Bangladesh school suspends students for trimming beards
KARACHI: More than 40,000 protest blasphemy law change
Taseer killing case: Cop in Pak PM's security team detained
Bangladeshi Hindus in shock as worship at ancient temple suspended
Time to confront RSS man on his terrorist links
Saffron bomber clue for sleuths
'Saffron terror' a UPA conspiracy: Gadkari
My statement on Karkare doesn't help terrorists: Digvijay
8 dead in latest violence in central Nigeria
South Sudan, in song, dance, begins independence vote
Somali Islamist insurgents ban men, women from shaking hands
King Abdullah stresses on quality education
Al-Qaida plotting Mumbai-style terror attack in UK
'Afghanistan peace process cannot be Pak-driven'
Iran says can make own nuclear fuel plates, rods
Tunisian government says two killed in clashes
Jeddah raids net 75 iqama violators
India, Pakistan foreign secretaries may meet in February
Zardari's aide Latif Khosa may succeed Taseer
India wants to settle Iran oil dues in third country
Obama condemns Yemen attacks, offers support
Twitter subpoenaed over WikiLeaks
U.K. Pakistanis in sex abuse row
Pakistan group fights hate mongering
Krishna’s Kabul platter a mixed bag of Indo-US goodies
Gilani allocates money to refund pilgrims
Iran ups stock of slightly higher enriched uranium
Gaza mortar shell wounds two men at Israeli farm
Al-Qaeda steps up attacks in southern Yemen
Suspected terrorists appeal 325 verdicts
All-out efforts to radically reform education stressed
Israel’s cold-blooded killing of Palestinians continues unabated
Turkey’s Kurds campaign for more language rights
Sadr urges resistance against US
Riyadh fire kills SEC employee
Compiled by New Age Islam Bureau
Bearded cops to be banned from VVIP security detail
Jan 9, 2011
LAHORE: In a major policy shift in the aftermath of Punjab governor Salman Taseer's assassination by one of his own elite security force protectors, the provincial government has begun proper screening and scrutiny of the officials of the Elite Force to avoid any further untoward incident.
Well-placed sources revealed that ten bearded personnel of Elite Force had been withdrawn from VVIP's security as Taseer's killing sparked security concerns among the top Pakistan politicians, particularly the liberal and moderate ones, The Nation reports.
A special team of the Elite Force comprising experienced officers have begun screening of the Elite Force officials in order to monitor their activities and religious leanings.
DHAKA: The headmaster of an Islamic school in Bangladesh said Sunday that he had banned 15 teenage students from attending lessons after they trimmed their beards.
Mohammad Mudesser Hussain said the students were told to grow beards two inches (five centimetres) long before returning to study at the Tahfizul Quranul Karim Fazil Madrassa near the capital Dhaka.
"We called their guardians and told them their boys have trimmed their beards, which is against the uniform rules of the madrassa. They have been told to stay out of the madrassa until they sport beards again," he said.
Many Islamic teachers disapprove of shaving, and Hussain said it was against the founding principles of his madrassa.
One of the expelled students said that dozens of students who were boarding in the school's dormitories had been thrown off the campus.
"The principal and several teachers summoned us and instantly ordered us out," the 17-year-old said on condition of anonymity.
Nearly three million, mostly poor, pupils attend thousands of state-sponsored madrassas in Bangladesh, accounting for 10 per cent of the country's student population.
A further two million students attend unrecognised religious schools.
Karachi: More than 40,000 protest blasphemy law change
KARACHI: More than 40,000 people rallied in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi on Sunday, police said, against the controversial reform of a blasphemy law that was behind the killing of a senior politician.
Religious groups blocked a main thoroughfare in Karachi’s teeming metropolis holding banners in support of the police commando who shot dead Punjab governor Salman Taseer on Tuesday over his views in favour of the law’s amendment.
Taseer had called for reform of the blasphemy law that was recently used to sentence a Christian woman to death. But his outspoken liberal stance offended the country’s increasingly powerful conservative religious base.
“Mumtaz Qadri is not a murderer, he is a hero,” said one banner in the national Urdu language in support of the man who carried out Pakistan’s most high-profile political killing in three years.
“We salute the courage of Qadri,” said another.
“There are at least 40,000 people here and more are coming,” senior police official Mohammad Ashfaq told AFP, watching over a sea of protesters bellowing slogans in favour of “jihad” and waving the flags of religious parties.
Another senior police official confirmed the number and said some 3,000 police officers were guarding the event, which had forced the closure of businesses and roads in the area.
Rally leader Qari Ahsaan, from the banned Islamist group Jamaat ud Dawa, addressed the crowd from a stage.
“We can’t compromise on the blasphemy law. It’s a divine law and nobody can change it,” Ahsaan told the masses.
“Our belief in the sanctity of our prophet is firm and uncompromising and we cannot tolerate anyone who blasphemes. Whoever blasphemes will face the same fate as Salman Taseer,” 40-year-old labourer Abdul Rehman told AFP at the rally.
Controversy over the law flared when former information minister Sherry Rehman tabled a bill in November calling to end the death penalty for blasphemy, after Christian mother-of-five Asia Bibi was sentenced to hang.
Rights activists also say the law encourages extremism in a nation already beseiged by Taliban attacks.
Rehman spoke to AFP from her heavily-guarded home in Karachi on Sunday and said she would not be cowed by the protest.
“They can’t silence me… it’s not any extreme position like a repeal bill, it’s very rational. They can’t decide what we think or speak, these are man-made laws,” said Rehman.
Politicians and conservative clerics have been at loggerheads over whether President Asif Ali Zardari should pardon Asia Bibi.
Pakistan has yet to execute anyone for blasphemy, but Bibi’s case has exposed the deep faultlines in the conservative country.
Christian groups held memorial services in the Punjab cities of Lahore and the capital Islamabad on Sunday to honour the assassinated Muslim governor Taseer.
Bishop Alexander John Malik led a rare gathering of 300 Christians at a cathedral in the eastern city of Lahore.
“He was a voice for the oppressed section of society. We dedicate this day to him,” Malik said, before leading prayers for the governor.– AFP
Jan 09 2011
Islamabad : A Pakistani policeman attached to Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani's security detail has been detained along with an official of the country's electronic media watchdog in connection with Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer's assassination, while investigators are looking for a cleric who motivated the killer.
Mumtaz Qadri, the Elite Force guard who gunned down 66-year-old Taseer in Islamabad on Tuesday for opposing the controversial blasphemy law, told police that he had been motivated by a cleric from the garrison city of Rawalpindi. Qadri, 26, surrendered soon after he shot Taseer in an upscale market.
Despite several raids, police were unsuccessful in apprehending the cleric or tracing his whereabouts, the Dawn newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying.
The daily identified the cleric only as 'QH', apparently the initials in the man's name.
Qadri attended a religious congregation on December 31 near his house at Sadiqabad in Rawalpindi, where the cleric delivered a speech on blasphemy.
Fired by the speech, Qadri met the cleric and discussed with him the issue of killing people committing blasphemy. When Qadri asked the cleric how blasphemers should be dealt with, he encouraged the policeman to kill them, the sources said.
"After the motivation I decided to kill the Governor," Qadri reportedly told investigators.
Investigators have gathered details about the cleric and his name has been put on a list of wanted persons.
An official of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority has been detained for his alleged role in motivating Qadri. Another friend of Qadri, who was detained on the same charges, was released after being questioned.
Investigators have also detained another personnel of the Elite Force who is a member of the Prime Minister's security detail. He is a friend of Qadri and had been in touch with him. Qadri used to discuss the issue of blasphemy with this personnel, the sources told the daily.
Qadri has claimed that he killed Taseer because he was angered by the Governor's criticism of the blasphemy law. Investigators are trying to determine if he acted alone or was part of a conspiracy.
Qadri was drummed out of the Special Branch of Rawalpindi Police several years ago after an official declared him a security risk because of his extremist leanings.
Investigators have also found out that Qadri had links with different religious groups. These links first came to light during an internal scrutiny of the Elite Force in 2005 after two attempts on the life of former President Pervez Musharraf. At that time, Qadri was with the Special Branch and he was subsequently transferred to the Police Lines in 2006.
Security agencies had detained about 40 people, including over 30 police personnel and several of Qadri's relatives, immediately after the assassination. Many of them have been released after questioning though about 10 people continue to be in custody.
Dhaka : Hindus in Bangladesh are in shock following the suspension of worship at the capital's Dhakeshwari National Temple, the most important place of worship for the minority community in the country, after a theft today.
Gold and silver ornaments and Taka 4.5 lakh have been stolen from the temple, said Tapan Bhattacharya, the in-charge of the state-owned Dhakeshwari Temple.
Worship at the ancient Dhakeswari National Temple has been suspended for an indefinite period following the theft, the private bdnews24 online reported today.
Known as the 'National Temple', Dhakeshwari means "Goddess of Dhaka".
Babul Devnath, the Secretary of Dhaka Metropolitan Worship Committee, expressed deep concern over the incident as it was the third major temple where theft has taken place in less than a month. The Hindus in the country are in shock.
"A theft took place at Baradeswari Kali Temple on December 12 and another at Jaykali Temple on December 22. We demand proper investigations into all these incidents," he was quoted as saying in the report.
Bhattacharya said Ratan Chakrawarty and Nitya Gopal Chakrawarty, the priets at Dhakeswari, had locked the temple around 9 p.m. on Saturday.
Around 6 a.m. today they found three of the four locks missing, while the remaining one was broken.
Mohammad Khurshid Alam, the Deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said they had launched a probe into the theft.
Hinduism is the second largest religion in the country, constituting nearly 10 per cent of the population.
There are over 12 lakh Hindus in Bangladesh.
THE confession of one of the accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid terror attack, Swami Asimanand has nailed the role played by elements within the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ( RSS). It gives the lie to the claims of senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar that the allegations against him are nothing but a fabrication of the Central Bureau of Investigation at the behest of the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre.
Not only has he emerged as one of the key conspirators, Asimanand claims to have told the slain RSS activist Sunil Joshi — who allegedly supervised the planting of bombs at the Mecca Masjid, Ajmer Dargah and the Samjhauta Express — that his life was in danger from Mr Kumar. The investigating agencies must now break from their cautious attitude towards Mr Kumar as Swami Asimanand’s confession is should be sufficient basis for a chargesheet against the RSS leader.
The revelations have also exposed the sinister nature of the Hindutva terror module and their diabolical motives. The pretext of being a response to Pakistan- sponsored terror attacks seems to have been nothing but a facade for their true motives — to create communal tension across the country.
Full report at: Mail Today
By Aman Sharma In New Delhi
Asimanand drops CBI a hint to zero in on terror duo
SWAMI Asimanand has revealed the last location of two elusive saffron bombers. He confessed to having ferried Sandeep Dange and Ramji Kalsangra to Baroda in his car just a day after they had bombed Malegaon on September 29, 2008.
This comes as a vital clue for the CBI and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which are desperately looking for the duo from Indore as a key to bust the saffron terror module.
The two are believed to have planted the bombs twice in Malegaon in 2006 and 2008, at Ajmer Sharif, Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad and Samjhauta Express.
RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi led them but was murdered in December 2007, allegedly on RSS leader Indresh Kumar’s directions, according to Asimanand’s confession before a magistrate.
Full report at:
GUWAHATI: Despite the confession of Swami Aseemanand — seen as a guru to Hindu radicals — about the involvement of saffronites in acts of terrorism, BJP on Saturday stood by its claims that these revelations were a part of a conspiracy to divert attention from UPA-2's scams.
BJP president Nitin Gadkari on Saturday described the Aseemanand disclosures in the Mecca Masjid case in which he has also referred to the Samjhauta blasts, as a conspiracy hatched by the government under the patronage of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.
Speaking at the BJP national executive here, Gadkari said the government was raising the bogey of Hindu terror to distract public attention from Bofors and 2G scams. ''Whether they talk about the involvement of RSS and Indresh Kumar or Hindu 'atankwad', what is happening is a conspiracy by the Gandhi family. Digvijay Singh clearly has the blessings of Sonia Gandhi in whatever he says,'' said Gadkari.
The BJP positioning ahead of the assembly election in Assam seemed clearly aimed at preventing Congress from turning the tables on the main opposition. The hard line can be seen to be beneficial in harnessing votes in Assam where the illegal migrants issue has a communal undertone. As Gadkari admitted, the party is desperately trying to increase its support in states like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala which, apart from Assam, will go to polls this year.
BHOPAL: Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh on Sunday rubbished BJP's accusation that his statement on the late Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare amounted to helping terrorists in India or Pakistan.
Singh triggered a controversy recently when he said that Karkare had talked to him about threats from radical right-wing groups before his death in Mumbai terror attack.
"I do not think that there is any way in which it can be said that my statement on Karkare helped terrorists in India or Pakistan in any regard," Digvijay said.
Singh said that BJP and RSS appeared to be fond of criticising him but he would like to ask them about those who belonged to the Sangh Parivar and were linked to blasts and other similar activities.
Asked if the reported confession by Swami Aseemanand would blunt the Sangh Parivar's attack on him, Singh said he would not be surprised `if they said Digvijay Singh is a bigger terrorist than Swami Aseemanand'.
The former Chief Minister was highly critical of the way BJP government in Madhya Pradesh dealt with terrorists.
"Instead of apprehending terrorists, the state government was doing its best to shelter them", Singh alleged.
JOS, Nigeria: Christian youths attacked a car full of Muslims returning from a wedding in central Nigeria, killing seven people inside the vehicle and sparking retaliatory violence that left one other person dead, an official said Saturday.
It was the latest unrest in a fertile region that saw more than 500 people killed last year in massacres pitting Christians against Muslims.
On Saturday, gunshots echoed through the troubled city of Jos, causing store owners to close their shops and families to hide inside their homes.
The violence began as Christian youths blocked a road leading from a neighboring village Friday night, trapping the Muslims inside their car, said lawyer Ahmed Garba, a member of an Islamic religious council. Garba told journalists Saturday that seven people died in the attack and one person survived.
Garba said once news of the attack spread, Muslims began retaliatory violence in the streets of Jos that has left at least one person dead.
Plateau state police commissioner Abdurrahman Akano denied that there was any retaliatory violence, saying the movement of activists from a local political party Saturday caused residents to panic. He did not offer any explanation to journalists about the gunfire heard in the city.
Akano said one person died Friday of a stab wound, but offered no other details about that attack.
JUBA, Sudan: Women broke out in song and men wrapped themselves in flags as voters in Southern Sudan began casting ballots Sunday in a weeklong independence referendum likely to create the world’s newest nation about five years after the end of a brutal civil war.
The mainly Christian south is widely expected to secede from the mainly Muslim north, splitting Africa’s largest country in two.
The president of Sudan, who has been indicted for alleged genocide and war crimes in Darfur, has promised to let go of the oil-rich south after his government tried for years to derail the vote now taking place under massive international scrutiny.
His unlikely acceptance of the seemingly inevitable loss comes as the two regions face an interwoven economic future: Most of Sudan’s oil is in the south, while the pipelines to the sea run through the north. On Sunday, there was only jubilation though among those who had lived through years of fighting.
“This is the historic moment the people of Southern Sudan have been waiting for,” said Southern Sudan President Salva Kiir as he cast his vote in front of a cheering crowd of hundreds lined up in front of the polling station. Sudan activist George Clooney was among those watching Kiir vote.
Somali insurgents ban men, women from shaking hands
By MOHAMED SHEIKH NOR
Jan 8, 2011
MOGADISHU, Somalia: Al-Qaeda-linked militants in war-torn southern Somalia have banned unrelated men and women from shaking hands, speaking or walking together in public, residents said Saturday. People who break the rules could be imprisoned, whipped or even executed.
The insurgents already have banned women from working in public, leaving many mothers with a terrible choice: risk execution by going to sell some tea or vegetables in the marketplace, or stay safely at home and watch the children slowly starve.
“It’s an awful rule. I feel like I’m under arrest. I’ve started to ignore the greetings of the women I know to avoid punishment,” Hussein Ali said by phone form the southern Somali town of Jowhar. The edict is also being enforced in the town of Elasha.
Gunmen are searching buses for improperly dressed women or women traveling alone, said student Hamdi Osman in Elasha.
By P.K. ABDUL GHAFOUR
JEDDAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has emphasized the government's resolve to modernize the Kingdom's education system. He urged education officials and teachers to make all-out efforts to provide quality education.
King Abdullah made this comment in a speech at an international conference for achieving comprehensive quality in general education at Inter.Continental Hotel in Riyadh on Saturday. It was delivered on his behalf by Education Minister Prince Faisal bin Abdullah.
"Knowledge is the main source of power. It's the driving force for the society's sustainable development," the king said and reiterated the government's plan to invest more in human resource development. The current budget has allocated SR150 billion for education and training, the largest in history.
He said investment in education would not only boost the country's development but also reduce unemployment. "It is high time we focus our attention on quality education," the king said, stressing the need to develop the capabilities of teachers.
LONDON: Al-Qaida may be plotting a terror attack on a major British airport or other aviation-related targets in a threat which has been described as "credible".
British security agencies are also monitoring all planes flying through the UK to destinations to the US and mainland Europe as part of the terrorist threat, media report said.
The warning of an impending al-Qaida attack was delivered in a letter sent to aviation chiefs, BBC and Daily Telegraph newspaper reported, adding that following this the security had been upgraded at all major UK airports and transport hubs as a precautionary measure.
The plot by the terror outfit believed to be based in Pakistan's tribal belt may come in the form of car-bomb, suicide attacks or Mumbai-style carnage, the daily said, as it was designed to cause "large number of casualties".
The document warned that al-Qaida planned for "one or more attacks" against Europe, including the UK aimed at high-profile targets.
Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Al-Qaida-plotting-Mumbai-style-terror-attack-in-UK-/articleshow/7242962.cms#ixzz1AXr1OtCi
KABUL: In a clear pointer to Pakistan, India on Sunday said that any "external" interference in the transition process of Afghanistan will be detrimental to both its success and the future of the Afghan people.
Echoing India's views, Afghanistan said the peace process cannot succeed without being led by the Afghan people and noted that the process was fully controlled by it.
These views were expressed at a joint press conference here by external affairs minister S M Krishna and his Afghan counterpart Zalmay Rasool after their extensive talks on issues like terrorism in the region, security of Indians and various economic projects.
Though both leaders refrained from naming Pakistan, the message was clear for Islamabad, which has been pressing for a decisive role in the Afghan transition process.
They were asked about international concerns that the transition process might become Pakistan-brokered and not Afghan-driven.
"Any external interference in the reintegration process would be detrimental to its success and for the future of democratic, stable, pluralistic and prosperous Afghanistan," Krishna said.
Rasool said the peace process was from people of Afghanistan and insisted that it cannot succeed without being led by Afghan people.
THERAN: Atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi declared in a report on Saturday that Iran is now capable of making its own nuclear fuel plates and rods, technology the West says the Islamic republic does not possess.
Salehi, the driving force behind Iran's contentious atomic programme, said the country has completed the construction of a facility in the central city of Isfahan to the fuel plates and rods which power nuclear reactors.
"We have built an advanced manufacturing unit in the Isfahan site for the fuel plates," Salehi, who is also acting foreign minister, told Fars news agency in what was said to be an exclusive interview.
"A grand transformation has taken place in the production of (nuclear) plates and rods. With the completion of the unit in Isfahan, we are one of the few countries which can produce fuel rods and fuel plates."
TUNIS: Two civilians were killed and eight injured in overnight clashes with police in a provincial town, the Tunisian government said on Sunday, the deadliest incident in a series of riots that started nearly a month ago.
People taking part in the spate of unrest say they are angry at a lack of jobs and investment, but officials say the rioting is the work of a minority of extremists intent on damaging the north African country.
The two deaths happened in clashes late on Saturday in the town of Thala, about 200 km (125 miles) southwest of the capital and near the border with Algeria.
In a statement, the government, quoting an unidentified Interior Ministry official, said police had opened fire after warning shots in the air failed to stop a violent crowd from attacking government buildings.
“The police opened fire in legitimate self-defense and this led to two dead and eight wounded, as well as several wounded among police, three of them seriously,” the statement said.
By MD HUMAIDAN
JEDDAH: The Passport Department arrested on Friday 75 illegal immigrants, including women and children of different nationalities in some poor districts in Jeddah.
Immigration authorities raided some old buildings in the Jeddah districts of Thaalabah, Sabeel and Gurayat, which are notorious for home to illegal foreign workers. Some of those arrested were reported as runaway workers, including maids staying with unrelated men from their home countries.
The raiding team included women officers to deal with women violators.
Detectives had been monitoring the buildings where the illegal workers were staying.
The violators were crammed into narrow rooms in apartments that were unclean, without air-conditioning and poorly sanitized. Some expatriates with legal resident permits sublet rooms to illegal workers, which is illegal.
The inspectors also seized food products being prepared in an unhygienic manner in some rooms.
Many of the illegal tenants were found hiding in shelves and under beds or in the kitchen. The detained are being processed for deportation.
NEW DELHI: Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao is likely to meet her Pakistani counterpart in Bhutan's capital next month, India's foreign office said on Sunday, as the two nuclear-armed neighbours try to take forward a stalled peace process.
The ties between the two South Asian countries plummeted after the 2008 Mumbai attacks which killed 166 people and derailed a sluggish four-year-old peace process with Pakistan.
The meeting is likely to take place on the margins of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) standing committee meeting at Thimphu on Feb 6-7, the foreign office statement said.
Last week, foreign minister S.M. Krishna said he expects his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi to visit India by March.
The two countries' prime ministers, home ministers and foreign ministers all met last year, but failed to revive the peace process.
Zardari's aide may succeed Taseer
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's president is set to appoint close aide Latif Khosa to succeed the murdered governor of the key Punjab province, officials said, another step in resolving a weeklong political crisis.
President Asif Ali Zardari is expected to name Khosa, a former attorney general, on Saturday from Karachi. "Mr Khosa is most likely to be appointed as Punjab governor," a senior government official said. Other top officials confirmed the appointment was expected.
Khosa said on Saturday that Zardari had called him for a meeting in Karachi. "I will accept whatever the decision of my leadership," he said.
If appointed as expected, Khosa will succeed Salman Taseer, the outspoken governor of the central province of Punjab, who was gunned down by one of his bodyguards in Islamabad on Tuesday for supporting changes in a controversial blasphemy law.
The choice of who will replace Taseer is crucial for Zardari. Punjab is the most populated province in Pakistan and its political nerve center.
NEW DELHI: India seems to have hardened its position on the payment settlement problems with Iran, with New Delhi demanding that Tehran settle the dues for oil imports in a designated third country till a more durable solution are found. The issue was discussed at length on Friday at a meeting involving officials from the ministries of finance, external affairs and petroleum apart from executives from Indian banks and oil companies.
Washington : US President Barack Obama condemned Al-Qaeda attacks on recent days that killed Yemeni soldiers and offered support for Yemen in battling the Islamist group, the White House said.
Obama's counterterrorism aide John Brennan called President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen yesterday to relay Obama's "personal condolences" on the deaths of Yemeni security forces in attacks over the past two days, said the White House.
Brennan said Obama "strongly condemned the brutal attacks, which reflect the group's clear intent to kill Yemenis who are valiantly seeking to stop Al-Qaeda's attempts to carry out terrorist attacks in Yemen as well as in other countries."
Washington: A federal court in the United States has issued a subpoena to micro-blogging website Twitter to obtain information on several individuals linked to WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website, including its founder Julian Assange, said an Icelandic Member of Parliament also named in the case.
MP Birgitta Jonsdottir, who is reportedly a former volunteer with WikiLeaks, transmitted documents to several U.S. media outlets this week that showed an order from a court in Virginia to Twitter demanding subscriber names, user names, screen names, mailing addresses, residential addresses, connection records and other data of several persons.
According to Ms. Jonsdottir, those whose information was subpoenaed included her, Mr. Assange, army intelligence officer Bradley Manning — who is currently in prison charged with leaking the documents to Wikileaks — and Rop Gonggrijp, said to be a computer hacker from the Netherlands.
LONDON: Britain's Pakistani community was on Saturday thrust into the centre of an embarrassing row over allegations that young men of Pakistani origin were involved in “grooming” vulnerable white British girls for sex.
The controversy, which first erupted earlier in the week when The Times published the results of a lengthy investigation that appeared to confirm the allegations, was reignited after the former Labour Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, whose parliamentary constituency has a large Pakistani population said there was a “specific problem” in some areas involving Pakistani men who — “fizzing and popping with testosterone” —considered white girls as “easy meat”.
His remarks, echoed by a former Labour MP, Ann Cryer, came as two men from the Pakistani community — Mohammed Liaqat and Abid Saddique — were jailed for raping and sexually abusing several teenaged girls.
ISLAMABAD: In a bid to take on the “religious” right wing emboldened by the assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and the lionisation of his assassin, Citizens For Democracy (CFD) on Saturday demanded legal action against those indulging in hate mongering.
Condemning the cold-blooded and “cowardly” manner in which Taseer was shot in the back by one of his own bodyguards, the CFD said he was a victim of a concerted propaganda campaign conducted in the media and through the mosques which falsely accused him of being disrespectful of the Prophet.
Referring to the specific case of Aasia Bibi, whom Taseer visited in jail and offered to forward her mercy petition to President Asif Ali Zardari, the CFD said there was no proof of blasphemy against the slain Governor. “Even in the case of Aasia Bibi — the Christian woman sentenced by a sessions court for alleged blasphemy — the sentence has yet to be confirmed by the High Court and then by the Supreme Court before she can be considered guilty and executed.”
Krishna’s Kabul platter a mixed bag of Indo- US goodies
By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury in Kabul
EXTERNAL affairs minister S. M Krishna is expected to discuss joint projects to be undertaken by India and the US in Afghanistan during his meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his counterpart Zalmai Rassoul on Sunday.
Krishna, who landed in Kabul on Saturday, is on a two- day visit to the country.
India has launched discussions with the US to identify projects the two countries are set to undertake jointly in Afghanistan.
Krishna is believed to have briefly touched upon the issue of joint projects during his talks with US secretary of state Hillary Clinton over telephone on December 22.
The decision for joint projects in Afghanistan was taken during American President Barack Obama’s visit to New Delhi in November. The two countries are also discussing development projects to be taken up jointly in Afghanistan in the fields of agriculture and women’s empowerment, besides capacity building schemes for government employees and citizens.
Full report at: Mail Today
By AZHAR MASOOD
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani approved an amount of Rs.429.226 million to refund at the rate of Saudi riyal 700 each pilgrim, who faced difficulties during Haj on account of improper arrangements, corruption by Pakistani Haj officials and extra payment for residential facilities.
The Supreme Court ordered the government on Thursday to refund SR700 to each of 26,000 pilgrims who suffered due to inadequate arrangements.
A four-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was hearing a case regarding corruption in Haj arrangements.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) told the court that former Director of Haj Rao Shakil had made 200 million rupees from Haj operations. An FIA official told the court: "A major share of this money went to one Zain Sukhera, a close friend of Gilani's son Qadir Gilani."
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI
TEHRAN: Iran has increased its stockpile of uranium enriched to higher levels, the country’s nuclear chief said Saturday, in defiance of UN demands to halt the program.
Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi also said Iran has built a plant to make nuclear fuel plates and rods in Isfahan. That would allow Iran to produce its own reactor fuel and give it more leverage against the West. But Western experts have disputed whether Iran has the technological capability to produce plates and rods when Tehran made similar claims in the past.
Iran’s refusal to stop enrichment lies at the heart of its dispute with the West over the country’s nuclear program.
Salehi, who is also Iran’s acting foreign minister, said Tehran now has 40 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent, up from 30 kilograms reported in October.
Uranium enriched to 20 percent is enough to produce fuel for a medical research reactor but far below the more than 90 percent required to build fissile material for nuclear warheads.
JERUSALEM: Two Thai agricultural workers were wounded by a mortar shell fired by resistance fighters into an Israeli agricultural community close to the Gaza Strip border on Saturday, an Israeli official said.
One man suffered serious wounds and the second was in moderate condition, said Alon Shuster, head of the local municipal authority.
“This is, of course, a very serious incident, one of the most severe we have had recently, it represents an escalation that appears to have reached a new height,” Shuster said.
Resistance group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. A spokesman said its operatives had launched six mortar shells into Israel.
The two men, who were ferried to hospital, were the first in Israel to be hurt by weapons fired from Gaza since December when a teenage girl was cut by flying glass after a rocket landed near a kindergarten at another agricultural community.
Violence has escalated in recent weeks along the frontier, though both Israel and Hamas say they are working to avoid a full-on confrontation.
By SAEED AL-BATATI
SANAA: At least three Yemeni soldiers died on Saturday and six others injured when a military checkpoint was attacked by southern secessionists’ gunmen in Al-Malah district in Lahj, southern Yemen.
One of the assailants was injured in the attack and fierce confrontations ensued as more military reinforcements arrived. This came a day after 13 soldiers were killed in a suspected Al-Qaeda ambush.
In another area in the restive south, police defused a bomb planted in the car of Col. Nasser Mahdi Abdullah, head of Criminal Investigation Police in Abyan. The colonel’s children spotted the bomb and informed their father.
Earlier, while inspecting the venue where 13 soldiers were killed on Friday, Col. Mohsen Full report at:
JEDDAH: A special anti-terror court in Riyadh has so far issued preliminary verdicts on 442 cases involving 765 Al-Qaeda militants, the Justice Ministry said Saturday, adding that the terror suspects appealed 325 verdicts.
The ministry’s spokesman, Abdullah Al-Saadan, said the militants were facing charges such as association with Al-Qaeda, participation in terrorism, funding terror, and accepting the Al-Qaeda ideology and supporting its crimes.
He said the court had looked into 442 cases until the end of the last Hijrah year 1431 (Dec. 6, 2010).
By GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN
RIYADH: Major educational reforms to provide the highest quality education while keeping the current and future needs of the country in mind topped the agenda of a high-profile symposium that was inaugurated by Prince Faisal Ibn Abdullah, minister of education, here on Saturday.
The four-day symposium, the first of its kind organized by the Ministry of Education, will discuss in depth how to pursue excellence and bring quality education to Saudi institutions.
This event, entitled The First International Conference of TQM in K-12 Education, will help to work out educational plans and policies with "quality initiatives drawn from the best international experiences," said Prince Faisal in a statement. He said the event would also find out ways and means for restructuring education, especially primary and secondary (K-12) segment, with added stress on quality and excellence.
"The conference results from the royal directives that confirm the importance the government attaches to quality in education sector," said the minister.
The inaugural ceremony was attended by a large number of Saudi and foreign officials, including 30 top-notch educational experts and research scholars from different countries.
By MOHAMMED MAR’I
RAMALLAH: Israeli forces on Saturday shot dead a Palestinian man at a checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus, bringing the number of Palestinian victims since the start of 2011 to four, Palestinian and Israeli sources said.
Paramedics from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said that 25-year-old Khaldoun Majid Al-Samoudi of the village of Yamoun, to the west of Jenin, died from his wounds after he was critically injured by Israeli soldiers manning the Bekaot checkpoint (Al-Hamra checkpoint), to the east of Nablus. They added that Al-Samoudi was shot numerous times.
Palestinian witness said that the Israeli soldiers fired at Al-Samoudi while he was crossing the checkpoint to his work in the city of Jericho.
Witnesses said Israeli soldiers watched Al-Samoudi bleed out instead of providing medical assistance.
ANKARA, Turkey: As a child, Emrah Kilic couldn’t understand a word his grandmother was saying. That’s because she was speaking Kurdish, the family’s ancestral language, whose public use was harshly suppressed in the name of forging a unified Turkish nation.
Raised by parents who shed their ethnic roots to blend in with the Turkish mainstream, he now finds himself in a quandary. “I am confused about whether I should pursue the roots,” he says. “But I am scared that it will change things, open a Pandora’s box.” The 28-year-old’s dilemma is understandable. As Turkey’s Kurds struggle for recognition of their ethnicity, their embattled Kurdish language is making a comeback that is testing Turkish society’s tolerance of diversity. The current government, more accepting of minority aspirations, has loosened the language curbs, but this is provoking a backlash from nationalists who fear the country’s identity is under threat.
Turkey’s 20 percent Kurdish minority has been a traditional target of state discrimination and the more militant among them have waged a 26-year insurgency that killed tens of thousands. The violence has ebbed for now, but ahead of parliamentary elections in June, the nationalists worry that the escalating push for language rights masks a more ambitious goal — autonomy.
By REBECCA SANTANA & BUSHRA JUHI
Jan 9, 2011
NAJAF: Moqtada Sadr said Saturday that his followers were still resisting the US enemy with all means. But Sadr tempered his fiery words by saying the new Iraqi government should be given a chance to get American forces out of the country in a “suitable” way.
In his first speech since returning from almost four years of self-imposed exile in Iran, the 37-year-old cleric whose Shiite militias once battled US troops stopped short of explicitly urging violence against Americans. But he left open the possibility that some 50,000 US troops in Iraq could be targeted before they are set to leave at the end of this year.
“Let the whole world hear that we reject America. No, no to the occupier,” Sadr said during his 35-minute speech in Najaf, 160 km south of Baghdad. “We don’t kill Iraqis — our hands do not kill Iraqis. But we target only the occupier with all the means of resistance,” he added.
RIYADH: A Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) employee died and three others were injured as a result of a fire that engulfed the company’s eighth gas-powered electricity generation plant here Saturday.
Ali bin Saleh Al-Barrak, CEO of company, said the employee died while trying to put out the fire that broke out at the plant’s fuel pump.
“His death is a big loss to our company,” the CEO said. He also conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family.
He said the fuel pump was undergoing regular maintenance. He expressed his deep sorrow over the incident and wished quick recovery for the injured men.
Meanwhile, the SEC announced on Saturday that it was implementing power projects worth SR3 billion in the northern Tabuk province.
He said the Tabuk power plant’s capacity would be expanded at a cost of SR350 million.