Paul Ray Sued by Alan Ayling in Malta

From Malta Today:

A British far-right activist, Paul Adam Cinato, has been ordered to pay €5,000 in damages to a UK national after publishing three articles in his personal blog in 2012, which were deemed defamatory by the Maltese courts.

…Magistrate Francesco Depasquale today heard how Cinato, whose last known address was Marsaxlokk, publishes a blog under the pseudonym Lionheart.  In April and May of 2012, three of his articles attacked English national Alan Derek Ayling, who in the past has denied allegations he is the financier of the English Defence League, allegedly met Cinato in England to discuss the UK’s political situation…

Both men were associated with the early days of the EDL: Cinato, better known as Paul Ray, was involved with organising football hooligans into anti-Islam protests in Luton back in April 2009, although by the following August he had been sidelined as the EDL began to establish a coherently branded presence. As noted above, Alan Ayling (then known as “Alan Lake”) gained a reputation as the EDL’s “financier”, although this seems to have been exaggerated. The EDL officially repudiated him in August 2011, after bad publicity arising from some of his statements.

Ayling and Cinato were also a focus of media attention following the massacre in Utoya; Anders Breivik’s manifesto included references to having met a “Richard the Lionhearted” in London, and journalists seized on the similarly between this name and Cinato’s blog pseudonym “Lionheart”. While condemning Breivik’s actions, Cinato appeared to welcome the publicity (he featured on the front page of the London Times), although I don’t think there was any actual connection, for reasons I explained at the time. Ayling, meanwhile, gave an interview with Dagbladet following a conversation with police in Norway, in which he told the paper that “if I inspired [Breivik], he misunderstood.”

Since that time, the two men have largely slipped out of public view, although Cinato has continued to pump out postings about Ayling. To a large extent, these consist of photos of Ayling  linked with big red arrows to photos of Breivik placed above feverishly conspiratorial commentary. According to Ayling’s testimony to the court:

…the allegations destroyed his marriage and… he was forced to quit his job as a database manager at the European Bank for Resources and Development. “Wherever I travel I’m haunted by Lionheart’s allegations,”

Cinato was ordered to pay 5,000 Euros, but it’s not clear whether he still resides in Malta.

(H/T Hope Not Hate)

Media Highlights “Satanic Sects” Claim in Pope John Paul II Reliquary Theft

The Telegraph reports on the theft of a reliquary containing a piece of cloth stained by the blood of Pope John Paul II; the item was removed from the Church of St Peter of Ienca (link added):

…”It’s possible that there could be Satanic sects behind the theft of the reliquary,” said Giovanno Panunzio, the national coordinator of an anti-occult group called Osservatorio Antiplagio.

“This period of the year is important in the Satanic calendar and culminates in the Satanic ‘new year’ on Feb 1. This sort of sacrilege often take place at this time of year”

The quote appears to have been derived from Italian media; Panunzio also claims that there’s a thriving market in stolen religious artefacts among Satanists:

Il mercato dei simulacri religiosi nelle sette sataniche è fiorente e i simboli sacri senza un particolare valore artistico, ma unici, vengono pagati anche decine di migliaia di euro. 

However, Italian reports also note that the artefact may actually have been taken by a “devotee” of the late Pope.

By “Satanic new year”, Panunzio presumably means the pagan spring festival of Imbolg, which takes place at the start of February: “Satanism” is usually imagined (to the distress of actual neo-pagans) as a strange hybrid of elements taken from pre-Christian European religion and the self-conscious inversion of Christian symbolism and ritual. However, Panunzio does not substantiate his claim that the theft fits a pattern of a sacrilege that “often takes place” in the run-up to February, and I’m sceptical of the existence of a “thriving market” in stolen religious goods. If “Satanists” have indeed stolen the item, which is far from certain, it’s most likely that the culprits are juveniles for whom “Satanism” is simply a way to be transgressive.

Details on Panunzio in English are scarce; he is described as a “devout Catholic” living in Sardinia who opposes psychics and other manifestations of what he sees as “superstition”. It seems that his line of attack is primarily rationalistic, but that he also sees such phenomena in terms of “Satanism”.

UPDATE (1 February): The BBC reports that three men have been arrested, and it appears that the theft was a simple burglary:

The cloth was found in separate pieces in a garage of one of the three men arrested in connection with the theft.

It has been put back together with only a few filaments of gold missing… The three suspects apparently threw the cloth away, not realising its value.

Thomas More Law Center’s Lawsuit Tossed By Federal Judge

From the AP:

A federal judge Wednesday dismissed a conservative Christian advocacy group’s lawsuit against a Muslim rights organization over the cancellation of a speech by an anti-Muslim speaker at a southwestern Michigan school.

…Allegan police interrupted Kamal Saleem’s speech Jan. 28, 2012, saying there were threats of violence against him. Dawud Walid, executive director of  [CAIR’s] Michigan chapter, had written the school district earlier objecting to Saleem’s appearance.

U.S. District Judge Janet Neff dismissed Walid and his group as defendants. Neff also dismissed claims against the Allegan police and the group People for the American Way, which advocates for liberal causes…

The case had been brought by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of several plaintiffs: then-State Representative Dave Agema, who introduced Saleem’s talk; Elizabeth Griffin, a chapter leader of Brigitte Gabriel’s ACT! for America organisation; Allegan County Commissioner Willis Sage; and a certain Pastor Mark Gurley, a birther who was one of the event sponsors.

I covered the story at the time: Saleem’s speech was interrupted by police because they unfortunately took at face value Saleem’s claim that Muslims had put a “$25million bounty” on his head, and they feared an immediate threat to life. Perhaps the police response was misjudged, but the local police chief  had to make a immediate decision on a matter of public safety based on information given to him at the last moment. The TMLC subsequently sued the school district – the case was settled for $500 a year ago – but also claimed that the real reason the speech had been shut down was because CAIR and PFAW had previously written to the school district asking it not to give Saleem a platform.

The TMLC claimed this meant the two groups had “interfered with the contract” between the venue and the event organisers; this was obvious nonsense, as the two groups had not played any part in the police decision – and even if the venue had declined to host Saleem as a result of the two groups’ representations, there would still be no case to answer. Anyone is entitled to write to the managers of a venue with information about the nature of a speaker they intend to host, and Saleem is a particularly unsuitable person to be given a platform in an educational setting.

The TMLC, while striking a faux “free speech” pose, was in fact attempting to misuse the law to censor critical comment of Saleem, the most floridly bogus of the Muslim-turned-Christian “ex-terrorists” who make money from telling lurid stories to conservative groups about Islamic conspiracies and Barack Obama. And the judge saw through it, asserting that in writing to the school board the defendants had exercised their First Amendment right to petition their representatives (full ruling here, h/t Ed Brayton).

Agema, meanwhile, has recently been the news for other reasons – over to the Detroit Free Press:

Agema — one of two national committee members from Michigan — came under fire after making comments in December that suggested gays manipulate the system to get health care because of a risk of contracting AIDS. Then this month, he posted on his Facebook page a defense of a Russian law that criminalizes homosexuality, and commented that it appeared to be “common sense” to him. He also re-posted a tract that questioned if Muslims had made any positive contribution to American culture.

Senior Republicans are asking for him to step down. The “tract” was an anti-Muslim and anti-Obama viral email that seems to have first appeared the day after Obama’s Cairo speech on 4 June 2009.

However, once again, an element of the Christian Right is coming to Agema’s support: not, this time, the TMLC, but in the form of Bryan Fischer.

Maajid Nawaz Jesus and Mo Controversy

A few days late with this; from the IB Times:

A would-be Liberal Democrat MP who published an image of the Prophet Mohammed on Twitter has been targeted by online abuse.

Maajid Nawaz received threats of violence – including beheading – and an online petition was started against his bid to become MP in 2015.

It happened after the former Muslim radical and co-founder of Quilliam, an anti-extremism thinktank, drew the ire of critics by publishing a cartoon of the prophet of Islam on his Twitter timeline.

Nawaz posted an image of Jesus and Mohammed taken from the comic strip Jesus and Mo, for illustrative purposes. As he explained afterwards:

…I didn’t post it on here gratuitously. Rather, a week ago the BBC Big Questions featured a long-shot of this cartoon. I posted that image here to explain how, as a Muslim, I didn’t find this particular image offensive and think God is bigger than to find offence at such a bland cartoon…

The picture simply depicts Muhammad standing next to Jesus and saying “How Ya Doing?”, and it became the focus of controversy after two students were temporarily banned by their university from wearing t-shirts bearing the image. However, the strip from which it derives also shows Muhammad and Jesus drinking beer, making crude sexual comments and sharing a bed. The tone is sceptical and satirical, although not (from what I’ve seen of it) gratuitously hostile or aggressive. Nawaz makes no comment about the whole Jesus and Mo corpus, but it’s hardly surprising that some Muslims would be critical of Nawaz’s willingness to republish an obviously irreverent image with such a provenance and of his attitude towards it.

Nawaz demonstrates that not all Muslims necessarily take offence at a cartoon of Muhammad drawn by a sceptical satirist, or subscribe to the taboo against pictorial representations of the prophet of Islam. However, it’s clear that he’s also inviting debate, speaking from the position of being a well-connected media commentator who has positioned himself (or been positioned as) an exemplar of how a Muslim ought to be in the world in order to be worthy of the status “non-extremist”. Yet it’s now being portrayed (particularly by Richard Dawkins, who wrote a foreword for a Jesus and Mo collection) as though the primary issue is other Muslims telling Nawaz what he ought to be offended by, rather than what he thinks other Muslims ought not to be offended by.

Alas, though, the level of the “debate” has not so far been particularly encouraging. Take, for instance, this near-hysterical and petulant reaction from Mohammed Shafiq, a rival commentator from the Ramadhan Foundation:

We will notify all muslim organisations in the UK of his despicable behaviour and also notify Islamic countries.

What can that mean, other than that he intends to tip off authoritarian regimes that might inflict harm on Nawaz if he were to visit their countries? It should be noted that Nawaz has particular links in Pakistan, where accusations of blasphemy have fatal results. It’s clear that the controversy is here being used opportunistically to a settle a score.

I can see that some Muslims or Christians wouldn’t care for Jesus and Mo, and I’m not convinced that a religious sensitivity here is a sign of “bigotry”. Perhaps it would be more pertinent, rather than to argue about what people might or might not reasonably find offensive, to instead focus on how people ought to conduct themselves when they are offended.

UPDATE: Nawaz – after an initially bullish response (“As @IceCube once said in the intro skit to “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted”, while on death row: ‘ F%#* all y’all! ‘”) – has now issued a qualified expression of regret:

…But moderate language and a respect for others’ opinions is at the heart of both Liberalism and my understanding of what Prophet Muhammad (???? ???? ???? ?????) teaches us. I wish to take this opportunity to re-assert that although I do not agree with those who have interpreted my comments in a way that I did not intend – and although I continue to hold to my belief in both Islam and freedom of speech – I respect the right of all those who have taken offence to express themselves peacefully. 

I do regret if, in expressing my own views, I have caused inadvertent offence to any side in this debate. 

In conclusion, I bid you all salam (peace) and request that we all allow ourselves to put this unfortunate incident behind us

Gay Marriage Explains Unfortunate Events: Floods

This one’s all over the internet at the moment; from the BBC:

A UKIP councillor has blamed the recent storms and heavy floods across Britain on the Government’s decision to legalise gay marriage.

In the letter to the Henley Standard [David Silvester] he wrote: “The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel (and in naked breach of a coronation oath) will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war.”

He added: “I wrote to David Cameron in April 2012 to warn him that disasters would accompany the passage of his same-sex marriage bill… It is his fault that large swathes of the nation have been afflicted by storms and floods.”

Silvester’s letter to Cameron, which he actually wrote in March 2012 rather than April, was noted at the time by the Pink News, and it marked Silvester’s defection from the Conservative Party to UKIP. He warned:

What will happen precisely, and whether this time it will be terminal, I cannot say. But surely the Conservative Party has had enough discouragement in the last year without you and your ministers courting more.

Silvester’s new letter was not published on-line, but a Twitter-user named Tamsin Borlase brought it to wider attention and the text was then posted at a site called slatpai. From there it spent the day trickling up into the wider media, provoking disgust, ridicule, and incomprehension.

However, Silvester is far from alone in arguing that apparently random misfortune can be explained in terms of supernatural causality relating to homosexuality. In the sixth century, the the emperor Justinian’s law code famously denounced blasphemy and homosexuality on the grounds that “because of such crimes there are famines, earthquakes, and pestilences”, but there are plenty of more recent examples: in 2012 Salon had some fun with a certain “John McTernan of Defend and Proclaim the Faith Ministries in Pennsylvania”, who linked homosexuality to Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac, as well as earthquakes in Haiti, Virigina and the Pacific; while in 2010 Rabbi Yehuda Levin of the Rabbinical Alliance of America explained that

Thirteen months before 9/11, on the day New York City passed homosexual domestic partnership regulations, I joined a group of Rabbis at a City Hall prayer service, pleading with G-d not to visit disaster on the city of N.Y. We have seen the underground earthquake, tsunami, Katrina, and now Haiti. All this is in sync with a two thousand year old teaching in the Talmud that the practice of homosexuality is a spiritual cause of earthquakes.

And just last September, a pastor and radio host named Kevin Swanson suggested that a kiss between Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives Mark Ferrandino and his partner had caused floods in Denver.

Back in the UK, Anglican Bishop Graham Dow said much the same thing as Silvester following floods in 2007; the Telegraph reported:

The bishop, who is a leading evangelical, said that people should heed the stories of the Bible…

“…The sexual orientation regulations are part of a general scene of permissiveness. We are in a situation where we are liable for God’s judgment, which is intended to call us to repentance.”

He expressed sympathy for those who have been hit by the weather, but said that the problem with “environmental judgment is that it is indiscriminate.”

Dow is a Charismatic, and he also associates homosexuality with the activity of demons.

It’s actually akin to a witchcraft accusation: bad things must happen for a reason; and that means someone, or some group of people, must be to blame. Note that Silvester’s list of woes does not include earthquakes: he interprets the floods we’ve had as due to legal recognition of gay marriage, but he hesitates to predict an occurrence that science and history demonstrate is very unlikely ever to happen in the UK.

Silvester attends Henley Baptist Church, and he told the Daily Mail (which described his letter as a “rant”) that

…he went to a Bible college in 2004 and studied the work of Jeffrey Satinover, a controversial American psychologist who describes homosexuality as a treatable disorder…

Satinover was profiled by the BBC in 2009, when he came to the UK to address ex-gay groups. He’s also the author of Cracking the Bible Code, taglined as “The Real Story of the Discovery of Hidden Knowledge in the First Five Books of the Bible”.

Joke PJ Media Article On Mahdi Provokes Apocalyptic Flurry

A couple of weeks ago, PJ Media carried what was apparently an attempt at humour by Canadian poet David Solway. Solway gave an account of having been given special access to “Arak Codex #190001”, a document recently “unearthed in a clay jar at an excavation works near the Arak nuclear site” and now at the “Inscriptions Department of the Malik National Museum of Iran in Tehran”. He explained that the document describes the attributes of the Twelfth Imam, or Mahdi, and he presented a supposed translation:

He is half black, half white. He is tall and strides with a lope. He possesses dead eyes and prominent ears. His background is both obscure and exotic. He is persuasively eloquent and is adept at saying one thing while doing another. His head swivels from side to side when addressing the multitudes, as if reading from prepared texts no doubt lowered from on high and inscribed by the Lord or one of his angels. He gives the distinct impression of being a man-child. He is supremely confident and exudes a certain boyish charm many find irresistible. He is devoted to popular sports involving holes and nets as emblems of ensnaring. He bows frequently in false humility, cajoling the high and mighty of the earth, yet brooks no objection to his will when dissent is offered. He is to be found in many different places from one day to another. He is surrounded by loyal minions, many of whom appear to be imbeciles, who do his bidding without question or scruple. He occupies the seat of power.


 …All his actions are directed toward igniting the flames that wait to engulf the world…. He is an undeclared enemy of the Jewish people and the Jewish state. He is a great friend to Islam in its march toward imposing a caliphate upon unsuspecting nations… He is the repository of sacred teachings and potent incantations, and is adept at uttering sonorous phrases that please as they befuddle…. He is no longer Hidden but exults among us in all his glory… He will inaugurate a new world order.

Solway’s purpose appears to have been satirical – he wanted to mock Shi’ite beliefs about the Mahdi (a subject I looked at here), and to attack Obama. The article was promoted by Robert Spencer as having been written with “tongue planted firmly in cheek”, although it should be remembered that Spencer has also, in all seriousness, endorsed a book which claims that the Bible predicts a Muslim anti-Christ.

Inevitably, however, Solway’s supposed quote from Arak Codex #190001 has now been taken up feverishly by various people who weren’t in on the joke. PJ Miller writes that he received a link to the original post “from a ‘prophecy website’ which sends out daily emails to its subscribers”; Before It’s News has a deadpan article entitled “Barack Obama Fulfills The Occult Signs of the Coming Islamic Mahdi” (“Coincidence? You decide.”); Prophecy Update News headlines the story as “PJ Media Claims The Twelfth Imam, Apocalypse Here“; and a certain Pastor Mike Taylor, in a rumination entitled “Which Messiah Will You Trust?“, allows that the codex may have been “planted”, but asks us to “notice the similarities of a president of these United States and the description of theAlMahdi [sic]”. Various posters at Free Republic appear to have got a bit carried away, too.

Solway is perhaps best known for concocting a fictitious Greek poet named Andreas Karavis.

Russian Billionaire Brings Gifts of the Magi to Moscow

Still with Russia (and slightly late); ITAR-TASS reports that the relics of the Gifts of Magi recently left Mount Athos in Greece for a temporary appearance at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow:

The relics are accompanied by a delegation of the brethren led by Archimandrite Parfeny (Mourelatos), who has been living in Athos for more than 50 years. At the Vnukovo-3 airport, the delegation was welcomed by representatives from the Moscow city government, the Russian Orthodox Church, and heads of the Fund of Saint Basil the Great, who have organized the Gift’s trip to Russia.

The report also has the incorrect detail that this is the “first time since the 15th century” that the relics have left Mount Athos;  in fact, they were displayed in the town of Larissa in 1986.

The exhibition in Russia of relics from Mount Athos is a growing trend. In late 2011 Vladimir Yakunin (a member of Putin’s inner circle and the head of Russia’s railways) arranged for the Virgin Mary’s belt to tour Russia; Yakunin believed the relic would promote family values, and the visit was a chance to promote links between Russia and Greece on the basis of shared Orthodox identity.

The Fund of Saint Basil the Great is headed by a billionaire businessman named Konstantin Malofeev; I blogged about him in July, after Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute wrote about meeting him in Russia and discussing whether “some sort of grand global alliance between the Orthodox and Catholics can be achieved and what effect that might have on the global culture war advanced by the sexual left.”

I drew attention to a report by Alexei Navalny’s  Foundation For Fighting Corruption and the Russia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society, which tells us the following concerning Malofeev’s business interests:

In 2007, VTB Bank and VTB Capital agreed to finance the sale of six Russian dairy farms by a company called Nutritek to a company called RAP. To that end, the bank granted RAP a loan of $225 million. RAP defaulted on the loan within a year in November  2009. A subsequent investigation revealed startling problems with the transaction. It is alleged by VTB Capital, though unproven, that both Nutritek and RAP were actually owned by the same person — Konstantin Malofeev— through separate subsidiaries of  his company, Marshall Capital Partners…It was also alleged that at the time of the sale, Nutritek had highly overinflated the value of the dairy plants. When all was said and done, the bank found itself in possession of a series of dairy facilities worth no more than $35 million though this figure is disputed. VTB has since been mired in years of unsuccessful litigation in the United Kingdom to try to get its money back. So not only had the bank extended nearly a quarter of billion dollars in credit on the basis of collateral worth less than one-fifth as much, it had allegedly financed a deal in which Malofeev had effectively sold his own company to himself, pocketing nearly $200 million in the process, based on VTB’s own calculations.

VTB alleges that it was misled throughout the process and that the civil liability rests solely in Malofeev’s hands. But it is apparent that there were many failures on the bank’s part, leading the Hon Justice Arnold of the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division in London to note in a November 2011 ruling that, “It is not clear from the evidence presently available what, if any, due diligence was carried out by or on behalf of either VTB Moscow or VTB to verify the assertions” made by the parties to the deal.

Malofeev’s business affairs and religious associations were discussed by the Russian edition of Forbes following the police raid, including the Saint Basil Fund.

Malofeev also heads a “League for a Safe Internet”, which promotes conservative websites and supposedly opposes online obscenity. In late 2012, Pavel Durov, who founded the social networking site Vkontakte, claimed that Malofeev had used the League to smear the site as part of a plan to take it over. RuNet Echo reported in April:

… Durov revealed [ru] in November 2012 that Konstantin Malofeev [ru] (then head of Marshall Capital Partners and a trustee at the League for a Safe Internet) had ordered media attacks on Vkontakte in August earlier that year, exploiting his position at the League to accuse Vkontakte of hosting large amounts of child pornography… Durov says that the media campaign against Vkontakte stopped on a dime the moment that he approached Malofeev for negotiations, and restarted the moment those talks broke down.

The Gifts of the Magi, meanwhile, have made their way across the border to Belarus.

The Moscow Times has a scornful opinion piece on the subject by Yulia Latynina.

Name variation: Archimandrite Parthenios (Mourelatos)

Carl Gallups: Non-Return of Jesus So Far Means Rabbi’s Prophecy “Has Come True”

Back in October, WorldNetDaily (WND) published and promoted a new book and DVD claiming that a deceased Kabbalist in Israel named Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri had seen Jesus in a vision and prophesied that he would return following the death of Ariel Sharon. The author, a Baptist pastor named Carl Gallups (also known as “PPSIMMONS”), now has further thoughts:

Kaduri ‘prophesied’ that Jesus would NOT come until Sharon died. Today, Ariel Sharon has died. Kaduri did NOT say the Messiah would come immediately but rather that the Messiah would NOT return before the death of Sharon. This Kaduri prophecy has come true. Did God use the flawed Rabbi? With this prophecy and the revealed NAME of the Messiah it does make one wonder, doesn’t it?

In other words, we have a remarkable confirmation that an unexpected event indeed did not occur. It remains to be seen whether this will be enough to keep the book and DVD royalties rolling in, but I hazard a prophecy of my own that the title – The Rabbi Who Found Messiah: The Story of Yitzhak Kaduri and His Prophecies of the Endtime – will be in the bargain bins before the End Times come upon us.

In fact, Kaduri prophesied in 2005 that Ariel Sharon would be the last Prime Minister of Israel, and that the Messiah had “attached his soul” to someone in Israel. Kaduri also supposedly left a note identifying the name of this person as “Yehoshua” or “Yeshua”, which is an ordinary Hebrew name but which in Anglicised form is “Jesus”. From this, Gallups and others constructed a theory that Kaduri was a secret believer in Jesus, and that he indeed had been given a prophecy.

This may all appear to be somewhat marginal, but US evangelical interest in Kaduri has been growing and Gallups’ account has spread rapidly on Twitter with the final decline and death of Sharon. The story has a couple of particular functions beyond a general credulous interest in supposed signs of the End Times: there’s a trend in US evangelicalism of appropriating aspects of Jewish religious identity, and staking a claim to the soul of a dead Kabbalist takes that to a new level. Secondly, alliances between Israel and Christian Zionists have sometimes faltered over whether Jews need be evangelized, and a story about Jesus appearing to a Rabbi is both a supernatural confirmation of Christianity and a sign that the conversion of the Jews can be left to divine intervention.

Gallups originally came prominence after he created a video in which he argued that the Bible names the Anti-Christ as “baraq o bamah”. He’s currently moved on from Sharon’s death to discussing how Obama murdered Loretta Fuddy, presumably as a ploy to distract interest away from his birth certificate. Gallups has a particular enthusiasm for the Birtherism of a certain Mike Zullo, who apparently serves as “lead investigator” for Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

UPDATE (23 January): Looks like my prophecy was accurate:

…And today only, WND readers can get Carl Gallups’ “The Rabbi Who Found Messiah” for only $4.95 – a huge $21 discount off the regular $25.95 price!

Official At Powerful Russian Orthodox Body Calls For Re-Criminalization of Homosexuality

Staying with Russia, Interfax Religion has comments from Roman Silantyev, who heads the human rights centre at the World Russian People’s Council; take a deep breath:

The idea to return the criminal article for sodomy seems quite logical to me. The non-acceptance of homosexuality is a sign of healthy moral atmosphere in the society along with the rejection of racism and chauvinism…

Further, a law would allow Orthodox believers

to get rid of people, who indecently interpret the commandment on love.

Silantyev is also an expert on Islam, and he added the detail that the move would also isolate Wahhabis, who, he says, “practice sensuous perversions along with religious perversions”.

Silantyev was speaking in support of a proposed criminal penalty suggested by a former Orthodox priest named Ivan Okhlobystin, who last month expressed the view that gay people should be burnt alive in ovens. According to Interfax, Silantyev’s statement reflects the position of his organisation.

The World Russian People’s Council is not some fringe hardline outfit; it sits at the centre of Orthodox power in Russia, as a 2011 article by Valery Sozayev explains:

The World Russian People’s Council (WRPC) became one of the more respectable conservative organisations. It was launched in 1993 and its current leader is Patriarch Kirill. Since 2005, the organisation has a consultative status at the United Nations. Its presidium includes prominent political and cultural figures of Russia (Culture Minister of the Russian Federation Avdeyev, Chairman of the Constitutional Court Zorkin, Foreign Minister Lavrov, President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Osipov, St. Petersburg’s Governor Poltavchenko, and many others). It was at the congresses of this organisation that the ideas to “revive Russia”, and in fact to impose Orthodox Christian conservatism on Russia, were voiced, later to be implemented by the government.

I discussed the Council previously in 2007, and Kirill more generally here. WRPC conferences have also been promoted in the USA by the World Congress of Families, and according to state media in Belarus,  an Minsk-based organisation called Family-Unity-Fatherland is the “official partner of the World Congress of Families and the World Russian People’s Council”.

A few posts ago, I drew attention to a quote from journalist Jeff Sharlet, whose promised new report on the anti-gay movement is eagerly awaited. His observation bears repeating:

It’s time to recognize that a global homophobic movement has emerged. Each country is distinct; but the rhetoric is strikingly similar. I’ve reported firsthand on this from Uganda, Russia, Kenya, and the U.S. I keep coming across the same crooked statistics, the same obsession with Soros money, the same conflation of homosexuality with pedophilia. It’s not a conspiracy. I’ll say it again: It’s not a conspiracy. It’s worse. It’s a movement, a monstrous one.

Christmas with Kirill

ITAR-TASS reports:

Patriarch of Moscow and All-Russia Kirill and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev exchanged memorable gifts in the altar of the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Savior after the Christmas service had ended… Medvedev presented a bouquet of white roses to Patriarch Kirill and congratulated the head of the Russian Orthodox Church on the Christmas holiday.

Interfax tells us what Medvedev said to Kirill:

I wish you good health, spiritual power and new successes in your responsible primatial service to the Fatherland, our people and the Russian Orthodox Church. I am sincerely grateful to you for your attention and spiritual patronage and guidance. My wife joins my greetings.

By “spiritual patronage”, Medvedev probably means prayers or such, although in the context of church and state in Russia the phrase has other connotations. Amusingly, the ITAR-TASS story is filed on its website as “non-political”: it should be recalled that ahead of the 2012 elections, Kirill criticised Putin’s opponents and referred to his rule as a “miracle of God”.

Kirill also appeared on TV over Christmas; RIA-Novosti reports:

National television also aired early Tuesday a lengthy interview with Patriarch Kirill, who sermonized against the commercialization of Christmas, warned against a possible revolution in Ukraine, criticized Internet addicts and promoted a nationwide cleanup of the country.

Interfax has further details:

“….when clergymen appear on the barricades goading the people, it is not a church message,” he said adding that in any circumstances the church should serve peace and unity.

This was an obvious barb against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate, which does not accept the authority of Moscow. Kiev Patriarch Filaret responded by complaining that Kirill’s enthusiasm for the idea of a “Russian World” amounts to empire. The two men have a history of ill-feeling.