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Islamic World News ( 12 Nov 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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10 Percent of US Mosques Preach Jihad: FBI

 

Egypt gripped by 'veil martyr' trial

Closing the 'hijab murder' file

Iran slams UK scholarship in Neda's memory

Gloucester Muslim women hit the ground cycling

Maj. Hasan's problem isn't Islam

For Muslims, Fort Hood Case Sparks Fresh Fears

Backlash against Muslims in military ignores history of service

Muslims, mass murder after Fort Hood

Augusta Muslims say they face suspicion

Radical Muslim Cleric Who Defended World Trade Centre Bombers a Guest of NYC Mayor

Detroit-area Muslim veterans celebrate, pray

To counter hate, a more compassionate world

Pakistani filmmaker wins prestigious awards in Italy

China set to take on Obama by selling advanced jets to Pakistan

After France, Switzerland may ban burqas

A Christian janitor died saves Muslim lives

Pakistani PM, Sharif discuss Balochistan situation

'Obama must choose - Israel or Iran'

Central Bank pushes for Islamic banking

Nakheel debt talks turn spotlight on future of the Islamic bond market

Police officer pays for slapping grateful mother

Irish priest kidnapped in Philippines freed

Moro Muslims secure release of Irish priest in Philippines

Iran continues to consider proposal from international community

Indonesia Joins Malaysia In Proving Islam In Tandem With Democracy

No ‘love jihad’ in Kerala, DGP says again in High Court

Shias too oppose Vandemataram

Iran embassy man shot in Pakistan

Saudi missiles hit Yemen border areas

Iraqi Interpreter Wants To Join Pa. National Guard

Attacks kill 2 paramilitary members in Iraq

US Afghan mission 'not open-ended'

Baku to host workshop “Islamic Culture and Values of Civilizations”

Spanish subway 'terror' trial of 11 Muslims opens

Islamabad Police apprehend 51 suspects

Marine assaults priest, claims gay, Arab panic

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL of this Page: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/10-percent-of-us-mosques-preach-jihad--fbi/d/2086

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10% of US Mosques Preach Jihad: FBI

12 November 2009

The FBI estimates that approximately 10% of mosques in America preach some form of jihad, or holy war.

Additionally, a recent Pew Research Center survey shows that about a quarter of the Muslims in America ages 18 through 29 believe that suicide bombings can be justified.

The information comes from Robert Kessler, who writes about his findings in his new book, “The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack” and a new article for newsmax.com.

Agents interviewed by Kessler tell him the number of American mosques preaching jihad were larger prior to 9/11.

http://www.therightperspective.org/2009/11/11/10-of-us-mosques-preach-jihad-fbi/

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Egypt gripped by 'veil martyr' trial

By Yolande Knell

11 November 2009

In Egypt, where most women wear the Islamic headscarf, Marwa Sherbini has become known as "the veil martyr".

There were alerts on state television as news broke that her murderer had been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of an early release.

The Egyptian ambassador in Berlin, Ramzi Izz Al-Din, told Channel One that Alexander Wiens had received "the harshest ruling possible".

He said he did not expect the ruling to be reduced in case an appeal was filed.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki welcomed the verdict, saying it "served justice" and was "a warning to those motivated by hate".

Wiens, 28, stabbed Ms Sherbini at least 16 times in a courtroom in Dresden in July, when she was giving evidence against him in a defamation case.

He had called her a "terrorist" and "Islamist" in a children's playground because she covered her hair.

She had asked him to make room for her three-year old son to play on the swings.

Ms Sherbini, a 31-year-old pharmacist, was pregnant when she was killed. Her son was in the courtroom at the time and her husband was stabbed and accidentally shot by a German guard when he tried to intervene.

High security

Details of the case shocked Egyptians and there was outrage at what was seen as the slow response of the German authorities to offer condolences and deal with claims of Islamophobia.

A week after the killing, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her sympathies to Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, but she did not comment publicly.

Meanwhile, thousands of people turned out for the funeral of Ms Sherbini in her home city, Alexandria. Many held banners demanding retribution.

There were also small but angry protests outside the German embassy and in the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo.

Demonstrators described Germany as "a civilisation of tyrants" and shouted: "What happened to human rights? Where is justice?"

Wiens's trial was extensively covered in the Egyptian media, with particular attention given to the extra security measures taken in court.

Egyptian lawyers also travelled to Dresden and were allowed to present legal arguments.

Giving his response to the verdict, the head of the Egyptian Bar Association, Hamdi Khalifah, said it proved the German judiciary was "neutral".

An international law professor at Zagazig University, Nabil Himli, believed it showed the system was not "biased against Islam or Arabs and that the German authorities are fair".

'Bad image'

Still, many Egyptians have expressed the wish that Germany had a death sentence to use in this case.

"She died, but he's still alive," Badr Shorbagy, a neighbour of Ms Sherbini from Alexandria, complained to the Associated Press news agency.

Ms Sherbini's husband, Olwi Akaz, gave wrenching testimony in the trial, telling how his son, who now lives with family in Egypt, misses his mother.

Mr Akaz had moved to Germany to carry out doctoral research in molecular biology but has said he does not think he will continue to live in Dresden.

Tarek Sherbini, the brother of the dead woman, said "the image of the German people is very bad" following the attack and claimed it showed hatred of Muslims.

There was a recent sign of a continuing strain in relations when the Dresden orchestra postponed planned performances in Egypt.

Officials say they hope tensions will now ease.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8355921.stm

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Closing the 'hijab murder' file

Khaled Diab

12 November 2009

The life sentence imposed on Marwa al-Sherbini's killer shows that European Islamophobia exists but is not institutionalised

While justice can never resurrect the fallen, it can lay them to rest in dignity and help their loved ones better come to terms with their loss.

In the case of Marwa al-Sherbini, the 31-year-old Egyptian pharmacist who was brutally murdered in a German courtroom this summer, the life sentence handed down by a Dresden court to her racist murderer should help ease tensions surrounding the case, which seems to have been hijacked for political point scoring.

First, let me be clear. This was an ugly and disgusting crime and caused the untimely death of an intelligent mother whose loss has undoubtedly left a huge hole in the lives of her husband and her three-year-old son. Her murderer, Alexander (or Axel) Wiens, a 28-year-old German of Russian origin, was certainly a racist and Islamophobe of the first order whose blind, irrational hatred of Muslims is frighteningly common in far-right circles.

But it was the extent and fury of the reaction in Egypt that astounded me. Although it is understandable that public sympathy for al-Sherbini – whose story is set to be turned into a film – and a certain amount of anger would pour out, I was shocked by the fact that she became popularly known as "the martyr of terrorism" and her case was used by some to claim that European Muslims were a "persecuted" minority and Europe was irredeemably Islamophobic.

Rising anti-German sentiment in Egypt even led to calls for sanctions against Germany. For example, the Egyptian Pharmacists' Association, of which al-Sherbini was a member, unfairly called for a boycott of German drugs.

While this over-reaction probably has some roots in the very real discrimination some Muslims face in Europe and the popular anger at US-led western intervention in places like Iraq, and the heavy human toll this has inflicted, Egyptians should not have allowed the actions of a tiny minority to lead them to make unfair generalisations.

As fellow Cif commentator Nesrine Malik said at the time: "Muslims (me included) constantly protest that the actions of a few extremists should not be allowed to denigrate Islam and its adherents as a whole – but this is exactly what they are doing themselves in connection with Europeans and the actions of Axel W."

At the time of the murder, I was struck by the ironic parallel between the one-sided self-righteous indignation being expressed by some conservative Egyptian Muslims and the almost identical brand of righteous anger targeted at Muslims by the European far right.

For example, many Egyptians pointed to western prejudice against the hijab and how it was prohibited in government institutions by some European states, such as France, as examples of this alleged persecution. "But what about Muslim prejudice against bare heads?" I asked in an article at the time. "In the interest of fairness, why aren't more Muslims openly outraged by attempts to force women to wear the headscarf against their will, as in Saudi Arabia?"

In Egypt, few protests are raised when the mutaween, the Saudi morality police, routinely arrest and beat Saudi women who are out alone or not wearing a headscarf. In an extreme manifestation of their puritanical attitude, they even caused, in 2002, the death of 15 schoolgirls who were not allowed to flee a burning building because they were not dressed in decent Islamic fashion.

In addition, while European Muslims can and do face discrimination, this Egyptian criticism overlooks the fact that Muslims often have more freedom of conscience in Europe than they do in Egypt, and that non-Muslims can also be the victims of enormous prejudice in Egypt.

Copts have to deal with a lot of unofficial and even some institutionalised discrimination in Egypt, as I highlighted in a recent article.

On hearing that the German courts had given the murderer the stiffest possible sentence – life, without eligibility for early release – my first reaction was that this should help restore shaken confidence, though there have been some complaints that the sentence was too lenient.

Some of the people interviewed on al-Jazeera last night and posting on newspaper message boards today expressed the view that Wiens should have been tried in Egypt and sentenced to death. They are obviously unaware of European laws banning the extradition of suspects to countries where they may face capital punishment.

But the verdict has generally gone down well. For instance, Egypt's ambassador to Germany welcomed the court's ruling, while the independent al-Dostour newspaper called it a "victory for justice". This should demonstrate to the doubters that, though there may be racist and Islamophobic Germans and Europeans, discrimination against Muslims is not universal nor is it generally institutionalised.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/nov/12/hijab-murder-marwa-al-sherbini

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Iran slams UK scholarship in Neda's memory

12 November 2009

LONDON: Iran has written to an Oxford University college to complain about a scholarship in memory of a slain Iranian student who became a symbol

of anti-government protests in her country, the college said on Wednesday.

Queen’s College established the Neda Agha Soltan Graduate Scholarship in Philosophy earlier this year. The 27-year-old student was shot in Tehran on June 20 during a demonstration against the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Her dying moments were caught on a video and she became an icon in the opposition’s struggle.

Queen’s College confirmed it had received a letter from the Iranian Embassy in London. Iran’s state-run Press TV reported that the letter called the scholarship a “politically motivated move”. The provost of the college said the names of scholarships were decided, “within reason”, by donors.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Iran-slams-UK-scholarship-in-Nedas-memory/articleshow/5221246.cms

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Gloucester Muslim women hit the ground cycling

November 12, 2009,

Learning to ride a bike may be considered child's play by some, but for a group of Muslim women, lessons are proving to be a breath of fresh air.

Thanks to an initiative being run by Gloucestershire County Council's Road Safety Partnership and the Friendship Cafe in Barton Street, women from the Barton and Tredworth area have hit the ground cycling.

One of the learners, Hasina Musaji-Miah, said: "I have children, and road safety is such an important issue.

"These lessons are really good to bring us up to scratch. I drive, but I cycle a lot as well.

"They can also enable us to pass on what we learn to other people by becoming instructors.

"I think it's a very important service for us."

The county council's cycling co-ordinator, Don Muir, said: "Women generally feel more intimidated by today's traffic conditions while minority groups can have more cultural barriers to taking up this type of training.

"That makes it a double challenge for these ladies and we are doing all we can to help them get the training they need to develop the skills to overcome those barriers".

Barton and Tredworth county councillor Sonia Friend (Lab) said: "I'm pleased that this initiative is happening in our community as it enables local women to participate in an activity which could help their wellbeing and our surroundings".

County council cabinet member for environment Stan Waddington (Con) said: "Barton and Tredworth was identified to us as an area where the benefits of cycling should be promoted.

Full report at: http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/gloucestershireheadlines/Gloucester-Muslim-women-hit-ground-cycling/article-1508192-detail/article.html

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Maj. Hasan's problem isn't Islam

Nov 12, 2009

I'm not making excuses for what took place at Fort Hood, but I do think people are pointing fingers in the wrong direction. Regarding those who think this is a problem rooted in Islamic radicalism, I've yet to hear a coherent prescription for what needs to be done to fix it. Are we supposed to ban Muslims from serving in the military or government? Do we require them to pass a loyalty test? Should we go to their homes and inspect their reading material to ensure they've only read texts that a panel of Christians and Jews believe are acceptable? Should we start deporting Muslims because, really, how can we trust any of them? What's the solution?

People who are stirring up fear and hatred along these lines are completely missing the point. It doesn't matter what Maj. Hasan's religion is. It matters a lot what his sanity level is and was. His sanity level was off the charts. In medical/psychological terms, I think the technical term is "nut-case loony." Anyone who's been listening to Daniel Zwerdling's reports on NPR over the past day would know that Hasan's colleagues had been worried about him for years, concerned that he was psychotic and capable of inflicting harm. The reason he was assigned to Fort Hood was that he would be further out of harm's way there. At least, that's what they thought. They knew he was in significant psychological trouble, but no one seems to have done anything about it.

Full report at: http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2009/11/maj-hasans-prob.html

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For Muslims, Fort Hood Case Sparks Fresh Fears

by Jamie Tarabay

November 12, 2009

There are thousands of active-duty Muslims in the U.S. military, and thousands more who work for the government. Their experiences and backgrounds are as diverse as any other group's.

But after the shootings at Fort Hood, many service men and women fear they're in for some unpleasant scrutiny.

'I'm An American First'

Specialist Naveed Ali Shah, based at Balad Air Base in Iraq, was online with his wife and their 18-month-old son when he heard about the Fort Hood shooting. His family was chatting with him from Texas.

"My immediate reaction is, 'Oh my God, where is this happening?' " said Shah. "Not knowing where the shooters were, I felt like they were in my own backyard. I told my wife to go lock herself in the bathroom."

Meanwhile, he scoured news Web sites for details. Eventually, the alleged shooter's religion was revealed. Debate filled the airwaves over the tension American Muslim soldiers face fighting in Muslim countries. But for Shah, there is no contradiction.

"When I joined the military I put on the uniform knowing I'm an American first and my religion has nothing to do with it," said Shah.

He doesn't see the U.S. military's war in Iraq as a war against Islam.

"I see it as I'm fighting for American freedom and American ideals to succeed," said Shah. "I just don't think that this is a religious war in any sort of way."

There's been little reaction from non-Muslim soldiers at his base, Shah said. He thinks most of them understand that whatever the shooter's background or beliefs, he doesn't represent all Muslim soldiers.

Shah is more concerned about how to raise his son without having him influenced by negative Muslim stereotypes.

I think with this incident there are going to be a select few who will object to Muslims in the military and Muslims in America," said Shah. "And for my son's sake, that's the only reason I worry."

Nonmilitary Muslims Affected, Too

Full report at: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120314051

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Backlash against Muslims in military ignores history of service

By Susan Taylor Martin

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The backlash has already begun.

After an officer of Arab descent opened fire on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, a leader of a conservative Christian group called for a ban on Muslims in the military.

"As soon as Muslims give us a foolproof way to identify their jihadis from their moderates, we'll go back to allowing them to serve,'' said Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. "Until that day comes, we simply cannot afford the risk.''

It was the kind of reaction feared by Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of staff, who had called the shootings a "kick in the gut'' and warned they could "heighten the backlash'' against Muslim soldiers.

Whether last week's rampage, which left 13 soldiers dead, was religiously motivated is unknown. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan has not talked to authorities, who are investigating his reported anger over the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his e-mail contacts with a radical Muslim cleric in Yemen.

Yet history shows that Muslims have served with honor not only in the U.S. Army but also in the militaries of other largely non-Muslim countries.

If any nation has reason to be wary about Muslims in its military, it is Israel. The Jewish state has fought several wars against Muslim countries and organizations, including Hamas in the Gaza Strip last winter.

But thousands of Muslims serve in the Israel Defense Forces, including an entire battalion, about 800 soldiers, of Bedouins.

A once-nomadic Arab people, the Bedouins are considered trustworthy enough to guard Israel's secretive nuclear facility at Dimona. In some poor Bedouin villages, most men voluntarily join the military even though they, like all Arabs, have long been exempt from the three years of service required of Jews and other Israeli citizens.

Full report at: http://www.tampabay.com/news/military/backlash-against-muslims-in-military-ignores-history-of-service/1051161

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Muslims, mass murder after Fort Hood

Steve Chapman

November 12, 2009

Mass murders usually are a mystery. When Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly committed one last week at Fort Hood, though, there was no time wasted in solving the mystery by blaming the massacre on his religion, which is Islam.

Maybe Hasan is just a homicidal lunatic set to work by fevered demons inside his brain. But post-9/11, you can't be a killer who happens to be a Muslim. If you're a killer, it has to be because you're a Muslim.

In this case the claim of a religious motive has some evidentiary basis. Hasan had contacts with an extremist imam. The Army psychiatrist had been known to rail against the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to argue that Muslims should be allowed to leave the military rather than fight against other Muslims. He reportedly shouted, "Allahu Akbar!" -- Arabic for "God is great!" -- as he began his rampage.

In spite of his views and e-mail buddies, neither the Army nor the FBI (which monitored his correspondence with the cleric) found enough grounds to take action against him. Maybe they were blinded by "political correctness" not to do anything that might offend Muslims. Or maybe his past comments are being exaggerated with the benefit of hindsight. Or maybe those who noticed simply concluded he posed no more danger than other cranks.

It's also possible, as so many insist, that the slaughter was a direct product of a violent brand of Islam that encouraged and sanctioned his deed. But even if that's the case, it doesn't tell us what to do about it.

Is the Pentagon supposed to refuse induction to Muslims? Do extensive vetting before accepting them? Continuously monitor their Internet use? Generally treat them as suspect, which almost none of them is? Blustering about "political correctness" doesn't offer practical solutions to a malady that is about as common as a two-headed cow.

Full report at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/chi-oped1112chapmannov12,0,5799691.column

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Augusta Muslims say they face suspicion

By Kelly Jasper

November 12, 2009

Heather Abdelnur's reaction to the deadly shooting at Fort Hood on Nov. 5 wasn't all that different from her reaction to Sept. 11.

The same fears flashed through her mind. "As soon as I heard about this thing, I thought: 'Please don't let it be a Muslim. Please don't let him have a Muslim-sounding name."

It was, and he did.

The suspected shooter, Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, is an American-born Muslim. So is Mrs. Abdelnur, an assistant professor of history at Augusta State University.

"It was a letdown to find out a Muslim was involved," she said.

Muslim leaders were quick to condemn Maj. Hasan's actions, calling it "a black eye" upon Islam and its practitioners. Many said they feared retaliation; some increased security.

Retaliation against Muslims does occur -- Augusta's Imam has even taken to wearing a T-shirt and jeans out in public this week instead of his traditional tunic -- but Mrs. Abdelnur and others are quick to emphasize that experiences with discrimination vary widely among Muslims.

About three-quarters of American Muslims say they've never experienced discrimination, according to a survey of Muslim Americans released by the Pew Research Center in May 2007.

After Sept. 11, 2001, the Islamic Society of Augusta, the largest mosque in the area, was vandalized with graffiti directed at Osama bin Laden.

What gets less media attention is how members of the community sent money and flowers to the mosque upon hearing the news, said Hossam Fadel, a member of the mosque.

Full report at: http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/2009/11/12/met_555524.shtml

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Radical Muslim Cleric Who Defended World Trade Center Bombers a Guest of NYC Mayor

November 12, 2009

 New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg welcomed to City Hall an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, later claiming he didn't know the radical Muslim cleric had been invited, the New York Post reported.

Siraj Wahhaj has called the FBI and CIA the "real terrorists," defended the convicted World Trade Center attack plotters and said his hope is that all Americans will become Muslim.

Wahhaj was among a group of religious and community leaders who met Wednesday with Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to talk about the Fort Hood massacre that killed 13 last week in Texas.

In 1995, Wahhaj was identified as one of 170 who are "unindicted co-conspirators" in the World Trade Center bombing two years earlier, the Post said. He has denied involvement in the conspiracy.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,574393,00.html?test=latestnews

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Detroit-area Muslim veterans celebrate, pray

By Niraj Warikoo

Nov. 11, 2009

With a backdrop of American flags and a picture of the Quran, local Muslims who served in the U.S. military gathered inside a Detroit mosque today to mark Veterans Day.

“We salute all the veterans today,” said Shelton Hasan, 54, of Detroit, to a crowd at Masjid Wali Muhammad in Detroit. “We honor you for serving.”

The gathering started with a singing of the U.S. national anthem followed by a silent prayer for the victims of the shooting in Fort Hood, Texas, last week. The shooting has brought attention to Muslims who serve in the U.S. military since the shooter was a Muslim. One conservative Christian group has called for a ban on Muslims serving in the U.S. military.

But those who attended today’s ceremony said what the shooter did has absolutely nothing to do with their faith.

Hasan served in the Army from 1975 to 1977. He said he gained a lot from the experience.

“They made a man out of me, and made me responsible,” he said.

Dawud Walid, a Navy veteran who is now head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, attended the ceremony in a building that is the oldest mosque in Detroit with a predominantly African-American congregation.

Walid said he hopes people will not paint all Muslims with a broad-brush “based on the actions of one sick individual.”

“We honor all who have and continue to defend our nation through their service,” Walid said.

http://www.freep.com/article/20091111/NEWS05/91111055/1318/Detroit-area-Muslim-veterans-celebrate-pray

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To counter hate, a more compassionate world

Chidanand Rajghatta

12 November 2009

WASHINGTON: In more than two decades of studying and writing about world religions, historian Karen Armstrong, author of ‘A History of God’,

‘Faith After September 11’, and most recently, ‘The Case for God’, was repeatedly struck by the emphasis that all the great traditions place on compassion.

Whatever she was researching, this theme of compassion kept recurring — when she was examining a history of the idea of God in the three monotheistic faiths; in her study of the history of fundamentalism, where she found lack of compassion was the major flaw in these militant movements; and above all in her book ‘The Great Transformation’, which traced the history of the ‘Axial Age’ (c900-200 BCE), when all the great world faiths either came into being or had their roots, where compassion and nonviolence were so essential.

“It repeatedly struck me as sad that, despite this marvelous ideology, which should be of such benefit to our polarized world, religion is often seen as part of the problem, and secondary goals, such as doctrinal orthodoxy, often get more attention,” the British-born historian said in an interview to The Times of India on Tuesday.

In reality, the world is busy tearing itself to pieces over differences. So when she won the prestigious TED Prize in 2008, and with it was granted a wish for a better world, she proposed a Charter which would restore compassion to the centre of attention, could challenge the voices of extremism and hatred, empower people to demand compassionate speech/action, and make compassion audible in our troubled world. She calls it the Golden Rule that must now be implemented globally, “so that we treat all peoples as we would wish to be treated ourselves”.

Full report at: compassionate-world/articleshow/5221191.cms

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Pakistani filmmaker wins prestigious awards in Italy

November 12, 2009

Shahina Maqbool

Prominent Pakistani filmmaker Samar Minallah has won the prestigious ‘International Roberto Rossellini Award 2009’ and the ‘Cannon Award 2009’ at the International Film Festival held in Italy.

She has been awarded in recognition of her many artistic and personal achievements, notably her work for civil rights and support of disadvantaged groups, particularly women in Pakistan.

Since the theme of this year’s festival was ‘Women in Cinema,’ Samar has dedicated the award to the women of Pakistan who, she said, continue to play a significant role in society. Peruvian filmmaker Claudia Llosa and William Raee from Hollywood were also awarded at the ceremony.

For more than a decade, Samar has been highlighting various issues related to the women of Pakistan. She has, for the last 20 years, been conducting anthropological research on various aspects of Pukhtun women and documenting the positive aspects of their lives through print and electronic media. Most of her works including ‘Bibi Shireenay: Where Honour Comes From’ and ‘Shinwaray Lawangeena: Where the Waters Meet’ are still keenly being viewed by audiences in Afghanistan and North West Frontier Province.

While Samar has primarily been documenting the positive aspects of the lives of Pukhtun women, her documentaries have also focused on social and human rights issues. Most of her documentaries, especially the award winning ‘Swara: A Bridge Over Troubled Waters’, is being used for educational purposes at Amnesty International while ‘Bibi Shireenay’ has been screened at the United Nations building in New York. Her documentaries have helped in breaking the silence around many sanctioned forms of violence against women. All her documentaries are issue-based, targeting the general audience and policymakers.

Full report at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=208139

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China set to take on Obama by selling advanced jets to Pakistan

Saibal Dasgupta

11 November 2009

BEIJING: China has sent out an interesting signal ahead of US president Barack Obama's scheduled visit to Beijing by offering a set of advanced

fighter jets to Pakistan. It has agreed to sell $1.4 billion worth of jets to Islamabad days ahead of the planned visit of the US president Barack Obama to Shanghai and Beijing on November 15-18.

The move is expected to jolt the US administration as it works on notes and talking points for Obama's meetings with Chinese leaders. He is expected to discuss Beijing's relationship with India and its role in internal conflicts in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Beijing is keen to reduce US influence on Pakistan, which will make it easier for it to deal with India, sources said. Washington's recent decision to extend massive financial assistance to Islamabad is seen in some quarters as a policy setback for China.

It is now trying to get back its influence over Pakistan by selling two squadrons of advanced jets, sources said. Even more significant is Beijing's eagerness to share advanced technology with Pakistan, which is something US suppliers are usually reluctant to do.

A report from Pakistan said it wants to buy a larger number of war planes from China besides the two squadrons of J-10 fighter planes it is buying at the moment. A Pakistani official described the plane sales deal as a "landmark" in Pak-China relations.

"The agreement should not simply be seen in the narrow context of Pakistan's relations with China. There is a wider dimension. By sharing its advanced technology with Pakistan, China is ... also saying to the world that its defense capability is growing rapidly," Abdul Qayyum, a retired Pakistani general, was quoted in the Pakistani media as saying.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/China-set-to-take-on-Obama-by-selling-advanced-jets-to-Pakistan/articleshow/5220297.cms

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After France, Switzerland may ban burqas

12 November 2009

GENEVA: Switzerland’s justice minister said on Wednesday that her country could ban full-body Muslim veils in the future, as neighbouring France

is currently debating.

Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said seeing a woman in a burqa makes her uncomfortable, even though the head-to-toe outfits are rarely worn in Switzerland.

“If the number of women wearing a burqa increases, we could study a possible ban,” said Widmer-Schlumpf, 53, at a news conference to which she wore a short skirt and black leather boots.

But she said the veils weren’t currently on the government’s agenda.

Switzerland is holding a national referendum November 29 on whether to ban the construction of minarets. Widmer-Schlumpf opposes the proposal, saying a ban on minarets would be discriminatory and violate Swiss laws on freedom of religion.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/After-France-Switzerland-may-ban-burqas/articleshow/5221281.cms

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A Christian janitor died saves Muslim lives

Nov. 12, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- A Christian janitor died saving the lives of Muslims in the suicide attack at the International Islamic University in Islamabad, Pakistan, officials say.

The Oct. 20 twin suicide bombings at the university killed six people including three women but university officials and students said the toll would have been higher were it not for the bravery of Pervaiz Masih, CNN reported.

Witnesses say one of the attackers, disguised as a woman, shot the guard on duty at a women's cafeteria packed with hundreds of students. When Masih intercepted the bomber at the doorway, the attacker set off the explosives but much of the impact was directed toward open parking lot instead of inside the cafeteria, the report said.

Afsheen Zafar, 20, told CNN but for Masih "there could have been great, great destruction."

"As a Christian, a person of minority, he stood in front of the Taliban to protect the university," said Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan' minister of minorities. The government has promised to award his family about $12,000.

Christians are a small minority in Pakistan and most of them are poor. Masih, father of a 3-year-old girl, earned about $60 a month in his week-old job and had lived in a small room with seven other family members, the report said. The university has offered free education for Masih's daughter and will employ his wife.

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/International/2009/11/12/Christian-saves-Muslim-lives/UPI-57191258029249/

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Pakistani PM, Sharif discuss Balochistan situation

Nov 12, 2009

 ISLAMABAD, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) Chief Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Thursday underlined the need to develop consensus on the under consideration Balochistan package by taking all stockholders into confidence to end people of Balochistan's sense of deprivation and to ensure protection of their rights.

    "There should be consultation with the entire political leadership of Balochistan besides debate in Parliament, public and media prior to finalizing the package so that it could be acceptable to all," Sharif told a press conference in Islamabad after meeting with Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani.

    The PML-N leader appreciated what he called the "genuine" efforts of the prime minister for taking all parties along and evolving the consensus over the issue.

    Sharif said that decisions of a single man have led to the problems currently being faced by the country in general and the province of Balochistan in particular.

    The situation has become so grave that now each and every citizen wants quick solution to all of the issues, he observed, adding that it was one man who made all the decisions and now it is the democratic government that has to play its role in providing relief.

    He said the present problems in the country are the result of the derailing of democracy time and again. The country would not have been facing this situation had the democracy be allowed to function smoothly in the past, Sharif complained.

    The PML-N chief said the government package for Balochistan came under detailed discussion during his meeting with the prime minister. "Our stance was that the people of Balochistan be taken into full confidence, open discussions be held besides interacting with the common citizens of the province and exchanging views the Balochistan leaders who are out of the country," he said.

    Sharif said mere announcement of a package will not be a right approach. "The package could be rejected, if failed to hold talks with all the stakeholders," he said.

    He said India's involvement in Balochistan is a thing of concern and concrete evidence in this regard should be brought before the world.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-11/12/content_12445252.htm

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'Obama must choose - Israel or Iran'

Nov 12, 2009

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on the US to choose between Israel and Iran on Tuesday night, according to Iranian state media.

Speaking in Istanbul at the 25th Session of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Iranian president said that it was up to US President Barack Obama to realize his motto of "change".

"The support of both Israel and Iran can't go hand in hand," he was quoted as saying by IRNA. "No change is made unless great choices are made.

"We would welcome the changes, and wait for big and correct decisions to be made... We will clasp any hand that is extended sincerely toward us, but changes should be made in practice."

Addressing the same conference a day earlier, Ahmadinejad said that capitalist excesses caused the global economic meltdown and were un-Islamic, as leaders at a Muslim forum touted their religion's banking system a way to revive battered economies.

He also slammed investments that pay interest, deemed usury by Muslims, and said they had contributed to financial and social problems such as homelessness.

"Usury, which is entrenched in the capitalist system, is perhaps the main reason why the system has gone bankrupt," Ahmadinejad said. "It is a way of accumulating capital without working. Usury, according to the Koran, is fighting with Allah."

Ahmadinejad did not mention Iran's struggling economy, nor did he refer to its dispute with the West over its nuclear activities.

The Islamic forum held its meeting in a plush hotel on the banks of the Bosphorus Strait that divides Istanbul between the Asian and European continents. Syrian President Bashar Assad and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan were also in attendance.

Full report at: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1257770037656&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

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Central Bank pushes for Islamic banking

By Simon Musasizi

11 November 2009

Bank of Uganda is urging the government to pass the regulatory requirement for the establishment of the country’s first Islamic Bank which is expected to attract an infusion of millions of dollars into the banking system

“We have seen that Islamic financing is doing well in the United States, United Kingdom and other non-Islamic countries. There is no reason why it shouldn’t come here,” said Juma Walusimbi, the Communications Director at BoU.

“We are pursuing the question of the law. We have already discussed with the minister who is supposed to table our recommendations to amend the Act in cabinet and thereafter it will go to Parliament,” Walusimbi said, before adding: “Given our commitment, we believe that government will also respond positively.”

Islamic banking is bound to revolutionalise Uganda’s financial market. Premised on the Muslim Sharia Law, Islamic banking bars the charging of interest on loans. Islamic banking also prohibits a bank from investing money in a venture that is against Muslim principles as set by the Sharia Law. For example, a beer company may not be able to access funds from an Islamic bank.

Walusimbi said that the money that comes with Islamic banking would make a big difference in Uganda’s financial market.

“Initially about $10 million are available from one institution. There is another one that has indicated to invest $100 million. Normally we don't discuss this, but we are saying there is a lot of good money and this is the time we need this kind of money to come into the economy,” he said.

Nevertheless it would be interesting to see how other banks react to the establishment of an Islamic bank that does not charge interest on loans. Interest on loans is one of the largest sources of profit for ordinary commercial banks.

http://www.observer.ug/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5940:central-bank-pushes-for-islamic-banking&catid=38:business&Itemid=68

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Nakheel debt talks turn spotlight on future of the Islamic bond market

November 12, 2009

Nakheel, Dubai’s leading property company and owner of the Palm development, offshore of the Gulf city, is in talks with Dubai World, its heavily indebted parent, over the repayment of a $3.5 billion (£2.1 billion) Islamic bond.

Dubai World, which also owns DP World, the world’s No 3 port operator, is guarantor of the Nakheel bond, which is being watched closely by Islamic investors as a bellwether for the shaky finances of the city-state and the health of Islamic finance, generally. Dubai World is the investment holding company of a clutch of emirate-related businesses that have huge debts. Dubai has to refinance $50 billion of maturing borrowings by 2013. Dubai World is believed to owe $60 billion.

In an effort to keep the State’s business ventures afloat, the Dubai Government this year raised an emergency $10 billion loan from the central bank of the United Arab Emirates.

Talks over Nakheel’s sukuk, an Islamic financial bond, which matures next month, are taking place as Dubai’s ruler castigates the Emirate’s critics. They point to strained relations with Abu Dhabi, its richer, but more conservative, neighbour, which has been forced to step in, using its vast oil wealth to guarantee Dubai’s huge property debts.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum insisted this week that there was no tension between the two emirates. “There is no Dubai and Abu Dhabi, we are one ... I want to tell those people who who nag about Dubai and Abu Dhabi to shut up,” he said.

Dubai’s bubble economy of property and hotels came a cropper in last year’s financial crash. Speculators and migrant workers fled the emirate, many abandoning cars, flats and credit card debts in a rush to escape punitive bankruptcy laws. In November last year, the United Arab Emirates Government, backed by the oil wealth of Abu Dhabi, stepped into the breach, promising to stand behind Dubai’s borrowings that exceed the state’s GDP.

Full report at: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/construction_and_property/article6913156.ece

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Police officer pays for slapping grateful mother

By Mohammad Asghar

12 Nov, 2009

RAWALPINDI, Nov 11: City police Thurday made one of its officers to pay for being cruel to a mother who came to him grateful for police recovering her kidnapped daughter but also complaining that it did not arrest two of the four kidnappers she had named.

SSP Operation Yasin Farooq suspended Airport police station SHO Shahbaz Ahmed for slapping Ms T. Bibi for causing him nuisance and emanding that the two should also be arrested.

Bibi had reported the incident to the City Police Officer (CPO).Police sources said after she was slapped, she fell on the ground and her nose started bleeding.

Two lady constables came to her rescue and brought Bibi out of the police station.

Meanwhile, a woman was strangled by her husband apparently over some domestic disputes in her house in Gulberg Town on Wednesday, Saddar Bairooni police said.

Masood Bhatti, a mason by profession, had a brawl with his wife Kulsoom Bibi, a mother of five early Wednesday morning, which led to the strangulation of his wife.

After murdering her he made a telephone call to his brother-in-law and told him that he was going somewhere far and asked him to take care of his children in his absence and escaped, the investigation officer said. While quoting the elder son of the deceased woman the IO said that his mother was beaten up by his father last night.

Police said the postmortem report showed that the cause of her death was strangulation.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/national/police-officer-pays-for-slapping-grateful-mother-219

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Irish priest kidnapped in Philippines freed

November 12, 2009

 An Irish priest kidnapped last month in the southern Philippines was freed Thursday.

Father Michael Sinnott was unhurt and was undergoing a medical evaluation, said the Missionary Society of St. Columban, to which he belongs.

The Philippine military insisted it did not pay a ransom for Sinnott's release, the society said.

Sinnott was kidnapped on October 11 from his missionary home on the southern island of Mindanao. He was out on an evening stroll when four or five men burst into his garden, the society said.

The men drove him to a beach in a pickup, burned the vehicle and got away -- with Sinnott in tow -- in a speed boat.

The society said the separatist group Moro Islamic Liberation Front turned over the priest to government authorities early Thursday.

The group has fought for decades for an independent Islamic state in the southern Philippines.

"We're stepping up to develop our peace and security program in the area, to prevent similar act of terrorism happening again in the future," said Cerge Remonde, the spokesman for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The spokesman said the priest met with the president Thursday.

"We leave the options to him whether he wants to go back to Ireland or stay in Philippines. It's his personal decision," he said.

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/11/12/philippines.priest.freed/

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Moro Muslims secure release of Irish priest in Philippines

12 November 2009

Moro Islamic Liberation Front helped the release of an Irish priest kidnapped last month in the southern Philippines.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Muslim group, helped the release of an Irish priest kidnapped last month in the southern Philippines.

Michael Sinnott, a 78-year-old Columban missionary who was kidnapped from the garden of a church on Oct 11, was handed over to government officials at a coastal village near Zamboanga City on the southern island of Mindanao shortly before dawn.

Local military commander Major-General Ben Dolorfino said MILF had delivered Sinnott to Philippine authorities.

"He was turned over to us by the MILF," Dolorfino said.

"This is a big confidence-building measure in forthcoming peace talks."

MILF redeployed its forces Tuesday for its search for Sinnott despite Philippines' rejection of its offer to help free an Irish Catholic priest.

We convinced them (kidnappers) to hand him over to us," Mohaqer Iqbal, the MILF's chief negotiator in peace talks with the government.

"We got them to release him through pressure, by talking with their relatives, moral persuasion."

Full report at: http://www.worldbulletin.net/news_detail.php?id=49848

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Iran continues to consider proposal from international community

November 12th, 2009

By: Shaun Booth

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in Istanbul, Turkey for an Organization of The Islamic Conference, a group of 57 Muslim countries that promotes religious solidarity in national and international matters.

When addressing the conference Ahmadinejad said, “One of the most important issues of today is definitely nuclear cooperation at the international level, whether in building a power station or reactor or whether it is about Iran’s presence in the global fuel bank,”.

Ahmadinejad went on to say that the idea of completely halting Iran’s nuclear activity was no longer on the table.

In talks with the five plus one in Geneva on October 1, Iran agreed in principle to send approximately 70% of its low-enriched uranium out of the country for further enrichment and conversion into fuel rods for a reactor in Tehran dedicated to producing isotopes for cancer treatment. But Iran has since delayed signing onto the deal which originally had a deadline set by the IAEA of October 23rd. Instead Iran first asked for further talks which were rejected, so now they are simply taking more time to look over the proposed plan.

Although the White House has rejected further talks they have showed patience with the delay in a final decision by Iran with Obama stating in a recent interview that it would be difficult to make a decision in a government that has not yet fully settled since the recent election.

In an interesting development Russia has emerged as a leader in pressuring Iran to accept the proposed deal from the international community.

Russia signed a contract in 2005 to sell S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran but has not made any deliveries made a public announcement as to a reason for the delay, or as it now seems cancelation.

Full report at: http://www.politicallore.com/writers/shaun-booth/iran-continues-to-consider-iaea-proposal/1404

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Indonesia Joins Malaysia In Proving Islam In Tandem With Democracy

November 12, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 12 (Bernama) -- Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said his country wishes to join Malaysia in proving to the world that Islam is in tandem with modern democracy.

He said the republic also wanted to be together with other Muslim countries in developing a model and proving that Islam too shared the same values as the other civilisations.

"Tun Musa Hitam (a former deputy prime minister of Malaysia) is right, Indonesia like Malaysia wishes to prove that there is no conflict between democracy and Islam. I had just spoken at Harvard University (in the United States) that it is not true that Islam and democracy are incompatible.

"Let us prove that Islamic values also contain values possessed by other civilisations," he said when delivering a speech at a luncheon in conjunction with his official visit to this country, here Thursday.

The luncheon was organised by the Council For The Promotion of Malaysia-Indonesia Relations chaired by Musa. Also present at the function was Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Earlier, in his speech welcoming the presence of the Indonesian President, Musa said Susilo's victory in the presidential election for the second term consecutively proved that democracy could survive even in a developing Muslim country.

"Whenever the name SBY (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) is mentioned, it immediately brings an image that he is an Indonesian president who has created history for being elected for the second time in an open democracy.

"He proves to the international community that democracy does works in a developing society," he said.

Full report at: http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsgeneral.php?id=454680

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No ‘love jihad’ in Kerala, DGP says again in High Court

12 November 2009

Kochi: The Kerala state DGP Jacob Punnoose informed the High Court again that there was no evidence for the functioning of an organisation named ‘Love Jihad’ in the state. The matter was repeated in the additional report submitted in the High Court by the DGP as per the Court’s direction. The Court had directed the DGP to give additional explanation, if any, when considering the report submitted earlier on October 22.

The DGP also handed over the reports of the District Police officers in sealed cover to the High Court. However, the Director of the Intelligence Bureau of the central government asked for two weeks’ time to submit its report. Js KT Shankaran postponed the case to be considered again on December 1.

The DGP informed the Court that the investigation reports of district police officers said that there was no functioning of any organisation or movement called the ‘Love Jihad’ in Kerala. However, three reports stated that there were unauthorized reports about certain organisations trying for forceful conversion feigning love. The DGP reportedly stated in the Court that there was no evidence for these unauthorised reports. Detailed investigation would be conducted into the matter.

In another development Js KT Shankaran stated that the term ‘love jihad’ was not an invention of the High Court. The HC stated this while considering the petition filed by the secretary of the Association for Human Rights demanding a withdrawal of the terms ‘love jihad’ and ‘romeo jihad’ used by the Court. The High Court Judge made it clear that the Court had asked only whether such an organisation or movement was functioning in the state.

Full report at: http://twocircles.net/2009nov12/no_love_jihad_kerala_dgp_says_again_high_court.html

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Shias too oppose Vandemataram

12 Nov 2009

HYDERABAD: Joining the chorus of supporters of Deoband’s controversial resolution on Vandemataram, the All-India Shia Personal Law Board said Wednesday that it too was against the recital of the national song by Muslims. It, however, said it was not against the recital of the national anthem, Jana Gana Mana, by Muslims.

“We (Muslims) respect this country and are not against the national anthem. Muslims in the country are not opposed to reciting the national anthem but are against Vandemataram,’’ board vice-president Moulana Syed Ghulam Hussain Raza Aga Qibla told reporters.

“When there is a national anthem which is being recited and respected, what is the need for another song? In Andhra Pradesh, there is a proposal to introduce `Maa Telugu Talliki’ in schools. What is the need for such things?’’ he questioned.

Raza said the Shia Personal Law Board’s annual meeting held in Delhi on October 25 passed several resolutions for the social and economic development of the Shia community. ``The non-representation of Shias, whose population is five crore, in the Union cabinet is of great concern to us. The prime minister should think of including a Shia in the Cabinet,’’ a resolution said.

To ensure representation of Shias in Parliament and State Assemblies, the Shias should be given reservation as Dalits and women were being given, the resolution said.

Full report at: http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Shias+too+oppose+Vandem

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Iran embassy man shot in Pakistan

12 November 2009

Gunmen have killed a Pakistani working at the Iranian consulate in the city of Peshawar, officials say.

Police that say Abul Hasan Jaffery, head of public affairs at the consulate, was leaving his home in Peshawar when he was attacked.

Before joining the Iranian consulate, Mr Jaffery was a well-known journalist.

Correspondents say that Iranian diplomats and nationals have been targeted in Pakistan since the 1990s amid Shia-Sunni sectarian tensions.

Relations between Iran and Sunni-majority Pakistan have been strained since Iran said Pakistan-based agents were involved in a recent suicide bombing in south-east Iran.

Forty-two people died in October's attack, which has been blamed on the Sunni resistance group, Jundullah. Islamabad has dismissed claims that the leader of Jundullah was in Pakistan.

Attackers escaped

"Two men on foot intercepted Mr Jaffery as he was leaving for office," head of the local police station Abdul Rehman told the BBC.

"An automatic pistol was used and the attackers were able to escape afterwards."

He said Mr Jaffery died as he was being taken to the nearest hospital.

Mr Jaffery had served with the provincial government as press officer and worked for two chief ministers.

He resigned from his government position a few years ago to join the Iranian mission as the head of public affairs.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8356144.stm

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Saudi missiles hit Yemen border areas

Thu, 12 Nov 2009

Houthi fighters say Saudi Arabia fired scores of missiles on Yemeni villages during over a dozen overnight airstrikes.

More than 145 missiles have been shot at Yemini towns in over 15 separate attacks on areas near the border with Saudi Arabia, the Shia movement said on Thursday.

Saudi forces have been carrying out attacks on Yemen's Houthis since early November.

The Saudi Defense Ministry has said it will keep up its air strikes until the Houthis retreat from the border between the two countries.

Riyadh has also imposed a naval blockade on northern Yemen's Red Sea coast, saying the siege is to stop weapons from reaching the anti-government fighters.

The Houthis took arms against the Sana'a rule in 2004 in protest at the Sunni-dominated government's repression and discrimination against the Shia minority in Yemen.

The fighters have repeatedly accused Saudi Arabia of collaborating with the Yemeni government in its military crackdown on the opposition movement based in the north of the improvised Arab country.

The United States has also joined the conflict by signing a military agreement under which it will provide Sana'a forces with intelligence and training to quell the Houthis.

Houthis accuse the Yemeni government of employing al-Qaeda mercenaries and terrorists to help the army with its ongoing offensive against the Shia fighters.

The Operation Scorched Earth which began in August is believed to have forced over 55,000 Yemenis to leave their houses.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=111106&sectionid=351020206

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Iraqi Interpreter Wants To Join Pa. National Guard: Michael Neamah Worked With 56th Stryker Brigade

November 12, 2009

Muslims in the military is a controversial topic after the shootings at Fort Hood last week.

News 8's Katelyn Smith spoke with an Iraqi interpreter now living in the Susquehanna Valley, who is looking to join the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

Micheal Neamah has been working closely with the U.S. military for the past four years. He was living in Iraq translating for Americans.

Smith spoke with him about his job there and about why he now lives in the U.S.

Neamah moved to the United States in July.

He, his wife and three kids live in a Harrisburg apartment. They came to the U.S. because Neamah's cover was blown and some of his fellow interpreters were killed. It is all part of the insurgents' mindset.

"The first one who we can target is the bridge, the bridge between Americans and Iraqis, the bridge was the interpreters, break the bridge, the mission is going to be failed," said Neamah.

Neamah helped the 56th Stryker Brigade, a Pennsylvania Army National Guard unit communicate with tribal leaders in Iraq. He worked alongside Lt. Col. Frank Flanagan.

"What I realized about Michael was that I could probably trust him with more information than many of our other interpreters," said Flanagan.

"I know sometimes people they have a misunderstanding about Islam, or the Arab people, or exclusively about the Iraqi people. So, with the United States Army we start to change this idea," said Neamah.

He wants to continue that change by joining the National Guard and becoming a U.S. citizen.

Full report at: http://www.wgal.com/news/21593336/detail.html

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Attacks kill 2 paramilitary members in Iraq

November 12, 2009

Two Awakening Council group members were killed and five people injured in two separate attacks in and near Baghdad on Thursday, an Interior Ministry source said.

Unidentified armed men stormed a checkpoint manned by members of a local Awakening Council group in the Jurf al-Sakhr area, some60 km south of Baghdad, killing two of the group members before they fled the scene, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The Awakening Councils, or Sahwa groups, are paramilitary groups formed from some powerful former anti-U.S. insurgent groups, who fight the al-Qaida network after the latter exercised indiscriminate killings against both Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities.

Meanwhile, a roadside bomb detonated in the afternoon outside a bank in the al-Wihda neighborhood in central Baghdad, wounding five pedestrians, the source said.

Sporadic attacks continue in Iraq as part of recent deterioration in security which shaped a setback to the efforts of the Iraqi government to restore normalcy in the country after more than four months of U.S. troops pullout of cities and towns.

http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90777/90854/6811938.html

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US Afghan mission 'not open-ended'

November 12, 2009

The US commitment to Afghanistan is "not open-ended", the White House has said, warning that the administration in Kabul must take steps to improve the way the country is run.

The comments on Wednesday came after Barack Obama, the US president, held his eighth meeting with his war cabinet as he deliberates changes to the US strategy in Afghanistan.

"The president believes that we need to make clear to the Afghan government that our commitment is not open-ended," a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters outlining Wednesday's meeting.

"After years of substantial investments by the American people, governance in Afghanistan must improve in a reasonable period of time to ensure a successful transition to our Afghan partner," the official said, adding that Obama had yet to decide on proposals for increased troop deployments.

Wednesday's meeting reportedly focused on four possible options for a revised US strategy, and how long each would take to implement.

The meeting comes some three months since the top US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, requested thousands of additional troops.

Waning support

Full report at: http://english.aljazeesra.net/news/americas/2009/11/200911121835225672.html

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Baku to host workshop “Islamic Culture and Values of Civilizations”

12 Nov 2009

Baku. Ulkar Gasimova – APA. A republican cultural studies workshop entitled “Islamic Culture and Values of Civilizations” will be held in Baku. The workshop will be organized by Azerbaijan Cultural Association “Simurg”, Azerbaijan Society of Cultural Researchers and International Culture Forum of Civil Society.

President of Simurg Cultural Association Fuad Mammadov told APA the workshop participants will hear reports on Muslim art, formation of Islamic culture and sphere of its influence, religion and ethics, problem of equality in Muslim civilizations of Middle Ages, which will be addressed at the round table as well.

Mammadov said the workshop will be held on November 14.

http://en.apa.az/news.php?id=110874

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Spanish subway 'terror' trial opens

Nov 12, 2009

Eleven Muslim men of South Asian origin have gone on trial in Spain over an alleged plot to stage suicide attacks on the Barcelona subway system.

Police foiled the alleged plan in January 2008 after a member of the cell designated to blow himself up changed his mind and alerted authorities, according to a Spanish prosecutor.

The defendants, who have all pleaded innocent, are nine men of Pakistani nationality or origin, and two from India.

Vicente Gonzalez Mota, a prosecutor, said the attack was allegedly planned because of Spanish troops being stationed in Afghanistan.

'Operational capability'

From the outset there have been doubts as to how close the men were actually to staging what would have been Spain's first suicide terrorist attack.

In a charge sheet released several weeks ago, Gonzalez Mota's only mention of explosives was to say police who made some of the arrests seized 18 grammes - less than an ounce - of white powder that came from emptying out fireworks.

He said police also found timers, steel balls and air-gun pellets to serve as shrapnel, and other material for making bombs.

When indictments were handed down in June of this year, Ismael Moreno, the investigating magistrate, wrote that the cell had achieved "operational capability" in terms of manpower and "was apparently very close to achieving full technical capability in terms of explosive devices".

However, he said the amount of explosives found was enough for training purposes but not to stage a major attack.

Perhaps because of this lack of firepower, the cell is not accused of actually conspiring to stage a terrorist attack but rather of belonging to a terrorist organisation.

The cell acted under the inspiration of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the Pakistani Taliban movement, led at the time by Baitullah Mehsud, and plans for the Barcelona attack were later claimed in a video by Maulvi Omar, a spokesman for the group, Gonzalez Mota wrote.

http://mwcnews.net/content/view/34375/0/

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Islamabad Police apprehend 51 suspects

By Ali Imran

Nov 12, 2009

ISLAMABAD—Islamabad Police on Thursday apprehended 51 suspected persons during search operation in residential areas near Pakistan Secretariat.

Police sources said that Police teams searched 146 houses in Muslim Colony and Bari Imam, and under construction buildings and projects in the red zone area under the supervision of SP City Sajid Kayani in Secretariat Police Station jurisdiction.

The search teams included Area Magistrate, DSP and SHO Secretariat police station, commandos and Lady Police.

Police is conducting search operation in the Capital in view of the prevailing security situation. Police have started interrogation of the arrested persons.

Meanwhile SSP Islamabad Tahir Alam Khan has issued directions to all the SHOs to hold meetings with members of Security and Vigilance Committees in their respective areas and impress upon them to keep a watchful eye on suspected people including those residing in rented houses.

He also appealed the people that as responsible citizens they should extend a helping hand to the law enforcement agencies to prevent any untoward incident.

http://dailymailnews.com/1109/13/CityPage/CityPages7.php

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Marine assaults priest, claims gay, Arab panic

By Darren Hutchinson

Nov 12, 2009

Attacker's lawyer actually tries for a Muslim, gay harassment defence

This column originally appeared on the blog Dissenting Justice.

Jason Bruce, a Marine reservist in Tampa, Fla., attacked an innocent Greek Orthodox priest with a tire iron. Bruce has initiated a shameful legal defense: the priest grabbed his crotch.

The actual story is quite different. Apparently, Father Alexios Marakis, who speaks little English, became lost after his car's GPS system led him astray. Marakis followed several cars into the parking garage of a condominium in order to seek instructions. He approached Bruce, who was retrieving items from the trunk of his car. Bruce responded by chasing Marakis and hitting him several times with a tire iron. Video footage shows a tire iron-wielding Bruce chasing Marakis. Marakis's GPS records confirm his assertion that he came to the area while trying to reach another destination.

Police arrested Bruce after he gave several inconsistent explanations. According to the St. Petersburg Times, Bruce said that:

    * The man tried to rob him.

    * The man grabbed Bruce's crotch and made an overt sexual advance in perfect English.

    * The man yelled "Allahu Akbar," Arabic for "God is great," the same words some witnesses said the Fort Hood shooting suspect uttered last week.

    * "That's what they tell you right before they blow you up," police say Bruce told them.

Bruce's allegation that Marakis grabbed his crotch is an example of the controversial "gay panic defense." The gay panic defense allows defendants to claim provocation as justification for violent acts they committed. The defense is not uniformly recognized, and it is widely criticized by legal scholars.

The gay panic defense is homophobic because it rests on the assumption that a gay sexual advance is so provocative and threatening that, with or without physical contact, it warrants a violent response. This is not the law regarding heterosexual sexual advances.

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/feature/2009/11/12/gay_panic/index.html

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