Al-Azhar leads the way?
RIYADH: Musical Show to mark Indian Republic Day
Colonel Imam killed
Jailed Pakistani Mother Living in Constant Fear, Husband Says
Somali mother of four slaughtered for her faith
20 killed in suicide bombing at Moscow airport
Afghan 'village' in UK trains troops for battle ahead
Muslim Villager in Pakistan Allegedly Rapes Sixth Christian Girl
A quest for reform across the Muslim world
Muslim Brotherhood Press Releases After the Massacre of Copts in Egypt
BJP top brass stopped at Jammu airport ahead of ‘Ekta Yatra’
Pakistan is home of Prime Minister of India: Gilani
Iran hangs serial killer, rapists, activists
Iran executes 2 MKO terrorists
Iran: 64 people executed in 24 days
Modi can't be given clean chit: Vastanvi
Muslim family lives in fear as accused roam free
Tunisia arrests TV channel owner for 'treason' Reuters
Life of a diplomat in Muslim paradise, circa Iranian hostage crisis
'If you're going to cane me, then do it in public'
Muslim Brotherhood, seen from two ends of the ideological prism
‘Eco-Hijabs’ On The Rise, What Muslim Fashion Bloggers Have To Contribute
Leaked documents show Palestinian Jerusalem offer
Will unfurl tricolour at Lal Chowk on Republic Day come what may: BJP
2 yrs after mutiny, Bangladesh gives its border force a new name
Two Taliban leaders killed in east Afghanistan: Nato
Israel inquiry clears govt, navy in Gaza flotilla raid
Singapore leader urges Muslims to 'be less strict'
Yemen releases female activist after protests
12 killed, dozens hurt in Karbala blasts
Mass prayer at Bangladesh Islamic peace gathering
Western media fueling Islamophobia
Christian family embraces Islam in Pakistan
Australia: Gungahlin mosque site gets go ahead
US troops fired several shots at holy Quran in Afghanistan
What's the point of a hearing on 'Radical Islam' without critics?
UK hate cleric urges Muslims to ‘issue fatwas’ against Cameron, May
Husains draw Cong chief out of 10 Janpath to art summit
BJP red flags PM jibe over Lal Chowk
Ex-spy's private CIA poses dilemma for US
New Year Day bombing linked to Al-Qaida wing
Iran names acting Foreign Minister as top diplomat
Fresh protests in Tunisia
Spurt in opium prices worries U.N.
Israel drafting interim peace plan
Geelani aide arrested in hawala case
‘Release Muslims falsely accused in blast cases'
Why do Muslims back Malegaon suspects CBI asks clerics
Turkey blasts Israeli findings of Gaza flotilla probe
Three US drone strikes kill 13 in North Waziristan
Four million flood-hit Pakistanis still homeless: Red Cross
Iranians unite in grief at service for Shah’s son
Khosa assures MQM of cooperation in Punjab
Three relatives of ex-Nazim killed in Hangu
Gilani takes notice of girl’s honour killing
Pakistan is like home away from home for Azerbaijanis
Health expert warns against consanguineous marriages
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Taliban blow up girls' school in northwest Pakistan
January 24th, 2011
Taliban militants on Monday blew up a state-run girls' school in the lawless Khyber tribal region of northwest Pakistan though there were no reports of casualties.
The primary school at Khogakhel village in Khyber Agency was empty when the militants detonated an improvised explosive device planted on its outer wall, officials said.
The blast, triggered by remote control, severely damaged the building.
Six schools and two healthcare facilities were blown up by militants during the past year in Landikotal, a town in Khyber Agency near the Afghan border.
A few hours after the deadly attack on the Two Saints Church in Alexandria, Al-Azhar, the highest religious authority in Egypt released a statement denouncing the bombing.
In the statement, Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb deemed the attackers “the enemies of Islam,” and insisted that respecting houses of worship is an inherent aspect of the faith.
It wasn’t so much the denouncing of the attack that garnered attention, but rather the fact that Al-Azhar was the first official voice to speak up about the attack, mere hours after it took place.
Meanwhile, the Council of Ministers was still trying to come up with a plan on how to tackle the crisis during their Wednesday session — four days after the attack.
Further, El-Tayeb made an appearance on national TV on Saturday, one day after the attack, and visited the Coptic pope’s residence in the cathedral of Abbassiya on Sunday to offer his condolences. During his visit, Copts congregated asking him to leave, and even attempted to attack his car. But once again El-Tayeb calmed the situation by saying that Coptic anger was understandable given the situation.
Following his stance of sympathy and tolerance, hundreds of Egyptian Muslims reached out to their Christian neighbours and friends, even attending mass on Christmas Eve.
“It was actually not the government but average Muslims who saved the day, and these Muslims were following the lead of al-Azhar,” explains Diaa Rashwan, an expert at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies. “The situation was very critical and El-Tayeb managed to diffuse the anger on both sides and helped us pass this crisis.”
In fact, says Rashwan, Al-Azhar has always been the beacon of moderate Islam and while some may call it an old decaying institution, it is not.
“You know, Egypt would have fallen into a swamp of extremism if it wasn’t for Al-Azhar,” insists Rashwan. “If you count all the extremists who have appeared in Egypt from 1974 to the end of violence in 1997, you will find that there are no more than 40 or 50 Azharites from the tens of thousands and that’s because Al-Azhar’s teachings protects its students from having extremist views.”
Indeed, for the past 10 months since El-Tayeb was appointed grand imam, Al-Azhar has played a major role in promoting moderation — or “the middle way of Islam” — and advocating tolerance.
It has become common to hear statements from Al-Azhar referring to verses of the Quran that discuss the bond between Muslims and Christians and the mutual respect that should exist between followers of the two faiths.
“Islam is a religion that believes that people are created to be different and as a result if we believe this value then we have to respect the other,” says Mohamed Tahtawi, official spokesperson of Al-Azhar. “Muslims believe in all the prophets without discrimination, and the Prophet Mohammad has said that whoever hurts a Christian is hurting him.”
How is Al-Azhar promoting moderation? “The channels we are using are numerous,” says Tahtawi. “The grand imam himself is stating this very clearly, through newspapers and other forms of media that carry great weight.”
The fact that Egyptian Muslims look up to Al-Azhar for guidance is not new. This is a country where graduates of Al-Azhar are respected and revered in cities and villages alike.
As an institution, the 1000-year-old Al-Azhar is a force to be reckoned with. It has 9000 institutes, 9000 faculty members and two million undergraduate students. There are also approximately 110,000 mosques in Egypt, each having four to eight Azharites — depending on size — appointed as imams, preachers or servants.
Despite, these numbers many analysts believe that the influence of Al-Azhar has waned recently, especially during the time of Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, grand imam from 1996 to 2010. Al-Azhar was seen by many as an extension of the government or its official mouthpiece on religious affairs.
From causing a public outcry for shaking hands with Shimon Peres to making one controversial fatwa after another, Al-Azhar became a laughing stock, with jokes that “Tantawi fears the government more than he fears God,” making the rounds in Egypt. The appointment of El-Tayeb after Tantawi’s death was not a coincidence.
“The government has realised that the political manipulation of Al-Azhar actually hurt it and has not helped,” says Hossam Tammam, an expert on Islamic movements. So they had to pick a new grand imam who would distance himself from the government and earn back some of Al-Azhar’s lost credibility. El-Tayeb fit the bill.
“El-Tayeb is not a normal sheikh; he speaks English French and Arabic, has graduated from the Sorbonne in France and completed his PhD on a Jewish philosopher,” says Tammam. “This openness has given him a good grasp on dialogue, pluralism and tolerance.”
But unlike Tantawi, who was easily accessible to journalists, El-Tayeb shied from the limelight. Gone are the days when journalists could just knock on the office door of the grand imam and ask for an interview. He now rarely gives interviews and has hired an official spokesman — a bilingual a former ambassador no less.
El-Tayeb has also made structural changes within Al-Azhar itself. Two days after the Alexandria attack he announced the “Family House” initiative, in which Muslim and Christian scholars will work to ease sectarian tensions. During his time as the head of the Azhar University he has also opened Al-Azhar English Training Centre to top theology students, so that they may able to communicate well if they choose to work overseas.
Now El-Tayeb is considering opening other centres in French, German, Turkish, Persian and Hebrew. These centres, says Tahtawi, will help expose students to the rest of the world. He also created “elite classes,” for top students where 300 of the most successful students are trained to become the preachers of the future.
El-Tayeb also opened the doors of Al-Azhar to two of the most recognized faces of Islam: Amr Khaled, the young televangelist who was previously shunned by the sheikhdom for his lack of an Al-Azharite background, and Youssef El-Karadawi who was often at loggerheads with Tantawi, to help in reforming the institution. His statements that it is sinful to call Shia Muslims heretics were also met with accolades in Iran.
“If you say we want to have open dialogue with non-Muslims and Shia and Sunni Muslims, how can we close our doors in the face of Muslim scholars?” says Tahtawi. “No, everybody is welcome, this is a house for all.”
El-Tayeb also opened the Centre for Dialogue in July 2010 and hired Mahmoud Azab, a professor of Islamic studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, to run it.
“The Quran gave us the right to disagree and debate 1,400 years ago, centuries before the Europeans began talking about it,” says Azab. “There is also a special dialogue with People of the Book specifically and we aim to entrench this culture of dialogue in the Egyptian and Arab street, homes, families and schools.”
Despite all these changes, Al-Azhar is not without critics. Some believe that most of the changes are superficial and do not tackle the problems that have made Al-Azhar lose its credibility.
“There is no Al-Azhar, because if there was Egypt wouldn’t be facing this sectarian crisis, or the spread of radical Islam or the deterioration of religious dialogue,” Gamal El-Banna, an Islamic thinker, told Ahram Online. “Where were all the Al-Azhar graduates, who are supposed to be symbols of enlightenment, while the situation is escalating?’
El-Banna says that Al-Azhar needs to take more practical steps that include eradicating extremist ideas, developing a vision for the future and upgrading the Azharite curriculum, which he dubbed “sterile”.
Ali Laban, former Muslim Brotherhood MP who went head to head with Sheikh Tantawi several times agrees. “I cannot deny that the sheikhdom has gone through changes since El-Tayeb was appointed,” says Laban. “But most of these changes are superficial.”
Laban cited the example of the Council of Islamic Research, which he says according to Law 103 of 1961, should have 20 per cent of its members from overseas, but in fact doesn’t.
“I have repeatedly asked that they restructure the council so that it become an international body and nobody ever listens,” says Laban.
Tahtawi insists that it will take time for Al-Azhar to move forward. “I admit that Al-Azhar was not present enough in the past, and I don’t want to blame anyone,” says Tahtawi. “But now Al-Azhar is very much present and its presence will be felt.”
RIYADH: As part of its Republic Day celebrations, the Indian Embassy here will be organize a musical concert “Shaam-e-Ghazal” by renowned ghazal maestro “Pankaj Udhas” and his troupe at 7:30 p.m. at the International Indian School (Girls Section) auditorium on Wednesday Feb. 2, Pankaj Udhas, popularly known as velvet-voiced singer, is one of the most famous Urdu ghazal singers of India. Starting from "Aahat" in 1980 till "Yaara" in 2007, he has around 40 albums to his credit.
Over the last thirty years, he has been sincerely contributing in popularizing various forms of Urdu poetry like ghazals, rubayees and nazms among non-Urdu audiences all over India and abroad. His albums represent a unique amalgam of traditional rich music and decent lyrics which appeal to contemporary listeners. The singer has lent his voice to several popular songs for Hindi films as well. In recognition of his outstanding contribution to ghazals, several prestigious institutions and organizations all over the world have conferred on Pankaj Udhas grand awards and felicitations; the most prestigious among them “Padma Shri” award in March 2006 by President of India. The program is for Indian nationals and invitation cards are available at the Indian Embassy free of charge. Those interested in attending the event have been requested to contact the mission with valid iqama copies along with their contact numbers and collect their passes January 27 and 28 between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. According to embassy sources, the cards will be issued on a first-come-first-served basis. Children below 12 years are not allowed. A maximum of four persons per application will be considered. Applications received by fax or email will not be entertained, the sources said.
ISLAMABAD: A former official of the Inter-Services Intelligence, who was kidnapped in March last year along with an erstwhile colleague and a British journalist of Pakistani origin, has been reportedly killed by terrorists. Television channels here quoted his family members as saying they had been informed of his murder but there was no official confirmation.
Sultan Amir Tarar — better known by his pseudonym Colonel Imam — had been kidnapped along with former ISI official Khalid Khwaja when they were escorting journalist Asad Qureshi to the tribal belt along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan to make a film on the Taliban.
While Mr. Khwaja's body was found on April 30 after he was shot down purportedly for working for the U.S., Mr. Qureshi was released in September. A little known group, Asian Tigers, had claimed responsibility for the kidnappings.
Meanwhile, U.S. drones launched another air strike in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan on Sunday in which four local militants are reported to have been killed. Datta Khel is believed to be a command and control centre for the Al-Qaeda.
This was the seventh Predator attack in Pakistan this year and all seven were in North Waziristan.
Murder of Punjab governor intensifies security concerns for woman sentenced to death.
LAHORE— A mother of five sentenced to death on “blasphemy” charges has lived in constant fear since the killing of Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer, her husband told Compass as he came out of Sheikhupura District Jail after meeting with her last week.
Ashiq Masih said his wife, Asia Noreen (alternatively spelled Aaysa, and also called Asia Bibi), is “very afraid.” Her conviction triggered a violent chain of events in Pakistan, including the Jan. 4 murder of Taseer by his bodyguard after the governor voiced support for her.
“She knows the Muslims have announced a prize on her head and would go to any lengths to kill her,” a visibly nervous Masih told Compass. “The governor’s murder in broad daylight has put her in a state of paranoia.”
He added that threats by Islamist extremists have dampened Noreen’s hope of getting justice from the Lahore High Court, where her appeal against the conviction has been filed but yet to be taken up.
Wearing a dark cloak to hide his identity, Masih was visibly nervous after meeting with her on Jan. 11.
“She was asking me about the situation outside,” he said. “I tried to console her, but she knows it’s really bad. She’s also worried about the children.”
The mother of two children and stepmother to three others, Noreen asked him to appeal for more prayers for her, he said.
“Please tell everyone to pray for her,” he said.
Masih said prison authorities had improved Noreen’s security considerably after Taseer’s killing.
“She’s being kept in a separate cell with a warden deployed 24 hours for her security,” he said. “Only I am allowed to meet her, but even I am searched completely before they bring her out for the meeting. I just hope and pray she keeps safe inside the prison.”
Still, prison officials have reportedly said she will be transferred to another prison soon because of security concerns.
The female warden tasked with Noreen’s security the day Taseer was killed told Compass of the Christian woman’s reaction to the news.
“I was escorting her for her routine walk on the evening Governor Taseer was gunned down,” said the warden, who requested anonymity. “We were passing by a barrack when the news broke out on TV that the governor was dead … She stood there in shock for some time, and then she started screaming and crying.”
The warden added that she helped Noreen back to her cell, “as she could barely walk and kept weeping.”
“She cried all evening and also refused to have supper,” the warden said. “The governor’s killing shattered her. The governor’s visit had boosted her morale – she was very happy and every time I spoke to her, I could feel the joy in her heart. She shared with me how she had lost hope, and how God had sent Taseer to help her. A particular verse that she often repeats is from John 14:1, which says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.”
The warden said she was assigned Noreen’s security following reports that attempts would be made to kill her inside the jail. Since Taseer’s killing, she said, Noreen has grown suspicious of everyone around her.
“She’s only taken out of her cell for an hour, but even then she is fearful of her surroundings, even though all the other inmates are locked up before she’s taken out for exercise,” she said. “One can imagine how insecure she must be feeling after Taseer was killed by one of his own guards.”
Sheikhupura District Jail Superintendent Sheikh Khalid, who recently assumed charge, told Compass that Noreen was the most “high value” inmate of the prison and that he was not going to take any chances regarding her security.
“She is on the hit list of several extremist organizations,” he said, “and there are reports that she might be targeted inside the jail – moreover, she has a 30 million rupee [US$350,000] prize on her head. This is enough incentive for anyone to kill her.”
He said the prison had enhanced its security measures, and additional forces have been employed to guard the premises at night.
“No one except her husband can meet her,” Khalid said. “I have also directed her not to eat anything given to her by any person other than the wardens deployed for her security. We are trying our best to keep her safe, but life and death are in the hands of Allah.”
Noreen’s lawyer, S.K. Chaudhry, declined to discuss the future course of legal action because of the sensitive nature of the case.
Noreen has been condemned to death for insulting Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, a charge she denies. A week after her conviction, the governor of Punjab province visited her in jail. Taseer, a liberal Muslim, did not mince words as he assured Noreen of his support. He told her he believed that the charges against her were fabricated and that there had been a miscarriage of justice. He promised that he would recommend a presidential pardon for her.
During that visit, he called Pakistan’s blasphemy statutes “a black law” and called for their repeal – a demand that ultimately resulted in his brutal killing, as one of his own police bodyguards believed that Taseer had blasphemed by criticizing the law.
Masih, Noreen’s husband, said he was about to have lunch when he first heard the news of the killing of Taseer on TV.
“I had taken the first bite when the news flashed that Governor Taseer had been killed,” he said. “I was stunned, couldn’t swallow the food either … no words can explain that moment.”
He denied government reports that it was providing his family security, saying they were living in a safe-house arranged by “some friends” and surviving on money provided by Christian organizations. Taseer’s murder, he added, had shaken the little confidence the family had after the governor’s assurance of support to them.
“They killed the governor for supporting her,” he said. “He died for us, but it seems his sacrifice has gone in vain.”
Somali Mother of Four Slaughtered for her Faith
NAIROBI — A mother of four was killed for her Christian faith on Jan. 7 on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia by Islamic extremists from al Shabaab militia, a relative said.
The relative, who requested anonymity, said Asha Mberwa, 36, was killed at 5:15 p.m. in Warbhigly village; the Islamic extremists from the insurgent group had arrested her outside her house the previous day at 8:30 a.m. She died when the militants cut her throat in front of villagers who came out of their homes as witnesses.
She is survived by her children – ages 12, 8, 6 and 4 – and her husband, who was not home at the time she was apprehended. They had married in 1993.
Her relative, whose location is also withheld for security reasons, said he had phoned her on Jan. 5 to try to make arrangements for moving her family out of the area. Al Shabaab extremists, who control large parts of Mogadishu, were able to monitor the conversation and confirm that she had become a Christian, he said.
Full report at:
A suicide bomber killed 20 people at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport on Monday, Russian news agencies reported, quoting investigators.
Reports said the blast occurred in the baggage check-in area of the airport, the Russian capital’s biggest in terms of passenger traffic.
Jan 24, 2011
STANFORD TRAINING AREA: Deep in the countryside of eastern England, British troops train in a mock Afghan village designed to look, feel, and sound like the real thing.
Reporters were shown around the 30,000-acre training complex this month, as troops who will be deployed in Helmand province in the real Afghanistan this spring trained alongside dozens of Afghan exiles. The facility, built in 2008, is meant to replicate a typical village in Helmand, with houses, shops and open markets, and the exiles playing the role of villagers.
Soldiers patrol the bazaar, where plastic fruit fills the crates. An Afghan "villager" tries to get a soldier to trade him his gun for a bicycle. Officers say the site provides critical training for troops, most of whom have never been to Afghanistan. Major Marcus Luckyn-Malone said the exercises help "soldiers of all ranks understand what it is to operate in Helmand".
TARKHANI — A Muslim who allegedly confessed to sexually assaulting five Christian girls raped a 10-year-old Catholic girl in Punjab Province last month, according to her family.
Tarkhani police have charged 25-year-old Muhammad Aftab, also known as Chandu, with raping a minor (section 376 of the Pakistan Penal Code) in a sugar cane field in Village 226-GB, according to First Information Report (FIR) No. 429 at the Tarkhani Police Station. Aftab has been arrested and remanded to Central Jail Faisalabad.
Aftab allegedly raped the girl on Dec. 10, Abid Masih, a 31-year-old relative of the girl, told Compass in village 226-GB, Tarkhani near Gojra.
“Though we had informed the Tarkhani police station, for a day we kept quiet as the rapist had gone underground, and we waited for him to come out,” Masih told Compass at his home. “When the rapist saw that no one has taken action against him, he came out, and our girl immediately identified him.”
A quest for reform across the Muslim world
The despicable assassination in Pakistan of Punjab’s provincial governor, allegedly due to his disparaging views on Islam, has once again prompted many to question what century they are living in.
The heinous attack on the Coptic Christian Church in Egypt’s Alexandria by terrorists who either claim or are claimed to have done it in the name of Islam shows that multi-religious communities are not immune to incitements of violence. Similarly, in Tunisia the recent popular uprising because of socio-economic and political deprivation has led to the deaths of many civilians. These and many other unfortunate incidents taking place across what is dubbed the Muslim world make it ever more necessary for Muslims to proactively revisit their problems and come up with their own sustainable solutions. In this process, the onus is on reformist leaders, institutions and intergovernmental organizations, the most overarching one of which is the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
January 24, 2011
The Bishop of the Coptic Church in Germany, Damian Anba, stated before Christmas, as reported in the weekly, Bild: "The police warned us several times that Islamic extremists might try to break into our churches during the celebrations of our Christmas." Does this mean that Christians in general, and Copts in particular, are in danger not only in Egypt and in the Islamic world, but also in Europe? Or was this warning an unjustified alarm, prompted by fear?
Unfortunately the analysis of documents and certain statements leads to a pessimistic answer.
If we just limited ourselves to the surface of the declarations and statements of Muslim leaders ideologically linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, issued in Europe in recent days, or in the days immediately following the atrocious attack in Alexandria, we could - but only initially - draw a sigh of relief.
NEW DELHI: Senior BJP leaders Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Ananth Kumar on Monday arrived at the Jammu airport ahead of the party's Ekta Yatra, but were stopped from leaving the premises. The building was locked to prevent the leaders from exiting the airport.
Police put restriction under section 144 of the CrPC to prevent them from leaving the airport.
Sushma Swaraj tweeted from the Jammu airport: "Initially they were not allowing us to deplane. Now we have come out. We are sitting at the tarmac. They are not allowing the plane to fly back. They are asking us to go back in the plane. We have refused".
Undeterred by Jammu and Kashmir government's actions to stop the flag yatra, BJP dispatched its top leaders to the state to "take command" of the party programme to hoist the tricolour in Lal Chowk in Srinagar on Republic Day.
LAHORE: Pakistan is the "home" of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and he will be given a warm welcome whenever he chooses to visit the country, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Sunday.
"Manmohan Singh was born in Pakistan. It is his home. We will welcome him whenever he wishes to come here," Gilani said during an interaction with representatives of the foreign media at his residence here.
Asked if he was inviting Singh to visit Pakistan, Gilani replied: "Whenever he wishes (to come to Pakistan), we will welcome him."
Singh was born in Chakwal in Pakistan's Punjab province, from where his family moved at the time of partition. Gilani said his Indian counterpart appeared to be "serious" about dialogue to usher in peace in the region.
TEHRAN: Iran hanged on Monday a serial killer of women, three rapists and two political activists in the capital Tehran and the nearby city of Karaj, reports said.
Omid Barak, 24, was hanged in public in Karaj Square for murdering, raping and robbing 10 women, state television's website said.
Three other men, named as Ghavam Atakeshzadeh, Mostafa Karimi Khaneghah and Reza Dehghan, were hanged in Tehran's Evin prison for raping a teenage boy in 2007, the report said.
In a separate report, the Tehran prosecutor's office said Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Hajaghaei were hanged on Monday over ties with Islamic regime's exiled opposition, People's Mujahedeen of Iran, and "rioting."
Iran has executed two members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) terrorist group who had carried out activities against the Islamic Republic in liaison with agents in Britain.
The two terrorists, Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Haj Aqaei, were hanged on Monday for distributing placards and photos of the terrorist group, making videos and images during the post-election unrest in Iran in 2009 and chanting slogans in favor of the MKO, IRNA reported.
Haj Aqaei had confessed that he traveled to and stayed in Camp Ashraf, MKO's headquarters and training site in the Iraqi province of Diyala, for months.
He also admitted that he once received 3,000 US dollars from the MKO and attended training courses.
Six people executed in Islamic Republic on Monday alone, including two opposition activists, three rapists, one serial killer
Unprecedented wave of executions in the Islamic Republic. Iran executed six people on Monday bringing the number of executions since the beginning of 2011 to 64, an average of one person every nine hours.
It was reported that among those executed were two activists who were members of an exiled group that joined post-election protests. The Tehran prosecutor's office named the two as Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Hajaghaei. In addition, those executed included three men accused of sexual assault and a serial killer who was sentenced to a public flogging.
Besides drug charges, the Iranian constitution gives out a death sentence for murder, rape, adultery, armed robbery and espionage. Most of the citizens executed since the beginning of the year were convicted of drug offences. Just last week, ten drug smugglers were executed. National media outlets reported that the ten were flogged and fined before they were killed.
MUZAFFARNAGAR: Darul Uloom Deoband's new head Maulana Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi, who had recently praised development works in Gujarat, has said that CM Narendra Modi cannot be be given a "clean chit" in the 2002 riots.
"Those who were involved in Gujarat riots should be punished," the cleric said at the seminary after taking charge as VC and added that he has never praised the BJP leader.
"How can something like this be said about a cruel man like him. I have not given a clean chit to him (Modi).... We will pray that those who were involved are not spared.... Those who were killed will not return," Vastanvi said. The VC said he raised the point of the state`s development because it involves the people of every community in Gujarat.
Had lost two members after the murder of Sunil Joshi in Dewas THE TRIO was named in addition to five activists, who were sentenced to life imprisonment on July 31, 2009
A MUSLIM family whose two members were killed the day after Hindu radical Sunil Joshi was murdered is living in fear because three right-wing activists named in the dying declaration of Jaleel Shah, who was burnt alive, are moving scot-free.
In police records, the trio is missing though they move openly in neighbouring Agrod, from where they hail, and nearby villages.
Joshi, the alleged mastermind of Malegaon and Mecca Masjid blasts, was shot dead late on December 29, 2007, in Dewas town, 30 km from this village.
The next morning, motorcycle-borne right-wing activists from Agrod and Vijayaganj Mandi villages killed Rasheed Shah, 65, and doused his 27-year-old son Jaleel with an inflammable substance and set him afire. Jaleel succumbed to his burns two weeks later
in Indore’s MY Hospital.
Full report at: Inidan Express
Tunisia arrests TV channel owner for 'treason' Reuters
24 January 2011
Tunisia has arrested the owner of a private TV station and his son for “treason” for inciting violence and working for ousted leader Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali’s return, the state news agency said on Sunday.
“The owner of Hannibal TV (Larbi Nasra), who is a relative of the former president’s wife, is using the channel to abort the youth’s revolution, spread confusion, incite strife and broadcast false information,” a statement citing an authorised source said.
“The aim is to create a constitutional vacuum, ruin stability and take the country into a vortex of violence that will bring back the dictatorship of the former president.”
Veteran strongman Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown this month in a popular uprising over poverty, corruption and political repression that stunned Arab and Western governments who had long backed Ben Ali.
As the diplomatic world continues to be rocked by the barrage of WikiLeaks and other revelations, terrorism, wars and conflicts of all flavours, J BROOKS SPECTOR remembers the days of another big crisis - the Iranian hostage drama and how it impacted on lives of US diplomats in another country, Indonesia.
This year 20 January marked the 30th anniversary of the release of the 52 American diplomats from their 15-month captivity in the US embassy in Tehran. Soon after the abdication and exile of the Shah, Iranian student demonstrators seized the US embassy, took most of the American employees hostage, and then, ironically, virtually guaranteed president Jimmy Carter would be defeated by the verbally much tougher Ronald Reagan in the November 1980 election.
By Andrew Buncombe
Model's stand after conviction for drinking alcohol exposes brutality of Malaysian law
She says it was only the second time she had drunk alcohol in her life, and even then it was just a few of glasses of beer. But it was enough for a Muslim court in Malaysia to order Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a part-time model and mother-of-two, to be caned. The corporal punishment case has divided the Asian nation and led human rights campaigners to urge the authorities to show restraint.
Now, in her first interview, Ms Kartika has urged the authorities to carry out the punishment in public. "I never cried when I was sentenced by the judge," she told Reuters at her father's house in a village 200 miles north of Kuala Lumpur. "I told myself, all right then, let's get on with it."
By Dr R Balashankar
The Muslim Brotherhood: The Burden of Tradition by Alison Pargeter, Saqi Books, 26, Westbourne Grove, London W2 5RH, UK, Pp 248(HB), £20/-
The New Muslim Brotherhood In the West, Lorenzo Vidino, published by Columbia University Press, New York, Pp 326 (HB), £19.50.
TWO books have appeared near simultaneous on Muslim Brotherhood, an international organisation, whose declared objective is to establish the rule of Islam throughout the world. While one book The Muslim Brotherhood: The Burden of Tradition by Alison Pargeter has been written in obvious sympathy to the outfit, calling them moderates with whom governments should do business, the other, The New Muslim Brotherhood In the West by Lorenzo Vidino has apprehensions about the Brotherhood and its seemingly moderate views, nearly calling it wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Since global media coverage has tugged at the diverse Muslim image, eco-fashion hasn’t always been able to speak out as a mainstream trend of the Muslim lifestyle. But more eco-aware Muslims are creating businesses and blogs to promote ethical clothing as an integral part of the Islamic faith. In part one to this short series, Green Prophet reporter Zaufishan explores why and how Muslim women are digging the eco-living.
What is an Eco-Hijab?
An ‘eco-hijab’ is a contemporary coined term used to describe the relationship between ecologically driven Muslims, and the Arabic word for the Muslim dress sense: hijab, meaning ‘barrier, covering or veil’. This eco-hijab fuses Muslims’ ‘green’ values with with their visual identity of modest clothing, for example organic hijabs made from bamboo.
JERUSALEM: Palestinians were prepared to compromise over two of the toughest issues, Jerusalem and refugees, during peace talks in 2008, according to a report by the Al-Jazeera TV channel that quoted from documents it said came from the talks.
Palestinian negotiators quickly denied the report, which was broadcast Sunday, saying parts of the documents were fabricated. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he has kept Arab countries fully briefed on the negotiations with Israel.
Al-Jazeera said the Palestinians offered to let Israel keep all but one of the Jewish enclaves it build in east Jerusalem after capturing it in the 1967 Mideast war. About 200,000 Israelis live there now.
In return, according to the quoted documents, the Palestinians wanted Israeli land, including a section close to the West Bank-Israel line where many of Israel's minority Arab citizens live.
BANGALORE: BJP on Sunday asserted it will hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on Republic Day despite the "suppressive methods" of the UPA and the Omar Adullah government in Jammu and Kashmir.
"...let me warn the government: You can suppress by various methods our agitation, but we will unfurl the flag at Srinagar on 26th January. That's definite," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told a press conference here.
He said, "We know how to reach Jammu, how to reach Srinagar, if the government adopts suppressive methods. We will reach."
On the halting the train in Maharashtra carrying BJP youth wing activists from Karnataka to Srinagar for the January 26 event, and sending them back to the state, he condemned and termed it "undemocratic", saying it's akin to emergency days of 1975.
DHAKA: Bangladesh on Sunday renamed its paramilitary frontier force as Border Guard of Bangladesh as it changed its laws, uniform and monogram under a reconstruction campaign, nearly two years after it was rocked by a bloody mutiny that claimed 74 lives.
PM Sheikh Hasina unveiled the new flag of the force during a brief ceremony at the frontier force's Pilkhana headquarters in the capital Dhaka, the scene of the February 25-26 2009, carnage, while formally renaming Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) as Boarder Guard of Bangladesh (BGB).
The BGB troops offered Hasina an honour guard as she asked them to be imbued with a renewed spirit of protecting the country's frontier.
KABUL: Nato said its air strikes have killed two key local Taliban leaders in eastern Afghanistan.
The international military alliance said in a statement issued on Monday that its forces killed the Taliban shadow administrator for Nangarhar province’s Hisarak district in a strike last Friday. Nato had previously announced the strike but said they were unsure if Maulawi Anwar had been killed.
Nato also said that it killed a Taliban operative in Logar province’s Pul-i-Alam district in a strike on Sunday. The coalition says the man, Abdul Bari, helped Taliban leaders get weapons and vehicles.
Jan 24 2011
Jerusalem : An Israeli inquiry cleared the government and military on Sunday of wrongdoing in the bloody seizure of a Turkish aid ship that tried to breach the Gaza blockade, provoking an angry response from Ankara.
The Turkel Commission, whose report will form the core of Israel's submission to a UN investigation into the May 31 incident, endorsed the sea closure but called for reviews by Israel of how to direct its sanctions at Gaza's Hamas rulers and spare civilians.
"By clearly resisting capture, the Mavi Marmara had become a military objective," the commission said in a 245-page report, referring to the converted cruise ship which Israeli marines boarded on the high seas after it ignored orders to turn away.
Nine Turks were shot dead in the clash. The commission accused the IHH, a Turkish Islamist charity that owned the Mavi Marmara, "of planned and extremely violent" resistance which was "directly connected to the ongoing international armed conflict between Israel and Hamas."
Singapore : Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew has urged local Muslims to "be less strict on Islamic observances" to aid integration and the city-state's nation-building process.
Singapore has a predominantly Chinese population, with minority races including Muslim Malays and Indians, and Lee has always stressed the importance of racial harmony.
"I would say today, we can integrate all religions and races except Islam," he said in "Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going," a new book containing his typically frank views on the city-state and its future.
"I think we were progressing very nicely until the surge of Islam came and if you asked me for my observations, the other communities have easier integration – friends, inter-marriages and so on..." he stated
"I think the Muslims socially do not cause any trouble, but they are distinct and separate," Lee added, calling on the community to "be less strict on Islamic observances."
During the book's launch on Friday, the self-described "pragmatist" warned Singaporeans against complacency, saying the largely ethnic Chinese republic was still a nation in the making.
Yemen releases female activist after protests
Yemen has released an activist who had led rallies against the president after her arrest sparked a new wave of protests in the Arab country’s capital.
Tawakul Karman, a journalist and member of the party Islah, was detained on Sunday. She was then released on a guarantee from her family, a security source said on Monday.
Inspired by the recent ouster of Tunisia’s long-time president, Karman called for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down and had led two rallies at Sanaa University.
Saleh’s cash-strapped government is not only plagued by rebellions in the north and south, but also by a resurgent al Qaeda wing. He has ruled Yemen for over three decades.
Also on Sunday another 18 opposition activists were arrested and one demonstrator was shot dead by police in the southern city of Aden who were trying to stop a march.
At least 12 people have been killed and more than 30 others injured in two bomb explosions that ripped through a neighborhood in Iraq's holy city of Karbala.
Police say the car bombs went off at a parking lot, destroying several nearby vehicles and buildings in the al-Ibrahimiyah area in eastern Karbala, some 110 km southwest of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, police sources said on Monday.
The latest attack came as part of a series of bomb attacks as tens of thousands of Shia pilgrims are converging from outside Iraq and from different Iraqi provinces to the holy shrine of the third Shia Imam, Imam Hussein (PBUH), in Karbala.
Violence and sporadic high-profile bomb attacks continue in Iraqi cities.
TONGI, Bangladesh: Tens of thousands of Muslims seeking peace and the revival of Islam’s tenets joined a mass prayer Sunday to wrap up an annual three-day Islamic congregation outside the Bangladeshi capital.
It was not clear how many devotees joined the final prayer, but the organizers had earlier said the congregation was expected to attract more than 4 million people on the sandy bank of the River Turag.
Local police chief S.M. Mahfuzul Haque Nuruzzman said the gathering was peaceful like previous years as thousands walked to the site overnight and in the morning to join the final prayer of the World Congregation of Muslims, or Biswa Ijtema.
The gathering, held each year since 1966, is among the world’s largest religious gatherings. It shuns politics.
As many as seven persons of a Christian family embraced Islam at the hands of a prominent religious cleric Pir Ahmad Raza Al-Mustafa during a special ceremony held at a local mosque in village Jhaaraanwala here. The said family was laboring at a local bricks kiln.
DASKA, Pakistan (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - As many as seven persons of a Christian family embraced Islam at the hands of a prominent religious cleric Pir Ahmad Raza Al-Mustafa during a special ceremony held at a local mosque in village Jhaaraanwala here. The said family was laboring at a local bricks kiln.
Their Islamic names would be as: Mushtaq Maseeh-Muhammad Mushtaq, Inderyas Maseeh-Muhammad Ali, Sahil Maseeh-Bilal Ahmad, Dawood Maseeh-Dawood Ahmad, Shahid Maseeh-Muhammad Shahid, Gulshan Maseeh-Fatima Bibi and Mahiya Maseeh-Mahiya Fatima.
A mosque and community centre will be built in the Gungahlin Town Centre after the ACT Government approved the direct sale of land to the Canberra Muslim Community.
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - A mosque and community centre will be built in the Gungahlin Town Centre after the ACT Government approved the direct sale of land to the Canberra Muslim Community.
Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said the 5390m sq site, on The Valley Avenue, was selected following consultation with the Muslim community and other residents in the area.
The sale includes the use of an adjoining block for overflow parking under a licensing agreement with the Government.
Mr Stanhope said the extra space should alleviate any concerns about traffic or parking pressures.
As anti-US sentiments are on the rise in Afghanistan, shocking new footage shows American soldiers desecrating the holy Qur'an after killing civilians in an Afghan village.
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - As anti-US sentiments are on the rise in Afghanistan, shocking new footage shows American soldiers desecrating the holy Qur'an after killing civilians in an Afghan village.
Reports say at least three civilians were killed and four others were injured after US forces raided an Islamic school in Ghazni Province. The troops fired several shots at the holy Qur'an and insulted Islamic symbols, a Press TV correspondent reported.
Provincial authorities say US forces carried out the attack without coordination with the Afghan army. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has promised to launch an investigation into the incident.
Karzai's office has repeatedly called on the US to pay more attention to the protection of civilian lives during military operations.
By: Diana West
Politico featured a story this week headlined "Muslim groups nervous about King hearings." It discussed Muslim apprehension regarding upcoming congressional hearings led by Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., "on the threat posed by radical Islam in America."
That phrase -- "radical Islam" -- is truly a marvel, a bulletproof shield for Islam itself, which, sorry, guys and gals, is the source of all things we deem "radical" in Islam.
"Islam is Islam and that's it," as Turkey's Erdogan so memorably put it. But since we don't want Islam to be "it," we make policy and even war based on some mythic radicalism of "twisted" or "hijacked" or "perverted" Islam.
If these King hearings turn out be about the threat posed by "radical Islam" -- and not about the threat posed by what is radical about Islam -- "nervous" Muslim groups have nothing to worry about, and anti-jihad, anti-sharia citizens have nothing to gain.
London, Jan 23: London based hate cleric Anjem Choudary has urged Muslims to issue a 'fatwa' against British Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May.
Choudary branded both leaders as the biggest enemies of Muslims in government because of their opposition to the relaxation of control orders for terror suspects.
"I know that there is going to be a campaign that addresses the Government directly, Theresa May and David Cameron, and challenges them to say, 'What is the real relationship with the Muslim community?" the Daily Star quoted him, as saying.
"I think it's time we challenged them and I can envisage people issuing fatwas against people like Theresa May and David Cameron," Choudary added.
UPA CHAIRPERSON Sonia Gandhi made it a point to check out M. F. Husain’s paintings during an unannounced visit to the India Art Summit on its concluding day on Sunday.
Art circles interpreted her gesture as an expression of silent support to the master, who went into self- exile in Dubai in February 2007 after he was targeted by Hindutva groups.
The summit’s organisers had been lowkey about the presence of Husain’s paintings because they feared that might rile the painter’s extremist opponents. The paintings had been put up by Ashish Anand of Delhi Art Gallery, who took Sonia around his booth when she showed up.
“ She took a keen interest in the art works on display. We are glad that she came by,” Anand said. He added that by showcasing Husain, he had prepared the ground for other galleries to present the master’s paintings at public gatherings.
Full report at: Mail Today
THE BJP on Sunday launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah for attempting to stop the party youth wing’s march to Srinagar to hoist the Tricolour at Lal Chowk on Republic Day.
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said the PM’s statement that “ nothing divisive should be done on Republic Day” amounted to a “ psychological surrender” before the separatists.
“ The national flag is an assertion of India’s national pride and nationalism. It is a matter of national regret that the PM should regard the hoisting of the national flag as something which could be considered divisive or provocative. The BJP will continue to uphold its right to hoist the national flag in all parts of the country,” Jaitley said.
The march — Rashtriya Ekta Yatra — is being led by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha ( BJYM) president Anurag Thakur, who is also an MP. Starting from Kolkata on January 12, it has passed through 11 states. It is slated to enter Jammu and Kashmir on the morning of January 25.
Full report at:Mail Today
Clarridge's intelligence which has been used by the military often goes against US foreign policy
DUANERClarridgeparted company with the CIA over two decades ago, but from his home near San Diego, he still runs a network of spies.
He has fielded operatives in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Since the US cut off his funding inMay, he has relied on like-minded private donors topay his agent stocontinuegatheringinformation.
Hatchingschemesthatareacross between a Graham Greene novel and Mad Magazine's "Spy vs Spy," Clarridge has sought to discredit Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Kandahar power broker who has long been on the CIA payroll, and planned to set spiesonhishalfbrother,theAfghan President, HamidKarzai, inhopesof collecting beard trimmings or DNA samplesthatmightproveClarridge's suspicions that the Afghan leader wasaheroinaddict, associatessaid.
An Al Qaida-linked group in Gaza was behind the New Year’s Day suicide bombing that killed at least 21 Christians and wounded about a hundred outside a church in the Mediterranean port, the country’s Interior Minister announced on Sunday.
Habib al-Adly said “conclusive evidence” showed that the shadowy, Gaza-based Army of Islam was behind the planning and execution of the attack, which sparked three days of Christian rioting in Cairo and several other cities. It was the deadliest attack against Christians in Egypt in more than a decade.
He also suggested that the group recruited Egyptians in the planning and execution of the attack, but that this could not conceal the role it played in the “callous and terrorist” act. The identification of a foreign-based group as the perpetrator of the bombing provides authorities with key support to their contention that sectarianism was not behind violence against Christians and that al-Qaida has no significant foothold in Egypt.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has presented the acting Foreign Minister to Parliament to be approved as the new top envoy for the nation.
Ali Larijani, the Parliament Speaker, said in Sunday’s Parliament session that Ali Akbar Salehi had been put forward by the Government as the new Foreign Minister.
The Parliament will discusses the nominee in late January, added the Speaker. Under the law any Minister needs approval by the Parliament. Salehi is also head of Iran’s nuclear department.
DUBAI: Hundreds of rural Tunisians on Sunday reinforced protests led by industrial workers and professionals in the capital Tunis, adding more pressure on the remnants of the regime of ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Braving an overnight curfew, protesters from the town of Menzel Bouzaiane, which witnessed the first fatality of the uprising in December due to police firing, converged for a sit-in around the Interior Ministry.
Thousands of urban protestors are expected to join them later on Sunday, imparting a second wind to the uprising. The agitators are then expected to demonstrate outside the Prime Minster's office.
Overnight, the protesters from central Tunisia waving flags and holding aloft pictures of those killed during the month-long clashes with the police marched through the streets of Tunis.
ISLAMABAD: With opium prices shooting up by 164 per cent in 2010 over the 2009 level owing to shortage, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has warned of more Afghans taking to opium cultivation this year; more so with the falling prices of other licit crops. With 89 per cent of the total income from opium production going to farmers in the Taliban controlled areas of southern Afghanistan, it once again draws attention to how poppy cultivation remains a funding source for terror.
While the Afghanistan Opium Survey 2010 dwells on the strong linkage between opium production and insecurity in the southern and western parts of the war-ravaged country, the study makes no mention of an observation that was made in a September 2009 briefing to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation by former UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa.
JERUSALEM: Israel's Foreign Minister is putting together an interim peace plan that would grant the Palestinians limited independence in an attempt to blunt their efforts to win international recognition of an independent state, a government official said on Sunday.
The Palestinians rejected the notion of a provisional state as a “publicity stunt” and urged Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to work instead to achieve a final peace deal.
Mr. Lieberman has been an outspoken sceptic of current peace efforts, saying conditions are not ripe for an agreement. Yet at the same time, Israel is widely seen as being responsible for the current impasse in talks with the Palestinians and is under heavy international pressure to help find a new way forward.
Jammu & Kashmir Police on Sunday arrested a hawala operator along with his two accomplices in a joint operation with Delhi Police.
The detainee, a lawyer, heads the legal cell of the hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani. He also headed Hurriyat’s now-defunct Delhi office for several years.
“Advocate Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, Farooq Ahmad Dagga and Ghulam Jeelani Leelu from Srinagar were arrested. A Maruti car and hawala money amounting to Rs 21,20,000 were recovered,” said Srinagar SSP Ashiq Hussian Bukhari.
Sources said a Delhi Police team had been on the tracks of a hawala channel and during joint investigations, they raided the upmarket Hyderpora residence of Bhat, who is a close aide of Geelani.
NEW DELHI: Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat has voiced concern at the continued detention of Muslims “falsely accused” in bomb blasts cases and urged the Union government to release them without delay, pay them compensation and ensure their rehabilitation.
In a letter to Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, she said these people, most of them young men, were in jail in the blast cases of Malegaon (2006 and 2008), Mecca Masjid (2007), the Samjhauta Express (2007) and the Ajmer Sharif (2007).
Ms. Karat said the confessional statement of Aseemanand further exposed the Hindutva groups' “diabolical” role in planning and executing the Ajmer dargah blast. (The Rajasthan ATS took Aseemanand in its custody on Saturday.) Following reports from the Rajasthan Anti-Terrorism Squad on the involvement of these groups in the Ajmer Sharif blast, and their links to the other blasts, she raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha, demanding the release of, and compensation to, all those who were wrongly accused in these cases.
“I regret that the government paid no heed to this demand, in spite of the support it received from different quarters of the House. On the contrary, the CBI, which is dealing with some of these cases, continued to ensure that innocent people remained in jail by opposing their bail pleas,” the letter said.
Why do Muslims back Malegaon suspects CBI asks clerics
Mumbai: The special investigation team of the CBI,camping in Malegaon to reinvestigate the 2006 mosque blast cases, has upset a section of residents. The CBI team has reportedly asked the imam of a mosque why the Muslims in Malegaon are supporting SIMI members who are allegedly responsible for the mosque blasts.
The twist in the Malegaon blast case came after Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Aseemanand (59) of the Shabridham Ashram told a magistrate that his men were involved in the Malegaon 2006 blasts.
Taking cognizance of the confessional statement, the CBI filed an application in a special court in Mumbai seeking permission to reinvestigate the September 8,2006 bomb blast cases which killed 31 and injured 297 people. Four RDX bombs were planted adjacent to a mosque in a cemetery and in Mushawerat chowk in Malegaon on cycles. The Maharashtra ATS had then arrested nine youth saying they were responsible for the blasts.
Times of India
ISTANBUL: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday blasted an Israeli probe’s conclusion that a raid on Gaza-bound aid ships did not violate international law, saying it had no credibility.
The assault by Israeli forces on a flotilla of aid ships to prevent them from reaching Gaza killed nine Turkish activists, straining relations between the two countries.
“How can a report ordered and prepared in the same country (Israel) have any value?” the Anatolia news agency quoted Erdogan as telling journalists in Ankara.
“We will follow this affair. This report has no credibility,” he said.
Turkey’s own inquiry found that Israeli forces had used “excessive” force during the assault on the Mavi Marmara and other vessels carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, according to findings announced Sunday.
The preliminary conclusions of the report said “the Israeli army used excessive force against the Mavi Marmara”.
MIRANSHAH: A series of unmanned US drone strikes in a lawless district of Pakistan on Sunday killed at least 13 militants, officials said, as tribesmen took to the streets to protest the aerial campaign.
The first two attacks took place in Datta Khel, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of North Waziristan’s main town of Miranshah. The third was in Mando Khel, around 60 kilometres south of the town.
In the first strike two missiles were fired on a vehicle seconds after it stopped outside a house in Datta Khel, officials said.
“The US drone hit a car immediately after it parked outside a house. Four militants have been killed,” an intelligence official in Miranshah told AFP, adding that the vehicle was destroyed and the house badly damaged.
“Preliminary reports said all of them were local militants but we are trying to get more information,” he added.
JERUSALEM: Palestinians were prepared to compromise over two of the toughest issues, Jerusalem and refugees, during peace talks in 2008, the Al-Jazeera TV channel reported Sunday, quoting from documents it said came from the talks.
Palestinian negotiators quickly denied the reports, saying parts of the documents were fabricated. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he has kept Arab countries fully briefed on the negotiations with Israel.
Al-Jazeera said the Palestinians offered to let Israel keep all but one of the Jewish enclaves it build in east Jerusalem after capturing it in the 1967 Mideast war. About 200,000 Israelis live there now.
In return, according to the quoted documents, the Palestinians wanted Israeli land, including a section close to the West Bank-Israel line where many of Israel’s minority Arab citizens live.
GENEVA: More than four million Pakistanis are still homeless six months after historic floods devastated the South Asian country, the Red Cross said.
“Six months on from the devastating flooding in Pakistan, more than four million people remain in a desperate situation without adequate shelter,” said the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in a statement.
Families who have begun leaving camps and temporary shelters have returned to find that their homes are no longer inhabitable, leading to a “secondary wave of displacement.””The cruelty of this disaster is that millions of people were driven from their homes by the floods. They have endured miserable conditions, living for months under canvas or tarpaulins,” said Gocha Guchashvili, IFRC flood operations coordinator in Pakistan.
BETHESDA: Opponents of the late shah of Iran on Sunday stood side-by-side with former regime officials at a memorial service here for his son Alireza Pahlavi, who killed himself this month.
United in grief, the men and women openly wept as they watched a photo montage of Pahlavi as a baby, a young boy in Iran, at his graduation from Princeton University and playing with one of his nieces.
“This is not just a tragedy for the family, it’s a tragedy for the Iranian people,” Alireza Nourizadeh, who was editor of Iran’s Etelaat Newspaper when the shah was deposed in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, told AFP.
“I was not very fond of the shah – that’s the least you could say – but I cried today. When Alireza Pahlavi committed suicide, it was as if the son of every Iranian had committed suicide,” he said.
KARACHI: Making a veiled criticism levelled at the PML-N-led government in Punjab, Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain has asked Punjab Governor Latif Khosa to use his constitutional position to curb incidents of crimes and improve the overall law and order situation in the country’s largest province.
Mr Hussain said this while talking to the newly appointed governor of Punjab over the telephone during the latter’s visit to the MQM headquarters, commonly known as Nine Zero, here on Sunday.Governor Khosa, a Pakistan People’s Party stalwart, along with Sindh ministers Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq and Ayaz Soomro reached the MQM headquarters where they was accorded a warm welcome. He held a meeting with the senior leadership of the MQM and also spoke to Mr Hussain over the telephone.
Mr Hussain congratulated the governor on his new assignment and expressed the hope that he would play his role to curb the incidents of crimes as well as kidnapping for ransom and injustices with women.
HANGU: At least three people were killed and four others injured in an ambush on the vehicle of former nazim Pir Ameer Faisal on Sunday, police said.
Hangu District Police Officer (DPO), Abdur Rashid, told Daily Times that two motorcyclists opened indiscriminate fire on the vehicle of Ameer Faisal as a result of which his father Pir Kamal Hussain, nephew Asim Mahmood and gunman Noor Khan were killed, while four others, Nadir, Niamatullah, Syed Anwar and Akhtar Mahmood, suffered injuries. The former nazim escaped unhurt in the incident, he added. Locals said the former nazim, a noted political figure, was on way to a bazaar when the terrorists opened fire on his vehicle near vegetable market on Hangu-Tal Road. The DPO said police arrested one of the attackers, identified as Ghani, after a hot chase. He claimed that Ghani was a terrorist and wanted by the district police in connection with several terrorist activities in the district.
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani took serious notice of the honour killing incident of a teenage girl, who was electrocuted by her family, for falling in love with a man they did not approve of, police said on Sunday. The prime minister ordered police to immediately submit a report on the killing, his office said. Elders and the family of Saima Bibi, 17, decided after a meeting of a village council, or panchayat, that her punishment for shaming the family should be death, police said. “There are signs of torture and burns on her neck, back and hands which are most probably caused by electrocution,” said the police official, Zahoor Rabbani, from Bahawalpur district, where the alleged killing took place. Bibi’s death appeared to be what is known as an honour killing. They are common in rural areas where, under centuries-old tribal customs, getting married without permission of male relatives or having sex outside marriage is deemed a serious slight to the honour of the family or the tribe.
By Saeed Minhas
Islamabad: Azerbaijan will continue to support Pakistan’s fair stand on Kashmir issue at all international foras and hope that UN would try to resolve this longstanding issue between Pakistan and its neighbouring country as per its mandate, says Charge d’affaires of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Pakistan, Mr. Dashgin Shikarov.
In an exclusive sitting with Daily Times, the soft spoken Azeri envoy spoke at length on issues ranging from relationship between Pakistan and his country besides shedding some light on his country’s concerns regarding Armenian occupation of his lands, developments in Afghanistan, right to access nuclear options, role of Russia in new world order and the huge potential of his country with regard to the energy requirements of the regional and international community.
RIYADH: A prominent Saudi health expert warned against the growing trend of consanguineous marriages in Saudi Arabia, saying that the practice increases the chances of recessive gene disorders in children.
Dr. Salwa A. F. Al-Hazza, chief of the Ophthalmology Department at King Faisal Specialist Hospital, called on government agencies, NGOs and the general public to discourage first-cousin marriages in the interest of Saudi society.
Al-Hazza was speaking on the topic of innovation in health care, at the second session of the 5th Global Competitiveness Forum on Sunday in Riyadh. She said that the biomedical research has shown that the consanguineous marriage increases the risk of genetic disorders.
“This presents challenges to us,” said Al-Hazza, who was joined by four panelists in that session.