New Age Islam News Bureauhttp://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/maldives-president-requests-ruling-on-non-muslim-worship/d/2125
Maldives President requests ruling on non-Muslim worship
21 November 2009
President Mohamed Nasheed said yesterday he would seek advice from religious scholars on Islam’s position on allowing non-Muslims to worship in an Islamic community.
In his radio weekly address, the president said the constitution was "very clear" that laws contrary to Islam could not be made or enacted.
"It has become very important for me to find out what Islamic sharia says about not allowing foreigners who want to worship other religions in the Maldives," he said.
"When this bill comes from the People's Majlis for the president to ratify, the question before me will be what is the ruling in Islamic sharia on people of other religions living in an Islamic community to worship?"
The president said he needed an answer to the question before ratifying the bill. "When I know, it will be easier for me to make a decision on ratify the bill before it becomes law," he said.
Last week, a bill proposed by independent MP Ibrahim Muttalib Fares-Maathoda on outlawing places of worship for non-Muslims was sent to committee for further review with unanimous consent of all MPs who participated in the vote.
At the sitting, Muttalib said he learned that inquiries had been made with the government on establishing places of worship for expatriates and there was no law to forbid it.
“The other thing we have to think about today is that the government is considering establishing wedding tourism in the country and this will indirectly set up churches in the country,” he said.
While the bill states that foreigners or expatriates will be allowed to worship in the privacy of their homes, involving Maldivians or encouraging them to participate will be an offence.
The bill specifies a jail term of three to five years or a fine of between Rf36,000 (US$2,800) and Rf60,000 (US$4,669) for those in violation of the law.
Several MPs called for longer jail terms and higher fines, while others said foreigners in violation of the law should be deported.
But, some MPs argued the law was unnecessary as the constitution states that Islam shall be the basis of all laws and non-Muslims cannot be citizens.
Most MPs said laws were needed to seal off all avenues to freedom of religion being established in the Maldives.
Rights for Muslims
Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, state minister for Islamic affairs, told Minivan News today the president's office had not officially asked for the ministry’s advice.
"But the matter has been sent to the Fiqh academy and they will issue a decree on it," he said. Shaheem said he believed laws should be made to protect Islam and strengthen Maldivians' faith.
"Right now, Muslims aren't getting their rights," he said. "For example, there's no way for students to pray at schools, you can't get some jobs if you wear the burqa and there are some jobs where you can't grow beards."
He added the ministry had drafted regulations under the Religious Unity Act of 1994 together with the police and sent it to the president's office.
The regulations will be published in the government gazette next week, he continued, and would provide a legal framework to protect Islam.
Speaking to Minivan News today, Abdullah bin Mohamed Ibrahim, president of religious NGO Salaf Jamiyya, said he believed the bill was necessary to safeguard Islam.
"What the president said doesn't match what was in the bill," he said. "The bill is about making it illegal to build places of worship for non-Muslims. It doesn't make it illegal for foreigners to pray in their rooms or houses."
Abdullah said the association had information that Christian missionaries were trying to infiltrate the country and proselytize in the Maldives.
"I believe the bill is essential because the constitution does not forbid building places of worship," he s
The Hindu face of jihad
By Tariq Bhat
Lured by easy money and gun-power, Kashmiri Hindus join the militant ranks
He commands a group of battle-hardened Lashkar-e-Toiba militants in the upper heights of Kishtawar district in Jammu. The chase to hunt him down has been on since he joined the militants in 2003. But his religious identity separates him from rest of the Lashkar ranks: He is a Hindu whose real name is Subash Kumar alias Wasif.
Wasif is the not the first Hindu to join the militants in Jammu but his story is gripping. He was born in a Brahmin family in Palmar, Kishtawar. Wasif decided to romance the gun when a girl, who belonged to a different faith, spurned his love. After the girl snubbed him, the desperate youth offered to embrace her religion with the hope this would cut some ice. But that did not help either. He then started growing a beard and eating meat. All his efforts failed to impress the girl. Jilted and hopeless, the boy took refuge in militancy.
Today he is on the wanted list. Wasif had attacked the security forces and even persecuted people from his own community. That seems to have won him favour with Lashkar leaders and today he is the outfit’s district commander in Kishtawar.
“He has been active for quite some time now. He operates in Dachin area,” said Hasseb Mughal, superintendent of police, Kishtawar. Interestingly, his father, Jeevan Lal Sharma, is a policeman posted in Jammu. Sharma’s family has severed ties with Wasif for fear of being labelled as anti-national.
The phenomenon of Hindu youth joining the militants has so far been restricted to Jammu’s Rajouri, Poonch and Doda area bordering Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) where militants find it easier to operate, given the close linguistic and cultural affinities. The population on either side of the border speaks Dogri, Pahari, Gujari and Urdu with a mix of Punjabi.
THE WEEK has the list of Hindus who have joined the militants for various reasons but the primary motivation seems to be money and power. “Power and money are the two most important reasons that have attracted these Hindu youth toward militancy,” said an intelligence officer of the police. “If it was the ideology then we would have been doomed.”
That sought to explain, to a large extent, how Sham Lal became Shamas-ud-din, a senior commander of Al Badr militant outfit. The security forces are trailing Shamas-ud-din and his other Hindu colleagues like Krishan Lal and Kripal Singh who are operating in the border district of Rajouri. Sources say that Shamas-ud-din joined the militants for a quick buck. His actions have left his family and his father, Chet Ram, devastated. Ram wants his son to surrender unconditionally.
“I have given my number to the community members and told them to inform me if they run into Sham. I have offered them a reward, too, but nothing has happened. I have been trying for six years now,” said Ram. While the families of Muslim militants have to bear with pressure from security agencies, Shamas-ud-din’s family has been virtually ostracised by the community. “People within our community stopped talking to us saying that our son has become a militant,” said Madal Lal, the militant’s brother.
The police have traced the presence of 17 Hindu militants in outfits like LeT, Al Badr and Hizbul Mujahideen. But it is proving difficult to hunt them down as they melt away when faced with a serious threat. “It is very easy for them to mingle with the Hindus of the area in case of danger. The locals have no idea they are militants,” another officer said.
The security forces fear that these militants pose a far greater threat than foreign and local ultras. They can move around in the state and outside with ease. Senior militant commanders can easily use them to create mayhem without raising any suspicion about their activities. “When they identify themselves as Hindus it becomes very difficult for the security forces to tell them apart,” a senior security force officer said.
Some of these militants have made it to the list of ‘A grade’ militants that are categorised as dreaded and several lakh rupees as reward on their heads. “In my area of responsibility there is one active Hindu militant. We do not know what has prompted him to join the militant ranks,” said Shafaqat Watali, senior superintendent of police, Rajouri.
Militant outfits and hostile intelligence agencies recruit Hindus to fool the security forces and further their operations. “Some are used as couriers for arms and ammunition as they are unlikely to be suspected by security forces,” said Watali.
In August 2005, the Army killed Anar Singh, a Hindu special police official turned militant, in Tengali village in Kishtawar. In the same year, two Hindu militants surrendered before the Army in Jammu. Two more followed two years later. Intelligence sources say some of these militants also operate in the far-flung areas of Reasi. Four militants were killed in different encounters with security forces. Kuldeep Kumar alias Qamrain, a dreaded militant of Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed on August 24 last year at Kulhind in Doda district. He was active for seven years.
Similarly, Uttam Kumar alias Saif-ullah of the HM was killed in an encounter at Thoaran on August 8, 2005. He was active in the Gandoh area of Baderwah for four years. Bipin Kumar of Harkat-ul-Ansar was one of the longest serving Hindu militants who fell to the security forces’ bullets in November last year. He was active since 1996. Bittu Kumar of the Hizbul Mujahideen was also reportedly killed in an encounter but intelligence agencies have no records of the exact location. Sunil Kumar of the Harkat-ul-Ansar after giving up his arms was absorbed in the para-military forces.
Since then the Hindu militants have been on the run or lying low. These militants are in the age group of 16 to 25. Some of the Hindu militants have been used by militant outfits to recruit more Hindus. Chuni Lal, a resident of Kishtawar, is one such case. He was abducted by the Harkat-ul-Ansar and promised a luxurious life if he joined them. But he managed to give them the slip. “There were two Harkat militants, Raju and Ramesh. They said if I pick up guns I will get everything in life. Ramesh was a Nepali,” he said. Subsequently, both died in encounters.
PESHAWAR: Militants bomb school in Bara
Sunday, 22 Nov, 2009
PESHAWAR, Nov 21: Militants blew up a school in a tribal town on Saturday severely damaging the building, officials said.
The terrorists planted explosives near the building in Bara town of Khyber Agency, local administration chief Farooq Khan said. “The explosive device was fitted with a timer,” he said.
It went off in the afternoon when the school was closed, he said, adding that nobody was injured. Bara is close to Peshawar, which has been hit by a series of bomb blasts in recent weeks.—AFP
Hundreds rescued after Indonesia ferry sinks
22 November 2009
More than 200 people have been rescued from the sea after a heavily-loaded ferry sank off the coast of Indonesia.
But at least 23 people died and an unknown number of others are missing after the accident, which officials blamed on bad weather and high waves.
Some reports suggested the ferry, which had a capacity of 273 people, may have been overloaded.
Search efforts have now stopped for the night but officials say they will resume in the morning.
Indonesia's sea transport director-general, Sunaryo, said rescue efforts had been hampered by bad weather.
"The waves are as high as six metres, it's difficult for small ships to reach the location," he told a news conference in Jakarta.
The Dumai Express 10 was travelling from Batam island to Dumai in Riau, Sumatra, when it sank.
Officials said it rolled over before capsizing about 90 minutes into its voyage.
According to its manifest, about 240 people were on board the Dumai Express 10 ferry when it sailed, but it is not clear if this was accurate.
Rescue efforts were aided by the fact that the ferry went down in the busy Malacca Straits between Indonesia and Malaysia.
It is not clear exactly how many people have been picked up.
The chief of police in Riau told the BBC that 218 had been rescued; earlier other officials gave totals of 292 and 232.
The total number of people on board the vessel remains unknown.
One man, who gave his name as Riki, said he was rescued by fishermen.
"It was too fast... and the ship crew did not tell us about the situation at all," he told Indonesia's Antara news agency.
"We only managed to get out after I broke the glass window on the right side. That was the only way because there were many people jostling for the doors."
Another survivor called Kristin described a scene of panic.
"I saw children running here and there on the ferry as they tried to escape but there weren't enough life jackets," she told TVOne.
A navy spokesman said it was not clear whether anyone was still inside the ferry, which was now completely submerged.
Another ferry, the Dumai Express 15, was reported to have run aground in bad weather as it travelled between Batam and Moro islands.
All 278 passengers and crew on board were said to be safe.
Ferry accidents linked to over-crowding and poor vessel maintenance kill hundreds of passengers in Indonesia each year.
The country's large population is spread out over 17,000 islands and relies on ships and ferries to travel around.
In the last three years, at least 800 people have been killed in ferry accidents in Indonesia.
Israel planes launch air strikes on Gaza Strip
22 November 2009
Several Palestinians have been injured after Israeli aircraft carried out airstrikes against targets in the Gaza Strip, officials say.
Israel's military said the attacks targeted two weapons-making factories and a smuggling tunnel.
The strikes were in retaliation for a rocket fired into southern Israel from the Hamas-controlled enclave, it added.
The attacks came a day after Hamas and other Gaza-based militants said they were going to stop firing rockets.
Fathi Hammad, who acts as Hamas interior minister, said the ceasefire aimed to prevent retaliatory attacks by Israel and build stability.
But he said rockets would continue to be fired from the Gaza Strip in the event of any Israeli incursions.
Israel's military said Sunday's air strikes were in response to a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Saturday which caused no damage when it landed near the southern Israeli city of Sderot.
Hamas has observed a ceasefire for months, but other groups have carried out sporadic cross-border attacks.
Israel says rocket-building materials are still being smuggled into Gaza through tunnels dug from the Egyptian border.
Rocket attacks have decreased since Israeli forces launched an offensive against Hamas in the Gaza strip last December and January.
About 1,300 Palestinians and 10 Israeli soldiers were killed in the three weeks of fighting. Three Israeli citizens also died in rocket attacks during the operation.
Israelis killed over 7,000 Palestinians in 20 years
Sunday, 22 Nov, 2009
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, Nov 21: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed almost 8,900 lives in two decades, the vast majority of them Palestinians, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said in a statement.
Israeli forces killed 7,398 Palestinians, including 1,537 minors, both in Israel and the Israeli occupied territories during that period, while Palestinians killed 1,483 Israelis, including 139 minors, B’Tselem said.
Among the Israeli victims, 488 were police officers or military troops, and the remaining 995 were civilians killed in attacks in Israel or in the occupied territories, the statement said.
This year, marked by Israel’s military invasion in the Gaza Strip, was the bloodiest in the past two decades for Palestinians.
A total of 1,033 Palestinians, including 315 minors, were killed so far in 2009, most of them during the Gaza invasion, the report said, adding that a total of 1,387 Palestinians were killed during the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip.
Thirteen Israelis were killed, including four soldiers by friendly fire, in the three-week-long invasion that was launched on December 27, 2008.
For Israel, 2002, at the height of the second Palestinian Intifada, was the deadliest year, with 420 people killed, including 269 civilians of whom 47 were minors, the statement said.
The statement also said 335 Palestinians are currently held without trial under Israeli military orders.—AFP
Israeli military orders.—AFP
Islam teaches, tolerance, peace: Taseer
November 22, 2009
BAHAWALPUR: Islam is a religion of peace and teaches its followers tolerance and good relations with followers of other religions, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer said on Saturday.
Addressing the fourth convocation of the Islamia University in Bahawalpur, he said the people of Punjab had welcomed over two million the internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the country’s northern parts in the “spirit of Muslim brotherhood”, adding the IDPs had returned to their homes after a successful military operation in the region. He said the US, on his advice, had provided funds to the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to promote literacy in the country.
Taseer said efforts were being made to provide quality education to students of southern Punjab, adding that funds had been earmarked for Bahawalpur and other areas of the region, which would be issued soon. He said Pakistan was an enlightened democratic Muslim country where every person had freedom of expression. The governor said the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was protecting democracy through the 1973 constitution, adding the “present era can truly be referred to as democratic”. App
Jamiat calls for modern Muslim schools—but why?
22 November 2009
By Yoginder Sikand
Resolution Number 16 of the 30th session of the Jamiat declares, ‘The Muslims of India are highly backward in the realm of modern education. It is the main cause of their socio-economic backwardness.’ Hence, it stresses, Muslims must to take to modern education, along with religious education. It appeals to Muslims to set up schools and colleges—‘as many as possible’, it advises—as well as professional and technical institutions. For those who imagine that the ulema, particularly the conservative Deobandis, are viscerally opposed to modern education, this should come as a major—and welcome—surprise.
While the Jamiat’s exhortation to Muslims to set up modern educational institutions is indeed heartening, the rationale that it proffers for this purpose might not quite be so, and, indeed, has evoked some harsh criticism in the Urdu press. The English translation of the resolution, hosted on the Jamiat’s website (www.jamiatulama.org), explains that Muslims must set up their own schools and colleges because ‘A section of Muslim students who get admission in the government and semi-government common institutions for modern courses get isolated and sometimes become unaware about their Islamic values.’ The Urdu original, also available on the same website, expresses the rationale somewhat differently. ‘That section of Muslims which takes admission in government and semi-government institutions [to acquire modern education]’, it reads, ‘generally becomes neglectful of Islam because of the anti-Islamic environment therein.’ (musalmano ka jo tabqa sarkarai aur ghayr sarkari idaron mai in ulum wa funun ki tahsil ke liye dakhila leta hain un idaron ke deen dushman mahaul mai bilumum deen se ghafil aur bezar ho jata hai’).
There are significant differences of meaning and nuance between the English translation of the resolution and the Urdu original. This might be an inadvertent error, due to poor translation perhaps. On the other hand, the difference might well be deliberate, with the Jamiat seeking to soften and suitably shape its arguments for an English-knowing audience, while passing on a different message to its largely Urdu-knowing followers. The English translation speaks only of a ‘section’ of Muslim students who study in government and semi-government schools, while the Urdu original appears to speak of all Muslims who study in such institutions. In contrast to the former, the latter terms the environment in such institutions being unambiguously deen dushman—which can be translated as. ‘anti-Islamic’ or even as ‘fiercely opposed to Islam’.
Full report at: http://twocircles.net/2009nov21/jamiat_calls_modern_muslim_schools_why.html
'Muslim suffragettes' fight for mosque vote
22 November 2009
By David Leask
MUSLIM women have launched an audacious campaign to win the vote at Scotland's biggest mosque.
A group of students, many aged under 20, say they are being effectively barred from taking part in elections because applications from women to become voting members are being turned down.
Dubbed "Muslim suffragettes", the group believes Glasgow Central Mosque, Scotland's biggest place of worship, is in breach of its own constitution, charity rules and discrimination laws.
The mosque, which can cater for up to 2,500 worshippers, has no female members but allows women to pray and wash in segregated areas.
Nazia Iqbal, 19, a phar- macy student at Strathclyde University, this weekend wrote to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) asking whether the mosque had undermined its charitable status by refusing to accept her application to become a member.
Iqbal said: "I was shocked when I was knocked back. I just found it downright wrong that a committee decided that women can't be members."
The Campaign for Women's Votes in Our Mosques claims there is nothing in the Koran saying women cannot play a full role in places of worship. Some mosques in England and the US allow women to become voting members and stand for election to their ruling committees.
An OSCR spokesman yesterday said any complaint from Iqbal would be considered, while mosque president Bashir Maan pledged to look into why applications from women had been turned down.
Yemen weighs rehabilitation issue
November 22, 2009
Yemen is struggling with the possible release of the largest group of detainees at the US detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The release of more than 90 Yemenis still being held at the facility may be delayed due to US fears that Yemen does not have the capacity to ensure the men will not rejoin al-Qaeda.
The US has cautioned that if Yemen does not build a rehabilitation centre where former detainees can be coached to abandon all forms of radical ideology, it will transfer the men to Saudi Arabia, something Yemen strongly disagrees with.
The biggest worry for the US, Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra says, is that Yemen cannot control detainees once they are released.
Washington believes Yemen has become al-Qaeda's stronghold in the region, and even suspects the government in Sanaa is cutting deals with the group.
Barack Obama, the US president, pledged in his first executive order last January to close the infamous prison within a year's time.
However, the deadline is not likely to be met as his administration is still struggling to try the alleged terrorists and to transfer them out in advance of the promised deadline.
Hamoud al-Hitar, Yemen's minister of religious affairs, told Al Jazeera that 95 per cent of those arrested by Yemeni authorities had been persuaded to renounce their radical ideas.
But Salih Mohammad Ali, who was released three years ago after a five-year detention in Guantanamo without charge, says he is still finding it difficult to assimilate back into society.
"The government didn't even bother to ask about my well-being," he said.
"I need heart surgery but despite promises nothing happened. I feel I am a stranger in this country. The way some people look at me with suspicion still hurts me."
Full report at: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/11/200911226329834508.html
Islam marks Eid’l Adha Nov. 27 amid Mecca hajj
By Edd K. Usman
November 22, 2009
The estimated 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, including some three million pilgrims with 3,500 Filipinos in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, will celebrate Islam's Eid'l Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) on Nov. 27 amid the annual pilgrimage on Nov. 25-27.
Eid'l Adha, one of Islam's only two major festivals, commemorates the Prophet Abraham's (peace be upon him) willingness to sacrifice his first born, which in Islam is, Ismael.
President Arroyo had earlier declared Nov. 27 and 28 as national holidays to celebrate the Feast of Sacrifice. The President later withdrew her declaration, citing pressures from the business community in the country.
Mrs. Arroyo said Eid'l Adha will only be a regional holiday in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
With Eid'l Adha coming on Nov. 27, this means the climax of hajj called "Uqof" or Standing in Arafat, will be on Nov. 26, when pilgrims climb Mount Arafat where Islam's messenger, Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Allaihi Wassalam, delivered his Farewell Sermon 14 centuries ago.
The hajj called pilgrimage is the fifth pillar of Islam and every able-bodied Muslim who can financially afford the journey is obliged to perform it once in their lifetime.
Office on Muslim Affairs (OMA) Executive Director Datu Ali B.Sangki said Sunday all Filipino pilgrims whose registrations the OMA processed have left the country by Nov. 20.
Sangki said the Muslim Filipino pilgrims numbering about 3,500 will join their fellow religious travelers estimated by Saudi Arabia's hajj authorities to reach some three million.
Full report at: http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/230738/islam-marks-eid-l-adha-nov-27-amid-mecca-hajj
Groups seek investigation of FBI killing of Imam
By Diane Bukowski
NOV 22, 2009
SOUTHFIELD—A group of organizations is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division to investigate the killing of Imam Luqman Abdullah by an FBI joint terrorism task force which included Detroit and Dearborn police.
Imam Abdullah, leader of the Musjid Al-Haqq mosque on Detroit’s near west side, was shot 18 times during a raid on a warehouse and trucking facility in Dearborn.
“Now that some of those who were arrested at the scene have been released on bond, we have been hearing third party versions of what happened there,” said Imam Dawud Walid, director of the Michigan Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Walid is also assistant Imam at the Masjid Wali Muhammad mosque on Linwood, the oldest African-American Muslim mosque in Detroit, which celebrated the 50th anniversary at that location in October.
“Was Imam Abdullah forced to pull a gun on the dogs that were attacking him?” asked Walid. “Was he lying down when he was shot? Did the FBI agents say “sic em” to the dogs?”
An FBI canine was shot and killed during the raid, and airlifted to a hospital. The FBI later held a memorial service for the dog.
CAIR attorney Lena Masri said, “We are concerned about the serious nature of a religious cleric being killed by 18 gunshots. This is outside the auspices of the FBI. We do not trust their methods and actions.”
Leaders of CAIR, the Michigan ACLU, the Congress of Arab-American Organizations, the Detroit Coalition against Police Brutality, Inc., the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice (MECAWI), and the National Lawyers Guild sent a letter to DOJ civil rights division head Chief Mark Kappelhoff Nov. 16.
Full report at: http://www.michigancitizen.com/default.asp?sourceid=&smenu=1&twindow=&mad
Al-Shabab stoning men, women, children in Somalia
November 21, 2009
Al-Shabab continues to stone men, women and children to death in Somalia. Recently a 13 year old Somali girl was stoned to death after being gang raped. The girl was buried in a hole up to her neck and then stoned to death by 50 men, while over a 1,000 spectators looked on.
Al-Shabab is a radical Islamist faction controlling much of the region in southern Somalia. Their brutal interpretation of Sharia law is responsible for multiple stonings in the last few months. Just last Tuesday Halima Ibrahim Abdurrahman, age 29, was stoned to death after having been convicted of adultery in a village called El-Bon.
Earlier this month Al-Shabab stoned a man to death for adultery, but spared his pregnant girlfriend until she gives birth. After she gives birth, she too will be stoned to death.
Somalia's President, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, accuses Al-Shabab of spoiling the image of Islam by killing people and harassing women:
"Their actions have nothing to do with Islam. They are forcing women to wear very heavy clothes, saying they want them to properly cover their bodies but we know they have economic interests behind - they sell these kinds of clothes and want to force people to buy them."
What a racket.
Presenter Konnie Huq joins Indian campaign to end polio
22 November 2009
By Konnie Huq
Uttar Pradesh in northern India has a population of more than 190 million and the world's highest concentration of polio infection.
This is one of the final frontiers where the war against polio is being fought.
This crippling disease is now endemic in just four countries - India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
In 1985 Rotary International spearheaded the campaign to eradicate polio and pledged to make sure all the world's children would be immunised against the disease.
This has meant cases have been cut by a staggering 99% since then.
But there is still 1% to go and so a huge army of volunteers have been mobilised to help and take part in the final push to rid the world of Polio.
I joined 86 British Rotarians on a trip to India to see Rotary's Thanks for Life/End Polio Now campaign in action as more than 65 million children in two northern Indian states under the age of five were to be targeted for immunisation against polio in just two days.
The campaign was to be focused in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar - the only two states left in India where the disease is still endemic.
Two million children in the Indian capital, Delhi, were also to be immunised, a process which has to be repeated every few weeks to ensure infallibility.
I started my two day polio immunisation drive in the capital of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, at a particularly significant place - the Islamic Centre.
Until recently, 70% of the cases of polio were found to be affecting this minority community in UP because of unsubstantiated fears that the drops were part of a Western plot to make Muslims infertile in an attempt to control the Islamic population.
One rumour even says that this conspiracy theory was started because the medical supplies boxes had been covered in the word STERILE!
Rotarian Ajay Saxena, member of Rotary International's India National Polio Plus Committee, was instrumental in getting Muslim leaders together and as a result, the immunisation campaign has been backed by the clerics and the rates of polio among the Muslim community have dropped to 30%.
Iran to hold war games to protect nuclear plants
Sunday, November 22, 2009
TEHRAN: Iran will begin large-scale air defence war games on Sunday to help protect its nuclear facilities against any attack, a senior commander said.
Brigadier General Ahmad Mighani also suggested Iran could itself produce an advanced missile defence system which Russia has so far failed to deliver to the Islamic Republic and which Washington and Israel do not want Tehran to have. Iran believes Russia’s delay in supplying high-grade S-300 missiles was due to pressure by Israel, not technical problems as cited by Moscow, Mighani said.
“We are hopeful the Russians will ignore the pressure of the Zionist lobby,” Fars News Agency quoted him as saying on Saturday. Iran refers to Israel as the “Zionist regime.”
The military manoeuvres will last for five days and involve both the elite Revolutionary Guards and the regular armed forces against a hypothetical enemy, Iranian media reported.
The United States and Israel have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the row over Iranian nuclear work that the West suspects is aimed at making bombs.
Iran, which says its nuclear programme is solely to generate electricity, has threatened to hit back at Israel and US bases in the Gulf if it is attacked.
“This week’s air defence manoeuvres will be held with the intention of protecting the country’s nuclear facilities,” Mighani said, Fars reported. State television said the defence drills would “ensure better protection” for these facilities. The war games were announced a day after senior officials from six world powers said they were disappointed Iran had not accepted proposals intended to delay its potential to make nuclear weapons, and urged Tehran to reconsider.
The United States, Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France met after US President Barack Obama warned there could be a package of sanctions against Iran within weeks.
Full report at: http://thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=209879
GB Assembly first session after Eid: Kaira
Sunday, November 22, 2009
RAWALPINDI: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira Saturday said the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly is likely to hold its first session after Eidul Azha.
Kaira, who is also Acting Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan, was speaking at a reception held in honour of the elected members of the GB Legislative Assembly.
The reception was hosted by Managing Director Bait-ul-Mal Zamurd Khan here at his residence. It was also attended by Mehdi Shah, the nominated Chief Minister of the GBLA.
The minister said although the election process has been completed, but the election on the reserved seats for women and technocrats was yet to take place. The government formation would start once this process is completed, he added.
He recalled that Benazir Bhutto visited the residence of Zamurd Khan on November 30, 2007. He said Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has always strived to serve the people across the country and the people of GBLA have a lot of expectations from the PPP.
Kaira said the results of GB elections have once again proved that the PPP is the political force of the country and it enjoys support of the masses.
He said that whenever free and fair elections would be held in any part of the country, the PPP would return victorious.
The minister said the PPP has given lot of sacrifices for democracy and it would not give anyone any excuse to derail the system. He further said that victory in the Gilgit-Baltistan elections was an achievement, but coming up to the expectations of the people of the area was the bigger challenge ahead.
Kaira congratulated all the elected members and urged them to resolve the problems being faced by the people of Gilgit-Baltistan on priority.
Italy arrests 2 Pakistanis suspected of funding Mumbai attack
Sunday, 22 Nov, 2009
ROME, Nov 21: Two Pakistanis were arrested on Saturday on suspicion of sending money to people implicated in Mumbai attacks last year, the Italian media quoted anti-terrorism police as saying.
The two Pakistani nationals were accused also of “illegal financial activity”. They managed an agency for transferring money overseas in the northern Italian town of Brescia.
According to the anti-terrorism police, Mohammad Yaqub Janjua and his son Aamer Yaqub Janjua, owners of the Madina Trading agency, allegedly sent the suspected money on November 25 last year, the day before the deadly attacks in India’s economic capital.
Between 2006 and 2008, at least 300 transactions for a total of $594,400 were made in the name of another Pakistani who was not involved in the affair.
The two suspects also allegedly used the account to pay for an Internet telephone service used by people in contact with the attackers in Mumbai.
“This operation confirms that terrorism is a global threat,” Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said, when questioned by reporters in Milan.
He applauded the success of Italy’s security forces in confronting that threat. The investigation began in December last year based on information from the FBI and Indian authorities.
Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-
80 Taliban lay down arms, join police
Sunday, 22 Nov, 2009
HERAT: Eighty Taliban militants laid down their weapons and joined Afghanistan’s police force, accepting a government amnesty aimed at ending the insurgency, officials said on Saturday.
In a ceremony at police headquarters in the eastern city of Herat, the 80 men handed over their weapons and pledged to end their fight against the government, said Herat police chief Asmatullah Alizai.
“Negotiations have been going on with their commander, as we have been trying to absorb him into the government,” he said, referring to Mula Solaiman, a former border guard commander who changed sides a number of times.
The decision by the 80 insurgents comes after President Hamid Karzai again offered an olive branch to Taliban fighters to reintegrate into Afghan society. In a speech marking his inauguration on Thursday for a second five-year term, he pledged to call a “loya jirga”, or inclusive national conference of political, tribal and religious leaders, to work towards peace.
The insurgency has intensified since the Taliban were pushed from power in a US-led invasion in late 2001, with more than 100,000 foreign troops fighting the militants under US and Nato command.
So far 8,340 Taliban have accepted the amnesty since Mr Karzai established the Independent Reconciliation Council in 2005, a council official said.—AFP
Partisan divide widens as Obama considers Afghanistan policy
By Dan Balz
Sunday, November 22, 2009
As President Obama nears a decision on Afghanistan, he faces a partisan divide in public opinion that is pulling him in opposite directions. His recent statements about the decision suggest that he is trying to accommodate the views with a war strategy that can be successful and contained.
This is the dilemma Obama faced when, as a candidate, he cast his lot with Afghanistan while opposing the war in Iraq. The issue that was avoidable then, but is no longer, is how to put down al-Qaeda and the Taliban without being drawn into an endless conflict in a nation that has swallowed up outside forces through the centuries.
The lengthy policy debate inside the administration has spun out of control as it nears its finish, with damaging leaks and counterleaks. White House officials insist that getting the policy right is the goal of this long process, and that the president is far more worried about making the wrong decision than about being criticized for seeming to be unable to make up his mind.
The internal debate began with the bleak assessment by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, who said conditions were deteriorating and included a request for an additional 40,000 troops to try to turn around the war. It has morphed into a much broader debate, a virtual Rubik's Cube in which Obama is weighing not just the number of troops, but when and where they would be deployed as well as how long they should be committed there and at what cost.
In Asia last week, Obama was asked about Afghanistan in a round of television interviews. His answers suggested that he is as focused on the question of how long the United States should be there as he is on the number of additional troops he may send.
Full report at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/21/AR2009112101240.html?hpid=topnews
Afghan govt will collapse if Nato troops leave: UK
Sunday, 22 Nov, 2009
LONDON, Nov 21: Afghanistan’s government would collapse within weeks if Nato troops left the country right away, Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in an interview published on Saturday.
Mr Miliband, who was in Afghanistan for the inaugu
ration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, said insurgent forces would quickly overrun Afghan troops if the international community pulled out.
“If international forces leave, you can choose a time — five minutes, 24 hours or seven days — but the insurgents would overrun those forces that are prepared to put up resistance and we would be back at square one,” he told The Guardian newspaper.
President Karzai has said he expects Afghan forces to be able to control the country within five years. Mr Miliband said the international community would stay as long as needed.
“Artificial timetables just give succour to your enemy,” Mr Miliband added.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown told lawmakers last week that Britain remained committed to the Afghanistan mission — despite some public calls for troops to be withdrawn amid a mounting death toll. Some 235 British troops have died in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001.
Taliban insurgents have grown bolder in Afghanistan recently, challenging the weak central government led by President Karzai.
Mr Karzai’s own position has been undercut by an election victory tainted by credible charges of widespread fraud. Mr Brown and other Western leaders have warned President Karzai that he could not count on continued support until he moved to stamp out corruption.—AP
Israeli planes strike targets in Gaza, seven Palestinians injured
22 November 2009,
GAZA: Israeli planes carried out air strikes against targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, injuring seven Palestinians, Palestinian medical workers said.
An army spokesman said the strikes, which occurred after a rocket fired from the Hamas-run enclave landed in Israel, had targeted two factories in the central and northern Gaza used to make weapons and a smuggling tunnel under the border with Egypt.
Palestinian witnesses and medical workers said the targets included a metal foundry in the central Gaza Strip, a caravan in the north and smuggling tunnels in the south. The attacks occurred one day after Hamas said it had reached an agreement with smaller armed groups in the territory to halt sporadic rocket fire towards Israel, which often responds with air strikes.
The army spokesman said the air strikes were in response to a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip on Saturday. It landed near the city of Sderot, causing no injuries or damage, he said. Calm along the Israel-Gaza frontier has been largely maintained since Israel ended a 22-day war against Hamas in the territory in January with the aim of halting daily rocket fire.
The Israeli military usually responds to sporadic rocket attacks by launching air strikes against tunnels under the Egyptian border used to smuggle goods and weapons into Gaza.
Egypt has been trying to mediate a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas that would include the release of a captured Israeli soldier held in Gaza since 2006 in return for hundreds of Palestinians jailed in Israel.
Indonesia`s hajj pilgrims preparing to perform peak of hajj
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - A total of 3,570 people forming the last batch of would-be Hajj pilgrims from Indonesia departed from four airports across the country for King Abdul Aziz airport in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday (Nov 21).
One group of 358 would-be pilgrims left from Adi Sumarmo airport in Solo, Central Java, six groups totaling 2,161 would-be prilgrims from Jakarta, Banten and West Java departed from Jakarta`s Soekarno-Hatta airport, one group of 360 would-be pilgrims departed from Hasanuddin airport in Makassar, South Sulawesi, and another group of 691 would-be pilgrims left from Juanda airport in Surabaya, East Java province.
The total number of Indonesians who have gone on the Hajj pilgrimage this year is 192,000. They were flown from 11 embarkation airports in the country in 475 groups since October 23, according to data obtained from the Hajj pilgrimage affairs office on Saturday (Nov 21).
The first part of two major groups of flights, comprising 251 batches (about 101,500 would-be pilgrims), who landed in
Jidda`s King Abdul Azis Airport and at the Malik Muhammad Abdul Aziz airport in Madinah, had gathered in Medina to perform the "Arbain" (40 times of doing prayers in the Nabawi mosque) while waiting for the hajj ritual in Mecca, Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina.
The second part of the major groups with 223 batches of flights comprising 90,500 would-be pilgrims who departed since November 7 to Jeddah King Abdul Azis Airport, directly proceeded to Mecca by land, waiting for the peak of the hajj ritual.
The country`s would be hajj pilgrims were reportedly flown by Garuda Indonesian aircrafts and the Saudi Air.
The prospective hajj pilgrims incorporated in the second part of the major groups will perform the "Arbain" in Medina after completion of the peak of the Hajj ritual "Wukuf" in the Arafat as one of the pillars of the pilgrimage.
In addition to the regular programs of the hajj pilgrimage departure through the so-called "Hajj Pilgrimage Implementation Costs (BPIH or formerly named ONH), some other 17,000 would-be hajj pilgrims also departed to the Holy Land under the coordination of the private travel agencies.
Full report at: http://www.antara.co.id/en/news/1258835835/news-focus-indonesias-hajj-pilgrims-preparing-to-perform-peak-of-hajj
Indonesia's Dian Pelangi Has Passion for Muslim Fashion
November 20, 2009
One newcomer who made a big splash at this year’s Jakarta Fashion Week was young designer Dian Pelangi. At age 18, her cutting-edge Muslim fashions for young women are beginning to attract local and international attention.
On Monday, the third day of Fashion Week, she presented her new collection in a show by the Association of Indonesian Fashion Designers and Entrepreneurs (Appmi), which showcased designs by nine of its newest members.
When Dian was introduced, the audience, consisting mostly of women in their late teens and early 20s, broke into raucous applause.
Six olive-skinned models hit the runway, sashaying in vibrantly colored tunics and long overcoats over loose-fitting harem pants. Their shiny gold platform shoes and sandals clicked confidently on the catwalk. They appeared both strong and feminine, a far cry from the traditional soft, gentle look that Muslim fashion has favored in the past. Their stylish, yet modest, silhouettes were a clear hit with the cheering audience.
“Muslim clothes for women usually consist of long tunics, abayas [loose-fitting, floor-length robes] and long skirts,” the 18-year-old fashion designer said. “I feel challenged to make Muslim fashions for women that turn heads. I want something different.”
The eldest daughter of a devout Muslim family in Palembang, South Sumatra, Dian began wearing a hijab at the age of 10. “My mother had been asking me to wear a hijab for a couple of years,” Dian said. “At that time, I refused because I was too young. Then, in the fifth grade, I came to realize that a hijab actually makes a woman look more beautiful. So I started wearing it from then on.”
Her father, Djamaludin, and mother, Hernani, started a garment business from their home in 1991. “We received several orders from our friends in Java for Palembang’s traditional jumputan [tie-dye]. Alas, after several days, they complained that the colors ran off,” Hernani said.
Full report at: http://thejakartaglobe.com/fashion/indonesias-dian-pelangi-has-
Muslims burn Christian shops in Egypt's south
Sat Nov 21, 2009
CAIRO, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Hundreds of Muslim villagers in Egypt's south threw stones at a police station on Saturday where a Christian was being held on suspicion of assault, and they later burned and looted Christian-owned shops, witnesses said.
Police fired tear gas and pursued the villagers through the streets of Farshout in Qena province and arrested 30 Muslims after the violence, security sources said.
The Christian man was being held on suspicion of indecently assaulting a Muslim female. The villagers claim she was aged 12, while security sources put her age between 18 and 30.
While relations between Muslims and its Christian minority in Egypt are generally harmonious, disputes over land, religious buildings, inter-marriage and conversion sometimes lead to violence.
An Egyptian court last Sunday sentenced two Christian men to death for killing the Muslim husband of a female relative who converted to Islam against her family's wishes.
And in July police arrested 37 Muslims and Christians over the killing of a Muslim man and violence that followed. (Reporting by Mohamed Abdellah; Writing by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Jon Boyle)
Egyptian court orders release of Muslim Brotherhood figures
Nov 22, 2009
Cairo - The Cairo Criminal Court ordered the release Sunday of several people who were being held on allegations that they were members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Gamal Heshmat, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's leadership, the Shura Council, was to be set free, the court said, along with members of the group's administrative office, Al Masry Al Youm newspaper said on its Website.
Security forces also released Ashraf Abdel Ghaffar, a member of local medical syndicate, along with businessmen Khalid el-Beltagi and Ahmed Ali Abbas. They had been arrested by the Egyptian authorities for alleged involvement in the Muslim Brotherhood's international wing.
Egypt's largest opposition group, the brotherhood achieved a historic victory in the 2005 legislative elections, winning around 20 per cent of the seats in the People's Assembly, with their candidates running as independents.
The group has been banned in Egypt since 1954, and its members are routinely detained.
KUALA LUMPUR: Panel to help Muslim women
November 22, 2009
KUALA LUMPUR: The voice of Muslim women will be heard louder with the setting up of an action committee to help them, says chairman of Council of Muslim Women Consultant Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Nik Safiah Nik Karim.
The council, she said, had set up the action committee to help Muslim women, especially those who were married, to deal with laws and manage current issues relating to them.
The council, she said, had also agreed to establish a fund called Islam Family fund or Takrim to help couples to marry.
“The fund can provide security to women who are divorced or abandoned,” she said on Friday.
The council also called for help from the corporate sector to contribute to the fund and invited other NGOs to join hands in helping Muslim women.
Those interested to contribute to the fund can contact the council at 03-2274 6077.
Top Influential Euro-Muslim Women: Nominate Your Choice for 2010 List
Nov. 22, 2009
By Amara Bamba
With the increasingly growing and widespread negative impression about Muslims worldwide, it becomes necessary to shed light on positive Muslim presence in Europe, particularly with regard to Muslim women. European Muslim women's positive efforts and achievements frequently go uncelebrated because Muslim women are often unrecognized and negatively portrayed as victims of violent cultural practices, restrictive dress codes, and poor education.
The network Connecting European Dynamic Achievers & Role Models, widely known as CEDAR, has decided to bring some of the most influential Muslim women in Europe under the spotlight. Aiming at a more enriched image, CEDAR initiated the campaign European Muslim Women of Influence List, which the public can contribute to. The list celebrates the great efforts and achievements of Muslim women across Europe.
CEDAR is the first Muslim network of professionals in Europe. It was launched at a November 2008 workshop organized by the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) and the Salzburg Global Seminar. The network mainly depends on the growing generations of European Muslim and has branches in 10 European countries.
CEDAR presents role models and offers mentoring services, on- and offline information, and job opportunities. Sofia Hamaz, a program associate at The Institute for Strategic Dialogue responsible for CEDAR, explains,
CEDAR has an agenda including different ambitious and refreshing ideas for European Muslims as citizens who have many things to share despite the differences of ideological tendencies and the languages they speak in their countries.
Full report at: http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1258880394175&pagename=Zone-English-Euro_Muslims%2FEMELayout
Lubna Hussein slips out of Sudan to fight against trouser ban
November 22, 2009
A journalist who became a global celebrity when she was prosecuted for wearing trousers has defied a ban on leaving Sudan to rally support in Europe for the emancipation of Muslim women.
Visiting France last week, Lubna Hussein said she had received death threats since beginning a campaign to stop the flogging and imprisonment of women who wear trousers.
She risked punishment for leaving Sudan illegally, but this would not stop her from exposing the “absurdity” of laws that humiliated women.
“Where does it state in the Koran that women can’t wear trousers?” said Hussein, a former United Nations official who has become a symbol for women’s rights across Africa and the Arab world.
Hussein, a widow in her late thirties, has written a book about her revolt and is expected to receive a hero’s welcome in London this week from opponents of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who seized power in Sudan two decades ago.
She was among 13 women arrested at a Khartoum cafe in July and charged with violating a “decency law” by wearing trousers. The others admitted guilt and were sentenced to 10 lashes of the whip. Hussein chose to contest the charges in court, risking 40 lashes.
The case generated such embarrassing publicity for the government that it offered to drop proceedings if Hussein would agree not to wear trousers. She refused.
She sent out hundreds of emails inviting people to witness her flogging, a punishment carried out in public with plastic whips that can leave permanent scars.
Dozens of supporters gathered outside the court on the day of her trial. Instead of a whipping, however, the court ordered Hussein to pay a fine. When she refused, she was briefly imprisoned. A government-backed press association paid the fine on her behalf to avoid further embarrassment for the authorities.
After her release, Hussein carried on campaigning for a change in the law to stop the prosecution of women for what they wear. She also carried on wearing trousers.
“Thousands of women have been whipped,” she said. “They suffer in silence. They go away with heads lowered in shame.”
Full report at: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article6927088.ece
Fort Hood soldier says Army, Islam share common values
Sunday, November 22, 2009
By Gretel C. Kovach
KILLEEN, Texas – Sgt. Fahad Kamal awoke before dawn the morning after the attack. In his Army uniform, he stood before his prayer mat, the one his mother bought him in Houston. He smoothed the top right corner folded over against the evil eye, touched his forehead to the velvet rug the color of sand, and held his palms toward heaven.
Kamal, 26, a combat medic who served in Afghanistan before moving to Fort Hood, had a lot to pray about that day. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, another soldier – and another Muslim and medical professional – was accused of shooting 13 people dead and injuring 29 more.
A U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, Kamal feared those bullets could ricochet beyond the cordoned-off soldier processing center, wounding even more. So he prayed for the victims and for the Army, for his family in Sugar Land and other Muslims. He prayed that their faith would not be judged because of one crazed extremist.
In that small bright room in an apartment building surrounded by darkness, Kamal sought guidance. "In the name of God, the most merciful, the most kind ... keep me on the straight path," he said in Arabic.
The alleged shooter had become isolated from his fellow soldiers and some Muslims in his community. But Kamal feels that his religion, with its emphasis on personal responsibility and compassion, has drawn him closer to other people. "Being a good Muslim means being good to everyone," Kamal said. It's a lot like being a good soldier, he said, with the Army's core values of respect, duty and selfless service.
Arab-Americans and those of the Muslim faith are in high demand by the armed forces for their cultural knowledge and language skills, which can be of life-or-death importance on the battlefield. But they, too, have died for their country. At Arlington National Cemetery, amid a sea of crosses, there are crescents carved on tombstones. There are Muslim names on Iraq war memorials at Fort Hood.
"We're serving and sacrificing alongside our fellow service members," said Jamal Baadani, a Marine Corps veteran who founded the Association for Patriotic Arab Americans in Military after the 9/11 attacks.
Full report at:
Full report at: www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/texassouthwest/
Sudanese woman's fight goes global
November 23, 2009
A JOURNALIST who became a global celebrity when she was prosecuted for wearing trousers has defied a ban on leaving Sudan to rally support in Europe for the emancipation of Muslim women.
Visiting France last week, Lubna Hussein said she had received death threats since beginning a campaign to stop the flogging and imprisonment of women who wear trousers.
She risked punishment for leaving Sudan illegally, but this would not stop her from exposing the "absurdity" of laws that humiliated women.
"Where does it state in the Koran that women can't wear trousers?" said Hussein, a former UN official who has become a symbol for women's rights across Africa and the Arab world.
Hussein, a widow in her late 30s, has written a book about her revolt and is expected to receive a hero's welcome in London this week from opponents of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who seized power in Sudan two decades ago.
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She was among 13 women arrested at a Khartoum cafe in July and charged with violating a decency law by wearing trousers. The others admitted guilt and were sentenced to 10 lashes of the whip. Hussein chose to contest the charges in court, risking 40 lashes. The case caused so much embarrassment for the government that it offered to drop the trial if Hussein would agree not to wear trousers -- she refused.
She sent out hundreds of emails inviting people to witness her flogging, a punishment carried out in public with whips that can leave permanent scars.
Dozens of supporters gathered outside the court on the day of her trial. Instead of a whipping, however, the court ordered Hussein to pay a fine. When she refused, she was briefly imprisoned. A government-backed press association paid the fine on her behalf to avoid further embarrassment.
Full report at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/sudanese-womans-fight-goes-global/story-e6frg6so-1225801800301
Siege of Mecca, 30 years on
21 Nov 2009
THIRTY years ago, as tens of thousands of hajj pilgrims completed dawn prayers inside Mecca, gunshots pierced the sanctity of the Grand Mosque.
To mark a new century on the Islamic calendar, a group of millennialist zealots, who claimed to have with them the new redeemer — the mahdi — seized Islam’s holiest site.
The November 20, 1979, takeover of the Grand Mosque by Juhayman al-Oteibi and his 400-plus fundamentalists, and the subsequent unholy, bloody military assault to dislodge them, stunned Muslims worldwide and rocked the Saudi monarchy to its foundation.
While Oteibi and 67 fellow militants were ultimately caught and beheaded, and the mahdi was shot dead in the battle, the incident continues to reverberate through Saudi society and the world, say historians.
“It is painfully clear: the countdown to September 11, to the terrorist bombings in London and Madrid, and to the grisly Islamic violence ravaging Afghanistan and Iraq all began on that warm November morning,” writes Yaroslav Trofimov, author of the most complete account of the uprising, The Siege of Mecca.
The hajj had just finished when Oteibi and his band smuggled hundreds of assault weapons into the mosque at the centre of Mecca.
Angered at what they saw was Saudi society’s plunge into immorality, with Muslims embracing “Western” entertainment like cinema, television and sports, and Muslim women taking jobs, Oteibi’s act was to herald a new age of purism.
His army took over every corner of the massive walled mosque, locking shut the normally welcoming gates, sending machine-gun armed snipers into the seven minarets, and taking hostage hundreds of the faithful.
Quickly shooting dead two guards who resisted, they denounced Saudi Arabia’s leading clerics as corrupt and the ruling Al-Saud family as illegitimate.
Snipers picked off arriving policemen and soldiers and it would take two weeks and a massive Saudi army effort, that began with shelling the mosque and ended up with hand-to-hand fighting, to regain control.
The soldiers were backed by a small team of French commandos, led by the now infamous Lieutenant Paul Barril, and endorsed by a fatwa extracted from the highest clerics that it was permissible to shoot the rebels inside the sanctum.
The official death toll was 127 soldiers, 117 rebels, and an unknown number of civilians. Trofimov cites independent observers in reporting a toll of “well over 1 000 lives”.
Full report at: http://www.witness.co.za/index.php?showcontent&global[_id]=31400
'75% in Pak say they're Muslims first'
ANI 22 November 2009
LAHORE: A British Council’s report has shockingly revealed that an overwhelming three quarters of people in Pakistan consider themselves as Muslims first and Pakistani’s second.
“Only 10% have faith in national or local government, the courts or police, while three quarters see themselves as Muslims first, Pakistani second, compared to just 14% who see themselves as primarily a citizen of Pakistan,” the Daily Times quoted the report, as saying.
Pakistan has more productive youths than dependents, yet is has done nothing to tap this favourable ratio, the report said. According to the British Council’s Next Generation Report on Pakistan, the country is going through a favourable ratio of productive young to old, but it has done nothing to address this demographic dividend over the past two decades.
The report highlighted that this “window of opportunity”, which opened in 1990, would close in 2045, which gives the country “little over 35 years to change course and reap the economic and social potential attached to such an opportunity”.
The report also pointed out that only 15% of the country’s youth believe that the country is headed in the right direction. It said that over 92% youth considered education an important issue which must be addressed soon.
It, however, noted that there is a widespread discontent with regard to democracy among the youth of the country. Only one third of country’s youth considered democracy best for the country, while another third preferred sharia.
“Pakistan is at a crossroads. It can harness the energy of that generation and collect a demographic dividend. But if they fail to get jobs and are poorly educated, it faces a demographic disaster,” said David Steven, an academic, who helped write the report.
Sweden Rightists Fuel Muslim Fears
By Susan Yasin, IOL Staff
“It is a part of a trend where it has become a gain to use the criticism of Muslims as a way to gain political power,” Waara told IOL.
CAIRO – Copying the anti-Muslim rhetoric from European far-right parties, Sweden’s far-rightists are launching a fierce campaign against the Muslim minority in the Scandinavian country to make political gains.
“It is a part of a trend where it has become a gain to use the criticism of Muslims as a way to gain political power,” Anna Waara, president of Swedish Muslims for Peace and Justice, told IslamOnline.net in an e-mail interview.
Jimmie Akesson, leader of the far-right Sweden Democrats party, published an opinion piece last month describing Muslims as a ‘major threat’.
“The comments that the Swedish Democrats made are worrying,” Waara said.
“More worrying is if the other established parties will take over the rhetoric of SD and use it of their own and in that way normalize it.”
Founded in 1988, SD describes itself as a nationalist movement.
Polling data shows that the far-right party has 6 percent support, their best poll result to date, which could help them get into parliament.
The party is notorious for anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant campaigns, with its manifesto describing Muslims as “seriously jeopardized the Swedish nation.”
In 2006, the party published the Danish cartoons lampooning Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) on its youth league website.
It also campaigned against any ban of the blasphemous cartoons under the claim of freedom of speech.
Full report at: http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1258711855457&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout
Robert Fulford: Canada's angriest 'moderate'
Posted: November 21, 2009
Islamist violence, a dangerous many-headed beast, today roams the world, threatening both Islam and everyone else. This is a terrible fact for most people; but for honest and peaceful Muslims it’s also a matter of shame, as Salim Mansur demonstrates in his recently collected collection of columns and articles, Islam’s Predicament: Perspectives of a Dissident Muslim.
Mansur has been called a moderate Muslim, but “moderate” doesn’t describe him. He’s angry at violent, evil men who have done their best to ruin the reputation of his religion. He’s equally furious at their many apologists in the West who explain away Islamist atrocities in the name of social justice. He has no tolerance for leaders of Muslim-majority states (Egypt, Qatar, whatever) who demonstrate that politics pollutes faith.
He carries a personal rage against the many Muslims who devote themselves to killing other Muslims: “More Muslims have been killed by Muslims, more Muslims continue to be victimized by Muslims, and more Muslims are in danger of dying at the hands of Muslims than [at the hands of] non-Muslims.” In 1971, during the creation of Bangladesh, he was both a victim and a witness when the military government of Pakistan made war on its own population, leaving half a million dead.
He’s equally impassioned when he speaks of his love for Canada, which received him as a penniless immigrant 36 years ago and gave him the opportunity to become a professor.
Mansur quotes the most famous poem of W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming, written at the end of the First World War, to describe Islamist violence: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold … anarchy is loosed upon the world.” At the end, Yeats mentions a “rough beast” endangering civilization. Mansur says, “The beast within Islam has been prowling for a very long time.” Once Islam was a civilizing force, but keeping the beast caged has led to a wretched history of civil wars.
Islam’s Predicament is a far from perfect book. Mansur needed, but didn’t get, a sharp, severe editor. In long articles, he sometimes loses his way. His short newspaper columns are scattered. His prose feels careless. Even so, Islam’s Predicament reveals a most interesting man, a Canadian who has enlisted in the struggle against “Islamists who have wrecked the Muslim world.”
Full report at: http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2009/11/21/355595.aspx
Church marquee and teenager’s letter demonstrate power of words
November 22, 2009
TERRE HAUTE — “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me.”
Although most of us have repeated that childhood chant, we know from experience — and legislation and court rulings — that words sometimes can harm. Whether it’s bullying on social networking sites or “hate speech” that incites people to violence against their fellow citizens, words can be weapons that inflict real pain.
Words have consequences.
That was the message a Terre Haute teenager delivered this past week in a lengthy, barbed letter to the editor of the Tribune-Star. The 13-year-old middle school student described her “shock” at spotting a local church marquee that read:
JESUS DIED AND ROSE
AND LIVES FOR YOU
WHAT DID ALLAH DO
The girl wrote, “In the short span of my life, I had never seen such direct, vicious hatred.” She imagined the pain such words would cause Muslim friends. She said the people who posted the sign should be pitied because they “suffer from a malady of the mind.”
“If I, a 13-year-old, had noticed this,” she asked, “how could the adult who had written these prejudiced words not seen the blatant injustice?”
As is often the case with speech that offends, the person responsible for displaying the words on the church marquee did not see the injustice — either before posting the sign or after the middle school student denounced it. The pastor of the church told the Tribune-Star his sign was intended only to tell people “the founder of Christianity still lives.” Curiously, he pointed to the lack of a question mark after “Allah” as evidence that no slur against Muslims had been meant. People, he said, were choosing to make the sign’s message “a political statement.”
Full report at: http://www.tribstar.com/opinion/local_story_325181530.html
Cleric Wields Religion to Challenge Iran’s Theocracy
By MICHAEL SLACKMAN
November 22, 2009
CAIRO — For years, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri criticized Iran’s supreme leader and argued that the country was not the Islamic democracy it claimed to be, but his words seemed to fall on deaf ears. Now many Iranians, including some former government leaders, are listening.
Ayatollah Montazeri has emerged as the spiritual leader of the opposition, an adversary the state has been unable to silence or jail because of his religious credentials and seminal role in the founding of the republic.
He is widely regarded as the most knowledgeable religious scholar in Iran and once expected to become the country’s supreme leader until a falling-out with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 revolution and Iran’s supreme leader until his death in 1989.
Now, as the Iranian government has cracked down to suppress the protests that erupted after the presidential election in June and devastated the reform movement, Ayatollah Montazeri uses religion to attack the government’s legitimacy.
“We have many intellectuals who criticize this regime from the democratic point of view,” said Mehdi Khalaji, a former seminary student in Qum and now a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “He criticizes this regime purely from a religious point of view, and this is very hurtful. The regime wants to say, ‘If I am not democratic enough that doesn’t matter, I am Islamic.’
“He says it is not an Islamic government.”
Now in his mid-80s, frail and ill, Ayatollah Montazeri has remained in his home in Qum, the center of religious learning in Iran, issuing one politically charged religious edict after another, helping keep alive a faltering opposition movement. The man whom Ayatollah Khomeini once called “the fruit of my life” has condemned the state he helped to create.
“A political system based on force, oppression, changing people’s votes, killing, closure, arresting and using Stalinist and medieval torture, creating repression, censorship of newspapers, interruption of the means of mass communications, jailing the enlightened and the elite of society for false reasons, and forcing them to make false confessions in jail, is condemned and illegitimate,” he said in one of a flurry of written comments posted on Web sites since the election.
Full report at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/world/middleeast/22ayatollah.html
When radicals take God's name in vain, misconceptions grow in the aftermath
By Deborah E. Young
November 21, 2009,
To take God's name in vain is forbidden in almost every religion, and forcefully proscribed by the Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions.
But what happens when the Lord's name is uttered during craven acts, such as the phrase that allegedly tumbled from the mouth of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, before he gunned down 13 fellow soldiers on Nov. 5 in Fort Hood, Texas?
Or when a headline in the Advance refers to a wife arrested in a marriage dispute, implying her alleged act of attempted murder was committed in the name of Allah?
For Muslim Americans nationwide, and for Staten Island followers of Islam, the result is all-too-familiar frustration. They watch, incredulous, as misconceptions grow about their faith and the people who practice it, and they cringe at the thought that some people may use these portrayals to justify knee-jerk prejudice, or even to commit violence out of ignorance and misplaced rage.
"I was very mad. The part where you put the religion, in specific the name of God, is very incendiary. It does not even make sense," said Hesham El-Meligy, about the headline in an Oct. 30 report in the Advance, "A Knife in the name of Allah."
The story detailed how 37-year-old newlywed Rabia Sarwar -- a devout Muslim who led a sheltered life in Pakistan-- allegedly tried to harm her Westernized husband, after months of alleged emotional abuse that included forcing her to eat pork and go against other spiritual practices.
"Whenever there is a Muslim person, practicing or not, who does something that is not acceptable by law or by the community, the religion itself gets blamed and the whole Muslim population gets painted with a broad brush," said El-Meligy, a longtime New Springville resident, who is active in a number of interfaith, bridge-building groups in the borough, where such misunderstandings get discussed by people of different backgrounds.
Dozens of calls and letters came in to the Advance from loyal readers enraged by the headline, who characterized the choice of words as insensitive, insulting and just plain inaccurate.
The complaints continued to be aired, even as the incident at Fort Hood raised new fears in the local and national Muslim communities that the heinous actions of one misguided person would turn all of them into targets.
Full report at: http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/11/when_radicals_take_gods_name_i.html
Schumer's change of heart
Monday, November 23, 2009
New York's Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer just doesn't know what to think about terrorism. He does, however, know what to say - whatever is politically convenient at the moment. That's not what New Yorkers need to hear with the trial of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed about to land on the docket.
Immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Mr. Schumer chaired a Judiciary Committee hearing to figure out how to legally handle terrorist suspects. While smoke still hovered in the air over Ground Zero, the senator was all about being tough. His opening statement included his support for not allowing prisoners of war captured in Afghanistan and other countries to receive the same constitutional rights as American citizens.
He said, "First, the government must have the power to use even the most sensitive classified evidence against these suspects without compromising national security in any way, shape or form. In addition, those who commit acts of war against the United States, particularly those who have no color of citizenship, don't deserve the same panoply of due process rights that American citizens receive."
Mr. Schumer scoffed at the idea of trying Osama bin Laden in New York City. "Should Osama bin Laden be captured alive ... it is ludicrous to suggest he should be tried in a federal court on Center Street in Lower Manhattan," he said.
What changed Mr. Schumer's mind about New York City trials for terrorists complete with all the constitutional niceties? The Washington Times tried asking the senator face to face but the powerful lawmaker ran away.
His lack of cooperation aside, it is pretty obvious what changed is that in the days after Sept. 11, being tough on terror was good politics for the senator, but as the war on terror turned into a long slog, the political edge came from becoming a critic of Bush administration policy. So, Mr. Schumer forgot his old beliefs and came up with new ones.
Full report at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/23/schumers-change-of-heart/
Sheikh Mohammed Trial in New York: Real Trial or Show?
By Saeed Shabazz
Friday, November 20, 2009
NEW YORK (NNPA) - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced on November 13 that the trial of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-conspirators would be held in federal court in Manhattan. And, as would be expected, the announcement opened a floodgate of opinion for and against the decision.
The Stratfor Global Intelligence Report stated that Holder’s decision was “driven” by the need for the U.S. government to decide how to dispose of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which is the U.S. naval base situated outside the nation’s boundaries.
“Today’s announcement makes a significant step forward in our efforts to close Guantanamo and to bring to justice those individuals who have conspired to attack our nation and our interests abroad,” Holder said.
The U.S. attorney general, a New Yorker, also said that there are 11 others at Guantanamo that will be tried by military commissions.
Those criticizing the decision did so because of security concerns and worries about baring state secrets. The administration received strong rhetorical support from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Charles Schumer and former Sen. Hillary Clinton. The American Civil Liberties Union called the announcement “an enormous victory for the rule of law.”
However, Gov. David Paterson, while saying that he would do everything possible to keep New Yorkers safe, lamented that bringing the trial to the city was “a decision I would not have made.” He admitted that he had been in the loop for the past six months regarding the decision.
Full report at: http://www.washingtoninformer.com/wi-web/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2574:sheikh-mohammed-
Detecting Military Radicalism in the Wake of Fort Hood
Saturday, 21 November 2009
The first congressional hearing in the aftermath of the Fort Hood massacre took place Thursday morning, with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing from security experts, including a retired general and a former top White House advisor.
Lieberman wanted to hear from FBI officials about missed signals that Nidal Malik Hasan exhibited radical viewpoints and created concern among his colleagues. But the administration didn't allow any current government witnesses, in deference to the ongoing criminal investigation.
According to the Washington Post, Lieberman said conversations with Attorney General Eric Holder and Defense Secretary Robert Gates left him optimistic that the committee would gain access to some of the information it is seeking soon.
Thursday, the committee heard testimony on how to better identify potential radicals in the armed forces and how to empower people to report their concerns up the chain of command, even when the concerns involved an officer like Hasan. Among the witnesses were retired Gen. John Keane, a former Army vice chief of staff; Frances Fragos Townsend, President George W. Bush's homeland security adviser, and terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins of the RAND Corp.
The New York Times reported that the Pentagon was initiating a review of the Hasan case that would have a similar focus. The Investigative Project on Terrorism covered the hearing and prepared a video summary HERE
SEN. LIEBERMAN: (Sounds gavel.) The hearing will come to order. This morning, our committee begins an investigation as serious and consequential as any it has ever undertaken. An American soldier, Nidal Hasan, has been charged with killing 12 of his fellow soldiers and one civilian on an American military base in Texas in what I believe, based on available evidence, was a terrorist attack.
Full report at: http://www.rightsidenews.com/200911217411/homeland-security/detecting-military-radicalism-in-the-wake-of-fort-hood.html
There is no perfect religion
November 22, 2009
Joshua Noel Wood
I would like to preface this letter by saying that I identify myself as a Christian and have been raised in a Christian family. Love and tolerance were instilled into me since an early age.
Since the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, Islam has been under the limelight and the subject of severe scrutiny. Anytime there is an act of violence perpetrated by a person who happens to be Muslim it is labeled as a "terrorist attack."
The dictionary defines terrorism as "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion." Let’s not forget that the Oklahoma City bombing was perpetrated by American men who were Christian, not Muslim.
The phrase I have heard the most in the last eight years is "Islam is not a religion of peace." This is partly right. Islam is as much a religion of peace as Christianity is a religion of love. People tend to forget the entire spectrum of human history when they decide to criticize Islam and Muslims. What exactly has the Christian religion done that makes it any better than Islam?
The Spanish Inquisition which, while intended to suppress heresy, also delved into other offenses such as witchcraft, freemasonry, and bigamy. It is estimated that 2,000 people were burned at the stake by the Inquisition.
All three Crusades, which extended nearly 200 years, intended to free Jerusalem from the grip of the Muslims. In fact, Muslims weren’t the only people these wars were waged against. Jews, Mongols, pagan Slavs, and many other races and religions were considered to be enemies of the pope and of Christianity.
When King Charlemagne became ruler of England and emperor of the Holy Roman Empire he attempted to convert all the Saxons of England to Christianity. Those who would not convert were killed. This act could be easily considered to be spreading Christianity "by the sword" much like Islam is considered to be spread "by the sword."
My point in bringing up these atrocious events in history is to show anybody reading that Christianity has just as much blood on its hands as Islam does. There is no perfect religion and there are no perfect people. Whether it’s a jihad or a crusade, there will always be zealots and madmen using their faith to push their fanatical ideas. These people should not be taken for the status quo, but rather seen as the exception.
Ozawa's sermon hardly befitted the spirit of the mount he chose
By ROGER PULVERS
Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009
On Nov. 10, Ichiro Ozawa, secretary general of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, dropped a bombshell in a speech he made atop one of Japan's most sacred mountains, Mount Koya, in Wakayama Prefecture.
The temple on that mount was founded in the ninth century by the great monk Kukai (774-835), who was buried there. The doctrines of the Shingon (True Word) school of Buddhism he established, though known for their asceticism, are also notable for their tolerance and benevolence.
In his speech there, however, Ozawa saw fit to declare that Christianity was "a self-righteous religion that excluded other religions." Islam was somewhat better, he claimed, but "it too excludes other religions." Unsurprisingly, given the setting, he had fulsome praise for Buddhism, which he deemed "magnanimous."
The fallout was immediate. The Nihon Kirisutokyo Rengokai (Japan Christian Federation of Churches) issued a protest the very next day that branded Ozawa's comments as exhibiting "a one-sided understanding (of Christianity)."
Vociferous objections were also heard from people in the West, not least in the Readers in Council letters section of The Japan Times, criticizing Ozawa for prejudice and for overlooking some allegedly mean-spirited aspects of Buddhism.
But what are we to understand from Ozawa's pronouncement from on high — and how does it illuminate the Japanese outlook on faith?
Firstly, though, a not insignificant semantic observation.
Ozawa's remarks were subtly mistranslated in the English-language media coverage, which rendered the Japanese word haitateki that he used as "exclusive." While not technically incorrect, this gives the impression that he was labeling Christianity and, to a lesser extent, Islam, as considering themselves to be faiths above others — in some sense the holiest of the holy.
Full report at: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20091122rp.html
Look, Imam, No Hands
By T.R. Clancy
Saturday, 21 November 2009
In a development only slightly less surprising than Miley Cyrus's career choice to experiment with pole-dancing, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder last night in Detroit promised CAIR and other Muslim leaders that under his direction federal anti-terrorism efforts will be even more feckless and see-no-evil than they've been since 9/11.
"We are committed to protecting the rights of all Americans, including Muslims," Holder told a crowd of hundreds at the Detroit Marriot in the Renaissance Center. "This is not blind adherence to political correctness. It is devotion to our founding documents." ("Holder: Protect rights of all Americans, including Muslims").
Context wasn't offered, but I assume that this was a reference to the Ft. Hood shootings, which were brought to you and 13 army families by blind PC, and which the government has been stalwartly refusing to recognize as being an Islamic initiative.
Because Holder couldn't deny the role political correctness played in Hasan's attack without getting laughed into oblivion by the national press, he instead sanctified it by giving "blind adherence to political correctness" the new baptismal name of "devotion to our founding documents." The bottom line is, "Damn the critics! Full blind adherence to PC ahead!"
I haven't got any inside info on whether or not Holder, before he had to dress up for the Big Ball, had a sit down with Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena, or Arena's bosses at the FBI, about the Abdullah take-down. Even though Arena has made some supremely stupid statements about Islam, he has consistently defended his agents for their actions in shooting down homicidal jihadist soldier Abdullah. We'll keep our ears open for that unmistakable grinding sound of federal law-enforcement backpedaling, at least as it applies to the Abdullah case.
Full report at: http://www.rightsidenews.com/200911217405/editorial/look-imam-no-hands.html
Treat Muslims as equal people, not minorities
November 21, 2009
The Times Union's editorial on the tragic events at Fort Hood preaches calm and restraint while stating the politically correct conclusion: Maj. Malik Nadal Hasan was suffering "an utter collapse of an individual soldier's mental stability."
That statement demonstrates the editorial writer had already formed an opinion without the benefit of serious investigation while chiding the public not to jump to conclusions.
The reason for writing the editorial seems clear -- to further the myth that there are no radicals in Islam, only victims.
As information becomes more available, we learn that the major had anti-military and anti-American feelings. He claimed his nationality was Palestinian. He exchanged e-mails with an al-Qaida linked mullah in Yemen. We know that he purchased two guns and went through the required waiting period. We know that he gave away all his possessions before the murders, saying he would no longer need them. We also know that you legally cannot claim to have post-traumatic stress disorder because people tell you what combat is like.
The editorial writer asks what can be done to stop these acts. The answer is really quite obvious.
Drop the PC stuff. Islam is a religion, not a race. Do not treat Muslims as minorities. There are 1.5 billion of them around the world. Treat them as people, as Americans.
If a Catholic solider had written 20 e-mails to the IRA and if he had preached against America, I assure you he would have never gotten through the FBI check to purchase those weapons.
Until we eliminate the political correctness that has penetrated our culture, no one will be safe. Our country will not grow and become what the founders believed, that all men are created equal.
Jordanians march in support of Al-Aqsa Mosque
Sat, 21 Nov 2009
Hundreds of Jordanians take to the streets in Amman to express deep resentment over Israeli troops' raids into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, while criticizing the attacks as part of a Judaization campaign that targets East Jerusalem Al-Quds.
Participants in Friday demonstration, that brought about Jordanians from all walks of life, also condemned the silence by the Arab governments over what they described as "serious Israeli violations against Al-Aqsa Mosque."
They also called on Arabs and Muslims to throw their weight behind the Palestinian Intifada (uprising) in the face of the Zionist aggressions and violations against Al-Aqsa Mosque and East Jerusalem Al-Quds.
Meanwhile, Palestinian lawmaker Samira al-Halaika warns that Israeli plans to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque are in their final stages, calling on Arab and Muslim states to shatter silence and to implement practical measures to cease the schemes.
“The state of death [Israel] engulfs Arab and Muslim world and is swallowing them up. The callous indifference shown by the Islamic world towards Israeli aggressions on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound explains why the organized Israeli ethnic cleansing in the East Jerusalem Al-Quds is going on unimpeded, and now is in final stages at Jerusalem Al-Quds,” the legislator from Hamas's parliamentary bloc in Palestinian Legislative Council was quoted as saying by Palestinian Information Center on Friday.
She also urged Arab and Muslim nations and officials to end their inexplicable silence and to sincerely stand beside their brethren in occupied East Jerusalem Al-Quds.
“The Zionist enemy does anything to diminish the Palestinians' presence in the city. It either demolishes their homes or confiscates and invalidates their residency documents among other illegal practices so as to change the demographic population of Jerusalem Al-Quds in favor of the Jews,” Halaika deplored.
Religions Split Over Health Care Reform
By Cary McMullen
November 20, 2009
The great religious faiths of the world differ in some important ways, but most agree that believers are supposed to take care of the sick. The instructions of the Torah, the words and deeds of Jesus and the teachings of the prophet Muhammad give the foundation for moral and ethical principles, sometimes developed over centuries, on responsibilities toward the injured and ill.But are those principles a blueprint for modern health care reform?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 20 percent of Americans under the age of 65 lacked access to affordable health care in 2008. Religious groups generally have cast the issue in moral terms and have been outspoken about the Democratic proposals laid out by Congress and the Obama administration.
Yet there is a significant divide, with some liberal religious groups cheering the proposals and some conservatives strenuously opposing them. And a third group - the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops - has steered an independent course, favoring some parts of the reform and opposing others.
How do religious groups decide whether to support the labrynthine bills now pending before Congress? Do political alliances count as much as moral tradition?
The Catholic bishops have emerged as perhaps the most influential of the religious groups on this issue.
Especially since the 1960s, they have advocated that the health care system in the United States should be extended to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. And unlike conservative Protestant groups, Catholics are generally not opposed to the federal government ensuring universal health care.
Full report at: http://www.theledger.com/article/20091120/NEWS/911205031/1326?Title=Religions-Split-Over-Health-Care-Reform
A Terror Suspect With Feet in East and West
By Ginger Thompson
November 22, 2009
PHILADELPHIA — The trip from a strict Pakistani boarding school to a bohemian bar in Philadelphia has defined David Headley’s life, according to those who know the middle-age man at the center of a global terrorism investigation Raised by his father in Pakistan as a devout Muslim, Mr. Headley arrived back here at 17 to live with his American mother, a former socialite who ran a bar called the Khyber Pass.
Today, Mr. Headley is an Islamic fundamentalist who once liked to get high. He has a traditional Pakistani wife, who lives with their children in Chicago, but also an American girlfriend — a makeup artist in New York — according to a relative and friends. Depending on the setting, he alternates between the name he adopted in the United States, David Headley, and the Urdu one he was given at birth, Daood Gilani. Even his eyes — one brown, the other green — hint at roots in two places.
Mr. Headley, an American citizen, is accused of being the lead operative in a loose-knit group of militants plotting revenge against a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The indictment against him portrays a man who moved easily between different worlds. The profile that has emerged of him since his arrest, however, suggests that Mr. Headley felt pulled between two cultures and ultimately gravitated toward an extremist Islamic one.
“Some of us are saying that ‘Terrorism’ is the weapon of the cowardly,” Mr. Headley wrote in an e-mail message to his high school classmates last February. “I will say that you may call it barbaric or immoral or cruel, but never cowardly.”
He added, “Courage is, by and large, exclusive to the Muslim nation.”
Mr. Headley’s e-mail messages, including many that defended beheadings and suicide bombings as heroic, are among the evidence in the government’s case against him and his accused co-conspirator, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, who was born in Pakistan, is a citizen of Canada and runs businesses in Chicago.
Full report at: New York Times