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Saturday, 11 November 2006

US students sue over Borat film

US students sue over Borat film

Sacha Baron Cohen

Sacha Baron Cohen's character has been a hit in US cinemas

Two US students are suing a film studio claiming they were duped into appearing in spoof movie Borat starring Sacha Baron Cohen as a Kazakh journalist.

The unknown plaintiffs are seen making sexist and racist remarks in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

Legal papers said the two men "engaged in behaviour that they otherwise would not have engaged in".

Spokesman for 20th Century Fox Gregg Brilliant said the case "has no merit".

The men are identified in the film as two fraternity members from a South Carolina university.
[Click Read More...]


They are not named in the case "to protect themselves from any additional and unnecessary embarrassment".

According to legal documents, a production crew took the pair to a bar to drink and "loosen up" before taking part in a documentary they were told would be shown outside the US.

The film "made plaintiffs the object of ridicule, humiliation, mental anguish and emotional and physical distress, loss of reputation, goodwill and standing in the community," the papers stated.

British comedian Cohen appears in the film as an apparently naive reporter whose enthusiastic offensiveness either leaves his US interviewees in shock, or persuades them to reveal a little too much of their own prejudices.

As well as Fox, the two men are also suing three other production companies.

The film is currently at the top of the box office charts in North America and the UK.


BBC News: US students sue over Borat film

Also checkout Bagel's: Comprehensive Borat Video list

Bagelblogger is a fan of Borat.

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Indonesian Troops join UNIFIL, arrive in Lebanon

Indonesian UN peacekeepers land in Beiruit

UNIFIL strength has reached a total of around 9700 troops from 21 different
countries after 129 troops of the Indonesian Battalion have arrived in Lebanon today, 10 Nov 2006.
Around 8,000 troops are deployed on the ground between the Litani River and the Blue
Line, plus the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force with 1,700 naval personnel.

BB: I'd like to keep an open mind, but I have some serious reservations about Indonesia providing any part of the UNIFIL contingent. I think it is especially inappropriate in the context of its openly declared hostility to the state of Israel.

JPOST: Israel okays Indonesian UNIFIL troops [Sept 3,2006]

Bagelblogger Always Fresh! - 'lest we forget'
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Friday, 10 November 2006

bottom cracker stunt backfires

And the new nomination for the world's most stupid act goes to:

fireworks prank went horribly wrong for a young British soldier who tried to copy a stunt from Jackass: The Movie by setting off an explosive he had inserted into his bottom.

The 22-year-old, who recently returned from duty in Iraq, suffered severe internal injuries, including a scorched colon, after the Black Cat Thunderbolt rocket exploded inside him.

Grainy footage of the incident was captured on a mobile phone camera and shows a large bright flash shooting from the man's rear end as onlookers cheer him on.

[Click Read more to...]

A witness, 16-year-old Daniel Kassim, was quoted in The Times as saying: "There were around 40 of us at a bonfire on Dundas Road.

"After the fire had finished we were hanging around setting off fireworks. The lad was saying, 'This is boring, what can we do?' He then decided to put a rocket up his backside and set it off.

"Everyone was just laughing and didn't believe he would do it but he pulled his trousers down, placed the firework and someone lit it.

"It exploded within a few seconds and he fell to the ground. No one thought he was hurt, we all thought it was hilarious.

"He stood up and walked for a few metres before stumbling and falling to the ground. There was blood coming from his bum.

"An ambulance was called and when they arrived they thought it was hilarious as well. No one really took it seriously."

Douglas McDougal, a spokesman for the North East Ambulance Service, told the BBC the man suffered "huge damage to that particular area".

"Potentially it could have been a fatal incident.

"There's a lot of major blood vessels round that area, so infection would probably be a huge problem for him.

"And also the body naturally produces methane gas, so combine that with the firework and the exploding effect with methane's flammability - it certainly could have been a lot worse than it really was."

Onlookers said the man was copying a scene from Jackass: The Movie.

A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents told The Times he was stunned at how stupid some people could be.

"It's so unfortunate that someone is now paying the price for the misuse of fireworks. Let's not forget these are explosives. They come with specific instructions about how they should be used."


The Age.com.au: Bum cracker stunt backfires

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Outcry at stupid Stefaan's croc shock

Beware the crafty crocodile,
That cruises down the river,
Menace lurks behind his smile,
Enough to make you shiver !
Naturally you'll feel afraid,
These creatures fear not man,
Should you paddle, swim or wade,
They'll get you if they can !
Some wise advice - respect the croc,
And never play the fool,
Because an unexpected shock,
May lurk there in the pool !

Queensland, Australia

Locals are outraged that a tourist's stupidity, which led to him being attacked, will mean a popular crocodile called Allan will be moved away by rangers.

[click read more]

The two-metre croc will live out its days in a farm as a breeding crocodile after biting 24-year-old Belgian tourist Stefaan Vanthournout's leg when he tried to get its attention by wading into a creek and slapping the water with a stick.

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service has already sent out a team to search for Allan.

Mr Vanthournout was with a group of about six other tourists who ignored crocodile warning signs and went into Masons Creek, on the south side of Cape Tribulation in Far North Queensland, after spotting the saltwater crocodile lying on the riverbank.

The group waded to the other side of the creek and Allan slipped into the water.

The crocodile was submerged but Mr Vanthournout wanted to get a photo so he grabbed a 30-centimetre stick and started hitting the water so Allan would come up.

Come up he did, lunging at the Belgian and leaving a decent set of teethmarks on his left knee.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service spokesman Mark Read said Allan would have to be moved because "we have an obligation to ensure we minimise risks to all users, locals and tourists alike''.

But locals are upset Allan is being taken away.

The president of the Daintree Cape Tribulation Tourism Association, Alison Gotts, said the crocodile was being punished for the idiotic behaviour of a tourist.

"I just wish they would leave him alone,'' she said. "I don't think being tormented by an idiotic tourist warrants his removal. I am annoyed by the decision that the crocodile is the one who is punished.

"If you were being taunted by that tourist you would bite him too. No one here wants him to go, he has been here for about five years.

"It is his place, we are the ones that have invaded his space. We feel honoured to be living here with a croc.''

But Mr Read offered the theoretical situation of a child being attacked by Allan in the future as enough reason of the Wildlife Service's decision.

He said the farm Allan will be sent to has not yet been determined, adding it may take some time for the team to track down the crocodile.

After the attack one of the other tourists raced away to get help from the local pharmacy.

"We just had someone coming running in off the beach saying someone had been attacked by a crocodile,'' Kelly Lash, owner of the Cape Trib Pharmacy, said.

Dr Lash called an ambulance while his partner headed down to pick up the victim, whom he said was more shocked than physically injured.

"It just let go right away. He was sitting there in shock [and there was] a little bit of blood,'' he said.

"It lunged out and grabbed his knee and the worst part is he didn't get the photo.

"I tell you, it's a candidate for the Darwin Awards - the awards for doing stupid things.''

The Darwin Awards "salute the improvement of the human genome by honouring those who remove themselves from it'', says the awards' website.

Dr Lash said it wasn't the first time an animal had bitten Mr Vanthournout.

"The funny thing is his girlfriend told us he's been bitten by a monkey before.''

Mr Read said the tourist was extremely lucky not to have received more serious injuries.

"He's very lucky. The animal is estimated at two metres long and 70-85 kilograms in weight. Had the animal say bitten him on the face and then done a death roll, which is quite often part of their prey-catching behaviour ... normally there's a much higher degree of injury.''

Mr Vanthournout was treated at Mossman Hospital for his injuries but was released last night.

AAP reports: The Liberal Party last week passed a motion proposed by Senator Macdonald at its annual state convention in Brisbane for crocodile numbers to be reduced in populated areas.

The call came after crocodiles were spotted at The Strand in Townsville, forcing authorities to close the beach.

Senator Macdonald said croc numbers had returned to "sustainable levels'' since hunting was banned in Queensland in 1972.

"I think there is value to be obtained from the cull of wild crocodiles in the form of meat (and) skins - much the same as we do for kangaroos,'' he said.

But Queensland Environment Minister Lindy Nelson-Carr said destroying a "prehistoric animal'' which lived in Queensland was ``nothing short of ridiculous''.

She said most crocodile attacks occurred as a result of people behaving irresponsibly.

"This particular tourist behaved in a very foolish manner,'' she said.

"We have good signage, we educate the public to be croc wise and most people who have faced a crocodile under serious circumstances, where they've lost their lives, have been irresponsible because they've been drinking (or) they've gone into the water of known crocodile habitats after 5pm.''


SMH: Outcry at stupid Stefaan's croc shock

Cartoon Caption by Bagelblogger.

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

According to the London-based al-Hayat newspaper, PA National Security Advisor Jibril Rajoub blamed Hamas for preliminary contacts surrounding a prisoners' exchange involving kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

During a visit to Cairo, Rajoub said that Hamas' insistence on the release of specific prisoners and Israel's refusal to comply is the cause for the derailment of the process thus far. (Roee Nahmias)

[Click Mr Bagel to Read More]

BB: An interesting position to take for an organisation that supposedly had nothing to do with Shalit's Kidnapping or the attack on Kerem Shalom. Why all of a sudden is it vital that Hamas has input into which prisoners are released when they so openly and readily denied any responsibility for Shalit's kidnapping? Is it because the whole affair was just another case of a 'new' terrorist group called "We change our name on a weekly basis" to avoid having Hamas or the Palestinian Authority taking responsibility.

The recent press on the trelease of 'Prisoners with no blood on their hands' is bound to make this situation even more complex.


Ynet.com: Hamas torpedoes Shalit negotiations
MFA: Kerem Shalom

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The Fate of a family living in Munich before the start of WWII

On October 27 1938, Hitler struck against the Jews and expelled from Germany 18000 Jews who, although living in Germany since 1918, had been born in the former Polish provinces of the Russian Empire. Jacob, Friedl and his parents were despatched by train to Lvov. By the time the train arrived in Lvov the Poles had worked out an agreement with the Germans and this train returned to Germany. Oskar somehow managed to avoid being rounded up that day but his younger brother, Salo was not so fortunate. He was sent to Zbaszyn (pronounced Sponssin) where the Jews were held in appalling conditions.

I came across this exceptionally well produced web site, researching Kristallnacht and the opening of the new Munich Synagogue. It is an extremely well documented exploration of the destiny and fate of the members of one family.


Above Right: The synagogue in Reichenbachstrabe, Munich after Kristallnacht.

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Thursday, 9 November 2006

France: We almost fired on Israeli warplanes

JPOST [Nov 9]:
France's defense minister, Michele Alliot-Marie said on Wednesday night that French peacekeeping forces came close to firing on Israeli warplanes that overflew their positions in south Lebanon.

Alliot-Marie told a parliamentary committee that French soldiers prepared anti-aircraft missiles for launch and were seconds away from firing them at Israeli planes.


You can't stop hezbollah from bringing in arms, you don't patrol Lebanon after dark, the Israeli soldiers haven't been freed, your there as 'peace Keepers' but you keep rattling the sabre at Israel?

There seems to be a major conflict of Interests happening with France. it's quite apparent that Lebanon is pressuring France to take a position on their 'soveignity' but only when it comes to Israel?

How do you almost fire on IDF planes? Were they coming in armed dropping bombs?

Do the French need to pick a fight to feel they're doing something, to impress the Lebanese?

Do they need history lessons about Peace Keepers in Lebanon and Hezbollah?
Hezbollah killed 58 French paratroopers in Lebanon knowing that they were under military orders not to shoot back or engage.


JPost: France: We almost fired on Israeli warplanes

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Wednesday, 8 November 2006

Mr Bagel goes to The Republican's Celebratory Breakfast

Seems Mr Bagel has a tiny little bit of egg on his face.


Bagelblogger Have a Nice Day!
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Sunday, 5 November 2006

Sheikh Hilaly Sermon at Sidon Mosque 13.02.04 - A Call to Jihad?

This is a translation of the Sermon that the Mufti of Australia made whilst in Lebanon in 2004. This translation comes from the Australian Embassy in Beirut.

It is provided here as some context to the present controversy concerning the Australian Mufti.

[Click read more to...]

Dear Brothers,
As I examine the situation of our nation from North to South and East to West, I notice that our nation is managed by leaders who act like Pharaohs, whose policies are pro-American and who have devilish plots.

As I examine the status of our nation, run by half men, I tell myself that the children of Palestine are real men. Whenever someone asks me: did our nation die? I answer: no, because there is a vein of life beating in the south, in cities like Sidon and Tyre, and in Southern Lebanon, that tells us that our nation is not dead and will never die. Our nation has never knelt down and it will only kneel before God.

Thus I thought that the true meaning of manhood should be the title and the theme of this blessed gathering at this Mosque, the Mosque of Jihad and manhood. This Mosque reminds me of the time when Muslims used to gather on Friday at the Prophet's Mosque.
The Prophet's Mosque was built of palms, had only three columns and was two meters by four. That was the Mosque where Islam first started and spread throughout the world. The sons of that Mosque trampled with their feet the palaces of Cesar and the King of Perse, stopped people from worshipping stones and taught them to worship God.

So I told myself, thank God, for what makes a Mosque are the men in it and not the stones or minarets nor slogans, nor sycophantic behaviour. Before we run short of time, I would like to ask this question: what's the difference between a man and a male in Islam.

This is a topic that we discussed two or three years ago in the North, but some brothers asked me to link this concept to the positions of Jihad taken by the sons of Palestine and the sons of the south in these difficult moments.

Dear brothers, what's the difference between a man and a male?
A male is one of two kinds created by God. He created all human beings, male and female. Even liquids, solids and gases are male and female but it is called negative and positive.

Electricity for example, cannot give birth to light unless there is a marriage between negative and positive. God said 'we have created everything in couples'. Blessed be God who created everything on earth in couples, and who based the life system on this duality: male and female.

As for manhood, it's a quality that has a special meaning in Islam. Some think that every male is a man. But the fact is that every man is a male but not every male is a man. God, when he talks about those who defended and protected our religion, he is referring to men and not males.

When the Koran talks about one of these people in the old times, he refers to him as a 'man' and not a 'male'. Some think that manhood means making children. But I tell you, and I have four wives and plenty of children, that this is not true. Don't think that the true meaning of manhood is restricted to having children.

If this was the case then a rooster will be a better man than you and you fathers. Remember that a rabbit has children every 40 days. Manhood cannot be measured by weight because an elephant weighs more than an entire family, nor by length because camels and giraffes are very tall, nor by speed because a dog runs faster than a whole running team, nor by cleverness because a fox can be more clever than you, nor by carefulness because a crow can be more careful than you.

Thus manhood in Islam has a special meaning. Believers are men who did what they promised God to do, and where did they graduate from (sic)? I refer to the Sura of Light which defines the meaning and conditions of manhood in Islam. According to Islam, real men are those who don't put business before prayer and religious duties.

They are those who fear God and who are rewarded by God for what they do because God rewards without limits. Dear brothers, according to Islam, manhood has specific conditions and characteristics.

Before I come and stand before you, I was reading a daily newspaper. On its front page, I read the following: '(Arab leaders) are searching for a place to hold the Arab summit'. Your leaders are looking for a place to hold their summit because none of them has the courage to host the meeting.

There is no Arab capital capable of convening a summit; a summit without men, a summit for half men. When I think of the true meaning of manhood and then think of them (Arab leaders), I can't help but say that they are trash, that they are a shame, that they sold their values and their brothers, they dishonoured themselves and their honour.

What do we tell God? We tell him that wolves are running his sheep? They are trash, they meet for a Summit but in the end they don't give birth to either a mouse or a cockroach because they lack manhood.

Brothers of Islam, there is a war of infidels taking place that requires real men and strong positions that prove our manhood towards God, his prophet and his religion. True manhood appears before God. A real man does what is asked of him and abstains from doing what he shouldn't.

Those who put their business before their religion are not real men. If it's time for prayer and you don't pray, then you are not a real man. Those who care for their living more than they do for he who gives life are not real men. Those who care for their gifts more than they do for he who gives them gifts are not real men.

Real men shouldn't put their business before God. Do you remember when our nation used to be ruled by real and honest men? In those days, a Muslim woman was made prisoner by the Roman forces. So she asked the Caliph to help her. When the prince of believers heard her cry for help, he called his generals for an urgent meeting to help one single woman.

So the Caliph sent a very famous letter to the King of the Romans and told him: 'When you receive this letter, release the Muslim woman you hold prisoner. If you don't, I will send an army that starts where you are standing and ends where I am standing. When the king received the letter, he not only he released the Muslim woman, but also sent Roman women to take care of her and guard her until she entered the borders of the Muslim kingdom.

How many Palestinian women are being imprisoned by Zionists in Israel? How many women were raped in Bosnia, Herzegovina and Chechnya? Where are real men my brothers? I want to remind you of some facts that happened in the past. On 5/9/1795, remember this date very well, a treaty was signed. There are still copies of it in Europe and Turkey.

This treaty was signed between Dari Hassan, the Head of the Islamic fleet and the representative of the Sultan of Algeria, and Washington, the President of the USA at the time. This treaty was signed on 5/9/1795. Repeat this date after me. This treaty stipulated that the US should pay Dari Hassan a certain amount of money if he granted protection to US ships when they passed through the Mediterranean Sea, because at that time the Mediterranean Sea was an Islamic lake.

So the US had to pay money to the Muslim fleet to protect its ships. Why is that? Because we were ruled by real men, whereas now we are ruled by half men who take their orders from the black house. May God help us defeat them. May they and their belongings become the prey of Islam and Muslims when we recover our manhood. Real men should not put their business before God, prayer and their religious duties.

Do you remember my dear brothers when Abdallah the son of Omar, was busy working in his field and couldn't attend the prayers with the prophet of God.
So he told himself: is this possible? My field is keeping me from attending the prayers next to the prophet of God? He fell on the ground, and was taken to his home to receive 'condolences' because he did not attend the prayers.

When the house was full of people, he said: my dear friends, you have noticed that my field has kept me from attending the prayers with the prophet of God. This field is evil, and I'm telling you now that I'm giving it up to the Muslim Wakf.

Whereas nowadays, we skip prayers to watch a game or a series on television, and we don't even feel sad. Why? Because we are not real men towards God.

A real man acts like one before God and his prophet. When a man wants to do something when God asks him to do something else, if he decides to do what he wants and not what God wants, then he is not a real man in the eyes of the Prophet. True manhood doesn't depend on age.

Sometimes we find a man who is over 40 or 50 years old and still acting like a teenager, still going to the beach in summer. Is that a real man? No. True manhood in Islam doesn't depend on age.

A child might act like a real man, while a man may act like a teenager. Some men, for example, don't like what the Sheikhs tell them. These people are unbalanced and cannot be considered true men no matter how old they are.

Those who don't believe what the Ulemas say, are not men, they are children. Those who are over 40 and do more evil than good should prepare themselves for fire. Those who don't believe in what the Ulemas say, those who don't respect any Imam whether he is alive or dead, are a catastrophe for Islam.

They want to get closer to God by cursing the Imams, They even go on the pilgrimage but don't pray with the Imam, neither in Mecca nor in Medina.

They pretend to be Muslims, but their ideas serve the Zionist and American project.

Real manhood has nothing to do with age. I want to remind you of the positions of the men and children of Palestine who are paying the price of our nation's powerlessness and who fight tanks with their bare chests, bombs with their prayers, and airplanes with their resistance.

The flowers of Al Aqsa are falling day after day. And our leaders are still looking for a place to meet. My dear brothers I want to remind you of a story that demonstrates the honourable position taken by a child. In the old days, there used to be a tyrant ruling Iraq.

One day a little boy passed near the tyrant's palace without showing any sign of fear of the soldiers. He passed near the palace, and the tyrant called the little boy.

The tyrant asked the little boy: what's your name. The boy answered: 'Abdallah'. The tyrant asked: 'The son of whom?' The boy, not wishing to implicate his parents, answered: 'I'm the son of my mother and father'. 'Where do you live?' asked the ruler. 'I live where God wishes', answered the boy. 'Where are you going?' 'I'm going to study the Holy Koran'.

The ruler asked: 'Have you memorised the Holy Koran?' And the boy answered: 'It is not appropriate to ask such question about the Koran? You shouldn't ask have you memorised the Koran. Only God has memorised the Koran'. So the ruler asked: 'Do you know the Koran?', and the boy answered: 'this is not an appropriate question to ask because only God knows the Koran'.

And the ruler said: 'What do you want me to say then?' The boy answered: 'ask me have you studied the Koran?' So the ruler asked the boy the question and asked him also to recite some verses from the Holy book. This boy was a true man because he stood up to the tyrant and was not afraid of him.

As for you, the sons of this country, a country small in surface but great in its positions, we were following closely the manly positions you took and what you have achieved when you intensified your strikes and heroic acts that forced Israel to withdraw and leave behind it its donkey Lahd (the Leader of the South Lebanon Army).

We felt proud of you and we thought there are still some men and some dignity left in this nation capable of achieving what you have achieved in the initiative between Hizbollah and the Israeli enemy (ie. The recent prisoner swap). This was an initiative that demonstrated the strength of Islam, and the tolerance, justice and openness of Islam.

Dear brothers, we need real men to answer the call of Jerusalem and the call of Palestine. Oh half men, you who look for a place to meet, if ever you meet you will stab your nation in the back. Jerusalem is calling you, but there is no answer. Al Aqsa is calling you and telling you 'I'm torn apart'.

Children and mothers are crying. Sons of Islam, there is a war of infidels taking place everywhere. The true man is the boy who opposes Israeli tanks with strength and faith. The boy who, despite his mother's objections, goes out to war to become a martyr like his elder brother.

The boy who tells his mother: 'Oh mother don't cry for me if a die. Oh mother, Jihad has been imposed on me and I want to become a martyr. Oh mother, Al Aqsa is imprisoned and I won't hesitate to help. Oh mother, come and say good bye for I'm going to fight and sacrifice myself.

Oh mother, free men defend their honour and consider martyrdom as an honour. Oh mother, I'm going with a stone in my hand to become a martyr' (cut)
Islam started with strangers and will return to strangers. In the old times they used to say that Islam started with strangers because it was defended by them.

The Islamic revolution started in the Arab peninsula but Islam was defended by non Arabs and the most prominent religious leaders in old times were non Arabs. Therefore we say that Islam started with strangers.

And I tell you that Islam will return to strangers if Arabs give up their religion or if preachers of Islam are persecuted. If this is the case, then Islam will become stronger and its strength will appear in other countries. And perhaps we will find one day an Islamic revolution, and Islamic ideology in western countries.

Don't be surprised if one day you hear the Muezzin calling for prayer and saying 'Allah Akbar (Allah is Great)' from the top of the white house. September 11 is God's work against oppressors. Some of the things that happen in the world cannot be explained; a civilian airplane whose secrets cannot be explained if we ask its pilot who reached his objective without error, who led your steps? (An allusion to 7/11) Or if we ask the giant that fell, who humiliated you? Or if we ask the President, who made you cry? God is the answer.

I'm telling you that there are no English Korans left in Australia or America or Europe. Everyone is converting to Islam: soldiers, pilots, engineers - those who are spending money to stop the ways of God will spend their money but will be defeated eventually. Trust me my dear friends.

Sometimes good lies in evil. Perhaps there will be an Islamic awakening that starts in the heart of America and restores the Islamic regime and the dignity of human beings. Islam is trying to find its way to people's hearts but it's being hidden by our attitudes, our mistakes, our behaviour and our divisions.

Islam is doing well in America, in Europe and in Australia. People are converting to the religion of God, and we feel proud when the banners of Islam are high and when our nation is united by Islam and we see that the nation follows God. In western countries, Islam is gaining ground every day.

We look forward to the day when religious texts are no longer misinterpreted and when there are no interpretations of Islam. It is not acceptable to limit Islam to one group or one sect. We shouldn't imprison Islam in one idea.

And if someone asks 'what's your nationality', answer him my nationality is 'there's no God but God'. If someone asks you to which party you belong, answer him 'My party is 'there's no God but God' and tell him 'Islam is my father'.

ABC: Religion and Ethics: Sheikh Hilaly Sermon at Sidon Mosque

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Has Mufti Day ended Down Under?

Sheik HilaliMufti fortnight?

In actual fact, the last fortnight has been a kind of Mufti day, with all focus being placed on a Ramadan lecture of a senior imam at the Imam Ali ben Abi Taleb Mosque in Lakemba, Sydney.

The imam in question, Tajeddine Hilaly, also claims the mantle of "Mufti of Australia, New Zealand & The South Pacific". He was granted this title in the late 1980's by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, the umbrella organisation representing State and Territory umbrella bodies which themselves represent mosque management societies.

Imam Hilaly is no stranger to controversy. His time in Australian public life has had its highs and lows. His inability to communicate in English, despite living in Australia for almost 3 decades, has compromised his ability to relate to the vast majority of Australian Muslims, at least 70% of whom do not speak Arabic.

The mosque where Imam Hilaly preaches is managed by the Lebanese Moslems Association (LMA), an ethnic Muslim body which limits full membership to male Muslims eligible for Lebanese citizenship. The majority of its congregation are from Tripoli and surrounding districts in Lebanon. Most are uneducated and from working class backgrounds.
[Click Read More to...]
Saddam's sheik
Sheik Hilaly became the imam of the mosque after the previous imam (the late Khaled Zeidan) was removed after allegations of financial impropriety during the early 1980's. Imam Zeidan was closely linked to the Iraqi Ba'ath Party and bore a striking resemblance to the former Iraqi leader.

The effects of Lebanon's civil war continued to be felt in Lebanese diaspora communities. Saddam was supporting Maronite militias, and Lebanese Maronite communities were influential in Lebanese affairs in Sydney. The sacking of a pro-Saddam imam was seen as a slap in the face to key Lebanese Maronite power brokers, who did everything in their power to oppose Sheik Hilaly.
Hilaly was appointed to the position of senior imam at the mosque after receiving a recommendation from the then Mufti of Lebanon. Sheik Hilaly lived in Lebanon and was known to have links with both moderate elements of the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood) and the Libyan Islamic Da'wah organisation.

First steps
One of the first steps taken by Sheik Hilaly was to build bridges between Sunni and Shia Lebanese Muslims. This outraged pro-Saudi elements who regarded any friendship with Shia Muslims as tantamount to opposition to Saddam Hussein's Western-backed war against Ayatollah Khomeini's Iran. The Saudi embassy were furious.

In time, other Arab embassies would join them. Hilaly cut his links with Libya and attempted to steer his congregation on a course of independence from the nefarious influence of Middle Eastern governments, their financiers and their embassies.

Hilaly made a point of using his sermons to castigate Arab governments for their suppression of political opposition, their human rights abuses and their chronic corruption. He also criticised them for taking a lacklustre approach to Muslims in Lebanon and Palestine.

Embassies and agencies frequently recruited disgruntled individuals to record the Sheik's speeches. Eventually, some rather ugly comments about mainstream Australian culture, especially about women's dress, also surfaced.

Troublesome congregation
It is perhaps no coincidence that Sheik Hilaly's mosque was named after Imam Ali, the fourth Rightly Guided Caliph and the First Imam of the Prophet's Household. Ali assumed power at a difficult time, and had to balance competing interests in a fractured and divided community.

The task was enormous, and Imam Ali needed all his skills, knowledge and wisdom to face the challenge.

Far be it from me to find fault from a man of Ali's stature, a man the dust of whose horse is worth more than my best deeds. To speak ill of Imam Ali is regarded by all Muslims, Sunni and Shia, as a sacrilege.

Yet I cannot help but mention in the present context a characteristic of Imam Ali. He was a straight talker. He spoke his mind. He spoke what he believed to be the truth. And he never compromised.

Such qualities were certainly needed by anyone having to deal with the Sydney Lebanese Sunnis of Tripoli and Mena. It was hoped Sheik Hilaly could rise up to that challenge. In the end, the task proved too great for him.

Sheik Hilaly's congregation were an exception in the rule of Muslim Australia. They were largely uneducated. Few spoke English. Indeed, the LMA executive rarely had any member of their management board who spoke passable English. They cared less for being Muslim and more for being Lebanese.

Lebanon has a fine culture. Lebanese migrants in France, the UK, North America and Brazil are known to be educated, upwardly mobile and model citizens.

However, the Lebanese Sunnis who migrated to Australia during and after Sheik Hilaly's assumption of imam-hood in the early 1980's were from less educated and more working class backgrounds. Many were heavily traumatised from the civil war and the subsequent Israeli invasion.

Loose lips
There's an old saying - loose lips sink ships. Unfortunately, Sheik Hilaly has not always been known for exercising caution in his speeches and sermons. On numerous occasions, he has been caught out making offensive and completely inappropriate remarks.

When faced with negative publicity, Hilaly then claims he was misquoted, mistranslated or misunderstood.

One such occasion almost led to his expulsion from Australia. At a seminar on the first Palestinian Intifadeh organised by a small group of intellectuals calling themselves the Senior Usrah Group, Sheik Hilaly was quoted as saying that Jews used sex and corruption to control the world.

How such statements could benefit the Palestinians is anyone's guess. They certainly didn't benefit Sheik Hilaly. Within a few months, his face was on every TV news bulletin and newspaper. Jewish community leaders and politicians expressed their outrage, and pressure was placed on the Immigration Minister for Hilaly to be deported.

Politics saves the day
Somehow, political trends in Australia ensured that the acting Prime Minister, Paul Keating, deemed it in his political interest to grant Hilaly permanent residency. At the time, a large chunk of Hilaly's congregation lived in Keating's federal electorate.

Part of his electorate formed the state seat of Bass Hill, and had just been lost by Keating's Labor Party in a state by-election.
Keating was desperate. So were the LMA. They approached him and sought his assistance. His office suggested they create a position for him which reflected his filling an essential niche within the broader Muslim community.

But the LMA was ill-equipped to provide such a platform. The LMA was an openly ethnic organisation with little support or influence among the broader Muslim community. Many non-Lebanese Muslims saw Hilaly as an irrelevant firebrand, an imam who refused to learn English and an embarrassment.

Hilaly surrounded himself with bodyguards and seemed to spend more time talking Middle Eastern politics than developing Australian Islam.

The LMA executive themselves were hardly model citizens. Most were unemployed, uneducated and unable to speak English. Their community was an embarrassment, and were known more for appearing on Criminal Court lists and for receiving large personal injury compensation payouts.

Middle class educated Muslims from Turkish, Bosnian, Pakistani and other culturally Muslim communities saw Lebanese Muslims as an embarrassment. The LMA's membership rules and the rhetoric of many of their executive members also gave them a reputation for being openly racist.

On its own, the LMA could do nothing. They therefore approached the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC). After much cajoling and arm-twisting, AFIC decided to create the position of "His Eminence, The Mufti of Australia, New Zealand & The South Pacific".

Sheik Hilaly was appointed to that position. It was a purely political move, designed to give the Keating government the trigger to grant Hilaly permanent residency.

Hilaly's women
Hilaly's appointment was resented by other imams, especially the Turkish imams who were associated with the Diyanet Vakfi (Religious Trust) associated with the Turkish Presidency for Religious Affairs. Turks are among the largest and oldest cultural Muslim communities in Australia. Many arrived during the mid-1950's, during the notoriously racist White Australia Policy.

Hilaly also became a hated figure among chauvinistic Lebanese men. When the LMA refused membership to women, Hilaly encouraged women in his congregation to organise themselves. And so was born the United Muslim Women's Association (MWA).

Hilaly was a passionate advocate for women's involvement in Muslim community management. He spoke powerfully against domestic violence, and gave his blessing and support when the MWA opened its first Muslim women's refuge in Sydney.

The MWA is often criticised for being dominated by Lebanese women from select families. However, the bulk of women using the refuge facility are from non-Lebanese backgrounds, including a fair proportion of non-Muslim women who find the MWA's crisis accommodation more culturally appropriate.

Hence, when the most recent case of foot-in-mouth disease afflicted the Sheik, the MWA were the first to castigate the comments but also to defend the man. They paid tribute to Sheik Hilaly's historical role in founding and supporting the MWA's activities.

Hilaly has other supporters. But after his recent comments about women's dress, he also has gained numerous critics. Hence, debate rages within the Muslim community about what his future role (if any) should be in the Muslim community. Many (including the writer) believe that the time has come for Hilaly to resign or retire gracefully.

At the same time, elements of the Australian media and pseudo-conservative establishment have used the Hilaly controversy to paint Muslims in a certain light to suit their mono-cultural revolutionary agenda.

We are told conservatives believe in maintaining the status quo. But some Australian conservatives want to tear down the Australian multicultural status quo. They see Muslim-bashing as their surest road to success.

[Bageblogger: There are points in this essay that I take exception to, but the essay is provided here for insight into the "Mufti saga" ]

This is an article that appeared on Alt.muslim on Nov 1 2006


Irfan is a lawyer and writer based in Sydney, Australia.

This article is reproduced here for the sake of review.

*Mufti Day is an expression used in Australia when School students are allowed to come dressed in their casual clothes.

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Coming out of the Closet

No matter how much he hid it, it was bound to come out.

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John Kerry Polls Youth to reveal his chances at Election Win

Poll Question: Can Kerry win Election

Click Video to see result


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Cat runs off with Severed toe

A cat ran off with its owners toe after he accidentally chopped it off and then left it on the floor while he called an ambulance.

Udo Ried, 41, was slicing bread in his kitchen in Luebeck, Germany, when he dropped a large kitchen knife onto his bare foot, chopping off his second toe.

While Ried was hopping to the bathroom to get a bandage and at the same time using his mobile phone to call emergency services, his cat Fritz pounced on the bloody toe and ran off with it into the garden.

Ried tried to get the toe back but after a few minutes he was forced to abandon the search to seek medical attention.

A spokesman for Luebeck hospital said they would have been able to reattach the toe if the cat had not stolen it.

Garfield is a registered trademark of Jim Davis


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Three Charged over Brutal Christian girls beheadings in Indonesia

Three men have been charged under Indonesia's terrorism laws for involvement in the gruesome beheadings of three young Christian girls in the religiously-divided district of Poso.

The three were this week charged with involvement in "an act of terrorism by using force that caused the loss of lives" in the October 2005 killings, an official with the Attorney-General's office said.

The girls were walking home when they were beheaded by machete in Poso's Gebang Rejo area on October 29, 2005.

Two of their heads were found near a police post and the third was discovered outside a Christian church.

The incident sparked public indignation in Indonesia and overseas.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono condemned the killings and Pope Benedict XVI deplored what he described as "barbaric murder".

Dossiers on the three men, Hasanuddin, also called Hasan, Lilik Purnomo also called Haris, and Irwanto Irano, were submitted to the central Jakarta district court on Monday in preparation for a trial and the defendants were then charged, the official said.

Achmad Michdan, a lawyer for the three men, confirmed that his clients would soon be brought to trial.

The court will have to form a panel of judges before issuing a date for the trial.

Poso and its surrounding district has been the scene of sporadic unrest since violence between Muslims and Christians claimed about 1,000 lives in 2000-2001.

Muslims and Christians live in roughly equal numbers in Poso.

But Muslims have accused the police, especially its paramilitary unit Brimob, of favouring Christians.

BB: I was unlucky enough to come across some very disturbing photos of this horrendous crime. I'll be very interested to follow the path of Justice here..


ABC News Online: Three charged over girls' beheadings in Indonesia

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Hysteric Cleric - He gets sick every time there's trouble - and We're getting sick of his trouble!

You can HUFF, You Can PUFF.. But We've had enough... of you Muff!

[Click Read More to...]

Media Circus after Mufti is accused of assaulting police

and gets 'rushed to hospital'.

Now I don't mean to bring undue attention to some one so obviously ill but have you noticed how convenient Australian Mufti, Sheik Taj al-Din al-Hilaly 'illneses' have been?


[1] - Sheik assaults Police officers [7/1/03]

-Mufti gets arrested for assaulting Police officers and traffic violations, gets rushed to hospital for 'Chest breathing problems'

According to the police press release, a 62-year-old man, now known to be the Mufti, was stopped by a highway patrol officer because a piece of metal was allegedly protruding from the side of his car. After further inquiries, police claim his car was both unregistered and uninsured, and they say he was arrested, along with another man who emerged from a nearby apartment block, because they started to argue and struggle with the police.

But the Mufti's lawyer, Stephen Hopper, says he has concerns over how his client was treated. The Mufti had to be hospitalised after the incident for an ongoing heart condition, but was later released.

Right: 'The Mufti had to be Hospitalised'

[2] - Sheik fights critics from sickbed
Channel 9: [26/10/06]

Mufti gets interviewed on Television by Channel 9 Australia for controversial comments on women bringing rape apon themselves through the way they dress.
The Lakemba-based imam Taj el-Din al Hilaly - said to be ill and depressed - issued a statement from his bed late yesterday saying he was shocked about how his remarks last month had been interpreted....

He went on to say in relation to a serious gang rape victim

"if she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred."

Right: Shown laying down with asthma and using a ventolator

[3] - Mufti ill at reaction to sermon [27/10/06]

Sheik Alhilali appeared badly affected by the backlash, with a spokesman saying he was depressed and confined to bed breathing with help of an oxygen tank.

The mufti of Australia and New Zealand was last night under intense pressure from within the Muslim community over the sermon in which he likened scantily-dressed women to uncovered meat eaten by animals.

Many Muslim leaders and groups yesterday distanced themselves from his remarks and some called for their religious figurehead to stand down.

Five Muslim leaders at Gallipoli Mosque in Sydney's west said many Muslims were "sick and tired" of religious leaders such as Sheik Alhilali claiming to speak on their behalf.

Right: Mufti ill at reaction to comments


[4] - Hilaly in hospital, condition unknown [30/10/06]

Muslim cleric Sheikh Taj al Din Al Hilaly remains in hospital in Sydney after apparently falling ill but his condition is yet to be confirmed.

An ambulance was called to the Lakemba mosque, in Sydney's south-west, this afternoon where Sheikh Al Hilaly was due to have a meeting with the president of the Lebanese Muslim Association to determine his future.

There has been outrage in the wider community over the sheik's reference to women in a recent speech.

The president of the Lebanese Muslim Association, Tom Zreika, spoke briefly outside the mosque.

"I have come to discuss the issues at the invitation of the mufti of Australia," Mr Zreika said.

"Due to unforeseen circumstances we'll be unable to continue our private meeting and there'll be no further comment."

His contrition came just hours following his collapse shortly after turning up at a crisis meeting at Lakemba Mosque yesterday morning.

Sheik Hilaly was rushed by ambulance and police escort to Canterbury Hospital in western Sydney, complaining of "chest pains".

Above Right: Condition 'Unknown'.

[5] - Ill Hilaly agrees to step aside [31/10/06]

Press coverage intensifys due to refusal to apologise, rushed to hospital after collapsing with 'chest pains' before Mosque Meeting.[4]

Misses out on important meeting with Tom Zreika President of Lebanese Muslim Association. An ambulance took the Sheikh to Canterbury hospital.

Zreika said, "I have come to discuss the issues at the invitation of the mufti of Australia. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we'll be unable to continue our private meeting..."

Right: Mufti on the way out? -

3 days later he ignored his promise to refrain from preaching and delivered a sermon to hundreds of supporters Friday. [5c] Nothing this Man says is believable. He hides behind 'Arabic',his lack of 'English', his translators, 'his poetry' he recites during sermons, when he is caught out, it's 'lack of context', it's cultural differences as he preachers Jihad unaware he is being recorded. He lies, decieves, preachers hatred and division.

Above Right: More excuses, and broken commitments.

[6] - Sheik out of Hospital [1/11/06]

AUSTRALIA'S embattled grand mufti may be out of hospital but he should never return to his position of influence, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said yesterday.

The mufti collapsed on Monday with chest pains as he faced calls to resign over his statements that scantily clad women invited rape.

The sheik collapsed during a meeting with Lebanese Muslim Association president Tom Zreika on his future amid calls for him to quit following his comments suggesting immodestly dressed women invited sexual assault.

Although he gave his strongest indication he would consider quitting in a written statement on Monday, his daughter yesterday said he was adamant he would not be quitting.

``He will not step down,'' she said.

``He's been always strong, tall, and defiant and none of this will shake him and bring him down.''


Meanwhile, Melbourne's Sheik Mohammed Omran stood by his belief that Muslim rapists received harsher jail sentences than non-Muslims, saying he had a right to speak out as an Australian citizen.

The cleric also defended Sheik Hilaly's status as a mufti, saying his position should be respected.

"We should respect the turban on his head. This is a sign of a Muslim scholar,"

Sheik Omran told a gathering at his Brunswick mosque on Friday.

"You are not attacking Sheik Taj here, you are attacking the scholars and behind the scholars their Islam altogether . . . this is what makes these people (Hilaly's critics) happy, to make us, sorry to say, barking on each other, and that is not (what) we should do."

Right: Controversial Fundamentalist Sheik Omran comes to his aid.

[7]- Defiant sheik turns on 'Islamic plotters'

MUSLIMS' first loyalty should be to God, not Australian society, Taj el-Din al Hilaly told worshippers at Lakemba mosque yesterday during a defiant speech in which he firmly reasserted his place as the leader of "moderate" Australian Islam.

"The plotting will always get back to the plotters. We say to them that Lakemba is the centre and headquarters and the leadership of the Muslims of Australia, the castle and palace of moderation and the mainstream Muslims."

Right: Mufti Suddenly feels better as he defies 'Islamic Plotters'


[1] ABC AM Programme: Sheik Taj el-Din Al Hilaly Facing Summons
[2] SMH:
Shiek fights critics from sick bed
[3] The Border Mail:
Mufti ill at reaction to sermon
ABC News Online: Hilaly in Hospital condition unknown
[5] The Australian:
ill Hilaly agrees to step aside
[5a] ABC News On Line:
Sheikh will step aside, Muslim colleague says
Washington Post: Australia's Cleric Preaches Despite Vow
Herald Sun: Sheik out of Hospital [Nov 1 2006]
[7] SMH: Defiant sheik turns on Islamic plotters

News.com.au: Sheik Hilaly prises Iraq jihadists

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