Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau
Photo: Islamic Reform Movement Again Targets Indonesian Church
Al Qaeda Delivers Magazine to Homes in Pak to Preach Jihad
Press Trust Of India
Islamabad, January 09, 2012, Al Qaeda continues to preach jihad or holy war through an Urdu monthly magazine that is delivered to homes in cities across Pakistan by post, according to a media report on Monday.
The 200-page magazine, Hiteen, is named after the battlefield where Sultan Salahuddin Ayubi defeated
the Crusaders and features articles that preach jihad and praise Osama bin Laden.
The magazine was started in June last year, a month after bin Laden was killed in a US military raid in Abbottabad, The Express Tribune reported.
Hiteen is being delivered to Deobandis, Ahl-e-Hadith and Barelvis sects to convert them to Al Qaeda's point of view, the report said.
The seventh edition, which was sent out last month, opens with the essay 'Matyrdom of Sheikh Osama bin Laden and the International Jihad Movement'.
The magazine has the 'sayings' of Afghan Taliban commander Mullah Omar and some al Qaeda leaders.
There is also an interview with Sheikh Khalid Bin Abdul Rehman Al Husnain, who was once part of Kuwait's Ministry of Islamic Affairs and has now joined al Qaeda.
There is a 'fatwa' by Muhammad Waliullah Hussain of Jamiatul Uloomul Islami which declares that there is no bar on Muslims looting goods from NATO containers.
An editorial said it is not true that the mission of the 'mujahideen' has been damaged by bin Laden's death. The mujahidden are still fighting with their full strength, it said.
The editorial advised readers not to pay attention to "false reports about mujahidden from the hypocritical media" and to continue the struggle.
The fight, the editorial said, will continue till the US is removed from Muslim countries and an Islamic Caliphate is established.
An anonymous essay spoke of the need for another bin Laden who would fight non-Muslims and defend Muslims. The magazine thanked the many wings of al Qaeda all over the world.
Hiteen does not carry the name of the editor and the only way to send feedback is through two email addresses.
A police officer of the Counter-Terrorism Department in Lahore, speaking on condition of anonymity, said police had knowledge of the magazine and that copies of it were in their record.
He said police would soon uncover who was responsible for publishing and circulating Hiteen.
Islamic Reform Movement Again Targets Indonesian Church
Vento Saudale, January 08, 2012, Radical groups added pressure on the congregation of GKI Yasmin church in Bogor as they shouted and chased its members during a Sunday service near the contested religious building.
Members of the Islamic Reform Movement (Garis) shouted at church-goers who were approaching their facility, prompting police officers to come and control the mob.
“We are not afraid of the officers. If the Yasmin congregation is not dismissed, we will deploy a bigger group,” said Garis coordinator Majudien.
Al Khaththath, head of the Bogor branch of the Islamic People’s Forum (FUI), said the absence of a firm stance from the government to settle the issue could set a time bomb for a bigger clash.
“It is over the line now. When the public anger accumulates to boiling point, the public will take action, disregarding the government,” Al Khaththath said.
Yasmin spokesman Bona Sigalingging said the pressure on the congregation was intense every Sunday, when the congregation was forced to hold its service on the sidewalk.
Two weeks ago, the Christmas service was held at a member’s home and last week, the Garis coordinator used a bumper sticker on a church member’s car that read “We need a friendly Islam, not an angry Islam” as an excuse to threaten the congregation.
“Pressure by intolerant groups is becoming increasingly offensive and direct against us. They even chased us when we approached our cars,” Bona said. “I have nothing left to say about what the congregation is feeling now. Our church has been sealed illegally by the Bogor mayor, and recently us just walking close to the church has been banned. Do you call this justice?”
Bona said the members awaited final decision from the president after the Supreme Court ordered the mayor to reopen the church, international organizations condemned the closure and the Ombudsman reported its findings.
“We can only wait the next action by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,” Bona said.
Police denied taking sides in the dispute involving the congregation, the mayor and the radical groups.
“Our job is to keep the order and anyone who breaks order and security will face actions from us,” said Comr. Sahroni, head of the Bogor Police’s operation desk.
Islamophobia in China: Violence Breaks Out in Xinjiang
JANUARY 9, 2012
Western China is far from the happiest place in which to be Muslim right now. At the end of December, police killed seven people in Xinjiang, an area traditionally dominated by the Uighur Muslim ethnic group, using some very sketchy justifications. Days later, the government destroyed a mosque in Ningxia that was just set to reopen after refurbishment, prompting a fight in which at least two more people were killed. The details available on these events have been sparse and often in stark contradiction. It might seem as though we have wandered back in time to the Cultural Revolution, but we’re looking at a very twenty-first century brand of Islamophobia, infused with a legacy of ethnic tensions.
What happened in Xinjiang? The state claimed that police officers confronted a group of fifteen men who had kidnapped two people, and the kidnappers were Muslim extremists or terrorists off to “jihadist training” across the border. Government media sources and spokespeople refuse to specify the ethnic origins of the fifteen. One police officer was also killed.
Non-state media sources are reporting that this group was all Uighur, included children, and was attempting to escape Chinese repression. Other members of the group were taken into custody, and their fates are unknown. It’s far from the first time state information on violence involving Muslims has been questionable, as Edward Wong catalogues at the New York Times. There’s a lot that’s disturbing about this story, from implying that killing a group of people for supposedly kidnapping would somehow justify the killings, that they were killed in front of children, and that these people weren’t welcome in China, but weren’t allowed to leave, either.
As for Ningxia? Taoshan villagers raised USD $127 000 to renovate their mosque. After Friday prayers, the day before the opening ceremony, one hundred villagers faced one thousand soldiers and police officers. Three guesses how that went. The two confirmed dead are reported to have been elderly. This was so unexpected and unprecedented in this area that it sends a message of the state cracking down hard. That’s particularly so given that the soldiers and officers weren’t sent out until the mosque was completed, and all the more so following on immediately from the Uighur deaths.
A major difference between what happened here and what happened in Xinjiang is that the Taoshan Muslims, who say they’ve never experienced religious persecution before, are Hui. China’s biggest Muslim ethnicity, the Chinese-speaking Hui have been far better treated and tolerated by the state than any other Muslim group as they have been considered more properly Chinese – or at least they have been since the mid-twentieth century state classification of ethnic groups. (This is not at all to endorse the sentiment in the piece linked at the start of the last paragraph that Hui “are practically indistinguishable from the Han”. One wonders to whom they are practically indistinguishable.)
Historically, then, China has not been kind to Muslim minorities, and there have been fatal Han/Uighur clashes in recent years, notably in Urumqi in 2009 when some Uighur people attacked Han Chinese, followed by a counterattack. If you’re interested in the relationship between Muslims and the Chinese state, I recommend you consult the historians Dru C. Gladney and Maris Boyd Gillette, but I’ll give you a brief rundown. It was state policy to suppress religious expression from 1949 until 1979, and they’re still not happy about it. Fostering of religious practices under the banner of minority ethnic customs has been on the rise since the 1990s. During this time, Hui gained permission to build mosques, and rebuild those that were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution; you can imagine that the Taoshan destruction must have affected worshippers very badly indeed. Ethnic minorities have been given government entitlements like tax-relief programs and permission to have more than one child. However, as Gillette argues, such measures were designed to counteract imagined substandard development in relation to the Han majority, justifying the state idea of a racial hierarchy. Minority customs and holidays in particular have been exoticised and commodified by the state, including through domestic tourism. And, then, the violence.
What’s going on here is that the Chinese government has a serious longstanding problem with religious expression and ethnic minorities both. The kicker comes in with justifications for deaths, injuries and destruction of property that sound curiously like the kind of Islamophobia you’d hear in a white Western context. Jihadists? Extremists? An evil cult? At play here is the bizarre and unjustified fear of the Muslim other that has been running through Western discourse for years now, to be sure. It also reads like a calculated appropriation of that discourse to justify local prejudices and violences. This time, however, China gets to justify prejudice against Muslim minorities not only on the terms of its own racial hierarchy, and not just to a Han majority, but to the world on Western ones.
It’s hard to keep track of what’s going on for Hui, Uighur, and other Muslim ethnic groups in China, simply because the state is keeping such a tight lid on reports of the true stories. From what’s leaking through, it’s clear that the world should be keeping a sharp eye out, because existing ethnic divisions are only becoming more fraught in China as Islamophobia continues to percolate worldwide.
Salman Rushdie’s visa should be cancelled: Darul Uloom Deoband
Muzaffarnagar, January 9, 2012, Opposing controversial author Salman Rushdie’s visit to India, Islamic Seminary Darul Uloom Deoband today said the government should cancel his visa as he had hurt religious sentiments of Muslims in the past.
65-year-old Rushdie, who had earned the wrath of Muslims worldwide due to his novel ‘The Satanic Verses’, is set to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival this month end.
“Indian government should cancel his visa as Rushdie had annoyed the religious sentiments of Muslims in the past,” Maulana Abul Qasim Nomani, the Vice Chancellor of Darul uloom, said in a release.
The government should take into account the feelings of Muslims against Rushdie, he stressed.
Rushdie’s novel ‘The Satanic Verses’, which was banned by India, had sparked outrage in the Muslim world, including a fatwa against him by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, on February 14, 1989.
The Indian-origin Rushdie had earlier visited the literary extravaganza in the Pink city in 2007.
On January 21, Rushdie along with authors Rita Kothari and Tarun Tejpal is slated to discuss the nuances of English with noted writer Ira Pande on the topic ‘Inglish, Amlish, Hinglish: The chutnification of English’.
Perpetrators in Pakistan acquitted in 77% of honour killing cases: Study
ISLAMABAD: January 09, 2012, Around 77 percent of honour killing cases ended in acquittal of the accused, a pilot study on “Honour Killing in Pakistan and Compliance of Law” revealed.
The study report was launched by Aurat Foundation’s Legislative Watch Programme for Women Empowerment, stressing the need for a consolidated plan of action to ensure implementation of the law against honour killing.
The author of the report, Maliha Zia, said that lack of data from courts, categorisation of First Information Reports (FIRs) and reluctance of the people to comment on honour killings were the main reasons affecting the implementation of the law.
The study showed that a lot of cases were highlighted in the media but were not reported with the police, and even if registered, not classified as honour killing.
The language used in the FIRs was not gender sensitive, she said, adding that courts usually gave decisions against the victims by using the provision of ‘grave and sudden provocation’. Maliha said that another factor which hindered the compliance of law was the fact that most of the ‘honour’ crimes were committed by family members, the `unwillingness’ of the family to lose another family member ended most of the cases in forced compromise.
She said the institutions concerned also lacked the commitment for implementation of the law. Commenting on the implementation of the law, Aurat Foundation Chief Operating Officer Naeem Ahmed Mirza stressed the need to look into the hurdles in the implementation of the law against honour killings, which was passed in 2004. app
Afghanistan to open embassy in Greece for refugees
KABUL: January 09, 2012, Afghanistan will open an embassy in Greece to help thousands of Afghan asylum seekers stranded while seeking a better life in Europe, the foreign ministry in Kabul said on Sunday.
The embassy, to be opened around March, will provide illegal Afghans with travel documents, mainly so they can return home. “Afghanistan plans to open an embassy in Greece within a few months to assist illegal Afghan migrants by providing passports for them,” foreign ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai told reporters in Kabul.
He said 50,000 Afghans enter Greece via Turkey each year, but most end up in jails or get deported. There has been a surge in the number of Afghans leaving the war-weary country in the last five years, according to Afghanistan’s ministry of refugees.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR said that in 2010 more of the world’s refugees — some 30 percent — came from Afghanistan than any other country, with more than three million in 75 countries. afp
Indian foreign minister visits Israel after a decade
JERUSALEM: Jan 9, 2012, External affairs minister SM Krishna arrived here on a two-day visit to Israel, the first by an Indian foreign minister in over a decade, that comes amidst political turmoil in the Middle East.
Krishna drove down from Jordan via the Allenby Bridge border post and was received by Indian envoy to Israel Navtej Sarna and officials of the Israeli Foreign Ministry here.
Krishna, who is on a visit to the Middle East, had met his Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh on Sunday.
The minister's visit to Jordan came close on the heels of Amman playing host to Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on January 3, the first in more than a year.
The visit by Krishna is being seen as a means to understand the recent developments in the region.
India looks at Jordan as a key nation in the region which is trying to revive the Middle East peace process, sources said, adding the country was also important for India's food security. Jordan is one of the crucial providers of fertiliser inputs like rock phosphate, phosphoric acid and potash.
Sources said various issues including the Arab Spring were discussed during the meeting between Krishna and Judeh.
Krishna was apprised of the situation in the region and the Minister commended the Jordanian effort on the peace initiative between Israel and Palestinian Authority.
Krishna is understood to have told his Jordanian counterpart that there is no problem that dialogue cannot solve issues and also reaffirmed India's stand on Palestine.
On the bilateral front, Jordan wished for a further cooperation at business to business level and expressed keenness to have a joint venture with India on supplying fertilizers.
Jordan also expressed interest in providing visa on arrival facility for Indians and pitched for an increase in bilateral trade.
Meanwhile, during his visit here, Krishna is expected to meet Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, besides holding talks with deputy prime minister and foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Cooperation in defence, security, agriculture and science and technology are expected to figure prominently in the discussions amid India's keenness to widen the scope of partnership in the field of defence, the sources said.
They said from a buyer-seller relationship, both sides are looking at expanding their relations.
Anti-terror cooperation is also expected to figure in the discussions, against the backdrop of growth in this aspect of the relationship since the Mumbai 2008 attacks in which six Israeli nationals were killed.
Krishna is scheduled to meet President Peres later in the evening. As per his schedule, Krishna will first visit the Holocaust Memorial and take a tour of the Indian Hospice in Jerusalem.
Ambassador Sarna will also be hosting a reception for Krishna in Tel Aviv.
Krishna's visit to Israel assumes significance because the last such trip took place in July 2000 when the then external affairs minister Jaswant Singh travelled here.
Religious freedom should begin at home
BY MICHAEL DEN TANDT,
JANUARY 9, 2012 2:10 AM
As they get set to roll out Canada's new Office of Religious Freedom, Conservatives face suspicion from opposition benches, as well as from left-leaning human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, that this is a clumsily-disguised attempt to curry favour with Christian evangelicals.
It's a fair question.
If the Office of Religious Freedom, to be established as a sub-branch within John Baird's Department of Foreign Affairs, becomes a vehicle uniquely for the defence of Pakistani Catholics or Egyptian Copts, it may do more harm than good. Rather than protecting the right to have faith, the government would be perceived as aligning itself with one faith, Christianity, over all the others.
If, however, Baird truly intends to champion religious freedom globally for all, including those who choose to be agnostic or atheist, then he has a great deal of important work ahead.
For rarely, judging from the latest report from the U.S. Department of State's Office of Religious Freedom, have there been more instances of governments violating people's inalienable human right to worship as they please, or not worship at all.
Al-Qaida, still the reigning champion of theistic hatred, in 2010 attacked Sufi, Shia, Ahmadiyah and Christian holy sites in Pakistan. The Taliban assassinated Abdullah Haleem, who was director of hajj and religious affairs in Kandahar. Iraqi extremists attacked the Our Lady of Salvation cathedral in Baghdad, killing 50.
State use of apostasy and blasphemy laws is on the rise, according to the State Department, most worryingly against Muslims who promote interfaith tolerance. In Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, converting to any faith but Islam is considered apostasy and punishable by death.
Anti-Semitism is flourishing on every continent, as seen in desecrations of cemeteries, racist graffiti, accusations of blood libel, Holocaust denial and other historical revisionism. In 2010 there was a rise in anti-Semitic cartoons in print in Poland, Spain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
In eight states in Germany now, teachers are not allowed to wear Islamic head scarves in schools. In the state of Hesse, civil servants may not wear head scarves at work. In Burma, the Theravada Buddhist-dominated authoritarian government restricts the practice of Christianity, Islam and any strain of Buddhism other than the majority's.
In Russia in 2010, the state levied criminal charges against people in possession of banned religious literature.
What can Canada hope to do about any of this? Perhaps a fair bit.
Baird's new office will have considerable resources - an annual budget of $5 million and, according to sources familiar with the project, a staff of five.
In a speech trumpeting the initiative last October, the minister's heart seemed in the right place: "We are a country of many ethnicities and religions," he told an Ottawa audience, "but we all share one humanity - one of tolerance, one of acceptance, one of peace and security."
Full Report at:
Govt. Urged to Crack Down on Extremist Elements
By Shamsul Islam
FAISALABAD, January 9, 2012: Speakers at a rally on Sunday urged the government to improve the law and order situation by cracking down on groups promoting religious extremism and intolerance among various communities for their vested interests.
The rally was organised jointly by the Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM), the Peace and Human Development (PHD) Foundation, the Development Organisation for Social Transformation (DOST) and the Participatory Organisation for Women Empowerment and Rights (POWER).
The participants held placards demanding that equal opportunities be available to all citizens without discrimination of the basis of caste, gender and economic status. They chanted slogans in support of democracy, justice and human rights and for promotion of peaceful ties between various groups within the country as well as with other countries in the region.
The speakers urged the government to crackdown on groups promoting religious extremism, intolerance and terrorism.
The rally started at the District Council Chowk and went up to the Circular Road.
Addressing the rally, Shazia George demanded that the government take action against groups spreading extremism in the country. She said many banned groups were operating in the country with impunity.
Naseem Anthony said education curricula be revised to purge them of hate literature. “Literature on peaceful coexistence and respect for human rights should be added to the syllabi,” he said.
He said the government should ensure that the life and property of all citizens was protected.
He said security should be provided to places of worship of all religious groups including mosques, churches and temples.
Nazia Sardar said the parliament needed to legislate protect the poor and marginalised communities from oppression.
Suneel Malik also spoke about the need for unity and peaceful coexistence among various groups in the country.
Malik said diversity in the country needed to be cherished, and not undermined. He said strict action should be taken against people spreading violence in the name of ethnicity, race and religion.
Dubai-born Kashmiri brings 'change' to her village
By Binoo Joshi, IANS,
Jammu : 8 January 2012, Moved by the plight of her remote village in Jammu and Kashmir state, a Kashmiri woman born and brought up in Dubai relinquished what could have been a lucrative career and opened a school there to usher in "change".
Sabbah Haji was born in Dubai in 1982 where her father was a manager in a shipping company. In 1997, her family shifted to Bangalore, from where Haji did her B.Com and nursed dreams of becoming a chartered accountant.
She started writing and editing for online journals, and prepared for her professional exams alongside. But the death of her grandfather in January 2009 changed her life in more ways than one.
She went to her native village Breswana in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir, and was immediately struck by what she saw.
"When I came here in 2009, what I saw was that nearly two generations of villagers had no education, due to the apathetic attitude of successive governments and militancy," Haji told IANS.
Breswana is located some 7,100 feet above sea level. The village is about a one-and-a-half-hour trek from the last motorable point about 43 km from Doda, which is 160 km northeast of Jammu.
Government schools remained shut during the peak of militancy. But she said even after normalcy returned, the situation did not improve.
"The teachers too would also attend the schools. The corruption is unparalleled and there is no accountability, especially in remote areas," she added.
Full Report at:
Nigeria descends into holy war
By Colin Freeman, The Sunday Telegraph
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, January 7, 2012 — Like many other Christian outposts in the spiritual homeland of Nigeria’s “Taliban,” the Victory Baptist Church in the northern desert city of Maiduguri no longer relies solely on God for protection.
A modest whitewashed spire in a skyline dominated by mosques, for the last month it has had a military guard to defend it from Boko Haram, the militant local Islamist sect blamed for a string of attacks nationwide in recent weeks.
The soldiers in the sandbagged machine-gun nest outside the church, though, were unable save three members of the flock last week.
On Wednesday evening, three days after Boko Haram ordered all Christians to leave Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria, Ousman Adurkwa, a 65-year-old local trader, answered the door of his home near the church to what he thought was an after-hours customer. Instead it was two masked gunmen.
“They shot my father dead, and then came for the rest of the family,” Adurkwa’s son Hyeladi, 25, told The Sunday Telegraph the following day. “One chased my brother Moussa and killed him, and the other shot at me, but my mother took the bullet in the stomach instead.”
Hyeladi spoke as weeping parishioners gathered for an impromptu memorial service in the Adurkwa family compound, where the parlour carpet was still stained with blood from the gunshot wound suffered by Mrs. Aduwurka, 50, who now lies in hospital.
But while the sermon from the local pastor, Brother Balani, urged “prayers for those who God has taken away, and comfort for those who remain,” it diplomatically avoided the more earthly question of who did it.
For one thing, no one can be sure the killing was not simply the result of a private feud. And for another, Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sinful,” and which wants hardline Shariah law across the whole of Nigeria, has a track record of killing anyone who points the finger at them publicly.
Yet some of the Adurkwa family’s neighbouring Christian households have already made up their mind, fleeing the district for fear they might be next.
“We are going through a very difficult time because of Boko Haram,” said Joseph Adams, 30, who lives next door to the Aduwurkas. “Two weeks ago, a nearby church was also burnt down, and nine other Christians have been killed. Now all the houses around me are emptying.”
The head of Nigeria’s Christians, Ayo Oritsejafor, said Saturday the killings of dozens of faithful suggested “ethnic and religious cleansing” reminiscent of the start of the 1960s civil war.
Full Report at:
Libyan children return to Gaddafi-free schools
TRIPOLI (Jan 7, 2012): Libyan children are returning to schools closed for months by civil war to find one teacher gone - Muammar Gaddafi, whose portraits have been stripped from classroom walls and once-revered words erased from the curriculum.
For decades, lessons based on his "teachings" were mandatory and his sometimes bizarre ideas permeated everything from history lessons to Arabic textbooks.
Educators are now scratching their heads over how to fill the gaps left by the expunging of the former dictator, the
education minister said as more than 1.2 million children returned to schools on Saturday.
"The subjects of political awareness and community studies have been cancelled," Minister of Education Suliman al-Sahli said.
"There are suggestions for substitute subjects and ... proposals are still under study," he said.
"The history subject has been cancelled and replaced by a new one put together by experts in this area to give us real history."
The start of the current school year, which should have been last September, has been postponed to January.
The last school year overran its schedule by months, because schools were closed for so much of the nine-month civil war which ended Gaddafi's 42-year rule. This school year will have to be be shortened.
One of the first things the now-ruling National Transitional Council did after taking up arms against Gaddafi was to set up a committee to wipe his teachings from the curriculum.
The three-volume "Green Book", which contains Gaddafi's musings on politics, economics and everyday life, used to be required reading for schools.
Quotations from it used to adorn classroom walls, but all have now disappeared.
The book laid out his "Third Universal Theory" which seeks to chart a course between Islam and socialism.
Children were tested by their ability to learn by heart as much quotes from the "Green Book" as possible.
A typical final exam question would be to explain the economic benefits of a rule promulgated by Gaddafi: "The house belongs to the dweller," meaning that tenants renting houses had the right to take over the property if they wish to do so.
At Tripoli's Salam Primary and Middle School, Seif al-Din Mustafa, a sixth grader, said he was happy textbooks related to Gaddafi were gone.
"The teacher used to hit us if we ... couldn't understand," he said.
Lamya Abdul Salam, 11, said the curriculum had been difficult to grasp.
"Now we wish they would improve the curriculum and make it more useful," he said.
Abdul Majid Ghonia, director of curriculum at the Ministry of Education, said the entire stock of textbooks in ministry warehouses related to Gaddafi's regime would be destroyed and replaced with 453 new textbooks.
The content of those new books, however, is as yet undecided. The challenge now is to agree on alternatives to
Gaddafi's versions of history, society and morality.
"We need to completely rethink the subjects taught in our schools, especially the cultural and political aspects which were abused by Gaddafi's regime to serve its propaganda purposes," said Suleiman Khoja, a senior ministry official.
Khoja said the government would organise a national conference to discuss ideas for alternative textbooks.
"We will not start that process (of replacing textbooks) without the participation of people who can come up with a new vision," he said. – Reuters
Iran sentences American man to death in CIA case
TEHRAN: Jan 9, 2012, An Iranian court has convicted an American man of working for the CIA and sentenced him to death, state radio reported Monday.
Iran charges that as a former U.S. Marine, Amir Mirzaei Hekmati received special training and served at U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan before heading to Iran for his alleged intelligence mission.
The radio report did not say when the verdict was issued. Under Iranian law, he has 20 days to appeal.
Hekmati, 28, was born in Arizona. His family is of Iranian origin. His father, who lives in Michigan, said his son is not a CIA spy and was visiting his grandmothers in Iran when he was arrested.
Tortured for Mecca Masjid blast, money can't heal their wounds
By Mohammed Shafeeq, IANS,
Hyderabad: 8 January 2012, From a bank executive to a medical student to the imam of a mosque to an embroidery worker, everyone arrested on false charges of involvement in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast has a frightening story to tell.Four years after they were subjected to torture by police in illegal custody, they are yet to overcome the trauma and are not sure if they can ever lead a normal life again.
Though the Andhra Pradesh government has made history by paying compensation to the victims of police harassment and torture, they say that money can never heal their wounds and that those guilty for their plight must be punished.
Unable to find suitable jobs due to the social stigma after being branded by police as 'terrorists' and agents of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, the youths face an uncertain future and many complain that the harassment is still continuing though Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy tendered an apology in the assembly and paid compensation.
Acting on the recommendations of the National Minorities Commission, the government Friday paid Rs.300,000 each to 15 youths who were acquitted in the case and Rs.20,000 each to 46 others who were let off by police after questioning.
They believe the money and a certificate stating that they are not involved in any case can never compensate them for the sufferings they went through.
Kept in illegal detention for several days at the alleged secret torture cells of police, the innocent youths were deprived of food and water, stripped naked, severely beaten up and were given electric shocks on their private parts.
For them justice is incomplete without punishment to the police officers who committed excesses to force them to own up to the May 17 blast at the historic mosque that claimed nine lives.
Full Report at:
Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim acquitted in sodomy trial
Kuala Lumpur:Jan 9, 2012, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was acquitted on Monday in a surprise end to a politically-charged sodomy trial he has called a government bid to cripple his opposition ahead of upcoming polls.
The ruling by judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah set off pandemonium in the Kuala
Lumpur high court, with Anwar mobbed by his wife, daughters and opposition politicians in joyous scenes.
Thousands of Anwar supporters who gathered outside under heavy security erupted into cheers and raised their fists in the air as news of the verdict filtered out.
In his brief verdict announcement, Zabidin said he could not rely on controversial DNA evidence submitted by the prosecution.
"The court is always reluctant to convict on sexual offences without corroborative evidence. Therefore, the accused is acquitted and discharged," he said.
The verdict in the more than two-year trial defied the expectations of many political observers and even Anwar himself, who said the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak was intent on eliminating him as a political threat.
It was the second sodomy verdict in a dozen years for Anwar, a former deputy premier in the 1990s who was next in line to head the country's long-ruling government until a spectacular downfall.
The charismatic Anwar had been groomed to succeed former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad until a bitter row between them saw Anwar ousted in 1998, beaten and jailed on sodomy and graft charges widely seen as politically motivated.
Once the sodomy charge was overturned in 2004 and he was released, the affair threw Anwar into the opposition, which he led to unprecedented gains against his former ruling party in 2008 general elections.
But the new sodomy charges emerged shortly after those polls - Anwar was accused of sodomising a former male aide - sparking accusations they were concocted by the ruling United Malays National Organisation to stall the opposition revival.
Sodomy is illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia and punishable by 20 years in jail.
Anti-Islam Sites under German Surveillance
OnIslam & Newspapers
CAIRO, 09 January 2012 - Worried that their anti-Muslim rhetoric undermines their society, German authorities are planning to place right-wing website under closer surveillance, throwing a spotlight on their role in fermenting hatred of Muslims in Europe
"Blogs and websites such as Politically Incorrect or Nürnberg 2.0 clearly promote a racism that extends deep into society," Ulla Jelpke, a member of parliament for the opposition Left Party, told The National newspaper on Monday, January 9.
"They call into question the dignity and the rights of a whole group of people solely because of their origin or their faith.
“They thereby clearly run counter to core values of the constitution."
Right-wing groups came under the spotlight after attacks by Norwegian right-winger Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in July.
In an online manifesto, the Norwegian attacker has described his attacks as a crusade to save Europe from Muslim invasion.
Thought many right-wing websites condemned the attacks, many of the arguments in his 1500-page manifesto matched their own rhetoric.
Calls have grown for bringing websites in Germany under surveillance after revelations in November that a neo-Nazi terrorist cell murdered at least 10 people, eight of them Muslim immigrants of Turkish origin, in a killing spree spanning more than a decade.
The case has embarrassed German authorities and exposed them to criticism that they have been blind to the threat posed by racists.
The head of the Hamburg branch of the intelligence agency, Manfred Murck, said there were clear signs that the operators of many anti-Muslim sites "had a disturbed relationship with the democratic rule of law" and often espoused "infringements of human rights protected under our constitution".
Politically Incorrect website was founded in 2004 by Stefan Herre, 46, a physical education teacher based in Cologne.
With more than 60,000 readers per day, the website is one of Europe's largest anti-Islamic sites.
Full Report at:
Norway’s ‘Beloved’ Terrorist Heads Back to Iraq
Bruce Bawer Bio Jan 9th, 2012
How time flies! It seems only yesterday that we folks in Norway first heard the name Mullah Krekar. The sometime leader of Ansar al-Islam – which narrow-minded individuals insist on calling a terrorist organization, but which I prefer to think of as a heavily armed, Koran-toting Iraqi version of Rotary or the Knights of Columbus – the charismatic Krekar has long since become every (well, not quite every) Norwegian’s lovable grandpa. Now, after many years in Norway, he has announced that he will soon be leaving us and returning to Iraq, where he will continue to pursue the task to which he has consecrated his life: that of serving his God.
And oh, how many ways there are to serve God! Ansar al-Islam, according to the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies, has “burned down girls’ schools and beaten and killed women for not wearing the burqa.” Human Rights Watch notes that under its previous name, Jund al-Islam, Krekar’s industrious associates took over villages in which they required, among other things, “the obligatory closure of offices and businesses during prayer time and enforced attendance by workers and proprietors at the mosque during those times; the veiling of women by wearing the traditional ‘abaya; obligatory beards for men; segregation of the sexes; barring women from education and employment; the removal of any photographs of women on packaged goods brought into the region; the confiscation of musical instruments and the banning of music both in public and private; and the banning of satellite receivers and televisions.” The Lord’s work never ends!
Full Report at:
Australia’s International Islamic College suing Saudi Arabia
DUBAI: 9 January 2012, Australia’s International Islamic College is suing Saudi Arabia for $2 million in unpaid school fees, the Australian Gold Coast college said.
The unpaid fees had forced the school to take out bank loans in order to keep it functioning as the unpaid fees left the college with major economic shortfalls, school officials were reported saying.
According to goldcoast.com.au, the Islamic College filed papers last week demanding the Saudi government pay the money promised in scholarships to study at Australian universities.
To obtain a study visa to Australia, families and scholarship providers are required to guarantee there are funds available to pay school fees of dependent children.
Keysar Trad, chief executive of the Brisbane-based school, which opened a campus at Carrara in 2010, said the school had tried for three years to secure the money it was owed.
“We hope to be successful in the courts because we are able to prove this debt,” Trad was quoted as saying.
“It’s really a move borne out of necessity; we don’t have the money to forget about it. It would be unconscionable for the Government not to pay.”
The school has now been forced to make Saudi families pay fees up-front.
Former student and educator in Dubai, Amir Hassan Abdelaziz, told Bikyamasr.com that he hoped the Saudi government would pay the back fees “because the experience I had in Australia was amazing and pushed me into the jobs I have had since.”
He continued to say that “if the school closes its doors to Saudi students, they will be shut off from the outside world even more and the conservatives in the country will win. This is an important decision they must take.”
For now, however, despite the lawsuit, the Saudi government has not responded to the claims and a quick recuperation of funds may not be so easy.
Pakistan likely to get trade concession from EU
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is expected to get trade concession offered by the European Union (EU) at World Trade Organization (WTO) on up to average 20 per cent export growth to the European markets from April this year.
The council trade body of the World Trade Organization is expected to approve limited Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) plus facility for Pakistan in its meeting likely to be held in the third week of next month in Geneva.
“Pakistan will get GSP plus facility on the average 20 per cent export growth to the European markets in the last three years and if exports exceeded then Pakistan will pay its duties on its exported items ,” an official told Online, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The official said, the GSP plus facility on up to average twenty per cent export is much enough for Pakistan as it is expected that Country’s overall export to the European countries will remain in up to average 20 per cent growth.
“Country’s export is expected to increase $ 150 to 200 million annually in case of getting GSP Plus facility,” said the official, adding that after giving its go-ahead to GSP Plus by Council Trade Body of WTO then the package will be tabled before European Parliament for its final approval,” added the official.
The official said that if WTO body approves GSP plus scheme in the third week expected meeting of February then European Parliament can complete its approval process till the end of March and so that the package can be initiated from April This year.
India withdraw its opposition after granting it Most Favored Nation(MFN)Status from Pakistan in November last year but some other countries including Bangladesh opposed the concession and now are expected to be approved.
To compensate the losses caused by flood which wrecked havoc else where in the country last year, EU had announced concession for Pakistan on 75dutiable products exported by Pakistan on September 16, 2010 which were subject to the WTO wavier and the WTO would take up the matte.
The selected product lines amount to almost 900 million Euros in import value, accounting for about 27 per cent of the EU imports from Pakistan. The total imports amount to 3.3 billion euros.
China planning military base in Pakistan, Indian report says
Freya Petersen January 9, 2012
China is planning a military base in Pakistan, India Today reported, citing "a secret report prepared by the government's joint intelligence committee."
According to the report:
At a time when Pakistan-US relations are strained — chiefly over drone missile attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas and the covert Navy SEAL operation attack that took out Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil — China has made no secret of its interest in strengthening its own ties with the nuclear-armed nation.
Last Thursday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao hosted Pakistani Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in Beijing and vowed to support closer military exchanges between the countries.
“China and Pakistan pledged to strengthen military ties and bring existing cooperation to a new level," Xinhua quoted China's Defense Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie as saying.
“China values its traditional friendship with Pakistan,” Liang reportedly said, adding that Beijing hopes to develop “pragmatic and effective cooperation with Pakistan in national defense arena."
The Associated Press of Pakistan quoted Kayani as echoing Liang's comments, saying that Pakistan "would continue to provide firm support to China on all issues concerning its core interests," without specifying those interests.
Kayani said, however, that the relationship had been strengthened by frequent high-level visits, joint exercises and enhanced technological cooperation.
China's deepening strategic penetration of Pakistan and joint plans to set up oil pipelines/ rail/ roads and naval and military bases are a matter of concern.
The paper acknowledged that: "China's desire for a military presence in Pakistan has been discussed by the political and military leadership of that country in recent months."
It noted that the issue of Chinese bases in Pakistan was discussed during the visits of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to China and during a visit late last year of the ISI chief, Shuja Pasha, to Beijing.
Should Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf be allowed to form the new government next year?
by Taha Habib
January 9th, 2012 Pakistan have suffered badly at the hands of the present government, and people are looking for a change. They have tried several different people in the past and the likes of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and Pakistan People’s Party have
been tried twice.
PPP president, Asif Ali Zardari, has been a huge disappointment in his tenure and has truly played the role of a dictator to the prime minister of Pakistan, Yousuf Raza Gilani. The Prime Minister might decline this but it is a fact of which even a new-born
is aware of.
These people have formed the worst government in country’s history and even the word of ‘thieves or stealers’ is too small for the ‘dual personalities’ such as these. They are solely responsible for the country’s electricity, fuel, gas and water problems,
and should consider themselves lucky for surviving until the present day, especially the person with a Moustache, glasses and a ‘truck-driver like face’.
Now the time has come where people are calling for a change and want to get rid of this ‘fraudulent’ setup. In this time of need, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf has risen to the occasion and promises to get the smiles back on the people of Pakistan.
It seems that the people are also supporting the former cricket captain’s cause and Imran is assumed to wipe out the likes of Gilani and Nawaz Sharif in the next elections. The whole of Pakistan is supporting the founder of Shaukat Khanum cancer hospital
and the so called ‘honourable Mr. President’ will definitely be answerable for every single penny once he receives the marching orders in the next elections.
Therefore, Tehreek-e-Insaaf is definitely the solution to all these problems and Imran Khan (hopefully) will be the next Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Rule of poor-middle class people destiny of Pakistan: MQM
KARACHI: January 08, 2012, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain has said that a revolution for bringing the rule of the poor and middle class people has become indispensable for Pakistan.
He declared that MQM’s convention in Sukkur on January 20 will bring good news about abolishing the age-old feudal system in the country.
He said this while talking to the members of Interior Sindh Tanzimi Committee (ISTC), a committee of Sukkur zone, and office-bearers and workers of different wings of his party via telephone from London, according to a statement issued by MQM on Sunday.
He said that the determination, courage and resolve of the workers had jolted the ramparts of the palaces of oppression and injustice and declared that these palaces would be razed down amid resounding slogans of truth and honesty.
He said that the message of his party had spread across the land of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai and hoped that the peasants, farmers, workers, labourers, would bring to an end the outdated feudal system by joining hands with his party.
He said that the unwavering workers of Sukkur would work day and night to make the party’s Sukkur convention a great success.
He commended the workers constantly working for the preparation of the convention and asked the MQM officials to look after the workers well and extend them due honour.
Altaf Hussain said that the leaders that demean their workers were base and shallow. He said that Altaf Hussain considered his workers as crown of his head.
He paid tributes to all the martyrs, including Nooruddin Jahangir, and prayed for their heavenly bliss.
He asked the workers to visit all the villages around Sukkur for spreading the party message and invite the villagers to participate in the convention on January 20.
He asked them to convey his salutation to the heads of all communities living in Sukkur and to every citizen.
Nawaz asks politicians to show political maturity to strengthen democracy
South Asian News Agency
LAHORE, January 8, 2012: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Mian Nawaz Sharif has said that there was no room for dictatorship in the country and politicians would have to show political maturity to strengthen democracy.
“Political parties are the asset of the country and symbol of national unity while dictators played the game of dividing them and creating parties of their choice to prolong their rule,” he said while talking to legislators and office-bearers of his party from various districts at his residence.
He said dictatorships not only damaged democratic process but also put national unity and solidarity at stake.
He said his party would play active role for making Pakistan a dignified and prosperous country.
“We will make Pakistan a country where ratio of progress is much more, youths have job opportunities besides creating conducive atmosphere for local and foreign investment,” he added.
Sharif said had the democratic process not been hindered in 1999 and development projects of that era had continued, the Pakistan would have become tiger of Asia in real sense today.
The PML-N chief urged them to have close liaison with the people of their respective constituencies and resolve their problems on priority.
Pak Interior Minister: Musharraf to be arrested on arrival
South Asian News Agency
ISLAMABAD, January 8, 2012
: Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said that Mansoor Ijaz is not a Pakistani citizen and that memogate has hurt the sentiments of the nation, adding that Mansoor Ijaz would be probed on arrival in Pakistan for writing letter against Inter-Services-Intelligence (ISI).
Speaking about former president Parvez Musharraf’s return, Rehman Malik said he is a proclaimed offender and he will be arrested as he steps on the Pakistani soil, adding that this is the duty of the police to arrest proclaimed offender wherever he is found.
Talking to media persons after holding meeting with Raja Parvez Ashraf, Rehman Malik said Mansoor Ijaz hatched memogate conspiracy to sell his article, adding that if Mansoor Ijaz had visited Pakistan why could he not come now?
He said that government would follow the instructions of the judiciary regarding the Mansoor Ijaz arrival in country, adding that why Nawaz Sharif entered in the conspiracy of third persons against Pakistan.
He said there should be investigation of whether PML-N had contact with Mansoor Ijaz or not, adding that ‘N’ league should tell nation about Ijaz’s conspiracy.
He said Benazir Bhutto was refrained from addressing in Rawalpindi on December 27, however, Former Minister for Water & Power Raja Pervez Ashraf asserted that he was not in the favour of Liaquatabad rally.
Rehman Malik denied reports regarding alteration of Benazir Bhutto’s route, adding that according to the protocol always police vehicle is followed.
Giving his remarks on controversial memogate scandal, Malik termed it as “gate of contention”, adding that the nation is very mush worried about it and Mansoor has harmed the feeling of masses.
He said that the interview of President Asif Zardari was watched by 40 million families, adding that after the interview many perceptions about PPP have died, adding that president is following the policy of reconciliation, which was started by Benazir Bhutto.
On the occasion Raja Parvez Ashraf said that it is his pray the Almighty Allah may take revenge from the killers of the Benazir Bhutto, adding that BB had been barred from addressing the public gathering at Liaquat Bagh. He said that leaders of the PPP had fears that any untoward incident could happen with BB after returning in the country.
Halt bloodshed now, Arab League tells Syria
CAIRO: Jan 9, 2012 , The Arab League repeated its demand Sunday for the Syrian government to immediately stop all violence and allow more monitors in, as activists reported at least 10 more civilians killed by regime forces including two teenagers.
Fierce clashes in the south between government troops and military defectors killed 11 soldiers, activists said. The Arab League also called on other armed parties to halt all bloodshed, an apparent reference to the defectors.
The ministerial committee called on “the Syrian government and various armed groups to immediately halt all forms of violence and to return to protesting peacefully for the success of the Arab League observers’ mission in Syria.”
The ministers agreed to increase the number of observers, which currently stands at 165, and said they may seek “technical assistance from the United Nations.”
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr Al-Thani said the ministers did not agree to call for UN experts to join the observers’ mission in Syria.
Five foreign ministers from the 22-member Arab League, also said the monitors need greater independence from the regime. Around 450 people have been killed by President Bashar Assad’s regime since observers began work in Syria nearly two weeks ago.
The opposition charges that the regime is misleading the observers and that the mission had done nothing to resolve the crisis.
The Qatari foreign minister said the League is aware that the mission has not fulfilled its goal of stopping the bloodshed. The success of the mission, said Al-Thani, “depends on the government of Syria, and that means stopping the killings, withdrawing troops from the cities, and allowing journalists to work and enter Syria.”
The government says that the turmoil in Syria is not an uprising but the work of terrorists and foreign-backed armed gangs.
US will respond if Iran blocks Strait of Hormuz: Panetta
WASHINGTON: January 9, 2012, The United States will respond if Iran tries to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Gulf, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta warned on Sunday, saying such a move would cross a “red line.”
“We made very clear that the United States will not tolerate the blocking of the Straits of Hormuz,” Panetta told CBS television. “That’s another red line for us and that we will respond to them.”
Panetta cautioned global rivals not to misjudge US plans to slash military spending over the next decade, saying America would still field the world’s strongest military and nobody should “mess with that.”
Panetta, speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, also reminded Republican presidential contenders who have criticised the Pentagon’s new military strategy that the decision to cut $487 billion in defence spending was made by a bipartisan Congress.
Panetta was seconded by General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said Iran has the means to close the waterway, through which 20 percent of the world’s oil passes.
Egyptian Islamic parties to secure big majority
MUSLIM FUNDAMENTALISTS are set to enjoy an overwhelming majority in Egypt’s first democratically elected parliament.
Projections by the Egypt Independent website show the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party, garnering 213 seats, while the second largest ultra-orthodox Salafi Noor Party could secure 111.
The Construction and Development Party established by Jamaa Islamiya has claimed 13 seats.
These figures could be slightly altered after the run-off in nine of Egypt’s 27 provinces taking place this week.
Other projections show Wasat, a centrist party founded by dissident Muslim brothers, winning at least half a dozen seats. If these figures are correct, fundamentalists could hold 343 of the 498 elected seats, or nearly 69 per cent.
The secular Egyptian Bloc, which expected to be third largest, has won at least 12 seats, the same number as Reform and Development, a party established by members of the outlawed former ruling party. Ten seats will be appointed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which assumed presidential powers after the ousting of Hosni Mubarak.
The Democratic Alliance, dominated by Freedom and Justice, expects to begin talks with the aim of forming a majority coalition.
The secular Wafd Party, which finished third with 37 seats and Construction and Development are seeking to join this grouping, reported the Egypt Independent, giving it about 271 seats.
Two names have apparently been advanced for the speakership, Freedom and Justice secretary general Saad al-Katany and Alliance co-ordinator Wahid Abdel Maguid.
Freedom and Justice deputy chairman Essam al-Erian said the party intends to form a coalition government that would fight corruption in the administration and restructure the police. He said, however, that this government would not be formed until mid-year when the SCAF is slated to hand power to a newly-elected president.
He urged all parties to back the current government under SCAF-appointed Kamal Ganzouri until the transition is completed. Mr Erian’s statements make it clear that Freedom and Justice has no intention of challenging the military over the timing of the transfer and the present interim cabinet’s continuation in office.
It remains to be seen, however, if the party will attempt to force the SCAF to alter its plan to appoint 80 of the 100 members of the commission due to draft a new constitution. Although Freedom and Justice does not wish to adopt a collision course with the military, the party is determined, especially if it is successful in forming a majority coalition, to have a major say in the constitution.
While the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis have tried to reassure secular liberals and Coptic Christians by pledging to seek consensus on legislation, neither are convinced of the fundamentalists’ bona fides. Confidence in them has been, to a certain extent, undermined by the formation of Saudi-inspired puritanical elements of committees for the enforcement of Muslim canon law, giving rise to speculation that they could impose their agenda on more moderate religious parties.
Iraq police say sorry for Saddam era
January 8, 2012
Iraq's police, completely reformed after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, on Sunday apologized for acts committed during the rule of the dictator Saddam Hussein, on the eve of the force's 90th anniversary.
"Security forces in the interior ministry apologize for the practices that took place during the former regime," the ministry said in a statement.
"They were forced to carry out practices that were not their duties."
It went on to say that the fledgling force, which has been rebuilt from the ground up in the past eight-plus years, were "the sons of the nation, carrying out their duties in order to implement the law and justice."
The statement came on the eve of the 90th anniversary of the police's 1922 founding, two years after Britain created the country under a League of Nations mandate, but a decade before it became fully independent.
Despite the apology for past acts, Iraq's security forces -- the police and army -- still regularly face criticism from rights groups for heavy-handedness, random arrests and abuses.
Interior ministry security forces, made up of city, oil and federal police as well as border enforcement officers and the facilities protection service, number around 650,000, according to government figures issued in October.
And even with their high staffing levels, multiple reports have assessed that they do not inspire public confidence and are unable to secure Iraq's cities and towns without help from the army.
"There is ... still a level of skepticism and mistrust towards the police in terms of law enforcement and human security," a UN report said last year.
And a separate report published in October 2011 from a U.S. watchdog warned that senior officials in the interior and defense ministry had said "Iraqi police forces are currently unable to secure all of Iraq's urban areas without assistance from the Iraqi army."
Monday's 90th Police Day commemorations follow the marking of the 91st anniversary of the foundation of the Iraqi armed forces on Friday, during which mortars targeted the Green Zone while the army staged a parade inside.
The latest events highlighting the Iraqi security forces come amid a spate of deadly violence against Shia pilgrims, including a wave of bombings on Thursday which killed 70 people.
The violence has dealt a blow to U.S. and Iraqi claims that domestic forces are able to maintain internal security, if not defend the country's borders.
U.S. forces dismantled the Iraqi security forces after toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003 in a move later panned for having put hundreds of thousands of men with military training out of work and creating a potent recruitment pool for insurgents.
Benghazi Revolutionary Brigades Declare Support to New Head of Armed Forces
Benghazi, 08 01 2012—Libyan revolutionary forces in the eastern part have announced on Sunday in communiqué that they all pledge allegiance to the new Chief of Staff of the Libyan armed forces.
The statement said: “believing in the great importance and need for rebuilding a capable national army that secures the country and people, we, the Gathering Revolutionary Brigades, welcome the long awaited decision of appointing a chief of staff.”
It also said “we congratulate Colonel Youssef al-Mangoush for his appointment to this mission.”
General Youssef Mangoush was appointed chief of staff on Tuesday by the National Transitional Council (NTC) after deliberation for sometime.
“We lend our hand to fully support him to build a national army that is disciplined according to legitimacy, neutral, protects the country and preserve its Islamic and Arab identity,” the statement added.
The appointment of Mangoush has received wide praise by all revolutionary forces who played major role in ousting the former dictator Gaddafi.
Mangoush became well know to the Libyan people when he was arrested by Gaddafi forces in the city of al-Brega in April 2011 as he was leading the rebel forces there.
Soon after his arrest he was shown on Gaddafi’s TV while he was interrogated. He showed great courage and refused to play to the dictator’s propaganda machine at the time by not condemning the uprising.
He was defiant and it was all clear to viewers that he was in honest in defending the revolution despite the possible death he was facing from Gaddafi regime.
He held the rank of colonel and has been now raised in the rank to general.
Born in Benghazi in 1950, he enrolled in military school in 1970 and specialized in anti-armor weaponry. He worked in different locations in Libya and fought in Libya's war in Chad, which ended in the 1980s. Mangoush was also a lecturer and instructor in Libya's military school.
Arab League tells Syria again to halt violence
9 January 2012
BEIRUT — The Arab League demanded that the Syrian government immediately stop all violence and allow more monitors in, as activists reported at least 10 more civilians, including two teenagers, were killed by regime forces.
Fierce clashes in the south between government troops and military defectors left 11 soldiers dead on Sunday, activists said. The Arab League also called on other armed parties to halt all bloodshed, an apparent reference to the defectors.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabr Al Thani said the ministers did not agree to call for U.N. experts to join the observers’ mission in Syria, but said U.N. experts will train the monitors in Cairo before they leave. Even had they called for the U.N. experts to go in, Syria’s regime may well have blocked them.
The success of the mission, said Al Thani, who heads the committee, “depends on the government of Syria, and that means stopping the killings, withdrawing troops from the cities, and allowing journalists to work and enter Syria.”
The ministerial committee called on “the Syrian government and various armed groups to immediately halt all forms of violence and to return to protesting peacefully for the success of the Arab League observers’ mission in Syria.”
At the meeting, the head of the observers issued his first report on the mission, sharing photos, maps and initial findings.
The five foreign ministers from the 22-member Arab League, who met in Cairo, said the 165 Arab League monitors now on the ground need greater independence from President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Full Report at:
Yemen Cabinet approves immunity law
SANAA, Yemen, January 2012— Yemen’s Cabinet approved a law granting President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and anyone who has worked under him, immunity from prosecution for any crimes committed during his 33-year rule.
Sunday’s decision came as a surprise to many in Yemen, who believed that a power transfer deal he signed in November granted him and his family immunity from prosecution for the killings of protesters, but would not extend to cover his 33-year rule and anyone who worked in government.
The Cabinet approved the law despite nationwide daily protests demanding the longtime leader be put on trial for the killing of hundreds of people in raids on protest camps, the use of snipers and armed attacks on marches during the country’s 11-month popular uprising.
The wording of the law “provides President Ali Abdullah Saleh and those who worked with him, including in civilian, military and security institutions during the period of his presidency, legal and judicial immunity.”
Activists say that the country’s Revolutionary Guards, run by Saleh’s son, are responsible for most of the attacks on protesters.
Yemen’s new national unity government, comprised of an equal number of opposition and loyalist ministers, approved the law in accordance with the transfer agreement that Saleh signed in neighboring Saudi Arabia late last year.
The agreement, brokered by Yemen’s powerful Arab neighbors and backed by the United States, the EU and the U.N., grants Saleh immunity in exchange for him hand handing over powers to his deputy.
According to the agreement, Yemen’s parliament must approve the law as a formality after the Cabinet vote.
Saleh is scheduled to hand over the presidency to his vice president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Feb. 21.
Full Report at:
Japan assured of steady supply in face of Iran crisis
By GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN, ARAB NEWS
RIYADH: Jan 9, 2012, Saudi Arabia and Japan pledged to boost cooperation in the energy sector with a proposal to provide more oil to Tokyo in case of a shortage or supply disruptions following fresh sanctions imposed on Iran by the West.
“Defense Minister Prince Salman and Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi held talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and discussed bilateral and regional issues as well as ways and means to cooperate in energy sector,” Abdulaziz A. Turkistani, Saudi ambassador to Japan, said on Sunday.
He said the talks between Prince Salman and Gemba “mainly focused on how to strengthen Saudi-Japanese relations further.”
Prince Salman, who last visited Japan in 1998, was also presented a plaque of appreciation by Gemba, said the envoy, adding that the talks were held in a “candid” atmosphere.
“The talks with Al-Naimi were, of course, more on joint proposals, plans and projects in energy sector,” said Turkistani.
He said the two sides also discussed the international oil prices, joint investments, exchange of expertise, and prospects of cooperation between oil producing and oil consuming countries.
The talks with Al-Naimi, which was attended by Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, assistant minister of petroleum and mineral resources, and other senior Saudi officials also focused on stability of oil prices in international markets and environmental issues.
Speaking to reporters in Riyadh, Masaru Sato, deputy spokesman for Japan’s Foreign Ministry, said the talks included “Iran's nuclear ambitions and Saudi oil supplies.”
According to the spokesman, Saudi Arabia supplies 30 percent of Japan's oil imports, with another 20 percent coming from the United Arab Emirates, 10 percent from Qatar and nine percent from Iran. Fresh sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program could make it difficult for refineries in Japan, Iran's No. 3 crude buyer, to pay Tehran for its oil.
Pressure from Washington and the European Union to boycott Iranian oil is mounting at a time when Japan must make greater use of thermal power plants after a massive earthquake and tsunami sparked a nuclear power crisis last March. The vast majority of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors are now shut down, amid public distrust of the technology and increased safety calls.
Sato said Al-Naimi and Gemba agreed that the “oil price stability is important amid concerns over a potential surge in crude prices as the United States and EU countries move to toughen sanctions against oil-producing Iran over its nuclear program.”
Japan also aims to expand “its infrastructure-related exports” to the nations in the Middle East, mainly in the fields of solar and other renewable energy technologies.
If nuclear reactors in Japan are not reactivated, demand for fuel for thermal power generation in fiscal year 2012 will reach 40.96 million kiloliters, three times the 2010 level.
Int’l Festival of Muslim Women’s Print Media Kicks off in Tehran
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency)
Tehran, January 08,2012 - The International Festival of Muslim Women’s Print Media began Sunday, January 08, in Tehran.
The opening ceremony featured speeches by Culture Minister Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini and director general of the Islamic Culture and Relation Organization’s women and family affairs Sedigheh Hejazi.
The Culture Minister said the Holy Quran has lauded great women and introduced them as role models not only for other women, but for men as well.
Dr Hosseini said the Holy Book emphasizes that man and woman have no difference in terms of striving for perfection and reaching God.
He referred to Taqwa (God-fearing) as the basis of the family and said the fact that the foundation of family has been shattered in the West is a result of neglecting Taqwa.
He concluded his speech quoting supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Imam Khamenei as saying that western countries talk a lot about women but make no mention of family because the issue of family is their weakness.
Chief editors and managing directors of print media from countries like Argentina, Egypt, Russia, Indonesia, Sudan, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, Tatarstan, Iraq, Bosnia, Pakistan, Lebanon, Ghana, Thailand, Syria, Tunisia, and France have attended the festival.
There will be sideline forums discussing issues like new Islamic law and the role of time; present conditions of the Islamic world, requirements for activity in the field of print media; activities of contemporary Western journals; a look at Islamic and Western lifestyles; the latest developments in the Islamic world and Muslims’ mission; and the situation of capitalism in the world and Muslims’ duty towards the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
Jointly organized by the Union of the Muslim World Students, Iran’s National Library, Tehran Municipality, and the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, the International Festival of Muslim Women’s Print Media will run until January 12.
Inter-Islamic virtual universities launched in Tehran
Jan 8, 2012
The Inter-Islamic Network of Virtual Universities in Tehran; The standing committee of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on science and technology known as COMSTECH in a ceremony set up a network of virtual universities in Tehran.
The Inter-Islamic Network of Virtual Universities, IINVU, has been established to strengthen and improve scientific, instructional, research and technological collaboration among Islamic countries.
The virtual universities network will be based at Payam-e-Noor University in Tehran, a state-owned distance learning university with 3,500 academic staff and 1.1 million students.
Iran is the only country in the Islamic world which has launched three inter-Islamic scientific networks; nanotechnology, science and technology parks and virtual universities are the three inter-Islamic networks established in Iran.
The network offers new educational programs including multimedia and web-based educational content, virtual laboratories and virtual research spaces.
The network also aims to facilitate the exchange of students, scholars and academics among member countries for virtual knowledge sharing.
The network of virtual universities is expected to help bridge the digital gap among OIC member states.
Major conference on Islamic banking set for January 23
By A Staff Reporter -
MUSCAT, 09 January 2012—Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal is all set to organise a major Islamic Finance and Banking Conference on January 23 and 24 in collaboration with the Central Bank of Oman at Al Bustan Palace Hotel.
The conference will discuss latest developments on the heels of the granted permission for banks and financial institutions operating in the Sultanate, to provide banking and financial services compliant with Islamic law.
Islamic banking industry is expected to size up to $ 6 billion in Oman in 3-5 years, with an 8 to 10 percent annual growth rate.
Key issues related to the Islamic financial industry will be discussed during the course of the two-day conference including: Policies and Regulatory Perspectives of Islamic Finance, Islamic Banking growth and International expansion, Islamic Finance and Capital Market Activities, Supervisory and Regulatory Role of Shari’ah Boards, Islamic Finance Socio-Economic Accountability.
Speakers include Chief Executive of the Central Bank of Oman Hamood bin Sangour al Zadjali, and the Governor of the Central Bank of UAE Sultan bin Nasser al Souwaidi, First Vice-Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon Raed Charafeddine, Chairman of the Union of Arab Banks Adnan Youssef, in addition to a high level delegation from the Islamic Bank for Development, headed by President Dr. Ahmad Mohamad Ali, who will deliver the keynote speech at the conference’s opening ceremony.
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Saudi private sector warms to ICIEC’s export credit and political risk insurance services
By MUSHTAK PARKER, ARAB NEWS
Jan 8, 2012
Contrary to popular misconception, Saudi Arabia is the largest beneficiary of the services of the Jeddah-based Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Export Credits and Investment (ICIEC), the standalone export credit agency (ECA) of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group.
The World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) in its 2011 World Investment and Political Risk report which was published in December in London, indeed confirmed that.
The demand for political risk insurance (PRI) is sharply increasing and PRI supply by members of the Bern Union is remaining robust and pricing is reflecting a buyer's market. In the MENA countries, this includes demand for Shariah-compliant PRI which has increased significantly, according to both ICIEC and the Aman Union, the association of investment and export credit agencies in the Arab and Islamic world.
As the global economic and financial crisis and its impact on markets the world over; the euro zone sovereign debt crisis; and the fallout of the Arab Spring continue to fester, demand for investment, political risk and sovereign risk insurance is soaring as part of risk management and mitigation strategies.
Abdel Rahman Taha, chief executive officer of ICIEC, in an exclusive interview, confirmed that the Kingdom is the main beneficiary of the Corporation's policies. "There are 176 policyholders from the private sector in Saudi Arabia. In fact, most of our policyholders are private sector companies. Due to its multilateral nature, ICIEC has no relation with regulators therefore we are exempt from national regulation. However, ICIEC is cooperating with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) to encourage commercial banks in the Kingdom to benefit from ICIEC's credit risk mitigation services," he explained.
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Iranian Falm maker donates cash prize of 100 million rials to children of Somalia
TEHRAN -- Filmmaker Hassan Fat’hi has donated his recent cash prize of 100 million rials (about $6,666) to the famine-stricken children of Somalia.
Accompnied by an Iranian actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mahtab Keramati, Fat’hi appeared at the office of UNICEF Deputy Representative Mohamed el Munir Safieldin and donated his prize, the Persian service of MNA reported on Saturday.
Fat’hi took the best director award for “Reverse Gear” at the first edition of the Jam-e-Jam Festival of Television Productions in Tehran on December 30.
The filmmaker expressed his regret over the disaster that Somalia has been through and hoped that all artists across the world would feel a sense of responsibility for the pain experienced by the people of Somalia and especially the children
Fat’hi had plans to make a movie on the children of Somalia last year. He also carried out research for a year but the movie was never made due to financial problems. “However, I decided to donate the first prize I receive to the children of Somalia,” he said.
Safieldin expressed his thanks to Fat’hi and said, “UNICEF praises such acts, which show solidarity with children. We believe all children are important and should enjoy the same rights every where in the world”.
On July 20, the United Nations declared a famine in two regions of southern Somalia owing to the worst drought in decades, and appealed for urgent resources to assist millions of people in desperate need of help.
Iran has been sending several shipments of humanitarian to Somalia over the past months.
Prague film fest to spotlight Iranian women
TEHRAN -- The Prague Iranian Film Festival will spotlight the role of women in Iranian society during its first edition which will be held from January 11 to 15.
With a focus on strong female characters in films as well as numerous works by female directors, the festival will screen movies in three categories: feature films, documentaries and short films.
“Portraying a realistic image of Iranian women … opens the doors to a better understanding of [Iranian] society as a whole,” says Torang Daneshmand, executive director of Tokada Productions, the organizer of the festival.
“Nader and Simin: A Separation” by Asghar Farhadi, “So Simple” by Seyyed Reza Mirkarimi, “Shirin” by Abbas Kiarostami, “Gilaneh” by Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, and “Heiran” by Shalizeh Arefpur are among the films which will go on screen at the event.
All films will be screened in Persian, with both English and Czech subtitles.
The Festival of Iranian Films in Prague is the first of its kind in the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic has always played a very significant role in the history of European cinema and the Czech people have long been persistent lovers of cinema.
The Festival of Iranian Films in Prague is a fresh and unique cinematic opportunity that has not yet been experienced in the Czech Republic and will open the doors to an exceptional cultural exchange.
The main goal of the festival is to provide a vivid image of Iranian cinema for a wide range of international audiences in the Czech Republic. The festival consists of three different programs; ‘Fiction’, ‘Documentary’ and ‘Short Films’. Each introduces a different spectrum of the art of film in Iran.