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Islamic World News ( 12 Nov 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Does Dr. Zakir Naik invoking God’s blessing on Yazeed make him a Kafir?

Muslim men 'think they have God-given right to beat wives', claims female Muslim medic

Malaysian court frees blogger: Insulting Muslim

Islam and Obama: American Muslims overwhelmingly voted Democratic

Washington: Obama hints at ‘different approach’ to Muslim world

Muslims must reject extremism by R. G. Mulligan

The Islamist Role in the 2008 Canadian Elections by Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah

New Islamic centre intended as 'bridge of understanding' by Elizabeth Reiss

Terrorists do not have widespread support from the Muslim world

Azhar Usman: ‘Allah Made Me Funny ’

Clerics Issue Fatwas against U.S.-Iraq Pact

Moderate weekly suspended a day after Ayatollah Khomeini threatens media

Kuala Lumpur: Yoga ban for Malay Muslims postponed

The ‘Other’ in Arabic education and culture by Khaled Aljenfawi

Jakarta: Bali bombers executions: A hoax?

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




1.     Does Dr. Zakir Naik invoking God’s blessing on Yazeed make him a Kafir? 

8 Nov 2008, 0452 hrs IST, Mohammed Wajihuddin, TNN

Mumbai: Nearly a year after he stirred up a tempest with his statement that Allah's blessings are upon Yazid, the killer of Prophet Mohammed's grandson Imam Hussein, Dr Zakir Naik is back in the eye of another storm. A section of Sunni and Shia Muslims is up in arms against the Islamic preacher for saying that help should be sought from Allah alone, not even from the Prophet himself.

The 37-year-old suited, bearded Dr Naik who also owns the religious channel Peace TV, is a familiar figure known for his preachings. He founded the Islamic Research Foundation and travels all over the world giving speeches, especially in the Middle East. On Friday, the former medical professional told a news channel that Allah alone should be approached for help. Immediately, a group of Sunni Muslims rushed to home minister R R Patil demanding a ban on his Islamic conference to be held in the city between November 14 and 24.

Dr Naik said he was being targeted for a statement which most Muslims believe in and share. "I stand by what I said," he told TOI. "And I didn't commit any sacrilege. The majority of Muslims across the world believe that Allah is the almighty and help should be sought only from him. Parts of my earlier speeches are being taken out of context and presented with malicious intent."

Last month, a group of Shias in UP put pressure on the administration to stop the series of lectures Dr Zakir Naik was supposed to deliver in Allahabad and Lucknow because of the Yazid controversy.

On Friday, a Lucknow-based mufti issued a fatwa against him for allegedly supporting Osama bin Laden.

"I never supported Osama. I have always been saying that all those who kill innocents are terrorists. So if the USA kills innocents, it doesn't have the right to call Osama a terrorist unless it owns up its own crime. Here again my statement has been twisted," he said.

When asked if he felt threatened, Dr Naik replied, "Only cowards get scared. They have no guts to face the truth and level baseless, false charges. My programme in Mumbai is on and even R R Patil has accepted my invitation."




Muslim men 'think they have God-given right to beat wives', claims female Muslim medic

Domestic violence is more common in Muslim households because men think they have a "God-given right" to beat up their wives, according to a leading female Muslim medic.

By Martin Beckford, 07 Nov 2008

Fatima Husain, a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology, has told how she sees Muslim women coming for treatment with strangle marks around their necks and bruises on their pregnant bumps.

She also claimed that problems develop because many followers of Islam are fearful of discussing sex, contraception and infertility.

Dr Husain, who works at Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals in Berkshire, told the Muslim News that many women ask to be referred to her specialist clinics because she is a hijab-wearing Muslim, allowing her to discover the true scale of domestic violence in her religious community.

She said: "I've seen injuries on some of my patients that I wouldn't dream would happen to pregnant women.

"I've seen strangle marks, finger marks on their necks and bruises on their pregnant abdomens.

"Domestic violence is supposedly equally divided amongst the various groups but I get the impression it is more common in Muslims.

"Some Muslim men think they have a God-given right to be physically violent to their spouses. I see the result of all this when they are admitted as my patients."

Dr Husain went on: "I feel that it is important to talk about issues that are often avoided, especially by Muslims. These often cover areas to do with advanced fertility treatments, contraception issues and psychosexual problems.

"Unfortunately, many misconceptions have developed as a result of a lack of accurate medical information as well as the religious perspective."

The mother-of-two grew up in Brighton before studying at King's College London, and her career took off when she got a job at the IVF clinic at Guy's Hospital.

She said that she is finally starting to see an increase in the number of Muslim couples seeking fertility treatment, despite the stigma it has had among the devout, and added: "I always say a small prayer before I carry out the treatment."



Malaysian court frees blogger detained for ‘nsulting’ Muslims

7 November 2008

A Malaysian high court has ordered the release of blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, on the grounds that his arrest, under the Internal Security Act (ISA), was unconstitutional.

An online social commentator and the editor of news blog Malaysia Today, Raja Petra was arrested on 12 September for threatening national security and potentially "causing tension among the country's multi-racial and multi-religious society".

Articles published online by Raja Petra were deemed insulting to Muslims and to the Prophet Muhammad and were thought defamatory of Malaysia's leaders. The articles in question were 'Malays, the Enemy of Islam', 'Let's send the Altantuya murderers to hell', 'I promise to be a good, non-hypocritical Muslim' and 'Not all Arabs are descendents of the Prophet'.

Speaking to reporters about his release, Raja Petra said, "I'm really glad it's over. I'm really tired. The judge's decision proves there is no justification for my detention. We have to fight all-out and get the ISA abolished."

Judge Syed Ahmad Helmy, of the high court in the state of Selangor, ruled that the Malaysian Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar had acted beyond his powers in having Raja Petra arrested.

The Malaysian government continues to use or threatens to use the ISA against people whom they accuse of being threats to national security, including government critics and those allegedly involved in "terrorist-linked" activities.

The ISA allows the police to arrest individuals they believe have acted, or are "about to" or "likely to" act in a way that would threaten Malaysian security, "essential services" or "economic life" (Article 73 (1) b).

After an initial 60-day detention for "investigation", the ISA allows for detention without trial for up to two years renewable indefinitely, without the detainee being charged with a crime or tried in a court of law. More than 60 other people are still detained under the ISA without charge or trial.

"Amnesty International welcomes Raja Petra's release ", said Donna Guest, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Deputy Director.”We call on the government to stop using this law to control dissent."



Islam and Obama: American Muslims overwhelmingly voted Democratic

Lorraine Ali, Nov 07, 2008

For the past few months, not a day went by without the words "Muslim" and "Obama" being mentioned in the same sentence. From the divisive shouts and jeers at McCain rallies to the Op-Ed pages of The New York Times to an interview with Colin Powell on NBC's "Meet the Press," Muslims—or at least the mention of them—have been more prevalent this campaign year than "Joe the Plumber."

But beyond the use of the term Muslim as a pejorative, and accusations by the far right that Obama was himself a secret follower of the Quran, what did real Muslim-Americans think of the Chicago senator? And how did they vote? The American Muslim Task Force on Civil Rights and Elections released a poll today of over 600 Muslims from more than 10 states, including Florida and Pennsylvania, and it revealed that 89 percent of respondents voted for Obama, while only 2 percent voted for McCain. It also indicated that 95 percent of Muslims polled cast a ballot in this year's presidential election—the highest turnout in a U.S. election ever—and 14 percent of those were first-time voters. The Gallup Center for Muslim studies estimates that U.S. Muslims favored Obama in greater numbers than did Hispanics (67 percent of whom voted for Obama) and nearly matched that of African-Americans, 93 percent of whom voted for Obama. More than two thirds who were polled said the economy was the most important issue affecting their decision on Nov. 4th, while 16 percent said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan informed their vote—numbers that put Muslims roughly on a par with the general population.

Many Muslim Americans also changed their party affiliations for this election. The country's Muslim population, estimated at between 7 to 8 million, has traditionally voted along conservative, Republican lines. Today, more than two thirds of American Muslims polled say they consider themselves to be Democrats, while only 4 percent see themselves as Republicans (29 percent identified themselves as Independents.) The shift began in 2004—in part because of the GOP's mishandling of civil liberties, from wiretapping American citizens to detaining Muslims in the United States and Guantanamo without trial, and because of the war in Iraq. This year, many more were drawn into the Democratic Party by Obama himself. Muslims across the country were captivated by the senator's promise of unity and hope. On the Muslim-Americans for Obama Web site (, their mission statement includes the following: "That we support Barack Obama because, among other reasons, he rejects the politics of fear, challenging our nation to embrace its collective identity, where each American has a stake in the success and well-being of every American."

 "All the Muslim Americans I know were excited and electrified by him," says Salman Ahmed, the New York-based guitarist and singer of the Pakistani-American rock band Junoon. He's dedicated several recent concerts to getting the vote out for Obama. "It was not like 'Good, Obama gets the Muslim world.' It was 'Oh my God! Here's a guy who understands the world, us, America.' Voting for him was a no brainer."

But many Muslims kept their presidential preference a secret in the months leading up to Super Tuesday, fearing that an endorsement from them might in fact work against Obama. After all, this was an election year in which the word "Muslim" was used as shorthand to connote anti-American leanings and a hidden love of terrorism. A recent study by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a media watchdog group, found that the mainstream press didn't do enough to challenge the election-year smears of Islam by such conservative talk show hosts as Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage, or counter accusations that Obama was "one of them" by detractors such as "Obama Nation" author Jerome Corsi. "We are the bogeyman now," joked a secular Muslim woman last month during a conversation regarding Obama (she preferred to remain anonymous). "Yes, I want to shout my endorsement of him from the rooftops, but I do not want to mess up any chance of Obama becoming the next president. How crazy is this position we've been put in?"

But the ploy to connect Obama to a demonized Islam may have backfired. Weeks before the election, a non-profit group which calls itself the Clarion Fund sent out an anti-Muslim DVD titled "Obsession" in Sunday papers across America; copies were also mailed to various voters in swing states. The DVD paired images of Nazis with images of Muslims, over and over and over again. Its arrival on the eve of the election was clearly intended to scare voters into supporting McCain, turning them against the candidate whose middle name happens to be "Hussein." "It was intended to be a way of linking Obama to Islam, but it backfired when a lot of people began saying wait, what's going on?" says Jen'nan Read, a professor of sociology at Duke University. "It not only mobilized many Muslim-American voters, but brought out other undecided voters in support of Obama rather than McCain."

Did Muslims have any apprehensions of their own about Obama? The candidate's stance on Pakistan, and his willingness to sanction military strikes against the nation if the government there did not hunt down terrorist threats to the Americans' satisfaction, certainly troubled some of Pakistani descent. But a greater worry, shared by American Muslims of all stripes, was that Obama rarely seemed to defend them when the word "Muslim" was used as a slur. Instead, it took others like CNN's Campbell Brown and, remarkably, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, to say "and so what if he was?" whenever someone inaccurately accused Obama of being a Muslim. "That was not a deal-breaker for me," says immigration attorney Engy Abdelkader, a New Jersey native and Obama supporter. "I was a little disappointed I didn't hear more from him, but he did say on Larry King that the comments were not only untrue, but insulting to Muslims." Musician Salman Ahmed says he was disappointed too, but felt the need to cut his candidate some slack. "We understood that we could not hold him up to defend the entire Muslim community. It was just an unspoken thing—that he was treading this very fine line."

Muslim-American Web sites, blogs and Myspace pages have gone wild with enthusiastic posts since Obama's win ("Yes We Did!" read one on like Abdelkader say they couldn't be happier, and that Obama's victory reignited their faith in the American dream. "His victory is a reaffirmation of what we were taught growing up in America," she says. "That you're not supposed to judge by religion or the colour of someone's skin. I remember during one of his rallies, it was reported that women in hijabs were asked to move out of camera shot. When Obama found out what his staffers did, his response was to pick up the phone and call those women and apologize. It really resonated with me. What other politician would do that?"



Obama hints at ‘different approach’ to Muslim world

By Anwar Iqbal, Nov 08, 2008

Washigton: US President-elect Barack Obama indicated on Friday that his approach to the Muslim world will be different from that of the Bush administration, saying he would respond “appropriately” to a congratulatory letter from the Iranian leader.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent him a letter earlier this week, saying that he hoped the new US government “can distance itself from present statesmen’s wrong approaches”. This was seen in Washington as a clear reference to President Bush.

Mr Ahmadinejad wrote: “We also want US intervention to be limited to its borders, especially in the Middle East. It is highly expected to reverse the unfair attitude towards restoring the rights of the Palestinians, Iraqis and Afghans.”

Asked at his first news conference since his election if he would respond to the letter, Mr Obama said: “We are reviewing the letter” and will respond appropriately.

He said that issues like America’s relations with Iran were sensitive and he was not prepared to respond to questions on such issues in “a knee-jerk fashion”.

Mr Obama, however, reiterated his earlier stance that the US could not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.

When a reporter asked him if the intelligence briefing he had received on Thursday as president-elect, had forced him to change his views on any issue, he said he would “skip” that part of the question.

There were speculations in the US media that Mr Obama might have to change his election stance, particularly on his declaration of targeting alleged terrorist hideouts inside Pakistan, after getting information about the ground situation from his intelligence team.

Mr Obama also showed respect to his predecessor at the White House, George W. Bush, saying that he was going to meet him on Monday “with a spirit of bipartisanship”.

Mr Obama also refused to be forced into declaring the team he is setting up to run the next US administration and said that it could takes weeks, and not days as some media reports had speculated.

Although Mr Obama began his third day as president-elect with a host of bad news about the US economy, he did not seem nervous.

He showed that he was not going to be pushed into taking action and that he was going to announce a stimulus package to revive the economy when the time comes to do so.

Mr Obama also emphasised that till January Mr Bush was the president of the country and he would take all major decisions.

However, he noted that statistics released on Friday showed that America had lost 1.2 million jobs this year and there were 10 million jobless people in the country.

Mr Obama said that his plans for rescuing the US economy would cater to the middle class, focussing on creating jobs and providing tax breaks to them. He also promised to revive the ailing US auto industry.



Muslims must reject extremism

R. G. Mulligan, Nov 07, 08

In response to the column, "Muslim-Americans fight and die for their country," most Americans agree that the vast majority of Muslims are peace-loving people with mainstream outlooks, values and attitudes who are taking their rightful place in our society like the many waves of immigrants who came before them.

The concern of some is with political Islam, the extremists, "a radical ideology concocted by hijacking and twisting the peaceful and spiritual faith of Islam for purposes of political hegemony."

The author of these words is M. Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and a physician in private practice who spoke recently at the University of Florida.

To gain additional insight into the number of Muslims who may hold these extreme views, refer to a book by Dalia Mogahed, executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies and Prof. John Esposito of Georgetown University. Their book, who speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think, is based on a Gallup Poll, the largest of its kind.

They found that most Muslims admire the West for its democracy and rule of law. Unfortunately, they also found that a radicalized group of 7 percent, some 100 million Muslims around the world, thought that the Sept. 11, 2001, attack "was completely justified; they have a heightened sense of being threatened and dominated by the West."

How to cope with this radicalized element in a rational and reasonable way is the challenge facing America and other developed nations today. To meet this challenge. Jasser outlined principles for moderate Muslims

For instance, he suggests the rejection of lslamism as a political ideology and the rejection of the Islamic state (Shariah law).

Moderate Muslims would do well to heed Jasser's principles.

Speak out more "against terrorism and militant Islamists in the U.S. and around the world."

This can only hasten our path to a more secure and better life together!



The Islamist Role in the 2008 Canadian Elections

By Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah

November 08, 2008

If you are Canadian and Islamist, you probably voted for the New Democratic Party (NDP), which won 18.2% of the vote on October 14, 2008. This was an increase in of about 1% in the vote and led to seven more seats from the 2006 elections. However, the party could not budge itself from its permanent 4th place in Canada's parliament.  Endorsed by the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC), the left-leaning NDP has shown an incredible lack of understanding of the Islamist agenda and how soft jihadis are using democratic institutions by manipulating our respect for multiculturalism.

As a political ideology, in the long-term Islamism seeks to establish an Islamic state in the North America, but this is barely mentioned by the suave and polished young Islamists who appear in expensive suits and with a flourish of legalese and the right disarming accents. While a Taliban style overthrow is unlikely, in the short term, Islamists hope to fundamentally change western foreign policy in favor of the foreign governments that fund them and organizations they ideologically adhere to, such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

Recognizing this threat, Marc Lebuis, who runs www.pointedebasculecan, invited moderate Muslims Tarek Fatah, Salim Mansur and me to participate in a conference in Montreal to address the infiltration of Islamists into the Canadian political system, where the first real arena has been the NDP.

The NDP was founded by social democrats, and was originally, as noted by Mansur, a critical opponent of Communism, and a key element in "denying communists in Canada the opportunity to acquire any shred of legitimacy by posing as defenders of the working people."  Today, however, it allows itself to be used by an equally potent ideological enemy, radical Islamism.  The working class in the West now includes immigrants, who as ethnic and religious minorities complain of the classic oppression against which the NDP wishes to be a voice of protest.

But, the NDP fails to distinguish between the socio-economic concerns of Muslim immigrants in Canada and the well-funded, ideological organizations that purport to speak for them.

The Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) is one such organization. The President of CIC, Mohammad El-Masry, is notorious for his anti-Semitic statements, his call for Sharia courts in Canada, and agitation for an anti-Israeli foreign policy.

Canadian Muslims mattered in this national election because they were, some argued a swing vote in certain ridings. El-Masry endorsed the NDP, and encouraged voter registration to bolster it. Jack Layton should have repudiated Elmasry's support but did not.

Toronto NDP candidate and lawyer, El Farouk Khaki caused a stir recently when he defended a Muslim youth convicted for his involvement in a terrorist camp in Canada.  After the judge threw out the youth's defence that "no real Toronto terrorist group existed because its goals were too fanciful to be achieved," Khaki stated that if you are Muslim in Canadian courts you will be presumed guilty until proven innocent. He went on to accuse the judge of having an anti-Muslim bias. This plays into the victim-hood complex Islamists want Muslims in the West to fall into.  Khaki was not chastised by NDP leader Jack Layton or any other party candidate.

In Montreal, the NDP paraded Samira Laouni, as "the first veiled candidate," in the province. She ran from the riding of Bourassa and made no attempt to hide her support for what she referred to as "real shariah.” She did not win. Jack Layton should have vetted out NDP candidates who favor Sharia like Laouni, whom Mansur has called a "CIC operative."

It seems strange that with Canadian forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, the same support for Taliban style orthodoxy is allowed in Canada.  Besides, pro-Sharia politicians like Laouni, Islamists are spreading their message on the street. In Mississauga, Ontario, a woman by the name of Farhat Hashmi runs an Islamic school for girls. Hashmi wears a full niqab (face covering) and encourages young girls to emulate her. She is known for promoting a very conservative Islamic ideology that is based on Wahhabism.  She, like other Islamists is in favor of Sharia in Canada.

The results of the Canadian election were an eye-opener because all Muslim candidates from all parties lost, with the exception of Yasmin Ratansi, who for some time has been trying to distance herself from her Muslim identity despite being the first Muslim woman to get elected to the Canadian parliament..

This is a clear indication that because of the incessant and unreasonable demands by Islamists, Canadians punished all Muslims.  Most ordinary Canadians, well-meaning and decent folks, are fed up with demands for unreasonable accommodation and are no longer willing to put up with politics disguised as religion in the public sphere. Although Canadians are politically correct and diplomatic in public, the election result shows their true feeling about the trend that Muslims who may have an Islamist agenda are not welcome in Canada. Of course, the usual suspects are already screaming Islamophobia - again.

There is no rampant Islamophobia in Canada - only an attempt at gradual Islamization.

Yasmeen Ratansi was first elected in 2004 but when she sought the nomination of her party, some Imams denounced her as not being Muslim enough because she did not cover her hair and wore skirts. She is currently Chair of the Standing Committee on the Status of women.

In two districts (ridings as they are called in Canada) the Muslim candidates who lost were openly hostile to the Islamist agenda. Wajid Khan in Toronto and Rahim Jaffer in Edmonton. It is rumored that the full force of the Islamist establishment and the mosque structure came out to defeat these two Muslims because they were seen, in the words of one cynic "too good looking to be considered authentic Muslims".

Elsewhere, a leading supporter of the Islamist causes and past Member of Parliament, Omar Alghabra was defeated. He has previously condemned Canadian newspapers that called Hamas and Hezbollah "terrorist" organizations, advocated the complete repeal of Canada's anti-terrorist laws, and supported Sharia law in Ontario.  Throughout the urban districts of Canada, many Islamists tried to sneak through but met with thumping defeats. Along with the Islamists, many secular and liberal minded progressive Muslims were also trounced in what may be described as "collateral damage."

The lesson for all Muslims is written on the wall: If they are unwilling to stand up to the Islamists in their communities and stop the influence of Saudi Arabia and Iran, we will all suffer because of the actions of a few.

Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah write for Islamist Watch, a project at the Middle East Forum.



New Islamic center intended as 'bridge of understanding'


November 8, 2008

Muslim community members broke ground Friday on a second building in the city that will allow more space for a growing Islamic community to hold religious and community events.

"This will be a resource to provide a familiar place to go for those who come here and are adjusting," said Asif Zabih, Islamic Center president.

The two-story, 10,000 square-feet Islamic Center at 1600 W. Seventh St. will serve as a soup kitchen, Mosque, medical clinic, Saturday school, day care and community hall.


"We hope this center will build a bridge of understanding between the Muslim faith and others," said Qadir Aware, a member of the Muslim community.

The center also will handle weddings, funeral services and family counselling. All of the services are provided by volunteers and are free for anyone in the community, Zabih said.

It is being funded by four years of private donations and will cost $500,000, Zabih said. The expected completion is within a year.

The current Islamic Center at 1909 E. 6th St. has become too small for its growing population in Sioux Falls, Zabih said.

Volunteers teach 80 children at the center's school, and Zabih. Many more are expected at the new one.

Members say the 1,200 square-foot building can barely accommodate worshippers during Friday prayer or Eids, which are Muslim holidays.

There are 2,000 people from the Islamic community living in the city, Zabih said. About 400 of them are active members of the Islamic Center. In 2004, the population of Muslims in Sioux Falls was 1,100. Reach reporter Elizabeth Reiss at 331-2326.



Terrorists do not have widespread support from the Muslim world

By Christopher Quinn, November 08, 2008

Many Muslim beliefs are compatible with Western values. Terrorists do not have widespread support from the Muslim world.

Those were some of the surprising findings in a survey of tens of thousands of Muslims in 40 countries. The Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, a division of the U.S. polling firm, also talked to Americans and Europeans.

Dalia Mogahed, the centre’s director, helped guide the polling. She co-wrote a book published this year about the research, “Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think,” and she’ll speak in Atlanta today at the Building Bridges Award Dinner, sponsored by the Islamic Speakers Bureau (Atlanta).

The Journal-Constitution spoke with Mogahed about some surprising findings.

Q: What were some of the common denominators you found between Westerners and Muslims?

A: Some of the commonalities that we found were, interestingly, in the way that people viewed what were right about the West. Americans said the thing they most admired about the West as a culture, as a civilization, was technology and liberty and democracy. And these were also things that we found Muslims admired most about the West.

Interestingly, what is wrong with the West is also something we have in common with Muslims. Muslims said it was the breakdown of moral values, moral decay, and those were the responses of Americans as well. Americans said they were concerned about the moral decay of society.

What was strikingly different is how American and Muslim societies viewed the Muslim world. Americans found little to admire, but Muslims feel their greatest asset and their society’s greatest asset is their faith and the values that are derived from religion as well as their family values.

Q: Don’t religious Americans think this also about themselves?

A: Religious Americans are most concerned about the lack of traditional values in the West and would look more like the Muslim opinion of the West. So religious Americans have more in common with Muslims on social morality than they do with fellow Christian Europeans. [Mogahed cited a poll question about the morality of extramarital affairs: A majority of the French said it was OK; less than 5 percent of Americans said it was.]

Q: Did other things surprise you?

A: Another common denominator I thought was interesting and surprising is the degree to which there is a similarity in the view in regard to what Muslims need to do to improve relations with the West. [Muslims’] most frequent response was to help control extremism and fanaticism and helps modernize for progress. [The polling showed about 7 percent of Muslims thought the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were completely justified.]

Q: Do the differences make you despair of ever reaching some sort of equilibrium between the two sides?

A: I don’t believe that is the case. I think that much of the problem is of one not knowing the other. We do have tools now, finally, where we can make what people really think available in an accurate and representative way. We can let the mainstream majority speak for itself on both sides rather than have the conversation monopolized by a vocal fringe.

Read more on Gallup’s results: Click on More Topics in the top bar, then Muslim World.



‘Allah Made Me Funny ’

Azhar Usman brings his gentle stand-up comedy to a nervous world, says NISHA SUSAN

AFAUX BRICK wall behind the stand-up comic is, one’s told, a staple in American comedy clubs, a reminder of impoverished times for comedians. One can only imagine the much thicker, invisible walls before Azhar Usman, a standup comic who dresses like an orthodox Muslim in a time when both ends of the political spectrum will not laugh at anything about Islam: one end out of fear and rage, the other out of political correctness.

Usman who is in India and Pakistan this week, says, “I will definitely do lots of material about India and being Indian on this tour. I am very excited to see how audiences respond.” But you may be familiar with Usman already. You may have watched Usman online, in the character of Tinku Patel, an Indian Muslim filmmaker, as he disarms a garrulous desi taxi driver into pronouncing what percentage of black men are criminals. “17.5? 1.3?” As the one-eyed sheikh, Usman is apoplectic that the Grammy committee gave U2 an award for How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. “For bomb you come to me!” he shouts.

But Usman, born and raised in Chicago, the son of immigrant parents from Bihar, is best known for his far more gentle stand-up comedy, framed by a bristling beard. As one of three comedians on the Allah Made Me Funny comedy tour, Usman has done hundreds of shows on five continents, performed on CNN and Al-Jazeera, in Texas in front of former Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff, and in parts of the Middle East .

Before he took to comedy in early 2001, the man often called the funniest Muslim in America was another pet object of American humour: a lawyer. “People often ask how my act has changed since 9/11. The honest answer is that it is has not changed very much.The thing that has changed is the rising interest in the work of Muslim comedians.” Usman likes to say that when he’s travelling he gets dirty looks on the street for being Muslim, but that it’s a pleasant change from getting dirty looks for being American.

Some of Usman’s routines is boilerplate material for a ‘self-deprecating minority comedian’ — mocking himself, family, pompous uncles who boast about the size of the Muslim population, white people’s peculiarities and fears. Usman’s not roll-in-the-aisles funny but the goodwill comes rolling. It’s a worrying thought, the idea of his performance being embraced for political correctness, when humour is about the absurd, the out-of-place, inappropriate, even simple silliness.

Usman himself says sweetly that he sometimes suspects factors other than his material (“power disparities”) are responsible for how popular jokes about Americans are outside the US. In turn, you suspect that Usman has a broad streak of seriousness. That he would be happier telling you straight about the tradition of humour in Islam, that the Prophet Mohammed and his companions were all known to enjoy a good joke. But this leaves you even more worried about a world that puts anyone in the position of having to explain that he is allowed by his religion to laugh.

“I consider myself a Muslim, and try my best to practice a balanced, spiritual, and classically informed brand of Islam. That said, I think most ‘religious’ people take themselves way too seriously. My all-time favourite bumper sticker says: ‘Dear God, save me from your followers’.”

Azhar Usman will be performing in Delhi, Mumbai and Pune this week.

From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 45, Dated Nov 15, 2008



Clerics Issue Fatwas against U.S.-Iraq Pact

November 7, 2008

As the signing of the U.S.-Iraq long-term security pact draws near, senior clerics from both inside and outside Iraq - most of them Shi'ite - have been opposing the pact in attempt to influence the Iraqis to reject it. To this end, they have issued fatwas depicting it as against shari'a, and have explicitly called on the Iraqi leadership to vote against it.

In addition, Iran itself has launched a campaign against the pact. The Saudi daily Al-Watan recently reported, citing senior Iranian sources, that Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani plans to visit Iraq and Lebanon in the next few days, and that he will be carrying letters regarding the pact from the jurisprudents of Qom to influential Iraqi jurisprudent 'Ali Al-Sistani and to Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. [1]

Following are excerpts from recent fatwas regarding the pact.


Shi'ite Lebanese Jurisprudent Fadhlallah: No Legitimacy for Iraqi Regime that Supports Occupation

Shi'ite Lebanese jurisprudent Ayatollah Hussein Fadhlallah said in response to queries from Iraqi MPs regarding the pact: "On the strength of my status as a [senior] jurisprudent, and [in light of] the great historic responsibility we are facing, let me say that any pact, document, contract or memorandum signed by the Iraqi government - or by any [other] representative of the Iraqi state - with the American occupying forces must include the following: [explicit] mention of the withdrawal of the occupying forces from Iraq, with no restrictions or conditions; no linkage [whatsoever] between the full withdrawal of the occupying forces and the stability of the security situation in Iraq...; a definite and short timeframe for the full American withdrawal from Iraq...; acknowledgement of national and Islamic principles that are not subject to negotiation or discussion, especially those regarding Iraq's sovereignty, independence and future and the protection of its abilities and resources...; [a stipulation that] no Iraqi authority, institution or body, whether official or unofficial, can legitimately impose occupation upon the [Iraqi] people, [nor] work to legitimize or prolong the presence [of the occupying forces] on Iraqi soil, enable [the occupiers to benefit] from [Iraq's] capabilities, resources, and decisions, or grant them legal license to contravene Iraqi law...

"There will be no stability in Iraq without a full withdrawal by the occupier." [2]


Iranian Shi'ite Jurisprudent: The Pact Is Humiliating and Forbidden by Shari'a

Shi'ite Iraqi jurisprudent Ayatollah Kadhim Al-Hairi, who has resided in Iran since the 1970s, reiterated his prohibition against signing the pact. In a communiqué issued by his office in Najaf, Al-Hairi stated that the pact would cause Iraq "to lose its national sovereignty [and gain nothing but] humiliation [in return]." He added that the pact "must not be signed," even though "the occupying forces were pressuring the Iraqi government to accept it."

Addressing "all Iraqis involved in this matter," Al-Hairi warned that "[if] anyone aids the occupiers, his crime will never be forgiven by Allah, by the oppressed [Iraqi] nation, by the blessed Shi'ite religious institutions or by any conscientious Muslim who believes in the Day of Judgment." [3]


Sunni Council of Muslim Clerics in Iraq: The Pact Contravenes Shari'a

The Council of Muslim Clerics in Iraq, a Sunni body, likewise issued a fatwa against the pact, on the grounds that it contravened both shari'a and international law. The fatwa said: "The security pact between Iraq and the occupying American administration is null and void, [because] shari'a prohibits it and no person is allowed to accept it on behalf of the nation, not even Emir Al-Mu'minin (the leader of the Muslim nation).

"[The pact] contravenes shari'a because it requires Muslims to fight under the command of non-Muslims. The [Iraqi] government may not sign this pact, for it is the weak party that cannot resist the will of the strong party, namely the occupier. Consequently, this is a pact between a weak [side] and a strong one, or an imposed agreement, as defined by international law." [4]

The council also portrayed the pact as a threat to Iraq's neighbours. Council member Muhammad Bashar Al-Faidhi said on October 22, 2008: "The pact is a threat not only to Iraq but [also] to the neighbouring countries, and I do not think that any of them will agree to the presence of American forces near its borders... If the pact is approved, it will be by force - and this contravenes international law... The national forces in Iraq will work to prevent [the signing] of this pact." [5]


Senior Iraqi Cleric Al-Sistani: History Will Judge the Iraqi Parliament For Its Decision On This Pact

Senior Shi'ite Iraqi cleric Ayatollah 'Ali Al-Sistani called on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to resist U.S. pressures and to refrain from signing the pact as currently stands. However, he stated that he would leave the final decision to "the Iraqi parliament, people and political parties." [6]

Two days later, however, he took a firmer position. His representative Ahmad Al-Safi reminded the Iraqi parliament of the historic responsibility it was facing, and added: "The Iraqi people will reject any concessions on [Iraq's] sovereignty and independence. This generation, and those to come, will not forgive those who were negligent in [fulfilling] this important historic duty."

Al-Safi also stressed that although Al-Sistani had authorized the parliament to decide on the pact, he nevertheless had his own opinion of it. A source close to Al-Sistani reported that following a meeting with Al-Maliki, the ayatollah had taken the prime minister's hand and said: "I do not want this hand to sign the pact." [7]


Muqtada Al-Sadr to Iraqi MPs: "You Must All Vote Against It"

Sadrist leader Muqtada Al-Sadr [8] warned the Iraqi parliament against approving the pact. In a speech read on his behalf at the Sadrists' annual anti-occupation rally in Baghdad, he addressed the Iraqi parliament, saying: "[The decision on] the pact is in your hands, and therefore the fate and the reputation of Iraq is in your hands. So beware of voting for [the pact]; in fact, you must all vote against it...

"If you have been told that it will put an end to the occupier's presence in our land, [know that] the occupier will leave his bases [here]. And if someone has told you that [the pact] will grant you sovereignty, [know that this person] is a liar...

"The government has evaded the responsibility [of deciding on the pact], and has passed it on [to you]... Years from now, the signing of this pact will be a mark of shame upon the foreheads of Iraq and its government... I have submitted a query in this matter to the clerics and jurisprudents, and I hope they will respond." [9]


Jordanian Islamists: The Pact Is Merely Occupation In A New Guise

Jordanian Islamists have also condemned the pact, calling on the Iraqi people to oppose it. Rahil Al-Gharaibeh, spokesman for the Islamic Labor Front, a bloc of several Islamist parties in the Jordanian parliament, said at a press conference that the pact was merely "the new guise of the occupation," and that it was dictated by the occupying forces.

He added: "[This pact] does not reflect the free will of the Iraqi [people]... No military, security, or political pact signed under occupation is legitimate... The Arab and Muslim masses reject any pact that grants immunity to the soldiers of the American occupation and harms the rights of the Iraqi citizens." [10]

[1] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), October 22, 2008.

[2], October 21, 2008.

[3] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), October 22, 2008.

[4] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), October 15, 2008.

[5] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), October 23, 2008.

[6] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), October 15, 2008.

[7], October 17, 2008.

[8] In recent months, Al-Sadr has been absent from the political arena. The daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi has reported, citing the Iranian website Tabnak, that Al-Sadr has been studying in the city of Qom, Iran, for certification as a jurisprudent, so that he can reinforce his political authority with religious credentials. According to Al-Quds Al-Arabi, he will be granted the rank of faqih, or religious leader authorized to issue fatwas, in 2010. Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, October 15, 2008.

[9] Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), October 19, 2008.

[10] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), October 23, 2008.



Moderate weekly suspended a day after Ayatollah Khomeini threatens media

7 November 2008

The moderate weekly Shahrvand Emrouz was suspended on 5 November at the behest of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance after publishing four issues in a row with portraits of politicians seen as potential presidential candidates. In a separate development, an online woman journalist has been sentenced to six months in prison on a national security charge.

The suspension came one day after a violent diatribe by Ayatollah Ali Khomeini against press criticism of the government. “This irresponsible atmosphere consisting of speaking out against the government will not be easily forgiven by God,” Iran’s Supreme Leader said, a few days after condemning the “premature” start of election campaign in the media as “contrary to the government’s interests.”

“Ayatollah Khomeini’s last public attack on the media, in 2000, signalled the start of an unprecedented crack-down on pro-reform publications in which more than 200 newspapers were suspended,” Reporters without Borders said. “We fear that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government will step up the pressure on the opposition press in the run-up to the presidential election scheduled for June 2009.”

The press freedom organisation added: “More than 30 news media have been censored by the government since the start of the year. At the same time, Ahmadinejad’s allies are in the process of launching new publications that will be extremely useful for his re-election campaign.”

The Commission for Press Authorisation and Press Surveillance, an offshoot of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, ordered the Farsi-language Shahrvand Emrouz’s suspension on 5 November for “publishing political articles without an appropriate licence.” According to the commission, it is only licensed for coverage of cultural and social developments.

Launched in March 2007 by Mohamad Atrianfar, an ally of former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Shahrvand Emrouz is produced by the former staff of Shargh, a pro-reform daily that was banned in 2007.

Ahmadinejad allies started up two new daily newspapers in the past month. Khorshid (“The Sun” in Farsi) was launched on 4 October by a former government spokesman, with funding from the social security agency, but has already stopped appearing following a dispute within the management. The other daily, Vatan Emrouz (“Fatherland Today”), was launched just a few days ago by a former Ahmadinejad adviser.

The online journalist who has just received a six-month jail sentence for “activity liable to harm national security” is Solmaz Igder of the Canon Zeman Irani ( website. Handed down by a revolutionary court in Rai (south of Tehran), the sentence was notified to Igder orally. The court’s refusal to give her any written notification of the sentence has prevented her from getting a lawyer for an appeal.

“The Iranian courts are totally subservient to the government,” Reporters without Borders said. “Dissident journalists never get a fair trial and now Solmaz Igder is even being denied the possibility of appealing against her conviction.”

Igder was previously arrested on 29 August for taking part in an annual demonstration by relatives of political prisoners executed in 1988 on Ayatollah Khomeini’s orders. The demonstrations had been banned that day. She was released from Evin prison on 10 September on payment of 1 billion rials (85,000 euros) in bail.



Yoga ban for Malay Muslims postponed

November 07, 2008,

Kuala Lumpur: The announcement of a ban on practice of yoga by Malaysian Muslims was postponed on Friday, but that has not stopped the debate on if, and how, yoga can affect the faith of those practising it.

The ban was scheduled on Friday. But it was put off because the National Fatwa Council chairman Abdul Shukor Husin was overseas on official business, Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) Director-General Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz said.

"A news conference will be held to make the announcement and the date will announced later," he told Bernama, the official news agency.

A lecturer of University Kebangsaan Malaysia's (UKM) faculty of Islamic studies, Zakaria Stapa, said recently that yoga, which is based on Hindu elements, could affect the faith of Muslims practising it.

Yoga can make Muslims deviate from Islam, he said and pointed out that yoga could be traced back to Hinduism. He urged Muslims to stop yoga practise.

However, joining the ongoing debate, many yoga instructors and practitioners say they regard this ancient form of exercise as nothing more than a healthy pursuit.

How stretching and breathing can be threatening to one's faith, they asked while talking to The Star newspaper.

The experts urge religious officials to attend classes and observe how it is taught first before coming up with an edict.

"If they do, they will see that it is purely physical," claims yoga teacher Roslin Mohammed Daud, a Malay Muslim.

"It is not like the enthusiasts here are all running off to India, living in ashrams and surrendering themselves without question to a guru. Here, I believe Muslims will go where they are comfortable with to learn yoga," he said.

Guidelines on the practice of yoga among Muslims are welcome, but not an outright ban, experts said.

This issue is, however, not a new one, or unique to Malaysians.

Around the world, debates have simmered through the years about whether yoga, which has been described as "incorrigibly religious”, is in conflict with Christianity and other faiths.



The ‘Other’ in Arabic education and culture

By Khaled Aljenfawi

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “Other” refers to both an adjective and a pronoun used to “refer to a person or thing different from one already mentioned or known.” Other meanings of the word “other” designate an “alternative of two” or “those not already mentioned (p. 388).” However, figuratively, the “Other” can also refer to “the ultimate signifier of everyone the subject [one who does action] is not, as well as everything the Subject does not have (Columbia Dictionary of Modern Literary and Cultural Criticism, p. 216).”  In uses that are more mundane, or let us say in everyday language, the “other” is that “one” who is not “me” or who is different from “the I and us.”  Throughout human history, the term “other” has always been associated with those individuals whom the majority of the population decides to portray as “outsiders” or “foreigners.”

These somewhat differing perspectives of the “Other” underline the ambiguous meanings one can assign such a vague term. In rare cases, especially in highly-advanced societies, such different connotations of the word “Other” seemed to have opened up windows of opportunities for exploring the possibilities one can achieve by cooperating with those who are different from “us.” Unfortunately, however, the “Other” in our Arab/Middle-Eastern social and cultural environments tends to include whomever the government or the Arab public are determined to alienate or forcibly banish from the local environment, usually any individual or group who are either non-Arabs or non-Muslim or whoever the dominant local group deny the right to be different!

Therefore, there seems to be a resolute effort in typical Arab culture and society to manipulate the term “Other” for many different national or local purposes. As a case in point, in the Arab world and due to a historical, haphazard designation of its human identity, the “Other” must always become the “enemy of the people” or the “enemy of the faith.” Such Arab/Muslim discourse continues to create rifts between the outside world and the Arab Muslim worlds. Though all Arab countries have signed the 1995 Unesco Declaration of Principles on Tolerance in human societies, our general cultural awareness about the “Other” places it in the role of the enemy. Without being able to understand the “Other” as a normal human being who happens to be different from the rest of the population, many Arab generations continue to invest in misrepresentations of those who are different.

For example, in schoolbooks of most Middle-Eastern curricula, the “Other” is usually portrayed as the enemy. He or she tends to be non-Muslim, preferably Christian or Jewish, and sometimes another Muslim individual who happens to hail from a different Islamic sect. In the case of Christians and Jews, a typical Arab curriculum usually represents them not as real, individual persons who breathe, eat, suffer, and die just like Arabs or Muslims, but rather as members of a threatening, alien group, using techniques of dehumanization and deionization. At times, it is taken to the extreme and calls for the annihilation of the “other.”

Excerpts from the curriculum of a major Arab country are illustrative: “The struggle of this nation [i.e., the Muslim nation] with Jews and Christians goes on, and it will last for ever...Jews and Christians are enemies of the believers [i.e., the Muslims]...(pp. 148-149); “the Day of Judgment will not arrive until the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims will kill them (pp. 148-149).”  There are, however, some glimpses of progress in attempting to reach out to the “Other” and trying to understand and accept its difference. The state of Qatar, for example, is almost the only Arab country to implement positive changes in its national curriculum. By introducing new perspectives about spreading tolerance through education, as part of a comprehensive educational reform program, designed to provide pupils in both the K-12 system and Post-Secondary Education with world-class education, Qatar has become a role model, which other Arab countries need to emulate if they wish to provide their younger generations with the same. Qatar launched this project with the help of The RAND-Qatar Policy Institute.

The RAND Corporation is an internationally known think-tank helping policy makers around the world improve decision making. The outcome of such progressive educational programs in our Gulf region will no doubt help open a healthy debate about the position of the “Other” in our societies. Positive reform was undertaken by Tunisia as well, and Tunisian textbooks emphasize the importance of tolerance, peace and dialog with the “other,” equality between all human groups, openness toward the “other” and its culture (the West), use of religion for universal rapprochement, rather than alienation, and restriction of the ideals of jihad and martyrdom to historical events. The following excerpts are illustrative: “A funeral procession went by [in Medina] and the Prophet [Peace be upon him] stood up and we stood up [as well]. We said: “O Messenger of God, this is a Jew’s funeral.” He said: “Is it not a soul? Whenever you see a funeral procession, stand up!” (Islamic Education, Grade 9 (2007) p. 32);” “Tolerance, therefore, represents the basic idea in the Quran. How come, then, that some people have made the Book of God a tool of bigotry and narrow-mindedness? ([Literary] Texts, Grade 9 (2007) p. 159);” “It is impossible today to perceive our existence outside of the dialogue connection with the ‘other’... The ‘other’ is essential and the dialogue with him — in whatever form — is necessary ([Literary] Texts, Grade 13 — Sciences (?) p. 154).”

The concept of the “Other” has always been “problematic” in most ME cultures, and misrepresentation of this human identity in Arab media and culture constitutes a real obstacle to progress and development. It is no longer acceptable to ignore international conventions relating to the protection of the rights of racial, cultural, and religious minorities in our region. In fact, one of our enduring obstacles in the ME is the reliance on outdated educational curriculum’s that hark back to the supposed glories of a romantic past, while ignoring the opportunities awaiting us in the future.

As mentioned in the Unesco Declaration of Principles on Tolerance, countries and their societies need to emphasize the need for spreading tolerance among our human family. Many people in the Arab world due either to ignorance or an inability to communicate with people from other cultures continue depicting the “Other” erroneously. Starting a debate in the Arab world about the historical treatment of the “Other” in our educational systems is a step in the right direction. Tolerance of difference strengthens our human commitment and enables us to live in a peaceful world where the ordinary people of the ME, like their counterparts in many Western countries, will be able to achieve their human potentials. It will be useful to us as Arabs and Muslims to accept our distinguished cultural identities and to accept that “other” people around the world also have the right to be different from us. —



Bali bombers executions: A hoax?

Soeryo Winoto, Jakarta

Following a series of recent trumped-up bomb scares in the capital, a television news report Wednesday claiming the execution of the three Bali bombers would take place Thursday turned out to be a mere hoax.

While the Attorney General's Office (AGO) has remained tight-lipped about the execution dates for Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra -- who were responsible for the death of more than 200 innocent people -- the decision on the execution has reportedly been handed over to the Bali Provincial Prosecutors' Office, which is directly under AGO supervision.

Preparations have been made: security has been tightened at the Nusakambangan prison where the bombers await execution; three poles have been erected where the bombers are to stand before a firing squad; and some supporters of the bombers' are preparing graves in Cianjur, West Java.

No one knows what is in the mind of whichever decision-maker has yet to issue the execution order. Previous media reports said it would take place in early November. Attorney General Hendarman Supanji has just said early November means between the first and the fifteenth of the month.

There are noteworthy consequences from keeping the D-day from the public. At least five private televisions have been preparing coverage of the executions. Since they are competing with each other, the reporters and cameramen have been vying to produce the most recent and exclusive updates and pictures. Most likely many of them are frustrated with the uncertainty even as their editors in Jakarta keep pressing for fresh reports and footage.

While many print journalists can restrain themselves from reporting hour-by-hour developments at the Nusakambangan (Cilacap) prison, television reporters keep reporting anything tangentially related to the execution or the bombers. Boring and trivial reports are filling airtime. Once Imam Samudra's mother was featured on TV with the reporter saying repeatedly her son respected his mother very much, irrelevant to what the man did in Bali four years ago. Another television station aired a feature in which the three bombers stated they "are now in jihad waiting for the execution day." The word jihad was misleading and inappropriately used in that context. With respect to freedom of expression and the public right to accurate information, the media -- private televisions in this context -- must exercise more prudence. Wisdom, maturity and self-censorship are key in deciding whether programs or events should be aired, given that our society is, frankly, fragile and has poor resilience at times when faced with contentious information.

In a particularly ill-considered instance, a private television arranged a debate Tuesday between one group opposing any kind of terrorism in the name of religion and another group accepting what Amrozi and his gang had done in Bali. Does such a controversial program deserve to be aired?

Even though the Bali bombings have no religious motivation, the AGO should have foreseen that keeping the execution date uncertain would boost sympathy from individuals or organizations which have turned out to be pressure groups.

Islamic boarding school students (santri) in Serang, Banten, have expressed their sympathy by planning a special prayer once the bombers are executed. The controversial Islamic Defenders Front plans to receive the dead three when their bodies are flown home to Lamongan in East Java and to Banten. Another Islamic organization has prepared a plot of land in Cianjur, West Java, for the bombers' graves.

The mother of brothers Amrozi and Mukhlas has sent a letter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. No official reports describe what the letter says.

A series of bomb threats at two malls, the U.S. and Australian embassies and a gas station in Plumpang, North Jakarta, are likely provocations from those supporting the three terrorists.

The most serious threat could be a call for Muslims to wage war and kill Yudhoyono and some of his cabinet officials. Through an e-mail, the sender said this call to assassinate the President and cabinet members is in retaliation for the execution of Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra.

The uncertain execution date has in practical terms given radical groups a new opportunity to continue their terror tactics. So, whether or not the Bali bombers are executed, the latest developments indicate terrorists do have a place in the country, implying all these threats could not be just hoaxes.

The writer is a journalist living in Jakarta. He can be contacted at