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Islamic World News ( 8 Nov 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Saudi Arabia Bombs Yemeni Shia rebel targets

Islam an Indic religion, India a sacred land of Islam'

Saudi Arabia assures full support in war on terror

Mapping the Al-Qaeda Linkages in South-East Asia: How Real is the Threat?

Chinese PM reaches out to Muslims

Fort Hood shooting: Mum’s the word on involvement of terror group

Mosque opens doors to neighbours with questions

Testing Times for Muslims and Americans

Baku to host "Culture and Beauty factor in Islam" conference

British and Indian Muslims soldiers fallen in two world wars

Muslim intelligentsia distances itself from Deoband fatwa against ‘vande matram’

More Indians in US hedge fund scam

Teachers, student hurt in Pakistan grenade attack: police

Rafah border opened to ease pilgrims’ movement

Kaaba gold door maker passes away

Haj media campaign launched

Rabbani’s panel in no haste despite Zardari’s rush

Two female teachers among 16 hurt in Quetta attacks

Mumbai attack: Suspects seek incriminating documents

Sikh and Muslim women seek freedom to wear head coverings

Anjumans deprive Muslim women of microcredit

Trinidad Muslim community pleased with Govt apology to Saudi diplomat

Bans, Burqinis, Burqas, and Bombs

Prices take shine off Pakistan lavish weddings

Hindutva leader visits Shia Maulana in Lucknow

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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Saudi Arabia Bombs Yemen Shia rebel targets

November 8, 2009

The four month war against rebel Shia tribesmen in Yemen has now attracted the attention of Saudi Arabia. Saudi aircraft have, in the last week, used several hundred missiles and bombs on Yemeni rebel targets near the Saudi border. This was triggered by an incident on October 14th, when Saudi police caught two al Qaeda members trying to get past a border post dressed as women, and carrying weapons and bomb making material. The two were killed in a gun battle, along with a policeman.

The Yemeni Shia rebels have been forced back to the Saudi border, where they are hiding out among some 60,000 civilian refugees from the fighting. On October 18th, the rebels reported that Saudi troops fired across the border, to support an Yemeni army attack on some rebels barricaded inside a town. Elsewhere on the border, Saudi troops have been fighting with tribesmen opposed to the security fence the Saudis are building along the border. The tribesmen have freely crossed the border for centuries, but now the Saudis want to halt the smuggling, and movement of al Qaeda terrorists into the kingdom.

On October 26th, Yemeni patrol boats in the Red Sea, seized an Iranian ship, carrying weapons, apparently meant for the Yemeni rebels. On November 3rd, a group of Yemeni rebels entered Saudi Arabia and attacked Saudi police, killing one of them. One of the rebels was killed, and the rest fled back into Yemen. The rebels have demanded that Saudi Arabia stay out of the fighting. The rebels also called on the UN to help negotiate a ceasefire, but the Yemeni army believes it is close to capturing the rebel leaders, and crushing the rebellion.

On November 5th, in response to the Yemeni rebel attack, Saudi Arabia sent F-15 and Tornado fighter-bombers across the border to hit suspected rebel camps. Over a hundred missiles and bombs were used. Saudi artillery was also heard firing into Yemen, and Saudi army units were seen moving towards the border. Apparently those troops soon crossed into Yemen, where they have apparently been fighting the Yemeni rebels.

The Saudis believe that al Qaeda members will try to sneak back into the kingdom, rather than risk capture by Yemeni troops. The Saudis fear that the rebels are harboring a number of Saudi al Qaeda members, and that these terrorists were behind an August 28 attempt to assassinate a senior Saudi official. That attempted involved a bomber who hid the bomb in his ass. You can't get much explosives up there, and the attempt failed. But if it were tried in an aircraft, the results might be catastrophic.

Yemeni troops have been fighting Shia rebels near the Saudi border since August. In that time, there have been over a thousand casualties, about ten percent of them Saudi police and civilians. The Yemeni army has advanced deep into the territory of the tribes leading the resistance. Roads have been blocked for months, keeping food and other supplies from getting to over 100,000 Shia. Over 150,000 have fled their homes. The Shia rebels have nowhere to turn, as Saudi Arabia considers Shias heretics.

It's believed that Iran is supporting the rebels, mainly with cash. Since the Shia tribes are inland, away from the coast, it's difficult for Iran to deliver anything else. With cash, the rebels can bribe local officials, buy supplies for themselves and their families, and replenish their ammo and weapons from gunrunners. Yemeni troops recently captured three arms dealers, who were not in the area to dispense charity. The soldiers have made it difficult for anything to get through to the rebels.

There are about nine million Shia in Yemen (40 percent of the population) and most belong, like the rebels, to the Zaidi sect. Only a few hundred thousand Zaidi are up in arms against the government, and not all of them are actively resisting the advancing troops. There are another million Zaidis across the border in Saudi Arabia, where the Sunni majority makes any uprising, or assistance to their Yemeni brethren, highly unlikely. The rebels appear ready to go down fighting, and have mountain fortresses that will be difficult to take. This all might go on for a while.

The tribal warriors have been unable to stop the army, and the families of these warriors are starting to go hungry. Tribal leaders have been trying to negotiate a peace deal, but the government has not been very enthusiastic about that. Two years ago, the government made peace with the northern Shia tribes, and the tribes soon ignored their promises to behave. The tribal leaders know this, and are demanding that international observers come in to supervise any ceasefire. The government knows this is a scam, because the tribal leaders believe they could con the foreign observers to let the tribesmen get away with whatever criminal activities, or even attacks on government troops, that they had a mind to. Along those lines, the tribal leaders have alerted many prominent humanitarian relief NGOs and asked them to apply pressure on the Yemeni government, to let up on its blockade, so food and medical supplies can get through to the starving women and children (and, of course, tribal warriors, especially those hundreds who have been wounded.) The government is playing hardball, and demanding surrender, before peace talks begin. If the tribal rebels cannot get pressure from foreigners to work, surrender will be the only option.

The Shia Islamic militants of northern Yemen want to restore local Shia rule in the traditional tribal territories, led by the local imam (religious leader). This arrangement, after surviving more than a thousand years, was ended by the central government in 1962. In the last five years, several thousand have died in this on-and-off war between the Shia tribesmen and the Yemeni security forces. While Yemen is supposed to be the new headquarters of "Al Qaeda in Arabia" (Saudi Arabia no longer being safe for the terrorists), these Islamic terrorists have been keeping their heads down. Other groups in the south want to break away and form their own "Yemen." But so far, the government sees the Shia rebels in the north as the bigger threat. The dissident politicians in the south are waiting to see how the war with the Shia tribes plays out. And al Qaeda seems to be waiting as well. There has been some gunfire from southern separatist groups, but nothing major. But many of the al Qaeda members have headed back to Saudi Arabia, fearing that once the tribes are pacified, Islamic terrorists will be next on the target list.

The bin Laden family are Sunnis from Yemen, and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda has been brutal in its persecution of Shias. Ironically, the Sunni dominated government of Yemen is quite pro-American, while the Shia, particularly the several hundred thousand followers of Shia radical al Houthi, are very anti-American. While al Qaeda are present in Yemen, rebellious Shia like the al Houthi crowd, are considered a much bigger domestic problem.

The current battles with the Shia tribesmen have been more intense than the skirmishing of the last five years. Until last year, things had been quiet for two years. In 2005, nearly a thousand troops and tribesmen died, while in 2004 some 400 died. There have been several truces, but the al Houthi supporters keep breaking them. The rebels keep demanding more concessions from the government (which is a coalition of Shia and Sunni groups). What is ironic about all this is that the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is a Zaidi. But the rebels consider Saleh a traitor for dealing with the Sunni majority.

There are still many Yemenis who have a grudge against the government. Most of this can be traced back to the civil war that ended, sort of, in 1994. That war was caused by the fact that, when the British left Yemen in 1967, their former colony in Aden became one of two countries called Yemen. The two parts of Yemen finally united in 1990, but a civil war in 1994 was needed to seal the deal. That fix didn't really take, and the north and south are pulling apart again.


Islam an Indic religion, India a sacred land of Islam'

Ravi Dayal

8 November 2009

PATNA: God is one. So, the people of the world, professing different religions, are the same offering obeisance to the one and the same God in

their own words in different languages. And, this is what Yajurveda, Brahmsutra and Quran have mentioned, claimed Syed Tariq Abdullah Engineer, president of the World Organisation of Religions and Knowledge.

He was delivering a talk on The Conception of Harmony from Vedas to Quran organised by the Temple of Understanding, an inter-faith global organisation, here on Saturday.

Engineer said Islam can be called an Indic religion and India a sacred land of Islam. He said Prophet Mohammad used the word Hind with respect by saying: "Hind ke taraf se jannat ki khushbu aati hai (The scent of heaven comes from India)."

He went on to say that in India there is Sanatana Dharma and in ancient time there was no mention of the word Hindu. "I am Sanatana. I am a Muslim living in Hindustan, which is a sacred land visited by Adam from heaven. The name of Adam finds mention in all regligious scriptures."

When all the religions say that God is one, then where is the difference, Engineer argued, giving a call for promoting international brotherhood and harmony, the very essence of all religions. There is one religion of one God whose manifestations are different according to different tongues, he reasoned

Saudi Arabia assures full support in war on terror

07 Nov, 2009

Saudi Ambassador Abdul Aziz Al-Ghadeer presents a letter from the Saudi interior minister to Rehman Malik


ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia fully supports Pakistan’s role in the war on terror and will extend all possible support for countering and defeating forces of terrorism, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said here on Saturday.

He was talking to media persons along with Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Aziz Al-Ghadeer, who earlier held a detailed meeting with the minister and handed him a letter of the Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz, in which he assured full support to the Pakistani nation and its security forces in fighting terror.

‘Our commitment and full readiness to provide all possible help to our brethren in Pakistan for countering the forces of terrorism and defeating the saboteurs who are causing havoc on earth’, the letter says.

Rehman Malik said, ‘We are greatly thankful to the Ambassador and Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz for such good words of help. Saudi Arabia has always stood with Pakistan at every difficult moment’.

He also condemned the group from Yemen which was interfering in Saudi Arabia.

‘We stand shoulder to shoulder with our brotherly country Saudi Arabia for any support and help in this connection’.

The minister said Saudi Arabia was facing same kind of terrorist threats and actions as being faced by Pakistan.

‘The world must look into factors, states, people and groups supporting the enemies of humanity. They have no religion and boundaries and are doing it to destablise certain countries,’ said Malik.

Replying to a question, he said there was no deadlock between PPP and MQM, adding both coalition partners were moving ahead smoothly.

‘Difference of opinion exists in democracy but this does not mean they are leaving us. We have no such problems.’

‘Altaf Hussain made a phone call during talks at Dubai, saying he never demanded resignation from the president, rather he assured he would use all his resources along with his party to strengthen the president’.

Rehman Malik said they have to think above party politics as the country was facing a lot of problems and fighting the war on terror.

He said PPP and MQM made joint legal and political think tank teams for discussing important national and international issues.—APP


Mapping the Al-Qaeda Linkages in South-East Asia: How Real is the Threat?

7 November 2009

by Tuli Sinha

Terrorism is an elusive concept. It is a kind of political violence but neither academics nor policy-makers have reached a consensus on its definition. Like every social phenomenon, terrorism is malleable, constantly changing in appearance and evolving structurally, which demands any definition to be all-encompassing. It involves political objectives and goals and relies on violence or the threat of violence. It is designed to generate fear in a target audience that extends beyond the immediate victims of the violence. The violence involves an organi-sation as opposed to isolated individuals.

The use of terrorism as a form of warfare has existed even before recorded history. Using violence to coerce societies has been the primary tool employed by terrorists in order to gain concessions or accomplish ideological goals. As a fundamental form of warfare, terrorism has affected practically every society on the planet at some point in history. In 2001, the United States (US) fell victim to the actions of the transnational terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda, which had expanded its ideological focus of eradicating moderate Muslim governments to include the US and its influence worldwide.

In this context, South-East Asia has been the home of indigenous Islamic militant groups for decades. Traditionally, the linkages among these groups were relatively weak and they mostly operated only in their own country or islands, focusing on domestic issues such as promoting the adoption of Islamic law, Sharia, and seeking independence from Central Government control. Even before the September 11 attacks, South-East Asia was attracting the interest of the Al-Qaeda. Several of the region’s home-grown radical Islamic groups sent their members to receive training and participate in jihad in Afghanistan. Since the early 1990s, the Al-Qaeda’s influence has spread across the geographical spectrum of South-East Asia with well-entrenched and extensive networks. Several countries in the region, namely, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines featured in the Al-Qaeda’s most ambitious plans.

However, South-East Asian states, long considered the “Islamic periphery” owing to their moderate Islamic stance, pluralism, and nationalism, were suddenly forced to confront a small but patent terrorist threat in their midst, culminating in the October 12, 2002 terrorist attack on a Bali resort. Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda had entered the region in the early and mid-1990s, establishing independent cells, and assisting and liaising with indigenous Islamic insurgencies that hitherto were believed to have solely domestic agendas. The Al-Qaeda penetrated the region for more than a decade beginning 1991, and emerged in South-East Asia at a time when state-sponsorship was waning. Until the September 11 attacks, the security concerns of the ASEAN members revolved around the impact of a rising China on the regional balance of power, the prospects for Sino-US power rivalry, and the dangers of war in regional flashpoints: the Korean peninsula, Taiwan, Kashmir, and the Spratly Islands. ASEAN governments also had to grapple with inter-state tensions, such as territorial disputes between Malaysia and Indonesia and between Singapore and Malaysia, and internal strife, especially in Indonesia after the downfall of the Suharto regime in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Emergence and Rise of Terrorism in South-East Asia

The persistence of multifarious problems, both within and between the South-East Asian states, increased their vulnerability heightened by the existing problems. Since the end of the Cold War, threats to international security have become less direct and apocalyptic. Since most South-East Asian states are developing, the domestic situations within those states remain vulnerable to acts of terrorism. Although the majority of the population in South-East Asia are nationalist and tolerant, radical Islam is growing for a variety of reasons, such as economic diversity, the lack of political freedom, the spread of Wahhabism and Salafi Islam, the failure of secular education, and the increased number of religious students studying in the Middle Eastern states. Accordingly, these conditions generated the inclination to commit terrorist and other crimes as radical efforts to achieve a better social life. The specific circumstances in their respective economies were exacerbated by the regional economic crisis in 1997-98 and the aftermath of the crisis further resulted in severe poverty.

Full report at:


Chinese PM reaches out to Muslims

08 Nov, 2009

CAIRO, Nov 7: Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao sought to reassure the world’s Muslims about his country’s goodwill towards them here on Saturday, at a time when Beijing was being criticised for the treatment of its own Muslim minority.

“The relationship between Chinese civilisation and Islamic civilisation goes back years,” Mr Wen said in a speech delivered at the Cairo-based headquarters of the 22-member Arab League.

“China is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. The basic policy of the Chinese government is to ensure equality among all ethnic groups and speed up the economic development of all regions,” he said.

In July, violence erupted in China’s Xinjiang region pitting mainly Muslim minority Uighurs against members of China’s dominant Han group, leaving 197 dead and more than 1,600 injured, according to official figures.

Han vigilantes went on a rampage against Uighurs two days later, but the exact number of casualties from that day has never been divulged.

Hundreds of people were detained as China vowed to come down hard on those found guilty, with President Hu Jintao and other top leaders saying those responsible must be “severely punished”.

“In China, more than 20 million people from 10 ethnic groups believe in Islam. They are all members of the big family of the Chinese nation,” Mr Wen said. “Their beliefs, culture and way of life are fully respected.”

The Chinese premier gave his speech on the eve of a summit with African leaders in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh as Beijing bids to expand its diplomatic and economic influence across the resource-rich continent.

The Chinese premier also met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif.—AFP


Fort Hood  shooting: Mum’s the word on involvement of terror group

Clifford Krauss & James Dao

8 November 2009

KILLEEN: On Wednesday and Thursday, Maj Nidal Malik Hasan seemed in a hurry to give his worldly belongings to a neighbour. First a Koran. Then bags of vegetables. Finally a mattress, clothing and odds and ends from his bare one-room flat.

“I’m not going to need them,” he told the neighbour, Patricia Villa. He was going to Iraq, he said, or maybe to Afghanistan.

That was just one of many small and enigmatic details to emerge about Maj Hasan, the 39-year-old Army psychiatrist accused of a shooting spree at Fort Hood that killed 13 people on Thursday and wounded at least 30 others.

An American-born Muslim of Palestinian descent, he was deeply dismayed by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but proud of his army job. He wore Middle Eastern clothes to the convenience store and his battle fatigues to the mosque. He was trained to counsel troubled soldiers, but bottled up his own distress about deploying.

The local police said that ballistics tests showed there was only one gunman and that none of the casualties had been hit by bullets fired by the police.

But the military and federal investigators pointedly refused to release further details on how the shootings happened, why there were initial reports of multiple attackers and why officials took several hours to correct news media reports that Hasan had been killed.

Most significant, officials were not prepared to say whether the attack was the act of a lone and troubled man or connected to terrorist groups, foreign or domestic.

President Barack Obama asked the nation to avoid “jumping to conclusions” while the investigations into the Fort Hood rampage continued. Hasan was shot four times during the attack. On Friday, officers at Fort Hood reported that he had been moved to Brooke Army Medical Centre in San Antonio for security and medical reasons.


Mosque opens doors to neighbours with questions

By Dave Thompson

November 7, 2009

Lynchburg’s first mosque held an open house Saturday, drawing a crowd of nearly 100 visitors over the four-plus hours that members of the Greater Lynchburg Islamic Association were on hand.

Attendees removed their shoes in an outside hallway as they entered the mosque, then toured the building and participated in extended question and answer sessions with mosque members.

The unassuming house, off of Airport Road in Campbell County, has served as a gathering and prayer center for area Muslims since the beginning of the year.

Maqsud Ahmad, the group’s president, said the event served mainly as a way for community members, who had questions or concerns about Islam and its adherents, to get some information and hopefully gain perspective.

“I think people are pretty much happy, they cleared up their few things,” Ahmad said after a few groups had already come through.

Ahmad said he was encouraged by the turnout because it seemed many of the people coming through were sincere and really wanted to clear up misconceptions about Islam.

Ahmad drew particular attention to what he said is a media-fueled misconception that all Muslims are violent or that Muslims agree with incidents like Thursday’s shooting in Fort Hood, Texas, a crime alleged to have been perpetrated by a Muslim.

“That is not justified,” he said, emphasizing to each question and answer group that the GLIA did not condone the act and that it was not representative of Muslims in general.

Ahmad said that despite all the negative press Islam is getting, the mosque has not received any threats or had any indication of repercussions from the incident.

Melissa Hight Boughmmi, 38, attends the mosque, and though she moved to the area most recently from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., she said she was born and raised in Lynchburg and attended Thomas Road Baptist Church before she moved.

“Growing up in Lynchburg, I never met a Muslim,” she said.

Then, while in Florida, Boughmmi met and married a Muslim man.

She said she took her shahada, or Muslim declaration of faith, six years ago and hasn’t looked back.

“I’ve always wanted to have that feeling of faith that people have,” she said, noting that at different times she attended Jewish, Jehovah’s Witness and Catholic services.

“When I went to the Mosque,” she said, “I felt that.”

She said she’s received her share of quizzical looks, especially when she’s in public wearing her hijab, a scarf that covers the head and shoulders, leaving only the face exposed.

Full report at:


Testing Times for Muslims and Americans

Dr Muqtedar Khan

8 November 2009

The American Muslim community is in shock and in a state of disbelief combined with apprehension as it watches the details of the shootings at Fort Hood in Texas unfold. Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a doctor and a practising Muslim, born in Virginia of Jordanian parents, turned against his fellow citizens and military colleagues and gunned down 13 and wounded 30.

Fort Hood is America’s biggest military installation. It is like a sanctuary where Americans should feel safe. It is difficult to describe the fear and anxiety this ghastly event must be invoking among the families who live in Fort Hood.

What happened at Fort Hood follows a nightmare script that has been one of the biggest fears of the American Muslim community since the appalling events of September 11, 2001. One crazy Muslim, acting on his own, causing significant mayhem and murder and inviting anger and backlash against millions of peace-loving and hardworking Americans who are Muslims. National and local Muslim organisations immediately issued strong condemnation of the event and called for calm.

It is important to understand that Major Hasan is an isolated, alienated, and sad individual who was clearly not well adjusted to his life. In a community that values family life, he was single at 39 and still looking desperately for a wife, according to his former Imam. He was in an army that was at war with his co-religionists and he had difficulty dealing with that. He was frequently taunted and harassed for being a Muslim by his own colleagues. After years in the military and after years of caring for soldiers as a doctor, he did not feel as if he belonged and perhaps that was the key to why he could turn on his own.

This tragic episode presents serious dilemmas and challenges for both — Muslim community organisations as well as for law enforcement and counter terrorism agencies. Muslim organisations do not know how to explain this and the law enforcement agencies will be puzzling over how to respond to it.

This was an unpredictable and isolated episode that is impossible to anticipate and guard against. Hasan is American born, highly educated, long-term military man who simply snapped with devastating consequences. How do we anticipate this and prevent it? The Fort Hood shooting reminds me of the Columbine school shooting: shocking and totally unexpected. On scrutiny after the fact one discovers warning signs but not enough to trigger action before it happened.

Since the election of President Barack Obama, the Islamophobic rhetoric has been on the decline as people in key administrative positions have abstained from using “Islamic” as a prefix when talking about issues related to the war on terror. But this episode will once again provide fodder to talk show hosts and shrill media and web sites, which exploit such isolated events to ratchet up Islamophobia.

Full report at:


Baku to host "Culture and Beauty factor in Islam" conference

07 November 2009

An international scientific and practical conference entitled "Culture and Beauty factor in Islam" will kick off in Azerbaijan`s capital next Tuesday.

The conference is one of a series of events Baku has been hosting through the year in the capacity of Islamic Culture Capital, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The event will bring together representatives from 15 countries, including Russia, Egypt, Albania, Jordan and Turkey.



British and Indian Muslims soldiers fallen in two world wars

David Sapsted, Foreign Correspondent

November 08. 2009

British and Indian Army soldiers shift a field gun over an embankment in 1915. During the First World War around 800,000 Indian Corps Troops fought, with Muslims comprising 40 per cent of the total. PA

LONDON // A campaign is being launched in Britain for the creation of a national memorial to the thousands of “forgotten Muslims” who died fighting in two world wars.

As the United Kingdom today commemorates its war dead in solemn Remembrance Sunday services, Emel, a London-based Muslim lifestyle magazine, is calling for the start of a nationwide consultation process on how the country should remember the often ignored Muslim soldiers who died serving what was then the British Empire.

Sarah Joseph, the magazine’s editor, said the move is not simply to honour the sacrifice that Muslim soldiers made in the past, but is an attempt to counter growing Islamophobia in Britain today.

“It is important to recognise the invaluable contribution made by these Muslims soldiers – they fought for us to enjoy the freedoms that we have,” she said. “At a time when those on the far right express such hostility towards British Muslims, while appropriating war imagery for their own use, it is all the more necessary to inform the public of the significant role Muslims played in keeping Britain free.

“We believe a greater understanding of this remarkable episode of British history will give the lie to xenophobic and anti-Muslim feelings and, at the same time, highlight to young Muslims their important role as stakeholders in the future of British society.

“That is a dual message of particular importance in these times.”

Gordon Brown, the prime minister, acknowledged the debt owed to Muslim soldiers in a statement to the magazine. “Their heroism, just like the contribution of British Muslims today, has helped to keep our country prosperous, strong and free.”

Leaders of the two main opposition parties also support the call to remember the role of the Muslim troops who fought and died during the two world wars, most of whom were from the Indian subcontinent.

In the First World War, about 800,000 Indian Corps troops fought in all theatres of the war, with Muslims comprising 40 per cent of the total. In all, 47,746 were killed or listed as missing and 65,000 wounded.

The Indian Corps won 13,000 medals for gallantry including 12 Victoria Crosses, with Khudadad Khan being awarded the Corps’ first VC, Britain’s highest bravery award.

Full report at:


Muslim intelligentsia distances itself from Deoband fatwa against ‘vande matram’ November 8, 2009

Distancing itself from the 'fatwa' against Muslims singing 'Vande Mataram', a section of the intelligentsia today said there was a need to educate the community about the actual meaning of the lone "objectionable" word 'vande' in order to remove doubts over its rendition.

Last week, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind at its annual meet in Deoband opposed singing of the national song by Muslims.

Vice president of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and eminent scholar Maulana Kalbe Sadiq called for a debate among Hindi litterateurs to define the word 'Vande' used in the song which forms the basis on which it has been termed been as being against their religion.

Sadiq said that he was ready to accept the contention of minority affairs minister Salman Khursheed that the National

Song had been approved by Maulana Azad on whose suggestions some words were removed.

"If the word Vande stands for respect and showing reverence to the motherland, then Muslims have no ground to object to it and it is for the litterateurs and knowledge persons of Sanskrit, Urdu and Hindi to sit down and debate over

it so that the misconceptions about the same can be removed," Sadiq said.

He stressed that if the word stands for "worship" it is technically unacceptable for Muslims who cannot worship anyone other than the almighty.


More Indians in US hedge fund scam

7 November 2009

NEW YORK: Four persons of Indian origin are among those charged in America’s largest ever insider trading case replete with all the elements of a

classic television crime drama — wiretaps, clandestine cash handoffs and people with nicknames like "the Greek" and "the Octopussy".

As outlined by federal prosecutors in New York on Thursday, a trader known as "the Octopussy" is at the centre of the ring which included two Indians, Deep Shah, a Moody’s Investors Service analyst, and Gautham Shankar, a former proprietary trader at Schottenfeld Group in New York.

In all, 14 traders, lawyers and hedge fund executives were charged with conspiracy and securities fraud. Five of those defendants, including Shankar, have already pleaded guilty, while Shah is still at large.

Two other Indians, Anil Kumar and Rajiv Goel, were arrested last month along with Sri Lankan Tamil-origin billionaire Raj Rajaratnam, founder of the Galleon Group and hedge fund operator.

"When we announced our first arrests three weeks ago, I said this case should be a wake-up call for Wall Street," said US attorney Preet Bharara. "Today the alarm bells have only grown louder."

In their investigation, authorities used sophisticated data mining and electronic surveillance tactics normally reserved for the pursuit of gangsters and drug traffickers.

Thursday’s charges focus on a group of traders at the proprietary firm Incremental Capital. Zvi Goffer, the founder of that firm, who formerly worked at Galleon and Schottenfeld Group, allegedly organised a ring involving fellow Galleon and Schottenfeld trading colleagues and arranged to get tips on technology company deals through a lawyer from a major New York law firm.

Referencing a James Bond movie, Goffer was known to the group as "the Octopussy", authorities said, as he got information from many sources. Borrowing tactics used by drug dealers, the three and others allegedly used difficult-to-trace pre-paid cell phones to communicate, and moved money in clandestine cash drops at various locations.

Authorities said they recorded calls in which the accused discussed companies they targeted with nicknames like "Apple" and the "Hilton hit," and principals in the sche-me received monikers like "the Rat" and "the Greek".


Teachers, student hurt in Pakistan grenade attack: police

7 November 2009

QUETTA: Two teachers and a student were injured Saturday when suspected militants hurled a hand grenade at a girls' school in insurgency-hit

southwestern Pakistan, police said.

The militants lobbed the grenade at a state-run junior school in Quetta, the capital of oil- and gas-rich Baluchistan province, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, senior police officer Khalid Manzoor said.

The grenade blew off the staff room's roof and splinters hit two female teachers and an eight-year-old student, he said.

"The teachers had wounds to their heads but both are out of danger in the hospital," Manzoor said, adding that the student had only minor injuries.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

Grenade and bomb explosions and drive-by shootings are fairly frequent in impoverished Baluchistan province, which is gripped by an insurgency.

Hundreds of people have died since Baluch rebels rose up against the central government in 2004, demanding autonomy and a greater share of the profits from the region's natural resources.


Rafah border opened to ease pilgrims’ movement

Hisham Abu

GAZA STRIP: For the second consecutive day, the Rafah crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Egypt remained open for Gazan Haj pilgrims departing for Saudi Arabia, officials said on Saturday.

The first of four groups of 300 Gazans already left Gaza via the Rafah crossing on Friday. Officials said the crossing would be open for the next three days.

Gazan pilgrims were last year unable to travel for Haj because of the Palestinian political dispute. The Hamas government had tried to directly arrange the allocated Palestinian Haj quota with the Kingdom, which had already made arrangements with the Palestinian Authority.

However, this year Hamas coordinated with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and reached an agreement on the issue. “We are coordinating with our brothers in the West Bank to allow 4,500 pilgrims from Gaza to make the pilgrimage this year,” said Taleb Abu Shaar, Hamas’ minister of religious affairs.

In another rare instance of cooperation between Gaza and the West Bank, the Abbas administration shipped 5,000 swine flu vaccinations to Gaza to be administered to pilgrims, a Hamas health ministry official said.

The Rafah crossing point with Egypt, considered the only border point not controlled by Israel, is occasionally opened to allow humanitarian cases, students and Palestinians with Egyptian visas to leave the Gaza Strip.

After Hamas seized control of the territory in June 2007, Israel closed all crossing points including Rafah terminal.

The pilgrims would be flown to Makkah from the Egyptian airport of Sinai.


Kaaba gold door maker passes away

Anwar Al-Syed

8 November 2009

MAKKAH: Sheikh Ahmad bin Ibrahim Badr, the chief artist who recast the golden door of the Kaaba, has died at the age of 89 in Makkah on Friday. The Grand Mosque held funeral prayers at dawn on Saturday.

Ahmad made the Kaaba’s door using 300 kg of pure gold at the orders of King Khaled in October 1979. The work was carried out at a workshop prepared exclusively for the project. He also refurbished the meezab (the spout at the top of Kaaba) and the Black Stone’s silver frame. He learned his art from his father Sheikh Ibrahim Badr who originally designed and built the door when King Abdul Aziz ordered him to in 1942.

Ibrahim and two relatives, Mahmoud and Ibrahim Badr, cast the door in pure gold, taking a full year to complete the work. The interior pillars and the meezab, made with 25 kg of 24-carat gold, were also completed during that time. The prayer “Ya Hayy Ya Qayyum” (Oh the Living Oh the Lasting), verses of the Holy Qur’an and the words “Allah” and “Muhammad” were inscribed on the door. Their work also included a silver frame for the Black Stone.

Ahmad was born at his ancestral home in the Qashashiya quarter of Makkah in 1920. After studying at the local Falah school he joined his father at his gold and silver workshop at the age of 15. Ahmad had been working at his father’s shop “Sheikh Ibrahim Badr” in the Goldsmiths’ street all his life. He belonged to a family of artists known for exquisite gold works.


Haj media campaign launched

Badea Abu Al-Naja

8 November 2009

MAKKAH: Chairman of the Central Haj Committee, Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, launched a national media campaign on Saturday urging pilgrims to be responsible during the Haj and perform their rites properly.

“This year’s media campaign is a translation of the development plan for the Makkah region under the motto: Development of Man and Place,” the prince said at a press conference at the governorate.

He reiterated that the government of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah considers serving pilgrims a cherished honor. “Therefore we are not surprised to see the government implement giant projects around the year in the Holy Sites, Makkah and Madinah at a cost of billions of riyals, carried out by thousands of officials, employees and security men who volunteered to join this sacred duty,” Prince Khaled said.

He said the campaign was aimed at realizing two main objectives: encouraging civilized and responsible conduct and enlightening pilgrims about the correct methods of doing the Haj. “Our religion is one of cooperation, discipline and civilization. There is no need for any kind of worship which is done against rules and regulations and may cause harm to the others.”

He asked domestic pilgrims, whether citizens or foreigners, to obtain Haj permits before proceeding to perform the Haj. “We do not want to put hurdles or prevent citizens or expatriates from performing the pilgrimage but we are aiming to cut the road before unlawful pilgrims so they do not cause inconvenience to regular Hajis,” he said.

The prince said preventing ineligible pilgrims from performing the Haj will enable the regular pilgrims to perform the pilgrimage in ease and comfort, enable government organizations to provide the best possible service, maintain cleanliness and create a positive atmosphere during the pilgrimage.


Rabbani’s panel in no haste despite Zardari’s rush

November 08, 2009

By Tariq Butt

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Zardari may be in a hurry to repeal the 17th Amendment, the parliamentary committee of Raza Rabbani is not.

No urgency matching the apparent pressure on Zardari to shed his sweeping discretionary powers was visible in the recent meetings of this 27-member multiparty parliamentary committee that is assigned to propose constitutional amendments, its participants say.

“We are going ahead reviewing the Constitution in its entirety in a normal course without any hurry and examining articles that need to be amended,” one of them told The News.

He said that there was no specific element of urgency being demonstrated by the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) representatives in the deliberations of the committee that met on Friday and would hold another session next week.

Committee Chairman Senator Raza Rabbani has been part of most of crucial deliberations held at the Presidency over the past few days wherein the issue of the president’s exclusive powers was discussed.

Another participant said that although Zardari had of late been quoted as saying that the package of amendments should be cleared by parliament by coming March, no such signs were so far visible in discussions of the parliamentary committee.

At one point, he said, it was briefly discussed that whatever was agreed should be tabled in parliament first in the form of a constitutional bill and the points on which there was difference of opinion and would take quite some time to hammer out should be left for the next amendment bill as and when an agreement would be reached.

Full report at:


Two female teachers among 16 hurt in Quetta attacks

November 08, 2009

By Muhammad Ejaz Khan

QUETTA: At least 16 people, including two female teachers, were injured in two separate incidents of hand grenade explosions in the provincial capital on Saturday.

Police said the first explosion took place at around 1:30 pm in girls school of Killi Shaikh Husssaini on Muno Jan Road when the teaching staff was planning for upcoming annual examinations of the school. Police said unknown armed men hurled a hand grenade in the school, which fell on the rooftop of the staff room. The explosive device created a hole in the roof and landed inside the staff-room injuring two teachers.

Eyewitnesses said the explosion was so powerful that it smashed windowpanes and wooden door of the room and damaged all furniture. Two teachers sustained injuries, who were shifted to the Civil Hospital for medical treatment.

Police and Frontier Corps (FC) personnel reached the spot and started a probe into the matter. Police claimed to have rounded up 26 suspects and further investigations are in progress.

In another explosion at the Mezaan Chowk, the most busy emporium of the provincial capital, over 14 people, including four personnel of the FC, were injured when unknown armed men hurled a hand grenade at the FC check-post.

Soon after the explosion people were seen running helter skelter in search of safety, and eyewitnesses said they were busy on their Eid shopping when a woman who was in black veil hurled the hand grenade and escaped from the scene, leaving behind 14 people injured.

Soon after the blast, Edhi Ambulances reached the spot and shifted the injured to the Civil Hospital for treatment where the condition of some of the injured was stated to be critical, hospital sources told The News. The FC and police cordoned off the area after the blast and started a probe into the matter.


Mumbai attack: Suspects seek incriminating documents

By Our Reporter

08 Nov, 2009

RAWALPINDI, Nov 7: An anti-terrorism court here on Saturday accepted two miscellaneous applications by the seven Mumbai attack suspects and directed the prosecution to provide them the copies of incriminating documents against them.

ATC-I Judge Malik Mohammad Akram Awan who has been conducting the trial in central jail Adiala while accepting the applications put off the hearing till November 14.

The lawyers representing the suspects had moved the court seeking certified copies of incriminating evidence against them and the confessional statement of Ajmal Kisab who was arrested by Indian authorities after other terrorists were killed in Mumbai November last year.

The court accepted the applications moved by the suspects Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi resident of Islamabad, Abdul Wajid resident of Sheikhupura, Mazhar Iqbal resident of Islamabad, Hammad Amin Saddiq resident of Karachi, Shahid Jameel Riaz resident of Bhawalpur, Jamil Ahmed a resident of Battagram and Younas Anjum a resident of Khanewal.

The accused had to move the Lahore High Court to seek the relevant record against them to prepare their defence as they alleged the court would formally indict them without explaining charges against them.


Sikh and Muslim women seek freedom to wear head coverings

By John Woolfolk

Their head wear displayed a full palette of colors and patterns, and symbolized different faiths. But the two dozen Sikh and Muslim women who gathered Saturday at a Fremont community center knew their turbans and scarves had a singular effect on many others in a country where their beliefs are in the minority.

They make the women stand out as different, and to some, threatening.

"Around Sept. 11 this year, I had someone call me a terrorist," said Jasdeep Kaur, a middle-school counselor and volunteer with the Sikh Coalition in Fremont that organized Saturday's unusual joint forum with the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Santa Clara to address discrimination that women of both faiths face because of traditional religious head wear like her black dastaar turban. "We are visually standing out compared to everyone else."

Organizers said local Sikhs and Muslims had never held such a multifaith forum to address shared concerns about discrimination and profiling, but decided to do so because it remains a daily concern. While the overt hostility that peaked shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by Islamic terrorists has subsided, more subtle discrimination persists, they said.

"There's a lot of covert discrimination out there," said Harsimran Kaur, a lawyer and director of the Sikh Coalition.

Organizers said they were unaware of specific incidents locally since last week's fatal shootings at Texas' Fort Hood Army base,

allegedly by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a distraught Muslim psychiatrist. But Harsimran Kaur said the possibility of trouble arising from that incident "is a huge concern."

Sikh and Muslim women are expected to cover their heads. In the Sikh faith, which traces its roots to 16th-century India, both men and women cover their hair, which they do not cut. In Islam, which began in seventh-century Arabia, women cover their heads as a sign of modesty.

Full report at:


Anjumans deprive Muslim women of microcredit

8 Nov 2009

The government seeks inclusive growth and access to credit. The Sachar Committee is dismayed by the relatively low access of Muslims to bank

credit. Yet, neither the government, Sachar Committee members nor intellectuals are raising an outcry against a massive drive to deny millions of Muslim women access to microcredit.

This is driven not by Hindu extremists but by Muslim anjumans (community organisations ) in Karnataka. Thus, a community complaining of credit deprivation is itself destroying credit to millions of Muslims — because the anjumans are male bastions and the poor borrowers are women.

Ramesh Bellamkonda heads BSS Microfinance, the worst hit of several microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Karnataka. He says BSS has provided microcredit for two years in Kolar, three-and-a-half in Mysore, and eight in Ramanagaram, enjoying excellent relations with its Muslim borrowers and virtually 100% repayment.

Today, repayment is down to almost zero, because of non-repayment directives by the anjumans and their goons, who threaten and even assault BSS staff. Muslims constitute a substantial proportion of borrowers, so the anjuman directives can bankrupt entire MFIs, affecting other community borrowers too.

Other Karnataka MFIs in several towns face the same problem, and have been obliged to halt lending to Muslims. It is a triumph for the most reactionary Muslims, and a tragedy for Muslim women denied empowerment through finance.

Some other MFIs say that the problem is not just Islamic.

In some areas, including Kolar, so many MFIs have started operations that poor women can get multiple micro-credit loans, and so accumulate big debts that they cannot repay. The economic slowdown after October 2008 also affected repayment capability. However , these explanations for loan default are partial at best, since Hindu and Christian borrowers continue to have a good repayment record.

The anjumans say interest on loans is un-Islamic , and so borrowers need not repay, and no further microloans should be given to Muslims. Really? Then why don’t the anjumans demand that banks stop lending to Muslim businessmen like Azim Premji of Wipro, Khorakiwala of Wockhardt , Hamied of Cipla, film producers and stars like Shah Rukh Khan, and hundreds of Muslim businessmen dominating the leather and footwear industry? Why don’t the anjumans send goons to prevent Muslim millionaires from repaying their much larger loans with interest?


Trinidad Muslim community pleased with Govt apology to Saudi diplomat

November 8th 2009

THE Muslim community has lauded the government of Trinidad and Tobago for finally admitting its mistake in ’humiliating’ a member of the Saudi Arabian Government.

President of the organisation, Muslims of Trinidad and Tobago, Imtiaz Mohammed said the apology not only helped to maintain ’good relations between the two countries’, but it averted serious implications.

Addressing members of the media at a press briefing at the Caroni Masjid, he said Saudi Ambassador to Venezuela, Judyah Z Al-Hathal, had contacted the group and told them that the action taken by the national police ’was a very big mistake’ and that an apology was necessary.

The apology comes after Muslims, and citizens at large, called on the Government and the police to apologise for entering Saudi diplomat, Dr Fawaz Abdul Rahaman Al Shabili’s hotel room at the Hyatt hotel last Monday and asked him to remove his t-shirt while they searched his room for arms and ammunition.

Al Shabili, who came to this country on behalf of the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the sole purpose of issuing 207 Hajj visas for local Muslims who wished to perform the Holy Pilgrimage this month, later told Sheik Munaf Mohammed that he felt as though the local officials made a mockery of him.

Normally, Muslims wishing to perform Hajj had to travel to Venezuela to get the visa.

This in spite of the fact that the Ministry stated this country ’established formal diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 5th July, 1974’.

However, the Sunday Express understands that Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Edwards, had not yet presented his credentials to the Saudi Government even though he had been in the position since 2007.

Mohammed said Saudi Ambassador to Venezuela, Al-Hathal did not speak to Edwards about the issue nor did Edwards assist in getting the diplomat here. Instead, this country’s Ambassador to Venezuela, Razia Ali, was contacted by the Saudi Embassy in Venezuela about the matter last Friday, Mohammed said.

Full report at:


Bans, Burqinis, Burqas, and Bombs

November 08, 2009

By Kristin Deasy

Islamic female clothing has become as much a political statement as it is a religious statement in many countries, which is why Marjona has a fashion problem.

The 20-year-old Tajik, a devout Muslim and madrasah student, says she feels "increasingly passionate" about wearing  hijab, the Islamic headscarf, "but you aren't allowed to wear the hijab in schools."

Graduation will solve Marjona's problem. Tajik officials banned girls from wearing hijab in public and Islamic schools and universities this fall, but grown women are free to wear what they like.

Many Muslim women don't get off so easily, however. When laws on religious clothing conflict with their personal beliefs, no matter what Muslim women wear, be it a full-body "burqini" swimsuit in secular France or a too-loose hijab in doctrinaire Iran, it's probably wrong.

French officials have long sought to set restrictions on what Muslim women can and should wear. President Nicholas Sarkozy has controversially described Islamic dress as reducing women to "prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity."

John Bowen, a U.S. anthropologist and the author of the book, "Why The French Don't Like Headscarves," thinks the idea that headscarves are "the symbol of the oppression of women" lacks evidence.

"It's just a claim kind of thrown out there," he says.

Still, the French have issued a series of bans on Islamic wear, beginning with headscarves in schools.

More recently, lawmakers have declared swimming pools off-limits to women wearing burqinis, which resemble a loose-fitting wetsuit with an attached hood. Officials say the suits are unhygienic. But the decision sparked controversy in a country famed for its topless beaches and devotion to fashion.

Growing unrest prompted French officials to launch a public debate on the French national identity this week, including a proposed ban on the burqa.

Bowen, who is preparing expert testimony for the French parliamentary committee considering the burqa ban, believes the Islamic clothing debate is a "symbol" of a larger goal. France's goal, which Bowen describes as a "state project," is secularist and concerned with, he says, "trying not to be taken over by what they would call an Islamist ideology."

'A Bomb In My Undies'

Central Asia's autocratic leaders have "state projects" of their own.

Although the majority of the region's inhabitants are Muslim, the countries are officially secular. Authorities are eager to keep signs of religious devotion under tight control because they fear that a threat to their power will come in the form of Islamic extremism.

Full report at:


Prices take shine off Pakistan lavish weddings

8 November 2009

KARACHI - Pakistan’s traditionally lavish weddings have lost their sparkle this matrimonial season thanks to rising prices of gold and festive essentials in a limping economy overshadowed by Taleban attacks.

The colourful celebrations normally span three to five days and attract 500 to 1,000 guests, pushing the cost for the hard-hit lower middle class to between 300,000 and one million rupees (3,600-12,000 dollars).

‘It has become too expensive. Everything is expensive. Even a simple wedding could break the back of poor people like me,’ said Mohammad Aslam, 62, a retired government employee.

Aslam spent most of his pension on marrying off his elder daughter, forcing him to borrow 200,000 rupees to help fund his second daughter’s wedding.

A large part of the spending goes on gold jewellery, as in other South Asian countries, but sales are down partly because of rising global gold prices, businessmen say.

Gold surged to a new record high of 1,095.80 dollars an ounce during international trading on November 4.

‘A year ago there was a demand for 7,700 ounces of gold daily, only for making jewellery in Pakistan. But now it has substantially decreased,’ said Haroon Chand, a leading member of the country’s jewellers’ association.

Imports of gold through Dubai, which was Pakistan’s main source of the metal, have fallen significantly, he said.

‘Affluent and middle class people have halved their spending on jewellery.’

Poor families usually have their old jewellery redesigned for the weddings of their children, he noted.

‘I tried to skip some of our customs to reduce the cost of my son’s marriage, but I couldn’t because of family pressure,’ Ahmed Ali, a car mechanic, told AFP at his son’s wedding in Karachi’s Ranchore Lane.

‘My wife wanted all that because he’s her only son. My son is also a mechanic and we have decided to repay the loans jointly as soon as possible.’

Pakistani families spend lavishly on gifts for the happy couple, food for guests at wedding events that drag on for days, or on a sumptuous dinner offered by the groom’s family at a wedding hall.

‘What disturbs me most is that my daughters have also reached adulthood and their marriages will only be possible by taking more loans,’ said Ali.

‘Like me, the bride’s family has also taken loans for the marriage. We are all prisoners of our customs,’ he added.

Chand blamed deteriorating law and order, increased taxes on gold imports, the weakening purchasing power of ordinary people and higher global gold prices for dealing the business ‘a big blow’.

Full report at:


Hindutva leader visits Shia Maulana in Lucknow

November 08, 2009

Lucknow: In what can be said as a major attempt to harmonise the ties between Hindus

and Muslims, former president of RSS, KS Sudarshan, visited Shia Maulana Hamid-ul Hassan’s residence besides meeting other Ulemas here on Sunday.

It is said that both the leaders discussed the issues related to Hindus and Muslims.

It is said that both the leaders discussed the issues related to Hindus and Muslims.

Later describing the meeting between Shia Maulana and Sudarshan, Maulana Hamidul Hasan said that the people of both the countries-Pakistan and India were not happy.

Hitting hard at the political parties, Sudarshan said the politicians have always tried to create a divide between Hindus and Muslims, while adding that Muslims are not a minority community in India.

Commenting on the Vande Mataram issue, former RSS president said the people from both the communities proudly sing the National song, adding that the culture of both the communities is also the same.

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