns or some such.
Posted on 02/28/2010 6:33 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 28 February 2010
Dead British cyclist

Also from The Sunday Telegraph (thanks Alan)

A British man has been killed after youths allegedly rammed a car into a group of friends who were cycling in Saudi Arabia. John Currie, who worked for BAE Systems – formerly British Aerospace – is believed to have been one four cyclists who started being "cut up" by local youths in two cars on a main road on the outskirts of Riyadh, the Saudi capital.


Initially, it is understood that one of the cars clipped a cyclist causing him to fall off his bike. Then, however, one of the drivers is alleged to have turned around and deliberately ploughed his car into the cyclists. Mr Currie, 54, a human resources worker, is said to have been smashed against the vehicle's windscreen in the incident on Thursday, and later died from his serious injuries. His widow, Pauline, was returning to Britain this weekend. . . Mr Currie's body will be flown home for a funeral service.


A company spokesman said: "We can confirm that John Currie was a BAE Systems employee who worked for the HR team in Saudi Arabia and was involved in a road accident last week. Our thoughts and feelings are with his family and friends. The Saudi authorities are now investigating the case and it would be inappropriate for BAE Systems to comment any further." Company sources say that the arrest of an individual in such circumstances would not necessarily mean that criminal charges will follow. "Under Sharia law – the Muslim law – the driver is arrested even if it is an accident," said one source. "Under Sharia law too, he may have to pay a certain amount [to the family of the victim] depending on whose fault it was."

Posted on 02/28/2010 4:21 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 28 February 2010
Radicals with hands on the levers of power: the takeover of Tower Hamlets
Watch Channel 4 – Dispatches (the same outfit that brought Undercover Mosque) tomorrow at 8pm. This is also from The Sunday Telegraph.
The borough boasts improved schools, spruced-up parks and increased house building. But look closer and some more unusual things are happening.The council chamber has hosted at least one debate with an anti-homosexual Islamic preacher. Until last month, Tower Hamlets public libraries stocked hundreds of items of extremist Islamic literature, bought at taxpayers’ expense and available to borrow.
According to senior IFE activists speaking to undercover reporters for Channel 4’s Dispatches, Tower Hamlets council – with its 15,000 staff and £1.1 billion budget – is their most impressive political achievement yet.In secret filming, Abjol Miah, an IFE activist and Tower Hamlets councillor, said: “We’ve consolidated ourselves now. We’ve got a lot of influence and power in the council, councillors, politicians.” Abu Talha, an IFE member, said: “Our brothers have gone into positions of influence, council positions.”
At the last annual general meeting of the council’s Labour group, Helal Abbas, a former leader, accused the IFE of controlling the council. Many Labour councillors said Labour’s Lutfur Rahman, the council leader, was helped during his campaign by a senior IFE official, who canvassed councillors – both Asian and white – on his behalf.Many of the councillors concerned were approached for comment and none would deny it. Typical answers included: “It would be difficult for me to lie, so that’s why I’m not saying anything.”
After Mr Rahman became leader, Tower Hamlets appointed a new assistant chief executive, Lutfur Ali, who – the investigation established – has links to the IFE. In 2006 Mr Ali set up a group called the Centre for Muslim Affairs. The other directors were trustees of the IFE or directors of other organisations closely connected to it.Mr Ali got the £125,000 job even though council-appointed headhunters described him as “rather limited”, “one-dimensional” and “superficial”. They said he might “struggle with the intellectual challenges [of] a highly strategic role”.
One of Mr Ali’s key responsibilities is for council grants. Under his tenure, much greater sums have been paid to, or for, two particular community organisations, Blyda and Elite Youth, which recently merged to form the Osmanli Trust. Another project, Nafas, which works with drug users, has also been generously funded.
Abu Mumin, the senior manager at the Osmani Trust,was one of the IFE figures thanked by George Galloway at his election victory dinner at the East London Mosque in 2005.
The council has decided to hand over its entire youth service in the west of the borough, previously provided in-house, to a consortium in which Blyda and Elite Youth play a key role. It is also spending at least £3.3 million (from the same Spitalfield’s Development sweetener that has provided the minaret and is intended to supply the hijab arches) to build the Osmani Trust a youth centre, even though another secular youth centre recently opened nearby.
Sunday Telegraph comment here.

Telegraph View: Developments in Tower Hamlets are worrying news for British democracy
. Radical Muslims, in their unguarded moments, are unrepentant about what they believe to be their religious duty: the replacement of secular, tolerant and liberal democracy in Britain by a rigid theocracy, in which the country is governed by Islamic law.
But it would be wrong to dismiss the extremists as insignificant. The evidence we publish today suggests that at least one such group has infiltrated parts of the Labour Party, and has taken over important aspects of the running of the London borough of Tower Hamlets.
If the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) was open and frank about its aims, voters would be able to make up their own minds about whether they wanted to see its members in any form of government in Britain. It is part of any democratic system worthy of the name that those who abide by the rule of law are entitled to campaign in elections, even if we find their beliefs objectionable. But some members of the IFE demonstrate in private that they have an agenda that they are not willing to share with the electorate. They have also demonstrated that they are unwilling to abide by the procedures which are essential if elections are to be free and fair.
But since Mr Brown came to power, both the Government's policies and its ministers have changed with bewildering speed. The one constant has been the provision of millions of pounds to organisations such as the IFE, in the hope that this will help prevent violent extremism. There has never been any good evidence that this tactic is effective. 
It is not too late to prevent the radicals from advancing further. They are not popular within the Muslim community in Britain, and there is plenty of evidence that in any free and fair election, no representative from a radical Muslim organisation would win. But the Government has been strangely reluctant to face up to the seriousness of the problem. Until it does, the mechanisms of politics and government will remain open to perversion by those with their own insidious agendas.
At the last election, when George Galloway won the Bethnal Green and Bow seat for his new Respect party, it was partly – as he said – a verdict on Muslims’ anger with the war in Iraq. Unknown to most voters, however, it was also an important victory for the IFE.The Sunday Telegraph has obtained a secretly recorded tape of Mr Galloway addressing a celebration dinner at the East London Mosque, the IFE headquarters, on June 5 2005, shortly after his victory. “I am indebted more than I can say, more than it would be wise — for them — for me to say, to the Islamic Forum of Europe. I believe they played the decisive role … in this historic victory,” he said.
Jim Fitzpatrick, the Labour MP for Poplar and Canning Town, said the IFE had already started to turn its attention to the bigger prize of Labour.Odd things started happening, he said. “People were being signed up to be members, and told to turn up to the meetings where candidates were being selected with a list of those who they should be voting for,” he said. “We had never seen them before, and have never seen them afterwards. And that was corrupting our politics.”
Leaked Labour Party membership lists obtained by this newspaper provide clear evidence that someone is certainly infiltrating Labour.From 2006 to 2008, membership in the Bethnal Green and Bow constituency more than doubled from 551 to 1,159, at a time when the party’s membership nationally was in steep decline. In 2006, the party, like the constituency, was roughly 50-50 Asian and non-Asian.But 90 per cent of the new members were Asian. Some 175 joined in a two-week period between Sept 14-28, 2007, and 31 on a single day — Sept 20, 2007.
Some of the new members told The Sunday Telegraph they were signed up en bloc by Lutfur Rahman, the man accused of rising to the council leadership with the IFE’s help.In another case the supposed “members” could not be found and had never appeared on the electoral roll at the address they gave, but a person with the same name as an East London Mosque employee was on the roll at that address. Many other new members have the same names as staff or trustees of IFE-linked organisations.
A senior person in the London Labour Party described how the IFE called Muslim activists and councillors it deemed promising into its headquarters. “They have you up to the secure floor of the mosque,” he said. “One guy I know was shown a room with maps with pins of contacts in it, across London and Britain.The pitch to him was: we control party members and votes in all these places. Join us, and you will never be short of manpower to back you up.” That is why Labour brought them in of course - but were too stupid to realise that they would be used themselves.
Labour appears to recognise that it has a problem. The Tower Hamlets party has been placed in special measures, stripped of the power to select its own candidates. Ken Clark, the regional director, spends an unusually large amount of time in the borough.A party spokesman was quoted in the East London Advertiser newspaper as saying: “We’re trying to prevent organisations filtering in who may try taking over the party. We’re sensitive following events with Militant [Tendency] a few years ago.”
Posted on 02/28/2010 3:08 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 28 February 2010
Inextricably linked to controversial mosque: the secret world of IFE
More from the Sunday Telegraph - and more to come.
On Whitechapel Road in the heart of the East End stands the East London Mosque.. . . for a small number,(of worshippers) the mosque is the headquarters of a secretive, fundamentalist political network. The Islamic Forum of Europe is dedicated, in its own words, to changing the “very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed … from ignorance to Islam”.
The mosque and IFE are inextricably intertwined. Dr Mohammed Abdul Bari, the chairman of the mosque, and its vice-chairman are former IFE presidents.
The director and imam of the mosque are trustees of the group. Of 22 IFE trustees in recent years, only five have not also been trustees or officeholders of the religious centre.
The mosque calls the IFE a “social welfare organisation” and the IFE presents itself as committed to “community cohesion” and “tolerance”.  But the undercover reporters discovered that it was also a sophisticated political group with a structured rank system and hardline goals.  Prospective recruits must attend training. One undercover reporter was told that she would have to take an exam and swear an oath of allegiance and ordered to keep her membership of the IFE a secret.
This newspaper obtained an official transcript from the two-day annual training camp held for the IFE’s youth wing, the Young Muslim Organisation UK, held in Leicestershire last June. In one talk, Muhammad Rabbani, a trustee of the youth wing, told the recruits: “Our goal is to create the True Believer, [and] to then mobilise these believers into an organised force for change who will carry out dawah [preaching], hisbah [enforcement of Islamic law] and jihad. This will lead to social change and Iqamatud-Deen [an Islamic social and political order].”The nature of that Islamic social and political order in Britain was made clear when Mr Rabbani said: “Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.” He instructed the recruits to “protect yourselves” from music, television and “free mixing with women in that which is not necessary”.
Another speaker, Shaikh Abdullah Zainal Abideen, told the trainees: “Victory is for Islam and Muslims”.  Azad Ali, the IFE’s community affairs coordinator, was filmed by the undercover reporters stating: “Democracy, if it means at the expense of not implementing the sharia, no one’s going to agree with that.”
The IFE is not itself a violent organisation. None of its members is known to have been personally implicated in any terrorist act and it has, apparently sincerely, condemned terrorist attacks in London.However, the IFE appears satisfied to host speakers who advocate hatred and violence. Several of its senior officials, including Mr Ali, until recently defended Anwar al-Awlaki, who is blamed for inspiring at least three terrorist attacks, including September 11 and the attempted underwear bombing in Detroit.
Several IFE activists and officials, including Mr Ali, support Hamas . . . Mr Ali advocates the destruction of Israel, justifies the killing of British troops in Iraq, believes al-Qaeda is a “myth” and has praised Osama bin Laden’s mentor, Abdullah Azzam.
The mosque also insisted it was tolerant and liberal. . . Dr Bari has promised: “If I hear of a specific preacher inciting hatred, I will ban him from the mosque.”The investigation by this newspaper has established that far from being “banned”, hate and extremist preachers regularly appear at the mosque. It has hosted at least 27 of them over the past three years, and at least 18 of them over the past year alone.
Posted on 02/28/2010 2:33 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 28 February 2010
Islamic radicals 'infiltrate' the Labour Party
A Labour minister says his party has been infiltrated by a fundamentalist Muslim group that wants to create an “Islamic social and political order” in Britain.
This doesn’t surprise me as I have been able to see this happening in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, of particular interest as it is where my father's family originate and which I know well. 
The Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) — which believes in jihad and sharia law, and wants to turn Britain and Europe into an Islamic state — has placed sympathisers in elected office and claims, correctly, to be able to achieve “mass mobilisation” of voters.
Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Jim Fitzpatrick, the Environment Minister, said the IFE had become, in effect, a secret party within Labour and other political parties.“They are acting almost as an entryist organisation, placing people within the political parties, recruiting members to those political parties, trying to get individuals selected and elected so they can exercise political influence and power, whether it’s at local government level or national level,” he said.“They are completely at odds with Labour’s programme, with our support for secularism.”
Mr Fitzpatrick, the MP for Poplar and Canning Town, said the IFE had infiltrated and “corrupted” his party in east London in the same way that the far-Left Militant Tendency did in the 1980s. Readers here may remember Mr Fitzgerald’s dismay at being segregated from his wife at a constituent’s wedding last year. Leaked Labour lists show a 110 per cent rise in party membership in one constituency in two years.
In a six-month investigation by this newspaper and Channel 4’s Dispatches, involving weeks of covert filming by the programme’s reporters:
IFE activists boasted to the undercover reporters that they had already “consolidated … a lot of influence and power” over Tower Hamlets, a London borough council with a £1 billion budget.We have established that the group and its allies were awarded more than £10 million of taxpayers’ money, much of it from government funds designed to “prevent violent extremism”.
IFE leaders were recorded expressing opposition to democracy, support for sharia law or mocking black people. The IFE organised meetings with extremists, including Taliban allies, a man named by the US government as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and a man under investigation by the FBI for his links to the September 11 attacks.Moderate Muslims in London told how the IFE and its allies were enforcing their hardline views on the rest of the local community, curbing behaviour they deemed “un-Islamic”. The owner of a dating agency received a threatening email from an IFE activist, warning her to close it.
George Galloway, a London MP, admitted in recordings obtained by this newspaper that his surprise victory in the 2005 election owed more to the IFE “than it would be wise – for them – for me to say, adding that they played a “decisive role” in his triumph at the polls.
The IFE has particularly close links to Tower Hamlets council. Seven serving and former councillors said Lutfur Rahman, the current council leader, gained his post with the group’s help.  Some said they were canvassed by a senior IFE official on his behalf.
After Mr Rahman was elected, a man with close links to the group, Lutfur Ali, was appointed assistant chief executive of the council with responsibility for grant funding.This was despite a chequered employment record, a misleading CV and a negative report from the headhunters appointed to consider the candidates. The council’s white chief executive was subsequently forced from his post. That stunk to high heaven, although the local paper, the East London Advertiser had to be careful how this was reported. The readers contributing to the letter’s page were in no doubt that Martin Smith was ousted for no good reason.
Since Mr Rahman became leader, more council grants have been paid to a number of organisations which our investigation established are closely linked to the IFE.  Funding for other, secular groups (or other religious) was ended or cut. In the borough’s well-known Brick Lane area, council funds were switched from a largely secular heritage trail to a highly controversial “hijab sculpture”, angering many residents who accused the council of “religious triumphalism”. I have not said much here yet about stage two of this scheme, which is the arches; I wrote at some length about stage one, which was the 90 ft minaret (or as the council has it, the steel sculpture, merely shaped like a minaret complete with a crescent on top) erected outside the Mosque.
Mr Rahman refused to deny that an IFE activist had canvassed councillors on his behalf. . . The IFE said it did not seek to influence the council and had not lobbied for Mr Rahman. “If anything, existing members of the Labour Party have joined the IFE, rather than the other way round,” it said.
Either way it is sinister and I am glad that Channel 4 and the Telegraph have picked it up.
Posted on 02/28/2010 1:26 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 27 February 2010

One of the few pleasures to be had from reading about Islam is in observing how its rules plummet from the sublime to the ridiculous. Not that there's much of the sublime - Islam is a very earthbound religion - but what is not ridiculous is deadly, deadly serious. 

The juxtaposition of hell fire and shoelaces puzzles, but we need to consider that what we might see as bathos is quite logical in Islam, which doesn't distinguish the serious from the trivial, only the Islamic from the un-Islamic.

Today's Hadith is a case in point:

Every Muslim has five rights over another Muslim: to return the greetings, to visit the sick, to accompany funeral processions, to accept an invitation, and to respond to the one that sneezes.

How unlike the home life of our own dear snufflers: 

Speak roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes:
He only does it to annoy,
Because he knows it teases.

Sublime or ridiculous? Who knows, but there's glory for you.

Posted on 02/27/2010 2:19 PM by Mary Jackson
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