BBC Documentary on Senegal’s Mouride Brotherhood

In Islam, accountability is very important. That’s why we are sure that at the end, everybody will realise that the true Islam, the real practice of Islam is here, in this sub-Saharan Africa, where they think that we are nothing, where we were colonised and considered as nothing. That’s where the light, the pure light of Islam is going to develop and irrigate the world.

These are the words of Cheikh Sene of Bambey University in Senegal, speaking to the BBC’s Crossing Continents programme about the country’s Mouride Brotherhood. The whole programme (which includes input from Youssou N’Dour about his 2005 Egypt album) can be listened to here.

The NAR and Perry Go Large

Numerous news outlets and blogs have covered Texas Governor Rick Perry‘s prayer rally “The Response“, which took place last Saturday. The most comprehensive coverage was provided by Right Wing Watch, which has several clips and a guide to the various speakers. The clips show

  • James and Shirley Dobson, who called for (in RWW‘s words) “God to rescue America from the evil that surrounds it just as he rescued those soldiers from the Nazis at the ‘Miracle of Dunkirk'”
  • anti-choice activists “Alveda King, Lila Rose, Harry Jackson and Susan Tyrrell on stage to publicly pray to see the end of abortion”
  • a prayer “by Don Finto to send ‘revival’ to Israel and for the Jewish people to ‘come to their own Messiah'”
  • Mike Bickle, who railed “against those who are ‘redefining love’ against the teaching of the Bible while declaring repeatedly that regardless of what other religions say, ‘there is no other God besides Jesus’ nor any other standard of truth”
  • and a generational blessing, which included James Dobson on how “the current generation has been subjected to more wickedness, evil and lies than any generation in history”, Vonette Bright praying  for “the return of prayer and the Ten Commandments in public schools”, and “weeping prayer” from “‘Student Mobilization’ coordinator Laura Allred”.

There’s also

a short video featuring the appearances by all of your favorite Religious Right and elected leaders, including Perry, David Barton, Tony Perkins, Penny Nance, Gov. Rick Scott, Gov. Sam Brownback, Jim Garlow, John Hagee and finally even a quick shot of Perry giving some love to Don Wildmon of the AFA, the founder of the SPLC-designated hate group which footed the bill for this prayer event.

According to Kasie Hunt at Politico,

The original schedule had Cornerstone Church Pastor John Hagee speaking immediately after Perry. But the program was reshuffled at the last minute without explanation. (The full schedule was distributed just to the press, not to attendees, with the disclaimer that it was subject to change.)

…He compared Perry to Abraham Lincoln: “We pray for our governor Rick Perry who has had the courage today to call this time of fasting and prayer just as Abraham Lincoln did in the darkest days of the Civil War. We thank you for his leadership, his integrity, and his loyalty to God and country.”

(Incidentally, later this month will see Hagee in Birmingham. UK)

Also present was Sarah Posner, who has a report for Religion Dispatches:

…The lineup of speakers at The Response reflect the impact of new charismatic and Pentecostal movements, especially those emphasizing spiritual warfare and round-the-clock prayer and worship, and which have produced another sort of army. That one is not particularly intrigued by the horse race of politics, but rather focused more exclusively on the supremacy of Jesus and preparing for his return.

That caused some controversy for the organizers of Perry’s event, which included speakers and endorsers who follow the New Apostolic Reformation. The NAR’s strident language of spiritual warfare and emphasis on prophecy, signs, and wonders, has drawn scrutiny. But it has the same dominionist aims of the old religious right, even while employing some new rhetoric.

Sarah notes that there is some disquiet from other sectors of the Christian Right about this:

 A week before The Response, Marsha West, a conservative writer and editor of the website Email Brigade, wrote a scathing blog post; which she published on the website of Response host the American Family Association, and which was subsequently taken down.

West regards the NAR to be a “cult”, and it is the case that the movement’s emphasis on personally charismatic leaders empowered by the Holy Spirit has led to some troubling situations (such as the Todd Bentley fiasco). The AFA has attacked trends in neo-Pentecostalism previously.

Sarah asked Jim Garlow about it:

When I asked Garlow about West’s complaint, he shrugged it off, saying that he was not familiar with the term New Apostolic Reformation, even though he knew its founder, Peter Wagner. “I have a lot of confidence in him spiritually,” Garlow said of Wagner.

“There are a lot of theological differences here, but we’re focusing on one issue: Jesus,” Garlow added.

Wagner (whom Rick Warren has been keen to downplay past links to) receives regular messages from God and interprets all kinds of mundane events as the work of demons which need to be battled through acts of spiritual warfare and deliverance.

Garlow’s supposed unfamiliarity with the term “NAR” is unconvincing: back in 2009 he took part in a Generals International conference organised by Mike and Cindy Jacobs, who billed themselves as “Presiding Apostles” of the “United States Reformation Prayer Network”. Was Garlow not at all interested about what those words might mean?

Further commentary on The Response has been provided by Rachel Tabachnick at Talk to Action. She notes that the NAR has a national structure in place, of which Perry may be able to take advantage, and she suggests that Finto’s prayer for Israel to find the Messiah – a polite way of saying “convert to Christianity” – represents a “changing public tone towards Jews” (I looked at how the Christian Right has related to Judaism here). The involvement of Mike Bickle is also significant:

After Lou Engle, Bickle is one of the most controversial figures in the movement and source of the “Oprah as forerunner of the anti-Christ” statement that made the news.  However, Bickle is a toxic figure in much of the evangelical world.  He was the leader of the “Kansas City Prophets” in the 1980 and 1990s and was at the center of a very divisive dispute in Charismatic evangelicalism.

Garlow told Sarah that “It’s not about whether Perry becomes president, it’s about making Jesus king”, while Perry told the crowd that God’s “agenda is not a political agenda, but a salvation agenda.” And out of respect for these spiritual ideals, Perry is reportedly waiting a whole week before using the event as his electoral springboard; Politico reports that

Rick Perry intends to use a speech in South Carolina on Saturday to make clear that he’s running for president, POLITICO has learned.

According to two sources familiar with the plan, the Texas governor will remove any doubt about his White House intentions during his appearance at a RedState conference in Charleston.

Håvar Krane and Stop Islamisation of Norway

Norway’s TV2 has a report about Håvar Krane, a (since repudiated) mayoral candidate for Norway’s right-wing Democrats in Norway (Demokratene i Norge) Party. Krane had attended a Stop Islamisation of Norway (Stopp islamiseringen av Norge, SIAN) conference at the Anker Hotel in Oslo in February, following which he was secretly recorded expressing the “pleasure” he would get from having a certain politician kneel before him prior to execution by gun, and discussing using Molotov cocktails to block exits from a government building which he would then enter.

Krane made his remarks during a private discussion in the hotel bar with a couple of Norway Defence League activists; it was also reported that Kaspar Birkeland, another Democrat mayoral candidate, had been present, although he claims that he had gone to bed by this point. Krane now says these were “empty words” during a “heated” conversation, and he has been interrogated by the police.

Birkeland also claims that Krane was asked to leave SIAN over his extremism after just a couple of weeks. Back in April Searchlight suggested that Krane was part of a faction in the NDL that was attracting members of SIAN, and that some NDL elements consider SIAN leader Arne Tumyr to be “soft”. However,  Tumyr is praised in Krane’s blog, which is currently set at private view but available to a limited extent through Yahoo cache and Google page previews. The blog also shows that Krane was, on the face of it, genuinely appalled by Breivik’s terrorism and by the reality of violence. He raises the possibility that Breivik’s actions were the result of collusion between the far-right and jihadism, but only as speculation.

Meanwhile, Adam Barnett notes in the Spittoon that

Stop the Islamisation of Norway have stated that ‘the politically correct Norway must take their share of the blame for the terrorist attack’ carried out by Anders Behring Breivik…

…SIAN is the Norwegian branch of ‘Stop Islamisation of Europe’, an umbrella group which entrusted its American branch, Stop Islamization of America, to writers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer in January 2010.

…Since SIOE and SIOA have issued statements condemning Anders Breivik, it will be interesting to see whether they will now disown their Norwegian branch or take action against its leadership.

I blogged on what Geller refers to collectively as the “Global Freedom InitiativeTM” here; the “Stop Islamization” branding is also used in the title of her new book, which comes with endorsements from William “Jerry” Boykin and John Bolton.

Abortive Quilliam Foundation Speaker Denies EDL Made Threats, Accuses Quilliam of Lying

As I blogged last month, the Quilliam Foundation recently announced a meeting at which two “former senior members of the EDL who have renounced the group” would “speak out against it publicly” and “answer questions about the organisation and their time inside it.” The event did not in fact take place, and one of the speakers, Leighton Evans, complained bitterly that his views about the EDL had been misrepresented by Quilliam.

Shortly afterwards, Hugh Muir reported in the Guardian that the event had been cancelled because of threats from the English Defence League. I was sceptical, and Evans has now publicly confirmed on Facebook that this report is untrue:

read the bit about me and harry both pulling out of the quilliam foundation thing both citing threats? no one threatened me and ive got the email telling ghuffar hussain exactly why i pulled out. if anyone wants the truth get in touch.

It seems to me that there are two possibilities here: either Hugh Muir made it up, which is unlikely, or incorrect information was given to the Guardian by someone at Quilliam. If the latter case, it may have been an simple error, but we sadly also have to suspect that Quilliam may have concocted a lie to spin away what looks like a fiasco. Either way, a shadow has been cast over Quilliam’s integrity.

It is likely that that Evans was only asked to speak following a recommendation from the thuggish Charlie Flowers, who boasts about of his close links to Quilliam and who knows Evans. Flowers – who spends nights spamming Twitter with abusive messages about me – has his own theory about the Guardian report:

… Guys, we all know where these reporters go to online to get inaccurate info about us- a certain blog that mocks religion? Maybe we should set Hugh Muir straight.

Yes, when things go wrong for Flowers it must be my fault – although my blog doesn’t “mock religion”, it’s something he has found it convenient to accuse me of, and it’s obviously me that he’s referring to here.

Flowers must think that Evans is a complete idiot – my first blog post on the subject has nothing about threats from the EDL or anyone else, while my second post was actually a corrective to Muir’s piece (at this point I contacted Muir, but received no response). If Evans bothers to read these entries for himself, he’ll see that Flowers is attempting to manipulate him.

UPDATE: Flowers now writes that:

OK, so we’ve all contacted “Hugh Muir” regarding his inaccuracies in that diary piece, which was based on total fabrication via an anti-religious blog site… and he has refused to respond. Why is that? Is he frightened? Does he realise people now rigorously check links?

Or is it that an aggressive email from Flowers ranting about “a total fabrication via an anti-religious blog site” simply baffled him, given that if Muir got information from anyone it must have been from Quilliam?

Flowers goes on to boast of his links to the Guardian: that would be reference to a profile of his “Cheerleaders” group by Haroon Siddique which appeared in April.

UPDATE (20 September): I recently wrote to Ghuffar Hussain, politely asking him to clarify Quilliam’s relationship with Flowers and to explain why the ex-EDL event had been cancelled. I also pointed out that Flowers was telling lies about me in order to deflect Evans’ anger away from Quilliam. Hussain declined to reply, although my message was apparently forwarded to Flowers. Flowers then posted a Tweet (since removed), calling me “cunt Bartholomew” and accusing me of harassing Quilliam. That would appear to be the only response that the Quilliam Foundation wishes to make on the matter.

Bolton and Boykin Back Geller

As has been widely reported, Pamela Geller has announced a new book, Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance. A press release has some endorsements:

“The First Amendment’s free-speech guarantee is central to America’s character and our fundamental liberties.  Equally important, and stemming from the same philosophical roots, is the Amendment’s twinned protection of religious freedom and its prohibition of establishing religion.  These pillars of liberty are under attack around the world, and even here in America.  If you want to preserve the Constitution, read this book.” — John R. Bolton, former US Ambassador to the United Nations, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations.

“Americans are searching for ways to get involved in stopping the encroachment of Shariah law on the US Constitution and the takeover of our nation by the Muslim Brotherhood. Pamela Geller provides practical steps for every American to get involved in stopping the attack on our nation by the forces of evil. I hope that every concerned American reads and heads this book.” — Lt. General Jerry Boykin, former United States Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, and author of Never Surrender: A Soldier’s Journey to The Crossroads of Faith and Freedom.

The two quotes illustrate Geller’s appeal across the right: one can’t imagine the hard-boiled Bolton having much time for Boykin’s brand of neo-Pentecostalism, which revolves around revelations given to prophets such as Jim Bakker and Rick Joyner, along with using the Bible to discern signs of the End Times in current events. It is, though, a tricky balancing act: in March 2010 Geller and her sidekick Robert Spencer had to scramble after their links with the Christian Action Network caused embarrassment for Geert Wilders, due to CAN’s anti-gay views.

The new book’s title, of course, references Geller’s “Stop the Islamization of America” organisation, which she took over from DL Adams and Kendra Adams in April 2010 at the request of Anders Gravers and Stephen Gash of Stop Islamisation of Europe. SIOA’s website was recently scrubbed of all content and access to cached versions has been blocked, but it is known to be controlled by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which was set up by Geller, Spencer, Gravers,  a certain Richard Davis, and John Joseph Jay.

Jay is also a member of SIOA’s board, and he came to wider attention in August last year after several sanguinary comments came to light, including the belief that “if we are to excise the ruling class, it will be with violence.” Spencer responded with bluster about  “leftists” and “misrepresentation”, but he was not able to explain away Jay’s obviously violent rhetoric. While I’m not in favour of raising the spectre of Breivik whenever anti-Islamic views are expressed, Jay’s ramblings and Spencer’s rationalisations for them are particularly distasteful to ponder post-Utoya.

Geller’s previous book – an anti-Obama screed entitled The Post-American Presidency – was published by Simon & Schuster’s conservative imprint Threshold, and came with a foreword by Bolton. Stop the Islamization of America has been published by WorldNetDaily Books, which is perhaps best-known for Jerome Corsi’s birther conspiracy tome Where’s the Birth Certificate?

Scrutiny of Johann Hari’s Journalism Revives Ken Joseph Controversy

At the end of June, Damian Thompson reproduced an an extract from a SourceWatch entry about Johann Hari. It caught my eye as it includes details about an old controversy, from 2003:

…In 2003, Hari favored the US invasion of Iraq and went so far as to wag his finger at the “left” for not backing the “Iraqi opposition” or not respecting “opinion polls” finding that the majority of the Iraqis welcomed the US war against Iraq…

Shortly afterwards, Hari took at face value a story originating from UPI on Kenneth Joseph, who was purportedly an American anti-war “pastor of the Assyrian Church of the East” who went to Iraq as a ‘human shield’ but recanted.

Writing in Counterpunch in April 2003, Carol Lipton exposed the flaws in the neatly packaged Kenneth Joseph story. The original source of a story was UPI and the Washington Times, both of which are owned by the Unification Church. The fact that the original UPI story was written by Arnaud de Borchgrave should also have raised some questions. In particular, she writes:

He wrote that “Joseph was explaining that his trip had shocked him back to reality”. Yet Hari never states to whom Joseph did the “explaining”, or where…

In response to emails querying him about this story, Hari wrote (May 6, 2003):

If it’s a malicious hoax, I’ll add a rider to the original article on the Indie website explaining exactly that.

I’m still not able to get in touch with him to ask him about it…

On September 25, 2003, after being informed of the querying of Joseph’s veracity, Hari appended a correction to his original column on his own website. “It transpires that Kenneth Joseph was probably a bullshitter, and that his claims were false. I should have checked his story out more rigorously before I used it. The full details of the Joseph affair can be found at the excellent Counterpunch website,” he wrote.

A recent Private Eye (1293 p. 10) alludes to the same incident, claiming that “as long ago as 2003, Eye 1076 showed how he… made up stories about Iraqis telling him that they wanted the West to invade”.

This all looks like an unnecessary mess: the fact that Hari took a quote from an UPI story “at face value” is hardly a great journalistic sin, but it seems that because he failed to give proper attribution he found it difficult to extricate himself when scepticism arose about Joseph and de Borchgrave’s report. This was despite the fact that Hari’s article (published in the Independent and the Seattle Post Intelligencer) was an opinion piece, and so one would expect quotes to be derivative.

However, it should be noted that the Counterpunch article is ludicrously overheated. De Borchgrave, Lipton explains, is “linked to the CIA and far-right think-tanks and institutions”, and she feels the need to include gratuitous references to the Unification Church’s “fanatical followers, called ‘moonies'”, who “are subjected to mind-control techniques”. The article weaves a conspiracy theory in which Joseph had an “inside track on plans for a post-war Iraqi government” and was “involved in long-term policy planning for the future of Iraq, with an eye upon being a key player in post-war reconstruction.” Research errors also help to whip up a bogus sense of intrigue:

…he claims to have written a book along with his father on Assyrian Christians in the Middle East. Yet, nowhere does list any references to books written by Kenneth Joseph, Jr., nor was he mentioned on a website email directory of Assyrian authors.

In fact, as the article notes, Joseph was raised and lives in Japan (his parents went over as missionaries from the USA), and his books – in Japanese – can be found on

Further, the original UPI source article does not focus on Joseph, and he appears in only one paragraph:

A group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers made it across the border [into Jordan] today with 14 hours of uncensored video, all shot without Iraqi government minders present. Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip “had shocked me back to reality.” Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera “told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn’t start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam’s bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists. Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head.”

De Borchgrave’s description of Joseph as a “pastor of the Assyrian Church of the East” is misleading – he’s actually a Protestant of Assyrian heritage (Lipton calls the Church of the East “obscure”, apparently because she hadn’t heard of it), with US and Iraqi citizenship. The fact that de Borchgrave made this error suggests that he had had only casual contact with Joseph, rather than that he and Joseph were conniving in a plot at the behest of Rev. Moon and the CIA.

However, one would like to know what happened to Joseph’s video material, and the “shredder” story remains unconfirmed (although that doesn’t mean it’s untrue or that Joseph wasn’t told about it). Joseph wrote an article about his change of heart, entitled “I Was Wrong!“, but a promised book-length account has failed to appear. Of course, it’s possible that his pacifism was a pose adopted in bad faith which he could then repudiate for maximum publicity, but it’s a big jump from that suggestion to asserting it to have been the case, and from that to concocting conspiracies.

Joseph claims to have on-going links with political leaders in Iraq, but he remains based in Japan and bills himself as an “international columnist and speaker”. In 2008, he was at Obama’s inauguration with some Official Street Preachers; last year, he for no apparent reason decided to troll the Facebook page of the naturalised Japanese activist Debito Ando. Ando gives his bemused account here.

Documentary on Evangelist Joshua Milton Blahyi, “General Butt Naked”

Two documentaries recently broadcast on British television have looked at how someone responsible for crimes against humanity has turned to Christianity for redemption. Back in May, BBC 4 showed Pol Pot’s Executioner, about Comrade Duch (Kaing Guek Eav), and last night More 4 showed The Redemption of General Butt Naked, taking an observational approach to a notorious Liberian militia leader who now goes by the name of of Evangelist Joshua Milton Blahyi.

One difference is that while Duch maintained a false identity and a low profile even after he received baptism from Rev Christopher LaPel, Blahyi has a public ministry which focuses on his penitence, and he has sought out those whose lives he has affected – this includes a young girl, Praise, who was blinded in one eye by Blahyi when she was a baby, and his former bodyguard, David Johnson (nicknamed “Senegalese”): Blahyi shot him in both legs and prevented him from getting treatment, with the result that his legs had to be amputated. Some of those he meets offer tearful forgiveness; others seem traumatised by the very sight of him. Blahyi also tries to look after some former militia members now living rough; he explains that he used to train child soldiers using videos of Hollywood films, to show that when a character is shot dead the actor still reappears in other films and that therefore being shot is not to be feared.

At Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee in 2008 Blahyi was recommended for amnesty, despite claiming responsibility for 20,000 crimes. Human rights activists complain that Blahyi has not been properly called to account, even if his change of heart is genuine, and at one stage, following death threats, he was forced to flee to a refugee camp in Ghana.

The documentary includes an interview with Bishop John Kun Kun, who facilitated Blahyi’s conversion to Christianity fifteen years ago – Kun explains that he took the risk of visiting the Butt Naked Barracks to explain Jesus to him. Blahyi in turn recalls that he was disturbed by the encounter, and demanded an explanation from Johnson as to how Kun had managed to reach his room. Johnson told him that he had not seen any man, despite keeping watch, and this was what prompted Blahyi to shoot him in the legs. The documentary shows Blahyi making his peace with Johnson, shortly before Johnson died from tuberculosis – Blahyi pondering his grave provides the documentary’s end shot.

Blahyi’s ministry is called “The End Time Train Evangelistic Ministries”, and he bills himself on a poster shown in the documentary as “ex-war General and Chief Priest to the late Liberian President Samuel K. Doe” and as one of the “Anointed Men of God” (a status which African Christians are often reluctant to challenge). He has a website, where he gives further details:

…Both of Joshua’s parents are of the Sarpo-Krahn tribe in Kabedeh District, Sinoe County, South-Eastern Liberia  Joshua’s birth was traditionally arranged to replace his father as the priest to his Krahn tribe.

At the tender age of 7 Joshua was forced to forgo his primary education in Monrovia to face his traditional destiny;  he was trained for five years and took over his Priestly role to the great Krahn tribe at age 11. By the virtue of being the chief priest to his tribe, he became the spiritual consultant to the late Liberian president, Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe. His great occultic strength raised him to the rank of “General for the Butt-Naked’ Battalion(completely nude fighters), which made him one of the most brutal, fearless and well known players in Liberia.

…Joshua is the president and founder of the End Time Train Evangelistic Ministries founded in 1999 in Ghana; with the vision and mission to shine the Light of Christ and break the chains of ignorance in the dark and remote parts of Africa. Joshua’s evangelistic  function carries an infallible TRUTH that the kingdom of darkness in Africa cannot resist or deny. Joshua evangelistic journeys has effected Ghana, where it started, Togo, Benin Republic, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chile Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Garbon, Cote’d Ivory, Guinea, Serria Leone, Kenya and Liberia his home land.

The inclusion of Chile is a surprise. His site also includes production notes for the documentary.

Blahyi also claims that he headed “the coastal line division of the Black Witches of West Africa”; I suspect this is a polemical attempt to link his former religious identity with African traditional religion more generally, painted in conspiratorial terms. Elsewhere, he writes that this is where “the continent is controlled from.” Given the damage caused by witchcraft accusations in Africa, this kind of language sets off alarm bells.

It is difficult to know what to make of Blahyi. As Ceri Radford writes in today’s Telegraph:

His supposed conversion was deeply disconcerting and raised more questions than this film – even though it was five years in the making – could possibly answer. Blahyi said that because of his faith he was determined to make up for his evil past, but his attempts at reparation – shouting the gospel to adoring crowds, meeting his victims and badgering them for hugs and forgiveness – seemed underscored by the same megalomania as his killing sprees. It was all about him.

Drew Halfnight, writing in the United Church Observer, notes that

Only once do the filmmakers catch their subject in a moment of crystal-clear repentance. “Lord,” he sobs after retreating alone into a hotel bathroom, “when is this all going to be over?”

(Name variations: Milton Blayee, Milton Blahyee)

John Hagee’s Spokesman Writes to Birmingham Mail

The Birmingham Mail (UK) has published a letter from  Ari Morgenstern, spokesman for John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, concerning Hagee’s upcoming visit to the city. Strangely, however, the letter has been deleted from the Mail‘s website without explanation in the past few hours. It reads like Morgenstern’s work when compared with other statements he has made in defence of Hagee, so it probably wasn’t removed over concerns about genuine authorship.

I’ve managed to rescue a few fragments via Google:

An objective individual reading the recent hateful attacks on Pastor John Hagee would come away with a terribly flawed view of a man millions look to for theological and spiritual guidance…

He is a passionate Zionist and serves as the chairman of the largest pro-Israel organisation in the US. In late August, he will be preaching at the Birmingham Symphony Hall. Through certain prevalent myths, old quotes, and the like, readers would be convinced Hagee is a “hate Pastor”. Hagee was accused of calling the Catholic Church “the great whore,” and a “false cult system”. While this is a prevalent internet myth, when the American newspaper Politico recently published this assertion, they quickly acknowledged their error.

As for Hagee’s attitudes towards Jews and Judaism:

… In his effort to answer this question he spoke with his closest friend in the clergy, the Orthodox Jewish Rabbi in San Antonio. The ADL not only welcomed this reconciliation, but noted “We are grateful that you have devoted your life to combating anti-Semitism and supporting the State of Israel.”

The rabbi is Aryeh Scheinberg, a long-time ally of Hagee – I blogged on him here.

Given the confusions about Hagee preaches, let’s hear the man himself. The audio available here was posted to YouTube a while ago; the video and background music were added by someone unconnected with Hagee’s ministry.

April: Muslim World League Building Graffiti Case in Court

Here’s one I missed from April; from the Camden New Journal:

A CARER who wrote “EDL” and drew a religious cross on the wall of a mosque has been found guilty of aggravated criminal damage.

Andrew Baldwin, from Fitzrovia, admitted daubing the three letters – representing the far right English Defence League group – and the cross on the wall of the Muslim World League (MWL) building in Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, on December 10 and again on March 5.

…He said his graffiti had been aimed at “wrong’uns” rather than Muslims in general, adding: “Anyone going into that building to do their business and pray to their god, it’s not aimed at them. It’s aimed at the other types.”

…Judge Anthony Martin said Mr Baldwin’s evidence had been “inconsistent”, adding: “In our view that graffiti would offend a class of people rather than ­particular individuals.”

The building also contains a mosque, and Baldwin was also found guilty of damaging a CCTV camera.

The Muslim World League is an organisation which deserves some critical scrutiny: its main donor is Saudi Arabia, and it is generally recognised that the global promotion of Wahabi Islam is a cause for concern. It seems unlikely, though, that this particular distinction motivated Baldwin (not that his behaviour can be justfied either way).

This was not the first time the MWL building has been targeted: in 2010 the building was plastered with stickers advertising “Cheerleaders Against Islamic Extremism” – a group which I have had to write about a number of times, and which boasts of working with groups such as the Quilliam Foundation. An official video was posted to the “Cheerleaders” Facebook page, captioned “Mr Rivers’ sticker raid on the league”; I outlined my dealings with this person (real name Matthew Edwards) here.

Who Created Fake Paul Ray Blog in 2009?

From the Malta Independent:

Interpol has reportedly requested Maltese police to investigate Paul Ray and his alleged links to Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. At the request of the Norwegian police, the Maltese authorities have been asked specifically to identify Mr Ray’s acquaintances and movements in Malta.

Norwegian leading newspaper Dagbladet reported that Interpol has filed a request with the Maltese police to investigate Mr Ray and that it will be the Security Services which will be assisting the Norwegian investigators with the line of inquiry.

As I’ve written previously, there are no “links” – just a shared interest in Templar matters.

However, the police must of course look at everything in detail just to be sure – in which case, they may well cast an eye over EDL Chronicles, a shortlived fake blog which was created in August 2009 in Paul Ray’s name. It carries several articles reposted wholesale from his Lionheart blog, along with a new introduction in which the author writes that

At this present time i have decided to concentrate on supporting the English Defense League. But also getting support from StormFront and the National Front and the British National Party and many more.

This was brought to my attention by an email on the same day:

Dear Bartholomew

You are a traitor to our Country, but im letting you know this.  I have had a break, and wish to carry on supporting what i will for our fellow Countrymen.  You are a left wing idiot.  im disgusted. Reported what you will about me, i am using ip protection.  But still Supportive wise to be open of what i believe in.  You have not read all of my blog, but that is your undoing… We will succed

The address was a “lutonlionheartuk” at gmail, which is very similar to Ray’s email address and obviously meant to mislead.

So, who wrote the above, which seeks to link Ray with Neo-Nazis?

Perhaps it was a rival EDL activist, wishing to discredit him. Perhaps it was someone hoping to mislead me, so that I would look foolish. The poor spelling could well be a red herring – it looks affected, and the creation of the fake website was done carefully. In the months that followed, I also received fake communications from sockpuppets pretending to be an anarchist and an Islamic extremist – I wrote about this in August 2010, and the man I suspected created an abusive blog about me two days later.

Whoever created the fake blog, it now stands as clear evidence that playing around with sockpuppeting is grossly irresponsible, as well as unethical (for other examples see here and here). The real author of the fake blog should now step forward and admit what they have done. Doing so may save the police and security services a bit of time in dealing with very serious matters, and would be a way to make amends. Failing to do so would make a mockery of any supposed “higher purpose” which might be in the author’s mind.