Walking Dead TV Listing Fail

At least, I sincerely hope so.

From the current Radio Times:

The undead are also apparently working as copy-editors for the BBC.

Guardian Profiles “Cheerleaders”

The Guardian reports:

Tehmina Kazi wears modest western dress and believes in plurality and diversity within her faith, Islam. For her pains, she has been labelled a whore, admonished for not wearing the hijab and accused, inaccurately, of wearing short skirts by people she has never met, writing online.

When she defended Usama Hasan, the London imam who faced death threats and was suspended from Leyton mosque last month after he said evolution was compatible with Islam, she had to go to police after receiving threats of her own.

Despite this, Kazi, the director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy, remains defiant in her role as one of the small but growing number of British Muslim women challenging and combating Islamic extremism.

…Rabia Mirza, who is involved with Cheerleaders Against Everything speaks about how involvement in fighting extremism has strengthened her faith. A disparate group with an anarchic sense of humour, reflected in its title, it has managed to get under the skin of both Islamic extremists and leftwingers. As well as mounting counter-demonstrations against extremists groups, its members go on extremist forums to argue their case.

Cheerleaders has informal links with Kazia’s BMSD as well as, controversially, the English Defence League. Ex-EDL members, who remain committed to challenging extremism but quit the far-right group because of a belief it was indiscriminate in its attacks on Islam, have joined with the Cheerleaders to form an organisation called the Nice Ones. Mirza says the idea is to link with those – “very few” – within the EDL whose goal is to combat Islamic extremism, rather than just oppose Islam.

This tells part of the story. I’ve encountered Mirza myself on a Facebook discussion forum, and in my experience she’s intelligent, moderate, and working in good faith to oppose Islamic extremism. It’s also true that the ex-EDL members associated with the “Nices Ones” group (or “NicesOnesUK”) are opposed to the EDL’s anti-Muslim extremism; the EDL is regularly criticised on the “Nice Ones” Facebook page, and claims published elsewhere that it is an EDL “front group” are, based on what I’ve seen, inaccurate (and accusations of “racism” are certainly off-base).

However, the report fails to give the full flavour of all that goes on in the name of the “Cheerleaders”: its prime mover, a man named Charlie Flowers, uses it as a vehicle to harass people he dislikes. This does not just mean Islamic extremists: Flowers used to be involved with Dominic Wightman’s “VIGIL Network“, and he used the “Cheerleaders” to intimidate a university lecturer who had discovered that Wightman was dishonest. When the blogger Tim Ireland and I discovered the same thing about Wightman, the “Cheerleaders” released Tim’s home address in an attempt to intimidate, and sent a stream of crudely abusive and threatening messages. Away from politics, Flowers has also used the “Cheerleaders” to harass individuals who had been victimised by Farah Damji (although Flowers appears since to fallen out with both Wightman and Damji).

There are also irresponsible attempts to manipulate extremists, as I noted here and here.

Naturally, for daring to point this out I’ve also become a target: Flowers uses the “Nice Ones” Facebook page to denounce me as a “Communist” and as a “Nazi” in league with Islamic extremists (alongside childish jibes such as “fat cunt”). He also recently created 10 or so anonymous blogs attacking me along the same lines.

Efforts by the likes of Mirza and Kazi to oppose Islamic extremism deserve support. What they don’t need, though, is a thrill-seeking vigilante muddying the waters. The problem for Mirza in particular is that Flowers has one or more accomplices in the “Cheerleaders”, and that he and they sometimes use sockpuppet accounts. I don’t think that Mirza has anything to do with this, but the way Flowers behaves means she’s likely to be tarred by association.

Rev Moon and the President of Sierra Leone

News from Sierra Leone; Cocorioko reports:

The President of the Republic of Sierra Leone Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has been awarded the “PEACE MEDAL AWARD” by the Universal Peace Federation in the United States of America.

…Delivering, her special message from Rev. Moon to President Koroma, Katherine Rigney said God is working positively through him and that the Head of State is an important figure working for peace in Sierra Leone and Africa. Sierra Leone, she said is an example of peace for the world.

And Koroma, grateful for the plaudits, has responded generously:

President Koroma said… that land would be provided for the erection of a Peace Embassy in Sierra Leone.

Rev Moon’s “Peace Embassies” are part of a wider strategy for gaining influence in Africa; at the end of 2007, a “Peace Embassy” in Zambia provided the location for the launch of a new breakaway church led by Emmanuel Milingo, the former Roman Catholic cardinal who now regards Moon as the “Messiah”.

Moon’s Universal Peace Federation, and its associated  has been remarkably successful in collecting endorsements and support from powerful and prominent individuals. I even ran a “spin-off” blog on the subject for a while

More from the ICTOA

Last month, the Guardian noted the publication of a new report about counter-terrorism training in the USA:

Political Research Associates, a Massachusetts-based progressive thinktank, spent nine months investigating the burgeoning industry of counter-terrorism training. It concluded that in seminars and conferences across America, police, transit and other law-enforcement officers were being given an ideologically skewed impression of Islam that impugned the entire religion, presenting it as inherently violent and sympathetic to terrorism.

One training conference, which PRA investigators attended, was held last October by the International Counter-Terrorism Officers Association, a body formed by New York police officers in the wake of 9/11. The conference was addressed by Walid Shoebat, a speaker used by several of the private training outfits.

Shoebat is a convert to Christianity, having formerly been a Muslim with links to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. In his presentation, called The Jihad Mindset and How to Defeat It: Why We Want to Kill You, he accused Muslim men of raping women, children and young boys. “They are paedophiles!” he shouted.

According to the report, Shoebat went on: “The Muslim beheads with a smile. You can see it on YouTube, on TV; the Afghan child trained to execute Christians. You say that Islam is a peaceful religion? Why? It hates the west.”

He also said: “Islam is a revolution and is intent to destroy all other systems. They want to expand, like Nazism.”

The PRA report cited one of my blog entries for some general background on Shoebat, and my writings on Shoebat’s links to the ICTOA (e.g here and here) have come to the attention of Mike Riker, the ICTOA’s president. I have since received comments both in Riker’s name and under the pseudonym “PG1463”; “PG1463” has an email address that resolves to a Facebook page called “Pres Ictoa”,  his IP address is the same as Riker’s, and both sources tend to post around the same times.

The comments adopt rhetorical strategies that are wearily familiar, although they give further insight into Riker and the organisation’s way of thinking. Readers can draw their own conclusions, but in my opinion they appear foolish and further undermine confidence in the ICTOA’s ability to provide competent and appropriate professional training.

First up: any criticism of Riker is support for Islamic extremists:

Just because Riker’s judgement isnt to your apporoval doesn’t mean hes wrong. Your judgement on attacking organizations who are out to protect you and the public is bad judgement in my opinion. So when your bowing the the east and helping stone women remember you were warned but chose the other path.

Next: criticising Riker over his use of Shoebat is an attack on the First Amendment:

Well its called the 1st amendment. Who he chooses to like is his business and not yours. Your like that little old lady next door who has there nose in everyone else business, get a life Rich

Also: raising substantive points on a blog doesn’t count:

So call in tomorrow and talk to Walid himself and air out your opinion. Im hoping that you will call and talk to him and not hide behind the cloak of the blog.

Followed by

…Sorry you didnt make it to the interview with Walid. Guess you were afraid to confront him one on one. You questions could have been answered from Walid himself instead of trying to put word into other peoples mouth…

The background here is that Riker wanted me to phone in to an internet radio show that he runs with an associate, and on which Shoebat spoke yesterday.

For some strange reason, Riker seems to think I need to prove something on a forum of his choosing, but I think that what I’ve written about Shoebat stands on its own merits. I’ve linked and referenced appropriate sources, and I hope (although I don’t expect) that decision-makers in law-enforcement training will eventually take notice through “trickle-up” processes such as the PRA report. If Riker thinks that everything I’ve put forward can be exploded by pointing out that I haven’t phoned his show then he’s free to find comfort in that opinion, although I can’t see anyone with any sense being impressed.

Riker has also posted a comment providing a link to one of Shoebat’s “Last Days” expositions; as well as expounding on Islam and terrorism, Shoebat also  teaches that Muslims will soon come under the direct control of the Anti-Christ as we approach the Second Coming of Jesus. This blog has details of a recent presentation by Shoebat at a church in California.

Incidentally, another reason that Riker wanted me on his show was to get some free publicity; his co-host is a strange attention-seeker who controls a web of interlinking “news” websites that promote another “private intelligence” organisation. These sites also include details – including photographs – of this co-host’s past unconventional private life, dwelling on sexual matters and presented as some sort of exposé. Presumably this is a bizarre strategy to drum up publicity through an appeal to prurience; I’m not inclined to play along.

Nadine Dorries MP Responds to Scrutiny over £10,000 Payment to Friend

The accusation, from Tim Ireland (first paragraph quoting the The Times):

[Nadine] Dorries claimed £9,987.50 for Marketing Management in June 2007 for the design, layout and production of an annual report and for consultancy. She says she spent the money, and posted a copy of the report on her website. However, it does not appear to be professionally produced.

…There is no record of any payment made for distribution of this ‘annual report’, it does not appear to have been published on/through Dorries’ site at any stage (despite her claims to the contrary)

…I seriously doubt that any opening argument about the strained budget of a local hospital can justify spending close to £10,000 of taxpayer’s money on what appears to be two-page ‘report’ promoting Dorries’ campaign to reduce the availability of abortion.

The response, from Nadine Dorries:

For anyone who cares to know, blogger, Tim Ireland, who chooses to write blogs which are malicious, un-founded and for the most part totally untrue, has been warned by Police not to enter Bedfordshire. 

However, this doesn’t stop him from wasting tax payers money via freedom of information requests and then letters of complaint to the information commissioner when they don’t work. Stopping that comes next! My poor staff :(

It should be recalled that when Tim raised the issue of Marketing Management back in February, its director, a personal friend of Dorries named Lynne Elson, complained both (a) that Tim had failed to contact her for information and (b) that his perusal of publicly available documents about payments amounted to “intrusion”.

Tim’s new post also carries a statement from the police stating that the Crown Prosecution Service has decided that there is “insufficient evidence” over the matter to prosecute Dorries for claiming expenses dishonestly.

As I’ve observed before, Dorries’ sense of entitlement is legendary – for instance, her response to the new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority guide to expenses was a mocking post on her blog with a photo showing how her copy of the document had supposedly been blown out of her office by a gust of wind onto a nearby roof. It is possible she sincerely believes that a persistent critic of her political activities ought to be restrained and suppressed by the police.

UPDATE: It should also be remembered that Dorries’ own blog is “malicious, un-founded and for the most part totally untrue”. She’s used it as a platform for a spiteful and intrusive personal attack on her lover’s estranged wife, as well as to smear as a benefits cheat someone who criticised her on Twitter.

Derren Brown vs Faith Healers

Earlier this evening Channel 4 broadcast Miracles for Sale, a documentary in which the illusionist Derren Brown trained up a scuba-diving instructor named Nathan to pose as a Christian faith healer. Brown showed some of the techniques used by faith healers – exaggerating the ailments of those who come forward for healing, using suggestion, and the hoary “leg-lengthening” routine – while Geoff Colman of the School of Speech and Drama (misspelt as “Coleman” in the credits) gave some method acting tips. Further advice came from two ex-Pentecostal faith healers; these were Mark Haville and a musician named Woody Woods. Haville, who is credited as “Specialist Programme Consultant”, is the author of a DVD called The Signs and Wonders Movement: Exposed, and from an interview here it’s clear that he today identifies with a Reformed strand of Protestant fundamentalism (curiously, Haville last year brought the documentary Expelled to the UK, apparently in order to stimulate a debate which he hoped would benefit Creationism).

Nathan was given a backstory as “Pastor James Collins”, including a fake (and slightly ropey) website called “Gifts of the Spirit Ministry”. Brown and the team then headed off to Dallas, where they met up with Ole Anthony of the Trinity Foundation, a well-known Christian watchdog organisation. Anthony explained what had originally motivated him, telling the story of a teenage multiple sclerosis victim who had committed suicide after donating $1,000 to a healer only to be told that her illness had continued to progress because of “secret sin”. Later, Brown talked with John Edwards, another former faith healer. Edwards, who has a blog here, explained that he had allowed his daughter to die from a brain tumour in the mistaken belief that she would be healed; this seemed to undermine Brown’s claim that faith healers are simply con-artists who don’t really believe in what they do, although this point was not explored.

Before arriving in the USA, Brown and the team had made links with an (unnamed) Christian PR agency to promote “Pastor James”, but they decided to sever the relationship for ethical reasons after realising that their deception could have devastating consequences for the agency concerned. Instead, they decided to self-publicise once in Dallas, persuading some local Christians to give out flyers, hiring a worship leader named Brenda, and introducing themselves to a certain Pastor Sean Pinder (who has some videos here). Pinder allowed “James” and the crew to film a service, which included healing a man who was deaf in one ear; to prove the healing, Pinder covered the man’s good ear and gave him instructions, but – as Brown points out in the narration – the good ear was not covered in way that would have obstructed hearing.

Pinder agreed to take part in “Pastor James’s” service a few days later, at the Lakewood Theater. Here, Nathan’s six months of practice and training were put to the test with a real audience: he gave his testimony, members of the (fairly small) crowd were slain in the spirit, and he showed supernatural knowledge of illnesses and provided healings. Then came the twist: a second address, in which, while maintaining his pastor persona, he warned the audience not to be taken in by bogus healers and denounced the idea of promising healings in return for money. The crowd appeared generally appreciative, although Pinder looked uncomfortable and his clapping at the end was decidedly unenthusiastic.

Harville and Edwards were both formerly members of the “Word of Faith” movement, a trend in Pentecostalism which stresses “health and wealth” (also known as the “Prosperity Gospel”). While in Dallas, Brown and his crew took the opportunity to check out a compound belonging to Kenneth Copeland, who is probably the movement’s best-known contemporary exponent (although he’s also very much a part of the broader Christian Right). The crew’s vehicle passed through an open gate to head towards a church on the compound, but they were quickly intercepted by the local sheriff, who took their details and gave them a criminal trespass warning. Copeland’s security alleged that they had twice been warned off the property, although this was disputed by the crew. It seemed odd that they should have jeopardised their project for what amounted to a bit of padding.

For light relief, there was also a segment with veteran faith-healer WV Grant, whose ministry, appropriately, is based in a converted car showroom. Exposing Grant’s charlatanism was easy pickings: a member of the crew (filming secretly) wrote a false name on a contact card, and Grant later duly repeated this false name as supposedly revealed to him by God. Later, Grant performed the leg-lengthening trick on Brown himself, unaware of his identity.

The programme didn’t break any new ground, and well-known footage of the James Randi exposure of Peter Popoff from 1986 served to emphasise this; as John Crace notes in the Guardian:

 …It wasn’t entirely clear why Brown felt it necessary to go to such trouble to turn an ordinary member of the public – the very likable Nathan – into a fake faith healer and take him to America to see if he could fool a bunch of gullible Texans, who have already proved they are happy to be taken in by their own fake faith healers.

Nadine Dorries and Anti-Abortion Activism

As has been widely reported, the MPs Nadine Dorries and Frank Field recently put forward an amendment to be discussed in Parliament on the subject of abortion; according to Dorries:

Our amendment seeks to make provision for a woman presenting with an unplanned pregnancy to be offered counselling via her GP. At the present time, it can only be requested and paid for via the abortion provider. We think that presents a vested interest. 

In particular, Dorries complains about the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists:

The RCOG was charged by the previous government with the task of reviewing the 2004 guidelines regarding the care of a woman seeking an induced abortion.

Eighteen eminent members were formed into a working group to redraft the requested guidance, however, many doctors and professionals have been dismayed at the way the RCOG group has gone about its business.

The first point of concern is the group itself. Eleven of the group are abortionists, two are abortion clinic providers and one is a celebrity doctor.

…The very least members of the working group should have to do is declare their interests and state how much they earn from working in the abortion industry and where the money comes from.

Daylight is the best disinfectant. It’s time for the RCOG to move into this century and realise that operating in such a cloak and dagger manner is no longer acceptable. The public want to know what they are doing and why.

Dorries and Field have cooperated in the area of abortion law previously, and Dorries purports to take the middle ground:

This is the problem with pro-life and pro-choice. Pro-life want abortion banned entirely and pro-choice would like to go all the way to partial birth abortion. There is no place for either position in today’s society…

I apologise to those who are fed up reading about my position on abortion. I will not allow either pro-life or pro-choice to put me into each other’s camp.

I am in my camp, with Frank for company. That camp is pro-women. It is the middle, sensible, common sense ground and it’s where I am staying.

The problem is, though, that Dorries has a history of misrepresentation in this area (and in other areas, for that matter): back in November she introduced a pregnancy counselling organisation called Forsaken into a Parliamentary debate; she described it as being “neither pro-life nor pro-choice”, when its only publication is a booklet explaining that human life begins at conception and that women who have had abortions can find peace and God’s forgiveness by converting to Christianity. Her claim to be neither “pro-life nor pro-choice” is described by Unity at Ministry of Truth as a “wedge strategy”, and he notes her links to religious lobby groups:

A Powerpoint presentation produced by Dr Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship for the Lawyers Christian Fellowship in 2007… indicates that Dorries’ current campaign and amendments are part of long-term strategy put together by an alliance of prominent anti-abortion organisations with the overall objective of securing the complete prohibition of abortion in the UK on any grounds, including rape, serious foetal abnormality and even serious risk to the life of mother.

There are already altogether far too many ‘coincidences’ between Dorries’ campaigning activities over the last five year and the contents of Peter Saunders presentation to plausibly sustain the fiction that Dorries is somehow operating independently of the UK’s highly organised anti-abortion lobby.

Saunders’ presentation was for a campaign called “Alive and Kicking”. Further:

In 2008, Dorries fronted a relatively high-profile campaign for a reduction in the upper limit to 20 weeks during which it emerged, in a Channel 4 documentary, that she was working behind the scenes with Saunders’ buddy, Andrea Minichiello Williams (ex-Lawyer Christian Fellowship, currently heading up Christian Concern and a director of the Christian Legal Centre). Her campaign website was also the work of one of Minichiello Williams’ operations (Christian Concern), a detail that Dorries chose not to mention at the time and, of course, having run a very public campaign for a 20 week upper limit, she actually voted for a 12 week limit, although not before she’d expressed a preference for a 9 week limit in comments at the Spectator.

I blogged on the Channel 4 documentary here; Christian Concern (at that time called “Christian Concern for Our Nation”) in turn has close links with the Alliance Defense Fund in the USA. Unity’s writing has drawn a hostile response from Dorries and from Saunders, both of who accuse him of having constructed a conspiracy theory (in Dorries’ case, she was for some reason moved to create a blog post using an exceptionally large font size). Unity has responded here, further noting that

Alive and Kicking self-consciously toned down its act during the [2008] Bill’s passage through the House of Commons in an effort to convey more of a ‘moderate’ image of their campaign to the general public, and they did this largely by limiting the information they included in press releases and relying on the press not to bother doing a full background check.

…Some of the information in the Saunders’ presentation was in the public domain at the time, but this did not include the information contained on the slides relating to abortion and rape, foetal abnormality or where a woman’s life is at risk – this information would have proved particularly toxic has it been made public at the time – nor did it include the information on other slides which outlined AAK’s acceptance and adoption of a gradualist approach to securing the total prohibition of abortion and set out its intentions to target both the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Psychiatrists in an effort to push their agenda.

Meanwhile, an anonymous “Right to Know Campaign” has appeared on the internet to complement the new amendment:

The Right to Know Campaign is backing an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill being laid by Nadine Dorries MP and Rt Hon. Frank Field MP. The amendment would ensure that women considering an abortion would be guaranteed access to independent information and advice from someone who had no vested financial interest in the outcome of their decision.

…How can women be sure that they are getting independent information and advice when it comes from organisations that rely so heavily on charging the NHS for each abortion they carry out and so have a vested financial interest in an abortion going ahead.

Tim Ireland has looked for some more information about the campaign:

The people running the web presence for the Right to Know campaign have been asked via Twitter if they will declare who is funding/supporting their efforts, but they have declined to answer. They have also been asked via their YouTube account to provide some scant information about who is working the pumps, but have responded by deleting every such question without answering, and disabling comments on their campaign videos so these questions might be hidden from the public.

Further, a WHOIS lookup for the relevant domain name revealed that the registrant had violated the terms of service of the provider (Nominet) in order to hide their identity; they used a generic description in place of a name (‘Web Officer’) and hid the registering address from public view with a false claim that the site was the work of a private individual.

When Tim looked into Forsaken a few months ago, Dorries threatened to have him arrested for daring to do so, but he has  nevertheless persevered with Right to Know:

The registrant has so far refused to update the details to bring it in line with Nominet’s requirements, but last week Nominet did exercise their right to withdraw the privacy settings on the address.

…At this address is the office of the law firm Cooke Matheson, part of Wellers Law Group.

None of the people I spoke to initially at Wellers Law Group knew anything about any of this until Paul Martin popped up to theorise that it had not been registered by anyone in their organisation, but had instead been registered by a client.

The client remains undisclosed, although Tim notes that Paul Martin, like Dorries, has links with Christian Concern.

Of course, a hidden motivation or interest – whether religious or strategic – does not in itself invalidate the substantive content of an argument (“argument is argument”, as Johnson put it), but as Tim points out:

…Right to Know bases their entire argument on the position that women have a right to know about vested interests that influence the information they receive, and yet they do so without declaring their own interest(s).

As a complement to her efforts on the abortion counselling front, Dorries is also seeking to influence sex education; a 10 Minute Rule motion is to be discussed in Parliament in early May on the benefits of abstinence:

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to require schools to provide certain additional sex education to girls aged between 13 and 16; to provide that such education must include information and advice on the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity; and for connected purposes.

Alas, the idea of Dorries pontificating on “the benefits of abstinence” is inherently ludicrous, given that just four months ago a man left his wife to become her lover. She does not explain to what “certain additional sex education” she has in mind, although it’s very likely to be materials derived from conservative evangelicals in the USA; such materials tend to stress female “purity”, which would explain the otherwise strangely exclusive focus on girls.

Kenya Prayer Meeting: “Insults and Swearing Filled the Air”

News from Kenya, where Philip Etale, communications director of the ODM political party, has a complaint about a prayer meeting in Uhuru Park:

….Instead of speaking humbly as they were before God and clergy, the politicians turned the forum into a political theatre with name calling and curses all aimed at Raila Odinga.

The prayer meeting at Uhuru Park was more of a campaign rally that a place to worship God. Insults and swearing filled the air before cameras and the public. I was flabbergasted by the statements made by these leaders who were merrily singing the Kenya National Anthem — in itself a prayer— at the Hague and yet were the same spewing selective truths at the Uhuru Park ‘prayer session.’…

The “prayer meeting” was for the benefit of the “Ocampo Six”, six politicians – including the Deputy Prime Minister – who have just returned from the Hague following preliminary hearings at the International Criminal Court relating to violence following the 2007 election. “Ocampo” refers to the judge, Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

The Kass Media Group has some further background:

[William] Ruto observed that the Uhuru park meeting was purely a prayer meeting. “We are going for a prayer meeting. We do not want to confront anybody. We only want to pray for our country.”

…Police kept tight security at the park to avoid a potential showdown between ODM and PNU supporters whom both claimed to hold licenses to hold rallies at the venue.

The police had clarified that the venue had been booked by an organization calling itself, Federation of Evangelical & Indigenous Christian Churches of Kenya (FEICCK) through their national chairman one Bishop Joseph Methu.

Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe clarified that FEICCK was holding the rally in conjunction with the organising committee for the homecoming rally organised for the Ocampo Six.

The trials in the Hague have been the focus of conspiracy theories; according to the AP:

Obama, Ocampo, Odinga — they all share the distinctive first letter of members of the Luo tribe in Kenya, and some in this East African nation believe that the three are brothers in a conspiracy to see six suspects convicted at Ocampo’s Hague-based court so that Odinga can become president in the land where Obama’s father was born.

Though the conspiracy is fanciful, it has traction among those who believe the ICC suspects, who are charged with orchestrating Kenya’s 2007-08 postelection violence, are being unfairly prosecuted.

The idea that Obama is secretly working with Odinga has also been a theme of Tea Party conspiracy-mongering in the USA; in 2008 WorldNetDaily‘s Jerome Corsi (now the author of a WND-published Birther book) travelled to the country to “investigate”. However, even Corsi just might pause for a moment before adding Ocampo into the mix:

…Though Odinga and Obama’s father are both Luo, Ocampo is Argentinian — not Luo.

FEICCK and Methu are of interest; according to its website, FEICCK

 was established in the year 2005 after various consultative meetings with various founders and heads of Evangelical and Indigenous Christian Churches and denominations from across the Republic of Kenya.

…The Federation was officially registered in the Republic of Kenya as an umbrella body under the societies Act in January 2007. The Federation has since grown from 10 member Churches and Denominations to 78, representing a population of not less than 4 million Christians across Kenya.

Methu, meanwhile, has links with the Unification Church’s “Global Peace Celebration” front group; in December he gave the invocation at a GPC event in Atlanta, and atttended an associated Strengthening Families Summit. A write-up by Hyun Jin Moon (Rev Moon’s son) tells us that Methu “played a prominent role in the recent Global Peace Convention 2010 in Nairobi”.

I previously blogged on clergy and political conflict in Kenya here.

Alan Keyes and the Oak Initiative

Right Wing Watch has been keeping an eye on the recent Oak Initiative Summit:

Addressing the dominionist Oak Initiative summit this weekend, Alan Keyes used his opportunity on stage with Janet Porter, Jerry Boykin, and Rick Joyner to urge Congress to impeach President Obama on the grounds that Obama is supporting international interventions in Libya and the Ivory Coast so as to establish a “precedent” whereby were he were to lose his reelection bid and refuse to “give up power,” the international community would intervene militarily in the US to keep him in office.

But that’s just the start of it:

Alan Keyes was also a featured attraction on the main stage, where he ranted that God created America so that all citizens would act according to His law and to His will.  But America has squandered that gift and so it is only a matter of time before God destroys this nation … and the recent earthquake in Japan is proof that such a time is getting near.

This is a talking point that has come directly from Rick Joyner; Joyner is a neo-Pentecostal evangelist, and the Oak Initiative is his vehicle for  increasing his prominence as a player on the Christian Right. Last month, Joyner warned that the Japanese earthquake would herald the economic collapse of the USA, and that a huge earthquake was imminent in California. As evidence, Joyner cites messages given by God to Jim Bakker.

Right Wing Watch also notes Boykin’s contribution to the event:

Speaking on the dangers of Islam at The Oak Initiative Summit, Retired General Jerry Boykin attacked religious leaders who seek interfaith dialogue and understanding with Muslims, claiming that when Muslims pray, they curse Jesus and asserting that Islam is not an Abrahamic faith and therefore Christianity and Islam have absolutely nothing in common.

This is par for the course, and one of the other summit speakers, Nicholas Papanicolaou, recently wrote a book for the Oak Initiative’s publishing house, called Islam vs the United States. However, there’s also something a bit strange going on here: in Europe, Papanicolaou helps to run an organisation which exists to promote inter-religious dialogue, including with Muslims, and in 2009 Joyner spoke at one of its conferences. Papanicolaou, Joyner, and Boykin are also all leading members of a “chivalric order”.

Although the destruction of the USA may be imminent, Keyes is still thinking ahead, and he is planning to put in appearance at Joseph Farah’s 2011 WND Tea Party at Sea in August, alongside the likes of Aaron Klein and Molotov Mitchell. Keyes is a regular fixture on these jaunts; here he is in an advert for last year’s event, where he is bafflingly billed as “Admiral Alan Keyes”. Perhaps that’s an example of the “misinformation” which Farah recently admitted his WorldNetDaily site carries.

Art Vandalism Highlights Catholic Right Organisations in France and Belgium

Following the vandalism of a print of Immersion (Piss Christ) at the Collection Lambert art gallery in Avignon, Le Monde has some background on the Civitas Institute, the Catholic Right organisation which recently mobilised a protest against the artwork:

Pour le politologue Jean-Yves Camus, le discours qui évoque un traitement différencié des religions en France n’est pas neuf. Mais derrière ce combat, “c’est la soumission de l’ordre politique à l’ordre chrétien qui est l’objectif”. L’institut Civitas est lié, selon ce spécialiste de l’extrême droite, aux catholiques intégristes de la mouvance lefebvriste. Il considère Alain Escada comme “la vitrine, le simple porte-parole” du mouvement. “J’ai connu ce citoyen belge en tant que patron d’une petite librairie d’extrême droite à Bruxelles. C’est un personnage sans grande envergure et l’on peut affirmer sans s’avancer qu’il n’est pas la tête pensante de Civitas”, témoigne Jean-Yves Camus.

ln other words, Alain Escada, described as “secretary” of the movement, is seen by Jean-Yves Camus as no more than a front-man. Le Monde notes some other individuals associated with the organisation:

L’abbé Régis de Cacqueray, l’un des dirigeants du mouvement, appelle cependant les catholiques à un engagement municipal à l’occasion des élections de 2014 “pour le triomphe du Christ-Roi”.

…C’est en revanche dans les cercles beaucoup plus classique du militantisme intégriste que l’institut puise ses forces vives… Le président de l’institut n’est autre que l’amiral François de Penfentenyo.

La composition du comité de parrainage à l’hommage national à Jeanne d’Arc organisé par Civitas, le 8 mai à Paris, donne d’autres indications sur les personnalités proches du mouvement. On y trouve des gens parfois d’un haut niveau intellectuel et qui ont un long passé de militant, comme le relève Jean-Yves Camus : “Michel Olagnon est le président de la Fédération des scouts et guides Godefroy de Bouillon. Michel Fromentoux, qui milite aussi depuis les années 70, est un royaliste bien connu, rédacteur en chef de L’Action française 2000. On peut également évoquer Aymeric Chauprade, géopoliticien.”

Fr Régis de Cacqueray Valmenier is Superior of the District of France for the Society of Saint Pius X, the same Catholic traditionalist grouping to which Richard Williamson belongs; last year, he complained about Rabbi Rivon Krygier being allowed to give a lecture in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, stating that “The Paris cathedral is neither a synagogue nor a Masonic temple”. Olagnon’s scouting organisation is also an SSPX affiliate. Admiral François de Penfentenyo de Kervéréguin, meanwhile, is the son of Michel de Penfentenyo, a Catholic nationalist group who at one time headed Cité Catholique. In 2009, Aymeric Chauprade was fired from an academic position for expounding on 9/11 as an “American-Israeli conspiracy”.

Escada, meanwhile, may just be “le simple porte-parole” of Civitas, but he also runs another organisation, called Belgium and Christianity. The Belgian anti-fascist magazine ResistanceS has some background:

Reprise en main par Alain Escada, elle s’est très vite intégrée dans les rangs de l’extrême droite classique. Proche de la droite ultra, catholique et intégriste française (active au sein du Front national de Jean-Marie Le Pen), en 1995, Belgique et Chrétienté soutiendra la création du Front nouveau de Belgique (FNB), une dissidence du Front national de Daniel Féret. Alain Escada devint même membre de sa direction, comme porte-parole officiel. Ce « croisé » de L’Europe chrétienne passa néanmoins ensuite avec armes et bagages du côté du Front national, après un conflit personnel (et commercial !) avec la présidente du FNB, Marguerite Bastien.

…Le « patron » de Belgique et Chrétienté est aussi le fondateur de « Polémique-Info » Dans cette publication hebdomadaire d’extrême droite (aujourd’hui disparue), des écrits pronazis, rendant par exemple hommage à un ancien de la Légion SS Wallonie ou à l’association des Amis de Robert Brasillach (du nom du célèbre collaborateur de l’Occupant nazi pendant la Deuxième guerre mondiale), étaient réguliers. « Polémique-Info » ciblait en particulier la « Haute finance vagabonde et anonyme », terme codé dans la « littérature » antisémite pour désigner les Juifs. Ce journal deviendra la vitrine médiatique de Belgique & Chrétienté.

L’association Belgique et Chrétienté deviendra la « branche politique » de la Fraternité Saint-Pie X.

Returning to the subject of Immersion‘s vandalism, Escada says “Je ne condamne ni ne cautionne ce geste”. According to a notice on art gallery’s website, it is currently closed for security reasons.