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Islamic World News ( 23 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Bangladesh's 4 million Muslim pilgrimage calls for peace, stability

'Sexy dancing' ban in Indonesia fuels fears of Islamic laws

'Bin Laden tape' says al-Qaeda behind Christmas plot

TIMELINE - Recent bin Laden messages

Baghdad crackdown corks drinkers' spirits

Saudi schoolgirl sentenced to 90 lashes for assaulting headmistress

Indonesia: two Protestant churches burnt

Jakarta's English Speakers Open Up About Islam

Muslim students in the West under scrutiny

US Muslims Praise Obama Despite Setbacks

Arabs Not Giving Enough to Haiti’

UK Muslim police blast anti-terror strategy

Once bitten, US still seeks Pak-American spies

Pakistan reaching out to Afghan Taliban, says FO

Al Qaeda's Deep Tribal Ties Make Yemen a Terror Hub

Saudis conduct 18 airstrikes on northern Yemen

Islam should be debated; says writer of 'Infidel'

Fighting for women's rights in Iraq

Hyderabad not a terror hub, says new police chief

Iraqi Interior ministry still backing 'bomb detector'

CIA deaths prompt surge in US drone strikes

Connect these dots: The terrorists are Muslims

Ex-Pak air force chief's image in Indian govt advertisement

Pak, Afghan, ISAF commanders discuss war against terror

Afghanistan postpones parliamentary elections

Afghanistan parliamentary election postponed

Iran to Establish First Gulf Trade Centre

Israel warns of new war with Hezbollah

Egypt defends smuggling barrier with Gaza

Orakzai, Kurram posts ambushed: 22 militants, two troops killed in gunbattles

Islamabad: police get two scanners to detect explosives

Islam activists outraged over biblical engravings

Shariah arrests 'depend on policeman's mood'

Christian-Muslim violence in Nigeria warrants probe, rights group says

It wasn't us: Somali militants disavow Kenya threat

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL of this page: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/bangladesh-s-4-million--muslim-pilgrimage-calls-for-peace,-stability/d/2413

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Bangladesh's 4 million Muslim pilgrimage calls for peace, stability

By JULHAS ALAM

January 24, 2010

Some 4 million Muslims took part in a mass prayer in Bangladesh on Sunday, the final day of an annual three-day event that is among the world's largest religious gatherings.

Tens of thousands walked overnight to reach the site of the World Congregation of Muslims, or Biswa Ijtema, with authorities closing access to the grounds to traffic until the final prayer was concluded Sunday afternoon. The gathering, held each year since 1966, aims to revive the tenets of Islam and promote peace through prayer.

Biswa Ijtema, which shuns politics, has no history of violence, but security was tight, with watchtowers and security cameras installed around the 190-acre (77-hectare) grounds in the industrial town of Tongi.

With nearly 20,000 security personnel keeping guard, President Zillur Rahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and opposition leader Khaleda Zia attended the final prayer on the sandy banks of the River Turag, just north of the capital, Dhaka.

Many devotees were overwhelmed by the gathering.

"It's a sea of people," Mohammad Ramzan, a college student, told The Associated Press by phone from the scene. "This is huge. This is difficult to explain."

A police official, Mizanur Rahman, estimated the final day's crowd at 4 million. About 87 percent of Bangladesh's 150 million people are Muslim.

In addition to Bangladeshis, the gathering also attracted several thousands of foreigners from countries including the United States, Canada, India, Indonesia and Britain.

During the three days, participants discussed the Quran and listened to sermons by Islamic scholars from around the world.

Women are not allowed at the main venue, so instead gathered at nearby villages and stood on rooftops during the concluding prayer.

http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=1163581&lang=eng_news

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'Sexy dancing' ban in Indonesia fuels fears of Islamic laws

24 January 2010

By Norimitsu Onishi in Bandung

THE arrest of four women for "sexy dancing" during a Hogmanay party in Bandung has raised worries this may be the prelude to wider Islamist restrictions in Indonesia.

The women, as well as a manager and event organiser, could become the first people charged under a one-year-old anti-pornography law banning public displays of naked flesh.

However, performers, some politicians and academics fear the zealotry behi

nd the law could also proscribe traditional dancers and wedding parties.

The law was brought in with the backing of the small but influential Islamist political parties in the country.

Critics said the parties' real intention was to use the law to spread fundamentalist Islam to control artistic and cultural expression in a multicultural society. The law, they warned, threatens pre-Islamic cultures, which have long co-existed with moderate Islam.

Hafizh Utsman, 70, leader of the West Java branch of the Indonesian Ulama Council, the leading clerical organisation,

is pleased with Islam's growing influence in Bandung, and would like to see a more widespread crackdown.

"We are trying to eliminate the non-Islamic parts of West Java's traditional culture, to make it more Islamic," Utsman boasted. For example, he said that participants at weddings are urged to celebrate by reciting Koranic verses, not by dancing, as is the custom.

To that end, the governor of West Java, where Bandung is located, cited the anti-pornography law to criticise a local dance called jaipong as being too sensual.

The dance, which is rooted in West Java's Sundanese culture, features graceful movements of the arms and hands as well as swinging of the hips.

However, fearing that the Sundanese culture was under attack, Nanu Munajah Dahlan, 49, a dancer, has formed a jaipong support group in Bandung's outskirts.

In recent years, he said, Sundanese culture has lost ground to the Muslim fundamentalists.

For example, at official events, the kecapi, a Sundanese stringed instrument, was played less often than the rebana, a drum used in Islamic music.

At official events featuring jaipong dancers, government officials pressed organisers to tone down the dancers' alleged sensuality.

But Nanu refused and, in a recent after-school dance lesson, he was pursuing his protest as elementary and secondary school girls accompanied by their mothers came to practise the jaipong.

The girls danced to songs about the flower of a yam or a tiger awaking from a deep sleep. The jaipong dancer, Nanu said, represented the goddess of rice. Her movements symbolised her fertility

"I'm Muslim, but I also want to keep our traditional culture," Nanu said.

He feared, though, that the arrest for "sexy dancing" under the anti-pornography law may only be the beginning.

"I'm worried that we could be next," he said.

Though a couple of weeks have passed since the arrests, it was still not clear what happened at Belair, which showcased bikini-clad women dancing on a bar counter.

Arman Achdiat, the Bandung police chief of detectives, said the authorities had received complaints, via text messages, that the dancers had gone beyond bikini dancing and offered customers flashes of full nudity. "This happened at private table dances," said Achdiat, declining to say whether investigators caught the dancers in the act.

Holding a 441-page copy of the anti-pornography law, Achdiat, 38, said more questioning of the dancers was needed to determine whether to charge them under the criminal law or the more severe anti-pornography law, which entails punishment of up to 10 years in prison for the dancers and 15 years for the manager and organiser.

Clubs such as Belair came to Bandung more than a decade ago, and about 10 now offer what is known here as "sexy dancing," often featuring some nudity, said Budi Rajab, 49, a sociologist and expert on Bandung at the local Padjadjaran University. Though new, the clubs recalled at least part of this city's history.

"There's always been some debate over why Bandung was called the Paris of Java," Rajab said. "Was it the cool weather? Or was it because the women here were considered more beautiful? When I examined colonial-era documents, it was clear that it was the beautiful women."

But just as the power of religious and political conservatives has grown nationwide in the past decade, there has been a movement here to take the Paris out of Bandung.

Dada Rosada, the two-term mayor, has tried to close the city's old red-light district, Saritem.

"It existed for 200 years and I shut it down," Rosada said, adding that he wanted to keep gambling and sexy dancing out of the city.

"If people want gambling, they can go to Singapore or Malaysia. If they want sex, they can go to Thailand," Rosada added.

The mayor's crackdown seems to be working and Saritem's business has yet to recover fully.

On a recent evening there were few customers in the district's warren of narrow streets, where family-owned brothels employed young women from rural Java.

"A lot of people think Saritem is still closed, or they're afraid to come," said Rully, 38, who uses only one name, as is common here.

Rully, whose family has worked in Saritem for four generations, waited for customers outside his home, chatting with a woman selling deep-fried vegetables out of her stall.

If the current political zeal continues, their wait could be a long one.

© The New York Times

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'Bin Laden tape' says al-Qaeda behind Christmas plot

24 January 2010

A tape said to be from Osama Bin Laden says al-Qaeda was responsible for a Christmas plot to blow up a plane.

In the newly released audio tape aired on al-Jazeera, the speaker also warns the US there will be more attacks if it continues to support Israel.

"If it was possible to carry our messages to you by words we wouldn't have carried them to you by planes," the voice said to be Bin Laden's says.

The authenticity of the tape has not been verified.

A tape said to be from Osama Bin Laden says al-Qaeda was responsible for a Christmas plot to blow up a plane.

In the newly released audio tape aired on al-Jazeera, the speaker also warns the US there will be more attacks if it continues to support Israel.

"If it was possible to carry our messages to you by words we wouldn't have carried them to you by planes," the voice said to be Bin Laden's says.

The authenticity of the tape has not been verified.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8477413.stm

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TIMELINE - Recent bin Laden messages

January 24, 2010

 REUTERS - A purported audio tape of Osama bin Laden aired on Al Jazeera television claimed responsibility for an attempted Christmas Day plane bombing and the al Qaeda leader vowed to continue attacks on the United States.

More than 60 messages have been broadcast by bin Laden, al Qaeda's number two Ayman al-Zawahri, and their allies since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

Following is a timeline of major statements attributed to bin Laden in the past since 2007.

Sept. 7, 2007 - Bin Laden appears in his first videotape for nearly three years, to mark the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. In a message to the American people, bin Laden says the U.S. is vulnerable despite its economic and military power.

Nov. 29, 2007 - Bin Laden urges European countries in an audiotape to end their alliance with U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

March 19, 2008 - In an audio recording, Bin Laden threatens the European Union with grave punishment over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

March 20, 2008 - Bin Laden urges Muslims to keep up the struggle against U.S. forces in Iraq as a path to "liberating Palestine".

May 16, 2008 - Bin Laden, in an audiotape addressed to "Western peoples", calls for the fight against Israel to continue and says the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at the heart of the Muslim battle with the West.

May 18, 2008 - Bin Laden urges Muslims to break the Israeli-led blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and fight Arab governments that deal with the Jewish state, in an audiotape posted on the Internet. 

Bin Laden, in an audiotape, calls for a new jihad over Gaza and says the global financial crisis has exposed waning U.S. influence in world affairs.

March 14, 2009 - Bin Laden accuses moderate Arab leaders of plotting with the West against Muslims, in an audio recording aired by Al Jazeera television.

June 3, 2009 - Bin Laden says in an audio message that Obama has planted the seeds of "revenge and hatred towards America" in the Muslim world and warned Americans to prepare for the consequences.

Sept. 14, 2009 - Bin Laden warns the American people over their government's close ties to Israel, saying it was time for Americans to free themselves from the grip of neo-conservatives and the Israeli lobby. "The reason for our dispute with you is your support for your ally Israel, occupying our land in Palestine," the tape added.

Sept. 25, 2009 - Bin Laden demands that European nations withdraw their troops from Afghanistan in audio tape, saying they were sacrificing men and money in an unjust U.S.-led war. The tape, released on the Internet with a background picture of bin Laden, had German and English subtitles. It was released days before Germany held a federal election.

Nov. 6, 2009 - A videotape of bin Laden released is the Pashto-language version of a tape released several months ago, says IntelCenter, a U.S.-based terrorism monitoring firm.

Titled "To Our People in Pakistan," the tape was broadly released in Arabic and Urdu on July 12, IntelCenter said. Excerpts had been aired by Al Jazeera on June 3, it added.

Jan. 24, 2010 - A purported audio tape of bin Laden is aired on Al Jazeera and claims responsibility for a Dec. 25 attempted bombing of a U.S.-bound plane. "The message sent to you with the attempt by the hero Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is a confirmation of our previous message conveyed by the heroes of Sept. 11," bin Laden says on the tape.

(Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit;)

http://in.reuters.com/article/southAsiaNews/idINIndia-45639820100124

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Baghdad crackdown corks drinkers' spirits

By Liz Sly

January 24, 2010

The Iraqi capital is almost dry. Raids have closed bars, liquor stores and restaurants. Some observers suspect politics are at play; others see religious motivation.

Reporting from Baghdad - It started in the Green Zone, with Iraqi soldiers ordering restaurants to stop serving alcohol and confiscating bottles from politicians at checkpoints.

Then, mysterious signs began appearing across the rest of Baghdad declaring alcohol sinful and warning of damnation for those who drink.

Finally, the crackdown came. Phalanxes of soldiers and police officers descended on the nightclubs, cabarets and bars that had proliferated across the capital in the last two years and symbolized for many a return to normality.

Now Baghdad is almost dry, for the second time since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. But this time the government is enforcing the prohibition, not militias or insurgents.

"Our new constitution guarantees all freedoms for all Iraqi people," said Ahmed Jassim Hamza, whose Deluxe nightclub on the Tigris River was among those raided by soldiers and ordered to close. "But the political powers in control are Islamic, and they can't handle social freedoms such as alcohol because their minds are narrowed by religion."

The crackdown was headed by the Baghdad provincial council, which is controlled by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's Islamic Dawa Party. But many suspect Maliki himself played a role in the decision to restrict alcohol, to burnish his credentials among Islamist voters before elections in March.

Hamza and several restaurant and liquor store owners said police told them they were acting "on the orders of the prime minister's office."

"It is Maliki who is doing this," said Mithal Alusi, an independent Sunni Arab lawmaker with an acknowledged fondness for good wine. He questions the Shiite Muslim leader's much-touted reinvention as a secularist at the head of his new State of Law coalition, even while continuing to lead an Islamist party.

"We are not that far away from having a Taliban state in this country," he said. "We are really driving in two different directions: One is toward a beautiful democracy and the other is toward the Taliban parties who are trying to turn us into an Islamic state."

Baghdad officials with Maliki's party say they are acting only to impose order on a situation that had spun out of control in enforcing a liquor law that has been on the books since 1994. Introduced after Saddam Hussein embarked on a campaign of religiosity, it restricts sales of alcohol to licensed stores and a few private clubs and hotels.

On the eve of the regime's fall, 55 businesses had licenses to sell alcohol, Baghdad provincial council chief Kamal Zaidi said. Islamist militias and insurgents soon closed them, blowing up liquor stores and intimidating merchants.

Full report at: www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-fg-iraq-booze24-2010jan24,0,7685051.story

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Saudi schoolgirl sentenced to 90 lashes for assaulting headmistress

By Mohammed Jamjoom,

January 23, 2010

 A schoolgirl in Saudi Arabia was sentenced to 90 lashes and two months in prison for assaulting her headmistress after a confrontation over a cell phone, sparking an outcry from a government-sponsored rights group.

Saudi Arabia's National Society for Human Rights said it is surprised by the verdict and called for the punishment be reconsidered, according to statement by the group.

The verdict was handed down by a court in the eastern province city of Jubail as a punishment for the 13-year-old who allegedly assaulted her headmistress.

Saudi daily newspaper, Al-Watan, which first reported the sentence, said the girl struck the headmistress on the head with a glass after a confrontation over the confiscation of the girl's camera-equipped cell phone.

Dr. Saleh Al-Khaslan, a spokesman for the rights group, said the penalty was too severe.

"The court should have looked for an alternative sentence," he said, adding that the rights group is calling on an appeals court in Jubail to hear the case again.

Al-Watan did not provide the name of the school, its headmistress or the girl. Efforts to reach the Saudi Ministry of Justice were unsuccessful.

Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam called Wahhabism, and lashings are a common form of punishment.

In October 2009, a court sentenced a man to five years in prison and 1,000 lashes after he bragged about his sex life on television.

In March of the same year, a Saudi court sentenced a 75-year-old Syrian woman to 40 lashes, four months imprisonment and deportation from the kingdom for having two unrelated men in her house.

In 2007, a 19-year-old gang-rape victim in the Saudi city of Qatif was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison for meeting with an unrelated male. The seven attackers, who abducted the man and woman, got sentences ranging from 10 months to five years in prison. The case sparked international outrage, prompting Saudi's King Abdullah to pardon the girl and the unrelated male.

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/01/23/saudi.arabia.lashes/index.html

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Indonesia:two Protestant churches burnt

January 23, 2010

At least 1,000 people set fire to the Pentecostal community places of worship. According to local Muslims, the two buildings did not have the legal permits as "churches." The Nahdlatul Ulama admits the violence of radical Islamists against Christians. In 2009 in Indonesia, 35 cases of violation of ...

Jakarta - A crowd of at least 1000 people burned down two Protestant churches last night in Sibuhuan (district of Padang Lawas, North Sumatra). The blaze was the culmination of tension between the faithful and the local Islamic community, tired of seeing " too many faithful and too many prayers " in a place not registered as a church. 

The district chief of Padang Lawas, Basrah Lubis, said that "the attackers arrived in a flash. Their number was enormous, more or less a thousand. They were angry because the administration of the church had not responded to their demands: to change the use of buildings from 'places of prayer' to 'neutral buildings'. "

Both burned churches - two adjoining buildings - belong to the Synod of the Protestant Batak Church (Huria Kristen Batak Protestant, Hkbp), and are Pentecostal churches, whose faithful belong predominantly to the ethnic Batak group. Even their liturgies, with dances and songs are in Batak language. 

According to police, neither of the two buildings had a building permit and had to be considered "places of prayer" and not "churches". In Indonesia, to build a church a special legal permit (Izin Mendirikan Bangunan, IMB) is necessary. The process to get the permit is almost always hard and the Islamic community has boycotted the emergence of new churches. This lack of legal permits has become the main source of Muslims violence against Christians.

Full report at: www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?idCategory=33&idsub=128&id=26104&t=Indonesia%3A+++North+Sumatra%2C+two+Protestant+churches+burnt%3A+%22too+many+faithful+and+too+many+prayers%22

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Jakarta's English Speakers Open Up About Islam

January 24, 2010

Rahman Abbas feels like the best way to give back for everything he has received is to pay it forward.

“I felt grateful that I had led a blessed life so far,” he says. “And I wanted to give something back. That’s why I established the Rahmania Foundation.”

Rahmania Foundation, initially established to help orphans and less-fortunate children in Aceh attend school, has branched out to include a forum for English-speaking Muslim expatriates living in Jakarta that convenes every Thursday night. During meetings in Pejompongan, Central Jakarta, members discuss current events in the Islamic world and topics raised by attendees.

The foundation also publishes a quarterly magazine, the Muslim Executive & Expatriate, and an Internet newsletter to assist foreigners living in Jakarta who want to learn more about Islam.

In a time when interfaith dialogue between Islam and the West has never seemed so important, the foundation’s forum gives Muslim expatriates living in the city and curious Westerners a place to meet and share ideas.

“I observed that whenever I met foreign people in Jakarta’s society who were already Muslims, for example from Pakistan or other Middle Eastern countries, or even Western expatriates who had converted to Islam, they had no community, no place to meet and sit together,” Rahman said.

“We, the Indonesians, should feel like the hosts, as those people are visitors to our country. They shouldn’t feel lonely. That’s how the gathering was first born, to provide a place for those people. We later combined it then with Islamic studies.”

With three other people — two expatriates and an Indonesian — Rahman started to organize the gatherings 1998.

“We have a weekly gathering, during which we focus more on Islamic studies,” he said. “And we also have a monthly gathering, which is different from the weekly meetings. It is not so serious, and we organize it at different venues.”

Rahamn is quick to point out that the forum is meant to open minds, not convert hearts. “Don’t get me wrong, we are not a pesantren [ Islamic boarding school], we don’t do missionary work here, we are just providing a simple service,” he said. “If they have questions and want to discuss them with us, they are welcome to come here, and we try our best to answer them.”

Full report at: thejakartaglobe.com/culture/jakartas-english-speakers-open-up-about-islam/354470

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Muslim students in the West under scrutiny

By Rania Moussly

January 24, 2010

Though some say they have come under the spotlight, others say they remain unaffected and that discrimination is due to the mistakes of a minority and biased Western media reports

On Christmas Day last year, former University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) student Omar Farouq Abdul Muttalib concealed explosives in his underwear and attempted to blow up a Detroit-bound flight from Amsterdam. Before his brief stint at UOWD, Abdul Muttalib studied at the UK's University College London (UCL) where he was president of the Islamic Society.

"For a few students who made such big mistakes, we all have to suffer," said Ebrahim Abdullah Al Fardan, 26, a UAE national who recently graduated from Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand. The comment largely reflects the mood of Muslim students on international campuses around the world, who have once again been dragged into the media spotlight.

Campus Notes spoke to students from various campuses abroad who said that although not much has changed for them, cases of abuse and discrimination, which have been happening for years, can be attributed to false Western media portrayals of Islam.

"The Western media makes people fear students," said Al Fardan. "Maybe 1 per cent of Muslim students carry out such attacks but a large majority of us are not like this."

Hamad Shere, president of the Muslim Student Association at the University of California, Davis, in the US, said increased public dependency on the media as a reliable source of information fuels animosity towards Muslims in the West.

"I think some media outlets use this [dependency] to spoon-feed the public lies and misquotes from the Quran by editing video footage or twisting words of scholars to make all Muslims in the West appear evil, when in fact that is clearly not the case."

He added: "One thing I've noticed is whenever a crime is committed, the first thing mentioned is the name of the individual involved. However, if it's a Muslim, the first thing mentioned is the religion. No other religions are mentioned, only Islam. Why is that?"

No change

Full report at: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/education/muslim-students-in-the-west-under-scrutiny-1.572504

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US Muslims Praise Obama Despite Setbacks

By Dina Rabie

Jan. 24, 2010

WASHINGTON – A year after Barack Obama came to office, American Muslims believe the winds of change are blowing, but are still awaiting to see that reflected in their daily lives and want Obama avoid the mistakes of his predecessor.

"I would like to give Obama credit for reaching out to the Muslim community," Mohamed Majid, vice president of the Islamic Society of North America, told IslamOnline.net.

In his historic inauguration speech on Capitol Hell, Obama raised hopes of change for all Americans and particularly for American Muslims, who longed for a new era in which their civil liberties would not be compromised on security grounds.

He followed that with two trips to Muslim-majority Turkey and later to Egypt, from where he delivered his long-awaited key speech to the Muslim world.

"What he said about Muslim charities among others, he spoke very well. I think he did a very good job," says Imam Shaker El-Sayyed, of the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Virginia.

He notes that one thing that Obama should be commended for is that he has removed the war rhetoric from the White House.

"This is very vital because it was about to leave huge civil rights violations in the American Muslim society."

The Fort Hood attack, when Muslim army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan went on a shooting spree killing 13 soldiers and wounding 30 others, was a major test for Obama.

"No one can ignore that president Obama has shown his leadership on the Fort Hood incident by urging calm and cautioning against jumping to conclusions," says Nihad Awad, Executive Director of the Council on American Muslim Relations (CAIR).

Salam Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, agrees.

"I think it could have been much worse in the previous administration.

"It could have created an environment to stigmatize Islam and Muslims. But Obama handled the situation very well."

Full report at: www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1264249710037&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout

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Arabs Not Giving Enough to Haiti’

By Rachelle Kliger

January 24, 2010

Commentator says Arab countries should be ashamed for not giving more money to assist earthquake relief.

A commentator in an influential Arabic language paper says it is “an outrage, in every sense of the word” that wealthy Arab countries are not giving more money to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

In an opinion piece published in the influential London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayyat, Khaled Hroub, a Palestinian academic at Cambridge University, wrote that while millions are being wasted in the Arab world on trivial matters, Arabs have failed to contribute respectable amounts of financial assistance in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.

“Even the Arab media, both print and televised, are not giving this catastrophe enough attention to bring it home for public opinion and strengthen feelings of human solidarity,” Hroub wrote.

“Following the news coverage of the earthquake in the first days, the news of the earthquake and its aftermath soon faded out,” he continues. “We began reading about how the United States ‘occupied’ Haiti through military forces that were sent there to protect the airport, facilitate the aid and provide security, more than reports about the hundreds of thousands of those afflicted who were sleeping in the streets.”

Hroub referred to a comparison of the pledges of aid by countries and organizations all over the world published in The Guardian. The British newspaper claimed that United States has pledged the most money, amounting to around $160 million, followed by Canada and the World Bank.

Full report at: http://www.themedialine.org/news/news_detail.asp?NewsID=27824

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UK Muslim police blast anti-terror strategy

LONDON—The UK National Association of Muslim Police (NAMP) has claimed that British ministers were wrong to blame Islam for being the “driver” behind recent terrorist attacks, says a report in Daily Telegraph.The Association has said Far Right extremists were a more dangerous threat to national security.The officers told MPs that Muslims were being stigmatised by the Government’s attempts to tackle terrorism, which was adding to hatred against entire communities.

In the official intervention, the association said the Government’s anti-terrorism policies could not continue unchecked. The comments, according to the paper, made in a seven-page memorandum to a parliamentary committee investigating extremism, are embarrassing for Prime Minister Gordon Brown. They indicated that Muslim officers may be reluctant to take part in “hearts and minds” anti-terrorism campaigns.

The organisation, which represents more than 2,000 officers, was previously publicly backed by Mr Brown. The Prime Minister said the association was crucial to bridge the historic divide between Muslims and the police.

It is thought to be the first time that the Muslim association, which was founded in 2007, has criticised government policy. In an analysis of the Prevent strategy, which is a set of policies designed to stop radicalisation, the organisation claimed: “The strategies of Prevent were historically focused on so-called Islamist extremism.

“This has subjected the biggest black and ethnic minority community, and second biggest faith group, in an unprecedented manner,stigmatising them in the process. “Never before has a community been mapped in [such] a manner “ it is frustrating to see this in a country that is a real pillar and example of freedom of expression and choice.

Full report at:  http://dailymailnews.com/0110/24/FrontPage/FrontPage13.php

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Once bitten, US still seeks Pak-American spies

Chidanand Rajghatta

24 January 2010

WASHINGTON: There's nothing secret or subtle about it. Uncle Sam is seeking spies, informers, linguists, and analysts from immigrant communities in the US to diversify its intelligence work force and tackle national security challenges.

Undeterred by the Headley-Gilani episode, Washington is sounding out Pakistani-Americans in the first round of recruitment, ostensibly because its intelligence agencies see Pakistan as the epicenter of international terrorism and a clear and present danger to the world community.

David Headley aka Daood Gilani, a Pakistani-American suspected of involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai massacre, was reportedly an informant of the US Drug Enforcement Agency. Some analysts have suggested he was a double agent who betrayed US.

In an extraordinarily open and transparent recruitment drive, Dennis Blair, who as director of National Intelligence is the country's top intelligence czar, held a round-table discussion last week with the Pakistani-American community in Washington to seek their cooperation and offer jobs in US agencies.

"We need you to help us build a better relationship between the United States and Pakistan," Blair told some two dozen Pakistani-Americans who came to the meeting. Citing a common threat faced by both nations, Blair said Pakistan is an important US ally in the fight against terrorists and violent extremists, but "understanding needs to be improved on both sides and Pakistani-Americans can help bridge the gaps".

Their language skills and cultural expertise would make them extremely valuable professionals in the Intelligence Community, he added.

The roundtable discussion was the first of its kind under the umbrella of the Intelligence Community Heritage Liaison Council, which is a sounding board for Blair on recruiting first- and second-generation Americans for employment in US intelligence agencies, his office said in a statement. The Office of the Directorate of National Intelligence, headed by Blair, oversees 16 federal organizations that make up the US Intelligence Community, including CIA and FBI among others.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Once-bitten-US-still-seeks-Pak-American-spies/articleshow/5493369.cms

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Pakistan reaching out to Afghan Taliban, says FO

Sunday, 24 Jan, 2010

ISLAMABAD, Jan 23: Pakistan is reaching out to “all levels” of the Afghan Taliban in a bid to encourage reconciliation in its war-torn neighbour, the foreign ministry said on Saturday.

US President Barack Obama has said a political solution is needed to stabilise Afghanistan and emphasised that success would not be possible without the support of Pakistan.

“We are trying to reach out to them (Taliban) at all levels and all of us would like that our efforts should bring some results, but at this point in time it is very difficult to say,” Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said of Pakistan’s efforts.

The Afghan government is preparing a reintegration plan with the Taliban that targets lower to mid-level Taliban fighters, but has not focused on more senior leaders of the insurgency.

International donors are meeting in London on Jan 28 when Afghan President Hamid Karzai is expected to seek their support for his reintegration plan.

Mr Basit said it was important that there should be reconciliation at all levels and that Pakistan was helping in this regard. He declined to give details.

“Whether or not our efforts will yield results, we will see,” he told Reuters in an interview. “We don’t want to discuss the specifics. There are efforts being made and we are trying to win over those Taliban or forces who are ‘reconcilable’. Let’s see.”

Asked specifically whether Pakistan was targeting top-level leaders, Mr Basit said: “We are trying at all levels but where we succeed is another matter.”

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates visited Pakistan this week and urged it to root out Afghan Taliban based in its north-western border enclaves, from where they have been orchestrating an intensified insurgency in Afghanistan.

UNDER PRESSURE: Pakistan has repeatedly told Washington that it is already fighting a home-grown Taliban and does not have the resources to open up new fronts against Afghan militant groups based in its northwest. Such groups include the Haqqani network which, the US military says, is the biggest threat in Afghanistan.

Full report at: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/pakistan-reaching-out-to-afghan-taliban%2C-says-fo-410

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Al Qaeda's Deep Tribal Ties Make Yemen a Terror Hub

By CHARLES LEVINSON And MARGARET COKER

SAN'A, Yemen—In nearly a decade of rebuilding its terror network here, al Qaeda has put down deep roots, a move that is now complicating U.S.-backed efforts to battle the group.

Unlike other chapters of the global terror network, Yemen's Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is a largely homegrown movement, with carefully cultivated ties to the local population. That sets it apart from other affiliates of al Qaeda, and could make it much more difficult to dislodge.

The group's strategy: apply lessons learned from mistakes by affiliates in other Mideast havens, particularly Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

In both those places, al Qaeda's footprint weakened significantly as local support for the group turned sharply against it. To avoid a similar fate in Yemen, the group has worked hard to curry favor with local tribes—so much so that it is now largely interwoven in the country's tribal fabric.

"They've worked hard to put deep, and what they hope are lasting, roots that will make it very difficult for them to be rooted out of Yemen," says Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen expert at Princeton University. "They've done a good job of looking at the mistakes that other versions of al Qaeda have made elsewhere."

Since late last year, Yemen has emerged as one of the biggest and most dangerous hubs for al Qaeda operations. U.S. officials have tied al Qaeda militants based here to two attacks against U.S. targets, including the attempted Christmas Day airline bombing allegedly by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who told U.S. Officials that he received his training from al Qaeda operatives in the Arab country. The push into Yemen, say U.S. officials, shows the group's increased ability to wage jihad against the U.S. and its allies, a main al Qaeda goal.

In recent months, a top al Qaeda leader publicized moving his foreign family here, while another married into a local tribe. The group is providing social and financial assistance in some of the country's poorest areas, according to tribesmen, local residents and a former al Qaeda member. Its leaders have also tempered its message of global jihad to fit local grievances—including the lack of economic benefits from Yemen's oil revenues—to recruit new members.

Full report at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052748704320104575015493304519542.html

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Saudis conduct 18 airstrikes on northern Yemen

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 01

Houthi fighters say the Saudi army has conducted 18 airstrikes in the latest attacks along the border of northern Yemen.

The Shia Houthis said late on Saturday that hundreds of Saudi rockets and mortar shells were fired into villages in Sa'ada province overnight.

On Friday, the Houthis said a number of advances by government forces had been repelled and several tanks had been destroyed.

Their leader, Abdel Malik al-Houthi, posted video footage on the group's website dismissing Yemeni government allegations of his death. The video showed al-Houthi to be in good health, contrary to reports suggesting he had been seriously injured.

The Houthis say they are fighting to defend civilians being targeted in coordinated operations by Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Both countries deny the accusation.

Yemen launched an offensive against the Houthis in Sa'ada back in August — three months before Riyadh joined in the attacks.

In early November, Saudi troops undertook their largest mobilization since the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War and began overtly attacking the Houthi fighters from the ground and the air.

The Houthis, who until recently controlled a large swathe of mountain territory in Yemen's northwestern province of Sa'ada, have been under a sustained military assault by Yemen ground and air forces since August.

Meanwhile, Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khaled bin Sultan said on Saturday that the Saudi military had recovered the bodies of 20 of the 26 Saudi soldiers listed as missing in the fighting since November.

On January 12, he had put the death toll for Saudi troops at 82.

Earlier this week, the southern region commander, General Ali Zaid al-Khawaji, said that 113 soldiers had died and that several more had most likely been captured by the Houthis, Saudi Arabia's official news agency SPA reported.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=116889&sectionid=351020206

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Islam should be debated; says writer of 'Infidel'

January 24, 2010

Living under threat since she scripted a film criticising Islam, Dutch politician and prominent critic of the religion Ayan Hirsi Ali believes the religion should be debated and put under "systematic scrutiny" around the world.

A surprise package at the Jaipur Literature Festival, Ali, who was born and brought up in a Muslim family in Somalia but later rebelled from its fold, said "Islam under siege is a false idea. But if things go on this way, Islam will be under siege."

Ali published her memoir titled Infidel in 2006, and wrote the script and provided the voice-over for 'Submission', a film produced by Theo van Gosh, which offended Muslims by its criticism of certain verses of the Quran.

The film sparked furore and the controversy led to a member of a radical group killing Van Gogh in Amsterdam in 2004. A letter that was left pinned to Van Gogh's body with a knife, had a death threat to Ali, who also carries a fatwa against her.

She said she remembered two distinct periods separated by 1985 as after that year things started changing in her society.

"Women started to don veils, more men started growing beards and people started talking about Islam in a different way, they began turning to the militant Islam," she said.

About Infidel, that brings out her gradual evolution, she said, "Those who have an interest in using militant Islam for gaining power have shut down the doors of conversation, and declared me a traitor and an infidel".

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/site/Story/80779/India/Islam+should+be+debated;+says+writer+of+%27Infidel%27.html

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Fighting for women's rights in Iraqu

By Matt Kanner

23 January 2010

‘Sisters in War’ author Christina Asquith is on her way to the Seacoast

Heading to Iraq to cover the U.S. invasion in 2003 was not an easy decision for journalist and author Christina Asquith. Armed with nothing but her press credentials from the New York Times, she entered an active war zone in Baghdad.

“It was terrifying. I was really nervous,” Asquith said. “I had no bulletproof vest, no night vision goggles, no helmet. I didn’t really have any official network if something were to happen to me, if I were kidnapped.”

Perhaps the only people more horrified than Asquith were her parents, who tried to hide her passport to prevent her from leaving, she said. But, with encouragement from a friend serving as a foreign correspondent in Iraq, she mustered the courage to go.

The assignment proved extremely dangerous for Asquith, a Boston University graduate who now teaches at the University of Vermont. As the war dragged on, the atmosphere became increasingly hostile for American journalists, and Asquith was forced to go into hiding with an Iraqi family she befriended.

The time Asquith spent with this family would serve as the basis of her new book, “Sisters in War,” which was released by Random House late last year. The book follows four women—two Iraqi, two American—as they struggle for women’s rights in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.

Asquith will read from “Sisters in War” at RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth on Tuesday, Jan. 26, and at Water Street Bookstore in Exeter on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

The book first introduces Iraqi sisters Zia and Nunu. Asquith met Zia while the latter was volunteering as a translator for the United States in Baghdad. At the time, Asquith was interviewing Iraqi women at Hussein’s former palace. Her conversation with Zia lasted several hours, and the two became friends.

Zia’s Shia family had suffered immensely under Hussein’s repressive regime. Her father had lost his job after being accused of opposing the ruling Ba’ath Party, and international sanctions made basic necessities like food and medicine difficult to obtain. They had no access to information about the outside world that wasn’t filtered through Hussein’s propaganda machine.

Full report at: www.wirenh.com/Literary/Literary_-_general/Fighting_for_women's_rights_in_Iraqu_201001233879.html

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Hyderabad not a terror hub, says new police chief

24 January 2010

Hyderabad, Jan 21 (IANS) It was improper to term Hyderabad as a terror hub, the city's new police commissioner Abdul Khayyum Khan said Thursday.

'Terrorism is not confined to Hyderabad alone. Every city has this problem. It is not correct to say that whatever happens in other parts of the country is planned here or terrorism has its roots here,' Khan told reporters after taking charge.

Khan, the second Muslim to become the city's police chief in nearly three decades, said very few 'elements' in Hyderabad were involved in terror activity.

'We have identified them and are keeping a watch on their activity. In the past, some modules and sleeper cells were busted and a continuous vigil on such activities will be a priority for the police,' Khan, who succeeded B. Prasada Rao, said.

Khan, earlier an additional director general of police, is a 1981 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer.

Khan, who is from the Rayalaseema region, said police would perform its duties professionally while handling 'ongoing movements'. He was referring to the campaign for and against a Telangana state.

'For the last two to three months, the intensity of different movements has affected civic life in the city but I am confident that the city will pass through this phase. The police have the responsibility to bring normalcy as quickly as possible.'

Khan, who served in the city in different positions for the last six years, said he was taking over as the police chief of the historic city with a sense of humility and pride.

http://www.news.calcuttatube.com/national/hyderabad-not-a-terror-hub,-says-new-police-chief-2010012411580.html

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Iraqi Interior ministry still backing 'bomb detector'

24 January 2010

Some Iraqi officials are insisting that a controversial bomb detection device works, despite a BBC inquiry in which experts said the item was useless.

Britain has banned exports of the ADE-651 and the director of the company selling them was arrested and bailed.

But the device is still being used at checkpoints all over Baghdad.

Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani, whose department bought $85m of the devices, said the ADE-651 had detected 16,000 bombs, including 700 car bombs.

"The thing is, the instrument is being operated by a user," he said.

"Not all those who use the instrument are fully trained, the user needs to be alert and adept at using it."

There are allegations that failure of the ADE-651 may have been a factor allowing suicide truck bombs to pass through checkpoints on three occasions last year, leading to hundreds of deaths.

Iraqi investigations

Jim McCormick, director of Somerset-based ATSC, which sold the device, says it uses special electronic cards slotted into it to detect explosives.

But a BBC Newsnight investigation reported that a computer laboratory said the card it examined contained only a tag used by shops to prevent theft.

Several investigations into the use of the device are under way in Iraq.

One has been ordered by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, whose office has been told not to comment until the results are known.

The Security and Defence Committee of the Iraqi parliament is also looking into the affair, and it will be discussed in the full chamber.

'Rival companies'

Full report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8477601.stm

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CIA deaths prompt surge in US drone strikes

Jan 24, 2010

Washington: Since the suicide bombing that took the lives of seven Americans in Afghanistan on December 30, the CIA has struck back against militants in Pakistan with the most intensive series of missile strikes from drone aircraft since the covert programme began.

Beginning the day after the attack on a CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan, the agency has carried out 11 strikes that have killed about 90 people suspected of being militants, according to Pakistani news reports, which make almost no mention of civilian casualties. The assault has included strikes on a mud fortress in North Waziristan on January 6 that killed 17 people and a volley of missiles on a compound in South Waziristan last Sunday that killed at least 20.

“For the CIA, there is certainly an element of wanting to show that they can hit back,” said Bill Roggio, editor of The Long War Journal, an online publication that tracks the CIA’s drone campaign. Roggio, as well as Pakistani and American intelligence officials, said many of the recent strikes had focused on the Pakistani Taliban and its leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, who claimed responsibility for the Khost bombing.

Drone strikes have come roughly every other day this month, up from about once a week last year and the most furious pace since the drone campaign began in earnest in the summer of 2008.

Pakistan’s announcement on Thursday that its army would delay any new offensives against militants in North Waziristan for six to 12 months is likely to increase American reliance on the drone strikes, administration and counterterrorism officials said.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/CIA-deaths-prompt-surge-in-US-drone-strikes/571000

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Connect these dots: The terrorists are Muslims

January 24, 2010

So another terror attempt fizzles, literally, and the hand-wringing begins.

Why don't they like us? What can we give to the terrorists? Where should President Obama go to give a speech?

As a former intelligence collector, used to being on the ground with the bad guys and trying to earn their trust, I believe more folks are realizing what I've known all along.

The mysterious "they" simply don't want what we want. While Obama runs around pointing fingers, giving speeches (between golf rounds), and blaming everyone while simultaneously trying to convince himself and everyone else that we aren't at war, he forgets the most important part:

"They" are at war with us. They always have been and always will be.

However, the most inane part of our administration's response is what is quickly becoming an irritating phrase: "connecting the dots."

"We didn't connect the dots." "Someone failed to connect the dots."

Wrong. The dots have been being connected, for years. The problem with Obama and his administration is that they never step back from the blackboard to look at the picture the connected dots are making.

It's a picture of a wealthy, disenfranchised young man with a bomb in one hand and his Muslim faith in the other.

Call it profiling if it's easier to reject it that way, but we all know that profiling works. It always has, and it always will.

No, not all Muslims are terrorists, but history speaks to the fact that the terrorists attacking us and our country are all Muslims.

Remember that quirky "religion of peace"? If it makes people uncomfortable to admit what they know to be true, then you get what you get.

http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2010/012010/01242010/519270

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Ex-Pak air force chief's image in Indian govt advertisement

PTI, 24 January 2010

NEW DELHI: In a huge embarrassment, a full page newspaper advertisement given by the government on Sunday to mark the National Girl Child Day carried a photograph of a former Pakistan air force chief along with that of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The advertisement also showed sports icons Kapil Dev and Virender Sehwag and sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan along with former PAF chief Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed in uniform with the heading, "Where would you be if your mother was not allowed to be born?"

An unrepentant minister for women and child development Krishna Tirath defiantly refused to accept the blunder and accused the media of hair-splitting.

She said the "message is more important than the image. The photograph is only symbolic. The message for the girl child is more important. She should be protected."

Tirath told reporters that whether the mistake was on part of her ministry or the DAVP which releases government advertisements, will be investigated.

Tirath said the DAVP looks at advertisements "minutely" before releasing. At the same time, she said no name was mentioned with the photo of the former PAF chief.

"It was a photo of an officer in uniform and no name was mentioned," she said indicating that it was issued by mistake.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Ex-Pak-air-force-chiefs-image-in-Indian-govt-advertisement-/articleshow/5494589.cms

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Pak, Afghan, ISAF commanders discuss war against terror

January 24, 2010

RAWALPINDI: A joint Tripartite Commission meeting of Pakistan, Afghanistan and International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF) top military officials was held on Saturday to review the prevailing security situation and improve cooperation in the war against terrorism. Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the meeting reviewed the security situation in areas along the Pak-Afghan border and discussed measures to improve the effectiveness of the ongoing operations in the areas. “The participants showed satisfaction in the existing level of cooperation,” ISPR said. Pakistan Army COAS General Parvez Kayani, ISAF Afghanistan Commander General Stanley McChrystal and Afghan National Army Director Operations Lieutenant General Sher Muhammad Karimi led the respective delegations in the meeting. staff report

http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\01\24\story_24-1-2010_pg7_4

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Afghanistan postpones parliamentary elections

January 24, 2010

KABUL: A funding shortage and unrest in war-torn Afghanistan have forced authorities to postpone parliamentary polls due in May for four months, an election commission official said Sunday.

The ballot was originally planned for May 22, as required by the Afghan constitution, but will be postponed until September 18, Fazil Ahmad Manawi, a senior commissioner told reporters in Kabul.

The Independent Election Commission made the decision because of "lack of budget, security and uncertainty and logistical challenges," the official said.

The Commission had previously said it was short of around 120 million dollars to hold the ballot for the Wolosi Jirga, Afghanistan's lower house of parliament.

President Hamid Karzai's administration had earlier called for the ballot to be held on time, pledging to fund the process if the international community failed to provide the budget.

His office was not immediately available for comment.

The United Nations has called for reforms in the commission before funding the next ballot. The reforms are aimed at preventing fraud that was widely seen in the presidential polls in August last year won by Karzai.

Afghanistan held its first direct parliamentary election in September 2005. Under the constitution the next poll was due to be held no later than 30 days before the end of the legislative cycle, which ends on June 22.

Karzai was sworn into office for a second five-year term in November following a controversial election steeped in fraud, mostly in his favour, and marred by low voter turnout and Taliban violence.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=96914      

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Afghanistan parliamentary election postponed

24 January 2010

Afghanistan is to postpone its parliamentary elections by four months until September, the country's election commission has confirmed.

Elections were to take place before 22 May under the constitution but a new date of 18 September has been set.

The commission cited a lack of funds and security concerns for the delay.

Last year's presidential election was marred by fraud, and Western nations have been pushing for reforms ahead of the parliamentary vote.

'Sensible decision'

Fazil Ahmad Manawi, a senior election commissioner, told reporters in Kabul: "The Independent Election Commission, due to lack of budget, security and uncertainty and logistical challenges... has decided to conduct the [parliamentary] election on September 18, 2010."

The commission earlier said it needed about $50m from international donors to part fund the estimated $120m election budget.

United Nations funds are available to fund the elections but have been made contingent on reforms to the system.

The US and other Western nations have said that another election marred by fraud could undermine their strategy in the country.

The chief UN envoy Kai Eide said this month that Afghan law did provide for a delay to the polls, although President Hamid Karzai had wanted the original date to be met.

One international diplomat told the Reuters news agency the postponement was "a pragmatic and sensible decision which will allow time for reform of the key electoral institutions to enable cleaner parliamentary elections".

Full report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8477368.stm

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Iran to Establish First Gulf Trade Centre

by Adam Gonn

January 17, 2010

Oman set to host the first ever Iranian trade center in the Gulf.

Iran aims to open a trade center in the Gulf by the end of January.

According to the Iranian news agency Press TV, the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran, the body responsible for encouraging Iran’s global commerce, plans to set up a trade center in Oman.

The plan follows the establishment of a similar trade center in China last year, and is backed by a one billion dollar budget expressly for the purpose of setting up trade centers around the globe.

The organization is currently working with 60 Iranian companies to encourage business speculation in the Gulf region.

The announcement came four days after Omani Foreign Minister Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah visited the Iranian capital Teheran for talks with his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki.

The new government funded project will work alongside Iran’s existing private trade organization in the region, The Iranian Business Council in Dubai, which has been operating in the United Arab Emirates since 1992.

“The links between [Iran and Oman] are pretty strong economically as both of them are close geographically,” Mohammed Shakeel, editor and economist with the Economist Intelligence Unit, told The Media Line. “Oman wants to establish special gas links with Iran given Oman’s own gas shortage.”

“There is a trade-off going on, from the Omani perspective, to reach out to Iran over and above the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries,” he said. “Oman has a much closer diplomatic relationship with Iran and is much more concerned about Iran’s nuclear program in the sense that [this might trigger] conflict with America.”

“The diplomatic side is always the one that is pitched first,” Shakeel explained. “From the Omani point of view, any diplomatic and economic activity which brings Iran into the wider regional folder is a good thing. From its own personal economic perspective stronger economic relations with Iran will help it improve its own gas shortage.”

Full report at: http://www.themedialine.org/news/news_detail.asp?NewsID=27749

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Israel warns of new war with Hezbollah

Sunday, 24 Jan, 2010

JERUSALEM, Jan 23: Israel is heading toward a new war with Lebanon’s Shia movement Hezbollah, a cabinet minister warned Saturday in remarks carried by military radio and the popular Ynet news website.

“We are heading toward a new confrontation in the north but I don’t know when it will happen, just as we did not know when the second Lebanon war would erupt,” said Yossi Peled, a minister without portfolio and a reserve army general.

He was referring to the devastating war Israel fought with Hezbollah in 2006, which killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Hezbollah is part of a new coalition government formed in November by US- and Saudi-backed Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The group is also the only faction still armed after Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war.

“Although Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government, the latter has no influence on it,” Peled said, adding the Jewish state will hold Hezbollah and its ally Syria responsible for any attack on Israel.

Israeli officials have repeatedly warned in recent weeks that any attack by Hezbollah would be met with a strong response.

Last week Defence Minister Ehud Barak warned Lebanon and Hezbollah against any attempt to undermine the “calm” prevailing at the border between the two countries.—AFP

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/international/israel-warns-of-new-war-with-hezbollah-410

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Egypt defends smuggling barrier with Gaza

January 24, 2010

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has defended an underground steel wall along the border with neighboring Gaza as necessary for his nation's security.

Speaking to senior police officers Sunday, Mubarak said Egypt began the the barrier after a series of terrorist attack on tourist resorts in the Sinai peninsula neighboring Gaza.

The tunnels under the border are mainly used to supply the blockaded territories with food, medicine and consumer products.

Hamas is trying to rally Arab and Muslim public opinion against the barrier, dubbing it the "death wall." Protesters have picketed Egyptian embassies in Lebanon and Jordan this month.

Mubarak lashed out at the protests as "blackmail."

http://www.auburnpub.com/articles/2010/01/24/ap/regional/middle-east/ml_egypt_gaza.txt

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Orakzai, Kurram posts ambushed: 22 militants, two troops killed in gunbattles

Sunday, 24 Jan, 2010

PARACHINAR; Militants ambushed security forces at checkposts in two regions close to the Afghan border on Saturday, sparking gunbattles that left 22 terrorists and two troops dead, officials said.

Government officials Mohammad Yasin and Mohammad Naseem said two troops were wounded in the clashes at checkposts in the Orakzai and Kurram tribal regions. They said that 25 suspected militants were captured in a search and clearance operation launched afterwards.

The force commander in Kurram, Col Tausif Akhtar, said troops had cleared six villages of Taliban fighters.

Many militants fleeing a Pakistani military offensive in the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan have ended up in the two regions, where they have often targeted government forces.

Washington has welcomed the military campaign but is pushing the Pakistani army to do more to target the Taliban blamed for violence across the border in Afghanistan, especially those based in North Waziristan. The Pakistani army has said it is too taxed to launch another operation right now.

“We have gone in Orakzai and Kurram because they were affecting our operations in South Waziristan,” Pakistani army spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas told DawnNews TV on Friday night. “We are too thin on the ground. We are too overstretched. It is not possible to get into any other area for operations.”

The army deployed some 30,000 troops against the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan in mid-October and has retaken many towns in the region.

But many fear the militants have just set up in other parts of the vast, lawless border regions and will continue to threaten the Pakistani government and US troops in Afghanistan.—AP

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/orakzai%2C-kurram-posts-ambushed-22-militants%2C-two-troops-killed-in-gunbattles-410

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Islamabad: Capital police get two scanners to detect explosives

January 24, 2010

* Interior minister says one scanner each will be installed in Islamabad and Rawalpindi

* All vehicles to be logged with the help of chips

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) police Saturday got two Chinese-made scanners to enable them to detect the explosive-laden vehicles. Of the two scanners, one is mobile and the other is static.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik formally handed over the two scanners to ICT police in a ceremony held at Pakistan Sports Complex here. Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Luo Zhao Hui, Inspector General of Islamabad Police Syed Kaleem Imam, Deputy Inspector General of Police Bin Yameen, SSP Tahir Alam Khan and several other officials from of the Ministry of Interior and Islamabad police were also present on the occasion.

The scanners have been imported at a time when the country is battling against the militants and terrorists. Malik said the import of scanners was a reflection of the deep-rooted friendship between the two countries. He said the law-enforcers would be equipped with modern technology to help them combat terrorism. Malik said the US, Australia, Canada and some other friendly countries were also helping Pakistan to build the capacity of its law-enforcement agencies.

He appreciated the performance of Islamabad police saying that terrorists would not dare enter Islamabad now.

Full report at: http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\01\24\story_24-1-2010_pg11_1

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HOMELAND INSECURITY: Islam activists outraged over biblical engravings

January 22, 2010

'These endanger our troops and alienate our Muslim allies'

An organization that has attracted the interest of the FBI because of its alleged Hamas terrorist links is outraged over revelations that some of the gunsights mounted on weapons used by the U.S. military contain a biblical reference.

CAIR headquarters in Washington

"The use of military equipment with hidden Bible references sends the false message to Muslims worldwide that we are at war with Islam," stated Nadhira Al-Khalili of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in a prepared statement. "In addition, these sights are a potential recruiting tool for anti-American forces, endanger our troops and alienate our Muslim allies.

"They should we (sic) withdrawn as soon as logistically possible," the lawyer added.

As WND has reported, lawyers for a former Air Force special agent who conducted a private undercover probe of CAIR have turned over to federal authorities thousands of pages of internal documents that allegedly confirm the D.C.-based Muslim group's role as a front for terrorist groups that seek Islam's domination over the U.S.

The FBI served a subpoena for the documents.

As WND reported, FBI agents entered the law offices of Cozen O'Connor in the nation's capital Nov. 24 with a warrant to obtain 12,000 pages of documents gathered by P. David Gaubatz and his son Chris in a daring six-month undercover penetration of CAIR. The younger Gaubatz served as an unpaid intern for the group that was designated an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator in the trial of the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation, the largest terrorist-finance case in U.S. history. Chris Gaubatz says he was able to collect the documents after CAIR leaders asked interns to shred them.

Get the book that exposed CAIR from the inside out, autographed, from WND's Superstore!

The subpoena suggests the federal government wants to see the papers as part of its interest in CAIR, its founders and their Hamas terrorist links.

Full report at: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=122677

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THEIR GOVERNMENT AT WORK: Shariah arrests 'depend on policeman's mood'

By Bob Unruh

January 23, 2010

Woman talks of being charged for wearing 'indecent' trousers

A female journalist convicted of indecency for wearing trousers in public says tens of thousands of similar arrests are made each year, and what happens is up to the "mood" of the police officer.

A Quran

WND previously reported when Lubna al-Hussein was arrested, challenged the charges, then was convicted and sentenced in Sudan, which follows Shariah, or Islamic religious law, in many sections.

Her recent appearance on Al-Mihwar TV now has been posted online by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

Al-Hussein was among more than a dozen women arrested at the same time. While others were convicted and punished almost immediately – with flogging – her case was delayed.

When the case developed, Jonathan Racho, regional manager for Africa and the Middle East for International Christian Concern, condemned Sudanese authoriteis, saying flogging women "for wearing pants is both outrageous and against the dignity of the women."

Hussein said in the interview that women frequently are arrested and punished "on the spot."

Asked if a skirt also is considered "indecent," she told the reporters it was up to the officer making the arrest.

"They said it was indecent. It depends on the policeman's mood," she said.

Learn the true story about Islamic punishment. Get "The Stoning of Soraya M."

She also said, "In a single year, 43,000 women were arrested because of their clothing – not in all of Sudan, but in Khartoum alone, as declared by the police general commissioner."

She also said when defendants are arrested, they have no opportunity for a defense.

Full report at: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=122835

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Christian-Muslim violence in Nigeria warrants probe, rights group says

January 23, 2010

Reports of at least 150 Muslims killed in recent religious clashes in Nigeria should be investigated, a human rights group urged Saturday.

Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that armed men attacked Kuru Karama in central Nigeria on Tuesday, "killing many as they tried to flee and burning many others alive," the international organization said Saturday.

The assailants targeted Muslims, reportedly killing at least 150, Human Rights Watch said.

Community leaders from Jos, a city about 19 miles north of Kuru Karama, and journalists told the organization that later in the week they saw dozens of bodies lodged in wells or sewage pits. The bodies of 121 people, including 22 children, had been recovered, the organization said. Most of the homes in the town were burned down, along with three mosques, the group said.

Those interviewed by the group said they thought the attackers were Christian, Human Rights Watch said. But even Christians were not spared. When a Christian pastor tried to stop the attacks he was beaten, a Muslim imam told the group.

Human Rights Watch called on Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to open a criminal investigation into the deaths based on the reports the groups said were credible.

Officials are still tallying death figures in the latest round of violence, said H.A. Angulu, director of public communications for the Ministry of Information and Communications.

"Yes [the clashes] occurred, but I cannot confirm any numbers," he told CNN. "At this time the government is still compiling figures of those people affected and of those displaced in Jos. They are accounting for the deceased and missing. At this time I cannot confirm the number of dead."

Earlier this week, dozens were reportedly killed in clashes in Jos. Angulu did not specifically address the reports about Kuru Karama.

On Thursday, Jonathan declared in a televised address that the attackers in the state of Plateau would be held accountable, according to Human Rights Watch.

Police were called to end the attacks, but they did not, the group reported witnesses as saying.

Full report at: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/africa/01/23/nigeria.massacre.probe/

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It wasn't us: Somali militants disavow Kenya threat

By Scott Baldauf

January 22, 2010

Al Shabab, the Somali militant group with ideological links to Al Qaeda, says the threat to attack Kenya – posted on its website this week – is fake.

By posting on its own website a threat to attack Kenya, and then disavowing that threat as a “fake,” Somali insurgent group Al Shabab may seem a bit confused.

But that doesn’t make either the threat or the people who made the threat any less dangerous, nor Kenya any less vulnerable, security analysts say. It may indicate a split among the group's leadership between jihadists and nationalists.

With hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees residing within its borders, and a sizable indigenous Somali ethnic community as well, Kenya must remain vigilant against potential threats such as the Islamist Al-Shabab militia, which professes close ties to and a shared ideology with Al Qaeda. Kenya’s vulnerability was seen plainly last week, after protests over the planned deportation of a radical Jamaican cleric turned violent in Nairobi’s Somali neighborhood of Eastleigh, and as protesters unfurled the black flag of Al Shabab to show their radical allegiances.

“If the Mungiki [an ethnic Kikuyu militia] can carry out attacks in Nairobi, anybody can,” says Richard Cornwell, a veteran Africa analyst from Tshwane (Pretoria). “Whether this is really Al Shabab or ordinary criminal elements pretending to act in the defense of Islam – we’re more than just bandits, we’re religious bandits – it doesn’t really matter. They can do bloody well what they want.”

'When we arrive we will hit, hit until we kill'

This week, after Kenya’s security forces detained hundreds of protesters in the Somali-dominated neighborhood of Eastleigh, Al Shabab’s official website carried an audio recording of a threat to attack Kenya.

"God willing we will arrive in Nairobi, we will enter Nairobi, God willing we will enter ... when we arrive we will hit, hit until we kill, weapons we have, praise be to God, they are enough," Reuters news agency quoted the seven-minute long chanting message from Swahili.

On Saturday, Kenya’s Interior Minister George Saitoti accused Al Shabab of infiltrating the demonstrations in Nairobi against the arrest and deportation of Jamaican-born cleric Abdullah Al-Faisal.

Full report at: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/2010/0122/It-wasn-t-us-Somali-militants-disavow-Kenya-threat

URL of this page:http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/bangladesh-s-4-million--muslim-pilgrimage-calls-for-peace,-stability/d/2413


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