Science is a differential equation - Religion is a boundary condition - Alan Turning


Losing faith in Science



As the bicentenary of Charles Darwin's birth approaches (in 2009) it looks as if his theory of evolution, developed among the fauna and flora of the Galapagos may have to take a back seat to older approaches to the reason Man exists. Creationism, the belief that humans were created pretty much as is by God, appears to be taking hold.
The surge has been at its most profound in the US. A CBS News poll last October found that 51 per cent of Americans reject the theory of evolution. This is having repercussions: last year, an exhibition celebrating the life of Darwin at the American Museum of Natural History in New York failed to find a corporate sponsor for its $l.7million operating costs because companies were anxious not to take sides in the debate. Meanwhile, the Creationist Museum, in Cincinnati, Ohio, attracted $3million in donations. But the trend is not confined to the world's most powerful nation. According to a study in July by opinion panel Research, nearly one in three students in Britain shuns scientific evidence of the origins of man: while 56 per cent believes in evolution theory.

Rising fervour
Adjiedj Bakas, trendwatcher and author of Megatrends Europe, says: '[Creationism] is on the rise because religious fervour in general is on the rise. In the Netherlands 20 years ago, the majority of the Dutch population called themselves atheists or agnostics. Now, 90 per cent believe again. The minister of education wants to reintroduce creationism in Dutch schools.' Bakas links the movement to a growing fear of extremism in other religions: '[There is a belief that] you cannot beat Islam with atheism so you become religious again. Christianity is coming back but in a more orthodox way. Teenagers love the Pope, they say: "He's strict, we understand him, that's what we want.'

Modern alternative
For those unable to swallow the strictures of creationist belief, there is intelligent design, its 21st- century cousin, which also ascribes life to some higher, but this time unspecified, intelligence. Last month, philosophers, scientists and intellectuals gathered at the Vatican to discuss with the Pope the benefits - or otherwise - of allowing the Church to become more closely linked with intelligent design. 'Not everyone wants to see life as something logical,' says Dr John Hall, Professor of Psychology at Oxford University. [Intelligent design] acknowledges there is emotion in the world that can't be explained by science. So, in many ways, it is a compromise between old beliefs and new - a 21st century view.' In June, however, the national science academies of 67 countries, including Britain's Royal Society, issued a joint statement asking schools worldwide to stop denying the facts of evolution. 'We urge decision-makers, teachers and parents to educate all children about the methods and discoveries of science and foster an understanding of the science of nature. Knowledge of the natural world empowers people to meet human needs and protect the planet.' The site of the debate is most patently the education system. Although creationism is not taught as a subject in itself, different schools approach science in different ways. At the University of Leeds, for example, creationism has become a mandatory part of its zoology and genetics degrees - albeit to show a contrast to Darwin's theories. Not all academics agree with this approach: 'It's not at all good for the progression of education,' says Adrian Lister, professor of biology at University College London. 'Creationism is based on faith, whereas science is based on objective proof. What's more, it's unnecessary. Science and religion are not mutually exclusive.' David Ward, spokesperson for the Royal Society, agrees: 'It will create all kinds of problems in the way students think if you present The Bible as fact. Education is based on looking for evidence. The Bible says the world is 6,000 years old, where years of gathering respected evidence shows Earth is 4.5billion years old.' [Metro 26Sep2006].

The Galapagos Conservation Trust and BRO Natural History Unit present Galapagos Day at The Royal Geographical Society tomorrow from 6pm onwards. For more information visit The first pan of Galapagos, a new three-part deoumentary for BBC Natural History and the National Geographic Channel will he hroadcast on Friday on BBC2 at 9pm.


Proof God does not exist in less than 3 minutes

Dogma isn't a substitute for cold, hard fact

It comes as little surprise to me that people are so willing to accept such rubbish as Creationism or 'intelligent design' as fact (Metro, Tue). The increased exposure to religion in the media and the demise of critical thinking allows people to feel justified in their beliefs that some higher power rules their lives, and be less inclined to look at the 'difficult science' reality of the universe. Creationism and ID are religious subjects and, if taught, should be taught in religious studies lessons. It is simply incorrect to suggest they are competing scientific theories. There is no science in them, only religious dogma.
To say anything else risks confusing a generation of students and sending our planet further into the arms of the delusional and religious, not to mention undermining the efforts of thousands of hard-working scientists.
Edward Bozzard, London, E1

The Bible: Fact or fiction? As a scientist who sees a divine design and order to the universe, especially the Earth, I was delighted to read the article highlighting what our existence is all about. However, what saddens me are ill- informed comments by people such as David Ward, who states that 'the Bible says the world is 6,000 years old'. That is inaccurate - he ought to read it. The Bible says that 'in the beginning God created..', there is no timescale as to when. Why is it that so many honest scientists run away from the evidence of intelligent design out of fear?
Neil Sutcliffe,Lancashire

My Letter:
In response to "scientist" Neil Sutcliffe (Metro,Wed) who sees "divine design and order in the universe" - it is people such as he that are annoying people like myself and Edward Bozzard - by confusing people - The bible date of 6-10,000 years has been computed by Bishop Usher as was stated in the Hillsboro "Monkey Trials" and is obviously innacurate - scientists do not run from Intelligent Design out of fear,but because it is provably erroneous - evidence is the only thing which informs science and there is no evidence of any design or purpose in this universe - for Neil's information - anything which shows design or order can be explained by modern scientific theories such as Chaos Theory and Complexity theory which show how Order arises from Chaos spontaneously without the need for divine intervention - if he does not know this then he cannot claim to be a scientist.

I was interested to read the piece on the origin of the species.However, as I read in the subsequent pages about the latest ways the human race has found to blow itself to smithereens, I was forced to conclude there must be an alternative origin to those discussed as there is precious little evidence for any form of creativity or intelligence.
Roland Finch, Newcastle


Your article about Scientology refers to it as a cult because of 'abuse of members and harsh punishment for dissenters' and also brainwashing [Metro Thu].How is this different from any other mainstream religion? They all encourage beliefs in unproven doctrines and discourage members from challenging these,often with serious repercussions for dissenters. Either all religions are cults or all cults are religions,there really is no difference.
Vincenzo Benghiat,London SW17


This tension is driving me out of the country

Fitting in? An East London mosque Thank you Chris Furphy (Metro, Fri). Finally someone has said it! I too feel a total lack of respect and manners from a certain section of society in this country. For the record, I live in Leyton and I am not a Muslim. Each day I feel the hostility bubbling on the streets and I feel increasingly uncomfortable I am not a racist - I have many friends of different races and religions - some family even, but within this community there seems to be a sense - of separation. People walk around with rather large chips on their shoulders and think that they are owed something more. There is an obvious bitterness and resentment towards this country that provides for them and I think it is time that they stop demanding, taking and complaining and be thankful for what they have like everyone else - only then will we all be able to live in harrnony without fear of a religious attack either way. But from what I can see this is a long way off and I fear for the future here. Fortunately for me it is only a matter of weeks before I leave this once beloved country and I hope not to come back because I do not want my children brought up in this toxic environment. Sadly, I am not the only one. Sarah Fowkes, London E10

I despise all extremism, including the arrogant rubbish spouted out by C Furphy. I'm not particularly religious either but Mr Furphy uses this phrase as a caveat to write some gibberish about minorities showing courtesy to their hosts'. I could easily talk about how some minorities are proportionally some of the most highly educated and law-abiding citizens and of British imperialists sucking colonies dry during the days of the Empire, but I choose to be positive. Let's look through barriers and not impose our views on other people through harsh words or extremist violence.
P Shah, Birmingham

Many Muslims unwilling to inform

Almost one in ten British Muslims would not tell the police if they suspected someone of their faith was involved in a terror atack,a new poll shows.The figure was even higher among young Muslim ,with 15 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds saying they would keep quiet. One in 20 Muslims thought the July 7 bombings on London were justified,the study revealed. Also, 86 per cent said the prime Minister should shoulder some of the blame for the continued terror attacks in Britain. However,86 per cent of th 502 people questioned by pollsters ICM for a Sunday newspaper would call the police if they believed a Muslim was planning a terror attack.

Muslims need not grovel nor show respect

Muslims come from many races In response to Sarah Fowkes's comments about Muslims showing a lack of respect for Britain (Metro. Mon), for a start most Muslims and their parents were born here and raised as British citizens. So the idea that they should show grovelling respect to their hosts is not relevant. Focusing on the so-called 'Muslim community' is a red herring; there is no single Muslim community. In terms of descent there are distinct Indian, Pakistani. Bangladeshi, Caribbean, Nigerian, Arab, Albanian, Turkish and other communities, each with their own set of socio-economic conditions. Muslims are not an ethnicity or a race; it is a religion. There a few hundred thousand white Muslims in Biritain too. Furthermore,Barry Leonard claims that Moslem parents would sympathise with children becoming tenorists. This implies that there is widespread support, among Muslim parents,for young people killing civilians. This has absolutely no basis in  fact.
Kaashif Nawaz London EC2

Many Muslims have been born in Britain. They have been raised here the same as Catholics, Protestants, atheists, vegetarians and any other denoimination or lifestyle. And if white people are free to choose their own lifestyle,to love the government or hate it,to speak English,Welsh or Gaelic, then surely non-whites have the same rights?
Hakim Miah,London E1


Ads demean women,not Muslim veils

Racy ads:Worse than veils?Sue Hudson says that wearing a veil demeans women (Metro, Mon). Has she ever asked a Muslim woman how she feels to wear it? I can tell you that most women who wear the veil wear it out of choice .The headscarf is required for women and those who wear it, as well as the veil, feel more comfortable when they do. If a Muslim woman wearing the veil is demeaned, how about the naked women on billboards used to sell cars? How about the fashion industry pumping out clothes to reveal women's busts? All these things bring out men's desires and increase the likelihood of women being abused. Why do you need to see a woman or man's face when you speak to them? Many Muslim men would feel uncomfortable talking to women in this country who reveal their cleavage or other parts of the body. Muslim women cover for protection, to stop being gazed at, which is very important in a society where sexual assaults are becoming more and more common. Should we ensure all women cover up modestly?
Sammy Rashid, London E13

In response to Hemzah Ahmed (Metro, Mon), integration means much more than simply working hard and owning businesses and other possessions. I am English and Greek, I work extremely hard and have pride in my job, I socialise anid study to learn and understand. I accept my neighbour and am open about my beliefs and customs, wherever they come from and whatever they are. This is what integration is about.
Leftheris Ridgeway, London W1

If hoodies we being banned from some public places, what's the implication for those in niqab veils?
Paul Williamson, Leeds

Dear Ed,

Sammy Rashid displays exactly the kind of oppression which Muslim men use upon their women - they think they are supposed to cover up or get raped. In our country, women are entitled not to be raped no matter what they wear.Whilst some judges think women "ask for it" by being provacative - it is a woman's right to wear what she pleases,though one hopes they use common sense. If we hark back to the "thong debate" which the metro ran - we might say that displaying such things or cleavage means such women "deserve what they get" - I am afraid Sammy Rashid is a victim of her belief system,women should not be at the behest of men's desires,and it is exactly her repressive values that I do not want in this country - we live by freedom - but covering one's face is not using common sense when male terrorists can disguise themselves using religion as a cover. She is obviously not wearing a veil from choice but because she is worried she will enflame men's desires. They should look after their own desires and not expect women to do it for them. That is how it demeans women. Racy ads are women being free to do what they wish without fear of being raped. That is what our values stand for.

Terror man used 'burka as disguise'


'We must not get hysterical'

Veiled threat? : The burka covers the face A TERROR suspect allegedly used a burka to disguise himself as a Muslim woman to avoid capture, it emerged yesterday.
The man evaded arrest for several days despite a nationwide manhunt in which his description was circulated to ports and airports.
The suspect, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was eventually caught and is now in custody awaiting trial. The news comes just days after House of Commons leader Jack Straw claimed Muslim women wearing veils harmed community relations.
Security agencies have been worried about male Islamic militants wearing female clothing which, in the case of the niqab veil, shows only the eyes. However, this is the first time a male suspect has allegedly disguised himself as a Muslim woman in Britain.
Shahid Malik, Labour MP for Dewsbury, said he hoped the reports would not add to the tension caused by Mr Straw's remarks. He added: 'If true, it is the first case of its kind in Britain. We must not get hysterical about it. 'The important thing is the police feel comfortable about stopping anyone who they have suspicions about, whatever they are wearing.' Yesterday, tabloid newspaper columnist Anila Baig claimed she she passed through Leeds-Bradford airport in a veil without being asked to lift it. This is despite Home Office rules stating eyes, nose and mouth must be visible in passports and travellers will be asked to lift veils.

Women in veils 'are held back'


Message: A new anti-terror advert is being shown on Middle Eastern TV. The  60-second ad uses Matrix-style special effects to show a suicide bombing

MUSLIM veils are an obstacle to female participation in society, Constitutional Affairs minister Harriet Harman has claimed. Wearing the veil could get in the way of a woman standing for Parliament, she told New Statesman magazine. Ms Harman, who is standing for Labour's deputy leadership, added: 'If you want equality, you have to be in society, not hidden away from it. 'How can you stand as an MP when nien's faces are on posters, and voters can't  see yours?' Britain's race watchdog yesterday said it was 'perfectly reasonable' for Jack Straw to ask Muslim women to remove their veils Trevor Phillips. head of the Com mission for Racial Equality, told MPs the Commons Leader was 'unequivo cally' right to raise the issue. Speaking to the Commons Education Select Committee, he added: 'I think it is perfectly reasonable for him to say he feels uncomfortable about it. 'It is right for him to say 'would you mind not making me feel uncomfortable" as long as it is clearly understood the answer to that can be 'no'. Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly said Muslim groups would get financial aid if they prove they are trying to outlaw extremism in their ranks. But some Muslim groups condemned the move, saying the Government was trying to create it's own 'state-sponsored Islam'.

Veils do not protect from rape

I really do wish fellow Muslims such as Wafa Islam (Metro, Wed) would not say: 'We wear veils to prevent ourselves from being ogled by perverted men,' or statements along those lines. I have yet to see a skimpily clad woman in Darfur and yet women there fall victim to rape, maiming and even murder while doing the most mundane tasks, such as collecting firewood to cook for their families (even during the holy month of Ramadan). And who are their attackers? Their fellow Muslims. It is not the veil that protects but a society that allows everyone to live freely regardless of race, creed, colour or religion. And I do believe this is the society we have in Britain. If you are going to argue to wear your veil, it should be because it is our basic human right to do so.
ZB,London NW6 

Are women such as Wafa Islam who wear veils to protect themselves from 'being ogled' and from sexual assault aware that there is such a thing as veil fetishism?
Jason Dilplock, Sheffield
[Metro Oct12.2006]

Shaping into a row: Apple's Fifth Avenue store in New York and (inset) a replica of the Kaaba

RADICAL Muslims have accused computer giant Apple of mocking Islam - with the design of its new shop. The giant cube entrance to an Apple store was branded 'a blatant insult' for its supposed likeness to the Kaaba structure inside Islam's most sacred mosque in Mecca. A message on an extremist website expressed hope 'that Muslims will he able to stop the project'. The store on New York's Fifth Avenue opened five months ago. Website pictures comparing the black-covered Apple cube with the black-enshrouded Kaaba were said to have been taken while it was still being built. Apple insisted: 'The entrance is not an attempt to resemble the Kaaba.'

Have the Muslims a monopoly on cubes? Perhaps OXO should watch out - when are we going to stop catering for these people and their daft religious ideas? Just because someone makes something similar to something else,does not mean it mocks it,or that it is offensive - and even if it is - so what? That's what free expression is all about - something muslims don't seem to understand.-LB

Do not be glib about 655,000 deaths in Iraq

Iraq death toll:Relatives mournDave Degen's comparison of the 655,000 Iraq dead with the Holocaust (Metro, Fri) is wrong. The 500 killed a day in Iraq does not rival the rate of killings of the Jews under Nazi Germany during World War II in two ways. First, roughly six times as many Jews were killed per day in Germany and, second, the killings were carried out indiscriminately by the Nazis, which is not the case with the Allied troops, apart from the actions of a handful. It disgusts me that the initial response of most people to the publication of this statistic is glee that the US is being 'exposed' as a Holocaust perpetrator, rather than sadness at the state of Iraq. It makes me question the true agenda of those liberal anti-Americans who preach peace and point gladly to the number of dead in Iraq and Afghanistan. These people may also do well to ask themselves whether it's thc Americans or Iraqis who blow themselves up when surrounded by defenceless women and children.
Adam Hirschovits, London N3

The report into the Iraq slaughter may seem politically 'convenient' to Iraq death toll: Relatives mourn Andy Murphy (Metro, Fri) but so is his dismissal of it. Which part of the report does he not believe - that there were 547 deaths in the 1,849 families interviewed? Or that this translates to a death toll of between 400,000 and 900,000? The same methodology was used to estimate the number of deaths as a result of the South-East Asia tsunami and Darfur crisis. Does be dispute the scale of these disasters, too?
Mark McLaren, London EC1

I trust America

The comment made by D Marsdon (Metro, Thu) that only America used a nuclear weapon on an enemy is true but also implied that the US is itself an 'axis of evil'. However, the US did what it had to in the face of adversity. It chose to use the nuclear bomb to avoid a sea and air assault on the shores of Japan, which would have stopped at nothing to destroy and enslave the whole of Asia, and thereby cut World War II short by a number of years. This was a battle of good versus evil. The world needed and needs the US, whether people are prepared to admit it or not.
T Hewish,Cardiff

Veil row spills over as minister urges sacking

'You cannot teach wearing a veil'


THE veils row threatened to spill over yesterday when a minister called for a Muslim teaching assistant to be sacked for refusing to remove hers at school. Race Minister Phil Woolas said 24-year-old Aishah Azmi should be fired for 'putting herself in a position where she can't do her job'.
MsAzmi has been suspended from Readfield Church of England Junior School in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, after refusing to remove her niqab in front of male colleagues. Mr Woolas added. 'She cannot teach children wearing a veil .You cannot have a teacher who wears a veil simply because there are men around.' But the Muslim Council of Britain said Mr Woolas should not interfere. 'It is wrong for a minister to wade into a sensitive case to score political points,' a spokesman added.
Labour's Lord Ahmed, the first Muslim peer, said it was unprecedented for a minister to call for the sacking of a classroom assistant. Mr Woolas should concentrate on discrimination in Muslim communities rather than attacking them, he added.
Commons leader Jack Straw sparked the debate on veils earlier this month by suggesting that wearing them separated communities His comments were supported by Shadow Home Secretary David Davis, who said Muslim leaders risked a 'voluntary apartheid' in Britain. Meanwhile, a Christian has been banned from wearing a cross around her neck at work. Nadia Eweida, 55, who works for British Airways at Heathrow, claims she was forced to take unpaid leave after refusing to remove the cross, which is about the size of a 5p coin. She now plans to sue the airline.

1999 Hamza file rejected by cps


POLICE tried to charge race-hate cleric Abu Hamza as far back as 1999 but their evidence was rejected as insufficient, it emerged yesterday. Scotland Yard submitted a file to the Crown Prosecution Service in March 1999 and a second in June 2003. On both occasions, prosecutors said there was not enough proof to convict him. It was also claimed yesterday that three of the four London sucide bombers heard Hamza's inflammatory speeches at Finsbury Park mosque in North London. That prompted some critics to claim the attacks on July 7 last year could have been avoided had Hamza been prosecuted earlier. Tory security spokesman Patrick Mercer said: 'If these young men were inspired by Abu Hamza, surely this suggests this man should have been put away several years before.' The first two files related to claims that Hamza was linked to the kid-apping of 16 tourists in the Yemen in 1998, in which three Britons died. It was not until a third file was submitted in 2004- about his speeches and material found at his house - that the CPS decided to prosecute. The 47-year-old was subsequently tried at the Old Bailey and jailed for seven years for inciting racial hatred and terror offences on Tuesday. Scotland Yard yesterday said it had 'no evidence' to suggest any of the July 7 London bombers had been preached to by the cleric. And in a joint statement with the CPS, the Yard said the earlier two files had been 'thoroughly reviewed'.
[Metro Thursday, February 9, 2006]

Cleric likens women to meat

Sheik Taj Aldin al Hilali's comments have provoked outrage in Australia

A senior Australian Muslim cleric has triggered national outrage for likening women who dress 'immodestly' to meat that is left out for animals to eat.

Sheik Taj Aldin al Hilali's spokesman said the cleric's comments in a sermon last month to mark the Islamic holy month of Ramadan had been taken out of context in a report in The Australian newspaper.

But the spokesman, Keysar Trad, did not challenge the accuracy of the paper's translation.

"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden, or in the park, or in the backyard without cover, and the cats come to eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats' or the uncovered meat's?''

The Australian quoted al Hilali as saying. "The uncovered meat is the problem.''

"If she [a woman] was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred,'' he said, referring to the headdress worn by some Muslim women.

Australia's Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward said al Hilali, a high-profile cleric who has advised the government on Muslim issues, should now be rejected by the country's Islamic community.
[AOL news]

Church schools quotas dropped


LAWS forcing faith schools to accept pupils from non-religious backgrounds were abruptly scrapped last night. Education Secretary Alan Johnson said Catholic and C of E schools had voluntarily agreed to take a quarter of students from non-Christian homes. But his department refused to say if a similar deal had been struck with Muslim or Jewish schools. The move came just a week after Mr Johnson threatened to enforce the 25 per cent quotas to prevent faith schools being 'divisive'. Critics claimed members of different religions would be unlikely to go to 'rival' faith schools and the Government faced a damaging backbench rebellion. Last night Mr Johnson accepted the opposition was too great and backed down. He said: 'I don't feel the legislative route is necessary or appropriate. 'Consensus was reached with all faith groups to place a new duty on all school governing bodies to promote community cohesion and to ensure that Ofsted inspect all schools on this element of what they do.' There are around 600 secondary and 6,400 primary schools in England designated as faith schools - including 4,744 Church of England, 2,000 Catholic, 36 Jewish, seven Muslim and two Sikh. The U-turn was welcomed by UK Muslim Parliament leader Dr Ghaya- suddin Siddiqui. He said: 'The best way to move forward is not to force changes on schools, but just encourage them to co-operate more often.' Canon John Hall, the C of E chief education officer, said: 'The Government promised all along to listen to the views of faith groups and this is a result of their having done so.

'Racist GP drove her 4x4 at mother-to-be'


'Road rage': Arnaot          A RACIST GP rammed her 4x4 car into a mother-to-be and wedged her against a post, a court was told yesterday. Dr May Arnaot, 50, left six months pregnant Sarah Chambers in 'unbearable pain' on a petrol station forecourt, jurors heard. She allegedly yelled at the terrified nursery nurse: 'You're Tony Blair's bitch, all you white people are the same - you all vote for Tony Blair.' Ms Chambers was a passenger in her fiance's Ford Fiesta when Arnaot, from the Middle East, drove at them in her Nissan X-Trail, causing them to swerve. The two cars pulled over at a nearby petrol station where the nurse went over to Arnaot to ask for her insurance details. But the 25-year-old was instead met with the racially-fuelled tirade, jurors were told.
MUSLIMS were not libelled by a Danish newspaper which infamously printed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, a court ruled yesterday. Religious groups sued the Jyllands-Posten paper over the cartoons, which caused outrage worldwide. But Aarhus City Court decided they were not defamatory.

'[Arnaot] was really angry and the only way I can describe her outburst is violent and abusive,' said Ms Chambers, whose statement had to be read because she was too ill to attend court. 'As I went to turn back I suddenly felt this almighty pain in my back. The four-wheel drive had moved forward into me and squashed my stomach into the post. 'I was trying to scream, but I couldn't and I had pins and needles. 'The pain was so unbearable. I was so frightened I wet myself.' Fortunately, a paramedic was at the scene and Ms Chambers has since given birth to a healthy baby. Arnaot, of Erith, Kent, denies six charges including dangerous driving, damaging property and assault in August last year. The trial at London's Blackfriars Crown Court continues.

Malaysia terminates 'un-Islamic' vampire exhibition

By Ruth Elkins

Unveiled women 'are inviting rape'


A Malaysian state has closed down an exhibition on ghosts, ghouls and supernatural beings alter Islamic clerics declared it detrimental to Muslims' faith. The exhibition at the state museum capitalises on widespread fascination in Malaysia with other-worldly creatures from local mythology. Artefacts on display reportedly included alleged carcasses of vampires and a phoenix. Abdul Shukor Husin, chairman of the fatwa council which advises the government on Islamic regulations, was quoted as saying: "We don't want to promote a belief in tahyal [supernatural] and khurafat [superstition] which we do not know about. We do not need to focus on such things or play them up by having such exhibitions." Some 60 per cent of the 26 million population are Muslims. Last year, a three-month exhibition on "Mysteries, Genies, Ghosts and Coffins" drew tens of thousands of visitors to view among other objects, a preserved mermaid, the shrivelled skeletal remains of a half woman, half-snake, and a goblin in a bottle. Critics were divided between those who accused it of being un-Islamic and others who suggested the items could be fakes.

A LEADING Muslim preacher has caused outrage by saying some women attract rape by the way they dress. Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali told followers that women who did not wear a head-dress, or hijab, were like uncovered meat'. His comments, reportedly made at a meeting in Sydney, were condemned as 'appalling and reprehensible'. 'The idea that women are to blame for rapes is preposterous,' said Australian prime minister John Howard. Sheikh Hilali is the senior cleric at Sydney's largest mosque and once served as an adviser to the Australian government on Muslim issues. He was quoted as saying: 'If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside without cover, and the cats come to eat it, whose fault is it, the cats' or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem.' Australia's sex discrimination commissioner, Pru Goward, said the comments were an incitement to rape and called for Sheikh Hilali to be sacked. 'Young Muslim men who now rape women can cite this in court, can quote their leader in court,' she said. Waleed Ali, a spokesman for the Islamic Council of Victoria, added: 'Anyone foolish enough to believe there is a relationship between rape and the failure to wear a hijab clearly has no understanding of the nature of sexual crime.' The controversy comes at a time of heightened tensions between white and Arab communities in Sydney. Sheikh Hilali also triggered a row in 2004 when he said the September 11 attacks were 'God's work against the oppressors'. Last night, he denied he condoned rape when he made the comments last month. He also apologised, saying Muslim women were free to dress as they wished.

Remain calm, says Islamic scholar

MUSLIMS must not react 'emotionally' to politicians making controversial statements about wearing the veil, a leading Islamic scholar said yesterday. 'Some politicians are using this issue because they have an agenda to push,' said Prof Tariq Ramadan. He was responding to Commons leader Jack Straw's controversial call for women to ditch the veil, saying it was a 'visible statement of separation'. Prof Ramadan, a visiting professor at Oxford University, told an inter-faith summit in Tower Hamlets, East London, that instead of hitting back at politicians, Muslims should 'say thank you for the question and discuss it within our communities'. He added: 'This may be the way to a critical and intellectual approach, with wisdom that is profound, about the questions Muslims are facing.'

Poor white people 'at most disadvantage'

POOR white people are 'at the bottom of the social heap' and are rapidly being overtaken by those from ethnic minorities, a study revealed yesterday. Working-class whites do less well at school than people from other backgrounds and go on to lower- skilled jobs, an investigation by The Economist magazine found. 'The nation's most troubled group is poor, white and British-born,' it reported yesterday. The investigation focused on Dagenham and Leicester, where fewer than a third of white children attained five A to C grades in their GCSE exams last summer. Many of the white pupils ended up unemployed and those who did manage to find work got jobs in manufacturing - an industry in long-term decline. By contrast, the children of immigrants found jobs in expanding sectors, such as the public sector. They were also well-represented in health and social work, finance and the hotel and restaurant trade.
[Metro Oct27,2006]

Veil teacher loses bias claim but wins £1,000

Angry: Mrs Azmi addresses a press conference yesterdayBY MIKE TAIT

'I fear consequences for Muslim women'

A MUSLIM teaching assistant who refused to remove her veil during lessons yesterday lost her claims for discrimination and harassment. Afterwards, Aishah Azmi, 24, criticised Tony Blair for intervening in the row as part of the debate about the ways Muslims integrate into British society. Mrs Azmi said she was 'fearful of the consequences for Muslim women in this country who want. to work' - An employment tribunal dismissed three of her claims of discrimination and harassment but found she was victimised by Headfield Church of England Junior School in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, and awarded her £1,000 for injury to feelings'. Kirklees Council suspended her after she refused to remove her veil while teaching. The school said face-to-face Communication was essential for Ms Azmi's job as a bilingual support worker. She said last night: 'Muslim women who wear the veil are not aliens, and politicians need to recognise that what they say can have a dangerous impact on the lives of minorities they treat as outcasts. Integration requires people like me - to be in the workplace so that people can see that we are not to be feared or mistrusted. 'Sadly the intervention of ministers in my case - against the ministerial code - makes me fearful of the consequences for Muslim women in this country who want to work. 'I will continue to uphold my religious beliefs and urge Muslims to engage in dialogue with the wider community, despite the attacks that are being made upon them.' Mrs Azmi, of Thornhill Lees, Dewsbury, remains suspended on full pay from the school. She said she was willing to remove her veil in front of children - but not when male colleagues were present. The Prime Minister said the veil row was part of a debate about the way the Muslim community integrates into British society. He added that the veil was a 'mark of separation' which makes people of other ethnic backgrounds uncomfortable. The tribunal said it was 'most unfortunate' that politicians made comments on the case while it was sub judice.
[Metro Oct20,2006]

Muslims 'believe they are victims'

View: The Bishop of RochesterTHE Church of England's only Asian bishop has criticised some British Muslims for having a 'victim' mentality. The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, said some Muslims wanted both 'victimhood and domination'. He added: 'Their complaint often boils down to the position that it is always right to intervene when Muslims are victims, as in Bosnia or Kosovo, and always wrong when the Muslims are the oppressors or terrorists, as with the Taliban or in Iraq.'
He said failure to counter these beliefs had allowed radical Islam to flourish in Britain and stricter checks were needed to keep out extremist clerics. The 57-year-old, who was born a Catholic in Pakistan but converted to Protestantism at the age of 20, said he believed the Christian faith was intermingled with British values. Bishop Michael, who moved to Britain in the 1980s also joined in the row about Muslim women wearing full face veils saying they were unsuitable in some circumstances. 'Those at the cash tills in the supermarket need to be recognised. Teaching is another context in which society requires recognition and identification,' he said. However, Muhammad Abdul Bari,of the Muslim Council of Britain, said his words would not help community relationships. Mr Nazir-Ali became the youngest bishop in the world at the age of 35. [Metro Nov6,2006]

Justice for race victim

Kriss Donald's sister,Samanth,and mother Angela show their relief at the outcome of the six-week trial


THREE Asian men who burned a school-boy alive just because he was white were jailed for life yesterday. The group killed Kriss Donald, 15, because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, stabbing him 13 times before setting him on fire. As he was attacked, the defenceless teenager pleaded: 'I'm only 15, what did I do?' Yesterday, his family spoke of their relief after gang ringleader Imran Shahid, 29, his brother Zeeshan Shahid, 28, and 27-year-old Mohammed Faisal Mushtaq were locked up for a total of 70 years for the murder. Kriss was abducted in a random act of racially motivated revenge while walking with a friend near his Glasgow home in March 2004. He was taken on a terrifying 320km (200-mile) journey in a stolen Life for a life? victim Kriss DonaldMercedes across Scotland. His body was found semi-naked at a secluded spot on the banks of the River Clyde the next moming. Yesterday, the three men, who fled to Pakistan after the killing, were convicted at the end of a six-week trial. Sentencing them, Judge Lord Uist called it a 'savage and barbaric' crime which 'shocked and appalled the public'. He added: 'None of you has shown any remorse for what you have done. 'The agony which he must have suffered during the period between being stabbed and set alight and his death is just beyond imagination.' Outside court Kriss's mother, Angela. praised those who helped the inquiry 'into the hellish murder', adding: 'Justice has been done.

Asian gang which murdered schoolboy was thirsty for revenge

Killed for being white

Guilty: Mohammad Mushtaq Guilty: lmran's brother Zeeshan          THE ringleader of an Asian gang which stabbed and burned alive 15-year-old Kriss Donald was 'thirsty for revenge on white boys', a court heard. Imran Shahid, 29, was angry at being attacked with a beer bottle outside a club by white youths. He threatened to 'chop them up and take their eyes out'. Later that day, Shahid and four accomplices, including his brother Zeeshan, 28, and their friend Moharrimed Faisal Mushtaq, 27, packed tools in a bag and stole a car to search the streets of Pollokshields for the culprits. Walking with a friend and they happened to find Kriss pounced, launching a savage beating on them both. As they threatened Kriss with a knife and 'a shooter', he pleaded: 'I'm only 15. 'What did I do?' Kriss's friend Jamie Wallace, 22, fought to save him as the gang surrounded them. Kriss clamped his hands on the car door frame to avoid being bundled in. Shahid's gang then took Kriss on ajourney to Dundee and back as they phoned friends looking for a house to take him to. Having no success, they returned to Glasgow and took him to a riverside walkway near Celtic FC's training ground. There, they held his arms and stabbed him 13 times before dousing him with petrol and setting him alight, probably while he was still alive. He was found semi-naked the next morning, having suffered what prosecutors said was 'a lonely, frightened death'. Shahid set the Mercedes alight in the city's Hillhead area - but DNA tests linked both him and Kriss to the vehicle. The killers fled to Pakistan but wete extradited back to Britain more than a year later. Trial judge Lord Uist said: It was pre-meditated cold-blooded execution. It truly was an abomination.' Accomplice Damish Zahid, 22, was jailed for at least 17 years at an earlier trial.

City in fear of the Shielders

Ringleader: Imran Sahid was feared as a brutal,callous thugIMRAN SHAHID, a powerfully set bodybuilder nicknamed Baldy, was at the heart of the trouble which led to Kriss Donald's murder. He took control of a feared Asian gang called the Shielders in Glasgow in the 1990s. The son of a Pakistani businessman, he was born in Huddersfield but raised with his four brothers and three sisters in Pollokshields, on the city's south side. Imran and brother Zeeshan, known as Crazy, shunned traditional Pakistani morality and hard work to terrorise the neighbourhood. In 1994, when just 17, Imran made his name as a 'tough guy' by battering a 25-year-old with a baseball bat and leaving him in a coma with brain damage. He is said to have tried to escape justice by fleeing to Pakistan, as he did later after Kriss's murder. when he eventually returned to Scotland, he admitted assault and was jailed for four-and-a-half years. Such was his fearsome reputation, Shahid was rumoured to have chopped off the fmger of his sister's boyfriend. Shortly before kifling Kriss, he served time for felling a 42-year-old woman motorist with a single punch and trying to run her over after a minor collision in Glasgow's East End.[Metro Nov9,2006]

  • It is quite wrong for correspondents to argue against the death penalty by saying we can never be certain of the suspect's guilt (Metro, Fri). It is a sad fact that we have far too many murderers in prison today, of whose guilt there is not the slightest doubt. The chair of the Police Federation recently said 'Life should mean life' and I couldn't disagree more with her.
    Committing a person to prison for life should not be applauded; it should be viewed as a failure. Any person who is so dangerous that they can never be released should not be in prison. They should be dead.
    Chris Hudson-Gool, London SW1

    Whilst I sympathise with Chris - if we are the ones who would pull the trigger or electrify the chair we are as guilty of murder as those who commit the crime -Set the example,don't fall into the same gutter.
  • Three violent thugs will swagger around prison and the general public will pay for their food, shelter and entertainment for the next 20 years at a minimum cost of £2,000,000. And this is justice that shows respect for the life of Kriss Donald?
    David Evans, London W5
  • Nobody deserves to die, no matter what atrocities have been caused. It is not for us-to decide the right of anyone else to live. Will executing Saddam Hussein bring back the thousands of Kurds and Shias who died under his regime? No. Will it deter other despots around the world from their own crimes against humanity? No. Will it teach Saddam a lesson? No. Let him live the remainder of his natural life contemplating what he has done and let him realise the error of his ways. Capital punishment does not solve problems, it only serves to appease vindictive minds. As Gandhi said: 'An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.'
    L Oswald, London El
    Well said Mr Oswald - a society that allows hanging and torture of criminals? Have a look at the middle east and tell me you want that sort of a society! Justice does not involve killing.

Tragic deaths: Families mourn the 18 killedHamas must turn the other cheek

  • So Hamas vows violent revenge for the deaths of 18 Palestinians in an Israeli tank strike? (Metro, Thu). How much more powerful would the Palestinian case seem if instead they all vowed to make a strong, universal but peaceful protest gesture? Israel would stand condemned throughout the whole world and the Palestinians would emerge as heroes. As it is, Hamas's response means we can dismiss the lot of them as one bunch of kiddy-killing thugs slugging it out with another.
    Matthew Huntbach, London SE9
  • Vast crowds of Palestinians are in agony over the devastation the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has brought on their people, so they cry out: 'God is great!' Why?
    Uka Cirtek, London SE20

Muslim woman 'told husband to be martyr'


Accused: Yassia NassariA YOUNG woman encouraged her husband to become a Muslim martyr, the Old Bailey heard yesterday. In a letter, she urged him to fight against non-believers and vowed that their baby son would follow in his footsteps, it was claimed. The letter was read out to the jury trying Bouchra El Hor, 24, for failing to disclose information on terrorism. Her husband Yassin Nassari, 28, is charged with having documents and data on terrorism. The couple, who had a five-month- old son when they were detained in May, last year, deny the charges. Bouchra El Hor allegedly said in her letter. 'I am so proud of my husband. I am happy that Allah has granted you the chance to be a martyr. 'I am writing to let you know that you have my support and to remind you to be strong and do not let Satan influence you. to remind you that jihad is now compulsory and we are now obligated to protect Islam, to help our brothers and sisters to fight the kuffar [non-believer]. 'Maybe one day I can follow you. If I can't, I will send our son to you-so he can follow his father's footsteps.' The letter was photocopied by police at Luton Airport when the couple's luggage was searched as they returned to Britain from Holland, jurors heard. Mtab Jaffeijee, prosecuting, said its true significance was recognised only after police analysed the hard drive of a computer seized at Nassari's home in Ealing, West London. It was found to have instructions on how to make missiles and handle explosives. El Hor, who is Dutch, and London- born Nassari were followers of 'extreme ideology', Mr Jaffeijee said. He added. 'His wife was not only aware of his intention, but positively encouraged it - despite the fact that his actions would almost certainly result in his death in some form of combat, and would also result in their son being without a father.' The trial continues today. 'We are now obligated to fight to protect Islam... to fight the kuffar'

Click for LEGO

You cannot compare us with Sudan

A Sulaiman (Metro, Fri), who tries to draw a parallel between the punishment of Gillian Gibbons in Sudan with what would happen in a similar instance under Britain's Racial and Religious Hatred Act, cannot be serious. Teaching impressionable youths that murdering behevers of other religions is not only acceptable but, in some cases, justifiable and desirable, is hardly the same as naming a teddy bear after the Prophet is it? Please let me know the last time a teacher in Britain was jailed for allowing her class to name a teddy bear Jesus. Until then, I'll continue to be angry with the Sudanese government for its gross overreaction.
A Scott, London W2

If A Sulaiman wishes to draw comparisons, he should do so correctly. How many devout Christians are crying blasphemy because schoolchildren have named their dolls Mary?
J Thomas, London N3

Unjustified: Sudan protests E

I am disappointed by the views of people who blame all Muslims for the actions of a minority or a single person. One cannot blame the whole of Yorkshire for the wrongdoings of the Yorkshire Ripper, so why are Muslims treated in this way? Many people seem to forget that every individual is different and has a different outlook.
A Hussain, Glasgow


Picture: WSPA

Porker: The bloated animal just before it was killed

THE world's heaviest pig has been sacrificed as part of a religious ceremony, sparking fury among animal welfare groups. The animal, which was force fed sand and metal to reach its record breaking weight of 908kg (143 stone), could not even stand as it had its throat slit at the ritual in Taiwan. Activists filmed the animal squealing in tenor before it was bled to death and paraded before a crowd on Saturday - even though officials have banned the event. The annual Pig of God festival involves a heaviest pig contest, with the winner sacrificing their animal in honour of the president. A World Society for the Protection of Animals spokesman said: 'We want to bring a complete end to this grotesque freak show.' Police in the town of Hsin Chu are reluctant to enforce a ban on the contest.

If we were all atheists and didn't believe in silly things no one can prove - we would have none of the above problems:Let's try to remember there is no such person as "Allah" or "God".It is muslims who incite race and religious hatred and do not accept that they live in a country which does not have their rules. They are intolerant and belligerent,and want everything their own way. Imran Kahn said on Channel Four that the law should stop people being offended. He offends me - but I don't want a law that forbids him doing so.

I don't think he has read 1984 or understands the history of the Western World. By comparison,the West is tolerant and has accepted muslims and they find every opportunity to BE offended - in this country the law protects the right of people to offend other's sensibilities - we do not gag people just because we do not like what they say,if muslims do not like our rules - they  are free to live in their own oppressive regimes - oddly they choose to live here,where we have free speech. They seem to want to tell others to live like they do - whilst saying that no one should tell them how to live - they are supremely arrogant - believing that their values are the best ones. 
The Channel 4 programme indicated that 2/3 of the studio audience including muslims believed that free speech should be curtailed when it came to religion - I am here to say that free speech should include the right to criticise beliefs held by other people - especially if those beliefs preach intolerance and criminal intent - ie beheading those who "insult Islam"-Muslims may believe there is a God,but I do not - and I do not accept the morality imposed by their made-up superstitious rubbish

I would like to point out to Ms Azmi that men are not aliens either and wearing a veil is offensive to me. If you think that by covering your face you are saving yourself from being accosted   -you are  making offensive assumptions about men.-LB

Researchers in scuba gear study the four-finned bottlenose dolphin found off the coast of western Japan. Inset, a close-up of one of the extra fins [Pictures:AP]

And fin-ally...this dolphin has 'legs'

A DOLPHIN with an extra pair of fins provides new proof that Darwin was right, scientists said yesterday. The animal was captured just over a week ago off western Japan. The extra fins are evidence that dolphins once had four legs and lived on land, researchers claim.
Fishermen netted the animal off the coast of Wakayama on October28. The second set of fins - much smaller than the front pair - are about the size of human hands and protrude from near the tail on the dolphin's underside.
The dolphin, which is being kept at the Taiji Whaling Museum for X-ray and DNA tests, is 2.7m (9ft) long and about five years old. It is the first time a dolphin or whale has been caught with a well-developed symmetrical pair of extra fins.'This is an unprecedented discovery,' said Seiji Osumi, an adviser at Tokyo's Institute of Cetacean Research, 'I believe the fins may be remains from the time when dolphins' ancient ancestors lived on land.' Fossils indicate that dolphins and whales were once four-footed land animals, and share common ancestors with the hippopotamus and deer. [Metro 6/11/06]

Click for Channel 4 site

Dear Ed,
Your interview with Andrew Parker highlights just what lengths people will go to to try and push God into a picture where he just does not belong. I would like Dr Parker to explain where the evidence is that the sun has been stopped in the sky.As the late great Isaac Asimov explained - we would have all been thrown off into space. Dr Parker doesn't seem to know what the evidence is,and as such is why he says it points neither one way or the other,when in fact it falls clearly in favour of atheism. Considering he was educated at Oxford,he might do better keeping his nose out of other people's business as clearly his education in science is completely lacking.

Frank Hung has fell foul of one of the cliche arguments of those of faith - that atheism is just as much a matter of faith. He is quite wrong. Occam's razor and proof beyond a reasonable doubt mean that one should presume the negative by default and ask for proof - which is what an atheist does. Someone of faith presumes the positive and asks for evidence of refutation, inverting the process of proof and as anyone will tell you - you cannot prove a negative,so those of faith are in an untenable close minded position.
These issues are covered in:

Paul Hildreth is one of those people who say they are open-minded for not dismissing God and yet accepts scientific methodology. The accepted process in science is to assume the negative until there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt as we do in court,and to use Occam's razor which dismisses needless complexity. Under these rules the notion of God becomes a falsity,and thence should not be believed in. If you accept science you should not believe in God.Anyone who does science and believes in God is a bad scientist.

Dear Ed,

I challenge Phil Granger to name one thing science cannot explain,and if he can,this does not mean it falls under the headings "religion" or "supernature". It merely means science hasn't explained it yet.

Ben Niblett seems to think because scientists who have faith exist it means the two concepts can co-exist,it doesn't,it merely means those people are not good enough to realise why the concepts are mutually exclusive. In John Polkinghorne's case, I have a paper taking apart one of his own dissertations as to why religion and science can co-exist. Mr Polkinghorne is just plain wrong, like all those who think religion has anything to contribute to what is true about the universe.

New SCientist FEEDBACK [30Aug,2003]CREATION science is the creationists' slap in the face to orthodox science. It's their way of proving the silly old orthodox scientists have got it all wrong: life didn't evolve over millions of years, God created it 6000 years ago. But browsing reports of a recent Creation Science Fair, Feedback was glad to see that young creationists set the same store by observation as their orthodox counterparts. At the elementary level, for instance, young Cassidy Turnbull carried off first prize for noting the differences between her uncle Steve and a monkey. She couldn't bring a monkey to the fair, but she brought her uncle Steve, and showed that not only was he less hairy than the monkeys in her photographs, he also didn't like bananas. First prize in the middle school category went to Patricia Lewis, who showed that living things could not evolve from non-living things by sealing a charcoal briquette, purified water and a multivitamin tablet in a jar and leaving it in the sun for three weeks. The high school projects were, predictably, more ambitious. Two girls compared the antibiotic resistance of two cultures of E. coli bacteria, and found that the one they prayed would evolve antibiotic resistance, did. Other notable entries are mentioned at Exercise those powers of observation, however, and you might notice that the author is a professor at Fellowship University, which doesn't seem to exist. Evidently the site has not evolved but was created - and not by God.

Youtube-10 questions any 'rational' Christian should answer

Youtube-Proving that Jesus is imaginary

Youtube-Why nobody can get into heaven

Youtube-Why Christians are delusional

Youtube-Why the Bible is Repulsive

BBC Religious Limerick Contest

Click to find missing link

See also: Can science oust religion?,Darwin on the right,Intelligent Design,
Missing link found





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