FaithWorld

U.S. House panel probes Muslim radicalization, critics see witch hunt

muslimerican

(A woman protests in New York City March 6, 2011/Jessica Rinaldi )

The U.S. House of Representatives will investigate radicalization in the American-Muslim community, sparking outrage that the probe is a witch hunt akin to the 1950s anti-Communist campaign. With al Qaeda and its affiliates openly trying to recruit Americans and Muslims inside the United States for attacks, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King called congressional hearings on the subject “absolutely essential”.

“I am facing reality, my critics are not,” King said on MSNBC. “Al Qaeda is changing its tactics, they realize that it’s very difficult to attack from the outside, they’re recruiting from within.”

King, who will lead a hearing on Thursday, has questioned the cooperation by Muslim Americans with U.S. law enforcement authorities and accused mosques of being a breeding ground for radicalization.

Critics say the hearings smack of the effort in the 1950s by Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy, who presided over congressional hearings to expose and ostracize Communists and their sympathizers in the United States. Muslim and civil rights advocates have condemned King’s assertions, countering that Muslims in the United States are being unfairly targeted and pointing to tips they have provided to authorities in the past.

“This hearing does not represent the mainstream view,” said imam Shamsi Ali, who organized a protest against the probe in New York where he works closely with the police department on community relations.  “I don’t see any reason for that perception about Muslims not cooperating,” he said, noting a Muslim vendor alerted authorities to the failed Times Square car bombing in 2010.  That incident, coupled with an alleged bomb plot uncovered last month involving a 20-year-old Saudi student studying in Texas, are among several plots that have boosted concerns by U.S. officials that al Qaeda and its affiliates are determined to strike inside the United States any way they can.

Former Belgian Catholic leader Danneels says not responsible for abuse

danneels (Photo: Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels at a parliamentary committee hearing on child sexual abuse in the Belgian Catholic Church, in Brussels December 21, 2010./Francois Lenoir)

Belgium’s former top Roman Catholic bishop told a parliamentary inquiry on Tuesday into the sexual abuse of children by clerics that he was not responsible for other Belgian bishops.

Belgium’s lower house set up the inquiry to examine an issue that has rocked the Catholic Church worldwide and resulted in hundreds of victims coming forward. Widespread sexual abuse of minors by Belgian clerics drove at least 13 victims to suicide, a Church commission said in September, recording 475 cases.

Tape recordings released in Belgium this summer made it clear that Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who until January was archbishop of Brussels and head of the Belgian bishops’ conference, was aware of abuse by Bruges Bishop Roger Vangheluwe but had discouraged immediate public statements by the victim.

German abuse victims humiliated by compensation sums

heimkinder (Photo: A man wearing a T-shirt reading “former foster home child” at a news conference presenting the final report on abuse in foster homes in Berlin, December 13, 2010./Thomas Peter)

German victims of abuse in foster homes say the 120 million euros proposed as compensation was “humiliatingly” small compared with damages awarded in other countries, and vowed to fight for more. After a two-year inquiry, a government-appointed panel on Monday recommended 120 million euros be set aside for an estimated 30,000 victims expected to file abuse claims.

“It’s a poor start to the compensation process and another humiliation of victims,” the VEH victims’ group leader Monika Tschapek-Güntner said. “Roughly 30,000 victims are expected to apply for damages which will leave individuals between 2,000 and 4,000 euros.”

Tschapek-Güntner said that a deal struck between abuse victims and the Catholic Church in Ireland resulted in payments averaging 76,000 euros per victim. Irish compensation claims are expected to top 1 billion euros.

Confusion reigns as Belgium struggles with Catholic sex abuse scandal

shipFollowing the crisis of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in Belgium is like watching a rudderless ship in a storm. The Church hierarchy seems overwhelmed by the scandal that has engulfed it. The state seems unable to intervene after its spectacular raid on Church offices last June backfired on it. Left hanging are at least 475 victims who have no idea what to expect next. (Image: A Dutch Ship in a Storm by Flemish artist Matthieu van Plattenberg, National Maritime Museum, London)

The latest installment in this confusing drama came on Tuesday when Bishop Guy Harpigny, the bishops’ conference spokesman for abuse issues, confessed in two morning radio interviews that the Church botched a news conference on Monday by not issuing a full apology to victims. But — as my colleague Phil Blenkinsop reported in our story today — he admitted it was afraid to do so because that could bring on a wave of compensation demands.

“If we say ‘mea culpa,’ then we are morally responsible, legally responsible, and then people come wanting money. We don’t know what the lawyers and the courts will do with that,” he told the Flemish-language Radio 1. “We are afraid. Who will ask — the victims, the courts or someone else? That’s why we are so careful.” A bit later in the interview, he admitted: “The news conference yesterday was a missed chance for a ‘mea culpa’. Maybe the church was too concerned with itself.”

Catholic Church and UK colluded in Northern Ireland bomb cover-up: report

northern ireland (Photo: Nationalist youths set a car alight in Belfast on July 13, 2010/Cathal McNaughton)

The British government and the Roman Catholic Church colluded to protect a priest suspected of involvement in a 1972 bombing in Northern Ireland that killed 9 people, an official report said on Tuesday.

The Police Ombudsman’s report revealed that an Irish cardinal was involved in transferring Father James Chesney out of British-ruled Northern Ireland, highlighting again the role of the Church hierarchy in protecting priests against allegations of criminal activity.

The inquiry showed that Secretary of State for Northern Ireland William Whitelaw had a private “tete-a-tete” with Cardinal William Conway, the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, in 1972 in which they discussed the possibility of moving Chesney out of Northern Ireland.

Dutch Catholic abuse probe calls offenders to come forward

Wim Deetman

Wim Deetman

The head of a commission asked by the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands to look into allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests said on Friday a year-long investigation was needed and appealed for offenders to come forward.

“From a moral, religious point of view, in the framework of the Roman Catholic Church, it is wise to come to the forefront and say what you have done,” said Wim Deetman, who was asked by the Church in March to lead a preliminary inquiry in response to an increasing number of victims coming forward.

“It will be helpful for the commission to establish how broad it has been, not to hear just from the victims but also from the offenders,” he added. The number of calls to a Dutch hotline for victims of abuse has risen to 1,500 since early March, and 52 formal complaints about abuse have been made.