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Islamic World News ( 6 Oct 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Iraqi widows yearn for new lives

Iraqi widows yearn for new lives by Hugh Sykes

Love Jihad: luring girls online and forcing them to convert to Islam

Egyptian MPs seek ban on fake hymen

Why are black people turning to Islam?

Student speaks about her conversion to Islam by Veena Thangavelu

Does Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Have Jewish Roots?

True or not, the rumors matter. Here's why bY JAMSHEED K. CHOKSY

Pakistan Church officials criticize new education policy

Pakistan Taliban's new leader shows he's in charge by Issam Ahmed

German publisher cancels book seen insulting Islam by Sarah Marsh

Saudi king sacks anti-coed cleric

Islamic Bonds Receive a Boost

Muslim MPs oppose new madrassa board

Muslims and the real 'going back' By Nazir Khaja

Al-Qaida offshoot claims Algeria attacks

International Islamic Culinary Festival to be opened in Baku tomorrow

Terrorism: Obama 'a criminal like Bush' says Al-Qaeda no. 2

It's Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran Time by Pepe Escobar

Makkah to host international X-Ray conference

Abbas cabinet says will confront Israel

Af-Pak border is 'modern epicentre' of jihad: Gates

Afghanistan’s Sima Samar Contending for Nobel Peace Prize by Meera Bhatia

Pakistan's refugees are pawns in the Taliban's game by Basim Usmani

Taliban insurgency by Michael Rass

KAUST symbol of loyalty: King by P.K. Abdul Ghafour

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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Iraqi widows yearn for new lives

By Hugh Sykes

BBC News, Baghdad

Nearly three decades of war, brutal totalitarianism, invasion, occupation and insurgency in Iraq have left behind at least a million widows - and several million children without fathers.

That was the conservative estimate earlier in 2009 by Iraq's acting minister for women's affairs, Narmeen Othman. She believes there may even be two million widows.

Under Saddam Hussein, despite the brutality of his regime towards so many of Iraq's people, war widows were looked after by the state. Now, they are mostly hidden and vulnerable.

It's been called Iraq's cultural time bomb.

Close to the surface of the new normality here, there are painful memories, and a yearning for lost loved ones.

And - there's anxiety about looking after the children when the breadwinner has gone.

Success story

At the al-Ethar charity in west Baghdad, donations from well-wishers help support families without fathers. They also help to find husbands for women who want to remarry.

The director, Hana Badrani, told me she has more than 2,000 widows on her books, with a total of 7,000 children whose fathers have been killed. Most of the widows do not have any qualifications to help them get work. They're trapped.

She introduced me to one of their success stories - Iman and Hussein. Iman's husband was shot dead two years ago. She has now re-married - and she and Hussein have a little boy called Yussef, who kept on catching my eye and grinning.

Hussein told me: "Marrying a widow is good for the man and for the children."

Iman says her friends encouraged her to get married again.

Hussein's mother Latife encouraged her too: "All these widows," she said. "All these children. Who else is going to take care of them?"

I also met Umm Fatima - a young widow who started to sob when I asked her how her four children were coping. Their father Ahmad was shot dead nearly three years ago by men wearing military uniforms. He'd simply been refuelling his taxi cab when they killed him.

Umm Fatima has lost a husband and the family income.

She believes it's very important for her and for the children that she re-marries. "A father for them would make us all more secure," she told me - financially, and emotionally.

"They miss their dad," she went on. "And when they meet men sometimes, they want them to give them a hug."

Social traditions

But an Iraqi campaigner for women's independence, Hanaa Edwar, questions the assumption that a widow would be better off re-marrying.

"For her dignity as a human being," she said. "Women should feel they are capable of doing what men can do. They can protect their children without a man in the family.

"In this society where there are tough tribal traditions," she added. "We have to try to build a new look for women in Iraq."

Hanaa Edwar is Christian. I wondered what she would say to Muslims who might argue that their social and religious traditions are none of her business.

"I don't care about that really," she responded. "I consider myself a human being. I don't bother myself with religions, I am an Iraqi citizen. And, of course, I am an international human being."

But there are still numerous women here - and their children - who yearn for a new husband. And a new father.

One day, I sat with a widow, Umm Ahmed, and her three-year-old daughter Sara. Umm Ahmed told me, in a very matter-of-fact way, that her husband had been shot dead, simply walking down the street.

When her mother had finished speaking, Sara looked up at me and said: "Please stay with us."



Love Jihad: luring girls online and forcing them to convert to Islam


The High Court of Kerala asks the state police and the Interior Minister in New Delhi to investigate the forced conversion campaign dubbed "Love Jihad" and "Romeo Jihad." Young people attracted by promises of marriage end up in the hands of Islamic organizations. It is feared that there are over 4 thousand cases. For the boys who act as bait there is a reward of 100 thousand rupees.

New Delhi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The High Court of Kerala has asked the state police and the Interior Minister in New Delhi to open an investigation into the so-called "Love Jihad" and "Romeo Jihad" operations planned by Muslim organizations that lure young girls with the promise of the soul mate and then force them to convert to Islam.

The request of the judge KT Sankaran has coincided with a Kerala court rejection of a request to release on bail of two young Muslim men accused of having deceived two schoolgirls from Pathanamthitta College. The suspects belong to the Campus Front, a Muslim student group, linked to the Popular Front of India (PFI) a confederation of organizations of Islamic inspiration, also active in the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The two students, originally from Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram, testified in court that they were lured with promises of marriage and then held hostage in a centre in Malappuram. They say they were forced to watch videos and read books glorifying religious extremism.

The police in Kerala is concerned that the phenomenon may be widespread. The Muslims are the second largest religious community of the state after Hindus, accounting for 24% of the population, over 30 million people, and this gives a dense network of relationships that can facilitate the operations of priming and conversion.

The first clues to the story date to the beginning of 2009 when the police registered in over six months, almost 4 thousand conversions to Islam among girls who had had dealings with the network of Romeo Jihad.

The main instrument used for grooming is the Internet. The profile of young people involved is well defined: Hindu or Christian, a student in college or their first job, coming from wealthy families. The primers were precise: two weeks to verify the feasibility of converting the girl, six months for submission to real brainwashing. During their mission the young men are given cell phones, bikes and clothing needed to lure young women; if the conversion occurred 100 thousand rupees, about 1,400 Euros, as financial aid to start a business of their own.

The High Court of Kerala has demanded that the central authorities and those of the state also investigate funds that finance the two campaigns. To date, investigators have been able to discover that the money comes from abroad, probably from Middle East or the Arabian peninsula.



Egyptian MPs seek ban on fake hymen

6 October 2009

CAIRO: Conservative Egyptian lawmakers have called for a ban on imports of a Chinese-made kit meant to help women fake their virginity and one

scholar has even called for the “exile” of anyone who imports or uses it.

The Artificial Virginity Hymen kit, distributed by the Chinese company Gigimo, costs about $30. It is intended to help newly married women fool their husbands into believing they are virgins — culturally important in a conservative Middle East where sex before marriage is considered by many to be illicit. The product leaks a blood-like substance when inserted and broken.

The fracas started when a reporter from Radio Netherlands broadcast an Arabic translation of the Chinese ad of the product. That set off fears of conservatives that Egyptian women might start ordering the kits.

Sheik Sayed Askar, a member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood who is on the parliamentary committee on religious affairs, said the kit will make it easier for Egyptian women to give in to temptation. He demanded the government take responsibility for fighting the product to uphold Egyptian and Arab values.

“It will be a mark of shame on the ruling party if it allowed this product to enter the market,” he said.



Why are black people turning to Islam?

Some are following their heroes, others looking for meaning in their lives. One thing's for sure – the numbers are growing

Black conversion or "reversion" to Islam is not new; it has been taking place in the African diaspora since time immemorial. However, I looked deeper into the phenomenon to find out why a growing number of Black Britons, especially younger ones, are embracing Islam. Although I am not a Muslim, I have always been interested in Islam – three of my all-time heroes, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X and Jamaican singer Prince Buster were Muslim converts, and I was intrigued by the way Islam inspired all three to transcend their respective vocations to become icons.

What surprised me at the start of my study was that very little of any substance had been written about a religious phenomenon which first came to public prominence in the dubious form of Michael de Freitas, a Trinidad-born, UK-based lapsed Catholic. As Michael X and then Michael Abdul Malik, he was at the forefront of the race equality struggle in Britain during the 1960s. It was this stark lack of information that encouraged me to write a book, something that involved painstaking research and innumerable interviews in cities and towns with a growing Black Muslim presence.

One of the first issues I became aware of was the fact that many converts feel uncomfortable with the term "black Muslim", as they regard themselves as part of a worldwide community of believers who do not recognise "race". However, others are less reticent about associating their blackness with being a Muslim, and believe that Islam is the "natural religion of black people" and provides the means for full "spiritual, mental and physical liberation" from an oppressive system designed to subjugate them.

My research reveals that there is no one, straightforward reason for conversions, but a plethora of theological, emotional and cultural motivations. Practically all those interviewed suggested that Islam had given their lives meaning and woken them from a spiritual malaise. Others said that their faith provided inspiration and strength to engage with a society they regarded as corrupted by materialism and moral relativism. And for those whose lives had previously been errant, Islam's decisiveness on a range of religious and socio-cultural matters had given them a focus and an anchor. Equally, many of the women interviewed suggested that the Islamic focus on modesty had liberated them from the rampant fashion-related consumerism that objectifies all women, and sexualises pre-pubescent girls.



Student speaks about her conversion to Islam

By Veena Thangavelu

Racing to the library to be interviewed, Katie Billings starts apologizing to me almost immediately. "I'm SO sorry I'm late!" the recent convert to Islam exclaimed. "I work in a lab in which time doesn't exist, and I had to shower, and I couldn't get my hijab on properly!" Her blue headscarf was a little off-center. "Sorry," she continues, "I'll get it right soon." Billing's interest in Islam occurred shortly after September 11, 2001. As a freshman at West Virginia University, she took a class that "wasn't supposed to be about Islam, but it eventually was," and followed up on a classmate's defensive arguments on Islam. "I didn't know much about it," Billings said, "I was from a small town, and there wasn't a significant Islamic population; I wasn't familiar with it. With all this talk about Islam in the media-you know the whole deal after 9/11-it just made me curious. [The student] from class actually recommended a book for all of us to read, Everything One Needs to Know about Islam. I later went and got a copy for myself. After a year at WVU, Billings transferred to UMBC to finish her degree in Environmental Science, close to her home in neighboring Hartford County. With a significant population of Islamic students on this campus, Billings was bound to talk to Muslim students first hand-her roommate was Muslim. "At first I met some people and we talked bits and pieces of Islam. And then I met my habibi [cherished], and fell in love. My roommate soon became my best friend… she's very inspirational, and her devotion to her faith made me question how Islam can work in my life," Billings states, "so I did a lot of researching-reading books, asking questions, looking up stuff online, even reading the Koran." For Billings, Islamic principles did not contradict her logic of life and how the world works. "As a science major, I am aware of the scientific explanation of things around us, but for me, that wasn't enough.



Does Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Have Jewish Roots?

True or not, the rumors matter. Here's why.


The world has been transfixed this week by speculation that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a self-proclaimed devout Shiite Muslim infamous for his frequent anti-Semitic and anti-Israel remarks, may be of Jewish heritage. Jews may not be eager to claim him, but his family's religious history -- or even just the rumors surrounding it -- could have serious implications for Iranian foreign policy nonetheless.Ahmadinejad has admitted that his family changed its name when he was young, but has provided few details. According to Iranian government documents and family members, his original family name was Sabourjian or "cloth-weavers." That name, although present among Muslim Iranians, often indicates a minority background. Despite the official position, another former family name alleged by Ahmadinejad watchers has been Sabaghian, or "cloth-dyers." It doesn't matter much which name it was, given the similarity of the jobs they describe: Traditionally in Iran, both the coloring and weaving of cloth were professions left to non-Muslims as religiously unclean activities.

Generally among Iranian Muslim family names, the ending -ian or -yan signifies a relationship to a profession or location. But this can also indicate an Armenian or even an Assyrian (Nestorian-Chaldean) background and, therefore, identify Muslims with a Christian family heritage -- something other observers have picked up on.

Full Report at:


Pakistan Church officials criticize new education policy

October 05 2009

LAHORE, Pakistan: Catholic Church leaders have expressed concern over the country’s new education policy, which they say imposes Islamic studies as a compulsory subject on minority students.

The Catholic bishops' National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) has demanded the government make provision for non-Muslim students to receive religious lessons in their own faith in lieu of Islamiat, which comprises courses on Islamic belief and practice.

Archbishop Lawrence John Saldanha of Lahore, the commission's chairman, and Peter Jacob, its executive secretary, expressed their concern in a press release.

“If government thinks public education is not possible without a compulsory subject of Islamic Studies and Arabic, then we are forced to demand religious education for Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, etc. in their respective religions,” it said.

They issued the statement on Sept. 25, two weeks after the government announced the National Education Policy 2009. Continuing the existing policy, the new guidelines maintain Islamic studies as a compulsory subject.

“Non-Muslim children” have the option of taking ethics and moral studies instead from third grade onwards, whereas the old policy allowed this only in grades nine and 10. But this ignores a fundamental objection that the provision means nothing in practice.

Catholic educators have long maintained the textbooks used for these alternative studies are written with “a biased mindset” by Muslim writers who do not make allowances for the teachings of religions other than Islam. They thus claim Muslim teachers cannot teach ethics effectively to children from religious-minority communities.

In practice, many Christian students have chosen Islamic studies anyway. Either they want to keep their Christian identity from being known to all or they claim teachers inflate grades for Islamiat students while marking those who choose ethics harshly.

The NCJP statement raised several of these points:

“The subject of Ethics proposed in the policy is hardly a choice as an alternative for non-Muslim students. Taking this option involves several difficulties including: non-availability of text books [some are still being written] and a syllabus that has chapters on different religions, yet only presents the Islamic point of view. Moreover non-Muslim students risk their grades and isolation from the rest of the class.”

Full Report at:


Pakistan Taliban's new leader shows he's in charge

By Issam Ahmed

October 6, 2009 edition

In a brash response to the government's claim he was dead, Pakistan Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud appeared in a video broadcast Monday.

Lahore, Pakistan - The re-emergence of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud after weeks of speculation that he might be dead was nothing if not emphatic. At a press conference in his South Waziristan base Sunday, the heir of Baitullah Mehsud appeared alongside four top Taliban commanders, including the rival whom the Pakistani government said had killed him.

At the press conference, which was broadcast on Pakistani television Monday, Hakimullah boasted that the Taliban is stronger than ever, vowed to defeat America and the Pakistani army, and denounced President Barack Obama and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari as "enemies of humanity."

Its airing coincided with a suicide bomb attack on the United Nations World Food Program offices in Islamabad that left five personnel dead and more than eight injured. On Tuesday, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack through spokesman Azam Tariq.

"This sends out the clear message that he's in charge, the infighting is over, and they would like to portray that they are as potent as ever," says Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani army general and security analyst based in Islamabad.

Full Report at:


German publisher cancels book seen insulting Islam

By Sarah Marsh

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German publisher said Tuesday it had canceled the printing of a murder mystery about an honor killing because it contained passages insulting Islam and may have prompted Islamist retaliation.

Droste publishers dropped the book by author Gabriele Brinkmann entitled "To Whom Honor is Due" after she refused to change several passages, including one where a fictional character is portrayed making abusive remarks about the Koran.

"After the Mohammad cartoons, one knows that one can't publish sentences or drawings that defame Islam without expecting a security risk," said Felix Droste, head of Droste publishers.

In 2006, violent protests broke out in several Islamic countries after cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a Danish newspaper sparked outrage among Muslims.

The publisher's decision has prompted criticism that it is bowing to Islamist intimidation and curtailing freedom of speech. The firm has also received threats from far-right groups against its employees for being "friends of Islamists."

German newspapers ran headlines: "Publisher self censors" and "Fear of Islamist attacks."

The media also compared the decision to an incident in 2006, when a Berlin opera house postponed a production of Mozart's "Idomeneo" which showed the Prophet Mohammad's severed head, citing security fears.

"What on earth is this all about, where are we here? We are in a free country," Brinkmann told German media.

Droste said that while it had a long history of releasing controversial books and was already planning to publish another murder mystery on the topic of honor killing, it would not publish books insulting peoples' faith -- whether Islam, Christianity or other religions.

"We do not want to offend religious groups," spokeswoman Nora Tichy said.


Saudi king sacks anti-coed cleric

6 October 2009

RIYADH: Saudi King Abdullah sacked a hardline cleric from the powerful Council of Senior Ulema on Safter he criticised the breakthrough policy of

mixing the genders at a new university promoted by the monarch.

Sheikh Sa’ad al-Shethry was dismissed from the body of top religious scholars, which sets the religious policy in the Islamic kingdom, by royal order, the official news agency SPA reported.

The order came in the wake of Shethry’s televised comments a week earlier criticising the gender-mixing practice of the new King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, which was inaugurated on

September 23.

The $7-billion post-graduate international university is the first public education institution in Saudi Arabia to allow men and women to mix freely. In a television interview, Shethry called mixing “evil” and “a great sin”, sparking a huge backlash from progressives in the Saudi media.

Under Saudi Arabia’s ultra-conservative Wahhabi school of Islam, women are prevented from mixing with men outside their own family, cannot travel freely and are not allowed to drive.


Islamic Bonds Receive a Boost

Issuance Rises 82% as Confidence Grows in Global Markets


DUBAI -- Global issuance of sukuk, or Islamic bonds, rallied during the third quarter with the value of sukuk issued rising 82% in the latest sign that confidence is returning to capital markets.

Data from's Sukuk Monitor shows the value of Islamic bonds issued world-wide for the third quarter rose to $6.2 billion, from $3.4 billion for the same quarter of 2008.

Investors are putting more faith in the sukuk market, seen as a more stable platform to raise capital, as the financial crisis eases and global market conditions improve rapidly, bankers say.

Sentiment over the $3.5 billion sukuk due in December by Nakheel, a real-estate unit of government-owned Dubai World, has improved in recent weeks after Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai's ruler and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, said the emirate can meet debt obligations, estimated at as much as $80 billion.

Both conventional and Islamic deals were successfully placed, as investors became more comfortable with the economic environment.

Total global sukuk issuance stood at $13.5 billion at the end of September, data from Zawya's Sukuk Monitor shows. That is close to the total global market for primary Islamic bonds in 2008, which raised $15.2 billion, according to

Mukhtar Hussain, global chief executive officer of HSBC Amanah told Zawya Dow Jones in a recent interview that the volume of Islamic bonds issued globally this year could hit $15 billion as the financial crisis eases and global market conditions improve rapidly.

Full Report at:


Muslim MPs oppose new madrassa board

TNN 4 October 2009

NEW DELHI: There is little hope of a Central Madarsa Board being set up in the near future.

As expected, a majority of the 18 Muslim members of both Houses of Parliament who attended a meeting convened by the HRD ministry on Saturday on the issue, were not in favour of either the concept or the proposed composition of the Board.

HRD minister Kapil Sibal has now put the ball in their court and asked them to come up with an alternate proposal within a month. Sibal even said that in case the community is not in favour of the board, his ministry would withdraw the proposal. He reiterated that there is no attempt to interfere in the religious teachings of madarsas.

Sources said by leaving everything to the Muslim MPs, the government has ensured that no one can allege interference by it in the functioning of madarsas. On the other hand, government has an upper hand. It can always say that the community itself is not prepared to provide modern education for a small section of children who go to madarsas.

But an official said, "We will be able to bring them on board. The idea is to break the stranglehold of big madarsas over the smaller ones. We know how poorly teachers are paid despite government grants. Smaller madarsas are in favour of the board for it will reduce their reliance on the big madarsas for money. At some stage, there will be realization that the government genuinely wants to help them."

Though 30 MPs had agreed to come for the meeting, only 18 could make it. Sibal said three kinds of views were expressed by the MPs. A group of four-five MPs said the concept of setting up a Central Madarsa Board was not justified. They argued that even the Sachar Committee had said only 4% of Muslim children go to madarsas. "Then why is government so keen (on setting up the board). Instead, it should concentrate on the remaining 96% Muslim children," said one MP who attended the meeting.

Full Report at:


Muslims and the real 'going back'

By Nazir Khaja, 6 October 2009

Every Muslim talks about the Golden Age of Islam, and is nostalgic about it. Rightly so. In terms of science, medical progress, scientific achievements, and philosophical, religious inquiries, Islam and Muslim societies were recognized as the gateway to knowledge. While Muslims derive great satisfaction in recounting the past glory of Islam, no one is interested in answering the questions as to how these things ended. There must be a reason for this. Why Islam suddenly went into a deep freeze intellectually speaking? The process of going from religious commitment to religious confusion begs understanding and inquiry, especially by Muslims themselves.

Critical to the understanding of the problem is to note the attitude of the early Muslims; if they had actually been insular and resistant to the ideas and beliefs of other cultures, there never would have been the flowering of philosophy, poetry, ethics, and mysticism, influenced by the best thinking of the surrounding cultures. Their main mission was to lend Qur'anic authority to contemporary social struggles and engage with local customs, culture and traditions to synthesize and evolve a dynamic culture of their own. The Qur'anic framework became the matrix of their society and social moral values.

This they could have hardly done without critical thinking and a spirit of free inquiry. In their mind were questions about freedom and tradition. What is it that they were inheriting, as well as what capacities they had for critiquing that inheritance? These questions were in their minds as much as they are in contemporary Muslims'. Yet the earlier generation did not falter. They pursued knowledge relentlessly and with an open mind. All of this resulted in the glory of that Islam which the Muslims now pine for and refer to as "going back to".

The historical imprint left on the minds of subsequent generations of Muslims unfortunately has led to the fostering of an attitude that Muslims are actually the highest manifestation of humanity, a people whose way of life was established not by human convention but by God. How can this claim of Muslims be supported in view of what Muslims and Islam are going through?

The problem here is that even though Islamic doctrines according to how Muslims believe are Revelational, Trans-historical and Eternal, the Ummah or Muslim fraternity is contingent and historical. Muslims have become identified with Islam and Islam with Muslims through inescapable historical and cultural processes. This is the reality the Muslims need to acknowledge. The world at large perceives the issue in this manner. At the time of Islam's rise and spread to distant parts of the world, the people understood and accepted Islam through the conduct of the Muslims of that time. Why should it be any different now?

How should Muslim leaders and scholars begin to engage the Muslim masses in a rational, spiritual and social framework referenced by the Qur'an and the Prophet's example?

Full Report at:


Al-Qaida offshoot claims Algeria attacks

6 October 2009

ALGIERS, Algeria – Al-Qaida’s North African offshoot claimed it killed or injured dozens of Algerian security forces in 29 separate attacks and bombings over the past two months, despite the intense military pressure that appears to have seriously limited the militants’ scope.

The claim Monday by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, came as security forces reported that they killed eight suspected Islamist fighters over the weekend.

The militants said they killed or injured more than 80 members of the army, police and other security forces from early August to late September, along with three former insurgents who switched sides and collaborated with the government, and one spy.

Their count was about twice as high as that of the Algerian media over the same period. Authorities typically do not comment on security incidents and have only confirmed a handful of attacks over the summer and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ended this year on Sept. 19 in Algeria.

The statement by AQIM was posted on Internet sites frequently used by extremists. Its authenticity could not be independently confirmed, but it was quoted Monday by the Washington-based SITE intelligence group, which monitors militant messages.

Most of the attacks claimed by AQIM occurred to the east of Algiers in the often-restive region of Kabylie, where militants have bases in the mountains and where the army has been conducting large sweeps for months.

The militants said they attacked a police outpost in the town of Draa ben Khedda, about 70 miles (115 kilometers) east of the capital.

Full Report at:


International Islamic Culinary Festival to be opened in Baku tomorrow

 05 Oct 2009

Baku. Ulkar Gasimova – APA. Baku begins preparation to host International Islamic Culinary Festival within the framework of Baku –Islamic Culture Capital 2009, the National Culinary Centre told APA. The festival will be opened by solemn ceremony at the Baku Sport Palace on October 6. The president of the World Association of Cooks Societies Gissur Gudmundsson, president of the International Organization of Folk Art Carmen Padilla, cooks teams from Belarus, the Philippines, Georgia, Iran, Iceland, Canada, Nigeria, Uzbekistan, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, Greece and other countries arrived in Baku for participation at the festival.

The different competitions will be held among the participating teams until October 10. The participants will also attend a round table “Role of culinary in the society: development prospects”. The winner will be announced on October 9. The International Islamic Culinary Festival is organized by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan.


Terrorism: Obama 'a criminal like Bush' says Al-Qaeda no. 2

Dubai, 5 October (AKI) - United States president Barack Obama is deceiving Muslims and committing crimes that violate human rights, just like his predecessor George W. Bush, Al-Qaeda's second-in-command said in a new video message on Monday.

"Barack Obama is tricking us. He is responsible for crimes against human rights, just like Bush," Ayman al-Zawahiri said in a ten-minute video posted to Muslim extremist websites.

The video is dedicated to Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, a Libyan Al-Qaeda militant believed to have died recently in prison in his native Libya. He was handed over Libyan authorities by the US, who bought him from Pakistani tribesmen after he escaped from Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan in 2001.

"Obama, you say you're against the violation of human rights. So I won't ask you what is happening in Bagham prison and what the CIA agents are doing with their renditions (of terror suspects)," al-Zawahiri stated.

"Nor will I ask you about the ban on publishing photographs of torture in Iraq."

"But I do ask you why your government connived with the Libyan regime in the killing of Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi."

"He was killed during your presidency," al-Zawahiri said.

"All he did was to resist the US occupation of Afghanistan," al-Zawahiri added, urging Obama to apologise and to compensate al-Sheikh al-Libi's family.

Before being tortured to death in a Libyan prison, al-Sheikh al-Libi was tortured in jail in Egypt into falsely confessing links beween al-Qaeda and late Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein, al-Zawahiri alleged.

Full Report at:


It's Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran Time

By Pepe Escobar

October 03, 2009 "Asia Times" -- The United States and Western "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" crowd - hysteria running at fever pitch ahead of Thursday's multilateral nuclear talks in Geneva - could do worse than have a word with Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.

Lula actually talked to Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad face-to-face for over an hour on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly last week. He invited Ahmadinejad to visit Brazil in November. About the meeting, he went straight to the point, "What I wish for Iran is what I always wanted for Brazil - a peaceful, civilian nuclear program."

Lula is an island of common sense in an ocean of hysteria. French President Nicolas Sarkozy publicly gave a December deadline for Iran not to make a "tragic mistake", as in provoking Armageddon. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini reiterated the Group of Eight was giving Iran only three more months.

United States President Barack Obama - now running three wars (Iraq and the AfPak combo) - demanded that Iran (which is not at war with anybody) demonstrate "its peaceful intentions or be held accountable to international standards and international law".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu announced to the UN, "the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fundamentalism and the weapons of mass destruction". Impervious to irony, Netanyahu obviously forgot that Iran - like Iraq in 2003 - has no weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Israel not only has WMDs, but still refuses to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or allow its weapons to be inspected, as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rushed to clarify. As for religious fundamentalism, Zionism is more than a match to Iran's Shi'itism.

As if this was not hysteria enough, leaks in Britain revealed that the head of M-I6 Sir John Scarlett and the head of Mossad Meir Dagan may have established that Saudi Arabia is ready to allow Israel to bomb Iran. The House of Saud remained mute. But not the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) - which de facto controls Iran's missile program. They successfully tested long-range Shahab-3 and Sajjil solid-fuel missiles with a maximum range of 2,000 kilometers. Ergo, even more hysteria.

 Full Report at:


Makkah to host international X-Ray conference

6 October 2009

MAKKAH: Makkah is to host the first X-Ray International Conference from Oct. 12 to 14. The conference has been organized by the Medical Affairs Department in the Makkah governorate and the X-Ray Scientific Council of Makkah governorate, said Dr. Khalid Dafar the general manager of the Medical Affairs department in the Makkah governorate.


Abbas cabinet says will confront Israel

6 October 2009

The Western-backed Palestinian government pledged on Monday “to confront Israel” as Israeli troops clashed with protesters for a second day in the Jerusalem area.

Youths hurled rocks at policemen and burned cardboard cartons and trash in the streets of Shuafat outside Arab East Jerusalem, after Israel arrested a teenager it suspects stabbed and wounded a soldier conducting a security check on a bus.

The violence spread to the outskirts of Ramallah, where about 50 Palestinian teenagers took cover behind trucks and cars while hurling rocks at Israeli soldiers, who reporters saw responding by firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

One policeman was injured by a rock, seven protesters were arrested and a few were treated for gas inhalation. Nine Palestinians and two Israeli policemen sustained minor injuries in scuffles that erupted in Jerusalem on Sunday, and 30 were hurt in similar clashes a week ago.

Palestinians have warned that the tensions flaring over access to a holy compound housing the al-Aqsa mosque, an area also revered by Jews as the site of an ancient temple, could, on the background of stalled peace talks, ignite a third uprising.

Issuing a strong statement after a meeting in the West Bank town of Ramallah, the Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas, that is led by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, said it would “confront Israel and its plan.”

It accused the Jewish state of seeking to deny Palestinians a goal of achieving statehood in land Israel captured in a 1967 war.

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Af-Pak border is 'modern epicentre' of jihad: Gates

PTI 6 October 2009

WASHINGTON: Strongly opposing any move to withdraw the US troops, Defence Secretary Robert Gates today said that such a decision would allow al-Qaida to gain a foothold in Afghanistan and described the tribal region between Af-Pak border as the "modern epicentre" of jihad.

Any withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, before the mission to defeat al-Qaida and the Taliban is achieved, would bolster the Islamic radical movement in other parts of the globe, Gates said in an interview with CNN before an audience at George Washington University.

The Afghan-Pakistan border "is the modern epicentre of jihad," he said.

Gates remarks come as the Obama administration as reviewing its new Af-Pak policy and demands by the Generals for inducting more forces into Afghanistan. An equally strong lobby in Washington is opposing the move to send more troops.

The defence secretary said the terrorists groups are aiming to deal the same fate to the US forces like that of the Russians, referring to the Soviet defeat in the 1980s at the hands of Islamist fighters.

"It's a hugely empowering message... should they be successful," Gates said of the desire of the Taliban to take back Afghanistan.


Afghanistan’s Sima Samar Contending for Nobel Peace Prize

By Meera Bhatia

Oct. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Colombia Senator Piedad Cordoba and Afghanistan’s Sima Samar, two women promoting peace and human rights in conflict zones, are among the top contenders for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo said.

There are a record 205 nominees for the 10 million-krona ($1.4 million) prize, which women rarely win, set to be announced by the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Oct. 9. U.S. scientists Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider and Jack Szostak were awarded the Nobel medicine prize today, the first of six prizes to be announced through Oct. 12.

Cordoba, 54, “is the most likely candidate,” said Kristian Berg Harpviken, head of the institute which each year lists potential winners. “She has been able to carve out an independent space for herself in a conflict that’s very protracted. Samar certainly has a very strong personality and played a major role in the Afghan context.”

The prize, along with other honors for literature, physics, medicine and chemistry, was created by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel in his will and first awarded in 1901. Finland’s Martti Ahtisaari won last year and past laureates include Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Theresa. Kenya’s Wangari Maathai was the most recent female winner in 2004.

Samar, 52, head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, is the institute’s third pick after interfaith advocate and Jordanian royal family member Ghazi bin Muhammad, a professor of Philosophy of Islamic Faith at Jordan University. Samar and Cordoba are favored at bookmaker Paddy Power Plc at 4/1 and 6/1, respectively. Bin Muhammad is at 7/1.

FARC Guerilla

Cordoba, a senator for the opposition Liberal Party, leads Colombians for Peace, an initiative for a negotiated solution to the conflict between the government and the FARC guerilla, which was founded in 1964 as a peasant-based, Marxist group. FARC, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has taken a battering since 2002 when President Alvaro Uribe took office and its ranks of jungle fighters and urban rebels have been whittled in half as his military offensive, hunger and disillusionment encouraged as many as 11,200 members to desert.

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Pakistan's refugees are pawns in the Taliban's game

Basim Usmani

The bombing of an Islamabad UN aid base points to militants aiming to starve the displaced and cut off support for the army

Today a suicide bomber blew himself up in the first floor of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) headquarters in Islamabad. At least four others were killed by the blast, including one UN WFP worker from Iraq who had arrived only a day earlier. Several others sustained injuries.

The headquarters are located in Sector F, a heavily guarded area that houses both the WFP and the Electric Supply Company's building. Pakistan's interior minister Rehman Malik announced the bomber was able to access the WFP building by asking to use the bathroom. This is spit in the face of all the police barriers propped up in the nation's capital. As a result, currently all UN offices in the country are closed.

This is confirming our worst fears. Last June an attack on a five-star hotel in Peshawar lead to a nationwide suspension of UN humanitarian efforts. The suspension was catastrophic at a time when millions of Pakistanis displaced by the military operations in Swat were living in tents and relying heavily on private and foreign assistance to survive. The number of Pakistanis displaced has only grown, and the attack on the WFP today confirms that depriving these camps of food is part of the agenda of Taliban militants.

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Taliban insurgency

By Michael Rass

Eight American soldiers and two Afghan troops have been killed in the deadliest attack on coalition troops for more than a year, officials say. The battle happened in Nuristan province in the remote east of the country when military outposts were attacked, a NATO statement said. The Taliban said it carried out the attack. Reports say local officials including a police chief were captured. Violence has escalated in the east as insurgents relocate from the south.

McChrystal150On Oct 1, the top American commander in Afghanistan said that coalition forces there are going to have to adopt a “dramatically different” strategy to ensure success. In his first speech since submitting a report calling for more troops, US Army General Stanley McChrystal also said the operation had been “under-resourced”. The success of the military operation could not be taken for granted in the face of a growing insurgency, he said.

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KAUST symbol of loyalty: King

P.K. Abdul Ghafour

JEDDAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah on Friday described King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal as a symbol of loyalty to his father King Abdul Aziz, the founder of Saudi Arabia.

“I am extremely happy over the inauguration of KAUST on the Kingdom’s National Day when we remember the struggle and resolve of the founder of our modern state,” the king said in a reply cable to Crown Prince Sultan, deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation.

“This university is an appropriate symbol of our loyalty and allegiance to the unifier of our country who had dedicated his life in the way of God,” the king said. “We present this university as one of the fruits of his efforts as a cultural, humanitarian and scientific landmark.”

King Abdullah opened KAUST, a world-class research university, on Wednesday in the presence of several heads of state, global business leaders, Nobel laureates and celebrated academics.

“We have received your cable expressing your noble feelings on the opening of KAUST,” the king told Prince Sultan, who is currently recuperating in the Moroccan city of Agadir following a successful surgical operation.

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