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Islamic World News ( 29 Nov 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Dubai debacle likely to hit workers, remittances

In a first, women offer namaz at Orissa mosque

Pak PM’s aide says Headley is half- brother

For 40 years, Muslim discourses on Hindu scriptures

British Muslim tycoon Sir Ghulam Noon calls for curbs on extremist imams

UK Muslims make case for Sharia law

UAE Will Support Banks in Dubai Credit Crisis

'Sacred' goat gets Rs 21 lakh offer on Bakr-Eid

Women lead Swiss in vote to ban minarets

Survey of Pakistan’s Young Predicts ‘Disaster’ if Their Needs Aren’t Addressed

Gilani link: Is Headleys brother PRO for Pak PM

Pakistan must help break al-Qaeda, says Brown

Rs 15cr heroin seized from Afghan traffickers

'Pained' Saeed denies role in 26/11

Fears for Iranian Nobel peace laureate in regime crackdown

Muslims worldwide celebrate Eid

Chinese Muslims in Pakistan celebrate Eid-Ul-Azha

LONDON: Altaf greets nation on Eid-ul-Azha eve

Local Muslims observe Islamic holy day

Muslims in America pray for peace and reconciliation

Sudan teen lashed for "indecent" skirt: lawyer

Tri-City Muslims celebrate Hajj

Chorus of smears taint Muslims’ observances

Islamic centre in Northville meets outcry

Islam's warrior prophet shrouded by myth, devotion

Afghan soldiers dance with Edmonton-based mentor

Karzai steps up calls on Taliban for peace

Afghan President Karzai to be set international targets

Israel records sharp fall in Muslim birth rate

Security beefed up at Gaza-Egypt border ahead of Shalit transfer

Pakistan's president hands over nuclear powers

3,000 Muslims gather for Feast of Sacrifice in Hampton

Shah Rukh Khan calls for solidarity against terrorism

692 websites hacked in just 30 days...

Taliban Open Northern Front in Afghanistan

Singhal to Advani: Stop calling December 6 your saddest day

In Turkey, Trial Casts Wide Net of Mistrust

A Saudi Gamble to See if Seeds of Change Will Grow

Cleric Wields Religion to Challenge Iran’s Theocracy

Sharia supporters rally against brothels, condoms

His name: Jihad. His message: peace

Nepalese Muslims celebrate Eid-ul-Azha

Eid cheer for Pak national who lost five kids in blast

Ban cow ‘slaughter'

Bangladesh Ferry Tragedy Toll Rises To 31

Islamic Imperialism: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Middle East

Osama bin Laden was within our grasp, says US senate report

To buy out Taliban, Afghans offer jobs to defectors

India, Kuwait hopeful of signing pact on prisoner swap soon

Bomb explodes in Kabul, no injuries

Pakistan bunkers only to ward off Taliban: BSF

Egypt terms IAEA resolution on Iran as 'unbalanced'

Imam's e-mails to Fort Hood suspect Hassan tame

Afghanistan will be different war

Flood deaths in Saudi Arabia rise to around 100

Five dead in multiple Baghdad blasts

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL of this Page:,/d/2166


Dubai debacle likely to hit workers, remittances

Himanshi Dhawan & Rajesh Chandramouli

28 November 2009

Despite the brave front put up by Indian government, the debt crisis that has enveloped Dubai World threatens to hit the struggling Indian overseas labour market that is largely dependent on short-term Middle East job contracts. The latest crisis comes at a time when official estimates have admitted that unemployment rates have spiralled to 30% in the Middle East in the last one year.

Industry sources say unemployment figures could be higher than the official estimates and that remittances to India - $43.5 billion in 2007-2008 - are certain to be much lower this year in the wake of the continuing recession in the region. The Dubai World's debt just adds to the bad news.

UAE is the favourite destination for a maximum number of overseas Indian workers - 3.4 lakh people went to the country in 2008 - but the number has been fast declining as Indian workers are unable to get new contracts or extensions in the country that's in the grip of recession.

It's well known that when Dubai sneezes, south India, especially Kerala, catches more than just a cold. Last September, when Lehman Brothers collapsed triggering the great recession, the arrivals at Chennai, Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram airports wore a grim look. The news of Dubai World's inability to repay the $59 billion debt has triggered similar fears among the relatives of immigrants back home.

However, the minister for Overseas Indian Affairs tried to allay such fears. ``There were some concerns during the beginning of the slowdown an year ago, but now we are not expecting any exodus (return) of Indians and India will not be affected by Dubai's debts,'' Vayalar Ravi told TOI on telephone.

OIA secretary K Mohandas added that large scale retrenchment was unlikely even though labour movement to UAE had come down. ``There are some countries like Saudi Arabia where labour movement has increased,'' he said adding, however, that the increase was negligible.

However, the government of Kerala, where overseas remittances contribute 20% of the state GDP,

does not sound too optimistic. ``We do not yet know the magnitude of the crisis. On the face of it, the problem looks serious. Now we will have to wait and see its impact on other sectors, and whether there will be a credit freeze,'' Kerala finance minister T M Thomas Isaac told TOI.

``If it (Dubai debt crisis) affects the real estate sector, we have enough reasons to be worried. Only after the (Id) holidays are over in the Gulf, we will come to know more,'' Isaac said.

Over 5 lakh Indians have returned from Dubai since September 2008, of which two lakh are Malayalees. Almost 60% of these people are technical or non-technical skills professionals. ``Over 50 lakh Indians work in the Middle East of which 20 lakh are from Kerala. We do not expect large number of returnees now,'' K V Mohankumar, CEO of Kerala NRI group, Non Resident Keralites' Affairs (Norka).

According to Norka, 10 lakh Malayalees live and work in Dubai, along with 4 lakh people from Andhra Pradesh and and 4.5 lakh Tamils.

The situation in the past year has prompted the OIA ministry to introduce a welfare fund for emigrants in distress. Services like a toll-free helpline, a counselling facility and a facility to extend contingency based legal, medical and emergency relief assistance are on the anvil to provide a safety net to a large and vulnerable work force in the region.

The minister has also announced setting up of an Indian Workers Resource Centre (IWRC) in the region and a ``Return and Resettlement Fund'' that will provide for a contribution-based scheme to incentivize the return and resettlement of overseas workers. Details of the proposal are being worked out.

However, bankers here are not losing sleep over the Dubai World crisis, yet. ``The original impact of the Dubai crisis has already happened. I do not see any further impact coming in,'' said Venugopalan M, managing director & CEO, Federal Bank. ``I don't see any further reduction in remittances as well.''

The news of Dubai rescheduling its debts fails to surprise some. Jinu Rani George, a senior official with a builder group that has considerable interests in Dubai, said it was expected. ``We are in Dubai for 27 years now. But from November 2008, when recession fears began, we have not been getting any money from the government or municipality. So we put a freeze on all our projects. Now, we do high volume business mostly in Abu Dhabi.''

She said groups like Nakheel, a subsidiary of Dubai World, and Dubai Properties, a unit of Dubai Holding, had sacked almost 80% of their employees.

During the last 10 months a number of Indian professionals have moved from Dubai to the oil-rich emirate of Abu Dhabi not just in search of high-paying jobs but also job stability.

``We knew things were shaky in Dubai. Its diminishing spending power brought projects to a standstill. The only option was to move to Abu Dhabi and luckily we found employment here,'' said Biju Haridas, a management professional in Abu Dhabi.

``The emirate of Abu Dhabi will bail out Dubai with conditions, but those conditions will never be made public,'' said an Indian diplomat in UAE.


In a first, women offer namaz at Orissa mosque

Subhashish Mohanty

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bhubaneswar: This was one radical Eid for the Muslim women of Kendrapara, a small town 100km from here. They managed to defy an age-old tradition to read namaz at the Zamiat-Ahle-Hadis mosque on the occasion of Eid.

"I have dreamt of reading the namaz in a masjid ever since I was a child. It came true today," said 41 year-old Sophia Seikh, one of the hundreds of women of this Muslim-dominated town who came to the mosque to offer their prayers. The men did not oppose the break with tradition, but Muslim leaders across the state were guarded in their comments on this development.

Progressive and conservative elements in the Muslim community have often clashed over the issue of allowing women to offer prayers in mosques. The All-India Muslim Women's Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) has pointed out in the past that there is nothing in Islam that forbids namaz by women. Last year, the board organised a special namaz for women in a mosque on the outskirts of Lucknow. In Kerala too last year, a court asked the mosque authorities in a small town to allow women to offer namaz in the premises.

The spokesperson of the Kendrapara mosque, SK Amiruddin, believes that if women could undertake the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina then they definitely hold the right to offer prayers at a mosque. "At this point, we should not oppose the entry of women into mosques. It is a case of empowerment of women. Others should follow us," he said.

Reacting to the development, a leading woman advocate and secretary of the Talaq Mahila Sahayata Samitee, Saira Mirza said: "I cannot comment on this sensitive issue just right now. Before commenting on this issue, I have to consult with my seniors and other members of the communit".

"I cannot understand why men should oppose a woman's right to read namaz in a mosque," said Maluana AsfqueAli. However, he chose to remain silent when asked if Kendrapara's example would be followed by other mosques too.]


Pak PM’s aide says Headley is half- brother

29 November 2009

PAKISTAN Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s public relations officer ( PRO) on Saturday acknowledged that David Coleman Headley, a terror suspect detained in the US, was his halfbrother.

But Danyal Gilani dismissed as incorrect reports that his family was related to the Prime Minister.

PRO Gilani said in a statement that “ Indian media reports trying to establish a relationship between Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the family of detained US terror suspect and my halfbrother, Daood Gilani alias David Coleman Headley, is incorrect, misplaced and totally baseless. The report is based on speculation and is intended to create unnecessary hype.” At pains to prove his point, the PRO said his ancestors had migrated to Pakistan from Jastarwal in India’s Punjab and Etawah in Uttar Pradesh

while the Prime Minister’s family has been living in Multan for centuries. “ The two families have no relationship with each other,” he asserted.

Danyal also acknowledged that the Prime Minister had issued a condolence message on his father Syed Saleem Gilani’s death in December last year and visited his house to offer condolences.

“ This he did out of courtesy because I was working as his PRO and also because my father was a renowned broadcaster and a known personality of his time. At that time Daood ( Headley) was not in Pakistan,” the PRO said.

Danyal said he had been working as the Prime Minister’s PRO since 2005, when the post was held by Shaukat Aziz.

He also offered some details about his half- brother Headley.

“ His having another name or changing his name at some stage in life has come as a surprise to me,” Danyal said, adding that he had had little contact with Headley since 2002 as he had shifted to Islamabad after clearing the civil service examination.

“ I last met Daood when he visited Pakistan a few days after my father’s death nearly a year ago,” he added.

Danyal said Headley was born in 1960 in Washington, where his

father was working with the Voice of America and had married an American woman. “ Soon after Daood’s birth, the tenure of my father’s posting ended and the couple shifted to Pakistan.

In the late 1960s, my father and Daood’s mother got divorced, and according to family elders, she went back to the US,” the PRO said.

“ Being much younger to Daood, I have heard that he studied at the Hassan Abdal Cadet College for some time and in the mid- 1970s, shifted to America to live with his mother.

Since then, the family here had only occasional links with him.

In fact, because of his involvement with issues related to drugs, my father wanted the rest of the family to stay away from his influence,” Danyal said.

Some media reports in India had on Friday hinted Headley may be distantly related to Prime Minister Gilani. The Federal Bureau of Investigation had arrested Headley in Chicago on charges of planning terrorist attacks in India and Denmark.

He has also been accused of having close links with the banned Lashker- e- Tayyaba, which the Pakistan government has acknowledged was behind the Mumbai attacks.

In another development, the US on Saturday cited legal limitations in allowing Indian investigators to quiz terror suspects Headley and Tahawwur Rana.

US national security advisor James Jones said President Barack Obama had shown personal interest in the Headley- Rana case and the matter was discussed during his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday.

“ It is something that the President and the Prime Minister discussed and both of them were very satisfied with the outcome of those discussions,” Jones said.

He said Obama had asked the US authorities to share information on the case with India, despite the limitation posed by the country’s legal system.

He, however, said the US was unable to allow Indian investigators access to the duo because “ certain aspects of the legal system here protect the rights of the accused”.


For 40 years, Muslim discourses on Hindu scriptures

IANS 29 November 2009

GORAKHPUR (UTTAR PRADESH): Dressed in saffron robes, adorned with rudraksh garlands, sporting a sandalwood mark on his forehead and delivering discourses on Hindu scriptures in temples across eastern Uttar Pradesh, this "saint" is actually a devout Muslim, who offers namaaz five times a day.

Mohammad Yaseen, 60, a resident of the Pipraich village in Gorakhpur district, some 300 km from state capital Lucknow, has been giving lectures on the Ramcharitmanas and the Gita for nearly 40 years now.

"I believe there's a lot to learn from the holy scriptures, particularly the Ramcharitmanas and the Gita that guide our behaviour towards individual, family and society," Yaseen said.

Initially ostracised by his family and relatives for studying Hindu religious texts and even being turned out of his house, Yaseen is today respected by Hindus and Muslims alike for his efforts to bring the two communities together.

His affinity for Hindu religious texts followed an emotional period after the death of his father in a road accident, when Yaseen was only 17. A withdrawn Yaseen fell ill and, when in hospital, had a sadhu as his neighbour who introduced him to Hinduism, sparking his interest.

"It was a road accident in which I lost my father. I loved him most of all the family members. I left my studies, went into a state of shock and even stopped talking to my family members. I used to lock myself in a dark room for days and did not meet anyone," recalled Yaseen.

"I fell ill and was admitted to a hospital, where I met a sadhu who was in a bed next to mine. He used to share teachings of the Ramayana with me and asked me to tell him about the Quran. Though the sadhu was much older than me, we became friends.

"The day before I was to be discharged from the hospital, he suggested I should listen to a discourse on Ramcharitmanas that would help me a lot in diverting my attention from my problems."

Acting on the advice, Yaseen went to listen to a discourse at a temple on the outskirts of his village.

"I cannot put into words what I felt after listening to the discourse. It was something that provided me complete peace of mind. Later, I decided to participate in the discourse on a regular basis and started studying Hindu scriptures," said Yaseen, who has a family business selling clothes.

There was opposition from his family members, who threatened to shun him if he did not stop attending discourses at temples and studying Hindu scriptures.

"I did not bother them, still they even forced me to leave the house. As I became totally free, I decided to give small lectures in temples after convincing their priests," said Yaseen.

Today Yassen's son looks after the family business, while he passes most of his time in delivering religious lectures in temples of various districts in Uttar Pradesh. Recently, he returned from Ballia, where he was called to attend a religious function at the famous Duddheshwar Nath Temple.

At the same time, Yaseen remains a devout, practising Muslim.

"On a number of occasions, I have to take a break from the discourse when it's the time to offer the namaaz. That I can't skip under any circumstances," he said.

Yaseen has become popular among both Hindus and Muslims of his village as both the communities believe he could bridge differences between them.

"Though he is Mohammed Yaseen, we call him Sant Yaseen Bharti. A saint like him, in a true sense, is working to promote communal harmony," said Banshraj Mishra, who runs a utensils shop in the village.

Another resident Ijaz Warsi said: "Some politicians and people, who for vested interests, make efforts to divide society in the name of religion, should learn something from Yasin bhai, who is liked by Hindus and Muslims alike."


British Muslim tycoon Sir Gulam Noon calls for curbs on extremist imams

'Curry King' recalls horror on anniversary of Mumbai hotel attack

Rajeev Syal

Sunday 29 November 2009

Britain's most prominent Muslim businessman, who was trapped inside a burning hotel in the Mumbai terror attacks, is calling on the government to toughen measures against extremist preachers.

Sir Gulam Noon, one of Labour's most generous donors, says the door is being left open for foreign imams to radicalise thousands of young Muslims in mosques.

His demand comes in an exclusive interview on the anniversary of the attacks, which left 173 people dead after three days of mayhem. Noon was trapped on the third floor of the Taj hotel for nearly 10 hours while dozens of people were murdered in rooms around him.

Known as the Curry King for selling 1.5 million Indian ready-meals a week in Britain, he says the experience has left him less tolerant of foreign Islamist preachers, who he believes are indoctrinating young British Muslims.

"Having seen what I saw at close quarters, the indiscriminate violence and pain inflicted in the name of my religion, I am astounded that I hear from friends in the community that radical preachers are still coming to this country and praising attacks by al-Qaida and suicide missions. There is a limit to free speech. Extremists who preach their approval of suicide bombers should be sent back to their country of origin," he said.

Noon, 73, who was born and raised in Mumbai, said his ordeal last year began as he stepped into the lift of the five-star hotel to go up to his third-floor suite to meet his brother and four colleagues for dinner. Behind him he heard a few sharp cracks, but thought nothing of it. "I heard what I believed were firecrackers from a wedding party. But a minute later a member of staff ran over and told me it was gunfire," he said. Noon and his friends were told by staff to barricade themselves in. It was 9.30pm, and they would not emerge until 7am the next morning.

By the time the shooting was over, on 29 November, 173 people had been killed and 308 had been wounded.

Noon, who has given more than £300,000 to Labour, said he is proud of the way that India's Muslim community has responded to the attacks. "Indian Muslims have refused to bury the nine dead terrorists. They are still in the mortuary. It is a good symbolic message for the rest of secular India. Now Britain needs to get tough with the radical imams. We have the power to do something," he said.

A spokesman for the UK Borders Agency said the government has introduced new laws to force imams to go through tougher English tests before being allowed into Britain.


UK Muslims make case for Sharia law

Colin Randall

November 28. 2009

LONDON// Flanked by Islamic bookshops in one of the shabbier corners of London, the modest facade of the Masjid Tawhid bears no resemblance to the solemn grandeur of the Royal Courts of Justice in the centre of the capital.

But tucked away inside a building that also offers ample accommodation for prayers, classes and social functions is a tiny room where justice is dispensed with no less seriousness than in the official courts.

Here in Leyton High Road, in London’s East End, and in nearby premises previously used by the Islamic Sharia Council of the UK, some 10,000 cases have been dealt with during the past 27 years. The workload is increasing and senior Muslim scholars who administer the system believe it is only a matter of time before Sharia is formally accepted within the framework of British law.

But this growth has generated fierce criticism in some quarters. A report by the think-tank Civitas earlier this year claimed 85 Sharia courts were operating in the UK, sometimes giving the Muslims who turn to them illegal advice on matrimonial and divorce issues. Its allegations are firmly challenged by the council, but Britain’s Conservative opposition is expected to impose restrictions if it takes power next year.

For Sheikh Haitham al Haddad, one of the council’s most senior members, the work of such tribunals can be “complementary to the civil courts” and in certain cases find solutions that would be beyond the established legal system.

He suspects the hostility of some non-Muslims is based on confusion with such punishments as the stoning of adulteresses, amputation of thieves’ hands and flogging for drinking alcohol. British public concern has been heightened by demonstrations in which militants have demanded the full application of Sharia.

As a devout Muslim, Sheikh Haddad, born in Saudi Arabia to Palestinian parents, considers physical punishment consistent with Islamic teaching, but points out that this is a philosophical issue that has nothing to with the council, which deals purely with civil disputes.

“We are not asking for the flogging of people for drinking or stoning for adultery,” he said. “These things simply have no place in our discussions.”

Full report at:


UAE Will Support Banks in Dubai Credit Crisis


November 29, 2009

MUMBAI — The United Arab Emirates central bank on Sunday said that it stood behind domestic and foreign banks operating in Dubai after last week’s announcement that Dubai World needed more time to pay back some of its $60 billion in debt.

Dubai rocked the financial world on Wednesday when it said it would ask creditors of Dubai World, the conglomerate behind its rapid expansion, to agree to a six-month standstill on the debt. Global markets sank on the news.

On Sunday, the central bank said it would set up a “liquidity facility” for the Dubai banks, and tried to reassure investors that the Gulf Arab country’s banking system was more sound and liquid than a year ago.

Whether these moves will restore investor confidence remains to be seen as soon as Monday, when U.S. traders return from a long holiday weekend.

In recent days, investors have begun worrying that Dubai’s debt troubles might be the first in a series of panics in developing countries that borrowed too much money in the past few years — much as in 1997, when Bangkok became the first capital to crumple in the Asian financial crisis.

Many analysts said their biggest worries were not about whether Dubai would fully repay its lenders, or how much assistance it would receive from its neighbor Abu Dhabi. Rather, these people said, their main concern was what Dubai’s problems said about the rest of the world.

These analysts fear that while Dubai may have spent its borrowed money more extravagantly than most, it is far from alone in having taken on too much debt for dubious real estate projects. Investors have already raised alarms about debts in Ireland, Greece and East European countries.

During the shortened U.S. trading day Friday, the first since the Wednesday announcement by Dubai that it was seeking more time to repay billions in loans, investors sold bonds of other emerging markets and drove up the price of insuring against a default by those same countries.

If investors’ fears about a crisis in emerging markets were realized, it would be a severe setback to a fragile global economy that has yet to fully recover from the credit crisis last year.

“Dubai could be the beginning of a series of sovereign debt issues or crises,” said Mohamed El-Arian, chief executive of Pimco, the giant bond-trading company. “What Dubai is going to do is make people think more intensely about the lagging implications of last year’s crisis. It’s going to be a wake-up call to the people who thought that the financial crisis was just a flesh wound.”

Full report at:


'Sacred' goat gets Rs 21 lakh offer on Bakr-Eid


28 November 2009

NEW DELHI: He is just 21 months old but already a `superstar'. Khusi, as his owner Jeetender Singh endearingly calls him, is by far the costliest

The sacred goat

The pattern in white on the goat, named Khushi, resembles the number 786 in Arabic, a sacred symbol for Muslims goat selling in Delhi on the eve of Bakr-Eid.

According to Singh, Khusi has a buyer willing to pay a staggering Rs 21 lakh for him. Singh, however, is hoping to get Rs 51 lakh for the animal.

What makes Khusi so special? It's the natural pattern in white on the black goat's body that resembles the number 786 in Arabic - considered lucky by Muslims across the world. That's not all, there's another marking that looks like the crescent moon, which again is a sacred symbol for Muslims. The owner claims the goat was born with the markings.

Singh, a dairy farmer from Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, had named the goat Khusi, little knowing what happiness the goat could bring him. ``Khusi was six months old when I decided to sell it to a Muslim butcher. He was on the verge of killing it when he noticed the number 786. Then he saw the holy moon on the other side of the goat's back. The butcher refused to kill the animal and left,'' he says.

Since then, Singh has been bringing the goat up with utmost care. ``I knew I will have to sell him one day, but I wanted to shower my love on him till that day. I had come to the Jama Masjid last year too and got an offer of Rs 5.15 lakh from a Mumbai-based Sheikh, but I refused to sell. This year, I plan to sell it for Rs 51 lakh. I am still hopeful of getting that price. I am sorry he has to go, but I need to be practical too,'' he says.

By Friday evening, however, Singh's patience had started to wear thin. Now that I have got a bid of Rs 21 lakh, I will wait till 8am on Saturday before selling it,'' Singh says.

Full report at:


Women lead Swiss in vote to ban minarets

November 29, 2009

Matthew Campbell

A right-wing campaign to outlaw minarets on mosques in a referendum being held in Switzerland today has received an unlikely boost from radical feminists arguing that the tower-like structures are “male power symbols” and reminders of Islam’s oppression of women.

A “stop the minarets” campaign has provoked ferment in the land of Heidi, where women are more likely than men to vote for the ban after warnings from prominent feminists that Islam threatens their rights.

Forget about tranquil Alpine scenery and cowbells: one of the most startling features of the referendum campaign has been a poster showing a menacing woman in a burqa beside minarets rising from the Swiss flag.

It seems to have struck a nerve in Langenthal, a small town near Bern where Muslims plan to put up a minaret next to their prayer room in a bleak former paint factory.

“If we give them a minaret, they’ll have us all wearing burqas,” said Julia Werner, a local housewife. “Before you know it, we’ll have sharia law and women being stoned to death in our streets. We won’t be Swiss any more.”

A spoof video game on the internet called Minaret Attack shows minarets popping up all over the idyllic Swiss countryside, after which a message proclaims: “Game over! Switzerland is covered in minarets. Vote to ban them on November 29.”

“It’s a dirty campaign,” said Mutalip Karaademi, an Albanian who leads Langenthal’s small Muslim community. “They’re trying to provoke us.”

A poll suggested the Swiss would narrowly reject a ban but the feminist involvement is having an effect: according to one poll, 39% of women were in favour of a ban, but only 31% of men.

Full report at:


Survey of Pakistan’s Young Predicts ‘Disaster’ if Their Needs Aren’t Addressed

By Sabrina Tavernise

November 22, 2009

LAHORE, Pakistan — Pakistan will face a “demographic disaster” if it does not address the needs of its young generation, the largest in the country’s history, whose views reflect a deep disillusionment with government and democracy, according to a report released here on Saturday.

The report, commissioned by the British Council and conducted by the Nielsen research company, drew a picture of a deeply frustrated young generation that feels abandoned by its government and despondent about its future.

An overwhelming majority of young Pakistanis say their country is headed in the wrong direction, the report said, and only 1 in 10 has confidence in the government. Most see themselves as Muslim first and Pakistani second, and they are now entering a work force in which the lion’s share cannot find jobs, a potentially volatile situation if the government cannot address its concerns.

“This is a real wake-up call for the international community,” said David Steven, a fellow at the Center for International Cooperation at New York University, who was an adviser on the report. “You could get rapid social and economic change. But the other route will lead to a nightmare that would unfold over 20 to 30 years.”

The report provides an unsettling portrait of a difficult time for Pakistan, a 62-year-old nuclear-armed country that is fighting an insurgency in its western mountains and struggling to provide for its rapidly expanding population. The population has risen by almost half in just 20 years, a pace that is double the world average, according to the report.

The despair among the young generation is rooted in the condition of their lives, the report found. Only a fifth of those interviewed had permanent full-time jobs. Half said they did not have sufficient skills to enter the workplace. And one in four could not read or write, a legacy of the country’s abysmal public education system, in which less than 40 percent of children are enrolled in school, far below the South Asian average of 58 percent.

While most do not trust their government, they attach their loyalty to religion. Three-quarters identified themselves primarily as Muslim, with just one in seven identifying themselves as Pakistani.

Full report at:


Gilani link: Is Headley’s brother PRO for Pak PM

Sachin Parashar & Vishwa Mohan

New Delhi: Is David Coleman Headley alias Daood Gilani the brother of Danyal Gilani some say step-brother who is the PRO in the office of Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani There are many indications to suggest this might well be the case.

A clue to that came from the report, based on information from FBI, in New York Times. The paper said that Headley was born in Washington DC where his father Syed Salim Gilani was working for the Pakistan embassy. It described Gilani Sr as an avid musicologist and poet.

As it happens, the name of Danyals father too was Syed Salim Gilani. Gilani Sr was an official belonging to the Pakistan counterpart of the Indian Information Service who rose to be the Director General of Radio Pakistan . Reports in Pakistan media after his death described him as a man who took great interest in music and poetry. The condolence message issued by Pakistan PM Yousuf Raza Gilani mentioned his interests and accomplishments that tallied with the profile of Gilani sketched by FBI for the American paper.

In fact, going by the tradition in the sub-continent where PROs to PM are political appointees who are handpicked for their family and political ties, some suspect that Danyal and, in turn Headley, could very well be related to Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza himself.

Danyal could not be contacted for his version despite repeated attempts on Friday evening.

According to an agency report, he hailed from an influential political family from Multan, who were descendants of Syed Musa Pak, a spiritual figure of Qadri Sufism order which traces its origins to Gilan province of Iran.


Pakistan must help break al-Qaeda, says Brown

29 November 2009

Gordon Brown has told the BBC that Pakistan must do more to "break" al-Qaeda and find Osama Bin Laden.

Questions must be asked about why nobody had been able "to spot or detain or get close to" the al-Qaeda leader, the prime minister said.

He said he wanted to see "more progress in taking out" Bin Laden and his second-in-command Ayman Zawahiri.

Meanwhile, a Senate report claims US forces had Bin Laden "within their grasp" in Afghanistan in late 2001.

BBC World Affairs correspondent Mike Wooldridge said this was not a new claim.

However, he said, staff working for the Democratic majority on the Foreign Relations Committee now claimed to have evidence that in December 2001 US military power was kept on the sidelines while Bin Laden escaped "unmolested" into Pakistan's unregulated tribal areas.

Air strikes

The report comes days before US President Barack Obama is due to announce additional US troops for Afghanistan - Mr Brown is to announce whether conditions have been met to send an extra 500 British troops.

Speaking in a BBC interview, the prime minister said that if so much effort was going into building up security in Afghanistan, Pakistan had "to be able to show that it can take on al-Qaeda".

The prime minister said Pakistan had made progress against the Taliban in south Waziristan.

But he told the BBC: "We've got to ask ourselves why, eight years after September the 11th, nobody has been able to spot or detain or get close to Osama bin Laden, nobody's been able to get close to Zawahiri, the number two in al-Qaeda."

Pakistan had to "join us in the major effort that the world is committing resources to, and that is not only to isolate al-Qaeda, but to break them in Pakistan", he said.

Pakistan's prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, will meet Mr Brown at Downing Street on Thursday. Mr Brown informed Pakistan's president, Asif Ali Zardari by telephone that he intended to speak out about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

The prime minister told the BBC that over eight years "we should have been able to do more ... to get to the bottom of where al-Qaeda is operating from".

'Political surge'

Progress had been made he said, but Pakistan had to make sure that "in South Waziristan we are taking on al-Qaeda directly".

Full report at:


Rs 15cr heroin seized from Afghan traffickers

Dwaipayan Ghosh

New Delhi: In one of the biggest hauls by Delhi police, the inter-state cell of the crime branch arrested two Afghan nationals, along with their Indian conduit, for allegedly trying to smuggle 15kg of highquality heroin worth Rs 15 crore in open market.

The arrests came at the arrival terminal 2 of IGI Airport on Thursday evening. What is startling is the revelation that the accused had managed to walk through the customs check twice at the Kabul and IGI airports with the huge stock of contraband.

The two Afghan nationals Mohammad Masoom (45) and Mohammed (30) had allegedly brought the contraband from Kandahar. They boarded Ariana Airlines flight from Kabul and landed in Delhi Thursday evening. We arrested the three following a tip-off , Delhi Police commissioner Y S Dadwal said.

On being asked how the accused managed to dodge airport security, Dadwal said the customs officials were the best authority to comment on it.

We have activated various agencies as narco-terrorism is one of the most flourishing businesses in Afghanistan. We are investigating if this money was pushed back in that country to carry out terror attacks, said a crime branch source.

Initial investigations suggest the consignment was sent from Kabul by an alleged Afghan smuggler, Dawood, who earlier stayed in Lajpat Nagar after allegedly fleeing during the Taliban regime.

Dawood returned to his country after Taliban crumbled and got into this business . His son was also into this and was arrested a few days back by the Punjab Police , said Amulya Patnaik, joint commissioner, crime.

The third accused, Raju Dawar (23), resides in Lajpat Nagar and has grown up with Afghan refugees. He speaks Pashtoon fluently. He was arrested from IGI soon after Masoom handed him the suitcase containing 7.1kg drug, additional commissioner (crime) Neeraj Thakur said.

While Mohammed managed to give police the slip, he was later caught from Hotel Kabuli in Jangpura, southeast Delhi, after the questioning of the two others.


'Pained' Saeed denies role in 26/11

28 Nov, 2009

Omer Farooq Khan

ISLAMABAD: In an ironic twist apparently aimed at deflecting attention from the 26/11 Mumbai carnage, Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief and mastermind of the attacks Hafeez Saeed has perversely denied any involvement saying he was ‘‘extremely saddened by the loss of innocent lives’’.

The statement coincided with the first anniversary of the attacks, when 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists carrying automatic rifles and heavy backpacks stuffed with bullets, grenades, sophisticated communication equipment and almonds for energy began a three-day assault on Mumbai that left 166 people dead.

Saeed, who heads the charity considered a thinly-veiled front for the LeT, accused India of pursuing a ‘‘personal vendetta’’ against him. The terror mastermind, in a letter to a Pakistani TV channel, claimed that he empathises with the affected families. ‘‘India has deceitfully put the entire blame on me and JuD,’’ he said. ‘‘The objective of writing the letter is to call for an end to a negative propaganda against JuD and allow it to resume its humanitarian work.’’

India has repeatedly demanded Pakistan to take action against the terror mastermind.

New Delhi maintains that it has concrete proof against Saeed and the dossiers handed over to Pakistan have blow-by-blow account of his role including his meetings with the terrorists unleashed on Mumbai.

The terror mastermind is also believed to have seen the terrorists off and briefed them on their ‘‘Mumbai mission’’.

Saeed said the rules of jihad don’t include indiscriminate killing. ‘‘India has deceitfully blamed me. My crime is that I expose India’s two-faced policy of overtly appearing all smiles and geniality while it conceals a dagger in its sleeve,’’ he said.

He claimed that restrictions on his ‘‘charity’’ meant that ‘‘if a few hundred families were affected (by the Mumbai attacks) in India, at least 5,000 families in Pakistan have had to endure momentous suffering’’.


Fears for Iranian Nobel peace laureate in regime crackdown

By Katherine Butler

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Human rights groups demand help for activists alongside nuclear talks

Iran's most outspoken human rights activist, Shirin Ebadi, whose Nobel prize has been seized by the Islamic regime, is in danger of being imprisoned or placed under permanent house arrest if she returns to Tehran, her supporters warned yesterday. They demanded that the international community place the Islamic regime's human rights violations at the centre of negotiations aimed at containing Iran's nuclear ambitions.

In a rare show of international unity Russia and China lined up yesterday alongside Britain, France, Germany and the US to demand that Iran halt work on a secret uranium-enrichment plant. The vote by the board of the UN's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, warning of serious consequences if Iran fails to engage constructively to end the nuclear stand-off, could form the basis for a future UN security council resolution, leading to sanctions.

The vote represents a hardening in the approach of world powers who have been attempting to draw Tehran into comprehensive negotiations since the revelation in September of the previously undisclosed nuclear plant. Gordon Brown called the vote "a very clear warning" and said sanctions would be "the next stage" if Iran fails to respond.

But the International Federation for Human Rights to which Dr Ebadi's Tehran-based centre is affiliated, said the treatment of the 62-year-old Nobel laureate and thousands of other activists should not be separated from the nuclear negotiations and should be countered with punitive measures, including the withdrawal of ambassadors.

Emmanouli Athanasiou, head of the organisation's Asia desk, said Iran was using its nuclear dispute with the West to silence dissent at home. "This is pure intimidation. But Shirin Ebadi's situation is very serious, and we believe she is in danger if she goes back to Iran. Does the world really want another Aung San Suu Kyi?" Dr Ebadi herself has demanded that the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon visit Iran and appoint a special UN envoy for Iran.

Full report at:


Muslims worldwide celebrate Eid

28 November 2009

NEW DELHI: Muslims all over the world are celebrating the festival of Eid Al Adha

Eid celebrated Muslims offer prayers on the festival of Eid Al Adha at the Ferozeshah Kotla mosque in New Delhi. Eid al-Adha is celebrated to commemorate prophet Ibrahim's faith in being willing to sacrifice his son to God. (AP Photo)

Dressed in festive clothes, Muslims thronged mosques across the national capital Saturday to pray on Eid.

One of the main centres for the Eid festivities was the Jama Masjid where thousands of devotees gathered to offer prayers.

People across the Gulf region celebrated Eid Al Adha, the festival of sacrifice on Friday to marks the culmination of the Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Millions of pilgrims from all over the world gathered at the mount Arafat near Mecca for the final leg of the Hajj on Friday.

This year, the Hajj has been marred by heavy rains that flooded many cities, the city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia is the worst affected.

Eid al-Adha, the festival of Sacrifice, commemorates Prophet's readiness to sacrifice his own son in obedience to God.

According to the Holy Quran, God appeared in Prophet Ibrahim's dream and asked him to sacrifice something that was most dear to him.

Prophet Ibrahim decided to sacrifice his own son, Ismail. However, when he put a knife on Ismail's throat, God replaced his son with a goat through a miracle.

Consequently, it has become a tradition to slaughter livestock and feed the poor to mark the occasion.


Chinese Muslims in Pakistan celebrate Eid-Ul-Azha


    ISLAMABAD, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Muslims in different Pakistani cities gathered here Saturday to celebrate Eid-Ul-Azha.

    Raza Khan, head of the association of the overseas Chinese of the Uyghur nationality in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, hosted a reception at his residency in the capital, Islamabad.

    Chinese Muslims in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and nearby cities and diplomats of the Chinese embassy were present at the reception.

    Chinese Ambassador Luo Zhaohui greeted all the Muslims with best wishes for their traditional festival. He also presented gifts to them.

    Traditional Muslim food was offered and goats were sacrificed at the reception.

    Raza Khan, who visited some cities of China's Xijiang Uygur Autonomous Region last month, told Xinhua that he was impressed with the economic development there.

    He said that people of different nationalities in Urumqi, capital of Xijiang, are cooperative with each other and everyone he met is happy and has some business to do.

    He said that the railroads and express highways between the cities he visited show a good symbol of prosperity.


LONDON: Altaf greets nation on Eid-ul-Azha eve

November 29, 2009

LONDON: The Quaid Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has expressed greeting to nation on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha festival on Saturday, Geo news reported.

In his message to nation, he said the hold day of Eid-ul-Ezha will bring prosperity to Pakistan and its people.

This he said while addressing the members of MQM coordination committee at Khidmat-e-Kahalq Foundation (KKF) Center here in Karachi on Saturday.

He also offered salute to those who deposited animals’ hides into KKF, saying you have contributed to minimize the sufferings of the needy people through charity of animals’ hides.

He hoped KKF to make, yet another time, the record of hides’ collection through out country.


Local Muslims observe Islamic holy day

By Cheryl Hatch

November 27, 2009


The women climb the stairs to the second floor of the mosque. They slide off their shoes; some shed their head scarves. All are wearing their sparkling finest dresses and jewels.

They have come to pray and celebrate Eid al-Adha, “the Festival of Sacrifice,” a Muslim holy day celebrated around the world that commemorates Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his only son to Allah, as a test of his faith and obedience to God’s will. On the main floor, the men assemble. In Islam, men and women gather and pray separately.

At 8:30 a.m., more than 60 women file into a small room and form four rows, facing east toward Mecca, the holy city in Saudi Arabia. Some sit quietly after prayer and listen to the sermon; others move into the larger room to talk and keep an eye on the children playing.

“Eid Mubarak. Eid Mubarak,” they exchange the traditional Arabic greeting, “Blessed Festival.” They embrace, kiss each other on the cheek. The teenage girls gather outside the bathroom, “by the mirror,” they joke, to talk about school, grades and other things.

“The Eid is important to me because our lives are so busy with school,” says Aasya Moussaoui, 16, of Corvallis. “It gives me a chance to step away and take a breath. To get together with family and friends. To relax and renew the feeling of community. And eat doughnuts.”

Doughnuts are indeed a favourite among the foods that cover a table in the main room, offering an array of specialties and treats as diverse as the women who brought them. There’s pumpkin pie, hummus, cornbread, fruit, cheese and mamoul, a dish from Syria and Jordan made with dates and nuts.

Mariam Rehman, 18, said she was happy to see an advertisement for Black Friday on Facebook that said “Happy Eid al-Adha.”

Full report at:


Muslims in America pray for peace and reconciliation

By Anwar Iqbal

Saturday, 28 Nov, 2009

WASHINGTON, Nov 27: Muslims across America prayed for peace and reconciliation on Friday as they celebrated Eidul Azha under the shadow of an incident that can potentially damage their relations with other communities.

On Nov 5, a Muslim major in the US Army, Nidal Malik Hasan, killed 13 soldiers and wounded 30 others at a military base in Texas, apparently to protest his deployment to Afghanistan.

The killings put American Muslims “under some pressure to either denounce or defend their faith,” said Hamid Dabashi, a Muslim professor at New York’s Columbia University.

On Eidul Azha, CNN asked Prof Dabashi to write a special article for them on how incidents like the Fort Hood shootings affects Muslims in America.

“Islam is not the only world religion with this proclivity for good and evil,” wrote Mr Dabashi.

“The same Hinduism that produced Mahatma Gandhi and his non-violent theory of civil disobedience has also produced Hindu fundamentalists who sliced and skewered pregnant Muslim women alive in Gujarat.

“The same Christianity that produced Saint Francis of Assisi and Mother Theresa also produced children’s crusades and Spanish conquistadors who burned native Americans alive 13 at a time.”

The Islamic Society of North America, the largest Muslim group in the US, launched a special fund, The Ft Hood Family Fund, for the benefit of the families of the Ft Hood victims in collaboration with various national Muslim and interfaith organisations.

The Fiqh Council of North America emphasised “adherence to Islamic values and principles of peace, justice and fair dealing with all people in every situation,” quoting a verse from the Holy Quran, which says: “If anyone kills a person … it is as if he kills all mankind, and if anyone saves a life it is as if he saved the lives of all mankind.”

Full report at:


Sudan teen lashed for "indecent" skirt: lawyer

Fri Nov 27, 2009

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - A 16-year-old south Sudanese girl was lashed 50 times after a judge ruled her knee-length skirt was indecent, her lawyer and family said in the latest case to push Sudan's Islamic law into the spotlight.

The mother of teenager Silva Kashif told Reuters on Friday she was planning to sue the police who made the arrest and the judge who imposed the sentence, as her daughter was underage and a Christian.

The case will add fuel to a debate already raging over Sudan's decency laws after this year's high-profile conviction of Sudanese U.N. official Lubna Hussein, who was briefly jailed for wearing trousers in public.

Hussein, a former journalist who used her case to campaign against Sudan's public order and decency regulations, is touring France to publicize her book about the prosecution. She had faced the maximum penalty of 40 lashes but was given a lighter sentence.

Kashif, whose family comes from the south Sudanese town of Yambio, was arrested while walking to the market near her home in the Khartoum suburb of Kalatla last week, her mother Jenty Doro told Reuters.

"She is just a young girl but the policeman pulled her along in the market like she was a criminal. It was wrong," said Doro.

Doro said Khashif was taken to Kalatla court where she was convicted and punished by a female police officer in front of the judge.

"I only heard about it after she was lashed. Later we all sat and cried ... People have different religions and that should be taken into account," she said.

Arrests for indecency, drunkenness and other public order offences are not uncommon in Khartoum which is governed by Islamic sharia law.

But the punishment of residents of the capital originating from the south remains a sensitive issue.

Full report at:


Tri-City Muslims celebrate Hajj

By John Trumbo


Yehia Ibrahim watched as dozens of men removed their shoes and filed into the carpeted main room, while women in traditional Arabic clothing tended to children or set dishes of food on long tables in the social hall.

As president of the Tri-Cities Islamic Center in West Richland, Ibrahim wanted everything to go as planned Friday morning for the day of celebrating Hajj.

Hundreds of people filled the rooms. Men in the front, sitting on their knees or prostrating themselves toward the east.

The women did the same, but in a section toward the rear.

The yearly celebration, set by a lunar-based calendar, observes the sacrifice when Abraham, whom Muslims consider their father, was prepared to sacrifice his son at God's request, said Hassan Ziada, the imam for the mosque.

Followers of Islam around the world mark the observance by either a feast at their own mosque or by making a pilgrimage to Mecca, Ziada said.

It is expected that all followers of Islam will make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in their lifetime, if health and finances allow, Ziada said. His first was more than two years ago while he was living in Saudi Arabia and teaching at a university.

But on Friday, Ziada was the worship leader. He explained that Hajj is one of two important feasts in Islam. The first is Ramadan and the second is Hajj, which is known as the feast of sacrifice.

Christians and Jews believe Abraham in the Bible took his son Isaac up on Mount Moriah to be sacrificed as God instructed. Muslims have a similar belief, but say Abraham took his other son, Ishmael, whose mother was Hagar.

In both accounts, God miraculously provided a ram that became the substitute sacrifice.

Ziada said the gathering at Mecca is important because Abraham built the first building at the current site of the Kaaba, which is considered Islam's most sacred site. Followers of Islam pray daily facing the Kaaba.

Full report at:


Chorus of smears taint Muslims’ observances

November 28, 2009

By Jimmy E. Jones

OVER the past two weeks, millions of Muslims worldwide have repeated the following phrases in Arabic countless times:

God is the greater

God is the greater

There is no God but God

God is the greater

God is the greater

And to God belongs all praise.

Unfortunately, this has been overshadowed by the fact a lone gunman allegedly shouted “Allah-u-Akbar” (God is the greater) during the Nov. 5 murder of 13 people at Fort Hood.

If the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s recent report, “Mapping the Global Muslim Population,” is correct, nearly one of four people living on Earth are Muslims. The overwhelming majority of these approximately 1.57 billion people have spent two weeks either preparing for what has been called the world’s largest peace conference (Hajj or pilgrimage, with 2 million to 3 million people annually) or for Islam’s biggest holiday, Eid-ul-adha. This “festival of sacrifice,” taking place this weekend, commemorates Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his firstborn son, Ishmael.

For many Muslims in the United States, holiday preparations and traditional fasting have been tainted by a chorus of politicians and pundits smearing Islam and all Muslims because of the actions of a few.

I feel no need to apologize for things I have not done, or for things that the overwhelming majority of Muslims do not teach or condone.

Like other Americans, I am saddened and shocked by incidents such as Fort Hood and the murderous shooting in an Orlando, Fla., office building, which happened the day after.

I view these as a cause for collective positive action, not the group scapegoating that has taken place.

As a Muslim and an American, I stand ready to work with anyone willing to reduce the physical and verbal violence that has taken hold of our society. I do so because my faith really matters to me.

Jimmy E. Jones is associate professor of world religions at Manhattanville College and president of Masjid Al-Islam in New Haven. Write to him at 623 George St., New Haven 06511. E-mail:


Islamic centre in Northville meets outcry Location, parking plans rile neighbours


Nov. 28, 2009

Mohammad Usman wants Muslims in Novi and the Northville communities to have a convenient place to pray.

Many Muslims in the area travel to Canton or Farmington Hills if they want to attend daily prayers.

"We would like to have a place to worship like anyone else so we can fulfill our obligated prayers," Usman said.

But the location of the Meadowbrook Islamic Centre, at 41885 Eight Mile in Northville Township, has some neighbors complaining. The centre, which is not yet in use, is in a residential area and occupies a single-family home. Some neighbours also are opposed to the centre’s plans to create a parking lot on the front lawn.

"We're being invaded," said Bent Boving, 89, from his home next door. "I'm vigorously opposed to this."

Boving and his wife, Renee Boving, 81, said their opposition isn't based on religion. Instead, the couple say they foresee problems from traffic, vehicle pollution and noise.

"We have no problems with diversity," Renee Boving said.

Neighbour Steve McGuirk, 53, agreed. "The biggest thing is they want to take the whole front yard up with a parking lot."

Jennifer Frey, community development director for Northville Township, said about 150 residents attended a Nov. 18 meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals on the issue.

At the meeting, the centre, which bought the home in June, was requesting two variances. One would allow it to build a 42-space parking lot; the other deals with the house's proximity to the road.

Full report at:


Islam's warrior prophet shrouded by myth, devotion

By Kevin Eckstrom Religion News Service

Nov. 27, 2009,

Yet for detractors, Islam's Prophet Muhammad is a polygamist who spawned a religion that subjugates women, condones violence, and was, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “spread by the sword.”

In short, when his best-known modern portrait is a 2005 Danish cartoon that depicts a surly bearded man with a bomb hidden in his turban, Muhammad has an image problem.

“He's been remade in the image of Osama bin Laden,” said Bruce Lawrence, who directs the Duke Islamic Studies Center at Duke University. “People connect the dots and see this fanatical side of Islam and say (militants) must be following someone, and they point to Muhammad.”

Enter Omid Safi, a scholar of Islam at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill whose new biography, Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters, attempts to discover the true Muhammad obscured by both hagiography and militant extremism.

“I'm trying to help non-Muslims learn things about Muhammad that they've never known,” Safi said over a pot of Ethiopian coffee, “and help Muslims remember things they've forgotten.”

Born in Jacksonville, Fla., and raised in Iran, his family fled Tehran in 1985 and sought refuge in the U.S. Tucked into their two suitcases was an image of Muhammad that now hangs in Safi's home.

Safi, 38, is on the front edge of a generation of scholars who, with one foot in both worlds, are trying to explain Islam and the West to each other. His new book, published by HarperOne, positions Safi as a three-way translator between Muhammad, his followers and legions of critics.

In many ways, the schizophrenic images of Muhammad are as old as Islam itself. His divine revelation of monotheism in 610 A.D. was greeted as heresy by his polytheistic neighbors. In a society that prized tribal loyalty, he preached a message of universal humanity. When given the chance for retribution, he offered amnesty.

Full report at:


Afghan soldiers dance with Edmonton-based mentor


27th November 2009

Grateful for Canada's work with country's young army

HERO CAMP, KANDAHAR PROVINCE — Capt. Gord Barnes is in his glory dancing in a circle of clapping Afghan National Army soldiers this Muslim holy day of Eid.

The Newfoundlander is the senior medical mentor for the Operational Mentoring and Liason Team (OMLT) that has been working to strengthen the Afghan National Army (ANA) since 2006.

"This is great. I've never seen them party like this," says a grinning Barnes, with 1 Field Ambulance in Edmonton.

Barnes and several other members of his Kandahar Airfield-based OMLT team are visiting soldiers at ANA area headquarters, known as Hero Camp, located a few kilometres outside the base perimeter but still considered relatively safe from insurgent attacks.

Up to 3,000 of the 164,000 ANA force are housed in barracks here.

"We are so happy you are here," says ANA Sgt. Safiullah Salik, of Canada's efforts guiding the ANA.

There are 150 Canadian OMLT troops in Afghanistan, most of them from Edmonton-based 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

OMLT troops live outside the wire with ANA soldiers, numbering about five to every 60 Afghans. They sweep through villages, searching for insurgents, compounds of interest, weapons.

OMLT acting commanding officer Lt.-Col. Martin Kenneally says these Afghan men are some of the fiercest troops in existence.

Full report at:


Karzai steps up calls on Taliban for peace

Saturday, 28 Nov, 2009

KABUL, Nov 27: Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Friday marked the Muslim festival of Eidul Azha with a call on the Taliban and other Islamist insurgents to join peace talks in the war-torn country.

His latest call came despite a statement from Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar that the militia would never join in talks with Karzai’s government.

“On this holy day of Eidul Azha again I hope that our brothers and countrymen, that the Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami, that everyone who takes a gun against their land will return to their homeland and join in the rebuilding of their country,” Karzai said after a prayer meeting.

“While there is no peace in Afghanistan, we will continue to invite the Taliban (to peace talks),” Karzai told reporters at the presidential palace.

“This effort is for the people of Afghanistan, for peace and stability, and my hope is that Mullah Mohammad Omar and other Taliban also intend peace and stability in Afghanistan.” Karzai was inaugurated on Nov 19 for a second five-year term after winning a fraud-tainted August poll.

In his speech he repeated calls for the Taliban to rejoin the political process in Afghanistan, where about 100,000 US and Nato troops are stationed.

President Barack Obama is expected to announce on Tuesday how many extra troops the United States will deploy as part of a new strategy in Afghanistan, in the ninth year since US-led troops ousted the Taliban regime.

Full report at:


Afghan President Karzai to be set international targets

28 November 2009

Afghanistan's president will be set targets by the international community for training Afghan forces and tackling corruption, Gordon Brown has said.

Mr Brown said Hamid Karzai would be expected to give commitments at a conference in London on 28 January.

The prime minister confirmed the international conference plans at the Commonwealth summit in Trinidad.

Mr Karzai would face targets of providing 50,000 troops and barring corrupt provincial governors, he said.

Mr Brown made the announcement alongside United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who will be at the conference.

The pair have been discussing strategy for Afghanistan at the summit.

'Political push'

They will be joined in London by Mr Karzai, who was recently installed for a second term as president, and representatives of the 43 nations making up Nato's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Mr Brown also made it clear that international troop levels would rise in the short term.

US President Barack Obama is expected to announce a decision on reinforcements for Afghanistan on Tuesday.

The prime minister said: "What we need is a political push to match the military push we're now agreeing to.

Full report at:


Israel records sharp fall in Muslim birth rate

Saturday, 28 Nov, 2009

JERUSALEM: The birth rate among Israel’s Muslim Arab minority has fallen by a quarter since 2000, official figures showed on Friday.

The annual birth rate fell from 3.8 per cent in 2000 to 2.8 per cent at the end of 2008, according to the figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics released on the occasion of the Muslim Eid Al-Adha holiday.

In 2008, Israel had a Muslim population of 1.24 million, including 256,000 Muslim Palestinians living in annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

In the Israeli population of 7.5 million, there were 5,570,000 Jews — 75.5 per cent of the total and 1,490,OOO Arabs, including Christians — 20.2 per cent.

The relative birth rates of Jews and Muslims is a sensitive issue in Israel as it vies to remain a Jewish and democratic state.

The Kadima party of former foreign minister Tzipi Livni broke with the main right-wing Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu out of a conviction that Israel could not occupy all the Biblical land of Israel between the Mediterraean and the River Jordan while remaining both Jewish and democratic.—AFP


Security beefed up at Gaza-Egypt border ahead of Shalit transfer

By Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff


Voice of Palestine radio quoted Egyptian sources on Saturday as saying that in an unusual move, security around the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt has been beefed up, speculating that the added security could signal the imminent transfer of captive Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit from Gaza into Egypt.

Shalit was captured by Gaza militants in a cross-border raid in 2006 and has been held in captivity for over three years. Hamas, the rulers of the Gaza Strip, have demanded the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel in exchange for Shalit's freedom.

According to the Egyptian sources, "this is an unusual move indicating that the kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit will be handed over to Cairo very soon."

The sources also said that when Shalit is transferred from Gaza into Egypt he will be examined by Red Cross medical teams as well as Israeli and French teams, in addition to the German mediator. Israel will simultaneously free 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, the sources said.

Senior Hamas officials in Damascus told the Palestinian radio station that the organization has agreed in principle to the compromise presented by the German mediator, Channel 10 reported. "We can begin the practical arrangements immediately," one of the officials said.

On Friday, Fox News reported that the prisoner exchange deal was close to completion, and that it will likely be carried out next week.

Sources said Friday that talks aimed at advancing the deal would resume on Monday, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returns from his trip to Germany and the Muslim holiday of Id al-Adha concludes.

According to Fox, Egyptian sources said that Hamas has yet to respond to Israel's latest objections, but that the latest developments indicate that the differences between the two sides have significantly narrowed.

A major sticking point, the report continued, is a disagreement over where Palestinian prisoners from East Jerusalem would be deported to once they are released in the exchange.

"What we are seeing now is the end game," Fox News quoted a source close to the negotiations as saying. Both sides, however, also expressed caution that a final agreement is very close, but has not yet been concluded.

Arab media on Thursday reported significant progress in the talks to free the soldier. Senior Hamas officials, namely the heads of Hamas' Damascus-based political bureau, did not say the talks have failed but that a number of clauses in the German mediator's proposal were problematic.

Senior Hamas officials said Thursday that the talks had hit a snag over some of the Palestinian prisoners the Islamic group wants freed, including Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Sa'adat.

Full report at:


Pakistan's president hands over nuclear powers

28 November 2009

President Asif Ali Zardari has handed control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal to his prime minister, in an apparent bid to ease political pressure.

The move was a "giant leap" forward that empowered the PM and parliament, Mr Zardari's spokesman said.

But analysts said it was an attempt to placate political and military critics, as an amnesty protecting Mr Zardari from possible prosecution expired.

The amnesty gave him and several others immunity from corruption charges.

The presidency announced that control of the National Command Authority, responsible for nuclear weapons, had shifted to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

"The president has handed over his power regarding the national command and control authority to me and has issued an ordinance," Mr Gilani was quoted by news agency AFP as saying.

Turmoil fears

Thousands of politicians, lawyers and bureaucrats are said to have benefited from the amnesty, known as the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

It was introduced by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2007 as part of a proposed power-sharing plan with Mr Zardari's late wife, Benazir Bhutto.

But the amnesty was challenged in the Supreme Court, which told Mr Zardari to get approval of all decrees issued by Mr Musharraf by 28 November - something he has been unable to do.

Correspondents say the expiration of the amnesty threatens political turmoil at a time when Pakistan is battling Taliban and other militants along its border with Afghanistan.

The opposition wants lawmakers covered by the NRO to step down.

And while Mr Zardari has additional immunity from prosecution as president, his opponents want the Supreme Court to declare his election illegal.

Mr Zardari is currently very unpopular and observers say devolving more power to parliament could be a way of bolstering support.

Full report at:


3,000 Muslims gather for Feast of Sacrifice in Hampton

By Cory Nealon 247-4760

November 27, 2009

HAMPTON -   — Some woke early and drove in from North Carolina. Others made a short jaunt across town.

The destination wasn't Walmart, Best Buy or other Black Friday hot spots.

Instead it was the Hampton Convention Center, where approximately 3,000 Muslims gathered Friday morning for the Feast of Sacrifice, or Eid–ul-Adha, one of the most important Islamic festivals.

"We can win the hearts of people," said Ahmed Noor, a trustee of Hampton Mosque who addressed the worshippers. "Islam is the way of love and caring."

The festival, celebrated worldwide, commemorates Abraham's willingness to obey God by sacrificing his son Ishmael. It occurs the day after Muslims conducting Hajj — the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia — descend from Mount Arafat.

Friday's participants in Hampton began arriving around 8 a.m. Worshippers, many carrying prayer mats, doffed their shoes as they entered a large second-floor hall. Persistent chants ensued until a group prayer, which was followed by Noor's speech.

A professor of aerospace engineering at Old Dominion University, Noor said the festival is a time for Muslims to give thanks and consider how they can better their community. For example, a college student with limited means might volunteer to drive senior citizens to buy groceries or other errands, he said.

Like many religious services, the festival places an emphasis on food.

For some, this entails sacrificing a sheep, goat, cow or camel and giving the meat to those less fortunate. For many in Hampton Roads, it involves cooking dishes and dividing the food among family, friends and the needy, Noor said.

The festival comes the same month that an Army psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Malik, was accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas. Coverage of the shooting, Noor said, has unfairly focused on Malik's religion.

Full report at:,0,5925901.story


Shah Rukh Khan calls for solidarity against terrorism

November 29, 2009

Spicezee Bureau

New Delhi: The capital on Sunday evening saw a salutation to India and its integrity in the form of ‘A Nation In Solidarity Against Terror’. Seen hobnobbing were representatives of all walks of life including Bollywood that was significantly represented by Shah Rukh Khan.

Organised under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), a 60-minute event entitled at India Gate hosted by actress/director Nandita Das saw SRK speak his heart out with a somber mood on being an Indian, then Muslim and most importantly being ‘one’.

The actor started by saying how proud he was about his nationality. “I am very proud to be an India. My freedom fighter dad like every dad gave me the teaching of ‘Mazhab nahi sikhata aapas mein bair rakhna…’. But what is sad now is that these important teachings of childhood have now become dim, for, the devils of every religion have made their own religion called ‘terrorism’ and this religion only loves death. The choice in front of us is to either destroy or perish. We have to destroy this terror or else there will be only annihilation. I don’t want to die, I want to live and I am sure you don’t want to die too. So, the only idea is to believe in God by whatever name we address him. I pray to Allah that we be happy, our lives be good and we stay together”, said SRK.

The event was intended to express the nation's solidarity against terror. The date was symbolic, since it was the final day when the siege in Mumbai ended last year.

Various artists, sportspersons and representatives of civil society from across the country came together to share the message of solidarity, courage and resolve to stand up against terrorist violence.

Other prominent persons who participated in the event included Rahul Gandhi, Javed Akhtar, Dr L Subramaniam, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Shankar Mahadevan, Shreya Ghoshal, Shilpa Rao, Shekhar Gupta, Abhinav Bindra, Sania Mirza and Feroz Abbas Khan.

The event was managed by Wizcraft International Entertainment.

The sole message conveyed by the event was: "Terror has no religion. Our solidarity, courage and resoluteness are the answer to the threat of terror."


692 websites hacked in just 30 days...


28 November 2009

NEW DELHI/CHANDIGARH: It is news the IT cities of Gurgaon and Greater Noida would rather do without. According to a report prepared by the Computer Emergency Research Team from the central IT ministry, a total of 692 websites have been hacked into in September alone.

The unit has now asked the respective state governments (Haryana and UP) to secure their own websites. ‘‘We have instructed all state governments to install security measures, especially for those sites which contain sensitive data,’’ said a senior ministry official.

According to sources, almost all types of websites have been affected — dotcom, dotin, dotgovt and even dotedu. ‘‘A total of 511 websites in the domain of dotin have been affected — 74% of all those affected — while 20% of the websites are in the dotcom domain. In our own IT department, a total of 63 attacks have been reported. Curiously, 21 of these attacks have come from hackers based in China,’’ said a senior government official.

Sources in the ministry point out that the hacking has been carried out through several methods. ‘‘The most common method is to try and steal the password from the administrator or even get the user password. Another method is to try and enter the file transfer protocol or web server and destroy the site. If successful, the hacker can completely destroy the website. Another method is to try and ‘poison’ the URL,’’ added the official. Police said they have received complaints of hacking from military, paramilitary, defence ministry and educational institutions.

‘‘However, it is a technical field that needs a lot of expertise. We are not yet equipped to handle such pressure as of now. We hope that further training can help us in cracking these cases,’’ said a senior official of the economic offences wing, which handles cases for Delhi police.


Taliban Open Northern Front in Afghanistan


Published: November 26, 2009

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan — Far from the heartland of the Taliban insurgency in the south, this once peaceful northern province was one place American and Afghan officials thought they did not have to worry about.

Afghan officials cut the police force here by a third two years ago and again earlier this year. Security was left to a few thousand German peacekeepers. Only one Afghan logistics battalion was stationed here.

But over the last two years the Taliban have steadily staged a resurgence in Kunduz, where they now threaten a vital NATO supply line and employ more sophisticated tactics. In November, residents listened to air raids by NATO forces for five consecutive nights, the first heavy fighting since the Taliban were overthrown eight years ago.

The turnabout vividly demonstrates how security has broken down even in unexpected parts of Afghanistan. It also points to the hard choices facing American, NATO and Afghan officials even if President Obama decides to send more soldiers to Afghanistan, as he is expected to announce next week.

Even under the most generous deployments now under consideration, relatively few additional troops are expected in the north; most will be directed to the heartland of the Taliban resistance in the south and east.

Afghan and international officials say security never had to deteriorate so badly here. The Taliban were a scattered and defeated force in northern Afghanistan, long home to the strongest anti-Taliban resistance, the Northern Alliance.

But the government, and American military trainers, failed to remain vigilant to signs of Taliban encroachment, and reduced deployments in the northern provinces in order to bolster other, more volatile regions.

The decisions created vulnerabilities as Kunduz became a target with the opening of a new logistics route here for NATO supplies from Russia and Central Asia, over an American-financed bridge that opened in 2007. The route is supposed to serve as a strategic alternative to the treacherous passage through Pakistan, which is regularly attacked by Taliban militants.

Full report at:


Singhal to Advani: Stop calling December 6 your saddest day

Neena Vyas

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party was an interloper that muscled its way into the “Ram temple movement” that was led by the ‘sants’ and the ‘sants’ alone, Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal said here on Friday.

“Koi ghus gaya to kaise rokte?” If some people forced their way into the “movement,” how could we stop them, Mr. Singhal asked. Asked whether the BJP would once again use the issue for electoral gains, Mr. Singhal said the media should put the question to the BJP leaders.

It was for the BJP to debate the Liberhan Commission report in Parliament. He would advise Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha L.K. Advani to “Stop describing December 6, 1992 [the day the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was demolished] as the saddest day of your life.” Mr. Singhal said the day ought to be celebrated as “Shaurya Divas” -- Day of Valour -- and it was time Mr. Advani stopped calling it a black day or a sad day or saying the demolition was unfortunate.

The VHP’s stance indicates that the mother organisation, the RSS, is looking at once again bringing the Ram temple controversy on the national agenda. The BJP may also follow suit as indicated by the choice of its speaker to lead the debate scheduled for December 1 in the Lok Sabha: Rajnath Singh, who is not expected to take the “saddest day of my life” kind of stand.

Interestingly, Mr. Advani first asked his deputy Sushma Swaraj to lead the debate but later agreed to Mr. Singh doing the honours.

Full report at:


In Turkey, Trial Casts Wide Net of Mistrust


November 21, 2009

ISTANBUL — Few here doubt that the case began with something threatening: in June 2007, 27 hand grenades and fuses were found in the attic of a house in an Istanbul slum. Investigators claimed they were stashed there by an ultranationalist retired officer and they were later linked to an elaborate coup plot.

But the question many are asking, inside and outside Turkey, is whether the Islamic-inspired government is exaggerating the threat in order to wage a much larger battle against this moderate Muslim nation’s secular establishment.

Since 2007, 300 people have been detained during the investigation of an underground group known as Ergenekon, including a writer of erotic novels, four-star generals and other military officers, professors, editors and underworld figures — some of whom appear to have committed no offense greater than speaking in favor of Turkey as a secular state.

“Ergenekon has become a larger project in which the investigation is being used as a tool to sweep across civic society and cleanse Turkey of all secular opponents,” said Aysel Celikel, a former justice minister and president of a charity that finances the secular education of underprivileged rural girls. “As such, the country’s democracy, its rule of law and its freedom of expression are at stake.”

In all, 194 people have been charged, accused of trying to overthrow the government as part of Ergenekon (pronounced ahr-GEN-eh-kahn), named after a mythic Turkish valley. Prosecutors contend that they planned to engage in civil unrest, assassinations and terrorism to create chaos and undermine the stability of Turkey as groundwork for a coup.

Their trial, widely referred to by the group’s name, has become one of the most explosive in the nation’s modern history and has captivated Turks unused to seeing political secrets aired in public.

The case has brought into relief the larger strains in Turkey between a secular elite seeking to hold on to its waning influence and a growing, increasingly assertive population of observant Muslims. The case is being watched closely in Brussels, headquarters of the European Union, as a barometer of Turkey’s adherence to Western standards of justice. It comes as the country’s prospects for joining the bloc seem to be diminishing.

Full report at:


A Saudi Gamble to See if Seeds of Change Will Grow


November 18, 2009

THUWAL, Saudi Arabia — The $12.5 billion question is this: Can Ben Frevert change Saudi Arabia?

Mr. Frevert is 22 years old. He is from Minneapolis. He had never set foot outside the United States until the day he flew to Saudi Arabia, where he became one of the first 400 graduate students to start classes at the sparkling new King Abdullah University of Science and Technology on the Red Sea.

Mr. Frevert’s presence in this conservative kingdom represents a bold, pricey gamble by Saudi Arabia’s monarch, King Abdullah, who allocated about $10 billion to endow the university. The stated goal is to take a country that consistently ranks among the poorest performing nations in education and, with all the brain power and high-tech equipment oil money can buy, build a world-class research center and university.

But there is a less discussed, yet no less consequential, objective: Can the university help this tradition-bound society become more open to new ideas? Can it help Saudi Arabia stamp out the kind of homegrown extremism that has spawned terrorism?

“We wouldn’t see change without having more things like this,” said Awadh al-Badi, a political scientist at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh. “My thought is that they are trying to create a parallel system, that with time would take from others or balance what exists.”

The first 400 students and 74 faculty members began studies in September, even as construction crews labored to ready the multibillion-dollar campus. In time, the university will be a small town of 20,000, cloistered behind three layers of security, in isolated luxury on the banks of the Red Sea. There will be a yacht club, a golf course, a movie theater (there are no theaters allowed in the kingdom), a town center with fast food and shops — and there will be no rules against men and women working, studying and socializing together. On campus, women do not have to cover up and wear the baggy black gown, called an abaya, mandatory everywhere else in Saudi Arabia.

Full report at:


Cleric Wields Religion to Challenge Iran’s Theocracy


November 21, 2009

CAIRO — For years, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri criticized Iran’s supreme leader and argued that the country was not the Islamic democracy it claimed to be, but his words seemed to fall on deaf ears. Now many Iranians, including some former government leaders, are listening.

Ayatollah Montazeri has emerged as the spiritual leader of the opposition, an adversary the state has been unable to silence or jail because of his religious credentials and seminal role in the founding of the republic.

He is widely regarded as the most knowledgeable religious scholar in Iran and once expected to become the country’s supreme leader until a falling-out with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 revolution and Iran’s supreme leader until his death in 1989.

Now, as the Iranian government has cracked down to suppress the protests that erupted after the presidential election in June and devastated the reform movement, Ayatollah Montazeri uses religion to attack the government’s legitimacy.

“We have many intellectuals who criticize this regime from the democratic point of view,” said Mehdi Khalaji, a former seminary student in Qum and now a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “He criticizes this regime purely from a religious point of view, and this is very hurtful. The regime wants to say, ‘If I am not democratic enough that doesn’t matter, I am Islamic.’

“He says it is not an Islamic government.”

Full report at:


Sharia supporters rally against brothels, condoms

28 November 2009

Several hundred hardline Muslim protestors have staged rallies in Indonesia to urge the government to prevent the spread of HIV by implementing Islamic law.

Ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1, members of the Hizbut Tahrir group took to the streets in several cities including Jakarta, Solo, Yogyakarta and Makassar.

"We urge everybody to support the application of sharia in an Islamic caliphate so that, God willing, all of us will be free from the HIV/AIDS threat," Hizbut spokeswoman Febrianti Abassuni said in a statement.

In the capital, more than 200 female demonstrators urged the government to close down brothels and ban condoms, which they said encouraged "free sex and unhealthy behaviour".

One banner read: "Prostitutes, drug users and homosexuals are the agents of immorality."

Around 270,000 Indonesians are estimated to be infected with HIV, and AIDS has claimed about 8,700 lives in the Muslim-majority nation of 228 million people, according to the UNAIDS agency.


His name: Jihad. His message: peace

By Duke Helfand

November 29, 2009

An American-born Muslim earnestly works to dispel stereotypes about his faith.

Jihad Turk -- clean-shaven and youthful -- is telling an interfaith audience that the prophet Muhammad traces his lineage to Abraham, the biblical patriarch.

Turk explains to the crowd of mostly Christians and Jews that Muslims also revere Jesus and Moses as prophets, and that Islam cherishes life.

But some in the Pepperdine University audience are skeptical. One man wants to know why so many Muslims are "willing with perfect ease to kill," as he puts it, drawing brief applause.

A woman later needles Turk about what she views as Islam's suppression of women. "You guys really need a good PR firm," she tells him.

Without missing a beat, Turk responds: "If you know of one, let me know."

U.S. Muslims are struggling mightily these days to win over a wary public. In Los Angeles, part of that task falls to the 38-year-old Turk, director of religious affairs at the Islamic Center of Southern California, one of the region's most influential mosques.

Earnest and doggedly optimistic, Turk is an unflappable ambassador for an often embattled faith -- a man whose American upbringing gives him a foothold in two sometimes colliding worlds.

The son of an American Methodist mother and a Palestinian Muslim father, Turk was elected homecoming king at his Phoenix high school and took some time off from college to explore his Islamic roots in Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Now, as an emerging leader in local Muslim circles, he spends much of his time patiently trying to spread his message about Islam's peaceful intentions, the importance of tolerance and the ancient thread shared by three monotheistic religions.

Full report at:,0,7265377,full.story


Nepalese Muslims celebrate Eid-ul-Azha

Kathmandu, Nov 29 (PTI) Nepalese Muslims celebrated the Eid-ul-Azha festival as mass animal sacrifices, zest and bonhomie marked the festival in the country.

The festival commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God. Also known as Eid-Al-Adha, it is celebrated on the tenth day of the Arabian month Dhu'l Hijja.

The festival coincides with the Haj pilgrimage in Mecca and would be celebrated for three days. Ramatullah Miya, general secretary Muslim Association Nepal said that the great sacrifice of Prophet Mohammad marked the end of human sacrifice in the Muslim world.

"It is a festival of fraternity, solidarity and brotherhood for Muslims," he observed.

On the Occasion, President Dr Ram Baran Yadav, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and leaders of various political parties have extended greetings to the Nepali Muslim community.

The Muslim population in Nepalis estimated to be around 2.5 million.


Eid cheer for Pak national who lost five kids in blast

Dwaipayan Ghosh

29 November 2009

NEW DELHI: For 50-year-old Rana Shaukat Ali, Eid has brought not one but two reasons to cheer. His visa was extended for one more month till December 26 and he will soon receive the compensation amount he had been seeking. He says it's the Eid gift he had been waiting for since the past two years.

"We have got confirmation that the compensation we have been seeking for our only remaining child is just round the corner,'' said Ali. He and his wife Rakshana Akhtar residents of Faislabad, Pakistan lost five of their six children in the Samjhauta Express blast on February 18, 2008. "We have received a letter from the ministry of external affairs stating they have had discussions and would probably pay us soon,'' said Ali.

Earlier, the couple were having a long drawn hearing with the railway tribunal in Chandigarh. Finally, the tribunal issued them a cheque for Rs 20 lakh, along with another paying an interest of 12.5 percent. The two cheques were released by Indian Railways in Indian currency.

"The cheques will have to be encashed in the next three months. If we go back to Pakistan, the cheques will bounce. However, here in India a Pakistani national is not allowed to open an account without prior RBI permission,'' said Ali.

Sources in the railway ministry said the matter was being discussed at the highest level in the MEA. "Two possible payouts have been devised either by paying them the cheques at Islamabad or by issuing them cash which they can convert into a DD and take along to Pakistan,'' said a source.

In February, 2008, Ali had come with his family wife and six children all the way from Faislabad on the annual trip to India to visit his brother at Sarai Kale Khan, Delhi. But after the train blasts during his return journey, only one of his children survived.

Ali thanked the Indian government for support. "Within three months of the incident, the Indian Embassy paid us Rs 50 lakh as compensation, Rs 10 lakh each for each of my dead children. My foreign minister and your Prime Minister together promised me help. They have kept their promise,'' he says.

"We have had such precedents before. We cannot absolve the humanitarian question here. However, we need to follow certain procedures. The broad policy decision has been taken, it's only a few days wait till it is implemented,'' said an official involved with the case.


Ban cow slaughter'

28 November 2009

DAVANAGERE: `Pancha gavya go muthra' (cow urine) has the power to cure cancer in human beings, said Hirekalmath pontiff Sri Siddapada Shivacharya swamiji. He was addressing the gathering at Honnali town on Thursday after kicking off a signatory campaign `vishwa mangala go-grama' rath yatra. ABVP regional convener Vinay Bidare said that over four lakh cows are being killed everyday in India.

The cattle is the backbone of the farmers and it is high time to bring a strict legislation to curb cow slaughtering, he felt. But it is unfortunate that a Bill pertaining to the ban was proposed five times in the Parliament, but has gone without implementation, he added.


Bangladesh Ferry Tragedy Toll Rises To 31

November 28, 2009

Siddique Islam

Dhaka, Bangladesh (AHN) - The death toll from ferry capsize in the country's southeastern Bhola district rose to 31, district administrator Mejbahul Islam confirmed on Saturday.

"We've recovered 31 bodies so far. We fear that more people are trapped in the sunken ferry," Mr. Islam told AHN Media over telephone, adding that the rescue operations are going on and will continue on Sunday.

The authorities have ordered an investigation into the accident.

The ferry MV Coco-4, a local inland vessel, capsized in Tetulia river on late Friday when the passengers tried to get down from the ferry in a mess before it was anchored in the remote southern coastal village of Nazirpura, 155 miles (250 kilometers) from Dhaka.

The tragedy might have occurred as the ferry was over loaded with passengers. The ferry was burdened with three times more passengers than it's capacity of 650, local officials said.

The ferry was en route Lalmohon upazila (sub-district) of Bhola from the capital, Dhaka on Friday afternoon packed with the people travelling to their village homes to celebrate Eid ul-Azha, the second largest Muslim religious festival.

Millions of people have left the capital for their home villages across the country by trains, buses and ferries to celebrate the Eid festival on Saturday in the South Asian country.


Islamic Imperialism: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Middle East

by Thomas O. Hecht

Saturday, 28 November 2009

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Samuel Huntington predicted that only the Islamic civilization would re-emerge as the nemesis to the West.  Recently, there is a rebirth of the Islamic struggle to reassert control over parts of the world, with jihad, or its modern manifestation - international terrorism - as its tool. The US is losing its dominance in the Middle East and is gradually being replaced by Iran.  The Western world is in urgent need of a leader who will powerfully defend Western values against the growing influence of radical Islam.

Samuel Huntington remains relevant as ever. His book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order (1996), presented a thesis that ran counter to the zeitgeist euphoria over globalization and a borderless world after the end of the Cold War.

Huntington unequivocally stated that the end of the Cold War would bring about a clash of civilizations. He inferred that soil, ethno-cultural devotion, and religion-based energy would claim and define the world in conflict. Huntington also drew a map of the world which can be described as "The West and The Rest." He recognized other less challenging civilizations - Hindu, African, Buddhist - but to him in the post-Cold War world, only the Islamic civilization would re-emerge as the nemesis to the West.  According to Huntington, "The twentieth century conflict between liberal democracy and Marxist Leninism was only a fleeting and superficial historical phenomenon compared to the continuing and deeply conflicting relations between Islam and Christianity." Unfortunately, the West displays weakness and lack of courageous leadership.

Islamic History

Full report at:


Osama bin Laden was within our grasp, says US senate report

AP 29 November 2009

WASHINGTON: Osama bin Laden was unquestionably within reach of US troops in the mountains of Tora Bora when American military leaders made the crucial and costly decision not to pursue the terrorist leader with massive force, a Senate report says.

The report asserts that the failure to kill or capture bin Laden at his most vulnerable in December 2001 has had lasting consequences beyond the fate of one man. Bin Laden's escape laid the foundation for today's reinvigorated Afghan insurgency and inflamed the internal strife now endangering Pakistan, it says.

Staff members for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Democratic majority prepared the report at the request of the chairman, Sen. John Kerry, as President Barack Obama prepares to boost US troops in Afghanistan.

Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, has long argued the Bush administration missed a chance to get the al-Qaida leader and top deputies when they were holed up in the forbidding mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan only three months after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Although limited to a review of military operations eight years old, the report could also be read as a cautionary note for those resisting an increased troop presence there now.

More pointedly, it seeks to affix a measure of blame for the state of the war today on military leaders under former president George W Bush, specifically Donald H Rumsfeld as defense secretary and his top military commander, Tommy Franks.

"Removing the al-Qaida leader from the battlefield eight years ago would not have eliminated the worldwide extremist threat," the report says. "But the decisions that opened the door for his escape to Pakistan allowed bin Laden to emerge as a potent symbolic figure who continues to attract a steady flow of money and inspire fanatics worldwide. The failure to finish the job represents a lost opportunity that forever altered the course of the conflict in Afghanistan and the future of international terrorism."

Full report at:


To buy out Taliban, Afghans offer jobs to defectors

Dexter Filkins

29 November 2009,

JALALABAD: The American-backed campaign to persuade legions of Taliban gunmen to stop fighting got under way here recently, in an ornate palace filled with Afghan tribal leaders and one very large former warlord leading the way.

“OK, I want you guys to go out there and persuade the Taliban to sit down and talk,” Gul Agha Shirzai, the governor of Jalalabad, told a group of 25 tribal leaders from four eastern provinces. In a previous incarnation, Shirzai was the American-picked governor of Kandahar Province after the Taliban fell in 2001. “Do whatever you have to do,” Shirzai told the assembled elders. “I’ll back you up.”

The meeting is part of a battlefield push to lure local fighters and commanders away from the Taliban by offering them jobs in development projects that Afghan tribal leaders help select, paid by the American military and the Afghan government.

By enlisting the tribal leaders to help choose the development projects, the Americans also hope to help strengthen both the Afghan government and the Pashtun tribal networks. These efforts are focusing on rank-and-file Taliban; while there are some efforts under way to negotiate with the leaders of the main insurgent groups, neither American nor Afghan officials have much faith that those talks will succeed soon.

Afghanistan has a long history of fighters switching sides — sometimes more than once. Still, efforts so far to persuade large numbers of Taliban fighters to give up have been less than a complete success. To date, about 9,000 insurgents have turned in their weapons and agreed to abide by the Afghan Constitution, said Muhammad Akram Khapalwak, the chief administrator for the Peace and Reconciliation Commission in Kabul.

“Most of the Taliban in my area are young men who need jobs,” said Hajji Fazul Rahim, a leader of the Abdulrahimzai tribe, which spans three eastern provinces. “We just need to make them busy. If we give them work, we can weaken the Taliban.”

In the Jalalabad program, tribal elders would reach out to Taliban commanders to press them to change sides. The commanders and their fighters then would be offered jobs created by local development programs. nyt news service


India, Kuwait hopeful of signing pact on prisoner swap soon

November 29, 2009

India and Kuwait are in the process of finalising a pact on exchange of prisoners under which convicted persons would be able to serve their jail terms in their respective countries.

Indian Ambassador to the oil-rich country Ajay Malhotra said the proposed agreement would benefit over 200 Indians currently languishing in various jails in Kuwait.

"We are negotiating an agreement on prisoner swap with Kuwait and I am hopeful that it would be finalised soon," Malhotra told PTI in New Delhi.

He said Indian prisoners would be able to serve the rest of their jail term in India if the pact is signed.

Last week, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi had informed Parliament that 175 Indian prisoners were languishing in the Central Jail of Kuwait while 61 others are serving jail terms in the Public Jail of Kuwait.

The Ambassador said he was in touch with Kuwaiti authorities to ensure that Indian prisoners there do not face any discrimination.

Giving details of the steps being taken to extend help to Indians living in the country, Malhotra said the embassy has started many facilities, including a shelter to Indians in distress and free legal advice from Kuwaiti lawyers.


Bomb explodes in Kabul, no injuries

November 28, 2009

A bomb exploded in a trash can in the centre of the Afghan capital on Saturday causing little damage and no injuries, the Interior Ministry said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary described the device that exploded in the Wazir Akbar Khan embassy district as a "sound bomb", meaning it was designed to make a loud noise rather than cause any damage.

A Reuters witness at the scene said there was some damage to a nearby wall but the impact looked small.

Wazir Akbar Khan, the capital's most secure district, is home to embassies and many foreign companies and has been hit by a number of bomb attacks in the past year.

Five days before the Aug. 20 presidential election, a suicide car bomb attack killed seven people. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

Violence in Afghanistan has escalated to record levels this year. US President Barack Obama is just days away from making an announcement on whether he will send tens of thousands more troops to the war-riven country to beat a growing Taliban insurgency.


Pakistan bunkers only to ward off Taliban: BSF

Vinay Kumar

NEW DELHI: Construction of bunkers and similar posts on the Pakistani side has come to the notice of the Border Security Force.

“Almost all the bunkers and other constructions are on the Pakistani soil and have loopholes facing their side. Probably, elements in the Pakistani security establishment are themselves feeling insecure due to the presence of Taliban and terrorist elements and they seem more worried about their own security than posing any threat to us,” BSF chief Raman Srivastava told journalists here on Saturday.

Maintaining that there was nothing “illegal” in such constructions coming up on the Pakistani side, the BSF chief said he, however, found the activity rather “unusual.” Probably, it had more to do with Pakistan’s internal situation and threats from the Taliban and terror elements in that country. He said the Indian Army was kept informed of these developments.

Mr. Srivastava said the arrival of militants on launching pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir was being reported continuously, with a likelihood of more infiltration bids in the days ahead, before the advent of peak winter.

While the counter-espionage drive by various Pakistani intelligence agencies in the border areas was said to be on a high pitch, Pakistan-based smugglers were also looking for opportunities to bring narcotics into India.

The BSF had received reports indicating that militants and operatives were using Bangladeshi territory for illegally entering into India. The Harkat ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI) remained one of the key Bangladeshi terror outfits with links to militants in the northeast and with Islamic fundamentalist organisations in other States.

The BSF DG said the emerging nexus between the Pakistan-based fundamentalist outfits such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the HuJI in Bangladesh and use of Bangladeshi nationals, trained in Pakistan, were a matter of concern.


Egypt terms IAEA resolution on Iran as 'unbalanced'

Nov 29, 2009

Cairo : Egypt on Sunday described as "unbalanced" and "inappropriate" the IAEA resolution censuring Iran over its nuclear programme, saying that the UN nuclear watchdog "failed" to take into account the regional dimension.

The resolution, demanding Iran immediately suspend construction of its newly-revealed uranium enrichment plant at Qom -- a site kept secret until recently, was adopted at a meeting of the 35-member board of governors of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Friday.

"The resolution - which Egypt refused to vote for – did not take into consideration the regional dimension while dealing with the Iranian file," an Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

It should have clearly referred to the Israeli nuclear capabilities and stressed the importance of rendering the entire Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction, the spokesman said.

The resolution was referred to the IAEA Board of Governors without offering enough time for consultations on it, the spokesman charged.

"In addition, the timing of the resolution was inappropriate, thus contributing to the lack of confidence between the parties concerned with settling the Iranian nuclear crisis," he said.

25 countries, including India, voted in favour of the resolution spearheaded by the US while Egypt abstained from voting.

The spokesman said the country took the stand "to avoid allowing any party to think that Egypt was supporting Iran's way of handling its nuclear file."

However, he expressed disappointment that Iran did not disclose the presence of the Qom nuclear facility and violated its commitments to the IAEA.

He expressed concerns about the presence of "clandestine" nuclear facilities in the Middle East that are not liable to the IAEA safeguards regime, adding this poses threat to the Egyptian and regional security.

Full report at:


Imam's e-mails to Fort Hood suspect Hasan tame compared to online rhetoric

November 29, 2009

By Brooks Egerton

E-mails between a U.S. Army officer and a radical Muslim cleric did not worry anti-terrorism investigators, they said, because nothing in the correspondence presaged violence. But elsewhere on the Internet, the imam was urging people to kill soldiers and others.

After accused Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan started e-mailing in December, the cleric increased the pace of his fundamentalist rhetoric on the Web, a Dallas Morning News investigation found.

"I pray that Allah destroys America and all its allies," Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric with suspected ties to al-Qaeda, wrote in a February blog entry.

The cleric and the Army major are believed to have met at least eight years ago, when al-Awlaki preached at a northern Virginia mosque attended by Hasan's family. Both were born in the United States to prosperous Middle Eastern parents nearly 40 years ago; both earned advanced degrees at American universities.

Then they went seemingly separate ways. Hasan focused on becoming an Army psychiatrist, while al-Awlaki left the U.S. after the FBI questioned him about ties to the 9/11 hijackers.

The bilingual imam ended up imprisoned in his parents' native Yemen, accused of supporting terrorists there. He emerged nearly two years ago, more radical than ever. He set up a Web site that gave him an even broader reach and included an e-mail link so readers could contact him.

For those who didn't speak Arabic, such as Hasan, al-Awlaki made pronouncements in English: "We will implement the rule of Allah on Earth by the tip of the sword whether the masses like it or not."

In the months leading up to Nov. 5 Fort Hood massacre, the two men's paths began to intersect again.

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Afghanistan will be different war


Sunday, November 29, 2009

FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHANK, Afghanistan -- Veterans of Iraq recall rolling to war along asphalted highways, sweltering in flat scrublands and chatting with city-wise university graduates connected to the wider world.

Now fighting in Afghanistan, U.S. soldiers invariably encounter illiterate farmers who may never have talked to an American as they slog into remote villages on dirt tracks through bitterly cold, snow-streaked mountains. "Before deploying here we were given training on language, culture, everything. I thought that since I was an Iraq combat veteran, I didn't need any of that stuff. I was wrong. Both countries may be Muslim but this is a totally different place," says Sgt. Michael McCann, returning from a patrol in the east-central province of Logar.

While their experiences in the two war zones vary, for many soldiers in the field -- if not policy makers -- the conflict in Afghanistan is one they think may prove harder and longer to win.

Soldiers and officers involved in combat operations all cite the more punishing geography and climate, those focused on development the bare-bones infrastructure, and intelligence specialists the even greater difficulties in identifying the insurgents as among the many sharp contrasts between Afghanistan and Iraq.

"The sheer terrain of Afghanistan is much more challenging: the mountains, the altitudes, severity of weather, the distances. That wears on an army," says Maj. Joseph Matthews, a battalion operations officer in the 10th Mountain Division. "You can flood Baghdad with soldiers but if you want to flood the mountains you are going to need huge numbers and logistics."

McCann, a military policeman from Enterprise, Ala., says that the highest he ever got during his Iraq tour was a five-story building. In Afghanistan, troops routinely cross passes 10,000 feet and higher, descending into valleys where they say villagers "hibernate like bears" for up to five winter months, cut off from the outside world by the snows.

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Flood deaths in Saudi Arabia rise to around 100

28 November 2009

The number of dead in floods following Saudi Arabia's heaviest rains for years has risen to around 100, officials say.

Dozens are said to be missing and some reports suggest the death toll will rise further in the city of Jeddah.

The authorities say they are providing food and temporary housing for those made homeless and considering how to compensate the worst affected.

But critics accuse them of negligence and say this "disaster" should never have been allowed to happen.

A lawyer has threatened to sue the Jeddah authorities, while thousands of people turned to the social networking site Facebook to vent complaints about inadequate infrastructure on a specially created webpage.

Many of the victims in the Red Sea port city died in their vehicles after the flash floods - either by drowning or in car crashes. Some reportedly were killed when bridges collapsed on top of them.

Heavy rainstorms on Wednesday hampered the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the nearby city of Mecca, but officials said there were no pilgrims among casualties of the flooding.

Apart from Jeddah, flood deaths were reported in Rabigh and Mecca.


Five dead in multiple Baghdad blasts

Thu, 26 Nov 2009

Five people have died in multiple bombing attacks near the Iraqi capital as the country prepares to celebrate the Muslim holiday and feast, Eid al-Adha.

Two home-made bombs exploded around 11:00 am (0800 GMT) on Thursday, ripping through a crowded market in Mussayib, 60 kilometers (35 miles) south of Baghdad.

The explosions left at least three men killed and 28 people wounded, including two women and two children, AFP quoted police officials as saying.

Elsewhere, a car bomb went off at a taxi and a bus station in Yusufiyah, also south of Baghdad, killing one man and injuring 10 others, police said.

Also on Thursday, a magnetic bomb attached to a car exploded as the vehicle was moving on a highway towards the east of the Iraqi capital, leaving the driver killed and a passenger wounded.

The tenth day of Dhul-Hijjah is Eid al-Adha (the Feast of Sacrifice) in which Muslims slaughter a sheep, goat, or camel marking the end of annual Hajj pilgrimage to show their gratitude for Allah's generosity and blessing.

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