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Islamic World News ( 28 Oct 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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American Media Wake Up to 'Ugly Innuendo' on Islam, but only after Colin Powell’s intervention

Moved by a Crescent By MAUREEN DOWD

CAIRO: Conservative Salafi Islam rises in Egypt

Islamic law ‘subservient’ to family courts, says UK minister

Women rights activists back Muslim leaders

CAIRO: From drab to decadent: the evolution of Islamic TV

PARIS, Texas: At service, activists decry Texas dragging death

Ramallah: Hamas and Islamic Jihad Still Feuding

Sydney: Accused men sought violent jihad: court

Demographic implosion in Muslim societies

Islamic leader walks the peace walk across Canada

Compiled by Syed Asadullah



American Media Wake Up to 'Ugly Innuendo' on Islam, but only after Colin Powell’s intervention Oct 25/2008 by Gabriel Voiles

Declaring (10/22/08) that "it's hard not to read all the editorial plaudits for [Colin] Powell as something of an indictment of the opinion writers complimenting his courage," Lester Feder also chides his own for relative silence until, in his Sunday appearance on Meet the Press, Powell cited the persistent right-wing "Barack Obama is a secret Muslim" rumours as one of the reasons that he is withholding support for Senator John McCain. "Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?" Powell asked indignantly, "The answer’s no, that’s not America."

    Maureen Dowd amplified Powell's comments in her New York Times column today. "It was a tonic to hear someone push back so clearly on ugly innuendo," she writes. But her praise raises the question--couldn’t someone with a New York Times op-ed column have provided that tonic without Colin Powell's prodding?

Feder's disdain is apparent when noting that, "while 'secret Muslim' rumours have been circulating for two years, it's only after Colin Powell goes on television that the opinion pages wake up."


See FAIR's new report Smearcasting: How Islamophobes Spread Fear, Bigotry and Misinformation




One Response:

Doug Latimer Says:

October 26th, 2008 at 5:19 pm

Who is this courageous person named Colin Powell?

I know someone with that name. He shares responsibility for the murders of untold numbers of Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and elsewhere.

He got his big break trying to cover up My Lai (see Robert Parry's work on that aspect of his career).

Must be someone else!

Of course, this Colin Powell waited quite a while before taking his courageous stand against religious bigotry, didn't he?

I'm sure he had more important matters to attend to.

Just like the corporate columnists and editors who've followed his lead.



Moved by a Crescent


Published: October 21, 2008

Colin Powell had been bugged by many things in his party’s campaign this fall: the insidious merging of rumours that Barack Obama was Muslim with intimations that he was a terrorist sympathizer; the assertion that Sarah Palin was ready to be president; the uniformed sheriff who introduced Governor Palin by sneering about Barack Hussein Obama; the scorn with which Republicans spit out the words “community organizer”; the Republicans’ argument that using taxes to “spread the wealth” was socialist when the purpose of taxes is to spread the wealth; Palin’s insidious notion that small towns in states that went for W. were “the real America.”


But what sent him over the edge and made him realize he had to speak out was when he opened his New Yorker three weeks ago and saw a picture of a mother pressing her head against the gravestone of her son, a 20-year-old soldier who had been killed in Iraq. On the headstone were engraved his name, Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, his awards — the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star — and a crescent and a star to denote his Islamic faith.


“I stared at it for an hour,” he told me. “Who could debate that this kid lying in Arlington with Christian and Jewish and nondenominational buddies was not a fine American?”


Khan was an all-American kid. A 2005 graduate of Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin, N.J., he loved the Dallas Cowboys and playing video games with his 12-year-old stepsister, Aliya.


His obituary in The Star-Ledger of Newark said that he had sent his family back pictures of himself playing soccer with Iraqi children and hugging a smiling young Iraqi boy.


His father said Kareem had been eager to enlist since he was 14 and was outraged by the 9/11 attacks. “His Muslim faith did not make him not want to go,” Feroze Khan, told The Gannett News Service after his son died. “He looked at it that he’s American and he has a job to do.”


In a gratifying “have you no sense of decency, Sir and Madam?” moment, Colin Powell went on “Meet the Press” on Sunday and talked about Khan, and the unseemly ways John McCain and Palin have been polarizing the country to try to get elected. It was a tonic to hear someone push back so clearly on ugly innuendo.


Even the Obama campaign has shied away from Muslims. The candidate has gone to synagogues but no mosques, and the campaign was embarrassed when it turned out that two young women in headscarves had not been allowed to stand behind Obama during a speech in Detroit because aides did not want them in the TV shot.


The former secretary of state has dealt with prejudice in his life, in and out of the Army, and he is keenly aware of how many millions of Muslims around the world are being offended by the slimy tenor of the race against Obama.


He told Tom Brokaw that he was troubled by what other Republicans, not McCain, had said: “‘Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.’ Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim. He’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no. That’s not America. Is something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?”


Powell got a note from Feroze Khan this week thanking him for telling the world that Muslim-Americans are as good as any others. But he also received more e-mails insisting that Obama is a Muslim and one calling him “unconstitutional and unbiblical” for daring to support a socialist. He got a mass e-mail from a man wanting to spread the word that Obama was reading a book about the end of America written by a fellow Muslim.


“Holy cow!” Powell thought. Upon checking, he saw that it was a reference to Fareed Zakaria, a Muslim who writes a Newsweek column and hosts a CNN foreign affairs show. His latest book is “The Post-American World.”


Powell is dismissive of those, like Rush Limbaugh, who say he made his endorsement based on race. And he’s offended by those who suggest that his appearance Sunday was an expiation for Iraq, speaking up strongly now about what he thinks the world needs because he failed to do so then.


Even though he watched W. in 2000 make the argument that his lack of foreign policy experience would be offset by the fact that he was surrounded by pros — Powell himself was one of the regents brought in to guide the bumptious Texas dauphin — Powell makes that same argument now for Obama.


“Experience is helpful,” he says, “but it is judgment that matters.”




Conservative Salafi Islam rises in Egypt

October 26, 2008

CAIRO, Egypt

The Muslim call to prayer fills the halls of a Cairo computer shopping centre, followed immediately by the click of locking doors as the young bearded tech salesmen close shop and line up in rows to pray.

Business grinding to a halt for daily prayers is not unusual in conservative Saudi Arabia, but until recently it was rare in the Egyptian capital, especially in affluent commercial districts like this one.

But nearly the entire three-story mall is made up of computer stores run by Salafis, an ultraconservative Islamic movement that has grown significantly across the Middle East in recent years.

"We all pray together," said Yasser Mandi, a salesman at the Nour el-Hoda computer store. "When we know someone who is good and prays, we invite them to open a shop here in this mall." Even the name of Mandi's store is religious, meaning "Light of Guidance."

Critics worry that the rise of Salafists in Egypt, as well as in other Arab countries such as Jordan and Lebanon, will crowd out the more liberal and tolerant version of Islam long practiced there. They warn that the doctrine is only a few shades away from that of violent groups like al-Qaida - that it effectively preaches "Yes to jihad, just not now."

In the broad spectrum of Islamic thought, Salafism is on the extreme conservative end. Saudi Arabia's puritanical Wahhabi interpretation is considered its forerunner; Saudi preachers on satellite TV and the Internet have been key to Salafism's spread.

Salafist groups are gaining in numbers and influence across the Middle East. In Jordan, a Salafist was chosen as head of an old-guard opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood. In Kuwait, Salafists elected to parliament are leading the resistance to any change they believe threatens traditional Islamic values.

The gains for Salafists are part of a trend of turning back to conservatism and religion after nationalism and democratic reform failed to fulfill promises to improve people's lives. Egypt has been at the forefront of change in both directions, toward liberalization in the 1950s and '60s and back to conservatism more recently.

The growth of Salafism is visible in dress. In many parts of Cairo women wear the niqab, a veil that shows at most the eyes rather than the hijab scarf that merely covers the hair. The men grow their beards long and often shave off mustaches, a style said to imitate the Prophet Muhammad.

The word salafi in Arabic means ancestor, harking back to a supposedly purer form of Islam said to have been practiced by Muhammad and his companions in the seventh century. Salafism preaches strict segregation of the sexes and resists any innovation in religion or adoption of Western ways seen as immoral.

"When you are filled with stress and uncertainty, black and white is very good; it's very easy to manage," said Selma Cook, an Australian convert to Islam who for more than a decade called herself a Salafi.

"They want to make sure everything is authentic," said Cook, who has moved away from Salafist thought but still works for Hoda, a Cairo-based Salafi satellite channel.

In most of the region, Salafism has been a purely social movement calling for an ultraconservative lifestyle. Most Salafis shun politics - in fact, many argue that Islamic parties like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinians' Hamas are too willing to compromise their religion for political gain.

Its preachers often glorify martyrdom and jihad - or holy war - but always with the caveat that Muslims should not launch jihad until their leaders call for it. The idea is that the decision to overturn the political order is up to God, not the average citizen.

But critics warn that Salafis could easily slide into violence. In North Africa, some already have - the Algerian Salafi Group for Call and Combat has allied itself with al-Qaida and is blamed for bombings and other attacks. Small pockets of Salafis in northern Lebanon and Gaza have also taken up weapons and formed jihadi-style groups.

"I am afraid that this Salafism may be transferred to be a jihadi Salafism, especially with the current hard socio-economic conditions in Egypt," says Khalil El-Anani, a visiting scholar at Washington's Brookings Institution.

The Salafi way contrasts with the Islam long practiced in Egypt. Here the population is religious but with a relatively liberal slant. Traditionally, Egyptian men and women mix rather freely and Islamic doctrine has been influenced by local, traditional practices and an easygoing attitude to moral foibles.

But Salafism has proved highly adaptable, appealing to Egypt's wealthy businessmen, the middle class and even the urban poor - cutting across class in an otherwise rigidly hierarchical society.

In Cairo's wealthy enclaves of Maadi and Nasr City, robed upper-class Salafis drive BMWs to their engineering firms, while their wives stay inside large homes surrounded by servants and children.

Sara Soliman and her businessman husband, Ahmed el-Shafei, both received the best education Egypt had to offer, first at a German-run school, then at the elite American University in Cairo.

But they have now chosen the Salafi path.

"We were losing our identity. Our identity is Islamic," 27-year-old Soliman said from behind an all-covering black niqab as she sat with her husband in a Maadi restaurant.

"In our [social] class, none of us are brought up to be strongly practicing," added el-Shafei, also 27, in American-accented English, a legacy of a U.S. boyhood. Now, he and his wife said, they live Islam as "a whole way of life," rather than just a set of obligations such as daily prayers and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.

A dozen satellite TV channels, most Saudi-funded, are perhaps Salafism's most effective vehicle. They feature conservative preachers, call-in advice shows and discussion programs on proper Islamic behavior.

Cairo's many Salafist mosques are packed on Fridays. Outside Shaeriyah mosque, a bookstall featured dozens of cassettes by Mohammed Hasaan, a conservative preacher who sermonizes on the necessity of jihad and the injustices inflicted on Muslims.

Alongside the cassettes, a book titled The Sinful Behaviours of Women displayed lipstick, playing cards, perfumes and cell phones on the cover. Another was titled The Excesses of American Hubris.

Critics of Salafism say it has spread so quickly in part because the Egyptian and Saudi governments encouraged it as an apolitical, non-violent alternative to hard-line jihadi groups.

These critics warn that the governments are playing with fire - that Salafism creates an environment that breeds extremism. Al-Qaida continues to try to draw Salafists into jihad, and its No. 2, the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahri, praised Salafists in an Internet statement in April, urging them to take up arms.

"The Salafi line is not that jihad is not a good thing; it is just not a good thing right now," said Richard Gauvain, a lecturer in comparative religion at the American University in Cairo.

The Salafis' talk of eventual jihad focuses on fighting Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq, not on overthrowing pro-U.S. Arab governments denounced by al-Qaida. Most Salafi clerics preach loyalty to their countries' rulers; some sharply denounce al-Qaida.

Egypt, with Saudi help, sought to rehabilitate jailed Islamic militants, in part by providing them with Salafi books.

The political quietism of the Salafis and their injunctions to always obey the ruler are too good an opportunity for established Arab rulers to pass up, said novelist Alaa Aswani, one of the most prominent critics of rising conservatism in Egypt.

"That was a kind of Christmas present for the dictators because now they can rule with both the army and the religion," he said. Source:,0,3586366,print.story


Islamic law ‘subservient’ to family courts, says UK minister

By Joshua Rozenberg

27 Oct 2008

Like most people, I am concerned about the spread of Islamic law in Britain. I thought it important to report last week that the law lords had condemned Sharia law in Lebanon as “arbitrary and discriminatory” because it would have prevented a mother from bringing up her own child.

But before condemning the Justice Minister, Bridget Prentice, for her written answer in Parliament on Thursday, I think it is important to consider exactly what she said.

The minister was asked what guidance had been issued on the validity of fatwas and of other rulings issued by religious authorities to decide matrimonial disputes.

“We do not issue any guidance on the validity of fatwas or other rulings by a religious authority,” she replied, “because there is no need for such guidance. Sharia law has no jurisdiction in England and Wales and there is no intention to change this position.

“Similarly, we do not accommodate any other religious legal system in this country's laws. Any order in a family case is made or approved by a family judge applying English family law.”

A pretty robust reply, then. Why all the fuss?

Because the minister went on to point out that, in a family dispute dealing with money or children, the parties to a judgment in a Sharia council might wish to have this recognised by English authorities. In that case, she explained, they were at liberty to draft a consent order embodying the terms of the agreement and submit it to an English court.

That draft would not be binding on the judiciary, she stressed. But the process “allows English judges to scrutinise it to ensure that it complies with English legal tenets”.

Now I am perfectly prepared to accept that judicial scrutiny may, in practice, be quite perfunctory. If that is so, we should not tolerate it: English judges must consider sharia-based consent orders with great care.

This is particularly important where children are involved. As the law lords told us last week, there is a “rule of sharia law dictating that at the age of seven a child’s physical custody automatically passes from the mother to the father or another male member of his family”.

I cannot imagine that anybody would seek approval of such an arrangement from an English court. It would be rejected immediately and could be set aside if approved in error.

And Sharia-inspired financial settlements on divorce or separation may be rather less obvious. Under Sharia, a woman is not regarded as equal to a man. There must be a grave risk that women will be treated less favourably by a Sharia council than those claiming maintenance through a secular court.

Women may also come under pressure from within their own communities to have a one-sided Sharia ruling endorsed by the civil courts. This is all the more important when children are involved, because a mother who receives insufficient maintenance for her child may not be able to bring the child up herself.

I suspect that some tightening of court procedures is required to ensure that consent orders based on Sharia rulings are always considered personally by a judge of sufficient seniority. If this is going to increase the work of the courts then the minister will simply have to provide increased funding.

But if it can be established that a Sharia ruling on maintenance is objectively fair, is accepted by the parties and makes sufficient financial provision for the children, are we to deny Muslims the chance to register and enforce it merely because it was created by a court by whose rulings the parties feel themselves bound? Why should Muslims be denied the right to the new “fast-track” separation agreements I reported this month?

As the minister stressed, “religious courts are always subservient to the established family courts of England and Wales.”

However, her Parliamentary answer may have caused some confusion because it referred also to non-matrimonial disputes. Here, again, some caution is required

Sharia courts or councils cannot decide questions of personal status under English law — whether or not someone is married or divorced, for example and whether a child should live with its mother or father. But where such questions do not arise, there seems little reason to prevent to business people, operating at arms’ length, from settling commercial disputes according to Sharia principles.

As I explained in an earlier piece, I would be concerned if a non-Muslim was put under pressure, for example, to agree that any dispute over a contract with a Muslim had to be resolved by a Sharia arbitrator. I would need to be convinced that a Muslim woman would not come off second best in a dispute with a Muslim man. But, again, are we to deny Muslims the right to enforce arbitration awards simply because the arbitrator has applied principles that both sides accept?

As the minister explained, there is nothing new in this. There is no evidence that any change in the law was “quietly sanctioned” last year, even though 2007 marked the opening of a Muslim arbitration tribunal in the Midlands.

“The use of religious courts to deal with personal disputes is well established, Mrs Prentice said. “Any member of a religious community has the option to use religious courts and to agree to abide by their decisions but these decisions are subject to national law and cannot be enforced through the national courts save in certain limited circumstances when the religious court acts as arbitrator within the meaning of the Arbitration Act 1996.”

“Arbitration does not apply to family law and the only decisions which can be enforced are those relating to civil disputes.”

Even in civil disputes, Sharia cannot be chosen as the governing law of a contract. A passage in the new Islamic finance section of the Lexis Nexis Encyclopaedia of Banking Law says that English law does not recognise Sharia as a system of law capable of governing the relationship between parties to a contract. This is because Sharia is not regarded as a system of national law.

The Arbitration Act allows disputes to be solved by reference to Sharia because section 46 of the Act requires tribunals to decide disputes with reference either to the national law chosen by the parties or “other considerations as agreed between them”.

But the Encyclopaedia adds a word of warning. “It may still be preferable for any specific Sharia principles to be directly incorporated into the contract” because of “the divergence of opinion among Sharia scholars on a number of key issues”.

Why, then, is there such concern about Islamic law in Britain, even among senior Conservative politicians? It is because Sharia is seen as incompatible with English law and British values. However cynical some people may feel about the modern equality “industry”, they cannot stomach a system that appears to treat women as second-class citizens. They fear that Sharia may spread into areas of personal status and even crime, that it might somehow supplant the common law in parts of the country with large Muslim populations.

These fears need to be addressed — not by the Justice Minister in a written answer, but by the Justice Secretary in a major speech.

As it happens, Jack Straw was speaking about Muslims this weekend. He issued a statement for the Global Peace and Unity Event, which brings together Muslims and non-Muslims with the aim of promoting peace and understanding.

Praising British Muslims for the “visible, tangible difference” they made to “all walks of life in this country”, Mr Straw said there were “still those whose aim is to undermine this society we have worked so hard to create, whether they are the BNP and the far right or violent extremists professing to act in the name of Islam”.

Both used the same tactic of division, he said, and both could be defeated through unity.

But it was a pity the Justice Secretary did not tackle what many non-Muslims fear, however irrationally — the divisiveness of a separate system of law operating within Britain today. Source:


Women rights activists back Muslim leaders

26th October, 2008  

By Anthony Bugembe and Francis Emorut

WOMEN rights activists have pledged to support Muslim leaders to ensure that the rights of Muslim women are not violated.

The activists, led by the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), met the leaders of the Khadi Courts on Wednesday to discuss women’s rights in the administration of the Muslim Personal Law.

After the rejection of the Domestic Relations Bill in 2005 by the Muslim community, the Uganda Law Reform Commission issued two Bills; one for the Muslims and the other for non-Muslims.

Under the Bill for Muslims, Khadi Courts are established to deal with marriage, divorce, guardianship and inheritance of property.

“Our intention is not to confront the Muslims or to change the Sharia law. We are here to find ways of working together to address the issue of women exploitation and domestic violence. We want to ensure that the women fully understand their rights,” said Allen Assiimwe, FIDA’s chairperson.

Sheikh Muhammad Ali Waiswa, an administrator at the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, said: “The Muslim community had displeasure with some sections of the original Bill which were not in conformity with Islamic beliefs.

A committee of 26 members was established to come up with Muslim-friendly legislation.

We have submitted our third draft to the Uganda Law Reform Commission.”



From drab to decadent: the evolution of Islamic TV

By Ismail Elmokadem

October 26, 2008

CAIRO: Less than a decade ago, the term “Islamic Television” was not yet used in the Middle East. State-run channels featured early morning segments of bearded men reciting the Quran. And on Fridays they aired extended sermons from local mosques. But these sombre, lacklustre broadcasts only attracted the most die-hard devotees and had little social impact.

Today Islamic television is a multi-million dollar industry with a smorgasbord of different channels that boast high production values and sleek fast-paced direction. Many are only designed to provide entertainment while others are devoted exclusively to political provocation.

In 1998 Saudi Arabia’s ART launched the region’s first Islamic satellite channel Iqraa. Their flagship program was “Talk from the Heart” hosted by now renowned Islamic televangelist Amr Khaled.

The show’s guests included actresses and reformed drug users who openly discussed their path from debauchery to enlightenment. Khaled encouraged uninhibited displays of emotion and more often than not the program ended with someone in tears.

“Talk from the Heart’s” earnest format instantly struck a cord with millions of ordinary Muslims and revolutionized Islamic television forever. It also revealed a feverish need for informal shows that spoke to Muslims about their everyday problems.

Amr Khaled became an overnight sensation, creating a cult following of millions of fans around the world. His show also paved the way for an entirely new kind of Islamic celebrity, enjoying the same mania and glamour associated with movie stars and pop singers.

Quick to seize the opportunity, television producers soon launched new Islamic channels such as Al Resalah and Al Nas that in turn produced their own stars. Today an Arab viewer is spoilt for choice with preachers that suit every pallet: from the ultra-conservative to the liberal English speaker.

The selection is also no longer limited to men. Women such as Abla Al Kahlawy, Heba Kotb, and Souad Saleh all host highly successful programs. Saleh’s weekly show called “Women’s Fatwas” on the Egyptian satellite channel sees women asking for guidance about their personal life.

“We have dedicated callers from Europe, the US and Canada who call time and time again. The secret of this show’s success is that it reaches out to Muslim women on an intimate personal level,” the program’s director Nahed Salah El Din told Daily News Egypt.

Egypt has launched a bigger variety of Islamic programming than any other country. But none of these openly represent political Islam or attempt to impose an explicit word view.

It’s a different story for Lebanon’s Al Manar, however, that began broadcasting their satellite channel in 2000.

Funded by Lebanese Shia party Hezbollah, Al Manar set a unique precedent with its unabashedly partisan approach and bombastic style. The channel often uses women wearing the niqab as broadcasters and features propaganda music videos that regularly attack America and Israel.

In recent years the US has described Al Manar as a terrorist organization on par with Hamas and Al-Qaeda. But the channel remains as defiant as ever continuing to produce programs that some believe encourage suicide bombings and acts of terrorism.

And while Al Manar seems hell-bent on increasing animosity between the West and the Muslim world, other Islamic channels are trying to do exactly the opposite. In the UK the Islam Channel has dedicated itself to building bridges with the West, as well as providing English-speaking Muslims with their own voice.

“We wanted to counteract growing hatred against Muslims after 9/11 and the London bombings. We knew we had to do something,” Arsan Ali, program director at Islam Channel in London, told Daily News Egypt.

Seen all over world the Islam Channel has achieved unprecedented success, attracting millions of loyal viewers. Its itinerary includes everything from specialized talk shows to children’s programs.

But it is their new game show “Faith Off” that has generated media frenzy in recent months.

“Faith Off” is the world’s first ever inter-faith game show, where Sheikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Muslims are made to compete against each other.

Contestants are tested on their knowledge of other religions. The inevitable errors made by these contestants provide ample comedic material but also reflect greater misunderstandings amongst different communities.

Ali explains his channel’s motivation for creating the show. “We wanted to launch a program that put people of different faiths face to face. Ultimately the idea is that it forces individuals to look past religious differences to see how similar we all are.”

The show has proven to be a big hit and the Islam Channel has now launched a new program entitled “Modern Mosque” that scouts the UK for the ‘best mosque’ in the country.

“The idea is to look throughout England for the ideal mosque that caters to the local community and includes the best facilities. After the July bombings here in the UK mosques were presented in the media as centres of violence. We hope to show a different side to these places.”

Whether it’s about sheer entertainment, building bridges with the West, or even anti-American propaganda, Islamic TV is having a worldwide impact. Over the last decade Islamic television has transformed itself from its austere beginnings to a flexible medium that can be adapted to fit a variety of TV genres.



Nation of Islam activists decry Texas dragging death


The Associated Press

October 25, 2008; 9:09 PM

PARIS, Texas -- Members of the Nation of Islam, the New Black Panthers and the NAACP on Saturday promised protests to bring more attention to the killing of an east Texas man whose death recalls, for some, a notorious decade-old hate crime.

Speaker after speaker at a memorial service said they disagreed with the district attorney's stance that Brandon McClelland's death was not racially motivated.

"If this is not a hate crime, then there is no such thing as a hate crime," said Krystal Muhammad of the New Black Panthers. "Even though our brother was viciously slain, we will not let him die in vain."

Two white men, accused of running McClelland down and dragging his body about 70 feet beneath their pickup, remain jailed on murder charges. They face up to life in prison if convicted.

Authorities have cast doubt on theories that the attack was a hate crime but said they will take another look when autopsy results become available this week. A determination of racial bias in a crime can increase penalties, but not for the murder charges these defendants face.

Still, a finding of racial bias in McClelland's killing could make a powerful statement. And Deric Muhammad of the Nation of Islam called McClelland's death an "exact copycat" of the 1998 James Byrd case.

Byrd, a black man in Jasper, about 200 miles south of Paris, was chained by the ankles to the back of a pickup by three white supremacists and dragged for three miles. Two of the killers are on death row; the third is serving a life sentence.

McClelland died after going with two white friends on a late-night beer run across the state line to Oklahoma. On the way back, authorities said, McClelland argued with the two suspects _ Shannon Keith Finley and Charles Ryan Crostley, both 27. He left the pickup to walk home.

Authorities said that the men then ran him over and that his body was dragged beneath the truck. His body was discovered Sept. 16. McClelland's mother said fragments of her son's skull could still be found three days later.

Crostley and Finley are jailed on charges of murder and evidence-tampering. Finley's attorney did not immediately respond to a voice mail message Saturday, and a call to a listing for Crostley's attorney was not answered.

Unlike the Byrd case, there is no evidence that McClelland was tied or chained to the truck. Officials also point out that McClelland was friends with the two murder suspects.

In an odd twist, McClelland served jail time after pleading guilty to perjury for providing a false alibi for Finley in the latter's murder trial in 2004. Finley eventually pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

"What this case shows is that if a white person wants to lynch a black man, all they have to do is befriend him first," Deric Muhammad said.

Officials said they have uncovered no evidence that Finley, who served time for manslaughter, had joined a white supremacist gang while in prison.

"There is nothing about that in his prison records, and there are no tattoos on his body" that would indicate Finley had joined such a gang, said Allan Hubbard, a spokesman for the Lamar County and District Attorney's office.

Finley does have a tattoo of a Paris-area gang that includes blacks and whites, Hubbard said.

"There is nothing racially motivated in the state's eyes about this murder," Hubbard said.

The differences between the Byrd and McClelland cases were dismissed at the memorial service, which also served as a meeting to organize future protests. Speakers chanted "No justice, no peace," "Power to the people" and "Never again," and condemned Paris as a racist town.

"The time has come for a black man's life to be equal to a white man's life," said Anthony Bond, founder of the Irving chapter of the NAACP. "Whatever happens in Paris affects every other person in America."

The service later moved to a two-lane road lined by farms, where McClelland's torn body was found. Family members and activists from across the state placed flowers and wreaths at a spot alongside the road where white spray paint indicated where authorities had located body parts.

Bobby McCleary spoke movingly of his dead son, who called him "Pops."

"A couple of times, I've found myself calling him just to see what he is doing," he said. "I just want to hear 'Pops' one more time from my son."

©2008 The Associated Press. Source:


Hamas and Islamic Jihad Still Feuding

26 Oct 2008

By Kifah Zaboun

Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat- It is no secret that the line adopted by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Palestinian territories contradicts that of the Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip. Their disagreement dates back to the time when they were first established in the late 1980s and has clearly manifested itself in the Palestinian street, institutions, universities, associations, and prisons. By simply raising a political or religious discussion among the members of both movements, one can realize that they disagree over everything.

A well-informed Palestinian source have asserted to Asharq Al-Awsat that "the dispute between Hamas and Islamic Jihad reached its peak when Hamas tried to take over mosques belonging to the Islamic Jihad in Gaza and tighten the noose on its leader in Damascus and prevent them from establishing any relations with other states in the region."

According to the source which spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, "Hamas seeks to benefit solely from Sunni and Shiite support. In order to achieve this goal, Hamas has made great efforts to convince Sunni states that Islamic Jihad members are adopting Shiite Islam."

"Hamas has also made an effort to convince Iran, which is a Shiite state, that it has power over the land and Islamic Jihad as well." The source added.

The Palestinian source noted that "the dispute between Hamas and the Islamic Jihad is old." and that "it started years ago as a result of Hamas accusing Islamic Jihad members of adopting Shiism and spreading it in Palestine to the advantage of Iran. There was questioning in this regard at the highest echelon of the Islamic Jihad."

The source made clear that such accusations against the Islamic Jihad have declined recently as a result of Hamas embracing Iran, adding that, "today, Hamas has fallen into the arms of Iran, which is providing it with more support than it is providing for the Islamic Jihad. This is despite the fact that the Islamic Jihad's relationship with Iran is older and was stronger than Iran's [current] relationship with Hamas. Consequently, the tune that the Islamic Jihad is Shiite is being played less often."

the source also revealed that, "up until recently, Hamas had claimed in front of Sheikh Yusuf al- Qaradawi that Islamic Jihad members were converting to Shiism. On one occasion, they deliberately published a photo of Ramadan Shalah, an Islamic Jihad official, visiting Khomeini's grave. This caused tension in the relationship between Shalah and Khalid Mishal, head of Hamas's Political Bureau."

"What seems strange is that at that time, Hamas elements were visiting Iran in secret. Also, soon after, Mishal visited and recited Surat [chapter of the Koran] Al-Fatihah at Khomeini's grave." The source added.

Despite Hamas's confirmation that it has a well-established relationship with Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian source emphasized that, "Hamas is upset because it considers that the Islamic Jihad movement is outbidding it through the line it is pursuing, manifest in its continued resistance and its refusal to participate in the legislative election or to join a Palestinian Government."

However, official sources from the Islamic Jihad told Asharq Al-Awsat that, "We adopt a fixed position on everything, but Hamas's position is changing. In 1996 they said that it was illicit to participate in the elections, and then they nominated themselves. (Deposed Prime Minister) Ismail Haniyeh ran for the legislative election the first time an election was held. Hamas said that he was a dissenter. Haniyeh formed a new party then withdrew from the elections. They are erratic."

The Islamic Jihad sources went on to say, "as a result, people trust the Islamic Jihad more, thus causing problems with Hamas. In Gaza, mosques are divided. Everyone knows that this mosque belongs to Hamas and that mosque belongs to the Islamic Jihad." In the West Bank, the situation is similar to that in Gaza. Islamic factions, in particular, are competing to control mosques, which are transformed into bases for party propaganda. Islamic Jihad is complaining that Hamas is working toward imposing its control even on the West Bank.

The sources pointed out that "In Al-Shuja'iyah, they [Hamas elements] raided Islamic Jihad mosques and dismissed imams and muezzins belonging to Islamic Jihad and replaced them by Hamas-affiliated imams. However, the high-level of tension that such actions created forced Hams to return control over these mosques to Islamic Jihad after direct intervention by Fatah leaders."

The source continued that, "In the past, disputes affected everyone. However, recently, they were limited to the supporters of both factions as a result of them mixing together. Nevertheless, disputes have once again worsened on the level of high commands. The [controversial] issue that has been raised recently involves the failure to invite Islamic Jihad Secretary General Shalah and movement leader Anwar Abu-Taha to attend the sixth annual conference on Jerusalem in Qatar, which was organized by the Al-Quds International Institution."

The Al-Quds International Institution, which is based in Beirut, said that "Shalah and Abu-Taha are founding members." Despite the institution's denial that it overlooked their invitation, the Islamic Jihad sources said that "Shalah and Abu-Taha were not invited because Hamas cancelled out their names and replaced them with the names of Hamas leaders." adding that, "No Islamic Jihad leaders attended the conference, at a time when everyone, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP], was present there. The goal is clear. It is manifest in distancing the Islamic Jihad from Sunni states like Qatar, thus becoming the only party to receive Qatari support."

The sources affirmed that "the conference has ruptured relations between Shalah and Mishal." But that disputes were heading towards a resolution.



Accused men sought violent jihad: court

October 27, 2008

Six alleged Sydney jihadists obtained, or sought to acquire, a stockpile of chemical weapons capable of causing "substantial damage and loss of life", potential jurors have been told.

Counsel for the prosecution Richard Maidment SC said they were driven to wage violent jihad against the Australian public by fervent Islamic beliefs in martyrdom.

Mr Maidment on Monday addressed the first 220 potential jurors at the trial of Bradley Umar Sariff Baladjam, 31, Khaled Cheikho, 35, Moustafa Cheikho, 31, Mohamed Ali Elomar, 43, Abdul Rakib Hasan, 39, and 24-year-old Mohammed Omar Jamal.

The six have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to commit acts in preparation for a terrorist act, and are standing trial in the NSW Supreme Court.

Offering a "thumbnail sketch" of his case, Mr Maidment said the accused were among a group of at least nine western and south-western Sydney men allegedly planning one or more terror-related acts.

Literature, images and video were found in their possession which advocated the activities of "notorious persons such as Osama bin Laden" and the pursuit of martyrdom through jihad.

"Each of these men were apparently strong adherents to the Islamic faith and were each motivated by a particular religious, political or ideological causes, that being the pursuit of violent jihad," Mr Maidment said.

"In essence that meant that the accused were motivated to carry out violent activities against members of the Australian community as a whole, in pursuit of their ideals."

Mr Maidment said the men obtained large quantities of firearms and ammunition between July 2004 and November 2005, as well as significant amounts of chemicals such as acetone and hydrogen peroxide.

They also had detailed written instructions on how to manufacture explosives "capable of causing substantial damage and loss of life", he said.

Justice Anthony Whealy emphasised the men's presumption of innocence and said the jury should not draw any bias, adverse or otherwise, from their Islamic beliefs.

"It is important to repeat and stress that those who wish to serve on the jury should offer themselves for service only if they are able to bring an unbiased approach to persons of the Muslim faith.

"Similarly, if you are of the Muslim faith and harbour resentment to non-Muslims, you should not offer yourself for service."

Justice Whealy advised anyone who felt uncomfortable about viewing "disturbing images" of dead and badly injured persons, including children, should ask to be excused.

Anyone who felt they would not be able to keep confidential and national security matters a secret should also ask for exemption, he said.

Justice Whealy said the trial was expected to run for up to a year, with up to 700 witnesses, with brief breaks over Christmas and Easter.

Five thousand potential jurors have been summonsed, and the selection process is expected to take the rest of the week.

The final 15 will be selected on Friday from a short-list of 300 by a process of ballot.

Up to four challenges will then be allowed from each of the 24 barristers briefed in the case, which includes a QC and five senior counsels.

It is the first Supreme Court trial to be held at the new Sydney West Trial Courts complex at Parramatta.

Both Justice Whealy and Mr Maidment addressed the jury assembly room via video link from the courtroom, two floors above.

The two-week crown opening is expected to begin next Wednesday, November 5.

© 2008 AAP Source:


Demographic implosion in Muslim societies


Just as the world at large is experiencing an unprecedented collapse of demography, the UN Population Division reports a sharp decline of fertility rates (number of births per woman) in Muslim and Arab countries, excluding Afghanistan and Yemen.

The myth of "doubling population every 20 years" has been shattered against the cliffs of demography. The director-general of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura, stated, during a UNESCO conference on "Population: From Explosion to Implosion," that "there is an abrupt slowdown in the rate of growth... also in many countries where women have only limited access to education and employment... There is not the slightest reason to assume that the decline in fertility will miraculously stop just at replacement level (2.1 births per woman)... Before 2000, the young always outnumbered their elders; for some years now it has been the other way around."

THE collapse of fertility rates in Muslim countries is a derivative of modernization and Westernization, rapid urbanization and internal security concerns by dictators fearing the consequences of the widening gap between population growth and economic growth. As a result, the UN Population Division has reduced its 2050 population projections by 25 percent, from 12 billion to 9 billion, possibly shrinking to 7.4 billion.

For instance, the fertility rate in Iran - the flagship of radical Islam - has declined from nine births per woman, 30 years ago, to 1.8 births in 2007. The Muslim religious establishment has also played a key role in decreasing fertility rates in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, from eight and seven births per woman 30 years ago, to less than four and less than 2.5 respectively in 2007.

Jordan, which is demographically close to Judea and Samaria, and Syria have demonstrated a diminished fertility rate: from eight, 30 years ago, to less than 3.5 in 2007. A substantial dive of fertility rates in Muslim countries - trending toward two births per woman - is documented by the Population Resource Center in Washington, DC.

Demographic precedents suggest only a very slight probability of resurrecting high fertility rates following a sustained period of significant reduction.

THE Bennett Zimmerman-led American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG) has documented a similar demographic trend among the Arab population of Judea and Samaria (currently four births per woman, and trending downward).

The decline in fertility and population growth rates has resulted from escalating emigration (which has characterized the region since 1950), accelerated urbanization (70% rural in 1967 and 60% urban in 2008), the expansion of education infrastructure, especially among women, the entrenchment of career mentality; the increase of median-marriage-age, an all-time high divorce rate, the contraction of teenage pregnancy and the UNRWA/PA-led family planning campaign.

The sharp lowering of fertility rate among "Green Line" (pre-1967 Israel) Arabs, from nine births per woman in 1969 to 3.5 in 2007, has been the outcome of their successful integration into Israel's education, employment, commerce, health, banking, cultural, political and sports infrastructures. The annual number of Arab births stabilized at approximately 39,000 between 1995-2007. The Arab fertility rate converges swiftly toward the Jewish fertility rate (2.8 births per woman).

ON the other hand, Israel's Jewish demography has been non-normative as far as the impact of education and income levels on the level of fertility rates is concerned. The annual number of Jewish births (including among those immigrants from the former USSR who have yet to be recognized as Jews by the rabbinate) rose by 40% between 1995-2007.

The number of Jewish births has increased from 69% of total births in 1995 to 74% in 2006 and 75% in 2007. The secular sector - and particularly the immigrants from the former Soviet Union - has been by and large responsible for such an impressive rise. The Jewish demographic tailwind is bolstered by the (highly under-utilized) potential of immigration - which has increased due to the global economic collapse - from the former USSR, the US, West Europe, Latin America, South Africa, etc.

Recent demographic trends bode well for the solid, long-term Jewish majority of 67% within the "Green Line" and in Judea and Samaria, compared with a 33% and 8% Jewish minority in 1947 and 1900 respectively between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.

Israel's policy-makers and public opinion-molders should base their assessments on thoroughly-documented demographic optimism and not on baseless demographic fatalism, in order to avoid erroneous assumptions, which yield erroneous and self-destructive policy decisions.

A version of this article first appeared in Source:


Islamic leader walks the peace walk across Canada

Katherine Dedyna

October 26, 2008

An Islamic leader who mortgaged his house to walk across Canada in the cause of non-violence is striding toward Victoria after six months on the road.

"We should be in Victoria on [Monday] and we are looking forward to people of all faiths, all Canadians, to come and join us during our walk," said Imam Syed Soharwardy. He remains passionate about his Multi faith Walk against Violence, but in a cellphone interview at the 5,945-kilometre mark near Kelowna, admitted he was glad it's nearly over.

Since Soharwardy, the founder of Muslims against Terrorism, began walking April 20 in Halifax, he has encountered everything from a large bear to tornado territory, suffered severe heat stroke and lost nearly 10 kilograms.

The closing ceremony -- a multi faith gathering -- is slated for 3 p.m. at the B.C. legislature and all are welcome.

"It seemed fitting that at the end of the multi faith march, the (Victoria) Multi faith Society should be there to greet him," said chair Karima Ramji, although the groups are not related. Also on hand will be the Raging Grannies, classical accordionist David Bryan Person of Cobble Hill and singer Kathryn Whitney.

"Even to drive, that's a long way, let alone walk -- so obviously he's someone who's really very committed to raising public awareness and that's a good thing," said Sheila Flood, a member of the Saanich Baha'i community.

Soharwardy said the "high point" has been meeting Canadians who unburdened themselves about how violence has affected their lives and encouraged him to keep going.

The walk is about changing people's opinions about violence, he said. "We have to stand up and say, no this is not acceptable.

"This walk is not about one faith or one group of people; this is a walk of all Canadians and people of all faiths coming together and saying that violence has no place in any religion, including Islam, of course."

The constant feedback elates him, such as "amazing scene" at a construction site where about 30 workers stopped work and came over to talk, shake hands and accept souvenir shirts.

It's all "very motivating" to keep up the 32 kilometres he covers a day -- down from 40 plus on the Prairies.

"People are honking and waving -- this morning there were three people who joined us for shorter distances," said the 53-year-old information technology consultant from Calgary. Outside Enderby, a young fellow asked, "Is your walk against child abuse, too? And I said, 'Yes, absolutely -- all forms of abuse and violence.' And he started crying."

Occasionally, people have run out of their houses to hand him cheques for $100. One was a low-income, elderly woman in the Maritimes who told him he had to keep the cheque for a month until she had money in the bank.

He has seen changes of heart both by victims of violence who have committed to stand up to abuse and by others determined to stop using violence to resolve problems -- but he also urges people to seek help from counsellors.

Soharwardy's walk had its roots in a meeting of an inter-faith group two years ago, where participants voiced dismay about rising violence. He suggested a walk emulating Terry Fox to get in touch with ordinary people about the dangers of violence. Unable to find a sponsor, he mortgaged his house and took a leave of absence from work.

There were times he wasn't sure he would make it. One June day, when it was pushing 40 degrees in Toronto, he suffered heat stroke, requiring paramedics' assistance. Sick for a week, he thought God wanted him to stop. But his wife wanted him to go on, and after a few days of rest, he was back on track.

Stopping at the Terry Fox memorial for a multifaith gathering near Thunder Bay was one of the most poignant times on the trip. Even a self-identified pagan joined the circle to share how inspirational Fox was.

Near Ignace, Ont., a huge black bear appeared between him and the recreational vehicle -- "we were scared to death" -- but it soon ambled out of sight.

Rev. Mac Elrod, a retired Unitarian minister, is "thrilled" that Soharwardy's walk is terminating in Victoria, underscoring that faiths in general and Islam in particular are opposed to violence and "to the use of religion as an excuse for violence."

Baha'i Flood thinks the image of Islam has been "dragged in the dirt," in recent years. "It seems unfair because the majority of Muslims are peace-loving and from our study of their holy writings, it's clear that violence is not supported." © Times Colonist (Victoria) 2008. Source: