New Age Islam
Thu Nov 26 2020, 06:29 PM

Islamic World News ( 7 Nov 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Islam not responsible’ for shooting, says US imam

Classmate: Hasan said terror fight a war on Islam

American Muslim teens face a daily struggle in defining their identity

Muslims at Fort Voice Outrage and Ask Questions

Midstate Muslim Community Reacts to Ft. Hood Attack - Erika Kurre

Fear: The Media and Islam

Islamic Jihad, not George Bush, is responsible for the Fort Hood tragedy

Uighurs seek a passage to India

10,000 Indonesian Bibles Seized in Malaysia for Using the Word ‘Allah’

Turkey downgrades ties with Israel and the West, forms better links with Muslim neighbours

Fear: The Media and Islam

NATO soldiers missing in Afghanistan are American: ISAF

UN will continue work in Afghanistan despite difficulties: Ban Ki-moon

Tokyo urged to finance training for Afghan troops

24 Taliban killed, Baitullah Mehsud’s house demolished in Makeen

450 militants killed in Pak fighting: Army

High court orders protection to runaway Hindu-Muslim couple

Students wear saffron clothes to oppose burqa

Segregation in mosques – the woes of being a woman

‘Pak released Jundallah leader before Iran blast’

‘Iran tested advanced nuke warhead’

Egyptian Muslims try to ban sexy Beyoncé's 'nudity concert'

Three held in Bangladesh for plotting attack on US

Bangladesh police say Islamists target U.S. interests

Pakistan’s fisheries officials released by Iran

Should expat women wear shaylas (burqas)?

Photographic challenge for Muslim women

Pakistanis blame ‘foreign powers’ for deadly Peshawar blast

In Malaysia, defection may lead to divorce

Muslim scholar draws sell-out crowd

Canadians linked to slain imam out on bail

Ex-military chiefs attack Brown's Afghan resolve

Anticipating landscape changing of Muslims

Hadi reiterates PAS remains in Pakatan

US defence official forecasts foreign troop increase in Afghanistan 

Egypt's new ambassador is expected in Baghdad

Anticipating landscape changing of Muslims

Flu threat looms as Mecca readies for pilgrims

Inoculation for Muslim pilgrims

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL of this Page:http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/islam-not-responsible’-for-shooting,-says-us-imam/d/2065

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Islam not responsible’ for shooting, says US imam

Saturday, 07 Nov, 2009

SILVER SPRING (Maryland), Nov 6: Islam is ‘not responsible’ for the bloodbath at an army base in Texas where Muslim-American army Major Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly gunned down 13 people, the prayer leader at the mosque where the officer regularly worshipped said on Friday.

“We offer our condolences and prayers to the families that have a person who died,” said Imam Mohammed Abdullahi over loud-speakers that carried the weekly Muslim prayer to several hundred worshippers gathered at the mosque.

“Islam is not responsible,” he stressed.

Many of the worshippers who had come to the mosque in this suburb of Washington knew Hasan or had seen him at Friday prayer, which he attended regularly when he lived in the Washington area.

To them, the news that he had allegedly opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon and a handgun in a crowded troop processing centre on the sprawling Fort Hood base in Texas, mowing down 13 people and wounding 30 others, came as a shock.

“Islam doesn’t command anybody to do something like that,” said Shaikh Khamis, who has prayed at the Silver Spring Muslim Community Centre mosque for 11 years.

“It’s very sad, a big tragedy for everybody,” said another worshipper, Ibrahim Gayi.

“We pray for everybody, all Americans, not only Muslims,” he said.

Asif Qadri, head of the medical clinic at the Muslim Community Centre, described Hasan, an army major, as “very gentlemanly.

“He was sociable, likeable. We had regular, casual conversation — he didn’t manifest any particular view either way,” Qadri said.

“When I saw him on television, I couldn’t believe my eyes,” he added.

It was “unbelievable”, said Qadri, that the man who news reports said went on a deadly rampage on Thursday was the soft-spoken psychiatrist who prayed at the mosque nearly every week.—AFP

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/international/islam-not-responsible-for-shooting%2C-says-us-imam-719

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American Muslim teens face a daily struggle in defining their identity

By Shahla Khan

Being Muslim does not protect one from the ills of society, and discrimination is not the only problem Muslim teens in the U.S. are facing.

The clock on the wall of Kaplan Test-Prep Centre in Austin, Texas points to 6:30; ten minutes left until the time for Asr (afternoon prayer) ends. Sixteen-year-old Amir Glances at his wrist watch, worried that his SAT preparation class won’t end in time. He knows he should probably leave the session early so he doesn’t miss prayer, but the thought of getting up in front of everyone and leaving the room makes him nervous. "What will they think of me," he wonders anxiously. He decides to stay and misses the prayer.

Meanwhile, at a movie theatre in downtown Los Angeles, 17-year-old Khadeeja waits at a parking lot to meet up with some friends for pizza. Her cell phone rings; it’s her mother. Khadeeja’s boyfriend’s car approaches from around the corner; she looks frantically at her ringing phone again and presses ignore. She takes the front seat next to Brad and recites a short prayer to herself, hoping her mother doesn’t call again while she is with him.

Across the country in Queens, N.Y., 15-year-old Bilal walks out of a movie theatre with his older cousin Hussain and his friend Sam. hey get into the three D’s.

Being Muslim does not protect one from the ills of society, and discrimination is not the only problem Muslim teens in the U.S. are facing.

Harmful trends are arising within the Muslim teen population itself, some of which are issues not usually discussed at the dinner table, nor at Sunday school of at mosque youth group meetings.

The three D’s — dating, drinking, and drugs — are not uncommon phenomena and are becoming more prevalent as we embark upon a new era in the American Muslim experience.

Dating, alcohol, drugs, and even sex outside of marriage are becoming common place nowadays among all teens, and though Islam places strong emphasis on avoiding these matters, young Muslims are following the trend as well.

"Dating, I think, is probably one of the most prevalent issues when it comes to Muslim teens," says Imam Tahir Anwar, director of Religious Services at the South Bay Islamic Association in San Jose, Calif. "Drugs are the next biggest issue and alcohol after that. Kids are just doing it to look cool because everyone else is doing it. The sad part is, not only are these things un-Islamic, they’re not really accepted by society in general. I don’t necessarily think they are ‘hard-pushers,’ just kids who have been influenced in the wrong way. They need the right guidance — at home, from good role models, and especially from the community."

Anwar, who is also an Islamic Studies teacher at Granada Islamic School in nearby Santa Clara, feels that high school is the critical period for most Muslim teens, in terms of developing their identities and characters.

"High school is the make-it or break-it age," he said. "Some kids develop a strong sense of realization and deen-consciousness while others go astray. It’s important that teenagers realize the impact of the decisions they make during this time — the friends they choose, the activities they go to — these habits stay with them throughout college when they’re on their own and begin to discover themselves fully and craft themselves into the individuals they want to be for the rest of their lives."

Anwar feels that community involvement is essential when it comes to educating both teens and families about the "taboos" plaguing the Muslim youth.

"One of the main reasons why support systems don’t exist for teens is because many people don’t even know these issues exist," said Anwar. "Parents are especially in denial; they never want to believe that it’s actually happening to their child. This can be very detrimental in getting the teen help."

Getting past the parental units

Though many parents may fear that Western cultural norms may in fact take over the lives of their children altogether, teens on the other hand feel that assimilation is inevitable and may in fact add to their overall personality development.

"I think it’s important to be just as involved in American culture as it is Islam," says 15-year-old Sara Shaikh* of Lancaster, Calif. "I try my best to keep up to date with the latest fashions in clothes and music because I think it’s important as Muslims to be well aware of the world we live in so other people can identify with us."

For many parents, however, the concern is not where or how to assimilate, but rather to assimilate at all.

"As a parent, it’s scary to let my teenage son and daughter hang out with friends sometimes," said Khalid Abdul-Rahman* of Inglewood, Calif. "I know that they deserve a right to socialize and be active participants in society, however even if they are not the one’s making the bad decision, they can easily fall into a pit based on the negative influences around them. Assimilation can gear our kids away from Islam and its teachings."

Others parents, however, feel that balance is the key and assimilation is alright, as long as certain boundaries are not overstepped.

"In America, there is sort of a double standard, which is why so many kids get confused about what they need to do, what is right, and where they belong," said Sara’s mother, Lubna.* "I raised my children with a balance of both worlds; going to any one extreme is not healthy, in my opinion, for a proper upbringing in this time period. Of course, I don’t like her skinny jeans or the fact that she listens to her rock music for long periods of time, but even though I may tell her to stop once in a while, I don’t want to pressure her because I see her doing good things as well, like performing her salah (daily prayers), going to halaqas, getting good grades, and being respectful to her peers. I feel like over time, she will come to be the best Muslimah on her own."

Shaikh isn’t the only parent who feels that pressure from parental units can be debilitating.

"One of the problems that many parents and teens are facing is a lack of engagement," said renowned nasheed artist Zain Bhikha of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Bhikha, a father of four, feels that parents should take an active role in getting to know the likes and dislikes of their kids, before setting standards that they may not be able to reach.

"For example, there is the issue about music; if my son comes up to me and says he likes a certain song, and I say ‘No don’t listen to this, it’s haraam (forbidden),’ I am really shutting the door," he said. "But if I engage him and really talk to him about it and equip him with a methodology with how to deal with it, he will be much better off. Kids are facing these challenges every day, not just in choice of music, but in many different situations, and they will be exposed to these things no matter what. I’d rather parents give the right advice to their kids rather than kids getting the advice from somewhere else. Hopefully we can put so much in their mind that they will begin to make their own right decisions."

Peer pressure

It is safe to say that societal norms have a substantial effect on the decisions many teens make on a daily basis.

The influence of peers can have both positive and negative outcomes, and the "right or wrongness" about a certain decision is only as good or bad as it seems to be in the eyes of others.

"It’s tough to say no to your friends when they are going out in mixed gatherings, or to answer people when they ask me about my religion," said 16-year-old Basil Ibrahim* of Orange County, Calif. "Sometimes, I do feel embarrassed to be Muslim just because of all the bad things people will think about me. I’m afraid to lose my friends, so I will act like them to fit in. But later, I feel bad about the decisions I made because I know that it’s probably not what God wanted me to do."

Teens face several areas of peer pressure; pressure to do well in school, pressure to be the perfect Muslim, even pressure towards taking a first sip of alcohol.

It may be that many youth are unaware of the extremity of the ills around them and are simply choosing the easiest path for a certain situation.

"I’ve learned that Muslim youth are no different than the general public youth. They are prone to make the same mistakes other people do," said Munir Iqtish of the Muslim American Society Bay Area Chapter. "Just being a Muslim doesn’t make someone immune to their surroundings. Sometimes people may say, ‘Oh how can you have a girlfriend, you are a Muslim,’ or ‘Why does he drink, he is a Muslim.’ People don’t realize that sometimes, that’s just the nature of things or our society."

As a well-known speaker of MAS and with ten years of experience working as a youth mentor and counselor, Iqtish, has become a role model for Muslim youth throughout California.

Through his active participation in northern California Islamic Centers, college campuses, and youth study circles, Iqtish is often recognized for offering outstanding guidance while tackling tough issues facing teens and parents today.

"It’s important to remember that no matter how big a problem the youth are involved in, whether it be sexual relations, drugs, alcohol, never judge them because of their mistakes," said Iqtish. "Always have open arms and try to work on their problems with them. Help them put their past behind them and look at ways we can help them move forward."

Seeking the right path

Peer support is a fundamental necessity for every Muslim teen. It is easy to become part of a crowd so one can be accepted; taking a stand, on the other hand, requires individuality and stamina, which can be bolstered by the right group of friends.

Organizations such as Muslim Student Association, Muslim Youth of North America, Muslim American Society Youth and local youth groups can harbor excellent social environments for teens to interact with others they can identify with in a positive way.

Community members can also work together to organize outdoor camps, volunteer activities, community potlucks, youth hikes, Islamic lectures and social events that can provide the social interaction that teens desire while solidifying the educational framework needed towards building stronger intellectual, physical, and spiritual personalities.

"Allah has put them in a position that perhaps no one else is in," notes Sheema Khan, former advisor for MYNA in eastern Canada. "They have the means to communicate with their peers, they have an understanding of what they’re going through, plus they have the guidance of Islam."

Khan and Anwar agree that perhaps the best support system for Muslim teens in America is, in fact, Muslim teens themselves; being amongst other youth who are positive role models, whom they can identify with and can share experiences with is perhaps an ideal way to promote confidence, develop optimistic behaviors, and improve self-esteem.

"My advice to teens is to make the right decisions; if you see your friends doing these things, encourage them early on and help them out," said Anwar. "You are old enough to make decisions for yourself, so it’s in your best interest to choose the right friends, follow the right path, and help each other out."

Names have been changed to protect privacy.

http://www.infocusnews.net/content/view/39926/135/

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Classmate: Hasan said terror fight a war on Islam

Nov 6 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - A classmate of the Fort Hood shooting suspect says Maj. Nidal Hasan was an outspoken opponent of the U.S. war on terror and called it a "war against Islam."

Dr. Val Finnell was a classmate of Hasan's at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. Both attended a master's in public health program in 2007 and 2008.

Finnell says he got to know Hasan in an environmental health class. At the end of the class, students gave presentations. Finnell says other classmates wrote on subjects such as dry cleaning chemicals and mold in homes, but Hasan's topic was whether the war against terror was "a war against Islam." Finnell described Hasan as a "vociferous opponent" of the terror war.

Finnell says Hasan told classmates he was "a Muslim first and an American second."

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9BQ862G0&show_article=1&catnum=0

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Muslims at Fort Voice Outrage and Ask Questions

By MICHAEL MOSS

November 6, 2009

KILLEEN, Tex. — Leaders of the vibrant Muslim community here expressed outrage on Friday at the shooting rampage being laid to one of their members, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who had become a regular attendee of prayers at the local mosque.

But some of the men who had befriended Major Hasan at the mosque said the military should examine the policies that might have caused him to snap.

“When a white guy shoots up a post office, they call that going postal,” said Victor Benjamin II, 30, a former member of the Army. “But when a Muslim does it, they call it jihad.

“Ultimately it was Brother Nidal’s doing, but the command should be held accountable,” Mr. Benjamin said. “G.I.’s are like any equipment in the Army. When it breaks, those who were in charge of keeping it fit should be held responsible for it.”

The mosque, the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen, sits off Highway 195, near Fort Hood. Major Hasan began attending prayers about two months ago.

The mosque has about 75 families who have lived peacefully with their Christian neighbours.

“After 9/11, nothing happened here,” said Ajsaf Khan, who owns three convenience stores with his brother, Abdul Khan. “We are very cooperative.”

A mosque leader, Dr. Manzoor Farooqi, a pediatrician, when asked if he feared retribution for the shootings, said he hoped good relations would prevail.

Major Hasan was one of about 10 men from Fort Hood who attended prayers in their uniforms, Dr. Farooqi said, and he was shocked to see the major’s face on television identified as that of the gunman. “He is an educated man. A psychiatrist,” he said. “I can’t believe he would do such a stupid thing.”

“I have no words to explain what happened yesterday,” Dr. Farooqi said at Friday afternoon prayers, in which about 40 men were led by the mosque’s imam, Syed Ahmed Ali. “Let’s have a moment of silence to bless those who lost their life.”

“The Islamic community strongly condemns this cowardly attack, which was particularly heinous in that it was directed at the all-volunteer army that protects our nation,” Dr. Farooqi said.

Nihad Awad, the national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said, “We reiterate the American Muslim community’s condemnation of this cowardly attack. Right now, we call on all Americans to assist those who are responding to this atrocity. We must ensure that the wounded are treated and the families of those who were murdered have an opportunity to mourn.”

Among those attending Friday prayers at the Killeen mosque was Sgt. Fahad Kamal, 26, an Army medic who wore his Airborne uniform, and later he said he was angered on several levels. “I want to believe it was the individual, and not the religion, that made him do what he did,” said Sergeant Kamal, who returned to the United States last year after a 15-month tour in Afghanistan. “It’s an awful thing. I feel let down. We’re better than this.”

It was Major Hasan, though, who increasingly felt let down by the military, and deeply conflicted by his religion, said those who knew him through the mosque. Duane Reasoner Jr., an 18-year-old substitute teacher whose parents worked at Fort Hood, said Major Hassan was told he would be sent to Afghanistan on Nov. 28, and he did not like it.

“He said he should quit the Army,” Mr. Reasoner said. “In the Koran, you’re not supposed to have alliances with Jews or Christian or others, and if you are killed in the military fighting against Muslims, you will go to hell.”

Mr. Benjamin, who worked as a private contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan after leaving the Army in 2000, said the military should have let Major Hassan resign. “They should take more consideration of the human beings in the uniform,” he said, “rather than simply say, ‘We invested our money in you and need to get our money’s worth.’ ”

Still, Mr. Benjamin added, Major Hassan had overlooked an important, and peaceable, tenet of Islam. “We do have the right to retaliate,” he said, “but he who does not is twice blessed.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/07/us/07muslim.html

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Midstate Muslim Community Reacts to Ft. Hood Attack - Erika Kurre

November 6 2009,

As the military tries to make sense of the massacre, Middle Tennessees Muslim community is fearing a backlash.

Although local leaders here have disowned the alleged shooter, they fear some may not believe Islam is not a religion of violence.

Tonight, they are increasing security at mid state mosques and schools.

An after-school snack is part of this American Muslim family's daily routine, as are the teachings of Islam.

American Muslim mother Aneeqa Arain says, "Even if somebody says something bad, just stop there and don't answer them. Ignore that."

Arain says her religion preaches peace and tolerance.

Violence, like Thursdays shooting at Ft. Hood, is against her religion.

Midstate Muslims say it's unfortunate that the suspect, Army Major Nidal Hasan, belongs to their faith.

Islamic Center of Nashville Amir Arain says, "This has been reiterated throughout the nation that the Muslim community condemns such kind of an act-- what a horrible act, a cowardly act."

With five prayer services during the day, the focus now is to condemn this most recent violence.

Arain says, "The sermon specifically said this was not reflective of the Muslim community. We are peace-loving people, not violent people and this person we completely disown and is not a representative of the Muslim community here in the United States."

But they fear some Americans won't understand that and are worried about violence directed at American Muslims.

This is one of 4 mosques in Nashville-- all with heightened security, serving thousands of Muslims living in the midstate.

There are about 20,000 American Muslims living in and around Nashville.

They say local Muslims were targeted after the 9/11 attacks.

Amir says, "There was some stone-pelting, our sign was stone-pelted and certain glasses were broken in another mosque here and some people behaved really rudely by some passerby's."

They're using security cameras and have requested extra police patrols around their mosques and schools.

This, while heartbroken to know someone of their faith is capable of such violence.

Aneeqa says, "Even the kids saw the news and they're upset too."

Amir says, "We express our deep condolences to the family of the deceased and wounded and we pray for them and for the wounded, we pray for their speedy recovery."

Arain says American Muslims do not plan to isolate themselves after this massacre.

They hope to be proactive and reach out to educate others about their faith.Midstate Muslim Community Reacts to Ft. Hood Attack - Erika Kurre

http://www.wztv.com/newsroom/top_stories/wztv_vid_1909.shtml

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Fear: The Media and Islam

November 6, 2009

Sounding more like the profile of someone with dating problems than a Jihadist, the AP takes pains to not directly associate yesterday’s shootings directly with Islam.

Political correctness abounds in media reports about yesterday’s attacks.  Some news outlets, like NPR, fully explored Mr. Hasan’s relationship with Islam, before talking about “combat stress.”   Many others, including President Obama, seemed to downplay or ignore the issue. President Obama said today,  “We don’t know all the answers yet. And I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts.” The Imam at Mr. Hasan’s former mosque said flatly, “Islam is not responsible,” for the attack.

A girl prays at Nidal Hasan's former Mosque in Maryland.

Witnesses claim that Mr. Hasan yelled “Allahu Akbar!” – or “God is great!” in Arabic before he began shooting up the Soldier’s Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood yesterday.  A former classmate, Dr. Val Finnell, stated that Mr. Hasan claimed to be “a Muslim first, American second.”  

All of this begs the question: At what point does the media begin to label acts of violence by Muslims with Islam?  Should they?

It can be argued that a climate of overt political correctness led to the Army missing, or refusing to act, on some troubling signs Mr. Hasan displayed to classmates and others.  Reports have surfaced that Mr. Hasan posted about justification for suicide bombings on the internet, outwardly argued with other officers about U.S. Policy in the Middle East, and required counseling for “difficulties” with his job at Walter Reed.  No word on what those “difficulties” are said to be.  If they were about U.S. policy, the Army missed a cue that could have possibly saved lives.  Mr. Hasan was said to have believed that the “war on terror” was a “war on Islam.”  If the AP was able to dig up those quotes and others about Mr. Hasan’s alleged anger at U.S. policy in the Middle East, nary 12 hours after the attack on Fort Hood, why didn’t the Army know about them earlier?

Muslim groups are right to be terrified of a backlash.  The New York Daily News ran a story today entitled “We’re appalled too by Fort Hood killer Nidal Malik Hasan, so don’t target us: Muslim Groups.“  The fact that Islamic groups are front and center the day after the attack is helpful.  However, quotes like “Such violence is morally reprehensible and has nothing to do with any religion, race, ethnicity or national origin,” by Mary Rose Oakar, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, may fall flat with many Americans who see the evidence as being very much about “religion, race, ethnicity or national origin.”

And meanwhile, the eminent Daniel Pipes, a leading “outer” of Muslim extremism, coined the phrase “Sudden Jihad Syndrome” in 2006, when a  seemingly mild-mannered Iranian immigrant student drove his car into a crowd of students, injuring 9 but killing no one.  Pipes is thus far silent on the Fort Hood incident, though it seems to fit his theory, “whereby normal-appearing Muslims abruptly become violent.”

This article is a companion piece to “Media Begins To Caution Over Islam’s Role in Fort Hood Shootings” which was published at YBH! yesterday.

This entry was posted on November 6, 2009, 6:02 pm and is filed under News and Analysis, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

http://yesbuthowever.com/fear-the-media-and-islam-8136224/

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Islamic Jihad, not George W. Bush, is responsible for the Fort Hood tragedy

November 6, 2009

Watching the coverage of the national tragedy in Fort Hood, one is forced into one of two conclusions regarding the media--either they are absolute idiots or they are politically correct cowards. Either way this nation is in for a world of hurt.

The much-maligned 43rd president of the United States for the most part, rightly understood that America is at war with radical Islam. For some reason, the talking heads in the media and the Obama administration have yet to figure that out.

The media was beside itself yesterday and much of the morning today trying to wonder why this Major would gun down his colleagues in cold blood. Had he been listening to Rush Limbaugh, reading the Bible or attending Bob Jones University, however, the entire media narrative would be about how dangerous, bloodthirsty and radical Christians are. Rachel Maddow would be weeping and shaking in fear. Keith Olbermann would freak out and poop his pants in a fit of anti-Christian rage. The Huffington Post and the Daily Kos would be filled with blogs urging readers to kill their Christian infidel neighbours in order to restore peace to the nation.

Of course, we can’t get so hasty with the “religion of peace.” Sure Islam has been at war with the United States since our very first war on terror conducted by President Thomas Jefferson against the Muslim pirates who spent their time capturing our merchant ships, selling our Christian white folks into slavery, taking our stuff and attempting to blackmail our country, but it isn’t politically correct to say so. (It also doesn’t fit the narrative that only white folks are racist slave-traders.) So ignorant is the American public on our rather bloody history with the radical Islamic “Jihadists” that our very own President, Barack Hussein Obama, spent much of his Cairo speech this spring praising Islam and declaring America “not a Christian nation” but in a way one of “the largest Muslim nations.” Sharia Law here we come!

Of course, in the text of his speech, Mr. Obama praised Tripoli for their Treaty with America dating back to 1796 as a positive contribution to our nation’s history as it was one of the first nations to recognize the new American republic. That was the same treaty that established a mutually agreed upon blackmailing of the United States where President John Adams, not interested in going to war, agreed to pay millions of dollars to the Muslim pirates of Tripoli so that they would leave our folks alone and stop selling us Christian folk into slavery. The honourable adherents to the “religion of peace” in Tripoli signed on the dotted line, collected the fee, and continued their mayhem for years until President Thomas Jefferson chose to stand up to them.

Radical Islam also bombed our embassy in Kenya, the U.S.S. Cole, and the World Trade Centre. That was of course, prior to smashing planes into the side of the World Trade Centre, a field in Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

Of course, so radical is our Jihad-apologist administration, that they probably agree with their former “Green Jobs Czar” (also known as the man White House Top Advisor Valerie Jarrett beamed about “following for some time” and being “thrilled” to recruit for the White House) in the belief that George W. Bush and “them Jews” blew up the World Trade Centre in some conspiracy theory that makes no sense to anyone other than socialist propagandists like Michael Moore.

So, when a mad-man named Nadal Malik Hasan blows some 12 people away and injures some 30 or more while shouting “Allahu Akbar” the media is completely perplexed as to why this America-loving peaceful gem of a man would do such a thing.

Why, to listen to those folks in the mainstream media, you’d have to conclude that it was George W. Bush’s fault that this all went down. It was his evil war in Iraq which the sane and peace-loving Nadal Malik Hasan was going to be headed to. It was this unjust war that sent the rational future recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize into blinding rage.

Sure, let’s ignore blindingly obvious clue number one: he’s a Muslim. Perhaps that’s why the man’s name was under wraps for so long yesterday. Don’t want to let those evil racist hate-monger Americans know that in a shocking twist this terrorist act was committed by a Muslim. Islam, after all, is the “religion of peace.” (Except for their ongoing bloody Jihad against the western world and “them Jews.”)

Sure, there’s the fact that he apparently had a history of going on and on about how Muslims should stand up and “fight the aggressor” and speaking in general Jihadist terms, but that can’t have anything to do with it. He even apparently posted some of his anti-American Jihadist hatred on the internet. That certainly doesn’t mean anything. It must have been stress. The stress caused by that evil madman George W. Bush.

It just has to be that evil war perpetrated on us by the war-mongering George W. Bush that caused him to snap. He’s just a peace-loving anti-war hero. His Islamic Jihadist worldview is completely irrelevant here. Now if he was Christian or pro-life...

Of course, to make his case against violence and war, Allah’s martyr of “peace” gunned down people in cold blood while screaming the name of Allah in terms that are often associated with Jihadists. Still, we can’t really blame Islam can we? We don’t want to offend any Muslims now do we? Isn’t there just some way to spin it that he was a Christian? Surely he meant something more peaceful by shouting “Allah Akbar.” A loving prayer for those being savagely slaughtered, perhaps?

It’s absolutely frightening how long it took the media to realize that--gasp!--his being a Muslim might be behind the attack. As if to convince themselves, they repeated over and over that “we can’t yet know” why this clown did what he did, while hypothesizing that it might be related to his opposition to the war. It never dawned on these hardcore journalists that the reason he was opposed to the war might be that he was rooting for the other side. The Jihadist rants, the Muslim background, none of that even seems relevant to today’s tough-as-nails journalists. So frightened that they might be “racial profiling” the poor chap is our media that they can’t even acknowledge what is painfully obvious to even a five year old.

Perhaps if the Muslims of the world would like to stop being “racially profiled” they could maybe stop being the ones blowing everyone up. If terrorism was committed anywhere in the world right now by anyone other than Muslims, we might be able to throw them a bone and have rational grounds to suspect someone else. So successful is Allah’s crusade to slaughter the infidels, however, that they have completely locked up the terrorism market. (Somewhere a bleeding heart moral relativist liberal is screaming about the atrocities of America and Israel in defending themselves and lamenting the once every thirty years bombing of an abortion clinic.)

Even the president showed an extremely frightening lack of sensitivity to the subject. No doubt trying to minimize the situation while making radical Muslims feel comfortable, our glorious leader promised to address the situation around 5 P.M. Of course, imagine the surprise of viewers who were treated not to solemn words of sympathy and a calm reassurance to the nation, they were treated to a jovial president giving “shout-outs” to some of his guests at a previously scheduled event. After joking around for some time, it finally dawned on the president that maybe to most of America this sort of blood-shed isn’t funny. Imagine if George Bush had done this. Just imagine the wringing of hands and feigning of horror on the part of the media. 

George Bush, you’ll remember, was deemed insensitive and racist (in the words of wise sage Kanye West “George Bush doesn’t care about black people”) because he didn’t have Air Force One drop him into the surging flood waters of Hurricane Katrina the second it hit the coast. President Obama, who still has yet to bother visiting or to even act concerned in the least over this year’s flood victims in Georgia, said through his esteemed spokesman Mr. Gibbs, that his schedule is “so in flux” that he probably won’t get to visit Fort Hood until next week, if at all. (Keep in mind that his schedule’s “flux” did not keep him from visiting New Jersey & Virginia for those “unimportant” elections nearly 10 times in the last month.  If he was able to take that many trips for something that was unimportant, how far below unimportant does the Fort Hood incident fall?)

Of course, given his tone deaf handling of the Fort Hood situation, one can almost see the Obama administration “not wanting to let any crisis go to waste” and pulling out of Afghanistan under the justification that even our troops are against it now, because peace-loving proud American Muslim Nadal Malik Hasan’s only motivation was to stop the blood-thirsty American war machine and not at all a desire to “slaughter infidels” as his precious Mohammed commands.

The sad reality is that America remains at war with a very violent and blood-thirsty radical Islam. The Jihad continues while America sleeps. As sad as the tragedy in Fort Hood is, the lack of clarity regarding the very real threat of radical Islam is equally jarring. Until the west mans up enough to confront the evil of radical Islam, it will remain the losing side of a blood-thirsty war for civilization. It is a war that admittedly isn’t as important as health care for all or cap and trade initiatives that will send utility bills for the average American “through the roof,” but nonetheless one that the president should maybe make some time to consider.

In the meantime, let’s bury our dead, care for our wounded and vow to bring them justice. For though Obama is too busy making jokes to notice, Allah is responsible for the Fort Hood tragedy, not George W. Bush. It’s time for us to pray that those slain in Texas this week will not die in vain and that America’s leaders will finally get it. Our whole way of life depends on it.

http://www.examiner.com/x-19697-Camden-County-Conservative-Examiner~y2009m11d6-Allah-not-George-W-Bush-is-responsible-for-the-Fort-Hood-tragedy#

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Uighurs seek a passage to India

7 November 2009

With Han Chinese flooding Xinjiang — a region struggling with ethnic strife — the demoralized natives seek refuge across the border to escape

the oppression...

When Ibrahim was investing in new computers to upgrade his web business, he could not have imagined being bankrupted by a government-imposed internet blackout after deadly riots between Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese in July.

On July 4th, Ibrahim was buoyant with the hope of tapping into China’s burgeoning online business market, encouraged by the influx of the companies to the oil-rich region. But by the end of that same week Ibrahim knew he had to shut shop.

As Hu Jintao hurried back from the G8 summit in the wake of the most violent riots in decades, Beijing cut Xinjiang’s 20 million residents off from internet in an effort to insulate the province and ease ethnic tension.

"Hundreds of internet businesses are bankrupt, so where is the economic development they talk about? I want to move to India, I don’t want to invest any money here. My friends and I started to research routes (through Leh) to India, but it is policed well in China," he said. "Thousands are disappearing (into prisons) — they weren’t rioting, but they were young and Muslim." he said.

Ibrahim holed himself up in his home after a brutal crackdown on Uighurs paralysed Urumqi following protests on July 5th.

According to the state media, 197 people were killed and 1,721 injured, most of them Han, assaulted by Uighurs. In response, vigilante Han Chinese mobs armed with butcher knives and axes taped to sticks stormed Uighur neighbourhoods seeking vengeance.

Mass arrests of Muslim men followed. Uighur women took to the streets to protest the arrests of "grandfathers and 11-, 12-year-old boys." A Human Rights Watch report published in October confirms that 43 Uighurs are still missing.

Before Ibrahim saw his savings go out with the light on his modem, he could not imagine living anywhere but Kashgar, and encouraged his family to learn Mandarin and become a part of the fabric of greater China.

"When I saw signs that you cannot go to mosque if you are a government employee or a working person, I thought okay, better to focus on business than pray. I thought only (political) troublemakers are punished but I know the innocent people who disappeared. I saw some who came back tortured. I am ashamed to say I am afraid to even help those families."

One such victim was Turghan. When Turghan was finally freed from prison last month, after 12 years of torture, his wife didn’t recognize him. Instead of the husband she remembered, a handicapped, hunchbacked man stood before the family.

His sister-in-law Rahima remembers Turghan as a handsome, popular trader in Gulja’s main market. "His crime was that he was Muslim right after the Gulja uprising of 1997, when Chinese authorities put pressure on local police to find ringleaders," she said.

In February 1997 riots erupted on the streets of Gulja to protest mass arrests of Muslims. Troops stormed Gulja after two days of protests, using teargas and ammunition to disperse the crowds, and arresting so many young men that they had to be detained at the local sports stadium, according to Amnesty International. As the temperature dropped, detainees were hosed with water and several lost fingers and toes to frostbite before they could even be questioned.

Today, the Chinese state media is full of warnings that Xinjiang remains a turbulent, untamed area because of its 5,600-km border with Russia to the north, India to the south, Mongolia to the east and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to the west.

Months after the Urumqi riots, the border city of Kashgar still has troops on alert. Tajik and Khyrgyz traders have gone back to selling silks, blankets and beauty creams in the main Sunday Bazaar but the slow pace of business is punctuated by a column of soldiers marching through at regular intervals.

Michael, a foreigner working in Kashgar is "disgusted" by what he calls counter-productive security measures. "The government says it has no problem with Muslims and then sends 500 soldiers to point guns at Uighurs coming out of Kashgar’s main mosque the day after riots in Urumqi. How can tensions die down?" As he finishes speaking, three trucks full of soldiers in riot gear roll by. Troops point their weapons at passersby as loudspeakers announce: "Don’t do anything (illegal) to hurt national unity.

Driving along the remnants of the fabled silk route from Kashgar to Yarkand to Hotan, as the road cuts effortlessly through majestic mountain passes that dissolve into the sand dunes of the Taklamakan dessert, it is easy to forget the region’s recent upheaval. But the 50,000 soldiers that have flooded towns across Xinjiang serve to remind you that you are being watched and tracked, your identity card and passport numbers duly noted.

According to T P Sreenivasan, former Indian ambassador, "What China is doing in Xinjiang is identical to what they did in Tibet — repressing the minority, giving Han Chinese economic incentives to move there and creating tensions. The point is to destroy the Uighur culture and control the region. India should take note because China has been increasingly aggressive over Arunachal Pradesh. If they can colonize their own minorities to break down the Muslim community, imagine the aggression they are willing to use on outsiders."

David Goodman explains Beijing’s ominous agenda in his article, ‘China’s campaign to open up the West’. "The 1990s (saw) comprehensive measures spurring Han settler colonization, exploitation in the oil-rich Tarim basin; and the building of key transport infrastructure in Southern Xinjiang," under the guise of economic development , and resulting in friction with the indigenous Uighurs. Beijing has relocated entire communities of impoverished Han Chinese in a wave of mass migration that took Xinjiang’s Han population from four per cent in 1949 to 40.6 per cent in 2000 (according to census data).

Ibrahim cannot help feeling frustrated about Hu Jintao’s recent comments about a return to normalcy in the region.

"We want dignity, what is normalcy?" he asks as his friends lapse into Uighur, talking excitedly about reports of Tibetans living in India, free from the fear of persecution, free to speak against the oppression of their people "back home."

"We can do more from India. We thought of Pakistan, but they have returned Uighur refugees to China. India has welcomed Tibetans and we are similar," he reasons before turning back to the heap of coffeestained notes and maps with highlighted routes into India strewn over his keyboard and table.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/Uighurs-seek-a-passage-to-India/articleshow/5206192.cms

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10,000 Indonesian Bibles Seized in Malaysia for Using the Word ‘Allah’

Nov 7 2009

Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysian government has refused to release 10,000 Bibles confiscated for using the word “Allah” to refer to God, a banned translation in Christian texts in the Muslim-majority country, an official said on Wednesday.

An official from the Home Ministry’s publications unit said the government rejected pleas by church officials to allow the Bibles, imported from Indonesia, into the country. Christians say the Muslim Malay-dominated government is violating their right to practice their religion freely.

Such disputes are undermining Malaysia’s reputation as a harmonious multiethnic, moderate Muslim nation. About 30 percent of the country’s 28 million people practice Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism or other faiths.

A Home Ministry official said the government told the importer last month to return the Indonesian-language Bibles, which are currently being held by customs.

“Actually the publications, the Bibles, are already banned,” said the official, refusing to elaborate. He declined to be named because he was not authorized to make public statements.

The Bibles contain the word “Allah,” which is banned by the government for use by non-Muslims in an apparent bid not to offend the country’s majority Muslim population.

Church officials say the Arabic-origin word “Allah” has been used for centuries to refer generally to God in both Indonesian and Malaysian languages, which are similar. The word is even used by Christians in Arabic-speaking countries around the world.

The government, however, maintains that the word “Allah” is an exclusively Islamic word. The Roman Catholic Church is challenging the ban in court.

Another 5,100 Bibles, also imported from Indonesia, were confiscated in March and have not been released. But the ministry official did not immediately have any information on those.

The Christian Federation of Malaysia, which had called for the release of all confiscated Bibles, described the seizure as “ridiculous and offensive.”

“This constitutional right [to practice freely] is rendered illusory if Christians in Malaysia are denied access to Bibles in a language with which they are familiar,” the federation’s chairman, Bishop Ng Moon Hing, said.

He also rejected concerns that Bibles in the Malaysian language, or Bahasa Malaysia, containing “Allah” would upset Muslims.

“Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia have been used since before the independence of our country and have never been the cause of any public disorder,” he said. Malaysia gained independence in 1957.

http://thejakartaglobe.com/home/10000-indonesian-bibles-seized-in-malaysia-for-using-the-word-allah/340002

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Turkey downgrades ties with Israel and the West, and forms better links with Muslim neighbours

by M A Shaikh

November 6, 2009

"Turkey, which applied to join European organisations as long ago as 1958 (more than half a century ago) is still waiting for a result, and is unlikely to be accepted. German and French leaders have admitted recently that this is simply because Turkey is Muslim. The final decision of the EU will be known next month, and it will be in Turkey’s real interests if its application is rejected. This will give Turkey’s people the opportunity to support the Islamic aspirations of its governing party, and help it to work for the unity of Muslims and the improvement of their own organisations."

There is no doubt that relations between Turkey and Israel and the West have been strong. Turkey has military and economic ties with Israel and the US, and is a member of NATO, contributing the second largest army of the organisation. It also continues its efforts to join the European Union, despite the open determination of some members of the EU, such as Germany and France, to exclude it. However, the invasion of Ghazzah and the mass murder of Palestinians by the Israeli army last January have led the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan to downgrade those relations and establish firmer diplomatic and economic relations with Turkey’s Muslim neighbours, including Iran and Syria. This has taken place despite the fact that Iran and Syria are in the West’s bad books, and therefore in Israel’s.

Formerly both Iran and Syria were also in Turkey’s bad books, to the extent of even being engaged in military confrontations with each other. A few years ago, for instance, Turkey massed tens of thousands of troops on its border with Syria because Damascus had been backing the PKK, the Kurdish separatist group. Now the cooperation between the two is such that they have lifted the requirement of visas for travellers to cross their common borders. Another eye-catching development took place earlier this year, when Turkey and Syria held their first joint military exercise: the first between a member-state of NATO and an Arab country. Add to this the fact that Turkey’s trade with Syria is now up 40% from last year.

It is true that both Israel and the West were upset by Turkey’s rapprochement with Damascus, but Ankara has made no effort to be discreet about the new improvement in relations. On the contrary, Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s Foreign Minister often publicises it, as he did on October 13, when he joined his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Moallem, in a ceremony to mark the removal of visa restrictions between their two countries. Of course there is little doubt that Israel and the West are more alarmed about Turkey’s new friendship with Islamic Iran than these improvements between neighbours.

Iran is in principle a strictly Islamic state and shows no readiness to compromise with, or accept, dictation from the West and Israel over issues vital to Muslim countries or interests; this is one of the reasons for which the US and its allies are determined to isolate it. When the official result of Iran’s hotly contested pre-sidential election was announced in June, Turkey was one of the first countries to congratulate Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. This caused dismay in the US, and Europe, making their rulers and media wonder whether Turkey might turn its back on them.

But Western governments were relieved when Tur-key used its links with Tehran to ne-gotiate with it be-hind the scenes, playing a role in the recent release of British embassy staff in the Iranian capital. But Turkey also used its links with the West to bring about the release in June of five Iranian diplomats who had been detained by the Americans in 2007. Turkey also improved its relations with the pro-Western Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, signing economic and trade agreements with them. Ankara has even signed trade relations with Iraq.

The US and Europe know that the fact that Turkey has signed agreements with countries such as Saudi Arabia does not make it more cooperative or restrict its Islamic policies. They are now convinced of this, following Ankara’s condemnation of Israel’s destructive military assault on Ghazzah in January, despite the strategic relations between the two neighbours.

In fact, Turkey was among the first to recognise Israel in 1949 and subsequently developed strong military and economic ties with it, no doubt under pressure from their common ally, the US. Under the military alliance, Turkey received Israeli arms, and the two held joint military exercises. All that became history in January, when Israel assaulted the Palestinians of Ghazzah.

The Turkish state television began to show a drama called Separation which depicted in full the images of Israeli soldiers shooting Palestinian children and women. It is true that the events in the drama were ostensibly fictional, but they drew public attention to Israel’s war crimes in Ghazzah, which were largely ignored by the international community and media. This explains Israel’s strong complaint to the Turkish government and its allies about the drama. Turkey dropped the series as a consequence.

But the drama was not alone in expressing Ankara’s displeasure at the mayhem in Ghazzah as Turkish leaders also widely and loudly displayed their anger. Prime Minister Erdogan, for instance, walked out of a debate in Davos with Israeli President Shimon Peres last January in protest at the attack on Ghazzah, an act which turned him into a hero in Arab countries. And after the government decided on October 12 to exclude Israel from military exercises, Turkish ministers declared that the decision was linked to public anger at Israel’s policies.

On October 16, Foreign Minister Davutoglu stressed that the cabinet’s decision on the Ghazzah issue would remain in place, “Our attitude will be unchanged as long as the tragic events in Ghazzah continue.” Moreover, Turkey’s decision to take an independent line in its foreign policy was confirmed by the prime minister himself. “Turkey is a strong country and takes its own decisions,” he said.

The Turkish leader’s new stands and declarations, particularly on Israel and Israel’s war on Ghazzah, were widely reported and brought to an end the ability of the international community, including the United Nations and the international press and broadcast media, to ignore the genocide being inflicted on the Palestinians. The recent investigation of, and consequent report on, the human-rights violations and crimes in Ghazzah, by Judge Goldstone, would not have been undertaken without the loud and persistent publicity given to the issue. Turkey and its people are entitled to be proud of their role in this development, and of their adoption of an independent foreign policy that can be beneficial to them and other Muslims.

Although Turkey, with a population of 74 million people, is a strong country and can pursue an independent foreign policy, it is no accident that it has been able to do so only under a government and party with Islamic aspirations. Not surprisingly, the only other Muslim state that has adopted an independent foreign policy is also under Islamic rule. Iran insists that it is entitled to develop and use nuclear energy, and has therefore encountered strong resistance from Western powers, which contend in effect that in the Middle East the only country that is allowed to have access to nuclear technology of any sort (energy or military) is Israel. As Israel is known to possess at least 200 nuclear warheads, Iran has exposed Israel’s exemption from criticism of its actions and policies by the so-called international community, including the UN.

The majority of Turkey’s people are ostensibly secular, and still seem to hope that Turkey will eventually achieve membership of the EU. Their belief that this is possible if Turkey becomes “less Islamic” is demonstrably wrong. Turkey, which applied to join European organisations as long ago as 1958 (more than half a century ago) is still waiting for a result, and is unlikely to be accepted. German and French leaders have admitted recently that this is simply because Turkey is Muslim. The final decision of the EU will be known next month, and it will be in Turkey’s real interests if its application is rejected. This will give Turkey’s people the opportunity to support the Islamic aspirations of its governing party, and help it to work for the unity of Muslims and the improvement of their own organisations.

http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/68051

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NATO soldiers missing in Afghanistan are American: ISAF

November 06, 2009

KABUL: Two NATO soldiers who went missing in Afghanistan two days ago are American paratroopers, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said on Friday.

ISAF made no reference to an earlier assertion by Afghan police that the two had died by drowning, apparently accidentally, while doing logistics work in the northwestern province of Badghis.

The missing soldiers are from the Fourth Brigade Combat team of the 82nd Airborne Division, ISAF said in a statement.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=90969

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UN will continue work in Afghanistan despite difficulties: Ban Ki-moon

November 07, 2009

UNITED NATIONS: Roughly 200 UN expatriate staff will be temporarily relocated outside Afghanistan in the wake of a deadly rebel attack on a guesthouse for UN workers, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said here Friday.

"Approximately 200 will relocate to other duty stations in the region," the UN secretary general told reporters after briefing the Security Council on his recent visit to Kabul. "It is not 600 as has been reported by some media," he added. "We are not evacuating. We will not, cannot and must not be deterred. Our work will continue. Our colleagues will have to manage temporarily with less administrative support."

Earlier this week, Ban held talks with security advisors in Kabul after Taliban suicide gunmen stormed a Kabul hostel on October 28 in a dawn attack that killed five UN workers.

The UN has about 5,600 employees in Afghanistan, about 80 percent of whom are Afghans, and the relocations will affect around 12 percent of the total deployment.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=90985

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Tokyo urged to finance training for Afghan troops

November 07, 2009

No base deal before Obama’s visit: Japan

TOKYO: Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Friday said he does not plan to make a decision on the relocation of a controversial US military base before President Barack Obama visits Tokyo next week.

Hatoyama’s centre-left government, which took power in September, has promised to review a pact under which a new US base would be built on southern Okinawa Island, while Washington has insisted Tokyo stick to the agreement. The issue has clouded ties ahead of Obama’s visit next Thursday and Friday.

“I don’t intend to make a decision before President Obama’s visit,” Hatoyama told a parliamentary committee when asked about the row.

Washington and Tokyo have been close allies in the post-war era, and the United States has about 47,000 troops based in Japan, more than half of them on Okinawa, where their presence has often rankled local residents.

The premier has suggested that a contentious military facility, the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Base, currently located in a crowded urban area, may have to be moved off Okinawa altogether, or even out of Japan.

Hatoyama’s government has stressed that, while it values the US-Japan security alliance, it wants less subservient relations than those under conservative governments that ruled Japan for over half a century.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said a review of the bases pact was necessary “after the first genuine change of government in Japan in 50 years,” and that “we have to give consideration to the will of the people of Okinawa.”

The premier has also said his government would end a naval refuelling mission now backing the Nato-led Afghanistan campaign when its mandate expires in January, but that Tokyo would instead boost its aid to the war-torn country.

When Obama visits next week, Hatoyama said, “I want to have active talks on issues such as Afghanistan. I’m convinced that his (Obama’s) visit to Japan will surely be meaningful,” he said in parliament. “With limited financial resources, we have to examine what Japan can do for Afghanistan. And I hope that Japan’s activities will be welcomed more by the

Afghan people than the refuelling mission,” Hatoyama said.

He said Japan would help “in the areas of agriculture... job training for fighters from insurgent groups, so that the fighters can make a living if they lay down their weapons, and training of police officers.”

Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in an interview with the Yomiuri daily Friday, said he understood that officially pacifist Japan could not send combat troops but called on Tokyo to finance training for Afghan military and police.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=207228

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24 terrorists killed: Troops enter Baitullah’s hometown

By Iftikhar A. Khan

Saturday, 07 Nov, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Nov 6: Troops combating militants in South Waziristan maintained their advance on Friday and moved into the hometown of the late Taliban chief, Baitullah Mehsud, and blew up his house.

The town of Makin was one of the main bastions of terrorists in the region.

A security official told Dawn that the success achieved so far had brought troops closer to completion of the first phase of the operation.

He said the link-up of forces in Laddah and Makin would be followed by a major search and clearance operation.

He said a large part of Makin town had been cleared, adding that an important road and junctions of Makin-Laddah-Sararogha and Makin-Ghariom-Sararogha had been blocked.

He also said that fierce clashes had taken place and the Taliban were fleeing, leaving behind weapons and ammunition.

According to ISPR, 24 terrorists were killed and one was captured on Thursday and Friday.

Security forces are consolidating and strengthening their positions around Sararogha and the Shakai– Kaniguram axis around Laddah.

In Bangai Khel, Totai Langar Khel and Kot Langar Khel, large quantities of arms and ammunition were seized and a suspect taken into custody.

About relief activities, the ISPR statement said that medical camps run by the army in Wana and Shakai were providing free treatment to local people from Monday to Friday.

It said that 7,922 cash cards had been distributed among the displaced families of Waziristan.

Our Kohat Correspondent adds: A security official was killed when militants attacked a checkpost near the Tora Warai fort in Hangu district on Friday night.

Troops returned fire with artillery but there was no report of casualty on militants’ side. The exchange of fire continued for hours.

Troops had killed four militants when the same checkpost was attacked a few days ago.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/24-terrorists-killed-troops-enter-baitullahs-hometown-719

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450 militants killed in Pak fighting: Army

Rezaul H Laskar

November 07, 2009

The army’s offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan is moving along ahead of schedule as security forces have killed around 450 militants and captured several key rebel bases, chief military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said on Friday.

Operation Rah-e-Nijat (Path to Salvation) is “going well ahead of time and the terrorists are on the run”, Abbas said.

Sararogha, once seen as the operational base of the Taliban, has been cleared and troops had entered Makeen, another important headquarters of the militants, he said.

Around 450 militants have been killed and many others arrested while 42 soldiers, including officers, had lost their lives, Abbas said in an interview with Radio Pakistan.

Another 142 soldiers had been injured. “Most importantly, we are enjoying not only the support of the masses but that of the tribes as well. Our real target is to free the Mehsud tribe from the claws of the terrorist organisation so that they can lead their lives according to their customs,” Abbas said.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/450-militants-killed-in-Pak-fighting-Army/H1-Article1-473594.aspx

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High court orders protection to runaway Hindu-Muslim couple

Shibu Thomas

7 November 2009

MUMBAI: A couple from different communities, who got married despite opposition from parents, found refuge in the Bombay high court on Friday.

A Pune-based Kashmiri, Sabeena Langoo (22), had moved the high court seeking protection against alleged threats from her kin following her marriage to Ravi Tiwari from Bihar, prompting a division bench of Justices J N Patel and Amjad Sayed to direct the Saki Naka police to provide security to the couple.

Sabeena, a resident of Koregaon Park but originally from a Kashmiri Muslim family, met Ravi (26) when he went to Pune to pursue his MBA and fell in love. Sabeena, brought up in a strict Muslim household, inevitably faced opposition from her parents.

Matters reached a head earlier this year, when Sabeenas parents took her to their native place to get her married, Sabeena said in her petition. She escaped from her house in Kashmir and got married to Ravi in a temple in Khar (W) on October 8 in accordance with Vedic rites. Sabeena also converted to Hinduism and changed her name to Anusha.

The couple then found a place in the city, but Sabeenas family traced Ravis ancestral house in Bihar. The Bihar police went to his house and threatened Ravis family to give up Sabeena or face consequences.

Sabeena named her father Gulam Mohammad and her brother Altaf for threatening her-in-laws. She also expressed fears that they might forcibly marry her off to another person.

Sabeena and Ravi told the court that they were both adults and wished to live with each other. Ravi also told the court that they were planning to have a court marriage. The court, providing relief to the couple, was in line with a 2006 SC judgement which had come to the aid of inter-caste or inter-religious couples. The SC had asked police to not to take action against couples that marry against family wishes. This is a free and democratic country and, once a person becomes a major, he or she can marry whosoever he or she likes. Even if the parents of the boy or girl do not approve of an inter-caste or inter-religious marriage, they cannot give threats or commit or instigate acts of violence and cannot harass the person who opts for inter-caste or inter-religious marriage, the SC had ruled.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/High-court-orders-protection-to-runaway-Hindu-Muslim-couple/articleshow/5204888.cms

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Students wear saffron clothes to oppose burqa

6 November 2009

KARWAR: The ongoing burqa row in the Government Degree College at Bhatkal took a new turn on Friday, when many students attended classes wearing

saffron shawls and lungis. Earlier, student organizations and representatives had opposed girl students attending classes wearing the burqa.

When the controversy threatened to blow over, the college principal informed the police and convened a meeting attended by local MLA J D Naik.

Naik asked the college authorities to write to the commissioner of colleges and take his opinion to make uniforms compulsory in the degree college. But the college authorities had said that there was no rule to make uniform compulsory in the degree colleges. The teachers and the staff members of the college on Friday were surprised to see many students with saffron shawls descending on the campus.

Talking to the media, principal I R Khan said that the students were upset with girls coming to classes in a burqa, and so had come to the college with saffron shawls and lungis. He said he cannot do anything about it till the College Betterment Committee arrived at a decision on the uniform rule. The police arranged a bandobast in the college campus and did not allow any outsiders to enter the college campus.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hubli/Students-wear-saffron-clothes-to-oppose-burqa/articleshow/5204441.cms

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Segregation in mosques – the woes of being a woman

Ruqaya Izzidien

7 November 2009

British Muslim WomanMost women I know have no problem being placed behind the men in a mosque, not because they use the chance to husband-shop, (although I know some women do seize that particular ‘opportunity’) but because it is the more appealing option compared to the alternative. Segregation in mosques often manifests itself as rifling off the women into a back room from where they cannot see the Imam.

For purely practical reasons, this kind of segregation makes little sense. I’ve walked into a mosque halfway through a prayer, with no orientation and no idea whereabouts in the prayer the men are as there are no other women. Just last Eid, the Imam made a mistake – it happens. The problem is, when he corrected himself the men could see what he was doing. The women ended up looking like woodpeckers, not knowing what to do with themselves. There’s a reason that there’s an Imam, you are supposed to follow him. That’s a little challenging if you’re stuck in the outhouse.

Let’s think about it logically. Women are typically supposed to pray behind men because, well … I’m guessing partly because a row of women’s behinds in your face is going to be a bit distracting. This highlights my point. When was it decided that, instead of praying behind the men as historically has been done for centuries, women should be hauled off to a different room where they are lucky if there is a good sound system in place? Even in Mecca, the women aren’t carted off to a different room. I know Mecca is not your average mosque, but if that doesn’t set a precedent then what does?

Sometimes this type of segregation is done for purely practical reasons, particularly here in the UK, where the building is positioned in such a way that the women have to pray adjacent to the men in order to face Mecca. I would suggest that in such cases, instead of building an entire wall, cutting off the women completely, a space should be left so that the women at the front can see the Imam at the very least. Often there are very few women who attend prayers (compared to men) and I can tell you from experience that there is nothing worse than feeling excluded from the Muslim community inside your own mosque.

Segregated events

A similar problem arises when there are Muslim events organized in the UK. Every so often at a university or in a local meeting there might be a talk or study circle or a gathering amongst Muslims where organizers feel compelled to separate the women and men with a partition. Think about it; the more outwardly religious amongst us women wear the hijab. What purpose does this hope to serve? Nobody can deny that one of the primary objectives of the hijab is to deflect any unwanted gazes. So I ask, what is the point in wearing a hijab to these events if organizers put up a makeshift hijab barrier, separating the sexes.

To be frank, surely the point of the hijab is that it enables different members of the Muslim community to mix without fear of someone checking you out? So why risk alienating Muslim women further with a barrier? I understand that it can be a sensitive subject and organizers would rather err on the side of caution, but this is why we need dialogue between Muslim men and women. The irony is that it’s hard to have dialogue with a barrier splitting the room.

Let’s be honest, in the UK, it is not like Muslim men never speak to women or don’t come into contact with them as soon as they leave the mosque. It is impossible to earn a living or get an education without coming into contact with the fairer sex. So let’s not pretend that putting up a barrier will make that much of a difference. Perhaps a barrier is what the majority of the women at any such event would want, in which case it makes complete sense. Unfortunately, in my experience, the decision is usually made for us. Indeed during one Friday prayer I attended, I specifically heard one of the men (via a crackling microphone) saying that they ought not to bother the women by asking their opinion. So I decided not to worry my pretty little head about it.

Open the discussion and work out a solution that pleases everyone. I’m pleased to say that the mosque I just referenced has seen vast improvements in the last few months as a result of inclusion and dialogue. The way to build a strong community is to have input from all people. Otherwise you end up with bitter outcasts complaining about it on the net.

http://bikyamasr.com/?p=5510

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 ‘Pak released Jundallah leader before Iran blast’

QUETTA—The Iranian authorities have released eight officials of the fisheries department, who had mistakenly entered into Iranian waters earlier.

“All eight officials including Inspector Abdul Salam and seven of his subordinates have been released by the Iranian authorities,” official sources told INP on Wednesday.

The government, after receiving reports of the arrest of Pakistan’s fisheries department officials by Iranian authorities, had contacted Tehran for their release.

“All the arrested personnel have been released and have reached homes,” an official who requested not to be named, said.

Official sources said the Pakistani officials were on routine petrol to check illegal fishing, when they mistakenly entered into Iranian territorial waters and were subsequently arrested by Iranian security forces.

A Provincial Government official, who requested anonymity, had earlier told INP that the government has also contacted the Iranian Consulate in Quetta and hoped that the officials would be released soon.

http://dailymailnews.com/1109/05/Brief/Brief5.php

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‘Iran tested advanced nuke warhead’

London, Nov. 6: The U.N. nuclear watchdog has asked Iran to explain evidence suggesting the Islamic Republic’s scientists have experimented with an advanced nuclear warhead design, the Guardian reported in its Friday edition.

The newspaper, citing what it describes as "previously unpublished documentation" from an International Atomic Energy Agency compiled dossier, said Iranian scientists may have tested high-explosive components of a "two-point implosion" device.

The IAEA said in September it has no proof Iran has or once had a covert atomic bomb programme. The IAEA statement in September followed reports from the Associated Press quoting what it called a classified IAEA document saying agency experts agreed Iran now had the means to build atomic bombs and was heading towards developing a missile system able to carry a nuclear warhead.

The Guardian report said that even the existence of two-point implosion nuclear warhead technology is officially secret in both the United States and Britain.

Meanwhile, an unassuming college math student has become an unlikely hero to many in Iran for daring to criticise the country’s most powerful man to his face.

Mahmoud Vahidnia has received an outpouring of support from government opponents for the challenge — unprecedented in a country where insulting Supreme Leader Khamenei is a crime punishable by prison.

Perhaps most surprising, the young math whiz has so far suffered no repercussions from the confrontation at a question-and-answer session between Supreme Leader Khamenei and students at Tehran’s Sharif Technical University.

In fact, Iran’s clerical leadership appears to be touting the incident as a sign of its tolerance — so much so that some Iranians at first believed the 20-minute exchange was staged by the government.

Details of the encounter were reported on the state news agency IRNA and in newspaper, Keyhan, which gave its account with a headline reading, "The revolutionary leader’s fatherly response to critical youth." —Reuters, APs

http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/news/international/%E2%80%98iran-tested-advanced-nuke-warhead%E2%80%99.aspx

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Egyptian Muslims try to ban sexy Beyoncé's 'nudity concert'

November 07, 2009

CAIRO: As Egypt gears for pop diva Beyoncé Knowles's first performance in North Africa, Islamic conservatives are branding her show an "insolent sex party" that threatens the Muslim nation's "social peace and stability".

On giant posters plastered across the Egyptian capital advertising yesterday evening's concert, Beyoncé sports a revealing, flame-covered outfit and grips a set of motorcycle handlebars extending from her hips - a sharp contrast to Cairo's streets, where most women wear traditional Muslim headscarves.

Ads for the show, part of Beyoncé's "I Am..." world tour, have run on Egyptian and Arab satellite TV stations. The tour, which took Beyoncé to the United Arab Emirates last week, had grossed $53.5 million (R406m) as of October, according to Billboard magazine.

But in Egypt, Islamist lawmakers and their supporters have campaigned on social networking websites, accusing the government of encouraging debauchery and calling for the concert to be cancelled.

"Why are you encouraging this insolent sex party?" lawmaker Hamdi Hassan from the opposition Muslim Brotherhood wrote in a letter to the government. "You are accused of disturbing social peace and stability, encouraging vice and debauchery."

Another Islamist lawmaker, Ali Laban, called for banning the "nudity concert". A Facebook campaign against Beyoncé's concert collected nearly 10 000 supporters.

But the war of words had not yet derailed the glitzy concert, due to be held hundreds of kilometres south of Cairo in the luxury Red Sea resort of Port Ghalib. Organisers said "ultra" security would be deployed to protect the thousands of concertgoers.

Beyoncé cancelled her stop in Malaysia last month following opposition from a conservative Islamic party. Malaysia requires female artists to cover up from the shoulders to the knees. - Sapa-AP

http://www.thestar.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=5235234

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Three held in Bangladesh for plotting attack on US

07 Nov, 2009

DHAKA: Bangladeshi police said on Friday they had arrested three suspected militants in the southeastern city of Chittagong who were planning to attack US targets in the country’s capital.

Deputy Police Commissioner Monirul Islam said Bangladeshi authorities were given intelligence reports concerning the men’s whereabouts following the arrest of two other suspected militants in the United States last month.

“We raided a madressah in Chittagong and arrested three Bangladeshi men late on Thursday evening,” he said.

“We believe they have links to the banned (Islamist) group Harkat-ul Jihad al Islami (HuJI) and were planning to attack American interests in Dhaka.” A spokesman for the US Embassy in Dhaka said he could not comment on security matters.

Islam said information about the Bangladeshi suspects had come from the United States following the arrests last month in Chicago of David Coleman Headley, 49, a US citizen, and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, 48, a Canadian citizen born in Pakistan.

US authorities have charged the men with plotting terror attacks abroad, including on the Danish newspaper which published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005.

Headley, 49, a US citizen who changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006, was arrested by the FBI on Oct 3 at Chicago’s O’Hare airport before boarding a flight to Philadelphia en route to Pakistan.—AFP

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/international/three-held-in-bangladesh-for-plotting-attack-on-us-719

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Bangladesh police say Islamists target U.S. interests

Fri Nov 6, 2009

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh police have arrested three Islamist militants, including a suspected activist of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, who were plotting to attack U.S. interests in the country, a senior police officer said on Friday.

"We have arrested the three from Chittagong port city as they were making plans to hit U.S. targets," the officer, who asked not to be identified, told reporters. Lashkar-e-Taiba is the group blamed for last year's assault on Mumbai.

The U.S. embassy declined to comment.

Earlier, home ministry officials said Bangladesh, a predominantly Muslim country of 150 million people, had stepped up security as intelligence reports suggested militants might target key politicians, officials and may be diplomats.

Last week unknown attackers bombed the car of a ruling party legislator, Fazle Noor Tapas. He escaped unhurt, but more than a dozen people were wounded.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told parliament on Thursday that Islamists who want to turn Bangladesh into a sharia-based Islamic state were out to thwart democracy and oust her government, which took charge in January.

"What they are up to? They are trying to scuttle democracy and push the country into chaos and violence," she said.

Police said on Friday they had detained dozens of hard-core militants across the country in the past week.

Hasan Mahmud Khandaker, chief of the elite Rapid Action Battalion, told reporters the militants were regrouping and planning to hit key targets but "we are fully ready to face the situation and frustrate their evil designs."

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsMaps/idUSTRE5A51ZQ20091106

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Pakistan’s fisheries officials released by Iran

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Some women strode the catwalk in vicious spiked bracelets and body armor. Others had their heads covered, burqa-style, but with her shoulders — and tattoos — exposed. Male models wore long, Islamic robes as well as shorts and sequined T-shirts.

As surging militant violence grabs headlines around the world, Pakistan's top designers and models are taking part in the country's first-ever fashion week. While the mix of couture and high-street fashions would not have been out of place in Milan or New York, many designers reflected the turmoil, contradictions and tensions coursing through the society.

The four-day event, which was postponed twice due to security fears and amid unease at hosting such a gathering amid an army offensive in the northwest, is aimed at showing the world there is more to Pakistan than violence and helping boost an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of people, organizers said.

Many of the models, designers and well-heeled fashionistas packing out each night said the gathering was a symbolic blow to the Taliban and their vision of society, where women are largely confined to the house and must wear a sack-like covering known as a burqa.

"This is our gesture of defiance to the Taliban," said Ayesha Tammy Haq, the CEO of Fashion Pakistan Week. "There is a terrible problem of militancy and political upheaval ... but that doesn't mean that the country shuts down. That doesn't mean that business comes to a halt."

The shows are taking place in Karachi, the country's largest and most cosmopolitan city, in a five-star hotel just next door to the American consulate, which was bombed by Islamist militants in 2002. It lies two hours flight from the northwest, the heartland of al-Qaida and the Taliban, and has largely been spared the violence sweeping the country over the last month.

"Unfortunately, it is the bad side of Pakistan that gets everybody's attention," said top Pakistani model Nadia Hussain as hairdressers and makeup artists fussed over her backstage. "It has never been this bad, I don't know what will happen," as fellow models chain-smoked cigarettes.

While many of the city's 12 million people live in slums, hip cafes and restaurants in wealthy neighbourhoods draw sophisticated crowds of young men and women into the early hours, more often than not speaking English with each other and wearing Western dress.

While the shows in Karachi resembled other fashion weeks in other parts of the world, there were no foreign designers or buyers. The organizers decided not to invite them given the precarious security situation.

"Who is going to come here with such negative stuff going on?" said Tabassum Mughal, a young designer who employs about 30 people. "Those who are here already are leaving."

Textiles make up some 60 percent of Pakistan exports and are worth around US$12 billion dollars a year. The country's cotton and silks are among the finest in the world. But the industry has failed to grew in recent years amid political unrest, violence and chronic power shortages.

As if on cue, a power cut during the fashion week's opening evening left the hall in darkness for several minutes.

The fashion industry represents a tiny fraction of the country's textile exports.

"We are still doing the 30 dollar a dozen T-shirt business. There is no value added," said Haq. "We should be employing millions of people, not hundreds of thousands of them."

Designers presented a mix of clothes, some drawing on traditional Pakistani outfits and tribal motifs; others that had little or no sign of traditional aesthetics. In a culture where most all women dress modestly, many outfits were too racy for local tastes.

"This does not represent what we are as a people," designer Ayesha Tahir Masood said. "Only 0.001 percent of Pakistani women would wear these clothes, and then only in a controlled environment when drunk out of their minds."

http://www.theinsider.com/news/3016742_Pakistan_s_fashionistas_defy_Taliban

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Should expat women should wear shaylas?

November 06. 2009

Dear Ali: I have to wear a shayla to work every day, which I don’t mind. I take care to ensure it covers me appropriately and try to be aware of my demeanour in public while I am wearing it on the way to and from work. However, when taxi drivers hear my western accent they inevitably ask, “Are you Muslim?” When I say no, they appear offended. Some of them will ask why am I covered. I tell them it is required for my job. This everyday interaction is getting a bit much. I don’t want to lie, but do not want to offend people. Should I continue to answer honestly? RD, Abu Dhabi

Dear RD: It is obvious that you are not comfortable lying, and at the same time you want to follow the “dress code”. I can guess that all this must be stressful and confusing for you, especially because the abaya and shayla are not simply our dress code, but symbols of the Islamic faith.

You see, when a woman is seen wearing the abaya and/or the shayla, Muslims expect she will conduct herself as a Muslim woman following this dress code is expected to; praying at the regular times, not chatting with strange men, not revealing cleavage, and so on. I’m not saying you do any of these things, and I am aware that some Muslim women who wear the shayla and abaya may indulge in this type of behaviour. But as a non-Muslim who dresses like one without behaving in the expected manner, the message you are sending is that you are sporting this look simply to appear cool, while not following the faith.

Why are taxi drivers always asking you this question? Possibly it is because they are not aware of the Abu Dhabi Education Council’s strategy of recruiting overseas teachers for our schools and that they are required to wear Arab dress. I suggest you simplify matters by wearing the shayla and abaya within your school premises, not while commuting to or from work. And another thing. It is not clear from your e-mail whether you are wearing both the shayla and the abaya. Muslim women in the UAE wear both, so if you are not, then that is considered disrespectful. Trust me, in time you will figure out what works well for you. I have just one last piece of advice, though. Be yourself. Feel at home. Embrace Arabia.

Dear Ali: What does the term “zahcan eashty” mean? It was sent as a text message to a mobile phone that does not have Arabic letters. BL, Chicago

Dear BL: Zahcan, or zahgan, means fed up. And the literal meaning of eashty is “my life”. The phrase “zahcan eashty”is usually used to convey “Enough already. Life sucks anyway, so don’t push your luck by asking me to do this as well.”

You’ll get a lot of “zahcan eashty” in the Arabic-speaking world after a hard day’s work or in the hot, humid summers. It’s basically an auto response among us Arabs when we are asked to do something we don’t really care to do. We could, of course, politely decline to do whatever it is we are being coaxed into, but this suits us better when what we actually want to say is, “Not only do I not want to do what you are asking of me but I am in no mood to do anything else.”

I imagine it is a similar feeling to how you may feel after coming in from shovelling 20cm of snow off your pavement, and your wife says: “How lovely it would be to have a white Christmas.” Zahcan eashty! Get the drift? However, I wouldn’t advise you say this aloud, especially if she is the kind of wife who says “what do you mean?” even when you speak to her in English.

Did you know?

Until the early 1960s, donkeys, camels, horses and abras (water taxis) were the only means of transport in the UAE. Abras are still used to carry people across Dubai Creek. The construction of the airport began in 1958, and the British Overseas Airways Corporation and Middle East Airlines launched flights to Dubai. Soon after, roads and bridges appeared in Dubai.

http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091107/MAGAZINE/711069972/1297

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Photographic challenge for Muslim women

November 07, 2009

THE Muslim Women’s Network UK is hoping to change the way Muslim women are perceived by the wider community through a photographic exhibition.

Do a simple google image search and type in ‘Muslim woman’ and the general image that pops up is that of women in veils or hijabs.

The organisation wants to do something about this and show the diversity of Muslim women in Britain today and is calling for women to take pictures or send in images of Muslim women in all walks of life.

A spokesperson for MWNUK said: "Diversity in the way Muslim women look is a choice based on a number of variables which may include: status; age, occupation, ethnic origin, culture, society, faith, fashion trends, politics, time and place.

"Appearance can also be influenced by peer pressure amongst groups to both ‘cover’ or ‘uncover’ whether at schools, universities or in the workplace. While some countries legislate on how women should dress either forcing them to wear the hijab or not wear it, we want to celebrate the freedom of choice in Britain by showcasing diverse images of Muslim women.

"You may already have images you can send to us or may be a budding photographer and want to go out and take your own photos. We are looking for photos of Muslim women showing diversity in terms of age, ethnicity, clothing.

"The easiest way is to send us a photo of YOU! Although we’d also love to see older photographs – perhaps of parents and grandparents and their ‘fashion’ trends when they were young! "

Examples could be of photographs that will challenge stereotypes for example a Muslim woman playing sports, or in various occupations.

There will be prizes for the best three photos consisting of vouchers worth up to £100. Photos will be used for an exhibition and will be put on the website  www.mwnuk.co.uk and in a booklet.

Photographs will be attributed to the photographer so make sure you include your contact details.

Send your photos to Faeeza Vaid on faeeza@mwnuk.co.uk.

http://www.theasiannews.co.uk/news/s/1181179_photographic_challenge_for_muslim_women

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Pakistanis blame ‘foreign powers’ for deadly Peshawar blast

November 7th, 2009

Washington, Nov.7 (ANI): While the Pakistan government has blamed the banned terror outfits such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda for the devastating car bomb blast in Peshawar’s Meena Bazaar, in which over 100 people were killed, many Pakistanis believe it was countries like the US, India and Israel which were the real enemies of the state and not the Islamist extremist organisations.

Pakistani religious parties such as the Jamaat-e-Islami is influencing people to believe that such attacks were the handiwork of ‘foreign powers’ and are fanning hostility in people’s heart against these countries, instead of working together with people to thwart the real challenge posed by the extremists.

“The more egregious the attack, the stronger seems the tendency to deny a domestic cause and blame other, more remote culprits. Some religious and political groups are encouraging such responses, eager to whip up xenophobic sentiment for their own ends,” a report in The Washington Post said.

During a recent ‘peace march’ organised by the Jamaat-e-Islami to condemn the Peshawar blast, which mostly killed women and children, people were seen shouting slogans against the US, CIA and the Pentagon, but strangely enough there was no mention of terror outfits such as the Taliban or Al-Qaeda.

“Muslims! Muslims! We are here to protest against those wrongdoers who work for India, Israel and the United States,” shouted a rally organizer through a bullhorn.

“We protest against American interference and against our government, which is handing over Pakistan to the foreigners and the unbelievers,” he added further.

People, who lost their near and dear ones in one of the biggest blasts Peshawar in the recent history, also rejected claims regarding the Taliban’s involvement in the incident.

“I am certain that the Taliban would never do this terrible thing. It must be the foreigners, who want to give a bad name to Islam,” the newspaper quoted Shah Zamin, who lost his brother in the brutal attack, as saying.

Amid all the denials there was ample evidence that the attackers had an Islamic fundamentalist agenda of keeping women in seclusion, the report said.

Shopkeepers in the Meena Bazaar area, who witnessed the massacre, said unsigned posters had appeared in the bazaar shortly before the bombing, warning them not to sell cosmetics or display female mannequins. (ANI)

http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/south-asia/pakistanis-blame-foreign-powers-for-deadly-peshawar-blast_100271324.html

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In Malaysia, defection may lead to divorce

November 7th, 2009

Lumpur: Change of loyalty to the party may require lawmakers belonging to the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) to divorce their wives. The move has caused outcry in political and legal circles.

Confirmation and justification by some PAS lawmakers that they have indeed made the pledge has divided the clergy in Muslim majority Malaysia. PAS is also called Parti Islam Se-Malaysia.

PAS MP from Shah Alam Khalid Samad confirmed what has been widely circulating in blogsphere.

He contended that the oath was not against Islamic teachings as Prophet Muhammad and companions had done the same and were willing to sacrifice their families and belongings.

But Perak state’s Mufti Harussani Zakaria argued that the Prophet did not do so because of politics.

“The oath or bai’ah made by companions was to show their loyalty and to defend the Prophet. If we want to take an oath for the sake of the party, then divorcing wives should not come into the picture,” Zakaria was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper.

Zakaria said PAS lawmakers had turned “their marriage into a game and put their wives as a bet in politics”.

He said divorce was hated by god as marriage solemnisation was a big promise made by a couple towards Him and to the witnesses.

“In Islam, even though divorce is halal, it is makruh (disliked or undesirable) because god detests the action. “Marriage solemnisation is not something playful,” Zakaria said.

Founded in 1956 on the eve of Malaysia’s independence, PAS is part of the opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat (PR). It has strong support in some of the northern states and its chief, Nik Aziz Nik Mat, is the chief minister of Kelantan state.

A survey quoted Saturday by The Star said the party’s image has ‘plunged’ despite its electoral successes last year, particularly among younger Muslims.

Criticism has come from political and legal circles.

Karpal Singh, an ethnic Indian who is chief of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) that is a PAS ally, said he was taken aback when he heard the news. He asked: “Why must the wives become victims?”

However, he said if the oath was allowed in Islam, then he would reserve his comments.

DAP’s organising secretary, an ethnic Chinese woman, Teresa Kok, said the news was “not something new” as she had heard about it a few months ago from PAS leaders.

Asked whether the oath was the right thing to do, the newspaper said, she replied in jest: “Why not?”

She added that the oath portrayed PAS elected representatives’ loyalty to the party and that they took their “relationship with PAS as seriously as their relationship with their wives.”

“It means they will not simply leave the party or their wives. It shows their commitment to the party.”

Malaysian Muslim Lawyers’ Association assistant secretary Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar described the oath as “morally wrong” if it really had taken place.

The ruling alliance Barisan Nasional (BN) condemned the move.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil condemned the party, describing it as “sheer evil” for belittling women.

She said putting wives at stake must not be tolerated as it was not only an act of betrayal to the institution of marriage, but an emotional abuse of their life partners.

“I cannot fathom how they could resort to something so degrading and mean. What happens when their wives are apolitical? It’s just so sad,” she said, demanding that PAS leaders retract that condition.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom called it “absurd and cruel”.

“Divorce is not a trivial matter that can be put at stake just to prove one’s loyalty to a political party. This is an abuse and cruelty towards innocent parties. Islam abhors cruelty and abuse,” he said.

http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/politics/in-malaysia-defection-may-lead-to-divorce_100271301.html

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Muslim scholar draws sellout crowd

By JASON MAGDER And MARIAN SCOTT

November 7, 2009

Opponents accuse Tariq Ramadan of doublespeak

Despite a full-page advertisement in a local newspaper denouncing his visit, there were no protesters when controversial Muslim orator Tariq Ramadan spoke last night.

Instead, hundreds of people were turned away from the sold-out event, as Ramadan spoke to more than 800 people, most of them between ages 20 and 40, at the Jean Lesage Amphitheatre at the University de Montréal's Jean Brillant building.

"I came from Quebec City, and got here at 6:30 (an hour before the speech started), but I couldn't get in," said a frustrated Ndeye Mariefall, 66, who was standing outside the amphitheatre an hour and a half after the speech started, clutching a book written by Ramadan. "I've read what he has written and now I wanted to see him in person. I'm still hoping to get that chance." When it comes to the Swiss-born professor of Islamic studies at Oxford University, nobody, it seems, can agree whether he is a Muslim moderate or Islamic fundamentalist.

The debate swirled this week, in the days prior to his visit. On Thursday, the Muslim Canadian Congress, a Toronto-based organization of secular Muslims, and Point de Bascule, an online news agency opposed to Islamic fundamentalism, took out a full-page ad in Le Devoir accusing Ramadan of hiding his true views on issues like the stoning of women behind a facade of moderation.

It accused Ramadan of being an "Islamic ideologue" and a "real professional of waffling." The Quebec department of Immigration and Cultural Communities and the Institut du Nouveau Monde both quickly denied any affiliation with Ramadan or Présence musulmane, the organization that sponsored the visiting professor's talk.

Asmaa Ibnouzahir, a spokesperson for Présence musulmane, dismissed the ad as "a meaningless collection of unfounded statements." "All those who accuse him of doublespeak have never produced any tangible proof," she said.

The organization promotes Ramadan's vision that Islam is compatible with pluralistic Western society, said Ibnouzahir, an international aid worker. "It's about feeling comfortable as Muslims while accepting multiple cultural identities." She said the organization's Montreal chapter was founded in 2004 and has about 30 members, including students, intellectuals, workers and non-Muslim supporters.

In his speech yesterday, Ramadan gave pointers on how to live life on a continual quest for spirituality in a secular society.

"In public life, you don't impose who you are, but you must offer your own example about what it is to live spiritually," Ramadan told the conference. "We can't deny who we are and be invisible in order to be accepted. We must accept who we are and help our fellow citizens understand this." Mariefall said Ramadan is a figure who preaches unity, rather than division.

"People interpret much more than they listen when it comes to him," Mariefall said.

But French writer Caroline Fourest, author of Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan, charged that close scrutiny of Ramadan's writings prove that behind his eloquent, cultured facade, he is an Islamic fundamentalist who opposes equal rights for women and homosexuals.

"He is not at all a moderate, despite appearances," she said.

"He aims to seem well-meaning and charismatic, but he uses his charm to promote wearing of the veil and to campaign against mixed marriages and homosexuality." Ramadan, 47, is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world's largest Islamic political group.

His family settled in Switzerland after Egypt banned the organization in 1954.

The Brotherhood officially opposes the use of violence to achieve Islamic rule.

In 2004, the U.S. barred Ramadan from taking up a teaching position at Notre Dame University as a suspected supporter of terrorism.

In 2003, Ramadan aroused controversy during a television debate with future French president Nicolas Sarkozy by saying that he favoured a moratorium on the stoning of women, but refused to come right out and condemn the practice.

Such waffling galls Alia Hogben, executive director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women.

"I wish he would make clear, unequivocal statements sometimes. I am always worrying about what's behind his words," said Hogben.

However, Hogben added that while she respected critics' right to express opposition to Ramadan's views, she also supported Ramadan's right to express them.

"I would go and listen to him," she said.

http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Muslim+scholar+draws+sellout+crowd/2195372/story.html

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Canadians linked to slain imam out on bail

By The Canadian Press

Sat. Nov 7 2009

WINDSOR, Ont. — Two Canadians connected to a controversial imam killed by the FBI in Detroit were released on bail Friday pending hearings to determine if they should be extradited to the United States.

Mohammad Al-Sahli was granted bail of $300,000, while Yassir Ali Khan was granted bail of $260,000.

The release conditions were negotiated between Crown and defence behind closed doors after a large number of Muslim community members showed up at the border-city courthouse to support the men.

"There were many, many people who offered to be sureties," said defence lawyer Patrick Ducharme.

An FBI complaint filed in Detroit alleges the two men, both 30 and both of Windsor, Ont., had a hand in trying to buy and sell stolen goods, possibly on behalf of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah.

"There’s been a lot of information that has not been very specific," said Ducharme.

"They’ve cast a very broad net here. Now they’re going to have get some specifics and really demonstrate that there’s some actual evidence."

Abdullah, 53, also known as Christopher Thomas, was shot dead Oct. 28 when FBI agents attempted to arrest him at a warehouse in Dearborn, Mich., on charges of conspiracy to sell stolen goods.

Police arrested seven alleged followers, while warrants were issued for his son, Mujahid Carswell, and Al-Sahli and Kahn.

The FBI complaint, the result of a two-year investigation, alleges the men conspired to commit crimes of a relatively minor nature, such as stealing and fencing laptop computers.

But the underlying thread is that the imam espoused violence and was a member of a radical Islamic group that sought to establish a Shariah-law state within the United States.

Abdullah was a leader of a "nationwide radical fundamentalist Sunni group consisting primarily of African-Americans, some of whom converted to Islam," FBI special agent Gary Leone said in an affidavit in support of the complaint.

Abdullah’s mosque called the allegations ridiculous.

Ducharme said he expected Crown disclosure within about two months and the extradition hearing to proceed within about six months.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/Canada/1151610.html

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Ex-military chiefs attack Brown's Afghan resolve

By MARK HENNESSY

THE EFFORT by British prime minister Gordon Brown to ease growing public concern about the UK's involvement in Afghanistan has been seriously undermined by scathing attacks from three former senior military chiefs.

Mr Brown insisted yesterday that British troops would stay in Afghanistan, but warned newly elected Afghan president Hamid Karzai to stamp out rampant corruption or risk forfeiting international support.

His speech, delivered before an audience of military officers at the Royal College of Defence Studies, was prepared over several days after the killing on Monday of five British soldiers by an Afghan policeman. However, his hopes that it would counter growing opposition to the war were undermined by the decision of three former military chiefs to launch deeply personal attacks on Mr Brown.

They criticised his record, complaining, once more, about equipment shortages, but also about the military's belief that Mr Brown is not really "with them".

Lord Admiral Michael Boyce, who was chief of defence staff between 2001 and 2003, said the British government "doesn't seem to realise that we are at war". Accusing Mr Brown of "dithering" about committing more troops to Afghanistan, Lord Charles Guthrie said "it is too much to hope" that the government would "provide the necessary cash" to fight the war.

Field Marshal Peter Inge, who was chief of the defence staff for three years from 1994, said Mr Brown "unfortunately has some baggage as far as the armed forces are concerned" from his time as chancellor of the exchequer.

"Because they feel that he has never really been on their side and they have not had his support," the field marshal told the House of Lords during statements yesterday on Afghanistan.

"Leadership is as much about emotion as it is about logic".

In his speech, Mr Brown rejected growing demands for a British pull-out: "In the last decade, in hundreds of attacks across the world, al-Qaeda and those associated or inspired by them have killed thousands.

"These victims were Muslim, Christian, Jewish, of every faith and none. This is a reality all the world has witnessed - in New York, Bali, Baghdad, Madrid, Mumbai, Rawalpindi - and of course right here on the streets of London," he said.

While the campaign in Afghanistan and Pakistan "is having a suppressive effect" on al-Qaeda, the Afghan mission "must not fail. It is not easy, the choices are not simple. There is no strategy that is without danger and risk.

"But that is the responsibility of leadership - of government and of our armed forces - to do what is necessary, however difficult, to keep the British people safe. We cannot, must not and will not walk away," Mr Brown said.

He spoke several times with President Karzai during the week and agreed five goals: security, governance, political reconciliation, economic development and relations with neighbouring countries.

"If the [Afghan] government fails to meet these five tests, it will not only have failed its people, it will have forfeited its right for international support," the prime minister said, without outlining what would happen if Mr Karzai is deemed to have failed.

The Afghan president must now establish an agency to tackle corruption. "I am not prepared to put the lives of British men and women in harm's way for a government that does not stand up against corruption.

"People are right to ask whether our soldiers should be placed in harm's way, if the government of Afghanistan is unable or unwilling to meet its obligations to the Afghan people."

President Karzai, who has privately complained about the US and Britain's obsession with past corruption, is expected to outline action in his inauguration speech on November 19th, but his ability to honour pledges is questionable.

Mr Brown said he wanted a high-level international adviser to be sent to Afghanistan to help in the fight against corruption and warned President Karzai that "cronies and warlords should have no place in the future of Afghanistan".

http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/yb/137447492

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Anticipating landscape changing of muslims

Mohammad Iqbal Ahnaf

Nov 7 2009

We can say that Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah are mainstream or mainline because their members constitute a large majority of Muslims in Indonesia. By this numerical figure one would be optimistic of the prospect of the moderate character of this nation.

However this character is not permanent. It should not be mistaken that such a stance did not occur until few years after the declaration of independence when nationalist leaders convinced Muslim leaders to give up the demand for an Islamic state to save the common agenda of establishing an independent state. Earlier Muslim leaders including those from the two major organizations shared the demand for a special position of Islam, as a majority religion, in the constitution.

It is unfortunate that the generosity of the mainstream to maintain this moderate character does not run parallel with their economic situation. Only by the fact that Muslims constitute 85 percent of total population would those unfamiliar with Indonesian Islam expect Islam to play a prominent role in public life.

But this is not the case. Despite the increasing representation of Islamic activities and symbols in daily life and media, an unprecedented share of economy is not sufficiently distributed to members of the mainstream Islam.

The large majority constituent of the two mainstream organizations are economically left behind, especially those of Nahdlatul Ulama background who continue to live underdeveloped in both rural and urban areas.

I do not mean to echo the Islamist argument of a systemic effort of economic marginalization of Muslim. This is a natural effect of the concentration of resource distribution among few elites and major companies; many of them are unfortunately Muslim by faith. The majority naturally are prone to fall victim to this problem of economic distribution.

Compared to Malaysia, this is a contrast. With the total Muslim population accounting for no more than 60 percent, Islam is the only official religion and more importantly Malay Muslims control significant, if not dominant, portions of economic and political resources.

The underdevelopment of mainstream Muslims is a result of long-term marginalization of Islam during the Soeharto era whose fear of Islamic revivalism forced him to allow the control of resources by capital owners many of whom were coincidentally non-Muslims.

It was not until 1990s when Soeharto started to realize the important of Muslim political support he started to distribute resources to Muslims. But in the short period toward the end of his power, Soeharto's Muslim-friendly policy was not enough to reverse the unequal distribution of resources.

Now Indonesia has become a market of ideas. Everybody has an equal right to propagate their ideas including those promoting a larger role of Islam in public and even a change of constitution.

At this point the demand of many Muslim groups is symbolical in the form of advocacy for the implementation of sharia. However, if the situation is unchanged, it can strengthen the aspiration for a broader representation of Islam in public life through sharia application advocated by those outside the mainstream circle.

So far this sharia advocacy has been mainly seen as a threat to state ideology and national integrity. But the unchanged situation of the economic fate of the mainstream Muslims may advise them that a radical policy is needed to change the course.

It is at this point that some of those in the mainstream circle would see a common ground with sharia advocacy propagated by the marginal Islamist groups. In the eyes of the underdeveloped, the sharia advocacy can appear as no longer a threat to state ideology or national integrity, but as an option to improve a larger accommodation of Islam that will strengthen their economic situation.

In this situation a changing of Muslim landscape should be anticipated. The direction seems to move toward the strengthening of a more politicized understanding of Islam; that is being a Muslim that demands a larger role of Islam in public life.

Recently I encountered local leaders of Nahdatul Ulama who were complaining of a weakening commitment of constituent (jama'ah) to the organization (jam'iyah). This is shown by the declining charity for the organization's activities. An NU leader gave an illustrative comparison: "In the past people came to NU office to give charity; now people come to the NU office only when they can expect to receive charity."

It is logical that when the mainstream organizations lost social roles, especially in empowering the economy of their constituents, they will lose authority.

Unless there is a dramatic policy that will strengthen the economic fate of the mainstream as well as empowering the social roles of the mainstream Muslim organizations, it is likely that politically minded Muslims will grow toward a majority position that encompasses those affiliated with the mainline organizations.

By membership or affiliation, the mainline groups may still hold the majority, but by political view those with aspiration for a broader political role of Islam can take over the current hold of the moderates.

The writer works at the Centre for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies (CRCS), Universitas Gadjah Mada, and is a PhD student at the School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/11/07/anticipating-landscape-changing-muslims.html

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Hadi reiterates PAS remains in Pakatan

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani and Debra Chong

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 — PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang today told the party faithful that they will remain in Pakatan Rakyat as it has gained more with the opposition pact than by struggling alone.

He explained to a crucial party seminar that PAS will cast its fortunes with PR due to the political reality of both Muslim and non-Muslim voters in Malaysia.

"PAS will remain in Pakatan Rakyat due to the reality of politics where there are Muslim and non-Muslim voters," Hadi told the 1,000 party delegates at the PAS Markaz Tarbiyyah in Gombak here.

The party president also pointed that PAS had previously formed a mixed government but had failed, thus requiring the need to be part of PR.

"PAS has gained more ground with Pakatan Rakyat even by just losing one by-election in Bagan Pinang," he added, alluding to the alliance's first by-election loss in the peninsula since Election 2008.

He earlier said PAS was formed to fulfil the orders of Allah and it had long struggled on its own.

The seminar will discuss PAS's future direction but could well throw up the need for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to decide the fundamental issue of whether to co-operate with Umno to advance Islam and Malay unity or stay with PR and hope to capture federal power in the forthcoming general election.

The seminar is unlikely to resolve the fundamental difference over the issues and which course to take to safeguard the future of PAS — how best to capitalise on the new forces at work in the political system to stay ahead.

Abdul Hadi was flanked by spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat and party vice-president Salahuddin Ayub when he opened the seminar. Nik Aziz later left as he is unwell.

Among those speaking at the seminar is UIA law academic Professor Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, who had started the debate when he criticised the party leadership's ambivalence to issues.

Abdul Aziz pointed out the seminar was not about unseating Abdul Hadi but about PAS's direction as an Islamist party.

"The pattern in the next general election will be different, it won't be ABU, Anything But Umno," the law professor said.

UM lecturer Dr Abu Hassan Hasbullah also told the seminar that his survey before the last general election showed youths preferred Nik Aziz over Abdul Hadi.

Another vice-president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man is also on the list of speakers.

Tuan Ibrahim is also heading the disciplinary committee probing Selangor PAS over allegations that the leaders have bad-mouthed the party leadership.

http://themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/42606-hadi-reiterates-pas-remains-in-pakatan

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US defense official forecasts foreign troop increase in Afghanistan as new plan takes shape

By Slobodan Lekic

November 7th, 2009

US: More foreign troops certain in new Afghan plan

BRUSSELS — A top Pentagon official says President Barack Obama’s new strategy for Afghanistan will be certain to include reinforcements of foreign troops.

“I think we’re very close to a decision in the United States. It will be a matter of a couple or maybe a few weeks,” Undersecretary of Defence Michele Flournoy said according to an official transcript released Saturday.

Flournoy, the Pentagon’s policy chief, led a U.S. delegation that briefed NATO ambassadors Thursday on the administration’s review of the Afghan war. Officials released a transcript of her remarks from that meeting.

“No one is talking about leaving Afghanistan, or even standing pat. We are increasing our commitment and we’re talking about how best to do that with both civilian and military resources,” Flournoy was quoted as telling NATO ambassadors.

The allies are engaged in intense deliberations regarding the future of the 71,000-strong NATO force in Afghanistan, nearly half of which is American. The U.S. military also has about 36,000 soldiers in Afghanistan who serve outside NATO under their own command.

Stanley McChrystal, the NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is calling for tens of thousands more American and allied troops as the Afghan war drags into its ninth year.

But opinion polls in many troop-providing countries indicate growing opposition to sending more soldiers at a time of economic crisis, shrinking defence budgets and increasing disillusionment with the war.

World leaders have been warning President Hamid Karzai that he must crack down on corruption if he expects continued international support.

NATO officials said Thursday’s talks did not deal with any requests for troops, a subject expected to be discussed at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers next month.

A U.S. request for more NATO troops could spark a rift among allied nations, some of which have announced plans to start reducing their troop commitments in Afghanistan next year. Others have indicated they may be ready to consider a modest increase.

http://blog.taragana.com/n/us-defense-official-forecasts-foreign-troop-increase-in-afghanistan-as-new-plan-takes-shape-221550/

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Egypt's new ambassador is expected in Baghdad, reports Doaa El-Bey

Nov 7 2009

Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit welcomed the outcome of the two-day meeting of the joint Egyptian-Iraqi Committee held in Cairo on Monday and Tuesday. "The two days witnessed a great event: the launching of a strategic dialogue with Iraq and the signing of a number of agreements between the two states," Abul-Gheit said at a press conference held at the end of the meetings.

Abul-Gheit confirmed that Cairo would work hard to improve the relationship and help Iraq overcome the difficult conditions it is still facing. His declaration that the new Egyptian ambassador to Iraq Sherif Shahin would be dispatched by the end of the week was regarded as a sign to boost ties. Asked why the ministry decided to dispatch an ambassador to Baghdad while the situation there is still not safe, Abul-Gheit said that while the ministry was saddened by the loss of Egyptian ambassador Ehab El-Sherif who was killed in Iraq in 2005, "we feel that security in Iraq is improving. Iraq is trying to regain its status in the region and reopening the embassy and sending an ambassador would help Iraq in the present difficult situation," he added.

Abul-Gheit also expected Shahin would help in setting the stage for genuine Iraqi reconciliation. He is likely to listen to the viewpoints of the parties and try to bridge the gaps between them. "To us as Egyptians, we regard Iraqis as Iraqis. They are not Sunnis or Shia or Kurds or Christians. We know Iraq as the strong and united state that provides a haven for all groups," Abul-Gheit added in the press conference.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, who thanked his counterpart for the seriousness showed in dealing with the Iraqi issue, said at the press conference that he was looking forward that all the signed agreements be put into action in the next few months. He said he came with a delegation that represents most of the government ministers to reach the best form of cooperation and strategic dialogue with Egypt. "We aim to get the help of Egyptian experience in all fields," he added.

The joint committee signed cooperation agreements in diplomacy, agriculture, energy, electricity and security. The two foreign ministers signed a memorandum of understanding that would facilitate visa procedures to businessmen and diplomats as the first step towards facilitating this procedure to everybody. They also agreed that an Iraqi delegation from the Ministry of Finance would visit Egypt this week to arrange for the return of Egyptian money transfers from Iraq and paying off government debts.

Commenting on security in Iraq, Zebari said that although the recent bombings targeted ministers and vital sites and left hundreds of innocent people dead, they did not indicate a fall in security. They were carried out by professionals who planned them in a tactical way to terrorise the government.

The joint committee met President Hosni Mubarak who discussed with them ways to broaden cooperation between the two states in the economy, trade and investment. The committee also conferred with Prime Minster Ahmed Nazif and discussed possible cooperation in energy and the possible establishment of a power network between the two states.

Iraqi Interior Minister Kazen Al-Boulani met his Egyptian counterpart Habib El-Adli during which they discussed ways to improve security cooperation between the two states in combating crime, terrorism and training. They also signed a memorandum of understanding to activate cooperation in combating international terrorism, organised crime and falsifying travel documents.

The committee was presided over by the foreign ministers of the two states. Abul-Gheit reiterated that Mubarak invited Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki to visit Egypt.

The joint committee meeting paved the way for the visit.

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2009/971/eg6.htm

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Anticipating landscape changing of muslims

Mohammad Iqbal Ahnaf

Nov 7 2009

We can say that Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah are mainstream or mainline because their members constitute a large majority of Muslims in Indonesia. By this numerical figure one would be optimistic of the prospect of the moderate character of this nation.

However this character is not permanent. It should not be mistaken that such a stance did not occur until few years after the declaration of independence when nationalist leaders convinced Muslim leaders to give up the demand for an Islamic state to save the common agenda of establishing an independent state. Earlier Muslim leaders including those from the two major organizations shared the demand for a special position of Islam, as a majority religion, in the constitution.

It is unfortunate that the generosity of the mainstream to maintain this moderate character does not run parallel with their economic situation. Only by the fact that Muslims constitute 85 percent of total population would those unfamiliar with Indonesian Islam expect Islam to play a prominent role in public life.

But this is not the case. Despite the increasing representation of Islamic activities and symbols in daily life and media, an unprecedented share of economy is not sufficiently distributed to members of the mainstream Islam.

The large majority constituent of the two mainstream organizations are economically left behind, especially those of Nahdlatul Ulama background who continue to live underdeveloped in both rural and urban areas.

I do not mean to echo the Islamist argument of a systemic effort of economic marginalization of Muslim. This is a natural effect of the concentration of resource distribution among few elites and major companies; many of them are unfortunately Muslim by faith. The majority naturally are prone to fall victim to this problem of economic distribution.

Compared to Malaysia, this is a contrast. With the total Muslim population accounting for no more than 60 percent, Islam is the only official religion and more importantly Malay Muslims control significant, if not dominant, portions of economic and political resources.

The underdevelopment of mainstream Muslims is a result of long-term marginalization of Islam during the Soeharto era whose fear of Islamic revivalism forced him to allow the control of resources by capital owners many of whom were coincidentally non-Muslims.

It was not until 1990s when Soeharto started to realize the important of Muslim political support he started to distribute resources to Muslims. But in the short period toward the end of his power, Soeharto's Muslim-friendly policy was not enough to reverse the unequal distribution of resources.

Now Indonesia has become a market of ideas. Everybody has an equal right to propagate their ideas including those promoting a larger role of Islam in public and even a change of constitution.

At this point the demand of many Muslim groups is symbolical in the form of advocacy for the implementation of sharia. However, if the situation is unchanged, it can strengthen the aspiration for a broader representation of Islam in public life through sharia application advocated by those outside the mainstream circle.

So far this sharia advocacy has been mainly seen as a threat to state ideology and national integrity. But the unchanged situation of the economic fate of the mainstream Muslims may advise them that a radical policy is needed to change the course.

It is at this point that some of those in the mainstream circle would see a common ground with sharia advocacy propagated by the marginal Islamist groups. In the eyes of the underdeveloped, the sharia advocacy can appear as no longer a threat to state ideology or national integrity, but as an option to improve a larger accommodation of Islam that will strengthen their economic situation.

In this situation a changing of Muslim landscape should be anticipated. The direction seems to move toward the strengthening of a more politicized understanding of Islam; that is being a Muslim that demands a larger role of Islam in public life.

Recently I encountered local leaders of Nahdatul Ulama who were complaining of a weakening commitment of constituent (jama'ah) to the organization (jam'iyah). This is shown by the declining charity for the organization's activities. An NU leader gave an illustrative comparison: "In the past people came to NU office to give charity; now people come to the NU office only when they can expect to receive charity."

It is logical that when the mainstream organizations lost social roles, especially in empowering the economy of their constituents, they will lose authority.

Unless there is a dramatic policy that will strengthen the economic fate of the mainstream as well as empowering the social roles of the mainstream Muslim organizations, it is likely that politically minded Muslims will grow toward a majority position that encompasses those affiliated with the mainline organizations.

By membership or affiliation, the mainline groups may still hold the majority, but by political view those with aspiration for a broader political role of Islam can take over the current hold of the moderates.

The writer works at the Centre for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies (CRCS), Universitas Gadjah Mada, and is a PhD student at the School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/11/07/anticipating-landscape-changing-muslims.html

------

Flu threat looms as Mecca readies for pilgrims

Nov. 6, 2009

Anxious health officials in Saudi Arabia say that for the first time in recorded history, a global pandemic could affect the hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. The H1N1 virus is a major concern for authorities in Saudi Arabia, who are gearing up to host some 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims from 160 countries later this month.

Muslims from around the world have been coming to Saudi Arabia for hajj for more than a millennium. It's one of the five pillars of Islam. Every Muslim who is able is supposed to make the journey to Mecca at least once in a lifetime.

Non-Muslims are not allowed into Mecca. But there are plenty of hajj videos online that show how tightly packed the worshippers get. One video, for instance, shows thousands and thousands of people circling the sacred stone known as the Kaaba.

This proximity is exactly the problem, says Dr. Shahul Ebrahim of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"There is no space in between the persons. They stand shoulder to shoulder, touching objects of religious significance," he explains. He adds that when Muslims pray, they prostrate on the ground, touching the carpets or floors — another way they might come into contact with bodily fluids.

Goal Is To Mitigate Spread Of Virus

Ebrahim, in Saudi Arabia to consult with the country's health officials, says it is more difficult to restrict people's movements during a huge religious ceremony like hajj than it was in Mexico, when the first big wave of H1N1 appeared.

"What happened in Mexico City was to close churches, to prohibit or limit the number of people attending funerals or people going to restaurants. The entire hajj is against all those principles," he says.

In other words, churches and schools can be closed; the hajj can't.

"If it has never been done in 1,430 years, I don't think anybody is prepared to call for that [now]," Ebrahim says.

Instead, the goal is to mitigate the spread of H1N1. The Saudi government is offering the H1N1 vaccine to health care workers, security forces and anyone else working on the pilgrimage. And officials recommend that pilgrims be vaccinated at least two weeks before leaving their home countries.

But many countries cannot afford that. Only a handful, such as China, have pledged to comply. Saudi officials also say pilgrims over 65 and under 12 — and those who are pregnant or sick — should stay home. Dr. Ziad Memish, the Saudi deputy health minister, stresses that these are recommendations, not requirements.

"We've made it clear that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not turn anybody away. So anybody who comes in, after he has been cleared by his country, then we'll take care of them," Memish says.

That means pilgrims who come by sea or by air will be greeted by health inspectors as soon as they arrive.

Pilgrims Seem Unconcerned With Threat

The Red Sea port of Jeddah is the gateway to the pilgrimage. At the Jeddah airport, there is a separate terminal just for pilgrims. Thousands are arriving every day.

At arrival, they are sent immediately through a heat sensor that screens them for a fever. If they have a fever, they are kept at the hajj terminal until that fever disappears.

If they don't have a fever, Memish says, the pilgrims will be given packets with masks, hand sanitizer and information about H1N1. If they later contract symptoms during hajj, they'll be given anti-viral medications but won't be isolated.

But pilgrims at a gas station and rest stop on the road from the hajj terminal to Mecca don't seem to be too concerned about H1N1. On this day, one bus is full of mostly elderly pilgrims from Bangladesh. They are not wearing masks, nor are they carrying hand sanitizer.

Maoud Abshel-Jawan, 74, says he saved up his entire life to make the hajj. He says he was screened at the airport and allowed through.

"I have no cough, any problem," he says, adding that he does suffer from diabetes.

Saudi health officials say they worry most about sick and elderly pilgrims like Abshel-Jawan — people likely to spread the flu here, or worse, take it back home with them. But they are also the same people Saudi officials say they simply can't turn away.

http://www.scpr.org/news/2009/11/06/flu-threat-looms-mecca-readies-pilgrims/

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Inoculation for Muslim pilgrims

Nov 7 2009

Muslims from around the world have begun heading for the holy city of Mecca for their annual pilgrimage. Saudi Arabia announced anyone travelling to Mecca must be vaccinated against A/H1N1 flu before entering the country.

Saudi Arabia has been the worst-hit country by A/H1-N1 flu in the Arab world. More than three million Muslims from around the world are expected to visit Mecca from November 25th to 29th for the Hajj. In addition to mandatory vaccinations, the Saudi health ministry is also setting up an emergency operation centre.

The centre aims to track how many people are sick and in need of free anti-viral medication stockpiled for pilgrims.

http://english.cctv.com/program/newshour/20091107/101322.shtml

URL of this Page: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/islam-not-responsible’-for-shooting,-says-us-imam/d/2065

 

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