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MUSLIMS FACE GREATER THREAT IN SUBURBS
Muslims and their mosques face a higher level of threats and intimidation in UK suburbs and local areas than in big cities, according to a report published. Case studies revealed that examples such as a Muslim woman who was punched and called a “terrorist” in front of her petrified daughter were not uncommon. Such attacks often go unreported, and in this case the woman was too scared to inform the police. She also played down the incident to reduce her child’s distress, and avoided explaining why she was singled out for wearing a burka and being a Muslim woman. The new study, “Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: UK Case Studies,” reveals this kind of unprovoked incident is a largely hidden experience that is insufficiently acknowledged and understood outside of the communities where they occur. The report is part of a 10 year academic research project led by the University of Exeter’s European Muslim
Research Centre (EMRC). It captures a snapshot of these experiences which are often unrecognised by the media, politicians and wider British society. The research also combines an academic approach to identifying world events and policy information that inform the way reactions and actions towards Muslims can be influenced. Findings show that since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, arson, criminal damage, violence and intimidation against mosques has increased dramatically. Dr Jonathan Githens Mazer, codirector of the EMRC, said: “Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime are very real problems for British Muslims going about their everyday business. “Through our research we have found that in smaller and more isolated mosques in many suburbs and small towns there is a feeling of being under siege. “Some local councils who are made aware of the situation say to mosque officials, ‘we can see this is bad, why don’t you move the mosque?’” The report also analyses the local
activity by the right-wing British National Party, English Defence League and sister organisations. Anti-migrant and random attacks that have impacted on every poor urban community where most Muslims live have also been studied. Dr Bob Lambert, co-director of the EMRC said: “Evidence has also indicated that the galvanising report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry changed police response to hate crimes. “Whereas, because the war on terror is viewed as a security risk, Muslims do not have the support that is now widely accepted in other areas of hate crime. “Muslims are not requesting special treatment, just equal rights with their fellow citizens.” Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “This type of behaviour is deplorable and we want to stop anyone who creates distrust and division in communities - wherever it is. “Everyone has the right to go about their daily business without fear of harm or intimidation. “We want Britain to become an integrated society.”
I LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS
I December 2010
By Andy Worthington Author & Journalist
Are Control Orders About To Be Scrapped?
Well, well. I’m not holding my breath, but the Observer’s announcement that “The scrapping of control orders for terror suspects moved a step closer when … senior Whitehall security sources broke ranks to reveal that MI5 was ‘not wedded’ to keeping the contentious regime” is promising. A form of virtual house arrest, control orders were introduced in 2005 after the government’s immediate post9/11 response to dealing with foreign “terror suspects” — imprisoning them in Belmarsh without charge or trial, on the basis of secret evidence — was ruled illegal by the Law Lords. In recent years, their use was expanded to include British nationals, as well as foreign nationals, who have often been subjected to a form of extrajudicial “internal exile,” obliged to move hundreds of miles from their homes, as well as being subjected to strict curfews, tagging, a requirement to report to the security services at all times of the day and night, the vetting of all visitors, a ban on the use of computers and mobile phones, and the chance that Home office personnel could raid their homes at any time. However, the continued existence of control orders has been under threat since June 2009, when the Law Lords ruled that imposing them breaches Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to a fair trial, because a suspect held under a control order is not given “sufficient information about the allegations against him to enable him to give effective instructions to the special advocate assigned to him.” Although the control order regime requires Parliamentary support to exist, being renewed in the House of Commons on an annual basis, this year the Liberal Democrats were determined to bring it to an end, voting en masse to repeal the legislation, and as a result the abolition of control orders was central to their outspoken position on civil liberties, and was something that they were intent on fulfilling, along with the repeal of the 28-day period of pre-trial detention for
suspects held within the normal bounds of the law. As I explained in detail in a previous article, a rift within the government opened up when it was revealed that home secretary Theresa May had been spooked by the spooks, and was changing her mind about dropping control orders, and that Jonathan Evans, the new head of MI5, had also had a quiet word with David Cameron about the perceived importance of control orders to the security services. This prompted Ken Macdonald, the Liberal Democrat peer appointed by Theresa May to oversee the review of Labour’s counter-terrorism legislation, to write to the home secretary, “warning that he would publicly denounce any decision to retain control orders,” leading to a public belittling of Macdonald in return, when May used a BBC appearance to state that, although she “thought it appropriate that someone externally should look at it and say they have looked at the right questions and talked to the right people … ultimately, the decision on what is in place in terms of our counter-terrorism legislation is a decision for government.” Despite this, other opponents lined up behind Ken Macdonald — including energy secretary Chris Huhne, an outspoken critic as a Liberal Democrat in opposition, justice secretary Ken Clarke and the maverick anti-torture MP David Davies, who told the government that he expected 50 Tory and Lib Dem MPs to vote against the government if a decision was taken to keep control orders. Given that the Liberal Democrats are increasingly seen — by their own party members, and by the public in general — as the losers in this coalition, I would be surprised if Nick Clegg can afford to let control orders slip, as he did with his flagship promise not to raise university tuition fees. This, of course, was recently shot to pieces with the government’s announcement that universities will be allowed to double or triple their fees, leading Aaron Porter, the president of the National Union of
Students, to tell the BBC that the NUS will “chase down” any Liberal Democrats voting for the rise in fees. In conclusion, then, a leak from Whitehall to the Observer may well be significant, although it should be noted, in closing, that it does nothing to address the plight of other “terror suspects,” who are also held without charge or trial on the basis of secret evidence — either on deportation bail, where the constraints on their liberty are remarkably similar to control orders, or in other cases, in prison. Unlike those on control orders, these men are facing deportation to their home countries — including Algeria and Jordan — on the basis of flimsy “memoranda of understanding” (or, in Algeria’s case, nothing more than a verbal agreement), which are supposed to guarantee that they will be treated humanely, even though these agreements have been widely criticized for being unreliable, and for being nothing more than a cynical attempt by Western countries to undermine their obligations, under the UN Convention Against Torture, not to “expel, return (‘refouler’) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” For these men, the Law Lords’ intervention regarding the use of secret evidence in control orders has not been extended, and they remain trapped — in their homes or in prison — without charge or trial, and on the basis of secret evidence, with few MPs prepared to follow up on the Early Day Motion submitted by Diane Abbott MP in March 2009, which called for an end to the use of secret evidence in all cases related to allegations of terrorism, and a return to the guiding principle of all countries that like to claim that they are civilized: the right to be charged and tried in an open court. While we await the findings of the counter-terrorism review headed by Ken Macdonald, let us not forget those for whom justice still seems to be an unattainable dream.
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British MPs oppose Israeli war crime law Passion Islam
I December 2010
More than a hundred of MPs have opposed the British government’s decision to changing the law of arresting Israeli leaders for the alleged war crimes. Britain’s coalition government is planning to restrict the universal jurisdiction law in a way that arrest warrant for Zionist figurs would be virtually impossible. A parliamentary Early Day Motion has so far been signed by 102 MPs. The MPs opposed to any legislation that restrict the power given to British courts. “Universal jurisdiction for human rights abuses
is essential as part of the cause of bringing to justice those who commit crimes against humanity,” the motion said. Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, previously had said that the coalition government would bring in a suitable amendment to universal jurisdiction “at the first opportunity”. Ed Miliband, Labour leader, has not yet clarified the opposition party’s official position. He said that he would say his idea when the government’s plans is revealed. The issue was brought up last December when a warrant for arresting the
former foreign minister Tzipi Livni was issued. The warrant was because of her role in the latest Gaza massacres, which forced her canceling her visit to Britain. Several other Israel leaders have cancelled
their visits to Britain because of war crime arresting threat. Last month, Israel canceled its high-level Security Dialogue meeting with Britain, which was to be held in London.
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LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS
I December 2010
British troops face war crimes charges
UK government should prosecute Bush for torture
Brutal treatment of Iraqi prisoners by three British soldiers that may lead to their trial as war criminals has placed the Ministry of Defense in the middle of a new crisis. The scandal broke as lawyers of former Iraqi inmates produced videos in the High Court that show the three from a military intelligence unit threatening, abusing and humiliating detainees at a secret facility near basra, in southeastern Iraq. According to Philip Havers QC, counsel for the MoD, the case of the three men has been referred to the director of service prosecutions (DSP). Havers said the referral was made after an investigation into their violation of the International Criminal Court Act, with “a recommendation
[to the DSP] that he consider charges under the 2001 act”. Havers added “committing outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment” has been banned in the act along with several other practices as a war crime. The development is part of the case of over 200 Iraqi civilians in the High Court whose lawyers asked for a public inquiry saying they have “credible” evidence of former detainees’ “systemic” torture by British forces. The court is also investigating several other members of the military some from the Territorial Army or the Royal Navy and RAF reserves who could stand trial as war criminals. passionislam.com
The government has launched a review of its controversial “Prevent” counter-terrorism strategy, which includes measures to tackle extremist material online. The wide-ranging review could lead to greater censorship of the web. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, said “I believe the Prevent programme isn’t working as well as it could, and that is why we are reviewing it. I want a strategy that is effective and properly focused.”
The review of Prevent will be overseen by Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of counterterrorism legislation. The current version of the strategy, published in March last year, noted that while the Terrorism Act 2006 allows the police to order UK hosting companies to remove extremist material, it is powerless against foreign websites. In an attempt to reduce availability, the Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism, a secretive Home
The revelations by George W Bush that he directly sanctioned the waterboarding of three suspected terrorists, raises serious questions as to the obligation by UK government to prosecute him under the Convention against Torture. The judgment established in the case of General Pinochet emphasised that torture could not be carried out as part of the official duties of state and thus Bush has no state immunity for the role he played in sanctioning the abuse. Cageprisoners Executive Director, Asim Qureshi, commented, “Under international law there is a positive duty on all countries around the world to prosecute those who have been involved in the use of torture – it is a crime that has universal jurisdiction and so any country can prosecute regardless of where the offence took place. As a peremptory norm which is immutable, the UK government should not neglect its obligations under the torture conventions and prosecute George W Bush for the role that he has played.” Cageprisoners is concerned that by not fulfilling their obligations, the UK government will undermine the status of the rule against torture and will thus acquiesce its use in other countries around the world.
Counter-terror review to tackle extremism on the net
Office unit, produces lists of extremist URLs for desktop filtering programs to block. Such software is typically used by schools and universities. The review of Prevent is now likely to consider renewed calls for an network-level filtering system, similar to that administered by the Internet Watch Foundation to make accessing child abuse material more difficult. Any such move would be strongly resisted by ISPs and civil liberties groups. passionislam.com
I December 2010
Afghan war unwinnable
LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS
The head of the British Armed Forces has conceded that it is not possible to defeat al-Qaeda in Afghanistan militarily. General Sir David Richards also admitted that the people of Afghanistan are increasingly feeling frustrated over the UK and NATO’s incapability to implement their commitments after occupying the country nine years after the US-led invasion in 2001. General Richards told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that the UK need to provide security for its citizens through containing Al-Qaeda instead of trying to defeat Taliban and alQaeda in Afghanistan militarily. British politicians and military commanders used to stipulate the necessity to crush al-Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan, but they are now forced to admit ‘this bitter fact’ because the
death toll of British troops in the country is rising on a daily basis and the UK is grappling with a record budget deficit in its history. The UK’s most senior military official refers to “this bitter fact” as follows: “There comes a time in every conflict when it is appropriate to negotiate with the enemies. I don’t think we should be worried about it. Such talks would also be part of the problem”. If the al-Qaeda and Taliban have been unbeatable, Sir Davis has to answer the question “why Britain and its NATO allies did come to the conclusion so far so late after almost 10 years of war and destruction that brought Afghans death and displacement and resulted in the death of hundreds of occupation troops and billions of pounds in losses”.
No prosecution of MI5 officer over torture claims An MI5 (domestic intelligence service) officer will not be prosecuted over claims he was complicit in the torture of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed, it was announced. Scotland Yard launched an inquiry after Mohamed said an employee of the Security Service was aware of his ill-treatment while he was being held in Pakistan in 2002. But director of public prosecutions (DPP) Keir Starmer said there was “insufficient evidence” to prosecute the man, known as witness B, for any offence. In a statement Starmer said: “The Crown Prosecution Service has advised the Metropolitan Police that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute witness B for any criminal offence arising from the interview of Binyam Mohamed in Pakistan on 17 May 2002. “We are unable to release further information at this stage because the wider investigation into other
potential criminal conduct arising from allegations made by Mohamed in interviews with the police is still ongoing.” The “wider investigation” is understood to refer to an inquiry into claims MI6 officials have also been linked to torture. Detectives from Scotland Yard’s specialist crime wing are examining “the conditions under which a non-Briton was held” and “potential involvement of British personnel”. A Metropolitan Police spokesman declined to comment. He said: “We will not give a running commentary.” MI5 Director General Jonathan Evans welcomed the DPP’s decision. The terror suspect said he was secretly transported to Morocco and tortured before being flown to Afghanistan and then Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in September 2004. The United States government dropped all charges against him in October 2008 and he was released and returned to Britain in February 2009.
It emerged that secret payouts will be made to 16 former Guantanamo Bay detainees, including Mohamed. Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said the controversial move was necessary to avoid a protracted, complex and expensive legal battle. Others are believed to include Bishar Al Rawi, Jamil El Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes and Martin Mubanga. Their allegations included claims that the Government knew they were being illegally transferred to Guantanamo Bay but failed to prevent it. There were also allegations that British security and intelligence officials colluded in their torture and abuse while they were held abroad. Other allegations included that British agents witnessed mistreatment, including the use of hoods and shackles. Starmer’s decision could bring a broader inquiry into claims of British complicity in torture during the war against terror a step closer.
I LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS
Ex Guantanamo detainees to receive compensation
In Case You Missed It
Almost 16 former Guantanamo Bay detainees, who filed lawsuit against British security forces for torturing them, will receive millions of pounds in compensation. The former detainees have said that British security officers have been complicit in their torture and abuse before handing them to the US custody in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Ministers appear to have decided on the advice of the security services that they could not afford to risk the exposure of thousands of documents in open court on how Britain cooperated with the US on the so-called extraordinary rendition of terrorist suspects. The former detainees have filed complaints against government ministers and intelligence agencies, accusing them of colluding in torture and unlawful imprisonment in detention centers around the world, including Pakistan, Morocco and Guantanamo Bay. Those detainees - all either British citizens or residents - who have filed complaint against the government include Binyam Mohamed, Bishar Al Rawi, Jamil El Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes, Moazzam Begg and Martin Mubanga. They say that British officials violated international laws by knowing about the abuse and doing nothing to stop it. The government’s move to resolve the issue follows Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision in
July to launch an inquiry into Britain’s role in torture since the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the US. Human rights campaigners expressed frustration that details of the cases would not be revealed in court. Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, said: “It’s not very palatable but there is a price to be paid for lawlessness and torture in freedom’s name.” Two independent QCs have been acting as arbiters between the two sides. One allegation is that the British government knew the detainees were being illegally transferred to Guantanamo Bay but failed to prevent it. The payout is bound to be seen as a blow to the reputation of the former foreign secretaries David Miliband, Margaret Beckett and Jack Straw for allegedly eroding civil liberties. Last month US president George W. Bush claimed that controversial interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, had protected the UK from further terrorist attacks. Cameron rejected the comments. The British government had also been condemned in a highly critical UN report for breaching basic human rights and “trying to conceal illegal acts” in the fight against terrorism. The report sharply criticized Britain’s cooperation in the transfer of detainees to places where they were likely to be tortured as part of the US rendition program.
I December 2010
Road to Hope’ aid convoy enters Gaza
A humanitarian aid convoy carrying aid supplies for the people of the besieged Gaza Strip entered Gaza through Egypt’s Rafah border crossing. The convoy, known as “Road to Hope”, left London on October 10 and arrived in Gaza. It comprises of 30 vehicles and 101 humanitarian aid workers that include eight survivors of the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla in May that killed nine people onboard. The Egyptian negotiators first allowed three members of the convoy, including its leader, to enter the territory, Press TV correspondent, who was present at the Rafah border crossing, reported late Thursday. The convoy leader told Press TV that the aid fleet crossed France, Spain, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya on its way to Gaza. In Libya, he said, “we were supposed to take delivery of the ‘Al-Quds Five’ part of the convoy, but, unfortunately, it was not ready”. Moreover, Libya failed to grant permission for the transit of the aid convoy through Egypt by land, leaving it stranded for nine days at the Libya-Egypt border. “Then, because we were not able to go by road, we hired a Greek ship to go to El Arish port in Egypt”, he said. Greek commandos boarded the ship after the captain brought the group against their will to the port of Piraeus. “The captain ‘kidnapped’ the aid workers, accusing them of being illegal immigrants”, he said. The aid workers later said that they were treated like terror suspects by the Greeks. The convoy leader also said that the aid content included roughly USD 1 million worth of vehicles, medical aid, equipment for handicapped schools, educational material, blankets as well as toys for children. Speaking from London, convoy spokeswoman Leyla-Rubaina Hyda said that only 37 members of the convoy had been allowed to enter the Gaza Strip.
UK MPs criticise Israel for Gaza misery Passion Islam
I December 2010
LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS
In Case Y o Missed It u
A group of British parliamentarians have issued a report on the “World’s Largest Prison Camp”and criticised UK government after a visit to Gaza. Despite the claims made by Zionist officials, the representatives of the Britain-Palestine parliamentary group found many restrictions on Gaza’s fuel and construction material, according to an Iranian
news agency. MP Richard Graham, Labour peer Lord Warner, MP David Ward and MP Julian Huppert, asked political leaders to see the misery and suffering themselves. “Only three foreign Ministers - from Ireland, Germany and Sweden - have visited Gaza since the start of the siege. No member of the US
State Department has set foot in the territory since 2004”, they said. “Israel should not be allowed to obstruct such visits and if necessary ministers should enter the territory using the Rafah border crossing with Egypt,” they also warned. Around 20 percent of the Ministry of Health budget in Gaza is given to Israelis as bills. The MPs’ report also stated that only 25 people per day can pass through the Erez border, which is the only transit way to Israel and the West Bank. This is while it is possible to process 50,000 applications per day. Britain was also criticised by its MPs for their resistance in talking with Hamas since winning elections, which was fairly observed by international observers. “It is irrational that governments, including the UK’s, engage with Israeli leaders irrespective of their actions or policies, and yet refuse to speak publicly with members of Hamas,” the MPs said.
Border Agency accused of discriminating against Pakistanis
Britain’s Border Agency might be discriminating against Pakistanis who apply for British visas, according to an independent review of British border controls. John Vine was appointed by the British government as the independent chief inspector of the United Kingdom Border Agency. “Pakistani applicants for visas for entry to Britain are required to show a higher evidential standard than applicants for the
same visas from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Bahrain,” said Vine. Vine says the border agency might be discriminating against Pakistanis, violating Britain’s race relations act. If Britain wishes to put those from Pakistan through tougher screening, Vine says, it is a decision that must be made by politicians. “If the government decides that there is a higher risk posed by nationals from one country,
then it can give the authorization to the border agency to impose tougher sanctions,” he said. “And if that is the case, then that should be done.” A Britain-based human-rights lawyer from Pakistan, Amjad Malik, says entering Britain has been increasingly difficult for Pakistanis since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. “The war on terror has created a lot of suspicions and problems so that
people cannot, for the wrong reasons, enter West and try to create any terrorism offenses,” said Malik. Malik says visa applications for Britain take longer to process for people in Pakistan than elsewhere in the region because they are handed by a regional operation in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan is the fourth largest source of visa applications to Britain, with 147,000 applications being processed last year.
‘Israel feeds global terrorism’ UK Peer
I LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS
A long-time politician with the UK Liberal Democratic party says the Israeli regime is feeding global terrorism by mistreating Palestinians. Jenny Tonge, the Liberal Democrat peer, told the House
of Lords that ill-treatment of Palestinians by Israelis is the rootcause of terrorism worldwide, according to news agencies. Tonge said Israel’s behavior towards Palestinians goes
Amnesty International has criticised the British government for continuing to forcefully deport failed Iraqi asylum seekers in defiance of an effective freeze called by the European Court of Human Rights. “The UK should listen to the European Court of Human Rights and, like the Dutch authorities, suspend removals to Baghdad until it’s safe,” said Amnesty’s UK refugee program director Jan Shaw. “The authorities are, of course, entitled to remove people if they don’t need international protection and it’s safe to return them. But Iraq is still incredibly dangerous,” Shaw said. Last month, the Strasbourgbased court wrote to inform the UK government that it would apply ‘Rule 39’ to any Iraqi challenging their deportation, effectively ruling
that appellants will automatically be allowed to remain in the UK, at least temporarily. Shaw accused the UK government of being devious in continuing deportations when knowing fully well that anyone applying to the European Court under ‘Rule 39’ will have their removal suspended. “Effectively they are just trying to catch out anyone who doesn’t know about this ruling, or who doesn’t have decent legal representation. Sadly this still includes far too many people,” she said. Amnesty said it remained “opposed to all forcible removals to central and southern Iraq until the security situation improves considerably.” passionislam.com
I December 2010
unchecked possibly because of “Holocaust guilt” or “the power of the pro-Israel lobby” in the UK and US. The House of Lords was considering the UK’s Strategic Defense and Security Review which stipulates how the British government will deliver the priorities identified in its national security strategy. Tonge addressed the question of world conflict prevention, saying “It is a disgrace to us all that problems such as Kashmir and Palestine are still alienating Muslims all over the world.” “The treatment of Palestinians by Israel is held up as an example of how the West treats Muslims,” she said, “and is at the root cause of terrorism worldwide.” She also said that world powers might need Israel as an “aircraft carrier” in the Middle East, from which they could launch attacks on countries such as Iran.
Tube driver Amnesty criticises the UK over Iraqi deportations cleared of jihad charge
A Tube driver was cleared of planning to travel to Afghanistan or Pakistan with the intention of taking part in a “violent jihad”, a Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said. Amir Ali, who drove trains on the London Underground was alleged to have purchased a plane ticket to travel to Islamabad and written a farewell letter to his family. When police searched the 28-year-old’s home they found pictures of him posing with weapons, prosecutor Duncan Penny said. But Ali, of Ilford, Essex, was found not guilty of preparation for acts of terrorism between April 2006 and March last year.
I December 2010
Call for cut in migrant numbers
The number of migrant workers coming to Britain from outside the EU should be cut by between 13% and 25% next year, the independent body asked to recommend a level for the Government’s proposed immigration cap said. Professor David Metcalf, of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), said the number of visas issued under what is called tier one and tier two needs to be between 37,400 and 43,700 for 2011/12. This would represent a cut of between 6,300 and 12,600 visas compared with 2009, he said. Tier two visas, for skilled workers with job offers, should be prioritised over tier one visas for highly skilled workers without a job offer, the Migration Advisory Committee (Mac) said. Both tiers should be more selective and the Government should raise the threshold for earnings and qualifications, the Mac added. Action should also be taken to give UK workers the skills to ensure that businesses can still recruit the people they need, it added. Immigration minister Damian Green wants to bring net migration down from last year’s 196, 000 to “tens of thousands” by 2015, but businesses and education chiefs raised concerns that the cap could make it harder to attract elite scientists and world-class researchers to the UK.
Prof Metcalf warned: “It is not possible to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands by limiting work-related migration alone. “The committee assumes that work-related migration takes 20% of the total cut - its fair share - which implies that family and student migration must take the other 80%.” The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee found the proposed cap could affect fewer than one in 100 migrants entering the UK. In its report earlier this month, the committee said the Government would also need to look at other routes, including international students and those joining family members in the UK, if it is to fulfil its pledge. Migrants may even have to be stripped of their right to settle in the UK in the long term to bring the numbers down, the MPs said. Home Secretary Theresa May said settling in Britain should be a cherished right and not an “automatic add-on” for migrants who enter the country for study or work. Outlining plans to tighten settlement rights, Mrs May said the consequences of “such unchecked permanent migration through the back door were clear”. S killed migrants coming to the UK with specific job offers will be given priority over highly-skilled workers without a job to go to, she said.
LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS
Right-wing protestor’s fuel Islamic extremism says Police
Demonstrations by far right activists fuel Islamic extremism, police said. The actions of groups such as the English Defence League (EDL) can provide opportunities for recruiting Muslims to radicalism, according to counter-terrorism officers. Since the EDL emerged last summer it has held demonstrations in towns and cities against Islamic extremism. But the West Midlands counterterrorism unit said there is evidence that violence or damage towards Muslim property associated with EDL demos encourages extremist retaliation afterwards. Detective Superintendent John Larkin told BBC Radio: “They look for the hook to pull people through and when the EDL have been and done what they’ve done, perversely they leave that behind.” Another officer said extreme sections of the EDL attacking Muslims provide “constituent parts” for those who would radicalise vulnerable people to encourage them to “go through the gateway towards being radicalised”. Matthew Feldman, lecturer in 20th century history at Northampton University, told the programme the EDL grew out of a “tit-for-tat kind of extremism and radicalisation”. He added: “We see a very exacting example of just how symbiotic some of these types of radicalisation can be.” Policing minister Nick Herbert told the BBC: “Violence and intimidation are highly unacceptable, wherever it comes from. “You can’t tackle extremism by being extremist yourself. You don’t prevent hatred by being hateful yourself.”
Israeli Air Occupation Forces Strike Gaza Strip
I WORLD NEWS
I December 2010
Syria warns Israel it will not win war
Palestinian sources reported that the Air Force bombed two targets in the Gaza Strip, adding that six people were injured in the strikes – including two women and a child. An unoccupied building in Deir alBalah collapsed upon being hit, and two other strikes took place in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis. For its part, Israeli occupation sources said in a statement that the strike “was carried out in response to the rockets and mortar shells fired at the western Negev over the past day,” adding that the army was holding Hamas responsible for the attacks. Earlier, before the Israli strike, four bombs were launched into the
occupied territories along with three mortar shells. Three of the shells hit open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council, and the other four, fired an hour later, landed in open areas in the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council. There were no reports of injuries or damage. The Popular Resistance Committee’s Salah al-Din Brigades claimed responsibility for the fire, saying it was a response to recent assassinations in Gaza. Abu Mujahed, a PRC spokesman in Gaza, said that “the firing by Palestinian organizations from the Gaza Strip is part of our right to respond to the Israeli crimes and the recent assassinations.
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There will be neither winners nor losers if a regional war breaks out, the Syrian Foreign Minister has warned. Deadlock in the face of peace prospects may lead to war, and this possibility “has always existed in our region because Israel explicitly dodges the peace terms,” said Walid Al-Muallem, in remarks posted on Sham Press news network . A new war in the region will not end with a a victor and vanquished, “for all will be losers because military technology now inflicts massive destruction even on the part of the party that possesses mightier military power. “It is evident that the nations of our region cannot tolerate losses of such extent ... and this issue is quite crucial for drawing the picture of the future balance (of power).” Syria, that had engaged in at least three wars and military confrontations with Israel in the past, possessed an arsenal of missiles that constituted the core of its military might. Israel, for its part, depends heavily on its advanced air force in maintaining regional military supremacy -- with the exclusion of its nuclear power. Elaborating, the minister expressed his belief that the Palestinians should achieve internal conciliation before getting involved in peace negotiations with Israel, reiterated Syria’s desire for peace and accused it of lacking such intentions.
US to announce new airport security deal with pilots
I December 2010
The Obama administration could soon announce new airport security screening measures for airline pilots, who have complained about full-body scans and invasive pat downs, a top U.S. official said. Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole acknowledged in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” that scans and pat downs intended to find explosives and other weapons would offer little protection against any pilot determined to bring down an aircraft. “We’ve had a number of very good discussions with pilots and hope to be announcing something very soon in terms of a good way forward for the pilots for that very reason, using a risk-based intelligence driven process,” he said. Pilots’ unions, which have raised health concerns about scans and objected to rigorous pat downs, say their members already have gone
through security background checks, making further screening duplicative. U.S. officials contend that radiation from the scans pose no health risk. Pistole gave no indication that screening rules for passengers are about to change, despite calls for alternative measures including Israeli-style one-on-one interviews
with travelers. “That’s a good topic of public debate. Obviously we use layers of security and hopefully we’re informed by the intelligence,” he told ABC. Travelers and U.S. lawmakers have objected to scans that produce revealing body images and pat down procedures that are highly personal.
Turkey vows reaction to Israel threat
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara is prepared to react to any potential Israeli offensive against Lebanon. Erdogan described Israel as full of “uncertainties” and said, “It is not definite what it will do.” He further warned of the prospects of such hostilities, Turkey’s state Anatolia news agency (AA) reported. “Does (Israel) think it can enter Lebanon with the most modern aircraft and tanks to kill women and children, and destroy schools and hospitals, and then expect us to
remain silent?” AFP quoted him as saying in the Lebanese capital of Beirut. The Turkish leader was on a two-day visit to the country aimed at strengthening the bilateral ties and voicing support for Beirut in the face of a volatile international situation. “We will not be silent and we will support justice by all means available to us.” Ankara has opposed the last round of Tel Aviv’s offensives on southern Lebanon, which killed around 1,200 Lebanese, most of
them civilians in 2006. “In the event of war, the citizens of Israel will also be losers,” the Turkish leader warned. The Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah, which defeated Israel in the 33-day hostilities and headed off Tel Aviv’s offensives on the country in 2000, has vowed to respond with determination to any future Israellaunched warfare. The resistance movement has publicly announced that it has the capability to hit targets deep inside Israel and to strike Israeli Navy vessels even before they reach the Lebanese waters. The Middle East is passing through a sensitive period, Erdogan said, and called for “unity and integrity” among regional countries. He insisted that Israel “must realize that if there is peace and security in the region, it will also benefit.”
I WORLD NEWS
I December 2010
Berlin’s largest mosque targeted again in arson attack
German official seeks tight security at Muslim areas
A fire at Berlin’s largest mosque was probably arson, police said. The fire, which was spotted by an employee of the Sehitlik mosque, damaged the facade and one window. Nobody was injured. Police said their investigations were focusing on an unexploded bottle of propane gas, found by the building. They think the bottle was transported to the mosque in a black
rucksack, on a pushcart. The employee who spotted the fire was able to extinguish it. The Sehitlik mosque is in the inner-city Berlin district of Neukoelln where many Muslims live. It has room for 1,500 people. German Muslim groups have time and again voiced deep concern over the growing anti-Muslim wave in their country.
Website publishes 200 names of Israeli war criminals
A new anti-Israel website has published personal information on hundreds of Zionist officers and
troops who took part in 22-day Gaza war (Cast Lead Operation in Gaza in early 2009) calling them as war criminals. The website called on internet users to distribute the personal information on the troops throughout the web and said that the troops held key positions as part of a murderous mechanism. The list included troops’ names, pictures, personal addresses, dates of birth, and their role in the army.
The Interior Minister of Lower Saxony said he would propose, at a meeting of interior ministers of local states in Hamburg reinforcing security precautions in predominantly-Muslim districts. Owe Schurmann, in remarks published by the German daily, “Neueosnabrucker Zeitung,” said this measure, along with other precautions such as banning Muslim fundamentalists from using computers or mobile telephones, was part of a national program to protect the nation against terrorist attacks. The plan is also designed to prevent Muslim hardliners from venturing into mosques and search computers possessed by suspected terrorists. Elaborating, the official said the conferees would also take measures for safe transfer of nuclear waste, stressing that the federal authorities should bear the responsibility of covering costs of the transfer of such hazardous materials.
Afghanistan war cannot be won German government The West cannot win the war in Afghanistan, Germany’s special envoy on Afghanistan, Michael Steiner said. Talking to the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, Steiner stressed, ‘Everyone knows there can be no military solution in Afghanistan.’ He added although the West had in the past ‘succumbed to the illusion’ that it could win the war, it was now pursuing a ‘realistic goal of creating sufficient stability’ in Afghanistan.
US eyes more drone attacks in Pakistan Passion Islam
I December 2010
The United States has reportedly put pressure on Pakistani authorities to allow Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to expand its non-UNsanctioned drone attacks inside Pakistan. The Washington Post newspaper said in a report that the US wants to carry out drone attacks in areas surrounding the Pakistani city of Quetta. Citing unnamed US and Pakistani officials, the report said Islamabad rejected the appeal, saying the move would be an affront to Pakistani sovereignty. “You expect us to open the skies for anything that you can fly,” a highranking Pakistani intelligence official told the daily on the condition of anonymity. “In which country can you do that?” The report, however, said that Pakistan has agreed to more modest measures, including an expanded CIA presence in Quetta. It also added that the US is seeking to increase its unauthorized drone attacks in the Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt. The nonUN-sanctioned strikes, which have killed hundreds of people, have accelerated in recent months. The report says that the drones
operated by CIA have carried out more than 101 attacks in the tribal region so far this year. “If they understand our side, they know the patience is running out,” the newspaper quoted a senior NATO military official as saying. The unauthorized aerial attacks, initiated by former US President George W. Bush, have escalated under President Barack Obama. Washington claims the airstrikes target militants. However, according to statistics, the attacks have claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians in
Pakistan since 2008. Islamabad has repeatedly condemned the strikes, saying they violate the country’s sovereignty. A non-UN-sanctioned US drone attack killed at least four people in the troubled northwestern Pakistan, security officials say. The aircraft fired two missiles at a vehicle in North Waziristan. The vehicle was completely destroyed in the attack. Also at least 20 people lost their lives in a similar attack in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt last month.
Germany says Namibia package was security test dummy A suspect package intercepted at a Namibian airport was a dummy used to test security, German officials said Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said officials had established that it was a so-called “real-test suitcase”. He said no explosives were discovered in the case, which was found near luggage about to be loaded on to a Munichbound flight.
It is not known who left the case at Windhoek airport, triggering an international alarm. But Namibian police said they would deal “severely” with anyone involved. “The Namibian police force wants to send out a stern warning to people with ill intentions that it will not allow Namibia to be used as a testing ground by anyone,” The force’s inspector
general, Sebastian Haitota Ndeitunga, said in a statement. He added that neither the US, German nor Nambian governments were aware of the package. The incident came just hours after Germany had raised its terrorist threat level, saying it had received a tip-off from an unspecified country about a suspected attack. “The outcome is that
the luggage turned out to be a so-called realtest suitcase made by a company in the United States. “This company is a manufacturer of alarm and detection systems and these real-test suitcases are built to test security measures,” he said. Mr de Maiziere did not say who had left the suitcase, but said German agents were still involved in the investigation.
I WORLD NEWS
I December 2010
Israel orders demolition of 88 homes in East Jerusalem
The Israeli Attorney Yehuda Weinstein ordered the Jewishdominated Jerusalem Municipality to raze dozens of homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, Palestinian officials said. Ahmed Al-Rowaidhi, the chief of Al-Quds Unit at the Palestinian presidency, said that Weinstein gave the municipality to demolish around 88 homes in Al-Bustan area in Silwan under the pretext that they were illegally built. According to the official, “Israeli will evict 1500 Palestinians from
Al-Bustan to make room for a tourist center in the area.” The center, which is called Al-Bustan in Arabic and Gan Hamelekh (King’s Garden) in Hebrew, is to include restaurants and boutique hotels. He added that Weinstein’s order may affect “20,000 homes in East Jerusalem which Israel says were illegally built.” He warned that Israel will displace around 100,000 Palestinians from East Jerusalem if it implements its demolition threats “to change the demographic status in the city to Judaize it.”
Rowaidhi added that the “owners cannot obtain the licenses due to the lack of building plans in the threatened areas and the laws and regulation imposed on Jerusalemites by the municipality.” Abu-Diab added that the Israeli attorney general also ordered the municipality to seal of immediately a controversial Jewish residence in Silwan. He added that the decision against Beit Yonatan building where eight Jewish occupier families live “is to avoid international criticism and to indicate that Israel is implementing the law and not targeting only one party.” The two Palestinian officials urged the Arab leaders to “to make efficient decisions to face the wild Israeli campaign it carries out against Jerusalem and other Palestinian holy sites.” The policy of house demolitions and settlement building in East Jerusalem are being used by the Israeli authorities and Jerusalem municipality to increase Jewish presence and manipulate the composition of the population in order to gain more control over the city prior to final status talks with the Palestinian Authority.
Makkah Metro carries 66,000 pilgrims on first day The Makkah Metro, formally known as the Mashair Railway, handled an estimated 66,000 pilgrims on its first full day of operations, according to railway sources. They added that trains had been transporting Hajis from the early morning until 11 am the same day. There are almost 60 Malaysians involved in the running of operations as well as scores of Chinese, Pakistani and Indian technicians. According to a Malaysian manager at one of the Arafat stations, the trains made 22 trips in total on its first full day of operations. It is understood that although the service is supposed to be fully automated, drivers were used to
operate the trains this year. The aim is to ensure that the metro is operating autonomously after two years once all improvements are implemented and it is made open to all pilgrims. At the moment, only domestic and Gulf pilgrims are able to use the service, which is operating at a third of its capacity. The double-track 20 km Mashair Railway runs on elevated tracks beginning from the fourth level of the Jamrat Bridge above King Abdulaziz Road in Mina through Muzdalifah and ends at Station No. 3 in Arafat. The service has nine elevated stations, three each in Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat. The length of
each station is 300 meters and each platform can hold 3,000 pilgrims Costing SR6.5 billion, the new railway will have the capacity to transport 72,000 pilgrims an hour. This is the second largest project to be implemented by the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs after the SR4.5 billion high-tech Jamrat Bridge project in Mina. It will also be linked to the Haramain Railway that will connect Makkah to Madinah and Jeddah. The railway will have 20 trains in its next stage, each with 12 carriages and each carriage holding 250 passengers. About 20 % of passengers will be seated while the rest are standing. Trains can reach speeds of upto 120km per hour.
I December 2010
NATO agrees on exit strategy from Afghanistan
At the NATO Summit in the Portuguese capital, NATO leaders and 20 other nations contributing troops to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, agreed on an exit strategy From Afghanistan by 2014. The 28 NATO Allies also signed a long-term partnership with
Afghanistan to help the country’s developmet after the end of combat mission in 2014 NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen Rasmussen told a joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon, after the
Court acquits detainee of all but one charge Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a 36-yearold Tanzanian who was at one time detained at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was acquitted by a New York jury of all but one of 285 charges stemming from his alleged participation in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in East Africa. The single federal charge on which Ghailani was convicted, destruction of US property, carries a minimum prison sentence of 20 years. Ghailani’s defense attorney, Peter Quijano, says his client intends to appeal the sentence. During the trial, prosecutors claimed Ghailani had helped AlQaeda operatives purchase a vehicle and explosive chemicals used in the nearly simultaneous Aug. 7, 1998
suicide attacks in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. Later, federal officials charged, Ghailani fled to Pakistan and then Afghanistan, where he served as a cook for Al-Queda leader Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 1991 skyjackings that resulted in the destruction of the New York World Trade Center. Ghailani was captured in Pakistan in 2004, and held and interrogated in an undisclosed overseas detention facility managed by the US Central Intelligence Agency. In 2006, he was transferred to Guantanamo. Last year, Ghailani was transferred to New York prepare for trial. Legal observers said the Ghailani verdict affirms that the American system of justice, sometimes referred
meeting. “Starting early next year, Afghan forces will begin taking the lead for security operations. This will begin in certain districts and provinces, and based on conditions, will gradually expand throughout the country. The aim is for the Afghan forces to be in the lead country-wide by the end of 2014,” said the NATO chief. The Alliance has some 130,000 troops under its ISAF mission in Afghanistan. The NATO chief said the number of Afghan troops and policemen will reach to 300,000 by the end of 2011 and are improving in quality. A joint declaration by NATO and Afghanistan said “the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, after seven years of joint endeavour and sacrifice, believe the time is right to reaffirm their long-term partnership.” “Afghanistan is increasingly capable of exercising its leadership across the interlinked domains of governance, development and security.” to as “the great leveler of society,” is capable of objectively determining guilt or innocence, even in a case as sensitive and politically charged as one involving terrorism. US District Judge Lewis Kaplan, while dismissing the jury which deliberated Ghailani’s fate for seven days, commended the anonymous 12 men and women for showing that justice “can be rendered calmly, deliberately and fairly by ordinary people – people who are not beholden to any government, even this one.” The outcome of Ghailani trial also underscored some of the human rights challenges facing prosecutors as they prepare similar terrorism cases. Ghailani, like many detainees still housed at Guantanamo, was interrogated while being subjected to procedures widely denounced as torture. During Ghailani’s trial, Judge Kaplan barred evidence obtained during these interrogations, much of it viewed as pivotal to the prosecution’s case against Ghailani.
I WORLD NEWS
I December 2010
No criminal charges for destroying interrogation tapes
No criminal charges will be filed against U.S. intelligence officials accused of destroying videotapes showing CIA interrogations of terror suspects, the Justice Department announced. In a statement, the department said that after an “exhaustive investigation” an official heading the probe decided that he “will not pursue criminal charges” for the destruction of the interrogation tapes filmed at secret prisons. CIA Director Leon Panetta said “we welcome the decision.” He said his agency had been cooperating with the probe from the beginning and would continue to do so, “but we are pleased that the decision was made not to charge any Agency officers for the destruction of the tapes.” In January 2008, then-U.S. attorney general Michael Mukasey opened the inquiry after the revelation that the CIA three years earlier had destroyed tapes showing harsh interrogations of two al-Qaeda suspects. Federal prosecutor John Durham was tapped to lead the FBI probe in possible crimes after the CIA acknowledged that it had destroyed 92 interrogation videos. The probe was launched to examine whether intelligence officials broke the law by destroying the
videos of the interrogations, which were conducted in the months following the Sept.11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. At the time the probe was launched, then-CIA director Michael Hayden said the tapes had been destroyed to protect the identities of intelligence agents tasked with interrogating the terror suspects. But some U.S. lawmakers and international rights campaigners dismissed the explanation, charging that the destruction of the tapes was meant to cover up alleged detainee torture.
Islamic heritage library launched in Abu Dhabi
U.S. news reports have said that the videos showed 2002 interrogations of two terror suspects: alleged al-Qaeda financier Abu Zubaida, and Abd al-Rahim alNashiri, a Saudi suspected of involvement in the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. U.S. officials said they would not rule out possible criminal charges into a parallel probe ordered last year by Attorney General Eric Holder into methods used by interrogators while questioning the detainees. “That investigation continues,” Durham’s spokesman Tom Carson told AFP.
The Islamic Heritage Library was launched on November 7, at Sheikh Zayid Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. According to Al-Emirat Al-Yawm website, the library contains rare copies of the holy Quran some dating back to 500 years ago. Head of the mosque’s administrative council Ali bin Tamim said some of the Quran copies available in the library have been printed in Europe between 1537 and 1857. There is a collection of over 3000 rare Islamic books at the library including precious manuscripts, he said, adding that the books are in 12 different languages. The library is on the third floor of the mosque’s northern Minaret, Mr. Tamimi added, noting that this is the first time in history of mosques that a library is launched in a Minaret.
Istanbul declared Europe sports capital Passion Islam
SPORT I 21
I December 2010
This ancient city was declared the 2012 European Capital of Sports according to the daily “Zaman.” The newspaper said the announcement was made by the European Capitals of Sport Association (ACES) President Gian Francesco Lupatelli during a news conference at the city air facility, Ataturk Airport. Lupatelli and an ACES committee surveyed various locations in the city, before unanimously deciding on Istanbul as the 2012 capital. For his part, State Minister and Chief EU accession negotiator Egemen Bagis said this decision showed Turkey became “a very important actor of Europe.” This is the first time a Turkish city has been declared a European sports capital. It earned the title after competition with the Belgian city of Antwerp and the British city of Cardiff.
Zidane appointed as a advisor for Real Madrid
first team, with whom he will keep in frequent contact,” said the statement. The French national would participate in Champions League events and functions. He will also travel with the team on a regular basis for said competition and will participate in the pre-match gatherings, training sessions and meetings with the head coach, noted the statement. Real Madrid is leading La Liga with 26 points and it is followed by Barcelona with 25 points.
GET IN CONTACT WITH US Real Madrid announced that they have appointment of Zinedine Zidane as presidential advisor for the football first team. The former Real Madrid player was appointed to help optimize first
team working conditions, the club said in a statement on its website. “Zidane will be readily available to the president (Florentino Perez) and coach (Jose Mourinho) for all matters concerning Real Madrid’s
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I SPECIAL FEATURE
I December 2010
The beginning of the Islamic New Year Muharram is the month with which the Muslims begin their lunar Hijrah Calendar. It is one of the four sanctified months about which the Holy Quran says, “The number of the months according to Allah is twelve (mentioned) in the Book of Allah on the day He created heavens and the earth. Among these (twelve months) there are four sanctified.” These four months, according to the authentic traditions, are DhulQa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. All the commentators of the Holy Quran are unanimous on this point, because the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, in his sermon on the occasion of his last Hajj, declared: “One year consists of twelve months, of which four are sanctified months, three of them are in sequence; Dhul-Qa’dah, DhulHijjah, Muharram, and the fourth is Rajab.” The specific mention of these four months does not mean that any other month has no sanctity, because the month of Ramadan is admittedly the most sanctified month in the year. But these four months were specifically termed as sanctified months for the simple reason that their sanctity was accepted even by the pagans of Makkah. In fact, every month, out of the twelve, is originally equal to the other, and there is no inherent sanctity that may be attributed to one of them in comparison to the other months. When Allah Almighty chooses
a particular time for His special blessings, the same acquires sanctity out of His grace. Thus, the sanctity of these four months was recognized right from the days of Sayyidina Ibrahim, alayhi salam. Since the Pagans of Makkah attributed themselves to Sayyidina Ibrahim, alayhi salam, they observed the sanctity of these four months and despite their frequent tribal battles, they held it unlawful to fight in these months. In the Shariah of our Noble Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, the sanctity of these months was upheld and the Holy Quran referred to them as the “sanctified months”. Muharram has certain other characteristics special to it, which are specified below. Fasting During the Month The Noble Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said: ‘The best fasts after the fasts of Ramadan are those of the month of Muharram.” Although the fasts of the month of Muharram are not obligatory, yet one who fasts in these days out of his own will is entitled to a great reward by Allah Almighty. The Hadith cited above signifies that the fasts of the month of Muharram are most rewardable ones among the Nafl or voluntary fasts. The Hadith does not mean that the award promised for fasts of Muharram can be achieved only by
fasting for the whole month. On the contrary, each fast during this month has merit. Therefore, one should avail of this opportunity as much as he can. The Day of ‘Ashurah’ Although Muharram is a sanctified month as a whole, yet, the 10th day of Muharram is the most sacred among all its days. The day is named ‘Ashurah’. According to the Holy Companion Ibn ‘Abbas, Radi-Allahu anhu. The Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, when migrated to Madinah, found that the Jews of Madinah used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram. They said that it was the day on which the Holy Prophet Musa (Moses), alayhis salam, and his followers crossed the Red Sea miraculously and the Pharaoh was drowned in its waters. On hearing this from the Jews, the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said, “We are more closely rotated to Musa, alayhi salam, than you,” and directed the Muslims to fast on the day of ‘Ashura’. (Abu Dawood) It is also reported in a number of authentic traditions that in the beginning, fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’ was obligatory for the Muslims. It was later that the fasts of Ramadan were made obligatory and the fast on the day of ‘Ashura’ was made optional. Sayyidina ‘Aisha, Radi-Allahu anha, has said: “When the Holy Prophet, SallAllahu alayhi wa sallam, came to
Passion Islam I December 2010 Madinah, he fasted on the day of ‘Ashura’ and directed the people to fast. But when the fasts of Ramadan were made obligatory, the obligation of fasting was confined to Ramadan and the obligatory nature of the fast of ‘Ashura’ was abandoned. Whoever so desires should fast on it and any other who so likes can avoid fasting on it.” (Sunan Abu Dawud) However, the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast on the day of ‘Ashura’ even after the fasting in Ramadan was made obligatory. Abdullah ibn Musa, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, preferred the fast of ‘Ashura’ on the fasts of other days and preferred the fasts of Ramadhaan on the fast of ‘Ashura’. (Bukhari and Muslim) In short, it is established through a number of authentic ahadith that fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’ is Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, SallAllahu alayhi wa sallam, and makes one entitled to a great reward. According to another Hadith, it is more advisable that the fast of ‘Ashura’ should either be preceded or followed by another fast. It means that one should fast two days: the 9th and 10th of Muharram or the 10th and 11th. The reason of this additional fast as mentioned by the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is that the Jews used to fast on the day of’Ashura alone, and the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, wanted to distinguish the Muslim way of fasting from that of Jews. Therefore, he advised the Muslims to add another fast to that of ‘Ashura’. Some traditions signify another feature of the day of ‘Ashura. According to these traditions, one should be more generous to his family by providing more food to them on this day as compared to other days. These traditions are not very authentic according to the science of Hadith. Yet, some Scholars like Baihaqi and Ibn Hibban have accepted them as reliable. What is mentioned above is all that is supported through authentic sources about Ashura.
Misconceptions and Baseless Traditions However, there are some legends
and misconceptions with regard to ‘Ashura’ that have managed to find their way into the minds of the ignorant, but have no support of authentic Islamic sources, some very common of them are these: This is the day on which Adam, alayhi salam, was created. This is the day when Ibrahim, alayhi salam, was born. This is the day when Allah accepted the repentance of Sayyidina Adam, alayhi salam. This is the day when Qiyaamah (doomsday) will take place. Whoever takes bath on the day of ‘Ashura’ will never get ill. All these and other similar whims and fancies are totally baseless and the traditions referred to in this respect are not worthy of any credit. Some people take it as Sunnah to prepare a particular type of meal on the day of ‘Ashura’. This practice, too, has no basis in the authentic Islamic sources. Some other people attribute the sanctity of ‘Ashura’ to the martyrdom of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, during his battle with the Syrian army. No doubt, the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, is one of the most tragic episodes of our history. Yet, the sanctity of ‘Ashura’ cannot be ascribed to this event for the simple reason that the sanctity of ‘Ashura’ was established during the days of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, much earlier than the birth of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu. On the contrary, it is one of the merits of Sayyidna Husain, RadiAllahu anhu, that his martyrdom took place on the day of ‘Ashura’. Another misconception about the month of Muharram is that it is an evil or unlucky month, for Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, was killed in it. It is for this misconception that people avoid holding marriage ceremonies in the month of Muharram. This is again a baseless concept, which is contrary to the express teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. If the death of an eminent person on a particular day renders that day unlucky for all times to come, one can hardly find a day of the year free from this bad luck because every day is associated with the demise of some eminent person. The Holy Quran and the Sunnah of
SPECIAL FEATURE I 23 the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, have liberated us from such superstitious beliefs.
Lamentations and Mourning Another wrong practice related to this month is to hold the lamentation and mouming ceremonies in the memory of martyrdom of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu. As mentioned earlier, the event of Karbala is one of the most tragic events of our history, but the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has forbidden us from holding the mourning ceremonies on the death of any person. The people of jahiliyyah (ignorance) used to mourn over their deceased through loud lamentations, by tearing their clothes and by beating their cheeks and chests. The Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, stopped the Muslims from doing all this and directed them to observe patience by saying “Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon”. A number of authentic Ahaadith are available on the subject. To quote only one of them: “He is not from our group who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of jahiliyyah.” (Sahih Bukhari) All the authentic jurists are unanimous on the point that the mourning of this type is impermissible. Even Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, shortly before his demise, had advised his beloved sister Sayyidah Zainab, Radi-Allahu anha, at not to mourn over his death in this manner. He said, “My dear sister! I swear upon you that in case I die you shall not tear your clothes, nor scratch your face, nor curse anyone for me or pray for your death.” (Al-Kamil, ibn al-Athir vol. 4 pg. 24) It is evident from this advice of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, that this type of mourning is condemned even by the blessed person for the memory of whom these mourning ceremonies are held. Every Muslim should avoid this practice and abide by the teachings of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and his beloved grand child Sayyidna Husain, RadiAllahu anhu. Muharram will be on the 7th December 2010 By Mufti Taqi Usmani
I SPECIAL FEATURE
I December 2010
Imitating the Disbeliever “Whoever imitates a group then he is from amongst them”
From an early age, it can be observed how much imitating has an effect on children. The child hears it’s mother tongue being spoken in the home and then realises that certain words spoken by the child makes the parents respond in different ways. This imitation is good as it enables the young sibling to interact with fellow humans. A child being brought up in an islamic environment, in a muslim home will also learn to live like a good muslim if it imitates the good actions it sees its parents doing. The boy will see his father dressed in the Sunnah clothing of the holy Prophet Peace and Blessings be upon Him for example with the trousers above the ankles and a turban on his head. The parent will purchase clothing of that sort so that the boy adopts this style. The little girl will see her mother wearing clothes that do not reveal her bodily assets, she will also notice that her mother wears the hijaab whenever the need arises to go outdoors and when certain male persons are present. Five times salah will be performed and therefore the boy will become habitual of going to the mosque to perform salaah with a congregation whilst the girl will punctually perform it at home. the will adopt the method of greeting each other in an
islamic manner by use of the words “assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullah”. They will learn to restrain from food and water during the holy month of Ramadan in their attempts to imitate their elders this will slowly train their bodies to last the month by fasting. They will learn Islamic knowledge, therefore being able to differentiate between right and wrong, according to shareeah, between halaal and haraam etc. They will learn their obligations towards their Lord and how to recognize Him and worship Him resulting in growing up to be good muslims, acting in accordance to the commands of Allah, through his book the Holy Quraan, and imitating the footsteps of the Holy prophet Muhammad Peace and Blessings be upon Him. Coincidence So why is it that this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore? Why is it that Muslims are growing up to live like non-muslims? Why is it that we are sailing away from an islamic way of life, adopting the lifestyle of modernity? It is because of wrong imitation. Imitating the right things leads to a successful life on the earth and in the afterlife whilst imitation of the wrong things leads one right off the
yellow brick road! Take the example of a child in nursery where from such an early age, he is taught to eat with the wrong hand by holding a fork in the left hand which is against the teachings of Islam. The love stories that are shown on T.V. are acted out in the playgrounds of the mixed schools causing intermingling of the opposite sexes. The picking of boyfriends and girlfriends and the acts that follow eventually lead to unlawful intercourse. Nowadays T.V. programmes and cartoons express negative ideas, such as disobedience, disrespect towards parents and not following the law, cartoons which we call “harmless” have also lead children into battering each other to death. Definition The word imitate means to ‘take as model’, ‘to mimic/copy’. It also means ‘to take example of’. Commentary of Hadeeth The aforementioned hadeeth “Whoever imitates a group, then he is from amongst them” has been derived from two famous books of ahadeeth ‘Mishkaat’ and ‘Abu Dawood’ and is narrated by Hadhrat Ibn Umar (R.A). Whoever imitates a group (be they disbelievers or
Passion Islam I December 2010 transgressors or even pious people), in acts of good or bad they will be regarded from amongst according to the sin or reward. By imitation here it is meant imitation in general, for example manners, clothing, figure and appearance, lifestyle etc. are included. That is why for those people who follow the trends of today and for example wear skin tight clothing, items of clothing which are unnecessarily torn in areas as part of its design, men who wear gold and silk, shave their beards or do not keep it according to the Sunnah and make fancy designs out of it, this hadeeth warns them of the severe punishment they are to expect if the they were to be raised with the disbelievers due to their acts of resemblance. Taking a look at the teachings and acts of the Holy Prophet Peace and Blessings be upon Him and of the Companions shows that even in matters that were optional and matters that were given preference to by Islam, the Holy Prophet Peace and Blessings be upon Him told us to refrain resembling them. Take for example the 10th date of the Islamic month of Muharram when it is preferable to keep fast. Due to the Jews also keeping fast on that same date, the Holy Prophet Peace and Blessings be upon Him ordered the Muslims to keep an extra day of fast, either on the 9th and 10th or the 10th and 11th if they had decided to keep fast on that day so as to not imitate the Jews. This just goes to show that even on small matters resemblance of the non-muslims is unacceptable. This message can also be seen in another hadeeth of the Holy Prophet Peace and Blessings be upon Him in which he orders us to oppose the polytheist by lengthening our beards and clipping our moustaches. This again is so that imitation of the wrong is not involved.
Haircuts The imitation of different haircuts that we see being worn by our muslim youth is an indication towards how less interest they have in the way the shareeah has prescribed us to cut our hair. According to shareeah , hair should either be kept long and worn back i.e. until the hair from the tip of the forehead reaches midway to the earlobes, which is the minimum length, or up to the shoulders which is the maximum length. This sunnah style of hair is referred to as a
‘zulfaa’. Male muslims can keep hair like this or they should cut the hair an even length all over. Dress Another form of imitation is the type of dress we wear. Here, the question arises regarding “What clothes should be worn according to shareeah”? Shareeah says that anything which is worn to cover up the satr (prescribed areas of concealment for men and women) is permissible. (For men this is from the navel to beneath the knees and for women it is her whole body except the face and hands). This means a man could wear a 3 piece suit but it depends on the intention of the person. If he wears it with the intention to cover his satr, then it is deemed permissible but if it were worn to integrate amongst the people then that is imitation. Likewise, a person can wear jeans if he wears it with the intention to cover himself but four example if he bought a pair specifically that was torn near the knee as part of its design whereas he had the choice to buy a pair that was just plain, then that would be imitation. This means that we can wear shirts and jeans etc. so long as we have the correct intention, but why is it that we see so many scholars and religious people wearing the turban and the long dress. The salvation of Firawns Jester. A famous Islamic Scholar, Mullah Ali Qari writes in his book named Mirqaat, which is the commentary to Mishkaat, about a person who got saved from the army and people of Firawn that drowned during the time of the Prophet Musa (A.S). (This incident is also mentioned in the side commentary of Abu Dawood.) This person was the Jester of Firawn and he was retained so he could mock the Prophet Musa (A.S). The Jester used to follow Prophet Musa (A.S) around and ridicule him and make jokes out of what he did. The time came when Firawn and his army were chasing Prophet Musa (A.S) and his people until they got to the edge of the river Nile. There, Prophet Musa (A.S) hit the water with his stick and 12 dry paths opened up through which he and his people got to the other side. Firawn and his army followed and the Jester was also on the scene with his king. No sooner did the enemy reach the middle of the paths, that the high
SPECIAL FEATURE I 25 walls of water that were formed whilst creating these paths collapsed in on the disbelievers and drowned them all. It was later seen that the Jester of Firawn had survived the drowning and so the Prophet Musa (A.S) made supplication towards Allah (S.W.T) saying “Oh Allah, out of all the people that harmed me, that caused me distress, this Jester hurt me the most. He used to mock me in front of the people when I preached and he used to ridicule me. He used to copy my words, copy my speeches, imitate my actions and wear the same clothes as me so that he could make a fool out of me in front of the people. I hated him the most and you let him live? Allah the Almighty replied “The Lover (Allah) does not punish that person who looks (by means of clothing, beard etc.) like the loved one (His Prophet)”. This displays to us how much imitating can have an effect on a persons life. The mockery of the Prophet Musa (A.S) that was done by the Jester, by his dressing up like him and his mimicking him, led to his salvation from Allah’s punishment and only because he imitated the Prophet.
Conclusion Think of the all the good effects that can happen to our afterlife if we imitate the Holy Prophet of Allah and take Muhammad Peace and Blessings be upon Him as an example and make him our rolemodel. He Peace and Blessings be upon Him was the best of creation and the perfect example of how to lead our lives. There is a hadeeth of the Prophet Peace and Blessings be upon Him that “a person will be with whom he loves the most”. People tend to copy their idols and those they hold high in their eyes, therefore by copying the clothing that the prophet Peace and Blessings be upon Him wore or that which has a close resemblance, this is a manner in which we can show our love for the prophet Peace and Blessings be upon Him and be with him on the day of judgement. Like the Prophet Peace and Blessings be upon Him said “whoever imitates a group he is from them” meaning that whoever imitates a group will be raised with them on the day of judgement. If we imitate the Prophet Peace and Blessings be upon Him, the on the Day of Resurrection we will be raised with him and he will intercede on behalf of us to Allah.
I December 2010
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