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Islamic World News ( 2 March 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Gaddafi strikes back, bombs Brega

‘Nuclear Pakistan in extremists’ hands a grave threat’: US

Obama, Hillary outraged at assassination of Bhatti

Gaddafi warns of another Vietnam

‘Faiz’s poetry is like a bridge between India and Pakistan’

As militancy ebbs, time to ease up in J&K?

Muslim MPs not in favour, so India’s Madrasa board is off

Yemeni Prez sacks Guvs of 5 provinces

Nobel winner Muhammad Yunus out of bank he founded

Egypt PM Ahmed Shafiq quits: Army

Khalifa stresses UAE support to Bahrain

Gilani vows new strategy to fight extremism

World community condemn Bhatti’s murder

Pakistan: Terrorists silence another voice of interfaith harmony

Bhatti knew of threats from Taliban, Qaida

Minister not given bullet-proof car

Extremism bringing bad name to Islam: Gilani

Sufi circuit to be developed in the country: Tourism Minister of India

Muslims demand ban on book branding Sir Syed and Iqbal separatists

Kuldip Nayyar’s statement on Quran recitation unfortunate: Sunni Ulema Council

No proposal for Madrasa Board

Christians announce three days mourning

Chavez's Libya plan being considered, Moussa says

Libya on brink of civil war as rebels eye foreign help

Gaddafi warns of 'bloody war' in case foreign intervention

Embassy in Egypt sets up border land post for Indians in Libya

Over 180,000 refugees flee to Libya’s borders

Arab League's no to 'outside meddling'

Iran warns West against military action in Libya

Gaddafi's forces go on offensive as NATO mulls 'no-fly' zone

Gaddafi claims protests part of conspiracy to grab Libyan oil

Libya: Speedier evacuation urged

IAF aircraft to join evacuation operations from Libya

Acquitted Godhra accused, which spent 9yrs in jail, dies

“My name is Wasil Khan and I am neither a Pakistani nor a terrorist”

'Jasmine'-like revolution unlikely in China

‘Abused’ as a blogger, Omar takes to tweeting to resume his story

Pakistan court rejects Davis' claim about diplomatic immunity

Raymond Davis’ hearing underway in Kot Lakhpat

Bangladesh Nobel laureate Yunus challenges removal

'Pirates won't free hostages selectively'

Appeals court orders Madinah judge to review Sumiati case

Iran opposition says 79 arrested in protests

S. Sudan fighting leaves dozens dead in tense area

Turkey rejects Kurdish demand on imprisoned leader

Pope exonerates Jews for Jesus death in new book

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/gaddafi-strikes-back,-bombs-brega/d/4218

 

 

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Gaddafi strikes back, bombs Brega

Mar 03 2011

Libya: Libyan warplanes struck the oil port of Brega on Thursday, a day after armed rebels foiled an attempt by loyalists of leader Muammar Gaddafi to retake control of the strategic installation in the rebel-held eastern half of the country.

Witnesses could not immediately identify the target of the airstrike. But it was likely an airstrip that belongs to the huge oil complex on the Mediterranean coast.

The attack on Brega, some 460 miles (740 kilometers) east of Gaddafi's stronghold in the capital Tripoli, marked the regime's first counteroffensive in the rebel-held east. It illustrated the deep difficulties the Libyan leader's armed forces - an array of militiamen, mercenaries and military units - have had in rolling back the uprising that has swept over the entire eastern half of Libya since Feb. 15.

In the nearby town of Ajdabiya, also in the opposition-held east, morgue officials said the death toll from the fighting rose to 14 on Thursday. On Wednesday, health officials put the toll at at least 10. Many of the fighters who repelled the government forces in Brega on Wednesday came from Ajdabiya.

Brega is the site of Libya's second- largest petroleum facility and has been held by the opposition since last week.

Citizen militias flowed in from Ajdabiya and the opposition stronghold of Benghazi hours away to reinforce the defense of Brega on Wednesday, finally repelling the regime loyalists. They scrambled over the dunes of a Mediterranean beach through shelling and an airstrike to corner their attackers.

Opposition leaders are pleading for foreign powers to launch airstrikes to help them oust Gaddafi, who has ruled for 41 years.

The battle for Brega on Wednesday began just after dawn, when several hundred pro-Gaddafi forces in 50 trucks and SUVs mounted with machine guns descended on the port, driving out a small opposition contingent and seizing control of the oil facilities, port and airstrip. But by afternoon, they had lost it all and had retreated to a university campus five miles (eight kilometers) away.

There, opposition fighters besieged them, clambering from the beach up a hill to the campus as mortars and heavy machine gun fire blasted around them, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene. They took cover behind grassy dunes, firing back with assault rifles, machine guns and grenade launchers. At one point, a warplane struck in the dunes to try to disperse them, but it caused no casualties and the siege continued.

Gaddafi's forces withdrew from the town before dusk. Car horns honked and people fired assault rifles in the air in celebration.

For the past week, pro-Gaddafi forces have been focusing on the west, securing Tripoli and trying to take back nearby rebel-held cities. But the regime has seemed to struggle to bring an overwhelming force to bear against cities largely defended by local residents using weapons looted from storehouses and backed by allied army units.

Pro-Gaddafi forces succeeded over the weekend in retaking two small towns. But the major western rebel-held cities of Zawiya and Misrata, near Tripoli, have repelled repeated, major attacks - including new forays against Zawiya on Wednesday.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/757328/

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‘Nuclear Pakistan in extremists’ hands a grave threat’: US

Mar 03 2011

Washington: Pak-Afghan border remains an "epicentre" of global terrorism, the US said on Thursday, as a top military official warned lawmakers of grave consequences of the collapse of the government of a nuclear capable Pakistan.

"The downside consequences of a nuclear-capable Pakistan that -- whose government collapses and is then in the hands of violent extremists or theocratic individuals is a huge, huge danger, globally and certainly for us," Admiral Mike Mullen Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.

Testifying before the House Appropriations Committee's Defence Sub Committee, Mullen stressed on the need to have increased dialogue with Pakistan because it is in the national interest of the United States.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, at the same said that Pak-Afghan border remains the epicentre of terrorism.

"I believe we've got to continue to work that, we've got to continue to invest in it. It's not going to happen fast enough for any of us, and our ability to work that has a significant impact on what's going to happen in Afghanistan as well. So it is in fact working both sides," Mullen said.

“In fact al Qaeda is in much tougher shape than it was a year or two ago and some of the Taliban organisations are certainly much more concerned about their future than they were as recently as a year ago because we finally got the resources right, we finally got the people right, we have the strategy right, and we're starting to turn," Mullen said.

"No one is more aware of who we've lost and the people that we've lost. All of that said, we can't do it without having some level of legitimate government to pass this off to, at the local level as well as at the national level. So the challenge you lay out is certainly there.”

“We see that much more clearly than we did in the past, including where's the money going, how we're auditing contracts, et cetera.”

“I think we know what we have to do, and the question is execution as we move ahead," Mullen said.

Gates said the US is in Afghanistan because it was attacked out of Afghanistan.

"The Pakistani-Afghan border remains an epicenter of terrorism that has the potential not only to destabilise the entirety of Southeast and Southwest Asia, but also still launch attacks against the United States," Gates said.

"So our strategy is not focused on the government of Afghanistan. Our strategy is how do we defeat al Qaeda? How do we prevent insurgent groups from overthrowing the government of Afghanistan? And how do we degrade the capabilities of the Taliban to the point where the Afghan National Security Forces can sustain them and sustain their security?" Gates said in his testimony.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/757157/

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Obama, Hillary outraged at assassination of Bhatti

Mar 03 2011

Washington: US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the international community in expressing their outrage at the assassination of Pakistan's Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti.

"I am deeply saddened by the assassination of Pakistan's Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti in Islamabad and condemn in the strongest possible terms this horrific act of violence," Obama said in a statement.

Pakistan's only Christian cabinet minister Bhatti, a vocal critic of the blasphemy law, was shot dead yesterday by Taliban militants in Islamabad, just two months after Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was gunned down for opposing the harsh act.

Demanding that the guilty be brought to justice, Obama said Bhatti was "clear-eyed" about the risks of speaking out, and despite innumerable death threats, he insisted on his duty to defend equal rights and tolerance from those who preach "division, hate, and violence."

He most courageously challenged the blasphemy laws of Pakistan under which individuals have been prosecuted for speaking their minds or practicing their own faiths, Obama said.

US Secretary of State Clinton also condemned the assassination.

"I was shocked and outraged by the assassination, reportedly by al-Qaeda linked terrorists, of Pakistan's Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti,"

Clinton told Senators at a Congressional hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"I think this was an attack not only on one man but on the values of tolerance and respect for people of all faiths and backgrounds that had been championed by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan," she said in response to a question from John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Clinton recently had met Bhatti. "He was a very impressive, courageous man. He was a patriot. He was a man of great conviction. He cared deeply for Pakistan, and he had dedicated his life to helping the least among us," she said.

"When I spoke with him, he was well aware of the drumbeat of threats against him. Despite those threats, when the Pakistan government was recently reshuffled and the cabinet shrunk, he agreed to continue his work as the minister for Minorities Affairs."

In a statement, Kerry said Bhatti was a brave defender of all of Pakistan's religious and ethnic minorities and his death is a loss to his country and his family.

"Coming so soon after the killing of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, another strong advocate for tolerance and moderation, today's act of terrorism is particularly chilling," he said in a statement.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/757154/

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Gaddafi warns of another Vietnam

Mar 03, 2011

Muammar Gaddafi launched a land and air offensive to retake territory in Libya’s east at dawn on Wednesday, sparking a rebel call for foreign airstrikes on African mercenaries they said were helping him stay in power.

The veteran ruler twinned the attack with a fiery propaganda broadside against the rebels, playing on both nationalist opinion and Western jitters by saying much blood would be shed in “another Vietnam” if foreign powers intervened in the crisis.

“We will enter a bloody war and thousands and thousands of Libyans will die if the United States enters or Nato enters,” Gaddafi told Tripoli supporters at a gathering televised live. “We are ready to hand out weapons to a million, or two million or three million, and another Vietnam will begin. It doesn’t matter to us. We no longer care about anything.”

On the battlefield, government troops briefly captured Brega, an oil export terminal, before being driven back by rebels who have held the town 800 km east of Tripoli for about a week, rebel officers said, adding they were ready to move westwards against Gaddafi’s forces if he refused to quit.

Further bombing raids near the oil terminals were carried out in the afternoon. Estimates of the death toll during the day ranged between five and 14. There has been talk among the international community of the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, but on Wednesday US defence secretary Robert Gates said such a move would first require an attack to cripple Libyan air defences. “One of our biggest concerns is Libya descending into chaos and becoming a giant Somalia,” US secretary of state Hillary Clinton told US legislators. Gaddafi, who once said ballot box democracy was for donkeys, told the gathering in Tripoli the world did not understand he had given power to the people long ago.

“We put our fingers in the eyes of those who doubt that Libya is ruled by anyone other than its people,” he said, referring to his system of “direct democracy” launched at a meeting attended by visiting Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 1977.

Referring to an unprecedented two-week-old popular uprising against his rule, Gaddafi also called for the UN and Nato to probe what had happened in Libya, and said he saw a conspiracy to colonise Libya and seize its oil.

A Tripoli resident and Gaddafi opponent, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters afterwards: “Gaddafi will hang on for a while. It’s not going to be easy for an unarmed crowd to face highly armed forces eager to shoot their own people.” The assault on Brega appeared to be the most significant military operation by Gaddafi since the uprising erupted in mid-February and set off a confrontation that Washington says could descend into a long civil war unless Gaddafi steps down.

Witnesses said the attack was backed by heavy weapons and air strikes. One of the witnesses said Gaddafi’s forces were two to three km from the city centre and had 300-350 rebels pinned down at an oil industry airport on the city outskirts.

Hisham Mohammed, a 33-year-old mechanic on the side of the rebels, was defiant. “I’m going to Brega to help our brothers there. I’m washed, I’ve prayed, and I’m ready to go to God,” he told Reuters.

In the opposition bastion of Benghazi, a rebel National Libyan Council called for UN-backed airstrikes on African mercenaries it said Gaddafi was using. “We call for specific attacks on strongholds of these mercenaries,” said council spokesman Hafiz Ghoga. “The presence of any foreign forces on Libyan soil is strongly opposed. There is a big difference between this and strategic airstrikes.”

Any sort of foreign military involvement in Arab countries is a sensitive topic for Western nations uncomfortably aware that Iraq suffered years of bloodletting and Al Qaeda violence after a 2003 US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein.

In a possible response to Western hints that the opposition needs to unify to facilitate rebel links with outside powers, Ghoga added that a former justice minister, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, would be chairman of the Council which will have 30 members and be based in Benghazi before moving later to Tripoli.

In the Netherlands, the International Criminal Court prosecutor said he would begin an investigation into the violence. Across Libya, tribal leaders, officials, military officers and Army units have defected to the rebel cause and say they are becoming more organised. However, Tripoli remains a stronghold for Gaddafi. Washington says it will keep pressure on Gaddafi to quit, and is moving ships and planes closer to Libya in what is widely seen as a symbolic show of force. On Wednesday two US amphibious assault ships, the USS Kearsarge and the USS Ponce, passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal, arriving in the Mediterranean. —Reuters

http://www.asianage.com/international/gaddafi-warns-another-vietnam-854

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‘Faiz’s poetry is like a bridge between India and Pakistan’

New Age Islam News Bureau

Lucknow: A one day seminar on the poetry of Faiz was organised by the Faiz Centenary Celebrations Committee with the cooperation of the Urdu department of the Lucknow University in Vijay Shankar Hall Qaisar Bagh. Addressing the seminar as the Chief Guest, the Vice Chancellor of the Arabic Persian Urdu University Anis Ansari said that the understanding of beauty and human emotions, not principles, were needed to understand the pain of the human beings and Faiz was such a poet who understood the pain of the human beings deeply. Renowned author and Secretary of Pakistan Faiz Centennial Committee Rahat Sayeed said that Faiz’s poetry was actually like a bridge between India and Pakistan. Dr Nasim Iftikhar Ali presented Faiz’s biography in brief. Prof Roop Rekha Verma said that Faiz was a poet of revolution and romance. In the beginning of the seminar a six minute documentary on Faiz made by Aloke Bajpayee was presented. Actor Atul Tiwari read out his article based on the documentary. Pakistani singer Tina Sani enthralled the audience with some ghazals of Faiz

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As militancy ebbs, time to ease up in J&K?

Josy Joseph

Mar 3, 2011

NEW DELHI: An unprecedented drop in all parameters of militancy in Kashmir is leading to many of government's own Kashmir observers calling for a radically different security approach and bold political decisions. The call comes amid fears of violent street protests re-erupting because of various factors, including security blunders and inspiration from Arab revolutions.

This year, January recorded the lowest figure in every parameter used to assess militancy since it started over two decades ago, according to sources in J&K police and various agencies. They measure about a dozen parameters, such as the number of civilians, security forces and terrorists killed and injured, as well as the total number of violent incidents. In January, each of these parameters is the lowest in over two decades of Kashmir insurgency.

Jammu and Kashmir has become a "state with very marginal militancy and a significant level of law and order concerns", a senior officer said, suggesting that New Delhi will have to take a relook at the imposing and intense security deployment in J&K. Violent public protests, most predominant form of violence in the state now, are erupting every time the security agencies make a blunder, he said. "So, it is wise to thin them down, not just as a confidence building measure," he argued.

January saw just 14 incidents of violence, of which the worst was two instances of grenade hurling. In previous years, the lowest number of incidents in January was in 2009 when there were 23 attacks, otherwise in January 2003, there were 268 incidents. Even in the 14 incidents this January, just two have been against security forces.

For the first time in over two decades of militancy, the security forces did not kill a single militant in a month, in yet another sign of a significant drop in militancy. "The gaps in our intelligence gathering are being exposed now," an officer said, pointing to recent cases of mistaken encounters in which innocents were gunned down.

Another senior officer said the Centre should think about immediate thinning down of security forces. "We haven't had such favourable conditions," he said. The officer pointed out that New Delhi should look at bold political initiatives to seize the momentum created by the security forces. More than one officer believes that violent street protests could come back in the summer if New Delhi didn't seize the momentum in its favour.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/As-militancy-ebbs-time-to-ease-up-in-JK/articleshow/7615917.cms#ixzz1FVZOj0sf

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Muslim MPs not in favour, so madrasa board is off

Mar 03, 2011

Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal on Wednesday virtually scrapped the proposal to create a madarsa board for regulation of the country’s madarsas.

He said the government did not want to create a madarsa board as there was little support for the formation of such a regulatory board among Muslims.

The proposal was first put forth in UPA-1 under then HRD minister Arjun Singh and aimed to increase the involvement of the minority community in higher education. “Unless the community wants it, why should we intervene? Unless the community comes forward, we will not discuss it,” the minister said. The rejection of the move to create a madarsa board comes after the matter was discussed with minority community MPs, most of whom opposed the government’s move.

Mr Sibal said the formation of such a board had been suggested by the Sachar Committee, which felt that madrasas should be supervised by a body that was more academic than theological.

The minister added the government would run special education programmes for the minorities. “Wherever there is a minority community concentration, we’ll have programmes for setting up institutions of higher education.”

http://www.asianage.com/india/muslim-mps-not-favour-so-madrasa-board-859

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Yemeni Prez sacks Guvs of 5 provinces

March 03, 2011

Embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Wednesday sacked the Governors of five of the country’s 21 provinces where anti-regime protests have been raging for more than a month.

The Governors of the provinces of Aden, Lahij and Abyan in the south, as well as Hadramut in the southeast and Hudayda in the west have been sacked, an official statement said.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/321517/Yemeni-Prez-sacks-Guvs-of-5-provinces.html

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Nobel winner Muhammad Yunus out of bank he founded

Mar 3, 2011

DHAKA: Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus has been removed from his position as head of microlender Grameen Bank, Bangladesh's central bank said on Wednesday, following allegations of irregularities in its operations. ( Read: Grameen Bank set to move court to stall Yunus ouster )

Yunus, 70, set up Grameen Bank and has been its managing director since 2000. Lauded abroad by politicians and financiers, he has been under attack from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government since last year, after a Norwegian documentary alleged the Bank was dodging taxes.

Yunus has denied financial irregularities and his supporters say he is being discredited by the government because of a feud with Hasina dating back to 2007, when he tried to set up a political party.

"We have delivered a letter to Grameen Bank that Yunus has been removed," said the central bank governor's spokesman, AFM Asaduzzaman.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Nobel-winner-Muhammad-Yunus-out-of-bank-he-founded/articleshow/7616024.cms#ixzz1FVZzee9W

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Egypt PM Ahmed Shafiq quits: Army

Mar 3, 2011

CAIRO: Egypt's military rulers have accepted the surprise resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, seen by protesters as a symbol of ousted president Hosni Mubarak's regime, the army said Thursday.

He will be replaced by Essam Sharaf, a former transport minister who took part in the mass rallies in Cairo's Tahrir Square which led to strongman Mubarak's resignation on February 11 after three decades in power.

Shafiq was appointed by Mubarak in the dying days of his rule, in a failed bid to quell the protests. The military council has been running Egypt since Mubarak stood down.

"The Supreme Council of Military Forces announces that it has accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq," the statement said, without elaborating on the reasons for the move.

Since the fall of Mubarak, protesters have continued to call for a replacement of the current government, which includes several ministers from the toppled regime.

The council has previously ordered the government to run the country's affairs for six months "or until the end of parliamentary and presidential elections" and is also examining constitutional reforms.

Shafiq had been expected to stay in office at least until the elections.

His successor, Sharaf, was transport minister from 2002 to 2005. He was sacked over differences with then-premier Ahmad Nazif. Nazif was himself sacked four days after the start of the anti-Mubarak protests.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Egypt-PM-Ahmed-Shafiq-quits-Army/articleshow/7618886.cms#ixzz1FX9GEo3F

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Khalifa stresses UAE support to Bahrain

3 March 2011

Shaikh Khalifa said the UAE will not spare any effort in providing all forms of support to Bahrain to help restore security, stability and growth, which are components of regional stability.

The pledge came during a reception hosted by the President for Shaikh Sulman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince of Bahrain and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, at Al Rodah Palace here. Shaikh Sulman is visiting the country as part of a regional tour.

Present were Shaikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President’s Representative, and General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Shaikh Khalifa said the UAE appreciates the wisdom exhibited by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain in tackling the recent events and taking decisions to boost national solidarity in order to restore security and stability. He stressed that the UAE is confident King Hamad and Bahrain will overcome the problems through dialogue and in the interest of nation building.

Full report at:

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/displayarticle.asp?xfile=data/theuae/2011/March/theuae_March84.xml&section=theuae&col=

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Gilani vows new strategy to fight extremism

By Raja Asghar

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told a mournful National Assembly after the assassination of his minorities affairs minister on Wednesday his government would make a new strategy to combat religious extremism in consultation with parliament and military leadership.

As suggested by him, Speaker Fehmida Mirza set Thursday for a National Assembly debate on the killing of minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, by gunmen on an Islamabad street, and the prime minister said he would also meet leaders of parliamentary parties and convene a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC), which includes armed forces’ chiefs.

“This (consultative process) will help formulate a strategy to deal with extremists who are spreading (religious) hatred and defaming Pakistan in the world (by their activities),” Mr Gilani said after chairing a meeting of his cabinet, which discussed the second assassination of a senior government functionary in the capital within two months.

As a mark of mourning, the lower house discarded its agenda for the day and adjourned after two minutes’ silence in memory of one of its members and a brief speech by the prime minister, who praised what he called Mr Bhatti’s “work for inter-faith harmony” and said: “Whoever are culprits or whoever are responsible (for the murder), they will be brought to justice.”

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/03/gilani-vows-new-strategy-to-fight-extremism.html

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World community condemn Bhatti’s murder

Mar 3, 2011

KARACHI: Britain, United Nations, India, European Union and United States have strongly condemned the assassination on Wednesday of Catholic Pakistani government minister Shahbaz Bhatti.

Bhatti was shot at least eight times, police said, in a daylight attack in Islamabad that came two months after the slaying of the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer.

US REACTION

US President Barack Obama said that the killers of Bhutti must be brought to justice and that he was saddened by the “horrific” assassination.

“I am deeply saddened by the assassination of Pakistan’s Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti today in Islamabad, and condemn in the strongest possible terms this horrific act of violence,” Obama said.

“We offer our profound condolences to his family, loved ones and all who knew and worked with him,” Obama said in a written statement.

“Those who committed this crime should be brought to justice, and those who share Mr. Bhatti’s vision of tolerance and religious freedom must be able to live free from fear.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was “shocked and outraged” by the slaying of Bhatti.  Senator John Kerry also condemned the murder as a “particularly chilling” terrorist attack.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/03/british-pm-condemns-unacceptable-pakistan-murder.html

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Pakistan: Terrorists silence another voice of interfaith harmony

By Munawer Azeem and Khawar Ghumman

ISLAMABAD: More or less two months after the assassination of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti has lost his life in a well-planned attack for his alleged opposition to the misuse of the blasphemy law.

The minister was shot dead just yards away from his mother’s house in broad daylight on Wednesday, just 57 days after Mr Taseer was assassinated for his opposition to the same law, by his own guard on Jan 4.

Riding in his official black Toyota Corolla driven by his personal driver, Mr Bhatti came out from his mother’s house located in Sector I-8/3. He was headed for office-cum-residence, in nearby I-8/4, when his car was intercepted by a white Mehran near the Tipu Sultan Road in front of a public park around eleven in the morning.

Two gunmen, clad in shalwar-kameez, disembarked from the small car and fired two bullets on the windscreen of Mr Bhatti’s car. The driver Gul Sher dived down inside the car. The gunmen then approached the left side of the vehicle and fired at the minister sitting in the rear.

After making sure that he was dead, the killers escaped from the scene. It was reported that there were other passengers in the car who were spared, but this was not confirmed till the filing of this report.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/03/terrorists-silence-another-voice-of-interfaith-harmony.html

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Bhatti knew of threats from Taliban, Qaida

Mar 3, 201

LONDON: The BBC says it has received a video recording of murdered Pakistani government minister Shabhaz Bhatti in which the politician said he had been threatened by religious extremists but was not afraid to die.

In the message, Bhatti says that he has received threats from the Taliban and al-Qaida, but will not stop "speaking for oppressed and marginalized persecuted Christians and other minorities.'' He added he was ready "to die for a cause.'' Bhatti, the only Christian in Pakistan's cabinet, was shot dead on Wednesday in Islamabad.

It was the second assassination in two months of an opponent of Pakistan's blasphemy laws. The BBC said that Bhatti had made the recording about four months ago and left instructions it should be sent to broadcasters if he was killed.

Bhatti first received threats when he spoke in support of Christians who were attacked by an extremist group at Gojra in Punjab in 2009. Fresh threats came his way when he spoke in support of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death last year for alleged blasphemy.

"I am a follower of the cross and I am ready to die for a cause. I am living for my community and suffering people and I will die to defend their rights. These threats and warnings cannot change my opinion and principles," Bhatti told BBC recently.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Bhatti-knew-of-threats-from-Taliban-Qaida/articleshow/7616063.cms#ixzz1FVaCuW5u

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Minister not given bullet-proof car

Omer Farooq Khan

Mar 3, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani government minister Shabhaz Bhatti was deprived of the facilities that most ministers enjoy, like privileges of bullet-proof vehicles and high-walled houses in Islamabad's Ministers Enclave.

According to his family and friends, Bhatti had several times told president Asif Ali Zardari and PM Yousuf Raza Gilani about the threats to his life. Durrani insisted there was no security lapse as police escorts were provided to the minister, which he was not using. "The squad officer told me that the minister had instructed him to wait for him at his office. He used to often visit his mother's house without a squad," he said.

Bhatti founded the Christian-inspired All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) movement, aiming to bring oppressed minorities into mainstream politics.

One of his first battles was against the law on blasphemy, introduced in 1986 by military dictator general Zia ul Haq and used mostly against religious minorities.

"I will propose legislative reforms for the promotion and protection of minorities' rights," the Catholic leader recently said. About 1.5% of Pakistan's 185 million people are Christians. Pakistan's blasphemy law has been in the media glare since a Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, was sentenced to death by a court last November on blasphemy charges. The fanatical supporters of blasphemy law eliminated governor Taseer who sought presidential pardon for Aasia and proposed changes in the draconian law.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Minister-not-given-bullet-proof-car/articleshow/7616522.cms#ixzz1FVaPZlq9

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Extremism bringing bad name to Islam: Gilani

Mar 3, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Following the brutal killing of Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, in Islamabad early on Wednesday, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, while speaking in the National Assembly later in the day, said that terrorism and extremism were bringing a bad name to Islam.

The prime minister strongly condemned the second atrocious high-profile assassination in the current year and ordered a high-level investigation into the incident. Earlier, former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer was gunned down on January 4 by his own security guard, Mumtaz Qadri.

Although Gilani condemned the murder, but he again avoided holding religious extremists responsible for the killing. Standing on the floor of the House, the prime minister proposed a comprehensive debate in parliament to devise an anti-terrorism strategy to preserve peace in the country.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\03\03\story_3-3-2011_pg1_5

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Sufi circuit to be developed in the country: Tourism Minister of India

New Age Islam News Bureau

Patna: The Central Minister for Tourism Subodh Kant Sahay said that the government was taking steps to promote the Sufi circuit of the country. He said that the Sufi circuit would emerge as a major tourist attraction in near future. Mr Sahay said that there was a huge possibility of the promotion of tourism in the country adding that many people visited Bodh Gaya for performing religious rites like Pind dan. He said that another 150,000 hotels were needed to cater to the needs of the foreign tourists who spent $100 dollars per day.

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Muslims demand ban on book branding Sir Syed and Iqbal separatists

New Age Islam News Bureau

Patna:  Muslims of Bihar have demanded a ban on the book titled Adhunik Bharat me Samajik Parivartan written by the Director of the Department of Education of Bihar, J P Singh. An Urdu journalist Ashraf Asthanvi has written letters to the Chief Minister of Bihar demanding a ban on the book. He said that the book had presented the founder of the Aligarh Muslim University Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and the great Urdu poet Iqbal as communal and separatist thus hurting the sentiments of the Muslims the world over.

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Kuldip Nayyar’s statement on Quran recitation unfortunate: Sunni Ulema Council

New Age Islam News Bureau

Kanpur: Sunni Ulema Council General Secretary Haji Md Salees has criticised veteran journalist Kuldip Nayyar’s comment on the recitation of the Quran in the beginning of a programme organised jointly by the Urdu department of Haleem Muslim  PG College and the National Council for the Promotion of Urdu Language, New Delhi on the topic ‘The future of Secularism’. Mr Kuldip Nayyar had reprotedly said that the recitation of the Quran in a public programme would inspire the followers of other religions to start their programmes with religious mantras that would not be a good omen for a secular country. Commenting on Mr Nayyar’s remarks, the General Secretary of Sunni Ulema Council Haji Md Salees said that Mr Nayyar’s remarks were unfortunate as the article 25 of the Constitution of India guaranteed the right to freedom to all its citizens. Therefore, if the communities demonstrate their cultural and religious identity, it does not affect the secular values of the country. But if a government programme is started with religious mantras, it should be a cause for concern. So Kuldip Nayyar should object to the putting up of religious symbols and marks on government installations and the recitation of religious mantras in government programmes, he said.

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No proposal for Madrasa Board

New Age Islam News Bureau

New Delhi: Denying reports of proposals for Madrasa Board from the government, the Minister for Human Resources Development Kapil Sibal said that such regulatory board would not get support of the majority of the Muslims. He asked, “until a community comes forward, why should we interfere?” However he said that he had consulted the members of Parliament after he had received a proposal from the National Minority Commission but the members had opposed it.  He further said that Sachar Committee had suggested setting up of such a board. Sachar Committee was of the view that the functioning and modernisation of madrasas should be entrusted to such a regulatory body that had a majority of educationists rather than religious scholars as members.  He said that special programmes were being run for the welfare of the minorities and they had programmes for setting up of schools for higher education in areas where the minority population was considerable.

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Christians announce three days mourning

Mar 03 2011

LAHORE: Bishop Andrew Francis, chairman of the National Commission for Inter Religious Dialogue and Ecumenism, as well as the Bishop of Multan, strongly condemned as “brutal barbarism” the “senseless assassination” of Minorities Affairs Minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, by extremists and announced a three-day mourning period during which all Christian institutions, such as schools, etc, would be closed in protest.

In an appeal to bishops around the world, Bishop Andrew said, “With deep sorrow we would like inform you that Minority Affairs Minister, honourable Mr Shahbaz Bhatti, a beacon of hope in Pakistan and a true Pakistani, has been brutally murdered by extremists in Islamabad today. In this regard I would like to request bishops around the world to kindly close all Catholic institutions tomorrow in their respective dioceses to protest and mourn Mr Bhatti’s death. He was promoting peace and interfaith harmony in Pakistan and it is our duty not to let this cause die.”

He said that former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer had been killed by religious extremists as well and the minorities minister had been murdered for promoting interfaith peace in Pakistan and working for the rights of religious groups. The bishop said that Bhatti’s work for human and minority rights was well known and he was a strong and courageous person who believed in the rights and dignity of all religious communities living in Pakistan. pr

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\03\03\story_3-3-2011_pg7_17

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Chavez's Libya plan being considered, Moussa says

Mar 3, 2011

CAIRO: Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said on Thursday a peace plan proposed by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez to end the crisis in Libya was "under consideration".

Al Jazeera news network reported that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Moussa had agreed to Chavez's plan to send representatives from several countries to Libya. "No," was Moussa's response when asked if he had agreed to the plan proposed by Chavez, a friend of Gaddafi.

"We have been informed of President Chavez's plan but it is still under consideration," Moussa told Reuters by telephone on Thursday. "We consulted several leaders yesterday," he said, without providing a deadline to decide on the plan.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Chavezs-Libya-plan-being-considered-Moussa-says/articleshow/7617881.cms#ixzz1FX8mXKsn

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Libya on brink of civil war as rebels eye foreign help

Mar 3, 2011

MUAMMAR Gaddafi launched a land and air offensive to retake territory in Libya’s east at dawn on Wednesday, sparking a rebel call for foreign air strikes on African mercenaries they said were helping him stay in power.

The ruler supported the attack with a fiery propaganda broadside against the rebels, playing on both nationalist opinion and Western jitters by saying blood would be shed in another Vietnam if foreign powers intervened in the crisis.

“ We will enter a bloody war and thousands and thousands of Libyans will die if the US or NATO enters,” Gaddafi told supporters at a gathering televised live.

“ We are ready to hand out weapons to two million or three million. It doesn’t matter. We no longer care,” he said.

On the battlefield, government troops briefly captured Brega, an oil export terminal, before being driven back by rebels who have held the town east of Tripoli for about a week, rebel officers said.

A further bombing raid 2 km from the oil terminal was reported late in the afternoon, a witness said. Estimates of the death toll during the day ranged between five and 14.

Gaddafi, who once said ballot box democracy was for donkeys, told the gathering in Tripoli that the world did not understand that he had given power to the people long ago. “ We put our fingers in the eyes of those who doubt that Libya is ruled by anyone other than its people,” he said, referring to his system of direct democracy launched at a meeting attended by visiting Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 1977.

Full report at: Mail Today

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Gaddafi warns of 'bloody war' in case foreign intervention

Mar 03 2011

Cairo: A defiant Muammar Gaddafi on Wednesday refused to give up power as he warned against any foreign intervention, saying it will lead to "a bloody war" in which "thousands of Libyans would die".

"We will not accept [an] American intervention. This will lead to a bloody war and thousands of Libyans will die if America and NATO enter Libya," Gaddafi said at a public gathering for the first time since the two-week-old uprising began, an event aired live on state television.

Digging in his heels, he claimed that the anti-regime protests were part of a "conspiracy" to grab the oil resources of Libya.

"We will fight to the end, to the last man, the last woman ... with God's help," he said while describing the two-week long protests as being orchestrated by only a minority who were being propped up by "foreign forces, foreign media".

"Millions of Libyan people support me. They say they are ready to die for me," he said during the over one hour address which saw his supporters frequently cheer with chants of: "God, Muammar and Libya."

As his forces went on an offensive to wrest key cities from the rebels, 68-year-old Gaddafi joined his loyalists at a ceremony to mark 34 years of "people's power", accusing al-Qaeda of being behind the rebellion.

Gaddafi, who had assumed the country's charge 41 year ago through a coup, had proclaimed "people's power" on March 2, 1977.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/756857/

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Embassy in Egypt sets up border land post for Indians in Libya

March 03, 2011

With a bulk of the 18,000 Indians still stranded in strife-torn Libya, the Indian embassy in neighbouring Egypt has set up a land border crossing point to facilitate the evacuation through the desert. The setting up of a land post comes after the government pressed in special air flights and ships to bring back the stranded Indians.

The Indian embassy has posted a delegation at Egypt’s crossing of Salloum on the border with Libya.

The delegation is facilitating the issuing of new travelling papers for those whose documents were destroyed, burnt down or lost in the chaos in Libya. Up to 170 Indians were issued new identity papers till Tuesday mornig before they headed back to India, the embassy said. Another 100 Indian expats have been evacuated from Libyan ports, it said.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/321516/Embassy-in-Egypt-sets-up-border-land-post-for-Indians-in-Libya.html

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Over 180,000 refugees flee to Libya’s borders

Mar 03 2011

GENEVA: Libyan border crossings were overwhelmed Wednesday by tens of thousands of hungry, fearful people fleeing its burgeoning civil war. Egypt and a handful of European nations launched emergency airlifts and sent ships to handle the chaotic exodus.

UN refugee agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told The Associated Press that over 180,000 refugees have reached the border. Over 77,300 people have crossed east from Libya into Egypt, most of them Egyptians, while a similar number have fled west from Libya into Tunisia, she said. Another 30,000 more were still waiting in Libya at the border, trying to get into Tunisia.

She said Libyan strongman Moammar Qadhafi’s forces appear to be targeting Egyptians and Tunisians, apparently thinking they are the main trigger of the uprising against

Qadhafi’s 42-year-old regime.

Authoritarian regimes in both neighboring countries have been toppled in the last two months by a wave of popular protests.

“(There are) many, many terrified refugees” in the Libyan capital of Tripoli who are too afraid to move for fear they will be killed, Fleming told the AP.

Some Somali and Eritreans workers around Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city which is now under the control of opposition forces, are also feeling “hunted” as they are being mistaken for mercenaries hired by Qadhafi, she said.

Human Rights Watch warned that fleeing African workers were “particularly under threat due to popular anger” over Qadhafi’s mercenaries.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/03/over-180000-refugees-flee-to-libya%E2%80%99s-borders.html

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Arab League's no to 'outside meddling'

Mar 3, 2011

TRIPOLI: The Libya crisis is an internal Arab affair and there should be no foreign intervention, the Iraqi foreign minister told the opening session of an Arab League meeting in Cairo. Iraqi foreign minister Hoshiyar Zebari, at the Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo, said the Libyan leadership must make brave decisions to stop violence and respect the "legitimate rights" of the people.

He said the Arabs confirmed their "desire for no foreign intervention" in Libya.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Arab-Leagues-no-to-outside-meddling/articleshow/7616539.cms#ixzz1FVaTbHaF

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Iran warns West against military action in Libya

Mar 03 2011

Tehran: Hardline Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday warned the United States against military intervention in Libya, saying such action would create a graveyard for its soldiers.

Ahmadinejad, under whose presidency animosity between Tehran and Washington has heightened, said the current situation was completely different to what it was during the tenure of former US president George W Bush.

"(Bush) used a deception named September 11 to prepare the ground to invade Iraq and Afghanistan," Ahmadinejad said at a public speech in the western province of Lorestan.

"Be warned that if you intervene militarily one more time, in any of the countries in North Africa or the Middle East, the regional nations will rise and dig the graves of your soldiers," he said, referring to reports that the West was weighing up military option to oust Libyan strongman Moamer Gaddafi.

Ahmadinejad, in his speech broadcast live on state television, reiterated all the regional "dictators" were backed by Washington.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/756840/

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Gaddafi's forces go on offensive as NATO mulls 'no-fly' zone

March 03 2011

Cairo: Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi today unleashed his force of heavily armed mercenaries who stormed the rebel-held oil exporting terminal town of Brega as US warships took up positions off the north African country's coast.

Forces loyal to Gaddafi also regained control of the strategic town in the country's north west, even as opposition fighters were preparing for a march into the capital Tripoli.

Deploying tanks and heavy artillery, Gaddafi sent hundred cars packed with mercenaries to storm the rebel held Brega as his Russian-built warplanes bombed the nearby Ajdabiya, 40 kms from the oil-town.

Though initially Gaddafi's militiamen managed to recapture the town, they were later overwhelmed by a big force of rebels from adjoining Ajdabiya.

The Libyan despot used a lull in fighting to time his offensive to break the momentum of popular rebellion against his 41-year-old rule, as top US and NATO leaders mulled over the complexities of enforcing a 'no-fly' zone, which would effectively ground Gaddafi's airpower.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/756807/

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Gaddafi claims protests part of conspiracy to grab Libyan oil

March 03, 2011

Digging in his heels, a defiant Muammar Gaddafi on Wednesday refused to give up power and claimed that the anti-regime protests were part of a conspiracy to grab the oil resources of Libya.

As his forces went on an offensive to wrest key cities from the rebels, 68-year-old Gaddafi appeared at a public gathering for the first time, an event aired live on state television. “We will fight to the end, to the last man, the last woman With God’s help,” he said while describing the two-week long protests as being orchestrated by only a minority who were being propped up by “foreign forces, foreign media”. “Millions of Libyan people support me. They say they are ready to die for me,” he said during his address which saw his supporters frequently cheer him.

Making light of a popular uprising against his rule, Gaddafi joined his loyalists at a ceremony to mark 34 years of “people’s power”, accusing Al Qaeda of being behind the rebellion.

Gaddafi, who had assumed the country’s charge 41-year-ago through a coup, had proclaimed “people’s power” on March 2, 1977.

In his address, he repeatedly underlined that there is no question of him quitting as he is not a President. “To step down from what? I am just a symbol. Power is in the hands of the people,” he said.

Full report at:

http://www.dailypioneer.com/321515/Gaddafi-claims-protests-part-of-conspiracy-to-grab-Libyan-oil.html

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Libya: Speedier evacuation urged

Mar 3, 2011

JALANDHAR: Families of those stranded in Libya have alleged that while governments of other countries have already evacuated all or most of their citizens from Libya, the Government of India was being very slow in evacuating the people even when thousands of Indians were stranded in far-off Libya.

Former union minister and Lok Bhalai Party chief Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, who has been requested by families of over two dozen youths here to take up the matter with the government, said that out of the total around 18,000 Indians stranded there, only 1,134 have been evacuated.

"Clearly there is no crisis management plan and we don't even know who are the key officials in the union government who should be contacted, even as the condition in Libya is worsening with every passing day," he lamented.

Families of these youths had gathered here to raise their voice against the slow pace of evacuation. Ramoowalia pointed out that the US had evacuated all its citizens from Libya, Egypt have evacuated lakhs of its citizens, while China has brought home 29,000, of around 32,000 of its citizens.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Libya-Speedier-evacuation-urged/articleshow/7616385.cms#ixzz1FVZmL8ux

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IAF aircraft to join evacuation operations from Libya

Mar 3, 2011

NEW DELHI: As Libya swiftly descended into civil war, India decided to use an Il-76 transport aircraft of the IAF to ferry stranded citizens. From Thursday, the "Gajraj" aircraft will ferry people between Sirde in Libya and Cairo.

A wide-bodied aircraft has also been requisitioned by Air India to ferry people out of Sebha, sources said.

Sirde and Sebha are two towns with 2,000-strong concentrations of Indians each.

Officials acknowledged that India had been slow to start evacuation, but was currently taking out about 1,000 people every day and promised to complete the process by next week.

Even as China seemed on the verge of completing evacuation operations in Libya, having already pulled out over 32,000 of its nationals from the country, India only had a little over 6,000 evacuees to show for its efforts till Wednesday evening. The Chinese figure of 32,000 evacuees, mostly being doled out by official news agencies, however, seemed to have stirred a debate with foreign secretary Nirupama Rao herself saying that there was "no clarity'' over the number of Chinese evacuees.

"Incidentally, no real clarity about nos. of Chinese evacuees so far,'' said Rao in a tweet on Wednesday evening. Earlier in the day, she tweeted, "India has chartered ships and aircraft. Please believe me when I say this. I will not comment on the Chinese statistics.''

Close to 12,000 Indians though are still stranded in the country, many of them in the interiors who are finding it increasingly difficult to reach Tripoli from where evacuation flights are operating.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/IAF-aircraft-to-join-evacuation-operations-from-Libya/articleshow/7613076.cms#ixzz1FVZJg7BI

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Acquitted Godhra accused, who spent 9yrs in jail, dies

Leena Misra

Mar 3, 2011

AHMEDABAD: An accused in the Godhra carnage case who was among the 63 acquitted released on February 22, died in Godhra on Wednesday night. Baitulla Kadar Taili, 76, from Uttar Pradesh's Etawah district, was to go back home on Thursday after paying the Rs 10,000 bond in the sessions court at Sabarmati jail here, which acquitted him.

Taili used to run a hotel in Pune and had come to Godhra nearly a year before February 27, 2002 when the S-6 coach of Sabarmati express was set on fire by a mob at the railway station killing 59 passengers, mainly kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya.

"He ran a restaurant right opposite the sessions court in Godhra and the police caught him and three to four other staffers on the day of the train burning incident," said a source in Godhra.

One of the men caught with him, Gulzar Akhnoo Ansari was out on bail after he got tuberculosis and died during the trial at his home in UP.

"Taili complained of chest pain last night and was taken to hospital but died before that. His family has taken his body back home," said an accused in the carnage case, who was among the 63 acquitted in the case.

The police filed a case of accidental death and conducted a post mortem before releasing the body.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Acquitted-Godhra-accused-who-spent-9yrs-in-jail-dies-/articleshow/7618407.cms#ixzz1FX8YPgYo

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“My name is Wasil Khan and I am neither a Pakistani nor a terrorist”

Sarabjit Pandher

CHANDIGARH: It took nine long years for the Bihari migrant labourer to convince the authorities. “My name is Wasil Khan and I am neither a Pakistani nor a terrorist,” he had repeatedly told them. Now he not only seeks adequate compensation, but wants his tormentors brought to book for their crimes.

Accompanied by Chairman of the Majha Ex-Servicemen Human Rights Front Colonel G.S. Sandhu (retd.), Wasil arrived in Chandigarh to petition the Chief Minister and the High Court for justice. His stammer-hampered narration highlighted once again the brutal high-handedness and apathetic attitude of the Punjab police. Col. Sandhu said attempts to seek information under the Right to Information (RTI) had been in vain, while the Punjab Human Rights Commission failed to provide justice.

Wasil, 43, hails from Nikardhuppi village in East Champaran district, Bihar. He came to Punjab in the late 1990s in search of a job. He was employed as the cleaner of a truck that transports apples from Kashmir to Delhi and also worked on fields in Gurdaspur. While he claims to have been taken into custody by the Punjab Police near Pathankot in 2000, the FIR against him records the year of arrest as 2002.

Full report at:

http://www.hindu.com/2011/03/03/stories/2011030357900900.htm

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'Jasmine'-like revolution unlikely in China

Mar 02 2011

Tokyo: Japanese Ambassador to China Uichiro Niwa has said he believes there is no chance that anti-government movements in China inspired by Tunisia's ''Jasmine Revolution'' can topple the authorities as Chinese people do not want to destroy their current living standards as a result.

Niwa told a meeting of the Opposition Liberal Democratic Party on Tuesday that he personally believes Chinese people ''do not have a passion or intention to change the government'' as the country has achieved fast economic growth that has brought about an increase in private income.

Chinese authorities have been ''overreacting'' to democratisation movements that have been sweeping some areas of the Middle East and North Africa and will continue its control of the Internet, to which some 400 million people have access in China, Niwa said.

Even though China will not totally abandon its moderate approach in foreign policy, hard-liners including those in the Chinese Navy will increasingly try to take a stiffer line to secure national interests, the ambassador said.

On bilateral relations that were strained over maritime collisions last September near disputed islands in the East China Sea, Niwa said he is certain that ''warmer winds are blowing'' after a summit meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Chinese President Hu Jintao last November in Yokohama.

The envoy also said Beijing will not likely make decisions involving major political risks before the envisioned change in the country's leadership in the fall of 2012.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/756773/

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‘Abused’ as a blogger, Omar takes to tweeting to resume his story

RIYAZ WANI

Mar 03 2011

Srinagar : Two years after he quit blogging following “a heap of personal abuse”, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is back on the Internet, this time connecting with the people through social networking site Twitter. Omar keeps tweeting through the day, talking about his daily engagements, announcing government decisions, airing his opinions on the day’s issues and responding to queries and suggestions from his online followers.

At times, he posts about waking up feeling a “bit of a zombie”. He also tweets about his daily schedule, which could give nightmares to his security personnel. Be it about a district development board meeting, a security review, a party function or a visit somewhere, Omar ensures he keeps his followers posted.

Once, one of the followers asked how he managed to tweet so often through his busy schedule. Omar responded, “You take a break to go to the loo, I take one to tweet.”

Some of his tweets can make one feel almost part of Omar’s functioning as the Chief Minister. “Heading to the Assembly for the Governor’s address. I’m sure some of my ‘friends’ have some drama planned,” he tweeted on Monday morning. Two hours later, he added: “Now flying to the valley for a public meeting. Back this afternoon for the oath ceremony of the State Chief Information Commissioner.”

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/756983/

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Pakistan court rejects Davis' claim about diplomatic immunity

Mar 3, 2011

LAHORE: In a setback to US efforts to seek early release of its national Raymond Davis arrested for a double murder, a Pakistani court today rejected his claim that he has diplomatic immunity and said it would go ahead with his trial.

During the last hearing of the case, 37-year-old Davis, a suspected CIA contractor, had filed an application in which he insisted that he had immunity.

Lawyers representing the families of the two men shot dead by Davis in Lahore in January and the prosecution counsel today presented their arguments during proceedings conducted behind closed doors at Kot Lakhpat Jail by Additional District and Sessions Judge Yousuf Aujla.

After hearing the arguments of defence and prosecution lawyers, Judge Aujla said no authentic document had been presented by Davis or the Pakistan government to show that the American national had diplomatic immunity.

The judge said a note provided by the US embassy was not sufficient to prove Davis' diplomatic status.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pakistan-court-rejects-Davis-claim-about-diplomatic-immunity/articleshow/7618327.cms#ixzz1FX8xdiTh

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Raymond Davis’ hearing underway in Kot Lakhpat

Mar 03 2011

LAHORE: The hearing of US citizen Raymond Davis is currently underway in Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore.

Davis is expected to be charged with murder and possession of illegal arms today, DawnNews reported.

In the previous hearing, Raymond refused to accept the documents that stated the charges against him because they were in the Urdu language making it unreadable for him. After which he was presented a copy of the documents in English.

Sessions Judge, Yousuf Ojla heard the case where Davis was first presented in handcuffs.

Davis was not represented by a lawyer in the previous hearing; however the application of diplomatic immunity had been filed.

The court also issued notices to the lawyers of government and victims relatives.

US consul general in Lahore, Cormela Conroy is also present at the hearing in Kot Lakhpat Jail.

http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/03/raymond-davis-expected-to-be-charged-in-court-today.html

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Bangladesh Nobel laureate Yunus challenges removal from Grameen Bank: Lawyers

Mar 3, 2011

DHAKA, Bangladesh: Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus has petitioned Bangladesh's high court to reverse a government order dismissing him as the head of the microfinance bank he founded.

Lawyer Sara Hossain says Yunus challenged the government order as illegal. The court was to hold a formal hearing later Thursday.

Bangladesh's central bank ordered Yunus out of Grameen Bank on Wednesday, arguing that he violated the country's retirement laws.

The government owns a 25% stake in the bank, while the remainder is owned by its borrowers.

Grameen said Yunus would remain in his post.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Bangladesh-Nobel-laureate-Yunus-challenges-removal-from-Grameen-Bank-Lawyers/articleshow/7617590.cms#ixzz1FX96KbiM

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'Pirates won't free hostages selectively'

Yudhvir Rana

Mar 3, 2011

AMRITSAR: "Somali captors of six Indians, four Pakistanis, four Sri Lankans and 11 Egyptians have refused to free Indian and Pakistani hostages and demanded a deposit of one million US dollars in the offshore branch of Dayax Islamic Bank as ransom amount," Pakistan's former human rights minister Ansar Burney told TOI from Karachi on Wednesday.

The pirates had hijacked MV Suez with the flag of Panama from the Gulf of Aden on August 2, 2010.

Sharing his conversation with one of the pirates, Mohammad Yaseen Artan, on Wednesday morning on phone, Burney said, "They have not only refused to free hostages selectively, but have also demanded that one million US dollars be deposited in the bank for extending the deadline of their elimination".

Burney, who claims to be negotiating with Somali captors for the release of Indian and Pakistan hostages on humanitarian grounds, had told TOI on Tuesday that "the pirates had given five days' ultimatum for depositing the ransom for the life of hostages".

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Pirates-wont-free-hostages-selectively/articleshow/7616373.cms#ixzz1FVZrUgSZ

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Appeals court orders Madinah judge to review Sumiati case

Mar 3, 2011

MAKKAH: The Court of Appeals has returned the case of Sumiati Binti Salan Mustapa, the Indonesian housemaid who was allegedly tortured by her Saudi woman employer, to the General Court in Madinah to review the verdict, sources close to the court told Arab News on Wednesday.

The sources, who did not want to be identified, said the court noted that the judge in Madinah issued his ruling on the public right before the private one.

“The Madinah judge should have first looked at the private right and issue his verdict on it,” the sources said.

The judge sentenced the Saudi woman to three years imprisonment, which was considered by the lawyers of the housemaid and the Indonesian government to be very light.

The judge accused the Saudi defendant of trading in human beings, but her two lawyers, Ahmed Al-Rashid and Abdul Rahman Hajjar, filed an appeal.

A spokesman of the Indonesian Foreign Ministry described the ruling as very light and said it would be appealed. He said the Saudi woman should have been sentenced to 15 years  in prison at least.

Indonesian President  Susilo Mambang Yudhoyono described the violence against the 23-year-old  Sumiati as “unnatural” and dispatched Women's Affairs Minister Linda Gumelar to Saudi Arabia to follow up on the case.

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article296284.ece

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Iran opposition says 79 arrested in protests

Mar 3, 2011

TEHRAN: Iran’s opposition said at least 79 people were arrested at protest rallies on Tuesday that the government denied had taken place at all.

Authorities have deployed large numbers of security forces to prevent any repeat of the massive unrest that followed hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 2009 re-election, and on Wednesday state media made no mention of Tuesday’s rallies.

Opposition websites said thousands of people demonstrated in Tehran and other cities to demand the release of “Green movement” leaders Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi who they believe were taken from their homes last week and jailed.

Prosecutor-General Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei denied the arrests, saying both men were still in their homes but were being prevented from communicating with the outside world.

According to opposition website Sahamnews, at least 79 people were arrested on Tuesday. Sites said some 1,500 were arrested on Feb. 14 during the Green movement’s first rally in more than a year, which was called to show support for pro-democracy uprisings in North Africa.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article295604.ece

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S. Sudan fighting leaves dozens dead in tense area

By MAGGIE FICK

Mar 3, 2011

JUBA, Sudan: Fighting in a tense area of Southern Sudan last weekend killed dozens of people only weeks after some 240 people died in violence in the same area, two officials said Wednesday.

The clashes could destabilize what is soon to be the world’s newest country.

Rebel leader George Athor said his forces fought with the southern military on Sunday in Southern Sudan’s Jonglei state. The spokesman for the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army, Col. Philip Aguer, confirmed that the fighting took place.

The death tolls provided by the two men varied widely.

Athor said 110 people died in the fighting, mostly southern soldiers but also 12 civilians. Aguer said around 40 were killed. He didn’t specify if they were soldiers or civilians, but he called Athor’s toll an exaggeration.

“I don’t know why he should be proud of killing. The (southern army) is trying to protect against what Gen.

Athor did on the 9th and 10th of February in Fangak,” he added, referring to the fighting three weeks ago.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article295502.ece

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Turkey rejects Kurdish demand on imprisoned leader

By SELCAN HACAOGLU

Mar 3, 2011

ANKARA: Turkey’s government on Wednesday rejected a demand by a pro-Kurdish party to move the imprisoned Kurdish rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan from a prison island and into a house arrest, indicating the government is not ready for any major concessions even as it seeks to reconcile with minority Kurds.

“Our answer is very clear. Such a thing is out of question,” Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin told reporters.

“It is not possible under existing laws.”

The demand by pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party, the leading Kurdish political movement in the country, was also echoed by Ocalan’s Kurdish rebels.

Meanwhile, a court in the southeastern city of Siirt ordered 13 Kurds jailed Wednesday, pending trial on charges of membership in the youth wing of Ocalan’s Kurdish rebel group, the Anatolia news agency said Ocalan’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the European Union, took up arms in 1984 to seek an independent Kurdish state. It has since changed demands and says it is fighting for an autonomy within Turkey.

Ocalan is serving a life sentence on the prison island of Imrali. He was captured in Kenya in 1999, before a Turkish court sentenced him to death, which was later commuted to life in prison.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article295506.ece

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Pope exonerates Jews for Jesus death in new book

Mar 03 2011

Vatican City: Pope Benedict XVI has made a sweeping exoneration of the Jewish people for the death of Jesus Christ, tackling one of the most controversial issues in Christianity in a new book.

In Jesus of Nazareth-Part II, excerpts released Wednesday, Benedict uses biblical and theological analyses to explain why there was no basis in Scripture that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for Jesus’ death.

Interpretations to the contrary have been used for centuries to justify the persecution of Jews. While the Vatican has for five decades taught that Jews weren’t collectively responsible, Jewish scholars said Wednesday the argument laid out by the German-born pontiff, who has had his share of mishaps with Jews, was significant and would help fight anti-Semitism today.

Full report at:

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/757082/

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/gaddafi-strikes-back,-bombs-brega/d/4218


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