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Islamic World News ( 18 Dec 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Bhagavad Gita on Trial, Faces Ban in Russia

Ishrat not LeT operative, says SIT; CBI files FIR against 20 cops

200 feared dead as migrant boat sinks in Indonesia

It is make or break for the clerics in Pakistan

Peshawar: National Heritage Status for Dilip and Raj Ancestral Homes

There is no Muslim effort to overthrow American values

Minority pockets tilt to Cong

Pakistan PM rules out military intervention

Bangladesh: War crimes charges pressed against Jamaat-e-Islami leader

Two new women police stations to be established in Sindh

India, Pakistan leaders for steps to encourage women entrepreneurs

Al Jazeera: Covering the revolutions or fueling them?

Muslim democrat-secular alliances becoming reality

Gilani mediates between Army, govt

Jones: Memo wasn’t credible

Three Pakistani high-ranked officials prepared memo: Ijaz

Pak may quit Iran gas project

Kabul: No deal with Taliban over schools

Cameron says Britain is a Christian nation

Kazakhstan Orders Curfew for Oil Town

Israel prepares to free 550 Palestinian prisoners

Troops assault Egypt protesters

Iran arrests suspected American spy

Pakistan extends detention of mastermind of Lahore attack

Arab league threat to take syria to UNSC

Panetta in Libya on landmark visit

UN sanctions on Libya’ s central bank lifted

6 convicted for terror attack on IISc in 2005

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau



Bhagavad Gita on trial, faces ban in Russia


MOSCOW, Dec 18 2011, Iskcon followers seek India's help The case is coming up for a final verdict in the Siberian city of Tomsk on Monday. The court had referred the matter to experts at Tomsk State University.

The Bhagavad Gita, one of the holiest Hindu scriptures, is facing a legal ban and the prospect of being branded as “extremist” literature across Russia.

A court in Siberia’s Tomsk city is set to deliver its final verdict Monday in a case filed by state prosecutors.

The final pronouncement in the case will come two days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during his December 15-17 official visit for a bilateral summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, consolidated bilateral trade and strategic ties and personal friendship.

The case, which has been going on in the Tomsk court, seeks a ban on a Russian translation of Bhagavad Gita As It Is, written by A.C.

Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon).

It also wants the Hindu religious text banned in Russia, declared as a literature spreading “social discord”, and its distribution on Russian soil rendered illegal.

In view of the case, Indians settled in Moscow, numbering about 15,000, and followers of the Iskcon religious movement here have appealed to Dr Singh and his government to intervene diplomatically to resolve the issue in favour of the scripture, an important part of the Indian epic Mahabharata, written by sage Ved Vyas. Iskcon followers in Russia have also written a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi calling for immediate intervention lest the religious freedom of Hindus living here be compromised.

“The case is coming up for a final verdict on Monday in Tomsk court.

We want all efforts from the Indian government to protect the religious rights of Hindus in Russia,” Sadhu Priya Das of Iskcon and a devotee of a 40-year-old Krishna temple in central Moscow, said. The court, which took up the case filed by the state prosecutors, had referred the holy book to the Tomsk State University for “an expert” examination.

But Hindu groups in Russia, particularly Iskcon, say the university was not qualified as it lacked Indologists who study the history and cultures, languages and literature of the Indian subcontinent. The Hindus pleaded with the court that the case was inspired by religious bias and intolerance from a “majority religious group in Russia”.


Ishrat not let operative, says SIT; CBI files FIR against 20 cops

AHMEDABAD, Dec 18, 2011: Ishrat Jahan, the 19year-old Mumbai girl branded a terrorist and killed by the Gujarat Police, did not have any link with the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the special investigation team said.

In its 22-page complaint to the CBI -which formed the basis of an FIR lodged by the agency Saturday -the Gujarat high court-appointed SIT said the June 15, 2004 encounter killing of Ishrat and three others was staged as the police had them in custody before that date. It also debunked the police's claim that the four were on a mission to kill chief minister Narendra Modi.

In 2009, an Ahmadabad metropolitan magistrate had also called the encounter fake.

The CBI, tasked with conducting a detailed probe by the high court, has named 20 policemen in its FIR. They face charges of murder and destruction of evidence, a PTI report said.

According to the SIT, Ishrat had no criminal record and met Javed Ghulam Sheik -one of the others killed -for the first time in May 2004. The two traveled to Lucknow and Ibrahimpur in UP and to Ahmadabad twice.

Of the four, the only person with terrorist links was Amjad Ali, a Pakistani, SIT claimed. It said his alias `Babar' came up during the interrogation of some arrested accused in Kashmir.


200 feared dead as migrant boat sinks in Indonesia


WATULIMO - Dec 18, 2011, More than 200 people were feared dead after a heavily overloaded boat packed mostly with Afghan and Iranian asylum-seekers sank off Indonesia en route to Australia, rescuers said Sunday.

Australia's government called the sinking "a terrible tragedy", but came under pressure from campaign groups which said its tough approach to refugees was partly responsible for such disasters.

The fibreglass boat had a capacity of 100 but was carrying about 250 people when it sank on Saturday, 40 nautical miles off eastern Java, in heavy rain and high waves, Indonesian officials said.

Thirty-three survivors were plucked from the shark-infested waters, officials said, after the vessel sank along a well-worn -- and occasionally lethal -- route from Java to Australia's remote Christmas Island.

Officials said there was little hope of finding any other passengers alive, which would make the sinking Indonesia's deadliest migrant boat accident.

"We sent out five boats and three helicopters but no survivor or body was sighted. It's unlikely they were washed up on islands as the closest shore is 40 miles away," district search and rescue official Kelik Purwanto told AFP.

Purwanto said the accident was the "worst disaster involving migrant boats" to date.

"If we find no survivor, then this is by far the largest loss of life," he added.

National Search and Rescue Agency spokesman Gagah Prakoso earlier said "it's very likely they have all drowned."

"It's impossible even for a good swimmer with a life vest to swim to shore safely in such extreme conditions. When boats sink like this, the bodies usually surface on the third day," he told AFP.

Bad weather, strong winds and waves of up to five metres (16 feet) hampered rescue efforts on Sunday, with 300 rescuers including navy and police officers deployed to comb the sea for bodies.

One survivor, 17-year-old Afghan student Armaghan Haidar, said he was sleeping when a storm came up and began to rock the boat.

"I felt water touching my feet and woke up. As the boat was going down, people were panicking and shouting and trying to rush out," he told AFP ashore.

"I managed to swim out and hang on to the side of the boat with about 100 others. (There were) about 20 to 30 others with life jackets, but another 100 people were trapped inside," he said.

Survivors were floating in the sea for six hours before fishermen rescued them, survivors and officials said.

The survivors are being kept at a community hall near Prigi beach, 640 kilometres (400 miles) southeast of Indonesia's capital Jakarta, and say they had official UN documentation to prove their refugee status.

Survivors interviewed by AFP and local officials said that most of the passengers came from Afghanistan or Iran, and they had paid agents between $2,500 and $5,000 to seek asylum in Australia.

Others claimed to be Iraqi, Pakistani, Turkish or Saudi nationals, and that their papers were lost at sea.

Haidar, the Afghan student, said he flew from Dubai to Indonesia and boarded a boat in West Java.

"We want to go to Christmas Island and live a better life in Australia," he said. "There is nothing in Afghanistan. There's a lot of terrorism. We couldn't study, go to college, find jobs. There's no future for us there."

Thousands of asylum-seekers head through Southeast Asian countries on their way to Australia every year and many link up with people-smugglers in Indonesia for the dangerous sea voyage.

Christmas Island is a favoured destination for people-smugglers, lying closer to Indonesia than Australia. Nearly 50 would-be migrants are believed to have died in wild seas during a shipwreck there in December 2010.

"Our focus today is on the search and rescue effort and our thoughts today are with the people who died and with the families of those still lost at sea," Australian Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said of Saturday's sinking.

"Whenever people make a dangerous journey and risk their lives, I am concerned," he said, adding that Australia had offered an Orion surveillance aircraft to help the rescue effort.

Australia has failed in its efforts to set up a regional processing centre in neighbouring countries to reduce the flow of asylum-seekers heading to its shores.

The number of boatpeople arriving in Australia ballooned to almost 900 in November, with at least nine ships intercepted in Australian waters so far this month.

Ian Rintoul, coordinator of the Refugee Action Coalition, said any sympathy the Australian government or opposition expressed for those who died at sea would amount to "hypocrisy" until the parties adopted humane policies.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees in November said at least nine people were killed when an overloaded vessel capsized in rough seas off Java on the way to Kupang in eastern Indonesia


It is make or break for the clerics in Pakistan

Nasir Butt

LAHORE - 18 December 2011, Fifty religious and political parties of the right wing are likely to revive a political platform like the defunct Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) for upcoming polls.

The mighty show of power of the religio-political parties alliance Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) is expected here today (Sunday) at the historic Minar-e-Pakistan. The sources within the religious parties were confident of a big gathering. However, they said future alliance of these parties for electioneering was entirely dependant on the Sunday gathering. They said public meetings would be held in all provincial major cities including Karachi, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Quetta. They said next public gathering would be held in Liaqat Bagh Rawalpindi on December 20 and these would help them to finalise their future strategy.

During the tenure of former president Pervez Musharraf, religious parties gathered on a platform of Pak-Afghan Defai Council over the issue of the US invasion in Afghanistan and later the consortium concluded on the establishment of MMA.

At the same time, several representatives of religious parties were of the view that a platform for joint political struggle was the need of the hour. It is pertinent to mention here that during last several months former Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Amir Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) central leaders, including JUI (F) chief Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, had been engaged in talks to revive MMA. Many religious leaders are of the view that the religio-political parties alliance would belonged to all sects of Islam as well as all Islamic schools of thoughts.

Announcing to hold public gatherings across the country, Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) has said the US must be told to steer clear of Pakistan as it (Pak) was not an easy prey. During Council’s media briefing here in Lahore, Jamiat-e-Ulema Pakistan Ameer Samaiulhaq said US must refrain from attacking Pakistan’s sovereignty and recognise it as an atomic power just like India. Terming it a clash of civilizations Maulana Samiulhaq said it was an Armageddon between good and evil.

Talking on the occasion Ameer Jamat-ud-Dawah, Hafiz Saeed said NATO’s attack on a Pakistani outpost in Mohmand was a dangerous message conveyed to Pakistan and the religious forces were united.

Jamaat e Islami (JI) Secretary General Liaqat Baloch, while addressing an all parties’ conference under the aegis of the Defa-e- Pakistan Council at a local hotel on Saturday said thousands would throng the Minar-e-Pakistan grounds tomorrow (Sunday), on the call of the Defa’e Pakistan Council and resolve to protect the country’s independence and sovereignty, and to get rid of the elements who had sold the motherland for a few dollars.

He called for bringing to light all the agreements made with the US during the Musharraf rule and scrapping them. He said the Pakistanis were courageous people who would not accept the slavery of the US or India.

Addressing a ceremony held for distribution of ration to the Christian minority by the Al-Khidmat Foundation, he said the minorities in Pakistan enjoyed complete religious freedom and protection. On the other hand, in India which claimed to be the world biggest democracy, the rights of the minorities including the Christians, were denied. Mosques, churches and temples were set on fire and in some cases the members of the minorities had been burnt alive, he said.

During the consultative meeting of the DPC, Awami Muslim League (AML) chairman and PML-Zia group chief Ijaz Ul Haque proposed that public meetings series be continued and also the DPC must be registered as a political party so that the ways be open for an Islamic government in the country but General Hamid Gul opposed the suggestion and said in the first phase, they must concentrate on the announced motives and aims.

The meeting was addressed by Jamat ulDawa Amir Hafiz Saeed, Hafiz Akif saeed, Saif Ullah Khalid, Ibtasam Elahi Zaheer while a large number of religious parties head also attended the meeting.


Peshawar: National Heritage Status for Dilip and Raj Ancestral Homes


ISLAMABAD, Dec 18, 2011 The ancestral homes of Bollywood legends Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor in the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar will be given the status of national heritage sites, a provincial minister said on Saturday.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the information minister of K h y b e r P a k h t u n k h w a province, said both actors were a “source of pride for our land” as they were born in Peshawar and steps would be taken to protect their homes in the famous Qissa Khwani Bazaar.

Mr Hussain made the remarks while interacting with the media during a visit to the erstwhile homes of the Bollywood stars.

He was accompanied by culture secretary Azmat Hanif Orakzai, culture director Pervaiz Khan and well-known artist Jamal Shah.

The minister directed the culture secretary to include the residences of both acting legends in the list of national heritage sites and to contact their current owners for their purchase.

Mr Hussain said the provincial government has decided to make documentaries and stage dramas on the life of these great artists.

“A plan is under consideration to promote our culture by holding conferences at the national and international levels,” he said.

Dilip Kumar was born Muhammad Yusuf Khan at Mohalla Khudadad in Qissa Khwani Bazaar on December 11, 1922.


There is no Muslim effort to overthrow American values

December 17, 2011

The Marietta Times

Lowe's Home Improvement recently pulled its advertisements from the TLC reality show, "All-American Muslim," responding to complaints from the Florida Family Association. The conservative group called the program "propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values."

Lowe's has the right to spend its advertising dollars how it wishes. But it should be made clear: there is no "Islamic agenda" to destroy "American liberties and traditional values." This is not to imply that there is no such thing as "Muslim extremism" (or other religious and secular "extremisms") in the United States or in the world. But there is no concerted American Muslim conspiracy to overthrow religious freedom, the secular state, or other "American values."

According to the findings of the Pew Research Center in 2007, confirmed by a follow-up study in 2011, American Muslims are generally "middle class and mostly mainstream." They believe that their communities are "good or excellent places to live," reject extremism, and "do not see a conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society."

A television show depicting a high school football coach or a business woman, negotiating the day to day demands of American culture and the obligations of their religion, is not "propaganda," but reality for most American Muslims. The Florida Family Association's image of a massive network of extremists secretly conspiring to overthrow the country would be propaganda.

Full Report at:


Minority pockets tilt to Cong

By Sanjay K. Jha

Bareilly, Dec 17, 2011: Large sections of Muslim voters, who can swing the results in about 130 of the 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh, seem inclined towards the Congress in a trend that should worry the Samajwadi Party, interactions during a road trip spread over the past few days suggest.

The community's intelligentsia and clerics may still be debating options but ordinary Muslims in the villages and towns expressed dislike for the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and disappointment with the Samajwadi Party.

A division in Muslim votes will hurt the Samajwadis, who had received almost 45 per cent of the community's votes in the last Assembly elections, and indirectly boost the BSP, which has a strong Dalit base.

The Congress, which polled just over 10 per cent of Muslim votes in 2007, will gain but would be unlikely to emerge as the clear winner. Most observers, therefore, feel that the state may be headed for a hung Assembly, although the poll dates have not been announced yet.

Many Muslims this correspondent met in central and western Uttar Pradesh said the Congress was a better option than the Samajwadis. In Badayun, Mulayam Singh Yadav's stronghold, Muslims said there was sympathy for the Samajwadis but added that most people in the community were looking up to the Congress "for a change".

Several Muslims, especially the youth, said the community had received little from the Samajwadis. They see the Congress as a "party of development". The talk of a sub-quota for backward Muslims within the 27 per cent OBC quota has generated excitement, too.

Some Muslims spoke of the recent economic package for weavers, the targeted central schemes for the minorities and the rural job scheme as points in favour of the Congress ' suggesting that sections of the population do take note of such programmes.

They accused the Mayawati government of working only for "unke log (their people)". The reference is to Jatavs ' not the entire Dalit community ' who have gained during her rule.

A group of Muslims in Faridpur contended that supporting the Congress would be "economically more gainful".

An elderly man, who said most of his fellow villagers had supported the Samajwadis earlier, said: "Public ka dimaag ghuma hua hai is bar (people's minds have changed this time)." He said the anger against the Congress following the Babri demolition had subsided.

At Rasoolpur in Badayun, a group of Muslims said there was no harm trying out the Congress as it appeared better than the rest in terms of development.

Asked how they would vote if a last-minute fatwa favoured Samajwadis, young men asserted nobody could "change the public mind this time".

"What have we achieved in the last two decades by keeping the Congress out of power?" a Muslim businessman in Shahjahanpur said. "We are almost ashamed to reveal that we belong to Uttar Pradesh. Rahul Gandhi is rightly raising the issue of distress migration."


Pakistan PM rules out military intervention


ISLAMABAD: Dec 18, 2011, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani denied a military intervention was imminent against his government over a secret memo that sought US help to prevent a supposed coup.

Tensions between the army and government appear to have soared in recent days as intelligence chiefs demanded an inquiry into the scandal that threatens to implicate President Asif Ali Zardari, who is abroad following an illness.

“There is no room for a martial law in Pakistan,” Gilani said in a brief televised interaction with the media in Lahore, two days after he met army chief General Ashfaq Kayani in Islamabad.

Pakistan’s military, which has staged four coups, remains the chief power-broker in the country.

But Gilani described the memo as a “non-issue” which was being blown up unnecessarily.

The scandal relates to a memo that sought US intervention to prevent a feared military coup in exchange for overhauling Pakistan’s security leadership after US troops killed Osama bin Laden near the Pakistani capital on May 2.

The existence of the document came to light when American-Pakistani businessman Mansoor Ijaz wrote in the Financial Times that Zardari feared the military might overthrow his government.

Ijaz accused Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, a close aide of Zardari’s, of crafting the memo with the president’s support.

Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif filed a petition in the Supreme Court on December 1, demanding to know who was responsible for the document.

In separate responses submitted to the court late Thursday, the attorney general said the petition should be dropped, but Kayani said the memo impacted “national security”.

“Therefore, there may be a need to fully examine the facts and circumstances leading to the conception and issuance of the memo,” the army chief said in his response, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

The court is scheduled to resume hearing Sharif’s petition on Monday.


Bangladesh: War crimes charges pressed against Jamaat-e-Islami leader

Star Online Report

December 18, 2011

The prosecution on Sunday submitted formal war crimes charges against Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Molla to the International Crimes Tribunal.

Seven specific charges have been brought against Quader Molla which includes killings, arsons and loots in Mohammadpur, Mirpur and Keraniganj areas in the capital, prosecutor Mohammad Ali said while addressing a press briefing at the tribunal.

Quader Molla was directly involved with the crimes committed in Mirpur and Mohammadpur areas, the prosecutor said.

He said the prosecution has “enough evidence” to prove the Jamaat leader's involvement in the crimes committed in 1971.

The three-member tribunal fixed December 28 for taking the charges into cognisance against Jamaat leaders Motiur Rahman Nezami, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, Muhammad Kamaruzzaman and Quader Molla.

Earlier, the tribunal fixed Sunday (December 18) for taking the charges into cognisance against Nezami, Mojaheed and Kamaruzzaman after formal charges were placed against them.

But the court today said it re-fixed the date as the tribunal could not take preparation for accepting the formal charges against the three Jamaat leaders.

The tribunal started its day’s proceedings around 11:20am in presence of Nizami, Mojaheed, Kamaruzzaman and Quader Molla.

Later, the counsel for Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee, another accused of crimes against humanity committed in 1971 Liberation War, started cross examination of second prosecution witness Ruhul Amin Nabin.

The cross-examination was continuing till 1:45pm when the report was filed.


Two new women police stations to be established in Sindh

KARACHI: Dec, 18. 2011, Sindh Police has decided to establish two new women police stations in Sukkur and Mirpurkhas, while one in Karachi is being upgraded. The decision was taken during a meeting held at the Central Police Office Karachi with Inspector General of Police Sindh Mushtaq Ahmed Shah in the chair here on Saturday. The IG was also given briefing on initiatives taken for women police projects under US Police Assistance Programme for Sindh Police. Shah issued special directives to South East and East zones police after assessing performance of women police stations in these zones. He said women police should be given special training and necessary facilities according to their abilities. IGP ordered constituting a comprehensive plan to enable women police to conduct investigations and register cases in a professional way, besides providing all legal assistance to female victims. Additional IGP Karachi Akhtar Hussain Gorchani suggested the establishment of shelter homes for women who has been abandoned by their families. IG asked the officials to send all recommendations in this connection through a letter by January 15, 2012. ppi\12\18\story_18-12-2011_pg7_22


India, Pakistan leaders for steps to encourage women entrepreneurs

NEW DELHI:18th Dec, 2011,  Prominent leaders from India and Pakistan today called for concrete steps to empower women in South Asia by enabling them to assert their economic independence through entrepreneurship as a means of eradicating poverty, illiteracy, disease and crime.

Providing women with networking platforms is essential in the current globalised world, said Member of Parliament Najma Heptullah at a seminar organised by industry chamber Assocham here.

The seminar, titled, 'Fostering Women Entrepreneurship - The Way Forward for South Asia', was organised ahead of the visit of an Assocham delegation of business leaders to Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi from January 9 to 14, 2012.

Expressing her views, Pakistan Minister of Social Welfare Nargis Khan said women can play an important role in developing societies and nations.

"The country is exploring new channels to promote entrepreneurship with micro loans. Pakistani women are more empowered now after a prolonged dictatorship in a male-dominated society," Khan said.

Speaking at the seminar, Creative Living Organisation Founder and Chief Executive Officer Harbeen Arora said the formation of women associations and support groups should be encouraged to provide them bandwidth for both critical thinking and also critical mass.

"There is need more than ever for having more examples of successful entrepreneurship by women and inspiring role models," she said.

Qadim Moosarat, the Executive Director of the Paiman Trust in Pakistan, said space for women in economic and political spheres is essential for equitable development and peace in South Asia.

National Youth Congress leader Alka Lamba said both countries have many commonalities and traditional linkages. Indian and Pakistani business leaders should pursue their entrepreneurial ambition by forging economic partnerships with the neighbouring nation to promote core values of unity and peace, she said.


Al Jazeera: Covering the revolutions or fueling them?

Al Jazeera has closely followed the uprisings in the Arab world, and some even say that the Qatar-based satellite station was a factor in them. The station claims it is neutral, though not everyone agrees.

By Akiva Eldar

DOHA, Qatar, 16.12.11 - The entrance to the Al Jazeera compound resembles a closed military base. Security personnel closely examine a driver's passport and identity papers, open the car's glove compartment and thoroughly check the trunk. Since Emir Hamad bin-Khalifa decided to establish the first Arabic satellite television station, in 1996, and then to launch an English sister network a decade later, Al Jazeera has been involved in all wars in the Arab-Muslim world, from Iraq to Afghanistan, Lebanon and Gaza.

Al Jazeera has turned tiny Qatar, which has 250,000 citizens and another 1.5 million foreign workers, into a regional power. British Prime Minister Tony Blair reportedly persuaded U.S. President George W. Bush to drop a foolish plan to bomb this media compound six years ago. A small museum on the edge of the main Arabic broadcast studio has a memorial corner dedicated to Al Jazeera correspondent Tareq Ayyoub, who was killed when the U.S. army shelled the network's Baghdad offices, in 2003. Al Jazeera officials claim the Americans possessed a detailed map showing the precise location of the network's offices. Alongside the draft of Ayyoub's last report is the bullet-ridden shirt of an Al Jazeera photographer killed in Libya. In the middle of this room, below a document proclaiming (in English and Arabic ) Al Jazeera's 10 commandments, a dozen books about the network are prominently displayed.

Full Report at:


Muslim democrat-secular alliances becoming reality

Imtiyaz Yusuf

Special to The Nation December 17, 2011

The recent election in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt, resulting in victory for Muslim democrats, has led to fears among non-Muslims around the world.

They fear the return of violence, terrorism and attacks on non-Muslims. But the fact is that the Muslim democrats have never engaged in such activity. The image of Islam created by the West, depicting Muslims as a violent people, as evidenced in many books written by both Western and Eastern scholars, will not go away easily. The stereotypes about Islamophobia are so deeply ingrained that people are not ready to address their biases and prejudices about Islam and Muslims. No matter how much effort Turkey undertakes towards change to gain EU membership, no matter how many sacrifices the Middle-Eastern Muslims make to change and reform their systems, prejudices about Islam and Muslims will remain for some time.

The Islamic world is still, and will for a long time, be viewed through the lens of Islamophobia, even after the hard struggle by Middle-Easterners to remove dictatorships and embark on the path of democracy. The ghosts of Islam created by Bin Laden and George Bush still hover globally. The notion of a Muslim exception to civilisational change remains deeply ingrained in the psyche. Muslim authoritarian leaders and their cohorts have contributed towards reinforcing Islamophobia, for they try to hold onto their power in order to protect their self-interests, even at the expense of the masses.

The drastic political change that the "Arab Spring" has brought in the Middle East - the outcomes of which are being currently witnessed through the electoral victories of the democratic parties in some countries - should be welcomed as a step in the right direction toward a brighter economic and political future for the Muslim world. It is time to revisit the prejudices against Islam and Muslims.

Full Report at:


Gilani mediates between Army, govt.


ISLAMABAD, DEC. 17, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has cooled down the atmosphere between the Army and the civilian government saying the court will decide the fate of the memogate scandal.

The Army and the government have contradictory views on the memogate scandal which put the weak civilian set-up in danger in a country that had been directly ruled by the military for over half its age as

an independent nation since 1947.

The federation in its reply filed in the Supreme Court has challenged court’s authority to hear the mem

ogate case, while the chiefs of the Army and the InterServices Intelligence (ISI) believe there was enough evidence suggesting that a plot had been hatched against the Army and the country, and called for a through probe into the matter.

In an article published in the Financial Times, Mansoor Ijaz, a US-based Pakistani businessman, claimed that he had drafted and delivered a memo to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen with the help of a top diplomat

on President Zardari’s instructions seeking their help to avert a military coup in Pakistan after the May 2 killing of Osama bin Laden in the garrison city of Abbottabad.

Pakistan’s military reacted strongly to the memo and severed its ties with the PPP-led government.

Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and other military leadership forced the government to sack ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani for his alleged role in the memogate scandal.


Jones: Memo wasn’t credible


ISLAMABAD/LAHORE, DEC. 17, 2011, The retired American general who delivered an alleged memo that sought United States help to stave off a feared coup in Pakistan has said that he believes the document was “not credible”.

Former US national security adviser, Gen. (retired) James Jones has said in an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court that he delivered the memo to former US military chief

Admiral Mike Mullen on May 10 on behalf of Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz.

Mr Jones said Mr Ijaz had told him that the memo contained a message from the “highest authority” in the Pakistan government.

However, Mr Jones said he was not convinced about the memo’s credibility and that Mr Ijaz had never said he was acting on the directions of Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former envoy to the US.

“Upon my reading of the

memo that I was asked to forward to Admiral Mullen, it struck me as highly unusual that the ‘highest authority’ in the Pakistan government would use ljaz, a private citizen and parttime journalist living in Europe, as a conduit for this communication. My personal opinion was that the memo was probably not credible,” Mr Jones said.

Mr Jones submitted the affidavit dated December 12 to Mr Haqqani’s lawyer.

The former envoy is at the centre of a probe being con

ducted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court into the memogate scandal and his legal team has submitted the affidavit in court and will use it to strengthen his claim that he had played no role in drafting or delivering the memo.

In the affidavit, Mr Jones said he “was in private life” at the time when the memo was handed over to Admiral Mullen.

He acknowledged that he had known Mr Ijaz “in a personal capacity since 2006.” — PTI


Three Pakistani high-ranked officials prepared memo: Ijaz

Islamabad, Dec 18(ANI): Pakistan-American businessman, who occupies the centre of the memogate scandal, Mansoor Ijaz has said the memo was prepared by the country' three high-ranked officials.

Ijaz said he personally knew two out of those officials, and added that one of them had asked him to send the memo to US Admiral Mike Mullen, The News reports. Ijaz claimed to have informed about Haqqani in a telephonic conversation with former US National Security Advisor General James Jones, which lasted for 19 minutes and 26 seconds.

Ijaz said along with a memo; he had also sent a covering letter to General Jones, in which mentioned about three officials, who served in the country's military and government.

Ijaz said he was also in touch with two US officials to deliver the memo to Mike Mullen personally Iajz has, however, blackened the names of those US officials in the document furnishing a reply to the Pakistan Supreme Court.

Ijaz said he asked Jones to deliver the memo to Mullen by May 10 to enable the latter to brief key Pakistani officials at White House on May 11. (ANI)


Pak may quit Iran gas project


ISLAMABAD, DEC. 17 2011, Pakistan is under increasing pressure from the United States to abandon its multi-million dollar gas project with Iran, official sources said.

India, the third party in the project, has already quit after differing on pricing formula.

“There is a very real threat of the IranPakistan gas project being abandoned.

Islamabad is under immense pressure from Washington to ditch the project as the likelihood of a war with Iran is growing by the day,” said a senior Pakistani official.

Relations between Pakistan and the US have hit rock bottom following the deadly Nato attacks on two Pakistani check

posts close to the Afghan border that killed 24 military men. The Pakistan Army and government have reacted strongly, by cutting Nato supply-line and asking the US to vacate the Shamsi airbase.

Pakistan has long resisted Western pressure to decouple from Iran, especially since the latter’s alleged quest for nuclear weaponry prompted widespread condemnation and sanctions in an international effort spearheaded by Washington.

Pakistan has been repeatedly advised to consider the T u r k m e n i s t a n Afghanistan-PakistanIndia pipeline as a suitable alternative, a project Islamabad considers unviable in the light of uncertainties.


Kabul: No deal with Taliban over schools


Kabul,, Dec, 18, 2011, The ministry of education strongly denied all the details and contents of this report released by Afghanistan Analysts Network

The Afghan government on Saturday denied making a deal with the Taliban agreeing a more conservative curriculum and more mullahs as teachers in return for an end to attacks on schools.

Responding to a report released by the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), the Afghan ministry of education said it would not cut any deal which could jeopardise the school system.

The AAN report, published on Tuesday, said such deals were taking place at national and local levels, and appeared to be behind a drop in attacks against schools.

The violence peaked in 2006 when dozens of teachers and students were killed and hundreds of schools burned down or forcibly shut, the thinktank said, although these attacks provoked a backlash from local communi

ties. “The ministry of education strongly denies all the details and contents of this report and assure the proud nation of Afghanistan that it will not cut a deal with anyone or any group which could jeopardise the immense and historic gains achieved in the education system,” it said. The AAN report said initial negotiations between the ministry and the Taliban began in 2007 although they were cut short.


Cameron says Britain is a Christian nation


LONDON, DEC. 17, 2011, British Prime Minister David Cameron, in a rare foray into religious issues by any mainstream politician, described Britain as a Christian country and blamed that the “live and let live” philosophy had too often become “do what you please.” “We are a Christian country. And we should not be afraid to say so,” he said while speaking at a function in the Oxford University to celebrate the 400th anniversary year of the King James Bible.

Mr Cameron described himself as a “committed,” but” vaguely practising” Church of England Christian, who “is full of doubts and, like many, constantly grappling with the difficult questions when it comes to some of the big theological issues.”


Kazakhstan Orders Curfew for Oil Town


MOSCOW, Dec 17, 2011 — The president of Kazakhstan declared a state of emergency on Saturday in a town in the western oil-producing region of the country, where striking workers and the police fought the day before, leaving at least 11 people dead.

Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters

The nearly three-week state of emergency allows the authoritarian government to prohibit audio and video recording and establish a curfew in the town, Zhanaozen, and on Saturday human rights activists reported that the road into the town had been blocked by a checkpoint. Journalists trying to go there said their commercial flight had been canceled.

With cellphone coverage intermittent and Internet access in the area apparently blocked by the government, confusion swirled over the scale and causes of what could be the worst civil unrest in Kazakhstan, an oil-rich Central Asian nation, since independence was declared 20 years ago.

Human rights groups and the government were presenting starkly different narratives of what happened.

Nongovernmental groups and independent journalists said protesting workers were venting their rage at a government that had failed to solve a wage dispute involving a state-run employer.

Full Report at:


Israel prepares to free 550 Palestinian prisoners


JERUSALEM - Dec. 18, 2011, Israel was on Sunday preparing to release 550 Palestinian prisoners who will be freed after nightfall to complete a swap deal which brought about the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit.

The release operation was to take place late in the evening, when the prisoners would be bussed to drop-off points near the West Bank city of Ramallah and along the Gaza border.

The Israel Prisons Service said the prisoners would depart from Ayalon prison near Tel Aviv at 7:00 pm (1700 GMT) and would be released to the West Bank, Gaza Strip, east Jerusalem and the Jordan border three hours later.

Among the prisoners earmarked for release is Salah Hamuri, a French-Palestinian who was convicted of plotting to assassinate a Jewish religious leader and had been due to complete his seven-year sentence in March.

There are also six women.

Unlike in the first stage of the deal, which saw the release in October of 477 Palestinians including hundreds serving life for killing Israelis, Sunday's operation will not include anyone "with blood on their hands," officials on both sides said.

The Israel Prisons Service said 41 of those to be freed would be returned to their homes in Gaza, two to Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, two to Jordan and the remainder to the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian officials said there would be a brief welcome ceremony for the West Bank prisoners at the Muqataa presidential compound, but that president Mahmud Abbas would not be present as he would be travelling to Turkey during the evening.

The list of names was published on Wednesday, and an appeal to delay the deal lodged by Israeli victims of Palestinian attacks was rejected by the Supreme Court on Friday, clearing the way for the operation to go ahead.

The names of the prisoners to be released were selected by Israel, and none of them belong to Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Israeli officials said priority had been given to members of Abbas's secular Fatah movement.

Under the landmark swap deal agreed with Gaza's Hamas rulers in October, Israel agreed to free 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit, who had been held in Hamas captivity in Gaza for more than five years.

It was the first time in 26 years that a captured soldier has been returned to Israel alive.


Troops assault Egypt protesters


Protesters fled into side streets to escape the troops in riot gear, who grabbed people and battered them repeatedly Soldiers baton-charged demonstrators in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Saturday a day after street clashes killed eight people and wounded more than 300, marring the first free election most Egyptians can remember.

The violence highlights tensions in Egypt 10 months after a popular revolt toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

The Army generals who replaced him have angered some Egyptians by seeming reluctant to give up power. Others back the military as a force for badly needed stability during a difficult transition to democracy.

Protesters fled into side streets to escape the troops in riot gear, who grabbed people and battered them repeatedly even after they had been beaten to the ground, a Reuters journalist said.

Shots were fired in the air.

Soldiers pulled down protester tents and set them on fire, local television footage showed.

In footage filmed by Reuters, one soldier in a line of charging troops drew a pistol and fired a shot at retreating protesters. It was not clear whether the gun contained live ammunition.

The Army assault followed skirmishes between protesters and troops.

Some demonstrators had been throwing stones near fire brigade vehicles try

ing to douse a burning building.

The bloodshed follows unrest in which 42 people were killed in the week before November 28, the start of a phased parliamentary poll that is empowering Islamist parties repressed during the 30-year Mubarak era, when elections were routinely rigged.

Voting in the second round of a drawn-out election process seen as part of a promised transition from Army to civilian rule by July passed off peacefully on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday’s clashes pitted thousands of demonstrators against soldiers and plainclothes men who were seen at one point hurling rocks from the roof of a Parliament building.

Army vehicles and soldiers were deployed at roads leading into Tahrir Square, the hub of the anti-Mubarak uprising.


Iran arrests suspected American spy

TEHRAN: Iran's Intelligence Ministry said Saturday that its agents have arrested a person of Iranian origin on suspicion of spying for the United States. The ministry said in statement Iran’s secret services identified the suspect at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan.


Pakistan extends detention of mastermind of Lahore attack

A Pakistani judicial panel on Friday extended by a month the detention of banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi chief Malik Ishaq, the alleged mastermind of a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore two years ago.

The three-judge review board of the Lahore High Court extended the detention of both Ishaq and his deputy Ghulam Rasool for 30 days on the request of an officer of the Home Department of Punjab province. Both men were produced before the board under tight security.

Ishaq's detention is set to end on December 23 while Rasool's will end on December 21. Ishaq was released from Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore on July 14 after being imprisoned for 14 years. He was freed after being granted bail by the Supreme Court.Following a string of deadly attacks on the minority Shia community that were blamed on the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Ishaq and Rasool were detained under the Maintenance of Public Order in September.

The Punjab government later shifted Ishaq to a prison in Rahim Yar Khan and his detention was periodically extended. Ishaq was charged in 44 cases, but convicted in only two, for which he received prison terms totalling six-and-a half years. He was acquitted in 34 cases and granted bail in seven others while one case was discharged. Last month, the Supreme Court dismissed the Punjab government's review petition seeking the cancellation of bail granted to Ishaq.

The court said authorities had failed to produce any concrete evidence against Ishaq. Besides the terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009, Ishaq was accused of involvement in the killing of at least 70 people, a majority of them Shias. - PTI


Arab league threat to take Syria to UNSC

Damascus, Dec. 17

The Arab League on Saturday threatened to take Syria to the UN over its deadly crackdown on dissent but an Iraqi mediator said he had “positive” talks in Syria aimed at defusing the nine-month crisis.

Iraqi National Security Adviser Falah al-Fayadh said he was heading to Arab League headquarters in Cairo after holding “positive” talks with President Bashar al-Assad in a bid to end the deadlock over a League peace plan.

“I am on my way to Cairo for a meeting with the Arab League after holding positive talks with President Assad,” Mr Fayadh told AFP after discussing an Iraqi initiative in Damascus.

But the Qatari Prime Minister warned that the Arab League would take Syria to the UN Security Council if it persisted in refusing to allow observers into the country to monitor the protection of civilians.

Arab foreign ministers will meet on Wednesday in Cairo to discuss taking the Arab peace plan to the UN. — AFP


Panetta in Libya on landmark visit


Tripoli, Dec. 17, US defence secretary Leon Panetta said on Saturday that Tripoli could become an important security partner of Washington as he visited Libya for talks with new regime officials. “We are and will be your friend and partner,” Mr Panetta said at a news conference with Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib. “This new and free Libya can become an important security partner of the United States,” he said, adding that Washington was looking forward to building a close partnership.

“We stand ready to offer whatever assistance in the

spirit of friendship and a spirit of mutual respect.” But Mr Panetta, who also met defence minister Osama Jouili, stressed that his talks in Tripoli did not involve military equipment. “At this stage there was certainly no discussions involving arms or military equipment,” he said when asked about the type of security cooperation he envisioned. Earlier he had told the travelling press, including an AFP correspondent, that his brief visit to Tripoli was to confer with the country’s new rulers on the security needs of their government.


UN sanctions on Libya’s central bank lifted


The UN Security Council lifted sanctions on Libya's central bank and a subsidiary on Friday, clearing the way for tens of billions of dollars they hold overseas to be unfrozen to ease an acute cash crisis. The Central Bank of Libya and the Libyan Foreign Bank, an offshore institution wholly owned by the central bank, were taken off the council’s sanctions list drawn up earlier this year amid civil war in the Arab state.

After a rebellion broke out in February against leader Muammar Gaddafi, the Security Council froze Libyan assets abroad, estimated at $150 billion. Most of that sum has remained

beyond the reach of the country’s new rulers.

By late November only about $18 billion in seized assets had been released by special provisions of the Security Council’s Libya sanctions committee, and diplomats said only about $3 billion of that had been made available to Tripoli.

A UN resolution in September eased sanctions, removing them from the national oil company but leaving them largely in place on the central bank and LFB, partly due to legal problems over unfreezing their foreign assets.

Last week, senior figures in Libya’s new leadership wrote to the committee asking it to delist the two banks, which had been sanctioned with two Libya

n investment authorities.

The move was “essential for the economic stability of Libya; for confidence in the banking sector; for the smooth execution and settlement of both domestic and international banking transactions; and to underpin the social and microeconomic stability of the new Libya,” the letter said.


6 convicted for terror attack on IISC in 2005


Six people, suspected to be members of terror outfit LeT, were held guilty of the attack at the Indian Institute of Science here in 2005 that killed a retired professor. The quantum of punishment will be announced Monday.

Bengaluru, Dec. 17: Six people, suspected to be members of terror outfit Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT), were on Saturday held guilty of the attack at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) here in 2005 that killed a retired professor.

The quantum of punishment will be announced on December 19 by Judge V.R.

Revankar of the fast-track court here.

The convicted are Mohammed Riaz-urRehman of Andhra Pradesh, Afzar Pasha, Mehboob Ibrahim Saab Chopdar, Noorulla Khan, Mohammed Irfan, 28, and Nazim Uddin alias Munna, all from Karnataka.

Revankar acquitted the seventh accused, Chandh Pasha of Bengaluru. The six were found guilty of the first major terror attack in Bengaluru.