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Islamic World News ( 15 Sept 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Misyar: Saudi licence for sex sans strings

Malaysian court calls for review of whipping as punishment

Uncertainty as top Iraqi Shia leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim dies

Malaysian court calls for review of whipping as punishment

Uncertainty as top Iraqi Shia leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim dies

Criticism of Pakistan's domestic violence bill 'unfair': Sherry Rahman

Speculation rife in Israel, Palestinian areas over prisoner swap

Muslims banned from Black Eyed Peas concert in Malaysia

Rifqa affair—Ohio to investigate the teen's claims that her Muslim father intends to kill her over her conversion to Christianity

Choice between Bikini and Burqa is about freedom missing in Arab World

Islamic Radicalism Slows Moroccan Reforms

Behind the Bolivia-Islam Connection

Muslim woman told to remove scarf sues Michigan judge

To share videos, Saudis turn to 'religiously safe' NaqaTube

Indonesia: Islamic parties and the terror threat

Young Guantanamo Afghan to sue US

Saad Hariri stresses Christian-Muslim coexistence

Behind Terrorism in Saudi Arabia

Islamic history: Holy Quran Exhibition at Dubai

Students showcase Saudi culture in Vancouver expo

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Misyar: Saudi licence for sex sans strings

26 August 2009

ISLAMABAD: In conservative Saudi Arabia, men and women are increasingly availing misyar, a no-strings marriage of convenience focused primarily on sexual relations.

Misyar allows couples to live separately, but come together for sexual relations. It deprives women of almost all the rights that a normal marriage would entitle them to, but offers men an "opportunity for a bit of fun on the side, in secret, and at a huge discount."

Misyar's rising popularity also owes to the high cost of marriage in Saudi Arabia, as dowry, dinners, parties, decorating a flat and the honeymoon, set the groom back several hundred thousand riyals. "Misyar for cash-strapped men is a boon," the Guardian reported.

A Saudi cited by the report claimed that he entered several misyar marriages after his first normal marriage fell apart.

He said none lasted for more than six months and said the marriages had not been as cost effective as he had hoped, irrespective of the fact that he was hoping to find a compatible partner for a permanent relationship. He said that misyar wives were "crafty and inclined to extract money and gifts".

 "Thanks to Bluetooth technology, websites and an abundance of apartments in major cities like Riyadh and Jeddah, there are tales of misyar wives who have clandestinely entered into more than one misyar contract," the paper said. "These ladies say misyar husbands never tell their full-time wives about their relationships, so why can't misyar wives have similar arrangements?" it stated.

Internet ads for misyar marriages often reveal the desperation of those looking for partners, with some only demanding a woman with the "ability to satisfy the needs of a man who desires things permitted by religion."

 "Misyar is popular in the kingdom because in a society where extramarital and premarital sex is a cardinal sin it legitimises sexual relations outside the framework of conventional marriage", the report added.


Malaysian court calls for review of whipping as punishment

27 August 2009, 12:00am IST

Public opinion, domestic and international, has forced Malaysian authorities to go slow on a Shariah court order asking a woman to be whipped.

The execution of the order has been kept in abeyance after the main judge at the Islamic court described the sentence as "too harsh" and called for a review.

The "culprit", Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, has admitted to sipping beer in a hotel and apologised for the act. But she has refused to heed to a request from the Malaysian prime minister to appeal against the order. Instead, she has turned the debate on its head by demanding that the sentence be carried out in public view.

The authorities fear that a public lashing could have unforeseen ramifications for Malaysia. Unlike many Islamic countries, Malaysia is a multi-religious society with a large non-Muslim population. It has built its international profile as a liberal society with an Islamic orientation. Even though Islamic laws govern Muslims in Malaysia, punishments like flogging are rare. Many Malaysians, particularly from the Chinese and Indian communities, have said that the Shukarno incident is an indication of the increasing Islamisation of the country. Any overt action in that direction could further upset fragile ethnic relations in the country.

The debate in Malaysia is representative of the unrest even in Islamic societies over the use of religious laws. Women are in the forefront of protests against courts sanctioning punishments like flogging and stoning for acts that are perceived as violations of Islamic tenets. The experience of Sudanese journalist, Lubna Hussein, is a case in point. She was arrested for wearing trousers in a public place instead of the traditional Islamic dress for women. Hussein has refused to accept a presidential pardon and has challenged the legality of her arrest. She wants to make her trial and punishment a public spectacle and thereby shame the authorities. That many women risked police action to be present at Hussein's trial - wearing trousers - indicates that the strategy may be working.

These instances of rebellion against conservative tendencies in relatively closed societies are likely to become more common. New forms of communication facilities have helped oppressed groups to subvert state censorship and develop new networks of solidarity. Absolute insularity is impossible anymore. Technology has helped the spread of modern ideas of justice and social contract everywhere. In an increasingly networked and globalised world, it will not be easy for governments to stall the yearning for social equality and humane notions of law and justice.


Child bride turned over to 80-year-old husband

26 August, 2009

AL-LAITH: A 10-year-old bride was returned last Sunday to her 80-year-old husband by her father who discovered her at the home of her aunt with whom she has been hiding for around 10 days.

A local newspaper said the husband, who denies he is 80 in spite of claims by the girl's family, accused the aunt of meddling in his affairs. "My marriage is not against Shariah. It included the elements of acceptance and response by the father of the bride," he said.

He added that he had been engaged to his wife's elder sister and that this broke off as she wanted to continue with her education. "In light of this, her father offered his younger daughter. I was allowed to have a look at her according to Shariah and found her acceptable," he said.

Maatouq Al-Abdullah, a member of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), said there is no system in place regulating the marriage of young girls, something that he said results in adverse psychological, health and social effects.

"Such marriages are considered a gross violation of charters on the rights of children, which the Kingdom has signed and which set the age of adulthood at 18," he added.


Uncertainty as Iraqi powerbroker dies

Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, a leader of the Shiite revival, forged canny ties to both U.S. and Iran.

By Qassim Abdul-zahra

Aug. 27, 2009

BAGHDAD - Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, who channeled rising Shiite Muslim power after the fall of Saddam Hussein to become one of Iraq's most influential politicians and maintained ties with both the United States and Iran, died of lung cancer yesterday in Tehran.

The soft-spoken Hakim, 59, was a kingmaker in Iraq's politics as head of the country's biggest Shiite political party. His death left a vacancy at its helm with just five months to go before parliamentary elections.

For many in Iraq's Shiite majority, Hakim was a symbol of their community's rise after decades of oppression under Hussein's Sunni-led regime. His family led a Shiite rebel group against Hussein from exile in Iran, where he lived for 20 years and built close ties with Iran's leaders.

After Hussein's 2003 fall, Hakim hewed close to the Americans even while maintaining his alliance with Iran, judging that the U.S. military was key to the Shiite rise.

The top two U.S. officials in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno and Ambassador Christopher Hill, offered condolences in a joint statement, praising Hakim for "contributing to the building of a new Iraq."

Political leaders from all sects also paid respects.

"Al-Hakim was a big brother and a strong supporter during the struggle against the former regime, and he was a major player in the process of building the new Iraq," Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said.

With Hakim's death, U.S. policymakers could face difficult challenges in the potential shifts in Shiite politics.

Full Report at:


CII objections on Pakistani domestic violence bill 'unfair': Sherry Rehman

August 27, 2009

 Former information minister says it is responsibility of state to provide protection to its citizens in public and private space

ISLAMABAD: Domestic violence is a reality for a majority of women in Pakistan and legislation to protect them is the responsibility of parliament, former federal information minister Sherry Rehman said on Wednesday.

Commenting on the reservations expressed by the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) on the recent legislation on domestic violence, she said, "The bill has come about following extensive consensus building exercises over the years, and it comprehensively lays down provisions to address all issues related to domestic violence. Targeting the bill for its context seeks to damage the cause of rights protection that we, as public representatives, are obliged to defend."

The CII termed the law "discriminatory" and warned that it could provide police an opportunity to violate the "sanctity of home" and encourage divorce rates.

 "The CII's description of the law as 'discriminatory' is unfair. In its definition of 'victim', the law covers women, men, children and "any vulnerable person who has been in a domestic relationship with the accused." This certainly offers protection to anybody involved in a domestic association with the accused."

She said, "It is the responsibility of the state to provide protection to its citizens in public and private space. There is no way the state can allow its citizens to be subjected to any kind of abuse just because it takes place in a private setting." Sherry said the adoption of the bill in the parliament was the first step towards addressing a heinous crime institutionally that unfortunately, characterised the domestic relationships of a majority of women. staff report\08\27\story_27-8-2009_pg7_31


Speculation rife in Israel, Palestinian areas over prisoner swap

27 August 2009

Tel Aviv, August 27: Speculation was rife in Israel and the Palestinian areas Thursday that a prisoner swap, which would see hundreds of Palestinian prisoners exchanged for an Israeli soldier held in the Gaza Strip for more than three years, was imminent. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to discuss the issue at a meeting in Berlin Thursday with Chancellor Angela Merkel and receive an update on German efforts to mediate a possible swap.

Israel soldier Gilad Shalit was snatched on June 25, 2006in an early-morning cross-border raid by three Palestinian militant groups launched from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas, which is holding him, is demanding the release of hundreds of Palestinians from Israeli prisons in exchange.

Negotiations to effect a prisoner swap have so far floundered, but on Wednesday night, following reports that a newspaper editor considered close to Hamas said that "the prisoner exchange deal is drawing to an end."

Mustafa Sawaf, editor of the Palestine Now newspaper, said the deal was being held up not over the core of the deal but rather over tactical matters, such as the question of whether all the prisoners would be released to their homes or if some of them would be deported to Gaza or overseas.

There was no official Israeli reaction to Sawaf's claim, but Minister of Trade and Industry Benjamin Ben-Eliezer told Israel Army Radio that he was hopeful Shalit would be released soon.

"For the first time, I have the feeling that this journey is going to end, I hope with all my heart, well, and I hope that very soon we will see Gilad Shalit at home," he said.


Muslims banned from Black Eyed Peas concert in Malaysia because event is organised by Guinness

27th August 2009

Malaysia's government has banned Muslims from attending a Black Eyed Peas concert because the event is organised by Guinness.

The U.S. hip-hop stars are due to perform at a theme park near Kuala Lumpur next month as part of worldwide celebrations marking the 250th anniversary of Guinness' flagship brewery in Dublin.

The show will be one of five taking place across the globe to celebrate the landmark birthday.

The event's Malaysian website read: 'The party is only open to non-Muslims aged 18 years and above.'

A Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture official said: 'Muslims cannot attend. Non-Muslims can go and have fun.'

She said the September 25 concert would not normally have been permitted, because  government regulations forbid alcohol companies from organising concerts. She said that authorities made an exception in the hope the event would boost tourism.

Guinness must not use its logo in concert publicity material, she added.

It was not immediately clear how the ban on Muslims is likely to be enforced. Concert organisers did not respond to a request for comments.

Past major pop concerts in Malaysia, including one by the Black Eyed Peas in 2007, have been open to all residents, however shows by Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne in recent years faced protests by conservative Muslims over their immodest clothing, forcing the artists to wear attire that revealed little skin.

In family and personal matters, Muslims in Malaysia are governed by Sharia or Islamic law, which forbids the consumption of alcohol.

The concert ban follows a crackdown on alcohol consumption among Malaysia's Muslim majority.

A Muslim woman who drank beer in public was sentenced to caning by an Islamic court last month, though authorities this week agreed to review the penalty.

Officials also recently curbed retail sales of liquor in a central state.

Ethnic Malays make up nearly 60 percent of Malaysia's 28million population and are all legally considered Muslim. The rest of the country is mainly ethnic Chinese and Indians, most of whom are Buddhist, Christian or Hindu.


Rifqa affair-- Ohio's authorities, not Florida's, to be the ones investigating the teen's claims that her Muslim father intends to kill her over her conversion to Christianity

August 27, 2009

With its clash of religions and warnings of "honour killing," the story of Fathima Rifqa Bary — the runaway Christian convert who sought sanctuary with an Orlando pastor — reads like a post-9-11 pot-boiler.

Only Ohio officials — not Florida authorities — ought to be the ones investigating the teen's claims that her Muslim father intends to kill her over her recent conversion.

Florida officials were right to step in as protectors early on. A child who claims her parents made death threats deserves the state's protection.

However, through the state's continued intervention — largely because of Ohio's tepid response — Rifqa sadly has become a pawn of religious and political opportunists.

The honor student and cheerleader hopped a Greyhound bus to Florida in late July after running away from her home in a middle-class community outside Columbus, Ohio. Once here, she contacted Beverly and Blake Lorenz, who co-pastor the Global Revolution Church in Orlando. She had struck up a relationship with the couple through a Facebook prayer group.

The Lorenzes granted refuge, though they had never met Rifqa, who reportedly told the couple that she feared her family would harm or kill her, or ship her back to her native Sri Lanka.

In a TV-interview-turned- YouTube-sensation, the teary teen declares her death would be a Muslim "honor killing" — whereby fundamentalist Muslims sometimes kill women who have shamed their families.

Curiously, the Lorenzes kept the runaway's whereabouts under wraps for days. They finally called an abuse hot line, long after they should have notified authorities. Police turned Rifqa over to state custody.

A phone call to Ohio authorities to pick up the girl should have ended the Florida chapter of the story. Instead, on Friday, a judge ordered that Rifqa, who recently turned 17, remain with a foster family in Florida for at least two weeks. That would give the Florida Department of Law Enforcement time to investigate the threat back home in Ohio.

We agree that authorities should err on the side of caution when it comes to protecting children. And while "honor killings" are an aberration in the United States, they do occur. Last year, near Dallas, an Egyptian-born man allegedly killed his two daughters because he believed Western culture had corrupted their chastity.

Full Report at:,0,6067270.story


Choice between Bikini and Berqa is about freedom missing in Arab World


August 25, 2009

As I always do around this time of year, I pushed aside the Arab-Israeli conflict for a moment to contemplate the more serious conflict between secular Muslims and Christian Arabs and the growing religious extremism in the Middle East.

There are 22 Arab countries, yet only two had the courage (or pride in their women) to field entrants in this year's Miss Universe Pageant, which was held in the Bahamas, where string bikinis replace car bombs and women are truly free.

The only two Arab countries that entered contestants, again, were Egypt and Lebanon.

Now I know Egypt and its president, Hosni Mubarak, get a lot of flack for the alleged oppression of its citizens: The Coptic Christians are screaming; the Muslim Brotherhood is screaming; the religious fanatics are screaming; and Egyptian ex-patriots are screaming.

I wonder if Egyptians are protesting, or they just like to scream? Anyway, this was the 58th Miss Universe Contest and Miss Venezuela Stefanía Fernández was declared the most beautiful woman in the universe.

I have issues with that. The universe is a big place and who are we to define beauty based on our human criteria? What about creatures from other planets? Well, we can deal with that when they come here, occupy our lands and try to kick us off the planet. I happen to think Arab women are the most beautiful in the world. And I think that beauty is something we should brag about, not suppress, hide or run from in fear and shame.

I mean, as an Arab, I have to ask this question: Why is it okay to threaten women who make the choice to showcase their bodies in the Arab world and not okay to challenge the oppressed women who wrap themselves in a burka and niqab like sacks of potatoes while their husbands and male family members run around unshaven in dirty Nikes and other "Western" T-shirts?

Why is it that an Arab woman has the "right" to make the "choice" to wear a burka and face veil and erase her physical identity in public, but that same Arab woman does not have the right to wear a bikini? I think the bikini is the symbol of true freedom and the burka is the sign of modern-day oppression of Arab women.

It's one of the hypocrisies that plagues the Arab world, brought on by the religious fanatics - the lowest common denominator in the Middle East. And instead of standing up to it, secular Muslims and Christian Arabs - let's just call them "Arabs" - are doing nothing to stop this growing oppression.

ON APRIL 9, 2006, Tamar Goregian, 23, a Christian woman from Iraq, which remains occupied by American forces, withdrew from the Miss Universe Pageant after Islamic extremists called her "the queen of infidels" and threatened to kill her if she participated. The 2006 pageant was held at the Shrine Temple in Los Angeles.

The two runners-up in the Miss Iraq Beauty Pageant, who were Muslim, declined to take Miss Goregian's place in light of the death threats. The fourth place runner-up, Silva Shahakian, 23, also a Christian, was left to take the title, but apparently she, too, declined as she was not among the 86 pageant beauties who were introduced during the 2006 show's broadcast.

The religious thought police in the Arab world argue that a woman showing off her body is disgraceful. Blowing yourself up at a crowded bus stop is not disgraceful, though.

They also assert that the "rights of women" are guaranteed in writing in some Arab countries.

Full Report at:


Islamic Radicalism Slows Moroccan Reforms

August 26, 2009

CASABLANCA, Morocco — Morocco has long been viewed as a rare liberalizing, modernizing Islamic state, open to the West and a potential bridge to a calmer Middle East that can live in peace with Israel.

But under pressure from Islamic radicalism, King Mohammed VI has slowed the pace of change. Power remains concentrated in the monarchy; democracy seems more demonstrative than real. While insisting that the king is committed to deeper reforms, senior officials speak instead of keeping a proper balance between freedom and social cohesion. Many discuss the threat of extremism in neighboring Algeria.

Since a major bombing of downtown hotels and shopping areas by Islamic radicals in 2003, and a thwarted attempt at another bombing campaign in 2007, there has been a major and continuing crackdown on those suspected of being extremists here.

In 2003, anyone with a long beard was likely to be arrested. Even now, nearly 1,000 prisoners considered to be Islamic radicals remain in Moroccan jails. Six Islamist politicians (and a reporter from the Hezbollah television station, Al Manar) were jailed recently, accused of complicity in a major terrorist plot. The case was full of irregularities and based mainly on circumstantial evidence, according to a defense lawyer, Abelaziz Nouaydi, and Human Rights Watch.

In a rare interview, Yassine Mansouri, Morocco's chief of intelligence, said that the arrested politicians "used their political activities as a cover for terrorist activities."

 "It was not our aim to stop a political party," he said. "There is a law to be followed."

Morocco is threatened, Mr. Mansouri said, by two extremes — the conservative Wahhabism spread by Saudi Arabia and the Shiism spread by Iran. "We consider them both aggressive," Mr. Mansouri said. "Radical Islam has the wind in its sail, and it remains a threat."

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, especially active in Algeria, remains a major problem for Morocco, Mr. Mansouri said. Officials say it is appealing to the young and has recreated a training route to Afghanistan through Pakistan, and it just sponsored a suicide bombing in Mauritania.

Foreign Minister Taïeb Fassi Fihri said: "We know where the risks to our stability are. We know kids are listening to this Islamic song, so we have to act quickly."

King Mohammed, who celebrated his 10th year on the throne this year, has vowed to help the poor and wipe out the slums, called "bidonvilles," where radicalism is bred. One such slum, Sidi Moumen, where the bombers lived, is being redeveloped. Half of it has already been ripped down, and some 700 families shipped to the outskirts of the city, where they are provided a small plot of land at a cheap price to build new housing.

Hamid al-Gout, 34, was born in Sidi Moumen and built his own hovel here. Nearly everyone has been to prison, he said, and Islamist political groups quietly hold meetings. "Sometimes we talk, 12 or 14 people, about our lives," he said, then added carefully, "But there is no radical thinking here now."

Abdelkhabir Hamma, 36, said that he had been told that if he and his family did not leave by the end of the year, they would be thrown out. He said that while many respect the king, few trust other authorities.

Full Report at:


What is Behind the Bolivia-Islam Connection?

By Devin Beaulieu

26 August 2009

It is a strange and unexpected sight in the middle of Bolivia, a country better known for alpaca sweaters and Marxist revolutionaries, but everyday from the curved towers of a mosque in the city of Santa Cruz goes out the call for Muslim prayer. One would not be embarrassed to have never imagined that the Bolivian Islamic Center ever existed in this country heavily dominated by Roman Catholicism and with a majority indigenous population. It is one of a handful of Islamic centers serving a tiny population of Bolivian Muslims estimated to be comprised of 1,000 people. But despite its size the population has become the new subject of security interest of the United States.

The head of the Islamic Center, Mahmud Amer Abusharar, an elderly grey haired Palestinian refugee sitting in his front office appeared humorously bewildered when presented with recent US intelligence and media reports detailing him among others in a study of extremist threats in Bolivia.

 "The Islamic center is a Bolivian institution, which has no discrimination, whatsoever, against anyone… white like the Europeans, or brown like the Bolivians… Thank God we call on the people to be good to be universal and honest, not to be aggressive," Abusharar insisted.

 "I never thought that the Islamic Center forms danger to the United States, but who is introducing this idea to the United States public; he must be the one looking to harm the North American people."

In a June 6th piece, Fox News published "Bolivia becoming Hot Bed of Islamic Extremism, Report Concludes" based on a May 2009 US intelligence report on Bolivian Muslims. The author Nora Zimmett cites the report to paint the potential threat of advancing terrorism in the Western Hemisphere from "Anti-American" attitudes of Bolivian Muslims, the leftist Bolivian government's increasingly strained relations with Washington, and budding relations with Iran.

Quoting an unnamed US intelligence official, "There's a theory that they may believe — Latin America, particularly with its Leftist leanings in recent years, may be more receptive to the anti-American-type rhetoric that we've been accustomed to hearing from Iran…The goal of the [Islamic] revolution is not just for Iran, but they feel an obligation to spread it. So we see their outreach as not just an economic one, but also a cultural one. Now, is there potential that could be capitalized by some other for some more nefarious purposes? There's a lot of possibilities out there."

While Fox News and their anonymous source push the potential likelihood of such a threat the actual report prepared by the Open Source Center (OSC) of the Director of National Intelligence[1] is void of specific or possible security threats and concludes that Bolivian foreign relations are "not a result of Bolivian Muslim influence." Instead the report's dissection of eight Bolivian Muslim organizations directs attention to critical attitudes of United States and Israeli policies held by local religious leaders. The Islamic Center is described having the supposed contradictory view of both voicing support for "open-mindedness and peace" while "numerous on-line statements reveal a strong anti-US position", citing statements in opposition to the US invasion of Afghanistan: "Today we see the US declaring armed Jihad against terrorism. They aim their bombs at UBL and Afghanistan, whom they financed and trained." 

Full Rrport at:


Muslim woman told to remove scarf sues Michigan judge

August 26, 2009

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. - A Muslim woman is suing a Michigan judge, saying she felt humiliated by his order to remove her headscarf in court.

Raneen Albaghdady and the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Wayne County and Circuit Judge William Callahan, alleging he violated her First Amendment and other rights.

The 32-year-old Dearborn Heights woman says she removed her headscarf at the June 16 hearing because she was "terrified and scared" of Callahan.

The judge says in a statement that Albaghdady didn't say her headpiece had religious significance and if she had, he wouldn't have told her to remove it.

The suit asks a federal judge to order Wayne County judges to allow the hijab, or headscarf, in court.

© Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Indonesia: Islamic parties and the terror threat

By Sapto Waluyo


Terrorism has not only affected the post-election government's performance, but has also created fear in the public.

Furthermore, the latest bomb blasts at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels, which injured 53 and killed nine people, including foreign CEOs and businessmen, have made investors and businesses more wary of the country.

Over the last decade, terrorism has haunted the Islamic community, as acts of terror have always been associated with Jemaah Islamiyah, which succeeded the Darul Islam (Indonesian Islamic State) movement. A report in this paper (Aug. 15) claimed that the breeding of terrorism was associated with the passive stance of Islamic parties, particularly the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), which is the biggest Islamic party according to the 2009 legislative elections results.

According to terrorism researcher, Noor Huda Ismail, no concrete policy nor action has been taken by the PKS to prevent terrorism in Indonesia. The passive attitude of the PKS is perceived as having something to do with the relationship between the former Darul Islam movement and senior officials from the PKS, whereas the public assumes that Darul Islam is a breeding ground for terrorists.

Some Islamic organizations, not merely Islamic parties, act awkwardly rather than passively when dealing with terrorists. Among other reasons because they have been busy with the presidential election and are awaiting its outcome.

However, Islamic groups and parties were divided in the election. All mainstream Islamic parties (the PKS, PAN, PPP, PKB, and PBB) supported Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, while leaders of major Islamic organizations (NU, Muhammadiyah) supported Jusuf Kalla.

As a matter of fact, Islamic parties have condemned terrorism (including the JW Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton blasts) and so have Islamic organizations.

There is no need to plunge into conspiracy theories, but a statement by the Muhammadiyah chairman, Din Syamsudin, saying that he had received information that a lot of foreign intelligence agents were staying in the hotel before the July 17 explosion is irrevocably interesting. Did they know something was about to take place?

If so, did they have any intention of taking any preventative measures? Din's critical stance turned into nerves after the police ambushed a house in Temanggung, Central Java, three weeks later.

The house, suspected to have been sheltering Noordin M. Top, belongs to Muhjahri, a retired civil servant who works as a teacher at Muhammadiyah junior high school in Kedu, Central Java. Din appointed Muhammadiyah lawyers to defend Muhjahri. The latter was proven innocent although his son was arrested by the police three years ago for protecting Noordin.

The PKS is also put in a problematic position when the media keeps on associating terrorist suspects with established Islamic organizations. Current targets include Abu Bakar Ba'asyir who left the Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia (MMI) and founded Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid.

Reporting about Ibrohim, the florist who disappeared after the July 17 blasts and was later shot in Temanggung, TV stations exposed his family's house that has been deserted for two years after a big flood.

On its wall there was a depiction of an exploding skyscraper and a shirt with a Ritz-Carlton logo on it, as well as Arabic calligraphy saying: "Allahu Ghayatuna wa ar-Rasul qudwatuna.wa al-Jihad sabiluna" (Allah is our destination, the Prophet is our role model, .and struggle is our way of life).

Full Report at:


Young Guantanamo Afghan to sue US

Mohammed Jawad's lawyer says he must get compensation

One of the youngest detainees held at the US detention centre in Guantanamo Bay will sue the United States for compensation, his lawyers say.

Mohammed Jawad was released and arrived in his native Afghanistan earlier this week. His family says he was 12 at the time of his detention in 2002.

He was in custody for seven years. The Pentagon, however, disputes his age.

Mr Jawad had been accused of injuring two US soldiers and their interpreter by throwing a grenade at their vehicle.

Much of the case against him had been ruled inadmissible by a US military judge in 2008.

Mr Jawad's release was ordered last month by US District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle, who described the US  government's case against him as "an outrage" that was "riddled with holes".

US government lawyers had said they were considering pursuing a criminal case against Mr Jawad, but no charges  were filed.

US President Barack Obama has pledged to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay by January 2010.

'Unacceptable' Mr Jawad's lawyers said his family would sue for compensation in US courts, but added that he needed as much  financial assistance as possible in the short term.

There is no difference between being confined in Guantanamo Bay or being left out in the wild 

Major Eric Montalvo "The way forward right now is to avail the Afghanistan government and the US government of funding to help train him  and get him back to normalcy," Mr Jawad's lawyer Major Eric Montalvo was quoted by the Associated Press news  agency as saying.

"So to not give him any compensation - any way to help him back to civilisation - this is unacceptable," Mr Montalvo  told a press conference in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

"There is no difference between being confined in Guantanamo Bay or being left out in the wild without assistance,"  he said.

Mr Jawad's family say he was 12 when he was arrested in 2002.

The Pentagon says a bone scan showed he was about 17 when taken into custody.

Mr Montalvo, a US military lawyer, says Mr Jawad, who does not have a birth certificate, was between 12 and 15 years  old at the time of arrest.

"I was an innocent child when they put me in prison," Mr Jawad told The Associated Press in an interview.

His family and lawyers say Mr Jawad was subjected to torture while in detention.


To share videos, Saudis turn to 'religiously safe' NaqaTube

PTI 27 August 2009

DUBAI: Sick and tired of profanities and explicit nature of some video clips on YouTube, a group of Saudis have developed a "clean"

alternative called NaqaTube (Naqa being the Arabic word for 'pure').

The aim, as they put it, is to prevent the youth from watching sexually explicit video clips online, an Arab News report quoted a moderator of the website as saying.

With millions of youth logging into YouTube each day, the group launched NaqaTube, which is simply an amalgamation of "clean" clips from YouTube.

Abu Ibraheem, one of the moderators of the website, said that clips on NaqaTube are religiously safe and often edited prior to being uploaded.

The website's logo is "Participate With Us In a Clean Website."

The site also censors clips that are against the government, individuals and scholars, or which mock people in general, the report said.

Women's images are totally forbidden, along with music.

 "Our dream is to decline the number of visitors to YouTube. Our website has received from 5,000 to 6,000 visitors since its launch two months ago," Ibraheem said in a statement. section


Hariri stresses Christian-Muslim coexistence as Lebanon's message

August 27, 2009

BEIRUT: Prime Minister- designate Saad Hariri stressed on Wednesday that coexistence between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon was the country's true message. "We want Lebanon to remain a place for inter-religious union and dialogue and we want Christians and Muslims in this country to maintain equal shares regardless of numbers of demographics," Hariri told religious figures representing Lebanon's 18 confessions during an iftar at his residence in Qoreitem.

Hariri reiterated he was wor­king on forming a unity cabinet "that would gather all the main political parties so as to counter Israeli threats and tackle economic and social challenges."

He added that promoting the tourism sector would be one of his government's top priorities.

 "I also wish to promote religious tourism, especially pilgrimage to Christian vestiges such as the Notre Dame Cathedral in Harissa and the southern town of Qana," he said.

Almost two months after the designation of the Future Movement leader to form the country's first cabinet following the June 7 parliamentary elections, his efforts to form a national unity cabinet have yet to pay off.

Hariri has so far maintained a reconciliatory tone, especially during iftar meals he has organized so far. On Tuesday, Hariri pledged to include Hizbullah in the upcoming Cabinet, in defiance of Israeli warnings against group's participation in the Lebanese government.

The latest pledge came in response to remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netan­yahu, who warned Lebanon against letting Hizbullah into the new government.

Netanyahu said earlier this month that Israel would hold the Lebanese government responsible for any attacks on Israeli targets by Hizbullah.

For its part Hizbullah has also shied away from fiery rhetoric and has expressed willingness to help Hariri form a national unity.

A statement by Hizbullah's Loyalty to the Resistance parliamentary bloc urged "calm and practical dialogue" in order to form a cabinet.

Hizbullah's official in south Lebanon Sheikh Nabil Qawouk considered the challenges slowing the formation of a cabinet as "external rather than internal."

 "Domestic obstacles are superficial," he said.

Qawouk said Hizbullah insisted on the formation of a national unity cabinet, adding that his group was "keen on maintaining a calm and positive atmosphere, and will not take sides."

However, Hizbullah's key ally Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun did not mirror Hizbullah's tone.

Aoun said he refused to visit Hariri at the latter's residence, "unless his MPs apologize for insults that targeted me and our demands are met."

Conversely, Progressive Socialist party leader MP Walid Jumblatt slammed on Wednesday attempts to obstruct the prime minister-designate's efforts to form a cabinet.

Jumblatt had told As-Safir newspaper in remarks published Wednesday that Hariri has "exerted every effort" to facilitate cabinet formation." He revealed that Hariri was likely to "take new initiatives, in order to expedite and revive the formation process."

 "Hariri and I want a government that would act as a safety valve to face the challenges," Full Report at:


Terrorism in Saudi Arabia: Who is Developing it and Who Can Explain it?

By Mshari Al-Zaydi


Just before Ramadan, the Saudi security body revealed that it had discovered a network that supports and funds terrorism, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Interior.

What's different in this case, in comparison to the discovery and detainment of other cells in the past, is that the Interior Ministry's statement focused on the high academic qualifications obtained by the detainees, their experiences and mature ages, and this is evident in the positions they held. The statement mentioned that some of those suspects abused the trust that had been placed in them.

However, in my opinion, the most important issue that the statement tried to highlight was that those suspects did not only encourage and support [terrorism] but are in a more advanced stage of violent activity by religious groups; a stage in which there is experience and high-level qualifications. Some of them work as lecturers, some are established employees and others are businessmen. In other words, they are unlike the zealous young people who we used to watch read out their wills just before embarking on suicide operations – young people overwhelmed by religious zeal who would brandish their machine guns or hand grenades with passion.

The significance of all of this is the invalidation of the belief that terrorism is merely an expression of the frustration of deprived and poor young people. Even though this belief is not completely erroneous or far removed from the truth, this link, between terrorism and poverty and political despotism, is incorrect and misleading when presented as the perfect explanation for the existence of terrorism in Islamic societies.

There is no doubt that the economic situation, affluence, and the availability of job opportunities – in other words a good economic situation and development – is one of the most important engines of politics and society. It also serves as the economic gateway to interpreting historical and current events and is important and indispensable to those who want to understand past events and the reasons they took place. The objection I do have here however is when the explanation [for terrorism] is limited to the economic situation and development. There are other reasons for political opposition and going against public order; these may be emotional, sentimental reasons directly linked to religion and to the extent to which you are content with your inner self. This is reached at the moment when the call for establishing the lost