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Islamic World News ( 28 Dec 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Karachi: 25 killed in blast on Shia procession

Blood and violence as millions mark Youm-e-Ashur

Iraqi forces 'defuse nine bombs' in Karbala

Hindus observe Muharram in Bihar village 

Iran battles reinvigorated opposition

All politics is local, even for al-Qaeda terrorists

'Taliban killed Benazir with Musharraf's consent'

Muslims turn blood donors on Muharram in Lucknow

Yaum-e-Ashura observed with procession in Hyderabad

Kashmir Shias clash with police, 20 hurt

Religious zeal, communal amity marks Muharram in India

Shahi Imam of Punjab terms Pranab's decision not to attend Ahmadi convention as ‘prudent’

Terrorism scare on US-bound plane

B’desh Govt dismisses concern over ‘special security’ in IHC

Nigerians get education in radical Islam

Protest planned to tell world: Islam is peaceful

Toll rises in Pakistan-administered Kashmir blast

Indonesia's religious police on frontline of hemline war

The mystery of missing Muslim female rulers

Muslims in UK: Grey Areas of Halal, Transformation And Assimilation

Sri Lanka: Yearnings of the N-Muslims end by May 2010

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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25 killed, 60 injured in blast on Shia procession in Karachi

PTI Karachi, December 28, 2009

At least 25 people were killed and 60 others injured in this Pakistani port city on Monday when a suicide bomber, defying a major security clampdown targeted the main Muslim Shia religious Ashura procession, marking the tenth day of the holy month of Muharram.

It was the third sectarian attack on the minority community in as many days in the port city of Karachi and came inspite of police and security agencies enforcing a massive vigil over the traditional procession route.

Sagheer Ahmed, the Health Minister of Sindh province, told Geo News channel that over 20 bodies and more than 60 injured people were received at hospitals. Geo TV reported that the death toll has risen to at least 25.

The terror attack came close on the heels of a militant bombing that killed eight people in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir capital of Muzaffarabad and Karachi on Sunday night.

Karachi Police chief Waseem Ahmed said it was a suicide attack."We have retrieved a head of a bomber which confirms it was a suicide attack," he told media. The procession was headed towards a nearby imambargah. Dense smoke rose from the site of the blast as people ran in panic. Police fired in the air immediately after the explosion.

Appealing for calm, Karachi Mayor Mustafa Kamal said, "I want to appeal to the people, to my brothers, my elders to stay calm. I am hearing people are clashing with police and doctors. Please do not do that. That is what terrorists are aiming at. They want to see this city again on fire.",+60+injured+in+blast+on+Shia+procession+in+Karachi.html


Blood and violence as millions mark Youm-e-Ashur

* Six million people including 105,000 foreigners visit Karbala in last 10 days

* Iraqi police say five killed in bomb attack on pilgrims

KARBALA: Millions of Shias across Iraq on Sunday joined ceremonies marking the climax of the solemn Ashura rituals, marred by a bomb attack on a procession near Kirkuk that killed five people.

According to provincial deputy governor Nasaeef Jassim, around three million people thronged the streets of the shrine city of Karbala in central Iraq for the main rituals commemorating the slaying of Imam Hussein (RA) by the armies of Yazid in the year 680.

Visitors: “Over the past 10 days, we have received around six million visitors who have come from all over Iraq, some coming by foot,” Jassim said, adding that at least half of these had stayed for Sunday’s climax of the annual event.

He said that among the pilgrims on Sunday were some 105,000 worshippers from foreign countries, mostly from the Gulf but also from Pakistan, Canada and Tanzania.

Earlier in the week, Karbala police chief General Ali Jassim Mohammed had announced the deployment of around 25,000 policemen and soldiers to secure the commemoration ceremonies.

Violence elsewhere in the country, however, took the gloss off the largely peaceful Karbala pilgrimage, which in recent years has been attacked by insurgents and disrupted by intra-Shia fighting.

Violence: Police said that early on Sunday a bomb ripped through a procession marking Ashura in the northern town of Tuz Khurmatu, near oil-rich Kirkuk, killing five people and wounding 27, including five women and a policeman.

The Tuz Khurmatu attack came a day after three Shias were killed when bombs struck separate Ashura processions in Baghdad.

Since Tuesday, 32 people have been killed and more than 160 wounded in violence targeting Ashura, including attacks on worshippers in Karbala and Baghdad earlier in the week.

Karbala, about 100 kilometres south of Baghdad, was peaceful on Sunday.

“Despite a serious threat from armed groups to target visitors, the security plan has worked,” said National Security Minister Shirwan al-Waili, who was visiting Karbala along with Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani.

A peaceful Ashura is crucial for the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has built his reputation on bringing security to Iraq, ahead of nationwide parliamentary elections on March 7.

Ceremonies began with thousands of devotees drenched in blood after ritually slicing their scalps and are to end with a re-enactment of the battle for Karbala in 680 in which Imam Hussain (RA) was martyred.

Nauhas (sad songs) were being played on loudspeakers throughout the city and mostly black flags were on display, along with pictures of Imam Hussain (RA) and Imam Abbas (RA), both of whom are buried in the city.

Masses of pilgrims clad in black took part in a ritual five-kilometre run, known as the ‘Twairij’, around mid-day to Imam Hussain’s (RA) shrine while hitting their heads with their hands and screaming “Labeikeh Hussain” (RA) – We are your followers, Hussain (RA). afp\12\28\story_28-12-2009_pg7_1


Iraqi forces 'defuse nine bombs' in Karbala

28 December 2009

Iraqi security forces say they defused nine bombs in the city of Karbala as hundreds of thousands of Shia Muslims gathered for a religious festival.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki praised the "exceptional efforts" of security forces in averting attacks on pilgrims taking part in the Ashura festival.

Tight security was in place following large-scale attacks in previous years.

More than 20,000 police were deployed across the city and marksmen were placed on many buildings.

Analysts say the government is keen to show that the withdrawal of US forces will not leave a security vacuum in the country.

Shia muslims had flocked to Karbala on Sunday for the final day of Ashura, which mourns the 7th Century death in Karbala of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

The ceremony in Karbala reached a climax with thousands of pilgrims running to a shrine while beating their heads with their hands.

Although festivities passed peacefully in the city, violence did mar events elsewhere.

Iraqi officials said five pilgrims were killed and 15 injured when a bomb blast hit a procession in Tuz Khormato, near Kirkuk in north-east Iraq on Sunday.


Hindus observe Muharram in Bihar village

Patna, Dec 28 (IANS) In a rare show of communal harmony, dozens of Hindu families in a Bihar village observed Muharram Monday to mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, and took out a 'tazia' (replica of Hussain's shrine) in a procession.

"We observed Muharram and also took out a tazia procession along with the Muslims," Lalan Choudhary, a resident of Thepha village in Siwan district, where the procession took place, told IANS by phone.

"It is an old tradition in our village that Hindu families observe Muharram," he said.

His brother Ramayan Choudhary said that five tazias were built in the village for Muharram.

"Four tazias were built by the Muslims and one by the Hindus to prove that we also mourn martyrdom of Imam Hussain," he said.

Sita Devi, a Hindu woman who observed a fast, said that in last one decade more Hindu families have been observing Muharram after one 'miracle' or another in their lives.

"We strongly feel that god blessed us for observing fast to mourn martyrdom of Imam Hussain," she said.

Cleric of the village mosque, Shamshul Haque, said: "Hindus observing Muharram sends a message of peace, harmony and brotherhood to others."

In this village, Muslims and Hindu families participate in each other's religious functions, he said.


Iran battles reinvigorated opposition

By Thomas Erdbrink

December 28, 2009

TEHRAN -- The intense clashes in several Iranian cities that left at least five protesters dead and scores more injured Sunday have raised the stakes for both sides as the government seeks to contain

a newly revitalized opposition movement.

The street battles took place on one of the holiest days in the Shiite Muslim calendar, a fact that is likely to give even deeper resonance to Sunday's deaths and that could help spawn further demonstrations in the days ahead. Opposition Web sites reported that as many as 12 protesters had been killed, including the nephew of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. The government conceded there had been five deaths in Tehran but denied responsibility and said the police had not used their weapons.

That account conflicted with those of numerous opposition sources, which reported that security forces had at various points opened fire on the crowds. Witnesses also reported that demonstrators, who numbered in the tens of thousands, fought back with unusual force, kicking and punching police officers and torching government buildings and vehicles.

In Washington, the White House condemned what it called the "violent and unjust suppression" of civilians by the government.

"Hope and history are on the side of those who peacefully seek their universal rights, and so is the United States," White House National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said in a statement.

After a relatively quiet autumn, the wide-scale protests Sunday recalled some of the largest and most contentious demonstrations from the summer, when hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the streets after a June presidential election that the government claims was won by the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a landslide but that the opposition believes was stolen.

On Sunday, demonstrators fanned out across the center of Iran's capital, Tehran, with many fighting vigorously as security forces sought to disperse the crowds. Police said that at least 300 "conspirators" had been arrested and that 10 police officers had been wounded.

Amid thick smoke from fires and tear gas that blanketed key parts of the city, Tehran became the scene of hand-to-hand combat between security forces and the protesters. At one point, according to witnesses, members of the pro-government Basij militia fired their handguns while ramming a car through two barriers set up by demonstrators. Elsewhere, the protesters, who in recent months had run whenever security forces moved in to disrupt demonstrations, began to attack riot police, pelting them with rocks and setting some of their vehicles ablaze.

Full report at:


All politics is local, even for al-Qaeda terrorists

December 29, 2009

The attempted bombing of the Northwest Airlines flight exposes an unresolved tension at the heart of militant Islam, argues Jason Burke.

Almost before Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was being led down the steps of Northwest Airlines flight 253 he had been linked to al-Qaeda. He has apparently claimed he was trained and commissioned by an al-Qaeda master bomb-maker in Yemen.

Whatever the eventual conclusion about his alleged international mission - a Nigerian living in London, trained in Yemen to blow up US planes - his case should not distract us from the fact that modern Islamic militancy is primarily a local phenomenon, not a global one.

The tension between these two is the unresolved flaw at the heart of the international militant project. Al-Qaeda was set up by Osama bin Laden, a Saudi, and a handful of others - many Egyptian - to overcome the disunity among the foreign volunteers who fought with the Afghan mujahideen against the Russians in the 1980s.

The global call to arms that bin Laden issued in the 1990s was only partially effective. In a letter I found in an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan in 2001 a Jordanian volunteer complained that his Algerian, Moroccan and Saudi counterparts kept to themselves even at prayer times.

This parochialism was obscured through the first years after September 11, 2001 as bombs exploded from Bali to London and, more recently, as new al-Qaeda offshoots were formed.

However, beneath this apparent internationalism, other elements were present. In many of the major actions bombers struck within the country - and sometimes within the town - of their birth.

Many targets were selected with an international dimension in mind - but many were not.

Conspirators said one reason they bombed the nightclub in Bali in 2002 was that it did not admit locals. In Morocco, alongside the Jewish targets, a restaurant patronised by the local elite was hit.

In Madrid immigrants struck less than two kilometres from where many of them lived or socialised. There was little international about the targets or the perpetrators of the bombings in London in July 2007.

Full report at:


'Taliban killed Benazir with Musharraf's consent'

AGENCIES 28 December 2009,

LAHORE: Holding former President General Pervez Musharraf responsible for former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination, Pakistan's high commissioner to Britain Wajid Shamsul Hassan has said that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Baitullah Mehsud could not have proceeded with his plans of assassinating Bhutto without Musharraf's nod.

A private television channel reported Hassan, as saying that if Benazir would have been alive, trouble for Musharraf would have doubled.

"Had Benazir been alive, Musharraf would have been facing legal action for murdering former Balochistan governor Nawab Akbar Bugti, and removing the chief justice of Pakistan," The Daily Times quoted Hassan, as saying.

Hassan said Musharraf had offered a much 'bigger' amnesty under the National Reconciliation Ordinance to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif, which allowed him to leave the country easily following the military coup in 1998.

People across Pakistan paid tributes to slain former premier Benazir Bhutto and offered special prayers on the second anniversary of her assassination even as her close aides called on the government to identify and bring her killers to justice.

The Pakistan People's Party organised special meetings and prayers in cities and towns all over the country, including Bhutto's ancestral town of Naudero in Sindh province, to commemorate her death anniversary. Bhutto's widower President Asif Ali Zardari travelled to Naudero to participate in meetings there.


Muslims turn blood donors on Muharram in Lucknow

December 28th, 2009 (IANS)

Muslims turned blood donors in a village near here Monday to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed.

Muslim residents of Amrai village in Chinhat area of Lucknow lined up at a daylong blood donation camp and gave blood on Muharram that also heralds the Islamic calendar new year.

The villagers organised the blood donation camp along with health officials.

“We decided to donate blood on Muharram in remembrance of Imam Hussain who devoted his life to humanity. In a way, our blood donation camp is also related to humanity,” said Tanveer Hussain, one of the organising members of the blood donation camp.

“Following the principles of our Imam, we also want to contribute to mankind. We believe our small initiative will definitely benefit the public. Both men and women of different age groups are coming forward to donate blood that can provide a new life to several people,” he added.

Meanwhile, in this capital, a large number of Muslims, wearing black clothes, took out mourning processions, beating their chests and backs with chains, to observe Yaum-e-Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram which is the first month of the Islamic calendar.

Considered a day of bereavement, many Muslims observe fast, give charity and pray in remembrance of Hussain who was martyred this day around 1,400 years ago at Karbala in Iraq.

It was during the month of Muharram in 680 AD that soldiers of the ruling caliph Yazid surrounded Hussain, his family and some followers at Karbala. In the days that followed, they were denied food and water and many of them were killed in the clash that lasted till the 10th day of the month.

A heavy security blanket was thrown over parts of the old city to ensure peaceful Muharram processions. Close circuit television cameras have been installed at several places to capture every happening on and around the procession route.

Elaborate traffic restrictions have been announced for almost all the main roads of the old city area.


Yaum-e-Ashura observed with procession in Hyderabad

December 28th, 2009

Hyderabad, Dec 28 (IANS) Shia Muslims in this historic city Monday observed “Yaum-e-Ashura” or 10th day of Muslim month Muharram by taking out the traditional “tazia” (mourning) procession.

It was all black and blood as a mood of mourning pervades through the old city of Hyderabad. Cries of “Ya Hussain” rent the air as blood oozed out of the heads and chests of the bare-chest Shia mourners in the mammoth procession, known as ‘Bibi ka alam’.

Clad in black, the groups of mourners were beating their chests, remembering the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, and his followers in the battle of Karbala about 1,400 years ago.

The bare-foot youths, who were holding blades and other sharp-edged weapons in their hands, flagellated themselves amid nowha khwani (elegy singing).

Thousands of men, women and children joined the traditional Bibi ka alam procession, which passed through Muslim-majority old city.

Matam or mourning started early Sunday at ashur khanas and alawas. At the historic Bibi ka alawa in Dabeerpura, hundreds of Shia mourners flagellated themselves. Later, the procession was taken out with an especially trained elephant carrying the alam or the flag, symbolising the martyrs.

Thousands lined the procession route to catch a glimpse of the alam and make their offerings. Eminent personalities including top police officers, members of former Nizam’s family — ruler of erstwhile Hyderabad state — were among those who made offerings to the alam.

Sunni Muslims too observed the day with many people fasting and various groups holding special meetings to remember the great sacrifice made by Imam Hussain and his followers. In many Muslim neighborhoods, youngsters were seen offering sharbat or special juice to passersby.

Police made massive security arrangements for the procession, which passed through the historic Charminar and other major thoroughfares in the old city.

Traffic was diverted at several points to ensure smooth conduct of the procession.

The city has an estimated 200,000 Shias, the second largest Shia population in the country after Lucknow.


Kashmir Shias clash with police, 20 hurt

December 28, 2009

At least 20 people were injured on Sunday when members of the Shia community clashed with police after they were prevented from taking out Muharram processions in violation of prohibitory orders in force in the city.

Police fired tear gas shells and swung batons to scatter stone-throwing people part of the procession at several places in the city, according to officials. Trouble erupted when Shias, led by JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, were prevented by police from taking out a procession in connection with 9th Muharram in Gowkadal area in uptown Srinagar.

This sparked pitched battles between the people in the procession and the police that left 14 injured, according to the officials. Police also stopped Shias from taking out processions in Gojwara, Bohrikadal and Rajourikadal areas in the old city, triggering skirmishes leaving six injured.

Police used batons and lobbed tear gas shells to restore calm in trouble-torn areas, officials added. Thirty people, 17 of them policemen, were injured in similar clashes yesterday in the city's business hub Lal Chowk and adjoining areas.

The situation in other parts of Kashmir valley, where a number of Muharram processions were taken out, was by and large peaceful, officials noted. In Srinagar, peaceful processions were taken out in Shamswari, Baba Mazar Zadibal, Hamdania Colony Zadibal, Mandbal Zadibal and Lashkar Mohalla Nishat, according to officials.


Religious zeal, communal amity marks Muharram in India

Monday 28th December, 2009 (IANS)

Religious fervour and communal amity marked the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram in India Monday with Hindus coming out in large numbers across India to join their Muslim brethren in processions to mourn the killing of Imam Hussain, the grandson of prophet Mohammad.

Considered a day of bereavement, many Muslims observe a fast, give alms and pray in remembrance of Hussain who was martyred this day at Karbala in Iraq around 1,400 years ago.

It was during the month of Muharram in 680 AD that soldiers of the ruling caliph Yazid surrounded Hussain, his family and some followers at Karbala. In the days that followed, they were denied food and water and many of them were killed in the clash that lasted till the 10th day of the month. Hussain was himself killed on the tenth day which is observed as 'Youm-e-Ashura'.

In Lucknow, a large number of Shia Muslims, wearing black clothes, took out mourning processions, beating their chests and backs with chains, while Muslim residents of Amrai village in Chinhat area of the state capital lined up at a daylong blood donation camp and gave blood.

In Hyderabad's old city, it was all black and blood as a mood of mourning pervaded the area. Cries of 'Ya Hussain' rent the air as blood oozed out of the heads and chests of the bare-chested Shia mourners in the mammoth procession, known as 'Bibi ka alam'.

The bare-foot youths, who were holding blades and other sharp-edged weapons in their hands, flagellated themselves amid 'noha-khwani' (recitation of elegies).

In Srinagar, security forces cordoned off Abi-guzar area to foil attempts by the Shia mourners to take out the main Muharram procession, which has been banned since 1990.

Heavy deployment of police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was made in the area and the adjacent Lal Chowk where roads had been blocked and concertina wire barricades set up. Shops in the area remained shut.

Full report at:


Shahi Imam terms Pranab's decision as ‘prudent’

27 December 2009

LUDHIANA: The Shahi Imam organized a press conference here on Sunday to express satisfaction and gratitude over the decision of Congress party to avoid the annual congregation of Ahmaddiya community being held in Qadian, district Gurdaspur. The press conference was organized in the Jama Masjid in city where people from Muslim community participated.

While addressing mediapersons, Habib-Ur-Rehman Sani, Shahi Imam Jama Masjid, said they were highly pleased with the decision taken by the finance minister of not attending the annual congregation of the Ahmaddiya community.

He asserted that this decision had averted a big clash that could have taken place if the minister had attended the function. He said that they had been protesting against his visit to the Admadiyya annual meet as it could have boosted the morale of people, who have been debarred from the Muslim fraternity because of their deviated path.

Muslims all across the state had been protesting against the visit of the finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, to the annual congregation of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community at its international headquarters in Qadian. To express resentment the Muslim community had even burnt the effigy of finance minister on the Jagraon Bridge and blocked traffic for over half-an-hour on December 25. The protest was registered by the Muslims in all Jama Masjids of the state including Moga, Amloh, Pathankot, Nawa Shaher, Patiala, Phagwada, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Bathinda, Rajpura, Jagraon and Ajitwal.

The convention that began on December 26 would continue till December 28.


Terrorism scare on US-bound plane

December 28, 2009

A flight from Amsterdam to Detroit requested emergency assistance beacuse of a disruptive passenger Sunday, two days after an attempted terrorist attack aboard the same flight.

The Nigerian passenger was questioned by investigators in Detroit after he reportedly spent more than an hour in the plane's restroom, and became "verbally disruptive" when flight attendants questioned him, CNN reported. No explosives were found on the man and he deemed not to be a threat.

But the incident came amid a heightened alert after anotherNigerian man allegedly attempted to set off an explosive device on Christmas Day aboard the same flight after spending time assembling the device in the lavatory. Police removed and screened all luggage aboard the plane.

US President Barack Obama was informed of the latest incident, a White House statement said.

"The president stressed the importance of maintaining heightened security measures for all air travel," said spokesman Bill Burton.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, has been charged with attempting to destroy the Northwest Airlines plane carrying 278 passengers Friday.

ABC News reported Sunday that the attack was planned by Al Qaeda in Yemen, where Abdulmutallab was trained for terrorism, and that the bomb was built there.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released a written statement Sunday saying, it would seek revenge for a Dec 17 airstrike on its training camp, according to the Washington-bsed Intel Centre, which monitors terrorist groups.

"We shall avenge, God willing, the blood of innocent Muslim women and children," the statement said.

Abdulmutallab is believed to have smuggled the pentaerythritol (PETN) material on board sometime on the way from Lagos, Nigeria to Detroit via Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. He claimed he had connections to the terrorist network Al Qaeda and terrorist groups in Yemen, The New York Times reported.

The attempted attack led to heightened security at airports worldwide over the weekend.


B’desh Govt dismisses concern over ‘special security’ in IHC

Anisur Rahman | Dhaka

December 28, 2009

The Government has dismissed concerns that a reported Indian plan to engage its own security forces in its High Commission here would undermine the sovereignty of Bangladesh.

“The embassy or High Commission compound is the sovereign area of that particular country...The security arrangement inside it is their internal matter,” Foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes said.

The Foreign Ministry rubbished the concerns expressed by main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) that a reported Indian plan to engage its own security forces for the safety of the High Commission in Dhaka would undermine the country's ‘sovereignty’.

Quayes, however, said he was yet to be officially informed about the Indian plan. He underlined that Bangladesh would have nothing to oppose unless it contradicted the domestic law.

His comments came a day after BNP expressed concerns over a newspaper report that a 50-member special Indian security force would arrive here for the safety of the High Commission and the envoy. BNP Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain said the “unusual and unprecedented” move by India was “not acceptable”.

“We think it is unusual and unprecedented...It is not acceptable at all and people of an independent country will not accept it in any way,” Hossain told reporters on Saturday.

Newspaper reports about the Indian plan came a month after police arrested four suspected Pakistani and Bangladeshi operatives of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) who allegedly planned to attack the Indian High Commission and the US embassy in the capital.

A subsequent email threat by unidentified people prompted authorities to step up security of the Indian envoy and its High Commission. -- PTI


Nigerians get education in radical Islam

By Aminu Abubakar

December 28, 2009

Bomb suspect studied in Dubai and Yemen

KANO, Nigeria | Middle Eastern schools favoured by Nigeria's wealthy families are pulling young Nigerians toward radical Islam, security and rights experts said Sunday.

The 23-year-old Nigerian charged with trying to blow up a passenger jet over the United States on Christmas Day was a devout Muslim who studied in Dubai and Yemen after living in Britain.

"The recent trend of rich parents sending their children for studies in the Middle East has an unhealthy implication, exposing these children to Islamic extremism," said northern Nigeria rights activist Shehu Sani.

Whereas most wealthy Nigerians previously sent their children to study in Europe or the United States, many have switched to the Middle East and Asia to save on cost and to protect Islamic values.

"It is a Catch-22 situation," Mr. Sani said. "While young men who study in the West imbibe a world outlook and dispositions deemed abhorrent by traditional northern Muslim society, those sent to Asia and the Middle East stand the risk of indoctrination with religious extremism."

Favoured destinations for an Islamic education are Dubai, Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia and Indonesia, the activist said.

The attempted bombing suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is from a well-off family in northern Nigeria, but his relatives said he had broken contact with them weeks ago after announcing that he was studying in Yemen.

"Whatever religious views he held while studying in the U.K., Farouk did not get the crazy idea of bombing a plane until he went to the Middle East for further study," said Mr. Sani, who is also a neighbour to the family.

Scores of agents for Asian and Middle Eastern educational institutions are based in northern Nigeria.

"Such schools are cheaper and are of high standard compared to those in the West," said one agent, Mohammed Hassan. "The children are also insulated from the moral perversion they inculcate when they study in Europe or America."

At the same time, unemployment in Nigeria's north is also pushing young Muslims toward radical Islam, said Ibrahim Datti Ahmad of the Islamic pressure group, Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria.

"Young men from wealthy homes get attracted to extreme religious views out of frustration due to idleness because they can't secure decent jobs that befit their status after graduating from university," Mr. Ahmad said.

Former national police commissioner Abubakar Tsav said poverty was another factor.

"There is pervading poverty in Nigeria especially in the north - which is pushing a lot of young impressionable minds to religious extremism," he said.

Muslim Nigerians have condemned Mr. Abdulmutallab's alleged actions.


Protest planned to tell world: Islam is peaceful


December 28, 2009

The organizers of a Dearborn-area group on Facebook are calling for Muslims to protest against the actions of a Nigerian man accused of trying to attack a Northwest Airlines flight en route to Detroit Metro Airport on Friday.

Majed Moughni, a Dearborn attorney, said Sunday afternoon that Muslims need to let the world know that those who would commit terrorism do not represent Islam.

"It's very frustrating to know that these guys are using Islam and committing terror," he said. "Islam stands for peace."

His Facebook group, Dearborn Area Community Members, is calling for local Muslims to hold a protest during the scheduled Jan. 8 hearing in U.S. District Court in Detroit for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The 23-year-old was charged Saturday with trying to detonate an explosive device on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Friday. He told federal authorities he was acting on orders from Al Qaeda.

Information about the protest is being posted on the group's Facebook page: "Please bring your signs, and American flags: theme: 'NOT IN THE NAME OF ISLAM,' " according to one post.

Fatme Nemer, 24, a Dearborn resident and member of the Facebook group, agreed that the time had come to protest against terrorism.

She said that the group wants to use the international attention to send a message that metro Detroit's Muslim community is opposed to terrorism.

"This is not something that we condone," she said.


Toll rises in Pakistan-administered Kashmir blast

28 December 2009

The death toll in the suicide bomb attack on a Shia Muslim gathering in Pakistan-administered Kashmir has risen to eight, officials say.

Six people, including three policemen, were killed on the spot while two more died in hospital, police said.

The attack injured more than 80 people. Ten of them are in a serious condition.

The blast in Muzaffarabad came as Shia Muslims commemorated the festival of Ashura that mourns the 7th-Century death of Imam Hussein.

Atif Bashir, who runs a medical store close to the prayer hall where the attack took place, told BBC Urdu's Zulfiqar Ali that the blast took place when the mourning procession had entered the hall.

"Soon afterwards, the lights went out, and people were crying for help in the dark."

Correspondents say that Muzaffarabad has long been home to camps of Sunni militant groups fighting the Indian army in Indian-administered Kashmir.

But this is the first time an attack has been launched against civilians in the area.

Pakistan's security forces have been on high alert fearing sectarian clashes between Shia and Sunni Muslims.


Indonesia's religious police on frontline of hemline war

December 28, 2009

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia -- She wears a helmet and drives her scooter slowly through the capital of Indonesia's Aceh province, but Yuli is still stopped by the Sharia police. Her crime: wearing tight jeans and a blouse deemed “un-Islamic.”

The 20-year-old lowers her eyes and doesn't argue with the khaki-clad male officers who summon her to the side of the road.

“I promise to buy a more Muslim outfit,” she says, showing enough contrition for the police to wave her on her way.

In one hour, 18 women are pulled over because the guardians of morality decide their slacks are too tight or their shirts reveal too much of their feminine curves.

Only three men receive the same treatment, for wearing shorts.

“We have to respect Sharia (Islamic) law, which has been adopted by the provincial government and which stipulates that women can only show their faces and their hands,” sharia police commander Hali Marzuki told AFP.

Perched at the end of Sumatra island about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) northwest of the Indonesian capital Jakarta, Aceh is one of the most conservative regions in the mainly Muslim archipelago.

Most Muslims in the country of 234 million people are modern and moderate, and Indonesia's constitution recognizes five official religions including Buddhism and Christianity.

But Aceh has special autonomy, and one of the ways it has defined itself as different from the rest of the country is through the implementation of Sharia law and the advent of the religious police.

The force has more than 1,500 officers, including 60 women, but unlike their fearsome counterparts in Saudi Arabia the local sharia police do not seem to cause too much concern among citizens.

Officers are relatively cheerful, they carry no weapons and they almost always let wrongdoers off with a warning.

“Punishment is not the objective of the law. We must convince and explain,” says Iskander, the sharia police chief in Banda Aceh, who goes by only one name.


The mystery of missing Muslim female rulers

By Raihanaa Hasan

28 December 2009

A furor greeted Benazir Bhutto when she became Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1988. Backed by orthodox theologians, her opponents decried the event as un-Islamic and “against nature,” adding that “no woman had ever governed a Muslim state between 622 and 1988.” To verify the accuracy of this statement, Moroccan author and sociologist Fatima Mernissi consulted the works of explorers, scholars and historians ranging from Ibne Batuta (1304-78) and Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) to Stanley Lane-Poole (Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1960) and her findings, published in The Forgotten Queens of Islam, tell us that there were at least seventeen Muslim queens between the eleventh and seventeenth centuries.

Mernissi restricts her list to female rulers who met the Muslim criteria of sovereignty—their names were proclaimed in the Friday khutba from mosques and inscribed on the coins struck in their reigns. Relatively well known are two thirteenth century queens of the Mamluk (Turkish slave) dynasty. One, of course, is Razia Sultana of the Delhi Sultanate, an able administrator whose calibre as compared to her three half-brothers was acknowledged by her father when he named her his successor. The other is the sagacious Sultana Shajaratul- Durr of Egypt, who routed the French army during the Crusades and captured King Louis IX.

However, few of us have heard of the two eleventh century Arab queens who ruled Yemen jointly with their husbands: Asma bint Shihab al-Sulahiyya (described by her contemporaries as one of the most famous and powerful women of her time) and her daughter-in-law, Arwa, both under the title “Syeda al-Hurra”. Nor has muchbeen written about the queens of the Mongol dynasty, which treated its women with a respect that amazed Ibne Batuta. It had no fewer than six queens (1256-1340) reigning over various principalities in present day Iran and Iraq. These were: Kutlugh (also known as Turkan) Khatun—whose reign lasted for twenty-six years—and Padishah Khatun in Kirman; Absh Khatun, whose capital was Shiraz; Dawlat Khatun of Luristan (in Persia); and Sati Bek and Malika Tindu of Iraq.

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Muslims in UK: Grey Areas of Halal, Transformation And Assimilation

By Fakihah Azahari

Monday, 28 December 2009

Sometime in the year 2004, Muslims in United Kingdom were rudely shocked by claims that products such as Locozade contained traces of alcohol and Ribena uses a filter made from gelatine derived from pigs in its production process. These claims were later found to be true which galvanised the Muslim community into taking decisive steps in boycotting the products.

Initially, the producer of Ribena and Locozade, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) were slow to response to protests by the Muslim community. As the Muslims were a minority in the UK numbering only about two million in strength, the drink producer was confident that these protests would not affect the existing sales of the products. What happened afterwards was completely the reverse.

There is no official statement by the producers on the actual drop in the sales of these products; however GSK seemed to be concerned enough about the figures to have sought a fatwa from the UK Muslim Law Council, the highest authority in the UK on halal food. It took the Council approximately five months to deliberate on the issues whereby opinions of various Scholars were sought and earlier rulings on Halal food were referred to and examined. The fatwa issued were no less controversial and divided opinions amongst the Muslim community on the validity of the fatwa.

"I see no harm in consuming Ribena and Locozade which contain traces of ethyl alcohol and animal ingredients that do not bear their original qualities and do not change the taste, color or smell of the product", the late Zaki Badawi, formerly the UK Muslim Law Council chair and former adviser on Islam to the Prince Of Wales, concluded. Lucozade contains 0.01% of ethyl alcohol to ensure the flavouring permeates the whole drink.

The Council accepted the opinion and rationale of the California based foundation for Islamic Knowledge which stated that that alcohol level of 0.01 to 0.05 percentage is insignificant and therefore the product can be considered Halal. The Islamic Fiqh Academy made a finding that gelatine made from haram animal is allowed if it has undergone fundamental process of transformation through chemical changes and thus, ruled that Ribena is halal. The fatwa on alcohol is further strengthened by the opinion of Imam Sheikh Yusuf Qaradhawi in 2008 on the permissibility of consuming food and beverage that contain minute amounts of alcohol subject to firstly, it does not intoxicate and secondly alcohol was as a result of natural fermentation. The necessity of the presence of alcohol is in its role as soluble and flavouring for the food industry. The Imam was also of the opinion that products derived from pigs are permissible if it has undergone a process of denaturation.

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Sri Lanka: Yearnings of the N-Muslims end by May 2010

28 December 2009

Not only the Tamils even the Muslims of North and east did live pathetic lives of displaced. With the completion of terrorism in the country the refugee lives will also come to an end and it is the yearning of all those who were displaced to get back to their villages and lead their normal lives once again.

President Rajapakse promised before the displaced Muslims in Puttalam that all of them would be resettled in their lands by May next year. This announcement would definitely bring good tidings to the Northern Muslims no doubt.

There is no peace like living in the village where they were born and bred. The mentality of the displaced from the north had the same feeling all these days and they were looking forward to the day when they can go back to their own villages to lead normal lives. The announcement of the President has put an end to the yearning of the northern Muslim community that was leading a displaced life no doubt.

There are around 100,000 Muslims evicted from the North by the LTTE in 1990s. Most of them are from the Jaffna peninsula, and currently stay in welfare camps in Puttalam. Some of them also live in areas such as Panadura, Negombo, Anuradhapura and Colombo.

Meanwhile, the government has also decided to accelerate the resettlement of Tamil civilians staying at welfare camps in Chettikulam, Vavuniya. 5000 persons would be sent out of the camps during the first week of January to be resettled in their original places. Minister Bathiuddn said “We sent some 300 persons out today. We will now speed up action to resettle them,”

Sri Lankan government has pledged to resettle all the displaced civilians in Menik Farm before the end of January, 2010. The resettlement process has almost been completed in Mannar and Jaffna now, he added. It is expected that Manik Farm will be closed soon.

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