the hill-Five hurdles to getting an immigration deal-

-37k.,b40–By Jordain Carney – 01/27/18

The Trump administration and Congress have a matter of weeks to agree to an immigration deal that would protect potentially millions of immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children from deportation.

President Trump is winding down the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allowed qualified immigrants to work and go to school here. The White House set a March 5 deadline for action by Congress.

Before then, lawmakers face a Feb. 8 deadline to fund the government — not too long after a three-day shutdown triggered by the fight over DACA. The Senate will start its immigration debate immediately after the spending deadline.

Getting to a deal will be anything but easy given contrasting positions of the White House, Democrats and conservative Republicans.

Here are five big hurdles to a deal.

Can there be an agreement on citizenship?

Trump is now backing a path to citizenship for as many as 1.8 million immigrants known as “Dreamers,” a stance that significantly increases the likelihood it will be a part of a deal.

But there’s no guarantee.

Trump’s proposal is paired with spending $25 billion on border security, including funding for the wall with Mexico, an end to family immigration policies that allow immigrants to bring parents and adult children to the United States, and the death of the visa lottery program designed to bring in more people from countries that send fewer immigrants here.

Democrats and some Republicans support allowing DACA recipients to become citizens. A bipartisan proposal from Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) would give a 10- to 12-year path, the same timeframe outlined by Trump.

A bill proposed last year by GOP Sens. Thom Tillis (N.C.) and James Lankford (Okla.) set up a 15-year waiting period.

But a number of Republicans oppose including a path to citizenship, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said on Twitter that Trump’s “amnesty deal negotiates away American Sovereignty.”

And Trump could back away if Democrats refuse to meet his other demands.

“What I think people need to realize is he’s willing to do citizenship if, and only if, it becomes accompanied with the border and ending chain migration,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

Deciding on the size of the deal

Trump has set out four pillars for the talks: DACA, border security, family migration and the visa lottery program.

But some senators think it might be smarter to work on a smaller deal.

They are floating a scaled-back immigration plan that would pair protections for DACA recipients with a border security package. That plan would leave out a path for citizenship, supported by Democrats, and the changes to family-based immigration pushed for by conservatives.

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said that including “chain,” or family-based immigration — which allows citizens and legal residents to sponsor their family members — makes the debate “a lot more complicated.”

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who is up for reelection in a state won by Trump, added: “If you start putting in all of these highly charged, toxic issues it’s just not going to work.”

But conservatives are demanding changes to family-based immigration as part of any deal.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who is taking the lead for Republicans on drafting the Senate bill, accused senators of trying to “alter reality.”

“The reality is the president said there had to be four pillars and I think people just need to accept that and deal with it,” he said.

Getting a bill through the House

Getting an immigration bill through the Senate is one thing. Getting one through the House is another.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Obama both saw immigration deals die in the lower chamber, so there is plenty of room to doubt a deal brokered in the Senate will survive in the more conservative House.

Conservative House lawmakers are already putting heavy pressure on their leaders to bring legislation spearheaded by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to the floor.

The Goodlatte bill provides DACA recipients a temporary, three-year legal status that could be renewed indefinitely instead of a path to citizenship. It also includes elements of the White House’s wish list, including $30 billion to build a border wall and bolster other security measures.

Senators are torn on how to handle the House.

Some Republicans, including GOP Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Graham, argue if they can get at least 70 supporters on the Senate proposal, it might help win over the lower chamber.

Others are preaching for their colleagues to be realistic.

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) said the Senate needs to be “mindful” of their House counterparts.

Outside groups

Trump’s immigration framework is already under fire from both sides, who are casting the proposal as a non-starter.

Breitbart News, a conservative website, labeled the plan “Don’s Amnesty Bonanza,” while on the left, CREDO Action said it was a “white supremacist’s wish list.”

The criticism from progressives is less surprising because Trump’s proposal was put together by immigration hard-liners on his staff. But paired with early opposition from some on the right, it underscores how difficult it will be to get people on board with the agreement.

Immigration deals in the past have been killed off by outside groups, and there have been some notable moments in this year’s debate where individual lawmakers have moved from their positions.

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), for example, turned heads when he said during the three-day government shutdown he could agree to money for the wall in exchange for DACA protections. Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the Senate Democratic leader, also offered wall funding to Trump for DACA.

Schumer, however, came under heavy criticism from the left over the shutdown, which liberals thought was mishandled. He then said he was rescinding his earlier offer, underlining the influence progressives inside and outside the Capitol will have in the weeks going forward.

President Trump

The question of what Trump really wants on immigration has long been a challenge for Democrats and Republicans alike.

Just before the shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he would bring an immigration bill to the floor “as soon as we figure out what he is for,” referring to Trump. Until then, he said the Senate would just be spinning its wheels.

Trump confused lawmakers at the beginning of the month when he invited key members to a roundtable discussion and talked of wanting to get a deal. Trump even said he’d sign whatever lawmakers brought him, and at one point seemed to be confused over what a “clean” DACA bill might look like.

Days later, Trump shocked Durbin and Graham with strident talk at another White House meeting, saying he didn’t want the United States to accept more immigrants from “shithole countries” such as Haiti, El Salvador and African nations.

The reversal contributed to the sense on Capitol Hill that Trump’s positions can turn on a dime.

The White House’s rollout of a proposal on Thursday, which is expected to be formalized Monday, is aimed at offering reassurances.

But it’s unlikely to completely assuage doubts in both parties that the president might change his mind again.

 

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Muslim Woman: “Anyone who doesn’t understand that living conditions under Islam are intolerable is simply blind to reality”

–freedom outpost–1k.,b61Pamela GellerJanuary 14, 2018

Last Wednesday, the Geller Report brought a harrowing report from a young woman who grew up Muslim, but whose eyes had opened to the oppression and violence that Islam brings, only to be shut down by non-Muslim leftists when she tried to tell them the truth.

Now comes an even more harrowing and eye-opening report from this same courageous woman:

Hi Ms. Geller,

I’m sorry to bother you again, but I’ve also like to share some horrific stories with you. Thank you for taking your time for reading this.

First some background info on myself:

My family immigrated to the United States in the early 1990s. I was born in Pakistan in 1996.

At the age of 1, my parents brought me to the United States. I grew up here in Georgia and completed all of my schooling here in Georgia.

However, I never realized how I was one of the lucky ones who was able to move to the United States at a very young age and be able to complete my schooling here.

However, my parents, uncles and aunts completed their schooling in Pakistan. They’ve told me heartbreaking stories about what they experienced in Pakistan schools.

My uncle explained to me that when he misbehaved in class, the teacher physically beat up him and left him with bruises.

The teachers also grabbed rulers and chopped off the hands of young children.

In an Islamic Society, no one, not even children are safe.

In schools, they resorted to violence to get students to behave. I was lucky that I never managed to go to school there ever. Children were spanked with sticks.

I figured my parents and the rest of my family knew that schooling in Pakistan was too barbaric and did not want me there.

Also, an Islamic Society, walking around in neighborhoods was not safe.

When I visited in 2003 at the age of 5, I saw some very disturbing things.

In an Islamic society, I felt very unsafe.

There were gangs around to assault people.

No industrialization.

Streets were dirty.

Thugs everywhere.

In homes, there were not any toilets. Using the bathroom was gross.

All of this was a result of lack of freedom.

My parents knew that this was not a society that they would want me to grow up in.

I, myself never experienced true Islamic barbarism, but my parents, uncles and aunts have.

While I’m still grateful that I lived in the United States all my life, I am still very concerned about how violent and oppressive these Islamic societies are today.

Anyone who doesn’t understand that living conditions under Islam are intolerable is simply blind to reality.

In a society dominated by Islam, no one is safe.

Please feel free to post this on your website (anomynous please). These stories and what I observed from not living there are truly awful. Everyone should feel lucky that they did not have to live in a cruel environment.

the gathering threat to abortion rights

nyt-

By THE EDITORIAL BOARDJAN. 28, 2018–2I.,b63

People who care about basic American freedoms should be grateful to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, for one thing: He has given liberals another good reason to flock to the polls in November.

Mr. McConnell is set to hold a procedural vote this week on a bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy. The so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, is part of a long-term legislative effort by the anti-abortion movement to gut Roe v. Wade and severely curtail abortion access nationwide.

Twenty-week abortion bans, enacted in more than a dozen states and struck down in two, violate the Supreme Court’s standard that abortion can be restricted only when a fetus is viable outside the womb. Many, including the one being considered by the Senate, are based on claims not supported by most scientists about when a fetus feels pain.

Only about 1 percent of women seeking abortions do so after 21 weeks, and they often make that decision because a fetal abnormality has been found or because their own health is in danger. Twenty-week bans particularly curb access for poor women, who often struggle to find the money and time for the procedure.

The Senate bill contains exceptions for rape and incest if the women reported the abuse to law enforcement and sought counseling 48 hours before the abortion. But there is no exception to protect the health of the pregnant woman.

Abortion providers, who already face harassment and threats to their lives and work, would face criminal penalties, with a sentence of up to five years, for performing abortions after 20 weeks. The locations of all such procedures would need to be reported to the federal government.

Though President Trump urged Congress to “pass this important law and send it to my desk for signing” in his address to the anti-abortion March for Life this month, Republicans are almost certain to fall short of the 60 votes needed to formally take up the bill.

Still, abortion rights advocates and medical professionals are taking the legislation seriously, since abortion foes are working hard for it. The prospects for such a ban considerably diminish if the Democrats take back either house of Congress after the 2018 midterm elections. And if they control the Senate, Mr. Trump will have virtually no chance of picking another anti-abortion Supreme Court justice.

Since announcing his candidacy, Mr. Trump, at one time a supporter of abortion rights, has embraced anti-abortion politics with zeal. But that seems to be a matter of maintaining evangelical support. His concern for fetal life cannot be fairly measured, but his sensitivity to the needs of women, or lack of it, is well known.

Some sponsors of the version of this bill that the House passed in October seem to share Mr. Trump’s attitude. One, Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona, resigned his seat in December after it was reported that a female staff member had felt pressured to have sex with him as part of a surrogacy scheme. Another, Tim Murphy, a Pennsylvania Republican, voted for the bill just hours after news broke that he was accused of pressuring his mistress to — get this — have an abortion. He later quit.

Ultimately, the fate of the ban and other anti-abortion measures will be in the hands of voters. For supporters of abortion rights, the choice should be clear.

illiterates, no-shows, all seniors graduate at DC high-

gop-usa—51k.,b30–OneNewsNow.com -January 29, 2018

Every single student – including students who do not show up for class for months and cannot read or write – received their diplomas at Ballou High School in Washington, D.C.

This liberal graduation trend is by no means a rare occurrence on high school campuses in the nation’s capital.

“Students across the city graduated despite having missed more than 30 days of school in a single course, findings from the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent investigation found,” Townhall reported. “The investigation is still ongoing, but parents’ demand for answers prompted city officials to share some initial findings.”

Schools for scandal

WAMU radio and NPR conducted an investigation exposing the reason why D.C. high schools – including the longtime academically challenged Ballou High School located in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods – had overwhelmingly high graduation rates. Soon after, a city-wide audit was conducted exposing what really went on behind school gates.

All 164 seniors at Ballou received diplomas – with dozens of them issued to students with excessively high rates of unexcused absences – and to top that off, every single graduate of the school applied to college and was accepted. This marvel – in an area of the nation that was amongst the lowest in high school graduation rates for years – was celebrated and covered by national media across the nation.

After scrutinizing hundreds of documents, chronic unexcused absenteeism was prevalent for numerous students, with half of Ballou’s graduates missing more than three months (60 days) of school.

“We reviewed hundreds of pages of Ballou’s attendance records, class rosters and emails after a district employee shared the private documents,” NPR reported. “Half of the graduates missed more than three months of school last year, unexcused. One in five students was absent more than present – missing more than 90 days of school.”

This fact – in and of itself – should have precluded most students from being eligible to receive diplomas.

“According to district policy, if a student misses a class 30 times, he should fail that course,” NPR’s Kate McGee informed. “Research shows that missing 10 percent of school – about two days per month – can negatively affect test scores, reduce academic growth and increase the chances a student will drop out.”

Unbelievable

Ballou High School history teacher Brian Butcher said that during his 20 years of teaching at low-performing schools from New York City to Florida, he never saw 12th-grade students who could not read and write, but admits that this was not the case at the D.C. school, where many students fit this description, yet nonetheless received diplomas and college acceptance.

“You saw kids walking across the stage, who, they’re nice young people, but they don’t deserve to be walking across the stage,” Butcher told NPR. “It was smoke and mirrors. That is what it was.”

After speaking with about a dozen current and recent teachers at Ballou, along with four recent graduates, a consistent story was uncovered by NPR and WAMU – that administration pressured teachers to pass students who were chronically absent … a fact of which students were well aware and took full advantage.

Feeling compelled to violate their conscience, Ballou teachers argue that moving students forward who do not deserve to be passed is a huge disservice to the school’s youth.

“It’s oppressive to the kids because you’re giving them a false sense of success,” a current Ballou teacher wishing to remain anonymous to keep her job contended.

Another Ballou teacher speaking on the condition of anonymity addressed the problem as a moral issue.

“To not prepare them is not ethical,” the D.C. high school instructor stressed, according to NPR.

Over the past two years, Morgan Williams taught health and physical education at Ballou and maintains that even though the gym was always full because students skipping other classes would congregate there, many of her students were chronically absent – despite her ignored pleas to administrators and counselors to remedy the situation.

“They’re not prepared to succeed,” Williams insisted, noting that students were being set up for failure because of the staff’s lack of expectations. “If I knew I could skip the whole semester and still pass, why would I try?”

Playing dumb is rewarded at Ballou – for teachers and students alike.

“Either you want your professional career on paper to look like you don’t know what you’re doing or you just skate by – play by the game,” a Ballou teacher wanting to remain anonymous to protect her job shared with NPR.”

And those who stay in the game score a win – at least in their bank account.

“If an evaluation score is high enough to reach the ‘highly effective’ status, teachers and administrators can receive $15,000 to $30,000 in bonuses,” McGee explained. “D.C. Public Schools wouldn’t tell us who gets a bonus, but teachers we spoke with didsay the possibility of such a large bonus increases the pressure on teachers to improve student numbers.”

Who’s accountable?

At a press conference addressing the graduation scandal on Tuesday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser appeared shocked and upset that students have erroneously been taught that they can move forward in life without making an effort.

“Our biggest responsibility is knowing that showing up half the time doesn’t work anywhere in life,” Bowser insisted, according to Townhall. “The huge investments we have made in our schools only work if students are sitting in the seats.”

The mayor claimed she is “not happy” about belatedly being told about the problems existing in the D.C. school system, maintaining after the superintendents’ review that it is “clear” that more in-depth evaluations must be made regarding what is truly going in inside high school gates.

“I’ll hold the chancellor accountable,” Bowser promised, Townhall reported.

The city is looking to replace Ballou High School Principal Yetunde Reeves after she was put on administrative leave following the scandal, and major changes are being made to reconfigure the faculty at the school, as well.

Local viewers were skeptical and blasted the school system and D.C. leadership in the comment section.

“Dr. Reeves should be prosecuted,” a local viewer demanded in the comment section, where many were skeptical about the announced changes that are being made, according to Townhall.

Another commenter lashed out at D.C. leadership and the school system over the scandal.

“Revoke every diploma of every student who failed to meet grad requirements,” one comment read. “Otherwise this is a cruel joke that will have a lasting impact on every DCPS graduate.”

Some commentators suggested that local parents homeschool their children and give up on the public education system in the nation’s capital altogether.

Early signs: Spiked test scores

What was happening at Ballou should come of little surprise to those keeping abreast of the changes – at least on paper – that have been taking place in D.C.’s public education system for some time.

“[On] July 13, 2010. Michelle Rhee, then D.C. schools chancellor, proclaimed at a news conference that Ballou High School was no longer ‘a symbol of what was going wrong in public education’ in the nation’s capital, but a sign of what was going right [because] standardized test proficiency scores had risen from single digits – though to still-failing rates,” the Washington Post reported last November. “Rhee’s patron, then-Mayor Adrian Fenty, stood at her side and called for ‘a big round of applause’ for Ballou’s teachers.”

But claps later turned to jeers.

“Fast-forward to Nov. 29, 2017: A new D.C. schools chancellor, Antwan Wilson, an admirer of Rhee, stood by his patron, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), a Fenty ally, at a news conference to defend allegations that many students who did not qualify for a diploma graduated from Ballou in 2017 – including some who could not read or write well,” the Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss reported at the time. “Neither Wilson – who succeeded Kaya Henderson as chancellor in February – nor Bowser could refute the revelations about Ballou, outlined in an investigation by WAMU and NPR, but promised to investigate.”

Manipulating test scores to present a false perception that students were learning and excelling academically was a major component of boosting the graduation rate and padding salaries.

“Started by Rhee in 2007 and carried on by Henderson, the reforms relied on the use of standardized tests to evaluate students, schools and educators,” Strauss added. “They also included a groundbreaking performance pay system paid for by philanthropists, and chronic churn in teachers and principals. These reforms have not only failed to fix some long-standing problems in the system, but exacerbated others.”

Numbers speak volumes, and education officials in D.C. took full advantage of this fact.

“District officials like to tout rising standardized test scores as evidence of progress – as Bowser and Wilson did repeatedly,” Strauss pointed out in late November. “But the proficiency rates of D.C. district students today would still be considered failing in a high-performing district – and the D.C. system retains a stubborn, gaping achievement gap.”

Turning performance scores and graduation rates upside down was made possible by Rhee, who also used improved numbers to increase pay.

“A key reform was the employee assessment system known as IMPACT was spearheaded under Rhee by Henderson, her deputy, and initially relied heavily on student standardized test scores to evaluate every adult in the system, including custodians,” Strauss noted. “Although changes have been made, IMPACT still rewards teachers with bonuses based on student achievement, which is problematic for a few reasons.”

She went on to demonstrate that the evaluations were merely used to work toward the advantage of school district employees – not students.

“Assessment experts have warned against using test scores for high-stakes decisions on teachers, saying they are unreliable for those purposes, [a]nd Wilson, probably unwittingly, underscored another reason during the news conference,” Strauss continued. “He said that the Common Core test known as PARCC – given to D.C. students in different grades for annual accountability purposes – doesn’t actually assess what students learn in their classrooms. Later, however, he cited the dramatic rise in PARCC scores in the system as proof of progress. Progress of what?”

Turns out, instead of students learning from the tests, they were just used as pawns to forward the school system’s agenda to improve scores – and increase pay.

“Not surprisingly, he didn’t mention past episodes during the Rhee and Henderson administrations in which teachers were caught helping students on high-stakes standardized tests,” Strauss emphasized. “IMPACT provided an incentive for some to do that.”

With the manipulated test scores, chronic absenteeism and perfect graduation rate still under review, major changes are expected to take place at Ballou High well after probe results unfold when the district-wide investigation results are announced at the end of the month.

sources in article

DOJ: crime rate higher among illegal aliens-

gop usa-47k.,b76—Washington Times –January 29, 2018

The crime rate among illegal immigrants in Arizona is twice that of other residents, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday, citing a new report based on conviction data.

The report, from the Crime Prevention Research Center, used a previously untapped set of data from Arizona that detailed criminal convictions and found that illegal immigrants between 15 and 35 are less than 3 percent of the state’s population, but nearly 8 percent of its prison population.

And the crimes they were convicted of were, on the whole, more serious, said John R. Lott Jr., the report’s author and president of the research center.

His findings also challenge the general narrative that immigrants commit fewer crimes. Those past studies usually don’t look at legal versus illegal populations, Mr. Lott said.

Mr. Lott said the Arizona data is able to peek behind that curtain, and the differences between the populations were stark.

“There appears to be a huge difference between the two groups,” Mr. Lott said. “The type of person who goes through the process to legally immigrate in the United States appears to be very law-abiding versus even the U.S.-born population. The reverse is true for undocumented immigrants — they are committing crimes, and more serious crimes.”

Among nearly 4,000 first- and second-degree murder convictions, undocumented immigrants accounted for nearly 13 percent — significantly higher than their percentage of the population. Legal immigrants, by contrast, were less than 1 percent of convicts. Native-born made up the rest.

Undocumented immigrants also accounted for five times the rate of convictions for money laundering and kidnapping, and were three times more likely to be convicted of drive-by shootings.

The data covered from 1985 to 2017. For his data purposes, Mr. Lott defined undocumented immigrants as those who weren’t U.S. citizens or green card holders, signaling permanent residency.

He said the crime rates of the undocumented who were ages 18 to 35 was particularly important, given the ongoing debate over legalizing illegal immigrant “Dreamers.” He said the Arizona data showed that population had crime rates 250 percent higher than their share of the population would have predicted.

The Washington Times had asked several experts to look at Mr. Lott’s research paper but some didn’t respond, while one said he was unable to get Mr. Lott’s data and had questions about Mr. Lott’s methodology.

Mr. Lott said told The Times that the data belonged to Arizona and his agreement was that he wouldn’t give out the raw data without their approval.

Mr. Sessions’ citation of the data Friday inserted the information directly into the ongoing immigration debate.

“They’re more likely to be convicted of sexual assault, robbery, and driving under the influence. They’re more than twice as likely to be convicted of murder,” Mr. Sessions said in remarks prepared for a speech in Norfolk, Virginia.

He continued: “Tens of thousands of crimes have been committed in this country that would never have happened if our immigration laws were enforced and respected like they ought to be.”

 

Yemen: Bahai sentenced to death for “insulting Islam” and “apostasy”

–34k.,b7

Jan 14, 2018 3:00 pm By Robert Spencer Leave a Comment

The death penalty for apostasy is part of Islamic law. It’s based on the Qur’an: “They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah. But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper.” (Qur’an 4:89)

A hadith depicts Muhammad saying: “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him” (Bukhari 9.84.57). The death penalty for apostasy is part of Islamic law according to all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence.

This is still the position of all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, both Sunni and Shi’ite. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the most renowned and prominent Muslim cleric in the world, has stated: “The Muslim jurists are unanimous that apostates must be punished, yet they differ as to determining the kind of punishment to be inflicted upon them. The majority of them, including the four main schools of jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali) as well as the other four schools of jurisprudence (the four Shiite schools of Az-Zaidiyyah, Al-Ithna-‘ashriyyah, Al-Ja’fariyyah, and Az-Zaheriyyah) agree that apostates must be executed.”

Qaradawi also once famously said: “If they had gotten rid of the apostasy punishment, Islam wouldn’t exist today.”

“Baha’i Man Sentenced to Public Execution in Yemen. His Crime? Practicing His Faith,” by Aleesha Matharu, The Wire, January 14, 2018:

In December 2013, Hamed Kamal Muhammad bin Haydara disappeared into the maze that is Yemen’s National Security Bureau (NSB). Over the course of four years, he was tortured and denied a fair trial. His wife and daughters were not allowed to visit, nor did he get to meet legal counsel. Finally, on January 2, 2018, Haydara, was sentenced to public execution by the specialised criminal court in Yemen’s capital Sana’a. He wasn’t even present in court.

One of around 2,000 Baha’is in Yemen, he was picked up for something one would take for granted in a secular country: practicing his faith.

The Baha’i faith, founded in Iran in the 1800s, essentially believes in the oneness of humanity and the unity of all religions. Incidentally, the Lotus Temple, a landmark in New Delhi, is a Baha’i house of worship.

Though no date has been given so far for when the execution will take place, the verdict also asks that all Baha’i spiritual assemblies, the governing bodies for Baha’is, be disbanded.

In Yemen, an Islamic society, the constitution does not recognise any other religion barring Judaism. This is why the trumped up charges against Haydara are, in most part, for “insulting Islam”, “apostasy” and urging Muslims to “embrace the Baha’i religion”.

As an official from the ministry of justice told Rudaw, “The Baha’i faith is not recognised in the constitution, the tradition or by Islam. Therefore, it is a forbidden religion. If a Yemeni renounces his religion and declares himself a Baha’i, this is a crime to be tried at court.”

The authorities in this case, or rather the Iranian-backed Shiite rebels known as Houthis who seized the capital in 2014, have also alleged that Haydara is a spy for Israel and an Iranian citizen who crossed into Yemen in 1991 using a false name.

This accusation has been refuted time and again by his wife, Elham Muhammad Hossain Zara’i, during her long fight for justice, but her appeals to have her husband freed have fallen on deaf years. More so, she has submitted documentation, which shows that he was born in Yemen in 1964.

The sentence has been met with protests by international human rights groups. Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa research and advocacy director, said:

“The Houthi authorities must immediately quash the death sentence against Hamid Haydara. He is a prisoner of conscience who has been tried on account of his conscientiously held beliefs and peaceful activities as a member of the Baha’i community. This sentence is the result of a fundamentally flawed process, including trumped up charges, an unfair trial and credible allegations that Hamid Haydara was tortured and ill-treated in custody. It is also part of a wider crackdown on critics, journalists, human rights defenders and members of the Baha’i community that is causing entire families to live in fear for their safety and the safety of their loved ones.”

On January 11, UK’s minister of state at the foreign office Alan Duncan responded to a question about the death sentence in the House of Commons. Duncan said that though Haydara isn’t a British citizen, the “indignation at what is happening and our wish to try to defend his interests and see him released” would not be diminished.

He highlighted how the United Nations Human Rights Council had in a resolution in September 2017 called for the immediate release of all Baha’is in Yemen imprisoned for their religious beliefs. As of now, five other Baha’is are in detention….

source- spencer, robert- matharu aleesha- bin haydara, hamed kamai muhammad-zara’l hossdain, elham muhammad- duncan, alan

Islam in the public square–

January 2, 2018

34K.,B7

William Kilpatrick

Secularists like to advise Christians that, for the sake of social harmony, they ought to keep their religion to themselves. Religion, they argue, is a private affair between an individual and his designated deity, and ought not to be dragged into the public square. Moreover, they helpfully add, it’s an imposition on others to confront them with beliefs that they may find offensive.

As for themselves, secularists have no qualms about imposing their own values on everyone within reach. They are convinced of the rightness of their beliefs, and consequently they don’t think twice about forcing Christian bakers, florists, and photographers to endorse gay weddings. They are also convinced that they know what’s best for your children. And what’s best for them, they are quite certain, is that they learn all the latest fashions in gender identity and marriage equality.

In his groundbreaking 1984 book, The Naked Public Square, Richard John Neuhaus argued that the public square can never be naked for long. In other words, it cannot be neutral about values: “If it is not clothed with the ‘meanings’ borne by religion, new ‘meanings’ will be imposed by virtue of the ambitions of the modern state.”

In short, the committed secularist won’t be satisfied with the removal of the crèche from the town square. He’ll insist that it be replaced with something that more accurately reflects American diversity—say, a monument to Margaret Sanger or a statue of James Obergefell. Of course, secular society’s reach extends well beyond the town green. The religion of secularism is constantly being advanced in a variety of venues—in courtrooms, school rooms, and in the newly remodeled bathrooms that accommodate the newly invented genders.

Fr. Neuhaus was right in predicting that “a perverse notion of the disestablishment of religion leads to the establishment of the state as Church.” The secular state quickly moves to enshrine whatever values it currently smiles upon. And it defends them as though they were divinely revealed dogma. But, despite his prescience, Neuhaus did fail to anticipate another development—namely, that the Judeo-Christian tradition might be displaced from the public square not only by the state, but also by another religion.

The possibility that Islam would one day be a contender for control of the public square probably didn’t enter his mind. That’s no surprise. Except for the blip caused by the Iranian Revolution, Islam wasn’t on anyone’s radar in the early eighties. Yet Islam is now well on its way to controlling the public square in parts of Europe. And, were it not for the election of Donald Trump and the defeat of the Muslim Brotherhood-friendly Clinton machine, the U.S. would now be playing catch-up.

As has often been observed, Islam is a political religion. Some, like Dutch MP Geert Wilders, contend that it is almost totally political with only a thin and deceptive veneer of religiosity. Whatever the exact proportion of politics to religion, it’s hard to deny that the political dimension looms large in Islam. Muhammad, after all, was a warlord. He conquered all of Arabia, and within a relatively short time after his death, his followers conquered an area larger than the Roman Empire. Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi, one of the most important twentieth-century Islamic theorists, wrote that “Islam requires the earth—not just a portion, but the whole planet.”

But, although Islamists think globally, they are patient enough to act locally. In European cities these days it’s not unusual to be forced to take a detour because the street ahead has been blocked by Muslims kneeling in prayer. Ostensibly, these gatherings are meant to demonstrate that there are not enough mosques, and that therefore the government must pay for more to be built. The ulterior agenda is to stake a territorial claim. It’s the Islamic version of “we’re here, we’re queer, and we’re in your face.” In this case, “We’re here, there are quite a number of us, and we’re ready for a confrontation. Give us what we want, or we can make your life unpleasant.”

Sometimes, the public square is literally a public square, or a street, or a park. Controlling the public square does not necessarily entail control of geographical territory, but it helps. And Muslims actually do control an increasing number of the public streets on the continent. When Muslims migrate to Europe, they tend to congregate in ghettos, some of which have earned the label “no-go-zones” because they are largely off-limits to non-Muslims. As Europeans are now discovering, such concentrated population pockets provide quite a bit of political leverage.

Some observers say that these Muslim enclaves are part of a deliberate strategy to Islamize Europe. They act to deter assimilation, and they allow Muslim leaders to gain a high degree of control over the Muslim population. In addition, the “zones” facilitate the formation of voting blocs and make it easier for Muslim activists to apply pressure to local and national governments.

Like secularists in the U.S., Muslims in Europe and the UK are accustomed to making demands, and equally accustomed to having their demands met. Whether the demand is for halal menus, prayer rooms in schools, special washing facilities, or exemption from Holocaust studies, European Muslims usually get what they want.

Islamists and secularists share a desire to monopolize the public square. Both also see Christians as a particular enemy of their expansionist ambitions. Consequently, both seek to minimize the influence of Christianity in the public square. Although Muslims in the West lack the numbers to directly limit the influence of Christians, they can do so indirectly by letting it be known that they are mightily offended by various Christian beliefs and practices. They can then rely on state and local authorities and lukewarm Christians to do the rest.

Thus, many of the traditional Christmas markets in Europe have been given new, non-offensive titles. Amsterdam’s Christmas Market is now “Winter Parade,” Brussels’ is now “Winter Pleasures,” and so on—“Wintermarkt,” “Winterville,” “Winter Festival”: anything but “Christmas Market.”

Secularists are already inclined to de-Christianize Christmas, and the fact that many Muslims are offended by Christmas gives them an excuse to speed up the process. In Luneburg, Germany a school Christmas party was postponed because a Muslim student complained about the singing of Christmas carols. In London, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims issued a report aimed at drawing attention to the humanity of Muslims during Christmas. The report was titled “A Very Merry Muslim Christmas.” In Langon, France, teachers pulled 83 students out of a showing of The Star, an animated movie about the birth of Jesus, once it dawned on them that the subject was “too Christian.”

In Muslim-majority countries, restrictions on Christians are much more severe. Christians who try to take their religion with them into the public square risk jail or even execution at the hands of vigilante mobs. This attitude goes back to the beginnings of Islam—to the “Conditions of Omar” which were established by the second Caliph shortly after the death of Muhammad. The “Conditions” were a list of “dos” and “don’ts” that governed the lives of conquered Christians. Among other things Christians:

  • were not allowed to build or repair churches
  • were not to clang cymbals except lightly, and were not to sing loudly.
  • were not to display crosses on churches or raise their voices in prayer.
  • were not to make their religion appealing, nor try to convert anyone to it.

These rules, which are now being re-established in many Muslim countries, display an attitude toward Christianity that is quite similar to that of today’s secularists: keep it quiet, keep it to yourself, and keep it out of the public square. For the time being, Muslims and secularists are working in tandem to exclude Christians from the public squares. If and when that goal is accomplished, Muslims in the West will almost certainly move to push secularists to the sidelines. Once they have served their purpose, the services of committed secularists will no longer be needed.

But for the time being, Christians still have time to recognize the double threat and reassert their own values and beliefs. Thanks to Richard Neuhaus, many Christians do understand the importance of the public square. They realize that they can’t afford to confine their faith to church and home because if they do, they will eventually be safe neither at church nor at home. There are very practical reasons for Christians not to hide their light under a bushel.

Thanks to Christian thinkers such as Neuhaus, many Christians are well aware that secular society will grab every inch of the public square if they are allowed to do so. It’s high time that Christians also understand that Islam will do the same if given half a chance. Indeed, the subjugation of the public square to Allah is the raison d’être of Islam.