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Islamic World News ( 20 Nov 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Karzai Sworn in for Second Term as Afghan President, promises reform

Bangladesh: killers of Bngabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman finally brought to justice

Silence on Islam Kills, from Hassan to Honour Killings

Scaremongering Muslim Interns, Undermining Democracy

Afghan president says terrorists can be beaten

Former Perlis muftif charged with uncertified teaching

Vande Mataram should be made optional: Tharoor

Prominent Muslims oppose Jamiat group’s stand on Vande Mataram

The Islamic scholar Dr Amina Wadud: For a Progressive Islam

Kashmir: Track II initiatives lead to Thaw in the Valley

Muslim women are still not taken seriously: Farida Khanam

Pakistan warns against early US withdrawal from Afghanistan

19 killed in courthouse bombing in NW Pakistan

Not every Muslim is a terrorist threat

Indonesia's anti-terrorism unit warns of new cells

TEHRAN -Spanish translator laments improper translations of Islamic texts

Gateway of India's pride is cops' dorm

Terror suspect held with no bail, Judge cites ties to Al Qaeda

'Europe ‘Not-so-Friendly’ with Muslims'

Jihad Watch seeks realistic handle on terrorism

Saudi Arabia and Iran fighting proxy war in northern Yemen

Tinley Park woman charged with hate crime for tugging on woman's head scarf

Muslim student cleared over bladed flagellator in London

China wants 'improved' Indo-Pak ties, but denies interference

Tight bond needed with Malaysia

Mahesh Bhatt writes to PM over son Rahul's 'great betrayal'

US considers response to Iran nuclear snub

Govt blames consul in US for Rana visa

Headley Used Rahul As Cover For 26/ 11 Recce

Actor seeks probe into 'false' rumour

Barbora remarks invite bouquets and brickbats

Supreme Court to the rescue of second wives

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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Karzai Sworn In for Second Term as Afghan President


November 19, 2009

KABUL, Afghanistan — Tainted by a flawed election and allegations of high-level corruption in his regime, President Hamid Karzai was inaugurated Thursday for a second term, saying the Afghan Army should assume full control of the country’s security within five years.

“The role of the international troops will be gradually reduced,” Mr. Karzai said at a midday ceremony held at the presidential palace in Kabul. “We are determined that in the next five years, the Afghan forces are capable of taking the lead in insuring security and stability across the country.”

To restore security and reintegrate insurgents who wish to support the government, he said he would hold a traditional loya jirga, a tribal council, to invite “dissatisfied compatriots who are not directly linked to international terrorism to return to their homeland.”

In a somber counterpoint to the ceremony in Kabul, two suicide bombers struck Thursday in the southern provinces where the fighting has been fierce. In Zabul Province, a car bomber struck a NATO convoy, and news reports said two American soldiers were killed. Since the beginning of the Afghan war in 2001, more than 920 American soldiers have died out of a total of 1,520 allied troops killed fighting the Taliban.

In Oruzgan Province a man wearing a suicide vest detonated his explosives at a market, killing 10 people, including 2 children.

Mr. Karzai spoke in Dari and Pashto, reaching out to the two largest ethnic groups, and also touched on the major points that the Americans and other Western countries have pressed him to address.

The audience of about 800 people — overwhelmingly male — comprised government officials, military officers, tribal leaders and foreign dignitaries.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton attended, as did President Asif Ali Zardari of neighboring Pakistan and the British foreign secretary, David Miliband, whose country has 9,000 soldiers deployed in the 43-nation NATO-led coalition fighting the militants.

Mr. Karzai drew applause on only three occasions: when he pledged to create a transparent and accountable government, when he promised to fight corruption and when he thanked the United States and other allies for their help.

The ceremony was the culmination of a divisive and chaotic electoral process that began on Aug. 20 when Afghans went to the polls. Mr. Karzai was proclaimed the winner earlier this month when his main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, withdrew from a runoff even though a United Nations-sponsored inquiry had found evidence of widespread electoral fraud.

His inauguration at this pivotal moment — eight years into the Afghan war as the United States is weighing a new battle strategy — raises the question of what Afghans and American officials can expect of him over the next five years even while doubts swirl about whether he can complete his term.

Mr. Karzai faces calls from ordinary Afghans, Western donors and the United States to root out corruption by replacing many members of his cabinet, some regional governors and many lower-level but powerful figures.

In his inaugural address Thursday, Mr. Karzai said corruption was “very dangerous problem,” according to a text of the speech.

He also promised to prosecute people involved in the country’s huge, illicit narcotics industry, which helps fuel both corruption and the Taliban insurgency.

Mr. Karzai said his administration would “negotiate with our friends like the United States who doubt us, security-wise.”

The Obama administration is weighing a decision on the deployment of further American troops in Afghanistan in addition to the 68,000 already there, as concerns spread in many parts of the NATO alliance about the value and risks of supporting a regime seen as lacking political credibility.

Mr. Karzai hailed the presence of Mr. Zardari, the Pakistani leader, as a sign of “good relationship, good brotherhood,” despite a history of tensions between the two countries across a porous and mountainous border stretching over 1,500 miles.

The Pakistan Army is currently conducting a drive against militants in its lawless border region of South Waziristan. Kabul has accused its neighbor of giving sanctuary to the leadership of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. At the same time, Pakistan and its longtime rival India are jockeying for influence in Afghanistan

Mr. Karzai stressed the desire to eliminate civilian casualties and vowed to end the use of civilian security contractors within two years — two particularly sensitive topics among many Afghan civilians.

Mr. Karzai thanked the international election commission that oversaw the vote, which he called “a great national process,” and pledged that future elections would be “ultimately fully Afghanized.”

“Arguing and disputing our political ideas and beliefs are famously embedded in our Afghan character,” he said. “However, we stand united when it comes to defending our fatherland and our national values.”

He added: “Eight years ago, Afghanistan did not have any laws or regulations. We had no government, no state.

“Putting an end to the fighting is the most significant demand of our people now.”

But some Afghans question his ability to deliver on his promises.

Ramazan Bashardost, a candidate who came in third in the first round of the presidential election, has said Mr. Karzai’s lifelong orientation is toward his tribe and family, and those loyalties render him unable to make the deep changes needed in his government.

“He believes his power is his warlords, it’s the chiefs of tribes,” Mr. Bashardost said recently. “It’s not important what is true; what is important is the interest of your family. It’s why he cannot fight the warlords and cannot fight the corruption.”

Immediately after the inauguration, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary-general of NATO, sent a message of congratulation coupled with a demand for accountable government and measures to halt corruption.

“President Hamid Karzai has our best wishes for his second five-year term,” the message said, according to the NATO Web site. “We strongly support his intention to form a capable and inclusive administration, and to make it accountable, one in which corruption has no place.

“It is critically important that the Afghan people, and the citizens of the countries sending troops to the international mission, see concrete progress in this regard,” the message said.

In his speech, Mr. Karzai sought to depict himself as an inclusive leader and invited the losing candidates to “come together to achieve the important task of national unity and make our common home.”

But his address drew a dismissive response from the Taliban insurgents fighting to overthrow his government and expel its foreign backers.

“Today is not a historic day,” a Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, told The Associated Press “This is a government based on nothing because of the continuing presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan.”

He added: “Karzai’s call to the Taliban to come to the government has no meaning. He became president through fraud and lies.”

An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of Ramazan Bashardost.

Alan Cowell contributed reporting from London.


Bangladesh officers lose appeal

19 November 2009

Five ex-army officers in Bangladesh have lost an appeal against their convictions for the murder of the country's first president in 1975.

The men, who had been convicted of killing Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, now face the death penalty.

Correspondents say the focus is now on finding six others accused over the killings who are living abroad.

The trial began more than a decade ago and this was the killers' final appeal.

State lawyer Anisul Haq said the nation "has got justice" after the five-member jury dismissed the appeal.

"We had to travel a long way to come to this."

On hearing the verdict, Sheikh Hasina expressed her gratitude and called on the nation to remain calm. Her spokesman said she had wept when she heard the news the appeal had failed.

Military coup

Mr Rahman was killed in 1975, just four years after leading Bangladesh to independence from Pakistan.

The killers also murdered the president's wife, three sons, two daughters-in-law and approximately 20 other relatives and aides as part of a military coup.

Sheikh Hasina, who was re-elected prime minister last December, escaped the massacre only because she was out of the country at the time.

The five men, who are in prison in the capital, Dhaka, did not deny their role in the death of Mr Rahman, but had said they should be tried in a military rather than a civilian court.

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Dhaka says unless the president pardons them, they could be hanged within the month.

Before the verdict, 12,000 extra policemen were deployed in Bangladesh, with many guarding strategic buildings, including the Supreme Court where the verdict was given.

Our correspondent says there are people who sympathised with what the five on trial were trying to do.

The authorities feared the men's supporters would disrupt the proceedings, although this ended up not being the case, he says.


The government has already blamed supporters of the five men for a grenade attack on one of the prosecution lawyers last month, which left several people injured.

The police arrested a group of their relatives, and the army said it was investigating possible links to serving officers. Nobody has been charged yet for the attack, and those arrested say they had nothing to do with it.

Six fellow plotters, on the run abroad, have also been sentenced to death. A seventh man also found guilty in absentia is thought to have died abroad.

The government the majors helped install passed a law indemnifying their actions and until 1998 they were free men.

But by then Sheikh Hasina had herself become prime minister and the accused were put on trial, found guilty and sentenced to death.

She lost the following elections, and the next government, led by the party which ultimately benefitted from the coup, slowed the process down.

But Sheikh Hasina returned to power earlier this year, and made the conclusion of the trial one of her top priorities.


Silence on Islam Kills, from Hassan to Honour Killings

by Sultan Knish

Thursday, 19 November 2009

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" Edmund Burke

As the story of Nidal Hassan unfolds, it becomes painfully clear that the Jihadi Shrink who opened fire on US troops at Fort Hood did everything but spray paint, "I Am Going To Kill You All" on the wall, before he actually carried out his attack. Not only did Hassan put a Jihadist abbreviation on his business cards, he delivered repeated lectures justifying Jihad, accused the soldiers he was supposed to treat of War Crimes and was already being investigated for contacts with Al Queda and for defending suicide bombing online.

IslamStopsLibertyFromBehind-TheodoresAt a time when snow globes are banned at airports and detectors are positioned in every Federal building, in the heart of the United States Army, a Jihadist like Nidal Hassan could openly and freely express his sympathies and affinity for terrorism. But the thing that Nidal Hassan had going for him, that the snow globes and baby bottles filled with breast milk didn't, is that Hassan was a Muslim, and ever since 9/11, Americans have been repeatedly warned against criticizing Islam. Told over and over again that Islam is the Religion of Peace, and that just because all our foreign terrorists happen to be Muslims acting in the name of Islam does not actually matter. Just as all those Japanese planes flying toward Pearl Harbor and the German factories producing tanks meant nothing in the 1930's.

Hassan's superiors were well aware of what he was, but none of them wanted to risk a charge of Islamophobia. And so they remained silent and soldiers died. That is not a chant you will hear from anti-war activists at the gates of the White House, but that is exactly what happened. And Hassan's case is from unique. There is no telling how many terrorists have flown under the radar because officials were afraid to be accused of profiling or charged with racism. We may never know what reports were never paid attention to because it has become more acceptable to lose American lives, than detain a Muslim.

In the face of Islamic terror, there are endless desks staffed by good men who do nothing and say nothing. Because they have been told that it is more important to be silent, than to take action, when it comes to the Islamic Jihad against all non-Muslims. It is more important to search everyone, than to profile Muslim terrorists. It is better to have lax security, than to have good security that may make some of our friends from Saudi Arabia or Pakistan feel upset. That is how we did it before 9/11. And that is how we are doing it today, as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed gets his lawyers and the media does the hard work of manufacturing Nidal Hassan's PTSD by Proxy defense for him out of thin air, and the radical Imams whom Nidal Hassan came into contact with are whitewashed with the usual thin paste of the Religion of Peace.

But silence on Islam kills. It kills when we remain silent about the Nidal Hassans in our midst. It kills when people look away as honor killings among Muslim families continues to grow. It kills as Muslim gangs like the Muslim Boys in the UK form and it kills as Muslim riots claim the lives of innocent people, as they repeatedly do in Europe. But when it comes to Muslims, there is a code of silence that falls over even the most committed officials. A directive that warns them to look away, to make excuses and to blame anything and everything but Islam. To deny the truth and cover up the crime.

While Hassan is one example of the cost of silence, honor killings are another. The willingness of American and European social workers to ignore abuse in Muslim families as "part of their culture" or worse yet to recruit Muslim police officers who often take the victim right back to the abuser, is part of the same Culture of Silence on Islam.

islamAs Nidal Hassan spun his web of hate right in the faces of the men and women who were supposed to stop his kind, Honor Killings develop right in front of the faces of those who are supposed to prevent them. And both Hassan and Honor Killings share a common premise, the belief by Muslims that in the absence of Sharia, or Islamic Law, they have the right to apply Sharia and take the law into their own hands.

While it is easy to try and dismiss Islamic crimes as emotional or disturbed. To assume that a man who opens fire on soldiers or a father who kills his own daughter is crazy, that is an American interpretation of events. One that treats behavior deviating from social conventions as demonstrating psychological or emotional instability. But that presumption ignores the fact that while their behavior may deviate from American social conventions, they accord with the social conventions of many Muslim nations.

Nidal Hassan's behavior might seem deranged to Americans, but is considered normal and praiseworthy back in the mosques of Gaza or the West Bank. While to his classmates, Hassan might have seemed deranged, he was in fact a perfectly normal Palestinian Arab Muslim. The problem was that he happened to be a Palestinian Arab Muslim living and working among Americans. Yet liberals who routinely boil everything down to cultural differences can't seem to grasp that the difference between homicidal mania and religious martyrdom is in this case a religious and cultural difference as well.

Nidal Hassan did not just snap one day. Nor did he act out of anger. Instead he studied the issue. He read the Koran many times. He even tried to distinguish which soldiers were specifically guilty of death and should be killed. Hassan is a mass murderer, but he is an Islamic mass murderer, following codes similar to those used by Al Queda, Hamas and the Taliban. The codes spun off from the same Islamist teachings that have helped create generations of willing suicide bombers and willing terrorists.

The actions of Jordanian, Iraqi and Pakistani men who murder their daughters or sisters may be abnormal by Western standards, but are behaving in a way that is considered acceptable and even praiseworthy in their own cultures, where a family's honor is tied to the chastity of its women, and where individual rights are subsumed within the family and the tribe. Their behavior is wrong by objective human standards, but approved of by their culture and beliefs. And it is unrealistic to imagine that immigration is the same thing as moral transformation.

Liberals who condemn such talk as bigoted, are ignoring the fact that it is about ideology, not about race. Last week the London Times carried an interview with a British former altar boy who had gone to fight with the Taliban and was eager to kill fellow British troops. Adam Gadahn, the Al Queda spokesman, is a grandson of a member of the Board of Directors of the ADL and an editor for The Chronicle Christian. Jose Padilla started out as a member of a Latin street gang. The only thing they had in common was not race, but ideology. The ideology of Islam.

islam_-_ukMuslims may be from any race or ethnicity, but what they have in common is a religion of death that is dedicated to imposing Islam by stealth, by deceit and by force across the world. That same ideology has infused the culture of the Muslim world, its music, its heroes, its literature and its politics. A Muslim immigrant to the West carries it along with him, and if he does not, he is likely to become a member of a Wahhabi Mosque that does.

To ignore this and to remain silent about it, is to allow for the triumph of evil. There is no telling how many men and women remained silent as Nidal Hassan moved his way up through the ranks. There is no telling how many more Nidal Hassans there are in the military, in our schools and neighborhoods and all around the country. And the curtain of silence that surrounds them gives them ample room to plot and finally to act.

Silence on Islam kills. It kills because it turns every Muslim atrocity into a surprise attack that is quickly stifled, because Islam is the Cult of Death whose name we dare not speak. And as long as we dare not speak it, evil will triumph.


Scaremongering Muslim Interns, Undermining Democracy

Karin Friedemann

19 November 2009

The Fort Hood massacre media orgy covered up the probably more politically significant story of the attack on Muslim Congressional interns and CAIR by David Gaubatz, who co-authored the Muslim Mafia with fellow Islamophobe and Hoover Media Institute fellow Paul Sperry.

Gaubatz is a long-time professional supplier of neo-con disinformation. He is the sole source of delusional right-wing claims that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and shipped them out of the country — something that even George W. Bush does not believe.

Representatives Sue Myrick (R-NC), John Shadegg (R-AZ), Paul Broun (R-GA), and Trent Franks (R-AZ) publicly endorsed The Muslim Mafia in a Capitol Hill press conference on October 14. The book accuses CAIR (Council for American-Islamic Relations) of espionage and subversive jihad against the USA. On the basis of The Muslim Mafia, the four Congresspersons, whose main support comes from Christian Zionists and the Israel Lobby, accused CAIR of a sinister strategic plan to place Muslim interns into Congressional offices to spy on Congress.

In reality, CAIR is a legitimate educational organisation with missions of defending the right of American Muslims to practice Islam and of educating American non-Muslims about Islam in order to improve Muslim-non-Muslim relations. CAIR’s work differs little from those of other educational advocacy and lobby groups, including those that are pro-Israel.

CAIR helps the US government serve the American public better by putting American Muslims on Capitol Hill so that the voice of their constituency can be heard more clearly. Even if a Muslim intern reported back to CAIR, what could CAIR possibly do? CAIR’s power to direct political resources is at least two orders of magnitude less than those of AIPAC.

AIPAC runs non-partisan institutes throughout American colleges and universities explicitly to recruit interns to spy on congressmen. When interns report back to AIPAC on deviation from pro-Israel orthodoxy, AIPAC springs into action either to intimidate the offender into conformity or to target him for political destruction in a poisoning of the American political process.

Because Gaubatz has long been an Israeli lobby operative, his perception of CAIR’s activities looks like a form of psychological projection of own activities, particularly in regards to his involvement with the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), which advocates arresting Muslims for voluntarily practising Islam:

“Whereas, adherence to Islam as a Muslim is prima facie evidence of an act in support of the overthrow of the US government through the abrogation, destruction, or violation of the US Constitution and the imposition of Shariah on the American people...It shall be a felony punishable by 20 years in prison to knowingly act in furtherance of, or to support the, adherence to Shariah.”

Gaubatz is the former head of SANE’s Mapping Shariah Project: “It is our task to conduct an extensive mapping of all the Islamic day schools, mosques, and other identifiable organisations in the US and to determine which ones teach or preach Islamic law, Shariah. This investigation will also map the leadership of these Muslim organisations and their other affiliations.”

Until CAIR outed his racist anti-democratic political views, SANE’s founder David Yerushalmi was a leading activist in Stop the Madrassa, an anti-Muslim organisation connected with Islamic threat monger Daniel Pipes. Stop the Madrassa mobbed-and-smeared Debby Almontaser over a T-shirt bearing the word “Intifada” until she resigned from her position as principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy.

Gaubatz, Yerushalmi, and Pipes are busy little bees flying all over the place. Silverstein famously received a $4.55 billion 9/11 payment under a double claim on his six-week old World Trade Center insurance policy.

If people like Gaubatz, his friends, his Congressional supporters, and his Zionist funders have their way, not only will the ongoing political prosecutions of Muslim American leaders expand to include practically all Muslims, but the Zionist intelligentsia will also have veto power over anyone seeking to serve in the US government.

Full report at:


Afghan president says terrorists can be beaten

Nov. 19, 2009

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Thursday he believed "international terrorism" in Afghanistan would be beaten.

Karzai spoke Thursday after he was sworn in to a second five-year term following a tumultuous election. He said that the United States would continue to be an important partner in this fight, as would bringing in former Taliban who were ready to renounce terrorism.

He said that Afghanistan's relationship with the United States continued to be friendly and said the Afghan people would never forget the sacrifices of American soldiers.


Former Perlis mufti charged with uncertified teaching


November 19, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin claimed trial at the Gombak Timur Lower Syariah Court to a charge of teaching aspects related to Islam without certification early this month.

Dr Mohd Asri @ Abdul Talib, 38, an Islamic Studies lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia, was charged with committing the offence at a house in Taman Sri Ukay in Ampang between 8.10pm and 9.45pm on Nov 1.

If convicted, he could be fined a maximum RM 3,000 or jailed up to two years or both under Section 119 (1) of the Selangor Islamic Religious Administration Enactment 2003.

Syarie chief prosecutor Abdul Shukor Abdul Hamid said he had applied for the case to be transferred to the Shah Alam Syariah High Court on Nov 12 on grounds that the case would need an accurate interpretation of law by a more experienced judge.

Another reason for the transfer, he said, was because the case had received wide coverage from the media as the accused is an influential person.

However, Dr Mohd Asri’s lawyer Jamal Mohd Lokman Sulaiman objected to the transfer application, saying that the affidavit filed by the prosecution did not follow a proper format.

In rejecting the transfer application, Syarie judge Wan Mahyuddin Wan Muhammad said such an application would only be allowed if the prosecution could provide reasonable grounds on public interest and not based on “individual interest.”

He also said the transfer would only delay the case and prejudice the accused.

The judge set bail at RM3,000 in two sureties and fixed Jan 5 for trial. He also denied an application for a stay order pending an appeal over the transfer ruling. Dr Mohd Asri’s friends later posted bail.


Vande Mataram should be made optional: Tharoor

Ananthakrishnan G

19 November 2009

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Union minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor, who has a penchant for controversy, has called for making the

national song, 'Vande Mataram', optional.

"We've had an unseemly controversy in north about the national song, Vande Mataram. I've always tried to explain to people, yes, the national anthem and the national flag stand high in our Constitution. There are laws protecting them. The national song, like the national sport, is optional. Sing it out of respect for the motherland. Do not sing it if you do not want to. No one forces you," Tharoor said addressing a gathering at the CSI Christ Church here on November 15. The event was in connection with 150 years of the church.

Tharoor's comments gain significance in Kerala in light of the furore over Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind's fatwa against Vande Mataram being sung by Muslims. According to clerics, certain verses of the song composed by late Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay were against Islam's tenets. The BJP was quick to slam Tharoor.


Prominent Muslims oppose Jamiat group’s stand on Vande Mataram

They also condemn bid by ‘Hindu right wing forces’ to impose its recitation

NEW DELHI: A group of concerned Muslim public personalities, leaders and intellectuals has come out strongly against the recent move of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (M group) to revive the controversy over the singing of Vande Mataram. They also condemned the attempts of the ‘Hindu right wing forces’ to impose its recitation as a test of one’s sense of patriotism.

Pointing out that the debate on the issue had been settled way back in 1930s — with the consent of the then leadership of the Jamiat — that controversial portions of the song would not be sung, the group said the attempt to revive the controversy was unnecessary.

“We neither believe that Vande Mataram is a test case of someone’s patriotism, nor do we agree with the Jamiat interpretation that reciting the song would endanger one’s faith,” the group said in a statement.

Among the hundreds of signatories to the statement are lyricist Javed Akhtar, film actor and director Naseeruddin Shah, film director Saeed Akhthar Mirza, actor Shabana Azmi and social activist Shabnam Hashmi.

The Jamiat’s demand that Shariat norms be observed for Muslim girls after they reached the age of 10 “is a retrogressive move not only to isolate girls from the mainstream of national education, but also to keep them confined in a secluded sectarian atmosphere. It is shocking to demand Shariat norms in education for girls or for any segment of society in a secular State.”

They objected to Jamiat’s advice to Muslim students not to join government or non-government schools as they would get isolated.

This was an indirect attempt to keep Muslim students away from mainstream education, the leaders said. “[this] is exactly what Hindutva forces want. It will not only keep the community backward, but would also discourage Muslims from taking to education for the fear of unnecessarily losing ‘Islamic values’. We condemn it in the strongest manner and appeal to Muslims not to heed to such ill-advised moves.”


The Islamic scholar Dr Amina Wadud: For a Progressive Islam

Trisha Sertori


The Islamic scholar, author, imam and activist — Dr Amina Wadud — started life as Mary, a Methodist child of the US borderline Southern State of Maryland in 1952.

Descended from Berber, Arab and African slaves who once answered the Islamic call to prayer, generations later Wadud would be born to an open-minded Methodist pastor.

She grew up witnessing African Americans sawing off the shackles of racial inequality during an often brutal period of US history.

As a 16-year-old, Wadud would have watched in horror the assassination in Memphis of Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

Perhaps it was this monumental tragedy in the formative years of an African American, who had tasted too often racism’s bitter fruit that led her in later life to work toward justice and equality with the foundation of that equality, housed in Islam’s sharia which translates as justice.

Her father’s questioning mind led Wadud to examine religious doctrines and philosophies from early in life.

“I was closer to my father than my mother. I got a lot of inspiration from him on the sacred. I was a seeker and practiced Buddhism for a year, then I started reading about Islam and that’s where I am now,” says Wadud.

This scholar and feminist, who was a panelist during the interfaith International Bali Mediators Festival last weekend,  is perhaps best-known internationally for her leading of Friday prayers at a New York church in 2005 — like all women, Wadud was banned from leading the mixed-gender Jumu’ah prayer in mosques.

She is also well-known for her progressive position within Islam and seeking justice for women under sharia. 

Her first book, Qur‘an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman’s Perspective, and its sequel, Inside the Gender Jihad: Women’s Reform in Islam, are seen as definitive texts in progressive Islamic thought on the role of women in Islam.

“I’m talking about the subtleties of reforming the [Islamic] laws for equality and justice, not just for today but forever. My first book is on the Koran and attempts to address the tension in certain Koranic passages, of justice – the interpretation of justice, or Musawah,” says Wadud,

A visiting professor at Gadjah Mada University’s Center for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies in Yogyakarta, Wadud says Indonesia is one of the leading nations on progressive Islamic thinking, well in advance of the “lazy” Liberal Islamism of the United States, where Islam is the fastest growing religion.

Full report at:


Kashmir: Track II initiatives lead to Thaw in the Valley

19 November 2009

Union home minister P Chidambaram had hinted some weeks ago that the government wanted to discuss Kashmir with the concerned parties outside the glare of media. Track II initiatives involving senior Indian and Pakistani officials are currently on in Bangkok. Indian officials and a section of the Hurriyat Conference have met in New Delhi though details of the discussions have been held back from the public.

The intricate matrix of Kashmir talks involves representatives of New Delhi, Islamabad, and a section of the Kashmiri separatists. The political mainstream in the Valley and separatist groups working outside the Hurriyat platform are also contributing to the climate of debate by espousing their views in public forums in J&K. The separatist opinion in the Valley too has started to unravel. The Mirwaiz faction of the Hurriyat hopes that a tripartite dialogue involving New Delhi, Islamabad and Srinagar is possible and could pave the way for a New Delhi-Srinagar pact endorsed by Islamabad. The contours of such a pact, it believes, could be worked out of General Pervez Musharraf's four-point proposal to resolve the Kashmir dispute. A radical section of the Hurriyat led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani is opposed to talks with New Delhi. The only solution acceptable to them seems to be a merger with Pakistan. A third section has revived the idea of an independent J&K. The political mainstream including the National Conference and the People's Democratic Party have come up with their own proposals arguing for various levels of autonomy to the state.

However, it must be clear to everyone that a solution to the Kashmir issue has to be worked out without necessitating a change in the present national boundaries. Also, New Delhi and Islamabad can't be expected to accept any dilution of sovereignty over their territory. Similarly, the call to return to the pre-1953 status of Jammu and Kashmir is a non-starter, simply because the world has changed a lot since then. Institutional linkages built between Srinagar and New Delhi can't be undone even though these can be transformed to make the relations between the J&K state and the Indian Union truly federal.

The focus of a political solution should be the demilitarisation of the region. This could happen simultaneously with the creation of reasonably open borders between Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir. Trade and travel must be made easier so that trust is built between governments and populations across borders. The current dialogue process, hopefully, will help realise some of these achievable goals.


Muslim women are still not taken seriously: Farida Khanam

19 November 2009

By Yoginder Sikand

Farida Khanam is Associate Professor at the Department of Islamic Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. Daughter of the well-known Islamic scholar, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, she has translated more than sixty of her father’s books into English, besides being the author of several books on Islam. In this interview with Yoginder Sikand for, she reflects on issues related to Islam, Muslim women and patriarchy.

TCN: Almost all well-known Indian Muslim scholars who write on Islamic issues, including on matters related to Islam and women, are men. As one of the very few Indian Muslim women who write on Islamic issues, how do you account for this?

FK: You have a valid point here. Very few Muslim women writers have received the attention they deserve. Most of them write fiction. Among them there are hardly any of note who write on Islamic issues, including on matters related to Islam and women. One reason for this is, quite simply, that Muslim women writers do not receive proper encouragement and appreciation from their men, their families and from the wider society. Generally speaking, women continue to be looked upon as commodities, not as life partners of equal worth and capacity. They are still seen, and defined by, what are expected to be their domestic roles, as wives and mothers, and as having no public role. There is still this deep-rooted belief that education for women is simply a means to get a ‘good’, wealthy husband. In fact, many Muslim women continue to be conditioned to believe that being subjugated by their husbands is their fate, that faithfully serving their husbands, no matter how they are treated, is their path to salvation. Given all this, how can you expect our women to be intellectually productive?

Muslim women and their intellectual abilities and development are still not taken seriously. The situation is particularly pathetic in north India, where Muslim elite culture continues to remain steeped in medieval, backward-looking, feudal traditions. In my view, this has to do with culture rather than with Islam per se. The dominant interpretations and understandings of Islam here have been heavily moulded by the deep-rooted patriarchal, feudal culture and mind-set. This has also to do with the heavy influence of traditional, patriarchal Hindu culture on most Indian Muslims. But, while patriarchy has been forcefully challenged by educated Hindu women, Muslim women, on the whole, remain much more backward because, compared to the Hindus, the Muslims in India lag considerably behind in terms of modern education.

TCN: You, too, come from a feudal family. How is it, then, that you were able to overcome that barrier?

Full report at:


Pakistan warns against early US withdrawal from Afghanistan

November 19, 2009

* World urged to ask India to resume stalled talks on Kashmir

LONDON: Pakistan on Wednesday warned Washington that a hasty and ill-planned US pullout from Afghanistan could be disastrous for the region.

Speaking at the 55th annual session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Edinburgh, Senator Nayyer Husain Bokhari dispelled Western misgivings about Pakistan’s commitment to the war on terrorism. Bokhari, who is leading Pakistan’s delegation at the assembly, drew the world’s attention towards the Kashmir dispute, saying it was a perpetual source of regional insecurity and instability. He called upon the world to urge India to resume stalled negotiations for the resolution of the outstanding issue. Keeping in view Pakistan’s legitimate security concerns, the NATO conference adopted two amendments in draft resolutions, which related to the insertion of a paragraph urging India and Pakistan to reopen dialogue on Kashmir and the deletion of a negative reference expressing ambiguity over Pakistan ’s stance towards extremists. The conference also appreciated Pakistan ’s pivotal role in efforts to eliminate terrorism. Earlier Senator Bokhari held meetings with NATO PA President John Tanner and Air Marshal Christopher Harper, deputy commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command.

During his meetings, the senator underscored the need for NATO’s long-term commitment in Afghanistan and cautioned that any premature withdrawal of allied support would risk a re-emergence of terrorist networks. He said the international community must fulfil its material and non-material pledges and commitments made in relation to Pakistan and Afghanistan and sought their support in strengthening Pakistan’s democratic process and improvement of governance and institution building. app\11\19\story_19-11-2009_pg7_37


19 killed in courthouse bombing in NW Pakistan


November 19, 2009

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a courthouse in northwestern Pakistan on Thursday, killing 19 people in the latest attack in an onslaught by Islamist militants retaliating against an army offensive near the Afghan border.

The bombing was the seventh militant strike in less than two weeks in and around Peshawar, the largest city in the northwest. The attacks have killed more than 80 people.

The bomber, who arrived in a taxi, was being searched by police officers at the gate of the city's lower court when he detonated explosives on his body, government official Sahibzada Anees said.

Several damaged motorbikes were strewn about the site, on the main Khyber Road, and firefighters sprayed water on a charred, smoking white car.

Dr. Saib Gul of the city's Lady Reading Hospital said 19 people, including three policemen, were killed and 51 were wounded.

"These attacks will not deter us in our fight against these beasts who are killing our children," said Bashir Ahmad Bilour, senior minister of the North West Frontier Province.

The army launched its offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan in mid-October. It has retaken many towns in the region, but the militants say they avoided fighting and will now begin a guerrilla campaign.

The United States has welcomed the offensive, but wants the army to do more against the insurgents in the border area blamed for violence across the border in Afghanistan.

Abdul Aziz, a restaurant owner in Peshawar, said business was down because of the rash of attacks but he expressed solidarity with the government's efforts.


"Today Peshawar is like a fort under attack ... each and every road and street of the city is barricaded and there's no more hustle-bustle at the bazaar," he said. "But after all these sacrifices, we want the government to end this menace of terrorism once and for all."

Pakistan officials flagged the offensive in South Waziristan several months before it actually began, which Bilour said allowed the militants to escape and plan the current wave of terror.

"Unfortunately the announcement of the operation in Waziristan prior to the actual operation caused this problem," he said. "They (the militants) are hiding in villages surrounding Peshawar and make their way in despite security."

Since the beginning of October, more than 400 people have been killed in bombings and militant raids on government, civilian and Western targets in the country, most of them in the northwest.

Still, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani insisted most militant commanders were either killed or on the run.

"They are using the weapons they have scattered here and there," he said. "God willing, it will take some time, but I assure you things will return to normal soon."

The bomb explosion occurred hours after missiles fired from a suspected U.S. drone killed three suspected militants in Shana Khuwara village in North Waziristan, another region close to the Afghan border region where al-Qaida and Taliban hold sway.

The missiles hit a house owned by a local tribesman just after midnight, two intelligence officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Ahmed Noor Wazir, who witnessed the attack, said rescuers pulled three dead bodies and four badly wounded men from the rubble of the house, which was being used by Taliban militants.

Shana Khuwara village is not far from the border with South Waziristan. Many militants are believed to have fled to North Waziristan to escape the fighting, which killed seven insurgents in the past 24 hours, the army said in a statement Thursday.

The suspected drone strike was the third since Pakistan launched the offensive in mid-October. The pace of the attacks has slowed since the operation began, possibly to avoid the perception that the U.S. is aiding the Pakistani army with the strikes.

Anti-American sentiment is pervasive throughout Pakistan, and the drone strikes are unpopular because they often kill innocent civilians.


U.S. officials rarely discuss the missile strikes, and although Pakistan's government publicly condemns them as violations of its sovereignty, many analysts believe the two countries have a secret deal allowing them.


Not every Muslim is a terrorist threat

by Jonathan Eberle

November 18, 2009

America has witnessed some dark days in its history — days when blood was spilled, tears were shed and flags flew at half-mast to honor the dead. When Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire on his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, it was one of those days. Twelve unsuspecting servicemen and women and one civilian were killed, and 42 others were wounded.

This would probably be recognized as a simple tragedy were it not for the fact that the shooter is a Muslim.

This event is a cause for national mourning, but it has become something else: an occasion to unleash anti-Muslim hatred against those practicing the Islamic faith in the United States and abroad.

The rhetoric is similar, if less pervasive, to the talk about Muslims we heard in this country after the 9/11 attacks. Even the Senate jumped on the bandwagon; Sen. Joe Lieberman announced his intention to launch a congressional investigation to determine if the shooting could be classified as a terrorist attack.

The term “terrorist” conjures up images of suicide bombers and RPG-wielding insurgents hiding out in the mountains of Afghanistan.

It also serves as a convenient way to marginalize and demonize a whole group of people the American public sees as supporting terrorism. This is the same kind of misguided, racist thinking that led to the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans during WWII.

I won’t speculate on Major Hasan’s motives — that’s for the investigators to determine, not for the public or the media to make up. It is too early to classify this incident as anything other than a tragic loss of life. To start throwing around intolerant Bush-era rhetoric is ignorant.

Full report at:


Indonesia's anti-terrorism unit warns of new cells

Thu Nov 19, 2009

By Olivia Rondonuwu

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia still faces a key risk of new militant attacks as Islamic radicals have set up new cells in recent years and some bomb experts remain at large, the head of the country's anti-terrorism unit said on Thursday.

Police have killed or captured a string of suspected militants, including Southeast Asia's most-wanted fugitive, Noordin Mohammad Top, since suicide bombings on two luxury hotels in Jakarta in July shattered a four-year lull in attacks.

But Saud Usman Nasution, head of the country's U.S. trained anti-terrorism unit, Detachment 88, said new attacks could occur at any time in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

"Whenever they have a chance, they will launch them," Nasution, who rarely talks to the media, told reporters.

"Many terrorists responsible for bombings in Indonesia are still at large. Many of them are still preparing themselves, it seems, and many new cells have been formed," he said.

Those on the run, he said, included expert bomb makers.

He refused to elaborate because he said the information could be sensitive for police operations in the field.

Nasution said that since 2000 police had detained 455 militants, of which 352 had been convicted.

More than 200 had been released from jail, while 12 militants were still in police detention facing a legal process, he added.

The killing of some key militants including Top, who claimed to head al Qaeda in Southeast Asia, could also encourage other militants to return to the country, he said.

Such figures, he said, included Umar Patek and Dulmatin, both accused of having a role in the 2002 Bali bombings and believed to be on the run in the Philippines.

Nasution said police were still investigating a possible link between militant groups in Indonesia and al Qaeda after the arrest in August of a Saudi man and the owner of an Indonesian radical website and magazine.

Al Qaeda helped fund the 2002 Bali bombings and the 2003 J.W. Marriott hotel bombings in Jakarta, which killed scores of Indonesians and Westerners, Nasution said.

A string of bombings in Indonesia since 2000 has been blamed on Jemaah Islamiah, a regional militant network, although violent splinter groups such as the one led by Top are now believed to be the key threats for new attacks.


TEHRAN - Spanish translator laments improper translations of Islamic texts

November 19, 2009

TEHRAN -- Jafar Gonzales, translator of the Quran into Spanish said that Spanish Islamic texts do not find ways into the libraries of Spain because of their improper translation.

Participating in the second day of an international seminar of Iranian-Spanish cultural dialogue with the central theme “Religion in Spain” on Wednesday, Gonzales discussed Spanish Islamic texts and said, “Almost 500 million people speak Spanish, the second most frequently spoken language in the world after English.

“There have not been many translations of Islamic texts into Spanish over the past 30 years, but lately there has been more research in this direction,” he remarked.

Gonzales who has been living in Qom for 10 years learning Persian and Arabic languages, added, “There has been a kind of fear toward Islam in the country over the past 500 years avoiding the increase in the number of Islamic texts that have been translated.

“In the first part of the 20th century, a Christian cleric began his research on Islam, helping to increase the number of Islamic texts translation,” he explained.

He later mentioned that almost 500 books from the Sunni sources and 50 by the Shiites have so far been translated into Spanish, adding, “Unfortunately some of the texts do not possess world-class quality.”

Gonzales has completed four translations of the Holy Quran into Spanish over the past few years.

The University of Tehran hosted the first day of the seminar and the program was held at the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization (ICRO) on the second day. Several Iranian and Spanish scholars gave lectures at the 2-day seminar.


Gateway of India's pride is cops' dorm

Bella Jaisinghani

19 November 2009

MUMBAI: Even as elaborate ceremonies are being planned at the Gateway of India to mark a year since the 26/11 terror attacks, Mumbai's signature

Gateway of India

A year after 26/11, this is the state of Mumbai's iconic monument. It's home to a platoon of 30 State Reserve Police Force jawans who have been entrusted with the job of guarding the nearby Taj Mahal hotel.

landmark has become an unlikely dormitory for policemen who have been assigned to guard the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower.

Bereft of proper boarding and lodging arrangements, an entire platoon of 30 jawans from the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) has been living inside the heritage monument. They were assigned the spot by the Colaba police, which governs the jurisdiction of the Taj.

The jawans make up the team that mans four bunkers inside the hotel. Forced to adapt the monument for use as living quarters, they have covered the arches with plastic sheets to keep out the rain and have driven nails into the walls to hang clotheslines. Uniforms, boxer shorts and vests are strung along one wall, framed by a black plastic curtain that covers an arch.

Tourists have yet to be allowed inside the structure even though the Rs 1.9- crore restoration work on the heritage structure has been completed. But as tourists circle the monument, some of them cock a snook at the array of travel bags, plastic bottles, linen and footwear strewn around on the floor. "We do know that it looks messy but we have only one van to call ours, which we use for changing our clothes and travelling,'' said one of the jawans. "If they jeer at us we ask them to refer the matter to our superiors.''

The DIG of the SRPF, Ashok Dongre, says that the task of deploying the jawans is entrusted to the Mumbai police. "Of course, as far as welfare issues like proper food and accommodation facilities are concerned, we will look into them,'' he said.

Likewise, the state department of archaeology and museums which is the custodian of the monument is preparing to despatch a team to the site. "I have instructed my staff to visit the site and report back to me,'' said department director Meena Joshi.

Although the jawans have been living at the Gateway of India for the last two months, the Colaba police, under whose jurisdiction they are serving at present, said this is a temporary arrangement that will be lifted shortly given that the Navy plans a 26/11 commemoration on the site. "In any case, what is the fuss over a string of clothes? The policemen are not causing trouble to anybody, they are in fact protecting the monument,'' said Sr PI Anand Keshav Ingle. "I admit it looks a little shabby but where else do we house a platoon of 30 men with no municipal school or garden nearby?''


Terror suspect held with no bail, Judge cites ties to Al Qaeda

By Shelley Murphy

November 19, 2009

A federal magistrate judge ordered yesterday that a Sudbury man remain jailed until his trial on terrorism charges, citing evidence that he has “a strong allegiance’’ to Al Qaeda and would pose a danger if released on bail.

Tarek Mehanna “has demonstrated his ongoing support of terrorism, both by his own recorded statements and by investing his time and effort in promoting terrorism,’’ US Magistrate Judge Leo T. Sorokin wrote in a 13-page ruling. “No condition or combination of conditions mitigates the serious risk of danger Mehanna poses.’’

J.W. Carney Jr., the Boston lawyer who represents Mehanna, said: “I am disappointed in the decision, but we are not discouraged in our defense of Tarek. We look forward to a trial where the jurors can base their decision on all of the evidence and not just on excerpts selected by the prosecutors.’’

No trial date has been set.

Mehanna, 27, has been in custody since his Oct. 21 arrest and has pleaded not guilty in federal court in Boston to an indictment charging him with providing and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, and making false statements to federal agents.

Prosecutors allege that Mehanna and a friend, Ahmad Abousamra, 28, formerly of Mansfield, traveled to Yemen and tried to join a terrorist training camp but were rejected, then plotted to shoot shoppers at a suburban mall but scrapped the plan because they could not get automatic weapons. They also are accused, but not charged, with plotting to kill two unidentified government officials.

Abousamra, who has been indicted with Mehanna, is believed to be in Syria, according to court filings.

Full report at:


'Europe ‘Not-so-Friendly’ with Muslims'

Srinagar, Nov 18, KONS- The Kashmir University vice-chancellor, Prof Riyaz Punjabi, on Wednesday urged scholars to work together to change the “not-so-friendly” perspective of the European nations about Islam and Muslims.

Addressing academics, scholars and students at a national-level seminar on Arabic language and literature, he said, “When Europe was in utter darkness, the people there resorted to Arabic language to safeguard their knowledge and It was through the efforts of the Arab scholars that the great renaissance in Europe became possible.”

Prof Punjabi, however, said the European scholars accepted and assimilated Islamic knowledge without “even properly acknowledging their original beneficiaries.” “They have even distorted the names of many scholars while they refer to them,” he said.

The four-day seminar titled “Contribution of Kashmir to Arabic language and literature”, is organised by the varsity’s Department of Arabic.

Prof Punjabi said there was need to work together and change the “not-so-friendly” perspective of the European nations about Islam and its people. “It is here that the scholars have a role to play in removing all the misconceptions about the religion,” he said, adding Kashmir has contributed immensely to the promotion of Arabic language and literature. He said the scholars must visit the libraries in Kashmir to have a first hand account of this contribution.

In his keynote address, noted Arabic scholar, Prof Zubair Ahmad  Farooqui from Jamila Milia Islamia University, New Delhi, asserted that Kashmir continued to be a seat of learning and excellence for long now.

“The arrivals from Iran, Turkey and Central Asia brought to the Valley not only the new concerns about the changing paradigms, but also initiated the process of higher learning,” he said, adding, “Amir Kabir Mir Syed Ali Hamadani, Mir Muhammad Hamadani, Bulbul Shah (Syed Sharafudin Ardabeli) and others helped in the upliftment of Kashmir and Kashmiris socially, culturally. They infused the new spirit of learning and made the minds more inquisitive for attaining more and new knowledge.”

Full report at:


Jihad Watch seeks realistic handle on terrorism

Chad Groening


Islamic crescent symbol smallAn author and terrorism expert believes there is an increasing gap between government and media elites and common-sensed Americans when it comes to the approach on how to confront the threat of Islamic terrorism.

In the wake of the November 5th massacre at Fort Hood, Texas, the Obama administration and mainstream media worked especially hard to "not jump to any conclusions" about accused killer Major Nidal Hassan. Hassan is a devout Muslim who had voiced strong objections to the idea of Muslims going to war against other Muslims. The Army psychiatrist had also reportedly made several contacts with a radical Imam who called the Fort Hood attack that left 14 dead "acceptable" under Islam.

Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch, says that despite this evidence, some elites continue to tow the PC line.

"I think there's an increasing gap between the government and media elites and what people know just by exercising their common sense," Spencer contends. "And the people are getting fed up with the politically correct lock-step and the misinformation and disinformation that's coming from the mainstream media."                

Spencer does not believe there to be any prospect of U.S. elites changing their PC attitudes in dealing with Islam.

"No amount of information [and] no amount of evidence is going to convince those who've decided that Islam is a religion [of] peace that they're wrong," the Jihad Watch director explains. "And so I would hope ultimately that the American people will be able to elect different leaders who will face the Jihad threat more realistically than the ones we have now."


Saudi Arabia and Iran fighting proxy war in northern Yemen

November 18, 2009

    * Obama: Al-Qaeda, bin Laden will not operate with impunity

    * Today: Korean clash, Saudi strikes and endangered koalas

    * An unusual weapon in the war against extremism

    * Saudi Arabia rehabilitating Al-Qaeda suspects

    * Iranian scientist still missing after June pilgrimage

    * Amid Iran nuclear talks, don’t forget human rights

    * Reading the Middle Eastern press on Iran’s nuclear plant

    * Q&A: A Saudi woman’s perspective on polygamy

    * Iran’s abuses extend far beyond mistreating protesters

    * Israel simulates war in nationwide “doomsday” drill

A Yemeni government tank used against Houthi rebels in the north. Photo: Al Jazeera video

For the past 15 years, Dwight Bashir has worked on international conflict, human rights and religious freedom issues. He is a senior advisor for an independent U.S. commission focusing on international religious freedom. The views expressed here are his own personal views.

A war of words is heating up between Iran and Saudi Arabia over an ongoing armed conflict in northern Yemen between Shi’a Houthi rebels and Yemeni security forces. This week, Iran accused Saudi Arabia of state-sponsored “Wahhabi terrorism” in Yemen, while the most senior Saudi cleric accused Houthi rebels of being backed by Iran to spread Shi’a Islam in “Sunni Islam’s heartland.”

Both Yemen and Saudi Arabia accuse Iran of providing financial and/or military support to the rebels. Iran denies any kind of support for the rebels.

The conflict in Yemen is complex — with numerous interlocking factors, such as underdevelopment, limited resources, tribal tensions, political exclusion and security concerns. Some have posited that the conflict is exacerbated by the fact that Iran and Saudi Arabia are engaging in a proxy war on Yemeni soil.

The truth is that for 30 years both Iran and Saudi Arabia have spent billions of dollars exporting competing religio-political ideologies in the region and globally, while committing egregious human rights violations at home to defend and bolster their respective ideologies.

Ever since Saudi Arabia entered the conflict two weeks ago after Houthi rebels crossed into Saudi territory from northern Yemen and allegedly killed two Saudi border guards, tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have risen almost daily.

UN officials have estimated that, since 2004, as many as 175,000 people have been displaced in northern Yemen. And at least 240 villages in Saudi Arabia have been evacuated in recent weeks.

To better understand the conflict, it is important to understand religious demographics in Yemen. Between 40-45% of the Yemeni population of 23 million are Shi’a Muslims, mostly from the Zaydi school of Shi’a Islam founded more than 1,000 years ago.

Full report at:


Tinley Park woman charged with hate crime for tugging on woman's head scarf

By Kim Janssen and Joel Hood

November 19, 2009

Tinley Park woman faces charge after hassling Muslim in store, police say

A suburban Chicago woman has been charged with a hate crime for allegedly yanking the head scarf of a Muslim woman in Tinley Park two days after the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas.

Valerie Kenney, 54, a bank teller from Tinley Park, appeared at the Bridgeview Courthouse on Wednesday and was released on $5,000 bail. If convicted of the felony, Kenney faces up to 3 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. She is due back in court Dec. 3.

"I think (a charge of hate crime) sends the appropriate message that these kinds of race-based lash-outs are unacceptable," said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "Every time something like (the Fort Hood shootings) happens, the Muslim community prepares for a backlash."

Amal Abusumayah, 28, told police she was shopping at a Tinley Park grocery store Nov. 7 when a middle-age woman passed her in the aisle and made a loud reference to the killings at Fort Hood.

"She said, 'The man that did that shooting in Texas was from the Middle East,' in a really loud and angry voice," Abusumayah told the Tribune last week. Minutes later, while Abusumayah was paying for her groceries at a self-checkout, the woman approached her from behind and tugged hard on her blue and beige head scarf, she said.

"I turned around and looked at her, and she walked out of the store," she said. "My scarf didn't come off because it was on very tight, but my head was tugged back."

Abusumayah, who was born in the United States and raised in Berwyn by Palestinian immigrants, followed the woman into the lot and called police, who arrested Kenney within minutes.

Full report at:,0,7710648.story


Muslim student cleared over bladed flagellator

A Muslim student caught in London with a bladed flagellator used by Shias to ritually scourge themselves has been cleared of possessing it as an offensive weapon.

Mohsin Khan, 21, who said he had been beating himself regularly with them since the age of six, had been driving to a West End nightclub with a friend when he was pulled over as part of a routine police check in Charing Cross Road.

His car was searched and the flagellator - a handle with five metal chains each tipped with a sharp 10in blade - was found under his seat.

Officers also discovered a knuckle-duster in a door pocket.

The second-year law student, of Alcester Road, Birmingham, was subsequently charged with two counts of possessing an offensive weapon on January 30 last year.

But he told London's Southwark Crown Court that the flagellator was a "sacred implement" called a Zanjeer.

He explained it was used by Shia Muslims to whip themselves during Muharram, the month of mourning - something he had been doing "since I was six".

Khan, a former pupil at one of Birmingham's King Edward VI Grammar Schools, and currently studying at Queen Mary College, London, told jurors he had put the flagellator in the car with the intention of using it on himself 11 days before he was stopped.

But he ended up using another one instead and forgot his was still under the driver's seat.

The jury, which was shown two photographs of his bloodied and scarred back following a previous self-beating session, decided he was telling the truth and cleared him of possessing the Zanjeer as an offensive weapon.

Copyright © 2009 The Press Association. All rights reserved.


China wants 'improved' Indo-Pak ties, but denies interference

Saibal Dasgupta

19 November 2009

BEIJING: The Chinese foreign ministry on Thursday gave the impression that it was merely interested in the gradual improvement in relations between India and Pakistan but was not trying to interfere with the process.

Blog: Laugh off Obama's comment on China's role in South Asia

The indication came from “China hopes for a gradual improvement in the relations between India and Pakistan. As long as it is good for the stability of the region, China will support the relevant moves,” Qin Gang, the spokesman of the Chinese foreign ministry, said at the regulator press briefing on Thursday.

Qin was replying to a question about what China considered its role to be in the India-Pakistan relationship. The question emerged from a part in the joint statement issued by China and United States, which said that the two countries supported improvement of relations between India and Pakistan.

“We believe that India and Pakistan are important countries in South Asia” Qin said and went on to explain that China highly values its own relationship with them.

Qin said there was no talk about the India-US nuclear agreement during the visit of the US president Barack Obama, which ended on Wednesday.

“To the best of my knowledge, this issue was not touched upon during two Presidents discussions,” he said. But he reiterated China’s position saying that the “relevant countries” are free to enjoy the right for peaceful use of nuclear energy as along as they adhered to the objective of non-proliferation.

He did not give a direct reply to a question on whether China had dispute on the land boundary with just one country, India. Qin said that the dispute with India was “more pronounced” but he did not have information about land border disputes with other countries.

This is interesting because the Chinese media reported on Thursday that China has settled its land boundary dispute with Vietnam, It had earlier said that the boundary dispute with Russia has been fully settled.

Qin said China struck to its principal on “common but differentiated responsibilities” among the rich and developing countries on the issue of emissions and climate change. Beijing was involved in fruitful discussions with the United States for resolving the climate problem, but it was not likely to deviate from its stand on the issue, he said.


Tight bond needed with Malaysia

November 20, 2009

by Bae Myung-bok

Malaysia, as a modern and multi-cultural financial hub, serves as a torchbearer for the Islamic world.

Paris is not France.

That is something I often heard during my correspondent days in Paris. To talk about a country after seeing just the capital would be no different than blind men saying they knew an elephant after touching only different parts of its body. Still, I wish to remark on Malaysia from a short visit to Kuala Lumpur, because the capital made a deep impression on me.

Anyone who had considered Malaysia as just a tropical Southeast Asian destination would immediately drop their jaws once they set foot in the ultra-modern and expansive Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

The award-winning airport serves as the regional aviation hub and its services are ranked among the best, along with the airports in Incheon, Singapore and Hong Kong.

You can see the Petronas twin skyscrapers signaling downtown from the expressway that conveniently links the airport to any part of the Malay Peninsula.

The 88-story, 452-meter-tall (1,483-foot-tall) buildings had been the world’s tallest until the record was broken by Taiwan’s landmark financial center in 2004. The towers, each erected by Korean and Japanese builders, symbolize the country’s economic rise and prosperity.

The country’s per capita income is only $8,118, but Kuala Lumpur stands equal to any world-class city in looks, with its lush tropical landscape and posh, postmodern skyline.

Most impressive was its global cosmopolitan ambience.

Everyone spoke English. Although Bahasa Malaysia is the national tongue, English is spoken as the first language by many.

Local participants in a forum cosponsored by the Korea Foundation and the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia all spoke fluent English.

Foreigners rarely feel out of place in this multicultural, multiracial and multifaith society. Many multinational companies base their headquarters in Kuala Lumpur because of this accessibility.

Despite its diversity and religious freedom, the country at heart is an Islamic nation.

The Malay that form the largest community practice and follow Muslim customs and culture. Women cover themselves with scarves while outdoors and the local press notifies the public of daily prayer times. The Bible and Koran are placed side by side in hotel rooms.

Each room also has an arrow pointing in the direction of Mecca. All food specifies whether it is edible for Muslims. Middle Eastern tourists prefer Malaysia as a shopping and vacation destination because they feel at home there.

Foreign tourists here totaled 22 million last year, tripling the number of visitors to Korea.

Full report at:


Mahesh Bhatt writes to PM over son Rahul's 'great betrayal'

19 November 2009

MUMBAI: Mahesh Bhatt has written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in which the filmaker said he felt a sense of "great betrayal" over the manner in which his son was handled by investigators despite sharing information about US terror suspect David Headley.

"In the letter, I have expressed my deep anguish over the manner in which the investigation was handled after my son Rahul voluntarily shared information with the police," Bhatt said.

"I have narrated the chain of events I and my family had to go through after my son did what was expected of him as a responsible Indian citizen," the film veteran said.

"We woke up to a sense of great betrayal and irreversible damage. The Prime Minister should intervene and set the right example by condemning whatever happened. Otherwise such events would discourage any citizen from participating in the fight against the menace," he said.

Alleging that the investigating agencies had leaked selective information to the media, which projected his son "in a wrong way", Bhatt said taking advantage of the situation right wing forces had stopped screening of his movie 'Tum Mile' in Gujarat.

Bhatt said he had not asked for any security but reported to Mumbai police about the level of threat he, his office and his movie faced.


US considers response to Iran nuclear snub

19 November 2009

President Barack Obama says the US and its partners are discussing "a package of potential steps" they could take if Iran snubs a uranium enrichment deal.

Mr Obama said Iran needed to get a "clear message" that, if it failed to take advantage of such opportunities, it was "making itself less secure".

Earlier, Tehran indicated it would not accept the offer to ship low-enriched uranium abroad in return for fuel.

It instead proposed carrying out a simultaneous exchange on its territory.

Correspondents say the proposal is very unlikely to be acceptable to the world powers negotiating with Iran over its nuclear programme.

The West fears Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists is nuclear programme is for entirely peaceful purposes.

A meeting of the UN Security Council's permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - plus Germany, will be held on Friday to discuss Iran's response.

On Monday, the UN's nuclear watchdog said it needed "more clarification" about the purpose of a recently declared uranium enrichment facility near the city of Qom.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also said in a new report that the development of the plant raised concerns about other possible secret sites.

'Right approach'

On Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minster Manouchehr Mottaki said his country had misgivings about the deal brokered by the IAEA in October that envisages Iran sending about 70% of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France, where it would be processed into fuel rods for a research reactor in Tehran.

Mr Mottaki suggested Iran would instead agree to exchange its uranium for an equivalent amount of nuclear fuel, but only on its own territory. Tehran wanted to guarantee it would receive fuel it had contracted for, he said.

Responding to the comments, President Obama said the US and its allies had begun discussions "about the importance of having consequences".

"The dual-track approach requires Iran to get a clear message that, when it fails to take advantage of these opportunities, that it in fact is not making itself more secure, it is making itself less secure."

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Govt blames consul in US for Rana visa

19 November 2009

NEW DELHI: US-based Lashkar terrorist Tahawwur Hussain Rana got his visa from the Indian consulate in Chicago without having to go through a

Back ground check. This has raised eyebrows in the home ministry, with officials pointing out that a check is a mandatory requirement in the case of people of Pakistani origin like him.

While consulates worldwide are, according to home ministry sources, required to run a check on the antecedents of visa applications of people of Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Iranian origin, the stipulation was not enforced in the case of Rana with India's consul general in Chicago using his discretionary quota.

According to sources, visas of Rana and his wife Samaraz Rana Akhtar, who accompanied him to India, have 'CG's discretionary quota' stamped on them.

Consul Vishwas Sapkal at the Indian consulate in Chicago told PTI on Wednesday that the Ranas were given visas "after a due scrutiny of the available documents and after following guidelines". He said, "The consulate general of India, Chicago, issued visas to Rana and his spouse as per the established procedure for issuance of visas to persons of Pakistani origin. As per the procedure, no prior clearance from the ministry of home affairs was required in such cases."

Home ministry sources disputed the contention of the consulate, saying the mandatory background check had been in place since 2004.

They agreed that the consul general did have a discretionary jurisdiction, but argued that prevailing security concerns should place a comprehensive scrutiny ahead of all other considerations.

While the issue has not led to a row, home ministry sources have expressed reservation over the way the Ranas managed to get visas under the discretionary quota of the consul general. "Who knows whether he befriended someone at the consulate general the same way as David Coleman Headley befriended Rahul Bhatt in Mumbai," a home ministry functionary remarked.

The dispute comes at a time when there are indications that Sajid Mir, in charge of Lashkar's overseas operations who was in touch with Headley and Rana, may not be in Pakistani custody.

As per initial indications, Pakistan, acting at the FBI's insistence, had detained Mir along with another Lashkar leader, Abdul Rahman Saeed, in charge of the jehadi outfit's activiies in Bangladesh. But sources have come around to feel that it is only Saeed who may be under detention.



By Krishna Kumar

Investigators say Mahesh Bhatt’s naive son failed to spot tell- tale signs as Lashkar operative spoke in coded language on phone

LASHKAR- E- TAYYEBA ( LeT) operative David Coleman Headley used a naïve Rahul Bhatt as an “ unsuspecting cover” while he conducted a reconnaissance tour of all the 26/ 11 targets, investigators said on Wednesday.

Headley, now a prime suspect in the 26/ 11 conspiracy, insisted on taking his “ celebrity friend” Rahul, son of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, to Taj and Trident hotels and Leopold Café on several occasions. These visits took place between November 2006 and March 2008. On November 26, 2008, all three spots came under attack by 10 gunmen who came via the sea route from Pakistan.

Sources in the National Investigation Agency ( NIA) said Headley, a US citizen whose original name was Daoud Gilani, planned the attack for his Pakistan- based handlers by visiting the targets several times along with someone whose company offered a perfect cover and would never arouse suspicion.

Mumbai Police sources said that beyond a basic reconnaissance of the chosen targets, Headley may have been systematically picking targets for attack long before the LeT terrorists set sail for Mumbai. “ He had even told Rahul he wants to spend time at each of the Mumbai landmarks mentioned in the Gregory David Roberts book Shantaram ,” the source said.

Investigators said Rahul had neither any inkling of Headley’s designs nor could he understand the code language the LeT operative used while talking on the phone. Worse, Rahul could not find a pattern to all these visits even after 26/ 11 and Headley’s sudden disappearance.

An investigating officer said: “ When we questioned him, Rahul said Headley often mentioned he was a fan of Shantaram and that he wanted to see all the Mumbai landmarks mentioned in the book. Subsequently, Rahul and sometimes Rahul’s friends accompanied Headley to these places. These are the same landmarks which were attacked on 26/ 11. These were not one- off visits. Headley took Rahul and a few other film personalities to these spots several times.” The officer said that contrary to the Bhatt family’s claim that it didn’t find anything amiss in Headley, Rahul told investigators he found Headley’s behaviour odd at times. “ It is only now that Rahul has realised that Headley spoke on the phone in some code language.” The code words used in Rahul’s presence included “ Mickey Mouse”, “ Allah”, “ Jannat”, “ North”, “ Maal” and “ baraf” ( Hindi for ice). Another word the officers haven’t deciphered yet may have referred to the three top cities in the country.

“ We are not saying Rahul was involved or had any knowledge ( of the conspiracy),” an investigator said. “ But if Headley’s code language did not make him suspicious, he should have at least connected the dots when all the places they visited together in Colaba came under attack. It is unfortunate that Rahul had been so naïve as to ignore the tell tale signs of trouble.” Rahul reportedly never suspected his American friend to be anything other than a fitness freak he met at Moksh, an upmarket gym and wellness place opposite the US consulate in the Breach Candy area in south Mumbai.

Investigators seem to have deciphered what the code words may have meant. “Mickey Mouse” could be a reference to sleeper cells. “Allah” could have been code for a message from someone senior in Headley’s terror hierarchy. “Jannat”, the police say, meant a potential target for a fidayeen attack and “baraf” meant it was ‘cool’ or fine to go ahead with the plot.

The police claim Rahul and Headley’s other friends from the film world knew he was Asian. “He spoke in an American accent, but looked Asian,” an officer said. “We’ve come to know some of the film stars knew Headley was Muslim and was regularly travelling to Pakistan. If that didn’t arouse suspicion, what could?” However, the mystery remains as to why Headley chose to befriend Rahul. An investigator said being with the filmmaker’s son helped Headley gain some ‘ space’ to plan and execute what he had come for.

“ Once Headley befriended Rahul through gym instructor Vilas Warak, he ignored the trainer and showed greater interest in being in touch with Rahul,” an investigator said. “ How would anyone suspect he was conducting a recce while being with the son of one of the biggest directors?” Investigators say Headley had also interacted with a relative of the Bhatt family. The relative and his girlfriend are likely to be questioned.

“ The Bhatts claim we are hounding Rahul and that he came to us voluntarily. This is far from reality. It was only after we reached Headley’s rented Breach Candy house that he came to us. We would have come to know of his friendship with Headley. The Bhatts possibly saw the trouble that lay ahead.” Police sources claim a lawyerturned- politician has been calling up senior officers every day and asking them to not pressure Rahul.


Actor seeks probe into 'false' rumour

Swati Deshpande

19 November 2009

MUMBAI: Upset with rumours linking her to Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Headley, actor Aarti Chhabria on Wednesday lodged a complaint with the Mumbai police commissioner, asking him to investigate the "malicious and false buzz."

Aftermedia reports suggested Chhabria, who has acted in films such as Tum Mere Ho, Shootout at Lokhandwala and Partner, met Headley at a party and went out with him, she approached a law firm. Advocate Hitesh Jain said "false allegations are being made that Aarti Chhabria knew David Headley or dated him." Chhabria has denied that she knew Headley, who worked out at Moksh gym where she was a member, or Rahul Bhatt, who was an instructor there.

Jain said the rumours seek to malign Chhabria's reputation. He said the police must "immediately investigate as to who is spreading these rumours and take action", as they have caused her "tremendous mental and physical agony." She said she was "willing to cooperate with the investigating agency if required."


Barbora remarks invite bouquets and brickbats

Nandita Sengupta

19 November 2009

NEW DELHI: On the face of it, IAF vice chief Air Marshal P K Barbora statements on imposing no-pregnancy conditions for women fighter pilots

smacks of discrimination. However, some sociologists and women activists have found the remark 'not unreasonable' even as detractors argue it is fundamentally flawed, denying women reproductive rights.

Given differences in gender, reasonable restrictions in work culture are kosher. "Honestly speaking, equality does not mean sameness," says lawyer activist Pinky Anand. "Not because of bias, but simply because of differences in physical attributes, one should be open to accepting professional restrictions in aid of the final objective," she says. Blind activism fails its purpose when it's empty ranting especially in professional matters.

"Frankly, you can't avoid certain kind of professional bias in most domains of life. All hangmen in India are men. There's no bias against women, they're simply not interested in the job," says sociologist Ashis Nandy. He adds the US, for all its feminist fervour, barely has 15% women in its medical professions, while in India medicine is a top choice for women with more than 30% doctors being women. "If government believes investing in women fighters is not getting their money's worth if they're out of service because of pregnancy, give them that discretion," he says.

Pregnancy means you're out of cockpit for 9 months plus recovery time. Re-joining needs retraining as well. Shawna Rochelle Kimbrell, the first female African-American fighter pilot had a baby in 2006. A 2008 article on website 174th Fighter Wing says, "Her as yet unresolved challenge is how having a baby fits in with her career progression. Making decision to have a baby could have been career-ending for Major Kimbrell." She is quoted, "When a pilot is out of the jet for that amount of time, retraining is required. This has the potential to be detrimental to a woman's progression and continues to be a challenge."

A July 2009 blog in NYT has a very pregnant woman fighter pilot posing in her gear. Major Stephanie Kelsen is an American fighter pilot who at 37 was pregnant. The blog raises questions that women fighter pilots themselves can face. Is becoming pregnant imposing a glass ceiling on oneself is first poser.

Barbora said, "Anyone can fly a fighter. But the issue is that after spending so much, then not being able to utilize women operationally would not be a prudent thing." Training a fighter pilot costs Rs 11.66 crore. Activist Ranjana Kumari says this exposes the mindset where a woman is seen as solely responsible for raising a family. "Can the father not take leave for the baby's care?" Sociologist Dipankar Gupta adds, "Is cost everything, social correctness nothing?" There's also a fear that this may be used as a tool for exclusion.

But for Nandy, the conditionality Barbora speaks of is a 'transitory stage' matter. Technology is increasingly closing the gap between men and women in terms of physical prowess. In military services it is a matter of time before physically, differences between men and women will be eliminated, he says.


Supreme Court to the rescue of second wives

By Neha Tara Mehta

THE SUPREME Court on Wednesday held that the second wife is also entitled to compassionate appointment in government jobs after the husband’s death as long as the first wife has no objections.

The bench passed the order on an appeal filed by the Karnataka government. The state had challenged a direction of the Karnataka High Court to consider the appointment of Lakshmi, second wife of G. Hanumanthe Gowda, a head constable of the Armed Reserve Police.

Under the Hindu Marriage Act, a man can have only one wife during the subsistence of a marriage. “ When the two wives have come to an understanding, who are you to oppose it? Why should you be bothered if one wife seeks compassionate appointment and another wants the compensatory benefits,” a bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and R. M. Lodha said while dismissing Karnataka government’s appeal.

The apex court rejected the government’s argument that under the Hindu Marriage Act — since a man cannot have two wives during the subsistence of the marriage — the so- called second wife cannot claim any right of appointment by merely entering into an agreement with the first wife.

“ If you are not a party to the agreement, how does it matter? The two wives have reached a settlement,” the bench observed.

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