UK University Apologizes to China over Honorary Degree for Dalai Lama

21 May, from the London Metropolitan University website:

London Metropolitan University, yesterday presented His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama with an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy.

…Speaking at the ceremony Brian Roper, London Metropolitan University Vice-Chancellor said: ‘We are delighted to welcome His Holiness the Dalai Lama to London Metropolitan University and recognise his work by conferring this honorary Doctorate on him. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a worldwide figurehead and a man who has inspired countless people throughout his life. Today we honour him, not just for his leadership of his people, but also for his demonstration, through all his words and deeds, that peaceful means of resolution always remain possible.”

8 July, from the China Daily:

Britain’s London Metropolitan University recently apologized for bestowing an honorary doctorate to the Dalai Lama after the move drew intense criticism from a number of Chinese.

Brian Roper, vice-chancellor of the university, expressed in a letter to the Chinese embassy in London on June 16 his regret of his school’s move, saying that offering the degree to the Dalai Lama was not a well-considered decision, according to an embassy official last week.

Roper said the university is committed to keeping a good relationship with China and fully supports the Beijing Olympics.

Index on Censorship tells it slightly differently, but it’s still rather unedifying:

London Metropolitan University has expressed ‘regret’ at offence caused to China by it’s recent award of an honorary doctorate to Tibetan religious leader the Dalai Lama in May…A representative of the Chinese embassy in London confirmed to Index on Censorship that the letter of apology had come after the embassy had demanded it from the university.

UPDATE: Free Tibet has issued a press release:

The China Daily’s report has been emphatically rejected by London Metropolitan University. In an emailed statement received by Free Tibet Campaign, the university’s PR Officer, Irene Constantinides, confirmed that the Vice-Chancellor had met with officials from the Embassy but stated “London Metropolitan University has not apologised for making the award”.

She said in the statement that the vice-chancellor “expressed regret at any unhappiness” caused to the Chinese people by the award, but reiterated that the university “will not be apologising for the award” and that the reward would not be retracted…A full copy of the statement emailed to Free Tibet Campaign by London Metropolitan University can be seen on request.

I’d like to know how exactly one expresses regret without conceding any kind of apology.

Hagee Gets Videos Pulled from YouTube in Time for CUFI Event

Just weeks before the 2008 Christians United for Israel “Washington-Israel Summit” with John Hagee and Joe Lieberman (Walid Shoebat is also on the bill), Bruce at Talk to Action reports that YouTube has removed videos containing extracts from Hagee’s controversial sermons:

Last week, on July the 1st, I received notice from YouTube that eight of my videos on YouTube’s website had been taken down, allegedly for copyright violations. The videos included the notorious “God Sent Hitler” video which caused sufficient scandal, because it got shown widely on American and international TV, to force John McCain to renounce the political endorsement of Pastor John Hagee. JHM Ministries also targeted videos from Max Blumenthal, from People For The American Way and even from a Christian fundamentalist ministry critical of Hagee’s “Prosperity Gospel” teaching. According to a Huffington Post story just posted by Sam Stein, in all over 120 videos were taken down at the request of John Hagee Ministries.

Stein himself tells us:

…as Blumenthal and Wilson note, claims that this was merely an effort to combat copyright infringement contain several, glaring holes. For starters, Hagee had complained but never sought legal recourse for past publication of his sermons. Moreover, Blumenthal’s work, while filmed at a Christian United for Israel event, was his own, not Hagee’s. “There was no copyrighted material because it was me reporting on a public event,” he said.

Even [Hagee PR man Juda] Engelmayer admitted that he didn’t know how Blumenthal’s particular work “fit the criteria” that the lawyers used. “But if he puts it up [on YouTube] again, I’m almost positive it won’t be challenged.”

Hagee certainly doesn’t have a case: the clips appear in videos created for the purpose of criticism, and so amount to fair usage. Back in March Michael Savage lost a copyright suit against CAIR after CAIR used some of his anti-Muslim ramblings for its own purposes; in 1986 a court agreed that none other than Jerry Falwell could use material copyrighted to Larry Flynt.

One Hagee sermon has slipped through, though, in this video made by someone else:

PS: Note on Juda Engelmayer (sometimes spelt as “Juda Engelmeyer”): he works for a PR firm called 5WPR. According to The Jewish Week:

Fearing an onslaught of protestors, kosher meat giant Agriprocessors hastily changed a meeting planned for Tuesday afternoon in Midtown into a conference call….AfgriProcessors  took on the New York-based firm 5W, which also represents evangelical televangelist Benny Hinn, controversial Pastor John Hagee, the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the Zionist Organization of America and Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, among others, after the bad publicity following [an] immigration raid.

Joel Richardson Responds

Joel Richardson (author of Antichrist: Islam’s Awaited Messiah) has responded to my post concerning the Book of Revelation and the Codex Vaticanus, and once again it’s a gift.

To recap: Richardson’s associate Walid Shoebat had given a presentation in which he had claimed that the letters in Revelation 13:18 which are taken to be the Greek for “666” are in fact Arabic for “In the Name of Allah”, revealed to the author of Revelation in visual form by God in the First Century and misunderstood as Greek by later Christians. Shoebat claimed that he drew this conclusion after viewing the ancient Codex Vaticanus. I noted various shortcomings to this bizarre thesis, including the observation that the Codex Vaticanus does not contain the Book of Revelation. Richardson then wrote to me insisting that the Codex does indeed contain Revelation, showing me an 1868 facsimile edition of the text to prove it. He suggested I was in error because I had allegedly got my information from Wikipedia, and perhaps had been drinking beer before writing. Alas for Richardson, I pointed out that Revelation was tacked onto the end of the Codex in Italy in the Fifteenth Century, and was in no way a part of the ancient manuscript itself. Further, the 1868 edition does not include this fifteenth-century supplement, and instead provides a typeset version. I also pointed him to some scholarly resources.

Richardson’s response to all this is amusing. He argues I am still “in error” for some reason, and that I “look bad”; and further that I

tried to overplay a largely irrelevant oversight on Walid’s image sourcing (it is irrelevant it his larger point because the image he used is precisely like the Textus Receptus and the Byzantine Majority text or any other ancient Greek Mss)

But Shoebat’s whole argument was that by looking at an ancient manuscript he realised that Greek letters were not intended, whereas Greek letters certainly were intended in the “Byzantine Majority Text”. And besides, it seems that Shoebat did not apparently look at any “ancient Greek Mss” anyway! It seems that the way to admit to being wrong in the circles in which Richardson moves is simply to declare the issue to be “irrelevant” and to change the whole terms of the argument. Hence Richardson points me to a new site he has made, in which he uses the letters from the 1868 edition (which, by the way, he elongates and misleadingly labels as part of the Codex) as the basis for his comparison with the Arabic.

Richardson continues by demanding to know why

…do I not see you publicly renouncing the doctrine of death for Apostasy that is practiced throughout the Islamic world and endorsed by Orthodox Muslims?

 As it happens, I have written plenty on Islamism and its unhappy consequences, but what that has to do with the issue at hand is unclear to me. Presumably the argument is that prioritizing truth and reason over hating Islam is morally deficient in some way, and that therefore my counter-arguments to the Arabic “666” can be discounted.

For easy reference, here are the relevant pictures:

(1) The oldest fragment of Revelation 13:18 we have, from the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (“616” rather than “666”, so the middle figure is different):

(2) The phrase as it appears in the Fiftheenth Century supplement to the Codex Vaticanus* (the “A.D. 350” designation is incorrect for this part of the text):

(3) The text as it appears in the 1868 typeset edition:

(4) The 1868 text as elongated by Richardson:

(5) The 1868 text as reproduced in Shoebat’s presentation: 

Salem Kirban looks like a serious scholar in comparison.

*Thanks to a reader for confirming the provenance of this – I had originally doubted the designation.