World In Review 2012 – Compiled By Dinouk Colombage
The Leather-Bound ‘Gospel’ Which Iran Claims Will Bring Down Christianity And Shake World Politics
A leather-bound religious text, thought to date from the fifth century but discovered only 12 years ago, will cause the collapse of Christianity worldwide, Iran has claimed.The book, written on animal hide, was confiscated during an anti-smuggling operation in Turkey’s Mediterranean region in 2000. Turkish authorities believe it could be an authentic version of the Gospel by Jesus’s disciple Barnabas, and an Iranian press report has claimed that its contents will trigger Christianity’s downfall by proving that Islam is the final and righteous religion. Others have dismissed the Iranian claims as ‘laughable’ anti-Christian propaganda.
The Basij Press claims the text was written in the 5th or 6th century and it predicted the coming of the Prophet Muhammad and the religion of Islam. It says the Christian world denies the existence of such a gospel. Basij claims that Chapter 41 of the Gospel reads: ‘God has hidden himself as Archangel Michael ran them (Adam and Eve) out of heaven, (and) when Adam turned, he noticed that at top of the gateway to heaven, it was written “La elaha elal Allah, Mohamad rasool Allah,”’ meaning Allah is the only God and Mohammad his prophet. The Iranian report claims that the text states that Jesus was never crucified and that He himself predicted Muhammad’s coming.The book, written in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, even predicts the coming of the last Islamic messiah, the report adds.Turkish authorities seized the text in 2000 in a crackdown on a gang who were charged with smuggling antiquities, illegal excavations and the possession of explosives.
But excitement at the find only peaked in February this year, when it was reported that the Vatican had made an official request to view the book.It is not known whether the request was granted. Its origins are unknown, but National Turk reported that the book had been kept in the Justice Palace in the Turkish capital, Ankara, and was being transferred under armed police guard to the city’s Ethnography Museum. The Basij report suggests that the discovery is so immense that it will shake world politics. The discovery of the original Barnabas Bible will now undermine the Christian Church and its authority and will revolutionize the religion in the world,” it states. ’The most significant fact, though, is that this Bible has predicted the coming of Prophet Mohammad and in itself has verified the religion of Islam.’ Although Turkish authorities believe the text to be genuine, other observers have questioned its authenticity.
Courtesy Daily Mail UK
US Cuts Pakistan Aid Over Jailing Of ‘Bin Laden’s Doctor’
A US Senate panel has cut $33m (£21m) in aid to Pakistan in response to the jailing of a Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find Osama Bin Laden.
The Senate Appropriations Committee has said it will cut US aid by $1m for each year of Shakil Afridi’s sentence.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said his term was “unjust and unwarranted”.
Dr. Afridi was tried for treason under a tribal justice system for running a fake vaccination programme to gather information for US intelligence.
Bin Laden was killed by US forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011.
The move from the Senate panel follows earlier cuts to the White House’s budget request for Pakistan. The cuts would be part of a bill that would send $1bn in aid to Pakistan in the next financial year.
“We need Pakistan, Pakistan needs us, but we don’t need Pakistan double-dealing and not seeing the justice in bringing Osama Bin Laden to an end,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, calling Pakistan “a schizophrenic ally”.
Meanwhile Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said: “It’s Alice in Wonderland at best. If this is co-operation, I’d hate like hell to see opposition.”
Correspondents say the cuts reflect mounting frustration in Congress over Pakistan’s role in fighting terrorism on its soil.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton spoke out against Dr Afridi’s sentence.
“The United States does not believe there is any basis for holding Dr [Shakil] Afridi. We regret the fact that he was convicted and the severity of his sentence,” Mrs Clinton told reporters on Thursday.
She added that she would continue to pursue the issue with the authorities in Pakistan.
The killing triggered a rift between the US and Pakistan, whose government was seriously embarrassed as it emerged Bin Laden had been living in Pakistan. Islamabad felt the covert US operation was a violation of its sovereignty.
Shortly after the raid on Bin Laden’s house, Dr. Afridi was arrested for conspiring against the state of Pakistan.
Pakistan has insisted that any country would have done the same if it found one of its citizens working for a foreign spy agency.
Dr. Afridi was found guilty in Khyber district, and fined $3,500. If he does not pay the fine his prison sentence will be extended by a further three years. Dr. Afridi, who is now being held in jail in Peshawar, was not present in court so was unable to give his side of the story.
In June, Pakistani army officials told the BBC that some suspects were arrested for helping the Americans refuel their helicopters during the raid. Others were detained because they were suspected of firing flares to guide the helicopters towards the compound.
It is not clear if Dr. Afridi knew who the target of the investigation was when the CIA recruited him, or what DNA he managed to collect in the fake hepatitis B vaccination programme.
The idea was to obtain a blood sample from one of the children living in the Abbottabad compound, so that DNA tests could determine whether or not they were relatives of Bin Laden.
The issues of drone strikes and Pakistan’s refusal to re-open Nato supply routes to Afghanistan have also recently strained the two allies’ relationship.
Pakistan’s parliament has called for an end to the use of drones, and says they are an attack on its sovereignty. A drone strike on Wednesday killed four people in the North Waziristan tribal area, security officials said. The two countries also failed to reach agreement at the Nato summit in Chicago over the supply routes that were closed after a US air strike in 2011 killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
Islamabad is demanding more than $5,000 (£3,200) per lorry in transit fees, up from its previous rate of $250, to let supplies flow again.
Courtesy The BBC
Blind Activist Chen Guangcheng’s Brother Flees Village
The older brother of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has fled the closely-guarded village where he lives for the capital, Beijing.
Chen Guangfu is seeking legal help for his son, who faces charges after a clash with local officials.
Lawyer Ding Xikui told media that Chen Guangfu wanted to consult lawyers in Beijing over his son’s case.
Chen Guangcheng, who is now in the US, has expressed concern that his relatives could face reprisals.
The blind activist triggered a diplomatic crisis between the US and China when he fled house arrest to the US embassy in Beijing in late April.
He has now been allowed to travel to the US with his wife and children to study, but his relatives remain in China.
They live in Dongshigu village in Shandong province, which has been under tight security.
Ding Xikui told media that he met Chen Guangfu on Thursday morning. “It seems like he escaped in the night and took a bus,” he said.
He said Chen wanted to “consult a few lawyers” over the constraints to his freedom and to help his son.
Chen Kegui has been charged with “intentional homicide” after a clash with local officials who came to his house shortly after Chen Guangcheng disappeared. His relatives say he was defending himself.
Chen’s wife, Ren Zongju, previously told of how officials came to her home and attacked her son. “They started fighting inside the house. So many people were beating him. His face was bleeding, and his legs. His trousers were ripped,” she said.
Chen also detailed how he himself was detained for days, interrogated and beaten after his brother’s escape.
While his escape has been hailed as a victory by his supporters, Chen Guangcheng has said that it would be his family who continue to bear the consequences.
Courtesy The Telegraph
Scotland Independence Would Allow Economy To Grow
Deputy first minister, Nicola Strugeon, has insisted that independence would allow Scotland to build a stronger and more competitive country, by putting economic control in the hands of its voters.
Speaking before Alex Salmond launched the Scottish National party’s official campaign for independence, Sturgeon, the deputy first minister, said the central point of independence was to hand political power over to the people of Scotland. “What we’re arguing is that it’s best to have a situation where the big decisions about Scotland, about our future, are taken by the people who care most: the people who live here,” she told media.
“It’s not about breakup, it’s not about separation. We can continue to share things where that make sense but independence puts powers over our economy, our political life into the hands of the people of Scotland.” Sturgeon, also deputy leader of the SNP, rejected suggestions that Scotland’s independence would be undermined because it would continue to use sterling as its currency and allow the Bank of England to control monetary policy.
She said both an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK would share very similar economic and monetary goals. Scotland’s North Sea oil wealth and its whisky exports would greatly help the overall balance of payments for both countries.Unlike the Euro zone, which combined the very poorest areas of Greece and the rich nations such as Germany, the nations within the UK had very similar economies and similar GDPs.
She said there was “no evidence” that Scotland’s international credit rating would be lower than the rest of the UK’s, a claim made by some analysts. She denied that staying with the UK’s currency rather than joining the euro or setting up its own currency betrayed any nerves or anxieties about Scotland’s economic future.“ We think remaining with the sterling would be good for Scotland in terms of the stability but we also think that there would be an advantage for the rest of the UK,” she said.“ It’s not in any sense a lack of confidence in Scotland’s economy. Scotland is more than capable of surviving as an independent country, because it’s more than capable of paying its way.”
Nevertheless, Sturgeon confirmed that an independent Scotland would set different tax rates to boost its competitiveness, implying that it would want to compete against the rest of the UK for investment. She continued: “The key advantage of independence within a monetary union is the fiscal independence we get”. At the moment we have virtually no tax powers in Scotland and therefore we’re unable to use fiscal levers to boost the competitiveness of our economy, so fiscal independence within a monetary union is perfectly sensible and advantageous to Scotland.”On Friday morning, Salmond launched his party’s long-awaited “Yes Scotland” campaign for the referendum on independence in 2014, centred on a new public declaration supporting separation under the slogan “Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands”.
The event at a multiscreen cinema in Edinburgh, billed as the largest community-based political movement in the country’s history, featured pro-independence celebrities and public figures including former Labour politicians such as the former Falkirk MP Dennis Canavan. SNP activists around Scotland are being trained to act as campaigners for independence and urged to attempt to convert and persuade as many colleagues, friends and family members in their areas as possible, and to lobby opinion-formers in their community.