Monthly Archives: April 2009

Zakia Jafri welcomes SC order on Narendra Modi and others

Zakia Jafri welcomes SC order on Narendra Modi and others | TwoCircles.net

Zakia Jafri welcomes SC order on Narendra Modi and others
Submitted by admin3 on 29 April 2009 – 7:12pm.

* Crime/Terrorism
* India News
* Indian Muslim

By TwoCircles.net Correspondent

Ahmedabad: Welcoming the Supreme court order on Monday directing the special Investigation Team(SIT) headed by former CBI director R K Raghavan to investigate the roles of Chief Minister Narendra Modi and seven of his ministers, including VHP international general secretary Pravin Togadia as also senior bureaucrats and police officers, into the communal riots in the state from February 27,2002, to Mary 31, 2002, wife of slain ex-Congress MP Ehsan Jafri and human rights activist termed it a tremendous relief towards fight for justice in Gujarat.

The SC orders came on a petition filed by Zakia. According to the order, SIT has to submit its report to the apex court within a period of three months. The SIT recently completed investigations in 10 most heinous riot cases of 2002 and submitted its report to the Supreme Court. It was because of SIT investigation that Maya Kodnani, a minister in Modi’s cabint and a senior VHP functionary Jaideep Patel were arrested and both are colling their haeels in jail.

Reacting to the order, she said: “I have immense faith in Allah and I am hopeful that those who conspired, planned and executed the riots in which my husband Ehsan Jafri and more than two thousand others were killed in Gujarat, will get justice’’.

Zakia, who shifted to Surat after her husbands killing un Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad on Febvruary 28, 2002, is living with her elder son Tanvir Jafri, a senior executive with Larsen and Toubro.

Commenting on it, noted human rights activist J S Dandukwala said that the apex court orders was a tremendous relief to all victims of 2002 riots.

“We have always viewed Narendra Modi as a principal culprit of the killings of over 2000 people’’, he said, adding that `sadly, Modi used his political clout and administrative power to cover up his 2002 footprints’’.

“Horribly, many top industrialists and even Muslim bureaucrasts like retired additional director general of police A I Saiyed and several maulanas have endorsed Modi in spite of his Hitler-like records’’, commented Bandukwala, himself a victim of 2002 riots as he was the first to be targeted when the anti-Muslim riots began following torching of Sabarmati Express train at Godhra on February 27, 2002, in which 59 passeners, all Hindus, were killed.

Senior advocate and JSM representative Mukul sinha said that he had long ago demanded before Nanavati Commission probing the godhra and post-Godhra riots to summon Modi and his ministers to quiz them for their omission and commission during the riots.

However, he expressed happiness over SC ordering probe int the roles of political bigwigs into the riots who had gone scot-free.

Zakia had for the first time sent a detailed letter on June 8, 2006, to the then DGP A K Bhargava, demanding registration of FIR against 63 persons including chief minister Narendra Modi under Section 154 of CRPC. However, her plea was not entertained.

On May 1, 2007, Zakia and Mumbai-based Teesta Setalvad of Citizens for Justice and Peace(CJP) filed a petition in the Gujarat High Court, praying it to direct the police to register FIR against Modi, his cabinet ministers, administrative and police officials, including the then director general of police K Chakravarti and handing over the case to CBI for investigation.

However, the Gujarat High Court rejected the petition on November 2, 2007, asking the petitioners to approach the magisterial court in this regard.

After that Zakia and CJP filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking apex court’s direction for an FIR to be filed against Modi and 62 others, and for an investigation into their alleged role in 2002 anti-Muslim riots.

Zakia’s petition in the Supreme Court raised several questions. An excerpt of these questions is given here.

1. Why were there no minutes of the meeting with chief minister held with senior officers for a review of the situation arising out of Godhra training burning incident?

2. There are some state intelligence reports of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad(World Hindu Council) held at 4 p.m. at Ahmedabad on February 27, 2002. Who attended this meting? Were any elected members of the Gujarat legislature , and the state cabinet present?

3. Why were the bodies of the victims of Godhra train carnage brought to Ahmedabad, and why were they paraded in streets?

4. Did senior police officials or DGP report to Chief Minister or higher officers in writing about the likely repercussions of parading the bodies?

5. Why was no preventive action taken when a bandh call had already been given by VHP?

6. Why was not Army called out immediately and why was there delay in deployment of Army when it reached Ahmedabad?

7. Why was there a delay in declaration of curfew in Ahmedabad?

8. Despite rules for this, why was there no arrangement for videography of the violence by mobs in all districts of the state?

9. Why were there more casualties of Muslims in police firing during riots?

10. Why was the response to distress calls from prominent Muslims like ehsan Jafri, delayed?

11. Why was there no monitoring of the instructions of senior officials, including chief secretary, officials of the home department and the DGP?

12. Why was there no action against officials who failed to register FIRs and why was there no adequate response to the complaints of riot victims?

13. Why was no action taken against supervisory officers, from district superintendents of police to the level of police commissioners and DGP, who violated the Gujarat Police Manual by not properly supervising investigations of serious riot-related crimes and thereby committing culpable omission and grave misconduct?

14. Why was no action taken on the supervisory officers who had done the misconduct of negligent supervision of Bilkis banu and Best Bakery mass massacre cases, whose trials had been transferred by Supreme Court to Maharashtra?

15. Why has there been no further investigation on the depositions of IPS officer Rahul sharma before Nanavati Commission, to reveal the location of BJP leaders and senior officers of police during the riots?

16. Many calls were made to Modi,his cabinet ministers, the then Ahmedabad police commissioner P C Pandey and the then DGP K Chakravarti during the riots. Their phone records must be examined to unearth the facts.

Following is the list of the accused against whom Supreme Court has ordered investigation.

1. Narendra Modi, the then and present chief minister. Charges: Alleged to be architect of criminal conspiracy; unleash unlawful and illegal practices during mass carnage and then protecting the accused having played direct and indirect role and abeeted the commission of the crime.

2. Ashok Bhatt, the then minister of health and now state assembly speaker. Charges: Accused of using political influence to prevent the administration from carrying out their constitutional duty to prevent violence and protect the citizens life.

3. Indravijaysinh Jadeja, the then minister of urban development and now roads and Building Minister. Charges: Accused of using political influence to prevent the administration from carrying out their constitutional duty to prevent violence and protect the citizens life.

4. Prabhatsinh Chauhan, the then tourism and civil aviation minister. Sat in Ahmedabad police control room at the instance of Modi and allegedly carried out conspiracy and other crimes.

5. Gordhan Zadaphia, the then Minister of state for home. Charges: Conspiracy and instructions to DGP and police officials to allow Hindus to give vent to their anger on Muslims. Allegations of communal bias as alleged by the then Bhavnagar SP Rahul Sharma.

6. Ranjitsinh Naharsinh Chavda, the then MLA. Charges: Accused of using political influence to prevent the administration from carrying out their constitutional duty to prevent violence and protect the citizens life.

7. Kaushik Jamnadas Patel, the then MLA and now minister: Charges: Accused of using political influence to prevent the administration from carrying out their constitutional duty to prevent violence and protect the citizens life.

8. C D Patel, the then MLA and now a minister. Charges: Accused of using political influence to prevent the administration from carrying out their constitutional duty to prevent violence and protect the citizens life.

9. Niteenbhai Ratibhai Patel, the then MLA. Charges: Accused of using political influence to prevent the administration from carrying out their constitutional duty to prevent violence and protect the citizens life.

10. Amitbhai Anilchandra Shah, presently home minister. Charges: Accused of using political influence to prevent the administration from carrying out their constitutional duty to prevent violence and protect the citizens life.

11. Anil Tribhovandas Patel, now MLA and Minister for Industries. Charges: Accused of using political influence to prevent the administration from carrying out their constitutional duty to prevent violence and protect the citizens life.

12. Narayan Lalludas Patel, the then transport minister and now MLA. Charges: Accused of using political influence to prevent the administration from carrying out their constitutional duty to prevent violence and protect the citizens life.

13. Kalubhai Hirabhai Maliwad, the then and present MLA. Charges: Accused of using political influence to prevent the administration from carrying out their constitutional duty to prevent violence and protect the citizens life.

14. Dilip Manibhai Patel, the then and present MLA from Anand. Charges: Accused of using political influence to prevent the administration from carrying out their constitutional duty to prevent violence and protect the citizens life.

15. Madhu Srivastava, the then and present MLA from WAghodia. Charges: Accused of using political influence to prevent the administration from carrying out their constitutional duty to prevent violence and protect the citizens life.

16. Dr. Maya Kodnani, the then and present MLA . Charges: Accused of using political influence to prevent the administration from carrying out their constitutional duty to prevent violence and protect the citizens life.

17. Nalin Kantilal Bhatt, the BJP general secretary and now Bahujan samaj party leader in Vadodara. Charges: the author of the affidavit of the BJP before the Nanavati-shah Commission.

18. Rajendrasinh Rana, the then BJP spokesperson and the then BJP lok sabha MP from Bhavnagar. Charges: He called the `bandh’ the day after the Godhra train burning incident on February 27, 2002.

19. Dr.Kaushikbhai Jamnashanker Mehta, joint secretary, VHP, Gujarat.

20. Dr. Praveen Togadia, International general secretary, VHP. He is the author, verbal and written, of several incendiary speeches that have reportedly breached criminal law by inciting violence against the religious minorities.

21. Dr. Jaideep Patel, the then VHP Gujarat secretary. Charges: Accompanied the road procession of victims of Godhra train carnage from Godhra to Ahmedabad and allegedly instigated crowds to violence against Muslim residents of Naroda Gam.

22. Babu Bajrangi, VHP/Bajrang Dal leader. Charges: accused in Naroda Patiya mass massacre and also responsible for publicly intimidating victim survivors and eyewitnesses outside Nanavatyi commission office in August 2004.

23. Prof. Keshavram Kashiram Shastri(now dead), the then chairman of Gujarat VHP and editor of Vishwa Hindu Samachar. Charges: In an interview to Rediff.com, he detailed how VHP had targeted the Muslims and their properties by using electoral rolls.

24. Babubhai Rajput, BJP worker. Charges: Involved in criminal conspiracy and violence.

25. K. Chakravarti, the then DGP. Charges: Conspiracy with chief minister Narendra Modi and participating in the meeting chaired by Modi asking officials to let Hindus vent out their anger, failure to take action against the accused, subverting the criminal justice system, dereliction of his supervisory responsibility and professional commitment by not enforcing the Gujarat police manual regulations.

26. A K Bhargava, former DGP. Charges: alleged to have participated in a meeting where illegal instructions were issued by Modi. Not filed any affidavit before Nanavati commission , negligence in supervision of riot related cases.

27. Subba Rao, former chief secretary. Charges: alleged to have participated in a meeting where illegal instructions were issued by Modi. Not filed any affidavit before Nanavati Commision.

28. Ashok Narayan, former home secretary. Charges: alleged to have participated in a meeting where illegal instructions were issued by Modi. Not filed any affidavit before Nanavati Commision.

29. P C Pande, the then Ahmedabad police commissioner. Charges: Giving false information, delay in requisition and deployment of army, delayed the imposition of curfew in Ahmedabad city. Responsible for utter collapse of law and order in Ahmedabad city, the worst affected during 2002 riots.

30. K Srinivasan, former ZAhmedabad district collector. Charges: Responsible for lack of adequate relief operations and hence part of dictated criminal conspiracy. Not filed affidavit before Zanavati commission.

31. Dr. P K Mishra, the then principal secretary to chief minister. Charges: alleged to have participated in a meeting where illegal instructions were issued by Modi. Not filed any affidavit before Nanavati Commision.

32. Kuldeep Sharma, the then IGP, Ahmedabad police range. Charges: failed to protect Muslims in Kheda district under his range. Not filed affidavit before Nanavati commission about what went wrong in 2002 violating the Commission of Inquiry Act.

33. M K Tandon, the then Additional Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad(now retired). Charges. Negligence of duty in protecting people in Gulberg Society, Naroda Gam and Naroda Patiya under his jurisdiction. Not filed affidavit before Nanavati commission about what went wrong in 2002 violating the Commission of Inquiry Act.

34. K Nityanand, the then home secretary. Charges: alleged to have participated in a meeting where illegal instructions were issued by Modi. Not filed any affidavit before Nanavati Commision.

35. Rakesh Asthana, the then Vadodara Range Inspector General of Police. Charges. Failed to protect the life and property of citizens in his range in Godhra and other areas.

Not filed affidavit before Nanavati commission about what went wrong in 2002 violating the Commission of Inquiry Act.

36. A K sharma, the then Superintendent of Police. Charges: Conducive situations not created for rehabilitation of victims, compromising with perpetrators of violence, inaction facilitating riots. Not filed affidavit before Nanavati commission about what went wrong in 2002 violating the Commission of Inquiry Act.

37. G C Murmu, the then secretary, Law and Order. Charges. alleged to have participated in a meeting where illegal instructions were issued by Modi. Not filed any affidavit before Nanavati Commision.

38. Shivanand Jha, the then secretary, home. Charges: Allegations of criminal conspiracy.

39. D H Brahmbhatt, the then collector, Panchmahals district. Charges: Collector of Panchamahals where mass graves were discovered in December 2005 and a vital accused to understand the allegations of continuing subversion of the law and order machinery in the state.

40. Deepak Swaroop, the then IGP, Vadodara Range. Charges. Failed to take adequate action resulting in large scale violence in Dahod and Panchmahals district, conducive situations not created for rehabilitation of victims, compromising with perpetrators of violence. Not filed any affidavit before Nanavati Commision. Responsible for further subversion of eviudence during the Best Bakery retrial as commented upon in the judgement of judge Abhay Thipsay.

41. Sudhir sinha, former Vaddoara police commissioner. Charges: Played an unholy role for facilitating a few major witnesses of the Best Bakery case turning hostile.

42. K. Kumarswamy, the then additional Vadodara police commissioner. Charges: Played an unholy role for facilitating a few major witnesses of the Best Bakery case turning hostile.

43. B S Jebaliya, the DSP, Anand. Charges: did not supervise the investigators of riot cases against pro-BJP accused, compromised with perpetrators of violence, connived with the accused and the political class.

44. D G Vanzara, senior IPS official. Charges: responsible for many encounter killings.

45. Rahul Sharma, IPS officer and former DSP, BHavnagar. Prevented violence in Bhavnagar, witness to subversion of justice process by a connivance between the accused and influential politicians.

46. Raju Bhargava, senior IPS official and the then DSP, Panchmahals. Charges: Making false statements, conducive situations not created for rehabilitation of victims, compromising with perpetrators of violence, inaction facilitating riots.

47. Anju Sharma, then then Bharuch collector. Charges. Did not do proper relief work, was allegedly involved in criminal conspiracy.

48. D D Tuteja, the then Vadodara police commissioner and now retired. Charges: Allegedly made false statements, conducive situations not created for rehabilitation of victims, compromising with perpetrators of violence, inaction facilitating riots.

49. Bhagesh Jha, the then Vadodara district collector. Charges: Giving false information, forcing closing down of relief camps in first week of August 2002 to project a false image of normalcy.

50. Nitiraj solanki, the then DSP, Sabarkantha district. Charges: Making false statements, conducive situations not created for rehabilitation of victims, compromising with perpetrators of violence, inaction facilitating riots.

51. Amrutlal Patel, the then District coleector, Mahesana district. Charges:Giving false information, not taking action against print media publishing communally provocative reports, forcing closing down of relief camps in first week of August 2002 to project a false image of normalcy.

52. Upendra Patel. , DSP, Rajkot district. Charges: Making false statements, conducive situations not created for rehabilitation of victims, compromising with perpetrators of violence, inaction facilitating riots.

53. P N Patel, the then district collector, rajkot. Charges: Giving false information, not taking action against print media publishing communally provocative reports, forcing closing down of relief camps in first week of August 2002 to project a false image of normalcy.

54. V M Pargi, the then Deputy commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad. Charges: Questionable role in Best Bakery case for manufacturing evidence.

55. K G Erda, the then police inspector at Meghaninagar police station. Charges: Dereliction of duty when massacre was taking place in gulberg Society from 7.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. on February 28, 2002.

56. Kerman Khurshed Mysorewala, the the Naroda Police Inspector. Charges. Dereliction of duty when mass carnage took place in Naroda Patiy and Naroda Gam from 9 a.m. on February 298 to 2 a.m. on March 1, 2002.

57. M T Rana, the then Assistant Police Commissioner, Ahmedabad city. Charges: Allegedly dereliction of duty and involved in subvwersion of justice and tampering of evidence.

58. Tarun Barot, former Crime Branch inspector. Charges: ): Involved in many encounter killings in Ahmedabad city. Involved in many controversial mass carnage investigations subverting process of justice and tampering of evidence.

59. Narendra Amin, Dy SP. Charges: involved in encounter killings.

60. G C Raiger, the then additional director general of police(intelligence), now retired. Charges: attended Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s meetings and privy to information between February 27, 2002 and April 9, 2002 but did not file affidavit before Nanavati commission.

61. K R Kaushik, senior IPS officer and the then ADGP(crime), now retired. Charges: Attended meetings chaired by Modi and other senior officials but did not file affidavit before Nanavati commission.

62. Amitabh Pathak, the then Range IGP, Gandhinagar. Charges: Making false statements, compromising with perpetrators of violence, inaction facilitating riots. conducive situations not created for rehabilitation of victims.

63. Satish Verma, the then Kutch Range IGP. Charges: connived with the accused and political class, compromised with the perpetrators of violence.

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A World Leader’s Comments On The War On Terrorism

A World Leader’s Comments On The War On Terrorism

(We have decided to include these two articles from The Star newspaper in Malaysia as part of Islamic World’s position on the “war on terrorism” because they come from an influential world leader, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, Prime Minister of Malaysia, and they are very much in line with what we have been saying, and what we consider to be a reasonable and representative position from the Muslim perspective. These quotes are from a conference on terrorism organised by the Institute for Strategic and International Studies.) .

Target the Roots of Terror

By SA’ODAH ELIAS

KUALA LUMPUR: The best solution to the global terrorist problem is to remove the causes of terrorism, thus making the activity no longer tenable, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed said yesterday. The Prime Minister said once the causes were removed, terrorists would lose their power base as support for their actions would be much reduced, if not cease altogether. “This is the best approach because the process of identifying and hunting the terrorists will be very difficult and will take a long time. But we may not want to remove these causes because we do not like to give the impression that the terrorists have succeeded, but such an attitude will not help. The terrorists must be hunted and brought to justice, but the causes of their committing the acts of terror must also be removed. Even terrorists would not want to sacrifice their lives for nothing,” he said when opening a conference on terrorism organised by the Institute of Strategic and International Studies.

Dr. Mahathir also said, The world must be serious and not be selective in the fight against terrorists, as the cost of turning around the world’s economy thrown into recession because of terrorist attacks would be very high. If the whole world, including the Muslim world, was to participate in eliminating terrorism, all terrorists, irrespective of their race or religion, must be targeted and the cause of their anger and disaffection removed. If we have to determine who is a terrorist and who is not then we have to base it on the act and not on the person or the group or the race or the religion. And no one must be spared, whether their cause is right or not. They must include state terrorists as well, including the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon, the man responsible for the massacre of thousands of Palestinians in Shabra and Shatila and is still the man behind the systematic killing of the Palestinians today”.

Determining who were terrorists was important because people who some described as terrorists were regarded as noble freedom fighters by others. More confusing still, he said, there were many ambivalences in the definition of terrorist as some who were condemned as terrorists one day might be considered respectable leaders another day. “The Jewish Hagana, Irgun and Stern Gang were at one time regarded and hunted as terrorists, but later became respected leaders of Israel. Jomo Kenyatta and Robert Mugabe were considered terrorists and were condemned by the British but later became the acknowledged leaders of independent states. The Irish Republican Army is a terrorist organisation in the eyes of the British but is regarded as freedom fighters worthy of financial support by the Americans. With such differing views at different times, it is difficult to get the whole world to join in the fight against terrorism and if some countries provide shelter and protection for the terrorists because in their eyes these are not terrorists, it would be impossible to eliminate terrorism,” Dr Mahathir said.

Dr. Mahathir also said Muslims could not be faulted if they were under the impression that the current act against terror by the United States and its allies in Afghanistan was beginning to look more like a war against Muslims, especially with their talk of meting out the same punishment on Iraq. This impression, he said, could only be eliminated if similar actions were taken against those who terrorised the Muslims, like in Palestine, the Bosnians, Chechens and the people of Kosovo.

Dr. Mahathir reiterated that attacking Afghanistan was not going to result in the capture of the terrorists believed to be involved in the Sept 11 attack in New York and Washington, but instead might likely anger a lot of Muslims. “Their governments may not, though some are likely to be angered by the wanton acts against a brother Muslim country, but certainly from the vast number of Muslims. There would be quite a few who would join the ranks of terrorists to avenge what they see as gross injustice and cruelty. “So the bombing of Afghanistan, far from progressing the war to eliminate terrorists, would actually result in the spawning of more terrorists, saddling the world with the problem forever,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said Malaysia was familiar with terrorism and the war against terrorists, having to face the problem for 42 years between 1948 and 1990, but in the end the terrorists were defeated by the government campaign to win the hearts and minds of the people so as to cut off their civilian support. “We studied the causes of their disaffection and that of their supporters and we took remedial actions. Our decision to accord citizenship rights to over a million non-Malays then was not a victory for the struggle of the terrorists, but was a means to win the loyalty of the disaffected people and to get them to co-operate in the war against the terrorists,” he said.

Speaking to reporters later, Dr Mahathir said he had already written to President George W. Bush urging the United States to halt the bombing in Afghanistan and expressing the hope that the war in that country would end soon. “I am talking of a stop to the bombing because of the damage it can do to the innocent civilians. The use of ground forces is better because the damage is more contained,” he added.

Palestinian Issue the Cause of Muslim Anger

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir said yesterday that Israel is a terrorist state and that the issue of Palestine is the principle cause of anger and frustration among Muslims, some of whom had resorted to terrorism. To resolve the issue, he said, the first step must be to accord recognition to Palestine as a state and for the United Nations peacekeeping force to forcibly separate the two. However, he said that while the Palestinians were willing to have the UN peacekeeping force, the Israelis objected to it and the world pandered to the wishes of the Israelis, resulting in more killings and terrorism. “It all started because the Israelis came and occupied lands which are not theirs by right. Their only claim is based on a 2,000-year-old history, and if that is the basis of their claim, then even Malaysia can make similar claims on some countries,” he said after opening a conference on terrorism.

In his opening speech, he said there was a great deal of anger in the Muslim world over this issue which the West could never understand. Because the Muslim world was weak and unable to be of any help to the Palestinians, he said, they viewed the unwillingness of the West to stop the Israelis as a sign that the West was anti-Palestine, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim. He said while most Muslims would only feel anger, there were some among the one billion Muslims whose anger could not be contained, and had resorted to terror tactics. “It is reasonable to believe if there is no Palestinian issue, if the Palestinians are not being oppressed and children killed, the anger of the Arabs and Muslims would not be there or would be much less. Certainly there would not be those who would be willing to kill themselves in the horrible manner as in the attack of Sept 11,” he added.

He said in Palestine civilians including children were being shot and killed every day and in retaliation the Palestinians killed Israelis. “Everyday Palestinians face the possibility of being killed. Can it be said that they do not live in terror of being the next victim? The Israelis too are in that position but they have superior firepower and obviously they instill more terror in the hearts of the Palestinians,” he said. “In frustration, he said, Palestinians, including children, resorted to throwing stones, but the Israelis retaliated with live bullets and yet the Palestinians were described as terrorists and their peace overtures rejected”.

“We must not glorify these terrorists but we need to understand their minds and their mentality. We need to do this if we want to understand the reason why they did this. If we don’t then we will not be able to remove the causes and reduce the incidence of terrorism,” he said.

Indian Madrasas discussing launch of courses on Islamic economics and finance

Indian Madrasas discussing launch of courses on Islamic economics and finance

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi, TwoCircles.net

New Delhi: To discuss the possibilities of launching professional courses on Islamic economics, finance and banking at madrasas in India, a two-day national workshop being participated by representatives of all leading madrasas from across the country and Islamic economists from India and abroad began today at Convention Hall of Jamia Hamdard in New Delhi.

The program jointly organized by Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) and Islamic Fiqh Academy (IFA) (India) in collaboration with Islamic Development Bank (IDB) (Jeddah) is aimed at discussing the issue in holistic way with madrasa authorities, said Maulana Ameen Usmani, secretary, Islamic Fiqh Academy.

Talking to TwoCircles.net on the sidelines of the workshop, Usmani said: “Students at Islamic madrasas in India read books of Fiqh written 700-800 years ago. Those books talk of Islamic financial issues. But there is a need to look at those issues in light of today’s requirements and changes.” This program is first such initiative in the country in this regard, he added.

Due to global economic crisis and failure of the prevailing financial system of the world, economists, financial experts and industrialists world over are looking up to Islamic finance and economic system with hope. Islamic economic system has become a topic of discussion in universities, research centers and debates in various western and European countries. But it is a great irony that madrasas are focusing on Fiqh and Hadees. They are not teaching Islamic finance in modern perspective. They are not giving required attention to the Quran which talks about the basics of Islamic economic and financial system.

“It is an irony that Islamic finance is not a topic of discussion at madrasas and among Islamic scholars in India today. Islamic madrasas give little attention to Islamic economic system in the present scenario. They are focusing on Fiqh and Hadees, not even Quran. They debate on whether or not science, maths and computers be made part of madrasa syllabus but they do not discuss Islamic finance,” says veteran journalist A U Asif.

That Islamic finance in modern perspective is not being taught at madrasas is not just India phenomenon was evident from the speech of Dr Ausaf Ahmad, Islamic economist and ex-official of IDB. No big madrasa in any country is giving required focus to Islamic finance and economics, he said.

Speaking on the occasion he said: “Jamia Al Azhar has about 1.2 lakh students, of which 20,000 from foreign countries. They give more attention to traditional Islamic subjects than to Islamic finance. Similar is the situation at Ummul Qura University in Makkah. There too little focus is given to Islamic economics, banking and finance.”

In his speech, Dr Muhammad Manzoor Alam, Chairman, IOS, suggested launching of courses on Islamic economics and finance in various universities and madrasas so that “our madrasa graduates could assess the demands of today and fast changing economic condition.” He said such courses have been launched at Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Islamia at Shantapuram, Kerala.

In his keynote address on Teaching Islamic finance at Islamic Madrasas in India, renowned Islamic economist Dr Muhammad Najatullah Siddiqi said: “Teaching of Islamic finance in madrasas would be different from other subjects taught there. Unlike other traditional Islamic subjects where all focus is on texts and explanation thereof, Islamic finance and economics will be taught in the perspectives of time and place.” Besides, as Islamic financial system has been operational in several parts of the world for 30-40 years, the madrasa syllabus of Islamic finance will include critical analysis of the operation and its results, Dr Siddiqi, who is also Shah Faisal awardee, said.

“The syllabus should also give information about the texts of Quran and Hadis regarding prohibitions in financial issues like prohibition of interest as well as what was understood from such instructions in the past,” he said and added the syllabus should include development of contemporary Islamic financial system and differences of Ulema over running Islamic banking system.

Other prominent figures who are addressing the workshop include Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, general secretary, IFA, Maulana Salim Qasmi, director, Darul Uloom Deoband (Wakf) and Muhammad Sirajul Haque, representative of IDB.

Maulana Rabe Hasani Nadvi in his message gave a call for acceleration of efforts for strengthening Islamic economic system in the country. He supported the idea that Islamic finance and economic system should be made part of madrasa syllabus.

The madrasas attending the workshop include Nadwatul Ulema, Darul Uloom Deoband, Darul Uloom Deoband (Wakf), Jamia Nezamia (Hyderabad) and Jamiatul Falah (Azamgarh).

Indian Madrasas discussing launch of courses on Islamic economics and finance

Indian Madrasas discussing launch of courses on Islamic economics and finance

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi, TwoCircles.net

New Delhi: To discuss the possibilities of launching professional courses on Islamic economics, finance and banking at madrasas in India, a two-day national workshop being participated by representatives of all leading madrasas from across the country and Islamic economists from India and abroad began today at Convention Hall of Jamia Hamdard in New Delhi.

The program jointly organized by Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) and Islamic Fiqh Academy (IFA) (India) in collaboration with Islamic Development Bank (IDB) (Jeddah) is aimed at discussing the issue in holistic way with madrasa authorities, said Maulana Ameen Usmani, secretary, Islamic Fiqh Academy.

Talking to TwoCircles.net on the sidelines of the workshop, Usmani said: “Students at Islamic madrasas in India read books of Fiqh written 700-800 years ago. Those books talk of Islamic financial issues. But there is a need to look at those issues in light of today’s requirements and changes.” This program is first such initiative in the country in this regard, he added.

Due to global economic crisis and failure of the prevailing financial system of the world, economists, financial experts and industrialists world over are looking up to Islamic finance and economic system with hope. Islamic economic system has become a topic of discussion in universities, research centers and debates in various western and European countries. But it is a great irony that madrasas are focusing on Fiqh and Hadees. They are not teaching Islamic finance in modern perspective. They are not giving required attention to the Quran which talks about the basics of Islamic economic and financial system.

“It is an irony that Islamic finance is not a topic of discussion at madrasas and among Islamic scholars in India today. Islamic madrasas give little attention to Islamic economic system in the present scenario. They are focusing on Fiqh and Hadees, not even Quran. They debate on whether or not science, maths and computers be made part of madrasa syllabus but they do not discuss Islamic finance,” says veteran journalist A U Asif.

That Islamic finance in modern perspective is not being taught at madrasas is not just India phenomenon was evident from the speech of Dr Ausaf Ahmad, Islamic economist and ex-official of IDB. No big madrasa in any country is giving required focus to Islamic finance and economics, he said.

Speaking on the occasion he said: “Jamia Al Azhar has about 1.2 lakh students, of which 20,000 from foreign countries. They give more attention to traditional Islamic subjects than to Islamic finance. Similar is the situation at Ummul Qura University in Makkah. There too little focus is given to Islamic economics, banking and finance.”

In his speech, Dr Muhammad Manzoor Alam, Chairman, IOS, suggested launching of courses on Islamic economics and finance in various universities and madrasas so that “our madrasa graduates could assess the demands of today and fast changing economic condition.” He said such courses have been launched at Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Islamia at Shantapuram, Kerala.

In his keynote address on Teaching Islamic finance at Islamic Madrasas in India, renowned Islamic economist Dr Muhammad Najatullah Siddiqi said: “Teaching of Islamic finance in madrasas would be different from other subjects taught there. Unlike other traditional Islamic subjects where all focus is on texts and explanation thereof, Islamic finance and economics will be taught in the perspectives of time and place.” Besides, as Islamic financial system has been operational in several parts of the world for 30-40 years, the madrasa syllabus of Islamic finance will include critical analysis of the operation and its results, Dr Siddiqi, who is also Shah Faisal awardee, said.

“The syllabus should also give information about the texts of Quran and Hadis regarding prohibitions in financial issues like prohibition of interest as well as what was understood from such instructions in the past,” he said and added the syllabus should include development of contemporary Islamic financial system and differences of Ulema over running Islamic banking system.

Other prominent figures who are addressing the workshop include Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, general secretary, IFA, Maulana Salim Qasmi, director, Darul Uloom Deoband (Wakf) and Muhammad Sirajul Haque, representative of IDB.

Maulana Rabe Hasani Nadvi in his message gave a call for acceleration of efforts for strengthening Islamic economic system in the country. He supported the idea that Islamic finance and economic system should be made part of madrasa syllabus.

The madrasas attending the workshop include Nadwatul Ulema, Darul Uloom Deoband, Darul Uloom Deoband (Wakf), Jamia Nezamia (Hyderabad) and Jamiatul Falah (Azamgarh).

Why Suicide Bombing Violates Islam

Kamran Pasha: Why Suicide Bombing Violates Islam

Why Suicide Bombing Violates Islam

The evil of suicide bombings must be defeated by Muslims, as it violates every tenet of Islam. In the past two days alone, at least 150 people were killed in Iraq in a wave of suicide bombings which have torn apart any illusion of security in that tragic country.

As a Muslim, as a human being, I am filled with horror at images of men, women and children torn to shreds by the madness of people who turn themselves into incendiary devices. And I am filled with outrage and fury at the diabolic forces that seek to present this monstrous, murderous, terrorist activity as somehow sanctioned by my faith.

Let me put this in as simple terms as possible. Suicide bombings, indeed all forms of terrorism, are rejected by mainstream Islam, and always have been.

The Holy Qur’an says it in very clear, without any ambiguity:

“Do not kill yourselves, for truly God is merciful. And if any do that in rancor and injustice, soon shall We cast them in the Fire. ” (Surah 4:29-30)

The Qur’an makes it clear that there are rules to human conflict and limits that must be followed:

“And fight in the way of God against those who fight you. But do not transgress the limits. Truly God does not love transgressors.” (Surah 2:190)

As I discuss in my new novel Mother of the Believers, traditional Islamic law established very clear rules of war based on the practice of Prophet Muhammad and his early followers: Do not kill civilians. Do not kill women and children. Do not harm monks or priests of other religions. Do not destroy the environment.

Abu Bakr, the first leader of Islam after Prophet Muhammad, gave these commandments when Muslims were fighting the forces of the Byzantine Empire, which had sought to destroy the new religion and killed the Prophet’s ambassador:

“Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules to keep by heart: Do not commit treachery, nor depart from the right path. You must not mutilate, neither kill a child or aged man or woman. Do not destroy a palm tree, nor burn it with fire and do not cut any fruitful tree. You must not slay any of the flock or herds or the camels, save for your subsistence. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them to that to which they have devoted their lives. You are likely, likewise, to find people who will present to you meals of many kinds. You may eat; but do no forget to mention the name of God.”

Muslims always took great pride in the fact that they acted honorably, even in war. They looked with contempt upon the warriors of Europe, who slaughtered civilians mercilessly during the Crusades. When the Muslim leader Saladin (Salahuddin Ayoobi) defeated the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem and retook the holy city, he spared its Christian populace and pointedly said: “We will not do to you what you did to us.”

His comment was in reference to the First Crusade, where Christian “holy warriors” massacred tens of thousands of civilians upon taking Jerusalem in 1099. Muslims were slaughtered en masse, the Jews of Jerusalem were locked into its main synagogue and set on fire. And Arab Christians were murdered by their co-religionists for the sin of having dark skin and looking like the enemy. The Gesta Francorum, a Crusader chronicle of their activities, proudly notes that the “the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles.”

In the town of Ma’arra in Syria, the Crusaders committed the ultimate atrocity — cannibalism. As Crusader chronicler Radulph of Caen wrote: “In Ma’arra, our troops boiled pagan adults in cooking-pots; they impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled.”

To this day, the Crusaders are referred to in the Muslim world as “the cannibals of Ma’arra.”

The Muslims looked at this kind of atrocity committed in the name of God as unworthy of any great religion, and held themselves above such monstrous behavior.

So how is it possible that its modern equivalent, the mass murder of civilians through suicide bombings, should now be done in the name of Islam?

In Dying to Win, Robert Pape, a scholar at the University of Chicago, analyzes the history and motivation of suicide bombers. Many people who read the book will be surprised to learn that suicide bombing was a tactic that was first used regularly by Hindu terrorists known as the Tamil Tigers. One of the most prominent victims of this tactic, Rajiv Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India, was killed on May 21, 1999 by a female suicide bomber from the Tamil Tigers. According to Pape, Gandhi’s murder marks the first use of the “suicide vest” which has become the tool of suicide bombers throughout the world today.

A full chronology of the history of suicide bombing among Hindu extremists can be found at:

http://www.spur.asn.au/chronology_of_suicide_bomb_attacks_by_Tamil_Tigers_in_sri_Lanka.htm

(A warning that the link contains graphic photos of the carnage caused by suicide bombers.)

One of the greatest tragedies of modern Islam is that Muslim extremists began to adopt this horrific tactic of suicide bombing over the past two decades. Palestinian militants, arguing that they had no other effective way to combat Israeli oppression, began to employ these tactics, and the image of the “Muslim suicide bomber” began to take hold in the media.

I remember at the time most Muslims I spoke with expressed disgust at these horrific acts, but some added the caveat — “What else can these poor people do? They have no tanks or jets to take on Israeli tanks and jets. This is their only way to fight.”

My response then and now is that Islam is a religion that has established rules of war for a reason. Human conflict is perhaps inevitable, but unless there is a sense of morality among warriors, even among the warriors of the oppressed, human beings will descend into monstrosity. The nobility of a cause is forever tainted when dipped in the blood of innocents. The argument that Israeli military activities kill countless Palestinian civilians is not an argument that is supported by the noble spirit of Islam. As Saladin pointed out, the Muslims would not inflict on the Christians the atrocities that the Crusaders had inflicted on their victims, simple because we as Muslims were better than that.

And I warned those who would excuse the suicide bombers as long as they targeted “the unbelievers,” that in Islam all human beings are brothers and sisters and have rights before God and man. I predicted that once some Muslims turned their back on Islam’s strict rules of war and went beneath themselves in order “to win,” the wrath of Allah would be unleashed upon the Islamic community. If we allowed suicide bombings against non-Muslims, then soon would God punish our sins by inflicting the same horror on Muslims.

Tragically, my prediction came true. Suicide bombers in Iraq and Afghanistan now kill thousands of Muslims a year, innocent people going to pray or shop in the marketplace, their only crime being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This kind of monstrous behavior is not Islam. It never has been Islam. And it will never be Islam, no matter what kind of self-serving justifications the terrorists use.

For those who wish to learn more about mainstream Muslim positions about war, terrorism and suicide bombing, I refer you here:

http://islam.about.com/cs/currentevents/a/suicide_bomb.htm

http://www.harunyahya.com/terrorism3.php

It is time for Muslims and people of all faiths to stand together in love and justice and end this horrific scourge of terrorism and suicide bombing on humanity.

I look forward to the day that the world will no longer associate such monstrosity with my beloved faith. And that one day, mankind will believe that Islam really does represent what its name stands for: “Peace.”

Kamran Pasha is a Hollywood filmmaker and the author of Mother of the Believers, a novel on the birth of Islam as told by Prophet Muhammad’s wife Aisha (Atria Books; April 2009). For more information please visit: http://www.kamranpasha.com

The Idol of Zionism Created by the West Must Be Shattered

MEMRI: Latest News

April 24, 2009 No. 2326

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: The Idol of Zionism Created by the West Must Be Shattered

According to reports in the West, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad toned down his speech at the Durban Review Conference, held April 22-24, 2009 in Geneva, due to public criticism. However, when he returned to Iran he stepped up his anti-West and anti-Israel statements. In an April 23, 2009 speech in Eslamshahr, near Tehran, Ahmadinejad said that the West is worshipping the idol it had created in the form of Zionism, and is forcing the entire world to worship it as well – but that this idol “must be shattered in order to save humanity.” He also claimed that the West fabricated the Holocaust and made it a sacred issue, and is using it to take over the entire world.

Also, in a speech the previous day at an international conference of prosecutors of Islamic countries in Tehran, he accused the West of “prepar[ing] the ground for the fulfillment of Zionism’s aspirations.”

The following are excerpts from speeches he made after returning from Geneva:

“This Idol of Zionism Must Be Shattered in Order to Save Humanity… Iran’s Revolution Has Already Been Exported”

In his speech in Eslamshahr, Ahmadinejad said: “Wherever we want to visit and at every conference in which we participate, they [the Western countries] say: ‘Who do you want to criticize? [You can] criticize the U.S., Europe, the [Second] World War, the Vietnam War, or the Korean War, but you must not criticize the Zionists.’ The people of the West fabricated what is known as the Holocaust and Zionism, and they have sanctified it and placed it at the top of all holy beliefs. They have all united around it, and by hoisting the banner of Zionism, while using violence and aggression, spreading civil strife, and [perpetrating] Zionist crimes, they have taken over the world and wish to rule it.

“I say to them: ‘In your countries, you permit [even] the affronting of the divine prophets, the holy of holies of the world.’ They respond by saying: ‘That’s freedom of speech.’ But when it comes to [the issue of] the Zionists, they say: ‘Shut up, and don’t utter a word.’ They [the Western countries] have fabricated an idol called Zionism, which they worship and want to force all the nations to worship.

“I declare from [this pulpit] that this idol of Zionism must be shattered in order to save humanity… [1] They must know that the free nations, the Iranian nation, and the people of Eslamshahr will not tolerate this modern idol-worshiping, that they will shatter this idol with force… Indeed, they have already shattered this idol.

“A journalist asked me: ‘Do you still want to export your revolution?’ I said to him: ‘Iran’s revolution has already been exported. The world’s nations chant the slogans of the Iranian nation, and talk about brotherhood, justice, and peace, and about the confrontation with oppression and with the crimes of the Zionists. The Islamic Revolution of Iran has already been exported. Can’t you see that? Can’t you discern that? If you go to America, [you will see] that there too people chant the slogans of the Iranian nation.” [2]

“The Zionists are the Ones Running International Relations… The Mask of Judaism [Behind which Zionism Hides] is False”

At an April 22, 2009 speech at the international conference of Islamic prosecutors, which convened in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said: “Let me say a few words about the Durban [2] conference in Geneva: The Zionists are the ones running international relations… Everybody knows that Zionism is a political party, and you all know that the mask of Judaism [behind which they hide] is false, because Zionism is devoid of religion, and they are against religion, against race, and against humanity.

“Zionism is a convoluted and crude party, which operates contrary to the teachings of the divine prophets and against humanity [in an effort] to take over the foundations of the world. Their management of the world takes two forms: One is behind-the-scenes control – they have arranged the [international] institutions so that they will continuously strive to achieve the Zionist goals. They [i.e. Westerners] have prepared the ground for the fulfillment of Zionism’s aspirations, and they fully support the Zionist regime, without donning the mask of Zionism [themselves].

“All the organizations – the [U.N.] Security Council and the international political and judicial institutions – wholeheartedly support the Zionists, even though the Zionist mark is not branded on their foreheads.

“I believe that behind the scenes, the Zionists are running these institutions to their own advantage.” [3]

“Over 70% of the Europeans Support Iran … [Because] the Statements of the Iranian Nation Stem from Divine Inspiration”

Upon his return from Geneva, Ahmadinejad said in a speech at Mehrabad airport in Tehran: “A journalist asked me in Geneva: ‘Why do you say these things? The Europeans are concerned about your statements.’ I told him: Let’s test what you say, and hold a referendum in Europe. You will see that over 70% of the Europeans support the Iranian nation. This is because the statements of the Iranian nation stem from divine inspiration.” [4]

[1] Fars (Iran), April 23, 2009.

[2] ISNA (Iran), April 23, 2009.

[3] The Institution of the Iranian Presidency, April 22, 2009.

[4] Kayhan (Iran), April 22, 2009.

The Idol of Zionism Created by the West Must Be Shattered

MEMRI: Latest News

April 24, 2009 No. 2326

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: The Idol of Zionism Created by the West Must Be Shattered

According to reports in the West, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad toned down his speech at the Durban Review Conference, held April 22-24, 2009 in Geneva, due to public criticism. However, when he returned to Iran he stepped up his anti-West and anti-Israel statements. In an April 23, 2009 speech in Eslamshahr, near Tehran, Ahmadinejad said that the West is worshipping the idol it had created in the form of Zionism, and is forcing the entire world to worship it as well – but that this idol “must be shattered in order to save humanity.” He also claimed that the West fabricated the Holocaust and made it a sacred issue, and is using it to take over the entire world.

Also, in a speech the previous day at an international conference of prosecutors of Islamic countries in Tehran, he accused the West of “prepar[ing] the ground for the fulfillment of Zionism’s aspirations.”

The following are excerpts from speeches he made after returning from Geneva:

“This Idol of Zionism Must Be Shattered in Order to Save Humanity… Iran’s Revolution Has Already Been Exported”

In his speech in Eslamshahr, Ahmadinejad said: “Wherever we want to visit and at every conference in which we participate, they [the Western countries] say: ‘Who do you want to criticize? [You can] criticize the U.S., Europe, the [Second] World War, the Vietnam War, or the Korean War, but you must not criticize the Zionists.’ The people of the West fabricated what is known as the Holocaust and Zionism, and they have sanctified it and placed it at the top of all holy beliefs. They have all united around it, and by hoisting the banner of Zionism, while using violence and aggression, spreading civil strife, and [perpetrating] Zionist crimes, they have taken over the world and wish to rule it.

“I say to them: ‘In your countries, you permit [even] the affronting of the divine prophets, the holy of holies of the world.’ They respond by saying: ‘That’s freedom of speech.’ But when it comes to [the issue of] the Zionists, they say: ‘Shut up, and don’t utter a word.’ They [the Western countries] have fabricated an idol called Zionism, which they worship and want to force all the nations to worship.

“I declare from [this pulpit] that this idol of Zionism must be shattered in order to save humanity… [1] They must know that the free nations, the Iranian nation, and the people of Eslamshahr will not tolerate this modern idol-worshiping, that they will shatter this idol with force… Indeed, they have already shattered this idol.

“A journalist asked me: ‘Do you still want to export your revolution?’ I said to him: ‘Iran’s revolution has already been exported. The world’s nations chant the slogans of the Iranian nation, and talk about brotherhood, justice, and peace, and about the confrontation with oppression and with the crimes of the Zionists. The Islamic Revolution of Iran has already been exported. Can’t you see that? Can’t you discern that? If you go to America, [you will see] that there too people chant the slogans of the Iranian nation.” [2]

“The Zionists are the Ones Running International Relations… The Mask of Judaism [Behind which Zionism Hides] is False”

At an April 22, 2009 speech at the international conference of Islamic prosecutors, which convened in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said: “Let me say a few words about the Durban [2] conference in Geneva: The Zionists are the ones running international relations… Everybody knows that Zionism is a political party, and you all know that the mask of Judaism [behind which they hide] is false, because Zionism is devoid of religion, and they are against religion, against race, and against humanity.

“Zionism is a convoluted and crude party, which operates contrary to the teachings of the divine prophets and against humanity [in an effort] to take over the foundations of the world. Their management of the world takes two forms: One is behind-the-scenes control – they have arranged the [international] institutions so that they will continuously strive to achieve the Zionist goals. They [i.e. Westerners] have prepared the ground for the fulfillment of Zionism’s aspirations, and they fully support the Zionist regime, without donning the mask of Zionism [themselves].

“All the organizations – the [U.N.] Security Council and the international political and judicial institutions – wholeheartedly support the Zionists, even though the Zionist mark is not branded on their foreheads.

“I believe that behind the scenes, the Zionists are running these institutions to their own advantage.” [3]

“Over 70% of the Europeans Support Iran … [Because] the Statements of the Iranian Nation Stem from Divine Inspiration”

Upon his return from Geneva, Ahmadinejad said in a speech at Mehrabad airport in Tehran: “A journalist asked me in Geneva: ‘Why do you say these things? The Europeans are concerned about your statements.’ I told him: Let’s test what you say, and hold a referendum in Europe. You will see that over 70% of the Europeans support the Iranian nation. This is because the statements of the Iranian nation stem from divine inspiration.” [4]

[1] Fars (Iran), April 23, 2009.

[2] ISNA (Iran), April 23, 2009.

[3] The Institution of the Iranian Presidency, April 22, 2009.

[4] Kayhan (Iran), April 22, 2009.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says “in many ways Islam is maybe the most democratic religion because there is nobody between you and God”

Albright Praises Obama’s Efforts to Engage Muslim World


24 April 2009

President Barack Obama continued his outreach to the Muslim world in April with a visit to Turkey. There was generally favorable response across the political spectrum in Muslim countries to the president’s public statements – such as a pledge made before Turkey’s Parliament in Ankara.

“We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” Obama said. “We will listen carefully, we will bridge misunderstandings, and we will seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree.”

The president’s approach seems to enjoy popular support back home, as well. The latest Washington Post/ABC opinion survey shows that 81 percent of Americans believe it is important for the U.S. to engage the Muslim world.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says the president already has taken action to improve relations with Muslim countries
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says the president already has taken action to improve relations with Muslim countries

That is also the conclusion of the report by the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright – one of its authors – said the president already is adopting several of its recommendations.

“In terms of diplomacy and conflict resolution, he did say that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue was a major input, and he immediately named Senator George Mitchell as his envoy in order to work on that particular issue,” she says. “On Iraq, he made a commitment to a relatively fast drawn down. On Afghanistan and Pakistan, he also felt very strongly that it was very important to deal with as a regional diplomatic issue and has named Ambassador [Richard] Holbrook as his representative in order to deal with issues there.”

At the meeting with ambassadors from member states of the Organization of The Islamic Conference, or OIC., Albright laid out the project’s strategies for combating Islamic extremism: First, elevate diplomacy as the primary tool for resolving key conflicts involving Muslim countries. Then promote broad-based economic development in those nations, foster mutual respect and understanding between Americans and Muslims, and support efforts to improve governance and promote civic participation in predominantly Muslim societies.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Muslim countries can be democracies,” Albright says. “Turkey is a perfect example of that. It is very evident, and, actually, in my study of religions, in many ways Islam is maybe the most democratic religion because there is nobody between you and God. So I do not think that is something that can be used as reason not to have Muslim democracies.”

Albright said the members of the Leadership Group on U.S. Muslim Engagement are calling on the Obama administration to continue promoting democracy through diplomacy, not force.

Former U.S. Rep. Vin Weber says the administration should exert political and economic pressure to promote democratic reforms in the Middle East
Former U.S. Rep. Vin Weber says the administration should exert political and economic pressure to promote democratic reforms in the Middle East

Former Congressman Vin Weber, another group member, pointed out that the Bush administration policy of promoting regime change by military intervention strengthened the misperception that while the U.S. is calling for democratic reforms, Washington is continuing to support repressive governments in allied Muslim countries.

“It is a fact, unfortunately, that the word democracy has become a code word in recent years for regime change and maybe for armed intervention regime change, but at the end of the day, there is a core value that Americans have stood for, that we have to continue stand for, and we can’t allow that as well to become a fundamental impediment to improving the relations we are talking about.”

Weber said the report recommends fighting poverty and using U.S. political and economic leverage with authoritarian governments to promote democratic reforms and create a middle class and a civil society.

The OIC ambassadors were generally pleased with the report. Moroccan Ambassador Aziz Mekouar called it “a most constructive blueprint for building relationships of cooperation” between the United States and the larger Muslim world.

“I think that President Obama has taken very good steps immediately after he took office by appointing Senator Mitchell as a personal envoy, and he went there several times, and Secretary Clinton also went to the region, so we are seeing more than goodwill,” Mekouar says. “We are seeing a lot of actions to try to help solve the conflict in the Middle East on the basis of two-state solution.”

Libya Ambassador Ali Aujali says the Arab world will remain skeptical of American policy in the Middle East until they see concrete changes
Libya Ambassador Ali Aujali says the Arab world will remain skeptical of American policy in the Middle East until they see concrete changes

Libyan Ambassador Ali Aujali agreed, but said the Arab world is waiting for some concrete policy changes, especially in regard to Israel’s continued expansion of settlements in the West Bank.

“Until we see this change in American policy in the Middle East, and we see that Americans have shifted from supporting one side against the other side, until we see a clear position of the administration that they will help to stop the new settlements, I think the Arab world still will not believe there is a change in the administration’s foreign policy.”

In the face of such skepticism, members of the Engagement Project hope their proposed new strategies will help guide the Obama Administration to a more productive dialogue between the United States and the Muslim world.

‘The Armenian Genocide by the Ottomans… The Big Lie’

MEMRI: Latest News

April 23, 2009 No. 2325

London Islamist Hani Sibai: ‘The Armenian Genocide by the Ottomans… The Big Lie’

The following is an article by Dr. Hani Sibai, [1] an Islamist activist residing in London who is the founder and director of a private institution called “The Almaqreze Centre for Historical Studies.” [2]

A “Reply to the Alleged Claim of the Armenian Genocide by the Ottomans”

“Praise be to Allah and Peace and Blessing be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

“This is an article in reply to the alleged claim of the Armenian genocide by the Ottomans:

“First: Introduction

“Second: Crucial points to understand the conflict

“Third: [A] Few Examples of the Loyalty of the Armenians to Russia and their Mutiny against the Othman State

[“Fourth: A statement buried in the U.S. archives]

“Fifth: Conclusion.”

When Did the Issue of Armenia Come to Light – And Why Do the Armenians Insist That They Were Subjected to Genocide by the Ottomans?

“First: Introduction

“This false claim and despicable propaganda (i.e. the Armenian genocide by the Ottomans) had been adopted by the Russians who used the Armenians to achieve their political interests and ambitions. It was the Russians who had created the Armenian state and had given them, illegally, most of the lands owned by the Muslims after they were expelled from them. These vast lands were seized by the Russians during centuries of constant wars against the Ottoman Empire.

“Russia conducted an organized terror campaign against the citizens of the Ottoman state; they destroyed complete towns and villages fully inhabited with Muslims, and those Muslims who would remain alive were forced to leave. The Russians [would] seize all the properties of those oppressed Muslims, who were exposed to the worst kind of mass extermination in the history of mankind. At the same time, and under the pretext of defending Christianity, the Russian armies [would] bring in the Armenians who were supporting them in their wars against the Ottomans, and give them Muslims lands. The Russian government [would] provide the Armenian rebels with money and weapons, after any incident between a Muslim among the Ottoman nationals and an Armenian supporting Russia. The Muslim was not allowed to retaliate [against] the hostility of the Armenian gangs, who [would] attack the villages and rape women; and if a Muslim tried to defend his land and honor, the Armenian gangs would destroy and burn down the whole village.

“Russia used the Armenian rebels to extend their areas of influence and seize countries that were under the Ottoman Empire, and this policy had helped them create the Soviet Union since the Bolshevist revolution in 1917. This has been confirmed by Laurent Chabri and Annie Chabri in their valuable book Politics and Minorities in the Near East, and although they were not unbiased in their book (Politics and Minorities in the Near East, translated by Dr. Dhuqan Qarqut, page 311), they said in it: ‘The Armenians, who remained in Armenia and who were under the authority of the Turks on one side and under the authority of the Persians on the other, had seen great hope by the end of the eighteenth century in the Russian power, the Christian power that would appear in the scene of the Near East, and with it came the desire to extend well behind the Caucasus towards the south and the southeast. Before that, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Armenians had tried vainly to get a support from the western Catholics, expecting a military intervention from the western countries in order to rescue them from the Turkish firepower. Russia did not break those new hopes, as it used the army of Armenian volunteers to invade Persia and occupy the lands that form what is held to be the Russian Armenia.’

“Perhaps, one [may] ask when the issue of Armenia came to light internationally, and why the Armenians insist about their allegation that they have been subjected to a genocide by the Ottomans.

“To answer these questions, we will shed light upon the following issues:

Crucial Points to Understand the Conflict

“Second: Crucial Points to Understand the Conflict

“The first point: The Armenian issue was raised at the international level for the first time following the Saint Stefano Deal: after the end of the Russian-Turkish war 1877-1878, the two parties conducted the deal of Saint Stefano and Berlin in 1878, where articles 16 and 61 gave way to deal with the Armenian issue internationally in a manner that is still gouging and exacting pressure on the Turks up to our present time.

“The second point: It is necessary to study the historical period during which the Armenians claim to have been subjected to genocide, and it is the period that more or less between 1821 and 1922. There should also be a study of a great geographical region that was under the authority of the Ottomans, from the Caucasus to Anatolia and the Balkans, including Bulgaria and Greece, where most of the inhabitants of these vast regions were Muslims.

“There are indeed some serious studies about this subject, although few, such as the one conducted by Justin McCarthy in his book Death and Exile: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922 (Princeton, N.J.: Darwin Press, ©1995), a book that was sponsored by the U.S. National Endowment for Cultural Studies to investigate the First World War and its effects, and by the Institution for Turkish Studies to look into the deaths and migration of the Turks, jointly with some American and British universities…

“This research is considered to be the best effort regarding this issue, despite our reservation about some remarks that do not diminish its value and its genuine effort, and it was translated into Arabic and published by Qadams in Damascus. Naturally, the study of this region geographically and historically, with the nature of the conflict in that period, necessitates a great deal of research and documented studies, which would allow reasonable and just people to discover the gravity of this allegation, repeatedly quoted by the West about the so-called ‘Armenian genocide,’ in time when the western writers ignore the fate of millions of Muslims who were expulsed from their lands and killed at the hands of the Russians, the Armenians, the Bulgarians, the Greeks and the Serbians during the aforementioned period up to 1922!

“As in the words of McCarthy: “There were Muslim societies in an area with the size of western Europe that were reduced or exterminated. In the Balkans, the great Turkish population was reduced to their previous number. In the Caucasus, there was expulsion of the Charkas, the Laz, the Abkhaz and the Turks along with other Muslim minorities. Anatolia has changed, as its east and west were almost completely destroyed. This was one of the greatest tragedies in history. (McCarthy: p327)

“The third point: There was the role of the ‘Union and Progress Group’ in the downfall of the Ottoman Caliphate in 1908, coercing the Sultan Hamid the Second to retire, and introducing an article in the new constitution, allowing all the Ottoman citizens to be armed and providing a legal cover for the ethnic minorities to procure weapons. The Armenians exploited the new legislation to acquire and store weapons with which they killed Muslims. The Armenian aggression against the Muslims began in the town of Adana before the middle of 1909, under the leadership of the vicar of the city of Asvin, named Mustic.

“The fourth point: There was also the role played by western ambassadors and consuls and American protestant missionaries in misleading the public opinion and spreading reports, exaggerating the number of killed Armenians, while disregarding the number of Muslims killed in the war. In many occasions, telling lies was deliberate as is the case of American consul who was accused of siding fanatically with the Armenians. The French consul was not less fanatic than the American or the Russian consuls!

“Unfortunately, the Sultan Abdul Hamid believed that the British government wanted to preserve the unity of the Ottoman provinces, but he came around after it was too late!

“Robert Mantran said in the second part of his book The History of the Ottoman State, a book that contains many inaccurate statements: ‘From 1878 to 1879, Abdul Hamid began to have suspicions that England wanted to abandon its traditional policy about preserving the unity of the Ottoman lands. These suspicions were fed by the pressures executed by the British government on the Sultan Abdul Hamid in order to carry out the promised reforms in the Armenian region, and were increased intensely by the appointment of Gladstone, leader of the Liberals, as the head of British government in May 1880. He was a known enemy of the Turks since the slaughters in Bulgaria. Those suspicions were confirmed, in a way, by the control of London upon Egypt in 1882. Since that time, the British diplomacy had witnessed – according to the Istanbul’s view – a complete turn over.’ (Robert Mantran: The History of the OttomanState ).

“The fifth point: It is the misleading western propaganda, diffused by the media to distort the facts and depict the Muslims as savages and barbarians; while on the other hand, it pictures the Armenians as genius, righteous and tolerant people!

“The sixth point: These problems and worries, stirred by enemy forces against the Ottoman State, appeared in its reigning lands of the Caucasus, the Crimean peninsula, the Balkans and Anatolia, and had an impact on the fate of the Muslims in those vast territories, because of many fundamental factors:

“a. The weakness of the Ottoman State, to the point where it was described as ‘the sick man’

“b. Inciting the Christian Nationalism among the minorities, who were under the Ottoman Empire. The Great Powers at that time, which were ambitious enough to divide the properties of the Ottoman Empire, strove to incite the non-Muslim minorities to rise up and revive nationalism, as is the case with Armenia, Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia. Robert Mantran confirmed this issue, saying: ‘In reality, the Armenian National Movement, after 1878, is associated, to a considerable extent, with the analysis which the Armenian intellectuals had conducted about the Bulgarian independence. Bulgaria had achieved this independence with the help of Europe, but, in fact, it had been achieved by the use of force and ruthless methods used by the Bulgarian Revolutionary Committees. Therefore, the Bulgarian example dominated the Armenian combatants’ thought, especially those who would resort to create the first organizations. Actually, the first revolutionary parties started to appear in the middle of 1880: the Armenian Party was established (in Fan) in 1885 by a number of educators, then the two large parties, unlike the first party, were formed by Armenians from Caucasus who had very little link with the Armenian Turks. The first of these two large parties was Hintshaq, which was established in Geneva in 1887, and Tashnaq (The Armenian Revolutionary Union) established in 1890 in Tiflis.’ (Robert Mantran: Second 2, p. 217)

“c. The Russian colonial expansion, which continued to absorb the properties of the Ottoman Empire piece by piece.”

The West Uses “The Armenian Problem” Against the ModernTurkishState – Even Though the “Turkish Government Adopts the Secular System and Fights Any Aspect of Islam in the Country, in Order to Satisfy the West and Join… the EU”

“Therefore, from the aforesaid, we can understand the Armenian problem, which the West uses against the modern Turkish state, though the new Turkish government adopts the secular system and fights any aspect of Islam in the country, in order to satisfy the West and join the promised paradise of the European Union. However, the European Union will never allow Turkey to be a member in its club, because the Western leaders know very well that Kamal Ataturk had done a very good job by turning Turkey into a secular state. Nevertheless, they know that, although the Turkish people are far from the real Islam, they still have the spirit of it in their blood and a yearning for the return of the glorious Islam, which have started to spread in recent years, even though the army tried hard to stop this living spirit. Accordingly, the European leaders worry about the entry of Turkey into the European Union because they believe with faith that this Union is a Christian club and there is no place for a Muslim state in it.

“Although Turkey and the United States are close allies at the moment, the leaders of the White House are not certain about their interests in the remote future; therefore they will, eventually, adopt a resolution which condemns Turkey of the Armenian genocide, and hence use extortion against Turkey and use this resolution as an excuse to sanction Turkey economically, and intervene militarily, if Turkey abandons its extreme secular system and adopts an Islamic system. If that happens, Europe and the US will form an alliance and wage a fierce war against Turkey. It will be like a Third, Fourth or Fifth World War against Turkey in order to occupy Constantinople and annex it to the West.”

The Armenians’ Loyalty to Russia and Their Mutiny Against the OttomanState

“Third: The Loyalty of the Armenians to Russia and their Mutiny Against the OttomanState

“The religious loyalty had a major impact in the conflict between Russia and the Ottoman state, because the concept of citizenship had not appeared then. This principle was confirmed by McCarthy in his aforementioned book: ‘It is obvious that the Armenian people, under the Ottoman and the Russian control, used to view each other as brothers, regardless of their nationalities, and the same thing goes for Muslims. It is not clear whether the concept of citizenship, in comparison with the religious affiliation, was firmly established, to a greater extent, in either the Caucasus or eastern Anatolia before 1920.

“‘In the East, a Caucasian Muslim felt that he was closer to his Anatolian Muslim brother than to a Caucasus Armenian; likewise, the Eastern Anatolian Armenian related himself to the Caucasus Armenian and not to the Anatolian Muslims. Their affiliations with their religious groups were confirmed by the Caucasian and Eastern Anatolia wars time after time.” (Justin McCarthy: Expulsion and Genocide, p. 49)

“The religious loyalty is not something strange in world history, but what is strange is to exclude this principle in assessing the nature of the conflict throughout history. As an example of the importance of this religious loyalty, the Russian Tsarists used to persecute the Armenian Church, and then they changed their treatment during the reign of Peter the Great, so that they could use them as support in their expansionist wars against the Ottoman state. The Armenian people understood that on the basis that they belong, along with the Russians, to the same Christian religion and that their enemy was one (the Ottoman Islamic State).

“In fact, the Armenian people used the same principle with the French and established a legion which became under the French army command in Qulayqiliyyah. This Armenian legion caused mischief on earth on the basis that the French were their brothers in religion and that they had a common enemy (i.e. the Ottoman Islamic State). The American Protestant Missionaries had also a major role in inflaming this conflict and the religious brotherhood was the sole factor which associated them with the Armenians, and worst, it covered the reality of the carnage committed by the Armenians against Muslims. This is not prejudice from my part in understanding the nature of the conflict, because all the historical facts confirm it and the modern history supports this opinion.

“If you really want to understand this fact clearly, look at the regions of conflict in the world: Palestine, Iraq, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Burma, Thailand, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Somalia, Darfur and the pressure and oppression of Muslims in the West. Is all this just sheer coincidence, unintentional and with no religious loyalty in this conflict and in waging these unjust wars?

Examples of the Armenians’ Loyalty to the Russians

“A Few Examples of the Armenians’ Loyalty to the Russians and their Mutiny against the Ottoman Empire

“In his study, McCarthy mentioned many historical proofs of the Armenian’s loyalty to the Russians, which we will summarize as follows:

“1. During the reign of Peter the Great, the Armenians started to rely more on the Russians, hoping that they would get the support they needed. Since the first waves of attacks by the Russians on the Caucasus, the Armenians had formed a military power to help the Russians attack the region and they pledged their allegiance to the Tsars.

“2. During the eighth and ninth century, the Armenians (Church leaders, secular leaders, different groups, etc.) supported the Russian attack of Muslim lands in the Caucasus, hoping to overthrow the Muslim leaders in these states.

“3. The Armenians were employed as spies for the Russians against their Muslim leaders, whether they were the Ottomans or Armenians who were subjects of the Persian state.

“4. When the city of Derbend was under siege by the Russian army in 1796, its Armenian inhabitants sent to the Russians valuable information about the city’s water supplies, and this allowed the Russian army to defeat the army of Derbend.

“5. In the 1890’s, Armenian archbishop (Argotnisky-Dolgorokov) publicly announced that he hoped that the Russians would liberate Armenia from Muslim rule.

“6. During the wars of 1827-1829 and the Qaram war, the Armenian citizens of both the Ottoman and Persian Empires, together with the Armenians who lived inside the Russian Empire, fought alongside the Russian army against the Persian army and the Ottoman Empire.

“7. The Armenians, living inside Ottoman Anatolia, gave their allegiance to the Russian cause by working as spies for the Russian government.

“8. The Armenians would cross the borders of Anatolia and give reports of the Ottoman armies to the Russian in all the wars of eastern Anatolia.

“9. The Armenians in Anatolia helped the invading Russian armies in 1827, and when the Russian armies left, thousands of Armenians followed it outside Anatolia.

“10. During the Qaram war, the Armenians gave secret information from the city of Kars which was under the Russian siege.

“11. The Armenian guides paved the way for the Russian invaders from the Ottoman Anatolia in 1877.

“12. In 1877, the Armenians of Elsekirt valley welcomed the invading Russian armies, and when the Russian armies left all Armenians left with them.

“13. The Armenians of Anatolia and Caucasus were allies of the Russian armies in the First World War. In Anatolia, the Armenian rebels’ reliance on the Russians became clear by the middle of the 19th century, by revolting in Zeyton when there was need for financial resources to reinforce their defense in Zeyton against the Ottomans. In 1854, while the Ottoman armies were fighting against the Russian in the Qaram war, the Armenian rebels tried to get financial support from the Russians.

“14. In 1872, the Armenians of Van, who were citizens of the Ottoman Empire, wrote to the Russian Emperor’s representative in Caucasus asking help from him against their government. They wanted to become citizens of Russia so they started to buy and store weapons.

“15. There were constant contacts and communications between the Ottoman Armenians and the Russian Empire within the Armenian revolutionary groups, especially Tashnaq, and the other half of Armenia under the Russian control was a centre for storing weapons and revolutionary organization against the Ottoman Empire.

“16. The Archbishop of Derik, on the side of the Persian border with the Ottoman, transformed a monastery into a store for weapons and a centre of infiltration for the Armenian rebels to the Ottoman Empire.

“17. The Armenians and the Georgians, especially those who had relatives in Iran or had businesses, continued to be significant sources of information for the Russians; hence they had a major impact in the Russian political and strategic decisions. The Tsar, Alexander Tsitsianov, ordered his advisers to contact Patriarch Daniel and his followers.

“18. Patriarch Daniel, who was a candidate, supported by the Russians, for the position of the Armenian Church Patriarchy (after the death of Argotnisky-Dolgorokov) would spy and give valuable information to the Russians.

“19. In 1808, Alexander Tsitsianov rewarded Patriarch Daniel with a first-degree monastic for his services in spying and providing information to the Russians. While the Russians were fighting to expand their territories in Kur and Aras, the Armenians continued to send letters to the Russian officials encouraging them to capture areas under Muslims control and save the Armenian people from the Muslim persecution.

“20. The relation between the Armenian rebels and the Armenian Church had facilitated their activities to a larger extent, because the church was an organization which managed to cross the border easily, and in Istanbul, itself, the church leaders and priests had the freedom to move as they pleased and the Ottoman Armenians could not touch them, although they were caught many times carrying letters, reports and money to the rebels. Besides, some churches and monasteries were used as clandestine stores for weapons, which were smuggled to the Armenian rebels, as these churches and monasteries were not subject to security inspection.

“Therefore, we have examined some examples of the Armenians’ loyalty and allegiance to the Russians during times of war and peace, which quash their fabricated lie (The Armenian genocide by the Ottomans).
For more confirmation about the authenticity of our report, we present this statement:

The Americans Disregarded a Report on the Damage and Destruction Perpetrated by the Armenians and Their Atrocities Against the Muslims

“Fourth: A Statement Buried in the U.S. Archives

“This statement is in the form of a report, made by two men who did not have any sympathy for the Ottoman Muslims. They were rather fanatically inclined towards the Armenians, and went to the region with a deliberate thought that the Armenians were a victimized nation, against whom the Muslims had committed group killings and slaughters, according to information taken from the misleading Western media and from the American Protestant Missionaries, who did not deserve any trust as witnesses of the Muslims’ sufferings, because they were excellent in deceptively recording acts against the Armenians in details. They were also dishonest in recording acts against the Muslims, as reported by some historians! Therefore, who are these two witnesses who returned to America with a different mood than the one with which they set out to eastern Anatolia?

“They are Captain Emory Niles and Arthus Sutherland, who were commanded by the American State administration [sic] to check the situation in eastern Anatolia. When they arrived in Anatolia, they travelled all around the region and listened to the testimony of the two parties. They were surprised at the bulk of distortions, fabricated by the Armenians, and were shocked at the terrifying ordeal and atrocities suffered by the Muslims at the hands of the Armenians! The American government was not pleased with the report so they disregarded it.

“It was for this reason that the report of the two American envoys was not included in the file of the American Investigating Committee, and all thanks to Allah, Glorified is He, that their report was not lost, but rather concealed and buried in places linked to the First World War in eastern Anatolia!
Justin McCarthy, of the University of Louisville, printed the report in 1994, and published it in his book Muslims and the Minorities! He published it once more in another book, Expulsion and Genocide, and all thanks and praise to Allah.

“As for the report of Niles and Sutherland, they wrote: ‘In the entire region from Bitlis through Van to Bayezit, we were informed that the damage and destruction had been done by the Armenians, who, after the Russians retired, remained in occupation of the country and who, when the Turkish army advanced, destroyed everything belonging to the Muslims. Moreover, the Armenians are accused of having committed murder, rape, arson and horrible atrocities of every description upon the Muslim population. At first, we were most incredulous of these stories, but we finally came to believe them, since the testimony was absolutely unanimous and was corroborated by material evidence. For instance, the only quarters left at all intact in the cities of Bitlis and Van are Armenian quarters … while the Muslim quarters were completely destroyed.’

“They also said in their report: ‘The ethnic situation in this region (Bayezit and Ardrom) is extremely critical because of its closeness to an Armenian front, fled by the refugees who report about the atrocities and organized killings committed by the Armenian government and its army and people against the Muslim residents. Although few hundred Armenians live actually in the province of Van, it is impossible for them to live in the mountainous regions of the province of Ardrom, where everyone feel utmost hatred towards them. There, the Armenians destroyed the villages and committed all types of criminal acts against the Muslims, before they retreated. The criminal acts of the Armenians have left a living and influencing factor of hatred on the other side, an aversion that fumes with rage at least in the region of Van. The existence of organized killings in Armenia was confirmed by refugees from all Armenian territories and also by some British officers in Ardrom.’ (McCarthy: p251.)

“Niles and Sutherland presented, in their report, some statistics covering the number of Muslim villages and houses which survived the miseries of war around the cities of Van and Bitlis alone; its confirmed that the Armenians had destroyed most Muslim houses and demolished all building with Islamic features, as detailed in the following table:

“Destruction in Van and Bitlis
“After the War 1919 Before the War The City of Van
“3 3400 Muslim houses
“1170 3100 Armenian houses

“After the War 1919 Before the War The City of Bitlis
“Naught 6500 Muslim houses
“1000 1500 Armenian houses [3]

As for villages in the provinces of Van, Sanjiq and Bayezit before the war and the Armenian occupation, it was reported, in the statistics of Noles and Sutherland, that the number of Muslim houses before the war in the villages of the province of Van was 1,373 and it decreased after the war in 1919 to 350 houses! Whereas the houses of the Armenians were 112 before the war and they increased after the war to 200! In the villages of the province of Bayezit, the number of the Muslim houses before the war was 448 and they reduced to 243 after the war, while the houses of the Armenians were 33 and they remained 33 after the war!

“Niles and Sutherland conscientiously summarized the history of Muslims in eastern Anatolia in the end of their report: ‘Although it is not part of our investigation at all, one of the significant facts which affected us in every place of Bitlis and Trabzon, that we have passed through, was that the Armenians had committed exactly all the atrocities and group killings which the Turks had committed against the Armenians in other places. At first, we largely had doubt regarding all the narrations we have received, but the overall agreement of all the witnessed and the passion with which they discussed the evil acts perpetuated against them, and their apparent hatred towards the Armenians, besides all the materialistic proofs in the land itself, all this made us believe the authenticity of the facts in general.

“‘First, the Armenians killed Muslims in a large scale and with various barbarity in their methods. Second, the Armenians were responsible for the destruction of most towns and villages. The Russians and the Armenians occupied the country for a long period (1915-1916), and it appeared that during that period, anarchy was limited, even though the Russians undoubtedly had caused much damage. In 1917, the Russian army was disbanded and left the authority in the hands of the Armenians alone. During that period, the Armenian militias patrolled the country, killing Muslim civilians. When the Turkish army moved towards Arzugan, Ardrom and Van, the Armenian army broke up and its soldiers or militias began destroying Muslim properties and killings mercilessly the Muslim inhabitants. The result was a completely destroyed country and a strong hatred towards the Armenians; a fact which makes it impossible for these two people to co-exist in the present time. The Muslims declared that if they were to be forced to live under the Armenian authority, they would rather fight, and it seems to us that they are likely to execute their threat. This opinion is shared by the Turkish, British and American officers that we have met.’ (McCarthy: p 253-254).

“This is just a testimony about the organized killing perpetuated by the Armenians against the Muslims during the First World War, from 1914 to 1918 in the provinces of Van and Betlis, in east Anatolia, let alone the decrease of the number of Muslim inhabitants in the all eastern Ottoman provinces, such as Ardrom, Betlis, Diyar Bikr, the Al-‘Aziz colony, Siwas, Halab and Trabzon. We will discover that in the period from 1912 to 1922, more than 62% of the Muslims in the province of Van were missing, 42% in the province of Betlis, 31% in the province of Ardrom and more than 60% in the Qoqaz!

“As for the provinces in western Anatolia, such as Aydin, Kadawindakar, Bigha and Idmid, the coalition forces expulsed the Turkish refugees who settled there and handed their properties to the Greeks! They left the Muslims without any refuge in the greatest public group theft in history. It was a premeditated group killing against the Muslims in the Qoqaz, Anatolia and the Balkans, with the blessing of the world imperialistic powers in that miserable period, and the dramatic end of the Ottoman Caliphate, which lasted six centuries.

“Millions of Muslims Were Killed at the Hands of the Armenians… The Defect Lies With Us as a Nation That Accepts Humility and Cheers Its Executioner”

“Fifth: Conclusion

“Therefore, it has become clear to us the weakness of this allegation of ‘the Armenian genocide by the Ottomans,’ which is repeatedly declared by the Armenians and those who encouraged them and supported them.

“Millions of Muslims were killed at the hands of the Armenians, the Russians, the Greeks, the Bulgarians, the Serbians and other enemies of the Ottoman Islamic state, in which lived under its reign various ethnic minorities in peace and security! Yet, no one asked for the punishment of the criminal perpetrators, who committed those group killings.

“The Muslims who were and still are the victims of these gruesome killings are exposed as savage killers!

“The real problem lies with the regimes related to the Islamic world for not demanding – even with diffidence – the punishment of the offenders behind the ongoing crimes against the Muslims in the Caucasus and Chechnya, the population exterminated in the Balkans, the mass graveyards in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the killing of more than one million child in Iraq alone, the destruction and complete disappearance of towns and villages in Afghanistan during the barbaric British, Russian and American aggressions. These oppressive regimes did not take one sound decision in its life to demand justice for their people, and ask for compensations from the French, the British, the Spanish, the Italians, the Dutch, the Russians and the Americans for their victims in Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Kashmir, Thailand, Somalia and Sudan!!!

“The Armenians have scraped the scab off wounds which are not dressed yet. They revived grieves which have not calmed yet. They stirred sorrows which would not rest until justice is done in the future. The western world owes a clear apology to the Muslims and compensation deemed for the crimes committed in the crusade wars, past and present! Yes, we demand apology and compensation for the mass killings of the Muslims during many centuries.

“As for those who seek their mercy in every fabricated case highlighted by them, and keep on defending disgracefully on the doorsteps of the Security Council and European Union, well it is self-destruction itself! It is better for this nation (Islamic) to be swallowed by the earth than to live in disgrace and dishonor!

“The defect lies with us as a nation that accepts humility and cheers its executioner and does not punish its killer!”

[1] For more about Hani Al-Sibai Visit MEMRI TV: http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1513.htm ; http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/803.htm ; http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/748.htm ; http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/576.htm

[2] Article is posted on the centers website, see http://www.almaqreze.net/articles/artic1059.html.

[3] The table is presented here as in the original article.

2006 Malegaon blast witness accuses ATS of malpractice, absolves Muslim detainees

2006 Malegaon blast witness accuses ATS of malpractice, absolves Muslim detainees | TwoCircles.net

2006 Malegaon blast witness accuses ATS of malpractice, absolves Muslim detainees
Submitted by admin3 on 22 April 2009 – 5:14pm.

* Crime/Terrorism
* India News
* Indian Muslim

By RINA,

New Delhi: Turning hostile to government organs a key witness in Malegaon blast case now says: “All detainees arrested for Malegaon bomb blast are blameless.” Police initially arrested several Muslim youths but the crime is now revealed to be perpetrated by Hindu extremists.

Abrar Ahmad, the only witness, today signed an affidavit confessing that ATS and former Malegaon S. P. had forced him to witness falsely against arrested persons. “This was all for money and on account of intimidation”, the witness acknowledged in fresh official declaration.

Abrar Ahmad further said, “The culprits of shab-e-bara’at bombings in 2006 are the same persons who exploded bomb on Bhikkoo Cowk in 2008.” ATS had arrested them later.

Abrar’s affidavit, received by the legal cell formed by all organizations of Malegaon yesterday, may prove a decisive turn in the case. Abrar’s brother advocate Jalil Ahmad had requested court’s permission for fresh affidavit as the earlier one was signed under influence of greed and intimidation.

In a press conference organized in Asex Hall in Malegaon, the chief of the legal cell, advocate S. S. Sheikh said, “Local police and ATS hatched a conspiracy without telling it to Abrar Ahmad. Now Abrar’s affidavit reveals that former S. P. Govardhan Raj’s role has been extremely abominable in this case. Police officer’s activities tell that he is an accomplice of bhagwa terrorist ideology.”

Advocate Shabbir Ahmad Kardar complained about another connection, “When the justice loving masses of Malegaon were complaining about partisan activities of ATS, city MLA, Sheikh Rashid had justified ATS in a meeting in 2006.” The legal cell has decided to file a writ petition in the high court within a fortnight in the light of Abrar’s exposure.

Hadith: God Accepts a Traveler’s Prayer

April 20, 2009 Forward to a Friend Support CAIR Contact Us Update Your Profile

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HADITH OF THE DAY: GOD ACCEPTS A TRAVELER’S PRAYER – TOP

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The supplications of three people are accepted (by God), and there is no doubt concerning their acceptance: the supplication of a (parent), of a traveler and of one who has been wronged.”

Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith 608

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CAIR DIRECTOR PRESENTS AWARD TO NJ MUSLIM LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS – TOP

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 4/20/09) – The executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Saturday presented an award to the American Muslim Law Enforcement Officers Association (AMLEOA) at the annual banquet of the council’s New Jersey chapter.

More than 300 people turned out for the event in Edison, New Jersey. Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim woman to be elected to the Michigan Legislature, spoke about the important role of Muslims in the political process. CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad also addressed the crowd, and presented CAIR-New Jersey’s 2009 Champions of Justice Award to AMLEOA “for outstanding service to the community.”

CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Community Relations Director Afsheen Shamsi, Tel: 908-668-5900, E-Mail: ashamsi@cair.com

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U.S. BORDER SCREENING UNDER FIRE – TOP
Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post, 4/20/09

To read the Muslim Advocates report, go to: Unreasonable Intrusions: Investigating the Politics, Faith & Finances of Americans Returning Home

Civil liberties groups are renewing calls for the Obama administration to change screening at border posts by limiting questions about Americans’ political beliefs and religious practices and establishing a process for U.S. citizens and residents who are mistakenly included on terrorist watch lists to clear their names.

In a report to be released today, the Asian Law Caucus of San Francisco cited more than 40 complaints from U.S. citizens and immigrants that it has received since 2007 as evidence of “a much wider pattern of profiling and discrimination at U.S. borders.”

“Many people in America’s Muslim, South Asian and Middle Eastern communities have come to expect harassment and discriminatory treatment at our nation’s doorstep” when returning home, the report said.

Separately, Muslim Advocates, the advocacy arm of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers, issued a report saying that citizens should not be threatened with detention for not answering questions that go beyond establishing their legal status to enter the United States or whether they are carrying contraband.

The actions come as civil liberties groups press for a swifter response by the new Democratic president and Congress to long-standing complaints that security measures adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have subjected innocent travelers to unwarranted delays and scrutiny. (More)

SEE ALSO:

ACLU CALLS ON SECRETARY NAPOLITANO TO RELEASE YOUSSEF MEGAHED – TOP
USF Student’s Arrest Vindictive, Says ACLU

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 20, 2009

CONTACT: Brandon Hensler, Director of Communications, (786) 363-2737 or media@aclufl.org

TAMPA, Fla. — The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida today sent a letter to Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), urging the release of Youssef Megahed, a University of South Florida student who was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials on April 6, in what the ACLU is calling a vindictive arrest.

Megahed’s arrest came just three days after he was acquitted by a federal jury of criminal charges relating to possession and transportation of explosive materials. The new arrest, which DHS and ICE have indicated are based on the same charges as in the criminal trial, undermines the jury system and illustrates the lack of due process for those caught in the web of the immigration courts.

“This arrest and the impending deportation charges highlight the flaws in our system,” said Rebecca Harrison Steele, ACLU of Florida West Central Regional Office Director. “A federal jury acquitted Mr. Megahed of all criminal charges. Now the government’s trying to get another bite at the apple in immigration court, where due process takes a lower priority. This latest arrest seems so vindictive. We are urging the federal government to release Mr. Megahed during the proceedings in immigration court and, if the charges in immigration court are indeed based on the very same facts as the criminal charges for which he has been acquitted, to dismiss the removal proceedings.”

Perhaps most telling was the release of statements by several of Megahed’s jurors, who also view ICE’s arrest as vindictive: “It strikes us as fundamentally wrong that the Government has put Mr. Megahed back in jail for suspicion of the same activities that he was acquitted of in the criminal case.” The jurors also stated: “More troublesome is the Government’s seeming blatant disregard of the will of its own people.”

The full text of the letter sent today is below, or can be downloaded in PDF.

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U.S. MUSLIM COALITION REAFFIRMS OPPOSITION TO FBI TACTICS – TOP

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/19/09) – Following a meeting in Washington, D.C., the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), a national coalition of major Islamic organizations, issued a statement re-affirming opposition to FBI tactics and government policies targeting the Muslim community.

SEE: U.S. Muslim Coalition Considers Suspending Relations with FBI

Representatives from the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), Muslim American Society-Freedom Foundation (MAS-FF), Muslim Student Association-National (MSA-N), Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) took part in Saturday’s meeting. Other member and observer organizations were briefed by phone.

In a joint statement issued after the meeting, all AMT members and observer groups agreed that:

“We reaffirm our commitment to being full partners in the defense, development and prosperity of our homeland, the United States.

“We also reiterate our determination to continue to work for greater unity and mutual cooperation among ourselves and with like-minded fellow Americans. We recognize that we may have different approaches to the varied challenges facing our community and country, yet our resolve to advocate on behalf of our community remains solid.

“We are fully united in asking the Obama administration to address the following issues: 1. Infiltration of mosques and systematic manipulation of Muslim religious affairs, 2. Use of agents provocateurs to trap unsuspecting Muslim youth, 3. Unfair targeting and deliberate vilification of CAIR, a national Muslim civil rights organization, 4. Use of McCarthy-era tactics, most notably dissemination of Islamophobic analysis by federally-funded ‘fusion centers’ to local law enforcement agencies.”

CONTACT: AMT Chair Dr. Agha Saeed, Tel: 510-299-9313, E-Mail: aghaksaeed@yahoo.com

SEE ALSO:

CAIR-LA: SOME INFLUENTIAL MUSLIM GROUPS QUESTION FBI’S ACTIONS – TOP
Revelations that the agency has been surveilling popular leaders and infiltrating mosques and schools has many organizations turning away from their post-9/11 cooperation.
Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times, 4/20/09

As they sipped tea and nibbled on dates, more than 100 men and women listened to a litany of speakers sounding the same message: The FBI is not your friend.

“We’re here today to say our mosques are off limits,” Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations for Greater Los Angeles, told the crowd last month at an Anaheim mosque.

“Our Koran is off limits,” Ayloush said. “Our youth, who they try to radicalize, are off limits. Now is the time to tell them, ‘We’re not going to let this happen anymore.’ “

Such strong words from a man who once was a vocal advocate of ties with federal law enforcement was yet one more signal that the fragile relationship between Muslim American groups and the FBI is being tested.

In the months and years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, FBI officials met privately with Muslim leaders, assuring them that a spate of hate crimes would be vigorously investigated and at the same time asking for help in the campaign against terrorism. Local leaders promised to encourage cooperation.

But even as relations warmed, a series of revelations — including allegations that the FBI sent an informant into a mosque in Orange County, surveilled community leaders and sent an agent to UC Irvine — caused some to begin questioning the FBI’s real intentions. (More)

CAIR-MI: MUSLIMS DESCRIBE FBI OFFERS TO ACT AS INFORMANTS – TOP
Several claim they have been asked to act as informants; agency denies targeting mosques
Gregg Krupa, Detroit News, 4/20/09

The FBI has come under fire from Muslim leaders in Metro Detroit who say the agency is threatening or coercing local residents into informing on people in their communities and mosques.

The prospective informants, their lawyers and community leaders said the federal agents identify themselves and tell them their immigration status could be blocked or revoked if they turn down FBI requests to report on activities of people who attend mosques.

“Cooperation will not be gained through the twisting of arms,” said Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. “We have worked extensively with the FBI and others in the past, and certainly we would provide any information of a national security concern. But the issue now is this: Will they treat us as partners, or suspects, or both? We want to know.”

Several Muslims agreed to talk to The Detroit News about their experiences, amid recent revelations about FBI activities. Those who say they were contacted to become informants express alarm at what they call intrusion in places of worship and private lives without reasonable cause. They say the federal initiative is bruising feelings and making Muslims fearful of cooperating with federal officials…

As he waited on tables in a Middle Eastern restaurant in Dearborn, a recent immigrant with a pending citizenship application told his story. “First, they asked me about my status in the country, why I am here, and what work I do,” said the man, who asked for anonymity because he doesn’t want to jeopardize his citizenship efforts.

“They said, ‘We want you to work with us, and we’ll help you with your (immigration) status.’

” … But I feel I cannot be spying on my mosque or my neighbors. That is not right. That is not American,” he said. “But a threat to my country, to the United States? My goodness, me and my family would run to them to alert them.

“… Now, my citizenship seems like it is permanently on hold, on hold, forever,” he said. “I constantly worry, and I feel I have no life since they approached me.” (More)

ACLU DEMANDING THAT FEDS TURN OVER OC MOSQUE SPYING RECORDS – TOP
Daffodil J. Altan, OC Weekly, 4/20/09

The case that erupted with ex-con man Craig Monteilh’s confession that he’s been spying on OC mosques for the FBI will hit local federal courts this afternoon, when the ACLU makes arguments asking for the release of all the information attached to the FBI’s infiltration of various local mosques. ACLU missive below:

SANTA ANA, Calif. – In the wake of news that an FBI informant infiltrated several Orange County mosques, the ACLU of Southern California will demand in federal district court Monday that the bureau release full information about its surveillance of the lawful activities of Muslims in Southern California. For nearly three years, the bureau has refused to release this information.

ACLU attorneys will talk to reporters after the hearing in front of the Santa Ana federal courthouse at approximately 2:30 p.m. See our coverage of the alleged spying here.

—–

CAIR-NY, JAPANESE-AMERICANS DISCUSS CIVIL RIGHTS ABUSES IN TIMES OF WAR – TOP

(NEW YORK, NY, 4/20/09) – Representatives of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) and Japanese American Citizen League (JACL) recently took part in a workshop, entitled “9066 to 911: What Happens When You Start Looking Like the Enemy,” as part of a conference themed “Act: Empower Our Generation” at New York University (NYU).

(In World War II, Executive Order 9066 authorized the Secretary of War and U.S. armed forces commanders to declare areas of the United States as military areas “from which any or all persons may be excluded” through relocation. The order led to the internment of some 120,000 Japanese-Americans who were held in internment camps for the duration of the war.)

Some 600 people attended the all-day conference hosted by New York City Asian American Student Conference (NYCAASC) a committee of Asian American students from NYU, Columbia University, Fordham University, Hunter College, and Brooklyn College.

“From Manzanar to Gitmo, civil liberties of minorities have been dismissed as collateral damage under the false guise of national security,” said CAIR-NY Civil Rights Director Aliya Latif. “Our united call must be to uphold the rule of law at times of war through coalition building, community engagement and government accountability.”

Latif said that the Islamic civil rights group’s California chapter recently took an educational trip with a group of Muslims to attend the 40th Annual Pilgrimage at Manzanar one of 10 internment camps that held more than 10,000 innocent Japanese-American men, women, and children during World War II.

SEE: CAIR-LA Manzanar Pilgrimage Documentary

CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 35 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR-NY Civil Rights Director Aliya Latif, 212-870-2002, 732-429-4268, alatif@cair.com; CAIR-NY Community Affairs Director Faiza N. Ali, 212-870-2002, 718-724-3041, fali@cair.com

—–

WHY MUSLIMS LEFT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY – TOP
Kamran Pasha, Watan, 4/17/09

Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann recently gave a radio interview in San Francisco where she questioned the patriotism of her colleague Rep. Keith Ellison, the first American Muslim elected to Congress. As a Muslim and a former Republican, I would like to respond.

Bachmann’s comments, where she derided Ellison for seeking to bring Muslims into the Obama Administration, reveal why Muslims like me left the Republican Party in droves over the past few years.

The fact that American Muslims historically identified and voted Republican will likely shock many people. But it shouldn’t, if we remember what the Republican Party used to represent. Growing up as an immigrant from Pakistan in Brooklyn, every Muslim I knew embraced the Republican brand of economic growth and family values. We were entrepreneurs who left our countries to find a better life in America, and loved the Republican promise of free enterprise and social mobility. As people of faith, we embraced the Republicans’ traditional values and social conservatism. And we saw Republicans like President George H.W. Bush and his Secretary of State James Baker as statesmen who were sympathetic to Palestinian suffering and willing to work hard to bring peace between Arabs and Israelis.

And then something started to change within the party. An ugly cancer of anti-Muslim bigotry began to reveal itself during the first Iraq War. I was an undergraduate at Dartmouth College, where the student body was perhaps the most conservative of the Ivy League schools. At meetings of the College Republicans, I began to hear distressing venom against Muslims. American Muslims were being openly talked of as a fifth column in the country, and my fellow students applauded rumors that internment camps were being set up in the Midwest for Muslim subversives. I was shocked to see my friends suddenly speak of my faith as the enemy. Our fight against Saddam had finally revealed the deeply held hatred for Islam among my fellow conservatives. (More)

—–

STILL NO ANSWERS IN WEST KENDALL MOSQUE SHOOTING – TOP
Mosque members met with police and FBI officials Tuesday after a shooting left the Masjid of Noor building with bullet holes back in early January. The case is still ongoing with no leads or suspects.
Paradise Afshar, Miami Herald, 4/19/09

There are still no leads or a suspect in an early January shooting at Masjid of Noor that left the mosque with 51 bullets on the building’s north side.

Officials from the Miami-Dade Police Department, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, spoke to the Miami-Dade Asian American Advisory Board and mosque members on Tuesday about the ongoing investigation.

At the meeting, held at the Islamic School of Miami, police said they have been working diligently, but so far no leads have developed.

“As of now, it is still an open investigation,” Sgt. Thomas Martinez said. “We were able to quantify some evidence on the scene. We haven’t received any leads from the community.”

This was not the first time the mosque was the target of an attack; there have been four prior incidents where swastikas have been drawn on the walls of the center, or rocks thrown. (More)

—–

SOURCES: WIRETAP RECORDED REP. HARMAN PROMISING TO INTERVENE FOR AIPAC – TOP
Jeff Stein, Congressional Quarterly, 4/19/09

Rep. Jane Harman, the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.

Harman was recorded saying she would “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference,” according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.

(Join Jeff Stein for a live online chat at 3 p.m. today about his story, or submit a question for Jeff.)

In exchange for Harman’s help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win.

Seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, “This conversation doesn’t exist.” (More)

Hadith: God Accepts a Traveler’s Prayer

April 20, 2009 Forward to a Friend Support CAIR Contact Us Update Your Profile

—–

HADITH OF THE DAY: GOD ACCEPTS A TRAVELER’S PRAYER – TOP

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The supplications of three people are accepted (by God), and there is no doubt concerning their acceptance: the supplication of a (parent), of a traveler and of one who has been wronged.”

Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith 608

—–

CAIR DIRECTOR PRESENTS AWARD TO NJ MUSLIM LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS – TOP

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 4/20/09) – The executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Saturday presented an award to the American Muslim Law Enforcement Officers Association (AMLEOA) at the annual banquet of the council’s New Jersey chapter.

More than 300 people turned out for the event in Edison, New Jersey. Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim woman to be elected to the Michigan Legislature, spoke about the important role of Muslims in the political process. CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad also addressed the crowd, and presented CAIR-New Jersey’s 2009 Champions of Justice Award to AMLEOA “for outstanding service to the community.”

CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Community Relations Director Afsheen Shamsi, Tel: 908-668-5900, E-Mail: ashamsi@cair.com

—–

U.S. BORDER SCREENING UNDER FIRE – TOP
Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post, 4/20/09

To read the Muslim Advocates report, go to: Unreasonable Intrusions: Investigating the Politics, Faith & Finances of Americans Returning Home

Civil liberties groups are renewing calls for the Obama administration to change screening at border posts by limiting questions about Americans’ political beliefs and religious practices and establishing a process for U.S. citizens and residents who are mistakenly included on terrorist watch lists to clear their names.

In a report to be released today, the Asian Law Caucus of San Francisco cited more than 40 complaints from U.S. citizens and immigrants that it has received since 2007 as evidence of “a much wider pattern of profiling and discrimination at U.S. borders.”

“Many people in America’s Muslim, South Asian and Middle Eastern communities have come to expect harassment and discriminatory treatment at our nation’s doorstep” when returning home, the report said.

Separately, Muslim Advocates, the advocacy arm of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers, issued a report saying that citizens should not be threatened with detention for not answering questions that go beyond establishing their legal status to enter the United States or whether they are carrying contraband.

The actions come as civil liberties groups press for a swifter response by the new Democratic president and Congress to long-standing complaints that security measures adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have subjected innocent travelers to unwarranted delays and scrutiny. (More)

SEE ALSO:

ACLU CALLS ON SECRETARY NAPOLITANO TO RELEASE YOUSSEF MEGAHED – TOP
USF Student’s Arrest Vindictive, Says ACLU

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 20, 2009

CONTACT: Brandon Hensler, Director of Communications, (786) 363-2737 or media@aclufl.org

TAMPA, Fla. — The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida today sent a letter to Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), urging the release of Youssef Megahed, a University of South Florida student who was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials on April 6, in what the ACLU is calling a vindictive arrest.

Megahed’s arrest came just three days after he was acquitted by a federal jury of criminal charges relating to possession and transportation of explosive materials. The new arrest, which DHS and ICE have indicated are based on the same charges as in the criminal trial, undermines the jury system and illustrates the lack of due process for those caught in the web of the immigration courts.

“This arrest and the impending deportation charges highlight the flaws in our system,” said Rebecca Harrison Steele, ACLU of Florida West Central Regional Office Director. “A federal jury acquitted Mr. Megahed of all criminal charges. Now the government’s trying to get another bite at the apple in immigration court, where due process takes a lower priority. This latest arrest seems so vindictive. We are urging the federal government to release Mr. Megahed during the proceedings in immigration court and, if the charges in immigration court are indeed based on the very same facts as the criminal charges for which he has been acquitted, to dismiss the removal proceedings.”

Perhaps most telling was the release of statements by several of Megahed’s jurors, who also view ICE’s arrest as vindictive: “It strikes us as fundamentally wrong that the Government has put Mr. Megahed back in jail for suspicion of the same activities that he was acquitted of in the criminal case.” The jurors also stated: “More troublesome is the Government’s seeming blatant disregard of the will of its own people.”

The full text of the letter sent today is below, or can be downloaded in PDF.

—–

U.S. MUSLIM COALITION REAFFIRMS OPPOSITION TO FBI TACTICS – TOP

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/19/09) – Following a meeting in Washington, D.C., the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), a national coalition of major Islamic organizations, issued a statement re-affirming opposition to FBI tactics and government policies targeting the Muslim community.

SEE: U.S. Muslim Coalition Considers Suspending Relations with FBI

Representatives from the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), Muslim American Society-Freedom Foundation (MAS-FF), Muslim Student Association-National (MSA-N), Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) took part in Saturday’s meeting. Other member and observer organizations were briefed by phone.

In a joint statement issued after the meeting, all AMT members and observer groups agreed that:

“We reaffirm our commitment to being full partners in the defense, development and prosperity of our homeland, the United States.

“We also reiterate our determination to continue to work for greater unity and mutual cooperation among ourselves and with like-minded fellow Americans. We recognize that we may have different approaches to the varied challenges facing our community and country, yet our resolve to advocate on behalf of our community remains solid.

“We are fully united in asking the Obama administration to address the following issues: 1. Infiltration of mosques and systematic manipulation of Muslim religious affairs, 2. Use of agents provocateurs to trap unsuspecting Muslim youth, 3. Unfair targeting and deliberate vilification of CAIR, a national Muslim civil rights organization, 4. Use of McCarthy-era tactics, most notably dissemination of Islamophobic analysis by federally-funded ‘fusion centers’ to local law enforcement agencies.”

CONTACT: AMT Chair Dr. Agha Saeed, Tel: 510-299-9313, E-Mail: aghaksaeed@yahoo.com

SEE ALSO:

CAIR-LA: SOME INFLUENTIAL MUSLIM GROUPS QUESTION FBI’S ACTIONS – TOP
Revelations that the agency has been surveilling popular leaders and infiltrating mosques and schools has many organizations turning away from their post-9/11 cooperation.
Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times, 4/20/09

As they sipped tea and nibbled on dates, more than 100 men and women listened to a litany of speakers sounding the same message: The FBI is not your friend.

“We’re here today to say our mosques are off limits,” Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations for Greater Los Angeles, told the crowd last month at an Anaheim mosque.

“Our Koran is off limits,” Ayloush said. “Our youth, who they try to radicalize, are off limits. Now is the time to tell them, ‘We’re not going to let this happen anymore.’ “

Such strong words from a man who once was a vocal advocate of ties with federal law enforcement was yet one more signal that the fragile relationship between Muslim American groups and the FBI is being tested.

In the months and years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, FBI officials met privately with Muslim leaders, assuring them that a spate of hate crimes would be vigorously investigated and at the same time asking for help in the campaign against terrorism. Local leaders promised to encourage cooperation.

But even as relations warmed, a series of revelations — including allegations that the FBI sent an informant into a mosque in Orange County, surveilled community leaders and sent an agent to UC Irvine — caused some to begin questioning the FBI’s real intentions. (More)

CAIR-MI: MUSLIMS DESCRIBE FBI OFFERS TO ACT AS INFORMANTS – TOP
Several claim they have been asked to act as informants; agency denies targeting mosques
Gregg Krupa, Detroit News, 4/20/09

The FBI has come under fire from Muslim leaders in Metro Detroit who say the agency is threatening or coercing local residents into informing on people in their communities and mosques.

The prospective informants, their lawyers and community leaders said the federal agents identify themselves and tell them their immigration status could be blocked or revoked if they turn down FBI requests to report on activities of people who attend mosques.

“Cooperation will not be gained through the twisting of arms,” said Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. “We have worked extensively with the FBI and others in the past, and certainly we would provide any information of a national security concern. But the issue now is this: Will they treat us as partners, or suspects, or both? We want to know.”

Several Muslims agreed to talk to The Detroit News about their experiences, amid recent revelations about FBI activities. Those who say they were contacted to become informants express alarm at what they call intrusion in places of worship and private lives without reasonable cause. They say the federal initiative is bruising feelings and making Muslims fearful of cooperating with federal officials…

As he waited on tables in a Middle Eastern restaurant in Dearborn, a recent immigrant with a pending citizenship application told his story. “First, they asked me about my status in the country, why I am here, and what work I do,” said the man, who asked for anonymity because he doesn’t want to jeopardize his citizenship efforts.

“They said, ‘We want you to work with us, and we’ll help you with your (immigration) status.’

” … But I feel I cannot be spying on my mosque or my neighbors. That is not right. That is not American,” he said. “But a threat to my country, to the United States? My goodness, me and my family would run to them to alert them.

“… Now, my citizenship seems like it is permanently on hold, on hold, forever,” he said. “I constantly worry, and I feel I have no life since they approached me.” (More)

ACLU DEMANDING THAT FEDS TURN OVER OC MOSQUE SPYING RECORDS – TOP
Daffodil J. Altan, OC Weekly, 4/20/09

The case that erupted with ex-con man Craig Monteilh’s confession that he’s been spying on OC mosques for the FBI will hit local federal courts this afternoon, when the ACLU makes arguments asking for the release of all the information attached to the FBI’s infiltration of various local mosques. ACLU missive below:

SANTA ANA, Calif. – In the wake of news that an FBI informant infiltrated several Orange County mosques, the ACLU of Southern California will demand in federal district court Monday that the bureau release full information about its surveillance of the lawful activities of Muslims in Southern California. For nearly three years, the bureau has refused to release this information.

ACLU attorneys will talk to reporters after the hearing in front of the Santa Ana federal courthouse at approximately 2:30 p.m. See our coverage of the alleged spying here.

—–

CAIR-NY, JAPANESE-AMERICANS DISCUSS CIVIL RIGHTS ABUSES IN TIMES OF WAR – TOP

(NEW YORK, NY, 4/20/09) – Representatives of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) and Japanese American Citizen League (JACL) recently took part in a workshop, entitled “9066 to 911: What Happens When You Start Looking Like the Enemy,” as part of a conference themed “Act: Empower Our Generation” at New York University (NYU).

(In World War II, Executive Order 9066 authorized the Secretary of War and U.S. armed forces commanders to declare areas of the United States as military areas “from which any or all persons may be excluded” through relocation. The order led to the internment of some 120,000 Japanese-Americans who were held in internment camps for the duration of the war.)

Some 600 people attended the all-day conference hosted by New York City Asian American Student Conference (NYCAASC) a committee of Asian American students from NYU, Columbia University, Fordham University, Hunter College, and Brooklyn College.

“From Manzanar to Gitmo, civil liberties of minorities have been dismissed as collateral damage under the false guise of national security,” said CAIR-NY Civil Rights Director Aliya Latif. “Our united call must be to uphold the rule of law at times of war through coalition building, community engagement and government accountability.”

Latif said that the Islamic civil rights group’s California chapter recently took an educational trip with a group of Muslims to attend the 40th Annual Pilgrimage at Manzanar one of 10 internment camps that held more than 10,000 innocent Japanese-American men, women, and children during World War II.

SEE: CAIR-LA Manzanar Pilgrimage Documentary

CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 35 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR-NY Civil Rights Director Aliya Latif, 212-870-2002, 732-429-4268, alatif@cair.com; CAIR-NY Community Affairs Director Faiza N. Ali, 212-870-2002, 718-724-3041, fali@cair.com

—–

WHY MUSLIMS LEFT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY – TOP
Kamran Pasha, Watan, 4/17/09

Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann recently gave a radio interview in San Francisco where she questioned the patriotism of her colleague Rep. Keith Ellison, the first American Muslim elected to Congress. As a Muslim and a former Republican, I would like to respond.

Bachmann’s comments, where she derided Ellison for seeking to bring Muslims into the Obama Administration, reveal why Muslims like me left the Republican Party in droves over the past few years.

The fact that American Muslims historically identified and voted Republican will likely shock many people. But it shouldn’t, if we remember what the Republican Party used to represent. Growing up as an immigrant from Pakistan in Brooklyn, every Muslim I knew embraced the Republican brand of economic growth and family values. We were entrepreneurs who left our countries to find a better life in America, and loved the Republican promise of free enterprise and social mobility. As people of faith, we embraced the Republicans’ traditional values and social conservatism. And we saw Republicans like President George H.W. Bush and his Secretary of State James Baker as statesmen who were sympathetic to Palestinian suffering and willing to work hard to bring peace between Arabs and Israelis.

And then something started to change within the party. An ugly cancer of anti-Muslim bigotry began to reveal itself during the first Iraq War. I was an undergraduate at Dartmouth College, where the student body was perhaps the most conservative of the Ivy League schools. At meetings of the College Republicans, I began to hear distressing venom against Muslims. American Muslims were being openly talked of as a fifth column in the country, and my fellow students applauded rumors that internment camps were being set up in the Midwest for Muslim subversives. I was shocked to see my friends suddenly speak of my faith as the enemy. Our fight against Saddam had finally revealed the deeply held hatred for Islam among my fellow conservatives. (More)

—–

STILL NO ANSWERS IN WEST KENDALL MOSQUE SHOOTING – TOP
Mosque members met with police and FBI officials Tuesday after a shooting left the Masjid of Noor building with bullet holes back in early January. The case is still ongoing with no leads or suspects.
Paradise Afshar, Miami Herald, 4/19/09

There are still no leads or a suspect in an early January shooting at Masjid of Noor that left the mosque with 51 bullets on the building’s north side.

Officials from the Miami-Dade Police Department, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, spoke to the Miami-Dade Asian American Advisory Board and mosque members on Tuesday about the ongoing investigation.

At the meeting, held at the Islamic School of Miami, police said they have been working diligently, but so far no leads have developed.

“As of now, it is still an open investigation,” Sgt. Thomas Martinez said. “We were able to quantify some evidence on the scene. We haven’t received any leads from the community.”

This was not the first time the mosque was the target of an attack; there have been four prior incidents where swastikas have been drawn on the walls of the center, or rocks thrown. (More)

—–

SOURCES: WIRETAP RECORDED REP. HARMAN PROMISING TO INTERVENE FOR AIPAC – TOP
Jeff Stein, Congressional Quarterly, 4/19/09

Rep. Jane Harman, the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.

Harman was recorded saying she would “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference,” according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.

(Join Jeff Stein for a live online chat at 3 p.m. today about his story, or submit a question for Jeff.)

In exchange for Harman’s help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win.

Seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, “This conversation doesn’t exist.” (More)

US federal agents harass Muslim, Arab travelers at borderUS federal agents harass Muslim, Arab travelers at borders

International News | US greets returning Muslims with interrogation

US federal agents harass Muslim, Arab travelers at borders
US greets returning Muslims with interrogation

Invasive interrogation

FBI/Muslim saga

Impact of NSEERS

Call to end racial profiling
Report reveals extent of U.S. border interrogations of American Muslims (Courtesy of Muslim Advocates)
Report reveals extent of U.S. border interrogations of American Muslims (Courtesy of Muslim Advocates)

CAIRO (Marwa Awad)

A Muslim legal advocacy group in the United States accused federal agents at borders and airports of routinely selecting Muslim-American travelers and those with ethnic backgrounds perceived as Muslim for searches and interrogations on the basis of race, religion and national origin without any “evidence or even suspicious wrongdoing.”

Muslim Advocates, a non-profit group of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers, said in a report released earlier this month that the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection agents committed “profound privacy intrusions” without cause against law-abiding Muslim, Arab and South Asian Americans returning home from overseas travel.

” These incidents from across the country suggest that the First and Fourth Amendment rights of innocent Americans are being violated “
Farhana Khera, Muslim Advocates president

The report “Unreasonable Intrusions: Investigating the Politics, Faith and Finances of Americans Returning Home,” charged that federal agents routinely questioned such individuals about their religious values, political views and civic associations as well as extensively searching their laptops, cell phones, digital cameras and photocopying private documents.

These extensive interrogations are done “without evidence or even suspicion that the travelers have engaged in wrongdoing,” stated the report, warning that such racial profiling does little to strengthen national security, generating false leads and wasting scarce government resources.

Racial profiling of Muslim Americans since Sept. 11 has tested the limits of democracy in America and the government’s ability to balance national security concerns with individual rights of its citizens.

“These incidents from across the country suggest that the First and Fourth Amendment rights of innocent Americans are being violated,” Farhana Khera president and executive director of Muslim Advocates said in a statement.
Top

Invasive interrogation
US Muslims are routinely interrogated, some harassed, at US borders

The increase of invasive interrogations has many Americans concerned about their freedom of movement.

“Delays and routine profiling have been a staple part of my travels,” 34-year-old Hussain Adley, a U.S. Muslim business consultant of Egyptian-Jordanian origin, told AlArabiya.net.

“I travel frequently and mostly for work and this makes the feds meticulous about searching my belongings,” he explained.

Adley said agents at the airport have downloaded documents from his laptop and questioned him about the addresses and livelihoods of people in photos on his camera and his relation to them, in addition to asking the routine questions on his religious and political beliefs.

David Evans, 26, a U.S. citizen and a Muslim convert, has experienced intrusive searches during his frequent travels between the U.S. and Egypt where he works as a translator.

” Those who travel frequently back and forth between the same set of destinations are grilled more vigorously “
David Evans, US Muslim living abroad

On his latest visit to the U.S., all his documents were photocopied at the airport including his personal diary and list of contacts. He was detained and questioned at length about why he resides in Egypt and what his religious views are.

Evans explained that travel patterns are used as a pretext for racial and religious profiling. “Those who travel frequently back and forth between the same destinations are grilled more vigorously,” he said.

The Muslim Advocates report listed numerous cases of U.S. citizens who have been interrogated – some even harassed – by federal agents who came from various educational and vocational backgrounds and different age groups, with the only common denominator their religion and travels to Muslim countries.

One such case was Fairuz Abdullah, a lawyer and civic leader who was wrongly forced into immigration processing and denied access of counsel despite her American citizenship.

In 2007 federal agents at the Miami International Airport “aggressively interrogated” Abdullah about her previous travels and private life after she returned from Peru. Agents continually harassed her, according to the report, threatening to confiscate her cell phone when she tried to call her lawyer and addressing her only in Spanish although she is a native English speaker.
Top

FBI/Muslim saga
” Constructive relations with any law enforcement agency must be based on mutual respect and trust. We hope that the FBI addresses these crucial issues so that trust can be restored and relations maintained “
Asma Hanif, CCMO

Years of strained relations between the FBI and Muslim Americans lately culminated in Muslim groups threatening to cease their post-Sept. 11, 2001 cooperation with the FBI after a series of revelations that the agency infiltrated mosques and coerced the faithful into becoming informants shored up the limits of Muslim Americans’ civil rights.

“Constructive relations with any law enforcement agency must be based on mutual respect and trust,” Asma Hanif Chair of the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations said in a statement. “We hope that the FBI addresses these crucial issues so that trust can be restored and relations maintained.”
Top

Impact of NSEERS
Muslim Advocates calls on the Obama administration to change FBI guidelines on border crossing

Besides targeting home comers, the government has also implemented the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), a counterterrorism tool that tracks non-immigrants on temporary visas.

The program requires racially profiled non-immigrants to register themselves at ports of entry for finger-prints, photographs and lengthy interrogations.

According to a report issued in March, 80,000 males, mostly Muslim and Arab, were selected, 13,799 of whom were referred to further investigations and 2,870 detained. Charges against them were mainly immigration violations such as overstaying a visa.

The impact of NSEERS has been damaging for many individuals who did not have terrorism charges or criminal histories, said the report.
Top

Call to end racial profiling

Muslim Advocates called on the Obama administration to ban FBI guidelines issued in the Bush era which use racial and ethnic criteria as basis for investigations and to protect citizens who travel abroad and ensure that they are not subjected to unreasonable and coercive interrogations and searches without cause.

In order to “restore constitutional protections eroded by the status quo border security apparatus,” the group advised President Obama to start a Homeland Security review and reform CBP policies and practices that target Muslims, Arabs and South Asian Americans and to forward the review to congressional committees.
عودة للأعلى

Church seeks to convert Obama grandma

First Published 2009-04-20


‘Born a Muslim and wishes to die a Muslim’

 
Church seeks to convert Obama grandma

 
Relatives of ‘Mama Sarah’ say she was surprised by Church baptism offer, declined to attend.

 
NAIROBI – A Protestant church in Kenya is trying to convert US President Barack Obama’s step-grandmother to Christianity against her will, a Muslim group said Monday, condemning the move as provocation.

The Seventh Day Adventist church in the western town of Kisumu had invited 87-year-old Sarah Obama — a Muslim — to a function on Saturday, where she was allegedly to be baptised.

According to relatives in her village of Kogelo, “Mama Sarah”, as she is popularly known in the US president’s paternal homeland, was surprised by the offer and declined to attend.

“I regret the attempt by the Christian religion to force her to convert,” said Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa, the organising secretary of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya.

“Why only her? Why not before Obama became president? Didn’t they see her before he became president?” he said.

Said Obama, a step-brother to the US president, said the church pastors had approached Sarah Obama with news that she could become a Christian.

“Mama (Sarah) was born a Muslim and wishes to die a Muslim. The issue of conversion is neither here not there,” he said.

Khalifa denounced the move as a “provocation.”

“They don’t have permission from Jesus to convert someone. I challenge them to quote a verse from the Bible allowing them to convert someone,” he said.

Sarah became a national celebrity when her grandson visited the country in 2006 and her modest homestead has become a tourist attraction since the former Illinois senator’s November 2008 election triumph.

The Kenyan government last month declared Kogelo a protected national heritage site.

U.S. military recruiting minors?

alJazeera Magazine – U.S. military recruiting minors?

AMY GOODMAN: Two Northern California towns are finding themselves in a showdown with the Pentagon over a ban on recruiting minors for the military. Last November, residents of Eureka and Arcata passed a ballot initiative known as the Youth Protection Act. The measure bars the U.S. government from trying to enlist youths under the age of eighteen in any branch of the U.S. armed forces.

But just days after the laws went into effect, the Justice Department filed a suit seeking to overturn them. The Justice Department’s civil action says the initiatives are invalid because they conflict with federal law. Both towns are refusing to cave. They’ve hired lawyers, filed counter-claims challenging the federal government’s action.

I’m joined now by two guests involved with this local grassroots effort. David Meserve is a member of the Stop Recruiting Kids coalition, which spearheaded the successful ballot measure banning military recruitment of minors in Arcata and Eureka, former member of Arcata’s city council. Sharon Adams is also with us. She’s a San Francisco-based attorney with the Stop Recruiting Kids coalition, board member at large of the National Lawyers Guild Bay Area Chapter.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now!

DAVID MESERVE: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: When did you pass this, David?

DAVID MESERVE: We passed it last November as a ballot initiative.

AMY GOODMAN: And explain exactly what it says.

DAVID MESERVE: Well, what it actually says is that no person who is employed by or an agent of the United States government shall, within the city limits of Arcata, recruit, initiate contact with for the purpose of recruiting, or promote the future enlistment of anyone under the age of eighteen.

AMY GOODMAN: How much was this being done before? And how much is it continuing?

DAVID MESERVE: Well, it happens nationwide, that the recruiters target kids at increasingly younger ages, but certainly down to fourteen, fifteen and sixteen, not to actually enlist, but to encourage them to think about enlisting in the future and to portray the military life as something that would be a good choice for them.

AMY GOODMAN: What was the vote in Eureka and Arcata?

DAVID MESERVE: Well, in Arcata, it passed by 73 percent margin, and in Eureka, by 57 percent. And we were actually—we had kind of thought that it was going to pass in Arcata. Arcata is known as a fairly liberal town, has done things like this in the past. The really exciting thing was it passing in Eureka, which is much more of a kind of working-class town, logging, fishing, etc. And we felt that we had really succeeded in Eureka, because we intended this as a nonpartisan measure, as something that did not require being anti-military to pass it. All we were really saying is that it’s inappropriate to recruit kids into the military. And apparently that message rang true for the people of Eureka.

AMY GOODMAN: OK, so it hasn’t been implemented yet. The Justice Department is not pleased. Explain what they’re doing.

DAVID MESERVE: Well, the Justice Department immediately sued to invalidate the measure—

AMY GOODMAN: This was under President Bush?

DAVID MESERVE: This was under President Bush. There were those who encouraged us to delay things until President Obama was in office, but we don’t really think that there would have been much difference, and they certainly haven’t dropped the lawsuit since he’s been in office.

So, they are trying to invalidate the measure under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, and we are fighting back legally and saying that the government really needs to remember that the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution also includes the Bill of Rights and also includes treaties signed by the U.S. government.

AMY GOODMAN: We tried to have a representative from the Justice Department on the show today, but they did not get back to us. Sharon Adams, explain the significance of these two referendum that have been passed by these towns and the Justice Department taking them on.

SHARON ADAMS: Well, the Justice Department is saying that they violate the Supremacy Clause, as David said. And—

AMY GOODMAN: And explain exactly what that is.

SHARON ADAMS: The Supremacy Clause is an article in the Constitution that says that the laws of the United States are the supreme law of the land, but it also includes in there the treaties that the United States has signed. So, one of our arguments is that there’s a protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. That’s a treaty that the United States has signed. And in that treaty, it specifically discusses recruiting. And it specifically says, as far as the United States is concerned, that the United States will not recruit under the age of seventeen. And what we see over and over is that they are actually recruiting under the age of seventeen. So what we are saying is that there is no violation of the Supremacy Clause. What we’re saying is that the Supremacy Clause—the laws of the United States and this protocol are actually in—they’re in accord. And what’s happening is that the way that the recruiting is actually happening is not in accord with the existing laws in the United States and with the treaties.

AMY GOODMAN: So, what are you going to do now, David Meserve? You used to serve on the city council, but these laws are now not in effect.

DAVID MESERVE: Well, we’re moving ahead to defend them, and we’re also hoping that other cities want to follow suit. We’re encouraging other cities to think about ballot initiatives like this in the future, because it is a way for people to speak out from a grassroots level. And we’re also asking that they hold back a little bit and take a look at how the case turns out and whether there are any changes that would be advised for cities who will be doing this in the future, because we think it’s really important for cities and communities to be able to speak out and say that we believe that it’s wrong to recruit kids, and we believe that we have the power of the law on our side, as well as just the power of the right of what should be.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about the federal government saying it trumps what you want in your local town?

DAVID MESERVE: Well, we don’t think that the federal government does trump it, both because of the optional protocol and also because of the Ninth Amendment. And under the Ninth Amendment, there is the right to privacy, and we believe that intrinsic in that is the right to protect children from being approached by recruiters.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you, Sharon Adams, about a different issue, maybe somewhat related. I was speaking at the Federal Reserve here at lunchtime in San Francisco yesterday, and a woman came up to me from the National Lawyers Guild, and she talked about the attempted impeachment of a judge here, Jay Bybee, talking about the torture memos. Can you talk about the efforts around these torture memos and what you’re doing?

SHARON ADAMS: Well, the National Lawyers Guild has filed in California a complaint with the State Bar of California against William Haynes. William Haynes was the attorney for Donald Rumsfeld and the Department of Defense, and William Haynes wrote a memo that basically recommended that Donald Rumsfeld approve certain enhanced interrogation techniques. And based on this recommendation by William Haynes, Donald Rumsfeld did do that. It was directly linked—it has been directly linked to the torture abuses that occurred at Abu Ghraib.

So, what we did with the Guild was we filed a complaint with the State Bar against William Haynes, who is registered in-house counsel here in California, because he’s now working at Chevron Corporation in San Ramon. And we are seeking to have him disciplined for his actions in writing those—in making that recommendation that led to approval of basically torture techniques.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you have Jay Bybee, this impeachment effort?

SHARON ADAMS: Right. The impeachment effort is being done by a slightly different group, but they are trying to go through the Democratic Party and get an actual resolution trying to get Jay Bybee impeached, because the only way to get him removed from the bench right now is through Congress, through an impeachment action. So they’re trying to do a grassroots movement to begin that.

AMY GOODMAN: And John Yoo, who’s a professor here at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, California, though he’s teaching at Chapman Law School down in—

SHARON ADAMS: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: —near Los Angeles.?

SHARON ADAMS: He is not registered in California as an attorney. He teaches here, but he’s not a registered attorney here. His registration is in Pennsylvania. So the Guild is also trying to—is working on a complaint against him in Pennsylvania, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: And how does this relate to the latest news we have out of Spain? Scott Horton is reporting that the proceedings will move against a number of these men.

SHARON ADAMS: I think it’s just the tide is turning. I really do. I’m just—every time I hear some new little bit of news, I feel that maybe the world is waking up from slumber.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much for being with us, Sharon Adams and David Meserve, coming down from Northern California from Arcata and Eureka, of Stop Recruiting Kids coalition.
Source: Middle East Online

Muslims are listening, Mr. Obama!

Muslims are listening, Mr. Obama!

Muslims are listening, Mr. Obama!
Aijaz Zaka Syed | Arab News

A perceptive colleague is tired of my endless adulation for Barack Obama. Every time I talk about him, she rolls her eyes to point out all that America’s new president has done is talk, talk and talk. There are no actions to back up his rhetoric. She accuses me of “betraying the cause” when she sees my repugnance of Bush give way to hopeless admiration for his successor.

And I ask her to pit Obama against W. and see the difference. Imagine the alternate scenario if the Americans had NOT voted for Obama. We would be stuck with John McCain today, the 72-year old warhorse who talked of staying in Iraq and Afghanistan forever and promise to “bomb-bomb” Iran.

Obama may not have produced any pigeons out of his hat yet. But look at what he has already set out to do. It gives you real hope about the “change we can.” Next week, he will be completing three months in office. These have been perhaps the most eventful twelve weeks of any leader in the US history with implications that go far beyond America’s borders.

During his long campaign for the most powerful office on the planet, the young African-American candidate would tell the Americans that if elected he would “hit the ground running” to put the country back on the track. Once elected, Obama wasted little time celebrating and savoring his historic victory. In any case, the wreckage left behind by his predecessor gave him little time or opportunity to celebrate.

True to his words, our hero has been busy from the word get-go, in his efforts to reinvent the ideals and values that once inspired the land of the free. Nobody ever thought bridging the gulf that the neocons spent eight long years digging up would be easy. But Obama is at least trying.

While the ever-deepening economic crisis keeps him busy at home, the new president has in the first three months in office taken steps that have forced the world to sit up and look at his nation with fresh eyes and new respect. It’s perhaps the most ambitious agenda any president has set himself.

And unlike his equally ambitious predecessors such as FD Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, Obama hasn’t mobilized the awesome military and economic power at America’s disposal to achieve those goals.

As someone who virtually talked and charmed his way to power against impossible odds, he certainly knows how to make use of America’s soft power and his own incredible charisma to push his agenda. While this president has demonstrated exceptional political maturity and farsighted pragmatism on all fronts, future historians might remember him for his role in reconfiguring the US relations with the Muslim world.

As promised in his inaugural address, this son of a Kenyan Muslim has steadfastly sought a “new way forward with the Muslim world based on mutual respect.”

The first executive order he issued was to get the Guantanamo Bay shut, a legacy of the Bush years that has been a source of anger and frustration in the Muslim world for many years. This was not just about closing an infamous prison but shutting the door on an era that has brought nothing but shame and disgrace to America.

And the first interview the new US leader decided to grant was to the Dubai-based Arabic television network Al Arabiya — a clear case of medium being as important as the message — honing his mantra of peace and reconciliation with the Arab and Muslim world.

The appointment of special envoys to the Middle East and Afghanistan-Pakistan is perhaps the second most important decision the new president made. George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke were dispatched to tackle the two long-festering conflicts in the Muslim world even before Obama completed his first week in office.

Around the same time, he reached out to Iran offering it America’s “unclenched fist” in friendship after three decades of endless hostilities and perpetual fear mongering on both sides.

After initial shock and awe followed by confusion, Iranians seem to have concluded that Obama indeed means what he says. Regular, normal relations with the West after decades of isolation may not be so bad after all.

Ahmadinejad now agrees there are some “new and positive things” in the message from Washington, although Tehran is far from likely to scrap its nuclear program solely because of Obama’s noble intentions.

And now the US says enrichment or no enrichment, it is willing to hold direct talks with Iran, dropping a key demand that Tehran freeze nuclear enrichment before the two sides could come to the negotiating table.

More important, Obama says Iran has a right to pursue nuclear energy — if it’s peaceful. And President Ahmadinejad, who comes up with “good news for Iranian people” from time to time, would tell you it is indeed a “peaceful” nuclear program. Anyway, that’s another debate altogether.

What matter is these are extraordinary times and we are witnessing extraordinary changes. Changes that would be totally unthinkable even weeks ago. It’s amazing how much Bush’s America has changed under his successor. And how fast! This is why when Obama stood in Turkey’s Parliament to reassure the Muslim world that America “is not and never will be at war with Islam,” Muslims around the world were not only willing to listen to him but were prepared to take his word for it.

Of course, we are yet to see any significant changes on the ground. But we’ll get there, if America persists on the path chosen by its 44th president.

Obama’s real work lies ahead. The road ahead will be rough and treacherous, with pitfalls everywhere. The Middle East will be his real litmus test, just as it had been for many before him. It’s a tragedy that finally when we have a willing leader in the White House, the Israelis had to pick up Netanyahu and his even more batty deputy Lieberman. In any case, Israel’s fundamental policies seldom change, no matter who calls the shots in Tel Aviv.

If Obama is the honest and courageous leader that I believe he is, he just might pull it off, succeeding where all his predecessors failed. God knows enough innocent blood has been shed in the Holy Land. About time somebody told Israel enough is enough. The party is over. It’s time to behave and give up what doesn’t belong to you.

— Aijaz Zaka Syed is a Dubai-based commentator and can be reached at aijaz.syed@hotmail.com

ZOMG! Islam is so-oo-oo violent!

My Private Casbah

Monday, April 13, 2009
ZOMG! Islam is so-oo-oo violent!
You know, this stuff really gets old. I can’t tell you how sick to death I am of people talking about how horrible Islam is towards women and girls. It’s not that I don’t think that people who are Muslim can be abusive towards women–of course they can. What I tire of is those who don’t really care about the abuse of women; they just want to use this as a means of proving how superior their religion is. Today, while reading the articles about Nour Hadid, I kept finding more of these sort of comments.

It has always amazed me how people who obviously have never read the entire Bible (or the Qu’ran) will actually have the audacity to try to claim what is and isn’t in it. For those who think that a few verses from the Qu’ran can define an entire religion, feel free to chew on these and tell me what they say about Christianity:

“Slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children, and women…” (Ezekiel 9:6)

“Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” (Psalms 137: 9)

“Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him. And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly. Behold, there is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you; but unto this man do not so vile a thing. But the men would not hearken to him; so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them, and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning, and when the day began to spring, they let her go….and her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way, and behold the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold….and when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.” (Judges 19:22,29)

It should be noted that there are thousands of Christian religious leaders who adamantly proclaim that everything in the Bible is true and accurate and that following it is the only way to please God.
Posted by bint alshamsa at 5:28 PM
Labels: Ally-Work, Bigotry, Culture, Religion
3 comments:

GallingGalla said…

how about this:

transcript of this 15-second video: a teenage boy approaches the viewer, raises up and points a (presumably loaded) gun at the viewer’s face, cocks the gun and makes ready to pull the trigger. Towards the end, an adult male voices over: “if you don’t matter to god, you don’t matter to anyone”. The video closes with a frame showing the text: “1:1 answersingenesis.org – believing it. defending it. proclaiming it.”

right, sure, it’s only Muslims who are violent.
8:32 PM
Zan said…

ARG! GG, that’s EXACTLY the sort of attitude that lead to all my fucked up emotional trauma and baggage! This post was created from that kind of attitude. Yes, if GOD doesn’t want you, no one does! ARG!!!!!!
8:29 AM
BLESSD1 said…

Bint…this was a REALLY POWERFUL post, and with your permission, I will be using some of it’s finer points in future debates.
2:00 PM

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bint alshamsa
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Above all else, I am proof that having an incurable cancer doesn’t mean that your life is over. I am also the mother of a gifted child who has been an artist since she was born. We live in the southern part of the beautiful state of Louisiana. I’m a biology student on hiatus as I heal from treatment. Besides English, I can speak Arabic, a bit of French and Spanish and nothing more than a few phrases in German but I’m working on it. I love cats and plants even though I only have 2 of each. Some of my friends call me Tulip. You’re free to do the same.

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Islam exposed to receptive audience

Islam exposed to receptive audience

Some came from Bay Area to hear speaker’s informative discussion

| Friday, Apr 10 2009 09:42 PM
Islam_Exposed1.JPG Henry A. Barrios / The Californian Zenn Monzon, left, asks a question about Islam to Sheikh Yusuf Estes, right, who was a former Christian music minister before converting to Islam. Estes was the guest speaker of the annual Islam Exposed Conference put on by the Islamic Shoura Council of Bakersfield. Monzon says he has studied many religions and is a Christian.

What’s the difference between read and recite? What’s the true meaning of jihad? Do Muslim women really have to wear the hijab (headscarf)?
At the “Islam Exposed” conference last Saturday, Sheik Yusuf Estes spoke to a packed crowd at the Beale Memorial Library auditorium in an effort to answer some of these questions. He broke his talk down into simple lingo using scenarios based on the contexts and times in which the Prophet Muhammad lived.
For example, despite the ill-informed belief that the Prophet looted and stole from caravans, he was nicknamed “al-Sadiq,” which means “the trustworthy one” in Arabic. Furthermore, his honesty and sincerity in his transactions as a merchant led to a marriage proposal from his boss, Khadija.
The invitation of Estes to Bakersfield was part of an effort to allow for more dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims. Estes, a former Christian missionary, entered Islam through dialogue. A Texas native, he now lives in Virginia and travels throughout the country giving talks about Islam.
The afternoon conference began with an introduction and ended with a question and answer session. Sometimes, the sheik would refer people to one of several Web sites for further information.
Visitors were able to sign in as guests, pick up copies of the Quran and talk to volunteers from the Muslim community.
Sophia Bham, a volunteer at the information booth, said the turnout was, without a doubt, a success. “People were more interested and happy with the hospitality. They want to study more,” said Bham.
Some people even came to the event from out of town. A group of young Muslims — three women and one man — carpooled together from the Bay Area. They heard about the event on a sisters’ (what members of the Muslim community call fellow female members) event board on the internet.
One of them, Kim Tran, was happy to see some misconceptions cleared up. As a convert herself, she was yearning for an engaging talk about Islam. “The Bay Area is full of Muslims, but an event like this is worth driving hours for,” she said.
Still others were locals looking for answers about life in general. As Nathan Ellis, a student at San Joaquin Valley College, walked out of the conference room, he asked members of the Muslim community for their contact information so he could continue the discussion about Islam. “I think I just need to read more,” he said.
Betty Farmer, whose husband is a deacon with the Seventh-day Adventist church, remained long after the event as her husband conversed with Estes. “We have the same god, so we welcome discussion about beliefs,” said Farmer.
The event was organized by the Islamic Shoura Council of Bakersfield. Sheik Yusuf Estes remained in Bakersfield to give talks at the local Islamic centers over the weekend. Then, he was scheduled to visit the Fresno area. For further information about the Shoura Council or future events, please visit http://www.iscob.org.
Eman M. Shurbaji is a recent graduate of Cal State Bakersfield, where she studied communications. She is a member of the local Muslim Women’s Association.

Hadith: Put Love in the Hearts of People

Gmail – Muslims Fear FBI is Spying in Mosques / CAIR Seeks Release of Fla. Muslim Detained After Acquittal – mohamediqbalp@gmail.com

April 6, 2009 Forward to a Friend Support CAIR Contact Us Update Your Profile

* Hadith: Put Love in the Hearts of People
* Breaking: CAIR to Seek Release of FL Muslim Detained After Acquittal
* Muslims Fear FBI is Spying in Mosques (Buffalo News)
o CAIR: U.S. Muslims Debate How Much to Help FBI (SF Chron)
o Why U.S. Muslims Are Considering Suspending FBI Outreach Ties
* CAIR-OK: Bill Would Set Back the Clock on Civil Rights Progress
* Most Back Outreach to Muslim Nations, but Suspicion Persists (ABC News)
o Most in Poll Back Outreach to Muslims (Wash Post)
* TN Mosque Seeks ‘Buffer Zones’ from Restaurant Serving Alcohol

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HADITH OF THE DAY: PUT LOVE IN THE HEARTS OF PEOPLE – TOP

When the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) entered a new town, he would say: “O God. . .put our love in the hearts of its people and put the love of its righteous people in our hearts.”

Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 4, Number 147

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BREAKING NEWS: CAIR TO SEEK RELEASE OF FL MUSLIM DETAINED AFTER ACQUITTAL – TOP

(TAMPA, FL, 4/6/09) – On Tuesday, April 7, the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Tampa) will hold a news conference to call for the release of former USF student Youssef Megahed who was acquitted Friday of charges in federal court but was detained today by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Members of Megahed’s family will attend the news conference.

WHAT: Press Conference Calling for Release of Youssef Megahed
WHEN: Tuesday, April 7, 11 a.m. EST
WHERE: CAIR-Tampa Office, 8056 North 56th Street, Tampa, FL

SEE: Youssef Megahed Detained By Immigration Officials

CONTACT: CAIR-Tampa Executive Director Ramzy Kilic, Tel: 813-514-1414 or 813-486-2529, Email: rkilic@cair.com

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MUSLIMS FEAR FBI IS SPYING IN MOSQUES – TOP
Queries about moles bring no answers
Dan Herbeck, Buffalo News, 4/6/09

A coalition of Muslim-American groups claims the FBI has been planting counterterrorism spies in mosques in some U. S. cities.

Last month, 10 Muslim-American organizations threatened to stop working with the FBI on outreach efforts in the Muslim-American community.

Dr. Khalid J. Qazi, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York, said he is concerned about the situation and hopes the FBI provides some answers soon.

“[Muslims] are asking questions, wondering if there are moles spying on mosques throughout the country,” Qazi told The Buffalo News. “People ask me about it, and I have to tell them the honest truth – that I don’t know if it’s happening.”

The controversy has been growing among Muslim-Americans since February, when an Irvine, Calif., fitness instructor named Craig Monteilh told reporters that the FBI paid him to infiltrate mosques in several communities in Southern California during an investigation conducted in 2006-07.

Monteilh, a former convict, told the Associated Press that FBI agents had picked him up every morning for two weeks and took him to a building in Los Angeles where he learned some Arabic and learned about Islam. After that, he said, he infiltrated several mosques as an FBI informer. (More)

SEE ALSO:

CAIR: U.S. MUSLIMS DEBATE HOW MUCH TO HELP FBI – TOP
Matthai Kuruvila, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/6/09

A petition organized by a Newark nonprofit urging Muslims to limit social outreach with the FBI has provoked a national debate within the Muslim community about how to deal with law enforcement.

The curb proposed by the petitioners – eliminating joint FBI town halls and other meet-and-greet events – is largely a response to the FBI’s restricting its work with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights group.

The petitioners say their stand on behalf of CAIR, which has an extensive presence around the country and in the Bay Area, has larger meaning for all Muslim institutions.

“We’re fighting against being relegated to second-class citizenship,” said Agha Saeed, chairman of the Newark-based American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections, the coalition of national Muslim organizations that issued the March 17 petition.

The tensions with the FBI come as the agency insists that it wants better relations with Muslims. (More)

FBI MUSLIM OUTREACH HARMED BY ABUSIVE TACTICS – TOP
Dr. Agha Saeed, Special to InFocus News, 4/1/09

A recent statement by a coalition of major national Islamic organizations cited a number of incidents in which the government unfairly targeted American mosques and Muslim groups and said concern over those abuses could result in the suspension of long-standing community outreach initiatives with the FBI.

That statement, issued by the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections, is at its heart really a call for increased engagement and dialogue based on mutual respect and the preservation of constitutionally-protected civil and religious rights, not just on photo opportunities.

The essence of civic engagement, as practiced by Dr. Martin Luther King, is to create public awareness of unjust policies and tactics and to make it impossible for an oppressive status quo to be sustained.

American Muslim concerns are centered on four main factors: infiltration of mosques and systematic intimidation of religious leaders (Imams); use of agents provocateurs; use of the questionable category of unindicted co-conspirators to undermine major Muslim organizations, and denial of the First Amendment right to petition the government for a redress of grievances for organizations articulating a Muslim point of view on peace with justice in Palestine and elsewhere.

In its statement, AMT noted that “the FBI sent a convicted criminal to pose as an agent provocateur in several [California] mosques.” Muslims find these FBI-induced false conversions a profoundly hurtful violation of their religious freedoms. AMT also cited the FBI’s disengagement from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest and most respected Muslim civil rights organization, and the “unjustified” designation of some 300 groups and individuals as “unindicted co-conspirators” in conjunction with the Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas, Texas. . .

Muslims are not considering severing all ties with law enforcement agencies, but would only suspend participation in public relations efforts such as town hall meetings, diversity training and participation in FBI citizens’ academies that came to be viewed as public relations cover for behind-the-scenes abuses. Reporting of suspected criminal activities or of anti-Muslim hate crimes would continue.

This effort is not a campaign of disengagement, but is instead designed to truly engage top Justice Department officials on these critical issues. It is also designed to help restore respect and equal rights for American Muslims after eight years of being treated as suspects rather than partners. (More)

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CAIR-OK: IGNORANCE IS THE ENEMY – TOP
House Bill 1645, authored by Rep. Wade Rousselot, D-Wagoner, seems harmless on its surface. However, it has an amendment that may set back the clock on the civil rights progress in America.
Razi Hashmi, Tulsa World, 4/4/09

[Razi Hashmi is the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma, a grassroots civil rights advocacy group whose mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.]

When Rep. Rex Duncan, R-Sand Springs, heard about a Muslim woman re-taking her driver’s license photo at the Department of Public Safety after her civil rights were violated, he proposed an amendment that would take all Oklahomans’ civil rights away. This attack against Americans’ civil rights would affect others besides the Muslim community, and is not without unintended consequences.

The sponsors have tagged this legislation to another bill that is irrelevant to the case at hand, and if passed, it would prohibit religious minorities from wearing religiously-mandated head covering when taking photos for their driver’s licenses and other IDs.

Those affected would be Jewish men who wear yarmulkes, Catholic nuns who wear the habit, Indian Sikhs who wear turbans, Muslim women who wear the hijab (Islamic head scarf), and other religious groups who wear head coverings. If Mother Teresa were alive today and this proposed law were passed, she would not be able to get a driver’s license in the state of Oklahoma!

America has a long-standing history of religious pluralism and freedom. It goes against the founding principles of our country to prohibit one’s free practice of religion, protected by the U.S. Constitution.

The Oklahoma State Legislature needs to stop wasting time mixing religion and politics with pet projects such as placing the Ten Commandments on state property, and prohibiting religious head wear on driver’s licenses. Being in the buckle of the Bible belt, Oklahomans have a responsibility to uphold the separation of Church and State just like the rest of this country.

Locally, we cannot forget that we do have bigger issues to focus on, namely the economy. In these tough economic times, it is disconcerting to see our state legislators wasting precious taxpayer dollars by attempting to pass a law that violates our First Amendment rights. If the legislators believe that Oklahoma is recession-proof, then we clearly have not felt the effects of the state Capitol, which has and will continue to drive people out of the state and send labor to other states that will accept a diverse workforce with open arms. (More)

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MOST BACK OUTREACH TO MUSLIM NATIONS, BUT SUSPICION AND UNFAMILIARITY PERSIST – TOP
ABC News/Washington Post Poll: 48 Percent Hold Unfavorable Opinion of Islam
Gary Langer, ABC News, 4/5/09

With President Obama in Turkey for a two-day visit, an ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that Americans overwhelmingly support U.S. outreach to Muslim nations — but many also express continued suspicion of the world’s second-largest religion.

Americans by 48-41 percent hold an unfavorable opinion of Islam — its highest unfavorable rating in ABC/Post polls since 2001. And 29 percent express the belief that mainstream Islam encourages violence against non-Muslims — down slightly from its peak, but double what it was early in 2002.

Click here for PDF with charts and questions.

Unfamiliarity is a central factor in these views. Fifty-five percent of Americans concede that they lack a good basic understanding of Islam; about as many, 53 percent, don’t personally know a Muslim. People who profess an understanding of Islam, or know a Muslim, have much more positive views of the religion. (More)

SEE ALSO:

MOST IN POLL BACK OUTREACH TO MUSLIMS – TOP
Jon Cohen and Jennifer Agiesta, Washington Post, 4/6/09

Most Americans think President Obama’s pledge to “seek a new way forward” with the Muslim world is an important goal, even as nearly half hold negative views about Islam and a sizable number say that even mainstream adherents to the religion encourage violence against non-Muslims, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

There is still a broad lack of familiarity with the world’s second-largest religion — 55 percent of those polled said they are without a basic understanding of the teachings and beliefs of Islam, and most said they do not know anyone who is Muslim. While awareness has increased in recent years, underlying views have not improved.

About half, 48 percent, said they have an unfavorable view of Islam, the highest in polls since late 2001. Nearly three in 10, or 29 percent, said they see mainstream Islam as advocating violence against non-Muslims; although more, 58 percent, said it is a peaceful religion.

Muslims make up about 1 percent of all U.S. adults.

Majorities of Americans with sympathetic and unsympathetic views about Islam said it is important for the president to try to improve U.S. relations with Muslim nations, with those holding more positive views much more likely to call those moves “very important.” (More)

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TN: MOSQUE DOESN’T AGREE WITH RESTAURANT’S PLAN TO SERVE ALCOHOL – TOP
Jessie Pounds, Knoxville News Sentinel, 6/5/09

It’s a Fort Sanders clash of cultures and good intentions.

On one side of the disagreement is a Muslim mosque, and some of its worshippers are unhappy about plans for a new restaurant that will serve alcohol.

On the opposing end of the clash is a business owner who says he’s invested $1 million to upgrade a blighted building and has tried to accommodate Muslim worshippers during spiritual holidays.

The two entities – The Hill restaurant and the Anoor mosque – are a mere 191 feet apart.

Building owner Trevor Hill wants to offer alcoholic drinks along with home-cooking-style dinner and lunch menus, and he hopes to launch the eatery in about a week. He’ll keep the restaurant open as late at night as is still profitable in hope of appealing to the young residents of Fort Sanders, where the building is located.

The possibility that the restaurant could serve as a local drinking hangout bothers mosque attendees like board member Nadeem Sidiqqi.

Islam prohibits the consumption of alcohol, but Sidiqqi said the protest isn’t an attack on drinking in general, just a call for buffer zones for religious establishments. . .

Knoxville’s local beer ordinance establishes a 300-foot buffer zone around churches and other similar institutions for a beer permit but waives the requirement if the establishment is granted a liquor license by the state of Tennessee. (More)

Arab-Latam bid for a diverse world

Arab-Latam bid for a diverse world


The first Arab-South American summit was merely a declaration of good intentions [EPA]

The Moors invaded and conquered much of the Iberian Peninsula in 711AD.

By the time they were driven out of Granada in 1492, the Arabs had left an indelible racial and cultural imprint.

Both the Spanish and Portuguese languages have a marked Arabic influence.

Yet when the Spanish and Portuguese crossed the Atlantic to conquer America, the close connection with the Arab world was somehow lost as the new colonies fought to establish their own identities.

More than five centuries later, the arrival of South American heads of state in Doha, Qatar, to attend a presidential summit with Arab leaders is a conscious effort on each side to rediscover the other and forge a relationship that is seen as long overdue.

For Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the president of Brazil, it is a priority.

“It is imperative for the countries of South America to establish a real understanding with the nations of the Middle East, with the Arab world, so that we can establish not just a commercial relationship, but a political and cultural relationship, so that we can be free of the ties and decisions of the so called rich countries,” he said in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera.

Common ties

The effort to find common ground with the Arab region reflects Latin America’s  changing priorities.

Lula, right, established the South American-Arab leaders summit [GALLO/GETTY] 

In the last eight years, the political map has changed radically, with every major South American country, except Peru and Colombia, now being led by a left or centre-left government.

From Venezuela’ fiercely anti-American president, Hugo Chavez, to Chile’s and Brazil’s more moderate leaders, all are staunch proponents of a multi-polar world, not dominated by a super power nor a bloc of industrialised nations.   

“Ten years ago it would have been impossible to think of a meeting like this between the Arabs and Latin America or South America,” Chavez said.

“It is now that the left-wing movements have managed to obtain political power and lead governments in Latin America, that this possibility has opened, because before our governments would always kneel before the US state department,” he said.

Limited links

While they are on opposite sides of the globe and have very different cultures and political structures, the two regions share a common colonial experience.

Given the changing global political and economic map, South America and the Arab region are attempting to join forces, so their voices carry more weight, especially in multi-lateral forums such as the G20 group of leading industrialised nations.

South America’s powerhouse, Brazil, is counting on Arab support to help push its candidacy for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council which, if successful, would give the Arab region an ally in a strategic arena.

The South American-Arab Leaders’ Summit was the brainchild of the Brazilian president, who hosted the first such meeting in 2005 in Brasilia. 

At the time it was little more than a declaration of good intentions to strengthen ties, yet it was as significant first step.

“Our relations with [the Arab world] were very limited, very small … we had a trade balance of $8bn with the Arab world, and after that meeting, after that initiative of our government, our trade balance has climbed to $20bn,” Lula said.

Something similar has happened in Argentina where, in just three years, exports to the Arab region have jumped from $1.8bn to $4.5bn, according to Sattam Al Kaddour, the secretary-general of the Argentine-Arab Chamber of Commerce.

Arabian origins

It should not be so surprising.

There are up to 20m Arabs and descendants of Arabs living in the region, most of them in South America. 

In Brazil alone, there are an estimated 10m. About 8m of them are Lebanese – more than in Lebanon itself. 

Argentina has an estimated 3.5m people of Syrian and Lebanese origin. Carlos Menem, Argentina’s former president, is the son of Syrian immigrants.

Chavez’s Venezuela is a member of Opec which is dominated by Gulf nations [GALLO/GETTY]

Neighbouring Chile has the largest community of people of Palestinian origin outside of the Middle East, the vast majority Christian Palestinians who migrated from Beit Jala and Bethlehem.

The first exodus occurred in the mid-19th century, when Palestine was ruled by the Ottomans. 

After the foundation of Israel in 1948, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians lost their homes, many Christian Arabs followed their ancestors to the Americas. 

The majority went to Chile, where the mountains and Mediterranean climate of Santiago’s central valley seemed familiar.

Today, many Chilean Palestinians are prominent members of the business and political community.

Nevertheless, despite the large number of South Americans of Arab origin, the direct contact between the two regions has been limited.

It was not until last year that the first direct flight between a South American city (Sao Paulo) and an Arab country (Dubai) was inaugurated.

Trade benefits

So, why has it taken so long?

Celso Amorim, the Brazilian foreign minister, said: “Until now, both regions used to always look towards the United States or towards Europe, but never towards each other.

“The unprecedented push to bring the two regions closer is being applauded, especially by the South American business community. 

“The potential here is unimaginable because, if we look towards the Arab world as a whole and Latin America, we see that the economies of the two regions compliment each other perfectly.

“In the Arab region they have large deserts and a very dry climate, and in Latin America we have green, fertile soil and 26 per cent of the world’s fresh water supply,” Al Kaddour said.

The balance of trade so far is in South America’s favour.

“The food export sector is the most important right now because the Arab region is a big buyer of food products and South America, especially Brazil and Argentina, are countries with a large agro-industry,” Al Kaddour said.

It is hoped the second South American-Arab Leaders’ Summit in Doha will give a push to the newly found relationship.  

The widespread sympathy for the Palestinian cause in South America, especially after Israel’s recent war on Gaza in which more than 1,300 Palestinians were killed, should contribute.

Venezuela and Bolivia went as far as to expel the Israeli ambassadors in their countries, and Chile and Brazil issued strong condemnations during the Israeli  attacks on Gaza.

 “It is very interesting to exchange views between Arab and South American leaders, to establish accords, no?” Chavez said.

“The most important thing, though, is the geopolitical relationship. I think this is the beginning of a path that we are building, in the construction of a multi-polar world.”

Vatican offers Islamic finance system to Western Banks

The Vatican says Islamic finance system may help Western banks in crisis as alternative to capitalistm.
Friday, 06 March 2009 15:10 World Bulletin / News Desk

The Vatican offered Islamic finance principles to Western banks as a solution for worldwide economic crisis.

Daily Vatican newspaper, ‘L’Osservatore Romano, reported that Islamic banking system may help to overcome global crisis, Turkish media reported.
The Vatican said banks should look at the ethical rules of Islamic finance to restore confidence amongst their clients at a time of global economic crisis.

“The ethical principles on which Islamic finance is based may bring banks closer to their clients and to the true spirit which should mark every financial service,” the Vatican’s official newspaper Osservatore Romano said in an article in its latest issue late yesterday.

Author Loretta Napoleoni and Abaxbank Spa fixed income strategist, Claudia Segre, say in the article that “Western banks could use tools such as the Islamic bonds, known as sukuk, as collateral”. Sukuk may be used to fund the “‘car industry or the next Olympic Games in London,” they said.

They also said that profit share, gained from sukuk, may be an alternative to the interest. They underlined that sukuk system could help automotive sector and support investments in infrastructure area.

Islamic sukuk system is similar to bonos of capitalist system. But in sukuk, money is invested concrete projects and profit share is distributed to clients instead of interest earned.

Pope Benedict XVI in an Oct. 7 speech reflected on crashing financial markets saying that “money vanishes, it is nothing” and concluded that “the only solid reality is the word of God.” The Vatican has been paying attention to the global financial meltdown and ran articles in its official newspaper that criticize the free-market model for having “grown too much and badly in the past two decades.”

The Osservatore’s editor, Giovanni Maria Vian, said that “the great religions have always had a common attention to the human dimension of the economy,” Corriere della Sera reported today.

Vatican offers Islamic finance system to Western Banks

Vatican offers Islamic finance system to Western Banks
The Vatican says Islamic finance system may help Western banks in crisis as alternative to capitalistm.
Friday, 06 March 2009 15:10

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Vatican offered Islamic finance principles to Western banks as a solution for worldwide economic crisis.

Daily Vatican newspaper, ‘L’Osservatore Romano, reported that Islamic banking system may help to overcome global crisis, Turkish media reported.
The Vatican said banks should look at the ethical rules of Islamic finance to restore confidence amongst their clients at a time of global economic crisis.

“The ethical principles on which Islamic finance is based may bring banks closer to their clients and to the true spirit which should mark every financial service,” the Vatican’s official newspaper Osservatore Romano said in an article in its latest issue late yesterday.

Author Loretta Napoleoni and Abaxbank Spa fixed income strategist, Claudia Segre, say in the article that “Western banks could use tools such as the Islamic bonds, known as sukuk, as collateral”. Sukuk may be used to fund the “‘car industry or the next Olympic Games in London,” they said.

They also said that profit share, gained from sukuk, may be an alternative to the interest. They underlined that sukuk system could help automotive sector and support investments in infrastructure area.

Islamic sukuk system is similar to bonos of capitalist system. But in sukuk, money is invested concrete projects and profit share is distributed to clients instead of interest earned.

Pope Benedict XVI in an Oct. 7 speech reflected on crashing financial markets saying that “money vanishes, it is nothing” and concluded that “the only solid reality is the word of God.” The Vatican has been paying attention to the global financial meltdown and ran articles in its official newspaper that criticize the free-market model for having “grown too much and badly in the past two decades.”

The Osservatore’s editor, Giovanni Maria Vian, said that “the great religions have always had a common attention to the human dimension of the economy,” Corriere della Sera reported today

Islam And Contemporary Issues

Islam and contemporary issues | TwoCircles.net

Islam and contemporary issues
Submitted by admin4 on 5 April 2009 – 12:09pm.

* Articles
* Indian Muslim

By Asghar Ali Engineer,

A few days ago I was invited to speak in a Prophet Day’s function. There were other speakers as well. As usual the speakers before me indulged in rhetoric ‘Islam is the solution’ and also said the world economy has failed and slowed down as it is based on gambling and interest. Another person said Islam declared human rights 14 hundred years ago whereas UNO declared it only sixty years ago. Yet another speaker said Islam has given equal rights to women and made it obligatory for them to seek education. Also it was emphasized that Islam is religion of peace.

All this provoked me to say all this is true and I can add much more to it but have we ever seriously reflected why Islamic world is in such turmoil today. Why Muslims have totally failed to adopt these teachings in practice. I said if one caste a critical glance at Islamic world today one finds exactly opposite of what Qur’an teaches. If Qur’an lays great emphasis on knowledge, Islamic world from Indonesia to Algeria has more illiterates than any other community.

If Qur’an gives equal status to men and women Muslim women in most of the Islamic countries are most suppressed lot and whole world thinks Islam deprives women of their rights. If Islam is religion of peace why Islamic world is in such turmoil and is dogged with ‘jihadi’ movements? If Islam upholds human dignity and human rights why is it that there is hardly any Islamic country which respects human rights? The human rights activists find themselves in jails in these countries.

I also said we try to compensate for our failure in all these respects through rhetoric. Only those resort to empty rhetoric who have nothing concrete to show. Our ‘Ulama have brought us up on such empty rhetoric. Time and again we hear ‘Islam is the solution of all problems’. Let alone solution these worthy beings are not aware of what are the problems of the modern world.

Unless we go beyond such rhetoric and critically examine what is wrong with Muslim world we will continue with such rhetoric without improving our condition. And if criticized for our failures we will come out with our pet conspiracy theory or blame the media for projecting adverse image of Islam and Muslims. We have fallen in such a love with these pet theories that we refuse to see reality. We love rhetoric and hate reality.

We are adept at sectarian polemics and spend all our skills in proving followers of others sects ‘kafirs’ and only people of our own sect as naji (i.e. who will achieve liberation). We keep on reproducing medieval commentaries of Qur’an without ever trying to understand the divine text in our own times. We consider it a sin to revisit Qur’an and realize its great potential for our guidance in modern context. We quote more from medieval commentaries on Qur’an than from the divine text itself.

Also, we are most intolerant lot and suppress any new point of view. Our ‘Ulama have convinced us that any new thinking is a sin and amounts to innovation (bid’ah). And for our theologians only solution of all problems is to be regular with our prayers and we are doomed today, not because of our ignorance and refusal to understand modern world but because we have neglected five time prayers.

This is the quality of our thinking about our problems. Not that one should not pray but to hide behind it and neglect real problems is to fool ourselves. And when we talk of a’mal (actions or deeds) we refer only to prayers and some other ritualistic actions. We have totally forgotten real meaning and significance of prayer. We are more than happy with symbolism as any concrete action requires totally different mindset.

It is unfortunate that our ‘ulama are educated in totally medieval atmosphere. We are even resisting any change in the madrasa syllabus which was evolved centuries ago. Our ‘ulama are totally differently oriented and are incapable of understanding complexities of modern world with its highly complex modern problems. I have always maintained that our commitments should be to Qur’an, not to its understanding by the ‘ulama and jurists in the past.

But unfortunately we are more committed to how Tabari or Zamakhshari or Imam Razi understood it than to the Qur’an itself. In all our religious arguments we quote from these and other medieval commentaries and rejected any other argument based on Qur’an itself or on fresh understanding of the Qur’an. And if we cannot make a point with the help of Qur’an, our last resort is hadith, however controversial or contradictory to Qur’an it may be.

If any revolution in the Muslim world has to begin, it has to begin from our madrasa system. It has to be thoroughly overhauled so as to give them training in modern subjects. And modern subjects should not mean only social sciences but also natural sciences besides theological training. Tafsir literature (commentaries) should be taught only as history and they should be encouraged to develop new understanding of the Qur’an.

The whole theological training today is not only confined to medieval subjects but even ma’qulat (rational sciences are confined to Greek sciences based on Plato, Socrates etc. What an irony! The world of sciences has gone far beyond Greek period and our madrasas still consider it as the last word. All this either may be taught either as a history (so that they may understand evolution of modern sciences) or must be scrapped all together.

I think our madrasas of higher levels like Darul Ulum Deoband should be converted into modern universities so that the modern syllabus taught in other universities could be taught there while of course, retaining theological courses. In these some theologians should also be able to do their doctorate in either social or natural sciences. One may argue then why not join other secular universities for doing doctorate and why have these madrasas?

Yes, it is true other secular universities are available for the purpose but if these doctoral courses are integrated with theological sciences, it will create new intellectual capacities in our theologians and their medieval thinking will be reoriented and it will result in totally different intellectual products. And it will not be some thing new. We have very rich heritage in this respect which was lost completely when decline began and final blow was dealt by colonial rule.

All great philosophers and scientists that Islamic world produced like Ibn Sina (Avisina) or Ibn Rushd (Averos) and several others were also theologians in their own right. It was because of this tradition that then educational authorities began to teach ma’qulat (rational sciences) in the madrasas. However this tradition unfortunately stagnated and Greek sciences are taught even today.

All we have to do is to integrate new social as well as natural sciences with the theological courses. Today the madrasa graduates can either become teachers in madrasas or become imams in the mosque. And then they continue to teach in the same old ways they have learnt or continue to lead prayers including tarawih prayers. I have seen in many Islamic institutions thousands of children committing Qur’an to memory several hours of the day. It hardly serves any useful purpose. That time could have been utilized for imparting useful knowledge.

I am aware of some of the madrasas, especially in Kerala and also other parts of India, where some madrasas have switched over to teaching of modern sciences also. But they are far and few in between and moreover we have to take entire Muslim world to produce any worthwhile impact. In Qur’an the word ‘ilm (knowledge) is not restricted only to theological knowledge but knowledge about the whole universe.

Unfortunately our ‘ulama have restricted this knowledge to Dini ‘ulum (theological sciences) only. Now of course attitudes are changing gradually but until recent past everything except Dini Ulum was even considered false. One will still find resistance to change and insistence on continuity. There is hardly rich intellectual debate as to what is worth continuing and what needs to be changed.

There is nothing wrong to emphasize healthy traditions based on principles and values but tradition per se should not have any sanctity. Unfortunately we always give centrality to tradition over change. Rationality is, at best, of marginal value. In modern society reason plays central role while in traditional society it is tradition, which is accorded centrality. Change is possible only if reason acquires centrality.

Islamic world is too much obsessed with centrality of tradition to think afresh. Our madrasas and institutions of Islamic education are, as Herbert Marcuse, a noted American philosopher of last century would have put it, centres of acknowledgement rather than of knowledge. Or they are centers of recognition rather than centers of cognition. In such centers no new knowledge can be produced only acknowledged traditions can continue. These centers cannot become centers of intellectual excellence but centers of traditional knowledge.

Such centers cannot bring about any qualitative change in the Muslim world. We urgently need new intellectual culture for this. And to create this new intellectual culture we need thorough political changes as well. For new intellectual culture we need freedom of thought and action. It is true the Qur’an stands for freedom of faith and conscience but with some exceptions there are no basic freedoms in any Islamic country.

In most of the Islamic countries political class, while swearing by the Qur’an and shari’ah, has never allowed fundamental Qur’anic values to be practiced. Like five pillars of Islam, there are five Qur’anic values i.e. Truth (Haq), Justice (‘adl), benevolence (ihsan), Compassion (Rahmah) and Wisdom (Hikmah) and these are Allah’s names also. Alloah is Haq, ‘Adil, Muhsin, Rahman and Wise.

If like five pillars of Islam these values are practiced, the Islamic world would be leading other countries of the world in ethical and moral values and also achieve, by rigorous practice of these values what others have not. But the political class, while talking of Islam and Islamization, adopts, very shrewdly, a selective approach so that it enjoys all its privileges and political power and at the same time earn merit of Islamizing the society.

It is obvious that it is political class which controls education system and decides what is to be taught and what is not to be. The whole education system creates conforming culture merely acknowledging what is taught as ‘true’. The system imparts selective information, never holistic knowledge. Such a system can never produce creative and free mind to constantly critically evaluate and bring about qualitative change in society.

Thus a political revolution is needed before any revolutionary changes in education system can be brought in Islamic world. But chances of such revolution seem very bleak. The western powers also need a compliant political class in most of the Muslim countries. In fact, these powers need such a compliant class and they do everything to support such a class in the Muslim world.

‘The oil revolution of seventies of last century coupled with globalization has converted entire middle east into a vast lucrative market for Japanese and western goods (though a current melt down has somewhat adverse effect) and promoted unabashed consumerism in the Arab world. People are engaged more in competing for consumer goods that any moral and qualitative change in society.

Such a society finds traditional and ritualized religion quite harmless and political class finds it quite convenient to promote such a religion. Thus total lack of freedom, decline in values, and promotion of competitive consumer culture makes society quietly accept domination by political authoritarianism on one hand, and religion reduced to an opium pill, on the other.

Though this appears to be a very bleak scenario those intellectuals who believe in ushering in qualitative change in the society based on freedom, human dignity, equality and the five values mentioned above, will have to pave way for this change peacefully and with total dedication. Then question arises what is to be done in these circumstances?

We have to have an action program. Though it is difficult to evolve such a program without thorough discussion but an outline for a discussion could be presented here. I would like to propose following measures for those interested in value-based qualitative change in Muslim societies and countries:

1) Modern intellectuals must learn and master Arabic language (for non-Arab countries and societies) and read and re-read Qur’an along with traditional commentaries and reflect in new understanding in keeping with our situation and our problems. The old commentaries, it would be seen were very much influenced by the then prevailing conditions and socio-economic problems. It is not necessary that there would be complete agreement among all modern commentators.

In medieval ages too, there was no such consensus. It would be more in keeping with intellectual freedom to arrive at different meanings though there may be a consensus about the methodology of understanding Qur’an. These new commentators of course should be well versed in modern social or natural sciences.

2) All such commentaries should be situated within the framework of five values of Qur’an above referred to as these happen to be most modern values too. Also, those ahadith (traditions) would not be taken into account which are in direct contradiction of the Qur’an and Qur’anic values as traditional tafasir (commentaries) are full of references to such traditions even if these traditions distorted Qu’ranic values.

3) There is great need to improve situation of women’s rights in Islamic world and for that we also need women perspectives for understanding Qur’an, especially those verses which pertain to marriage, divorce and women’s rights. So far Qur’an has been mainly interpreted by men though during the Prophet’s time and during subsequent period lasting for few years only, there was glorious tradition of women ‘ulama, women narrators of ahadith and women commentators of Qur’an. There is great need to revive that tradition, not in mechanical sense but with new perspectives gained during last one hundred years or so.

4) Along with women ‘alimat (scholars) there is need to go beyond patriarchal values and patriarchal culture as Qur’an, while making few concessions to patriarchy in those days, tried to go beyond patriarchal values and usher in new culture based on human dignity and according fully human dignity to women. However, soon women were subordinated once again as men were hardly prepared to accept gender equality and slowly even made Qur’anic interpretation as their sole preserve. In those overwhelming patriarchal values women hardly could assert themselves and also began to interiorize Qur’anic understanding as developed by men commentators.

5) This is possible only if we promote the Qur’anic concept of women as free agents and decision makers in their own rights. This would also need especial emphasis on female education. Though the Prophet (PBUH) made education obligatory on Muslim women (muslimatin) in ensuing feudal culture women were required to mind domestic role and serve their husbands and bring up children and no need was felt for education for this domestic role. This feudal culture has to totally change and women should acquire both secular and religious knowledge as much as men do reviving the true spirit of Islam.

6) There is great need to usher in culture of human rights in Islamic world and Muslim societies. Though Qur’an contains all provisions of declaration of human rights charter, by UNO, Islamic countries present stark contrast and human rights record of Muslim countries is among the worst in the world today. It brings worldwide criticism and creates an impression that Islam has no respect for human rights. It is only modern intellectuals armed with Qur’anic values and Qur’anic respect for human dignity can actively promote such culture.

7) Also, we have to change our outlook to other religions, often denouncing them as false and claiming superiority for ourselves. We should not only accept pluralism but actively promote it through dialogue and mutual understanding and harmonious co-existence. Though Islamic world does not have bad record in this respect but religious minorities do not enjoy equal political rights. We have to accept notion of citizenship which did not exist in the medieval world and hence we have different juristic pronouncements in this respect.

8) Also, we should actively promote science and technology as we are too dependent on western countries for modern technology. Our record in this respect is poorest in the world. In modern times we cannot boast of single revolutionary invention. Most of the Muslim countries are nothing but bazaar and are capable of even producing a single modern gadget. Without excellence in science and modern technology Islamic world will remain mere beggars. Most of the oil revenues are deposited in US banks and not even one percent is spent on research in these fields. Minimum 2 and half to 3 per cent of GNP should be spent on research in these fields. Institutions of excellence should be set up.

9) Also, Islamic world today is torn with violence and some countries are notorious for what has come to be known as ‘jihadi culture’. We must go back to the real Qur’anic meaning of jihad AS DEFINED BY THE Prophet (PBUH) and seen to be active promoters of peace and culture of dialogue in the world. We must understand root causes of violence in Islamic world and do every thing possible to remove these causes. If peace is central to Islam what are Muslims doing to promote it? Why Islam is being associated with ‘jihadi culture’, instead of culture of peace? We must seriously debate this question and take active steps to fight this ‘jihadi culture’.

These are some of the suggestions to at least pave the way for new qualitative changes in the Islamic world. It would be really most challenging task for anyone to undertake. But there is no other way either. These steps, if taken, will not only bring us out of the rut we have fallen in, it would release tremendous energy in the Islamic world for construction of new world order. Today we are mere prisoners of our own age-old traditions and unable to contribute richly, which otherwise we could.

Islam And Contemporary Issues

Islam and contemporary issues | TwoCircles.net

Islam and contemporary issues
Submitted by admin4 on 5 April 2009 – 12:09pm.

* Articles
* Indian Muslim

By Asghar Ali Engineer,

A few days ago I was invited to speak in a Prophet Day’s function. There were other speakers as well. As usual the speakers before me indulged in rhetoric ‘Islam is the solution’ and also said the world economy has failed and slowed down as it is based on gambling and interest. Another person said Islam declared human rights 14 hundred years ago whereas UNO declared it only sixty years ago. Yet another speaker said Islam has given equal rights to women and made it obligatory for them to seek education. Also it was emphasized that Islam is religion of peace.

All this provoked me to say all this is true and I can add much more to it but have we ever seriously reflected why Islamic world is in such turmoil today. Why Muslims have totally failed to adopt these teachings in practice. I said if one caste a critical glance at Islamic world today one finds exactly opposite of what Qur’an teaches. If Qur’an lays great emphasis on knowledge, Islamic world from Indonesia to Algeria has more illiterates than any other community.

If Qur’an gives equal status to men and women Muslim women in most of the Islamic countries are most suppressed lot and whole world thinks Islam deprives women of their rights. If Islam is religion of peace why Islamic world is in such turmoil and is dogged with ‘jihadi’ movements? If Islam upholds human dignity and human rights why is it that there is hardly any Islamic country which respects human rights? The human rights activists find themselves in jails in these countries.

I also said we try to compensate for our failure in all these respects through rhetoric. Only those resort to empty rhetoric who have nothing concrete to show. Our ‘Ulama have brought us up on such empty rhetoric. Time and again we hear ‘Islam is the solution of all problems’. Let alone solution these worthy beings are not aware of what are the problems of the modern world.

Unless we go beyond such rhetoric and critically examine what is wrong with Muslim world we will continue with such rhetoric without improving our condition. And if criticized for our failures we will come out with our pet conspiracy theory or blame the media for projecting adverse image of Islam and Muslims. We have fallen in such a love with these pet theories that we refuse to see reality. We love rhetoric and hate reality.

We are adept at sectarian polemics and spend all our skills in proving followers of others sects ‘kafirs’ and only people of our own sect as naji (i.e. who will achieve liberation). We keep on reproducing medieval commentaries of Qur’an without ever trying to understand the divine text in our own times. We consider it a sin to revisit Qur’an and realize its great potential for our guidance in modern context. We quote more from medieval commentaries on Qur’an than from the divine text itself.

Also, we are most intolerant lot and suppress any new point of view. Our ‘Ulama have convinced us that any new thinking is a sin and amounts to innovation (bid’ah). And for our theologians only solution of all problems is to be regular with our prayers and we are doomed today, not because of our ignorance and refusal to understand modern world but because we have neglected five time prayers.

This is the quality of our thinking about our problems. Not that one should not pray but to hide behind it and neglect real problems is to fool ourselves. And when we talk of a’mal (actions or deeds) we refer only to prayers and some other ritualistic actions. We have totally forgotten real meaning and significance of prayer. We are more than happy with symbolism as any concrete action requires totally different mindset.

It is unfortunate that our ‘ulama are educated in totally medieval atmosphere. We are even resisting any change in the madrasa syllabus which was evolved centuries ago. Our ‘ulama are totally differently oriented and are incapable of understanding complexities of modern world with its highly complex modern problems. I have always maintained that our commitments should be to Qur’an, not to its understanding by the ‘ulama and jurists in the past.

But unfortunately we are more committed to how Tabari or Zamakhshari or Imam Razi understood it than to the Qur’an itself. In all our religious arguments we quote from these and other medieval commentaries and rejected any other argument based on Qur’an itself or on fresh understanding of the Qur’an. And if we cannot make a point with the help of Qur’an, our last resort is hadith, however controversial or contradictory to Qur’an it may be.

If any revolution in the Muslim world has to begin, it has to begin from our madrasa system. It has to be thoroughly overhauled so as to give them training in modern subjects. And modern subjects should not mean only social sciences but also natural sciences besides theological training. Tafsir literature (commentaries) should be taught only as history and they should be encouraged to develop new understanding of the Qur’an.

The whole theological training today is not only confined to medieval subjects but even ma’qulat (rational sciences are confined to Greek sciences based on Plato, Socrates etc. What an irony! The world of sciences has gone far beyond Greek period and our madrasas still consider it as the last word. All this either may be taught either as a history (so that they may understand evolution of modern sciences) or must be scrapped all together.

I think our madrasas of higher levels like Darul Ulum Deoband should be converted into modern universities so that the modern syllabus taught in other universities could be taught there while of course, retaining theological courses. In these some theologians should also be able to do their doctorate in either social or natural sciences. One may argue then why not join other secular universities for doing doctorate and why have these madrasas?

Yes, it is true other secular universities are available for the purpose but if these doctoral courses are integrated with theological sciences, it will create new intellectual capacities in our theologians and their medieval thinking will be reoriented and it will result in totally different intellectual products. And it will not be some thing new. We have very rich heritage in this respect which was lost completely when decline began and final blow was dealt by colonial rule.

All great philosophers and scientists that Islamic world produced like Ibn Sina (Avisina) or Ibn Rushd (Averos) and several others were also theologians in their own right. It was because of this tradition that then educational authorities began to teach ma’qulat (rational sciences) in the madrasas. However this tradition unfortunately stagnated and Greek sciences are taught even today.

All we have to do is to integrate new social as well as natural sciences with the theological courses. Today the madrasa graduates can either become teachers in madrasas or become imams in the mosque. And then they continue to teach in the same old ways they have learnt or continue to lead prayers including tarawih prayers. I have seen in many Islamic institutions thousands of children committing Qur’an to memory several hours of the day. It hardly serves any useful purpose. That time could have been utilized for imparting useful knowledge.

I am aware of some of the madrasas, especially in Kerala and also other parts of India, where some madrasas have switched over to teaching of modern sciences also. But they are far and few in between and moreover we have to take entire Muslim world to produce any worthwhile impact. In Qur’an the word ‘ilm (knowledge) is not restricted only to theological knowledge but knowledge about the whole universe.

Unfortunately our ‘ulama have restricted this knowledge to Dini ‘ulum (theological sciences) only. Now of course attitudes are changing gradually but until recent past everything except Dini Ulum was even considered false. One will still find resistance to change and insistence on continuity. There is hardly rich intellectual debate as to what is worth continuing and what needs to be changed.

There is nothing wrong to emphasize healthy traditions based on principles and values but tradition per se should not have any sanctity. Unfortunately we always give centrality to tradition over change. Rationality is, at best, of marginal value. In modern society reason plays central role while in traditional society it is tradition, which is accorded centrality. Change is possible only if reason acquires centrality.

Islamic world is too much obsessed with centrality of tradition to think afresh. Our madrasas and institutions of Islamic education are, as Herbert Marcuse, a noted American philosopher of last century would have put it, centres of acknowledgement rather than of knowledge. Or they are centers of recognition rather than centers of cognition. In such centers no new knowledge can be produced only acknowledged traditions can continue. These centers cannot become centers of intellectual excellence but centers of traditional knowledge.

Such centers cannot bring about any qualitative change in the Muslim world. We urgently need new intellectual culture for this. And to create this new intellectual culture we need thorough political changes as well. For new intellectual culture we need freedom of thought and action. It is true the Qur’an stands for freedom of faith and conscience but with some exceptions there are no basic freedoms in any Islamic country.

In most of the Islamic countries political class, while swearing by the Qur’an and shari’ah, has never allowed fundamental Qur’anic values to be practiced. Like five pillars of Islam, there are five Qur’anic values i.e. Truth (Haq), Justice (‘adl), benevolence (ihsan), Compassion (Rahmah) and Wisdom (Hikmah) and these are Allah’s names also. Alloah is Haq, ‘Adil, Muhsin, Rahman and Wise.

If like five pillars of Islam these values are practiced, the Islamic world would be leading other countries of the world in ethical and moral values and also achieve, by rigorous practice of these values what others have not. But the political class, while talking of Islam and Islamization, adopts, very shrewdly, a selective approach so that it enjoys all its privileges and political power and at the same time earn merit of Islamizing the society.

It is obvious that it is political class which controls education system and decides what is to be taught and what is not to be. The whole education system creates conforming culture merely acknowledging what is taught as ‘true’. The system imparts selective information, never holistic knowledge. Such a system can never produce creative and free mind to constantly critically evaluate and bring about qualitative change in society.

Thus a political revolution is needed before any revolutionary changes in education system can be brought in Islamic world. But chances of such revolution seem very bleak. The western powers also need a compliant political class in most of the Muslim countries. In fact, these powers need such a compliant class and they do everything to support such a class in the Muslim world.

‘The oil revolution of seventies of last century coupled with globalization has converted entire middle east into a vast lucrative market for Japanese and western goods (though a current melt down has somewhat adverse effect) and promoted unabashed consumerism in the Arab world. People are engaged more in competing for consumer goods that any moral and qualitative change in society.

Such a society finds traditional and ritualized religion quite harmless and political class finds it quite convenient to promote such a religion. Thus total lack of freedom, decline in values, and promotion of competitive consumer culture makes society quietly accept domination by political authoritarianism on one hand, and religion reduced to an opium pill, on the other.

Though this appears to be a very bleak scenario those intellectuals who believe in ushering in qualitative change in the society based on freedom, human dignity, equality and the five values mentioned above, will have to pave way for this change peacefully and with total dedication. Then question arises what is to be done in these circumstances?

We have to have an action program. Though it is difficult to evolve such a program without thorough discussion but an outline for a discussion could be presented here. I would like to propose following measures for those interested in value-based qualitative change in Muslim societies and countries:

1) Modern intellectuals must learn and master Arabic language (for non-Arab countries and societies) and read and re-read Qur’an along with traditional commentaries and reflect in new understanding in keeping with our situation and our problems. The old commentaries, it would be seen were very much influenced by the then prevailing conditions and socio-economic problems. It is not necessary that there would be complete agreement among all modern commentators.

In medieval ages too, there was no such consensus. It would be more in keeping with intellectual freedom to arrive at different meanings though there may be a consensus about the methodology of understanding Qur’an. These new commentators of course should be well versed in modern social or natural sciences.

2) All such commentaries should be situated within the framework of five values of Qur’an above referred to as these happen to be most modern values too. Also, those ahadith (traditions) would not be taken into account which are in direct contradiction of the Qur’an and Qur’anic values as traditional tafasir (commentaries) are full of references to such traditions even if these traditions distorted Qu’ranic values.

3) There is great need to improve situation of women’s rights in Islamic world and for that we also need women perspectives for understanding Qur’an, especially those verses which pertain to marriage, divorce and women’s rights. So far Qur’an has been mainly interpreted by men though during the Prophet’s time and during subsequent period lasting for few years only, there was glorious tradition of women ‘ulama, women narrators of ahadith and women commentators of Qur’an. There is great need to revive that tradition, not in mechanical sense but with new perspectives gained during last one hundred years or so.

4) Along with women ‘alimat (scholars) there is need to go beyond patriarchal values and patriarchal culture as Qur’an, while making few concessions to patriarchy in those days, tried to go beyond patriarchal values and usher in new culture based on human dignity and according fully human dignity to women. However, soon women were subordinated once again as men were hardly prepared to accept gender equality and slowly even made Qur’anic interpretation as their sole preserve. In those overwhelming patriarchal values women hardly could assert themselves and also began to interiorize Qur’anic understanding as developed by men commentators.

5) This is possible only if we promote the Qur’anic concept of women as free agents and decision makers in their own rights. This would also need especial emphasis on female education. Though the Prophet (PBUH) made education obligatory on Muslim women (muslimatin) in ensuing feudal culture women were required to mind domestic role and serve their husbands and bring up children and no need was felt for education for this domestic role. This feudal culture has to totally change and women should acquire both secular and religious knowledge as much as men do reviving the true spirit of Islam.

6) There is great need to usher in culture of human rights in Islamic world and Muslim societies. Though Qur’an contains all provisions of declaration of human rights charter, by UNO, Islamic countries present stark contrast and human rights record of Muslim countries is among the worst in the world today. It brings worldwide criticism and creates an impression that Islam has no respect for human rights. It is only modern intellectuals armed with Qur’anic values and Qur’anic respect for human dignity can actively promote such culture.

7) Also, we have to change our outlook to other religions, often denouncing them as false and claiming superiority for ourselves. We should not only accept pluralism but actively promote it through dialogue and mutual understanding and harmonious co-existence. Though Islamic world does not have bad record in this respect but religious minorities do not enjoy equal political rights. We have to accept notion of citizenship which did not exist in the medieval world and hence we have different juristic pronouncements in this respect.

8) Also, we should actively promote science and technology as we are too dependent on western countries for modern technology. Our record in this respect is poorest in the world. In modern times we cannot boast of single revolutionary invention. Most of the Muslim countries are nothing but bazaar and are capable of even producing a single modern gadget. Without excellence in science and modern technology Islamic world will remain mere beggars. Most of the oil revenues are deposited in US banks and not even one percent is spent on research in these fields. Minimum 2 and half to 3 per cent of GNP should be spent on research in these fields. Institutions of excellence should be set up.

9) Also, Islamic world today is torn with violence and some countries are notorious for what has come to be known as ‘jihadi culture’. We must go back to the real Qur’anic meaning of jihad AS DEFINED BY THE Prophet (PBUH) and seen to be active promoters of peace and culture of dialogue in the world. We must understand root causes of violence in Islamic world and do every thing possible to remove these causes. If peace is central to Islam what are Muslims doing to promote it? Why Islam is being associated with ‘jihadi culture’, instead of culture of peace? We must seriously debate this question and take active steps to fight this ‘jihadi culture’.

These are some of the suggestions to at least pave the way for new qualitative changes in the Islamic world. It would be really most challenging task for anyone to undertake. But there is no other way either. These steps, if taken, will not only bring us out of the rut we have fallen in, it would release tremendous energy in the Islamic world for construction of new world order. Today we are mere prisoners of our own age-old traditions and unable to contribute richly, which otherwise we could.

Turkish PM Erdogan: Moderate Muslim Label Unacceptable

Turkish PM Erdogan: “Moderate Muslim Label Unacceptable”

by sheikyermami on April 5, 2009

Prime Minister objects to ’moderate Islam’ label

Hurriyet

images81Hürriyet Daily News  

This comes from the same POS that not long ago claimed that “assimilation is a crime against humanity”

ANKARA – Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan rejected attempts to call Turkey the representative of moderate Islam. “It is unacceptable for us to agree with such a definition. Turkey has never been a country to represent such a concept. Moreover, Islam cannot be classified as moderate or not,” Erdoğan said, speaking at Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies late Thursday. 

H/T Atlas Shrugs: Pamela has more>>

Erdoğan’s statements came only days before the visit of U.S President Barack Obama whose administration signaled a dramatic shift from George W. Bush in identifying Turkey as a moderate Islamic country. U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had praised Turkey as “a democratic country with a secular constitution” during her visit to Ankara in March. In his speech, “Alliance of Civilizations and Turkey’s role,” Erdoğan pointed to the lack of dialogue between different religions and cultures, which has led to distressing incidents in the world history. 

“The animosity, unfortunately, strengthens the scenarios that there is a so-called clash of civilizations in the world. Those, who defend such speculations, may go further to identify the terrorism with Islam which is based on peace,” he maintained, adding that the situation helps those who try to globalize Islamophobia. 

Erdoğan also wanted Western societies to be more open to cooperation and dialogue with the East. “It should be known that adopting a malicious and offending approach toward the sensitive issues of Islamic world by hiding behind some democratic freedoms like freedom of speech and right of free publication is unacceptable,” he said.

Drawing attention to the importance of mutual understanding and respect, Erdoğan stated that he believes and respects Moses and Jesus, and accepts them as prophets. “I expect the same attitude from a Jew or a Christian toward my own prophet,” Erdoğan noted. He underlined the importance of Turkey’s European Union membership in terms of establishing connections between the West and the East. 

Threats and more threats: how Islamic is that?

“As a country whose population is mostly composed of Muslims, Turkey endeavors to get its place in the EU. Turkey’s effort is closely watched not only by European people but also by the citizens of Islam countries,” he said. “The thesis that the West and the East, Islam and other religions cannot reconcile, has become invalid in Turkey’s membership process.” 

Erdoğan defended his verbal confrontation with the Israeli president at the World Economic Forum in Davos and added that he spoke up against the killing of innocent civilians and fulfilled his “duty as a human being.” At a special session in Davos, Erdoğan stormed out of the stage after accusing Israeli President Shimon Peres of knowing only too well how to kill people. 

“It was not possible to pass over the matter in silence …We did not act as counsel for any organization,” Erdoğan said, stressing that access to Gaza is still not allowed.  <!– –>

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mullah Lodabullah April 5, 2009 at 12:07 pm

I certainly don’t consider any muslim nation, including Turkey,
to be ‘moderate”. I don’t even like clicking “Submit” to post
comments 🙂

Stephen April 5, 2009 at 3:05 pm

A Muslim that’s against the right to free speech, and the freedom of the press?
With him in charge, the Turkey Hot Pockets don’t even have a long fade away shot at getting into the E.U.

kaw April 5, 2009 at 8:32 pm

A muzz says it like it is – and will the PC fools listen!!!

John April 5, 2009 at 10:51 pm

Mullah said: “I don’t even like clicking “Submit” to post
comments 🙂

Love it, love it!!!!!!

Hamas must be represented at the negotiating table. Only then can you get a solution.

Turkey Wants U.S. ‘Balance’

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Published: April 5, 2009

LONDON — Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is a man of brisk, borderline brusque, manner and he does not mince his words: “Hamas must be represented at the negotiating table. Only then can you get a solution.”

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We were seated in his suite at London’s Dorchester Hotel, where a Turkish flag had been hurriedly brought in as official backdrop. Referring to Mahmoud Abbas, the beleaguered Fatah leader and president of the Palestinian Authority, Erdogan said, “You will get nowhere by talking only to Abbas. This is what I tell our Western friends.”

In an interview on the eve of President Barack Obama’s visit to Turkey, his first to a Muslim country since taking office, Erdogan pressed for what he called “a new balance” in the U.S. approach to the Middle East. “Definitely U.S. policy has to change,” he said, if there is to be “a fair, just and all-encompassing solution.”

A firm message from Israel’s best friend in the Muslim Middle East: the status quo is untenable.

How Hamas is viewed is a pivotal issue in the current American Middle East policy review. The victor in 2006 Palestinian elections, Hamas is seen throughout the region as a legitimate resistance movement, a status burnished by its recent inconclusive pounding during Israel’s wretchedly named — and disastrous — “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza.

The United States and the European Union consider Hamas a terrorist organization. They won’t talk to it until it recognizes Israel, among other conditions. This marginalization has led only to impasse because Hamas, as an entrenched Palestinian political and social movement, cannot be circumvented and will not disappear.

Former Senator George Mitchell, Obama’s Middle East envoy, has expressed support for reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. I think this should become a U.S. diplomatic priority because it is the only coherent basis for meaningful peace talks. Erdogan called Mitchell “perfectly aware and with a full knowledge, a very positive person whose appointment was a very good step.”

The Turkish prime minister, who leads Justice and Development, or AKP, a party of Islamic inspiration and pragmatic bent, earned hero’s status in the Arab world when he walked out on the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, during a debate earlier this year in Davos. Any regrets?

“If I had failed to do that, it would have been disrespectful toward myself and disrespectful of the thousands of victims against whom disproportionate force was being used,” Erdogan said. He alluded to the children killed in Gaza — 288 of them according to the United Nations special rapporteur — and asked: “What more can I say?”

Erdogan, 55, urged Obama to become “the voice of millions of silent people and the protector of millions of unprotected people — that is what the Middle East is expecting.”

He went on: “I consider personally the election of Barack Hussein Obama to have very great symbolic meaning. A Muslim and a Christian name — so in his name there is a synthesis, although people from time to time want to overlook that and they do it intentionally. Barack Hussein Obama.”

I suggested that synthesis was all very well but, with a center-right Israeli government just installed, and its nationalist foreign minister already proclaiming that “If you want peace prepare for war,” the prospects of finding new bridges between the West and the Muslim world were remote.

“Your targets can only be realized on the basis of dreams,” Erdogan said. “If everyone can say, looking at Obama, that is he is one of us, is that not befitting for the leading country in the world?”

Dreams aside, I see Obama moving methodically to dismantle the Manichean Bush paradigm — with us or against us in a global battle of good against evil called the war on terror — in favor of a new realism that places improved relations with the Muslim world at its fulcrum. Hence the early visit to Turkey, gestures toward Iran, and other forms of outreach.

This will lead to tensions with Israel, which had conveniently conflated its long national struggle with the Palestinians within the war on terror, but is an inevitable result of a rational reassessment of U.S. interests.

I asked Erdogan if Islam and modernity were compatible. “Islam is a religion,” he said, “It is not an ideology. For a Muslim, there is no such thing as to be against modernity. Why should a Muslim not be a modern person? I, as a Muslim, fulfill all the requirements of my religion and I live in a democratic, social state. Can there be difficulties? Yes. But they will be resolved at the end of a maturity period so long as there is mutual trust.”

The problem is, of course, that Islam has been deployed as an ideology in the anti-modern, murderous, death-to-the-West campaign of Al-Qaeda. But Erdogan is right: Islam is one of the great world religions. Obama’s steps to reassert that truth, and so bridge the most dangerous division in the world, are of fundamental strategic importance.

Synthesis begins with understanding, which is precisely what never interested his predecessor.

comment Readers are invited to comment on global.nytimes.com/opinion

‘Encounter’ at Batla House: Unanswered Questions: Report is online

‘Encounter’ at Batla House: Unanswered Questions: Report is online | TwoCircles.net

‘Encounter’ at Batla House: Unanswered Questions: Report is online
Submitted by admin on 1 April 2009 – 7:13pm.

* Articles
* Crime/Terrorism
* Indian Muslim

By TwoCircles.net team

Batla House encounter, which saw two Muslim youth and one police officer killed is now a six months old news. Encounter, true or fake, in the national capital should have lead to investigation and scrutiny, but still questions remain unanswered. A group of Jamia teachers has compiled pubic information to try to piece together the incident. After selling all their printed copies, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Group has made a pdf version available to TwoCircles.net to put it online. Download link is given at the bottom of this page. Read and discuss.

The report by Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Group has profile of those killed and arrested in the Batla House operation, contradictions in police version regarding the encounter operation, information about dreaded terrorists, bullet proof jacket, injuries and bullets to the suspected terrorists, evidences, escape routes and fired rounds, besides contradictions in the mastermind theory and instances of violations of NHRC guidelines for an encounter.

The teachers’ group has demanded a judicial probe headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court, transfer of investigations from the Delhi Police to CBI, exemplary punishment to police officers guilty of implicating innocent Muslim youth in false cases of terrorism and adequate compensation and jobs to those acquitted in the terror-related cases.

Some of the questions raised in the report are as follows:

1) Did the police have prior information about the presence of dreaded ‘terrorists’ in L-18 when they raided the flat? So far, conflicting versions have been provided by the police. In one version, they claim ignorance of such confirmed information, pleading that they went in only for a routine recee and were ambushed (then how did the Police Commissioner within hours declare Atif and Sajid to be the mastermind behind all blasts since 2005, when Sajid would have been 14-years-old); and in another, they claim to have put Atif under surveillance since 26th July 2008 (so how did these boys manage to plant bombs all over the city right under the Delhi Police’s nose?)

2) Were the Police men wearing Bullet proof vests (BPV) or not? In some statements, the Delhi Police said that they avoided wearing the BPVs in order not to alert the ‘terrorists’; in yet other statement they claim that their officer escaped all injury while firing upon an armed Sajid because he was wearing a BPV.

3) What explains the injury marks on the bodies of the deceased boys? Atif’s back was sloughed off and Sajid had bullet wounds on his head as though bullets had been pumped into his head while he was made to kneel―all of which raises doubts about the genuineness of the ‘shootout’.

4) The Police claim that Sajid was an expert bomb maker who used quartz clocks, detonators, ammonium nitrate, yet none of the ‘recoveries’ which even the police have purportedly made, comprise any of the above material that could be used for making Sajid’s ‘signature’ bombs. So what made Dadwal and his force conclude that Sajid was the one behind the blasts in Delhi and elsewhere?

5) Why is there such rigid resistance to any independent probe on the part of the government and the Delhi Police? So much so that the Lieutenant Governor has even rejected a magisterial enquiry, which is mandatory as per NHRC guidelines on encounter killings.

6) Why are post-mortem reports of all the three killed not being made public? Is there something to hide?

The report also carries brief profiles of the accused in the case, including the two students killed. The fact that most of them were students enrolled in educational institutions, whether Jamia or elsewhere, or working gives the impression that they were regular young men in search of better opportunities in life. None of their actions puts them under suspicion: they enrolled as students, bought SIM cards in their name, signed a rent lease deed, duly verified by the police (copy in report), provided genuine address details etc. Moreover, the day after the blasts in Delhi, there were several arrests and detentions in the Jamia Nagar area, which was common knowledge. It is highly unlikely that actual terrorists would make no attempt to move away from a neighborhood which was obviously under the police scanner to a safer hideout.

Testimonies of eyewitnesses at the Jan Sunwai (12 Oct 2008, Batla House) have also been included in the report. Neighbours testified that they found nothing strange or suspicious about the boys and resented the fact that no senior local resident was taken into confidence or to crosscheck any information about suspected terrorists. The manner in which the police operated raised suspicions about their real motives. Further, they also said that while the operation was on, the policemen could be seen throwing pots etc on to the 4th floor flat of L-18, and that they heard gun shots of only one kind. This naturally raises the misgiving that the police was trying to create an impression of cross fire and struggle, where none existed.

Get your copy:
*’Encounter’ at Batla House: Unanswered Questions*

*A Report by Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity group*

60 pp., Rs 35, February 2009.

For Copies contact:
Adil Mehdi, Dept of English, JMI (9990923027)indianlit@yahoo.com
Ahmed Sohaib , Centre for Comparative Religions, JMI (9899462042)sohaibnirvan@gmail.com
Ghazi Shahnawaz, Dept. of Psychology, JMI (9868221506) mgshahnawaz@gmail.com

Download the pdf version:

http://www.TwoCircles.net/files/Batla_House_encounter_report.pdf

How the Mujahideen was Started

Brzezinski: How the Mujahideen was Started

As the Taliban, Russia, Pakistan, Islamic jihad and sharia law in general, become hot topics lately, we thought it prudent to shed some light on one of Barack Obama’s leading foreign policy advisers – on Afghanistan.

mujahid-brzezinski

Interview of Zbigniew Brzezinski Le Nouvel Observateur (France), Jan 15-21, 1998, p. 76*

Q: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [“From the Shadows”], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?

Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

Brzezinski: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?

mujahid-brzezinski2

Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic [integrisme], having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated: Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

Brzezinski: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn’t a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.

* There are at least two editions of this magazine; with the perhaps sole exception of the Library of Congress, the version sent to the United States is shorter than the French version, and the Brzezinski interview was not included in the shorter version.

The above has been translated from the French by Bill Blum author of, “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II” and “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower”.

Original pdf: brzezinski-zbig-19980115-le-nouvel-observateur-cias-intervention-in-afghanistan

‘Gaza wears a face of misery’

‘Gaza wears a face of misery’
Rizk says it takes one visit to Gaza to picture the kind of agony people endure daily [Gallo/ Getty]

Philip Rizk, 27, a freelance journalist and blogger who has been reporting from Gaza since 2005, was arrested by Egyptian security forces after a pro-Palestinian rally in Cairo on February 6.

He was released a few days later without being charged.

While in Gaza, he filmed The Palestinian Life, a documentary highlighting non-violent means of resistance against the Israeli occupation.

The film is premiering at the London International Documentary Festival on April 4. Here are excerpts from an interview Rizk gave to Al Jazeera shortly before the film’s debut.

Al Jazeera: Why were you detained and subsequently released by Egyptian authorities at the rally in Cairo?

Rizk: On February 6, I was part of a demonstration of 15 protesters against the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip. We started from the outskirts of Cairo and walked in the direction toward Gaza. Some 12km later, we were stopped by security forces that singled me out from the rest. I was forced into their car; they blindfolded me and I had no idea where I was going. One of the protesters was a lawyer who had a car, so he and others followed the car which took me.

The police set up security checkpoints to slow them down and eventually they lost my trail.

The security men took me to three holding stations. By the time I arrived at the third destination, they gave me a number, 29, told me to forget my name and that’s where I stayed for four days. They interrogated me about everything I had ever done in my life: where I was born, who I knew … everything.

They didn’t charge me with anything, but while I was being interrogated, they accused me of being an Israeli spy. They also said I was dealing weapons to Hamas. So it seemed like they were trying to figure out what I was all about to put a file together on me.

You’ve been reporting from Gaza over the past couple of years and one of the first journalists allowed access through the tunnels. Are Palestinians still using them?

Rizk: Gazans function with whatever they have available

I lived in Gaza from 2005 to 2007 and worked there for an NGO called the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation.

Gaza wears a face of misery and the living conditions are unimaginable. Unless you visit, you wouldn’t be able to picture the kind of agony Gazans have to live through on a daily basis. They function with whatever is available.

I was completely shocked when I returned in the summer of 2008. I discovered these tunnels myself and I couldn’t believe how out in the open they were. In the past, I had heard the entrances were from inside people’s living rooms, under their beds, or underneath a table, making it hard to find if ever an Israeli soldier would search their homes.

Last summer, I came across hundreds of tents, and underneath each of these tents were entrance points to hundreds of these tunnels. Egyptians and Israelis were well aware of them as these tunnels were all the people had as a means of transporting food and goods.

At least 85 per cent of the people are dependent on food aid. If the amount of aid was reduced, they would starve.

Refugee camps receive flour, oil and rice as aid and without these donations; they would not be able to survive.

They may be living but they’re not alive. There isn’t work to do; they’ve lost their dignity because of lack of work caused largely by the siege. Fathers have nothing to provide for their kids and in front of their wives they feel ashamed because there’s nothing for them to do; they can’t even provide their families with the most basic of needs.

The ironic thing is that the main providers for employment are the NGOs being funded by international organisations, which then serve to help keep the rest of the population alive. In the meanwhile, politicians don’t look for actual solutions to the conflict.

What doesn’t the media report on?

More than 1400 people died in Israel’s latest war on Gaza. But on a regular basis, Gazans die because of all sorts of causes that we don’t hear sufficiently about in the media. The sewage system is horrible, water is polluted and diseases are becoming an increasing phenomenon in Gaza.

Hospitals can’t cope because they face electricity shortages; a lot of Palestinians are in desperate need of kidney dialysis, the kinds of diseases that are out there are getting worse, it’s simply not a livable space.

The line between the meaning of life and death becomes very thin. As a student, you can spend your whole life trying to do well in school, get good grades – but all that effort goes to waste because there is no future for the class valedictorian.

Everyone alike is left completely powerless without hope and potential future. I’m even shocked at how well kids can even perform in these schools, considering how they live in a constant state of war.

There have been reports of tensions between Palestinians and Israeli settlers in Hebron. Is this a potentially explosive situation?

Rizk says the line between the meaning of life and death becomes very thin in Gaza

What happens in Gaza really stays in Gaza because some things aren’t reported. Israel has done so well at controlling the flow of information; they control everyone who goes in and out of the strip. It is easier for foreigners that are able to come in with NGOs working in Gaza. As far as the media goes, Israel hands out the permits and from mid November till the end of January or beginning of February, Israelis weren’t allowing anyone in, there was a blackout of information.

Another thing is how there isn’t so much of an interest from media organisations around the world to keep reporting on Gaza.

To them, there’s nothing new about the situation when in fact, the story there is constantly unfolding, breaking news is Gaza’s middle name. But because this breaking news always holds the same kind of information, no one cares to report on it.

So your documentary is to shed light on the situation in Gaza?

My documentary is a response to what I witnessed in Gaza and the West Bank and they are stories that don’t make it out in the media. Palestinians are so easily identified as terrorists, wearing balaclavas, holding a gun or firing a Qassam rocket.

But they’re really everyday people just trying to make the best of their lives, putting their kids through school, finding a job, doing well in their final exams.

One thing I’ve noticed in the media is that the theme of violence is always associated with stories coming out of Gaza.

Why not focus on stories of non-violent resistance? While some Palestinians return Israeli violence with further violence, the vast majority does not, and the Arabic word for such everyday acts of non-violent protest is sumoud, which means steadfastness, perseverance.

No matter what Israelis do to the people I met, they continued fighting for their right to remain on their land, their right to stay alive. Many of the people I filmed aren’t affiliated with political parties, they are normal people like you and I.

I needed to go to Palestine to understand what was going on there. Studying and reading about it didn’t make sense until I saw the wall, the settlements and physical occupation. After doing so, and going through the kinds of experiences I went through, I wanted to translate what I saw into the medium of film.

I’m also planning a film in West Africa, and then I’d like to focus on Egypt, which is a real police state. There’s red tape everywhere so it’s going to be a challenge.

For more information on Rizk’s documentary, visit thispalestinianlife.org.

 Source: Al Jazeera

Israeli soldiers confess

During Israel’s latest aggression on the Gaza Strip, Palestinians widely reported the indiscriminate killing of civilians along with numerous war crimes and atrocities committed by the Israeli army. Now Israeli officers and soldiers are confirming the allegations and adding witness detail. Will the world finally listen and constitute a war crimes tribunal for Gaza and its victims?

Israeli soldiers confess

Revelations are emerging of war crimes committed in Gaza by Israel that makes obligatory an international investigation, writes Saleh Al-Naami

Click to view caption
One of the hundreds of children killed during the Israeli war on Gaza


As calls increase for an international investigation into the crimes that Israel committed during its recent war on the Gaza Strip, confessions by Israeli army officers and soldiers confirm that the military issued clear instructions during the war for the indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians.

Israeli television Channel 10, Haaretz newspaper, and the news website Ynet have all published confessions made by Israeli officers and soldiers confirming that the army issued clear directives for shooting Palestinian civilians, raiding homes and opening fire within them, and unjustifiably destroying Palestinian property. These officers and soldiers have said that the Israeli army’s actions during the war on Gaza disqualify its claims that its forces treated Palestinians with “lofty ethics and [that it] maintained the honour of arms”. Their statements have swept away Israeli leaders’ claims that the occupation army avoided harming Palestinian civilians.

Haaretz reported a soldier as saying that the Israeli army took over a Palestinian house and placed its entire family in a single room while soldiers took up position on the roof. Several days later, these soldiers withdrew and left the family in the room. When another Israeli military unit entered the house, it placed machine guns on the rooftop and the head of the unit then allowed the family, consisting of a mother and her two children, to leave the house. The soldier in charge of the artillery immediately opened fire on them, killing them all.

Another soldier said that the commander of one of the military detachments ordered his soldiers to shoot an elderly Palestinian woman from a range of 100 metres. When one of the soldiers contested this order by saying that there must be limits and that it was unacceptable to attack an old woman, the commander responded, “every person here is considered a saboteur or terrorist,” and the soldiers shot her dead.

Israeli television Channel 10 broadcast a documentary film showing a unit commander ordering his soldiers to destroy homes over their occupants’ heads. He told them, “I want a completely clean area. The houses must be pulled down over their heads, and anyone found in the areas we advance upon must be treated as an enemy and immediately killed.” The same channel also broadcast the testimonies of soldiers who said that they spat on food before it went to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The confessing officers and soldiers have suggested that they understood their military directives to have allowed them to do anything in order to protect their lives. Their testimonies further reveal that the rabbis who met with soldiers during the war had stressed to them that this was a religious war and that they should not treat lightly anyone who threatened “Jews remaining on the land of their fathers and forefathers,” and that such threats should be treated “without mercy”. These soldiers said that the rabbis’ sermons played a major role in their making light of the lives of innocent Palestinian civilians, such that they even felt that it was their duty to kill them.

One of these soldiers said that his colleagues had written “Death to Arabs” on the walls of Palestinian houses, and that they had spat on anything that reminded Palestinians of their loved ones. The confessing officers and soldiers said that their leaders had stressed to them that their lives were much more important than those of Palestinian civilians. They further noted that killing in cold blood and the random opening of fire had not only taken place in the units they had served in, but in all of the fighting units that took part in the war. And these killings, they stressed, took place without any apparent regret or hesitation.

In addition to these reports, a Palestinian human rights organisation has announced that it found a military document confirming that the army issued orders to open fire on Palestinian emergency relief teams during the war, with the aim of killing them. The Palestinian Human Rights Centre, whose headquarters is in Gaza City, told Al-Ahram Weekly that its researchers found the document in the home of Sami Darduneh in Jebel Al-Ris, east of Jabalya Refugee Camp, which soldiers had turned into a temporary military base. The document indicates that clear instructions were given to shoot to kill Palestinian emergency relief teams attempting to rescue the injured and remove the killed. Issued on 16 January, just days before the end of the war, the document also calls for opening fire on anyone crossing Salaheddin Street, which runs north-south through the Gaza Strip and then turns east towards the area in which occupation forces were found.

This document indicates that the army did not tell the truth when it claimed that it had not targeted emergency relief teams. It also shows that the army’s actual firing directives issued to Israeli soldiers contradict the army’s claims that soldiers were instructed to first fire warning shots into the air and then to fire at the lower body.

Deputy director of the Palestinian Human Rights Centre Eyad Al-Ilmi told the Weekly that the evidence left behind by the occupation army indisputably indicates that major war crimes were committed during the recent Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip. Al-Ilmi says that the aftermath of destruction and purposeful killing, as well as the testimonies collected following the war, undermine the Israeli narrative of what took place. The Israeli army, he says, is accustomed to denying any relation to war crimes, and yet the evidence shows that war crimes were clearly committed. Al-Ilmi further says that if international will existed, it would be possible to begin trying Israeli individuals for the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the recent offence.

Al-Ilmi says that during the war on the Gaza Strip the Israeli army killed 17 emergency relief team members and injured dozens more, including doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers. The targeting of emergency relief teams also led to the deaths of scores of those injured during the war, many bleeding to death before rescue teams could reach them. The bodies of some of those killed in areas raided by the Israelis during the war remained in place for over two weeks without rescue teams being able to reach them, a situation that left their corpses prey to stray dogs and vermin.

It has also become clear that the Israeli army encouraged a culture of killing among its soldiers by allowing fighting units to wear symbols and slogans calling for the killing of pregnant women and children. Haaretz newspaper reported that members of select units in the Israeli army wore clothing printed with expressions of “savouring the killing of children and women”. The paper reported that soldiers placed images and phrases on their clothing calling for the killing of children and women and the destruction of mosques, as well as slogans indicating that soldiers made sure that Palestinian civilians were killed after firing on them. It printed a photograph of one of these images, showing a pregnant Palestinian woman in a sniper’s target, and beneath it the phrase “One Shot, Two Kills”. Other symbols bore slogans that justify killing Palestinian children before they become fighters, one of them being, “It doesn’t matter how it started… we’ll put an end to it.” Beneath other symbols was the phrase, “We won’t rest until certain of death,” as well as other crude references. Haaretz confirmed that the army had sanctioned these images and slogans.

The paper noted that the army had allowed one of its death squads to place these slogans on its soldiers’ clothing, and that it had sometimes barred some units from wearing racist slogans while allowing others to do so. For example, the army refused to allow one of the infantry units to wear the slogan “May every Arab mother know that her son’s fate is in my hands,” and yet allowed the soldiers of another unit to wear it. The paper reported that popular racist slogans among soldiers and officers graduating from sniper training included the image of a Palestinian child in a target frame and “The smaller, the harder” written below it, meaning that the younger the Palestinian child, the more painful their killing is to the family.

Israeli intellectual Gideon Levy says that the crimes committed by soldiers form an extension of the last nine years, during which Israeli soldiers have killed about 5,000 Palestinians, at least half of who were innocent civilians, including 1,000 children. In an article published in Haaretz, Levy wrote that the killing of Palestinians has become a commonplace action for Israeli soldiers. “An army whose armoured cruisers have not clashed with an enemy tank over the last 36 years, and whose pilots have never encountered a war plane from the other side, have been trained to believe that the only mission of a tank is to crush private vehicles and that the mission of a pilot is to bomb residential areas,” he wrote.

Levy criticises the response of the government and army to the soldiers’ confessions by describing them as “ridiculous and merely a claim that aims to mislead”. He counters that the Israeli army knew very well what its soldiers were doing in Gaza.

Israeli political analyst Akiva Eldar says that now the accomplishments of the military campaign on the Gaza Strip have dissipated, the confessions by soldiers have shown that Israel’s losses in the war were major. “These soldiers witnessed the killing of innocent civilians, destruction for the sake of destruction, families being thrown out of homes that were taken over and turned into temporary military sites, and insensitivity towards human life and an inclination towards animalistic behaviour,” Eldar says. He warns of the ramifications of the army’s “scandalous” behaviour, saying, “Slow-paced investigations within the Israeli army are not enough. This is the army that is ever absorbing religious sternness from the military rabbinical school. This should be openly investigated with external tools, and should be pulled out from the roots, for fear that rot will destroy the Israeli army and Israeli society.”

© Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly. All rights reserved

UN appoints Gaza war investigator

UN appoints Gaza war investigator

Richard Goldstone, right, will lead the fact-finding investigation into the Gaza war [Reuters]

The United Nations has appointed a former war crimes prosecutor to investigate offences allegedly committed by Israeli and Palestinian fighters during Israel’s war on Gaza.

Richard Goldstone, a Jewish judge from South Africa, will lead a fact-finding team on the mission, ordered by the Human Rights Council in January.

“I am confident the mission will be in a position to assess, in an independent and impartial manner, all human rights and humanitarian law violations committed in the context of the Gaza conflict,” Goldstone said in a statement issued on Friday.

Other members of the group are Christine Chinkin, a British professor of international law, Hina Jilani, a Pakistani lawyer and retired Irish army colonel Desmond Travers.

Palestinian focus

The investigation’s mandate is to focus only on Palestinian victims of the 22-day war.

In depth


Analysis and features from after the war

More than 1,100 Palestinians were killed when Israel launched a two-week ground offensive on Gaza in December and January after a week of aerial bombardment.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights put the final death toll at 1,417, including 926 civilians, and published a list of their names.

The Israeli military, however, says only 295 civilians were among 1,116 Palestinians killed between December 27 and January 18, without providing a list of the dead.

It insists it did everything it could to prevent casualties among Gaza civilians during the war, including dropping leaflets and sending phone messages to civilians to evacuate certain areas.

The military also claims Hamas fighters used civilians as human shields, booby-trapped homes and shot at troops from densely populated areas.

Israeli co-operation

Israeli officials on Friday did not say whether or not they would co-operate with the UN investigation.

It has rejected previous human rights council investigations, including one led by Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, calling them “biased”.

The Israeli military earlier in the week closed its own investigation into claims that Israeli troops shot unarmed Palestinian women and children during the Gaza war.

Military investigators said on Monday that they “found crucial components of [the allegations] were based on hearsay and were not supported by specific personal knowledge”.

 Source: Agencies

Global ‘cyber spy’ network revealed

Global ‘cyber spy’ network revealed

The Canadian team said the “GhostNet” system was armed with sophisticated spy tools [GALLO/GETTY]

A cyber spy network based almost entirely in China has hacked into computer networks around the world, stealing classified information from governments and private organisations in more than 100 countries, a team of Canadian researchers has reported.

The system, dubbed “GhostNet” by the researchers, infiltrated networks in dozens of embassies, foreign ministries, government departments and offices in several cities belonging to the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan government-in-exile, the Canadian team said.

The network was uncovered after the Munk Centre for International Studies was initially approached by the Dalai Lama’s office to investigate allegations of Chinese espionage.

In over 10 months of study, they then found a far larger spy network, targeting more than 1,295 infected computers in 103 countries.

‘High-value targets’

According to one of the researchers, close to 30 per cent of the infected computers “are considered high-value political and economic targets”.

‘GhostNet’

Spy network based almost entirely in China, although it is not clear who is running it or for what purpose

 Network uses malicious software, or “malware” installed in remote computers, allowing hackers to retrieve files and information at will

 Software allows hackers to remotely switch on infected computers’ webcams and microphones, enabling them to listen in on conversations

 Researchers say at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries were found to be infected

They include computers located at ministries of foreign affairs, embassies, international organisations, news media, and NGOs, Ronald Deibert, director of Munk’s Citizen Lab, wrote in an email.

The study did not name specifically which governments had been targeted by the spy network, although the researchers said the system was focused on the governments of South and Southeast Asian nations.

They said they had seen no evidence that US government offices had been breached.

The researchers said the GhostNet system – which they described as still active – had been armed with a wide-ranging set of tools, including the ability to retrieve documents, and turn on web cameras and audio systems to act as remote listening posts.

The study found that the network was based almost exclusively in China, although the researchers stopped short of saying the Chinese government was involved in the system.

Easy to hide

“One of the characteristics of cyber-attacks of the sort we document here is the ease by which attribution can be obscured,” Deibert said.

Chinese officials have denied the government is involved in cyber spying [GALLO/GETTY]

“Regardless of who or what is ultimately in control of GhostNet, it is the capabilities of exploitation, and the strategic intelligence that can be harvested from it, which matters most.”

He said the study highlighted the growing capabilities of cyber attacks and the ease with which the internet can be used to gather high value and sensitive information.

Speaking to The New York Times, a spokesman for the Chinese Consulate in the city dismissed the idea China was involved.

“These are old stories and they are nonsense,” Wenqi Gao, told the paper.

“The Chinese government is opposed to and strictly forbids any cybercrime.”

Action: Ask Calif. Radio Station to Reprimand Anti-Muslim Hosts

April 2, 2009
Action Alert
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CAIR ACTION ALERT #572:

Action: Ask Calif. Radio Station to Reprimand Anti-Muslim Hosts
Segment misstated Muslim beliefs, mocked Islam and political participation by U.S. Muslims

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/2/2009) – CAIR today called on a San Francisco, Calif., radio station to reprimand two talk show hosts for a recent segment in which they mocked Islam, misstated Muslim beliefs and cast suspicion on political participation by American Muslims.

KSFO 560-AM host Brian Sussman and co-host “Officer Vic” said during their Monday program: “Islamic finance is about living within your means and helping the needy – unless they’re Jews,” and “The great honorable qualities of that good old time religion: honor killings, female circumcision, not allowing women to drive…Jews are monkeys, pigs.”

Listen to the audio.

CAIR is asking American Muslims and other people of conscience to contact KSFO officials and advertisers to express their concerns about the hosts’ anti-Muslim remarks.

“Radio hosts are free to hold bigoted views, but listeners have no obligation to subsidize those views by purchasing the goods or services of companies that choose to advertise on hate-filled programs,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “So-called ‘honor killings,’ female genital mutilation and not allowing women to drive are not part of Islam. Muslims respect Jews and Christians as ‘people of the book’ who received earlier revelations from God.”

He cited the Quran, Islam’s revealed text, which states: “Those who believe (in the Quran), those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), the Sabians, and the Christians – any who believe in God and the Last Day and work righteousness – on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Quran, 5:69)

Hooper said this was not the first time Sussman made offensive remarks relating to Islam. In 2005, he asked a caller to prove he was not Muslim by saying “Allah is a whore.” In 2007, another host at KSFO warned “enemy” Muslim nations: “You keep screwing around with stuff like this, we’re going to kill a bunch of you – millions of you.”

CAIR is part of the Hate Hurts America Multifaith Community Coalition (HHA), a group of religious and civic organizations seeking to challenge hate speech in American society.

HHA was formed as a result of radio talk show host Michael Savage’s rhetorical attacks on religious and ethnic minorities. It waged a successful campaign to urge advertisers to stop running commercials on Savage’s program. The coalition includes public officials and civil rights advocates, as well as representatives of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Latino, and Asian communities.

SEE: How Islamophobes Spread Fear, Bigotry and Misinformation

IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUESTED: (As always, be POLITE.)

1. CONTACT KSFO to express your concerns about the hosts’ anti-Muslim remarks and to ask that they be formally reprimanded.

CONTACT:

Mr. Michael Luckoff
President & General Manager
KSFO-AM
900 Front Street
Tel: (415) 954-8181
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Of Ganymedes

A teachers job is often thankless…I have known many who started the job with enthusiasm which declined as I watched…often exponentially.

But today, my day was made when I was presented with a set of jeans and T shirt by my erstwhile students.

Maybe they knew the drudge of a teacher since they were all three of them teachers themselves in other engineering colleges (and studying for M. Tech. here in TKM College of Engineering)

This is a new thing to me. 25 years of unrelenting sameness of students’ psychology turned me a cynic. Today the cynic is baffled. The optimist in me says “I told you so”.

Anyway my next classes will be a bit more sincere. The bright young faces who will sit before me in future classes will not listen to a jaded pessimist  but one who believes that his voice will be engraved in impressionable minds.

Muslim scholars denounce stone-throwing as ‘un-Islamic

Kashmir scholars denounce stone-throwing as ‘un-Islamic’

Religious scholars in Kashmir have denounced stone-throwing as “un-Islamic” in a fatwa.

 
Kashmiri Muslim demonstrators throw stones: rKashmir scholars denounce stone-throwing as 'un-Islamic'

Kashmiri Muslim demonstrators throw stones as Indian police clash with demonstrators during a protest in the Nowhatta area of Srinagar Photo: EPA

The fatwa follows a spate of clashes between local Muslim youths and Indian army troops in the capital Srinagar which have left more than 60 dead since last summer.

The clashes have become a regular fixture every Friday, when young men wearing headscarves pelt police and troops to protest against their presence in the state. Their attacks are apparently designed to replicate those against Israeli forces in Gaza’s Palestinian Authority.

A senior Islamic scholar has now called for an end to the attacks, which he said were forbidden by the Prophet Mohammed.

“Stone pelting cannot be justified. Islam is about discipline. [The] Prophet Muhammad, too, has asked us to refrain from it,” said Maulana Showkat Ahmed Shah , president of Jamiat-e-Ahli-Hadees. He quoted the Prophet, saying stone-throwing “neither hunts a game nor kills (or hurts) an enemy, but it gouges out an eye or breaks a tooth.” His call has been backed by Srinagar’s police chief, Afdallul Mujtaba.

It was rejected, however, by militant leaders in Kashmir, including Qazi Nisar, the chief priest who said it was justifiable resistance against Indian rule.

“People in Kashmir are fighting for their freedom and have no other means but to pelt stones to register protest,” said Asiya Andrabi, a senior militant leader in the state.

Priest won’t recant her faith in Islam

VirtueOnline – News – News – SEATTLE: Priest won’t recant her faith in Islam

SEATTLE: Priest won’t recant her faith in Islam

By Richard C. Dujardin
Journal Staff Writer
http://www.projo.com/religion/content/episcopal_muslim_priest_04-01-09_F3DT8I4_v15.36a8f35.html
April 1, 2009


The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, the Episcopal priest who has been told by Rhode Island Bishop Geralyn Wolf that she had until the end of March to recant her faith in Islam or face expulsion from the Episcopal priesthood, said Tuesday she still has no intention of doing so and realizes that by dawn Wednesday she may no longer be a priest.

Reached by phone as she was stepping into a language academy in Seattle where she has begun studying Arabic, Redding said she had spent part of Tuesday mourning her impending expulsion.

“There is an acknowledged sadness, because if it were not for the limited vision of one particular bishop I still might have been able to function as a priest.”

Although Redding has never ministered in Rhode Island since Bishop George N. Hunt, the then-bishop of Rhode Island, ordained her 25 years ago, she has remained, at least until now, under the jurisdiction of Rhode Island’s bishop because she has never changed her canonical residence.

Bishop Wolf – who plans to release a statement on Wednesday – initially called Redding back from Seattle in 2007 after learning, at a bishop’s meeting, that Redding had converted to Islam while continuing to serve in the Olympia, Wash., diocese as an Episcopal priest. Redding’s unusual step did not seem to raise the ire of the then-bishop of Olympia, who called her move innovative.

Bishop Wolf – who plans to issue a statement on Redding on Wednesday – said she became particularly concerned because Redding had publicly recited the Shahada, the statement of belief that is at the cornerstone of becoming a Muslim and that she was attending prayer services at a mosque in Seattle.

Bishop Wolf has repeatedly insisted that such a melding of two faiths is impossible because of key differences between the two particularly on such things as belief in the incarnation and belief in Jesus as the only-begotten son of God. After initially placing Redding on a year-long suspension from priestly duties that lasted an additional two months to give her time to reconsider, she warned Redding in September that she had six months to recant or be deposed.

On Tuesday, Redding said she still sees herself as both Muslim and Christian and sees no reason to change.

“I am Muslim and I am a Christian and Episcopalian,” she said. “I will continue to follow the path that God has called me.”

Redding said she fully expects that when she rises Wednesday sometime between dusk and dawn, she will recite the first of the five prayers that the faith requires Muslims to recite each day. She will also gather at the local mosque for community prayer services, and on the weekend, visit a local Episcopal parish for Christian worship.

“I know that not all places are happy with my presence,” she said. “This is not about making people uncomfortable or making them feel their spaces are being violated. So I go to places where people recognize me as a Christian.”

On Thursday, the day after her 25th anniversary of her ordination to the priesthood, Redding marked the anniversary with a book signing celebrating the publication of a new book, Out of Darkness Into Light, that she had co-authored, looking at the Koran from Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives. On Wednesday evening she is expected to be the subject of a profile on CNN.

Ruth Meteer, communications officer for the Diocese of Rhode Island, said Bishop Wolf was waiting until the last minute to see if Redding changed her mind, and will release a statement on Wednesday.

Twitter updates: The G20 summit

Twitter updates: The G20 summit


Thousands of activists and trade unionists have protested ahead of the summit [AFP]

Stay up-to-date with the latest developments at the G20, with reports from our correspondents in and around the conference at Al Jazeera’s G20 Twitter channel.

If you would like to receive updates directly to your mobile device, activate ‘device update’ on your Twitter account settings and ensure you are following ‘AJEG20’.

Al Jazeera’s correspondents at the G20 summit

Alan Fisher
(AF)
@ the G20
summit
Jonah Hull 
(JH)
@ the G20
summit
Hamish
MacDonald
(HM)
@ the G20
protests
Nazanine Moshiri (NM)
@ the G20
protests
Rob Reynolds      (RR)
with US President Barack Obama
  Camille El Hassani (CE)
with US President Barack Obama

 

*This application utilises the Adobe Flash player and may take a couple of minutes to load.

 Source: Al Jazeera

Who are the G20 protesters?

Al Jazeera English – THE 2009 G20 LONDON SUMMIT – Who are the G20 protesters?

Who are the G20 protesters?
By Jacqueline Head in London
A range of protests are taking place ahead of and on the day of the G20 summit [AFP]
A range of protests are taking place ahead of and on the day of the G20 summit [AFP]

Thousands of people from a large range of groups including anti-capitalists, environmental activists and those angry at the global economic downturn are protesting in London in advance of Thursday’s G20 summit.

Many are using social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, to drum up support and organise events, as well as broadcast their messages to the wider public.

Anti-capitalists

Anti-capitalist protesters have harnessed the recession as a vehicle to promote their ideology to people disillusioned with the government’s handling of the economic crisis.

The “G20 meltdown”, which is planning “four horsemen of the Apocalypse” processions through the city, aims to protest outside banking institutions, winding up at the Bank of England on Wednesday.

Follow Al Jazeera’s correspondents at the G20 Summit

Its campaign points to the collapse of world markets as a sign that “capitalism is not working”, and adds free markets have been “heating up our world for years, melting the icecaps, burning up the rainforests, pushing the planet to tipping point”.

Another group, the Government of the Dead, suggests Wednesday is the day to “dance on the grave of capitalism” with a “Financial Fools Day Party”.

These groups, once viewed as traditionally anti-establishment, could be joined by those with more moderate views, including workers and those hit by the economic crisis.

The “Youth Fight for Jobs Campaign”, which will take place on Thursday, is a sign of added social unrest due to the recession.

The campaign calls for a “bailout for the rest of us” with better pay and conditions for young workers, along with an end to university fees.

Environmental activists

Groups urging action on climate change have also linked their campaigns to the current economic crisis.

In depth
 

The Climate Camp, which blames the “failed economic system” for looming environmental catastrophe is planning to protest outside the European Climate Exchange.

Kevin Smith, a participant from the group, told Al Jazeera they had chosen the spot because “carbon trading hasn’t worked, and it’s not going to work”.

The group believes carbon trading is used by wealthy industrialised nations to avoid reducing their emissions by trading carbon credits amongst themselves.

Smith said the group, which plans to set up a 24-hr camp outside the exchange, “hopes to provoke a critical awareness that the type of measures G20 are going to propose won’t work” to solve climate change.

“The type of measures G20 are proposing are essentially at odds with getting back on track on climate change. We want solutions to come from the real people, the public,” he said.

A global “Fossil Fools Day” will also have a large presence at G20 protests, which aims to “end of the fossil fuel empire” and begin a “more just and sustainable world”.

An “ice-berg demo” is also planned to take place outside the Excel Centre, where the G20 summit will be held, with participants encouraged to bring ice cubes to highlight the rise of global warming.

Anti-war groups

A “jobs not bombs” protest is being planned outside the US embassy on Wednesday, followed by a march to Trafalgar Square, organised by Stop the War Coalition.

Protest groups on Saturday urged G20 leaders to ‘put people first’ [ GALLO/GETTY]
The economy is also being used as a tool by anti-war campaigners, with anger over the amount of money being spent on war and saving financial institutions.

David Wilson, from the coalition, told Al Jazeera there is a stronger trend towards activism this year “because people are fed up”.

“There’s always money for wars and bankers but no money for civilised society,” he said. Protest groups on Saturday urged G20 leaders to ‘put people first’ [ GALLO/GETTY]

The group are calling on Barack Obama, the US president, to pull troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, self-determination for Palestine, an end to nuclear weapons, along with a call for jobs to be created instead of bombs.

Alternative summit

A summit that aims to promote alternative ideas and strategies for politics, the environment and the economy will be held a day ahead of the G20 conference.

The summit, launched in direct response to the meeting of world leaders, will include a number of well-known speakers including Ken Livingstone, former London mayor, and Tariq Ali, novelist and political campaigner.

The Alternative London Summit says it is for “everyone who thinks that the bankers and politicians in their pay have been making a mess of things and need to be sacked and replaced”.

A number of anarchist groups are also expected to join protests, calling for a change in society and an end to the rich elite.

Some British press have highlighted concern that anarchist groups secretly plan to storm banks or cause protests to turn violent, while others are pointing to an increased police presence.
Source: Al Jazeera

How Laura converted to Islam

3.1.09

CS: How Laura converted to Islam

my name is laura and i am an 22 years old german convert. i was raised in a christian family, protestant. the family of my father is atheist but my father converted to christianity when he got cancer in 1984. The family of my mother is very practicing religious, my grandfather was pastor and my uncle still is a pastor (i dont even know if pastor is the right word for a protestant?).

my father died in 1992 when i was 6 and my brother 8, from that time on my mother raised us alone and did her job very very well, may Allah reward her for everything she did and sacrificed for us, ameen.

maybe a bit similar to you i was raised christian but we were not practicing. when my father was still with us he used to take us to church every sunday but after his death we never went again, maybe just sometimes when my grandfather or my uncle had a special speech.
as i became a teenager i started to doubt some things like how could jesus be the son of god and at the same time father, son and holy ghost? so i started to become even more distant to my religion…when i was 16 years old i went for one year to brazil to live there as an exchange student. i was located in the north-east, the city called Recife and though this country is amazingly beautiful it is so poor and dangerous, especially where i lived at that time!
i had really so much fear, i was afraid that i would never return to germany or at least not in good conditions! and so i started to search for protection, first physical protection, but there was none! one day i realised the only one who can protect me and support me and bring me home safe is god, and the only way for me to get close to him is by having a religion i could believe in.
i remember that in a letter to my friend i wrote her that when i get home healthy and in good condition i would start to believe in god. so, still in brazil i started to search for a religion that would be right for me, that i could believe in without doubt and that could finally give the peace to my heart and take away my fear. i started to search about the very basic ideas of any religions… i read about hinduism, buddism and so on… i think they had very nice ideas and beautiful thoughts but it was nothing touching my heart.
then finally i read about islam, that there is just one god who sends his message by his prophets and so on… and i felt like i came home, like i had entered a room i knew very very well but i just havent been there for so long time… i thought, why do you tell me all this, i know that this is the truth for so long time, al hamdoulilah!!!
i returned very healthy and happy to germany in summer 2003 and i believed in god!!! i returned to brazil twice in the following years for vacations just to try to realise what had happened to me and how much i had been blessed with every experience i made, maybe that was His way to guide me, to wake me up and to change my life…at christmas 2003 i met a very nice girl from iraq and i told her that i knew islam was my truth but i had no sources to get more information.. al hamdoulilah she helped me, gave me a quran and took me to a mosque in her city… from that time on i started to read as much as i could get… books about islam, about women in the middle east and so on and so on…
when i became 18 years old i was sure that now i knew enough about islam to say that it was the right way for me, and so i converted few days after my birthday, in february 2004, al hamdoulilah. first i told my mommy and my brother, and al hamdoulilah they took it very nice!!! my mother said once that she knew that when she, coming from a very religious background, raised her children not so practicing one would go back to a religion, she didnt knew which religion but anyways she knew it 🙂 and my brother loves everything i do, hes just too cute!!!
the only problem i was facing was the fact that i wanted to wear hijab like one year after my conversion. my mother was first very much against it, on one hand because she just didnt understand the meaning and advantage of hijab and on the other hand because i come from east germany, and its really not easy for foreigners (or foreign-looking people) in east germany, believe me!!! so she was afraid that i would face discrimination or have major problems just because of hijab. but after she saw how comfortable and well i felt in my hijab she got very quickly on my side and supported me wherever she could, al hamdoulilah!!!
after some time all my family knew about it and accepted me as i am, like always!!! al hamdoulilah, i dont know how i deserve all these blessings, al hamdoulilah al hamdoulilah!!! i dont think that ive lost friends because i came to islam, i have lost friends when i went to brazil or when i finished high-school and moved but the very important people in my life are still on my side before and after islam, al hamdoulilah!!! after finishing high school i moved to west germany because with hijab you are not very welcome in the east, unfortunately. and i dont want to live somewhere where people stare very angry at you and tell you to go back to your country because here you are stealing their jobs…
anyways all these little problems are nothing compared to the blessings i got. my heart feels so warm and wide, there are so many tears inside of me, tears of joy!! my life is very calm now, very peaceful and serene. i am still studying… allahu alem where i will go, allahu alem when and whom i am going to marry someday, allahu alem what will happen in my future but i know everything will be like it should be because i am in His hands, i am here to serve Him and He is here to guide me and protect me and let me go through the things He has prepared for me, al hamdoulilah!
thank you very much for reading these lines. may Allah bless you. as salamu aleikum,
ur sister… ur laura

28 opinions:

*~Ange~* said…

i love your pic Laura. You look so cute in abaya and hijab!

kakchik said…

I just love her, her pic too and her story, it’s humbling to know that she found Allah just because she wants protection from this dangerous world and she found it on her own.

ZAIDI said…

Allah bless u

Natasa said…

it is so sad that Laura beside her uncle and grandfather never heard Jesus’ good news… when I read converts stories most of them said that they were raised in Christian families but from their explanations is obvious that maybe they called themselves Christians but they didn’t have Jesus… they maybe went to church but they weren’t part of His body… BIG difference… Christians are those who follow Jesus in their action, words, lifestyle, who have His spirit in them, who are transformed by His Spirit and Word…. sorry, but I had to say this…

*~Ange~* said…

Natasa – for us that isnt the issue.. its usually because we grow up Christian but dont accept that God had a son or is apart of a trinity and so on. We believe God is ONE only.
When we come to know that Islam sees jesus as a prophet like all other prophets – then that makes sense to us.
Especially when jesus himself never said he was God and when asked he said basically “Everything i do is through God, i do nothing nothing of myself”

Mona said…

What a great story, I love this series.

washi said…

Mash’Allah Laura, your story is so inspiring!!
Ange, I agree with Mona…keep them coming 🙂

Ameenah said…

MashaAllah Laura you’re story was inspiring! May Allah bless you and keep you protected. Ameen!

Natasa said…

I know how Islam think of Jesus… but His words don’t allow this opinion… I just don’t understand why all of you converts say that you are “ex-Christians” when is obvious from yours testimonies that you didn’t have deep inner relationship with Jesus (I don’t speak of empty theology, christless religion, go-to-church thing)…

*~Ange~* said…

we cant have an inner-relationship or any kind of ‘relationship’ with jesus because he was a prophet. A messenger from God but still a man.

The only inner-relationship we can have is with God himself – not his prophets.

We look to prophets as an example of how to live our lives, but we dont claim to have them within us or have a relationship with them.

please explain what u mean by “His words don’t allow this opinion”

Anonymous said…

Salam. This is a very touching story. Thanks to both Laura and Ange. I love this series too.
Ruth

Laura said…

as salamu aleikum to you all.

thank u very much for all these sweet and warm words!!!
may Allah bless and guide us all, ameen.

@Ange: concerning that abaya, actually it was you who inspired me to wear abaya and so after some research on fashion and stuff i started to sew them by my self and now i just wear abaya and feel very happy. so thank you very much because u helped me to make this decision.
yazak Allah kheir

take care, laura

*~Ange~* said…

laura – aaww shucks.. alhamdulilah.

well honestly you look soo cute in abaya!

you should show us how you make them!

Laura said…

hehhee, ur soo sweet ur self dear!!! well, inshallah in february ill have more time to make a new abaya so then ill make some pictures inshallah and tell you how i did it… inshallah

ma salamah

Pixie said…

Natasa: I WAS raised by a very practicing Christian family while not my own, and they are still most deeply accepting of my conversion to Islam (my Catholic mother is not, nor my agnostic father), but Ange is right, I personally had a deep relationship with Jesus, as I love him, but I rejected people saying he was the son of God. It is not a thing that made his life of any value. It is not a thing he ever said himself. It is not historically based, but is in fact imitation of some basic bleeding god mythology such as the Egyptian Horus, and some other Celtic God who is crucified, but very familiar to Romans and that area at the time. The Catholic Church (a little after early Christianity where there still hadn’t been the conference of Nicea—I am talking after they HAD the vote to decide Jesus was the son of God) the Church inherited the mythology of Isis for Mary, and Jesus’s story became woefully similair to a that of a Celtic pagan God who has crucified on a cross and rose from the dead. Anyways, as a Muslim, there were too many holes in the story to rely on it, even raised in the strong Christian practicing background I was surrounded in (the women in that household were more similar to my Islamic beliefs than indeed many Muslims).

Noor Dini: MashaAllah. May Allah S.W.T bless you and keep you safe, ameen.

Pixie said…

Laura: May Allah S.W.T bless you also, increase your imaan, and keep you safe, ameen.

*~Ange~* said…

im actually reading a historical book now written by a clergyman of the church and its all about the beginnings of christianity in Rome.
Pixie is right – they threw so many different beliefs into Christianity from previous relligions.. then comes the Council at Nicea where they even voted on women’s roles in the Church and basically had them demoted in every way possible way. Even during this time some major Christian groups protested and denounced the Council’s version of Christianity and rejected the idea of Jesus being God and opposed this idea as sinful and against Jesus’ true teachings. But with Rome being Rome, their ‘put-together’ voted-on version reigned supreme and is now what we know as the Catholic Church.
So Natasa – as much as we all love Prophet Jesus and respect and follow his teachings, we do not accept that he is God. And we do not accept the Bible 100% because that book has been changed sooo much in History by the Church and Kings, that to this day no Bible we read today matches word for word the oldest Bibles still in human hands. and did you know that also at the Council of Nicea these men voted on what BOOKS would be included in the Bible? They excluded some books such as the Gospel of Barnabas which was actually written by a companion of Jesus (who by the way claims that Jesus was not God and purely a man and even states that jesus was angry at people who worshipped him) and instead decided to include 4 gospels by 4 men, who have no last names (bit strange for any historical writer) who lived after Jesus’ death and never met the man… and coincedently have word-for-word sentences in each other’s gospels, which makes Biblical Scholars theorise that they were copied off each other (in particular the gospel according to Mark.

Diali said…

nice story Laura,
May Allah make us better muslims
Amine

NiDa said…

MashaAllah Laura – deine geschichte ist wirklich sehr schon – und ja ich weiss genau wast du meinst mit Ost Deutchland, da hab ich auch fuhr jahre gelebt und weil ich dan nicht islam practiciert habe wahr ich immer nuhr ein auslender :(!

Aalia said…

Very beautiful & touching story!! Barak Allahu feeki for sharing it with us and inspiring us, Sister 😀 You do look very beautiful in the jilbab, BTW!

To Natasa & All: No Christian in this world today follows what Jesus truly taught. The only group of people who did were the people who lived during the Messiah’s time and followed his true message after he ascended into Heaven. They were of course persecuted for preaching Islam by way of Jesus’ statements.

(Why was there a vote for deciding if Jesus really was the “son of God”?)

Believing in the miracle birth of the blessed Virgin Maryam (who is accredited as being one of the most purest women in history and will be one of the 4 women leading us) is obligatory on every Muslim. To deny the birth, life and miracles of Jesus (by the permission of Allah) is to deny the Quran and various ahadith that speak of the matter.

OKay, I am done now 😀

Anonymous said…

I am glad you found a religion you can believe in. you never had that before your conversion. you never really knew Jesus before and don’t know Him know. you believe he was born miraculously, but don’t see hoe He could be a man and God at the same time. The One God of all that is created. The council of Nicea may have voted on that matter, but it was definitely not when that was first believed. Jesus Himself said He was God, Paul expressed that belief throughout the new testament. Hebrews and Colossians especially defend who Jesus Christ was thought to be. It’s not too late to get to know Him and Ii pray that you do.

*~Ange~* said…

look anon.. i could sit here and type away all my beliefs against the trinity, jesus as god, the nicea council, integration of pagan religions into christianity.. i would be here all day.
im firm in islam. you can pray all you want… it aint gonna happen.
pray for something more important – like peace for palestine.
And when you pray – make sure it is to God and not to Jesus – so Allah will hear you.

ipv6 said…

@Natasa
To be a Christian one dont need to have a deep inner relationship with Jesus. They belief in the basic principal of Christianity..either they pactice it or not that was a different matters all together. Many Christian in the world doest life as Christian should.Some merely a born Christian, the attand the sunday church yet doent have deep inner relationship wth the Jesus. Many of them in the US, and they happily celebrated the christmas…
Looking at your words, you have read(learn?) a bit about Islam and their prophets. I would encourage you my dear, to read some more…
I won’t accentuate anything here, just read and ponder. be fair and weight between the two.untill then have a interesting journey then.

@laura
Salam,
Yours case is not an isolated cases, many has been travel the same journey before you and saw the significant differences beween their old faith and the religion of Islam. The new gain knowledge have englighten then like never before…especially for the Cristian they can reconnect the chain of events and fill the gap that is abundance in the Bible(of many version) as well as the contradiction within the scriptures themself.

*~Ange~* said…

IPV6 –
that is a pefect way to describe it..

filling in the gaps and reconnecting. that is exactly how i felt when i was still not a muslim but learning about islam.. i felt like i was putting the missing pieces of a puzzle together

Girly said…

Ange and Pixie, you two gave great explanations for your beliefs.
Laura: I wish I has as much stregth as you. May Allah SWT continue to bless you.

amy said…

salam laura,
may Allah be with u ALWAYS 🙂 ur story really have touched me today.

ipv6 said…

As a christian before, it should’nt be any difficulty to see the contradict scriptures in their holly book(as some part has been long lost(due to effect of nature and unsophisticated writting material) and some parts has been alter by human to their liking), on how many big wing and factions that don’t even recognized others as Christian..

sepha said…

hi Laura!
your post intrigued me so much that i couldnt sleep for like 2 nights! I am also german and 20 years old…and still struggling with my faith! It’s amazing how your mother accepted your choice…i wished my mum would, too!

umm, there are so many questions i’d love to ask you…

wslm 🙂
sepha

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Enhancing the contrast sensitivity function through action video game training

Nature Neuroscience
Published online: 29 March 2009 | doi:10.1038/nn.2296

Enhancing the contrast sensitivity function through action video game training

Renjie Li1, Uri Polat2, Walter Makous1 & Daphne Bavelier1


The contrast sensitivity function (CSF) is routinely assessed in clinical evaluation of vision and is the primary limiting factor in how well one sees. CSF improvements are typically brought about by correction of the optics of the eye with eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgery. We found that the very act of action video game playing also enhanced contrast sensitivity, providing a complementary route to eyesight improvement.


Contrast sensitivity, the ability to detect small increments in shades of gray on a uniform background, is one of the main limiting factors in a wide variety of visual tasks1. Unfortunately, it is one of the aspects of vision that is most easily compromised. This problem affects thousands of people worldwide, including those with professional activities requiring excellent eyesight, aging populations2 and individuals who are clinically evaluated for vision problems such as amblyopia3. Although deterioration of the optical quality of the eye can decrease contrast sensitivity3, optical changes alone cannot account for the diverse array of situations in which the CSF is compromised. Instead, neural factors also appear to be at work. It may therefore be possible to develop interventions that enhance the CSF through neural plasticity. Such an intervention would be of great clinical benefit as a complement to the standard clinical approaches, which are mainly directed at enhancing the optical quality of the eye.

Sizeable performance improvements, brought about through brain plasticity, have been documented in various aspects of vision after training4. Yet identification of a training regimen that can improve the CSF, or contrast detection, has remained elusive. Training-induced improvements have been reported for contrast discrimination5 but not for contrast detection6, 7. In addition, the documented improvements are typically restricted to the trained stimulus, limiting their practical and theoretical value. The CSF per se has proven difficult to improve. There are some indications that radiologists may exhibit enhanced contrast sensitivity8, but the causal effect of experience remains to be established. Studies that directly address training-induced changes in contrast detection show improvements only when using experimental conditions that are known to produce poor performance, such as testing away from fixation or using diagonal orientations9, 10. Yet, to be clinically relevant, CSF improvements need to be documented in foveal vision and with cardinal orientations, where human performance is at its best. To the best of our knowledge, CSF improvements under these optimal conditions have not previously been demonstrated. Here, we identified action video game playing as an efficient tool to enhance the CSF.

Expert action video game players (VGPs) were compared to gender- and age-matched non–action game players (NVGPs) in a CSF procedure11 (Fig. 1a and Supplementary Note 1 online). Because we were interested in the effect of gaming on everyday eyesight, participants were tested binocularly with their current eye prescription. We were interested in whether vision, which should not be far from optimal under such conditions in young adults, may be further heightened by action video game practice. The VGP group showed enhanced contrast sensitivity as compared with the NVGP group, and this population difference interacted with spatial frequency, indicating a greater group difference at intermediate and higher spatial frequencies than at the lowest spatial frequency (Fig. 1b). A similar spatial-frequency dependency has been reported in the aging and in the amblyopia literature and has been attributed to changes in cortical processing rather than to alterations of peripheral, eye-related factors. We propose that the changes that we observed after action game playing also reflect cortical plasticity, but for the better in this case.

Figure 1: Improved CSF as a result of action video game experience.

Figure 1 : Improved CSF as a result of action video game experience.

(a) The CSF was assessed at five different spatial frequencies (1.5, 3, 6, 9 and 12 cycles per degree) by using a two-interval forced-choice procedure in which subjects had to decide which of two intervals, each marked by the presence of four peripheral cross-hairs, contained a Gabor patch. Unlike in the typical clinical procedure, the size of the Gabor patch was scaled with frequency so that the space constant of the Gabor was equal to one period of the grating at all frequencies. A trial consisted of a 30-ms Gabor signal and a 30-ms blank screen, separated by an 800-ms interval. Participants were asked to indicate which 30-ms interval marked by the cross-hairs contained the Gabor signal11. Contrast of the Gabor was modulated in 0.1-log-unit steps following a 3-up–1-down staircase to find the 79% threshold. (b) Contrast sensitivity as a function of spatial frequency in VGPs (n = 10) versus NVGPs (n = 10) and in the action-trained (n = 6) and control-trained groups (n = 7) pre- and post-training. VGPs showed higher contrast sensitivity (plotted in log units) than NVGPs (group effect: F1,18 = 9.37, P = 0.007, partial eta squared (etap2) = 0.34). This group difference was greater at intermediate and higher spatial frequencies (F4,72 = 2.48, P = 0.05, etap2 = 0.12). In the training experiment, the action-trained group showed a significant improvement in contrast sensitivity as a result of training, whereas no such change was noted in the control-trained group (pre/post times group interaction: F1,11 = 5.65, P = 0.04, etap2 = 0.34). Curves were obtained by smoothed interpolation between data points. Error brackets are s.e.m. *P < 0.05, **P < 0.01.

Full size image (70 KB)


To unambiguously establish the causal effect of action gaming, we conducted an intensive training study (50 h over 9 weeks) on a small sample of NVGPs. Training consisted of one of two conditions: each trainee played either experimental, action video games (action group played Unreal Tournament 2004 by Atari and Call of Duty 2 by Infinity Ward) or a control, non–action video game (control group played The Sims 2 by Electronic Arts). Like the experimental games, the control game was chosen to be visually complex and engaging, but it differed by having a slower pace and by not requiring precise, visually guided aiming actions (Supplementary Note 2 online). A few days before and after the training period, participants’ CSFs were assessed as described above. Action-trained participants improved significantly more than the control-trained participants (P = 0.04), establishing the causal effect of game playing and ruling out any interpretation of these results in terms of a simple test-retest improvement. In addition, the use of another video game–trained group as a control group ensured that all participants received equal contact with experimenters, limiting any possible social attention effect, such as the so-called Hawthorne effect. Finally, the use of a video game as control training also ensured that the control group, like the experimental group, was engaged in a stimulating video game–related activity. The size of the effect, albeit small in log units (0.16–0.2), represented a large percentage improvement (43–58%) and was extremely robust across the population (Supplementary Note 3 online) .

To further confirm a change in contrast sensitivity, we evaluated the integration time for contrast detection at an intermediate spatial frequency (6 cycles per degree) by measuring contrast sensitivity as stimulus duration varied. The contrast sensitivity–duration reciprocity function is well fit by an exponential saturation function representing the response of a linear low-pass filter12. Critical duration is defined as the exposure duration at which the contrast sensitivity reaches 90% of its asymptotic value and reflects the time constant for contrast sensitivity (Fig. 2a). A shorter critical duration indicates greater sensitivity, with less overall energy being necessary for detection to occur. As predicted, VGPs showed a significantly shorter critical duration than NVGPs (Fig. 2b, P = 0.02). A training study confirmed the causal effect of action game playing in the reduction in integration time (Fig. 2b and Supplementary Note 4 online).

Figure 2: Improved critical duration as a result of action video game experience.

Figure 2 : Improved critical duration as a result of action video game experience.

(a) Contrast sensitivity (plotted in log units) at 6 cycles per degree as a function of display duration (10, 20, 30, 60, 120 and 180 ms) for VGPs (n = 7) versus NVGPs (n = 9), and the action-trained (n = 13) and control-trained groups (n = 9) pre- and post-training. Curves are maximum-likelihood fits of the exponential saturation function log(CS) = log(CSmax) – ae-t/tau, where t is the time in milliseconds, CSmax is the asymptote, a is the amplitude and tau is the time constant. Exponential fits to the individual data were good (VGP, r2 = 0.99; NVGP, r2 = 0.98). (b) Critical duration was shorter in VGPs than NVGPs (group effect: F1,14 = 6.60, P = 0.02, etap2 = 0.30); in the training study, the action-trained group showed reduced critical duration post-training, whereas the control-trained group did not (pre/post times group interaction: F1,20 = 6.35, P = 0.02, etap2 = 0.24). Error brackets are s.e.m. *P < 0.05, **P < 0.01.

Full size image (61 KB)


Playing action video games resulted in an enhanced CSF and a shorter integration time for contrast sensitivity. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report to identify a training regimen that improves performance over nearly the entire CSF in adults. These improvements were induced in central vision in young, healthy adults, supposedly at the prime of their visual abilities. This is of practical importance when driving at night or under degraded conditions, as well as during activities such as reading, which are known to correlate with CSF at 6 cycles per degree13. More generally, our results establish that time spent in front of a computer screen is not necessarily detrimental to vision. The positive effect remained months and even years after training, indicating long-lasting gains (Supplementary Note 5 online). Although the mechanism of this generalized enhancement remains to be elucidated, potential candidates for such perceptual learning include sharpening, gain enhancement or template retuning through feedback and/or lateral connections14.

Our results reveal previously unsuspected plastic potentiality in the adult visual system. We found that the benefits of action video game playing are not restricted to attentionally demanding situations (Supplementary Note 6 online), in which the target has to be selected from among distractors15. Instead, improvements generalized to a visual skill as basic as detecting a single low-contrast Gabor patch. Video game training, therefore, may become a useful complement to eye-correction techniques that are routinely used in the clinic to improve eyesight. Although the underlying cortical plasticity that is induced is likely to be most beneficial for central deficits such as amblyopia, video game playing may also compensate to some extent for optical and retinal defects by retraining the visual cortex to make a better use of the information that it receives, however degraded. Notably, our data establish that not all video games induce such a benefit, calling for special care in the choice of a clinically relevant training regimen.

Note: Supplementary information is available on the Nature Neuroscience website.

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Acknowledgments

We thank C.S. Green for his invaluable help and advice throughout this project, and A. Anderson, S. Bailey, A. Katz, M. Maciejewski, A. States, P. Santos and B. Hubert-Wallander for their help in running the training studies. This work was supported in part by grants from the US National Institutes of Health (EY016880), the James S. McDonnell Foundation and the Office of Naval Research to D.B. and the Israel Science Foundation to U.P.

Received 29 December 2008; Accepted 13 February 2009; Published online 29 March 2009.

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References

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  1. Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department and Center for Visual Science, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA.
  2. Goldschleger Eye Research Institute, Tel Aviv University, Tel Hashomer, Israel.

Correspondence to: Daphne Bavelier1 e-mail: daphne@cvs.rochester.edu

Hadith: Prayer Lights Up a Home

March 31, 2009

* Hadith: Prayer Lights Up a Home
* CAIR-Chicago Condemns Hate Speech by IL GOP Candidate
o Racist Freeper Actually GOP Candidate (Wonkette)
* CAIR-LA: Japanese-American, Muslim Youth Exchange
o CAIR-LA: Museum of Tolerance: Intolerant?
* CAIR-OH: Tracked by Spies and Informers
* CAIR-CAN: Muslims Call for ‘Consistent’ Stand on Free Speech
* MI: Archbishop Meets with Muslims at Mosque (Detroit News)
* CA: UCLA Students Launch Campaign to Add Mideast Category

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HADITH OF THE DAY: PRAYER LIGHTS UP A HOME – TOP

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The voluntary prayers of a man in his home are a light. Whoever wishes should light up his home (with prayer).”

Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 2

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CAIR-CHICAGO CONDEMNS HATE SPEECH BY IL GOP CANDIDATE – TOP

(CHICAGO, IL, 3/31/09) – A number of religious and civil rights groups today held a news conference to condemn intolerant and hateful remarks made by Rosanna Pulido, the GOP candidate for the 5th congressional district seat.

“Ms. Pulido’s statements under the blog moniker “Chicagolady” contain vicious remarks maligning groups such as Catholics, Mexicans, Muslims, immigrants, and gays,” said Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Chicago. “All Americans including Pulido are entitled to a free opinion; by the same logic, we are entitled to oppose bigotry, particularly from those seeking leadership positions within our country.”

Speakers at the news conference included Juan Salgado, Board President of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; Reema Ahmad, Government Affairs Coordinator of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Chicago; Junaid Afeef, Executive Director of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC); Jane Ramsey, Executive Director of Jewish Council of Urban Affairs; Father Larry Dowling from Priests for Justice for Immigrants; Shayla King, NAACP student chapter president, Loyola University of Chicago.

CONTACT: Catherine Salgado, Communications Director, ICIRR, E-Mail: csalgado@icirr.org, 312.332.7360 x 235; Reem Rahman, Communications Coordinator, CAIR-Chicago, 217.493.0912; E-Mail: communications@cairchicago.org

SEE ALSO:

ANONYMOUS RACIST FREEPER IS ACTUALLY… REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE TO REPLACE RAHM – TOP
Wonkette, 3/31/09

In early March, a gal named Rosanna Pulido won the Republican primary for the upcoming special congressional election in Illinois’ District 5, Rahm Emanuel’s former kingdom. She will lose. But not before making the funnies! She was the founder of the Illinois chapter of the Minutemen, because she *hates* the Mexicans. Once in a CNN interview she described John McCain as “just another politician that acts as if he was elected to represent the Mexican government.” Well maybe he was! AND YET, her most delightful comments came under the name “chicagolady” on the Free Republic website, where she wrote hilarious racist blather for five years until being recently outed…

Oh and she hates the Muslims too, but probably only because she thinks they’re Mexicans. Here she jokes about how funny the Muslims look when they pray to their Mexican God:

It reminds me of my dog, smelling buts…

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JAPANESE-AMERICAN, MUSLIM YOUTH TO PARTICIPATE IN LEARNING EXCHANGE – TOP
‘Bridging Communities’ initiative to culminate in 40th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage

(LOS ANGELES, CA, 3/31/09) Beginning February 21, some 40 high school students from Southern California will learn about the Islamic and Japanese cultures, with topics ranging from ethnic identity, culture/religion, civil rights activism, and experiences following the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks.

The series of cultural program are the fist of their kind in the Southland, and serve to connect youth from the Japanese-American and American Muslim communities. The program is being organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations Greater Los Angeles Area (CAIR-LA), the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California (ISCSC), Japanese American Citizens League – Pacific Southwest District (JACL-PSW) and Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress (NCRR).

Some of the participants come from the cities of Claremont, Walnut, Corona, Rancho Palos Verdes, Yorba Linda, and Anaheim. Muslim participants are available for media interviews upon request.

WHAT: Bridging Communities Program, a four-day program meant to teach Muslim- and Japanese-American high school youth about each other’s heritage and experiences.
WHEN: On Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 21, March 14, April 4, April 25
WHERE: Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, Islamic Center of Irvine, Little Tokyo, and Manzanar a former Japanese American internment camp

The last day of Building Communities program will culminate in a trip to Manzanar National Historic Site. The Manzanar pilgrimage is intended to raise awareness of civil rights abuses in America’s past with the aim of preventing them from being repeated. Formerly known as “Manzanar War Relocation Center,” the central California site was one of ten internment camps that held more than 10,000 Japanese-American men, women, and children during the war. This year will mark the 40th anniversary of Manzanar Pilgrimage.

“It’s important for Muslim and Japanese youth to learn from each other’s struggles in efforts to advance the cause of civil rights in our nation,” said Affad Shaikh, civil rights manager at CAIR-LA.

SEE: Pilgrimage to Manzanar

Last year, CAIR-LA organized a group of more than 100 Muslims from Southern California to participate in the Manzanar visit. A documentary was subsequently made about the visit and the bonds that were formed between members of the Muslim and Japanese American communities.

SEE:CAIR-LA Documentary of 2008 Manzanar Pilgrimage

CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Manager Munira Syeda, 714-776-1847, 714-851-4851; E-Mail: info@losangeles.cair.com

SEE ALSO:

CAIR-LA: MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE: INTOLERANT? – TOP
Osma Dossani, al-Talib (Muslim Student Newsmagazine at UCLA), 3/30/09

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which has built the Museum of Tolerance here in LA, has been issued the permit to build a Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem. There is some tension behind this because the site includes a Muslim cemetery.

“This issue ought to be judged with knowledge,” said Ran Boytner, an Israeli-born archaeology professor here at UCLA. After interviewing the opposing sides, namely the Museum of Tolerance and the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Los Angeles, with the additional help of Ran Boytner, the truth finally emerged.

Ran Boytner affirmed that the site they are going to build on is a Muslim cemetery. “It’s definitely a Muslim cemetery, there’s no question about that,” Boytner stated. He said that it was partially covered by a parking lot sixty years ago, and while the reasons for the building of that car park are nebulous, the fact is that there is a car park there that is on top of human remains.

CAIR also confirms that the site of the new museum is also the site of a Muslim cemetery there. This is the whole reason they are against it. Munira Syeda, a representative of CAIR-Los Angeles, said, “We never said, ‘don’t build,’ we just want it to be moved elsewhere. Not doing so will further the tension and animosity between Muslim and Jewish communities. Companions of Prophet Muhammad and other famous Muslim scholars are said to be buried there. So, obviously the site has a special religious significance for Muslims, aside from having archaeological value.”

She said that the concept of the museum will be a good thing, holds good intentions, yet the location of it must be reassessed. Both Boytner and Syeda noted that for a Museum of Tolerance to stand atop the final resting place of Palestinians would not be tolerant and even hypocritical. (More)

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CAIR-OH: TRACKED BY SPIES AND INFORMERS – TOP
Julia A. Shearson, Cleveland Indy Media Center, 3/30/09

[Julia A. Shearson is executive director of the Cleveland Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.]

The February 26, 2009 revelation in the Los Angeles Times that FBI domestic intelligence informant and ex-convict Craig Monteilh and others were paid handsomely to spy on Muslim Americans in their houses of worship in Southern California should come as no surprise. Such domestic intelligence gathering has a history in the United States.

The annals of modern domestic surveillance in America are contained in the massive 1976 Church Committee Reports of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The reports, drafted by the Senate in the wake of the Watergate scandal, should have ended domestic intelligence abuses, but in the post-9/11 climate, their warnings and descriptions of crimes against liberty go unheeded.

The chapter entitled “The Use of Informants in FBI Domestic Intelligence Investigations” begins: “Men may be without restraints upon their liberty; they may pass to and fro at pleasure: but if their steps are tracked by spies and informers, their words noted down for crimination, their associates watched as conspirators—who shall say that they are free?”

This quote was borrowed from Sir Thomas May, the nineteenth-century author of The Constitutional History of England. May railed against the use of such spying practices by “continental despotisms” and claimed that “the freedom of a country may be measured by its immunity from this baleful agency.”

The Church reports, available on the Internet, are worth reading today in light of the FBI’s consolidation of domestic intelligence powers in the waning days of the Bush administration. Indeed, the December 1, 2008, issuance of the new investigative guidelines by Attorney General Mukasey was a major step in reconstituting the FBI as the United States’ premier domestic intelligence agency with the Department of Homeland Security and the Joint Terrorism Task Forces as their force multipliers on the ground.

We may be safer now because of this, but at what price for liberty? The new post-9/11 domestic intelligence regime, coupled with immense power, information technology, lack of congressional curiosity and lax Department of Justice oversight, has put our Bill of Rights in peril.

In short, the FBI has been sent headlong into what former vice president Cheney calls the “tough, mean, dirty, nasty business” of keeping the country safe from terrorists. But the problem is the FBI cannot serve two masters: it cannot both serve the Constitution and get into the domestic intelligence trenches. History proves this. (More)

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CANADIAN MUSLIMS CALL FOR ‘CONSISTENT’ GOVERNMENT STAND ON FREE SPEECH – TOP

(OTTAWA, Canada, March 31, 2009) – The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) in an open letter today to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Jason Kenney, called on the federal government to adopt a “consistent” position on free speech and foreign speakers entering Canada.

In its open letter, CAIR-CAN highlighted that virulent anti-Muslim American writer Brigitte Gabriel is slated to speak in Toronto on April 2, 2009 to a prominent Jewish organization, whereas other foreign speakers, on the grounds of hateful commentary, have been denied entry.

“To be clear, we fundamentally value freedom of speech and expression in Canada as enshrined in our Charter of Rights & Freedoms. We are not calling for Ms. Gabriel to be denied entry into Canada but for a consistent standard to be applied by the Government of Canada at all times. When foreign nationals are selectively banned from entry into Canada for their commentary it sends the message that freedom of speech and hate speech are arbitrarily measured,” wrote CAIR-CAN Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee.

“Canadian Muslims and their fellow citizens of conscience are deeply concerned about the nature and content of the message Ms. Gabriel intends to communicate at her scheduled speech in Toronto on April 2, 2009. As such, we respectfully request that your office takes steps to make sure her speech is carefully monitored by local authorities and, if it does contravene the hate-speech laws governing Canada, take appropriate legal action,” Gardee added.

Gabriel, whom the New York Times has called a “radical Islamophobe”, has publicly said “every practising Muslim is a radical Muslim” and that a “practising Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”

SEE: Brigitte Gabriel: ‘Islam Is the Problem’
SEE ALSO: ‘Obsession’ Stars Have Lectured at U.S. Military Colleges; U.S. Navy Uses Film

CAIR-CAN is a national, not-for-profit, grassroots organization with a vision to be a leading voice that encourages Muslim civic engagement and the promotion of human rights.

CONTACT: Ihsaan Gardee, CAIR-CAN Executive Director, 613.254.9704; 613.853.4111

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MI: ARCHBISHOP MEETS WITH MUSLIM LEADERS AT DEARBORN MOSQUE – TOP
Gregg Krupa, Detroit News, 3/31/09

Imam Sayid Hassan al-Qazwini, the head of the Islamic Center of America, welcomed Archbishop Allen Vigneron to the largest mosque in the country today, as the new leader of 1.4 million Catholics in Metro Detroit continues to make good on his vow to foster interfaith relations.

“So many of us here today are bound by the word of God, and we look to Abraham as one of our fathers in faith,” Vigneron said. “I am almost overwhelmed by your words of welcome and warmth.”

Vigneron’s trip to the landmark mosque on Ford Road is at least the third by an Archbishop of Detroit, including Adam Cardinal Maida’s visit in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. His visit is still recalled with fondness by many Muslims in Metro Detroit.

“We welcome you to Dearborn, the Muslim capital of the West, as I call it,” Qazwini said. “God says in the Quran, ‘You will certainly find the nearest in friendship to those who say they are Christian.’ Jesus and Mohammad are none other than but two channels to God. Let us open our houses of worship to each other.” (More)

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UC URGED TO EXPAND ETHNIC LABELS – TOP
Middle Easterners at the L.A. campus want to see alternatives to ‘white’ and ‘other’ on university forms.
Raja Abdulrahim, Los Angeles Times, 3/31/09

Nicole Salame, 19, was filling out an application to UCLA last year when she got to the question about race and ethnicity. She thought a mistake had been made.

“I read it five times and was like, where is Middle Eastern?” the freshman recently recalled. “Is it on the other page, did it get cut off? I thought they forgot.”

Her Lebanese-born mother told her Arabs are considered white, but Salame didn’t believe her. Her high school counselor told her the same thing.

“It did not make sense to me, it’s so far-fetched,” said Salame, who ended up checking “Other.”

For years the federal government has classified Arab Americans and Middle Easterners as white. But confusion and disagreement have led some students to check “Asian” or “African,” depending on what part of the Middle East they came from. Some, like Salame, simply marked “Other.”

Now several UCLA student groups — including Arabs, Iranians, Afghanis and Armenians — have launched a campaign to add a Middle Eastern category, with various subgroups, to the University of California admissions application. They hope to emulate the Asian Pacific Coalition’s “Count Me In” campaign, which a few years ago successfully lobbied for the inclusion of 23 ethnic categories on the UC application, including Hmong, Pakistani, Native Hawaiian and Samoan.

The UCLA students said having their own ethnic designation goes beyond self-identity and has real implications for the larger Arab and Middle Eastern communities. (More)

Internet rip-offs cause $265mn loss, Indians fifth largest victims with 0.36% US first with 92.4%

Internet ripoffs cause 265mn loss Indians fifth largest victims

Internet rip-offs cause $265mn loss, Indians fifth largest victims

Internet-based rip-offs jumped 33 percent last year over the previous year, causing a loss of $265 million to the victims, with the fifth largest number of complaints coming from India, according to a new report.

Internet-based rip-offs jumped 33 percent last year over the previous year, causing a loss of $265 million to the victims, with the fifth largest number of complaints coming from India, according to a new report.

Americans filed 275,284 reports (92.4 percent), claiming to be ripped off on the Internet, the highest number reported since the Internet Crime Complaint Centre, a partnership of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Centre, began keeping statistics in 2000.

Canada came a distant second with 1.77 percent complaints followed by Britain (0.95 percent), Australia (0.57 percent) and India 0.36 percent.

“This report illustrates that sophisticated computer fraud schemes continue to flourish as financial data migrates to the Internet,” said Shawn Henry, the FBI’s assistant director of the cyber division.

At $265 million the total dollar loss from such crimes was $26 million more than the price tag in 2007, the Centre said. For individual victims, the average amount lost was $931.

The dollar loss has been on a steady increase since 2004, while the number of cases referred to law enforcement has decreased steadily since that same year.

Henry said the figures show the need for computer users, in businesses and in homes, to be wary and use sound security practices while using the Internet.

The centre said the top three most frequent complaints were about merchandise that wasn’t delivered or payment that wasn’t received, Internet auction fraud and credit/debit card fraud. Other scams include confidence frauds such as Ponzi schemes, cheque fraud, the Nigerian letter fraud and identity fraud.

One popular identity fraud scam used during 2008 involved sending e-mails crafted to appear as if they had been sent by the FBI. Sometimes the scammers went so far as to say the mailings were from FBI Director Robert Mueller himself, according to the centre.

The e-mails would ask the recipient for personal information, such as a bank account numbers, claiming the FBI wanted the information to look into an impending financial transaction.

One variation of the scheme, according to the centre, was to send an e-mail saying the recipient is entitled to lottery money or an inheritance and the funds can be moved as soon as bank account information is supplied.

The FBI has issued warnings about such scams in the past and Monday’s report included a new one: “The FBI does not contact US citizens regarding personal financial matters through unsolicited e-mails.”