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Islamic World News ( 22 Nov 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Babri demolition meticulously planned, says Liberhan, indicts Atal, Advani

Liberhan report indicts BJP leadership's top rung

Punish Babri Masjid culprits, demand Muslim leaders

35 Killed in Mindanao as Election-Related Violence Erupts

Israel-Hamas prisoner swap deal near

A Terror Suspect With Feet in East and West

Gandhara art in Taliban crosshairs

Project binds Muslims to Americana

9/11 Terrorists, Islamic Extremists to Plead Not Guilty

Jihad the Core of Islam: Muslims in 21st Century America

Yemen on The Brink – by Stephen Brown

Braving flu threat, Muslim faithful descend on Mecca

Obama's pro-Muslim words

UP politics: Mulayam woos Muslims on b'day

Egypt's president warns Israel Jerusalem an issue for all Muslims

Modernity, Christianity and Islam

Muslim students chosen for meeting with Cong leader

From Xi'an to Mecca: A road to Hajj

Saudi Arabia: Security forces issue stern warnings ahead of hajj pilgrimage

Major Hasan and Holy War

Muslim groups to salute silent heroes of 26/11

Malaysia state govt to help obese woman

A Burka Barbie for Oppressed Muslim Girls Everywhere

‘Thaharah' Workshop for Muslim Women

US and Afghan soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Philippines political violence leaves 21 dead

Brazil Defends Visit of Iranian Leader

In 3 Tacks for Afghan War, a Game of Trade-Offs

Amended Iraq Election Law Still Angers Sunnis

Indonesian ferry captain rejects overcrowding claims

Home of US teachers hit by gunshots in Indonesia’s Aceh province, motive remains unclear

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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Babri demolition meticulously planned, says Liberhan, indicts Atal, Advani

Maneesh Chhibber

Nov 23, 2009

New Delhi: Calling them “pseudo-moderates,” the Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan Commission of Inquiry has indicted former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee along with current Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha L K Advani and former BJP president Murli Manohar Joshi, among others, for the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.

Citing the evidence it gathered, which includes witness statements and official records, one of the key conclusions of the Commission is said to be that the entire build-up to the demolition was meticulously planned. And there was nothing to show that these leaders were either unaware of what was going on or innocent of any wrongdoing.

The one-man Commission probed the “sequence of events leading, and all facts and circumstances relating, to the occurrences at Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid complex on December 6, 1992” — the day the Babri Masjid was brought down by kar sevaks.

Sources in the Union Home Ministry have confirmed to The Indian Express that the report is also severely critical of many Muslim leaders representing organizations such as the Babri Masjid Action Committee and the All India Babri Masjid Action Committee.

The elite leaders of these Muslim organizations, the report is learnt to have observed, constituted a class of their own and were neither responsible to nor were they caring for the welfare of those they claimed to represent. These leaders failed the community by failing to put forth a logical, cohesive and consistent point of view on the dispute, both inside and outside the courts, the Commission is said to have stated.

The Home Ministry, which is giving final touches to the action taken report (ATR), intends to table the ATR in Parliament along with the report of the Commission during the ongoing Winter Session.

The Commission was set up 10 days after the demolition as communal riots rocked several parts of the country. After 17 years and 48 extensions, it submitted its report on June 30 this year.

It is learnt that among others indicted and found culpable — for what the Commission calls pushing the nation to the brink of communal discord — are the entire top brass of the Sangh Parivar. These include the leaderships of the RSS, VHP and Shiv Sena.

It is learnt that Justice Liberhan has not come down heavily on the then Union Government headed by P V Narasimha Rao. Its argument: as per the Constitution, the Union Government can act only after it receives the recommendation of the state Governor. In this case, the Governor didn’t do much and also didn’t seek the Centre’s intervention.

The report is learnt to have said that despite claims to the contrary, the Ayodhya campaign did not enjoy the willing and voluntary support of the common masses, particularly Hindus. In fact, Liberhan is learnt to have said that the demand for a temple never became a mass movement. The campaign only ended up silencing the voices of sanity and shaming them into joining the movement.

Liberhan is learnt to have said that despite claims by Advani and Vajpayee that they had no role in the demolition, the two leaders cannot be absolved of their responsibility for the same. When he appeared before the Commission, Advani had said he was pained by the events at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.

Liberhan is said to have stated that while Vajpayee, Advani and Joshi could have been used by the Parivar as the publicly acceptable faces of the movement, they were still party to all decisions.

And that none of them had the capacity to defy the orders of the RSS without damaging their political future. In fact, the Commission calls them tools in the hands of the RSS.

However, drawing from history, particularly from the trials of Nazi soldiers, at which the plea of having acted on the orders of superiors was not accepted, the Commission is learnt to have concluded that these leaders can’t be given the benefit of doubt or absolved of culpability. Vajpayee, Advani and Joshi have also been indicted for having violated the trust of voters.

Rath yatras by Advani and Joshi, Liberhan is learnt to have concluded, were targeted at making the emotionally-charged common man join the movement.

In sharp contrast to the BJP and the Sangh Parivar stand that the demolition was a spontaneous outburst, Liberhan is said to have argued that the events resulting in the demolition were carefully planned.

The Commission is also said to have concluded that diversion of funds to Faizabad and Ayodhya just before the kar seva, mobilization of kar sevaks as well as arrangements made at the site with military-like precision, clearly proves that the plan was not just limited to symbolic kar seva, as stated by Sangh and BJP leaders.

To substantiate this argument, Liberhan is learnt to have pointed to the mode of assault on the disputed structure as well as easy availability of instruments and material. The small number of kar sevaks who actually carried out the demolition, the hidden faces of such kar sevaks, the removal of idols and cash boxes from under the domes and the eventual installation in the makeshift temple clearly show that demolition was carried out with painstaking preparation and planning, he is learnt to have said.

The report is said to suggest that the emergence of a host of leaders to lead the movement from among the ranks of the BJP, RSS, Bajrang Dal and other Sangh Parivar groups was because of the lure of wealth and power rather than ideology.

Liberhan is learnt to have written that these leaders saw the Ayodhya movement as their road to success, and they acted as executioners wielding swords provided by the ideologues.

Referring to the funds collected by leaders of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, the Commission has reportedly said that many tens of crores of rupees collected from the people were deposited into bank accounts operated by these leaders. These funds were used to provide infrastructure and other amenities for kar sevaks in the days leading to the demolition.


Liberhan report indicts BJP leadership's top rung

Monday November 23, 2009,

The ghost of the Babri Masjid demolition is back to haunt the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP).

Angry scenes rocked Parliament on Monday, after the Liberhan Commission's report, was leaked. The report, which investigates the demolition, severely indicts some of the BJP's top leaders. (Read: What is the Liberhan Commission?)

"The Executive, Political Class and Bureaucracy took no effective measures to prevent the demolition or to arrest the perpetrators" - nobody is spared in the opening of the 900-page Liberhan Report.

NDTV has exclusive access to the report, scheduled to be tabled in Parliament next month.  The report says the entire build-up to the demolition was meticulously planned. And there was nothing to show that the BJP's top leaders were either unaware of what was going on, or innocent of any wrongdoing.

The report then goes on to describe the demolition of the Babri Masjid as "one of the most abhorrent acts in the history of the nation."

What is going to be most damaging for the party is that the report indicts its top leadership of being fully aware of "the tailor-made exercise" that resulted in the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

The Liberhan Report also accuses the BJP of making "false promises" that the Babri Masjid would not be demolished, to the central government, led by Narasimha Rao. (Read: 'BJP's 'false promises misled Central govt')

The report says the central government's failure was that it was "day-dreaming", and believed the BJP's assurances. (Read: Report goes easy on Narasimha Rao, then PM)

The report also says that if the BJP did not know about what its kar sevaks were about to do, then this only proves that the BJP is little more than a "frontal organization" for its parent body, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). It says the BJP realised the potential of "manipulating religious ground".

Then UP chief minister Kalyan Singh has come in for particularly severe criticism - the report says he refused paramilitary forces from the Centre till after the demolition.

The Babri Mosque was demolished on December 6, 1992, and the Liberhan Commission was set up 10 days after the incident.

The panel submitted its report on June 30 this year, after 17 years and 48 extensions.

The Left, the SP and the BJP would like to see the report tabled in Parliament without any more delay.

But the contents of the report need to be verified before it is made public.


Punish Babri Masjid culprits, demand Muslim leaders

Nov 23, 2009

New Delhi: As a political storm engulfed parliament over "leakage" of the Liberhan Commission report on the Babri mosque demolition, some Muslim clerics and leaders on Monday demanded that the long pending truth behind the "unfortunate" incident should be made public officially and the culprits punished.

Seeking action against those involved in the demolition of the 16th century Babri Masjid, Maulana Niyaz Ahmed Farooqi of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, one of the leading organisations of Muslim clerics, said there was no reason why the Government should not table the probe report.

"Seventeen years of wait, 48 extensions and crores of rupees, for what?" Farooqi asked.

He said it was the job of Justice (retd) M S Liberhan to identify the culprits. "But for us those who are hiding the truth and are reluctant to table the report are equally involved in the unfortunate incident," Farooqi told IANS.

"This is a long struggle of 17 years, a struggle based on principles. We don't know who the real culprits are and who planned the martyrdom of the Babri Masjid. But irrespective of that, there is no reason why the truth should not be made public officially and the culprits punished," he said.

Politician and former MP Shahid Siddiqui, who is also editor of Urdu daily Nai Duniya, said the leakage of the report was "surprising and aimed to diminish its impact".

"It is extremely unfortunate the report came out this way. The focus now is on the controversy over the leakage. The main focus to expose the truth behind the dastardly incident has shifted," said Siddiqui, who is also national secretary of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

The politician-journalist said the report findings were not surprising. "Everybody knows who the culprits are but what remains to be seen is what action the government and the judiciary will take against those who have been indicted," he said.

Former MP and convener of the Babri Masjid Movement Coordination Committee (BMCC) Syed Shahabuddin urged the government to clear its stand on what action would follow the Liberhan report.

"The Government should have willingly tabled the report in parliament as I have been demanding. Since the report has been exposed, I don't know why and how, the government should now ensure action against those who have been indicted," Shahabuddin said.


35 Killed in Mindanao as Election-Related Violence Erupts

By Leo Reyes.

Nov 23, 2009

The wife of a town mayor and gubernatorial candidate of Maguindanao Philippines was killed along with 35 others including journalists who were covering the filing of certificate of candidacy of the mayor and gubernatorial candidate of Maguindanao

At least 35 people were killed Monday in the village of Masalay. Datu Abdullah Sanki town in Maguindanao, Philippibnes.

One of the fatalities is the wife of the mayor of Buluan town in Maguindanao. The Mayor's wife, Genalyn Mangudadatu was able to call her husband, Mayor Ismael Mangudadatu of Buluan town telling him that that at least 100 men were holding her and 50 others including journalists who were there to cover the filing of candidacies of the local politicians.

The gruesome massacre was blamed by Mangudadatu to the Ampatuan clan, his political opponents and former allies. The governor of the autonomous region in Muslim Mondanao is Governor Zaly Apatuan while Andal Ampatuan is the governor of Maguindanao. Mayor Ismael Mangudadatu is running for the governorship post of Maguindanao.

Presidential Adviser for Mindanao Jesus Dureza condemned the massacre.

“This is a gruesome massacre of civilians unequalled in recent history. Even women and working media men were not spared. I grieve for my friends in the media and all those killed while doing their job,” Dureza said in a statement.

“There must be a total stop to these senseless violence and carnage in the highest form. I strongly recommend that a state of emergency be imposed in the area and everyone be disarmed. Anything less would not work,” Dureza added.

It was reported that more than 30 journalists are with the group of Mangudadatu to cover his filing of the certificate of candidacy for the gubernatorial post of Maguindanao. Identities of the victims including the journalists are still to be established.

The massacre happened while Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan were reportedly in Manila for an emergency meeting with presidential adviser on political affairs Gabriel Claudio.

The Ampatuans and the Mangudadatus were former allies for decades but have since become political enemies.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police are in pursuit of the killers.


Israel-Hamas prisoner swap deal near

Monday, 23 November 2009

CAIRO, Nov 23 — Israel has softened its terms for a prisoner swap with Hamas and the two enemies are nearing a deal to exchange hundreds of Palestinian inmates for an Israeli soldier held in the Gaza Strip, officials said today.

A delegation from Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, crossed into Egypt for a planned meeting with Egyptian security officials in Cairo to discuss the deal that Egypt and Germany have been mediating.

Officials close to the talks said Israel had agreed to include in the exchange for the soldier, Gilad Shalit, some 160 prisoners whose release it had previously vetoed.

Shalit was captured by Palestinian militants who tunnelled into Israel from the Gaza Strip in 2006. Israel has linked any major easing of its blockade on the territory to the soldier’s return home.

“The Shalit episode is about to be closed,” one of the officials said.

Sources on both sides told Reuters there were hopes that a deal might be struck by the end of the week, when the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha begins.

In Jerusalem, Israeli government officials declined to comment on prospects for a deal with Hamas, a group that has rejected Western demands to recognise Israel, renounce violence and accept existing interim Israeli-Palestinian peace accords.

“The efforts to win Gilad Shalit’s release are continuing and taking place outside the media spotlight. We have no intention of commenting beyond this,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

Sources close to the negotiations have said Hamas, in the first part of a deal, would hand over Shalit to Egypt and Israel would release some 350 to 450 prisoners.

In a sign of flexibility from Hamas, the sources said, the group had agreed that some would go into exile rather than return to the West Bank or Gaza Strip.

More prisoners would be released when Shalit was transferred from Egypt to Israel, while other prisoner releases could take several more weeks to complete.

Officials who reported that a deal is approaching said Arabs holding Israeli citizenship are among the 160 newly agreed prisoners slated for release. Israel had objected to including Israeli Arabs in an exchange.

Public pressure has been mounting on the Israeli government to show flexibility in a prisoner swap, even if it meant freeing militants jailed for planning some of the most deadly Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel.

Amid the mounting speculation that a deal is near, Shalit’s parents met on Monday Israel’s chief negotiator in the indirect contacts with Hamas.


A Terror Suspect With Feet in East and West


November 21, 2009

PHILADELPHIA —  The trip from a strict Pakistani boarding school to a bohemian bar in Philadelphia has defined David Headley’s life, according to those who know the middle-age man at the center of a global terrorism investigation.

The Khyber Pass in Philadelphia, a bar that was once owned by David Headley's mother.

Raised by his father in Pakistan as a devout Muslim, Mr. Headley arrived back here at 17 to live with his American mother, a former socialite who ran a bar called the Khyber Pass.

Today, Mr. Headley is an Islamic fundamentalist who once liked to get high. He has a traditional Pakistani wife, who lives with their children in Chicago, but also an American girlfriend — a makeup artist in New York — according to a relative and friends. Depending on the setting, he alternates between the name he adopted in the United States, David Headley, and the Urdu one he was given at birth, Daood Gilani. Even his eyes — one brown, the other green — hint at roots in two places.

Mr. Headley, an American citizen, is accused of being the lead operative in a loose-knit group of militants plotting revenge against a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The indictment against him portrays a man who moved easily between different worlds. The profile that has emerged of him since his arrest, however, suggests that Mr. Headley felt pulled between two cultures and ultimately gravitated toward an extremist Islamic one.

“Some of us are saying that ‘Terrorism’ is the weapon of the cowardly,” Mr. Headley wrote in an e-mail message to his high school classmates last February. “I will say that you may call it barbaric or immoral or cruel, but never cowardly.”

He added, “Courage is, by and large, exclusive to the Muslim nation.”

Mr. Headley’s e-mail messages, including many that defended beheadings and suicide bombings as heroic, are among the evidence in the government’s case against him and his accused co-conspirator, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, who was born in Pakistan, is a citizen of Canada and runs businesses in Chicago.

The men, who became close friends in a military academy outside Islamabad, were arrested last month in Chicago. They are charged with plotting an attack they labeled the Mickey Mouse Project against Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper whose cartoons provoked outrage across the Muslim world.

Since then, the investigation has widened beyond Chicago and Copenhagen. The authorities have learned more, with cooperation from Mr. Headley, about the two men’s network of contacts with known terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani militant group, as well as officials in the Pakistani government and military. United States and Indian investigators are also looking into whether the two Chicago men, who traveled to Mumbai before the deadly assault there last November, may have been involved in the plot.

Mr. Headley, 49, and Mr. Rana, 48, stand out from the young, poor extremists from fundamentalist Islamic schools who strike targets in or close to their homelands. Instead, their privileged backgrounds, extensive travel and bouts of culture shock make them more like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed architect of the Sept. 11 attacks, who attended college in the United States, and Mohammed Atta, one of the lead hijackers.

Mr. Rana’s father is a former principal of a high school outside Lahore. One of his brothers is a Pakistani military psychiatrist who has written several books, and another is a journalist at a Canadian political newspaper, The Hill Times.

Trained as a physician, Mr. Rana immigrated to Canada in 1997 and became a citizen a few years later. Then he moved his wife and three children to Chicago, where he opened a travel agency that also provided immigration services on Devon Avenue, which cuts through the heart of the city’s Pakistani community. In 2002, he started a Halal slaughterhouse that butchers goats, sheep and cows according to Islamic religious laws.

He and his family live in a small brick house on the North Side with a huge satellite dish on the roof. Neighbors described Mr. Rana as a recluse who rarely spoke to anyone and whose children never played with others on the street.

“He seemed very committed to his Islamic religion,” said William Rodosky, who once managed Mr. Rana’s slaughterhouse, in Kinsman, Ill., about 65 miles southwest of Chicago. “He said he wanted the business so he could provide meat to his people and make a little money.”

Mr. Rodosky echoed the views of several others who knew and did business with Mr. Rana when he said he was “shocked about the terrorism charges.”

“As far as I knew, he was very nice man and a very good businessman,” Mr. Rodosky said.

But Mr. Headley did not draw the same expressions of shock. Those who knew him paint a more troubled image.

“Most people have contradictions in their lives, but they learn to reconcile them,” said William Headley, an uncle who owns a day care center in Nottingham, Pa. “But Daood could never do that. The left side does not speak to the right side. And that’s the problem.”

Daood Sayed Gilani was born in Washington, where his parents worked at the Pakistani Embassy. Friends of the family said his father, Sayed Salim Gilani, a dashing diplomat and an avid musicologist and poet, charmed his way into the heart of Serrill Headley, who had left Philadelphia’s Main Line to work as a secretary at the embassy.

In 1960, the couple and their infant son, Daood, left the United States bound for England aboard the ship America, and from there went on to Lahore. But the marriage quickly soured, friends said, as Mr. Gilani immersed himself in the traditions of his homeland and his bride refused to submit to them.

After Ms. Headley left Mr. Gilani and her son and a daughter, Syedah, in Pakistan, friends say, the details of her life become lost in a jumble of fact and fiction. Ms. Headley, a red-haired, green-eyed woman, told friends she married an “Afghan prince” but then had to flee Kabul after he was murdered.

She arrived back in Philadelphia, friends said, in the early 1970s, taking different office jobs and dating wealthy suitors until one of them lent her money to buy an old bar. She turned it into the Khyber Pass, decorated with billowing Afghan wedding tents and stocked with exotic beers.

In 1977, Pakistan’s government was overthrown in a military coup, and Ms. Headley, friends said, feared for her children. She traveled to Pakistan, withdrew her son from the Hasan Abdal Cadet College and brought him to live with her, a move recorded by The Philadelphia Inquirer. (Her daughter, Syedah, stayed behind with her father for several years.)

“He has never been alone with, much less had a date with, a girl, except the servant girls of his household,” the article said, referring to the teenage Daood Gilani. “But he has just this day found a cricket team to join. And he has just this day, after watching American TV, said to his mother in his soft Urdu-English that she is to him like the Bionic Woman.”

According to family friends, the teenager soon rebelled against his mother’s heavy drinking and multiple sexual relationships by engaging in the same behavior.

“Those were the days when girls, weed, and whatever, were readily available,” Jay Wilson, who worked at the Khyber Pass, wrote in an e-mail message from England. “Daood was not immune to the pleasures of American adolescence.”

Later, said Lorenzo Lacovara, another former worker at the bar, Daood Gilani began expressing anger at all non-Muslims.

“He would clearly state he had contempt for infidels,” Mr. Lacovara said in a telephone interview from New Mexico. “He kept talking about the return of the 14th century, saying Islam was going to take over the world.”

Ms. Headley tried to help her son straighten out his life. In 1985, she put him in charge of the Khyber Pass, but he proved to be such a poor manager that they lost the bar a couple of years later, friends of the family said.

Ms. Headley embarked on her third marriage, and her son set off for New York, where he opened two video rental stores in Manhattan. It is unclear where he got the money to start the ventures. But court files suggest that the source may not have been entirely legal.

In 1998, Mr. Gilani, then 38, was convicted of conspiring to smuggle heroin into the country from Pakistan. Court records show that after his arrest, he provided so much information about his own involvement with drug trafficking, which stretched back more than a decade, and about his Pakistani suppliers, that he was sentenced to less than two years in jail and later went to Pakistan to conduct undercover surveillance operationsfor the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In 2006, he changed his name to David Headley, apparently to make border crossings between the United States and other countries easier, court documents say. About that time, his uncle said, he moved his family to Chicago because it had a large Muslim community and he wanted to send his four children to religious schools.

There, the family lived in a small second-floor apartment. Mr. Headley claimed to work for Mr. Rana’s immigration agency. The two men attended the Jame Masjid mosque on Fridays, then stopped at the nearby Zam Zamrestaurant to eat and talk politics. Cricket, neighbors said, was their passion.

But Mr. Headley never seemed to fully fit in. Masood Qadir, who sometimes watched cricket with him, said he was “different” and kept mostly to himself.

E-mail messages show, however, that Mr. Headley stayed in regular contact with classmates from the military high school he attended in Pakistan, often engaging in impassioned debates about politics and Islam.

Earlier this year, Mr. Headley complained about “NATO criminal vermin dropping 22,000 lbs bombs on unsuspecting, unarmed Afghan villagers” or “napalming southeast Asian farmers.” Writing about Pakistan’s chief enemy, he said, “We will retaliate against India.”

And in an e-mail message defending the beheading of a Polish engineer by the Taliban in Pakistan, he wrote, “The best way for a man to die is with the sword.”



Gandhara art in Taliban crosshairs

23 November 2009

TAXILA: Archaeologists warn that the Taliban are destroying Pakistan’s ancient Gandhara heritage and rich Buddhist legacy as pilgrimage and foreign research dries up in the country’s northwest. “Militants are the enemies of culture,” said Abdul Nasir Khan, curator of Taxila Museum, one of the premier archaeological collections in Pakistan. “It is very clear that if the situation carries on like this, it will destroy our culture and will destroy our cultural heritage,” he said.

Taxila, a small town around 20 kilometres south of Islamabad, is one of Pakistan’s foremost archaeological attractions given its history as a centre of Buddhist learning from the 5th century BC to the 2nd century.

Violence is on the rise in Pakistan as Taliban bombers and gunmen strike with increasing frequency and intensity in the cities of North West Frontier Province and around Islamabad.

“Even in Taxila we don’t feel safe. The local administration has warned us about a possible attack on this museum. We have taken some extra security precautions but they aren’t sufficient and we lack funds,” said Khan. “For weeks we don’t get even a single foreign visitor. If visitors don’t come, if sites are not preserved and protected, if research stops, what do you think will be the future of archaeology?”

In March 2001, Taliban militants in neighbouring Afghanistan blew up two 1,500-year-old Bamiyan Buddha statues in defiance of international appeals. The Islamist militia has since spread into Pakistan. Their opposition to music, art, dance, girls’ education and idolatry makes archaeologists fear that Pakistani Buddhist relics are in the eye of the storm. Italian archaeologists were active in Pakistan’s NW Swat valley from 1956 until they reluctantly discontinued work in 2007 after Taliban fighters led by cleric Maulana Fazlullah rose up demanding sharia law.


Project binds Muslims to Americana

Nov 23, 2009

RALEIGH Ask most people who were the earliest U.S. Muslims and they might scratch their heads and come up with Muhammad Ali or maybe Malcolm X.

But an exhibit at the Shaw University mosque Sunday dispels the myth that Muslims, adherents to Islam, first came on the U.S. scene in the 1960s, or that the earliest among them were African-American converts such as the retired boxer or the black activist.

The exhibit, "Muslims in America," demonstrates that Muslim explorers may have predated Christopher Columbus and that Muslims fought in every U.S. war since the Revolutionary War. Census records show nearly 300 men with surnames from Muslim areas fought in the Civil War, for example.

The 200 or so adults and children who peered at the photocopies of letters, portraits and tombstones Sunday also learned that North Carolina was home to one of the most learned of Muslim slaves, Omar Ibn Sayyid of Fayetteville.

"I studied this in college but I didn't know North Carolina's role," said Jamaal Albany, a teacher at Al-Iman, a Muslim day school in Raleigh, who brought some of his sixth- and seventh-grade students to the exhibit. "It's amazing."

The exhibit is the brainchild of Amir Muhammad, a Washington history buff who went in search of his own family roots in Georgia a dozen years ago and stumbled on traces of a forgotten Muslim past, made up mostly of West African Muslims who were brought to this country as slaves.

Muhammad has taken his poster boards from Maine to California, stopping in each city on the tour for a few hours. The original portraits and some of the rare artifacts formed an exhibit at the Smithsonian four years ago.

North Carolina's contribution to American Muslim history may have begun with Sayyid, who was born in what is present-day Senegal in 1770. A Muslim scholar who read and wrote in Arabic, he was enslaved at age 37 and arrived in Charleston, S.C., in 1807.

Full report at:


9/11 Terrorists, Islamic Extremists to Plead Not Guilty

Sunday, 23 November 2009

The latest development on the 'alleged' terrorists behind the September 11, 2001 attacks reads like this: they plan to plead not guilty.  This is, of course, after Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has already confessed to the attack.  The terrorists will be brought to New York City where they will be tried in civilian court just blocks blocks away from where the attacks took place.  This decision might be the dumbest made by the idiots that currently occupy the White House.

Scott Fenstermaker - yes that's a real name and not a cool college nickname - will be the lawyer for the accused terrorist Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali.  Just try and pronounce that.  He's said the men would not deny their role in the 2001 attacks, but "would explain what happened and why they did."  That last statement is completely moronic.  However, with emphathetic judges, like Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, it may just win over a few jurors who feel bad for the terrorists.

We now live in a society where terrorists get the same rights as American citizens.  The trial will an absolute joke and a propaganda tool.  With the 2010 elections right around the corner, this trial will be used as the first major attempt to link the Bush administration to the attacks.  Bringing back the "It's Bush's fault!" motto is one of the best opportunities the Democrats have to win elections.  It worked in 2008, but didn't work in 2009 because, well, it's not Bush's fault - but a national show trial about the 9/11 attacks and linking it to the Bush administration is a wet dream for the left and terrorists.

The terrorists want a platform so they can air their criticisms for U.S. foreign policy.  Having the trials will give Mohammed and the other radical Islamists a world stage to spout hateful rhetoric and preach to everyone how bad America is both here and abroad.  Attorney General Eric Holder, who was partners at a law firm that has represented terrorists in the past, believes most concerns are misplaced.

Full report at:


Jihad The Core Of Islam: Muslims In 21st Century America

By Frosty Wooldridge

November 23, 2009

Jihad in America, Muslim prime directive

Islam grows so powerful in Europe; few dare expose its underbelly, its provocative actions, its arcane rituals and its final obsession: submission of all people to Islamic precepts. Why? They could get killed in their own country by core Islamic extremists living in Europe.

Peter Wagner wrote, “When talking about "The Religion of Peace," detractors will point to other verses in the Koran that contradict the hateful ones. What most people are unaware of is that in Islam there is the "law of abrogation.”

 “Basically, when Mohamed or Allah have said something contradictory, and there are lots of those, the last command takes precedence over the earlier command and renders the earlier command null and void. Since the books of the Koran are not in chronological order one needs to know which command came last. Much of the "kill the infidel" stuff is the more recent commands.

 “Part of the problem with "peaceful Muslims" is that none will repudiate the "kill the infidels" commands of their god and prophet because to do so would make one worse than an infidel with another command by Allah to put the apostate to death. In fact, "Radical Islamists" are nothing more than true believers doing exactly what Mohammed and Allah are telling them to do. The "peaceful Muslims" are actually the unbelievers and the Jihadists are the true believers. Check the ‘murtadd’; it also explains why "peaceful Muslims" won't condemn the Jihad at Fort Hood. If you want personal proof, when talking to a Muslim, ask them to condemn and repudiate the grossly hateful and kill-the-infidel stuff in the Koran. You will get some interesting answers.”

Whereas true Christians "turn the other cheek, love their enemies, do unto others..." etc. True Muslims kill the infidels. Both are just doing what their god and prophet told them to do.

Full report at:


Yemen On The Brink – by Stephen Brown

By Stephen Brown

November 23, 2009

While the fighting in Afghanistan continues to dominate news coverage, one Middle Eastern country has emerged as a leading flashpoint of Islamic terrorism. Yemen, most recently in the headlines as the home of Anwar al Awlaki [1], the exiled imam who fled to the country after inspiring Fort Hood murderer Nidal Malik Hasan, has become a haven for al-Qaeda even as its internal turmoil has drawn in regional rivals like Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Yemen [2] is the poorest and most unstable of all Middle Eastern countries. Located in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula, it occupies a strategic position that makes the country difficult to ignore. At its south-western tip, Yemen straddles one side of the strategic, 20-mile wide Mandab Strait [3] that connects the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea, a vital international shipping lane leading to the Suez Canal. Equally important for world commerce, Saudi Arabia’s oil fields lie just across Yemen’s northern border.

It is Yemen’s northern area, particularly the Saada region, which is beginning to attract international attention. A bitter civil war there is threatening to turn into a regional conflict pitting Iran against Saudi Arabia. A rebellion among Saada’s Shiite tribes, called the Houthis (the name of the clan leading the revolt), against Yemen’s central government has seen the two rival Muslim states stake out sides in the conflict.

Iran, which champions the Shiite cause throughout the Islamic world, has reportedly sent combatants from its own Revolutionary Guards as well as from Hezbollah [4], its proxy Shiite fighting force in Lebanon, to help the Houthis. Last month, Yemen’s navy exposed the extent of Iran’s involvement in the conflict when it seized a ship off its coast carrying Iranian arms for the Shiite rebels.

Full report at:


Braving flu threat, Muslim faithful descend on Mecca

23 November 2009

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia: Braving the swine flu pandemic, more than 2.5 million Muslim faithful are descending on the holy cities of Mecca and Medina this week for the hajj.

Under heightened monitoring by some 20,000 medical staff and more than 100,000 security personnel, the world's largest annual pilgrimage will kick off on Wednesday in western Saudi Arabia.Four deaths from the A(H1N1) virus announced on Saturday - the first among pilgrims - served as a warning to the faithful who have mostly eschewed surgical masks and other preventive measures.

But the number was less than had been feared by the Saudi authorities.

Pilgrims from all over the world have poured into Saudi Arabia, by plane, bus and boat since October, for what for many is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Among the other concerns, Saudi officials are hoping also that repeated deadly stampedes - the last in 2006 left 364 dead - are a thing of the past.

Builders just completed a massive five-storey pedestrian walkway for the most crowded stage of the hajj - the stoning of the devil at the Jamarat in Mina valley - designed to avoid the panics of the past.

The 950 metre long, 80 metre wide bridge cost US$1.2 billion.

Swine flu has been a major concern since it reached pandemic level earlier this year.

By Saturday, only 20 pilgrims had been diagnosed with the disease. Twelve had been treated and discharged, four died and four remained in hospital.

Health ministry spokesman Dr. Khaled Marghlani said the four dead - three 75-year-olds and a teenage Nigerian girl - all had health problems ranging from chest infection to cancer that made them highly vulnerable.

"They all had pre-existing conditions," Marghlani told AFP.

After a May conference of international health experts, Saudis decided not to ban pilgrims from higher-risk groups - the elderly, children and the already ill.

With the Hajj a duty for all able Muslims, Riyadh instead urged governments around the world to restrict the pilgrimage to healthy adults between 18 and 65.

Doctors monitoring airport arrivals said there seemed to be fewer children and elderly this year, but not a sharp reduction.

Full report at:


Obama's pro-Muslim words

November 22, 2009

By Grant Swank

Let Barack Hussein Obama speak for himself:

"The person who made me proudest of all though was my (half-brother), Roy. He was converted to Islam." (DREAMS OF MY FATHER)

"In Indonesia, I spent two years at a Muslim school. . .I studied the Koran." (DREAMS OF MY FATHER)

"Lolo (Obama's stepfather) followed Islam. . .I looked to Lolo for guidance." (AUDACITY OF HOPE)

" I will stand with them (Muslims) should the political winds of war shift in any ugly direction. . ." (AUDACITY OF HOPE)

"We are no longer just a Christian nation. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers." (INAUGURAL SPEECH)

What Obama does not understand, or perhaps he does but discards it, is that America was founded on a decidedly Christian base.

Naturally not all early settlers were biblical believers. But those seeking religious freedom in the New World were by and large Christians. They held to the Scriptures as the Word of God. In doing so, they tried to live out its morals, believe in Jesus as Savior, and prayed to Him.

They taught their children the Christian way, keeping Sunday s a holy day, even using Scripture verses in school texts by which to instruct pupils in the proper way to live.

Obama now wants for America, not merely the European secularization, but Islam World Rule. That is why he has circling him czars in a shadow government who are known as "devout Muslims."

He had the same in his Senatorial office in Illinois. He used them in his political campaign. Now he has them to right and left making policy and wielding untold power.

This nation surely has its spiritual faults. But it has a Christian heritage that cannot be denied, though Obama would erase it as quickly as possible. He does not want the next generations learning of the facts. He wants an Islamic theocracy in the United States.


UP politics: Mulayam woos Muslims on b'day

Lucknow November 23, 2009

Samajwadi Party (SP) president Mulayam Singh Yadav on Sunday turned his birthday bash into an occasion for mending broken ties with Muslims.

A number of Muslim leaders gathered around the SP chief, who turned 71 on Sunday, sending positive signals to members of the community. Once known as Maulana Mulayam for his pro-Babri Masjid stand, he was discarded by the Muslims just before the Lok Sabha elections when he joined hands with Kalyan Singh.

Singh, the former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister and Lodh leader, is considered by Muslims to be one of the main accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case. Though Mulayam and his party gained Lodh votes, these could not make up for the loss of Muslim votes.

The SP chief realised his error of judgement only after losing the Firozabad Lok Sabha seat and 11 Assembly seats in the by-polls held in the state two weeks ago.

At a function at the party headquarters on Sunday, Mulayam said: "There is not a single government or party except the Samajwadi Party which respects the Muslims and works for their development. We will once again start fighting for them." Later, he walked through a huge gathering of Muslim leaders offering and receiving By Piyush Srivastava in Lucknow sweets personally.

Mulayam also reiterated a promise made last week that the SP would initiate a movement for the reconstruction of the demolished Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.

Although the SP failed to woo any prominent leader of the community, clerics Mohammad Iqbal Ahmad Qadri, Zafar Masood Kichhauchhvi and Mohammad Hafiz Usman were present at the birthday celebration.

"It is alright if he honestly restarts working for the community and instils confidence in them. We were disillusioned to see Kalyan Singh with him. But now, he has realised his mistake and even apologised to us for whatever happened," said Kachhauchhvi.

Full report at:


Egypt's president warns Israel Jerusalem an issue for all Muslims

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's president says Israeli construction in east Jerusalem could end up angering not just the Palestinians, but the entire Muslim world.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met with his Israeli counterpart today. He told President Shimon Peres that the time has passed for temporary solutions and borders, urging that a final peace agreement be concluded swiftly.

The tough words follow Israel's announcement last week that it plans to build 900 new apartments in a Jewish neighborhood of east Jerusalem.

The Palestinians have refused to restart peace talks if there isn't a total halt in Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Peres told reporters that the new settlement activity would end "the minute" negotiations start and unauthorized settlements would be dismantled.

Israel captured the territory in the 1967 war. The Palestinians now claim the areas for a future independent state.


Modernity, Christianity and Islam

by Will

I linked to this earlier, but amateur history buffs will find Cato Unbound’s discussion on the origins of modernity pretty fascinating. The central point of contention is the so-called “first cause” of modernity – did the West develop because of spontaneous social change, secularism, the rise of “engineering culture,” or competition between European states? I’m inclined to agree with Stephen Davies insofar as competition among states probably laid the groundwork for the subsequent cultural, political and social changes we associate with modernity, but all four contributors raise some interesting objections.

One point of agreement among the contributors is the radical discontinuity between pre-modern Western civilization (read: Christendom) and modern culture. All four authors seem to agree that the connection between Christendom’s essential features and Western modernity is pretty tenuous, which raises a few interesting questions about other religions’ encounters with modernity.

Some of the best evidence for the modern departure from Christendom are what early European liberals had to say about religion. I’m immediately reminded of Leon Gambetta’s famous utterance, ,”Le cléricalisme, voilà l’ennemi!” His views on Christianity were shared by any number of his classically liberal contemporaries. From Galileo to Darwin to the Scopes Monkey Trial, innumerable scientists of the early modern era also held skeptical views about the compatibility of science, reason and faith.

Christianity and modernity survived this encounter. The pope now speaks of the fundamental relationship between God and reason. The recent Manhattan Declaration emphasizes the connection between liberal accomplishments like ending slavery and challenging the divine right of kings and Christianity. The theological and historical truth of these claims are almost irrelevant – the larger point is that Christians have self-consciously accepted the legitimacy (and, indeed, desirability) of liberalism and modernity.

Full report at:


Muslim students chosen for meeting with Cong leader

Shoeb Khan

23 November 2009

JAIPUR: A week before Eid-ul-Zuha, the Muslim families are in a festive mood in a small town on the plains of Shekhawati region in Sikar. The reason: More than 200 Muslim girls in the age bracket of 18-25 were chosen to meet Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi in an interactive session with Muslim youths at Ravindra Manch, Jaipur, on November 25.

These girls are students of Excellence Girls School (Sikar) run by Wahid Chauhan who is imparting free education to over 3,000 Muslim girls. “Students are excited and happy to participate in the event. They are reading articles on Rahul which were published in various newspapers, magazines and books to prepare a list of questions,” said Chauhan.

Most of the students remember Rahul’s nightout in a dingy house of a Dalit in Uttar Pradesh, sharing food with villagers in Andhra Pradesh and travelling in Shatabdi express in economy class to Jalandhar. “I have heard that he studied abroad but has a remarkable understanding on social issues. I am looking forward to hear his speech,” said Sultana Begum, a student of Excellency College.

Most of the girls come from a very orthodox family background, where education to a girl child is considered a taboo. Sadia Chauhan will be leading the group. She said, “I will draw his attention towards the depleting rights of Muslim women in the region.”She said, “I will ask him to improve the condition of Madarsas in the Shekhawati region. It is necessary for the authorities to strengthen Madarsa in order to promote education among Muslim girls.”

Rahul will be interacting with Muslim youths from across the state on various burning issues. Pawan Godhara, state president, Youth Congress, said, “The party is expecting a gathering of more than 1, 500 youths from across the state. I have directed the Youth Congress members to identify Muslim youths on the basis of their social, economical and political background.


From Xi'an to Mecca: A road to Hajj

November 23, 2009

In a series of programmes, Al Jazeera follows Muslim pilgrims from around the world as they prepare to undertake the Hajj pilgrimage.

The ancient Chinese city of Xi'an is home to the famous terracotta army and was at the very centre of Chinese civilisation during the Tang dynasty from 618 to 907.

It is also home to about 60,000 ethnic Chinese Muslims and boasts 1,300 years of Islamic history.

Proud of their Islamic heritage and their country's traditions, the Muslims of Xi'an have merged their own ancient Chinese culture with Islam, remaining faithful to the central tenets of their religion.

'Lifetime's responsibility'

Forty-six-year-old Ma Yi Ping is well-known within Xi'an's Muslim community.

One of the ten imams at the city's Great Mosque, he also owns a small shop selling Islamic calligraphy in the city's Muslim quarter and acts as a religious teacher for those about to embark on the Hajj pilgrimage.

"I was born into a devout Muslim family and I'm the only child. I started studying Quran since I was young. I was told that I should devote myself to Islam as well as [to] the Muslim people and contribute to the peace of our society, to our country," Ma says.

"When I was a kid my father sent me to an imam's place to learn the Quran. At that time it was forbidden for children to study in the mosque because of the political pressure brought by the 'Gang of Four'. All religions were affected badly."

China's Communist party closed all of the country's mosques in 1959 and during the 1966 Cultural Revolution, more than 29,000 mosques were destroyed.

Ma was 16 years old when the mosques re-opened and he became an imam.

"As an imam, it's my lifetime responsibility to promote Islam," he says.

Ma first went on Hajj in 1994 and has been again several times since.

Full report at:


SAUDI ARABIA: Security forces issue stern warnings ahead of hajj pilgrimage

November 23, 2009

By Meris Lutz

Handling an influx of 2.5 million pilgrims is a challenge during a good year, but at a time of increased tensions with Iran and rampant fears of swine flu, Saudi authorities are on high alert for any threat that could disrupt hajj, the annual holy Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

On Sunday, security forces sent a clear message to would-be saboteurs by staging a huge military demonstration involving thousands of troops, armored vehicles, helicopters, and first response teams. The Saudi government has announced it will deploy more than 100,000 security and emergency personnel for hajj, which will last from Wednesday to Sunday.

Sunday's show of force comes after months of deteriorating relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran over the Houthi rebellion in northern Yemen, with both sides accusing the other of military intervention. Last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad warned against Saudi restrictions on Iranian pilgrims, eliciting a sharp rebuke from Riyadh with the top Saudi cleric warning against the politicizing of hajj.

"We hope we will not be obliged to resort to force," Saudi interior minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz told reporters after the demonstration Sunday, referring to calls by some Iranian figures for their pilgrims to use hajj as an opportunity to protest against the United States and Israel, Agence France Press reported.

Such protests, if they take place, would be a slap in the face to Saudi Arabia, which is often criticized for claiming to support Palestine while maintaining a strong alliance with the U.S., Israel's staunchest ally.

Full report at:


Major Hasan and Holy War

November 23, 2009

By Reuel Marc Gerecht

A domestic Islamic threat is real, and the FBI is unprepared to fight it.

For those of us who have tracked Islamic militancy in Europe, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's actions are not extraordinary. Since Muslim militants first tried to blow a French high-speed train off its rails in 1995, European intelligence and internal-security services have increasingly monitored European Muslim radicals. Whether it's anti-Muslim bigotry, the large numbers of immigrant and native-born Muslims in Europe, an appreciation of how hard it is to become European, or just an understanding of how dangerous Islamic radicalism is, most Europeans are far less circumspect and politically correct when discussing their Muslim compatriots than are Americans.

A concern for not giving offense to Muslims would never prevent the French internal-security service, the Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire (DST), which deploys a large number of Muslim officers, from aggressively trying to pre-empt terrorism. As Maj. Hasan's case shows, this is not true in the United States. The American military and especially the Federal Bureau of Investigation were in great part inattentive because they were too sensitive.

Moreover, President Barack Obama's determined effort not to mention Islam in terrorist discussions—which means that we must not suggest that Maj. Hasan's murderous actions flowed from his faith—will weaken American counterterrorism. Worse, the president's position is an enormous wasted opportunity to advance an all-critical Muslim debate about the nature and legitimacy of jihad.

European counterterrorist officers know well that jihadists can appear, self-generated or tutored by extremist groups, inside Muslim families where parents and siblings lead peaceful lives. Security officials live in fear of the quiet believer who quickly radicalizes, or the secular down-and-out European who enthusiastically converts to a militant creed. Both cases allow little time and often few leads to neutralize a possible lethal explosion of the faith.

Full report at:


Muslim groups to salute silent heroes of 26/11

23 November 2009

New Delhi: The Urdu Markaz and Qaumi Majlise Shura will organize a program on the first anniversary of 26/11 in Mumbai to salute the silent heroes who stood to confront the Mumbai terror attacks.

Urdu Markaz and QMS will hold the program on November 25 to “salute the Silent Heroes, The Staff of CAMA Hospital and Victims of the 26/11 attack.

The program will be held at Urdu Markaz, Imambada, near Saboo Siddik Hospital on Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai.


Malaysia state govt to help obese woman

Nov 23, 2009

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia's Penang state government will send a dietician and counsellor to visit obese Nurhaniza Ahmad, weighing 170 kg, to offer her help.

Penang State Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the dietician would help Nurhaniza follow a healthy diet plan.

"The dietician can guide her to lose weight in a safe and healthy manner without having to take medication or undergo surgery.

"If she is unable to go to hospital, we will try to bring the dietician and counsellor to her," he was quoted by The Star newspaper on Monday as saying.

Nurhaniza, who has been housebound for the past two years because of her weight, said last week that she was dependent on Nurbayti Mihammed Dali, 11, her only daughter, to bathe and cook for the family.

She has to drag herself around the house because her knees fail her when she tries to stand up.

Nurhaniza was divorced seven years ago and two years later, she married Abu Bakar Hashim, 50, who had lost a leg in a motorcycle accident when he was 16.

The report comes after efforts by the Terrengganu state government offering tips to couples to spice up their sex lives to stem the rising divorce rate.

Earlier this month, Terengganu state, backed by its Muslim clergy, took upon itself the task of spicing up sex lives of couples by advising bathing together, avoid body odour and replace "boring pajamas" with sexy lingerie for women.

Full report at:


A Burka Barbie for Oppressed Muslim Girls Everywhere

November 22, 2009

by Mark Whittington

Is the Burka Barbie bad for young girls and their self image? Apparently the famous auction house Southerby's in London does not think so. It has sponsored an auction of a number of Barbies dressed in Burkas for auction.

A Burka is a head to toe costume worn by some traditionally devout Muslim women designed to conceal every part of their bodies, expect for the eyes. In the months after 9/11, during the liberation of Afghanistan from the Taliban, the Burka was seen by many in the West as a symbol of Muslim oppression of women. Women in Afghanistan were forced to wear Burkas, which tended to make navigation unreliable. A number of women in Afghanistan before the liberation were killed in automobile accidents as the Burkas they were forced to wear restricted their vision.

Even many Muslims believe that the Burka is taking Islam's admonishment to women to dress modestly to extremes. The hajab head scarf, along with modest clothing, is seen by most Muslim women as sufficient. The Burka Barbie seems to be a misguided attempt by Westerners to be "culturally sensitive" by catering to the most extreme forms of the Muslim faith.

Of course there is the suggestion, apparently made by westerners, that the Burka Barbie would make Barbies accessible to girls living in strict Muslim countries. The Burka Barbie certainly addresses the other criticism that Barbie has gotten over the years; that the large breasts and the willow waist of the Barbies played heck on little girls' self image. With the Burka covering, the impossibly slender, large busted Barbie will no longer be a problem.

Of course one can play with the meme a little bit. For the Burka Barbie to work, Ken is going to need a makeover. Ken will have to become Khalid and have a traditional beard and turban and take to ordering Barbie around, forcing her to remain in bondage. Ken/Khalid would even sport an AK 47 typical of a member of the Taliban.

And just to complete the meme, GI Joe can show up, shoot Ken/Khalid, liberate Barbie, and allow her to get an education and go to work. That would be an unintended version of playing dolls that Burka Barbie might cause.


‘Thaharah' Workshop For Muslim Women

Monday, 23 November 2009

Bandar Seri Begawan - A Workshop on thaharah (cleanliness) was conducted for Muslim women of Kg Sg Besar in efforts to enhance their knowledge and better appreciate the teachings of Islam on the issue.

The workshop is a collaboration between Year Two students reading the Bachelor of Religious Teaching, in Syariah or Usuluddin at the Seri Begawan Religious Teachers University College (KUPU SB) and Kg Sg Besar Mosque Committee.

Hjh Rohani Kamis, secretary for the workshop said the event was one of KUPU SBin community work.

The workshop was the second of its kind to be organised. The first was held at Jame' Mr Hassanil Bolkiah, she said.

The course also provided participants the opportunity to refine their knowledge on the procedure in performing ablution (wudhu), tayammum (a substitute for wudhu in the absence or impossibility of using water) and others.

The workshop featured Hjh Siti Huzainayati Hj Abd Kadir, Haslinah Hj All Akbar, Hjh Masnah Kamis and Hjh Kamaliah Hj Kasim teaching staff from KUPU SB as panel members.

Present as guest of honour was Datin Hjh Maimoonah Hj Omar, wife of Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs who said through the workshop, participants would be able to discuss and learn in detail (issues related to thaharah).

"Even though thaharah have been mentioned in countless number of books, and preached at religious classes, it still needs to be expanded in an accurate and effective way to make it more interesting," she said.

Datin Hjh Maimoonah hoped that more of such workshop, which was catered especially for women, would be held in the future.

She urged the participants to use the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge and benefit from the explanations given.-- Courtesy of The Brunei Times


US and Afghan soldiers killed in Afghanistan

23 November 2009

Seven soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan in the past 24 hours - four of them American and three Afghan.

Nato said three of the US soldiers died in southern Afghanistan on Sunday and the other in a bomb explosion on Monday in the east of the country.

This has been the deadliest year for foreign troops since the 2001 invasion.

President Barack Obama is set to hold his ninth and "possibly" final meeting with his war advisers later on Monday as he decides on US troop levels.

He is weighing a request from his top commander in Afghanistan, Gen Stanley McChrystal, for 40,000 more US troops to support the war effort.

Among the officials attending the evening meeting are Vice-President Joe Biden, Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the White House said.

A US official said it would "possibly" be the last consultation before a new Afghan strategy was announced, though he cautioned that it was not something he could say "definitively".


In a statement released on Monday, Nato's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said that of those who died in southern Afghanistan, two US soldiers had been killed by a bomb attack and the other in a separate firefight with insurgents.

Three Afghan soldiers were also killed in a separate incident on Sunday by a roadside bomb in Helmand province, Afghanistan's Ministry of Interior said.

It said two other Afghan National Army soldiers had been wounded in the Musa Qala district by the same roadside bomb that had killed their three colleagues.

It added that six soldiers in Kunar province and one in Kandahar had been injured in incidents in the past 24 hours.

Full report at:


Philippines political violence leaves 21 dead

23 November 2009

Twenty-one politicians and journalists who were abducted in the southern Philippines have been found dead.

The group was seized on the island of Mindanao by armed men as they tried to file nomination papers for a candidate in local elections next year.

More members of the group are missing, feared dead.

Elections in the Philippines are often marred by violence, particularly in the south, where clashes connected to local rivalries and insurgencies erupt.

The country is to hold nationwide elections in May 2010. Registration for local and national races began earlier this month.

Jesus Dureza, adviser to President Gloria Arroyo in the volatile Mindanao region, said it was "a gruesome massacre of civilians unequalled in recent history".

He recommended that a state of emergency be imposed in the area.

In a statement, Mrs Arroyo condemned the violence and said no effort would be spared to find those responsible.

"Civilised society has no place for this kind of violence," she said.

Clan leader

According to local reports, the group was abducted early on Monday while on its way to an election office in Maguindanao province to file nomination papers for a local mayor, Ismael Mangudadatu.

Full report at:


Brazil Defends Visit of Iranian Leader


November 23, 2009

BRASÍLIA — As leaders from Brazil and Iran prepared to meet here on Monday, the Brazilian president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, defended his decision to play host to the Iranian president at a moment of rising tension over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

In his national radio show, Mr. da Silva said that “you don’t move forward by leaving Iran isolated.”

“If Iran is an important actor in this discord, then it is important that someone sits with Iran, talks with Iran and tries to establish a balancing point, so that society returns to a certain normality in the Middle East,” he said.

The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is making his first state visit to Brazil on Monday, arriving as Iran, the United States and other powers are engaged in fraught negotiations over an agreement to ship Iran’s nuclear fuel abroad.

The meeting between the two men signals Brazil’s ambitions to become a bigger player in global diplomacy, but it has sparked protests from some members of the United States Congress and former Brazilian diplomats, who have said the occasion would legitimize Mr. Ahmadinejad’s government.

Mr. da Silva, who received Israeli and Palestinian leaders this month, also said on Monday that he would visit the Middle East next March. He said he had already confirmed the visit with the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.

In his radio program, Mr. da Silva also said he wanted to organize a soccer “match for peace” pitting a team of Israeli and Palestinian players against the Brazilian national team. He said he had dreamed of hosting the soccer match for three years, and would hold it in a “neutral” stadium.

Full report at:


In 3 Tacks for Afghan War, a Game of Trade-Offs


November 22, 2009

WASHINGTON — Should President Obama decide to send 40,000 additional American troops to Afghanistan, the most ambitious plan under consideration at the White House, the military would have enormous flexibility to deploy as many as 15,000 troops to the Taliban center of gravity in the south, 5,000 to the critical eastern border with Pakistan and 10,000 as trainers for the Afghan security forces.

The rest could be deployed flexibly across the country, including to the NATO headquarters in Kabul, the capital, and in clandestine operations.

If Mr. Obama limited any additional American troops to 10,000 to 15,000, the military would deploy them largely as trainers, with some reinforcements likely in the southern province of Kandahar, the Taliban’s spiritual home. The neighboring, and opium-rich, Helmand Province and the eastern border with Pakistan, military analysts say, would receive few if any American troops and would remain largely as they are today.

Such trade-offs are part of the discussions under way in the West Wing and at the Pentagon as Mr. Obama and his top advisers debate escalating the eight-year-old war. And they drive home the basic point that while the numbers will dominate the headlines, what is really at stake is how to fight the war.

Here is a primer, culled from the diverse views of administration officials and military analysts, on the military utility of some of the force options before the president to bolster the 68,000 American troops already in Afghanistan.

40,000 troops

Full report at:


Amended Iraq Election Law Still Angers Sunnis

November 23, 2009

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq's parliament on Monday amended the country's vetoed election law with a new version that doesn't address the concerns of the country's aggrieved Sunnis, prompting predictions of further vetoes and delayed elections.

The dispute highlights the ethnic and sectarian divisions in Iraq, which, while more secure than in past years of war, has yet to attain the political reconciliation vital to long-term stability.

Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni, vetoed the law because he wanted more seats for Iraqis living abroad, most of whom are Sunnis. The minority, dominant under Saddam Hussein, has seen its privileged status evaporate since the ouster of the dictator and the election of a government led by the Shiite majority.

After days of intense negotiations by political blocs, lawmakers voted to change the basis of distributing seats to an earlier census, most likely giving more seats to the powerful Kurdish bloc rather than the Sunnis.

The number of seats in parliament will be expanded from 275 to around 320 under the amended law to reflect population growth.

The pre-vote dealmaking appeared to focus mostly on Shiite-led efforts to address complaints about the electoral system from the Kurds, prompting dozens of Sunni lawmakers to walk out.

''What has happened today represents a setback to the policy of political accordance that the parliament has adopted,'' said Salim Abdullah, spokesman for the Accordance Front, the biggest Sunni bloc in the parliament.

Al-Hashemi is likely to veto the amended law now that it returns to the three-member presidential council, but parliament can override a second veto with a three-fifths majority.

Full report at:


Indonesian ferry captain rejects overcrowding claims

November 23, 2009

TANJUNG BALAI, Indonesia — The captain of an Indonesian ferry which sank killing 29 people rejected claims of overcrowding Monday and blamed a freak storm for the disaster, as officials launched an investigation.

The search for survivors from the Dumai Express resumed for a second day off Karimun island, near Singapore, with dozens of people feared lost at sea or trapped in the wreck at the bottom of the Malacca Strait.

With the official toll standing at 29 dead and 245 rescued, officials arrived at Karimun to try to piece together what caused the latest in a litany of ferry disasters in Indonesia, an archipelago of 17,000 islands.

The 147-tonne vessel's capacity was 273 passengers and crew, but local police said more than 400 people could have been on board. Two survivors told AFP its decks were packed with undocumented passengers.

Captain Johan Napitupulu rejected the allegations and said he had no warning he was sailing into a massive tropical storm when he left Batam island on Sunday morning. Indonesia's catalogue of ferry disasters

"The weather was fine when we left Batam port. There was no sign of rain and we also didn't get any warning from anybody saying the weather could turn bad at sea," he told AFP.

"About half an hour later the weather suddenly turned really, really bad. The waves were higher than two metres (six feet), the winds and currents were strong."

The captain said the crew had done all it could to arrange lifeboats and life-jackets for the terrified passengers.

"The ferry was sinking fast, front first. Within 27 minutes it was totally submerged... There was panic, everyone was screaming," Napitupulu said.

Survivor Amir Azli, a 56-year-old high-school teacher, estimated more than 350 people were on board, many with heavy suitcases as they set off to spend time with their families ahead of a Muslim holiday on Friday.

"I saw at least 50 people without tickets sitting on the top deck of the ferry... It wasn't just the bad weather," he said as he recovered in Tanjung Balai on Karimun.

"The ferry was overloaded so of course I'm angry that the ferry operator broke the safety rules and people had to die because of that."

Another survivor, 25-year-old factory worker Zulfitri added: "The ferry was overcrowded with people and things. On the first floor there were people standing because they had no seats".

"They didn't tell us there was a problem but only asked us to stay calm. We only realised we were in trouble when we saw the ferry sinking and that's when we demanded life-jackets," she said.

The health ministry's crisis centre said 291 people were on board but navy officers said its manifest listed 242 passengers and crew, including 15 children.

"There's an indication of over-capacity," Karimun-based Navy Lieutenant-Colonel Edwin said, based on the gap between those listed on the manifest and the number of people killed and rescued.

Between 17 and 27 people were still listed as missing, according to different figures from the health ministry and the navy respectively.

Edwin said the search and rescue effort would continue for a week.

"The chances of finding survivors are still high because they were wearing life-jackets," he added.

Heavy seas were preventing navy divers from reaching the wreck to determine if anyone was trapped inside.

Ferry disasters are common in Indonesia despite repeated official promises to tighten and enforce safety regulations.

Up to 335 people were killed when an overloaded ferry sank off Sulawesi island in January. In December 2006 a ferry went down off the coast of Java, killing more than 500 people.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.


Home of US teachers hit by gunshots in Indonesia’s Aceh province, motive remains unclear

November 23rd, 2009

Gunfire at home of US teachers in Indonesia’s Aceh

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — Gunfire hit the home of two American lecturers in Indonesia’s western province of Aceh on Monday, but no one was injured.

It is the third time this month foreigners have been targeted in Aceh, a poor province on Indonesia’s westernmost tip, where a massive reconstruction effort has been under way since the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Gunmen shot at the house of two English teachers before dawn Monday, said Col. Bambang Soetjahjo, a local police official. He said the motive was still unclear, and no arrests were made.

One of the teachers, Michelle Ahmed, told police she and her colleague had just woken up when they heard six shots outside their house. Both women are teaching English at a local university.

Neighbors told reporters they heard shots and a speeding motorcycle but did not see anyone.

A German Red Cross worker was seriously wounded when men on a motorcycle shot at him on Nov. 5. Eleven days later, bullets hit a guesthouse where an EU official was staying, but no one was injured. Police have formed a team to investigate the shootings, Soetjahjo said.

Mysterious shootings before elections in April killed about a dozen people in Aceh, where an insurgency raged until 2005.

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