‘Israel losing support Hashim Amla is Number 1 among Britons’
Bosnia & Herzegovina The Journey 2012
COMMUTERS TO BE SCANNED FOR BOMBS
The British government has once again stepped up extreme security measures to try and scan at least a quarter of rail and tube passengers. Details of the new security scanning method have been published by the Home Office and it is asking for advice on the available technology. Security measures in Britain are becoming more intense as researchers now want to know how wheelchairs, false limbs, crutches, pushchairs and bikes can be scanned. However, Kromek, a leading detection company in County Durham, has told Sky News that the UK government’s desired scanning project is unlikely to be achieved in the near future. Nigel Day, commercial director at Kromek, said that even with predicted screening technology advances, the
Wrongly Labelled Halal Chickens Seized
quickest security check still involves some sort of delay. “There would be too many people trying to move too quickly through a security checkpoint with various different items,” he said. He also predicted that airport screening, which is the prime focus of scanning
technology development, is unlikely to be a transferrable option to the rail and tube systems. Concerns have been raised that this new measure planned to be taken by the UK government could bring back propaganda of alleged terrorist threats on London.
Consumer watchdogs in Birmingham have seized hundreds of chickens during an investigation into firms selling meat wrongly-labelled as halal. Birmingham City Council’s trading standards and environmental health officers joined West Midlands police officers to swoop on six premises, including butchers and meat wholesalers, across the city in a series of raids. It came following claims some businesses were selling consumers halal meat, when in fact it had not been slaughtered in the sacred way required by those with Islamic beliefs. Officers seized computer equipment and documents from the properties they raided and are continuing to investigate the businesses.
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I LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS
I September 2012
By iera www.iera.org.uk
Respond to Channel 4’s “Islam: The Untold Story”
British broadcaster Channel 4 aired a programme “Islam: The Untold Story” on Tuesday 28th August 2012 with the show presented by Tom Holland. A number of absurd and outrageous claims were made by Holland against Islam such as Makkah not being mentioned in the Quran and that all historical information from about Islam from the earliest sources is fabricated and unreliable. Please see www.iera.org. uk/press_29aug2012.html for
a detailed response to Holland’s baseless claims. Holland relied on rogue scholarship and discredited academics to make his claims that Islam has no historical or intellectual basis and it is scandalous that a major broadcaster such as Channel 4 allowed this programme its airtime. We urge all Muslims and non-Muslims alike to complain to Channel 4 and Ofcom as it is fundamentally irresponsible for flagrant untruths about one of the
world’s most significant religions to be spread amongst millions of people Please write to Channel 4 at www.channel4.com/4viewers/ contact-us and to Ofcom at www.ofcom.org.uk By complaining, we want to ensure that Channel 4 will not allow such programmes to be shown on their services again. Muslims need to make sure Islam is accurately portrayed in the media which already has a bias against our beautiful religion.
Write to: Editor, Passion Islam, PO Box 159, Batley, West Yorkshire, WF17 1AD or email: email@example.com - www.passionislam.com
This Magazine contains Ayaat of the Qur’an and Hadith of the Prophet (SAW), please ensure you handle it with respect & care - Sukran -
Views expressed in the Passion column are of the contributers and not Necessarily of Passion Islam
I September 2012
Cameron fails ethnic minorities in UK In Case You Missed It
An advisor for 10 Downing Street has stated that the UK Conservatives have “absolutely no policy or clear strategy” for attracting voters from ethnic minority backgrounds. PM David Cameron faced criticisms from inside his own political party, regarding the Conservatives’ progress on race relations. Samuel Kasumu, a member of the Tory Reform Group, warned the British Prime Minister in his new book of falling short of support from black and Asian people unless the Tories change their current tactics. Kasumu also criticized Cameron’s comments during the 2012 London
Olympic Games over replacing “Indian dance, or whatever” with competitive sport in schools. Kasumu said that Cameron’s comments during the Olympics on Indian dance were “not only inappropriate but ill-timed”, adding, “The Games was partly won on the basis of London’s diversity, and comments like that go against the great spirit of the Games.” Kasumu also warned Cameron not to sack Baroness Warsi, the party chairman, during the forthcoming reshuffle due to her abilities of finding relations with ethnic minorities, a task that Warsi’s colleagues cannot do.
Anti-halal protest ends in embarrassment for fascists
Protestors were left stuck when their truck became wedged under a bridge. The British National Party (BNP) returned to Pallion to continue their demonstration against the use of halal meat at St Luke’s Subway store. But as their “truth truck” made its way under a bridge in the Sheepfolds area of the city, it became stuck. Police had to cordon off the street while it was unwedged by releasing air out of all four tyres so it could be moved. The vehicle was lodged for several hours until it could be towed away.
LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS
Al-Qaeda members sue Britain’s MI5
Two members of al-Qaeda, currently serving life sentences in Britain, have sued the UK at the European Court of Human Rights, arguing Britain’s MI5 agency covered up their torture in Pakistan. Salahuddin Amin and Rangzieb Ahmed, who are both British born are doing life terms in UK prisons, have lodged a complaint against Britain for its complicity in their torture in Pakistan. In 2007, Amin was convicted for plotting an explosion at a shopping centre in Kent and another in 2005 at the Ministry of Sound nightclub in Central London. Ahmed, the other convicted man, has been put on trial in the UK while he is seen as the highest-ranked al-Qaeda operator. He was the first
person to be convicted of “directing terrorism” and having links to other al-Qaeda members in Britain. Complaints by the two convicted men have already been rejected by British courts, but the European Court of Human Rights has given a green light, which would force UK officials to give explanations to a panel in Strasburg. Allegations of torture have already damaged MI5’s reputation. Last year, human rights groups boycotted an inquiry into the reports that the agency sanctioned its staff to use harsh methods for interrogation in overseas operations. Victims of interrogation alleged they had been tortured at Bagram or Guantanamo military bases at the wish of the UK.
Cambridge £15m mosque plans approved Plans for Cambridge’s first purposebuilt mosque have been approved by the city council. The £15m complex will be constructed on Mill Road and is expected to cater for up to 1,000 worshippers. Residents expressed concern about parking and traffic congestion in the busy residential and shopping
street. However the Muslim Academic Trust, which submitted the plans, said car parking was included and many visitors would cycle or walk. Last year, anonymous leaflets were posted through doors of houses close to the proposed site, urging people to object to the mosque on grounds of potential congestion.
I September 2012
Ramadan For All Event reaches out to non muslims
A Ramadan For All event to celebrate different cultures living in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire has been hailed a success. Muslims reached out to non-Muslims and gave them an apportunity to learn about what Ramadan meant. Non Muslims gathered with members of local muslim community as they broke their daily fast. The event which took place outside Dewsbury Town Hall was a first of its kind. Salfia Mosque in Ravensthorpe, Hanfia Mosque in Huddersfield and the Al-Hidayah Mosque in Savile Town, Dewsbury were all involved throughout. The Ramadan For all events aimed to reach out to the neediest people in the local community. They were able to take place thanks to generous donations from local mosques, businesses and generous volunteers who donated food. Arshad Patel who helped to organise the event at Dewsbury Town Hall said “The main idea was to help the homeless and the needy in our local community. “We had been to local homeless shelters and homeless projects to tried to help them with basic necessities. “With Ramadan For All, we thought the local Muslim community could come together and provide the homeless with free food.”
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‘Israel losing support among Britons’ Passion Islam
I September 2012
LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS
In Case You Missed It
“... Israel was increasingly losing support among middle-ground politicians in the UK because of its aggressive settlement policies.” UK ambassador to Tel Aviv, Matthew Gould
British politicians’ support for the Israeli regime is increasingly diminishing because of the entity’s aggressive settlement policies in the occupied Palestinian territories. UK ambassador to Tel Aviv, Matthew Gould made the remarks last month, adding that Israel was increasingly losing support among middle-ground politicians in the UK because of its aggressive settlement policies.
Gould said he detected a shift among the middle ground of British members of parliament towards a more critical view of Israel. “Israelis might wake up in 10 years’ time and find out that the level of understanding in the international community has suddenly changed, and that patience for continuing the status quo has reduced,” he said. “Support for Israel is starting to erode and that’s not about these
people on the fringe who are shouting loudly and calling for boycotts and all the rest of it. The interesting category are those members of parliament in the middle, and in that group I see a shift.” Gould said the “shift was a result of Israeli policies… [and suggested] that it could not be countered or obscured by hasbara” or Israeli propaganda campaigns. “The centre ground, the majority, the British public may not be expert but they are not stupid and they see a stream of announcements about new building in settlements, they read stories about what’s going on in the West Bank, they read about restrictions in Gaza.” Gould also said he had detected a shift in attitude against Israel among centrist MPs in Britain amid growing frustration with the lack of progress in the peace process. It’s interesting that even he has to acknowledge how low Israel’s public support has slipped in Europe - as a result of its own aggressive actions against the Palestinian people: “Israel is now seen as the Goliath and it’s the Palestinians who are seen as the David.”
Public organisation rapped for hiding spying practices
British Communities Secretary Erick Pickles has blasted the BBC and other public organizations for hiding their use of surveillance powers to spy on the public and evading accountability. Pickles reaction came after campaign group Big Brother Watch published a report on the misuse of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) by local councils and complained that seven public bodies including the BBC, the schools inspecting body Ofsted and the Royal Mail have failed to
disclose why or how often they used the powers. Big Brother Watch said the powers that are intended to fight serious crime and terrorism were used 9,607 times by 345 local authorities, that is almost nine operations a day, to deal with such “trivial” issues as TV license evasion, benefit fraud, dog owners failing to pets’ mess and smoking ban breaches. Pickles has called for legislation to curb the “overzealous town hall bureaucrats” for their use of the
Ripa powers for every trivial issue. “Councils seriously abused and overused their snooping powers, for matters as trivial as spying on garden centers who sell pot plants; snooping on staff for using work showers; or monitoring shops for unlicensed parrots,” he said. Big Brother Watch has described the use of the powers without judicial approval as “unacceptable” calling for such approvals to be “the norm, not the exception” when Ripa is being used.
I September 2012
British, German spies aiding Syria insurgents: Media Passion Islam
British and German media have disclosed that spies from the two European countries are providing insurgents in Syria with intelligence about the movements of Syrian troops. UK’s Sunday Times quoted an unnamed Syrian official as saying that British spies, based in Cyprus, gather the intelligence. They then pass it on to Turkish and American sources and the Turkish sources ultimately pass on the intelligence to Syrian insurgents. The disclosure provided further evidence that British intelligence is playing a covert role in the anti-Syria
LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS
campaign. The official said Britain has two military bases in Cyprus, one in Dhekelia and the other in Akrotiri. “British intelligence is observing things closely from Cyprus,” the official told the newspaper. “The British are giving the information to the Turks and the Americans....” “The British monitor communications about movements of the government Army,” the official noted. The British foreign secretary has already confirmed that London is supplying Syrian insurgents with body armor and medical and
communications equipment. Meanwhile, German weekly Bild am Sonntag has revealed that German spooks, stationed off the Syrian coast and also active at a NATO base in Turkey, are providing the insurgents in Syria with information about the movements of government forces. The paper added that agents from Germany’s foreign intelligence service operate on ships off the Syrian coast and use hi-tech devices that allow them to see movements of Syrian forces 600 kilometers (400 miles) inside the Arab state. Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Damascus says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factor behind the unrest and deadly violence, while the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings. The government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the armed insurgents are foreign nationals. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on August 1 that the country is engaged in a “crucial and heroic” battle that will determine the destiny of the nation.
UK Met involved in TrapWire scandal The UK government and Metropolitan Police of London have been involved in a TrapWire scandal, which includes a controversial mass global surveillance network, a report has confirmed. Emails released by WikiLeaks appear to show that the UK government and London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MET) are involved in the scandal. One of the emails stolen from global intelligence firm Stratfor by Anonymous activists and leaked via WikiLeaks states: “We have an agreement in principle with Abraxas (TrapWire) to provide ‘streaming sitreps’ to their clients via their
desktop/homepage by the end of July. Their clients include Scotland Yard, 10 Downing, the White House, and many MNC’s (multinational corporations).” TrapWire is a surveillance service that collects data from CCTV cameras, number plate readers and open source databases. It is said to provide facial recognition technology and also reportedly watches online social networks. A statement from Anonymous said: “The more we learn about TrapWire and similar systems; it becomes absolutely clear that we must at all costs shut this system down and render it useless. A giant
AI electronic brain able to monitor us through a combination of access to all the CCTV cameras as well as all the online social media feeds is monstrous and Orwellian in its (sic) implications and possibilities.” A spokesman for the British government refused to deny or confirm the use of the TrapWire system.
I September 2012
LOCAL & NATIONALI 11
Muslim employee ‘forced to resign’ after wearing headscarf to work
A London-based retailer forced a Muslim employee to resign after she wore a headscarf to work, because it wanted to retain its “trendy” image, an employment tribunal has ruled. Ms Farrah brought a claim for unfair dismissal and direct religious discrimination against her former employer, Global Luggage Co, after the company moved her to a different store to maintain its “trendy” image and later forced her to resign. Originally, Farrah worked in both the Oxford Street and Piccadilly branches of Global Luggage Co on alternate days each weekend. However, the day after Farrah wore a headscarf to work one of the directors immediately moved her to the Oxford Street store and changed her rota so that she no longer
worked at the Piccadilly store. When Farrah challenged one of the directors as to whether the reason for this move was because she had worn a headscarf, she was told that the company was “trying to maintain an image at Piccadilly” and that it was “trying to be trendy”. A couple of months later, Farrah was forced to resign after she took an extended lunch break. However, the tribunal ruled that the company had “seized on the claimant’s admitted misconduct as a pretext for dismissing her” and that the real reason for her forced resignation was that she had worn a headscarf to work. Farrah won her claim for unfair dismissal but lost her claim for direct religious discrimination. However,
the judge said that, had she brought a claim for indirect discrimination, the tribunal would have “in all likelihood” ruled in her favour. Last month, David Cameron vowed to “change the law” to allow people to wear religious symbols at work, when he was asked to comment on the Eweida case, in which a British Airways employee was sent home for wearing a visible crucifix around her neck. However, Stephen Simpson, senior employment law editor at XpertHR, argued that Farrah’s case shows that current legislation is already sufficient for this type of claim. “The circumstances in this case are pertinent at this time, with two cases about religious symbols in the workplace due before the European Court of Human rights in September and David Cameron’s vow to ‘change the law’ to allow people to wear religious symbols in the workplace. “The outcome in this case is a good example of how religious discrimination legislation works perfectly well as it is - although the claimant lost because of the way she presented her claim, the tribunal was clear that, had she claimed indirect discrimination, she would have undoubtedly succeeded.”
Teachers in Scotland urged to report missing pupils for fear of force marriage Teachers across Scotland are being asked to be look out for any pupils who don’t return to school after the summer break for fear of being at risk of a forced marriage. The plea to teachers comes as a new booklet with advice and guidance on forced marriage is distributed to every secondary school in Scotland. Scottish Government has teamed up with support agencies in Scotland to develop the booklet which includes information on forced marriage and how to get help locally. Of the estimated figures collated through support agencies in Scotland, it is believed that almost
20 per cent of the 59 people who contacted support agencies were under 18 and concern both boys and girls. Teachers are key to the campaign to raise awareness of forced marriage and the protection offered by the legislation, so they can help those under threat of a forced marriage. School or college may often be the only place where the potential victim can speak freely. To help teachers recognise potential forced marriage victims, the Scottish Government has identified a number of important warning signs to look out for. These include: * A student being anxious about
talking about school holidays * Surveillance of a student by cousins or siblings at school or being met by family at the end of the day * A student is prevented from going on to further or higher education. Other equally important signs to consider include: persistent absence; requests for extended leave; decline in behaviour, performance or punctuality; not being allowed to attend extracurricular activities or sudden announcement of engagement to a stranger. For advice people can call 0800 027 1234 visit yourrightscotland.org
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US media display biased against Muslims
I September 2012
In Case You Missed It
Through the hundreds of thousands of media images Americans view throughout any given day, there may be a subliminal message about American Muslims that many are not aware of. A recent analysis in Newsweek magazine points out that there are tendencies to report violent acts committed by Muslims and under report violence against Muslims. The article points out that in
August of this year alone--there have been at least seven separate acts of aggression towards Muslims from property vandalism to the mass murder that occurred at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin--likely because the perpetrator believed the victims were Muslim even they weren’t. The attack on the temple received national attention while the other incidents didn’t. Experts say it creates a bipolar view of the Muslim
culture. The varied perspective that media has provided about Muslims being victims and the victimized also has political implications. Conservatives such as Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Congressman Charles King of New York among others have fed an anti-Muslim narrative. Some experts believe this is what may have led to the FBI using informants to spy on mosques. Analysts say that media tend to pit one group against the other for ratings and for economic gain. This trend is becoming similar to the accusations of Communism Americans used against each other for political and economic leverage during the cold war. Analysts say that if media were more balanced in their coverage of acts committed against Muslims to the acts that Muslims commit, there would be a better understanding of cultural balance within the US, but for some, not enough profit.
Afghanistan to re-screen security forces to curb rogue attacks
The Afghan government is going to re-examine the files of 350,000 policemen and soldiers in an effort to prevent attacks on international troops, after the Taliban claimed to have moles in the country’s security forces. The announcement comes after President Hamid Karzai held a special meeting with his security advisors. “Reports presented by the security officials in this meeting blamed the infiltration by foreign spy agencies into the Afghan security force ranks as responsible for the rise in the individual shootings,” Karzai’s spokesman, Aimal Faizi said. Forty foreign troops have died
since the beginning of the year – with 13 percent of the attacks viewed as inside jobs. Kabul’s National Security Committee has agreed to step up vetting of army and police recruits and will include more thorough questionnaires and biometric data. These practices will apply to both new recruits and those already serving. In addition, more undercover intelligence officers will be keeping an eye on the soldiers. Karzai’s spokesman told reporters that the main task of those intelligence officers will be to “study every single case of every individual who is either in the Afghan army or the Afghan police who has family either in Iran or in Pakistan.”
With the war against the Taliban dragging into its 11th year, Iran and Pakistan are increasingly being blamed for a range of security and economic problems. Just recently Taliban’s leader claimed the group had succeeded in infiltrating the ranks of the Afghan security forces, allowing them to attack NATO service members. The admission comes amidst a rise in so-called green-on-blue attacks. However, ISAF command insists the friendly-fire shootings have nothing to do with the Taliban infiltrating Afghan police, rather the result of disputes between NATO service members and the Afghan forces they’re training.
I WORLD NEWS
I September 2012
Gaza will be ‘unlivable’ by 2020 - UN
Gaza will no longer be “livable” by 2020 unless urgent measures are taken to improve the area’s water supply, power, health and schooling, according to a UN report. “Action needs to be taken right now on fundamental aspects of life: water sanitation, electricity, education, health and other aspects,” UN humanitarian coordinator Maxwell Gaylard told journalists. Those services are “not keeping pace with the needs of the growing population,” the report states. The document predicts the population of the Gaza Strip will increase from 1.6 million people today to 2.1 million people in 2020 – calling into question whether the
region can actually sustain such growth. Gaza’s lack of clean drinking water should be the first thing that is addressed, according to UNICEF Special Representative Jean Gough. The report estimates a 60 per cent increase in Gaza’s future water needs, while urgent action is already needed to protect the area’s existing water resources, Reuters says. At present, only a quarter of Gaza’s waste water is treated. The rest, including raw sewage, goes straight into the Mediterranean Sea. According to a report released in June by Save the Children and Medical Aid for Palestinians, the levels of water contamination in
Gaza are around ten times higher than what is deemed safe for consumption. However, many poor families have no choice but to drink the water. The coastal strip is extremely isolated due to an Israeli blockade which Tel Aviv refuses to lift. And until the blockade is lifted, Gaza stands little to no chance of improving its situation, especially since it doesn’t have an airport or a sea port. “Despite their best efforts, the Palestinians in Gaza still need help. They are under blockade. They are under occupation and they need our help both politically and practically on the ground,” Gaylard said. Gaza is 80 per cent aid dependent – relying on foreign funding and a tunnel economy which brings in food, construction materials, electronics, and cars from Egypt. But the current amount of outside help won’t be enough to sustain the region’s needs, according to Gaylard, who has called on international donors to increase their aid. By 2020, Gaza will need 440 more schools, 800 more hospital beds and over 1,000 additional doctors, according to Robert Turner, director of operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
US assassination drones strikes violate international law, UN charter: Analyst A political analyst has slammed the use of deadly drones by the United States, questioning the legality of such attacks that have claimed the lives of scores of civilians in Pakistan. “…it [the use of assassination drones] is a violation of the [UN] charter and the provisions of the charter which prohibit nation states attacking each other in this sort of violence … it’s a violation of the Geneva conventions and protocols which very specifically preclude the killing of civilians,” former UN assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday said in an interview with Press TV.
He further described the US drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas as “total violation of the sovereignty of Pakistan by the U.S.” The comments came while according to reports U.S assassination drone strikes have left at thousand of people dead in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region near border with Afghanistan. Despite Pakistani government’s repeated calls on Washington to end the drone attacks, the US government continues its strikes on the tribal regions of the country. Washington claims its drone strikes target militants, although casualty figures clearly indicate
that Pakistani civilians are the main victims of the assaults. The UN has also slammed the American terror drone attacks as targeted killing and says they pose a challenge to international law. Referring to the UN condemnation of the strikes, the analyst added that “it seems that the U.S has absolutely no respect for the UN and its charter and its membership or international law.” He called on the American people to take action against Washington’s warmongering policies in order to change the government which is committed to “aggression” and “ jingoistic patriotism.”
Saudi eyes $257m military deal with US
I September 2012
Saudi Arabia is interested in ordering a number of military tactical data exchange systems from the United States at a cost of about $257m. The Defence Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement that it has notified Congress of a possible foreign military sale to the Government of Saudi Arabia for 10 Link-16 systems and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) suites. Link 16 is a military tactical data exchange network created and used by the United States and adopted by some of its Allies and by NATO. With Link 16, military aircraft as well as ships and ground forces can exchange their tactical picture in near-real time. “This proposed sale of airborne ISR assets to KSA will contribute
to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” the statement said. It added that the Royal Saudi Air Force needs additional ISR capability to provide “persistent, real-time route surveillance, facility, infrastructure and border security, counter-terrorism and smuggling interdiction, support for naval and
coastal operations, internal defence and search and rescue operations”. The Royal Saudi Air Force ordered 193 F110-GE-129E engines to power 84 new twin-engine Boeing F-15SA aircraft. With the order, the RSAF becomes the largest operator of F110 engines other than the US government. This follows earlier RSAF orders for 156 engines to power 71 re-engined F-15S aircraft. The agreement calls for deliveries to start next year
Muslim women files lawsuite against Disneyland
A U.S. Muslim woman has filed a lawsuit against her former employer Walt Disney Corp. after claiming that she was taunted by her colleagues and called a “terrorist” and a “camel” while she worked at Disneyland during 2010. Imane Boudlal, a Moroccan-born Muslim and naturalized U.S. citizen, said, co-workers had also said she was “someone who learned how to make bombs at her mosque,” the LA Times reported.
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The attorney representing Boudlal has said “I think her experience is not unlike that of many Muslims,” he told a local newspaper. “America was invented based on our commitment to religious freedom and that got lost or shredded after 9/11.” The lawsuit, he said, “is an attempt to recapture this.” “If you’re a Muslim, it’s not the happiest place on Earth,” in reference to Disneyland. The American Civil Liberties
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Union’s lawsuit, on behalf of Boudlal, now seeks damages and harassment and discrimination training for Disney employees. This is not the first time Disney has faced a hijab conflict. Another Muslim female employee publicly complained in 2010 that she was told she’d have to work out in another role at Disney if she wanted to wear her hijab. Instead, Disney allowed her to wear a beret-style hat with a fitted scarf underneath.
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I WORLD NEWS
Govt asked to reconsider treaty with Israel In Case You Missed It
A Jordanian party has asked its government to reconsider the if the latter continued to violate that treaty and to violate sanctity of the holy shrines. The united Jordanian front party issued a statement urging the government in Amman to live up to its responsibility in protecting the holy shrines as stipulated in Wadi Araba treaty. It recalled that the treaty stipulated among other articles that Jordan is responsible for protecting and administering the Islamic holy shrines in occupied Jerusalem, adding that the Israeli army had
nothing to do with those shrines. “We are entitled to revise the peace treaty if the occupation state continued to violate it,” the party statement said. It said that Jordan was respecting and abiding by the treaty while Israel was not. The party asked Amman to address a strongly worded protest note to Israel to stop violations of Islamic and Christian holy shrines in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank and to hold it responsible for any harm done to the holy Aqsa mosque. www.passionislam.com
Judge throws out Lawsuit over FBI Spying on Muslims A federal judge threw out a lawsuit filed against the U.S. government and the FBI over the agency’s spying on Orange County Muslims, ruling that allowing the suit to go forward would risk divulging sensitive state secrets. Comparing himself to Odysseus navigating between a six-headed monster and a deadly whirlpool, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney wrote that “the state secrets privilege may unfortunately mean the sacrifice of individual liberties for the sake of national security.” The judge wrote that he reached the decision reluctantly after reviewing confidential declarations
filed by top FBI officials, and that he was convinced that the operation in question involved “intelligence that, if disclosed, would significantly compromise national security.” Carney allowed the suit to stand against individual FBI agents under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows those who were improperly subjected to electronic surveillance to sue. The lawsuit was centered around the actions of Craig Monteilh, who alleges that he posed as a Muslim convert at the behest of the FBI to collect information at Orange County mosques. www.passionislam.com
I September 2012
Islamic summit urged to take practical steps for Aqsa The Palestinian government in Gaza appealed to the Islamic summit being held in Makkah city, Saudi Arabia, to take concrete positions up to the holy status of Jerusalem and the Aqsa and take action to liberate them from the Israeli occupation. Political advisor to the Palestinian premier Yousuf Rizqa expressed hope in a press statement that the conferees at the Islamic summit would take practical steps to protect Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque. “Even if such summits are good, they engender theoretical decisions and such decisions are heeded neither by the arrogant occupation nor by the major powers,” Rizqa said. “However, we hope in light of the Islamic Awakening which started in Arab capitals to see tangible steps worthy of the status of the Aqsa Mosque and its sanctity,” the political advisor underlined.
Hamburg to recognize Islamic holidays Authorities in Hamburg have become the first in Germany to officially recognize Islamic holidays so Muslim employees and students can celebrate them at home. The decision forms part of an agreement between the north German city and local Muslim groups. Similar agreements exist with Christian and Jewish communities in the city. Hamburg’s mayor, Olaf Scholz, said that he hopes the deal will serve as an example for other German cities. Tens of thousands of Muslims live the city of five million people.
I September 2012
UN Names new envoy to Syria conflict
Mr Annan ended his attempts to bring peace to the country, which has seen an estimated 21,000 people killed during a 17-month uprising, after it became clear his six-point plan was being ignored by both sides. Violence has soared in recent months as the rebel Free Syrian Army has gained in strength, launching attacks on regime forces in Damascus and Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. Clashes took place around the main military airport and the army shelled a neighbourhood in south Damascus. Opposition activists claimed 65 bodies had been found dumped on a rubbish tip in a town outside the capital.
Deadly violence was also reported in Aleppo, Homs and Deraa. Mr Brahimi, previously a UN special envoy in both Iraq and Afghanistan, was named as Mr Annan’s successor just hours after the mandate of the UN observer mission tasked to monitor the ceasefire elements of his plan ended. He is expected to travel to New York in the coming days to meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to discuss a fresh approach to the conflict. In a statement, Mr Ban said: “The violence and the suffering in Syria must come to an end. “The Secretary General appreciates Mr Brahimi’s willingness
to bring his considerable talents and experience to this crucial task for which he will need, and rightly expects, the strong, clear and unified support of the international community, including the Security Council.” However, the United States was quick to question how Mr Brahimi would operate following the withdrawal of the UN monitors. White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said: “We need to hear more from the UN on the mandate of Mr Brahimi’s new position.” Turkey’s foreign minister cautioned that international consensus would be needed if the new envoy was to succeed. When he resigned, Mr Annan complained that his efforts were hampered by a divided and deadlocked UN Security Council. Meanwhile, it has emerged Syria’s first astronaut has joined the ranks of prominent defectors from the regime General Muhammed Ahmed Faris, a military aviator and the first Syrian in space when he flew with a Soviet crew to the Mir space station in 1987, fled to Turkey 10 days ago. “I decided to defect from the regime several months ago, but I was kept under surveillance and it prevented me from defecting immediately,” he told Reuters news agency. He said seeing an eight-monthold child wounded by shrapnel was the final straw for him.
Emirate can accommodate 600,000 worshippers, with most mosques in Deira The number of mosques in Dubai over the last four years has grown by 36 per cent from 1,043 in 2008 to 1,418 this year. Two new mosques have come up so far this year, while 19 new mosques came up in different areas of Dubai last year. Though all mosques in Dubai are managed by the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD), mosques can be built by
individuals, clubs, associations, companies, etc, in coordination with IACAD. As many as 495 or 34 per cent of the mosques in Dubai were built by IACAD, while 478 mosques were built by philanthropists followed by different government departments that contributed towards the building of 283 mosques. Most of Dubai’s mosques, 633, are located in Deira, while 438 are located in Bur Dubai. Around 36 per cent of these mosques have Friday prayer service.
The emirate of Dubai has mosques of various sizes from those accommodating 100 worshippers to those that can accommodate more than a thousand. Around 168 of the total number of mosques in Dubai can accommodate more than 1,000 worshippers at a time, while there are around 500 mosques that can accommodate 100 people. The mosques in Dubai together can accommodate around 600,000 worshippers. www.passionislam.com
36% Rise in Number of Mosques in Dubai
American Muslims Launch ‘Burma Task Force USA’
I WORLD NEWS
Prominent Muslim American groups have come together to launch Burma Task Force USA with the objective of raising the profile of the Rohingya issue while speaking out against alleged atrocities and human rights violations which have forced thousands to flee and seek refuge in neighboring Bangladesh. “We demand that those responsible for the mass rapes and mass murder of thousands of Rohingyas be charged with crimes against humanity and genocide by the International Court of Justice,” Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, chairperson of Burma Task Force USA, demanded. The Burma Task Force is based on a previous successful effort of American Muslims, the Bosnia Task Force, where its members worked with the interfaith leadership and women’s rights
organizations against the genocide of Muslims in the former Yugoslavia. Mujahid said the objective of the group is to stop perceived ethnic cleansing in Burma. “We will be working with leaders of other faith groups, interfaith groups, women’s rights organizations and peace movements to put pressure on the US government and the American business community to warn the Burmese government to stop the ethnic cleansing,” he said. American Muslims are taking their cue from the previous efforts of Coalition Against Genocide, wherein Muslims of Indian origin living in the US worked with other communities to revoke the diplomatic visa of Narendra Modi, the chief minister of the western Indian State of Gujarat, for his alleged role in communal riots there some 10 years ago. Many of the founding members of Burma Task Force USA have been actively working to stop this new violence in western Burma ever since it first flared in June, said Mujahid. Dr. Shaik Ubaid, who has been advocating the cause of Rohingyas since 1992, was instrumental in getting the Indian Muslims to rally India’s interfaith community to put similar pressure on the government of India.
I September 2012
Qatar offers $2-billion loan to Egypt!
Qatar has offered Egypt a loan of USD-two-billion to allegedly help boost the North African country’s economy. The announcement came after a meeting between Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani with Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, Egyptian state news agency MENA reported. “Qatar has decided to deposit two billion dollars in the Central Bank of Egypt,” said the report. An International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation is expected in Cairo this month for talks on an aid package for Egypt, worth some USD 3.2 billion. Egypt considers a comprehensive economic recovery plan a prerequisite for the aid package.
Israel banned from International Culture Summit in Edinburgh Human rights activists have welcomed the Scottish government’s decision to block Israel’s participation in the first International Culture Summit, which was held in the Scottish Parliament building last month. A coalition of campaign groups labeled “Don’t dance with Israeli apartheid,” which had planned to protest any official Israeli presence, said that Tel Aviv had declined the invitation to attend a conference “encouraging cultural dialogue among nations,” the Palestine News
Network reported. The Cultural Summit brought together about 40 culture ministers from around the world. The Scottish government’s Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, said the gathering “offered an unprecedented opportunity to discuss the use and value of the arts, culture and the creative industries, and their role in encouraging dialogue among nations.” In 2010, the Scottish government called for trade sanctions on Tel Aviv after Mossad spies travelled to Dubai
on forged British passports to kill senior Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Al-Mabhouh was found dead in his hotel room on January 19, 2010. The Dubai police said the murder was carried out by a hit squad of at least 11 people using stolen identities, in many cases forged British, Irish, French, German, and Australian passports. More than half of the people identified as being responsible for the killing share the names of foreignborn Israeli nationals.
Islamic Organisation send Aid to Rohingyas
I September 2012
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation announced it has received a green light from Burma to assist Muslim Rohingya displaced by sectarian violence. It said Burma gave its agreement to the OIC following talks in Rangoon between a delegation from the panIslamic body and President Thein Sein on the “deplorable humanitarian situation in Rakhine [Arakan] state.” The delegation assured Thein
Sein that Islamic humanitarian organisations were willing to provide aid to all residents of the strife-torn state. Saudi King Abdullah decided to grant $50 million to the Rohingya, the country’s news agency SPA reported, describing them as victims of “several rights violations, including ethnic cleansing, murder, rape and forced displacement.” Violence between Buddhists and
Rohingya has left scores dead. The entire state has been under emergency rule since early June with a heavy army and police presence. New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused Burmese forces of opening fire on Rohingya, as well as committing rape and standing by as rival mobs attacked each other. Decades of discrimination have left the Rohingya stateless, and they are viewed by the United Nations as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities. The bloodshed has cast a shadow over widely praised reforms by the president, including the release of hundreds of political prisoners and the election of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament. In a rare conciliatory move over the issue, Thein Sein welcomed the OIC delegation’s visit. “The president said he hoped the OIC secretary could witness the reality [in Arakan],” adding tens of thousands of displaced people from both sides were being given food and shelter. OIC head Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu had proposed sending a mission to probe “massacres… oppression and ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya in western Burma.
Quran is back in Turkey schools After years of secularism, Turkey returns to teaching Quran as part of its educational curriculum. The first notions of secularism in Turkey goes back to 1972, when Sultan Selim III founded the first secular military school. During the 19th century, the Islamic Ottoman Empire had many far reaching reforms including the establishment of a parliament, the abandonment of punishments of apostasy. With the fall of the Ottoman Empire after WWI came the rise of the secular and democratic Republic of Turkey. The secular power of the religious authorities and functionaries was reduced and eventually eliminated.
The religious foundations were nationalized, and religious education was restricted and for a time prohibited. However, among the main pledges of the party, the Justice and Development party (AK), during its 2010 constitutional referendum was reforming the educational system by introducing teaching Quran and the biography of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The amendment stirred an uproar of objections between secular and liberal parties as the AK steamrolled it through the committee stage. Passage of the bill that will allow schools specializing in religious
education combined with a modern curriculum, known as Imam Hatip schools, to take boys and girls from the age of 11 instead of 15, and to provide optional classes in Quranic studies and the life of the Prophet Muhammad (p) in other schools was never in doubt, and it was carried by a vote of 295 to 91. Erdogan says the new law gives people what they want, unlike the previous education regime which alienated many families who want their children to have more access to religious schooling. secular-minded families will not have to send their children to classes on religion. “Nobody is forced (to attend).”
I WORLD NEWS
I September 2012
Spanish artist ‘Lita Cabellut’ celebrates Hijab
In Case You Missed It
In her art gallery “Memories Wrapped in Gold Paper”, Spanish artist, Lita Cabellut, attempts to surpass stereotypes stressing that all women should be respected whether veiled or not. Cabellut emphasizes that the “head cover” or Hijab expresses individuality, free will, and independence and is similar to the nuns’ or monk’s religious head cover called “habit”. Lita, in an interview with BBC, discusses how she tried to transcend her status, being raised as a lonely orphan in the streets of old Barcelona, by drawing about women. The female face is a powerful center of expression in her portraits: “ In portraying the faces of Eastern
women, I tried to delve deeper and uncover what lies behind a woman’s external beauty, and reflecting the luminous effect of Hijab.” Lita adds: “what motivated me to start my art gallery is the controversy that has started in Europe lately regarding veil, and banning women from wearing Hijab. After long conversations with Muslim women, I came to the conclusion that the head cover is endowed, not only with a religious significance, but also with a cultural one. When you see the portraits I make, women with the veil have a lot of character behind the veil, you still can be a mother, a women who fights for her family. And still have tradition and dignity of tradition and this is what I want to show.” Lita explains how the West failed to grasp the concept of Hijab, and expresses her objection against the law banning Hijab: “I am against any law that restrains the individual’s freedom and prohibits him from practicing his own beliefs. One must respects the other’s culture and traditions.” The Spanish artist drew inspiration from veiled Muslim women living in Holland, and refers to them as her “muse.” Lita says: “ In my stay in Holland, I have noticed that there are a great many Muslim women wearing Hijab, and I have
always been drawn to their beauty which emanates through their Hijab. In addition, several of my paintings were inspired by Muslim women from different nationalities. When I asked them if they would accept to pose as models for my paintings, they welcomed the idea since it supports their cause.” She exclaims: “ Why would a Muslim woman be banned from wearing Hijab while Catholic nuns wear religious habits, some priests cover their heads, and some youth have their noses or faces pierced freely?” Lita continues to discuss the prominent effect of Islam on the Spanish culture, expressing how the Spanish were lucky, since before the arrival of Muslims in Spain, the latter had no specific culture. At the end, Lita concluded by saying “ I wish that my exhibition reinforces communication and enhances interaction between distinct cultures. I would like to stress that the head cover does not constitute a barrier to communication but rather a means of practicing one’s religious beliefs.” Lita Cabellut’s ‘human-faced’ paintings are exposed all around the globe, in New York, Dubai, Miami, Singapore, Hong Kong, Barcelona, London, Paris, Venice, Monaco, Seoul and many more cities.
German opposition parties and peace activists have sharply condemned Berlin’s plan to sell advanced weapons to Persian Gulf countries, saying it does not comply with export regulations. Lawmakers from the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Greens and The Left party (Die Linke) voiced outrage over Berlin’s decision to sell up to 200 advanced Leopard tanks to
Qatar. They said the decision shows German Councilor Angela Markel’s “Moral bankruptcy” and Berlin’s support for the dictators and torturers. Katja Keul, the parliamentary secretary of the Green Party, argued that the economic and social condition of Qatari people is catastrophic, stressing that 90
percent of the Qataris work for the welfare of the rich 10 percent. “The Qatari government does not make any efforts to improve the life of its citizens and there is no evidence of social or democratic openings in this country,” Keul said. Fierce criticism also came from the left as the party warned the government against selling arms freely to Arab countries.
German opposition parties condemn arms sale to Qatar
Israel running terrorist camps
I September 2012
A senior official of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says Israel has created centers for training terrorists and plotting the assassination of influential figures of other countries. “Today the Zionist Regime [of Israel] has a heavy dossier in international organizations for plotting various assassinations and establishing training centers for terrorists,” head of the IRGC’s Public Relations Department Lieutenant General Ramezan Sharif said. However, since international organizations are under the control of the global Arrogance, they
cannot be considered as powerful authorities for addressing the terrorist activities of the Zionist regime [of Israel],” Sharif added. “The Zionist regime has been using the method of assassination to eliminate influential figures of [other] nations for years,” the official said. In February, The Independent reported that Israel has set up an undercover commando unit, codenamed the “Depth Corps” and headed by Major General Shai Avita, to carry out deep inside Iran assassination and sabotage missions against the Islamic Republic.
6000 Islamic schools to be set up in Indonesia Some 6000 Islamic high schools are expected to be set up by the Indonesia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs in the country by the end of next year. South Asia, deputy of the ministry in Islamic education announced that the number of schooling years will be also raised from 9 to 12 in Indonesia.
He said that construction of such schools has been necessary taking into account that most of public schools in Indonesia do not offer Islamic and religious courses. Students of the new Islamic schools will learn Quranic and Islamic sciences along with lessons taught at other high schools of the country.
Jabal Omar plots ten new hotels in Makkah Jabal Omar Development Company plans to open ten hotels in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Makkah, its executive general director told Bloomberg. The firm, established to invest US$3.2bn in Makkah, is developing 2.2m sqm of land near the Grand Mosque, said Sameer Al Quraishi. “Saudi Arabia is aiming to increase the number of people who are allowed to perform the annual pilgrimage,” he told the newswire. “It’s also mostly trying to accommodate more religious visitors and that will surely increase demand for hotels,” he added. Hotel operators Marriott International, Hyatt Hotels, Hilton Hotels and Sheraton will manage properties on the development, said Al Quraishi. The US$5.3bn project will include 38 hotels, managed by 28 companies and will add 13,500 rooms to Makkah’s hospitality industry once complete in five years. Islam’s holiest city plays host to more than 10m pilgrims throughout the year and around 3m attend the Hajj, one of the world’s biggest religious gatherings. The number of tourists is expected to rise to almost 14m by the end of the decade as the kingdom develops its local infrastructure as it moves to create more jobs for its nationals in the hospitality industry. Hoteliers Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International and Hyatt International in May signed a deal to operate 12 hotels in Makkah. Fairmont operates two hotels in the kingdom, the Raffles Makkah Palace and the Makkah Clock Royal Tower, which opens this month.
Liverpool FC Moroccon and Tunisian Delight
I September 2012
Liverpool have completed the signing of Morocco winger Oussama Assaidi from Dutch side Heerenveen and Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Sahin. Assaidi the 24-year-old winger has signed a long-term deal. “I’m very happy to play for this big club,” he told liverpoolfc.com “The first time I spoke to the coach I had a good feeling. “I had offers from other big clubs but I’ve been waiting for this moment. “It will be a dream to play with these big players and I hope training will help me to be a good player here.” Rodgers admits it may take Assaidi a while to settle in but he believes, given time, the winger will be a success. Liverpool also completed the signing of Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Sahin on a season-long loan. Sahin was voted the best player in the Bundesliga in a poll with Kicker magazine after helping Dortmund to the German league title in 2010-11. Sahin, who has 31 caps for Turkey “I hope it will be a nice year with trophies,” said Sahin. At the time of going to print Liverpool added German youth striker Samed Yesil from Bayer Leverkusen.
Hashim Amla Quickest to 3,000 ODI Runs South Africa’s Hashim Amla became the fastest player to 3,000 one-day international runs during the course of his 150 that set up the Proteas’ 80-run win over England at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. Amla’s brilliant 124-ball knock, featuring 16 fours, saw him reach the landmark in 57 innings compared to the 69 it took West Indies’ Vivian Richards, one of cricket’s alltime great batsmen. He is the third South African in a top 10 that also includes current Proteas’ coach Gary
Kirsten. Below are the 10 fastest players to 3,000 ODI runs, in terms of innings (player, country/team, number of innings): Hashim Amla (RSA) 57 Vivian Richards (WIS) 69 Gordon Greenidge (WIS) 72 Gary Kirsten (RSA) 72 Virat Kohli (IND) 72 Graham Gooch (ENG) 77 Kevin Pietersen (ENG/ICC) 78 Navjot Singh Sidhu (IND) 79 Brian Lara (WIS) 79 Boeta Dippenaar (RSA/AFR) 79 www.passionislam.com
SPORT I 23
I September 2012
Leading female figures discuss future of Muslim sportswomen
A group of leading female figures met for the first time at West Ham United’s ground to discuss, praise and celebrate the presence of Muslim sportswomen at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Rimla Akhtar, Chair of the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation (MWSF), a UK-based charity specialising in increasing participation amongst black and minority ethnic women, particularly Muslims, opened the event, highlighting the importance of the contribution of these Olympians and welcomed the four members of the specially arranged panel for the evening: Faezeh Hashemi, President of the Islamic Federation for Women’s
Sport, former member of Iranian parliament and daughter of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani Sahar El Hawary, a pioneer of women’s football in Egypt, member of the FIFA Women’s Committee and the first female member of the Egyptian Football Federation Anum Bandey, a fifteen year old swimmer competing for Pakistan at the London 2012 Olympics Khadijah Safari, kickboxing instructor and winner of MWSF’s Coach of the Year Award Held with the strong support of West Ham United’s Community Trust, the event saw four assorted panel guests, representing their
various countries and sporting backgrounds, answering questions from the panel. The panellists reflected how, despite their differing backgrounds, sport has provided a positive environment where they have achieved for themselves whilst also creating pathways for future women to follow. Their message has been that the focus should not continue to be on the barriers that these women face but how the light should shine on those Muslim sportswomen who are on the world stage, competing and demonstrating this theory in practice so that future generations can find their way as well. Chief Executive of the MWSF, Ayesha Abdeen, stated: “The reception was a huge success. It was inspiring to have two great pioneers of women’s sport in Faezeh Hashemi and Sahar El Hawary side by side with a young aspiring Olympian in Anum Bandey and role model for UK Muslim women in Khadijah Safari.”
Gulf investors end talks on Leeds Utd takeover The proposed takeover of Leeds United - believed to involve a Bahraini royal has collapsed, the club has confirmed. The English Championship football club said on June 26 that an unnamed group of investors had been granted due diligence and it was widely expected a takeover deal would be reached soon after. The takeover was reportedly being led by Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa, a member of Bahrain’s ruling dynasty. But in a statement posted on its official website, Leeds United said: “Leeds United
announces that the exclusivity period granted to a potential investor as mentioned in the statement of 26 June has ended. “The club remain happy to continue discussions, but not on an exclusive basis, so as not to prevent other options passing.” It added that the club would continue to be receptive to approaches from potential new partners. The Leeds United Supporters’ Trust (LUST) issued a statement on Twitter saying: “The Leeds United Supporters Trust can confirm that the deal to buy the club has now collapsed.” Since June 26, no
information or updates from either the club or the proposed new owners have been announced and Leeds fans have grown increasingly frustrated. LUST last month hit out over the way the takeover was being handled.
“The complete silence from the buyers, and the wholly inadequate statements from the club itself, have kept Leeds fans in the dark about what will become of their club after this summer,” LUST said.
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Bosnia & Herzegovina The Journey 2012
I SPECIAL FEATURE
Entrenched within its lush, green forestry and fauna, amidst its enchanting naturally decorated landscapes and picturesque scenery lays a virulent history for which Bosnia has earned its reputation within Europe. For Eastern Europe and the Balkans, Bosnia and its neighbouring countries has long endured a complex and turbulent relationship in recent years. Sarajevo became known as the ‘Jerusalem of the West’ and it is also famously remembered for being the trigger point for the beginning of World War One with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. The intricate political story of the conflict that occurred in 1992 is far too multifaceted for one to expound upon within the confines of this
small article, yet equally it is quite an arduous task for one to attempt to summarise. The siege on Bosnia began in April 1992 where the main catalyst for the ensuing tragic events was due to the Bosnian government at the time voting to leave what was the Yugoslav Federation and become an independent nation. This raised alarm bells with Serbian nationalists (also Christian fundamentalists) led by the late Slobodan Milošević, who were seeking to create a Christian Greater Serbia after the death of Communist leader General Tito. The following years were bloody and brutal. Scores of civilians were killed, notably the market massacre in which a market full of shoppers was shelled indiscriminately leaving
I September 2012
a morbid scene of scattered bodies, blood and carnage. A main road in Sarejevo became infamously entitled ‘Sniper Valley’ as Serbian sharp shooters concealed up in the surrounding hills took aim on civilians. In July 1995 in particular, the town of Srebrenica bore witness to what became known as the worst massacre since World War Two, where eight thousand men and boys were separated from their families and summarily executed in cold blood and callously piled in mass graves in a sinister attempt that they be hidden from the eyes of the World. These mass graves continue to be discovered until now, twenty years on. Several impending negotiations and ceasefires were sought out but
Passion Islam I September 2012 failed to hold strong and a series of tragic events occurred. The siege finally ended in 1995 when the Dayton Accord was signed and endorsed by President Clinton, coupled with a perpetually enforcing presence of Mujahedeen coming in from across the continents, forcing the Serbian military to retreat and lay down it’s arms. The war saw in the region of one hundred thousand people killed and many thousands displaced, whilst many fled in exodus to seek refuge in other countries.
The Journey Myself and a group of young Muslims from the UK embarked upon a journey to Bosnia organised by the charity organisation ‘MADE In Europe’ to explore the region affected and to visit the aftermath twenty years on. The main objectives of the expedition were to raise awareness of a forgotten tragedy, to generate funds for sustainable agricultural projects and to show support to families affected by post war conditions. As a collective we raised enough funds to support the implementation of strawberry farms, seedling farms and English lessons. Bosnians are a hard working people by nature and this allows them to be self- sufficient rather than to rely off continual aid. My abode for a week was in a quaint village staying with a local Bosnian family that lived on a farm high upon the hills. The environment was serene and natural and we were made very welcomed, as Bosnians have a resounding reputation for their warm hospitality. Many of the group who lived on farms got stuck in and helped with stacking hay, picking raspberries and feeding livestock which all added to the wholesomeness of the experience. On our journey, we also participated in the annual ‘Mars Mira’ or ‘Peace March’ event, where thousands of people worldwide re-enact in reverse the treacherous route thousands of Bosnian refugees undertook over roughly ten days from Srebrenica to the UN safe area located in the village of Nezuk to flee the onslaught of the Serbs. This was formerly known as the ‘Death March’ as many perished along the way as they faced an incessant barrage of shelling, ambushes and minefields
as well as starvation. Our simplified version consisted of an 110km march over three days through dense forests, rocky roads and hills in an average of thirty-degree heat. Although it was a tough and challenging march for any intrepid trekker, it was truly a humbling experience to realise that as we treaded in the footsteps of those that fled, it was not an iota as testing in comparison to the immeasurable struggles and trials those Bosnian refugees were faced with when desperately attempting to escape relentless and brutal persecution. The culmination of our journey was poignantly realised at the time of the Srebrenica memorial janazah. Mass graves continue to be found each year, and this year saw over five hundred new bodies identified and finally laid to rest, buried in a congregational ceremony as an evocative symbol to the World to show that this atrocity will never be forgotten. It was one of the most powerful and moving scenes I had ever witnessed… the emotive silence and tranquillity that imbued the atmosphere at the onset the prayer, immediately followed with throngs of people rushing to the burial grounds… the clanging sounds of shovels crashing emphatically against the earth to be used as coverings, whilst the gritty dust of which dissipated through the air… the resonances of soft lamentation that traversed the airwaves whilst families convened and wept by coffins... the melancholic recitation of Quranic verses and supplications that effortlessly imposed themselves upon my senses...the vision stretching to be submerged by a sea of solemn gravestones. Nonetheless, the sombre ambiance and mounful tears were defiantly juxtaposed with a powerful spirit of strength and unity. Post war Bosnia The Muslims of Bosnia suffered humiliation and terrible aggression and although the war is over and there is relative peace and safety in the region, tensions still run high between Serbs and Muslims twenty years on and each are not readily welcomed in either sides areas. Ironically, before the war Muslims, Jews and Christians live peacefully side-by-side. Recently the main
SPECIAL FEATURE I 25 Serbian general Ratko Mladic, responsible for much of the war crimes committed had been arrested and is being investigated in a war tribunal at The Hague. The economic situation of Bosnia is still struggling to find its feet and it is proving toilsome for many people to rebuild their lives. Infrastructure is still in its infancy whilst job opportunities are scarce and income generation projects are still quite elementary in comparison to mainland Europe. There is currently a rotational government changing periodically between Serb, Muslim and Croat parties lacking tangible convergence or political stability. Unfortunately many of the younger generation have little connection with what happened before them. For the elder generation the emotional and sometimes physical scars of war appear to be very much engrained upon their hearts. Those who understand its significance in a wider context realise the importance of keeping it firmly in the memories as a symbol of resistance. Albeit the tragic past people now just wish to rebuild their lives and live peacefully like everybody else. Conflict and poverty are unfortunately part of the world’s cycle of tragic events and I believe that it is always important to stand up and make our voices heard and to do whatever we can do to help and to avoid them however insignificant we feel in doing so. We should never trade our humanity for anything. We need to be proponents of change and although war still ravages around the world and appears to be impossible to stop, Bosnia should serve as an profound example to the World, and in particular the Islamic World of what happens when we fail to help each other. Although the Bosnians say with an emblazoned heartache that it will ‘Never to Be Forgotten’ and rightly so, I earnestly wish for it to be changed and enshrined as a profound message resonating throughout the World so that the epitaph states ‘Never to Happen Again’. MADE In Europe is a charity organisation www.madeineurope.org. uk
By Shareef Esoof
I SPECIAL FEATURE
I September 2012
I September 2012
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T: 01904 476333
T: 0113 253 7766
Buy online at www.al-murad.co.uk
TILES & DECORATING
TILES & DECORATING
70 STORES NATIONWIDE