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AMERICAN-MUSLIMS COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER
Vol.13 Issue No.160
IslamOnline.net & News Agencies
Sentencing delayed in US terror-funding case Page 2
GAZA CITY – A network of subterranean passages stretching along the 14kilometre border with Egypt is the only window for Christians in the sealed off Palestinian territory to enjoy the spirit of Christmas.
Staying Positive during Negative Times Page 4
“Some of these gifts came from Egypt through the tunnels because the crossings were closed,” Emad Barakat, a Gaza City gift shop owner, told Agency France Presse (AFP) on Thursday, December 24.
US Patriot Act Under Rights Groups Fire Page 5
“They’ve been selling well,” he added pointing to rows of chocolate Santas.
Big opportunities for businesses to grow Page 6 US Muslims Fight Domestic Extremism Page 8
Israel clamped strict restrictions on the Gaza Strip, home to nearly 1.6 million people, after Hamas was voted to power in the 2006 legislative elections. The situation worsened after Israel launched a three-week deadly onslaught on Gaza last December, killing more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians. The offensive wrecked havoc on the infrastructure of the densely-populated enclave, leaving some 20,000 homes and thousands other buildings in ruins. Israel
Only few toys and Christmas decorations were smuggled into besieged Gaza.
materials needed to rebuild Gaza, such as cement and steel, effectively undermining efforts to rebuild the strip. The siege has sharply increased poverty in the strip, leaving eight out of every 10 people dependent on aid and leading businesses to close and lay off workers. An unspecified number of tunnels stretching along the 14-kilometre border with Egypt have become a lifeline for Gaza. People smuggle fuel, domestic goods and livestock through the subterranean passages. Restrictions Christians in Gaza, estimated by some at 15,000, expect a low profile celebration because the Christmas coincides with the first anniversary of the Israeli war. “The climate is not appropriate for celebrating Christmas because it coincides with the Continued on page 2
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Muslim Leads USAID By Dina Rabie, IOL Staff WASHINGTON –- Rajiv Shah, a 36-year-old American Muslim, was confirmed on Thursday, December 24, as head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the latest stop in the short, fast-ascending career of the development expert. “Raj has the skills and experience to lead a reinvigorated USAID in the 21st century,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement. “He has a record of delivering results in both the private and public sectors, forging partnerships around the world, especially in Africa and Asia, and developing innovative solutions in global health, agriculture, and financial services for the poor.” The Senate earlier confirmed Shah as new chief of the USAID, putting him in charge of the sprawling $20 billion aid agency. Shah, who will report directly to Clinton, reportedly won unanimous consent for his confirmation.
Shah was born and raised in the US to a family of Indian Muslim immigrants.
security initiative, part of a global campaign to help small farmers get more food to the hungry. The young American Muslim will be the first official administrator of the USAID in the Obama administration after a 10-month delay. “The mission of USAID is to advance America’s interests by strengthening our relationships abroad,” President Barack Obama said when nominating Shah for the USAID, America’s top foreign assistance arm, last month. “Rajiv brings fresh ideas and the dedication and impressive background necessary to help guide USAID as it works to achieve this important goal.” Development Guru
Shah, 36, has been serving as Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics and Chief Scientist at the Department of Agriculture since June.
Though his nomination was initially met with opposition over his young age, many are confident Shah’s energy would revive America’s beleaguered premier development agency.
He has been working on the Obama administration’s food
Continued on page 2
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TERMS USED IN THIS PAPER Alhamdulilah: Praise God Allah: Arabic word for God Fatwa: Islamic decision based on Shari’a Hadith: Sayings of the Prophet Mohammad Hajj: Pilgrimage to Mecca Halal: Allowed in Islam Halaqa: Group study Haram: Prohibited in Islam Hijab: Head cover for women Hijra: Migration of the Prophet from Mecca to Madina Imam: Islamic scholar Iman: Faith Inshallah: God willing Madina: City near Mecca in Saudia Arabia Masjid: Place were Muslims gather for prayer and studies Mecca: City in Saudi Arabia where Prophet Mohammad was born Pbuh: Peace be upon him Quran: Islam’s Holy book Shahadah: Is saying “I accept Allah as the one God and Mohammad as his messenger” when someone accepts Islam. Sharia’: Islamic law Shura: A council of Muslim scholars (SWT) Subhanahu Watala: Praise be to Allah Taqwa: God consciousness
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Sentencing delayed in US Hamas-funding case Strong show of support by community members
Associated Press & Muslim Voice
Abdallah, a 55-year-old Arizona resident, was to have been sentenced last month in U.S. District Court on his guilty plea to one count of making a false statement during 2007 interviews with FBI agents concerning his mid-1990s fundraising for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.
Christmas is the main festival on the Christian calendar and celebrations reach its peak at 12:00 PM on December 24 of every year.
denied any substantial involvement with Holy Land when interviewed by agents during the Dallas-based investigation, Miranda said. Abdallah’s character witnesses belittled the government’s case and said he is an upstanding person. ``This is a man who should not be here,’’ Dr. Maher Abdallah, a California physician who is a cousin of the defendant, told Wake. ``He’s been nothing but a role model.’’
But the sentencing was postponed until Feb. 18 because Judge Neil Wake ran out of time after hearing hours of testimony and because he wants lawyers to submit briefs on several sentencing issues.
The cousin acknowledged Abdallah might have spoken falsely to the FBI, but said it was during voluntary interviews while being hounded by multiple agents. ``He thought he was helping.’’
More than 40 people submitted letters in support of Abdallah, and more than 60 supporters packed the courtroom to show solidarity.
Two of the five men convicted in Dallas last year were sentenced in May to prison terms of 65 years each, and the other three received shorter terms.
Five Holy Land leaders were convicted in a Dallas federal court last year of bankrolling schools and social welfare programs that prosecutors said were controlled by Hamas.
Abdallah’s faces up to eight years in prison under a maximum term stiffened by a terrorism enhancement. However, a plea agreement with prosecutors calls for him to receive a sentence of 18 to 24 months.
The United States had designated Hamas a terrorist organization in 1995. Holy Land received the designation in December 2001. The FBI agent, Robert Miranda, said Abdallah wasn’t a Holy Land insider but his volunteer work in the Phoenix area on behalf of the group would have made him a ``fantastic witness’’ because he could have testified about its practices and beliefs. ``He was the best of both worlds,’’ Miranda said. ``From the perspective of an investigator, he sure had a lot of connections and knowledge that nobody else seemed to have.’’ Abdallah’s fundraising role was known through FBI wiretaps but he falsely
Continued from page 1 anniversary of the war,” says Eyad Sayegh, a Christian pharmacist in Gaza City. “We are going to limit it to religious rituals and prayers at the church and exchanging visits with family and friends.”
PHOENIX – Akram Abdallah is facing prison time for supposedly lying to authorities in a terrorism-funding investigation could have been a big help to authorities because of his past involvement with a Muslim charity that aided Palestinians through Hamas, an FBI agent testified last month in a Federal Court in Phoenix last month. Other testimony, from relatives and other supporters, portrayed Akram Musa Abdallah as a community pillar and family leader who worked to help people and build bridges between faiths.
Tunnels Bring Christmas to Blocked Gazans
A probation officer’s pre-sentencing report recommended 46 months. Wake questioned whether the terrorism enhancement should apply to Abdallah’s case because his crime only involves lying to authorities. He also questioned whether the crime should be considered serious for sentence purposes when it appears that the government was not misled by Abdallah’s lies. In addition he questioned whether Abdallah did anything wrong by assisting a charity at a time when it wasn’t designated by the US government as a social wing of a terrorist group. Lawyers are to submit briefs on those issues.
Thousands of Christian pilgrims flock to Bethlehem in occupied West Bank every year to celebrate Christmas in the Church of Nativity, built on the site where Jesus is said to have been born. But Israel has denied most of Gaza Christians the right to cross to the occupied West Bank to join the celebration. The occupation authorities issued 24hour permits to only 300 Gaza Christians over the age of 35. “I did not get a permit even though I am over 35,” lamented Hana Mikhael, 38. “And many of my friends decided not to travel because even though they got permits their wives did not, or viceversa.”
Muslim Leads USAID Continued from page 1 director for agricultural development at the Bill Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private charity. He has developed a reputation as a young public health and development guru. Shah also gained political experience advising Al Gore’s presidential campaign on health-care policy. He was born and raised in the US to a family of Indian immigrants who settled in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the late 1960s. Shah grew up in the Detroit area and earned his M.D. in medicine and his M.Sc. in Health Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. He is married with two young children, Sajan and Amna. His wife, Shivam Mallick Shah, works at the Department of Education’s Office of Innovation as the Director of Special Initiatives.
Ariz. Senate OKs cuts, raids to reduce budget gap By PAUL DAVENPORT
cuts imposed on most state agencies.
Associated Press Writer
Agency officials said other impacts would include delaying licensing of new businesses to 250 days and possibly closing by the end of the fiscal year all 27 state parks that are still open. Officials already have closed several parks due to budget cuts.
PHOENIX (AP) _ A bill to use spending cuts and raids on special funds to reduce Arizona’s big budget deficit advanced in the Legislature on Thursday, with predicted effects, including pay cuts for state employees and the closure of potentially all state parks. On a 16-11 party-line vote, the Senate endorsed majority Republicans’ bill to cut general-fund spending by $74 million and sweep an additional $120 million from special-purpose funds. ``These are some tough times,’’ said Senate Appropriations Chairman Russell Pearce, R-Mesa. The House planned to consider the bill Friday and Saturday in what could end up being a three-day special session. The bill would permit agencies to reduce employees’ pay by up to 5 percent to find savings forced by the 7.5 percent budget
``The important thing is that you realize that these decisions will result in park closures, if not a system closure,’’ said state parks Executive Director Renee Bahl.
needed time to review the Republicans’ package. House Speaker Kirk Adams, R-Mesa, said Democrats were using ``procedural tactics’’ without joining Republicans in cutting state spending. ``We ask our Democratic members to stop the stall tactics and get into the game.’’ Adams said. Lawmakers expressed frustration that they weren’t doing more. ``There’s been a lot of finger-pointing ... but we have to get going,’’ said Rep. Lucy Mason, R-Prescott. ``If not now, when are we going to get this done.’’
The budget for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, has a $1.6 billion revenue shortfall. That’s after $452 million of spending cuts and other changes made during a November special session.
Democrats faulted Republicans for only cutting spending.
The special session began Thursday with House Democrats blocking rule suspensions that would allow action on budget cuts in one day instead of the minimum three days normally required.
``We really believe that the budget needs to be looked at in a whole and comprehensive fashion and not in a piecemeal way,’’ said Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson.
House Minority Leader David Lujan, DPhoenix, said lawmakers and the public
Republican Gov. Jan Brewer’s call for the special session included the spending cuts
but also two measures that could have been placed on a March 9 special election ballot. Those proposals, if approved by voters, would have temporarily raised the state sales tax by a penny for three years and temporarily loosened constitutional protections for voter-approved spending mandates. Without revenue from the sales tax, ``the tidal wave is coming,’’ said Sen. Linda Gray, R-Glendale. ``The schools will be hit the hardest in the next round ... because we do not have the revenue coming in.’’ Republican leaders said Wednesday that they had set aside the ballot measures because of misunderstanding on time needed to schedule a special election and because there wasn’t enough support in the House to approve the sales tax referral. The special session is the fourth this year devoted to the state’s budget crisis.
More Ariz. students changing majors with economy By PAULA RHODEN The Daily Courier PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) _ Yavapai College student Marley Slaughter changed her major from accounting to nursing. In her third year at Yavapai College and technically a sophomore, Slaughter decided to change her field of study because of the current state of Arizona’s economy. She thinks her chances of finding a job in the medical field are better than in accounting. With Arizona’s unemployment rate still at 9 percent or more and its economic recovery virtually nonexistent, Slaughter’s move to improve her marketability is just one example of what college students are doing to prepare for life after graduation. A recent Gallup Poll, ``The Arizona We Want,’’ commissioned by the Center for the Future of Arizona, indicates that Arizona residents think that Arizona is not a great place for young college graduates. The results from the telephone portion of the poll indicate that citizens do think the state offers significant opportunities to improve both prosperity and overall quality of life. At the same time, the perception is that Arizona is not a great place to live for talented young people. Prescott College junior Katie Chapin’s major is psychology. She is considering continuing her education after getting her bachelor’s degree by working toward a master’s degree. Chapin said she wants to work with atrisk teens _ ``and that requires a master’s degree.’’ Staying in school would also allow Chapin to delay paying back her college loans. She thinks investing another three years of study will pay off in the end. ``There is a market for what I want to do,
for this field. Today, teens are more into drugs and more into gangs,’’ she said. Prescott College senior Ian Thompson from Houston, Texas, is also a psychology major. Thompson plans to pursue a master’s degree immediately after receiving his bachelor’s degree this spring. Because of the current job market, Thompson thinks he will ``more likely land a job in information technology, my hobby, than what I’ve been studying.’’ Thompson thinks that because of high interest rates it will take years to pay off his student loans. ``I’m concerned that I’ll have to make a lot of sacrifices, such as high interest rates when I want to buy a car or a house,’’ Thompson said. ``I think things will be difficult for years.’’ Having nothing to ``fall back on’’ has Honduran Hector Luque worried about repaying his loans. The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University senior moved his family to Prescott three years ago to attend school. He is studying global securities and intelligence.
serious cancer.’’ Chapin hopes ``to always have a roof over my head.’’ She currently works as a waitress, alongside a woman with a pilot’s license and another who is a teacher. ``There are no jobs and no promises,’’ Chapin said. According to the Gallup Poll, residents see the state’s natural beauty and open spaces as its greatest asset. Thompson agrees. ``Arizona has such a draw. Its beauty is unique. People, college students, come here because they want to explore the state. The beauty of Arizona is a draw for individual aspirations,’’ Thompson said. ``State officials need to take advantage of the surroundings.’’
Thompson is also concerned with health care. Healthy himself, his brother had leukemia, ``so there is a family history of a
``I want to be able to provide my future family with the quality of life that I have enjoyed. Where will I be in five years? I’m not sure. I’m in community college now and I want to finish a degree in the next few years. But I’ll be back. This is where I want to live.’’
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``I originally thought I would find work in Washington, D.C., but now I am looking worldwide,’’ Luque said. ``Nowadays, you can’t limit yourself.’’
``Everyone is skeptical, but I would like to see it pan out,’’ Luque said.
``The Arizona I want is a place where I can have a secure job and a place where I can explore the outdoors. This is a beautiful state and there are so many places that should be preserved,’’ said Yavapai College sophomore Merritt Moore, who participated in the Gallup Poll and was included in the report.
Armity A. Simon, MD
After graduation, Luque said he hopes to find a job in corporate security, which is a ``more specialized field.’’
With a wife and 3-year-old daughter, Luque is concerned about providing health care for them. He is cautiously optimistic about how the new federal health care program will work out.
As part of the Gallup Poll, Arizonans identified a ``citizens agenda’’ that includes creating quality jobs for all Arizonans and preparing Arizonans of all ages for the 21st-century work force.
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Should There Be Room at the Discussion Table for Militant Muslims? The turbulent 60’s was a decade when Black selfadvocacy was at an all time high. James Brown repeatedly encouraged self-rejecting African Americans to “Say it loud! I’m Black and I’m Proud! and Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., having gained international recognition for his advocacy of nonviolence, would lose much of his national support after deciding to oppose the war in Vietnam. Minister Malcolm X’s insightful and uncompromising analysis of the plight of 22 million Blacks would find his words resonating not only with Black Muslims, but with others who believed the way to freedom was through the barrel of a gun. Try as the U.S. government may to ignore Malcolm X and others who were politically left of him, Uncle Sam and mainstream Blacks could not deny there were those who were adamant on achieving their freedom not by singing “We shall overcome” but by “any means necessary.” This thumbnail sketch of the schism that existed among Blacks almost 50 years ago is reminiscent of how I see Muslims today, wrestling with the reality that there are significant numbers in the religion of Islam who have different ideas and interpretations of what it means to be a Muslim. Nothing is more indicative of this turmoil then the aftermath of heinous crimes being committed
by Muslims i.e., September 11, Ft. Hood, and the inevitable barrage of apologies and disassociations from culprits through press conferences, letters to the editor, and ad infinitum quotes from the Quran in an attempt to convince outsiders that Islam is about peace and in no way connected to the killing of innocent men, women and children. And there the discussion ends; often to the utter amazement of the infidel struggling to understand why one segment of the Muslim community is using violence as a means to an end, another attempting to downplay or discount the role of Islam in these acts, while yet another segment of the Islamic community cower and goes underground so as not to bring unsolicited attention to its self. All of which is meticulously monitored by many in the Islamic intelligentsia who further fan the flames of distrust and fear through their ability to paint frightening pictures for right-wing Republicans of an Islamic state here in the United States; Republican who parade (and fund) erudite Muslims for the purpose of stirring up emotions or to oppose views taken by mainstream Islamic thinkers. The Islamic community would be wise to acknowledge all fractions that are in its midst…from left-wing radicals to right-wing conservatives. It is only when we:
1) acknowledge that there exists Muslims whose views, opinions and actions may be different from our own that we will come to realize no one perspective has a monopoly on Islam, and 2) come to the realization that all bring a different yet vitally important viewpoint and the omission of any facet detracts from the overall understanding and effectiveness of the group. As 30,000 American troops prepare to leave for Afghanistan I expect there will be intense and often heated discussions taking place through Muslim communities around the world. Arguments will be made for and against President Obama’s decision to give his generals the additional soldiers and Marines they have requested. Undoubtedly Muslims both near and far who feel strongly about the war will be moved to respond in ways that we may not always agree with or understand. It is, however, our willingness to keep the lines of communication open…to engage in candid and direct dialogue that will aid in our sharing ideas and options that may provide alternative means of answering some of life’s most persistent questions. Ahmad Daniels, M.Ed. Transformation Facilitator
Staying Positive during Negative Times The last couple of months have not been easy for the Muslim community in the U.S. From the Fort Hood shooting to honor killing onto the Rifka Barry propaganda and now the issue of homegrown terrorism, the Muslim community had a little air to breathe. With that came an outburst of anti-Islam and antiMuslim literature mostly on electronic media. Muslim bashers must have had a blast!!! Islam bashing is a booming business. What’s so alarming is that there are now more voices who are seeking to outlaw Islam as a religion and to criminalize Muslims for the mere fact of adhering to it. The average Muslim feels intimidated, threatened, and powerless. It’s easy to succumb to those forces that are seeking to marginalize and criminalize Islam
and Muslims, and develop a very negative attitude toward the whole situation. It’s easy to say there is so much bad publicity out there and there is nothing we can do. In short, it’s easy to be a pessimist. Not if you are a true Muslim!! Islam teaches us to stay positive regardless of the adversities that we face now and then. When Prophet Muhammad was sent over 1400 years ago, the situation wasn’t much better. The Arabs were addicted to worshipping idols, mistreating women, tribal retribution and warfare, to mention a few vices. In addition, they were very hostile to the message that Prophet Muhammad brought. They called him a magician,
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a sorcerer, an insane man, and a liar. They tortured his companions. Yet, the Prophet chose to focus on the positive side. It’s reported in an authentic narration that he has said, “I was sent in order to complement the best of manners” [al-Hakim]. Despite all the negativity around him, he was able to find some good qualities in his society. After all, the Arabs were known for their courage, hospitality, eloquence, and shame of lying. The Prophet could have focused on the negative aspects of his society, and they were many, and said something like, “I came to eradicate all bad manners”. Rather, he chose to make his mission statement positive, acknowledging the good in his society and committing to make it better. Muslims today has to re-ignite this spirit of optimism dealing with the current challenges. Optimism is not just a statement nor an action or two. Optimism is a way of life. If you study the life of Prophet Muhammad, this concept becomes so evident. Some people think that the Prophet was always serious or even frowning. But, there are authentic narrations, recorded by Imam
Ahmad, that the Prophet used to smile all the time. Some of the invocations he taught us centered around how we get rid of negative qualities. Consider for example the following supplication, “Oh God, I seek refuge in You from worries and sadness, from inabilities and laziness, and from cowardice and stinginess”. Think for a moment, if we are able to rid ourselves from those negative qualities, we will overcome our current weakness. See one of the definitions of optimism is the ability to turn difficulties into opportunities. The Muslim communities in the West are currently facing tremendous difficulties without a doubt. But the challenging question is; are we going to be able to turn those difficulties into opportunities? I think it’s up to us! Now, we can cease the opportunity of telling others who we are and what a great religion we have. But, there is always the easier path. We can choose to turn this opportunity into a difficulty. This would be the definition of a pessimist. Which path do we want to collectively take? The choice is ours … Anas Hlayhel
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January 2010 5 NATIONAL Immigration-Asylum - US revising Grand Opening of Medical asylum detention policies Facility in Iraq
On October 31, 2009, Life for Relief and Development held a grand opening ceremony at its new healthcare clinic in the city of Ramadi, which is in the Anbar province of Iraq. The clinic, which will offer free and subsidized, medical, dental, laboratory, imaging, and pharmaceutical services, joins a network of four other clinics that Life Iraq operates around the country. The location of the new clinic was chosen in response to the lack of medical services in the area. It is estimated that the clinic will now service the immediate healthcare needs of some 36,000 Iraqis living in and around Ramadi. The ceremony was attended by local dignitaries and ordinary citizens.
The director of Life’s Anbar office spoke during the ceremony, stressing the need for clinic staff members to provide extraordinary care to their patients, and to accompany them through every step that they go through at the clinic. Staff members were reminded to treat each patient that walked through the door equally, regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or religious affiliation. Within the first hour of its opening, the clinic received 30 patients and i m m e d i a t e l y began dispensing medicine through its pharmacy. The clinic was made possible through a grant by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Charity (MBRC), which in addition to the Ramadi clinic, is funding two other new clinics in Iraq, as well as a new high school.
By SUZANNE GAMBOA
immediately removed from the country, without a hearing. Also, requests for release must be made in writing, ICE said.
Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Obama administration said Wednesday it will stop detaining asylum seekers who have a credible fear of persecution in their home countries. To be released into the U.S., the asylum seekers will have to establish the credible fear and their identities and show they are not dangerous or a flight risk, said John Morton, Department of Human Services assistant secretary overseeing Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Foreigners who arrive at a port of entry and are found to have a credible fear will automatically be considered for release into the U.S., Morton said. Asylum seekers still will spend time in detention while they undergo interviews and their information is checked, but the administration hopes to reduce the length of their stay with a policy change, ICE said. Their stay in the U.S. will be considered temporary until a final decision is made on their asylum claim. Currently, foreigners who come to the U.S. without valid documents can be
Brian Hale, ICE spokesman, said the new policy also will apply to people seeking asylum and already in detention. The advocacy group Human Rights First reported last April that from 2004 to 2007, the rates of temporary release of asylum seekers dropped from 41.3 percent to 4.2 percent. The Bush administration toughened criteria for asylum seekers to win release from detention in 2007. Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, said those rules were ``unduly harsh’’ and cheered the changes Tuesday. Immigrant advocates wanted to see more details on the change before commenting. Steve Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for tougher immigration laws, said detention ensures people show up for hearings. ``The overwhelming amount of people who apply for asylum don’t get it and that’s why they don’t show up. Lack of detention destroys the credibility and meaningfulness of immigration courts,’’ Camarota said.
Obama Creating Torture Impunity: ACLU IOL Staff CAIRO — Receiving his Nobel Peace Prize, US President Barack Obama is facing accusation of creating impunity framework for former officials implicated in authorizing torture. “The (former president George W.) Bush administration constructed a legal framework for torture,” Jameel Jaffer, National Security Project Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said in a statement on the group’s website. “Now the Obama administration is constructing a legal framework for impunity.” Hours after his inauguration, Obama has promised to close the US notorious detention center Guantanamo and secret CIA prisons. He has also vowed to scrap all harsh
interrogation techniques authorized by the Bush administration against terror suspects. “But this administration is also shielding Bush administration officials from civil liability, criminal investigation and even public scrutiny for their role in authorizing torture,” Jaffer said.
and sleeping suspects.
The Bush administration has sanctioned the use of aggressive interrogation techniques, including waterboarding
It was embroiled in shocking detainee abuse scandals in the notorious Guantanamo detention center, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush administration also authorized the CIA to operate a network of secret detention centers in different world countries and fly detainees to countries where they were tortured.
Last April, Obama said interrogators who had used waterboarding on terror suspects will not face prosecution. He also released Bush-era memos specifying that the practice did not constitute torture.
Damaging ACLU, which has pursued nearly a dozen cases against the US government since 2003 related to prisoner abuse, dubbed Obama stance as “disappointing”.
“We’re increasingly disappointed and alarmed by the current administration’s stance on accountability for torture,” said Jaffer. “The administration is obstructing accountability.”
The rights group said that Obama’s stance greatly damages America’s credibility abroad. “The lesson that this is giving to the rest of the world is that countries do not have to be accountable for their actions even when torture and abuse occurs,” Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel, said. “That’s going to make it much more difficult for the United States to push other countries on human rights issues across the board and it’s going to make it much easier for other countries to shirk their own duties to bring accountability for their own actions in the past.”
US Patriot Act Under Rights Groups Fire By Aisha Qidwae, IOL Correspondent WASHINGTON-- Leading civil liberties groups in the United States are pushing against the renewal of some provisions of the controversial Patriot Act, the post9/11 law which many think indiscriminately violates Americans’ rights, particularly Arabs and Muslims. “Most Americans than expected would end up in government databases,” Michelle Richardson, a Legislative Consultant for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told IslamOnline.net. “I think people are generally unhappy about that.” Amendments to two provisions of the Patriot Act, which are set to expire by the end of the year, have already been introduced in Congress but have yet to be approved by both the House and Senate. But civil rights groups say the amendments to the provisions which have swept innocent people into the government’s investigations are not enough. “The government has been very ambiguous of what is and not allowed,” says Leigh O’Neill, Director of Government Relations at the Arab American Institute. “I don’t know if people feel safe right now. There’s work to do.” One of the provisions expiring is the Section 206, also called the “roving wiretap provision”, which allows the government to tap phone lines and Internet accounts. Under Section 215, federal officials can get Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) orders to get “any tangible thing,” such as business records, in
connection with terrorism investigation.
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The new amendments would require the government to name either the person or place being tapped and require specific facts linking the evidence sought to an authorized investigation foe issuing the FISC orders.
Arabs and Muslims have taken the brunt of an overzealous use of the law.
Though not expiring, the National Security Letters (NSL) provision, which has come under scrutiny from rights groups and even the Department of Justice, is also being amended. “The FBI can send letters without judicial review,” says O’Neill. “There’s no evidence that a business needs to be directly involved in an investigation.” Even supporters of the Patriot Act like Matthew Kroenig, assistant professor in the Department of Government at Georgetown University, see certain flaws in it. Kroenig says one of the more threatening aspects of the Patriot Act is how it has broken the separation between domestic intelligence and law enforcement. The Patriot Act was signed into law by a landslide eight years ago, less than a month after 9/11 terrorist attacks. The law gave the government a raft of new powers which include phone tapping and search without warrants and surveillance of internet records and bank accounts. Targeted O’Neill, of the Arab American Institute, says the Patriot Act has targeted minorities in the US. “The extended powers of search and seizure and increased domestic surveillance have alienated a community that is really eager to participate in and
A backlog of Muslim charities were targeted by federal authorities empowered by the Patriot Act in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on claims of channeling funds to groups designated as terrorist like Hamas and Lebanese Hizbullah. The intense government pressures on charities have forced them to stop transferring much-needed aid to orphanages in Muslim countries in order to keep operating at home. “It’s preventing members of our community from giving and charities abroad are suffering from that lack of charitable donations,” added O’Neill. “They’re scared of being monitored or tracked to a 5th degree of separation to criminal activity abroad.” Rights activists lament that the debate around them comes while Americans are fixated on the health care debate. “Right now, we are in a perfect storm of health care and other issues that have drawn attention away from it,” says Richardson. But O’Neill hopes that under a new administration, a better approach can bring communities, law enforcement on every level and ordinary Americans to the table so neither national security or civil liberties are compromised. “Given the new administration, given the dynamics in Congress, it’ll reveal a lot about the character of the political climate right now and we can expect for genuine political reform.”
Big opportunities for businesses to grow and the poll numbers of Obama with it.
By DARLENE SUPERVILLE Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sounding a friendly tone to America’s community bankers, President Barack Obama on Tuesday said the White House will seek to cut bureaucratic restrictions so that local lenders can help businesses seize ``enormous opportunities’’ for growth after bleak times.
Obama made a point to say the community lenders are largely not responsible for the risky behavior that helped imperil the U.S. financial system. There are about 8,000 small and community banks with
Obama’s relationship with smaller bankers is friendly. They have generally backed the administration’s financial regulatory package and have received kinder treatment in the House version of the legislation. For example, banks with assets of less than $10 billion will not have to undergo a separate bank examination by a proposed consumer protection agency. Large banks would have to submit to such a review. As a result, a rift has developed between large financial institutions and community bank organizations. The American Bankers Association last week sent an e-mail to its members lamenting the position the Independent Community Bankers Association had taken by not fighting against the House financial regulation bill.
``We feel very optimistic that the worst is behind us,’’ the president declared after meeting with heads of a dozen small and community banks. The event, among the final acts of business for Obama before he leaves for a Christmas vacation in Hawaii, follows a similar meeting the president held at the White House with some of the nation’s top bankers. But the tone was different this time.
At the same time, these banks are especially vulnerable. Commercial real estate lending conditions got worse for these banks in the third quarter. They have been hit by bank failures and banking experts fear it could get worse.
Obama had implored those bankers to help keep the fragile recovery from faltering by increasing lending to small businesses and supporting a rewrite of financial regulations. With the smaller lenders, he rallied behind them.
That poses a dilemma for the White House, which wants more lending from these banks, and is ready to pump about $30 billion in TARP money for a small business lending program. Small bankers have told administration officials that they are reluctant to take the money because of the stigma associated with federal assistance.
Obama said his administration does not have direct influence over independent regulators but would still seek to spotlight cases in which restrictions may have become too tight on community banks, causing the pendulum to swing too far in the direction of not lending.
According to the Federal Reserve, loans by the nation’s 8,000 banks fell 8 percent to $6.7 trillion in the past year, and some analysts expect them to keep falling at least through next year.
enormous remains ``There opportunities as we come out of this recession for businesses to start growing again and to start hiring again,’’ Obama said. He pledged that the White House would keep working in the months ahead to spur the lending needed to help businesses hire.
Obama sees unlocking tight credit markets as one way to tackle a national unemployment rate clinging to double digits.
Unemployment remains in the double digits as the year nears its end, dragging down the mood of the country
assets of less than $5 billion, most of them with assets of no more than $1 billion. They are important to the Obama administration because they make more than 50 percent of small business loans under $100,000.
November’s unemployment rate was 10 percent, down slightly from 10.2 percent in October. Obama argues that jobs will be created if small business owners _ who employ the majority of U.S. workers _ get the money they need to expand their operations.
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White Americans’ majority to end by mid-century By HOPE YEN
thirds are non-Hispanic whites.
Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON (AP) _ The estimated time when whites will no longer make up the majority of Americans has been pushed back eight years _ to 2050 _ because the recession and stricter immigration policies have slowed the flow of foreigners into the U.S. Census Bureau figures released Wednesday update last year’s prediction that white children would become a minority in 2023 and the overall white population would follow in 2042. The earlier estimate did not take into account a drop in the number of people moving into the U.S. because of the economic crisis and the immigration policies imposed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The 2050 estimate is one of four projections released that is based on rates for births and deaths and a scenario in which immigration continues its more recent, slower pace of adding nearly 1 million new foreigners each year. Demographers said that scenario offers the best look for now at the future demographic makeup based on current conditions, rather than other models which assume higher rates of immigration. The United States has 308 million people today; two-
The total population should climb to 399 million by 2050, under the new projection, with whites making up 49.9 percent of the population. Blacks will make up 12.2 percent, virtually unchanged from today. Hispanics, currently 15 percent of the population, will rise to 28 percent in 2050. Asians are expected to increase from 4.4 percent of the population to 6 percent. The point when minority children become the majority is expected to have a similar delay of roughly eight years, moving from 2023 to 2031. The population 85 and older is projected to more than triple by 2050, to 18.6 million. The actual shift in demographics will be influenced by a host of factors that can’t be accurately forecast _ the pace of the economic recovery, cultural changes, natural or manmade disasters, as well as an overhaul of immigration law, which may be debated in Congress as early as next year. As a result, the Census Bureau said the projections should be used mostly as a guide. The agency also released numbers showing projections based on ``high’’ rates of immigration _ more likely if more-flexible government policies and a booming U.S. economy attract large numbers of
foreigners _ as well as ``low’’ immigration, a possible scenario if U.S. policies don’t change much while the economy substantially improves. _With high immigration, the minority ``tipping point’’ is moved up to 2040, two years earlier than the previous estimate. At that time, Asians would have a much larger share, at 8 percent, since their population growth is more dependent on immigration than birth rates. _With low immigration, the ``tipping point’’ arrives by 2045. Under a purely theoretical ``zero immigration’’ scenario in which the U.S. effectively does not take in any immigrants, whites would remain the majority in 2050, making up a solid 58 percent of the U.S. population. In such a case, the share of Hispanics would increase to 21 percent because of high fertility rates and a younger population. Under a ``zero immigration’’ model, the 65 and older population also grows substantially faster, comprising nearly 1 in 4 Americans. ``These projections show that immigration will serve to replenish our labor force as baby boomers age into retirement and make our population younger without overburdening our schools and other community resources,’’ said William H. Frey, a demographer at Brookings Institution.
US Debates Anti-terror Cyber Battle IslamOnline.net & Newspapers
Sahab, are immediately available on the internet.
CAIRO — Some American experts believe their government should hunt and shut down websites seen as radicalizing Muslims, while others dismiss the approach as impractical and urge counter online campaigns.
“Failing to engage in debate on those issues means we’re ceding all of that to them, and that makes no sense to me,” Boucek insists.
can put it up on a new server and have it up tomorrow,” says Evan Kohlmann of the NEFA Foundation, created following 9/11 to track terrorism. He believes such websites are a
“Failing to engage in debate on those issues means we’re ceding all of that to them, and that makes no sense to me.”
“And if we take away cyberspace we would achieve a crippling effect on the global terror network.”
Boucek lauded a Saudi campaign, Sakina, which helps scholars to go online to militant websites and debate what is and isn’t permitted by Islam.
Some believe the US administration has done very little to fight the anti-terror battle in the cyberspace.
Many experts recognize that AlQaeda has become tech- and mediasavvy in recent years. Dozens of audio and video message produced by its media arm, as-
“There’s a multiplying effect when they put this on their website for other people to read. “Also on their website are different documents and studies, recantation videos, things like that that explain extremism and radicalization.”
“If we take away cyberspace we would achieve a crippling effect on the global terror network,” Boucek believes Washington should Arquilla believes.
But some experts are skeptical about the success prospects of declaring war at such websites, also citing their importance as source for intelligence gathering. “If you shut down one of their websites today, they have a complete copy elsewhere and
treasure of information overlooked by the US and are the only window the rest of the world has into alQaeda and other such groups. “[This] would be like firing cruise missiles at our own spy satellites. “If you start shutting down the
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“You can’t have the American military telling people what their religion allows. “It’s shocking to me that eight years into this conflict, we don’t have a formal institution doing this.”
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“This means that we either want to exploit terrorists’ use of the Web and Net unbeknownst to them, or we want to drive them from it.”
Scholars like Chris Boucek, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, believe shutting down websites is not the answer. “We’re talking about a movement that’s based on ideas and grievances, so we need to understand those ideas and grievances,” Boucek says.
“[Al-Qaeda doesn’t] put people on planes anymore because they know we’re good at spotting them,” John Arquilla, a military theorist at the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California, told Time magazine on Wednesday, December 23.
“Instead of thinking of cyberspace principally as a place to gather intelligence, we need to elevate it to the status of ‘battlespace’,” Arquilla told the House Armed Services Committee last week during a hearing on the threat of online radicalization.
websites it’s like chopping up a jellyfish — you end up with lots of little pieces that are very difficult to monitor.”
US Muslims Fight Domestic Extremism Aisha Qidwae , IOL Staff
WASHINGTON – Leading American Muslim organizations and community leaders are planning to launch a website and organize a summit where young Muslims can ask mainstream scholars questions as part of renewed efforts to combat extremism. “The idea is really to refute and counter the misuse of certain ayahs [verse of the Qur’an] and hadiths [sayings of Prophet Muhammad] that are commonly misused by recruiters or young people who do not understand the depths and circumstances of revelations and just juxtapose superficial and disconnected meaning to justify their actions,” Nihad Awad, National Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told IslamOnline.net. He described the website as an online resource center for Muslims who are vulnerable to extremist ideologies. The announcement coincided with reports about the arrest of five young American Muslims in Pakistan who are being investigated for possible extremist ties. Many believe they are the same students who disappeared in late November from northern Virginia and Washington, DC. * Understanding the Context of “Fighting” Verses * Fighting Verses in the Quran * Fight Until Everyone Converts? Muslim families had reported the men missing, who are in their late teens to early twenties, to their local mosque, which called CAIR,
the largest US Muslim advocacy group, which in turn informed the FBI. One of the missing young men left a farewell video in which he juxtaposed Qur’anic verses and common grievances in the Muslim world. US officials have not yet confirmed the identity of the young men held in Pakistan and their purpose for being there. Usman Anwer, the District police officer in Sarghoda, Pakistan, confirmed to IOL Pakistan correspondent that the five arrestees are US nationals, including two of Pakistani background, one Yemeni origin and two of Egyptian background. He identified them as Umer Farooq Ahmed, Ahmad Abdullah, Ramy Zamzam, Ihsan Hussein Yasser and Waqar-ul-Hassan Aman. A spokesman for the US Embassy in Islamabad told IOL they are working with the Pakistani government on the issue. Youth Mentoring Imam Bray told IOL they would organize a summit to reach out to young Muslims to do peer mentoring. In addition to putting together theological rebuttals to misused verses and hadiths, CAIR, along with Muslim organizations, is organizing a summit where young Muslims can ask mainstream scholars questions at this year’s conference of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Muslim American Society. The annual conference will be held in Chicago from December 24 – 26.
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Imam Mahdi Bray, the Executive Director of MAS Freedom, said the summit will also reach out to young Muslims to do peer mentoring. “That will focus on positive solutions involving issues of hate, violence and intolerance,” he told IOL. “One has to recognize that there are real issues here and abroad. We need their [youth] voices to see how constructively they want us to address these issues in a nonviolent way.” Bray personally knows Zamzam, a dental student at Howard University. “If you said to me, that person would have gone to Pakistan to allegedly do what they’re dong, that person would have been the last person in my mind to think like that.” Imams Role Bray believes more imams and trained scholars should take steps to respond to incorrect ideas being promoted on the Internet, because young people get most of their information online and use social networking sites, blogs and links as modes of communications. “They’e not out here writing, they’re not posting their stuff on the Internet,” he said about scholars and prominent Imams. “Therefore, people are taking religious information in a vacuum.” He cited the case of Nidal Hasan, a Muslim army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 fellow soldiers in a shooting spree at Fort Hood military base. Hasan reportedly exchanged online communications with Anwar Awlaki, an American imam
of Yemeni origin now living in Yemen who is accused of preaching extremism and violence. Imam Bray said when someone says shooting unarmed civilians is worthy of praise, a comment attributed to Awlaki after the Fort Hood shooting, it deserves theological scrutiny from the Muslim community. Prominent Muslim scholar Dr. Jamal Badawi had refuted Awlaki’s claim that the shooting tragedy was an act of Jihad against the enemies of Islam. “The Qur’an and Sunna allow the use of force only as a last resort and only in two cases; to resist oppression or in defense against aggression,” he explains. “You don’t just sneak and attack without declaration. This is not in accordance with Islamic ethics,” Dr Badawi told IOL after the attack. The Fort Hood shooting had also drawn immediate condemnation from all leading American Muslim organizations, including CAIR and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Imam Bray underlined the importance of a continued investment in American-born imams so they can respond to contemporary issues. “Is just going sitting in a Halaqa [religious discussion] gives enough solitude and knowledge and development for our young people today, or are we missing something?” he asked. “Is the Tarbiyah [education] within our organizations meeting the instructional needs and desires of our young people today? “That is the challenge for all of us.”
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Afghan Surge Could Hurt Pakistan Aamir Latif, IOL Correspondent ISLAMABAD – The deployment of 30,000 more US troops to Afghanistan will increase pressure on Taliban and might lead many of its fighters to take refugee across the border in neighboring Pakistan, which is already battling its own local militants. “With the arrival of additional troops, there will be an increase in cross-border infiltration,” Professor Hassan Askari Fatimi, a Lahore-based security expert, told IslamOnline.net on Wednesday, December 2. “People - both Taliban and refugees - will trickle into Pakistan, especially the tribal areas, if operations against Taliban are increased in southern and northeastern Afghanistan.” US President Obama has ordered a surge of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan to reverse the Taliban’s momentum and strengthen the Kabul government. * Pakistan’s Future (Special Page) The additional troops, expected within six months, would likely be deployed in southern Afghanistan, the heartland of Taliban. Professor Fatimi says a resulting cross-border infiltration will increase pressure on Pakistan. “It will pose another challenge to
Pakistani forces, which are already engaged in operations against militants,” he noted. The Pakistani army is already battling the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella of different local Taliban groups, in South Waziristan. “If American forces fail to achieve the desired results, except pushing Taliban towards Pakistan, then Obama administration will increase pressure on Pakistan to act against these Taliban,” Professor Fatimi expects. Obama stressed in his new Afghan strategy the important role expected of Pakistan. “We’re in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country. But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan,” he said. “We will strengthen Pakistan’s capacity to target those groups that threaten our countries, and have made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists whose location is known and whose intentions are clear.” Benefit Yusufzai says Taliban will likely disperse, hide and wait for a good time to attack. Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Peshawar-based expert on Afghan affairs, does not expect any flow of Taliban fighters into Pakistan.
“I think this is a misconception that Afghan Taliban will trickle into Pakistan in case of fresh operations against them,” he maintains.
because of its role in the so-called war on terror. “America is providing substantial resources to support Pakistan’s democracy and development,” Obama said in his long-awaited speech on the new strategy.
“These troops are likely to be deployed in Hilmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Zabul and Nimroz provinces, which are strongholds of Taliban.
“We are the largest international supporter for those Pakistanis displaced by the fighting. And going forward, the Pakistan people must know America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan’s security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed.”
“Various major operations have already been conducted in these areas, but Taliban did not trickle into Pakistani areas. They have innumerable areas in their own country to hide.” The expert says Taliban’s strategy in the face of major operations, such was the case with the “Dagger” operation in Hilmand province a few months back, is to disperse, hide and wait for a good time to attack.
The Obama administration has recently pushed through Congress a bill tripling aid to Pakistan.
“Therefore, in my opinion, there will be a little trickling into Pakistan following the deployment of additional troops in Taliban’s strongholds.”
The Islamabad for its part reacted carefully to Obama’s new strategy.
Professor Fatimi sees some benefit for Pakistan in the deployment of more American troops in Afghanistan.
“There is certainly a need for clarity and coordination on all aspects of the implementation of the strategy,” Abdul Basit, the Foreign Office spokesman, told IOL.
“If these additional troops manage to weaken Taliban that would be good news for us because Afghan and Pakistani Taliban have a linkage,” he says.
“Pakistan looks forward to engaging closely with the US in understanding the full import of the new strategy and to ensure that there would be no adverse fallout on Pakistan,” he added.
“It will help Pakistani forces.”
“Pakistan is committed to uprooting terrorism from our region and in advancing the cause of peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
He also notes that President Obama has understood the financial needs of Pakistan which is losing economically
Pakistan Govt. Struggles For Survival By Aamir Latif, IOL Correspondent ISLAMABAD – Shaken to its foundations by a court ruling scrapping amnesty to corruptiontainted politicians, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led government is struggling to contain the fallout of the landmark verdict and prevent its collapse. “Legally, the PPP can continue until it loses its majority in the parliament,” political analyst Rasul Baksh Raees told IslamOnline.net Saturday, December 19. “But yes, morally, the government is on a weak wicket, and facing a moral crisis.” The Supreme Court on Wednesday scrapped the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), under which corruption charges were dropped against PPP leaders, including President Asif Ali Zardari. Following the ruling, Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar was
banned from leaving the country on an official visit to close ally China.
country on right track.”
Interior Minister Rehman Malik was also summoned by a Pakistani court over re-opening a corruption case.
Zardari is immune from prosecution as president, but his eligibility for office could be challenged over corruption charges. Cabinet ministers have no such immunity.
The analyst urged the PPP-led government to take a positive approach in dealing with the verdict.
Corruption cases were also opened by the anti-corruption bureau against 52 officials.
Officials were tight lipped on the options up for discussion during the meeting.
“The Supreme Court has very wisely decided this complicated issue,” Abdul Khalique Ali, a Karachi-based political analyst, said.
“The party would like to take into account the point of view of its members, their suggestions and the strategy that the government should adopt,” said PPP spokeswoman Fauzia Wahab.
“There is no ouster of the elected government. It’s very simple equation that the all the accused has been given a chance to prove themselves not-guilty in the courts of law.” The ruling party was to hold crisis talks Saturday under Zardari in a bid to contain the fallout of the court ruling on the government. “The meeting will discuss the present political situation,” said Zardari spokesman Farhatullah
Ouster Analysts agree that the landmark court ruling has put the south Asian country on the right track. “I see this a milestone that would ultimately lead to corruption-free politics in Pakistan,” Raees said. “For the first time in the history of Pakistan, the top judiciary has given a judgment that has put the
“First, we have an independent judiciary, secondly, we are proceeding towards an environment wherein all those corrupt politicians who have looted this country cannot rule without clearing themselves off.” Ali, the agrees.
“If the PPP government tries to influence the judiciary and the investigators, I am afraid it will not be tolerated, and may lead to its ouster,” Raees said. “My sincere advice to all the NRO-beneficiaries to step down voluntarily to save the PPP from further dents.” Ali, the Karachi-based shares his view.
“The ball is in the government’s court,” he told IOL.
“If this judgment is implemented with its letter and spirit, it will change the dimension of the country’s politics,” he said.
“If it really respects the judgment, it will have a smooth sailing despite the fact that some hidden forces are out to oust the PPP government.
“It will be for the first time in the history of Pakistan, that there will be no discrimination between the government and the opposition members.”
“Resignation of those ministers charged with corruption and misuse of authority can wipe out the moral lacking.”
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“After this judgment, Pakistani nation has many positive points to enumerate,” he said.
Analysts predict a gloomy future for the PPP-led government over any attempt to influence the judiciary over the ruling.
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UN fights hunger in Afghanistan By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU
their toddlers on a scale used to identify children in deteriorating condition.
Associated Press Writer AQCHA, Afghanistan (AP) _ While international forces in Afghanistan battle militants hiding in the mountains, aid agencies are fighting an even more elusive enemy: malnutrition. The World Food Program and UNICEF have launched a project to feed thousands of mothers and children _ some too weak to cry. Aid workers hope a high-protein diet distributed through a network of village clinics can help them through the winter.
Two-year-old Sharafuddin weighed in at 9.5 kilograms (20.94 pounds).That’s extremely light for a 2-year-old boy, but the aid workers were thrilled _ a month before, he had weighed just 8 kilograms (17.64 pounds). ``We’re very happy for him. He’s just graduated to ‘moderately malnourished,’’’ said Nih Mohammed, the records manager who handed out the rations. Fed with ``Plumpy Nut,’’ a special fat-rich paste made from peanut butter, Sharafuddin had gained enough
Despite the billions spent in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban, the country is still comparable to the worst humanitarian crisis zones in Africa. Afghanistan has the world’s highest maternal mortality rate and the second-highest child mortality rate _ and hunger is a major reason why, the United Nations says. This year, centers across the country will feed 100,000 children and 35,000 pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Because there isn’t enough food for everybody, the $1million-per month handout to feeding centers focuses on new mothers and children under five, when hunger causes the most damage. The last government survey, conducted in 2004, shows that 48 percent of Afghan children are malnourished and another 5 percent acutely malnourished.
The WFP will spend US$319 million in Afghanistan this year, its second-largest humanitarian budget worldwide after Sudan. Aid includes handing out daily lunches to 1.4 million students as an incentive for parents to send their children, especially girls, to class.
The mothers received their weekly ration: 25 grams (0.88 ounces) of cooking oil with 215 grams (7.58 ounces) of corn and soya flour per child. The food doesn’t cover all the children’s needs, but it aims to provide the extra calories needed to avert the worst consequences of hunger.
Before receiving their rations, mothers balanced
``He’s been very ill three or four times, and he often has diarrhea,’’ said Fatima, whose husband is a farm hand in a village about a one-hour walk from the clinic. ``All my children and all the other children in the village would need rations too.’’
Indicators tracked by U.N. and Afghan government agencies paint an alarming picture of chronic hunger: 70 percent of children lack iodine, which can cause mental disabilities. A lack of vitamins and proper nutrients means much of the population has poor eyesight. Stunted growth is widespread. A quarter of Afghan children die before the age of five and nearly 2 percent of women die while giving birth.
``Most of the children are too tired and hungry, they don’t have the energy to cry,’’ said Dr. Nasrullah Sulfane, who oversees the program here.
``So far, attendance is a real success,’’ Sulfane said. ``I think all the families understand the benefits of free food.’’
``Since then, there are some areas where it has gotten worse,’’ said Anna-Leena Rasanen, the WFP’s nutrition program officer for Afghanistan. In certain zones, child malnutrition now hovers above the U.N.’s emergency level of 15 percent, she said.
Dozens of mothers, many clad in full burqa body veils, crouched in the clinic in Aqcha waiting for rations. The room was eerily silent except for gusts of wind that howled through the open door. Dozens of toddlers in their arms didn’t make a sound.
The program was launched in August amid widespread security concerns because Afghanistan’s insurgents have increasingly tended to target aid workers. There also were worries that conservative villagers would not let their women go to the feeding centers, where they might encounter foreigners regularly. That didn’t happen in Aqcha, a remote town lost on the barren steppes of northern Afghanistan.
The Aqcha feeding center is the only one in a district of about 100,000 people. Dr. Sayed Ahmad Shah said three children died of hunger-related disease last year in the district, but none so far this year.
weight to go home to his family, a high priority because most parents can’t afford to remain at a clinic, away from their fields and their other children. ``I’m happy that he’s better, but he’s still going to be hungry,’’ said the boy’s mother, Fatima, who like many Afghans goes by one name. Her five other children were skinny too, she said, though Sharafuddin was in the worst condition. He was born during Afghanistan’s 2007 drought when the family had little food and Fatima didn’t have breast
``The whole purpose of handing out food is that we’re now avoiding acute emergency cases,’’ he said, touring the crowded clinic to reach a ward for the worst of the malnourished children. ``Look, the room is empty. There are no cases,’’ Ahmad Shah said, pushing open the door to the room, packed instead with pregnant women about to give birth. They had taken over the ward because their wasn’t enough space for them elsewhere. ``Well,’’ said Ahmad Shah, who hastily closed the door after hearing surprised cries. ``What I meant is that it’s now empty of sad cases.’’
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Nigeria’s Anti-Hijab Employers
By Rafiu Oriyomi, Special for IslamOnline.net LAGOS – Muslim women in southern Nigeria are reportedly facing job discriminations in the private labour market, especially the banking sector, on account of their hijab which most employers consider unpatronising. Rasheedah Omolola Abdulkareem, a graduate of accounting, says she has been discriminated against twice during job interviews in multi-religious Lagos, Nigeria’s economic hub and former federal capital city.
said banks or any other establishments reserve the right to employ who they think will boost their business. He neither confirmed nor denied discrimination against veiled Muslim women. There is no law banning hijab anywhere in Nigeria, a country with a secular constitution but whose citizens are considered some of the world’s most religious.
“We have the same scenarios playing out in nursing schools,” Hajiah Mutiah Jumoh-Olagunju, president of the Al-Mu’minaat, told IOL. “It is worst in banks because it seems to be a no-go area for Muslim women.”
Mrs. Abdulkareem rushed home, put on a suit jacket and skirt, while still covering her head.
“They said my hijab will not make me smart,” she added. A spokesman of the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Nigeria (CIBN), who sought anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the sensitive issue,
“They told me my headscarf is not welcome and that my insistence could get me sacked,” she told IOL.
Al-Mu’minaat a nationwide coalition of mostly young Muslim women from various backgrounds, including the professionals, says the anti-hijab trend is on the rise.
“I went there only to be told that I was not dressing corporately.”
“I was told point blank I cannot be employed because I cannot market the bank with my religious dress,” she asserted.
Maymunat Ismail, a nurse in a private hospital in Ibadan in the south-western Oyo State, faces sanctions for her hijab.
“We are still dragging the issue with my fate hanging in the balance.”
“I met all their requirements. We were asked to write tests. I did and got a notification two weeks after that I passed the test and should come for interview,” she recalled.
She says the same happened in a job interview at a bank.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
“I told my parents to help plead with the proprietor that my appearance does not block my brain,” she added.
“In March this year, I visited the Integrated Corporate Service (ICS), a recruitment agency for banks and oil companies in Ilupeju, a suburb of Lagos, looking for job offers,” she told IslamOnline.net.
“But the interviewer, for reasons known to him, refused me access on my return, unless I remove my head cover. That was how I lost the job.”
“And since my religion is paramount I left the school.”
Most states in the Muslim-dominated North operate a Shari`ah legal code. Southern Nigeria is largely multi-religious, with Christians in the majority. Trend Idayat Adeola-Lawal, a graduate of College of Education, had similar experience when she wanted to teach at an elementary school in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State in southwest Nigeria. “The school authorities told me I cannot teach in their school with my Islamic garments,” she told IOL.
She brands such stances as a violation of “our human rights as guaranteed by the constitution of Nigeria and other global declarations of people’s rights.” The Al-Mu’minaat says its campaign against discrimination in government establishment is yielding positive results, with women now allowed to wear hijab in state hospitals and schools without any harassment. “But there is still a long way to go, because the battle is still ahead in the private sector,” admits JumohOlagunju “We will soon be filing cases in court to seek full respect of our fundamental human rights.”
Dashed Hopes for Disfigured Iraqis By Afif Sarhan, IOL Correspondent BAGHDAD – Basima Muhammed, 21, was preparing for her wedding night when a big boom changed his life.
bless me and bring a solution to my case because I’m not sure how long I will stand seeing my face totally marked and with scars that might never go away.
“I was visiting a friend who works in the same street so we could go to look after my weeding dress,” the Iraqi girl told IslamOnline.net Sunday, November 22.
“It is hard to see that one day you have one of the most wanted faces in Iraq and latter you turned into a monster, where even your fiance run away afraid from what you turned in,” she said.
“My marriage was scheduled after two months.”
Muhammed is not sorry for her fiance.
As she neared her friend’s house near the Ministry of Municipality, an explosives-laden car rocked the area, killing several people and injuring others.
“Now I’m the one who doesn’t want to marry him anymore,” she said.
The bereaved father is desperately seeking plastic surgeries for his beloved son. “He is too young and I don’t want my son to become a person who women run away from and rarely can find a friend to go out with,” he said. “Unfortunately it is a reality in Iraq, people look deep into your scars and aren’t ashamed of asking about it. It is a difficult situation to any human being.” But the high costs of the plastic surgeries kill any hope in the Iraqi father’s heart.
The explosion not only left many scars in Muhammed’s face, but also left her heart broken.
Thousands of Iraqis have been injured in the deadly violence that rocked the Arab country since the 2003 US invasion. Worsening their dilemma are the lack of plastic surgeons in Iraq and the high costs of the plastic operations. Muhammed’s hopes only revived after a foreign journalist offered to cover the expanses of her plastic surgeries to bring her face back to normal. “I pray for hours asking for God to
To cope with the high demand for plastic surgeries, Iraqi hospitals and clinics are dedicating more hours a day, sometimes overnight shifts. “The number of patients who attend in a day is similar to what many hospitals outside would take one month to care,” said Wissam. “Parents are desperate to find a solution for their children and relatives to remaining results of the bombing.”
But with the new wave of violence in the war-torn country, some injured Iraqis don’t wait for plastic surgeries.
With a broken heart, Muhammed recalls when her would-be fiance’s mother asked the doctor about her face.
“When he said that there was a possibility to remain some scars, my mother was informed two days latter that the marriage was going to be cancelled and not postponed.”
“In days close to attacks in Iraq, our number of patients increases impressively,” Dr. Thamer Wissam, a plastic surgeon at Wassit Hospital, told IOL.
An attendant at Wassit Hospital says the agenda of all doctors have pre-booked reconstructive and cosmetic surgeries until December and there are still many other cases to be attended on the coming year.
“(My wedding) has been cancelled after my arranged groom find out that my face was full with scars and I lost one of my hand fingers,” she says, with tears rolling down her checks.
“(She) asked the doctor in front of me if there was any possibility for my face to return as it was before.
for injured Iraqis to begin a new life.
“My daughter didn’t stand the scars in her body and face,” Nahlah Kammal, 49, a mother of three, told IOL.
“If a man isn’t able to stand beside his wife under a so critical situation, he isn’t the right man for me.” Dying Hopes Hussam Abdul-Qahhar’s son was injured in a car bomb blast in Baghdad a few months ago. “My son is only 7-years-old and suffered the injuries a couple of months ago when he was walking home from school with his cousin and a bomb came out close to them, he recalls. “My nephew just hurt his leg but my son lost part of his left ear and his face had many deep injuries that left disfigured with many uncomfortable scars.”
“I took my son to neighbouring countries looking for a good doctor and a low price for the surgeries and for the scars he had in his face and for a reconstruction surgery in his ears, I had to pay at least US $60,000 dollars. “Most of my money I had was spent travelling with my son looking for a surgery but we couldn’t afford,” he said. “Now, we are back in Iraq depending on public hospitals and the full agenda of the very few doctors who didn’t flee the country.” Desperation There has been a high demand for plastic surgeries across Iraq as the operations have become the only hope
“She was disfigured and a lot of work had to be done by the doctors, however, she couldn’t stand the suffering and committed suicide two months after the first surgery. “She was so pretty and had just had her first baby. She cried everyday when she looked into the mirror and used to call herself a monster. She killed herself scared that she wouldn’t return to what she was before. “Unfortunately she didn’t have patience and the delay in surgical procedures because of the demand helped to make her desperate. “God forgive her and the responsible for those bombing which she was victim and took her dreams away. If they don’t pay in this world, certainly God will punish them in the judgment day.”
India’s Successful Madrasas Speak English
IslamOnline.net & Newspapers
West Bengal has 474 state-run madrasas offering the same curriculum in the government schools.
the majority Hindus and other minorities like Christians and Sikhs.
CAIRO – As madrasas (Islamic schools) have become a mainstream education provider for thousands of Indians, the government of the eastern state of West Bengal is planning new English language madrasas to acquire students, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, with proficiency in the foreign language.
Non-Muslims make up 20 percent of students in West Bengal’s madrasas.
“Now, the English medium madrasas will prepare our students for better opportunities in higher education and modern careers in more efficient ways,” Abdus Sattar said.
Many of the students are groomed to become engineers, doctors, scientists and other modern professionals. “Modernisation of the curriculum in our madrasas has been going on for a while,” Abdus Sattar said.
“If everything goes well, soon all 19 districts of West Bengal will see 19 new madrasas where the medium of instruction will be English,” minority development and madrasa education minister Abdus Sattar told The National on Sunday, December 20.
“In the first phase we plan to build 11 such English medium madrasas in 11 minority-dominated districts of the state.”
Abdus Sattar said the new English language madrasas will be a lifeline for thousands of poor Indians.
Students in the new madrasas will study their subjects, including Islamic studies, in English.
“These madrasas will freely offer poor Muslims the opportunity to get quality English-medium education which is almost inaccessible to them otherwise.”
“We believe in modernising our traditional form of education so that boys and girls studying at our institutions can compete with the best,” said Sattar. “We shall leave no stone unturned to give our students the best in modern education.” Madrasas have become a mainstream education provider for tens of thousands of Indian students.
“Modern science, mathematics, computer applications … have already been introduced and they have been helping the madrasa students immensely.
Indian Muslims have suffered decades of social and economic neglect and oppression. The Muslim minority have been decrying for years that they comprise only a tiny percentage of police, army officers, public servants and public university students. They register lower educational levels and, as a consequence, higher unemployment rates than
“If we continue to follow only the vernacular medium, students of the minority community will be left behind. So we thought of launching the madrasas in English medium so that the minority students get the best education.” English had been taught in West Bengal schools, including at the primary level, since the colonial era. But the language was abolished by the ruling Marxist Left Front in the 1980s. Two decades later, English was reintroduced in schools after protests from locals that their kids were suffering at higher education levels and job markets over their poor English. “We badly need the English medium madrasas to supplement our existing system,” said Nurul Islam, the headmaster of Khalatpur High Madrasah. “Already many of our students have managed footholds in some modern professions. “The English medium madrasas will help immensely in developing students’ personality which will brighten their prospects in the modern job market.”
Egyptians building Gaza barrier come under fire By RIZEK ABDEL JAWAD
trying to attacks.
Associated Press Writer GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) _ Shots were fired from the Gaza Strip on Saturday at Egyptians installing an underground barrier meant to choke off the smuggling of goods and weapons through tunnels into blockaded Gaza. No one was reported injured in the attack, Palestinian and Egyptian officials said. But Egypt increased security in the border area after the fourth crossborder shooting since workers began building the metal barrier several weeks ago. The construction would tighten a blockade imposed on Gaza by Egypt and Israel after the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power over the tiny coastal territory in 2007. An Egyptian security official said nearly the full force of the 750-member border guard was called to the area, and dozens of additional armored vehicles were deployed near the frontier. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information to reporters. Gaza’s interior minister, Fathi Hamad, said in a statement that Hamas was
``The government confirms that it will protect Egypt’s security and it is in contact with the Egyptian government,’’ Hamad said. Egyptian officials have refused to confirm the barrier is being built. But in an interview published Saturday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit provided the first official confirmation that Cairo was reinforcing security along the border.``Whether it is a wall, sensors or tapping devices ... what matters is that Egyptian territory must be protected,’’ the weekly al-Ahram al-Arabi quoted him as saying. ``Whoever says Egypt is imposing its control on the border, we tell them this is Egypt’s full right.’’The barrier could worsen already tense relations between Egypt and Hamas, which relies on the tunnels to skirt the blockade.Although Egypt is worried by the presence of an Islamic militant government on its border, it has been wary about choking off the tunnel networks between Gaza and Egypt’s Sinai desert. It already has come under fire from Arab and Muslim countries for cooperating with Israel in blockading Gaza.
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Iraq Struggles to Revive Tourism By Afif Sarhan, IOL Correspondent
flights to Iraq from Europe, the Middle East, Gulf and Asia.
BAGHDAD – Although Iraq is a cradle of civilization and boasts scores of historical sites, the decades of war and the lack of investments have taken their toll at the tourism industry, something the government is trying hard to reverse.
Many airlines already fly direct from Europe to Baghdad and there are expectations that local airlines and British Airways will be flying direct from London next year.
“Iraq is home for more than 60 historical sites like the old Babylon, Sumerian monuments, ancient city of Ur, the Garden of Eden and biblical Ellasar,” Sundus Muhammad Kalil, member of the Iraqi Tourism Board, told IslamOnline.net.
Experts assert that security in the war-ravaged country also remains a major issue. (Reuters) Challenges
Tourism Board members in Baghdad, agrees. He says the country doesn’t have enough hotels, especially near historical sites, and the ones standing are in bad conditions. He regrets that with the exception of five stars hotels in Baghdad, Basra and Kurdistan, hotels in other cities lack many basic services that should be offered to tourists. “Most of the hotels in Iraq don’t have room services, security, laundry or Internet, some basic services found at a two starts hotel in London.” Experts assert that security in the war-ravaged country also remains a major issue.
She said these and many other tourist attractions have been neglected for years, lamenting the absence of any projects to reserve and protect them against human neglect and the elements of time and environment.
“Violence is still being a reality in the country and independent from the number of security personnel distributed in Iraq, foreigners won’t be safe as far as resistance groups are moving in the country,” says Hayatt, the tourism expert and consultant.
“The Saddam Hussein’s government didn’t invest and tourism was not on its agenda,” Kalil said.
He argues that any kind of propaganda will be useless because Iraq is still in the international media headlines as one of the most dangerous places worldwide for the attacks, killings, bombings and political disputes.
The government is trying to reinvigorate tourism, mainly in safe areas of the country. A week ago, a delegation of Iraqi officials attended the World Travel Market exhibition in London, one of the most famous showcases in the travel world, after nearly a decade absence.
“No person will take the risk to visit historical places without being sure his/her life is protected,” he insists. “At least two years from now is necessary for the government to guarantee full security to tourists and during this period restorations can be initiated to preserve the cultural heritage of Iraq,” Hayatt suggests.
They tried to convince British tourists of the potentials of the country to offer high-level tourism. Abd al-Zahra, media director for the Iraq Tourism Ministry, said the government wants to invest in tourism. “We are aware of all needs to help Iraq in becoming a tourist attraction and we are working to achieve our goal,” he told IOL.
However experts say that before they try to bring tourists, dedication and huge investment is necessary to save the sites.
“Any propaganda done outside won’t have effect if foreigners don’t feel able to move in the country without the dangerous of kidnapped or killed.”
Kalil, , member of the Iraqi Tourism Board, insists that before the government embarks on promotion campaigns it must provide the basic infrastructure including roads, restaurants, souvenir shops, bathrooms and tourist guides.
But despite security concerns, a British holiday company is already offering package trips to Iraq with prices starting from US $3,500 for two weeks, excluding plane and hotel charges.
“But we need international investments which will only come if Iraq participates in important tourism events worldwide and try to show the world that we are able to open our doors for tourists, not only for holy sites but also for our cultural heritage and historical sites.”
“Less than 10 percent of our tourist attractions have the above basic requirements.”
The government hopes to increase the number of direct
Ahmed Hayatt, tourism expert and consultant for
The company has been booking trips for the coming year despite Foreign Office warning that Iraq is a dangerous place for foreigners.
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Iranians seized Iraqi oil well By SAMEER N. YACOUB Associated Press Writer BAGHDAD (AP) _ Iranian troops crossed into Iraqi territory and seized an oil well that lies in a disputed area along the two countries’ southern border, Iraq’s deputy foreign minister said Friday. The deputy minister, Mohammed Haj Mahmoud, said Iranian troops seized oil well No. 4 Thursday night in the al-Fakkah oil field, located in Maysan province about 200 miles (about 320 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad. The oil field is one of Iraq’s largest.
_ taking care to avoid the appearance of a military incursion. Earlier Friday, however, Iraq’s deputy foreign minister confirmed in an Associated Press interview that it was Iranian soldiers who had seized the well. ``This is not the first time that the Iranians have tried to prevent Iraqis from investing in oil fields in border areas,’’ Mahmoud told the AP. The
the worker said. His account could not be immediately confirmed by officials. In Washington, a U.S. official said that although Iranians have crossed the border before, they had not previously ventured this far. Iraqi security forces were in the area, but there are no reports of any fighting or any shots being fired, he said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.
The incursion by armed Iranians provided a dramatic display of the simmering border tensions between two nations, which have nonetheless grown close in recent years after a Shiiteled government rose to power in Iraq following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Al-Dabbagh said Iraq and Iran have begun diplomatic talks as a result of the incursion. Al-Dabbagh said the well takeover was carried out by a group of armed Iranians
Last year, the Iraqi Oil Ministry accused Iran of stealing oil from the al-Fakkah field and of illegally seizing and capping off wells in a second field called Abu Gharb, which Iraq claims lies entirely within its territory. The two adjacent oil fields both lie in Maysan province.
Iraq has an estimated 115 billion barrels of proven oil reserves _ the world’s third largest, behind only Saudi Arabia and Iran. But years of neglect, war and insurgency have left the oil fields performing far below what they’re capable of. Iraq has been trying to attract international investment to develop its oil industry, including a round of international bidding last week that produced seven deals on the 15 fields offered.
Iraq’s national security council held an emergency meeting late Friday to discuss the oil well takeover, and the government accused Iran of violating its sovereignty.
``Iraq considers this penetration as a border breach and a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty,’’ al-Dabbagh said in a statement after the security council’s meeting. ``We call upon the Iranian government to solve all the border disputes with Iraq through diplomatic means and to avoid the use of military force.’’
Such incidents have happened before along the Iran-Iraq border, which was never clearly delineated after the brutal war between the two countries in the 1980s.
The deputy foreign minister said he did not know whether the Iranians were still in control of the oil well. The U.S. military in Iraq said it did not have any information on the incident.
Oil prices rose slightly after news of the incident.
Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the seizure showed anew the need for clearly defined borders between Iraq and Iran.
a shared field between Iran and Iraq, meaning both nations are able to pump oil from it, but the Iraqis consider oil well No. 4 theirs. Iraq’s state-owned Maysan oil company runs the field. Iranian soldiers carrying rifles seized the well Thursday night in a 25-car convoy and ordered the Iraqi workers to leave the area, according to a worker at the site who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution. The soldiers then mounted an Iranian flag inside the well, he said. There were no reports of violence during the incident, and Iranian forces left the well on Friday, leaving the flag behind,
Eid Photo Correction
The Iranians are believed to have left the area, he said. An official at the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad who did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to news media told the AP that the reports of Iran seizing the oil well were ``baseless and mere rumors.’’ A message left for Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman seeking comment was not returned Friday evening. Iran’s semiofficial Mehr news agency quoted officials at the National Iranian Oil Company as denying reports that Iranian troops crossed the border.
The al-Fakkah field, which has about 1.55 billion barrels of oil in reserves, was offered along with another two adjacent fields as a single group in Iraq’s first postwar oil and gas bidding round in June. The group, which also included the Buzurgan and Abu Gharab fields, received only one bid by a consortium grouping China’s CNOOC Ltd. and Sinochem International Co. Ltd. But their bid sought $21.4 from the government for each barrel produced and was rejected by the Oil Ministry, which wanted a price of $2.3 a barrel. The three-field group’s daily production ranges from 90,000 to 110,000 barrels per day.
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16 INTERNATIONAL Palestinian village caught amid Israel settlements January 2010
By BEN HUBBARD Associated Press Writer
At the same time, Israel refuses to let the village pave the mile-long road to the highway and regularly bulldozes it shut, calling it ``illegal’’ and forcing villagers to make a 13-mile detour.
QARIOUT, West Bank (AP) _ In this West Bank village surrounded by Israeli settlements, a Palestinian farmer says he has documents proving he owns his land. On a nearby hill, Jewish settler Batya Medad says she too has proof of ownership _ the Old Testament.
Muqbil said he has lost two of his three plots to settlements. The army confiscated one in 1982 and settlers now grow grapes on it. Settlers chased him from another in 2003, then planted olive trees, he said.
This quarrel over the land Palestinians claim for their future state is the chief roadblock in Middle East peace efforts. Mohammed Muqbil was born in this West Bank village in 1939; Medad has lived in neighboring Shiloh since its creation four decades later. They speak different languages and have never met, though their homes lie less than a mile apart.
His remaining plot, near the Shvut Rachel settlement, has been a battleground since 2000. Settlers have plowed up his wheat, harvested his olives, prevented him from working and even beat him up, he said. In 2007, a settler uprooted his 300 trees with a bulldozer. Muqbil’s father farmed the plots before the 70year-old farmer was born, and Muqbil said he has
planted 70 new olive trees, which won’t produce for five years. He worries they won’t live that long. ``I’m scared they’ll tear them out again,’’ he said. Shmaya Tiran, a spokesman for the Shvut Rachel settlement, said Muqbil’s claims are ``lies he tells the media.’’ ``He invaded our land and planted crops, not the other way around. This land belongs to us, not to him. Nobody here attacked him,’’ he said. Some Israelis view the settlements as a front line of defense against their enemies; others call them a religious imperative. In Shiloh, a town of 2,200 people, billboards advertise new homes, and foundations have been laid for about 10 new buildings. The community has two schools, a seminary, three synagogues and a swimming pool, said Medad.
And between them lies the harsh conflict over Israel’s West Bank settlements.
The Bible gives Jews the right to live in Shiloh, she said.
The Palestinians have refused to resume negotiations until all settlement building stops. Last month, Israel’s government announced a 10-month halt to new construction in hopes of bringing the Palestinians to the table. But east Jerusalem and some 3,000 homes already under construction were exempt and the Palestinians rejected it.
``In most of the Western world, when you swear on the Bible, you are swearing that Shiloh is Jewish,’’ she said. Medad and her husband immigrated from Great Neck, N.Y., to Israel in 1970. She said when they came to Shiloh the hills were covered with wildflowers because ``nobody had ever walked here, nobody had cultivated it, nobody owned it.’’
Qariout, a rocky village of 2,600 people about 20 miles north of Jerusalem, illustrates why Palestinians are desperate to halt the spread of Jewish settlements. Beyond the political issue of their effect on borders for any future Palestinian state, settlements restrict daily life in hundreds of West Bank villages and gobble up farmland _ Qariout has lost two-thirds of its land since 1979. That was the year Shiloh was founded _ the first settlement created in the area. Two other settlements have since sprung up, along with six smaller wildcat outposts, which, although illegal under Israeli law, get electricity, water and protection from the government. Together, they surround Qariout on three sides and deny it access to about two-thirds of its land, according to the Israeli rights group Yesh Din, which tracks settlements. The Israeli government has officially allocated 28 percent of the village’s original 2,100 acres to nearby settlements, said Dror Etkes of Yesh Din. Another 35 to 40 percent has been taken unofficially by settlers or the Israeli army, he said. Settlers sometimes fence off or cultivate plots, chasing off Palestinians who try to reach them, Etkes said. At other times, Israeli authorities seize land to build army posts or roads between settlements. Once a road is built, villagers can rarely reach the land beyond it, he said.
She is 60 and vows no peace deal can make her leave.
documents from Israel and Jordan, ruler of the West Bank until 1967, proving his ownership. He also keeps an inch-thick stack of Israeli police reports he filed after each incident _ all to no avail, he said. Yesh Din has documented 14 incidents near Qariout of criminal trespassing and attacks on Palestinians by settlers in the last two years. But complaints rarely bear fruit. An Israeli police statement said that of 60 cases involving damaged trees in the West Bank over the past three years, only three brought indictments. That’s because the vandalism is often carried out at night by ``lone perpetrators’’ and Palestinians sometimes wait months or years to file complaints, the statement said. Neta Patrick of Yesh Din’s legal team said ``such investigations are not the top priority of the Israeli police.’’ Investigators rarely collect forensic evidence or check settlers’ alibis when looking into alleged settler crimes, she said. Muqbil now reaches his remaining field only a few times a year, in coordination with the army. He has
``I don’t need anybody’s permission to live here. The Jewish people have a long, long history. We don’t have to listen to upstarts,’’ she said. Behind Medad stood about 30 trailers for new residents waiting for homes, followed by rows of greenhouses. Shiloh and its neighbors are surrounded by security roads lined with surveillance cameras, concertina wire and guard dogs every 30 yards to keep Palestinians away and prevent attacks. Medad denied her Arab neighbors had history in the area and said she rarely thinks about them. ``If they want to live in peace with us, they can stay,’’ she said. ``If they don’t want peace, then they should go.’’ In Qariout, Mayor Abdelnasser Bedawi says true peace would require settlers to leave. ``How can you make a state when there are settlements all over the West Bank?’’ he asked. He recalled his childhood when he’d swim in a local spring and play in a field where his family grew wheat and tomatoes. Today, he doesn’t let his 7-year-old son leave the village for fear he’ll run into settlers. He’s not sure where the boy would go anyway: Both the field and the spring now lie inside Shiloh.
Alcohol Divides Basra By Afif Sarhan, IOL Correspondent BASRA – The government’s decision to backtrack on banning alcohol sale and consumption in Basra drew mixed reactions from people in the southern city. “I don’t agree with the lifting after everything was smoothly working,” shopkeeper Ahmed Obeidi, 43, told IslamOnline.net. “Drinking alcohol is common in western countries but not in Muslim ones. “It is true that many Arabic countries allow liquors to be sold anywhere but Iraq has an Islamic history and allowing alcohol is an offence,” he fumed. Basra provincial council passed a decree in August banning the sale of alcohol in the southern city. But local authorities changed heart earlier in December after protests from non-Muslim minorities and NGOs. “For the first time the local government had done something in benefit of the future Muslim generations,” said Obeidi. “But the new legislation withdrawal takes away any hope with it.”
in prohibiting intoxicants. It forbids Muslims from drinking or even selling alcohol. The general rule in Islam is that any beverage that get people intoxicated when taken is unlawful, both in small and large quantities, whether it is alcohol, drugs, fermented raisin drink or something else. Mixed Reactions Ala’a, the primary school teacher, is now worried about her three son. “I have youth at home who are willing to try new experience in life and they have colleagues who use to drink,” she told IOL. “Every time my sons go out with them I pray for them to come back clean, without drinking alcohol which is against my religion.”
Mariam Hussein Ala’a, 41, primary school teacher and mother of three, is also critical of the ban lifting.
Alcohol consumption is reaching worrying levels in Iraq, especially among youths of different social classes and genders.
“We are a Muslim country and drinking is a western heritage that isn’t part of our history,” she told IOL.
Any person can buy the intoxicating products without being asked to prove his age.
Islam takes an uncompromising stand
“If they had kept the ban, at least I will
know that it is hard to be consumed and I will sleep better knowing that my sons are much more protected,” fumed Ala’a. But Basra local authorities defending their decision.
“Although Muslims are the majority in the region, prohibiting the alcohol consumption now will hurt democracy and force minorities to look for unsafe options,” argues Hashimi Aleiybi, a spokesman for Basra Gover norate Consul. Au t h o r i t i e s say they were forced to ban alcohol under pressures from religious politicians and groups. “We were pressured by religious entities and politicians to ban alcohol consumption,” Khalid Abdullah, senior official in Basra Provincial Council, recalled. “We were the only province to ban alcohol and it is unfair for the minorities who run the business and were being forced to close their shops and move to other parts of the country.” The sale and consumption of alcohol is authorized across Iraq, including the capital Baghdad.
During Saddam Hussein’s regime, alcohol consumption in public places was forbidden. But in 2005, the Ministry of Interior abolished restrictions on alcohol, nightclubs and casinos introduced in the 1990s. Now bars, pubs and liquor stores are back to business and proliferating. “We have to be aware that any person has the right to use, buy or sell what he thinks is important for him, even if it is unhealthy under Islamic eyes,” argues Abdullah. “If Muslims don’t want contact with alcohol, they just have to keep away from the shops, but forcing the total closure is unfair and unconstitutional.” Salah Kareem Jassin, 38, agrees. “Everything that is prohibited is more interesting. If it is allowed, people will have the chance to decide what is better for them, rather than go after the curiosity that is drinking alcohol,” he argued. “There are hundreds of ways to get a drink and the ban will just put people in danger by trying to get it from the local alcohol mafia.” But for Ala’a, the primary school teacher and mother of her three, the argument is flawed. “I hope after a while the ban can be used nationally and not only in Basra, so Muslims in this country can be protected from bad influences and live a good and clean life.”
DEAR SISTER HANA / HEALTH
DEAR SISTER HANA
Sister Hana is a Certified Counselor from Arizona State University. She is a Muslim therapist who is able to provide guidance and support to my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters in an Islamic and therapeutic way. She has experience in a large range of concerns including depression, anxiety, identity crisis, relationships, life skills, coping skills, anger management, and trauma. Inshallah with this column she will be able to provide you with confidentiality and help to any concern you may have. Please feel free to write to us and anticipate my reply in the monthly edition of Muslim Voice to firstname.lastname@example.org Dear Sister Hana, I am a 17 years old and about to start college, I want to move out of my parents home and they are not happy with that because i am a girl. I really want to go to medical school and the only one available is too far to stay home and I would have to live in a dorm. My parents are really upset that I want to move. I understand their opinion and where they are coming from, but my brother is away for college and they are okay with that, why not for me. I am having a really hard time with this and its making me really depressed, to the point that I just might do it regardless of what they say; I really don’t want to do that, so what should I do? Any advice? Dear sister, Thank you so much for your inquiry, I am sure there are many other young Arab women in your shoes. My advice to you would be to try to talk to your parents about this situation. I think it would be beneficial for all of you to explain to each other the pros and cons of you leaving for college and you feelings about the move. Your parents might explain that its not culturally acceptable for women to move away for college and that might bring shame to them, and that does not mean that you are bringing shame to them or that you will be doing anything wrong, that is just how they were raised with those cultural beliefs. You have to try to understand their point of view especially if you want them to understand your point of view. When you and your parents both have a conversation of the pros and cons of you moving, maybe the three of you can come up with a compromise that you will all be okay with and that will make you and your parents happy. If you want to go to medical school, you still have four years to complete first and maybe you can do those years in a closer college and then move when you get into med school, for example. What ever works for your family, however I really want to emphasize to you to not do anything just because they don’t want you to. If your parents are mad at you Allah will not be happy with that and you want to make sure Allah is happy in order to have good things happen to you in your life. So please try to help your parents understand or come up with a compromise you are all happy with. Good luck with this situation, I know Allah will choose the best for you. Sincerely, Sister Hana Dear Sister Hana,
My wife and I are having many fights, alot of negatively and bad communication. I don’t know how it started but we were not like that before. I know that we are both under alot of stress but I know that is not a good enough reason. you have any advice on healthy communication that would be helpful for us? Thank you. Dear Brother, Thank you for your inquiry and I do have excellent advice for you.. Communication is to key to all relationships-healthy communication that is! It does not matter when it started or why it started, all that matters is that you both acknowledge the problem and are willing to work on it. I will provide you with information that I read from a book called, “The Four Agreements” by Don Ruiz. I would really advice you to get this book if you like what you hear. What this book explains is that four agreements that all people need to make in order to have healthy communication. Healthy communication started with how we communicate with our-self, our self-talk. The first agreements is “Be impeccable with your word”- the agreement that every word out of our mouth and even in our thoughts should be a word that is kind, nice, respectful, and non judgmental. You know, Islam promoted this way before this book was written. So if you and your wife first agree to be impeccable with your words towards each other and even towards yourselves you communication will improve dramatically. The second agreements is “Don’t take things personally”- no matter what people say or do to us, it is because of their own problem, no because of us. If you and your wife understand this, there will be no room for hurt, or defensiveness, and that would also eliminate alot of mis-communication. The third agreement is “Don’t Make Assumptions”- ask for what you want, don’t assume people will know even if they have known you forever! If we have clear communication, and ask for what we want and ask others what they want from us, there will be no room for mistaken assumptions, anger and resentment. Making assumptions is very common in relationships and can cause alot of conflict the would be prevented if only we ask. And finally the last agreement is “Always do your Best” - meaning, we cannot expect our selves to do the the first three agreements perfectly and all the time, however we can definitely try our best and see our relationships improve. If we try our best there is not room for feeling guilty or self blame. These four agreements can be used in any relationship, not just in marriages. I would really recommend you getting the book and reading it with your wife and I wish you both the best of luck. May Allah Bless your relationship. Sincerely, Sister Hana
Kick The Caffeine Habit Naturally By Anisa Abeytia Caffeinated Spider Although caffeine and coffee have become somewhat interchangeable words, caffeine does not just mean coffee. Caffeine is found in many other sources like black tea, colas, chocolate and energy drinks. There are various reasons to kick the caffeine habit, but it is important to first understand why you have a fondness for caffeine. Is This an Addiction? Many people’s like for caffeine goes beyond fondness and is a true addiction. Caffeine is an addictive substance like nicotine, alcohol, opiates and yes, sugar. It may seem difficult to view foods as addictive, but food can and does alter and affect our brain. Caffeine does this by acting on the central nervous system. Some people may consume caffeine, as in coffee, daily not due to addiction, but as a laxative. Constipation is a common complaint it the Western World and some people have discovered that coffee is a strong laxative. This, however, will not fix the larger issue of constipation and its causes. In today’s world, the adrenal glands are worked very hard due to excessively stressful lifestyles. The adrenal glands can become fatigued and can even become atrophied (shrunken) due to over use. Caffeine can be used as a whip to keep the adrenals going -for a while at least. When sugar is added in, it makes it an even more effective whip. However, the adrenal glands will continue to suffer and cause a host of disorders from allergies to hypothyroidism, so it is better to address the issue than to continue to self medicate. Caffeine is also known to be a natural pain killer and is used in many pharmaceuticals to kill pain. Aches and pains are common today, but are not normal. They are the body’s signal that something is not functioning well. If you are experiencing pain, particularly of an unknown origin, check with your health care provider to discover its source instead of masking the symptoms with caffeine. What is a Safe Intake of Caffeine? Caffeine sensitive people may experience the following symptoms: · Inability to stop hands or legs from shaking · Cold sweats · Uncomfortable surge of energy · Double vision
is not considered harmful in moderate doses. However, amongst researchers there remains a debate as to the safety of caffeine consumption.
There are many supportive actions you can take to help insure a smooth transition to a caffeine free life. These steps include:
According to world food expert George Mateljan, no studies have shown problems with caffeine consumption of less than 75 milligrams per day. He also states that “most studies showing potentially problematic effects of caffeine consumption have focused on intakes above 200 milligrams.”
- A diet rich in fruits and vegetables
Other people, due to a problem with a slow detoxification system, may be very sensitive to caffeine. These people will hold caffeine in their system longer than other people, effectively retaking the caffeine over and over again instead of excreting it at a normal pace. Caffeine Withdrawal When someone considers quitting caffeine, the “scary” part is the withdrawal symptoms. This is why it is not recommended to quit “cold turkey” (all of a sudden). The amount of caffeine that is consumed each day, as a rule, will determine the “intensity” of symptoms. The amount of caffeine someone is used to consuming will typically coincide with the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms. Another factor to take into consideration is how addicted someone is to the effects of caffeine.
- Water Caffeine, especially in coffee, cola and teas dehydrates the body. Withdrawal symptoms can be increased due to dehydration. Gradually increase your water intake by one 8 oz glass a day during the first week, two the second week, three the third week. You want to at least reach eight, 8 oz glasses of water a day, but you may require more. - Relaxation
These symptoms occur due to the brain’s reaction to a reduction in caffeine, which increases blood flow to the brain. This increase in blood flow also increases the amount of glucose (sugar) available to the brain.
Some people find it easier to quit caffeine when they have acupuncture done. It may help reduce or eliminate symptoms by working on the nervous system and by regulating blood flow.
Symptoms most commonly associated with caffeine withdrawal are:
“Most studies showing potentially problematic effects of caffeine consumption have focused on intakes above 200 milligrams.”
• Dizziness • Headaches • Depression • Inability to concentrate • Fatigue • Mood swings • Heightened Post Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) symptoms • Drowsiness • Flu-like symptoms • Muscle stiffness • Aches • Nausea • Vomiting There are two ways to reduce your intake of caffeine: 1) Reduce the amount you drink daily. So if you drink 4 cups a day, reduce it to three cups for the first week, two cups the second week and so forth. You can also gradually reduce the serving size. If you usually drink 16 ounces of a caffeine beverage, reduce it to 14 or 12 ounces the first week and continue to reduce the amount.
How to Reduce Symptoms
Caffeine is a naturally occurring component in food and
Rest is a key component to any change or healing program. Rest allows your body to adjust. The needed amount of sleep can vary from 5-8 hours a night, but also allow yourself to take a nap during the day. As a rule, if you are tired, sleep or rest.
Many people who use caffeine like the adrenaline rush it gives them. Relaxation is not typically on their agenda, but everyone needs time to replenish themselves. Moderate and I stress the word moderate exercise can provide the same pick-me-up and it can also be relaxing.
· Heart palpitations
· Swimming head
This will independently affect the intensity of withdrawal symptoms, regardless of caffeine intake. In order to allow the body time to adjust to this change it is a good idea to quit gradually by reducing your intake. Symptoms can occur 12 to 24 hours after quitting caffeine and can last from two to nine days.
2) Reduce the amount of coffee or tea used to brew the beverage. You can also reduce the amount of tea or coffee by reducing the time the beverage seeps and/or the amount used to brew it. This method will obviously not work for cola drinkers.
A well balanced diet can help replenish nutrients lost by continual intake of caffeine. Foods that are most nutrient dense are dark, leafy greens (spinach, collard, kale, chard) and sprouts (alfalfa, sunflower, broccoli).
- Herbs Calming herbs like lavender, chamomile, lemon balm and catnip (it drives cats wild, but is calming to humans) can help with withdrawal jitters. Anything stronger than that and you should consult with a trained herbalist. A cup of ginseng tea can provide an energy boost and can be used as a caffeine free drink to assist in decreasing the amount of coffee, tea or cola you consume. - Supplements Even with the best diet, it may be difficult to replenish stores of nutrients after prolonged deficiencies, so you may want to consider taking supplements. Important supplements include the B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, vitamin A and antioxidants. There are many approaches; the most important thing is to find a system that works for you.
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ISLAMIC WEEKEND SCHOOLS Islamic Community Center of Phoenix:
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Check our website for up to date information www.tempemasjid.com
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IN CASE OF DEATH • Call Sandy at Angel’s Burial, at 480-962-6435 • Total cost is $1,800.00
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Hint: If the paper is too thin to color, make a Xerox copy then color it. Ages 3-12, please send a picture of yourself.
COLORING CONTEST FOR KIDS
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ISLAMIC CENTERS IN ARIZONA
PHOENIX Arizona Cultural Academy 7810 S. 42nd Pl. • Phoenix 602-454-1222
5645 N. 15th ave. Phoenix, AZ 85015 602-413-5279
Masjid Muhammad Ibn Abdulle
MESA Masjid-el-Noor 55 N. Matlock • Mesa 480-644-0074
Islamic Center of Arizona 9032 N. 9th St. • Phoenix
Al Rasoul Mosque 5302 N. 35th Ave. • Phoenix 602-864-1817
SCOTTSDALE Islamic Center of N.E. Valley 12125 E. Via Linda • Scottsdale 480-612-4044
Islamic Center of N. Phoenix 13246 N. 23rd Ave. 85029 602-371-3440 Islamic Comnty Ctr of Phx 7516 N. Black Canyon Hwy. Phoenix • 602-249-0496 Muslim Community Mosque 1818 N. 32nd St. • Phoenix 602-306-4959 Masjid Al-Rahmah 2645 E. McDowell Rd. • Phoenix 602-275-5493
PEORIA Greenway Islamic Center 6724 West Greenway • Peoria, AZ www.greenwaymasjid.com
CHANDLER Masjid AsSalam 1071 N. Alma School Rd.• Chandler 480-250-7522
TEMPE Islamic Comnty Ctr of Tempe 131 E. 6th Street • Tempe Islamic Center of East Valley 480-894-6070 425 N. Alma School Dr. • Chandler Masjid Al Mahdi 602-388-9900 1016 S. River Dr. • Tempe 480-557-9699 LAVEEN Islamic Center of Laveen Masjid Omar Bin Al-Khattab P.O. Box 1107 • Laveen 6225 S.McClintock • Tempe 602-361-4401 480-775-6627
ISMAART DRIVING SCHOOL Professional Driving Instructions ﻣﺪرﺳﺔ ﺗﻌﻠﻴﻢ اﻟﺴﻴﺎﻗﺔ
Our Mission Learning to drive can be overwhelming. Ismaart Driving School is committed to provide a high quality driving programs (DEFENSIVE DRIVING) to ensure a relaxed, enjoyable driving experience, from zero level student or mid level student to high standard driving education. We are dedicated to help the learner`s achievement and pass the instruction permit and practical driving test. 99% of our students pass the test. Customer satisfaction is guaranteed.
OUR SERVICE • Up to 4 hours of Defensive Driving Technique Classes • Written Test • Instruction Permit Certificate • 6 or 9 or 12 or 18 Hours Behind the wheel training • Pick up and Drop off • One on One Training • Road Test • Driver License Certificate • Student will not have to take the written or road test at MVD office. • All tests will be completed in our office.
Office: 602-354-3558 Direct: 602-481-0697 Fax: 602-354-3559 Email: email@example.com www.smaartdriver.com
LANGUAGES English – Arabic – Spanish – Somali – Swahili – Amharic
4801 E. Mcdowell Rd. Ste 205 Phoenix, AZ 85008
Serving the Valley for many years
Open 7 Days a Week Call us we love to help Hours: Mon-Sat 9am - 8pm Sun 11pm - 5pm
• We cut and wrap your
meats for you
• Imported cheeses
• Imported olives
• Pita breads
• Whole lamb & goat
Serving the European, Indo-Pak, Persian, Middle Eastern Comunities Large selection of Halal meats (chicken, goat, beef, lamb, quails etc.)
We will meet or beat any advertised price Speciales Halal Chicken $149/lb. Alwadee Foul 69¢ / can Fresh vegetables and Halal meats delivered weekly
602-866-2555 3502 W. Greenway Rd. Phoenix, AZ
The best Indian food in the valley Now serving Breakfast 602-298-4606 4255 West Bell Rd. Phoenix 85053
F i n e
C a s u a l
D i n i n g
Now available 2010 edition for more information
602-258-7770 Now you can view the entire directory online at www.myplink.com
Published on Jan 1, 2010