New Age Islam
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Islamic World News ( 23 Feb 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Religious TV jeopardizing pluralism

Discovering Islam: Students from Leeds promoting faith

Indonesia seeks new capital as Jakarta sinks

Turkey grills top military officers for ‘coup attempt’

Sikhs caught in Pak’s wild west

Protests in Kashmir over beheading of Sikhs

India will use Sikh attacks to drive home terror point

Malaysia organizing  international conference on caning for women under Islamic law

In Malaysia, Increasing Religious Tension May Be Linked to Economic Concerns

Hamas man's son Mosab Hassan Yousef 'was Israeli spy'

Rs 10m ransom demand for Hindu man abducted in Pak

Saudi cleric backs gender segregation with ‘fatwa’

Sudan to offer Darfur rebels state posts

Son of Hamas founder was top Israeli agent

Pune blast: Cell found at site triggered blast

Top US General Apologizes for Afghan Deaths

Halal Burgers? Another French Brouhaha Over Islam

Iran to host forum on religious diversity

Israeli heritage site row 'could start intifada'

Education for Human Rights and Peace Building

The curious case of Hafiz Saeed

Pakistan wants third-party role for China

Pak blank cheque on India bounces off the Great Wall

Pak pushes for China intervention in Afghanistan to check India,US

'No third-party mediation in Indo-Pak dialogue'

Sept. 11 Film ‘Khan’ Laments Muslim Plight, Stirs Fury: Review

Crude diplomacy: Iranian unease over Iraq’s oil production

MALAYSIA:  Banning of Books Alarms Freedom Advocates

A "model" Islamic education from Turkey?

Pakistan: Official intransigence in the face of violence against Christians

5 militants killed in Sopore gun battle

Kashmir villagers in shock after infant’s death

Water Pakistan's diversionary tactic?

FBI chief in Delhi, assures support in fighting terror

Afghan admits NYC bomb plot, al-Qaida training

Iran arrests Jundallah chief Regi from flight

Man vows to renounce terrorism as trial ends

Unbiased and interesting event about the potential Democracy in the Muslim World

Muslims' approach of underscoring the era of ancient Islamic glory needs to be reviewed

Germany arrests "wife" of alleged terror cell chief

More Than a Hero

Iran: End Persecution of Baha’is

Swiss Tourism website goes Arabic

Five Taliban killed while planting bombs in Kurram

Number of ‘working poor’ rising in Pakistan: ILO

Petraeus warns 'disjointed' Taliban of long campaign

Taliban Suspect Claims Harassment

Storm in Iraqi Desert: Stable and Brutal

Palestinian group threatens attacks over heritage sites

The unspoken implications of firmer Syria laws

Sheikh-ul-Islam appeals on Khojali Tragedy

“Iranian Cookbook” whets Berlinale’s appetite

Pak Hindus to miss Holi celebrations

Indonesian landslide kills five, bury 60

Shia family of 8 killed in Baghdad

Bangladesh court to hear case against mutiny suspects

Al-Qaida leader in Yemen threatens new US attacks

Girl’s killer arrested in Jeddah

Algeria recalls envoy from Mali over Al-Qaeda row

Nato, Russia to jointly combat Taliban, says Hillary

Lahore High Court directs police to recover 6-year-old abducted girl

Photo: Religious TV jeopardizing pluralism

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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Religious TV jeopardizing pluralism

Prodita Sabarini ,

24 Feb, 2010

A recent episode of an Islamic religious program aired on a private TV station broached the topic of tattoos, questioning whether they were haram (prohibited) or halal (allowed).

The TV show presenter then pointed his microphone to people with tattoos, asking if they knew the marks on their skin were prohibited under Islamic law.

The episode in itself begs the following questions: Was singling out people with tattoos in a religious program right or wrong?

How about other minorities whose lifestyles are not in line with certain religious teachings, such as gay men and lesbians, or people who drink alcohol?

How would broadcasting a strict right or wrong label on people affect the pluralist nature of our society?

Pervasive medium: Three people watch a television program in a shop at a railway station in Jakarta. Activists argue that many religious TV programs play a symbolic rather than a substantial role in religion, and tend to marginalize minority groups. JP/NurhayatiPervasive medium: Three people watch a television program in a shop at a railway station in Jakarta. Activists argue that many religious TV programs play a symbolic rather than a substantial role in religion, and tend to marginalize minority groups. JP/Nurhayati

Religious programs, which have been around since the early days of TV — when the country only had one public television station, TVRI – usually take the form of sermons delivered by ulemas, priests or Buddhist monks.

In recent years, producers of religious programs have been experimenting with reality-TV types of shows. While some shows focus on one particular topic, such as debating whether something is halal or haram and then interviewing people about the matter, others are a blend of reality shows and religious programs, with family members attempting to get their relative who has strayed from religion to return to it.

Through religious programs, TVs are bringing into everyone’s living rooms strict interpretations of religious teachings in a modern context, which could jeopardize pluralism and religious tolerance.

The head of the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI), Sasa Juarsa Sendjaja, said Indonesian media was generally doing a good job promoting pluralism.

“However, there are attempts, here and there, from the majority to dominate the minority,” he said.

The majority of people in Indonesia are Muslims. The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has often stipulated divisive edicts or fatwa. In 2005, the MUI released an edict stating that pluralism, liberalism and religious secularism were haram.

Since then, a number of fatwas have been released, including a ban on smoking, women riding on the back motorcycles, hair straightening, hair-dyeing and on taking pre-wedding pictures.  

Marginalized people: Two transvestites perform a Javanese traditional dance at an international conference in Bali. JP/R. Berto WedhatamaMarginalized people: Two transvestites perform a Javanese traditional dance at an international conference in Bali. JP/R. Berto Wedhatama

Artist and politician Guruh Soekarnoputra said TV programs promoting intolerance reflected the changes permeating Indonesian society.

Full report at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/02/10/religious-tv-jeopardizing-pluralism.html

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Discovering Islam: Students from Leeds promoting faith

February 23, 2010

Students from Leeds Met's Islamic Society are promoting their faith during a series of events being held for Discover Islam Week.

A host of talks and lectures, which will question controversy, explore the position of women in Islam and discover the spirituality and cultures of the religion, will take place throughout this week at the University's Information Gateway, Civic Quarter. A range of free refreshments, stalls and activities, including henna tattooing, calligraphy and canvasses, will also be available.

Proceeds raised throughout the week will go to the Haiti Earthquake Appeal. For further details and a full list of events taking place please visit the Facebook group. For queries about events taking place please email leedsmet.isoc@gmail.com, or call Brother on 07872 941010 or Sister on 07517 157124.

http://www.leedsmet.ac.uk/news/index_discovering_islam_230210.htm

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Indonesia seeks new capital as Jakarta sinks

Feb 24, 2010,

JAKARTA: It has been the economic heartbeat of the world's fourth most populous country for almost 500 years, but Jakarta's days as Indonesia's capital could be numbered.

Choked with traffic and garbage, the city on the northwest Java coast has been pushed to breaking point as its population surges above 12 million and its foundations sink under the weight of rampant development.

Floods displace thousands of people and cause millions of dollars of damage every year, and are predicted to get worse with rising sea levels, unchecked logging in catchment areas and the blocking of canals with rubbish. A World Bank study has found that by 2025 the sea could be lapping at the gates of the presidential palace in the centre of the former spice capital.

This could explain why President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recently revived a radical plan to shift the capital to a new location.

"Going forward, the idea of moving the centre of the administration must again be considered and developed, considering Jakarta has become exceedingly crowded," Yudhoyono said.

Similar proposals go back to previous presidents Sukarno and Suharto, who decades ago foresaw the eventual breakdown of Jakarta. "It can be done — what you need is strong political commitment. Malaysia moved to Putrajaya because of the strength of Mahathir Mohamad," urban studies expert Deden Rukmana said, referring to Malaysia's ex-PM.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/Indonesia-seeks-new-capital-as-Jakarta-sinks-/articleshow/5609402.cms

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Turkey grills top military officers for ‘coup attempt’

Feb 24, 2010

Prosecutors on Tuesday interrogated 51 Turkish military commanders, including former Air Force and Navy chiefs, over alleged plans to destabilise the country by blowing up mosques to trigger a coup and topple the Islamic-rooted government.

It was the highest profile crackdown ever on the Turkish military, which has ousted four governments since 1960. For decades Turkey’s senior officers, self-appointed guardians of the country’s secular tradition, called the shots.

But the balance of power in the country appeared to have shifted Monday as police rounded up the 51 military commanders, following the gathering of evidence and discovery of an alleged secret coup plan, dubbed “the sledgehammer,” prepared when the commanders were on active duty between 2003 and 2005.

The nationwide sweep has dramatically deepened a power struggle between the secular establishment and the government, which has strong electoral backing and the EU’s support. Turkey’s elite military — “pashas” — were once deemed untouchable.

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“The most heavy sledgehammer to military custody,” read headline of daily Taraf, which published leaked military documents that lead to the detentions. “This is not a legal process. This is apparently a sheer process of political showdown,” said Deniz Baykal, head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party.

Full report at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/turkey-grills-top-military-officers-for-coup-attempt/583693/2

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Sikhs caught in Pak’s wild west

Mehmal Sarfraz ,

February 23, 2010

The beheading of Jaspal Singh by militants has shocked most Pakistanis. He was kidnapped by unidentified militants from the Chora Tanga area of Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency about two weeks ago along with two others, Surjeet Singh and Gurvinder Singh.

The militants had demanded a ransom of Rs 30 million to be paid by February 20. This is reportedly the first time a Sikh has been killed by militants.

Another Sikh, Mahal Singh, has allegedly been killed in the Orkazai Agency by the militants. Officials have not confirmed the report.

Rahimullah Yusufzai, a veteran journalist based in Peshawar, said that it has been reported that the relatives of the kidnapped Sikhs went to meet Mangal Bagh, a militant leader, asking him to mediate with whoever was responsible for the kidnappings.

“Militants kidnap for ransom often and justify this in the name of jihad. Many people are kidnapped daily from Peshawar, Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore by the militants for extortion money,” said Yusufzai.

About 90 per cent of Pakistan’s 20,000 Sikhs live in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and tribal areas. There are about 600 Sikh families living in Peshawar alone. The Sikh community is a well-respected business community in the NWFP and thousands of Sikh yatris come very year to Nankana Sahib to pay homage to the birthplace of Guru Nanak.

President Asif Ali Zardari denounced the murder and directed that effective measures be taken to stop the recurrence of such incidents. A statement issued by the Press Information Department, Government of Pakistan, further said, "The President also condemned the kidnapping of a Hindu, Mr Robin Singh, on Friday from a market on the university road, Peshawar, in broad daylight."

Full report at: /www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/pakistan/Sikhs-caught-in-Pak-s-wild-west/Article1-512191.aspx

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Protests in J&K over beheading of Sikhs

WIDESPREAD CONDEMNATION: Sikhs shout slogans during the Jammu bandh called on Tuesday in protest against the attack on the community in Pakistan.

SRINAGAR/JAMMU: Raising anti-Taliban slogans, Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday blocked roads for hours and burnt tyres during a bandh to protest the recent killing of two members of the community in Pakistan’s restive tribal belt, and demanded concrete steps to ensure the safety of minorities in that country.

The call for the bandh — given by the Jammu and Kashmir Sikh United Front (JKSUF) and supported by the BJP, VHP, the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP), the Jammu Bar Association and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, besides social organisations — hit life in Jammu, Poonch, Reasi and R.S. Pura districts, where shops and business establishments remained closed and vehicles went partially off the roads.

Sikh protesters, led by Sudershan Singh Wazir, JKSUF convener, blocked the Jammu-Srinagar national highway for over four hours in the Gangyal and Jammu areas, burnt tyres at Digiana, Camp and other places along the highway.

“We condemn the attack on Sikhs in Pakistan. The beheading incidents are brutal. Sikhs are unsafe in the area and the Pakistan government has failed to provide them security,” Mr. Wazir told journalists in Jammu.

The All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee in Srinagar appealed to the governments of India and Pakistan to take concrete steps to ensure the safety and security of minorities living in Pakistan.

“We are grieved and concerned over the killing of two Sikhs in Peshawar. We request the governments of India and Pakistan to take concrete steps and ensure the safety and security of minority community in Pakistan,” Jagmohan Singh Raina, convener of the committee, said.

Two Sikhs, kidnapped for ransom, were beheaded in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province on Sunday. Some more members of the community are still in the Taliban’s custody.

Full report at: http://www.hindu.com/2010/02/24/stories/2010022463351400.htm

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India will use Sikh attacks to drive home terror point

Shubhajit Roy

Feb 24, 2010

As Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir lands in New Delhi on Wednesday for talks with his Indian counterpart a day later, New Delhi is expected to up the ante on the beheading of Sikhs in Pakistan to drive home the point on the spectre of terrorism and the selective action by Islamabad against the terror groups.

Top sources told The Indian Express that a decision to this effect has been taken at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and External Affairs minister S M Krishna has been asked to make a “suo motu” statement in the Parliament on Wednesday on the beheading of the Sikhs.

New Delhi feels the latest incident has given it an opportunity to raise the pitch on terrorism and make the point that distinctions between Taliban’s Quetta Shura, al Qaeda, Hizb-e-Islami and the Lashkar-e-Taiba were “meaningless”, since they are, for all practical purposes, merged both operationally and ideologically and that not acting against all these groups is going to affect not just Indians, but Pakistan citizens as well. India will also reiterate its demand for bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attack to justice expeditiously and in a transparent manner.

But as Krishna’s statement raises the temperature, Bashir is expected to raise the issue of Kashmir and meet Hurriyat leaders, including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq at the Pakistan High Commission on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday said his government would do whatever it can for safety and security of the minority community. “We are equally concerned. We condemn that strongly. They (militants) are inhuman. They have (make) no distinction between individuals, ethnicities or religions regardless,” Qureshi said about the attacks on Sikhs.

Full report at: www.indianexpress.com/news/india-will-use-sikh-attacks-to-drive-home-terror-point/583739/2

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Malaysia organizing  international conference on caning for women under Islamic law

John Berthelsen

24 February 2010

Malaysia appears determined to make an international fool of itself. The latest news, according to Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, the Women's Minister, is that the country is considering organizing an international conference on caning and whether it is an appropriate punishment for women under Islamic law.

The announcement by Shahrizat comes on the heels of a government statement last week, nine days after the fact, that a shariah court had ordered the caning of three women for adultery. A fourth, far more publicized, is the case of Kartika Dewi Shukarni, a part-time model who was ordered by a shariah court to be caned for drinking beer. The case is still hanging fire while the Regent of Pahang decides how to treat the matter.

This all is in addition to the widely publicized show trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on charges of consensual sex with a male, a selective prosecution at best even if he did it, since Kuala Lumpur throngs with gay bars, and political persecution at the worst over widespread suspicion that the charges were trumped up. There is also the January violence in the wake of a high court judge's decision to allow the Malaysian Catholic Church to use the word Allah as a synonym for God in its Malay-language editions of its newspaper, the Catholic Herald. Eleven churches, a Sikh temple and two Muslim prayer rooms were attacked.

Many critics hold UMNO responsible for fanning racial disharmony. In the cases of the prayer rooms, eight UMNO members were arrested for attacking them in an apparent attempt to make it look like either Chinese or Indians had done it. There are similar suspicions that ethnic Malays had thrown pigs' heads with money in their mouths into mosques in Kuala Lumpur.

Full report at: http://asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2317&Itemid=199

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In Malaysia, Increasing Religious Tension May Be Linked to Economic Concerns

Brian Padden

24 February 2010

Recently, a series of attacks on Christian churches and a Sikh temple in Malaysia focused attention on growing ethnic tension in the country. The Malaysian government, which has been promoting a "1Malaysia" campaign stressing racial and religious harmony, condemned the attacks. But, some critics say it may also be contributing to religious and racial divisions to solidify its political base.

A legal dispute over the word "Allah" divides Muslims and Catholics in Malaysia. The controversy started on December 31, when the Malaysian High Court allowed Roman Catholics to use "Allah" to refer to God. The government has appealed the verdict.

Although many Muslims attending prayer service at the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur believe the word "Allah" is exclusive to Islam, few endorsed the violent attacks on nine churches and a Sikh temple that followed the court ruling.

"We think it could be created, you know, to make people believe there are violence in religions here but, in fact it is not," said a Muslim man.

At Saint Ann's Church, Father Lawrence Andrew says the government's swift response to protect churches has been reassuring but the experience has left Malaysia's Catholic community concerned. "We are not really upset about it, but what is psychologically disturbing is that people can be annoyed or feel insecure at the slightest differences that appear," he said.

Although the attacks appear religious in nature, political analysts here say they are more symptomatic of conflicting economic and political pressures on the leading government party, the United Malays United Malays National Organization.

Charles Santiago is an opposition member of parliament with the Democratic Action Party. He says UMNO maintained power for years by giving special treatment to its core constituency - ethnic Muslim Malays, who make up 60 percent of the population.

"I am UMNO, the protector, and I will give you the money.  I will give you all development and all you have to do is every once in five years make sure you come and vote for me, and this thing will go on," said Santiago.

Full report at: www1.voanews.com/english/news/asia/In-Malaysia-Increasing-Religious-Tension-May-Be-Linked-to-Economic-Concerns-85193557.html

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Hamas man's son Mosab Hassan Yousef 'was Israeli spy'

By Patrick Jackson

24 Feb, 2010

The son of a jailed Hamas leader who converted to Christianity and moved to California has gone public to say that he spied for Israel.

Speaking before the release of a book about his life, Mosab Hassan Yousef made the assertion in an interview for Israel's Haaretz newspaper.

A former deputy head of Israel's Shin Bet intelligence service told the BBC he had been one of its agents.

A Hamas leader dismissed the report as a slander on the Islamist group.

Mr Yousef, 32, is a son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a senior Hamas figure in the West Bank, who is currently serving a six-year prison sentence in an Israeli prison.

If the younger Yousef's revelations are true, and he did play a role in preventing Hamas attacks on Israel, it will be an embarrassment for the group, which prides itself on its tight discipline and shuns the Palestinian Authority because of its peace negotiations with Israel.

'Slander and lies'

Mosab Hassan Yousef converted to Christianity and moved to the US in 2007.

The book he co-wrote, Son of Hamas, is due to be published there shortly.

"He provided very important information like hundreds of others fighting against terror," Gideon Ezra, formerly deputy leader of Shin Bet and now a member of the Knesset for the Kadima party, told BBC World Service.

Mr Ezra said the younger Yousef had been persuaded to spy for Israel while being held in prison himself.

Earlier, senior Hamas leader Ismail Radwan condemned Haaretz's report as "baseless slander" aimed at the elder Yousef.

"The Palestinian people have great confidence in Hamas and its struggle and they will not be fooled by this slander and these lies of the Israeli occupation," he told AFP news agency.

Haaretz journalist Avi Issacharoff, who wrote the original article, told the BBC Mr Yousef was not prepared to give any further media interviews as of Wednesday morning.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8533952.stm

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Rs 10m ransom demand for Hindu man abducted in Pak

Feb 24, 2010,

PESHAWAR: Days after beheading of two abducted Sikhs by Taliban in the restive tribal belt, a Pakistani Hindu man has been reportedly kidnapped from here and his abductors have demanded Rs 10 million for his release.

Robin Singh, a computer engineer, was kidnapped by unknown persons from a market on University Road last Friday, a local politician said on Tuesday. He was kidnapped while going to Nowshera for some work.

The kidnappers have demanded Rs 10 million from Singh's relatives, said Sahib Singh, a member of the district assembly in Peshawar.

Robin Singh's brother Rajan Singh has registered a case at West Cantonment police station, Sahib Singh said. However, officials at the police station said they were not aware of the registration of a First Information Report in this regard. They said Robin Singh might not have been abducted from their jurisdiction.

In a statement issued on Monday, President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the kidnapping of Robin Singh. The President directed authorities to take steps for the recovery of Singh.

The incident comes to light days after the recovery of the beheaded bodies of two abducted Sikhs — Mahal Singh and Jaspal Singh — in Pakistan's tribal belt.

Another two to four Sikhs are still being held by the Taliban. The kidnapping and killing of the Sikhs has been condemned by leaders of Pakistan's minority Sikh community.

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Saudi cleric backs gender segregation with ‘fatwa’

RIYADH: A prominent Saudi cleric Shaikh Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak has issued a ‘fatwa’ calling for opponents of the kingdom’s strict segregation of men and women to be put to death if they refuse to abandon their ideas.

Barrak said the mixing of genders at the workplace or in education “as advocated by modernisers” is prohibited because it allows “sight of what is forbidden and forbidden talk between men and women”. reuters

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\02\24\story_24-2-2010_pg7_45

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Sudan to offer Darfur rebels state posts

Feb 24, 2010

DOHA/KHARTOUM: Khartoum will offer Darfur's most powerful rebel group government posts as part of a future peace deal to end conflict in Sudan's west, according to documents setting out the terms of negotiations.

The documents were the first concrete sign that Khartoum is prepared to share power with its bitter foe in the western region -- a development that could alienate existing allies there and complicate preparations for April elections.

The 12-point deal offers the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), long-seen as Darfur's most heavily armed rebel group, a power-sharing role in Sudan, where the first presidential and legislative polls in 24 years are to be held in April.

But the rebels played down chances of reaching a final peace pact by March 15, as outlined in a framework deal for peace talks.

"We are working to meet the March 15 deadline, but that itself is not a requirement," chief JEM negotiator Ahmed Tugud said.

"We are trying to move forward, at least. It has been a long time since we've had a direct dialogue (with the government). We believe it is the right time to start," he added.

Another rebel official said the deadline was unrealistic, and rebels reported fresh violence in Darfur two days after an initial version of the framework peace deal was inked in Chad.

The initial framework included a cease-fire, plans to integrate the JEM into Sudan's army and a promise to reach a final peace deal by March 15. Tuesday's event has been billed as the "official signing.”

"Peace will prevail in Darfur before the coming elections," Sudanese President Omar Hassan Bashir was quoted as saying by State news agency Suna late on Monday.

According to a French-language copy of the framework agreement, the JEM and Khartoum agreed to "the participation of the Justice and Equality Movement at all levels of government ... in a manner to be agreed subsequently between the two parties.”

The deal comes a year after Khartoum and the JEM met in Doha to agree to confidence-building measures designed to pave the way for the framework agreement and then full peace talks.

Full report at: http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article21506.ece

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Son of Hamas founder was top Israeli agent

Feb. 24, 2010

The son of one of Hamas' founders served as a top informant for Israel for more than a decade, providing top-secret intelligence that helped prevent dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks against Israelis, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

Mosab Hassan Yousef, dubbed as "the Green Prince" by his handlers, was one of the Shin Bet security service's most valuable sources, Israel's Haaretz daily said. His reports led to the arrests of several high-ranking Palestinian figures during the violent Palestinian uprising that began in 2000, according to the newspaper.

Yousef's father _ Sheik Hassan Yousef _ was a founding member of the Islamic militant group Hamas in the 1980s. He is currently serving a six-year sentence in an Israeli prison for his political activities.

The younger Yousef converted to Christianity and moved to California in 2007.

If the Haaretz report is true, the revelation would deal another setback to Hamas, which is reeling from the assassination of a top operative in Dubai last month. There have been reports that a Hamas insider assisted the killers.

Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri told a Gaza Web site that he would not address the younger Yousef's claims, and accused Haaretz of "fabrications and lies."

Yousef's memoir, "Son of Hamas," is being published next week in the United States by Tyndale House Publishers.

Yousef could not be immediately contacted for comment, but an excerpt from the book on his Facebook page plugs it as "a gripping account of terror, betrayal, political intrigue, and unthinkable choices." It describes Yousef's journey as one that "jeopardized Hamas, endangered his family, and threatened his life."

Full report at: www.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/feb/24/report-son-of-hamas-founder-was-top-israeli-agent/

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Pune blast: Cell found at site triggered blast

Mateen Hafeez

Feb 24, 2010,

 MUMBAI/PUNE: Investigators are certain that a mobile phone, found in a burnt and shattered condition at the site of the German Bakery blast in Pune, was the trigger for the February 13 terrorist attack that took 15 lives and injured 54 people.

A senior official involved in the investigation, who did not wish to be named, said the investigators have no doubt that the phone, which was recovered from the blast site and which does not appear to be of a Chinese make, was used by the terrorists.

The mangled mobile phone has been sent for forensic analysis, the official said. "The mobile was almost shattered, but we are trying to get some clues from it," said the senior official. An investigator said that it appears that no calls had been made, or SMSs sent, to the mobile phone for at least one week prior to the blast.

Senior investigators, who have been facing criticism for not breaking ground in the probe, have remained tight-lipped about the case after reportedly receiving instructions from the Centre to not speak on the issue.

While the senior security official said investigators are sure the recovered phone was used to trigger the blast, they are still unsure about how the bomb was actually set off. Officials suspect that either a call was made to the phone, an SMS was sent or the phone’s alarm clock was set to deliver the current that resulted in the explosion. "We cannot say anything until we get the forensic report," said a senior official.

A mobile phone was used as the trigger in the Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blast of 2007. In that blast, a call was made to the mobile phone connected to the bomb and, as soon as it rang, the bomb exploded. Mobile phones were also suspected to have been used in the 2008 serial blasts in Agartala.

Full report at: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/Pune-blast-Cell-found-at-site-triggered-blast/articleshow/5609658.cms

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Top US General Apologizes for Afghan Deaths

Lauren Frayer

(Feb. 23) -- The top U.S. general in Afghanistan issued a video apology to the Afghan people today, telling them he's "extremely saddened" by the "tragic loss of innocent lives" during NATO operations in the country.

The military dubbed over Gen. Stanley McChrystal's apology into two Afghan languages, Dari and Pashtu, and made it available to all media for broadcast on Afghan television.

In the video, McChrystal describes how American forces called in an airstrike Sunday against what they believed was a group of insurgents in Uruzgan province, but later realized that Afghan civilians were killed instead. The Afghan government says 27 people died, including four women and a child. It was the third such mistaken bombing in a week's time.

"I express my deepest, heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families. We all share in their grief," McChrystal said. "I have made it clear to our forces that we are here to protect the Afghan people. I pledge to strengthen our efforts to regain your trust to build a brighter future for all Afghans."

McChrystal apologized to Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday, shortly after it became clear the victims of the Uruzgan attack were civilians. NATO's Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in Washington on Monday that he "strongly" regrets the killing of Afghan civilians, and added that Taliban fighters have been responsible for the "huge majority" of civilian deaths in the country. His comments were carried by several agencies.

Such quick and direct apologies underscore the importance NATO commanders place on protecting civilians in an effort to win the loyalty of ordinary Afghans. They hope to build trust in the Afghan government and its foreign backers, weaning the local populace away from the Taliban-led insurgency and into civic life.

Full report at: www.aolnews.com/world/article/top-us-gen-stanley-mcchrystal-apologizes-for-civilian-deaths-in-afghanistan/19369275

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Halal Burgers? Another French Brouhaha Over Islam

By Bruce Crumley

Feb. 24, 2010

Perhaps it's time for France to take a deep breath.

First the country went through histrionics as parliamentarians bustled to ban the niqab — the face-covering garment only a few hundred Muslim women wear in this nation of 65 million people. Then came President Nicolas Sarkozy's push for a debate on national identity, a move that critics claimed stigmatized immigrants and Muslims. Now France is demonstrating what looks like a neurotic obsession with Islam — if not outright Islamophobia — as it frets over halal hamburgers sold in a handful of the 362 French affiliates of Franco-Belgian fast food chain Quick.

The latest brouhaha was sparked by René Vandierendonck, the Socialist mayor of the northern city of Roubaix, who this month railed against his local Quick outlet over its Nov. 30 decision to remove bacon burgers from its menu and replace them with a version using halal beef and a slice of smoked turkey. "It's discrimination" against non-Muslim customers, Vandierendonck said. The mayor has filed charges with justice authorities against Quick for what he says is prejudicial religious catering. He's also lodged a complaint with France's main anti-discrimination authority on the matter. "Yes to diversity, no to exclusion," Vandierendonck told Le Monde's website last week. "I congratulate Quick for adapting its offer to consumers by providing halal, but it goes too far when they propose only that." (See an article on the global halal economy.)

Unsurprisingly, Marine Le Pen, vice president of France's far right National Front political party, whose power base lies near Roubaix, has been quick to jump on the issue. France, she says, needs to be defended from Islam's growing influence. Quick's halal option is "an Islamic tax" on diners. Not to be outdone, members of the ruling conservative Union for a Popular Majority (UMP) have also fretted over Quick's menu change. UMP secretary general Xavier Bertrand said it was undermining France's secular, integrationist social model, while UMP parliamentarian Richard Mallié saluted Vandierendonck's "republican combat."

Critics of Vandierendonck point out that Roubaix's Quick outlet is one of just eight in France to adapt menus to its predominantly Muslim customers, and claim the controversy, coming after those about Muslim dress and religious symbols, is evidence of a deep prejudice against Islam. "Would there have been all these resounding denunciations had Quick decided to position itself in, say, the biological food niche rather than halal?" asks Muslim consumer blog al-kanz.org . "Would thematic Quick menus offering only Mexican or Chinese food made such noise in the media? No, assuredly not." (Read an article on halal food advertising.)

Full report at: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1967299,00.html

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Iran to host forum on religious diversity

February 24, 2010

TEHRAN - The World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought is scheduled to host the 23rd International Conference under the topic of “Islamic Ummah: From Religious Diversity to Sectarianism.”

The conference will be held in Tehran on March 2-4, and 150 pundits from over 48 countries including Russia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Denmark, Australia, the United States, Qatar, Kuwait, and Thailand will attend the conference, the center’s director Ayatollah Taskhiri told a press conference on Tuesday.

The conference will focus on the current issues facing the Muslim world and ways to strengthen unity among the Islamic states.

The conference’s agenda will include the following topics: the factors behind the creation of different religions, the guarantees for the continuation of natural interactions between diverse religions, the positive results of religious interactions, historical samples of religious interactions, factors behind sectarian tendencies, strategies to eradicate sectarianism and so forth.

Some committees, including the women’s committee in reinforcing unity among Muslims, will also meet on the sidelines of the conference.

Some other conferences will also be held in the border provinces of Hormozgan (Feb. 26), Kermanshah (Feb. 28), Kordestan (Feb. 28, Mar. 1), Golestan and Khorasan (Mar. 1), and Kermanshah and Golestan (Mar. 4)

http://www.tehrantimes.com/Index_view.asp?code=214790

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Israeli heritage site row 'could start intifada'

By Jessica Elgot

February 24, 2010

Israeli President Shimon Peres calls for calm after a plan to restore Jewish heritage sites in sensitive Muslim areas has led Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to warn of a third intifada.

Israeli president Shimon Peres has said that the row over the protection of Jewish and Muslim heritage sites by Israel is being incited by extremists and Hamas.

Hamas’s leader in Gaza has called on Palestinians to attack Israel over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to include the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and the site of Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, in a £69m restoration plan. Both are also important Islamic shrines.

Ismail Haniyeh called on the Palestinians to launch a third intifada against the decision. He said: "Jerusalem is ours, the land is ours, and God is with us. We will not accept these decisions and they will have no ramifications."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called the planned investment in two heritage sites “a serious provocation which may lead to a religious war."

This week, Israeli soldiers clashed with stone-throwing protesters in Hebron.

At a meeting with UN Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East, Robert Serry, President Peres said: “We don’t need to produce artificial conflicts. Israel will continue to grant freedom of worship to every religion in every holy place.”

“Israel plans to invest significant amounts in infrastructure that will increase the accessibility of holy sites to all worshipers. By doing so it aims to honour and allow freedom of worship to all, irrespective of their faith, and protect the holy sites.

 “There is no violation of Muslim or Christian religious rights in any holy place.”

He also asked that UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon should be told that “there are parties in the debate who wish to incite unnecessary conflict.”

The Tomb of the Patriarchs is where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are said to be buried.

Rachel's Tomb is a place of pilgrimage for Jewish women who have been unable to get pregnant. Muslims claim the tomb is actually the Bilal ibn Rabah mosque, built 1,000 years ago.

http://www.thejc.com/news/israel-news/28573/israeli-heritage-site-row-could-start-intifada

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Education for Human Rights and Peace Building

February 24, 2010

(Shafiq Sharif reports for PCP) Arooj-e-Mariam Catholic Church organized a 3-days orientation workshop titled “Education for Human Rights and Peace Building” on February 19-21, 2010, at Centre for Peace and Harmony in Faisalabad. Fr. Nisar Barkat (Director-NCJP), Fr. Khalid Rasheed Asi, Sister Nasreen Daniel, Suneel Malik (Secretary-NCJP), Najeeb Ali Shah, Naseem Anthony (Executive Secretary-AWAM), Sadaqat Sardar (Coordinaot-Caritas), Shazia George (Coordinator-AWAM), Anwar Chaudhry Advocate, Farrukh Hameed Advocate, Shahid Anwar, Rosemary Noel (Coordinator-PCWO), Aqsa Kanwal and Naila Arooj were among the facilitators. Thrity-seven Muslim and Christian trainees including teachers and representatives of NGOs actively participated in the workshop.

Fr. Nisar Barkat said, “We have to make certain changes in our behavior and must overcome the violence in our homes to make the society developed, peaceful, non-violent and prosperous”. “It is responsibility of a good leader to raise voice against injustices and human rights violations which leave negative effects on the society”, he added.

Fr. khalid Rasheed Asi said, “promotion of peace is our duty and access to justice is our right, therefore peace cannot prevail without ensuring justice and human rights in the country, because where there is justice, there is peace and where there is peace, there is respect for human rights”.

Najeeb Ali Shah termed the tribalism, sectarianism and feudalism as obstacles in the way of peace, tolerance and justice. “Religion should be separated from the state affairs; agriculture reforms should be enforced; tribal areas should be included in Pakistan; syllabus of religious seminaries should be equipped with modern technology and seminaries should be monitored, to ensure existence of Pakistan”, he added.

Full report at: http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/headlinenewsd.php?hnewsid=1770

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The curious case of Hafiz Saeed

Nitya Ramakrishnan

Feb 24, 2010

Hafiz Saeed, head of the “JuD aka LeT” (a Security Council description) figures, in popular perception, as the symbol of all that ails Indian security today: jihadi violence, Pakistani malice, US doublespeak and Indian helplessness.

Curiously, in Pakistan too, Saeed is the man they pick up after every serious incident of terror in India. He was held under preventive detention after the December 2001 attack on Parliament, after the July 2006 Mumbai train blasts, and after the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. The Lahore high court struck down each detention. Was the court left with any other option? Was any other legitimate course open to the government of Pakistan? The answers, respectively, are no and yes.

The orders of detention and the manner of justification offered for these by the Pakistani government virtually invited the writs of release. The preventive detention of 2008, in particular, was adopted instead of a viable terror law prosecution — which would have even precluded Saeed’s release on bail.

Saeed was detained in December 2008 under the Maintenance of Public Order Act (MPO). (This was just after the UN Security Council had declared the JuD to be but an alias of the LeT.)  Pakistan has not formally proscribed the JuD by naming it in the first schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 (ATA).  Ordering his release, the court said this: “so far as the Resolution is concerned there is no matter before us about the vires and the government can act upon the same in letter and spirit if so advised. But relying on the same, the detention cannot be maintained as it was even not desired thereby,” according to Dawn on June 3, 2009.

Without formally banning an organisation, the consequences of illegality cannot, naturally, be visited upon its members. Answers, however, were still available to be given to the court. Sections of the ATA extend the ban on a listed organisation to cover its operations under any other name. But the government did not assert that the JuD was merely another name under which the already-proscribed LeT was operating. Besides, to sustain the detention, which was under the MPO, it was sufficient, but necessary to show that Saeed was a threat to public safety. Instead, a blatantly untenable ground was pleaded — which was, consequently, rejected. Reportedly, the court was verbally told that the JuD had al-Qaeda links. Association with a banned organisation, when made out, is a case for a criminal prosecution and not really one for preventive detention, although the two are not mutually exclusive.

Full report at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/witness-for-the-prosecution/583593/4

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Pakistan wants third-party role for China

Ananth Krishnan

BEIJING: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday said Islamabad would welcome a third-party mediating role for China to help bridge its differences with India.

But his overtures received a cautious response from China, with officials here indicating that they would only support moves towards peace that both India and Pakistan cooperated on.

Mr. Qureshi, on a five-day visit to Beijing, said Pakistan “appreciated the important role” China played in the past in promoting the relationship between New Delhi and Islamabad. China had contributed to stability in South Asia, and Pakistan would welcome a “third-party” role for it to help bridge differences with India.

“Pakistan would welcome any role given to China because of the trust and confidence we enjoy among each other,” Mr. Qureshi said in an interaction with scholars and journalists at the China Institute for International Studies (CIIS), a think-tank.

He added: “This is for Indians to decide. Would they be comfortable to have China talking as a third-party trying to bridge the gap? As far as Pakistan is concerned, China has a blank cheque.”

Chinese officials, however, responded cautiously to Mr. Qureshi’s statement. They only reiterated Beijing’s official policy-line that it would “support and welcome improvement of relations” between the two countries.

Full report at: http://www.hindu.com/2010/02/24/stories/2010022463391400.htm

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Pak blank cheque on India bounces off the Great Wall

Saibal Dasgupta

Beijing: Pakistan foreign minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday seemed to jeopardize the peace talks with India when he countered Indian foreign ministrys view that the talks should focus on the issue of terrorism.He even suggested China be a mediator in the talks scheduled for Thursday at New Delhi.

If India restricts the agenda or tries to narrow it down to its own immediate needs,then much progress will not be reached, he said while speaking at a meeting organized by a Chinese government thinktank.He also tried to rope in China in the peace process between the two countries as a mediator although India has all along been against thirdparty intervention.

It is for the Indians to decide if they would be comfortable to have China talking as a third party to bridge the gap.As far as Pakistan is concerned they (China) have a blank cheque, he said while speaking at the staterun China Institute of International Studies.

Within hours of his statement at a meeting in Beijing,the Chinese foreign ministry indicated it was not interested in taking up his offer.

Qin Gang,the foreign ministry spokesman,said China supported efforts to settle disputes between India and Pakistan as both the countries were important and friendly neighbours.He avoided a direct reply on whether China will accept the offer to mediate and suggested that Beijing preferred a bilateral settlement of disputes between the two countries.Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said on Monday that the issue of terrorism and Pakistans inability to curb it would be the focus of the foreign-secretary level talks on February 25.

Full report at: lite.epaper.timesofindia.com/mobile.aspx?article=yes&pageid=15&edlabel=CAP&mydateHid=24-02-2010&pubname=&edname=&articleid=Ar01502&format=&publabel=TOI

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Pak pushes for China intervention in Afghanistan to check India,US

Saibal Dasgupta

Beijing: Pakistan foreign minister Mahmood Qureshi is desperately trying to persuade China to play a more active role in Afghanistan in order to restrict the role by other countries including the US and India.

He has also warned Chinese leaders that it might be difficult to check terrorist forces from spilling over to its troubled province of Xinjiang if China does not enlarge its participation in the war against terror.The separatist movement of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang is known to get a lot of support from terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.A Chinese government expert said Beijing is not likely to send troops to Afghanistan because it has never sent soldiers to a foreign country.But China might accept some of Pakistans demands for additional arms,economic aid and training of military forces. The problem originates from Afghanistan.If it is fixed there,we will be able to deal with its other geographical and regional ramifications, he said.

http://lite.epaper.timesofindia.com/mobile.aspx?article=yes&pageid=15&edlabel=CAP&mydateHid=24-02-2010&pubname=&edname=&articleid=Ar01504&format=&publabel=TOI

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'No third-party mediation in Indo-Pak dialogue'

Feb 24: Rejecting any third party role in talks with Pakistan, India has said that dialogue will only be at the bilateral level.

Defence Minister A K Antony on Tuesday, Feb 23, said "We don't favour involvement of any third country in our talks with Pakistan. It will only be bilateral."

He was reacting to a statement made by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi that China had been offered a 'blank cheque' to adopt a role in Indo-Pak affairs.

Addressing a conference in Beijing, Qureshi said Islamabad would welcome any role given to China to bring down tensions between India and Pakistan.

"It is for the Indians to decide if they would be comfortable to have China talking as a third party to bridge the gap. As far as Pakistan is concerned, they (China) have a blank cheque," he said at the Chinese think tank.

http://news.oneindia.in/2010/02/24/no-third-party-mediation-in-indo-pak-talks.html

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Sept. 11 Film ‘Khan’ Laments Muslim Plight, Stirs Fury: Review

Review by Indranil Ghosh

Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- For all the hype surrounding “My Name Is Khan” -- from its ace star Shah Rukh Khan to violent attempts this month by right-wing activists to block the film’s Mumbai debut -- you’d expect the movie to live up to the fuss.

If only. The Bollywood love story, produced by Fox Star Studios and now playing in U.S. theaters, tries and falls short of reflecting the hardship of ordinary Muslims in light of shifting public perception toward the community after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York.

The story unfolds in San Francisco where the protagonist, an Indian-born Muslim migrant with Asperger’s Syndrome called Rizwan Khan (Shah Rukh), meets and marries Mandira (Kajol Devgan), a Hindu single mother, only to see their idyllic life shattered by the fallout from 9/11.

Rizwan trudges across the U.S. to regain Mandira’s love after she castigates him for being a Muslim and rues her own decision of marrying into faith. Rizwan finds himself having to declare he is not a terrorist despite his last name.

The film struck a chord with moviegoers in India, drawing the country’s biggest three-day gross of $18 million after it opened on Feb. 12. Indian Muslims and Hindus rushed to watch the film even after members of the right-winged Hindu political party, Shiv Sena, damaged cinemas in Mumbai and warned theater- owners against screening the movie. That’s after Shah Rukh, a Muslim, had publicly regretted the absence of players from Islamic Pakistan at India’s planned cricket game.

Producer-director Karan Johar, trying to create meaningful cinema with “My Name is Khan,” is unable to rise above his usual saccharin-sweet storytelling method.

Megastar Persona

Full report at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601088&sid=afA5_kp7QL5s

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Crude diplomacy: Iranian unease over Iraq’s oil production

Feb 24, 2010

In early September 1960 the Iraqi government hosted officials from Venezuela and three Gulf countries for an obscure five-day conference in Baghdad. Wearing suits rather than robes, and sitting at a plain wooden table, they founded the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). For the next three decades Iraq helped to lead the oil cartel as both membership and output grew rapidly. But its influence declined in 1990 when it invaded another founding member, Kuwait, and fell under United Nations sanctions. Despite having the world’s third-largest reserves of oil, Iraq dropped to 13th place in the international production table. Pipelines rusted, wells remained untended and engineers emigrated.

Iraq is now trying to recover its glory, with plans to quadruple production or more. This could transform the global oil industry; it also threatens two other founding members of OPEC. Saudi Arabia might have to share its leadership of the organisation and Iran faces an even greater setback. Close relations with China, based on Beijing’s thirst for oil, have helped Iran to avoid isolation over its nuclear programme. But Chinese oil companies are now turning their attention to Iraq, with American backing.

Yet Iraq will have to pull off an unprecedented feat. In the history of the modern oil industry, no country has increased output with the speed the Iraqis envisage. Over the next seven years Iraq intends to go from producing 2.5m barrels per day to 12m b/d, a target that exceeds Saudi Arabia’s current output by more than 30 per cent. To this end, Iraq has signed ten deals with most of the world’s top oil companies. Some got down to work this month.

Full report at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/crude-diplomacy/583586/4

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MALAYSIA:  Banning of Books Alarms Freedom Advocates

By Baradan Kuppusamy*

Feb 23, 2010

The confiscation and banning of books by Malaysian authorities is sending alarm bells ringing among activists, who want the repeal of laws that the government is using to suppress freedom of expression.

Home Ministry officials last week continued to raid numerous bookstores to confiscate books and publications by ‘Malaysiakini’, an independent news website that has been critical of government policies.

The ministry says it needs to "study and review" these books for content deemed to be against national security. But for ‘Malaysiakini’ chief editor Steven Gan, the action amounts to harassment of writers and booksellers.

Two publications by Malaysiakini, ‘1Funny Malaysia’ and ‘Where is Justice’, have virtually been banned because bookstores are afraid to sell them and people are afraid to buy because of official harassment, he said. Thus far, a dozen bookstores across this South-east Asian country have had their stocks of the two publications seized for "study and review."

"According to Home Ministry officials, the books were suspected to cause harm to public order, morality, public safety and international relations," Gan told IPS. "The books are not banned, but they want to seize the books for review purposes."

"They can get the books from us," he said. "There is no need to harass the bookstores."

This follows the banning by the publication division of the Home Ministry of books that include works written by human rights activists and Muslim feminist academics.

Even the use of particular phrases like the word Allah, the Arabic word for God, is banned in some publications, with officials arguing that these words are exclusive to Islam.

"These works (Malaysiakini publications) are about current issues and written to arouse critical thinking and encourage healthy debates," said political humourist Zunar, author of ‘1Funny Malaysia’, a collection of his best-known political cartoons that lambast the ruling power elites.

The title is a pun on the ‘1Malaysia campaign’ by Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is hoping to recoup political losses by convincing the public that the government is for all of them and not just for the ruling elite.

Full report at: http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=50428

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A "model" Islamic education from Turkey?

Simon Akam

Feb 23, 2010

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - In the Beyoglu Anadolu religious school in Istanbul, gilded Korans line the shelves and on a table lies a Turkish translation of "Eclipse," a vampire-based fantasy romance by U.S. novelist Stephanie Meyer.

No-one inside the school would have you believe this combination of Islamic and western influences demonstrates potential to serve as a 'moderate' educational antidote to radical Islam.

But there is fresh outside interest in schools like this, which belong to the network known as imam-hatip.

Some people, particularly officials from Afghanistan and Pakistan, have suggested the Turkish system can light the way to a less extremist religious education for their young Muslims.

The interest is understandable. The imam-hatip network is a far cry from the western stereotype of the madrassa as an institution that teaches the Koran by rote and little else.

Originally founded to educate Muslim religious functionaries in the 1920s, the imam-hatip syllabus devotes only around 40 percent of study to religious subjects like Arabic, Islamic jurisprudence and rhetoric. The rest is given over to secular topics.

The network has incubated the elite of the Islamist-rooted AK party which came to power in Turkey in 2002. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- who went on to study economics -- and around one third of his party's MPs attended imam-hatip schools.

For Turks, however, it's ironic that a system which for over a decade has been suppressed by the military enforcers of secularism could be seen to champion any institutional accommodation between the Islamic and the secular.

A revised system of university credits introduced in the late 1990s puts imam-hatip students seeking to study non-religious subjects at university at a disadvantage.

"It's very interesting that these schools that are so controversial in our own country have become role models elsewhere," said Iren Ozgur, a Turkish-American academic at New York University who has studied the imam-hatip system.

Full report at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61N00O20100224

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Pakistan: Official intransigence in the face of violence against Christians

By Martin Barillas

February 23, 2010

a Pakistan-based human rights organization organized a demonstration in Youhanabad, Lahore, in protest over the cases of mistreatment of Christians by Muslims. Rizwan Paul, Kashif Mazhar, Aamir Anwer and Mr. Nadeem from Protect Foundation Pakistan protested against the recent release of Mohmmad Naeem - the accused murderer in the renowned Shazia Bashir crime investigation. They also demanded punitive measures to be taken against the 300 lawyers who mobbed the original court hearing for this case that was subsequently adjourned.

Mohammed Naeem and his family were granted bail when Pakistani Christian organizations failed to present a lawyer from Shazia Bashir`s side. The Lahore High Court Bar Association had threatened that any lawyer who appears against Mohammad Naeem will have to face dire consequences. The lawyers’ fraternity is believed to be supporting Mohammad Naeem since he is a Muslim and is an influential person. Shazia was a 12-year-old servant girl working as a live-in domestic who was beaten to death by her Muslim employer.

The protesters also demanded that the Government commence an investigation into the case of Walyat Masih. The Masih family had to escape when several Muslim men attacked and then burned down the home. Now destitute, Masih and his family have been met with official indifference in the face of the attack.

So far, Pakistani police have not responded to their pleas for an investigation. Complaints have been filed on behalf of the family by Christian organizations to the governor of Punjab and to the high court . The Federal Minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Kamran Michael are now aware of the case, according to Xavier Michael – the regional director of Life for All. The accused arsonists remain at large. It is reported that Walyat Masih presented an application to authorities in Gujranwala for an investigation. However, to date, no police representative has entertained the application.

Xavier William and Rizwan Paul asked why the Pakistani Supreme Court remains silent in the matter. In a statement to Spero, William expressed surprise at what he termed the reticence on the part of Pakistani federal officials Shahbaz Bhatti and Kamran Michael in addressing the police inaction. Said William, “Personally, I am very surprised that both Kamran Michaeal and Shahbaz Bhatti are reticent to get involved with the case of Walayat Masih. They have both been to England and made grand overtures of how they are to be champions for our people ensuring that justice and equality are meted out equally to people of all faiths.”

Full report at: www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?idCategory=33&idsub=122&id=27857&t=Pakistan%3A+Official+intransigence+in+the+face+of+violence+against+Christians

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5 militants killed in Sopore gun battle

Captain, two jawans also killed in a fierce, 18-hour encounter

Shujaat Bukhari & PTI

An Armyman stands guard near the site of a gun battle at Sopore, some 55 km north of Srinagar, on Tuesday.

SRINAGAR: A captain, two soldiers and five militants were killed and three soldiers injured in a fierce 18-hour gun battle in Sopore on Tuesday.

Police sources told The Hindu that on a tip-off a column of Army’s 1 Para Regiment cordoned off the Chinkipora locality in Sopore.

As they launched a house-to-house search, the militants hiding there opened fire, triggering a gun battle.

The militants, the sources said, were hiding in three houses.

Captain Davinder Singh Jass got trapped in a house and was killed by militants. His body could not be retrieved till late in the evening.

An Army officer, who wished not to be named, said that a call made to his [captain’s] cellphone was answered by militants. Even as the Army offered the militants safe passage, they refused it and told them that the captain was dead.

Two soldiers Naik Selvakumar and Imtiaz Ahmad were also killed.

The militants suspected to have been killed included Bhasharat of Hizbul Mujahideen and Noman and Hamza of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Sallahuddin of Lashkar-e-Taiba and a local militant Tauseef Mir, the sources said.

http://www.hindu.com/2010/02/24/stories/2010022463701600.htm

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Kashmir villagers in shock after infant’s death

Shujaat Bukhari

RAWOOSA (RAFIABAD): This remote village in North Kashmir is in complete shock after the tragic death of an 11-day-old infant who got caught in a clash with stone-pelting youths near Baramulla town on Monday. People are demanding stern action against those responsible for the incident.

The family of Baby Irfan is struggling to cope with the situation. His four-year-old brother, Obaid, is injured and is in pain. “How can I explain this tragedy,” asked Ghulam Rasool Teli, Irfan’s grandfather, who was accompanying his daughter, Kulsoom, to Baramulla for treating the infant at the district hospital.

He told The Hindu that they were on the road when their vehicle was stopped by a group of young men throwing stones. “They dragged the passengers out … and in the melee a man fell on my daughter’s lap and the child collapsed. Blood was oozing from his mouth and nose. We took him to hospital, but he was declared dead on arrival,” said Mr. Teli with tears in his eyes. Kulsoom, he said, was not in her senses, as “she will live with this trauma her whole life.”

Scores of people have been thronging the Teli home to express their solidarity. Ghulam Rasool was surrounded by more than 25 people who were trying to console the family, particularly Irfan’s father. In one voice, they condemned the act and demanded stern action against the culprits. “No civilised society can approve of registering any kind of grievance through this method,” said a young man, Manzoor Ahmad. While blaming the government for failing to ensure the safety of people, they appealed to the separatist leadership to put a break on this kind of anarchy.

Full report at: http://www.hindu.com/2010/02/24/stories/2010022463631600.htm

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Water Pakistan's diversionary tactic?

Feb 23, 2010,

NEW DELHI: Pakistan's zeal to insert the "water issue" in the bilateral talks is being seen here as an attempt to divert popular attention back home from the mismanagement of its water resources and the growing discontent in Sindh and Balochistan over the denial of their share of Indus waters.

Analysts here have been struck by the way Pakistan's political class and the jehadi establishment have teamed up to unleash a propaganda offensive against India's "machinations" to rob the neighbouring country of its legitimate share of Indus waters.

With leading jehadis Hafiz Saeed and his deputy Abdur Rahman Makki of Lashkar warning of serious repercussions, holding out the grim warning of "Muslims dying of thirst would drink blood of India", the official establishment has scarcely been subtle in upping the ante on the emotionally fraught issue where agriculture remains the mainstay of economy. A full spectrum of devices -- from statements from the PM downwards to official briefings and remarks of official spokespersons endorsing fears of theft of Pakistan's water by India -- have been used to elevate water to the level of "core issue" -- a description so far reserved for the dispute ove J&K.

The government-jehadi concert has raised suspicions here whether Pakistan is raising a bogey to thwart the construction of storage dams on western rivers at Bursar (J&K) and Gyspa (HP) by India in keeping with its entitlement under Indus Water Treaty. It is also suspected that the larger gameplan could be to seek arbitration outside the Permanent Indus Water Commission the two countries have.

The grievance narrative, however, suffers from serious infirmities. Analysts point out that Indus Water Treaty of 1960 -- an agreement which has so far endured despite conflicts -- allocated the three eastern rivers (Sutlej, Beas and Ravi) of Indus system to India, whereas the western rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab) were assigned to Pakistan. Importantly, western rivers are far more bountiful than eastern rivers -- mean flow of 136 million acre feet (MAF) against a mere 33 MAF in that order.

Full report at: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Water-Pakistans-diversionary-tactic-/articleshow/5609099.cms

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FBI chief in Delhi, assures support in fighting terror

February 24, 2010

Two days ahead of Indo-Pak talks in which terrorism tops New Delhi’s agenda, FBI director Robert Muller met Indian officials on Tuesday.

In his meetings with National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and other senior officials, Muller discussed counter-terrorism cooperation and assured his country’s willingness to share information about David Headley case, said an official on condition of anonymity.

Headley, a Pakistan-born American terror suspect, has been charged by the agency with conspiracy in the 26/11 attacks. He is being tried in a Chicago court.

Though New Delhi has been seeking specific information about Headley’s visits to Indian cities, the US has been selective as some of the details are part of the evidence submitted against Headley. India has been pushing for Pakistan to do more to unravel the complete conspiracy of Mumbai attacks.

“Today’s meetings between FBI director Robert Mueller and Indian government officials are further evidence of the robust and active counter-terror cooperation between the US and India,” Timothy J. Roemer, US ambassador to India, said in a statement.

“Terrorism respects no boundaries, and the recent attack in Pune — where 15 innocent people from around the globe lost their lives — was a stark reminder that terrorists kill without regard for nationality.”

There was need to cooperate globally to protect citizens, he said.

To understand the enormity of securing India’s vast railway system, a team of US rail officials traveled to New Delhi and Mumbai.

Under the state department-sponsored exchange programme, a team of Indian officials then visited New York City and Washington, DC.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india/FBI-chief-in-Delhi-assures-support-in-fighting-terror/Article1-512214.aspx

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Afghan admits NYC bomb plot, al-Qaida training

NORTH AMERICA

February 23, 2010

NEW YORK - An Afghan immigrant pleaded guilty on Monday to planning a suicide bomb attack on New York City subways with al-Qaida training for what would have been the worst attack on the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.

Najibullah Zazi, 25, also admitted in Brooklyn federal court that he had received bomb-making and weapons training from al-Qaida in Pakistan's Waziristan region, which borders Afghanistan.

"The plan was to conduct (a) martyrdom operation in Manhattan" around the time of the eighth anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, Zazi told U.S. District Raymond Dearie.

The guilty pleas -- termed an agreement between prosecutors and the defence -- suggest Zazi was willing to cooperate with investigators, but lawyers in the case declined to comment.

He faces life in prison.

CHENEY HOSPITALIZED WITH CHEST PAINS

WASHINGTON - Former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney, who has a long history of heart problems, was hospitalized Monday after experiencing chest pains, his office said.

The 69-year-old controversial Republican figure, who has been on the offensive against President Barack Obama's administration for months, was "resting comfortably" at George Washington University Hospital and his doctors were evaluating the situation, his office said in a statement.

Hospital doctors told NBC News that the former vice-president was stable and may receive additional treatment today.

OBAMA OFFERS PLAN TO REVIVE HEALTH CARE PUSH

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama made a last-ditch bid to revive his stalled U.S. health care overhaul on Monday with a plan to make insurance more affordable and to bolster government authority to regulate premium hikes.

Full report at: /www.windsorstar.com/news/Afghan+admits+bomb+plot+Qaida+training/2599843/story.html

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Iran arrests Jundallah chief Regi from flight

February 24, 2010

TEHRAN: Iran arrested a top Sunni militant on a flight from Dubai only 24 hours after it claimed he was at a US military base in Afghanistan, in what it hailed on Tuesday as a “defeat” for its Western arch-foes.

The claim came from Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi, who said Abdolmalek Regi had even been issued an Afghan passport by the “Americans,” travelled to Europe and met with a Nato military chief in Afghanistan.

State television aired footage of a handcuffed Regi, dressed in a white shirt and Khaki trousers, as masked agents led him off an aircraft at an airstrip at an unknown location in Iran.

It was not immediately clear how the Iranian authorities were able to remove the leader of the shadowy rebel group Jundallah from the flight, which was said to be between Dubai and Kyrgyzstan.

Regi, Iran’s most wantedfugitive accused of launching deadly attacks from Pakistan, had been tracked by Iranian agents for five months before his arrest, said Moslehi. The capture was “a great defeat for the US and the UK,” the minister said at a media conference reported by Iranian state media, accusing the United States and Britain of involvement in “continuous plots” in the region.

“He was arrested on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan,” Moslehi said, adding “It is such a scandal for Dubai in this incident, which shows that the Zionist regime (Israel), by using (the) US and Europe, is seeking to turn the region into a haven for terrorists.

“This scandal cannot be covered up,” said Moslehi, who held up pictures of Rigi he said were taken “inside a US military base in Afghanistan by Iranian agents”, and of his identity card. In Washington, a US official said Moslehi’s claim that Rigi was at an American base in Afghanistan before his arrest was a “totally bogus accusation.”

Full report at: http://thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=27465

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Man vows to renounce terrorism as trial ends

DUSSELDORF (Feb 24, 2010):  A German man who admits training in terrorism and buying nearly a tonne of explosives to attack his homeland declared in a speech from the dock on Tuesday that he would never rejoin a group affiliated to Al Qaeda.

Fritz Gelowicz, 30, said as his trial in Dusseldorf concluded that he was "shocked and surprised" at the arrest three days earlier of his wife, 28, for raising funds for the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU). The court is now recessed and set to hand down a verdict on March 4.

"I want to say I will not participate in terrorist activities in future in any way whatever, and will not be rejoining any terrorist organisation," Gelowicz told the court. "That's my firm decision."

Germany has never suffered a successful attack by homegrown Islamist terrorists, but the trial heard evidence of how this nearly happened in 2007.

A defence lawyer, Dirk Uden, said Gelowicz had repeatedly urged his wife during her visits to him in prison to stay away from Islamist forums on the internet. Gelowicz and three other alleged plotters were arrested in 2007, just months after he married.

Police picked up his wife, who is a German national of Turkish extraction, on Saturday in the southern German city of Ulm. She and Gelowicz, who converted to Islam, married in early 2007.

She is accused of remitting thousands of euros to the IJU, a group based in the lawless Pakistan region of Waziristan.     Two other accused, Daniel Schneider, 24, and Atilla Selek, 24, also asked for mercy in their speeches from the dock, saying they had done wrong. A fourth accused, Adem Yilmaz, 31, remained silent.

They have together provided 1,200 pages of evidence about buying 700 kilograms of chemicals to make bombs and about the workings of the IJU. They hope to receive jail terms reduced to about a decade each. The maximum term would otherwise be 15 years. - dpa

http://www.thesundaily.com/article.cfm?id=43726

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Unbiased and interesting event about the potential Democracy in the Muslim World

by Jonathan Gelbart

23 February 2010

Last night, the Muslim Student Awareness Network ran a refreshingly unbiased and interesting event about the potential for democracy in the Muslim world. Professor Larry Diamond of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law moderated a panel consisting of his colleague Professor Abbas Milani, Scott Carpenter of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and former CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

From left: Diamond, Gerecht, Milani, Carpenter

Professor Diamond laid out the key questions of the night in his introductory remarks:

   1. What does democracy mean to the Muslim world?

   2. Why has democracy not taken root in the Muslim world?

   3. How can democracy be strengthened in those Muslim countries that are already democracies?

Mr. Carpenter attempted to answer these questions first. He began by wasting five minutes complaining about the use of the term “Muslim world,” saying that the term is meaningless due to the immense differences within that region. Who cares? He then stated, “Personally, I reject the notion that Islam as a religion is incompatible with democracy,” and pointed to Indonesia, Mali, and Turkey as examples of Muslim-majority countries who are considered “free” by Freedom House. (Slight problem: Turkey is not considered “free,” but “partly free.”) The one interesting and unique thing Mr. Carpenter said in his remarks was his statement that the Obama administration has adopted what a “zero friction” model with regard to democracy in the Muslim world. “They don’t want to talk about these issues,” he explained, “because it irritates the governments, and they need these governments for other things.” Carpenter concluded by arguing that the US can be a force for democracy in the region, but it is ultimately up to the countries themselves to implement it. For example, “The US played a very important role in Indonesia after the fall of the Socarno [sic] government.” *Forehead slap*

Full report at: http://blog.stanfordreview.org/2010/02/23/democracy-in-the-muslim-world/

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Muslims' approach of underscoring the era of ancient Islamic glory needs to be reviewed

2010-02-24

Meanwhile, in a Keynote Address at the Seminar on Islam and Global Peace and Prosperity, Professor Dato Doctor Ismail bin Ibrahim said Muslims' approach of entirely underscoring the era of ancient Islamic glory needs to be reviewed and renewed. This is in taking into account and benefiting from the realities of present Islamic ummah and their history as the people who had gone through the ups and downs of life according to the development of the era and change of time.

Professor Dato Doctor Ismail in his working paper entitled, "Global Peace and Prosperity; Understanding between the Islamic and Western World," clarified on re-thinking of the approach by the Islamic ummah towards any issue, that requires changes in speech and focus from discussing Islamic history to talking about the history of the Islamic community. Although both may come to the same conclusion, the emphasis and the main discussion on the history of the Muslim ummah would focus more on reality and that the conclusion would take a more practical and more down-to-earth form. According to the Professor, in nurturing the ummah, several important issues should be overcome, including the educational objective, that should be planned in order to produce a knowledgeable generation who understands the concept of Islam as Ad-din, that is, a perfect way of life.

http://www.rtbnews.rtb.gov.bn/?c=newsDetail&news_id=5978

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Germany arrests "wife" of alleged terror cell chief

Feb 22, 2010

 Karlsruhe, Germany - German police have arrested the reported wife of Fritz Gelowicz, the self-confessed chief of an Islamist terrorist cell, accusing her of fund-raising for her husband's al-Qaeda associates.

Gelowicz, 30, a German convert to Islam, is currently on trial for plotting car-bomb attacks inside Germany. Police arrested his alleged three-man cell in 2007 before it could begin assembling its bombs.

Police said only that they had picked up a woman, 28, on Saturday in the southern city of Ulm and two men on charges of being supporters of the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) terrorist organization.

But German television channels said the woman was Gelowicz' wife. Asked for comment, prosecution officials would neither confirm nor deny the connection, saying privacy law prevented them doing so.

Lawyers have portrayed Gelowicz as a turncoat to the IJU, saying he has given German police a detailed account of IJU operations.

That makes the allegation that his wife is still connected to the IJU all the more surprising. The IJU has training camps in Waziristan, a mountainous region of northwest Pakistan.

The woman and a man, 20, have been remanded in custody while the third person arrested, a man, 31, was granted bail. Federal prosecutors in Karlsruhe said they were likely to face charges of assisting a foreign terrorist organization.

All three are German nationals of foreign extraction.

The 20-year-old man and the woman from Ulm had allegedly collected 2,400 euros (3,620 dollars) since October and sent it to the IJU via an intermediary in Turkey. The Berlin man made a remittance of 1,400 euros.

A prosecution spokesman said police pulled the Berlin man off a Vienna-bound train a week ago to prevent him leaving German territory after his passport had been confiscated.

German authorities suspected he wanted to go to Afghanistan to train in terrorism, the news magazine Der Spiegel said.

The ex-IJU men on trial in Dusseldorf say the group is not controlled by al-Qaeda but is on friendly terms with it.

Read more: http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/europe/news/article_1535677.php/Germany-arrests-wife-of-alleged-terror-cell-chief-Roundup#ixzz0gSOKIkNo

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/europe/news/article_1535677.php/Germany-arrests-wife-of-alleged-terror-cell-chief-Roundup

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More Than a Hero

24 Feb, 2010

Posted by Robert Spencer on Feb 24th, 2010 and filed under FrontPage. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of ten books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran, is available now from Regnery Publishing, and he is coauthor (with Pamela Geller) of the forthcoming book The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America (Simon and Schuster).

I said it at the Geert Wilders event at CPAC 2009, and it is still an accurate observation: we live in such a cheap and tawdry age that all one needs to do to be a hero is tell the truth — and yet there are so few heroes.

That is indeed the case, and it means that Chris Gaubatz is something much greater than a hero. In our day when cowardice positively defines our political and media elites, Chris Gaubatz put his life on the line for the defense of free people and free societies against the global jihad and Islamic supremacism. As detailed in the breathtaking book Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld that’s Conspiring to Islamize America, Chris assumed the identity of a convert to Islam. Posing as a new convert to Islam named David “Dawud” Marshall, he secured a position as an intern in the Washington, DC, office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Hamas-linked pressure group that uses legal intimidation and a marionette mainstream media to dominate the discourse about Islam in the U.S., manipulate clueless government and law enforcement officials, obfuscate the role of Islamic doctrine in recruiting and motivating jihad terrorists, and resist anti-terror efforts.

Chris was in extreme danger. If he had been caught, there is no telling what might have happened — and as the book detailed, he had some extremely close calls, such as when CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper, “Honest Ibe” himself, told him to watch out for…Chris Gaubatz!

Full report at: http://frontpagemag.com/2010/02/24/more-than-a-hero/

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Iran: End Persecution of Baha’is

Bikya Masr Staff

24 February 2010 in Iran, News

The Iranian government should immediately stop harassing and arbitrarily detaining members of the Baha’i community, Human Rights Watch said today.

The detention of 13 Baha’is on February 10 and 11 follows the arrest of 13 others in early January. The government alleges that those arrested in January helped to organize recent anti-government demonstrations but has not made public any charges against those detained in February. These arrests come during a broad government crackdown on opposition activists.

“The Iranian government seems to be using the post-election unrest as a cover for targeting the Baha’i community,” said Joe Stork, deputy HRW Middle East and North Africa director. “These arrests are only the latest chapter in the government’s systematic persecution of the Baha’i.”

Unlike Iran’s Jewish, Christian, and Zoroastrian communities, which are accorded constitutional protection, the Iranian government does not recognize the Baha’i Faith and considers its adherents to be apostates from Shi’a Islam. Since the Islamic revolution in 1979, the Iranian government has put in effect various discriminatory policies against the Baha’is, including limiting access to education and employment.

Since October 2009, authorities have detained at least 47 Baha’is in Tehran, Mashhad, Sari, Semnan, and Yazd, according to the United Nations office of the Baha’i International Community (BIC) in Geneva. In May 2008, the government arrested seven leaders of the Baha’i community in Tehran, who have been held in detention since then. Their trial began on January 12, but has been postponed to April 10.

Full report at: http://bikyamasr.com/?p=8981

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Swiss Tourism website goes Arabic

By K.S. RAMKUMAR |

Feb 24, 2010

JEDDAH: Switzerland Tourism on Tuesday launched an Arabic version of its website for the benefit of the large number of people from the Middle East who wish to visit the country.

"This has been done to meet the requirement of our growing number of tourists from the Middle East and Arab world," Jorg P. Krebs, Switzerland Tourism's director markets for Gulf, India, Russia, Nordic countries, the Czech Republic and Poland, told a press conference at the Jeddah Hilton.

The country has been receiving a great number of inquiries about education and health care facilities, aside of course from tourism. "It is against this background that Swiss Tourism now provides all information in Arabic," Krebs said, adding that the website already provides information in 30 other world languages.

Krebs added that the country's "comprehensive, elaborate and excellent" facilities for education and health care in particular have been attracting a large number of Saudis and expatriates from the Kingdom. Demand for Switzerland's language schools, high schools and universities is growing from this part of the world. Also, the GCC visitors favor our destinations because of the country's solid tourism infrastructure and facilities that suit the Muslim world, he said. "We have tailor-made facilities for Ramadan with chalets, holiday apartments and starred hotels," he said, adding that the country today boasts 45,000 holiday apartments and 3,500 starred hotels for tourists.

Krebs said the Swiss tourism industry was impacted by the world economic crisis, "but our loss has been only four percent, as travelers from the world over continue to visit us." The country with its population of 7.6 million attracted 18 million visitors last year. The tourism industry is its third biggest foreign exchange earner, accounting for six to eight percent of the GDP, he said. Some 103,000 Saudi and other Arab visitors toured Switzerland in 2009.

"We issued 3,500 visas from the Swiss Consulate General of Jeddah alone last year," Swiss Consul General Hans Stalder said. The country recently became a member of the Schengen group and like all of its member countries it takes at least eight working days to issue a visa. Schengen is an association of states in Europe that in theory adhere to the ideals of the Schengen Convention, notably the abolition of passport controls at common internal borders and the strengthening of external borders. The convention, which first came into effect in March 1995, was signed by Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands in 1985. Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Norway and some other countries became subsequent members.

Full report at: http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article21547.ece

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Five Taliban killed while planting bombs in Kurram

PARACHINAR: Five Taliban were killed and four others were injured on Tuesday when the explosives that they were planting around their hideout detonated accidentally in Ali Sherzai Dar village, Kurram Agency, officials said. According to eyewitnesses, the Taliban wanted to blow up the house –vacated by local anti-Taliban leader Ghazi Marjan – due to the security forces’ operation in the area when the explosive material accidentally went-off, killing five of them and injuring four others. Two of the injured reported to be in critical condition. However, AFP put the death toll at four and reported six Taliban wounded in the explosion. The Taliban had been using the deserted house as a dumping ground for people kidnapped for ransom. afp/ app

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\02\24\story_24-2-2010_pg7_9

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Number of ‘working poor’ rising in Pakistan: ILO

By Mansoor Ahmad

February 24, 2010

LAHORE: The number of ‘working poor’ in Pakistan is on the rise as the steep increase in prices during past two years has thrown even those families into poverty that enjoy the luxury of getting minimum wage fixed by the state.

Working poor are those that have got a job or are self-employed but do not earn enough to fulfil the minimum basic needs of their families.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) in its latest report estimates suggests that in 2009 alone the share of workers in extreme poverty has increased worldwide by seven per cent.

It states that largest potential impact in this regard was in South Asia and some other regions where extreme poverty might have increased by nine per cent or more in worst-case scenario.

The ILO study is in line with the reality in Pakistan where the daily wage workers have seen access to work reduced to almost 10-15 days a month from the level of 25 days in 2007.

Even the minimum wage that been increased to Rs6000 per month is not enough to fulfil basic needs of an average family size of 6.5 persons.

It pertinent to note that there is mostly one bread earner in a family where 50 per cent of the working age men are in active employment while only 14 per cent of the women are employed.

Wheat is the staple food of the country. The average price of wheat flour is Rs28 per kg. One person needs 10 kg of wheat per month though the intake is much higher for the poor. A family of 6.5 would need 65 kg of wheat a month, which at average rate of Rs28 per kg would cost Rs1300 per month.

The minimum edible oil rate is Rs124 per kg. An average family requires at least three kilogram of edible oil or ghee per month. This would add another Rs372 in the expenses.

The vegetables that are daily used in the making curry are onions, ginger, garlic and tomato. These vegetables would cost Rs30 per day or Rs900 per month.

Utilities that include electricity water and gas/LPG or any other kitchen fuel would cost minimum Rs1,100 for a family of 6.5 persons.

Full report at: http://thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=225771

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Petraeus warns 'disjointed' Taliban of long campaign

WFebruary 22, 2010

Top US general David Petraeus described on Sunday the Taliban resistance to a major offensive in southern Afghanistan as "a bit disjointed" and warned the insurgents that this was just the start.

The first main offensive since President Barack Obama escalated the conflict in December entered its second week with gunfights and land mines bogging down attempts to secure the Nad Ali and Marjah areas of Helmand province.

But Petraeus said that, while "formidable," the Taliban resistance had so far been "a bit disjointed," as he framed the offensive as only the initial burst of Obama's revised strategy for combating the Afghan insurgents.

"The way the operation was conducted leaped over some of them (the Taliban). But there is tough fighting going on without question," Petraeus, the head of US Central Command, told NBC television's "Meet the Press" program.

He said Obama and General Stanley McChrystal, who leads the 121,000 US and NATO forces fighting the militants, had laid out a comprehensive strategy that was only beginning to get into gear.

"This is just the initial operation of what will be a 12 to 18-month campaign as General McChrystal and his team mapped it out," Petraeus said.

"We spent the last year getting the inputs right in Afghanistan, getting the structure and organizations necessary for a comprehensive civil military campaign, putting the best leaders we can find in charge of those."

Full report at: www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/americas/Petraeus-warns-disjointed-Taliban-of-long-campaign/Article1-511479.aspx

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Taliban Suspect Claims Harassment

By Do Je-hae

24 Feb, 2010

A Pakistani national suspected of being linked to the Taliban Islamic militant group filed a harassment claim with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) while he was being watched by the intelligence authorities last year.

An acting Imam of the Daegu Islamic Center, the 36-year-old, arrested for using a fake passport and working for the terrorist organization, submitted a petition to the NHRC on Dec. 7, claiming that "his privacy was being invaded by the authorities who were following his activities based on their suspicion that he was a terrorist," according to an NHRC official.

The petition reportedly contains detailed examples of how he was being harassed by agents of the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

The NHRC will look into whether the authorities were following proper procedures while they were investigating him.

The NHRC sent an official document to the NIS inquiring after specific legal basis for the investigation.

"When we hear from the NIS, we will meet with the petitioner and closely examine the case to find out if there were actual incidences of human rights violations."

The police and the NIS had been investigating the suspect for a year over terrorist-related activities, such as reporting U.S. intelligence information back to the Taliban and urging followers of the Daegu Islamic center to praise Jihad.

The suspect was arrested last Thursday at his home in Daegu on charges of using a forged passport to enter the country and being linked to the terrorist group, and is currently being detained for questioning. He has denied all charges against him.

The man, whose name has been withheld for legal reasons, first entered Korea in 2001.

There are currently 100,000 foreign Muslims in Korea hailing from countries such as Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and upwards of 30,000 Korean followers of Islam.

This is the first time that a potential terrorist suspect has been arrested in Korea. Previous encounters with Taliban suspects have only been through drug trafficking groups linked with the terrorist organization.

jhdo@koreatimes.co.kr

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2010/02/117_61372.html

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Storm in Iraqi Desert: Stable and Brutal

Pravda.Ru

24.02.2010

Iraq is preparing for parliamentary elections planned March 7, 2010. The voting should become a convincing sign of the normalized situation in the country for both the existing government and the US administration. Yet, pre-election news reminds military reports.

After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, the Iraqi Parliamentary elections were held in January 2005. The country was struck by violence. Although the situation has improved since then, it is getting aggravated once again. For example, recently in the city of Karbala, there were several explosions during the annual pilgrimage to the burial place of Shiite Islam’s most revered martyr. As a result, 77 pilgrims were killed and over 300 injured.

The situation is alarming in Basra, the largest city in the South of the country. The local provincial council had to ban gathering alms for the duration of the election campaign because extremists disguised as beggars could attack candidates and their agents. The officials were not afraid of mass riots of multiple beggars.

Not all candidates were registered. The “black list” includes 500 people. Although the list is represented by both Sunni and Shiite communities, Sunnis decided that blacklisting was targeted at them. They began burning or ruining portraits of Shiite candidates, and Shiites reciprocate.

There are talks in the country about the danger of new interfaith opposition. Al Qaeda decided to side with Sunni. The leader of its Iraqi wing Abu Omar al-Baghdadi threatened to disrupt the election. It is not hard to imagine which way it will be done.

Iraq is a multinational country. Shiite Arabs residing mostly in the center and in the south account for 55 percent of the population. Sunni Arabs residing in the center and in the west account for less than 20 percent. Kurds who live in the north represent over 20 percent. The rest of the country population is Iraqi Turkmen (mostly Sunni) and various types of Christians.

The relations between these communities were always complicated. Under Saddam, the power was in the hands of Sunnis, who brutally oppressed Shiites and Kurds. The Americans who invaded the country placed their bets on those oppressed by Hussein. However, it resulted in a horrible wave of interfaith and interethnic violence and endless political conflicts between the representatives of different forces.

http://english.pravda.ru/world/asia/24-02-2010/112344-iraq-0

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Palestinian group threatens attacks over heritage sites

Roni Sofer and Efrat Weiss

24 Feb, 2010

After Abbas and Haniyeh's warnings, Islamic Jihad threatens to resume attacks in heart of Israel in response to cabinet's decision to include Cave of Patriarchs, Rachel's Tomb in list of national heritage sites. 'The rules of the game are expected to change,' al-Quds Brigades spokesman tells Ynet

The decision to declare the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb national heritage sites ahead of their renovation may lead the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to another boiling point: Abu Ahmed, a spokesman for the Islamic Jihad's military wing, threatened Tuesday to launch attacks within Israel.

"If the Israelis continue to damage our mosques and holy places, we will respond within the Zionist territory," the al-Quds Brigades spokesman told Ynet. Israel's ministers, however, insist that the government will not renege on its decision.

Religious War

PM's Office: Abbas' war threats hypocritical  / Roni Sofer

Cabinet's decision to include Rachel's Tomb, Cave of Patriarchs in list of national heritage sites sparks international law. Head of Netanyahu's National Information Directorate says in response, 'These are the burial sites of the Jewish people's forefathers'

Abu Ahmed admitted that the reinforced security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was preventing the Palestinian groups from operating inside Israel, but estimated that "in the coming months, or to be more exact – in the next six months, the rules of the games are expected to change and the attacks will not only be against the settlers in the West Bank, but also within the entity, as we are aware of the fact that the soft underbelly and the biggest pain are when the attacks take place deep inside the enemy's territory.

"As far as we are concerned, the annexation of the mosques to the heritage sites is another move of aggression and a move aimed at completing the Judaization of the holy sites – and all the organizations are required to respond."

e estimated that the attacks would be resumed in Israel and the West Bank in the near future, "as the Palestinians understand today that the diplomatic negotiations have led to nothing. Those were unnecessary negotiations which caused great damage to the Palestinians."

Full report at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3853720,00.html

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The unspoken implications of firmer syaria laws

Zeffri M. Yusof

FEB 23 2010

The plan to hold an international gathering of experts to discuss the caning of women under syaria law that was recently announced by Women, Family and Community Development Minister Senator Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil drives home the point that syaria law — which has been in existence as a parallel legal system in Malaysia since the 1970s — is headed towards becoming even more firmly implemented in our country.

Based on our mainstream news reports alone, observers can see how syaria policing and enforcement have become more pronounced, particularly in states like Selangor, Pahang, Kedah, Negeri Sembilan and Melaka.

While this development is of interest among Muslims and non-Muslim Malaysians alike, it is particularly more so among those who are professed Muslims and those who for all intents and purposes, are only categorised as being part of the Malay-Muslim persuasion.

Given that syaria law here only applies to Muslims, therein lies the discourse.

Now as a whole, syaria law encompasses various aspects of life as a Muslim or a non-Muslim living under Muslim rule (such is not the case in Malaysia).

Syaria law covers, among other things, marriage and family, inheritance and welfare, as well as aspects that are more commonly covered by criminal law (again, such is not the case in Malaysia).

However, the focal interest lies in aspects of the syaria (as implemented in Malaysian states) that are especially concerned with people’s observance of the religious tenets — including their religious conscience, if you will — and this is where some tough decisions need to be made should we as a country decide to press ahead with a firmer implementation of syaria law nationwide.

I am of course referring to the commonly exhibited behaviour among some professing Muslims and those ‘Muslims-in-name-only’ which include: alcohol imbibing, gambling, carnal knowledge out of wedlock, immodest attire, suggestive entertainment, social mixing, etc.

I bring this up because when distilled to its core, syaria law is about policing behaviour, not Belief. Arguably the latter is nigh impossible to police because Belief is not a matter of simply deciding to believe in something; it also has to be continuously reinforced and reiterated in the mind of the believer.

Full report at: themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/opinion/breaking-views/54155-the-unspoken-implication-of-firmer-syaria-laws-zeffri-m-yusof

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Sheikh-ul-Islam appeals on Khojali Tragedy

Azerbaijan, Baku

Feb. 23 2010

Caucasus Muslims Religious Leader Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh has made an appeal in connection with the Khojali Tragedy.

"Double standards are inadmissible in mankind's bloody memory. It is already 18 years that we are voicing about Khojali Tragedy to the mankind. Sinners of this tragedy are upbraided by the world authorities. Armenian troops committed genocide in Khojali on Feb. 26, 1992. The tragedy began early morning and over 613 unarmed Azerbaijani citizens were killed. They included 106 women and 83 children. About 1,000 people were left disabled by shots and eight families were fully destroyed. More than 25 children lost their parents, more than 1,200 people were taken prisoners and around 150 people went missing.  World Community can not be indifferent to all of these wild actions," he said in a statement.

Sheikh ul-Islam appealed to the world presidents, parliaments, nations and international organizations, calling them to give legal estimation to Armenian extremists' actions, not to be indifferent to our nation's tragedy and to recognize this tragedy as a massacre.

http://en.trend.az/news/karabakh/1643939.html

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“Iranian Cookbook” whets Berlinale’s appetite

February 24, 2010

TEHRAN -- “Iranian Cookbook” by filmmaker Mohammad Shirvani was warmly received at the Berlinale’s Culinary Cinema section this year.

The Berlinale’s Culinary Cinema section unveiled 11 films revolving around the relationship between food and love, nature and the environment. The event ran from February 14 to 19.

Culinary Cinema includes dinner with culinary delights by star chefs.

The doc was screened on February 16 and afterwards, audiences were taken to a royal restaurant where a discussion was held while serving food, Shirvani told the Persian service of MNA.

Shrivani continued, “The German chef who prepared the food for the night talked about Iranian cuisine and said that he did his best to prepare the food based on Iranian taste with information he collected from internet sites, and honestly, he did a good job.

“After dinner was served, a question and answer section was held with the participation of film critic Anke Leweke. Part of the discussion centered on the relationship between food and love and that Iranian women spend long hours in the kitchen preparing meals, helping to reunite family members,” he added.

“Differences between Iranian and Western women in cooking and that Iranian women have preserved old cooking traditions were also discussed. Besides that, pointing to the fact that the world is moving toward modernism, people are becoming lonelier and eat their sandwiches in their loneliness,” he explained.

“The session was followed by discussion of fast food and that foods produced by McDonald’s chain restaurants might give instant pleasure to the customers, but are still the product of a machine rather than a human being.

“I must admit that ‘Iranian Cookbook’ is an appreciation of Iranian women. I did not intend to make a feministic movie but I think it was necessary to concentrate on cooking and its related issues at least once. The kitchen is place where my mother spent over 30 years and I never really noticed its details.

Full report at: http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=214864

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Pak Hindus to miss Holi celebrations

24 Feb, 2010

The few Pakistani Hindus, who have made the federal capital their home, will miss splashing colours at each other as they brace up for a quiet Holi.

Many of the Hindus, most of whom are businessmen from Sindh province, have taken on Muslim names and lead rather discreet lives here. “We have two Eids, too. One is Diwali, the other is Holi. We celebrate both the festivals in Karachi,” Kumar, who runs the popular Maharani Handicraft shop in Super Market, told PTI. It is not that Kumar or any of his brethren are harassed by the majority Muslim community, yet they like to lie low.

“No one has ever threatened us. But we don’t let people know that we are not Muslims,” said Kumar, who greeted this reporter in his shop with ‘As-salam-alaikum’.

“The Holi colours are available at Aabpara. If somebody wants, they can play at home or they can go to a temple in Rawalpindi where they play Holi each year”.

The best handicraft shops in Super and Jinnah Super — Islamabad’s two most popular markets — are owned by Kumar’s relatives or fellow Sindhis from Karachi. Girish, owner of another famous handicraft shop in Super market, has two names — one, a Muslim name which he gives out to customers and the other, his real name which he reveals to those whom he can trust.Girish broke the rules last Holi by organising a get- together for his friends in Super. They splashed ‘gulal’ outside his shop, but this year no celebrations have been planned.

Unfortunately, the other ‘Eid’ that Kumar spoke about — Diwali — too is not celebrated in Islamabad. “We usually go home (to Sindh) for Diwali. But for the past couple of years, we haven’t been able to do that because Ramzan and Diwali come around at the same time. That is peak business time for us and we cannot shut shop,” Kumar said.

Crackers are not sold in Islamabad for security reasons, and in a one-off incident, Kumar’s friend who burst a cracker in a market a year ago was arrested.

Full report at: www.dailypioneer.com/238126/Pak-Hindus-to-miss-Holi-celebrations.html

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Indonesian landslide kills five, bury 60

A rain-triggered landslide on Tuesday at a tea plantation on Indonesia’s main island of Java killed at least five workers and buried at least 60 others, police said. No heavy earth-moving equipment was available in the area, so villagers were digging through tons of dislodged mud with farm tools and their bare hands in a search for survivors, police Chief Lt Col Imron Yunus said.

The landslide occurred at a tea plantation near the mountainous village of Tenjoljaya in the Ciwidey district after days of heavy rain, he said. Yunus said more than 60 people remained under the mud and debris, which covered at least 50 houses near the Perkebunan Teh Dewata tea plantation. Yunus said five bodies had been pulled from the mud.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/238117/Indonesian-landslide-kills-five-bury-60.html

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Shia family of 8 killed in Baghdad

23 February 2010

Baghdad, Feb. 23: Eight members of one Shia family were killed south of Baghdad on Monday in the worst incident of a bloody day across Iraq that left at least 23 dead. The spate of attacks — and the fact that some of the family were beheaded — raised fears that insurgents are trying to re-ignite sectarian warfare at a time when the country is preparing for critical March elections.

The March 7 election will determine who will oversee the country as the US forces go home, and whether Iraq will be able to overcome the deep sectarian divides that almost destroyed it during the height of the fighting in past years.

A “terrorist group” using guns fixed with silencers shot and beheaded eight members of a single family in the village of Wahda, a mixed Shia-Sunni village 30 km south of the capital, the Baghdad security command said in a statement.

Authorities provided no further details about how many were shot, how many beheaded and provided little other information about what they described as an “ugly crime.” But beheadings have been performed before by extremist Sunni insurgents. The AP video of the attack showed a blood-soaked mattress and carpet, and stuffed animals strewn across the floor.     —AP

http://www.asianage.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3610:shia-family-of-8-killed-in-baghdad&catid=36:international&Itemid=61

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Bangladesh court to hear case against mutiny suspects

Feb 24, 2010

Nearly a year after the bloody BDR mutiny, 86 out of the 700 paramilitary troopers who allegedly took part in the massacre of 57 Bangladeshi Army officers were put to trial by a special court on Tuesday.

The trial began at the Darbar Hall of the Pilkhana headquarters of the Bangladesh Rifles, where the 33-hour mayhem took place on February 25-26 last year. “The trial of 86 alleged (ordinary) mutineers of Dhaka sector (of BDR) began on Monday at the fifth Special BDR Court under the Bangladesh Rifles Act,” a BDR spokesman told PTI.

This is the first in a series of mutiny trials to be held in the capital under the relatively lenient BDR Act which prescribed the highest seven years of imprisonment for defiance of order and discipline, while the process to expose the massacre culprits to tougher Speedy Trial Tribunal were underway.

The suspects appeared in the courtroom in BFR uniforms without belts and caps as a three-member panel of judges headed by BDR chief Major General Mainul Islam began the trial at the Darbar Hall, the scene where most of the 57 Army officers were killed as the border guards took up weapons to kill the officers holding their families hostage.

The trial began with placing charges against the BDR personnel by prosecutors while of the 86 BDR men, 19 remain in detention, two are absconding while 65 continuing their services in the headquarters. A senior CID official earlier told PTI that they detected nearly 700 BDR soldiers who were directly took part in the killings and torturing women and children from among some 2100 detained paramilitary border guards who were present at the Pilkhana Headquarters on February 25-26.

The Government earlier decided to try the suspected massacre culprits under the fast track Speedy Trial Tribunal under Penal Code and others who extended support to the mutiny but did not take part in the killings under the BDR Act. BDR in November constituted six special courts, two to sit in Dhaka and four outside the capital, under Bangladesh Rifles Order 1972 to try the mutineers who did not take part in the killings or lootings.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/238140/Bangladesh-court-to-hear-case-against-mutiny-suspects.html

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Al-Qaida leader in Yemen threatens new US attacks

Feb 24, 2010

A senior operative of the al-Qaida network in Yemen -- the group that claimed responsibility for the failed Christmas Day attack on an American passenger jet over Detroit -- has threatened more attacks on the United States.

The US has become increasingly worried about militants based in Yemen since al-Qaida groups there and in Saudi Arabia merged last year to become al-Qaida in the Arabian. The group has openly targeted US and other Western interests in Yemen, and -- as demonstrated by the December 25 attack -- abroad.

Qasim al-Raimi, a top military commander for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, warned Americans in an article published in an online militant magazine that the group "will blow up the earth from below your feet."

"You have attacked us in the midst of our household, so wait for what will attack you in the midst of yours,"

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al-Raimi said, according to a translation of the message from the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant Web sites.

The United States is increasingly worried that Yemen is becoming a significant terrorist staging ground, amid signs that lower-level al-Qaida operatives have been moving into the country from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.

Washington has pressured Yemen's government to crack down on the network, and the Pentagon has earmarked some USD 150 million in military assistance to Yemen to help combat the threat.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/alqaida-leader-in-yemen-threatens-new-us-attacks/583856/

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Girl’s killer arrested in Jeddah

Feb 24, 2010

JEDDAH: The police here arrested a Yemeni man on charged with the murder of a Yemeni woman in her 20s and assaulting her friend, seriously injuring her.

Jeddah police spokesman Col. Misfir Al-Juaid said on Tuesday the arrest took place about 30 minutes after the crime was committed based on a testimony from the woman who survived the attack. The police believe the man, who worked at a dress shop, knew his victim.

The dead body was handed over to the next of kin after being examined by a forensics team. The injured woman was taken to hospital where she is expected to recover.

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article21535.ece

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Algeria recalls envoy from Mali over Al-Qaeda row

Lamine Chikhi

Feb 24, 2010

ALGIERS: Algeria recalled its ambassador to Mali on Tuesday to protest the West African country's decision to free four suspected militants demanded by Al-Qaeda in exchange for sparing the life of a French hostage.

The diplomatic row is likely to set back efforts to adopt a joint approach among the region's states against Al-Qaeda, which the United States and Europe believe could carve out a safe haven in the Sahara desert like those in Yemen and Somalia.

Al-Qaeda's North African wing, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), had said it would execute hostage Pierre Camatte, kidnapped in Mali in November last year, unless the Malian authorities released the four.

Algeria "strongly condemns and denounces this unfriendly attitude from the Malian government," said a Foreign Ministry statement quoted by Algeria's official APS news agency.

"Following the decision of the Malian government to carry out the release of the four terrorists ... the Algerian government has decided to recall, for consultations, its ambassador in Bamako," the statement said.

A Malian newspaper reported on Sunday that a court in the capital had sentenced the four to the time they had already served - effectively meaning they were free. Algerian media said two of the men were Algerians.

Since then there has been no news on whether the French hostage has been allowed to go free.

Full report at: http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article21544.ece

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Nato, Russia to jointly combat Taliban, says Hillary

By Anwar Iqbal

24 Feb, 2010

WASHINGTON: The Nato military alliance and Russia face a common threat emanating from the Pak-Afghan border and have agreed to make joint efforts to deal with it, says US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In a speech at an international seminar in Washington on revising Nato’s mission for the 21st century, Secretary Clinton also urged Russia to take part in a Nato plan for European missile defence.

“Because Russia and Nato face common threats — from extremists and drug traffickers coming out of Afghanistan and Pakistan along their border — we have agreed to cooperate,” she said.

As part of this understanding, Russia was now allowing Nato to transit non-lethal goods across its territory in support of the Isaf operations, she said.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/19-nato%2C-russia-to-jointly-combat-taliban%2C-says-hillary-420-hh-06

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Lahore High Court directs Pakpattan police to recover 6-year-old abducted girl

24 Feb, 2010

LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif directed Pakpattan Police on Tuesday to recover six-year-old Sana, who had recently been abducted.

He also directed the Pakpattan district police officer to appear before the court on February 24.

The LHC CJ directed the advocate general to ensure that the court order was followed and assist the court during the case hearing.

He had taken suo motu notice on the application of Nusrat Bibi, mother of the abducted girl.

She alleged that the four accused men entered their house forcefully on February 19, and were fully armed, adding that they threatened her family to withdraw the first information report (FIR) she had earlier registered against them. She said the accused beat her when she resisted and later took away her daughter at gunpoint.

The accused include sons of Ali Hussain, Muhammad Afzal and Muhammad Aslam.

Nusrat Bibi elaborated that she had earlier filed an FIR against Muhammad Afzal.

The chief justice said the claimant had alleged that she went to the Arif Wala police station and had also appealed to the Arif Wala district superintendent but no action had been taken by the police rather the police were favouring the accused. He observed that, “The abductee is the sole issue (child) of the applicant and she has sought for recovery of her minor daughter Sana and the arrest of the accused persons.”

Justice Sharif said, “Under such circumstances, I am inclined to treat this application under Section 199(1) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and direct Pakpattan DPO to appear in court along with the investigation officer on February 24.”

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\02\24\story_24-2-2010_pg7_37

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