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Parents outraged over School Questionnaire Issue: 86

June 2015

Parents of children as young as nine have reacted angrily after schools in an east London borough asked pupils to complete surveys designed to provide clues to possible radicalisation. Waltham Forest council has been piloting the scheme in five primary schools with large Muslim intakes. The questionnaire, circulated among year

6 pupils, asks how much they trust the police and people from another race or religion. The questionnaires are believed to have been issued as part of the government’s anti-radicalisation Prevent programme which has been widely criticised as a social engineering exercise designed to fashion a secular

and more politically compliant Muslim community. Prevent aims to change opinions amongst British Muslims by deploying counter-narratives to challenge so-called violent extremism and by promoting so-called ‘core British values’. The Counter Terrorism and Security Continued on page 3

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thePassion

www.pi-media.co.uk I June 2015

By Amnesty UK www.amnesty.org.uk

Queen speech and the bills - What you need to know

Human rights in the UK Much has been said about the Human Rights Act and we could have faced a direct commitment to scrapping it imminently. Instead the government ‘will bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights’; if the Bill becomes law, it will replace the Act. So while the Human Rights Act wasn’t mentioned in the Queen’s Speech directly, it was there by implication, and the Prime Minister has since stated in the House of Commons that his government will press ahead to repeal the HRA. So while the plans have clearly been delayed - because they are unnecessary and unworkable? - they have not been dropped.

Counter terror & security The Queen’s speech outlined a new Extremism Bill which could have a significant human rights impact – we’ll need to see more before we can say more. But what we do know is their track record isn’t great – the previous government rushed through two pieces of hefty legislation in this area in the past year with major negative human rights implications and woefully inadequate time for parliament to consider them. Considered in the wake of both the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 and the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (DRIP) Act 2014, the worry is for this new Bill that the trend towards ever more rights-restrictive (and in our view counterproductive) security legislation continues. We don’t really know what’s at stake with the Extremism Bill – from the little that has been said, we could be looking at potentially sweeping restrictions on freedom of expression and yet more administrative civil Orders imposed on vague, overbroad grounds to curtail the rights of those whose behaviour is not criminal.

It’s important to remember that there is not some kind of essential fight between security and human rights – the balance between the interests of national security and the interference with the right of the individual to their privacy, for example, is built into the right itself, as it is with all but the tiny number of absolute rights like freedom from torture. That means if it’s lawful and genuinely necessary (proportionate) for the state to interfere with your privacy for that legitimate aim, the right won’t have been violated!

Refugee and migrants’ rights Immediate prospects for refugee and migrants rights look bleak given what was included in and what was omitted from the Queen’s speech. Although stating the government ‘will continue to play a leading role in global affairs’, amid references to Syria and the Middle East, the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War was not mentioned. That omission was entirely consistent with the UK’s meagre contribution to date in resettling only 187 Syrian refugees from the region; and Ministers repeatedly emphasising the UK will not participate in plans to share responsibility for supporting and hosting refugees arriving in Europe more fairly. Mass surveillance & data retention Government surveillance of communications in any form must be lawful, necessary and proportionate in order to avoid infringing citizens’ rights – including the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. Current UK law and practice on surveillance simply fails to meet these obligations and respect our human rights: surveillance is conducted on a mass scale (as Edward Snowden revealed) and under an outdated, inadequate legal framework that doesn’t stand up

to the most basic scrutiny. Similarly, UK law and policy on communications data retention also flies in the face of a European Court of Justice ruling that says blanket indiscriminate data retention of the kind the UK demands is obviously a disproportionate interference with basic rights. The Queen’s Speech announced a new Investigatory Powers Bill that appears to reveal plans for wholesale reform of our surveillance and data retention laws – ‘modernising’ the existing framework ‘and ensuring it is fit for purpose’. This could be a very good thing - an opportunity for the government to make sure current UK law and practice meets international human rights standards, and passes the test of lawfulness, necessity and proportionality – writing clear, accessible law with proper oversight and safeguards against arbitrary government activity, and introducing a proper reasonable suspicion standard for interception would be a good start. Yet there are hints that yet again, rights could roll back further under these new investigatory powers laws. The indication that it will bring the return of the Data Communications Bill (the ‘Snoopers’ Charter) is not something I’m pleased to see, nor are ominous references to increasing instead of curtailing ‘bulk collection’ (a fancy and frankly deliberately obfuscating way of describing mass surveillance). Security and human rights aren’t at odds with each other – as long as these kind of investigatory powers are designed and used appropriately. At the minute they aren’t and haven’t been, as Amnesty’s successful litigation against the spy agencies has shown. Our government needs to address this first and foremost, and bring our legal framework and activity in line with international human rights law.

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


Parents outraged over School Questionnaire www.pi-media.co.uk

I June 2015

Continued from front page Act, which became law in February, puts a responsibility on schools to prevent youngsters falling into the clutches of extremist groups. The government has made it clear that schools will also have to actively promote ‘British values’ and will be judged by the schools’ watchdog Ofsted on how well they teach them. Islamic Human Rights Commision (IHRC) have been appalled and shocked, IHRC is concerned that if children answer honestly to any of the questions they could be singled out for intervention under Prevent including being put on a watch list. IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh said: “They’re obviously targeting Muslim children and trying to pick their brains and thoughts and effectively profile them,” he said.

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But at this young age we should be thinking of nurturing and developing our children, not compartmentalising them. It’s also clearly racist and Islamophobic ñ there would be uproar if they had mentioned ‘Jew’ or ‘black’ in the identity question. This reminds me of the prelude to the Nazi holocaust when Jews were profiled before they started putting Stars of David on them.” Headteacher Kathleen Wheeler said all parents had been made aware of the programme and an information session about it had been organised last month. “The school takes very seriously its responsibility to develop pupils’ understanding of the world and our duty to create a community that is respectful of all religions, faiths and

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beliefs,” she said. The Islamic Human Rights Commission has urged parents to boycott the questionnaire. Its chairman, Massoud Shadjareh, said it had been designed to target and profile Muslim children. “At this young age, we should be thinking about nurturing and developing our children, not compartmentalising them. I think the questionnaire has clearly been devised by people who haven’t got a clue about radicalisation. “Some of the questions are just plain ridiculous. It’s also clearly racist and Islamophobic – there would be uproar if they mentioned the word ‘Jew’ or ‘black’ in the identity question.” www.pi-media.co.uk


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LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS

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Britain is preparing to expand Iraq training mission In Case You Missed It

Britain is preparing to expand its military training mission in Iraq and increase the number of personnel ready to support Syrian opposition in Turkey, a British source familiar with the plan said. The Ministry of Defence says nearly 800 British soldiers are already working in training and support roles in the region at a time when ISIL members are making gains in both Iraq and Syria. “The UK is preparing to offer more,” the source told, saying London was keen to step up its contribution in response to events on the ground. A final decision had not yet been taken and was not imminent in the coming days, the source said, but Britain’s presence would soon be

expanded. British forces are already training Iraqi soldiers in, among other disciplines, how to deal with roadside bombs, while other British soldiers are taking part in U.S.-led efforts to train the Syrian opposition in Turkey. When asked to confirm the

expansion plans, a ministry spokesman said: “Nearly 800 UK personnel are deployed on operations in the region, helping Iraqis to strengthen and mobilise against ISIL and we will continue to keep our contribution under regular review.”

Human Rights Act on hold, but privacy and free speech under threat The Government appeared to delay plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. While many of the Conservative manifesto commitments were in the legislative agenda, the Queen’s speech said only that ‘proposals’ would be brought forward for a British Bill of Rights. Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said: “It is heartening that a Conservative Government committed to scrapping the Human Rights Act has at least paused for thought in its first Queen’s speech. There is a

long struggle ahead but time is the friend of freedom. The more this new Parliament understands the value of the HRA for all of us in this United Kingdom and our reputation in the world- the more it is likely to understand how dangerous it would be to replace human rights with mere citizens’ privileges.” However a number of concerning plans, trailed in advance of the speech, will be brought forward by the Government: An Investigatory Powers Bill will revive plans for a Snoopers’ Charter,

giving State bodies wide-ranging new tools to collect and process all of our communications data. An Extremism Bill will create new banning orders, extremism disruption orders and closure orders, curbing free speech under the guise of tackling extremist behaviour. And an Immigration Bill will include plans to criminalise undocumented migrants working in the UK and confiscate their earnings. It will also extend deport first appeal later provisions risking huge injustice and separating families.


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British Jews: Israel used Gaza as arms testing factory www.pi-media.co.uk

The UK’s role in the Gaza attacks by Israel last summer have come to the surface with the Manchester Jews for Justice for Palestine writing an open letter and calling for an end to the arms deal with Britain and Israel. In a news report in Russia Today, the letter to Mondoweiss claims that in November last year, figures revealed that Britain had approved arms sales to Israel worth £7 million in the six months before its offensive on Gaza last summer, including drone parts, combat aircraft and helicopters. This led to concerns that equipment made in Britain was used by the Israeli army during in which more than 2,000 Palestinians anost their lives. Labour MP Katy Clark commented at the time: “It is now abundantly clear that not only did the UK refuse to condemn Israeli military action

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throughout Operation Protective Edge, but that it actively allowed UK companies to arm the IDF throughout the conflict.” Manchester Jews for Justice for Palestinians have harshly criticized the “UK’s complicity in Israeli war crimes” in an open letter and called for a boycott for Israeli products and an end of the arms trade between the UK and Israel. The group wrote their letter on a blog on the Mondoweiss site saying that “We deplore the UK’s complicity in Israeli war crimes, most recently the massacres and destruction of homes and livelihoods in Gaza last summer,” “It is well known how Israel has expelled the Palestinian population from their land and enforced a systematic, military and illegal occupation against those that remain. What is less well known is that the

UK has been aiding and abetting Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.” The Jewish community that was living in the UK pointed out that UK export licenses have been granted for over £42 million of UK military hardware and communications equipment since 2010. “We ask: How can UK companies be allowed to profit from exporting arms or components to Israel when these products may be involved with the Israeli bombardment in the summer of 2014 that killed over 2,100 people, including over 500 children?” they wrote. The group called on all companies and individuals involved to not trade from firms that support the arms trade with Israel. “We urge you to heed the Palestinian call for the boycott of Israeli products, divestment from firms that support Israel and sanctions against the Israeli regime,” they conclude. “The UK need not be complicit in such evident crimes against humanity. Crimes against a people who are mostly children and refugees, a people who need the world to stop turning their backs on the endless catastrophes that the most heavily militarized army in the Middle East has imposed on them.”

Scottish Police investigating rendition flights request un-redacted report

Prosecutors have confirmed that police investigating the use of Scottish airports by CIA ‘rendition’ flights have asked that the US provide them with an un-redacted version of the Senate’s report on the detention and interrogation programme. In 2013, the Lord Advocate – Scotland’s chief prosecutor – asked Police Scotland to investigate the use of airports by CIA rendition flights. Following the release of a major report on the issue by the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) last year, he also instructed them to request an unredacted copy of the document as part of their investigation. This could provide

significant new evidence to the police, says the legal charity Reprieve, as the version of the report made public by the SSCI in December 2014 was heavily redacted, and amounted to only around one tenth of the full document. In a letter to Reprieve received earlier this month, the Lord Advocate’s department confirmed for the first time that the request for the un-redacted document has now been made to the US – although “nothing has been received at this time.” Reprieve – which represents a number of victims of the CIA’s rendition and torture programme – is calling for the Scottish and UK Governments to give their support to

the police’s request. Reprieve’s Donald Campbell said: “A full, un-redacted version of the Senate’s report is a crucial piece of evidence for the investigation into the use of Scottish airports by CIA torture flights. “It is therefore encouraging that this request has been made. However, with the response not yet clear, it is vital that the US is left in no doubt of how serious Scotland is about getting to the bottom of this. Ministers from both the Scottish and the UK Governments must do everything they can to back up this request, if they are serious about showing that this country does not tolerate torture.”


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UK MPs push for release of Shaker in Washington D.C.

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A cross-party delegation of MPs have returned from talks in Washington D.C. to lobby for the return of the last remaining Briton in Guantanamo Bay, Shaker Aamer. Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn and Andy Slaughter with Conservatives David Davis (a former Shadow Home Secretary) and Andrew Mitchell (a former Chief Whip) held meetings with Senators, Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

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and Dick Durbin (D-IL), who, with their colleague, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), recently wrote a letter to President Obama calling for the release of the 57 men approved for release, and Joe Manchin (D-WV). The MPs also met Paul Lewis, the Special Envoy for the closure of Guantánamo in the Pentagon, and Charles Trumbull, the Acting Special Envoy for the closure of Guantánamo

in the State Department, just beofro departing back to the uk theMPs met Senator John McCain, the former Presidential candidate who is currently the chair of the influential Senate Armed Services Committee. Shaker Aamer, a 48 year old Londoner, has been detained at Guantanamo Bay since 2002. He has never been charged, never faced a trial and has been cleared for release under both the Bush and Obama administrations. His British wife and four British children live in London and it is longstated British government policy that Shaker be returned home to the UK. In January, following talks between PM David Cameron and President Obama, the White House said it would “prioritise” Mr Aamer’s case, but concerns were raised when, one month later, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that Mr Aamer’s case was not “on his desk.” There has been renewed hope after Shaker’s lawyer Clive Stafford Smith said in a recent interview that he could be release this month.

IHRC urges opposition parties to challenge new anti-terror laws Proposals announced by the new Tory government to institute yet more draconian and discriminatory anti-terror legislation have prompted IHRC to write to opposition parties in the new parliament calling on them to take a stand against the measures. In the letter addressed to Labour, Lib-Dems, Green and SNP MPs, IHRC expresses its “deep alarm” over the proposals saying they will sanction people simply for expressing opinions that are contrary to government policy. It calls on the MPs to oppose the plans to ban groups or disrupt individuals if they participate in socalled ‘harmful’ activities which IHRC views as a way of tackling behaviour that does not breach existing legislation. The powers stand to give the government carte blanche to proscribe activities that do not breach

any existing laws. IHRC says it is also strongly opposed to new powers intended for Ofcom to impose strict guidelines on broadcasters, which will result in major restrictions on certain sections of the press. IHRC is also against Home Office plans to draw up a blacklist of organisations and individuals deemed to be colluding in so-called entryism, or infiltrating democratic institutions with the intention of sezing control of them. “These policies are fundamentally racist succumbing to a far-right ideology that minority groups seek to cause the collapse of the British state”, says the letter. It adds: “It is clear from previous government rhetoric and policies that when the state refers to ‘terrorist’ and ‘extremist’, they are referring to

Muslims.” The letter also draws attention to plans to legislate a positive duty to express support for British values. The government’s much criticised anti-radicalistaion Prevent programme already seeks to identify and rehabilitate those who express ‘vocal or active opposition to British values’. However this new development goes further by suggesting the need to actively promote an undefined set of British values. This sets up a platform for the state to forcibly indoctrinate people with its propaganda, leaving little room for genuine and justified criticisms of the state. The full text of the letter can be viewed at http://ihrc.org. uk/activities/campaigns/11432-aletter-to-the-opposition-regardingthe-counter-terror-proposals.


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UK children holding racist views

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In Case You Missed It

A new survey reveals that 6,000 schoolchildren has found widespread misconceptions about the number of immigrants and non-white people living in England, as well as negative

attitudes towards Muslims and those born overseas. The survey is believed to be the largest of its kind to be carried out in the UK. It has also found that 60%

of the children questioned believed it was true that “asylum seekers and immigrants are stealing our jobs”, while 35% agreed or partly agreed that “Muslims are taking over our country”. According to the study, 47% the average estimate for the proportion of foreign-born people living in the UK. The survey was carried out by the charity Show Racism the Red Card (SRTRC). It is based on questionnaires sent to more than 60 schools around the country from 2012 to 2014. Ged Grebby, SRTRC’s chief executive, said the findings raised serious questions about the information young people were getting from the media and sharing online, and warned that more needed to be done to prevent them succumbing to far-right ideologies. The study of 5,945 children aged from 10 to 16 at schools across England.

A supermarket chain has apologised after a black pudding product was incorrectly labelled as halal-certified. Muslim customers at Aldi were left fuming by the blunder that saw supposedly halal black pudding being sold containing pork blood and skins, the Mirror reported. The newspaper quoted Manahil Khan as saying: “This is absolutely outrageous and I am deeply offended by this. “I am pretty sure many others of the Muslim community are also very offended by this. “It is demoralising and goes against one’s religious morals and scripture.... and I speak on behalf of every Muslim and human that does not deserve to be misled by any sort

of false claim of halal food or lies about what we consume.” Manufacturer Punjab Pakora, based in Ayr, apologised for the incident, saying it was a printing mistake which had now been rectified, as did Aldi. Punjab Pakora directors Kushal and Vinita Duggal put a statement on the company’s website which said: “We are issuing a notice about the recent discovery of halal being advertised on the black pudding sleeve as being a printing mistake, and have rectified the issue immediately, we sincerely apologise to the public who have been affected by this mistake and would like to thank everyone who brought this

error to our attention.” An Aldi spokesman said: “Regarding the Punjab Pakora Black Pudding Pakora (supplied by Punjab Pakora), we have now investigated this matter with the supplier, who has advised that the packaging was incorrectly labelled as halal-certified and the problem is currently being rectified. This product was only on sale in Scotland and has now been recalled. “We apologise for any confusion caused by this unfortunate, isolated matter. While this is not a food safety or legal compliance issue, any customers who are not satisfied are welcome to return their purchase to store for a full refund.”

Apology over ‘halal’ black pudding on sale in Aldi


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EX-Gitmo inmate dies of mistreatment www.pi-media.co.uk

I June 2015

A man formerly held at the US-run Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba has died in Kazakhstan as a result of maltreatment in detention and inadequate healthcare after release, a source says. Asim Thabit Abdullah al-Khalaqi, a Yemeni national who was held at the notorious detention camp for 11 years, died on May 7 of kidney failure triggered by the long internment, according to Khalaqi’s friend, Jihad Dhiab, also known as Abu Wa’el Dhiab. Dhiab, a Syrian ex-Guantanamo prisoner who is now living in

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Uruguay, made the remarks in an interview with British daily The Guardian. “It (Khalaqi’s death) was a consequence of his years in Guantanamo and the lack of proper healthcare both in the prison and in Kazakhstan,” Dhiab said, adding, the 47-year-old “repeatedly requested health attention through his lawyer, but after a few medical checks he was told he was fine.” However, Myles B. Caggins III, a spokesman for the US Department of Defense, rejected Dhiab’s allegations, claiming that Khalaqi

India Muslims decry communal divisions A leading Indian Muslim organization has decried efforts led by far-right groups to demonize the country Muslim minority, stressing that Muslims have fought for the country’s independence against the British empire and still defend their country against any threats. “The community that could fight against the British who believed sun never sets in their empire, will not cow down in fear of something that small groups are trying to create within the country,” Jamiat Ulema-IHind chief Maulana Arshad Madani said, Times of India reported. Madani was speaking at the outfit’s 32nd general session held at Ramlila Maidan. He added that hundreds of thousands of Muslims are Indians “by

choice and not by chance”. The Muslim leader, whose words were met by huge applause, said there was a choice before Muslims to shift to Pakistan, but most of them stayed back and fought for the country’s independence. Nevertheless, he decried communal elements, both in government and outside, have carried out campaigns as if “our religion, culture, constitution and identity, nothing is safe”. Despite rising anti-Muslim campaigns and attacks across the country, Madani accused the government of maintaining “studied silence”. He added that for the next 20 years each member of the community must ensure that no child is deprived of education and training.

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got “outstanding medical care” at Guantanamo and received a health screening before release. Khaliqi, who had been held at the detention camp since 17 January 2002, was released from jail and resettled in Kazakhstan in December 2014. The Guantanamo Bay detention facility was set up after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center complex in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. The US currently keeps 122 prisoners at the infamous jail. Washington says the prisoners are terror suspects, but has not pressed charges against most of them in any court.The US military has been criticized for force-feeding Guantanamo prisoners who have been engaged in hunger strikes for years to protest their confinement. Despite a promise by US President Barack Obama to close the prison due to its damage to the US reputation, the facility remains open with more than 120 detainees, many of them without charge or trial.

Lawyers protest German data retention A large group of lawyers gathered in Berlin to protest against a proposed data retention law that will force telecom companies to retain customers’ phone and Internet data for 10 weeks. The draft law was adopted by the German federal government last month. Organized by a Hamburgbased group calling itself Lawyers Against Total Surveillance, the demonstration outside Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office saw a large group of lawyers dressed in legal robes protest the bill that allows mass storage of data as they carried banners that read “Protect lawyers’ secrets,” “No tapping lawyers,” and “Freedom is a basic right.”


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I June 2015

Turkey slams politician’s expulsion from Belgian party 14

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has condemned the decision of a political party in Belgium for expelling a female politician over her refusal to recognize the 1915 events as “genocide”. In comments made on Twitter about the Humanist Democratic Centre (CHD) party’s decision to expel parliamentarian Mahinur Ozdemir, Cavusoglu termed the

move as “unacceptable”. “Is this your understanding of democracy and freedom?” he tweeted. Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said in a statement that it was “worrisome” to see Ozdemir getting expelled. “We are astonished about the non-democratic decision of a party in Belgium, who has a rooted tradition

in democracy,” Bilgic said. He also said that the expulsion of Ozdemir would not contribute to the integration of 220,000 Turkish-origin Belgium citizens in the country. Mahinur Ozdemir, who is the first woman with a headscarf to become member of the Belgian parliament, told that she refused to recognize the 1915 events as “genocide” and was later expelled by a committee from her party. CHD President Benoit Lutgen said that any member of the party who denied what he called ‘the Armenian genocide’ would be expelled. Ozdemir, who did not attend a standing ovation to commemorate the 1915 events, said there was no court order that could force one to recognize the events concerning Armenians; moreover, the European Parliament’s resolution in April for recognition of the 1915 events as “genocide” was also non-binding. She also alleged that the CHD felt uncomfortable because of her headscarf.

Diplomats from certain Arab counties that do not have open diplomatic relations with the Tel Aviv regime have had a secret meeting with Israeli officials in Jordan, a report says. The report by the Arabic website of Israeli radio station Voice of Israel, did not specify the nationalities of the Arab diplomats who are said to have been present at the meeting, Ma’an news agency reported. During the purported meeting, the Arab representatives expressed their relevant states’ interest in cooperating with Israel over “security” matters in the Middle East.

The report added that delegates from the European Union (EU) as well as the United States were also in attendance of the secret meeting. Moreover, several Arab diplomats said countries in the Middle East should be preparing for a “new reality” in the region. Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab countries that have open relations with Israel. On April 15, 2014, then Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tel Aviv is holding secret talks with some Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, in an effort to create diplomatic relations to unite

against Iran. “There are contacts, there are talks, but we are very close to the stage in which within a year or 18 months it will no longer be secret, it will be conducted openly,” Lieberman said, Hebrew-language Yedioth Ahronoth reported. The newspaper also quoted the Israeli minister as saying that some new “peace” accords between Israel and Arab states would be signed in 2019. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, however, vehemently denied the existence of any such talks with Tel Aviv.

Arab diplomats secretly meet Israeli officials

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Human Rights Watch slams Israeli eviction rulings 16

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In Case You Missed It

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticized two recent rulings by Israel’s Supreme Court, which, it said, would allow the Israeli authorities to forcibly evict the residents of two Arab villages from their homes. “It’s a sad day when Israeli Supreme Court decisions provide legal cover for forced evictions, as in the case of these two villages,” Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director, said in a statement. “The Israeli government should let these communities stay where they are, not force them to move yet again,” she asserted. HRW said that the court – in two separate rulings made last month – would allow the Israeli authorities to evict the inhabitants of two Arab villages, one in Israel and the other in the occupied West Bank, after they had already been displaced once by Israeli authorities.

According to the rights watchdog, between 750 and 1,000 Palestinians who live in Umm al-Hiran, a village in Israel’s southern Negev Desert, face the prospect of displacement. Israel initially relocated the villagers to the area in which they now live following a 1956 agreement that allowed them to live there in return for dropping claims to land from which they were expelled by Jewish groups upon the creation of Israel in 1948. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the land in question belonged to the state, which was entitled to withdraw permission for the current inhabitants to live there. The decision comes against the backdrop of a 2009 decision by the Israeli authorities to allow the land to be used for building a Jewish community. In a separate ruling, the court decided against freezing demolition

orders for the West Bank Arab village of Susya, which is home to some 340 residents. HRW noted that village residents had built homes on their own farmland in 1986 after Israel declared the village’s original location nearby “an archeological site” and evicted them from caves that had served as their homes. Today, a Jewish settlement – also called Susya – that includes outposts built without Israeli government authorization, stands near the archeological site, HRW asserted, citing data from Regavim, a prosettlement Israeli organization that lobbies for the expropriation of such land. “But the residents of the Palestinian village cannot build or extend their homes lawfully on the land they own because Israeli authorities have refused to prepare a zoning plan for the area,” HRW said. The watchdog said it had previously documented how the Israel authorities – in both the Negev and West Bank – were apply zoning laws in “a discriminatory manner that frequently restricts the ability of Arabs to build lawfully”. “Around 80,000 Bedouin live under constant threat of demolition in 35 villages that Israel does not recognize in the Negev, under conditions similar to Umm al-Hiran,” HRW noted.

7 million pilgrims expected to visit Makkah this Ramadan More than 7 million pilgrims are expected to perform Umrah in Saudi Arabia during the next two months, according to local media. King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah – the main gateway to Islam’s two holiest cities, Makkah and Madinah – is preparing to receive about 20,000 flights by the end of Ramadan, expected about July 17. That is almost the equivalent

to the number of flights carrying pilgrims into the area during the sixmonth Umrah season that finished on May 16, Saudi Gazette said. An additional airport terminal reserved for the busy Umrah and Haj periods is expected to open mid June, with a capacity of 60,000, director of Haj and Umrah services at the airport Khaled Al Harbe, was quoted as saying.

Haj – the pilgrimage to Makkah during Ramadan – is one of the five pillars of Islam. The kingdom is carrying out an unprecedented $20 billion renovation and extension of the Grand Mosque to accommodate 1 million pilgrims at a time. The construction work has forced authorities to halve the number of religious visas issued to foreigners.


Muslim call to prayer in 50 US states www.pi-media.co.uk

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In Case You Missed It

From a beach in Hawaii to a mosque in Alaska to Disneyland in California, Jameel Syed of Farmington Hills recited the Muslim call to prayer in 50 states over the past months. Last month the 40-year-old father of two concluded his religious journey at the Islamic Association of Greater Detroit in Rochester Hills, where he is the muezzin, the name for the person who recites the call to prayer five times a day announcing to the faithful it’s time to worship God. He’s believed to be the first person to recite the prayer in all 50 states. “It was amazing,” Syed said of his 35-day trip across America. “It was an epic journey on some many levels.” Syed interacted with Muslims of different races and ethnicities, and many non-Muslims as well, striking up conversations in taxis, airports

and mosques, Detroit Free Press reported. “I was in awe of the generosity and hospitality and love from people I never knew before,” Syed said. In Hawaii, he recited the Muslim call to prayer after meeting nonMuslims on the beach. In California, he said it inside a prayer room at Disneyland. And he met with the families of victims of hate crimes: in Chapel Hill, N.C., at the mosque attended by three Muslim students shot dead in January, and in Kansas City with the father of a SomalianAmerican boy killed in a hit-and-run. His journey came at a time when Islam was once again in the spotlight. The Boston Marathon bomber verdict happened near the beginning of the trip, and the shooting in Garland, Texas, outside an anti-Islam cartoon event, happened near the end.

Muslim girls denied entry to Brussel school

Thirty Muslim students were denied entry to the De Mot-Couvreur institute in Brussels for wearing long skirts. The director of the school said it breached the school’s regulations as long skirts were a ‘symbol of

religiosity.’ The students protested outside the school demanding entry to the school. However the police were eventually called by the school and dispersed the students.

At the start, anti-Islam bloggers circulated an article bashing Syed’s trip, sparking concern he could be attacked by haters. But Syed said he had positive experiences. In addition to reciting the call to prayer, Syed delivered the last speech of Mohammed [PBUH) in mosques, a speech that he said called for racial and gender equity, fairness and peace. Syed said that Prophet Mohammed’s [PBUH] message is needed more than ever, recalling that people cried in mosques when he delivered it. Syed said he hoped the trip helped promote harmony at a time of division. Referring to the attack at the cartoon event, he said: The antiIslam cartoonists “are hatemongers, and the people who reacted to it are hatemongers. It’s just sad this is the world we live in. Faith is supposed to bring people together.” Syed hopes to write a book and produce a documentary about his experiences. The logistics of the travels were difficult. But with the help of his faith, he got through. Syed said: “It was not easy, but ... God always comes on time.”

Quran and Sunnah miracle event in Spain The 11th edition of international conference on scientific miracle in the Quran will kick off in the Spanish capital of Madrid on June 6. The scholarly event will be hosted by the city’s Islamic Cultural Center. The International Commission on Scientific Signs in Quran and Sunnah is organizing the conference in cooperation with the Madrid Islamic Cultural Center and the universities of Granada, Catalonia, and Girona. Quranic miracles in the fields of linguistics, law, medicine, astronomy, marine sciences, cosmology and humanities will be discussed at the three-day event.


Swiss tourist resorts ready for Ramadan

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Halal meat served around the clock, copies of the Quran in hotel rooms: The Swiss tourist industry is rolling out the red carpet – plus prayer mats with built-in compasses – for increasing numbers of Arab Muslim tourists. The many services compatible with Islamic customs reflect the importance of Arabs from the Persian Gulf states, the fastest-growing source of arrivals in Switzerland in absolute terms. People from the Persian Gulf spent an additional 148,000 nights in Swiss hotels last year, making up almost singlehandedly for the 179,000 fewer German tourists, who still constitute the largest group of inbound visitors. Once preferring to stay close to

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Geneva and other scenic locations on the Lake Geneva shore, Persian Gulf state residents have been booking into hotels in Zurich and Lucerne and tourist hot spots in the Bernese Alps like Interlaken. These developments have in part been the result of efforts by the national marketing body, Switzerland Tourism, which established an office in Dubai in 2003. Besides organizing exhibitions and other events, the office caters to guests from the region through its Arabic language website and provides special family offers like free train tickets for children under 16. The Swiss tourist industry is keen to keep Persian Gulf state visitors coming back since they are big spenders too – averaging more than

CHF500 ($540) per person per day and staying longer (three nights) than the average, often in a luxury hotel. With that goal in mind, the marketing office, in cooperation with the hotels association, has been hard at work ensuring they feel at home in Switzerland. A booklet focusing on guests from the Persian Gulf contains important information about the countries of the region and their cultural and religious customs and traditions, as well as business ethics and instructions on how to treat Arab guests. And to educate hotel staff, tourist offices have hosted workshops like this one. Interlaken, where visitors from the Persian Gulf account for close to 10% of all nights in hotels, has been very active in this regard, providing a wide range of activities adapted to Arab guests, such as evening cruises with halal barbecues and tandem paragliding flights with female pilots accompanying female Arab tourists. The four-star Hotel Metropole in Interlaken offers prayer mats with built-in compasses (to locate Makkah) for free, a prayer hall and a corner of Arab cuisine, according to the Metropole manager, Marco von Euw. Ramadan, the month of fasting which begins this year on June 18.

Religious profiling of Muslim children causes outcry in France

A French mayor backed by the far-right Front National has been accused of racism after using the names of schoolchildren in his town to decide how many were Muslim. Under France’s strict secularism laws, the government does not keep statistics on people’s religion or ethnicity. Robert Menard, the mayor of Béziers in the southern region of Languedoc-Roussillon, said in a live TV broadcast that his administration

had listed the school kids’ names to see how many were Muslim, The Guardian reported. Menard said that about 64 percent of the town’s schoolchildren are Muslims, added that the figure was obtained by counting the names of the kids “class by class.” According to an opinion piece published in the French daily Le Monde, what Menard did is illegal under article 226-19 of the French Penal Code and can be punishable

by up to five years in prison or a 300,000-euro fine. “I know I don’t have the right to do it. Sorry to say it, but the first names tell us their religion. To say otherwise is to deny the evidence,” he said. Reacting to the incident, Prime Minister Manuel Valls denounced the move, saying, “Shame on the mayor of Béziers. The Republic does not make any distinction between its children.”


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Italian Muslims pray in Supermarkets and Car Parks

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Italian Muslims are praying in warehouses, parking lots and garages due to the lack of official mosques in the country. There are some 1.5 million Muslims in Italy but only two official, purpose-built mosques – in Rome and Milan – plus a handful, around five, that resemble mosques but are in fact cultural associations, according to Nicoló Degiorgis, an Italian photographer who has spent

years observing Muslims praying in the north-east of the country as part of an award-winning photobook, Hidden Islam. And while Catholicism, Buddhism, Judaism and Mormonism are formally recognized religions in Italy, Islam, the country’s second largest religion, is not. During the course of his research, Degiorgis discovered Muslims praying in parking lots in the rain,

G4S boycott spreads for its role in Israeli jails

The University of Helsinki in Finland has canceled the security contract with private firm G4S over its role in Israel’s prison system. Palestinian organizations had launched a boycott and divestment campaign against the G4S firm in 2012 because the British company provides security equipment and services to Israeli prisons where thousands of Palestinians are detained, World Bulletin reported. Israel is notorius for keeping Palestinians in prison, in detention without trial and using systematic torture, including of children. The University of Helsinki’s decision comes after a campaign that was backed by unions representing its academics and students. In April 2014, a petition urging it to drop G4S was handed to the

university’s administration. Not long after, the university director’s Jukka Kola tweeted that the contract with G4S would be examined. Finnish company called Turvatiimi will be providing security services at the university. “We welcome this decision by the university. We’re delighted that so many parts of the University of Helsinki community joined us in opposing the role of G4S in Israel’s human rights abuses,” said Teivo Teivainen, one of the academics involved in launching the campaign. Durham County in North Carolina, the US, also recently voted to drop G4S. In Durham County, G4S provided security services at libraries and police, and civic buildings. The contract was worth $1million dollars.

in supermarkets, garages, etc. “I didn’t realize Muslims were using all these different kinds of spaces, it was surprising,” he says, adding,“It causes Muslims great sadness and frustration”. Imam Yahya Pallavicini, vicepresident of the Islamic Religious Community in Italy, says: “We have just a few official mosques in the country and hundreds of Islamic centers, but many of these centers do not have the dignity or quality of an official place of worship. This is the reality.” In Venice, relations between the city’s authorities and the Muslim community reportedly are good. But there is growing frustration that the majority of Muslims have to pray in their garages or flats. The nearest main Islamic centre is in Marghera, on the mainland, more than 10 kilometres away.

13 Muslim graves vandalized in Switzerland Thirteen graves thought to belong to deceased Muslims were damaged in acts of vandalism last month in the Swiss city of Lausanne, police said. The damaged headstones in the Bois-de-Vaux cemetery bore the names of people thought to be Muslim based on their names appearing to be of Arab or North African origin, Efe news agency reported. However, none of the sites had specific symbols distinguishing the buried as Muslims, although each grave was oriented toward Mecca, as required by Islamic law. Police confirmed that investigations were launched and that preliminary reports indicated that the vandals were intentionally targeting Muslim graves.


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Danish culinary school fined $6,000 for forcing Muslim student to taste pork

A Danish court has ordered a culinary school to pay around $6,000 in damages to its Muslim student after a woman was required to taste pork as part of her studies. The 24-year-old student, who arrived in Denmark from Libya, when she still was a baby, attended the Holstebro Culinary School, named after the town where it’s located, RT reported. According to the Politiken daily, the student, whose name wasn’t revealed by the paper, was told by

school officials that she would have to taste the food she cooks. Dishes the group cooked contained pork, forbidden for Muslims due to religion, prompting the woman to abstain from trying them. As she refused, she was asked to only taste, but not to swallow the pork dishes. She also reportedly stopped going to the school as a result of the requirement to eat pork. The woman recorded the

US lamb producers eye growing halal meat market

Lamb and sheep meat producers in the US have refocused their sights on Americas Muslim families to expand business. The American Lamb Board is hoping it can entice the 5.7 million Muslims living in America and their $98 billion spending power, according to a report aired on National Public Radio. Megan Wortman, the executive director of the American Lamb Board said that the board’s members have planned large media campaigns for “pasture-to-plate lamb” in Muslim hotspots such as Detroit, Chicago and New York. The report notes that meat producers are cognizant of the “halal” animal slaughtering and processing

procedures in order to make their product acceptable for Muslim families. Americans in general are not particularly fond of lamb, consuming about a half-pound of lamb a year. On the other hand, they eat 50 pounds of beef and almost 90 pounds of chicken annually. While the American Lamb Board said it was keen on getting more Americans to consume lamb, there were many lamb-loving communities including Muslims, Jews, Lebanese, Mexicans, Central Americans, Greeks, Italian, Eastern European and African communities. But a growing Muslim population presents greater opportunities. www.pi-media.co.uk

conversation with school officials and later presented the tape as evidence in court. The woman said that she was being discriminated against on religious grounds and filed a complaint against the school to the Equal Treatment Board. The board upheld her claim and ordered the school to pay the student $75,000 in moral damages. The culinary school challenged the verdict in the Danish High Court, saying that the woman hadn’t graduated as she missed classes too often. The High Court upheld the lower court’s decision, but ordered the school to pay a smaller sum in compensation of 40,000 Danish krone (around $6,000). Denmark is home to a Muslim minority of 200,000, making three percent of the country’s 5.4 million population.

Bulgaria confiscates Islamic relics

Islamic relics belonging to Muslim foundations in Bulgaria have been seized by the Bulgarian government. The Sofia Court of Appeal has passed a decision that Islamic relics belonging to Muslims during the era’s of the Bulgarian Head mufti, the Prinicipality of Bulgaria, the Kingdom of Bulgaria and the People’s Republic of Bulgaria have no legal ownership by Muslims and that more than 1,500 objects have been seized claming that Muslims have no legal ownership over them. The decision is final as a result of the lawsuit filed by the SunniHanafi Muslims Foundation court case. After the court’s decision all cases requesting the requesting the return of the relics by the Sunni-Haniafi Muslims will be dropped.


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Chinese university bans hijab

A university in central China city of Xian has imposed a new ban on Muslim students’ hijab, ordering them to remove the religious attire inside the campus. “The headscarf ban has spread to all Muslim students of various ethnic groups, including the Uyghur, Kazak and Hui people,” a student who spoke on condition of anonymously said in an interview with the state-run Global Times, UCA News reported. “The authorities claimed that the ban was released by the Ministry of Education,” the student added. News about a hijab ban in Shaanxi Normal University in Xian, a city with a large Islamic population,

first appeared in April when reportedly nine female Muslims were told to remove their veils. Reports later said that the university issued a notice banning Islamic headscarves. Another male student was also reportedly accused of “illegal preaching” after he was caught reading the Quran in a cafeteria at the same university last month. “We accept their customs. But our bottom line is that we do not allow students to engage in religious activities,” Li Chenzi, a university official, wrote on the Chinese question-and-answer website Zhihu. com yesterday after debate over the

ban went viral. Xian has traditionally seen few restrictions on its multi-ethnic population which includes at least 50,000 minority Hui Muslims, many of whom live in the narrow streets around the city’s Great Mosque, the oldest in China. Authorities in restive Xinjiang outlawed Islamic veils from all public places at the start of the year. Similar crackdown was imposed in Kashgar last March when authorities boasted that a number of “outlaws blinded by religious extremism” had been sentenced for wearing burqas, or full-face veil. Since April 2014, authorities of Xinjiang started offering cash rewards to informants who report on their neighbors for wearing beards. Top communist party leader in Kashgar warned against donning the Islamic headscarf, describing the city as a “frontline” in its battle against extremism. Earlier in December, China banned the wearing of Islamic veiled robes in public in Urumqi, the capital of the province of Xinjiang. The law in the predominantly Muslim region came as Beijing intensified its so-called campaign against “religious extremism” that it blames for recent violence.

EU calls Israeli settlement expansion Illegal In Case You Missed It

The European Union confirmed that the decision by Israeli authorities to expand the illegal settlement of Ramat Shlomo northeast of Jerusalem is illegal and threatens future peace in the region. EU representative Katherine Ray said that as settlements are illegal under international law, the EU and its Member States are “committed to ensure continued, full and effective implementation of existing EU legislation and bilateral arrangements applicable to settlements,” Ma’an news agency reported. The construction of 900 homes in the Jewish-only Ramat Shlomo settlement was approved by the

Zionist regime’s District Planning and Building Committee. The plan was initially proposed in 2010. EU’s Foreign Ministers unanimously called on Israel to reverse decisions for further settlement construction in occupied East Jerusalem in November 2014, but to no avail. The approval for the Ramat Shlomo expansion came as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was in the final stages of piecing together a coalition government that will include the far-right Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home), which strongly backs settlement building and opposes a Palestinian state.

In the run up to his reelection in March, Netanyahu vowed to step up settlement construction in occupied East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognized by the international community.


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Indonesian football hit with sanctions for qualifiers

Indonesia, already facing the prospect of a FIFA ban for government interference, have been forced to play their World Cup and Asian Cup qualifier against Iraq in an empty stadium and their home tie against Thailand at a neutral venue. The decision was taken by the Asian Football Confederation after crowd trouble during two under-23 matches in March against East Timor and South Korea in Jakarta. Indonesia, who were also fined

$20,000 by the AFC and warned of heavier sanctions should such incidents recur, are scheduled to host Iraq on June 16 after they start their joint qualifying campaign in Taiwan on June 11. They then travel to Hanoi to face Vietnam in September before an October 8 clash at home to Southeast Asian champions Thailand. But whether Indonesia are allowed to compete in the 2018

World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers still remains a big doubt with the domestic game in lockdown after the season was cancelled following a row between local government and football association (PSSI). The two sides have been given until Friday to resolve their differences, which have stemmed from the PSSI’s repeated failure to expel two clubs from the Indonesian Super League at the government’s recommendation because of ownership concerns. The government have suspended the PSSI, who have cancelled the league season after two rounds. Meanwhile the players have been left in the lurch with no pay. “We will try our best to lobby FIFA not to impose sanctions on Indonesia,” PSSI chairman La Nyalla Mattalitti told The Jakarta Post. The lack of talks between the two parties suggest a FIFA ban is most likely.

Qatar eyes underwater TV broadcast studio for FIFA World Cup 2022

Qatar is considering building an underwater broadcast studio for use during TV coverage for the FIFA World Cup in 2022, a designer working on potential plans for the project has revealed. “The project we are in the process of designing for is an underwater broadcast centre [and] is quite a real possibility,” Patric Douglas, CEO of Reef Worlds, told Arabian Business in a phone interview from its base in Los Angeles. Douglas said Qatar’s World Cup authorities “like the design” and “they like the notion of doing the World Cup underwater with sharks swimming around.” The site for the proposed underwater broadcast centre would be a carved out area of rock, which would then be turned into a giant aquarium.

The project is likely to cost around $30 million to build and Douglas said the funding for it would be underwritten by broadcasters eager to use the unusual venue as a broadcast base when the Gulf state hosts the FIFA World Cup in 2022. “You could underwrite the entire thing with one Sky or Latin broadcast network, they will pay you enough money to finance this thing,” Douglas claimed. A final decision on whether to green light the project will be made in around two months’ time. US-based Reef Worlds became active in the Middle East market last year and announced plans to build “sustainable underwater tourism sites” in Dubai, the UAE and the wider Gulf. It is also currently working on an underwater amusement park project

on The World, the manmade series of islands in the shape of the map of the world off the coast of Dubai, which he said will hopefully move forward this year. The Qatar TV station proposal is the latest lavish underwater project to be pitched in the Gulf. Last month, a Polish architect confirmed he was is pitching designs for an underwater tennis centre off the coast of Dubai and is currently seeking investment from local backers to make the concept a reality. Krzysztof Kotala, who has a Master of Science in Architecture from Kraków Polytechnic and owns the 8+8 Concept Studio in Warsaw, has completed the initial designs. While the story made headlines around the world, he admitted he had yet to source any potential investors.


Pakistan host first match in six-years on home soil www.pi-media.co.uk

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Pakistan hosted its first international match in six years since Sri Lanka were forced to cut short their tour of Pakistan. Zimbabwe agreed to tour with the delight from Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the fans would be happy enough with the home side starting a fresh: a new opposition, renewed

hopes and whole lot more security. Even if it has cost the hosts a whopping $1m as reported. In the period of isolation Pakistan have won a World Twenty20, whitewash England and Australia, had four cricketers banned for fixing, reach the semi-finals of a World Cup and been humbled by Bangladesh.

Al Ain rugby festival a success

Over 700 Emirati youngsters took part in the last youth rugby festival of the season at Al Ain Rugby Club, organised by the UAE Rugby Federation and supported by HSBC. All 12 schools that competed were part of the UAE Rugby Player

Pathway Programme, launched in 2012 to promote the sport among Emiratis. To date over 3,000 youngsters play regular rugby across 23 schools nationwide, Al Ain is at the heart of that development with over 1,800 participants in schools. “We’ve had four new schools participate in this festival and around 200 more children, which is fantastic,” said Al Ain rugby coach Sami Smara. “It is very rewarding for both the children and myself to put on such an enjoyable festival competition where Emiratis can play, socialize and compete in a healthy environment.”

The ideal situation for resumption of international cricket in Pakistan would have seen Younus Khan stroll in to join Khurram Manzoor and carry on from where they left off for the day. The board has been forced to host matches mostly in the UAE. Costs have thus increased and revenues severely affected. Investment in local talent and the domestic cricket structure has been hampered. Stadiums in Pakistan have been in need of repair. Managing to ‘host’ matches abroad does allow the PCB to negotiate broadcasting terms but didn’t bring in the same amount as it would have at home. One of the contracts was signed with a local broadcaster in dire straits, the board willing to get whatever revenue it could as it anticipated a severe cashflow problem. It ended Zimbabwe losing to Pakistan in the Twenty20 series with a final-over win.

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Ramadan

Month of the Quran

Ramadan has a special relationship with the Qur’an, of course: “The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Qur’an was sent down, a guidance for mankind, clear proofs for the guidance, the Criterion; so whoever amongst you witnesses this month, let him fast it.” (Surah al-Baqarah 2:185) The word ‘so’ (fa) in this ayah leads to the following paraphrase of one aspect of its meaning: “Fast this month because it is the one in which the Qur’an was sent down”. Ibn ‘Abbas narrates “that the Messenger of Almighty (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam – may Almighty bless him and grant him peace) was the most generous person, and he would be at his most generous in

Ramadan because Jibril would come to him every night and he would rehearse the Qur’an with him.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Eng. trans. 6/486) This hadith contains recommendation of the following: * Studying the Qur’an in Ramadan; * Coming together for this purpose; *Checking (one’s memory/ knowledge of) the Qur’an with someone who has preserved it better; * Increasing recitation of the Qur’an in Ramadan; * That the night time is the best time to recite, when other preoccupations decrease and it is easier to concentrate, as in Surah al-Muzzammil 73:6. Further, Fatimah (may Almighty

be pleased with her) narrated from her father (may Almighty bless him and grant him peace), who told her that Jibril would rehearse the Qur’an with him (in Ramadan) once every year, and he did so twice in the year of his death. (Bukhari 6/485) After mentioning the above aspects of the Sunnah, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali talks about the situation of the Salaf (the early Muslims) during Ramadan: “... Some of the Salaf would complete reciting the whole Qur’an during the night prayer of Ramadan every three days, others every seven days e.g. Qataadah, others in 10 days e.g. Abu Rajaa’ al-Atardi. “The Salaf would recite Qur’an in Ramadan in Prayer as well as outside it.


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“Al-Aswad would finish the Qur’an every two nights in Ramadan; Ibrahim an-Nakh’I would do likewise in the last 10 nights specifically, and every three nights during the rest of the month. “Qataadah would regularly finish the Qur’an in seven days, but in three days during Ramadan, when he would study the Qur’an especially, and every night during its last 10 days. “Al-Zuhri would say when Ramadan began, ‘It is recitation of the Qur’an and feeding of people.’ When Ramadan began, Imam Malik would cease narrating Hadith and sitting with the people of knowledge, and stick to reciting the Qur’an from its pages, while Sufyan al-Thawri would leave other acts of worship and stick to reciting the Qur’an. ‘Aishah would recite from the pages of the Qur’an at the beginning of the day in Ramadan (i.e. after dawn), until when the sun had risen, she would sleep. “Zayd al-Yaami would bring copies of the Qur’an when Ramadan began and gather his companions around him. ...” Ibn Rajab later continues, “The forbiddance of completing recitation of the Qur’an in less than three days applies to this being made a regular practice, but as for favoured times such as Ramadan, especially the nights in which Laylat al-Qadr is sought, or favoured places such as Makkah for the visitor, it is recommended to increase reciting the Qur’an to avail the time and place. This is the view of Ahmad, Ishaq and other Imams, and the practice of others indicates this too.” The purpose here is not to discuss whether or not the latter view is correct or not, since that is purely academic for most of us, as we do not get anywhere near reciting the whole Qur’an in three days! However, the practice of the Prophet (may Almighty bless him and grant him peace), his Companions, and those

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who followed their path, should be clear enough. As a further example, Al-Bukhari (3/79) quotes from the noble Companion Zaid bin Thabit who answered the question, “How much time was there between the pre-dawn meal and the Dawn Prayer?” by saying, “Enough time to recite fifty ayat”; since the practice of the Arabs was to measure time in terms of everyday actions, this shows that the Sahabah were pre-occupied with the Qur’an, especially in Ramadan. Compare all this with our sad state, when we talk so much about establishing Islam, implementing the Qur’an, etc. and yet have such little contact with it, maybe not completing its recitation ever at all since childhood, or perhaps never! Hence we become imbalanced in our understanding of Islam, because there are ayat which we rarely or never hear or think about; we repeat only certain selected ayat over and over again; we lost the context of the verses, the overall flow, argument and balance of the Qur’an, all of which is beautiful and miraculous. Because of this ignorance we go astray from the Straight Path, split up into sects, lose the blessings of Almighty... “We took a covenant from those who said: we are Christians, but they forgot part of the message with which they had been reminded, so we ingrained amongst them enmity and hatred until the Day of Judgment...” (Surah al-Ma’idah 5:14) In Sahih Al-Bukhari (6/521), there is an amazing piece of advice from the Prophet (may Almighty bless him and grant him peace): “Recite the Qur’an as long as your hearts agree on it; if you disagree about it, stop reciting it (for the time being)” – studying the Qur’an should bring people together! In Surah al-Mu’minoon (23:53), there is mention of the people before us (in whose

footsteps we would follow), who broke up their Deen into sects (zuburan), each party rejoicing in what it had. “One understanding of this, from the word zuburan meaning literally ‘books’, is that each sect left the Book of Almighty, and concentrated solely on the books of its own sect, so “they split their Deen up into books”! The most twisted, ridiculous, shallow ideas, innovations and superstitions are propagated amongst Muslims when they are away from the Qur’an, because any little knowledge of the Qur’an would be enough to dispel them. Hence, O slave of Almighty, leave aside secondary books and concentrate on studying the Blessed Book of Almighty in the Blessed Month (use a good translation/commentary if needed), for it is the source of all Knowledge in other books, and keep away from wasting time, especially in futile discussions and arguments which lead nowhere, for that is a sure sign of being misguided, as the Prophet (may Almighty bless him and grant him peace) said, “Whenever a people went astray after they had been on guidance, they were given to argumentation (jadl).” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah – Sahih alJami’ al-Saghir, No. 5633) Finally, remember that the Messenger (may Almighty bless him and grant him peace) will complain to Almighty on the Day of Judgment that his people neglected the Qur’an (Surah alFurqan 25:30). Neglect of the Qur’an is of different levels, as Ibn al-Qayyim writes: Not reciting or listening to it; Not studying and understanding it; Not conveying its message; Not judging by it in personal and communal matters, at all levels of society; Not believing in it. All Praise is due to Almighty, Lord of the Worlds. By Abu Dharr, based on Ibn Rajab’s Lata’if al-Ma’arif


Inequality in education ?

26

I I FEATURED - EDUCATION FOCUS

World governments should not be proud of the link between low socio-economic background and poor educational attainment as it is widening. This is more worrying, when research tells us that education is linked to unemployment, happiness, and well-being as well as health and shorter-life expectancy. In the UK, educational inequality starts early, before a child even starts at school. Figures show huge gaps in vocabulary development, between children in the richest and poorest families. The gap is widens further at high school children as poorer-parents and their teacher’s attitudes are not as supportive. As a result, poorer children are getting any GCSEs and that means lower job prospects and poorer-life.

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In America, in the 1970’s many white and middle class blacks moved out of the cities and into towns and villages leaving the poor blacks and rising Hispanic American in those schools. Like in the UK, a child’s education level will determine their income level, class and mental health placing the young quickly at a stark disadvantage than a peer who receives one. The necessity for United States to have an equal education regardless of their neighbourhood or incomes, under the George Bush administration “No Child Left Behind” was a positive move to address this issue, however 13 years on, there still large inequalities. The Chinese government policy in 2012 was keen to promote educational equality and reduce

I June 2015

regional, rural-urban school gaps. The government has paid great attention to these “left-behind” kids and their educational policies are addressing the problem that has resulted from China’s increasing rate of urbanization. More than 20 million children moved from the rural to urban environment and many often were “left behind” children. The issue is universal in other similar industrialized countries. It is fair to say the much needed change will only be achieved through the collective effort of governments, leaders in schools, teachers and parents - until then educational inequality will remain a reality for industrialised nations. By Gulam H Dabhad www.facebook.com/Improvetuition www.twitter.com/improvetuition


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I June 2015

PUBLIC NOTICE

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I 27

What a great publication, really enjoyed reading it, refreshing to see news that really matters, please let me know if i can be of any help, well done to PI news team.

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Amy Newport I have been reading your magazine for the past few years and it is great reminder how mainstream media can really twist your mind to the thinking in their way, that is why news that PI place in the magazine is vital for not only for the Muslim community but for the whole community to understand that news is not always black and white, keep going and striving. Rupert North London Excellent Nepal issue shows how powerful that front page was, a humanitarian issue affected to one and all as one community, excellent journalism. Rev Stephen London

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PI Magazine June 2015  

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