New Age Islam
Fri Mar 01 2024, 11:46 PM

Islamic World News ( 15 Sept 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Historic Shah Alam Mosque restored to old glory

Old mosque, restored glory

'Role of Pakistan state actors in 26/11 terrorist attack on Mumbai can't be ruled out', says Home Minister of India, P Chidambaram by Barkha Dutt

Pak is epicentre of terror in the region: Krishna

Libya never paid for Megrahi's medical advice: Scotland

Afghan polls: Karzai inches closer to lead

Temple plan shelved after Muslim opposition

Penalty of Translating Quran in Afghanistan

Malayasian PM urges Muslims not to insult other religions

Twilight life of Malaysia's Muslim transsexuals

Anti-Muslim Demonstration Turns Violent

War on terror sets new media trends by Zulfiqar Ali

Islamic leaders trying to have it both ways on Rifqa Bary case

US, internal power behind Zia's killing: Ex-spymaster

Marwa's tragic ending Preeti John

Too much has been gained in Afghanistan to exit now by Debra J. Saunders

Mayor Criticized Over Muslim Stamp Email

Administration rules out talks with terrorists in Khyber agency

Sharifs involved Saudis in Pak affairs: Opp

Ramadan 2009: America and Islam by James J. Zogby

Hamas Training Camps in the Judean Desert by Hana Levi Julian,

New Iranian Defense Minister is Suspected Terrorist, Gloats by Hillel Fendel,

Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) Assigns Shari'a Quality Rating of AA (SQR) to Jordan Islamic Bank (JIB)

Why beer doesn't mix well with mainly Muslim Malaysia

Hamas Fights Over Gaza's Islamist Identity by Abed Rahim Khatib

Arabs demonstrate against US plan for Kurdish patrols by Bushra Juhi

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL fo this page:


Old mosque, restored glory

September 6, 2009

The historic Shah Alam Mosque in Ahmedabad was damaged in the 2001 Gujarat earthquake. Rathin Das travels to the 15th century monument and finds that the ASI has done a great job of restoring it to its past glory

On that fateful day as the nation was celebrating its 52nd Republic Day in 2001, a deadly earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale hit Gujarat. Not only did it result in around 20,000 casualties, it rendered over six lakh people homeless and damaged several historic monuments in the region including some that date back to the ninth century. Though the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) took up the restoration work at some of these monumental wonders like Sidi Bashir Minars, Dwarkadhish Temple and the Zimboji Mata Temple, and completed them successfully, a few were left out because they were not perceived to be in immediate danger.


However, a few months ago, the local unit of the ASI, which has the responsibility of maintaining more than 200 monuments in Gujarat, took up the conservation project again, including the northern minaret of the historic Shah Alam Mosque in the south-eastern area of Ahmedabad. The southern minaret was restored in the first phase. "At ASI, we don't indulge in ordinary repairs of heritage buildings. We conserve them. As we wanted to do complete justice to the work, we didn't take up this minaret. Moreover, it was found that the damage was not serious enough to be taken up on a priority basis," explains an ASI official who worked to restore the monument under the guidance of superintending archaeologist KC Naurial. "Both the 27 metre high minarets of the mosque were damaged due to the 2001 earthquake, especially the top two floors of the southern minaret that had fallen down. As it was unsafe, its restoration was taken up immediately and completed by 2002," he informs. Now it is the turn of the northern minaret.

The Shah Alam Mosque was built by Sultan Ahmed Shah, the founder of Ahmedabad. Sultan Ahmed Shah had built a number of magnificent mosques and tombs in the area which later bore his name and went on to become one of the prominent cities in western India: Ahmedabad. The Shah Alam Mosque in the southern periphery of the city was built by the Sultan in the early part of the 15th century. Built in the Indo-Saracenic style, the mosque is an elegantly constructed structure with arches and carved brackets adding to the beauty of the four galleries that comprise the main prayer hall. Added to the main building around 1620 AD were two minarets, each rising up to 27 metres. Though all the structures withstood the vagaries of nature for four centuries, the earthquake of January 2001 damaged the two minarets. The two top floors of the southern minaret collapsed in the quake while the northern one developed minor cracks and tilted slightly.


The Islamic style of architecture flourished in Gujarat for a period of about 250 years from the early 14th century. This Indo-Islamic style entered Gujarat when the governors appointed by the Khalji Sultans of Delhi established themselves in the towns on the western seaboard. They developed their architecture until the independent rule of the Ahmed Shah dynasty declined and the country, in the last half of the 16th century, was absorbed into the Mughal Empire.


The development of Islamic architecture in Gujarat can be divided into three periods. First, the early half of the 14th century, which was considered the first customary phase of demolition and reconversion. The second phase was Ahmed Shah's period — the first half of the 15th century — when the art was approaching its early consummation. It was termed as the perfect architectural achievement period. The third and the last period of development of Islamic architecture was the Begarha period from the latter half of 15th century to the 16th century.

Ahmed Shah came to power in 1411 and during his tenure till 1442 founded the city of Ahmedabad, naming it after himself. During the first half of the 15th century, these architectural wonders added to the forceful personality of Ahmed Shah. Stimulated by his passion for building projects on a grand scale, officials of the court and other eminent persons also undertook the construction of mosques, tombs and other structures within the precincts of the city.


The mosques at Ahmedabad represent the development of Indo-Islamic architecture in the State. The buildings present with an open doorway to the arched screen type (common in Delhi with carved pillars constructed by Hindu craftsperson's) visible through arcades is a remarkable example of this style.


For the restoration project, the ASI indulged in meticulous inspection of each stone, documented its physical status, numbered them and photographed them for future reference. A host of other steps have jointly contributed to the successful restoration of the northern minaret at the Shah Alam Mosque. The minaret then had only a crack in it and slightly tilted to one side but it was not perceived to be an immediate threat to the structure. "But, in course of time, routine inspections revealed the crack in the northern minaret was widening gradually. Since the crack was likely to widen further leading to danger of the tower falling down, the situation called for timely intervention," the ASI official adds.


Ensuring the restored structure is brought back to its lost glory was a gigantic task in itself as the sandstone pieces had been exposed to the elements for four centuries. Thus, extreme care had to be taken to protect the originality of the monument even while restoration work was to be undertaken by dismantling the affected four-and-half storeys of the tower. To begin with, a tubular scaffolding was erected around the minaret from bottom to top. Then, the affected portions were documented piece by piece, every stone numbered and photographed. "This process was necessary for reconstruction as we wanted to ensure that there was no difference with the original structure."


Dismantling of the stones was started from the top of the minaret and each stone was carefully brought down to prevent any damage. The dismantled stone pieces were stacked on the floor of the courtyard in order of their layers on the minaret. It was like slicing off the top half of the 27 metre tall minaret. The stacking of each layer helped identify the damaged stones or missing pieces, and also helped in the reconstruction process.


The ASI official adds that almost 80 per cent of the original stones were used in the same condition while the remaining were new, copied from the originals that were damaged or missing. Sandstones matching the texture of the originals had to be procured from Dhrangadhra in Surendranagar district since these are not available elsewhere. "The new stone pieces had to be smooth dressed, moulded and carved to match the original. As the original wood pieces used for interlocking the stones with each other had decayed over the last 400 years of the minarets' existence, these too had to be replaced. Rosewood dowels and pins were used for locking and joining the stones with each other," puts in an ASI conservationist.


"In order to retain the originality, no cement was used but traditional mortar of lime, surkhi and coarse sand mixed with additives like jaggery and gum. This type of mix arrests decay and prolongs the life of a monument, helping the very purpose of conservation and restoration. In conservation work, the construction material used is a major factor as they have to withstand the vagaries of nature for centuries," says the official.



'Role of Pakistan state actors in 26/11 terrorist attack on Mumbai can't be ruled out', says Home Minister of India, P Chidambaram.

Barkha Dutt, Sept 6, 2009, New Delhi

 India cannot rule out the involvement of Pakistan's state actors in the 26/11 attack, says Home Minister P Chidambaram. Mr Chidmabaram, who was in the NDTV studios and speaking exclusively on the show The Buck Stops Here, said that for Pakistan to not act against Hafiz Saeed is atrocious.

Sharing, for the first time, details of the exact role that the Laskhar-e-Toiba chief played in the attacks. He said there was evidence that Saeed was involved in training Ajmal Kasab and others to fire on targets.


These details and Islamabad's failure to act against Saeed will be raised by the Home Minister in his talks with senior American officials later this week. Chidambaram said Pakistan was simply inventing new questions and it would be a charade for them to keep asking for more dossiers.


Here are some excerpts from the interview with Home Minister P Chidambaram:

On Pakistan, Hafiz Saeed, and US visit:

Barkha Dutt: When Hillary Clinton was here and when we asked her about Hafiz Saeed, at that point the Pakistan government had actually appealed against the court order which said that he need not be arrested. But since then, as you  have said yourself several times  nothing has moved on the arrest of Hafiz Saeed. Now is that some thing you will raise with Washington that Washington need to weighs upon Islamabad that it has to act against hafiz Saeed?


Mr Chidmabaram: Well if there is an opportunity I will take them through the dossier. It has already been shared with many countries.


Barkha Dutt: 16 countries I think.

Mr Chidmabaram: Yes, including US so they know what we have. If there is an opportunity I will take them through the dossier to point out that there is enough evidence to continue the case against Hafiz Saeed. In the face of this evidence to let him off, I think is atrocious.


Barkha Dutt: And that is something you will communicate to Washington.

Mr Chidmabaram: Well it has been communicated but I am sure there will be an opportunity to discuss that.


Barkha Dutt: You say there is enough evidence in the sixth dossier. What is the nature of the evidence against Hafiz Saeed?

Mr Chidmabaram: Well I am not going to read out the dossier to you. But I will highlight some things. Firstly we know when Kasab first met Hafiz  and where. We know what Hafiz Saeed told the trainees. We know at least a couple of places where the training took place. And that  Hafeez Saeed visited these camps. We know that it was Hafiz Saeed who gave names to buddy pairs. The final farewell call was made by Hafiz and Hafiz Saeed even tested Kasab and others on their training achievements.


Barkha Dutt: When you say he tested them you mean he ran them through some kind of drill?

Mr Chidmabaram: Well he asked them to fire some targets. We know that the final instructions were given by Hafiz Saeed. So all these things are known - places, approximate dates, names, visits made by Hafiz Saeed. Now in the face of these evidence how does  the prosecutor say that I have no leads to continue the investigation?


Barkha Dutt: And when Islamabad say that even this evidence is inadequate. They have more questions they say?

Mr Chidmabaram: Well if they want to invent questions they are welcome to do so. But I think that they  have come to the end of the road. They cannot invent more questions. We have answered all their questions in the successive dossiers. It's now time to take these leads and do a proper traditional investigation. Arrest the person, take him to these places and ask the person questions. I mean just the ground work of investigation which any inspector will know how to do.


Barkha Dutt: Can you share some more details? When you say that actually Hafiz Saeed asked Kasab to fire at the targets and that he was part of the last training? Can you share some more details?

Mr Chidmabaram: Well we know that he was accompanied by a person who was  described as "major gen saab". Hafiz Saeed told a person to set up 10 targets and he asked each of the selected terrorist to fire at the targets. We know that Kasab fired target number four. Now is this not enough detail to take up the investigations?


Barkha Dutt: You say Hafiz Saeed was accompanied by a "major general sahab". Is it the assessment of the Home Ministry that it this is a serving or retired Pakistani army officer?

Mr Chidmabaram: We don't know.


Barkha Dutt: But it's possible?

Mr Chidmabaram: He could be serving; he could be retired.


Barkha Dutt: But definitely an army officer? Or is it just a name, a nick name?

Mr Chidmabaram: Well very unlikely. He should have been a Major General at some time.


Barkha Dutt: So does it concern you that at some point this could link to someone in the Pakistan army?

Mr Chidmabaram: Well that can only be revealed by the investigation. We have never ruled out state actors although Pakistan has always maintained that there are only non-state actors involved. We have never ruled out state actors and we have never accepted this distinction between state actors and non state actors as both operate from Pakistan soil.


Barkha Dutt: If you are not ruling out the involvement of state actors and you have gone on record saying that Pakistani government is deliberately stifling the probe, is it your assessment that the state of Pakistan is somewhere involved in covering up for 26/11?

Mr Chidmabaram: No, no. Covering up is a strong word but there is for some strange reasons an unwillingness to take the investigations forward. What they told the common friendly countries; what they have told the Prime Minister is that they will spare no effort to prosecute and punish the perpetrators. In the light of that, letting off  Hafiz is unacceptable. And I don't know who else is involved. There is a major general sahab for example. So unless there is a proper investigation I am not in a position to say that Pakistan intends to keep its promise. Why they are unwilling to take the investigation forward I cannot say.


Barkha Dutt: Is there any information available with your intelligence agencies that there could be any involvement of state actors in 26/11 and thereafter?

Mr Chidmabaram: Investigations will establish whether the state actors were involved or not but I am not ruling out the possibility.


Barkha Dutt: Now when you say that at this stage Pakistan is merely inventing new question can we take it to mean that there will not be more dossiers? Was the sixth dossier the last dossier?

Mr Chidmabaram: How can I say that. If they do invent more questions...


Barkha Dutt: You will continue to answer them?

Mr Chidmabaram: I will answer them with a growing sense of frustration. I still have to answer them. Shouldn't I?


Barkha Dutt: Well some would say that if the Home Minister has decided that there are no more questions to answer them then why continue with the whole process of multiple dossiers?

Mr Chidmabaram: I know its a charade.


Barkha Dutt: You acknowledge its a charade?

Mr Chidmabaram: After a point it's a charade. But I don't want to give them any quarter to say that answers are not forthcoming therefore we are not investigating.


On whether Naxals are terrorists:

Barkha: Do you feel that the state government doesn't want to take risk in this area (Lalgarh)? Is this because of absence of political will?


Mr Chidambaram: Well there are number of factors. The way the state police is organised. The way the state police is deployed is also a factor. I think that there are political factors in the West Bengal government which is affecting the command and control of the operation.


Barkha: This is not the operation the Home Ministry is willing to conduct on itself?

Chidambaram: No, How can I conduct an operation?


Barkha: Why not?

Chidambaram: Not unless the state government says that "We cannot do it. You do it". They haven't said that yet.


Barkha: But given the general policy on Naxalism once you identify them as terrorists. What does it do to your policy of being willing to talk to them?

Chidambaram: Wait a minute. I have not said that they are terrorists in the sense that I characterise the cross border terrorists and home grown terrorists.


Barkha: What is the difference?

Chidambaram: I said that acts which they perpetrated were acts of terrorism.


Barkha: But are Naxals terrorists?

Chidambaram: Not all but certainly some acts amount to terrorists acts. The Naxals believe in arms liberation struggle. Now I am elected to office and have taken oath by a republican Constitution which rejects arms liberation struggle. So no government in India can accept an armed liberation struggle. We are implacably opposed to each other. How do you break this? So we have said, "If you abjure violence, give up arms liberation struggle we are willing to talk to you about your grievance, structure of local administration, of development, about money, about  corruption. We are willing to talk on any issue which Naxals think.


Barkha: But are there preconditions that they have to lay down their arms?

Chidambaram: No we want them to abjure violence. That is all we have said.



Pak is epicentre of terror in the region: Krishna

S M Krishna

Pak has to decide what kind of ties it w...Pak altered our missiles to target India...India-Pak: Green shoots of recovery

Bangalore Accusing Pakistan of not being serious in punishing perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said on Saturday that India has provided enough evidence for their prosecution.

He also made it clear that Pakistan was to be blamed for the suspension of the composite dialogue after the 26/11 terror strikes and said it has to take the initiative for the resumption of the process.

"According to legal experts, the six dossiers which we have provided to Pakistan contain enough evidence against the conspirators, abettors and perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks to get them punished in a court of law," he told reporters here.

"If Pakistan were to be serious about taking the logical steps to punish those responsible for the attack on India or Mumbai, this is an instance that they can show to the world and India that they are serious," he said.

The Minister said India has given to Pakistan the names and other details of those involved in the strikes in Mumbai.

"It is but natural that they should arrest all those and bring them to justice," he said.

Full report at:


Libya never paid for Megrahi's medical advice: Scotland

PTI, September 6, 2009, London

Scotland has rejected allegations that its decision to free the Lockerbie bomber because he is terminally ill was based on medical advice from doctors paid by Libya.

The statement comes after The Sunday Telegraph reported that Libyan government paid for the medical evidence that suggested Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi was eligible for compassionate release under Scottish law and that he had only three months to live.

Professor Karol Sikora, one of the three doctors who visited Megrahi, in an interview to the daily said, he had been approached by the Libyans and paid a one-day consultancy fee to draw up a report.

Sikora was initially "pessimistic" that the experts could say he would survive any less than a year.

But he admitted that the Libyans had encouraged him to conclude that Megrahi had just three months to live following his examination. "The figure of three months was suggested as being helpful (by the Libyans)," he said.

However, the Scottish government said the prognosis of the three doctors paid for by the Libyans -- two of whom are British -- came too late to affect Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill's decision to free Megrahi last month.

Drawing on expert advice from 'a number' of specialists for a clinical assessment of Megrahi's life expectancy, the director of Health and Care at SPS (Scottish Prison Service) concluded that a three month prognosis for the patient was a reasonable estimate, a spokesman for MacAskill said.

Megrahi is the only person convicted of the 1988 bombing of a plane over the Scottish town of Lockerbie that killed 270 people.


Afghan polls: Karzai inches closer to lead

Agence-France Presse, Sunday September 6, 2009, Kabul

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has moved into a clear lead in the controversial race for the presidency, with 48.6 per cent of the vote, according to partial results.

Afghan officials announced results from 75 per cent of the polling stations used in only Afghanistan's second direct presidential election, held on August 20 and overshadowed by claims of massive fraud and low turnout.

Out of 4.3 million valid votes, Karzai won 2.08 million and former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah 1.36 million or 31.7 per cent, Independent Election Commission (IEC) official Daud Ali Najafi told a news conference.



Temple plan shelved after Muslim opposition

Sept 06, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 6 (AFP) - Plans by a local Malaysian government to relocate a 150-year-old Hindu temple to a majority Muslim area have been shelved after continued protests, a lawmaker said Sunday.

The decision came after a consultation between Selangor state officials and local people descended into chaos on Saturday, with protesters threatening violence, local media reported.

Charles Santiago, an MP with the opposition Democratic Action Party, told AFP, "Selangor state is looking for a new site due to the protest by the Muslims."

Demonstrators claimed the Hindu temple would create traffic jams and noise in their Muslim-majority neighbourhood, he said.

The consultation session was held after a group of Muslim protesters last week paraded the severed head of a cow at the site of the proposed temple, in Shah Alam west of Kuala Lumpur. (AFP)

Full report at:


Penalty of Translating Quran in Afghanistan

Ghows Zelmay sentenced to 20 Years Prison

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply worried over a Kabul Appeal Court's verdict upholding a 20-year prison sentence on Ghows Zelmay, a former journalist and spokesman for Afghanistan 's Attorney-General, on charges of wrongly interpreting religious scripture.

Zelmay was arrested in November 2007, shortly after he published a translation of the Holy Qur'an in Dari, one of Afghanistan 's two official languages. The translation was published without the original Arabic script accompanying it, and was deemed to have several inaccuracies. Criticism by conservative religious leaders initially sparked a call for Zelmay's prosecution.

In September 2008, Zelmay was sentenced by a trial court to a 20-year prison term.

Mullah Qari Mushtaq Ahmad, a religious scholar who certified the Dari translation as accurate, was also convicted with Zelmay.

According to the Afghan Independent Journalists' Association (AIJA), an IFJ affiliate, Kabul's Appeals Court upheld the sentence and conviction on February 15 after an open hearing.

Zelmay protested the verdict in open court, declaring himself a devout person interested solely in making the scripture accessible to the many people in Afghanistan who read and speak only the Dari language.

The IFJ joins the AIJA in calling for the intervention of Afghanistan 's Chief Justice, Abdul Salam Azeemi, and President Hamid Karzai in this case.

"The harsh sentence against Zelmay marks a tragedy for the rights of journalists in a country where freedom of expression is constitutionally enshrined," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"A lenient view should be taken of his case since Zelmay and his collaborators were seeking to serve a public cause."

Zelmay was arrested shortly after the arrest of Sayed Parvez Kambakhsh, 24, in October 2007 on accusations of insolence to Islam.

Kambakhsh, who studied journalism and worked as a reporter for the daily newspaper Janan-e-Naw in the northern city of Mazhar-e-Sharif , is currently serving a 20-year jail sentence. In January 2008, a closed hearing of the Balkh primary court sentenced Kambakhsh to death. The death sentence was overturned on appeal in October 2008.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 at 11:15 am      and is filed under Government. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Full report at:


Malayasian PM urges Muslims not to insult other religions

September 5th, 2009

Lumpur, Sep 5 (IANS) Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak Saturday quoted from the Quran to urge fellow Muslims not to insult people of other faiths, after residents of a Muslim-majority area, protesting re-location of a Hindu temple to their locality, carried cow heads in a rally Friday.

Residents of Section 23 locality in Shah Alam, capital of Selangor state, staged a protest rally against relocation of a 150-year-old Sri Mariamman temple from Section 19 to their Muslim Malay-majority area.

The protest sparked controversy when some of the participants brought along cow's head - an animal deemed sacred by the Hindus - and placed it at the state secretariat, Star Online said.

Addressing a gathering at a mosque amid observance of Ramzan, Razak urged Muslims to follow "the true Islamic teaching of showing respect" and refrain from condemning or insulting other religions and their believers.

Both Surah Al-Maidah (phrase 8) and Surah Al-An'am (Phrase 108) advised Muslims that if they went against other religions, this would cause the other believers to act violently against them, he said.

Muslims were also forbidden from insulting or desecrating items considered sacred to followers of other religions, so that, in turn, they would show respect to Islam, Razak added.

 "During the era of Prophet Muhammad, he himself allowed followers of other religions to practise what they believed, and forbade his followers from going against them. We hope during this holy Ramzan month, we can prove that we are the most disciplined followers," said Razak.

Full report at:


Twilight life of Malaysia's Muslim transsexuals

06 Sep, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - - With her tight jeans, elaborate make-up and flowing hair, Tasha looks for all the world like a striking young woman. But her all-important Malaysian ID card declares she is a Muslim man.

"In Islam, there are only men and women, there are no transsexuals, and this is an Islamic country so that makes life very difficult for us," says the 28-year-old who has been cross-dressing since she was a child.

Like many transsexuals in Malaysia, a conservative and mostly Muslim country, the clash between ID card and appearance means Tasha is shunned by employers, and forced to make her living as a sex worker.

"It's a hard life, people don't like us, they're always making fun of us," she says as she prepares for another night in the grimy alleyways of Chow Kit, the red light district of the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Tasha endures drunken clients, violent pimps, and aggressive competition from other transsexual prostitutes, but what really frightens her are the raids mounted by police and religious authorities.

Enforcement officials from the Islamic Affairs Department (JAWI) -- notorious for swooping on nightclubs and motels in search of Muslims drinking or having extramarital sex -- regularly descend on the streets of Chow Kit.

Sex workers are sent scattering on their high heels, and those who are caught and hauled off face jail or intensive "counselling" sessions like a two-week interrogation Tasha once endured.

"They asked me why I didn't want to be a man, how I became like this and why I behave like this. But it didn't change my mind!" she says as she layers on make-up before hitting the streets where she has worked since she was 15.

Tasha puts on a brave face, but the the pain is clear when she relates how she has struggled for acceptance from her family, her religion and her country.

Although she is on the margins of society, she continues to perform the Muslim prayers, fasts during the holy month of Ramadan, and respected her mother's wish that she not undergo sex-change surgery.

"Of course I still believe I'm a Muslim, it's just that the religion cannot accept us transsexuals," she says.

"Why can't Islam accept us? We are human beings as well. I am also one of God's creations."

It was not always this way for transsexuals in Malaysia, where they are known as "mak nyah".

"Until the early 1980s transsexuals were usually accepted in Malaysia, they could go for a sex change and amend their identity card," says Teh Yik Koon from the National Defence University who has written a book on mak nyahs.

"At that time quite a few had sex changes, some became happily married and even adopted children."

But in 1983 a "fatwa", or Islamic ruling, that prohibited gender-reassignment surgery as well as cross-dressing was imposed on all Malaysian Muslims, who make up 60 percent of the multicultural population.

"So now they're not accepted, there's no such thing as transsexuals according to Islam in Malaysia," says Teh, who estimates there are in fact at least 20,000 in the country.

"The biggest dilemma for a Muslim transsexual is the ID card, because it states they are a Muslim man but when you look at them they look like a woman," she says.

Some do manage to find regular work, typically as hairdressers, make-up artists, and boutique sales assistants, but advocates say that at least 70 percent resort to prostitution.

"At 15 I ran away from home and to Chow Kit. I cried at first, but luckily I had other transsexuals who helped me find a place to stay," says Tasha.

On a good night she can earn 500 ringgit (142 dollars), a huge sum by Malaysian standards, but since the economic downturn she now gets only two or three clients a night who may pay as little 50 ringgit a time.

Now that her mother has died, she plans to go to Thailand later this year and have sex-change and breast augmentation surgery.

"If you want to become pretty quickly, then you can't be afraid," she says. "Only then will I feel like a complete woman."

Transsexuals do not need to be selling their bodies in order to attract attention from authorities. Last year, Islamic religious police arrested 16 for taking part in a beauty pageant at a beachside resort.

Influential Islamic cleric Harussani Zakaria, who helped establish the 1983 fatwa, defended the strict approach and said that transsexuals should use their "willpower" and adopt a traditional lifestyle.

"Of course they won't get a job if they turn up wearing a woman's dress. All religions are opposed to this," he said.

"You cannot be transsexual, you are either a woman or a man. Why do they want to go against Allah?" he asked. "If God has created you as a boy, then act like a boy."



Anti-Muslim Demonstration Turns Violent

September 06, 2009

A demonstration by a British nationalist group turned violent Saturday as members of the English Defense League charged left-wing counter-protesters.

The group called the demonstration in Birmingham to protest radical Islam and Muslim fundamentalism.

Witnesses said hundreds of people were fighting in the city center, The Daily Telegraph reported. Police arrested 20 men on a bus and at least one more nearby.

"There were about 250 people in total, fighting and throwing bottles at each other," one eyewitness said.

Before the demonstration began, the English Defense League posted a notice on its Web site predicting a "great day out" and urging everyone to be peaceful. It said the only issues to be raised were those of radical Islam.

"We are not a Fascist organization and urge anyone who knows of anybody who is intent on causing trouble on the day to contact us," the group said.



War on terror sets new media trends

By Zulfiqar Ali, 06 Sep, 2009

The killing of Baitullah has made Taliban new chief Hakeemullah Mehsud celebrity of the local and international media. Hardly any Pakistani or Indian film star has achieved such fame and projection overnight as this young Mehsud has hit headlines during the last few weeks. Even he has left far behind his late mentor Baitullah in fame and is being glorified as a legendary guerrilla leader.

A German magazine has termed Hakeemullah 'charismatic, emotional and brutal.' Online edition of a British media organisation wrote about Hakeemullah's spectacular 'driving skill, ability to handle AK-47 rifle, aggressiveness and cheeky smile.'

Another newspaper said that Hakeemullah was commanding 8,000 fighters operating in Kurram, Orakzai and Khyber tribal regions while his predecessor had some 30,000 armed supporters in South Waziristan. But it did not specify how and where this accurate data was obtained. An Indian writer has mentioned the same figures in his article published in Daily Mirror.

Controversy prevails in media about Hakeemullah's name and age. He is carrying three different names in media: Zulfiqar, Jamshed and Hakeemullah. Which of these names is real, nobody knows.

Full report at:


Islamic leaders trying to have it both ways on Rifqa Bary case

06 Sep, 2009

They want to claim that Rifqa Bary is in no danger while equivocating about whether Islam mandates a death penalty for apostasy. Here is a case study. "Islamic activists trying to have it both ways," by Paul Mulshine at, September 5 (thanks to James):

You might be following the story of Rifqa Bary, the 17-year-old Ohio girl who claims that her father wants to have her killed for converting from Islam to Christianity.

Various Muslim activists - and their liberal supporters - are trying to make the same tired argument here that they make whenever such issues come up.

What they argue is that Muslims here in America would never do such a thing. Sounds good. But just try and get them to denounce Muslims in other countries who do so.

I tried. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks I went and interviewed a local Muslim leader in New Jersey. I spent more than an hour trying to pin him down on the thorny question of whether it is or isn't okay for Muslims to use physical force against apostates, Christians who proselytize, and so on.

The column ran on Dec. 12, 2001. It was headlined

"Tolerating the intolerant"

Full report at:


US, internal power behind Zia's killing: Ex-spymaster

Press Trust of India, Sunday September 6, 2009, Islamabad

US and "internal powers" were behind the 1988 plane crash that killed General Zia-ul-Haq, who ruled Pakistan from 1978 till his death, a former Pakistani spymaster has claimed.

Imtiaz Ahmed, a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau, said the US collaborated with "internal powers" in Pakistan to assassinate Zia.

Ahmed, who also served in the ISI, has shaken up political parties with revelations of huge payments allegedly made by the Inter-Services Intelligence to strengthen the Opposition to former premier Benazir Bhutto in 1990.

"Former army chief Gen Mirza Aslam Beg also says that Zia's plane crash was not an accident, but sabotage," he told a TV news channel.

Zia came to power after overthrowing the then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1977, the third ruler to impose martial law.

He initially ruled as the Chief Martial Law Administrator, but later installed himself as the President of Pakistan in September 1978.

Full report at:


Marwa's tragic ending Preeti John

FORAY | Sunday, September 6, 2009

Egyptian Marwa al-Sherbini was three-months pregnant when she was fatally stabbed to death in a court in Dresden. Her killer was a Russian-German with far-right views. The reaction to brutal killing was initially muted with politicians silent and newspapers publishing stories in the inside pages.

It was only when the protests in the Muslim world became widespread that the German Press started registering the story of Marwa.


The story had everything that should have made front page news from the very beginning. An educated Egyptian woman whose husband was pursuing research at a renowned German institute and who was killed for a playground spat in the court.

But somehow, the Press, including the tabloids here, who love to run these shock stories, did not focus on it.

It all started in a children's playground on August 21, 2008, where Alexander W and Marwa al-Sherbini's paths crossed for the first time. He was a 27-year-old Russian-German (of German origin, many of whom came to Germany after the end of the Cold War) from Perm and she a 30-year-old Egyptian.

Full report at:


Too much has been gained in Afghanistan to exit now

Debra J. Saunders

Sunday, September 6, 2009

As he campaigned for the presidency, Sen. Barack Obama argued that Afghanistan should become "the central front in the battle against terrorism." Obama has delivered on that issue. U.S. troop levels have more than doubled since the beginning of a troop build-up first begun under President George W. Bush.

The price for that promise is not low.

For the moment, more troops mean more combat. As Kimberly Kagan, president of the Institute for the Study of War, noted at a Brookings Institute event last month, "As those new troops come in, as we have seen, violence will go up. They did so in Iraq. They will do so in Afghanistan because we are going into areas that the enemy effectively has controlled. So we mustn't conflate or confuse a rise in violence with success or failure."

But others see the rise in casualties - 51 U.S. troops were killed in combat in August, the deadliest month since the beginning of the war eight years ago - and charges of ballot fraud during the August presidential and provincial council elections as signs of failure.

At a White House news conference Monday, CBS News' Chip Reid asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, "Is it possible that you're simply losing control in Afghanistan and it's going to continue to spiral out of control?"

Full report at:


Mayor Criticized Over Muslim Stamp Email

September 06, 2009

The mayor of Clarksville, Tenn., is under fire for forwarding an email blasting a U.S. postage stamp celebrating Muslim religious holidays.

Mayor Johnny Piper did not add any comments of his own to the email, The Clarksville Leaf Chronicle reported. The email calls the stamp "a slap in the face" to U.S. victims of "Muslim terrorist attacks."

The mayor forwarded the email to city council members, department heads and to a city e-mail list that goes to every employee with an email account.

Piper defended his actions. He said the email is not anti-Muslim and he forwarded it to provide "information."

Full report at:


Administration rules out talks with terrorists in Khyber agency

06th September, 2009

LANDI KOTAL: At least 2 militants were killed and 3 others sustained serious injuries during security forces operation against them on 5th consecutive day on Saturday while headquarter of outlawed outfit Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI) were also destroyed in Khyber Agency. The security forces have also found 5 bodies from Bara bazaar.

Security forces helicopters pounded Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI) headquarter in Tirah valley in Khyber Agency. The headquarters were destroyed completely in the shelling. Other hideouts of militants were also targeted during action in Gagrina area, injuring three people including two women.

The forces have also arrested three terrorists from Qambar Khel area of agency. The militants' hideouts were also targeted in Jamrud and Landi Kotal area of agency.

On the other hand, the weapons seized by security forces during operation against terrorists were displayed in Bara on Saturday. Political Agent Tariq Hayat accompanied by Brig. Fiaz told media men at least 57 terrorists have been killed so far. 107 terrorists have been arrested and we are taking action against their accomplices on their information, he said, adding that, no security Personnel lost his life in the operation while 5 were wounded.

Full report at:


Sharifs involved Saudis in Pak affairs: Opp

September 06, 2009, LAHORE

OPPOSITION leader in Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Zaheer has said that the Sharif brothers started involving Saudis in the internal affairs of Pakistan and it does not suit them to claim that brother Islamic countries should not be involved in our internal affairs.

Talking to the media during an Iftar dinner here Saturday, he said the PML-N was just giving deadlines and would not do anything practical. He urged the political leadership to evolve a consensus on vital issues instead of doing politics. He criticised the Punjab government for its failure to control the price-hike, asking what kind of good governance it was that everything was in abundance but it was not available to the masses. He said the government was ridiculing people by providing them subsidised flour after making them stand in long queues. He alleged that the current rulers were a part of sugar cartel and minting money.



Ramadan 2009: America and Islam

James J. Zogby

I HAD the distinct honour of being invited to address this year's Iftar dinner at the Pentagon, together with Ms. Farah Pandith, the State Department's Special Representative to Muslim Communities, and Ms. Dalia Mogahed, of the Gallup Corporation. In attendance were over 125 American Muslims, members of every branch of the US military, and their guests from the White House, Congress and other government agencies.

The evening provided an opportunity for reflection on the changes that are occurring among American Muslims and in the US' relationship with Islam.

When I first came to this city, over 30 years ago, there were no Iftars, nor was there any formal recognition of Ramadan or the Eids by anyone, anywhere. I can recall going to the Reagan White House to propose a presidential Eid message and being asked to write it. And then reminding them each year after that.

The practice was broadened and institutionalized during the Clinton years, with President Bush adding an Iftar dinner, which he hosted each year of his presidency.

At this point, there are Iftars all over this city — the White House, State Department, Congress, National Security Agency, and more.

A primary factor accounting for this change and the growing recognition being given to Ramadan, is the presence and vitality of a growing Muslim community. There are thousands of Muslims serving in the US military and hundreds serving in every branch and agency of the US government.

It is not just that the US is heavily engaged in the Muslim World, it is that America's Muslim community is no longer invisible. Their presence, hard work and contributions to our country are being recognized. And with that, their faith is being appreciated. A tribute to American Muslims, yes — but also a tribute to the capacity of America to grow and change.

Full article at:


Hamas Training Camps in the Judean Desert

by Hana Levi Julian, 06 Sep, 2009

( A complex network of caves embedded in the hills of the Judean Desert have become the latest venue for individualized Hamas terrorist training programs.

Evidence that Hamas terrorists have been training operatives right under the noses of the Palestinian Authority was found by IDF soldiers in a complex network of tunnels and caves during a raid earlier this summer. Etzion Brigade Col. Eran Makov led the raid, which was carried out after military officials received a tip from the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet).

Empty bullet casings and cartridges were found in some of the caves, as well as other bits of evidence of military activity, according to a senior military official quoted in a report published Sunday by The Jerusalem Post.

This is not the first time that terrorist tunnels have been found in Judea and Samaria.

Eleven months ago, IDF soldiers uncovered a 150-meter-long tunnel packed with explosives under the southern Judean city of Hevron. The tunnel had not been completed, and was angled towards Route 35, near Tarkumiya, according to the report.

Full report at:


New Iranian Defense Minister is Suspected Terrorist, Gloats

by Hillel Fendel, 06 Sep, 2009

( "My appointment nullifies the Zionists' wave of propaganda and psychological warfare," gloats suspected terrorist mastermind Ahmad Vahidi, Iran's new Defense Minister. The choice of Vahidi was overwhelmingly confirmed by Iran's parliament on Thursday.

Vahidi has long been wanted by Argentina in connection with the horrific bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish centre in July 1994, in which 85 people were killed and more than 300 wounded.

Interpol had a "red notice" for his arrest in wake of the bombing of the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) Jewish Community Centre. One step short of an international arrest warrant, it means that the person is wanted by one or more nations and that Interpol seeks to assist in identifying or locating him.

Vahidi said on Sunday that his approval for the post was a sign that the people want stronger Iranian defence and deterrence. "It is also a testimony of the anti-Zionist spirit of the Iranian parliament and Iranian people," he said, "and a stamp that nullifies the wave of propaganda and psychological war started by the Zionists… Zionist propaganda always creates the opposite reaction in the Iranian government."

Full report at:


Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) Assigns Shari'a Quality Rating of AA (SQR) to Jordan Islamic Bank (JIB)

06 Sep, 2009

Manama/Jordan, September 6, 2009 - Islamic International Rating Agency (IIRA) has assigned its Shari'a Quality Rating of AA (SQR) to Jordan Islamic Bank (JIB) Jordan Islamic Bank (JIB)

This rating reflects IIRA's opinion that JIBJIBLoading... conforms to very high standards of Shari'a compliance in all aspects of Shari'a quality analysis. for Finance and Investment was established in 1978, as a public shareholding limited company to carry out banking, financing and investment business operations in compliance with the Shari'a.

IIRA rating is supported by the fact that JIBJIBLoading...'s Shari'a Supervisory Board (SSB) consists of four highly qualified and experienced Shari'a scholars who meet regularly. The SSB works under the structured Institutional Governance Guide. The SSB considers wide-ranging issues relating to bank's operations, reviews operational and Shari'a audit reports and gives its Fatwas which are made available to the bank's staff.

The bank has vibrant Internal Shari'a Audit department headed by a person having high qualifications in Islamic Banking, Audit and Advisory. The department is governed by written work procedures, a governance guide, Shari'a audit and review procedures, and detailed job description. The department audits each branch at least twice a year. The reports of its findings are submitted to the general manager, and the audit committee.

Full report at:


Why beer doesn't mix well with mainly Muslim Malaysia

September 5th, 2009

Beer, which as an alcoholic beverage is forbidden in Islam to its believers, has long had it easy in mainly Muslim Malaysia. The country's population of 27 million is made up of about 55 percent Malay Muslims and mainly Chinese and Indian ethnic minorities who practice a variety of faiths including Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism. The personal right of the non-Muslims to drink alcoholic beverages is legally recognised, a sign of tolerance despite the special status of Islam under Article 11 of the Malaysian constitution.  So beer is not difficult to find in convenience stores, supermarkets and entertainment outlets.

But this easygoing attitude towards beer has hit the rocks of late amid what some suspect has been a growing religiosity of the country's Muslims.  Last month, 32-year old Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor very nearly became the first woman to be caned in Malaysia for drinking alcohol under rarely enforced Islamic criminal laws.  Caught drinking beer in a hotel lobby in the eastern state of Pahang by religious enforcement officers, she was sentenced to six strokes of the cane and a fine.  This was possible because Malaysia practices a dual-track legal system. Muslims are subject to Islamic family and criminal laws that run alongside national civil laws.

malaysia-1A Malaysian Islamic appeals court judge ordered a review of Kartika's sentence, but a public debate is still raging. Opinions are divided even among Islamic scholars with some questioning what the exact punishment for the offence, which isn't specified in the Quran, should be. Others are in full support and believe that Kartika's sentence was mild.

Full report at:


Hamas Fights Over Gaza's Islamist Identity

Abed Rahim Khatib/European

Abdel Latif Moussa and his Warriors of God took over a mosque in August and declared strict religious law to be in force in Gaza before Hamas troops raided it.


Published: September 5, 2009

GAZA — An acute struggle is emerging within the Hamas movement, which rules this coastal Palestinian strip, over the extent and nature of its Islamist identity. Guardians of religious morality, some self-appointed, others from within the government, have sought to impose their views in recent months.

Students at girls' schools in Gaza were told to cover up, with mixed results.

So far, top government officials have pushed them back, but it remains unclear for how long.

Examples of the battle abound. The most threatening occurred in mid-August when an extreme group called the Warriors of God commandeered a mosque in the southern city of Rafah and, calling Hamas impure and collaborationist, declared strict religious law to be in force. Hamas forces surrounded the mosque and, after an all-night gun battle, killed about two dozen people, including the group's leader, and arrested 155 others, Hamas officials said. The Interior Ministry is now monitoring mosques and sponsoring public lectures against Muslim extremism.

Other cases involved no violence but plenty of coercion. The chief justice decreed this summer that female lawyers must wear the hijab head covering in court. A committee set up by the religious affairs ministry sent men along the beaches instructing bathers not to touch each other in public and to cover up. And a number of teachers and headmistresses in girls' high schools told their students to dress in long coats and hijab rather than the jean skirts of past years.

Full report at:


Arabs demonstrate against US plan for Kurdish patrols

Bushra Juhi | AP

BAGHDAD: Hundreds of Sunni Arabs opposed to the presence of Kurdish troops in disputed areas of northern Iraq demonstrated on Saturday against a plan to deploy a mixed force of American, Kurdish and Iraqi soldiers in the area.

More than 300 people in the Sunni-dominated town of Hawija, once an insurgent stronghold, gathered in a stadium to protest the inclusion of Kurdish troops in these patrols.

The split between Iraq's majority Arabs and the Kurdish minority, which controls a semiautonomous region in the north, is one of the most significant long-term threats to the country's stability, US and Iraqi officials say.

Sunni Arabs fear the Kurds are looking to add Arab lands to their semiautonomous region.

The top US military commander in the country believes Al-Qaeda in Iraq is taking advantage of tensions between the Iraqi army and the Kurdish militia, the peshmerga, to carry out attacks on villages not guarded by either side.

To try to fill the gap, Gen. Ray Odierno last month proposed the idea of a mixed force that would include US troops serving in an oversight role to help Kurdish and Iraqi soldiers work together to secure areas along that fault line.

Full report at:

URL of this page: