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Islamic World News ( 12 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Hindu pilgrims pray at a mosque in Kerala

Tombs suggest pyramids not built by slaves

India and Bangladesh sign five agreements

Israel and US behind Tehran blast - Iranian state media

Pray for me, militant’s last word to his parents

Christians face repression in Egypt and Malaysia

Yemen Remains Fertile for Jihad, say terrorism experts

Engineers Over-Represented Among Violent Islamic Radicals, Study Shows

Yasin Malik warns risk of more Kashmir violence

Alastair Campbell defends 'every word' of Iraq dossier

Government to ban Islam4UK under terror laws

Dutch inquiry says Iraq war had no mandate

Islamic Society of North America Taps Educator for Executive's Job

Ft. Hood report to examine military review system

Weakness is Strength - Dealing with Terror in the Middle East

Poll: Israelis more tolerant of Islam than Swiss

Bear in mind that wounds do heal but scars remain

Ruckus in Indo-Pak peace moot as speakers urge Kashmir settlement

Could the Pakistani Government Fall over Karachi Violence?

 What would it mean for Obama's War on al-Qaeda?

Trial underway for Baha'i leaders in Iran

Under Obama, U.S. has taken a step back in war on terror

Anti- radicalization Islamic summit in Chicago used as a platform for extremist invective From the streets of Iraq, Israel and Iran to your e-mail inbox every day

Peace in the Middle East

Why does al-Qaida kill?

Al-Awlaki, The Translator Of Jihad: How Influential Is Yemen's Mystery Man?

Terror trial verdict is "dangerous," says Tatchell

Iran - Enemies against existence of even one developed Muslim state

Egypt’s ugly sectarianism face

Five Muslims guilty over anti-military march in Britain

Egyptian university bans replacing niqab with surgical masks

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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Hindu pilgrims pray at a mosque in Kerala

January 12, 2010

Kerala: Cutting across the religious barriers, thousands of Hindu pilgrims held prayers at a mosque on their way to the famous hilltop Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

Devotees on their way to the Sabarimala temple held special prayers, at the shrine dedicated to saint Vavar or Babar, also known as Vavaraswami, a Muslim saint who became a devotee of Lord Ayyappan.

"We visit the Sabarimala temple every year. We make offerings to Lord Ayyapan, only after paying offerings to Vavaraswami. They bless our body, mind and souls," said Sethu Raman, a Hindu devotee.

The gates of the mosque are thrown open to Hindu pilgrims during the daylong ceremony. Some devotees take a round of the mosque riding on elephants.

Muslims greet Hindu devotees by smearing their faces with ash and sandal paste while the pilgrims offer coconuts at the shrine.

"Erumeli has a special place in the history of the world, because this is an epitome of communal harmony. People believe that Vavaraswami also visits the Sabarimala temple with the devotees," said Mohammad Yousuf, a Muslim devotee.

Legend has it that Vavar was a warrior who reached the shore of Kerala as a pirate in a ship to loot and plunder. During his encounter with Lord Ayyappan, he was defeated and subdued by the Lord, and since then he became a close associate of the Lord.

Vavar later settled down at Erumeli and breathed his last there. A shrine was later constructed at his tomb.


Tombs suggest pyramids not built by slaves

12 January 2010

CAIRO: New tombs found in Giza support the view that the Great Pyramids were built by free workers and not slaves, as widely believed, Egypt’s chief archaeologist said.

Films and media have long depicted slaves toiling away in the desert to build the mammoth pyramids only to meet a miserable death at the end of their efforts.

“These tombs were built beside the king’s pyramid, which indicates that these people were not by any means slaves,” Zahi Hawass, the chief archaeologist heading the Egyptian excavation team, said in a statement. “If they were slaves, they would not have been able to build their tombs beside their king’s.”

He said the collection of workers’ tombs, some of which were found in the 1990s, were among the most significant finds in the 20th and 21st centuries. They belonged to workers who built the pyramids of Khufu and Khafre.

Hawass had earlier found graffiti on the walls from workers calling themselves “friends of Khufu” — another sign that they were not slaves. The tombs, on the Giza plateau on the western edge of Cairo, are 4,510 years old and lie at the entrance of a one-km-long necropolis.

Hawass said evidence had been found showing that farmers in the Delta and Upper Egypt had sent 21 buffalo and 23 sheep to the plateau every day to feed the builders, believed to number around 10,000 — or about a tenth of Greek historian Herodotus’s estimate of 100,000. These farmers were exempted from paying taxes to the government of ancient Egypt — evidence that he said underscored the fact they were participating in a national project.


India and Bangladesh sign five agreements

India and Bangladesh have signed five agreements including treaties on tackling cross-border crime and combating terrorism.

The agreements were signed on the first day of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's official visit to India.

They included a pledge by Delhi to provide a $1bn credit to improve Bangladesh's infrastructure.

The announcement was made after Sheikh Hasina met her Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh.

Officials say that much of the money provided by India will be used for improving Bangladesh's railway network and dredging the rivers shared between the two countries.

Sheikh Hasina assured the Indians that Bangladesh would not allow its soil to be used by groups "inimical to India".

'Strong relations'

Ties between the two have improved after Sheikh Hasina's Awami League-led government came to power last year.

Sheikh Hasina (R) receives the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development from Indian President Pratibha Patil

Since then Bangladesh has cracked down on Indian separatist rebels sheltering in the country and handed over several senior rebel leaders to India.

Nearly 200 fighters belonging to rebel groups in Assam and Tripura have fled the crackdown in Bangladesh and some have already surrendered.

"We are confident that this visit would serve to underline that strong India-Bangladesh relations are vital, not just for both our countries, but for the entire region and the international community," Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said.

Sheikh Hasina met Mr Singh and ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday. On Tuesday she received the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development.

She said that she was deeply honoured to receive the prize and thanked the Indian president, prime minister and Mrs Gandhi.

"This most prestigious prize also greatly honours my country and people," Sheikh Hasina said.

Correspondents say the two countries still have a range of contentious issues to resolve ranging from the sharing of river waters to demarcation of a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal.

Bangladesh and India share more than 50 rivers but Bangladesh believes it is not getting enough water, as India has built a number of dams upstream.

The dispute over the maritime border is important as it is believed that there may be vast gas and oil deposits in the Bay of Bengal.

Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Dipu Moni told the BBC that the country was prepared to go the UN if bilateral negotiations failed to solve the maritime boundary dispute.


Israel and US behind Tehran blast - Iranian state media

12 Jan 2010

The BBC's Jon Leyne says Iran's opposition members will fear the attack could be used against them

Iranian state media have accused Israel and the US of being involved in a bomb attack which killed an Iranian physicist in Tehran.

State broadcaster Irib quoted Iran's foreign ministry spokesman as saying there were signs of Israeli and US involvement "in the terrorist act".

Masoud Ali Mohammadi - described as a "devoted revolutionary professor" - was killed by a remotely-controlled bomb.

Israel and the US have so far made no comments about Tuesday's blast.

The implication was clear - it was a Western plot to sabotage Iran's nuclear programme. But as so often in Iran, there was more to it.

Reports in the Iranian media described Mr Mohammadi as a nuclear physicist, but it appears that his field of study was quantum theory.

There was also confusion as to whether the attack had any political overtones.

One university official said Mr Mohammadi was not a political figure. But other reports said his name appeared on a list of academics backing opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi before the 2009 presidential election.

Tensions have been high in Iran since the disputed election led to mass protests against the government.

Mr Mohammadi, who worked at Tehran University, "was killed in a booby-trapped motorbike blast" in the city's northern Qeytariyeh district, state-run Press TV reported earlier.

It showed pictures from the scene of the blast, saying windows in the nearby buildings had been shattered by the force of the explosion.

'Triangle of wickedness'

Local media reports say the bomb was attached to a motorcycle parked outside Mr Mohammadi's home, although one agency said it had been planted in a rubbish bin.

Masoud Ali Mohammadi

Irib later quoted Iran's foreign ministry spokesman as saying that "in the initial investigation, signs of the triangle of wickedness by the Zionist regime, America and their hired agents, are visible in the terrorist act".

Press TV quoted security officials at the scene as saying that the equipment and system of the bomb used in the attack had been related to a number of foreign intelligence agencies, particularly Israel's Mossad.

In its earlier report, Irib said Mr Mohammadi "was martyred this morning in a terrorist act by anti-revolutionary and arrogant powers' elements".

The BBC's Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne, who is in London, says Iran usually refers to its enemies in the West as "the arrogant powers".

The opposition in Iran will fear that Tuesday's blast will be used against it as part of a crackdown, our correspondent adds.

Police sealed off the area and launched an investigation into the incident.

Some conservatives have suggested that the People's Mujahideen Organisation - a banned militant group opposed to the Tehran government - was involved. The group denied the accusation.

No-one has claimed responsibility for the blast and at this stage there could only be speculation as to possible motives for the attack, correspondents say.

There has been much controversy over Iran's nuclear activities.

Tehran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful energy purposes, but the US and other Western nations suspect it of seeking to build nuclear weapons.

In December, Tehran accused Saudi Arabia of detaining an Iranian nuclear scientist and handing him over to the US.

Saudi Arabia denied the claim.


Pray for me, militant’s last word to his parents

New Delhi, January 12, 2010

Participation in the agitation against “transferring” land to the Amarnath shrine board in 2008 changed the life of Manzoor Ahmad, who died in a gunbattle with the security forces here last Thursday.

“The 2008 agitation changed him completely,” said Manzoor’s father, Ghulam Rasool Bhat, who works as a domestic help in Sopore, 50 km north of Srinagar.

Manzoor (21) did not sport a beard, neither was he seen to be wearing an overall of the Pathan variety. Rather, his

hairstyle resembled that of an upwardly mobile young man.

He painted. A resident of Paeth Seer, 2 km from Sopore town, Manzoor was not motivated by an ideologue or Islamic theology. He was opposed to the Jammu & Kashmir government's decision to hand over land for those going to Amarnath, a Hindu pilgrimage.

The decision misfired and the agitation started, leading to the resignation of Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Police firing during the Muzaffarabad (in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) march on August 11, 2008, was the watershed event. The Hurriyat

gave the call for the march, opposing the “economic blockade” of the Kashmir region by pro-Amarnath activists in Jammu, after the state government’s decision was annulled.

“Manzoor (participated in the march) and got stranded at a mosque for two days after the march. He returned a changed man,” Bhat said.

Manzoor’s relatives said he would talk about the firing, in which senior Hurriyat leader Sheikh Aziz was killed.

“He was perturbed by the excesses meted out to people during the agitation,” said the militant’s uncle, also called Manzoor Ahmad.

Manzoor was second among four siblings. A Class IX dropout, he left home to join militancy in September last year in the month of Ramazan (holy month of the Islamic calendar).

“(During the month) he told his mother that he was going ‘for work and it would take him some days to finish it’,” said Bhat, sitting in his two-storeyed mud-and-brick house.

The family filed a case with the Sopore police station. Later, the family learnt that Manzoor had joined some militant group.

Just four days before his militant act near Lal Chowk on Wednesday, Ahmad went to see his parents. “He asked us to pray for him and said he was going to renovate a house and it will take him some time,” said Bhat.


Christians face repression in Egypt and Malaysia, but positive change in Nepal

By Agencies

12 Jan 2010

Jerusalem Lutheran Bishop, Munib Younan, has denounced the killing of six Coptic Christians in Egypt and has offered support to the patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.

"The attack is horrifying and puts fear in the hearts of Christians in Egypt," Younan declared in an 11 January 2009 statement to Ecumenical News International from Beirut, where he is attending the general assembly of the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches.

The six Coptic Christians and a Muslim security officer were killed at a church in Nag Hamadi on 6 January, the eve of their Christmas celebration.

Meanwhile, churches in Malaysia were full of worshippers despite attacks against Christian places of worship in recent days in a dispute about the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslim minorities.

"People's faith is greater than what's happening around [them] so they continue to go to church and pray for themselves as well as for the nation," said the Rev Hermen Shastri, the General Secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia, on 10 January, the Agence France-Presse news agency reported.

Shastri said heightened security measures had been taken following the attacks, which came after a court decision that opened the way for non-Muslim minorities to use the word "Allah" in their religious books and publications.

In another part of the world, change is afoot in a more positive direction.

In 1986, the Rev Anthony Sharma was arrested for conducting an Easter service in Nepal, then the only Hindu kingdom in the world, and one where converts were punished. Today, the south Asian state is secular and Christianity is growing, especially in prisons, where some inmates say they are comforted by the message of forgiveness and love brought by Christian ministers.

"Things have changed," says Sharma, who was appointed Nepal's first Roman Catholic bishop by the Vatican in 2007, a year after the fall of the military-backed government of King Gyanendra. This led to the abolition of the monarchy and the end of Hinduism as the state religion.


Yemen Remains Fertile for Jihad, say terrorism experts

By Jim Kouri

January - 11 - 2010

While the Obama Administration and Pentagon officials tout the message that the country of Yemen is an ally of the United States in the war against al-Qaeda, security and counterterrorism experts warn that the Yemeni government is weak, corrupt and ill equipped to capture terrorists in their midst.

These experts also believe Yemen will continue to witness foreign fighters seeking to participate in ‘jihad” pouring into that beleaguered Islamic nation.

On Sunday, the London Times quoted the President of Yemen as saying he was willing to strike a deal with al-Qaeda if militants laid down their weapons. President Ali Abdullah Saleh believe he can negotiate with members of the terrorist network.

However, even as he spoke with reporters covering the civil unrest in one of the world’s poorest nations, US officials acknowledged that al-Qaeda members from countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia were leaving the battlefields of Afghanistan to join their “brothers” in the fertile terrorist haven in Yemen, especially the lawless tribal lands in the south.


Engineers Over-Represented Among Violent Islamic Radicals, Study Shows

January 12, 2010

CAMBRIDGE, UNITED KINGDOM- Engineers, relative to other graduates, are over-represented among violent Islamic radicals by three to four times, a new study published in the European Journal of Sociology aims to show.

In the study Why are there so many Engineers among Islamic radicals? researchers Diego Gambetta from the University of Oxford and Steffen Hertog from Sciences Po in Paris, propose that there are links between a general mindset that is more prevalent among engineering students, and engineers' relative deprivation in some parts of the Islamic world, which can combine to create Islamic radicalisation.

After researching the background of 404 individual members of violent Islamic groups active in the Muslim world the researchers were then able to find the subject of study for 178 members and of these, 78 members (44 per cent) had studied for an engineering degree. In this sample there were individuals from 30 nationalities; the average share of engineers among the total male working population from these same countries is about 3.5 per cent.

The second most popular subject studied was Islamic Studies (34 members), followed by medicine (14 members), sciences (7 members), education (5 members), with 46 members taking other or unknown degrees making up the remainder.

The over-representation of engineers survives even when comparing data from Jihadists based in Western countries to those in Muslim countries, although the proportion of graduates recruited to Western-based radical Islam groups is lower.

Statistical analysis of poll data on US faculty shows that the odds of being both religious and conservative are seven times greater for engineers relative to the odds of a social scientist. Engineering as a degree might also be more attractive to individuals seeking cognitive "closure" and clear cut answers – a disposition that has been empirically linked to conservative political attitudes.

Individuals with above-average skills are also particularly exposed to the frustration and sense of injustice that comes from finding their professional future hampered by lack of opportunities. This happened on a large scale as a result of the economic and technological development failures that Middle East countries have witnessed since the 1970s, and the crash of oil prices in 1982.

The researchers believe these socio-economic factors, combined with the general mindset of engineers, help to explain why there is such a high proportion of engineers in the sample.

Diego Gambetta says: "The number of militant engineers relative to the total population of engineers is miniscule – yet engineers, relative to other graduates, are over-represented among violent Islamic radicals. Without the severe lack of professional opportunities that engineers had to endure in the Middle East, particularly after the painful economic crises that set in with the collapse of oil prices after 1982, we would not find an over-representation of graduates among violent Islamic radicals – as indeed we do not find it either in the West, in Singapore or even in Saudi Arabia where we know that graduates fared much better professionally.

However, we believe our study shows that without the mindset of the engineer which inclines them on average to take more extreme conservative and religious positions, the engineers in our sample would have largely limited themselves to non-violent forms of radicalisation."

Steffen Hertog agrees, saying: "In the case of the Middle East, deprivation and mindset seem to have worked together, selecting elite graduates first and then engineers among them, which could explain the much larger scale of the phenomenon, while in the West and in Singapore mindset alone seems to explain the phenomenon."


Yasin Malik warns risk of more Kashmir violence

12 Jan 2010

NEW DELHI: Kashmir risks a return to militancy and violent protests if New Delhi fails to push a stalled peace process in the disputed region, one of the state's most influential separatist leaders said on Tuesday.

Yasin Malik's comments came amid a spurt in militant attacks in Kashmir in the last week, combined with diplomatic limbo between India and Pakistan that further complicates US efforts to battle Islamist militancy in the region.

Talks over Kashmir between the Congress party-led government and separatist groups broke down in 2006.

While at least 47,000 people have been killed since the start of an insurgency in 1989, the region has gradually become free of violence in the last few years.

Huge and mostly peaceful protests by pro-separatist Kashmiris in 2008 and 2009 sparked hopes New Delhi may try to reignite a peace process, but both sides made little progress amid mutual suspicion and New Delhi's fraught ties with Islamabad after the Mumbai attacks.

"The need of the hour is to restore the credibility of the dialogue process," Yasin Malik, head of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front which pushes for a peaceful campaign for Kashmiri independence, told Reuters during a conference in New Delhi.

"It has taken us so many years with a very hard effort to bring a transition from violent movement to non-violent movement. This transition needs to be respected ... If Kashmiris are not given respect they could fall back to a violent past."

Many experts see a peace process in Kashmir as key to improving relations with Pakistan, allowing Islamabad to divert its resources from its eastern border to focus on helping the United States battle Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

But New Delhi continues to drag its feet over holding talks with Pakistan, which lays claim to Kashmir, saying that it must first crack down on militants behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

After a year of relative calm, at least seven militants have been killed in separate gunbattles in Indian Kashmir over the last week, including one incident when militants holed up in a hotel in the heart of Srinagar for nearly 24 hours.

"For 15 years I have been propagating non-violence but ... there are signs of frustration among both the youth and the older people, because there were huge protests and no one seemed to listen," said Malik, a former militant.

Mostly Muslim Kashmir is at the core of decades of hostility between India and Pakistan and was the cause of two of their three wars since independence from British rule in 1947. They both claim it in full but rule it in part.

Malik's history underscores the problems facing the peaceful separatist cause. Imprisoned as a militant in 1990, he renounced violence and declared a ceasefire in 1994, but he has been often imprisoned and his peaceful aims have so far given little fruit.

"Since the ceasefire I have lost 600 colleagues and been arrested 200 times. There have been three attempts on my life," Malik said, before rolling up his trousers to show what he said were the marks of torture by Indian security forces.

Last year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offered to help resume talks over Pakistan and Kashmir. Little headway is visible, but some officials say a dialogue between the rivals is being carried on outside public scrutiny.

"I have no reason to doubt his integrity," Malik said. "But he is surrounded by military bureaucracy, he is surrounded by civil bureaucracy. Some of these people are constraining him."


Alastair Campbell defends 'every word' of Iraq dossier

12 Jan 2010

Tony Blair's ex-spokesman Alastair Campbell has said he "defends every single word" of the 2002 dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Mr Campbell told the UK's Iraq war inquiry the dossier could have been "clearer" but did not "misrepresent" the threat from Saddam's weapons.

During a three-hour session he also denied claims Mr Blair "shifted" to back regime change after a US summit.

He said Mr Blair had hoped to disarm Iraq via the UN right up to the war.

But he also revealed that Mr Blair had written privately to President Bush several times in 2002 signalling that the UK "will be there" should diplomacy fail and military action take place.

Countdown to war

Mr Campbell is the most prominent figure to appear so far before the inquiry, which is looking at UK policy before and after the 2003 war.

As No 10 director of communications between 1997 and 2003, he played a key role in the drawing up of the government's September 2002 dossier on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot said he was seeking answers from Mr Campbell about the "presentation of the case" for military action in Iraq.


An ex-journalist, Alastair Campbell was Tony Blair's press secretary between 1994 and 2003 and No 10 director of communications from 1997 to 2003.

Mr Campbell, who has given evidence to three previous inquiries on Iraq, said claims that Mr Blair "tightened" his stance on regime change on Iraq following a meeting with President Bush at his Crawford ranch - made by former UK ambassador to the US Sir Christopher Meyer- were not "accurate".

He said Sir Christopher - when he appeared before the inquiry last month - had given a "wrong portrayal" of the meeting and UK policy was still focused on disarming Iraq and getting it to abide by UN resolutions.

"I do not really accept this analysis that there was a fundamental shift of approach and policy by the prime minister," he said.

Mr Campbell said Mr Blair did not think Saddam Hussein should be confronted simply because President Bush "wanted" to confront him.

Alastair Campbell forced his way through a scrum of photographers and TV cameramen when he arrived an hour ahead of his scheduled appearance time at the Iraq Inquiry.

The former Downing Street spin-doctor had already removed his jacket as he was escorted into the QEII Conference Centre, perhaps an early sign that he was ready for business. Members of the public had been queuing outside from as early as 7am.

The session got off to a prickly start when committee member, Sir Roderic Lyne asked Mr Campbell if he would have done "anything" for Tony Blair. "Well if he'd asked me to jump off a building, I wouldn't", replied Campbell. There was a gentle rebuke from Sir Roderic who asked Campbell to be serious.

Full report at;


Government to ban Islam4UK under terror laws

12 Jan 2010

A radical Islamist group that planned a march through Wootton Bassett will be banned under counter-terrorism laws, Home Secretary Alan Johnson has said.

Islam4UK had planned the protest at the Wiltshire town to honour Muslims killed in the Afghanistan conflict.

The government had been considering outlawing the group - Islam4UK is also known as al-Muhajiroun.

A spokesman for Islam4UK told the BBC it was an "ideological and political organisation", and not a violent one.

Mr Johnson said: "I have today laid an order which will proscribe al-Muhajiroun, Islam4UK, and a number of the other names the organisation goes by.

"It is already proscribed under two other names - al-Ghurabaa and The Saved Sect.

"Proscription is a tough but necessary power to tackle terrorism and is not a course we take lightly.


More from Today programme

"We are clear that an organisation should not be able to circumvent proscription by simply changing its name."

Under the Terrorism Act 2000, a group can be banned if it "commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for, promotes or encourages terrorism or is otherwise concerned in terrorism".

Groups can also be outlawed if they "unlawfully glorify the commission or preparation of acts of terrorism".

Islam4UK spokesman Anjem Choudary told BBC Radio 4: "What the people will see is if you don't agree with the government and you want to expose their foreign policy, then freedom quickly dissipates and turns into dictatorship."

He denied Islam4UK members were involved in violence: "I challenge anyone to authentically prove that any of our members have been involved in any violent activities or promoting violent activities or asking anyone to carry out any sort of military operations.

"We are always at pains to stress that we are an ideological and political organisation.

'Whatever price necessary'

"We won't be using those names and those platforms which have been proscribed, but I can't stop being a Muslim, I can't stop propagating Islam, I can't stop praying, I can't stop calling for the Sharia.

"That's something I must do, and ultimately I will pay whatever price I need to for my belief."

Full report at;


Dutch inquiry says Iraq war had no mandate

12 Jan 2010

An inquiry into the Netherlands' support for the invasion of Iraq says it was not justified by UN resolutions.

The Dutch Committee of Inquiry on Iraq said UN Security Council resolutions did not "constitute a mandate for... intervention in 2003".

The inquiry was launched after foreign ministry memos were leaked that cast doubt on the legal basis for the war.

The Netherlands gave political support to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but had no military role.

The report demolishes the Dutch case for supporting the invasion, says the BBC's Europe correspondent Jonny Dymond.

It could also be taken to reinforce the international case against the Iraq war, he says.

The report accuses ministers of a selective use of intelligence reports, and says Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende "gave little or no leadership to debates over the Iraq question", which was steered by the foreign minister at the time, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

Mr Balkenende formally thanked the committee for its report, but said he needed time to study it before responding.

Political loyalty

Mr Balkenende decided to join the "coalition of the willing" assembled by US President George W Bush because, he said, Saddam Hussein had consistently flouted UN resolutions and possessed weapons of mass destruction.

The Dutch parliament opposed the decision to back the invasion.

Committee chairman, Willibrord Davids, said the Netherlands' loyalty to its alliance with the US and UK had taken precedence over the need to ensure the legality of the invasion.

The committee said there had been no UN mandate for the attack, putting the decision to join at odds with international law.

It said "the wording of [UN Security Council] Resolution 1441 cannot reasonably be interpreted as authorising individual member states to use military force".

Iraq's breach of Resolution 1441, which gave Iraq "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations", was used by the coalition, and the Netherlands, to justify its invasion.

However, a memo from the time by Dutch foreign ministry lawyers, subsequently leaked, suggested the war was in fact illegal under international law.

The inquiry said there was no evidence to support rumours that the Dutch military took part in the invasion.

While the government has always said its military was not involved, questions had been raised because Dutch troops were taking part in exercises nearby at the time.

Dutch forces became part of the stabilisation force that was deployed to Iraq in the years after the war.

The Dutch parliament is likely now to consider whether the prime minister misled parliament, and whether to launch a formal parliamentary inquiry.


Islamic Society of North America Taps Educator for Executive's Job

January 11, 2010

(RNS) The Islamic Society of North America, one of the most visible Muslim organizations in the United States, has appointed Chicago lawyer and youth leader Safaa Zarzour as its next secretary general.

Zarzour's appointment comes on the heels of several terror-related incidents involving young Muslims that have cast suspicion on Muslim Americans and provoked concerns about Muslim youth being vulnerable to Islamic extremist propaganda.

Zarzour, 45, acknowledged concerns about extremists preying on young Muslim Americans, and said Muslim parents and religious leaders needed to better engage younger Muslims.

"We need to have the ability to pay attention to our youth, and make sure they aren't being swayed by influences that our contrary to Islam,"

he said. "We need better training of our own cadre of imams who can contextualize Islam in terms of the American experience."

Born in Syria before moving to the United States in the mid-1980s, Zarzour has more than 10 years experience as a teacher and principal at Universal School in Chicago, one of the largest Islamic schools in the United States. He currently chairs the Council of Islamic Schools of North America, an association of 50 schools and organizations.

Unlike other well-known Muslim groups that focus on civil rights issues, the Plainfield, Ind.-based ISNA deals with education, youth, and community organizing.

Zarzour said his main responsibility will be to advise and support the work of Ingrid Mattson, a Canadian-born convert who was elected ISNA's first female president in 2006.

"I am particularly optimistic that his commitment to the formation of responsible and engaged American Muslim youth will help ISNA develop more services responding to their needs and ample potential," she said in a statement.

Zarzour has taught Islamic law at Loyola University Law School, and has served in his local community of Bridgeview, Ill., as a zoning commissioner and in other public and philanthropic positions.

He has also participated in the Mid-Atlantic Muslim-Catholic Dialogue, and was a member of the Bernadine Center at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He replaces Muneer Fareed, an Islamic Studies professor who resigned his position in late 2008.

-- Omar Sacirbey

Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved.


Ft. Hood report to examine military review system

Julian E. Barnes Washington Bureau

January 11, 2010

WASHINGTON - A Pentagon report on the November massacre at Ft. Hood will pinpoint the role of the military's administrative failings leading up to the incident, including how the accused shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, repeatedly earned favorable performance ratings in spite of mounting concerns about his views and behavior.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is expected to announce preliminary findings Thursday of the investigation into the military's actions leading up to the Ft. Hood attack, in which 13 people were killed, defense officials said.

Among other issues, investigators have examined how it was that Hasan received repeated positive performance reviews that allowed his military career to advance despite concerns about inappropriate behavior, including charges that he proselytized patients and discussed extremist Islamic views with colleagues, according to defense officials.

The investigation was lead by retired Adm. Vernon Clark, a former chief of naval operations, and Togo West, a former secretary of the Army. Because of the ongoing criminal investigation of Hasan, a military psychiatrist, a defense official said that findings released Thursday will focus on the military's administrative failings, avoiding details about Hasan's actions.

But the findings are expected to explore why concerns about Hasan's performance at Walter Reed Army Medical Center were not passed on to his supervisors at his next assignment, at Ft. Hood. The investigation is also supposed to point to ways to overhaul the military performance evaluation system.

As widely practiced in Army culture, few performance reviews contain negative comments, and almost all seem outwardly positive. However, at senior levels and in competitive fields, where only a few officers are promoted, an evaluation that is less than effusive in its praise can derail an officer's promotion.

In less competitive fields and at junior levels, the Army has promoted the vast majority of its officers.

Hasan was a highly trained Army specialist. With a shortage of mental health personnel, few such specialized experts are blocked from promotion.

Especially now, the culture that encourages issuance of mainly positive evaluations has undercut the usefulness of the system for evaluating officers' strengths and weaknesses, according to some military officials. Some argue for a system that better alerts others to potential problems with officers' past performance.

Full report at;


Ruckus in Indo-Pak peace moot as speakers urge Kashmir settlement

January 12, 2010

* Group of Kashmiri pandits objects to JKLF chief Yasin Malik’s presence in the moot

* Malik suggests joint body of Indo-Pak political parties on Kashmir

By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: Commotion broke out at a conference of India-Pakistan peace activists when a group of Kashmiri Hindu pundits belonging to Panun Kashmir and Roots in Kashmir (RIK) organisations objected to the presence of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik as a speaker.

Holding placards, they hurled abuses and called Malik a rapist and a murderer before police intervened and escorted majority of them out of the India International Centre (IIC) auditorium.

Malik orated his speech amongst the commotion and challenged the protesters to prove the charges against him.

He accused the pundits of working at the behest of Indian intelligence agencies. “I want migrant Kashmiri pundits to return to their homeland. It is my wish. We are incomplete without them. They are our blood. But some vested interests keep these weeping boys active in Delhi to stop us from raising our concerns,” the JKLF chief said.

Joint body: Amidst the protests, Malik suggested a joint committee of political parties across the borders involving representatives of Congress, BJP, the Pakistan People’s Party, the Pakistan Muslim League and Jamaat-e-Islami to sit down with Kashmiri leaders to draw a road map for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

He also asked media to “grow up” and play a constructive role in the peace process.

Malik said that since 1947, the people of Kashmir had only received conflicts, pointing out that the people of Kashmir did not have a history of violence otherwise.

The JKLF leader said despite his abandoning violence and declaring ceasefire at the behest of Indian civil society activists, he lost some 600 colleagues and bore several attempts on his life.

Full report at;\01\12\story_12-1-2010_pg1_9


Could the Pakistani Government Fall over Karachi Violence? What would it Mean for Obama's War on al-Qaeda?

January 12, 2010

The ongoing political turmoil in a major Pakistani city to which few Americans pay much attention could nevertheless prove pivotal to the Obama administration's AfPak project.

Ten more functionaries from various parties were assassinated in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi on Sunday, on top of the three dozen killed from Thursday through Saturday. Many of those killed have been from the MQM (Muhajir Qaumi Movement), the dominant party in Karachi, which maintains a disciplined and well armed urban militia. Although the situation is murky, this violence appears to be the manifestation of an intense struggle between the MQM and the ruling Pakistan People's party, which controls the province of Sindh in which Karachi is located, as well as the national government. On Saturday, the MQM blamed the violence against its party workers on what it called thugs from the poor district of Lyari, a PPP stronghold. Since 2008 the MQM and the PPP had formed a parliamentary alliance of convenience in Islamabad. But now MQM leaders are saying they will withdraw from the national government.

I am speculating, but I wonder if the PPP in Lyari took its cue from remarks of interior minister Rehman Malik this weekend that he would push for the expulsion of what he characterized as 2 million illegal aliens from Karachi, as well as for the de-weaponization of the city. The MQM represents the interests of what are called the Muhajirs, the Urdu speaking immigrants from India who came as part of the partition of British India into Muslim majority Pakistan and Hindu majority India in 1947. Those outside the MQM in Karachi resent its almost black shirt tactics and its armed paramilitary. (Though to be fair, some MQM leaders have also called for an end to the flow of weapons into the city; some weapons are smuggled by the 2-million strong Pashtun population, a tiny fringe of which sympathizes with the Taliban.) Moreover, the native Sindhis, who support the PPP, feel that the Muhajirs command of the Urdu gave them special access to lucrative government jobs as well as coveted places in universities. (Urdu is Pakistan's national language, but is not spoken natively by Punjabis, Sindhis, Baluchis, or Pashtuns, whereas the Muhajirs speak it at home and so have a linguistic advantage with regard to the national language.) Rumors abound in Pakistan that poor Indian Muslims from provinces such as Bihar continue illegally to immigrate into the city, or are victims of human trafficking, as with poverty-stricken Bihari girls who are then pimped. Such immigration, however, is small and certainly not in the millions!

Full report at;


Trial underway for Baha'i leaders in Iran

January 12, 2010

Seven leaders of Iran's Baha'i minority went on trial in Tehran Tuesday accused of spying for Israel, a charge their supporters say is motivated by religious discrimination.

The seven -- two women and five men -- are also accused of spreading propaganda against the Islamic republic and committing religious offenses, charges that can carry the death penalty.

"We understand that no observers were allowed in the court," said Diane Ala'i, the Baha'i International Community's representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. "We understand that even the lawyers had to argue their way inside the court -- lawyers who, in any case, had virtually no access to the accused for nearly two years."

At the same time, interrogators from the intelligence ministry and a film crew were seen going into the courtroom, Ala'i said.

"We find this completely outrageous, given that these seven have been held purely because of their religious beliefs, in total contradiction to any human rights standards," she said.

They have been held at Tehran's Evin prison since their arrests in March and May 2008. Their trial was delayed twice. Ala'i said it was because the Iranian regime had no basis for a case.

The U.S. State Department on Monday condemned Iran's decision to try the leaders.

"Authorities have detained these persons for more than 20 months, without making public any evidence against them and giving them little access to legal counsel," the department said in a statement.

The Baha'i faith originated in 19th century Persia, but the constitution of today's Islamic republic does not recognize it as a religion and considers followers as apostates.

The Iranian government denies mistreating Baha'is, who number about 300,000 in Iran and are the nation's largest non-Muslim religious minority, according to Baha'i International. But the Baha'is say believers in Iran are victims of systematic discrimination and targets of violence.


Under Obama, U.S. has taken a step back in war on terror


Jan, 11-2010

Why is the Obama administration providing a despicable Nigerian Muslim terrorist named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab with sacred American constitutional rights? Why is Obama going to prosecute him in an American civilian court? Why did Team Obama read this scoundrel his Miranda rights?

On Christmas Day 2009, nearly 300 people escaped death solely because the terrorist's detonator failed to ignite his underwear bomb. In just one year the Obama administration has made America significantly less safe.

I stated before Obama's election that he would weaken America. It was my theory then. But it is certainly no longer in doubt. Obama is so busy trying to socialize America that he has completely taken his eye off of his most important duty: to keep America safe.

There was plenty of evidence that Abdulmutallab was a dangerous terrorist. He should not have been admitted into the United States in the first place.

Obama appears to be more concerned about treating the terrorists like they are Americans. This has endangered every American. A dangerous reality since Sept. 11, 2001 is that Americans have become too complacent. Most are behaving like the Sept. 11 attacks never happened.

Do you remember Obama and his campaign of distortions to win the presidency? Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the radical socialist liberals like them parroted the word "torture" all over the country. This did nothing but aid a very dangerous enemy.

Now, after the Christmas terrorist attack over Detroit, 58 percent of Americans wanted this terrorist to immediately be subjected to waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques to obtain vital information. What happened? This was torture last year? A terrorist attack happened. This changes everything. Only 30 percent of Americans disapprove of the use of these techniques now.

And don't forget about our Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. She said that all government systems worked well immediately following the Christmas day terrorist attack. Say what? Nothing worked. Including the terrorist's bomb detonator.

Full report at;


Anti- radicalization Islamic summit in Chicago used as a platform for extremist invective

By Julia Duin

A major Jewish organization accused several Muslim groups on Monday of using an Islamic summit in Chicago as a platform for extremist and anti-Semitic invective instead of its stated purpose to combat the increasing radicalization of Muslim-American youths.

Based on transcripts or tapes obtained from a Dec. 23-27 convocation of the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) meeting at a Hyatt hotel downtown, the Anti-Defamation League said the gathering "served as a forum for religious scholars and political activists to rail against Jews, call for the eradication of the state of Israel and accuse the United States government as waging a war against Muslims at home and abroad."

The conference, which was the eighth annual gathering for the two groups, was a "sham," the ADL said, in terms of its stated intent to combat the increasing involvement of young Muslims in terrorism.

"It is shocking that this conference, identified by some major Muslim-American groups as the venue to start the process of reform at a time of growing attacks and threats by American Muslim extremists, was a sham and nothing more than a cover for the dissemination of hateful anti-American and anti-Israel views and anti-Semitism," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director.

As advertised on, the conference added a workshop for disenfranchised Muslim youths to interact with about 20 older Islamic scholars after five young American Muslims were arrested in Pakistan last month for connecting with extremist Islamic groups.

Imam Mahdi Bray, executive director of MAS Freedom, had posted a statement saying that the conference would "focus on positive solutions involving issues of hate, violence and intolerance."

Mr. Bray agreed that some remarks at the conference — which had 4,000 attendees and 100 speakers — were "over the top" and that he had complained to the chairman of one session. But he said his group denounced any such statements.

"We take any attack on the Jewish community or anti-Semitism as serious," the imam said. "If there were any speakers who were anti-Semitic, they were totally rejected by us."

The ADL said the conference provided cover for anti-Semitic rants. It said that Rafiq Jaber, former president of the Islamic Association of Palestine, described Jews to the audience as "the worst kind of people," who came to Jerusalem "with false pretenses."

The ADL cited Hamed Ghazali, chairman of the MAS Council of Islamic Schools and professor at the Islamic American University in Michigan, as telling the audience in Arabic that "Allah gave us the Jews" as the primary historical and religious example of those who "take the wrong path."

Full report at;


Weakness is Strength - Dealing with Terror in the Middle East Weakness is Strength - Dealing with Terror in the Middle East

January 12, 2010

In an interview George Mitchell gave to PBS, before embarking on his mission to the Middle East this week, the special envoy referred to the release of Palestinian terrorists in exchange for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held hostage by Hamas in Gaza. He noted that release of the prisoners would inspire other terror organizations around the world to engage in kidnappings.

I have great respect for George Mitchell, the special envoy for President Obama. What's more, the appointment by the U.S. administration of a person of his experience and expertise in conflict resolution is in my view abundant proof of the President's determination to help the parties in our region reach an agreement. But based on my familiarity with the culture and mentality of the people in our region, I differ with Mitchell's on the behavior of terror organizations.

As someone who lives in the Middle East, who has been observing Islamic terror organizations in this area for a long time, I am taking the privilege of sharing my impressions regarding their modes of operation and their guiding principles. Every terror organization, by definition, will attempt to abduct soldiers and civilians from the countries against which it operates. It will try to do so at any given time, and at every opportunity that arises. This is no different from the way a terror organization operates when it carries out a terror attack. As long as it can kill and sow terror and destruction it will not refrain from such actions. After the fact, in retrospect, the terror organization will always find a justification for the attack: the anniversary of the assassination of one or another leader, the anniversary of the "occupation" of some place or another. Occasionally more complex reasons will be given, such as the desire to rid Islamic lands of "infidels" - recall the case of Al-Qaeda and the United States.

It should be remembered that the essence of a terror organization is to kill for the "show", to kill for the sake of spectacle; or, in the case of an abduction, to seize any person anywhere, as long as the victim is considered an asset in a future bargaining for the release of the organization's "warriors". The desire to take a hostage and exchange him for prisoners does not derive from a desire to improve the situation of the prisoners held in the enemy's jails, but rather from a need to preserve the organization's political support base within the local population, from which it recruits its own members and where it breeds it next generation of Shahids (martyrs.)

Full report at;


Poll: Israelis more tolerant of Islam than Swiss

January 12, 2010

Foundation for Ethnic Understanding survey finds less than one-third of all Israeli Jews support banning minarets. 'Results prove there is room for respectful coexistence between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs when it is based on religion and not politics,' foundation's president Rabbi Schneier says


A survey conducted in recent days by The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) through KEEVOON Research found that 43% of Israel's Jews would oppose legislation banning the construction of minarets on Mosques built in Israel while 28% would support a ban, with 29% undecided.

In November 2009, 57.5% of voters in Switzerland approved a referendum banning the construction of minarets on Mosques in their country.

The strongest opposition to banning minarets came from National Religious Israelis. Seventy-two percent of them opposed possible legislation in Israel, of whom 55% defined themselves as “strongly" opposed. Among ultra-Orthodox Jews opposition was 53%, compared to 42% of secular Israelis, and 36% of traditional Israelis. Only 16% of the National Religious would support banning minarets compared to 21% of ultra-Orthodox, 31% of traditional Jews and 29% of secular Jews, the poll showed.

When it comes to freedom of religion Israelis are apparently much more tolerant that their Swiss counterparts," said Rabbi Marc Schneier, President of the US-based FFEU, "There is a definite correlation between religious observance and tolerance towards Islam. Israelis seem to put politics aside as opposition to banning minarets actually increases as we move further to the right on the political spectrum.

"The fact that less than one-third of all Israeli Jews support banning minarets indicates that from the Israeli point of view, there is room for respectful coexistence between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs when it is based on religion and not politics,” he said.

Likud voters express strongest support for ban

Politically, the results were very interesting and corroborated the other demographic information. Ninety-two percent of National Union voters oppose banning minaret construction, of which 65% defined themselves as “strongly" opposed. Following them were voters from United Torah Judaism with 68% opposing legislation, 66% of Meretz voters, 64% of Yisrael Beitenu voters, 55% of Shas voters, and 54% of Habayit Hayehudi voters.

Voters from the 3 main parties, Labor, Kadima and Likud opposed the measure by 43%, 42%, and 41% respectively, according to KEEVOON director Mitchell Barak.

When looking at support for legislation to ban minarets, voters from the Likud expressed the strongest support with 41% followed by Yisrael Beitenu voters with 36%, Kadima voters with 31%, Labour voters with 27%, UTJ voters with 22%, Jewish Home and Shas voters with 20%, and National Union voters with only 8%.

Full report at;,7340,L-3833097,00.html


Bear in mind that wounds do heal but scars remain

January 12, 2010

THE current tensions in Malaysia is deja vu for me. As I read the papers and watch the TV, it takes me thousands of miles and many years back to my small town in India when I was in my teens.

In a primarily high caste Hindu neighbourhood, ours was the only Muslim home. Living together and sharing the joys and sorrows with our neighbours was the way of life for generations.

For our lives were in no way different from that of our neighbours. Every morning, it was the same: struggling for water when we woke up early to pump water before the supplies dried out, men rushing with empty cans to buy milk before the milkman exhausted the supply, and women struggling to send children to school in pursuit of a better life.

Except for our names and the different ways we prayed to the same God for the same things, there was nothing different about us. Yet on Dec 6, 1992, when Babri Masjid was demolished, we were all forced to realise that we were either Hindus or Muslims. The rest of course is history.

It is my appeal to Malaysians to sincerely care for each other’s beliefs and resolve the differences. For wounds take a long time to heal and they do, but scars remain.



Why does al-Qaida kill?

Jan, 12-2010

The fact that most of its victims are Muslim prompts fundamental questions about the violence committed in al-Qaida's name

When western governments are not being sidetracked into thinking up new irritations for airline passengers, they occasionally profess an understanding that the struggle against al-Qaida is a war of ideas. Unfortunately, they have never formulated a clear strategy for how this war might be fought.

One of the few weapons they wield consistently to discredit al-Qaida is the fact of how many Muslims are killed in its attacks. Hence the recent report from the US military academy at West Point, which estimates that 85% of al-Qaida's victims between 2004 and 2008 were non-western and that the figure is even higher – 98% – if you only count from 2006.

One might quibble that dividing the world's population into just western and non-western does not tell you a great deal about who these victims were, but it is fair to concede their conclusion that "the vast majority of al-Qaida's victims are Muslims". So the question arises: why is al-Qaida seemingly unconcerned about causing the death of the very people it claims to protect? The answer given in the report is that the movement has resurrected an old sharia rule – al-tatarrus – that sanctions the killing of Muslims if they are being used as human shields. But faced with increasing criticism from fellow Muslims, surely the group would make a priority of minimising the number of Muslim deaths rather than allowing them to steadily increase.

Another reason suggested in the report is that many of those deaths occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan and al-Qaida could therefore lay the blame on the US and its allies for having started those wars. Take Iraq and Afghanistan out of the equation, and the proportion of western victims rises considerably to 39%. But that still leaves western victims in the minority, and almost all of them resulted from just two attacks, on Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005.

Responding to the report, Patrick Porter of Kings College London argued on his blog that these figures are indicative of a fundamental flaw in al-Qaida's strategy: "One reason why it is struggling, and hated, is that it has failed to confine and limit its war, and therefore failed to inspire and unite the Muslim masses against the great Satan." They have taken on too much – fighting not just the west, but heretics and apostates and anyone who stands in their way.

Some see this as evidence that al-Qaida is actually more interested in fighting a "war within Islam", part of a wider struggle within the Middle East between modernists who want to press ahead with democratisation (which is still at a formative stage in much of the region) and Islamists such as al-Qaida who want a return to some imagined pristine past. This is popular with those who see the US-led war on terror as grossly misconceived (which it has been) and feel that the modernists would surely win if only the west could stop giving democracy such a bad name by invading countries and bombing weddings and so forth.

Full report at;


Al-Awlaki, The Translator Of Jihad: How Influential Is Yemen's Mystery Man?

Jan, 12-2010

Yemen is not only home to a deadly al-Qaeda group, but also to influential Muslim preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who had contacts with two of the 9/11 attackers and the Fort Hood killer. But can the U.S.-born imam be persuaded to distance himself from al-Qaeda?

The place where everything began and, if the Yemeni government has its way, where everything will also end is near the city's new mosque on Street Number 60 in the Hadda neighborhood of San'a, the capital of Yemen. The city's high-security prison, with its clay brown-colored walls and white trim, looks like a modern, albeit heavily guarded gingerbread house.

Anyone who approaches the prison faces the suspicious gaze of soldiers, who record the license-plate numbers of any vehicle they see more than once. The country's security forces have been nervous since Christmas Day, when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian who was trained in Yemen, tried to blow up a U.S. airliner as it approached Detroit.

On Feb. 3, 2006, 23 members of al-Qaeda escaped from this building, probably with the help of guards. The outbreak marked the birth of the second generation of al-Qaeda in Yemen. It also led to a resurgence of the Arabian Peninsula's role as a training ground for militant Islamists. Until then, the Yemeni branch of al-Qaeda appeared to have been defeated. A US drone killed its last leader in 2002, and his successor was arrested in 2003.

Since the 2006 prison break, though, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's militants in Yemen have attacked embassies, bombed oil production facilities and murdered tourists. They also trained and dispatched the 23-year-old Nigerian with explosives in his underwear, aiming to prove, with a spectacular attack, that no one in the West was safe from them.

San'a Is Awash With Rumors

The ensuing power struggle that has erupted in Yemen pits the terrorists against the Yemeni state. The terrorists have already boasted of further plans to launch attacks, while the state - officially, at least - intends to eliminate the terrorists and, together with American security forces, already launched two air strikes against presumed al-Qaeda camps last month.

San'a is now awash with rumors. Last Thursday, for instance, some said that a 16-year-old al-Qaeda recruit with explosives strapped to his body was on the loose in the port city of Aden. According to another rumor, security forces are missing several trucks filled with explosives and weapons. And, finally, it is said that an al-Qaeda leader who was allegedly killed by security forces recently may not be dead, after all.

After ignoring it for years, the world is suddenly turning a worried eye to this unstable country on the Gulf of Aden, arid and lacking natural resources, poorly governed, overpopulated and plagued by insurgents in the north and the south.

Full report at;


Terror trial verdict is "dangerous," says Tatchell

Jan, 12-2010

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has claimed that the guilty verdict of five Luton men who labelled returning soldiers murderers and baby killers is "a dangerous infringement of free speech and the right to protest."

12 January 2010

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has claimed that the guilty verdict of five Luton men who labelled returning soldiers murderers and baby killers is “a dangerous infringement of free speech and the right to protest.”

He was commenting on the guilty verdicts yesterday against five Muslim men who protested at a home-coming parade by soldiers from the Royal Anglian Regiment in Luton in March 2009.

They are Sajjadar Choudhury, 31, Munin Abdul, 28, Jalal Ahmed, 21, Yousaf Bashir, 29, and Ziaur Rahman, 32, all from Luton. Two others were acquitted.

The convicted men were associated with fundamentalist groups that want Sharia law in the UK and worldwide. These groups support the execution of LGBT people, women who have sex outside of marriage and Muslims who abandon their faith or convert to another religion.

"I abhor everything they stand for, but defend their right to freedom of expression. Even though what they said was offensive to many people, their right to speak their mind is one of the hallmarks of a democratic society," Tatchell told

"They want to destroy our democracy and freedoms. I want to defend these values. If we silence and criminalise their views, we are little better than them.

"Judge Carolyn Mellanby was wrong to rule that the people of Luton have a right to be protected against words they find insulting. There is no right to not be offended, since almost any idea can be offensive to someone. Many of the greatest thinkers in history have caused insult and offence, including Galileo Galilei and Charles Darwin - as well as gay rights pioneers like Edward Carpenter and Magnus Hirschfeld.

"The five convicted Islamists would like to censor LGBT people and put us on trial. We should not stoop to their level of intolerance. Democracy is superior to their proposed theocratic state and we need to prove it by demonstrating that we allow objectionable opinions and contest them by debate, not by repression and censorship.

"I strongly disagree with these men and their fundamentalist religion. They seek to establish a sexist and homophobic Islamist dictatorship in the UK.

"I reject the hatred and religious tyranny they espouse. They oppose women's rights, gay equality, people of other faiths and Muslims who do not conform to their hard-line interpretation of Islam.

Full report at;


Iran - Enemies against existance of even one developed Muslim state

Jan, 12-2010

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday evening the enemies do not want to witness even one developed Islamic state in the world.

He made the remarks in a meeting with new Algerian Ambassador to Tehran Safian Meimouni.

Referring to Tehran-Algiers relations as profound, amicable and durable, he called for making use of all the existing potentials in both countries to further boost all-out ties between the two nations.

He added that membership of the two countries in the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Group 15 has paved the way for further expansion of Iran-Algeria cooperation at the international level.

President Ahmadinejad reiterated that Tehran-Algiers bilateral relations would help resolve the existing problems in the World of Islam.

He added that the two countries share many identical views regarding various regional and international developments.

For his part, the Algerian envoy underlined the need for further expansion of all-out ties between the two nations.

He expressed hope that Tehran-Algiers relations would reach its highest level during his mission to the Islamic Republic.

At the end of the meeting, the new Algerian ambassador submitted his credentials to President Ahmadinejad.


Egypt’s ugly sectarianism face

Baher Ibrahim

12 January 2010

churchegyptSectarianism has struck again in Egypt; in the most gruesome attack in a long time, when six Copts and a Muslim policeman were killed outside a church in the southern town of Nag Hammadi on Coptic Christmas eve, following Christmas Mass. Such an attack has not only wounded the Coptic community, but all of Egypt. More than any other incident, this heinous crime once again raises the thorny issue of sectarianism in Egypt.

Copts were quick to label the attack as a “sectarian” one, while many Muslims were quick to dismiss it as just another personal revenge attack, which are quite common among the Saidis (southerners) of Egypt. Many explained it (without justifying) as a revenge attack for the rape of a Muslim girl by a Copt last November in nearby Farshout.

It is important to analyze the circumstances of such attacks, especially for those not familiar with the revenge culture of Upper Egypt. If a rape takes place and both perpetrator and victim are Muslim, the victim’s family will just as eagerly kill the perpetrator and attack his home. When such crimes take place and one participant happens to be a Christian, the media is quick to label the incident as “sectarian.” Last year, a Christian boy allegedly distributed a CD containing images damaging a Muslim girl’s reputation. His father was killed in retaliation. Once again, this is an honor crime, and not a sectarian one.

The events of Nag Hammadi appear to be different. Firstly, the perpetrators were not the family of the raped girl. They have denied receiving any money from her family in exchange for carrying out the attack. When Saidis exact their revenge, they do not hire someone to do the killing for them. They do it with their own hands, and this revenge culture creates family feuds that can last for generations.

Second, the victims of this crime did not just happen to be Christians. They were attacked while leaving church and killed along with the policeman on duty. Obviously, Christians were a target.

Strange enough, one of the suspects, Mohamed al Kamuni, is an ex-convict who has been previously arrested five times for attacks on both Muslims and Christians. He also killed two people two years ago and was subsequently released. Doesn’t exactly fit the picture of an “Islamist” terrorist. Either he didn’t really do it or was paid to. Who stands to benefit from this attack? Muslims certainly don’t, and neither does the Egyptian government. Nor do the peace loving Copts of Egypt who want to coexist peacefully have anything to gain.

Full report at;


Five Muslims guilty over anti-military march in Britain

Jan, 12-2010

LONDON — Five Muslim men who accused British soldiers of being murderers at a homecoming parade when they returned from Afghanistan were found guilty of public order offences Monday.

The five carried placards and shouted slogans including "British army: murderers", "British soldiers burn in hell" and "baby killers" at the parade for troops in Luton in March.

The incident provoked a public outcry and was raised by lawmakers in parliament's lower House of Commons.

Munim Abdul, 28; Jalal Ahmed, 21; Yousaf Bashir, 29; Shajjadar Choudhury, 31; and Ziaur Rahman, 32; all from Luton, were convicted at Luton Magistrates' Court of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

They were each given conditional discharges and ordered to pay 500 pounds towards legal costs. This means they were not punished for the offence but could still be if they get in trouble again within a certain period.

Jubair Ahmed, 19, and Ibrahim Anderson, 32, also from Luton, were cleared of the same charge.

Lawyers for the men said police had not objected to their slogans at the time of the protest.

But district judge Carolyn Mellanby said that prosecuting them was "a proportionate response to the legitimate aim of protection of society and maintenance of public order".

The case was back in the news recently when radical Islamic group Islam4UK proposed an anti-war march through Wootton Bassett.

Wootton Bassett has become a symbol of Britain's war effort because hearses carrying the bodies of soldiers killed in Afghanistan are driven through the town after leaving a nearby Royal Air Force base.

But after facing intense criticism from locals and politicians including Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Islam4UK announced Sunday it was abandoning the plan, saying it had "successfully highlighted the plight of Muslims in Afghanistan".

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved


Egyptian university bans replacing niqab with surgical masks

By Ramadan Al Sherbini

January 12, 2010

Officials at Cairo University said that replacing the niqab with the facemasks violates a recent ruling by the Administrative Court

Cairo: Egypt’s biggest public university has banned female students, wearing the niqab, from replacing the full-face veil with surgical masks inside examinations halls, reported local media on Tuesday.

Officials at Cairo University said that replacing the niqab with the facemasks violates a recent ruling by the Administrative Court, which upheld a ban on wearing the full veil inside examination halls.

The controversy over the niqab in this predominantly Muslim country erupted last October when Mohammad Tantawi, the Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar, which is the Sunni Muslim world's leading seat of learning, banned wearing the niqab in female-only classes and dormitories.

The top Muslim cleric said that the costume is not an Islamic duty. A few days later, Minister of Higher Education Hani Hilal followed suit, citing security reasons. He explained that several men were caught putting on the niqab to enter university hostels.

Later, Hilal barred niqab-donning students from taking their exams unless they remove the veil. He also ordered that niqab-wearing female lecturers should not be allowed into classes. The ban has sparked protests and prompted students and Islamists to go to court to revoke it.

“Our university is committed to enforcing the court ban on the niqab inside examination halls,” said Adel Zayed, the vice president of Cairo University.

“This ban is meant to serve the students’ interests as some examinees exploit the full veil for cheating.”

Mid-year examinations started at Egyptian universities this week. Girls, who refused to remove their niqab or surgical masks, were barred from taking their examinations, said news reports. They filed complaints with police over the ban, added the media.

Girls are, however, allowed to put on the niqab on the campus and at lecture halls

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