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Islamic World News ( 21 Oct 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Muslim women's head scarf a veil of mystery

Muslim women's head scarf a veil of mystery

Fifteen Dead as Iraq Tribe Clashes With Militants

Middle Eastern Bloggers Commend Powell for Support of Muslim American

Istanbul: Religious leaders gather at UNFPA forum in Istanbul

WASHINGTON: Grameen Awards Celebrate Poverty Fighters in Muslim World

Dhaka: The price women leaders pay

Terror cell suspect Shane Kent out on bail

CAMDEN: Prosecutor: Al-Qaida inspired Fort Dix plot

KUWAIT: MP slams minister’s call for ‘dissolution of Parliament’

MAHALLA, Egypt: A Courtship Veteran Muses on Search for the Right Man

Indonesia: Bali bombers may launch another appeal

BEIJING: China calls for extradition of 8 alleged Islamic terrorists

Consumed with War on Terror, FBI Short-Staffed on Fraud

GALLO/GETTY: Court rejects Bali execution appeal

Xinhua: Eastern Turkistan terrorists wanted


Muslim women's head scarf a veil of mystery

By MARIAN GAIL BROWN, Staff writer Oct 21/2008

The hijab is a flowing slip of fabric Muslim women wrap scarf-like around their heads, tucking their hair beneath it so that not even a wisp escapes. They wear them pulled down to cover much of their foreheads, as well.

To the non-Islamic world, it is this modest bit of apparel that marks these women as Muslim. Even without intending to, these women stand out as different. From their attire, conclusions about them are drawn. That their religion is violent. Their devotion extreme. Their politics questionable.

Hijab is an Arabic term that means "to veil, to cover, to screen [or] to shelter." The Quran, however, does not mandate women wear hijabs. Rather, it instructs them to dress modestly. Most Islamic legal systems, based on centuries of Sharia -- Islamic jurisprudence -- interpret hijab as requiring women to dress so as to cover every part of their bodies with the exception of their face and hands when they are in public. And it can also refer to something metaphysical too. According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam and the Muslim World, the Quranic meaning of hijab "refers to a spatial curtain that divides [men and women] or provides privacy" and allows for women to be clearly "identified and not harmed" when they mingle or travel.

Long before she arrived on the Fairfield University campus as a freshman, Nargis Alizada, an Afghan refugee, donned a hijab in California when she became a teenager.

A motorcyclist spotted Alizada strolling down a San Diego street with her younger brother and drove off the road, onto the sidewalk, cursed her out as a "[bleep]ing Muslim. You're killing our people," and ripped her hijab off her head before knocking her down. The time was two years after the 9/11 attacks. "I was running as fast as I could," Alizada said. "I was so scared."

The experience left Alizada, her family and friends -- Muslim and non-Muslim -- shaken. Alizada's a petite, small-boned teenager with a waif-like look. It belies the dangers she's faced growing up in a fundamentalist country where it's illegal -- even a capital crime -- to teach a girl, or how her grandparents paid a tutor to educate her in secret in a basement of their home. Or how her dad paid smugglers $20,000 to sneak Alizada, her mom, sister and brother out of Afghanistan into Iran, hunched down under piles of hay and blankets in farm trucks and other vehicles.

"All of my friends figured I would stop wearing my hijab," Alizada said. "They told me that they understood if I didn't want to anymore."

Wearing a hijab is "part of our religion and our Quran's teachings to dress modestly," she said. "But I know many Muslim women who are devout who choose not to wear them."

Cultural differences

It can depend upon what country someone hails from. For instance, in Turkey, which is overwhelmingly Muslim, it is illegal for a woman to enter a government building, state-owned facility or public university wearing a hijab. Tunisia bans hijabs in some public places and police will halt women on the street to ask them to remove their hijabs. Tunisian authorities view hijabs as an uninvited form of sectarian dress.

By contrast, Bangladesh and Pakistan have no laws on hijabs, although there is strong social pressure in both countries for wearing them. In Saudi Arabia, Iran and under the Taliban regime, women are required to wear them whenever they leave their homes.

Surprising many of those closest to her, Alizada chose to continue wearing her hijab.

"There are so many places around the world where people can't practice their religion freely and openly if your religion is not that of the mainstream. And this is a country where people have the freedom of religion and the right to free speech. So why would I let some stranger dictate how I practice my faith? Why would I give this attacker that kind of power over me?" Alizada asks rhetorically. "It also makes me feel more comfortable when I go out in public. It's a sign of modesty. And I suppose there are certain sacrifices you make in different countries. My parents risked a lot to make it to the United States, so if wearing a hijab makes me more vulnerable to harm, I will have to be strong and accept that risk."

A matter of faith

Pure and simple, the motorcyclist's attack on Alizada was a hate crime. The Council on Islamic-American Relations claims each year there are an untold number of bias crimes against Muslims or people assumed to be Muslim. Most of them go unreported.

"If you know the truth about my religion," Alizada said, "then you know that it is a peaceful one and the people who are terrorists are extremists who don't represent the Islamic faith or the vast majority of Muslims."

Rabia Chaudry, a Bloomfield immigration attorney who graduated from the George Mason University School of Law in Virginia, is Muslim. After the 9/11 attacks, Chaudry started wearing a hijab. It wasn't to make a political statement. Her motivation came from her daughter. And the timing was coincidental.

Chaudry and her husband, an Islamic scholar, made decision years ago to enroll their daughter in an Islamic day school so she would learn Arabic at an early age, become bilingual, and have a deeper understanding of her religion, its history and its evolution.

The school the Chaudrys sent their daughter to, outside Washington, required all students to wear a uniform. At the elementary level, the girls wore dark blue, flowing pants, almost bell-bottom-like, and matching hijabs.

Chaudry, who was raised a Muslim, never wore a hijab as a teen or when she attended college or law school.

One morning while dropping off her daughter, she remarked about the garment. "We were talking in the car and I asked her whether she intended to wear it when she grows up," Chaudry recalls. "And she said, 'No, Mommy.' She asked me if I wanted to know why and I said, 'Sure, tell me.' And she said, 'I'm not going to wear a hijab because you don't, Mommy.' "

Chaudry's daughter's words singed. "So I started thinking about it," Chaudry said. "I didn't do it for any political reasons whatsoever. And it wasn't like I woke up one day and decided, 'OK, I'm going to wear a hijab,' not that there would have been anything wrong with that. Really what I did was take baby steps. One day I wrapped one around my head when I got in my car with my daughter. I kept it on while I dropped her off at school. Then I'd take it off. Some time later, I walked into the [federal] building where I worked and got all the way to the elevator. I'd remove it getting into the elevator. A while later, I walked into my office wearing it and none of the attorneys said anything. Obviously they noticed it. It was a while before a receptionist asked me about it."

And despite the tense climate in the country after the 9/11 attacks, Chaudry believes the receptionist inquired more out of curiosity than anything else.

To wear or not to wear

Inside the University of Bridgeport mosque on a recent Friday night during Ramadan, all 30 of the women during Salat, the evening prayer service, wear hijabs or burqas, full-length outer garments that cover their heads and bodies. More than half of them say they only wear hijabs when they go to the mosque. For others, it's a staple of their wardrobe.

Yasmeen Harb smooths her hands over the gray, bell-shaped burqa that hides her slim, youthful figure. On someone older, shorter and bigger boned, this apparel would look drab and dowdy. There's nothing sexy about it. Not in the least. Still, on Harb it has this 1960s Birkenstock-meets-Annie-Hall retro look.

Harb came to Connecticut four years ago from Jordan with her husband, who is studying for his doctorate at UB. She tucks a stray hair under her hijab, least it show.

"This is the way I took my driver's license picture," Harb said, adjusting the top of her white cotton hijab so that it covers most of her forehead. No one at the state Department of Motor Vehicles gave her a hard time about it.

"They never asked me to remove it. I think they understand what a hijab means to me. Some women wear them only when they come to mosques. Me, I wear mine wherever I go whenever I go out."



Fifteen Dead as Iraq Tribe Clashes With Militants

Tuesday 21 October 2008 by: Agence France-Presse

    Hilla, Iraq - At least 15 men were killed and 14 more wounded on Tuesday in fierce early morning clashes between insurgents and Sunni tribes in the central Iraq Shiite province of Babil, police and a medic said.

    The ferocious firefight came just two days ahead of a planned transfer of security control in Babil by US forces to Iraqi troops.

    Police lieutenant Haider al-Lami from Hilla, the capital of Babil, said the battle broke out in Jurf al-Sakhr, a town located on the border of the Sunni Anbar province and Shiite Babil, around 5.00am (0200GMT) and raged for about two hours.

    Lami said the fighting pitted suspected insurgents against members of the Sunni tribes Al-Osan and Al-Ojan, who had formed anti-Qaeda militia to oust the jihadists from their areas.

    Doctor Mohammed al-Shammari from the nearby town of Iskandiriyah confirmed receiving the bodies of the victims.

    Jurf al-Sakhr had been a violent town after insurgency broke out in Iraq following the US-led invasion of the country in 2003. But since the anti-Qaeda groups were formed late last year, a measure of stability was restored.

    The governor of Babil Salem al-Saleh Meslmawe told AFP on Tuesday that security control of Babil province was to be handed over to Iraqi forces on Thursday.

    "The decision represents the stability in the region," he said, before news was received of the early morning clashes.

    Babil police chief Major General Fadhel Radad confirmed the transfer.

    "The security forces in the province are ready to take control and these days they are handling the security efficiently in collaboration with the citizens," Radad said.

    Babil, site of historic archaeological treasures, is the 12th of Iraq's 18 provinces to be handed over to Baghdad's control amid improving security in the violence-wracked country.

    Baghdad, Diyala, Salaheddin, Nineveh, Kirkuk and Wasit remain under US control.

    The US military established a sprawling base in the historic town of Babylon, just north of Hilla, after they invaded Iraq in March 2003.

    According to UNESCO, their presence resulted in serious damage to Babylon's priceless antiquities.

    Like most other Iraqi provinces, Babil was ripped apart by violence after the US-led invasion, seeing regular sectarian attacks on Shiite pilgrims by Sunni insurgents and Al-Qaeda jihadists.

    In March 2007, a brutal suicide attack in Hilla killed at least 117 pilgrims and wounded nearly 200 more.


What a Top Terror Tracker Learned About Osama bin Laden

By Bobby Ghosh, Oct. 20, 2008

Dalton Fury is the nom de plume of a Delta Force commander who led U.S. troops in Afghanistan's Tora Bora Mountains in the end of 2001, when Osama a bin Laden was in full flight. Fury's new book, Kill Bin Laden: A Delta Force Commander's Account of the Hunt for the World's Most Wanted Man, is a riveting account of one of the most important — but also least understood — battles in the war on terror. It tells of the bravery of the men under his command, but also of the intelligence failures that allowed bin Laden and many top al-Qaeda leaders to escape from the mountains.

Fury, who can't use his real name because of security concerns, is now a private citizen. He spoke with TIME's World Editor, Bobby Ghosh, on the phone from an undisclosed

TIME: When you hear a U.S. Presidential candidate saying. "I promise we'll kill Osama Bin Laden," what runs through your mind?

Dalton Fury: What runs through my mind is that it doesn't really matter who is going to go in the White House next year. If there's no intelligence on where [bin Laden is] located, then you can have Mickey Mouse in the White House. If they had good actual intelligence now, they would have hit him a Hellfire missile, or even potentially sent a special team in there. But it's just not as easy as saying, "When I get elected, I'll kill him," because if we knew where he was now, we would have already made the attempt.

Are we getting better intelligence now?

I think we're always improving, we’re trying to build a better mousetrap, but you know, it's hard to fight [al-Qaeda] with conventional weaponry. The answer isn't always money. You can buy a thousand more Predator drones, and put them over there and clog the airspace, but they're not stupid — they know when the Predators are up there. So yeah we're going to make them fly higher and have more powerful cameras and all that stuff, but I think that because [al-Qaeda leaders] live in mud huts and they're barely washing and bathing themselves... that we somehow treat them as if they are inferior human beings.

How aware were they of your abilities, the abilities of the Delta Force?

I'd be naive to say that they weren't aware of it. I think they're smart enough and have shown a propensity to understand how the Internet works and how to get around being discovered by using various means.

The view that exists in the U.S., is that bin Laden's living in a cave somewhere, that he's cut off from the rest of the world.

Bin Laden garners a lot of support from people because he has the ability and the willpower to live in austere conditions, to live like the average Afghani or the average Pashtun — without a lot of creature comforts. It's hard for a Western mind to realize that bin Laden is perfectly comfortable with a couple of meals a day of flat bread and some rice, as long as he has can read the Koran and put out his audio and videotapes when he sees fit. It's hard to imagine anybody, any leader in the West to have the ability to do that, but he's shown that he can certainly do that.

What have you learned about him, his personality, or his lifestyle, that surprises you?

My book talks about him surrounding himself with individuals of his blood type, which I thought was very interesting. If he's wounded then he has a guy with the same blood, who can give him a transfusion. But, that's completely counter to the legend that bin Laden's bodyguards have been ordered to kill him if he is wounded in a battle. If that was true, in my personal opinion, he would have stayed in Tora Bora, and not ran. That surprised me very much. I really thought he would stay and fight as he advertised.

The other thing that surprised me was that [during the fighting in Tora Bora] he actually told his women and children to arm themselves and come out of the caves and fight the Americans. For a man of bin Laden's stature, who puts so much credence in the Koran and the afterlife and paradise, it seemed like he reduced himself to an actual human being, with actual fears and concerns for his own health, his own survival. In his sermons and tapes, he appears above those concerns, yet here he was, asking the women and children to do the fighting for him.

When detectives track a serial killer for a long time then, they can sometimes get in his head — and they can anticipate his next move. Do you feel the same way about Osama bin Laden?

I don't think we know that much about his personality, to tell you the truth. He's obviously been very evasive over the years, and you're not getting a lot of people walking in with information.

What is it that people in the U.S. still don't get about bin Laden that you think they ought to?

I think they don't get how powerful this Islamic religion is, and how powerful the Koran can be to a very small percentage, a minute percentage, of the Muslim community — people who will, in the name of bin Laden, or in the name of Jihad or like al-Qaeda ideology, strap on a suicide bomb or get into a bomb-laden vehicle, and blow up a hotel or a checkpoint — all in the name of bin Laden.

I think that he has such enormous magnetism that you almost have to respect it. No American is going to strap a bomb to himself and go kill someone in the name of Barack Obama or John McCain — that's not going to happen.

Many Americans think, "Hey come on, we're offering a reward of $25 million, we've been looking for this guy for seven years, so come on, what's the big deal? How hard can it be?" But when you actually get around those people [who shelter the al-Qaeda leaders] you see how honourable they are, how independent they are, how hospitable they are, all according to their religion. It's much different than communism, you know. We never faced that in the Cold War. This truly is a different enemy here.

What's next for you?

I have no idea, I'm a private citizen and I think I'll just spend family time and watch the news and see when we finally grab bin Laden. I hope it's a violent death. I hope he doesn't die of old age or health reasons. Personally I think he needs to die the same way that 3,000 individuals died on 9/11.

You don't want to see him being tried first?

I don't want to see him be tried, no. I don't think anybody does. I think it would be a circus. With Saddam Hussein, it was probably a good idea that he was tried, because millions of [Iraqis] hated him, he terrorized the majority of the country. No one in Afghanistan or Pakistan really hates bin Laden, so you don't have those millions of enemies that Saddam had.

Killing him it might make him a martyr, that's okay. I think [the terrorists will] soon forget about it. I think they'll lose their stomach for the fight when they see the mighty bin Laden was vulnerable, and was finally taken out. I don't think they'll have an easy time replacing him. I know the other top tier [al Qaeda leadership] can barely get along as it is; they all don't particularly like each other. I don't think there's anybody that can bring the following out like bin Laden can.



Middle Eastern Bloggers Commend Powell for Support of Muslim American

International bloggers have begun registering their feelings and opinions on Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama.

Speaking during a Sunday morning public affairs program, Powell, Secretary of State during President George W. Bush's first term, called Obama "a transformational figure" who would reach out in a more diverse, inclusive way across the United States.

Most international bloggers stayed away from making political prognostications of the endorsement. Instead, many investigated the social aspects of a one-time favorite for the GOP nomination to cross party lines and support a Democrat.

Dennis Jones, Jamican-born economist writes in his blog, living in Barbados, that it was the negative aspects of McCain's campaign -- like attempting to tie Obama to 1960s domestic terrorist Bill Ayers -- that pushed Powell towards the Democratic candidate.

    Powell also touched on negative reasons: he was "concerned about the negative direction McCain's campaign has taken recently"; that the U.S. has "managed to convey to the world that we are more unilateral than we really are''; that the Republican Party had moved more to the right than he liked; that the McCain campaign was seemingly "narrower and narrower" and "exclusive" (citing the feeble and over-the-top attempts to suggest that Obama is associating with terrorists). He was also concerned about the judgement shown in choosing Governor Sarah Palin as a vice presidential candidate: "I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president."

Yet, the issue of race in America is not only a problem for the McCain campaign or the rest of the Republican party. He continues:

    [Commentator] Tom Brokaw showed what is really a problem with America's attitude to race--amazing distrust of black people--by asking that Powell deal with the suggestion that his endorsement was because Obama was black. Powell rebutted by saying that he would have endorsed months ago had that been the case. It's extraordinary to get major political figures crossing party lines. But would anyone have suggested that a major woman politician endorsing Senator Hillary Clinton was because the two of them were women?

Manuel A. Tellechea at the Review of Cuban-American Blogs admits that he judges politicians by their positions on Fidel Castro. With Powell's politics, he was not surprised by the endorsement.

    In 2001 when Colin Powell declared before a House hearing that "Castro has done good things for his people," I knew immediately that he was an enemy of the Cuban people; and when, in 2006, Powell proclaimed on a trip to Brazil that "Cuba is no longer a major threat to Latin America," I knew that all the dominoes would be allowed to fall in the region before the Bush administration noticed that it had two dozen Cubas on its hands.

    It's no surprise to me, then, that Colin Powell would endorse Barack Obama, who's just as unconcerned as Powell is about the Castro regime's threat to the region and to its own people; but who, unlike Powell, can carry their shared beliefs to their logical conclusion -- negotiations without prior conditions and complete capitulation to the tyrant.

In the Middle East, bloggers focused on Powell's criticism of members of the Republican Party who have attempted to brand Obama a Muslim.

From Kuwait, Q80Economics points out that "it is really sad that being an Arab or a Muslim came to be an insult."

    That is thanks to extremism and terrorism that tarnished the reputation of all Arabs and Muslims. It is not enough to just fight terrorism after it happens. Extremism is growing strong in our society and within the political system. It is time to stand up for our freedom and salvage our reputation before extremists turn the country into a Taliban state.

The Palestinian blogger Haitham Saddah points out that while Powell can in part be blamed for the war in Iraq, he may be fighting for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.

    With all my personal reservation over Gen. Colin Powell's history and relation to Middle East wars and suffering; his recent stand against his party's racism is brave. Today in 'Meet the Press' at MSNBC, he spoke up for all Muslims and fair minded-Americans and definitely let-down his own party and washed his hands from the republicans rhetoric.

Talk Turkey, who admires Colin Powell, reminds readers that the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said both candidates were qualified to be President. Nonetheless, Talk Turkey returns to the rumours of Obama being a Muslim:

    During the interview, regarding the 'outcry' whether Obama is a Muslim, Powell noted that although Obama is a Christian, the following question should be asked instead, "What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?" For that comment I commend him. Why shouldn't a Muslim child born and raised in the U.S. not be able to dream today that she could one day be the President of the U.S.?

Finally, from Thailand, Jotman points out:

    Powell was right to endorse Obama. And he was right to criticize the McCain campaign for not reminding people that it would not be a bad thing if Obama was either Muslim or Arab.

This blogpost is cross-posted from Voices without Votes, a Global Voices project that aims to enable readers to experience American events through the eyes of ordinary citizens from outside the United States.   Source:


Religious leaders gather at UNFPA forum in Istanbul

Executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said on Monday that many young girls could not even dream of a better a life and different interpretations of religious beliefs.

The UNFPA brought together leaders from Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Christian and Muslim religions at a forum in Istanbul on Monday.

Human rights should focus on everybody, without making any distinctions between men and women, the young or the old, UNFPA's Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid told at the forum.

Obaid, born to a Muslim family from Medina, said she could become the person she was today thanks to education.

Obaid said not every young girl had the opportunity to get education in today's world.

Addressing the religious leaders attending the forum, Obaid said all religious beliefs depended on basic principles, one of which was the right to live an honourable life.

Religious leaders have a certain moral authority among the members of their communities, and therefore have the power to provide better living conditions for their followers, she said.

Nearly 75 religious leaders and representatives of different religious groups are attending UNFPA's forum in Istanbul. Issues such as "AIDS", "Reproduction Health", "Social Gender Equality", "Violence Against Women", "Making Motherhood Safer" and "Strengthening Women" will be discussed during the forum.    Source:



Media Advisory: Grameen Foundation 2008 Awards Celebrate Poverty Fighters in the Muslim World

By: Marketwire

Oct. 20, 2008


What: Grameen Foundation is honouring a microfinance pioneer and two organizations that have played pivotal roles in helping poor Muslim women access much needed financial services at its 2008 Microfinance Awards luncheon.

The honourees and other microfinance and international development leaders will also weigh in on the impact of the ongoing global crisis on the world's poor and what microfinance institutions can learn from the demise of financial giants at the annual Knowledge Sharing Roundtable which precedes the Awards luncheon.

Nurjahan Begum of Grameen Bank will receive the Susan M. Davis Lifetime Achievement Award for organizing women in Bangladesh's poorest villages and leading the fight for the rights of disadvantaged women for more than 30 years.

Mitra Bisnis Keluarga (MBK) Ventura of Indonesia will receive the Excellence in Microfinance Award and Al Tadamun of Egypt will receive the Grameen Foundation and Grameen-Jameel Pan-Arab Pioneer in Microfinance Award.

The honorary co-chairs are His Excellency M. Humayun Kabir, the Ambassador of Bangladesh to the U.S., and His Excellency Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat, the Ambassador of Indonesia to the U.S.

When:   Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Knowledge Sharing Roundtable: 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Awards Luncheon: 12 p.m. - 2 p.m.

Where:  The Cosmos Club, 2112 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.

Interview Opportunities:

Alex Counts, president, Grameen Foundation

Nurjahan Begum, general manager, Grameen Bank

Shafiq Dhanani, chief commissioner, and Elisabeth Sweeting,

CEO, Mitra Bisnis Keluarga (MBK) Ventura

Reham Farouk, executive director, Al Tadamun

Media Contact:  Liselle Yorke

202-628-3560, ext. 128; 202-549-3400 (mobile), Aout Grameen Foundation

Founded in 1997, Grameen Foundation's global microfinance network and technology initiatives touch more than 34 million lives in 28 countries. For more, visit Source:

The price women leaders pay

Bina D'Costa

IS the global media completely oblivious to the gendered semantics of the recent Bangladeshi political events? News article after news article, from one country's press to the other, is repeating titles such as "battling begums," "feuding begums," and "battered begums." For brevity, I will keep this list short. But start with the Economist articles such as Politics in Bangladesh: The begums are back (September 20), One Begum down (March 10, 2007), Battered Begums (April 14, 2007).

Then glance at the other headlines, such as AFP: Bangladesh government wants feuding "begums" to meet (September 15), Arab News: Dhaka seeks talks between "Battling Begums (September 14), The Daily Times: Battling Begums (September 11), Bangladesh's "Battling Begums" rule the roost again, Reuters India (September 25), The Australian: Close Up- Battle of the Begums (April 28, 2007). Bangladeshi newspapers have their own share of gendered language. Look at S.I. Zaman's piece in The Daily Star on October 8.

Do not get me wrong. I am all for political satire and ridiculing, and enjoy the most recent addition to these, i.e. Tina Fey's impersonation of Sarah Palin. This kind of ridiculing has a subversive element to it, and is used in witty/innovative ways even in many non-democratic and authoritarian states.

However, ridiculing Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia as begums does not highlight their political failings but rather their gender.

At a time when women's rights and voices are celebrated and thought to be integrated in the political and social lives of both Western and non-Western states, such headlines make me wonder how far we have come in reality?

In contrast to the "hard and stern" Hillary Clinton and Madeline Albright and the "iron lady" image of Margaret Thatcher, the winking Sarah Palin, glorified as a sex object in the recent US election campaign, perhaps appeals to some women and men.

On the other hand, when we read about battling or battered "begums" of Bangladesh, a poverty stricken largely Muslim nation, one could very well imagine Sheikh Hasina Wajed and Begum Khaleda Zia involved in scuffle, tearing each others' hair, and glaring at each other.

As "begums," both are portrayed as emotive women controlled by hormonal changes, who refuse to talk to each other; women who are not experienced in running the state, and should go back to the kitchen!

Women everywhere in the world have to go one step further to prove that they are equally excellent for carrying out a job. Muslim women have additional burdens. They have to prove their worth as women, as Muslim women, and as Muslim non-Western/brown women.

The global media vividly depict how four wives of one man fight each other for his attention in Afghanistan (for example, Hot Docs: Four Wives, One Man, SBS Australia, September 29) and how women suffer the worst fate of honour killings by their relatives in Pakistan (The Guardian, September 1).

These bring attention to violence against women in the name of culture, religion and traditions, raise public awareness, and highlight that women's concerns must be urgently addressed.

However, if not understood sufficiently and in context, there is a danger of stereotyped assumption that Muslim women are weak and powerless; women who fight with each other within their private space because they are terrified of the men who rule the public domain.

In a paradoxical manner, Muslim nations have seen important women leaders emerge. Critics would point out that for most of them, family connections were the key to their leadership functions. I will come back to this point later.

The origin of the word "begum" is Turkish (Begüm), meaning princess or a woman of high rank. Although, in the Indian subcontinent, begum is used as a title of Muslim women of higher rank, it is not uncommon for many other Muslim women to have begum as a title or even a name.

However, the way these articles apply the word "begum" implicitly derides not Sheikh Hasina's and Khaleda Zia's politics but their gender. This is what I object to.

Both have been blamed for contributing to Bangladesh's dark political reality and rightly so, as the leaders were responsible for the domestic instability in Bangladesh. Both came into power through the web of familial connections, which is common not only in politics but virtually in every significant aspect of economic and social stratifications in South Asia.

It is not their gender but their political histories that form the basis of the politics of antagonism between Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia.

It is not their gender, but their family connections that provided them with the opportunity to be involved in politics. Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia's ascendancy into politics because of family background is not that uncommon in global politics.

The Clintons or the Kennedys, the Senanayakes and the Bandaranaikes in Sri Lanka, Nehru-Gandhis in India, and Bhuttos in Pakistan are some examples of dynastic succession. Benazir Bhutto's autobiography, Daughter of Destiny, perhaps best portrays what family connections mean in South Asia.

Children and spouses of political leaders believe they have "moral authority" and are destined to be leaders as well. In many ways, public opinion/support also contributes to this belief of hereditary leadership. If a political leader is assassinated, often another family member bears the responsibility of completing the unfinished task of leading the people or the state.

The most recent example of this is Asif Ali Zardari and his young son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who is jointly leading PPP till Bilawal becomes an adult. Zardari, who used to be called "Mr. Ten Percent," is now the president of Pakistan. He bears an uncanny resemblance to Tarique Rahman in Bangladesh. Or is it my imagination?

With the exception of Indira Gandhi, none of the other political leaders, who appeared on the public stage through family influence in South Asia, have been suitably mentored to be leaders. Massive public sympathy following political assassinations and strategic choices of the other leaders in their political parties has landed most of them in leadership roles.

This is something we really need to consider. Political maneuvers in relation to important leadership decisions surrounding the prime ministers and presidents of South Asia are often overlooked. The ridiculing of women in leadership roles does not do women or men any favours.

Sexism and discriminatory practices against women do not stop by allowing women to vote, participate in elections, and voice their opinions.

Men and women journalists, academics and practitioners all have a responsibility to consciously use gender sensitive language, as their outputs have significant impact in shaping norms and practices. Also, ridiculing Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia as "begums" does not necessarily translate into pointing out their failure as leaders.

In a twisted way, familial connection has served as an opportunity to access political power for both men and women in Bangladesh. Family connections are important, not only in politics but in every aspect of economic and social life here. Who knows whom, and who is connected to who often determines who gets where? It is important to consider reforms in the society that will allow someone without any connection to show her or his potential.

However, ethnic and religious minorities, people living in rural or remote areas, children who do not attending English schools or the best Bangla schools, must be given opportunities that allow them to have access equally.

Neither AL nor BNP regimes have consciously improved the condition of marginalised people in Bangladesh. Benefits have trickled down in the name of the poor, but they have never actually been the primary beneficiaries.

Women in politics are often viewed as weak actors; Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia were no exceptions. The leaders and cronies surrounding them manipulated their naiveté in the earlier days of their role in politics.

Over time, both had perhaps become savvy in terms of Bangladesh's political culture, and both AL and BNP led regimes had made choices that plunged Bangladesh into various political crises. However, it is not their gender that is to be blamed for these recent crises.

Bina D'Costa writes from the Australian National University.



Terror cell suspect Shane Kent out on bail

Gary Hughes

 October 21, 2008

AN accused Muslim terror cell member linked to an alleged plot to attack the AFL grand final at the MCG has walked free on bail after almost three years in custody, saying he looked forward to seeing his three children.

"I'm glad to be out," said Shane Kent, 31, as he walked from Victoria's Supreme Court yesterday after his mother put up $50,000 surety to secure his release. Asked the first thing he planned to do, he replied: "See my kids".

Judge Paul Coghlan had earlier imposed 25 strict bail conditions on Mr Kent, who faces a retrial after a jury last month failed to reach a verdict on a charge that he was a member of the Melbourne terrorist cell run by self-proclaimed sheik Abdul Nacer Benbrika.

Mr Kent also faces two further charges of providing a resource to a terrorist organisation and preparing a document connected with the preparation of a terrorist act, which relate to a propaganda video he allegedly helped make.

The bail conditions will allow police to monitor Mr Kent's use of telephones, computers and the internet, and put him under a curfew between 10pm and 6am.

He will have to live at his home address, cannot go near airports or ports, must surrender any passports, cannot leave Victoria without notifying authorities and must report to police each day.

Mr Kent, who converted to Islam when he was 19, is prohibited from contacting in any way Benbrika and six other Melbourne Muslim men convicted last month of belonging to the Benbrika terrorist organisation.

Mr Kent, dressed in an open necked shirt and casual jacket, stood impassively in the dock while Justice Coghlan delivered his decision.

In court were his parents and mother-in-law, who was dressed in traditional Muslim garb.

Commonwealth prosecutor Mark Dean SC had opposed bail on the grounds that Mr Kent posed an unacceptable risk to public safety, might commit an offence and might attempt to flee before his retrial next year.

Justice Coghlan placed a temporary suppression order on the media reporting why the Crown considered Mr Kent an unacceptable risk.

He said the almost three years that Mr Kent had spent in custody awaiting trial constituted "exceptional circumstances" justifying the granting of bail.

"The lesson to him of engaging in unacceptable conduct of this kind has been brought home and brought home very severely," he said.

He said there was no evidence that Mr Kent had the financial means to escape from Australia and it was significant his "fellow travellers" in the Benbrika organisation were in custody.

During his earlier trial, at which he pleaded not guilty, the jury was told Mr Kent undertook about two months of paramilitary training, including the use of firearms and explosives, in an unnamed overseas country.

That trial was told the Benbrika group was committed to violent jihad and planned to launch an attack on the 2005 AFL grand final at the MCG. When that plan was foiled by ASIO and police raids, the group allegedly changed its target to either the MCG during the pre-season or Melbourne's Crown casino during Grand Prix week in 2006.

Justice Coghlan said efforts were being made to bring forward Mr Kent's retrial, due to he held in July next year.

Outside court Mr Kent's lawyer, Robert Stary, said it remained to be seen what would be the long-term impact of custody on his client.He said Mr Kent had been imprisoned in Victoria's maximum security unit at Barwon prison, and denied contact visits with adult members of his family. "You are locked up like an animal," Mr Stary said.



Prosecutor: Al-Qaida inspired Fort Dix plot

Oct 20-2008

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Five men who planned an attack on a New Jersey military base were inspired by al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden, a prosecutor said Monday during opening statements in their terrorism trial.

The government has presented the case as one of the most frightening examples of homegrown terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Authorities said that in 2006 and 2007, the men turned paintball games into terrorist training sessions and met to discuss a plot to sneak onto the Army's Fort Dix base and kill soldiers. No attack was carried out.

"Their motive was to defend Islam. Their inspiration was al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden. Their intent was to kill members of the United States armed services," Deputy U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick told the jury of eight women and four men.

Fitzpatrick said the jury would see jihadist videos that the defendants watched and would learn many details of the alleged plot, including assertions by the government that one of the men went on reconnaissance missions to Fort Dix and other military installations.

The men, all foreign-born Muslims in their 20s, are charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and weapons offenses.

Defense lawyers for Serdar Tatar, Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer and brothers Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka are expected to question the role of two paid government informants who made hundreds of hours of secret recordings in the case. The lawyers contend here was no plot but the government paid people to get them to discuss one.

Fitzpatrick tried to hedge against such criticism on Monday.

He said the FBI had to find people who would have credibility with aspiring terrorists; one of the informants was interested in citizenship and the other was interested in money, he said.

More than 200 people are on the list of potential witnesses in the trial, which is expected to go stretch into December.  Source:


MP slams minister’s call for ‘dissolution of Parliament’

KUWAIT CITY, Oct 20: Chairman of the Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee at the Parliament MP Nasser Al-Duwailah on Monday slammed State Minister for Housing and Administrative Development Affairs Mudhi Al-Humoud for allegedly calling for the dissolution of the Parliament after the committee announced its decision requiring female MPs and Cabinet members to wear the veil in accordance with the Islamic Sharia. The committee on Sunday unanimously agreed that the appointment Al-Humoud as well as that of Education and Higher Education Minister Nuriyah Al-Subaih is a violation of Article 82 of the Constitution and Article One of the Elections Law due to their failure to abide by Islamic regulations on the proper dress code — wearing ‘hijab’ (head cover for Muslim women). This decision has given rise to opposing views amongst the MPs.

Emphasizing that Al-Humoud’s statement is unacceptable, Al-Duwailah said the minister’s statement is tantamount to overstepping the jurisdiction of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, who has the sole authority to dissolve the Parliament. He urged Al-Humoud to apologize for her statement and called on HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to take the necessary measures in this regard. He asserted the committee announced its decision on the issue after conducting a thorough investigation in accordance with the law.

Political rights

Affirming the Parliament has instructed the committee to look into the issue, Al-Duwailah said the committee analyzed the issue according to a law on granting women their political rights. He explained the two female ministers have the right to wear whatever they like outside the Parliament but they should abide by Islamic regulations on wearing the veil inside Abdullah Al-Salem Hall. Al-Duwailah pointed out the committee decided on the issue after conducting a thorough investigation. “The ball is now in the government and Parliament courts. The two authorities should reach an agreement on whether to amend the law or not,” he opined. On the other hand, MP Abdullah Al-Roumi was stunned when the committee brought up the issue prior to the commencement of the second term in the twelfth legislative round. Clarifying the issue surfaced at the beginning of the previous round but it was not included in the committee’s agenda, Al-Roumi said the committee was supposed to hear the points of view of the Cabinet and constitutional experts before deciding on the issue.

Al-Roumi added the committee has fallen into a trap by relying on a majority vote without giving other members of the committee or the Cabinet a chance to express their opinions. “Article One of the Elections Law stipulates a dress code for elected female MPs, not the appointed ministers,” he contended. Committee MP Ahmed Al-Mulaifi, in the meantime, argued the law has not specified a condition for female ministers to wear ‘hijab’ as it stipulates on the need to abide by the Islamic regulations in general. “We cannot limit the scope of this law to Islamic dress code alone without consulting the Constitution. We merely discussed a law on the tenets of Islam and nobody mentioned anything about the veil per se. Limiting the tenets of Islam to issues concerning the veil is a form of discrimination against women,” he added.

Underscoring the need for a thorough study to determine whether this form of discrimination against women is constitutional or not, Al-Mulaifi warned the committee’s decision might lead to the cancellation of the results of previous parliamentary elections. “According to this decision, the votes of unveiled women are invalid, hence, the results of previous elections are inaccurate,” he explained.

On the committee’s statement that tribal elections should not be incriminated in Kuwait, Al-Mulaifi clarified “this is just the opinion of the committee as the final decision lies in the hands of the Parliament.” Affirming he is against the committee’s opinion, Al-Mulaifi said primaries strengthen ethnic and tribal influences in Kuwait and they should not be legalized through parliamentary elections.

By Dahlia Al-Kholaif and Abubakar A. Ibrahim

Arab Times Staff



A Courtship Veteran Muses on Search for the Right Man

By Ellen Knick Meyer

Washington Post Foreign Service

October 21, 2008

MAHALLA, Egypt -- There was the soccer-loving suitor, who interrupted his first meeting with his potential bride to flick on her family's television and, red-faced, cheer on his team in their living room.

There was the policeman suitor, who launched a not-so-private preliminary investigation of his intended and her family.

And the bearded, sandaled, fundamentalist suitor, whose other two wives did not take to her on first acquaintance quite as much as he did.

For 29-year-old Ghada Abdel Aal, a lively and often laughing veteran of eight years of Egyptian courtship campaigns, the answer to each and every proposal to date has been the same: No.

What's a little unusual about Abdel Aal is that she has continued to turn down proposals, even as she nears 30, resisting the entreaties of suitors, friends and family members who fear for her happiness and future.

What's really unusual about Abdel Aal is that she wrote about it all.

In a blog and now a top-selling book, both called, "I Wanna Get Married," Abdel Aal lifts the veil on the demure role young women are expected to play in these encounters -- which often bring on gawaaz al-salonat -- living-room marriages. Not so much arranged marriages as suggested ones; they involve a potential groom, nominated by family or friends, meeting a prospective bride and her family in their home over awkward rounds of tea.

In marriage especially, the ways of East and West remain ever far apart. Many people in the most traditional sectors of Muslim society still regard marrying for love as slightly shameful, an indication that a couple went behind their parents' backs for romance.

For women such as Abdel Aal, who covers her hair in the style of observant Muslim women and still lives with her father in the factory city of Mahalla, living-room marriages remain the norm.

The truth about young women here, according to Abdel Aal: Most want to get married at least as much as men do.

The truth about Abdel Aal in particular, she said: She wants to marry, but not just anyone.

She began the blog in her early 20s. "There was a proposal from a groom to be. I decided to write about it, and seek the opinion of others," Abdel Aal recounted at a cafe on the edge of Mahalla.

"I was surprised to find the support from men, and at the response from women -- 'Yes, please, write for us. Write in our names,' " she said.

Sitting at a bare table because it was Ramadan and she was fasting, she wore a fuchsia head scarf in colors complementary to her long skirt and blouse. Several other women ringed the table, laughing along with her at her stories.

Her book is in its fourth printing in six months. Her writing -- in colloquial Arabic rather than the classical form usually used in publishing -- has struck a chord with many young Muslims. They write from Canada, Pakistan and Bangladesh to express support.

And in Egypt, many women see it as their story. "All the girls in Egypt have faced the same situation," said Enggy Aly, a 24-year-old clerk at a bookstore in downtown Cairo.

Abdel Aal has her detractors. Some write on blogs that she is an embarrassment to Islam, or to Egyptian women. Some call for a volunteer to marry her, so as to stop her writing.

Abdel Aal's appearances on Egyptian television to promote her book are painfully dry. Typically, interviewers seek her opinion about growing rates of spinsterhood, a concern here and in much of the Arab world.

Any Arab man wishing to marry is expected to hold a good job and to throw a lavish wedding. Unable to meet those demands, many young Arab men live with their parents, unmarried, deep into adulthood. In the Middle East, nearly 50 percent of men between 25 and 29 are unmarried, according to a study cited by the Dubai School of Government. That compares to 23 percent in Asia and 31 percent in Latin America.

That means that women wait too, but for those who are more affluent, waiting has brought more opportunities, more choices. "Girls today in their 20s, now they're educated. Now they work. They're not going to marry the first guy who knocks at the door," Abdel Aal said.

That does not mean Abdel Aal did not faithfully follow the rules of courtship. She did, and still does.

In college, when she studied to be a pharmacist, she and her friends were stalwart in resisting flirtations with male students, she said. Without the men approaching the women's families first, it was impossible to trust their intentions.

Weddings were prime hunting grounds, where families scouted possible brides for their young men. After a wedding, a videotape circulates among families, Abdel Aal said. "It's very important to make sure you get on the videotape."

Each feint toward a suitor, each retreat, she recounted on her blog, and then in her book. She borrowed courtship anecdotes from her friends for her blog.

Her family has come to appreciate her writing, she said. Her father chides her if she lets too long go by between updating blog entries. Her brother tells her, " 'You just have to forget about ever getting married in Mahalla now,' " she said.

At her age, Abdel Aal expects he's right. "No man tells his mother, 'Oh, please, Mom, find me a bride who is fair-skinned, beautiful, and 30,' " she said.

But her writing has expanded her horizons. People in the film industry have signaled they like her work, and she is taking a screenwriting course.

And she still struggles to make her world understand her view -- wanting marriage, but not blindly marrying. "I'm still hoping to meet someone. Someone I would decide, yes -- I like him."  Source:


Bali bombers may launch another appeal

October 21, 2008

Lawyers will urge the families of three Bali bombers to launch yet another appeal after a court backed the use of firing squads in their looming executions.

Indonesia's Constitutional Court on Tuesday acknowledged the three Islamic militants might suffer pain when they are executed, but ruled that death by firing squad does not amount to torture.

Lawyers for Amrozi, his brother Mukhlas and Imam Samudra had asked the court to consider if executions carried out in such a way are unconstitutional.

Because the men might not die immediately, it could be considered a form of torture, the lawyers said.

But the court rejected the argument, saying no form of execution - including beheading, lethal injection, electrocution or hanging - could be guaranteed to be painless.

"There is no method which can guarantee there will be no pain in the implementation. All have the risk of inaccuracy in the implementation, which will cause pain," Judge Mohammad Mahfud ruled.

"But this is not something like torture ... as meant by ... the constitution."

The constitutional court appeal was the latest in a long line of legal manoeuvres aimed at delaying the executions of the men, who publicly claim they are ready to die.

They have shown no remorse for killing mostly Western tourists in the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed a total of 202 people including 88 Australians.

But the actions of their lawyers suggest they are anything but ready to die, and on Tuesday yet another appeal was flagged.

"They still have an avenue because their families still have the right ... for an appeal," defence lawyer Wirawan Adnan told reporters.

He said any new judicial review - if sought by the families, and allowed by the courts - would be held in Bali's Denpasar District Court and would follow the same arguments used in previous appeals.

"I'm not saying I will do it (but) this is going to be my advice to the family," Adnan said.

The bombers had a right to "maximum defence under the constitution," he said.

He said the defence team had a minor win on Tuesday, with the constitutional court recommending that Indonesia's death penalty laws be reviewed in the future, in line with technological and scientific developments.

"That was the message from this court, so that in the future we could have a better death sentence in the country," he said.

"That would be the job for the government and the legislators."

Spokesman for Indonesia's Attorney Generals Office Jasman Pandjaitan said the court had simply confirmed the current method of execution in Indonesia.

"The law has said that death execution is by firing squad, and that has been reinstated by the Constitutional Court," Jasman told Indonesia's ElShinta radio.

"The Attorney General is only implementing the laws.

"We have clearly said that the execution will be somewhere in a proper time in 2008."

The Attorney General's office is due to announce further details of the executions on Friday, and has said it wants them carried out by the end of the year.

The Bali bombers have vowed there will be retribution if their executions go ahead.

© 2008 AAPSource:


China calls for extradition of 8 alleged Islamic terrorists


Oct 21 2008 BEIJING

Chinese police on Tuesday called for the arrest and extradition to China of eight alleged Islamic terrorist group leaders and core members accused plotting attacks against the Beijing Olympics.

A Public Security Ministry spokesman said the eight men, all Chinese citizens, were believed to have financed, incited, and organized a series of terrorist activities during and around the Aug. 8-24 games as part of an ongoing insurgency against Chinese rule in the traditionally Muslim west.

In brief comments during the news conference, Wu Heping gave no information about the men's believed whereabouts, but called on foreign countries to arrest and extradite them to China to face justice. Source:


Consumed with War on Terror, FBI Short-Staffed on Fraud

October 20, 2008

By Josh Katz

Questions abound about the government’s ability to investigate wrongdoing during the economic meltdown, as FBI resources have been focused on domestic terrorism.

FBI Struggles to Combat White-Collar Crime

Since Sept. 11, 2001, FBI resources have been shifted substantially to deal with the domestic terrorist threat instead of white-collar crime, according to an article published in The New York Times this weekend. Now, the agency is understaffed as it tries to investigate impropriety involving the financial meltdown.

More than 1,800 agents, comprising about one-third of the force in criminal programs, were reassigned to terrorism and domestic intelligence, Reuter’s reports. White-collar crime divisions lost more than 600 agents, “more than one-third of 2001 levels.” Cases against insurance fraud dropped 75 percent and securities fraud cases fell by 17 percent from 2000 to 2007, according to Justice Department numbers. That data accounted for a 50 percent decrease in fraud prosecutions aimed at financial institutions for those years.

As a whole, the FBI brought 26 percent fewer criminal cases to federal prosecutors in the past seven years, according to The New York Times. Justice Department data indicates that the number fell from 11,029 cases to 8,187 in that time period.

“Clearly, we have felt the effects of moving resources from criminal investigations to national security,” said John Miller, an assistant director at the FBI, according to the Times article. “In white-collar crime, while we initiated fewer cases over all, we targeted the areas where we could have the biggest impact. We focused on multimillion-dollar corporate fraud, where we could make arrests but also recover money for the fraud victims.”

Reuters also writes that the Bush administration rejected FBI requests to move more resources away from terrorism, even though officials in the department had alerted the department of a potential mortgage crisis since 2004.

Some in the administration feel that the Justice Department moved “too aggressively” against corporate fraud after the fall of Enron in 2002, the Times reports. Senior officials in the White House and the Treasury Department were allegedly “concerned the Justice Department and the FBI were taking an anti-business attitude that could chill corporate risk taking.”

Paul Wallis of the Digital Journal explains the paradox of the situation: “National security has therefore helped create a problem of national insecurity unparalleled in American history.” According to Wallis, “The FBI lost a lot of its crime budget and human expertise and resources in the process of fighting the War on Terror, which, ironically, has turned out cheaper than the economic terror of the meltdown.” He also blames congressional earmarks and pork for some of the problem, claiming that states and lobbyists gain projects and money while agencies like the FBI are stripped of funding.

In an entry, Business Law writer Matthew Nelson voiced dismay when he learned that the short-staffed FBI was counting on state and local authorities to counter white-collar crime. He uses his home state of Massachusetts as an example, where he says the local government can hardly pay for improvements to infrastructure. “There simply is very little, if any, state and local money available to combat illegal corporate activity.”

Related Topic: Excessive force raises questions about recruitment standards after 9/11

After Sept. 11, police departments lost many recruits to military service. Consequently, they have been in stiff competition to entice recruits, and sometimes, stringent training might fall by the wayside, according to USA Today.

The Justice Department indicated that from 2001 to 2007 the use of disproportionate force by law enforcement authorities jumped 25 percent. According a December 2007 USA Today article, the statistics “come as the nation’s largest police union fears that agencies are dropping standards to fill thousands of vacancies and ‘scrimping’ on training.”

James Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the largest police union in the United States, points out that the cases account for only a small number of the roughly 800,000 police in the country. But he insisted, “These are things we are worried about.”



Court rejects Bali execution appeal

More than 200 people died in the October 2002 Bali nightclub bombings GALLO/GETTY

Indonesia's constitutional court has rejected an appeal by the three Bali nightclub bombers against their execution by firing squad.

The ruling is thought to overcome the final hurdle before carrying out the death sentences against the three men convicted over the 2002 attacks.

The three bombers - Mukhlas, Amrozi and Imam Samudra - had been sentenced to death by firing squad, but their lawyers argued the method constituted torture and that beheading was a more humane sentence.

That was rejected by the court, which said the reasons given were "baseless".

"The pain generated by a firing squad is a natural effect, and it's not torture," court Chairman Mohammad Mahfud MD told reporters.

The case was presented to Indonesia's constitutional court when the three men were about to be executed shortly before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

"The pain generated by a firing squad is a natural effect, and it's not torture"

Mohammad Mahfud MD, court chairman

During the hearing witnesses who had seen other executions testified that in one case someone was still alive up to seven minutes after being shot and was obviously in deep pain.

The bombers also said that according to Islamic law beheading would be the right method of execution.

Another more "humane" method would be a lethal injection, they argued.

More than 200 people died in the Bali nightclub bombings, many of them foreign tourists.

As a result the case and the fate of the bombers has attracted intense international interest.

Indonesia's attorney general has said he will give more details about the time of execution this coming Friday, with analysts saying the execution could follow within days.

The executions, considered a politically highly sensitive issue in Indonesia, have been delayed on several occasions without clear reasons.

Indonesian police are reported to have planned a massive security operation to handle any violence that follows the executions.

Most executions in Indonesia are carried out by firing squad at undisclosed locations late at night.



Police: Eastern Turkistan terrorists wanted


Chinese police announced here Tuesday morning the names of eight terrorists of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

They are: Memetiming Memeti, Emeti Yakuf, Memetituersun Yiming, Memetituersun Abuduhalike, Xiamisidingaihemaiti Abudumijiti, Aikemilai Wumaierjiang, Yakuf Memeti and Tuersun Toheti.

In a news briefing organized by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), spokesman Wu Heping said since 2007, the ETIM terrorists have plotted, organized and implemented a series of terrorist activities in China to sabotage the Beijing Olympic Games.

The Chinese police timely frustrated those criminal activities, Wu said.

The eight terrorists whose names were just released are diehard ETIM members and were deeply involved in terrorism. They led, planned, or organized criminal activities, as well as recruited or trained followers, Wu said.

Wu called for global cooperation to ferret out whereabouts of the eight announced terrorists and extradite them to the Chinese government.

Wu said the Chinese police welcome international collaboration in fighting against terrorism and hope to cooperate with other countries in sharing anti-terrorism intelligence, cutting off funding channels of terrorists and extraditing suspects.

He said some of the announced terrorists plotted, led and schemed violent terrorist activities, while others involved in the recruiting and training of terrorist organizations members, collected funding, or attempted to launch terrorist attacks through bombing and poisoning.

The Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), also called the East Turkistan Islamic Party, Allah Party or the East Turkistan National Revolution Association, is one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations among "East Turkistan" terrorist forces. It acts for the aim of splitting China by means of terror and establishing a theocratic "Eastern Turkistan Islamic State" in Xinjiang, northwest China.

China released in 2003 the first name list of four "East Turkistan" terrorist groups and 11 East Turkistan terrorists. Apart from the ETIM, the East Turkistan Liberation Organization (ETLO), the World Uygur Youth Congress (WUYC) and the East Turkistan Information Centre (ETIC) were also on the list.