Poetry contests in
How democracy loses its footing in
Under Obama, `war on terror' catchphrase fading
Obama and the War on Terror -- the real thing
Why Obama’s Message is Not Complete by Samar Fatany
Muslims should see
In Kufa, Shiites bemoan Sadr movement's diminished role
Iran Detains Three Women’s Activists - Campaigner
Fighting violence against women Katherine Bradstreet
Smoking still popular despite Ulema edict by Kyle Taylor
Islamic association seeks to teach Americans about the Quran
Women refuse refuge due to nearby mosque by Esther Harward
Small US bank goes Islamic
Slain Exile Detailed Chechen Ruler’s Systematic Cruelty by C. J. Chivers
Ghaza: Muslim world showers praise on Turkish PM
Some see Mumbai terrorism as an attack on India-Israel ties By Peter Spiegel
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
One in 10 inmates behind bars turns to Islam
"Prison Muslims" fastest growing religious group in the
By Krista J. Kapralos
"Movement is now open."
Men wearing baggy navy-blue sweatshirts and loose-fitting pants or jeans drifted from one building to the next. They ambled along, laughing with one another and gulping in fresh air. It's free time, when prisoners who are being held for rape, burglary, murder and other crimes can attend classes or read in the library.
A small group of men, many wearing crocheted skullcaps, filed into a windowless room. They tug off their shoes and ease down cross-legged on thin rugs that have been spread on the floor for the service.
Prison is a tomb or a womb, they say. Either a man wastes his years on the inside and allows bitterness to rot his soul, or he uses the time to quiet the rage or fear or desperation that landed him in prison. Anthony Waller, like many Muslims at Twin Rivers, converted to the faith while behind bars. That changed everything, he said.
"If I wasn't a Muslim I'd still be in closed custody," Waller, 31, said, referring to prison facilities that strictly control prisoners with violent pasts.
"Or, I'd be dead," he said.
Waller, who doesn't expect to see freedom until 2033, attends a Muslim prison service every week with dozens of other men who have converted to the faith since being locked away. These "prison Muslims" are among the fastest-growing religious groups in
A movement that began in the 1970s under Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to evangelize inmates has evolved into one of the most effective religious rehabilitation agendas in the U.S. Imams under the Nation of Islam continue to draw converts, but most Muslims in prison today are Sunnis, said Lawrence Mamiya, a professor at Vassar College who has studied Muslim prison ministries.
Mamiya estimates that about 10 percent of all prison inmates have converted to Islam. Using his estimate, about 1,800 of the state's 18,000 inmates would be Muslim.
About 1 percent of
For most men behind bars, their conversion is temporary. Just one in five who convert to Islam while in prison continue on in that faith once they are released, Mamiya said.
That makes experts wonder whether "Prison Islam" isn't a religious movement but a convenient infrastructure for a prison gang that affords members special privileges, including rugs and sticks of incense for their cells.
Chaplains who supervise Muslim services say most men are genuine in their faith.
As of August, Muslim inmates in
Meals specially prepared for religious inmates are usually better quality than standard fare, said Walter Taylor, a 32-year-old inmate in
Before the prisons began serving halal meals,
He has also registered as a Wiccan for the privilege of having scented oils in his cell.
"Then I became a Sikh so I could get a turban," he said, motioning to the thin skullcap he wears to Muslim services.
Each privilege is necessary to fully practice Islam, said Taylor, who converted to the faith in prison 11 years ago -- about a year after he was incarcerated. He began studying Arabic about four years ago, and said he is now fluent. Other Muslims in the
A 2006 report by
Most of the inmates who convert to Islam are African-American, and are attracted to Islam for its discipline and belief in equality, said Faheem Siddiq, a longtime planner for the city of
Terrorist plots have been hatched in prisons, but that is a problem largely in
"With African-Americans, it's very different," Mamiya said. "They have their own problems they want to concentrate on."
Muslim communities in prisons also provide some of the same benefits of gangs, Mamiya said. They protect one another, but they don't "demand extortion in order to be initiated," he said.
"Many of the men don't like the idea of the Christian 'turning the other cheek,' " Mamiya said. "Islam emphasizes self-defense as an ethic, so they prefer that."
There is also a strong sense of responsibility and discipline.
"In Christianity, Jesus Christ died for sins,"
Taylor and other Muslims say they pray five times each day. The constant reminder of their faith helps keep them on a straight path,
"Being a Muslim is the hardest thing you could possibly do," said Phil Thomes, 32. "Just being a Christian, it wasn't enough. Islam is a total way of life, which is good because I needed extreme change."
Most men who convert to a religion undergo a dramatic change while in prison, Barnes said.
"It changes his character," Barnes said. "He becomes more responsible, he's not self-centered. ... Instead he's others-centered. He becomes a team player."
"I've seen that over and over again," he said.
Thomes has been in prison for 12 years. He converted to Islam shortly after he was incarcerated, but he said he took him nearly a decade to begin avoiding prison gangs and the trouble that comes with them. Since then, he said, his life has changed.
"A lot of people look at me like I am my crime," he said. "But I know I'm not that guy anymore. I became a brand new person."
Reporter Krista J. Kapralos: 425-339-3422 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Muslim population multiplied 10 times faster in
Posted: Feb 01, 2009 at 1858 hrs IST
London Immigration, higher birthrates and conversions to Islam are considered as major factors behind rise of the Muslim population in
Experts have also suggested a growing willingness among believers to describe themselves as Muslims because the western reaction to war and terrorism had strengthened their sense of identity.
The Muslim population multiplied 10 times faster than the rest of society, the research by the Office for National Statistics done during the period of 2004-2008 reveals. In the same period the number of Christians in the country fell by more than 2 million.
"The implications are very substantial. Some of the Muslim population, by no means all of them, are the least socially and economically integrated of any in the
"You can't assume that just because the numbers are increasing that all will increase, but it will be one of several reasonable suppositions that might arise."
There are more than 42.6 million Christians in
Muhammad Abdul Bari, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain said that the greater platform that Muslims would command in the future should not be perceived as a threat to the rest of society.
Poetry contests in
By Abdul Rahman Shaheen, Correspondent
Published: February 02, 2009, 14:27
"These contests were tantamount to the practices of the Pre-Islamic Period (Jahiliyyah) that harbour feelings of hatred in the minds of people." he said. The grand mufti made these remarks while replying to queries from the audience following a lecture he delivered at Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque in
Answering a question about taking part in poetry competitions being aired by satellite channels, the grand mufti said: One should not take part in such contests. All these are Jahiliyyah (practices) that incite feelings of hatred. They will also generate feelings of envy in the minds of children toward their elders. Such practices would also cause to trigger envy and hatred among different tribes. Therefore, it is good for us to keep away from such practices," he said.
There has been a mushrooming of satellite channels over the past three years - these host poetry contests in which amateur poets compete to win grand prizes. Most of these poems focus on pride and glory and they boast about their tribes. A large number of participants of these contests encourage their kin to vote for them through sending SMS (each SMS costs a minimum of SR 4), with the hope of winning grand prizes amounting to millions of riyals. Minimum prizes for some of these contests are valued at SR 1 million.
The GCC countries have witnessed the launching of a large number of television channels for hosting such reality TV shows and poetry contests during the past few years. There are at least 15 major satellite channels in the Gulf countries that host contests of traditional popular songs and poetry.
These channels include Li Saha, Al Waha, Al Sahraa, Al Bawadi, Fawasil, Al Dana, Al Mukhtalif, Nujum 3, Nujum Al Khaleej, Rotana Shier, Al Dar, Awtan, Soutul Badiya, Al Hurr, and Al Khaleej. Launching such a satellite channel would cost an average SR 1.3 million ($346,000) excluding the cost for manpower.
A number of Saudi analysts told Gulf News that some of the tribal poets are taking advantage of poems that incite tribal passions or pride through these satellite reality shows or even occasional beauty contests for camels.
Muhammad Al Suhaimi, a Saudi writer, told the story of a Saudi poet, who spent more than SR 1 million to buy votes for a participant belonging to his tribe in such a contest. "If we ask him to give Zakat (charity) in this amount in order to settle the debts owed to a member of his tribe or to sponsor an orphan or to support a widow, he will refuse. Is this not stupidity?” he asked.
Dr. Muhammad Al Zulfa, a member of the Saudi Shoura Council, promised earlier that he would present a recommendation to the Council explaining the negative impact created by tribal poets taking part in such contests as well as at the tribal festivals, the latest of which is the Otaiba Tribal Festival that grabbed great media coverage and popular attention and camel beauty contests
How democracy loses its footing in
Joel Brinkley, February 1, 2009
I found myself chatting some time ago with Theresa Loar, who ran the State Department's women's office, when she told me about how she had tricked other senior officials in the building.
This was during the
As Loar noted, promoting democracy has been a foreign-policy priority for decades-since long before former President George W. Bush soiled the brand. President Obama has said he intends to increase funding to agencies involved in democracy promotion because, as he put it last year, "we benefit from the expansion of democracy. Democracies are our best trading partners, our most valuable allies and the nations with which we share our deepest values."
But then comes the thorny question: What about democracy promotion in the
The recent history is not encouraging. The Egyptians staged elections, and the Muslim brotherhood won 88 seats in parliament. The Palestinians staged elections, and Hamas won. The Lebanese staged elections, and then Hezbollah managed to force the elected government to give it veto power over its decisions.
And there's more.
While working in
I filed them away, but when I finally managed to read them, I was shocked. These people were well-educated, English-speaking, seemingly Western-oriented Egyptians.
And yet, their literature frothed with invective about the "Zionist lobby" and its "odious assault on Arab native soul." The
Even liberal democrats are besotted with angry, racist prejudice - and worse. Do we want these people governing
By most accounts, Obama is not going to make the same mistakes Bush made. To the Bush administration, promoting democracy meant encouraging, even forcing, nations to hold elections. That's what happened in
But democracy cannot flourish in nations that have no middle class - and no history of free political discussion.
In those places, the church, or mosque, offers the most accessible shelter and organizing philosophy. Because almost no one else can speak out publicly, the clerics' views, radical or moderate, become the most important political voices in the land.
A society that can embrace democracy is one whose citizens have something they want to protect. Democracy promotion, then, should involve economic development - and with it greater social freedoms, such as freedom of speech, assembly and the press.
But remember, the United States gives
In truth, for
I have no doubt that democracy promotion will be an important part of Obama's foreign policy.
But let's hope that, unlike his predecessors, he has the fortitude to confront Arab dictators and persuade them to begin taking small steps.
Creating democracies in the
Joel Brinkley is a professor of journalism at
This article appeared on page H - 8 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Under Obama, `war on terror' catchphrase fading
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press Writer – Sun Feb 1, 6:12 am ET
Since taking office less than two weeks ago, President Barack Obama has talked broadly of the "enduring struggle against terrorism and extremism." Another time it was an "ongoing struggle."
He has pledged to "go after" extremists and "win this fight." There even was an oblique reference to a "twilight struggle" as the
But only once since his Jan. 20 inauguration has Obama publicly strung those three words together into the explosive phrase that coalesced the country during its most terrifying time and eventually came to define the Bush administration.
Speaking at the State Department on Jan. 22, Obama told his diplomatic corps, "We are confronted by extraordinary, complex and interconnected global challenges: war on terror, sectarian division and the spread of deadly technology. We did not ask for the burden that history has asked us to bear, but Americans will bear it. We must bear it."
During the past seven years, the "War Against Terror" or "War on Terror" came to represent everything the
Ultimately and perhaps inadvertently, however, the phrase "became associated in the minds of many people outside the Unites States and particularly in places where the countries are largely Islamic and Arab, as being anti-Islam and anti-Arab," said Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a
Now, he said, there is a sense that the
The thinking has evolved, he said, to focus on avoiding the kind of rhetoric "which could imply that this was a struggle against a religion or a culture."
Obama has made it clear in his first days in office that he is courting the Muslim community and making what is at least a symbolic shift away from the previous administration's often more combative tone.
He chose an Arab network for his first televised interview, declaring that "Americans are not your enemy." Before his first full week in office ended, he named former Sen. George J. Mitchell as his special envoy for the
According to the White House, Obama is intent on repairing
Using language is one way to help effect that change, said Wayne Fields, professor of English and American culture studies at
"One of the contrasts between the two administrations is the care with which Obama uses language. He thinks about the subtle implications," said Fields, an expert on presidential rhetoric. The Bush administration "didn't set out deliberately to do things that were offensive but they liked to do things that showed how strong they were, and to use language almost in an aggressive sense."
Obama, he said, understands that language and conversation must be worked at and that it's "not just a series of sound bites."
White House officials say there has been no deliberate ban on the war-on-terror phrase. And it hasn't completely disappeared. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has used the wording in briefings, and it's still in vogue among some in the Pentagon and State Department.
Asked about Obama's avoidance of the phrase, Gibbs said the president's language is "consistent with what he said in his inaugural address on the 20th. I'm not aware of any larger charges than that."
Juan Zarate, who served as the deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism during the Bush administration, said he has seen signs that the new White House is trying to subtly retool the words, if not the war.
"There's no question that they're looking very carefully at all issues related to how the war on terror is packaged, to include lexicon," said Zarate. "All of this is part of an attempt to see how they could at least frame a change in policy even if, at the end of the day, the actual war on terrorism doesn't change all that much."
Obama and the War on Terror -- the real thing
By Nicolas J S Davies
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Feb 2, 2009, 00:25
My brother gave me War on Terror, the boardgame for Christmas. It’s a world domination game like Risk, but with the added feature that players employ terrorists as well as conventional armies to attack each other. The real twist is that the terrorists can and usually do end up turning against the player who recruited them in the first place. As it says on the box, “Fight the terrorists. Fund the terrorists. Be the terrorists.” The game is a razor-sharp satire of the world according to
Barack Obama got War on Terror for Christmas too, but, unlike me, he got the real thing. Every day, as the Obama presidency begins, American weapons are blowing real people to bits -- men, women and children -- all over the world.
The so-called surge in
U.S. Central Command’s numbers on air strikes in
It was a Specter gunship that killed 90 civilians at Azizabad in
Then there is the first specific military operation known to have been ordered by the new Obama administration, a series of Predator or Raptor drone attacks in
Even as President Obama issues orders to close
Many other people have disappeared without trace into the world of secret American prisons, on
Since the launching of the War on Terror, at least 19 U.S. allies or clients have used newly acquired American weapons against their neighbors or their own people (Chad, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, Colombia, Haiti, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon and Yemen).
Across the border in
The justification for all the violence I’ve described is that the
Our leaders claim that all of their interventions in other countries are designed to bring “stability” or “security.” But killing people and blowing up their homes and infrastructure does not ring stability or security. On the contrary, it brings death, terrible injuries, devastation and chaos. The use of military force is destructive by definition. The fact that people and societies eventually recover from war does not mean that war or those who engage in it deserve the credit for their victims’ recovery. Only a drunk driver who is still very drunk would take credit when a person he injured finally emerged from hospital and rehabilitation, but militarists drunk on aggression are quick to do just that.
No American war is ever launched without reference to the recovery of
The reason American leaders are still patting themselves on the back over
Unfortunately, since then and especially after the end of the Cold War, American foreign policy specialists came to believe that a state of limited war might serve American interests better than a state of peace. With no serious military competitor, they were determined to find new justifications for the use of military force, to make the most of
The British government has officially replaced the term “War on Terror” with “the struggle against terrorism.” But President Obama has not challenged the legitimacy or rationality of what War on Terror - the boardgame proclaims as “war on the most dangerous abstract noun known to man.” Nor has he unmasked for the American public the opportunism that was inherent in the original choice of words and obvious to the rest of the world all along.
War on Terror - the boardgame can theoretically end in one of three ways: “empire victory,” “terrorist victory” or “world peace.” The first two are almost impossible to achieve. Describing the third option, the “rules of engagement” (the instructions for the game) read, “In this case, the remaining empires share a victory and can give themselves a well-earned pat on the back for being so nice and possessing the wise understanding that this is a war no one can win.”
The world is now holding its collective breath, teetering between the hopes Mr. Obama has raised and awareness of the powerful interests invested in American militarism. Fidel Castro spoke eloquently for the naysayers, “It would be supremely naive to believe that the good intentions of one intelligent person can alter the results of centuries of interests and greed.” Code Pink and other American peace groups are keeping our hopes alive and urging Obama to live up to them. This just may be one of those times in history when smart and committed political activists can actually change the world. We have nothing to fear but fear itself -- our elected officials’ fear of the all-powerful military-industrial interests behind these policies; and the irrational fear of terrorism they have spread among the public to justify disproportionately more deadly state terrorism and a $700 billion annual military budget.
Nicolas J. S. Davies is the author of “Blood On Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq,” to be published later this year. He is a member of
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Why Obama’s Message is Not Complete
There are many in the Arab and Muslim world who have been encouraged by US President Barack Obama’s words in his interview to Al-Arabiya TV when he said, “…
and so what we want to do is listen, set aside some of the preconceptions that have existed and have built up over the last several years … and I think if we do that, then there’s a possibility at least of achieving some breakthroughs.”
However, the vast majority remains sceptical about
The Arabs and Muslims find it difficult to acknowledge the positive points in Obama’s speech simply because it included the repeated stabbing statement that, “the
This biased remark ruined Obama’s message, especially since it was declared after
The so-called Hamas rocket barrage has so far killed only a few while the number of women and children killed by
For how long will the Jewish state act upon these distorted claims with the support of the
The Arab and Muslim armies are incapable of defending their brothers and sisters in
This is the main reason behind the rage and anger in the Arab streets. Ultimately it is the American blind support that puts
In his Al Arabiya interview, Obama said: “If we are looking at the region as a whole and communicating a message to the Arab and Muslim world that we are ready to initiate a new partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest, then I think we can make significant progress.”
Well, the Muslim world will hold him to his words and demand fair treatment and just solutions to address the root causes of the conflicts and wars that were waged for obvious American interests and
The total disrespect for Arab blood and the inability to feel the pain of Arab and Muslim human lives does not give the
If Obama is serious about applying a policy of mutual respect he must allow equal support for the innocent and the defenceless and put a stop to Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian lands.
In his inaugural address, Obama spoke about the American ideals of justice, opportunity and community. We urge him to apply these ideals to the Palestinian people, offering them an opportunity to exist and live in dignity. Obama said that
Well, the innocent Palestinian civilian population has been calling for this right for decades.
We need to see
According to the latest survey conducted on the conditions of the children of
Almost 30 per cent had post-traumatic disorder: agitation, inability to sleep, violent outbursts, nightmares of traumatic events and flashbacks of them during the day, withdrawal from
ordinary activities and emotional numbing.
The conditions in
Poverty, hunger and disease are rampant due to lack of food and freshwater, a broken sewage system, destroyed homes and displaced women and children and meagre medical supplies and facilities. All this cruelty is directed on a totally defenceless and besieged people and
Obama says he wants to listen; there are many grievances and lots of pain: We in the Arab and Muslim world hope he would stop listening to the Livnis and the Olmerts in Israel and lend his ear to the voices of wisdom and the seekers of peace like the members of the Peace Now movement and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network who grieve with the people of Gaza, who feel the pain of the Palestinian women and children and hear their cries and believe in a just peace with the Palestinians.
They openly criticise the blind support of
Every Arab and every Muslim and all the noble people of conscience in the world — Christians, Jews, Hindus or otherwise — will forever support the brave Palestinians to resist
Obama, please listen carefully to
the outcry from every capital in the world and act wisely to save the innocent. Yes, Mr. President, people will judge you by your actions. We in the Muslim world sincerely wish you luck and hope you will be brave enough to live
up to your promises and ideals and recognise the Palestinians’ right to exist. It is time for
Samar Fatany is a Saudi radio journalist based in Jeddah. She can be reached at email@example.com
Beyond the bounds of religion
Muslims should see
Shelina Zahra Janmohamed, 31 January 2009
Obama is offering a hand of friendship to the
"I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries," Obama stated. But is this enough to allow him to connect to the worldwide Muslim community which is watching to see whether his actions live up to his words?
The internet has exploded with Muslims expressing their anger, despair and frustration at the ongoing war. My inbox bubbles up with the emotion of email after email with photos of death, invitations to rallies and lectures, multiple Facebook campaigns and groups as well as the urgency of fundraising for aid.
For the first time since the rally attended by a million Britons just before the invasion of
Not the BBC it seems, which has drawn huge criticism from across the board for refusing to air the
Muslims have expressed their feelings as members of the "ummah", sharing their anguish and heartbreak at the suffering of other Muslims in
Beyond the labels and stereotypes, Muslims, politicians, the people of the world, should know that this is a human calamity. Human beings are being killed before our eyes with nowhere to run, no food to eat, no water to drink. A Palestinian mother will see leaflets floating down from the sky to tell her that she and her children will be bombed and should leave. But where should they run?
This is a human crisis that the Palestinians have recorded on film, and which will haunt all of us as human beings. Once we said "never again". We must live by that promise.
In Kufa, some Shiites bemoan Sadr movement's diminished role
A few young men long for the days when anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada Sadr's militia controlled the town. They say the government of Nouri Maliki hasn't done much to help them.
By Ned Parker and Usama Redha
February 1, 2009
They remember the days when Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr's Mahdi Army militia made people tremble, when it wasn't relegated to the shadows.
In ratty, grease-stained sweat suits, they survey the run-down industrial buildings of Kufa, grass growing out of the concrete, and they jealously view neighboring Najaf, home of
In Kufa, burned trash lies in the street. Metal girders poke out from an unfinished soot-stained building. Voters stream by, groups of women in dark head-to-toe gowns, and men in traditional brown robes, emblematic of the town's conservative culture.
Sadr's movement still enjoys some popularity here, where the young preacher once delivered his sermons that challenged the Americans. His lieutenants still deliver his sermons from the Kufa mosque. But it's not the same.
As crowds walk by, a policeman in a dark beret keeps his eyes fixed on the pack of young men. Haidar Lafta shows his index finger, stained a deep purple after he voted for the Independent Movement of the Free People list, one of the two Sadr-sponsored slates in the election. The movement's poster displays a pair of fists tearing apart a rope binding them.
His friends applaud as Lafta curses the ruling Shiite powers, the ones they believe conspired against Sadr's militia with a military offensive in
Lafta shakes his fist when he talks about Sadr's movement. "They are strong. They know how to talk, to defend the oppressed people," he says.
He disparages Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, who ordered the
The men reminisce about the sights of full-blown war in the spring and summer of 2004, when the Mahdi Army was at the height of its power, fighting U.S. Army tanks and helicopters with young men equipped only with rocket-propelled grenades, rifles and crude bombs. They mention the names of some of their dead.
But other matters are more pressing than the past. "We want the government to help the young people," Lafta says. He is tired of wasting his days loitering in alleys. Email Id: firstname.lastname@example.org
Iran Detains Three Women’s Activists - Campaigner
`Obviously there are people who don't want laws that are discriminatory against women to change, ` Tahmasebi told Reuters.
Iranian police have detained three women's rights activists, the latest in dozens of such arrests over the last few years in the Islamic Republic, a fellow campaigner said on Sunday.
They were seized in the mountains north of
Sussan Tahmasebi, a leading member of the campaign, said one of those held was accused of spreading propaganda against the state, a common charge against women's rights campaigners.
A second detainee was released on Saturday, and the third was likely to be released on Sunday, she said.
Activists say 47 of them have been detained since they launched a campaign in 2006 to collect 1 million signatures in support of demands for changes in laws they say deny women in
Most were freed after a few days or weeks.
"Obviously there are people who don't want laws that are discriminatory against women to change," Tahmasebi told Reuters.
She suggested the latest arrests may be a message from the authorities ahead of the International Women's Day on March 8, when activists in the past have held rallies or meetings.
"We faced a lot of pressure all along," she said of the so-called 1 million signature campaign. The latest detentions could be an "attempt to reel us in right before" March 8.
Western diplomats and rights groups say the arrests of women's rights campaigners form part of a broader crackdown on dissenting voices, possibly in response to external pressure on
Activists say women in
Despite the arrests, Tahmasebi said the campaign had been successful in raising public awareness about women's rights.
A recent parliament decision to allow women to inherit land from their husbands or fathers was a "huge accomplishment".
She also praised a judiciary directive last year under which women who suffer injury or death in a car accident will be entitled to the same insurance company compensation as men.
Under Iran's sharia law imposed since the 1979 Islamic revolution, compensation for the loss of a woman's life, "blood money", is half that paid for a man. This rule, which applies to physical injury as well, had also governed payments from insurance companies even though both sexes paid equal premiums.
Indian cleric leads world Islamic meet prayer
February 1st, 2009
Dhaka, Feb 1 (IANS) An Indian cleric led the final prayer at the 45th Bishwa Ijtema, the second largest congregation of Muslims that ended here Sunday, seeking divine blessings for global peace and prosperity. More than two million Muslims from across
Separate platforms were built for
This year, a record figure of 10,500 foreign devotees joined the congregation.
On the second day of the Ijtema Saturday, a dowry-free mass wedding programme was held at the venue as is traditionally done every year. A total of 115 couples, in presence of their relatives and guardians, got married.
The annual Haj pilgrimage in
Fighting violence against women
By Katherine Bradstreet, 4 February 2009
In a 2003 lecture subsequently posted on Youtube, Samir Abu Hamza, director of the Islamic Information and Services Network of Australasia, claimed that it is acceptable for a man to hit his wife and that rape is impossible in marriage. It is only right that anyone who cares about women’s rights would be outraged.
However, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and media commentators who have condemned the Islamic cleric have failed to address the critical issue: Abu Hamza’s comments reflect an attitude held by many Australian men, not just some Muslim men.
The dredging up of a six-year-old recording of an Islamic cleric’s offensive comments in the lead-up to Australia Day has been met with an understandable cynicism. After all, this is the same Abu Hamza, also known as Samir Mohtadi, who was an important Crown witness in the trial of accused terrorist Abdul Benbrika.
At that time he was described as “a moderate Islamic cleric” on ABC radio, an interesting contrast to the labels like “self-styled cleric” and “outspoken Islamic cleric” that have been used in the media over the last week.
Speaking at an Australia Day event in
If only that were true. The sad reality is that violence against women is prevalent in
The Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault also report that intimate partner violence is the number one contributor to preventable deaths, disabilities and illness in Victorian women aged 15 to 44.
Women’s Health Goulburn North East released a study in July 2008 entitled Raped by a Partner, which interviewed 21 women who had been raped by a partner.
In the report, each woman believed that her partner would not have recognised his actions as rape. This is a frightening indication of the extent to which violence against women is accepted within our society.
The Herald Sun’s January 23 editorial wrote that Abu Hamza “would be better off living somewhere else. His inflammatory teachings are not welcome here.”
Rather than echoing the line that migrants should live “our way” or leave, a serious stand against domestic violence needs to recognise that it is not an issue only affecting any one religion or culture, it is a social issue that women from all cultural, economic and religious backgrounds struggle with.
Using such remarks to attack a section of the community for not fitting into the “Australian” way does nothing to tackle the issue of violence against women.
The horrifying statistics revealed in these recent reports illustrate a violent, murky side to the “Australian” way, a side brushed under the carpet, especially during times of nationalistic outbursts such as January 26 — apart from examples in which the perpetrator in question happens to be from an already marginalised section of the population, such as the Islamic community.
Such race-based wedge politics is another favoured tool of staunch supporters of “Australian values”, which — along with all forms of violence against women — must be opposed.
Smoking still popular despite Ulema edict
When the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the country's largest Islamic council, issued a number of controversial fatwa (edicts) earlier in the week, they were met with a mixed reaction.
But while bans on yoga and abstaining from voting have attracted the attention of some, it is the issue of smoking that remains the most disputed among Indonesians
They're here to listen to or play in one of the dozen or so punk bands scheduled to perform at night. The sign on the wall says no drinking or smoking.
While there isn't a drink in sight, every second hand holds a cigarette. Underneath the screams and distorted guitars, the call to prayer can be heard in the distance.
The MUI edicts ban women and children from smoking, as well as smoking in public places. Smoking in all other circumstances is deemed makruh (blameworthy).
However, But there has been conflict between different Islamic bodies.
"Smoking is a problem but we need to emphasize the health aspects not the religious," says Masdar F. Mas'udi, Deputy Chairman of the Nahdatul Ulama (NU), the country's largest Islamic organization.
Even within the NU there appears to be different views.
Mas'udi told The Jakarta Post that a better way to address the issue of smoking is for religious leaders to set an example by not smoking themselves.
But Hasyim Muzadi, chairman of the NU, who had also criticized the edicts earlier in the week, is still a smoker.
Despite this, Mas'udi says that other methods would be more effective than the edicts, like better enforcement by the government of existing smoking bans in public spacesÿ
"What we need is not to threaten those people who are addicted with hell, but consistent enforcement of smoking regulations," he says.
Groups like the Southeast Asian Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) agree that basic things are not being done in
"It appears that the Ulema Council is coming out because nothing is being done by the government," says Dr. Mary Assunta, Senior Policy Advisor with SEATCA.
But unfortunately there is no evidence that issuing this fatwa will affect the tobacco industry, she says.
Still, health officials have welcomed the move by the MUI, while trying to avoid the conflict between the Islamic bodies.
"We are all doing our best to keep the youngsters away from smoking, because if they start smoking, once they are adults they are already addicted," a spokesperson from the Indonesia Cancer Foundation says.
Tobacco farmers on the other hand objected to the bans during the week.
"When you look at what the fatwa is about - how it is harmful for young people and pregnant women to smoke - for farmers to say that they object to that means they approve of children and pregnant women smoking, which is unacceptable," says Assunta.
The SEATCA are one of several groups who campaigned unsuccessfully for Philip Morris International (PMI), one of the largest tobacco companies in the world, to withdraw sponsorship from a recent series of concerts featuring popular
"Philip Morris is arrogant enough to go ahead with these concerts because ... there are no rules against it in
In 2008, PMI faced international pressure to withdraw its sponsorship from a scheduled appearance by Alicia Keys in
"There is quite a difference because Alicia Keys is an international star ... and she had to face the American public about promoting smoking in
So while PMI withdrew from the Keys concert it did not do the same for the Marlboro Rocks concert series this month, which featured Slank. A campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an American lobby group, called for PMI Chairman and CEO Louis C. Camilleri to stop sponsorship of concerts due to their appeal to youth.
"How can we reach any conclusion other than the fact that PMI, under your leadership, does not place the same value on the life of a youth in
Islamic association seeks to teach Americans about the Quran
An Islamic Association in
The organization began in 2003 after the unfortunate treatment by American soldiers of the Holy Koran in the
The association decided to teach Americans about Islam and Muslims, and they recently decided to print the Holy Quran in English. This English language version will come with explanations of the Holy verses, an introduction to Islam, the fundamental of Islam, and how to deal with Islam. This idea has yielded considerable success, and the organization has raised a lot of contributions from Muslims and non-Muslim Americans. The organization has said they have received many requests from non-Muslim Americans for a copy of the Holy Quran.
Egyptian Islamic activist detained at
Jan 31, 2009
ISMAILIA, Egypt, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Egyptian security forces detained an Islamist opposition activist on Saturday as he crossed into Egypt from the Gaza Strip, saying they believed he had entered Gaza illegally via a cross-border tunnel, security sources said.
The sources said that Magdy Ahmed Hussein, the head of the Islamist-oriented Labour party, was carrying no papers other than a driving licence when he tried to return to
The government suspended the activities of Hussein's party in 2000, partly due to its links with the Muslim Brotherhood,
For the 1.5 million people in the Gaza Strip, the tunnels have become a main source of goods, including fuel, since
Roughly 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in the
But no firm plan is yet in place as
Women refuse refuge because of nearby mosque
By ESTHER HARWARD - Sunday Star Times | Sunday, 01 February 2009
Muslim women are staying away from a domestic violence crisis centre since a mosque opened next door.
The Auckland Shakti Asian Women's Centre in Onehunga helps women escape violent domestic situations but women are too scared to go because they may be recognised by their husbands or relatives attending the mosque.
The centre has an alternative premise but cannot move in because Auckland City Council has held back planning permission for more than a year.
Meanwhile, Housing New Zealand Corporation is paying $310 a week $4030 so far for security guards to keep vandals away from the empty building that the women could move into.
Centre spokesperson Shila Nair said victims were "really afraid" to go to the centre in Church St, Onehunga in case they were recognised by men worshipping at the Onehunga Islamic Mosque, which is over a boundary fence.
Women who visited the centre usually did so without telling their husbands, she said. "If their husbands, in-laws or any other family members or friends were to know that they have visited Shakti, life for them would be even more difficult. We have had instances of women who visited our Women's Centre later accessing our refuge."
Most were from Middle Eastern,
The crisis centre took 4800 phone calls last year on a 24 hour nationwide helpline of which 90% were about family violence. Of the calls, half of the women were recommended to visit for counselling, legal advice or training.
The housing corporation renovated another building for the women to move to after the mosque bought a building next door from the Jehovah's Witness church. The women have been waiting for 18 months for the council to grant resource consent for them to use the house. Council resource consents team leader Ian Small burn said the consent was "on hold" because of concerns about the impact of parking on neighbours, trees and storm water. It was not known when the issues would be resolved.
The centre opened a decade ago and is the busiest of Shakti's five branches in
Small US bank goes Islamic
31 January 2009
Big financial institutions have been battered by mortgages gone bad. But a tiny Michigan bank is getting attention in the industry by turning a profit on loans without even charging interest. Its specialty: financial products that comply with Islamic law. That means no collecting interest, no short selling and no contracts that are considered exceedingly risky. It also rules out some of the activity that got Western finance in trouble - sub prime mortgages, credit default swaps and the like.
When you look at the economic crisis we're in, if you were to follow Islamic or sharia financing, you couldn't have this crisis," said John Sickler, corporate director for the bank, University Islamic Financial Corp in
University Islamic Financial has two types of financing, one called a marked-up instalment sale and the other a lease-to-purchase sale. Fees in both cases are comparable to interest payments in traditional loans, bank officials say. For example: A seller who bought a house for $100,000 could sell it for $120,000 or even $300,000, provided the buyer agrees it's a fair deal. The home could be sold on an instalment plan negotiated by buyer and seller. The bank is a subsidiary of Michigan-based University Bank, and its leaders say they have talked recently with executives from two national banks hoping to learn more about the business.
Islamic law says money cannot grow by itself, the way it does with compounding interest. Trade is acceptable as long as the equal amounts of money are traded or two different things are swapped with a fairly negotiated price. So a dime for an apple would be considered "halal", or religiously acceptable, while one apple for two apples would be "harem," or unacceptable.
Even at University, not everyone is on board. Some customers have closed their accounts when they learned it was engaging in Islamic finance. Some employees who objected to the move quit. The bank also stopped having a Christmas party and no longer serves alcohol at after-hours events. The Michigan bank focuses on contracts that clearly spell out the risk and reward between lender and borrower. University Islamic Financial says it's the nation's first to offer Sharia-compliant, federally insured deposits.
Islamic banking is more common overseas, but some
So Islamic banking is only expected to increase in coming years. Already, Citigroup offers Sharia products and services to clients overseas, and Visa says it has worked with banks around the world to offer Islamic-compliant products. The conventional banking system could learn a lot from the idea, said Jawad Ali, a finance lawyer based in
We haven't made as much money as the conventional banks because we can't, for example, sell what we don't own," he said. "We have to own it before we sell it. We may have missed out on gains in good times ... but we haven't suffered any losses." Of course, there's no guarantee that banks will find immunity in Islamic finance from a severe global downturn. "I am not doing banking on Mars," said Afaq Khan, the head of Saadiq, the Islamic banking arm of Standard Chartered Bank, based in
A sharia-compliant mortgage is like rent-to-own: There is no note, or mortgage, but typically part of each month's payment is held toward the ultimate purchase. The property is titled to an individual trust, or limited liability corporation. Deutsche Bank estimates total assets in the Islamic finance market at $1 trillion - a tiny fraction of global financial assets, but the bank said in a recent report that the sector been growing at a clip of 15 to 20 percent per year.
Most big international banks already have Islamic banking arms, and a November report by Moody's Investors Service shows that Islamic banks have been fairly resilient to the global economic downturn. The
University Bank President Stephen Ranzini declined to name the
Comerica has a strong customer base around
Slain Exile Detailed Chechen Ruler’s Systematic Cruelty
By C. J. CHIVERS, January 31, 2009
Umar S. Israilov saw the men who had come to kill him. They confronted him in the neighborhood where he lived in hiding in
For more than two years, Mr. Israilov, a Chechen in exile, had formally accused
A rebel fighter turned bodyguard of Ramzan A. Kadyrov,
In written legal complaints, Mr. Israilov described many brutal acts by Mr. Kadyrov and his subordinates, including executions of illegally detained men. One executed man, Mr. Israilov said, had been beaten with a shovel handle by Mr. Kadyrov and Adam Delimkhanov, now a member of
Mr. Israilov said he and others had been tortured by Mr. Kadyrov, who amused himself by personally giving prisoners electric shocks or firing pistols at their feet.
Mr. Kadyrov and Mr. Delimkhanov refused to be interviewed for this article. A spokesman for Mr. Kadyrov released a statement decrying “a large-scale and purposeful campaign” to discredit
Human rights organizations and independent journalists have documented patterns of abduction, detention, disappearances, collective punishment, extrajudicial executions and the systematic use of torture by Russian and Chechen authorities, including Mr. Kadyrov. The separatists have unapologetically employed terrorist attacks, including on children.
But the character of Mr. Israilov’s allegations was different. He had been an insider. And with his father, Sharpuddi — who says that Mr. Kadyrov illegally detained him for more than 10 months, and that his captors tortured victims with a gas torch — he filed complaints to Russian prosecutors and the European Court of Human Rights in 2006 and 2007.
The Israilovs’ filings, never made public, appear to have been the first formal allegations based on the actions of Mr. Kadyrov, who has been celebrated by the Kremlin as a hero for marginalizing the insurgency in the
Taken together, their accounts offer a window into
Since last year, the Israilovs had cooperated with The New York Times, including by providing copies of sealed court records.
Umar Israilov, 27, was a complicated figure: a participant in a particularly ugly war, motivated at least in part by revenge. The Times spent several months evaluating the allegations by him and his father, examining the charges against the wealth of materials on Chechen human rights abuses, and interviewing supporting witnesses and independent investigators who had examined the Israilov case.
In addition, the newspaper obtained corroborating statements from another government insider and from another victim, who fled
Almost all of the people who assisted asked for anonymity, saying they feared reprisal. Ultimately, The Times postponed publication of the Israilovs’ accounts out of concern for the safety of witnesses and people who helped the investigation, some of whom wanted to relocate.
The threats were palpable. Several of President Kadyrov’s critics have been silenced by violence, including rivals, journalists and former detainees and their relatives.
Moreover, Mr. Israilov told Austrian authorities last year that an agent sent from
On Jan. 9, after consulting with one of Umar Israilov’s legal advocates, The Times notified Mr. Putin’s office that it sought interviews with Russian officials about these allegations. Mr. Israilov was prepared to publicize his story.
Dmitri Peskov, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, declined to comment in detail, saying, “It’s not wise to comment on any rumors.”
On Jan. 13, Mr. Israilov left his apartment, where he had been watching his three young children while his pregnant wife was away, to buy yogurt at a nearby market. Outside, he was confronted by at least two men.
They argued, and one of the men tried to pistol-whip Mr. Israilov, according to Gerhard Jarosch, a spokesman for
One of his pursuers opened fire. Mr. Israilov fell, shot in an arm, a leg and the abdomen, according to Mr. Jarosch. A short while later, he was dead.
A Young Rebel, Caught
For Umar Israilov, the pain of
Mr. Israilov’s anger simmered, he said, but when he asked to join the rebels, they rejected him because of his age. The first war lasted until 1996, when the separatists won limited independence and the Russian Army withdrew.
In 1999, during a nearly lawless period of Chechen self-rule, Mr. Israilov attended a camp at Kurchaloi, his father said. The camp was in a network of jihadist schools run by Shamil Basayev and Ibn al-Khattab, rebel commanders whose drift toward terrorism put them among
The Russian Army blitzed
Mr. Israilov insisted that he had never been in combat or committed violence. Such claims are common among former fighters; his could not be independently verified.
Russian prosecutors, in an attempt to have him extradited last year, claimed he gave insurgents a rifle for an attack on a polling station and helped rig an explosion against a convoy in which a Russian soldier was severely wounded.
By early 2003, Mr. Israilov, then 22, was living in a dug-out shelter in the woods. On April 15, he said, he and two other fighters ventured out to buy food and were arrested by pro-Kremlin Chechens.
An ordeal began. After being beaten for two days, he said, the three captives were driven to a boxing club in Gudermes and presented to Mr. Kadyrov. Mr. Israilov’s clothes were bloodstained, his body bruised. His nose had been broken.
Today, Mr. Kadyrov, 32, is
As he has seized power, he has borrowed from Stalinism, Sufi Islam and Chechen nationalism to erode the insurgency, bend a frightened society to his will and rebuild the republic at a blur.
Along the way, he has been cast by his critics as
He has been accused of crimes capital, carnal and municipal, ranging from murder, torture and kidnapping to cavorting with prostitutes and exacting kickbacks from government workers to build monuments to his father and himself.
He has always denied all the allegations. In interviews since 2004 with The Times, he sometimes laughed at them, and while he called himself “a warrior,” he insisted that he fought only for peace.
“I am a Muslim” he said in 2006, when pressed about allegations of kidnapping.
“A good Muslim would never commit a crime,” he said. “He will always be facing God, and he will always do good to people.”
He added, as he drove a reporter at high speeds through the Chechen capital,
On the day Mr. Israilov met him, Mr. Kadyrov was almost unknown. His father, Akhmad H. Kadyrov, formerly a leading separatist mufti, had switched sides in 2000 to ally himself with the Kremlin. The reward was a plum: an appointment to
Ramzan Kadyrov led his father’s bodyguard, a growing militia of former rebels known as the Presidential Security Service.
The service, a free-wheeling regiment with military, police and intelligence duties, had no basis in Russian law.
“We’ve caught some devils,” one of their captors said to Mr. Kadyrov as he stepped from his gym, Mr. Israilov recalled. Mr. Kadyrov laughed and gave an order: “Take them to the base.”
The Torture Chamber
The town of
Mr. Israilov was driven there, he said, and confined with other detainees in cells outside a weight-lifting center. According to victims and human rights groups, the weight room was one of several torture chambers run by pro-Kremlin Chechens.
That day, Mr. Israilov recalled, officers from the F.S.B.,
Mr. Kadyrov finally took over. “Ramzan slapped me in the face once; then his guards beat me,” he said. “Ramzan said, ‘Stop it,’ and asked me questions. Then he began beating me again.”
According to Mr. Israilov, he was beaten a few times a week for three months, often after being tied to fitness machines. His torturers wanted information about other rebels, he said.
On one occasion, he said, Mr. Delimkhanov, the Kadyrov associate now in Russia’s lower house of Parliament, beat him with a shovel handle just before Mr. Kadyrov twice fired a pistol near his feet. On another occasion, Mr. Israilov said, he was connected to wires and Mr. Kadyrov administered electric shocks. “‘That’s the thing,’ ” he recalled Mr. Kadyrov saying with a laugh. “ ‘That’s the thing.’ ”
He was also poked in the leg by unknown men with a heated metal rod, he said, and struck in the lip by a fragment of a ricocheting bullet fired by another unknown man. (Scars on Mr. Israilov’s lip and leg were visible.)
Others faced worse. On his third week in captivity, Mr. Israilov said, a cellmate, Shamil Gerikhanov, was sodomized with a shovel handle by a guard commander.
One night he listened, he said, as Aidamir Gushayev, who had organized a rebel cell’s finances, was interrogated by Mr. Kadyrov. The future president demanded money and grew frustrated. Mr. Israilov heard a gunshot. For a moment, Mr. Israilov recalled, there was silence, and then there were bursts of automatic fire. “It sounded like each bodyguard fired an entire magazine,” he said.
Mr. Kadyrov snarled, “‘Gazavat,’ ” he said. The word is Chechen for holy war. It was also the guards’ slang, Mr. Israilov said, for an area where victims were buried in unmarked graves.
When Mr. Israilov was captured, the insurgency had already lost
In the summer of 2003, Mr. Israilov said, the guards led him in shackles to a sauna, where Mr. Kadyrov made an offer: join the presidential security service and live. The alternative, Mr. Israilov said, was clear. He accepted.
Mr. Kadyrov gave him a pistol, according to the court complaint, and Umar Israilov began work in the “kadyrovtsie” — the Kadyrovs’ troops.
Asked later why he did not turn the pistol against a man he said had tortured him, Mr. Israilov replied, “Because I wanted to live.”
As part of its defense against these allegations, Mr. Kadyrov’s office said last month that it had no record of Mr. Israilov’s is having served Mr. Kadyrov. Russian prosecutorial records from
For about 10 months, Mr. Israilov said, he worked at Tsentoroi. During this time he saw at least 20 illegally detained people tortured, he said, with Mr. Kadyrov participating in several sessions. Many victims were the relatives of the boyeviki, the insurgents.
The sessions Mr. Israilov described aligned with a shift in
“Ramzan himself said that the best way to get boyeviki out of the forest was to do it through relatives,” Mr. Israilov said. “It was basically his slogan.”
One day, Mr. Israilov said, he watched the commander who had sodomized his cellmate, Shamil Gerikhanov, plead with Mr. Kadyrov to order the victim killed. “Take him and finish him,” Mr. Kadyrov said. Mr. Gerikhanov was driven away and never seen again, Mr. Israilov said; the rapist, whose first name was Alanbek, was promoted to be a police commander in
In early 2004, Mr. Israilov was transferred to his home village to lead a police squad, according to his court file.
Mr. Kadyrov’s stature in
But as the war evolved from a Russian-Chechen fight to an internecine struggle, Mr. Israilov’s father urged him to desert, saying his job required violence against his former friends, who would retaliate. “I told him he could not keep that job without putting everyone in danger,” Sharpuddi Israilov said.
That November, using a counterfeit passport bought with bribe money, Umar Israilov and his wife, Madina Sagiyeva, fled to
In late 2003, two weeks after Umar Israilov deserted; a police supervisor appeared at a construction company in
Sharpuddi Israilov and his wife were driven to Tsentoroi, where they learned that his son’s sister-in-law had also been detained. Within minutes, Mr. Israilov was knocked down, beaten and dragged to the weight room, according to him and his wife.
He was handcuffed to a pool table and his legs were lashed to a fitness machine, Mr. Israilov said. Eight Chechens began to beat, kick and stomp on him, he said. Three teeth were knocked out.
“They watched until the moment when I was about to pass out; then they stopped and asked a question,” he said. “They did not want a corpse. They wanted information.”
He passed out. When he woke, the men told him they had learned that his son was in
Among the half-dozen others in the room, Mr. Israilov said, was Supyan Ekiyev, one of Mr. Kadyrov’s guards, who was accused of collaborating in an insurgent attack. He hung by his arms from an exercise machine. His jaw appeared broken, Sharpuddi Israilov said. His hands and legs had been burned by open flames. (The next week, his body was found near
That night, Mr. Israilov said, Ramzan Kadyrov arrived to torture the prisoners.
By this time, the insurgency had passed its peak. A run of guerrilla operations in 2004 had been followed by terrorist attacks, including the siege at a school in Beslan, that showed the rebels still had sizable forces and considerable resources.
But the terrorist attacks undercut the insurgency’s support and re-energized
Mr. Kadyrov, by then a deputy prime minister, was viewed as
Mr. Kadyrov did not beat the elder Mr. Israilov that night. But watching Chechnya’s most prominent man wander between victims — beating some, shocking others, playing billiards — Mr. Israilov felt disgust. “He just came in to have fun,” Mr. Israilov said.
Sharpuddi Israilov’s allegations are also consistent with those of another Chechen in hiding, who has asked that his identity remain undisclosed. The man, who filed a complaint to the European court in 2007, said he was abducted from a bus in November 2004 and detained for a long period at a base controlled by Mr. Kadyrov, where he was beaten, burned by a gas flame and subjected to electric shocks, according to the European Human Rights Advocacy Center, a London-based organization that helps Russians and Georgians seek justice in Europe.
After Sharpuddi Israilov was detained, he and Umar Israilov said, Mr. Kadyrov and another Chechen official called Umar in
Mr. Kadyrov was enraged, Umar Israilov said, and told him of the capture of his father and other relatives. “I will kill them all,” Mr. Israilov recalled Mr. Kadyrov saying.
“I will not come back,” Mr. Israilov said, and hung up.
Escape to the West
Umar Israilov’s defiance appeared to work. His relatives were not killed. His sister-in-law and his father’s wife were released. (Both have received asylum in
His father’s detention, however, dragged on. He was transferred to Gudermes and held until Oct. 4, 2005, more than 10 months.
Mr. Israilov said he was not tortured again but shared space with as many as 100 detainees, mostly fighters’ relatives or government fighters accused of minor crimes. Many were beaten or subjected to shocks.
Among those he saw in custody, he said, was Khamad Umarov, the 72-year-old father of Doku Umarov, then a senior rebel commander and now president of the separatist shadow government.
Khamad Umarov’s kidnapping was reported at the time; separatist Web sites have since reported that he died in custody.
On the day the elder Mr. Israilov was released, he said, he was dropped in front of his home. He was bearded and scarred and had lost about 45 pounds.
In early 2006, according to his complaint to the
Mr. Israilov said he threw the paper in the prosecutor’s face.
Then he fled with his wife, Shovda Viskhanova, to
In interviews, both men said that though they were granted the possibility of peaceful lives, they wanted to obtain justice and hold the Russian and Chechen governments accountable. They filed separate complaints to the European Court of Human Rights in late 2006.
The court, established by the European Convention on Human Rights, has become a legal venue of last resort for citizens of countries that have signed the convention, which include
To hide their locations, the Israilovs provided only a post office box in a third Western country. Unbeknownst to them, the court sought more information but could not find them. The case was dropped and expunged from files, although the Israilov family is resubmitting documents to have it reinstated.
In August, the Chechen who said he had been sent to
In the days since Mr. Israilov’s killing, Austrian police and counterterrorism officers have arrested eight Chechens in the case. All had received or applied for asylum, the prosecutor’s spokesman said. The suspects were still being questioned and the evidence reviewed, he said, and their motives were not yet clear.
Umar Israilov, for his part, had all but predicted his fate.
“A guy from our village works as a commander in the kadyrovtsie,” he said at the end of his final interview with a reporter last year. “He told it to my cousin: that I should be very, very careful, because Ramzan promises a bounty for me.”
C. J. Chivers reported from
Muslim world showers praise on Turkish PM
The group, which rules the tiny Palestinian territory, paid tribute to Erdogan’s “courageous stand” after he angrily left the discussion at the World Economic Forum in
“We consider his departure from the room an expression of support for the victims of the Holocaust carried out by the Zionists,” he said.
Senior Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya also showered Erdogan with praise and compared him to Sultan Mehmed II who conquered Constantinople in 1453, bringing an end to the
“The Palestinian people, the resistance and Hamas salute you, Erdogan,” Hayya told a rally in
Some see Mumbai terrorism as an attack on India-Israel ties
IN MUMBAI: Indian commandos descend to the Nariman House in November. Indian media have reported that a suspect said assailants were targeting Israeli citizens there.
They cite the sophisticated attack on the Nariman House Jewish centre. Relations between
By Peter Spiegel, January 31, 2009
These experts, despite an ongoing investigation of the assailants' motives, have concluded that the assault on the obscure Nariman House was more sophisticated than those on the city's two luxury hotels, an indication that it was a prime target in the November operation.
"Their aim was to humiliate
Das and other members of a high-level delegation of Indian government and business leaders met in
The relationship between
Bruce Riedel, a former
Israeli companies also have invested heavily in
Direct evidence, however, that the Mumbai attackers were targeting this increasingly friendly relationship remains piecemeal.
Early in the assault, an attacker who was part of the operation on Nariman House called an Indian TV news channel and railed against the September visit by a senior Israeli military official, Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi, to the divided
In addition, Indian media have reported that the lone suspect captured in the attacks, Ajmal Amir Kasab, has told authorities that the assailants were specifically targeting Israeli citizens at the Jewish center and had staked out the facility far in advance.
Das, the retired vice admiral, said the ruthlessness of the attack at the Jewish centre indicated how important the location was to the assailants.
"They targeted a nondescript apartment building, which is known to be visited and known to be host to Israeli people," Das said.
But not everyone familiar with the Indian investigation is convinced that the bilateral relationship was specifically targeted.
One senior New Delhi-based diplomat who has been briefed on the investigation said Indian officials were making too much of the relationship.
There are more logical explanations for attacking a facility tied to Israelis, the diplomat said, including a possible effort by militants to strike at a traditional Islamist bogeyman to defray criticism from the Muslim world of attacks on unarmed civilians.
"The Indian-Israeli relationship is not something that started yesterday," the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation. "It's not something that is in the public eye right now, either."
Still, several Indian analysts noted that the attacks came on the heels of increasingly vitriolic rhetoric from militant groups, including Al Qaeda, attempting to link the two countries in a "Zionist-Hindu war" against Islam.
The analysts said
"It was targeted at that cooperation, which was evolving and continues to evolve," said retired Lt. Gen. Satish Nambiar, a former commander of counter-terrorism operations along the India-Pakistan border.
Several Al Qaeda leaders, particularly Ayman Zawahiri, the network's No. 2, have alleged a "Crusader-Zionist-Hindu" conspiracy since the late 1990s, and attacks carried out by Zawahiri's pre-Al Qaeda organization have hit targets it said were part of a joint Indian-Israeli effort to spy on Pakistani nuclear sites.
But the rhetoric has become more pronounced. Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, whose initial grievances focused on Western troops in Arab lands and later expanded to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, released an audiotape in 2006 in which he referred to a "Zionist-Hindu war against Muslims" and added Pakistani resentments over India's control of a portion of Kashmir to his list of perceived anti-Muslim grievances.
Analysts said the change in rhetoric appears to be a result of cross-pollination between the largely Arab Al Qaeda and Pakistani extremist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, the organization accused in the Mumbai attacks.
Although many current and former Indian officials said they did not believe the attacks would slow
Prominent Indian Muslim leaders have condemned the Mumbai attacks and have not raised
"As far as