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Islamic World News ( 5 Nov 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Libyan Leader Gaddafi visits Russia on arms, energy drive

Orange, California: Muslim's suit over scarves in California jail settled

Your Hijab Questions Answered

Dubai: Microfinance programmes reaching out to Muslim women

Arab Paper: ‘Obama’s Historic Intifada’ Allows Islam to ‘Impose its Point of View on World’

Tehran official: Unity essential for Islamic media

Kualalumpur: Public Bank sets up Islamic bank unit

French weekly censored in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria for “attack on Islam”

Washington: Obama or McCain - Muslim Voters

Tehran: Burning flags, Iranians cheer US Embassy takeover

Ankara: Turkey, Lebanon sign cooperation deal on terrorism, crime

London: Al Baraka Islamic Bank Builds on a Long-Term Partnership with Misys Selecting

Al Baraka Islamic Bank Builds on a Long-Term Partnership for its Pakistan Operations

Embassies in Indonesia get bomb threats as Bali bombers' execution nears

Compiled by Syed Asadullah




Libyan Leader Gaddafi visits Russia on arms, energy drive


By Tom Pfeiffer – Wed Oct 29, 6:03 pm ETTRIPOLI (Reuters) – Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi makes his first visit to post-Soviet Russia on Friday, seeking to deepen a budding energy and military partnership with Moscow and counterbalance his fast-expanding relations with the West.


The visit, Gaddafi's first to Moscow since 1985 according to Russia's Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily, is the latest step in a bold push by the former outcast state to accelerate overseas trade and investment for its booming post-sanctions economy.


Examples of that drive include a rapid expansion of a Libyan state holding in Italian bank Unicredit and a growing list of Libyan deals in Africa and Europe, including a refinery in Egypt and a wheat farming agreement in Ukraine.


"Libya wants to increase its overseas exposure and is showing a surprising sophistication about it, given their years of isolation," said Geoff Porter, an analyst at Eurasia Group.


Arms and energy are the focus of the three-day trip. Gaddafi will meet President Dmitry Medvedev six months after welcoming his predecessor and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on the first visit by a Kremlin leader to Libya since 1985.


Russia's Interfax news agency said Libya might agree to buy more than $2 billion worth of Russian weapons during the visit, reviving part of a Cold War-era relationship that saw Moscow arming much of Libya's military.


Libya is interested in buying surface-to-air missiles, fighter aircraft, dozens of helicopters and about 50 tanks, Interfax quoted a source in Russia's arms industry as saying.


Moscow also is seeking rich energy contracts in Libya, owner of Africa's largest oil reserves, and state gas monopoly Gazprom is showing interest in taking part in the construction of a new gas pipeline linking Libya and Europe.




The North African country aims to become a big gas producer and expand production to 3 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) by 2010, with a potential for 3.8 bcfd by 2015 versus 2.7 bcfd now.


In April, Libya and Russia signed agreements on debt, energy, railways and investment, marking a renewed effort by Moscow to compete in a market aggressively contested by Western and Asian companies seeking state infrastructure projects.


Libya has seen a foreign investment rush since 2003, when the U.N. Security Council lifted more than a decade of sanctions imposed for what the West called Libyan support of terrorism.


But at least in public, politics may get equal billing with business, analysts said, noting Gaddafi told Putin in April that the world needed a Russian "superpower" to counter an unbalanced international system -- a reference to U.S. global power.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week "the aim of the visit is to develop bilateral relations and exchange views on regional problems which are of mutual interest."


"Clearly the Russians have been courting Libya on energy, and so you'll have some pipeline politics on this trip, but you'll also have the Gaddafi world view," said Jon Marks, editorial director of industry newsletter Africa Energy.


"Gaddafi sees a multipolar world and he sees the Russians willing to play. This trip shows he's needed and loved," said Marks, noting Libya's drive for influence in Africa and the Arab world had not always lived up to Gaddafi's hopes.


Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Gaddafi in Libya, the first such visit in 55 years, in a move to end years of enmity. But there are no plans as yet for a meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush or his successor.


"It was a historic moment, but it's clear that as far as ties to the U.S. are concerned, there's not going to be a leader-to-leader meeting," Marks said.




The United States is not troubled by Gaddafi's trip, noted a diplomat with deep knowledge of Libyan thinking, saying Tripoli told Washington about it well in advance and that senior Libyan officials see their interests as more allied with the West.


"Basically, there is contained enthusiasm for this there. It's one of those things they feel they must do but they are not all that keen on it," said the diplomat, who spoke on condition that he not be identified.


The diplomat said the Libyans now saw Europe and the United States as more natural partners, were nervous about what he called the "economic aggrandizement of the Putin regime" and hoped, ultimately, to buy weapons from the West as well.


"They feel the Russians, who have long been their preferred providers of military equipment, gouged them on prices (in the past) ... and they don't like to be taken for a ride," he said. "What they would like to do is develop military trade with the West in order to be able to get better equipment but also to get more competitive prices (from) a diversity of suppliers."


(Additional reporting by William Maclean; Editing by John O'Callaghan)



Muslim's suit over scarves in Calif. jail settled

By GILLIAN FLACCUS, Nov. 3, 2008

Orange, Calif. — A Southern California County will allow jailed Muslim women to wear headscarves after settling a lawsuit with a woman who claims that deputies violated her religious freedom by making her remove her Hijab.

The settlement agreement signed by the county last week and released Monday specifies that Muslim women must be provided a private area to remove their headscarves after arrest and must be provided with county-issued headscarves to cover themselves when they are in the presence of men.

The county, which did not admit wrongdoing, will also pay $45,000 in damages. Plaintiff Jameelah Medina will get $10,000 after subtracting attorney fees, said Hector Villagra, director of the Orange County office of the American Civil Liberties Union.

A spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Department did not immediately return a call Monday from The Associated Press.

Medina, 30, was arrested in December 2005 in Pomona for having an invalid train pass. She spent 12 hours in jail but was never prosecuted.

Medina, a business trainer who lives in Rialto, said that during processing she was forced to remove her headscarf in the presence of a male deputy even though she explained that to do so violate her religious beliefs.

"I felt exposed and vulnerable," she said. "I don't think I could have felt more naked even if I had no clothes on."

Medina and her attorneys said the settlement was important because it addressed the county's concerns about safety while respecting Muslims' religious beliefs.

"We had a concern about religious rights and they had a concern about safety. We met halfway to ensure that nothing like this will ever happen again," Villagra said.



Your Hijab Questions Answered

What do you want to know about the way Muslim women dress, the headscarf, and the Hijab? Beliefnet answers your questions here.

BY: Dilshad D. Ali

Young girls wearing Hijab the Hijab, or headscarf, is one of the most noticeable and misunderstood badges of Muslim women. But there’s much more to the Islamic dress code for women than the Hijab. It’s a total package that deals with clothing, behavior, and demeanour. For some Hijab means pairing a headscarf with Western-style clothes. For others it means wearing loose robes as well. Still others add a Niqab, or face veil, to their ensembles.

What do Islam and the Qur’an exactly say about modest clothing for women? What does Islamic dress exactly entail? Why do some Muslim women cover up while others don’t? Are there any dress requirements for Muslim men? Check out our Muslim clothing FAQs for the answers to your burning questions.

What is Hijab?

The word "Hijab" comes from the Arabic "hajaba," which means to conceal or hide from view. In general terms, it refers to Islamic modest dressing for women. But it has come to signify the headscarf, which is the covering many Muslim women use to hide their hair, neck, and often bosom.

What does Islamic dress for women exactly entail?

Islam has no fixed uniform of dress for Muslim women. But there are two requirements, which come from the Qur’an and Hadith (verified sayings of the Prophet Muhammad): First, a woman’s body should be covered such that only her face, hands, and feet are revealed. Secondly, the clothing must be loose enough so that the shape of a woman’s body is not visible.

Other parameters (as stated in Hadiths) are that women shouldn’t dress so as to look like men, women shouldn’t dress in a way similar to those who don’t believe in God, and the clothing should be modest, neither ragged nor overly fancy.

It is important to remember that Islam teaches Muslims that the concept of modest dress doesn’t just mean covering the body, but it also has to do with behaviours, manners, speech, and public appearance. Modesty is a total package, with dress being one part of it.

Why is covering the head important?

Strictly speaking, covering the hair is just one part of a Muslim woman’s dress. Covering all other parts of the body (except for the face, hands, and feet) is also important. But as women around the world adapt Islamic dressing to the fashions of their country, more and more it is the Hijab, or headscarf, that is constant and marks a woman as a Muslim.

Is covering up mandated by the Qur’an?

Hijab and modest dressing is mandated in the Qur’an, though some Muslims argue that it is not a strict requirement but merely a strong suggestion (that is open to individual interpretation. A few passages in the Qur’an refer to an Islamic dress code:

"Say to the believing man that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them; and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments ..." (Qur'an 24:30-31)

This verse highlights three points: That a woman shouldn’t show her beauty except when faced with uncontrolled factors, like the wind blowing her clothes; that the headscarf should cover the hair, neck, and the bosom; and that women need not cover up in front of certain men (husbands, fathers, sons, etc.).

Further Hadiths give other details. One of the most quoted is the following:

“Ayesha reported that Asmaa, the daughter of Abu Bakr came to the Messenger of Allah (SWT) while wearing thin clothing. He approached her and said, ‘O Asmaa! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything should remain exposed except this and this.’ He pointed to the face and hands.” (Abu Dawood) Source:


Microfinance programmes reaching out to Muslim women

By Nadia Saleem, Nov 04, 2008

Dubai: The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of World Bank Group, has dispersed almost $600 million (Dh2.2 billion) in the greater Middle East region, while working with 11 microfinance institutions (MFIs).

IFC has invested $72 million in the institutions based in countries in the region that have low access to finance, especially Morocco, Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to Momina Aijazuddin, programme manager of Microfinance.

The institutions have provided microfinance to 1.25 million clients.

"Most people have not had access to financing before. In the case of Muslim countries, almost 60 per cent of the clients are women," Aijazuddin said.

While there is a great need for financing, an estimated 72 per cent of people living in Muslim-majority countries do not use formal financial services, according to Michael Tarazi, senior regulatory specialist at the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), a microfinance researcher, housed at World Bank.

CGAP conducted a survey on Islamic microfinance, gathering information from over 125 institutions and experts from 19 Muslim countries.

Surveys in Jordan, Algeria and Syria reveal that 20 to 40 per cent of respondents cite religious reasons for not accessing conventional micro loans, according to a report called Islamic Microfinance: An Emerging Market Niche.

While Islamic microfinance has the potential to overcome the barriers that keeps Muslims from approaching financing, it has an estimated global reach of 380,000 customers and accounts for only an estimated half of one per cent of total microfinance outreach.


In the past 30 years, the Islamic finance industry has developed to over 500 Sharia-compliant institutions, reaching out to 75 countries.

Today, the industry's total assets are estimated at $500.5 billion, reports say. Of the total, 36 per cent is located in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, 35 per cent in non-GCC Southwest Asia and North Africa and 23 per cent in Asia (primarily in Malaysia, Brunei and Pakistan).

Edward Greenwood, country director of Finca Jordan, an institute that provides microfinance said that surveys in Jordan, showed that 32 per cent of the people preferred Islamic microfinance.

However, Islamic MFIs have not been successful in the area. He says this is due to two reasons: the preceding success of conventional microfinance and the more expensive cost of Islamic microfinance.



Arab Paper: ‘Obama’s Historic Intifada’ Allows Islam to ‘Impose its Point of View on World’

By Warner Todd Huston, November 3, 2008

From Beirut, Chawki Freiha reports- on a provocative editorial that appeared in the Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper on November 3 written by Abdelbari Atwan, the first journalist to have met with Osama bin Laden. Titled “Obama’s Historic Intifada,” Atwan praises the probable election of Barrack Obama to the White House and claims that with Obama installed in Washington, Islam will be able to “impose its point of view” on the world.

As to be expected, Atwan’s editorial decries the Bush administration because it is “controlled by Zionists… whose objective is to destroy the Arab world and Islam.” Displaying true Muslim conspiratorial thinking, Atwan further claims that all Middle Eastern countries have been under the control Israel, even though the Arabs have the “largest wealth” in the world in petrodollars.

The most alarming part of Atwan’s editorial, however, is that he imagines that with a President Obama in office, Islam will be able to use its oil wealth to control the world.

    We have the largest wealth and could save the world from the crisis. If these resources are properly harnessed, we could impose our point of view and serve our cause… The conditions are now fulfilled for the Arabs use their wealth to obtain a U.S. promise favourable and correct historical mistakes committed in Palestine.

Atwan is merely echoing the feeling in the Mid East that a Barrack Obama will look upon them with favor or will be so weak that he will not be able to stop Islam from “imposing” its “point of view” upon the world.

If Joe Biden is right that a new president Obama will be “tested in the first 60 days” of his term, it seems as if certain forces in the Mid East are poised to do just that. But, it is obvious that many in the Mid East imagine Obama stands in agreement with their goals in the first place.

A president Obama is no friend to Israel or the west, at least as far as Abdelbari Atwan and many of his comrades are concerned.

The most pressing question that Americans have is: should we support a man for President of the United States that our enemies imagine to be on their side?

Original report is in French.



Unity essential for Islamic media: Tehran official

Tehran -- Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi has said the Islamic world’s media outlets should strive for unity.

Today, the main duty of the Islamic media is to present a good image of Islam to the world, Qashqavi told participants at the Islam and the Media in the Twenty-First Century conference in Khartoum, Sudan on Monday.

He also pointed to the increasingly important role the media plays in influencing public opinion.

Qashqavi asked the ullema and media people to downplay the minor differences of opinion between Islamic schools of jurisprudence and to take a stand against the “organized” propaganda campaign against Islam.

World Center for African Studies Secretary General Abdullah Zakaria elaborated on the differences and common points of the Western and Islamic cultures and civilizations.

Iran-Sudan Friendship Association Secretary Hemad Ismail and Iran’s cultural attaché in Sudan, Hojjatoleslam Ansari, pointed to the cultural and media potential of the two countries and stated that exchanges of cultural delegations can improve the two nations’ understanding of their affinities and perspectives



Malaysian Bank sets up Islamic bank unit

Nov 04, 2008

Kualalumpur: Public Bank Bhd (PBB) has set up a wholly-owned subsidiary, Public Islamic Bank Bhd, to carry out Islamic banking business with effect from Nov 1.

In a statement, PBB said its Islamic banking business, which has been conducted through the window concept, would be transferred to Public Islamic Bank.

PBB said the setting up of Public Islamic Bank reflected the group’s strong commitment to further enhance its Islamic banking business in line with the objectives of Bank Negara Malaysia’s Financial Sector Masterplan. — Bernama Source: ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

French weekly censored in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria for “attack on Islam”

Reporters without Borders today voiced its dismay after Morocco’s communications ministry announced a ban on distribution of the international edition of the French weekly L’Express for an “attack on Islam”.

Algerian and Tunisian authorities followed suit three days after the 31 October Moroccan decision, the US news agency Associated Press reported today.

The 30 October to 5 November 2008 issue of l’Express had a cover page headlined “The shock: Jesus-Mohammed: Their journey, their message, their vision of the world”.

A ten-page article inside presented portraits of the founders of Christianity and Islam days ahead of a meeting in Rome of Muslim and Catholic dignitaries on the initiative of Pope Benoit XVI, to “promote dialogue" between the two monotheist religions.

“It is unfortunate that the communications ministry has one again chosen to resort to censorship to have a newspaper banned which was only bringing elements to the debate on an issue in the news that is of major interest to its Moroccan readers”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“This decision is all the more surprising since the Moroccan authorities never stop describing the kingdom as an historic place of dialogue and coexistence between cultures and religions".

“It is still more unfortunate that Algiers and Tunis decided to follow in Morocco’s footsteps” it added, wondering “if the kingdom is in the process of becoming an example for the repression of press freedom in the region.”

The Moroccan authorities used Article 29 of the press code that authorises banning of publications “when they strike a blow at the Islamic religion, the monarchy, territorial integrity or respect for the king and public order”. The ministry employed this same prerogative against Moroccan weekly Nichane in December 2006, after it carried an article headlined “Jokes: how the Moroccans laugh about religion, sex and politics”. Nichane was seized again in August 2007, along with its French-language edition TelQuel, after it carried an editorial criticising a speech by King Mohammed VI. This issue also published articles dealing with “sex in Islamic culture”.

Morocco was ranked 122nd out of 173 countries in Reporters without Borders’ world press freedom index, released on 22 October 2008.



Obama or McCain: Muslim Voters

By Zeyad Maasarani, Mukhtar A. Khan

WASHINGTON — Hours before the opening of America's historic White House elections, correspondents interviewed American Muslims in different states.

We asked if they would be casting their ballot, their favourite candidate, the basis for their election choice, and candidates’ stances on Islam, and whether America is ready for a Muslim president.

Malik Mohammad Hussain, 54, a Pakistani-born salesman in Halal Meat Store

I favor Obama over John McCain and think that Barrack Obama is a Muslim.

I have heard that Obama will end all the war politics and there will be no bombing in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq when he occupies his place in the White House.

The Democrats go with the facts while the Republicans with fear-mongering in all the present and past elections.

A black man in a White House will change the things into a Black & White, separating truth from false.

There are at least 6-7 million Muslims in the US and I'm sure they can make a difference in swing states like Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Missouri and Pennsylvania.

I think the USA is a good country. It has all the human rights and freedom of speech.

I think if Obama can become a Democrat nominee for presidency then why not any other person.

I'm sure that any Muslim can become the president of USA, provided he is capable and has good character.

Abdul Nasir, 30, a Cab Driver in Washington D.C.

I'm a staunch supporter of Barack Obama but I'm not sure that he will win the presidency.

Obama has got a popular support among the youth, urban cities, and over the media but majority of the white conservatives living in the countryside will never vote for a black man.

If Obama wins it will be only a miracle, and this will be by a thin margin.

The elite-influential class of American population, whose vote and support is always solid, is backing Senator John McCain.

While Senator Barrack Obama draws his support mainly from the minorities, youth and liberal population, whose pre-election noise is high but on Election Day it somehow will subside a little.

If Obama wins, it will stamp the American democracy as the World No.1 democracy, and then anybody, even a Muslim, can expect to become the president of this sole World Super Power.

Samar Alhinnawi, Yalla Vote Field Organizer, San Fernando Valley, California

 I am voting as an Arab American, a Muslim, a citizen and a participant of this democratic nation that we live in. As a field organizer with the Yalla Vote campaign I advocate the importance of voting and I reiterate that voting is very important for  several key reasons. As Arab Americans we need to vote because more so than ever this election will determine many important issues for us such as our civil liberties, the Iraq war, our economy, etc.  It is also important since we live in a democratic nation that we exercise our rights as active participants. For Arab Americans its important to go and show that we are an important factor for the candidates, by voting.  Power is in numbers and the only way to achieve that is through voicing our opinion.

The issues are more important to me because the candidates are just a puppet to the face of issues. One of the main problems in our country is that the majority of people vote based on personality/candidates versus the most important factor, the issues.

Simply, we as a group are not united and do not represent a significant voting block for the candidates.  We need to be more coherent as a group and try to be more active participants in mainstream America.  Yes, I think both candidates should visit a mosque but I do not blame them for not doing so. At the present time, they will bring more negative attention than positive and I believe that we are partly to blame for this.

I do not like the way [Sen. Obama] handled it. Instead Obama should have displayed the good things Muslims have done for this country and show that being Muslim should not be used as an accusation. The problem with all this is our Muslim community did not show aggressive outrage in what was going on.

America is not ready for a Muslim president. The simple fact that [Sen. Obama] was accused of being Muslim as an attack shows how unready this country is for a Muslim president.  Our country is going through Islamophobia and will not elect a Muslim candidate. Maybe in my children’s lifetime this will change.  Nobody thought Kennedy would win running as a Catholic president, though; this shows 'hope' for our country.

Abdullah Aljammal, Junior Biochemistry Major at UCLA, Westwood, California

I hope to vote this election cycle.  I believe it is important to vote in order to command what is good and forbid what is evil, as well as choose the best leader for the position in question since he will be directly leading us whether we vote or not. Also, to vote for what may do the community good and vote against what may be harmful to the community as in propositions

To me the issues on the ballot are much more important than the candidates. I don't like to discriminate against candidates.

The main reason I believe neither presidential candidate visited a mosque during their campaign is due to the enormous amount of negative media and attention given to Islam post 9-11. It is very unfortunate that this is so; however at the same time it is understandable in context of the position these candidates are in at this time. This also reflects the Muslim community's lack of spreading knowledge and information about Islam, as is required of us as Muslims. It is also more important that we lead by example rather than words and that is the best of form of representation of Islam.

I believe that Obama had to do what he did in order to obtain any remote chance of succeeding in his presidential run. Although I do believe he would of been more optimistic about Islam and Muslims, it may have back fired and further reflected the authenticity of the accusation.

A Muslim is only a human being and therefore has his own unique set of opinions and ideas on running a country. If however, this individual is to follow the teachings of Islam and do what is honest, truthful, and righteous and be prepared to serve the people for the sake of the Creator and not himself or any personal agenda then this is definitely what we need in a leader for any country place or time.

Anas Abu Abah, 27, a Saudi-born political science student

 The November 4 will be the most historic day in US elections. I'm excited to cast my vote in favor of Democrat Presidential hopeful Senator Barrack Obama.

I think Obama can bring improvement in the much-debated healthcare issues but I'm more interested in Obama’s foreign policy issues.

I hope Obama will not only put an end to Iraq War but will also resolve the long-drawn-out Palestine-Israel conflict.

I'm optimistic that Obama has the potential to bring Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the table talk and convince Iran capping its nuclear program.

I think it was a wise strategy that Obama didn’t visit any mosque during his election campaign. If he had, there would have been an unending controversy labelling Obama as Muslim and endangering his vote bank with fear mongering of Islamophobia. When there were some rumours that he is a Muslim, his popularity graph had gone downward in the survey polls.

I'm pessimistic about a Muslim candidate becoming a president of the United States of America.

Although legally it is acceptable but the present Muslims’ image in America will not let any Muslim become the Commander-in-Chief of this country.

Khadija, 56, an Iraqi woman teaching in an Islamic School

My whole family of five will be casting vote for Senator John McCain.

I think McCain is a wise and tested politician. At this critical moment when the whole world is in the grip of crises, only a sage person and not a stylish demagogue can be a savior.

McCain does belong to the Republican Party but this never means that he is another George Bush.

The Republican and not the Democratic Party has been pro-Muslim countries. I cannot see any reason why the majority of Muslims in the US is backing Obama, though Obama has always resisted the Muslim identity and never visited or approached any mosque.

However, on the other hand he has been to several churches and synagogues during his election campaign.

I'm optimistic that anybody from any background or religion can become a US president, provided he has the integrity of character and the skill and experience to run this great country.

Shafeeq Kakar, 30, Afghan banker in Virginia

Two days ago I voted for Senator Obama.

My family in the US and their nation back in Afghanistan have got fed up with the unending war in Afghanistan.

I want some one who believes in dialogue. Barack Obama has the potential and statesmanship to resolve the crises in Afghanistan with dialogue and Jirga.

I'm impressed by Obama’s charisma and also the issues he speaks of. I think that Obama will get the country out from the current economic recession and will restore the investors’ confidence in US financial institutions.

I think it was a wise strategy on the part of Democratic presidential hopeful to have not visited any mosque or Islamic Center, otherwise, rival Republicans would have got an opportunity to point fingers at Obama that he is a covert Muslim.

The current image of Muslims, mostly painted with negativity, shows that it will take at least 20 years for a Muslim candidate to become the president of the United States of America.

Sophia Momand, Family Doctor, Torrance, California 

I have already voted by absentee ballot. Voting is important because it gives me a voice among many and keeps me involved with what is happening in my world.

In this election both are equally important, the candidates as well as the issues.

The fact that the candidates did not visit mosques has something to do with the overall need for more education on their parts and more effort on our part to make them realize that we are important to them for issues and voting etc.

Sen. Obama acted the way he did in large part to quell the Islamophobic hysteria and ignorance which had the potential of hurting his campaign. It will take a long time to educate people about the love and peace in Islam while Obama's election is now.

America is ready for any person who is honest and sincere in leading her to do justice in the world and to take care of her own people. Whether that person is a Muslim or Jew or Christian does not matter much to me as long as they do not harbour prejudice against anyone else.

Khalid, 50, resident of Virginia, Bread-Baker

 If I get time, I will definitely cast my vote for Obama. This is my first chance to be polling my vote after becoming a US citizen.

I favor Obama because this time all the Muslim community is backing him.

I don’t know the details but I'm optimistic that Obama will change America.

Ata Nabawi, Substitute Teacher, Compton, California

I am voting because voting is important.  Enfranchisement is the key to political power.  Being a black man, coming out of the history of Jim Crow laws and the struggle for civil rights, to finally have the political power to vote and not exercise defeats that entire purpose of that political struggle.

[Issues and candidates] are equally important, because one affects me locally and the other affects me nationally which will eventually affect me locally.

However, I don’t always agree with the candidates.  Barrack Obama is for gay marriage, but I’m not, so I’m voting yes on Prop. 8 [To only allow traditional marriage] Obama just tries to please everybody.

The Muslim community in America is considered to not wield any effective political power therefore it isn’t targeted in elections.  This is not based on demographics, but based on the power in Washington, D.C. As a political force, Muslims have not showed their muscles.  We don’t have a strong lobby.  We’re not organized enough.

[Sen. Obama] did what is politically expedient.  He has a Muslim father and was raised in Indonesia, a Muslim country.  I also believe he’s been to Pakistan before.  He has extensive knowledge of the Muslim world.  His name is Arabic, which is the language of the Qur’an.  He had to distance himself as much as he can from Muslims and Arabs in order to show his loyalty and patriotism to America.  America has created an enemy in Islam.

I personally believe that America needs some Islamic leadership; however I don’t think the American public is politically mature enough to have Islamic leadership in general.

Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of the Greater Los Angeles Area Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations

 I am voting, as I have done in almost every election since I became eligible to vote.

In a democracy, the voice, values, and concerns of citizens are addressed and heard through political participation. Voting is an important part of that participation.

Both ballot issues and candidates are important. The ballots issues as well as candidates impact the various aspects of our life. They are two means to passing new laws or implementing policies.

It is a shame that Islam has been turned into a political liability in this election. The last few years of concerted defamation and deionization of Islam and Muslims by right-wing and extremist pro-Israel groups have resulted in an alarming sentiment of anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamophobia.

Many politicians are afraid to interact, affiliate or be perceived to be close to Muslims for fear of getting attacked by the growing loud voice of anti-Muslim bigots.

This only shows how much more work is needed from the Muslim community to better acquaint the public with who we truly are, build coalitions with fair-minded fellow Americans, and become more involved in the affairs of our country.

As for the issue of the two leading presidential candidates not visiting a masjid (mosque) yet, there are greater concerns and worries that impact not only our Muslim community or Americans alone, but the whole world and those concerns take precedence over our narrow ones.

Knowing the level of exposure and interaction with Islam that Senator Obama has, I had expected a better response from him.

The best answer from Senator Obama would have been one similar to General Colin Powell's; an answer that says that while Senator Obama is Christian, the real issue is that there should be no problem if he were Muslim. There is nothing wrong in being a Muslim and nothing wrong in having a Muslim running for president.

No. America today is not ready for a Muslim president. Sadly, America was not even ready for a presidential candidate who had Muslim relatives. A few decades ago, America was not ready for a Catholic president or a Black president. It is now, at least most Americans are. And as we become more involved, America will be ready for a president who is Muslim.

Mirna Hmaydani-Hudspeth, Homemaker, Rancho Mirage, California 

I am voting this election more eagerly so then any other time because I have hope that Mr. Obama will be the change that this country desperately needs.

Although we have some serious issues that need attention in our country, the candidates are more important to me because it takes a candidate with compassion, integrity & intelligence to follow through these issues.

Unfortunately, we are living in a biased nation, where freedom is an illusion. We are monitored & pretty much controlled. Since Islam is not an accepted religion in America I believe Mr. Obama was looking after his own reputation.

There is no shame in ones religion and one need to be open and accepting of all religions, in order to live together in harmony.  The American government has made a mockery out of Islam and it will be a far fetched wish of enlightenment in this candidacy.

I don't think America has been exposed enough to the beauty of the Muslim religion, the only news they hear is negative. I don't think America is ready for a Muslim president & I don't believe Mr. Obama to be a true Muslim.  I do know that this country needs more then just a president with faith for his religion, this country needs to be reborn! Source:


Burning flags, Iranians cheer US Embassy takeover


Tehran, Iran (AP) — Hundreds of Iranian school students bussed in for the occasion crowded outside the former U.S. Embassy on Monday, burning American flags and chanting slogans to commemorate the 29th anniversary of the building's seizure by militant Iranian students.

Equal parts unofficial school holiday and angry demonstration, the commemoration came on the eve of the U.S. presidential election and was marked by anti-U.S. and anti-Israel chants and the burning of American, Israeli flags and an effigy of Uncle Sam.

Some students carried banners reading: "Islamic republic will never compromise with U.S." and "Takeover of U.S. embassy was turning point in confronting American evil."

In 1979, militant Iranian students who believed the embassy was a center of plots against the Persian country held 52 Americans hostage 444 days. The U.S. severed diplomatic ties in response, and the two countries have not had formal relations since.

Iranians blame the CIA for helping topple the elected government of Mohammad Mosaddeq in the 1950s and blames the United States for openly supporting the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi against the 1979 Islamic revolution that led to the collapse of the dynasty.

Iranians also condemn Washington for arming and supporting Saddam Hussein during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, which left more than one million casualties on both sides.

Today, some of Iran's leaders see Barack Obama as a harbinger of much-wanted change in U.S. policy toward their government. Iranian state radio broadcast a commentary Monday praising the Democrat.

"Obama entered the race under the slogan of change," it said. "The American people expect their government to put aside neo-conservative policy of unilateralism and return to dialogue in their dealings with the international community."

But although Iranian conservatives may prefer Obama to Republican John McCain, reformers say a McCain victory will bolster Iranian hardliners, who may claim continued U.S. hostilities justify their suppression of freedoms at home and their tough foreign policy.

Last week, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini, who has final say on all state matters, said his country's hatred for the United States runs deep and differences between the two nations go beyond a "few political issues."

The comments by Khomeini were seen as a signal that a thaw in U.S.-Iran relations was not expected no matter who wins Tuesday.

During Monday's demonstration, the Iranian parliament deputy speaker, Mohammad Hasan Abutorabifard, told the crowd that Iran's lack of ties to the U.S. has helped insulate the country from the global financial crisis.

Reza Pourtaghi, an 18-year-old high school senior at the rally, said anti-U.S. sentiments are strong among his generation. Iranian youth "must not forget that the U.S. is enemy of all Muslims, especially Iranians," he said.

State television broadcast file footage of the takeover and the 1980 release of hostages when they boarded single-file a plane destined for home.

Meanwhile, Iran's joint armed forces called the takeover” Collapse of U.S. hegemony" in a statement made available to The Associated Press.

Current U.S.-Iranian relations remain very tense, with Washington accusing Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons and of supporting Shiite militias in Iraq — charges which Tehran denies.

The U.S. has backed three sets of U.N. sanctions on Iran over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. Iran asserts the activity is only meant to produce electricity. Source: ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------                       

Turkey, Lebanon sign cooperation deal on terrorism, crime

Nov 03, 2008

Ankara (AFP) — Turkey and Lebanon on Monday signed an accord on cooperation against terrorism, drug-trafficking and organised crime, Anatolia news agency reported.

The deal, details of which were not disclosed, was inked after talks between Prime ministers Fuad Siniora of Lebanon and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

Siniora thanked Ankara for its recently intensified efforts to resolve long-standing conflicts in the Middle East.

"Turkey has a very important role to play in the Middle East. Turkey is already doing that by encouraging cooperation in the region," Anatolia quoted him as saying.

Erdogan, for his part, hailed reconciliation efforts between Lebanon and Syria.

"The steps to be taken in Syrian-Lebanese relations are very important," he said. "We welcome their decision to establish diplomatic ties."

Last month, Syria and Lebanon announced establishment of diplomatic ties for the first time since they became independent 60 years ago. The two neighbours are set to open embassies in each other's capitals before the end of the year.

Since May, Turkey has mediated indirect peace talks between Israel, its chief regional ally, and Syria. Ankara has expressed hope that progress in the talks may also help the initiation of peace efforts between Israel and Lebanon.

Turkey also has a military contingent in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which was enhanced and expanded after Israel's devastating 34-day war on Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon in 2006.

Siniora was to wrap up his visit Tuesday.



Al Baraka Islamic Bank Builds on a Long-Term Partnership for its Pakistan Operations

Nov. 4, 2008

London: PR Newswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- Al Baraka Islamic Bank has announced that it has selected Misys Equation and Misys Trade Innovation for implementation across its 20 branches in Pakistan. The new contract builds on a number of previous contracts with the Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG) and Misys across Africa and the Middle East.

Shafqaat Ahmed, Al Baraka Islamic Bank's Country Head Pakistan said, "As part of our growth strategy involving conversion of our Pakistan Operations into an Islamic Bank registered in Pakistan, paving the way for significantly enhancing our branch network and customer outreach, Al Baraka Islamic Bank in Pakistan has chosen Misys Equation as its new banking system. This will support its growth and diversification and would provide us a common banking system platform with our parent company, Al Baraka Banking Group, Bahrain and subsidiary banking companies spread over 12 countries. Al Baraka Islamic Bank's choice of Misys Equation is based on Misys' ability and strength to fully support Al Baraka's Islamic Banking needs, its strong risk management and compliance policies and its need for strong parameterisation attributes in a system, to support the bank's ongoing efforts aimed at innovative new product development."

Al Baraka Islamic Bank hopes that its choice of Misys Equation would also complement its high priority objectives of state-of-the-art technology that brings customer service-driven efficiency and a transparent Management Information System, since Misys Equation is an integrated, real-time, multi-currency banking system that supports delivery of competitive products and excellent customer service for both, consumer and corporate banking, within a single platform.

Moreover, Al Baraka Islamic Bank's strength in Trade Financing services will be enhanced and complemented by Misys' award-winning trade services solution, Misys Trade Innovation, and the company's IFM Internet Banking solution which are also licensed as part of the deal.

With the Misys solution being implemented in its three locations, in addition to Pakistan, Al Baraka Banking Group is moving towards a truly integrated banking system throughout more than 250 branches in 12 countries and its planned future worldwide locations, which will facilitate meeting its objective of standardised banking operations, product range and reporting system throughout ABG, thus truly unifying ABG into one big global organisation, dedicated to Islamic Banking principles.

Tariq Kazim, DGM Support Services & Overseas Services, Al Baraka Islamic Bank Bahrain, comments, "Al Baraka Bank sees the partnership with Misys as a critical part of our expansion strategy. The superior product capability and market knowledge that Misys brings will help us to develop and launch new products and services to multiple markets more quickly than before. We continue to strive to deliver the best to our customers and are confident that this relationship will help us to achieve our goals."

Roy Froud, Head of Middle East and Africa, Misys Banking, adds, "ABG is one of the most innovative banks in the Middle East and Africa. It has clear expansion objectives in the region as well as plans to grow more internationally and we are delighted that we are expanding our relationship to support that growth with our solutions, supported by our talented team of experts."

About Misys plc

Misys plc (FTSE: MSY.L), provides integrated, comprehensive solutions that deliver significant results to organisations in the financial services and healthcare industries. We maximise value for our customers by combining our deep knowledge of their business with our commitment to their success.

In banking and treasury & capital markets, Misys is a market leader, with over 1,200 customers, including all of the world's top 50 banks. In healthcare, Misys plc owns a controlling stake in Allscripts-Misys Healthcare Solutions, Inc

MDRX 6.43, -0.07, -1.1%) a clear leader in the provision of healthcare technology, serving more than 150,000 physicians, 700 hospitals and nearly 7,000 post-acute and homecare organisations. Misys employs around 6,000 people who serve customers in more than 120 countries.

We aspire to be the world's best application software and Services Company, delivering results for the most important industries in the world.

Misys: Experience, Solutions, Results

Contact us today, visit:

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Edward Taylor, Global Head of Public Relations, Misys Solutions for Banking


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Copyright (C) 2008 PR Newswire. All rights reserved End of Story



Embassies in Indonesia get bomb threats as Bali bombers' execution nears

By staff writers and wires, November 04, 2008

The Australian and U.S embassies in Jakarta have been threatened with bombings if the three Islamic militants on death row over the Bali blasts are executed.

The threat was received via text message to police, police spokesman Abubakar Nataprawira said.

"We're investigating this to find out who sent the threat,'' he said.

He said it was being taken seriously although a similar threat against a shopping mall in Jakarta yesterday had proved to be a hoax.

The embassies' compounds had been searched, the Detikcom news website reported, quoting police.

It said the text message read: "I will pull the trigger (of the bomb) if Amrozi and his friends are executed,'' referring to the Bali bombers.

The Australian embassy in Jakarta would not comment, referring questions to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra.

A US embassy spokesman confirmed that a threat had been received and was being taken seriously.

"We are working closely with the Indonesian police,'' he said.

Security at the US and Australian embassies has been boosted amid fears of reprisal attacks after the executions.

Amrozi, 47, his brother Mukhlas, 48, and Imam Samudra, 38, are facing execution any day over the bombings of packed tourist nightspots which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, six years ago.

The threats came as Indonesia's Attorney General's Office rejected reports that the bombers' executions had been due to go ahead in the last day but were delayed at the last minute.

The Indonesian newspaper Radar Banyumas said a new schedule had been set following the cancellation of a previous plan to execute the men early yesterday or early today.

A source on the bombers' prison island said the delay was to avoid "politicking from some parties'' and that a fresh appeal by the bombers' families was not a factor in the delay.

"The new schedule has been issued and it's in the hands of the executor in the field,'' the source told the newspaper.

Attorney-General's Office spokesman Jasman Pandjaitan said the exact timing of the executions was up to those who would carry them out.

He said a decision had been made to proceed with the executions and authorities overseeing them had been advised of that.

Lawyers for the bombers are waiting to hear if they and family members will be permitted one final visit.

Members of the bombers' families and some of their lawyers were turned away yesterday when they went to the port of Cilacap seeking permission to travel to Nusakambangan Island for a final goodbye.

They are considering taking the matter to Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission.

Lawyers say the denial of a final visit violates the bombers' human rights.,21985,24601063-663,00.html