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Islamic World News ( 10 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Brave Kashmiri girl Rukhsana Kausar to receive medal

Pope condemns murder of Coptic Christians in Egypt

Amid turmoil, Iran set to try 7 Baha'i leaders

Muslims, Nigerians in Detroit denounce terrorism

Blowback: PoK rocked by mystery terror attacks

Musharraf met ULFA leader in Dhaka: Minister

B'desh govt has evidence of Musharraf-Chetia meet

Malaysian Christians fearful as church attacks rise

MALAYSIA:  Religious Intolerance Threatens Secular Foundation

People across Iraq protest Saudi cleric insults

Karachi: a new resolve to turn against Taliban

UK Muslim TV channel linked to al-Qaida cleric al-Awlaki

Britain: majority attitudes against Islam are hardening

Book documents voices of sanity

130 Muslim NGOs To Help Monitor Security Of Churches

Stowaway Habib Husain freed

Pakistani and Indian forces exchange fire at Wagah

US airstrike kills five in Pakistan

Pak girls turn suicide bombers

India and the world love Pakistan’s brave new cinema

Al Qaeda in Yemen is extension of its core from Pak: US

Blast in Afghanistan Kills 3, Including British Journalist

British journalist killed in Afghanistan

Israel demolishes 20 houses in West Bank: witnesses

Somali Islamists: A potential ally?

CIA bomber had shared US secrets with militants

Grave site stresses Middle East tension

A joint venture for peace is the way to go

We are at war, says Obama

Militants making a comeback in Kashmir

So dignified, so British... the Muslims who put Mr Choudary to shame

Muslims Unity Non-negotiable, Says Sultan

Sharjah Police Arrest International Gang

Nazims’ reign ends in Balochistan

Kashmiris hold protest outside UN office

A Rise in Philippine Pre-Vote Security

Local Islamic council to discuss al-Faisal's return

Anti-Muslim images are protected speech, Minn. officials say

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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Brave Kashmiri girl Rukhsana Kausar to receive medal

10 January 2010

NEW DELHI: President Pratibha Patil has approved the Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak for Jammu girl Rukhsana Kosser, who braved the bullets of militants and killed one of them to save her family.

Delhi boy Narender Kaushik will be honoured with the medal posthumously for showing “conspicuous courage in saving life under circumstances of very great danger to the life of the rescuer.”

Rukhsana (20), along with her sibling, overpowered a Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist, snatched his rifle and fired at him, killing him on the spot and injuring another in Kalsian village, about 217 km from Jammu, on the night of September 27 last year.

The name of Ms. Rukhsana, who is now a Jammu and Kashmir police officer, was recommended by Governor N.N. Vohra.

The seven whose names were approved for the Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak are: Syed Areef Sujauddin (Andhra Pradesh), Umman Antony (Kerala), Rajan Kamble (Maharashtra) - all posthumous -Mushtaq Ahmed and Ajaz Ahmed (Jammu and Kashmir), Karambir Singh Kang (Maharashtra) and Prachi Santosh Sen (Madhya Pradesh).

The President also approved the names of 44 persons for the Jeevan Raksha Padak.

The medal, a certificate signed by the Home Minister, and a demand draft for a lump sum monetary allowance are presented to an awardee by the respective State government.

The monetary allowance is given at the rate of Rs.75,000, Rs.45,000 and Rs.30,000 to the Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak, Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak and Jeevan Raksha Padak respectively, a Home Ministry statement said on Friday.


Pope condemns murder of Coptic Christians in Egypt

(AFP) – January 10, 2010

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday condemned the murder of six Coptic Christians in a January 6 attack in Egypt, and denounced violence against Christians.

"The violence against Christians in certain countries has caused indignation among many people, among other reasons because it has manifested itself during the holiest days of the Christian tradition," the pope told pilgrims in St Peter's Square.

The drive-by shooting happened in the southern Egyptian town of Nagaa Hammadi as Copts celebrated their Christmas Eve along with other Orthodox communities.

"There can be no violence in the name of God," Benedict said.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved


Amid turmoil, Iran set to try 7 Baha'i leaders

By Moni Basu, CNN

January 9, 2010

A trial for seven Iranian Baha'is that has come to symbolize the persecution of followers of the faith is set to unfold next week with added controversy and global attention.

Recent turmoil and governmental crackdowns on protesters in Iran have raised concern about the fate of the seven Baha'i community leaders who have been held at Tehran's Evin prison since their arrests in March and May 2008.

And now other Baha'is, arrested during demonstrations last month on the Shiite holy day of Ashura, will also face trial in the coming days, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported Saturday.

"These people were not arrested because they were Baha'is," said Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi, prosecutor for Iran's Public and Revolution Courts. "In searching their homes, a number of weapons and ammunition were discovered."

He said the Baha'is had "played a role in organizing the riots and sending pictures of the riots abroad. That is why they were arrested."

But a spokeswoman for the Baha'is said the government's latest allegations were designed to sow prejudice and hatred against the minority faith in Iran.

"This is nothing less than a blatant lie," said Diane Ala'i, the Baha'i International Community's representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. "Baha'is are by the most basic principles of their faith committed to absolute nonviolence, and any charge that there might have been weapons or 'live rounds' in their homes is simply and completely unbelievable."

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has also criticized Iranian officials for blaming the Baha'is for anti-government demonstrations.

"These allegations are not only without merit, but downright fabricated," said Leonard Leo, chairman of the commission, which acts as an independent advisory board to the U.S. government.

"If the Iranian government moves forward next week with the trial of the seven Baha'i leaders, the U.S. government and international community must demand fair and transparent proceedings in accordance with international human rights standards," Leo said.

After two delays, that trial is scheduled to open Tuesday.

On Thursday, prominent Indians of the Baha'i faith held a news conference in New Delhi, urging their government to intervene.

"This trial is designed to harass and intimidate, and is one more in a long line of persecution of this community," said Maja Daruwala, director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. "Our country has a long record of pluralism and tolerance and must speak out."

The Baha'i World Centre estimates there are more than 5 million Baha'is spread around the globe; India has the largest community, with about 2 million.

The seven Iranian Baha'i leaders -- two women and five men -- are accused of spying for Israel, spreading propaganda against the Islamic republic and committing religious offenses, charges that can carry the death penalty.

Ala'i said the trial has been delayed twice because the Iranian regime has no basis for a case.

"These people are innocent, and that's a problem," she said.

She said the Islamic regime is trying to rouse public sentiment ahead of that trial by accusing Baha'is in Iran of instigating the protests that were held on December 27, the day Iranians marked Ashura.

"In general, they are blaming everybody -- the foreign media, human rights activists and now the Baha'i," Ala'i said. "It's scapegoating."

Ala'i said concerns deepened Sunday, when her organization received word from families in Iran that 13 Baha'is had been rounded up from their homes, taken to Evin prison and asked to sign documents that they would not engage in future demonstrations.

"Putting two and two together, the situation facing these Baha'i leaders is extremely ominous," Ala'i said. "We are deeply concerned for their safety."

The Baha'i faith originated in 19th century Persia, but the the constitution of today's Islamic republic does not recognize it as a religion and considers followers as apostates.

The Iranian government denies mistreating Baha'is, who number about 300,000 in Iran and are the nation's largest non-Muslim religious minority, according to Baha'i International. But the Baha'is say believers in Iran are victims of systematic discrimination and targets of violence.

Ala'i said the trial of the community leaders in Tehran has mobilized Baha'is around the world and has taken on symbolic significance -- one that could very well transcend the fate of seven men and women.


Muslims, Nigerians in Detroit denounce terrorism

Oralandar Brand-Williams

January 09. 2010

Detroit -- Muslims, Arab-Americans and Nigerian-Americans stood together Friday outside the federal courthouse downtown to speak out against terrorism and Islamic extremists.

An estimated 150 people attended a peaceful demonstration, carrying large American flags and signs that read, "Not in the Name of Islam" and "Not in Our Name."

The rally was held during the U.S. District Court arraignment of terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is accused of trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines jet bound for Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Christmas Day.

Majed Moughni of Dearborn said he hopes Friday's rally leads to a "movement" by Muslims to become more vocal in standing up to Islamic radicals who invade their schools and mosques.

"We are not going to let these terrorists hijack our religion," said Moughni.

"We've been trying to recover from (the Sept. 11 terror attacks) for nine years. (This) comes right in our backyards, right over the heads of the largest Muslim population in North America."

Nigerian-American Remigius Obi of Ann Arbor also was among the crowd. He held a sign that read, "Nigeria condemns terrorism. Nigerians disown Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Nigeria says sorry to America & the world."

"I'm here to tell the world that Nigerians don't support terrorism," Obi said.

"Terrorism is not part of Nigerians' culture. We love America. We love life."

Hours earlier, a group of Muslim religious leaders held a news conference to denounce terrorism.

"The Muslim community is upset with what happened on Christmas Day, that this man tried to blow up the plane in the name of a faith in our own backyard," said Victor Begg, president of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan.

At the same time, several imams expressed concern over how federal officials will come up with new security screening measures for travelers while also trying to preserve the civil liberties of individuals.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations earlier this week sent President Barack Obama a letter outlining the group's concerns about Muslim women wearing hijabs, or head scarves, being singled out for additional screening.

On Friday, a coalition of Muslim civil rights organizations contacted U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano with concerns about religious and ethnic profiling.

Hebba Aref, a passenger aboard the targeted Christmas Day flight, joined the imams at the news conference to condemn the attack.

"I would have wished he had studied the religion a little bit better and maybe gotten a better idea of understanding of what our religion is all about," said 27-year-old Aref, an international lawyer who attended the arraignment. (313) 222-2027 Detroit News photographer Steve Perez contributed.


Blowback: PoK rocked by mystery terror attacks

Kamal Siddiqi

Karachi, January 09, 2010

The suicide attack in Pak-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) earlier this week in which three soldiers were killed and 11 injured outside an army barracks has raised fears the Taliban are expanding operations into that part of the country. This is the third terrorist attack in PoK that has historically been free of militant violence.

What makes these attacks more intriguing is that no group has claimed responsibility for them and the Pakistan government has declined to even say whom they suspect was behind them.

At the same time, the rise in violence in this strategic area has made many wonder whether the Taliban wants to open a new frontier in the war against the government.

Most parts of Pakistan are experiencing regular attacks by suicide bombers. Over 500 people have died in the latest wave, But political commentators say the attack near the town of Rawalakot last week was not “just another suicide attack.”

But who is responsible for this attack remains a question on which there is no consensus. “Given that the areas of Azad Kashmir [PoK] is very much sanitized one can assume that these rogue elements are coming in from outside the country,” says Talat Masood, a retired Pakistan Army general and political analyst.

This is a view widely shared in Pakistan. Most Pakistanis point fingers towards India and say it is responsible for the attacks, that they are in retaliation for the violence in Jammu and Kashmir. The large military presence in PoK, as well as its strategic importance to Pakistan, has meant this area has been relatively free of violence.

A number of Sunni militant groups have been based here but the focus of these groups has been attacking that part of Kashmir not occupied by Pakistan, say local journalists. They say the militant groups based in Pok are carefully monitored and they cannot indulge in terror activities in the area. That has been a reason why there has been no record of terrorist violence.

However, this state of affairs has started to come apart in the past year. PoK has witnessed some its worst violence in decades in the past couple of months. Eight Shias were killed in a bombing last month when three would-be suicide bombers blew themselves up in Muzaffarabad as they were chased by police. The three men did not appear to be Kashmiris, police said.

In June, a suicide bomber killed two soldiers and injured three others in the same town. This week’s suicide bombing is the latest in the series of attacks which target either Shias or military men.  The bombing is the first outside Muzaffarabad and comes a day after Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari visited the area.

Attacks on Shias have been a characteristic of some Taliban-affiliated groups, like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and has raised fears among some that the Taliban may be trying to expand their area of operations.

Ayesha Siddiqa, author of Military Inc, says the attacks may have been planned out of PoK but the chances are that it is a move by the Tehreek-e-Taliban.


Musharraf met ULFA leader in Dhaka: Minister

Haroon Habib

“Meeting arranged by Khaleda Zia regime”

Hasina’s visit to build trust in relationship

DHAKA: A senior Minister in the Sheikh Hasina government has alleged that the previous Bangladesh government led by Khaleda Zia arranged a meeting between the former Pakistani President, General (retired) Pervez Musharraf, and United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) leader Anup Chetia in Dhaka.

Local Government Minister Syed Ashraful Islam, who is also general secretary of the ruling Awami League, made the claim on Friday at a roundtable on Ms. Hasina’s coming visit to India.

“Pervez Musharraf had a one-and-a-half-hour meeting with the detained ULFA leader, Anup Chetia, at his hotel room during a visit when the BNP [and the Jamaat-e-Islami] were in power,” he told the roundtable held at the National Press Club here on Friday.

General (retired) Musharraf visited Bangladesh in July, 2002. ULFA secretary-general Chetia has been under detention in a Bangladesh jail since his arrest in 1998.

Indian media reported last month that the Bangladesh government had deported the secessionist outfit’s chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa and Raju Barua, deputy commander of ULFA’s armed wing, to India. But Dhaka has denied it.

The Minister said Ms. Hasina’s visit to India from January 10 would be political. The main objective of the visit was to build trust between the two neighbours.

The Minister told the roundtable that the relationship between Dhaka and New Delhi had not been “normal” in the last seven years. Rather, it had been superficial.

Mr. Ashraf said the Musharraf-Chetia meeting and 10 ten truckload of weapons seized in Bangladesh had affected the relationship. He said the weapons seized in Chittagong and the 30 million bullets seized in Bogra were meant for use by Indian separatists.

He blamed the previous BNP government and its allies for the worsening of relations with India.

Full report at:


B'desh govt has evidence of Musharraf-Chetia meet

Anisur Rahman ??

January 10, 2010

Dhaka, Jan 10 (PTI) Bangladesh government has "evidence" that ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia's administration had arranged a "secret meeting" here between former Pakistan president Parvez Musharraf with jailed ULFA leader Anup Chetia, a separatist leader wanted by India.

Defending his claim that Musharraf had met Chetia, Local government minister and ruling Awami League's general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam said, "We've the evidence. We've not made any statement without evidence. I am aware that no comment should be made about a president without any evidence."

His renewed claim came a day after BNP denied the charge and demanded the proof that United Liberation Front of Assam leader Chetia held a meeting with the visiting Pakistani president for some one and half hours as he was brought to his hotel suit at Dhaka's Sheraton Hotel from Dhaka Central Jail.


Malaysian Christians fearful as church attacks rise

Niluksi Koswanage

Sun Jan 10, 201

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Would-be arsonists in mostly Muslim Malaysia struck at a convent school and a fifth church on Sunday while church leaders called for calm in a row over Christians' use of the word "Allah" to refer to God.

The attacks threaten Prime Minister Najib Razak's plan to win back non-Muslim support before elections due by 2013 and may scare investors away from Malaysia that has trailed Thailand and Indonesia for foreign investment.

Police in the sleepy city of Taiping, around 300 km (185 miles) from the capital Kuala Lumpur, said a petrol bomb was thrown at the guard house of a Catholic convent school but failed to go off.

They also said they had found several broken bottles including paint thinners outside one of the country's oldest Anglican churches, All Saints, Taiping, and said one of the building's walls had been blackened.

The row, over a court ruling that allowed a Catholic newspaper to use "Allah" in its Malay-language editions, had prompted Muslims to protest at mosques and sparked arson attacks on four churches that saw one Pentecostalist church gutted.

On Sunday, Malaysians packed churches to listen to sermons of "reaching out in friendship to all, including Muslims" and "keeping the peace in multi-religious Malaysia" but many felt their religious rights were being trampled.

"There are extremists in this country and the government seems unable to do anything," said Wilson Matayun, a salesman who attended Mass at St Anthony's Church in Kuala Lumpur. "I am losing faith in our government. I pray it does not get worse."

Matayun is from Sabah state on Borneo island, where a large number of non-English speaking Christians have used the word "Allah" for decades. Christians account for 9.1 percent of the 28 million population.

The government has appealed against the ruling, a marked contrast to countries like Indonesia, Egypt and Syria where Christian minorities freely use the Arabic word to refer to God.

Malaysia is mainly Muslim and Malay but there are sizable ethnic Chinese and Indian communities who mainly practice Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism.

They handed the government its biggest losses in 2008 state and national elections in part due to feelings of religious marginalization and growing disillusionment with corruption.

Najib's handling of the issue will determine whether he can keep the support of the Malays and win back ethnic Chinese and Indian voters to solidify his grip on power after taking control of the government last year.

(Editing by Nick Macfie)


MALAYSIA:  Religious Intolerance Threatens Secular Foundation

By Baradan Kuppusamy

Jan 10 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, (IPS) - Days of simmering religious tension over a New Year’s Eve court ruling allowing Catholics to use the Arabic word ‘Allah’ to denote the Christian God have boiled over after unknown individuals tried to burn down three churches in the capital.

As the pre-dawn attacks on Jan. 7 shocked the nation, political and religious leaders, political parties and civil rights groups and activists of all faiths quickly rallied to show their revulsion and swiftly condemn the arson attempt.

In the attacks, the ground floor of the three-storey Metro Tabernacle church located in a commercial building in the leafy Desa Melawati suburb of Kuala Lumpur was gutted.

Two other attempts against two other churches were unsuccessful because the Molotov cocktail bombs thrown by unidentified youths on motorcycles failed to explode.

Although police said the attacks were amateurish, unplanned and uncoordinated, the attempt left a huge political blot impact on a society that had cherished racial and religious tolerance and compromises as a way of life.

Muslims were enraged after the High Court in Kuala Lumpur ruled on Dec. 31 that the word "Allah" was not exclusive to Muslims.

Judge Lau Bee Lan declared that citizens of other faiths, including Catholics, could now use the term because such rights were guaranteed by Articles in the Constitution providing for freedom of religion and expression.

The arson attacks, and the dispute over the ‘Allah’ word, political analyst Denison Jayasooria said, is just part of a series of divisive issues that have unsettled the multi-ethnic Malaysian society, where some 60 percent of the more than 28 million population are Muslims and the rest minority Chinese and Indians who are either Hindus, Buddhists or Christians.

In incidents in recent months Muslims demanded a Muslim woman who drank beer to be whipped. In another incident Muslims paraded a severed cow head to protest the construction of a Hindu temple near their homes, as Hindus, who consider the cow holy, watched helplessly.

"There is politics, fear of losing traditional rights, privileges and status behind all of these incidents," Jayasooria told IPS. But the arson attack on the churches, everyone agrees, had crossed a line that not been reached in the country before.

"The attacks wound our society deeply… (they crossed) a line we have not seen before," said Ragunath Kesavan, president of the Malaysian Bar, an organisation of legal practitioners. "It is very worrying."

Full report at:


People across Iraq protest Saudi cleric insults

10 Jan 2010

People across Iraq have taken to streets to protest a Saudi cleric's comments regarding the country's most influential cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

Leading Wahhabi cleric Mohammad al-Ureifi in a Friday sermon had termed the Shia cleric an "atheist and debauched."

He also launched an attack on Iraq's Shias, accusing 65 percent of the country's population of conspiring with Yemen's Houthis against Saudi Arabia.

During demonstrations condemning the remarks, protestors called on the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to take a tough stance on the remarks.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has responded to the verbal attack on the Grand Ayatollah, who has played an increasingly prominent role in Iraq since 2003, when the US in led an invasion of the country.

Talabani has appealed directly to the Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz to intervene and stop insults against Iraq's revered Shia scholar.

"Insult to Sistani causes division and quarrels that spark the flames in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other countries," he wrote in a letter to the monarch.

Holding considerable influence over Iraqi political developments, the Grand Ayatollah is consulted on major political matters within the country.

Prime Minister al-Maliki last week traveled to the holy city of Najaf to discuss preparations for the March parliamentary elections with Grand Ayatollah.


Karachi: a new resolve to turn against Taliban

By Pamela Constable

January 7, 2010

KARACHI, PAKISTAN -- The bearded clerics who run Jamia Binoria, a large seminary in a shabby industrial zone, might seem to have much in common with the Taliban. They come from the same Deobandi strain of Islam, which rejects Western values and seeks to create a pure Islamic state. They require students to memorize the Koran and live an austere, regimented life steeped in religion.

But the leaders of Jamia Binoria insist that they want nothing to do with the Taliban and regard its members as barbaric extremists. They say the recent surge in Taliban suicide bombings across the country have only complicated their lives, leading Pakistani and Western officials to brand seminaries such as theirs as potential terrorist schools and making it harder for them to chart a course between modern education and traditional faith.

"They say we all teach Kalashnikov culture, but that is a wrong image," said Mufti Muhammad Naeem, the seminary director, who expressed pride in its new computer lab and its large number of female students. "The hard-liners accuse me of being a front for American interests, and the Americans harass me at the airport," he said. "We reject Talibanization and we want to be a model for the future, but we get pressure from all sides."

Karachi, a cosmopolitan port city in far southern Pakistan, seems a far cry from the rugged Taliban sanctuaries of the northwestern tribal belt, but officials say it has often served in recent years as a financial conduit, immigration safety valve and religious pipeline for extremists.

Now, however, the city of 18 million is finding new motives and means to turn against the Taliban, especially after a bombing late last month killed 44 people during a Shiite religious procession. The strong secular party in city hall has made it a priority to rid the area of Taliban influence. And Pashtuns, a large ethnic minority, are facing social and political ostracism because they share linguistic and tribal roots with the Taliban.

Full report at:


UK Muslim TV channel linked to al-Qaida cleric al-Awlaki

10 January 2010

Satellite broadcaster the Islam Channel denies giving a platform to jihadist extremist

A London-based satellite broadcaster that describes itself as "the voice of authority for Muslims in the UK" has been accused of giving a platform to Anwar al-Awlaki, the extremist cleric with alleged links to al-Qaida and to the man charged with trying to blow up a transatlantic jet on Christmas Day.

The Islam Channel, a free-to-air English-language channel that claims to be "a trustworthy source to the two million-plus population of Muslims in the UK", last year carried adverts for a box set of DVDs of Awlaki's sermons and for at least two events at which the cleric was due to be the star speaker via a video link.

The channel's website has allowed visitors to click through to a pooled archive of Islamic scholars, from which they can download sermons by Awlaki, including "Stop Police Terror", "Brutality Towards Muslims" and "It's a War against Islam".

Islamic scholars have expressed concern. "Anwar al-Awlaki is asking all Muslims to unite against the west as Muslims," said Dr Irfan al-Alawi of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism. "He supports jihad to ensnare all naive, young people who get emotionally attached and go on jihadist tirades."

US intelligence agencies claim Awlaki is a key member of al-Qaida. Last week John Brennan, the US deputy national security adviser, said there were "indications" there had been direct contact between Awlaki and Umar Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old former University College London student charged with trying to set off a bomb on a flight bound for Detroit on Christmas Day.

Awlaki has also been linked to an attack by a US army major, Nidal Malik Hasan, last November, in which 13 people died. "Mr Awlaki is a problem," Brennan said. "He's clearly a part of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. He's not just a cleric. He is trying to instigate terrorism."

Awlaki, a US-born engineer-turned-cleric, is now based in Yemen, where some reports suggest he was killed just before Christmas in a strike on a suspected al-Qaida base. His family insist he was not harmed in the raid.

Full report at:


Britain: majority attitudes against Islam are hardening

By Steve Doughty

0th January 2010

The majority of the population believe that Britain is divided by religion, a Government-backed inquiry has found.

And around half of people believe that religious diversity has had a negative impact on the nation.

The warnings on the extent of the divide between Muslims and much of the rest of the country were produced by the British Social Attitudes survey, an annual study produced with funding from Whitehall.

The study underlined the depth of suspicion about Islamic influence now held by many in Britain, finding that only one in four people feel positively about Islam.

The figures also showed that more than half of the population would be strongly opposed to the building or opening of a mosque in their area.

They follow signs in other Government research that majority attitudes against Islam are hardening and that tension over religion is increasing.

The latest findings, to be published in full later this month, come in the wake of the furore over extremist Anjem Choudary's plan to hold a march of Islamists carrying coffins through Wootten Bassett to symbolise Muslims murdered by British forces.

Although Muslim representative bodies have condemned the idea and individual Muslims have underlined their own respect for British soldiers, the Choudary stunt has provoked widespread anger and the risk of a backlash.

The British Social Attitudes findings also follow the Christmas Day airline bombing attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, suspected to have been radicalised while he was president of the Islamic Society at University College London.

The Abdulmuttallab plot has been followed by a new and disruptive wave of security checks for airline passengers.

The Social Attitudes Survey has been produced annually since the early 1980s by leading academics from a detailed poll of more than 4,000 people.

It is followed closely by ministers and findings have been used, for example, to justify Government inaction to shore up the institution of marriage.

Full report at:


Book documents voices of sanity

Shreya Roy Chowdhury

10 January 2010,

Campaigners for Indo-Pak peace — writers, academicians, journalists, activists, retired army personnel from both countries — have, for three decades been organizing civil-society initiatives for peace.

And now their efforts have been documented in a book, Bridging Partition: People’s Initiatives for Peace between India and Pakistan, a collection of 21 essays, set to release Sunday.

The idea behind interactions in Delhi and Lahore over the last two years and the resulting book was “to take stock” of the work done by “those in the business of peace in the last 25 years,” says one of its editors, Lahore-based Mohammad Tahseen.

“Some of these initiatives are as old as Partition itself,” adds Kamla Bhasin, activist, who also edited the book. The alumni of Kinnaird College for Women in Lahore met every year as did a set of bridge partners at the Lahore Gymkhana Club.

Bhasin says “the women in our network have been meeting for 27 years.” NGOs she has worked with have held interactions between peasants and fisherfolk — arrested for unwittingly crossing sea-borders — of both countries.

The essayists include Magsaysay awardees Sandeep Pandey and Laxminarayan Ramdas. Mubashir Hasan, former finance minister under Bhutto, recounts the history of civil society’s peace initiatives. Narendra Panjwani discusses Bollywood’s singular role in bringing people from ‘enemy’ states together. The late Smitu Kothari and Zia Mian of Princeton University have edited the compilation.

It hasn’t been easy going for peaceniks. Most essays mention difficulties in acquiring visas, the endless security checks and police clearances, lack of cooperation of authorities, the suspicion, the foreboding. “We haven’t been a popular voice and have faced a very hostile media,” says Tahseen, of the South Asia Partnership, adding that the Urdu press is especially vicious. But that is changing and now, he says, over 400 NGOs and groups in Pakistan ‘in favour of peace’.

That the situation is improving, Tahseen can gauge even from the attitudes of the immigration officials. “When we started in 1982-83, the immigration officials in Pakistan would hate me for going to India and Indian ones hated me for coming,” he recalls. And now it’s “May God bless you, may you succeed.”


130 Muslim NGOs And RELA To Help Monitor Security Of Churches

10 Jan, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR,  (Bernama) -- One hundred and thirty Muslim Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the People's Volunteer Corp (RELA) are expected to become the 'eyes and ears' of the government to safeguard Christian churches from attacks.

Among the NGOs that volunteered to come forward were Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM), Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association (MACMA), Badan Tarbiah Sejagat (BATAS), Malay Cultural Organizations and Related Bodies Cooperation Network (Pewaris), Pertubuhan Peribumi Perkasa (Perkasa), National Association of Muslim Students (PKPIM), Darussyifa, Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (KIMMA), Persatuan Ulama Malaysia (PUM) and Islamic Information and Services Foundation (IIS).

Through the initiative, 60 volunteers were gathered to help the authorities to monitor security at houses of worship in the klang valley with immediate effect.

PPIM executive secretary Datuk Nadzim Johan who represented the NGOs said the initiative was to help the government ensure peace and safety while the volunteers would quickly inform the RELA or the authorities if there was any suspicious activities at places of worship.

He added that the number of volunteers would be increased soon to ensure the safety of churches in every state and district while a meeting would also be held with non-Muslim NGOs to beef up security.

Nadzim said monitoring would not be restricted to churches alone but mosques and other places of worship as well.

Meanwhile, Selangor RELA director Col. Khairi Mohd Alwee said RELA was committed and ready to offer any services to monitor places of worship in the klang valley.

"We also seek the public's cooperation in informing us if there was any suspicious activities at churches," he said.

He urged those with information to contact 019-2333086 or 019-3591000. --BERNAMA


Stowaway Habib Husain freed

Jan 10, 2010

JAIPUR: Habib Husain, who returned home from Saudi Arabia by hiding himself in a toilet of an Air India flight, was released here on Saturday, after the authorities executed the bail order.

A court here on Thursday granted bail to Habib, but he could not be released the same day, as the order of the Judicial Magistrate, Sanganer, could not be executed.

Habib told reporters that he would never think about Saudi Arabia again.

Leaves for home

Later, Habib left for his home in Uttar Pradesh, along with his relatives.

Habib, working as a cleaner at the Medina airport, was arrested here last month and booked under the Passport Act for boarding the flight on December 25 without ticket and travel documents. — PTI


Pakistani and Indian forces exchange fire at Wagah

10 Jan, 2010

LAHORE, Jan 9: Border security forces of Pakistan and India exchanged heavy gunfire after several explosions in the Wagah sector late on Friday night.

The exchange of fire started after some blasts took place on the Indian side of the border.

The Border Security Force of India alleged that rockets were fired by Pakistani forces at about 11:30pm.

A spokesman for Pakistan Rangers, Nadeem Raza, told Dawn that at least four blasts took place around 11:35pm near the border on the Indian side (Attari). Within minutes gunfire broke out.

He said the BSF first fired with light weapons, followed by mortar shells. Rangers returned the fire.

The exchange continued till 2am and finally the Rangers’ Wing Commander held an emergency flag meeting with the BSF around 2:30am, according to the spokesman.

Rangers denied allegations by the BSF that rockets were fired from Pakistan.

He said both sides had agreed to investigate the skirmish and to cease fire.

The spokesman termed the happenings a pre-planned Indian propaganda against Pakistan, saying Indian media surprisingly released footage of the blasts after 10 minutes.

“How they can cover the incident from Zero Line and making footage, especially when dense fog prevailed,” Mr Nadeem wondered.

Both forces had earlier traded the similar allegations a few months ago after blasts and an exchange of fire at the Wagah sector in the night.



US airstrike kills five in Pakistan

IANS, 10 January 2010,

SLAMABAD: At least five suspected militants were killed in a US drone attack on a Taliban hideout in Pakistan's restive North Waziristan tribal district, media reports said on Sunday.

Six other insurgents were wounded when two missiles fired from a pilotless aircraft struck a compound in Ismailkhel village on Saturday night, English-language The News daily reported.

The newspaper cited unnamed sources as saying that the men killed and wounded in the raid were thought to be affiliated with local tribal leader, Hafiz Gul Bahadur.

The airstrike was the second in two days. At least five Taliban militants were killed on Friday when two missiles struck their vehicle near Miranshah, main town of North Waziristan district.

The US has stepped up airstrikes inside Pakistan's tribal belt, which it says is used by the Taliban and al-Qaida members to plan and launch deadly assaults on Western forces fighting the insurgency in Afghanistan.

Islamabad publicly opposes the drone attacks, but analysts believe the government has an undisclosed agreement with Washington over the issue.

The strikes, which have killed several insurgents including some leaders, stoke up anti-American sentiment among many Pakistanis, who describe the raids as violation of national sovereignty.

However, US officials say the attacks are vital to dismantling the insurgent network.

"We believe that, as I have stated and as our government has stated, that it is one of many tools that we must use to try to defeat a very determined and terrible enemy," US Senator John McCain said in Islamabad.


Pak girls turn suicide bombers

10 January 2010,

Peshawar: Two teenage girls, who claimed that they had been prepared by the Taliban for conducting suicide attacks, were on Saturday introduced to the media by Pakistani authorities in the restive Swat valley.

The girls, identified only as Rabia (16) and Arifa (14), were clad in burqas. They said they had committed the “biggest mistake of their life” by volunteering for suicide missions with the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Swat led by radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah.

Rabia, a student of Class 7, and Arifa, a student of Class 6, belong to a village in the scenic Madyan valley, which was a Taliban stronghold till the army launched an operation against the militants last year.

The girls said they were impressed by sermons broadcast on illegal FM radio channels by Taliban leaders, including Fazlullah, and decided to become suicide bombers.

They claimed they had then “registered” their names with the local unit of the Taliban. They said that they had been made to believe that they would go straight to heaven after carrying out suicide attacks. They added that they changed their minds when they learnt that the Taliban were destroying schools. PTI


India and the world love Pakistan’s brave new cinema

Avijit Ghosh

10 January 2010

Pakistan’s mainstream film industry, better known as Lollywood, may have fallen on hard times. But in recent years, an exciting bunch of off-beat

Pakistan's brave new cinema movies by independent filmmakers has been showcased across the world.

These films aren’t regular Lollywood masala. Director Shoaib Mansoor’s internationally acclaimed Khuda Kay Liye (2007) depicted the plight of Muslims in post-9/11 US and also showed how liberal-minded Pakistani youths were brainwashed by radical clerics. Zibahkhana (2007), literally meaning, the slaughterhouse, was Pakistan’s first GenNow flick. The story of five friends who take a shortcut to a music concert through a jungle only to face ghoulish zombies was much discussed in horror film festivals and earned two international awards as well.

Ramchand Pakistani (2008) told the true story of an eight-year-old Pakistani Dalit boy and his father who accidentally crossed into India. Their life in a Gujarat jail formed the narrative’s core. In the 2008 Osian’s film festival, director Muhammed Saife had shown his digital film, Victoria’s Ticket, which was about an eight-year-old boy, his mother and an old stamp collector.

Now, Slackistan, a small-budget venture made by debutant Hammad Khan, is all set for an international release in 2010. It offers a peep show into the lifestyles of the young and the wealthy in Islamabad. Even in the times of terror, their cocooned lives revolve around swank automobiles, booze and flashing disco lights. The promotional blurb of the film is: Think you know Pakistan. Think again.

Full report at:


Al Qaeda in Yemen is extension of its core from Pak: US

January 08, 2010

Al Qaeda in Yemen is an extension of the terror outfit's core coming out of Pakistan, a top Obama Administration official has said.

"Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is an extension of al Qaeda core coming out of Pakistan. And, in my view, it is one of the most lethal and one of the most concerning of it," Assistant to the US President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, John Brennan told reporters at a White House briefing.

He said that they have moved forward to try to execute this attack against the homeland.

"I think (they) demonstrated to us that we had a strategic sense of sort of where they were going, but we did not know they had progressed to the point of actually launching individuals here. We have taken that lesson, and so now we are full on top of it," Brennan said.

The US official termed the Nigerian terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as a terrorist, who unsuccessfully tried to blow up a NorthWest Airlines plane on December 25 over Detroit with some 300 people on board.

"He is a terrorist now," said Brennan.

Abdulmutallab has been charged with blowing up a US plane on December 25.


Blast in Afghanistan Kills 3, Including British Journalist

10 January 2010

Four other Marines were reported to be seriously wounded in the blast

British officials say a roadside blast in southern Afghanistan has killed a British journalist, a U.S. Marine and an Afghan soldier.

Britain's Defense Ministry says Rupert Hamer, the defense correspondent for Britain's Sunday Mirror  newspaper, was killed and photographer Philip Coburn was seriously wounded when the vehicle they were traveling in with U.S. Marines hit a makeshift bomb on Saturday.

Four other Marines were reported to be seriously wounded in the blast.

Meanwhile, U.S. and Afghan authorities have signed a deal that is expected to transfer responsibility for the U.S.-run detention facility at Bagram Air Base by the end of the year.

Afghanistan's Defense Ministry announced Saturday that Afghan troops will soon begin training to take over the investigation, detention and trials of inmates. 

The site, near Kabul, has been used to hold detainees since the U.S.-led offensive in Afghanistan began in 2001.

U.S. troops were accused of beating two prisoners to death at Bagram in 2002.  Human rights groups have criticized the United States for detaining inmates for lengthy periods of time without charge.

About 700 detainees are being held at Bagram.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP .


British journalist killed in Afghanistan

10 Jan, 2010

Filed Under: Media killings, Explosion, Armed conflict

LONDON – A British journalist was killed and another seriously injured in an explosion in Afghanistan, which happened when they were embedded with US marines, Britain's Ministry of Defence said Sunday.

Rupert Hamer, defense correspondent for the Sunday Mirror newspaper, died when an improvised explosive device (IED) blew up as he accompanied a US Marine Corps patrol near Nawa, southern Afghanistan Saturday.

A photographer from the newspaper, Philip Coburn, was hurt in the explosion and was "in a serious but stable condition", the ministry said.

It added that a US marine and a member of the Afghan National Army also died in the blast, while four other US marines were seriously injured.

Defense Secretary Bob Ainsworth paid tribute to Hamer, saying news of his death had caused "great sadness".

"Both Rupert Hamer and Phil Coburn accompanied me on my most recent trip to Afghanistan," he said. "I got to know them well and I was impressed by their hard work and professionalism...”

"The sacrifice of service personnel is well documented and rightly respected, but this news demonstrates the risks also faced by journalists who keep the public informed of events on the front line,” Ainsworth said


Israel demolishes 20 houses in West Bank: witnesses

Sunday, January 10, 2010

JERUSALEM: The Israeli army on Sunday demolished 20 houses in the northern West Bank after evacuating some 40 families who were living there, Palestinian witnesses said.

The houses were in the farming village of Tana near Nablus in the so-called Area C, a closed military zone where Israel exercises full control.

Residents said the army had told them to evacuate the buildings a month ago.

It was not immediately clear why the houses were destroyed, and the military did not immediately comment on the incident.


Somali Islamists: A potential ally?

By Dr Afyare Abdi Elmi

January 10, 2010

There are some huge misunderstandings within the international community about the role that Islam and Somalia's Islamists should play in the governance of Somali society and the de-radicalisation efforts.

I believe that the presence of a large number of Islamists is not bad in itself. To the contrary, this provides a great opportunity as most of Somalia's Islamists are neither extremists nor international jihadists and they should be seen as the best ally in defeating piracy and extremism.

Islam has deep roots in Somalia. Most Somalis believe that the message of Islam was spread to Somalia peacefully before it even reached Medina, Islam's first capital city.

Moreover, Somali clans took part in the religious wars that raged throughout history between Muslims and Christians in the Horn of Africa.

Islamic identity and Somali identity cannot be separated.

Indeed, the guerrilla war fought against British imperialism from 1899 to 1920 was led by a nationalist, Sayid Mohamed Abdulle Hassan, known in the West as the Mad Mullah. He combined nationalist imagery with Islamic devotion.

Political Islam

That said, political Islam in today's Somalia - or what it is often called Sahwa Islamiya (Islamic awakening) - is relatively new and poorly understood by the international community.

The phenomenon of political Islam is as divided as the country's clan structure and there are competing narratives on how it began, although most believe that Somali students who went to the Middle East to pursue their education came back with the message of Islamic awakening and started propagating it in the 1960s.

Full report at:


CIA bomber had shared US secrets with militants

Jan 10, 2010

A PAKISTAN television station on Saturday showed the suicide bomber who killed CIA agents in Afghanistan sitting with a Taliban leader and reported he shared US and Jordanian secrets with militants.

AAJ television showed a video of the Jordanian bomber, Humam Khalil Abu- Mulal al- Balawi, speaking in English and sitting beside Pakistan Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud.

Jordanian and American intelligence had offered al- Balawi millions of dollars in exchange for spying on the mujahideen militants.

“ But he rejected wealth and joined the mujahideen,” the AAJ said of Balawi.

The channel, identifying the bomber by his online name, Abu Dujana al- Khorasani, quoted him as saying he had shared all secrets of Jordanian and American intelligence with his companions.

If the video is verified, it will point to massive intelligence failures by the US and Jordan, one of its most important West Asian allies.

It was not clear when or where the video was taken but the presence of Mehsud would suggest it was taken in Pakistan.

That will lead to even more US pressure on Pakistan to eliminate militant sanctuaries in its lawless northwest.

At the same time, Pakistan is likely to feel vindicated by the video which would appear to show that the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack on the US’s Central Intelligence Agency ( CIA), following claims of responsibility by it and several other groups.

Pakistan has long argued that it should focus on fighting the Pakistani Taliban and cannot afford to open up new fronts against Afghan Taliban factions, whose members cross the border to attack Western forces in Afghanistan.

Mehsud lost all his main bases in his South Waziristan bastion in a Pakistani offensive launched in mid- October.

His whereabouts are not known but he is believed to have fled from South Waziristan to seek shelter with allies, possibly in North Waziristan.

Balawi, a former doctor, appeared in the video wearing a traditional Pakistani and Afghan hat.

A black banner behind him read: “ There is no God but Allah. Mohammad is the Prophet of Allah.” He said he had quit his profession and family for the sake of mujahideen, said the AAJ. Al- Qaeda’s Afghan wing had claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, the second- most deadly attack in CIA history.

It said the attack was revenge for the deaths of militant leaders, including Mehsud’s predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone aircraft strike in Pakistan in August last year.

Strong links between a double agent who managed to outfox the CIA and one of the Arab world’s best intelligence agencies and Mehsud would suggest Pakistan’s battle against the Taliban could be far more complex.

The video, if authentic, will be further confirmation of how close the Pakistani Taliban and al- Qaeda are now.

“ I think this man basically belongs to al- Qaeda. His appearance with Hakimullah Mehsud in a video shows how al- Qaeda and the Taliban are closely linked,” Mehmood Shah, former security chief of Pakistani tribal areas, said.

Followers of Mehsud, who is seen as a particularly brutal leader, already pose a stiff challenge to the Pakistani state, despite the offensive which has been hailed as a major blow against the Taliban.

The Taliban have extended their reach from strongholds in the northwest along the forbidding border with Afghanistan to major cities, including the commercial capital Karachi.

Bombings have killed hundreds of people since October.

Speculation has been growing that Afghan Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani’s network may have played a role in the attack on the CIA. Islamabad has resisted US pressure to attack the Haqqani network, which is entrenched in a border enclave opposite the Afghan province of Khost, where the CIA agents were killed.

The Haqqani network is allied with the Taliban and believed to be closely linked to al- Qaeda and the architect of several highprofile attacks in Afghanistan.

Pakistan see Haqqani — who had long- standing links with Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter- Services Intelligence ( ISI) — as a valuable asset in Afghanistan if US troops leave, as Pakistan anticipates, before the country is stabilised. -- Reuters


Grave site stresses Middle East tension

Hadeel Al-Shalchi

January 10, 2010

At the cemetery where the prophet Muhammad's family is buried, an Iranian Shiite Muslim pilgrim overcome with emotion was grabbed by a Saudi soldier, who barked a sharp order: "Stop crying!"

The soldier, a gun at his hip, then hovered over the pilgrim as he wrapped up his prayers to make sure he didn't start weeping again.

The Baqee cemetery is where the bitter rivalry between Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran gets personal. Iranians and other Shiites flock to the graves to pay respects to several revered descendants of Islam's prophet, while Saudi soldiers and morality police try to prevent dramatic displays of fervent praying or weeping.

Shiites' prayer books are snatched away, they are ordered to read only Saudi-approved verses written on billboards at the site, and groups of worshipers are broken up.

Part of the reason for the heavy restrictions is religious. Saudi Arabia's strict version of Sunni Islam, called Wahhabism, considers customs like crying - or even praying - at grave sites and revering saints repugnant because it smacks of idolatry. In fact, many Wahhabi clerics consider Shiites heretics.

But beyond the religious practices lies politics.

The two countries have been locked in a struggle for influence across the Middle East. Saudi forces have been fighting for more than a month with Shiite rebels on the border with Yemen. Saudi Arabia claims the rebels are backed by Tehran and accuses Iran of fueling conflicts in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Iraq with its support for militant groups.

Saudi Arabia, an oil-rich U.S. ally, also appears increasingly worried over Iran's nuclear standoff with the West. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal expressed rare direct concern over Iran's nuclear program in a recent interview with Western media - prompting angry comments by some Iranian officials for the kingdom to stay out of its business.

Mahdi Habibolahi, an Iranian who visited the Baqee after performing his hajj pilgrimage in December, sees a message in the harassment he and fellow Shiites face.

"Maybe they want to give us a warning, that you are different, you should be careful, you shouldn't interfere (in the region's politics)," said Habibolahi, an English teacher.

The Baqee is on a large piece of land in front of the mosque that encloses the prophet's tomb in the holy city of Medina. Locked behind high marble walls and iron gates in the Baqee lie thousands of relatives, companions and descendants of the prophet - including four "imams," the saint-like figures that Shiites believe should have been the successors of Muhammad as leaders of the Islamic world.

Full report at:


A joint venture for peace is the way to go

Iqbal Haider

10 January 2010

In the most gloomy atmosphere around us in Pakistan, we had no reason to celebrate New Year’s Eve. The morning of Jan 1, 2010, however, gave us a pleasant surprise when we read that the editors of the Jang group in Pakistan and of the Times of India group have taken a bold initiative to join hands for promotion of peace, economic prosperity, education and health much needed by the one-and-half-billion people of our two countries.

This was not the only good news on Jan 1. The civil society in Pakistan, realising the importance of peace had also observed a solidarity day under the banner of “Aman Ittehad” and took out rallies in more than 35 cities of Pakistan, attended by exuberant citizens despite a hartaal in Sindh and fear of the terrorists. These demonstrations once again vindicated the burning desire of the people for peace.

I can state with confidence that the ordinary people of India equally desire peace with the same keenness, desire and spirit. It is for this reason that supporters of peace in India have once again convened a conference in New Delhi on Jan 10 in search of “A Road Map Towards Peace.” We greatly appreciate this initiative of the intellectuals, leaders, human right activists, NGOs, journalists and other people, including former Indian PM I K Gujral and Kuldip Nayar, a former member of the Rajya Sabha, who are two of the hosts of this meet.

The vast majority of the people do agree that war is not the solution. Over the past 62 years, the three wars with India and two battles of Siachen (1987) and Kargil (1999) couldn’t help in any way. Pakistan is already at an unending war for the past over three years, with the worst enemies — the terrorists within. I hope all thinking sections of the public in India would appreciate that, now or in future, Pakistan cannot afford to indulge in any aggressive designs or adventurism against India. Hence, there is nothing to fear from Pakistan.

Not only were the wars in the past six decades destructive, but equally counterproductive and destructive was the strategy to promote jihad and jihadi organisations in Pakistan, on the pretext of keeping the Kashmir issue alive. The activities of the jihadis and extremist militant religious terrorist in the past three decades have only resulted in further loss of life, places of worship and properties not only of the Kashmiris but more so in Pakistan. The so-called jihad could not force India to budge an inch or motivate any country, including our closest allies, to pressure India to resolve the issue peacefully. Nor was the Indian economy or its image damaged by the jihadis in any significant manner. On the contrary, it is Pakistan that is bleeding profusely on account of the undeclared, endless war unleashed from within by the terrorists.

Full report at:


We are at war, says Obama

January 09, 2010

In a short, stern address, US President Barack Obama sought on Thursday to assure the nation that he is moving swiftly to correct the intelligence failures that allowed a man allegedly carrying explosives to board a commercial airliner on Christmas Day.

But he also warned that threats posed by “a nimble adversary” will require more time and money to eliminate.

Obama used the word “immediate” half a dozen times in a roughly 12-minute speech made in the White House’s State Dining Room — at one point, twice in the same sentence — to convey a sense of urgency that critics say he lacked in the days after the attempted bombing. He also spoke sharply for the second time in as many days about the “systemic failures” that allowed a 23-year-old Nigerian, whose father had warned U.S. authorities about his son’s radical interpretation of Islam, to board a Detroit-bound airliner in Amsterdam, allegedly with explosives under his clothes.

Obama said he was less interested in “passing out blame” than in correcting mistakes, and he made clear that senior intelligence officials will be overseeing reforms rather than looking for new jobs.

But Obama, more than in his previous remarks about the incident, also held himself accountable as the nation’s commander-in-chief for the near catastrophe that unfolded during his Christmas vacation, saying: “Ultimately, the buck stops with me.” The set of technical reforms designed to better track suspected terrorists and enhance airline security that he outlined at the start of his speech gave way to a stark reminder that “we are at war.”

“Here at home, we will strengthen our defenses, but we will not succumb to a siege mentality that sacrifices the open society and liberties and values that we cherish as Americans,” Obama said.

"In Exclusive Partnership with The Washington Post. For additional content  please visit www."


Militants making a comeback in Kashmir

Shujaat Bukhari

January 9, 2010

Jammu and Kashmir may see more violence in the coming months as the militants have successfully regrouped themselves and there is qualitative shift in their handling and strategy.

The renewed effort on their part is becoming possible with the increasing support of locals.

These impressions are from internal deliberations taking place within various security agencies operating in the State. The past few weeks have witnessed some major strikes by militants in north Kashmir, where four CRPF personnel were killed last week. It was followed by some targeted civilian killings in that area. But it did not stop there and they managed to travel to Srinagar and attacked security personnel in Lal Chowk.

Reports being gathered by various intelligence agencies have painted a grim picture ahead especially when the snow melts in the spring. Defence Minister A.K. Antony also confirmed on Saturday that a large number of militants were waiting across the border. “Even now there are a large number of terrorists waiting along the border to infiltrate into Kashmir. This is a matter of serious concern because Pakistan is not doing anything in this regard,” he told reporters.

His views are corroborated here by the officials who say that infiltration never stopped. Police sources say that there were 389 attempts of infiltration from across the border in 2009. In these attempts, 62 militants were killed and 16 arrested. “So roughly not less than 300 militants might have managed to sneak in even if one deducts the killed and the arrested one,” a top official said, adding that concern on these lines is justified.

Going by the attacks in Sopore and other parts of north Kashmir, the security brass is gearing up to neutralise their offensive. “But the real problem is that they are getting local support,” admits the official. He cited the spontaneous support two militants holed up in Punjab Hotel got when a group of youth shouted “ Mujahido aagey bado hum tumharey saath hein” (militants go ahead we are with you). Similarly, a strike was observed in Sopore on Friday in protest against the killing of one of the militants in the Lal Chowk encounter. The support, one top security official said, was linked to the political problem in Kashmir.

Inspector-General of Police Kashmir zone Farooq Ahmad admitted that militants had made a comeback. “Intercepts also reveal that they have managed to regroup here,” he told The Hindu. About the groups which are active, he said, “mainly it is Lashkar-e-Taiba.”

“We are ready to fight them out only people should cooperate,” he says.

Full report at:


So dignified, so British... the Muslims who put Mr Choudary to shame

By Peter Hitchens

09th January 2010

Every few weeks I stand by an Oxfordshire roadside and watch as the coffins of dead British soldiers are slowly driven by.

It is one of many places along that sad highway where people quietly and modestly assemble to show that these deaths matter to them.

This was the original point of the gatherings in Wootton Bassett, now distorted by TV coverage – quite against the will of those involved – into a self-conscious national event.

There’s nothing like this at the spot where I stand, and I hope it stays that way. It is moving largely because it is not political.

I have no idea of the opinions of the hundred or so people who turn out, often in filthy weather, to show their respect for chivalry, courage and sacrifice, and their proper awe of death.

When we chat before the hearses arrive, we do not discuss such things.

I hate the Afghan War, but when the coffins go by I am at one with the man standing next to me who, for alI I know, supports it with all his heart.

I suspect we feel mainly that these young men are coming home and need to be welcomed and honoured, and that their families need to know that their unbearable loss has not gone unnoticed.

We feel, in short, that a country where nobody could be bothered to stand by the roadside for its dead soldiers wouldn’t be worth living in.

So of course I think to Hell with Mr Anjem Choudary and his plan to stage a political parade through Wootton Bassett.

Mind you, I also suspect that he is just a publicity-seeking phoney blowhard who speaks for almost nobody and who wants me to write about him. So normally I wouldn’t.

I’m unmoved by all these fanatics with their wild sermons and their beards.

What concerns me is that we have trashed our own patriotism and make so little effort to encourage normal Muslim citizens of this country to become British and share our pride, or our sorrow.

Full report at:


Muslims Unity Non-negotiable, Says Sultan

From Tunde Sanni in Ibadan


Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad has declared that he remains committed to the unity of the Muslim Ummah in the country.

The monarch, who was speaking at the formal opening of the 58th Islamic Vacation Course (IVC) organised by the B Zone of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), identified lack of knowledge and poverty as the bedrock of social vices in the country. He urged Muslims to seek advanced knowledge about their faith and the world around them to combat the vices.

The Sultan stated that with the efforts of the society, he was confident the unity of the Ummah, which peaked last year during the Sallah festivities would be consolidated such that Muslims from across the country would continue to relate with themselves irrespective of their geographical divide.

He however, admonished Muslim youths to be guided by the virtues of the Islamic religion in their interaction with one another, especially non-Muslims.

Abubakar, who is also the President General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) hinted that more havoc could be wrecked by an uninformed Muslim, insisting that Muslims should learn more.

He lamented the level of poverty especially among Muslim women and tasked wealthy individuals and philanthropists to come to the rescue by offering scholarships to indigent but brilliant female Muslim students in the field of Medicine and Engineering.

He reminded the youths at the holiday camp that the exercise was not about jamboree but designed to equip them with more knowledge about their faith.

The chairman of the occasion, Mallam Yusuf Alli (SAN) commended the Sultan for his team-playing role in forging unity among Muslims in the country and tasked him to sustain the tempo of a united Muslim Ummah in the country.

In his lecture, Prof. AbdulRasak Kilani of the University of Port Harcourt lamented the spread of religious extremists groups among Muslims, tasking parents to be mindful of the literatures and other education materials their possession.


Sharjah Police Arrest International Gang

Afkar Abdullah

10 January 2010

SHARJAH - An international gang comprising 15 Arab and Asian members who specialised in robbing parts of heavy trucks, forklifts and heavy equipment were recently arrested by the Sharjah Police

According to a Sharjah Police official, the gang would go about dismantling stolen equipment and then arrange to have them smuggled them out of the country through their contacts abroad.

“Huge efforts were made by Sharjah Police and the Ministry of Interior to arrest the gang members and we succeeded aborting the plan of the gang in smuggling dismantled parts of heavy trucks and other heavy equipment placed at container at ports in the UAE and other countries,” the official said.

“The majority of the gang members,” he added,  ‘live in the UAE and collaborate with others abroad who purchase the stolen items,” the official said.

During interrogation it was revealed that one of the suspects owned a workshop for repairing heavy equipment and two others were working in cargo companies and shops for used cars spare parts.

“We coordinated with the Ministry of Interior and the Ports authorities where the containers were smuggled. The majority of the stolen cargo have been returned to the original owners,” the official added.


Nazims’ reign ends in Balochistan

By Saleem Shahid

Sunday, 10 Jan, 2010

QUETTA, Jan 9: The Balochistan assembly on Saturday unanimously adopted a bill to amend the Balochistan Local Government Act, empowering the provincial government to replace district, town, tehsil nazims and deputy nazims with administrators.

The bill was tabled by the Minister for Local Government, Abdul Khaliq Bashardost, after deliberations at a parliamentary party meeting of coalition partners in the provincial government. The meeting was presided over by Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani.

The bill was supposed to be tabled in the assembly during the first winter session on Jan 4, but because of some reservations of JUI-F about the appointment of administrators, it was delayed.

The JUI-F’s reservations were removed after discussions in the parliamentary party meeting.

The house adopted the bill in 10 minutes after it was tabled by the minister because no member opposed it. The act will come into force with immediate effect.

The act enables the provincial government to dissolve local bodies, remove district and town nazims and appoint administrators in their places. It calls for holding of local bodies elections in Balochistan within a year.

The bill was introduced in the house with an objective to ensure transparency in the coming local bodies’ elections because, according to some political parties, the existing form is not suitable for holding an impartial election.

The Balochistan cabinet had already approved the dissolution of local bodies and appointment of administrators in place of nazims at a meeting on Dec 24.

The text of the bill follows:

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Ordinance, for the purpose of holding next elections to the local governments, all Zila Councils, Town Councils, Tehsil Councils and Union Councils shall stand dissolved on the date notified by the government.

(2) Consequent upon dissolution of the Local Councils under Sub-Section (1) all Nazims, Naib Nazims, Members of Local Councils shall cease to hold their respective offices.

(3) The Government may appoint Administrators to perform the functions of the Nazim and respective Local Council as assigned to them under the Ordinance.

(4) As soon as may be, but not later than one year from the dissolution of Local Councils under Sub-Section (1), the Government shall hold elections to the new Local Councils.

In order to ensure transparency and impartiality in the forthcoming local government elections, it is imperative to empower the Provincial Government to dissolve Local Councils and appoint Government Officers as Administrators.

The Balochistan cabinet has empowered the government to dissolve the existing Local Councils and appoint government officers as administrators.


Kashmiris hold protest outside UN office

10 Jan, 2010

SRINAGAR, Jan 9: Hundreds of Kashmiris held a protest against Indian occupation on Saturday outside a UN office in Srinagar, accusing the police of shooting a teenaged Muslim, witnesses said.

The protesters said the 16-year-old boy was fatally injured in firing by police during an anti-India demonstration on Friday. The boy died in hospital on Saturday.

The protesters -- who defied a police ban on demonstrations -- marched to the UN office and shouted anti-India slogans, witnesses said.

The UN centre in Srinagar houses personnel who monitor violations of a ceasefire by India and Pakistan along the Line of Control, the de facto border which divides Kashmir between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

The demonstrators blocked a street and demanded action against the officers alleged to have shot him.—AFP


A Rise in Philippine Pre-Vote Security


January 10, 2010

MANILA — A nationwide gun ban in the Philippines took effect on Sunday to prevent an increase in political violence before elections scheduled for May, officials said.

The move calls for officials to establish over 3,500 checkpoints — at least 90 of them in Manila — to be manned by 100,000 soldiers and police officers.

Police officials said 18 people were arrested on Sunday for carrying firearms.

“Most of them said they were not aware that the gun ban was already in effect, but that is not an excuse,” said Leonardo Espina, a police spokesman. He said charges would be filed against the violators.

Under the terms of the ban, civilians are not allowed to carry firearms outside of their homes even if they are licensed.

Only uniformed police officers or soldiers on duty are authorized to carry guns, and even off-duty police officers with firearms will be subject to arrest, Mr. Espina said. Three police officers, a navy enlisted man and a prison warden were among those detained on Sunday, The Associated Press reported.

Politicians are prohibited from hiring bodyguards during the election period and are likewise prohibited from possessing firearms as they campaign around the country.

The Commission on Elections will have direct command of the police and the military at the checkpoints during the election period. The commission also has command of the military and the police in towns and provinces that are designated “hot spots,” areas considered vulnerable to violence during the election season.

Although campaigning officially starts in February and ends before Election Day, May 10, the gun ban will remain in effect until June 9.

Elections in the Philippines are almost always violent, mainly because of the dominance of political dynasties, the presence of nearly 70 private armies and militias, and the proliferation of what are called loose firearms — mostly unlicensed and unregistered weapons.

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Local Islamic council to discuss al-Faisal's return


January 10, 2010

LEADERS of Islamic communities across the island will be meeting today to discuss strategies to monitor Jamaican-born Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal, who will be deported to the island following his arrest in Kenya on New Year's Eve by anti-terrorist agencies.

Among the other things to be deliberated, according to president of the Islamic Council of Jamaica Mustafa Muhammad, will be measures to more effectively screen prospective members.

"In this meeting we are going to try and put things in place because we have to understand now that things have changed dramatically, especially with this young misguided man from Nigeria who tried to blow up this plane," said Muhammad in reference to 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who attempted to blow up a Detroit-bound North West airlines flight on Christmas Day. The young man was allegedly influenced by al-Faisal's teachings.

Muhammad, who made it clear that al-Faisal was not a member of the council, said members of the local Muslim community, which comprises some 4,500 members, were on edge since learning of the recent events.

"We should not believe here in Jamaica that we are immune to being infiltrated by these deviant persons. So one of the things that I definitely will be trying to emphasise tomorrow (today) is that we have to be more vigilant than in the past. We [will no longer] accept a person just like that because they come and say that they are Muslim, and such the like, especially if they are coming from outside of Jamaica," he said.

The council president is already anticipating objections to the censureship of members, much like those he encountered in 2007 when he had first called for the banning of al-Faisal from preaching in mosques in the island following the cleric's deportation from England. However, he said that the group was able to work together to successfully monitor al-Faisal.

"I can tell you that since the incident has broken, a lot of the persons have come to me saying now they are fully comprehending why I did what I did in 2007, so they are asking me if any dramatic changes will be made," he said.

This is not the first time the Muslim community has had disagreements about al-Faisal. Some members disapproved when the now controversial Muslim cleric was granted a scholarship to study in Saudi Arabia as a teen, mere months after joining the Muslim community.

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Anti-Muslim images are protected speech, Minn. officials say

By The Associated Press

January 10, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS — Two Minnesota prosecutors have decided not to file charges against a man who authorities say admitted posting anti-Muslim images near a mosque and a Somali-owned store, saying the cartoons are protected under the First Amendment.

The posters put up last month in the St. Cloud area depicted the Prophet Muhammad engaged in bestiality and other obscene images, and an Islamic crescent with a swastika inside it. While some in the community say there should be legal consequences, the chief prosecutors in both counties where the cartoons were found said they must be considered free speech.

Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall called it a “classic First Amendment case.”

“Religious criticism is protected under the First Amendment, even if the criticism is misguided and offensive,” Benton County Attorney Robert Raupp told the Associated Press. “This individual articulated to the police his criticisms of Islam, and that’s what he was trying to convey here.”

St. Cloud Police Sgt. Martin Sayre said the man told investigators he downloaded the cartoons off the Internet. The man has not been identified, and Raupp said he has not hired a lawyer.

City attorney Jan Petersen said his office is analyzing the case and could still charge the man with a simple misdemeanor. Mayor Dave Kleis said he thought the man should face legal consequences.

“When people do something like this, they’re doing it because they want to create some kind of reaction,” Kleis said. “So they should be ready for the consequences.”

Mohamoud Mohamed, who leads the St. Cloud Area Somali Salvation Organization, said the cartoons demonstrate a violent mindset and that the city’s sizable Somali population would be disappointed if the man avoids charges. He said it would at least allow Muslim members of the community the chance to educate him.

“To make him better understand how things are related, and who we worship and things like that, will be very helpful for a person like this,” Mohamed said.

St. Cloud has struggled for years to quell occasional flare-ups of racial and religious bias, most recently when someone scrawled a series of swastikas in public spots around the campus of St. Cloud State University in late 2007 and early 2008.

In that case, authorities said a freshman student confessed. But Petersen, the city attorney, said at the time that his actions were protected by the First Amendment and did not merit charges.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations intends to hold a community meeting in St. Cloud this month to discuss the most recent incident. Kleis said he agreed to co-sponsor the event. “We need to be a respectful, welcoming city for all,” he said.

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