New Age Islam
Mon Apr 22 2024, 12:40 PM

Islamic World News ( 17 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

'Saddam' Ban Threatens Sunni Stake In Iraq Elections

Iraq accuses UN of poll interference

Iraq's 'Chemical Ali' sentenced to death for Halabja attack

Non-Muslim can use ‘Allah’ in three states, FTs

Muslim Scholars Union Seeks Mediation in Yemen

Muslim-Christian clashes leave 12 dead in Nigeria

A meeting with Muslim neighbors shatters stereotypes

Saudi Arabia: No to Foreign Forces in Yemen, No to Internationalizing Houthi Conflict

Muslim clerics to get free healthcare

Muslim leaders' response to Gaza suffering 'pitiful': Turkish PM

British Muslims: Time to Correct Misperceptions

Muslim cleric acquitted of terror charges, 3 get 7-year jail

Al-Faisal an embarrassment to us

Shamsuddin Memorial Scholarship for aspiring Muslim teachers

What are we doing to solve issues of Muslim minorities?

Iran suspends pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia over religious police

Coverage of the Muslim Brotherhood's Election of a New General Guide

Turkey vs. Israel: Emerging Conflict of Strategic Interest

Obama Seeks to Turn Words Into Deeds on Diplomacy

 ANALYSIS-Wary donors to demand economic reforms from Yemen

Ahmadiyya Muslim community against women taking part in such contests, saying it's against Islam

Ban on burqa: Some questions

An excellent insight into terror mindset

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) yet to endorse edicts on hair, `ojek'

Internal Security Minister George Saitoti links Al-Shabaab to Muslim riots

Indonesian Muslims protest Egypt's Gaza wall

Bangalore: Don't brand Muslims as terrorists: Indian Union Muslim League

Judicial imposition of Muslim Law on a Hindu girl

Muslim Ulema delegation to go to Yemen for peace

Muslim, Christian NGOs meet over attacks on houses of worship

Iraq cabinet approves draft law to protect doctors

Afghanistan, Pakistan on the agenda as Defense Secretary Gates visits India this week

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL of this Page:


'Saddam' ban threatens Sunni stake in Iraq elections

By Arthur MacMillan (AFP)

Jan. 17, 2010

BAGHDAD — The decision to ban Iraqi election candidates accused of links with the Baath party of executed dictator Saddam Hussein could exclude Sunnis from the political arena and usher in new sectarian tensions.

The move also threatens to damage the March 7 ballot by creating a campaign battleground focused on past quarrels rather than a much needed search for solutions to myriad problems facing the war-torn country, analysts told AFP.

Leading Sunni politicians also voiced anger at an official blacklist that bars 500 candidates including defence minister Abdel Qader Jassem al-Obeidi from the vote, purportedly under a law that bans Baathists from all elections.

However, members of the committee of integrity and accountability whose job is to vet applicants and purge unsuitable contenders are themselves facing charges of illegitimacy as they have not been approved by parliament.

Those banned from the election, the second since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam but provoked an insurgency that saw tens of thousands die in sectarian bloodshed in 2006 and 2007, include prominent Sunni lawmaker Saleh al-Mutlak, a persistent critic of the government.

"The decision to exclude Mutlak and others means Iraq is getting dangerously close to a repeat of the heated, sectarian political atmosphere seen in the December 2005 elections," said Reidar Visser, a noted Iraq analyst.

"It means Iraqis will be looking to the past, focusing on settling scores, instead of facing the future and the many specific issues that need to be solved," added Visser who runs the Iraq-focused website

Sunnis largely boycotted Iraq's inaugural post-Saddam parliamentary election in 2005. The decision cleared the way for a dominant Shiite government to take power which exacerbated Sunni disenfranchisement and deepened the insurgency that later took the country to the brink of civil war.

Baath party membership was a key condition for obtaining a job and later gaining promotion in public sector employment during Saddam's regime.

A controversial process of de-Baathication was adopted by Washington diplomat Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, following the invasion which saw thousands of Saddam-era employees lose their jobs.

The decision to ban hundreds of election hopefuls almost seven years later shows fissures are still raw, according to Joost Hiltermann, an Iraq specialist and conflict studies analyst with the International Crisis Group think tank.

"It might well torpedo Iraq's hopes to have relatively free, fair and inclusive elections," he said.

"It shows that political groups are far from accommodating one another, let alone reconciling. If this decision is not reversed, we might well be facing a new and dangerous escalation of violence," he added.

According to election organisers around 6,500 candidates from 86 parties, comprising 12 coalitions as well as independents, have registered to compete in the March poll. The election is seen as crucial to consolidating Iraq's democracy and smoothing the path for a complete US military exit by the end of 2011 as planned.

Michael O'Hanlon, a national security and defence policy expert and senior author of the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan Index projects at the Brookings Institute in Washington, said the candidates' ban was a setback.

"I'm very, very worried about this, the lack of transparency, the quality of the decisions, the huge number of people affected all bode quite badly," he said.

Khalaf al-Alayane, a Sunni MP, meanwhile, insisted the ban was illegal, because "the committee itself is not professionally approved, and MPs refused to vote positively for anyone on the committee."

"Those decisions will affect the national reconciliation process and the national interest, especially after all this time and being able to pass many obstacles," he said, alluding to past sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.


Iraq accuses UN of poll interference

17 January 2010

BAGHDAD: An Iraqi committee which barred 500 politicians and parties from running in March elections accused the United Nations on Sunday of interferring in its decisions.

The committee of integrity and accountability "disapproves the request made by UN special envoy Ad Melkert to the independent electoral commission not to exclude names of individuals," it said in a statement.

The committee called on the UN "representative to stop interferring in the affairs of the institutions of Iraq, a sovereign country governed by laws which have been voted by the people."

A UN spokesman in Baghdad declined to confirm or deny whether Melkert had made any such request to the electoral commission.

A diplomatic source told AFP meanwhile that Melkert had met with members of the commission on Saturday but did not reveal the nature of their talks.

The committee of integrity and accountability is tasked with vetting applicants and purging unsuitable contenders vying to contest the March 7 polls.

Among the most prominent to be banned was Saleh al-Mutlak, a secular Sunni lawmaker who heads the National Dialogue Front, as well as Defence Minister Abdel Qader Jassem al-Obeidi.

According to the Independent High Electoral Commission, 500 potential candidates have been barred from running in the polls, including those accused of links with the Baath party of executed dictator Saddam Hussein.

Commission figures show about 6,500 candidates from 86 parties comprising 12 coalitions as well as independents have registered for the election, the second national parliamentary vote since Saddam's ouster.

The decision has been condemned by Sunni politicians who accuse the Shiite-led government of seeking to undermine efforts of national reconciliation.


Iraq's 'Chemical Ali' sentenced to death for Halabja attack

17 January 2010

Ali Hassan al-Majid also known as 'Chemical Ali'.

BAGHDAD: Saddam Hussein's notorious henchman "Chemical Ali" was on Sunday sentenced to death for ordering the gassing of Kurds in the Iraqi town of Halabja, a brutal attack that killed an estimated 5,000 people.

Ali Hassan al-Majid is to die by hanging, having been found guilty of the atrocity in the northeast of the country as the Iran-Iraq war drew to a close in 1988, an iconic moment that symbolised the barbarity of Saddam's regime.

The ruling, shown on the state-run Al-Iraqiya television channel, is the fourth time that Majid, better known by his macabre nickname, has received a death sentence. It is not known when he will finally be executed.

His execution has previously been held up by legal wrangling. The first conviction was due to have been carried out by October 2007 but delayed so as not to coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The hanging was also deferred because it needed approval from Iraq's three-member presidential council.

Judge Abud Mustapha al-Hamani branded Majid's offences as "deliberate murder, a crime against humanity" when the verdict was delivered amid muffled applause in the courtroom.

"Al hamdulillah, Al hamdulillah (praise be to God)," said Majid, who stood stone-faced in the dock in a traditional black- and gold-coloured Arab robe and black and white keffiyeh headdress, before the broadcast ended abruptly.

Three-quarters of the victims at Halabja were women and children, in what is thought to be the deadliest ever gas attack carried out against civilians.

"I am so happy at this verdict and I really would like to see him executed in front of my own eyes," said Shurnam Hassan, 45, who lost her husband and two sons in the attack.

Full report at:


Non-Muslim can use ‘Allah’ in three states, FTs

By Debra Chong

18, January, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 — Minister in Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz today said that non-Muslims are allowed to use the word “Allah” in three states — Penang, Sabah and Sarawak — and the Federal Territories.

He said this is because other states have enactments on Islam which prohibit the use of the term by non-Muslims.

Nazri (picture) had last week proposed that East Malaysian Christians be allowed to use the term, though maintained that it should remain prohibited to West Malaysians.

The controversy over the word started after a Dec 31, 2009 ruling by the High Court allowing a Catholic newspaper to use the term “Allah” to refer to the Christian God in its Bahasa Malaysia section.

The ruling sparked off Muslim anger across the country, and has seen attacks on 10 churches, a mosque, a Sikh temple, and a convent school.


Muslim Scholars Union Seeks Mediation in Yemen

17, January, 2010

The Union for Islamic Scholars decided on forming a delegation, headed by Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi in order to mediate between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels, to stop the ongoing conflict.

The council held a meeting this week in the Lebanese capital Beirut, headed by Al-Qaradawi, the council members were in the meeting, according to media sources.

However, the Union decided to seek reconciliation between the Yemeni government and the Southern Mobility; this decision came for the sake of the Yemeni Unity. In addition to keep the region out of the foreigner intervention, which may see their interests in repeating that in Yemen, in another way? Added the sources.

The Union's delegation to Yemen headed by Al-Qaradawi also includes a number of high-ranked Islamic Scholars from different Islamic nationalities. The delegation is expected to arrive in Yemen within the few coming days, after coordinating with the triangle parties.

The Board has heard during the meeting a report by Abdul Hadi Awang, the head of the Malaysian Islamic Party, following his visits to Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran aimed at finding a resolution for the conflict between the Yemeni government and Houthis, said the same sources.

Currently, Yemen is facing serious crisis, the Houthi Movement Northern Yemen, the Southern Mobility that seeks separation from North Yemen and Al-Qaeda operatives' existence in Yemen, which influenced foreigner consideration.

Yemen Post Staff


Muslim-Christian clashes leave 12 dead in Nigeria

January 18, 2010

* Several houses, vehicles burnt, night-time curfew imposed

* Plateau state police commissioner says 35 people have been arrested

JOS: Clashes erupted between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria’s central city of Jos on Sunday, leaving at least 12 people dead and prompting the government to impose a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

The city was placed under a night-time curfew between 6pm and 6am to ease tensions that began early on Sunday after an argument arose on the rebuilding of homes destroyed in the November 2008 clashes, residents said. A Reuters correspondent counted 12 bodies at Jos University Teaching Hospital and at the city’s main mosque.

“I cannot give casualty figures now until my men complete their full investigation,” he said.

Arrested: Thirty-five people were arrested,” said Gregory Anyating, police commissioner for Plateau state – of which Jos is the capital.

Several houses and vehicles were also burnt in the fighting between Muslims and Christians in the city’s Nassarawa Gwom area, said journalist and resident Musa Habibu, AFP reported.

Plateau state police spokesman Mohammed Lerema said the situation had been brought under control and several people had been detained, some of them found with guns and ammunition.

Jos has been a hotbed of religious violence in central Nigeria.

In November 2008 hundreds of people were killed in two days of violence triggered by a rumour that the majority-Muslim All Nigeria People’s Party had lost a local election to the mainly Christian Peoples Democratic Party. Soldiers and policemen were brought in to restore order.

State officials put the death toll at about 200 but other sources gave the death toll at twice that figure.

Religious violence has also erupted in nearby northern Nigeria.

Last month at least 70 people were killed in violent clashes between security forces and members of a radical sect in the country’s northern Bauchi State.

More than 200 ethnic groups generally live peacefully side by side in the West African country, although civil war left one million people dead between 1967 and 1970 and there have been bouts of religious unrest since then. agencies\01\18\story_18-1-2010_pg7_6


A meeting with Muslim neighbours shatters stereotypes

Linda Trompetter

Jan 18 2010

MY UNIVERSITY philosophy class is just about to begin, and students are sliding into their chairs, turning their cell phones to silent and removing their music player ear buds. Just before I greet everyone, a young man says, “Miriam, when are you going to get rid of that thing and become a real American?” It isn’t said out loud, but in a sort of stage whisper, which is meant to be both heard and unheard.

Miriam is Muslim, wears the hijab, a head scarf, and was born and raised in Northeastern Pennsylvania. She has decided to wear the hijab to honor her religious belief that modesty in dress for both men and women is a desirable value. This value, so at odds with American tell-all, show-all, free-for-all popular culture, can make those who cherish it seem at odds with their environment.

Many of her student colleagues secretly believe that Miriam is forced by her family to wear the hijab. They find it difficult to believe that someone would choose to be “different,” even though they themselves make decisions every day to honor values they and their families cherish. Since this is a philosophy of religion class, I decide it is time to visit the local mosque in Wilkes-Barre, and give my students the opportunity to experience the warm hospitality typical of their Muslim neighbors and to discover for themselves the inaccuracy of their stereotypes.

Full report at:


Saudi Arabia: No to Foreign Forces in Yemen, No to Internationalizing Houthi Conflict

January 17, 2010

The Saudi Al-Watan daily reports that, at the London Conference on Yemen, slated for January 28, 2010, Saudi Arabia plans to support the Yemeni government and Yemen's unity, to emphasize the importance of aid for this country's development, and reject any interference in its affairs, as well as any proposal to deploy foreign forces there or internationalize the Houthi conflict.

It should be recalled that Saudi Arabia agreed to participate in the conference only on condition that the Yemeni government participate also.


Muslim clerics to get free healthcare


The East Java provincial government has decided to provide free healthcare to clerics who run Islamic boarding schools across the province, Deputy Governor Saifullah Yusuf said Saturday.

Quoted by Antara state news agency, he said the initiative would help prevent clerics from suffering serious illnesses.

“Most Muslim clerics who sought medical treatment at Dr. Soetomo General Hospital were already in a severe condition,” Saifullah said.

This often led to the worsening health condition of the cleric, Saifullah added.

He publicly unveiled the plan for free medical care for clerics after accompanying East Java Governor Soekarwo in a meeting with influential cleric KH Mas Subadar at the Roudlotul Ulum Islamic boarding school in Pasuruan regency.

Soekarwo’s entourage also included former East Java governor Imam Utomo.

Saifullah said the government’s medical team, including specialists, would visit the clerics or their Islamic boarding schools every three months for a health checkup.

The move will be part of preventive measures to keep local Muslim clerics healthy, he added.

Due to their deep-rooted influence in society, Muslim clerics have always been figures that politicians must visit ahead of national or regional elections.

Governor Soekarwo was quoted by Antara as saying the funds for the free health care program would be allocated from the East Java provincial budget.

Last October, Soekarwo also said his administration would provide operational funds for Islamic boarding schools (pesantren) and Islamic school students.

The Rp 185 billion fund will be allocated from the provincial budget, together with the fund for improving and developing teachers’ skills, he added.

The governor said the program would be fully implemented next year.

He said the student program would include more than 760,000 pesantren students and nearly 150,000 from Islamic junior high schools.

The operational fund will also be provided to more than 750,000 pupils (santri) of elementary school level and more than 100,000 junior high school students.

Under the program each student, the government said, would receive between Rp 15,000 and Rp 20,000 per month.

Saifullah also said the provincial administration planned to issue a bylaw on a one-roof education management system that would unite formal and informal pesantren education under the authority of one administrative agency.

Currently, formal education comes under the authority of the education agency, while pesantren or other religious education is under the religious affairs agency.

According to Soekarwo, the new program is intended to improve the teaching skills of teachers at pesantren to ensure they have the same level of skills as teachers at formal education institutions.


Muslim leaders' response to Gaza suffering 'pitiful': Turkish PM

(AFP) – 17 January 2010

ISTANBUL — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday decried what he called Muslim leaders' inadequate response to Palestinian suffering in the Gaza Strip as "pitiful."

He made the remarks when asked to compare the attitude of other Muslim countries to Turkey's vehement outbursts against Israel over its devastating war on Gaza last year and its ongoing blockade of the impoverished enclave.

"The governments have failed to display the reactions that the world's Muslims expected from them. And this has been a pitiful aspect of the matter," Erdogan told reporters.

He spoke shortly before flying to the United Arab Emirates and then on to Saudi Arabia.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak met with Turkish officials in Ankara on Sunday, eager to defuse tensions between the two nations.

Once-flourishing Turkish-Israeli ties took a sharp downturn last year when Erdogan's Islamist-rooted government launched an unprecedented barrage of criticism of Israel's war on Gaza.

In a memorable outburst, Erdogan stormed out of a debate at the World Economic Forum, accusing the Jewish state of "barbarian" acts and telling its President Shimon Peres, sitting next to him, that "you know well how to kill people".

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved. More »


British Muslims: Time to Correct Misperceptions

By Mr. Mujibul Islam

Jan. 17, 2010

Every community has its share of good and bad. In recent years, there have been a number of convictions of some Muslim youth for terrorism-related crimes. We are also sadly aware that our community is overrepresented in the prison population. However, we forget that in the medical and some other professions the Muslim community outdo others. The issue does not have to be black and white.

Crisis of Muslim Youth

The Muslim community's demographic profile shows that young people constitute a great proportion of the community when compared with other age groups. Moreover, they live for the most part in socially and economically deprived neighborhoods, and their parents are likely to be unemployed.

There is a big problem of role models, and young people seem to be polarized within two groups:

1. Those who have managed to break out of this suffocating environment through education and their own willpower

2. Those who have lost hope and ambition and thus spiraled down to become society's rejects

The work of Muslim community activists, like in the Muslim Council of Britain's Youth Committee, is to provide encouragement and pathways to those young people in the latter group in order to move them to the former group.

Media Misperceptions

But when one sees the depiction of young British Muslims in the media, most often than not it has to do with their extremism and disloyalty to the state, along with other negative connotations one can think of. The message portrayed is blunt: Young Muslims are a liability for the country. A few agenda-driven think tanks and a section of our political class want to make sure that Muslims remain marginalized in society.

British Muslims' Activism

This is far from the truth. The reality is that up and down the country, young British Muslims within their local, regional, and national groups are quietly working away for their communities and building the nation. Many young Muslims have shown themselves to surpass the names that have been attached to them, and to continue with their inherent drive to help others by volunteering their time and their energy for amazing projects. Traveling across the country, I have witnessed the passion and commitment by them to improve the future of young British Muslims and the future of Britain. Furthermore, a Gallup survey showed that 82 percent of British Muslims are loyal to this country. Having strong religious identities does not prevent strong national sentiments.

Full report at:


Muslim cleric acquitted of terror charges, 3 get 7-year jail


A Muslim cleric, who was arrested and charged with indulging in terror activities, was acquitted Saturday by a Mumbai court, his lawyer said here.

Three others involved in the same case -- all residents of Kashmir -- have been found guilty and sentenced up to seven years in jail under various charges by Additional Sessions Judge V.P. Patkar of the Sewri fast track court.

The Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) nabbed Maulana Mohammed Ghulam Yahya, the Imam of Haj House, in January 2006 for criminal conspiracy, terrorism, harbouring terrorists and related issues, said his lawyer D.U. Mirajkar.

Three persons were found living in the Haj House - Haji M.R. Abdul Wahab, K.A. Abdul Gani Lone, A.H. Badru Hussain. The police recovered several arms, ammunitions, timers, remotes, detonators and other explosives from the trio.

The Imam and the Kashmiri trio were arrested and charged under various sections of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act by the ATS, Mirajkar said.

The Kashmiri trio had earlier spent time in Kashmir jails under preventive detention before they came to Mumbai.

'The charges against the Imam could not be proved and he was acquitted,' said Mirajkar.

Shortly after the Imam stepped out of the court, a large crowd of prominent Muslims, including Maulana Ejaz Kashmiri, Imam of Handiwadi Mosque and Bombay Aman Committee president Farid Shaikh, greeted and hugged him.

The Imam immediately offered a thanksgiving 'namaz' in the court premises and later was taken away by his supporters shouting victory slogans.

Despite repeated attempts by IANS, special prosecutor Raja Thakre, who represented the state of Maharashtra, was not available for comment.


Al-Faisal an embarrassment to us

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dear Editor,

What happens when a Jamaican national migrates to another country and receives teaching or advanced training in a non-productive way that is detrimental to his social standing? It casts a bad image on Jamaica.

This seems to be the case with Muslim Cleric Sheikh al-Faisal (born Trevor Forrest). In the November 30, 2009 edition of the Observer, I stated why all deportees should be classified. Al-Faisal is a prime example. Indeed, he is a citizen of Jamaica by birth and no one can deny him access. However, he was taught and trained in a foreign territory and not in Jamaica. For example, he was converted to Islam and completed eight years of studies at a university in Saudi Arabia. He resided in the United Kingdom for 26 years and was deported from that country on May 25, 2007 after spending time in prison for criminal offences.

I am not in a position to make any judgment on whether or not he has been rehabilitated, but based on his profile he should be considered a dangerous man. What sets each deportee apart are their educational attainment, training and experience, as well as whether they have been truly rehabilitated and whether they can contribute to the society in productive and meaningful ways.

It is therefore al-Faisal's teaching that has made the difference, as well as his growing up in a different culture. His only connection to Jamaica is by birth, and he did not relinquish his citizenship or ties with Jamaica. Therefore, Jamaica has to accommodate such an individual in a country that already has a tarnished image. Abdullah al-Faisal has created a bad image for himself and has cast a bad shadow on everybody living in Jamaica, especially the Muslim group whose members are law-abiding citizens. Upon his arrival, authorities will have their work cut out for them in order to monitor his whereabouts.

Charlie Brown-


Shamsuddin Memorial Scholarship for aspiring Muslim teachers

17 January 2010

Bhatkal: In a press note issued to us, Mr. Abdul Rahim Jukaku – Gen. Secretary Anjum Hami-e-Muslimeen stated that, “In order to encourage our community members to join Anjuman's institutions as faculty has been recognized as amajor step to improve the standard of education in our community in general and of Anjuman institutions in particular.  Anjuman had therefore started the Anjuman College of Education to teach B.Ed course in Bhatkal two years ago.  However it is found that very few members of our community opt to join this course.  We have also announced the Shamsuddin Memorial Scholarship Scheme for granting tuition fees for Muslim candidates.  Alhamdulillah we were successful to attract few students last year and they have completed the course.  However we need to award more number of scholarship for this course and therefore it is requested all the aspiring Muslim teachers to utilize this facility as early as possible because the last date for admission is nearing”.

In a joint meeting with the Anjuman executive the members of Khaleej Council had promised to help in awarding this scholarship with the condition that the awardees will have to sign an agreement to serve Anjuman for minimum of five years.

For more information on this scheme please contact office Anjuman Hami-e-Muslimeen, Bhatkal.


What are we doing to solve issues of Muslim minorities?

By Faraz Omar

Three hundred million Muslims – one-fifth of the Ummah’s population – live as minorities today. The challenges they face in an increasingly hostile world are largely incomprehensible to those living in Muslim-majority countries. To be clear, each country differs in its political and strategic matters, and it would be incorrect to assume that hostility exists in every country.

Nevertheless, one cannot ignore developing world events and the pressure they will subsequently exert on Muslim minorities. The Swiss ban on minarets; French aversion to burqa; Danish blasphemy; and the American call for assimilation are strong indicators of how the West now views Muslims.

Indeed, some may argue that this is the world Muslims have created for themselves. That the small minority of Muslims accused of spreading violence and crime in conflict-ridden zones is responsible for the worldwide hatred and prejudice against Islam. It does not seem to matter, however, that the cause of such terror is unjust war and occupation.

Other “experts” say Europe fears its “weak” character will be overpowered by the “strong” culture of Muslim minorities.

“When an insecure, malleable, relativistic culture meets a culture that is anchored, confident and strengthened by common doctrines, it is generally the former that changes to suit the latter,” said Christopher Caldwell, senior editor of the right-wing US publication The Weekly Standard in a recent interview with Spiegel Online.

Whatever may be the cause of the current Islamophobia, the result borne out is the same: Muslims will find little acceptance in 21st century Western societies.

Caldwell further says: “Islam poses difficulties that other immigrant groups do not […] A lot of overly optimistic people expect Muslims to give up, or to modify, their religion over time.”

What seems to be the prime concern for Caldwell – and the increasing number of right-wing extremists – is whether Muslims will eventually give up their religion to “assimilate” with the West.

But it’s not Western countries I want to focus on – they have a right to define the kind of society they want. I want to question the Muslim World, the Ummah that we dream to portray to the world as being the perfect nation. What have we done to help those affected Muslim minorities? Fifty seven Muslim countries – making up one-third of the world – exist. Yet our brethren-in-faith have to go through humiliation to preserve their identity! Which Muslim country is ready to welcome them? Are they not entitled to be governed by their own laws?

It is hypocritical to condemn China and France while we ourselves extend no helping hand to the Muslims living there. Our foe Israel grew stronger with the power of Jewish immigration – aliyah, as it’s called in the Jewish religion. A Jew gets citizenship on arrival in Israel.

Full report at:


Iran suspends pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia over religious police

AFP: 17 January 2010

TEHRAN: Iran has suspended pilgrimages to the Muslim holy places until Saudi religious police end their "appalling behaviour" towards Iranian Shiite pilgrims, an official told AFP today.

"The reason for the suspension is because the way the agents of the Saudi Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice have been dealing with our pilgrims," the head of public relations of the Iranian hajj and pilgrimage organisation Abdollah Nassiri said.

"The umra has been suspended and not halted," Nassiri added, referring to the so-called less pilgrimage that is carried out throughout the year unlike the annual hajj which was held most recently late last year.

"Our move is not political, it is religious," he said. "Since we are Shiites, we have different rituals, like reciting the special pilgrimage prayers in Mecca and Medina mosques, which has resulted in their agents rudely confronting our pilgrims and we want this to be corrected and stopped."

Saudi Arabia is governed according to an ultra-strict version of Sunni Islam and relies on the religious police of the the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice to enforce such rules.

Iranian pilgrims all travel to the Muslim holy places under the auspices of the hajj and pilgrimage organisation so its decision effectively suspends their travel until further notice.


Coverage of the Muslim Brotherhood's Election of a New General Guide

Posted by Shadi Hamid

January 17, 2010

As some of you may have heard, yesterday, the Muslim Brotherhood announced the election of a new general guide, Mohammed Badie. It turned out to be a fraught and controversial internal election, pitting "conservatives" against "reformists" (for background see here and here). There has already been quite a bit of speculation on what these internal divisions might mean for the Middle East's largest and most influential Islamist movement. One hopes the Obama administration is watching carefully, particularly as Egypt is soon to hold both parliamentary and presidential elections.

I will have more to write on this in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, I will be covering Badie's election, the aftermath, and, possibly, the fallout on twitter. You can follow me on twitter here. I will try to use the hash mark #MBegypt for my tweets, so feel free to use it as well to join the conversation.


Turkey vs. Israel: Emerging Conflict of Strategic Interest

Jan 17, 2010

The mass media in Israel, Turkey and the Arab world, have been preoccupied in the last few days by another sudden and rather serious diplomatic crisis in the Turkish-Israeli relations. This time the insult was initiated by the Israelis intentionally, and apparently orchestrated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It came at the anniversary of last years diplomatic scuffle that embarrassed many Turks and Israelis, who believed that the two countries were strategic partners with common interests in the Middle East.

As you may recall, it was about a year ago when the charismatic and rhetorical Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr. Tayyip Erdogan, criticized Israel publicly, in an International forum, for its brutal attack on Gaza a few months earlier, which had thousands of innocent victims. The Israeli President, Mr. Peres, who was present at the Davos International Meeting, apparently took offense by it, but Erdogan scored political points among peoples in the Middle East and beyond. He became a kind of hero for the Muslim masses for having the courage to say publically what other Muslim leaders would whisper only privately.

Since then the situation has not improved, in spite of Israeli efforts to patch up the conflict. The recent incident will make a bad situation even worse diplomatically, with unforeseen consequences for the future of the Turkish-Israeli relations and possible political re-alignments in the Middle East. Indeed, the rudeness of this episode was rather unusual for the diplomatic chronicles, even with ME standards. The Turkish Ambassador, Mr. Celikkol, was invited by the Israeli Undersecretary of State, Mr. Ayalon, to a meeting ostensibly to receive the official expression of the displeasure of the Israeli Government for a Turkish TV serial, which portrayed Israeli agents, and Israeli people in general, in a negative light.

Mr. Ayalon arranged so that his displeasure would be visible as well as audible to Turks and Israelis. In front of the rolling cameras he refused to shake hands with the Ambassador of Turkey; he had the Turkish flag removed from the table in the meeting room; he placed the visitor in a law couch, while he and his assistants were sited on high armchairs looking down on the Turkish diplomat, who looked uncomfortable in this strange and undiplomatic arrangement. But the Turks got the message he meant to send them, and not surprisingly reacted furiously, as befits men when they are insulted.

The President of Turkey, Mr. Gul, issued an ultimatum demanding a formal apology by the Israeli Government, which found itself in an embarrassing situation by the rude acts of its diplomats. It took the intervention of the President of Israel, Mr. Peres, to persuade the Netanyahu Government, which had supported Ayalons actions, to provide Turkey with the apology which it demanded and deserved in this case. At the end, the Israeli Deputy Minister made a “diplomatic statement” stating that he “had no intention to personally humiliate” the Turkish Ambassador. This could only mean, in this context, that the Israelis intention was to insult and humiliate the State of Turkey itself, through its Ambassador.

Full report at:



Obama Seeks to Turn Words Into Deeds on Diplomacy

Jan 17, 2010

WASHINGTON—A year after promising a fresh approach to U.S. foreign policy by offering to engage foes like Iran, President Barack Obama is under pressure for results on an array of diplomatic initiatives.

By trying to pursue dialogue with Iran, pushing for better ties with Moscow and Beijing and reaching out to the Muslim world, Obama devoted much of the first year of his presidency to improving the tone of U.S. relations abroad.

His message of a major break from the "cowboy diplomacy" of the George W. Bush years came across loud and clear.

This year will likely bring fewer dramatic gestures and a greater focus on seeking tangible results, analysts said.

Can Obama persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions or if not, can he mobilize world powers to push for tougher sanctions on the Islamic Republic? Can he make progress with a recalcitrant North Korea? Can he keep tensions with China, the largest U.S. creditor, from hindering cooperation?

These questions loom as Obama seeks to wind down the Iraq war while escalating the conflict in Afghanistan.

"Great expectations have run into daunting challenges and the daunting challenges are winning," said James Lindsay, a former aide to President Bill Clinton.

"A lot of Year One of the Obama administration is the year of the word, or better yet the year of the speech," said Lindsay, now with the Council on Foreign Relations. "He's gone about as far as he can in terms of outlining his aspirations and now it's time to turn word into deed."

Domestic politics could limit Obama's room to maneuver in foreign policy.

Public anxiety over double-digit U.S. unemployment and healthcare reform have pushed Obama's approval ratings below 50 percent versus 70 percent when he took office.

Analysts say this fall in popularity limits Obama's room for taking foreign policy risks, as do elections in November in which his Democrat party will seek to maintain its majorities in both houses of Congress.

Conservatives criticized Obama's inaugural speech last year as naive for offering to extend a hand to adversaries like Iran and North Korea if they would "unclench" their fists.

Those offers yielded no breakthroughs. The Iranian situation was complicated the growth of a popular opposition movement after a disputed presidential election on June 12.

Full report at:


ANALYSIS-Wary donors to demand economic reforms from Yemen

By Ulf Laessing

17 Jan 2010

SANAA, (Reuters) - Western and Gulf Arab donors want to help Yemen escape the poverty on which al Qaeda thrives, but new aid will not flow unless President Ali Abdullah Saleh enacts reforms and tackles corruption, diplomats and analysts say.

U.S. and Saudi concern that al Qaeda is gaining safe havens in the unstable Arab country to plan and launch attacks elsewhere has soared since the group's Yemen-based wing said it was behind a failed Dec. 25 attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner.

A British-hosted conference on Jan. 27 will discuss how the outside world can help Yemen counter radicalisation and promote reform, but participants will be aware that the government has yet to spend most of the $4.7 billion pledged by donors in 2006.

Transport Minister Khaled al-Wazir has said $617 million of that total will be disbursed on transport projects this year and blamed delays on long feasibility studies and tendering holdups.

But diplomats say inefficient bureaucracy and a lack of transparency in tenders have helped clog the aid pipeline.

"This time we need a mechanism (to ensure) that money goes into projects and economic reforms are being undertaken to gradually lower dependence on foreign aid. It can't be business as usual," said a Western diplomat in the capital Sanaa.

Yemen faces daunting challenges, including a revolt by Zaid Shi'ite tribesmen in the north and separatist unrest in the south. Government control is feeble in parts of the impoverished country of 23 million. Roughly half the population is under 15 years of age.

Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi said last week Yemen needs about $4 billion a year in aid to revive its economy and improve living standards for a population set to double in 20 years. [ID:nLAE436753]

Government revenue from Yemen's limited oil exports fell 70 percent in the first 10 months of 2009, official figures show, and new gas exports cannot fully offset the decline.

Saleh is the West's main partner in fighting al Qaeda in Yemen, even though diplomats say his rule is tainted by graft and under challenge from disaffected Yemenis.

Full report at:


Ahmadiyya Muslim community against women taking part in such contests, saying it's against Islam

By Omar Mosleh

January 16, 2010

At first glance, the soft-spoken, mild-mannered woman is not what you would expect from a beauty queen.

But then again, not many beauty queens have done what Tahmena Bokhari has.

She has learned five languages, helped victims of natural disasters, and spent years living in third-world conditions in Pakistan.

To many, Vaughan native Ms Bokhari is a world of contradictions.

She's Canadian, but Pakistani. She's Muslim, but also a feminist. She is a Seneca College professor, a social activist, married and, to top it all off, Mrs. Pakistan World.

But to Ms Bokhari, she is none of these. She is simply Tahmena.

"For me, as a Pakistani woman, I really feel that we have to find a way to balance all these identities," she said. "It shouldn't have to be one or the other, because all of them shape who we are."

Ms Bokhari is used to juggling multiple identities.

Born in Toronto and raised in both Pakistan and Vaughan, her cultural identity is as diverse as her experiences.

She is the fourth winner of Mrs. Pakistan World, a beauty pageant that focuses more on achievements than looks.

There's no bikini contest, but there is a series of interviews that includes questions such as how the India-Pakistan conflict should be resolved.

At five-foot-five and 32 years old, Ms Bokhari differs from the image that might come up when you think of a beauty queen. She is pretty, but not the type to make crowds stop in their tracks. But that's not why she was selected.

"Her community work was so extensive, so we saw her as a very strong contender," said Sonia Ahmed, president of Mrs. Pakistan World.

Extensive might be an understatement. A graduate of the University of Toronto, she has a master's degree in social work. She's travelled to more than 20 countries to help people in need. She spent six weeks in Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake that left the country's social infrastructure in ruins.

Full report at:


Ban on burqa: Some questions

Iman Kurdi

January 17, 2010

THERE is a man in Britain who is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison yet could walk free if he agreed to do something we all do every day. Stephen Gough is known as the naked rambler. Twice he has walked from Land’s End to John O’Groats - the two extremities of Britain - wearing nothing but socks and a pair of boots. And on both occasions and on numerous occasions since, he has been ar-rested and thrown in jail for appearing naked in public. Every time he leaves jail, he is told he can be free if he puts some clothes on. But no sooner is he out of the gates of the jail than he strips naked again and is arrested for do-ing so. The result is that he has spent most of the last seven years in prison and might spend the rest of his life in prison unless he changes his mind and starts to wear clothes. Why? Why would anyone choose to walk around naked? To most of us his lifestyle choice seems not only bizarre but insane. Gough claims he is making a stand for individual freedom. He should have the right to wear clothes or not; it is a matter of individual choice. The law disagrees. It is an offense to appear naked in public.

At the other end of the scale, it may soon become an offense to walk down the street entirely covered from head to toe. Not in Britain, but in neighboring France. The covering could be any kind of clothing but is likely to be the black cloth that covers head, body and face known as the burqa. French President Nico-las Sarkozy has made it clear that some kind of legislation will be implemented and has stated that the burqa “is not welcome in France”. And why is it not wel-come? Because it runs “contrary to French values and contrary to French ideas of a woman’s dignity.” This last word, “dignity”, is the key. Politicians and commentators use it again and again on this matter. Take for instance Fadela Amara, the French secretary of state for urban policies, a Muslim woman and a veteran feminist campaigner. She has stated that she is against the burqa because it diminishes the dignity of women. For her it is not a religious issue but a gender equality issue. It is in order to protect the rights of women that the burqa is to be banned.

Full report at:


An excellent insight into terror mindset

By Lokesh Kumar

January 24, 2010

My Friend the Fanatic: Travels with a Radical Islamist, Sadanand Dhume, Tranquebar Press, Pp 274, Rs 395.00 (HB)

MY Friend the Fanatic is a portrait of the world’s most populous Muslim land, Indonesia which was once synonymous with tolerance but which today finds itself in the midst of a profound shift towards radical Islam. Working as a reporter for the Far Eastern Economic Review and the Asian Wall Street Journal in Bali, the author, who happens to be a writer and journalist, visits the site of a massive car-bomb blast where 140 bags with unidentified body parts are being sent for burial. He learns that on that fateful night, it was as though “the dead had been vapourised, leaving behind only ash and glass and plastic.”

The author says Islam is a relatively recent import to the archipelago – “it washed up in the 12th century, took root in the 15th and became dominant as late as 17th.” He describes womaniser Sukarno’s rule followed by his successor Suharto’s, whose weakness was wealth and for whom nothing was out of bounds – “a monopoly on wheat imports, a cut from oil exports, an attempt to corner the clove market, a protected national car project.”

The author, an Indian atheist with a fondness for literary fiction and an interest in economic development, befriends a Muslim, Herry Nurdi, a 27-year old managing editor of an influential Islamic magazine to travel through Indonesia. Herry looks upon Jews and Americans as his enemies and believes that every Muslim must know how to fight and is even scolded by a local journalist for allowing the author Dhume access into “places he might not have as easily accessed otherwise.” Herry has a wife but wants to marry another woman, particularly from Jordan so as to be able to enter Palestine. He says that when he visits Mecca, he prays at the Kaaba “to make my family a Muslim family and to make every member of this family either the pen or the sword of Islam.” He also believes that Islam holds all of life’s answers and aims to impose its intolerant version of Utopia on the country’s fledgling democracy. The author’s attachment to the country’s fading culture of pluralism and the inherent tension of his friendship with Herry supply the emotional stuff to this memoir.

The other characters in the novel include a televangelist, the soon-to-be head of Indonesia’s most influential Muslim organisation and the notorious militant Abu Bakr Bashir, a spiritual head of the Jemaah Islamiyah terror group that is implicated in various attacks. The author divides the Muslims of Indonesia into two groups — those who recite the Quran and describe the episodes from the Prophet’s life to inadvertently reveal that Islam is intrinsically violent; and second, the apologists who subscribe to the terrorist-brochure version of Islam as a “religion of peace”. However the apologists may not subscribe to imposition of Islamic law, but they share the dualistic conviction that the Quran is undoubtedly the world of God. To quote Dhume, “One couldn’t escape the irony that on the whole, the deepening democracy (in Indonesia) had gone hand in hand with a darkening intolerance.”

Full report at:


The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) yet to endorse edicts on hair, `ojek'


The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has not endorsed the fatwas issued at a recent gathering of Muslim clerics in East Java, a council leader has said.

The leader, Cholil Ridwan, added that he personally supported them.

The MUI does not discuss issues until the public sees them as essential and asks the council to begin a discussion, Cholil said.

"The MUI must issue a fatwa *on the issue* if there is a request from an institution or individual. As long as there is no request, the MUI will focus on its work," Cholil was quoted by as saying.

He was commenting on the controversial issuance of fatwas by a gathering of East Java clerics that forbade Muslims from modifying their hair such as by dyeing and straightening it, and from holding pre-wedding photo sessions.

The same gathering had previously forbidden Muslims from using social networking site Facebook.

The edict was endorsed by 250 leaders of Islamic boarding schools in Java and Madura.

They said that hair straightening was haram for women as it could lead to immoral acts if the intention was to improve physical appearance.

"If we refer to the syariat *Islamic law*, I have no objection to the fatwa," Cholil said.

Separately, MUI deputy secretary Asrorun Ni'am Sholeh said the fatwa that forbids Muslims from straightening their hair should be put in the right context or the public would find it misleading.

"If the intention and the outcome are negative, then it should not be allowed. But if the intention and the outcome are positive, then it is recommended," he was quoted by Antara as saying.

Asrorun emphasized that straightening hair, known here as "rebonding", is a beautifying technique. It is permitted as long as the materials used do not harm users.

Full report at:


Internal Security Minister George Saitoti links Al-Shabaab to Muslim riots

By Margaret Kalekye

Jan 16, 2010

Caption: The Minister who said the government will open an inquiry into the violence said Kenya will deport the jailed Jamaican Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal without delay.

Internal Security Minister George Saitoti Saturday said demonstrations called by a group of Muslim youths to protest the arrest of a radical Jamaican muslim cleric were infiltrated by Al-Shabaab.

The Minister who appealed for calm blamed "violent foreign elements from a neighboring country" for the mayhem and assured Muslims in Kenya they would not be targeted and their civil liberties will be respected.

"This is an indication that some of our youth have been exposed to these ideas by foreign elements bent on ensuring that peace and security obtaining in our country is compromised," Saitoti told a news conference.

The Minister who said the government will open an inquiry into the violence said Kenya will deport the jailed Jamaican Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal without delay.

"Kenya will not be used as a playground by foreign criminals. We will chase them away," Saitoti said. "It is a matter of great insult that a the source of terrible misunderstandings among Kenyans."

"It has therefore been agreed and recommended that al-Faisal be deported without delay," the minister said.

Faisal was deported from Britain in 2007 for preaching racial hatred and urging his audiences to kill Jews, Hindus and Westerners. He was visiting Kenya for a preaching tour when he was taken into custody on December 31.

Attempts by the government to deport Faisal failed last week because Nigeria refused to give him a transit visa to Gambia. He is being held at Nairobi's industrial area awaiting deportation.

Full report at:


Indonesian Muslims protest Egypt's Gaza wall

(AFP) – Jan 17, 2010

JAKARTA — More than 200 Indonesian Muslims protested in Jakarta Sunday against an underground wall being built to block a network of tunnels crossing Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip.

The demonstrators from the Voice of Palestine support group carried banners reading "Stop Building Steel Wall on Gaza" and chanted "Die America, Die Egypt" in front of the Egyptian embassy.

After years of ignoring the tunnel smuggling -- which is used to bypass Israeli sanctions -- Egypt began building the wall after falling out with Hamas, the Islamist movement which rules Gaza.

"We demand Egypt to remove the wall on humanitarian grounds. Erecting the wall will cause the Palestinians to suffer economically. Food supply will be affected," the group's coordinator, Hisyam Sulaiman, 42, told AFP.

The network, which Hamas has been accused of using to smuggle weapons into the territory, has withstood Israeli air strikes and Egyptian attempts to flood the tunnels with water and gas.

Citing national security, Egypt is now building an underground iron wall in a bid to tighten its Sinai border with the restive Palestinian territory.

The United States has voiced its support for the wall's construction, saying it will stop arms smuggling.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, with 234 million people, is a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.


Bangalore: Don't brand Muslims as terrorists: Indian Union Muslim League

Jan 17 2010

Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) President and Union Minister of State for Tourism Sultan Ahmed today took strong exception to branding Muslims as terrorists.

''Muslims never encouraged or indulged in terrorists activities.

It is pitty to note that whenever terrorist activity takes place, the entire Muslim community was blamed for no reason. This should stop,'' he said, speaking at the valedictory of the two-day IUML National Conference here. He said ''Muslims have also made sacrifices for the country's freedom. They are working for maintaining national integrity.'' Calling upon the IUML members not to get disillusioned with such negative remarks, he urged them to maintain unity and fight against terrorism and protect the interests of the country. Stating that an awareness campaign would be initiated to make workers acquainted of constitutional provisions like human rights, he said the IUML was seriously considering to have a mechanism in the national and international levels to protect Muslims from human right violations. ''Formation of a Legal Aid Cell to provide legal assistance to needy people in the community is in the pipeline,'' he added.

He said empowerment of women has become very importament and inview of the impending constitutional changes providing special reservation for the women in the Parliament and State Legislative Assembly seats, IUML could not keep aloof from it.

IUML releases vision 2020; to form national level think tank

Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) proposes to set up a national-level think tank to create an organic intelligentsia which is lacking at present, IUML President and Minister of State for Tourism Sultan Ahmed said today.

Speaking at the valedicatory of the IUML national conference here, he said the conference had endorsed the Vision 2020 and it was proposed to include scholars from different fields including theology. ''The proposed think tank is expected to have a role in policy making. The activities would also involve regular interactions with ulemas of different streams,'' he added.

Full report at:


Judicial imposition of Muslim Law on a Hindu girl

By V Sundaram, IAS (Retd)

January 24, 2010

WHEN two or three years ago, the Supreme Court of India passed what I considered to be a patently illegal and unconstitutional order in a specific case, I wrote an article in these columns under the title: ‘The darkest day in India’s Legal History’.

I am constrained to use the same words again in respect of a blatantly and patently illegal order recently passed by the Calcutta High Court. It is a matter of national shame for all the Hindu women of India that the Calcutta High Court on December 17, 2009 granted the anticipatory bail plea of a 26-year-old youth from Murshidabad who had been accused of kidnapping and marrying a 15-year-old Hindu minor girl.

One Sairul Sheikh, a resident of Bakultala in Behrampore, has been accused of kidnapping and forcibly marrying a Hindu minor girl called Anita Roy. Anita’s mother Jyotsna had lodged a complaint with Behrampore Police Station that her daughter had been missing since October 14. On October 15, she came to know that Sairul Sheikh had ‘kidnapped and married’ her minor daughter.

A Division Bench of the Calcutta High court consisting of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh and Justice S P Talukdar allowed Sheikh’s plea after his lawyers submitted that the marriage was legal under Muslim Personal Law. Holding the marriage to be legal, the Calcutta High Court Bench granted Sheikh’s anticipatory bail application.

Even if Sairul Sheikh had married a minor Muslim girl then he would have been entitled to the full benefit of Muslim Personal Law. But he has no right to impose that Islamic law upon the Hindu men and women of India in general and Hindu minor girls in particular. He cannot claim kidnapping of a Hindu minor girl or rape of a Hindu minor girl as a legitimate ‘minority right’ under the Indian Constitution!!

The Calcutta High Court has given a new and twisted illegal interpretation to Muslim Personal Law. By denying legitimate legal relief to the Hindu minor girl Anita and her mother Jyotsna under The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 (Courtesy: Website of Ministry of Women and Child Development, GOI, the Calcutta High Court has made the Hindus of India stateless non-persons similar to the status of non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia.

Full report at:


Muslim Ulema delegation to go to Yemen for peace

17 January 2010


Tehran : World Union of Muslim Ulema will dispatch a delegation to Yemen to make compromise between Yemen government and Zeydi Shia Muslims.

According to the report of public relations office of World Assembly for Proximity among Muslim Schools, the body in its meeting on January 15-16 in Beirut decided to send a delegation to Yemen.

Secretary General of World Assembly for Proximity among Muslim Schools Ayatollah Taskhiri, who is also deputy head of World Union of Muslim Ulema would be among delegation members.

The Union, which is an independant organization, founded in 2005 in London and its headquarters is in Beirut.


Muslim, Christian NGOs meet over attacks on houses of worship

17 January 2010

KUANTAN, Sun: Seventeen Muslim non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and 13 Christian NGOs in Pahang met today to seek consensus in addressing the issue of attacks on houses of worship recently.

Among the NGOs involved were the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement (Abim), Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia, All-Malaysia Federation of Muslim Undergraduates, the Kuantan Baptist Church, Kuantan Chapel and Victory Assembly.

Abim deputy president Amidi Abdul Manan said a muhibah (solidarity) statement would be disseminated to the people in Pahang, besides proposing to all NGOs nationwide to hold such meetings as the result was positive.

"We held this meeting as we realised that unity depended on harmonious co-existence of the various races and that everyone has a role to play in preserving peace and prosperiy in this country," he said after the meeting here.

Meanwhile, a representative of the Christian priests here, George Lau, urged all quarters to respect the provisions on religion in the Federal Constitution.

"As NGOs, we urge the parties responsible to end the disturbance which has caused uneasiness among the public," he said.

Lau said those who attacked churches and mosques (over the "Allah" issue) should be immediately brought to book.

He said that NGOs would always support initiatives to enhance interaction and understanding among people of different religions. -- BERNAMA


Iraq cabinet approves draft law to protect doctors

17 January 2010

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi doctors would be allowed to carry weapons under a law approved by the cabinet on Sunday to help protect physicians subjected to kidnapping, murder and tribal demands for blood money from relatives of dead patients.

The law, which must still be passed by parliament, could help prevent doctors from fleeing war-shattered Iraq and encourage those abroad to come back.

Many doctors, particularly in the south, complain about a tribal tradition where the family of a patient who dies while in a doctor's care demands payment.

The draft law foresees a possible prison sentence of three years or a fine of no less than 10 million Iraqi dinars (around $8,000) against anyone who demands a tribal settlement from a doctor.

"The draft law is a gesture from the Iraqi government for doctors and specialists ... to protect them from attacks and the tribal demands resulting from their medical work," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement.

Doctors fled Iraq by the thousands during the explosion of violence between majority Shi'ites and minority Sunni Arabs in the years following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Considered among the elite of Iraqi society, medical specialists became a target for insurgents, militias and kidnappers in search of rich ransoms. Hundreds have been killed since 2003.

The law would also allow the government to lift Iraq's usual retirement age of 63 and let doctors work until 70 if they are needed, and to build residential compounds for physicians near hospitals and other health institutions.

(Reporting by Aseel Kami, editing by Jim Loney and Noah Barkin)


Afghanistan, Pakistan on the agenda as Defense Secretary Gates visits India this week

January 17th, 2010

Defense Secretary Gates to visit India this week

WASHINGTON — Regional security, Afghanistan and the tense relations between India and Pakistan top the agenda for Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ meetings this week with India’s prime minister.

It will be the first high-level talks between the two nations since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was honored at the White House in November at the Obama administration’s first state dinner.

The Pentagon said Gates will meet with Singh, and the country’s external affairs and defense chiefs.

The Indian and U.S. militaries had little interaction in the Cold War years, when India was an ally of the Soviet Union, but now conduct joint military exercises and regular exchanges, and India is a big client for U.S. arms dealers.

Although India bought some $3.5 billion in U.S. weaponry in 2008, weapons sales were not to be the focus of the trip, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said.

The United States has been trying to pry India and Pakistan away from a preoccupation with one another that ties up each nation’s militaries and defense budgets. India, an emerging economic power, could also be a more important regional security power in the U.S. view, while Pakistan could be a stronger bulwark against Muslim extremism.

Gates was last in India in 2008, when he held the same post as defense chief for the George W. Bush administration.

URL of this Page: