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Islamic World News ( 15 Jul 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Radical Islamists in Northern Mali Briefly Detained and Whipped 90 Protesters

New Age Islam News Bureau

15 Jul 2012 


 Radical Islamists in Northern Mali Briefly Detained and Whipped 90 Protesters

 Islamists in Northern Mali Threat to Africa, World

 Nigeria army plans raids after Islamist sect violence

 US inadvertently creates a terrorist haven in Mali

 Islamic militants gaining foothold in Sinai Desert



 Pakistan Deputy Attorney General issued notice for polishing shoes in India

 Lashkar-e-Taiba founder to Pak leaders:  Learn from Cameron's Islamic lifestyle

 Will Asma Jahangir be Pakistan’s caretaker PM?

 Ahmadi place of worship: Court action urged on minarets’ razin

 Sen. Paul eyes floor vote on stripping Pakistan aid unless jailed doctor Shakil Afridi released

 MQM Founder says non-Muslims should not be referred to as ‘minorities’

 Iraq signs gas contract with Pakistan Petroleum

 Pakistan PM Leaves for Saudi Arabia

 Pakistan discusses reopening of NATO supply routes

 Pakistan seeks to attract General Motors



 India becoming police state for Muslims

 ‘India's Ruling Party neglecting minorities’

 UP CM assures Muslims of implementing Rangnath, Sachar reports


Arab World

 Higher education exchange programme launched by OIC

 Syria denies UN claims it used heavy arms in Tremseh

 Clinton meets Morsi in Cairo, seeks commitment to peace, dialogue with military


Mideast Asia

 Brother of Arrested Shiite cleric Urges Saudis to Continue Protests against the Al-Saud regime

 Iran issues new oil blockade warning


South Asia

 UNHRC panel grills Maldives delegation on human rights commitments

 Extensive talks on maintaining Islamic identity: Maldives HM



 P.E.I. Muslim Society thrilled with new Islamic centre

 Islamic Centre marks 50 years of serving metro Detroiters


Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Radical Islamists in Northern Mali Briefly Detained and Whipped 90 Protesters




Radical Islamists in Northern Mali Briefly Detained and Whipped 90 Protesters

By Associated Press, 

BAMAKO, Mali, July 14, 2012, Radical Islamists in northern Mali have briefly detained about 90 protesters and whipped them in an apparent attempt to intimidate the locals, a witness said Saturday.

Resident Hama Cisse of Goundam town, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Timbuktu, said members of the radical Islamic sect Ansar Dine went from door to door in the morning to arrest the leaders of a protest against them.

The protest erupted Friday after a young Islamist militant whipped a woman carrying a baby for not wearing what he considered to be an adequate veil, he said. The baby fell and was critically injured, according to Cisse and other residents.

But a spokesman for the al-Qaida-linked group that vows to introduce strict Islamic laws, Sanda Abou Mohamed, dismissed the protests as a smear campaign, saying the baby had not been injured. He also maintained that the group “hasn’t whipped anyone in Goundam.”

Another resident reached by phone, Ousmane Yattara, said angry citizens marched toward the radicals’ base, vandalized the premises and took their food supplies. Residents said more than 100 people took part in Friday’s protest.

The situation in Goundam remained tense Saturday, with most residents staying in their houses while the radical Islamists have set up checkpoints on all roads leading to and from the town. About two thirds of the population of about 13,000 inhabitants has already fled the city, joining an estimated more than 300,000 people who fled to neighboring countries or southern Mali to seek refuge from the Islamists.

Mali, once considered a stable democracy, has been mired in turbulence stemming from a March coup by soldiers who defected and overthrew the democratically elected president. Making matters worse, rebel groups of ethnic Tuareg separatists took advantage of the power vacuum to rapidly encroach on the northern part of Mali, an area larger than France. But in June, the al-Qaida-linked Ansar Dine declared they had driven out another rebel group of and had assumed control over northern Mali.

In a sign that eerily reminded the international community of the Taliban’s destruction of famous ancient Buddha statues in Afghanistan in the 1990s, the Islamists have also started to destroy Muslim shrines and historical sites, including some in Timbuktu which are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



Islamists in Northern Mali Threat to Africa, World

July 14th, 2012

Fears that Islamist militants in northern Mali could shake the stability of the entire region are growing.

Members of the African Union Peace and Security Council meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, Saturday warned the Islamists, including al-Qaida, are intent on creating a new sanctuary for their activities.

AU Chairman Jean Ping called the situation one of the “most serious crises to confront the continent.” And AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra said “the strengthening of the grip of armed terrorist and criminal groups in the area” also poses a serious threat to international peace.

Radical Islamists overtook the country's vast northern desert in the wake of a political rebellion launched by Tuareg separatists. The militant groups have carried out severe beatings in towns under their control and destroyed ancient Muslim shrines they claim are sacrilegious.

The African Union is working with the western regional bloc ECOWAS to support Mali's interim government, installed after a March 22 coup, and to discuss options for confronting the Islamist insurgency.

African leaders are also seeking United Nations Security Council support for military intervention in Mali to end the northern rebellion and reunite the Sahel region state.

French President Francois Hollande said Saturday in a Bastille Day televised interview that it was up to the community in Africa to decide how and when to intervene militarily over the situation in northern Mali.



Nigeria army plans raids after Islamist sect violence

Sapa-AFP | 15 July, 2012

The Nigerian army said Sunday it plans to raid suspected militant hideouts in several central villages after attacks last weekend claimed by the Islamist Boko Haram sect that killed over 100 people.

"We will conduct operation sweep and search this week in some villages in Plateau state we suspect are hideouts of miscreants and assailants," army spokesman Captain Salihu Mustapha told AFP, adding that residents had been warned to leave to avoid getting caught up in any violence.

Boko Haram claimed attacks in central Plateau state last weekend that killed more than 100 people, but police insisted that Muslim herdsmen from the Fulani tribe were responsible.

At least 22 people, including two senior politicians, were killed last Sunday in an attack on a funeral for victims of violence on Saturday, when gunmen stormed mainly Christian villages and killed more than 80 people.

Troops from the military's Special Task Force have already been deployed to several villages in Plateau state, Mustapha said. "We are telling (residents) to evacuate the areas to avoid being caught in crossfire when the operation begins."

Ethnic Fulani herdsmen are a majority Muslim group with long-standing land rights grievances against the state's mainly Christian leaders.

In March 2010 they launched a wave of attacks on Birom Christian villages, slaughtering more than 500 people, according to local officials.

Plateau state is in Nigeria's so-called "Middle Belt," where the mainly Christian south meets the majority Muslim north, and has been the site of sectarian violence in recent years.

Fulani pastoralists of Hausa-Muslim ethnicity are seen as "settlers" by the Christian ethnic groups that dominate power in Plateau state, even though the Fulani have been there for decades.

The state capital Jos and its environs have suffered a wave of sectarian and communal clashes in recent years that has left thousands of people dead.

The area has also been hit by gun and bomb attacks blamed on Boko Haram which have killed more than 1,000 people since mid-2009 in Africa's most populous nation and top oil producer.

Boko Haram has targeted Jos in the past, but there is no apparent link between the Fulani and the radical Islamist sect.



US inadvertently creates a terrorist haven in Mali

By Stephen Kinzer, JULY 15, 2012

News from Timbuktu is rare, but these days there is too much of it.

Religious fanatics have been destroying exquisite ancient tombs that are cultural icons of universal value. Women who used to walk freely now fear to leave their homes without veils. Schools, clinics, and banks have been looted and burned.

Militants who embrace the rigid Salafi brand of Islam are on a rampage in Timbuktu and other parts of Mali, an ancient, landlocked North African nation that was once the seat of a trading empire. They are allied with Al Qaeda.

Already they control a thinly populated region larger than Texas. It is not difficult to imagine this region becoming an incubator of terrorism and transnational crime — or to imagine that the United States will react by making Mali the newest front in its ever-expanding drone war.

This catastrophe did not “just happen.” It is the direct result of an episode that may at first seem unrelated: the US-led intervention in Libya last year. Rarely in recent times has there been a more vivid example of how such interventions can produce devastating unexpected results.

Under the regime of Moammar Khadafy, who was killed during the Libyan war, a portion of the army was made up of Tuaregs. They are a nomadic people whose traditional homeland is centred in northern Mali. After Khadafy was deposed, they went home — armed with potent weaponry they brought from Libya. Seeking to press their case for a homeland in Mali, they quickly overran the lightly armed Malian army.

Into this upheaval stepped another group, shaped not by ethnicity but by devotion to an extreme form of Islam. It has attracted Al Qaeda militants from many countries, including Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, and Algeria. They seek to create a pure Muslim state — and are destroying mosques and Islamic monuments that they believe represent the wrong kind of Islam.

This is an emerging crisis that could engage the world for years. A vast region has fallen out of the control of central government and into the hands of violent radicals. They may cause far more death and suffering than Khadafy ever did.

Four officials in Washington pressed hard for intervention in Libya last year and managed to persuade President Obama that it was necessary to avoid a humanitarian disaster. When the four of them — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Ambassador to the United Nation Susan Rice, and two staff members at the National Security Council, Samantha Power and Gayle Smith — decided to lobby for this intervention, did they consider the possible consequences?

It is tempting to imagine that the four knew about the role of Tuaregs in Khadafy’s army, understood that the Tuaregs would return to Mali if Khadafy were overthrown, and realized that this would throw a swath of North Africa into chaos. It is also unlikely. Americans rarely consider the possible negative consequences of foreign interventions.

By building a jihadist army in Afghanistan, the United States helped create a transnational terrorist force that has plunged an entire region into war. The invasion and occupation of Iraq set off a shattering civil conflict. Now Mali can be added to the list of countries that have been pushed into instability by American-led military action.

Intervening violently in the politics of another country is like releasing a wheel at the top of a hill: you have no idea how it will bounce or where it will end up. Perhaps it is too much to expect that well-meaning amateurs like the “gang of four” who pushed the United States into war in Libya would know enough about the country to understand what the consequences of their action might be. It should at least be possible, however, to hope that policy planners would recognize their ignorance. A dose of humility might lead them to realize that military intervention always produces unforeseen consequences.

The American-led intervention in Libya may have given Al Qaeda one of its greatest triumphs since 9/11. This is especially sobering as the United States contemplates a military attack on Iran or Syria. Overwhelming military power guarantees short-term victory in these interventions.

No amount of weaponry, however, can prevent the devastating “blowback” that often follows. The suffering people of Mali are the latest to learn this tragic lesson.



Islamic militants gaining foothold in Sinai Desert

By Ernesto Londoqo

The Washington Post

Vast areas of Egypt's Sinai Desert have descended into lawlessness in recent months, providing fertile ground for small cells of extremist militants that have emerged from the shadows and quietly established training camps near the Israeli border, according to Bedouin elders and security experts.

RAFAH, Egypt — July 14, 2012, Vast areas of Egypt's Sinai Desert have descended into lawlessness in recent months, providing fertile ground for small cells of extremist militants that have emerged from the shadows and quietly established training camps near the Israeli border, according to Bedouin elders and security experts.

The militants include men who have fought in Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent years, as well as Islamists who were released from prison after the 2011 popular revolt that toppled President Hosni Mubarak and drove much of his potent security apparatus underground.

Drawing little notice during a period of dramatic developments in Cairo, the militants have become increasingly bold and visible amid a broader breakdown of security in the strategically important desert, a buffer zone between Israel and Egypt. The eclipse of authority has also given rise to Sharia courts run by Islamic scholars who settle disputes according to Islamic law.

The Egyptian government's failure to restore order in Sinai has unnerved Israel, in part because of a recent attack on an Israeli border post. Some local residents worry that Israel might ultimately respond unilaterally, a prospect that alarms those who survived successive wars in the Sinai between the neighbors in the 1960s and 1970s.

"In one year, this could all become extremely dangerous," said Nassar Abu Akra, a merchant and elder in the area who fears that the rise of a violent militant movement could spark a crushing response from Israel. "If Israel responds to protect its land, it would be a disaster — a massacre. Even normal people, not just jihadis, would fight and die if Israelis came back."

U.S. officials have grown increasingly concerned about deteriorating security in the Sinai. The subject is all but certain to come up during Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's visit to Cairo, particularly because two U.S. citizens were reportedly kidnapped in the area Friday.

The Sinai Peninsula was contested territory for much of the past century, largely because it is a gateway to the Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean Sea and Red Seas. Israeli forces occupied the Sinai in 1956 and 1967 and fought a war against Egyptian troops in the following decade. Egypt regained full control of the Sinai after the 1979 peace treaty brokered by the United States.

A U.S. Army battalion consisting of several hundred soldiers is stationed in the Sinai as part of an international peacekeeping force.

In the recent turmoil, militants have been carrying out attacks on lightly armed police officers in recent months and have repeatedly bombed the pipeline that carries natural gas to Israel.

Bedouin tribesmen with grievances against the state, meanwhile, have kidnapped foreign tourists and international peacekeepers. Drug runners and human smugglers have also seized the moment, making both lucrative trades increasingly violent.

Soon after Egyptians rose up in Cairo in late January 2011 against Mubarak's authoritarian regime, residents in northern Sinai went on a looting rampage, burning police stations and other symbols of a state that became despised for the heavy hand of its security forces and the few services it offered to the residents of the impoverished, barren area.

As Mubarak was ousted, the black-clad police officers who for decades treated bearded men in the Sinai as terror suspects melted away. Police stations and checkpoints were reduced to piles of ashes and debris. Soldiers took up positions along the road that connects Cairo and the Gaza Strip, barricading themselves inside tanks and other fighting vehicles surrounded by walls of sandbags.

As pillars of the police state eroded, hundreds of Islamists left prison — some through release orders, others by breaking out. Maree Arar, a 41-year-old with a scraggly beard, was among those freed Islamists. Arar said he does not endorse acts of violence committed in the Sinai by militants, some of whom he said he knows, but they ought to be seen in proper context.

"They feel that there is still lingering injustice," he said while fiddling with an iPhone. "We still have prisoners we want to get out; there are violations against our brothers in Palestine; there is a war on Islam all over the world. They are affected by it. They can't control themselves."

Retired Egyptian Gen. Sameh Saif el-Yazl, who heads a center for political and strategic studies in Cairo, said the status quo in the Sinai is untenable. Hard-line fighters in the Sinai include men who fought in Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent years, he said. They have joined forces with Islamists released recently from prison.

"They want to impose Islamic law over the state," said Yazl, whose views on security matters are widely seen as reflective of those of the country's military chiefs. "The government must impose its control and rule over Sinai. Right now the law is not respected."

A police official based in the Sinai city of Arish said in an interview that respect was the least of his worries. Men like him are being hunted.

"We leave our families to do our duties," said the officer, who spoke at a beachfront cafe just above a whisper and insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals. "Why are we coming home as dead bodies? We want to know why. If we are being targeted, let us leave this place for the people and the army."

Ibrahim el-Meneey, a powerful Bedouin tribal elder who lives a few miles from the Israeli border, said that arrangement would be ideal, as long as the military sticks to guarding the road.

The tribes, which have stockpiled everything from small arms to anti-aircraft missiles, are doing a fine job of dealing with violent human smugglers, drug runners and other miscreants who have taken advantage of the security vacuum over the past year, he said.

"Here, it's all tribes," Meneey said, sitting on a moonlit sandy patch outside his house, which is close enough to Israel that cellphones roam onto the country's mobile networks. "Security is very stable."

But he worries that such groups could evolve into a powerful movement with links to militant groups in Palestinian territories and other Muslim countries. For the time being, there is little support for the budding jihadist cells among the members of his tribe, the Sawarka, the elder said. That could change, he cautioned, if the government once again carries out indiscriminate arrests.

"The Bedouin is a peaceful being," Meneey said, sipping sweet tea. "But if he feels humiliated, he will never forget. The government has to work quickly to deliver justice."

If the Egyptian government fails to find the right approach to restore security and services, he said: "This could become like a second Afghanistan. It could become an international war."

Ingy Hassieb and Hassan Elnaggar contributed to this report.




Pakistan Deputy Attorney General issued notice for polishing shoes in India

Associated Press

Islamabad: July 15, 2012, Pakistan's Deputy Attorney General Khurshid Khan has been given a notice by the apex court's bar association to explain why action should not be taken against him for "defaming" the nation by polishing shoes while performing voluntary service at Gurdwaras in India.

The showcause notice was issued to DAG Khan yesterday by Supreme Court Bar Association at the Peshawar High Court. DAG Khan lives and works in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

He has said that he performed voluntary service at gurdwaras, including cleaning shoes, during a recent visit to India as "penance for crimes committed by the Taliban".

SCBA president Yasin Azad was quoted by The Express Tribune as saying that Mr Khan had "defamed" Pakistan by polishing shoes outside places of worship in India.

"Although it was the government's duty to issue him the show cause notice, as he is a serving Deputy Attorney General, we have issued it instead," Mr Azad said.

"Khurshid told us that he did this to be pardoned for all the sins he has committed in his life," Mr Azad said.

He contended Khan could have acted in a "more respectable way".

Mr Khan said he was yet to receive the notice and that he was prepared to reply to it. Since he is a Deputy Attorney General, the Attorney General should have issued such a notice, he said. He questioned the basis on which the notice was issued.

"Have I been charged for violating an Indian law? There was no code of conduct we were told to follow."

Mr Khan noted that he was declared a state guest by the Chief Minister of India's Punjab state and that his mission was to convey a better image of Pakistanis in general and Pashtuns in particular.

"What is constituted as defaming the country? Ajmal Kasab's alleged killing of Indians or a Pakistani polishing the shoes of Hindus, Sikhs and Christians outside their places of worship?" he said.

Mr Khan had gone to India with 200 members of the SCBA in March to interact with the legal fraternity in the neighbouring country.

His voluntary service at the Jamia Masjid in Chandigarh, Golden Temple in Amritsar and Birla temple in Delhi, included polishing shoes, sweeping floors and washing dishes, had received extensive coverage in the Indian and Pakistani media.

Earlier, Khan had performed voluntary service at a gurdwara in Peshawar.

He began going to the gurdwara after Taliban fighters kidnapped and killed some Sikhs in Pakistan's restive tribal belt.



Lashkar-e-Taiba founder to Pak leaders:  Learn from Cameron's Islamic lifestyle


London: Lashkar-e-Taiba founder and alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack Hafiz Saeed has asked Pakistani leaders to aspire to become more like British Prime Minister David Cameron and Tory politician Boris Johnson.

Saeed has professed his admiration for Cameron and Johnson's bike-riding "Islamic" lifestyles when he lodged a petition in the Lahore High Court calling for public officials in Pakistan to tone down their privileged lifestyles, Daily Mail reported.

According to The Daily Telegraph, Saeed wrote in the petition that while Pakistan's political elite were "living like kings and princes in palatial government houses," Britain's prime minister lived in a four-bedroom flat.

"When the sun never set on the British Empire, the chief executive of that great country lived in the same house of a few marlas in a small street.

"That is truly Islamic, that is like following the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet," he added.

Saeed stated President Asif Ali Zardari travelled to Britain recently by a private jet paid for by the Pakistani government.

Raja Pervez Ashraf, who became the prime minister last month, is also reported to have had a helipad set up at his home in Islamabad.



Will Asma Jahangir be Pakistan’s caretaker PM?

Islamabad: July 15, 2012, Pakistan's ruling PPP and main opposition PML-N are close to striking a deal on naming a consensus caretaker Premier, with top lawyer Asma Jahangir's candidature "under serious consideration", and finalising a date for polls to be held before year-end, a media report said on Sunday.

Amidst intense speculation regarding the outcome of the confrontation between the government and the judiciary, which may see a second Premier losing his post, Pakistan's two largest political parties "are quietly but rapidly finalising an agreement”, The Express Tribune quoted its sources as saying.

Abdullah Hussain Haroon, the Pakistan's envoy to the United Nations, and leading lawyer Asma Jahangir, ex-president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, are being seen as candidates for the post of caretaker Prime Minister in a set-up that will oversee the election, the report said.

Jahangir's candidature is "under serious consideration" while Haroon is being seen as a "soft, back-up option”, according to the report.

The two parties have been holding discussions in private though they continue to criticise each other in public and in the media.

The discussions between the PPP and PML-N will be crucial for the first transition from one popularly elected government to another in Pakistan's history.

The daily said key sources in the top leadership of both parties had confirmed that talks on caretaker Prime Ministerial candidates and a date for the election were in "advanced stages”. The Supreme Court has set July 25 as the deadline for Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to approach Swiss authorities to reopen graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The court had earlier convicted Ashraf's predecessor, Yousuf Raza Gilani, of contempt and disqualified him for refusing to revive the cases.

Legal experts believe Ashraf too could be disqualified due to the government's insistence that the cases cannot be reopened because of the constitutional immunity enjoyed by Zardari.

A member of the inner circle of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif refused to deny or confirm the names of Jahangir and Haroon as candidates for the post of caretaker Premier and "advised patience for the short term”.

He said: "Wait for two weeks and a lot will be clear, as well as some good news for all."

The daily quoted a source close to the presidency as saying: "We have been talking (to the PML-N) not for some days but for close to two months now and have whittled down some names that are generally agreeable to both (our parties)."

The source further said the caretaker Premier will "neither be from the PPP or PML-N nor one who has been a member or leader of any other political party."

Sources said Jahangir is the current frontrunner because she is known for her vociferous stand for parliamentary supremacy and rule of law and her unambiguous stand against interference of the "establishment" in the democratic process.

A source in the PML-N said the recent consensus between the PML-N and PPP on appointing Fakhruddin G Ebrahim as the Chief Election Commissioner was closely linked to Jahangir's candidature being considered by both parties.

"Both (Ebrahim and Jahangir) have links to the legal fraternity, which respects them both, and which should come handy in dealing with any legal challenges that may be thrown by (Imran Khan's) Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf during the tenure of the caretaker government to seek support of the judiciary in queering the electoral pitch," the source added.

Sources in the PPP told the daily that Jahangir would be a good choice for the party.

"We don't want an interim Prime Minister who can be amenable to pressure from the (Supreme Court) judges to write a letter to the Swiss authorities during the caretaker period seeking investigations against the President," a source said.

"We want a caretaker Prime Minister who has no agenda of their own and one who can work well with the Chief Election Commissioner in focusing on the one-point agenda of holding a free, fair and impartial election."

Sources in both parties agreed the litmus test of the maturity of political forces was at hand.

"We may have our differences, and some really strong ones at that, but all we want are the freest, fairest and most credible elections in Pakistan's history and these can only be held if, for the first time in our history, we, the political forces, and not the establishment, decide and implement the rules of the game," a source in the PPP said.

"We've made a solid start with the joint nomination of the CEC. However, pressure (from the establishment) is mounting and we can't waste much time now. The elections will be held before the end of the year for which we need caretakers who can restore faith in democracy and politics and be the best advertisement for an election with a high turnout," he added.

Sources said Jahangir recently met Nawaz Sharif and a close aide of President Zardari while Haroon is scheduled to meet the two leaders over the next few days.

They also said that the PPP's allies have agreed to leave it to Zardari to decide on a caretaker Prime Minister on behalf of the coalition.



Ahmadi place of worship: Court action urged on minarets’ razin

By Our Correspondent

ISLAMABAD:  July 14, 2012, The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Human Rights Cell requested Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Friday to take suo motu notice of the demolition of minarets in an Ahmadi place of worship in Punjab.

Expressing concern over incidents where religious minorities are being denied their rights to religious freedom in different parts of the country, the PPP Human Rights Cell demanded an intervention from the apex court on the matter.

In a statement issued by the PPP Human Rights Cell’s central coordinator Nafisa Shah, it was pointed out that the Kharian police had demolished an Ahmadi place of worship on June 11. “The matter is not confined to razing of the Ahmadi places of worship but other minorities are also facing persecution in Pakistan,” the statement added.



Sen. Paul eyes floor vote on stripping Pakistan aid unless jailed doctor Shakil Afridi released

The case of Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor imprisoned after helping the CIA track Usama bin Laden, hasn't fallen by the wayside just yet.

Sen. Rand Paul claims to have enough support to force a vote on the Senate floor later this month on a bill stripping Pakistan of U.S. aid unless Afridi is released.

The vote, if it happens, would come at a diplomatically inconvenient time for the Obama administration. The State Department recently announced it had struck a deal with Pakistan to reopen long-shuttered supply lines into Afghanistan -- the thaw came after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly apologized for a NATO strike last fall that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Following the agreement, top Capitol Hill lawmakers signaled they would free up $1.1 billion in U.S. aid to Pakistan that had been held up for six months over the standoff.

But Paul, R-Ky., wants to push ahead on his vote anyway, citing Afridi's plight. The bill apparently could not stop the $1.1 billion from being transferred, but aims to lock down future funds.

Paul appears to be giving Pakistan one more chance before moving ahead. Paul spokeswoman Moira Bagley told the senator is eyeing July 20 for a vote, one day after a scheduled July 19 appeal date for Afridi. Bagley described the July 20 vote as "tentative ... pending results of Dr. Afridi's appeal."

Though congressional leaders reportedly are opposed to the vote, Bagley said Paul has enough signatures on what's known as a cloture petition to force one anyway.

Afridi's cause has over the past several weeks become somewhat buried amid the far-louder debates over health care, taxes, immigration and the presidential campaign itself.

On the House side, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., has been pressing Afridi's case for weeks, ever since the Pakistani doctor was sentenced in May to 33 years in prison. But Rohrabacher recently expressed concern that lawmakers and other officials were losing interest in the case.

"It doesn't appear that other people are taking this case seriously," Rohrabacher told last month. "If we let that person just hang on a limb and forget him, now that he's put himself in danger for us -- well shame on us."

But Paul has been quietly pressing Afridi's case from the upper chamber. According to Bagley, Paul spoke with Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Sherry Rehman, as well as the top representative to the region from the State Department. She said he remains hopeful Pakistan will free Afridi.

Afridi's brother Jamil told Fox News in May that Shakil Afridi had suffered torture while in custody ahead of his sentencing. At the time, Jamil Afridi appealed for the U.S. Embassy to help fight his legal case.

The State Department has said it's still focused on the case, and that it continues to urge Pakistan to consider his appeal in an "expeditious" and "transparent" manner.

Without addressing the Afridi case, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said last week after the border-crossing agreement that "we're really looking to moving forward with Pakistan in our relationship as best we can."

Meanwhile, lawmakers are moving ahead with plans to free up the $1.1 billion in Pakistan aid sidelined since last fall.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., and one of the panel's top Republicans, Lindsey Graham, said the money should be released, albeit reluctantly.

"They don't deserve it. What they've done is presumably earned it by the amount of money they've laid out in terms of their anti-terrorist activity and protecting our lines," Levin told a group of reporters earlier this week.

He said he would vote to approve the release.

The Pentagon intends to submit $1.1 billion in approved requests for reimbursement of money the Pakistan government has spent on counterterrorism operations that were incurred largely along the border.

"If you cut the money off, what leverage do you have? There may come a day when we do that, but not yet," Graham said.



MQM Founder says non-Muslims should not be referred to as ‘minorities’

By Our Correspondent

KARACHI: July 15, 2012, The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder and chief, Altaf Hussain, underscored on the importance of interfaith harmony at a meeting with members of the MQM’s Coordination Committee and ministers at the party’s London secretariat.

In a statement issued by the MQM, Altaf Hussain said that the party has always strived for the stability of democracy, political and interfaith harmony and social development. It believes in the principle of “live and let live” and considers all the people living in Pakistan belonging to various religions as equal citizens of Pakistan.

MQM leaders attending the meeting included the Sindh governor, Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Babar Khan Ghauri and provincial ministers Raza Haroon, Shoaib Bukhari, Dr Sagheer Ahmed and Adil Siddiqui.

Hussain said that the party has always spread the message of respecting all religions and faiths and their places of worship. He also said that the party does not want the term ‘minority’ to be used for non-Muslims and they should be considered as equal Pakistanis and given the same opportunities.

At the meeting, the Sindh governor briefed Altaf Hussain about his visit to the UK with a delegation of government representatives. The outcome of the visit includes agreements signed with a number Scottish companies for investing in Sindh,  memorandums of understanding for desalinating seawater to provide 100 MGD to Karachi, solid waste management and generating electricity from the waste, improvement in the sewerage system and providing 50 ambulances to the health department. A memorandum of understanding has also been signed for providing training to the graduates of Mehran University of Engineering and Technology and NED University of Engineering and Technology at the University of Strathclyde Glasgow.

The delegation also met with the head of the Conservative Party Baroness Saeeda Warsi as well as with officials of the Church of Scotland.



Iraq signs gas contract with Pakistan Petroleum

BAGHDAD, Jul 15, 2012, (Reuters) - Iraq signed an initial gas exploration contract with Pakistan Petroleum (PPL.KA) on Sunday as part of its push to attract more foreign investment to develop its energy sector following years of war and sanctions.

The contract gives the Pakistani company the right to explore gas block 8 in Diyala and Wasit provinces in eastern Iraq, as reported by Reuters last month.

Iraq will also sign an initial contract with a consortium led by Kuwait Energy for oil block 9 on July 16 and a deal to explore oil block 10 will be signed with a group led by Russia's Lukoil (LKOH.MM) on July 17.

The OPEC member state is expected to be the world's biggest source of new oil supplies over the next few years. It plans to open up more rounds for oil and gas blocks for auction.

Pakistan Petroleum, Kuwait Energy and Lukoil won their bids in May at Iraq's fourth energy auction, which had a poor showing because of tough contract terms drawn up by Baghdad.

Iraq has offered foreign companies less attractive service agreements - where they are paid a fee - rather than production-sharing deals that allow them to profit jointly from the output.

The country is slowly rebuilding nine years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. Officials say it needs foreign investment in virtually every sector to improve its infrastructure.



Pakistan PM Leaves for Saudi Arabia

Islamabad, Jul 15 (IANS): Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf left for Madina Sunday on a two- day official visit to Saudi Arabia.

Ahead of leaving on his first official foreign tour as prime minister, Ashraf said he would discuss matters of mutual interest and cooperation in different sectors with Saudi Arabia King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, Dawn reported.

Calling Saudi Arabia a close friend of Pakistan, he said: "We attach great importance to our relations with Saudi Arabia."

He said he would also meet the member of Pakistani community living there.

Ashraf will perform Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca, and also offer condolences to the King over the recent demise of former crown prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

He is being accompanied by Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khurshid Shah on the tour.



Pakistan discusses reopening of NATO supply routes

July 15, 2012,

Islamabad: Pakistan's top political and military leadership held a meeting at President House over reopening of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.

The meeting was held late Saturday night to discuss the resumption of NATO supplies and the country's prevailing scenario, Dawn News reported.

Presided by President Asif Ali Zardari, the meet was attended by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan's Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman and finance and foreign ministry officials.



Pakistan seeks to attract General Motors

Staff Reporter

Islamabad, July 15, 2012, The Adviser to Prime Minister on Industries Muhammad Basharat Raja said that talks were held with delegations of Korean Company and General Motors (GM) to motivate them to invest in Pakistan and he hopes for positive results.

Raja told the National Assembly that the government is considering giving more incentives for investment in car manufacturing in the country. He added that presently one hundred and fifty thousand cars are being manufactured in the country and fifty thousand are being imported annually which are not sufficient to meet requirements.

General Motors, the world’s largest automaker based on sales has brands like of Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Opel and Vauxhall under its belt. In Pakistan, General Motors markets its products through Nexus Automotive Limited, the exclusive importer and progressive manufacturer of the automaker’s products in the country. Nexus started manufacturing Chevrolet Joy in Pakistan in December 2005 whereas other GM products sourced from the global GM network are also planned for introduction to the local market. Nexus uses idle capacity at the Ghandhara Nissan Limited plant at Port Qasim to assemble Chevrolets, under the GM contract assembly agreement.

The project estimated value is $15 million and GM-Chevrolet has provided full support to ensure that the local components and the car assembled here meet GM quality standards and customer expectations.

Auto sales in fiscal 2012 stood at 157,325 units according to the data released by the Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association. In terms of car sales, Pak Suzuki Motor Company is leading with 95,142 units followed by Indus Motor Company and Atlas Honda.




India becoming police state for Muslims

15 July 2012 - 11:37am

By Syed Zubair Ahmad,

Looking at the way Muslim youths are being harassed, terrorized, chased, kidnapped and illegally arrested by the police and intelligence agencies, it seems there is no law, no government, no judiciary, no parliament, and no respect for the human rights at all. It seems that emergency has been imposed on the Muslim community. Lawlessness has become order of the day. Slowly but firmly, anarchy is taking the country into its grip and India is heading towards becoming a police state – at least for Muslims. The government, the administration, the police and the intelligence agencies of this country are suffering from worst kind of Muslim-phobia.

Police and intelligence agencies have got a free hand to do whatever they like the way whatever they like. Implicating Muslim youths in false cases has become their prime job. They are accountable to none. Sometimes it appears that police and intelligence agencies are running this country. Time and again when the matter reaches the court, the court issues some directions and rebuffs the police and intelligence agencies. But after a short break they resume harassing and kidnapping Muslim youths with more aggression and intensity. Gradually the largest democracy of the world is becoming a country of highest number of custodial deaths, tortures, illegal detentions and killing of innocent people in fake encounters.

Relatives of people arrested outside Sakinaka Police station in Thane on 16th December 2012

Police of several states pounce on every new Muslim terror suspect

A Muslim youth is arrested by Delhi Special Cell then Mumbai ATS comes to catch and interrogate him. After Mumbai ATS finishes its job, Karnataka ATS pounces on him. After Karnataka, comes the turn of Gujarat police. Four years have passed since the serial blasts of Ahmedabad and Delhi and an undisclosed number of Muslim youths have already been arrested in those cases. Yet, when a Muslim youth is picked even today for his suspected role in any new terror case, Police of Delhi, Gujarat and others take his custody and interrogate him for the past cases. Does it mean that the police of those states have little evidence against those youths they arrested four years ago and are still in jails? Does it mean that investigating agencies are still groping in dark in connection with those terror cases?

When Mumbai ATS nabbed an alleged IM operative in January last year, Special Cell of Delhi police cried that the arrested person was their informer. Then arrived Home Minister of India to clear the clouds. There is a professional competition and rivalry among different police and security agencies to catch Muslim youths as terror suspects and claim resolution of the unsolved case.

SDPI activist Zakir Hussain being detained for holding strike for AMU campus in Murshidabad on 11th July 2012

Police and intelligence agencies have got into habit of violating the laws of the land. In many cases they didn’t follow even a single guideline of Supreme Court. Violation of human rights is becoming their hallmark. While making the arrest they do not inform the local police, nor are the parents of the arrested persons informed within mandatory 24 hours.

Impunity for lawbreakers in uniform

It appears that there is impunity for the perpetrators of illegal detention, tortures, custodial deaths and killing of innocent people in fake encounters. Looking at the current state of affairs one may believe that there is a constitutional guarantee for these shameful acts in the ‘Largest Democracy’ of the world. The perpetrators of these shameful acts are not punished. More disgusting is the fact that the culture of impunity for the perpetrators is being nurtured, protected, encouraged and safeguarded by the establishment. The most shameful and disgusting is the fact that perpetrators of these inhuman acts are being promoted and awarded. In short, the culture of impunity for the perpetrators before the law is taking the country towards a very dangerous zone.

Members of Muslim organizations protesting against illegal action of police in Jamia Nagar, New Delhi on 26th February 2012

The poor, deprived and the marginalized segment of the society including the discriminated minorities particularly Muslims are being subjected to these trials and tribulation. In the name of National Interest, the humanity is being stripped of dignity. Human is being treated like sub-human and a large number of deprived citizens of India are being forced to live like third class citizens of this country.

One can imagine what would have been happening to the people of north east region and Kashmir when in the heart of the national capital at midnight the ATS and Special Cell personnel surround the locality of Jamia Nagar to pick workers from Bihar in the name of Bangladeshis. A policeman comes in civil dress and leaves a scooter at the shop of a bike mechanic, then in a few minutes another policeman arrives and tries to arrest the mechanic in connection with the theft of the same scooter. Several such cases are happening in Delhi and in other places also.

In May this year, the Karnataka ATS picked up a youth from Darbhanga in Bihar without informing the local police, took him to Jharkhand and presented him before a local court then took him to unknown destination. According to law, he should have been presented before a Darbhanga court. Last year, Delhi Special Cell picked up a 55 year old cycle mechanic Kafeel Ahmed from the same Darbhanga in the name of IM. The old man used to repair bicycles at his shop from morning to evening to earn hardly Rs 100 a day. After the Malegaon blast of 2006 a vegetable vendor was arrested. When a Muslim leader reached the house of the arrested vendor, his whole family was hungry and the Theli of the arrested vendor was standing before his dilapidated house. The old and weak father of the arrested boy was unable to stand up properly. The family was unable to bear even the expenses of traveling to meet the boy. An unknown ATS team kidnapped two Kashmiri students from a train at Aligarh Junction in May this year, tortured them for seven days in illegal custody and released them at a Jammu police station only after lots of hue and cry from the media and the educational institution filed a habeas corpus case in Allahabad High Court.

SDPI activists including elder persons being pushed into police van in Murshidabad on 11th July 2012 for holding strike in the city to demand construction of AMU campus

Important Questions

The question is: Does our police, investigating agencies and judiciary depend on a confession of an Aseemanand to save the life of those arrested earlier? For how long would the innocents be languishing behind the bars? For how long will the unchecked witch-hunt of Muslim youths continue? For how long would the police and intelligence agencies keep on framing and implicating Muslim youths in false cases?

Save the country from anarchy

The protectors of law have become lawbreakers. The judiciary is mum. The politicians are enjoying the luxuries while the poor, the deprived and the marginalized segment of the society are suffering. The discriminated Muslim minority is at the receiving end. Our country is gradually heading towards anarchy and complete lawlessness. The civil society should come out to save the country from becoming a police state. Laws of the land must be respected by all.

(Syed Zubair Ahmad is a Writer & Journalist. He can be reached at



‘India's Ruling Party neglecting minorities’


Mysore, Jul 12, 2012, State vice president of JD (S)minority wing Ayoob Khan alleged that Congress has dishonoured minority community by depriving C M Ibrahim MLC election ticket.

Addressing a press meet here on Thursday, he said, Congress has used minority as just vote bank for election and neglected later.

Ikbal Ahmed Saradagi is also defeated in the election, which is again shows the disrespect for minority sector. He said, Ikbal Ahmed should return to JD(S), to protect interests of minorities.

He said JD(S) has not only respected minority community but also is striving to provide social justice to them.

He said more than four lakh members of minority would be attending the minority convention organised by JD(S) on July 15 at Palace grounds, Bangalore.

Shafi Ulla Baig, Mudduraj, Syed Asgar and Pasha were present.



UP CM assures Muslims of implementing Rangnath, Sachar reports

Ashish Tripathi, TNN

LUCKNOW: Jul 14, 2012,  With 2014 Lok Sabha in mind, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday announced sops for Muslims and assured that the Samajwadi Party government will fulfill all its promise made in the election manifesto to implement the recommendation of the Rangnath Commission and Sachar Committee to improve status of minority community.

Though Yadav did not set any dead line, he said that his government will implement the recommendations which which can be executed at the state level. He announced that the state is reeling under power crisis but government will try to provide Muslim localities in Lucknow uninterrupted electricity supply during the holy month of Ramazan. He also announced that the government will recruit Urdu teachers in primary schools to promote the language.

The Samajwadi Party government has been in a fix after the Supreme Court on June 11 refused to stay the Andhra Pradesh High Court order scrapping quota for Muslims in government jobs and educational institutions. The Supreme Court had also pulled up the Congress led UPA government for announcing 4.5% sub-quota for minorities on religious ground within 27% quota for the other backward classes. The Samajwadi Party government had then accused the Central government of not being serious in implementing the minority quota. However, at the same time, the apex court's stand came as a setback for the Samajwadi Party which had announced during campaign for the assembly elections earlier this year that, if voted to power, its government will implement 18% Muslim quota in proportion to the population of the minority community in UP.

On Saturday,Yadav, without taking name of Muslim quota, sought to clarify stand of his government. ""Our intention to work for Muslims has always been clear. Samajwadi Party has worked for Muslims in all its regimes. This time also, we will fulfill all over promises made in the manifesto. If required we will form a committee to find out which recommendations of the Rangnath Commission and Sachar committee can be implemented at the state level,"" he said while addressing a function to release a fortnightly magazine and felicitation of eminent Muslim personalities working in different spheres in the state.

Earlier, Samajwadi Party had said that it will mount pressure on the Central government to amend constitution for making way for reservation for Muslims who constitute around 18% of the UP's population and play decisive role in 120 assembly constituencies out of total 403 and in 25 Lok Sabha constituencies out of total 80 in the state. Muslims voted overwhelming for the Samajwadi Party in the assembly election, resulting in party coming to power in the state with absolute majority.

Yadav used Thursday's function to woo Muslims. He announced that as promised by the Samajwadi Party, the distribution of laptops and tablets to students who have cleared class 12th and 10th will start soon. And, these laptops and tablets will also run on Urdu language, he added targeting Mulsims. He said that the state government has already made allocation of Rs 100 crore in the state budget to provide Rs 30,000 financial assistance for marriages of Muslim girls passing class 10th.



Arab World

Higher education exchange programme launched by OIC

Ameen Amjad Khan

15 July 2012

The Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has announced a higher education exchange programme that will facilitate scholarships, faculty exchanges, collaboration on distance learning methods and research projects among its 57 member countries.

Implementation of the initiative has kicked off with an offer of 10 special scholarships from the University of Kuala Lumpur. Universities in Turkey and Pakistan are also poised to offer scholarships under the new programme.

Mohamed Zaghoul, professional officer at the OIC’s Jeddah secretariat, told University World News that the exchange initiative “will streamline the scholarship offers by our member countries and facilitate regional and multilateral higher education cooperation.

“The programme will also address the faculty deficiency at different universities in the Islamic world through exchange of academic experts.”

OIC member states have already been offering scholarships to students from other OIC countries, routing offers through the OIC secretariat. But there were bureaucratic hurdles and a mismatch, as in some years countries made no offers.

With a growing number of member states now offering scholarships, particularly at postgraduate and post-doctoral levels in fields such as science, engineering and medicine, the special OIC secretariat for exchanges can follow up on country commitments and match applications to offers.

It will also work to minimise hurdles and delays, in order to facilitate a growing number of joint research projects, another component of the programme. This will involve exchange of researchers for ongoing projects and the initiation of new joint research of interest to the countries involved.

Zaghoul said the secretariat would help willing member states to form sub-groups for special research projects that member countries considered “relevant and crucial to their academic and social needs”.

Junaid Zaidi, rector of the Islamabad-based COMSATS Institute of Information Technology – a founding member of the programme – told University World News:

“Many OIC member countries are already offering scholarships or have trained faculty to share and many are in need of these offers, but we lacked a structured system before this initiative was introduced.”

He added that the new programme would not duplicate an initiative announced at an OIC ministerial meeting in December last year for a higher education network to facilitate distance learning to overcome faculty shortages in many OIC countries.

“The educational exchange programme has five components, whereas the previously announced network aimed only to link OIC universities for online or video conference lectures,” Zaidi said.

The idea of an OIC educational exchange programme was first discussed during the June 2011 meeting of the foreign ministers of Islamic nations in Kazakhstan, when OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu called for new initiatives to promote exchanges and sharing of knowledge and experience “through more structured interaction”.

Ihsanoglu said: “Such an exchange programme would provide for short duration exchange of students, researchers and teachers between higher education institutions of member states on a reciprocal basis.”



Syria denies UN claims it used heavy arms in Tremseh

15 July 2012

The UN observers said there had been use of heavy weaponry in Tremseh

Syria has rejected claims by the UN that it used heavy weapons in an attack on the village of Tremseh on Thursday.

It accused UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan of "rushed" comments, adding that only troop carriers and small arms were used in the operation.

Syria said what occurred were armed clashes, not a massacre, with only 37 recorded deaths - far short of the 200 or so deaths activists have suggested.

UN observers have returned to Tremseh to continue investigations.

They still need to determine how many people died, who they were and exactly who carried out the attack.

'Not a massacre'

Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi told a news conference in Damascus that no helicopters, aircraft or armoured tanks were used in the attack - only troop carriers and small arms, including rocket-propelled grenades.

He said Mr Annan had sent a letter to the foreign ministry on Saturday that "did not rely on facts".

"As diplomatically as possible, we say that this letter was very rushed," he said.

Mr Makdissi said five buildings housing what he termed "armed terrorists" had been targeted.

He said the army's attack was in too small an area to use tanks.

"It was not a massacre but a response by regular military forces against heavily armed groups that do not want a political solution," Mr Makdissi said.

He cited the initial findings of the UN observers as supporting the Syrian government's account that armed rebels had been targeted.

However, the observers had confirmed that heavy weapons were used, in violation of a commitment given to Mr Annan by the Syrian authorities.

"A wide range of weapons were used, including artillery, mortars and small arms," UN spokeswoman Sausan Ghosheh said in a statement.

Mr Makdissi said if any heavy weapons were used it was by the rebel side.

Some activists and witnesses say more than 200 civilians were killed in an indiscriminate massacre, initially by an army bombardment then by pro-government shabiha militiamen who swept into the village and killed people one by one.

'Under the rubble'

The BBC's Jim Muir, in neighbouring Lebanon, says the conclusions of UN observers have so far been more in line with the government's version of events than with reports of an indiscriminate massacre of civilians.

UN observers arrived in Tremseh as villagers claimed military forces had carried out indiscriminate attacks

He says the Tremseh killings appear to differ from the situation at Houla two months ago, when UN observers were able to arrive quickly and count the bodies of what was clearly a massacre.

He says that because the observers arrived in Tremseh 48 hours after the attack, all they could conclude was that it appeared to target rebel fighters or defectors from the Syrian army.

Video posted by activists shows dozens of people buried in a mass grave but this has not been verified and activist groups themselves are struggling to determine the number of dead.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group said it had the names of 103 dead, including 50 rebel fighters.

One activist, Bassel Darwish, told Associated Press: "There are still martyrs under the rubble and in the fields."

Residents were unable to reach fields, where many bodies were said to be scattered, because of army checkpoints, he said.

Mr Darwish said Syrian troops had entered Tremseh with the UN team on Saturday "so that no-one would talk to the observers".

Reports of casualties often cannot be independently verified, as Syria severely restricts journalists' freedom of movement.

Some 16,000 people are thought to have been killed since the uprising against Bashar al-Assad's regime began in March 2011.



Clinton meets Morsi in Cairo, seeks commitment to peace, dialogue with military

Dina Ezzat

14 Jul 2012

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi at the presidential palace in Cairo. Clinton hoped to use her first meeting with Egypt’s new Islamist president on Saturday to steer him toward opening a dialogue with the military that could end the country’s political crisis. (Photo: AP)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived Saturday afternoon at the Presidential Palace in the suburb of Heliopolis, Cairo, for the first high-level talks of a senior US official with recently-sworn-in Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

Clinton, according to informed officials, is planning to raise three main issues with the new president.

One of the main issues to be discussed, according to an official who spoke to Ahram Online on condition of anonymity, is to receive a “clear cut commitment” from the new president that under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood Egypt will remain as committed to the peace deal with Israel as it has been over the last three decades.

“There are questions related to Sinai too,” said the official. Israel, according to Western and Egyptian officials in the US capital, Washington DC, has repeatedly complained about what it qualified as loose security arrangements on the Egypt-Israel border, particularly adjacent to the Gaza Strip.

According to what some Western diplomats have said, Israel’s complaints concern “documented evidence of arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip.”

The second issue on the agenda, according to the same sources, relates to the nature of bilateral relations between Egypt and the US.

According to Egyptian diplomatic sources in Washington, Clinton will assure Morsi of the US’s continuous support and friendship to Egypt.

However, according to one Egyptian diplomat, “She will also make clear that there are certain things that the US expects from Egypt.”

In addition to stable relations with Israel, the same diplomat states, “The US is expecting Egypt to use the good ties that link the Muslim Brotherhood with the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip to curtail any plans that Hamas might have towards escalation with Israel.”

The US is also expecting Egypt under the presidency of Morsi to remain committed to Egypt’s traditional policy of limited engagement with Iran.

Also on the list of US expectations is a clear cut commitment from the Muslim Brotherhood-backed president on ensuring respect for the rights of women, Copts, and other minorities in Egypt.

The third issue on the agenda of the visiting Secretary of State relates to the internal balance of power in Egypt.

Clinton is set to express US support for coordinated relations between the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Brotherhood-backed president.

In addition to her meeting with Morsi, Clinton is set to meet with the heads of SCAF and figures from Egyptian civil society.

According to a senior US official, as reported by Reuters news agency Saturday, Clinton will urge Egypt’s civilian and military leaders to complete a full transition to democratic rule.

Clinton is also expected to hold a press conference this evening in Cairo.

This is the first visit by Clinton to Egypt since March 2011, following the 25 January Revolution that ended three decades of rule under Hosni Mubarak.



Mideast Asia

Brother of Arrested Shiite cleric Urges Saudis to Continue Protests against the Al-Saud regime

TEHRAN (FNA)- 2012-07-15, The brother of prominent detained Shiite cleric Sheikh Nemr al-Nemr called on the Saudi people to continue demonstrations against the Al-Saud regime.

He made the remarks in a mosque in the city of Awamiyah on Friday, a few days after Sheikh Nemr was attacked, injured, and arrested by Saudi security forces while driving from a farm to his house in the Qatif region of the Eastern Province on July 8.

According to the press tv, Sheikh Nemr's brother addresses the Saudi officials and said, "These are the bullets that you fired at innocent people. Where are the bullets that we fired at you?"

On Saturday, Saudi protesters held an anti-regime demonstration.

The demonstrators took to the streets in Buraydah, about 380 kilometers (236 miles) Northwest of the capital Riyadh.

Tension has been high in the Eastern Province since Nemr's detention with almost daily anti-regime demonstrations in the oil-rich region.

At least four people have been killed and many others injured in the crackdown on demonstrations against the detention of the cleric.

The Eastern Province has been the epicenter of anti-regime protests since last year. Saudi protesters are demanding the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the eastern region.

The demonstrations, however, have turned into calls for the ouster of the House of Saud. The people's anger with the royal family increased after the massacre of peaceful protesters in the troubled region in November 2011.

Anti-regime protests continue in the ultra-conservative monarchy, where any demonstrations or political gatherings are strongly prohibited and met with repressive force.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi regime "routinely represses expression critical of the government."



Iran issues new oil blockade warning


DUBAI:  Jul 14, 2012, Iran could prevent even "a single drop of oil" passing through the Strait of Hormuz if its security is threatened, a naval chief said on Saturday, as tensions simmer over Tehran's nuclear programme.

Tehran will increase its military presence in international waters, said Ali Fadavi, naval commander in Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

"If they (the US) do not obey international laws and the IRGC's warnings, it will have very bad consequences for them," Fadavi said, according to Iran's Fars News Agency.

"The IRGC's naval forces have had the ability since the (Iran-Iraq) war to completely control the Strait of Hormuz and not allow even a single drop of oil to pass through."

Fadavi added: "IRGC special naval forces are present on all of the Islamic Republic of Iran's ships in the Indian Ocean and to its east and west, to prevent any movement.

"This IRGC naval force presence in international waters will increase."

Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz shipping channel, through which 40 percent of the world's sea-borne oil exports passes, in retaliation for sanctions placed on its crude exports by Western powers.

The sanctions were imposed over Iran's nuclear programme, which the West suspects is aimed at creating an atomic weapon. Iran says the programme is for peaceful energy purposes.

The United States has beefed up its presence in the Gulf, adding a navy ship last week to help mine-clearing operations if Iran were to act on threats to block the strait.

Tehran said last month it was building more warships, in part to guard Iranian cargo ships from pirates, and Iranian military leaders often assert Iran's strength in the region and dominance in the Strait of Hormuz.

Military analysts have cast doubt on Iran's willingness to block the slender waterway, given the massive U.S.-led retaliation it would likely incur.



South Asia

UNHRC panel grills Maldives delegation on human rights commitments

By JJ Robinson | July 14th, 2012

A Maldivian government delegation sought to defend the Maldives’ human rights record and commitment to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) before the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) on Thursday and Friday.

The delegation was headed by Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel, former Justice Minister during the 30 year rule of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and co-author of a pamphlet entitled ‘President Nasheed’s devious plot to destroy the Islamic faith of Maldivians’, published in January 2012.  The publication was released at a time when the home minister’s 2300 member Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) was in opposition.

Dr Jameel was accompanied by State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dunya Maumoon – Gayoom’s daughter – as well as the Maldives’ Permanent Representative in Geneva, Iruthisham Adam.

Adam and Dr Jameel first read out a prepared statement from the government in response to a list of issues raised by the UNHRC. The delegation then faced questions from the panel, and were given the opportunity to respond.

Dr Jameel began by briefly outlining the current political situation in the Maldives, noting that the country had seen “significant changes” in 2012, which had “clear implications for rights protected under the Covenant.”

He explained to the panel that President Mohamed Waheed had ascended to the presidency according to the constitution following the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed on February 7, emphasising that this elevation was “not a change of government, but a continuation of the democratic government.”

He acknowledged “disagreement over the nature and sequence of events that led to Nasheed’s resignation”, noting that this had “led Nasheed and his supporters to question the legitimacy of the new government” and “perpetrate the political tensions in the country.”

The government wished to accommodate peaceful protests, he said, but added that “Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) activists harass fellow citizens at odd hours of the day, conducting political demonstrations late at night without notifying authorities.”

“The government opposes acts of violence, but these protests are violent in nature,” he claimed. “Despite this police have used minimum force and shown maximum restraint.”

The UNHRC panel began by observing that the government’s list of issues had been generated in 2011, “and as the delegation has conceded, there have been dramatic developments since then.”

The panel noted that the statement given by the government had noted that the provisions of the covenant were not treated as law in the Maldives unless incorporated, noting that this “could give the impression that the covenant did not have the status of law, whereas it has the status of international law.”

While Ambassador Adam had claimed that the Covenant was “adequately domesticated” in the Constitution, “we cannot say it has been adequately domesticated when the grounds for discrimination do not include language and religion,” the panel stated.

The panel also raised the “sweeping provision” in the Constitution that no law could be enacted contrary to a tenant of Islam, and what the ramifications of this were for the government’s commitment to the Covenant.

Full Report at:



Extensive talks on maintaining Islamic identity: Dr Jameel

Jul 14, 2012 - 04:01

Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed has revealed that the Maldivian delegation that attended the United Nation's (UN) Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva Switzerland did their very best to maintain the Islamic identity of the Maldives.

In an interview with Haveeru today Dr Jameel said that he had conveyed to the council that Islam is the basis of the Maldivian constitution and that the council clearly understood him.

“We held discussions for six consecutive hours but held onto the same position. We stressed that human rights had been best explained under Islam and that Maldives is one of the countries with the best human rights records. We made it very clear that the basis of the Maldivian constitution is Islam and that we cannot deny rights in conflict with Islamic Sharia,” he said.

The Maldivian delegation was quizzed by the council on flanking, denial of citizenship to non-Muslims and other problems.

He said that UN’s Human Rights Council has been informed that penalties under Islamic Sharia cannot be withheld.

Dr Jameel said that on reviewing the conventions signed by the Maldives it came to light that former President Nasheed’s government had not placed reservations on certain clauses conflicting with Islamic Sharia resulting in confused perceptions by the international community.

“But when explained it to them they accepted it as well. And some members in the committee from Muslim nations also agreed that it is how matters are stated under the Islamic Sharia,” Dr Jameel said.

Achievements made by the Maldives in line with the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) was discussed extensively during the meeting as well.

Dr Jameel said that the main reason why the Maldives has not been able to attain targets under the convention is because of the attitude of former President Nasheed’s administration detailing that under his administration politicians had been arrested in violation of the constitution, the Judiciary had been obstructed and unconstitutional orders issued.

State Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon also represented the Maldives during the meeting along with Dr Jameel.




P.E.I. Muslim Society thrilled with new Islamic centre

July 14, 2012

Cassandra Bernard 

The Muslim community on Prince Edward Island now has a facility where they can gather, pray, celebrate and socialize. The project began over four years ago and members of the Muslim Society are thrilled to be able to hold their events and festivals in the new mosque located at 15 MacAleer Drive.

The Muslim Society of P.E.I. was established in 1990 to cater to the needs of the Muslim community.

Saturday was a historic day in Charlottetown as the full cooperation of the Island community made this project a reality, says Najam Chishti, president of the Muslim Society.

“On behalf of the society and the community, I would like to thank Dr. Sefau and his committee for a job well done. We would also like to thank the many Muslims and non-Muslims from coast to coast, and those outside of Canada, who helped us realize this mosque."

When the project was first initiated, the society had less than $100,000 and it seemed like a daunting task to raise over a half a million dollars in six months. The fundraising committee, chaired by Dr. Suleiman Sefau, was successful in raising the much-needed funds.

Hundreds of letters were sent out, phone calls were made to friends and family, and fundraising dinners, food drives, silent auctions and coin collections all contributed to the finalized project.

“In addition to meeting the immediate needs of the community, such as the daily five prayers, Friday prayer, Sunday school, and Halaq, the reading of Quran and its teaching for both men and women, this building will also serve as an Islamic centre where we can welcome non-Muslims in a friendly environment that will help promote inter-faith dialogue, peace, and understanding,” Najam said.

“There's a lot here for children and for women with small children, they can socialize too and there will be Islamic studies and Sunday school for children,” Farida Chishti said.

“We no longer have to rent a hall or place, we can have all of our events here.”

Mayor Clifford Lee was present at the open house on Saturday and said Charlottetown and the Island can certainly recognize the importance of immigration to P.E.I. and how this is a perfect example of a facility where members of the community can come together.

“We no longer have to rent a hall or place, we can have all of our events here,” - Farida Chishti.

“I wish much happiness here in your facility and this place of worship and because of what you people bring to the community. Thanks for the invitation and congratulations,” he said in front of a crowd of about 60 people downstairs in the mosque.

Like most Canadians, Island Muslims are passionate about social justice, civic issues such as health and environment, and they have actively participated in various local initiatives like fundraising for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, donating to the food bank, and fundraising for the Canadian Red Cross.

“In the end we hope this building will also be a place for dialogue and discussion and to have Island Muslims be actively engaged in the community we share,” he said in closing the open house.

Najam also acknowledged the local supporters of the project. Home Depot, Kent Building Supplies, Co-op, and Campbell Construction all helped out with making the project a reality.



Islamic Centre marks 50 years of serving metro Detroiters

By Niraj Warikoo

Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

July 15, 2012

Searching for his spiritual roots as a teenager, Amir Makled came to the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn.

"It made it so easy to understand the teachings of Islam," Makled, 25, said after Friday prayers last month inside the Dearborn mosque. "If it wasn't for this institution, I wouldn't have been able to engage spiritually."

For thousands of Muslims, the Islamic Centre -- considered the biggest mosque in Michigan and possibly the U.S. -- has served as a centre of the community. It also has become a center for non-Muslims to learn about Islam, from local pastors to military leaders to politicians: Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have all met with its spiritual leader, Imam Hassan al-Qazwini.

But the mosque has humble origins rooted in the working-class Arab immigrant communities of Dearborn and Detroit. This year, the mosque is marking its 50th anniversary with banquets and gatherings that recall its past and look forward toward the next 50 years. With its coffee shop, gymnasium and adjacent school, the 65,000-square-foot center has the flavor of some Christian mega-churches, serving about 10,000 people in metro Detroit. It now has plans to build a 700-seat auditorium and library that will further its goal of being a center of learning.

All this would have been hard to imagine back in the 1950s, when Lebanese-American Muslims struggled to raise money to establish it.

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