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Islamic World News ( 26 Nov 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Wahhabi teaching on the rise in Bangladesh: Saudi Arabia provides the money

DIFC Forum: Islamic Finance can be a Role Model for the Global Economy

Will Obama Bring Change To Afghanistan, Pakistan?

Islamic Jihad will not stop despite Obama by Walid Phares

Jakarta: ''My Roommate, the Terrorist''

Sarajevo: Group of radical Islamists based in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Doha: A great contribution to Islamic art: Villepin

Terrorists Shift to a Media Battle

Kabul: 10 suspects arrested for acid attack on schoolgirls in S Afghanistan

Muslim Feminist Irshad Manji to Speak at CSUMB by Jessica Lussenhop

U.S. Muslims Taken Aback by a Charity’s Conviction by LAURIE GOODSTEIN

Minister joins Islamic society by Paul Kiwuuwa

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Wahhabi teaching on the rise in Bangladesh: Saudi Arabia provides the money

Saudi Arabia provides the money in Bangladesh: Wahhabi teaching is on the rise Bangladesh faces Islamist fanatics “Pakistan is the breeding ground and the brain and Saudi Arabia provides the money.” Saudi Arabia is a major founder of madrassas and mosques in Bangladesh, for example – and it is no coincide that Wahhabi teaching is on the rise.


By Benedict Rogers

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bangladesh is a country associated more with floods, cyclones and poverty than terrorism or radical Islamism. Indeed, it is a country founded on secular, democratic values and widely regarded as a moderate Muslim state. In recent years, however, militant Islamism has quietly been taking ground – and Bangladesh’s survival as a progressive state is on a knife-edge.

The warning signs have been there for some years, and some commentators have been sounding the alarm. In 2002, Ruth Baldwin wrote a piece in The Nation headlined: “The ‘Talibanisation’ of Bangladesh.” Hiranmay Karlekar wrote Bangladesh: The Next Afghanistan? While Maneeza Hossain’s Broken Pendulum: Bangladesh’s Swing to Radicalism and Ali Riaz’s God Willing: The Politics of Islamism in Bangladesh are all important contributions.

Perhaps the most visible and dramatic sign of the growth of extremism came three years ago. On 17 August 2005, between 11 and 11.30 am, 527 bombs were exploded in a massive attack on all but one of the country’s 64 districts. Such a carefully co-ordinated campaign of terror shocked the nation – but in many respects it was just the tip of the terror iceberg. Other terrorist incidents, including an attack on the Bangladeshi-born British High Commissioner, members of the judiciary and sporadic attacks on religious and ethnic minorities are further indicators of the presence of well-organised terrorist networks.

However, it is not simply the acts of violence that should cause concern. The Islamists’ ideological influence has spread to almost all parts of Bangladeshi society – not least the political arena.

The umbrella organisation is Jamaat-e-Islami, a radical group founded in India in 1941 by Mawlana Abul Ala Maududi. According to one analyst in Bangladesh, Jamaat’s objective is to create “a monolithic Islamic state, based on Shari’ah law, and declare jihad against Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and free-thinking Muslims.” Religious minorities – and Muslims regarded by Jamaat as heretical, such as the Ahmadiyya sect – are targeted for eviction, according to one human rights activist, “or at least to be made into a ‘non-existent’ element whose voice cannot be heard.”

Jamaat’s tentacles now reach into major sectors, including banking, health care, education, business and non-profit organisations, and they aim to “destroy” the judicial system, according to one critic, including by “physically eliminating judges.” In 2001, Jamaat won 17 parliamentary seats in alliance with the governing party, the Bangladesh National Party (BNP), and became a partner in the coalition government until its overthrow by the military in 2007. Elections scheduled for next month could result in Jamaat’s return to government, if BNP wins, and even in the current caretaker administration there are believed to be Jamaat-sympathisers.

While Jamaat is the umbrella, according to journalist Shahriar Kabir and the Forum for Secular Bangladesh there are over 100 Islamist political parties and militant organisations in Bangladesh. Only four of these have been banned, and even they continue to operate under alternative names. Extremist literature, audio and video cassettes are widely distributed, and thousands of madrassas teach radical Islamism.

All this is completely at odds with the vision of Bangladesh’s founder, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who led the struggle for independence from Pakistan in which at least three million were killed, ten million displaced and 250,000 women raped. According to Hiranmay Karlekar, at the heart of the birth of Bangladesh was a belief that “the Bengali identity had prevailed over the Islamic identity.” The preamble of the first constitution explicitly stated a commitment to secularism and democracy, and political parties were banned from using religion as a basis for their activities.

Bangladesh began sliding slowly towards Islamism following the assassination of Rahman in 1975. In 1977, references to secularism were deleted from the constitution and the phrase “Bismillah-Ar-Rahiman-Ar Rahim” (“In the name of Allah, the Beneficient, and the Merciful) was inserted. Five years later, General Ershad – one of the military dictators who ruled the country in the alternating competition between the army and the democrats – introduced the Eighth Amendment, making Islam the state religion. The constitution now states that “absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah shall be the basis of all actions.”

There remain some provisos, which give religious minorities protection. For example, while Islamic principles are set out as guiding values, the constitution states that they “shall not be judicially enforceable.” The Chief Justice has said clearly that Shari’ah does not constitute the basis of the country’s legislation. Religious freedom, including “the right to profess, practice or propagate any religion”, is protected, and discrimination on religious grounds prohibited.

Nevertheless, in practice Christians, Hindus and Buddhists are denied promotion in the government and the military and in the view of one Bangladeshi journalist; religious and ethnic minorities have seen “unprecedented persecution” in recent years.

In 1998, for example, three Christian sites in Dhaka were attacked – a Catholic girls’ school, an Anglican church and a Baptist church. A mob set fire to the school, destroyed property, burned books, pulled down a cross and smashed statues of the Virgin Mary and St Francis of Assisi. Death threats were issued from the nearby mosque. Since then, sporadic attacks on churches have escalated. In 2007, at least five churches were attacked. Hindus and Ahmadiyyas face similar violence.

Cases of abduction, rape, forced marriage and forced conversion of religious minority women – and particularly young girls – are increasing, in a trend worryingly reminiscent of Pakistan. On 13 February 2007, for example, Shantona Rozario, an 18 year-old Christian student, was kidnapped. She was forced at gunpoint to sign a marriage document with her kidnapper, and an affidavit for conversion to Islam, witnessed by a lawyer, a mullah and a group of young men. After a month she managed to escape, but others are not so fortunate. On April 30 of this year a 14 year-old Christian girl, Bituni de Silva, was raped at gunpoint, and on May 2 a 13 year-old daughter of a pastor was gang-raped.

Apostates in Bangladesh face similar severe consequences for leaving Islam as they do throughout the world. On 1 February this year, a 70 year-old woman convert to Christianity from Islam, Rahima Beoa, died from burns suffered when her home was set ablaze after her conversion.

In 2004, a Jamaat Member of Parliament attempted to introduce a blasphemy law in Bangladesh, modelled on Pakistan’s notorious legislation. Attempts have been made to ban Ahmadiyya literature. And even during the State of Emergency, when protests and processions are supposed to be banned, extremists led by groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir have held angry rallies. On 17 September 2007, for example, a cartoon was published in a satirical magazine, Alpin, featuring a conversation between a child and an imam, in which the boy was told that he should always use the prefix ‘Mohammed’ before a name. The boy then decided to call his cat “Mohammed Cat.” The cartoon sparked outrage, and effiges of the newspaper editor were burned in street protests. The cartoonist and the editor were arrested, charged with sedition, and the publication was closed down. In April this year, large protests were held after Friday prayers in major cities, opposing the government’s plans to legitimate women’s rights in the constitution. Maulana Fazlul Haq, chairman of the Islami Oikya Jote, described such a policy as “anti-Qu’ran” and “anti-Islamic.”

An estimated 2.5 million people in Bangladesh belong to indigenous ethnic tribal groups, sometime sknown as “Adibashis.” There are at least 40 different ethnic groups, mainly inhabiting the Chittagong Hill Tracts and the plains area around Mymensingh. Most of these tribal groups are non-Muslim – predominantly Buddhist, Christian and Animist. Since the late 1970s, the Bangladeshi government has actively sponsored the resettlement of Bengali Muslims into the tribal areas – resulting in the construction of mosques, land-grabbing, evictions and discrimination against non-Muslims. One indigenous rights campaigner said: “Our way of life is an open society. Men and women can work anywhere. We are more flexible on gender issues. But the settlers have come in and built mosques, and they use their loudspeakers which affects us culturally and psychologically.”

In one village near Mymensingh, for example, a Bengali Muslim married a Christian from a tribal group. All the other villagers are Christians. After a few years, he decided he needed a mosque – even though he was the only Muslim in the area. So now he is building a mosque – and the likelihood is he will bring in an imam, who will bring his family, who will bring their relatives: and the slow, subtle, insidious repopulation of a non-Muslim, non-Bengali area will unfold. When I visited the remote jungle village, the atmosphere was tense – and the imam, sitting at the mosque construction site, was unwelcoming.

The prediction of Bangladesh’s “Talibanisation” may sound extreme, and in the immediate term the likelihood of Bangladesh becoming like Afghanistan is far-fetched. Bangladesh has not gone as far down the road of radicalisation as Pakistan, for example. Nevertheless, the warnings need to be taken seriously. If it continues as it is, Bangladesh will go the way of Pakistan – and then the risk of Talibanisation becomes realistic.

Indeed, it is Pakistan and Saudi Arabia that are fuelling the Islamisation of Bangladesh. As one person put it, “Pakistan is the breeding ground and the brain, and Saudi Arabia provides the money.” Saudi Arabia is a major founder of madrassas and mosques in Bangladesh, for example – and it is no coincidence that Wahhabi teaching is on the rise.

A prominent church leader predicts that full Shari’ah law will be implemented if the situation does not change. “Some day, it will happen. Maybe not immediately, but it will happen … The support of voices in the international community is very much needed. More people need to come and find out what is happening here.” As Ali Riaz says, “there is no doubt that if the present trend continues, the nation will inevitably slide further down the slope toward a regime with a clear Islamist agenda … What is necessary is a decisive change in the direction of the nation.” Such a decisive change is vital, to restore the founding principles of Bangladesh – secularism, democracy, equal rights. There is still a thriving civil society, with bold intellectuals, journalists and human rights activists willing to challenge radical Islamism – and that is a cause for hope. Bangladesh has not been lost to radical Islamism completely – but it will be if the alarm bells are not heard.

Benedict Rogers is a human rights activist with Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and serves as Deputy Chairman of the UK Conservative Party's Human Rights Commission. He is the author of A Land without Evil: Stopping the Genocide of Burma's Karen People (Monarch, 2004). He writes for The Cutting Edge News.



DIFC Forum: Islamic Finance can be a Role Model for the Global Economy

“Islamic banks Should Look at Acquiring Large Conventional Banks to

Become Leaders and Innovators in the Global Economy”

As the global economy creates a new financial architecture, incorporating lessons from the global financial crisis, Islamic banking could emerge as a role model because of its focus on ethical investments.

This was one of the key messages that emerged from a panel discussion on Islamic Finance that took place on the first day of DIFC Forum, the second major business conference that forms part of DIFC Week, the Dubai International Financial Centre’s (DIFC) prestigious annual series of business events.

Participants in the session titled ‘What will it take to lead the next generation of Islamic Finance’ included Khalid Abdulla-Janahi, Group Chief Executive of Dar Al-Maal Al-Islami (DMI) and Chairman of Ithmaar Bank; Hari Bhambra, Senior Partner, Praesidium LLP; Prof. KC Chan, Hong Kong Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury; and Iqbal Ahmed Khan, CEO, Fajr Capital.

Panellists were of the common opinion that the global financial crisis will have an impact on the Islamic Finance industry. However, the industry has scope for considerable long-term growth. “If you look at the demographics of the market, for example in Islamic countries like Egypt, there are a large number of people who need banking services,” said Iqbal Ahmed Khan. “There is a large market out there that is underserved,” he pointed out.

Furthermore, the ethical investment principles on which the sector operates will allow Islamic finance institutions to align themselves with corporate social responsibility (CSR) groups to create a wider appeal for Islamic Finance products, Khan said.

Khalid Abdulla-Janahi said that during the financial crisis, the industry could witness several mergers and acquisitions that could transform the industry. He urged Islamic finance banks to look at acquiring large conventional banks that would give them the ability to become leaders and innovators in the global economy.

The role played by regulators is critical to the progress of Islamic Finance. Many panellists felt that Islamic Finance institutions need to be regulated differently from conventional banks and regulators are sometimes extremely stringent on the Islamic finance sector. “The operational framework can either hinder or promote Islamic finance. If you over-regulate it you are going to strangle it,” said Hari Bhambra.

Khan argued that Islamic Finance should play a role in finding solutions to support people who belong to the most vulnerable sections of society. “The financial crisis will affect poverty-reduction budgets around the world and there is a risk of increased polarisation between the rich and the poor. Islamic Finance can play a role in helping the poorest sections of society by finding creative solutions to support them.”

When asked to identify the key areas of improvement within Islamic Finance, panel members named building the capacities of practitioners and educating regulators as critical needs.

The DIFC Forum, being held on 24 and 25 November, is discussing critical issues like the impact of the global financial crisis on the region, the next generation of Islamic Finance, emerging markets in and after the financial crisis, and energy geopolitics in an era of structural change.

With over 70 speakers from the world’s major international markets, 21 separate sessions, and a televised debate on how to get confidence back in the global financial markets, DIFC Week will address the most important issues faced by businesses in the region both in the current financial climate and in the future. Topics to be discussed at the four-day event include growth strategies, opportunities and major challenges for family businesses both locally and internationally, the economic outlook for the world and the GCC in 2009, attracting foreign investment and human capital in the Arab world, and the practicalities of establishing operations in Dubai.

Closing DIFC Week will be a Conference on 26 November titled: ‘The Inside Track on Dubai’, which will involve a series of commercial, regulatory and teaching streams that discuss the practicalities of establishing operations in Dubai covering issues such as raising capital and understanding cultural aspects of living and working in the Emirate.

DIFC Week is proud to be supported by its Platinum Sponsors including Deutsche Bank and Abraaj Capital, and Sponsors who include Itau Securities and Goldman Sachs.  In addition, the DIFC Week Conference is sponsored by Alvarez & Marsal, Conyers, Dill & Pearman, Emirates NBD, Grant Thornton, HAYS, International Compliance Training (ICT) Middle East, Kershaw Leonard, Latham and Watkins, M: Communications, Norton Rose and Union Properties while the DIFC Week Gala Networking Reception is sponsored by Sungard. The DIFC Summit is run in association with the Tharawat Family Business Forum. 

DIFC Week is also grateful for the active support and involvement of its Knowledge Partners who include Al Tamimi & Company, British Business Group, DIFC Centre of Excellence, Oxford Analytica, Simmons & Simmons, Young Arab Leaders, and DNM connect;  its Media Partners which are, AME Info, Arabian Business,, Al Arabiya News Channel, CNBC, Dow Jones, Dubai Eye, Financial News, The Times, The Sunday Times, SAB Media, The Wall Street Journal, Oxford Business Group and Zawya; as well as DIFC Week's Joint Marketing Partner, Dubai Corporate Counsel Group..

In addition, DIFC Week also expresses its gratitude to Itau Securities, the Sponsors of the DIFC Week Golf Championships.

To register or find out more information about the Summit, Forum and Conference taking place at DIFC Week, visit



Will Obama Bring Change To Afghanistan, Pakistan?

Nov 26, 2008

Fresh Air from WHYY, November 25, 2008 · Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid discusses the Bush Administration's policies concerning Afghanistan and Pakistan and speculates about the changes President-elect Barack Obama may bring to the area.

Rashid is based in Lahore, Pakistan, where he writes for a host of international publications, including The Washington Post, The International Herald Tribune and London's Daily Telegraph. His latest book, Descent into Chaos, details the Bush Administration's nation-building efforts in central Asia.

Excerpt: 'Descent into Chaos'

Imperial Overreach and Nation Building

Everyone, everywhere, will always remember the moment when he saw or heard about the airliners striking the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. It is a historical event that will be embedded in our emotional psyche for all time and will mark our era as much as the dropping of the nuclear bomb on Japan or the Vietnam War marked earlier times. Later, as terrorist bombs exploded around the world, we all momentarily thought of what it could mean to become a terrorist's target. We have had to get used to the idea of living with the possibility of sudden death and a new world of bloody violence, unprecedented if not in its scale then in its randomness. While suicide bombings in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Iraq were entirely predictable, the suicide attacks in London, Madrid, Istanbul, and Bali were not.

Initially it seemed that 9 /11 would ensure that the world addressed the social stagnation and state failure in South and Central Asia — what in this book I call "the region." Afghanistan had to be rescued from itself. Autocratic regimes in Pakistan and Central Asia had to change their repressive ways and listen to their alienated and poverty-stricken citizens. Iran had to be made part of the international community. The West had to wake up to the realities and responsibilities of injustice, poverty, lack of education, and unresolved conflicts such as those in Kashmir and Afghanistan, which it had ignored for too long and which could no longer be allowed to fester. The West and democratic minded Muslims had to help each other counter this new and deadly form of Islamic extremism.

The attacks of 9 /11 created enormous trepidation in the region as America unsheathed its sword for a land invasion of Afghanistan, but they also created enormous expectations of change and hope for a more sustained Western commitment to the region that would lift it out of poverty and underdevelopment. Surely the three thousand American dead lying in the rubble on the Hudson, as well as in Pennsylvania and Washington, had not died in vain? Surely we would remember them not for the revenge that the United States was about to take on al Qaeda but for the hope that their deaths had brought to a neglected corner of the globe?

Instead, seven years on, the U.S.-led war on terrorism has left in its wake a far more unstable world than existed on that momentous day in 2001. Rather than diminishing, the threat from al Qaeda and its affiliates has grown, engulfing new regions of Africa, Asia, and Europe and creating fear among peoples and governments from Australia to Zanzibar. The U.S. invasions of two Muslim countries, billions of dollars, armies of security guards, and new technology have so far failed to contain either the original organization or the threat that now comes from its copycats — unemployed young Muslim men in urban slums in British or French cities who have been mobilized through the Internet. The al Qaeda leader — now a global inspirational figure — Osama bin Laden, is still at large, despite the largest manhunt in history.

In the region that spawned al Qaeda and which the United States had promised to transform after 9 /11, the crisis is even more dangerous. Afghanistan is once again staring down the abyss of state collapse, despite billions of dollars in aid, forty-five thousand Western troops, and the deaths of thousands of people. The Taliban have made a dramatic comeback, enlisting the help of al Qaeda and Islamic extremists in Pakistan, and getting a boost from the explosion in heroin production that has helped fund their movement. The UN representative Lakhdar Brahimi had promised what he termed "a light footprint" for the UN presence in Afghanistan, while some U.S. officials eventually promised that they would carry out "nation building lite." In fact, barely enough was done by any organization in the first few years when 90 percent of the Afghan population continued to welcome foreign troops and aid workers with open arms. The international community had an extended window of opportunity for several years to help the Afghan people — they failed to take advantage of it.

Pakistan's military regime, led by President Pervez Musharraf, has undergone a slower but equally bloody meltdown. The military has refused to allow a genuinely representative government to take root. In 2007 Musharraf, after massive public demonstrations, suspended the constitution, sacked the senior judiciary, imprisoned more than twelve thousand lawyers and members of civil society, and muzzled the media in an attempt to stay in power and ensure that any elections favored him rather than the opposition. The country is beset by a major political crisis and the spread of Islamic extremism that now sees its chance to topple the state. Musharraf's plunge from hero to villain was compounded by the assassination of the country's larger-than-life opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, in December 2007, followed by a wave of suicide bombings and mayhem.

Across the five independent states of Central Asia — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,

Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan — dictatorships have ruled continuously since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. The lack of basic political freedoms, grinding poverty, huge economic disparities, and an Islamic extremist political underground are set to plunge Central Asia, despite its oil reserves, into ever greater turmoil.

The consequences of state failure in any single country are unimaginable. At stake in Afghanistan is not just the future of President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan people yearning for stability, development, and education but also the entire global alliance that is trying to keep Afghanistan together. At stake are the futures of the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union, and of course America's own power and prestige. It is difficult to imagine how NATO could survive as the West's leading military alliance if the Taliban are not defeated in Afghanistan or if bin Laden remains at large indefinitely. Yet the international community's lukewarm commitment to Afghanistan after 9 /11 has been matched only by its incompetence, incoherence, and conflicting strategies — all led by the United States.

Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from Descent into Chaos by Ahmed Rashid. Copyright © 2008 by Ahmed Rashid.



Islamic Jihad will not stop despite Obama

The Islamist holy war against the West and the United States will continue despite the coming presidency of Barack Obama. A tape released by al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri leaves little doubt that jihadis still demand America's total surrender.

By Walid Phares, November 25, 2008

While observers waited for the release of the "official" al Qaeda position on the election of Barack Obama as the next President of the United States, seasoned experts on the Jihadist movement had little doubt about the substance of the main message. As I have outlined in my appearances on Arabic television channels since November 4, Osama bin Laden or his second in command, was expected to declare that their "Jihad" will continue despite the election of an African-American president and despite Obama’s intention to withdraw from Iraq. Ayman al-Zawahiri lived up to expectations in his latest message to both his supporters and his enemies. The message: Even if the war ends in Iraq, the global war will continue everywhere.

The tape was expected to appear a few weeks after the election—because that’s how the terror group does things. First, al Qaeda monitors the reaction from of the international community, both from the Arab and Muslim world and also from other Islamist authorities. The Bin Laden-Zawahiri style is to give the "last word," like a Caliph would. The points raised in the tape were almost all predicted by experts familiar with the Jihadi-combat mind set: Although a new president was elected—one who would reverse some of Bush’s policies—the new president will also devise new strategies to defeat al Qaeda.

Zawahiri isn’t buying the version proposed by other anti-American critics of Washington’s War on Terror. Most of Europe’s left, the Arab authoritarian regimes, and the Islamist fundamentalist establishment, have all welcomed the news of an Obama victory and are tailoring new proposals for the region’s future—to their advantage, of course. But not al Qaeda. That’s why this Zawahiri message is important. It is telling the world and allies that there will be no respite in the conflict.

Al Qaeda’s number two had to address the election of a black president of the United States because of the two massive changes this choice has brought to the Jihadist agenda: First, public opinion of Obama is very high internationally, and second, the president-elect is planning to withdraw from Iraq and forge ahead in Afghanistan. All this changes al Qaeda’s game. Zawahiri’s tape had to address these "challenges" as pressure mounted among Jihadists to deal with this election.

The main points presented by the audio message are as follows:

1. The election of Obama is a Defeat to the United States in Iraq and a Victory to the Jihadists

In his tape, Zawahiri congratulates the Muslim world:

On the American people’s admission of defeat in Iraq: Although the evidence of America’s defeat in Iraq appeared years ago, Bush and his administration continued to be stubborn and deny the brilliant midday sun. If Bush has achieved anything, it is in his transfer of America’s disaster and predicament to his successor. But the American people, by electing Obama, declared its anxiety and apprehension about the future towards which the policy of the likes of Bush is leading it, and so it decided to support someone calling for withdrawal from Iraq.

In al Qaeda’s lexicon it is crucial to demonstrate to their supporters that it is "their" actions (terror in Iraq) which convinced, if not intimidated, American voters into voting for Obama and against McCain. Zawahiri wants al Qaeda to get credit for the behavior of America’s voting majority in the same way it took credit for the Madrid elections after the March 11, 2004 attacks.

2. A Warning to Obama: Don’t Send Additional Troops to Afghanistan

Zawahiri then sends a warning to President-elect Obama:

The second of these messages is to the new president of the United States. I tell him: you have reached the position of president, and a heavy legacy of failure and crimes awaits you. A failure in Iraq to which you have admitted, and a failure in Afghanistan to which the commanders of your army have admitted. The other thing to which I want to bring your attention is that what you’ve announced about how you’re going to reach an understanding with Iran and pull your troops out of Iraq to send them to Afghanistan is a policy which was destined for failure before it was born.

It appears that you don’t know anything about the Muslim Ummah and its history, and the fate of the traitors who cooperated with the invaders against it, and don’t know anything about the history of Afghanistan and its free and defiant Muslim people. And if you still want to be stubborn about America’s failure in Afghanistan, then remember the fate of Bush and Pervez Musharraf, and the fate of the Soviets and British before them. And be aware that the dogs of Afghanistan have found the flesh of your soldiers to be delicious, so send thousands after thousands to them.

If victory has been achieved by the jihadists against the United States in Iraq by forcing the new administration to pull out of that country, in Zawahiri’s mind, another defeat awaits America in Afghanistan according to al Qaeda’s latest message. The logic of endless Jihad seems to be that wherever American forces would be sent, the jihadists will meet them for a fight until the U.S. redeploys its contingents from around the world, back to "its borders" as previous al Qaeda messages have underlined.

3. The Same U.S. Aggression Remains

Concerned about the sympathy emerging from around the world and within the Muslim community regarding the new president, Zawahiri reminds his Islamist followers that "crimes have been committed and the mentality that produced them is still around." He doesn’t want to see a shift in public opinion towards a "nicer" America. He says:

As for the crimes of America which await you, it appears that you continue to be captive to the same criminal American mentality towards the world and towards the Muslims. The Muslim Ummah received with extreme bitterness your hypocritical statements to and stances towards Israel, which confirmed to the Ummah that you have chosen a stance of hostility to Islam and Muslims.

Clearly, Zawahiri is trying to draw red lines for the acceptance of Obama by the Arab and Muslim world. This audiotape is probably the prelude to a campaign by the jihadists to minimize Obama’s emergence and classify him as just "another U.S. President, with a different face."

4. You’re Not Real

Then Zawahiri begins the Jihadi deconstruction of Obama’s image. He declares:

You represent the direct opposite of honourable black Americans like Malik al-Shabazz, or Malcolm X (may Allah have mercy on him). You were born to a Muslim father, but you chose to stand in the ranks of the enemies of the Muslims, and pray the prayer of the Jews, although you claim to be Christian, in order to climb the rungs of leadership in America. And so you promised to back Israel, and you threatened to strike the tribal regions in Pakistan, and to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, in order for the crimes of the American Crusade in it to continue.

And last Monday, your aircraft killed 40 Afghan Muslims at a wedding party in Kandahar. As for Malik al-Shabazz (may Allah have mercy on him), he was born to a black pastor killed by white bigots, but Allah favored him with guidance to Islam, and so he prided himself on his fraternity with the Muslims, and he condemned the crimes of the Crusader West against the weak and oppressed, and he declared his support for peoples resisting American occupation, and he spoke about the worldwide revolution against the Western power structure.

That’s why it wasn’t strange that Malik al-Shabazz (may Allah have mercy on him) was killed, while you have climbed the rungs of the presidency to take over the leadership of the greatest criminal force in the history of mankind and the leadership of the most violent Crusade ever against the Muslims. And in you and in Colin Powell, Rice and your likes, the words of Malcolm X (may Allah have mercy on him) concerning "House Negroes" are confirmed.

Zawahiri’s words are strong and are aimed at putting pressure on all those in the region who rushed to announce that Obama will radically change the "regime" in the United States. Al Qaeda number two paints the president-elect as an opportunistic politician who used all three faiths to access power. By doing this Zawahiri is trying to achieve two goals: maintaining his own flock fully indoctrinated against Washington regardless of the change in the White House; and pressuring the radical clerics in the Wahabi and Muslim Brotherhood circles, "…who are welcoming Obama’s victory…to retreat from such "apostasy."

5. The War Must Continue

Zawahiri’s main message is to call on the jihadists everywhere to resume the war relentlessly and to "strike." Yes, he argues, there was a victory when America changed direction in Iraq, but the road to full Jihadi victory is still long. Read it as follows: The fight over Iraq will continue until the establishment of an al Qaeda-like Emirate in the Sunni Triangle, which would be then the real victory. The fight will go on in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia and beyond. In short, al Qaeda’s war against the world won’t stop because of an election in America. Zawahiri said:

You also must appreciate, as you take over the presidency of America during its Crusade against Islam and Muslims, that you are neither facing individuals nor organizations, but are facing a Jihadi awakening and renaissance which is shaking the pillars of the entire Islamic world; and this is the fact which you and your government and country refuse to recognize and pretend not to see. I tell the Muslim Ummah: America, the criminal, trespassing Crusader, continues to be the same as ever, so we must continue to harm it, in order for it to come to its senses, because its criminal, expansionist Crusader project in your lands has only been neutralized by the sacrifices of your sons, the Mujahedeen.

This, then, is the path, so stick to it. To the Mujahedeen, I tell them: may Allah reward you in the best way for your historic heroics, which have ruined America’s plans and rendered its projects ineffective. So be firm and resolute. Your enemy’s stagger has begun, so don’t stop hitting him. I say to my brothers the Mujahedeen in Iraq in general and the Islamic State of Iraq in particular, and to its Amir, the towering mountain Abu ‘Umar al-Baghdadi: your enemy has admitted defeat, and the forthcoming stage is expected to be dominated by conspiracies and betrayals in order to cover the American withdrawal, so you must persevere, for victory is in an hour of perseverance. And I tell my brothers in Somalia: rejoice in victory and conquest.

America is gathering its wounds in Iraq, and Ethiopia is looking for a way out and for this reason, the stage of conspiracies and machinations has begun. So hold tightly to the truth for which you have given your lives, and don’t put down your weapons before the Mujahidin state of Islam and Tawheed has been set up in Somalia. And I tell all Mujahedeen everywhere: Allah has granted you success and honoured you by making you the most important cause of that, so be resolute on the path of Jihad until you meet you’re Lord while He is pleased with you.

As many experts in Jihadism have underlined—and as I projected in my last three books on "future Jihad"—even if we decide to change course in Iraq or even in Afghanistan, the strategic intentions of the Jihadi Salafists is to engage in confrontation worldwide, including within democracies.

6. Until You Surrender

Echoing this assessment of the global Jihadi drive, Zawahiri asks the followers of this ideology—not just his membership—to relentlessly fight against what he perceives as the "Grand Crusade." A stark reminder that the forces, which waged their campaign against the United States beginning in the early 1990s and peaking on 9/11, then spread their warfare to dozens of countries, aren’t going back to the pre-9/11 model. Once again, Al Qaeda’s number two offers a deal to the "infidel powers"—quit and withdraw from this entire region or face a greater war. It is a chilling statement of the so-called "Jihadi offensive." It is not just about Iraq, it is about the planet as a whole. He goes on:

And my fifth message is to all the worlds weak and oppressed. I tell them: America has put on a new face, but its heart full of hate, mind drowning in greed, and spirit which spreads evil, murder; repression and despotism continue to be the same as always. And the Mujahedeen of Islam, by the grace of Allah, continue to be the spearhead of the resistance against it to restrain it from injustice, aggression and arrogance. As for my final message, it is to the American people.

I tell it: you incurred defeat and losses from the foolish actions of Bush and his gang, and at the same time, Sheikh Osama bin Laden (may Allah preserve him) sent you a message to withdraw from the lands of the Muslims and refrain from stealing their treasures and interfering in their affairs. So choose for you whatever you like, and bear the consequences of your choice, and as you judge, you will be judged.

Against all other reactions, both positive and neutral, vis-à-vis Obama’s election, al Qaeda stands firm in rejecting the new leadership even before the president-elect takes office in January. From a political/psychological perspective the master of Jihadism Osama Bin laden cannot be overshadowed by another international leader, particularly if that emerging figure is president of the "Great Satan." Zawahiri’s response to the election seems to re-frame the results of the election, an election seen around the world as one of change. To al Qaeda there is no altering of direction in their struggle and agenda. In their own logic, either Obama will end America’s presence altogether in the greater Middle East, or nothing will really change on the global battlefield.

The conclusion is this: Once Obama’s victory was solidified, many wondered what al Qaeda’s response would be. Many of observers thought that the election of Mr. Obama would wash away the grievances of al Qaeda and isolate the pockets of violence to a few valleys in Afghanistan. Zawahiri’s answer is a blunt, "No." Obviously, by al Qaeda’s standards, this is a step forward but it is not enough. Pulling out of Iraq is a victory, something the Jihadists of all persuasions agree on, but more victories are needed to end the war from their perspective. This indicates that the post 9/11 era may well be reversed in the mind of liberal democracies via electoral victories at home.

This was the case in Spain, and could also be true in the United States, but in the mind of the Jihadists, it is irreversible. Of all the points raised by Zawahiri on the audiotape, I believe that the central message is this: Redeploy as you wish and change all the leaders you want, but know that we will continue our global fight against you. This means that the next administration will confront a tremendous challenge and it will have to do so by learning from the past and enhancing its strategies for the future. The landscape of the war with the Jihadists may have changed in the last eight years; it will also be different from what it was during the 1990s. Now, a whole new configuration is ahead of us.

Walid Phares is the director of "Future Terrorism Project" at the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies. He is the author of the acclaimed Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad. He is also Terrorism Analyst for The Cutting Edge News.



''My Roommate, the Terrorist''

Marwaan Macan-Markar Interviews NOOR HUDA ISMAIL, Researcher and Journalist


Jakarta, Nov 25 (IPS) - For one Indonesian journalist, the acts of terror unleashed on the resort island of Bali in October 2002, that killed 202 people, were more than a major story to cover.


Noor Huda Ismail was shocked to learn that one of the men involved in the shadowy Muslim organisation blamed for the bombing of popular nightspots -- Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) -- was known to him personally. He was Fadlullah Hasan, then accused of helping to pass on the funds to finance this unprecedented terrorist attack on Indonesian soil.

They had been roommates during their teen years studying at Al Mukmin Ngruki, an Islamic boarding school, in central Java. Twenty other students shared that dormitory which had few comforts. Fadullah was three years older than Noor, who was 12 years when he entered the school in 1985 to remain there for six years.

But Fadlullah, currently in an Indonesian jail, was only one of several other Ngruki alumni that Noor discovered had links to JI. It was a revelation that has turned Noor from simply being a reporter to an analyst, trying to unearth what went wrong and why he and some of the Ngruki graduates took such radically different paths after going through six years of indoctrination at one of the country’s most conservative Islamic schools.

After leaving Ngruki, Noor pursued a degree in political science and communications that nudged him into the world of journalism and, later, as a researcher in the field of political violence. He also embraced the night life of a big city like Jakarta, visiting bars on Friday nights, drinking with friends.

The difference that struck him since the 2002 bombings was reinforced this month, when Noor went to cover the funerals in East Java of Amrozi Nurhaqim and Ali Ghufron, two of the three men who were executed by firing squad on Nov. 9 for their role in the Bali carnage. He encountered over 200 men linked to JI and other radical groups, not all of whom ‘’agree with a violent ideology.’’

JI, which has been linked to other bombings, including the Australian embassy and the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta, has not mounted attacks since 2005. Abu Bakar Bashir, a radical cleric and one of the seven founders of Ngruki, in 1972, has been charged for being a leader of JI.

IPS correspondent Marwaan Macan-Markar spoke with Noor about his former roommate and his old school, now the most notorious in a country that is home to the world’s largest Muslim population -- but where a tolerant and inclusive form of Islam is practised.

IPS: After the Bali bombings, you have gone from being a journalist for local and foreign newspapers to being an analyst of JI and other radical Muslim groups in Indonesia. What paved the way?

Noor Huda Ismail: It was because of my unique situation when people realised that I had shared a room with one of the men linked to the Bali attack. I had considered him one of my friends at our school, Al Mukmin Ngruki. We came from the same village, we literally ate together, and we played together and studied together. The only difference was he was more religious and encouraged me to embrace Islam more seriously.

IPS: So it must have come as a shock for you to discover, 10 years after leaving school, that your former roommate Fadlullah Hasan had a hand in the Bali bombings?

NHI: Yes. When the head of the police investigating team released the pictures of the men wanted for the attack, I said, ‘’Oh, shit! I know this guy.’’ I was shaken up. Imagine, you share a room with someone who ends up a complete foreigner to you.


IPS: Had he gone down this road soon after leaving school or much later?

NHI: When I traced back his story I learnt that he had gone for military training to Afghanistan a few years after he finished at Ngruki. I think in 1992. That was the time many jihadis were going from Indonesia to Afghanistan to drive out the Russians (who had invaded the country in 1979). He then trained with the Moro (rebels) in southern Philippines on jihad. He established special links between Indonesia and the Philippines.


IPS: Did the school help to condition people like Fadlullah? Did it encourage jihad?

NHI: They taught the importance of jihad, both jihads, the inner personal struggle of an individual and the physical one. The emphasis was more on the physical jihad, the action jihad. But I never heard teachers encourage me to kill my enemy.


IPS: So the school had a radical bent?

NHI: It had earned a reputation as one against the government of Suharto (whose dictatorial rule spanned three decades from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s). It was against the flag; it did not want to accept the secular national ideology of ‘pancaseela’. The founders of the school decided not to vote at elections.


IPS: And how strict was the school? How many students lasted the entire programme?

NHI: It has a difficult programme. When I entered there were 150 students with me, but only 15 stayed on till the end. For six years you constantly stay in the school, you cannot go out, you can only meet your parents once in two weeks, you cannot smoke, wear jeans. And the subjects were a mix of religious ones, like Arabic syntax, Arabic reading, and secular subjects like maths and geography.


IPS: Then how does somebody end up like Fadlullah or other alumni of your school who turned to violence in the name of Islam?

NHI: There was a ‘talent squad’ in the school. They look for people who are smart, physically fit, religious. These were some of the teachers. They played a very significant role in creating the tentacles of dedicated jihadists.


IPS: Who was one of them?

NHI: Abu Husna (now in jail). It was a case of teachers influencing students. That is why I call this recruitment kinship. In South-east Asia there is this special relationship teachers have with students. He has a certain influence over students. This indoctrination of jihad comes through this personal contact with the teacher.


IPS: Is there a pattern?

NHI: First the recruits are indoctrinated to jihad; they are exposed to like-minded people. Then comes the introduction to violence that is backed by the ideology, which justifies these acts. Then there is experience, getting involved, leading to the violent acts.


IPS: What was Abu Husna’s background that made him such a leading recruiter in your school?

NHI: He was a member of the radical Darul Islam movement (which has been active for over five decades). His first enemy was the secular government. They wanted to topple the Indonesian government and replace it with an Islamic system. But the international atmosphere slowly influenced this guy after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. His anger was shared by others. And they got backing at that time from the CIA.


IPS: So how many students went to Afghanistan from Ngruki?

NHI: A couple of hundreds. I don’t think you can compare it with any other Islamic school in South-east Asia. But you cannot talk about this -- the pathway for the students to become jihadists -- without including the international context. Then the Americans welcomed them as mujahideen to help fight the Russians in Afghanistan; now they are bloody terrorists who should be crushed. It is a question of history, you know.

IPS: So how come you did not end up like the others?

NHI: I was caught having an affair with the daughter of one of the school’s founders. So I was seen as not pious enough. I could have ended up like one of them if not for my interest in voluptuous girls.

IPS: Are you now seen as a traitor by people at the school, such as Bashir? Do they consider you a munafiq (hypocrite)?

NHI: Of course. They see me as a tentacle of Western interest. But they know I have no interest in arresting them. My interest is only in writing that I don’t like their fighting ideology.



Group of radical Islamists based in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Nov 25, 2008

Sarajevo: A group of radical Islamists ready to engage in terror activities for political goals is based in Bosnia and Herzegovina, senior police official said.

"Wahabis have become a synonym for that sort terrorism, but here the matter is about the salafis as well," said Zlatko Miletic, director of federal police.

Miletic said four groups are operating in BiH, all of interest, because of their views on social-political situation of the country and of the world.

"They plan some aggressive activities," Miletic said, adding that most concerning is that these groups are buying suicide vests.

Salafis or Islamic traditionalists view the first three generations of Muslims, who are Muhammad's companions, and the two succeeding generations after them as examples of how Islam should be practiced. The principal tenet of Salafism is that Islam was perfect and complete during the days of Muhammad, but that undesirable innovations have been added over the later centuries due to materialist and cultural influences.

Copyright 2008, makfax. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed Source:


A great contribution to Islamic art: Villepin

Nov 25, 2008

Doha: The Museum of Islamic Art is already striving to achieve its goal of being an educative museum according to former French Prime minister Dominique de Villepin. He inaugurated the first temporary exhibition at MIA, in the presence of H E Sheikha Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson, Board of Trustees of QMA, yesterday.

The exhibition, Boundaries- Islamic Art across Cultures shows the exchange of knowledge and culture between the Islamic world and the other civilisations. A major two day conference stressing the academic view point of the museum also began yesterday with academics, writers, researchers and historians from round the world gathering at the museum.

“This great initiative of Qatar Government has made a great contribution to the Islamic art and its knowledge,” said Villepin. “The links between culture and peace are so strong and important for these initiatives because they are places of dialogue and comprehension between people, countries, religions and culture. So we must build bridges and this is one such bridge between civilisations.”

The museum building as such was impressive according to him. “I am a fan and close friend of I M Pei. As usual he has done a good work. It has such a purity exploiting light, shade and space. I think he really has reached with his experience, confrontation of cultures done a perfect work which could be one of his last ones.”

The artefacts at the museum is unparallel and the best in the world. “The collection here is the best we can dream of Islamic art. Every piece has its own story. The passage of each artefact through each period through different hands shows that each one is alive. Every object is sending a message and it’s good to see that young ones of the country are already learning about them. That is a part of the museum, it’s a live institution. It makes a huge contribution of the people,” he told The Peninsula.

Among the age old collections of manuscripts and artefacts in the museum, are works of renowned Indian Artist Maqbool Fida Husain. He was acknowledged a standing ovation with his work Cross Culture Dialogue being showcased at the centre of the temporary exhibition.

“I am really honoured to be involved with this prestigious museum. The Arab civilisation which I am doing, there will be 99 paintings and this is the first part. The whole thing will be about Arab history, which involves the Jews, Christians and everyone. It’s the oldest and unique civilisation. Arab civilisation which has roots in Yemen has given so much to mankind. When the Europe was in darkness, all the science, astronomy, mathematics flourished in this part of the world,” he told The Peninsula.



Terrorists Shift to a Media Battle

November 25, 2008

Despite the popularity of anti-Americanism in Pakistan, the recent replacement of the military government of general Musharraf, by an elected one, has focused public ire on Islamic radicalism (Taliban and al Qaeda). In addition, the Taliban are looked down on as the product of the poor, ignorant and violent Pushtun border tribes. Al Qaeda is seen as a bunch of homicidal foreigners. The Islamic radicals have a serious image problem. They also have a tribal problem. Declaring oneself "Taliban" is a political, religious and tribal decision. The Taliban are dedicated to establishing a religious dictatorship, with religious police enforcing a very restrictive lifestyle. As dissatisfied as most Pakistanis are with their government, the Taliban is seen as worse. Al Qaeda want to impose their own form of religious dictatorship, but are seen as attempting to impose foreign clerical tyrants on Pakistan. That doesn't fly with most Pakistanis either. Pakistanis are still unhappy. As they should be, given how corrupt and inefficient their government is. But at the moment, the Islamic militants are sliding in the popularity polls. Suicide bombing are not numerous enough to overthrow the government, and make more Pakistanis hostile to Islamic radicalism.

In the Pakistani tribal areas, the war against the Taliban has become more and more a tribal conflict between pro and anti-Taliban tribes. With over 100,000 soldiers siding with the anti-Taliban tribes, the Taliban are fighting a losing battle, in the winter, against their enemies. The anti-Taliban furore is increased with tribesmen telling reporters about encounters with Chechen, Uzbek, Tajik, Sudanese and Afghan terrorists fighting alongside the Taliban tribesmen. Only about a third of Pakistanis have a favourable attitude towards al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism, and most of these live in areas where there is no Islamic terrorism or pro-Taliban tribes.

In the Bajaur district of Pakistan, which is right on the Afghan border, NATO and Afghan troops on the Afghan side are coordinating operations with Pakistani troops on the other side. Taliban and al Qaeda fighters are trying to cross the border to find sanctuary in Afghanistan, but the Afghans are attacking them.

Unable to cope with the Pakistani army and police, Islamic radicals are devoting more effort to terror attacks. Many of these are being directed at local anti-Taliban leaders. But this results in suicide bomb attacks on mosques and funerals, which just enflames anti-Taliban anger. The battle against the Taliban is getting very personal, with anti-Taliban tribal groups going for the homes of Taliban leaders, burning them down and driving the families out.

In Indian Kashmir, the decline in terrorist activity has led to an increase in political activity by separatist Moslems. The Moslem majority in Kashmir now wants peace, but many also want the Hindus (both soldiers and remaining civilians) out. The Indians will not go, so the street demonstrations continue. The political struggle in Kashmir is between separatists (the minority, and prone to violence) and the moderates (who are tired after more than a decade of separatist violence.)

India's Hindu radical BJP party is on the defensive as more revelations show Hindu terrorists have been bombing both Hindu and Moslem targets in an attempt to start a religious war. Since Moslems are only 14 percent of the population, they would lose such a war, and most would die or be driven out of the country. That possibility has kept most Moslems from supporting terrorism, thus the Hindu nationalist’s use of attacks on Hindu targets in an attempt to get the hate going.

In northwest Pakistan, there was another breakout of religious violence between Shia (20 percent of the population) and Sunni (most of the rest) radicals. At least half a dozen people have died. There are dozens of Islamic terror groups in Pakistan, many of them more intent on fighting other Moslems than in going after infidels (non-Moslems).

November 24, 2008: Army and police operations around Peshawar (the largest city in the Pakistani tribal zone) resulted in several dozen terrorists dead or arrested. Large weapons stores were discovered and seized. The police also extended the city boundaries to include another 25 villages, put these under police, not tribal, rule. This provides less area for terrorists to hide out in, close to the city.

November 20, 2008: The Pakistani government staged an event for the media, where troops "practiced" shooting down UAVs. In practice, these aircraft are difficult to detect, especially at night, much less hit. But the media event was mainly to show the Pakistani people that the government was serious about stopping the American UAV missile attacks on Taliban and al Qaeda leaders. In fact, the government benefits greatly from these attacks, but nationalist politicians are more interested in scoring political and media points. Some politicians blame the increasing use of suicide bombs on the UAV attacks. But the Islamic terrorists are interested mainly in terrorizing the population into allowing the militants to take over, not just as retaliation for Hellfire missiles killing terrorist leaders.

November 18, 2008: For the first time, an American UAV fired a Hellfire missile at a Pakistani target outside the tribal territories along the Afghan border. This attack killed six foreign terrorists. The attack, at Bannu, is just across the border of the tribal territories. However, it enraged Pakistani nationalists, who now threaten demonstrations to block truck traffic into Pakistan. This is how NATO and U.S. forces get 75 percent of their supplies. Such demonstrations could get bloody, as lots of people depend on that truck traffic for their livelihood. The tribes that straddle the border are paid to keep the routes safe, and may use violence against any demonstrators. The trucks must traverse several hundred kilometres of tribal territory on their way to military bases in Kabul and throughout southern Afghanistan.



10 suspects arrested for acid attack on schoolgirls in S Afghanistan

Nov 25, 2008

Kabul, (Xinhua) -- Ten suspects on charge of spraying acid on schoolgirls have been arrested in southern Afghan province of Kandahar, said General Dawud Dawud, deputy chief of Interior Ministry on Tuesday.

    "Afghan police and security forces have detained 10 Pakistani nationals suspected of committing the acid attack on teachers and schoolgirls on Nov. 12 in Kandahar city, capital of Kandahar province," Dawud told newsmen in press conference in Kandahar.

   He said that those suspects admitted they received money for 100,000 Pakistani Rupees each (around 1,200 U.S. dollars) from Taliban militants based in the Pakistan tribal area.

    "One special bank account has also been set up by Interior Ministry for treatment and other relief assistance of the victims," Dawud added. "The detection operation is still going on."

    Armed men riding on motorbikes on Nov. 12 poured acid on schoolgirls and teachers who were on their way to school, injuring four teachers and 11 schoolgirls, six of them seriously, according to Interior Ministry.

    The fundamentalist Taliban insurgents during their 6-year regime closed down girl schools and confined women to their houses.



Muslim Feminist Irshad Manji to Speak at CSUMB

Nov 25, 2008, by Jessica Lussenhop

Outspoken Ugandan native criticizes fundamentalism

Let’s play a game: Would you rather be a Muslim after 9/11 or a lesbian after Proposition 8? Irshad Manji, a so-called Islamic reformer and journalist, has had the luxury of being both of those things from the comfort of Canada, where same-sex marriage is legal and the percentage population of Muslims is estimated to be something like five times what it is here. That doesn’t mean she’s gotten fat and complacent. The 40-year-old has dedicated a good deal of her life to speaking out against many aspects of modern-day Islam she believes contradict the Koran and make life miserable for millions of practicing members. And because of that, some people are interested in making her life particularly miserable as well.

“Consider this message, sent to me just last week under the subject line: ‘You are a Terrorist!’” Manji wrote recently on her blog. “'Stop terrorizing the Muslim Ummah, you kaffir-loving lesbian whore… You probably never were a Muslim, just a brown dyke bitch.’” And that’s warm milk compared to the death threats.

Despite the hate that fills her email inbox, the promises of bodily harm and even the pleas of her own mother, Manji travels the world arguing against the inferior position of women in Islam, Jew-bashing and what she describes as an uncritical acceptance of anything supposedly done in the name of Allah. “I appreciate that every faith has its share of literalists,” she writes. “Only in Islam today is literalism mainstream. Which means that when abuse happens under the banner of Islam, most Muslims have no clue how to dissent, debate, or reform ourselves?”

Manji, whose family was forced from Idi Amin’s Uganda when she was just a child, considers herself a faithful Muslim, though she does not follow a rigid prayer schedule, nor will she publicize her denomination. She has published the book The Trouble with Islam Today and stars in the PBS documentary Faith without Fear. She’s also become a frequent talking head—a perky, pretty, big-haired one—on networks like CNN and FOX, where she’s at times tiptoed around by hosts scared of somehow blundering off into the realm of the un-PC—yet another issue that irks Manji, calling it the “infantilizing” of Muslims in the West.

Manji’s message is in many ways meant to be transformative for the next generation of Muslims, which is why she’ll be speaking at CSUMB. She has often admitted that while these campus talks are important, they can often be bittersweet. “Invariably young Muslims come up to me afterwards to whisper ‘thank you’ in my ear,” she said in ‘n interview with Glenn Beck. “And when I ask them, ‘Why are you whispering,” they say, ‘Irshad, you have the luxury of walking away from this campus in two hours and I don’t, and I don’t want to be stalked for supporting your views.’”

IRSHAD MANJI gives her talk "Confessions of a Muslim Reformer: Why I Fight for Women, Jews, Gays . . . and Allah" on Monday, Dec. 1, at 7pm at California State University, Monterey World Theatre, 5260 Sixth Avenue, Seaside. Free, but reservations are requested at

Directions at - Jessica Lussenhop



U.S. Muslims Taken Aback by a Charity’s Conviction

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN, November 25, 2008

American Muslim groups responded with uncustomary silence on Tuesday to the news that leaders of a Muslim charity shut down by the federal government had been convicted in a retrial of money laundering, tax fraud and supporting terrorism.

The case against the charity, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, had long revealed a divide among Muslim Americans, leaders say. Some saw the prosecution of the foundation primarily as evidence of anti-Muslim bias by the American government, while others suspected that the charity might indeed have operated as an overly politicized money funnel for Hamas in the 1990s.

The federal government declared Hamas to be a terrorist group in 1995. When the government shuttered Holy Land, which was based in a suburb of Dallas, and seized its assets in 2001, it was said to be the largest Muslim charity in the United States.

“I do believe the community was divided, and I believe the community will continue to be divided,” said Dr. Ziad J. Asali, a retired physician who is the founder and president of the American Task Force on Palestine, an advocacy group in Washington that supports a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians.

The jury’s conviction of five Holy Land leaders on all 108 criminal counts took many Muslim leaders by surprise because a previous trial last year ended in a hung jury.

“So far, the reaction has been one of shock more than anything else,” said Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, president of the Minaret of Freedom Institute, an advocacy group based in Bethesda, Md. “Even the people who are usually very quick to comment on events, positively or negatively, are so stunned by this that they seem to be at a loss for words.”

Mr. Ahmad said the verdict would further confuse donors to Islamic charities, many of whom have been wary of giving to Islamic groups since Sept. 11.

“It seems to give a green light for further intimidation of Muslim charities,” he said. “It makes people even unsure of what they are supposed to do to avoid having a problem.”

Following the Sept. 11 attacks, the government designated dozens of Muslim charities, mostly international relief agencies, as financiers of terrorism. Muslim groups struggled for years to persuade the Treasury Department to produce some kind of seal of approval for legitimate charities that adhered strictly to humanitarian work. For Muslims, giving to charity is a religious obligation.

Part of the reason for the silence from Muslim leaders on Tuesday, some of them said, is that the government publicly named more than 300 individuals and American Muslim organizations as “unindicted co-conspirators,” without allowing them to hear the evidence against them or defend themselves in court.

The American Civil Liberties Union is representing two of those groups, the Islamic Society of North America and the North American Islamic Trust, in trying to get a judge to strike their names from the list.

Hina Shamsi, a lawyer with the National Security Project of the A.C.L.U., said, “The Islamic Society of North America does a lot of outreach and interfaith dialogue, and works in cooperation with the F.B.I., and yet, as a result of this stigma, its reputation has been deeply harmed.”

“The irony is obviously that this is the very community whose cooperation the government most needs for effective counterterrorism,” she added.

Since the indictment of the Holy Land leaders, Muslim organizations have been working with the government to create mechanisms to ensure that humanitarian aid to Palestinians is not diverted to terrorism.

The American Task Force on Palestine recently created the American Charities for Palestine, and signed an agreement with the United States Agency for International Development in August, Dr. Asali said.

Under the agreement, American Charities will only make donations to educational and health institutions in the Palestinian occupied territories that have been vetted and approved by Usaid, Dr. Asali said. He just returned from taking the first donation, of 1,000 laptop computers, to Palestinian students.

“We wanted to be able to go to the donors and say, if you donate to this entity you don’t have to worry about someone accusing you of terrorism,” Dr. Asali said.

Stephanie Strom contributed reporting.



Minister joins Islamic society

24th November, 2008          

By Paul Kiwuuwa

Gender state minister Rukia Nakadama Isanga has been appointed a member of the World Islamic Call Society committee.

Addressing journalists in Kampala last week, Nakadama said she was the first Ugandan woman to be appointed on the 36-member committee.

This was during the recent 8th annual World Islamic Call Society general assembly in Tripoli, Libya.

“I will sell Uganda’s good image internationally and lobby for support of women empowerment during my four-year tenure,” she said.

“While attending the conference (in Libya), I called up on member states to open up investment opportunities in agriculture and other industries in Uganda to pave way for increased employment and economic development,” the minister said.