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Several top writers break the ban on Satanic Verses; Jaipur Literary Festival faces government ire

  • New Age Islam News Bureau

    20 Jan 2012

  • A cartoon of Prophet Muhammad having a drink with Jesus is posted on Facebook: London University atheist leader forced to resign

  • Suicide attack kills seven at Kandahar airport

    Four French troops die in Afghanistan shooting

    Religious groups discuss links between religious freedom and human rights

    Salman Rushdie not to attend Jaipur Literature Festival

    'Tolerance of extremists detrimental to Pakistan'

    JuD claims Imran Khan will attend its 'Defence of Pakistan' rally

  • Youth lift veil on Muslim myths

  • Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood mixes pragmatism, ideology on Israel peace
  • Grand Mufti bans pastor from Valley
  • Cameroon region concerned about Islamist militants
  • Senators concerned over poor law and order in Balochistan
  • OIC concerned about the rise of Islamophobia in western politics
  • Iran’s “nude revolutionary” Farahani says image is symbolic
  • Islamic scholar a voice for reform
  • Norway’s intel chief resigns over Pakistan gaffe
  •  ‘Peace talks between Pakistan, Taliban faltering’
  • Somalia crisis: Dawn offensive against al-Shabab
  • Save Urdu from narrow-minded politics
  • Activist Hashmi, 5 others detained in Godhra as Narendra Modi’s 'Sadbhavana' fast begins
  • Downgrading Iranian-British relations: the anatomy of a folly
  • Rushdie likely to keep away; Muslim groups drop protest plan
  • Iran reissues death sentence for Canada resident: lawyer
  • Head of Azerbaijani opposition party seeks a common ideology
  • Women's Bodies Are Still the Subject of Dispute
  • Fear, distrust of Muslims predates 9/11, expert says                  
  • Alabama Considering Anti-Sharia Constitutional Amendment Authored By Radical David
  • Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World promotes peace through art appreciation
  • Indonesian Waria Activist Registers to be Human Rights Commissioner
  • Rocky U.S.-Pakistan relations highlighted as Islamabad rejects visit from Washington envoy
  • Pakistan PM defends president at Supreme Court
  • Pakistan needs changes - expert
  • Pakistan Government Acts Decisively to Address CNG Concerns
  • Imran Khan brought pace tsunami trend to Pakistan- Saleem Jaffar             
  • Expel three Christian priests: Kashmir Sharia court
  • Bangladesh army says foiled December coup
  • Bermuda to be first Western centre for Islamic finance in favourable tax domicile
  • Islamists look to shake up Egypt stock exchange
  • To Error and Back Again, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Christopher Hitchens,
  • Are Muslims under fire here in Queens?
  • Muslim world supports President - Acting minister
  • Egyptian scholar says Islamist win is just a blip
  • Has no intention of taking action against Kayani: Pak govt

Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Controversy: A student atheist group at the University of London (UCL) has sparked a row after posting a cartoon of the prophet Muhammed on its Facebook page



Several top writers break the ban on Satanic Verses:

 Jaipur Literary Festival faces government ire

21 January 2012


The Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) was threatened with closure after several writers decided to show their solidarity with Salman Rushdie, by reading out passages from his banned 1988 novel The Satanic Verses.

Ruchir Joshi, the author of The Last Jet-Engine Laugh, who decided to read some of the most controversial passages from the The Satanic Verses told The Hindu: “I took a stand as did other writers. The book is banned in India and that’s a matter of national shame.”

The police told JLF authorities that the literary event could find itself in serious trouble for flaunting the government ban imposed on the book. India, under Rajiv Gandhi, became the world’s first nation to ban the book, even before Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against the Indo-British author, which sent Mr Rushdie into hiding under strict protection for several years.

The Festival’s lawyer, producer Sanjoy Roy, co-directors Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple met the police to assure them that the readings were not scheduled and were the initiatives of the individual writers concerned. Such incidents would not occur again they said. Sanjoy Roy toldThe Hindu that the festival would henceforth obtain signed guarantees from participating authors and interviewers saying that they will abide by the organisation’s rules. It is illegal to own or carry copies of banned books and in theory Ruchir Joshi could face a jail sentence.

Earlier, novelist Hari Kunzru and writer Amitava Kumar both read some passages but were later asked by the festival organisers to refrain from reading further so as not to fuel the controversy.

In session after session, writers and moderators including personalities like Tarun Tejpal, author and publisher of Tehelka, The Hindu’s Editor Siddarth Varadarajan, TV presenter Barkha Dutt, literature professor Amitava Kumar and others came out publicly against the way in which Salman Rushdie was forced to abandon his Jaipur appearance.

Their condemnation of these events was met with loud applause from a public that included not just academics and book lovers but the local “aam aadmi” and schoolchildren both from English and Hindi medium institutions. An elderly Muslim gentleman from the audience declared: “I do not agree with Rushdie but I do not think he should be stopped from attending.” There was also general condemnation of the government’s “spineless capitulation and failure to give Rushdie the protection he needed” said Indrani, a visitor from Mumbai.

V.K. Karthika, publisher at Harper Collins India, who is Ruchir Joshi’s editor told The Hindu. “No book should be banned and I stand by Ruchir, a writer I publish, who has taken a bold and courageous stand.”

Earlier, Salman Rushdie who received threats from Muslim extremists over what they describe as his “anti-Islamic writings” decided he would not attend the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF).

“I have been informed by Intelligence Bureau sources in Maharashtra and Rajasthan that paid assassins from the Mumbai underworld may be on their way to Jaipur to eliminate me. …It would be irresponsible of me to come to the Festival in such circumstances; irresponsible to my family, to the festival audience, and to my fellow writers. I will therefore not travel to Jaipur as planned,” Mr. Rushdie said in a statement read out by the Festival’s producer Sanjoy Roy.

The author, who twice one won the Booker Prize (including the of Booker of Bookers) for his celebrated novel Midnight’s Children, before falling foul of Iran’s Imam Khomeini and other Islamic extremists when he published his controversial novel The Satanic Verses, was widely expected to make a surprise appearance on Tuesday.

Dalrymple, who co-directs the JLF with writer Namita Gokhale and is responsible for inviting international writers to the festival, said “Salman Rushdie is one of India’s greatest writers and in a more just world; his arrival here would have been heralded by people in the streets throwing rose petals in front of him rather than this nonsense.”

Dalrymple described these developments as “the result of a tragic game of Chinese whispers.” He said: “The reality of Rushdie’s writings is completely different from the way that they have been cartooned and caricatured. Salma is a writer of enormous breadth, depth; he writes about a huge variety of subjects. His passionate engagement with Indian Islamic history and works like The Enchantress of Florence shows that he is as far as can possibly be removed from the Islamophobe of myth.”

“I am deeply saddened by the fact that Salman Rushdie will not be joining us. I still remember how enthusiastically he was welcomed on these very lawns a few years ago and I am convinced we will have him here again,” JLF’s co-director Namita Gokhale said.

Other writers, critics and members of the public participating in the festival felt some sort of event ought to organised on the day and time when Mr. Rushdie was scheduled to speak “so that his enforced absence will be acknowledged and become a sort of presence,” said Devi a “simple book lover” from Mumbai.

Tarun Tejpal, whose latest novel The Valley of Masks deals with notions of extremism and “purity”, suggested a discussion with Mr. Rushdie by video link. “We must mark our indignation and opposition to what has happened. We cannot sit by and do nothing,” he told The Hindu.

“We find this extremely disturbing and sad and we need to debate on why a person's individual ideas and notions are being blocked, why the artistic community continues to suffer at the hands of extremist forces and why we continue to succumb, as a nation, to one pressure or another. This is a huge problem for Indian democracy,” the Festival’s producer Sanjoy Roy said.

JLF organisers clarify (Press Release)

This press release is being issued on behalf of the organisers of the Jaipur Literature Festival. It has come to their attention that certain delegates acted in a manner during their sessions today which were without the prior knowledge or consent of the organisers. Any views expressed or actions taken by these delegates are in no manner endorsed by the Jaipur Literature Festival. Any comments made by the delegates reflect their personal, individual views and are not endorsed by the Festival or attributable to its organisers or anyone acting on their behalf. The Festival organisers are fully committed to ensuring compliance of all prevailing laws and will continue to offer their fullest cooperation to prevent any legal violation of any kind. Any action by any delegate or anyone else involved with the Festival that in any manner falls foul of the law will not be tolerated and all necessary, consequential action will be taken. Our endeavour has always been to provide a platform to foster an exchange of ideas and the love of literature, strictly within the four corners of the law. We remain committed to this objective.


A cartoon of Prophet Muhammad having a drink with Jesus is posted on Facebook:

 London University atheist leader forced to resign


19th January 2012

A row has erupted over an atheist society at a top London University posting a cartoon sketch featuring the prophet Muhammad having a drink with Jesus on its Facebook page.

A student Muslim group is demanding the 'offensive' image of Jesus and Mo having a drink at the bar, taken from an online satirical sketch, be removed from the social networking site.

The president of the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society at the prestigious University College London (UCL), Robbie Yellon, has stepped down over the controversy.

Controversy: A student atheist group at the University of London (UCL) has sparked a row after posting a cartoon of the prophet Muhammed on its Facebook page

But the Society still refuses to take down the image - claiming its right to defend 'freedom of expression'.

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Secretary for the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies, Michael Paynter,said: 'Robbie stepped aside because he signed up as president to organise events and run a student society.

'He did not appreciate the stress he would be under when dealing with a controversy like this, so he wanted to make way for someone else.'


Elias Skourletos: 'Jesus and Mohammed are just historic figures such as Churchill and Hitler and we have every right to express our opinions on them.' (Comment on Atheist Society's Facebook page).

Martin Foreman: 'The right to offend is essential in a free society and must be defended.' (Comment on Atheist Society's Facebook page).

Richard of York: 'The thought that saying nothing won't cause offence, offends me.' (Comment on Richard Dawkins website).

Richard Dawkins: 'This sums up the gentle inoffensiveness of Jesus & Mo. Inoffensive, that is, to all who aren't out there eagerly scouting for offence opportunities.' (Comment on Richard Dawkins website).

Rational Conclusion: 'You cannot put regulations on things that offend because offence is subjective. A person can be offended by damn near anything. If we went about putting a halt to things that people find offensive we'd have almost nothing left.' (Comment on Richard Dawkins website).

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association's protest against the photo has been backed by UCL's Union.

A UCL Union statement said: 'The atheist society has agreed they will take more consideration when drawing up publicity for future events.

'The society was asked to remove the image because UCLU aims to foster good relations between different groups of students and create a safe environment where all students can benefit from societies regardless of their religious or other beliefs.'

The image that started the controversy was taken from an online twice-weekly satirical comic strip, called Jesus and Mo, and has been running since 2005.

The Association aims to continue its protest until the image is taken down - claiming it is offensive and has wider implications.

The association's national spokesperson, Adam Walker, said the two student groups had worked well together in the past and said the offence was unnecessary.

He said: 'The principle is more important than who is being attacked - this time it is Muslims and Christians but in the future it could be atheists themselves.

'The principle is more important than who is being attacked - this time it is Muslims and Christians but in the future it could be atheists themselves.

'There is no need to print these things other than to cause offence and history has told us that these things cause offence.'

He added: 'I wouldn't say we're specifically pursuing UCL atheist society, it's more about the broader principle.'

The row has prompted debate on the internet with prominent academic and author Richard Dawkins backing the atheist society.

A spokesman for UCL said: 'A situation has arisen surrounding publication by the UCLU  Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society on its Facebook page of a cartoon entitled Jesus and Mo, representing Jesus and Muhammad sitting in a pub.

'A number of complaints about the cartoon have been received by UCLU from UCL students.

'UCL believes that managing the conduct of student societies is primarily a matter for the UCL Union and not the university centrally.

'We understand that the Union has asked the Society to take the cartoon down, and this request has been refused.'

This is not the first time a comic strip has caused large-scale controversy.

In 2005, cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed published by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten sparked world-wide controversy.

The newspaper claimed the publication was an attempt to contribute to the debate regarding criticism of Islam and self-censorship.

But Danish Muslim organisations that objected to the depictions, describing them as Islamophobic or racist, responded by holding public protests attempting to raise awareness of Jyllands-Posten's publication.

Further examples of the cartoons were soon reprinted in newspapers in more than 50 other countries, further deepening the controversy.

This led to Islamic protests across the Muslim world, some of which escalated into violence, including the bombing of the Danish embassy in Pakistan and setting fire to the Danish Embassies in Syria, Lebanon and Iran, storming European buildings, and burning the Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, French and German flags in Gaza City.

Read more:


Suicide attack kills seven at Kandahar airport

KANDAHAR: A suicide bomber killed at least seven people and wounded eight on Thursday in an attack at Kandahar International Airport in war-torn southern Afghanistan, officials said.

Women and children were among the casualties and pools of blood and body parts were scattered around the burned-out wreckage of six vehicles at the scene of the attack, an AFP reporter said.

Full Report At:\01\20\story_20-1-2012_pg7_4


Four French troops die in Afghanistan shooting

Most French soldiers in Afghanistan are deployed in Kapisa province and the neighbouring district of Surobi

Four French troops have been killed in northern Afghanistan after a soldier from the Afghan National Army opened fire, local officials say.

Sixteen more members of the French armed forces were injured in the incident in the Tagab district of Kapisa province, north of Kabul.

The Afghan soldier has been arrested by the French.

President Nicolas Sarkozy said France was suspending its training programmes in Afghanistan following the attack.

According to AFP, the president said that the question of an early French withdrawal from the country is being considered.

An Afghan official told the BBC: "This is a tragic incident, a sad and tragic day for us and for Nato."

Full Report At:


Religious groups discuss links between religious freedom and human rights


Representatives from six of the world's religions will gather Jan. 29 at the University of Victoria to discuss the links between religious freedom and human rights.

Speakers from the communities of Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Sikhism will gather for the afternoon.

Event organizer Ahmadiyya Muslim Rizwan Peerzada said notions of terrorism and killing have no place in any of the world's religions, which are all based on human love and compassion.

Full Report At:


Salman Rushdie not to attend Jaipur Literature Festival

Akhilesh Kumar Singh

Jan 20, 2012

NEW DELHI: Salman Rushdie will not attend the Jaipur Literature Festival due to securiy reasons, organisers of the festival said on Friday, after protests from some Muslim groups who called for the controversial author to be banned from entering the country.

Rushdie has got intelligence reports from Mumbai and Rajasthan police that assassins might attack him during his India visit.

The Satanic Verses author said, "For the last several days I have made no public comment about my proposed trip to the Jaipur Literary Festival at the request of the local authorities in Rajasthan, hoping that they would put in place such precautions as might be necessary to allow me to come and address the Festival audience in circumstances that were comfortable and safe for all."

Full Report At:


'Tolerance of extremists detrimental to Pakistan'

January 19, 2012

Islamabad: The Pakistani Taliban killing of a journalist working for an American radio network will have repercussions for the safety of newspersons, said a leading daily that also questioned the "state's tolerance of extremist groups..."

Dawn said in an editorial on Thursday that Pakistani Taliban's claim that they killed Mohmand Agency newsperson Mukarram Khan Atif adds a serious dimension to the issue of journalists' safety.

While "media persons, especially in the northwest, have often received veiled threats from militants, this is the first time that an extremist group has openly claimed responsibility for the death of a journalist".

It said that the active targeting of newspersons by the Taliban will have repercussions for the safety of journalists reporting on militancy.

"It will also mean that large parts of the northwest could well become a news blackout zone, with serious consequences particularly in the context of abuses that may never come to light," the editorial added.

Full Report At:


JuD claims Imran Khan will attend its 'Defence of Pakistan' rally

Thu Jan 19 2012

The Jamaat-ud-Dawah, blamed for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, has said cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan will attend its "Defence of Pakistan" rally to be held in Multan on January 29.

Top JuD leaders said the "Defa-e-Pakistan" gathering would also be attended by Jamaat-e-Islami chief Munawar Hassan and Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and leaders of other religious and political parties.

The JuD leaders claimed these leaders had confirmed their presence at the rally. The leaders made the claim while addressing a gathering in Multan city of Punjab province yesterday.

Full Report At:


Youth lift veil on Muslim myths

Jan 19, 2012

By Desmond Devoy

Saadat Ahmad, left, and Bilal Khokhar stand beside displays, ready for questions, during a public open house hosted by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association at the Perth and District Union Library on Saturday, Jan. 14, as part of a national tour.

EMC News - Jesus Christ is mentioned more times by name in The Holy Koran than is the name of the Prophet Mohammad.

While it isn't a numbers' game - though Jesus is mentioned by name 20 times to Mohammad's four - it is an example of just how many well-known figures from The Holy Bible also feature in The Holy Koran as well.

Full Report At:


Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood mixes pragmatism, ideology on Israel peace

Egypt Brothers mix pragmatism, ideology on Israel


 Jan 18, 2012

The Muslim Brotherhood is trying to maneuver its way between its fierce anti-Israel ideology and the realities of governing as it ascends to leadership in Egypt for the first time in its history and faces the key question of how to deal with the country's peace treaty with the Jewish state.

FILE- In this Sunday, May 5, 2010 file photo, Mahmoud Ezzat, a top Muslim Brotherhood leader, left, and Mohammed Badie, leader of Muslim Brotherhood leave a press conference in Cairo, Egypt. Israel for...   (Associated Press)

In this Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 photo, Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood party's leader, speaks at a press conference in Cairo, Egypt. Israel for the Muslim Brotherhood organization, the Egyptian mother...   (Associated Press)

Full Report At:


Grand Mufti bans pastor from Valley

Mir Ehsan

Fri Jan 20 2012

Srinagar : Mufti Bashir-ud-din, the government-appointed Grand Mufti who heads the Islamic Shariah court, has imposed a lifetime ban on the entry of a pastor and three other missionaries into the state. The Shariah court said they have been found “guilty” of converting Kashmiri Muslims to Christianity.

The state government is, however, silent on the legality of the Shariah court. “I have to check whether the Shariah court can impose ban on entry of missionaries,” said Law Secretary Ghulam Hassan Tantray.

Full Report At:


Cameroon region concerned about Islamist militants

By Tapang Ivo Tanku

January 19, 2012

Maroua, Cameroon (CNN) -- The governor of Cameroon's Far North Region on Thursday said threats posed by militant Islamist group Boko Haram were "very critical."

Speaking in Mokolo, Gov. Joseph Beti Assomo told reporters that all senior state security officials, divisional heads and religious leaders have been put on the alert.

Some 600 soldiers in the Far North region have been ordered out of their barracks and strategically deployed in localities close to the border with Nigeria, he added.

Cameroon's regional governments have intensified rigorous checks after Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan ordered border closures with some neighboring countries, including Cameroon, due to threats from the Boko Haram. Residents in the Far North capital of Maroua have been reporting to police a growing number of strangers and unusual occurrences.

Full Report At:


Senators concerned over poor law and order in Balochistan

By Ijaz Kakakhel

ISLAMABAD: The Upper House of Parliament on Thursday expressed dissatisfaction over deteriorating law and order situation in Balochistan as senators claimed that it had been totally cut off with rest of the country.

On a point of order, Balochistan senators Mir Wali Muhammad Badini, Rehmatullah Kakar, Abudur Rahim Mandokhel and Dr Abdul Malik told the House that all the business activities had come to a grinding halt in the province, adding that no one could move into Balochistan where jungle rule prevailed and no one was there to stop it. They regretted that the law enforcing agencies had failed to arrest even a single person involved in criminal activities where people were being pulled off from public transport, robbed, disgraced and killed.

Full Report At:\01\20\story_20-1-2012_pg7_2


OIC concerned about the rise of Islamophobia in western politics

Jan 20, 2012

JEDDAH: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Thursday expressed alarm over the anti-Islam rhetoric coming out as the US presidential elections race heats up as well as over the recent results of parliamentary elections in some European countries.

“The rise in Islamophobia in Western politics is a great concern for the OIC,” said Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the OIC.

Full Report At:


Iran’s “nude revolutionary” Farahani says image is symbolic

Joseph Mayton

20 January 2012

Golshifteh Farahani

CAIRO: Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani has left much of the Islamic world in an uproar over her nude image in a French magazine, which she then posted on Facebook. The actress has spoken out, saying she wanted to make a symbolic gesture about nudity and sex.

“This video clip is a symbolic gesture to remove the common taboos that exist in various societies and does not aim to promote nudity or sex,” a Facebook statement from her said. “By taking part in these photo shoots the people taking part wish to demonstrate their redemtion from these taboos by the way they act and talk.

“The objective is to liberate their soul and bodies at the same time. As long as an individual has no power iver her or his body and their soul does not have the command of the way they wish to think, then they do not have a true freedom.

“Although I do not think looking at the nude photo of another human may have an attraction, but it is certainly far more enjoyable than looking at the fully covered and burqa and hejab wearing body of a woman who has been wrapped and imprisoned by her man. So much for not looking at women as sex symbols as the fundamentalists want us to believe!” she added.

Full Report At:


Thu Jan 19, 2012

Islamic scholar a voice for reform

Louay Safi, a scholar of the Middle East and Islam, is scheduled to be a guest lecturer at Methodist University.

By Chick Jacobs

Methodist University's annual Womack Lecture series strives to leave people thinking about religion in daily life.

This year's speaker will offer insight into what happens when fundamentally different faiths meet on a daily basis.

Louay Safi, a scholar of Islam and the Middle East, will discuss the cultural challenges in a world where Christianity and Islam collide.

His talks are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday.

His morning lecture looks at the Christian-Muslim encounter, followed by man's enduring connection to the divine in the afternoon.

Womack Lecture spokesman Steven Brey said the topics are crucial, given the state of unrest in the Middle East.

Full Report At:


Norway’s intel chief resigns over Pakistan gaffe

Friday, January 20, 2012

OSLO: The head of Norway’s Intelligence Service (PST), widely criticised after the July 22 attacks last year, has resigned after hinting the country has agents in Pakistan, the justice ministry announced on Thursday. Her remarks had led the Pakistani foreign ministry to summon Norway’s ambassador in Islamabad on Thursday, Norwegian paper of reference Aftenposten reported on its website. “PST chief Janne Kristiansen has informed me that she is resigning from her post effective immediately,” Justice Minister Grete Faremo told reporters. “The reason is that a possible breach of her duty to maintain confidentiality has been observed through the revelation of classified information,” she added, describing the facts of the case as “extremely serious.” She was temporarily replaced by her deputy, Roger Berg. Kristiansen, a lawyer, was appointed as head of the PST in September 2009. The minister was referring to Kristiansen’s appearance on Wednesday before a parliamentary committee during which she revealed that Norway’s military intelligence, the E Service, had agents in Pakistan.

Full Report At:\01\20\story_20-1-2012_pg7_3


‘Peace talks between Pakistan, Taliban faltering’

ISLAMABAD: Exploratory peace talks between Pakistan and Al Qaeda-linked Taliban insurgents have made little progress, a senior security official told Reuters on Thursday. The official said the group, seen as the biggest security threat to the strategic US ally, had flatly rejected a demand that it works through tribal elders to reach a deal whereby fighters approach authorities and lay down their arms.

Full Report At:\01\20\story_20-1-2012_pg7_6


Somalia crisis: Dawn offensive against al-Shabab

Pro-government forces have launched a major dawn offensive in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, to seize territory from al-Shabab Islamist militants.

Some 1,000 soldiers backed up by 20 tanks captured three al-Shabab bases, a senior security official said.

A BBC correspondent in the city says it is the biggest joint government-African Union offensive since August 2011.

Al-Shabab is under attack on several fronts, with troops from Kenya and Ethiopia also gaining ground recently.

Full Report At:


Save Urdu from narrow-minded politics

Murli Manohar Joshi

Jan 19, 2012

(This article by the former BJP president was originally written in Urdu. To see the Hindi and Urdu versions of the article, please click here)

There can be no dispute that Urdu is an easy and sweet language. But many people are under the wrong impression that it is the language of a particular religion or community. Sometimes, because of this ignorance, Urdu is dragged into vote-bank politics. This causes great damage to the language. The fact is, Urdu was born in India and after the immigration of people from foreign lands, it became the official language of the Mughal court. A large number of Urdu words are still used at our police stations and courts. Urdu words like "abodana", "zila", "daftar" and "haqeeqat" have been assimilated as everyday words into various Indian languages.

Full Report At:


Activist Hashmi, 5 others detained in Godhra as Narendra Modi’s 'Sadbhavana' fast begins

jan 20, 2012

GODHRA: Shabnam Hashmi, the founder trustee of NGO Anhad and five other activists were detained by Gujarat police on Friday when they tried to enter Godhra, where chief minister Narendra Modi is camping for his 23rd Sadbhavana fast.

Hashmi's NGO had organised a programme 'In Search Of Justice', parallel to Modi's show in Godhra, the ground zero of Gujarat riots of 2002. Hashmi had organised the programme to protest Sadbhavana fast.

Even as Modi's sat on the day-long fast, Hashmi's vehicle was intercepted on Ahmedabad-Godhra highway about eight kilometres from Godhra near Doctor na muvaada area at 10 am. The six activists were taken to Kheda police station later. The activist had sent out SMSes to media persons late on Thursday night expressing apprehensions of her possible arrest.

Full Report At:


Downgrading Iranian-British relations: the anatomy of a folly

Maysam Behravesh, 19 January 2012

About the author

Maysam Behravesh is an Assistant Editor of the journal Asian Politics & Policy (APP) and the Iranian Studies Editor of the international politics website E-International Relations (E-IR). He holds a postgraduate degree in British Studies from the Faculty of World Studies (FWS), University of Tehran, Iran.

Iran trudged into 2012 under unsettling circumstances. Severe international sanctions have already been taking their toll on its economy while a combination of sabotage activities, targeted killings, and covert operations against Iranian military initiatives and figures are bedeviling its national security. The controversy surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme has never be so fierce in the international community since its disclosure in August 2002, and pertinently enough, the spectre of war has never hovered so closely over the country since the end of cataclysmic Iran-Iraq conflict in 1988.

Full Report At:


Rushdie likely to keep away; Muslim groups drop protest plan


Muslim groups, opposed to the scheduled visit of the controversial author Salman Rushdie to the Jaipur Literature Festival starting here on Friday, withdrew their decision to stage a protest.

The dramatic development came late on Thursday evening after Congress MP from Jaipur Mahesh Joshi met Muslim leaders in the Musaffir Khana and assured them of “keeping Mr. Rushdie away” throughout the festival period.

The Muslim leaders told The Hindu that Jaipur's Deputy Commissioner of Police Ashok Naruka too visited the Musaffir Khana to inform them that the author would not be coming to the city.

Full Report At:


Iran reissues death sentence for Canada resident: lawyer

Iranian court upholds Web programmer's death sentence

by Dara Kerr 

January 19, 2012

Saeed Malekpour's Facebook page photo.

The execution of Iranian Web programmer Saeed Malekpour may be imminent.

The death sentence of Malekpour, who was convicted of "insulting and desecrating Islam" for developing software used by porn sites, was confirmed this week by Iran's Supreme Court. The software that Malekpour developed enables photos to be uploaded online and, according to Amnesty International, was used by a porn site without his knowledge.

Malekpour, 35, was a permanent resident of Canada when he was arrested during a visit to Iran in October 2008. According to The Guardian, after spending more than a year in solitary confinement in Tehran's Evin Prison without access to a lawyer, Malekpour confessed on state television that he was connected to a porn site.

Based on these TV confessions, an Iranian court sentenced Malekpour to death in October 2010 for "designing and moderating adult materials online." After the Iranian Supreme Court later reviewed the case, Malekpour's death sentence was upheld in November 2011, according to Amnesty International.

During this time, Malekpour rescinded his confessions in a letter he sent from prison that said that he was physically and psychologically tortured and was promised an immediate release if he gave a false confession.

Full Report At:


Head of Azerbaijani opposition party seeks a common ideology

19 January 2012

Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan.19

The chairman of the opposition Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA) believes that an association of small parties to large ones is important, providing they have a common ideology.

"Parties with a common ideology which differs only by name, should unite," chairman of Democratic Party Sardar Jalaloglu told Trend.

Mr Jalaloglu noted that if one small and one large party differ on ideological beliefs, then their union is impossible. Thus, the ideological similarities should be taken as a main factor.

"There should be parties with a different ideology in society, no matter how big or small they are. For example, if we combine the entire world's parties on ideological orientation, then four groups will be defined.

Full Report At:


Women's Bodies Are Still the Subject of Dispute


Muslim Women ,   Iran , Golshifteh Farahani , Goshifteh Farahani , Iranian Women , Hijab , Iran Actress Naked , Iranian Actress , Veil , Women's Bodies , World News

The Iranian actress Goshifteh Farahani has recently posed naked in a French short film alongside a few up-and-coming French artists. In the film, Corps et Âmes (Body and Soul), the actors undressed as a symbol of emancipation from social restrictions. Screenshots from the film were also published on Madame website in which Golshifteh poses topless, with her hands covering her breasts. The photo was removed just one day after being posted; it's likely that the onslaught of negative reactions forced the website to re-think its original decision. However, the photo is still available on the following website here.

Farahani was born in 1983 in Tehran. She started studying and playing piano when she was only five years old. When she turned 12, she was admitted to the Vienna Conservatory, which she refused to attend. Her debut in acting was at age 14, when she starred in Derakht-e Golabi (Pear Tree), which brought her the Crystal Simurgh, the most prestigious film award in Iran. Later she became the first young Iranian actress to play in an American film. In Body of Lies, she played Aisha, starring alongside Leonardo Di Caprio.

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Fear, distrust of Muslims predates 9/11, expert says                

That was the analysis of Edward E. Curtis IV, an expert on U.S.-Muslim relations who opened the spring lecture series at Washington University's John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics Wednesday with a talk entitled "Muslim-American Dissent and U.S. Politics Before and After 9/11."

While the attacks on the World Trade Center and other sites certainly threw a special spotlight on Muslims in the United States, Curtis said that the notion of Muslim-American dissent as a threat to national security is far from new.

"Framing it in that way impoverishes our national conversation," said Curtis, a professor of religious studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Concentrating on two periods in 20th-century American history -- from the 1920s to World War II, and the post-war era to the 1960s -- Curtis showed how a focus on and a fear of dissent by black Muslims shifted to attention primarily on brown-skinned Muslims with Asian-American roots.

What Curtis called the Islamophobic stereotype of Muslims as violent, misogynist and backward has not always been the norm in American history, he said. As far back as the administration of John Quincy Adams, for example, Muslim Americans were seen as being in tune with American interests.

"How did domestic Muslims go from being friendly foreigners to dangerous dissenters?" he asked.

The answer begins in the period after World War I, when fear spread that immigrants of color would spread political diseases like Bolshevism in the United States. Frightening scenarios of American people of color united with those abroad helped fan prejudice and repression, Curtis said.

In the period between the world wars, an Islamic appeal for social equality struck an ecumenical note. The growth of black Muslim-American movements paralleled the increased activity by and influence of groups like the Ku Klux Klan, as a religious and political response to colonialism and racism.

Such movements, Curtis said, led to concern in Washington, with the FBI becoming increasingly active in trying to infiltrate and suppress groups seen as hostile to U.S. interests. African-American leaders, including some who spoke in messianic terms of a Japanese invasion of the West Coast that would liberate oppressed people, led to arrests of leaders including Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam, on charges of sedition.

After World War II, extensive counterintelligence operations grew, as authorities feared an alliance between black Muslims and Arabs that would challenge the liberal promise of the growing civil rights movement. Resistance to U.S. foreign policy, particularly in Vietnam, stoked the tensions even further.

To combat the rise of Muslim-American influence, Curtis said federal agencies experimented with new approaches, such as denying First Amendment protections to Muslim prisoners on the grounds that what they practiced was a cult, not a religion. Americans affiliated with a foreign religion were seen as denying their identity as true Americans.

"Making out the Nation of Islam to be a cult turned out to be difficult in the federal court system," Curtis said, "but they did win in the court of public opinion."

The expanded use of so-called COINTELPRO covert activities, he added, was the pinnacle of the second phase of state repression of African-American Muslims, with 360 separate documented operations, the second-largest thrust of all domestic counter-intelligence efforts.

Today, Curtis said, the public face of Muslim-Americans has changed, with the stereotype being brown, not black. Even before 9/11, the FBI and other agencies worked against what they saw as a transnational terrorist threat. Officials linked Islam and terrorism and portrayed the religion as fundamentally irreconcilable with Western civilization.

The rhetoric of the Bush and Obama administrations has shifted somewhat, he said, in efforts to co-opt Islam for pro-American interests. But at the same time, counter-intelligence operations persisted and greatly intensified after 9/11.

In an atmosphere that Curtis described as a "paranoid society in which rebellious teenage boys are mistaken for terrorists," George W. Bush wiretapped Americans and detained material witnesses and Muslim-American charities were raided and shut down He noted that President Barack Obama has yet to close the Guantanamo detention camp in Cuba.

The challenge today, he concluded, is to create a way that Americans can express disagreement with American policy, and even support for foreign groups, and not become a target of the government. Defining dissent as unacceptable speech constrains efforts to deal productively with Muslim Americans, he said.

"We have got to find the distinction between political dissent and terrorism," Curtis said, adding:

"By talking about our shared past, we also conjure a world of shared significance."


Alabama Considering Anti-Sharia Constitutional Amendment Authored By Radical David Yerushalmi

By Alex Seitz-Wald on

Jan 19, 2012

Alabama, already home to the country’s most radical anti-immigration law, may soon have another overreaching and dubious law targeting a largely invented threat from a minority group. State Sen. Cam Ward (R) introduced an amendment to the state Constitution earlier this month that would to ban Islamic Sharia law in the state.

As the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog notes, Ward’s “American and Alabama Laws for Alabama Courts Amendment” is “clearly drawn from model legislation drafted by anti-Muslim lawyer David Yerushalmi” — a key figure in the Islamophobia network mapped in a recent report from by the Center for American Progress. Who is Yerushalmi? Hatewatch explains:

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Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World promotes peace through art appreciation

Thu Jan 19 2012

If there is one thing that can build bridges between civilizations, religions and people, it is an appreciation of art.

With this premise in mind, the documentary Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World sheds light on the history, context and preservation of artistic traditions within the Islamic world.

“This film covers 1,400 years of art and architecture in the Islamic world, with a particular emphasis on global connections,” said Alex Kronemer, one of the executive producers of the film and of Unity Productions Foundation, the company behind the film making its Toronto premiere at TIFF Bell Lightbox this weekend. It has screened in the U.S. and is slated to air on PBS this summer.

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Indonesian Waria Activist Registers to be Human Rights Commissioner

Dessy Sagita

January 20, 2012

A high-profile member of Indonesia’s large transgender community, Yulianus Rettoblaut, known as Mami Yuli or Mother Yuli, pictured on the right sitting next to other transgender activists, registered on Friday to become a member of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas-Ham). (JG Photo/Dessy Sagita)  

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A high-profile member of Indonesia’s large transgender community has registered to become a member of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas-Ham).

Yulianus Rettoblaut, known as Mami Yuli or Mother Yuli, said on Friday that she was seeking to become a commissioner to fight for the rights to Indonesia’s ‘waria’ community, an Indonesian word taken from wanitia (woman) and pria (man).

Speaking at Komnas-Ham in Central Jakarta, Yuli said she would also fight for the rights of gay and lesbian communities as well as other heavily marginalized groups.

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Rocky U.S.-Pakistan relations highlighted as Islamabad rejects visit from Washington envoy

Jan 18, 2012


By Qasim Nauman

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has rejected U.S. special envoy Marc Grossman’s request to visit the country, a senior official said on Wednesday, highlighting the increased tensions between the uneasy allies.

He did not elaborate on the reasons.

“Ambassador Grossman asked to visit Pakistan but we conveyed to him that it was not possible at the moment,” a senior government official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

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Pakistan PM defends president at Supreme Court

ISLAMABAD—Pakistan's prime minister struck a conciliatory tone in an appearance before the Supreme Court Thursday, trying to cool down a political and legal crisis destabilizing the nuclear-armed country.

The unusual appearance by a head of government before a high court was the latest move in a high-stakes struggle between the civilian regime, the judges and Pakistan's powerful army generals, who have seized power three times since 1947.

At stake is the future of Pakistan's leadership and its ties to the U.S. Relations between the two countries have been strained since last May's unilateral U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

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Pakistan needs changes - expert

Kudashkina Ekaterina

Jan 19, 2012

Interview with Wilson John, Vice-President and Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, India.

You know, it is hard to say that the Prime Minister has picked to the strong stance against serving Army Chief, it is in many ways, in my opinion, unprecedented in Pakistan. That certainly shows – number one – on the face of it there is clear rift between the military leadership and the civilian leadership, but more than that I can also see that the civilian leadership any party it comes from, it holds I think backing upon the kind of public support for the democratic process. Why I’m saying so? Clearly there is no demand from the people for a military rule, so the military rule is clearly in my opinion is not in the interest of the public, and nor the public is interested in a military rule at this stage considering that they have gone through it in 2007 and before that.

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Pakistan Government Acts Decisively to Address CNG Concerns

January 19, 2012

All Pakistan CNG Association (APCNGA) delegation plays pivotal role

Following a long period of turmoil around natural gas supply for vehicle fuel and a string of incidents contentiously associated with compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel systems, a delegation of All Pakistan CNG Association (APCNGA) has met with Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani about CNG load shedding, gas pricing and gas infrastructure development surcharge issues, reports Online. Discussion also covered a natural gas vehicle (NGV) safety check campaign.

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Imran Khan brought pace tsunami trend to Pakistan- Saleem Jaffar             

ISLAMABAD, Jan 19 (APP): Pakistan’s former left-arm fast bowler Saleem Jaffar believes that 1992 winning World Cup captain Imran Khan had brought the fast bowling tsunami trend to Pakistan.In an interview to, Jaffer said, “Khan’s action, his run-up, his bowling style, and the way he controlled pace, was great. After that, the boost that fast bowling got and the fast bowlers began to emerge like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Aaqib Javed, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, was worth appreciation.”

Responding to a question, Jaffer said in our country in the Twenty-20 or one-day cricket, the cricketers play with a white ball and then in other forms, they play with the red ball. “Both balls have a difference in hardness, color coating, sight screen usage, meaning that these are different forms of cricket and so, the players have this load on them and this stress due to fluctuation in cricket is quite difficult.”

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Expel three Christian priests: Kashmir Sharia court

Srinagar : A Sharia court Thursday issued a decree seeking expulsion of three Christian priests from Jammu and Kashmir and monitoring of the activities of Christian missionary schools in the Valley.

Maintaining that the decree of the Sharia (Muslim Personal Law) court was not against the Christians in any manner, Kashmir’s grand mufti Bashir-ud-Din told a media conference here that three priests had been attracting local youth to conversion through monetary allurement.

“The Sharia court has unimpeachable evidence against these three priests who are non-locals. They have been using financial allurement to convert some local youth to Christianity.”

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Bangladesh army says foiled December coup

By Anis Ahmed

Thu Jan 19, 2012

(Reuters) - The Bangladesh army said on Thursday it foiled a coup attempt by retired and serving officers late last month which intelligence sources said was driven by a campaign to introduce Sharia law throughout the majority Muslim country.

Impoverished Bangladesh has a history of coups, with army generals running the South Asian nation for 15 years until the end of 1990.

"Specific information has been unearthed that some officers in military service have been involved in the conspiracy to topple the system of democratic governance," Brigadier General Muhammad Masud Razzaq told reporters.

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Bermuda to be first Western centre for Islamic finance in favourable tax domicile

By Marina Mello

Jan 19, 2012

Bermuda is set to become the first Western centre for Islamic finance in a favourable tax domicile, according to Bermuda executives in an article yesterday by Euromoney.

Executives from the Island have been actively wooing clients in Asia and the Middle East while working on reviewing existing laws to launch a Shariah-compliant platform for investors.

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Islamists look to shake up Egypt stock exchange

Last month, Mahmoud Abbas, a member of the Salafi-led Nour Party, addressed newly elected members of Egypt's lower house of parliament and journalists in a conference at the Egyptian stock exchange, in an effort to reassure investors that markets will be safe under an Islamist-dominated parliament.

“I am an investor in the Egyptian exchange since 1996,” said Abbas, whose party has garnered about a quarter of the seats in the People's Assembly.

But as he spoke, it also became clear that the stock market might be seeing some changes in Egypt’s more Islamic-oriented political environment, such as an Islamic index on the country’s stock exchange.

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To Error and Back Again, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Christopher Hitchens, Part 2

By Ian Hansen

Because Hitchens still writes [1] with an active sense of conscience that runs against the grain of his neoconservative alliances, he continues to have dogged admirers among those who otherwise consider the current Iraq war a crime against humanity and its architects and propagandists (all the other ones) to be war criminals. A good friend of mine, in a heated exchange of many e-mails and many more thousands of words, wrote that "most of what Hitchens writes is a fire that burns fascism." My friend is vehemently against the Iraq war, but I understand why he will not hold Hitchens' pro-war position against him.

My friend is Chilean and a self-proclaimed communist, and he is understandably grateful to Hitchens for successfully taking the truth about U.S. atrocities in Chile to the world.  In the book and documentary The Trials of Henry Kissinger, Hitchens tells the story of the mass murder and torture that the U.S. government unleashed on the people of Chile when the Nixon administration helped to engineer Augusto Pinochet's bloody coup against the democratically-elected Marxist president Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973. Many others have told the story of Pinochet's U.S.-assisted coup, but they were much less successful at penetrating public consciousness. In this, and in many other matters of informing an uninformed public, Christopher Hitchens has done the U.S. and the world a great service.  Unfortunately for Hitchens and for all of us, however, The Trials of Henry Kissinger is no longer the first thing that comes to mind when we think of his name.

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Are Muslims under fire here in Queens?

January 19, 2012

by Kevin Korber, Chronicle

Queens is known for its diversity, but a recent incident is bringing back questions about discrimination in the borough.

Ray Laizer Lengend of Queens Village was arrested in connection with firebomb attacks on four buildings in Jamaica, two of which were mosques. According to a statement issued by the Queens District Attorney’s Office, Lengend allegedly said that he wanted to “take out as many Muslims and Arabs as possible.”

Imam Maan Al-Sahlani, who leads the Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center at 89-89 Van Wyck Expy., said that the attack on his center was a shock.

“We’ve been in the community for 20 years, and we’ve never had any problems with anyone in the community. People in the neighborhood have been very supportive, especially now,” Al-Sahlani said.

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Muslim world supports President - Acting minister


President Mahinda Rajapaksa enjoys wide support in the Muslim world, acting Environment Minister Abdul Cader said yesterday.

He told the media that there was substantial backing among Muslim nations towards Sri Lanka due to the respect and confidence they had in the President and added that this support was expanding.

"This augurs well for the country's development and international relations," he said.

Cader said that the President's stand on the Palestine issue, among others, had won him respect and admiration in the Muslim world.

"This growing support to the President and the government by Islamic states is evident by the visit of many such leaders to the country in recent times including the recent visit of the Emir of Qatar," he added.

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Egyptian scholar says Islamist win is just a blip

Jan 20, 2012

CAIRO // When it comes to the political turmoil in Egypt, Gamal Al Banna is anything but short-sighted.

Indeed, the 91-year-old younger brother of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood sees developments through the lens of the 30,000 volumes of Islamic theory and world history that line the walls of his office near Bab Al Sheariya Square in downtown Cairo.

Looking elfin in a Moroccan hood and scarf behind a desk stacked with paper, he said the success of Islamist groups in parliamentary elections - the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Freedom and Justice Party won roughly 45 per cent of the seats in the lower house - was but a blip in Egyptian history.

"I'm completely unhappy with their victory, but it is not a major historic moment," he said dismissively. "They are living in a different time than our contemporary one. I think they will fail to deliver a better society."

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Has no intention of taking action against Kayani: Pak govt

Friday, January 20, 2012

Islamabad, Jan 20: The Pakistan government has no intention of taking any action against army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the country's top law officer informed the Supreme Court today against the backdrop of a standoff between the civil administration and the military.

Attorney General Anwar-ul-Haq informed a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry of the government's position while responding to a petition that had asked the apex court to restrain the civilian administration from taking any action against the army chief.

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