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7 February 2013

The World News Headlines Muslim Council welcomes action on pork scandal

This Week Bulgaria suspects Hezbollah

Bulgaria has pointed an accusing finger at the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah over a bus bombing last July that killed five Israeli tourists. Tsvetan Tsevtnov, Bulgarian interior minister, said on Tuesday that two of the suspects had entered the country respectively with an Australian and a Canadian passport. “We have established that the two were members of the military wing of Hezbollah,” he said. “They had Canadian and Australian passports ... [and] lived in Lebanon since 2006 and 2010.”


he Muslim Council of Britain welcomes the suspension by the Ministry of Justice of a supplier after it discovered that halal pies and pasties sourced from a properly halal-certificated supplier may contain traces of porcine DNA (pork). Dr Shuja Shafi, Deputy Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said: “This discovery underscores the dire need in this country to establish agreed standards, processes and regulations amongst our halal meat suppliers. “Muslims seek to fulfil their religious obligations by consuming halal-certified food and a lot of trust is placed in this industry. We need a collective approach to ensure these expectations are realised. “We call upon the Food Standards Agency to identify where else the product may have been supplied and remove it from the halal food chain by enacting their ‘food alert’ product ‘recall’ procedures. “There is a need for strengthening the partnership between the community, suppliers, government agencies and consumers. The Muslim Council of Britain is initiating the process by sending a questionnaire to Halal Certification bodies and calling a meeting of stakeholders.”

Ahmedinejad visits Morsi

Abdul Quader Molla, senior Jamaat-e-Islami party leader, sentenced to life for crimes against humanity during 1971 war

Bangladesh sentences Qader over war crimes


Bangladeshi court has sentenced a senior opposition official to life in prison for mass murder and crimes against humanity during the 1971 liberation war against Pakistan. Abdul Quader Molla, 64, the fourth highest ranked leader of the country’s Jamaat-eIslami party, has been found guilty of rape, genocide and murder, by the controversial International Crimes Tribunal. Six leaders of the party are on trial before the much-

criticised domestic court based in Dhaka. They too have been accused of committing atrocities during the ninemonth war against Pakistan. Molla has been tried on six counts, including playing a role in the killing of 381 unarmed civilians, the prosecution says. He denies the charges. Meanwhile, Jamaat announced a nationwide strike on Tuesday and said it would resist at any cost a “government blueprint” to execute its leaders. Riots rocked Dhaka be-

fore the verdict as police clashed with protesters near Old Dhaka after they smashed cars and autorickshaws. “We fired several rounds of rubber bullets to disperse them,” police inspector Mizanur Rahman told AFP. Security was tight in the capital with more than 10,000 policemen on patrol. Schools were closed and many shops and businesses shuttered. Motorways linking Dhaka with other cities were largely empty.

The Tribunal, a domestic body with no international oversight, was created by the country’s secular government in 2010. It has been tainted by allegations it is politically motivated, targeting only senior opposition officials. Both Jamaat and the main opposition BNP have labeled the cases “show trials” aimed at barring the leaders from upcoming polls. International rights groups have questioned the proceedings.

Rushanara Ali MP backs ‘IF’ campaign against global hunger


ushanara Ali MP, Shadow Minister for International Development, joined MPs and Peers of all parties in the Palace of Westminster for the launch of a major new campaign by 100 of Britain’s leading development charities and faith groups. The event was hosted by Mr Speaker, the Rt John Bercow MP and newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky and featured speeches from the Deputy Prime Minister, Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP,

the Leader of the Labour Party, Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP, and the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP. ‘Enough Food for Everyone IF’ is the largest coalition of its kind in the UK since Make Poverty History in 2005. The campaign warns that in a world where there is enough food for everyone, the scandal of children growing up hungry also imposes a grave economic burden on the developing world, costing £78

billion over the next 15 years. As well as the 937 million children and young people (aged 15-40) whose life chances will be permanently damaged by the impact of childhood hunger by 2025, the report estimates that malnutrition will be costing developing countries an annual $125 billion (£78 billion) in lost economic output by 2030. Ms Ali said: “Great strides have been made in reducing poverty and 14,000

fewer children are dying each day than in 1990. “But hunger is threatening to reverse these achievements and climate change is making things even worse. “I’m delighted to be backing the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign – we really do have the opportunity to make 2013 an historic year by showing global leadership and delivering clear plans to tackle hunger and its root causes at the G8 and beyond.”

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, has discussed the Syrian conflict and other issues with Mohamed Morsi, his Egyptian counterpart, in an historic state visit to Cairo, state media reports. Ahmadinejad flew into the Egyptian capital Cairo to attend a summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which begins on Wednesday. Morsi gave Ahmadinejad a red-carpet welcome on the tarmac at Cairo airport on Tuesday, shaking the Iranian’s hand and exchanging a kiss on each cheek as a military honour guard stood at attention.

Kuwait sentences activists

A Kuwaiti court sentenced three former members of parliament to three years in prison – with hard labor – on charges of insulting the nation’s ruler, a human rights group said Tuesday. Falah Al-Sawagh, Bader Al-Dahoum and Khalid Al-Tahou are currently out on bail. They will appeal the decision, the Kuwait Society for Human Rights said. More than 300 people are currently detained in Kuwait on charges of insulting the emir, which is a crime under the national security law, said Mohammed Al-Humaidi, director of the human rights group.

Saudi killer preacher let go

Ali: backing hunger campaign

A ‘celebrity’ Saudi preacher accused of raping and torturing his five-year-old daughter to death has been released from custody after agreeing to pay ‘blood money’. Fayhan al-Ghamdi had been accused of killing his daughter Lama, who suffered multiple injuries including a crushed skull, broken back, broken ribs, a broken left arm and extensive bruising and burns.


7 February 2013

News This Week Dell to be bought by owner

In a partnership involving private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, Microsoft and company founder Michael Dell, the group hopes to buy the computer maker for $13.65 a share. That’s slightly higher than where the stock closed Monday but is 25% higher than where Dell was trading before rumors of the buyout began to surface in mid-January. If successful, the Dell deal would be one of the largest leveraged buyouts in history.

FIFA vows to act on fixing

FIFA has vowed to act on revelations of worldwide match-fixing, but its top security official warns that the governing body will need help from outside football to eradicate the problem. Monday’s report from Europol said that 380 matches across Europe had been fixed by an Asiabased crime syndicate, including World Cup and European Championship qualifiers as well as the continent’s top club competitions.

Protest over Arsal deaths

Tens of people blocked a street with burning tires in the suburbs of Beirut after the death of two military soldiers last Friday in the village of Arsal (Bekaa). The Lebanese Army apprehended Saturday four gunmen who were trying to flee from Arsal, a day after an ambush on the military claimed the lives of an officer and a soldier in the border town.

Boy freed after kidnap

A five-year-old boy freed Monday after being held captive in an underground bunker for six days is laughing and smiling and playing with his favorite toy dinosaur after being reunited with his family, authorities said. The boy’s kidnapper is dead, but officials offered no details on the raid that freed the boy – identified only by his first name, Ethan – and left his abductor fatally shot.

Ahemdinejad in space?

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he is prepared to follow a monkey and take the risk of being the first Iranian astronaut sent into space as part of his country’s goal of a manned space flight. “I’m ready to be the first Iranian to sacrifice myself for our country’s scientists,” he said.

Alzheimer’s Society reaches out to minority communities


he Alzheimer’s Society launched its Connecting Communities project, focused on raising awareness of dementia within BME communities across eight London boroughs on last 28th January at London Muslim Centre Over the next three years, this pilot project will take a new approach to reaching and supporting people with dementia who are traditionally hard to reach. In Hillingdon, Lambeth, Merton, Enfield, Newham, Redbridge, Hounslow and Croydon, Community Engagement volunteers will work to improve understanding of the condition and ensure people within different cultural communities have access to the support they need to live well with the condition. Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society said: ‘There are over 11,500 people with dementia from black and minority ethnic groups in the UK but many struggle to access services. This award will enable us to help people in these harder to reach communities get the support and information they need to live well with the condition. Through the funding our volunteers will make a real difference to people’s lives.’ Lutfur Rahman, Executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets who attended the event and cut the cake to celebrate one year of

The Alzheimer’s Society aims to connect different communities together to help support people with Alzheimer’s and dementia ‘Bangladeshi Dementia Café’ – known as ‘Monday Memory Service’ said: “It is wonderful to see how Alzheimer’s Society taking initiatives to work with

different communities to raise awareness about dementia.” If you want to know more about this cultural specific café for people with dementia and

It is wonderful to see how Alzheimer’s Society taking initiatives to work with different communities’ Mayor Lutfur Rahman

their carers and/or if you require more information about support and services available in Tower Hamlets, you can contact Mohammed Muhith, BME Development Officer on 020 7392 9631. Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Helpline: 0845 3000336 Mrs Nessa is carer to her husband Mr Ali, who has a mixed diagnosis of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. They have been attending Alzheimer’s Society’s

Dementia Cafe at the London Muslim Centre for the last year. Mrs Nessa says: “Coming to the dementia cafe at the London Muslim Centre gives my husband and I a chance to socialise which we otherwise would not get. At the cafe we have the opportunity to try new activities, make new friends, or just relax over refreshments. We look forward to our trips here and the dedicated support that is on offer.”

IBB presents inaugural British Muslim Awards 2013 T he Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB), the UK’s only wholly Sharia compliant retail bank, presented the inaugural British Muslim Awards 2013 at a ceremony held at the Sheridan Suite in Manchester on Tuesday 29th January. The Awards ceremony was attended by over 500 guests. Over 10,000 nominations from all over the country were submitted and representatives from IBB personally awarded: Hussein Lalani, Cofounder, 99p Stores, as winner of ‘Business of the Year’, presented by Sultan Choudhury, managing director, IBB

Uzma Hassan, Producer, as winner of ‘Best in Creative Industries’, presented by Zegum Hussain, senior branch manager, IBB IBB also sponsored the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ category which was won by James Caan, entrepreneur and CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw Commenting on the event, Sultan Choudhury, managing director, IBB said, “The inaugural British Muslim Awards 2013 have recognised the successes of a high calibre of individuals, groups and businesses. Achievements for community work, business leadership, sport and charity work, to name

a few, have been publicly showcased and celebrated. As the pioneer of British Islamic banking, IBB was honoured to present the event. Muslims play a significant role in British life and the Awards have highlighted this.” The awards honoured the success and achievements of Britain’s Muslim individuals, groups and business people. The evening was one of recognition and celebration, highlighting the significant role Muslims play in contributing to a better Great Britain. The founders of the Awards, Oceanic Consulting, were delighted to welcome IBB as

headline sponsor for the event based on its significant achievements and contribution to the British community. As the UK and Europe’s first, and only, wholly Sharia compliant retail bank, IBB offers the largest range of Sharia compliant retail financial products in the UK. This has earnt the bank a reputation as the pioneer of British Islamic banking and has drawn over 50,000 customers to its products and services. IBB’s genuinely groundbreaking achievements mean that consumers now have a real choice regarding the management of their finances.v

Sultan Choudhury of the IBB


7 February 2013


Ten Muslim groups join to tackle global hunger


en leading Muslim organisations are supporting ‘Enough Food for Everyone IF’ and uniting to mobilise the UK’s Muslim communities to call on world leaders to tackle the root causes of global hunger, which still kills 2 million children every year. ‘Enough Food for Everyone IF’ is a major new campaign launched last week by more than 100 of the UK’s leading development charities and faith groups in the largest coalition of its kind in the UK since Make Poverty History in 2005. Imam Ajmal Masroor who spoke at the campaign launch said: “It is a scandal that a billion people face the daily struggle of hunger when the world produces enough food for everyone. “Islamic tradition teaches us that if anyone goes to bed with a full stomach while his neighbour is hungry, he is not a believer, so how can we sit by quietly while 1 in 8 people go to bed hungry every night? I am really excited to see so many Muslim organisations coming together on this one issue alongside the

Same-sex marriage is “an important step forward” and will “make our society stronger” David Cameron has said. The prime minister’s intervention came shortly before MPs are due to vote on plans to legalise gay marriage in England and Wales. A number of Conservative MPs have spoken out against the plans - one calling the idea “Orwellian”. Chris Huhne’s former wife passed the story about his speeding offence to the press in revenge for his extra-marital affair, Southwark Crown Court heard. Prosecutors say Vicky Pryce, 60, took speeding points for Huhne a decade ago. The jury was read an email from 2011 - after she found out about Huhne’s affair - in which Ms Pryce, of Clapham, London, said she wanted to “nail him”.

Irish PM apology to inmates

Campaign groups from the Muslim community are joining forces to help tackle global hunger through more efficient management of food resources rest of the British society to make our world leaders act.” The group of Muslim organisations is led by campaigning organisation MADE in Europe

Muslim Aid’s M.W. Khokhar honoured at Oxford reception


UK votes on gay marriage

MP guilty of driving offence

‘It is a scandal that a billion people face the daily struggle of hunger when the world produces enough food for everyone’ Ajmal Masroor

prestigious reception was held in Honour of M.W. Khokhar MBE in Oxford. The chairman of Oxford Dawah Centre Dr Sheikh Hojjat Ramzy arranged a reception to appreciate the life achievement award of MBE to M. W. Khokhar by Her Majesty the Queen in her last year’s honour list. This most coveted award

This Week

was given to Mr Khokhar for his meritorious services to International N.G.O Muslim Aid. Sheikh Ramzy presented the bouquet of flowers and gifts to Mr Khokhar. On this auspicious occasion finally Mr Khokhar expressed his sincere gratitude to Sheihk Hojjat Ramzy and all of his colleagues for their on-going generous support to Muslim Aid.

and development charity Human Appeal International and consists of: Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), Islamic Society of Britain (ISB), AlMaghrib Institute, London Muslim Centre, Emerald Network, Islam Channel, City Circle and Leaf Network. The ‘Enough Food for Everyone IF’ campaign calls on Prime Minister David Cameron to use the UK’s G8 presidency to take action on the root causes of the hunger crisis in the poorest countries.

The ‘IF’ movement challenges the Prime Minister to tackle 4 big IFs to ensure that there is enough food for everyone: l IF we stop poor farmers being forced off their land, and use the available agricultural land to grow food for people, not biofuels for cars. l IF governments keep their promises on aid, invest to stop children dying from malnutrition and help the poorest people feed themselves through investment in small farmers. l IF governments close

loopholes to stop big companies dodging tax in poor countries, so that millions of people can free themselves from hunger. l IF we force governments and investors to be honest and open about the deals they make in the poorest countries that stop people getting enough food. Today the Muslim organisations organised a stunt in Trafalgar Square. They spelt out the word “IF” using prayer mats to create an iconic image to demonstrate the support of UK Muslim communities for the campaign.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has apologised for the stigma and conditions suffered by women who were inmates of the Magdalene laundries. Mr Kenny said the laundries had operated in a “harsh and uncompromising Ireland,” but he stopped short of a formal apology from the government. About 10,000 women passed through the Catholic-run laundries in the Irish Republic between 1922 and 1996, according to a report.

UK water bills up by £388

The average household water and sewerage bill in England and Wales is to rise by 3.5% over the next year, regulator Ofwat has said. Households will pay an average of £388 from April 2013 to March 2014. Ofwat chief executive Regina Finn said that she understood that households were facing financial pressures.

Falklands in dispute again

The Falkland Islands will be back under Argentine control within “20 years”, the country’s foreign minister Hector Timerman has said. On a visit to London, he claimed “not one” other nation supported UK sovereignty of the Falklands. Speaking to the Guardian and Independent, Mr Timerman said Britain had “occupied” the islands for “access to oil and natural resources”.


7 February 2013

Features Demonstrations after Jamaat leader sentence


olice in Bangladesh have clashed with protesters for a second day, after a leader of the main Islamist party was jailed for life for crimes against humanity in the war of independence. At least 10 people were injured in violence near the capital, Dhaka. Four people died and dozens were hurt in clashes following the verdict against Abdul Kader Mullah of Jamaat-e-Islami. Pro-government groups also rallied, urging the death penalty for Mullah. Thousands staged vigils on Tuesday and Wednesday in central Dhaka, saying the sentence was too lenient. Mullah’s supporters accuse the government of a political vendetta. They are holding a general strike, leaving schools and businesses closed across the country. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators, as protesters threw stones. Mullah, 64, the assistant secretary general of Jamaate-Islami, was found guilty on Tuesday of five out of six charges, including murder. He was accused in court of being behind a series of killings including some largescale massacres in the Mirpur area of Dhaka, which earned him the nickname of “koshai (butcher) of Mirpur” and made him one of the more feared Jamaat leaders. He is the second defendant to be found guilty by the special tribunal. Last month, a former party leader, Abul Kalam Azad, was found guilty in absentia of eight charges of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death. Ten others are on trial, including eight top leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami and two members of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), one a former minister. All deny the charges against them. The special court was set up in 2010 by the current Bangladeshi government to deal with those accused of collaborating with Pakistani forces who attempted to stop East Pakistan (as Bangladesh was then) from becoming an independent country.

The deal with Russia to buy arms and build nuclear power stations puts Bangladesh in a select league

Bangladesh takes tentative steps Bangladesh has been busy on the international scene, with a billiondollar arms deal and an agreement to build nuclear power stations on its soil. Here, the Economist takes a panoramic view of what the country’s latest developments mean


here is no lack of world-beating records in Bangladesh. It starts as the world’s most densely populated country (not counting city-states and the like). Its capital, Dhaka, merely an undistinguished district headquarters at time of partition from India in 1947, can now be counted as the fastest-growing city in the world. Female leaders have ruled the country for longer than have men—which is to say, longer than women have anywhere else. No country at peace with its neighbours has more citizens shot dead by the security forces of one of its neighbours. The world’s biggest NGO, also apparently the best, BRAC (formerly the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee), bears the name of its home country. Despite astounding progress, 53m Bangladeshis, fully one-third of the population, still live below the poverty line. Until the end of January, Bangladesh was also the location of South Asia’s biggest infrastructure project to funded by donors. The Padma bridge, a proposed river crossing that was to cost $3 billion to build, would also have been the world’s longest, at a length of about 10km. But its fate has become forlorn, since the Bangladesh government withdrew its request to the Word Bank for financing, on January 31st. The decision to turn down $1.2 billion in cheap loans—the biggest pile of cash the World Bank has ever offered to a single country—came a day after the bank’s president, Jim Yong Kim, forcefully stated his commitment to not allow crony capitalism to persist under his watch. (Mr Kim went on to use the Padma bridge as an example of the bank’s stance in the face of “insufficient response by the authorities to the evidence of corruption”.) Thanks, but no thanks, seemed to be Bangladesh’s reply. With the refusal of the World Bank’s conditions went the loans that it had under negotiation with the Asian Development Bank and the Japan International Co-operation Agency: altogether nearly $3 billion. Since Bangladesh cannot borrow from international markets, the net result of the government’s apparent intransigence is that 30m people, who are cut off from Dhaka by the vast Padma and the Jamuna, and cut off from the rest of the country as well, will have to be patient. But forget the bridge for a moment. It appears that the government has developed a taste for other symbols of power, of the kind that were till recently in the preserve of regional-powers-with-

adversaries. No longer. Last year Bangladesh ordered its first satellite. Only last week it announced plans to buy its first submarines. Finally, Bangladesh intends to spend the single-largest amount of cash it has ever seen devoted to a single project—and start building nuclear power plants. More than 50 years after politicians in what was then East Pakistan conceived the idea, the government has found a donor in Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia. Mr Putin’s conditions, compared with those of Bangladesh’s other international partners, are financially inferior but politically irresistible. This is a country, after all, where as recently as 2007 the army stepped in to lock up the political class, including the two heads of dynasty, and installed its own military-backed administration. One must be prepared for exigencies, and it helps when the men in green see things the same way. Russia made a $1 billion loan to Bangladesh, to buy Russian-made arms, last month, which might well punch a hole in those recent statistical estimates which showed that Bangladesh might be at especially high risk of suffering a coup d’etat in 2013. The arms sale however will be small in comparison. The price tag for the country’s first nuclear plants is believed to be between $2 billion and $4 billion; the Russians have agreed to lend $500m to start the project. The idea is for Rosatom, the Russian state’s nuclear company, to build and operate two plants in Rooppur, in western Bangladesh. If all goes well Bangladesh may soon be the seventh Asian country with an operational nuclear power plant (the others being China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Pakistan). So how bad an idea is it? The first thing to say is that Bangladesh has an energy problem the scale of which tends to be, like the country as a whole, hugely underreported. According to the World Bank, there is no country where businesses find it more difficult to get electricity than Bangladesh. In its latest “Doing Business Survey”, the bank ranks Bangladesh an unflattering 185th out of 185 countries in this category. More than 60% of people do not have access to electricity. So if the size of the problem were to suggest the size of the solution, a chunky 2,000MW more from two nuclear power stations might be a good start. The Russian plants would generate enough power to fill the current supply gap and would be a big step towards meeting the government’s goal of producing 20,000MW by 2020. The country’s current electricity-generation capacity stands at a mere 5,000-6,000MW. Domestic reserves of gas, the main source of energy, are not plentiful. The government’s short-term strategy, to fix the power crisis by installing oil-based power plants, is both unaffordable and environmentally precarious. Coal deposits exist, but too many people live on top of them. Any politician who dares touch the coal is likely to get a hostile reaction similar to the one experienced last week by foreigners who offered to help in digging it up. The obvious solutions to Bangladesh’s long-term energy future would be a mix of coal and gas imports from Myanmar or the Middle East. But they don’t sound nearly as impressive as indigenous nukes, do they? Bangladesh’s political parties cannot agree on much, but they both like the idea of nuclear power. There are a few problems with trying to produce 5,000MW of nuclear power (ie a fifth of the total projected generating capacity) by 2030 in what is essentially one big hot river delta. The lack of an alternative source of power, in case cooling systems collapse, and annual flooding, which, in a bad year, can cover up to two-thirds of the delta, come to mind. An earthquake once shifted the course of the mighty Brahmaputra, which used to flow east of Dhaka, to its current riverbed, 150km west of the capital. Experts may find that the plants’ proposed site on the bank of the Padma river is safe. Yet public protests, like the one in Kundankulam in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, over the same type of Russian reactor, are to be expected nonetheless. Bangladesh is not set to enrich its own uranium in any case; Russia would provide the radioactive fuel rods. But both the Bangladeshi public and neighbouring India, whose border with Bangladesh is only 25km from the proposed site, are likely to demand guarantees concerning the safe transport of nuclear material. The rods would have to travel from the port of Chittagong on roads that are among the world’s deadliest. And if the transport of nuclear material is to circumambulate the urban sprawl of Dhaka, then they will have to cross the Padma. So unless the government puts the Chinese, say, in charge of constructing that bridge quite swiftly, the nation’s first nuclear-fuel cask will have to take a boat.


10 January 2013

The World News Headlines This Week Gang rape case: five in court

Walmart, the world’s largest retail company, has been found to have had ties to a garment factory in Bangladesh where 112 workers were trapped and killed in a fire in late November 2012. The company, which buys $1 billion in garments from Bangladesh each year, initially tried to deny any connection

Mayor fires off angry letter over Banglatown


ayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman has published a letter clamming planned changes to the borough’s electoral wards following the conclusion of a public consultation. In the strongly-worded letter, Mr Rahman called on the Local Government Boundary Commission to scrap its plans to re-name wards after the tumultuous consultation period came to an end on Monday. Mr Rahman’s detailed his response to the plans, writing that he objected in the “strongest possible terms” to the pro-

posals to scrap ‘Banglatown’, the removal of ‘St Dunstan’s’ from the Stepney Wards, and the re-naming of East India and Lansbury as Poplar North. Referring to the move to drop the name ‘Banglatown’ from the Spitalfields and Banglatown ward, he wrote: “I struggle to comprehend why any individual or political entity would regard dispensing with this name as desirable, aside from as a very cynical blast on the proverbial dog whistle, aimed at attracting support from people who resent the Bangladeshi com-

‘Renaming the (Banglatown) ward as merely ‘Spitalfields’ would be a hugely reactionary, retrograde and provocative step’

Mayor Lutfur Rahman munity’s presence in t he area. “Accordingly, renaming the ward as merely ‘Spitalfields’ would be a hugely reactionary, retro-

grade and provocative step”. The Commission is due to publish its final recommendations in Spring this year. Its draft proposals had also attracted criticism for removing the names of former Labour Party leader George Lansbury and former Bishop of London St Dunstan from

ward names in the borough. Mr Rahman concluded: “I hope that you will consider my submission, as well as the views of hundreds of local residents expressed in related petitions, extremely carefully when arriving at a final decision.”

Five sentenced to death for murder in Dhaka of Saudi diplomat


special tribunal sentenced to death five Bangladeshi men for killing a Saudi diplomat in an apparent street crime earlier this year. Initial speculation about the shooting had focused on Iran, which denied the accusations. The suspects told investigators they were trying to rob the diplomat and shot him accidentally. Khalaf bin Mohammed Salem al-Ali, a 45-year-old official in the Saudi Embassy’s consu-

lar section, was killed near his home in Dhaka in March. Tribunal Judge Mohammad Motahar Hossain handed down the verdict Sunday, chief prosecutor Rafiqul Islam said. One of the men was tried in his absence, Islam said. He said the men can appeal the verdict. Iran has been accused of other international attacks or attempted attacks against diplomats, including Saudis. Days after the shooting, Saudi Arabia sent investigators to assist

Khalaf bin Mohammed Salem al-Ali was killed near his home in Dhaka Bangladeshi detectives. The defendants pleaded not guilty at the trial. After their arrest in July, the four men told investigators they tried to rob the

diplomat as he was going for a walk on the deserted street and shot him accidentally during a scuffle. Police said the men were ar-

rested after a revolver and a car used in the killing were found in their possession. Muslim-majority Bangladesh enjoys good relations with Saudi Arabia, which is a top destination for Bangladeshi migrant workers. Relations between the countries were tested in October last year, when Saudi Arabia beheaded eight Bangladeshi workers who were found guilty of robbing and killing an Egyptian.

Five men accused of raping and murdering an Indian student were read the charges in a nearempty courtroom on Monday after the judge cleared out lawyers for bickering over whether the men deserved a defence. The 23-year-old physiotherapy student died two weeks after being gang-raped and beaten on a moving bus in New Delhi, then thrown bleeding onto the street. Protests followed, along with a fierce public debate over police failure to stem rampant violence against women. With popular anger simmering against the five men and a teenager accused in the case, most lawyers in the district where the trial will be held refuse to represent them.

British soldier shot dead

A British soldier serving with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan has been shot dead by a man in an Afghan army uniform, according to the US-led military coalition. In a statement released on Tuesday, ISAF said that the incident, which took place in southern Afghanistan on Monday, was “under investigation”. “The British soldier was killed when a suspected Afghan soldier opened fire first at Afghan troops and then at British soldiers,” said Major Martyn Crighton, an ISAF spokesman. “In the subsequent engagement, the attacker was killed by British troops.”

Many killed in drone attack

At least eight people have been killed in two suspected US drone attacks in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal areas, security officials say.Both attacks took place in the Mir Ali area of the North Waziristan tribal district in the early hours of Tuesday. In Khiderkhel, eight missiles were fired at a compound, killing at least four people, security sources told Al Jazeera. In Essakhel, meanwhile, two missiles were fired, killing at least three people.

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Messi named world’s best

Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi has been named world footballer of the year for the fourth time in a row, marking another unprecedented achievement. He pipped Andres Iniesta and Cristiano Ronaldo to the title. No other male footballer has been named the best on the planet in four separate years, let alone four in succession.

Muslim prisoners are being served meat-based foods that – unknown to them – contain pork

‘No pork found in halal products’ Recent news reports have that pork was found in meat products intended to be served to prisoners. But the Halal Food Authority claims that none of the pork-contaminated meat was meant for prisons in England in Wales. Here, in a statement, the Halal Food Authority re-iterates its demand for stricter labelling controls as pig DNA found in halal meals


alal Food Authority along with the Food Standards Agency want to reassure the public that no pork meat was found in halal products meant for prisons in England and Wales. County Tyrone family owned food company McColgan’s Quality Foods and distributors 3663 withdrew products as soon as traces of pork DNA were found, for some meals that were still in the distribution chain and had not reached its intended destination. The products were being produced by McColgan’s under contract for 3663 supplying food to prisons. This does not appear to be a deliberate attempt to introduce another meat. Instead, traces of pig DNA in meat products were found as a result of ultrasensitive DNA testing. These tests were carried out following the discovery of horse meat in beef-burgers produced in County Monaghan. The burgers had been on sale in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Here is an excerpt from 3663’s statement: “Following recent publicity concerning content of horsemeat in the consumer goods foodchain, 3663 recognised a potential connection between a Halal beef producer mentioned within the FSAI (Food Safety Authority of Ireland) report and a supplier of Halal savoury beef pastry products stocked for the MOJ. We took immediate steps to inform the MOJ of this potential connection purely as a precautionary measure and together took the decision that these Halal savoury beef pastry products should be quarantined to prevent their use pending DNA testing.” Halal Food Authority has now been accrediting produc-

‘We implore Muslim consumers to stay calm and voice their concern in writing to show their support for better and tighter labelling of products’


7 February 2013

Features ers, manufacturers and processors of halal meat and poultry for nearly two decades contractually. Over the years we have developed one of the most stringent and well regulated auditing systems for the approval and accreditation of halal meat, poultry and foodstuff. We are also proud to be one of the first to emphasise on the use of scientifically advanced methods including the use of DNA testing. And as such up until now we have been using DNA testing sporadically whenever it was deemed useful. Before Halal Food Authority takes a supplier or manufacturer on board for membership of the halal endorsement network, the supplier has to declare whether they have any pork or pork based products on the production facility, storage, or in chilled and frozen storage. Under no circumstances is production allowed to be halal certified when both halal and pork based products are produced under the same roof. This means that the produced must have a separate facility or production area with its own intake, storage and dispatch areas. There must be physical separation between the products requiring halal certification and non-halal (pork based) products. Once the company agrees to this principle, the next step is to arrange for audit/s and all relevant raw materials and recipe information is inspected, checked and validated. Halal Certification is only granted once all parameters of halal authenticity and traceability are met. Certification is then followed by routine checks and announced and unannounced audits. HFA makes full use of the scientific and modern methods of analysis and validation. This includes protein based DNA testing. This particular case of contamination is not how it is being perceived; this is about DNA at very very low levels being found in a product. This can be caused by very minute particles, by presence of possible bloods and liquids presence. So there are a whole range of ways in which DNA can actually be present and can cross-contaminate onto the actual meat that is in the produce. At present FSA and other relevant official bodies are investigating as to what was the contributing factor that brought that DNA into contact with the halal meat that was used to make the pies. As the halal meat used to produce these pies did not come from Halal Food Authority approved premises, It was sourced from Liffey Meat’s Irish plant whose meat was accepted since they have had their halal approval form a very reputable halal certifier in Ireland and HMC UK. Irish beef has had a “wonderful reputation among Muslims in Britain and Ireland” and it’s future is now subject to the investigation’s outcome. And we are told that investigation is still on-going by The Food Standards Agency in conjunction with Strabane District Council and working with the companies involved. We are very open about our standards and would coordinate any investigation effort in order to get to the bottom of the cause of this contamination. Under Islamic law, Muslims are strictly forbidden to eat pork, as is the consumption of meat which has not been slaughtered in a way that is prescribed under their dietary requirements. It is very clear that this must be very distressing for those affected and that they can be reassured that we in the Halal food Authority are doing everything we can to get to the bottom of it and resolve the situation. Since the presence of Pork DNA was identified in chicken and donor kebab products, the Halal Food Authority has been very vocal in its efforts to get the authorities to take a more robust approach towards this practice and missdemeanour. We have voiced our concerns on many platforms and in many meetings with FSA officials and in the print media. We have been checking certain product samples on random basis, but this new wave of cross-contamination has shattered consumer confidence and we have now decided to make the protein DNA testing as an integral and mandatory part of our day to day investigative and accreditating procedure. We implore Muslim consumers to stay calm and voice their concern in writing to show their support for better and tighter labelling of products. And products should contain what the labels say’s on it. Halal Food Authority is in constant contact with McColgan’s Quality Foods, the Food Standards Agency, the HM Prison Services, Media and other Muslim organisations so that the issue of miss-labelling and contamination does not occur again.

Muslim prisoner number shock


he issue of Muslim prisoners being fed pork without their knowledge is obviously serious, but amid the news reports about the issue, one shocking reality of life in Britain today was glossed over in such a matter-of-fact way that no-one seems to have picked up on it. That shocking reality – shocking in my opinion, at least – is that around 13 per cent of prisoners in the UK are of Muslim background. Given that Muslims make up only 5 per cent of the general population, the fact that 13 per cent of the prison population is Muslim, there should be some sort of inquiry. We need to know why Muslims almost three times as likely to be imprisoned as the average person in the UK. And I haven’t mentioned the youth prison population yet. The television news report I saw said that around 20 per cent – a staggering one-fifth – of the youth prison population in the UK is from a Muslim background. These figures would indicate the possibility that Muslims have a higher level of criminality in the community – Muslims are more likely to be criminals. Or – and this is much more likely – there has been a systematic, long-term programme of criminalisation of the Muslim community. It’s called institutional racism. Crime figures are said to be going down in the UK. One reason could be that the police simply don’t record many reported crimes – especially if the victim was Muslim. At the same time, the security services spend a lot of time and money framing Muslims for all sorts of crimes under the catch-all, false justification of antiterrorism.

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