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Islamic World News ( 25 Nov 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Mufti of Australia, Sheikh Fehmi calls for desegregation of men and women in mosques

Mumbai: `Exclusive party for Muslims will cause communal polarisation', say Islamic scholars

Beirut: Saudi Arabia's turn to be accused of funding Fatah al-Islam

Istanbul: Turkey's Alevis Struggle for Religious and Secular Acceptance

Malaysia: Islam combines style with modesty    

Malaysia: No need to criticise the fatwa council by Adri Hemy Abdul Ghani

Malaysia: ulema push for anti-smoking laws by Adianto P. Simamora

Islam spreads in South Africa by BRYAN PEARSON

The lost generation of Iraq by Jalil Mehdi

Swedish artist's Muhammad musical courts new controversy

Washington: US appeals court hearing into Guantanamo Uighurs

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

 

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/mufti-of-australia,-sheikh-fehmi-calls-for-desegregation-of-men-and-women-in-mosques/d/1014

 

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Desegregation in mosques in Australia: Islam is no excuse for exploiting women, says the Mufti of Australia, Sheikh Fehmi Naji El-Imam

 November 24, 2008

 IN MOSQUES across Australia Muslims are accustomed to men and women sitting separately. This physical division might change now that the Mufti of Australia, Sheikh Fehmi Naji El-Imam, has taken the enlightened step of calling for desegregation in mosques. Although he does not have direct authority over other imams, his title allows him to wield considerable influence within the wider Muslim community.

But a more serious divide between the sexes that needs to be bridged has been recognised by a report that shows some imams simply do not consider women equal to men. The report, made public last week, shocked many with its findings that some imams in Victoria condoned rape within marriage, domestic violence, polygamy, welfare fraud and exploitation of women.

The report also found that some imams hindered police from pursuing domestic violence charges, applied sharia law when it benefited men but not when it benefited women, and that polygamy was on the rise among Melbourne Muslims.

Even if such behaviour is not widespread in the Muslim community - as Sherene Hassan, the vice-president of the Victorian Islamic Council suggests - it would be remiss to understate the seriousness of the allegations. Clearly, those that involve criminality should be investigated by police immediately.

The report is based on a study commissioned and funded by the former Howard government and conducted by the Islamic Women's Welfare Council of Victoria. It has considerable credibility.

Community members reported in it believe that imams' narrow religious training, lack of life experience, poor English and lack of understanding of Australia create problems for the community.

The Age applauds Sheikh Fehmi's call for desegregation in mosques, as this separation of the sexes is borne of culture and there is no religious justification for it. As secretary of the Victorian Board of Imams, Sheikh Fehmi's initial dismissal of the report as a collection of factless stories was disappointing, but his later, more considered response is welcome.

The onus is on imams to show leadership and guide followers into embracing respect for all women. If the behaviour described in the report is to be stamped out, then imams must reinforce the message that such acts are a violation of Islamic teaching and a betrayal of their faith.

And if change is to be triggered in the minds of men who think it is acceptable to beat, rape or otherwise exploit women, a strong unambiguous message must be delivered by those in influential roles.

On Friday, November 25, 2005, imams in mosques across Melbourne agreed to preach against domestic violence in their sermon that day as part of a United Nations campaign to eliminate violence against women. Clearly this particular sermon needs to be delivered repeatedly, not just once.

Inevitably, the report raises questions about what it means to be a Muslim woman in Australia. Muslim women are one disadvantaged group among many in this country. Their suffering cannot be explained by interpreting it simply as a consequence of Islam.

The Muslim community has many challenges ahead that will need to be confronted in ways that do not stigmatise any section of the community. Domestic violence may not be worse in Muslim communities, but it is a problem that can sometimes exist because of entrenched cultural practice.

In response to the Islamic Women's Welfare Council report, there no doubt will be those who argue that cultural diversity is sacrosanct. Such views are a distortion of the value of diversity and are irrelevant in the face of core values that must be accepted by all who live in this society. These include the shared acceptance of the rule of law and the values on which Australian law is based, including equality of men and women.

As Waleed Aly, spokesman for the Islamic Council of Victoria in 2005, said: "Violence against women represents one of the darkest spots on humanity's soul, one of the world's most pressing concerns."

Certainly, violence towards women, as well as other issues raised in last week's report, represent pressing concerns for the Muslim community. It will need the support, not the condemnation of the wider population, if it is to deal with them effectively. Source: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/editorial/religion-is-no-excuse-for-exploiting-muslim-women-20081123-6et9.html?page=1

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`Exclusive party for Muslims will cause polarisation', say Islamic scholars

Mumbai: A section of scholars and secular activists have criticised the move to form an exclusive Muslim political party. Terming it as `impractical', they have said such action would only embolden the Hindutva forces to further exploit the issue of Muslim alienation.

Disenchanted with the Congress-NCP government in the state, community leaders are trying to cobble up a front before the forthcoming assembly and Lok Sabha elections. Though both the Congress and NCP have stepped up to dispel the community's despair through some cosmetic efforts, the community at large remains dismayed. It is this frustration which some Muslim leaders want to translate into votes for a separate political party.

However, Muslim scholars say that an attempt to form a separate political party could only harm the Muslims. "It will lead to polarisation and only communal outfits will benefit. Today, the BJP and Shiv Sena are on the backfoot. Creation of any separate Muslim political front will give them an emotional issue to exploit during the forthcoming elections,'' says Islamic scholar Asghar Ali Engineer.

The votaries of a separate Muslim outfit cite the successful experiment in Assam where a front headed by senior Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind member and businessman Badruddin Ajmal performed remarkably well during the last assembly elections. But Muslim activists say the ground realities between Assam and Maharashtra are different.

The Muslim population in Assam is 28% while in Maharashtra, they are just 13%. Moreover, in Assam, Muslims face an identity crisis because of the Ulfa's increasing demand to push back many genuine Indian Muslims into Bangladesh. Muslims in Maharashtra don't face such a situation.

"It's not clear who will lead Maharashtra's Muslim front. There has been no sincere attempt to read the pulse of the Muslim masses. Those who are talking of a Muslim party must first gauge the community's mood,'' says Hasan Kamal, Urdu columnist and member of Muslims for Secular Democracy (MSD).

Mehmood Madni, Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind's general secretary who has been at the forefront of the Jamiat's anti-terrorism rallies across the country, debunks the idea of a Muslim political party. "To talk of Muslim political party just before an election is nothing but a gimmick to garner Muslim support and pawn it later. Only those who have a vested interest talk of a separate Muslim party because any such attempt will be counter-productive,'' says Madni.

The deep division among the Muslims is also a hurdle in the path of forming a political outfit. "The sectarian divide among Muslims is so deep that the community cannot back a single leader as the Dalits have done for Mayawati,'' says Kamal Farooqui, member, All India Muslim Personal Law Board. The best option for Muslims, say scholars, is to explore alliances from among the secular parties. "Secularism is the glue which can protect the minorities,'' says Urdu writer Sajid Rashid.

25 Nov 2008, 0144 hrs IST, Mohammed Wajihuddin

mohammed.wajihuddin@timesgroup.com

Source:http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Mumbai/Exclusive_party_for_Muslims_will_cause_polarisation/articleshow/3752769.cms

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Saudi Arabia's turn to be accused of funding Fatah al-Islam

By Andrew Wander, November 25, 2008

Beirut: After denials from Damascus and fury from the Future Movement, Saudi Arabia has become the latest powerbroker in Lebanon to find itself accused of funding members of the Fatah al-Islam militant group. An intelligence analysis published by Stratford, a Texas-based company dubbed the "shadow CIA" by some, claims that Riyadh has been channelling money to Abdul Rahman Awad, a fugitive militant currently thought to be holed up at the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon.

The Stratfor report says that Fatah al-Islam had "long been sponsored by Syrian military intelligence," but claims Damascus has recently cut its links with the group in an effort to build ties with new President Michel Sleiman.

But Syrian support for the group has been replaced, the report says, by that of Saudi Arabia, whose operatives are accused of seeking to stir up anti-Syrian sentiment in Lebanon. The report notes that Riyadh and Damascus are "locked in a battle for influence over Lebanon."

Saudi intelligence officials are alleged to have offered support to Fatah al-Islam in the hope that Syria would be accused of being behind any attacks they carried out.

"The Saudis developed these contacts with the understanding that any attacks carried out by these groups would be blamed on the Syrians, thereby building support for the anti-Syrian movement in Lebanon," the report says.

Stratfor analysts say they have been told that Awad is "acting prince" of Fatah al-Islam in the absence of Shaker al-Abssi, the group's fugitive leader, who is described as "a Syrian proxy" in the report.

The report hints at a schism within Fatah al-Islam, saying that Awad "is believed to have split off from the Syrians and switched to the Saudi side."

He is now receiving "ample funding" from the Saudis, the report says.

Awad is believed to be hiding in Ain al-Hilweh but despite Lebanese authorities' making public appeals for his arrest, Palestinian security forces have yet to capture him. There are fears that his continued presence there could trigger a major operation against Islamist militants hiding in the camp. Residents fear a repeat of the bloody battle between militants and security forces which devastated the Nahr al-Bared camp near Tripoli during the summer of 2007. 

The report also says that Syria's political aims extend beyond the Levant. Ceasing support for Fatah al-Islam is part of a new agenda for the regime in Damascus, which aims to "open up" to the incoming Obama administration in Washington. According to Stratfor, the Syrians are "laying the groundwork for what they hope will be a political rapprochement" with the US.

Britain and France have both made diplomatic overtures to Syria in recent months aimed at ending a period of international isolation for the regime of President Bashar Assad.

But the report warns against reading too much into Syrian change of approach. "Syria continues to sponsor more significant militant groups such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, Jund al-Sham, Jund al-Islam and Fatah al-Intifadah" the report says, warning that Damascus can use these groups to "stir up conflict- and potentially justify Syrian intervention [in Lebanon]."

Tracing the financial lineage of militant groups operating in Lebanon is notoriously difficult. For obvious reasons, the groups are very secretive and much of the information made public about them is politically coloured.

The source of Fatah al-Islam's funding has proven a particularly contentious issue in recent weeks, with Syria accusing parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri's Future Movement of channelling money to the group, something which has been vehemently denied by Future officials. The Hariri family has strong ties to Riyadh

Soon after the Syrian allegations, a newspaper owned by Hariri published the transcripts of intelligence interviews with captured Fatah al-Islam militants which implicated Syrian intelligence officials in orchestrating the group's activities.

The authors of the Stratfor report do not reveal any of their sources and its veracity has been called into question by a Lebanese security source contacted by The Daily Star.

The source dismissed Stratfor's analysis of the situation, saying that the allegations that Saudi Arabia was funding Awad were "unfounded."

Rumours swirl around whereabouts of group's fugitive new leader

Mohammed Zaatari, Daily Star staff

SIDON: The whereabouts of the new Fatah al-Islam leader Abdul Rahman Awad remained unconfirmed Monday after an abundance of conflicting reports were circulated in the media over the past couple of days.

Officials from Islamist group Ansarullah at the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp said Monday that Awad left the camp to an unknown destination, "around four or five days ago." The news partly confirms a report on Al-Manar television station on Sunday saying Awad had left for Iraq five days ago.

The Hizbullah-affiliated television station quoted well-informed sources as saying Awad was smuggled out of the Sifsaf area in volatile Ain al-Hilweh to the camp's Taware neighborhood, where he was assisted in the escape.

Al-Manar said Awad will soon appear on a videotape that was recorded prior to leaving the camp.

Meanwhile, other reports suggested that Awad was still hiding inside Ain al-Hilweh and refuses to surrender, raising fears of a possible inter-Palestinian confrontation.

Sources inside Ain al-Hilweh told The Daily Star on Monday that efforts were under way to guarantee "a quick but efficient security operation aimed at arresting all wanted people inside Ain al-Hilweh."

The sources added that camp officials fear that handing over Awad will lead to the handing over of other wanted people involved in an array of "complex security dossiers," such as the assassination of the four magistrates in Sidon in 1999, clashes between Islamists and the Lebanese Army in the northern region of Dinnieh in the same year, the 2007 attack against Spanish peacekeepers, and other incidents. Source: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=97970

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Turkey's Alevis Struggle for Religious and Secular Acceptance

Patrick Wrigley | 21 Nov 2008

World Politics Review

Istanbul, Turkey -- This past July, the president of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, spoke to an assembled crowd of Shiite Turks, known as Alevis. The speech, calling for unity and acceptance of minorities, came less than a month after Gul's Islamist-oriented Justice and Development Party (AKP) was spared closure by the constitutional court for anti-secular activity. Much of the Turkish press hailed the moment as a new beginning, the start of a more inclusive and tolerant atmosphere in the country. However, three months later, with the Kurdish dominated southeast alight with riots and the Alevis holding a 50,000-strong demonstration in Ankara in early November, the vision of a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional Turkey has been left in tatters.

In some regards, this is nothing new. The Kurds and Alevis can point to a long history of massacres, assassinations and political disappearances targeting their communities. However, Hakan Yavuz, an expert on Turkish Islam and associate professor of political science at the University of Utah, claims, "Alevis have become even more excluded within the last decade. That's why they are searching for new policies to get recognition and representation. The state continues to see them as alien or foreign."

Indeed, while the AKP speaks of building a broad coalition behind a tolerant, Muslim democracy, critics argue that little has changed, with minorities still suffering at the hands of the state. Professor Vahit Bicak, former chairman of the Directorate of Human Rights of the Prime Ministry, soon became disillusioned with the AKP. He told WPR, "I do not think that the AKP had and has any real and sincere policy on minority and human rights issues."

The Kurds have often grabbed the international headlines as a result of the ongoing war in the southeast. However, in many ways the Alevis serve as a better illustration of Turkey's minority rights progress. Turkish Alevis, who number approximately 11 million or 15 percent of the population, according to estimates based on a U.S. National Security Council report, belong to a syncretic religion aligned with the Shiite branch of Islam. The community has consistently been seen as a threat to the state by secular nationalists and Islamists alike, arousing suspicion for their heterodoxy and also for their traditional alignment with left leaning parties. With the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) bringing a particular brand of Sunni Islam to government and the simmering tension of nationalism again coming to the surface, the position of Alevis remains crucial and yet marginalized.

Indeed, despite the lengths that state institutions will go to in order to defend secularism, modern Turkey has never been truly multiconfessional. Yavuz says, "The secularism of Turkey is very different from the secularism of the U.K. or Germany. . . . The Turkish state has always been a Sunni Muslim state but it wants to be secular as well." The country may well have embarked on an EU-inspired democratization of certain aspects of society, but Alevis, as well as other minorities such as Kurds, still feel like second-class citizens. In Turkey, secularism has rarely equalled pluralism.

The main points of contention for the Alevi community remain an unequal distribution of state funds for places of worship, which excludes Alevi Cem houses, and a school curriculum that insists upon religious lessons espousing the creed of Sunni Islam. Although Alevi foundations are supporting court cases against these measures, the future looks uncertain.

But while some Alevis are marginalized on religious grounds, the wider ethnic community suffers for its attachment to secularism. "Alevis are the main social base for the secular nature of Turkey. Alevis are very adamant on the headscarf issue . . . [they] do not want any symbolic representation of religious identity in the public sphere," argues Yavuz. However, "There has been a gradual Islamization of the state in Turkey. Alevis are [therefore] still a suspect group," he says.

Distrusted by the increasingly pious Sunni Muslim majority, on the one hand, and by a purportedly secular state premised on a singular national identity on the other, Alevis argue that they are caught between a rock and a hard place. However, Dogan Bermek, president of the Federation of Alevis, remains optimistic that the community will take its rightful place in the social and political life of the country.

"That will happen with the emergence of a new political movement in the country. . . . What I hope is that there will be a new liberal activity emerging from political parties . . . and also liberal associations. The liberals and secularists have to find a way to get together on certain ideas and certain principles," he says.

If this happens, it will not only be the Alevis that benefit, but the country's ideal of political pluralism as well.

Patrick Wrigley is a freelance journalist based in Istanbul, Turkey. He writes extensively on Turkey, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Source: http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/article.aspx?id=2951

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Malaysia: Islam combines style with modesty 

Nov 25, 2008

The annual Islamic Fashion Festival is kicking off today in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The festival is all about reaching out to Muslim women and telling them that they can wear beautiful clothes and still be modest. ‘A modest woman is more sublime than a woman that reveals all’ comments Aisha Alam a well-dressed guest at the event. ‘More and more women in the region are discarding the less comfortable western styles and returning to the flowing Islamic way of dressing’. The organisers of the event are capitalising on this phenomena.

Currently the event attracts over 40 top designers from the region and as far away as Pakistan. The proceeds of the event go to worthwhile charities, mainly to alleviate hunger and poverty in the region. Guests will be treated to catwalk style displays albeit with the modest norms of Islam taken into consideration. Traditional Asian emphasis on beautiful fabrics will dominate and guests can expect to see dazzling silks used in creating the traditional Islamic women’s head coverings.

Source: http://www.allnewsweb.com/page606606.php

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No need to criticise the fatwa council

Adri Hemy Abdul Ghani,

November 25, 2008

IT is puzzling why fatwas (edicts) issued by Islamic religious authorities in Malaysia is getting so much attention and criticisms from non-Muslims and Muslims alike.

First and foremost, fatwas are issued by learned Islamic scholars as a guideline for Muslims only, thus why the intervention by the non-Muslim groups?

Secondly, fatwas in Malaysia are usually issued for matters which have not been clearly spelt out in the Holy Quran and Hadiths. One Muslim scholar or fatwa council, may or may not agree with the fatwa of another.

For example, fatwa had been issued declaring that smoking is haram. However there are some who disagree and many more continue to smoke.

Nevertheless, cigarettes continue to be sold and smoked in Malaysia and other Muslims countries, and by Muslims nonetheless.

For us Muslims, this fatwa on yoga reminds us that the practises that includes chanting, mantra and “being one with God” is clearly forbidden and haram in Islam.

The fatwa also states that, as the yoga exercises may be the first step towards that, their advice is for Muslims to avoid it altogether.

If, however, there are Muslims who refuse to accept this fatwa and feel that yoga is nothing more than a form of exercise, then it is a matter between them, their faith and God. There is no need for public condemnation and criticisms of the National Fatwa Council.

Even the consumption of alcohol, which is clearly haram as stated in the Holy Quran, continues to be allowed and openly done in Malaysia, even by Muslims. Source: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/11/25/focus/2633991&sec=focus

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House, ulema push for anti-smoking laws

Adianto P. Simamora, November 25, 2008

The continued might of Indonesia’s far-reaching tobacco industry is being questioned, with the House of Representatives and an influential ulema group calling for anti-smoking laws.

Legislator Atte Sugandi of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party said Monday a bill being pushed for deliberation by the House would curb tobacco-related advertising, promotions, sponsorships, production and sales.

“Once it is passed into law, there will be no retail cigarette sales for students,” he said on the sidelines of a seminar on tobacco farmers.

The House will set up a special committee before the year’s end to deliberate the bill, a move that has been delayed for three years.

“We expect to pass the bill before our term ends next year,” Atte said of the draft, which has 87 articles.

“We are extremely worried about the recent development as most activities ranging from sports to education are sponsored by tobacco companies. They also sponsor students who want to pursue master’s degrees at the University of Indonesia, which is extremely dangerous,” he said.

He blamed the government’s poor monitoring and law enforcement for the excessive cigarette advertising.

Deputy chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) Ma’ruf Amin said ulema from across the country would gather in a West Sumatra town in January next year to discuss the issue of smoking.

“We have so far received many opinions from Muslims about smoking. Many ask the MUI to issue an edict banning Muslims from smoking, some others reject the idea,” said Ma’ruf, who heads the fatwa commission.

“It’s a tough issue to deal with; therefore we will handle it with care.”

Anti-smoking groups have repeatedly called on the government to take measures to reduce cigarette consumption in the country.

The government has rejected the request, citing the millions of jobs that would be at stake in the sector.

A recent survey by the University of Indonesia’s (UI) School of Economics shows that tobacco farmers earn Rp 413,347 on average per month, far lower than the average minimum monthly wage of Rp 883,693.

“We found that 65 percent of the surveyed tobacco farmers wanted to shift jobs to become (rice) paddy farmers or vendors. So, the government’s argument is wrong, only a few people benefit from tobacco,” UI researcher Abdillah Ahsan said.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2008/11/25/house-ulema-push-antismoking-laws.html

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Islam spreads in South Africa

Satellite channel to begin broadcasting in Feb.

By BRYAN PEARSON

Baghdad - British-based Islam Channel, which has a deep reach into the Middle Eastern, Mahgreb and European markets, is pressing even further afield -- right to the tip of Africa.

Beginning February the channel, which promises to present an Islamic perspective and to dispel misconceptions people have about the faith, will broadcast across South Africa as part of the bouquet on pay satcaster DStv.

With around 1 million Muslims --2.5% of the population of around 45 million people -- the potential viewer-ship is significant, said channel CEO Muhammad Ali.

Ali added that the channel was family-oriented with a "no harm, no offence" policy.

Islam Channel is already available to DStv audiences in Ghana, Togo, Benin, Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tome.

The broadcaster's charter commits it to being "an alternative channel."

"It will advance unbiased and accurate images of Islam and Muslims and endeavour to bring about cultural understanding and awareness for a peaceful and harmonious co-existence amongst communities," the channel promises.

"Despite constituting one-fifth of the world's population, Muslims and Islam are currently misrepresented in the global media. This has led to a large demand among Muslims for television that reflects their needs and programs that are founded upon Islamic values," it adds.

DStv (Digital Satellite Television) is Multi-Choice's multi-channel digital satellite TV service in Africa, launched in 1995, which now boasts a subscriber base of more than 2 million.

It broadcasts mainly on Ku band, which only requires a small satellite dish. Source: http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117996425.html?categoryId=14&cs=1

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The lost generation of Iraq

Iraq today represents the horrendous face of war. People in Iraq have not lost just their dwellings and life, but more than that they have lost their honour

By Jalil Mehdi

Human nature is a mix of things. It has in it sublime elements, and it also carries diabolical ones. The good and evil of human nature cannot be obliterated completely. All that a civilized society does, is to manage these opposite influences and make the human nature express its elements of goodness and leave less chances of bad and evil popping up to the surface.

The worst condition of human affairs that makes the evil of men spill over into the very functioning of life is war. In our times Iraq war has offered a complete display of all such untamed evil forces.  Evils, which make the humanity, cringe in the corner of shame. After the shameful display of devilish deeds in Iraq war, it is irrational to think of anything being human about it.

The real game had started much earlier, but to the outside world - the world of masses - it happened on March 12, when five U.S. troops gang-raped, and then killed, a 14 year old Iraqi girl, after murdering three members of her family present in home at that time. The incident resulted in a number of reprisal attacks against U.S. troops by insurgent forces. Such events occur continuously in Iraq; and Iraqis are agitating strongly, very strongly to such shameful acts. And that's all   they can do, like other Muslims struggling to survive in their own lands.

The above incident is just a glimpse into what is happening inside Iraq. The story continues with the Iraqi refugees in Syria. Many of the Iraqi women fleeing the war in Iraq are turning to prostitution. In Syria alone an estimated 50,000 refugee girls and women, many of them widows, are forced into prostitution. And this is the only way for them to survive. These refugees are selling the only thing they have left of any value: their bodies; nay, their honour. In the clubs, the waiters act as dealmakers between clients and the Iraqi prostitutes.

This is the Arab world, where a woman's honour means everything. The fact that so many Iraqi women refugees are turning to prostitution is a mark of their desperation. It also speaks of what war has made of this people. How cruel it has been to them.

The road that leads from Damascus to the historic convent at Saidnaya is often choked with Christian and Muslim pilgrims hoping for one of the miracles attributed to a portrait of the Virgin Mary at the convent. But as any Damascene taxi driver and some bar waiter can tell you, the Maraba section of this fabled pilgrim road is fast becoming better known for its brisk trade of Iraqi prostitutes. Many of these women and girls, including some barely in their teens, are recent refugees. Some are tricked or forced into prostitution, but most say they have no other means of supporting their families. As a group they represent one of the most visible symptoms of an Iraqi refugee crisis that has exploded in Syria in recent months.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees, about 1.2 million Iraqi refugees now live in Syria; the Syrian government puts the figure much higher.

Given the deteriorating economic situation of those refugees, a United Nations report found last year, many girls and women in severe conditions turn to prostitution, in secret or even with the knowledge or involvement of family members. In many cases, the report added, the head of the family brings clients to the house.

Aid workers say thousands of Iraqi women work as prostitutes in Syria, and point out that as violence in Iraq has increased, the refugee population has come to include more female-headed households and unaccompanied women.

These Muslim women, some in their early teens, were used of wearing a headscarf, praying five times a day and some were also school students. But now they are forced to wear miniskirts to display their body parts at the Syrian clubs for attracting the clients. There is no one to help them, but a growing stream of men from all over the Middle East is eager to prey on the most desperate refugees from the war. These female refugees are now caught between the devil and deep sea; devil in Syria and sea, the slaughter and disaster in Iraq.

The left hand side of the equation is beginning to balance too. Time magazine in its recent issue has put forward some interesting but bemusing facts and figures. According to it, the total war expenses have crossed 12 billion dollars a month this year. The total cost of Iraq war has already crossed the 170 billion mark. Plus the net number of U.S jobs lost only in the month of February was more than 63,000. And the financial meltdown has deepened the woes of the 'melting pot' -America. And economists predict a further decline in economic as well as the potential strength of the United States. Fareed Zakaria in his book, The post American world, argues that the decline would be of extreme intensity but that the America as a superpower would still be on the top. Its role would be diminished but never irrelevant. Perhaps Obama has already sensed this gross and grotesque fact.

These facts and acts are only proving the flaws of the American foreign policy and the propaganda of state owned media that are wholly responsible for "manufacturing consent" of the American voters-as Noam Chomsky puts it.

And amongst all this it is Saddam Hussein who is being offered graveyard insurance by the American warmongers. In the present status of Iraq crisis Saddam looks more powerful in his grave then he ever was!!!

Feedback at mehdijalil@gmail.com

These Muslim women, some in their early teens, were used of wearing a headscarf, praying five times a day and some were also school students. But now they are forced to wear miniskirts to display their body parts at the Syrian clubs for attracting the clients. There is no one to help them, but a growing stream of men from all over the Middle East is eager to prey on the most desperate refugees from the war. These female refugees are now caught between the devil and deep sea; devil in Syria and sea, the slaughter and disaster in Iraq.

Source:http://www.risingkashmir.com/?option=com_content&task=view&id=8657

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Swedish artist's Muhammad musical courts new controversy

23 Nov, 2008

Swedish artist Lars Vilks is at the centre of a new controversy as his new musical Dogs premiered in Stockholm on Saturday.

Meanwhile, an exhibition of his Muhammad caricatures has been blocked by Kalmar Art Museum.

At a panel discussion after the premiere of the musical - a filmed documentation of events occurring after the drawings of the Muslim prophet Muhammad as a roundabout dog, chaos reigned on Saturday.

When Vilks stood to address the several hundred people gathered in the ABF building in Stockholm, a young woman rose to her feet, made threatening gestures with her key ring and screamed at the artist.

One of the debate's organizers seized the woman in order to escort her from the premises.

"She then scratched her keys over his underarm, cutting him in two places," said Filip Björner for the event's organizers, the Swedish Humanist Association.

According to Björner the association had reached an agreement with the police to deal with any demonstrators gently. The woman was therefore allowed to join other demonstrators outside the building in central Stockholm.

But after the woman was removed from the debate, another woman swiftly took her place. She was permitted to participate in the debate and took the opportunity to verbally abuse the co-organizers, the Ex-Muslims, a group known internationally as "Muslims for Christ."

After the conclusion of the debate, Vilks was obliged to leave the building by the back entrance in the company of a police escort.

Furthermore, local media reported on Saturday that a retrospective exhibition by Vilks had been stopped at Kalmar Art Museum.

The move has caused controversy as the museum's board overruled a decision by the head of the museum, Clas Börjesson, and the museum's curator, to support the exhibition.

The head of the museum's board, Sven Lindgren, denies that Börjesson's authority has been undermined.

"As a rule we should not get involved but in this instance, and with a new art museum which has attracted a great deal of attention, it is important to be careful with the exhibitions that are chosen," he said to Sveriges Radio Kalmar.

Lindgren denied that the decision was made due to fears over the consequences of showing the controversial artist's work, and explained that it was a question of quality.

He argued that Vilks' work simply displayed insufficient artistic quality to be shown at the Kalmar museum.

Vilks became known in August 2007 when he joined a controversy started in Denmark two years ago over the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, a practice forbidden and considered blasphemous in strict interpretations of Islam.

Vilks' cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad as a "roundabout dog" were published in a number of Swedish newspapers, including regional daily Nerikes Allehanda, and caused a storm among Muslim groups in Sweden and abroad.

Undeterred by a slew of death threats, Vilks began working on a musical about the controversy, a move he explained at the time to Dagens Nyheter:

"It is part of the rules of the game to be able to criticize religion and politics. It is nothing personal and I do not have it in for anyone."

Vilks intends for the musical Dogs to have further showings but has said that he expects interest to wane and the attendant controversy to ease with time.

"Looking at the bigger picture, you should see that something is happening. The more cartoons and drawings are made, the less interesting it will be. In the end people will get used to it," Vilks told The Local in March 2008.

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

Source: http://www.thelocal.se/15878/20081123/

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US appeals court hearing into Guantanamo Uighurs

Nov 24, 2008

Washington (AFP) — Lawyers for 17 Muslim Uighurs held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, renewed an appeal for their release onto US soil Monday saying US authorities could not hold them indefinitely.

The case, which has proven a headache for the US administration, was back before the courts after the government appealed a decision last month that all 17 prisoners of Chinese-nationality should be freed in the United States.

"They can't be detained indefinitely," said Sabin Willett, representing the 17 who have languished in the US military "war on terror" camp in Cuba for more than six years without charge.

But despite arguments from their lawyers that the base was a prison, government lawyer Gregory Carre said the men were being held in "relatively unrestricted conditions" in Guantanamo Bay.

"It's regrettable they are in this situation, but we are actively seeking another country to take them," he said.

The group has been held in limbo at Guantanamo -- despite being cleared for release by the US government -- because officials can not find a country willing to take them.

The men cannot be returned to China because of fears they would be tortured there as political dissidents.

On October 7 federal Judge Ricardo Urbina ordered that the 17 men should be released in the Washington area where Uighur families are willing to shelter them.

But the government contested the decision, arguing it would set a bad precedent for others who are held in Guantanamo and pose a security risk. And the original ruling was frozen.

Three appeal court judges questioned government lawyers for almost an hour. Judge Judith Roger argued that the government had failed to provide evidence that the Uighurs, who hail from China's remote Muslim northwestern Xinjiang province, presented a security risk.

But two other judges seemed to be more favorable towards the government.

The Uighurs were living in a self-contained camp in Afghanistan when the US-led coalition bombing campaign began in October 2001. They fled to the mountains, but were turned over to Pakistani authorities, who then handed them over to the United States.

Only Albania has so far agreed to take in Uighur detainees, welcoming a group of five in 2006. Source: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gTp6mZQWkv9sTKFlWtre5cMlLTRQ

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/mufti-of-australia,-sheikh-fehmi-calls-for-desegregation-of-men-and-women-in-mosques/d/1014


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