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TIMES UP MUBARAK
Millionâ€™s of protesters have called for a general strike and demanding President Hosni Mubarak to step down. Across Egypt protesters have
rallied despite heavy military presence. While President Mubarak has promised economic and political reforms, protesters remain defiant
and say they will not give up until Mubarak steps down. Over 200 people have lost their lives and thousands have sustained injuries over the past week.
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I February 2011
By Soumaya Ghannoushi Researcher in the history of ideas at the School of Oriental & African Studies
Arab states: A Quagmire of Tyranny Arabs are rebelling not just against decrepit autocrats but the foreign backers who kept them in power
We are witnessing the breakdown of the Arab state after decades of failure and mounting crises. The Arab political establishment has never looked weaker than it does today. It is either dying a protracted silent death, corroded from within, or collapsing in thunderous explosions. Tunisia, which toppled its dictator through popular revolution two weeks ago, is by no means an exception. The symptoms are evident throughout the region, from the accelerating movement of protest in Egypt, Algeria and Jordan, or the increasing polarisation of Lebanon’s sectarian politics, to the near-collapse of the state in Yemen and Sudan, and its complete disintegration in Somalia. The postcolonial Arab state has always carried deficiency as part of its genetic make-up. It had emerged as a substitute for the complex network of local elites, tribal chieftains and religious groupings through which the imperial authorities had maintained their grip; and its mission was the regulation of the indigenous population. This system of indirect control over the region, which assumed its present shape in the aftermath of the first world war, specifically required a “state” that is capable of keeping the local populations under check and maintaining “stability” at home, but too weak to disrupt foreign influence or disturb the regional balance of powers. The first generation of postcolonial Arab leaders, the likes of Egypt’s Nasser and Tunisia’s Bourguiba, had been able to soften the repressive nature of the Arab state by virtue of their personal charisma, and promises of progress. With their exit from the stage, and the entry of a new class of colourless autocrats and crude generals, the Arab state lost any cover of legitimacy, and became synonymous with violence and oppression. Much of the turmoil plaguing the region today is traceable to its diseased political order. Its degeneration has wrought havoc on the social sphere too. It has led to weaker national identities, and to
individuals reverting to their narrower sectarian affiliations, sparking conflicts between Sunnis and Shias, Arabs and Kurds, Copts and Muslims. The result has been a growth in extremism, self-insulation, and what the French Lebanese novelist Amin Maalouf calls “killer identities”. Beyond the Arab state’s aura of physical might – embodied in its terrifying coercion apparatus – lurks a moral vulnerability and an abysmal dearth of popular allegiance. This paradox has been laid bare by protesters in Tunisia and is in the process of being exposed in Egypt today. These demonstrators are discovering the extreme frailty of the instruments of repression that have long crushed and suffocated them simultaneously, with the staggering power of their collective action on the street. The ousting of Tunisia’s tyrant after no more than a month of perpetual protests has handed millions of Arabs the magical key out of the prison of fear behind whose walls they have been incarcerated for decades. Events in Tunisia, Egypt and – to a lesser extent – Algeria are harbingers of a change long impeded and postponed. Were it not for the international will to maintain the worn out status quo, what happened in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in the late 1980s could have occurred in the Arab region too. Its decrepit
autocrats were allowed to stagger on, shedding their old skins and riding on the wave of rampant economic liberalism, which benefited the narrow interests of ruling families and their associates alone, and thrust the rest into a bottomless pit of poverty and marginalisation. Arab rulers – aided by their foreign allies – have been able to steal over two decades of their societies’ political life. Today they face the hour of truth: either radically transform the structure of authoritarian Arab rule, or depart for ever. The trouble is that an entity that has made coercion its raison d’etre and violence its sole means of survival has left itself no option but to sink deeper in the quagmire of tyranny. And the trouble for its sponsors, who have made its preservation the cornerstone of their “stability” strategy in the region, is that they have now tied their own hands, with no choice but to blindly stick with their “friends” to the last breath. That is why those demonstrating on Arab streets today feel that they are not only rebelling against a band of corrupt local despots, but against their foreign backers too. And though we cannot predict the future, the likelihood is that just as Latin Americans had seen the fall of many Pinochets in the 1980s, Arabs will witness more Ben Alis before the close of this decade.
Write to: Editor, Passion Islam, PO Box 159, Batley, West Yorkshire, WF17 1AD or email: firstname.lastname@example.org - 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 -
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I February 2011
ANTI TERROR REVIEW
Shameful Terror Laws Remain
Goodbye control orders, hello terrorism prevention and investigation measures: a knowing laugh rattled around the House of Commons as the home secretary set out her plans. The government has debated, reviewed, paused, scratched its head and changed the language, but it has not found a way to abolish in full the distasteful practice of restricting the liberty of terror suspects without the prospect of prosecution or trial. As such it has fallen short of hopes of ridding the law of this particular bit of authoritarianism, though it proposes removing many others that have done more to destroy confidence within the Muslim community.The Governmentâ€™s response to the control order regime, announced has utterly failed in seeking to balance due process for detainees against existent security concerns. The proposals that have been mooted fail to deal with the use of secret evidence and totally ignore the plight of those who continue to be detained under immigration bail orders. Unlike the conditions the men have been subjected to, the key point of concern for all has been the secret evidence that has been used against them.The retention of this fundamental assault on the rule of law will be retained, combined with the use of handpicked barristers (known as special advocates) is now polluting the British legal system to the extent that a two-tier criminal justice system has been constructed. Any individual identified as a suspect is faced with the
impossible task of challenging the state. Kaleem Bullievent a British Muslim revert who spent two years on a control order after he was wrongly accused of terrorism, said the stress of being a virtual house prisoner wrecked his life and almost triggered a mental breakdown. The replacement regime was agreed after months of protracted discussions between the Coalition partners. The Liberal Democrats promised in their manifesto to abolish control orders The proposed changes in the regime including some significant exceptions such as banning overnight curfews and banning locations difficult to watch do not deal with the inherent injustice of the system. A more complete analysis of the removal of meaningful due process was highlighted in the Cageprisoners report, Detention Immorality. The government already lost its case for control orders in the High Court, Court of Appeal and was told by the House of Lords that control orders â€˜breach human rightsâ€™ Progress cannot be achieved by simply chipping away at what is wrong, we need to return to what is right. Human rights group Cageprisoners called for the government to rethink its proposals and take into account that the main injustice against these men is the way in which secret evidence is presented in their cases. Although the desire to end control orders is welcome, merely tinkering with the worst aspects from a PR perspective in no way deals with the fundamental flaw in the concept which itself is against the tradition of the rule of law.
MI6 tries to weaken Hamas, documents 4
LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS
Leaked documents relating to the Middle East peace process suggest Britain’s intelligence service has been closely involved in attempts to weaken Hamas, it was disclosed. The documents published by the Guardian newspaper date back to 2004, before the Islamic group won elections in 2006 and took control of the Gaza Strip. The Foreign Office says it has a long-standing policy not to comment on intelligence matters. The documents are part of 1,600 confidential papers from more than 10 years of secret US-brokered Middle East peace talks. The sevenpage Palestinian Security Plan, written by British intelligence officials, says its objective is to “encourage and enable the Palestinian Authority (PA) to fully meet its security obligations under Phase 1 of the Roadmap” - the US-backed 2003 peace initiative, under which Israel agreed to stop settlement building and Palestinians to clamp down on militant activity. It proposes a number of ways of “degrading the capabilities of rejectionists”, naming Hamas, PIJ (Palestinian Islamic Jihad) and the al-Aqsa Brigades. This would involve “the disruption of their leaderships’
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communications and command and control capabilities; the detention of key middle-ranking officers; and the confiscation of their arsenals and financial resources held within the Occupied Territories”. The documents go on to suggest: “We could also explore the temporary internment of leading Hamas and PIJ figures, making sure they are well-treated, with EU funding”. The news that MI6 have been involved in such plans is controversial, commentators said. For its part, the Foreign Office said
the UK “absolutely condemns any abuse of human rights”, and has been involved in a programme to build the capacity of the Palestinian Security Forces for a number of years. In a statement, it said the UK has previously provided funding for training in all aspects of government and currently provides budgetary support to the PA as well as a leadership programme “which focuses on teaching the importance of human rights to middle and high ranking members of the security forces”.
outside the Iraq Inquiry in central London, while Blair was answering questions for a second time about his role in the lead up to the 2003 war. “I opposed war from the beginning, over half a million lost their lives, billions were made by arms manufacturers and oil companies and we need to know truth,” said Corbyn, who has been an MP since 1983. He said he wanted to know why Blair thought he could justify the “illegal invasion and if he thinks all the devastation, destruction, deaths and mayhem in Iraq is a price worth paying.” “The truth needs to come out on the process, so any legal action can follow,” he said, amid hundreds
of protesters calling for the former premier to be put on trial for war crimes. “In my own opinion, the war was based on the vanity the prime minister and (US) president. It was wholly illegal and deeply immoral,” Corbyn said. Corbyn criticised the British government for preventing the publication of secret notes sent by the former premier to the former US president ahead of the war and suggested that the inquiry was developing into an “establishment cover-up.” But he also expressed hope that when the inquiry publishes its report later this year that it would open the door for anyone to take legal action to prosecute Blair for war crimes.
Blair should be prosecuted says MP Veteran British MP Jeremy Corbyn called for former prime minister Tony Blair to be put on trial for war crimes as a lesson to prevent illegal invasions of other countries in future. “Legal action should be taken not because it is going to change what happened in Iraq but because it may stop the same thing happening against Iran or any other country,” said Corbyn, who is also vicechair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). “It is important to establish international law has pre-eminence and there is nothing in international law to allow one country to invade another,” he told IRNA. The 61-year old Labour MP was speaking, while attending a protest
UK store boycotts illegal Israeli beauty products Passion Islam
I February 2011
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has welcomed the decision by British store John Lewis to stop stocking proucts manufactured in illegal Israeli settlements as “yet another victory for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. A boycott of Ahava Dead Sea beauty products was confirmed by John Lewis’ Managing Director, Andy Street, who said his leading nationwide company was a “socially responsible retailer.” “We expect all our suppliers not only to obey the law, but also to respect the rights, interests and well-being of their employees, their communities and the environment,” Street said in a ltter to the PSC. “In relation to your specific enquiry about Ahava Dead Sea products, I can confirm that John Lewis has ceased stocking these particular products,” his letter said, according to a copy obtained by IRNA. PSC Director of Campaigns Sarah Colborne welcomed the boycott, saying that Israel’s continued attacks on the Palestinian population, its brutal blockade in Gaza and illegal occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, has led to a “seismic shift in public opinion.”
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Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, Colborne said, is an Israeli cosmetics company, with its manufacturing plant based in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the West Bank, which is “stolen Palestinian land.” “Its beauty products can’t conceal the role Ahava plays in Israel’s occupation. Ahava, and other companies profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation, are being sent a clear message by consumers who are refusing to buy their products,” she said.
PSC criticised western governments, including the British, for failing to end Israeli violations of international law and human rights, but said the public was taking action by supporting the BDS movement for peace and justice for the Palestinians. The boycott comes after regular protests have been held outside Ahava shop in central London. The Bay stores, a leading department store chain in Canada, also announced it has stopped selling the illegal Israeli beauty products. IRNA
UK linked to notorious Bangladesh torture centre Exclusive British authorities pressed for information while men were held at secret interrogation centre where inmates are known to have died under torture, Guardian investigation reveals UK authorities passed information about British nationals to notorious Bangladeshi intelligence agencies and police units, then pressed for information while the men were being held at a secret interrogation centre where inmates are known to have died under torture. A Guardian investigation into counter-terrorism co-operation between the UK and Bangladesh has revealed a detailed picture of the
last Labour government’s reliance on overseas intelligence agencies that were known to use torture. Meetings and exchanges of information took place between British and Bangladeshi officials in an effort to protect the UK from attacks that might be fomented in Bangladesh, according to sources in both countries. The likelihood that a number of suspects would be tortured as a result of the meetings went unmentioned, according to the sources. Subsequently, more than a dozen men of dual BritishBangladeshi nationality were placed under investigation, and at least
some suffered horrific abuse from the Bangladeshi authorities. At one point Jacqui Smith, then home secretary, flew to Dhaka for face-to-face meetings with senior officials from one agency, the Directorate-General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), whose use of torture had been the subject of a detailed report by Human Rights Watch, the New York-based NGO, less than eight weeks earlier. Seven months before the visit, a report prepared by Smith’s own department had documented the widespread concern about the routine use of torture in Bangladesh. www.passionislam.com
UK rejects call for inquiry into Afghan war 8
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UK grants 17 million to Palestinian Authority
The British government has rejected a call to hold an inquiry into the reasons for the UK incursion into Helmand province in Afghanistan in 2006. “At the present time, there are no plans to initiate an inquiry into the reasons for the UK deployment to Helmand,” said Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt. “It would be wrong to consider holding an inquiry while our troops are still risking their lives and while operations are ongoing,” Burt said in a written parliamentary reply published. He said that the British government announced their first deployment of troops to Helmand in January 2006, as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) expansion to the south of the country. At the time, Defence Secretary John Reid said that some 3,300 British troops would be deployed for three years at a cost of £1 billion and that he expected them to leave “without a bullet being fired.” But since then, 344 UK soldiers have lost their lives compared with five during the first five years of the
Afghan war. The number deployed has also risen to nearly 10,000 at an escalating cost of more than £3 bn a year. The call for an inquiry was made by veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn, who set up an all-party parliamentary group last year demanding a withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan. The Afghan war is based upon a “false assumption” that the country presents a terrorist threat to Britain, Flynn previously told IRNA. “The longer the exit is delayed the more soldiers will die in a lost cause,” he warned. The British government used the same excuse to delay the current inquiry to learn lessons from the debacle of the Iraq war, which distracted attention in 2003 from Afghanistan. In its defence review last October, the government effectively announced that Britain’s armed forces will be no longer able to mount the kind of military operations conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan due to the scale of cuts needed to balance the budget. www.passionislam.com
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The UK Government is offering 17 million pounds for the Palestinian Authority with the aim of supporting education in the occupied territories, Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt announced. The UK Foreign Office said in a statement that Burt made the aid pledge during a meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Burt said that the financial allocation was intended to pay salaries of 340 teachers and help 15,000 students be able to have access to clean water for drinking. The British official, during the meeting, praised the successful efforts of the premier and his team of aides for state building, under guidance of President Mahmoud Abbas. Burt said, “I am very impressed by the progress that Prime Minister Fayyad and his team are making on the state building agenda under the guidance of President Abbas. I applaud the Prime Ministers dynamic leadership which has helped achieve this progress. “It has made a difference to the lives of Palestinians, not least in the key sector of security, and has advanced the prospect of creating through negotiations an independent and viable Palestinian state living in peace with a secure Israel.” The UK remains committed to assisting the Palestinians in their preparations for statehood, he added. Burt re-affirmed London’s unwavering support for the Palestinians’ aspiration to establish an independent state and condemned construction of illegal Israeli settlements.
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LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS
UK army ‘misleadingly optimistic’ over Afghan war, says former envoy Britain’s former special envoy to Afghanistan has criticised the UK’s military leaders of being ‘misleadingly optimistic’ about Afghanistan in a renewed scathing attack on the conduct of the war. Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, who left the Foreign Office last October after being replaced in Kabul, said the war gave the army “a raison d’être it had lacked for years and resources on an unprecedented scale’. “I am not blaming the military for being optimistic, or for constantly lobbying for more resources for Helmand,” Cowper-Coles said. “But I do think some of the advice they put to ministers was misleadingly optimistic, and that ministers’ professional advisers, both military and civilian, sometimes did not spell out for ministers the costs and risks of engagement in Helmand,” he said. The former envoy was suddenly suspended from his post of shadowing his late American counterpart, Richard Holbrooke, in June after clashing with senior Nato and US officials over his insistence that the military-driven counterinsurgency effort was headed for failure.
In his written testimony, he suggested that the deployment in Helmand in 2006 was seen by British military leaders as an opportunity to make up for the failure in Iraq. “In the eyes of the Army, Afghanistan has also given our forces the chance to redeem themselves, in the eyes of the Americans, in the wake of negative perceptions, whether or not they were justified, of the British Army’s performance in Basra,” Cowper-Coles said.
He revealed that he was told by the then Chief of the General Staff, Sir Richard Dannatt, in the summer of 2007 that, if he didn’t use in Afghanistan the battle groups then starting to come free from Iraq, he would lose them in a future defence review. “In my view, the Army’s ‘strategy’ in Helmand was driven at least as much by the level of resources available to the British Army as by an objective. IRNA
Government moves to proscribe Taliban The Pakistan Taliban will be banned under plans outlined by UK Home Secretary Theresa May. The move to proscribe the group was a “tough but necessary power to tackle terrorism”, May said in a statement. Membership of the group, the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), would become a criminal offence and the organisation would not be able to raise funds or lawfully operate in the UK, she said. Mrs May said: “I have laid an order which will proscribe Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan. “ Proscription is a tough but necessary power to tackle terrorism and is not a course of action we take lightly. “Proscription means that membership of Tehrik-e Taliban will become a criminal offence, and
the organisation will not be able to lawfully operate in the UK, including by raising funds.” During the worst floods in Pakistan’s history last summer, the Pakistan Taliban, an umbrella group of militants based in nearby North and South Waziristan, hinted it may launch attacks against foreign flood relief workers in the country, saying their presence was “unacceptable”. Pakistan Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq claimed that the US and other countries were not really focused on providing aid to flood victims, but had other “intentions” which he did not specify. The Home Secretary’s order will now be debated in both the House of Commons and the Lords, officials said.
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UK violated rights of immigrant families 10
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The UK government’s detention of two asylum-seeker families breached their fundamental rights, the High Court ruled. The young families of Reetha Suppiah from Malaysia and Sakinat Bello from Nigeria were held at Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedforshire, north of London, unnecessarily and in a manner that took inadequate account of child welfare, the court said. In a judgment critical of the UK Border Agency?s approach, the judge, Mr Justice Wyn Williams, found that the immigrants’ rights to liberty, security of the person and to home and family life were violated. The two families were arrested by UK Border Agency officers in dawn raids in February last year, when the parents with their children aged between 1 and 11, were loaded into vans with meshed windows and driven to the detention centre. Reetha’s family were detained for 17 days and Sakinat’s for 12 days despite the fact that both reported regularly to the immigration authorities prior to their arrest. According to their solicitors, Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), all of the
children became sick, suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting upon their arrival. The judge considered that not only were the decisions to detain these families unlawful, but the failures to release them at an earlier stage also breached their human rights. Phil Shiner of PIL said that he hoped that the Home Office will learn difficult lessons from the inadequacies exposed in this case, and that the coalition government will end child detention without further
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procrastination. “These women have courageously fought on behalf of all those who have suffered unnecessary and damaging detention due to the “tick-box? manner in which UKBA has been allowed, until now, to lock families up,” Shiner said. Yarl’s Wood opened in 2001 as the largest immigration detention centre in Europe holding up to 900 people, but since it has been dogged by controversy, with hunger strikes, riots and fires.
Increase in number of converts to Islam Up to 100,000 converts to Islam are living in the UK, with white women leading the growing number of people embracing the Muslim faith, according to a report published. The number of converts to Islam may have risen from around 60,000 in 2001 to up to 90,000 to 100,000, according to estimates in a report for the Faith Matters organisation. A study by Kevin Brice, of Swansea University, on behalf of Faith Matters, found 5,200 people converted to Islam in the UK last year. A survey of 122 converts last year showed 56% were white British,
with women making up 62% of respondents. The average age at conversion was just over 27. The majority reported difficulties after converting because of the negative attitude of their family, but over time this attitude became more “positive” according to the report. The majority of the converts saw themselves as both British and Muslim and did not feel disillusioned with British society and culture. But they also felt their own lives had been “lost” and were “lacking in purpose” before conversion, and feared that there was a “normalisation” of “immoral”
behaviour amongst an increasingly less religious British public. Only a very small minority saw celebrating birthdays, listening to music or reading fiction as prohibited by Islam, with fewer than 10% viewing attending a family Christmas dinner as forbidden. A majority said that most or all of their close friends were Muslims but almost all felt that Muslims should not keep themselves separate from non-Muslims. The vast majority of women had changed their appearance after conversion, with a significant majority adopting the hijab, or head scarf.
Rare copy of the Quran Passion Islam
I February 2011
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A rarely-seen manuscript of one of the world’s most important copies of the Quran was published online. The ornate, hand-written holy book, estimated to be around 500 years old, is so precious and fragile scholars have been unable to put it on display, a spokesman for Manchester University, where the manuscript is on show, said. Each of the 470 pages measures 88x60cm, the size of a large plasma screen TV, and it is kept by the University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library. Experts at the library used digital technology to photograph each page to publish the book online to enable scholars and students to study it. This copy of the Quran was written by several scribes, though historians disagree on when it was written, with estimates ranging from the second half of the 14th century to 1500. Analysis of the digital images should aid scholars to date the manuscript more accurately. It is believed to have originated from Cairo from the library of Kansuh al-Ghuri, one of the last Mamluk Sultans of Egypt. Known as the Rylands Quran of Kansuh al-Ghuri, it has two missing pages, or leaves, which
were discovered in the 1970s at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, the Irish Republic. The missing pages were also captured in digital images and reunited with the book on the internet. At least 950 images were captured - which are between 80 and 120MB each - allowing their study in intricate detail. Project manager Carol Burrows, collection and research support manager at the John Rylands Library, said: “Because of its size and weight, reading room access has been severely restricted to all but a handful of scholars. It cannot be used in exhibitions, seminars or public close-ups. “It will certainly was a challenge to photograph this enormous manuscript, as it is too large and heavy for the equipment we normally use. “However, we had constructed dedicated equipment which achieved this aim.” The Quran was purchased by the library in 1901 as part of the Crawford collection of manuscripts, a collection of artefacts acquired by various Earls of Crawford. The project has been funded by the Islamic Manuscript Association.
UK Zionist body rejects two-state solution Britain’s umbrella Zionist organisation has rejected a proposal by its executive to support a two-state solution in the Middle East. The Board of (Jewish) Deputies, which rebuffs criticism of Israel, was left divided when its leaders voted 79-51 to defeat the resolution, which had been intended display consensus on Israel, according to the Jewish Chronicle. Following the rejection, Board president Vivian Wineman said he had been ‘surprised’ initially at the result but insisted that most deputies still remained in favour of the concept of a two-state peace between Israel and the Palestinians. ‘There was a feeling we might be dictating to the government of Israel. And that came from quite left-wing people, saying it was not our business,” Wineman was quoted saying. The rejection came after the Jewish Leadership Council, founded in 2003 to bring together lay leaders, was forced to postponed a trip to meet Palestinian leaders in the West Bank following an angry reaction from the Board of Deputies. Instead of the resolution, the Board reiterated that it stood ‘completely behind a just and lasting negotiated peace and in particular behind the courageous stand of the present government as formulated by Prime Minister Netanyahu’. IRNA
UK and US hold anti-terror talks 12
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Anti-terror talks between the United States and the UK was held last month. Plans to strengthen cyber, cargo and aviation security against terrorism and natural disasters was discussed in the private discussions between Home Secretary Theresa May, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond and the US Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano. The talks which were held at an undisclosed location in London for
security reasons, the officials pointed out. It comes after Scotland Yard said a bomb found on a cargo plane at East Midlands Airport, England, in October was timed to detonate over the eastern seaboard of the US A spokesman for the US Department of Homeland Security was quoted saying the talks focused on “collaborative efforts to strengthen cyber, cargo and aviation security.” The discussions also covered efforts
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to “ensure the security and resilience of the global supply chain against terrorism, transnational crime and natural disasters while facilitating the flow of travel and commerce”, he said. The Home Office in London said it did not comment on private talks. Last year, Scotland Yard said the bomb, disguised as an ink cartridge, was found on a UPS aircraft by Leicestershire police officers shortly early on October 29 last year and was timed to go off some seven hours later over the eastern seaboard of the US. As part of new security measures brought in following the foiled attacks, countries sending air freight to the UK are being “graded” according to risk and rules which allowed some freight not to be rescreened if it was merely passing through the UK were amended. The UK Government’s national security strategy highlighted attacks on computer networks as one of the country’s biggest emerging threats, the officials noted.
US Role in the Middle-East Fading The US role in the Middle-East has continuously declined since the country has repeatedly failed to impose its policy in the region, as a result of which it is entering an open conflict against Hezbollah. This is according to the assistant director of Hezbollah Executive Council, Sheik Nabil Qavoq, speaking to Lebanon-al-An news center. Any decision by the American side over the dossier of the assassination of Rafiq Hariri will be absurd and regarded as baseless inside Lebanon, he stated, noting that such US-led actions have no effect on the Resistance Movement. Referring to the latest
developments in Lebanon, he pointed out the country is experiencing a new phase involving all citizens in reserving the dignity and sovereignty of the nation against any threats plotted by the United States and the Zionist regime. “Stronger than ever, Resistance is vigilantly observing developments, he stressed, adding that if the US finds it possible to impose its will on the Security Council or the Hague International Court of Justice, it remains to be considered the weakest in the eyes of the Lebanese and that they never allow foreigners to destabilize the country. www.passionislam.com
US-led forces wipe Afghan town off map Passion Islam
I February 2011
Fresh US-led military offensives have completely destroyed a town in southern Afghanistan, as public discontent continues to grow over civilian casualties. The US-led military alliance says the operation targeted Taliban militants in the violent Kandahar Province. Media reports, however, say most of the victims in Tarok Kolache town were Afghan civilians. According to the Daily Mail report, the bombing completely erased the
town and its surroundings from the map. The British daily has also published images of the town before and after the operation in a bid to show the scale of destruction. The developments come as a recent report says US-led military operations have inflicted over USD 100 million in damages on public property in southern Afghanistan. Afghans blame foreign troops and their military operations for civilian deaths. The rising number of civilian
Israel has unveiled a plan to spend about $6 million to construct new roads on occupied Palestinian land, a report says. Palestinians view East al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of their future state, but watch in dismay as Israel’s illegal settlements grow and roads expand deep inside the occupied lands. They are concerned that the project will mean confiscation of more Palestinian land in East al-Quds. They say this is a greater plan Israel is conducting in order to remove all
Arabs from East al-Quds. The deputy governor of East alQuds, Abdullah Siyam, says Israel plans to connect these roads to the many illegal settlements in East alQuds in order to move further inside the occupied Palestinian land. Land is very limited in East alQuds for the 250,000 Palestinians who live in crowded neighborhoods, as Israel has made it nearly impossible for them to build and expand on their own land, a Press TV correspondent reported. There are at least 242 Israeli
casualties has increased anti-US sentiments in the troubled region. The Afghan interior ministry has recently said that 2010 has been the deadliest year for civilians since the US-led invasion in 2001. The ministry says more than 2,000 civilians lost their lives in violence across Afghanistan. Civilians have been the main victims of violence in Afghanistan, particularly in the country’s troubled southern and eastern provinces, where they are killed by both militant and foreign fire. The surge in violence comes despite the presence of 150,000 foreign troops, which are engaged in the so-called war on terrorism. The war in Afghanistan, with civilian and military casualties at record highs, has become the longest war in US history. The issue of civilian casualties has long been a source of friction between Kabul and Washington.
‘Israel to build new roads in al-Quds’
settlements in the West Bank and nearly 30 in East al-Quds. The settlements are illegal under international law. Since September last year, when a 10-month freeze on settlement building ran out, there has been a sharp rise in construction of the Israeli settlements on the occupied Palestinian territories.
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‘US hides war facts from its citizens’ 16
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I February 2011
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The US military industries are threats to Washington because of the high maintenance budget needs, US analyst Gareth Porter says, adding the war facts are mostly kept from the US citizens. The US historian and investigative journalist believes that “the dangers posed by military-industrial groups have now morphed into greater threats.” He further pointed out that the aggressive push for a hike in military
expenditure is not only threatening the US armed forces, but also jeopardizing the national security instructions for the US government. “It’s a broader threat that includes not just the military, but all of the national security institutions of the US executive branch plus the industrial allies that they have or the clients they (military-industrial groups) have plus people in Congress, who are associated with them because of the taint of money
coming from the military contracts,” he told said in an exclusive interview with Press TV. He spoke of the authority given to the US Special Operation Forces “to go into dozens of countries to wage war in secret, and to carry out various kinds of warfare that are not accountable to American people.” The investigative journalist went on saying that the ‘permanent war’ status quo has exacerbated since 9/11 attacks “because the state formation has taken advantage of the climate of fear to take a whole series of steps ... to increase enormously the power that the state formation has to make war.” In total, there are now 255,065 US military personnel deployed worldwide. The United States has military bases in countries it has formerly occupied or militarily attacked. According to Allgov.com, more than half a century after World War II and the Korean War, the US still has 268 bases in Germany, 124 in Japan, and 87 in South Korea. With $663.8 billion, the United States has the biggest military budget in the world. In addition, it has the world’s largest number of military bases. Press tv
‘UN provides half aid to Palestinians’ The UN has only provided 52 percent of its target for humanitarian aid to Palestine in 2010, making it the largest shortfall since the plan started in 200. Maxwell Gaylard, UN humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories, said the “disappointing figure” for 2010 is mainly due to the global
economic crisis as well as the natural disasters in Pakistan and Haiti. The plan, called the Consolidated Appeals Process, only managed to raise $259.2 million for Palestinians, The Jerusalem Post reported. In 2003, the UN launched an appeal to the member states and international organizations to provide
aid to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip. According to Gaylard’s office, donors say some of the projects such as education, agriculture and sanitation cannot be deemed as emergency items. Palestine was the United Nations’ sixth most under-funded appeal in 2010, the office said.
I February 2011
Azerbaijani Muslims protest hijab ban Passion Islam
Hundreds of people have staged a demonstration in Azerbaijan’s capital, urging the government to overturn a decree banning Islamic headscarves in schools. The protesters who were mostly the parents of Muslim students shouted slogans against the anti-Islamic law.
Baku imposed a ban on wearing the Islamic veil, or hijab, at schools in December, sparking angry protests across the Muslim country. There have been a series of rallies against the controversial issue of the hijab ban in the country since the law came into effect. The Azeri government has
refused to lift the ban, defending it as part of its attempt to revive Soviet-era school uniforms in public education. The disputed hijab law comes in contrast to the country’s constitution which entitled Muslim students to wear headscarves at schools.
Italian govt intends to withdraw forces from Afghanistan Italian government said it intends to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in coordination with NATO allies under the framework of increasing numbers of deaths among Italian forces. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said in a statement after the death of an Italian soldier during a firefight in the northwestern Afghanistan, the 36th to die since Italy’s mission began in 2004, that this soldier was fighting for peace against terror. The Prime Minister questioned the necessity of Italian forces
stationed in Afghanistan, assuring that the government is looking into an immediate pull-out. Attacks on Italians have become more frequent since many Taliban insurgents were driven out of the south of the country with 35 casualties. Thirteen soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in 2010 alone. There are currently some 4,200 Italian soldiers deployed in Afghanistan out of a total international force of nearly 150,000. The coalition intends to hand over primary responsibility for security to Afghan national forces by 2014.
Israel urged to probe Gaza war An Israeli human rights group has called for an independent inquiry into Israeli war crimes against the Palestinians during a three-week invasion of the Gaza Strip at the turn of 2009. “Better late than never: even two years since Operation Cast Lead, an independent Israeli investigation is crucial to achieve accountability and prevent future violations,” read a statement released by B’Tselem on Wednesday. Israel launched Operating Cast Lead against the denselypopulated territory on December 27, 2008, killing at least 1,400 Palestinians and wounding thousands of others. The rights group questioned former inquiries conducted by the Israeli military into the war, describing them as insufficient investigations which did not meet the demands for an independent probe. “In light of the severe harm inflicted on human rights during the operation, Israel has the moral and practical obligation to open an investigation, external to the military, to examine the complaints of breaches of law,” said the rights group. “Israel can still investigate effectively, and has the duty to do so. First, those responsible for the harsh violations of human rights must be held accountable. Second, the investigation’s conclusions can guide policy in future military operations,” the statement added. In September 2009, a UN fact finding team, headed by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, released a report, accusing Israeli military forces of war crimes against the Palestinians during the offense. The report accused Israel of deliberate attacks against the civilian population of Gaza and of willful destruction of civilian infrastructure, a violation of international law.
I WORLD NEWS
I February 2011
Pakistan urges regional countries to maintain relations with Afghanistan Pakistan urged all regional countries to work towards maintaining state-tostate relations with Afghanistan and to not allow any great game to be played out in that country. All regional countries need to adhere to the policy of noninterference and non-intervention in Afghanistan, said Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit while addressing a press conference here. He said people of Afghanistan and Pakistan have suffered heavily and there is no room for a new great game pertaining to Afghanistan. Being immediate neighbor, he added, Pakistan understands its implications and consequences not only for Afghanistan and Pakistan but for the entire region. “Pakistan has always desired for a work for peace and tranquility in the region and along the borders,” said the spokesman, adding, “Pakistan is firmly committed to sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and working closely for normal state to state relations with its neighbor”.
Responding to a question about launching military operation in North Waziristan tribal agency, the spokesman said that the United States understands Pakistans
EP approvescloser ties with Serbia The European Parliament (EP) approved the EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), the first step towards EU membership. However, the EP in a resolution stressed that full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) remains “a fundamental condition for Serbia to progress on the path to EU membership” The EU Parliament urged that talks with Kosovo should start “without delay”, and said that Serbian parallel structures in the Northern part of Kosovo should be dismantled since they undermine the decentralisation process and prevent the full integration of the Serbian community into the Kosovo institutions.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbian rule in 2008. “By ratifying the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, the European Parliament will strongly encourage Serbia to make further steps on her historic journey towards the EU. We acknowledge and welcome Serbia ‘s achievements in the past year,” said said MEP Jelko Kacin , the EP’s rapporteur on Serbia Serbia applied for EU membership in December, 2009, and hopes to obtain EU candidate status this year
position very well with regard to full-scale operation in the Agency. “Pakistan is moving ahead methodically and firmly keeping in view its strategic objectives,”
Obama extends emergency regarding foreign terrorists President Barack Obama extended by one year the national emergency with respect to foreign terrorists who threaten to disrupt the Middle East peace process. The presidential order, publicized extends an emergency declared in 1995, then extended again in 1998, during the Bill Clinton presidency. The 1998 extension came in the wake of the embassy bombings in Africa, and added al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and four others “who threaten to disrupt the Middle East peace process.” The notice said Obama ordered the extension “because these terrorist activities continue to threaten the Middle East peace process” and to pose “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States.”
Ex-US defense Secretary accused of torture
I February 2011
A US rights group has filed a lawsuit charging former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with involvement in torturing former prisoners in American prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) catapulted the torture case into prominence on Thursday after it lodged an appeal to a court in the District of Columbia, alleging that Rumsfeld and some senior US military officials were quite aware of a torture case involving nine detainees between 2002 and 2004 in American prisons in the two countries, AFP reported. The case initially was brought forth in December 2006, but later on was withdrawn by a federal court in March 2007 on the grounds that the ex-defense secretary and other top American military officials were immune from prosecution. The US-based human rights group stated that under the Constitution and international law, torture is strictly prohibited and commanders are obliged to act when they know or should have known of such abuses. The ACLU argued that the 78-year-old Rumsfeld and other military officials were repeatedly notified of abuse and torture at detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan by the International Red Cross and other reports as well as complaints by human rights organizations, thus they are directly responsible for the abuses. The group further touched upon a case involving a prisoner identified as Ali.V, adding that prisoners, who were later released without charge, “were beaten, tortured, and sexually abused.” Meanwhile, three judges at an appeals court in the District of Columbia said the case has a little chance to
succeed. The remarks came as a group of activists, each wearing black hoods and orange jumpsuits representing the prisoners at the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay staged a rally in front of the court room to protest against negligence over the torture case. Rumsfeld is currently putting finishing touches on the release of his memoire book titled “Known and unknown”, which is due to hit bookshelves in the US on 8 February.
Terror charges dropped against three men in Holland Three men from Amsterdam wanted in Belgium for allegedly preparing terror attacks against NATO and Jewish targets are no longer under suspicion of terrorism, Dutch media reported. However the three, arrested at end of November on Belgium’s request, are still under investigation for
recruiting for jihad. All three denied any involvment in terrorism and a Dutch court will rule on the Belgian extradition requeste end of this month. Meanwhile, nine Somalis arrested in Holland on December 24 on alleged terrorism charges are to be paid compensation, according to the Dutch public
prosecution department. The nine will also be given official documents in Dutch, English and Somali stating they were not involved in preparing terrorist attacks. In total, 12 Somalis were arrested on suspicion of terrorism but all have been released from custody but three are still under investigation.
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‘Israel poisoned Arafat with thallium’ 20
I WORLD NEWS
I February 2011
In Case You Missed It
A new investigation into the death of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has revealed that he had been poisoned by a lethal dose of thallium in his food or drinking water. Former special advisor to Arafat, Bassam Abu Shareef, said the investigation conducted by British forensic experts had revealed that the late Palestinian leader was
poisoned by thallium, IRNA reported. Thallium is highly toxic. Cases of poisoning by the substance more commonly occur after oral ingestion. Abu Shareef said he will soon present more information to an investigation committee probing into Arafat’s assassination. He has, however, refused to reveal the name of the investigative
team, which conducted the research. Arafat’s advisor accused Israel of poisoning his leader through the food or drinking water that he received when he was under siege in his headquarters in Ramallah. Arafat died of a mysterious disease in a French hospital on November 11, 2004. www.passionislam.com
‘Western media can’t hide Gaza pain’
Western media like CNN and the state-run BBC cannot conceal the sufferings of the people of Gaza, because the world knows the truths about these people, a political expert says. In December 2008, the Israelis launched an attack on Gaza that took the lives of more than 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, in the populated coastal strip and left thousands more injured. The assault also inflicted over $1.6 billion in
damages on the territory’s economy. “Children in Palestine, in Gaza specifically, have stunted growth, and continue to suffer as a result of the sanctions even after the war itself. This is not something that CNN or BBC or The New York Times or The Times of London can hide. This is something that people throughout the world recognize whether they are shown to them or not,” Mohammad Marandi, a professor at Tehran
University, told Press TV. “What is very important is that most people recognize that this situation didn’t begin with the war itself. The Israelis imposed a very harsh embargo on the Palestinian people for roughly two years, before the war actually began. And people knew that the EU and the UN supported the embargo. Palestinian children and women had to face shortage of medicine and foods for years,” Marandi added. Moreover, Israel also proceeds adamantly with the construction of settlements in the occupied territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds. According to data from the Palestinian Information Center, Israel has demolished 995 Palestinian homes and displaced 5,783 individuals, among them 3,109 children, in the occupied al-Quds since the start of the year, 2000. The United Nations and the international community have criticized Israel for defying international calls to halt its settlement construction activities.
w w w . p a s s i o n i s l a m . c o m
SPORT I 21
I February 2011
Liverpool could snap up Celtic wonder-Bhoy Islam Feruz A Decade ago it seemed unlikely that the future of Scottish football lay in the hands of a five-year-old Somali. And yet, 10 years on, Islam Feruz has already become the youngest ever player to represent Scotland under-17s and is set to make his senior Celtic debut next season. But how long can the Glasgow club hold firm to their young protégé? Concern was recently raised when it was reported Manchester City had spoken to the teenager. Barely 10 years old, Islam was spotted by Celtic scout John Simpson playing at Castlemilk Sports Centre and was soon signed up to the Hoops. This led to the late Tommy Burns going through the courts to ensure young Islam’s asylum-seeking family weren’t deported back to Somalia. A case which they won. “Islam was so shocked when
Tommy died. Our whole family will always owe him a huge debt,” said Feruz’s mother Aisha last year. Fast-forward to 2009 and Feruz became the first asylum-seeker to play for Scotland under FIFA’s new five-year education rule when he made his debut for the u17s. “I have been very proud to live in Scotland. It’s a great country which is now my home and I will be proud to wear the Scotland jersey,” said Islam after he was included in the Scottish squad for the UEFA u17 European Championship qualifying round. However, the teenager’s future club career could well take him out of his adopted country very soon. Reports suggest the 15-yearold has been eyed up by Liverpool, Kenny Daglish has watched the youngster and keen to add him to his young emerging squad whilst keeping the history of Celtic and
Liverpool legacy alive. The wonder-Bhoy is currently on contract at Parkhead until summer 2015 and the Glasgow side are said to be seething at the alleged poach talks by City. Whether Islam commits his longterm future to Celtic or not remains to be seen but, on current form, Neil Lennon’s side would receive a lucrative price for their teenage star from any potential buyers. www.passionislam.com
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I SPECIAL FEATURE
I February 2011
... In recent years, a new trend has heightened amongst many Muslim communities, which does not bode well with the laws of Shariyah ...
Islam as a religion promotes love, caring and hospitality. In fact, Islam encourages such acts. Islam teaches to live each day as if it were the last, hence being good to each other and not saying and doing acts that one may regret in time. Islam teaches us to treat our families and friends
with sincerity and affection. To buy chocolates and flowers and to shower with gifts is a practice that will encourage affection. In recent years, a new trend has heightened amongst many Muslim communities, which does not bode well with the laws of Shariyah. This is evident in the
simulation of the celebration of ‘Valentine’s Day’, which has led to explanations of the rulings, so that Muslims may have a clear understanding of this issue and so that they will not fall into that which will weaken the belief with which Allah has blessed them. “And be not as those who
I February 2011
separated and differed among themselves after had come to them evidences. These are the ones for whom shall be a torment mighty” [3:105] he Festival of Love (Valentines Day) was one of the festivals of the pagan Romans, when paganism was the prevalent religion of the Romans more than seventeen centuries ago. In the pagan Roman concept, it was an expression of “spiritual love”. There were myths associated with this pagan festival of the Romans, which persisted with their Christian heirs. Among the most famous of these myths was the Roman belief that Romulus, the founder of Rome, was suckled by a she-wolf, which gave him strength and wisdom. The Romans used to celebrate this event in mid-February each year with a big festival. One of the rituals of this festival was the sacrifice of a dog and a goat in honour of Faunus, God of fertility. Men would go to a grotto dedicated to Lupercal, the wolf god, located at the foot of Palatine Hill and where Romans believed that the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, were suckled by a she-wolf. The men would sacrifice a goat, don its skin, and run around, hitting women with small whips, an act which was supposed to ensure fertility. A point worth note, Muslims have to believe that Wisdom and Strength can only be bestowed by the ‘One and Only’ and although being suckled by a she-wolf is pretty impressive to say the least, will not solely grant either. As to turning this tenuous event into a day of celebration and for believers of any Abrahamic Faith to accept and encompass its belief, is questionable to his / her faith. Saint Valentine is a name, which is given to an ancient “martyr” of the Christian Church. When the Romans embraced
Christianity, they continued to celebrate the Feast of Love mentioned above, but they changed it from the pagan concept of “spiritual love” to another concept known as the “martyrs of love”, represented by Saint Valentine who had advocated love and peace, for which cause he was martyred, according to narrations. It was also called the Feast of Lovers, and Saint Valentine was considered to be the patron saint of lovers, hence incorporating a ‘Un-Founded’ celebration in to the Christian belief. Festivals are the most distinctive things by which religions are told apart. The Prophet (SAW) referred to the fact that every nation has its own festivals when he said: ‘Every nation has its own Eid’. Love in Islam is more general and more comprehensive; it is not restricted only to one kind of love, that between a man and a woman. There are many more kinds of love. There is the love of Allah, love of His Messenger (SAW) and his companions (RA), love for good and righteous people, love and support for the religion, and so on. Consequently it is an extremely dangerous mistake to restrict this broad meaning to this one brand of love. There is no religion which encourages its followers to love and care for one another more than Islam does. This applies at all times and in all circumstances, not just on one particular day. Indeed, Islam encourages us to express our emotions and love at all times, as the Prophet (SAW) said: “If a man loves his brother, let him tell him that he loves him.” (Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi). And he said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you truly believe, and you will not truly believe until you love one another. Shall I not tell you of something that, if you do it, you will love one another?
Spread (the greeting of) salaam amongst yourselves.” (Muslim) Upon examining the history of the day, we need to ask ourselves, are we involved in incorporating an Un-Islamic event into our ‘Islamic’ lives? Can we justify featuring a forbidden (Haram) act in to Islam? How can we justify the blind following of the ‘Feast of Love’ and the pagan myths involving the idol of love, Cupid? How are we going to explain our selves to the Al-Mighty about our purpose of choosing a ‘Mr and Mrs Valentine’? We are so quick to check if some beverage or food item is within the laws and jurisprudence of Islam, however we are reluctant to accept the ‘UnIslamic’ and un-founded practices that we are integrating within our religion. We sometimes use avenues such as culture and sometimes we use ideologies and practices that are against the teachings and methodologies of Islam to have a few practices imbedded within Islam. By all means support each other and shower each other with gifts throughout the year. Spread the message of Allah and His Prophet (SAW) and create love, in its more diverse meaning, between people. Surprise parents and children alike with gifts that will please the eye, however to attribute a specific act on a specific day for a sole purpose is wherein the occasion loses its ‘Islamic Backing’. Reports have been done, and statistics have been produced, however the number of failed marriages and domestic problems are on the rise. It begs the question, how exactly does a single designated day to express love, which incidentally was setup by Pagans through no Islamic understanding or any logical rationale, create a basis of spreading love around the world? Imam Zakir - Yorkshire, UK
Islam in Panama
I SPECIAL FEATURE
Islam in Panama has a long and unique history. According to a 2009 Pew Research Center report, there are 24,000 Muslims in Panama who constitute 0.7 percent of the population. The first group of Muslims that came to Panama (Central America) came as slaves from Africa, brought by the Spaniards to work the gold mines. Not unlike the Africans in the other parts of the Americas, they refused to be slaves. In 1552 a group from the Mandinka tribes arrived in Panama. They were always considered as intelligent, industrious slaves and with a higher degree of culture. Of this group, the Vais were the most outstanding blacks of the continent because they had invented a writing system. Since this famous Mandinka tribe was influenced by Islam, they were all Muslims and it was written in the Spanish Laws of the period that these were prohibited from being brought to the Americas. Yet this was violated, partly because of religious discrimination. ``Mandinka`` was among the colonies synonymous with the devil and evil spirits. There was another reason though. Islamic tradition had developed in them a high sendse of pride which made them decisively refuse to be considered slaves of the white man. Many were captured and sold, but
their spirit of freedom led them to promote and lead slave uprisings. The Spaniards considered them bad people because they forcibly refused to be slaves. The group of about 400-500 that arrived on the Atlantic coast of Panama in 1552, escaped from a sinking ship, and began to live and fight to maintain their freedom. This group did not arrive on the mainland as slaves. They elected one of their members called BAYANO or VAINO to be their leader. (My theory is that the name Bayano is a derivative of the Arabic Word bayyan). Bayano led them in their fight against the colonizers. These Muslims remained steadfast to Islam during the leadership of Bayano. They formed councils, and mosques were built where they held prayers and meetings. These men were steadfast in the faith and Islam, so much that it is related that a couple of them were captured in an ambush, one of the two men were one of the Imams of the group. He was sentenced to die by hanging. They then proposed to him that if he gave up his faith and beliefs, they would be lenient with him; he refused the offer, and he was thrown in a hole with a pack of Great Dane dogs who tore him apart. He persisted in his refusal, and died with his faith, Alhamdulillah. Many more died defending Islam and Freedom.
I February 2011
As a Muslim, Bayano made many covenants with the Governor of Panama which allowed him and his brother Muslims to remain somewhat in peace. Bayano kept his word in all covenants made with the Spaniards; not so the Spaniards. An officer by the name of Ursua was sent to stop the rebellion. Seeing that he could not defeat them, he began to befriend them, and made some agreements with Bayano. These agreements were broken by Ursua by having forty of Bayano`s men poisoned at a party he invited them to. Thirty-two died leaving Bayano and seven of his men. When they realized what was happening, some escaped. But, Bayano and his men were captured. He was sent to Peru then to Spain where he died. It is a known fact that these men converted some of the natives to Islam which brought the love for freedom and justice. So the Spanish colonizers set out to kill them all to stop their growth and that of Islam. These Muslims established a society based on Islamic culture, religion and politics. After Bayanoâ€™s death, efforts were made to destroy any trace of Islam during that period in Panama. These men lived in the area now known as Darien, San Miguel, Chepo, Pacora, San Blas and the area along the river Baayano, named after Bayano. There is no history as what happened to the Muslims who remained in Panama.
I February 2011
Even the books that teach the history of Panama and Bayano have purposely omitted the fact that he was Muslim. Whenever we lecture on Islam at the various educational institutions and tell them this historical fact, even the professors of history are found lacking. Yet, no one has been able to disprove the historical fact. That is recorded by historian Dr. Fernando Romero in an article titled: El “Rey Bayano” y Los Negros Panamenos en los mediados del siglo xvi (The “King Bayano” and the Black Panamians in the middle of the XVI century). The second wave of Muslims did not come to Panama until the late 19th century when some came as travelers and remained. One such Muslim was a brother from Lebanon named Muhammad Majdob, who arrived in 1909, established himself as a merchant in the City of Colon on the Atlantic coast, and remained until 1935. From his family, he had a brother named Najim Majdob who recently resettled in the United States of America. During the years 1904-1913, the group that arrived and settled in Panama to become merchants came from the Indo-Pakistan area, from Lebanon and other Muslim countries. The major group from Indo-Pakistan came from Bengali, Punjab, Peshavir, and Kashmir. Brothers Abdul Jabbar Babu and Ali Akbar led these groups. They numbered 15 to 20 and they came without their families. Therefore, some of them married local women. In 1929 another group came from Bombay. Among them was Muhammad Ibraheem, Salomon Bikhu, the Asvat family, Ismail and Musa, Bhana family and others. They formed an organization called the SUNNI INDO-PAKISTAN Muslim Society. Many of them lived and prayed in a building located in Calle Colon (Colon Street), and then moved to a room in Calle 19. Among the group was the Jalil family who now resides in Vista Alegre; Province of Colon. During the period 1929-1948, this organization, then named Panama Muslim Mission, began to build a place for prayer on land donated by Ali Akbar. This was to have been the first mosque built in Panama City. This place was half completed and was used for Salatul Eid, and classes for new Muslims, who numbered about 25 during that period. These
new Muslims were blacks of West Indian descent, Jamaicans, Trinidadians and Barbadians. Brother Ali Akbar conducted these classes. This locale still exists today and is located on Avenida 12 de Octubre entrance to Pueblo Nuevo, Panama City. Due to the fact that the place was not in use, local government allowed homeless people to reside there. Abdul Jabbar Babu, Ali Akbar and the secretary of Mission Islam, Abdullah Morris, led the group that assisted in the building of that structure. During the above mentioned period, there was another group practicing Islam in the City of Colon, located on the Atlantic Coast of the Republic of Panama. A Jamaican named Basil Austkan led this group. He rented a place that was used for Salat and meetings. This place was located on Sixth Street and Broadway, Colon. These Muslims dressed in white thobes to pray and fasted during the month of Ramadan and at other times prescribed in Islam. In 1932 there was a group of Muslim in San Miguel, Calidonia in Panama City who resided in Short Street where they held meetings and prayers. The Muslims in Panama City from the Indo-Pakistan area had no family structure until 1951 when the first families (wives) arrived. Even though they had built in Pueblo Nuevo, many continued praying in the rented room located on Callo 19, because it was closer to their place of business. One of the brothers by the name of Saliba translated the Quràn to English in order to teach the local people who accepted Islam. These people spoke English because they came from from the West Indies. During the period of the 1950-60s, they remained worshipping in the two areas of Calle Colon and Calle 19. In 1963, they purchased a plot in the local cemetery called Jardin de Paz in order to bury their dead. In 1991, property was purchased in an area called Arrajain, which is now used solely as a Muslim cemetery. In the mid-1970s, a group of native Panamanians influenced by the Nation of Islam of Elijah Muhammad, led by Abdul Wahab Johnson, Abdul Kabir A. Malik Reid, and Suleyman Johnson, began propagating Islam. This grew into two groups, one on the Pacific side,
Panama City, and the other on the Atlantic side, Colon. After having contact with Dr. Abdulkhabeer Muhammad, who then came to Panama, they began to study true Islam in accordance of the teachings Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the Holy Qur’an. They were provided with books by Abdulkhabeer and taught the basic principles of Islam. In 1977, under the leadership of Suleyman, Abdul Wahab and Abdul Kabir A. Malik, they began holding classes on Sundays in the Firemen’s rehearsal hall due to the fact that Suleyman is a fireman. Later they received financial assistance from the Arab merchants living in Colon led by brother Ahmed Sakr. They rented a place on 7th Street and Central Avenue, Colon, where prayers and meetings were held. This group, due to lack of knowledge and assistance, disintegrated. The Muslims of the Indo-Pakistan area began teaching their children at home in 1965 until 1973, when a small teaching program beganin a room above Bazar Hindustan on Central Avenue, Panama City. Prayers and meetings were also held there. In 1978, they began to use a place in the area of Perejil, Panama City, where prayers and meetings where held until the completion of the Jamah Masjid, which was inaugurated on 15 January, 1982. This masjid was built jointly by the Islamic Calla Society of Tripoli, Libya and Salomon Bikhu a local merchant from India, to provide a place for Muslims to meet and pray. Since its inauguration, classes have been held there in the evenings for children and others. Classes are also held on Sundays at the Masjid in Colon for new Muslims and people interested in Islam, given by Dr. Abdulkhaber Muhammad, and in his absence Hamza Beard. As of December 1996, there are four masjids in the Republic of Panama and a fifth under construction due to be inaugurated in the month of March 1997. The masjids are located in Panama City, Colon, Aguadulce and David. Islam in Panama began with the advent of slavery to the area and Allah willing, the movement will grow and bring peace, justice and understaning to all the people of Panama, Latin America and the Carribean. By Dr. AbdulKhabeer Muhammad
I SPECIAL FEATURE
I February 2011
Every British Muslim needs a Will, have you written yours?
If your answer is ‘No’ then this article is a must read. You may be wondering what all the fuss is about, but very few people know that preparing a Will has been clearly encouraged in the Quran and Hadith and many scholars consider having a Will to be an obligatory (Wajib) duty for British Muslims. Verses eleven and twelve of Surah Nisaa in the Quran explain in detail how the wealth of a deceased person is to be shared amongst their family members. A famous Hadith also states: “It is a duty of a Muslim who has anything to bequeath not to let two night pass without including it in his will”, (Bukhari). This Hadith only further emphasises the importance of making a Will as a fundamental part of Islamic law. Plan Ahead It is a sad reflection upon our general attitude, that whilst many Muslims are thorough in ensuring the funeral rites are observed properly, for example the funeral prayer (janazah), the ritual washing of the body (ghusl) and the funeral shroud (kafn), there is less effort in ensuring the wealth and assets of the deceased are distributed amongst family in accordance with Quranic requirements. Hence from a Shar’iah perspective, inheritance planning and ensuring the correct distribution of wealth is of profound importance.
In addition to carrying out this important Islamic duty, preparing a Will means that the right of your partner and children to have a share in your wealth can easily be protected – thereby giving peace of mind to both you and your family members. If both you and your partner were to pass away suddenly, would questions over guardianship of any surviving young children be resolved amicably? By preparing a will, your family are left in no doubt as to knowing the wishes of how to distribute your wealth. On the other hand, to die without a Will could lead to all sorts of disputes and unwanted consequences. It must also be remembered that the implications of dying without a Will in the UK are further aggravated by legal concerns. As British Muslims, it is vital that our Will complies not only with Shar’iah principles but also acts in accordance with English Law. Thus a Will needs to be Shar’iah compliant as well as legally valid. Dying without a Will – the consequences If the deceased fails to leave a legally valid Will and family disputes occur as a result, then the ‘Laws of Intestacy’ may be enforced and the matter will invariably be resolved in the Court of Law. Additionally, any
Will not prepared in accordance to English Law has no legal standing in this country. The ‘Laws of Intestacy’ can be at complete odds with the principles of Shar’iah when it comes to distribution of wealth; hence the consequences of dying without a legally valid Will are unsuitable for those wishing to distribute their wealth in accordance with Quranic injunctions. Once the matter reaches the Court of Law, there will be no option but to comply. Nonetheless it is important to note, it is very much possible to practice principles of Shar’iah without breaching the English Law and vice versa. In creating a suitable option, one could argue, there has never been a better time for British Muslims to understand both English & Shar’iah legal systems. For those who are wealthy, and have assets worth over £325,000, then you may be faced with 40% inheritance tax liability - specialist Wills exist which can mitigate this tax, but these need the advice of a qualified lawyer and/ or a tax adviser. In light of Quran and Sunnah, one cannot ignore the importance of making a Will. It is essential for British Muslims to write a legally valid Will which on one hand fulfils the law of the land and on the other hand, conforms to the principles of Shar’iah. For those individuals who do not have any tax liabilities, 1st Ethical Charitable Trust is a registered charity which offers a free online Islamic Will template – visit www.1stethical.com and download your Free Online Guide & Wills and step-by-step Webtorial on how to ‘Complete Your Islamic Will in 10 minutes’. For just 10 minutes of your time, you will obtain peace of mind and greatly reduce the risk of family disputes occurring. Act today to do something of lasting value for you and your family in this world, and the next.
By Razina Bargit Razina works for 1st Ethical Charitable Trust, which seeks to empower British Muslims with necessary information needed to conduct their financial, legal and business affairs in a manner consistent with Shariah principles.
I February 2011
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