New Age Islam
Sun Sep 24 2023, 08:08 PM

Islamic World News ( 21 Nov 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Blind Opposition to Shari’ah law smacks very much of Islamophobia


Islamophobia is no myth: Muslims face bias of the 'turban effect'

UK Muslims query on Turkish model

Islamic women pressured by imams to stay in violent marriages

Iran Said to Have Nuclear Fuel for One Weapon

US Election 2008: Who Won, Who Lost?





Blind Opposition to Shari’ah law smacks very much of Islamophobia


FATHIMA IDRIS November 20, 2008

MCA’s outright rejection of the idea mooted by Tun Hamid Mohamed of merging the common law courts and shariah courts smacks very much of Islamophobia (The Star, Nov 14).

The proposal has just been floated and MCA has already concluded that non-Muslims would be subjected to Shariah laws because of this. How did they come to such a conclusion?

It is precisely because of this sort of anathema to the Shariah that we face insurmountable hurdles in resolving conflicts of law.

Taking MCA’s stand to its logical conclusion, it would mean that they would oppose non-Muslims using Islamic Financing or non-Muslim food outlets serving halal food because in both instances the non-Muslim would be submitting to the Shariah.

Perhaps MCA should scrape off the barnacles of prejudice covering it and try and attempt to understand the Shariah.

For instance, it could take a look at how the Shariah works compared to the civil law when someone forgets to update their nomination for EPF. Under the civil law, if a contributor appoints the mother as a nominee and then after marriage dies leaving a wife and children, the EPF payment would all go to the mother whereas under the Shariah in an identical situation, the mother and the contributor’s wife and children would also receive their due share.

However, having said all this, we must bear in mind we are not dealing with just prejudice and ignorance but true and true phobia of Islam.



Islamophobia is no myth: Muslims face bias of the 'turban effect', says study

Recent studies show anti-Muslim tendencies

It turns out Islamophobia is no myth. Researchers in psychology and medicine have found that anti-Muslim sentiment is a very real phenomenon with potentially dire effects on safety and medical care.

During last week's United Nations interfaith dialogue, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon singled out Islamophobia as "a new term for an old and terrible form of prejudice."

Simply appearing Muslim can increase aggressive tendencies towards Muslims a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found. They termed this bias the "Turban Effect."

Perception and aggression

A research team from the University of South Wales in Sydney asked 66 students to play a computer game in which they had to decide whether to shoot at armed and unarmed targets. Some of the targets wore turbans or hijabs (veils), intended to denote Muslim identity, and others had no headwear.

The study found "a significant bias for participants to shoot more at Muslim targets," implying that fast, spontaneous responses were influenced by "underlying stereotypes rather than explicit reasoning."

It found that people in a positive mood were most likely to shoot at the Muslim targets, and that the influence of attire on increased aggressive tendencies were therefore "likely due to acquired negative stereotypes."

But people in the experiment did not even realize their prejudice when the intent of the experiment was revealed to them, according to the study's lead author, Christian Unkelbach.

"The most common response was, 'I'm sure I didn't show that effect,'" he told the Vancouver Sun. "They're uncomfortable and I believe them - people are not doing this willingly. If they could, they would control that. Here, people are almost the victims of what they are fed by their environment."

"Just putting on this piece of clothing changes people's behavior," he added.

Medical bias

Another study found that religious prejudice influenced the way doctors evaluated their patients. The study published in Medical Decision Making found that medical students who thought about their own mortality before assessing the heart-attack risk of patients who were identified as Christian or Muslim gave greater risk assessments to the former than the later.

Thus patients with identical symptoms received different assessments based on their religious identity, a finding with "potentially grave implications" according to the study.

"These patterns are in accord with many previous findings that concern with death motivates people to cling more tenaciously to their cultural beliefs, to like people who support those beliefs and to disparage those who even subtly threaten such beliefs," said the University of Missouri study.

And a new survey in Britain found that prejudice is not limited to adults, either. One in four of the 1,000 children surveyed said they were bullied because of their religious beliefs.



UK Muslims question Turkish model

ANKARA - Britain has been seeking new methods in the fight against radical Islam and extremism. A delegation from the British Islamic Community visited Turkey last week and met with officials from Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate.

The group questioned how imams sent abroad are trained in Turkey, said a Religious Affairs Directorate official. But they did not make a specific request to import the Turkish method, he said.

Turkey has two imams in Britain. The Religious Services Consultancy within the Turkish Embassy in the U.K. is helping Turkish Muslims resolve their religious problems, the unnamed official said. The Religious Affairs Directorate dispatched 125 religious clerics to Europe during the last Ramadan.

The latest trip by leading British Muslims came as part of the program "Projecting British Islam" aimed at building networks and partnerships with Muslim communities overseas.

Various delegations representing a diverse range of British Muslim communities regularly pay visits mostly to Islamic countries and emphasize the favourable position of British Muslims in the U.K. compared to other countries, in particular their ability to freely practice their religion in a non-Muslim country. Their visits are said to be effective in undermining the frequently used narrative that the U.K. and the West are waging a "war on Islam.

"The group believes a predominantly Muslim but secular country straddling between the East and the West can play a key role in tackling extremism.

Extremism threatens both Turkey and the United Kingdom, they noted. They also value Turkey’s mission in the United Nations-led Alliance of Civilizations aimed at fostering inter-faith dialogue.

British Muslims also showed enormous interest in a hadith project carried out by the Religious Affairs Directorate, officials said. The directorate launched the project two years ago with 80 university academics to research if the existing hadiths are original and in compliance with Islam.

"Progress has been made in this research and in the coming days we’ll share the results with the public," said the official from the directorate.

In the meantime, a praying room was inaugurated in the British Embassy during the visit of the British Muslims, it has been revealed. This is seen as another step by Britain to embrace the Muslim community, the official said.

The delegation consisted of scholar and author Aftab Malik, Executive Director, Muslim Women’s Network UK, Shaista Gohir, academician Dr. Anas Al-Shaikh, President, Islamic Society of Britain Dr. Zahoor Qureshi, journalist Navid Akhtar.



Islamic women pressured by imams to stay in violent marriages: research conducted by the Islamic Women’s' Welfare Council of Victoria

Nov 20, 2008

A new report has found Islamic women are being pressured to stay in violent marriages or accept polygamy by some Muslim leaders.

The research found instances of imams suggesting women drop their complaints, or discontinue divorce proceedings when they had gone to their religious leaders for help.

The research, conducted by the Islamic Women’s' Welfare Council of Victoria says a lack of training and regulation for imams is to blame.

Council spokeswoman Joumannah El Matrah says it means vulnerable women are not getting the help they need.

"They're more prone to violence, not being financially supported and they're not enjoying the rights that they would have under the Australian system nor indeed the rights that they would have under the Islamic system of marriage," she said.

She says a lack of regulation means the women are stuck in violent situations.

"Women find themselves in situations where the Australian system may have finalised their divorce but they're still waiting on the religious system to finalise their divorce. So in a sense they're left in limbo."

However, Sherene Hassan from the Islamic Council of Victoria says it does not represent the broader Islamic community because the women interviewed were already accessing welfare services.

"So the women who were in the focus groups were all people who were experiencing problems with their marriage."

"So it’s not a reflection of the wider Muslim community. So these are extreme cases." Source:


Iran Said to Have Nuclear Fuel for One Weapon

By WILLIAM J. BROAD and DAVID E. SANGER, November 20, 2008

Iran has now produced roughly enough nuclear material to make, with added purification, a single atom bomb, according to nuclear experts analyzing the latest report from global atomic inspectors.

The figures detailing Iran’s progress were contained in a routine update on Wednesday from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has been conducting inspections of the country’s main nuclear plant at Natanz. The report concluded that as of early this month, Iran had made 630 kilograms, or about 1,390 pounds, of low-enriched uranium.

Several experts said that was enough for a bomb, but they cautioned that the milestone was mostly symbolic, because Iran would have to take additional steps. Not only would it have to breach its international agreements and kick out the inspectors, but it would also have to further purify the fuel and put it into a warhead design — a technical advance that Western experts are unsure Iran has yet achieved.

“They clearly have enough material for a bomb,” said Richard L. Garwin, a top nuclear physicist who helped invent the hydrogen bomb and has advised Washington for decades. “They know how to do the enrichment. Whether they know how to design a bomb, well, that’s another matter.”

Iran insists that it wants only to fuel reactors for nuclear power. But many Western nations, led by the United States, suspect that its real goal is to gain the ability to make nuclear weapons.

While some Iranian officials have threatened to bar inspectors in the past, the country has made no such moves, and many experts inside the Bush administration and the I.A.E.A. believe it will avoid the risk of attempting “nuclear breakout” until it possessed a larger uranium supply.

Even so, for President-elect Barack Obama, the report underscores the magnitude of the problem that he will inherit Jan. 20: an Iranian nuclear program that has not only solved many technical problems of uranium enrichment, but that can also now credibly claim to possess enough material to make a weapon if negotiations with Europe and the United States break down.

American intelligence agencies have said Iran could make a bomb between 2009 and 2015. A national intelligence estimate made public late last year concluded that around the end of 2003, after long effort, Iran had halted work on an actual weapon. But enriching uranium, and obtaining enough material to build a weapon, is considered the most difficult part of the process.

Siegfried S. Hecker of Stanford University and a former director of the Los Alamos weapons laboratory said the growing size of the Iranian stockpile “underscored that they are marching down the path to developing the nuclear weapons option.”

In the report to its board, the atomic agency said Iran’s main enrichment plant was now feeding uranium into about 3,800 centrifuges — machines that spin incredibly fast to enrich the element into nuclear fuel. That count is the same as in the agency’s last quarterly report, in September. Iran began installing the centrifuges in early 2007. But the new report’s total of 630 kilograms — an increase of about 150 — shows that Iran has been making progress in accumulating material to make nuclear fuel.

That uranium has been enriched to the low levels needed to fuel a nuclear reactor. To further purify it to the highly enriched state needed to fuel a nuclear warhead, Iran would have to reconfigure its centrifuges and do a couple months of additional processing, nuclear experts said.

“They have a weapon’s worth,” Thomas B. Cochran, a senior scientist in the nuclear program of the Natural Resources Defence Council, a private group in Washington that tracks atomic arsenals, said in an interview.

He said the amount was suitable for a relatively advanced implosion-type weapon like the one dropped on Nagasaki. Its core, he added, would be about the size of a grapefruit. He said a cruder design would require about twice as much weapon-grade fuel.

“It’s a virtual milestone,” Dr. Cochran said of Iran’s stockpile. It is not an imminent threat, he added, because the further technical work to make fuel for a bomb would tip off inspectors, the United States and other powers about “where they’re going.”

The agency’s report made no mention of the possible military implications of the size of Iran’s stockpile. And some experts said the milestone was still months away. In an analysis of the I.A.E.A. report, the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington, estimated that Iran had not yet reached the mark but would “within a few months.” It added that other analysts estimated it might take as much as a year.

Whatever the exact date, it added, “Iran is progressing” toward the ability to quickly make enough weapon-grade uranium for a warhead.

Peter D. Zimmerman, a physicist and former United States government arms scientist, cautioned that the Iranian stockpile fell slightly short of what international officials conservatively estimate as the minimum threatening amount of nuclear fuel. “They’re very close,” he said of the Iranians in an interview. “If it isn’t tomorrow, it’s soon,” probably a matter of months.

In its report, the I.A.E.A., which is based in Vienna, said Iran was working hard to roughly double its number of operating centrifuges.

A senior European diplomat close to the agency said Iran might have 6,000 centrifuges enriching uranium by the end of the year. The report also said Iran had said it intended to start installing another group of 3,000 centrifuges early next year.

The atomic energy agency said Iran was continuing to evade questions about its suspected work on nuclear warheads. In a separate report released Wednesday, the agency said, as expected, that it had found ambiguous traces of uranium at a suspected Syrian reactor site bombed by Israel last year.

“While it cannot be excluded that the building in question was intended for non-nuclear use,” the report said, the building’s features “along with the connectivity of the site to adequate pumping capacity of cooling water, are similar to what may be found in connection with a reactor site.” Syria has said the uranium came from Israeli bombs. Source:


US Election 2008: Who Won, Who Lost?

A few weeks ago, I was in a meeting at work when, while discussing a rather contentious issue, someone casually joked along the lines: "You're sounding as if you're going to be put in Gauntanamo." A Muslim female colleague, whom I have known from college, responded something like this: "Actually that's not funny – for some of us, it is not that farfetched." This is the kind of fear many Muslims live in America today. And this was not one isolated feeling.

An article published shortly after elections in Newsweek reported that Muslims had overwhelmingly voted for Obama in the election. According to exit poll data and estimates, 7-8 million Muslims live in America and of all the Muslims eligible to vote, 95% actually went out to vote with 89% voting Democratic. More Muslims have usually voted Republican in the past because the Republican stance on various issues is closer to the Muslim view. Although majority of the Muslims cited economy as the primary reason, politics of fear by Republicans, and a massive anti-Islam campaign played a major role too.

Early last year, I had gone to the screening of the movie "Obsession: Radical Islam's War against the West" in a local church. Unfortunately, the movie was a piece of intense propaganda campaign against Muslims. After making a few statements about 'all Muslim not being terrorists', the movie did not leave any way for the audience to not believe that Muslims are nothing but terrorists – assaults were constantly made on Islam and Muslims, instead of on terrorists. Everything was somehow linked back to Islam although many scholarly studies have unveiled root causes of terrorism and established a lack of link with Islam. But the real damage came when 28 million copies of the movie were distributed in just months before the election primarily in the swing states to influence the vote.

During the election campaign, there were also accusations that Obama was a Muslim as if being a Muslim makes him dangerous or any less American. This was stressed by the media and tacitly as well as explicitly supported in Republicans conventions. Perhaps, by this time, people had seen the movie, and along with smear casting that continued in some of the media outlets, it seemed that the allegations were effective in instilling fear in people. These tactics backfired though because it seems that smears against Obama and distribution of the movie led Muslims to come out in large numbers and vote against the Republican candidate. The percentage of Muslims who voted in this election is probably the highest of any community, race or religious group.

The biggest loss in the last few months has been for the Muslims in America. The sentiment that existed right after 9/11 is returning, and is polarizing American people – except that this time around, fear is purposely being developed in people. A few weeks back, I was speaking at a senior center where the audience was very hospitable and understanding. Towards the end, one person in the audience handed a pamphlet on Jihad and explicitly asked me to comment on it. I was not at all uncomfortable with the fact that the person referred me towards that pamphlet – in fact, I thank him for bringing up an issue that was important to him. However, that pamphlet was an indication of how heavy this campaign against Muslims in America is, a factor that is troublesome to me because it eventually results into hatred against Muslims and breaks the society. Aziz Junejo, a Muslim writer for Seattle Times, noted incidents where fellow citizens accused Seattle Muslim residents as terrorists simply because of their appearance. Such campaigns and acts undermine the unity of the country and implicate the 7-8 million Muslims living in America today.

The biggest win of this election is victory of the candidate who supports unity of this country. Barack Obama's stance from immigration to the economy has been to solve the issues faced by the people, and unite the country to work together. This unity, of course, requires people of all faiths, all races, and all colours to come together and join hands, and that is, in fact, the biggest strength of this country. It also requires people to get across stereotypes and rise above prevailing differences. This is perhaps why millions of Muslims voted for him. You have to have right ideas, and a desire to get people to work together to fulfill those ideas – and he has both.

I sincerely hope that within the next few years, Obama administration will undo at least some, if not all, of the damage, and strengthen ties between America's peoples. I also hope that Republicans in general and we in America in particular, move from people's stereotyping to addressing real issues that are important for the country and the people.

If anything, the attempted McCarthyism of 2008 failed on Obama, but the tactic lives – at least for now.

Ironically, famous words of the first Republican president Abraham Lincoln: "Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Source: