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Islamic World News ( 23 Dec 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Anti-Christmas’ Fatwa Troubles Egyptians

Un-merry Christmas for Iraqis faced with insurgent attacks, Shiite Muslim period of mourning

Western Values Considered Perversion in Asian States

Pranab set for Ahmadiyya meet

Police: Suicide bomber kills 5, wounds 14 in northwest Peshawar

Bombs Kill 13 in Iraq Ahead of Shiite Holiday

 ‘Iranian forces clash with Montazeri supporters’

‘Osama’s kin living in Iran’

Iran's President Ahmadinejad mocks Obama

Al-Qaeda threat used once again to justify war

Afghanistan MP gunned down by police

Mosque defends Saudi invitations

CAIR asks Obama to address rising anti-Islam hate

Sanaa, Yemen: Muslim Linked To Accused Shooter Believed Dead

What lies ahead after the WAR ON TERROR?

'Osama almost got Clinton in Manila'

'Arrest ex-China prez over Falun Gong crimes'

Now, West Bengal to set up English-medium madrasas

Brown not to testify in Iraq war probe before polls

Turkey and the Kurds: Hopes blown away

Resolving Kashmir issue key to stability in South Asia: Mullen

Army on standby during Muharram in NWFP

Militants destroy girls school in Khyber

Sharif’s own property worth billions in London

Haqqani dispels holding up US officials’ visas

Manipur Muslim separatist leader arrested in Guwahati

Indian media groups express solidarity with Pakistani counterparts

‘Major political drama’ unfolding in Pakistan, says Holbrooke

US admits dilemma over sending troops to Pak to crush Taliban

Pak court rejects asylum petition for 5 American Muslims

Peshawar bazaars to remain shut in Muharram

Pak economy is in right direction despite political unrest: IMF

KARACHI: Hearing of Rs25.36m bank fraud case adjourned

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL of this Page: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/anti-christmas’-fatwa-troubles-egyptians/d/2273

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Anti-Christmas’ Fatwa Troubles Egyptians

By Rachelle Kliger

December 24, 2009

Muslims told to refrain from buying Christmas gifts by high-profile cleric.

Islamic ruling forbidding Muslims to participate in Christmas celebrations or mark the holiday is troubling Egypt’s Christians.

The call, which is being described as a fatwa, or Islamic decree, came from Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi, an influential firebrand cleric criticized in the West for his controversial rulings.

“Egypt has over the last two decades been infiltrated by Wahhabism,” Magdi Khalil, executive editor of Watani International and the Middle East Freedom Forum told The Media Line. “This culture and atmosphere is new in Egypt.”

The Egyptian-born Al-Qaradawi denounced the purchasing and selling of Christmas gifts, including Santa Claus dolls, Christmas trees and turkeys for Christmas dinner as “Christian and Western.”

Sales of Christmas gifts in Egypt have gone down by nearly a third this year because of the edict, according to one news report.

Christians contacted by The Media Line said they were unaware the fatwa had affected the celebrations or the Christmas revenues, but did express concern over the wider ramifications the fatwa may have on Christian minorities in Egypt and elsewhere.

In a Friday sermon, Al-Qaradawi criticized public celebrations of Christmas in Qatar and elsewhere in the Muslim world, claiming they undermined Islamic identity.

“Such appearances are prohibited by Islam,” he said. “Muslims participating in them are ignorant of Islamic teachings in this regard.”

George Ishaq, an Egyptian Christian and one of the founders of the opposition Kefaya movement, rejected the cleric’s sermon.

“He’s Egyptian but he doesn’t live here and we reject what he’s saying,” he told The Media Line. “There are many people in Egypt who are very tolerant. The people are celebrating Christmas and we’re sharing the celebration. I haven’t encountered any objections to what we’re doing.”

“Al-Qaradawi is ignorant and we cannot rule against what he said but we’re against what he said, both Muslims and Christians.”

Khalil said the fatwa reflected a wider problem of persecution against Christians in Egypt.

“The [Egyptian Christians] are always under threat,” he said. “They lack religious freedom, and according to all international definitions, Christians in Egypt are under persecution and suffer from racism.”

“There are a lot more things that will affect the people than this fatwa,” Khalil said. “The state police and intelligence persecute the Christians directly and this is more dangerous than Al-Qaradawi’s fatwa.”

One of Sunni Islam's most prominent clerics, Al-Qaradawi, is head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), and a spiritual guide for many Islamist organizations, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt’s 83-million strong population has a sizeable Christian minority - mainly Copts - constituting almost a tenth of the population. They complain of consistent discrimination from the government.

Muslims do not celebrate Christmas, but shops tend to be filled with decorations and gifts for the holiday season.

http://www.themedialine.org/news/news_detail.asp?NewsID=27497

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Un-merry Christmas for Iraqis faced with insurgent attacks, Shiite Muslim period of mourning

BUSHRA JUHI, LARA JAKES

December 24, 2009

BAGHDAD (AP) — Christmas is bumping into Shiite Islam's most mournful ceremony this year, forcing Iraqi Christians to keep their celebrations under tighter wraps than usual.

Midnight Mass will again be celebrated in daylight across Baghdad, and security around churches is heavier for a community that's been threatened by sectarian violence since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. A bombing this week targeting a 1,200-year-old church in Mosul, killing two passers-by, underscored their concerns.

But this year, Christians feeling an extra need for caution are toning down the Christmas glitz, and the plastic Santas aren't selling as well as usual. At least one Catholic archbishop has discouraged Christmas decorations and public merrymaking out of respect for Ashoura, a period of Shiite mourning and self-flagellation.

"We used to put the Christmas tree with its bright lights close to the window in the entrance of our home," said Saad Matti, a 51-year-old surgeon and Basra city councilman.

"But this year, we put it away from the window as a kind of respect for the feelings of Shiite Muslims in our neighborhood because of Ashoura," he said.

Ashoura caps a 10-day period of self-flagellation and mourning for the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein, killed in 680 A.D. during a battle that sealed the split between Shiites and Sunnis.

During the 10 days, throngs of Shiite pilgrims march to the holy Iraqi city of Karbala, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad. The lunar Islamic calendar varies against the West's, and this year Ashoura happens to climax on Dec. 27.

Shiites are the majority of Iraq's 28.9 million people and now dominate the country politically, giving other sects more reason to accommodate them.

Few weddings are held during Ashoura, and any business associated with beauty — flower shops, jewelry stores, photography studios — loses money.

"No weddings, no work," Nijood Hassan, a Sunni, complained at her flower shop central Baghdad. "Why do they have to do this?"

But the compulsion to preserve an outward appearance of harmony is strong. Hassan's sister, Nadia, quickly interjected: "There is no sectarian division any more, and we have no objection whatsoever about that."

The archbishop of the southern Shiite-dominated city of Basra, Imad al-Banna, called on Christians "to respect the feelings of Muslims during Ashoura and not hold the public celebrations during Christmas. ... to hold Mass in the church only and not receive guests or show joyful appearances."

Some 1.25 million Christians, 80 percent of them Catholic, used to live in Iraq. An exodus that began after the 1991 Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein imposed more Islamic policies, intensified after 2003, when Christians became targets of sectarian violence, and some 868,000 are left.

Iraq's top Catholic prelate, Chaldean Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, said he used to hold Mass at midnight on Christmas Eve but in recent years switched the services to daylight hours, when the streets are safer. He said he was unaware of the Basra priest's Ashoura edict.

"We will do our religious rituals as usual and on its dates, and our Muslim brothers will feel happy that each one has his own dear religion," Delly told The Associated Press.

The Defense Ministry said patrols will be stepped up around churches, Christian neighborhoods and places of celebration, mostly in Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk. They didn't deter Mosul bombers from attacking the Mar Toma Church, or the Church of St. Thomas, on Wednesday with an explosive hidden in an abandoned cart a few yards away. Two Muslim passers-by were killed, police said.

Christians aren't the only imperiled worshippers. Six Shiite pilgrims preparing for Ashoura rituals and processions were killed Wednesday in three separate bombings in Baghdad, authorities said. Earlier this week, in Baqouba, two Shiites were gunned down while leaving a mosque where they had been flogging themselves for Ashoura. It was not known if they were targeted because of their beliefs.

Adnan al-Sudani, a cleric in the Shiite-dominated Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad, said Christmas generates no ill will among his followers.

"We as Shiites respect Christian occasions and share their happiness in our hearts," he said.

Shiite shop owner Ali Qassim wished more people would have themselves a very merry Christmas. His electronics shop, in the mixed Muslim-Christian neighborhood of Karrada, is packed with artificial pine trees and cherry-cheeked faces of plastic Santas, called Baba Noel in Arabic.

But few were sold.

"Nothing is in the streets. Nothing is in the shops," said Qassim, looking out on the bustling midday traffic. "In the past, fashion stores used to put up Baba Noel and a tree in front of the shop. But out of respect, many families will not celebrate because of the Ashoura and to sympathize.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation-world/sns-ap-ml-iraq-unmerry-christmas,0,4378827.story

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Western Values Considered Perversion in Asian States

December 24, 2009

A judge from the city of Lahor, Pakistan, brought down an unusual sentence against two brothers. They will have their ears and noses cut off for doing the same to their female cousin, who refused to marry one of the men.

The sentence is based on the retaliation law introduced in the country in 1979. According to the law, a perpetrator’s punishment shall be identical to the crime that he or she committed, unless a perpetrator is forgiven by victim and victim’s family.

Pakistan is not the only country that preserves medieval traditions in the court system. Thieves, for example, can be deprived of either hand or whole arm in a number of countries. Sophisticated types of death penalty can be used very often too. A perpetrator can be stoned to death or shoved over a cliff in six countries of Asia and Africa. Such brutal punishment can be applied for adultery, prostitution and sex crimes.

Criminals can be decapitated for committing grave crimes in Yemen, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. For example, six people were beheaded in 2005 in Saudi Arabia for hijacking a car.

The punishment for sex crimes can be especially severe in many Asian countries. Two homosexual men were buried alive in an Afghan town in 1998.

International human rights activists constantly accuse the Iranian government for the use of death penalty against homosexual individuals. The UN Human Rights Committee passed a resolution in 1998 urging the government of Iran to legally ban such types of punishment as mutilation and stoning.

Rajab Satarov, an expert on Iran, said in an interview with Pravda.Ru that some laws, which Iran follows, may seem too severe to residents of Europe.

“Such laws touch upon those individuals who pose a direct threat to the society and the state. They can be stoned; thieves can lose their hands. Civilized people will find this crazy. There is a good side to it too: people are terribly scared to commit crimes.

“As for the Western criticism of Iran – there is nothing surprising about it. No morality at all is considered normal in the West. This can never work in Iran – any displays of alien ideology will be suppressed in this country.

“One should not approach such measures as something barbarous. The results are obvious: the number of divorces in Iran is extremely low. I’d like to remind you that the Iranians toppled their Padishah in 1979 because he was propagating Western values in the society. The Iranians could not stand the Western perversion and attempts to replace traditional family values with commitment-free relationships.

“One should also pay attention to the fact that the West criticizes presumably Iran for the use of “medieval laws,” although the laws of Saudi Arabia are a lot more brutal in some aspects. For example, women are not allowed to work there or drive a car. There are no democratic liberties in Saudi Arabia at all – this is a country with medieval laws. In Iran, a woman can be a boss to a group of men,” the expert said.

Sergey Balmasov

Pravda.Ru

http://newsfromrussia.com/world/asia/24-12-2009/111371-values-0

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Pranab set for Ahmadiyya meet

Asit Jolly

Dec. 23 2009

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee will participate in the salaana jalsa or annual congregation of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community at its global headquarters at Qadian in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district.

Slated for December 27, the visit, the first by a senior GOI functionary in several years, is being seen as highly significant in view of recent reports of increasing persecution of Ahmadiyyas across the border in Pakistan.

Notably this year, India has issued nearly 5000 visas to adherents from Pakistan to attend the congregation.

Mr Mukherjee is expected to spend several hours in Qadian including a visit to the Jalsa and visits to sacred sites associated with the founder of the Ahmadiyya Sect. The small township of Qadian is the birthplace of the sect. More than 20,000 Ahmadiyya Muslims are slated to participate in the three-day event, which concludes on December 28th with a sermon by the present Khalifatul or spiritual head, Hadrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad which will be telecast live from his London home. Considered a renegade sect by both Shia and Sunni Muslims, the Ahmadiyyas, who advocate peaceful coexistence and have often expressed anguish against rising Islamic fundamentalism, are resident in several countries of the world.

However despite their large numbers in Pakistan, Ahmadiyyas have for long been tagged as "second class citizens" and have been subjected to continual oppression both by the government and other Islamists.

http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/news/india/pranab-set-for-ahmadiyya-meet.aspx

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Police: Suicide bomber kills 5, wounds 14 in northwest Pakistan's Peshawar city

December 24, 2009

PESHAWAR, Pakistan - A suicide bomber struck a neighbourhood full of government buildings in Pakistan's main northwest city Thursday, killing four people and underscoring that militant groups retain strength despite being under siege by the army.

The attack was the second in three days in Peshawar, and the latest in wave of violence that has killed more than 500 people in Pakistan since October. Insurgents are suspected of avenging a U.S.-supported Pakistani army offensive against the Taliban in a northwest tribal region along the Afghan border.

The attackers have struck a range of targets, from markets popular with women to security checkpoints. Thursday's blast rocked a busy sector of Peshawar where buildings housing the state-run airline, a public school and a government insurance company were located.

TV footage from the scene showed shattered glass and debris covering a wide area as security officials flooded the zone.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the region's information minister, told the ARY news channel army installations also were nearby, but he "cannot say for sure what the target was."

The bomber walked up to a checkpoint along the road and detonated his explosives when a police officer asked him to stop, city police chief Liaquat Ali told The Associated Press. He paid glowing tributes to the slain policeman, saying if he had not acted the attacker might have struck a more crowded area, killing a higher number of people.

On Tuesday, a suicide bomber set off explosives at the Peshawar Press Club, a brazen attack on the media in what has long been an unsafe environment for journalists to operate.

Peshawar has been hit at least seven other times in the onslaught that began in October. In one case, at least 112 people died when a car bomb went off in a market frequented by many women - one of the country's deadliest attacks ever.

The government condemned the bombings but vowed it will not be deterred in its battle to eliminate the Pakistani Taliban from its soil. The army offensive in South Waziristan tribal region has left hundreds of militants dead, but many are believed to have simply fled to other parts of the country's lawless tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.

Even though the Pakistani Taliban may be under siege, it is possible they are relying on other allied militant groups to help carry out the strikes across the country. Strong networks are believed to exist among the varying extremist factions in Pakistan, many of whom want to see the Pakistani state toppled because of its relations with the United States.

Pakistan recently boosted security all over the country, including Peshawar, because it is the Islamic holy month of Muharram, which is often marred by bombings and fighting between the country's Sunni Muslims and its Shiite minority, authorities said.

Muharram is especially important for Shiites, who stage processions to mourn the 7th century death of the prophet Muhammad's grandson - an event that led to the split in Islam between the Shiite and Sunni sects.

The culmination of Shiite rites is Ashura, the 9th and 10th days of Muharram, when Shiites stage processions, beating their bare backs with chains and blades, bloodying themselves in a sign of penitence over the death of Mohammed's grandson, Imam Hussein.

http://www.merrittnews.net/article/GB/20091224/CP01/312249990/-1/MERRITT01/police-

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Bombs Kill 13 in Iraq Ahead of Shiite Holiday

DECEMBER 24, 2009

BAGHDAD -- Staggered explosions apparently targeting Shiite Muslim pilgrims killed at least 13 people and injured 74 on Thursday, authorities said, raising fears of further sectarian attacks at the approach of Shiite Islam's most solemn holiday.

The deaths come three days before the climax of Ashoura. The holiday's observers have frequently been attacked in the past.

Police Maj. Muthana Khalid said a first bomb exploded around 2 p.m. Thursday in Hillah, the capital of Babil province, about 60 miles south of Baghdad. He said the second explosion came as police rushed to the scene 15 minutes later.

The bombs apparently targeted Shiite pilgrims observing Ashoura who had gathered near a bus station in downtown Hillah.

A wrecked car lay at the attack site, and a pair of blood-covered slippers could be seen near damaged storefronts.

A provincial councilman was among those killed, Maj. Khalid said. Hospital physician Dr. Mohammed al-Zurfi also confirmed the casualties.

Thousands of Shiites are expected to converge on the central city of Karbala for the Dec. 27 holiday to mourn the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein, killed in 680 A.D. during a battle that sealed the split between Shiites and Sunnis.

On Wednesday, three separate blasts targeting Shiite pilgrims in the Iraqi capital killed six people and wounded 43 others.

The Iraqi government has assigned more than 25,000 police and soldiers to protect pilgrims during the celebrations but has been unable to stop all the attacks.

The Shiite holiday was banned under former dictator Saddam Hussein. The majority of Iraqis are Shiites but Saddam's administration was primarily Sunni.

Copyright © 2009 Associated Press

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126166035399904197.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

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‘Iranian forces clash with Montazeri supporters’

Dec. 23 2009

An Iranian Opposition website said security forces clashed with supporters of the late dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri in at least two cities on Wednesday, including his birthplace.

If confirmed, the incidents signal rising tension in Iran, six months after a disputed presidential election plunged the Islamic Republic into its deepest internal crisis since it was founded three decades ago. Police chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moqadam said the pro-reform Opposition would face "fierce" confrontation if it continued its "illegal" activities, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Referring to the central city where Montazeri was born, the Jaras website said: "Sporadic clashes started from Tuesday night in Najafabad and still continued. The situation is tense in the city. People are chanting anti-government slogans." It also said many demonstrators were injured during clashes in the nearby city of Isfahan. Another reformist website, Parlemannews, said at least 50 Opposition backers, including four journalists, were arrested during the clashes in Isfahan, one of Iran’s biggest cities. Jaras said protesters who had gathered in Isfahan to commemorate Montazeri, a fierce critic of the hardline government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose disputed re-election in June plunged Iran into turmoil. "Police fired teargas to disperse people ... many people were injured ... some arrested," Jaras said.

It also said plainclothes security agents in Isfahan surrounded the house of a leading pro-reform cleric, Ayatollah Jalaleddin Taheri.

The reported incidents took place two days after huge crowds turned out in the Shia holy city of Qom for the funeral of Montazeri, when many people chanted anti-government slogans, websites reported. The website reports from Isfahan and Najafabad could not be verified independently because foreign media are banned from reporting. —Reuters

http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/news/international/%E2%80%98irani

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‘Osama’s kin living in Iran’

December 23, 2009

A son of Osama bin Laden has revealed that several missing members of Al Qaeda leader’s family are living in a secret compound in Iran.

Osama bin Laden’s closest relatives include one of his wives, six of his children and 11 of his grandchildren, who have been prevented from contacting the outside world while Iran has repeatedly denied that any of the relatives were living in the country.

Omar Ossama bin Laden, 29, Osama’s fourth-eldest son, said he had no idea that his brothers and sisters were still alive until they called him in November.

"The Iranian government did not know what to do with this large group of people that nobody else wanted, so they just kept them safe. For that we owe them much gratitude, and thank Iran from the depth of our heart," the Times quoted him, as saying. The eldest of the children, Saad, was 20 at the time, Ossman 17, Muhammad 15, Fatma 14, Hamza 12, Iman 9, and Bakr, 7. There had been speculation that Muhammad was second in command of Al Qaeda and that Saad also instigated and plotted attacks until he was killed about 18 months ago by a US drone. —ANI

http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/news/international/us-warns-iran-to-

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Iran's President Ahmadinejad mocks Obama

December 24, 2009

London: Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday mocked US President Barack Obama's "extended hand" offer made earlier this year and said his country's cooperation on its nuclear programme had been spurned.

The US president had been a disappointment to the world, Ahmadinejad said in an interview with Britain's Channel 4 News, a full transcript of which was later posted on its website.

He once again dismissed a year-end deadline on a UN-drafted fuel deal, saying it was "meaningless". The deal requires Iran to ship most of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad in exchange for fuel for a Tehran research reactor.

The United States has made it clear it intends to pursue harsher sanctions against Iran in the United Nations if Iran fails to meet the deadline.

Ahmadinejad said Iran had made the proposal, and according to the regulations the offer of fuel was unconditional.

"But they are insisting that to have conditions for giving us the fuel -- political conditions I mean -- while the exchange of fuel is a technical job. I have not yet heard anybody who has given a deadline for this because it is meaningless."

Iran says its uranium enrichment programme is solely aimed at generating electricity so it can export more gas and oil. The West believes Iran wants to make atomic bombs.

"I think it has become an old issue to talk about the nuclear programme," Ahmadinejad said.

"The story of these claim(s) of US and its allies have turned into a TV series."

He said Iran would not accept a policy of "intimidation and aggression" from the United States, and warned if the major powers did not accept the offer, Iran would produce 20 per cent grade uranium.

The president said Iran had told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about the uranium enriching facility at Qom a year before the activities started "but unfortunately they have misinterpreted our cooperation".

"When you cooperate the reactions are negative," he said. "What does that mean? Does it mean we should not cooperate at all? We are keen to have friendly relations with all. But the basis of judgment and cooperation is on a legal basis."

Ahmadinejad rejected Obama's speech in which he said "if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fists, they will find an extended hand from us".

"Which hand did he extend? His right hand or left hand?" Ahmadinejad asked.

"Who has extended his hand in practice? He extended the sanctions against us. What step has he taken?

"We are concerned about his avenues -- he has failed to meet the expectations of the people in the US and the people of the world."

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/irans-president-ahmadinejad-mocks-obama/558635/

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Al-Qaeda threat used once again to justify war

Shabana Syed

December 24, 2009

THE old cliché that the first casualty of war is truth has never been so blatantly evident as we witness the making of further wars and conflict. As 2010 heralds in with fresh hopes and expectations and sentimental songs of love and peace will be sung at end-of-year parties, our leaders have already signaled that occupation and war will be continuing in the New Year.

Ironically US President Barack Obama, fresh from accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, had already ordered 30,000 troops to be deployed to Afghanistan to basically “get Al-Qaeda’ which Obama has declared is still “holed up there and a threat to US national security.” As history has shown, the first casualty of war is not only the truth but also a free press. In more autocratic regimes blatant censorship is the rule; however the twisted phenomena practiced in the Western media is to abhor censorship but at the same time omit the truth. The main trend after 9/11 has been not to question government policies while at the same time omit the facts that do not fall in line with “our reality.”

The mainstream prominent broadcasters and newspapers today continue the same unquestioning narrative that led President Bush to start the “unending war on terror”. Many critics view the war in Iraq as a failure. Far from transporting democracy, American occupation turned the country into one big violent insurgency. Attempts were made to link the insurgents to Al-Qaeda, yet the truth could not be disguised; the insurgents were just mostly Iraqis against American occupation. In the same way that the Taleban which after 2001 was just a weak and dispersed group have turned into a strong fighting force. Many Afghanis disagree with their ideas, but joined it just to fight against occupation of their country.

Most Western journalists continue to omit the facts in their news reports and push the government line that all insurgents are linked to “Al-Qaeda”.

Full report at: http://dailymailnews.com/1209/24/Editorial_Column/DMColumn.php#1

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Afghanistan MP gunned down by police

Amir Shah | AP

December 24, 2009

KABUL: A member of the Afghan Parliament was mistakenly killed in an early morning shootout between his bodyguards and police officers, officials said Wednesday.

Mohammad Yunos Shirnagha, a lawmaker from northern Baghlan province, was killed as he returned home around 2:30 a.m.

Wednesday, said provincial police chief Gen. Kabir Andarabi.

Officers were hiding in an area near the provincial capital, Pul-e-Khumri, where they expected militants to transport a Taleban commander wounded in fighting Tuesday, local police said. That battle left four police officers and four insurgents dead, according to police.

When Shirnagha’s vehicle arrived in the area, police shouted for it to stop. When the driver did not stop, a gunfight broke out between police officers and bodyguards protecting Shirnagha, a member of Afghanistan’s upper house of Parliament. The lawmaker’s driver also was killed and one of his friends was wounded, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

President Hamid Karzai ordered the Interior Ministry to conduct an “urgent” investigation, according to a statement from Karzai’s office. The ministry has sent its chief of counterterrorism, Abdul Manan Farahi, to the area to investigate.

Karzai spent the day visiting wounded Afghan soldiers and policemen and touring an academy for new police recruits.

US Commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Afghan government officials joined Karzai at the training academy.

http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4&section=0&article=130128&d=24&m=12&y=2009&pix

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Mosque defends Saudi invitations

By Simon Rocker

December 24, 2009

Birmingham’s Green Lane Mosque has defended its invitations to two Saudi-based invitations condemned as “antisemitic and anti-sectarian” by another Muslim organisation.

British Muslims for Secular Democracy had called on the mosque to cancel scheduled appearances this weekend by Faisal al-Jassim and Abdul Aziz Al-Sadhan.

The anti-extremist think-tank had also denounced the invitations to the two preachers, publishing extracts from their sermons.

But the mosque said that it had contacted the two men to clarify their position. “Both speakers regret the way in which the Quilliam Foundation has chosen to handpick a few statements from hundreds of hours of lectures to portray them in a negative light,” Green Lane said.

It added: “Dr Al-Sadhan has also stated that he is a fierce opponent of terrorism in all its forms, irrespective of the perpetrators. As such he has made it clear that when he referred to ‘the Jews’, this reference was not to Jews in general, but to those elements that have shown hostility to Muslims and resorted to violence.”

The statement said: “Neither of the speakers condone disseminating divisive and destructive message[s], nor do they consider it permissible to break the law of the land. In light of the above, Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre is satisfied with the clarification given by the invited speakers.”

http://www.thejc.com/25348/mosque-defends-saudi-invitations

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CAIR asks Obama to address rising anti-Islam hate

24 December 2009

The Muslim civil rights organization called on President Obama to address the rising anti-Islam hate in the nation.

The Muslim civil rights organization called on President Obama to address the rising anti-Islam hate in the nation.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) asked US President Obama to address the rising trend which it terms as "alarming level of anti-Islam hate" in the country.

The Washington-based Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization sent a letter to Obama and drew attention to recent sufferings of Muslims in the states. Also, hate-filled paintings, Quran defamations, anti-Islam remarks and vandalism at mosques were cited in the letter and serious concern was expressed.

"President Obama is in the best position to address the alarming level of anti-Islam hate in our nation and to urge religious and political leaders to speak out in support of tolerance and mutual understanding," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

The Director reminded that Obama himself is targeted by anti-Islam movements even though he is Christian.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization.

http://www.worldbulletin.net/news_detail.php?id=51754

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Sanaa, Yemen:  Muslim Linked To Accused Shooter Believed Dead

By Jackie Kingston

Thursday, Dec 24, 2009

(Sanaa, Yemen) -- A radical Muslim preacher linked to accused Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Malik Hasan is believed to have been killed Thursday in an airstrike in Yemen.

A Yemeni security official said Anwar Al Awlaki is suspected to have been one of the 30 al-Qaeda militants killed in the eastern province of Shabwa.

U.S. intelligence officials claim Hasan had been in contact with Awlaki late last year.

The militants were in the middle of a meeting when the airstrikes hit the bull's eye.

http://myhighplains.com/content/fulltext/?cid=101752

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What lies ahead after the WAR ON TERROR?

Richard N Haass

24 December 2009

The United States is now too stretched economically and militarily to succeed by relying solely on its own resources

New York: The basic outlines of Barack Obama’s approach to foreign policy became clear in 2009. His administration believes that the United States should talk with other governments even if it disagrees profoundly with their character. He prefers acting with other countries to going it alone. And he has shifted the focus of US foreign policy from what countries do within their borders to how they act beyond them.

All of this differentiates Obama from his immediate predecessor, George W Bush, whose administration branded selected countries as evil and mostly refused to deal with them; often rejected cooperation with other governments, lest the US find itself constrained; and sought to transform other countries, rather than to influence their actions.

Diplomacy, of course, should not be viewed as a favour or concession that signals “softness”. Obama rightly recognizes that it is an important tool of foreign policy, to be employed when it promises results that are more favourable than the alternatives.

Obama is also correct that acting in concert with others is almost always desirable. The challenges that most define this era — nuclear proliferation, terrorism, global climate change, and pandemic disease - can be managed only collectively. Moreover, the reality is that the US is now too stretched economically and militarily to succeed by relying solely on its own resources.

Finally, Obama is right to focus more on the behaviour of countries than on their nature. It is not just that the assistance of odious governments is sometimes essential; it is also that there is nothing more difficult than remaking the internal workings of other societies.

Yet, even with these adjustments, and despite Obama’s communication skills and his personal popularity (reflected in his Nobel Peace Prize and in declining anti-Americanism around the world), 2009 was a difficult first year for his administration’s foreign policy.

To begin with, a willingness to talk to governments does not always translate into an ability to work with them. The US has shown new flexibility with Iran and North Korea, but neither has reciprocated so far. Reasonableness does not always yield results.

Similarly, countries often choose not to cooperate. China, for example, resists using its influence with North Korea, fearing that instability on the Korean peninsula could lead to large refugee flows into China or a united Korea allied with the US. China prefers an imperfect status quo to such alternatives.

For its part, Russia appears reluctant to pressure Iran to reining in its nuclear ambitions. Obama has worked hard to improve US-Russian ties: bilateral arms control is again a priority, and the president agreed to alter plans for anti-missile deployments in Poland and the Czech Republic. But Russian leaders resist tough sanctions on Iran, lest they jeopardize financial dealings there and lead to increased Iranian support for Muslim minorities inside Russia. As a result, it will be difficult in 2010 and beyond to develop an effective package of sanctions and incentives that enjoys broad international backing.

Full report at: http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Scripting/ArticleWin.asp?From=Archive&Source=Pa

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'Osama almost got Clinton in Manila'

ANI 24 December 2009

WASHINGTON: Osama Bin Laden-controlled terrorists came within minutes of assassinating former US president Bill Clinton during his 1996 Philippines visit, a new book has revealed.

Clinton was saved shortly before his car was due to drive over a bridge in Manila where a bomb had been planted. The attack came during Clinton's visit to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Manila in 1996.

He was scheduled to visit a local politician, his route taking him across a bridge in central Manila. But as his motorcade was about to set off, secret service officers received a "crackly message in one earpiece" saying intelligence agents had picked up a message suggesting an attack was imminent. The motorcade was quickly re-routed and American agents later discovered a bomb had been planted under the bridge.

The book 'In The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs Starr' by American law professor Ken Gormley, says, further investigation "revealed that it had been masterminded by a Saudi terrorist living in Afghanistan — a man named Osama bin Laden".

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Osama-almost-got-Clinton-in-Manila/articleshow/5371644.cms

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'Arrest ex-China prez over Falun Gong crimes'

REUTERS 24 December 2009

BUENOS AIRES: An Argentine judge has ordered the arrest of China's former President Jiang Zemin and another top official for "crimes against humanity" in the alleged persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

Falun Gong hailed it as a historic human rights ruling on Tuesday, although a lawyer for the group acknowledged it is largely symbolic.

Federal judge Octavio de Lamadrid on December 17 asked Interpol to issue an arrest warrant against Jiang and former security chief Luo Gan after four years of investigating charges of torture and genocide against the Falun Gong group.

The judge ordered the arrest of the two "over crimes against humanity committed in China" including genocide and torture, according to a copy of the ruling. Jiang was president from 1993 to 2003.

De Lamadrid made the ruling based on sections of Argentina's 1994 constitution that allow Argentine courts to address human rights issues in other countries. Falun Gong has pushed for such rulings without results in France, Spain and elsewhere.

Argentine president Cristina Fernandez is scheduled to travel to China in January to discuss bilateral trade and business.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/Arrest-ex-China-prez-over-Falun-Gong-crimes/articleshow/5371648.cms

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Now, West Bengal to set up English-medium madarsas

Saugar Sengupta

December 24, 2009

The West Bengal Government is in the process of clearing more than Rs 225 crore to increase the scope of English in State madarsas. According to State Minority Development Department, the effort would help passouts use English as their first language, relegating Arabic to third place. Hindi or Bengali would be treated as the second language.

According to sources, the State Government has already given approval for starting 70-odd English-medium madarsas. The existing ones would be given Rs 8-9 lakh each for renovation. Some Rs 3.5 crore (in some cases, more funds could be cleared) would be spent on building separate English-medium wings, according to officials.

Minority Development Minister Abdus Sattar said the Government was planning to introduce 300 more madarsas throughout the State in 2010. Another 250 English-medium madarsas could come up the next year, when the State goes to the crucial Assembly polls.

It is to be noted that West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had been earlier quoting from intelligence reports, the fact that a number of State madarsas were breeding grounds for anti-national elements. Now, it seems that exigencies of electoral politics have led his Government to adopt a policy of appeasement towards the State minorities.

Incidentally, fixing a job quota for minorities has failed to inspire the Chief Minister. A few days ago, he had said, "Many people suggest that reservation is the only way to minority development but I think that is not the solution. It is time equal opportunity for the economically backward sections should be considered." He added that 60 years of reservations for SC/STs had hardly produced the desired result.

"The Government has received a good feedback from the respective communities," Sattar said, adding that English-medium madarsas would not only help upgrade the standard of madarsa education but also spread modern education standards in backward regions.

These madarsas would teach history, geography, physical science, computer, mathematics and biology, apart from Islamic studies. In all cases, the medium of instruction would be English, he said.

Full report at: http://www.dailypioneer.com/224726/Now-West-Bengal-to-set-up-English-medium-madarsas.html

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Brown not to testify in Iraq war probe before polls

December 24, 2009

British leader Gordon Brown won’t testify before his country’s investigation of the Iraq war until after the next general election, the committee behind the inquiry said on Wednesday. The Iraq Inquiry, which is investigating the 2003 US-led invasion, said Brown and other senior ministers wouldn’t be quizzed until after the election in an effort to keep the proceedings clear of party politics.

“The committee believes that only after the general election can these Ministers give their evidence fully without the hearings being used as a platform for political advantage,” it said in a statement.

A general election — which is widely expected to sweep Brown’s ruling Labour Party out of office — must be held some time before the middle of 2010. Brown set up the official inquiry following the withdrawal of British forces from Iraq earlier this year.

British critics of the invasion had long demanded an investigation into whether the war, which has been extremely unpopular in Britain, was illegal. Many were disappointed when it was announced that the inquiry had no power to apportion blame or establish criminal or civil liability. The easygoing tone of questioning has also been criticised.

Its mandate is limited to offering recommendations on how to prevent a repeat of the mistakes that dogged the invasion and its bloody aftermath.

Still, it remains the most sweeping investigation of its kind by any nation involved in the war, and it is the first time that many senior officials — including British ambassadors to Washington, top foreign policy advisers, spy masters and military chiefs — have had to answer publicly for their role in the conflict.

In the first few weeks of testimony, some senior British officials have been extremely critical of the way US officials handled the situation in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Most eagerly anticipated is the testimony from Brown’s predecessor, Tony Blair, a man whose reputation was badly tarnished by his close alliance with former President George W Bush.

The inquiry said Blair would be called to testify sometime in January or early February. Also being called to answer questions around the same time are Alastair Campbell, Blair’s top spin doctor, and Blair’s Attorney-General Peter Goldsmith, whose advice on the legality of the war was deeply controversial.

Other witnesses to testify early next year include: Jack Straw and Margaret Beckett, both former British Foreign Ministers.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/224669/Brown-not-to-testify-in-Iraq-war-probe-before-polls.html

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Turkey and the Kurds: Hopes blown away

ISTANBUL

From The Economist print edition

New roadblocks spring up to obstruct peace with Turkey’s Kurds

SOON after Turgut Ozal, a former Turkish president, spoke in 1993 of an amnesty for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), 33 Turkish soldiers were killed by PKK rebels in an ambush. His hopes for lasting peace went up in smoke. There was a sense of déjà vu on December 10th when the PKK claimed responsibility for the deaths of seven soldiers in Tokat, a Turkish nationalist stronghold in the north-east. The attack came soon after bold reforms by the ruling Justice and Development (AK) party to improve the lot of the country’s 14m-odd Kurds and perhaps end the PKK’s 25-year insurgency.

Kurdish and Turkish nationalists alike promptly declared the government’s so-called Kurdish overture dead. Clashes between Turks and Kurds intensified when the constitutional court voted unanimously on December 11th to ban the biggest Kurdish party, the Democratic Society Party (DTP), on the grounds that it had become “a focal point for terrorism”. Two DTP parliamentarians, including its co-chairman Ahmet Turk, were stripped of their seats and 37 party officials were banned. Some 19 other DTP deputies said they were pulling out of parliament with the aim of regrouping under a new label.

On December 15th two Kurds died in Bulanik, in the south-east, after a shopkeeper fired on protesters. Fears of ethnic conflict are growing. Might this be part of a plot hatched by rogue members of the security forces (and the PKK) to weaken the AK government? This is being claimed as Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, ponders his next move.

Mr Erdogan’s overtures—easing restrictions on the Kurdish language, restoring Kurdish names to Kurdish villages, and reintegrating PKK fighters untainted by violence—have spooked the terrorists, who thrive on state repression. Nobody more so than Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned PKK leader, who ignited the protests in early December when he claimed he had been moved to a smaller cell. “I can hardly breathe,” he said, though it emerged that his quarters had barely shrunk. More reforms mean less support for the PKK. It seems that Mr Ocalan does not like being sidelined—and he still commands the allegiance of millions of Kurds.

Full report at: http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15127735

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Resolving Kashmir issue key to stability in South Asia: Mullen

Dec 24, 2009

Washington : Top US military commander Mike Mullen has said resolving the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan is key to stability in South Asia, where all terror groups, including al-Qaeda, Taliban, LeT and JeM, are “working much more closely together” now than a year ago.

“I actually believe that the challenges that exist tied to the border in Kashmir are key to solving that or moving forward on that are critical in terms of the overall stability of the region,” Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staff, has said.

“So there’s not one easy answer to any part of this but that is a key, and I think it’s, again, we all have responsibilities with respect to moving forward in a way that de-tensions the area, stabilises the area and doesn’t continuously give fertile ground for extremists and terrorists to continue to kill innocent people,” he told a group of Pakistani journalists during his recent visit to Islamabad.

Arguing the case for a regional strategy, Mullen said: “It’s not focused on just one country — and that there are significant issues between India and Pakistan that have existed for some time... I have said publicly before I think it’s important that these be addressed — that political leadership and international leadership, if you will, but in particular, political leadership of the two countries, step forward to address this issue,” he said.

Mullen said it was clear to him that all the terrorist organisations in the region had come together. “Whether it’s Pakistan Taliban and al-Qaeda, or al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban — they’re all working much more closely together.”

US Ambassador to Pakistan Ann Patterson also said the Obama administration was encouraging both Pakistan and India to resume composite dialogue, which was showing great success and promise until the attacks in Mumbai last year.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/resolving-kashmir-issue-key-to-stability-in-south-asia-mullen/558493/

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Army on standby during Muharram in NWFP

Thursday, 24 Dec, 2009

PESHAWAR: Army troops would be on the standby across the province to come to the assistance of police in case any untoward situation arose during Muharram, NWFP Inspector General of Police Malik Naveed Khan told reporters here on Wednesday.

According to him, foolproof security measures had been taken for Muharram, and services of the Quick Response Force, Frontier Corps and the Frontier Constabulary would also be at the government’s disposal.

He said besides aerial surveillance, participants of mourning processions would also pass through scanners and metal detectors to ensure their safety.

Another senior official of the district police said more than 3000 policemen had been deployed in Peshawar to perform duty during Muharram. Police had also been deployed at all mosques and imambargahs of the city, and on rooftops, he added.—APP

Peshawar Bureau adds: IGP Naveed has called upon religious scholars to highlight sectarian harmony and brotherhood in their sermons.

Talking to an eight-member delegation of Imamia Jirga, led by Sardar Sajjad Hussain Zahid, which called on him at the Central Police Office here on Wednesday, he said effective steps had been taken in different areas of the province for ensuring peace during Muharram.

Mr Naveed said police patrolling had been increased, adding security arrangements would be made for protection of women Majalis and for this purpose policewomen would also be deployed at necessary places.

Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-

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Militants destroy girls school in Khyber

By Ibrahim Shinwari

Thursday, 24 Dec, 2009

LANDI KOTAL, Dec 23: Militants destroyed another girls school on Tuesday night in Bara subdivision of Khyber Agency, officials said.

They said that militants overpowered the watchmen of Sheen Akhbar Kallay Government Girls Middle School in Baz Garha and then planted explosives at the boundary wall.

The explosion caused partial damage to the boundary wall of the school, they said, adding that no damage was caused to the main building. No body has so far claimed responsibility for the incident.

Militants have so far destroyed seven educational institutions, including three for girls, in Khyber tribal region during the last one and half month.

Meanwhile, security forces arrested at least five suspected militants including an important commander of Lashkar-i-Islam. They also took two vehicles into their custody in different localities of Bara on Wednesday.

Officials said that Hati Khan, the Lashkar-i-Islam commander in Akkakhel, along with his son and two nephews was arrested from Akkakhel during a search operation. Security forces took into their custody two vehicles from an auto workshop in Shalobar and arrested an auto mechanic.

Security forces also defused an improvised explosive device planted at roadside in Akkakhel.

In Jamrud, the local political administration sentenced an accused to 14 years imprisonment and Rs400,000 fine under Frontier Crimes Regulation.

The convict identified as Badar Abbass belonged to Attock district of Punjab. He was blamed for many crimes including murders, kidnapping and robberies cases.

Officials said that he was declared absconder by an Attock court in a murder of cases few years ago and he had joined a criminal gang in Jamrud tehsil of Khyber Agency since then. The accused has reportedly admitted his involvement in two high profile kidnapping cases including an auto parts dealer and an Afghan trader in recent past.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-

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Sharif’s own property worth billions in London

December 24, 2009

LAHORE: The Sharifs own property worth more than 20 million pounds (Rs 2.7 billion) in and around Central London, Daily Times has learnt. Of these, the Sharif family residence, three flats at 17 Avenfield House, 118 Park Lane alone are worth around 12 million pounds (Rs 1.6 billion).

According to documents available to Daily Times, Flagship Investments Limited, one of the companies run by the Sharif family in London, owns property worth around 10 million pounds in Central London. This does not include the value of the company’s offices. Hasan Nawaz Sharif, the son of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, is listed as the director of company on official documents.

Luxury residences: According to its website www.flagshipinvestments.co.uk, the company refurbishes and redevelops luxury residential properties in top end Central London locations. Sought after properties in Mayfair, Knightsbridge, Kensington and Bayswater are their primary focus.

The company’s address listed on the website is Stanhope House, Stanhope Place, Marble Arch – one of the city’s priciest neighbourhoods. However, according to documents seen by Daily Times, the company moved to Tower Bridge House on St Katherine’s Way in November 2007 – a much more upscale property located near the bank of the River Thames.

Properties: The company’s website lists several properties, which include Flat 8, Burwood Place – London W2, worth 700,000 pounds (Rs 96.6 million); Flat 9, Burwood Place – London W2, worth 900,000 pounds (Rs 124.2 million); 10 Duke Mansions, Duke Street, London W1, worth 1,495,000 pounds (Rs 206.31 million); Flat 12a, 118 Park Lane, Mayfair – London SW1, worth 475,000 pounds (Rs 65.55 million); Flat 2, 36 Green Street – London W1, worth 800,000 pounds (Rs 110.4 million); and, 117 Gloucester Place, London W1 (value not listed). The website also features a piece of real estate near the Buckingham Palace, which is valued at around 4,450,000 pounds. In addition, one of the properties listed on the website – 841 Neil Gwynne House, Slone Avenue – is said to be the residence of one Waqar Ahmed, listed on the documents as the Company Secretary of Flagship Investments Limited.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\12\24\story_24-12-2009_pg7_12

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Haqqani dispels holding up US officials’ visas

December 24, 2009

WASHINGTON—Pakistan is a sovereign country and follows its own procedures for issuing visas, Islamabad’s ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani said while rejecting allegations that Islamabad was deliberately holding back visas for American officials or harassing them in the country.

“The government in Pakistan wants this to be worked out in our mutual interest. That said, we have our own procedures, we are a sovereign country. We have our own bureaucratic methods and we are trying to work them to the best advantage of both our countries,” he told CNN’s Situation Room.

“The bottom line is that the government of Pakistan and even those who are critical of the United States in Pakistan do not want a breach in the relationship,” Haqqani added.

Haqqani said Pakistan and the United States are allies and partners. “The government of Pakistan is trying very hard to work together with the United States for our shared objectives. “

The envoy firmly denied any deliberate campaign to harass U.S. officials working in Pakistan.

“We have not harassed anyone. We have no intention of harassing anyone. And we have no intention of holding back visas.

“The only thing that has happened is that the number of Americans present in Pakistan has increased exponentially. So we’ re having to deal with far more visa applications than we used to in the past,” he explained to the channel.

In answer to a question about criticism of the government, the ambassador noted it is part of the democratic phase the country is passing through.

“Pakistan has returned to democracy after ten years of dictatorship and we are now seeing what can be best described as the noise of democracy, which is definitely preferable to the silence of dictatorship that we had before.

“The government of Pakistan is trying very hard to work together with the United States for our shared objectives. “The envoy firmly denied any deliberate campaign to harass U.S. officials working in Pakistan.

“President (Asif Ali) Zardari is the legitimately elected president of Pakistan and I hope that he will complete his term in accordance with the constitution.”—Agencies

 http://dailymailnews.com/1209/24/FrontPage/FrontPage14.php

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Manipur Muslim separatist leader arrested in Guwahati

December 24th, 2009

Guwahati -- A top separatist leader of Manipur was arrested by security forces in Assam’s main city of Guwahati Thursday while on a specific mission to recruit cadres to carry out operations, officials said.

A police spokesperson said the arrested rebel leader Mohammed Raihanuddin is the self-styled commander-in-chief of the outlawed People’s United Liberation Front (PULF), a Muslim-based rebel outfit active in Manipur.

“Based on specific intelligence that the PULF leader was in the city and would be visiting a certain locality to meet some people, security forces stepped up a search operation and managed to capture him unchallenged from Guwahati’s Athgaon area,” a police official said.

Police recovered two hand grenades from a bag carried by the PULF leader, besides several documents, including extortion demands.

“The PULF leader was in the city for some time with a specific mission to recruit some people in Guwahati to look after their operations, mainly to carry out extortions from people here who have business interests in Manipur,” the official said.

Two more people were also picked up along with Raihanuddin.

“We have not arrested the other two people, but are questioning them about any direct role they might have with the PULF leader,” the official said.

Police said the arrested leader belongs to PULF’s Azad faction with the outfit split into groups, although their objectives are the same - seeking to safeguard the interests of the minority Muslim community in Manipur and carving out an Islamic country in the northeast through an armed struggle in collaboration with other Islamist fundamentalist groups.

Extortion targeting the civilian population and traders in its areas of operation constitutes the major source of funding for the PULF.

http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/uncategorized/manipur-muslim-separatist-leader-arrested-in-guwahati_100294200.html

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Indian media groups express solidarity with Pakistani counterparts

December 24, 2009

NEW DELHI: Indian media groups have expressed solidarity with their Pakistani counterparts, expressing concern for their safety and lives in the wake of Tuesday’s suicide attack near the Peshawar Press Club that killed at least three people and injured more than 20. In separate statements, the Press Club of India (PCI) and the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) on Wednesday asked journalists in South Asian countries to unite and counter intimidation for the sake of freedom of press and expression. PCI President Pervez Ahmed and Secretary General Pushpendra Kulshrestha described the attack on the Peshawar Press Club as an attempt to target journalists’ confidence. “We appeal to the groups indulging in such attacks to spare journalists and allow them to work independently and fearlessly without ideological colours,” Kulshrestha said. Sympathising with the bereaved families, he asked extremist groups to fight their battle politically and not silence journalists. In a separate statement, DUJ President SK Pandey asked for a risk insurance cover for journalists operating in conflict zones or on hazardous missions. He called for unity among journalists on common issues and also welcomed the joint statement of the South Asia Media Commission (SAMC) and the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) condemning suicide attacks. The DUJ welcomed the movement by editors and journalist bodies to prevent attempts by some quarters to put ‘journalism on sale’. iftikhar gilani

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\12\24\story_24-12-2009_pg7_22

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‘Major political drama’ unfolding in Pakistan, says Holbrooke

December 24, 2009

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON: US special representative Richard Holbrooke has said that a “major political drama” is unfolding in Pakistan in the backdrop of the Supreme Court’s decision to scrap the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). “Even as we talk, there’s a major political drama unfolding in Islamabad right now,” said Holbrooke in an interview with a foreign news channel. He also said that he was not an envoy for India-Pakistan ties, but gave great importance to India in the region and constantly consulted New Delhi on the Obama administration’s Afghan-Pakistan policies. “I am not an envoy, my title isn’t special envoy ... and I’m not working on Indian-Pakistani relations,” he said. However, he said he recognised the interconnectedness between Afghanistan, Pakistan and India in the context of current regional challenges, and Washington would support improvement in Islamabad-New Delhi relations, as it would be good for South Asia. agencies

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\12\24\story_24-12-2009_pg1_5

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US admits dilemma over sending troops to Pak to crush Taliban

S Rajagopalan

December 24, 2009

US Special Representative Richard Holbrooke has given public expression to the ‘dilemma’ that the Obama administration faces in Pakistan as it cannot send troops into that country to crush the Taliban and Al Qaeda leadership holed up in sanctuaries.

“The dilemma is that the leadership of both Al Qaeda and the Taliban are in a neighbouring country (of Afghanistan) where our troops cannot fight. And therefore we have to find other means, working for the Pakistanis and other means, to deal with the groups,” Holbrooke said on PBS’s Charlie Rose Show.

In comments that appeared to contradict a Guardian report about US forces conducting raids inside Pakistan, Holbrooke said there are members of US intelligence services in Pakistan, but no troops out there.

“We have members of our intelligence services in every country in the world. I only said there are no American troops in Pakistan,” Holbrooke said when interviewer Rose put it to him: “No members of the American military or CIA are in Pakistan, is that what you’re saying?”

Holbrooke made the point that it is the Pakistanis who were “very instrumental” in creating the Taliban in the period after the US abandoned Afghanistan in 1989 in what “history will record as one of the great mistakes of American foreign policy”.

In the course of the interview, the veteran diplomat also sought to emphasise yet again that India-Pakistan relations are not within the purview of his current official mandate.

When asked what he was doing to convince Pakistanis that India is not the threat they believe it to be and that they should focus more on the Taliban, Holbrooke explained: “As President Obama said, any improvement in relations between two countries would be good for the region and we would support that. However, I am not an envoy.…. and I’m not working on Indian-Pakistani relations.”

As for his contacts with New Delhi, he commented: “I inform them what we’re doing and we get their advice. But I do not work on Islamabad-New Delhi relations. That is for the two countries to work out for themselves. But we will always support anything the two countries agree to.”

“My responsibilities extend only to Afghanistan and Pakistan, but I consult and keep the Indians informed at all times. I’ve travelled there regularly and I’m looking forward to going early next year on my next trip if I can work out the logistics,” said Holbrooke.

While dwelling on the successes of the AfPak campaign in recent times, Holbrooke said “some of the most dangerous people in the world .... are not alive today”, citing the example of men such as Baitullah Mehsud.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/224674/US-admits-dilemma-over-sending-troops-to-Pak-to-crush-Taliban.html

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Pak court rejects asylum petition for 5 American Muslims

PTI 24 December 2009

LAHORE: A Pakistani court today dismissed a petition seeking asylum in the name of 'holy war' for five American Muslim youths recently arrested in the country for allegedly planning terror attacks, saying that it was not the duty of the judiciary to define 'jihad'.

The Lahore High Court dismissed the petition filed by Khalid Khwaja, a former Inter-Services Intelligence official now associated with a rights organisation.

In his petition, Khwaja had contended that the youths came to Pakistan for 'jihad' (holy war) and since this was not a crime, their detention is illegal.

Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Mohammad Sharif, who heard the petition, observed that it was not the duty of the court to define 'jihad'. The judge did not comment further and dismissed the petition.

Khwaja also asked the court to direct authorities to grant the youths asylum in Pakistan as the US administration might "not spare them".

He claimed the accused are innocent of any wrongdoing, either through their actions or intentions.

"They are being suspected of a crime they never committed nor ever intended to commit. In such a case, the US constitution protects all its citizens of wrongful accusations and wrongful imprisonment.

We must have faith in our system of laws that they will seek out truth and deliver justice," Khwaja said in his petition.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pak-court-rejects-asylum-petition-for-5-American-Muslims-/articleshow/5374781.cms

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Peshawar bazaars to remain shut in Muharram

December 24, 2009

PESHAWAR: Peshawar traders have announced complete shutter down and closure of shops and bazaars all across provincial capital by dint of unsatisfactory law and order situation, Geo news reported Thursday.

According to sources, police have sealed all the entrances towards metropolis by placing barbed wire fences and have also stepped up security plan by increasing the number of police and rangers’ troops.

Security forces and police have jointly established check posts in Cantt area here meanwhile, vehicles have been denied entrance into city for some days, sources said.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=94350

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Pak economy is in right direction despite political unrest: IMF

December 24, 2009

NEW YORK: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Pakistan’s economy is moving in right direction despite political turmoil and deteriorating law and order situation.

In a statement at the end of board of directors meeting on Wednesday, IMF said Pakistan should adopt cautious monetary policy, which will help to reduce price hike. It said foreign exchange reserves could be increase by connecting exchange rate with demand and supply. IMF said the measures taken by present government improved the economy of the country.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=94358

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KARACHI: Hearing of Rs25.36m bank fraud case adjourned

Thursday, 24 Dec, 2009

KARACHI, Dec 23: A provincial law officer on Wednesday sought time from the Sindh High Court for examining the legal status of the Crime Investigation Department police station.

A division bench comprising Justices Mushir Alam and Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi was seized with the hearing of a petition questioning the registration of a cyber crime case by the CID.

Petitioner Naureen Zaheer submitted that her husband, Abdul Zaheer, a cash service supervisor of a bank, had been wrongfully detained since September last year by the CID on the directives of a local bank’s authorities in a case of misappropriation of Rs25.36 million.

The CID staff claimed to have seized two vehicles, two houses purchased with the misappropriated money and Rs610,000 cash from his house on Sept 9, 2008. Later, the bank employee was booked under Sections 420, 408, 471, 109, 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 36 and 37 of the ETO Cyber Crimes.

The petitioner’s counsel, Sohail Hameed, submitted that Abdul Zaheer had been serving in the bank for several years. His employers had conducted an inquiry against him last year but could not prove the allegation of misappropriation of money leveled against him.

He said the CID authorities raided the petitioner’s house on Sept 9 last year and arrested Abdul Zaheer.

According to the counsel, the petitioner’s husband had since been unlawfully detained by the CID and was being compelled to transfer his residential property in favour of his employers. Later, a cyber crime case was registered against him by the CID.

The counsel referred to a judgment of the Supreme Court, and contended that the CIA or special investigating force was not authorised to register cases for a cognizable offence. “They are only required to submit the charge-sheet before the trial court,” he maintained.

The counsel submitted that Section 156 (1) of the criminal procedure code authorised an officer in charge of the police station concerned to register cases, adding that the registration of an FIR by the CID was unlawful.

He requested the court to declare the CID act about the registration of an FIR as unlawful and quash the criminal proceedings against his client.

The bench put off the hearing to a date to be fixed by the court office.

CDGK crackdown case

Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/local/karachi-hearing-of-rs25.36m-bank-fraud-case-adjourned-429

URL of this Page: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/anti-christmas’-fatwa-troubles-egyptians/d/2273

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