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Islamic World News ( 3 Nov 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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India cannot view Islam as an alien faith: Home Minister P. Chidambaram

Creationism, Minus a Young Earth, Emerges in the Islamic World

Bombers Hit Pakistani Cities as the Army Gains Ground

Dhaka approves law to return 1965 Indo-Pak war Hindu property

Why can’t Muslim women also lead the whole community: BMMA

26/11: Pak court declares Kasab, 13 others 'absconders'

26/11 terrorist negotiated Kasab's release with Israel ambassador

Pak still pushing terrorists into India: AK Antony

Pak accuses India of fomenting trouble, India rubbishes claims

Fatwa against an Indian national song 'Vande Mataram'

India: Shia Personal Law Board demands reservation

Karadzic regretted that some Bosnian Muslims escaped genocide

Will the hajj be an incubator for swine flu?

Will Switzerland Vote to Ban Minarets on Mosques?

Mother pleads German ‘veil murder’ accused is suicidal

Obama calls on Karzai to combat corruption in Afghanistan

Suicide attacks in Rawalpindi and Lahore kill 37

Qaida arms cache found in Riyadh

Clinton offers U.S. aid to help boost Muslim ties

Somali pirates fight over hostage couple

Americans sour on U.S.-Muslim relations

OIC chief calls for review of terror war

Malaysia adds whiff of romance to save marriages

Cops Kill Islamic Leader during Gun Battle in Detroit Suburb

Ayatollah H. Rapp Brown?

Al-Shabab Tightens Grip in Somalia

The stoning law, `wan'ni' and Sharia implementation

Jihadist groups infiltrate Lebanon, Gaza

When No Means No Pleading with Iran will get the West nowhere.

Azeris speak out on mosque closures

Iran lashes out at U.S. anti-Islam approaches

Khamenei says US 'hiding a dagger' in talks with Iran

Malaysia: Controversy follows ex-mufti of Perlis

No Islamic Landmarks Were Harmed in the Making of '2012'

Manawan terror suspect arrested

Double standards on Iraq and Iran

BANGALORE: Kashmir students get a taste of peace here

Probe asked in FBI's slaying of extremist imam

Need for US-sponsored Arab-Israeli deal

Lord Pearson's anti-Muslim rant

The Feminist Anti-Niqabis: Freeing Women from their Free Choice

Religion and the crisis of moral authority

Sheikh Khalifa gets second term as UAE president

New courses cover Bible, meditation

Local author writes biblical story for girls

Relocation of Guantanamo detainees to Standish Max prison: How Far Away is Standish, Michigan?

France: Mosque defaced

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau

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India cannot view Islam as an alien faith:

Home Minister P. Chidambaram

South Asia News

Nov 3, 2009

  New Delhi - Muslims had contributed much to the building of modern India and the country could not view Islam as an alien faith, federal Home Minister P Chidambaram said Tuesday, according to news reports.

   Chidambaram was addressing a gathering of 100,000 people including about 10,000 Muslim clerics at the annual conference of influential Deoband seminary in northern Uttar Pradesh state, IANS news agency reported.

   'We cannot view Islam as an alien faith. Our Muslim brethren are honoured citizens of India. This is the land of your forbears, this is the land of your birth, and this is where you will live and work,' Chidambaram said.

   India has the world's third-largest Muslim population, after Indonesia and Pakistan. However, Muslims comprise about 13.4 per cent of its 1.2-billion population, while Hindus form a majority of more than 80 per cent.

   'A nation can ignore its minorities only at its peril. The golden rule in a democracy is that it is the duty of the majority to protect the minority, be it religious, racial or linguistic,' the home minister said. 'Due to the acts of a few, we have allowed diversity to become differences.'

   Chidambaram condemned the demolition of the mediaeval Babri mosque in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya town in 1992, calling it 'a manifestation of religious fanaticism and an act of extreme prejudice.'

   The 16th-century mosque was demolished by Hindu mobs, triggering bloody communal riots nationwide which claimed more than 2,000 lives.

   Hindu groups believe the mosque was located at a site where their epic hero god Rama was born, and want to construct a temple there.


Creationism, Minus a Young Earth, Emerges in the Islamic World


November 2, 2009

AMHERST, Mass. — Creationism is growing in the Muslim world, from Turkey to Pakistan to Indonesia, international academics said last month as they gathered here to discuss the topic. But, they said, young-Earth creationists, who believe God created the universe, Earth and life just a few thousand years ago, are rare, if not nonexistent.

One reason is that although the Koran, the holy text of Islam, says the universe was created in six days, the next line adds that a day, in this instance, is metaphorical: “a thousand years of your reckoning.”

By contrast, some Christian creationists find in the Bible a strict chronology that requires a 6,000-year-old Earth and thus object not only to evolution but also to much of modern geology and cosmology, which say the Earth and the universe are billions of years old.

“Views of scientific evolution are clearly influenced by underlying religious beliefs,” said Salman Hameed, who convened the two-day conference here at Hampshire College, where he is a professor of integrated science and humanities. “There is no young-Earth creationism.”

But that does not mean that all of evolution fits Islam or that all Muslims happily accept the findings of modern biology. More and more seem to be joining the ranks of the so-called old-Earth creationists. They do not quarrel with astronomers and geologists, just biologists, insisting that life is the creation of God, not the happenstance consequence of random occurrences.

The debate over evolution is only now gaining prominence in many Islamic countries as education improves and more students are exposed to the ideas of modern biology.

The degree of acceptance of evolution varies among Islamic countries.

Research led by the Evolution Education Research Center at McGill University, in Montreal, found that high school biology textbooks in Pakistan covered the theory of evolution. Quotations from the Koran at the beginning of the chapters are chosen to suggest that the religion and the theory coexist harmoniously.



Bombers Hit Pakistani Cities as the Army Gains Ground


November 2, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Suicide bombers attacked two major Pakistani cities on Monday — one of the them the garrison city of Rawalpindi — as the army claimed control of two strongholds in the northwestern tribal region of South Waziristan, officials said.The Rawalpindi suicide bomber struck a few hundred yards from the headquarters of the Pakistani Army and outside a branch office of the National Bank of Pakistan, where soldiers and civilians had gathered to collect their monthly salaries and pension payments. At least 35 people were killed and at least 45 were wounded, security and rescue officials said.

Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, an army spokesman, said that four soldiers were among the dead in Rawalpindi and nine among the wounded.

In the evening, an explosives-laden vehicle blew up at a police checkpoint near the entrance to the city of Lahore, said the city’s police chief, Pervez Rathore. Witnesses said that the vehicle was a white Suzuki and that it exploded after police officials tried to stop it from entering the city. The two suicide bombers in the car were killed and 15 people were wounded, most of them police officers.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either attack.

In a briefing in Islamabad on Monday evening, General Abbas said that Pakistani troops had secured two villages considered strongholds of Uzbek militants in South Waziristan, Kaniguram and Karama. He said the militants were withdrawing into the heartland, and there were reports that they were trying to escape the area.

Military, government and intelligence facilities have repeatedly been targets in recent months, and attacks intensified after the military began its assault against militants in South Waziristan, the stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban.

Three weeks ago in Rawalpindi, nine gunmen wearing army uniforms broke into the military headquarters complex and held dozens hostage for 20 hours. A raid by commandos ended the siege, but 16 people were killed, including 8 of the attackers,


Dhaka approves law to return 1965 Indo-Pak war Hindu property

Anisur Rahman

The Bangladesh Cabinet on Monday approved a proposed law to return Hindu properties which were confiscated during the 1965 Indo-Pak war, when the country was eastern wing of Pakistan, ending a major violation of the rights of minorities in the country.

“The Cabinet meeting (chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina) approved the Vested Property Return (Amendment) Act 2009. It (Bangladesh Cabinet approves law to return 1965 war Hindu property roposed law) will now be placed to Parliament for enactment,” Prime Minister’s deputy Press secretary Mahbubul Haque Shakil told reporters.

The proposed law is meant to redress the long-disputed law of the Pakistani era, which was widely criticised as a major violation of the minority rights. During the Pakistan period, the law was called as Enemy Property Act. The then Pakistani regime enacted the law to confiscate the property of the Hindu families who fled the country when the India-Pakistan war broke out in 1965 while the post independent Bangladesh Government renamed it as the Vested Property Act 1974.

The final Cabinet approval for the law came after some amendments were made to it in line with the Cabinet directives two months ago.

Officials familiar with the process said under the amended proposal, the Government would publish lists of ‘returnable and non-returnable vested property’ within a certain period of times while the claimants could also seek review about ‘non returnable’ property.

Under the law, Government committees at district and upazila or sub-district levels would settle disputes regarding the disputed property. Awami League had enacted the law to return the minority property at the fag end of its previous 1996-2001 tenure setting a two-year implementation deadline but the subsequent BNP sat on it exposing it to a natural death.

The past military-backed interim Government, however, enacted another ordinance under emergency rules with identical objectives of settling the long-standing issue but it too faced a natural death as the incumbent Awami League decided not to ratify it in Parliament.


Why can’t Muslim women also lead the whole community: BMMA

By Zakia Nizami Soman

3 November 2009

Based in New Delhi, Zakia Nizami Soman is one of the founder members of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), a movement of Muslim women across India struggling for their citizenship rights. In this interview with Yoginder Sikand, she talks about the BMMA’s work and reflects on the daunting challenges facing Muslim women in India today.

Q: How did the BMMA start? What made you and your colleagues feel the need for a separate Muslim women’s movement?

A: The BMMA was formally inaugurated in Delhi in January 2007, but before that we—numerous Muslim women—were working in our individual capacities on issues related to Muslims, particularly Muslim women, in different parts of India. I was working in Gujarat, my home state, before that, with Action Aid, in the wake of the state-sponsored genocidal attacks on Muslims in 2002. In a sense, it was the Gujarat genocide that brought us Muslim women, scattered across India, together. We met at numerous conventions, rallies and public hearings that were held in different parts of the country in the wake of the genocide. We were all Muslim women who were deeply concerned with the plight of the Muslims, including and especially Muslim women, and the enormous danger of Hindutva fascism, and who were trying, in our own ways, to intervene. That was when we decided to form a loose collective of our own. We felt that the issues of Muslim women were somehow being sidelined in a climate of heightened Muslim insecurity. We urgently felt the need for Muslim women to speak out, not just against patriarchy within the community and unjust personal laws, but also against growing anti-Muslim discrimination, against Muslims being treated as second-class citizens in this country and against neglect, indeed, discrimination by the state and other forces. We felt the desperate need for a Muslim women’s voice at the national level.

We began our work in 2005 by organizing meetings in various cities of India of like-minded Muslim women—in Delhi, Bombay, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow and so on. In the beginning, we did not have any clear agenda. These meetings served as a means for us to get to know each other and to clarify our thinking on issues related to Muslim women, the Indian Muslims as a whole, as well as the larger society and the struggles of other marginalized groups for justice and equality. After considerable discussion and deliberation about what our ideology and form of our collective, finally we announced the formation of the BMMA at our first national convention in Delhi in January 2007. Some 500 women attended the convention. Thereafter, our numbers rapidly grew, and now we have almost 20,000 members, with chapters in fifteen states across India. Most of them are volunteers, who take up Muslim community, particularly Muslim women’s, issues at the local level.



26/11: Pak court declares Kasab, 13 others 'absconders'

31 October 2009

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani anti-terror court conducting the trial of seven suspects in connection with the Mumbai attacks on Saturday declared 14 other accused, including Ajmal Kasab, as "absconders" and adjourned the matter till November 7.

During today's proceedings, Judge Malik Muhammad Akram Awan declared 14 other suspects linked to the attacks -- including Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive by Indian authorities during the strikes -- as "absconders," sources said.

Details of the other 13 were not immediately available. Khwaja Sultan, the lawyer representing LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi -- one of the seven suspects arrested by Pakistani authorities, said that Judge Awan M adjourned the case till next Saturday.

Today's proceedings were dominated by reservations expressed by the accused over the manner in which they were indicted during a hearing held on October 10.

Judge Baqir Ali Rana, who was earlier conducting the trial, had formally charged the accused in the absence of their lawyers.

The accused, who have declined to plead guilty or not guilty, today again protested about the manner in which they were charged, sources said.


26/11 terrorist negotiated Kasab's release with Israel ambassador

3 November 2009

MUMBAI: Amidst their raging battle with security forces during the Mumbai attacks, one of the terrorists had called up Israeli Ambassador in the

US asking him to use his good offices with India to secure the release of Ajmal Kasab failing which he threatened to kill the Jewish hostages in Nariman House.

This was revealed on Tuesday in a special court trying the 26/11 terror strike cases through CDs containing recorded telephonic conversation between the terrorist inside Nariman House, a Jewish shelter in south Mumbai, and the Israeli Ambassador intercepted by Mumbai police.

Without naming Kasab, the lone Pakistani gunman captured alive, terrorist Babar Imran told the Ambassador "Usko chhod do warna hum sab rumali ko mar denge (Release him or we will kill all hostages)".

The Ambassador, who was talking to the terrorist through an interpreter asked Imran, "What is your friend's (Kasab) name?" To this, Imran replied "Aap Ko Pata Hai Aur Police Ko Pata Hai (you are aware and so is the police)."

It is the case of police that terrorists were kept informed about the happenings in Mumbai by their Pakistan-based handlers who were watching the operations on television.

Imran had the knowledge that Kasab was captured by police and he tried to negotiate his release through the Israeli Ambassador.


Pak still pushing terrorists into India: AK Antony

2 November 2009

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Pakistan continues to push in trained terrorists from a large number of terror camps across the border into India, defense minister A K Antony said on Monday.

This was a matter of serious concern and steps are being taken to check this, he told reporters here.

"Even now, not only the terrorist camps are operating there, (but) there are continuous efforts to push a large number of trained terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir and India.

"It is a serious matter, it is a matter of concern to us. So to prevent that, whatever steps (are) needed we are taking," Antony said.

He said it would be difficult to improve ties with Pakistan unless it made "serious" and "sincere" efforts to dismantle the large number of terror camps on its soil.

The terrorist camps operating from Pakistan was the main impediment to improve India-Pakistan relations, Antony said.

As a policy, he said India was not for any confrontation with its neighbours. "We want to avoid strained relationships with our neighbors and to improve ties."


Pak accuses India of fomenting trouble, India rubbishes claims

PTI 3 November 2009, 03:59pm IST

NEW DELHI: India on Tuesday rubbished Pakistan's allegations that it was fomenting trouble in the neighbouring country, saying it has nothing to do with their internal developments which are of "their own making".

"We have absolutely nothing to do with whatever is happening in Balochistan or whatever is happening within Pakistan. I think it is their own making," external affairs minister S M Krishna said.

The minister was of the view that there is "total confusion" in Pakistan and that he did not think that there is any effective government functioning there.

Krishna's comments come against the backdrop of Pakistan's claims that its security forces had seized Indian-made arms and equipment from the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan, where the army has launched a major operation to flush out the militants.

Pakistan information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira and chief military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas on Monday said that troops had recovered "Indian arms, ammunition, literature and medical equipment" from Sherwangi, a key militant base that was captured a few days ago.

Interior minister Rehman Malik had recently alleged that India was supplying arms to Taliban militants.


Fatwa against an Indian national song 'Vande Mataram'

3 November 2009

Jamait-e-Ulema Hind or the JEU on Tuesday issued a fatwa against singing national song 'Vande Mataram'.

According to a resolution, Muslims should not sing 'Vande Mataram' as its reciting is against the Islam.

The resolution, which was passed at the Deoband national convention meet, says that Muslims should not sing 'Vande Mataram' as some verses of the patriotic song are against the tenets of Islam. The JEU leader said that the some of the line in the song is against Islam.

Meanwhile, home minister P Chidambaram addressed a Jamait-e-Ulema Hind conference in Deoband today.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Law Board justified the decision saying that (Muslims) can’t offer prayers to anyone but Allah. Kamal Farooqui, a prominent leader of the Board said, "We love the nation but can't worship it."


India: Shia Personal Law Board demands reservation

Abid Suhail

3 November 2009

The Shia Personal Law Board has demanded reservation for the sect in different walks of life. Addressing the open session of the board, Maulana Mohammad Athar underlined the lack of representation of Shia sect in state assemblies, ministries and important positions of the government. The maulana also said the majority sect of our community was not gracious enough to share with us the benefits given to the minorities and urged the government that in case the Sachar Committee recommendations were implemented, a special cell be set up to monitor that the Shias were not ignored. The maulana said had we had a vote bank, we would not have to approach the government as a destitute. The Shia Personal Law Board, through a resolution, appealed to the heads of all Muslim countries to raise their voice against extremism, imposition of religion by force and the killings of innocent people. Addressing the congregation, Congress leader Digvijay Singh, who attended the conference as chief guest, said he was in full agreement with the points raised about the sect's political representation and promised to pass on their demands to the Union government. (Sahafat 26/10)

Freedom struggle: The War of Independence, it was claimed in a paper presented by Prof Aslam Jamshedputi at a seminar held here under the auspices of Fakhruddin Memorial Committee, was launched full 27 years before the 1857 uprising by the ulama. Unfortunately, he added, the role of the ulama in the freedom struggle was not given its due place. While Prof Anees Ashfaq, giving a new interpretation to some portions of the "mersias" of Anees and Dabeer, said they clearly alluded to the conditions created by alien rulers and protest against them, journalist Qutubullah underscored the role of Lucknow's Urdu dailies right from 1855 to 1947. Prof Fazle Imam emphasised the role of the kisans, artisans, Bhojpuri poets, singers and particularly of Bhikari Thakur in the freedom struggle. The seminar was inaugurated by Prof Mohammad Muzammil and presided over by Mudrarakshas. The former underlined the economic plunder by the East India Company which roused the people, Mudrarakshas had a point in asserting that had the Oudh rulers been any lethargic the armed struggle against the Company would not have lasted for about two months. Hindi writer Shakeel Siddiqui compared the seminar (Rashtriya Sahara 28/10).

Source: reservation/articleshow/5190900.cms


Karadzic regretted that some Bosnian Muslims escaped genocide

03 Nov 2009

The Hague - ANI: Former Bosnian Serb president and genocide-accused Radovan Karadzic regretted that some Bosnian Muslims "got away" and were not killed in the Srebrenica massacre, the United Nations war crimes tribunal was told.

The Srebrenica Massacre refers to the July 1995 killing of more than 8,000 Bosnian men and boys, as well as the ethnic cleansing of 25,000-30,000 refugees inSrebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, by units of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) during the Bosnian War.

Karadzic agreed to attend a hearing aimed at continuing the trial on the condition of not being placed in the dock.

The Telegraph quoted UN prosecutor Alan Tieger, as saying: He was informed of its progress throughout. He knew that men were being killed. He covered up the mass expulsions and murders and continues to do so today. The only regret he had about the entire operation was that some Muslim men got away."

The UN has gathered evidence that the 64-year old defendant had "issued and signed" orders in March 1995, directing General Ratko Mladic's notorious Drina Corps to end all "hope of further survival or life" forSrebrenica's Muslims.

"These crimes were the culmination of (his) determination to cleanse eastern Bosnia to ensure the Serb state he envisioned," Tieger said.

Investigators said that less than three weeks after the Srebrenica massacre, Karadzic castigated his subordinates for failing to "finish" 9,000 Muslims who escaped capture.

"We were not able to surround and destroy that enemy because we were in a hurry and we assigned two generals to waste 15 days in negotiations with jackasses and idiots," he said.

Karadzic has denied 11 war crimes charges including counts of genocide for the Srebrenica massacre. - ANI,karadzic-regretted-bosnian-muslims-escaped-genocide.html


Will the hajj be an incubator for swine flu?

By Caryle Murphy

November 3, 2009

Millions walk, pray and eat together during the hajj. How Saudi Arabia is trying to minimize the swine flu risks.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — As millions of Muslims begin arriving in Mecca for this year’s pilgrimage, Saudi officials face a unique challenge: how to prevent this sacred rite from becoming an inadvertent incubator and global transmitter of swine flu.

The conditions that will arise during the pilgrimage, or hajj, which officially begins in the last week of November, are the exact opposite of what health officials like to see.

An estimated 2.5 million people from up to 160 countries — including perhaps 15,000 from North America — will walk, pray and eat in close proximity to each other for several days. They will touch the same religious objects and sleep in crowded tent cities. Some, inevitably, will arrive carrying the new virus strain, H1N1.

Unable to alter these conditions, Saudi health officials have been working feverishly for months to minimize the risks. It has been a delicate balance between maintaining unrestricted movement for one of Islam’s holiest rites, and imposing measures to retard rampant transmission of the virus.

In June the World Health Organization declared swine flu, first detected in April, to be pandemic, meaning it had reached much of the world. As of Oct. 17, the WHO reported more than 414,000 cases and nearly 5,000 deaths from the disease.

By Nov. 2, Saudi Arabia had 62 deaths and about 5,000 cases of confirmed or suspected swine flu, according to Khaled Al Marghalani, spokesman for the Ministry of Health.

Epidemiologists are watching swine flu carefully to detect if it blends with other strains or mutates into an even newer, more resilient strain that could produce more deadly outbreaks.

Large, dense concentrations of people such as the pilgrimage create conditions for such mutations. And pilgrims who become infected during the hajj could bring it home, triggering new outbreaks.

Al Marghalani said in an interview that ministry officials “feel very confident” that they have done as much as they can to prepare for the hajj.



Will Switzerland Vote to Ban Minarets on Mosques?

By Helena Bachmann

Monday, Nov. 02, 2009

Will Switzerland Vote to Ban Minarets on Mosques?

People walk under posters of the Swiss People's Party (SVP) that say,

Swiss People's Party (SVP) posters at the central station in Zurich say "Stop — Yes to Ban of Minarets"

Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters

Strolling through downtown Geneva on a cool October evening, Nadia, a 23-year-old Kosovo native, shakes her head at a provocative poster depicting a burqa-clad woman in front of a thicket of missile-shaped minarets rising out of a Swiss flag. Below the flag, the word stop is written in big, bold letters. "As a Muslim woman, I am offended by this image," says Nadia, who requested that her last name not be used. "It presents Islam as a danger to Swiss society." That is exactly the message the poster's creators intend to convey. The image that has unsettled many of Switzerland's 310,000 Muslims is part of a campaign by the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) to urge voters to approve a Nov. 29 referendum on whether to ban the construction of new minarets on mosques in the country. The party contends that more minarets — only four mosques currently have them — could inflame extremism and lead to a "rampant Islamization" of the country. (See pictures of Islam's revolution.)

The issue, which has divided Switzerland, comes amid concerns over a rising anti-Muslim xenophobia in Europe and heated debate in countries such as France and Italy over the banning of other Muslim symbols like the burqa. In Switzerland, though, it's not just the referendum that has angered Muslims but also the SVP's minaret poster itself, which many opponents say incites hatred and violates the country's antiracism law. Several towns have outlawed the posters in public spaces, while other cities, like Geneva, have allowed them to be posted as a right of free expression.

"These posters are hateful and shameful," says Hafid Ouardiri, a spokesman for Geneva's Islamic Cultural Center and its mosque. "How can this happen in Switzerland, the cradle of human rights?" (See pictures of the Swiss-invented Red Cross.)

Critics say the SVP, the largest party in Switzerland's coalition government, has taken advantage of the country's unique brand of direct democracy to push its populist, anti-immigrant agenda on the Swiss electorate. Citizens have the right to propose new laws in Switzerland — the only thing they need to force a nationwide vote on an initiative is a petition of 100,000 signatures. "Right-wing initiatives like the minaret one can misuse the system," says Marcel Stüssi, a lecturer in human-rights law at the University of Lucerne. He says the ban, should it be approved, "would breach not only freedom of belief, expression and conscience," but also other equality and nondiscrimination laws.



Mother pleads German ‘veil murder’ accused is suicidal

02 Nov, 2009

BERLIN, Nov 1: The man on trial for murdering a pregnant Egyptian woman in Germany in a frenzied anti-Islamic attack is suicidal, his mother said in a press interview on Sunday.

“He no longer wants to live,” Larissa Wiens told the mass-circulation Bild am Sonntag newspaper. “He says: ‘In a computer game you can press reset and start all over again. But not in real life’.”

The paper cites a policeman as saying that Russian-born Alex Wiens, 28, said when he was arrested after the murder of Marwa Al-Sherbini on July 1: “Please shoot me.”

Wiens, who went on trial on October 26 facing life in prison for murder, is accused of stabbing 31-year-old Sherbini, who wore headscarf, repeatedly with an 18-centimetre kitchen knife in a courtroom in Dresden.She bled to death at the scene watched by her son Mustafa, then three and a half years old, and her husband in what prosecutors said was a killing motivated by “a pronounced hatred of non-Europeans and Muslims”.

Egyptian media dubbed the victim “the veil martyr”. The attack, as well as a slow reaction by Germany’s media and political class, triggered anti-German feeling in Egypt and in the wider Muslim world.

The accused is also charged with attempting to kill her husband, Elwy Okaz, who was shot in the leg by a confused police officer who apparently mistook him to be the assailant. —AFP


Obama calls on Karzai to combat corruption in Afghanistan

3 November 2009

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama called on Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday to open a "new chapter" for his country by initiating

reforms and cracking down on corruption.

Obama telephoned Karzai after he was declared the winner in the presidential election to offer congratulations but also to urge him to get serious about improving the government, fighting corruption and speeding up the training of Afghan security forces.

"The proof is not going to be in words, it's going to be in deeds," Obama said at a meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

Afghan elections officials on Monday named Karzai the winner after his challenger, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, dropped out of the run-off election scheduled for this weekend, alleging the outcome would not be fair.

Karzai's re-election was hampered by allegations of fraud in the first round of voting Aug 20. Karzai had initially captured more than 50 percent of the vote for an outright victory. But he fell below that threshold after fraudulent ballots were tossed out, forcing him - under US pressure - to agree to a run-off against Abdullah.

The White House said that Karzai's victory was legitimate even though the election process was ridden with problems.

"Although the process was messy, I am pleased to say the final outcome was determined in accordance with Afghan law, which I think is very important," Obama said.

The problematic electoral process has raised questions about Karzai's legitimacy at a time when Obama is reviewing the administration's policy in Afghanistan and needs credible leadership in Kabul. Earlier this year there were reports that Karzai had fallen into disfavour within the Obama administration because of the widespread corruption in his government.



Suicide attacks in Rawalpindi and Lahore kill 37

2 November 2009

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Three suicide bombers on Monday blew themselves up in a busy commercial area near the Army headquarters in Rawalpindi and at a

police checkpost in Lahore killing at least 37 people, including military personnel, and injuring 60 others, in the latest of a series of deadly terrorist attacks that have rocked Pakistan.

A motorcycle-borne bomber detonated his explosives outside a state-run bank in Rawalpindi, less than a km from the heavily-fortified General Headquarters, killing 35 people, mostly pensioners and army personnel. ( Watch Video )

Police said the motorcycle bomber drove into the pensioners, who had come to collect their salaries from the National Bank, and blew himself up.

Witnesses said the explosion was so powerful that body parts were thrown into nearby buildings. Rescue service officials put the death toll at 35, while police said 45 injured were taken to nearby hospitals. Most of those killed were army personnel.

In the evening, two suicide bombers blew themselves up when their car was stopped by policemen on the outskirts of Lahore injuring at least 15 persons. Police said no one was dead in the attack barring the two bombers. ( Watch Video )

Quoting an eyewitness, Lahore police chief Pervez Rathore said that the two attackers, who were in a white car, detonated their explosives when policemen stopped them at a check post at Babu Sabu outside the city.


Qaida arms cache found in Riyadh

3 November 2009

DUBAI: Saudi police have discovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition, including 281 Kalashnikov assault rifles, belonging to al-Qaida terror

network buried in a vacant house in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

The weapons were found buried in a vacant house under a concrete slab, in Thadeq Governorate, near Riyadh, an interior ministry spokesman said. He said police learned about the cache after probing 44 al-Qaida suspects arrested in August.

The arms haul comprised 281 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 250 magazines and 35 cases containing 41,250 rounds of ammunition, he said. Police are searching for the owners of the house whom they suspects of having links with al-Qaida, he added.


Clinton offers U.S. aid to help boost Muslim ties

Tue Nov 3, 2009

MARRAKESH, Morocco, Nov 3 (Reuters) - The United States will deliver on President Barack Obama's promise of a "new start" with the world's Muslims, offering fresh programmes to promote entrepreneurship, economic development and education, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.

Clinton, speaking to a development forum in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh, said the programmes would also aim to encourage scientific and technical collaboration, women's empowerment and cooperation between faiths.

Clinton's speech was billed as a follow-up to Obama's June address in Cairo in which he promised to seek a new start to troubled U.S. relations with the Islamic world. (Reporting by Andrew Quinn; Editing by Louise Ireland)


Somali pirates fight over hostage couple

By Mike Pflanz in Nairobi

02 Nov 2009

Somali pirates who kidnapped British sailors Paul and Rachel Chandler were involved in a gun-battle with rival militia over plans to transfer the couple to Islamic extremists.

One faction of the gang holding the Chandlers, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, wanted to hand them over to local Islamists believed to be linked to radical jihadists fighting Somalia’s Western-backed government.

Mr and Mrs Chandler, 59 and 55, were understood not to have been injured during Monday’s clashes. They were hijacked at sea off the Seychelles ten days ago and transferred to Somalia, where it is understood that they are being held on land close to the town of Haradheere.

“We did not want the pirates to use our territory to hold hostages or hand them over to another group,” Hussein Mohamed Kahiye, a clan elder, told The Associated Press in Mogadishu.

He said fighters allied to his clan linked with a moderate Islamic militia to fight back against the pirates’ plan to transfer the Chandlers to another, more radical Islamist group.

There have been reports recently that the gang which is holding the couple is splitting into different factions, each wanting to deal with the Chandlers differently.

If they had been given to Islamist extremists, their plight would have become political rather than simply commercial.

Two journalists from Australia and Canada have been held by the Islamists for more than a year as ransom negotiations have broken down.

None of the pirate gangs, who simply want ransom money, are closely linked to al Shabaab, the radical jihadists who control much of the south of Somalia and who are fighting to overthrow the weak government.



Americans sour on U.S.-Muslim relations

By: David Freddoso

2 November 2009

A new Rasmussen poll shows that only 16 percent of likely voters expect American relations with Muslims to improve. That is down sharply from the 28 percent optimism right after President Obama's speech to the Islamic world from Cairo five months ago.

At that time, only 21 percent expected U.S.-Islamic relations to worsen, but now 33 percent expect it.

Rasmussen notes:

The president's outreach effort to the global Islamic community was one of the primary reasons cited for his winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Further evidence that one can win a Nobel Prize by talking a good game.


OIC chief calls for review of terror war

By Syed Rashid Husain

31 Oct, 2009

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RIYADH, Oct 31: The global war on terrorism is not yielding the desired results and its focus on military means should be reviewed, the Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, said in a press statement on Saturday.

This approach, besides its inherent shortcomings, also seems to have stoked the fire of radicalism, he emphasised.

The main reason for this failure is the current focus on the symptoms of the disease and leaving root causes unattended, the OIC secretary general added.

Mr Ihsanoglu said it was time to seek a remedy for terrorism based on an integrated approach encompassing political, economic and social aspects.

The OIC also expressed concern at the heavy loss of lives in Muslim states in acts of terror.


Malaysia adds whiff of romance to save marriages

3 November 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: Divorce-hit Terengganu state in Malaysia is stepping in to save marriages of couples troubled by body odour, humdrum sex and boring

pyjamas worn by spouses.

These are among the reasons for the high divorce rate and the state government is coming up with innovative ways to improve sexual relations, especially among newly-weds.

Top of its list is to invite cosmetic firms to introduce exotic and sensuous fragrances that can arouse sexual desire. And husbands and wives are being encouraged to bathe together, The Star said.

State Religious and Information Committee deputy chairman Muhammad Ramli Nuh believes these moves can curb divorce rates among couples.


Cops Kill Islamic Leader During Gun Battle in Detroit Suburb

Jim Kouri, CPP

November 02, 2009

Federal agents working on a counterterrorism task force in Detroit, Michigan reported that during a gun battle they shot and killed the Imam of a radical Islamic group. Agents say the gunfight began after Luqman Ameen Abdullah failed to surrender and face with various criminal charges.

Abdullah is the spiritual leader of a group that is alleged to have engaged in violent activity over a period of many years, and known to be armed. According to the report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police, the FBI was in the midst of arresting Abdullah and 10 of his followers on charges that included conspiracy to sell stolen goods and illegal possession and sale of firearms.

According to a preliminary report obtained by NACOP, Abdullah was killed while exchanging gunfire with Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on Wednesday at a warehouse in Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit.

Abdullah was the leader of part of an group of Islamists who call themselves Ummah ("the brotherhood"), a group of mostly African-American converts to Islam, which seeks to establish a separate Sharia-law governed state within the United States.

The Ummah is ruled by Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, a 1960s radical and Black Panther who is serving a life sentence for the murder of two police officers in Georgia.

As detailed in the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint that was unsealed today, Abdullah has espoused the use of violence against law enforcement, and has trained members of his group in use of firearms and martial arts in anticipation of some type of action against the government. Abdullah and other members of this group were known to carry firearms and other weapons.

According to the FBI Abdullah is also known as Christopher Thomas.

The FBI report states that Abdullah regularly preached anti-government rhetoric, and that some of his followers converted to Islam while in prison.

In 2000, in Sheriff's deputies Ricky Kinchen and Aldranon English went to (H. Rap Brown's) al-Amin's home to serve an arrest warrant for failing to appear in court on a traffic citation of speeding and impersonating a police officer. al-Amin opened fire with a .223 rifle and English was hit four times. Kinchen was shot with the rifle and a 9mm handgun.



Ayatollah H. Rapp Brown?

By: Barbara Hollingsworth

02 Nov 2009

Detroit imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah who was fatally wounded last week in a shootout with law enforcement at his suburban warehouse/mosque - was a highly placed leader of the Ummah, “a nationwide radical fundamentalist Sunni group consisting primarily of African-Americans, some of whom converted to Islam while they were serving sentences in various prisons across the United States. Their primary mission is to establish a separate, sovereign Islamic state within the borders of the United States, governed by Shariah law,” according to court documents.

Agents assigned to the FBI's Counterterrorism Squad said the heavily armed group supported itself financially by engaging in insurance fraud and fencing stolen property.

Luqman – whom informants said often referred to police officers as “kafir (non-Muslim) dogs” - had been arming and training members of the Masjid Al-Haqq mosque to establish an Islamic state “to be ruled over by Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rapp Brown, who is currently serving a life sentence in the Florence, Colorado Supermax for shooting two [black] police officers in Georgia” when they tried to serve him a warrant for a speeding ticket.

The former justice minister of the Black Panther Party is apparently running the jihad from the same prison the Obama administration wants to send terrorists from Guantanamo Bay.


Al-Shabab Tightens Grip in Somalia

By Alisha Ryu Nairobi

02 November 2009

Somalia's al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants are tightening their grip on areas of the country they already control, imposing new rules and punishing people they say are violating their radical brand of Islamic law. Some observers believe until a more powerful group emerges to bring law and order to the country, ordinary Somalis are not likely to challenge al-Shabab's violence-driven agenda.

In recent months, al-Shabab militants have carried out violent acts they describe as "just punishments" for Somalis who violated Sharia - Islamic law.

Alleged spies and Christians have been publicly executed. Thieves have had their legs and hands amputated. And women accused of adultery have been flogged and stoned. Al-Shabab militants have also reportedly forced citizens, including children, to watch the gruesome punishments being meted out.

Somalia observer Paula Roque at South Africa's Institute for Security Studies says there is little doubt that in some places, al-Shabab has restored law and order that Somalis have been have been missing since the fall of the last functioning government in Somalia in 1991.

But Roque says al-Shabab is trying to bring order through violence and the threat of violence, which is not what Somalis want.

"There are elements that are extremists, who want to install a caliphate in Somalia," she said. "So, to that extent, they have an objective and they have a way of achieving it, which is through the use of violence and exterminating those that stand in the way of their objective. Certainly, the public executions are intimidation tactics. This is a movement that is led by military men, not theologians, clerics," she said.

The militant group is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and Australia for having ties to al-Qaida.

Al-Shabab's links with al-Qaida began in the early part of this decade, with the group's founder, Aden Hashi Ayro, who was trained by al-Qaida in Afghanistan. His death in a U.S. missile strike in May 2008 failed to stop al-Shabab from stepping up recruiting efforts and vastly expanding its territory in Somalia. The group achieved this largely by portraying itself as a nationalist-Islamist group fighting to preserve Somalia's sovereignty against threats by Ethiopia and the West.

Ethiopian army officers during a farewell ceremony at the presidential palace in Mogadishu, Somalia, 13 Jan 2009

Ethiopian army officers during a farewell ceremony at the presidential palace in Mogadishu, Somalia, 13 Jan 2009



The stoning law, `wan'ni' and sharia implementation

Jennie S. Bev

Tue, 11/03/2009

Bylaws in Aceh for stoning adulterers to death and 100 lashes for premarital sex should be nullified as they are not merely against human rights and unconstitutional, but perpetuate the myth of inequality and overindulge in the over-virtuousness of Islam and sharia law.

Failure to nullify them will have grave consequences in which not only will pluralism be threatened but it will engender an age of distrust and Indonesia will be thrust back into the Dark Ages.

The first argument comes from the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, in which all human beings have the right to a dignified life.

The second argument comes from Indonesia's national laws, which include ratifications of international human rights conventions, overriding the special autonomy region's bylaws.

The third argument comes from questioning the definition of "sharia" laws themselves: which ones are Islamic and which ones are customary. This article tries to reach an understanding of the third argument.

Fiqh or jurisprudence in Islam is one of the most complicated studies of all Islamic-related schools. It is also the most powerful, because those who understand them are likely to be listened to seriously by society.

In the past, sharia had been seen as a set of rules, in which was the evolution of legal reasoning, this paradigm is now acknowledged as a set of social practices and a set of ever-evolving interpretive processes.

This, however, hasn't been uniformly understood, which has caused there to be various interpretations, particularly among the less academic clerics who interpret sharia as "written in stone because God tells us so."

Certain principles, however, are indeed absolute, such as God as the source of utmost mercy and compassion. This principle alone contradicts the so-called "sharia law" implementation, such as mutilating limbs, lashing, and stoning to death.

That grave wrongdoings require draconian consequences may sound fair, but it comes with a huge logical fallacy: God has been belittled as a human being and God's reasoning has been reduced to a petty human being's.

An example of feudal practice that has been considered as "Islamic" is the tradition of wan'ni in Pakistan, in which female family members of a murderer are given away to the victim's family as a form of restitution.

Islamic scholars have agreed that the practice of wan'ni is indeed unIslamic as it shifted the notion of "sin" to another individual, which is both unjust and unfair regardless of one's gender.

The socialization of wan'ni as a form of gender-related human rights violation and not as a part of Islamic law has been attributed to Rubina Bhatti, who was nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.

Indonesia recognizes national law, adat law, and Islamic law, and such acknowledgement creates an environment of possible conflicts of laws, if both the enactment and the implementation are not clearly regulated.



Jihadist groups infiltrate Lebanon, Gaza

Nov. 2, 2009

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- A jihadist group suspected of having links to al-Qaida has claimed responsibility for a fumbled rocket attack against Israel from South Lebanon on Oct. 27, the fifth such attack this year.

The claim on an Islamic Web site by the little-known group calling itself the Battalions of Ziad Jarrah, a Lebanese who was one of the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide hijackers, has not been verified independently since it was posted Oct. 29.

But it has heightened growing concerns in the region that jihadist groups are establishing themselves in Lebanon and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip to launch attacks on Israel at a time when U.S. President Barack Obama is pushing hard to revive the long-stalled Arab-Israeli peace process.

The group has claimed responsibility for a Sept. 11 rocket attack on northern Israel.

It said the Oct. 27 attack was in retaliation for Israel's crackdown on stone-throwing Palestinians protesting the presence of hard-line Israeli settlers around the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Islam's third-holiest shrine.

The Battalions of Ziad Jarrah is a branch of the Abdullah Azzam Brigade named after a Palestinian militant who was Osama bin Laden's mentor in Afghanistan before al-Qaida was established. Azzam was assassinated in Pakistan with his two sons Nov. 24, 1989.

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for deadly bombings in Egypt in 2005 that killed dozens of people.

In a separate development, Lebanese military intelligence reported the capture of Fadi Ghassan Ibrahim, aka Sikamo, wanted for several bombings and setting up "terrorist cells."

Lebanese newspapers said he was linked to Abdelrahman Awad, a Palestinian jihadist and veteran of the Iraqi insurgency who heads Fatah al-Islam, another group with ideological connections to al-Qaida.

It fought a three-month battle with the Lebanese Army in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in the northern port city of Tripoli in 2007 in which 400 people were killed, including 171 soldiers.

The militants were eventually crushed after fierce fighting, but they have since been regrouping in North Lebanon as well as the sprawling Ein al-Hilweh camp in the southern city of Sidon.

Lebanese security sources said that Ibrahim was arrested Oct. 30 after he was lured out of Ein el-Hilweh, where Lebanese security forces do not venture.



When No Means No Pleading with Iran will get the West nowhere.

NOVEMBER 2, 2009

I once overhead a guy try to make a date over the phone. His end of the conversation went roughly as follows:

"How about Friday?" (Pause.) "Not Friday? Because I'm free most of the weekend." (Pause.) "Not this weekend? What about next Saturday?" (Pause.) "Are you free at all next week?" (Long pause.) "Well, are you ever free?"

Apparently she was not, at least as far as he was concerned.

Now it's the turn of the Obama administration to play the guy who won't take a hint. And it falls to the Islamic Republic of Iran to be the girl who's hard—actually, impossible—to get.

Tehran's most recent abrupt rejection came last week, when it reportedly decided that it was not enough for the U.S. to trash four binding Security Council resolutions demanding that Iran cease enriching uranium. Nor was it enough that France and Russia were prepared, with America's blessing, to convert Iran's existing stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to a grade of 19.75%, a hair's breadth shy of the 20% needed for a crude nuclear device.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad channels his inner Gloria Steinem.

"The key issue is that Iran does not agree to export its lightly enriched uranium," an unnamed senior European official told the New York Times. "That's not a minor detail. That's the whole point of the deal."

Perhaps this is merely some tactical posturing by Iran; as of this writing, its foreign minister hasn't yet categorically ruled a deal out. Then again, it's probably worth rehashing the history of the West's nuclear negotiations with Tehran to see where things are likely to go from here.

In October 2003, the European diplomatic troika of France, Germany and Britain extracted a promise from Iran to suspend most of its nuclear work and promise "full transparency" in its dealings with the International Atomic Energy Agency. In exchange, the EU3 offered a menu of commercial and technological incentives. Then-French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin hailed the deal as "a promising start."

It soon became apparent that Iran had no intention of becoming transparent, as repeated IAEA reports made abundantly clear. As for the idea that Iran could be made to abandon its nuclear ambitions, then-Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi was unequivocal: "We won't accept any new obligations. Iran has a high technical capability and has to be recognized by the international community as a member of the nuclear club," he said. "This is an irreversible path."

So there was the first Iranian "No." In November 2004, however, Tehran made a second deal with the EU3, this time with an even sweeter package of incentives for Iran. The so-called Paris Agreement lasted a few months, until Iran again spurned the Europeans. "Definitely we can't stop our nuclear program and won't stop it," former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani said in March 2005—a second resounding "No."

Still, the wheels of diplomacy kept spinning, thanks to a Russian offer to enrich Iran's uranium for it. The Iranians "studied" the proposal and even reached what an Iranian diplomat called a "basic agreement" with Moscow. But again they turned it down, on the basis that it is "logical that every country be in charge of its own fate regarding energy and not put its future in the hands of another country." Call that the third "No."



Azeris speak out on mosque closures

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

In Azerbaijan a number of Muslim clerics are speaking out against the government's decision to close certain mosques. The closures come just five months after a new law on religion came into effect.

The government says the law is designed to make following Islam and other faiths easier in a secular state. But, as Tom Esslemont reports, critics say it is an over-reaction to the threat of Islamic fundamentalism.

Akhli Sunni Mosque, Ganca

The Akhli Sunni Mosque was closed soon after Azerbaijan's parliament passed its Law on Religious Freedom in May this year

The Akhli Sunni Mosque in the city of Ganca is firmly shut.

There are paper seals on the large wooden doors, preventing anyone from entering. It has been that way ever since it was closed by the authorities in September.

The closure came soon after Azerbaijan's parliament passed its Law on Religious Freedom in May this year, banning anyone who received their education abroad from leading religious worship.

The government has also insisted that all religious groups must re-register.

The authorities say the Ganca mosque has been closed for restoration. One of its members, Vidady Abasov, who said he had spent some time in Central Asia, says that is nonsense.

"They closed our mosque just after the new law came in," he says, gesticulating. "It made us angry. Why did they do it?

"The fact is that they don't like us because we have spent some time abroad. They think we are too radical."

Now, as the mosque's muezzin, the only place where he can perform the call to prayer is in his own back garden.

Without a minaret, he performs the enchanting ritual surrounded by apple trees.

It is not just Vidady Abasov and his supporters who have raised concerns. The US state department says it is aware of three separate mosque closures in Azerbaijan.

In its International Religious Freedom Report 2009, it noted that there was "some deterioration in the status of respect for religious freedom by the [Azerbaijani] government... There were changes to the constitution that undermined religious freedom."

'Growing threat'

So what lies behind the allegations?

In adopting the new law on religion, the Azerbaijani government says it has had to react to the growing threat of what it has called Wahhabism - a strict form of Sunni Islam.

Vidady Abasov

Vidady Abasov doesn't know when his mosque will reopen

The threat of extremism has worried the leaders of a rapidly-growing economy reliant on its vast reserves of oil and gas.

In October this year, an Azerbaijani court jailed two Lebanese men for plotting to attack the Israeli embassy in Baku. According to officials, the prosecution linked the pair to Lebanese Hezbollah and the "al-Qaeda network".

In 2007 the authorities announced they had thwarted an attack on oil installations and the US and British embassies by a "radical Wahhabi group".



Iran lashes out at U.S. anti-Islam approaches

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

TEHRAN (FNA) - The Iranian foreign ministry on Monday denounced the anti-Islam approaches adopted by the U.S. officials, and expressed regret over the manifestation of such an attitude in Washington's foreign policy.

""As the vast and deep hatred felt by the Muslim world's public opinion for the negative approaches of the U.S. administration is on the increase, presentation of unaccountable and projective views and illogical prescriptions for others are instances of anti-Islam and double standard behavior,"" Ramin Mehman-Parast, the newly appointed Foreign Ministry Spokesman, said.

Referring to the U.S. veto of Goldstone report on Palestine at the UN Human Rights Council, Mehman-Parast blasted the U.S. officials' contradictory behaviors in relation to Muslim countries.

He also pointed to the recent remarks made by the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder who had described Muslims as troublesome population in the U.S., and added, ""These are clear examples of the U.S. officials' views in interactions with Muslims and religious minorities.""

Mehman-Parast, who used to serve as Iran's Ambassador to Kazakhstan, was appointed as the country's sixth foreign ministry spokesman on Saturday.

Mehman-Parast, who has also served as the Ministry's Director General for Cultural Affairs replaced Hassan Qashqavi, who has just been appointed as deputy foreign minister for consular, parliamentary and Iranian expatriates' affairs.


Khamenei says US 'hiding a dagger' in talks with Iran

PTI 3 November 2009, 05:56pm IST

TEHRAN: Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at the United States on Tuesday, saying Tehran will reject any talks backed by its arch-foe as Washington is not to be trusted.

Khamenei's anti-US salvo raised the possibility that a Washington-backed nuclear fuel deal for a Tehran research reactor may be derailed despite world powers turning up the heat on Iran to accept the UN-brokered offer.

Dismissing US President Barack Obama's series of diplomatic overtures towards Iran, the all-powerful Iranian leader said Washington wanted to negotiate with Tehran but its talks were full of "threats."

"Every time they have a smile on their face, they are hiding a dagger behind their back," said the country's top cleric who has the final say on all Iranian national issues.

"Iran will not be fooled by the superficial conciliatory tone of the United States," said Khamenei in a speech to students on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the seizure of US embassy in Tehran by Islamist students.

"This new American president repeatedly sent us oral and written messages to come and change the page... to come and cooperate in solving the problems of the world. We said we will not pre-judge. We will see their action and see what they do about the change," Khamenei said.

"But in the past eight months what we have seen is contradictory to what they say. They are telling us to negotiate, but alongside the negotiation there is a threat that if the negotiation does not bear the desired results, then we will do this and we will do that.

"We do not want any negotiation, the result of which is pre-determined by the United States," he said, adding that Tehran will always pursue its "scientific and technological rights and freedom."

His comments raised the possibility that the high-profile nuclear fuel deal backed by Washington could be derailed.

Iran is currently engaged in talks with world powers over how to procure nuclear fuel for a Tehran research reactor.

Under the UN-brokered deal Iran would send its low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad for conversion into fuel for the Tehran reactor. Iranians say they would rather buy the fuel directly.

World powers led by Washington are backing the deal as they want to take out Tehran's stock of LEU which they fear could be further enriched by Iran on its own to very high levels and used in making atomic weapons.



Malaysia: Controversy follows ex-mufti of Perlis


Tuesday November 3, 2009

Who are the ‘black hands’ behind the arrest of the charismatic but controversial former Mufti of Perlis?

THERE is little doubt that the controversial religious figure Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has a following as evidenced by the big group that turned up to support him at the Gombak Syariah Court.

His biggest supporter is Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, the former Perlis Mentri Besar, who is in London. Otherwise he would have been there as well.

Dr Asri, the former Mufti of Perlis, was released on police bond after being detained the night before by the Selangor branch of the religious enforcement unit JAIS.

Testing times: A number of Islamic NGOs is against Dr Asri’s potential appointment as head of Yadim.

He was giving a religious lecture in a private home in Gombak at the time.

He is likely to be charged for preaching without a permit but those in the know said that events behind the scenes had been building up to this moment.

Some are even talking about “black hands” trying to fix up the charismatic preacher who had made waves with his unorthodox views on religious issues and matters the past few years.

They blamed the PAS-controlled religious arm in Selangor for the crackdown on Dr Asri.

Others said the “black hands” belong to those who are out to block Dr Asri’s appointment as head of Yadim or Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia, the prestigious Islamic outreach arm of the Government.

Apparently, Dr Asri was to have been appointed as Yadim head on Nov 1, replacing Datuk Nakhaie Ahmad who has held the post since the 1990s.

It is believed the appointment has not proceeded because of opposition from Islamic groups.

There is no evidence connecting the Yadim appointment to Dr Asri’s Sunday night arrest but 17 Islamic NGOs had sent a letter to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Prime Minister protesting the would-be appointment.

News of the protest leaked out when one of the signatories, the Syariah Lawyers Association, posted the letter on its blog; the posting has since been removed.

“There are no black hands or whatever you may call it. The point is that there are Islamic bodies who are very uncomfortable that Dr Asri may be appointed to Yadim,” said former Abim president Yusri Mohamad who was a signatory to the letter.

Shahidan, who remains one of Asri’s closest associates, has slammed the opposition to Dr Asri as the work of selfish people.

“We carry out dakwah (outreach) work without harming people. We are trying to explain Islam to non-Muslims. What is wrong with that?” he said.

Shahidan also asked Dr Asri to reject any offer from Yadim and in a tit-for-tat move, has asked for a thorough audit of the accounts of Yadim.



No Islamic Landmarks Were Harmed in the Making of '2012'

by Peter Hall

Nov 2nd 2009

Given the topic at hand, I'd like to make it clear up front that neither I nor Cinematical are taking sides in this story about Roland Emmerich's forthcoming All Landmarks Must Die opus, 2012; I just find it a curious insight into the mind of the man who knows how to make a building fall over but good.

The trailer for 2012 plays like a highlight reel of civilization falling apart all over the world, but it's religion that gets the brunt of Emmerich's digital pounding: A Buddhist temple gets hit by a tidal wave. The Sistine Chapel crumbles to pieces as a split tears right down the middle of Michelangeo's painting of God touching Adam's finger. St. Peter's Basilica rolls over onto a crowd of devoted worshipers. Rio de Janeiro's iconic Christ the Reedemer statue falls to earth as its wracked by shockwaves. The White House is even crushed by, of all things, an aircraft carrier. But eagle eyed fans of watching organized religion get its disaster porn comeuppance will have noticed that there are no Islamic landmarks on the CGI chopping block.

That wasn't always the plan, however. Emmerich explained to SCI FI Wire that he had originally hoped the Kaaba, one of the holiest sites in the Islamic religion, would join the visual wrath of 2012, but that his co-screenwriter Harald Kloser talked him out of it:

"Well, I wanted to do that, I have to admit ... but my co-writer Harald said I will not have a fatwa on my head because of a movie. And he was right. ... We have to all ... in the Western world ... think about this. You can actually ... let ... Christian symbols fall apart, but if you would do this with [an] Arab symbol, you would have ... a fatwa, and that sounds a little bit like what the state of this world is. So it's just something which I kind of didn't [think] was [an] important element anyway in the film, so I kind of left it out."



Manawan terror suspect arrested

Monday, 02 Nov, 2009

MIANWALI, Nov 1: Police on Sunday arrested an alleged terrorist involved in an attack on Manawan Police Training School from Isa Khel, 92 kilometres from here.

Police arrested truck driver Mehmoodul Hasan when he was on his way to Mianwali.

Hasan is said to be associated with the Qari Ishtiaq group, which is allegedly involved in attack on Manawan police school.

Hasan, who belongs to Chak 26, Mitha Tiwana, Khushab district, has been arrested on the information provided by Qari Ishtiaq, who is now in the custody of security agencies.

Hasan takes arms and explosives to crime scenes.

A police official confirmed the arrest, but refused to go on the record because he was not allowed to speak on the issue.


Double standards on Iraq and Iran

Occupied Iraq’s approach to the French nuclear industry for help with the reconstruction of at least one of its reactors, and its opening of discussions with the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), reveal the inconsistencies in western attitudes to the region. Iraq used to have three nuclear facilities, all purportedly for research, although Saddam’s scientists were reportedly ordered to replicate the French uranium enrichment process. All three Iraqi nuclear facilities were destroyed between 1982 and 1991, one by Israeli bombing and the others by U.S. and British bombing in the first Gulf War. Now, with an infrastructure devastated by U.S.-led troops during the 2003 invasion, and a clear need for reliable energy sources, Iraq is attempting to revive its nuclear programme. The political environment for this, however, is complex and uncertain. The U.N. Security Council Resolution 707, adopted in 1991, prohibits Iraq from nuclear activities of any kind, except for the use of isotopes for medical, agricultural, or industrial purposes, until the Security Council deems that Iraq has fulfilled the conditions of Resolution 687. That resolution forbids Iraq from acquiring any equipment or materials related to nuclear weapons, and gives the IAEA comprehensive supervisory powers over the country’s nuclear activities. Moreover, given the overall security situation underlined by the October 25 suicide bombing in Baghdad, Iraq’s capacity to render nuclear facilities safe is in doubt. One of its sites was looted after the invasion in 2003.

The recent Iraqi moves have provoked remarkably little reaction in the western world, which is intensely suspicious of anything neighbouring Iran says or does in nuclear-related matters. Even the potentially constructive draft deal reached in Vienna on October 21 has been received with much caution. If the draft is finalised, Iran will ship 1,200 kg of low-enriched uranium (LEU), amounting to 75 per cent of its enriched uranium stocks, to Russia to be turned into fuel suitable only for use in civilian reactors. U.N. inspectors also carried out their first inspection at Qom on October 25, at a site voluntarily disclosed by Tehran. Many western analysts, however, continue to be pessimistic, saying Iran can produce another 1,200 kg of LEU in a year, that the deal does not stop the country from enriching uranium, and that it is not known how much LEU Iran actually has. Such negativity could well jeopardise the deal, and it reveals the west’s continuing double standards over Iran and Iraq.


Kashmir students get a taste of peace here

3 November 2009

BANGALORE: These young minds are on a `Watan Ki Sair' -- an educational tour for students from the Kashmir Valley. The group of 18 students

landed in the Garden City to explore and witness the benefits of peace and development.

Organized by Rashtriya Rifles under the Headquarters Counter Insurgency Force, the event aims to expose students to the world outside the Valley, to increase awareness and understanding.

The children along with three teachers met governor H R Bharadwaj on Monday. The one-hour meeting included discussions about the political, educational and religious issues surrounding Kashmir. Bhardwaj said he always felt close to the Valley. "I was a regular visitor. The place is highly secular and the only one where all religious spots are still intact."

He added, the need of the hour is to provide young people with better education and employment, which will bring about the desired change.

Abdul Jabar Najar, one of the teachers with the group, said: "We want to have a close look at the educational and industrial system outside the Valley, so that the same can be employed there. Improvised educational system will help in the state's development as well."

The group will tour Bangalore till November 4 before proceeding to Delhi.


Probe asked in FBI's slaying of extremist imam

By Niraj Warikoo

A noted critic of Detroit police abuse is calling for an independent investigation into the shooting death last week of a Muslim leader.

Meanwhile, the FBI said today it has dispatched a Shooting Incident Review Team to Detroit to investigate the incident, which is done when agents are involved in a shooting. Any report from that investigation is reported to the U.S. Department of Justice. Dearborn police also are conducting an investigation.

Ron Scott, head of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, said today he is concerned about the killing of Luqman Ameen Abdullah, an imam who headed Masjid Al-Haqq mosque in Detroit.

Abdullah was shot dead by FBI agents Wednesday in Dearborn after he allegedly fired at a police dog, killing it.

Abdullah and his followers are suspected of federal crimes and described as Islamic extremists in a criminal complaint.

“We’re concerned about the excessive force,” Scott said today. “We want to see an independent investigation.”

The family said Abdullah was shot 18 times, while the medical examiner’s office would only say he was shot multiple times.

Andrew Arena, special agent in charge of the Detroit FBI office, said agents acted appropriately.

Scott said the shooting “leaves more questions than answers.”

Scott is also concerned about the use of undercover informants in the case of Abdullah, which he said is “straight out of the playbook of J. Edgar Hoover,” referring to the former head of the FBI.

Local Muslims have raised concerns about the use of federal informants inside mosques.

According to the criminal complaint, federal authorities used informants to record Abdullah’s conversations. Arena has said that while the FBI may use informants, it does not target any person or group because of their religion.


Need for US-sponsored Arab-Israeli deal

By Ghassan Rubeiz

November 03, 2009

Palestinians and Israelis are locked in a relationship of deep mistrust. A credible outside force must intervene to break up an enduring cycle of despair. In the foreseeable future, there seems to be no Middle East miracle cure, spontaneous recovery, inspiration, powerful leadership or any of those signs of self-generated breakthroughs.

The paradigm of conflict resolution must shift from endless ego massaging, exhaustive pre-bargaining and limitless cajoling to direct US endorsement of a specific peace plan: 1967 borders, a plan for refugees, a shared Jerusalem, future of Israeli settlements, land swap measures, security guarantees for Israel and dimensions of a viable Palestinian state.

Negotiations will start bearing fruits when Arabs and Jews shed anachronistic ideas on forging peace. Since neither side is likely to relinquish hard-line attitudes, the American administration, as a trusted broker of peace, should propose the final outcomes of a two-state solution. 

In the Arab Israeli conflict, what is a dream for one side is a nightmare for the other. Palestinians still dream of fulfilling the rights of return of their refugees to Israel proper. Meanwhile, Israel urges the international community to “license” its Jewish character as a state. 

Imagine the impact of exact Palestinian justice: the return to Israel of several million refugees. Would not this sudden and massive influx of new Arab residents overwhelm Israeli society? Then imagine the impact of affirming Israel as a Jewish state: the sanctioning of the social inferiority of 1.5 million Israeli Arab citizens.

Peace makers must figure out how to reconcile the rights of refugees with the survival rights of the state of Israel. Moreover, future peace arrangements must reconcile the rights to a Jewish, democratic homeland with the rights of the non-Jewish citizens to equality.

Justice does not necessarily mean reversal of problematic events. In fact, the return of several million refugees to an already crowded Israeli society may not do adequate justice to either Palestinians or Israelis. However, reintegrating a segment of the refugee population in a future Palestinian state would be natural and suitable. 

Palestinians would not be abandoning justice when they invest in the development of a hopeful future for their refugees. But to be symbolically sensitive, Israel must acknowledge the suffering they have caused Palestinian in displacing them across borders. Such Israeli acknowledgement would help the refugees to partially overcome their loss as they think of alternatives. 

Moreover, a substantial withdrawal of Israeli settlers from the West Bank and East Jerusalem would partially compensate for barring Palestinians to return to Israel proper, which still remains the “historic Palestine” to many Arabs.



Lord Pearson's anti-Muslim rant

Posted by Mehdi Hasan

02 November 2009

Islamophobia and UKIP

I have blogged before about the odious Lord Pearson of Rannoch, the UKIP peer and frontrunner for the leadership of that EU-obsessed party. But is Europe its only obsession? The Telegraph's Ed West says that "Lord Pearson told me that, if elected, he will make the threat of radical Islam the major focus" of the UK Independence Party.

Defenders of Pearson would argue that his fear is of Islamism, or "radical Islam", and not mainstream Islam as a whole, or all Muslims. However, this disingenuous defence falls apart on examination of this video on the News of the World website in which the UKIP peer, aside from railing against the "growing threat of Islamism" and "the threat that faces us from violent Islam", argues that the Britain is under threat because "the Muslims are breeding ten times faster than us". He says: "I don't know at what point they reach such a number we are no longer able to resist the rest of their demands."

His true colours have been revealed. It is not "violent Islam" that exercises him; it is the presence of Muslims - all Muslims! - in Britain. And I'm sure I don't need to tell you that his alarmist and ill-informed predictions about the Muslim birthrate, and the demonising and dehumanising language ("breeding ten times faster than us"; "resist their demands"), mirrors the language employed by the far right about the Jews in the 1920s and 1930s.

Even more sickening and depressing is that the majority of the commenters in the thread below the NoTW piece agree with Lord Pearson's outburst - as I am sure they will below this post even here on the NS website. Islamophobia is alive and well in Great Britain!

Note: before the Muslim-hating trolls in the blogosphere descend on this post to rant about my own video infamy, I would point you in the direction of this post, and this article, which make my own views quite clear.


Religion and the crisis of moral authority


November 3, 2009

In the post-enlightenment era, the term "religion" refers to beliefs outside the realm of reason, science and politics. It is seen as a form of ethics without foundations in philosophy or political theory.

Religion, like tribal and national identity, is a resource for political legitimacy. Just as the idea of national interest legitimizes war and discriminatory policies between citizens and non-citizens, religion too is deployed in the interest of partisan politics in many societies -- and in developed as well as developing nations. Therefore, as in the past, religion is still a source of identity, boundaries, discrimination, violence and oppression in modern times, too.

In some societies religion acts openly to influence politics, and in others it is more subtle and less ominous. Even in contemporary Europe, where religiosity is withering away, religious identity manifests itself in politics in the form of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

But religion also holds the potential for empowering what is good in each one of us and for moving us to act in the interest of justice, goodness and compassion. I believe that when religion acts as a source of ethics, it does a lot of good. But when it acts as an identity, it divides humanity.

Islam to me is not a religion -- it is Deen -- a way of life. It is a philosophy that provides meaning to the ontology of my existence. It is a critically dynamic and evolving ethics that shapes my politics and lifestyle. It is a spiritual path that bridges, for me, the chasm between the temporal and the eternal, between the "is" and the "ought." I find the Quran a source of comfort when I am overwhelmed by the incredible incomprehensiveness of time and creation.

Every religious tradition today, however, is facing a crisis of legitimacy. Modernity is skeptical of organized religion and particularly of religious authority. Religious authorities in all religions have been tainted by corruption and authoritarianism. They are also widely incompetent and do not often inspire obedience from their own congregations.

In the Muslim world, the institutions that produce the so-called Islamic scholars are far behind, sometimes even centuries behind, secular institutions in foundational subjects like philosophy, jurisprudence, economics, logic and political and legal theory. They lack rigor in their pedagogy and have a weak culture of research, critical thinking and analysis. As a result of this, arguments, fatwas and edicts given by religious authorities sometimes border on the ridiculous, undermining their own credibility. Some of their edicts undermine social cohesion and others preclude development. The endorsement of egregious violence by some scholars has brought unimaginable horrors in places like Iraq and Pakistan.


The Feminist Anti-Niqabis: Freeing Women from their Free Choice

Deena Khalil

3 November 2009

In the midst of all the hullabaloo about the niqab we are witnessing the formation of an unlikely alliance. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Egyptian Sheikh al-Azhar Muhammad Tantawi both stirred controversy after expressing anti-niqab sentiments, and many of the reactions have been quite predictable. But certain opinions – the opinions of two groups in particular – strike me as somewhat self-contradictory: the Muslims who are for the niqab-ban because they see the niqab as an imposition on Islam, and the liberals who are for the ban because they see the niqab as oppressive to women.

Responding to the former group requires delving into issues of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) which may be appropriate for another post. But in this post I will address the latter group: the self-proclaimed feminist freedom-of-choice-gender-equality-empowerment-of-women-espousing liberals.

This opinion is one that I just don’t understand. Personally, I have more respect for a secularist ideologue that hates all religious symbols than I do for a liberal who cries freedom of choice and calls for banning the niqab in the same breath. At least the secularists are consistent. But this particular group has taken on the cause of liberating women from the shackles of backwardness – these shackles being according to their own personal definition, and the women themselves get no say in the matter.

Mona el-Tahawy, Egyptian journalist, writes for the New York Times saying:

“Soad Saleh, a professor of Islamic law and former dean of the women’s faculty of Islamic studies at Al-Azhar University — hardly a liberal, said the burqa [niqab] had nothing to do with Islam. It was but an old Bedouin tradition. It is sad to see a strange ambivalence toward the burqa [niqab] from many of my fellow Muslims and others who claim to support us. They will take on everything — the right wing, Islamophobia, Mr. Straw, Mr. Sarkozy — rather than come out and plainly state that the burqa [niqab] is an affront to Muslim women.”

However, this group of anti-niqab advocates misses one crucial point: whether or not the niqab is mandated by Islam has nothing to do with Sarkozy’s (or anybody else’s) right to ban it.

People’s reasons for dressing a certain way are personal, private, and completely irrelevant to the debate, which is a debate about RIGHTS. The point here is: Citizens have the right to wear whatever they want in public. Governments simply should not have the right to interfere in how people dress. Whether or not we agree with, or even understand, their reasons for wearing what they do should be of no significance in any free country.

Those women who freely choose to wear the niqab are dismissed as extremists, people who surrendered rather than fought for their rights and thus are unworthy of our support for their rights to dress as they choose, or brainwashed oppressed souls who need to be saved by those who have been enlightened.

Egyptian journalist Manar Ammar writes for news website BikyaMasr:



Sheikh Khalifa gets second term as UAE president

3 November 2009

DUBAI: Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, whose conservative economic policies helped UAE avert the brunt of global meltdown, has been re-elected president of the country for a second five-year term ON Tuesday.

The 61-year-old ruler of Abu Dhabi was elected to the post by the Supreme Federal Council, comprising the rulers of the seven emirates in the UAE, the official news agency WAM announced. The council appoints the vice president as well.

Sheikh Khalifa became the ruler of Abu Dhabi in 2004 after his father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, founder of the Gulf state in 1971, died.

He continued with the foreign policy of his father Sheikh Zayed, balancing tightrope diplomacy with Iran and US, promising the former that he would never allow UAE to be used for "hostile activities" against Tehran.

Sheikh Khalifa, who is also the chief of Abu Dhabi's Supreme Petroleum Council, is the architect of economic development of the country, especially in the fields of real estate and tourism.

Two years after becoming president, Khalifa organised the first elections in UAE, that chose half of the 40 members of the Federal National Council, while rest of the 20 members were selected by the rulers.

Known for his interest in sports, especially horse and camel racing, Khalifa funded the repatriation of more than 1,000 Asian and African children who were used as child camel jockeys before the 2005 ban.



New courses cover Bible, meditation

James D. Davis

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Studies for both mind and soul will be held this month at two local institutions, both religious and secular.

An indepth, two-year course in the Hebrew scriptures will start at 8 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Boca Raton Synagogue, 7099 Montoya Circle.

Called Tanach B'Shnataim, or The Bible in Two Years, the course will cover a book of the scriptures in a 90-minute session each week. Classes will include traditional texts, key themes, archaeology, and maps and charts.

No background in Hebrew or biblical studies is needed, according to Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim, administrator of the course and assistant spiritual leader at the Boca Raton Synagogue. All the biblical texts will be available in English as well as Hebrew.

The 15 instructors this year will come both from local schools, including Hillel Day School of Boca Raton and Chabad of Boca Raton, and from out-of-town schools such as Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, New York.

The course was developed at the London School of Jewish Studies, then offered in America two years ago at the Lincoln Square Synagogue, New York.

At the end of the course, the synagogue will offer a tour of Israel, visiting sites mentioned during the course. Cost hasn't been set yet.

Course fee is $175 per person per year, or $100 per student. To register, call Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim, 561-394-0394.

Meanwhile, Florida Atlantic University will launch its fifth year of "Peaceful Mind/Peaceful World," a series of workshops to shake off stress and address personal challenges.

The university, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, will first host a workshop on forgiveness on Nov. 7. The next, on Jan. 16, will deal with "details of your life." The third, on May 1, will be on meditation.

Leading the events will be Boca Raton residents Barbara Schmidt and Adriana Faraldo. Both have attended meditation retreats and workshops around the country.

All the FAU workshops will be held 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Senate Chambers of the Student Union Building. Registration is $10 for each session, including lunch. Advance registration is required, by calling 561-297-2337 or visiting



Local author writes biblical story for girls

November 02 2009

A young girl named Zillah may not sound familiar for those who know the biblical story of the Magi because Zillah is a product of Afton resident Lois West Duffy’s imagination.

By: Amber Kispert, Woodbury Bulletin

Zillah is a young orphan girl living in ancient Persia who has a birth mark on her face that causes her to be tormented by those around her. Zillah’s future doesn’t look bright until the three shining Magi come into the story and Zillah embarks on a long journey and adventure with the three wise men.

A young girl named Zillah may not sound familiar for those who know the biblical story of the Magi because Zillah is a product of Afton resident Lois West Duffy’s imagination.

Duffy recently released her debut novel, “Zillah’s Gift,” the story of a young girl who encounters the Magi on their journey.

History of writing

Duffy has been writing for most of her life — writing short stories as a young girl, working as a journalist, writing poetry and even was a political writer — but she said fiction writing has turned out to be her calling.

“Fiction writing is very different from non-fiction since you make up a story from scratch, and so that was the challenge and that was the fun — fiction is my mountain to climb,” she said.

Previously Duffy had tried her hand at writing novels, but nothing ever came of them until Zillah.

“The part I like the best about writing is inventing the characters — I love that you get to decide where your characters are gonna go and what they’re gonna do or be.”

Zillah and the Magi

With “Zillah’s Gift” Duffy wanted to have a Christmas story with a girl because she felt there aren’t enough Christmas tales with female protagonists. And since the history of the Magi, and where they came from, is never explained, Duffy decided to add her own perspective to it.

“Since there is nothing conclusive about the Magi, that means you can make it anyway you want it,” Duffy said. “I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to have her in this story.”

Duffy even said she hops that “Zillah’s Gift” may one day become a Christmas classic.

In addition to being a chance to place a girl in Biblical stories, Duffy said she hopes “Zillah’s Gift” teaches girls, and boys, that they don’t have to be held back by perceptions or circumstances — in Zillah’s case her birthmark.



Relocation of Guantanamo detainees to Standish Max prison

How Far Away is Standish, Michigan?

by  Gordon Cucullu


During my recent visit to Standish, Michigan, where I had been invited to advise and assist citizens who are opposed to relocation of Guantanamo detainees to Standish Max prison, I had the opportunity to speak with county and town officials at an open meeting.

One gentleman, obviously frustrated by Standish's freefalling economy and desperate for the economic salvation promised by federal authorities with relocation, accused me of "ignorance and fear-mongering" when I spoke of the lure Gitmo terrorists would present for jihadists inside and outside of America.

Beslan, Russia, I had told the attendees, stands as a stark example of the lengths to which terrorists will go to make their nefarious point. They seek soft targets like schools, churches, and hospitals. "Can Standish or neighboring communities really afford such a terrible risk for the false promise of economic gain?" I asked.

It is well to remember than Usama bin Laden himself has said that two million American children must die to atone for imagined transgressions against Muslims.

"Don't be silly," one of the residents told Kelly Kimball, one of the members of the Michigan Coalition to Stop Gitmo North, when she heard these warnings. "That kind of thing could never happen here."

Oh, really?

Breaking news last Tuesday highlighted the arrest of two Chicago men who planned to commit terrorist acts in Denmark in retaliation for the Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed. American converts to Islam, the men had independently traveled to Denmark to assess targets and while there linked up with al Qaeda cells.

If home-grown terrorists are prepared to fly to Denmark they can certainly make their way to Standish.

Following hard on the heels was an alarming new story. On Wednesday a terrorist cell was broken up in nearby Dearborn, MI, a scant 146 miles from Standish Max. A home-grown Islam prison convert, Luqman Ameen Abdullah, formerly known as Christopher Thomas, was killed in a gunfight with FBI agents at his mosque. More than ten members of his cell remain at large . Abdullah, the FBI charges, was an acolyte of H. Rap Brown, who was issuing instructions from within the Florence Max super-prison in Colorado.

The prospect of terrorists attacking Standish, dismissed as ridiculous by several in the community, is now an in-your-face threat.

Nor can we be reassured that world-class terror leaders are so isolated in maximum security prisons that they cannot exert control over minions dispersed in local communities.

Over the past few weeks we have seen similar stories of arrests in Illinois, Ohio, New York, and North Carolina. Just as we have reduced al Qaeda ranks worldwide, our enemy is morphing, reacting to its losses by increasing recruiting efforts in the west and in the US, especially among native-born, radicalized converts.

Nor is Standish as isolated as its sleepy upstate location implies. A speed-limit two hour drive will access Standish from Dearborn, Michigan, home to upwards to 300,000 Muslims, many of whom have been steeped in the fundamentalist Islamic ideology of jihad.


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