Christian Zionists Plan to Set Holocaust Day Agenda

From the website “Learn from“:

They gave us our roots. We cut them off and sent them to die in places like Auschwitz, Dachau and Birkenau. While we were silent they disappeared like smoke before our eyes.

Apparently “we” does not refer to a bunch of ancient Nazis; “we” are the people of Europe in 2006, who need to make amends for Nazi atrocity. And how?

Now it is time to repent and learn from history. Only by confronting the past can we build a better future in Europe. No longer can we remain silent when the calls to destruction are again echoing in the world.

Now it is time to repent and learn from history. Only by confronting the past can we build a better future in Europe. No longer can we remain silent when the calls to destruction are again echoing in the world.

This time let’s get it right. Perhaps the old roots can start to give life again? Perhaps the rain will fall again over the hills of Europe, and the trees bear new fruit.

…The objective of this initiative is to make the week leading up to January 27 also a week of remembrance, and pro-active action against anti-Semitism, for the church in Europe. What role did the church play in Europe in the 1930’s? What role could we play today in order NOT to repeat the mistakes of the past? Are the Jewish people still threatened to destruction today?

The answer of course, is “yes”: there’s Ahmadinejad, Hamas, Islamist extremists in Europe chanting “Death to the Jews” (along with “Death to pretty much everyone else as well”, but let’s not dwell on that), Holocaust deniers, plus condemnation of Israel from the bloke who wrote Sophie’s World (Jostein Gaarder, mis-spelt on the site). Does this not prove that Holocaust Day should also become a day of unconditional support for the State of Israel? That would seem to be the inference:

“Learn from History” will provide you with speaking points, background material and a DVD about how Christians today are raising their voices against anti-Semitism and are promoting better relations between Europe and Israel.

…Sign up today – adopt January 27 as a day of remembrance in your church. Our goal is to have churches in each 25 member states signing up to take part in the campaign. During the Remembrance event we will also provide you with an opportunity to financially support the work which is today carried out by European Coalition for Israel to fight anti-Semitism and improve relations between Europe and Israel.

I looked at the European Coalition for Israel here; it’s a project of Christians for Israel International, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, Bridges for Peace and the Christian Friends of Israel. The lobby group was founded in Jerusalem in 2004, with the blessing of hard-right Israeli politician Yuri Stern, of the racist anti-Arab Yisrael Beiteinu party.

“Learn from History” also has a leadership team:

Colin Dye, Pastor, Kensington Temple London, United Kingdom

Dye is influential in British charismatic Christian circles; as it happens, I visited his church early in 2003, just before the invasion of Iraq. I recall Dye prophesied an easy victory, followed by a mass conversion of Iraqis.

Ulf Ekman, Pastor, Word of Life, Uppsala, Sweden

Ekman is a preacher of the Prosperity Gospel, with links to Oral Roberts and an underground church in Afghanistan; I’ve touched on his activities in the past.

Ingolf Ellssel, Pastor and Chairman of Pentecostal European Fellowship

Ellssel, who represents 5 million Pentecostals, was in Israel just the other day, where he was joined by an official from the Holocaust museum Yad Vashem in re-enforcing the “criticise Israel and you’re an anti-Semite” message. The International Christian Embassy reported:

We regret that certain churches are considering divesting from Israel, while we’ve also seen some nations in Europe stepping away from Israel,” Rev. Ingolf Ellssel of Germany, the Chairman of PEF, told the gathering. “Pentecostal and Charismatic churches in Europe have a tradition of praying for and engaging with Israel, but we are determined to harness our rapidly growing movement to do even more for the Jewish people and their embattled nation.”

In response, Shaya Ben Yehuda, director of international relations at Yad Vashem, called the growing movement of Christian supporters of Israel the “modern righteous Gentiles of our day.”

…”We recognise that Israel remains elect of God and a focus of His redemptive plan for the entire world,” added Ellsell. “We understand that the remarkable Jewish return to this land is a fulfillment of biblical promises to Israel, and this encourages us to believe that God will keep His prophetic promises to us as well.”

Back to the list:

Johannes Fichtenbauer, Chief Deacon, Catholic Diocease of Vienna, Austria

Fichtenbauer is a Charismatic Catholic, and he founded an ecumenical charismatic grouping in Vienna called “Turn to the Lord“. He is also involved with “Toward Jerusalem“, which works with Messianic Jews.

Willem Glashouwer, Reverend, Reformed Church of the Netherlands, Chairman ECI

Glashouwer is president of the European Coalition for Israel; I previously noted his tasteful comparison between not feeling the need for religious references in the European Constitution and killing six million Jews.

Wolfhard Margies, Pastor, Church on the Way, Berlin Germany

That’s apparently the largest church in the city.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Agape Press offers a platform for the dominionist and anti-Arab Israeli far-right:

No more concessions to Palestinians — that is the pledge a pro-Jewish movement within Israel’s Likud Party has made if it is able to gain control of the leadership next year…Shmuel Sackett is co-founder and international director of the Jewish Leadership Movement, the largest faction within the Likud Party. Sackett says his group would take a much different approach to the Palestinian problem. “They will not be allowed to function as an independent people, as a state, with weapons inside God’s promised land,” he explains. “Absolutely, positively not.” He says the first thing they would do would be to immediately annex all of the covenant land that has been given away. “We will take back the Temple Mount. We will take back Jerusalem. We will take back all these areas,” he states. In general, he says, the Leadership Movement would make it very clear to the Arabs that “their future is not in the land of Israel.”

Perhaps those running the European Coalition for Israel do not share such an extreme view; but given their perspective and theology, would it be possible for them ever to speak out over Israeli treatment of the Palestinians? After all, Sackett belongs to a nation which, in the words of Glashouwer,

…”is not just one of the nations. It has a special dimension to it. They are God’s chosen people, the apple of His eye, His firstborn son.”

Brethren Links Bring Down New Zealand Opposition Leader

The Exclusive Brethren’s recent habit of involving itself in political campaigning and scheming (despite not allowing members to vote in elections) is a phenomenon that has been noted in several countries; I looked at activities in Australia and New Zealand back in September. In New Zealand, the Brethren’s politicking has now had dramatic consequences, with the resignation of National Party opposition leader Don Brash. Brash’s links to the Brethren and other right-wing groups and individuals are exposed in a book by Nicky Hager, The Hollow Men, which was subject to a gagging order for several days due to its use of Brash’s private emails. Brash himself denies that the book is the reason for his resignation, but most commentators are sceptical. The book has now been covered extensively in the New Zealand press; news website Stuff gathers the reports in one place.

At the heart of the scandal is the disjunction between Brash’s public persona as a centrist and his secret backing from the radical right. Brash’s desire to downplay his links with the Brethren appears to have led him into dishonesty:

A key chapter in the book deals with the party’s Exclusive Brethren ties, including claims that on May 24 the Brethren outlined plans for a $1 million campaign to Dr Brash and finance spokesman John Key.

Dr Brash has said the first he knew of a Brethren pamphlet campaign was in August last year.

…The book also refers to a little publicised campaign by the Exclusive Brethren in April 2005 attacking Labour’s defence and anti-nuclear policies.

“The ads would be saying things that many senior National Party people privately believed, but which they could not say openly without losing public support,” Mr Hager writes.

…The book claims that former National Party chief of staff Richard long had arranged with the Brethren that they would have a consistent line in the event of media questions about National’s prior knowledge of the advertising.

More general links with the Christian Right are also explored:

…Brash was a social liberal who supported the Civil Union Bill allowing a form of marriage between same-sex couples. But Hager argues that he lost his nerve as the polls fell and conservative Christian lobbyists turned up the heat. Bruce Logan, director of a Christian think-tank, the Maxim Institute, told him that “by supporting (the bill) National will gain a few votes. By rejecting it you will get thousands.”

…As part of his campaign to woo the Christian fundamentalist vote, Brash visited the Greenlane Christian Centre for a closed youth leadership conference during the election campaign. The next day, his PR man Bryan Sinclair sent an embarrassed email to the organisers saying that a photo taken of Brash might find its way into the mainstream media, who would use it “to deliberately embarrass both Don and your own organisation”.

The reason for Sinclair’s concern, writes Hager, “was that when the meeting prepared to pray, the leader had asked everyone to raise both their arms in the air and Brash had been photographed in this not very mainstream pose”. The organiser assured Sinclair that the digital photo had been deleted. Sinclair forwarded the news to Brash with a one-word comment: “Hallelujah.”

Away from specifically religious links, American readers might be particularly interested in one political detail:

…The Hollow Men contains e-mails detailing planned and actual meetings between Dr Brash and Dick Allen, a key figure in the campaigns of previous United States presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

…Dr Brash was introduced to Mr Allen through former National Party staffer and political commentator Matthew Hooton and the pair corresponded and met face to face.

Mr Hooton advised Dr Brash’s office to keep the meetings secret because of Mr Allen’s “ultra” right-wing status, which had generated hate websites in the United States.

(Cross-posted to Talk to Action)

The Sword is Mightier than the Pen is

From Reuters:

A Thai Buddhist monk cut off his penis with a machete because he had an erection during meditation and declined to have it reattached, saying he had renounced all earthly cares, a doctor and a newspaper said on Wednesday.

Alas for the unnamed monk (aged 35), perhaps he should have consulted the Buddhist scriptures; over to Bernard Faure’s The Red Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality (p. 35):

We are told that when the Buddha was in Sravasti, there was a monk who castrated himself by severing his penis in order to cut off desire. The Buddha scolded him, saying: “This foolish man, monks. Cut off one thing when another should have been cut off. Monks, one should not cut off one’s own organ. If anyone should cut it off, there is a grave offence.”…Vinaya 2:110

Faure gives examples of the practice within Chinese and Japanese Buddhism. A collection of Chinese Buddhist writings edited by Robin R Wang (1) adds another story from The Forty-Two Chapters Sutra (p.270):

The Buddha said: “There was a man who could not suppress his carnal desire. Worried about it, he made up his mind to cut off his penis.” The Buddha scolded him, “Rather than cut off your penis, you had better eliminate from your mind that which gives rise to carnal desire. The mind is comparable to a public officer who has the power to appoint and dismiss, and reward and punish. If the officer restrains his subordinates, they will behave. Without eliminating your obscene mind. It is of no use cutting off your penis.”

But all may not be lost: back in 2004, the AFP declared that Thailand was “the world center of penis reattachment surgery”, mostly due to the vengeful acts of wronged wives.

(Hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

(1) Images of Women in Chinese Thought and Culture: Writings from the Pre-Qin Period to the Song Dynasty

Who Invigilates VIGIL?

As I blogged last week, BBC’s Newsnight recently broadcast an exposé on the Islamist group Hizb Ut-Tahrir, featuring an anonymous infiltrator (“J”):

We’ve been told that it’s alright to hurt non-believers…The loyalty to the group, I had to show it…they actually asked me to take some money from three guys…By force…I threatened them and the gave me the money because of who I was with…This is Hizb ut-Tahrir.

The infiltrator was vouched for by a man named Dominic Whiteman, of an organisation called VIGIL. Newsnight also featured a second VIGIL member, Glen Jenvey, who monitors Islamist websites. Jenvey, as I noted at the time, is an associate of Jeremy Reynalds, who writes for the neo-Pentecostal news service ASSIST Ministries.

No sensible person would deny that Islamism is bad news and represents a danger. In the past I’ve given credit to Reynalds for his efforts in keeping an eye on Islamist websites, despite his extremely conservative views. However, something about VIGIL was disturbing: this shadowy group had no web presence that I could find, and Jenvey’s personal website linked to some very Wingnutty sites.

Now, however, HuT has come up with a counterblast against VIGIL. One is naturally reluctant to use HuT as a source, but its article contains links to other sites that speak for themselves. Firstly, it appears that VIGIL does have a web home after all:

The VIGIL network is a large non-profit, non-political network of former intelligence officers, anti-terrorist operatives and proven private terror trackers united in one (mostly online) offensive strategy against the Islamic extremists threatening the planet right now. VIGIL was formed consequent to the 7/7 attacks on London.

…Now the VIGIL Group has found its place within the IC-HUMINT network to strenghten and extend both our service!

Dominic Whiteman, Director of VIGIL

IC-HUMINT (“The Intelligence Community Human Intelligence Network”), however, appears to have particular religious perspective, which it expresses in melodramatic language:

Back in 1991, a young-man from a far-off country came to the Western-Sahara desert to meet with a group of people. They formed an alliance to establish a global network to form an army to fight the Evil-World to come and to serve for the glory of Jerusalem, the city of GOD!

(1991 was when UN peacekeepers were deployed in Western Sahara; whether this is what the above is referring to is anyone’s guess)

Recta Sequi … [“follow the right”]

Since then, many people came and went and we have been around in the world. But in 1998 we established ourselves on the internet. Using it as a portal for our global community. This network is what we now call the IC-HUMINT.

Welcome to the Intelligence Community HUMINT network!

So who was this “young-man from a far-off country”? The website is short on names. However, there is one clue:

Established and maintained by members of the British SAS and their respective global counter-parts. The IC-HUMINT stands for The Intelligence Community Human Intelligence. Together we form a global network of ex and current serving members of the various special forces and HUMINT intelligence operatives.

This appears next to the SAS logo. Elsewhere:

For at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people (Dan 12:1). Shalom Jerusalem, holy city of GOD! We are in service of the Mighty one. For there is but one God and only him we shall serve.

Most peculiar. Weirdly, the whole site declares itself to be “Crown Copyright”, a term which if used accurately means that a publication has been produced by the British Government.

Meanwhile, HuT directs us to Jenvey’s past internet activities via Wayback. It appears that Jenvey used to run a fake Islamist website under the name “Pervez Khan”, which he used to gain the trust of Islamists (particularly Abu Hamza). Then, in September 2002, he replaced his faux-Islamist site with a rather different message (links in original):

We’ve changed our mind about this whole terrorism thing.

Jehad is Crap!

…There is just one way to achieve a lasting peace and have an end to terror in the middle east. The entire Muslim Ummah must realize:

There is no such thing as a ‘Palestinian.’ There never was. It is a PR fiction, a Madison Avenue fantasy. There is no ‘intifada,’ El Aksa or otherwise. There is a Philistine Authority Pogrom, both against Jews and Arabs, by Arafat and his thugs. The main victims are the resident Arabs themselves. There is actually one reference in the Qur’an to the Palestinian People – and that is the Philistines,” – Shaykh Abdul Hadi Palazzi

Israel belongs to the Jews – because Allah gave that land to them – why, because the Philistines won’t act like decent human beings – and only decent humans deserve their own country. If the Philistines don’t like it, they should just find somewhere else to live. Except no other country on earth wants to have them because they are not acting like decent human beings.

And Kashmir belongs to the Indians – for the same reasons.

Let’s Roll

Johnathan Galt

We can only guess at Jenvey’s motive for deciding to post such an extremist message, but one fails to see how this does anything to undermine Islamism or promote rational discourse.

IC-HUMINT appears to have some apocalyptic religious agenda (“the Evil-World to come”), and it wants Muslims to believe it represents the intentions of the British government (“Crown Copyright”). Why would VIGIL decide to become part of such a project, when, according to Whiteman, “As an organisation we don’t ‘do’ religion”? I have no sympathy with HuT or any group like it, but Newsnight’s decision to elevate VIGIL to “expert” status while telling us nothing about its background and little about its methods is very questionable.

(Hat tip to a reader)

Kazakhstan Demolishes Hare Krishna Commune

In September, I blogged on President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s interfaith “Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions”:

Nazarbayev also graced the Congress with his own ideas, which include making 2007 “the Year of Religious and Cultural Tolerance”, and the creation of an “international center of cultures and religions”…The Congress eventually came up with “nine principles of inter-faith dialogue”. These include advice to “avoid prejudice and misrepresentation”; to engage in “effective listening and learning…in the spirit of tolerance on the basis of shared values”; and for dialogue to “assume equality of partners”.

Two months on, human-rights organisation Forum 18 brings us the latest from multi-religious Kazakhstan:

Today (21 November) the demolition began of 13 Hare Krishna-owned homes at the Hare Krishna commune, spokesperson Maksim Varfolomeyev told Forum 18 News Service from the commercial capital Almaty.

(Always nice to find a fellow Bartholomew…)

…”I have no words to describe what I have seen,” Ninel Fokina, head of the Almaty Helsinki Committee, told Forum 18 from the demolition site. “They have no right to move people out of their homes in winter.”

…”It is indicative that the demolition of the homes began before we had been given the results of the state special Commission’s investigation into the conflict over the commune,” Varfolomeyev told Forum 18.

…Devotees are increasing sceptical that the Commission was anything more than a device to deflect any criticism of state religious intolerance.

The move against the Hare Krishnas echoes events in neighbouring Russia; in 2004 a temple in Moscow was demolished to make way for a city development, but a plot of land promised as a replacement was withdrawn by the mayor following complaints from the authoritarian Orthodox Church. That decision, however, was itself overturned in June.

Meanwhile, Nazarbayev has just visited London, and today’s Guardian marks the occasion with an article by Timothy Garton Ash:

As you will not have gathered from anything said by the prime minister, Kazakhstan is a hugely corrupt dictatorship with a dismal human rights record; a supine judiciary; controlled or intimidated media; and elections that do not, to put it very mildly, come up to the standards of Europe’s leading election monitors, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)…. According to some reports, Sultan Nursultan may now be one of the world’s richest men, but he has not kept his wealth to himself; he has spread it most generously around his immediate and extended family, who control much of the media and many state-owned companies. After socialism in one country, there is capitalism in one family.

Creationist “Atlas” Hits Turkish Schools

Reuters reports:

A lavishly illustrated “Atlas of Creation” is mysteriously turning up at schools and libraries in Turkey, proclaiming that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is the real root of terrorism.

Arriving unsolicited by post, the large-format tome offers 768 glossy pages of photographs and easy-to-read text to prove that God created the world with all its species.

…”The root of the terrorism that plagues our planet is not any of the divine religions, but atheism, and the expression of atheism in our times (is) Darwinism and materialism,” it says.

The book, as expected, is by Harun Yahya, the Turkish creationist and Holocaust denier. The book itself – which appears to concentrate purely on the subject of fossils – is previewed on his website.

As Reuters explains, there’s a political context here: Communists in the past would publicise Marx and Darwin, while creationism in schools would help to undermine Turkey’s secular nature. Education Minister Huseyin Celik is quoted as having told CNN that:

“If it’s wrong to say Darwin’s theory should not be in the books because it is in line with atheist propaganda, we can’t disregard intelligent design because it coincides with beliefs of monotheistic religions about creation,”

There’s also a quote from another Islamic group:

“Darwinism is dead,” said Kerim Balci of the Fethullah Gulen network, a moderate Islamic movement with many publications and schools but no link to the creationists who produced the atlas.

Fethullah Gulen is an educational philosopher who pontificates on the subject of evolutionary biology on his website:

It would be difficult to find another theory which, like Darwinism, has been battered and defeated so many times, and yet the corpse of it revived artificially again and again…To our knowledge, no scientific hypothesis except this one was ever sustained on the basis of so many, and so important “missing links.” What the scientists have discovered through observation proves the opposite of the evolutionary theory true: in spite of having many varieties, bacteria have not evolved into anything different and higher though they adapt very quickly…Man is, as we put it, exactly the same as he was created on the first day…

The alternative to evolution is design which necessarily leads to the concept of a transcendent and unitary power, the Designer Creator, God. Therein lies the reason for the continuing tyranny of the Darwinist theory: the fear that to acknowledge the Creator will bring down the edifice of an autonomous science, an autonomous human reason…

Gulen is apparently quite an influential figure. His website also includes a report which notes the following (footnotes removed):

The more than 300 elementary schools, high schools, college preparatory institutions, dormitories, and universities in over 50 countries that are associated with his name stem from a circle of students, colleagues and businessmen who formed about Fethullah Gulen in the 1960s. The schools have been established by individual agreements between the countries in which they are located and the educational companies founded for this purpose. Each school is an independently run institution, but most of the schools rely on the services of Turkish companies to provide educational supplies and human resources.

MPAC Founder Supported Holocaust Denier in 2000

From today’s Observer

Asghar Bukhari, a founder member of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC), which describes itself as Britain’s largest Muslim civil rights group, sent money to [David] Irving and urged Islamic websites to ask visitors to make donations to his fighting fund.

In one email Bukhari tells Irving: ‘You may feel like you are on your own but rest assured many people are with you in your fight for the Truth.’…

…Bukhari confirmed sending the letters in 2000. ‘I had a lot of sympathy for anyone who opposed Israel,’ Bukhari told The Observer said. ‘I wrote letters to anyone who was tough against the Israelis – David Irving, Paul Findley, the PLO.”I don’t feel I have done anything wrong, to be honest. At the time I was of the belief he [Irving] was anti-Zionist, being smeared for nothing more then being anti-Zionist.

The MPACUK website responds in bullish mood:

…Mr Bukhari must have known David Irving would be convicted 6 years later of holocaust denial? If Asghar Bukhari had known of David Irving’s holocaust denial and racism he would have condemned him, not given him any support!…the plain fact is that MPACUK have been very clear in our condemnation of holocaust denial…

Asghar Bukhari’s mistake 6 years ago was to judge on the basis of the limited number of David Irving’s articles he had seen, and assume that accusations of anti-Semitism against him were simply another smear campaign. In 2000 when this incident occurred Irving was fighting a libel case and the key principle in our legal system is ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Now that it has become clear that Irving does in fact hold such dispicable [sic] views Asghar Bukhari has no hesitation in opposing him.

…Twisting an innocent gesture of support (even if gravely mistaken) into more than it is, is just another Islamaphobic [sic] attack aimed at undermining and harming the brave individuals who support the Palestinian cause and the cause of British Muslims.

This blustering and self-righteous response, by turns hectoring and whiny, makes little sense. Bukhari only supported Irving because he believed that someone is “innocent until proven guilty” – but Irving was the plaintiff in 2000; it was Deborah Lipstadt who stood accused of being a liar and a libeller, for having made reference to Irving’s Holocaust denial and far-right links. But more to the point: what sort of utter fool “assumes” that Irving fights for the “Truth” (with a capital “T”), and that he is right to persecute an academic through the UK’s libel courts – but doesn’t feel the need to find out what he actually stands for before launching into a fundraising campaign? Given that Irving’s views and political activities have been widely reported in the mainstream media for many years, this beggars belief.

MPAC complains that supporters of Palestinian rights are often smeared as anti-Semites. That is indeed the case, and this blog has covered various individuals and organisations who try to silence criticism of Israel in this way. But MPAC indulges in exactly the same vice: expose a Muslim who wraps himself in the Palestinian flag while consorting with far-right extremists and you’re an Islamophobic apologist for Israel.

The extent and influence of pro-Israel lobbies in various countries is a subject of perennial debate. However, most of that discussion ignores or plays down a vital part of the dynamic: the role of a pro-Palestinian anti-lobby [sic] led by demagogues and fanatics.

Jaerock Lee’s Daughter Leads “Healing Festival” in India

Backed by Local Campus Crusade for Christ

Man Boasts of Throwing Away Medicine

ASSIST Ministries carries yet another puff-piece by Johnny Kim, front-man for controversial Korean faith healer Jaerock Lee:

Some 5,000 people in Himalayan region came to hear the life-giving message of God Almighty, experienced the powerful works of the Holy Spirit and 1,000 people came to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior during a unique “Healing Festival with handkerchief” led by a Korean mission team in Siliguri, West Bengal, India, on Tuesday, November 14.

Jae-Rock Lee himself was not there; instead, the “Healing Festival with handkerchief” was led by his daughter, Mikyung Lee, with a bit of help from some video demonstrations. Kim goes on to claim the inevitable miracles:

A 7-year-old Hindu girl who had not been able to walk since her birth came to walk for the first time in her life…There were many healings. The blind received their sight, the deaf came to hear, the mute came to speak, and the paralytics came to walk and jump. Various other diseases like diabetes, heart problems, asthma, and arthritis were healed. We even saw evil spirits leave people when they repented and received the prayer by faith in the name of Christ Jesus.

Particularly disturbing, however:

…a man who had suffered from digestion problems for a long time…showed the crowd a container of tablets that he had been taking to try and deal with his illness.

He said, “I felt the fire in my stomach when I received the prayer. Now I don’t have pain. I paid 250 Rupees for this medicine but I don’t need it anymore.” With that he threw away the medicine crying out, “Halleluiah!”

One wonders how many others may have followed his example, and with what consequences.

…Dr. Philip Anbarassan [sic – should be Philip Anbarasan], the former medical commissioner for the state of Kerala, and Director of World Christian Doctor’s Network (WCDN) India, who attended, said, “500 people registered for their sickness and problems. I, as a medical doctor, examined the people who claimed to be healed. It’s quiet clear to see the difference before and after the prayer. I’m planning to present some of the cases of healing at the ‘2007 WCDN Conference’ which will be held in Miami, USA.”

WCDN exists to further the claims of Lee and his MANMIN ministry; back it June it held a conference in the Philippines which was attended by the Family Research Council’s David Prentice.

Lee has been the subject of this blog several times in the past; I’ve noted his rather bizarre teachings (which include UFOs and “Edenians”), his attempted suppression of a Korean TV documentary by getting his followers to invade the TV studio, and his rather dubious bits of “evidence” for his healing powers (which I also brought to the attention of James Randi). I’ve also noted that many other conservative Christians have rejected him as heretical, in Korea and elsewhere; when he appeared in New York a few months ago, he was met with protests. However, none of this worried missionary organisations in West Bengal:

Rev. Sam H. Sereng, the Founder & Director of Every Home for Christ Ministries, said in an interview with MANMIN TV, “…Praise the Lord for this precious opportunity to guide them to salvation through Jesus Christ!”

…Praising our God Trinity, Dr. Adon Rongong, National Director of Campus Crusade for Christ Bhutan, opened in prayer at the start of the second night of the healing festival.

BNP Paper For Sale at War Memorial

The far-right British National Party’s mysterious “Rev” Robert West (whom I blogged on here) makes an appearance at a civic function in his hometown of Holbeach:

…Sunday saw local BNP representatives attending the memorial parade in the town. BNP Councillor Rev.Robert West along with local members attended both the parade and the following church service in Holbeach’s beautiful 13th century church which lies directly behind the war memorial. Our paper stall is always set up in front of the memorial throughout the year and is a constant reminder of the sacrifices made by those generations. (1)

A memorial to those who died fighting fascism is an interesting location for the BNP to set up shop, given that its leadership includes Mark Collett, a man who famously bragged (when he thought he wasn’t being filmed)

“Hitler will live forever and maybe I will too”

Meanwhile, there’s still (mercifully) little sign of life from Rev West’s Christian Council of Britain, or from his “Grace Covenant Fellowship” house-church.


BBC Accuses Hizb ut-Tahrir of Street-Gang Links

BBC’s Newsnight carries an interesting investigation on Islamist recruitment in the UK, with some remarkable allegations against Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) from an anonymous mole, known as “J”. According to “J”, he was asked to join a secretive cell of five members, and to find five new recruits of his own. These cells, however, are actually gangs:

We’ve been told that it’s alright to hurt non-believers…The loyalty to the group, I had to show it…they actually asked me to take some money from three guys…By force…I threatened them and the gave me the money because of who I was with…This is Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Shuiab Yusaf, a Trustee at Croydon Mosque in South London, adds the claim that HT members in the area have also been involved in gang warfare:

People have observed the same faces in these gang warfare situations as they have observed distributing literature outside the mosque on Fridays.

There’s also footage of a BBC cameraman being attacked by an apparent HT supporter outside Croydon Mosque, although the assailant’s associates try to calm him down.

The allegations are strenuously denied by HT spokesman Abdul Wahid in a subsequent interview with Jeremy Paxman. Paxman asked Wahid if HT would cooperate with the police in investigating such accusations; Wahid evaded the question, and instead asked Paxman if Newsnight would be passing on information about “J”‘s admission of involvement with criminality.

So how reliable is “J”? In the programme he is vouched for by Dominic Whiteman, the spokesperson for an organisation called “VIGIL”. Newsnight also features Glen Jenvey, a VIGIL member who monitors extremist websites (he has his own site here). However, VIGIL itself remains a rather secretive organisation; it has no website of its own, and there are no named members besides Whiteman and Jenvey. Whiteman was interviewed last month in Global Politician, in the wake of a VIGIL report on the Tamil Tigers:

I’m a Brit in my early thirties who – like my grandfathers at my age – is proud to be part of an effort to prevent the attempted spread of totalitarian fascist ideology and terror. To prevent the spread of hatred, anti semitism and violence (in this case primarily Islamofascism) in Britain and around the free world. I am the spokesperson and one of the British directors of VIGIL. I’d prefer to say nothing more about myself and focus on VIGIL.

VIGIL is a non-profit, non-political group of experts covering various fields of expertise who have voluntarily joined forces – after in depth background verification – to help the relevant authorities thwart terrorist entities. The network is international and we have intelligence gatherers across the planet – from India to South Africa to Spain. Our core effort is based out of the UK and the US. Our strategy team is based in London. We are growing fast.

…Q Are you a Christian organisation or do you have any other religious motivation?

A No. As an organisation we don’t “do” religion. That doesn’t mean that our experts and intelligence gatherers are not religious individuals privately – I know of Muslims, Christians, a Buddhist and a couple of Hindus on our team… Our efforts are certainly not anti-Islamic. Our resources allow us to focus 80% on the Islamist – rather than Islamic – threat.

…VIGIL has linguistic experts, banking experts, anti-terror experts, policing experts and other experts we are fortunate enough to turn to. However, the backbone of the team is comprised of former intelligence and military personnel.

PR Web, meanwhile, gives a bit of background on Jenvey, who

…is profiled in the bestselling book, The Terror Tracker, by terrorism investigator Neil Doyle. Jenvey worked for several military attaches monitoring terrorist groups in London and obtained crucial video and surveillance evidence used by British police to arrest radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, who was convicted last February.

According to Wikipedia (at the moment, anyway), Jenvey has worked for the US against Iran and for the Sir Lankan intelligence services, as well as for India and with “close links to Russia”, whatever that is supposed to mean. Jenvey also works with Jeremy Reynolds of the US neo-Pentecostal news service ASSIST Ministries; Reynalds has made his own researches into internet Islamism, as I blogged on early last year. Less encouragingly, however, Jenvey also associates with the demagogues of Little Green Footballs (1) and the Jawa Report (2). His “memoirs” are currently being serialised in the Asian Tribune.

One would like to know how far exactly VIGIL leans to the right, but with only murky references to “former intelligence and military personnel” and links to Wingnut websites to go on we can only guess. However, with large swathes of the left apparently determined to ignore the problem of Islamism altogether, the field has somewhat been left open.

UPDATE: More on VIGIL today.