New Age Islam News Bureau
UK soldiers face Abu Ghraib-like abuse charges
November 15, 2009
Iraqi civilians who were detained by British troops during the US-led war have leveled some 33 allegations of rape and abuse against male and female soldiers, Britain's Ministry of Defence said on Saturday.
The allegations come in the wake of the British withdrawal from Iraq this year. One man says he was raped by two British soldiers while another claims he was sexually humiliated by both male and female personnel. Others allege they were stripped naked and photographed in the same style as the notorious pictures at Abu Ghraib, where abuses of prisoners by US troops helped fuel anti-American sentiment.
British soldiers have faced a series of claims that they mistreated Iraqi civilians in southern Iraq during six years of combat operations. Last year, Britain settled a legal case involving the death of one Iraqi civilian, and the abuse of nine others, paying out nearly 3 million pounds in compensation.
A public inquiry is still under way into the death of hotel worker Baha Mousa. He died in the custody of British troops following a raid on his hotel in the southern Iraq city of Basra in 2003 and suffered 93 separate injuries. British Cpl. Donald Payne pleaded guilty to inhumanely treating Iraqi civilians in Britain's first war crimes conviction.
"Given the history of the UK's involvement in the development of these techniques alongside the US, it is deeply concerning that there appears to be strong similarities between instances of the use of sexual humiliation," Phil Shiner, the lawyer representing the Iraqis who made the claims, said in a letter to the Ministry of Defense. He said some Iraqis are coming forward now since the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq this year.
The Ministry of Defense said the allegations were being taken seriously.
"Over 120,000 British troops have served in Iraq and the vast majority have conducted themselves to the highest standards of behavior, displaying integrity and selfless commitment," the ministry said in a statement. "There have been instances when individuals have behaved badly but only a tiny number have been shown to have fallen short of our high standards. Allegations of this nature are taken very seriously but must not be taken as fact. Formal investigations must be allowed to take their course."
Armed forces minister Bill Rammell said any new claims of mistreatment will be investigated.
In one of the most serious allegations, a 16-year-old boy claimed that he was among a group of Iraqis in May 2003 who were taken to the Shatt-al-Arab British camp to help fill sandbags. In a statement reported by The Independent newspaper, he alleged when he entered a room to get more sandbags he saw two British male soldiers engaged in oral sex. When he tried to leave, he alleges the men started to beat and kick him. When he fell to the floor, he claims one of the men held a blade to his neck while the other soldier stripped him naked. He claims the two British soldiers, one after the other, raped him.
In another claim, a 24-year-old Iraqi said he was playing football with friends in April 2007 when he was approached by British soldiers in vehicles and taken to a British base with another youth. When he arrived at the camp, he was allegedly surrounded by six to eight soldiers who ordered two of the young men to pick fights with one another. He alleges that the soldiers then stood on top of them and shouted and laughed.
Another 35-year-old carpenter said he was arrested in April 2006 and taken to the British camp at Shaaibah where he alleges he was subjected to sexual abuse and humiliation by both male and female soldiers.
He alleged soldiers used to watch pornographic films and would play loud music when he tried to pray. He also alleged that female soldiers exposed themselves or taunted him sexually. He alleged a soldier in the observation tower used to point the laser spot of his gun at his penis when he was in the toilet.
At the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, female guards and interrogators were documented as using aggressive and sexually charged techniques with the detainees, most of whom were Muslim.
It was unclear when results of the investigation would be released.
No TV, no music, beards a must: new rules in a Gujarat riot relief camp
Nov 15, 2009
Vadodara : A London-based charity that set up a rehabilitation colony for Muslim victims who lost their homes in Gujarat’s 2002 riots is laying down a hard “Sharia law” for those living there — forcing many to pack up and leave.
The Muslim Relief Organisation, run by NRI businessmen in London, built 46 houses in Detral, a village in Bharuch, for families of riot victims.
Now it has imposed a blanket ban on what it calls “shaitani” (devilish) things such as TV, music systems and all forms of electronic entertainment. It has threatened to evict the riot victims if they don’t adhere to these.
Residents have been ordered to stay away from fellow villagers, asked to pray only in the special “Sharia-specified” place of worship built for them and not in any local mosque. Among other diktats, they are also required to wear skull caps and keep long beards.
The notice, accessed by The Sunday Express, reads: “... As per Islamic Shariyat, any person possessing a television, or any other such Shaitani goods in his house, cannot be the beneficiary of money from Zakat, Fitr, Sadka or any Imdaah. Last week, when the committee trustee came down from London, he showed his unhappiness when he saw television antennas and dish connections. So, take notice that within 15 days after receiving this, all televisions must be removed from all houses. If any television is found turned on, or even in a non-use condition, after 15 days, take note that as directed by the trustees from London, we will be forced to take re-possession of those houses. If you want to stay in this colony, all of you will compulsorily remove all televisions from your houses.”
“This land was donated by the elder brother of one of the trustees. These houses are built using zakat money we raised. That’s why everyone has to adhere to these religious rules. Those not following the rules have left,” says the local representative for the sponsors, Bashir Dawood Dukanwala who is the camp’s caretaker.
The order was first issued last year but several reminders have followed. A dozen families have already left and many more are on their way out, sources said.
Most families here say they got the Rs 50,000 compensation for their homes destroyed but that’s too meagre to buy or build another home.
When contacted at their London office, a functionary of the Muslim Relief Organisation, who declined to be named, admitted that the outfit’s members themselves used TVs in London, but “only when required”.
“Television is only a necessary evil, we use it only when required. It is not meant for any entertainment or pleasure,” he said.
The Tableeghi-e-Jamaat in Vadodara, which Dukanwala is associated with, claimed it had nothing to do with the issue.
Speaking to The Sunday Express, its Amir, Shoaib Qazi, a schoolteacher, said: “We do not mind TV or music. If they are doing this in the relief colony, it is beyond my knowledge.”
For the residents, that’s of little comfort. After five years in relief camps, Mohammad Shah Diwan hoped he had, at last, found a secure home in Detral.
“I never expected that we will have to go through this,” he said. “We are constantly harassed and told that if we do not follow those rules, we are kafirs.”
Diwan moved out three months ago with his daughter. At Detral, he worked as a poultry farmer but the caretaker asked him to limit his interaction with local villagers. “Then they built an Ibadatkhana for residents to pray and asked us not to even go to the village mosque,” says Diwan. He now lives off his teacher’s pension while his two sons drive autorickshaws.
Similar is the plight of Idrish Shaikh, a tailor who lost his home in Vejalpur in Godhra in the riots.
“I lost all my property in the riots and now our own people are treating us like animals,” says Shaikh. “Once the caretakers came and tried to lock up my home in my absence. They said I had been warned not to let my customers into the colony. I had no choice but to obey them.”
But Iqbal Diwan is one who moved out to his uncle’s house in Halol in the Panchmahals. “My sister is unmarried and we no longer have a home. We stay with our uncle in Halol who faced a lot of hardship after his house was damaged in the riots. But this is still better than staying under those people in Detral,” says Iqbal.
“They asked me and my father to wear caps at all times and to keep a long beard. We are not very comfortable with that lifestyle. There were unpleasant situations outside my house almost everyday when the caretakers would come and ask us to do this or that,” he says. “So the only option we had was to leave.”
Detral sarpanch Gajanand Mahant admitted he was aware of the new rules in the relief colony but said he didn’t wish to intervene. Some families went to the police, too. “But the police said it was our internal problem and it was up to the trust to decide what to do,” says Idris Sheikh.
Gujarat DGP tells Muslims: Sing Vande Mataram, I do it, not un-Islamic
Nov 15, 2009
Ahmedabad : Gujarat’s first Muslim Director General of Police, SS Khandwawala, has urged Muslims to sing Vande Mataram, saying it’s not un-Islamic to do so.
He cited his personal example to make his point. “I give a salaam to my mother everyday before I leave home and also to my motherland,” he told The Sunday Express. “When we offer namaaz, we bow down and kiss the ground, which itself is a salute to the motherland. Religion never prevents a man from respecting his motherland.”
In a statement to the press, Khandwawala said: “If Hindus consider land as mata (mother), then giving respect to the land is the duty of a true Muslims as well. There can be no two opinions on the belief that the earth is our mother. Earth gives us food, fulfils all our needs and we take our last breath in its lap. Therefore, calling Earth a mother, saluting her and respecting her, (as Prophet Mohammad said) is the duty of every Muslim.”
“If heaven lies beneath your mother’s feet and respecting the mother is the duty of a true Muslim—just as not hurting the sentiments of others and respecting all religions equally is also a Muslim’s duty—then it is equally important to know that saying ‘Vande Matram’ is not against Islam. Based on my understanding of Islam and the Holy Quran, I would say that singing Vande Matram should be a matter of pride for all Indian Muslims, an action of respecting the values of Islam,” he said.
Jamiat resolution on Vande Mataram is unacceptable: Salman Khurshid
15 Nov 2009
NEW DELHI: The resolution of Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind (JuH) asking Muslims not to recite 'Vande Mataram' is "unacceptable" and will be
"counter-productive", Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said.
He also doubted whether the resolution was the view of the entire Jamiat as the organisation is divided into two factions.
"It (the resolution) is unacceptable. It is counter- productive. It is not good for our society and our country. It is not good for Muslims," Khurshid told Karan Thapar on Devil's Advocate programme in the CNN-IBN when asked to comment on the resolution passed by the JuH at its convention in Deoband on November 3.
The JuH, largest organisation of Sunni Muslims, in its resolution endorsed a fatwa issued by Darul-Uloom of Deoband in 2006 which had declared recital of 'Vande Mataram' as un-Islamic.
Khurshid, himself a Muslim, said he recites Vande Mataram out of "national pride, a sense of patriotism and commitment".
Asked whether he feels proud of singing Vande Mataram, the minister said, "Not only proud, but I am committed. I consider it my obligation."
He disapproved of efforts to force anyone to desist from reciting the national song or even to force anyone to sing it.
Shia board seeks Urdu translation of Vande Mataram
15 November 2009
LUCKNOW: The All India Shia Personal Law Board (AISPLB) wants an "authenticated and officially approved Urdu translation of Vande Matram" to end
the raging mystery.
On Saturday, AISPLB president and chairman Maulana Mirza Mohammed Athar faxed a request to the President Prathiba Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to translate the national song ‘‘to help the confused community arrive at a decision’’.
‘‘The conflict over singing of Vande Matram triggered recently is posing a grave certain threat to the nation’s unity,’’ said Athar. He said this had given an opportunity to certain forces ‘‘to indulge in the politics of hatred and tarnish the image of Muslims by labelling them unpatriotic. He said the needless controversy needs to be put to rest. ‘‘We request that government should circulate the song’s translated version to minority institutes to enable them to form a consensus on the issue.’’
‘‘Vested interests are misinterpreting religious constrains of Muslims. Although Islam forbids its followers to bow to any entity other than Allah, paying respect to the motherland is altogether a different matter,’’ he said.
Nothing wrong with Haj subsidy
This is with reference to Umer Khalidi’s article “Haj subsidy” (Open Page, October 4). All the argument is based on the interpretation of the word manis ta taa‘a found in the scripture. It literally means affordability; whether it is physical, monetary, by own self or through other source, is not defined. So all the observations are made based on the assumption that it refers to monetary affordability. Verse 97 of chapter 3 part 4 states that pilgrimage to Makkah is a duty to God for him who can afford the journey (manistataa ‘a ). There is no definition of the word manis ta taa ‘a.
The established norms for interpretation are that, in case the meaning of any word is not clear, it should be understood with reference to such a word occurring elsewhere in the text of the Koran, if it is not found in the Koran, then we should refer to the Hadis (sayings of the Prophet).
1. This word occurs in almost 15 places in the Koran, chapter 2 (verse 217, 273) chapter 4 (25, 98, 129) chapter 11(20) chapter 17(48) chapter 18 (41, 97, 101) chapter 21(43) chapter 36 (67, 75) and chapter 51(45).
Verse 25 of chapter 4 says that if anyone cannot afford to marry a freewoman, he can very well marry any maid under his possession. Here an alternative is given for non affordability. So this does not apply to the subject in discussion. All the other 14 instances clearly indicate the physical capability of the person.
Hazrat Akrama stands by this description (Tafseer Ibn Kaseer). Hence the entire argument of the opposition gets shattered in the light of the above clarification.
2. Let us examine it with reference to Hadis. Interpretation in Tafseer Ibn Kaseer, page 6 says that the Prophet explained this verse as the affordability for food and conveyance. The pilgrim may have the affordability by himself or he may have it through other source. The tafseer also quotes from Akrama, the Prophet’s disciple, that it refers to physical health only. Hence the utilisation of Haj subsidy does in no way mar the sanctity of the pilgrimage.
Full report at: http://www.hindu.com/op/2009/11/15/stories/2009111550031600.htm
Can the return of justice to Swat halt the Taliban?
November 14, 2009
MINGORA, Pakistan (CNN) -- Nasir Rehman has been waiting 25 long years to resolve a land dispute case. In that time, he's lost his mother, father and two children. He sold his house and a chunk of his land to pay for the dragging litigation.
But now, with a new judicial system in gear in Pakistan's Swat Valley, Rehman, 74, is hopeful that he will finally find resolution.
"I'm happy," Rehman said. "May Allah let the system continue forever."
Residents said the courts here were ineffective -- slow moving and often corrupt.
Lawyers at the Mingora courthouse said that all you had to do to delay a case was simply not show up. People grew frustrated.
"They were fed up with the proceedings of the court, particularly the delay in proceedings" said lawyer Hazrat Usman.
That was one of the major reasons that the Taliban was able to take control of Swat.
The militants exploited the grievances of the population and gained support with promises of swift justice in the form of Sharia, a strict code of law based on the Quran.
But what the Taliban delivered was their own brand of the law.
Courtrooms fell silent as the Taliban captured the region. The main courthouse was shut and the local lawyers' conference hall, bombed. Public floggings and beheadings outraged the people.
Full report at: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/11/14/pakistan.swat.justice/
Blast kills one, wounds six others in southern Thailand
15 Nov, 2009
Suspected Islamic insurgents have attacked a truck load of soldiers in the southern Thai province of Narathiwat, killing one and wounding five others.
Police say a civilian was also hurt in the blast.
They say the device was hidden in a motorcycle and probably detonated by mobile phone.
More than 4,000 people have been killed and thousands more wounded in Thailand's Muslim-majority south since a separatist insurgency re-erupted in early 2004.
Broaching Birth Control With Afghan Mullahs
By SABRINA TAVERNISE
November 14, 2009
MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan — The mullahs stared silently at the screen. They shifted in their chairs and fiddled with pencils. Koranic verses flashed above them, but the topic was something that made everybody a little uncomfortable.
“A baby should be breast-fed for at least 21 months,” said the instructor. “Milk is safe inside the breast. Dust and germs can’t get inside.”
It was a seminar on birth control, a likely subject for a nation whose fertility rate of 6 children per woman is the highest in Asia. But the audience was unusual: 10 Islamic religious leaders from this city and its suburbs, wearing turbans and sipping tea.
The message was simple. Babies are good, but not too many; wait two years before having another to give your wife’s body a chance to recover. Nothing in Islam expressly forbids birth control. But it does emphasize procreation, and mullahs, like leaders of other faiths, consider children to be blessings from God, and are usually the most determined opponents of having fewer of them.
It is an attitude that Afghanistan can no longer afford, in the view of the employees of the nonprofit group that runs the seminars, Marie Stopes International. The high birthrate places a heavy weight on a society where average per capita earnings are about $700 a year. It is also a risk to mothers. Afghanistan is second only to Sierra Leone in maternal mortality rates, which run as high as 8 percent in some areas.
“If we work hard on this issue, we can rescue our country from misery,” said Rahmatuddin Bashardost, a doctor who helps lead the mullahs’ classes.
Full report at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/world/asia/15mazar.html
Support drops for UN resolution on religious defamation
November 14. 2009
NEW YORK // A UN resolution advanced by Muslim countries that seeks to outlaw criticism of religion has seen a decline in support since last year.
The number of countries continuing to support the resolution proposed by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to promote the concept of “defamation of religions” dropped to 81. Eighty-five countries in the UN’s Third Committee on Human Rights voted for the resolution last year, which itself marked a reduction in support from 95, in 2007.
Likewise, the number of countries voting against the resolution increased to 55 this year from 50 last year, while the number of abstentions rose from 42 to 43.
The concept of religious defamation has divided western and Muslim countries since before September 2005, when a Danish newspaper published a dozen cartoons satirising the Prophet Mohammed and sparked violent protests across the Islamic world.
Muslim states have pushed non-binding resolutions on combating religious defamation through the 192-nation General Assembly and the Geneva-based Human Rights Council since 1999, arguing that Muslims need protection from Islamophobic race-hate.
Full report at: http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091115/FOREIGN/711149902/1002/FOREIGN
ISLAMIC WORLD: Plan to reform nations' universities
15 November 2009
The 57 Islamic states have approved a plan to upgrade their universities as a means of achieving world-class status, as well as reforming them to become "functional developmental institutes" providing valuable resources for business, industry and society.
The plan was announced at a workshop, Achieving Excellence in Higher Education, in Ifrane in Morocco earlier this month. It was organised by the Islamic development bank of the 57 members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and Al-Akhawayn University. The conference consists of countries from the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, Caucasus, Balkans, Southeast Asia and South Asia.
The aim of the plan is to build a critical mass of world-class scientists and technologists in targeted science and technology areas, while also promoting relevant research and development outcomes for the private sector.
Fifteen institutions, five from Africa, Asia and the Arab world, were identified to carry out the upgrades and reform, and to promote scientific research in agriculture, nanotechnology and information and communication technologies.
The institutions were selected using international and regional university rankings, as well as their readiness to meet the demands and their likely impact on the development of knowledge-based economy.
The plan will be tested in a pilot programme involving three institutions from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Eventually, at least 12 additional institutions around the various Islamic states will be involved.
Full report at: http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20091113142229185
SWAT: 8 terrorists killed in Charbagh
November 15, 2009
SWAT: At least 8 militants were killed in exchange of fire with security forces in Charbagh, some kilometers away from Mingora, which was the stronghold of Taliban led militants before operation Rah-e-Rast.
On the basis of intelligence report, the security forces launched search operation in area of Charbagh and militants after seeing them opened fire on them.
The security forces retaliated with full force and killed all 8 militants, sources informed Online. The security forces have also recovered cache of arms from their possession.
MULTAN: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said on Saturday that Pakistan possessed will and ability to fight out terrorism but the international community’s help to enhance country’s capacity was vital to win war against the menace.
Addressing a press conference at Multan airport, he said that Pakistan only lacked capacity and talks had been held with international community on the subject of capacity building which would hopefully yield positive result.
The Prime Minster said that terrorism phenomenon did develop overnight but government took swift action and conducted successful operation in Swat. “Over 2 million displaced people were settled back in their native valley just within eight weeks after the operation.”
To a question about evidence regarding Indian involvement in Balochistan, he said that the issue was take up during his meeting with Indian Prime Minister at Sharm El-Sheikh and was made part of the joint statement issued after the meeting.
“Evidence will be presented at suitable time,” he added.
Full report at: http://thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=91411
Peshawar: 3 terrorists killed in counter-firing
November 15, 2009
PESHAWAR: Unidentified terrorists attacked on the house of Union Council Nazim in Budah Ber village of Peshawar Sunday, however three terrorists – clad in burqa – were killed on the spot in counter-firing.
Nazim Mohammad Fahim told Geo News, three unidentified terrorists attacked on his guestroom early Sunday morning, however they were killed in counter-firing.
Police sources have confirmed the incident.
Meanwhile, police have surrounded the area to avoid any possible terror activity.
‘Maj Hasan may have wired money to Pak’
Nov 15, 2009
Houston/Washington : US Army psychiatrist Maj Nidal Hasan, paralysed from waist down due to bullet wounds received during his shooting spree that killed 13 soldiers, may have wired money to Pakistan which could lead to his possible links to militant groups there, according to two Congressmen.
Citing Congressman Pete Hoekstra, the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, The Dallas News reported about 39-year-old Major Hasan’s possible connections to Pakistan.
“Republican Pete Hoekstra, said sources ‘outside of the (intelligence) community’ learned about Hasan's possible connections to the Asian country, which faces a massive Islamist insurgency and is widely believed to be Osama bin Laden’s hiding place,” the paper said.
Hoekstra, the daily said, would not identify the sources. But, it said “they are trying to follow up on it because they recognise that if there are communications — phone or money transfers with somebody in Pakistan — it just raises a whole other level of questions.”
Full report at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/maj-hasan-may-have-wired-money-to-pak/541552/
Iran condemns US mosque seizure
November 15, 2009
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran on Sunday denounced as 'disgraceful' U.S. moves to seize four mosques and a New York City skyscraper owned by a Muslim nonprofit organization suspected of Iranian links.
Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said the moves show that President Barack Obama's slogan for change was deceitful and he was no different from his predecessor George W. Bush.
"Extension of sanctions and restrictions against Iran for another year by the American president and the blocking the accounts and assets of the Alavi foundation in America is a real disgrace," he told parliament.
"After a year of empty speeches and slogans, the behaviour and conduct of this president in practice is no better than the actions of his predecessor," Larijani added, in a speech broadcast on radio.
In what could prove to be one of the biggest counterterrorism seizures in U.S. history, prosecutors on Thursday filed a civil complaint in federal court against the Alavi Foundation, seeking the forfeiture of more than $500 million in assets.
The assets include bank accounts; Islamic centers consisting of schools and mosques in New York, Maryland, California and Houston; more than 100 acres in Virginia; and a 36-story Manhattan office tower.
Confiscating the properties would be a sharp blow against Iran, which the U.S. government has accused of bankrolling terrorism and trying to build a nuclear bomb, charges Iran has denied.
Full report at: http://www.gainesville.com/article/20091115/NEWS/911159982/1002/NEWS01?Title=Iran-condemns-US-mosque-seizure-
Moderate Arab Islamists struggle to steer a democratic course
Splits within the Arab world’s foremost Islamist opposition movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, with its ties to Muslim communities in Germany and elsewhere, could be signs that the group is not interested in democracy.
For much of its 80-year history, the Muslim Brotherhood's very name symbolized promotion of a violent, anti-western movement bent on strict imposition of Islamic law. Much of the first generation of the current violent Islamist movements trace their roots to the Brotherhood and were inspired by the organization's radical ideologues.
Yet, for the past 30 years, the Brotherhood's loosely aligned chapters in various Arab countries have participated in elections, shed secrecy for internal party democracy and justified the electoral path as their way forward. When asked in 1980 after the fall of the Shah of Iran, whether the Islamic revolution constituted a model for Egypt, then Muslim Brotherhood leader Omar el Telmesani told this reporter: "No, our Shah died in 1970," a reference to the late Egyptian nationalist leader Gamal Abdel Nasser.
But rather than encouraging the Brotherhood's more recent democratic inclinations, Arab governments are cracking down in a move that threatens to widen the credibility gap between regimes and public opinion and could drive moderate Islamists toward the movement’s radical jihad-preaching fringe.
In response to the Brotherhood's emergence from elections in 2005 as Egypt's main opposition group, the government of President Hosni Mubarak has constitutionally banned religion-based political parties, introduced legislation preventing Muslim Brothers from standing in elections as independent candidates and sought to cripple the movement by arresting hundreds of Brothers, among them some of the Brotherhood’s most moderate leaders.
Full report at: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4889244,00.html?maca=en-en_nr-1893-xml-atom
Iraq VP threatens to veto vote law over refugees
Sun Nov 15, 2009
BAGHDAD, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Iraq's Sunni Arab vice president threatened on Sunday to veto a new election law unless seats in parliament are allocated to Iraqi refugees, casting fresh uncertainty over the January election.
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi told parliament the law had to be altered to give a voice to Iraqis abroad. Many of them are members of Iraq's once-dominant Sunni Muslim community who fled after Saddam Hussein's ouster in 2003 unleashed a sectarian war.
"Unfortunately this law did not give fair treatment to the large numbers of Iraqi refugees outside Iraq, who were forced to leave their country for reasons beyond their control," Hashemi said in a letter to parliament, adding that he would use his veto power unless the changes were incorporated.
The vice president's veto threat raised doubts about whether Iraq would be able to hold a general election in January.
The electoral authorities need time to prepare for the ballot, expected to take place between Jan. 18-23. The vote is viewed as a major milestone as Iraq emerges from 6-1/2 years of bloodshed and stands on its own feet while U.S. forces withdraw.
The election date had been in question for weeks because of a dispute pitting ethnic Kurds against Arabs and Turkmen on how to conduct the vote in the northern city of Kirkuk, which Kurds claim as their ancestral home
Full report at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKLF23517220091115?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0
Jewish, Muslim congregations to participate in joint events
by Elizabeth Dunbar
November 13, 2009
St. Paul, Minn. — The conflict between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East has often caused tension between people of the two different faiths living in other parts of the world.
To ease that tension, Jewish rabbis and Muslim imams have established relationships with each other, hoping their dialogue will trickle down through their congregations and promote peace and understanding.
Those relationships, both new and old, will be celebrated this weekend in the Twin Cities at several events that are part of a larger effort in the United States, Canada and Europe to bring Jews and Muslims together.
Nine congregations in Minnesota, including one Catholic congregation, will participate in the so-called "twinnings" events. About 100 Jewish synagogues and 100 Muslim mosques in the U.S., Canada and Europe have joint events planned during the weekend.
Last year, about 50 synagogues and 50 mosques participated, and organizers with the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding said they expect interest in the program to keep growing.
"It says there's a real hunger out there for this in both communities," said Walter Ruby, Muslim-Jewish relations program officer with the foundation. "Both communities have a strong interest in working together.
Full report at: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/11/13/jewish-muslim-meeting/
Catholic-Muslim debate in Milwaukee
Friday, November 13, 2009
The annual meeting of the Midwest Catholic Muslim Interreligious Dialogue was hosted by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Initiatives and the Islamic Society of Milwaukee. The meeting was co-chaired by Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America and Bishop Francis Reiss, Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit, on behalf the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
According to a news release from the USCCB, deliberations began with a well-attended public lecture entitled, “Faithful Citizenship – Catholic and Muslim Engagement in Civic Life” at the Islamic Center School. The Catholic perspective was presented by Michael Hovey, coordinator of the Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs of the Archdiocese of Detroit. The Islamic perspective was given by Dr. Irfan Omar, Professor of Islamic Studies at Marquette University.
The dialogue continued October 26, at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist with two presentations on “The Nature and Dignity of the Human Person: Implications for the Public Square.” The Catholic perspective was presented by Father Leo Walsh, Associate Director of the Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs at the USCCB. The Muslim perspective was presented by Dr. Zeki Saritoprak of John Carroll University, Cleveland. The participants noted several points of convergence arising from a common experience of both communities, especially regarding the experience of immigrant communities in the United States.
Full report at: http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?idCategory=33&idsub=134&id=22610&t=Catholic-Muslim+debate+in+Milwaukee
Robertson's remarks: Muslims seek repudiation
By Rosalind S. Helderman
November 15, 2009
Fresh off his landslide victory in the race for Virginia governor, Robert F. McDonnell is already being forced to confront how he plans to handle his friendship with minister Pat Robertson, a longtime ally but also a highly controversial figure, once he takes office.
Virginia Muslims are calling on McDonnell (R) to disavow comments made by the Virginia Beach religious broadcaster last week in response to the shootings at Fort Hood, Tex., in which Robertson asserted that Islam is "not a religion" but a "violent political system" and that those who practice it should be treated like members of a communist or fascist party.
Robertson has made similar assertions about Islam before, but the recent comments came only a couple of weeks after he made a late $25,000 donation to McDonnell's campaign and just days after he attended McDonnell's election night party. He told a reporter there that he would be visiting McDonnell in his hotel suite while awaiting election results.
During the campaign, McDonnell played down his ties to Robertson, whom he has known since he attended the law school Robertson founded in the late 1980s. McDonnell tried during the race to convince Virginians that he was a social conservative who could speak more broadly to issues that cross party lines.
Full report at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/14/AR2009111402345.html
Kalyan retorts, terms Mulayam an opportunist
November 15, 2009
A day after Samajwadi party chief Mulayam Singh publicly disowned Kalyan Singh, the former BJP leader has retorted and accused Mulayam of betraying him.
Kalyan Singh said that Amar Singh and Mulayam Singh approached him and his son Rajvir Singh - currently an MLA on SP ticket.
"Amar Singh and Mulayam Singh came to us, we didn't go to them," said Kalyan Singh.
The former BJP leader also said that during the Lok Sabha elections Mulayam made him campaign.
Meanwhile, Rajvir Singh said that he's very hurt by Mulayam's statement and announced his resignation from SP.
"I resign from Samajwadi party," said Rajvir Singh.
Rajvir was initially SP's candidate from Firozabad which later went to Dimple Yadav, Mulayam's daughter-in-law.
Mulayam disowns Kalyan
On Saturday, when asked about Kalyan Singh being part of the Samajwadi Party, Mulayam said Kalyan has never been part of the party and will never be a part of it.
"Kalayan Singh is not in the Samajwadi Party. He never was part of it," said Mulayam.
After the Samajwadi Party's bypoll disaster in Uttar Pradesh, the party wanted to distance itself from the former BJP leader as far as possible.
Kalyan Singh is identified with the demolition of the Babri Masjid, as he was the chief minister of the state then.
And Mulayam's association with him is said to have cost Mulayam the humiliation of losing on his home ground in the recent bypolls.
India: As Muslims desert him Mulayam Yadav parts ways with former Hindutva icon Kalyan Singh
15 Nov 2009
LUCKNOW: In fast changing political developments the strange political bedfellows Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and BJP renegade Kalyan Singh who came together just before the Lok Sabha polls have formally parted ways in the aftermath of the SP rout in the recent by-polls.
Taken aback by Mulayam Singh Yadav’s bid to downplay their political association, Kalyan Singh on Sunday said that Yadav had ditched him and that he would now work to strengthen Hindutva. Singh also said that he wanted to repent for deserting the BJP and though no longer a member of the party he would work to strengthen it. He said that he was still an RSS worker and all political options were open before him.
Political adversaries till the other day, the coming together of Mulayam and Kalyan Singh, who is seen as the architect of the Babri Masjid demolitions, just ahead of the parliamentary elections had surprised many, leading to several Muslim leaders including Azam Khan deserting the SP.
Full report at: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/Kalyan-Singh-and-Mulayam-Yadav-part-ways/articleshow/5233052.cms
Azam Khan strikes back at Mulayam: It’s a ploy, Muslims won’t forgive
Nov 15, 2009
Lucknow : Former Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan today dismissed SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s claims that former BJP leader Kalyan Singh would never be allowed to join his party, saying it was a ploy to mislead the Muslim voters.
Khan was expelled from the party after the Lok Sabha polls following his criticism of the party chief’s decision to join hands with Kalyan.
“Poll debacle in Firozabad has unnerved the SP chief. He should wait for some more time before making such announcements,” said Khan.
“Mulayam Singh can ditch anybody. But he would ditch Kalyan Singh so soon after the debacle in Firozabad has surprised me. This is the height of opportunism,” he said.
“What prompted Mulayam to issue clarification over his ties with Kalyan? The SP has lost its credibility, its secular credentials. It is a rudderless ship,” he added.
Khan, a former Leader of the Opposition in UP Assembly, said: “Muslims will never forgive Mulayam for forging ties with a man who was instrumental in the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya in 1992.”
“Over the years, Mulayam has ditched everybody, including the Left parties, Congress, minorities and the whole nation. Kalyan is his latest victim. So, nobody will trust his claims,” he added.
“Muslims will never believe Mulayam Singh. For them, Samajwadi Party is a bigger culprit than Kalyan Singh,” Khan added.
Women-only mosque opens in Sandton
By Avashnee Moodley
Nov 15, 2009
A women-only mosque in Malboro Gardens, Sandton, opened on Friday.
The Sandton Muslim Jamaat Mosque for women is the first of its kind in the country. Women worshippers now have a place to offer prayer adjacent to the men's mosque.
Rashid Mayet said they decided to build the mosque because of their large worship base.
He said people travelled from as far afield as Durban and Cape Town to attend the mosque.
"The ladies' facility will allow them to pray while their husbands and male family members are attending prayers at their mosque," said Mayet.
Construction started in January. The interior decor and landscaping was recently completed.
The building cost about R800000 and was funded with public and members' donations. Materials for the building were sourced locally.
The mosque accommodates about 30 women in the prayer room and includes a facility for babies.
Iran condemns Saudi Arabia, US for crackdown on Yemeni Muslims
Nov. 15, 2009
TEHRAN (ISNA)-Iran’s Parliament Speaker slammed Saudi Arabia’s interference in Yemen conflict on Sunday adding US was also involved in the crackdown against Muslims.
“Interference of Saudi Government in Yemen and frequent bombardments with Tornado and F-15 fighter jets against helpless Muslims in Yemen is astonishing,” said Ali Larijani in his speech at the Parliament session.
Reports indicate that the US government also cooperated and assisted in such suppressive measures, he said and added, “this is another sample of the changes that the US President had promised.”
Larijani also referred to US new measures against Iran saying they show the “depth of changes” promised by the US.
US President Barack Obama extended US economic sanction against Iran for one year on Thursday. The US is also trying to seize a 36-story building on New York’s Fifth Avenue that belongs to a charity foundation (Alavi Foundation) which the US accuses of having ties with Iran’s government by funneling money to Bank Melli that is also under sanction allegedly for aiding the country’s nuclear program.
He also asserted that the US media propaganda against Iran, its interference in post-election events and its unreasonable proposal in the nuclear issue in addition to its ignorance of Israel’s settlement activities all prognosticate that the “alleged changes” are nothing but deceiving symbols for naive politicians.
Also 250 legislators issued a statement that condemned cruel murder of Yemeni Muslims by Saudi Arabian fighters.
Reminding Muslims of their duty to keep unity and solidarity against enemies including Israel and the US, the statement added such measures will only benefit enemies of Islam.
Iranian film to be showcased in Spanish L'Alternativa fest
Nov. 15, 2009
TEHRAN (ISNA)-Iran's "Be Calm and Count to Seven" by Ramtin Lavafipour is to be screened in 16th L'Alternativa Film Festival in Barcelona, Spain.
The film has already taken Golden Tiger from Rotterdam Film Festival in Holland and Asian Cinema New Talent Award from Shanghai International Film Festival.
L'Alternativa Film Festival runs on November 13-21.
The Iranian movie along with seven other films from the US, Russia, Mexico and France has been picked to be showcased in international feature film competition section.
"Be Calm and Count to Seven" narrates the story of four people living in a secluded island and their fates are intertwined.
What's known about Iran-linked Alavi Foundation?
By Michael B. Farrell and Staf
November 14, 2009 edition
First set up by the Shah of Iran in the 1970s, the Alavi Foundation's alleged links to Iran have been under the scrutiny of federal investigators for years.
The New York-based Alavi Foundation is a high-profile organization that claims to be a non profit devoted to promoting Islam and the Persian language, and has even reportedly made donations to former President Bill Clinton's foundation. But it has been under FBI suspicion for years over alleged ties with Iran.
On Thursday, those suspicions were laid out in a civil claim filed by federal prosecutors in New York seeking forfeiture of Alavi's interests in a Manhattan skyscraper and other properties that it owns in New York, Maryland, Virginia, Texas, and California. At least four mosques are located on these properties.
Federal prosecutors say the foundation is merely a front for the Iranian government and transfers rental income from its properties to Iran's Bank Melli, which was first subject to US sanctions in 2007 for alleged support of Iran's nuclear program.
Since the US declared a state of emergency over Iran's nuclear activities during the hostage crisis in the 1970s, the federal government can take action to seize any assets it believes are being used to support those efforts.
Full report at: http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/1114/p02s10-usgn.html
US targets Iran with bid to seize NY skyscraper
By Adam Goldman in New York
In what could be one of the biggest counter-terrorism seizures in US history, federal prosecutors sought to take over four US mosques and a New York City skyscraper owned by a Muslim organisation suspected of being controlled by the Iranian government.
Prosecutors on Thursday filed a civil complaint in a federal court against the Alavi Foundation, seeking the forfeiture of more than $500m (£300m) in assets, including bank accounts, Islamic centres consisting of schools and mosques in New York, Maryland, California and Houston, more than 40 hectares of land in Virginia, and a 36-storey Manhattan office tower.
Confiscating the properties would be a sharp blow against Iran, which the US government has accused of bankrolling terrorism and trying to build a nuclear bomb.
Prosecutors said the Alavi Foundation managed the office tower on behalf of the Iranian government and, working with a front company known as Assa Corp, illegally funnelled millions in rental income to Iran's state-owned Bank Melli. A US Treasury official has accused Bank Melli of providing support for Iran's nuclear programme, and it is illegal in the US to do business with the bank.
John D Winter, the Alavi Foundation's lawyer, said it intends to challenge the case in the courts. He claimed that the foundation has been co-operating with the government's investigation for the better part of a year. "Obviously the foundation is disappointed that the government has decided to bring this action," he said.
The action against the Shia Muslim mosques is sure to inflame relations between the US government and American Muslims. Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American- Islamic Relations, said: "Whatever the details of the government's case against the owners of the mosques, as a civil rights organisation we are concerned that the seizure of American houses of worship could have a chilling effect on the religious freedom of citizens of all faiths and may send a negative message to Muslims worldwide."
New hearing set for local Muslim centre
By SUSAN FRICK CARLMAN
November 14, 2009
The DuPage County Zoning Board of Appeals will revisit the proposal for a Muslim learning center on Naperville's eastern edge at a public hearing set for 7 p.m. Dec. 7 on the third floor of the Jack T. Knuepfer Administration Center, 421 County Farm Road, Wheaton.
For the second time in a month, the County Board on Tuesday took a pass on approving the request for a conditional use permit to enable a group of five applicants, four of them Naperville and Lisle residents, to open the Irshad Learning Center. The facility, a part-time Muslim school and meeting place, would operate on a three-acre site on the north side of 75th Street east of Naper Boulevard that formerly held a private preschool.
The zoning board voted to recommend denial of the project in June and reaffirmed its decision in September, but the county's Development Committee last month agreed unanimously to support it, attaching a set of conditions. The ultimate decision is up to the County Board.
District 5 Rep. Tony Michelassi of Aurora, chairman of the Development Committee, said he will contact the ZBA to clarify that the intent of the board's deferral last week is for it to consider the new conditions and not simply once again confirm its previous agreement.
County planner Paul Hoss said the public hearing isn't legally required, but the County Board wants to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to speak up on the proposal.
Full report at: http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/napervillesun/news/1884431,DuPage-Muslim-center-hearing-NA111409.article
French President Confronts Radical Islam Head-On
November 13, 2009
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to start a dialogue with his countrymen about their national identity, a subject that would not have raised eyebrows 50 years ago but has engendered a fierce political debate today.
Martine Aubry, leader of the opposition Socialist party, contends Sarkozy is just playing electoral politics by appealing to his conservative base in advance of next year’s regional elections.
But Sarkozy showed he is serious during a 45-minute speech on Thursday that Elysee Palace had billed as being dedicated solely to farm subsidies and related issues.
What's more, he demonstrated that he is willing to wage a head-on battle against the forces of political correctness.
Recalling the worst moments of the Nazi occupation during World War II, Sarkozy said the French discovered that they had a national soul only when they were about to lose it.
Then he espoused a national identity that might resonate for Americans in the wake of the Fort Hood, Texas, massacre by a Muslim-American army major who reportedly espoused radical Muslim beliefs.
Sarkozy suggested that France could be on the verge of losing its soul because of a multiculturalism that tolerates radical Islamic fundamentalism.
France emerged as a nation state with a strong central government in the 17th century under Louis XIV but has changed its system of government many times since then. The current French state, known as the Fifth Republic, was established when Gen. De Gaulle returned to power in 1958.
Full report at: http://www.newsmax.com/timmerman/Sarkozy_radical_Islam/2009/11/13/285914.html
Somali insurgents say Puntland region "unIslamic, oppressive"
November 14, 2009
MOGADISHU, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- An Islamist insurgent group in Somalia on Saturday accused authorities in the semi-autonomous northeastern Somali region of Puntland of being "unIslamic" and of suppressing its people.
Sheikh Hassan Yaqub Ali, spokesman for the Al-Shabaab-appointed Islamist administration in Kismayu, south Somalia, told local Shabelle radio that the region's authorities did not implement Islamic Sharia law and "oppress the people."
Two senior regional officials in Puntland, a lawmaker and a judge, were on Tuesday gunned down in the autonomous state and Al-Shabaab Islamist group was singled out as a possible culprit.
The spokesman attributed the lack of Islamic rule in the state for the growing general insecurity in the region and the recent killing of top regional officials, including the judge who presided over people accused of militancy and having links to Al-Shabaab.
"Any place where there is no Islamic rule you will see insecurity and the suppression of people and that is what is happening in Puntland," the Al-Shabaab spokesman said.
The group's spokesman also accused the region's officials of handing over to Ethiopia the people suspected of opposing the government in Addis Ababa.
The judge has reportedly presided over trials of people suspected of involvement in piracy and others belonging to the Islamist insurgent group of Al-Shabaab, which mainly operates in the south and center of Somalia.
Full report at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-11/14/content_12455145.htm
U.S. diplomacy lacks moral imperative in war of ideas with al-Qaeda
November 15 2009
The U.S. is not losing the battle of perception against al-Qaeda in the Muslim world purely because they see America as a Godless society. Due to a systematic failure in public diplomacy, Muslims also see the U.S. lacking any foundational moral code whatsoever – divine, Kantian or otherwise.
In his article in The Journal of International Security Affairs, Former director of Voice of America Robert R. Reilly asserts that the persistent focus on image over content in diplomatic policy since the end of the Cold War has yielded nugatory policies that inhibit our ability to effectively promote American values. I tend to agree because the United States always seems to want to constantly communicate “how we look” to the world as opposed to telling them “who we are.”
What does America stand for? The Britney Spears effect
The solution is selling the justice of the U.S. mission as superior to that of Osama bin Laden’s cause, who has, believe it or not, claimed the high ground in his public relations war against the West. Instead, the U.S. is piping Britney Spears pop songs into the Middle East because we want to sell our culture of prosperity and happiness. Mr. Reilly references British author Frank Furedi who adeptly describes a deeper problem, that being "the lack of clarity about what the West stands for”:
For a brief moment, many observers believed that 9/11 would represent a rallying point and provide the West with a sense of mission. However, in the absence of a coherent system of meaning, the West struggles to promote its own values; instead, it relies on tawdry advertising and marketing... This focus on improving ‘the image’ indicated that the U.S. was not prepared to engage in a serious battle of ideas.
Full report at: http://www.examiner.com/x-4454-Chicago-Geopolitics-Examiner~y2009m11d15-US-diplomacy-lacks-moral-imperative-in-war-of-ideas-with-AlQaeda
Latest in Rana-Headley puzzle: Visa racket in India
November 15, 2009
Fresh details are now emerging on how terror suspect Tahawwur Rana operated.
In the latest application sent by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to a court in Chicago, seeking an extension of Rana's custody, the FBI says Rana was trying to get people into the US using fake credentials by exploiting a loophole in the immigration procedure.
In the latest FBI application for the extension of Rana's custody filed in Chicago, FBI says:
* Through immigration documentation Rana was trying to bring Lashkar operatives into the US.
* In an email dated December 3, 2008, Rana pointed out loopholes in American visa rules, which could be exploited to bring in Lashkar operatives.
* On September 2, 2009, Rana calls a Lashkar commander, talks of immigration for a particular individual.
* The Lashkar commander says that person's degree is in Textile.
* Rana says change it to a chef for faster immigration.
What's also alarming is evidence that Rana, on a trip to Kochi in Kerala just before the Mumbai attacks, could have helped terrorists responsible for attacks across the country escape India.
However, on Sunday, the Home Secretary said it could take four to six weeks to get a clear picture.
The other input in the Rana-Headley puzzle is a photocopy of Tawahhur Rana's passport, which has been recovered from a Hotel in Kochi.
Rana was there on November 16 and 17 of 2008, days before Mumbai was attacked.
Full report at: http://www.ndtv.com/news/india/latest_in_rana-headley_puzzle_visa_racket_in_india.php
Suspected Pak spy arrested from IGI airport
November 15, 2009
An alleged Pakistani spy has been arrested from the Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi by security agencies.
"One Pakistani spy was arrested at IGI airport yesterday," Union Home Secretary G K Pillai said without giving out any further details.
Official sources said that security agencies have seized some documents and photographs from him.
They said his interrogation is on and the investigators are trying to find out his contacts and the places visited by him.
Teams have apparently been sent to western and central UP.
FBI began monitoring Headley before 26/11, Rana visited 5 cities in 3 weeks
Pranab Dhal Samanta
Nov 15, 2009
New Delhi : While investigators here try to map David Coleman Headley’s network in India, it turns out that US investigators had Headley under surveillance a month before the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. They monitored him for a year before the FBI arrested him at the Chicago airport on October 3 as he planned to leave for Philadelphia en route to Pakistan.
Until now, sources said, the US has not passed on any information suggesting that Headley had any links with the Mumbai attacks or that he was aware of the plot.
On the other hand, Headley’s accomplice, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, possibly came under US surveillance after 26/11.
For, according to immigration records here, Rana was in India for about three weeks in November 2008 and left the country days before 26/11. Investigators here are looking at this visit to explore any links between Rana and the Mumbai attacks.
During his stay, Rana visited five cities—Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune and Kochi. These were cities that Headley too had visited during his nine trips between 2006 and 2009.
In fact, the Kochi visit is said to have got investigators perplexed because the mobile phone Rana was using was not in use there. While it is possible Rana may have used another phone, investigators are still to trace those details. There is no record of Rana’s departure from Kochi but a few days later, there is evidence of him surfacing in Mumbai.
Full report at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/FBI-began-monitoring-Headley-before-26-11--Rana-visited-5-cities-in-3-weeks/541626
Did Headley use Rahul link to his advantage?
15 November 2009
NEW DELHI: Rahul Bhatt, son of film maker Mahesh Bhatt, may be innocent but he is heading for intense interrogation by National Investigation Agency because of his `links' with the US-based terrorist of Pakistani origin David Coleman Headley.
As the investigations progress, the NIA sleuths suspect that Headley as well as his Pakistan-based Lashkar bosses may have seen the former's familiarity with Rahul as important for their plans.
They stress that they have nothing to disprove Rahul's claim that he was unaware of Headley's role as a jehadi, but feel that the US-based Lashkar jehadi may have seen the association as useful.
Their read of the emails Headley exchanged with his Lashkar bosses is that the LeT leaders, identified as Sajid Mir and Abdul Rahman Saeed, were happy with what the US-based Lashkar jehadi had accomplished.
Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Did-Headley-use-Rahul-link-to-his-advantage/articleshow/5231143.cms
They're making a villain out of a hero: Bhatts
15 November 2009
MUMBAI: "They’re making a villain out of a hero," said filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, referring to media reports about his son Rahul, who is being
treated as a suspect in the David Coleman Headley case.
Bhatt had taken Rahul — a trainer at Breach Candy’s Moksh gym — to the office of Mumbai’s crime branch chief Rakesh Maria as soon as the Headley story broke in October-end. "Rahul gave the police the first lead," sister Pooja Bhatt told TOI on Saturday. "But instead of lauding him, the media has put him in the dock."
Pooja is upset that the investigating agencies first let Rahul’s name slip to the media, then didn’t step in to prevent speculation. "We abided by their instructions and did not reveal details of the case to reporters," she said. "But they are just sitting back, watching us get mauled by the media."
Pooja is also particularly angry with an author and former journalist for having called the Bhatts a ‘dysfunctional family’ on a social networking website. "I have seen my father age over the last two days," she said. "It’s cruel. You throw a man to the lions with his hands tied and sit back and watch."
Pooja also clarified the circumstances under which Headley met her mother. "Headley and another trainer Vilas Warak (whom Rahul knew) were going to Bandra together. Since Rahul was taking some time to get ready, he asked Headley to come to his apartment instead of waiting downstairs. Those were the five minutes when he met my mother."
As for the references to Rahul in the email Headley sent his handler in the LeT, Pooja says that even the cops have come to the conclusion that Rahul was a code for Mumbai and not her brother. "I want everybody indulging in speculation about my brother to refer to the link www.scribd.com/doc/21700864/Headley-Complaint and read what the FBI has to say about the matter on page 22."
Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Theyre-making-a-villain-out-of-a-hero-Bhatts/articleshow/5231460.cms
A fitness freak, Headley looked like Steven Seagal'
15 November 2009
From whatever Pooja Bhatt and her husband Munish Makhija say, Headley was a suave, well-built man of about 50. He was articulate, well-informed
and a charmer.
Makhija says the six-footer looked like US action hero Steven Seagal and bore no resemblance to the man whose smudged passport pictures are being splashed in the media. Police sources say that Headley, a third-generation American, looked like any other white US citizen.
He was obsessed with fitness and a regular at Moksh, a posh gym opposite the US consulate at Breach Candy. As members of the gym, several American employees of the consulate were on first-name terms with him. When the police checked his membership papers, his photograph was missing. Headley befriended Vilas Warak, a young trainer at the gym, and got acquainted to Rahul Bhatt through him.
Headley befriended Vilas Warak, a young trainer at the gym. It was through him that Headley got acquainted with Rahul Bhatt, also a trainer at the gym. Warak often visited Headley’s 3-BHK apartment near the gym.
Though Headley shared the apartment with seven other foreigners, he never introduced any of them to Warak.
The two would go out on weekends. Headley also visited Warak’s house once.
"Till recently, Kasab’s face came to my mind whenever I thought of terrorists. Now I shudder to think that they can come in the garb of people like us," said Pooja Bhatt.
Separatists are to PDP what RSS is to BJP, says Malik
Nov 15, 2009
Srinagar : Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik on Saturday compared the relationship between the separatist struggle in the Valley and Peoples Democratic Party to that of the RSS and the BJP. In response, Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Geelani said his Hurriyat will not accept JKLF’s secular ideology of independent Kashmir.
The war of words took place at the first International Conference on Kashmir, organised here by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association. For the first time, the entire separatist leadership had come under a single roof for the meet, which was also addressed over phone by Raja Farooq Haider, the Prime Minister of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
“(Kashmir) Movement is the RSS and PDP is its BJP,” Malik said, adding that “the party (PDP) had come to power on separatist votes”. While his comments suggested there was a tacit understanding between the Hurriyat hardliners and the PDP, Malik didn’t stop there. He said 90 per cent of the “freedom fighters have taken money from former RAW chief Dullat”.
The militant-turned-separatist leader said Kashmir could not secure freedom without external support. “We just think within four walls of the mountain. Will this thinking help us reach any goal?” he asked. “We can’t win this battle in isolation. We can’t throw seven lakh troops out of Kashmir. My movement will be successful when we have support from outside Kashmir”.
Full report at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Separatists-are-to-PDP-what-RSS-is-to-BJP--says-Malik/541590
Trade route to Afghanistan, terror in Pak to figure in India-Iran talks
Nov 15, 2009
New Delhi : When Iran and India sit across the table for a high-level series of talks next week, the common link of two troubled neighbours — Pakistan and Afghanistan — will dominate discussions. A new trade route to Afghanistan and the common threat of terror originating from Pakistan will come up for discussions when Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki comes for his two-day visit here starting Monday.
Mottaki, who will be the first senior leader to visit India since the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in July, will hold a series of discussions with his Indian counterparts on a variety of issues, including energy security, the proposed gas pipeline project as well as terror groups in Pakistan that are targeting both India and Iran.
India is keen to take forward discussions on the development of the Chabahar port in south Iran and an integrated railway line to Bam that would provide a direct trade route to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Full report at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Trade-route-to-Afghanistan--terror-in-Pak-to-figure-in-India-Iran-talks/541587
British commander urges on winning Afghan hearts
November 15, 2009
LONDON: The British government has faced repeated accusations that troops are being put at increased risk because of insufficient equipment and helicopters.
But Lieutenant General Nick Parker, the British deputy commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan insisted shortages of kit were not to blame for his 26-year-old son Harry losing both legs in a booby-trap bomb in July.
Parker told the News of the World that the equipment supplied to British troops was right for the job they are doing.
He suggested that the key to stemming casualties and achieving military success in the country was not more helicopters but a strategy to win the hearts and minds of local people by getting out into their communities.
"Rather than asking for more helicopters -- which may be a requirement -- what we've got to do is develop tactics that get you out and amongst the people and re-establish ourselves as a force for good in the community," he told the newspaper.
"I know my view, as a fat general sitting behind a desk, will be treated with derision... (but) I genuinely believe there is no need to buy extra kit.
"I'm absolutely convinced that what Harry was given was right for what he was doing. However, nothing was ever going to stop his leg getting blown off."
A total of 232 British personnel have lost their lives in Afghanistan since 2001.
Concert blends Jewish, Muslim music to create 'cauldron' of sounds
By Kelle Barr
November 15, 2009
KALAMAZOO — The conflict and misunderstanding about — and between — the warring religions and cultures of the world receives global attention.
Yale Strom, a Jewish violinist, composer, filmmaker, writer, photographer and playwright and founding member of both San Diego-based Common Chords and Hot Pstromi, addresses these issues with music and education that he takes to venues that include schools and houses of worship all over the world.
“I try to bring attention to indifference and intolerance,” he said. “Young people, especially need to understand this — instead of picking up a weapon to express yourself, you can pick up an instrument instead.”
His wife, Elizabeth Schwartz, who is vocalist for both ensembles, likes to focus on cultural commonalties, pointing out that when traditionally conflicted ethnicities and faith groups come together in the harmony of spiritual music, good things happen.
“A lot of things divide us,” she said. “I like to remind people of all the things that unite us.”
The couple, along with their fellow musicians, will touch the souls of their Kalamazoo audience with songs that are political, spiritual and healing in nature with two appearances on Nov. 22, as part of the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music.
In what Strom calls “a cauldron of many sounds,” they’ll mix Jewish and Muslim traditional tunes that are uniquely infused with influences of many genres and faith cultures, among them rock, jazz, blues, bhangra, Indian, Sufi, and Qawwali and klezmer vocals. Resonating together, the harmonious, hypnotic hybrid of melody and spontaneous musical fluidity is a spiritual sound that is distinctly Common Chords.
Full report at: http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2009/11/concert_blends_jewish_muslim_m.html
Professionals asked to accept postings
Maulvi Dr Abdul Wahab Bin Adam, Ameer in charge of the Ahmmadiyya Muslim Mission, has reiterated the call on education and health professionals to accept postings to the rural areas where their services were badly needed.
He said it was sad that very often professionals trained with State resources refuse to serve their people, especially those in the rural areas, but travel outside to seek greener pastures.
Maulvi Dr Adam made these remarks when he addressed the 37th Anniversary speech and Prize Giving Day ceremony of the T. I Ahmadiyya Senior High School at Gomoa Potsin in the Central Region.
He said the time had come for the professionals to help curb the brain drain because it was seriously affecting the socio-economic advancement of the country.
aulvi Dr Adam urged Ghanaians to serve the nation with humility and a sense of patriotism to accelerate growth and development.
He called on old students to assist their Alma Mata to improve the infrastructure development of the educational institutions, adding that, "it is the responsibility of old students to impart great moral, righteous and religious values into the students to check moral decadence among them."
He, however, commended students of the school for their high level of discipline exhibited over the years, adding that, because of the religious values, it was unusual to see or hear students of T. I Ahmadiyya schools staging demonstrations to destroy the property of their schools, unlike their contemporaries elsewhere.
Mr Mohamed K. Ackonu, Headmaster of the School, expressed concern about the inequalities that existed in many senior high schools in Ghana.
Full report at: http://news.peacefmonline.com/news/200911/31741.php
Ibrahimi Mosque open to Muslims after two-day closure
November 15th, 2009
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli authorities reopened the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron to Muslim worshippers on Sunday morning after closing it for two days for Jewish holidays. This was the tenth closure of the mosque this year.
Closures of the mosque to Muslims began upon recommendations of the Shamgar Commission of Inquiry into the 1994 Hebron massacre, in which Baruch Goldstein, an ultra-Orthodox Israeli-American settler entered the mosque during dawn prayer and opened fire at the worshippers killing 29 and injuring dozens.
The same committee recommended that Palestinians in Hebron be banned from using some major streets in its old city. Dozens of shops were also closed to Palestinians for the stated purpose of providing protection for Israeli settlers who occupy Palestinian houses there.
Controversial Muslim woman to speak in Stoughton
By Staff reports
Sat Nov 14, 2009,
“Most Muslims, if not all of them, will condemn me to death when they read this book.”
These words were written by Wafa Sultan, author of A God Who Hates.
Sultan is a Syrian-born American psychiatrist who speaks out about what she believes is wrong and hateful about aspects of Muslim culture.
Sultan will speak at Ahavath Torah Congregation Thursday, Dec. 3, at 7:30 p.m.
Sultan is known as “That Muslim Woman on Al Jazeera,” singularly distinguished to speak her mind in a culture that would seek to subjugate her every thought, opinion and emotion. Subsequently, she has been hailed by Time magazine as one of the world’s most influential people and is looked upon as a defiant, passionate force against the misogyny she argues is inherent within Muslim culture itself.
Sultan is a Syrian-born American psychiatrist who, three years ago, caused a firestorm in the Arab world for a series of incendiary interviews on Al-Jazeera TV, in which she challenged the Muslim world to act against the culture of hate and intolerance that she said has defined Islamic thinking for centuries. Growing up in Syria, Sultan said she had seen firsthand the oppression clouding Muslim society, particularly, she said, in its abhorrent treatment of women and its wildly inaccurate view of the West. Now, she is a proponent for women’s rights in the Middle East.
This event is the second in a series of national and international renowned speakers coming to Ahavath Torah Congregation. The synagogue will be celebrating its 90th anniversary with an education series. Each month, topics such as race, politics, the Middle East, and climate will be discussed by experts.
Proof of India's role in Balochistan at suitable time: Gilani
15 November 2009
ISLAMABAD: The evidence regarding Indian involvement in Balochistan will be presented at "a suitable time", Pakistani prime minister Yousuf Raza
Gilani said Sunday adding that "the country's nuclear assets are safe".
Speaking to reporters in Multan, Gilani said the issue had been taken up during his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh and was made part of the joint statement.
Gilani said: "The evidence will be presented at a suitable time."
Interior minister Rehman Malik had said in October that India was responsible for the rising wave of terrorism in Balochistan province.
Gilani said Pakistan wanted good relations with all its neighbours and desired the resumption of the composite dialogue process with India, adding that dialogue was the only way forward.
He said no military operation is currently underway in Balochistan and that the ongoing operation in Southern Waziristan will soon end.
Pakistan has been hit by a wave of terror attacks that have killed over 250 people. One of the worst attacks took place Oct 28 when a massive bomb killed over 115 people in a crowded market of Peshawar.
The Pakistani Army is battling the Taliban in the rugged terrain of South Waziristan. The Taliban has vowed to retaliate against the US drone strikes, one of which killed its chief Baitullah Mehsud in early August.