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UK Protest over Israel Plans

Issue: 69

December 2013

More than 50 public figures in Britain, including high-profile celebrities have put their names to a letter opposing an Israeli plan to forcibly remove up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their historic desert land....

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More than 50 public figures in Britain, including high-profile celebrities have put their names to a letter opposing an Israeli plan to forcibly remove up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their historic

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desert land – an act condemned by critics as ethnic cleansing. The letter, published in the Guardian, is part of a day of protest in occupied lands, Palestine and two dozen other

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countries over an Israeli parliamentary bill that is expected to get final approval by the end of this year. The eviction and destruction of about 35 “unrecognised” villages in the Negev desert will, the letter says, “mean the forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes and land, and systematic discrimination and separation”. The signatories are demanding that the British government hold Israel to account over its human rights record and obligations under international law. The “unrecognised” villages in the Negev, whose populations range from a few hundred to 2,000, lack basic services such as running water, electricity, landline telephones, roads, high schools and health clinics. Some consist of a few shacks and animal pens made from corrugated iron; others include concrete houses and mosques built without necessary but unobtainable permission. The Bedouin comprise about 30% of the Negev’s population but their villages take up only 2.5% of the land.

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I LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS

thePassion

www.pi-media.co.uk I December 2013

By Dr Abdul B Shaikh

Lecturer in Islamic Studies @ Leeds University and Deputy Editor of PI Magazine

The Influence of Biradari (Caste) System in the UK Just over 60 years ago, the first Asian Muslim migrants started coming to the United Kingdom from the Indian sub-continent in search of economic prosperity. Simultaneously, these economic migrants inadvertently brought with them the baggage of patronage, kinship, tribal and cultural ties associated with the village from the homeland. Before we tackle the subject of ‘biradari’ in this article, it is important that we first analyse the definition of ‘biradari’ and what significance it has in Muslim communities in the UK today. The term ‘biradari’ (male kin) is generally defined as patrilineage and is known to play a pivotal role in shaping the values, traditions and norms of a particular society. It can be said that from time immemorial, that the concept of biradari has existed in all societies and continues to play a fundamental role, especially at times of strife, hardship and conflict where everyone rallies around together in order to bring peace, stability and harmony. The community elders in Muslim communities have to a large degree proven to be sturdy captains at the helm navigating the choppy waters of British cultural life and tradition. However, in the last seventy years, the UK has witnessed momentous societal change and tremendous transformation in attitudes and perceptions amongst Muslims. In addition to this, we need to point out that UK Muslims are not by in large a homogenous group in respect of ethnic and cultural lines. There is also the opportunity to ask a pertinent question in that is there a place for ‘biradari’ in the 21st century Muslim societies? Today, Biradari is largely

influential in patriarchal Asian Muslim societies around the UK especially amongst the elder generation. Backroom deals in private corridors determine all aspects of life in the community ranging from politics to marriage. The race to win the Bradford West seat in 2012 was regarded as a dead cert as far as the local Labour branch was concerned only to discover that Respect under the stewardship of George Galloway pulled off one of the most sensational election victories in recent electoral history. The ensuing post-mortem conducted by the local and national Labour party highlighted the fact that young Muslims and especially Muslim women had been largely alienated and marginalised by the patriarchs of the community leading to a situation where support for Labour evaporated bolstering the ranks of an outsider party who had previously little or no influence in Bradford. It should be said that the younger generation of Muslims who form a substantial part of the emerging professional class are vibrant, ambitious and possess a tremendous desire to create a positive vibrant cohesive society. It is unfortunate that they now find themselves pitted against the older members of the community content to maintain the status quo reluctant to embrace the winds of positive change. One is off the view that the younger Muslim generation and the elder statesmen of the community need to work together as equals and not expected to be subservient on the basis that they superior in respect of age and experience. A new phenomenon that has recently hit the Muslim community

is the emergence of the concept of the individual at the expense of the community. Some of you may ask what one is inferring from this term, but in simple terms we find that each person is forming their own ideals and policies to suit their agenda partly down to dissatisfaction and malaise with the wider community at large. We can ask ourselves why there is so much widespread discontentment in the Muslim community and this is due to a multitude of reasons some of which we have already touched upon. The whole community needs to understand that the values of freedom, equality, fairness and justice need to be upheld at all times and more importantly that people need to be treated as equals. If Muslim communities continue to neglect these values at the expense of power, fame and authority as has been the case for many years then the events of Bradford West in 2012 will become the norm rather than the exception right throughout the UK. On a final note, Biradari will never be eradicated completely within the Muslim community, but those at the heart of it should take note that its influence is diminishing as the days, months and years go by. The basic principles of fairness and equality need to be applied at all times ensuring that patronage, class and wealth are not promoted at the expense of ability and aspiration. Every single person has a role to play in creating a positive future for the community and one can make a start by making a solemn vow that we will treat each other with kindness, love, compassion and view each other as equals.

Write to: Editor, PI Media, PO Box 159, Batley, West Yorkshire, WF17 1AD or email: info@pi-media.co.uk - www.pi-media.co.uk - mob: 07506 466 385 This Magazine contains Ayaat of the Qur’an and Hadith of the Prophet (SAW), please ensure you handle it with respect & care - Sukran -

Views expressed in the Passion column are of the contributers and not necessarily of Passion Islam.


US blocks Britain’s release of Iraq war report

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I December 2013

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The British government has invested a lot of effort into a four-year-long inquiry into the Iraq War headed by Sir John Chilcot, but the report never seems to come out. Diplomatic sources are now saying that this is because of explicit US orders, and that the report, if released at all, may end up heavily redacted at the Obama Administration’s insistence. A major portion of the inquiry centered on then-Prime Minister Tony Blair lying Britain into war, and therefore focuses on the prewar plotting by Blair and then-US President George W. Bush. That’s apparently the rub, with the US government insisting all of those conversations, and even just Tony Blair’s part, are adjacent to a US president and therefore the property of the US government, which has decided everything is classified. The argument is that neither

Chilcot nor anyone else in the British government has the authority to decide which of the documents can be published, so instead they’re just letting the Obama Administration dictate terms, and that means everything is secret. According to reports from the

inquiry, Blair and Bush began plotting the Iraq War just weeks after Bush’s inauguration in 2001, and at the time the British government decided it was “illegal,” though they eventually launched the war anyhow in 2003. By Jason Ditz


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I December 2013

Black offenders more likely to be jailed new data shows

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LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS

Black people are more likely to be charged and sent to prison than white people - and to receive longer custodial sentences, according to official Ministry of Justice statistics. Data posted on the ministry’s website under section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991, which requires the government to publish data to assess any variation in how the criminal justice system treats individuals based on their ethnicity, reveals wide disparities between members of different ethnic groups. In 2011/12, a person belonging to a black ethnic group was six times more likely than a white person to be stopped and searched. Meanwhile, black people were less likely to receive an out of court disposal for an indictable offence and more likely to be proceeded against at magistrates’ courts than all other ethnic groups. The most common sentence outcome for white and mixed ethnic group offenders was a community sentence, while the most common outcome for black, Asian and Chinese or other offenders was immediate custody.

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The average custodial sentence length for indictable offences was higher in all the years between 2009 and 2012 for offenders from a black and minority ethnic group compared with those from a white group. Following conviction, 26% of

white people were jailed, compared with 31% of black people and 32% of Asians. On average white offenders received 19.9 months in custody and black defendants 23.4 months. By Catherine Baksi

Secret terror trial adjourned while judge considers press ban A secret court case involving two unidentified terror suspects has been adjourned until later this month. Prosecutors want the names of both defendants kept secret as well as a number of the charges. In addition, prosecutors want to bar the public and journalists from the court room while the trial is underway. Both men are understood to be 25 year old British citizens. One of whom is of Turkish background while the second man is believed to of Algerian heritage. The court heard from a secret source who gave evidence behind closed doors on the need for an

order to prevent the press from reporting on the case. Mr Justice Sweeney adjourned the proceedings in order to consider the application. One of the men, known only as AB is charged with preparing terrorist acts and possessing a terrorist document. He faces life imprisonment. The second man, CD, has been charged with possessing a terrorist document and an offence under the Identity Documents Act. The court has been told that neither defendant should be identified as it would interfere with an ongoing investigation.

Prosecutors claim that associates of the men may be able to identify them if specific details relating to the charges are made public. Measures included within the Justice and Security Act have allowed secret sessions to go ahead in High Court actions involving national security, while anonymity orders are also common at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. However, this level of secrecy is rare in criminal courts, where almost all proceedings are held in public. The judge will announce his decision on 13 December. By Darren Boyle


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I December 2013

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British report finds more than 11,000 Syrian children killed www.pi-media.co.uk

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More than 11,000 children have died in Syria’s civil war in nearly three years, including hundreds targeted by snipers, a new British report said.

Summary executions and torture have also been used against children as young as one, the London-based Oxford Research Group think tank says. The report says the majority of children have been killed by bombs or shells in their own neighbourhoods. It wants fighters trained in how not to put civilians’ lives at risk. Their report, Stolen Futures - the Hidden Toll of Child Casualties in Syria, examines data from the start of the conflict in March 2011 to August 2013. Of the 11,420 victims aged 17 and under, 389 were killed by sniper fire. Some 764 were summarily executed, and more than 100 including infants - were tortured,

the report says. Boys outnumbered girls among the dead by around two to one. Boys aged 13 to 17 were most likely to be victims of targeted killings, the report says. The highest number of child deaths occurred in the governorate of Aleppo, where 2,223 were reported killed. Report co-author Hana Salama said that the way children are being killed is disturbing. “Bombed in their homes, in their communities, during day-to-day activities such as waiting in bread lines or attending school. “Shot by bullets in crossfire, targeted by snipers, summarily executed, even gassed and tortured,” she said.The data was provided by Syrian civil society groups recording casualties.

The Charity Commission has announced investigations into charities that have failed to file annual reports and accounts for at least two years. The regulator announced in September that it had opened a ‘class inquiry’ into charities with last-known annual incomes of £500,000 or more a year that had accounts outstanding for at least two of the past five years. Of these organisations, nine have since filed accounts. It has broadened the inquiry to include 12 charities with annual incomes between £250,000 and £500,000 that have failed to file accounts for two or more of the past

five years. They include the Muslim Cultural Society of Birmingham and the National Patients Support Trust, which both have accounts that are more than 1,000 days late. The Charity Commission originally identified 71 ‘double default’ charities, but only pursued inquiries into 12 because the others had either ceased to exist or were going into liquidation or administration, were already subject to existing compliance cases, or agreed to file their documents before the inquiry started. Failure to file accounts with the commission is a criminal offence, and trustees risk prosecution if they do not comply.

The 12 charities added to the investigation are: Achiezer, Cymmer Workmens Hall and Institute, Markazul Uloom, African Families Support Services, Jamiat-UlMuslemeen Quwat-Ul-Islam Masjed, The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of St Peter, Notting Hill, Michael Davies Charitable Settlement, Crawley Islamic Centre and Mosque, Muslim Cultural Society of Birmingham, Life Line Missions, The National Patients Support Trust, Hadley Playing Fields and Recreation Ground The commission said the parochial church council has since filed accounts and been removed from the inquiry.

Charity Commission investigates charities

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Ofcom invites 2014 Ramadan licence

Ofcom has announced details of the application process and draw for stations wanting to run restricted service licence broadcasts during Ramadan in June and July next year. The regulator says it expects a large number of applications and, since demand is high in certain areas of the UK for limited FM frequencies, is likely to have to allocate licences by drawing lots rather than on a firstcome first-served basis. Applicants wishing to provide a service in June or July 2014 are

invited to submit their application between 13 January and 17 January 2014. Ofcom said: “We intend to hold the draw soon after 17 January 2014 and will then inform successful applicants when technical checks have verified the availability of a suitable frequency, and payment of the fee has cleared through our bank. A recording of the draw will be made available via our website.” Applications for Ramadan RSLs next year cost £400, which is non-

Police fail to look into Islamophobic crimes A charity which records and measures anti-Muslim incidents in the UK has argued that the British police have failed to look into hundreds of cases of Islamophobic hate messages posted online. Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) says it has recorded 1,432 cases of anti-Muslim abuse over the last 22 months, but the police have only responded to 70 cases, the statefunded BBC news network reported. The monitoring group further criticized the British police for their poor response to anti-Muslim hate crimes, adding that it wrote a letter to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) last month to complain about police

inaction. “It is worrying for us, given that the number of call-backs and subsequently the number of investigations that have moved forward have been extremely small in comparison to the volume of hate crimes we have sent in to police forces,” Fiyaz Mughal, director of interfaith and anti-extremist organization Faith Matters which runs Tell MAMA, said. “That’s the level of what we are passing through and there have been numerous occasions where we have sent information about direct threats to mosques, which frankly we haven’t heard anything about. That is worrying,” Mughal pointed out.

refundable even if the applicant is unsuccessful in the draw. Applications for a service linked to a religious event (such as Ramadan) have to include a letter of support as set out in Ofcom’s guidance notes. Multiple applications from the same group for the same area aren’t permitted and organisations with a link to another group applying for a licence have to declare their connection. Ofcom also says non-Ramadan applications received for June-July may also have to be included in the draw if the area and broadcast dates overlap with a Ramadan applicant. Ofcom added: “RSL operators are reminded that if they wish to broadcast charity appeals they need to comply with the requirements of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code. The broadcaster needs to take reasonable steps to satisfy itself that the charity appeal organisation concerned can produce satisfactory evidence of charitable status, or, in the case of an emergency appeal, that a responsible public fund has been set up to deal with it.”


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Schedule 7 detainees entitled to solicitor

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I December 2013

A person detained for examination under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 is entitled to consult a solicitor in person at any time, the High Court ruled. The decision, in Elosta and Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and the Law Society v Secretary of State for the Home Department clarifies the scope of schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act and

LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS

follows a Law Society intervention in a judicial review against the Metropolitan Police. The Society argued that it is unlawful to restrict a person who has been detained at a port or airport under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act to being entitled to have legal advice only via telephone. In his judgment Mr Justice Bean said: ‘The detainee has the choice.

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The right may be exercised at any time during the period of detention and may be exercised repeatedly, although not in a manner which frustrates the proper purpose of the examination. If the solicitor attends in person he may be present during the interview… .’ Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said: ‘This case focuses on the right to consult a solicitor in a situation where individuals are extremely vulnerable. It raises an important issue not only to the legal profession but also to the public generally.’ He said that the Law Society intervened to establish that there is no doubt that detainees have a right to consult their solicitor in person once detained, and to emphasise the useful role solicitors play in advising detainees. ‘The presence of solicitors provides a fundamental safeguard to detainees and this ruling has clarified that in principle there is no sound reason why questioning of a detainee should not be delayed pending the arrival of a solicitor who can advise on what questions they are obliged to answer and explain the legal implications of refusing to do so.’

Bolton School issue apology after pork found in dessert Bolton Council’s chiefs have issued an apology after a pork product was discovered in chocolate mousse being served to Muslim youngsters as part of their school dinner. Bolton Council’s school meals service which provides dinners to many of the borough’s school is now working closely with Bolton Council of Mosques and an investigation is under way. The incident only involved Gaskell Community Primary School in Thomas Holden Street, Bolton,

and as soon as the ingredient pork gelatine was spotted, the dessert was withdrawn. Letters have been sent out to parents of children at the school apologising for the mistake and outlining what action will be taken. A Bolton Council spokesman said: “We would like to sincerely apologise for any upset caused to parents and children by this mistake. “This incident occurred at one school and we would like to stress that this was an isolated incident.

“A batch of frozen chocolate mousses was supplied by one of our food suppliers in place of the halal accredited frozen yoghurts that we had ordered. “When it came to our notice that the mousses contained pork gelatine they were immediately withdrawn. “We would also like to reassure the community that we are working closely with Bolton Council of Mosques and we are reviewing our own procedures to ensure that this does not happen again.


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I December 2013

Muslims threatened in Ireland by Christian extremist group

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An anonymous Christian extremist group in the Republic of Ireland has sent Muslim schools and mosques in the capital city of Dublin a letter threatening to attack any man, woman or child seen entering a mosque. Referring to a planned €40m mosque complex in Clongriffin, north Dublin, letter not only threatened Muslims living in Ireland, but also anyone who is thought to be Muslim. Denise Charlton, Chief Executive

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of the Immigrant Council, was quoted by the Irish Mirror saying: “The emergence of this letter and its threats is both sinister and alarming.” The letter contains much nationalistic rhetoric which has become ever more common in Europe lately, as the increasing population and political power of Muslims in the continent is for some testing the limits of multiculturalism and diversity.

Sweden Govt backs Halal meat in schools

The Swedish schools agency has ruled that serving of halal meat in schools does not break the law in response to complaints from parents who argued the practice breaches the non-denominational praxis of the Swedish education system. The Swedish Schools Inspectorate ruled that the law does not regulate the method of slaughter used for the meat served in schools, according to a report in the agricultural magazine ATL. Parents in Svedala in southern Sweden had reported a school to the agency for serving halal chicken arguing that the school meals fall under the non-denominational praxis of the Swedish education system.

The issue was discussed in the municipal council in September and has been the subjected of intense debate among locals and parents on social media. The municipality’s schools have been serving the chicken, which originates from Denmark, for the past four years. Halal slaughter follows old religious rules. Halal is any action or object which is permitted according to Islamic law. With regards to the slaughter of animals halal refers to the use of a sharp knife to make an incision to the throat. The animals should also be slaughtered while uttering the words “in the name of God”.

Palestine Expo launched in Venezuela An exhibition featuring the Islamic heritage of Palestine was launched in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas. According to Ma’an news agency, the Palestinian embassy in Caracas organized the exhibition in cooperation with Venezuela’s culture ministry. The expo, which opened on Friday, November 22, also features photos depicting the suffering of the Palestinian people under the Zionist occupation. It includes clips on settlement building by the Zionist regime in occupied lands, the suffering of Palestinian prisoners in Zionist jails and speeches by Palestinian figures. Some of the photos and clips presented at the exhibition show the Zionist regime’s aggressions on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Ibrahim (AS) Mosque in Al-Khalil.

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UN warns of deteriorating Gaza humanitarian situation www.pi-media.co.uk

I December 2013

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The humanitarian situation in Gaza has deteriorated one year after a truce that ended fighting between Israel and the Hamas rulers of the Palestinian enclave, UN officials said. “After 12 months the initial hopes for a significant improvement on the ground have not been realized,” said James Rawley, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories. “In fact I am sorry to report that situations for Gaza’s 1.7 million people is worse than it was before

the hostilities a year ago” between November 14 and 21, he said. Speaking at a news conference marking the anniversary, Rawley said the fuel and energy crisis was a primary cause of the situation. Robert Turner, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, noted the impact of the demolition of smuggling tunnels under the border since Egypt’s army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi on July 3. “The closures of the tunnels has led to a near total collapse of private sector constructions, as it

compounded the constraints due to the pre-existing ban on construction materials from Israel for the private sector,” said the UNRWA chief. Oxfam said Gazans were still “trapped under the Israeli blockade and largely cut off from the outside world” despite the ceasefire meant to allow the movement of people and goods in and out of the enclave. “Exports allowed out of Gaza have dropped by half since 2012 and Palestinian fishermen and farmers continue to be prevented from accessing the most productive areas,” the British charity said in a statement. The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel since 2006. The blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has expressed his hope to see Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Museum to be used as a mosque. “We currently stand next to the Hagia Sophia Mosque, we are looking at a sad Hagia Sophia, but hopefully we will see it smiling again soon,” Arınç said in a speech during the opening ceremony of a new Carpet Museum, located adjacent to the ancient Hagia Sophia complex. He cited two other complexes with the same name in Turkey that have recently been converted into mosques. “We have recently reopened two mosques with the same name to worship, one in İznik and the other in Trabzon. These were already mosques, but they were being used for different purposes,” Arınç said. “There were no legal objections about İznik’s Hagia Sophia, but there was one about Trabzon’s.

Arınç also referred to a real estate law, which states that “Worship places cannot be used for purposes other than their aims.” “Trabzon’s Hagia Sophia Mosque remained a mosque for centuries, but it turned into a museum after someone made a decision,” he

added, particularly criticizing the “selling of tickets” to enter these buildings. The status of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, with a number of campaigns to open it for Muslim prayers being initiated.

Turkey’s Hagia Sophia to become a Mosque


EU creates ‘drone club’

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Several European Union countries, including France and Germany, have agreed to form a “drone users club” to develop a rival to the US and Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In a meeting of EU defense ministers in Brussels, the participants approved a project to develop a “European generation” of drones in 10 years. Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain are the other members of the club. “If Europe hopes to maintain a strategic capability, countries must pool their capacities and actions in a pragmatic way,” said French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, adding

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that the European Defense Agency has been tasked with preparing a list of military prerequisites. Some European countries are concerned that in future, they may not be able to compete with their rivals in the area of military aviation. At present, EU countries take advantage of Israeli or US military drones, but they are not authorized to fly the aircraft in European airspace. In June, three major industrial groups, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, France’s Dassault Aviation and Italy’s Finmeccanica called for cooperation to develop a mediumaltitude, long-endurance UAV. During the French war in Mali

I December 2013

earlier this year, France was dependent on US drones as well as refueling planes. Germany already uses drones, such as the Israeli-built Heron 1 model, in Afghanistan and other countries. German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said last year that the country would cooperate with France to develop a new generation of assassination drones. “We have a gap in our capabilities that we would like to close,” he said. Washington uses assassination drones in several countries, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, claiming that they target “terrorists”. According to witnesses, however, the attacks have mostly led to massive civilian casualties. Last month, a United Nations report warned that the use of armed drones threatens global security and encourages more states to acquire unmanned weapons. “The expansive use of armed drones by the first states to acquire them, if not challenged, can do structural damage to the cornerstones of international security and set precedents that undermine the protection of life across the globe in the longer term,” the report said. The UN report noted that “drones come from the sky but leave the heavy footprint of war on the communities they target.

Displaced Muslims flock to Madrassa A year after Buddhist mobs forced almost all members of the minority Rohingya Muslim community from this northwestern Myanmar city, creating a state-sanctioned sectarian divide, thousands of children while away their long, empty days in dusty displacement camps. Because Rohingya children are no longer welcome in many government schools, the so-called Rohingya Village Madrassa on the outskirts of Sittwe has opened its doors to some of those boys and girls, teaching not just Islamic studies, as it did in the past, but Burmese and English. On some days more than 1,000

kids turn up. Their parents sit in small nearby tea shops where they can hear the steady hum of young voices reading out loud. Inside the dilapidated building, the children are tightly packed on the well-worn, wooden floor. A teacher patrols the room with a bamboo cane, trying to keep noise levels down. The madrassa gets almost no outside support. The staff is unpaid. And due to a shortage of textbooks, they struggle to get across even the basics. “We are doing what we can,” said Anowar, an eighth-grade teacher

who handles more than 65 students on his own at one time. “But it’s almost impossible especially the older kids. “We are seeing small improvements, though. Some children now can say their names in Burmese or can count.” Sittwe is the capital of Rakhine state, which last year was wracked by sectarian violence that has since spread to other parts of the country. Rohingya have been the main victims of the attacks, which have left more than 240 people dead and sent another 240,000 fleeing their homes. www.pi-media.co.uk


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I December 2013

WORLD NEWS

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Palestine vote for first time at UN

The State of Palestine casted its vote for the first time at the United Nations amidst applause by delegates of member states. Palestine voted to elect a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in accordance with the Statute of the International Tribunal, which allows Observer States to participate in the election of judges to the tribunal. The UN General Assembly voted last year to make Palestine a non-

member observer state at the world body giving it almost full privileges as member states. Commenting on this occasion, Foreign Minister Riyad Malki described the cast of the vote as “a historic moment for Palestine and its people as we continue our march towards freedom and full sovereignty.” “This vote brings the State of Palestine one step closer towards the realization of Palestine’s long

Switzerland to train prayer leaders

Swiss media say the country’s government plans to establish a national centre for training Muslim prayers leaders. According to rts website, the centre is planned to be set up in the University of Fribourg. The centre is said to be aimed at training Muslim religious figures to lead prayers in mosques and Islamic centres.

Those who wish to take the centre’s courses are required to have mastery over the languages spoken in Switzerland. Fribourg University officials say the plan for establishing the centre has not received the final approval yet. They say the centre is not an Islamic college and will not present Islamic courses to students but would acquaint those who have studied Islamic sciences in other countries with the Swiss culture and ways for promoting interfaith dialogue. There are an estimated 500,000 Muslims in Switzerland, accounting to around 6 percent of the total population.

overdue full membership at the United Nations,” said Malki. “It is an affirmation of the State of Palestine’s readiness to assume its rightful position among other sovereign and responsible states in the international community that uphold the rules and principles of international law and advance the cause of justice worldwide,” he said. Malki also welcomed “the warm” applause of the delegates representing the Member States of the United Nations accorded to this landmark moment, considering it “a clear indication of the international support to Palestine’s inalienable right to sovereignty and full membership at the international organization.” He said that “the State of Palestine is proud that its first vote at the United Nations General Assembly was to advance the cause of justice, which ultimately always prevails.” He concluded, “We believe that justice will also prevail, soon, in Palestine as oppression and impunity cannot outlast or defeat the powerful will of our proud people who will not tire until their march to freedom reaches its rightful destination.”

Saudi sword sells for one million euros A sword believed to have been symbolic in the creation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932 was sold in France for 955,400 euros (almost $1.3 million) at an auction held at the Fontainebleau, 60 kilometres from the capital Paris. The auction’s commissioner Jean Bayer Oosna told Agence France-Presse that the sword was purchased over the phone, and that the buyer did not disclose his name or his nationality. The initial value of the sword was estimated to be between 800,000 and 1.2 million euros. It sold for 955,400 euros. The framework of the sword is made of pure gold and steel, and the grip is made of ivory.


Turkey builds first underground mosque

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I December 2013

In Case Y o Missed It u

The first underground mosque has been constructed in Turkey’s Buyukcekmece district in Istanbul, the building that has won the first place in the World Architecture Fest competition for religious places. ‘’Mosques are places to contemplate and pray,’’ Mehmet Narin, the Mufti of Buyukcekmece, told the World Bulletin. Merging the essence of Islamic and ottoman designs with modernity, Sancaklar Mosque was inspired by Cave of Hira, where Prophet Muhammad (Peace upon him) first received prophecy. Built seven meters beneath the surface, the Mosque was constructed

by the Turkish architect Emre Arolat. The mosque, located on 1200 square meters under the ground, is enlightened by lead lanes and sunshine to cast a spiritual environment. Departing from standard mosque designs, the Sancaklar Mosque features a cavernous underground worship hall imbued with a special spiritual reverence. The architects note in their brief that their design ‘’aims to address the fundamental issues of designing a mosque by distancing itself from the current architectural discussions based on form and focusing solely on the essence of religious space.’’

Saudi tops Islamic funds market Saudi Arabia is the second largest market for Islamic funds globally with Assets Under Management (AUMs) exceeding $6 billion, according to a new study. The Kingdom accounts for 20 per cent of the global Islamic funds market, said Thomson Reuters, the leading provider of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. Earlier this year, Thomson Reuters launched the global Islamic asset management survey to gather market consensus on the state and direction of the global Islamic asset

management sector. The “Global Islamic Asset Management Report 2014,” prepared by Thomson Reuters in collaboration with Lipper, targeted both investors and asset managers in order to present a fuller picture of the Islamic asset management space. The report provides unique insights into the development of the sector, highlighting key milestones reached this year, critical challenges to growth, as well as proposed solutions to further develop the Islamic asset management sector. www.pi-media.co.uk

It has been under construction since May 2011 and is scheduled to be opened during the coming weeks. Offering a place for more than 650 worshippers, the mosque aims to void the shortage of mosques in the district. ‘’Due to the lack of mosques here in the Karaagac neighborhood, this one is needed,’’ the Mufti, Narin, added. ‘’This district is filled with villas but there was no mosque.’’ Being the world’s first underground mosque, the Sancaklar Mosque was designed without a minaret or a crescent. Approximately 99 percent of Turkey’s population is Muslim, the majority of whom are Sunni. Turkey has thousands of mosques, the most famous of which are Blue Mosque, which is marked with its blue tile work ornamenting its interior walls. In May 2012, the world’s first underwater mosque was built in north-western city of Tabuk in Saudi Arabia.

Belgium raises Palestinian diplomatic status

Belgium said it had raised the standing of a Palestinian diplomatic delegation to the country to “mission” status in a show of commitment to a two-state solution in the Middle East. A Belgian Foreign Ministry statement confirmed the change from “general delegation” to “mission” and that the head of the mission could use the title of ambassador.


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Drone killing may see fallout with Washington, says paper

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WORLD NEWS

Facebook closes some Hamas affiliated pages

The US drone attack that killed Taleban leader Hakimullah Mehsud may now see a fallout not visualised by Washington - on the Nato forces stationed in Afghanistan, according to a local newspaper. “More drone attacks are therefore likely to pound not just US foes but allies as well,” said the Dubai-based English language newspaper Khaleej Times, in an editorial comment. “Prior to their pullout, the multinational contingent faces a threat with their supplies in danger of being cut off, thanks to angry Pakistani local leaders. Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s ruling party in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa is now threatening to block Nato supplies which travel through his province unless the drone raids stop. It is an important transit corridor which will remain vital even after the troops pull out as their heavy guns, tanks and other gear will have to be taken out of Afghanistan through it.” The paper says Pakistan is likely to collect more than US$5 billion as fee for transit services but this golden goose is now in danger, following the differences between the local government and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over foreign policy issues. “If the provincial assembly goes ahead with the measure it has threatened, all Nato transit supplies would be halted from November 20.” “Sharif can’t be seeing as riding roughshod over the local government

since it has a strong socio-political base and the drone attacks have drawn widespread condemnation, partly directed at Sharif too for the perceived collusion with the bullying foreign power. To appease the public, Pakistan’s government has condemned the attack but just lip service may not do if Khan’s party really goes on the warpath. The other alternate route is through crisis-torn Balochistan province.” “However, it is a dangerous path and would increase the risk of greater fatality. With the Nato withdrawal date dawning closer, a reconciliation is needed to keep a safe exit route open. More drone attacks are therefore likely to pound not just US foes but allies as well,” the newspaper concluded.

The facebook administration arbitrarily closed a number of pages linked to the Hamas Movement, including the page of Ajnad news agency. The facebook pages of senior Hamas official Husam Badran and Sheikh Ahmed Yassin as well as the page of the Islamic bloc at Al-Khalil university were also shut down. For his part, Badran strongly denounced on his new facebook page such a measure and described it as arbitrary and unethical. He added that the facebook behavior reflected its double standard policy, unprofessionalism and its bias against Palestine and the legitimate rights of its occupied people. The Hamas official affirmed that the closure of his facebook account would never muzzle his voice and prevent him from communicating with others. Ajnad news agency also deplored the measure and said that the facebook administration unveiled its double face and its suppression of the Palestinian people’s right to use the cyberspace to express their views.

The Quran Radio is the most popular radio station in Morocco. This is according to statistics revealed by the Mitri Radio, Tanja7 website reported. Based on the figures, Radio Quran has the most number of listeners among the radio stations in the North African country. 17.69 percent of the Moroccans have listened to the Quran Radio

in a period beginning in July and ending in September. An FM private radio and the country’s national radio came second and third in terms of the number of listeners. Located in North Africa, Morocco is a Muslim-majority country where more than 98 percent of the population is Muslim. www.pi-media.co.uk

Qur’an radio best station in Morocco


Muhammad most popular name in the world - Report

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Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) has become the most popular name in the world, a new report says. Spanish daily ABC recently reported that some 150 million people across the world are named “Mohammad.” The report said that in addition

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to the populated Muslim countries, the name Mohammed enjoys a high frequency in numerous non-Muslim countries as it is said to be the most popular name for babies in some regions in France. The name also ranks sixth among the most popular names in Spain and

US drone strikes carried out from German base

Many US assassination drone strikes across the world are planned and carried out from bases in Germany’s soli, new media reports suggest. Several of the American terror drone operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Africa and the Middle East are organized from a US command centre in Stuttgart and an air base in Ramstein, German media reported. This comes while the US Embassy in Berlin rejected the reports and described them as speculations. The investigations also accused US forces of organizing the kidnapping and torture of terror suspects across the globe from Germany. German opposition parties criticized the government of aiding Washington with deadly drone strikes overseas. Left Party MP Jan van Aken blasted the German government for its alleged support for the US drone strikes, saying, “Such drone strikes

are executions without a charge or a verdict and they are illegal.” Speaking with Russia’s Englishlanguage news channel RT, German MP Sevim Dagdalen also accused the German government of “allowing all these operations and all these drone attacks by allowing the US military bases in Germany.” The US says the CIA-run drone strikes primarily kill Taliban militants who threaten the US-led international forces in neighboring Afghanistan, although casualty figures show that civilians are often the victims of these non-UN-sanctioned attacks. The United Nations had said the US-operated drone strikes in Pakistan and some other countries pose a growing challenge to the rule of international law. The UN and several human rights organizations have already identified the US as the world’s number one user of “targeted killings,” largely due to its drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

the UK, the report noted. Meanwhile, a recent study, conducted by Milan’s Chamber of Commerce and published on September 4, indicated that “Mohammed” has become the most popular name for small business owners in the Italian city of Milan.

First Eurozone Islamic bank planned for Luxembourg The Eurozone is to get its first Islamic bank after a consortium of [Persian] Gulf businessmen and a UAE royal family announced an agreement to set up a new lender headquartered in Luxembourg. Eurisbank will have a start-up capital of 60 million euros and is set to have branches in Paris, Brussels, The Netherlands and Frankfurt. The bank will offer services in retail, corporate and private banking. The consortium – which also includes an unnamed bank – plans to launch the new lender in the fourth quarter of 2014. Deloitte’s feasibility study of the bank demonstrated high return on investment, taking advantage of being the first Islamic lender to be based in the Eurozone. The investors and Deloitte have concluded a meeting with the CSSF – Luxemburg’s Supervisory Authority – which has welcomed the idea and gave directions to prepare the documents required to obtain a banking license. Deloitte and Excellencia Investment Management have been assigned to conduct all procedures and to finalise the establishment of Eurisbank.


Illegal park in West Bank speeds up

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I December 2013

WORLD NEWS

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In Case You Missed It

Halal services for Muslims in Argentina

Israel has speed up a controversial park project between two Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank, near East al-Quds (Jerusalem). The planned park will be built between the villages of Issawiya and Al-Tur, AFP reported. The project was announced at the end of October along with the construction of a further 1,500 homes in the illegal settlement of Ramat Shlomo in the area. Tel Aviv claims the park is aimed at preserving the environment, but Israeli media have quoted an employee of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority as saying that the project’s real aim is to block

Palestinian construction in the area. Since the resumption of the so-called peace talks, Israel has announced plans for building several thousands of new settler units in the West Bank and East al-Quds. More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967. The UN and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbids construction on occupied lands.

“Buenos Aires Halal” Plan is to be implemented in Argentina by the Islamic Center of the Republic in cooperation with government organizations of the country. According to medias24.com, the plan aims to train the staff of hotels and social centers of the capital city to be able to provide Muslim guests and tourists with services based on Islamic Shari’a. The participants in the plan will be instructed the principles of Islam and Islamic traditions and rituals. Qiblah (the direction that should be faced by Muslims while praying), serving Halal foods, hosting Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan and holidays in Islamic calendar are some of the themes to be discussed in the plan. Based on official status, there are about one million Muslims in Argentina, some 400000 of whom reside in Buenos Aires, the capital

International money transfers being monitored by CIA

The US Central Intelligence Agency is collecting records of international money transfers under the same law that the National Security Agency uses to collect Americans’ phone and Internet records, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported. The data, which includes records from companies such as Western Union Co, is part of a database of financial and personal information authorized under the Patriot Act, the newspapers reported, citing

unnamed current and former government officials. The data does not include transfers within the borders of the United States or bankto- bank transactions, they said. The CIA declined to comment on specific programs to both newspapers but said its operations comply with the law. Reuters could not immediately reach the CIA or Western Union for comment. The scope of data collection by

government became public earlier this year after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents describing how the government collects far more Internet and telephone data than previously known. The Obama administration and many lawmakers have defended the NSA programs as crucial in protecting US national security and helping thwart past militant plots.


I SPORT

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Australia clinches RL World Cup

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A record breaking crowd of 74,468 at Old Trafford saw Australia cruise past defending champions New Zealand in the Rugby League World Cup 2013. Australia went ahead 2-0 but soon after New Zealand brought it back to 2-2 but that was short lived as Australia turned on the style and by half time Australia lead 16-2. Start of the second half and New Zealand were caught sleeping and found themselves trailing 22-2. Australia’s defence, which had not conceded a try since the opening day of the tournament, proved as sturdy as ever. New Zealand looked like they were still very much recovering

from the brutal semi final encounter against England which they won with the last kick of the game. New Zealand number 12 and player of the year Sonny Bill Williams worked very hard throughout the game with little reward and his misery was compounded as his pass was picked out of the air by Hayne, who found Brett Morris to score his second of the game and seal the win for Australia 34 to New Zealand 2. England, Wales and France made the perfect host and with all games being sold out, Rugby League world cup had reached across the globe including Middle East and Asia courtesy of PI magazine social media platforms.

Community Champion Starr wins Award

A youth worker with Kirklees Council has received a White Rose Community Award for his positive contribution to the community. Starr Zaman, who supports the Batley, Birstall and Birkenshaw area within West Yorkshire team, was chosen for the award after leading a health and wellbeing programme at community venues based in deprived areas. The programme - called the Active Lifestyle Scheme - is nationally recognised as a model of good practice by the British Heart Foundation. It engages with groups of local people, encouraging them to take responsibility for their own health improving eating habits, increasing physical activities. Starr said: “I am overwhelmed to have received the award and to be in the company of outstanding, brave, courageous and influential people who have received an award from the White Rose shopping centre. The White Rose Awards, which are now in their second year, are presented by White Rose Shopping Centre, Leeds, in recognition of people who do outstanding work to benefit the community.

Ribery: I feel stronger since I have become Muslim In Case You Missed It

French football player Ribery speaking to Anadolu Agency said that religion was his privacy and he felt stronger since he preferred Islam. French football player Ribery speaking to Anadolu Agency said that religion was his privacy and he felt stronger since he preferred Islam Frank Ribery playing in Bayern Munchen in German Bundesliga said that Istanbul and the Turkish football fans were wonderful. I felt like kings in Turkey when I was playing for Galatasaray, said

Ribery. “My religious belief is my privacy. I am a believer and I feel developed spiritually and strong since I preferred to be a Muslim,” added the famous football player. Ribery also said that he worked in construction companies with his father to live off. The experienced footballer also stated that he wanted to go to Brazil in order to attend the world cup matches. Otherwise it would be difficult for him to win the Golden Ball award.


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Rugby star embraces Islam

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I December 2013

led him to this path. Ferguson further said that he has found peace and tranquility in Islam and that he would try to improve his conduct. After the news of Ferguson’s conversion spread, many famous athletes and prominent figures who have embraced Islam in recent years congratulated him on his decision including Sonny Bill Willams who. www.pi-media.co.uk

Famous Australian rugby league star Blake Ferguson has converted to Islam. The 23-year-old announced his conversion in a mosque in Sydney but gave no further details, ajib website reported. Ferguson recited the Shahadatayn (Ashhadu an la Ilaha Illallahu Vahdahu la Sharika lahu va Ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu va Rasuluh- I bear witness

that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad (PBUH) is His servant and messenger) in a ceremony at the mosque. The ceremony was attended by Muslim worshipers and the boxer Anthony Mundine, who is also a new Muslim convert. Ferguson told the media that choosing Islam is a personal issue and that he is happy for selecting Islam. He also thanked those who

‘Rabaa salute’ player suspended Leading Egyptian football club Al-Ahly suspended a striker who flashed the now-famous “Rabaa salute” after scoring a goal in a pivotal African championship match. After scoring in the game’s 77th minute, Ahmed Abdel-Zaher flashed the iconic hand-sign commemorating the hundreds of protesters killed during the August 14 dispersal of a sit-in staged by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square. Abdel-Zaher’s goal secured the team’s 2-0 victory over South Africa’s Orlando Pirates and a record eighth African title for Al-Ahly.

The move by Abdel-Zaher has reignited controversy over the relationship between sports – especially football, which in Egypt is almost a national obsession – and politics. The Cairo club says it has suspended the player and frozen his salary pending investigation of the incident. Club spokesman Gamal Gabr said the penalty was merely a “preliminary measure” until the club’s board of directors takes a final decision. In a statement, Sports Minister Taher Abu Zeid said the incident

“could not go unpunished.” The Egyptian Football Association, meanwhile, has said it plans to “investigate” the player. Abdel-Zaher told AA that making the gesture did not mean he was a member of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, stressing that he had flashed the sign in memory of the victims of August’s sit-in dispersal. The footballer was not the first Egyptian athlete to raise the controversial sign. Last month, the Egyptian Kung Fu Federation barred player Mohamed Youssef from contesting the 12th World Wushu Championships in Malaysia. Youssef had earlier given the Rabaa salute – and worn a bright yellow t-shirt emblazoned with the symbol – while receiving a gold medal at an international championship in the Russian city of St. Petersburg. Days later, another Egyptian kung fu player, Hisham Abdel-Hamid, flashed the Rabaa sign at a training session for the Egyptian national team in Malaysia.


Three Days in Muscat: Sultanate of Oman

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The first thing that impressed me at Muscat airport was the speedy entry clearance followed by a warm welcome by a visa officer who spoke fluent Urdu. In the past few years travelling across the world has helped me to develop unique feelings; while entering into most localities I instantaneously sense the presence of peace and composure in the atmosphere. Muscat has both peace of heart and mind and indeed there are numerous reasons behind this thought. Perhaps, the discovery of oil and its wealth has had little effect on Omani’s in contrast to few neighbouring places in the Arabian Peninsula where a considerable level of arrogance has emerged as a result of excessive oil wealth. One couldn’t resist my quest to search for reasons that creates such humility within the Omani peoples.

Quickly it dawned upon me after reading historical texts that as the Omanis embraced Islam this fact caught the attention of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who supplicated dua (pray) for them, which is also visible in a valid Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says, “God’s mercy be on the people of Al Ghubaira.” [The people of Oman] “They have believed in me although they had not seen me.” Surely it is Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) dua’s that until today Oman remains peaceful, prosperous and had successfully pushed away its enemies throughout its illustrious history. The blessings for the Omani people continue in a rich vein as Caliph Hazrat Abu Bakr Al-Sidiq, (RA) also said, “People of Oman you; you have entered Islam voluntarily although the Prophet has not come

to your land on foot or on horse. You have not opposed him as other Arabs opposed him, and you have not called for separation or dispersion. May God unite you in benevolence” Thus these sacred words remind us that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his most beloved companion Hazrat Abu Bakr Al-Sidiq, (RA) expressed exceptional adoration that have blessed Omanis until the present-day. One is living proof of the sacred prayers effects which are in full swing in Muscat. Another amazing fact to report on is that despite, a rich culture, blue shores, superb mountain ranges, deserts and green valley’s such as Wadis, world heritage sights, beach hotels, noteworthy palaces, Oman receives scant publicity within the global media fraternity perhaps in part due to its trouble-free environment that


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ultimately provides little room for sensational news. Whilst driving from the airport to the city centre, one cannot but notice an abundance of contemporary buildings, mostly governmental in nature and all in white colour, standing high under clear blue skies. State of the art shopping malls adorn the skyline, beautiful mosques featuring artistic coloured minarets, green parks with palm and dates trees, busy restaurants punctuate the streets. Muscat possesses wide and clean roads with pavements and small parking slots. Looking at the sidewalks, I felt a sense of comfort (Sakoon) in my heart that runs throughout the journey until I reached my first destination. As the anonymous proverb goes on saying that ‘a best journalist gets two stories in a penny ride’ I was talking, filming and making notes at the same time perhaps because of sheer excitement that lasted all the way through. In the first instance, I learnt the presence of tranquillity in the atmosphere that is unusual but in fact a combination of two things, justice and kindness that runs from the top (His Highness the Sultan) himself to a considerable extent to the bottom (ordinary people). This coupled with the fact where ever I went in Muscat I found nothing but humility and warmness. My host Javed Chaudhry, a young self-made inspirational individual

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and a well established educationalist quickly deduced my query and informed me that a few illustrations of Sultan Qaboos displaying his just nature which to him perhaps is indicative of peace prevailing across the whole of Oman. He also added to this, his own experience with police who had treated him fairly and in a praiseworthy manner. I naturally enquired about the conditions experienced by Pakistani migrant workers in Oman, once again Javed offered me an example of Abdul Sattar Basra, a renowned Pakistani engineer, who owns a farmhouse and Omani citizenship was bestowed upon him by none other than His Highness Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al-Said in recognition of his services to the

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country. In such a short time, one came to the conclusion that living conditions for Pakistanis and other foreign workers are indeed comparatively better than other Gulf States despite the presence of possible challenges along the way. As a frequent traveller to the region, my judgement may not be shared by all concerned. Back at the University of Leeds, a fellow PhD researcher complains of the disparity in the pay-scales of European and nonEuropeans, and certainly this is an undeniable reality as one may face this at airports and other places across the Gulf region. Nationals of Britain and European backgrounds enjoy leverage and much more reverence compares to their fellow human beings of subcontinental origins. But what makes Oman a bit more open and different is the polite nature of its inhabitants. As we stopped by the Lulu Centre to my surprise I felt like that I was in Leeds, like Tesco Extra, where you have almost everything under one roof. Knowing that my stay was only going to last for three days, Javed had already planned my time in a calculating fashion that allowed me to visit Matrah seafront (Corniche Matrah), fort and a Mutrah bazaar. If you go towards Matrah seafront almost every roundabout displays numerous signs of Omani culture looks pleasing to eyes. Muttrah is the world largest natural harbour, alongside the road and particularly on the roundabouts you cannot but notice that cultural presentations such as Gahwa Kettle


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(Midlah) and figurine of fishes which are important source of food in Oman. Also, the Omani national symbol, a special curved dagger (Khanjer) is slightly different from the Kirpan that Sikhs carry along. Young and old wear it with dishdasha (traditional dress) at weddings and national festivals. Of course Omani dress is incomplete without Mesar, a traditional cap that is also known as Emama or Ghitra. Muttrah is surrounded by high black colour dry mountains complimented with blue seashore and thus indeed is the best place in Oman to visit. The entire seafront is endowed with decorated marble and wooden benches, lovely restaurants, and it also exhibits traditional ships standing at the port. For those of who admire walking alongside the seafront here at ‘Mutrah Corniche’ where the oldest Souq is situated whilst on the top of mountain stands a landmark white colour round shaped incense burner and a must see ancient fortress made of mud and stones. For food lovers, the seafront offers unique mix of traditional Omani foods and also savoury snacks at reasonable prices from all over the world. Again, one may not escape from the beautiful wooden ceiling with glass work in the middle carrying pictures of the dagger and the Midlah or Surahie (tea kettle) regarded as an integral part of Omani culture.

It also highlights the view that hospitality is their DNA that I always experienced that back in Leeds with my colleagues Ibrahim Al-Mujaini, Muhammad Al-Ghafri, Ahmad Mahroos and Omar Swafi. From this point onwards, I took the pleasure of visiting Pakistan School Muscat, the birth place of Javed’s passion that earns him Chairmanship of the Board of Directors of Pakistan School System in Oman since 2010. I met the School’s Senior Principle Muhammad Zakariya Babur who embraced me warmly especially after hearing that I was a journalist and a researcher. He began to brief me about Pakistan School Muscat where around 2, 200 students are

www.pi-media.co.uk I December 2013 seeking knowledge under highly motivated and carefully selected professional educationalists. The total number of students does not exceed 4,500 and currently study at other four branches of the school established in Salalah, Sohar, Musanna, Nizwa and Seeb. An hour long stopover also included talks with teachers and students alike. Passing through the corridors, I noticed extraordinary paintings and displays of art work belonging to schoolchildren who also excel in inter-school competitions from debates to games. Walking along the school grounds, I saw children playing cricket and at that particular moment, I felt that I was at Sir Syed College Wah Cantt, a teen, who has no liability whatsoever and is free from all sorts of worries. GOSH! If there is a time machine out there that will take us back to school days? I would recommend to those passionate overseas Pakistanis planning to set-up similar network of schools perhaps in other Gulf and European countries. Pakistan School Muscat is indeed a living example and can be accessed via http://www. pakistanschool.edu.om/ On our return from school, I slowly begin to observe that Omanis are adaptive to other cultures and continental food like Brits who admire curry, which has gained a title of ‘celebrative dish’ here. Soon I count the presence of variety of Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian restaurants and cuisines.


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The first evening, begins at a local Pakistani restaurant where I tasted biryani and kebabs and also revelled in drinking coconut juice at the nearby Bangladeshi spot after the dinner. Omer Iqbal Chaudhary Pakistan School Muscat Student: During the warm weather, it brings you a soothing comfort, another added feature is the way sellers chop big coconuts greatly increases your appetite. Omanis own several distinctions in food, culture and everyday life style. I guarantee the fragrance of Bukhoor and its thick smoke help turn the atmosphere pleasant around you while Omani cuisines like Qabsa with green salads further increase your appetite. Oman’s mouth-watering sweet, Halwa, is another indispensable item on the menu which has various different types but the basic ingredients remain the same such as dates and almonds etc. People living on seafront still cherish fish as their main course of food and on top of it a cup of warm Gahwa or Kahwa completely refreshes the soul. What is important for foreigners is to learn local customs for example your host will continue to fill in your small cup of Gahwa each time until you turn it upside down. The next day was Friday, a commonly observed weekly holiday in many Muslim countries. We went to pray in a magnificent, notable and must see Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque covering approximately 416,000 square meters. The most distinguishing feature is its architecture that is a unique mix of Islamic art from various different periods and regions across the world. The idea of five minarets reflect the five pillars of Islam while the adjacent garden and trees and fountains promote the idea of Islamic gardens mainly derived from the Holy Quran chapter Al-Rehman. The grandeur of the entrances doors (Mehrabs) resembles one in Spain, Bukhara and Samarkand. Not a single inch of this beautiful mosque is left without décor, the incredible wooden ceiling, blue coloured glass windows, and

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masterpiece Persian carpets, white marbled sermon place decorated with flowers for the imam all shows stunning illustration of calligraphy and arabesques which are incomparable. One cannot but notice that chandeliers made of most expensive Swarovsky crystals while the cornice of the dome is coated in gold. The precincts of the mosque are marked with covered pathways (Veranda) similar to the sixteenth century Badshahi Mosque in Lahore and Sultan Ahmet’s blue Mosque in Istanbul. In these locations the light brown colour marble tile work recalls great Islamic dynasty founded by Hulagu Khan’s descendant Mahmud Ghazan (695-703/1295-1304) who after embracing Islam brought profolic designs of tiles and gave it a splendid mix of Islamic touches. The original ‘Kashi’ or ‘Kashi Kari’ tiles are named after a region called ‘Kashan’ and become known to Samarkand and Bukhara in later centuries. In addition, the mosque also celebrates the work of Safavids (16th-18th) century that brought new colour scheme in tiles thus by highlighting geometric features which are visible in historic buildings built by Turks in Agra, Delhi, Samarkand and Lahore. In corridors alongside the lawns each niche is different in shape, composition and design deeply rooted in the concept of ‘flowers of heaven’. After I finished my Salah, I began to wish I could have spent some more time in this unrivalled mosque during Ramadan. If I were to explain this marvellous piece of art in three simple words they would be; Jewel of Muscat!

Seeing ordinary people praying for Sultan Qaboos long life and health, I begin to think about the end day and that how each one of us has to go to an eternal place leaving behind an opulent life. A particular subject that struck a chord with me was whether Sultan wants to rest here like Turkish Sultans most of whom are resting in their mosques lawns. My last day in Muscat was so wonderful and memorable that I made a note of this visit in my personal diary. On this day, I met a renowned Pakistani Engineer Abdul Sattar Basra, who invited us to his farm house called ‘Barka’ where for the first time in my life I actually saw a black coloured camel! At first, I thought he was an Omani friend of our host because he was dressed in proper Omani traditional clothes. He showed us a nearby small dam that he himself designed, fenced with large stones covered with iron knit to collect rainwater for irrigation purposes. This extraordinary service to Oman wins him a farm house while he remains the first Pakistani who lived in a palace where his daughter was born. The three hour long stay at his farm taught me a great number of things; Basra was born into a family that had to face troubles of migrating to Pakistan during 1947 where after losing worldly possessions they had to start from scratch. His success story has many lessons for those who believe in Allah SWT. Honesty and strengthening Iman (faith) by being generous mean that no one can stop them from being happy and successful not only here but also in the life hereafter. By: Irfan Raja


The significance of making a Will in Islam

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Unquestionably it is one of the most sensitive subjects of all and yet little attention is given to writing a Will. In accordance with Shariah law this issue has been dealt with in several verses of the Holy Quran and in some hadiths: ‘it is not rightful for a Muslim person, if he has anything to bequeath, that he sleeps two consecutive nights without having a Will written with him (Narrated Abdullah bin Umar Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 51, Number 1)’ So why is it important to have a Will and must it be written? A Will in its basic form is a set of instructions left by the deceased for his appointed trustees or guardians for the benefit of his nearest and dearest. These instructions deal with the distribution of his estate among his beneficiaries, and also deal with his instructions for example who is to take care of the young and pay for their education or maintenance, paying the mortgage, elderly care, funeral arrangements and so forth. These instructions can vary depending on the size and value of the estate. It is not a fundamental requirement for a Will to be written but it certainly does help when there is a dispute between the

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beneficiaries over who is entitled to what from the estate. It also assists trustees when applying for probate and can save court time and cost in contested probate litigation which is often lengthy and expensive. So, in cases where the family of the deceased is left without any money and the bank has frozen the deceased’s assets, the court can exercise the wishes of the deceased and grant an order to release money as per the Will intended. The benefits of writing a Will are many. It helps the person to consider carefully his obligations towards his next of kin, funeral arrangements, appoint trustees and guardians in the case of children, plan his tax & trust liability and deal with the concept of ‘fidya’. Fidya is compensation which is usually paid when a person has missed his obligatory fasts, prayers, zakat, hajj and so forth. Provided he has the means to pay and this does not exceed 1/3 of his estate. However it must be borne in mind that he is obliged to make up these in his lifetime while he has the ability and means to do so. ‘A man and woman makes ibadat of Allah Ta’ala for 60 years but

when the time of death comes, they make a Will that causes harm to the heirs jahannam becomes compulsory on them.’ (Narrated by Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (R). Having dealt with the issue of writing a Will and this being written down for reasons aforementioned, an Islamic Will must apportion a fixed share for each of the beneficiaries. The percentage each beneficiary receives is set out in Surah Nisa, Chapter 4, verses 7-11. For example, if a single person passes away and he has something to give, he must leave 2/3 of his estate to his father and 1/3 to his mother. He does have the option to leave up to 1/3 of his estate to other family members, friends or charity but this share cannot exceed 1/3 as it would then mean he is giving away part of the fixed share his parents are entitled to receive, or causing them ‘harm’ for the purposes of the above quoted hadith. For married couples the shares are different and if there are children, grandchildren and grandparents and siblings then the shares are different. A Will also helps

I December 2013

plan ones tax and trust liability and in most cases this can be reduced or even eliminated altogether. Inheritance tax or ‘death tax’ as it is sometimes known is not a compulsory tax but rather it is only payable upon death. Currently the tax free threshold is £325,000 which means if the deceased owns property worth more than this amount; it will attract a 40% tax on death. So if we assume the estate was worth £425,000, a £40,000 tax would be payable to the HMRC on death. This would be binding on the beneficiaries and in most cases they would have to sell the assets of the deceased to repay this tax. However, by careful planning, this can be avoided. It is recommended that a Will is updated at least every 5 years to account for changes in domestic and financial circumstances. Where a party is married or divorced or property is bought and sold, a Will should also be made. To write your Will or to find out more, please contact NR Legal Solicitors on 020 8509 1681 or by email on enquiries@nrlegal.co.uk

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