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Islamic World News ( 11 Feb 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Osama Bin Laden's Son Warns His Successors Will Be Worse

New Delhi to formulate amnesty plan for Kashmiri youth in PoK camps

Hindus in Quetta seek protection

The Islamic republic of Iran at 31

Dubai court annuls marriage to 'bearded lady'

U.S. announces sanctions on Iran-linked firm

At least 17 dead, 61 wounded in Somalia shelling

Muslims support educating girls & boys equally: Pew poll

A Challenge to the Iranian Islamic Regime 31 Years On

Iran Blocks Gmail; Will Offer Surveillance-Friendly National Email Instead Revolution's anniversary raises tensions

“My Life with the Taliban” – on study and Islamic values

From Maududi to Aafia

Dyer: Banning burqa in France not about gender equality

Palace urged to consider naming women to Mindanao peace panel

Christian teacher 'forced out' after complaining Muslim pupils praised 9/11 hijackers 'as heroes'

Islam denounces suicide attack

Egypt's Copts fearful amid increasing tensions

Afghanistan avalanches kill 150 in Salang Pass

Passengers stunned as Muslim driver stops bus mid-route to pray

Egypt arrests 3 top Muslim Brotherhood leaders

Who and what defines blasphemy?

Islamic position on burkas

Where Three Dreams Cross: A stunning success

Nobel winner: Stop Iran catastrophe

Iraq orders ex-Blackwater contractors out

Indonesia jails former corruption chief over murder

Iranians rally to mark revolution

Somali rebels 'pour into Mogadishu'

West Bengal announces reservation for Muslims in govt jobs

Bengal's quota decision came after nudge from Centre

Andhra’s quota for Muslims quashed

Muslim body to build consensus on quota

Provide CISF security for Ajmer Sharif: Rajasthan CM

BJP slams Congress, Left for reservation to Muslims

Radicalism casts shadow on Central Asia

Taslima returns to India

UK court quashes student’s terrorism conviction

US frees Iraqi photographer held for 17 months

French envoy justifies burqa ban

Dubai: World’s tallest tower closed

Bad to Worse in Iraq

US Congressman and Iraq war critic John Murtha dies at 77

The New French Fashion in Civil Rights

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL of this Page: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/osama-bin-laden-s-son-warns-his-successors-will-be-worse/d/2453

 

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Osama Bin Laden's Son Warns His Successors Will Be Worse

Omar Bin Laden Says the U.S. Will Never Catch His Father

By LARA SETRAKIAN

DUBAI Feb. 11, 2010

Osama bin Laden's son has a chilling warning for those who are hunting his father with drones, secret agents and missile strikes.

From Omar bin Laden's up-close look at the next generation of mujahideen and al Qaeda training camps he says the worst may lie ahead, that if his father is killed America may face a broader and more violent enemy, with nothing to keep them in check.

"From what I knew of my father and the people around him I believe he is the most kind among them, because some are much, much worse," Omar bin Laden, who was raised in the midst of his father's fighters, told ABC News in an exclusive interview. "Their mentality wants to make more violence, to create more problems."

Omar has turned his back on his father's philosophy, a remarkable step for a man in an Arab culture where it is a sin to disobey his father and taboo to openly criticize him. It was doubly significant for Omar bin Laden because his father had picked him to succeed him as the leader of jihad.

The son spoke out again recently after hearing his father in an audio tape praise the attempt by the so-called "underwear bomber" to blow up a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas Day.

"Attacking peaceful people is not being fair, it is unacceptable. If you have a problem with armies or governments you should fight those people. This is what I find unacceptable in my father's way," Omar told ABC News.

"My father should find some letter to send to all of these people, at least to tell them they shouldn't attack the civilians," he said. Omar is a clearly conflicted peacenik, bearing some signs of a loyal son and trying to explain his father's hatred. When asked whether there is anything his father likes about the United States, Omar says "their weapons," and nothing else.

The son of Osama, however, had praise for the U.S. saying, "They don't care what is your race, what is your skin, where you come from, this is very good."

And despite the $25 million bounty on his father's head and the ever-searching drones, Omar is confident that his father won't be caught and that no Afghan will turn him in.

"It's been 30 years now since he started fighting there. Who could catch him? No one.... This is the country that whoever gets in is stuck, be it the armies or the mujahideen," he said. Omar says even he does not know where his father is.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/Afghanistan/exclusive-osama-bin-ladens-son-warns-qaeda-leader/story?id=9794603&hpid=moreheadlines

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New Delhi to formulate amnesty plan for Kashmiri youth in PoK camps

Vinay Kumar

In response to a demand raised by Omar Abdullah

NEW DELHI: For the first time, the Centre has agreed to formulate a general amnesty plan for Kashmiri youth undergoing training in terrorist camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

The broader contours of the package to facilitate their return to their homes would be worked out in consultation with the Jammu and Kashmir government, top Home Ministry officials said here on Monday. It also formed part of a recommendation made by one of the five working groups set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to address various dimensions of the Kashmir problem. One of the groups, asked to suggest internal confidence- building measures, recommended safe passage for Kashmiri youth based in PoK.

The Centre's move came in response to a demand raised by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday while speaking at the Chief Ministers' conference on Internal Security here. "We have agreed in principle to facilitate the return of youth desirous to come back and lead a normal life," the sources said. Speaking at the conference, Mr. Abdullah sought the Centre's help in formulating a new surrender policy for youth in PoK who were willing to return to the mainstream but did not want to come back with weapons.

"To encourage more militants to return to the State and manage their transition to civilian life, a new surrender and rehabilitation policy of militants is under active consideration of my government," he said. Successive governments in Jammu and Kashmir have been urging the Centre to take such an initiative. The Congress-PDP government, headed by the former Union Home Minister, Mufti Mohammed Saeed, had strongly favoured giving a safe passage to "misguided" youth to return to their homes, but had failed to convince the Centre. Highly placed sources in the Home Ministry said the process to frame guidelines had already begun. The answer to some contentious issues - such as how to differentiate between those who have committed heinous crimes and the ones with a clean record - would be worked out in consultations with the State Government and security agencies, the sources added.

Significantly, the Centre is looking at the issue as an "important political demand" raised by Mr. Abdullah that could have a far-reaching impact on the psyche of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Political demand

"Certainly, it is a political demand, and if the persons holed up in training camps wish to come back, they can be permitted," the sources added.

It is likely that the Centre will work out a comprehensive package for those choosing to return to their homeland. Apart from providing safe passage, it is also likely to include incentives for their rehabilitation. "All these aspects will be properly addressed in a wholesome manner," the sources said.

http://www.hindu.com/2010/02/09/stories/2010020977771200.htm

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Hindus in Quetta seek protection

By Amanullah Kasi

10 Feb, 2010

QUETTA, Feb 9: The community of Hindus in Quetta has called upon the Balochistan government to curb the rising cases of kidnapping for ransom and robbery being perpetrated against its members.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday with Minorities Minister Basant Lal Gulshan, a leader of Quetta Hindu Panchayat, Shyam Kumar, said the deteriorating law and order situation had served to heighten the vulnerability of the community.

He said the Hindus were a peace loving community and were as patriotic as any other community.

Mr Kumar said the community had played its due role in economic development of the country. He said the community faced social and religious discrimination despite rendering numerous sacrifices for the country.

He said the shop of a Hindu trader was looted recently and last month three businessmen belonging to the community were kidnapped.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/national/hindus-in-quetta-seek-protection-020

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The Islamic republic of Iran at 31

 

Many Iranians believe the official demonstrations celebrating the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution represent the calm before another storm, writes analyst Arshin Adib-Moghaddam.

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam.

Thirty-one years ago at this very moment millions of Iranians were celebrating the return of Ayatollah Khomeini from exile pinning their hopes on this enigmatic cleric who had risen, it seemed, like Phoenix out of the ashes in order to deliver the Islamic republic. Today, the children of that revolution are cumbersome, wary and divided over the future of their project.A

At the time of writing the situation is familiar. Hundreds of thousands have roamed the "Freedom Square" in Tehran and are listening to the speech of President Ahmadinejad. Galvanised by the massive bureaucracy of the state, they are celebrating the demise of the Shah and the establishment of the Islamic republic 31 years ago.

But there is a layer of uncertainty about what is to come after the official demonstrators disperse. Many Iranians believe that it could be the calm before yet another storm. It has been a major strategy of the opposition to confront the government on official occasions, not only in order to protest the contested election of President Ahmadinejad, but also in order to demonstrate that there is a mass movement behind their strident calls for reform.

And so Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Moussavi and the "Sheikh of reforms", former parliamentary speaker Mehdi Karroubi, have also called for peaceful demonstrations.

There have been calls for calm and security from all sides, but Iranians remain anxious. Residents in Tehran and the other metropolitan cities fear that the brutal scenes of previous demonstrations may repeat themselves.

Yet none of the protagonists of the unfolding drama has an interest in escalating things on the streets at this stage. Karroubi and Moussavi have distanced themselves from the violent splinter groups within their ‘green movement’. The government has put all the security organs on high alert. Riot gear has been distributed, crowd control manoeuvres have been excessively practiced. Demonstrating unity in the face of foreign aggression is the word of the day.

Full report at: www.channel4.com/news/articles/world/middle_east/the+islamic+republic+of+iran+at+31/3535747

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Dubai court annuls marriage to 'bearded lady'

An Emirati woman wearing a niqab walks past a mannequin at a bridal wear show in Dubai, April 2007

The envoy discovered the deception on lifting the woman's veil to kiss her

An Arab country's ambassador to Dubai has had his marriage contract annulled after discovering the bride was cross-eyed and had facial hair.

The woman had worn an Islamic veil, known as the niqab, on the few occasions the couple had met.

The envoy, who has not been identified, told a Sharia court her mother had tricked him by showing him pictures of the bride's sister, Gulf News reported.

He only discovered the deception when he lifted the woman's veil to kiss her.

The court had annulled the marriage contract but rejected a $130,000 (£83,000) compensation claim for gifts he had bought his intended, the report sai

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8508077.stm

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U.S. announces sanctions on Iran-linked firm

By LAURA ROZEN

| 2/11/10

A day after Iran said it was beginning to feed low-enriched uranium through centrifuges at its Natanz pilot facility, the U.S. announced sanctions on an engineering firm said to be controlled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard  Corps.

The Treasury Department designation of an IRGC-controlled construction firm, the Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters, as well as of four subsidiaries and the IRGC general who runs it, is based on an existing executive order freezing the assets of designated proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and their supporters.

“Today’s designations include IRGC General Rostam Qasemi, who is also the commander of Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters, the engineering arm of the IRGC that serves to help the IRGC generate income and fund its operations,” a Treasury Department announcement on the designation said. “Khatam al-Anbiya is owned or controlled by the IRGC and is involved in the construction of streets, highways, tunnels, water conveyance projects, agricultural restoration projects and pipelines.”

Also Wednesday, Treasury designated four companies said to be controlled by Khatam al-Anbiya: the Fater Engineering Institute, the Imensazen Consultant Engineers Institute, the Makin Institute and the Rahab Institute.

Full report at: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0210/32811.html

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At least 17 dead, 61 wounded in Somalia shelling

At least 17 people were killed and 61 injured in fighting between government forces and Islamist insurgents in the Somali capital Mogadishu, officials said on Thursday.

Government soldiers fired mortars at insurgent positions in the heavily populated Bakara market area on Wednesday after coming under attack, witnesses said.

“We admitted 61 wounded people from yesterday’s shelling,” a doctor at the Medina Hospital told the German Press Agency dpa.

“Three of them died inside the hospital during treatment.” Ali Muse, the head of Mogadishu’s ambulance service, told dpa that eleven civilians died, while other witnesses said that another three had been killed.

Insurgent group al-Shabaab, which recently announced it was joining al-Qaeda’s international jihad, is pushing to oust the weak Western-backed government and controls much of Mogadishu and south and central Somalia.

Civilians are often caught in the crossfire, and human rights organizations and aid agencies have called on both the government and insurgent groups to minimize civilian casualties.

The shelling came as forces built up in Mogadishu in advance of an expected government assault on al-Shabaab’s positions.

Full report at: http://beta.thehindu.com/news/international/article104867.ece

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Muslims support educating girls & boys equally: Pew poll

 

NEW YORK - Muslims overwhelmingly support educating girls and boys equally, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Centre.

More than eight-in-ten in Lebanon (96pc), Indonesia (93pc), Turkey (89pc), Pakistan (87pc) and the Palestinian territories (85pc) say that it is equally important to educate girls and boys, the survey released Friday said.

The survey was conducted in six predominantly Muslim nations - Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey as well as the Palestinian territories and the Muslim population of Nigeria and Israel’s Arab population.

The survey finds that there is limited enthusiasm for most of the Muslim political figures tested on the survey, with the exception of Saudi King Abdullah, who is the most popular. In Jordan (92pc) and Egypt (83pc) for example, large majorities say they have confidence that King Abdullah will do the right thing in world affairs. The king receives quite positive ratings outside the Middle East as well, especially in the largely Muslim Asian nations: Pakistan (64pc) and Indonesia (61pc). However, the Saudi monarch does not receive high marks everywhere - only 8pc of Turks voice confidence in him, it said. And overall his ratings are less positive than they were in 2007.

Full report at: www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/International/06-Feb-2010/Muslims-support-educating-girls--boys-equally-Pew-poll

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A Challenge to the Regime 31 Years On

By Maseh Zarif, Varun Vira, Katherine Faley, John Karian

February 9, 2010

February 11 marks the 31st anniversary of the consolidation of the revolution in 1979 that resulted in the Islamic Republic of Iran.  The annual holiday represents a deeply significant and symbolic date for the regime; an opportunity to tout its supposed achievements, display its defiance and convey strength to its citizens and the world.  This year’s celebrations, however, will be orchestrated amidst an uneasy environment brimming with tensions within the political establishment and bold challenges to the regime.  Both the current administration of Ahmadinejad and the regime’s power vested in the Supreme Guide have received criticism and denunciations from a wide range of sources including anti-regime protesters, reformist leaders, clerical authorities and members of parliament, among others.  The events of the day could signify another important marker for the factions within the opposition, including the anti-regime core, despite the regime’s best efforts to choreograph the day to fit its narrative.

The CTP’s IranTracker will be providing recurring updates on the situation in Iran leading up to and during the events of February 11.  IranTracker will highlight here the major statements, activities, and events involving the protest rallies, nominal opposition and reformist leaders, the regime’s tactics and responses to dissent, and international responses.  The project will also map out all reports of protests, clashes, incidents of violence, and arrests here.

http://www.irantracker.org/analysis/february-11-2010-challenge-regime-31-years

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Iran Blocks Gmail; Will Offer Surveillance-Friendly National Email Instead Revolution's anniversary raises tensions

 

The Iranian government announced yesterday that Google’s email service, Gmail, will be permanently shut down in the country, and will be replaced by a new state-run email service.

The announcement from the Iranian telecommunications agency came on the eve of the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Republic, when anti-government protesters were expected to take to the streets. Less than a year ago, thousands of protesters came out in huge rallies protesting the disputed June presidential election. The protests plunged Iran into its biggest internal crisis since the victory of Islamic revolution in 1979 which toppled the Shah [Reuters]. The opposition rallies were watched across the world on YouTube videos, and protesters not only blogged about the events but were also very vocal on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Tehran insists locking down Gmail is meant to boost local development of Internet technology and to build trust between people and the government [Wall Street Journal]. Meanwhile, Google confirmed a sharp drop in traffic in Iran and announced that many Iranians appeared to be having trouble accessing Gmail. The company added that Google strongly believes that people everywhere should be able to communicate freely online.

Internet experts have warned that Tehran’s latest move is yet another attempt to manipulate the flow of information within the country. The government already has control over Iranian TV, radio and newspapers. Richard Stiennon, founder of the Internet security firm IT-Harvest, said, “If the government can induce the population to use a state-controlled email service, it would have access to the content of all of those emails” [Wall Street Journal].

Full report at: blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2010/02/11/iran-blocks-gmail-will-offer-surveillance-friendly-national-email-instead/

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“My Life with the Taliban” – on study and Islamic values

Feb 10, 2010

zaeefIn  “My Life with the Taliban”,  Abdul Salam Zaeef — who fought with the mujahideen against the Soviets in Afghanistan and later served in the Taliban government before it was ousted in 2001 — writes of how he longed to escape the trappings of office and instead follow in the footsteps of his father as the Imam of a mosque, learning and teaching the Koran.

“It is work that has no connection with the world’s affairs. It is a calling of intellectual dignity away from the dangers and temptations of power. All my life, even as a boy, I was always happiest when studying and learning things. To work in government positions means a life surrounded by corruption and injustice, and therein is found the misery of mankind,” he writes in his memoirs, newly translated and edited by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn.

Zaeef became best known as the Taliban ambassador to Islamabad at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks — he was then arrested and sent to Guantanamo — and his memoirs provide a unique insight into the developments which led to the eight-year-old war in Afghanistan.  That alone makes it a must-read, providing an alternative and very personal account to set alongside Western concepts of the Taliban – more closely associated with their human rights record, their treatment of women, and their refusal to hand over Osama bin Laden to the United States after 9/11.

But the ideological heart of the book lies in his belief in the value of study (Talib means student) and his unswerving faith that only an Islamic system based on the implementation of sharia can drag Afghanistan out of its current misery.  Given the current discussion about whether a political settlement can be reached with the Taliban, it is perhaps his representation of this internal faith, as much as the outward trappings of jihad, that merit the most serious attention.

Full report at: /blogs.reuters.com/pakistan/2010/02/10/my-life-with-the-taliban-on-study-and-islamic-values/

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From Maududi to Aafia

by Nadeem F. Paracha

02 11th, 2010

She’s being called the “daughter of the nation” who needs to be rescued from the fanged jaws of the Americans. Her name is Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. Pakistani TV channels and drawing-rooms are buzzing with talk of this gallant woman who was recently found guilty by an American court for attempting murder, and on whose defence the government of Pakistan has already spent a whopping two million dollars.

On February 5, when Karachi became the horrid scene of two bomb attacks that killed dozens of men, women and children, leaders of various mainstream religious parties (especially the Jamaat-i-Islami) were marching up and down the roads and streets of Lahore condemning the American court’s verdict, insisting that Aafia was innocent, and demanding she be released and returned to Pakistan immediately. Not surprisingly, the Taliban followed suit.

A few days earlier, when TV channels were airing the shameful scenes of groups of lawyers outside the Lahore High Court cursing and abusing media men and the relatives of 12-year-old Shazia, who is said to have died at the hands of a senior lawyer and his family, these religious parties were behaving as if the young maid’s torturous death meant absolutely nothing compared to Aafia’s plight in the US.

Not a single rally or a word of condemnation in this respect slipped out from any of the many defenders of Aafia’s cause. Clearly, her champions are not bothered by the plight of those women who face humiliation and rape every day and then linger in a depressing wilderness and a psychological void. How come these women too are not the daughters of this immaculate bastion of faith called Pakistan?

Full report at: http://blog.dawn.com/2010/02/11/from-maududi-to-aafia/

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Dyer: Banning burqa in France not about gender equality

By Gwynne Dyer

 

Eight months ago, and 10 months before regional elections were due to be held all over the country, French president Nicolas Sarkozy raised a vital issue before the French parliament. Not the financial meltdown that was undermining the world's economies, or the threat of climate change, or even the rash of bike thefts in Paris. He wanted to ban the burqa.

"The problem of the burqa is not a religious problem," he told French legislators in June of last year. "This is an issue of a woman's freedom and dignity. This is not a religious symbol. It is a sign of subservience... . I want to say solemnly, the burqa is not welcome in France." The next day parliament created a 32-member cross-party committee to investigate whether wearing the burqa violates the principles of the French constitution.

The burqa is a shroud-like, full-body covering worn in public by some Muslim women who take (or whose husbands or fathers take) an extremely conservative view on the need for female "modesty." The wearer sees the world only through a narrow grill of cotton threads sewn into the front of the garment, or, in the case of the variant called the niqab, through an open slit that reveals only the eyes.

The parliamentary committee discussed the issue of the burqa for six months and delivered its conclusions two weeks ago. It did not propose to ban the burqa entirely, but recommended that women wearing burqas be forbidden to enter schools, hospitals, and government offices

Full report at: http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_14375883

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Palace urged to consider naming women to Mindanao peace panel

By Ryan Rosauro

First Posted 02/11/2010

Filed Under: Women, insurgency

OZAMIZ CITY, Philippines—Peace advocates in Mindanao are urging Malacañang to immediately find “suitable candidates” to fill two vacancies in the government panel in peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, with a suggestion that women be considered.

According to Pastor Reu Montecillo, co-chair of the peace group Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC), the two vacancies constitute a significant void in the five-member panel, “hence the replacements are very necessary.”

“I am sure there is no dearth of individuals who can be tapped for such duty,” Montecillo said in a press statement issued Thursday.

Recently, Iligan businessman Tomas Cabili resigned from the government panel, some two months after former South Cotabato politician Adelbert Antonino left it.

Montecillo said the vacancies “can somewhat slacken the momentum” of the government panel “but hopefully not the entire peace process.”

“I am hopeful they can manage this,” he added.

Montecillo said Malacanang should consider a suggestion that the panel include women as it would bring women’s perspective to the peace negotiations.

“Women are the primary bearers of the weight of conflicts, so it would be wise to have their voice in the panel,” Montecillo said.

Full report at: newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/regions/view/20100211-252619/Palace-urged-to-consider-naming-women-to-Mindanao-peace-panel

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Christian teacher 'forced out' after complaining Muslim pupils praised 9/11 hijackers 'as heroes'

By Lucy Ballinger

Nicholas Kafouris

Racism claim: Nicholas Kafouris arriving at the tribunal hearing

A Christian teacher yesterday claimed he was forced out of his job after complaining that Muslim pupils as young as eight hailed the September 11 hijackers as heroes.

Nicholas Kafouris, 52, is suing his former school for racial discrimination.

He told a tribunal that he had to leave his £30,000-a-year post because he would not tolerate the 'racist' and 'anti-Semitic' behaviour of Year 4 pupils.

The predominantly Muslim youngsters openly praised Islamic extremists in class and described the September 11 terrorists as 'heroes and martyrs'.

One pupil said: 'Don't touch me, you're a Christian' when he brushed against him.

Others said: 'We want to be Islamic bombers when we grow up', and 'The Christians and Jews are our enemies - you too because you're a Christian'.

Mr Kafouris, a Greek Cypriot, taught for 12 years at Bigland Green Primary School in Tower Hamlets, East London.

According to Ofsted 'almost all' its 465 pupils are from ethnic minorities and a vast proportion do not speak English as a first language.

The teacher claims racial discrimination by the school, its headmistress and her assistant head after they failed to take action about the comments made by pupils to him.

He said there was a change in attitude of the pupils after the atrocities of September 11, 2001. They told him: 'We hate the Christians' and 'We hate the Jews', despite his attempts to stop them.

Full report at: /adserving.cpxinteractive.com/st?ad_type=iframe&ad_size=728x90&section=671539

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Islam denounces suicide attack

Rabbani

Suicide attack has become almost a regular phenomenon in Pakistan. Everyday innocent men and women, children and old, are killed in those attacks, children becoming orphans, many able men and women becoming crippled and are forcing to beg in absence of supporting family members.

This is not the principle of Islam in any way. The suicide bomb attackers are killing own people to terrorise the enemies. What a peculiar argument!

Just before the start of the Battle of Badr, The Prophet Muhammad (SM) commanded his troops not to kill any old, children, priest, unarmed, and not to cut the trees. He gave this order because Allah cautioned the Muslims vide verse No.2/190. The text is: Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you but transgress not. Verily Allah loves not the transgressors.

I am unable to understand how do the leaders of the parties nurturing suicide attack go against the lessons of the Quran?

http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2010/02/06/news0169.htm

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Egypt's Copts fearful amid increasing tensions

By Jeffrey Fleishman

Father Metyas Mankarios ministers to garbage men and runs a newspaper for Coptic Christians from an office crammed with brittle archives above vegetable sellers and fishmongers barking out prices along the muddy roads of a Cairo neighborhood.

Few have it easy here. From dawn until deep into the night, there is the clatter of making a living, no matter how small. But these days, Mankarios, his face engulfed by a graying beard, worries more about the increasing discrimination and resentment from Muslims who attack monasteries and teach their children that Christians are infidels.

"It's dangerous today," he said. "Egypt is going in new directions that are starting to affect the harmony between religions. This attitude is evident not only among ordinary Muslims but among top government and Islamic officials."

Egypt's Copts and Muslims have co-existed for centuries, through spasms of bloodshed and recrimination but mostly in relative peace. In recent years, however, tolerance has ebbed and tensions have multiplied in a predominantly Muslim society that has grown more conservative and inclined to drawing religious distinctions in schools, public offices and in mixed neighborhoods.

The atmosphere was further agitated this month after a bishop received death threats and six Christians attending a Coptic Christmas Eve Mass north of Luxor were killed in a drive-by shooting. The Muslim assailants were reportedly seeking revenge for the alleged rape of a Muslim girl by a Copt.

The killings highlighted years of sectarian unease in the village of Nag Hammadi, where riots erupted immediately and shops and businesses were burned.

Full report at: /www.thenewstribune.com/tacoma/24hour/religion/story/1064266.html

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Afghanistan avalanches kill 150 in Salang Pass

 

At least 150 people have been killed in a series of avalanches that have blocked a mountain pass north of Kabul, Afghan officials say.

Rescuers are trying to reach hundreds more people who are trapped in their vehicles in the Salang Pass.

Some 2,500 people have been rescued so far, but scores more are feared buried following several days of heavy snow.

More than two dozen avalanches have hit the pass since Monday, blocking 2.1 miles (3.5km) of road.

'Frozen bodies'

Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary told the AP news agency rescuers had recovered 157 bodies from the road, which connects the Afghan capital with the north, over the past two days.

Officials said crews were working to clear the route near the Salang tunnel for ambulances, bulldozers and other road-clearing equipment.

Salang Tunnel - Afghanistan's dangerous lifeline

"There are many other cars swept away," Gen Mohammad Rajab, the head of the Kabul-Salang highway, told Reuters news agency.

"The death toll may rise as we dig out dozens of other frozen bodies."

The area is often affected by heavy snow and has been hit by avalanches in the past, the BBC's Martin Patience says from Kabul.

On Tuesday, Afghan Interior Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar fended off questions as to why the road had been open in the first place, insisting the situation had appeared manageable until snowstorms unexpectedly struck.

Meanwhile, an Indian soldier was killed but 13 others were rescued after a second avalanche in two days in Kashmir.

Full report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8506033.stm

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Passengers stunned as Muslim driver stops bus mid-route to pray

February 10, 2010

London, Feb.10 (ANI): Passengers were left stunned by a bus driver when he decided to pull over mid-route and pray in the aisle.

The driver, a Muslim, stopped the bus without warning before removing his shoes and, using a fluorescent jacket as a prayer mat, beginning to chant in Arabic.

Passengers said they feared the driver could be preparing for a terror attack, The Daily Mail reported.

No one was able to get on or off the vehicle during the five-minute prayer session.

Passenger Gayle Griffiths complained to Transport for London about the bizarre incident.

"I didn't really think much of it. But then he (driver) took off his shoes and began praying. I was gobsmacked and quite bewildered. I thought it would all be over in 30 seconds but it went on for over five minutes," she was quoted, as saying.

Transport for London said it had apologised to all the passengers for the delay to their journey and said all Muslim drivers are being reminded that they should pray during statutory rest periods rather than hold up services. (ANI)

http://news.oneindia.in/2010/02/10/passengersstunned-as-muslim-driver-stops-bus-mid-route-top.html

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Egypt arrests 3 top Muslim Brotherhood leaders

By MAAMOUN YOUSSEF (AP)

CAIRO — The No. 2 leader of Egypt's opposition Muslim Brotherhood and two other top figures have been arrested by police in a dawn sweep that also grabbed 10 senior members across five provinces, police and members of the group said.

Police arrested the newly elected deputy leader, Mahmoud Ezzat, and two other members of the top level Guidance Council, Essam el-Erian and Abdul-Rahman el-Bir.

The arrests are the latest move in a wide-ranging crackdown on the group ahead of parliamentary elections this year and appear designed to cripple the organization's leadership.

The group, the country's largest and best organized opposition, had just elected a new supreme guide and deputy.

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the media, said they were arrested for engaging in banned political activity — a standard government charge used against the group.

The Brotherhood was banned in 1954 but is somewhat tolerated by the state. Its candidates are allowed to run for parliament as independents and in 2005 won 20 percent of the seats, making them Egypt's largest opposition bloc.

"The regime wanted to express its opinion to the new leaders by punishing them and tightening the noose on the old ones," Abdel Galil el-Sharnoubi, who runs the group's Web site, told The Associated Press.

The organization's new leader had said upon his inauguration that he would try to avoid confrontation with the government and would not respond to the periodic arrest campaigns.

"We reaffirm that the Brotherhood is not for one day an adversary to the regime," the newly elected Mohammed Badie on Jan. 16.

Full report at: Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press.

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Who and what defines blasphemy?

Arghea Desafti Hapsari

Religious leaders and experts testified Wednesday on what and who defines blasphemy, in the second hearing of a judicial review request of the 1965 Blasphemy Law.

Rev. Franz Magnis Suseno, a Catholic intellectual and professor, was the only expert witness from the petitioners’ side.

While blasphemy refers to “deviant teachings” in the law, Franz Magnis said it was “relative”. 

“It means that one has gone from the right path to another that is not.

“Those who use this word are people who feel they are right.

“One group may find another group’s teaching as deviant, but the latter may also affirm it is the former’s teaching that is deviant,” he said.

Franz argued that the state should not have a say in determining whether a teaching was deviant.

“The state cannot say which is true between, for example, Catholics and the Jehovah Witnesses, even if the Catholics have a hundred more followers than the latter,” he said.

The government’s meddling in religious affairs was among issues raised by petitioners of the judicial review request, which comprise of several NGOs and promoters of pluralism.

In January, they requested the Constitutional Court review

Full report at: /www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/02/11/who-and-what-defines-blasphemy.html

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Islamic position on burkas

By Farooq Aftab

Understand the Islamic injunctions and philosophy governing society, which will enable people to appreciate and better understand (though not agree with) the position taken by Islam on segregation and the issue of the veil.

In short, Islam seeks to promote a society in which values such as honesty, trust, loyalty, justice, respect, freedom, and equality form the backbone of society.

Too many commentators these days appear to be giving the perception that they represent the Muslim masses and are experts on this issue when, in fact, they are not – all they are doing is perpetuating false stereotypes, which only serves to alienate rather than enhance mutual understanding.

The truth of the matter is that there is a rise in Islamophobia; whether this is direct or hidden behind the veil of liberalism, it now is becoming apparent that this is acceptable even among some political quarters.

Muslims are privileged to live in Britain, which does not interfere in an individual's personal matter and allows one to practise their religion freely – a right that is not even enjoyed in some so-called Muslim states. This is exactly what a secular and democratic state should do.

To go down the path of France would create unrest and disorder in society. Some would argue that such rights are not granted to non-Muslims in Muslim countries but two wrongs do not make a right and doesn't the West have superior levels of human rights, equality and tolerance?

If the West is to continue to uphold these values and laws, it will need to stop pandering to the extremist right wing agenda of promoting discrimination and Islamophobia.

Full report at: /www.halifaxcourier.co.uk/mailbag/Islamic-position-on-burkas.6053524.jp?articlepage=2

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Where Three Dreams Cross: A stunning success

By Anwar Akhtar from The Samosa

Thursday, 11 Feb, 2010

Anwar Akhtar, the director of www.thesamosa.co.uk, a British culture and news project, visits London's Whitechapel Gallery, which is currently featuring 'Where Three Dreams Cross,' an exhibition of photography from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Akhtar finds the show says a lot not only about the three countries, but also about Britain today.

The ambition in 'Where Three Dreams Cross' is both to be admired and treated with caution. Dealing with a land mass larger than Western Europe and a population of over 1.5 billion people is a challenge, especially with the complicated family history of Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. It seems bound to disappoint by missing some particular event, region or body.

So the fact that it does not is testament to the skill of the photographers and curators involved. This show needs to be seen by anyone interested in South Asia – its cultures, communities, histories and diasporas.

Like many British Asians that see this show, certain photos grab you with questions and multiple meanings.

The first photos you see upon entering the gallery are of Yusuf Masih, dressed as the ancient Arab prince Mohammed Bin Qasin. An Asian man, born into a Christian family, who converted to Islam and now spends his time dressed as an ancient Arab, wandering quixotically through the heritage monuments of Pakistan – Lahore Badshah Moghul Mosque, Lahore Fort, Karachi’s Three Swords Monument and Quaid e Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s mausoleum. A mischievous mind may point to the identity issues that Pakistan, a young nation with an old history, has to grapple with.

Full report at: www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/culture/03-where-three-dreams-cross-a+stunning-success-ss-02

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Nobel winner: Stop Iran catastrophe

Widespread protests followed last year's disputed presidential election [AFP]

Shirin Ebadi, Iran's Nobel peace laureate, has said her country faces a catastrophe that could undermine security in the whole region if government repression of the people is not stopped.

"A recurrence of the recent months' events, the continuation of the repressive policies and the killing of defenceless people could bring about a catastrophe that may undermine peace and security in Iran, if not in the entire region," Ebadi said in an open letter to the United Nations on Wednesday.

The office of Navi Pillay, the high commissioner for human rights, confirmed she had received the letter, which comes as the 47-member council prepares to hold a three-hour review of Iran's human rights policies on February 15.

Saying the patience and tolerance of Iranians was not limitless, Ebadi urged action to persuade the government to change course, calling on the council to appoint a special investigator for Iran who could help end mounting repression.

The letter comes on the eve of the 31st anniversary of Iran's Islamic revolution.

Opposition activists have called for anti-government protests on Thursday but the authorities have pledged to crack down hard if they take place.

Earlier the government announced the arrest of several people it said were preparing to disrupt official rallies.

Widespread unrest erupted in the wake of the disputed presidential vote in June last year, amid allegations that the election, resulting in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winning a second term, was rigged.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/02/2010210212427964494.html

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Iraq orders ex-Blackwater contractors out

February 10, 2010

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq has ordered former employees of the private military contractor once known as Blackwater to leave the country, its interior minister announced Wednesday.

Contractors who once worked for Blackwater, now known as Xe, have seven days to leave Iraq, Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told the state television network al-Iraqiya. The move follows a January declaration by Iraq's government that former Blackwater employees were no longer welcome in the country.

Blackwater became the target of widespread Iraqi outrage after its contractors were involved in the September 2007 shooting in Baghdad's Nisoor Square that left 17 civilians dead. That outrage was renewed in December, when a U.S. judge dismissed manslaughter charges against five guards involved in the shootings on constitutional grounds.

The company's last contracts in Iraq have been transferred to other companies. But Iraqi authorities say about 250 former Blackwater employees remain behind, some working for other security firms.

"I don't think the Iraqi government is willing to have any Blackwater member, even if they are working in other companies," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told CNN in January. "We don't like to see them here working in any company."

Blackwater had about 1,000 contractors working in Iraq at the height of its involvement, guarding diplomatic convoys and supply vehicles around the country after the U.S. invasion in 2003. At least 10 of its employees were killed, including four whose burned and mutilated bodies were dragged through the streets of Fallujah after an ambush in 2004.

http://mywebface.mywebsearch.com/download/index.jhtml?partner=GRxdm095&spu=true&sub_id=33473

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Indonesia jails former corruption chief over murder

11 Feb 2010

Antasari Azhar arrives at court in Jakarta, Indonesia

Antasari Azhar said the case was revenge for his anti-corruption work

Former Indonesian corruption chief Antasari Azhar has been jailed for 18 years for murder.

Azhar was convicted of ordering the murder of wealthy businessman Nasrudin Zulkarnaen last year over an alleged love triangle with a female golf caddy.

Prosecutors had called for the death sentence for Azhar in a trial that gripped the country.

Azhar said he was innocent and the charge had been revenge for his work unveiling corruption among officials.

Judge Herri Swantoro told the packed Jakarta court room Azhar was guilty of "participating in persuading the carrying out of a premeditated murder".

He said the sentence was "not intended as revenge, but to make the defendant aware of his mistakes".

Azhar, 56, said he respected the court's verdict but that "as a citizen and law-enforcer" he intended to appeal against it, the AFP news agency reported.

Azhar's lawyer said the court had ignored evidence and based the verdict on police documents alone.

Full report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8510072.stm

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Iranians rally to mark revolution

Advertisement

People gather at Tehran's Azadi square

Hundreds of thousands of pro-government Iranians are rallying to mark the 31st anniversary of the nation's revolution.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the rally to attack the West, and said Iran had produced its first stock of 20% enriched uranium.

The opposition is trying to mount counter-demonstrations, but faces a huge security crackdown and two of its leaders have reportedly been attacked.

The anniversary is the most important day in Iran's political calendar.

The government has warned protesters will be dealt with.

Official events are being held across Iran, but the main gathering is at Tehran's Azadi Square. State TV showed tens of thousands of people filling the streets.

Mr Ahmadinejad told the crowds Iran was now a "nuclear state" and would soon treble output of 20% enriched uranium.

He added that Western countries were hampering genuine reform in Iran.

BBC Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne says the anniversary could be the largest confrontation since the disputed election last June, and the government and opposition have chosen to make the day a huge trial of strength.

Our correspondent says the government is very nervous about the opposition demonstrations, but its own supporters have drawn a good crowd.

Meanwhile, reports from the micro-blogging site Twitter and pro-opposition websites said opposition Green Movement supporters were holding rallies, one of them in the city's Saddeqiya Street.

Full report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8509765.stm

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Somali rebels 'pour into Mogadishu'

Al-Shabab fighters, generic

Al-Shabab wants to impose a hard-line interpretation of Islamic law

Hundreds of Somali insurgents loyal to Islamist group al-Shabab have poured into Mogadishu with artillery and trucks, witnesses say.

Residents have been fleeing the capital for days amid a widespread belief that the rebels and government forces are on the cusp of a serious showdown.

Meanwhile, at least 16 people were reported killed in skirmishes that have become almost daily in the city.

Insurgents already control much of Mogadishu and southern Somalia.

However, the government has recently promised to launch an offensive to take control of the country.

The BBC's Mohamed Olad Hassan, who is in Mogadishu, says the rebels have promised to resist the government.

He says the war propaganda from both sides has spread fear throughout the city.

Wracked by violence

The insurgents coming in from the south will reinforce an already numerous and organised group of fighters in Mogadishu.

On Wednesday, African Union peacekeepers fired shells into militant-controlled areas, and our correspondent says at least 10 civilians were killed.

In a separate incident, police said six government troops had been killed after a gun battle with insurgents.

Full report at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8508176.stm

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West Bengal announces reservation for Muslims in govt jobs

 

Kolkata: On a day when the Andhra Pradesh High Court struck down job reservation for Muslims, the West Bengal government on Monday announced 10 per cent quota in employment for the community under the OBC category.

The state government declared the quota for the Muslims who were educationally, socially and economically backward in the state. “We have decided to accept the recommendations of the Ranganath Mishra Commission and will take steps to implement it”, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee told newsmen at the state secretariat without waiting for the Centre's decision on the report.

He said like other states there was reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs in the state. The government, he said, had begun the process of identifying Muslims who were educationally, socially and economically backward. There was 7 per cent reservation for OBCs in the state. “After identification, we will provide reservation to them under the OBC category”, the Chief Minister said.

Earlier in the day, a Constitution bench of the Andhra

Pradesh High Court struck down a state law providing 4 per cent reservation in educational institutions and jobs to 15 groups belonging to the Muslim community. Soon after the court's order, Chief Minister K Rosaiah directed the state advocate general D S R Murthy to file a special leave petition in the Supreme Court challenging the verdict.

On February one, the ruling Left Front had endorsed the Ranganath Mishra panel recommendations for job reservation for minorities. Left Front chairman Biman Bose had said that reservation was wanted for socially and economically backward Muslims and not on the basis of religion.

The announcement for reservation comes ahead of elections to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and 82 municipalities in May-June this year which are seen as the 'semi-final' before next year's assembly polls in the state.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/west-bengal-announces-reservation-for-muslims-in-govt-jobs/577132/

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Bengal's quota decision came after nudge from Centre

Subodh Ghildiya

10 February 2010

NEW DELHI: A week before West Bengal announced `Muslim quota', the Centre had rapped the state on the knuckles for giving mere 7% reservation toOBCs which was at least 20% less than the provision made by other states.

The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) last week suggested to West Bengal that it hike OBC quota quantum to bring it at par with other states and also make a provision of 10% quota for Muslim OBCs.

The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government's dramatic announcement on Monday seems dictated by its desire to win over the minority community to stem the tide against Left Front in coming local polls. But details show even that required a nudge and a push from outside.

Abdul Ali Azizi, member, NCBC, on February 2 shot off a letter to West Bengal chief secretary A K Deb, flagging the issue of inadequate OBC quota and a need for reservation for backward Muslims.

Azizi wrote, "All the states are implementing 27% reservation policy for OBCs by honouring the verdict of Supreme Court but West Bengal is implementing only 7% quota. It is very unfortunate that more than 60% of OBC population is being neglected in the state by not implementing the full reservation policy of 27% quota for OBCs." He called it "unfair" to people in need of affirmative action for socio-eonomic growth.

Full report at: /timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Bengals-quota-decision-came-after-nudge-from-Centre/articleshow/5553321.cms

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Andhra’s quota for Muslims quashed

By A. Srinivasa Rao in Hyderabad

One state embarks on vote bank politics even as HC stops another

THE ANDHRA Pradesh High Court has quashed state government orders earmarking 4 per cent reservations for 15 backward classes of Muslims in educational institutions and jobs.

Soon after, chief minister K. Rosaiah decided to file a special leave petition in the Supreme Court to secure a stay order against the ruling.

A seven- member bench of the high court passed the landmark judgment on Monday while acting on a batch of petitions filed by T. Muralidhar Reddy of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and others. The bench, headed by chief justice A. R. Dave, struck down the Andhra Pradesh Reservation in Favour of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes of Muslims Act, 2007. The bench said the order was unsustainable and unconstitutional. While five judges, including Dave, ruled in favour of the judgment, two others disagreed with it.

Dave, who pronounced the judgment, said the Act was unsustainable because reports of the Backward Classes ( BC) commission — on the basis of which the government made the reservations — did not reflect the real scenario. Justice Meena Kumari felt the BC commission report was insufficient and was prepared without a proper survey.

Rosaiah, who was closeted with senior officials and ministers, directed the advocate general to initiate immediate steps to file the special leave petition in the Supreme Court.

“ There is no question of the Congress government going back on reservations to the backward sections of the Muslim community. We will challenge the order in the Supreme Court,” state information minister J. Geetha Reddy said.

Full report at: Mail Today, New Delhi.

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Muslim body to build consensus on quota

New Delhi

A conglomeration of Muslim organisations under the banner of Joint Committee of Muslim Organisations for Empowerment (JCMOE) would organise a conference on Wednesday to build consensus for speedy implementation of the Ranganath Mishra Commission recommendations.

A working paper will be circulated at the beginning of the meet, which would serve as the basis for intervention by the invitees and participants to reach consensus on five major issues that flow from the Mishra Report.

The ‘National Meet of Reservation Activists’ is being organised by JCMOE, which is running a campaign called the National Movement for Muslim Reservation. Around 500 activists from all over the country are expected to participate.

“We want the Ranganath Mishra Commission report to be implemented. Muslims should be treated at par with other minorities. Whatever it takes, we urge the Government to provide reservations to Muslims under the Mishra panel report,” Muslim leader Syed Shahabuddin told reporters on Monday.

Jamia Hamdard chancellor Saiyid Hamid will inaugurate the meet and the conference will have two sessions. The first will be chaired by eminent economist and former member-secretary of Justice Sachar Committee Abusaleh Shariff and second will be chaired by former Cabinet Secretary Zafar Saifullah.

Full report at: http://www.dailypioneer.com/234853/Muslim-body-to-build-consensus-on-quota.html

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Provide CISF security for Ajmer Sharif: Rajasthan CM

8 February 2010

NEW DELHI: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot today asked the Centre to deploy Central Industrial Security Force for the security of AjmerSharif dargah in the view of large number of pilgrims visiting the shrine.

"The state has deployed its own force for the security of dargah sharif at Ajmer. However, in view of the large number of pilgrims of all communities and the terror attack in the dargah in 2007, entrusting its security to a specialised agency like the CISF needs to be considered.

"A proposal in this regard has been sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs," Gehlot said at Conference of Chief Ministers on Internal Security here.

He also made a strong pitch for the inclusion of Jaipur in the Centre's Mega City Policing scheme.

"Looking at the pace of development of Jaipur and the megacity-like problems the city has been facing, I request that it may be included under the scheme," Gehlot said.

Under the scheme, which is being operationalised in seven cities -- the four Metros, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Ahmedabad -- the Centre will provide financial assistance to respective state governments to procure modern equipment and upgrade its police infrastructure.

In 2008, Jaipur had witnessed seven synchronised bomb blasts that took place within a span of 12 minutes at various locations leaving at least 60 killed.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Provide-CISF-security-for-Ajmer-Sharif-Rajasthan-CM/articleshow/5544842.cms

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BJP slams Congress, Left for reservation to Muslims

 

New Delhi: Welcoming Andhra Pradesh High Court order quashing 5 per cent reservation for Muslims in jobs, the BJP on on Monday said Congress had tried to fool the minority community for vote-bank politics.

The main opposition party also condemned the West Bengal government for toeing the Congress line on the issue.

"BJP welcomes the High Court decision. The act of the Andhra Pradesh government was against the Constitution and politically motivated. The Congress government in the state has breached the sanctity of the Constitution," the party spokesperson, Mr Prakash Javadekar said.

He asserted that the Congress had tried to fool the Muslims by giving them reservation on religious lines. "We hope Muslims will also understand how Congress tries to fool them."

Arguing that his party stood for reservation on the basis of social and economic backwardness, the Rajya Sabha MP maintained that the erstwhile BJP government in Rajasthan had used economic backwardness as a criteria to give reservation to the people.

Mr Javadekar said now even the West Bengal government was toeing the Congress line by giving reservations to Muslims.

Insisting that such policies of the Communists were responsible for their current dismal state, he said, "They are also toeing the Congress line on reservation for Muslims. We condemn both parties."

The West Bengal government today announced 10 per cent quota in jobs for socially, educationally and economically backward Muslims under OBC category.

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/national/bjp-slams-congress-left-reservation-muslims-750

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Radicalism casts shadow on Central Asia

By Maria Golovnina

10 Feb, 2010

ALMATY: Central Asia is a ticking bomb waiting to go off.

Long ignored as a myth whipped up by the authorities to justify political repression, a surge in radical Islam in the former Soviet region has become a reality for the West fighting an increasingly tough war in next-door Afghanistan.

Analysts say long-defunct groups like the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) are regaining force in the impoverished region where ethnic tensions have long simmered under the surface.

“They (militants) are preparing the ground for a long, sustained military campaign in Central Asia,” said Ahmed Rashid, a leading Pakistan-based expert on Afghanistan and Central Asia.

“There is now a real threat because the Islamist surge is combined with an economic and political crisis.”

A vast region wedged between China, Iran, Afghanistan and Russia, Central Asia found itself on the frontline of global affairs last year when it agreed to host a vital new supply route for Nato forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Gripped by deepening gloom about economic stagnation and poverty, the mainly Muslim but secular region has become increasingly susceptible to extremist ideas in past years.

Security analysts say militants, who had long left Central Asia to fight alongside the Taliban, are seeping back into the region to take advantage of its fragile state.

Full report at: www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/international/radicalism-casts-shadow-on-central-asia-020

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Taslima returns to India

10 Feb, 2010

NEW DELHI: Controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen has returned to India seeking extension of her visa.

The 47-year-old Bangladeshi writer, who has been a target of extremists, is currently staying at an undisclosed destination, official sources said. Taslima had left India in August last year for Washington after succeeding to get extension of her visa, which expires on Feb 16.

The writer has been requesting for permanent residency in India, but the government has not taken any decision.

She had earlier expressed her desire to visit Kolkata, which has been turned down saying radical elements may try and harm her, the sources said.

Earlier, she was dramatically bundled out from West Bengal in Nov 2007 in the wake of violent protests by radical Muslim groups there. Taslima has lived in exile in many countries, including France, Sweden, the US and India, since leaving her home in Dhaka in a cloak of secrecy in 1994. During her stay in India in the last five years, she has periodically travelled abroad, the last trip being in August.—Dawn-Times of India News Service

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/international/taslima-returns-to-india-020

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UK court quashes student’s terrorism conviction

10 Feb, 2010

LONDON, Feb 9: A British student, described by prosecutors as a “wannabe suicide bomber”, had his main conviction for possessing terrorism-related materials quashed on Tuesday after spending nearly four years in custody.

Mohammed Atif Siddique, 24, from central Scotland, had been jailed for eight years in 2007 for four offences under terrorism and breach of the peace laws, including distributing terrorist material via websites.

On Tuesday, appeal court judges in Edinburgh formally overturned the most serious conviction against him, which accounted for six years of his term.

The judges were confirming a ruling last month that he had suffered a miscarriage of justice after the trial judge misdirected the jury.

At an appeal last year, Siddique’s lawyers had argued that much of the material in his possession, which helped secure his conviction, was widely available on the internet.

They also argued that the judge in the original trial had failed to direct the jury that a connection must be established between materials Siddique was found with and a specific act of terrorism.

Prosecutors at Scotland’s Crown Office said they would not seek a retrial as it would have little practical effect.

Full report at: www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/international/uk-court-quashes-students-terrorism-conviction-020

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US frees Iraqi photographer held for 17 months

 

Ibrahim Jassam Mohammed was detained for 17 months without charge

American forces in Iraq have released an Iraqi freelance photographer held in detention for 17 months without charge.

Ibrahim Jassam Mohammed, who worked for Reuters, was arrested in September 2008 in a dawn raid on his home.

The US said the photographer was a "security threat", but all evidence against him was classified secret.

An Iraqi court had ruled in December 2008 that there was no case against him and that he must be released, but the US military refused.

"How can I describe my feelings? This is like being born again." Mr Jassam told Reuters.

According to Reuters, the US accusations were based on his "activities with insurgents".

"The term 'insurgents' in Iraq generally refers to Sunni Islamist groups, like al-Qaeda. Jassam is a Shia Muslim," the news agency said.

The US military has detained a number of Iraqi journalists working for international news organisations, but none have been convicted.

It has been criticised by press freedom organisations such as Reporters Without Borders.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8508352.stm

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French envoy justifies burqa ban

February 10, 2010

New Delhi: French Ambassador to India Jirtme Bonnafont has justified the proposed ban on the veil. He believes the burqa impedes the secular credentials of the country and is unacceptable to the majority Muslims living in France.

France has over five million Muslims and Islam is the second religion of country after Christianity. Over decades most of the Muslims have migrated to France from sub-Sahara Africa and North Africa for better financial options and these migrants in particular are resisting Government's move to ban Burqa, talking tough on the issue and making an apparent reference to migrants French envoy Bonnafont said " Why choose a country where you are not comfortable, why migrate to a country where you don't respect law.

France has been in consultation with many Muslim bodies and Islamic think tanks across the globe, which also includes the association of Imams in India according to sources.

Bonnafont also cited security as one of the reasons that full Naqab could not be allowed and is unacceptable.

According to him one could not distinguish a person clad in a Burqa was a male or a female.

France also believes that Burqa also undermines the gender equality and the struggle for equal rights which the French women is waging for years.

Display of religious symbols at government schools is already banned, and approximately twenty percent of pupils are studying in private schools, which are under tight government control.

Full report at: http://news.oneindia.in/2010/02/10/frenchenvoy-justifies-burqaban.html

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Dubai: World’s tallest tower closed

 

People being guided for refund of their money at a ticket counter after the observation deck of Burj Khalifa in Dubai was shut down on Monday.

DUBAI: Tourists headed for the observation deck of the world’s tallest tower were left disappointed and confused on Monday after the owner of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa unexpectedly cut off public access to the building owing to electrical problems. The observation deck is located on the 124th floor. The precise cause of the $1.5-billion skyscraper’s sudden and indefinite closure remained unclear.

The city-state had hoped the 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa, with over 160 floors, would be a major tourist draw.

“Unexpected traffic”

In a brief statement, building owner Emaar Properties blamed the closure on “unexpected high traffic,” but then suggested that electrical problems were also at fault.

“Technical issues with the power supply are being worked on by the main and subcontractors and the public will be informed upon completion,” the company said, adding that it was “committed to the highest quality standards at Burj Khalifa.”

Adult tickets bought in advance cost 100 dirhams ($27.25). Visitors wanting to enter immediately can jump to the front of the line by paying 400 dirhams ($109) apiece. — AP

http://www.hindu.com/2010/02/09/stories/2010020953381200.htm

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Bad to Worse in Iraq

By Robert Dreyfuss

The election in Iraq is less than a month away -- that is, if indeed it is held as scheduled on March 7 -- and things are going from bad to worse.

Last month, an unelected commission held over from the early days of the US occupation of Iraq, the Justice and Accountability Commission, issued a shocking ruling banning more than 500 candidates from taking part in the election, including a number of members of the current parliament running for reelection. That commission, successor to the old De-Baathification Commission, is controlled by Ahmed Chalabi and one of his cronies, Ali al-Lami. Chalabi, the darling of Bush-era neoconservatives, who pushed Chalabi as Iraq's leader after 2003, has long had close ties to Tehran, and in this case the ban struck at those Iraqi politicians most opposed to Iran's growing influence in Iraq.

Last week, an Iraqi appeals court seemed to overturn the ban. Its action followed a visit to Baghdad by Vice President Joe Biden, who has assumed the Iraqi portfolio for the Obama administration, and Biden pressed the Iraqis to reinstate the candidates. After the appeals court ruling, US officials congratulated themselves. "We were heartened by the decision earlier this week to reverse the deletion of the 500 names from the list for the upcoming election," said Hillary Clinton.

But not so fast. Following the court's decision, the government of Iraq -- led by a coalition of Shiite-sectarian politicians closely tied to Iran -- demanded that the appeals court decision be overruled. Ali al-Dabbagh, one of Prime Minister Maliki's closest aides, called the lifting of the ban "illegal and not constitutional." Another of Maliki's aides called for the expulsion of US Ambassador Christopher Hill, who reportedly lobbied behind the scenes to get the ban lifted. And Maliki himself blasted Hill: "We will not allow American Ambassador Christopher Hill to go beyond his diplomatic mission." Maliki began working with leaders of his coalition, members of parliament, and the top court to ensure that the Chalabi-imposed ban remains.

Full report at: http://www.thenation.com/blogs/dreyfuss/527708/bad_to_worse_in_iraq

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US Congressman and Iraq war critic John Murtha dies at 77

9 February 2010

HARRISBURG (Pennsylvania): Rep. John Murtha, a retired Marine Corps officer who became the first Vietnam War combat veteran elected to Congress and later an outspoken and influential critic of the Iraq War, died on Monday. He was 77.

The Pennsylvania Democrat had been suffering complications from gallbladder surgery. He died at the Virginia Hospital Center, spokesman Matthew Mazonkey said.

Murtha was an officer in the Marine Reserves when he was elected in 1974. Ethical questions often shadowed his congressional service, but he was best known for being among Congress' most hawkish Democrats. He wielded considerable clout for two decades as the ranking Democrat on the House subcommittee that oversees Pentagon spending.

Murtha voted in 2002 to authorize President George W. Bush to use military force in Iraq, but his growing frustration over the administration's handling of the war prompted him in November 2005 to call for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.

``The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion,'' he said.

Murtha's opposition to the Iraq war rattled Washington, where the tall, gruff-mannered congressman enjoyed bipartisan respect for his work on military issues. On Capitol Hill, Murtha was seen as speaking for those in uniform when it came to military matters.

William Russell, Murtha's Republican opponent in the 2008 election, who was planning to challenge him again in November, asked in a statement on Monday that people pray for the Murtha family and said his campaign would suspend activity for a few days.

``Regardless of your political position, you always knew Jack had an immense love and loyalty to his family and the residents of the 12th Congressional District,'' Russell said.

Gov. Ed Rendell said on Monday that he has not decided when to schedule a special election to replace Murtha. He has 10 days by law; the political parties must come up with their own candidates. The governor said that it would save taxpayer money to hold the election on May 18, the state's planned primary date, but that he might set it sooner in the event of urgent congressional issues.

Full report at: /timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/US-Congressman-and-Iraq-war-critic-John-Murtha-dies-at-77/articleshow/5550442.cms

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The New French Fashion in Civil Rights

By Ian Buruma

NEW YORK – First the Swiss ban minarets. Now the French parliament wants to ban Muslim women from wearing the burqa – the full, face-covering garment worn in orthodox Arab countries, and now adopted by some orthodox non-Arabs – in public places. The hijab, the headscarf that some Muslim women wear, is already banned in French public schools, where the “ostentatious”  display of any religious symbolism is forbidden. The burqa, however, is worn far more rarely in France – by about 1,900 of nearly six million Muslims, almost none of them from a traditional burqa-wearing country.

The reason why French parliamentarians, ranging from Communists to conservatives, support this ban is a general consensus that wearing the burqa is “contrary to the values of the Republic.” As the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, famously said, the burqa is “not welcome in France.”

Immigrants who cover their faces have been refused French citizenship for that reason. Feminists, including some women from Muslim backgrounds, have backed the ban, because they regard the custom as degrading. A Communist member of parliament, André Gerin, warned that terrorism and extremism were “hiding behind the veil.”

In fact, only the Socialists refused to vote for the parliamentary resolution. They do not like the burqa either, but they don’t believe that legislation is the best way to fight it.

I think the Socialists are right. Aside from the fact that more serious issues face the French government than the sartorial habits of a small number of women, there is the matter of individual freedom.

Some women may, indeed, be forced by family or peer pressure to cover themselves up. The same is true of orthodox Jewish women who must shave their heads and wear wigs when they marry. It is not immediately apparent why Jewish or some extreme forms of Christian orthodoxy should be more compatible with Republican values, let alone feminism, than Muslim salafism. Still, no one should be forced to cover herself up.

Full report at: /www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/buruma34/English

URL of this Page: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/osama-bin-laden-s-son-warns-his-successors-will-be-worse/d/2453


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