Hindu-Muslim couple commit suicide
Indian Govt mulls backward Muslim sub-quota
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan rips through traditional views about women in Islam
A Vision for Muslim Empowerment
The Jihad to Enhance Oneself
London: New map exposes Pakistani designs on `Kashmir’
Trapped in Tora Bora in 2001, Osama had written his will
What the 9-11 Plotters Will Say in Court
61 militants killed in Pakistan’s Khyber Agency
Pak upset over UK PM's call for it to take tougher action against al-Qaida
Islamic Radicalism in Pakistan: From FATA to South Punjab
Al-Qaeda still main threat to Europe: EU anti-terror czar
Afghan sets in US prepare soldiers for real combat
Time's running out for Iran, warns US
Iran's nuclear programme started before 1979 Islamic Revolution
Iran offers $20m to militants for fighting west
Iran sees little point to nuclear curb pact: official
Iran vows to expand its nuclear program
Yemen: UN agencies battle with minors seeking new life in Gulf
Dubai Crisis Makes its Way to Asia
JEDDAH -- Imam, family members among flood fatalities
Hamas Bans Women Dancers, Scooter Riders in Gaza Islamic Drive
Israel - Summary of editorials from the Hebrew press
Fighting pushes Somalis, Islamist rebels, into Kenya
Somali camps may pose threat to US Insurgent group linked to Al Qaeda
Hong Kong Financial Firm Plans Sharia-Compliant Green Investment Vehicle
More Arrests in America's War on Islam
All for Muslim fashionistas
Amaechi Raises Hajj Slot for Rivers' Muslims
Former first lady's clothes mirror Turkey's journey
INDONESIA: Vote 'shows hatred of Muslims'
Compiled by Aman Quadri
URL of this Page: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamIslamicWorldNews_1.aspx?ArticleID=2169
‘Marry two million Russian Moslems to Chinese and Korean women’
30 November 2009
Ufa, November 30, Interfax - Talgat Tajuddin, the head of Central Muslim Board of Russia offered the way of the Far East counteraction by Chineses.
"Chineses will soon captivate all Siberia... I would direct one million of Tatars, one million of Bashkirs to the Far East and would marry them to Chinese and Korean women," Mufti told in an interview published by Bashkirian issue of Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.
According to him, the first wife of Tatars and Bashkirs, for example, must be a woman of their nation.
"And after that we would secure our country and eastern frontiers at the same time. This is the natural problem decision. And though we speak about it as for fun, it’s still necessary to solve a demographic problem. Therefore - marry, multiply and replenish," Tajuddin appealed.
He has also expressed approvingly idea of polygamy.
"I have no right to concern it negatively. Neither on Sharia, nor under the law. The more children, the better state," mufti has declared, reminded that ancient Prophets Abraham and Solomon were polygamists, and Prophet Mohammed also had some wives.
"Therefore it’s allowed for every Moslem to have up to four wives. But he should be capable to support all of them," Tajuddin underlined.
PTI 29 November 2009
VADODARA: A Muslim youth Sohil and Hindu girl Geeta Parsana from Babra of Amreli district allegedly committed suicide at a hotel here, police said today.
The incident took place yesterday after both of them rented a room at the hotel.
After noticing that the room occupied by them remained closed for more than 24 hours, the hotel management informed the police which broke open the door and found their bodies lying in the room.
Police said they recovered School Leaving Certificates from the spot which indicated their intention of getting married but might have decided against it fearing possible repercussions.
The bodies have been sent to an hospital for post mortem, police said.
New Delhi, Nov. 29: The government is “seriously” thinking of introducing a sub-quota for lower-caste Pasmanda Muslims within the existing 27 per cent reservation Other Backward Classes enjoy.
“The government is against reservation for the entire Muslim community but we are quite serious about special reservation for backward Muslims who are one of the most deprived sections in the country,” said an official with the minority affairs ministry.
Backward Muslims constitute around 70 per cent of the Muslim population in the country.
The official said the decision would be taken soon as there was consensus within the government regarding the plan. The percentage of reservation has, however, not been finalised yet.
“It can be 5 per cent or 6 per cent,” the official said, adding that a decision on backward Christians would be taken at an “appropriate time”.
Despite the consensus within the government, the ruling UPA is worried about the controversy the decision might trigger as Hindu OBCs are bound to oppose the move.
“The government is still against reservation on the basis of religion,” the official insisted. “Pasmanda Muslims are being considered for reservation because of their social and economic backwardness, not because they are Muslims.”
The official said the Sachar committee, which looked into the status of minorities in the country, had effectively brought out the internal caste differentiation among Indian Muslims.
The committee had advised against any attempt to homogenise the community as a single entity and said there were layers of marginalisation within Muslim society.
It had divided the community into two groups — Ashrafs and Ajlafs. While Ashrafs include all Muslims who claim to be of foreign descent and high-caste Hindus who converted, Ajlafs, meaning degraded, comprise occupational groups like butchers and low-caste Hindu converts.
Apart from concerns over the sub-quota’s potential for controversy, the government is confused about how to go about the process of implementing it. “Either we will have to create a Most Backward Category (MBC) among the existing list or we will have to do a survey to estimate the number of backward Muslims,” the official said.
The central OBC list now includes only 22 backward sections among thousands within the Muslim community.
The government, it is learnt, is thinking on the lines of the quota system in states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala where backward sections among minorities enjoy reservation.
Tamil Nadu has set aside 3.5 per cent of seats each for backward Muslims and Christians in educational institutions and government jobs.
Kerala has a 12 per cent quota for Muslims excluding the creamy layer. In Andhra Pradesh, the Legislative Assembly passed a bill in 2005, reserving 5 per cent of the seats for Muslims in educational institutions and government service.
Although backward sections within the Muslim and Christian communities have been demanding reservation for quite some time, successive governments had postponed a decision fearing repercussions.
The previous UPA government had set up a commission under Justice Ranganath Mishra to look into the issue and the panel had suggested a sub-quota for backward Muslims and Christians on the ground that castes existed irrespective of religion.
By Yoginder Sikand
Director of the New Delhi-based Centre for Peace and Spirituality, editor of the monthly Al-Risala journal and author of almost two hundred books, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan is one of India’s best known Islamic scholars. In this interview with Yoginder Sikand, he talks about issues related to Islam and women.
You have written extensively on the issue of Islam and women. Contrary to many traditional ulema, you argue the case for gender equality in Islam. How does your approach differ from that of most traditionalist scholars?
The approach of the traditionalists is based largely on the corpus of medieval fiqh, while my understanding is based on a direct reading of the principal or original sources of Islam—the Quran and the authentic Hadith. The former, by and large, uphold what can be called the Muslim cultural tradition that developed in the medieval period of Muslim history. So, I would call mine a scriptural approach and theirs a cultural approach.
Take, for instance, the institution of the burqa, which many traditionalists stress as essential for Muslim women. The burqa is part of Muslim culture, but is not mentioned or advocated in the Quran. Another example is the traditionalist ulema’s insistence that women and un-related men cannot, or should not, talk to each other, on the grounds that, so they say, a woman’s voice is aurah, or something to be kept concealed from such men. This notion is absent in the original sources of Islam. In fact, there are many hadith reports that tell us that there was considerable intellectual exchange between men and women at the time of the Prophet. For instance, Ayesha, one of the wives of the Prophet, regularly spoke to or addressed many of the Prophet’s Companions, on a vast range of issues. They used to come to her for guidance and discussion. According to one report, whenever the Companions faced a problem to which they could find no answer they would approach Ayesha. So, how, then, can it be said that a woman’s voice is aurah?
I am not aware of any authentic hadith that describes a woman’s voice as aurah. If the traditionalists have any such proof of their claim, they must offer it. But even supposing, hypothetically, they are able to come up with such proof, we need to redefine or reinterpret it in the present context, and also by taking account the accepted principle, recognised by Islamic scholars, that sometimes ‘necessity makes the unlawful lawful’. We are living in a vastly different age today, where there is simply no escape from hearing the voice of women!
Full report at: http://twocircles.net/2009nov29/maulana_wahiduddin_khan_rips_through_traditional_views_about_women_islam.html
November 30, 2009
Having served for several years as the amir of the Jamaat-e Islami’s Kerala wing, Siddiq Hasan was appointed as the head of the Social Service Department at the Jamat’s national office in New Delhi. He comes across as a mild-mannered, soft-spoken man, but he bubbles with ideas, and his enthusiasm is infectious. From what he tells me and from the literature that he provides, it appears that the Jamaat-e-Islami, one of India’s most influential Islamic organizations, is increasingly seeking to seriously engage with the myriad economic and social concerns of India’s Muslims.
Although working for the social, educational and economic progress of the community has been part of the Jamaat’s mandate ever since it was established in 1941, Hasan admits that, particularly in north India, this was not given the attention it deserved till recently.
‘Frequent communal riots and bouts of anti-Muslim violence’, he says, ‘forced the Jamaat to focus particularly on relief and rehabilitation, instead of the social, economic and economic empowerment of the community.’ This was reflected in the fact that it was only recently, in 2006, that the Jamaat decided to set up a national-level Social Service Department, whose head Hasan has been since it was established.
This Department was the brain-child of the former amir of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, the well-known scholar Abdul Haq Ansari. Aware and appreciative of the role of the Kerala branch of the Jamaat in setting up welfare-oriented educational, health and vocational training institutions in the state, he decided that the Jamaat needed to replicate these efforts at the national-level as well in an organized manner. Hasan was the obvious choice for heading this project.
Full report at: http://www.ummid.com/news/November/30.11.2009/a_vision_for_muslim_empowerment.htm
Some label terrorism committed by Muslims as jihad. This irresponsible labelling grants religious legitimacy to heinous acts. Misinformed media pundits twist the richness of the term jihad to mean holy war, notes Abed Z. Bhuyan.
New York - If being an educator has taught me anything, it is that the human element of any endeavour cannot be ignored. I don't just teach history–I teach history to 11th graders. Without the students, there'd be no papers to grade, no hoarse voice at the end of the day, no chalk on my pants. I must remain conscious of the wide range of human realities present in my classroom. In fact, I concede that my most serious failures come when I forget not just the humanity of my students, but my own.
As a teacher, it surprises me then that when a Muslim in the military guns down his fellow soldiers, the issue becomes his religion rather than the host of issues that a soldier regularly deals with. In the rush to answer the many questions that Fort Hood raises, the horrid realities of war and gruesome experiences of our soldiers were overlooked. Moreover, little attention was paid to the fact that the base itself was no stranger to violence after two soldiers killed each other at a party as recently as July, a husband killed his wife and himself just last year, and Fort Hood personnel accounted for 76 suicides since 2003.
But, as an American Muslim myself, the "blame Islam" phenomenon is hardly surprising. Islam is often regarded as the culprit of human crime, largely because it is easy to point a finger at something that cannot point back. In this day and age, in our search for quick and easy answers, we overvalue religious text at the expense of both the context and the reader of that text.
Full report at: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=35956
30 Nov 2009
London, Nov.30: While talking to some Kashmiris in London, Sardar Shaukat Kashmiri told us a story that on the day of Hashim Qureshi’s wedding in Rawalpindi a famous writer and leader Dada Amir Haider was also present (he was the first Asian who had honour of meeting Lenin and was close associate of Nehru, Gandhi and Ghafar Khan).
During discussion on politics of Pakistan and Kashmir Dada Amir Haider said: If Pakistan remains of only one province and even if that is on fire there will be still some ‘idiot Kashmiris’ who will say we want to be part of this land which is on fire.
His message was that nationalist Kashmiris should ignore these ‘idiots’ who do not care for welfare of their own people and unity of their country; and are more concerned about welfare and future of Pakistan. This policy is illogical and illustrates flattering nature of the people concerned. Who would in his right mind appreciate actions of this man who ignores responsibilities to his own parents, and expresses love and care for his neighbour?
That is not because they love Pakistan but because they cannot think for themselves and they are infatuated with love of Islam. They think we (Kashmiris) must express love for Pakistan because Pakistan was set up in name of Islam, no matter what is happening in that Pakistan and what is geography of that land of pure. Furthermore this flattering but illogical attitude makes them darling of Islamabad which showers them with rewards.
It is these sentiments which Pakistan has successfully exploited since 1947. On Jammu and Kashmir both India and Pakistan had same policy and that was to make the State part of theircountry. Both countries had different reasons for doing this; and both adopted different strategies.
Full report at: http://www.24masti.com/international/new-map-exposes-pakistani-designs-on-kashmir%E2%80%99/2494
Nov 30, 2009
Washington : World’s most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden had written his will as US troops closed in on his hideout in Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan in December 2001, but walked out “unmolested” after American military leaders decided not to send reinforcements to pursue him.
The US military “could have captured or killed Osama bin Laden in 2001 if it had launched a concerted attack on his hideout in Afghanistan,” according to a damning Congressional report that comes on the eve of unveiling of a new Af-Pak policy by the Barack Obama Administration.
The 49-page report “Tora Bora Revisited: How we failed to get Bin Laden and Why it Matters Today”, prepared by the staff of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and released today, points finger at then Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his top military commander Tommy Franks for turning down requests for reinforcements to pursue Laden.
Laden, trapped in the rugged mountainous area in eastern Afghanistan, expected to die and had even written a will, said the report, commissioned by Committee Chairman John Kerry.
“On or around December 16, two days after writing his will, bin Laden and an entourage of bodyguards walked unmolested out of Tora Bora and disappeared into Pakistan’s unregulated tribal area. Most analysts say he is still there today,” the report said.
“Fewer than 100 American commandos were on the scene with their Afghan allies and calls for reinforcements to launch an assault were rejected. Requests were also turned down for US troops to block the mountain paths leading to sanctuary a few miles away in Pakistan,” it said.
The vast array of US military power, from sniper teams to the most mobile divisions of Marine Corps and the Army, was kept on the sidelines, the report said adding that instead, the US command chose to rely on airstrikes and untrained Afghan militias to attack bin Laden and on Pakistan’s loosely organised Frontier Corps to seal his escape routes.
Full report at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/trapped-in-tora-bora-in-2001-osama-had-written-his-will/548020/
by Robert Spencer
With the Obama administration moving the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other masterminds of 9/11 to New York City, many have pointed out that the defendants are likely to use the trial as a platform to spread their views on jihad, the U.S., and the war on terror. That’s most likely true -- and we already know what they will say.
They told us last year, when they wrote a six-page document they filed with the military commission at Guantanamo: an “Islamic Response to the Government’s Nine Accusations.”
“With regards to these nine accusations that you are putting us on trial for,” they explain, “to us, they are not accusations. To us they are badges of honor, which we carry with pride.” Their pride is explicitly and proudly rooted in Islam: “Many thanks to God, for his kind gesture, and choosing us to perform the act of Jihad for his cause and to defend Islam and Muslims.” With unusual forthrightness, they declare that “killing you and fighting you, destroying you and terrorizing you, responding back to your attacks, are all considered to be great legitimate duty in our religion. These actions are our offerings to God.”
That said, however, they view the conflict between the West and the Islamic world is all the West’s fault. This is a view that Barack Obama apparently shares. In his landmark June 2009 speech in Cairo he explained the conflict solely in terms of what the West had done to Muslim countries: “In addition, it is the imposed reality on Muslims in Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, in the land of the two holy sites [Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia], and in the rest of the world, where Muslims are suffering from your brutality, terrorism, killing of the innocent, and occupying their lands and their holy sites.”
Full report at: http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=34587
November 30th, 2009
Islamabad -- At least 61 militants have so far been killed by security forces in their operations against two banned organisations in Pakistan’s Khyber Agency along the restive border with Afghanistan, an official said Monday.
Another 87 have have been arrested, Online news agency quoted Brigadier Fiaz, the commandant of the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary (FC) as telling reporters in Bara, one of the three administrative units of the Agency.
The operations against the Lashkar-e-Islam and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan are “going successfully and Bara has been cleared of the miscreants”, Fiaz said.
“Foreign elements were involved in creating unrest in Bara and we have evidence about this,” he said, adding that Uzbeks, Afghans and locals were among the arrested and the killed militants.
A huge cache of arms that the militants had dumped in the area has also been recovered, Fiaz added.
In the Lower Kurram Agency, the security forces took over a training centre comprising three bunkers of TTP chief Hakimullah Mahsud in the Shash area and recovered important documents, explosives and land mines, an official said.
The Khyber and Lower Kurram agencies are among the seven that make up the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. They are governed by the governor of the North West Frontier Province, who acts on behalf of the Pakistani president.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Sunday reacted strongly to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's call for it to take tougher action against al Qaida and find Osama bin Laden, saying no one should doubt its efforts in the war against terrorism.
"Pakistan has played its role in fighting al Qaida and other terrorists. Over the past eight years, we have captured or killed 700 al Qaida operatives. No one should have doubts about our efforts," said Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit.
Basit said Pakistan was surprised by Brown's call to do more in the campaign against al Qaida.
He said the world community has appreciated Pakistan's efforts in the war on terror.
"Osama bin Laden's whereabouts are not known to anyone. If anyone knows (where he is), it would be better if the information is shared with Pakistan instead of the matter being discussed in the media," he said.
Pakistan will act promptly if such information is shared with it, he said.
Ahead of a visit to Britain by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani later this week, Brown told the BBC that Pakistan must do more to "break" al Qaida and find Osama bin Laden.
"We've got to ask ourselves why, eight years after September 11, nobody has been able to spot or detain or get close to Osama bin Laden, nobody's been able to get close to (Ayman) Zawahiri, the number two in al-Qaida," he said.
Brown said he wanted to see "more progress in taking out" bin Laden and Zawahiri.
Pakistan has to "join us in the major effort that the world is committing resources to, and that is not only to isolate al Qaida but to break them in Pakistan", he said.
Gilani will meet Brown on Thursday. Brown informed Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari by phone yesterday that he intends to speak out about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Brown said that over eight years "we should have been able to do more to get to the bottom of where al-Qaida is operating from".
P. K. Upadhyay
Despite tall claims by the Pakistani establishment of successes being scored by its military in the war against Taliban in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and normalcy being fast restored in the troubled Swat and South Waziristan regions, the situation in various areas of the tribal belt remains disturbed. No foreign media sources are being allowed into the area. A few hand-picked Pakistani journalists have, however, been apparently carefully manipulated to report on the Swat situation on the basis of Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) briefings that naturally claim near or fast returning normalcy.
The operations in Swat which began in April have not been able to restore civilian administration and despite the massive presence of the Pakistan Army sporadic acts of violence continue. Moreover, indications are that the military is likely to stay put in Swat and adjoining areas permanently. According to Dr. Hassan Askari Rizvi, the noted Pakistani expert on strategic affairs, the Army is likely to continue to assist the civilian administration find its feet in Swat for at least another year. As for the longer run, he alludes to the Army’s plans to set-up a permanent Military Cantonment in Swat.
A similar scenario exists with respect to the military operations in South Waziristan and the situation there. Military operations commenced in South Waziristan on October 16, 2009, after weeks of preparatory strikes and military encirclement of the area. South Waziristan has an area of 6,500 square kilometres and a population of 429,841. Of these, according to UN aid agencies, nearly 330,000 people have taken refuge in camps in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank. The Pakistan Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas claimed before the media on November 17 that “major towns and population centres have been secured” in South Waziristan and that the Army has disrupted the militants’ food supply chain. A day earlier Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, though, had conceded that no time frame could be laid down for the conclusion of South Waziristan operations. He just hoped that they would conclude successfully well before time.
Full report at: http://www.idsa.in/idsacomments/IslamicRadicalisminPakistanFromFATAtoSouthPunjab_pkupadhyay_301109
Monday, November 30, 2009
BRUSSELS: As the United States prepares to unveil a new strategy to defeat Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, the EU's counter-terrorism czar warned Monday that the network still poses the main security threat to Europe.
"It remains a very serious problem in this part of the world," EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove told reporters in Brussels, on the sidelines of talks between EU interior ministers. "It's the main threat."
"We have to adopt multi-pronged measures. First, keep the pressure on Afghanistan ... and we need to work a lot on Pakistan," he said, expressing support for the US change in strategy.
On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama is expected to announce the dispatch of more than 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan, as Washington shifts to a counter-insurgency approach to seize the initiative from the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and their allies.
The move will focus on protecting Afghan civilians, mostly in towns and cities, rather than hunting down fighters, with the aim of winning the confidence of the people and turning them against the extremists.
However European nations lack the means and the will to match the US effort in part because they feel less threatened by Al-Qaeda, which carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks, analysts say.
"We should keep on the pressure, which has so far been successful," de Kerchove said.
He said that US drone attacks on the Afghan-Pakistan border had killed probably a dozen of the top 20 Al-Qaeda fighters, but that a hard core of around 300 militants were still operational.
He noted that Taliban leader "Mullah Omar is distancing himself more than before from the Al-Qaeda core because his goal is to get power in Afghanistan, and the support of the Muslim world."
"If he is supporting too much the Al-Qaeda core, he will lose support in part of the Middle East, in Saudi Arabia," said de Kerchove.
He said Al-Qaeda relies on strong cooperation with other groups.
The Muslim fundamentalist Taliban militia was ousted from power by a US-led coalition in late 2001, after the attacks on New York and Washington, for harbouring Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
FORT POLK (LOUISIANA): A firefight with heavily armed insurgents near a gold-domed mosque. A helicopter evacuation of bloody car bomb victims. A meeting with tribal elders upset about security.
Just another day in Afghanistan? More like the dress rehearsal for war, played out on 100,000 acres of snake-infested pine forest on an Army post near the Texas border.
Here, thousands of soldiers prepare for deployment each month by patrolling Afghan villages built by professional set designers, battling roving insurgents played by American soldiers and negotiating with actors playing tribal elders, many of whom speak real Pashto.
It is Counterinsurgency 101, about as realistic as the army can make it in Louisiana, never mind the alligator-filled swamps, the “mud” huts assembled from metal shipping containers and the Afghan “villagers” who stir pots of Cajun rice between Taliban raids. The training scenarios, created from intelligence reports fresh from the front, are capable of bringing stressed soldiers to the brink of tears, commanders say.
Each three-week session involves over 2,000 support workers, from writers and logistics experts, to pyrotechnists who set explosions, to the hundreds of role players recruited from Louisiana or Afghan immigrants to populate nearly two dozen imitation villages.
At any one time, there could be half a dozen scenarios involving thousands of soldiers playing out in the training zone, known as the box. The trainers acknowledge that reality will be far messier; their goal, they say, is to make clear that war is not just about killing insurgents but also about building the nation. Many of the role players claimed a simpler mission: to make the real Afghanistan seem a little less strange and frightening, and thus, perhaps, a little more survivable.
WASHINGTON: The White House warned today that "time is running out" for Iran to comply with international nuclear guidelines, as Tehran announced plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment plants.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement that time is running out for Iran to comply.
"If true, this would be yet another serious violation of Iran's clear obligations under multiple UN security council resolutions, and another example of Iran choosing to isolate itself," Gibbs said in a statement.
"The international community has made clear that Iran has rights, but with those rights come responsibilities. Time is running out for Iran to address the international community's growing concerns about its nuclear programme," he said.
Western powers have long suspected that Iran, despite its fierce denials, is trying to build a nuclear bomb. They object to Tehran's uranium enrichment work which can be used to power nuclear reactors, but in highly purified form it can make the fissile core of an atom bomb.
The international community is angered that Tehran has refused a nuclear fuel deal brokered by the UN watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency aimed at defusing tensions over its enrichment programme.
That deal envisaged shipping abroad Iran's low-enriched uranium (LEU) for conversion into 20 per cent enriched uranium to fuel a medical research reactor in Tehran.
Iran insists it is ready to send its LEU abroad only if there is a simultaneous exchange of fuel inside the country.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today that Iran could start enriching uranium to the 20 per cent level on its own.
Why is there such uproar over Iran’s nuclear programme?
Iran’s nuclear programme started 30 years ago, during the rule of the Shah. Though the Shah insisted that Iran was interested only in a nuclear power industry and not in nuclear weapons, US remained wary because of the nuclear proliferation risk. The five nuclear weapons states, the US, Russia, the UK, France and China, along with 189 countries, are signatories to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is meant to limit the spread of nuclear weapons.
India, along with Pakistan, North Korea and Israel have not signed the treaty. The 1974 Indian nuclear test, which caught the US by surprise, only heightened fears of nuclear proliferation. Hence, the US wanted to create significant constraints on any commercial or technical nuclear assistance that it provided Iran to prevent proliferation. While the US pressed Tehran to accept a multinational reprocessing centre to avoid an Iranian domestic capability, Iran stressed its right to reprocess under the NPT. Moreover, US hostility to Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution increased the Iranian regime’s interest in nuclear deterrence.
How did Iran’s nuclear programme progress without US support?
In the early 1990s, Iran’s nuclear programme started progressing with help from Russia, China and Pakistan. By 2003, it became clear that Iran had mastered the technology needed to make enriched uranium, or fissile material, needed for a nuclear weapon.
After mastering the technique of producing enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, a country has to produce a device that could cause the uranium or plutonium to explode in a nuclear chain reaction. This second process is know as weaponization. Iran was accused of conducting many of its nuclear experiments in violation of its agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations. IAEA started conducting inspections but so far there has been no concrete proof of weaponization in the case of Iran. Many reports of the IAEA however, suggest that Iran could be concealing the real purpose of its nuclear programme.
Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Irans-nuclear-programme-started-before-1979-Islamic-Revolution/articleshow/5282828.cms
TEHRAN: Iranian state radio says the country’s parliament has approved a bill earmarking $20 million to support militant groups opposing the West.
It was not immediately clear which groups would receive funding from Iran, but Tehran already backs the Islamic militants Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The report says the money will also be used to investigate alleged US and British human rights abuses and plots against Iran.
Parliament also voted to oblige the foreign ministry to prepare annual reports on the human rights situation in its two Western foes, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The reports will be issued every year on November 4, when the Islamic Republic marks the anniversary of the 1979 storming of the US embassy in Tehran by radical students who took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.
The ministries of intelligence, communication, culture and foreign affairs and the Revolutionary Guards will decide how to spend the funds, the report said. The same organisations will also distribute money among those “resisting the unlawful actions of the US and British governments,” it said, without elaborating. It was not immediately clear whether the proposal had been put forward by the government or by the MPs themselves.
Western governments and rights groups such as Amnesty International often accuse Iran of violating human rights. Earlier this month, the UN General Assembly’s human rights committee condemned Iran for a violent crackdown on protesters after presidential elections this year that the Iranian opposition says were rigged.
The Islamic Republic is embroiled in a long-running row with US and its allies over Tehran’s nuclear programme. Iran often says its Western foes are violating the rights of Muslims in, for example, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mon Nov 30, 2009
By Parisa Hafezi
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran sees little point to staying in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, a senior official said on Monday, a day after announcing plans to build 10 more nuclear sites in a swipe at growing pressure to rein in atomic activity.
Russia said it was seriously concerned by the proposal for a huge expansion of Iran's atomic program. Washington has condemned the plans as a "serious violation" of U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding it suspend uranium enrichment.
The comments by Ali Larijani, the influential conservative speaker of parliament, underlined deteriorating relations between Iran and world powers, after a brief diplomatic rapprochement two months ago, seeking a peaceful solution to a long-running standoff over Iran's disputed nuclear program.
Last week, the 35-nation governing board of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), rebuked Iran for building an enrichment plant in secret, triggering Tehran's defiant announcement to erect 10 more such sites.
"I believe that their moves are harming the NPT the most ... Now whether you are a member of the NPT or pull out of it has no difference," Larijani told a news conference, alluding to the global pact banning development of nuclear weapons.
"This decision (new enrichment sites) was the result of the recent (IAEA) resolution, and Iran's government sent a strong message," said Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, quoted by state broadcaster IRIB.
Top Iranian officials have repeatedly said Iran has no intention of leaving the NPT, under which its nuclear sites are subject to IAEA inspections, or put enrichment to producing fuel for nuclear weapons, which it says violate the tenets of Islam.
Strategic analysts also believe Iran would think twice before quitting the NPT since such a move would betray nuclear weapons ambitions and could provoke pre-emptive attack by Israel and possibly the United States.
SUSPICIONS ABOUT MAJOR ENRICHMENT EXPANSION
It could take sanctions-bound Iran, which has problems obtaining materials and components abroad, many years to equip and operate 10 new plants, strategic analysts say.
Full report at: http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSHAF93199320091130?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=11621
By Thomas Erdbrink
10 uranium-enrichment sites announced after international rebuke
TEHRAN -- Iran's government will build 10 new sites to enrich uranium, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday, a dramatic expansion of the country's nuclear program and one that is bound to fuel fears that it is attempting to produce a nuclear weapon.
Ahmadinejad told the official Islamic Republic News Agency that construction of at least five nuclear facilities is to begin within two months.
The surprise announcement came two days after a censure of Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency over the Islamic republic's refusal to stop enriching uranium, a key demand of Western powers. The 35-member board of the agency also criticized Iran's construction of a second enrichment plant in Qom, southwest of Tehran.
U.S. officials reacted cautiously to the announcement. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that Iran's plans, if true, "would be yet another serious violation of Iran's clear obligations under multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions and another example of Iran choosing to isolate itself."
Less than a year after President Obama pledged to engage Iran, U.S. efforts at rapprochement have yielded little in return, and relations between the sides now appear to be headed toward a more confrontational phase. In a sign of growing hostility toward the West, Iran's parliament on Sunday called on Ahmadinejad's government to reduce ties with the IAEA -- a move that could limit the agency's access to Iranian nuclear sites.
Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is designed for energy production and denies that it is seeking to build a nuclear bomb. In announcing plans for the new facilities on Sunday, Ahmadinejad said his country's need for energy will grow dramatically over the next 15 years.
Full report at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/29/AR2009102900418.html
Kharaz, 30 Nov. (AKI) - Source IRIN - The rising number of minors fleeing the Horn of Africa is becoming a challenge for United Nations and aid organisations, with the number of new arrivals in Yemen reaching record highs this year.
Some of their parents died either while fleeing to Yemen or upon arrival; others were orphaned in their home countries and migrated in the hope of finding better opportunities in Yemen, but the vast majority hope to be smuggled to Saudi Arabia or other wealthy Gulf states to find work opportunities, according to UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) officials.
“In Somalia, I have many brothers, and my mother and father died,” Abdi Ahmed Taher, 16, told IRIN, “I came to Yemen to study and find a peaceful place where there is stability.”
He came to Kharaz camp near Yemen’s southern city, Aden, six months ago after he fled Somalia for Djibouti in order to be smuggled across the Bab El Mandab Strait to Yemen.
Now Taher lives in a tent on the outskirts of Kharaz camp with two boys who also fled to Yemen alone. While standard operating procedures calls for unaccompanied minors to be placed with foster families, finding parents willing to take on boys over the age of 15 is difficult because in Somali culture they are considered men, aid workers say.
After an unaccompanied minor is discovered at a reception centre along Yemen’s coast and brought to Kharaz camp, community mobilisers from the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) explain the risks involved in being smuggled to Saudi Arabia, such as sexual abuse, imprisonment and possible deportation.
Parents pressure their children to be smuggled into Saudi Arabia to make money to send back home to Somalia, says Salma Imtiaz, UNHCR community services officer in Aden.
“The parents are sending their children willingly,” she said. “Most [unaccompanied minors] are not even going to school. They are more into finding jobs.”
Only about five percent of unaccompanied minors are convinced not to be trafficked, according to UNHCR workers at Kharaz.
Full report at: http://www.adnkronos.com/AKI/English/Security/?id=3.0.4053943920
By Philip Bowring
Monday, 30 November 2009
The revelations of Dubai's monster debt problems have come at an unfortunate time for Malaysia's push to promote itself as both global centre and international mentor in the field of Islamic finance.
Even if the there is eventually no default on Dubai's sukuk (Islamic bond) issues the image of sukuk as potentially safer than conventional instruments has suffered a blow. Malaysia itself may have little exposure to Dubai, or other over-extended Gulf borrowers, but as the world's leader in sukuk issues it could well see a marked slowdown in what has been a very rapidly expanding business.
The first test will come by December 14 when Nakheel, the property developer arm of state-owned Dubai World, has a big sukuk maturing. Despite a statement Sunday by the United Arab Emirates central bank that it stands behind domestic and foreign banks operating in Dubai, later tests will come if defaults arise and battles begin over how civil courts interpret legal rights under shariah law. There may also be battles if Nakheel or subsequent debtors favor sukuk over conventional bondholders or vice versa. A sukuk is supposed to have an element of risk lacking in secured bonds, but practice is another matter in an industry which is still young.
That is bad luck for a Malaysian industry which can reasonably claim to be both innovative and well-organized. Malaysia accounts for roughly 60 percent of total global sukuk issues totalling around US$100 billion. These are roughly divided between ringgit and US dollar issues, mostly by local entities but also by the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank. Malaysia has been hoping to attract other big-name foreign institutions to its market.
But Dubai is unlikely to represent a permanent setback to Islamic finance, which has been growing in many parts of the world and establishing niches in developed Muslim-minority countries such as the UK.
Full report at: http://asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2170&Itemid=214
JEDDAH -- Imam, family members among flood fatalities
November 29, 2009
Thursday was a day of sorrow for the people of Jeddah's Rehab district. The day dawned with the sad news that their imam of 10 years was among those confirmed dead in Wednesday's flash floods that devastated many parts of Jeddah. Sheikh Yahya Al-Qeerat, his wife, two daughters aged 14 and 12, two sons aged nine and eight and the family maid were swept away by the flash floods Wednesday morning.
"Nobody knows what exactly happened. It is presumed that Sheikh Yahya and his family members alighted from their vehicle as the road became impassable and attempted to walk to his home in the Jamea neighborhood when suddenly the flash floods swept them away," said Ghazi Saleh Shalhoub, a businessman who lives in a villa next to Masjid Abu Bakr where Al-Qeerat had been leading prayers and delivering Friday sermons for the past 10 years.
Shalhoub said the bodies of Al-Qeerat and his wife were recovered several kilometers away from Al-Hamra Corniche. The other bodies were found in the Jamea area.
The news of the imam's death spread in the neighborhood by noon and people who assembled in the mosque for noon prayers were in deep shock. After Friday's Eid prayers, they offered funeral prayers in absentia for Al-Qeerat and his family members, who were buried in a graveyard in the Briman area.
"Sheikh Yahya was a very pious imam. He was a caring person; he took interest in the well being of people whom he led," said Sameer Koyakutty, an Indian who has been living in the area for seven years. Koyakutty, who maintained a cordial relationship with the imam throughout his stay in the neighborhood, said Al-Qeerat used his sermons to tackle issues that affected people's lives.
Full report at: http://hdvoice.tmcnet.com/news/2009/11/29/4505413.htm
By Daniel Williams
Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) -- The Islamic Hamas movement banned girls last month from riding behind men on motor scooters and forbade women from dancing at the opening of a folk museum. Girls in some schools must wear Islamic headscarves and cloaks.
Signs of Hamas’s creeping Islamization are everywhere in Gaza, the Mediterranean coastal enclave that Hamas has run by itself since 2007. Gaza is already politically divided from the West Bank, the Palestinian territory administered by the secular Fatah movement.
“Ruling by itself, Hamas can stamp its ideas on everyone,” said Mkhaimar Abusada, a political science professor at Gaza’s al-Azhar University. “Islamizing society has always been part of Hamas strategy.”
Hamas-Fatah infighting has diverted Palestinians from their quest for statehood and from presenting a united front at proposed U.S.-brokered peace talks with Israel. With no Palestinian elections on the horizon -- a vote scheduled for January was canceled -- Hamas has free rein to rule in Gaza.
Hamas swept Palestinian legislative balloting in 2006 and took over the Gaza Strip a year later when its gunmen routed forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who still governs the West Bank. Syria and Iran back Hamas, while the U.S., its Middle East allies and the European Union support Abbas’s rule.
Caftans in Court
Some of the efforts are meeting resistance. When Supreme Court Justice Abdel Raouf Al-Halabi ordered women lawyers on July 26 to wear headscarves and caftans in court, attorneys contacted satellite television stations including Al-Arabiya to protest. On Sept. 6, Hamas’s Justice Ministry rescinded the directive.
Hamas officials say they have no plans to impose Islamic law. “What you are seeing are incidents, not policy,” said Younis al-Astal, a Hamas legislator. “We want Islamic law to be the standard, but we believe in persuasion.”
In an Oct. 13 speech, Abbas said Hamas was establishing an “emirate of darkness” in Gaza. Abbas’s Fatah movement has long viewed itself as a secular nationalist movement open to Muslims and Christians.
Full report at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aB2RfynNbLmk&pos=9
Yediot Aharonot declares that "What has been happening in Israel in recent weeks vis-à-vis the contacts regarding Gilad Shalit's release is gross interference by the Military Censorship in the political debate, the details of which need not be kept from the public," and asserts that "The censorship is preventing the existence of the debate and is thereby taking a position." The author believes that "When the Censorship prevents us from publishing details of the negotiations, an emotionally charged public debate takes place, based on disinformation published in foreign newspapers," and adds that "In such a illusory reality, the families of terrorism victims and right-wingers can claim that Netanyahu is capitulating to Hamas and Netanyahu's senior people can claim that he is conceding much less than Olmert." The paper avers that "Only the lifting of the censorship's heavy hand will allow us to know who is right."
Ma'ariv says that the results of yesterday's referendum in Switzerland, in which 57% of the national electorate and 22 of Switzerland's 26 cantons voted to ban the construction of new minarets, means that "Europe is waking up" from the "cultural and ethical relativism" that allowed radical Islam to plant itself firmly on the continent. The author cites several recent books and suggests that "Muslims are not the problem, being conciliatory towards radicals, petro-dollars and Arab political pressure is the problem." However, the paper criticizes the Swiss for reacting in a collective and symbolic fashion against all Muslims instead of taking specific steps against radical and extremist imams. The paper suggests that the Swiss referendum will merely allow the radicals to claim that all Muslims are being persecuted and victimized and adds that "Europe needs to fight the radicals; yesterday it took a wrong step, in a fight against Muslims."
Full report at: http://www.isria.com/pages/30_November_2009_39.php
By Noor Ali
ISIOLO, Kenya, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Hundreds of Somali refugees have fled to Kenya after rebels suspected of links to al Qaeda seized a Somali town near the border, residents said.
Al Shabaab insurgents, who Washington says are a proxy for Osama bin Laden's group in Somalia, took control of Dhobley on Saturday after chasing rival Hizbul Islam rebels out of town.
Al Shabaab said a number of Hizbul Islam leaders had also sought shelter across the border in Kenya after the fighting.
"A group of Somalis sneaked in late last night but three trucks with more than 200 Somalis were intercepted by patrol officers at dawn today and all those on board taken back to the border," said Abdirizak, a Kenyan resident near the border.
There were also fears among Kenyan residents that al Shabaab might carry the fight across the border.
"We are worried. Al Shabaab has threatened to attack Kenya. They are very close and some of us might leave the border area."
A senior al Shabaab official said in June the insurgents might "invade" Kenya unless it reduced troop numbers along the border near places such as Dhobley. [ID:nLB249759]
Police deputy commander for the region, Paul Kuria, said security officials were patrolling the frontier.
Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Hassan Yaqub told Reuters that some Hizbul Islam leaders were also now sheltering in Kenya.
The two rebel groups have been fighting the Western-backed government in the capital Mogadishu, but a battle for control of the lucrative southern port of Kismayu has pitted the former allies against each other.
Full report at: http://www.reuters.com/article/africaCrisis/idUSGEE5AS0EU
By Mohamed Olad Hassan
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The recruits gather in scorching desert hideouts in Somalia, use portraits of President Obama for target practice, learn how to make and detonate bombs, and vow allegiance to Osama bin Laden.
Training camps in the lawless nation of Somalia are attracting hundreds of foreigners, including Americans, and Somalis recruited by a local insurgent group linked to Al Qaeda, according to local and US officials. American officials and private analysts say the camps pose a security threat far beyond the borders of Somalia, including to the US homeland.
In interviews, former trainees gave rare details on the camps, which are scattered along desert footpaths, rutted roads, and steamy coastal dens. They say the recruits are told the United States is the enemy of Islam.
US and Somali officials say Somalia’s Al Shabab jihadist, or holy war, movement is growing, and uses foreign trainers with battlefield experience from other conflicts.
The threat posed by the training camps was underscored in federal court documents unsealed Nov. 23 in Minneapolis, home to a large ethnic Somali community. An indictment against several Somali-Americans who allegedly fought in Somalia said trainees at one camp included dozens of ethnic Somalis from Somalia, other African countries, Europe, and the United States.
“The trainees were trained by, among others, Somali, Arab, and Western instructors in . . . small arms, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and military-style tactics,’’ said an affidavit from FBI Special Agent Michael N. Cannizzaro Jr. that was unsealed with the indictment.
Hassan Yare, a former Al Shabab fighter who works in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, said life in the camps is austere. Recruits sleep on plastic sheets and sometimes eat only one meal a day. Phones are confiscated. Recruits are only allowed to speak to their parents once every other Friday - Islam’s holy day.
“The message is simple,’’ Dahir Muhiyadiin, 18, said three months after finishing his training at a camp run by Somalia’s main insurgent group. “We are taught how the Western infidels want to eradicate pure Muslims, about how the US government does nothing as Israel harasses our Muslim Palestinians.’’
Full report at: http://www.boston.com/news/world/africa/articles/2009/11/30/al_qaeda_training_camps_in_somalia_may_pose_threat_to_us/
Hong Kong-based private equity firm Middle East & Asia Capital Partners Pte (MEACP) plans to introduce a sharia-compliant investment vehicle to its clean energy fund to attract Islamic capital, reports Reuters news agency.
“We plan to create a special vehicle that will attract Islamic finance by adding a sharia component,” said company director Vince Choi.
MEACP plans to expand its clean energy fund, established in 2008, from $400 million to $500 million sometime next year with the launch of the sharia-compliant special vehicle.
Choi said the company was targeting a $100 million first round of funding, to be completed by mid-December.
The fund has seed capital of $20 million from Asian Development Bank, and funding of up to $50 million from Overseas Private Investment Corp. Choi said the fund’s third investor was an unnamed regional commercial bank.
“We’ve set a 12-month deadline from next year to get the rest of the cash,” said Choi. “We’re in the second stage of discussions with potential partners (for the rest of the fund) and I expect this will go on for a few months before we make a single investment.”
Choi said MEACP was considering investments in clean power generating projects in Asia, particularly India, Indonesia, China, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Possible projects include wind, solar, geothermal, small hydropower and biomass.
Islamic financial products conform to sharia law, which prohibits the paying of interest and involvement in sectors related to alcohol, gambling and pork.
A November 24 "hatemail" underscores the issue, titled "Muslims in America - violent clashing of cultures, basic incompatibility of Western thought and Muslim theocracy," then quoting Denver radio talk show host Peter Boyles (know.com) saying:
"Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims."
Not Jews, not Christians, not Hindus, not Buddhists, or persons from any of the lesser known religions, just Muslims with no understanding that Islam teaches love, not hate; peace, not violence; charity, not selfishness; and tolerance, not terrorism; or that Islam, Christianity and Judaism have common roots.
Yet according to Pat Robertson, Monday, November 9 on his 700 Club:
"Islam is a violent - I was going to say religion - but it's not a religion. It's a political system. It's a violent political system bent on the overthrow of governments of the world and world domination."
After the Fort Hood tragedy, the American Family Association (the "family values" anti-gay, pro-life, Islamophobic group) called for a ban on Muslims in the military, saying:
"This is not Islamophobia, it is Islamo-realism. The reason is simple: the more devout a Muslim is, the more of a threat he is to national security."
Given America's war on Islam, the nation's 6.5 million Muslims wonder if their turn is next.
It never ends, and on November 23, New York Times writer Andrea Elliott headlined, "Charges Detail Road to Terror for 20 in US," then continued saying:
"Federal officials on Monday unsealed terrorism-related charges against men they say were key actors in a recruitment effort that led roughly 20 young Americans to join a violent insurgent group (Al-Shabaab) in Somalia with ties to Al Qaeda."
Full report at: http://www.thepeoplesvoice.org/TPV3/Voices.php/2009/11/30/more-arrests-in-america-s-war-on-islam
SYIDA LIZTA AMIRUL IHSAN and ZUHAILA SEDEK
Fluid dresses, loose gown and chic turbans were the order of the day at the recently concluded Islamic Fashion Festival VIII 2009. SYIDA LIZTA AMIRUL IHSAN and ZUHAILA SEDEK were there.
FOR three days, eight shows were held to showcase the best of Muslim clothes — from formal wear to lingerie to swimwear — by designers from Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco, Palestine and United Arab Emirates, among others.
The overall trend was that garments were loose and fluid. Some accented the dresses with embroidery, others with graphic prints. For head cover, most opted for the turban, which looked chic and decent.
But the general sentiment among fashion writers covering the show was that the foreign designers presented better collections than the locals.
Aside from Albert King, who reinterpreted evening gowns for Muslim women and Tom Abang Saufi, whose chic designs were reminiscent of fabulous holidays, few others left their mark.
However, Ghea Panggabean and Ida Royani from Indonesia charmed the crowd with their cool designs while Nadia Chawad from Morocco had designs that were rich and opulent.
We found it difficult to understand why some Malaysian designers couldn’t do as well considering that they are exposed to Muslim wear daily. And we have to say that adding head covers — more so the kinds that are unpractical and unpretty — do not necessarily add up to a beautiful Muslim women ensemble.
- NADIA CHAWAD — MOROCCO Her clothes were, in one word, opulent. They were mostly full-length, layered beautifully with long vests decked with stones and diamante and belted with wide sashes making them look like a cross between the Arabic abaya and the Japanese kimono.
The clothes were loose and the sleeves long and wide to encapsulate the Islamic element. We liked the layering effect because it made the clothes look more fluid and elegant and gave shape to the wearer.
Full report at: http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/articles/20091130100408/Article/index_html
29 November 2009
Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers state has announced a 20 per cent increase in the number of muslim pilgrims from the state that would perform the hajj from next year.
This brings the number of muslim pilgrims sponsored by the state government annually from 500 to 600
Governor Amaechi announced this today while addressing a delegation of muslim faithfuls in the state, who paid him the traditional sallah visit at Government House, Port Harcourt as part of this year's eid-El-Kabir celebration.
Earlier Rivers state islamic leader, Alhaji Ahmad Okiri, said the Eid-El-Kabir was designed by God to assure them that humanity can achieve peace, unity and all-round progress if they obey his commandments, and commended Governor Amaechi for governing the state in that direction.
An evening gown slit discreetly from the neck to the navel worn by Turkey's former first lady Mevhibe Inonu is on show in an Istanbul exhibition, tracing how her style helped define the image of the young Turkish Republic. The purple dress with draped back dating from the 1930s, joins a fringed Charleston dress from the 1920s, a ski jacket, and a 1960s floral-patterned suit to evoke a woman who lived to be 94 and whose husband succeeded Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Turkey in 1923, as president.
The predominantly Western styles of Turkey's first ladies have always been read as emblematic of a western-orientated national identity in the majority Muslim but secular state. Yet in 2007 Turkey's first first lady to cover her head moved into the presidential palace in Ankara to the chagrin of Turkey's traditional secular elite.
Secularists claimed it was an offense to the emancipation of women that Ataturk had struggled to achieve and epitomised a power shift towards a more religious, conservative social class. Mevhibe was born into the crumbling Ottoman Empire in 1897.
As the new Turkey looked to define itself as progressive and western-orientated, she typified a first generation of Turkish women who shed the traditional scarf, revelled in new freedoms and enthusiastically embraced the styles of Paris and Milan. Her knee-length skirts, sleeveless gowns and trousers on show in the exhibition at the Istanbul Fashion Academy come in contrast to the Muslim dress of the wives of the current President and Prime Minister, Hayrunnisa Gul and Emine Erdogan.
Both women cover their heads and necks with the Muslim headscarf and wear long garments to cover the limbs. "I loved to watch my mother when I was little, when she would tell me stories and would be dressing and getting ready," said Mevhibe's daughter Ozden Toker, who today is aged 79. "She wasn't particularly conscious of dressing to define the Republic. She wore the same clothes in private and in public. That is who she was," she said.
Full report at: http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/lifestyle/former-first-ladys-clothes-mirror-turkeys-journey_427952.html
INDONESIA'S biggest Muslim group condemned today a Swiss vote to ban the construction of new minarets as a manifestation of religious hatred, but urged a restrained response.
A majority of Swiss voters yesterday backed a far-right initiative to outlaw new minarets, the towers attached to mosques from which the call to prayer is announced.
Maskuri Abdillah, the head of Nahdlatul Ulama which has 40 million members in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country, called on followers not to be provoked by the vote.
"This is the hatred of Swiss people against Muslim communities. They don't want to see a Muslim presence in their country and this intense dislike has made them intolerant,'' he said.
"It's very regrettable... obviously this is a narrow-minded way of thinking about Muslims.''
He said tolerance was the best answer to intolerance.
"We call on Indonesian Muslims not to take revenge over the decision. We should show them tolerance and the freedom of religion,'' Abdillah said, adding that any protests should be peaceful.
Nearly 90 per cent of Indonesia's 234 million people are Muslims and most practise a moderate form of the religion, although the country has suffered a spate of extremist attacks.