Patrick Goodenough


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Condemning the deadly attacks on Nigerian Christians on Christmas Day, Islamic organizations around the world called the atrocities un-Islamic, yet opinion polls tracking views on terrorism suggest that significant numbers of Muslims disagree.

While scientific polling has found a decline in support for suicide bombings over the decade since 9/11 in most major Muslim countries, minorities of respondents - in some cases, large minorities - continue to regard them as justified "in defense of Islam."



A liberal Anglican church in New Zealand has denounced as “Christian intolerance” the defacing of a large billboard it erected outside its premises to mark the Christmas season. The billboard shows an apparently shocked Virgin Mary examining a home pregnancy test kit.

A Catholic activist damaged the billboard on Sunday, during a prayer protest by around 100 Catholics outside the St. Matthews-in-the-City Church, located on a busy intersection in downtown Auckland.



A Shi’ite cleric affiliated with the Iranian regime has warned about the “danger”  of Christianity spreading in the Islamic republic. This come amid reports of an anti-Christianity propaganda campaign and the seizure of thousands of Bibles.

According to Mohabat News, an independent Iranian Christian news agency, Ayatollah Hadi Jahangosha expressed concern about “the spread of Christianity among our youth,” citing the availability of Christian satellite television programs, books and objects.

 



As more details about Norwegian mass murder suspect Anders Behring Breivik emerged over the weekend, some prominent voices who warn about the dangers Islamist extremism poses to the West found themselves under fire.

Breivik has confessed to killing 93 people, mostly children, in Friday’s bombing and shooting rampage. He was described by a top Norwegian police officer as a “Christian fundamentalist.” He also has been identified as a freemason, and in online writings, he identified himself as a “Justiciar Knight Commander for Knights Templar Europe,” a reference to a medieval Catholic military order.



A British Islamic group known for its provocative publicity stunts says a borough in northeast London will be the first target of a campaign to establish "emirates" in the country - Muslim enclaves where shari'a law is enforced.

Waltham Forest, an area identified in the most recent census figures available as having the fifth-biggest proportion of Muslims - 15 percent - of any local authority in England or Wales, has been singled out by radicals behind the group calling itself Muslims Against Crusades (MAC).



President Obama’s nominee to a top State Department post is one of the few American diplomats to have met North Korea’s Kim Jong-il, whom she later described as “smart, capable and supremely confident.”

Wendy Sherman traveled to Pyongyang in 2000 in her capacity as counselor to then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Visiting South Korea four years later – when she was no longer in government – Sherman had positive things to say about the reclusive Stalinist leader. 



Although Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has championed women’s rights from Azerbaijan to Zambia, it took her weeks to respond to an appeal to publicly support a campaign by Saudi women to be permitted to drive.

Even then, her comments on Tuesday came not of her own initiative, but in response to a question at a press availability – and after Saudi women activists and journalists had questioned her public silence on the subject.



In his major policy speech Thursday on the protests sweeping the Middle East, President Obama did not refer once to Saudi Arabia, arguably the Arab world’s least democratic state.

He also made no reference to Lebanon, where political maneuvering by the Shi’ite terrorist group Hezbollah saw the U.S.-backed prime minister, Saad Hariri, ousted earlier this year and a Hezbollah-backed candidate named to replace him.



Iran this weekend hosts an international conference on combating terrorism and promoting peace, but organizers left no doubt that their vision of “peace” is not quite universal.

At an event in Tehran Wednesday to promote the “International Conference on Global Alliance against Terrorism for a Just Peace,” the organizers released 195 caged pigeons. The birds, they said, were intended to be a symbolic representation of the world’s countries, “except Israel.”



The Obama administration’s reluctance to acknowledge and confront the religious motivation behind Islamist terrorism is not helping the counter-terror effort, leading experts warn in a new report.
 
The administration’s recently released National Security Strategy (NSS) defines the enemy as “al-Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates,” but Washington Institute for Near East Policy report argues that it is a bigger one – “the extremist ideology that fuels and supports Islamist violence.”
 
Authors J. Scott Carpenter, Matthew Levitt, Steven Simon and Juan Zarate contend that just because ideology is not the only driving force behind violent Islamic terrorism does not mean it can be ignored.
 
Instead, the administration should recognize Islamism as “the key ideological driver” behind the threat posed by al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups, and prioritize an effort to combat the ideology, they say.