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Islamic World News ( 6 Nov 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Hip Pakistanis snub Taliban

Muslims brace for backlash after gunman ID'ed

American Muslim Group Responds To Ft. Hood Shooting

U.S. Muslim Group Urges Calm, Unity After Fort Hood Shootings

Suspect in Fort Hood shootings attended mosque in Silver Spring

Jihad at Fort Hood – by Robert Spencer

Modi to visit Muslim-majority Indonesia

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono: Act Two for Indonesia's President

2 kinds of diplomacy for Indonesia, Pakistan

Malaysia moves on Islamic fashion market

'Why can't Muslim women also lead the community?'

Lucknow: Shias criticise Amar Singh for comparing Kalyan Singh with Hurr ibn Yazid Al-Riyahi

The threat of the "Muslim Mafia"

Saudi warplanes bomb Shia rebels in Yemen after border raid

Islam under fire in Texas army shooting

Egypt Islamists appalled by Beyonce 'sex party'

Hamas allows Muslim pilgrims to leave Gaza

The Reality of Middle East Anti-Semitism

Relationship between Islam and Britain not new: Jack Straw

Media Begins To Caution Over Islam’s Role in Fort Hood Shootings

Muslim Army major was behind shootings at Fort Hood

Fiasco Royal in Afghanistan/Humiliation in the Mideast

Nonie Darwish intimidated by Muslim guard at Toronto airport

Widespread opposition to Muslim girls' school plans in Brierfield

 Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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Hip Pakistanis snub Taliban

Bare shoulders, backless gowns and pouting models are wowing Pakistan's glitterati as Karachi fashion week shows the world a different side of the Taliban-troubled nation.

While women in much of Muslim, conservative Pakistan opt for headscarves over baggy shalwar khamis or even burkas, on the catwalks of financial capital Karachi, designers are exposing midriffs and flashing cleavage.

Fashion week runs until Saturday, taking place three weeks late because of security jitters and as a mark of respect for more than 300 people who perished in a string of attacks blamed on Islamist militants last month.

Fashionistas in Karachi, however, shrug off security fears in the southern city of 14 million people, known for its glitzy malls and thriving cafe culture a two-hour flight away from militant hubs in the northwest.

"We, the members of Fashion Pakistan, feel great to be hosting this colourful event at difficult times in our history, when the entire nation is waging a battle against militancy," she said.

The eight local designers who opened the event experimented with twists on traditional Pakistani dress and western styles.

Intricate and colourful fabrics lit up the catwalk, while a towering black feather hat, off-the-shoulder dresses and halterneck gowns graced the frames of sultry models strutting in high heels past an awed audience.

"My design philosophy is as diverse as my collection, (which) shows a mix of eastern and western inspirations," said upcoming young designer Fahad Hussain, known for edgy accessorising and striking silhouettes.

"My clothes are traditional and modern, and also focused on simple cuts. There is something for everybody. "Like designers across the world, Samar Mehdi -- who earned a degree in fashion and accessory design from Britain's Bristol University -said she was striving to produce wearable and flattering creations for the modern woman.

"My design philosophy is to create for a client who wants to celebrate her womanhood and femininity, yet project her independence and attitude," she said. "My muse is that quintessential modern woman who's self aware and knows what she wants. She's ambitious and driven but isn't afraid to flaunt her softer side in fear of contradicting that image.


Muslims brace for backlash after gunman ID'ed

By Lee-Anne Goodman

5th November 2009

WASHINGTON — His name had barely been released, his heritage and history not immediately known, but the reaction was fast and furious.

“Jihad at Fort Hood? Shooter: Maj. Malik Nadal Hasan,” was the headline of a post on the Jihad Watch blog just moments after Hasan was identified as the perpetrator of a mass shooting at the Texas military base that killed 12 people, himself included, and wounded 31 others.

“The name tells us a lot, does it not, senator?” Fox News’s Shep Smith said while interviewing Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas senator.

The Arab-American Institute said it received one threatening call from an unidentified male shortly after Hasan’s name was released. The group, which condemned the massacre, said it was expecting more.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations scheduled a Capitol Hill news conference on Thursday night to urge calm.

“No political or religious ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence,” the group said in a statement.

“The attack was particularly heinous in that it targeted the all-volunteer army that protects our nation. American Muslims stand with our fellow citizens in offering both prayers for the victims and sincere condolences to the families of those killed or injured.”

ABC News reported that Hasan, a psychiatrist who once practised in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., was reportedly an Islam convert despondent about being deployed to Iraq and upset about the war.

Military officials told the Associated Press that Hasan was a psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington for six years before being transferred to Fort Hood in July. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because military records are confidential, said he received a poor performance evaluation at Walter Reed.

Hasan, born in Virginia and in his late 30s, was single with no children. The Austin American-Statesman reported his parents were originally from Jordan.

Robert Spencer, the director of the Jihad Watch blog and the author of nine books on Islam and jihad, chastised the media for failing to point to jihad as a possible explanation for Hasan’s crime.

“No one, no one at all, in the mainstream media is discussing jihad as a motivation,” Spencer wrote. “It’s all about ‘snapping,’ ’not wanting to go to war’ .... If this turns out to be a jihad attack, watch for the president to caution against ‘backlash’ and ’Islamophobia.”’

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, commenter’s warned of exactly that kind of backlash.

“How long before some idiotic elected official declares Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to serve in the military?” asked Salon’s Mike Madden.

The American Prospect’s Adam Serwer beseeched: “Please, America, remember what kind of country you are right now.”

Josh Marshall, who writes for the Talking Points Memo blog, predicted: “This is going to get very dark” upon the identification of the perpetrator’s name.

“The fact that the primary assailant has an Arabic name and is presumably, though we don’t know this yet, of Muslim extraction, if not a practising Muslim, is going to be the focus of attention,” Marshall wrote.

The commenter’s on Jihad Watch were unforgiving in the hours after the shooting.

“The war on terror is over, and the war on Islam has begun,” one wrote.


American Muslim Group Responds To Ft. Hood Shooting

Nov 6, 2009

(Washington, DC)  --  The Council on American-Islamic Relations is condemning yesterday's shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas that killed 13 people and injured 30 others.

   In a statement released after the shooter was identified as 39-year-old Major Nidal Malik Hasan, CAIR said, quote, "No political or religious ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence. The attack was particularly heinous in that it targeted the all-volunteer Army that protects our nation.

   American Muslims stand with our fellow citizens in offering both prayers for the victims and sincere condolences to the families of those killed or injured."

   Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for CAIR, says even without confirmation that the alleged gunman was a Muslim, the mere reporting of a possible Muslim name required an immediate comment.

   CNN reports so far there is no immediate determination of any religious affiliation for Hasan, although he reportedly had been harassed due to his Muslim heritage.

   Hasan is a U.S. citizen whose parents are Palestinians from the West Bank.

   Contrary to previous reports saying he had been killed in a shootout, Hasan is alive and reported in stable condition at an area hospital.


U.S. Muslim Group Urges Calm, Unity After Fort Hood Shootings

Nov 5, 2009

 The Council on American-Islamic

Relations (CAIR) tonight reiterated the Muslim community's condemnation of today's deadly shootings at Fort Hood in Texas and urged the nation to remain calm and unified as Americans nationwide react to the tragic events. At a news conference tonight on Capitol Hill, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said: 

"We reiterate the American Muslim community's condemnation of this cowardly attack. Right now, we call on all Americans to assist those who are responding to this atrocity. We must ensure that the wounded are treated and the families of those who were murdered have an opportunity to mourn.

"No political or religious ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence. The attack was particularly heinous in that it targeted our nation's all-volunteer army that includes thousands of Muslims in all services. We again offer our thoughts and prayers for the victims and sincere condolences for the families of those killed or injured.

"The motive of the attacker is not yet known. We urge all Americans to remain calm in reaction to this tragic event and to demonstrate once again what is best about America -- our nation's ability to remain unified even in times of crisis. We urge national political and religious leaders and media professionals to set a tone of calm and unity.

"Unfortunately, based on past experience, we also urge American Muslims, and those who may be perceived to be Muslim, to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves, their families and their religious institutions from possible backlash.

"We ask that individuals and institutions review advice on security procedures contained in CAIR's 'Muslim Community Safety Kit,' which is available online at"

Along with innumerable condemnations of terror, CAIR has in the past launched an  online anti-terror petition drive called "Not in the Name of Islam," initiated a television public service announcement (PSA) campaign against religious extremism and coordinated a "fatwa," or Islamic religious ruling, against terrorism and extremism.  

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization.

Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.


Suspect in Fort Hood shootings attended mosque in Silver SpringBy William Wan

November 6, 2009

The Muslim Community Centre in Silver Spring was empty Thursday night, but inside, the phone didn't stop ringing. Members of the mosque where Maj. Nidal M. Hasan had been a regular attendee and members of the media wanted to know about the place where the suspect in the shootings at Fort Hood, Tex., had prayed seven days a week, often in his Army fatigues.

Arshad Qureshi, chairman of the centre’s board of trustees, said he tried to answer every call to convey the message that the centre stands for peace.

"We want to show there is a tiny portion of people who do these things, yet they get all the press. But our centres do many, many other things," Qureshi said. "We distribute food for the needy, contribute disaster relief and help the community."

The Silver Spring centre was established in 1976. There were mosques in the area at the time, but the Muslim Community Centre was one of the area's first community centres, its leaders said, offering several services in addition to daily prayers. More than 1,000 people attend Friday prayers at the centre. During the Eid festivities, the high point of the year, about 5,000 flock to the mosque.

In addition to daily prayers and Sunday school, the centre runs a medical clinic for the uninsured six days a week. The clinic is staffed with 30 doctors and 60 technicians, all volunteers.

"People know who we are and what we do for the community," Qureshi said, saying that's why the centre has never been vandalized, even when other incidents have caused backlash against the Muslim community. "But the stereotype is there already, so when something like this happens, you worry, of course."

On Thursday night, just before the day's last call to prayer, the shooting was on the minds of many attendees, said the centre’s Imam, Mohamed Abdullahi.

"The brothers here have seen [Hasan's] face on the news, and they're all talking about him, trying to figure this out," Abdullahi said.

Members said Hasan had attended the Muslim Community Centre for about five years before moving out of the area. He attended frequently for daily prayers but participated in almost none of the centre’s other activities or festivities.

"I can't say that people knew him very well, other than attending prayers," Qureshi said. "He was a very quiet and private person."

Staff writers Michelle Boorstein and Nelson Hernandez contributed to this report.


Jihad at Fort Hood – by Robert Spencer

Nov 6th, 2009

Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of eight books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran, is available now from Regnery Publishing.

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army psychiatrist, murdered twelve people and wounded twenty-one inside Fort Hood in Texas yesterday, while, according to eyewitnesses, “shouting something in Arabic while he was shooting.” Investigators are scratching their heads and expressing puzzlement about why he did it. According to NPR, “the motive behind the shootings was not immediately clear, officials said.” The Washington Post agreed: “The motive remains unclear, although some sources reported the suspect is opposed to U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq and upset about an imminent deployment.” The Huffington Post spun faster, asserting that “there is no concrete reporting as to whether Nidal Malik Hasan was in fact a Muslim or an Arab.”

Yet there was, and what’s more, Major Hasan’s motive was perfectly clear — but it was one that the forces of political correctness and the Islamic advocacy groups in the United States have been working for years to obscure. So it is that now that another major jihad terror attack has taken place on American soil, authorities and the mainstream media are at a loss to explain why it happened – and the abundant evidence that it was a jihad attack is ignored.

Nidal Malik Hasan was born in Virginia but didn’t think of himself as an American: on a form he filled out at the Muslim Community Centre in Silver Spring, Maryland, he gave his nationality not as “American” but as “Palestinian.” A mosque official found that curious, saying: “I don’t know why he listed Palestinian. He was not born in Palestine.”

Centre. He is a graduate of Virginia Tech and has a doctorate in psychiatry from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. While there, NPR reports, Hasan was “put on probation early in his postgraduate work” and was “disciplined for proselytizing about his Muslim faith with patients and colleagues.”

He was a staff psychiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre for six years before transferring to Fort Hood earlier this year. While at Walter Reed, he was a “very devout” member of and daily visitor to the Muslim Community Centre in Silver Spring. Faizul Khan, a former imam at the Centre, expressed puzzlement over Hasan’s murders: “To know something like this happened, I don’t know what got into his mind. There was nothing extremist in his questions. He never showed any frustration….He never showed any remorse or wish for vengeance on anybody.”

So he identified himself as Palestinian and was a devout Muslim – so what? These things, of course, have no significance if one assumes that Islam is a Religion of Peace and that when a devout Muslim reads the Koran’s many injunctions to wage war against unbelievers, he knows that they have no force or applicability for today’s world. Unfortunately, all too many Muslims around the world demonstrate in both their words and their deeds that they take such injunctions quite seriously. And Nidal Hasan gave some indications that he may have been among them.

On May 20, 2009, a man giving his name as “NidalHasan” posted this defense of suicide bombing (all spelling and grammar as it is in the original):

    There was a grenade thrown amongst a group of American soldiers. One of the soldiers, feeling that it was to late for everyone to flee jumped on the grave with the intention of saving his comrades. Indeed he saved them. He intentionally took his life (suicide) for a noble cause i.e. saving the lives of his soldier. To say that this soldier committed suicide is inappropriate. Its more appropriate to say he is a brave hero that sacrificed his life for a more noble cause. Scholars have paralled this to suicide bombers whose intention, by sacrificing their lives, is to help save Muslims by killing enemy soldiers. If one suicide bomber can kill 100 enemy soldiers because they were caught off guard that would be considered a strategic victory. Their intention is not to die because of some despair. The same can be said for the Kamikazees in Japan. They died (via crashing their planes into ships) to kill the enemies for the homeland. You can call them crazy i you want but their act was not one of suicide that is despised by Islam. So the scholars main point is that “IT SEEMS AS THOUGH YOUR INTENTION IS THE MAIN ISSUE” and Allah (SWT) knows best.

Of course, it may not be the same Nidal Hasan. But there is more. One of his former colleagues, Col. Terry Lee, recalled Hasan saying statements to the effect of “Muslims have the right to rise up against the U.S. military”; “Muslims have a right to stand up against the aggressors”; and even speaking favorably about people who “strap bombs on themselves and go into Times Square.”

Maybe he just snapped, perhaps under the pressure of his imminent deployment to Iraq. But it’s noteworthy that if he did, he snapped in exactly the same way that several other Muslims in the U.S. military have snapped in the past. In April 2005, a Muslim serving in the U.S. Army, Hasan Akbar, was convicted of murder for killing two American soldiers and wounding fourteen in a grenade attack in Kuwait. AP reported: “Prosecutors say Akbar told investigators he launched the attack because he was concerned U.S. troops would kill fellow Muslims in Iraq. They said he coolly carried out the attack to achieve ‘maximum carnage’ on his comrades in the 101st Airborne Division.”

And Hasan’s murderous rampage resembles one that five Muslim men in New Jersey tried to carry out at Fort Dix in New Jersey in 2007, when they plotted to enter the U.S. Army base and murder as many soldiers as they could.

That was a jihad plot. One of the plotters, Serdar Tatar, told an FBI informant late in 2006: “I’m gonna do it…. It doesn’t matter to me, whether I get locked up, arrested, or get taken away, it doesn’t matter. Or I die, doesn’t matter, I’m doing it in the name of Allah.” Another plotter, Mohamad Shnewer, was caught on tape saying, “They are the ones, we are going to put bullets in their heads, Allah willing.”

Nidal Hasan’s statements about Muslims rising up against the U.S. military aren’t too far from that, albeit less graphic. The effect of ignoring or downplaying the role that Islamic beliefs and assumptions may have played in his murders only ensures that – once again – nothing will be done to prevent the eventual advent of the next Nidal Hasan.


Modi to visit Muslim-majority Indonesia

Rajiv Shah

6 November 2009

GANDHINAGAR: After the fiasco over his Oman visit, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, now fully recovered from swine flu, has started packing

his bags for a visit to Indonesia, which has a large Muslim population.

Modi had to face a great embarrassment as just before his proposed visit to the Gulf nation, the embassy of Oman issued a statement saying Oman government had nothing to do with his visit as it is being hosted by a private port company. This was following protests from human rights groups saying Modi should not be allowed to enter Oman because of the role of his government during the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. The statement left the chief minister embarrassed as his office had claimed that Modi’s Oman tour was an official visit.

Modi accepted an invitation to visit Indonesia in the second week of October, when a delegation led by Syavral Yasin Limpo, governor of Indonesia’s South Sulawesi province, met him to discuss business relations in areas like agriculture and energy. The official denial by Oman government has only hastened the process. Modi’s image managers had worked overtime to make this face of post-Godhra riots acceptable especially after the CM was denied an entry in the US in 2005. A large number of countries from the Muslim world were invited to participate in the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit in January 2009.

While senior officials are not divulging more on the Indonesia visit, Modi is likely to cash in on the proposal from the cash-rich Salim Group, founded by an Indonesian Muslim, Sudono Salim, to set up a 10,000MW coal-based power plant at Bogath in Jamnagar district.


Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono: Act Two for Indonesia's President

By Hannah Beech

Nov. 16, 2009

When traffic in Jakarta snarls to a stop — as it so often does in the Indonesian capital — swarms of peddlers besiege occupants of air-conditioned cars, offering up everything from roasted peanut to balloons. Lately, though, the street vendors have added another item to their eclectic wares: posters of the country's recently re-elected President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The hawking of new merchandise in some of the world's worst gridlock is a fitting metaphor for a country that hopes to add a second I to the so-called BRIC emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. Just as SBY's second five-year term will draw to a close in 2014 — by which time he has vowed at least 7% economic growth, up from the 4.5% estimated for this year — urban planners fear that traffic in Jakarta will grind to a halt unless its transportation system is overhauled.

If anyone can keep Indonesia moving, it's the 60-year-old former army general who last month was sworn in for what, by law, is his final term. SBY, as he is commonly known in Indonesia, already made history in 2004 as the country's first directly elected President. In a nation where 14% of the country's 240 million citizens still live under the poverty line, SBY, who has a careful, consensus-driven leadership style, delivered one of the G-20's most impressive economic growth rates this year. His anticorruption drive, which landed even his own son's father-in-law in jail, drew plaudits in a country where graft often feels as omnipresent as urban smog. Little more than a decade after Indonesia emerged from dictatorship, SBY's peaceful re-election is proof that the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation can thrive as a stable democracy. (Read "The 2009 TIME 100: Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.")

The question now is what SBY will do with the overwhelming mandate he received from the Indonesian people in July. In his first foreign-media interview since his re-election, the President sounded the note of change: "Bureaucratic reform is one of my top priorities and so is combating corruption. If we achieve this, we can create a conducive climate for our economy to grow and our people to prosper." Dumping a marriage-of-convenience Vice President from his first term, SBY selected respected former central banker Boediono as his No. 2 this time around; despite political pressure, he has kept on Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, whose commitment to cleaning up Indonesia's regulatory morass has delighted foreign investors even as it has irked some of the President's closest advisers, who didn't appreciate their own business interests coming under scrutiny. (In a further cleanup bid, SBY is instituting a pay raise for his Cabinet members "so they are not tempted by corruption.") (See pictures of a deadly dam burst near Jakarta.)

But not all of the President's new Cabinet pleases reformists. During his first term, SBY's Democratic Party held just 7% of seats in parliament, and he had to stud his Cabinet with political appointees to ensure legislative support. Today, the Democrats control more than a quarter of parliamentary seats. Yet instead of increasing the number of technocrats in his second-term team, SBY doled out just as many party favours this time around, with more than half of Cabinet members political appointees. "There were high expectations that with the President's significant victory he had the mandate to choose better qualified and younger candidates for his Cabinet than last time and not be so dependent on political parties," says Hendardi, chairman of the Setara Institute, an NGO dealing with pluralism issues. "The reality is different and reflects his interest in protecting himself."

Of course, four-star generals don't get to the top without knowing how to look after themselves — and their charges. One of SBY's biggest priorities during his first term was overseeing a massive campaign to root out the Islamic militants who had conducted a series of deadly terror attacks since 2002. For four years, calm reigned in Indonesia. Yet just nine days after the President's re-election, fatal bombings at Jakarta hotels shattered any illusion that extremism had been eradicated. Raids on terror hideouts resulted in the killing of Noordin Top, the Malaysian militant who is believed to have orchestrated the bombings. But questions remain about how Southeast Asia's most wanted terrorist managed to crisscross Indonesia with ease for years — and whether the authorities did enough to try to nab him. (Read "Facing the Enemy.")

The President will also have to redouble efforts to build, build, build. In 2005 and '06, SBY presided over glitzy infrastructure summits in which more than 100 projects were trumpeted. Yet little movement has occurred on any of these initiatives, which included badly needed transportation fixes. "I have to admit we faced many weaknesses at the time when we convened the infrastructure summits, including the readiness of the provinces," says SBY. "But this time around we are much better prepared." A concerted construction campaign will be needed if Indonesia is to reach SBY's ambitious 7%-plus growth targets. Southeast Asia's largest economy escaped the worst of the global financial crisis in part because its economy was girded by domestic demand, not an export-oriented strategy. Miles of new roads and sea links to better connect this far-flung archipelago will fire that internal growth engine. Otherwise, Indonesia's economy could slow to a crawl — and few commuters in Jakarta will be willing to spend their rupiah on posters of their smiling second-term President.

— with reporting by Jason Tedjasukmana,9171,1934874,00.html


2 kinds of diplomacy for Indonesia, Pakistan

By John Hughes

Nov. 6, 2009

When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Indonesia earlier this year, she said: "If you want to know whether Islam, democracy, modernity and women's rights can coexist, come to Indonesia."

When she visited Pakistan recently, she was polite but much more critical in her words, basically accusing some government officials of sheltering Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists.

Indonesia and Pakistan, two non-Arab states, between them account for about a quarter of the world's Muslim populace; Indonesia 205 million; Pakistan 174 million.

If democracy flourishes in such non-Arab countries as these, it could have an influence on democracy's progress in other Muslim, but Arab, lands.

American diplomacy to Indonesia and Pakistan is nuanced quite differently to each of them.

In the case of Indonesia, the tenor is dictated more by Indonesia than the United States. In the era of Sukarno, the nation's first president after independence from the Dutch, Indonesia moved far to the left and cosiness with communist China. An abortive communist coup and a horrifying purge that took upward of 200,000 lives left the Indonesian Communist Party decimated and a searing memory upon the nation's psyche. Indonesia moved back to the political centre and amity with the West but was determined not to become, or be seen to become, the pawn of anyone.

U.S. administrations have been astute in understanding this and maintaining discreet relationships with successive Indonesian regimes. One particularly noteworthy humanitarian move took place in 2004, when the United States mounted a major relief operation after Indonesia was hit by a major tsunami. About 15,000 U.S. servicemen, operating from the carrier Abraham Lincoln, supported hundreds of helicopter flights carrying food, water and other aid to the victims.

After Sukarno, Indonesia had a disappointing three-decade rule by Gen. Suharto, during which the army remained vigilant and influential. In recent years, Indonesia has blossomed politically with free elections. This year, the popular President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was re-elected and appointed in October a cabinet of acceptable politicians.

Indonesia has effected this transformation by itself and has similarly itself pursued Islamist extremists who killed more than 200 people in a Bali bombing in 2002 and another bombing in Jakarta this year. Despite these events, Indonesia has been able to maintain its commitment to a more moderate version of Islam.

By contrast, U.S. diplomacy toward Pakistan has been more robust and intrusive. Different administrations have played politics with a series of Pakistani leaders as that country has drifted in and out of military rule with periods of unsettled democracy.

The United States will soon have a permanent icon of its involvement with a fortified new embassy said to contain a thousand personnel on 18 acres of land in the capital city of Islamabad.

Understandably, the United States has more at stake and a more complex relationship with Pakistan than it does with Indonesia. Pakistan has nuclear weapons, lives in a terrorist-laden neighbourhood, is suspicious of India on one border and a melange of government-defying tribes straddled across another, ill-defined border. The Pakistani government bridles at U.S. drones hunting across its border for al-Qaida and Taliban extremists who wish harm to Americans. It must bristle sometimes at lack of control over its own military-intelligence service cutting deals with unknown groups. It wants billions in aid from America but feels humiliated by American demands that there be oversight of how it is spent. Clinton says trust must be two-way, but U.S. diplomacy and presence have been hot and cold with Pakistan over the years. All this may be challenging for Pakistanis now themselves engaged in a war against extremism. But for America, recently discovering new plots at home by would-be terrorists trained in Pakistan, the consequences could be dire.

U.S. diplomacy must sometimes be delicate and deft, as it is to Indonesia. It must sometimes nudge, as it is doing to Pakistan.


Malaysia moves on Islamic fashion market

Fashion that adheres to Islamic rules is a largely untapped market and Malaysia is trying to position itself as the fashion capital for the Muslim world, says the BBC's Jennifer Pak in Kuala Lumpur.

That modesty can be beautiful is the message that organisers of the Islamic fashion festival in Kuala Lumpur want to send to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Malaysian designer Tom Abang Saufi says many non-Muslims equate Islamic wear to draping yourself in black.

But one can be religious and fashionable at the same time, she says.

Islamic wear by definition should cover everything except the face and palms. The garment should not show off one's figure so as to not attract unwanted attention.

But how that is interpreted in the Muslim world varies from designer to designer and country to country.

Ms Tom's designs include a lot of bright coloured tunics made of silk chiffon.

"I don't just dress them in black," she says.

Islamic wear can be "a thing of beauty rather than something that is prohibitive," says Ms Tom.

Mainstream impulse

The Islamic fashion festival is part of Malaysia's international fashion week.

It will show Muslim women different ways of covering themselves, says the chairman and founder Raja Rezza Shah.

The 48-year-old says he created the event in 2006 as a way to make Islamic fashion more mainstream.

Since then, more than 200 designers from all over the world have participated - half of them non-Muslims says Mr Rezza.

"I am proud to say that at least we have proven that Islam, or Islamic activities, is not a platform that will frighten non-Muslims away.

Over the last three years, Mr Rezza has taken their shows to Jakarta and Dubai. They hope to hold one in Monte Carlo next August.

Mr Rezza sees a lot of potential in the Islamic fashion market with Kuala Lumpur as the centre.

That is because Muslims make up over 50% of Malaysians. It is also next to Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population.

'Room for creativity'

Top European fashion houses like Christian Dior have tried to tap into that market this year by revamping Islamic garments like the abaya, a floor length black overcoat.

Women in Arab states in the Persian Gulf usually wear abayas with a head scarf or face veil that covers everything but the eyes.

Mr Rezza says Malaysia, with its mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian communities, is fit to become a fashion capital for Islamic wear because religious rules here are not nearly as strict as the Middle East.

"I feel we have more room for creativity."

Mr Rezza says the fashion event will showcase dresses of all different lengths.

This open interpretation of what constitutes Islamic fashion has caused a lot of people to criticise him, says Mr Rezza. Most of them are fellow Muslims who question why some of the models are not covered up completely.

Mr Rezza says he wants to reflect what Muslim women are really wearing in different regions, so he is not hung up on how Islamic the clothing really is.

He says his goal is to first generate interest.

Mr Rezza says he is happy to see more boutiques in Kuala Lumpur selling Islamic fashion since he started his shows.

Gradually he says he hopes covering up is not automatically associated with being an extremist or being old fashioned.

Islamic swimwear

Malaysia prides itself as a moderate Muslim nation.

In Kuala Lumpur, Muslim women have a wide range of styles. Some wear colourful head scarves and tunics.

Others may wear a head scarf paired with a revealing top over a long-sleeved shirt to cover the chest and arms.

Trying to adhere to Islamic rules using western clothing is tough.

Nuraini Mohammed Ariffin says she could not go to public pools because the traditional bathing suit is too revealing.

With the encouragement of her husband, the 37-year-old designed an Islamic swimsuit consisting of four pieces: a head scarf that covers down to the shoulders, a swimming cap, a garment that looks like sleeveless surfing wet suit and a zip-up tunic to go over top.

Ms Nuraini created her company, Active Attire, five years ago.

Since then, she has noticed more competition in the market with designers from Spain, Indonesia and Australia.

But Ms Nuraini says she doesn't mind because that means Islamic swim wear will become accepted internationally.

That's the whole point of the Islamic fashion festival, says the head of Khadani fashion label Abdul Kareem Said Khadaied.

He says fashion is a good way to showcase the softer and gentler side of Islam.

"Islam is not all about calling for Jihad," he says.

Mr Abdul Kareem says the point of the fashion event is to show Muslims and non-Muslims that Islamic wear can be glamorous.

"You don't want others to look at you like a sex object but you can be beautiful."


'Why can't Muslim women also lead the community?'

November 05, 2009

New Delhi-based Zakia Nizami Soman is one of the founder members of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, a movement of Muslim women across India struggling for their citizenship rights. She tells Yoginder Sikand about the BMMA's work and reflects on the daunting challenges facing Muslim women in India today.

How did the BMMA start? What made you and your colleagues feel the need for a separate Muslim women's movement?

The BMMA was inaugurated in Delhi [ Images ] in January 2007, but before that we -- numerous Muslim women -- were working in our individual capacities on issues related to Muslims, particularly Muslim women, in different parts of India.

I was working in Gujarat, my home state, before that, with Action Aid, in the wake of the state-sponsored genocidal attacks on Muslims in 2002. In a sense, it was the Gujarat genocide that brought us Muslim women, scattered across India, together. We met at numerous conventions, rallies and public hearings after the riots.

We were all deeply concerned with the plight of the Muslims, including and especially women, and the enormous danger of Hindutva fascism, and were trying, in our own ways, to intervene. That was when we decided to form a loose collective of our own. We felt that the issues of Muslim women were somehow being sidelined in a climate of heightened Muslim insecurity.

We urgently felt the need for Muslim women to speak out, not just against patriarchy within the community and unjust personal laws, but also against growing anti-Muslim discrimination, against Muslims being treated as second-class citizens in this country and against neglect, indeed, discrimination by the state and other forces. We felt the desperate need for a Muslim women's voice at the national level.

We began our work in 2005 by organising meetings in various cities of India of like-minded Muslim women in Delhi, and so on. In the beginning, we did not have any clear agenda. These meetings served as a means for us to get to know each other and to clarify our thinking on issues related to Muslim women, the Indian Muslims as a whole, as well as the larger society and the struggles of other marginalised groups for justice and equality.

After considerable discussion and deliberation about what our ideology and form of our collective, finally we announced the formation of the BMMA at our first national convention in 2007. Some 500 women attended the convention. Thereafter, our numbers rapidly grew, and now we have almost 20,000 members, with chapters in 15 states. Most of them are volunteers, who take up Muslim community, particularly Muslim women's, issues at the local level.

Our name expresses our mission. We are 'Bharatiya', or Indian. We refuse to let the advocates of Hindutva monopolise the term. We are Muslim and not at all apologetic about it. We are 'mahilas', or women. And, finally, we are an 'andolan' or movement, not an institutionalised NGO, that seeks to mobilise and work with not just Muslim women, but also the whole secular and democratic movement in India, for the problems we all face are so deep-rooted that large scale people's mobilisation is the only way out.

The BMMA is based on the values of the Indian Constitution as well as the Quran, both of which have given Muslim women equal rights. Our basic mandate is to work on issues related to education, livelihood, health and security and personal laws of Muslims in general, and Muslim women in particular.

This also includes the struggle against communalism, against the stereotyping of Muslims and Islam and the tendency to link them with terrorism.

You speak of the Quran as gender-just, but what would you say about the very obviously patriarchal, and, in several aspects, patently anti-women, stances of the conservative ulema?

Islam speaks of a God who is just. The Quran has given women equal rights and equal dignity. We are as much God's followers as men are.

The problem arises not from the Quran but from distorted, patriarchal interpretations of the Quran and other texts by some sections of the ulema. This is something that we have to fight against. Islam is a religion of justice.

So, how, if it is interpreted properly, can it discriminate against women? For us, religion is something between the individual and God, a belief grounded in the faith that God cannot be unjust towards women. So, even if a thousand maulvis stand up and demand that women are inferior and that we should remain shut in their homes we will refuse to listen to them.

Why did you feel the need for a separate Muslim women's voice?

The experience of the Muslims of Gujarat in the wake of the 2002 genocide taught us one valuable lesson: that Muslims have to stand up on their own for justice for themselves. Thousands of Muslim men, women and children were slaughtered in cold blood.

Three hundred Muslim women were brutally raped and then burnt alive, some in front of their children. With the exception of a few, the so-called secular Indian feminists did not dare to speak out against the Gujarat carnage. It is a shame that Gujarat is home to some of the largest women's organisations and yet they chose to remain mute.

Either they were too scared or else it was a case of them showing their hidden anti-Muslim prejudice. They maintained a deafening silence. They had shown their deep-rooted, often unacknowledged, pro-Hindu and anti-Muslim bias on several occasions before, as during the dastardly massacre of Muslims in Mumbai in 1992.

This made us realise that we could not depend on the women's movement to take up our cause, to speak for us. We needed to speak for ourselves. Also, our multiple exclusion, just like that of Dalit women, has failed to find any real representation in the discourse of the so-called 'mainstream'. To reflect this, we coined the slogan Jiski ladai, uski aguvai ('She shall lead whose struggle it is').

Most self-styled Indian feminists are so-called 'upper' caste Hindus. Of course, there are individuals who are different, by and large, as far as Muslims are concerned, there is no difference, generally speaking, between a Brahmin woman and a Brahmin man. They are both part of the same patriarchal, hegemonic system. That is also how, for instance, Dalits or Adivasis, similarly oppressed communities, would view them.

That said, we were, and still are, open to alliances with democratic, secular-minded women and men from other communities. Our membership is not restricted to Muslim women alone. Our membership is open to all, except those who are not secular and those who lack financial integrity. In fact, some 15 percent of our members are non-Muslims. We also have some male members.

We also seek to build alliances with other groups and communities fighting for justice, because we see our struggle not just as a Muslim women's one, or even a Muslim one, but, rather, as part of a broader movement for all secular-minded and democratic Indians. We often attend meetings organised by Dalits, women's groups, and trade unions, and they, too, come to our meetings to express their solidarity.

The second reason why we felt the need for an independent national-level voice for Muslim women was our objection to the fact that when it comes to discussing Muslims, only people with a certain sort of identity -- and all males, incidentally, particularly conservative ulema or rabble-rousers are projected as the representatives of the community.

The fact is that the male Muslim religious and political leadership has completely failed not just Muslim women, but Muslims as a whole. Typically, they remain silent on the pressing issues of Muslim women -- not just on issues related to outdated and patriarchal understandings of family law, but also on matters such as Muslim women's educational and economic empowerment.

Many of them even adopt patently anti-women stances, and, moreover, have done precious little, if at all, even for Muslim men. Muslims in India are victims of discrimination, including by the state, but a major cause of our plight is also the existing Muslim elite.

We cannot accept them as our leaders. When the Sachar Committee Report talks of the all-round social and economic exclusion of Muslims, it is not a situation that has developed overnight. It is a tale of pervasive discrimination as well as the failure of the supposed Muslim leadership to enable the Muslims to participate in Indian democracy.

It was not that we want to speak for Muslim women alone. Rather, we speak for, and highlight the concerns of, Muslims as a whole, men as well as women. Till now, those who have claimed to be the leaders of the Muslims have all been men. Why can't it change? Why can't Muslim women also lead the whole community -- not just Muslim women?

Some women's groups project the major concerns of Muslim women to be issues related to personal law -- triple talaq in one sitting, polygamy, and so on. How do you look at this?

These are definitely crucial issues that need to be addressed, and certainly I believe that the existing Muslim Personal Law in India needs to be reformed on gender-just lines and within the broad framework of the shariah, and then codified.

But, I do not believe that they are the major issues facing the vast majority of Indian Muslim women. Their foremost concerns relate to endemic poverty and illiteracy that characterises the Muslim community as a whole, including Muslim men, and anti-Muslim discrimination by the state and other forces.

We do not see Muslim women's issues in isolation from the issues faced by the wider Muslim community. Unless these issues are simultaneously addressed, you cannot expect Muslim women's conditions to be ameliorated. The tendency to locate the sources of Muslim women's marginalisation solely within the community itself -- blaming just Muslim men or the ulema and their patriarchal understandings of religion -- is patently unfair.

How can you expect Muslim women to be empowered and able to resist male domination if they are not educationally and economically empowered? A major responsibility in this regard is that of the state, which continues to marginalise and neglect Muslims, including Muslim women. How can you expect divorced Muslim women to be paid a decent sum as maintenance if the vast majority of Muslim men continue to wallow in poverty?

Then, I must add, there is this marked tendency, even among so-called feminists, to stereotype Muslim women as hapless, helpless creatures, heavily oppressed by their men and religious leaders, as if Muslim women are unique in this regard. This is not the case at all.

This stereotypical image of Muslim women can be very misleading. For instance, surveys have proved that a lower proportion of Muslim couples are polygamous than other communities in India, including Hindus, although, by Indian law, polygamy is possible only for Muslims. Likewise, there is such media hype about the burkha that feeds negative images of Islam and Muslims.

In the BMMA we have several members who wear the burkha or hijab, some of who work outside their homes. It does not restrict their mobility. Some of these sisters are among our most vocal and outspoken activists. That said, to wear or not to wear the burkha is a woman's personal choice, and nobody should force her against her will.

What has been the reaction of the ulema to the BMMA? Have you encountered any opposition or hostility from them?

Contrary to what some of us had initially feared, we have faced no problems at all from the ulema. In fact, some of them have even addressed our meetings. The latest one to do so was Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, the vice-president of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, who is a great champion of women's rights and education.

That said, I must also mention that we deliberately do not seek to court those ulema and their organisations that are communal and are known for their misogynist views. The BMMA is a non-sectarian group, and we have members from different Muslim sects -- Shias, Sunnis, so-called 'lower' castes and so on, and so we do not work with any sectarian Muslim ulema groups.

At the same time, I must also stress that we are not anti-religion at all. Personally, I see no contradiction between the Quran and equality and justice for women. I think that by providing positive models of Muslim women as social activists we are serving the cause of Islam at a time when its image is being sullied, being presented both by its foes as well as conservative and radical Muslims as anti-women.

What practical activities has the BMMA undertaken so far?

We have formulated and published a model nikah namah or marriage contract, which, in contrast to the ones generally used in India, safeguards the rights of both spouses, and is fully in accordance with the Quran.

It was framed by a team of Muslim women scholars, with the help of the well-known Islamic scholar Dr Asghar Ali Engineer. Till now, almost 300 marriages have been conducted, mainly in Maharashtra and Gujarat, using this nikah namah.

Two years ago, we launched a national campaign to press for the implementation of the recommendations of the Sachar Committee Report on Muslims. The Congress-led government, which had appointed the committee, is doing nothing about it -- true to form, it is simply hoodwinking Muslims with false promises -- but still we need to keep up the pressure.

Our members have been going around in their areas, asking local MLAs, MPs, bank managers and so on what they have, if at all, done for Muslims, and we plan to compile these findings and publish them as a report soon.

Personally speaking, what was the source of inspiration that led you to join this movement?

My source of courage were the Muslim women of Gujarat, whom I worked with in the course of the state-sponsored genocide in 2002. In the face of the barbaric criminality, not just of Hindutva mobs but also of the state itself, many Muslims felt it was best to remain silent, to accept things as they were, to remain low and subdued.

But it was these women, whose husbands and children had been slaughtered in front of their very eyes, whose houses had been burned down, who refused to keep silent. They wanted to fight back, to denounce the criminals behind the carnage and those who backed them.

They came in their hundreds to rallies and demonstrations, even before the Parliament House in Delhi. Many of them were burkha-clad, but that did not stop them from coming out in droves. They were not begging for relief or hand-outs. What they demanded was justice.

These women who lit a fire in my heart. If they could be so brave, so committed, why could I not be like them? I thought.

by BMMA women


Lucknow: Shias criticise Amar Singh for comparing Kalyan Singh with Hurr ibn Yazid Al-Riyahi

06 Nov 2009

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Lucknow: A group of Shia leaders has filed a complaint against Samajwadi Party (SP) general secretary Amar Singh for allegedly hurting sentiments of the community, police said on Friday.

Singh has been charged with hurting the sentiments of the Shia community by equating the rebel Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh with Hurr ibn Yazid Al-Riyahi, who initially opposed the Prophet Mohammad's grandson Hussain's way but later repented and joined his party.

"A case under section 153 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) has been registered against Amar Singh for hurting religious sentiments of the (Shia) community," city's Chowk police station's inspector N.P. Singh told.

According to police, Singh, while addressing a public meeting in Chowk area Wednesday for his party's candidate for the Lucknow West assembly seat, had reportedly said: "Kalyan nahi ye Hur hai, BJP ka Bhasmasur hai." Bhasmasur was an asura (demon) in Hindu mythology, with the power of incinerating his enemies.

By-polls for 11 assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat (Ferozabad) in Uttar Pradesh will take place Saturday.


The Threat Of The "Muslim Mafia"

By Tom Tancredo

November 6, 2009

The recent indictment and arrest of Aurora resident and Afghanistan immigrant Najibullah Zazi on terrorism charges has again put a spotlight on the problem of Islamic radicals plotting acts of violence. But a book released this past week raises the question of whether our nation's response to the terrorist threat is being deliberately undermined by U.S.-based organizations whose mission is the eventual Islamization of America.

"Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld that's Conspiring to Islamize America," was released Oct. 15 and is already gaining attention from national lawmakers. Four members of Congress have asked the House sergeant-at-arms to investigate allegations in the book of double agents placed inside Congress by the Council for American-Islamic Relations.

Such allegations will be dismissed as alarmist by many, but critics will have to confront the book's extensive documentation. Its authors are investigative reporters David Gaubatz and Paul Sperry, who have national security backgrounds and solid reputations.

The most controversial part of the book is the relationship between CAIR and the international Muslim Brotherhood, a relationship that has both financial and ideological aspects. The Muslim Brotherhood is highly organized and operates in both public and covert realms. One of its avowed missions is to bring Sharia law to America as one step in the destruction of Western civilization from within.

The Council for American-Islamic Relations is well known in Washington, D.C. Until recently, it enjoyed a cozy relationship with the FBI. Our nation's news media often turn to CAIR for a "moderate Muslim response" to events of the day. Yet this book shows that the mask of moderation covers its real mission.

CAIR has a record of opposing many laws and measures that aim to deal effectively with the jihad being waged against Western democracies by radical Islam. How "moderate" is an organization that supports Palestinian terrorists, seeks to eliminate all obstacles to Islamic immigration to the U.S., opposes the Patriot Act, and accepts funding from sources tied to the Muslim Brotherhood?

According to "Muslim Mafia," CAIR is part of a network of more than 100 organizations in the U.S. that are serving as front groups for the Muslim Brotherhood. Their agenda is not to protect the civil rights of Muslim- Americans. It is a purely political mission: to neuter all opposition to the agenda of radical Islam.

CAIR's operatives and apologists try to paint all critics as "Islamophobes" and "McCarthyites" and seldom respond to specific charges. To these apostles of pre-emptive forgiveness, Islam is just another exotic religion, and we can all live together in peace and friendship if we will only put away the fears and slanders propagated by the "merchants of hate." The problem is that the principal "merchant of hate" in the modern world is radical Islam and its jihad of violence, not those who are sounding the alarm.

Fortunately, authentic leaders within Islam have begun speaking out against the jihad waged by the radicals. The dividing line, however, between Muslims wanting to live within our democracy as Muslim-Americans and the radicals who want to replace it is not support or opposition to jihad. That dividing line, this book makes clear, is the choice of Sharia law over Anglo-American common law and the U.S. Constitution. CAIR and its allies are pursuing a plan to place civic loyalty and ultimately citizenship itself outside the Constitution and in the hands of radical imams.

The articles of indictment against Najibullah Zazi say he sought and attended terrorist training in Pakistan. But if the authors of this book are correct, we face a far larger problem than these foreign-trained terrorists. We may well be growing and training our own brand of domestic terrorists who know how to destroy our nation from within.

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado is chairman of the Rocky Mountain Foundation.


Saudi warplanes bomb Shia rebels in Yemen after border raid

05 Nov 2009

Saudi Arabia launched air strikes on Shia rebels in Yemen yesterday after they mounted a cross-border raid into the desert kingdom.

The separatists, who accuse the Saudi authorities of supporting Yemen's Sunni Muslim central government, came under sustained attack from F15 and Tornado warplanes. Al-Jazeera television reported that one position had been hit by about 100 missiles in the space of an hour.

Saudi troops were being mobilised near the border for a possible incursion. There were also unconfirmed reports on Thursday that Saudi special forces were already inside Yemen.

Yemen launched Operation Scorched Earth in August to crush the rebellion led by the Huthi tribe. Aid groups say around 150,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, which first broke out in 2004.

Saudi officials in Riyadh said the air force had bombed Yemeni rebels who had seized a border area inside the kingdom, killing at least one Saudi soldier on Wednesday. They claimed at least 40 rebels had been killed in the Saudi response and the territory recaptured.

"After what happened yesterday, it is clear they have lost track of reality and it has got to a point where there is no other way. They have got to be finished," said a Saudi official.

The Yemeni government denied that Saudi planes had struck across the border. The authorities in the capital Sana'a have repeatedly dismissed accusations by the northern rebels that they have colluded with Riyadh to combat them.

The Saudi response followed the killing of at least one border guard on Wednesday.

There has been growing concern in the region that Yemen's civil war could spill across its borders, sucking in Saudi Arabia on the side of the government, and possibly Iran, which is largely Shia Muslim, which would sympathise with the separatists.

Saudi Arabia, which shares a 930-mile border with Yemen, was already anxious about the instability and militancy of factions inside its neighbour, which is also facing separatist sentiment in the south and a growing threat from a resurgent al-Qaeda.


Islam under fire in Texas army shooting

6 November 2009

By Marijke Peters

As the US army deals with the aftermath of a fatal shooting at one of its bases, a controversial American scholar has told Radio Netherlands the White House should vet all Muslims who want to enlist. Major Nadal Malik Hasan killed 13 people and left another 30 injured – it’s believed he was unhappy about the prospect of being sent to Iraq.

Listen to an interview with Daniel Pipes

The incident at Fort Hood – one of the largest bases in the US - was the latest in a number attacks carried out by American soldiers on their own people. In July this year Specialist Armano Baca was charged with murdering a fellow soldier, Ryan Richard Schlack, after returning from Iraq. And in 2005 another US soldier was sentenced to death for a grenade attack in Kuwait, on the eve of the Iraq war, that left two other soldiers dead.

Bigger problem

Although only the second of these attacks was carried out by a Muslim soldier, Daniel Pipes – an academic on radical Islam – says this is a bigger problem than the US wants to admit. He argues all Muslims entering the police or army should be thoroughly investigated.

“Assuming  this soldier Hasan was angry at the war, it’s not terribly surprising. There are tensions. Unfortunately, I think there’s a pattern when there are Muslims who engage in violent acts, to interpret this as something other than Jihad. And I think that’s a mistake. In general that’s the motive – it’s anger against non-Muslims.”

Video footage taken just before the Fort Base massacre reveals Maj Hasan was wearing what appears to be a traditional Arab robe and a skull cap. The shop owner where he bought his breakfast every day says the army psychiatrist was worried about being sent to Iraq and the prospect of fighting other Muslims.

Isolated incident

But while much is being made in the media of Maj Hasan’s faith, Muslims in the US stress this was an isolated incident. Robert Salaam was in the US marines for six years and converted to Islam in 200. He says this was an isolated incident carried out by a possible extremist.

Listen to an interview with Robert Salaam

“It’s surprising because statistically it’s very rare for troops in general to turn on their fellow comrades, especially in this case, and outside of the Hasan Akbar incident [in Kuwait]  there really isn’t much of this thing with Muslim-soldiers turning on fellow comrades. It tends to be rare…. It’s extremely shocking whether it’s a Muslim or not.”

Ethical dilemma

Robert Salaam admits Muslims in the armed forces face an ethical dilemma and there is not enough recognition in the US of the important role they play. But he argues those who enlist must realise they might be sent to combat, and could be posted to Afghanistan or Iraq.

“I would say if you’re a Muslim considering going into the military and you have issues with these wars, then you shouldn’t go.”

Investigation ongoing

Investigators in Texas are still trying to piece together yesterday’s events and in particular, what prompted an experienced soldier – just two ranks away from becoming General - to embark on a killing spree. Robert Salaam warned against jumping to conclusions about Maj Hasan’s motives and said there have only been two incidents of this kind in the past decade.

“Muslims have been in the US for  several centuries and have contributed to American society in every single way. There are over 20,000 estimated active duty military… We’ve earned a right to serve in our country. We’re not vetting radical Christians – Timothy McVeigh was an army soldier and he blew up the Oklahoma federal building – crimes happen in America every few seconds and the country is majority Christian. We don’t call them Christian killings.


Egypt Islamists appalled by Beyonce 'sex party'

Fri, Nov 06, 2009

"I do not know who agreed to this sinful, unacceptable advertisement, or indeed who agreed to these blatant sex parties," Hassan wrote, accusing the government of encouraging "sin and debauchery."

Meanwhile, a group on social networking site Face book opposing her concert has attracted nearly 10,000 members.

One poster displayed on the site, showing the silhouette of a curvacious woman with a diagonal red line through it, was entitled "This is not Egypt."

Bayonne, who once told an interviewer that she "likes to dress sexy," has so far drawn about 50 million dollars on her "I Am..." world tour, and there's no word yet on what she will be wearing.

Last month, Bay once postponed a concert outside Kuala Lumpur after an official of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic party expressed sharp disapproval.

"We are not against entertainment, but it's the way she performs - her gyrating moves on stage and her sexy outfits. It will erode the moral values of our young people," PAS youth chief Nasruddin Hassan Tantawi told AFP.

Marctensia, organiser of the Malaysian concert, had said Bay once would tone down her attire.

It insisted the postponement was "solely the decision of the artiste and has nothing to do with other external reasons" and that a new date would be announced.

In Egypt, the concert is still set to go ahead, under tight security, at the Red Sea resort of Port Ghalib.

The best tickets are going for Egyptian 2,000 pounds (366 dollars, 246 euros), well above the means of most Egyptians.

The banned party Muslim Brotherhood is effectively Egypt's main opposition party and is widely popular for its social work. It runs candidates as independents in parliamentary elections to get around the ban.

The party, which calls for the establishment of an Islamic state by peaceful means, normally focuses its flak on government corruption and foreign policy but has campaigned against what it considers prurient literature and art.

Most Egyptian Muslim women wear head scarves in accordance with Islamic custom, and the poverty-ridden country has lurched towards religious conservativism.

But the country is arguably the capital of the Arab world's film and music industries, and satellite channels with Arab pop stars in sometimes racy music videos have a wide audience.

And Western singers regularly perform in Egypt. In February, pop singer Akon, famous for his hit single "Smack that," peeled off his shirt and dove into the crowd.

It is still to be seen what sexy outfits and gyrating moves Bey once offers the crowds on Friday night. But long after she is gone, nightclubs will still have plenty of both on offer - as belly dancers delight both Egyptian and foreign audiences. CAIRO - R and B singer Bay once, who put off a gig in Malaysia following Islamist outrage over her "gyrating moves" and "sexy outfits," has brought her world tour to Egypt and more hostility.

Hamdi Hassan, a lawmaker from the Muslim Brotherhood, has written to the speaker of the house and the interior minister labeling her planned Friday night show a "sex party" and demanding to know why she was allowed to perform.

He said the concert advertisement, in which the comely diva wears a leotard fitted with motorbike handlebars extending from her crotch and a headlight nestled in her cleavage, "threatens social peace and security."


Hamas allows Muslim pilgrims to leave Gaza

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Hamas said Friday it is allowing Muslims to leave the Gaza Strip on the annual pilgrimage to Mecca after blocking them last year because of a Palestinian political dispute.

"The first wave of around 1,000 hajj pilgrims from the Gaza Strip is now traveling to Egypt through the Rafah border crossing," Hamas religious affairs minister Taleb Abu Shaar told AFP.

"We are coordinating with our brothers in the (West Bank political capital of) Ramallah to allow 4,500 pilgrims from Gaza to make the pilgrimage this year," he added.

Hamas prevented pilgrims from leaving Gaza last year to protest Saudi Arabia's policy of only granting visas through president Mahmud Abbas's Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The Palestinians have been deeply divided since Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007, driving out forces loyal to Abbas in a week of bloody clashes and cleaving the territories into hostile rival camps.

This year, however, the West Bank religious affairs ministry has reached an agreement with its Hamas-run counterpart to jointly issue the visas to residents of the impoverished coastal territory.

In another rare instance of cooperation, the West Bank government shipped 5,000 swine flu vaccinations to Gaza to be given to pilgrims, a Hamas health ministry official said.

"We will administer the vaccine at the Rafah crossing itself to make sure that everyone gets vaccinated," Jihad Ahmed, the head of the ministry's vaccination programme, told AFP.

This will be the first time the vaccine has been used in Gaza, which has no recorded cases of A(H1N1).

Israel and Egypt have sealed Gaza off from all but vital aid and strictly restricted travel since Hamas seized power.

The Rafah crossing with Egypt, Gaza's only border terminal not controlled by Israel, is occasionally opened to allow humanitarian cases, students and Palestinians with Egyptian visas to leave the territory.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.


The Reality of Middle East Anti-Semitism

By P. David Hornik

"The scale and extremism of the [anti-Semitic] literature and commentary available in Arab or Muslim newspapers, journals, magazines, caricatures, on Islamist websites, on the Middle Eastern radio and TV news, in documentaries, films, and educational materials, is comparable only to that of Nazi Germany at its worst."

So states Israeli historian Robert Wistrich this week in an op-ed in Israel's (left-wing) daily Haaretz. Wistrich, one of the world's leading authorities on anti-Semitism, is a scholar who stays out of politics and is not identified with any political camp in Israel.

His op-ed, however, sounds somber notes. "In the Middle East," he writes, anti-Semitism "has taken on a particularly dangerous, toxic and potentially genocidal aura of hatred, closely linked to the 'mission' of holy war or jihad against the West and the Jews…. Yet the Western world largely turns a blind eye to the likely genocidal consequences of such a culture of hatred, much as it did 70 years ago."

Is one form of "turning a blind eye" the insistence on a "peace process" between Israel and the Arab world? Seemingly, simple sense would say so. If the surrounding countries are in the grip of an anti-Semitism "comparable only to that of Nazi Germany at its worst," then the idea of reaching some sort of definitive "peace" between them and the Jewish state appears flawed.

That is not to say the Arab (or Muslim) world is monolithic in its attitudes toward Israel or that important distinctions do not exist. Israel's relations with the Jordanian and Egyptian regimes have fostered some stability with, so far, no reprise of the wars between Israel and Arab states that occurred from 1948 to 1973. At the same time, the media and populations of these countries are no less saturated with hatred of Israel and Jews than those of countries with hostile regimes like Syria and Lebanon.

And the attempts, over the past couple of decades, at reaching a formal peace with the Palestinians have had especially dire results, from the suicide bombings and other terror of 1994-1996 and 2000-2005 to the rocket fire from Gaza that persists to this day, with Palestinian society adopting a cult of the "martyr" (mass murderer of Jews) that is virulent even by the region's standards.

None of this deterred the Obama administration from making Israeli-Palestinian peace, as part of a larger, comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, a central or even the central foreign policy goal. Ten months later, the results are meager. Obama's attempts to get countries like Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia to make even minimal "confidence-building" gestures toward Israel, like opening interest offices in Israel or allowing Israeli overflights of their territory, were coldly rebuffed. Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas now refuses even to negotiate with Israel, claiming this would first require a total Israeli settlement freeze even though, over the previous sixteen years of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, that was never made a condition.

Specific, "political" reasons can be adduced for the Israeli-Palestinian impasse. An initial Palestinian expectation that Obama would simply "deliver" Israel has not materialized, causing disappointment. Abbas, fighting for his political life in the Palestinian street, is under pressure from openly radical Hamas and more radical elements of his own Fatah party not to appear conciliatory. Since Abbas rejected hands-down a very generous peace offer by previous Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, it could reasonably be asked what he has to gain by negotiating with considerably less dovish Binyamin Netanyahu.

Valid as those points may be, they should not obscure the larger picture -- and deeper explanation -- of a cultural animosity toward Israel that is at fever pitch. A "genocidal aura of hatred," as Wistrich puts it, could not rationally be seen as compatible with a "peace process."

That does not necessarily mean the United States should stop at least a pretense of diplomatic activity on the Israeli-Palestinian front. Arguably, it brings benefits of demonstrating American concern with the issue to the larger Arab and Muslim world, and, possibly, preventing a deterioration into Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Even if so, "peace" should not be pursued in a way that appears to validate the enmity that surrounds Israel. This week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after another fruitless round of talks in Israel and the Palestinian Authority during which she praised Netanyahu's relatively conciliatory position on settlements, found herself in hot water in the Arab world and backtracked, stating in Cairo on Wednesday that: "We do not accept the legitimacy of settlement activity and we have a very firm belief that ending all settlement activity, current and future, would be preferable."

Endorsing the racist Palestinian and Arab view that "peace" would require that a future Palestinian state be Jew-free, and is incompatible with a Jewish presence, is not a way to cool the flames and is a capitulation to a very nasty ethos.


Relationship between Islam and Britain not new: Jack Straw

By Fawad Hashmey

LONDON, Nov 6 (APP)- The British Justice Secretary Jack Straw has said Britain has been greatly enriched over the course of centuries by the Muslim history and heritage and by its learned and vibrant culture.Speaking on  the subject of “Muslim integration in Britain” to mark the opening of a photographic exhibition by Peter Sanders aka Abdullah Deen at the Royal Commonwealth Society Thursday evening, he referred to the past history as early as 1386 and said Adel bard, tutor to King Henry II was known to have translated Arabic texts into Latin and Oliver Cromwell and his contemporaries were educated in the basic tenets of the Holy Qur’an.

He also pointed out even earlier connection between Islam and Britain exists in the form of a gold coin on display in the British museum, dating back to the 8th century to the reign of King Offa of Mercia containing both mark of England and an Arabic inscription of the shahadah , the first pillar of Islam.

More recently, Straw said, the links between Islam and Britain were strengthened during the 1950s with the largest migration of Muslims into this country.  It was in textile towns in Lancashire, in Yorkshire, in parts of Scotland, and in the industrial towns of the Midlands, that Muslims first began to bolster the British economy and demonstrate their entrepreneurial spirit.

“My own constituency, Blackburn, benefited from hundreds of Indian and Pakistani immigrants arriving from the Gujarat and Kashmir areas and joining the textile industry at a time when there was a desperate shortage of labour. The contribution of Muslims to British society has only become more significant since then.”

The Justice Secretary observed that Britain’s two million-strong Muslim community now makes a visible, tangible difference to all walks of life in Britain, from politics, law, the arts, sciences and sport, to business, finance, and academia.

“Those of us who are not Muslims but who have the privilege of knowing and working closely with Muslims can testify to that.  Throughout my adult life, it has been my privilege to name Muslims among my very best of friends, and to represent so many of them, around 30,000  in my constituency of Blackburn.

“I have spent many hours talking with them, learning from them, sometimes arguing with them, often laughing with them.  I have been welcomed into their homes.  I have been invited to celebrate their festivals.  And I have visited brothers and sisters across the Islamic world, most recently in Pakistan and India.”

Straw said the Islamic faith is also now a vital and established part of British life. Islam is the second largest and the fastest growing religion in the UK, and British people are, more than ever before, enjoying and experiencing its religious and cultural traditions.

Praising the works of Sanders, he said, the photographer has wonderfully illustrated the valued role Muslims and the Islamic faith play in British society.

However, he cautioned against those aiming to undermine the tolerant society whether they be the far right British National Party or violent extremists professing to act in the name of Islam.

“British and Muslim are complementary not contradictory,” he added.

Earlier, a panel discussion on the subject of “The Challenges and opportunities of Muslim integration in Britain” was held. Moderated by Mishal Husain of BBC World, it was participated by  Imam Monawar Husain of Eton College, Alveena Malik of Institute for Community Cohesion, Peter Sanders and Martin Bright, Political Editor, Jewish Chronicle.

The participants discussed the various aspects of the issue and called on the Government to provide more and equal opportunities for the Muslim community to integrate fully into the British society through shared values, compassion and tolerance.


Media Begins To Caution Over Islam’s Role in Fort Hood Shootings

By John Romano

November 5, 2009

The battle over how much of a role Islam may have played in the Fort Hood attack has begun in the media:

The Huffington Post states that “there is no concrete reporting as to whether Nidal Malik Hasan was in fact a Muslim or an Arab. All that has been reported is that he served in the Department of Psychology at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Bethesda Naval Facility in Bethesda, Maryland.”

Fox News reports, “Nader Hasan said his cousin, who was raised a Muslim, wanted to go into the military against his parent’s wishes and was taunted by others after the terror attacks of Sept. 11.”

MSNBC skirted the issue and focused on the number of soldiers who have committed suicide (74) at Fort Hood in recent years.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) plans to hold a press conference shortly to denounce the attack and get ahead of any backlash.  On the other side, Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch claims the shooter said, “Muslims have to stand up against the aggressor.”  Left leaning site, Daily Kos covered the shootings, but then moved on to other issues.

The Drudge Report asked simply, “Why did he do it?”  Campbell Brown asked essentially the same question on CNN.

The American media has been loathe to label any attack in the United States as motivated by Islam since the terrorist attacks of 2001.


Muslim Army major was behind shootings at Fort Hood

By Bill Roggio

November 5, 2009

A gunman opened fire today on US soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, the largest US military base in America. Initial reports indicate the attack took place at a readiness center where soldiers prepare to deploy overseas. According to initial reports, 11 people have been killed, and more than 30 have been wounded. The attack was carried out by a soldier named Major Nidal Malik Hassan. Two other suspects were arrested for involvement in the attacks; initial reports indicate the men are US soldiers. Sources report that the shooter was a psychiatrist and that his nickname was "Abduwali."

The Pentagon is urging the media not to speculate on the motive for the attack. ABC News' Brian Ross described Major Hassan as a recent convert to Islam. Given that the attack took place at a centre where troops go to prepare for deployment to Iraq and was committed by a soldier who is a recent convert to Islam, the obvious assumption could be made that this was some form of an Islamist terror attack. Time, and the two suspected accomplices, if they were indeed involved in the attack, will tell.

Daveed Gartenstein Ross, a Long War Journal/Threat Matrix contributor and the Director of the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies' Centre for Terrorism Research, said this about the attack:

One important aspect of this case will be assessing whether Major Malik Hassan and his accomplices were acting out of religion-political motivations, or whether there was another cause to the shooting. In Asan Akbar's 2003 grenade attack on fellow soldiers, he was very upfront about why he did it. Until the motivation is known, we won't know if this was an act of terrorism; but if it was terrorism, understanding the process of radicalization that they went through will be critical.

Daveed is an expert on the radicalization process, you can read his recent radicalization study here.

Some notes on the attack:

• Initial attacks, which began at about 1:30, appear to have taken place place near the Howze Theater and the Development Centre, where US soldiers line up to prepare for deployments. Other clashes were reported near the PX and a softball field.

• Major Hassan, the shooter, was killed; two other soldiers thought to be involved in the attack have been captured. The identities of the two suspects have not been disclosed.

• The gunman apparently used two handguns.

• The base is under lockdown.

• About 500 soldiers have been assigned to support law enforcement.

• Fort Hood has about 65,000 soldiers.

Correction: Given the quick pace of this story, there are bound to be errors in the initial reports. Family members said that Hassan was not a convert to Islam, but in fact was born into Islam, is of Jordanian descent, and was raised in the US.


Fiasco Royal in Afghanistan/Humiliation in the Mideast

What a mess! The so-called Afghan election that was supposed to impress Americans into supporting the dispatch of more troops to Afghanistan has turned into a fiasco royal.

In late 2001, the lonely voice of this old Afghan hand warned against the United States getting involved in Afghanistan's tribal morass -- or it might never be able to get out.

That was $250 billion and nearly 800 dead American soldiers ago.

After eight years of war, the US faces the spectre of humiliation and defeat in Afghanistan, not to mention the crack-up of the NATO alliance that was dragooned into the war in the Hindu Kush.

Washington's two Afghan clients, Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, kept squabbling and trading charges of fraud until the election pre-rigged by Washington fell apart. The real ruler of most of Afghanistan remains the US military and President Barack Obama.

The administration will, of course, continue pressing the feuding Karzai and Abdullah into some sort of deal, maybe with an American-appointed overseer to keep them in line. The tame US media is already at work rehabilitating Karzai's battered image.

But the inescapable problem remains that Karzai represents no one save his American handlers, and Abdullah is a front-man for the powerful Tajik Northern Alliance-Communist alliance that runs what passes for the national army, police, prisons, and secret police.

So long as minority Tajiks remain the power behind Karzai's shaky throne, then the Pashtun tribes -- Afghanistan's majority -- will reject the Kabul regime and keep supporting Taliban. In fact, if an honest election were held today, Taliban would probably win. The Tajik Northern Alliance is seen as the blood enemy of the Pashtun, agents of the old Afghan Communist Party, and in deep cahoots with patrons India and Russia.

But the US would not allow any political parties to run in this so-called "democratic election," particularly not those opposing the western occupation of Afghanistan. Only candidates supporting the occupation were permitted to run. Thomas Jefferson would not have approved.

President Obama should have seized the opportunity when inaugurated to declare a pause in the war and call for negotiations between all warring parties. Instead, he tied his own hands by declaring Afghanistan a "good war" and vowing to crush al-Qaida there, though there are hardly any members of al-Qaida left.

Now, the president appears ready to succumb to the siren songs of Washington's neoconservatives pressing to expand the Afghan war in order to surround Iran and provoke a war against Tehran.

Validating the old maxim about fools charging in, former Vice President Dick Cheney, who declared in 2002, "Taliban is out of business, permanently," is blasting Obama for dithering over Afghanistan and urging massive troop reinforcements.

Obama has ignored sensible efforts by Saudi Arabia to broker a cease-fire and work toward a coalition government in Afghanistan. Even the former secretary general of NATO has admitted there can only be a political solution to this endless war.

Washington is now back to political square one in Kabul. Obama had better think thrice before sending yet more troops into a quagmire that is getting worse by the week. The fact that Taliban are running around in downtown Kabul should fill the White House with dread. An Afghanistan version of Vietnam's historic Tet offensive may be just around the corner.

In the midst of the self-inflicted Afghan crisis, the Obama administration has just enflamed the Muslim world by cravenly caving in to Israel's hard rightwing Likud Party by giving a green light for continued expansion of Jewish settlements. This, and Afghanistan, are likely to be seen as the two most fateful and disastrous decisions of the Obama presidency.

Obama's decision to allow continued Israeli colonization of the West Bank and Golan gives a huge victory to Israel's hardliners, completely undermines Israel's pro-peace moderates, and delivers a shameful defeat for the American president who had demanded that Israel halt settlement building.

Small wonder Israel's rightwing Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is beaming. He stood up to Obama's public demands and forced America's president to eat crow.

Hillary Clinton, regarded as Israel's point-woman in the cabinet, actually had the chutzpah to claim that her green light to Israeli expansion would lead to real peace talks. What her announcement did was make absolutely clear that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is as impotent a puppet as Hamid Karzai.

It is painfully clear who is making US Mideast policy -- and it is not the president. Israel's long-term quest for peace within recognized borders has been gravely damaged. Worse, Obama's abject surrender to Israel's right will embolden every anti-American group from Morocco to Indonesia. Osama bin Laden must be delighted.

President Obama has thus let slip the best chance ever to resolve the festering issue of Palestine. Under the 2002 Saudi peace plan, the Muslim world offered full peace and normalized relations with Israel in exchange for a pullback to its 1967 borders, give or take a few rectifications. But Israel's hard right wanted no part of this peace deal, hewing instead to its plans for territorial expansion that may even continue into future generations, according to Israeli thinker Uri Avnery.

Now, thanks to President Obama's weakness and political timidity, and his fear of confrontation with Congress over Israel, the Mideast clearly seems headed to much more violence, including a renewed Palestinian intifada and intensified threats of war against Iran. It certainly appears to outsiders that Washington's war party has the Obama administration in its pocket.

Another historic opportunity lost and Obama has not even been in office for a year. America's neoconservatives, whose strategic objective is to plunge the US into permanent war with the Muslim world, are jubilant.

So much for Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama's proclaimed new policy for the Muslim world. The lofty orations in Cairo and Istanbul are now followed by more Predators, Reapers, a new, monster 30,000 pound bomb, and spreading Israeli settlements. It's almost as if George W. Bush has risen for Halloween from the political dead.


Nonie Darwish intimidated by Muslim guard at Toronto airport

November 5, 2009

Kathy Shaidle

Last night I went to hear ex-Muslim Nonie Darwish of Former Muslims United talk about creeping sharia, media misinformation and more at U of T.

What sticks in my mind is the story she told about what happened when she landed in Toronto.

The "bearded, Pakistani-looking" border guy went through the usual spiel: "Business or personal?"

He kept pressing her to describe her business in Toronto and Ottawa in more and more detail.

When she finally said she was going to speak about sharia, he fixed his eyes on her and intoned:

"We are NOT to question sharia."

Feel safe, everybody?

This guy is "guarding" your airport!

People in the audience asked what is to be done. Darwish didn't have any real concrete answers -- at least, none she felt comfortable talking about publicly.

The situation is difficult because both constitutions promise "freedom of religion."

However, neither constitution (to my knowledge) features "a right to immigrate to Canada/the U.S."

So we can more safely, from a legal perspective, campaign for a temporary halt to immigration from Muslim countries, and by Muslims coming here through non-Muslim second countries.

To deal with the belligerent Muslims currently in our midst is a harder task. But turning off the taps would be a start.


Widespread opposition to Muslim girls' school plans in Brierfield

06 November 2009

PLANS to convert the former Smith and Nephew factory in Brier field into a Muslim girls' school have provoked widespread opposition.

Brier field's Mayor, Michael Sutcliff, has spoken out against the plan.

Town councillor Marie Starkie also voiced her disapproval.

Pendle MP Gordon Prentice has lambasted the proposal.

And a leading Pendle BNP councillor has condemned the idea in a letter to this newspaper.

Birmingham-based charity Islamic Help is planning to take over the mill and use it as the Pendle Boarding School for Girls. It is estimated as many as 5,000 students would attend the school if the plans came to fruition.

Mr Sutcliff says in a letter the school would lead to Pendle being faced with "a real problem". He says: "The local education authority has spent millions of pounds on two new schools in Pendle, one of them in Brier field, and millions on a new college in Burnley, and this pops up. It doesn't make sense and it wants kicking into the long grass very quickly. It is funded, I rather think, for people with a lot of sand and oil whose way of thinking doesn't fit in with very few people here."

Mrs Starkie said Pendle Council should get involved and look to convert the Grade II listed building into small industrial units. "People would work in the town and spend money in the town. So much of the industry in Pendle has gone – there are hardly any mills left."

Mr Prentice said: "The scale of what is being proposed is truly staggering. We can only go on Press reports, but 5,000 students is a huge number - equivalent to the population of Earby. It would dwarf every one of our secondary schools in Pendle. I want to see young people of all faiths and genders study and mix together as they grow up."

British National Party councillor Brian Parker said the school and an Islamic college proposed for Burnley were not needed. "Quite apart from anyone's view on the desirability of having two communities living side by side with little in common and divided by religion, the sheer scale of these proposals make them unsuited to our two towns.

"Six and a half thousand young women will make up a very significant proportion of the entire population. Over the years, some will doubtless settle and like any other university those over the age of 18 will be entitled to vote, affecting the political make up of the councils and even who will be the MPs. One would like a little more information about the nature of the education intended to be provided by these colleges and why Muslims wish to be educated apart from the rest of us," he said in a letter jointly signed by John Rowe, the BNP's prospective Parliamentary candidate in Burnley.

No planning application has been submitted to Pendle Council in respect of the school proposals, but the council is brokering a meeting with the charity to find out what is happening.

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