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Government code of Israel faces expulsion Striving for God Consciousness conduct for Madrasas from football - FIFA

Racism on The Rise in Britain Issue: 75

ÂŁ1

June 2014

Contrast poll shows that Britain views its Muslims more favourably than other European countries

Approved by

The proportion of Britons who admit to being racially prejudiced has risen since the start of the millennium, raising concerns that growing hostility to immigrants and widespread y rtified b

Islamophobia are setting community relations back 20 years. New data from NatCen’s authoritative British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey, obtained by the Guardian, shows that

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after years of increasing tolerance, the percentage of people who describe themselves as prejudiced against those of other races has risen overall since Continued on page 3 2001. follow us on You Tube

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2

I Editorial

thePassion

www.pi-media.co.uk I June 2014

By Daoud Kuttab

Award Winning Palestinian Journalist

Detention without trial common in ‘democratic’ Israel

Imagine being stopped at an Israeli checkpoint and being taken into custody. Then finding yourself in an Israeli jail for six months without charge or trial. After six months, the administrative order signed by a military commander is renewed. An Israeli military judge is presented a secret file which neither you nor your lawyer are allowed to see. Within minutes your nightmare is extended for another six months. And this same thing happens again and again. During this entire period you are held without charge or trial, based on the antiquated British 1945 Emergency Regulations that the current rulers of Israel were so critical of that they compared it to Nazi laws. The above is not a fictional story and it does not take place in North Korea or a Third World dictatorship. At present, 186 Palestinian doctors, parliamentarians and teenagers are held without charge or trial by Israel, a country that calls itself the Middle East’s only democracy. Administrative detention is rejected by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International as well as Israeli human rights groups such as Btselem and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, in addition to Palestinian human rights organizations such as Al Haq and the Independent Centre for Citizen’s rights. It is a violation of international humanitarian law as well as of the basic tenets of justice that demand

the right of a defendant to be charged and tried in court. Palestinian prisoners have regularly protested such illegal and inhumane detention, most often by going on extensive hunger strikes with simultaneous protest campaigns in Palestine and around the world. These efforts have sometimes made Israel not renew some of the most egregious cases, such as when a person had been detained continuously for five or six consecutive six-month terms. But within months of being free, the same persons are sometimes picked up again and the process starts anew without any concern for this violation of international humanitarian law. On April 26, most administrative detainees went on hunger strike. A campaign began outside the prison cell in support of these unjustified prolonged detentions. Two years ago, Adnan Khader’s campaign used his hashtag to rally international support and that effort succeeded in forcing the Israelis not to renew his and a few others’ detention as part of a deal with prisoners to stop their hunger strike. Palestinians and their supporters are again using Twitter and Facebook, using the hashtag #waterandsalt as well as #stopAD, to raise awareness about this Israeli form of punishment. Ironically the country that produced the emergency regulations which is Israel’s legal basis for the extended detention denounced the Israeli abuse of these order.

The United Kingdom, in its most recent human rights report, called on Israel to curtail the use of administrative detention as a tool of punishment “Administrative detention should only be used when absolutely necessary for reasons of security, and as a preventive, not punitive, measure.” Palestinians believe firmly that these arrests are a form of punishment. The fact that Israel is unable to charge these individuals in its military courts, which are not known for their evenhandedness towards the Palestinians, is the best proof that the Israelis are using the antiquated emergency laws to punish individuals for a wide assortment of reasons. The administrative detention scheme is often a weapon used by the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency. Many Palestinians complain that this is one of the favorite weapons used by the Shin Bet to recruit agents from among Palestinians. If the individuals they are targeting refuse to become agents, they threaten and then carry out their threats to hold them indefinitely in jail using the administrative detention orders. This is why it is the Shin Bet that presents at the six-month intervals the secret files which cannot be challenged or questioned by the prisoners or their lawyers, allowing the Israeli intelligence agents to fabricate any fact to justify the detention. The time has come for the world community, especially Israel’s Western allies, to ask it to stop its continued abuse of Palestinian rights. The Israeli Knesset passed a law to ban the use of the emergency regulations in Israel. It is time that this law also be enforced on the Israeli army and intelligence in the occupied territories.

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 PI


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I June 2014

NEWS

I3

Continued from front page

Racism on The Rise in Britain Contrast poll shows that Britain views its Muslims more favourably than other European countries

The findings come as political leaders struggle to deal with the rise of the UK Independence party, which campaigned on an anti-immigrant, anti-EU platform and has sent shockwaves through the political establishment and put pressure on mainstream parties to toughen their stances on immigration. In an echo of the voting patterns of Ukip supporters in European elections, the figures paint a pattern of a nation geographically divided – with London reporting the lowest levels of racial prejudice. Older men in economically deprived areas are most likely to admit to racial prejudice. The data is in stark contrast to other indicators of social change such as attitudes to same-sex relationships and sex before

marriage. By those measures, the UK has become a more accepting, liberal country. The data was taken from the BSA survey carried out by NatCen Social Research and includes exclusive figures from the 2013 survey due to be published next month. It shows a broad decline in the proportion of people who said they were either “very or a little prejudiced” against people of other races – from a high of 38% in 1987 to an all-time low of 25% in 2001. In contrast a European poll shows that UK views its Muslims more favourably than other European countries According to a recent poll from the US-based Pew Research Centre, the UK has a more favourable opinion of its Muslim community than any other

European country surveyed. The poll carried out in relation to the Euro elections found that 26% of Britons had an “unfavourable” view of Muslims in the country (64% were “favourable”), whereas in Italy 63% said they had an unfavourable view of Muslims with only 28% saying they have a favourable view. In answer to the question “Do you have a favourable or unfavourable view of Muslims in your country”, the full results were: Italy: 63% unfavourable; 28% favourable, Greece: 53% unfavourable; 43% favourable, Poland: 50% unfavourable; 32% favourable, Germany: 33% unfavourable; 58% favourable, France: 27% unfavourable; 72% favourable, UK: 26% unfavourable; 64% favourable. www.pi-media.co.uk


ICC reopens investigation of British Iraq war crimes 4

I

LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS

The International Criminal Court (ICC) says it has reopened an initial investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by British troops after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement from the Hague-based court that the initial probe was reopened after new allegations of prisoner abuse were submitted. “The new information... alleges the responsibility of officials of the United Kingdom for war crimes involving systematic detainee abuse in Iraq from 2003 to 2008,” Bensouda

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said. In January, her office received documents from the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) together with the Birminghambased Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), alleging British involvement in torture. The documents were based on interviews with over 400 Iraqi prisoners. According to the ECCHR and PIL dossier, Iraqi victims were subjected to severe physical and psychological abuse at the hands of British forces. British soldiers at “military detention facilities and other

I June 2014

locations” allegedly used sensory deprivation, protracted stress positions as well as beatings, burning and electrocution against Iraqi inmates, the dossier noted. The ECCHR said prisoners were threatened with rape and death, sexually assaulted and subjected to “forced exposure to pornography and sexual acts between soldiers.” Those who carry responsibility are “situated at the highest levels, including all the way up the chain of command of the UK army, and implicating former secretaries of state for defense and ministers for the armed forces personnel.” Britain’s Attorney General Dominic Grieve has dismissed the claim that British troops had carried out “systematic abuse” in Iraq. Bensouda should now decide whether to ask ICC judges’ permission to start a full investigation. UK forces participated in the US-led invasion of Iraq in a blatant violation of international law in 2003 under the pretext that the regime of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons were ever discovered in Iraq.

US to spend £200m creating UK Intel hub

Washington is to spend almost £200m to turn one of its British military bases ~ already implicated in mass surveillance and drone strikes ~ into one of its largest Intelligence hubs outside the mainland USA. RAF Croughton, a US Air Force (USAF) base near Milton Keynes, which has a direct cable link to Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) at Cheltenham, is to be the site for an ultra-secure Intelligence centre staffed by up to 1,250 personnel and covering operations in Africa, a current focus for US counter-terrorism activities. The $317m (£189m) project, which includes an installation for the Defense Intelligence Agency, the

Pentagon’s main military espionage service, underlines RAF Croughton’s position as a centre for clandestine and classified US communications in Britain. Once complete in 2017, the facility will be comparable in number of personnel and operational importance to RAF Menwith Hill, the National Security Agency (NSA) listening station in North Yorkshire. Like Menwith Hill, it is likely to be co-staffed with representatives of British Intelligence, including GCHQ. The Independent, the sister title of The Independent on Sunday, revealed last year that RAF Croughton was used to funnel back to Washington data from a global network of spy bases inside US embassies, including

the secret Berlin facility alleged to have been used by the NSA to listen in on the mobile phone of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. The British base, which currently serves as a relay station for CIA agent communications, is also at the centre of claims that it is used as a support site for US drone strikes operated from Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti against Al Qaida targets inside Yemen. Campaigners and senior politicians said the massive investment in RAF Croughton raised fresh questions about the oversight of US bases in Britain, which are governed by a 1950s agreement with Washington drawn up in a different age of surveillance technologies.


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Government code of conduct for UK Madrasas www.pi-media.co.uk

I June 2014

A voluntary code of conduct to regulate teaching in madrasas in Britain is due to be announced this month by the education secretary, Michael Gove. Over the past decade, ministers from all parties have expressed unease at the inability to regulate teaching in the schools, which offer supplementary education outside of mainstream schooling. But they have held back partly due to the amount of regulation that would be required. The Mosques and Imams National

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Advisory Board already promotes good governance in mosques and imam training institutions through a process of voluntary self-regulation, and the charity claims to have over 600 members. There are as many as 2,000 madrasas known to local authorities in the UK and whose staff have undergone all the checks required to teach children in a safe and secure environment. The proposed code would require madrasas to ensure that teachers are

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vetted by police, and that students are not subjected to corporal punishment. The schools would agree to adopt a syllabus that prevents fundamentalist teaching. A Whitehall official said madrasas would be offered official recognition if they agreed to sign up to the new code. “The code will make sure that all teachers are CRB [Criminal Records Bureau] checked, and that no corporal punishment is dealt out,” the official said. “The schools may also be required to teach a standard syllabus, because right now they can teach whatever they want. The syllabus will be supportive of the government’s preventingextremism strategy, so there will be no fundamentalist teaching. “The incentive for the supplementary schools is that the DfE [Department for Education] will consider publishing their names on its website to give them a bit of prestige and differentiate them from the unregistered schools.”

UK Islamic finance to create 1m jobs A million professional Islamic finance jobs are expected to be created worldwide by 2020, according to the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF). Participating in the first UKBahrain Islamic Finance Summit, the institute presented a paper on educational and training development in Islamic finance, reported the Gulf Daily News. It highlighted the importance of co-operation to build excellence in this area, a critical need which underpins the future of the industry. The summit was hosted by Senior Foreign Office Minister Baroness Sayeeda Warsi at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. The high-level Bahraini delegation was led by Central Bank

of Bahrain Governor Rasheed Al Maraj. BIBF director Solveig Nicklos and head of centre for accounting and finance, research and advisory, IT and Islamic finance Burhanu Deen Jayah represented the local educational sector. The paper highlighted several trends and facts that come as part of the continually growing Islamic financial sector, which in 2012 had an asset valuation of more than $1,350 billion. It also highlighted that this has produced a paradigm shift from an educational standpoint in Organisation of Islamic Cooperation countries and will generate multiple specialised training opportunities for human capital development within the

sector. “It is important that we serve the growing demand for Islamic finance professionals, stemming from an industry that is growing at 15 per cent annually,” Jayah said. “There is a need to develop professionals with skills related to Sharia and finance, so they will be in a better position to serve the market and take the industry to the next level,” he added. The BIBF team also participated in many panel discussions during the event, focusing on investment (how Islamic finance can facilitate investment opportunities), education (promoting excellence in Islamic finance education), and regulation (how to ensure that the conditions are right for Islamic finance to mainstream even further)


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UK rendition victim released after ten years in secret US custody

The US has released Yunus Rahmatullah, a Pakistani citizen held at Bagram Airbase for ten years without charge, trial, or access to a lawyer after his capture by British forces in Iraq and subsequent rendition to Afghanistan in 2004. After years of government denials that the UK had been involved in any rendition operations, Mr Rahmatullah’s capture by British forces was finally revealed to Parliament in February 2009 by then-Secretary of State for Defence John Hutton. Despite admitting playing a part in Mr Rahmatullah’s illegal detention and transfer, the government persisted in refusing to assist him. As a result legal action was brought on Mr Rahmatullah’s behalf. The UK government subsequently revealed that British officials were aware of a US intention to transfer Mr Rahmatullah from Iraq to Afghanistan at the time, yet did nothing to prevent it. In 2012, the UK Supreme Court suggested that his rendition may

have amounted to a war crime, stating: “The, presumably forcible, transfer of Mr Rahmatullah from Iraq to Afghanistan is, at least prima facie, a breach of article 49 [of the fourth Geneva Convention]. On that account alone, his continued detention post-transfer is unlawful.” Mr Rahmatullah is said to be in a grave mental and physical condition as a result of sustained abuse in UK and subsequently US custody. The news comes as the US Senate’s Intelligence Committee prepares to release its long-awaited report on the use of torture by the CIA, which is expected to implicate UK officials in the abuses of the ‘war on terror.’ The legal charity Reprieve and law firm Leigh Day have brought legal proceedings on Mr Rahmatullah’s behalf to force the UK government fully to investigate his rendition and torture. Kat Craig, Legal Director at Reprieve, said: “After ten years of unimaginable abuse and

imprisonment at the hands the British and US forces, Yunus Rahmatullah deserves a full investigation into the circumstances of his capture. He must receive justice, so that he and his family can move on and return to some semblance of their old, peaceful life. As its pernicious role in the worst abuses of the ‘war on terror’ continues to come to light, the British government must hold its hands up and right the wrongs of the past.” Rosa Curling, solicitor at Leigh Day, said: “The UK government must now take immediate steps to investigate the role it played in Mr Rahmatullah’s mistreatment and abuse. The UK authorities transferred our client in to US custody, when it knew there were was a real risk such a transfer would expose him to torture, mistreatment and abuse. “We hope the UK government will now finally agree to conduct the investigation needed so Mr Rahmatullah, and the UK public in general, can finally know what role our government played.”


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Charity Commission opens statutory inquiry into Islamic charity

The regulator has responded to concerns about decision-making and due diligence at the Islamic Education and Research Academy in north-west London. The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into an Islamic information and education charity over concerns about its policies for organising events and inviting external speakers. The Islamic Education and Research Academy, based in northwest London, is “committed to educating and informing humanity

about, and inviting to, the truth and noble message of Islam”, according to its website. The charity had an income of £817,582, spent £821,890 and had five staff in the year to 30 June 2013. According to its accounts for this period, it addressed “an estimated audience of 50,000 people both nationally and internationally” in this period, distributed 150 “welcome boxes” to new Muslims and organised two Muslim retreats. It registered with the regulator in March 2010 and filed its first set of

accounts more than seven months late. A statement from the commission today said it opened an inquiry into the charity on 7 March after an inspection of the charity’s records in January. The regulator said it was examining the trustees’ decisionmaking, in particular over its due diligence and monitoring of speakers and various payments made to trustees and a former trustee. It is also looking into its relationship with a connected non-charitable company, Islamic Education and Research Academy Limited. In January 2013, the commission released new guidance with a chapter called “Protecting charities from abuse for extremist purposes and managing the risks at events and in activities”. The commission said it believed certain charities were at particular risk of inadvertently promoting extremist views and that trustees must vet proposed speakers, carry out risk assessments of proposed events and prevent any “inappropriate activities”.

UK needs new watchdog for its spies, ex-MI6 chief says Britain’s current spy chiefs have resisted calls for greater scrutiny and transparency, arguing the Snowden leaks put British operations at risk. Britain should create a new body to oversee its intelligence agencies to reassure the public after revelations from ex-U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, the former head of the British foreign intelligence service said. Documents leaked by Snowden exposed the vast scale of surveillance carried out by Britain’s intelligence agencies and their close collaboration with America’s National Security Agency, sparking a public debate about how they operate. Richard Dearlove, head of Britain’s MI6 spy agency between 1999 and 2004, said that meant the public now needed greater assurances that espionage powers were not being abused.

“Snowden has damaged the West’s capability with his revelations,” Dearlove told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in London. “But I also think what he has done is increase the knowledge and understanding of what the government’s capabilities are in these areas. “There is probably a need to create some sort of committee which is independently appointed - isn’t from the judiciary, isn’t made up of politicians - that acts as a guarantor in terms of assuring the public that these powers are not being abused.” Civil liberties groups, lawmakers and parts of the British media have seized upon the Snowden leaks, which included details about the interception and storage of millions of webcam images, to argue for greater oversight of intelligence agencies’ work.

Complex dedicated to Prophet Muhammad to be built in Makkah

Saudi Arabia has designated a one million square meter vicinity in the Holy City of Makkah to build a complex dedicated to the Prophet Muhammad and his teachings. Called the “Peace be upon the Prophet” project, the centre will include an exhibition, university, electronic gate centre, library, translation centre, hotels and other facilities. Due to be built on the Haram boundaries along the Al-Haramain Expressway, it will also serve as a printing press house for a new 500-volume, 350,000-page encyclopedia about the Prophet Muhammad and his companions.


Hotel for pilgrims at Haj terminal opens www.pi-media.co.uk

I June 2014

An exclusive hotel finally opened for pilgrims who miss their flights at the Haj terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA). “A hotel has been established for pilgrims by the Civil Aviation Authority as per directives issued by Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah,” said Abdul Hamid Aba Al-Ari, director-general of KAIA. “The hotel consists of 117 rooms and suites that can accommodate 450 guests and also has six royal

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suites and six executive VIP suites,” he said. Aba Al-Ari said that the hotel has a spacious restaurant with international cuisine and a wider lobby area that can accommodate another 500 people. The hotel will also cater to cabin crew staff. “The hotel is being built and operated by the Saudi Binalden group through state-of-the-art technology and skilled professionals,” he said. The Saudi Binladen Group recently reached an agreement with the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) to modernize the Haj terminal and to facilitate a wide range of services to pilgrims through the Build, Transfer and Operate (BTO) module for 20 years.

US to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan after 2014 Senior Obama administration officials have said the US president is to seek to keep 9,800 US troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Obama will announce the plan himself in a statement from the White House in Washington, DC. Obama, who made a surprise 32-hour trip to Afghanistan to visit US troops, said during a speech at Bagram Air Field outside Kabul on Sunday that he would soon make an announcement on troop presence in Afghanistan. “After all the sacrifices we’ve made, we want to preserve the gains that you have helped to win,” he said. “We’re at a pivotal moment.” Washington needs to sign a bilateral security agreement with Kabul to be able to keep troops in the country beyond 2014. Despite

US pressures, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign the agreement. Karzai has been saying that the Afghan nation cannot approve the agreement without guarantees that the US will halt its deadly airstrikes on civilians. However, US officials say they are confident that Afghanistan’s next president will agree to sign the deal. The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed Taliban militants from power, but after all these years, the foreign troops have not been able to establish security in the country. Thousands of civilians, including women and children, have been killed and millions more displaced as a result of the US-led war. www.pi-media.co.uk

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The modernization and refurbishment project involved complete revision of the layout of the terminal. The terminal has been reconstructed to meet the needs not only of traffic passing through the terminal during the Haj period, but also during the Umrah seasons.

Israel slaps Raed Salah with suspended jail term

Sheikh Raed Salah was detained for “obstructing the work of police” after he refused to allow Israeli police to strip-search his wife. An Israeli court slapped Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement inside Israel, with a suspended six-month jail term and a $2600 fine for “obstructing the work” of Israeli police in 2011 Official movement spokesperson Zahi Nujidat said Salah could actually be put in jail if Israel levels similar charges against him in the days to come. Salah’s case dates back to April 16, 2011, when he was traveling to the occupied West Bank from Jordan after performing the umra (the minor pilgrimage) in Saudi Arabia. Israeli police at the Karameh Border Crossing wanted to strip-search Salah’s wife, but the Islamist leader objected, calling the measure “humiliating,” according to the Islamic Movement’s website. Salah was detained as a result and accused of “obstructing the work of police,” the website said. Salah is a vocal critic of Israeli violations against Palestinian holy sites, particularly Jerusalem’s AlAqsa Mosque.


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Narendra Modi a ‘threat to human rights and justice’, meeting warns

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Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist politician who won a landslide victory in India’s general election last month, has been sworn in as the 15th prime minister of the world’s largest democracy, in a spectacular ceremony in Delhi but at a meeting at Westminster, world-famous sculptor Anish Kapoor, who was born in India but now lives in Britain, has won numerous awards and received a knighthood in 2013 told a packed audience It was important to speak up for pluralism and respect for all, values threatened by Narendra Modi, Speakers at the meeting included distinguished lawyers Helena Kennedy (Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws) and Vrinda Grover, ranked last year by Time magazine as one of 100 most influential figures in the world, and Gautam Appa, Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics. At an earlier press conference, Professor Chetan Bhatt, Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the London School of Economics, Suresh Grover of the Monitoring Group and Pragna Patel of Southall Black Sisters, explained why so many in India and beyond are

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concerned about Modi, a key figure in the ‘Hindutva’ movement, which uses the guise of religion for its extremist brand of politics ‘Not In Our Name: Resisting Hindutva, Defending Justice and Human Rights’ was the theme of the meeting, organized by the Avaaz Network. It was chaired by Mike Wood, MP for Batley and Spen in West Yorkshire. Three of his constituents (British citizens on holiday) were among the estimated 1,500-2,000 Muslims murdered in Gujarat in 2002. Baroness Kennedy, QC FRSA, chair of Justice, the UK section of the International Commission of Jurists,

urged that Modi be held to account for his role in the violence, this would involve the “downgrading of terrible crimes” and give an international boost to harmful sectarianism. Anish Kapoor wrote a letter critical of Modi which was co-signed by artists, writers and others, they faced a “barrage of intimidating correspondence”. He spoke powerfully of the contrast between the chief minister’s narrow and divisive vision for India and that of Mahatma Gandhi: “The Modi camp fears criticism” because “there is much to hide”. We all have a voice and have to “find a way to talk of what we believe in”, he urged.

has been on hunger strike since 2007 and cleared for release from the prison since 2007, has never been charged with a crime. He said in another letter: “As I write now, [a detainee] is vomiting on the torture chair, having been brought there by the Forced Cell Extraction (FCE) team. The nurse and corpsman have refused to stop the feed, or to slow the acceleration of the liquids.” The legal charity Reprieve says that a renewed challenge to brutal force-feeding practices in federal court from Emad and other detainees recounts speeds of force-feeding that grossly exceed accepted medical procedures. Emad’s letter continues: “The culmination of six or seven years of force-feeding is now taking its toll.

A couple of months ago I had been given a kind of feeding formula… The formula made me vomit from 10 pm to 7 am - pieces of fat kept coming out whenever I vomited… they have begun this cruel process with [another detainee] - at 6 am he was holding a cup with vomit in it after six brutal hours of feeding. Every day is like that. If this isn’t torture…surely this is what normal people call it? By normal, I mean the normal people outside the prison, because there is no normality here.” The most recent estimate of the number of men still on hunger strike is approximately 17. The authorities at Guantánamo stopped releasing official figures towards the end of last year, while detainees’ access to lawyers has been restricted.

Guantánamo detainee exposes brutal treatment of hunger strikers A prisoner in Guantánamo Bay has revealed to his lawyers the increasingly brutal punishment meted out to detainees peacefully protesting their indefinite detention via hunger strike. Emad Hassan wrote in a letter to his lawyers: “One Yemeni is 80 pounds and he was brought to his feeding by the Forced Cell Extraction (FCE) team, Guantánamo’s official riot police. Yesterday the F.C.E team beat him when they came into and out of his cell. He is 80 pounds with one broken arm. He cannot walk, just crawl from his bed to the faucet or toilet once he needs to use it! How can someone with this condition fight eight armoured guards?” Emad, himself a Yemeni who


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US drone strikes kill over dozen in Pakistan, Afghanistan www.pi-media.co.uk

More than a dozen people have been killed and several others severely injured in separate strikes by US killer drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The highest casualties have been reported in Pakistan where 10 people were killed in the US drone strike on one day. Local intelligence sources say the attack took place in the volatile Nazyan area of Khyber Agency close

to the border with Afghanistan. Local Pakistani officials have confirmed the attack, saying those killed in the operation were Taliban militants. Meanwhile, another airstrike by the foreign forces’ unmanned aircraft in Afghanistan left at least four people dead. Afghan officials say the casualties in the attack in the western Farah Province were Taliban militants.

However, the militant group has not commented on the deaths yet. US drone strikes have escalated significantly over the past years, fueling anti-American sentiments in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The aerial attacks, initiated by former US president, George W. Bush, have escalated under President Barack Obama. Obama has defended the use of the controversial drones as “selfdefense.” Philip Alston, UN special envoy on extrajudicial killings, said in a report in late October 2010 that the US drone attacks were undermining the rules designed to protect the right of life. Alston also said he fears that the drone killings by the US Central Intelligence Agency could develop a “Playstation” mentality. Several international bodies and 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.

Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina have complained about the increasing incidents of abuse they encounter in the town of Zvornik after a young man was attacked in front of the local Rijecanka Mosque. In a seperate incident, an 81year-old ethnic Serb killed a Muslim man with an axe after a public dispute. The next day, the Muslim man, Ahmed Hasanovic, was found dead in front of his home in Kozluk, near Zvornik. “In the urban area of Zvornik in recent times several incidents were reported, which have disturbed Muslims in the town,” the Islamic

Community in Tuzla said in a press release statement. “On May 6, in front of the Rijecanska Mosque, an unknown young man verbally attacked and harassed students of the Behrambey Madrassa [Islamic high school] from Tuzla who were performong a religious-cultural programme in the Home of Culture,” it said. “It is worrying that these events [attacks on Muslims] are being repeated at a time when Bosniaks from these areas are remembering their loved ones who suffered in the bloody war and when they will gracefully and peacefully bury the

remains of victims from Zvornik,” the statement added. According to Balkan Insight, the Muslim cemetery in Zvornik’s main mosque was recently vandalized after eggs were thrown at tombstones. Another four Muslims were attacked in the town last year by a gang of young Serbs as they were walking to the mosque. The town of Zvornik, which was once a Muslim dominated town, saw a mass exodus of its Muslim residents during the 1992-1995 civil war after acts of ethnic cleansing by the Serbs. Since the war ended, only a fw Muslims have returned home.

Bosnian muslims complain of increasing attacks

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Amnesty slams ‘two-faced’ states over torture record www.pi-media.co.uk

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Amnesty International has slammed world governments for failing to eradicate torture and warned that the practice is still flourishing 30 years after the U.N. adopted a convention outlawing the practice. “Governments around the world are two-faced on torture - prohibiting it in law, but facilitating it in practice” Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said at a press conference in the UK. “Torture is not just alive and well

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– it is flourishing in many parts of the world. As more governments seek to justify torture in the name of national security, the steady progress made in this field over the last 30 years is being eroded,” he said. Shetty’s comments came at the launch of “Stop Torture,” the international watchdog’s latest global campaign to combat torture and other ill-treatment across the globe. According to a report titled “Torture in 2014: 30 Years of Broken

Jakarta to host global Islamic tourism forum

The capital Jakarta will host the first Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) International Forum on Islamic Tourism next month to develop shariah tourism among 57 OIC members. Tourism and Creative Economy Deputy Minister Sapta Nirwandar said sharia tourism was projected to continue to grow as Muslim populations were predicted to reach 2.2 billion – equal to 26.4 percent of the global population – by the end of 2030. The Muslim population stood at 1.6 billion of a global population of 6.9 billion in 2012. “Through this forum, we want to strengthen sharia tourism’s position as one of keys to help support the

global economy. We also want to promote sharia tourism destinations and products such as hotels, restaurants and spas,” he said. According to the State of the Global Islamic Economy 2012 research conducted by Thomson Reuters, Muslims spent US$1.088 billion on halal food, equal to 16.6 percent of worldwide food spending. The figure is projected to increase to $1.626 billion in 2018. Meanwhile, in the tour and travel sector, Muslims around the world spent $137 billion on travel, excluding haj and minor haj, throughout 2012, or 12.5 percent of travel spending across the globe. This figure is predicted to rise to $181 billion by the end of 2018.

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Promises,” in 2014, the watchdog observed evidence of torture in more than half the 155 states that ratified the 1984 U.N. Convention Against Torture. Countries where the watchdog noted widespread torture included Syria. As part of the campaign, the watchdog commissioned a Globescan survey to gauge worldwide attitudes toward torture. According to the survey, 44 percent of respondents from 21 countries across every continent fear they would be at risk of torture if taken into custody in their country. Eighty-two percent of the respondents said they believed there should be clear laws against torture. However, more than a third of those surveyed said they believed torture could be justified in certain circumstances. Amnesty launched its campaign 30 years after the U.N. adopted a convention outlawing torture.

Aussie Muslim students dismissed for wearing Hijab A decision by a Queensland Christian college to fire two Muslim student teachers and transfer them to another school for wearing hijab has been sparking angry Muslim reactions who said they were “disappointed” by the discriminatory decision. The controversy has erupted after the dismissal of two Muslim women from Redlands College after showing up while wearing the Islamic headscarf, hijab. The two teacher students were assigned to a work placement at Redlands College this year. “I have a duty of care to ensure that those teaching at the College are actively supporting the Christian principles, practices and beliefs of the College,” the principal wrote in a newsletter that outlines reasons for dismissing the Muslim students.


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Foreign Minister requests ‘Terrorist’ label for militant settlers In Case You Missed It

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said he had asked world powers to classify Israeli settler groups who attack Palestinian communities and holy sites as terrorist organisations. The move comes as part of a Palestinian drive to refer their demands for an independent state in Israeli-occupied territory to more international bodies since U.S.backed peace talks collapsed last month. Malki said militant settlers known as the “Hilltop Youth” and vigilantes who use the “price tag” slogan

“practice terror ... constantly against the Palestinian people, their land, holy places and property.” “Price tag” refers to retribution the settlers say they will exact for any attempt by the Israeli government to curb settlement in the West Bank, an area Palestinians seek as part of a future state. “These groups play a role in killing, incitement to violence and spreading the culture of hatred and racism,” he said in the letter sent to Russia, the United States, Canada, the European Union, the United Nations, the Arab League and the

First mosque opened in France’s Basque region

The first mosque in Northern Basque region in France was inaugurated last month. It was launched in the city of Bayonne in a ceremony attended by local officials and representatives of France’s Islamic institutions, the desdomesetdesminarets website reported. Construction of the mosque had started in 2008 by the Basque region’s Cultural Society of Muslims. Built on a 2000-square-meter plot of land, the mosque has two prayer halls- one for men and one for women- and can accommodate 300 worshippers.

It also includes a conference hall, a library, a tall minaret and classes for holding courses on Quran recitation and memorization and the Arabic language. Construction of the mosque has cost some 700,000 euro. Anti-Islamic groups had opposed the mosque and held numerous protests to hinder its construction but failed to do so as Muslims managed to provide the required documents to the municipality and acquire permission. France is home to approximately 6 million Muslims and has the largest Muslim minority in Western Europe.

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Organisation of Islamic States. Palestinian anger has mounted over incursions by militant Jewish settlers into Palestinian villages where they have torched buildings, scrawled hateful slogans and attacked residents. No such attacks are known to have caused any deaths. The European Union and Western countries have for decades referred to several Palestinian armed groups as terrorist organisations and, more recently, have also included the Israeli ultra-nationalist militant group Kahane Chai. A U.S. State Department country report on terrorism published last month described the raids by militant settlers, but did not designate them as terrorist groups. The U.N. Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs in 2013 reported 399 settler attacks resulting in Palestinian injury or property damage. Palestinians want an independent state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, lands Israel captured and occupied after the 1967 Six Day War. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

250,000 Quran’s to be distributed at FIFA World Cup Kuwait’s Awqaf Ministry plans to hand out 250,000 copies of Quran translations in different languages in Brazil during the FIFA World Cup. The ministry’s Quran Board announced that it has held a tender for the procurement of the copies. The board said the renderings in Spanish, Portuguese, English and French will be distributed in hotels, stadiums and other public places. The 2014 FIFA World Cup will kick off in a ceremony on June 12. The opening match will be between Brazil and Croatia on Friday, June 13.


Czech muslims protest against mosque raids www.pi-media.co.uk

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Around three hundred Muslims in the Czech Republic protested in front of the Interior Ministry in the capital Prague last month. The raids took place during Friday midday prayers and resulted in the arrest of 20 Muslims, including a book publisher who had a book translated into Czech. The publisher, who had been

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accused of promoting hate speech over the book called ‘The Fundamentals of Tawheed’ by Jamaican-born UK-based imam Bilal Philips, faces up to 10 years in prison. Police enforced their presence around the protesters, who were demanding answers over the manner in which the raids were conducted,

Smartphone app maps communities of Palestine A non-governmental organisation in the Occupied Palestine is launching a smartphone app that will allow users to identify Palestinian cities and towns depopulated or destroyed by Jewish paramilitaries in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation. iNakba, available only on Apple’s iPhone iOS operating system for now, is the brainchild of Zochrot, a Tel Aviv-based group that raises awareness among Jewish Israelis about the Nakba. Arabic for “catastrophe,” the word is used to refer to the expulsion and fleeing of more than 700,000 Palestinians in 1948. The app, which can be downloaded in Arabic, English and Hebrew, identifies these destroyed localities to younger Palestinians who want to learn about their ancestral homeland, said Raneen Jeries, who

worked on developing the app at Zochrot. “The historical landscape has obviously changed since before 1948,” Jeries told Al Jazeera. “And it’s difficult to find these destroyed areas on maps. So we decided to put technology to good use, and make this kind of information readily available on people’s smartphones.” iNakba relies on a current Google map of teh Occupied Palestine, but merges it with another layer of maps containing the destroyed areas. Users can watch videos and see pictures of the historical cities and towns. An interactive feature allows them to upload their own visual elements and contribute through commentary. www.pi-media.co.uk

with Muneeb Al Rawi, chairman of the Union of Muslim Communities in the Czech Republic (UMO), calling it “entirely inappropriate” and “utterly uneducated.” “We would like to express our indignation with the way the intervention [was carried out], for the time, the place,” Al Rawi told The Prague Post. He also expressed his fears for the Muslim minority in the Czech Republic, which might be endangered following the raids. “We warn against the rise of extremism and anti-Muslim sentiment that such behavior may cause and we are concerned about the wave of Islamophobic comments which appeared after the police intervention,” he said. The Muslim population of the Czech Republic is estimated between 15,000 and 20,000. Islam has been recognized as an official religion in the country since 2004.

Muslim woman set to run for US congress seat Cheryl Sudduth is set to become the second Muslim woman to run for Congress in the United States. Seeking to enter the House of Representatives to represent the 11th congressional district of California, she hopes to improve the public education system, and close the achievement gap among underserved and vulnerable members of the community. As an African-American Muslim woman, she enjoys the support of many people in her community from African-American and Muslim minorities as well as women. She has also been an activist against gender, ethnic, and racial discrimination in the workplace, as well as a campaigner for equal pay.


Balkans hit by record breaking floods 20I WORLD NEWS

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Several months of rain coming down hard in only a few days sparked what is considered as the worst and deadliest floods in the Balkans in more than a century. The death toll reported by Anadolu Agency teams at the scene has risen to 35, while engulfing waters have prompted the evacuation of tens of thousands in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. In addition, the floods have forced Bosnia to deal with its own landmines, a legacy of the 1992-

95 Bosnian war which killed about 100,000 people. More than 500,000 people of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s population of almost four million live in areas littered with mines left over from the 1992-95 Bosnian war and face the risk of being blown up on a daily basis. About 220,000 mines are still lying beneath the ground across the country, according to the country’s de-mining center. The waters began to recede only

after hundreds of cities and villages had already been submerged and landslides had laid waste to entire towns, wreaking havoc on both Bosnia and Serbia’s infrastructure. An estimated 300,000 people in Serbia and an additional 50,000 in Bosnia are without access to electricity or drinking water, as some are living in unsafe and unsanitary conditions. As rescue coordinators appeal for food, water and essential needs to help those affected, humanitarian support has streamed from across the world. Turkey’s Cooperation and Coordination Agency continued delivering cans of tinned food, flour, oil, boots and hygiene supplies to devastated areas on Sunday, as requested by PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said Dr. Zulkuf Oruc, the agency’s coordinator for the Sarajevo region. The floods across BosniaHerzegovina and Serbia are believed to be the heaviest in the region in a century. Officials expect the death toll to rise.

Saudi Arabia Health of Palestinian hunger strikers worsens announces new The health conditions of hunger striking Palestinians in Israeli prisons have gravely deteriorated as they continue their strike for the 25th consecutive day. Some 120 Palestinian prisoners have been on hunger strike since April 24 in protest at the Israeli “administrative detention.” In a letter posted on Facebook, the inmates have stated that they would not give up their hunger strike campaign despite extreme weakness. Administrative detention is a

sort of imprisonment without trial or charge that allows Israel to imprison Palestinians for up to six months. The detention order can, however, be renewed for an indefinite period of time. According to Israeli B’Tselem rights group, prison officials took harsh measures against the Palestinian strikers and put some of them in solitary confinement. More than 5,000 Palestinians are reportedly being held in Israeli prisons, nearly 200 of them under administrative detention orders

tourism bodies

Saudi Arabia has announced it will establish three new bodies to regulate tourism in the kingdom. The non-profit associations will respectively develop accommodation facilities, support the development of tour guides and boost tourism, Arab News reported. They will be mandated to represent the interests of their members, provide social and cultural services, attract private investment and hold certified training and education courses.


Saudi to curb trade ties with Netherlands www.pi-media.co.uk

I June 2014

Saudi Arabia has started imposing sanctions on Dutch companies after the Netherlands failed to take action against a right-wing politician for abusing Islam and the Kingdom, a Foreign Ministry source said. “Religion is the red line which nobody will be allowed to cross,” the source said, adding that Riyadh’s action was aimed at putting an end to such irresponsible behavior. “Saudi Arabia is a leading country

WORLD NEWS

in the Islamic world. Muslims in Holland and other parts of the world have supported the Kingdom’s action,” the source said and hoped the Netherlands would pass a law to combat abuse of religions. The Dutch government has reportedly distanced itself from Wilders’ actions, pointing out that the populist firebrand is not part of, or representative of it. Wilders previously compared the Qur’an to

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Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. He also blamed Saudi Arabia for terrorist attacks around the globe. Earlier, an official of the Dutch Embassy in Riyadh said The Hague is sending an envoy to the Kingdom for high-level talks as part of all-out efforts to improve relations. Trade between Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands stands at 6 billion euros (about SR31 billion) with Saudi exports to the country reaching nearly SR20 billion. The Council of Saudi Chambers had said that it had received an order from the Saudi government banning Dutch firms from taking part in future projects in the Kingdom, directly and through subcontracting. About 30 Dutch companies operate in Saudi Arabia and there are many in the Netherlands that have trade relations with the Kingdom.

45 countries to take part in global march to Jerusalem

Dr. Ahmed Abu Halabiya, head of Jerusalem Committee at the Palestinian Legislative Council, confirmed that more than 45 countries will take part in the Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ) on June 6, the 46th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem. Abu Halabiya stated that

preparations for GMJ are finalized amid Arab, Islamic and European participation to activate peoples’ support for Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque in light of the absence of Arab official support. “Jerusalem is facing sustained attacks by the Zionist regime, which is trying to Judaize Jerusalem and

wipe out its Islamic, Arab identity,” he said. GMJ will take place all over the Gaza Strip, West Bank, 48-occupied territories, coinciding with marches amongst many countries of the world, Abu Halabiya clarified. A massive march is scheduled to be organized in Gaza Strip in presence of foreign activists and Turkish and Malaysian associations In Jordan and Lebanon, demonstrators will peacefully march as near to Jerusalem as they can safely get. Practices like digging tunnels under Al Aqsa Mosque to undermine the foundations and cause it to collapse represent attempts to pave the way for building an Israeli temple on the site of al-Aqsa, noted Abu Halabiya.


Chelsea player funds construction of Mosque

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A Senegalese footballer has funded the construction of a mosque in his parents’ hometown in Senegal. Demba Ba, a professional footballer who plays as a striker for Premier League side Chelsea and the Senegal national team, provided the money for building the Nasrallah Mosque in the town of Doondu sen24heures website reported. Senegalese media have reported his contribution ahead of the inauguration of the mosque. Demba Ba is a Muslim who celebrates his goals by performing a Sajda prostration, forehead to the ground. He was brought up in a religious home. “Being a Muslim is more important than me being a footballer. A good Muslim is a good person, so I try

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to be a good person,” he said in an interview with the Independent last year. His homeland, Senegal, is a

country in West Africa where Islam is the predominant religion. Nearly 90 percent of the country’s population is estimated to be Muslim.

Arabtec signs 3yr Man City deal

Arabtec Holding has become the latest UAE company to sponsor Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City Football Club after signing a threeyear deal with the Premier League Champions Under the deal, announced by the engineering and construction firm, it will gain “certain promotional rights and privileges that will reinforce its brand in MENA, Russia, India, and Serbia”, have access to “specific rights of use of the club’s brand” as well as tickets and special programmes for VIPs to attend

matches and special events. Visibility of Arabtec’s logo and promotional materials at Manchester City’s home ground, Etihad Stadium, and across the club’s digital platforms are also included in the deal. The club, which won its second Premier League title in three years, was acquired by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahayan’s Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008. Since then it has signed several Abu Dhabi companies as sponsors, including Etihad Airways, under a 10-year deal reportedly worth up to £400m ($670m), as well as Etisalat, the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and Aabar Investments. Last month, Manchester City were named the best paid team in global sport, according to Sporting intelligence’s Global Sports Salaries Survey for 2014, with an average first-team pay at City calculated at

£5.3 per year, or £102,653 per week in the period under review. However, the club is facing fines of €60m ($83.3m) and limits on their Champions League squads for next season for breaching UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules. UEFA said earlier this month that nine unnamed clubs, thought to include Man City, faced punishment under new rules designed to force teams to limit their financial losses and make soccer more economically stable. The club posted a loss of £51.6m ($85.4m) in its latest financial year Hasan Ismaik, managing director and CEO of Arabtec Holding, said the sponsorship would further boost Arabtec’s brand in the region and globally as it pushed ahead with plans to become one of the top 10 companies in the world by 2018 Ferran Soriano, CEO of Manchester City, welcomed the partnership with Arabtec, noting the important role of sponsorship agreements in further developing the club.


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I June 2014

Dubai businessman inks deal for non-league football club www.pi-media.co.uk

A Dubai-based businessman is part of a consortium that has signed a deal to take control of English nonleague football club Salisbury City, it has been announced. A statement released by the club, which plays in the Conference Premier, one division lower than the English League 2, said a consortium of Dubai-based Moroccan born businessman Otail M Touzar and local businessman Mark Winter had

reached agreement. Otail revealed that the deal was likely to be the first of a number of football transactions to be announced this year, without giving further details. Under the deal, all shares in Salisbury City Football Club Limited will be transferred to the new owners. The statement added that the terms of the deal were confidential. Otail said: “I am happy to be

involved with Salisbury City FC and want to thank my partner Mark Winter and everyone who made this possible. “This is just a first transaction of a series of major football club investment deals in various countries currently in process and to be announced over the course of the summer. “I look forward to working with all club stakeholders to ensure a bright and sustainable future for the Salisbury City FC.” Winter added that he was delighted that the club “is safe and have found an investor with extensive knowledge of football, who is well placed to stabilise the club and help it to develop on a sensible commercial basis”. Salisbury City FC, which was founded in 1947, has a home ground in the Wiltshire town with a capacity of 4,000.

Israel faces expulsion from FIFA Croatian footballer suspended over Nazi salute

The Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) has agreed to discuss the issue of Israel’s transgressions against Palestinian sports, said Prince Nawaf bin Faisal, head of the Youth Welfare Presidency. “Israel will be either expelled or suspended from FIFA if it did not apologize for its action against Palestinians and provide guarantees,” he said. “Being the chairman of the Arab Football Federation, I received a detailed report from the Palestinian Football Federation on Israel’s activities to suppress Palestinian sports by preventing them from playing football and other games

and not allowing sports equipment to Palestine.” Prince Nawaf said Israel obstructed the movement of Palestinian teams, forcing them to cancel their foreign trips. “This is a violation of international sports regulations and charters,” sabq.org quoted him as saying. “I had spoken to FIFA President Sepp Blatter and heads of regional football federations about the difficulties facing the Palestinian people in the sports arena. As a result, FIFA has agreed to discuss the issue in its next meeting,” he said, adding that this is a prelude to expelling Israel from all international games.

In Case You Missed It The Court of Arbitration for Sport approves FIFA ban for Croatian international over Nazi salute. Court of Arbitration for Sport has approved the 10 match-ban given to Croatian international, Josip Simunic, by FIFA for making a Nazi salute. Simunic performed the Nazi salute following a playoff match against Iceland in the FIFA World Cup European preliminary round in November last year. The 36-year-old center-back is now ineligible to play for Croatia in this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.


Ramadan: Striving for God Consciousness

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Ramadan is the month of fasting for Muslims the world over. Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse from dawn to dusk for the duration of Ramadan. For some, fasting may appear as a form of deprivation and of bodily exertion. On one level, abstaining from sensual needs and pleasures is indeed a physical experience. But those who stop at the physical aspects of fasting miss the essence of Ramadan and its purpose. Fasting the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. These are the foundation upon which the entire structure of Islam is built. These consist of the declaration of faith, prayer, fasting Ramadan, paying of Zakah [the annual

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charity payment], and performing the pilgrimage to Makkah, known as hajj. Three of the five pilars of Islam are rituals, that is, prescribed religious acts whose rationale is not immediately available for understanding. These are prayer, fasting, and hajj. Muslims are required to do them because they are part of their religious duties, that is, they are part of their covenant with God. As a ritual, fasting is a symbolic act whose meaning becomes gradually apparent through experience. The meaning embodied in a ritual is always unveiled when one immerses himself or herself in the act itself. This does not mean that fasting is not open to intellectual

I June 2014

delineation, but rather any intellectual delineation either presupposes or predicts a meaning that can best become apparent through performing the symbolic act itself. Spiritual Development The essence of fasting Ramadan and its goal is summed in the Qur’an in one word: taqwa. “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may attain taqwa.” (Qur’an 2:183) But what is taqwa? And how does it relate to the physical act of fasting? Taqwa is a recurring theme in the Qur’an and a paramount Qur’anic


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I June 2014

value. Taqwa is both an attitude and a process. It is the proper attitude of the human toward the divine that denotes love, devotion, and fear. Love to the source of good and beauty that make life worth living; devotion to God’s boundless wisdom and majesty; and fear of misunderstanding the divine intent or failing in maintaining the appropriate posture and relationship. The attitude of taqwa cannot and does not stay in the confines of the human spirit, but is ultimately revealed in expression and action. The attitude of taqwa is ultimately revealed in, and in turn reveals, the true character it nurtures: the commitment to the sublime values stressed by divine revelations of courage, generosity, compassion, honesty, steadfastness, and cooperation in pursuing what is right and true. Taqwa is equally the process by which the believers internalize the sublime values of revelation and develop their character. Thus the Qur’an reminds the believers that they should not reduce religious practices to a set of blind rituals, of religiously ordained procedures performed at the level of physical movement, and that they should always be mindful that religious practices, like praying and fasting, ultimately aim at bringing about moral and spiritual uplifting: “It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West: But it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last day, and the Angels, the Book, and the Messengers; to give out of the things you hold dear to your kin, the orphans, the needy, the wayfarer, the one who asks, and to free the slave. And to be steadfast in prayer and to give for charity. To fulfill the covenants you have made, and to be firm and patient in times of pain, adversity, and

FEATUREDI 25

panic. Such are the people of truth, and such are the God-conscious.” (Qur’an 2:177) As Ramadan helps us to develop our moral discipline, it also reminds us of the plight of those who live in constant hunger and deprivation. We are reminded time and again by the revealed book that religiosity is meaningless and pointless if it does not lead people to care and share: “Have you seen one who belies judgment; it is the one who repulses the orphan, and does not insist on feeding the needy. So woe to those who pray but are neglectful of their prayers. Those who are guilty of duplicity and refuse to provide for the ones in need.” (Qur’an 107:1-7) Commitment Fasting Ramadan, like other religious practices in Islam, is an occasion for pursuing moral excellence that can also be translated into excellence in social organization and interaction. In a tradition that was reported in the books of Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet was once asked: “O messenger of God! who is the most honored of people? He said: the one who has most taqwa. They said: this is not what we are asking about.... He said: ... the best of them prior to Islam is the best of them in Islam if they comprehend (the revealed message).” It is not difficult to see that the Prophet’s companions did not have immediate access to the meaning of taqwq, as many Muslims today still don’t. When they did not accept his first statement as an answer, the Prophet gave them an explanation of what he meant when he responded to their question about “the most honored of people.” In responding with the question, the Prophet was reiterated the meaning provided by the Qur’an: “Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is the

most righteous (mutaqi).” (Qu’an 49:13) The Prophet’s statement underscores the fact that taqwa as a moral and spiritual quality is significant in the human world insofar as it leads people to act with compassion and respect toward others. Empowerment Nothing does empower a community more than the development of the moral character of its members. By embodying the moral values of revelation, people can have a higher social life, one that is based on mutual respect and help, as it is based on honest and fair dealings, and a sense of duty that encourages people to observe the principles of right and justice as they pursue their varying and competing interests. The theme that moral life based on the notion of taqwa leads to societal strength and prosperity is an oft repeated theme in the Qur’an: “Whoever has taqwa of God, He prepares a way out for them, and He provides them from sources they never could imagine.” (Qur’an 65:2-3) And again: “Verily the earth is God’s to give as a heritage to such of His servants as He pleases; and the end is best for the God-conscious.” (7:128) Fasting is not simply a time during which people deprive themselves from physical pleasures, but is an occasion to exercise moral restrain and experience spiritual growth. Ramadan is a time of remembrance of God and renewal of commitment to the high and noble values he revealed to mankind. And nothing would give us the sense of spiritual fulfillment than a state of taqwq, of God-consciousness, that Ramadan helps us to realize. Ramadan this year will start either on 28th or 29th June 2014. By: Dr. Louay M. Safi

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