Premarital sex rising in
The Woman the Mullahs Fear
The Myth of Israeli Retaliation by Dan Freeman-Maloy
Iran Nobel laureate accused of Israeli bias-activist
UNCASVILLE: Muslim inmate files suit over lack of halal meat
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Taliban’s new dictum: Marry daughters to militants or else!
Agencies Posted: Jan 02, 2009 at 1427 hrs IST
The new force-marriage campaign is being run in most of the areas in the
The new forced-marriage campaign is being run in most of the areas in the
This new force-marriage campaign is being run in most of the areas in the
Such instances have come to light recently through some of the affected women daring to go to authorities for justice rather than meekly surrender to the militants dictates.
Salma, who teaches in a primary school in Peshawar, told the influential ‘Dawn’ newspaper that Taliban have told families to declare in mosques if they have unmarried girls so that their hand could be given in marriage, most probably to militants.
If they did not do so, the girls would be forcibly married off; the newspaper quoted the 30-year-old widow as saying.
She also said the Taliban in the Swat valley of NWFP have threatened women with dire punishment, if they are found outside their homes without identity cards and a male relative accompanying them.
Couples should also carry 'Nikah Nama' or marriage certificates with them when they venture out of home or they will be in trouble, she said.
"I have heard that Taliban have announced that if a girl above the age of seven is found outside her house, she would be slaughtered," Salma said.
Once an avid listener of Pakistani Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah's FM radio station, Salma doesn't tune in to the channel any more.
"Usually there is only dreadful news on the radio, so I stopped listening to it," said Salma, who has three sons.
Fazlullah, also known as Mullah Radio for the fiery sermons he broadcasts on his illegal FM station, leads a campaign by Taliban militants to enforce Shariat or Islamic law in Swat.
Fazlullah's followers have blown up or torched over 100 girls' schools in Swat and barred women from going to markets.
The Taliban's recent decision to completely ban girls' education from January 15 has upset Salma and her colleagues because most of them are the sole bread-winners of their families.
"My colleagues were crying when they heard this bad news. Some have aged and handicapped parents while others have lost their male members in the ongoing conflict," she said.
"Our principal has said that all female teachers should write down the domestic problems forcing them to work so that they could be forwarded to Taliban, who would be requested to review their policy about women's education," Salma said.
Women who go out for work, especially social work, are tagged as immoral and eliminated by militants controlling the area, he said.
Bakht Zeba, a 45-year-old woman councillor who was a staunch supporter of girls' education, was murdered on November 25. She was first threatened by Taliban to stop her activities or face dire consequences. When she did not pay heed to the warnings, the Taliban shot her dead in her house.
SWAT, 1 January 2009 (IRIN) - “They [Taliban] are savages and we’re like a helpless herd, with no one to protect us,” said Sikander Ali, father of four girls, speaking to IRIN on the phone from Swat valley.
He was reacting to news that militants had ordered a ban on girls’ education from 15 January.
Swat valley (in the North West Frontier Province), which has a population of 1.8 million and lies some 150km northeast of Peshawar, has been a hotbed of Islamist militancy for the past two years.
Ali, a government official, had heard the recent warning by Shah Dauran, deputy leader of the Tehrik-e-Taliban
“He said we must take our daughters out of all schools - private or public - by 15 January 2009 at the latest. Failing this, he said the schools will be bombed and violators would face death. He also said they will throw acid into the faces of our daughters if we don’t comply, like their counterparts did in
“It is feared that the extremists will carry out their threats,” said Ibrash Pasha, provincial coordinator of the Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE).
If this happens an estimated 40,000 girls will be kept out of school, said Dawn newspaper.
For now the schools are on winter vacation until February.
However, following the TTP threats, the private school Ali’s daughter goes to has re-opened and resumed classes for Grade 12 “so that they can complete as much coursework as they can by 15 January, as they have to sit for their board examination in April,” the father said.
Against Western education
“We have nothing against girls going to school,” said Muslim Khan, a spokesman of the TTP, speaking to IRIN from an undisclosed location in Swat.
“What we are saying is that the education being given to our daughters in these schools is Western and not in keeping with the teachings of Islam. It is only making us wayward,” said Khan, who studied till 12th grade and confessed to having no Koranic teaching.
“Before they become engineers and teachers and doctors, these young people must be trained for jihad,” said the 54-year-old TTP spokesperson.
“We have never bombed schools and never threatened to kill girls who defy our orders. We have also said that primary schools can remain open as long as the girls and female teachers observe `purdah’ [cover their bodies].”
“He is lying; it’s double-speak,” said Hazir Gul, who runs Swat Participatory Council, a health NGO. “Their leaders have often given interviews to the media celebrating the bombing of schools.”
“If they are allowing girls to study in primary schools, this is a new development; it seems this is a U-turn,” said Ali.
An appeal by the Private School Owner’s Association appeared in local newspaper Shumaal on 29 December asking the TTP to reconsider their ban.
It said the association had in the past always cooperated with all the demands of the TTP regarding `purdah’. It had segregated male and female students, changed boys uniforms from trousers and shirt to `shalwar kameeze’, and made changes in the curriculum in keeping with Islamic teachings.
“Convincing parents to send their children, especially the girl-child, to school was already an uphill task. Years of hard work put into mobilising rural communities to educate their girls has come to nought. This fear will give them an excuse to keep their girls at home or make them work in the fields or for cattle-rearing,” said the PCE’s Pasha.
Ali said the whole community is scared stiff: “They just kill you on the slightest pretext, and make an example of you. No one dares disobey them,” said Ali.
He said neither the police nor the army intervenes or protects them; people feel completely isolated and unprotected.
In the past year education has been severely disrupted in the valley. There have been unannounced curfews, schools have been blown up or set on fire. The worst example was the attack on
Herald, a monthly newsmagazine, reported in August 2008 that there were 566 girls’ schools in Swat, including four government higher secondary schools, 22 high schools, 51 middle schools and 489 primary schools. Of these, 131 have either been set alight or closed, rendering 17,200 girls school-less.
In the past year over 150 schools (most of them girls’ schools), were destroyed - albeit when the pupils were absent.
Premarital sex rising in
Robert Tait, Agencies
Rising numbers of Iranians are spurning marriage and having sex illegally outside wedlock,
A survey by the national youth organisation found that more than one in four men aged 19 to 29 had experienced sex before marriage. About 13% of such cases resulted in unwanted pregnancies that led to abortions. Sex outside marriage and abortion are outlawed under
The survey also revealed that the average marrying age had risen to 40 for men and 35 for women, a blow to the government’s goal of promoting marriage to shore up society’s Islamic foundations.
The statistics were disclosed by the national youth organisation’s social-cultural deputy, Ali Alkbar Asarnia, at a conference celebrating family values. Asarnia said
The government has already tried to boost the marriage rate, which had an unprecedented 1.2% decline in 2005. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has introduced a $1.1bn “Reza love fund” — named after one of Shia Islam’s 12 imams — to provide marriage loans. Plans have been announced to establish marriage bureaux to help people find partners.
Many blame economic circumstances for their failure to marry, citing high inflation, unemployment and a housing shortage along with cultural traditions that expect brides’ families to provide dowries and husbands to commit themselves to mehrieh, an agreed cash gift.
The Woman the Mullahs Fear
January 1, 2009
Men hold all of the meaningful levers of political power in
Ms. Ebadi, a lawyer and her country’s leading human rights activist, is the first Muslim woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize. On Monday, the authorities stormed her private office, seizing her computers and her clients’ documents. A week earlier, they closed her Centre for Defenders of Human Rights, a coalition of human rights groups and other activists whose members had planned to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
When she was awarded the peace prize in 2003, the Nobel committee called Ms. Ebadi “a courageous person” for standing up against
With presidential elections scheduled for June, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his allies apparently decided they could not risk letting Ms. Ebadi continue the work she has done with distinction (and without pay) for the past 15 years — exposing government violations of human rights and defending human rights and democracy activists.
No doubt the authorities were unhappy with a report produced by her centre that was cited recently by the United Nations’ secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, when the General Assembly approved a nonbinding resolution condemning
The Myth of Israeli Retaliation
Dan Freeman-Maloy, December 31, 2008
With the Palestinian death toll from
Noting that "success or failure of the media effort can affect the window which the IDF has to fulfil its operational objectives," the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday quoted former Israeli ambassador Dan Gillerman expressing his satisfaction on the diplomatic front. "We haven't seen dramatic condemnations [from world leaders], only the expected and generic calls for calm and ceasefire." (Though UN General Assembly president Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann has been a laudable exception to this rule.) While the Post attributed "this welcome window" to "a new culture of coordination among the agencies responsible for managing
Meanwhile, within the Israeli political system, the prospect of an escalating slaughter of Palestinians is meeting scattered opposition, mostly on logistical and diplomatic grounds. Still, the logic of the Israeli elections cycle is pushing in the direction of greater violence, and war planners are reportedly incorporating into their calculations strong calls from the Hebrew press for Israeli forces to abandon "restraint" and broaden operations. Indeed, one needn't look further than the liberal Israeli daily Ha'aretz to encounter crass appreciation of the violence. Yoel Marcus writes unapologetically that "I will not conceal my enjoyment of the flames and smoke rising from
"Their bloody provocations against
If it were not for its endless, mindless repetition, this nonsense wouldn't deserve a moment's attention. But the farce of "Palestinian provocation/Israeli retaliation" presently frames not only mainstream news coverage, but also the official diplomatic statements emanating from the
Under these circumstances, it is worth recalling some very basic information about
Consider the description provided by the late Canadian Lt.-Gen. E.L.M. Burns, chief of staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization from 1954-1956, who in this capacity was responsible for monitoring
"The Strip is about forty kilometres long, and averages eight and a quarter kilometres in width; thus it contains about 330 square kilometres [360 is currently the accepted figure]. There are about 310,000 Arab residents in the Strip, 210,000 of them refugees from the southern parts of
"One does not see people starving or dying of disease in the streets; nevertheless the Gaza Strip resembles a vast concentration camp, shut off by the sea, the border between Palestine and the Sinai near Rafah, which the Egyptians will not permit them to cross, and the Armistice Demarcation Line which they cross in peril of being shot by Israelis or imprisoned by the Egyptians. They can look east and see wide fields, once Arab land, cultivated extensively by a few Israelis, with a chain of kibbutzim guarding the heights or the areas beyond. It is not surprising that they look with hatred on those who have dispossessed them."
Five years after this was published, in 1967,
For all their disingenuous diplomatic rhetoric, Israeli planners know full well that the future they are offering Palestinians in
In the short term, it remains unclear for how long Israel will subject this densely populated prison to air strikes and naval bombardment, whether a massive ground invasion will materialize (or perhaps the "localized cleansing operations" advocated by the Marcus article cited above), and just how suffocating a ceasefire arrangement Israel will receive international license to pursue. But the idea that a shift from slaughter back to mere economic suffocation would be a reasonable Israeli concession needs to be forcefully wiped away, or the prospects for the coming period will be horrifically bleak.
In the meantime, as the Palestinian Arab citizens of
At this point, shifting blame to Hamas or other Palestinians for these Israeli atrocities is not just a mistake, it is an alibi. And the fact that it's a common one shouldn't make it any more tolerable.
 E.L.M. Burns, Between Arab and Israeli.
 "Israeli foreign minister addresses Knesset, justifies
Iran Nobel laureate accused of Israeli bias
2 January 2009
Abdulreza Tajik, of the Human Rights Defenders Centre led by Ebadi, said he believed they were student members of the Basij religious militia. The crowd tore down a sign of Ebadi’s law practice and trampled on it, he told Reuters.
Tajik said Ebadi’s rights watchdog centre had condemned violence against Palestinians in the
A Basij leader at an Iranian medical university, Alireza Keighobadi, told the ISNA news agency that members of his organisation had gathered outside Ebadi’s office, which is in the same
“Considering that Shirin Ebadi received her Nobel Peace Prize for the defence of children we came together in front of her office to ask whether the children of Gaza are not children (to be defended),” Keighobadi said.
The incident came a day after the French Foreign Ministry said
The Iranian government raided Ebadi’s law office in
Ebadi has repeatedly criticised
Over the years, Ebadi’s advocacy of human rights has earned her a spell in jail and a stream of threatening letters and telephone calls. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.
By Joe de
“It was a very, very turbulent year for
There was a lot of hope in the beginning that
Looking ahead to 2009, Ryu says, “A lot more uncertainty in
2008 was the year of the pirate off the Somali and
“The pirates certainly have done very, very well in 2008, no doubt about it. The piracy situation -- probably starting February is when
it started garnering some attention and then has steadily escalated throughout 2008 until to a point in September when something like five or six vessels were being hijacked in one single day. And it shocked everybody in the international community. They just didn’t believe that the Somalis would have that kind of sophistication or try to go after these big large vessels…. And when they became successful, then it started making headlines,” she says.
Ships from over 12 countries are now patrolling the waters prowled by Somali pirates, trying to protect shipping routes. But it’s been a lucrative year. Ryu says, “The pirates have garnered something like $120 million or more and that is a tremendous amount for a country that barely can feed itself…. So maybe a thousand pirates are making a tremendous amount of money.”
The VOA correspondent says it’s unclear who’s receiving the money besides the pirates. Observers say some Somali politicians may be involved, as well as Islamist groups. Ryu adds, “It’s the ordinary Somalis themselves who are being left out of this whole process and they are not getting anything.”
Muslim inmate files suit over lack of halal meat
December 31, 2008
Ricardo Collins says officials are denying his right to freedom of religion by failing to provide meat that is "halal," slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law.
The 27-year-old inmate, who is being held at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Centre, filed his lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Dec. 23.
Prison officials declined to comment, citing department policy on pending litigation.
A spokesman says meals served to Muslim prisoners comply with their religious standards, even if they do not contain halal meat.
Collins recently won an appellate court decision granting him a new trial on a murder charge. He had been convicted in Superior Court of killing a man in
Targeting Islamic University
Where's the Academic Outrage Over the Bombing of a University in
NEVE GORDON and JEFF HALPER
December 31, 2008
Not one of the nearly 450 presidents of American colleges and universities who prominently denounced an effort by British academics to boycott Israeli universities in September 2007 have raised their voice in opposition to Israel’s bombardment of the Islamic University of Gaza earlier this week. Lee C. Bollinger, president of
While the extent of the damage to the Islamic University, which was hit in six separate air strikes, is still unknown, recent reports indicate that at least two major buildings were targeted, a science laboratory and the Ladies’ Building, where female students attended classes. There were no casualties, as the university was evacuated when the Israeli assault began on Saturday.
Virtually all the commentators agree that the Islamic University was attacked, in part, because it is a cultural symbol of Hamas, the ruling party in the elected Palestinian government, which
Established in 1978 by the founder of Hamas — with the approval of Israeli authorities — the Islamic University is the first and most important institution of higher education in
Those restrictions became international news last summer when
Notwithstanding the importance of the Islamic University, Israel has tried to justify the bombing. An army spokeswoman told The Chronicle that the targeted buildings were used as "a research and development centre for Hamas weapons, including Qassam rockets. … One of the structures struck housed explosives laboratories that were an inseparable part of Hamas’s research-and-development program, as well as places that served as storage facilities for the organization. The development of these weapons took place under the auspices of senior lecturers who are activists in Hamas."
Islamic University officials deny the Israeli allegations. Yet even if there is some merit in them, it is common knowledge that practically all major American and Israeli universities are engaged in research and development of military applications and receive money from the Pentagon and defence corporations. Weapon development and even manufacturing have, unfortunately, become major projects at universities worldwide — a fact that does not justify bombing them.
By launching an attack on Gaza, the Israeli government has once again chosen to adopt strategies of violence that are tragically akin to the ones deployed by Hamas — only the Israeli tactics are much more lethal. How should academics respond to this assault on an institution of higher education? Regardless of one’s stand on the proposed boycott of Israeli universities, anyone so concerned about academic freedom as to put one’s name on a petition should be no less outraged when
Neve Gordon is chair of the department of politics and government at
Jeff Halper Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and author of An Israeli in