New Age Islam
Wed Nov 25 2020, 05:53 AM

Islamic World News ( 12 Feb 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Anti-Semitism widespread in Muslim world

Pune blast: Chidambaram denies intelligence failure, Maharashtra ATS takes over probe

Allah row reflects Malay racial identity fear

Nationwide arrest of Islamist activists, students in Bangladesh

The Good Muslim In Eternal Return

Philippines: dialogue between Christians and Muslims despite violence

Afghanistan offensive on Taliban in Helmand

Malaysia court upholds ban on book on racial clash

Talks will focus on terror: India

Pakistan says 'free to raise any issue' during Feb 25 talks

Iraqi Shia city rocked by bombs

Five killed in US-Iraqi raid on Iranian group

Eight Iraqis arrested over Red Cap killings in 2003

Egypt: Coptic killing suspects plead not guilty

Val's Day Is Sinful And Leads To "Free Sex"

UZBEKISTAN - Baptist falsely accused of selling drugs

Indonesia lifts ban on pork imports

Marines pit ‘The Joker’ against Taliban

Twelve Yemeni soldiers, 24 rebels killed in clashes

13 die in twin Bannu suicide attacks

Iran jams VoA, BBC signals

Ebadi pleads for international help over Iran crackdown

US, Afghan forces ring Taliban bastion, seal escape routes

Afghans plead for quick, careful attack on Marjah

9/11 'mastermind' will be brought to justice: White House

Nato launches major Afghanistan offensive

Tehran protest image wins top news photo award

Hadley: “I love Azerbaijani Mugam”

Secular Coalition in Iraq Suspends Campaigning Over Candidate Bans

Seeing red as Bollywood and politics collide

Thousands flee Somalia fighting, says UN refugee agency

Hate and fear of daily living

School violence touching new highs

Taliban vow guerrilla warfare against NATO troops

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/anti-semitism-widespread-in-muslim-world/d/2458

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Anti-Semitism widespread in Muslim world

By SALIM MANSUR,

A Jan. 21 item in the Jakarta Globe from Indonesia reported a speech by Mahathir Mohamad, the former prime minister of Malaysia, at a conference in support of Al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Mahathir was quoted stating that the lack of progress by the Obama administration in ending the war in Afghanistan, or in closing the terrorist detention centre at Guantanamo, was due to the “forces in the United States which prevent the president from doing some things. One of the forces is the Jewish lobby.”

He said Jews “had always been a problem in European countries. They had to be confined to ghettos and periodically massacred. But still they remained, they thrived and they held whole governments to ransom.”

Moreover, he continued, “Even after their massacre by the Nazis of Germany, they survived to continue to be a source of even greater problems for the world.”

These despicable words are not from the tongue of any common run-of-the-mill bigot. Mahathir was the elected head of government from 1981 to 2003 of one the more economically successful Muslim-majority countries.

The former prime minister’s remarks were not some carelessly expressed random thoughts. In October 2003, Mahathir was the chairman of the Tenth Islamic Summit Conference as Malaysia hosted the more than 50-member Organization of Islamic Countries. His opening address to the assembled Muslim leaders was punctuated with bigoted references to Jews and Israel.

Mahathir said, for instance, “The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.” He received, the press reported, a standing ovation from Muslim leaders and none disowned his anti-Semitic views.

Such hate-filled public statements against Jews and Israel by Mahathir, or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, or the leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah, Taliban, al-Qaida and member states of the Arab League, are indicative of how deep-seated and widespread is anti-Semitism across the Muslim world.

Since political-religious leaders promote this bigotry, the space for any Muslim opposition — and not merely against Jews — is restricted with the threat of mob violence ever present against those who dare denounce such bigotry.

Muslim anti-Semitism represents to a large extent the “Arabization” of Islam, particularly the majority Sunni Islam, in modern times. In other words, non-Arab Muslims — they constitute four-fifths of the world’s Muslim population — willingly defer in understanding and practising their faith tradition to the cultural and political prejudices of Arabs, especially to Wahhabi sectarianism of the Saudis. Mahathir’s recent anti-Semitic remarks were made about the same time Geert Wilders was taken to court in Holland for his anti-Islamic views.

While Muslims demand Wilders be punished for anti-Muslim bigotry, their silence — especially those Muslims enjoying the benefits of freedom and democracy in the West — over Mahathir’s anti-Semitism shows how greatly responsible they are in desecrating Islam by the filth of their own bigotry.

It is quite proper to note the rise in post-Holocaust anti-Semitism is directly related to the widespread bigotry against Jews and Israel among Muslims. It is also a measure of why the Muslim world’s political culture is so terribly retarded relative to that of the non-Muslim world.

http://www.torontosun.com/comment/columnists/salim_mansur/2010/02/12/12859576.html

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Pune blast: Chidambaram denies intelligence failure, Maharashtra ATS takes over probe

14 February 2010

PUNE: Dismissing "intelligence failure" in the Pune blast, Union home minister P Chidambaram on Sunday said the terrorists have hit a "soft target" like the German Bakery which is frequented by foreigners and Indians alike.

He maintained that the "hard targets" like the Osho Ashram and the Jewish Chabad House located near the bakery had been surveyed by US Lashker-e-Taiba suspect David Headley during his visit to India and the area was "in the radar" of terrorists for some time.

"But apart from hard targets, there are soft targets... All these (the German Bakery where the blast took place yesterday and an Italian restaurant nearby) are soft targets where foreigners and Indians congregate especially during the peak hours," he told reporters here after visiting local hospitals to meet the injured in the terror attack.

The home minister said the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad has taken over the case and constituted teams to investigate the blast.

He announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the families of those killed in the attack.

Terror struck Pune on Saturday night as a powerful bomb ripped apart a popular bakery near the Chabad House, killing nine people and injuring 45 in the first major attack since 26/11 carnage.

None of the nine persons killed in the Pune blast is a foreigner, Union home secretary Gopal K Pillai said on Sunday.

"None of the bodies of the nine killed has been identified yet as that of a foreigner. Out of the nine, three bodies have been identified which are of Indians and others' identification process is still going on," he told reporters.

After the blast took place at a German Bakery in Pune last night, it was reported that one among the dead is a foreigner.

Pillai said among the injured, four are Iranians, two Sudanese, one Taiwanese, one German and two Nepalese.

The improvised explosive device, kept in a packet outside the kitchen of the German Bakery, exploded at around 7.30 pm when a waiter attempted to open it.

The Union home minister said it appears that a "person or more persons pretending as customers seem to have come to the German Bakery and one of them might have left a backpack under a table" in the bakery.

Denying any "intelligence failure" with regard to the incident, he said police had been sensitised about Osho Ashram and Chabad House which are located in the area.

"So, this area is on the radar of terrorists. There is no intelligence failure, but please remember this is not an overt attack by gunmen. This an insidious bomb that had been planted in what appears to be a backpack."

He said the Pune Police had in the past "sensitised all the establishments in the area, especially in North Main Road... that they should take measures in order to keep away or at least identify potential trouble-makers.

"In some bigger establishments some mock-drills were conducted. But it is not that they were sensitised every day. They were sensitised as this is the area which is on the radar of terrorists, being the location of Chabad House in the general neighbourhood... this area was vulnerable," he said.

Asked if anyone has been detained in this connection, he replied, "We will not give you hourly reports on detention or interrogation, that is very wrong. The police should not do that and they have been advised not to do that."

He said the media will be given information periodically whenever necessary and asked it not to "speculate".

Chidamabaram said the forensic scientists, including those from Delhi, have gathered samples and "we would shortly have a report on what kind of explosives were used.

"Let the analysis report come, then we will be able to identify what explosives were used and what trigger was used and then we can draw some conclusions."

Asked whether any particular terrorist outfit was involved, including the Indian Mujahideen, Chidambaram said "We are not ruling out anything and ruling in anything."

On links of Headley's recce and yesterday's blast, he said it will be "premature" to draw any conclusion.

"David Headley had surveyed the Chabad House, that is a fact. At the moment, it is a stand-alone fact. Whether this particular incident is related to that, it is premature to answer that. We have to wait for the investigation to find out who perhaps is behind this incident."

To a question whether the blast would affect the proposed foreign secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan, the minister said, "I have not come here to answer questions on the diplomatic or external affairs side. Those are matters we will consider in Delhi...that we will discuss when I get back to Delhi."

Asked if the state government did not take intelligence inputs seriously, he said, "No, it is not correct. The state government had taken the advice seriously and the police put in place security measures in the hard targets... what has happened is an insidious planting of the bomb."

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/Pune-blast-Chidambaram-denies-intelligence-failure-Maharashtra-ATS-takes-over-probe-/articleshow/5571797.cms

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Allah row reflects Malay racial identity fear

By Vaudine England

13 February 2010

Malay, Chinese and Indian Malaysians, thrown together by a colourful past, have often managed a mutual accommodation of each other's different faiths and cultures.

But the recent argument over the use of the word "Allah" has provoked strident - and divergent - views both within the Muslim community and outside it.

So too has the labelling of Indian and Chinese Malaysians as "pendatang", or immigrants, by a senior ruling party member, Nasir Safar.

He lost his job as adviser to the Prime Minister Najib Razak 12 hours later.

Meanwhile, the cancellation of a concert by US singer Beyonce, the arrest of young unmarried couples for "close proximity" and the caning sentence given to a mother for drinking beer have all attracted international attention.

Such rows call into question whether Malaysia is a state in which different races and faiths live in equality and comfort with each other, or whether the country is becoming more conservatively Muslim at the expense of others.

Change of direction

The results of the 2008 elections ramped up the tension.

The ruling coalition still won, but with a much reduced majority in the worst result in 50 years. Norani Othman, a professor at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS) at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, says that after independence, there was a national emphasis on consensus-building and equality.

That was adapted, after race riots in 1969, to more overtly pro-Malay policies.

As Muslim nations around the world struggled to modernise, yet not lose touch with their traditional roots, the influence of Islamist parties expanded.

In Malaysia, that pitted the ruling United National Malays Organisation (Umno) against the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) with the result that the 1980s saw a deliberate process of Islamisation.

What were once affirmative action policies geared to help Malays "catch up" with other Malaysians became policies enshrining Malay primacy or ascendancy, and being Malay meant being Muslim.

Institutions deemed to conform with Islamic principles and values were created - Islamic banks, Islamic insurance, Islamic university - there was even talk of "Islamising knowledge".

Full report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8505724.stm

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Nationwide arrest of Islamist activists, students in Bangladesh

13 February 2010

DHAKA: Authorities in Bangladesh have arrested over 200 activists of the Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamist party and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir, following Monday's campus violence in Rajshahi University in which a student was killed.

In Monday's violence, over 100 students were injured in pitched battles between Shibir activists and those of the Bangladesh Chhatra League, student wing of the ruling Awami League, at Rajshahi University in western Bangladesh.

One Chhatra League leader was killed in Dhaka on Friday.

The Awami League lawmakers have demanded a ban on the Chhatra Shibir.

Campus violence has been severe and intermittent over the last year since the change of government and the political dispensation, which has triggered a turf war.

Chhatra League students are trying to recapture the control of campuses from the Chhatra Shibir, who have dominated since 2001.

The Jamaat that returned to parliament after a 10-month boycott this week has demanded a judicial inquiry.

In Friday's raids, the police arrested 195 leaders and activists of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and its associate body of students Islami Chhatra Shibir across the country.

The arrests were made within 24 hours of the home ministry's order for a combing operation against Shibir activists.

The police raided messes at Shahbagh and Uttara in Dhaka, hostels of Carmichael College in Rangpur, some messes in Bogra town and a college in Brahmanbaria.

Jamaat and Shibir activists clashed with the police around the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque in Dhaka, at Jamal Khan in Chittagong, and at Court Point in Sylhet, New Age newspaper reported on Saturday.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Nationwide-arrest-of-Islamist-activists-students-in-Bangladesh/articleshow/5568524.cms

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The Good Muslim In Eternal Return

NAMRATA JOSHI

A film to bring that classic cliche—real versus reel—to boil

Bal Thackeray’s clampdown on My Name is Khan could prove to be a most erroneous political move. It might have forced sections of the audience to stay away but has only added to the significance of the film, a magnum opus on love, tolerance and acceptance. It has also blended reel and real roles for Shahrukh Khan in a manner that no scriptwriter could have ever been able to put on paper. It is not an exaggeration to say that this is SRK’s Mother India. Rizwan Khan, afflicted with Asperger Syndrome, pays a heavy personal price for his surname and hits the road to explain to the American president that his name is Khan and he is not a terrorist. Through this larger-than-life character, SRK stands up for the Muslims of the world and for Islam, a religion under fire post 9/11.

In recent times, one has seen a clutch of Bollywood films dealing with rising Islamophobia—the slick thriller New York, and the tortuous and convoluted Kurbaan. Karan Johar’s film keeps it straight and simple and wears its good heart on its sleeve. To go looking for a refined cinematic rendition of racial politics like Crash would be imprudent. What you have is a gentle, affecting and heart-warming film that makes you smile through your tears. It looks at contentious issues but offers overwhelming hope and renewal.

Rizwan says his prayers in public, wears his cap, derives his identity from his religion, but rises well above it.         

To have a central character afflicted with Asperger Syndrome is a masterstroke. Here’s a man who can’t understand the complexities of the world but soaks in every little detail like a sponge, including the simple message from his mother (a nice return by Zarina Wahab) that all human beings are alike and the only difference between people is that they are either good or bad. Rizwan can’t express his deep thoughts and feelings but holds a mirror to the world most eloquently. He can repair anything but human beings. SRK is immensely endearing and draws you effortlessly into Rizwan’s world. There are some exceptional moments, like when he hides his face sheepishly on getting proposed to by Kajol (natural as always) or when he innocently wonders whether he was confined to a cell because he didn’t know anything about Al Qaida. It is hard not to get moved when he and Kajol grieve over a common loss, but in their own disparate ways, or when he remembers the loss of his “only best friend”.

Full report at: http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?264273

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Philippines: dialogue between Christians and Muslims despite violence

February 13, 2010

For 40 years, predominantly Muslim Mindanao has been the scene of violent fighting between the Filipino army and Islamic rebels. Catholic teacher in Basilan talks about his experience with Muslims, says everyone wants peace.

Basilan (AsiaNews) – “People who are from non-Muslim dominated areas of the country look at Muslims differently because of what they hear, read and see in mass media. The common perception is that Christians and Muslims can never co-exist,” said Daniel Febella, a Catholic schoolteacher  in Basilan (Mindanao). By contrast, he believes that Christians and Muslims can be friends. “I had mine,” he said, “and they were and still are the best friends I have”.

Febella has seen the violence in his region first hand and for a long time. For 40 years, the region has seen fighting between the Filipino army and Islamic rebels of the  Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Abu Sayyaf. Both Christians and Muslims have been affected. Thousands have been killed and 750,000 have been displaced.

Talks between the government and MILF resumed in September of last year but in November, the massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao has cast a dark shadow and increased fear among the population.

When Febella was in high school, he witnessed a bomb explosion that occurred a few meters away from their home. He saw the bodies of teachers and students from another church-run claret school in Maluso town in Basilan. Some of his teachers and schoolmates were badly injured. Yet this did not prevent Muslim and Christian kids from becoming friends.

“I had Muslims classmates all throughout my elementary and high school years,” he said. “The Catholic students prayed the Holy Rosary daily inside the classroom while Muslim classmates went to their mosque inside the campus.”

Full report at: www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?id=27365&t=Philippines%3A+dialogue+between+Christians+and+Muslims+despite+violence

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Afghanistan offensive on Taliban in Helmand

13 February 2010

Nato-led forces say they are making good progress hours after launching the biggest offensive in Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001.

There were clashes as more than 15,000 US, UK and Afghan troops swept into the Helmand districts of Marjah and Nad Ali in a bid to secure government control.

The Afghan Army said 70% of Marjah had been cleared, while a UK commander said 11 insurgent bases had been captured.

A Taliban commander reportedly said his men were retreating to spare civilians.

Operation Moshtarak - which means "together" in the local Dari language - is being led by 4,000 US Marines, supported by 4,000 British troops, with Canadians, Danes and Estonians.

'Heavily booby-trapped'

The BBC's Frank Gardner, with Nato forces at Kandahar airbase, says the test of the operation's success will not be on the battlefield.

It all depends on whether the coalition can hold the ground and bring lasting security and good governance to the population of central Helmand.

Hours after the attack was launched, three US soldiers were killed by an improvised explosive device, Nato said, although it is not yet clear if they were part of Operation Moshtarak.

Five members of the Taliban were killed and two arrested in the opening stages of the assault, Afghan officials said.

Troops have been advancing carefully, picking their way through poppy fields, trying not to set off Taliban bombs.

A canal bridge into Marjah was so rigged with explosives that US Marines had to erect temporary crossings to reach the town, reports the Associated Press.

Helmand Governor Gulab Mangal told a news conference the Taliban had "heavily booby-trapped the area", reports Reuters.

Full report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8513849.stm

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Malaysia court upholds ban on book on racial clash

By JULIA ZAPPEI

13 February 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A court upheld Malaysia's ban on a book about 2001 racial clashes, ruling Friday that its publication could upset ethnic sensitivities already strained by recent attacks on places of worship.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that the Home Ministry was correct to issue the ban three years ago on "March 8," written by Malaysian author K. Arumugam, which recounts clashes between ethnic Malay Muslims and ethnic Indians. The strife killed six people on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur in 2001.

Nearly two-thirds of Malaysia's 28 million people are Malays. The government carefully manages ethnic relations between Malays and the large Chinese and Indian minorities, while promoting the country as a model of racial harmony.

High Court Judge Mohamad Ariff Mohamad Yusof said the book ban was justified "based on public order grounds," according to Edmund Bon, a lawyer representing Arumugam, who sued to overturn the ban.

The lawyer said the judge did not elaborate on his misgivings about the book. "March 8" is based on eyewitness accounts and academic research. Some 3,000 copies were sold within six months of its publication before it was banned in late 2006, Bon said.

Full report at: Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Talks will focus on terror: India

Sandeep Dikshit

New Delhi still not in favour of restarting composite dialogue

India wants terror infrastructure in Pakistan dismantled

NEW DELHI: The first wide-ranging dialogue between India and Pakistan after the November 2008 Mumbai attacks will take place here on February 25.

This followed a phone call to Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao from her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir on Friday stating that February 25, one of the two dates suggested by India, was acceptable to Pakistan.

While New Delhi is open to discussing all subjects, including Kashmir and water, its focus will be on terror and the steps being taken by Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used for attacks against India.

New Delhi is still not in favour of restarting the composite dialogue process which had been Islamabad’s desire during contacts between the two sides since the Mumbai attacks.

Sources said that during meetings last year at Sharm-al-Sheikh in Egypt and in New York, the Pakistani side had pitched for beginning the fifth round of composite dialogue but India had maintained that Islamabad still had to demonstrate its resolve in convicting the masterminds of the Mumbai terror attacks.

“Nothing is static. The dynamics have changed,” said External Affairs Ministry officials while explaining the need for the talks. They said India had made its “point” to the Pakistani leadership and the international community by breaking off official-level dialogue after Islamabad had dragged its feet during the initial period after the attacks in acting against the perpetrators.

Since then, India has noted that Pakistan had taken a “few steps” such as arresting seven persons and slapping criminal cases on them, accepting the lone surviving gunman Kasab’s testimony in its court and attempting to get to the root of the conspiracy.

The dialogue process, hopes India, will touch upon the issue of dismantling the infrastructure of terror in Pakistan which still exists. Both sides also hope to narrow differences on their involvement in Afghanistan and India hopes to remove Pakistan’s misgivings on Balochistan if the issue comes up on February 25.

http://www.hindu.com/2010/02/13/stories/2010021354401000.htm

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Pakistan says 'free to raise any issue' during Feb 25 talks

13 February 2010

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has said it is "free to raise any issue", including Kashmir, differences over sharing of river waters and India's alleged interference in Balochistan, during the foreign secretary-level talks in New Delhi on February 25.

India has not imposed any pre-condition for resuming dialogue, foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit told the state-run PTV.

He said Pakistan is "free to raise any issue," including Kashmir, differences over sharing river waters and India's alleged interference in Balochistan and Afghanistan.

On the Kashmir problem, Basit claimed that "Indian insincerity" was the sole reason for the failure to resolve the "core" issue.

He claimed that India has taken no step to resolve this issue and it would have been settled by now if the composite dialogue, stalled since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, had continued.

Kashmiris, he said, must be granted the "right to self- determination" so that they can lead a prosperous and peaceful life.

Pakistan also has serious concerns on Indian activities in Afghanistan, he said, adding, India has reportedly invested over a billion dollars for building a dam on the Kabul river for apparently impeding water flow to the Indus river.

Basit said Islamabad is striving to ensure that the next round of the composite dialogue with New Delhi would be irreversible as abrupt severing of negotiations only benefits forces inimical to both countries.

Full report at: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pakistan-says-free-to-raise-any-issue-during-Feb-25-talks-/articleshow/5568642.cms

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Iraqi Shia city rocked by bombs

13 February 2010

A string of explosions killed at least six people in the Shia holy city of Najaf, Iraqi officials have said.

The bombings were apparently the latest in a series of attacks targeting Shia Muslims in the country.

Earlier in February another set of co-ordinated bombs killed at least 13 people in the run up to a key festival in the city of Karbala.

The government has blamed Baathist militias for the attacks, also claimed by al-Qaeda affiliated organisations.

The three blasts went off in quick succession on the road into the city, a major destination for Shia pilgrims, local officials said.

Scores of people were reportedly injured in the blasts.

With elections scheduled for March, there are fears of increased sectarian violence in Iraq, correspondents say.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8513461.stm

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Five killed in US-Iraqi raid on Iranian group

13 February 2010

The US military in Iraq say its forces supported the Iraqi military in a raid on suspected members of an Iranian-backed militant group.

It says five people were killed in an exchange of fire.

But local sources have disputed the account, saying that at least seven people were killed, among them civilians.

The fire fight occurred in a village near the Iranian border in southern Maysan province.

The US military says 12 people were arrested . It says the operation was against suspected members of Kataib Hezbollah, a group designated as a terrorist organisation by the US State Department.

"The joint security team was fired upon by individuals dispersed in multiple residential buildings... members of the security team returned fire, killing individuals assessed to be enemy combatants," the US military said in a statement.

"While the number of casualties has not yet been confirmed, initial reports indicate five individuals were killed," it added without specifying who was killed in the raid.

However Maitham Laftah, a member of Maysan provincial council, told the Reuters news agency that 10 people were killed, including two women and five people were wounded.

Local hospital sources told Reuters that eight people were killed, including one woman, and three people were wounded.

In the past two years, violence has fallen across Iraq, but insurgent attacks and sectarian violence is still common in some areas.

Security operations have stepped up as campaigning for Iraq's 7 March national election began on Friday.

There are over 100,000 US troops deployed in Iraq and a staged withdrawal of US troops will begin in late summer, subject to security conditions.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8512940.stm

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Eight Iraqis arrested over Red Cap killings in 2003

13 February 2010

Eight Iraqis have been arrested over the deaths of six Royal Military Police officers in 2003, the BBC has learned.

The Red Caps were killed by a mob in the town of Majar al-Kabir in southern Iraq while they were on a routine operation to train local police.

An Army spokesman said a judge had indicated there was enough evidence for the suspects to face trial.

"We are assisting the Iraqi government in every way possible to secure convictions," he added.

The six Red Caps killed included Sgt Simon Hamilton-Jewell, 41, from Chessington, Surrey, and Cpl Russell Aston, 30 from Swadlincote, Derbyshire.

Cpl Paul Long, 24, from Tyne and Wear, L/Cpl Benjamin McGowan Hyde, 23, from Northallerton, North Yorkshire, L/Cpl Tom Keys, 20, from Bala, North Wales, and Cpl Simon Miller, 21, from Tyne and Wear, also died.

Cpl Aston's father, Mike, told the BBC: "We are cock-a-hoop, quite honestly. Those alleged killers murdered our sons in cold blood and we owe it to our sons to see that justice is done."

L/Cpl Keys's father, Reg, also welcomed the news. "We know for a fact that shortly after the Red Caps were killed there were Iraqi witnesses coming forward," he told the BBC.

"They were disgusted - some of the town elders - by what had happened and they gave the names of the alleged killers to the investigating team shortly after the killings.

'Good news'

"We kept saying, 'You know who they are. We know who they are. For goodness sake, do something about it.'"

L/Cpl Hyde's father, John, echoed their views, and said he was disappointed the accused men would not face the death penalty if found guilty.

"Would it make me feel any better if they're convicted? No, it probably won't," he told the BBC.

"Before the British forces and British government passed on all the details of the investigation... the Iraqi government had to agree not to pass the death penalty... these people will serve jail sentences if they're found guilty."

A total of 16 arrest warrants relating to the murders have been issued by the Iraqi authorities since 2006. Eleven people have been detained, with three later released due to lack of evidence or mistaken identity.

An Army spokesman said: "The UK government is committed to seeing the killers of the six Royal Military Police personnel brought to justice and our thoughts remain with the families of those who died throughout this difficult process.

Full report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8513049.stm

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Egypt: Coptic killing suspects plead not guilty

By SALAH NASRAWI (AP)

CAIRO — Three Egyptian Muslim men accused in a drive-by shooting that killed seven people outside a Coptic church pleaded not guilty on Saturday, a judicial official said.

Egypt's prosecutor general has charged the three with murder and threatening national security in the Jan. 6 attack on Coptic Christmas Eve in the southern town of Nag Hamadi.

The shooting shocked Egypt's Coptic minority and underscored the government's failure to address chronic sectarian strains in a society where religious radicalism is gaining ground. Six members of the ancient community and a Muslim guard were killed while nine other people were wounded.

President Hosni Mubarak promised a quick trial for the suspects following nationwide protests by Egyptian Christians demanding better police protection.

The three suspects denied all charges as the trial, which is being conducted by a state emergency court, opened Saturday, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

"Police know that I am innocent and who the real perpetrators are," the official quoted Hammam al-Qomy, the main suspect in the killing, as telling the judge.

The trial was held in the city of Qena, 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Nag Hamadi, a mixed Christian-Muslim town with a history of religious tension. It was then adjourned until March 20.

Full report at: Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Val's Day Is Sinful And Leads To "Free Sex"

13-Feb-2010

Muslim leaders in Indonesia on Friday told the faithful not to celebrate Valentine's Day because it is sinful and leads to "free sex".

"We forbid Muslims to celebrate Valentine's Day," said Abdullah Cholil, an East Java leader of Nahdlatul Ulama, the mainly Muslim country's biggest Islamic organisation.

"The day is often celebrated by young, unmarried people. They celebrate Valentine's Day by holding hands or having free sex, which they are not supposed to be doing," he said.

Lalilurrahman, the East Java branch chief of the country's highest Islamic body, the Indonesian Ulema Council, said the celebration of romance and love was a Western tradition and therefore should not interest Muslims.

"Valentine's Day originated from Western culture. It's not in accordance with Islamic and Eastern culture," he said.

Shopping centres in Indonesia's major cities are decked out with Valentine's Day gift offerings as well as displays marking Chinese New Year.

Most Indonesians are moderate Muslims and few pay much attention to the moral edicts of local Islamic leaders.

http://news.peacefmonline.com/social/201002/38290.php

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UZBEKISTAN - Baptist falsely accused of selling drugs

February 13, 2010

Believers fear police might be targeting their community. Not recognised by the state, Baptists are systematically persecuted, so are some Muslim groups.

Tashkent (AsiaNews/F18) – Christians are being arrested and put on trial on trumped up charges. Tohar Haydarov is Baptist. Fellow Baptists said, “Police planted a matchbox with drugs” on him; he was “beaten and forced by the police to sign different papers.”

Arrested in the central Syrdarya region on 18 January, he was taken to his flat where police took his keys to get in and conduct a search. The latter was done in his absence. Police then claimed they found a plastic bag with marijuana on the premises.

The man is now charged with “illegal production, purchase, storage and other operation with narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances without the purpose of selling”, a crime punishable with up to five years in prison.

Members of Haydarov’s congregation are adamant that he would never sell drugs; they claim instead that the evidence was fabricated.

The Baptist Council of Churches rejects state registration in all the former Soviet republics where they operate. They insist that they have the right to meet for worship without registration.

Full report at: www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?id=27364&t=UZBEKISTAN+-+Baptist+falsely+accused+of+selling+drugs

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Indonesia lifts ban on pork imports

13 February 2010

Filed Under: International (Foreign) Trade, Consumer Issues, Safety of Citizens, Health

JAKARTA—Indonesia has lifted a temporary ban on imports of pork and its by-products after they were ruled out being the source of human swine flu.

The Trade Ministry said on its website on Saturday that they decided to lift the ten-month ban because they considered that "the disease cannot be transmitted from animals to human".

UN Food and Agriculture Organization experts say there is no risk of getting swine flu from eating pork.

Indonesia has recorded more than 1,000 confirmed cases of the A(H1N1) virus since it appeared in the country in June last year. Ten people in the country have died from the disease.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/world/view/20100213-253023/Indonesia-lifts-ban-on-pork-imports

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Marines pit ‘The Joker’ against Taliban

13 February 2010

SISTANI (AFGHANISTAN): In comes “The Joker.” That's the nickname given by the crew to one of the 72-ton, 12m-long Assault Breacher Vehicles. Fitted with a plow and nearly 3,175kg of explosives, the Breachers, as they are commonly known, are the Marines Corps' answer to the deadliest threat facing Nato troops in Afghanistan: thousands of land mines and roadside bombs, or improvised explosive devices, that litter the Afghan landscape.

The Breachers, metal monsters that look like a tank with a cannon, carry a 4.5m-wide plow supported by metallic skis that glide on the dirt, digging a safety lane through the numerous minefields laid by the Taliban.

If there are too many mines, the Breachers can fire rockets carrying high-grade C-4 explosive up to 150m forward, detonating the hidden bombs at a safe distance so that troops and vehicles can pass through safely.

A cross between a bulldozer and Abrams tank with a 1,500-horsepower turbine engine, Breachers are so valuable that they only travel outside bases along with a tank retrieval vehicle to drag them to safety if they are damaged.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Marines-pit-The-Joker-against-Taliban/articleshow/5566742.cms

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Twelve Yemeni soldiers, 24 rebels killed in clashes

February 13, 2010

SANAA: Twelve Yemeni soldiers and 24 Shia rebels were killed in clashes despite the announcement of an imminent accord to end six months of fighting, a military official said on Thursday. Five soldiers and 13 rebels were killed in heavy clashes late on Wednesday in Amran province north of Sanaa.

He said the fighting had erupted in the area of Burkat al-Shamsi following a sudden attack by the Zaidi Shia rebels, known also as Huthis. Separate clashes broke out late on Wednesday in the Al-Uqab suburb of Saada town, farther north, killing seven soldiers and 11 rebels. A Yemeni official said on Wednesday that the government was close to reaching a deal with the rebels after they agreed to six government conditions.

On Saturday, Sanaa set a timetable for the rebels to implement its terms for a ceasefire in the six-year-old uprising in the northern mountains, where fighting escalated after the army launched an all-out offensive in August. afp

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\02\12\story_12-2-2010_pg4_3

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13 die in twin Bannu suicide attacks

By Muhammad Alam Khan

BANNU: Thirteen people, including nine policemen and four civilians, were killed and 21 others sustained injuries when two suicide bombers attacked the Police Line-II one after another here on Thursday evening.

The injured also included District Police Officer (DPO), Bannu, Iqbal Khan Marwat, who was airlifted to a hospital in Peshawar because of his precarious condition. Police sources told The News that the first suicide bomber blew himself up at the main gate of the Police Line-II when the counting of personnel was under way inside the compound.

A police constable guarding the main gate was killed on the spot in the blast, which occurred soon after the Maghrib prayers.

The sources said DPO Iqbal Marwat, along with security guards, rushed to the police lines after the first suicide blast. As he reached the spot, another bomber blew himself up, killing his security guards on the spot and injuring him and several others, including policemen and civilians. The second suicide blast was carried out 15 minutes after the first explosion.

The sources added that nine cops and four civilians were killed and 21 others wounded in the two suicide explosions. However, the names of the slain policemen and civilians could not be ascertained as security forces besieged the area and curfew was clamped on Bannu city immediately after the blasts.

No one, including reporters, was allowed to perform duty due to fear of more suicide attacks in the city. Hospital sources said a total of 21 wounded policemen and civilians were brought to the District Headquarters Hospital. They said some of the injured were in a serious condition.

Full report at: http://thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=27206

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Iran jams VoA, BBC signals

13 February 2010

LONDON: Voice of America, the BBC, and Deutsche Welle have condemned what they say is a new wave of illegal Iranian jamming targeting their shared satellite.

The international broadcasters said on Friday that Iranian authorities were violating international law and called on satellite operators to pressure Tehran to stop.

The BBC has repeatedly accused Iran of jamming broadcasts of its Persian TV station amid the post-poll turmoil. The BBC now says Iran has begun jamming its English-language World News as well.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Iran-jams-VoA-BBC-signals/articleshow/5566732.cms

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Ebadi pleads for international help over Iran crackdown

12 February 2010

GENEVA: Iran Nobel peace prize winner and activist Shirin Ebadi on Friday launched an impassioned plea for international help, warning that a tragedy was looming in Iran if a government crackdown continued.

"The time has arrived now for the government to listen to the people," she said in Geneva.

"Tomorrow will be too late, tomorrow we will face a tragedy in Iran. Please help us," she added, warning of a sharp increase in human rights abuses there.

"Please help us to extinguish this fire in our homes," she added.

Ebadi was speaking the day after Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards and police reportedly clamped down on opposition protests during the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution which toppled the Western-backed Shah.

The 47-nation United Human Rights Council in Geneva is due to publicly scrutinise Iran's overall human rights record on Monday under a regular review process.

Ebadi appeared at an event organised by several human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, to lobby for support ahead of the meeting.

On Thursday, as vast crowds massed in central Tehran, security forces attacked opposition leaders Mohammad Khatami and Mehdi Karroubi while clashing with their supporters, an opposition website said.

The State Department said US monitoring showed Iran had attempted "a near total information blockade" to deal with the protesters, which a spokesman labelled as an "unprecedented, overwhelming step."

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Ebadi-pleads-for-international-help-over-Iran-crackdown/articleshow/5565258.cms

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US, Afghan forces ring Taliban bastion, seal escape routes

13 February 2010

US and Afghan forces ringed the Taliban stronghold of Marjah on Thursday, sealing off escape routes and setting the stage for what is being described as the biggest offensive of the nine-year war.

Taliban defenders repeatedly fired rockets and mortars at units poised in foxholes along the edge of the town, apparently trying to lure Nato forces into skirmishes before the big attack. Up to 1,000 militants are believed holed up in Marjah, a key Taliban logistics base and center of the opium poppy trade. But the biggest threats are likely to be the land mines and bombs hidden in the roads and fields of the farming community.

The precise date for the attack has been kept secret. US officials have signaled for weeks they planned to seize Marjah, a town of about 80,000 people in Helmand province and the biggest community in southern Afghanistan under Taliban control.

Nato officials say the goal is to seize the town quickly and re-establish Afghan government authority, bringing public services in hopes of winning support of the townspeople once the Taliban are gone. Hundreds of Afghan soldiers were to join US Marines in the attack to emphasize the Afghan role in the operation. The Taliban meanwhile said the insurgents would strike the attackers with explosives and hit-and-run tactics.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/US-Afghan-forces-ring-Taliban-bastion-seal-escape-routes/articleshow/5566734.cms

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Afghans plead for quick, careful attack on Marjah

AP | Kandhar

Tribal elders in southern Afghanistan pleaded on Friday for NATO forces to wage their imminent offensive on the Taliban stronghold of Marjah quickly and carefully to protect civilians in and around the town.

The group of 34 elders said in a letter to provincial officials that their people are frightened and worried they won’t be watched after, according to Abdul Hai Agha, an elder from Marjah. “We said in this letter that if you are doing this operation in Marjah, do it quickly,” Agha told mediapersons by phone from the nearby provincial capital of Lashkar Gah. They also urged the troops to do their best to avoid civilian casualties during the assault and have food and shelter ready in nearby towns for refugees.

US and Afghan forces have ringed Marjah, sealing off escape routes. On Thursday, Taliban defenders repeatedly fired rockets and mortars at units poised in foxholes along the edge of the town, apparently trying to lure NATO forces into skirmishes before the big attack. The offensive in Helmand province — the largest in the nine-year Afghan war — has been telegraphed for weeks.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/235705/Afghans-plead-for-quick-careful-attack-on-Marjah.html

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9/11 'mastermind' will be brought to justice: White House

Feb 13 2010

Notwithstanding the domestic controversy surrounding the

venue of his trial, the White House has said that Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, would be brought to justice.

"One way or the other, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be brought to justice ... I don't think you can be any tougher than that," the White House press secretary, Mr Robert Gibbs, said. Noting that the US President, Mr Barack Obama, has taken the fight against terrorism internationally, he said: "We will seek justice on behalf of thousands that were killed on September 11th because of the hateful acts of somebody like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed." Gibbs said a decision was made appropriately in conjunction with an inter-agency process by the Attorney General to try Mohammad in a New York court. There had been strong opposition to this decision both from the New York City Mayor and several US lawmakers. "Obviously there are efforts on Capitol Hill through legislation to restrict either the type of or the venue of a trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-conspirators. That, by definition, involves the White House and ultimately the President," he said. "So since this effort has moved from strictly a Justice Department decision to something that's in the legislative arena, the White House and by definition the President are involved," Gibbs said.

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/international/911-mastermind-will-be-brought-justice-white-house-942

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Nato launches major Afghanistan offensive

Feb 13 2010

The US-led Nato troops launched an offensive on Saturday against the Taliban's last big stronghold in Afghanistan's most violent province and were quickly thrown into a firefight with the militants.The assault is the first since President, Mr Barack Obama, ordered a "surge" of extra troops to Afghanistan in December and the start of a campaign to impose government control on rebel-held areas this year, before US forces start to withdraw in 2011.

Within hours of the operation getting underway, US Marines at the tip of the assault battled with Taliban militants in the town of Marjah, the last big militant bastion in

Afghanistan's violent Helmand Province. Reuters reporter Golnar Motevalli saw Marines engaging in a firefight with Taliban fighters after the US troops landed in helicopters near the city. Marines fired at least four rockets at militants who attacked from compounds. At least

one Marine was wounded by shrapnel."They are about 300 meters away," Motevalli said as the sound of assault rifles crackled in the background. Moments earlier, two large explosions resounded and a large black plume of smoke rose into the sky.The offensive began with waves of helicopters ferrying US. Marines into the city in the early morning hours. British troops then flew into the northern part of the surrounding Nad Ali district, followed by tanks and combat engineering units. The first objective of U.S. Marines was to take over the town center, a large cluster of dwellings, despite the risk of being blown up by bombs rigged by the Taliban.

Full report at: http://www.deccanchronicle.com/international/nato-launches-major-afghanistan-offensive-947

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Tehran protest image wins top news photo award

Friday, 12 Feb, 2010

AMSTERDAM: An image of women shouting from the rooftops in protest at Iran's presidential election last June won the top World Press Photo prize for news photography on Friday.

Described by judges as “the beginning of something, the beginning of a huge story”, the photo is part of a series that Italian Pietro Masturzo shot on Tehran's rooftops at night, when people were shouting their dissent over the election results as protests raged on the streets during the day.

“The difficulty in photographing conflict situations is one of portraying the parallel lives involved, of people going on with their lives,” said Guy Tillim, one of 19 judges.

“This picture has made a very good attempt at marrying these two elements, in giving the conflict a context - and that is a holy grail of photography.”

Conflict was a major theme among the winning news photos again this year, with most coming from places such as Afghanistan, Iran, Gaza, the West Bank and Somalia.

The top prize in the spot news category went to Adam Ferguson of the VII Mentor Program for the New York Times with a scene of a suicide bombing in Afghanistan.

Reuters photographer Mohammed Salem won second prize in the category for a picture of a glowing plume of smoke in Gaza after an Israeli offensive. The Associated Press's Julie Jacobson came third for a picture of a wounded soldier in Afghanistan.

The Amsterdam-based World Press Photo organisation said more than 101,960 images were submitted by 5,847 photographers from 128 countries.

Winner Masturzo will receive his award of 10,000 euros ($13,700) at an awards ceremony in Amsterdam in May.

www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/culture/03-tehran-protest-image-wins-top-news-photo-award-ss-04

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Hadley: “I love Azerbaijani Mugam”

February 13, 2010

Baku. Ulker Gasimova-APA. Becoming famous with the “Addicted to love” song, young American singer Hadley visited Azerbaijan. She told APA about her basic information about Azerbaijani culture. “I don’t have broad information about Azerbaijani culture. However I’m familiar with Mugam and I love it. This is my first visit to Azerbaijan so I’m short of ideas about this country”, she noted.

Hadley mentioned that she had surfed some info about Baku and the photos of the city helped her to discover Baku for herself. “I’m so glad to be here. Especially I’ll be here on February 14- Valentine’s Day, which makes me feel happy”.

Hadley started her career in music two years ago and has special interest to music. “I major in economics, however my interest to music brought me to it”.

She also noted that she respects Muslims and does not distinguishes people for their religious identities.

Hadley is expected to be in Azerbaijan for three days.

Under the program “From America with love”, Hadley will present to Azerbaijan people most popular songs in her repertoire at “Face Club” and is devoted to Valentine’s Day.

http://en.apa.az/news.php?id=116033

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Secular Coalition in Iraq Suspends Campaigning Over Candidate Bans

13 February 2010

An Iraqi man walks past posters with an symbolic X across for the Iraqi lawmaker Dhaver al-Ani, a Sunni politician who has been barred from running in the election because of alleged ties to the Baath party, in Najaf, south of Baghdad

In this Jan 20, 2010 file photo, an Iraqi man walks past posters with an symbolic X across for the Iraqi lawmaker Dhaver al-Ani, a Sunni politician who has been barred from running in the election because of alleged ties to the Baath party, in Najaf, south of Baghdad

A prominent secular coalition in Iraq has announced it will not campaign for the March 7 general election after several of its candidates were disqualified for alleged ties to late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party.

The Iraqiya list of former prime minister Iyad Allawi said Saturday the ban creates a poor climate for the political process.

Two prominent Sunni parliamentarians from the Iraqiya list, Saleh al-Mutlak and Dhaver al-Ani, are among the disqualified candidates.

Analysts say the ban could re-ignite sectarian tensions between majority Shi'ite Muslims and Sunnis, who dominated Iraq under Saddam.

Full report at: http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/middle-east/Secular-Coalition-Suspends-Campaigning-Over-Candidate-Bans-84295992.html

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Seeing red as Bollywood and politics collide

JIM YARDLEY, MUMBAI.

February 14, 2010

A stand-off between India's biggest movie star and a far-right leader has resonated across the country.

IN THIS capital of India's Hindi-language film industry, the release of the latest blockbuster by Bollywood's biggest star, Shah Rukh Khan, was not the usual red carpet and starlets affair. Police, fearing violent protests, were stationed at theatres, while nearly 2000 people were arrested as a precaution.

The controversy is a stand-off between two men from two very different corners of this staggering city of 14 million people.

One is Khan, the leading man of Indian cinema, known as King Khan for his box office success. The other is Bal Thackeray, the octogenarian supreme leader of Shiv Sena, the extremist, if fading, political party that for years has intimidated Bollywood and is now threatening Khan's movie.

On Friday, Mumbai movie-goers filled cinemas to see My Name is Khan, ignoring protests and the threat of violence. Supporters of the Shiv Sena damaged movie screens and stoned buses earlier last week, and scuffled with police at a few movie halls on Friday.

The fight over the film and the politics of its star, who angered the Hindu right when he proposed that more Pakistanis be allowed to play in Indian cricket teams, is a glimpse of the bitterly parochial politics that still divide India's most international city.

Full report at: http://www.theage.com.au/world/seeing-red-as-bollywood-and-politics-collide-20100213-nyda.html

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Thousands flee Somalia fighting, says UN refugee agency

13 February 2010

Thousands of people have fled Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, since Wednesday, the UN refugee agency has said.

"Since the beginning of February, over 8,000 people have left the city to escape the fighting," spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said.

"We are stepping up our preparedness to intervene and deliver emergency relief to the affected population as soon as the security situation permits."

For months now, fighting has been an almost daily occurrence in Mogadishu.

Some 24 people have been killed and another 40 injured since Wednesday, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Ms Fleming warned of the difficulties posed by working in a war zone: "As with other humanitarian actors, our own access is affected by conflict."

'Fragile state'

Despite reports of violent clashes between government troops and the Islamist group al-Shabab, the UN Special Representative for Somalia congratulated the transitional government on its work over the past 12 months and urged it to continue its efforts to restore peace and stability to the country.

"Unfortunately, they have had to spend time and resources trying to stop the violent attacks by extremists who oppose all their attempts to bring normality back to the country," said Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah.

"Many people recognize that Somalia is moving from being a failed state in conflict to a fragile state with major development and reconstruction needs," he added.

Somalia has been wracked by violence for much of the past 20 years. It has not had a functioning central government since 1991.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8513230.stm

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Hate and fear of daily living

Harsh Mander

Barefoot Vigilante Hindutva groups and cultural policing — coastal Karnataka is a bitterly divided place today…

In the picturesque coastal regions of Karnataka, fear has become a dominant motif of everyday life. A full year has passed since the attack on women in a pub in Mangalore on January 24, 2009 briefly attracted national outrage. A range of self-styled vigilante groups, with tacit support of the police and state administration, continue to dominate social life in the region, as they peremptorily dictate and enforce what they regard to be permissible social conduct. They oppose, often with open violence, the meeting of young people of different religious identities. They combat women who drink, dance or enter beauty pageants, but are incensed also by the burqa and hijaab. They assault Christian places of worship, priests and nuns, to ‘save' the Hindu faith from conversions. Teams of young men ‘rescue' cows which are sold for slaughter.

Local newspapers regularly carry glowing reports of how the alert intervention of activists of these vigilante groups — which include the Sri Ram Sene, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Rashtra Sena, Hindu Jagaran Vedike — have succeeded in preventing young Muslim men from enticing and ‘trapping' Hindu girls. The propaganda is that Muslim boys are trained to wage a ‘love jihad', by luring Hindu girls into relationships of ‘love' and marriage, so as to convert them to Islam. More extravagant versions are that the Hindu women are later trafficked for sex work in the countries of the Gulf, or used for terrorist attacks.

Volunteers in key places

Full report at: http://beta.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/Harsh_Mander/article105950.ece

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School violence touching new highs

Suleiman Al-Diyabi

TAIF: Last week schoolgirls in Makkah rioted when their mobile phones, used to help them cheat during examinations, were confiscated.

The story echoes that of the 20-year-old Jubail student who was sentenced to 90 lashes last month for attacking her head teacher after they argued over the girl’s use of her phone.

There have been plenty of other reports of school violence, although none quite as serious as the recent incident of a student shooting a teacher in Abha.

In a society where teachers have limited social status it seems there is no solution on the horizon for the growing problem of school violence. In Taif school violence, according to teachers at local schools, is affecting the students’ education. It is normal to have fights and disagreements at that age, but the teachers say the level of violence has gone beyond what is considered normal and is now affecting both groups.

They also blame a lack of family supervision for the rise in school violence.

Abdullah Al-Qarni, a high school teacher in Taif, said that in the past teachers received respect, but that has now ebbed away.

He said not a week passes without hearing about a violent incident at one of Taif’s schools. He said students exposed to violent scenes on TV and video games are part of the reason. “It is scary to hear about group fights between students, especially high school students,” Al-Qarni added.

Full report at: http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1&section=0&article=132882&d=13&m=2&y=2010

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Taliban vow guerrilla warfare against NATO troops

February 13, 2010

KABUL—The Taliban vowed on Thursday to fight back with a “hit and run” guerrilla campaign against Western and Afghan forces preparing to storm one of their key strongholds in southern Afghanistan.

Thousands of US Marines and NATO and Afghan soldiers have massed around the town of Marjah, a Taliban bastion in Helmand province, poised to launch one of the biggest operations against the insurgents since the 2001 US-led invasion.

The assault, dubbed Operation Mushtarak (“Together” in Dari) and expected to begin within days, aims to drive out the Taliban and replace their harsh rule with Western-backed Afghan government institutions. In a defiant statement on their website, the Taliban vowed to defend the town in the poppy-growing region of the central Helmand River valley, which they have controlled for years in tandem with drug traffickers.

“From what we see on the ground this operation is no different to the invading forces’ day-to-day activities,” Yousuf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, was quoted as saying.

“The enemy is making a big deal of it. They try to sell it to the media as a big offensive in spite of the fact that Marjah is a small place,” he said, adding: “The operation is not as big as they claim.” Marjah: heartland of the Taliban

Nevertheless he vowed that Taliban gunmen would stand against the offensive, using “hit-and-run” tactics and the improvised explosive devises, or IEDs, that have become a staple of their arsenal.

“I can say at this point that we’ll be using tactics we deployed in the Nawa and Khanishin operations,” he said, referring to two offensives in Helmand last year, the British-led Panther’s Claw, and the Marines’ Dagger. “It will be mostly hit-and-run and roadside bomb attacks,” he said.

Full report at:  http://dailymailnews.com/0210/12/FrontPage/FrontPage13.php

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/anti-semitism-widespread-in-muslim-world/d/2458


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